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How did you use new media technologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages?

When I first approached this evaluation question I was stuck to say the least. As when it comes to technology can any of us really remember the dawn before broadband and USB memory sticks? Honestly can anyone remember the last thing they saved onto one of these…?

I can’t either.

In answering this question, I will use a series of posts covering areas I believe this question is asking for. To avoid confusion I have listed the order they should be read in…

  1. A brief history of popular technology.
  2. What benefits are there from using new media technology in research?
  3. What is the benefit of creating an Animatic?
  4. What is the benefit of using this technology during the planning stage?
  5. What technology did you use in the construction of your film, radio trailer and magazine review?
  6. How did this technology improve your ability to make the film, radio trailer and magazine review?
  7. How did new media technology help in your evaluation?
  8. Finally, what benefit is there in using new media technology in displaying your portfolio of work?
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A brief history of popular technology

So as we all know the year 2000 was the start of a new technology era, it welcomed broadband, the Playstation2 and my 8th birthday. Before broadband we used the internet using a dial up modem and unless you were willing to install a second land line to your home you had to choose between your home phone and the internet, I still remember asking permission to browse the internet (although at that age I’m not really sure what I’d have been looking at; ClubPenguin wasn’t around till 2005! http://www.clubpenguin.com/).

Another interesting note about Dial up internet is that to download a low quality song it’d take half an hour and to download a low quality film it’d take around 3 days.

According to articles I have read in my research for this ‘essay’, I found that in 1999 we didn’t have Sky+; who would have thought it. If we wanted to record our favourite TV show we had to do it with VHS (no wonder our grandparents had hundreds of VHS tapes around the house).  Thinking along those same lines I began to think about the wonder of DVDs no longer did we have to sit for what felt like an hour waiting for a video to rewind. My cousins who were born after 2000 have never had the pleasure of waiting for their favourite film to rewind while knowing that eventually the tape inside the video would eventually spoil and your favourite bit of ‘Peter Pan’ would become a fuzzy unwatchable mess.

In 1999 most people were still using a ‘Walkman’;

Lugging CDs around to listen to their music, it skipping whenever it took a bump. The 1st MP3 player was released by a South Korean company in 1998, it was called the ‘MPMan F10’ and it was originally marketed in the US at $250 and it only held 8 songs.

Sexy bit of technology isn’t it?

Now, the domain name ‘Google’ was 1st registered in 1997, but in 1999 many people were still using ‘AltaVista’.

Though as ‘Google’ grew and it purchased more small companies you could say a ‘franchise’ grew as well. In 2005 ‘Youtube’ was released and now in order to create a ‘Youtube’ account to share your videos with the world you need a ‘Google’ account.

Media Technology more related to the practical side of Alevel Media Studies

Information on this was much harder to find but, keeping my search to the same time frame that I have previously looked at. I found that in 1999, it was difficult to find a Digital Camera that you could do just 4 simple things with; set the shutter speed, set the aperture, attach to a PC terminal, take the actual picture. Unless you were willing to pay around £16,290 for a ‘Kodac DCS560’,

or a cheaper professional camera at £3023.                                                                                                                                                           However in 2011 to get a digital camera with those capabilities I can rent them from college for free or buy one for around £400-£500 which is still expensive but if you’re that enthusiastic about photography I hear a digital SLR is a necessity.

In 2003 digital cameras were around but our first holiday to Florida was photographed with one of these… a ‘Canon Sure Shot Ace‘. A fantastic little camera as long as you have good quality film.

Our first family video camera was what I can only describe as a ‘beast’, it needed to be carried around in a great big case and was too heavy to not to be used with a tripod. If I remember correctly you actually had to record it onto ‘VHS cassettes’.

I think I should now get around to evaluating my media coursework.

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What benefits are there from using new media technology in research?

Research for our Media Coursework consisted of watching short films. Such as;

Booth Story

This short film follows a man who works the ‘grave yard shift’  in an underground car park, he’s found many things in the car park and one night he finds an egg. He goes to a library and finds out from a book what breed of bird the egg is from; it’s a duck. He learns to care for the egg, and eventually the duckling hatches. He rears the duckling himself into an adult and eventually he has to say goodbye to his new found friend.

