Reflections

It’s amazing how 12 weeks just came and went by so quickly! It always seems that way when I reach the end of each semester. It’s been an exciting semester, especially for this subject, as I’ve never done a documentary before, and so having to do one for an assignment was pretty challenging. I’m just glad it’s over, and it has taught me a lot, not just about theories and communities, but also about talking to people and learning to handle delicate situations.

The process of making the documentary was one of the most difficult assignments I’ve had so far. I found it similar to my previous experience in journalism… the process of researching my subject area, contacting sources, and interviewing them was familiar to me, but the difficult part was having to film them and edit them into video format. It was all an interesting learning experience, but I must say it was rather stressful having to think about the little but important things associated with that, such as format, style, and asking the right questions, because it’s so much more different to put answers into a video as compared to putting them down in words.

I had the scariest time editing my documentary. After learning Final Cut from a friend, I thought it would be a breeze. He’d shown me examples using his own videos and given me a thorough tour of all the basics I needed to put different videos and audios together, and gave me so many tips on how to make the end product ‘clean’ and professional looking. What I didn’t expect was for my camcorder to have recorded the videos in a format which was incompatible with Final Cut, and even after converting my videos, it was giving me problems, so I had to give up.

Windows Movie Maker wasn’t much help either. Having used it previously for smaller projects, I thought it’d be relatively easy. Turns out when you try to put too many videos and audio files together, WMM will hang and won’t open your project for you. Thank goodness for the internet and forums, which helped me fix that problem! After saving a copy of the movie for my rough cut showing, I didn’t even end up going to class because I was too sick to leave the house, but I felt relatively comforted by  the fact that I would definitely have a finished product by the due date. But after some more editing to the project, WMM wouldn’t save the project file as a movie file because, apparently, some original files were missing. And this was on the day it was due! So…. I had to re-do the whole project, making sure to check if I could convert it into a movie every few minutes, and finally, it was done.

After posting it up on Youtube, Vimeo, and Current, I put the finishing touches to the blog and spread it to my social networks! It was awesome getting some positive and constructive feedback from friends and family, as well as from my interviewees themselves. The video was also getting views on their own, and the blog as well. Bek from SLAM/Music Victoria has also replied saying she’ll put up the links on SLAM sites next week, so I’m hoping to see more comments from people who view it.

For now, I’m glad it’s finally done. There’s always a sense of satisfaction from having a finished product, and I’m especially glad the video came through especially after all the problems I had with WMM!

I also went through other students’ documentaries and thought they were done so well! Not all the blogs had links on them, though, so I only viewed a few. It’s great seeing all these ideas I’ve been hearing in the past weeks being put into videos and websites and audio, and seeing what each student did with their documentary. I hope everyone’s happy with their work! I know I’m pretty  relieved! But for now… it’s back to doing my essays for my other subjects… good luck for everyone’s remaining assignments!

My documentary

I’m done with my documentary!

Check it out on Youtube, Vimeo, or CurrentTV, or head on over here to my tumblr for some extras, which I will be adding over the next few days.

cut!

The documentary’s almost finished… “almost” because I keep replaying the whole thing from the start and picking out things for tweaking. It’s a bit over 10 minutes and I’m still trying to cut it down so it’s around 9 minutes, at most. I was initially aiming for 7 minutes but that seems too far-fetched at the moment :(

There’s also this problem with the quality of the video, especially for footage that’s not mine e.g. the footage of the SLAM rally that I got online. It’s too pixelated! And I have no idea how I can fix that… so I guess I’ll have to keep it this way.. it’s not like I have much of a choice :(

The hardest part for now is finally deciding that it’s done… the foundation is there but aesthetically it could be a lot better. I’ve had to trim a lot of the interviews to take out ‘umms’ and ‘aahs’, among other things, which saved me a few seconds here and there, but the negative of that is that you can definitely see that in the talking head. I’ve played around with it in the past week but there’s nothing much I can do there either to improve that.

It feels a bit surreal that a few weeks back I was just conducting interviews…but now it’s finally getting done and being finalized. I’m really nervous about tomorrow! I’m only going to be uploading everything tonight so… nothing must go wrong with the uploading! I just did a test video publish last week and it turned out fine… so, fingers crossed, I’ll be ready to present tomorrow!

Documentary Conclusions & more on progress!

Was supposed to publish this last week, but didn’t get a chance to… but here it is!:

I was putting together my video and had a general structure in place, before I realised that the conclusion is just as important as the introduction. I was sure that I should wrap up the whole story with something along the lines of “visions and hopes for the future” which, I thought, was the best and more surefire way of ending any story. But in tute, Jenny raised a very valid point that because the fight is still ongoing, it would be more appropriate to leave it hanging. And so there went my idea of an ideal conclusion, and in came the hard part of thinking of a good ‘hanging’ conclusion.

