Thoughts on News Broadcasting

After working in restaurants for nearly 10 years now, it is almost impossible for me to dine out without watching everything happening around me: the way to servers communicate to the kitchen, hostesses answering phones, managers talking to upset guests. It is difficult to relax and enjoy my experience because I know each detail of service so well that I find myself watching every aspect.

After spending time learning and researching about digital journalism in the form of news packages and live news broadcasting, I find myself unable to watch the news the way I used to.  Rather than mindlessly retaining the information presented to me, I now watch for specific camera angels, listen for the appropriate amount of natural sound, and pay close attention to whether the scene changes are fluid or not.

Before knowing what a “jump cut” was, I was never bothered by them, or never even noticed them for that matter. But taking the time to learn the steps in pre and post production, I have a much greater appreciation for really great broadcast journalism. Especially those journalist who are the camera man, editor and producer of their own segments.

Even in film production, the same ideas and rules apply like the placement of the camera, microphones, lights, and actors. A director is given the opportunity to decide the style of his project dependent upon the rules he/she chooses to follow or break, creating a piece of art that can be unique in its own way.

 

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Thoughts on Social Media: Instagram

Released in 2010, Instagram was an immediate success and allowed people from around the world to share photos of their daily lives with friends, family, and followers. Within a a year, they had gained over 10 million followers and became Apple App of the year.

In order to compete with Snapchat, Instagram began their “Stories”, which allows users to capture 10 second slips to share to their “story” that disappear after 24 hours, just like Snapchat.

Photojournalist are now able to reach a massive audience and gain followers for their stories. Time Magazine, National Geographic, NPR, CNN, and other major news outlets can use multiple photos in a post with the “carousel”, along with hashtags and tagging other users to truly tell a story in depth and more effectively than ever before. Instagram gives journalist a new, refreshing, impactful way to show their stories through permanent posts or live clips in the Stories feature. Crowdsourcing is also a huge part of how journalist use Instagram, but asking users to upload their own photos and add a hashtag in order to create news buzz around a certain topic or event.

As useful as Instagram has become to journalist, it has its fair share of pitfalls as well. Often times, photos are shared and reposted without any acknowledgement to the original photographer. It has become increasingly difficult to know the original source, what the facts truly are, and what was originally the intended meaning for the news piece.

Social Media Thoughts: Twitter

Twitter currently has over 300 million users and has net worth of 1.55 billion dollars.  Unlike Facebook, which is often filled with long posts, Twitter only allows its users to post 140 characters or less. A users newsfeed is then filled with short bursts of news, facts, or opinions.

Challenges: Cyber bullying, growing number of users, users anonymity, identity theft.  Can be seen as a non-credible source for journalist.

Stay professional, avoid snarky comments. Make a joke in a broad sense instead of arguing back and forth with individual users.

Crowdsourcing is incredibly important to how Twitter is designed. Maximize your reach by allowing people to retweet your post. Also add hashtags.

Journalist should remain unbiased and deliver the facts. Stay relevant and use hashtags. Twitter is meant to engage with followers, so cater them to your tweets to your audience!

Journalist use Twitter on the local and national level. Twitter allows journalist to reply within moments to each comment from their audience and provides real time updates to their stories. Ex. Boston Bombing, reporters already present and allowed them to capture  pictures and report information in real time. However, it can allow for misinformation due to lack of time to fact check. Once the information has been tweeted, it is hard to delete or take back as many retweets and screen shots are shared.

Thoughts on Film: The Director

In Chapter 5, the text discusses the role of a director and how significantly it can influence the artistic influence of a project or film.  Depending on a director’s aesthetic focus, a film can create a completely different look and feel from another director’s vision.

In order to better create a specific artistic expression, a director must know how all facets of the film making process work together to create the final project.  Once the director understands lighting, sound, angles, filming, and editing, the director then has complete control over their entire project beginning to end.

Growing up, I had very little exposure to movies and television. It wasn’t until I started college that I began going to the movie theatre and watching film regularly. It was during this time that I developed an appreciation and love for Quentin Tarantino and his artistic approach to film.  With a modernist style, Tarantino takes moments of realism and moments of postmodernism and blends the two worlds together to create something audiences might not have experienced before.

In any director’s film, you can typically identify the aesthetics of film: Function, form, and content.  These things are what drive the purpose and vision of each project and provide clear direction for the film maker and crew.

Some directors use traditional shots and angles to create realistic images, while others choose to integrate angles and shots, providing a jarring visual for the viewer. While these modern and postmodern styles of film are valuable in film, often times it is important for a director to follow more “realistic” styles when filming professional interviews, news packages, or educational material. The Rule of Thirds, Essential Area, Framing, Speed of Motion, and Scale and Shape are all things that are important for a director to know before he/she can break the rules.

 

Thoughts on Film: Lighting

When it comes to artistic creativity on a film set, the lighting director or director of photography has the freedom and ability to create any scene from any time and place.  By creating and manipulating light, those who are proficient in the complex art of lighting can make the directors vision come to life on screen.

Following with the styles of film, expressive design and effect of lighting setup are typically described as realistmodernist, or postmodernist.