Goodbye Mr Snuggles

This film is a little ambiguous, you watch two men walk together to a field, sit down and begin painting. During this you cut to a speeding car with a clown at the wheel. Now, clowns freak me out enough as it is but a clown with a revolver and a some what drunk disposition is too much for me. While he is speeding down the country lanes he shoots a bird from it’s a perch and eventually spins into the field where the men are busy at work. It ends in a shoot out, the clown dies and the painter withdraws his weapon sits down, is about to explain his actions and the credits start rolling. Either I am stubborn and want the meaning to be just told to me or there isn’t a meaning. You tell me…

 Right Place

This short film in my opinion is brilliant, the use of sound conveys how the character is feeling without him having to communicate it, as we all know less dialogue makes for a better short film! The story is very simple the lead has very severe OCD and is working in a late night ‘food mart’. In his opinion there is a right place for everything and he wants to find the right place for himself as well.


So that is three examples of short films we watched for research and now to actually answer the question; The benefits to new media technology are obvious, with sites such as ‘YouTube’ where users can upload their own amateur films, and view other peoples work far easier. In fact before 2005 and the release of ‘YouTube’ I don’t have the slightest inkling as to where you’d find amateur films to watch. I’ve already made the mistake of ‘Googling’ ‘amateur short films’ and I have got to tell you that not all were the genre of film I was looking for!  I believe that before ‘YouTube’ came along for an amateur film maker to get their work seen they’d have to take it to a film festival. Film festivals I am sure are fantastic for getting the bigger names to see your work, but if you want to spread a message far and wide you cannot beat the internet. Once something goes viral it spreads over the world like the rage virus in every zombie film ever made.

So I guess now I have made a short film, I’m sort of classed as an amateur film maker (or so my teacher says) and as an amateur film maker ‘YouTube’ has proved to be a great tool, as I can now send anyone I want a simple link to my film so that they can watch it, however with me participating as not only a crew member but playing a lead role I’m not sure how many of my friends will be watching it. Now YouTube has its benefits for upcoming artists, film makers etc. but posting your work on their site, ‘YouTube’ then has some rights to your work which is a bit of a negative point. Though when talking with a friend who is hopefully going to become an upcoming artist he said that he’d rather allow ‘YouTube’ some rights to his video as everyone knows about ‘YouTube’. You can get free publicity if your video gets a lot of views as you can end up on the home page. Where there are special sites you can pay to display your work, they have tough competition from ‘YouTube’.

Before starting our Advance Production (Simon Begins, a short story) we did a lot of research in lesson, including watching documentaries about continuity faux pas, camera techniques and so created a short film ‘The Corridor’ to practice using the equipment such as ‘Mini DV cameras’ and ‘booms’. Creating this short film also introduced us to the editing software ‘Final Cut Pro’.

The Corridor

Mini DV Camera

Boom

Final Cut Pro

As a mere A level student having access to this high level of equipment is rare, at GCSE we used a basic hand held video recorder and iMovie which is pre-installed on most Macs. To buy ‘Final Cut Studio’ could cost me from anything between £299 to £834 (http://tinyurl.com/5whfp6m – prices gathered from Amazon.com). Then after spending the money on ‘Final Cut’ I’d need to purchase the ‘HVR-V1E Professional Mini DV’ cameras that the college uses, setting me back another £1,700 to £2,992.72 (http://tinyurl.com/6d4rt83), then I’d need the proper sound equipment as it is no good having professional videoing and editing software but then using the basic microphone on the camera, so a ‘Shotgun Microphone’ would cost me yet another £167.95 (http://tinyurl.com/5wtqtcl – Amazon) then I’d still have to buy a ‘Boompole’ and the fuzzy thing that goes on the end which on amazon is listed as a ‘Deadcat’ (no wonder my dog tried to eat it). You know what I forgot to mention that I’d also need to get a computer with enough RAM to power ‘Final Cut’, it recommends you have at least 1GB of RAM automatically ruling out the ‘Mac Mini’ and ‘MacBook’. I’m left with 3 choices then; 1) a ‘Mac Pro’, with a spec costing about £2,185 which is the ideal as it would have 4GB of RAM; 2) an ‘iMac’ with a spec costing about £1,908, which has 3GB of RAM; or 3) a ‘MacBook Pro’ with a spec costing roughly £1,710 having a RAM of 2GB. All together it could have cost me between £3876.95 and £6179.67 to complete my media Alevel.

