A lady, a project name and the final month

The final rush of the last few weeks has been pretty crazy, deadlines and presentations falling out of everyones ears. I haven’t had a great deal of time to continue with further editing but I have however filmed a lady! This was delaying me getting back into the edit as the project was really missing a girls voice. I had intended to Interview Lisa Hannigan a week after the mid-semester review but this ended up falling through as Lisa couldn’t make time as she’s back and forth between Dublin and London between now and may which was a little upsetting at first but I was able to get over it! Here’s an email from Lisa’s lovely manager Una telling me about it:

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Sive to the Rescue

After the news about Lisa I began to panic a little inside about not having a lady penciled in to interview. I wrote a wall post on my own personal facebook page asking if there were ‘any cool lady songwriters I know willing to take part in a documentary on songwriting?’.

Straight away then I received emails from two previous girls I had filmed for my own YouTube Channel – Musicians With Cameras. The first email I was greeted by the amazing Sadhbh O’Sullivan saying how she’d love to help out. I met Sadhbh last year when she got in contact with our channel asking to do a video, and only recently just done another video where she invited us down to her hometown of Naas to film a show she was playing with her band in a church converted Arts Centre.

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I went ahead and Interviewed Sadhbh this bank holiday weekend gone by, I met her in town on Saturday and we strolled to Merrion Square park and I interviewed her.

Here’s a screenshot example from the interview:

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Conversing leads to good things

In the last couple of weeks I’ve been really stressing out about still not having a name for my documentary, I had chosen the approach of and hoped the name would just come to me at the right time and place, “I’ll know it when I hear it” etc. The other day I was chatting to my good class mate Ciaran about our projects and general stuff, I mentioned I was still having trouble with a name and he asked ‘had I thought of any or anything’ which suddenly got me thinking about something I remembered hearing looking back over the Interview I did with Conor O’Brien of Villagers.

Conor had mentioned and compared some aspect of the writing stage to making a Patchwork Quilt, which I remembered loving. So during my convo with Ciaran, this suddenly flushed into my mind. I began making connections of this name to various different things other people said including Peter Doran saying how songwriting is all about craft which is a nicely juxtaposed next to Conor’s quote.

I told Ciaran there and then “I think I have a name”.

Giving a hand

It’s been a busy few days of the easter holidays so far, I was a little ahead on my own project so I offered a helping hand to two of my class mates Stephen and Naomi. I had told Naomi I’d help her when I recommended my friend Niamh for the role in her short film. I had the role of Director of Photography/Camera Op for both Stephen and Naomi’s films. We filmed all of Naomi’s on Monday and Tuesday this week, bearing the crazy weather conditions and yesterday I helped Stephen shoot a portion of his project.

Here’s some pictures from both shoots:

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bts-stephen

It was pretty fun, but now it’s time to get my head stuck back into my project.

As I don’t have my last two Interviews till the 2nd week in April, my plan over the next week is to begin editing together the 3 Interviews I already have filmed. I will do another post this week about how I’m editing and a little insight into what my workflow is like.

Possible Typography segments?

Something my project supervisor Ian suggested to me the other day was using Kinetic Typography for possible segments/parts of my documentary. Initially I was completely turned off by this idea. Not because I hadn’t started the assignment or anything…

It now seems like a pretty fun idea to try and incorporate into the final film and could definitely separate my documentary from others. I think it may work to use this style in an intro section or a part where a subject is making a point they are very passionate about.

The software we are using in our Post Production module is called Motion 5. It’s pretty much does the same as Adobe’s After Effects, the only difference being Motion is made by Apple and is connected to Final Cut. For the assignment we have to use Kinetic Typography to animate alongside either a speech or a song for 1 minute.

Here’s a screen grab to give you a little taste of my project, will post the finished product here when it’s done:

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Documentary :: User – Testing

Something I forgot to do initially in my design phase was user testing. So yesterday I set up a survey on the free online survey supplier Survey Monkey.

