Archive for December, 2010

‘Demo-Lition’ – The Whole Story

Posted in University Work (Old) with tags , , , , , , , , on December 28, 2010 by Adam Broome

Introduction

The following post details the story of my artefact based on the ‘Demo-Lition’ protest march that occurred in early November 2010. I was at the march myself to create a documentary that would explore what I already knew about the genre, and also aid in Source TV and my own Professional Experience module. However, the march infamously turned sour, and was to become to first of many student protests in London that turned to rioting and violence.

Part One: Conception, Planning and Creation

So, it’s taken more or less the entire first term to create this artefact. Early on in the term, I noticed the Students Union at Coventry University were getting awfully excited about some sort of march taking place down in London. The march was a protest against proposals to raise tuition fees, and it was going to be called ‘Demo-Lition’. The title came from the idea that students would turn up in JCB-esque garb, for a peaceful protest to show the government our stance on their proposals. This was something I knew nothing about – I’m not political at the best of times. But the end of term 3 had forced me to make a hard choice – a choice between studying documentary or formats production in term 4. Ultimately I chose formats (and without regrets I might add), but this however meant I was on the lookout to do my own personal re-sit of 111MC in term 4 – that is, to create a documentary of my own, unimpeded and unrestricted by the university’s module guidelines. I go on the principle that best knowledge is acquired through own experience, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity to explore the medium of documentary on my own.

Some of you may have already seen the finished artefact. What we have here is an abject lesson in what a documentary looks like when the producer went out and had no idea what he wanted the final style to be. I knew I wanted to document the protest march, but had very little ideas in the way of specifics. I wanted to record the events of the day – that seemed pretty simple, just point and shoot and record what you see. But then, of course, I would absolutely have to interview students and get their voices into my artefact, so that there was some deeper purpose to my creation.

The real shambles started when Source TV started to get involved. Having signed up to Source TV early in the year, it appeared that the SU wanted this march to be filmed. ‘Quite a lot’ of students were predicted to take part, and it was a major event during the term that the SU were involved in. I told Source TV and the SU that I was already making a film, and my film subsequently became ‘the film’ that Source TV were going to produce… resting entirely on my shoulders alone. Then, the university unintentionally got involved by asking me to create a piece called ‘What Matters To Me’ – an artefact for 260MC that would no doubt be linked to this artefact, even though the march would occur 3 days after the deadline for that project.

But one large chunk of this story came from a visitor to Source TV called Johnny Rickard – a man who asked for help to film a showreel for him in a makeshift TV studio. This project is still ongoing. However, upon hearing my plans to interview students at the mach, he was quick to jump on board with ideas. The general ‘gist’ was that he could use the interviews for his own showreel (as add-ons), and I could use the interviews for my documentary. It seemed like a great opportunity for us both. What’s more, Rickard also proposed to secure an interview with Michael Heseltine – a well-known politician from the 1980s.

Part Two: Preparation

I gave a long thought about what equipment I would be taking on-site. I figured that the worst-case scenario was that a full-blown riot would erupt, and what would be the plan if such an event occurred. Having been inducted into the Z1 cameras, which I was using quite a lot at the time, it was tempting to take one of the ‘big ones’ for high quality. This came with a rather large problem however – if I needed to get the hell out of dodge, the camera would slow me down. A bigger camera would also be harder to protect. I knew I’d be liable for any damage to equipment, so ultimately I decided upon the smaller-scale PDX10 cameras we’d used last year. This came with it’s own problem – a huge black box for protection purposes. I quickly made the decision that if this was going to happen, I would either leave the box on the bus, or at my room in Coventry. On the day, it was left in my room.

I needed to be selective with my equipment – there would not be time to set up tricky shots or interesting panoramic views. Nor did I have the inclination to walk all over London with tripods and boom poles all by myself. With thought, I chose only one other piece of tech – a reporter’s mic, used for interviews to increase sound quality. This proved to be a very wise move – the sound quality was much better with this mic than the ones that came with the camera. However, as it turned out, some shots required diegetic noise, meaning I had to switch between the microphones regularly through ‘input 1’ (the only way I really knew how to get both mics on stereo quickly). By the end of the day, I was connoisseur of swapping XLR cables into the Input 1 socket. Believe.

As the day grew nearer, actions started to happen. I got my ticket on the bus. Rickard was set to go on the bus with me, but realised he was in London that day anyway, and so we decided to meet up at the start of the march (Horse Guards Avenue) at approximately 11:30am, fifteen minutes before the march started. Simple plan. However, on the downside he seemed unable to secure the interview with Heseltine – just as well really, me and my borderline-palmcorder camera probably would not have done him justice. This was a project about the march, not about politicians. Given that the interview was to occur ways away from the march route, it brought a few niggling problems with regards timing arrangements to the table. Given what actually happened on the day, it’s actually quite lucky the interview didn’t happen! The idea for Rickard’s showreel went from ‘Heseltine’ to ‘politicians’ to ‘students’ to, ultimately, ‘whoever we can find’. Gotta love media production.

I decided to refresh myself with my equipment, and made sure I was thoroughly ready to dance through hell and high water with my equipment. The night before the final day, I realised the XLR cable was ridiculously long for what I needed. However, I was to transport the PDX10 in a small paper ‘Virgin Media’ bag, which I’d gotten with my recently acquired BlackBerry phone. The bag was juts the right size to cover the big tangled mess of XLR cable-work at the bottom. Providing I could keep the actual reporter’s mic near the top, I could film, interview, and slot my hand through a bag handle to keep all the wires together and hang them from my wrist. Haphazard, but practical for moving quickly around London with all this kit. What I could leave in Coventry, I left. The bus schedule was not certain, so I decided to keep everything that left Coventry on my person at all times.

Finally, I went back to my old tutor in documentary, to ask for his advice on approaching this event. He gave me some final pointers, which helped a little in my understanding. He did clarify that I should understand the difference between ‘documentary’ and ‘reportage’. I didn’t now what he was getting at at the time, but looking back on the final piece, you can clearly see the point when a point-of-view documentary suddenly becomes a vox-pops style clip with a reporter. Upon mentioning Heseltine, I seemed to spark off something in my lecturer, so made a swift exit and let him be. It was all down to me now.

Part Three: Heading To War

The first opening interviews of my documentary were extracts from my 260MC artefact. They showed the views of some of my friends on my course – specifically, what they thought about the cuts and the Student Loans Company. This was good practice for what my interview ‘approach’ would be like on the day. But for this side-project alone, I knew I had to do research. As mentioned, I knew little about the subject at the start of the term, and I knew I needed some knowledge about the proposals if I was going to interview people about it. I did just that, and used the internet as a means I get some sound intel. I didn’t focus on statistics too much – I just wanted a general outlook so my arguments could become more neutral / flexible. The way I saw it, I was there to report and document, and nothing more.