Continuity Errors

When making our short film we had to look out for continuity errors, while you can easily explain what ‘Continuity’ is: ‘The unbroken and consistent existence or operation of something over a period of time‘. When talking about a ‘continuity error’ we mean an error made with props, scene or actor position; something that is wrong that will detract from the scene. For example in the film ‘Kung Fu Panda’ during the escape scene; Tai-Lung throws 4 spears into the air, kicks only 3 spears and 4 spears are seen to stick into the prison wall…

Now while discussing what a continuity error is works and you can understand what is being spoken about, it does not give you practice in looking for such errors. During lessons we watched many examples of such errors, and turned them into a quiz to see if we could notice them, with new media technology compiling many short examples of errors is made much easier as you have easy access to the clips.

Others errors we have to practice looking for are demonstrated in the following video.

Again being able to access these clips on the internet is a crucial supplement to the course. I can honestly say that after my 4 years of studying media I can no longer watch films in the same way, I am so used to looking for errors I even pick fault in the Disney Classic, 1973 ‘Robin Hood’ (apparently it is ‘acceptable’ to sometimes draw Maid Marian a Vixen without a tail, now I haven’t heard of many fox’s with detachable tails).

I think that is just about it in terms of New Media Technology in relation to Research! Onto the next point…

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What is the benefit of creating an Animatic?

‘Short Toy Story’ Anamatic

An animatic is an animated story board. For an animatic you can either take photographs or draw the images; we took photographs. Animatics are a way to show a film to peers (target audience) to get feedback on the basic premise of your film, so that flaws in it may be highlighted or how certain aspects could be improved. The benefit of doing an animatic is that it is a quick, effective and cheap way to tell a story without having to spend excessive time (and money for the unlucky) creating a film to be told that it’s no good.

When creating our animatic we did it on ‘iMovie’, which is the basic movie editing software on ‘Macs’. We used this rather than ‘Final Cut’ as it it is quicker and easier to create and export the file.

With the use of the internet (‘Google’ + ‘Youtube’) you can get access to tutorial videos such as this one,

When we screened our animatic other than our audience becoming confused with the story as we found it hard to convey our split story line with still pictures we didn’t get any negative feedback, however one of our questions asked ‘what would you call our short film?’ among the responses we got the suggestion ‘Simon Begins’ which has now become the name of our film.

On an individual level creating an animatic helped us visualise how we wanted our fight scene to look; as we planned on doing the fight scene with a series of animated still shots being able to practice getting the shots we needed was helpful, also having those primary images gave us chance to try editing them to make them look more like a cartoon.

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What is the benefit of using this technology during the planning stage?

Another supplement to our course is our teachers Website, which he has set up especially for college students both Alevel and Btec, the home screen can be seen below, and you can access the site for yourself using this link: http://yannyfoxx.webs.com/

With the use of Iain’s website we were able to find all the pre-production materials we needed and we could download them straight from the site,

Being able to access these files online is very important, as you can imagine creating your own would be difficult and time consuming especially as before starting our A2 year none of us had the slightest idea that many of these documents existed or were needed when making a film. As well as having easy access to these documents due to the internet and this website, we can also get easy links to other useful websites and view short films made by previous students here at South Cheshire College.

New media technology such as the Internet is also helpful when we look for locations to film, with the use of ‘Google Maps’ we can scout out locations without having to go and view them in person.

