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Post Production: Question 1a

What decisions did you make in the post production stage of your products at AS and A2?
Evaluate your skills development as well as the success of the decisions-refer to as many of
the post production elements as possible.

Prior to my AS-level work and the preliminary exercises, I had no previous experience of using
video cameras or editing equipment, however I had some experience with Adobe Photoshop,
although this was mostly in the area of web design rather than photo manipulation.

The preliminary tasks gave me a basic understanding of how to use the cameras, how to
import footage and edit clips together to form the final film. During this I also experimented
with basic text effects, which allowed me to add captions and credits onto the video.

For the main AS project, I decided to produce a logo to accompany our film opening using
Photoshop, this consisted of modifying a target symbol to include the film’s title in its shape.
The outermost ring was used to form a ‘C’, and the bull’s-eye of the target forming the ‘o’ of
the film’s title, “Choices”. Initially I used an image found on the internet as the base of the
target, however due to the low resolution I later made an original target motif using the
Vector-drawing tools in Photoshop, allowing me more freedom over the final design as each
ring could be individually altered, using a vector drawing allowed me to export the logo in any
resolution without losing detail or causing pixellation.

The main part of my AS project was a film opening, as the film opened onto this sequence, I
decided to use the text overlay features of Apple iMovie to first have opening credits, at first
over a black screen, which then continue as the film itself begins. The film opening was for an
action-genre film, a generic convention which our opening needed to follow was the fast
editing pace, this allowed me to develop my editing skills by using iMovie to trim clips down
so there is always some action in the shot. Our short film was shot over several filming days,
this made editing more difficult as the lighting and position of objects in the shot had to be
consistent across the entire film, however this developed my ability to choose appropriate
clips, and cutting them at the right time in order to make the characters actions (particularly
running) appear fluid despite the footage being compiled from several different days of
footage. We decided to publish the finished film to a DVD, rather than using online
distribution, this was because the iMovie software I used to create the piece didn’t support
exporting to any of the formats accepted by YouTube’s media player.

The short film also required a soundtrack, for which I created a piece using GarageBand, this
provides a selection of premade loops which can be sampled and sequenced together in order
to form an entire song. Whilst there were many loops available, very few met the needs of my
soundtrack, the end result was satisfactory, but repetitious in places due to re-using the same
loops several times over.

For the A2 portfolio, I decided to use software on my own laptop in place of the software
provided by the school; allowing more flexibility in video editing where iMovie would limit
effects to pre-set configurations. I decided to use iMovie to assemble the finished film, as this
integrates with the DVD-burning software (iDVD) used to export the film to a physical
medium. I also used iMovie to apply some of the effects seen in the film, such as the colour
adjustment effect used to give flashback sequences a darker ‘look’ with more subdued
colours, the slow-motion effect seen as Chris’ feet leave the ground to jump off the bridge,
and the transitions used in some shots, such as the fade used as the camera zooms in on the
clock and certificate. The remainder of the film didn’t use any transitions, however jump cuts
were used to improve the pace of some longer clips by cutting away to another, then
returning to the first clip but with Chris having moved noticeably forwards.

More advanced post processing, for example the timelapse shots, was produced in Adobe
After Effects. I used the “time remap” feature, which can condense (speed up) or expand
(slow down) a piece of footage to a given amount of time. (Time alteration can be carried out
using iMovie, however the speed settings didn’t reach far enough to produce a smooth
timelapse) I exported the rendered timelapse footage from After Effects to the QuickTime
format, which can be imported to iMovie as a standard clip. I also used After Effects’ motion
tracking features to attempt to stabilize some footage which was taken hand held; this
detects the movement of an object within the scene and moves the footage in the opposite
direction in an attempt to keep the footage ‘still’, this was reasonably effective however some
twitching is still noticeable where the shake was too severe to remove completely.

I also attempted to use Ableton Live to produce the films soundtrack, which allows individual
instruments to be created and scores written by hand, rather than recorded loops, however
this required a complex musical understanding and composition abilities. Instead I decided to
use royalty-free music from FreePlayMusic.com, which offers a library of professional-grade
songs freely licensed for use with media products such as my short film.

The ancillary tasks for the A2 portfolio both used still images. For this I decided to use Adobe
Photoshop to enhance the source images, for instance by colour processing to improve the
colour tone of the photo used for the poster, as colours appeared noticeably washed out in
the original unprocessed image. I later used Photoshop to apply the text to the magazine
article and poster elements, in the case of the magazine I also selectively applied a zoom blur
to make the people in the background of the shot appear as streaks, and effect inspired by
night-time timelapse photography, in the poster, I used layer masks and selection tools to
sample the brick/concrete textures of the background photo and apply similar texture to the
writing, creating the impression that is was part of the scene, rather than superimposed. This
added depth to the poster by making the text have some imperfections, rather than being
perfectly smooth. Another feature of Photoshop which I used was the pen tool; I used this to
extract individual leaves from the ground and layer them above the text, again creating a
sense of depth as the text was blended in with the objects in the foreground.

Using my own computer to produce video gave me more flexibility when exporting video, and
would allow me to export to the MP4 format which YouTube recommends. In order to achieve
this I exported a raw DV (uncompressed) file from iMovie, then used After Effects to produce
the compressed version. I decided to use YouTube for our draft because it is a well-known
website, so our video would hopefully get lots of views, and because using Google’s Blogger
service also creates a YouTube account automatically, so we already had an account on which
to store the video. Unfortunately YouTube’s audio detection flagged up the soundtrack we
used on the film as copyrighted, despite the fact it was obtained under a license which allows
the soundtrack to be used in our circumstances. I appealed the block and YouTube allowed
the audio to be used, however this wasn’t ideal so I decided to use a different provider to
publish the finished version. For this we used Vimeo, this had a couple of advantages; their
permitted file size was higher than YouTube’s, allowing me to post a better quality and higher
resolution version, and their copyright policy was more lenient, allowing us to use the music
from FreePlayMusic without dispute.