After my reading, from what I could make out the fuss was about a cap – Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg had promised to abolish tuition fees completely. However, now he was in power, he’d taken up the stance with David Cameron in active support of raising tuition fees. Under Labour rule, the UK education system had a cap, meaning universities could not charge any more than a certain amount (‘capped’ at about £3,500 a year for university). If the cap got lifted, universities were free to charge what they wanted, with estimates reaching around £9,000 a year. The ploy of ‘recession’ was being used as the reason behind the cuts – funding to education would be cut because of the ‘credit crunch’, and as a result, the universities would need to charge more to students to compensate for the lack of government funding. If college students were feeling left out, Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) was also being scrapped.

A lot of my friends started to show interest around about this time. Several colleagues also saw that going on this march would, at the very least, be an experience. Needing cut-away shots for my 260MC work, I also met Robert Wilson, the head of Coventry University’s SU, during the process of painting the shirts and creating the banners. He was a useful contact to have – he would have much influence over the organization of the event on the day. Out of all the shots I took, the tracking shot of all the shirts was something I particularly liked. It was used better in the 260MC artefact – eventually, having difficulty knowing where to include these shots in the final piece, they served to bridge the gap between the initial interviews and the footage of the actual day. I felt some of the effect was lost here.

Part 4: The Day Of The March

So there I am. Half eight in the morning outside Allan Berry, a Virgin Media bag in hand. Inside it, atop a gnarled bundle of cable, a PDX10 camera and a microphone. First estimates of the day’s turnout have come in – 20,000 students are expected to be coming down to London today. The bus is expected to arrive at Horse Guard’s Avenue at quarter past eleven, giving me fifteen minutes to find Rickard and get rolling with the interviews.

As you can see from the footage, most of the morning consisted of ‘rallying the troops’ as it were. The march started at Horse Guard’s Avenue, and would then head downwards along the Thames, past Big Ben and The Houses Of Parliament, and would culminate in a rally point outside 30 Millbank, A.K.A ‘Millbank Tower’ – the Conservative Party HQ. From there, the march would edge a little further on. We were given strict warning that the buses would pick us up from the Victoria Embankment at 4:15pm. If I wasn’t back by then, I was finding my own way back. As it transpires though, two of my mates had hired out a big Z1 camera, and were heading down by train to film a documentary of their own. Friendly competition had appeared from nowhere.

The seats on the buses had completely sold out. There are a lot of students around. Robert Wilson takes to the stage with a megaphone and blurts out a speech that readies everyone for the day’s events. I catch this on film, but realise the zoom lens on the PDX10 is a bit stiff. I record the sound whilst I zoom in and out of a blurry-faced SU president, meaning in the end I had to use cut-away shots for this part of the documentary. I get the shot into focus before the speech is finished, and whilst quietly chastising myself, and make doubly sure that I am able to zoom and focus my PDX10 before I board a nearby bus with my fellow companions.

The journey on the bus is interesting to say the least. I talk to my friends for a little while, before finally getting to chat to people sitting in front and behind. The girl in front is a nice student who has ideas about how to pass the time – a wonderful talent that would soon be realised when we hit London. The girl behind, more importantly, was a very opinionated girl who fancied herself a ‘V For Vendetta’ style revolutionary. It was almost love at first sight. The first interview was bagged, for the price of a £1 newspaper she was promoting. We did, however, decide to do the interview whilst on the march.

The bus set off at half past nine, and stopped by a service station en route. At quarter past eleven, we had reached London, but only the outskirts. A nervous Rickard phoned up asking of my whereabouts. Evidently, we were now in complete improvisation territory. We had no idea when the bus would arrive at Horse Guard’s Avenue. All we knew is that in less than an hour, the march would begin. The girl behind me had a contact in the march already, relaying events at the start back to her. This was a useful tool informing people on the bus what was happening at the place where we should have been by now.

On the M1 down to London, we had effectively ‘raced’ with several other buses, showing busloads full of students heading to the same place we were. After about the fifteenth bus though, I for one certainly started to get a bit edgy. How many were actually heading down here again? Rickard reported that same thing the girl behind was getting – Horse Guard’s Avenue was effectively buried under a sea of students. 20,000 was quickly reported to have gone up slightly to the SU folk at the front of the bus. Now, the number was more like 50,000. The important of this little project of mine just went up slightly. Unfortunately, I managed to consistently miss camera shots of the other buses (one blurry shot did show reflections were a big problem however). I did manage to get shots of people practicing their chants on the bus though – looking back on the footage, I realised some of the chants we invented did indeed end of getting chanted on the actual march, which added an odd ‘continuity’ effect to my piece.

Forty-five minutes later, and we’re stuck somewhere in London. Traffic is in absolute gridlock, the student sat next to me is getting angry, and then a bad message comes through – a rather agitated Rickard now informs me that the march has started. That’s it – for a documentary that charts this march, I’ve missed the start of it. I head over the to the front of the bus, and politely have a few words with my fellow SU reps and the bus driver. I ask if, since we’re not at all moving, and are located near the pavement, if we could possibly get off the bus and head to the march by foot. It really, really would be quicker today. The bus driver seems quite happy to oblige. I turn around to my fellow students on the bus:

“So, who wants to get off this bus and head to the march on foot?”

A resounded roar of gratitude confirms my own rallying of the troops has been a success. Students are on their feet and at the doors before I’ve even got back to my seat. We disembark onto the streets of Piccadilly, with no idea where we are, where the march is, or which direction we need to go. We walk in one given direction, and spot others in the same plight as us. We quickly join forces, and walk together into the biggest urban jungle in the UK.

Part 5: When The Going Gets Tough…

This was the point when the camera really started rolling. We were already off track in an effective wilderness where anything could happen. Getting to the river, finding the march, finding the rendezvous point to get home – it was all fair game at this point. We walked collectively in the general direction of where we thought the river was, and I got some good footage of our improvised march as we strode on.

It was at this point when I seized the opportunity to grab the interview with the girl on the bus. Predictably, she was quick to raise hell on camera in a flurry of colourful language. Annoyingly, in the final frames I walked into the sun and cast a giant shade right over her. The sun was rather low today, and I quickly realised I’d have to watch my step so as not to sabotage any shots.