Realist lighting appears to come from actual light sources in a setting or location.  The goal is to create an illusion of reality and enhance how a scene should normally or naturally appear.

Modernist lighting has no real-life basis, which leaves the design director free to design a light setup that can be more abstract or more subjective to emotional criteria.  The goal is to achieve a specific emotional effect or abstract design through sequences and design that might not seem natural.

Postmodernist lighting usually mix a variety of styles that comes from many different genres.  This style often is used to evoke a strong emotional reaction from the audience, either by bombarding them with powerful sensations or to highlight extreme moments.

The book lists an example of postmodernist lighting in Batman Forever which was released when I was five years old.  I remember watching this movie many times, in awe of the lighting effects and stylized scenes.  I didn’t quite understand what postmodernist lighting meant until I read this example and was immediately reminded of the disorienting feeling I would get when I watched certain scenes.  The film is truly a blend of moments of realism and modernism, creating lighting that is unlike anything else.

Light can also be distinguished by the color temperature the light emits, which is measured in degrees of Kelvin.  Light sources have different color temperatures that give various amounts of color wavelengths (red, green and blue), which together make up white light and the visible spectrum that we can see.  Depending on the light source, there will be different hues of the white light we see which is why it is important to white balance before filming.

Light can also be classified by the way it is housed, which we refer to as lighting instruments. These instruments are further classified according to the directness or indirectness and hardness or softness of the light they emit.  Some examples of these instruments include spotlights, floodlights, portable lights and various types of lamps.

In order to understand lighting control in the studio or on location, the director of photography must be proficient in understanding how light is measured and translating that to using patch panels or dimmer boards in order to get the appropriate amount of lighting in each shot.

While learning about lighting and how to control it takes patience and practice, becoming an expert in this field can allow to endless amounts of creativity and ability to design new scenes and aesthetics for movies and television.

Thoughts on Production: Audio

In Chapter Six, the author explains audio production techniques and the equipment used to record and control high-quality sound.  Whether the audio and visuals in a production can stand alone or are meant to be seen/heard together, high-quality audio is a must for a great media production.  In order to better communicate your message or tell a story, choosing the right equipment and technique is essential.

Like the aesthetics of video and film, audio can be approached from the same three aesthetic perspectives: realism, modernism and postmodernism.  In realism, audio is used to stimulate the illusion of reality being portrayed on screen. Modernist audio creates sounds separately from the visual images, creating a more abstract impression rather than clinging to realist or traditional sounds.  Lastly, postmodernist audio places importance on listener participation within productions in order to emotionally involve the audience as much as possible.

The ability to capture and duplicate quality audio depends on the careful selection of a mic and its position.  A microphone is a type of transducer, which is a device that change one form of energy to another form of energy.  Microphones can convert analog sound wave action into analog fluctuations in electrical voltage.  A digital signal is then created when that analog signal is converted through an analog-to-digital converter.  Microphones are classified by their type of transducer element and can be separated into three categories: dynamic, ribbon, and condenser.

Dynamic microphones are very durable and not extremely susceptible to wind noise.  They’re also fairly inexpensive.  A ribbon mic usually produces a smooth, bass-accentuated sound, and is usually preferred by television and radio announcers for that reason.  It is also ideal for digital recording due to its warm sound that accentuates high frequencies. Ribbon mics are priced at the higher end for professional microphones.  Condenser microphones are more complicated than dynamic or ribbon mics and generally reproduces high-quality sound.

Microphones are chosen for various different reasons.  Pickup Patterns tell the user what the mics directional sensitivity will be, helping a production team choose the right microphone based on where the audio will be coming from.

Impedance is another factor to look at when choosing a microphone. High or low, impedance measures the property of wires and equipment that determines the ability of a signal to pass through that piece of equipment.

Microphones are also chosen based on their use in recording audio either on-camera or off-camera. Depending on the director’s vision for the recorded shot, mics can be hidden on or off camera, or be chosen for a visual effect.

In order to create high-quality sound, it is also important to have an understanding of how to control sound.  Distortion and noise are two things that always want to be avoided.  There are two types of noise: ambient noise and system noise. Ambient noise comes from microphones that pick up sound coming from lights, cameras, or other devices. System noise comes from electrical equipment.

It is important to control the level of noise to the signal sound you are trying to capture, and manage the signal as it passes through cables and operational equipment.

 

Thoughts on Film: The Camera

In Chapter Eight, The Camera, the author explains the importance of the camera operator and the camera itself.  The operator must try and get the best pictures in order to enhance whatever aesthetic approach is needed.  They must know the proper techniques for framing, positioning and movement, as well as understand the numerous aspects of the camera and its lens.  Digital and analog cameras give a camera operator many options, just like other aspects of production discussed in previous chapters.

Camera placement is a large part of capturing the best possible images.  There are three camera operations that must be learned by those interested in the art: Framing, Positioning, and Movement.

Framing refers to the arrangement of action within the cameras frame.  The operator creates the perfect frame for each shot by considering the essential area, the walkspace, the lookspace and the headroom.  By placing the subject in the correct spot that allows for these four things, the photographer can achieve a photo that tells a story.

