Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Completed Film Opening

In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?

The main genre of the film itself is the superhero genre, which was chosen because it was an appealing concept which suited what all of us in our group would be intrested in and would want to make, as well as the recent boost of the genre with popular films such as The Dark Knight, Watchmen, The Incredibles and Kickass. The Dark Knight in particular has received universal acclaim, proving the genre is a successful one which would appeal to all age groups and almost all tastes. However, for our film opening we wanted to avoid what people would normally expect and instead opt for something new.

These examples of films open with exciting scenes that cut straight into the action, although by contrast, The Incredibles creates a fairly calm setting before cutting into its opening chase a minute into the film, the idea being to establish its main characters. We wanted to take a fairly similar approach by establishing our main character in a friendly environment at home going through a daily morning routine, although this is carried out across the two minutes of our film opening as we wanted to show our main character could be anyone. This creates interest instantly and entices the audience differently to what had been done before.

How does your media product represent particular social groups?

The way the character's face is never shown throughout the entire sequence does not imply which ethnic group or background he belongs to, as we wanted to suggest as much as possible that our character could be anyone.

What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?

Universal also has many opportunities for tie-in promotions which have had great success with its previous films, the best example being the Universal Studios theme park. Attractions have been created to tie in with popular films including Shrek, King Kong, The Simpsons and Harry Potter, whether they are monuments, characters or entire rides, and merchandising would also be made available in gift shops.

Who would be the audience for your media product?

This is the target age group where a division line could be seen between the younger and older generations, so by hitting a group of 16-25 year old males there is a balance of material in the film aimed at younger and older viewers, so it can in fact appeal to a wide variety of people. For the older generation, this film may also garner the interest of nostalgia fans. Superhero fans are also a popular subject in the media following the success of films such as The Dark Knight from which The Silhouette takes part inspiration, so this may also attract cinema-goers who want to find out more about the hype which has increased quite dramatically over the last few years.
The 16-25 year old age group is also a generation which is more likely to use the internet for information, which is a hugely powerful resource for press releases, news, trailers, posters and other publicity material, as well as finding out the theatrical or DVD release dates.

How did you attract/address your audience? How Did You Attract/Address your Audience by whiteisaac15

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We learned that music plays a vital role in setting the overall tone of the film, so we included two contrasting pieces from royalty free websites which reflected both the home life in the early part of the film, then the busy and bustling nightlife of New York City in the second half. It also sounds catchy enough that younger audiences will enjoy it, enabling merchandising opportunities such as a soundtrack release to CD or iTunes download.

We also conducted a survey online directed at the film's target audience, asking them what their favourite film/s of this genre were. This helped us to decide what our target audience wanted to see on screen:

I have also shown the opening to friends and family who were all impressed, even though my family weren't in the target audience showing that, if the rest of the film had been made beyond the opening, there would be potential for a more universal appeal across a variety of audiences. The general feedback suggested the music and ideas conveyed were excellent although the dialogue could have been improved to sound more dramatic, so if we could have another opportunity at a project like this we would focus on this by scripting the project carefully.

What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this product?

Evaluation on the technologies used in the making of our film opening.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel you have learnt in the progression from it to the full product?

In addition to this, we feel our script and our narrative worked much better with our film opening, as with our preliminary task almost all the dialogue was improvised shortly prior to filming rather than having an actual script. The dialogue therefore sounded rushed and not working as well as they could have done had they been scripted.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Editing our film opening

We went into post production during late March and wrapping up in April for our film opening, which would prove to be a much greater challenge than anticipated. We edited an early version which followed the original storyboarded version almost exactly. This was completed fairly quickly after our last shoot since we had a clear image of what we wanted the film to look like, so we had filmed and edited the footage in the same chronological order and edited it piece by piece. We completed the first draft in late March and were originally satisfied with the results. However, we screened our film opening to others around the school and rewatched the film ourselves shortly afterwards before realising our narrative felt rushed. The test audiences could not follow or fully understand what was going on, so it was obvious we had to reconsider our opening entirely.

The results led to the two parts of our opening - the scenes at our character's home and those shot in New York - being swapped around with the film opening ending in New York. The voiceover was also changed with it slightly, and the dialogue was re-recorded. This took a long time to figure out how the film could still look effective and achieve its purpose: to attract its audience. We kept revising the footage and tried placing the footage into different places in our editing software, Adobe Premier, until it was in an order which looked more suitable and the narration was rescripted to match what was happening on the screen. In the end, the changes worked out to our advantage because our opening shot looked much more effective. The shot was of the alarm clock sounding with the animated 'Beep! Beep!' effect around it, which would create an impression instantly with the unexpected sound effect of the alarm clock, which "wakes up" the audience. I also personally liked the way our opening could now be continued to mean anything; the story could be sent in any direction which leaves the audience to wonder where the story would go from this point.
The final version of our opening was finished in late April to much greater acclaim from others around the school as well as family and friends. I would also agree that our film now makes more sense because we have improved our narration, so the post production process of our film opening has made us all aware of how important this is.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Film Opening - UK Shoot 2

For the second half of our filming here in the UK we focused on the exterior scenes. This took almost two hours to plan and film on the day although these scenes only appear for a few seconds of film. The shoot went smoothly and we were satisfied with the end result which will appear in the final cut, although we did face a problem when filming shots of the car driving past, as it had to be going at the right speed. This took several takes because the car was often going too fast, and we didn't want to risk reducing the film quality by slowing the footage down. Fortunately we went to a very quiet street during the afternoon at a time of day when it wouldn't be so busy, so we were lucky to get as many takes as we wanted or needed.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Learning in After Effects

As well as crafting most of the storyboards for our opening sequence, I was also chosen for the task of animating part of the sequence itself. In the style of 'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World' the sequence would include text (onomatopoeia) flashing on the screen as a key sound effect plays, so there is one instance where a 'Beep! Beep!' noise would flash on and off the screen in time with the noise coming out of the alarm clock.