With the first interview over, the woman disappeared into London. We walked through a park to a large open area, asking people if they knew where the South Bank was. All we could decipher was that we were close, although where we were exactly was almost impossible to tell. A rather irritated Rickard started to call, at this point having waited for the best part of two hours, wondering what the hell was going on. I was short on answers, considering we had no idea where the hell we were.

Moments later, however, we caught a glimpse of a large band of surging people through an archway. We ran straight for it, and indeed, if the banners and trumpets hadn’t given it away, we had found the march. Everyone, including myself, pushed our way into the manic heap, and quickly got swallowed up and separated within. Keeping the camera rolling, I looked for my next interview. I did manage to bag one with a male student, but I felt he didn’t have much to say, and thus I cut this from the final edit.

Upon sprawling around the mass of people and noise (which to some extent reminded me of a music festival), I caught a glimpse of Big Ben in the distance. I contact Rickard and arranged a meeting there. The precise spot was at Westminster Station, a subway entrance opposite the Houses Of Parliament. Having lost my fellow companions, I stuck with the march and headed downwards.

At this point in the documentary, that awkward silence occurs, as the march heads into the shade of some high buildings. I found some other Coventry students, but they were not the ones I had come with. Then, the march stopped completely. The chanting stopped, and a rather serious still seemed to fall upon the march. But I knew I had to get to Westminster Station soon, and realising the march had hit a stand-still, and left the mass of people onto a pavement and ran as fast as I dared down towards Big Ben.

This part was particularly dangerous. The march broke down the barriers holding people in place, sending people sprawling across the entire street. Even the pavements were blocked. I ran until I could go no further, and then just filmed what I saw. As you can see, what I saw mostly was a fire up ahead at the Houses Of Parliament, a line of policemen being booed at, and a large group of drums being bashed about. I waited for a good ten minutes, before deciding to push my way through. I asked a nearby officer where Westminster Station was. I was heading on the right track, but when she ‘wished me luck’, I had doubts I even be able to find the place.

As luck would have it, I was on the right side of the street. I saw an underground sign above and pushed my through to that. Parliament Square was a mess – this was the moment that it hit me. 20,000 or 50,000, the number did not matter. Fires were going off, people had scaled anything and everything. People were shouting, drums were big bashed around, and already the floor was littered with broken banners and paper. Stuff was going down. Worst of all, despite my best efforts, no Rickard was in sight. I scoured to no avail, eventually deciding to call him. However, all I could hear was noise on the other end. Hence, I turned to the art of texting. When I got no reply, I was left in an awkward predicament.

Part 6 – Running

I waited for about ten minutes. Phone calls were out of the question, and Rickard seemed to have fallen out of contact. Was he on his way? Was he just across the street? Ultimately, I could not see him. His last known location was exactly where I stood. There were thousands of students everywhere. The situation was bleak. But ever the optimist, I saw some students sat on a wall. I asked one for an interview, to which he silently nodded his head towards some of his friends who quickly leapt of the wall and broke into a run behind me.

This was a shot I particularly liked. I ran with the students as I filmed, with the one I asked to interview turning up to hold his banner as he ran backwards. The students were running to circumnavigate the hold-up in the march. To the side, protesters were being directed away from the river, into the centre of London. After the ‘rush’ and in the same shot, I turned around the saw a wall of people behind me with banners chanting. I walked backwards as I filmed, trusting there were no banana skins on the floor (or lamp-posts). This was the moment when I really began to feel an emotional connection to what I was filming – I was there to do a job, no doubt. But for some reason not even known to myself, this was the point when I felt the most empathy for the plight of the students who were here.

Having respectively already done my tour of London centre, I walked back to the march, and off ahead towards Millbank. Surprisingly, there was hardly anyone down this far. Evidently, students had congregated at Parliament Square. That was why the march had come to a standstill, and why the police were diverting people away. A little way down, and I felt at a bit of a loose end. Then, much to my alarm, Rickard replied, stating he was near Westminster Station by a load of riot vans. At this point I had a choice – call off the meeting with apologies, and continue on alone, or continue to try and find this needle in a haystack. The way I saw it, the ‘story’ of my artefact was back outside Big Ben anyway. And thus, I turned and ran back the way I’d come. Had I gone down a little further, this artefact would have turned out rather different.

Never in my life had I felt so much like Jason Bourne. Running through hundred and people as all hell seemingly broke loose all around. Not caring about the location – just the mission. Where the bloody hell was this man? I went straight back to the subway station, and asked a nearby bobby where the riot vans were. Apparently, no riot vans had been called. I stormed over to a nearby statue of Winston Churchill, and sent what was to be perhaps the final text. I was there, this is what I was wearing, and I saw no riot vans. To pass the time, I tried to get another interview, but the student declined.

Then, success! Rickard was never at Westminster Station, he was on a bridge that ran alone the other side of Big Ben. Now, I was on the wrong side of the march. I puckered up and fought my way across the river of students and managed to find a glimpse of a riot van. Barging out of the mess, I quickly found Rickard – standing there, as he said, between four riot vans. Mission complete.

When I first approached, I felt it necessary to give him a big hug. I was so relieved to have found him, and that this whole operation hadn’t been a waste of his time. Rickard seemed (as you would expect) slightly annoyed and anxious to get on with the filming, which we quickly got into. But he had no idea… no idea, that if I hadn’t found him within those last ten minutes, I would have been liable to just forget the whole thing and go solo. It was two o clock when we’d finally managed to find each other – two and a half hours after we had agreed (primarily courtesy of the SU bus). The important thing is that we had succeeded in meeting up. The moral of the story, known all to well to someone like myself – sh*t happens.

Part 7 – The Vox Pops

So, at this point, the documentary becomes a reportage – or rather, a showreel for Johnny Rickard. He’s already got two students lined up from Bangor University. Great! …unfortunately, within ten seconds you knew this student was going to be as dull as hell. Looking back on the footage, however, he does make some good points. His friend does not.