It was difficult for me because I was thinking about just how to leave it hanging. There can be so many ways to end it with an open conclusion, and there were a few good lines from Bek (from SLAM) and Bruce (from the Tote), which were basically their own hanging conclusions about the whole situation. I’ve been going through their interviews sooo many times now that I can remember roughly what they said at which minute of the video … and editing has been crazy!

There’s been a lot of problems with Final Cut … I guess the main problem was that I sped through the basics and was sure I  knew how to use it – which I did, except when it came to all the formatting. I was quite pissed that my Sony Camcorder recorded my videos in .mpg, and even more pissed that Mac applications don’t agree with them. Even after converting my videos to .mov (for apple/quicktime) I encountered problems in rendering and getting the sound right. I guess we didn’t realize it’d be an issue – and well, neither did I – but if only I’d learned Final Cut earlier on it would’ve been so good. But for now, Windows Movie Maker has been doing wonders… I’m doing it the long way by extracting the audio off it so I can overlay images on top of it instead of just having a talking head for the whole documentary… and it’s really tiring but I’m getting there…

I was really excited to start with postproduction at first… but when it finally came down to the work I literally had my moods dragged down by all the fails and successes. Even WMM was giving me problems by suddenly shutting down each time I added videos to the timeline. Thank Google I found the solution to the problem… boy, do I love YouTube tutorials and computer geek forums :P

But regardless, the basic structure of my documentary is done, and now all there’s left to do is to choose the perfect ‘line’ for my conclusion and refine the whole video aesthetically, as well as make a new blog and edit all my info there… For now, the video is turning out to be just okay, mostly because of the time constraints … keeping all the info down to less than 10 minutes is really, really difficult! I think one of the problems was that my interviewees would keep talking and expanding their views… and in terms of editing it’s easy to pick out what you want to include or exclude, but difficult to cut that into pieces and make everything seem seamless.

Anyway, it’s now back to editing! All the best with everyone’s documentaries :D

Music recommendation & Youtube

I previously came across an article about research conducted by Gartner (an IT research firm) on how UK consumers find music online, where they found that word-of-mouth recommendations is the most powerful way of driving consumers to purchase music. One of the key points the article pointed out was the need for download services and labels to form partnerships with social networking sites.

From the article:

The key is those ‘click to purchase’ links, and while it sounds obvious that consumers are more likely to purchase if there are fewer steps in the discovery/purchase process, these links are not as ubiquitous as they should be. That counts for the desktop and for mobile. Against a background of unreliable ad revenue, social networking sites need to increase opportunities for users to buy music they are sharing.

Labels also need to keep exploring social networking tools that help them tap the interest and trends of content sharing and the discussion around that sharing, particularly around streaming.

It’s pretty interesting… and I think it kind of taps into social networking sites as grounds for social capital …

I’m anticipating far more creative options for location-tagged music, so a certain location like a bar or gig venue would alert music fans to new tracks related to that venue, possibly those left ‘tagged’ by your friends. And then a handy click to buy bit.ly link when your phone accesses that recommendation…

Also more recently, an article on Lady Gaga & her using social media to gain popularity

The hot topic of the conversation was YouTube and Twitter. Carter said openly that he and Lady Gaga “create music videos for YouTube.” Braun agreed with Carter, saying that Bieber represented a new strategy of creating a breakout teenage star. Braun said that previously teenage music stars has to have a show on Nickelodeon or Disney. But Bieber changed this; he was found on YouTube and his first videos singing Aretha Franklin’s Respect saw 55 million views by the time the artist signed a record deal with Universal Music. He ended up going Platinum shortly after

Gaga originally broke out on YouTube and MySpace Music (which Braun was quick to say is dead)…

And what about Twitter? Both managers said that Twitter is a great way to connect with fans, especially for artists who were discovered by fans on YouTube. Twitter breaks down the layers between the artists and the fan, says Carter. Braun says that Bieber loves talking to his fans over Twitter (perhaps that’s why he’s always a trending topic!).

I guess it comes to no surprise that Twitter and Youtube are fast becoming starting platforms for hopeful singers who want to break into the industry, hoping that some music producer will chance upon a video of themselves singing at their best and sign them up for a record label. Chances are slim for many, but if you’re lucky you actually get spotted and picked up! But mostly, I’ve seen many YouTube singers get started on their own by gaining popularity on YouTube before going on to becoming independent musicians making CDs and selling them to their fans.

