The following is a week-by-week, step by step guide of the production of my final major project which has been titled “Wonderland”.
I have recieved the brief and understand what is required of my skills and what I need to produce week by week. I did this by reading through it and annotating points of interest and importance in order to drill the project’s parameters into my head. Analysing the brief has helped me to understand the time frame which means i have identified that i need to be more organised.
As the word “wonderland” has been given as the stimulus for the project content, I’ve researched all meanings of the word and it’s applications and created a few mind maps that compile this information and draw upon it. The meaning I have obtained from “wonderland” is the idea a wonderland is place in which one experiences spectacles and is awed. I am going to translate feelings of awe, spectacle and wonder by creating amazing visuals for a music video. The video will be conceptual in order to make the audience think rather than understand.
I have spent most of the week brainstorming a documentary about Penzance and it’s drug problem. As this project looks for a higher level of professionalism and for you to give the best showcase of your skills and creativity, then documenting a serious subject that is current and relative would be prefect in satisifying the brief. I thought this would be a good option as there would be a lot of substance to work with. However I felt it wouldn’t challenge my creativity. I felt I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it very much at all due to the negativity of the subject. A music video on the other hand, would give me a project that I am passionate about and won’t get bored with later down the line.
After changing from documentary to music video, I have studied some existing music videos and listened to a range of music created a 5 second test product for a drum and bass music video to show in my project pitch. After much mind-mapping I have come to my own conclusion as to what wonderland means to me and how that meaning will guide my product in style and meaning. I am focusing on the visual and emotional aspects of the word wonderland. It being by definition a place where one experiences “wonders” or is awed by phenomenon and great spectacles. Therefore I have chosen to create a music video that will convey these feelings and attributes of a “wonderland”. I am looking to use a Drum and Bass track because of my interest in it, but also so I can have the freedom to create almost anything visually without the conflict of a lyrical meaning and its connection to the video as most of the time Drum and Bass has no lyrics.
I initially visualised the music through a mood board containing pictures that convey the style , mood and theme that I will create.
The test video I created simply showcases the pace, themes and style I am aiming for. I used a fight scene from Kingsman: The Secret Service but this doesn’t mean I am going to imitate a fight scene to this extent and production value, but rather when I edited the test product I cut certain actions on the beats and drops of the song that I used. The aggressive music style goes hand-in-hand with what the viewer is watching, an attribute that I will carry into the music video style.
I’ve filmed a component to my music video in which the audience will catch glimpses of a fluorescent painted dancer. This I did by getting a fluorescent body paint and applying it to my dancer with tribal patterns on the face and splattered paint on the chest, shoulders and arms. I then shone a UV black light on to her. This had to be the only source of light in order to create the effect. She then danced to multiple different songs. I did this to get varied dance types.
This element to my music video has little to do with the narrative , it’s just for visual effect.
I am more than satisfied with what I have created so far. With student work it is often noticeable that it was created by a student. However with what I have done so far I feel that it has a feel of professionalism to it. This has been achieved through the choice of dancer, in the sense that her confidence and extroversion shows through the footage. Because of the strongly artistic and stylised make-up , it allowed her to act comfortably in character. I also let her choose her own music to dance to which has resulted in a very natural performance to the standard I have been aiming for.
I have finalized the the narrative and planning for the music video. I have completed the storyboard, the synopsis and the script.
I have only drawn up the storyboard for my own use when filming, therefore it is only very rough sketches. The storyboard does not look nearly professional, however It will be useful for myself in pointing me in each direction I need to go when filming because then shots I have drawn are accurate to the film composition that I have conceived.
On Monday night I went to the recreation ground just after the sun had gone down to shoot the first scene of my music video. This is a short scene in which my main character (unnamed) meets a dealer to buy a drug. I played the role of the drug dealer and my friend Logan Mills played the shifty protagonist. I was using a Canon 1300D DSLR and was also having to act as well, but it was not a problem.
I have edited the scene now and have added a small piece of music from SoundSnap which strengthens the humorous tone that the scene has due to the mannerisms of the awkward character.
I’ve also colour graded the scene with a green tone and desaturated it. I did this so that the audience recognises the change that the protagonist undergoes later on in the music video , as I will do the opposite by inversely saturating the footage and colouring it a purple tone. In theatre you would call this “marking the moment”; when you make a key point in a narrative more defined by the conventions at your disposal at that specific moment like music, sound, colour and props.
I would liked to have cast an actor in the role of the drug dealer instead of using myself because it would mean that I could have focused solely on the cinematography , the direction of the scene and the actor being able to concentrate solely on their performance – rather than being split by the two responsibilities. Unfortunately most of my contemporaries are in the middle of exams and exam preparation so it’s difficult for them to find the time to participate in my project.
When I recorded the sound it was just through the DSLR, therefore it isn’t the best quality. The poorness of the sound quality is more do to with the fact that the mic has picked up a large amount of the wind which makes for very ugly sounding dialogue, but to rectify this I will record the dialogue separately which will make the scene much cleaner sounding.