Rickard has some others lined up, but all have subsequently disappeared in the time it has taken me to find him. He looks rather lost as he stares at the march gently drifting ahead before him. I’m quick to show him how it’s done – I lead him straight into the fray, and now with added confidence, start asking all and sundry if they want their views aired on ‘Source TV’. We get all sorts:

  • A girl with fake blood all over face – an interview humorously interrupted by a guitar player half way through (which I kept for comedic value).
  • A girl dressed as a wizard – sadly, in the middle of making her only interesting point, she calls out to her friends, ruining her piece.
  • A group of 6th-formers – a great interview which showed Rickard’s ability to antagonise, as well as showing the views of those not at university yet. This lasted twenty minutes, but also showed Rickard’s ability to use a reporter’s mic was not so good, and antagonising students did not fit the overall tone of my artefact too well. Then I stood in the wrong place, casting yet another shadow over the shot once again. Oops.
  • A clown – some complete nut case which, although a hilarious interview it made, had no real purpose or message. It is arguable whether this should have been included in the final piece or not, but at thirty minutes already, I was as harsh as I dared with editing.
  • A grim reaper – a man who used a lot of acronyms (namely, HE and FE), meaning his points were generally lost to anyone outside academia. He was the only one to make Rickard laugh though, which I thought was a good moment.
  • Two dance students – leading on from the end of his interview with the 6th-formers, Rickard asks these two to describe David Cameron in two words. Writes itself really.

Half way through filming these, I meet my rivals who have just arrived by train. They seem anxious to head off somewhere – no idea where. Then, I meet my companions, who have only just arrived at the square. They have been stuck in the body of the march for well over an hour and a half, making sluggish progress. I went off with Rickard to get more footage, agreeing to try and meet them to head back to the bus (picking us up at Victoria Embankment – wherever that was). Some other ‘dude’ also asks for an interview, thinking I’m from Virgin Media because of my bag. He quickly leaves disappointed.

Half an hour later, with the crowds in Parliament Square dispersing, and sun getting lower and lower, Rickard and myself head down the river. We leave a trashed square in the shadow of Big Ben – a telling mark of what has occurred this day. Much like last time, the riverbank is deserted. Then, at the furthest point I got to last time, we suddenly hit a blockade. The march has been diverted across a bridge to the other side of the river, which I’m quite keen not to do, since in just over an hour the bus will be picking me up on this side of the river. Rickard and myself stand around for a few moments trying to decide what to do for these last forty minutes or so. I’m determined to make each minute count. It isn’t over until it’s over. Then, I get a text, from my mum of all people. Apparently, there’s a good reason why they don’t want the march to reach Millbank Tower. I suddenly get the feeling I know exactly where my competitors went to in such a hurry…

Part 8 – Hitting The Fan

Rickard uses i-‘tech’ to confirm the location of Millbank Tower. Truth is, it’s about one minute down the bank. We side step the barricade and proceed onwards. The shot you see on the film is exactly the moment I arrive at Millbank Tower – it was not staged. My mum’s text told me it’s on Sky News – Millbank Tower has been besieged by students, who have effectively stormed the building and smashed the place up inside. That’s not the half of it – moments after arriving on site, a sum of approximately a hundred students appear on the roof.

Rickard wants to do a report, and quickly sets up. Only a few words in, however, he gets interrupted by a rather angry woman, who seems very ‘fuelled’ and in defence of what is going on. In contrast to this, we manage to bag only one other interview outside Millbank – that of a student who is against what is occurring. The juxtaposition and varying views were a nice summary of the events, allowing me to leave Rickard gawping up at the sky and go about finding cut aways.

And cut-aways there are plenty. I have difficulty recollecting which ones I used at the end – a zoom-out shot of the students on the roof (which, when viewed closely, you’ll see actually captures the moment that infamous fire extinguisher gets thrown off the roof). There’s a shot of the smashed windows, at which point a banner is thrown at the riot police. There’s a shot of smashed windows on the floors above, a shot of students huddled together looking scared. Most impressively, I got the shot of students actually ascending the stairs into the building itself, which I was wary of using in case I got people into trouble (but which proved too interesting a shot).

I tried to get an establishing shot of Millbank Tower as well. But the one that stood out for is, as before, the tracking shot. Just like the shot of the shirts back in Coventry, I have a tracking shot of all the students aligned on the roof, militant and proud of it. Upon leaving the devastation behind, I quickly catch a glimpse of several riots vans charging towards the building at full speed. I very nearly missed this shot – that I captured it demonstrated that  upon viewing the vans speeding towards me up ahead, I changed an XLR cable, activated the camera, and sorted out the zoom and focus before the vans drove past. So much effort I almost didn’t bother – but so glad I did.

Part 9 – Evacuation

I can’t think of a better word for it. I quickly make a rendezvous with my companions – ironically right next to where I met Rickard just over two hours ago. Rickard luckily knows where Victoria Embankment is – he takes us straight to where masses of coaches are caught in yet another traffic jam. Other news is in also – my competitors are indeed at Millbank. They’re still at Millbank, intent on filming the full-blown riots in all their bloody glory, with a camera twice as expensive and heavy as my own. I feel like I metaphorically pass on the torch at this point. It’s all their show now.

But, not having fully finished this story, I say goodbye to Rickard as I spot the shirts of the Coventry University SU. I get several shots of our final walk back – the SU wisely make us walk past Westminster Abbey to avoid the gridlock. En route, we pass what can only be described as a small militia of police. I was going to take some shots on the bus on the way back (maybe even some of the service station), but in all honesty, I didn’t think they’d add anything. I was tired. The march was over.

I tried to get a final interview with our SU president, but he was busy right up until the end, meaning it never happened. The next time I saw him was one week later, at the All-Students Meeting (ASM), which I filmed strictly for Source TV, but decided Aaron Porter’s speech during this meeting was a fitting end to my artefact. Moreover, I had actually filmed this myself as part of Source TV as well, so I could use in my artefact without stepping on anyone’s toes.

Part 10 – The Edit

As anyone in Media Production knows, after all the fun of the fair, there is little left to do but sit down and edit your footage into the final piece. Unfortunately for me, I had only one editing suite open to me – that of a out-dated version of Avid in my University. Not wanting to repeat mistakes of the past, I vowed to find myself an alternative before editing even started. Two weeks later, and I have Final Cut Pro on my Macbook, which is the first editing suite I’ve come across that has actually made editing fun.

First, I imported the files, and then placed them on the timeline in the sequence I wanted. Then, par usual, I cropped all the really crap bits out, and narrowed two hours of footage into forty-five minutes. I thought this was too long, and did subsequent edits as I saw fit. Titles were an issue – they looked unprofessional, but given I know nothing about graphics, I figured they’d have to do. Alternate fonts and colours did not help. I referenced Rickard as ‘budding journalist’ as an in-joke.

The effects were kept to simple fade-in/fade-out transitions, as most of the other effects at my disposal looked rather amateur as well. The longest part, as always, was the music, which I had to find online first, before importing it, editing it, and normalizing it. I thought the quiet piano worked well with the contrasting chaos seen on film. I remembered to include credits (which I forget on the first export). I credited all who had helped directly with the creation of this artefact, but realised after the second export that I’d forgot to credit one other person – me!