YouTube, of course, saw this as a big opportunity for them, and in March this year announced a plan to entice independent musicians to share ad revenues (read the article here) dubbed “Musicians Wanted”.

YouTube’s also been a tool used to publish videos on ChatRoulette, further propelling the viral effect that’s been the driving force behind CR, which in turn is also being used to create viral ads – have you seen the Lady Gaga “Telephone” video on CR? Or the piano improv guy? They’re all quite hilarious so you should go have a look… to relieve some stress haha! ;)

Documentary websites

Was browsing online for documentaries, and found some websites that compiles docos, so if you’re free you should have a look at some of the docos!

Indietalk.com – a filmmaking community

Documentary-film Network

4Docs

I’ve got most of my interviews done now, and I’m just beginning on post-production now. The hard part with interviewing people is setting a date for the interview. So far, one of the bands I was going to interview have kind of backed out because they’re having some conflicts within the group, and another interviewee is sick so the interview has been postponed until late next week (!!), and I’ve also managed to lose one release form on my way back from an interview :( Thanks to the wonders of technology I will be getting the release form emailed back to me haha.

I now have more than 30 minutes worth of interview material to crop and edit, and a lot of planning to do in terms of deciding what audio goes where and what pictures to put in and what footage to include. But at least I know the structure I want in my doco and so hopefully it will all just fit into place from there.

Other than that, I find it hard not to sympathize with Bruce, the previous owner of the Tote, who I just interviewed recently, because as I was having a chat with him after the interview I found out the extent of his debts after the closing of the Tote. It’s really quite sad finding out about him going through so much right now, and even listening to him talking about his ordeal when he was forced to make the decision to shut down the Tote due to financial insufficiencies made me really want to reach out to him. This part of the interview, where Bruce talks about what he went through that rough week, will no doubt reach out to the audience as well.

I guess that’s the hardest part of doing a documentary – hearing people speak about the reality of their lives from their perspective, and seeing the truth behind a situation from someone can really move you and change the way you think and feel about something. And that’s really why I want to do this documentary. Although it’s not really about Bruce or about the Tote, it just goes to show how you don’t know everything about an issue until you really talk to someone who’s been greatly affected by it. In terms of SLAM and the LLV laws, all we knew from the media was the music community as a whole and the music venues closing down. We only knew about the issue and the conflict affecting a whole community, and didn’t know the extent to which it affected one person’s life. Multiply that by, I don’t know, twenty other owners of music venues affected by the laws, and then you really start to really just how many peoples’ lives are really affected by this issue.

My argument

STRUCTURE

Introduction
—-Community – introduce the independent music community which formed SLAM
—-Issue – introduction to the LLV laws (from Bek – SLAM/Music Victoria rep) and its consequences on music venues (from Bruce Milne, previous owner of the Tote)

Body
—-Exploration – more info on LLV laws & how it became the catalyst for forming SLAM (Bek)
—-Story – importance of music venues for independent musicians (Lionel Kho, music organiser; Kevin Teh, independent musician)
—-Conflict – negative consequences on music venues & reasons as to why law is unreasonable or doesn’t take into consideration music venues & its importance, e.g. the Tote (Bek, Bruce)
—-Characters/Interview – some info on Tote rally (Bruce), the SLAM rally (Bek, Bruce, Kevin) & community (Kevin, Bruce, other musicians + SLAM protesters), footage from SLAM rally (showing protesters, speech)
—-Places/Description – the Tote (Bruce, pictures), and other music venues (Bek)

Conclusion
—-Assessment – …has really brought the music community together to ‘defend’ their culture and ‘survival’ (Kevin, Bruce)
—-Future – the petition being handed in recently, recent successful reviews/assessments for some music venues, hopes for further amendments in law for music venues (Bek)

overall structure: the new liquor licensing laws (what they are), its consequences on music venues in Melbourne (how it’s affecting them, why they are important), how it has brought the music community together for one cause

VOICE

sympathetic, and so far my interviewee’s answers are contributing well towards this tone.

RHETORIC

I’ll be letting my interviewees / characters speak for themselves, from their point of view, instead of directly asking them questions to answer, so they have been free to talk about issues based on what I’ve asked them to talk about e.g. the laws, the consequences, the rally, the community, etc. With all my interviewees so far, I feel like they have effectively conveyed their feelings and thoughts that will lead towards the audience feeling sympathetic towards the community and issue at hand. I will not be interviewing anyone who doesn’t hold the same opinion (i.e. noone from e.g. LLV).

USE OF INTERVIEWS

I will be taking snippets of speech from my interviewees’ responses, and putting them into different parts of the documentary based on where it fits in with the structure.