“Is she coming?”
“Hey, faster off the light!”
“Guys, quickly hide!”
A group of ten young girls glanced at each other behind the doors, making incomprehensible hand signs and elaborated facial expression to signal the countdown. 1… 2… 3!
“SURPRISE! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!”
Taken back with our sudden outburst, S’s surprised response clearly denoted that our surprise was a huge success, which was extremely hard to keep it a secret from her since we all stayed under the same roof. Although it was only months after we stay together in this residential house, we decided to set a tradition of coming together to celebrate each other’s birthday and must be accompanied with a cake.
Her face turned terribly flushed, glowing brighter with the blusher on her face, and eyes twinkling brighter along with candlelight presented in front of her. It was endearing to find her constantly covering her embarrassed face and uttering words of awe from our overwhelming shower of love. Due to our financial limitations and in consideration of the tradition to celebrate everyone’s birthday individually, we thought of a wiser option to present her a gift and cake shared among us by combining our funds together.
We were all organised and in sync in preparation for her surprise, and able to comprehend undecipherable sign languages. But when it comes cutting the cake, we are all hilariously involved into chaotic mess because it’s in a shape of adorable white puppy. “Oh my god, how am I going to cut its head!” S exclaimed in a horrified tone and troubled expression. Turning the cake around, looking at it back and forth, she couldn’t find a proper spot to make the first cut on the cake. “Can someone make the cut on behalf of me?” She frantically pass the knife to P, who’s the eldest among us and probably the fearless too.
“Oh my god, I can’t watch this…”
“We are so cruel… like we’re going to eat a dog…”
Our shrieks of yelping from just cutting a cake (unfortunately in a dog shape) ended up drawing laughters of disbelief from each other when it ends. Perhaps we were all starving kids, as all these uncomfortable thoughts seem to vanished into thin air because we all just started digging in and savouring the vanilla flavours once P finished cutting down every slice for us.
“Okay, next time no more adorable shaped cakes!” P announced, and we all definitely agreed on that.
This was only a piece of memories each of us shared together in the journey of our lives. So much memories to reminiscent that we even called our group as “The first family in Melbourne”. It was heartwarming, flashing back to the moments where there is no need of elaborated decorations of balloons and lavish spending on gifts and cakes, yet the room is filled with genuine laughter and a peek into each others’ personalities.
Upon completion and presentation of Dead Road, our short film for digital story, here are some of the reflections and thought process involved in the pre-production, production, and post-production stages:
The final content for our digital story has went through several changes in our thought process. At the initial stage of brainstorming, we were able to pinpoint a certain storyline but was only cleared that we will be carrying out a thriller/mystery genre short film, where protagonist assassinate the antagonist. As such, it was rather different from our final content, as the storyline of getting chased by her murderer/boyfriend served as the prologue to a bigger story to come. Taking into consideration of a logical progression for the storyline and the helpful advise of our lecturer, our producer and scriptwriter had carefully inserted the main reason behind the murder–drug report and abusive boyfriend, which provides a background to our audience. As this is a student project, we decided to keep things simple and small-scale, which explains our decision to have the story unfold in a linear progress instead of flashbacks or interactive.
One of the main struggles in producing this short film is the tedious consideration of its aesthetics. Due to the lack of acting experience, we decided to omit as much dialogue and recording of facial expression that potentially affect the mystery ambience we are seeking for in our short film. Initially, the camera direction aimed to use an over-the-shoulder shot but the complication in coordinating movements between actors and camera director resulted us to opt for another option. Therefore, the storyline was narrated and viewed through the character’s point of view (POV), which worked more fluently for the storyline. In view of this, every shots were critically reviewed by all members to ensure that they reflect the desired mood of a thriller short film, from the shaking camera movements during running, gasping for air when being chased and the sound design of phone conversation at the beginning. The background music used during the chase was also a strategic choice to increase suspense for the unexpected movements happening at the character’s blind spot.
Before production, we also planned thoughtfully on the settings for our short film where one of our group members–who owned a car–went for location scouting and therefore ended up with the woods of Dandenong that was best option. It was helpful for our short film that the woods were full of empty branches and the weather on our shooting day were gloomy and foggy as they accentuates the dark, mystery mood we were searching for. We took advantage of this natural settings and were more than fortunate to finish filming the short film in two days.
After several research–including appropriate hashtags, desired platforms, and targeted audiences, we have come to a decision of centralising information about our short film and its upcoming storyline on an official Facebook page. In effort to extend our reach to targeted audiences of short filmmakers and of those who are interested in thriller/mystery short film, we will be uploading our short film on Vimeo (more community based) and YouTube (more general audiences based).
A marketing blurb and marketing image
Processes and Collaboration
Overall, there were no huge obstacles in the collaborative process for the whole group has worked very efficiently together, understanding each other’s roles very clearly. From the beginning during the formation of group, we recruited group members based on their individual strengths and weaknesses. Having said that, the group members are always lending a helping hand for each other when faced with difficulties or uncertainties on their given roles. As an example, I was inexperienced with editing work and have never experienced any required additional camera direction to smooth up the editing process. Here, Sury who is in-charge of editing and Neal, who has previous filming experience were helpful and kind to personally demonstrate the camera works in helping me understanding the necessary process.
Note: This project was shown in final tutorial of CMWP on 17 May 2016.
If you’re interested, follow us on Facebook to view the short film!
Credits to fellow group members–Peter Norgaard, Sury Sulaiman, Neal Han Shitong–who co-produce Dead Road.