Finally, I came to exporting it, only to find a 6GB file waiting to be uploaded. An unforeseen problem had occurred – there was no way this was going online unless I paid for it. I asked around for advise, and learned the art of compression – a simple thing that converts big files into small ones without affecting quality. Why videos aren’t automatically compressed is unknown, but evidently my Macbook was designed with all sorts of format-adjusting and compressing tools for media files (you can even convert music files in iTunes!). At 1GB, it was still too bog for most websites. Youtube and Vimeo were way out. I eventually managed to find Megavideo, a site specially designed for videos like mine. I uploaded the video in earnest – it took over five hours to upload. Sadly, Megavideo seems to have taken out some of the quality of the artefact. However, the argument is pointless, as this seems to be the only place I have access to online where it can be broadcast for free.

The Finished Article

http://www.megavideo.com/?v=62YSJDT2

(Get comfy – it clocks in at 30 minutes)

Evaluation

Overall, I’m very happy with this artefact. I know it’s not perfect, but it wasn’t meant to be. This was me re-doing 111MC the way I wanted to do it, without having the restrictions of University modules. It was also me compensating and exploring the realm of documentary, since I chose to do the formats module.

I have learned so much from this project, it’s hard to know where to begin. In terms of the genre, I’ve approached and used many different styles. I have now produced a medley of interviews in controlled and uncontrolled environments. I’ve done them alone, and I’ve done them with another person. I now know the difference between documentary and reportage, and I also now have experience in how to approach the two different forms ‘in the field’. Socially, I knew I was up to the task, and I believed I proved myself in bringing out a point in (almost) everyone I interviewed before meeting Rickard.

Other skills I have developed are clearly navigational skills. In those hectic moments on Parliament Square, you can find out a lot about yourself (not wanting to go all ‘Freud’ on everyone). I’m glad I found Rickard, and I’m glad I didn’t walk off in a huff. I’m also glad he didn’t either. I could tell at the end (from the sheer exhaustion) that we’d done a lot of work in the two hours we’d been able to get interviews. Of course, had the bus turned up on time, things would have been different, but like a military operation, the situation was largely flexible. It was all down to me to create this artefact, and me alone. Looking back on what I’ve filmed, things could have gone a serious lot worse. From leaving the bus at Piccadilly right through to Millbank, the day was completeley improvised. I think this documentary is all the more interesting because of it.

Simple skills such as swapping XLR cables really fast have also been developed. Not quite social or technical, but definitely something that will come in use. I can’t say my white balance skills were developed much – wrong place for trying to hold paper up and focus lenses.

Most of all, though, was what I learnt at the editing stage. I learnt about file formats, compression, re-compression, conversion, and even more so, the software used to do these things. By sheer determination and exploration I managed to upload a 1GB video, which took almost one week alone to arrange.

So, all in all, in terms of evaluation, did it complete what I wanted it to? It certainly developed me in various parts of the media. It gave me professional experience, and it gave Source TV an artefact to show. It charts my own personal experiences during my time at the march quite accurately. It shows the opinions of those in it, with added ‘panache’ before and after the march itself. Overall, I would have expected nothing more. To professionals, it may seem shambolic, but therein lies the beauty. I am no professional – this was a project to further better my understanding of an aspect of the media industry I knew little about, but had an interest in. This is more or less the way I wanted it to turn out, so I will say I completed my mission on just about every level I’d have dared to go.

Things to improve upon? Well, there are plenty. Having just watched it again, one month after completion, I find myself skipping some parts. Further editing could have been done – I find myself looking towards the shots on the bus, which were practically audio pieces. Some feedback I was given stated that the start was not interesting – I’m inclined to agree. Despite the fact that my friends made solid points relating to this artefact, perhaps opening my film with them was a bad idea. But where else to put them? Similarly, one person said the film ended not with a bang, but a whimper. Same thing applies – Porter’s speech was very relevant. He was at the march himself, and did a speech. That would have been a much better shot – had the bus turned up on time, I’m sure I would have filmed it.

I’m perplexed to know why I didn’t fade the audio in and out with the piano pieces. I knew how to do them – surely I wasn’t saving time? It’s taken me months to get to this stage anyway. The cutting of corners may not have seemed so bad on Final Cut, yet on Megavideo, in some places the piano just stops, making the piece look amateur. Only the Adam of November knows what happened there. I’d already explored the ‘fade-to-black-with-boom-noise’ effect in my 260MC artefact previous, yet the effect is less effective this time round I think.

Favourite parts? I really like the way diegetic noise fades in from the title. You see the title fade in after the ‘thunder boom’, and the next thing you hear is a man on a megaphone. It was a well chosen opening sound – relevant, and somehow enticing you and placing you straight into my shoes at the start of the day. My favourite bit, however, was the first shot of the march. As the interview with the female student ends, the piano tune comes into play. This tune continues as the shot fades into the view of the march. I feel there’s something quiet powerful in this shot – as I mention, the contrast between the chaotic surroundings and the quiet piano makes for an uncomfortable juxtaposition. My own analysis – the piano is a sad tune, spelling defeat. The emotion I feel is that the students know they’ve lost before this documentary has even begun. The emotion is quick to change to that of anger, after only one shot onwards (a shot initially cut from the final edit, but included because the transition was disorientating), we get that shot of the crowd booing the police – needless to say, a shot I was quite happy with.

Other good shots I liked included that first shot of the Houses Of Parliament – the smoke of fire burning upwards, obscuring my attempted shot of the UK flag flying. The smoke added rather than detracted. Then, my shot of Big Ben, and as I pan out, the big-brother camera right next to it (you couldn’t make that shot up). The carrot and horse-demonstrator thing is just as surreal when I see it now. I still think the unintended humour works well in some of the interviews – the student from Bangor making a serious point, while a plume of smoke bellows upwards behind him still brings a smile to me.

If you manage to see the cuts I chose not include below, you may see some of Rickard’s more antagonising moments with some of our interviewees. This makes the start of that first interview outside Millbank make me laugh out loud almost every time (she really cuts him down to size!). I’ve no idea whether she really was a student union president – it worries me if she was. But just to see Rickard left speechless is enough to successfully tie up that ‘sub-plot’  of my artefact, although as I say, the effect is perhaps different for the casual viewer, as most of Rickard’s annoyances were removed from the final cut.

The Shots That Never Were

This is the link to the best of the out-takes and the unused shots from this project. Most have been referred to – the mistakes speak for themselves, including reflective glass, shadows cast by the sun, and some funny interviews that I felt just didn’t add anything to the final piece, but are entertaining nonetheless.