With the introduction of ‘Google Street View’ in 2007, scouting locations is now even easier, say we wanted to film in ‘St Andrews Avenue’ we could use ‘Street View’ to take an even closer look,

Also during the planning stage we used a programme called ‘Celtx’ to write our screenplay. ‘Celtx’ is free online downloadable software for writing screenplays, play scripts, creating storyboards and even comic books. When ‘Googled’ ‘Celtx’ is advertised as the “#1 Choice for Media Pre-Production”;

‘Celtx’ while it seems daunting when you start it is actually a very easy programme to use. It’ll programme many things for you, so if you double click enter a new scene will be automatically started for you and if you are writing dialogue it’ll continue in dialogue format until you switch it off, meaning you don’t have to programme every line.  As well as this you can go online to http://wiki.celtx.com and learn all the quick tricks from here and even get access to tutorial videos like this;

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What technology did you use in the construction of your film, radio trailer and magazine review?

The Film

During the construction of our film we used the same technology as we did in our Prelim task (The Corridor);

‘HVR-V1E Professional Mini DV’,

the sound equipment,

and the editing software, ‘Final Cut Pro’.

We also used the internet and non-copyrighted music CDs for scores and sound effects. When using ‘Final Cut’ for the ‘Advanced Production’ the work was more closely edited and the shot sequences were far more complex. For example during scene two after Simon is thrown to the floor in one shot, Jack picks up the bag in a different shot and you see him unzip and begin to tip the contents onto Simon, the shot then cuts to a ‘point of view’ and you see the contents beginning to fall, the shot cuts again and Jack throws the bag to the ground and walks away. When editing this scene the timing of each shot was imperative in order for it to run smoothly, when editing ‘The Corridor’ we had no sections of the film that needed to be so carefully edited.

The fight scene in our film was produced using ‘ComicLife’ on the college ‘Macs’, having this specified technology was helpful as ‘Photoshop’ just wasn’t doing the job we wanted it to. We used various settings on ‘ComicLife’ to create images for our ‘flipbook style fight scene’, an example of this is shown below:

Final Film:


The Radio Trailer

Again when creating our radio trailer we used the same equipment and software as we did in our film (Simon Begins) and  the prelim task (The Corridor).

Radio Trailer:

The Magazine Review

For the magazine review we looked at real reviews from ‘EMPIRE Magazine’ to give us a template on how we should set out our own magazine review. A couple of examples:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

When creating our magazine review we used ‘Microsoft Publisher’:

We are all very familiar with how ‘Publisher’ works and for such a task we wouldn’t need to use any sort of fancier software. When researching articles we could use as templates we used ‘Google’ and ‘EMPIRE Magazines’ online site  http://www.empireonline.com/reviews/.

While writing this evaluation I thought that we could have even ventured into writing our review as an online piece like you can see on the following link:  http://www.empireonline.com/reviews/reviewcomplete.asp?FID=137215.

Our finished Magazine Review;

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How did this technology improve your ability to make the film, radio trailer and magazine review?

Now I’m not sure how I can answer this without being ever so sarcastic, as without this technology the Alevel course I am taking would not even be possible. But I’ll humor the question.

Without the use of ‘Publisher’ we would have had to complete our magazine review on paper, creating it from scratch, using our neatest possible handwriting and a pair of scissors and a ‘Pritt Stick’. Now as much as I would have loved to get down to it with glue, creating the magazine this way would have been problematic in many ways (mainly spelling and small errors). On a computer if you spell something wrong you can easily go back and correct it however on paper we would have had to start again, not only is ‘Tipp-ex’ messy it gives me horrific migraines.

Looking back to GCSE Media Studies I recalled creating a film trailer and ‘Microsoft Powerpoint’ (you can just imagine how great that was). For our trailer we had to find images on the internet that were related to the story we wanted to tell. If we were to create our film with ‘Powerpoint’ for Alevel we wouldn’t have the opportunity to send our film off to film festivals. Honestly it’d just be crap. A 6 minute film done all in pictures, on ‘Powerpoint’ would be boring to watch and boring to make.

Then for the radio trailer I’m not even sure where we’d start, how we do it without todays technology? Today’s technology makes many of us ignorant, we wouldn’t be able to do so many things without the technology we have today. So many of us now wouldn’t be able to keep a basic friendship strong without todays technology; without facebook or mobile phones!

So to ask the question ‘how did it improve our ability’ it improved our ability by not only a fraction but an entire 10 yards. A Media Studies Alevel would only work as a pure theory without todays technology, Media Practical wouldn’t be feasible.

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