So far it’s been a great help to see some outside opinions on certain aspects of my project I’ve been dwelling on. It’s also great because it’s an anonymous survey, so you really know people are telling the truth and being brutally honest which is good to hear at the best of times.

Here’s the list of questions I asked.* (click image to see bigger)

Click here to take survey

Survey questions

Does the user play music?

Another important aspect to see was if the people taking the survey were musicians or non-musicians. My target audience isn’t only musicians but people who have a passion and love for music too even if they don’t play themselves. So I thought it would be an important part of the survey to see this.

Here’s the results so far:

Musician or not

Attention Span

One of my main worries was peoples attention span today when watching videos online especially with regards to my final year project as I’m making a documentary so it will most likely be longer than your average video you watch online. I phrased the question in a scenario way, saying:

What’s your normal attention span when watching a Documentary online?

The feedback so far has been better than expected, there is till hope for modern society! I was really worried that the majority of people would say 3-5 minutes but so far (what I was hoping for) people are saying they will watch a documentary between 15-20 minutes. This is a weight of the shoulders cause I really thought people’s attention spans today was much lower, especially when watching stuff online. My set target for the finished documentary is somewhere between the 15 to 20 minute mark so if people are telling the majority of people will watch the whole film.

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Will people watch if they don’t know the people?

Another interesting point I had been dwelling on was would people watch the documentary if they didn’t know any people involved?

So far the results have been quite positive with the majority of people saying they’d watch it whether they knew the people involved or not. I asked this out if curiosity more than anything. So far I have two well known songwriters set to interview but that may not be the case for the others I interview but so far the results give a good outlook on what people think.

InterviewsHow many Interviews is enough?

Through my research of watching documentaries on various different topics I sometimes found they would spend little or to much time on one person so this was a test to see what people think is the right balance.

I asked the question in a scenario case relating it back to the set target time of my finished project, saying:

For example in a 15 min documentary would you prefer only a few people were interviewed (4-5) or a wide range of people (5-10)

The results to this are also what I hoped for aswel. After watching some documentaries where they interviewed to much people I found it hard to take on board every one’s opinions preferring a doc with only a few people interviewed jumping between their different views.

Here’s the results:

How many people

Suggestions

The last question on the survey was if anyone had any suggestions on what people would like to see covered in a Documentary on the process of songwriting. I included this at the end to see other peoples views and ideas on what they would put in a film on this topic. I’ve been really surprised at the brilliant feedback and suggestions people have given me.

I’m going to bullet point some of the best suggestions that people said later this week.

Suggestions

 

Creating a Timeline Structure

A few weeks ago we received a very inspirational talk of Mark Doherty writer and actor of the Irish feature film ‘A film with me in it’ starring Dylan Moran among others.  If you haven’t seen it, would definitely recommend giving it a watch.

Throughout his talk, Mark laid on the class many words of wisdoms he’s picked up over the past few years writing stories, scripts and screenplays for various different productions. A good technique and habit he mentioned of getting into when writing a script or treatment is creating a physical timeline of your story and putting it into your workplace. By creating this physical thing/entity your making it a real story so to speak, its also a way I think anyway of subconsciously sinking your idea into your head.

I may not be creating a short-film or story but I still need to make some sort of Narrative out of everything I film for the overall documentary. So by doing this, I’m hoping with this and many other cork-boards (just this little one for now) to piece together all my different plans and ideas so I can see it physically and begin to tie all different stuff together and really see if things fit with each other. A good tip Mark said aswel, is to just use as many add on’s as possible – Post it’s, string, whatever! In this messy narrative stage its good to experiment and just see what sort of stuff you come out with.

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I’m still in the testing stages of the documentary, over the past two weekends I’ve been taking 3-4 hours to catch up with two local songwriters experimenting with filming styles, interviewing techniques and trying to think of ideas visually how songwriters go through the process of writing.