 

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Oops, It Appears I’ve Missed A Question

Posted in University Work (Old) with tags , on December 15, 2010 by Adam Broome

Consider the ways in which production companies use formats to make money. How would your format make you money?

We were given four questions a while ago to guide us with our blogs. Everyone sort of forgot about them, until one of the members of the TV format production group kindly reminded us all. A blessing confirmation to some, whilst others fought off heart attacks. Myself however, appear to have only answered three: that is, the ingredients of a successful format, why did I make the formats I chose, and what is the future of format production?

Akin to that third question, I was also asked to apply my own formats to the web and explain how it would work in modern / future broadcasting. As mentioned, predicting the future is almost impossible. But if I had to take a guess, I would say my radio show would not work on the internet – there are those who listen to radio because they enjoy doing so, and the majority of everyone else does not. Morning shows are successful because people commute to work. Other than that, radio is dying out, which is why the audio is often broadcast with images on the internet. My radio show would remain within that niche – people who listen to the radio would enjoy it much more than those who didn’t usually. That’s not because it’s a bad show or anything – it’s just that I would consider radio a niche broadcasting style now – people are far too preoccupied with the internet nowadays.

However, that final question stated at the top, regarding how businesses make money from formats – generally, the fact that they are cheap to make and easily repeatable make them big money earners to start with. You can produce a show that get replayed over and over again, and you’ve cut most of your running costs already. We play ‘psychology’ with the audience and bring them into a comfort zone, which we achieve by replaying a show that the audience are familiar with. They know the rules, they know what to expect, and on most occasions they can probably predict what is going to happen. Hell, they can even play along at home if they choose to – they wont win anything, but they wont lose anything either. A wonderful way to gamble.

On this topic, as a side note I feel it relevant to note something I’m watching at the moment – a TV series called Twin Peaks from the early 1990s. Now, this is no way a formats production, but it does incorporate several factors of a format. For example, cheap production values – the entire series is set in the town of the title, and buildings and locations are often repeated. All the characters / actors are all the same, and as the narrative progresses, the audience get to learn more about the town and characters, drawing them into a comfort zone. You could apply this to quite a few sitcoms, it’s just that I’m watching Twin Peaks at the moment and noticed the slight connection – even crime thrillers can use repetition as a way of helping to sell a show (which evidently works considering Twin Peaks was a highly successful TV series).

The formats I’ve been involved in producing fit all the aforementioned types of categories, and therefore seem like ideal candidates. I feel that there was a bit too much repetition in the rounds within Who’s Who – perhaps some variety in the content would have suited an all-round show better. In terms of making money though, that factor largely depends on how much interaction there is with the audience. In both cases of my formats, audience interaction is rather minimal. The shows advertised future contestants, but the audience could not vote, or participate in any other way on either format – only to be a future guest on a future episode. Since formats is primarily about making money, it seems I may have missed a trick here.

However, both shows had a wide appeal, opening up a large audience, which would serve them well if they did end up on the internet. After all, a show aimed at a wide audience broadcast to a wide population cannot falter much in terms of distribution – it would all come down to how good the show was. I believe both of the format pieces I have produced have been of a good quality – there are certainly ideas there. With a bit of spit and polish, they could both become really great. I will attempt to incorporate my radio quiz format into my radio show in the near future (once they figure out how get the station broadcasting again that is!).

The TV Quiz Show – Reflection 3

Posted in University Work (Old) with tags , on December 15, 2010 by Adam Broome

This final reflection is mostly just my thoughts on how the presentation went. Now having seen the finished artefact myself, I can see that it has turned out really well. The editing was handled by only two people, and they worked extensively on it over the final week. Although they say they were not 100% pleased with the final product, I think everyone else is. It looks professional, and to say that the background was created during that last week (the original chromakey was unusable), I think the editors did well to make it look that good.

It was well-received in the lecture as well. A point was made about the in-jokes, but considering this artefact was always going to be shown to our friends, I think the humour worked well. The shots were ordered well, and in terms of the camera work there’s little I can falter with. The creation of this piece has been heavy going, but it’s good to see we created something at the end of it that will benefit everyone in terms of their showreels.

This is the website for the show:

http://www.wix.com/whoswhoquizshow/whodeedoo

I had no part in the production of this web site, but it shows what the original chromakey colour scheme was going to look like. It also added another level of distribution to our piece.

A Brief History Of Formats Production

Posted in University Work (Old) with tags , on December 14, 2010 by Adam Broome

I believe I read somewhere that I needed to take into account the historical context and development of formats production. Since I’m here, right or wrong I find myself with little to do tonight before the party, so I figured I’d made like a student and do a post.

We had a lecture a while back which stated that all formats originated from radio shows in the 1920s. One of the original formats were ‘mystery shows’, where contestant were able to try and guess ‘whodunnit’. We’ve managed to get from treating the audience like Poirot to things like The X Factor treating audiences like sheep. It shows just how little is expected of formats audiences today (a sign of the times, perhaps?) The context of formats production has, like all other media, changed drastically over time. We can only hope that with media converging on the internet, more engaging and ‘intelligent’ shows can become accessible once again.

Naturally, not long after the radio shows came the television format productions. Radio dominated formats throughout the 1940s and 1950s, with television then picking up the mantel all the way until the late 1980s. Formats then seemed to take a dip – it wasn’t until ITV got into trouble and The X Factor bailed them out that formats really started to take off again (even though it, as a concept, never really left).

The first television game show format was a show called Spelling Bee, which invited guests to spell complicated words. Originally it was a high-risk affair, and didn’t take off properly until the UK broadcasters merged with the US. After that, the rest as they say is history, and formats began to be seen as a good way for broadcasting companies to make money. Formats were cheap to make, and yet they attracted a wide audience. The trick was to make shows repeatable – high start-up costs, and then low production costs thereafter.

Notable format shows include Name That Tune, which was also born out of a radio show. It took off as a TV show in the 1950s, and was based around guessing a mystery song (to a certain extent incorporating factors from the mystery shows of the 1930s before it). My own radio show took elements from this classic formats concept as well – the difference is that we used correct answers to improve the chances of winning.

Speaking of my own productions, I thought the second production was very similar to that of the line-up rounds in Never Mind The Buzzcocks, which has been a long-running format production of more recent times. The title of the show is a play on words – ‘Never Mind The B*llocks’ was the title of a Sex Pistols album (subsequently, their first and last). Of course, The Buzzcocks was a band from the same era. The show is heavily based around themes in music heritage – I can now understand why my radio production ‘Sixty Second Song’ should have featured questions about music. The title implies musical themes within the show, whereas the only musical tune really featured was the mystery song at the end (which wasn’t played fully anyway).