Positioning simply refers to the position of the camera to the subject and the angles it creates.  The operator must understand the rule of thirds and know where to place the camera in position to the subject. He/she must also know the appropriate terminology when giving directions like pan, tilt, truck and dolly.

Movement can be accomplished by various camera-mounting devices that allow the camera to move freely around the set.  Possibly the most sensitive and difficult of the three, achieving the right amount of movement can be tricky.  Each shot should begin and end with a stationary shot, so the scene can be edited appropriately.  Too much movement can become distracting and take away from the scene.

Not only must a camera operator understand everything happening on the outside of the camera, but also inside the camera.  A camera lens is made of glass that allows focus, and can frame an image within the camera.  In order to control the lens, the operator must be familiar with basic optics.

The lens bends light and help the camera operator control an image’s field of view, brightness, focus, perspective, and depth of field. Lenses can be categorized by their focal lengths and offer a wide variety, allowing for various types of photography and film.

Thoughts on Production: Digital & Analog

In Chapter Two, The Production Process: Analog and Digital Technologies, the author discusses the stages of production and how both analog and digital technologies play a role in production, as well as creating various roles among production teams.  The world of production has changed drastically with the introduction of digital processes, allowing teams to choose their aesthetics and techniques for whatever project they might be working on.

There are three stages of production that must be understood before developing teams or the aesthetics of a project. First is pre-production, which includes project proposals, premises, synopses, treatments, scripts, script breakdowns, production schedules, budgets and story boards.  All of these areas must be accomplished before the production team can move forward with their setup and rehearsal.

The next stage after pre-production is production.  Those working on this middle part of a project take the research and plans made in pre-production and begin recording.  Before recording, performer blocking and camera blocking are very important to insure camera placement and movement of the performer.  In the event of a live transmission, the director must be able to anticipate the action in each shot and move the camera accordingly.  During this stage of production, the entire project is in the hands of the director and his direction to those working with him/her.

Finally, post-production begins once all recording has been completed; however, in live broadcasting, production and post-production happen simultaneously.  The bulk of visual and audio editing happen in this stage, smoothing out all the wrinkles and rough edges in film scenes or audio.

While these stages do happen separately, it is important for each stage to have an understanding of the other two stages.  A director cannot visualize a scene without knowledge of how it can be edited in postproduction, so it is helpful to be proficient in all areas of production.

While each stage of production has been affected by the evolution of digital technologies, the most significant technology advancements are seen in postproduction.  All three stages have definitely seen changes, from changes in digital storyboards in preproduction to camera sizes in production, but the biggest advancements can be seen in the digital editing and manipulation happens in postproduction.

The terminology used in production also an important thing to understand in order to proficient in the entire production process.  Words like television, audio, film and video have much more specific and technical meanings when used in the context of production.

There are also many pieces to a production team and many ways they can be organized.  It is important to know your role, along with the roles of others.  Whether a production team falls under a hierarchical model (Producer is in charge and decision making power flows down to director, etc.) or a cooperative model (every member has equal decision making power and control), knowing the jobs around you can help in the decision making process.  Some productions teams will actually combine models so the producer and director still have more decision making power, but each team member has the ability to submit ideas.

Thoughts on Film: Production & Distribution

In chapter one of our text, the reader is given a deep look into digital production.  Even before a TV show, movie, or commercial is made, producers must take a deep look into their intended audience.  After much analysis, the producer then must decide the method in which medium he/she will be used, which requires a vast understanding of each possibility for production.  Technology has evolved rapidly over the last twenty years, so production of music, movies, and television also had to adapt.

With the rise of digital brought exciting new ideas for production, but also complicated distribution and storage.  Despite some of the negative possibilities in the digital world, if those in production have a good idea of their audience, then they can better utilize the many forms of media production.  Once there is a clear understanding of the intended audience, research analysis should lead the production team to answers surrounding content, advertisers, budget, etc.

Continue reading Thoughts on Film: Production & Distribution

Thoughts on Movies: Film VS. Digital

The film documentary, Side by Side, takes a thorough look into the evolution of film to the digital era. I found the film to be incredibly interesting, and learned a lot of things I didn’t know about some of my favorite movies. Digital journalism and film production are foreign to me, but the documentary, narrated by Keanu Reeves, is easy to follow. Following a linear timeline, Side by Side takes the audience through the history of film production and it becomes quickly evident that there are two “camps” among those in production and the art of film making: movies that are made with photo chemical film and movies made digitally using pixels to create images rather than traditional film.

To many filmmakers, making a movie isn’t just about the end product, but the journey taken to create a piece of art. Most of these directors, cinematographers, producers and actors believe, that while more time consuming and expensive, the use of traditional photo chemical film is crucial is creating the art that is filmmaking. Since the 1980s and 1990s, digital slowly made its way into the hands of filmmakers in the form of digital cameras and camcorders. Directors were able to see their recorded scenes instantly, rather than waiting on reels of film to be developed over night. Continue reading Thoughts on Movies: Film VS. Digital