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This weekend I spoke to Oisín Leahy Furlong, a local young songwriter who’s currently in his 2nd year of studying music and songwriting at BIMM Dublin college, a branch of DIT. Oisín has been writing since he first picked up a guitar, from an early age Oisin was exposed to great songwriters like Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Van Morrison, Elliott Smith and many more from his parents vast music collection. Both his parents are Art teachers and this creativity side has definitely sinked into his music. He made for a very good interviewee with some very interesting views and answers on the art of songwriting . I’m hoping to maybe include him in the real documentary, at the moment I’m hoping to maybe speak to two international acts and two local acts making for a nice contrast.

I’ll put up a tester of his video as soon as I get it done,

Until then.

Testing Formats, Segment Ideas, Final Cut X and Getting Feedback.

This weekend I started testing some format ideas I’ve been thinking about for my documentary. It’s a little frustrating making a documentary in comparison to making a short-film as at least with a short you can script out different ideas and things that come to your head. So I thought as a good way of giving people a better understanding of what I’ve been doing was to just go out and start getting stuck in to some filming.

I interviewed my friend Stevin King this week. He’s in his mid twenties and has been writing songs since a very early age and writes around 10 songs on average every week. I thought this kind of songwriter would be a very interesting character to interview as a ‘Test run’ to see what kind of stuff I ended up with. I’ll probably be the only one going out when filming so I also wanted to start practicing my interviewing skills as this is something I’ve never really done before too.

Last week I put up different format ideas I was thinking for the documentary.

1) Putting them inside a box

2) Loosey Goosey

3) and Mr.Formal

For my experiment this week I went with Loosey Goosey as this was the one I felt more comfortable with for first testing.

FINAL CUT X is actually great

This was also a test for me trying out Final Cut X. I was always planning on editing my documentary in Final Cut Pro 7 but after some really good convincing by Ian Cudmore I said to myself I’d give it a go, and you know what “I really kinda like it”. I use a Panasonic GH1 DLSR camera for filming and this offers some trouble for getting clips into FCP 7 as it’s not a native editing format. This usually involves encoding the files to the native Apple Pro Res (LT) format which is not only a longer process but also an increase in file size too but in FCP X they have resolved all these issues and it now recognises AVCHD which is the panasonic format. Not only am I speeding up my workflow but I’m also decreasing my file sizes too. This is very awesome, so these are the reasons I bit the bullet and started testing.

 

I put the video up ‘Unlisted’ on YouTube so only people with a link can view it. I sent it to a view people to get some feedback and was really happy with some of the thoughts and constructive criticism I received. This is something I really want to do so I won’t get tunnel vision in what I’m doing and also by doing this I can get peoples thoughts on what kind of things they’d like to see covered in a documentary on this particular topic.

Graham Smithers:

That’s class, just like a nice little chat.

Doesn’t look forced, could watch shit like that all day like, really interesting.

 

Donancha Coffey

Its a solid piece, could be excellent with a few tweaks. (ill be overly critical here, take what you want from it but in the end its only one dudes opinion)

A) Its one of my pet peeves to have musicians interviewed holding their instrument, we know what they do, having it there is at best a prop, and at worst a barrier between you and them.

B)B) Im sure youll have realised in editing this you gotta stay as silent as possible during films, in conversation we always say “yeah” and “Um” to show were listening, when that shows up in Docs its super distracting.

C) Its a little still, the most interesting part is where he is rummaging around his notebooks and theres a clatter of tapes. Maybe if you interview him again interview on the move (if its at all possible) If you watch a Louie Theroux documentary he never really sits down with them they’re always doing their job, making a sandwich whatever, the distraction gets them out of their head lets down their guard a bit.

D) Its hard to tell what the full shape of the thing will be, but if you’re just focusing on this guy you have to remember then the audience will only like the documentary if they like him. If they don’t like him, and people can pick loads of arbitrary reasons not to like someone, they wont like the doc.

So those are my thoughts, take em as you will, I’m focusing on the negatives, but I think its a solid piece and with a few tweaks it could be great.

Sara Rothwell

I love the shot where he’s walking towards the shed/house and the audio is him flicking through his notebooks. The clatter sounds like his footsteps which is great. Did you record his footsteps as well? It’s little things like that which I love.