One show that did exactly what it said on the tin was Candid Camera, a show born out of the late 1950s. It started to get popular when the infamous ’empty engine’ trick was played in the 1960s. Here is another classic from the show that’s still running to this day:

This ‘pranking’ format was incorporated into further shows, one of the most successful being Beadle’s About, a show hosted by Jeremy Beadle. Noel Edmonds was also a notorious prankster from the same era. Both presenters hosted a number of formats based around playing pranks on people, and to this day shows like Punkd still use the same format. It is because formats are so easily repeatable that other shows can imitate previous ones. One could argue that to a certain extent not a lot has changed in the structure of formats since the beginning – sure, the audiences are perhaps treated differently, and different genres of formats have been explored. But the underlying trends are still there: prank, celebrity, quiz, elimination.

Beadle’s About became most popular with the infamous ‘alien’ prank, but what made Jeremy Beadle more significant was the fact that he bridged the gap between setting up pranks himself, and then hosting the show You’ve Been Framed, which was a format show developed in the 1990s, and involved audiences sending in their own videos. Today, we’d probably call most of the content of this show ‘viral videos’.

Of course, you couldn’t talk about formats of today without mentioning The X Factor, which seems to be the epitome of formats production today. As all media begins to converge on the internet, it is this formats show which will fight online content and see the official broadcasters through. It is mass-produced, pro-establishment entertainment, and a mass audience has become hooked to it. In terms of Adorno’s ‘authentic’, this is about the farthest from. Only earlier today, I was speaking to fellow lecturer about how I felt like I was in a 1960s-style movie. You know the sort, where JFK gets assassinated in the background of the main narrative, to set the context for the time in which the movie is set. That’s how powerful The X Factor is now, no exaggeration – I personally hate it with a passion, but I can rarely go through a single day as it runs without people talking about it. People you walk past on the street can be overhead discussing all the contestants. Is it just sad reality, or is it something more?

Whatever your thoughts, The X Factor is one of the most successful formats ever created. It has brought together an entire history dating back to the 1920s, and it seems that formats production has finally cracked what it has been seeking to do all these years – dominate the news, dominate the television, and dominate the mass audience. If you like conspiracy theories born of the ‘Hypodermic Needle’ model and the such, look no further.

However, since we seem to have caught up with ourselves, I feel I should just give a brief mention of some of the future formats that will be gracing our online screens in the future. Shane Dawson is an online comedian who does a show of his own name, where he plays a recurring selection of stupid and insane characters. Every episode they do different things, but the characters and set up are the same. For online users, some of the sketches are perhaps not considered as ‘cheap’ as official broadcasters would see it however.

As always, in a post like this my favourite Equals Three is around once again, now having gone (as I had predicted many a month ago) viral, and becoming one of the most-watched shows on Youtube. It features reviews of the top three viral videos of the week on Youtube respectively. It has become so popular, it’s actually merging and taking the mickey out of other shows now, making the assumption that audiences understand the context of classic viral videos AND the shows it’s mocking.

What is the future of formats? We can only find out once TV merges with the internet. My money is personally on user-generated content, but nobody can predict the future. Will radio still be the ‘place’ where formats originate from? Or is the radio going to become Youtube or some equivalent? Only time will tell.

To end with, out of Shane Dawson’s shows, I did manage to find this interactive episode where you effectively ‘played’ the narrative. It goes to show how interactive things are becoming now – the internet will open up new doors, and has the ability to change everything we know about media – formats included. This episode was special – it was a one-off, and not strictly a format. However, audience interaction is important in formats shows, and this is one way future formats could reach out to their audience:

–> But be wary, this episode did have some moments that genuinely freaked me out. It is a Halloween Special after all!

The Sonic Postcard Project

Posted in University Work (Old) with tags , , on December 13, 2010 by Adam Broome

For this project, I was assigned with the task of collecting a series of random sounds using audio-capture equipment (Marantz), and blending them together to create an artistic piece of media called a ‘Sonic Postcard’. The idea of Sonic Postcards is to create a feeling or emotion in the audience, usually specified to a certain place or context.

Straight from the moment this challenge was set, I had it in my head that this would be the project with which I would learn how to use Garageband on my Macbook. It is a tool used to create music, but as I never fully learned how to use it, this seemed like the perfect opportunity. Other sounds that quickly came to mind were the bells of the cathedral and the sound of cars on Coventry’s inner ring road. We had a practice session where we experimented using the equipment, and then we were left to our own devices.

Using the Marantz was odd – I’d been given a skills instruction at some point last year, and slowly but surely most of it came back. The sound I was worried about the most was the ring road. I had a place in mind to go to get the sound – namely, a bridge overlooking the road. For obvious reasons though, I didn’t to be hanging around there late at night. I also had the added problem of what other sounds my project needed – and also how I was going to present it. Having seen several examples in my formats module about how radio has integrated with images, I decided I would take photos of relevant places, and put the audio over a slideshow in order to stimulate both audio and visual responses in the listener. It was important that the visual element did not detract from the audio, however.

I booked a Marantz out for 24 hours, and got the clip of the ring road first. I used a boom mic to help pick up the highest quality sound, and also some headphones so I could hear what was being recorded. I placed all the cables in a bag, which helped me move more freely once the kit was set up. Unfortunately, my lack of experience with the Marantz was evident really quickly – the sound was far over gain when I started recording. I turned the tuner down, but every time I put the box back in my bag, the tuner turned up to over gain again. I figured I’d finally got the clip I wanted, but on returning home, I found that I’d lost the file. Maybe I hadn’t pressed the record button… I’ll never know. However, hearing the fuzzy white-noise from the over gain, I decided that would be an interesting sound to work with, and so I chose to keep the clip anyway.

Other clips I chose to use were ones I had easy access to. I tapped a pen on my table to a simple time signature, and that created another background sound – almost a beat. I also experimented with dripping water droplets, as the music I’d developed on Garageband seemed to fit an ‘aquatic’ feel. The bells I decided to put at the end, as the noise seemed to be a suiting end for the sudden change in audio which was the effect I was trying to create. I used the white noise to fade into the bell chimes, and then faded out as the chimes echoed away (inspired by Holst’s ‘Neptune’ piece). I went back to the ring road and re-recorded a backing track of the traffic driving past – this was to be the background ‘ambience’ for my piece.