Here is the opening sequence of Scott Pilgrim which I used for reference:

The words would have to move in a cartoony but believable and smooth way, so I attempted Adobe After Effects for the first time to animate this for our opening. Prior to this I had no experience with using After Effects and my initial feelings were that the software seemed complicated and daunting, even though I had created my own animations for pleasure before (mostly using stop-motion). I resourced to YouTube to watch tutorials from experienced After Effects users who had explained the basics, and the instructions were easy to follow and enabled me to teach myself afterwards how to work the software.

Film Opening - First UK Shoot

Last Friday 11th March, our group went to Isaac's house to shoot the scenes for our opening which we could easily complete in the UK; only the footage of New York City has so far been needed to be shot on location. We found it simple yet effective to use the household items readily available, which in many shots are the main focus as this section of our opening sequence reflects ordinary household life in contrast to the busy bustling life in New York City we saw previously. These scenes we shot in the UK were considerably easy to film in comparison to the US shoot, where setting up for a scene would take time as we all had to agree on the angles we wanted and the places we wanted to film; the shots were also much longer in duration. Each shot from the UK shoot took between 1-3 takes each time, and for both UK and US shoots we used the same camera and all the footage was shot in 1080p HD in 16:9, as opposed to our preliminary task which was edited in 4:3.
We still have more footage to film, specifically of the main character driving his car, which at present we plan to shoot later this week (between 14th-18th March).

Film Opening - New York Shoot

We have recently started shooting our film opening which has been going quickly but efficiently and we are all pleased with how the footage looks thus far, especially because both Isaac and I have been able to travel to New York over the February half term to shoot footage especially for this project. We have filmed footage which successfully reflects the busy lifestyle of New York City and also its rich culture and most famous sights, such as the view from the Empire State Building we shot by night. We had hoped to visit the Brooklyn Bridge although we couldn't due to time constraints. We shot all the footage between our stay from 22nd-26th February (Tues-Sat) as we visited each place within the city and shot whichever sights we felt would be appropriate for the feel of our opening, so we filmed each shot as we came to each location. Other filming locations include the metro station at Grand Central Station and the exterior of the New York Film Academy.
Usually only one or two takes were required for each shot taken during the New York shoot, so the process was very quick and we fortunately shot all of the footage we wanted during the time we had.

Monday, 28 February 2011


Recently we completed the animatic for our film opening project - the animatic features drawings which are almost all drawn by me apart from the last few frames, which I personally feel proud of along with the fact I was chosen to be the storyboard artist by the rest of the group. Well done me!!
Here is the animatic in its completed form:

Friday, 28 January 2011

Film Opening Task - Part 2

During this week we have been planning our film opening further and have come up with many ideas. We have resourced to other films in the comic book genre or films which have used similar techniques to those we have thought of using for inspiration, referring back to recent films such as Kickass, The Dark Knight, The Incredibles, Sky High, Watchmen and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. We originally started planning our sequence out at an estimated length of 5 minutes, so we came up with ideas to fill the entire length before we realised we were aiming at a length of 2 minutes, so we have had to decide which ideas were the best ideas and shorten ideas without losing important content. We gathered to combine our ideas into the story of the sequence, and from this I drafted the first storyboard during our session last Wednesday. As reflected in the storyboards, we always knew we wanted the setting to be a big city (as per almost all typical films of this genre) such as New York, where we will be filming many key shots during out visit there in half term, so the opening shots will highlight New York's most famous sights and landmarks, in particular the Chrysler Building, Times Square, Brooklyn Bridge and the entrance to a Metro station. Later we will also be planning the remaining part of the sequence which involves the main character (assumingly the hero although he is only seen in silhouette form) getting ready, before the sequence closes to a shot of his silhouette on top of a building against the sky with his cape flapping in the wind, although this part is yet to be fully storyboarded.

Here are some film openings we used for inspiration when devising our concept:

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World:
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World:
The Dark Knight:
The Incredibles:

Friday, 14 January 2011

Film Opening Task - The Brief

We're now in our groups and have been tasked with creating an opening for a film - our group consists of myself, Isaac, Tom and Sophie, and our topic is the comic book genre. We instantly liked this idea because it sounded like an idea where we could expirement with lots of different techniques and have plenty of creative freedom. We have decided that our opening will be a mix of live action, animation and comic book art, which I am really looking forward to as a budding animator, and we also have talented "Photoshoppers" within our group. We may also be taking our cameras to New York for some realistic city shots when we go on our research trip. We are yet to devise a storyline but it will most likely follow the style of typical comic book film adaptations.