Stephen Allen

You definitely need more than one camera next time, better sound of him playing too and also consider a nicer more like famous place like whelans for filming

Fionn Regan – Recording Process Diary

This was the video that inspired me to go ahead about making making this documentary for my Final Year Project. I really like the subtle use of his Narration as it shows him working in his creative space but also the surrounding area, really capturing what a beautiful experience it must of been to record there. I also like how it’s not set up as a formal kind of interview it’s just him talking about his views on writing and art.

Contacting People

At the moment I’m gathering names and contact information of possible people I can feature in my final year project. I’m contemplating how to go about contacting people. I’m thinking of either giving people a brief description of what I’m aiming to do, explain this is a college project and if people are interested they can get back in touch with me OR I could make some sort of media item (poster, video) to see would people contact me from this, about getting involved in the project.

As the panel told me at the pitches, if I’m going to make this I’ll have to step out of my comfort zone and not only restrict to filming people ‘who I know’. 

I’m preparing a wish list of people who I know would be willing to take part in it aswel as people who I don’t know on a personal basis. As I want to make the documentary as broad as possible I’m going to try and have a good contrast in people from various different genre’s and ages. This is something I am being conscious of in this stage.

Final Year Project Pitches

So we had our final year pitches on friday! We were given a three minute slot each and had to pitch our idea to the panel and our classmates (scary!!)

I prepared my pitch in Illustrator. As we each had three minutes I just made 3 slides for each minute.

Check it out here: pitch slides.

 

I suppose I should give you the first little insight into what my project is.

So music plays a very important role in who I am as a person so it seemed like a natural step for me to do something surrounding music. When I was doing my work experience last year at Cock and Bull TV i would meet musicians and bands week in week out a question I always wanted to ask them was how the normally write a song? Is it the same steps each time? or is something different each time? It’s something I have always thought about and always discussed with people so I thought to myself “Why not do that for your final year project?”

So basically for my FYP I plan to make a documentary surrounding this topic. I’m really excited, It’s gonna be great fun (hopefully..!) The panel seemed to like my idea anyway so I was happy 🙂

This idea was also cultivated through my new side project with fellow CDMee Stephen Allen – Musicians With Cameras.

We do weekly videos filming bands and songwriters in unique locations. Check out some of my favourite ones:

 

Final Workshop – Stanford Design Thinking Process

So a few weeks ago we had our last creative workshop with Danny before our final year projects pitches which took place this friday (I will talk more on this later) It was a really fun workshop and really expanded everyones normal thinking process.

First Danny introduced us to the Stanford D T process and gave us a little background info on it.

This is a technique used by many creative designers and companies looking to discover a solution to a problem. For the workshop Danny gave us a task of re inventing the Gift giving process.

First we all broke into groups of 2 people and interviewed each other about our various opinions on the gift giving process, our likes and dislikes etc. During this music was played also to ease people while talking.

After this we then looked at each others results (during the interviews we were asked to take notes on each others answers). Through this we had to find a problem that our partner was having with the giving giving process. After this then in our groups of 4, we had to pick one problem one of us was having with the gift giving process and tackle it and think of a solution for.

In the next stage rather than brainstorming and each of us talking about what we thought was a good idea we had what I like to call, the 10 minute spitting round. We were given an a4 page and told to come up with as much as 100 ideas in 10 minutes. During this it was also important to stand up while spitting out ideas. This was a real fun exercise and something that really suited my group. We were the first group to reach over 100 ideas!

After this we then had to pick the 4 worst and best ideas we came up with. Next we were asked to try and make our worst idea and best idea work. We then went around the class and seen what peoples solutions were. Finally we were told to prototype the solution we came up with in our groups. For this we developed an app that would give people a better understanding of who the person really is so they would have a better idea of what kind of present they would like. I think our problem was Aza was having trouble giving presents that came from the heart (sorry Az!!)

I really liked this workshop, this style of tackling an idea is definitely something that I can see myself using in the future.

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