Ultimately, this was always meant to be a medley of random sounds put together to create some abstract artistic audio artefact. I was merely experimenting with audio – it has no purpose, and it doesn’t have any deep meaning, it merely is what it is. What the listener derives from it is entirely up to them, although I suppose it’s not the most romantic piece of audio you could hear… certainly the white noise adds a rather sinister undertone – perhaps a taste of things to come in upcoming media production.

The photos were taken of random places around Coventry. The photos were NOT the places where I got the audio from (because a picture of a tap dripping into a sink would have been crap, let’s face it). The waterfall and fountain were pictures I liked – I experimented with water and shutter speed on several occasions before. I decided to experiment with shutter speed and traffic, and the shot of the ring road was taken near where I got the audi from. I took several, and the final shot used was the one where there wasn’t too many or too few vehicles. The shot of the tree was taken on a whim – I felt the nature shown in the picture provided a stark contrast to the electronic noises that start to emerge at that point in the audio.

The photo of the cathedral was near where that audio clip was taken as well – I got the audio from the bottom of the tower, which made for a less interesting photo. However, the photo I use over the piece was an accident – though clearly, the bright blue background silhouetted the cathedral into some imposing colossal shadow through jet-black tree branches, which added to that sinister undertone of the artefact. I think the white noise and this picture of the cathedral work nicely together, though as mentioned, no clear message is intended – it’s purely in the eyes of the beholder.

The TV Quiz Show – Reflection 2

Posted in University Work (Old) with tags , on December 11, 2010 by Adam Broome

My role as camera operator had changed only slightly by the final day of shooting – my camera is generally static with the exception of two shots – one on the item being revealed on the round ‘Guess Who This Belongs To’, and the other on the main presenter’s face at the end. We did have an idea about filming a VT in KFC to show the previous winner, but this was never followed through. As all our other VTs were pre-recorded footage, as a camera operator I had no input here either.

The show now had a name – ‘Who’s Who’. The theme was definitely around identity. The set designers had successfully arranged the creation of three boards that we could use as desks. These arrived on the day of filming, along with a load of stickers. The stickers kept peeling off the boards, but this could not be helped. Overall, the set looked fine. The lighting had been perfected during the final test shoot, yet somehow managed to go wrong yet again on the day of filming, affecting the chromakey, and delaying filming by an hour.

Unfortunately, we had no clear idea about the way the show would work. From what I could make out (being the lowly camera operator that I am), two shoots were done of each round, with the best one being decided to be used in the final piece. We were in the TV studio all day, and at various intervals our line-ups arrived, and the relevant rounds were shot around them. The line-ups were treated respectfully and they all seemed happy enough. It was only when they left that once again stress levels seemed to go through the roof. Luckily, the director called short fifteen-minute breaks every hour, which although delaying filming, gave a welcome break from the TV studio environment. Filming took approximately six hours.

It’s hard to say how it all turned out, because I have not seen the final piece. We filmed each round twice, and each time the answers changed. Several shoots before the final day, myself and the fellow students who had helped me do my radio show warned the director that with four rounds featured, we could easily end up with a 2-2 score, which is what happened during our final radio recordings. However, planning the results of the rounds was not allowed. That was the last we heard about it.

Someone high above the ranks came up with the idea of the final round answer not being of the line-up, but rather of the presenter himself (this round was either called the ‘Mystery Round’ or ‘Guess The Picture’… I’m not really sure). This allowed me to move my camera again just once more, which I thought I would relish, but was rather blase about in the end game. We had to keep the result of this final round a secret from the main presenter, so that his reaction could be genuine on the final day of the shoot. It was a strange idea -how it will look in the final piece is a topic of curiosity.

Overall, despite high stress levels, the team pulled through. Everyone turned up and gave their input, and we functioned as a team. My worry was that we would look unprofessional to our line ups, but that did not turn out to be the case, so I think the production went well. As mentioned before, it felt like there were a select few in the gallery running the whole project. Particularly throughout the later stages of production, help was offered by others, but rarely acknowledged.

Arguments were occasionally picked up in the gallery between members on the feedback. On several occasions throughout several shoots, I tried to ask my floor manager or fellow camera operators for advice or information, only to be told to ‘shut up’ by gallery members. Lighting was generally handled by the vision mixer in the end – communication was not developed, it simply became a case of ‘if you want a job doing right, do it yourself’. Since a select few members had been carrying the project since the beginning, I feel their input and influence on the project became greater and greater because of this.

Although it’s not a term I particularly like to use, ‘power trip’ was a term commonly being used amongst other members of the group. After filming, several members wanted to help with the editing, but the vision mixer was chosen to do it. Generally, people just seemed fed up with trying to fit in a word in edgeways, and just had the ‘whatever’ attitude at this point. At the end of the final shoot, the director came out and thanked us, and gave an apology if she had been stressed out. It was good that the director had noticed the feelings in the room – it was nice to hear, but ultimately it made no impact. Everyone just seemed thoroughly glad to be done with this project.

If this project fails, it will be on the heads of the few who have carried it through. They will be ones that have gotten the most out of this project, but the rest of us will probably have blogs with posts similar to this one. All things considered though, I am not going to put myself down. I wanted to be a camera operator, a that’s the job I did. I have turned up to every meeting and every run-through. I have been punctual, and I have accomplished all the tasks required of me by the director, producer and floor manager. My task was limited, and it was incredibly easy compared to pretty much every other project I’m involved in at present, but that was my job, and I did it to the best of my ability without complaints. When told to ‘shut up’, I did so, and when told to ‘stop moving and focusing the camera’, I did so. My end of the bargain has been fulfilled. If this was reality, it would now be time to cash the cheque and get the hell out of dodge.

On a personal level, this has been one of the hardest projects I’ve had to do at university thus yet. It was generally an unhappy working environment, from the presenters down to the lighting operator. You could feel it. And yet, we have all pulled together and we have all turned up and we have all done our jobs – I feel that everyone in the studio gave as strong an input as they were allowed. So ultimately, on that standing alone, us fellow media producers in the studio deserve some recognition at least, for not backing down or walking out or ever giving in to a full-blown argument.

This was the JVC camera that I used. I am using a similar camera for a project in Prague. There were several problems I encountered which needed to righted during the filming of this project. These were things like changing the focus manually, fixing the auto white balance, and playing around with ND filters and gain levels. Ultimately, the camera was used as it stood, with not a lot of my technical ability being utilized in the final piece. However, to know I am familiar with a camera this size is quite comforting for me as a camera operator – evidently my technical skills are reaching an advanced level!