Because of it being a drug deal I could have made it very serious, but I decided to go down a more lighthearted route – so not to take the subject of drugs too seriously or too literally. Drugs aren’t the focus to the music video but just an element to the narrative. What makes the scene humorous rather than an austere depiction of a drug deal is the style I have gone for. The colour grading, the soundtrack, the sound effects and editing create a scene that isn’t completely literal in it’s representation of reality; it’s more dreamlike, more surreal. The short soundtrack that I chose for the scene was a royalty free piece of classical score from SoundSnap ; uploaded with tags relating to children’s TV and children’s fantasy, so you can understand that the the music is very effective in the conveying of a playful theme, one that isn’t a depiction of reality, where the audience isn’t required to forget that what they are seeing isn’t real, they always are aware of the fact that this is a stylised narrative.
After recording the dialogue from the first scene on my iPhone , I’ve been using the equaliser effect on Premiere to change the dynamics of the sound. This process has been necessary because I recorded it indoors with both Logan and myself speaking close to the mic, therefore I needed to make the sound seem further away at points, quieter and with a decrease on the bass. I made the higher frequencies more prominent and dropped the lower ones, giving the sound a quality that makes it seem like it is outside and with a distant quality on the dialogue that requires it.
Using audio that has been recorded separately also gives the freedom to strip away all the audio that was recorded when filming and instead use your own sound effects and add Foley in which makes for a layered experience that I can tailor precisely for the theme, style and mood of a scene.
I have continued to explore more special effects for the fluorescent dancer b-roll footage, as well as filming some footage on my iPhone of some organic texture to also be used as b-roll. I was walking through some woods when I saw a felled tree trunk with some fungi growing on it so shot a close-up pan of the textures of the wood and fungus so that I could use it for b-roll.
To then make the footage go cohesively with the music video style i have in place, I have increased the speed of the footage to make it run smoother with the music and the rest of he footage. The fast colour corrector effect on Premiere meant that i could experiment with the saturation of certain colours and their vibrancy. I increased th hue of the purple colours to give it a dream like state, or a sense of intoxication ; a colour process i am aiming to do execute on other areas of the film as well.
I used the motion video effect to keyframe at points in which her face comes close to the camera and scaled it up , then on the next keyframe I brought the scale down and repeated this a few times. What you get is a huge exaggeration of the filling of the frame and the motion of her head bobbing forwards and back.
I think this is really effective because it gives further definition to the sense that this is not a literal representation of a woman , it doesn’t have a setting and she isn’t a character nor is she an element to the narrative. Because she is looking directly into the camera it gives the effect that she is delivering to the audience rather than the audience observing a performance, which makes it into more of an experience that breaks the fourth wall rather than just a narrative to be watched. This is the reason that makes the b-roll segments to my music video, or any for that that matter, so crucial to the experience because it gives the audience more involvement in what they’re seeing and hearing.
After filming the remainder of my music video I have continued to edit. I had to simulate a party by inviting a handful of my friends to my house and film them in a party atmosphere with them all participating in drinking , smoking and socialising , so to create the situation of a party. I shot a range of b-roll footage so that the audience understands the setting and scenario without showing it in the narrative aspect. I then saw that the music video required extra b-roll for pleasing visual imagery. This is because the music is so fast, with many beats, meaning that this needs to be reciprocated with the frequency and amount of cuts. I fell short on this aspect so I proceeded to shoot the b-roll footage that filled in these gaps. This b-roll included aerial shots of an abundance of beer bottles , close-ups of inhaling a cigarette and close up shots of the yellow rose bud. When shooting these I noticed an insect land on the top of a bottle so I shot this as close as I could which resulted in very interesting looking shots for use with the b-roll.
Before shooting the main party sequence I had to create a prop for use as the fictional drug that the protagonist takes. I didn’t want my audience to be able to draw any parallels to any existing substance, so I was looking to use an object that hadn’t before been used in a context relating to drugs. I came up with the idea of it being a plant so that it would coincide with the other uses of organic imagery.
From the beginning of the project I wanted to make any decision for composition , prop, narrative, lighting and any sort of imagery to be motivated by the need for the audience to experience visual stimulation, to be shown enigmatic scenarios and images. The rose bud plays great significance in the music video, therefore whilst editing the build up to the climax of the music video I have dropped in short glimpses of the bud so to highlight it’s importance almost subliminally.
My protagonist is one that is anxious in social situations and for him to purchase a drug and attend a party is very out-of-character action to do. Therefore on the build up to his change I had ensure that he looks uncomfortable and out of place, hence why he contrasts so much to rest of the characters shown. By dabbing water onto his cheek and Logan performing expressions and gestures of anxiety and discomfort I created the illusion that he is undergoing stress due to the “sweat” running down his cheek. When editing this shot I duplicated it and dropped it above itself. I enlarged the scale, moved it’s position and cropped it with a feather edge. This quick glimpse of distortion reciprocates the character’s emotion.
On many shots I have duplicated the video, changed the opacity , added a tint and shifted it either up or down the timeline, or simply changed it’s position in the frame which means two clips are playing simultaneously – giving a double-vision like effect.
Having seen a dried up rose bud, I decided that it would be perfect for the narrative and aesthetic of the music video, with ideas of “beautiful but deadly” coming to mind.