Among many image editing softwares, I always come back to using Adobe Photoshop for its user-friendly interface and smooth movements in applications. Although both softwares are pretty comprehensive with the basic tools available in their software, the intriguing part is that there are wide range of extensions on other websites. For example, Adobe Photoshop allows us to express creatively by experimenting with their brush tool. However, the number of brushes are not limited as we can import new brushes into the program to test out new expression styles. The same goes for other tools such as fonts. This has been used to experiment our poster image for our digital story.
There are a few functions I’ve tried out for this poster, where I have included text on top of the picture and played around with the brushes. However, I have also experimented with the layers and its blending mode, which was not mentioned in the flipped lecture. Originally, the photograph was brighter and personally I felt like it does not reflect accurately to the general vibes of our digital story, which has a thriller/mystery genre. So, I added an extra layer with black and white gradient for more moody vibes, went to Multiply mode and altered its opacity for my desired outcome.
The flipped lecture has only touched on the very basic tools available on Photoshop and GIMP. However, if you are really interested to experiment more with its endless possibilities but clueless on navigating around yourself with the tools, there is always helpful step-by-step tutorials on the Internet.
For the recent viewing of my fellow classmate’s digital story rough cut, here are few feedback on some of the projects by looking at their strengths, weaknesses and places that can be further improved:
Motivation to study in Melbourne
Overall, the content was quite informative and well-balanced with a diverse group of interviewee that includes both local and international students. However, it has a weak focus on its content, where there is no proper conclusion to the story, which can be confusing for audiences on the purpose of this digital story. Some areas that can be further improved are the sound editing and aesthetic of presented data. The former needs to be revised as it can gets extremely loud at certain parts, which can be a little discomforting for audiences to listen. For the latter, the presentation of the data could have been done better by either blurring out the background to enable audience focus on the data, or increase the quality to appeal more professional.
Crowd funding to support Syrian’s refugees
In my opinion, I personally like how the group approach crowd funding by speaking out in the videos and their respective roles in this digital story. However, the content/digital story requires a better arrangement or presentation as it was hard to gauge its purpose of presenting this video. Similar as before, there is a lack of concluding note as well. Perhaps, this is an aspect to be improved where the group can possibly suggest the ways they can provide support or contribute to the crowd funding. Some of the weaknesses that I’ve noticed are the mismatching voice and lip movements, the colour scheme needs to be revised, and the choices of background during speaking. I think this can be improved by few ways such as fixating the background or using basic colours as background in order to allow audiences focus on the speakers and appeal less all over the place.
Moving infographic on Facebook’s penetration in SEA
The aesthetic was stunning and attractive as the icons and symbols used are easily understandable within quick glances. It depicts an interesting content as well. However, I do noticed that the narrative mainly touched on Vietnam and roughly touched on Singapore at the start. I wish that there were more balanced coverage of South East Asia in their narrative to be relevant with their title. Otherwise, it can appeal as imbalanced or bias in their presentation. Besides that, another weakness is the lack of energy for the voiceover. As compared to the colourful and vibrant use of infographic, the voiceover was very dull and mundane, which does not really relay your narrative effectively. Over a long time, it feels very draining to concentrate on the speaker because of the slurry speeches. This will take away people’s focus on the content and I feel that it’s putting the great aesthetic of infographics into waste.
In the flipped lecture on social media, Weight has addressed the triple aspects of social media in which they are:
a professional networking tool. It establishes your credibility within a specific range of expertise, and it builds up a network of contacts within that professional field.
a tool to market media projects.
an emerging platform in which media projects, or aspects of cross-platform media projects, natively reside.
In view of this, this can be understood in reference to the rising power of bloggers and social media influencers in the present. We may questioned, ‘Why are certain social media users considered as influencers, while some aren’t?’ Perhaps, this has a strong correlation to the notion of “social media is authored”, as mentioned in the flipped lecture. Even though the contents posted by bloggers or social media influencers allow us–as audience–to have a peek into their personal lives, it is important to note that they are carrying themselves as a personal brand where each posts are highly curated. Social media no longer just offers users a platform for creative expression, but has extensively become a professional networking tool. In light of this, we can increasingly witnessed how bloggers are presenting their identities by posting contents with open-ended captions to gauge interactive communications. Hence, we can see here that social media has functioned as a platform that showcases all their works, a tool that promotes their identities as a personal brand, and a space that enabled them to foster both professional and social contacts.
For our digital story, the group members are attempting to address the triple aspects of social media in promoting our short film. First of all, a Facebook page will be created as a professional networking tool that connects us with key influencers in the industry or communities. Secondly, it will also be utilised as a marketing tool to increase the outreach of our short film to wider audiences. We have taken into consideration that if the short film were to be placed onto our personal social media account, it can create disjuncture for consistent communication with our audiences. As a result, having a main social media page that addresses all the core information related to our short film will be useful in marketing our media projects with a single voice, rather than overlapping voices that may create further confusion. Last but not least, social media has increasingly become a platform that supports our short film, where we are able to upload video onto our Facebook page. In this case, our short film can reside on the Facebook page. This does not only enabled audiences to view our contents easily on the same platform (saving the hassle of linking to YouTube or Vimeo), but also offers us data analytics such as traffic flow, audience engagement, and peak time for responses. Taking into consideration of social media’s technological affordances, hashtags will be used to participate into existing conversations and communities relevant to our short film.