Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Post-Crit Thoughts for Drift 2

Hello, all.

Some things to keep in mind following this afternoon's Crit:

* Edits are different from effects. When we said "no effects" on the rough-cut silent sketches, we meant no wipes, dissolves, overlays, slowed/accelerated footage, oversaturation, color imbalances, contrast changes, added noise/speckles, etc. This does not mean we are looking for completely untouched footage straight from your camera; this is RAW footage, and should be kept private. We ARE looking for footage that has been assembled with thoughtful and precise edits: what happens when one clip ends and the other begins? Are you cutting at exactly the right moment? Is the tail end of clip #1 visually compatible with the beginning of clip #2? Are there rhythmic properties of a clip that you can highlight by juxtaposing similar rhythms in a second clip? The same with graphic qualities? Can repetition of a particular image or clip throughout the sketch be used to heighten a sense of drama or movement?

* Your two rough-cut sound sketches may feature whatever special effects (image and sound) that you wish to use. Here is your chance to try out some ideas to see if they may work for your final-cut sound video. More often than not, you will discover that you do not need special visual effects after all. You can almost always say something better using a well-considered edit than a wipe or dissolve or overlay. But, that's what the rough-cut sound sketches are designed to do: allow you to experiment with ideas in a shorter clip where the stakes are not as high, working out the bugs before you spend precious time and sweat on your final-cut sound video.

* The sounds you use for your rough-cut sound sketches can be realistic or abstract, long continuous takes or highly edited sonic adventures. What we will be listening for, however, is that these sounds are DIFFERENT from the sounds you posted for Drift 1. And, of course, that they function in a well considered image/sound relationship with the visual footage.

* We are looking for four rough-cut clips, two silent and two with
sound. These four clips should all be derived from your Drift 2 walks,
but should be different enough from each other that we can see that you
have considered the innumerable directions your work can take. We DO
NOT want to see you simply adding sound to one of your posted silent
sketches to make it a sound sketch. We want you to choose the BEST four
clips among all of your footage, not the ONLY four clips you have.

* Avoid portrait mode in your still photographs at all times. As you
peruse videos on the web, you will find very few, if any, videos
composed of portrait (vertical) shots. Landscape (horizontal) shots are
preferred because they best correspond to the standardized dimensions of
film and video. (We will not downgrade rough-cut silent sketches that
feature vertical imagery as long as you do not continue this practice in
your rough-cut sound sketches or in your final-cut sound video.)

* If you are setting up a long take where the camera is stationary and
the footage shows movement across or within the frame, then you must use
a tripod or otherwise secure your camera. A shaky camera undercuts your
carefully composed long take and distracts from your message.

* The ideal format for the web is detailed in the QuickTime Tutorial:

Compression: H.264
Quality: Medium
Frame Rate: 15
Encoding Mode: multi-pass
Dimensions: 320x240
Prepare for Internet Streaming: Fast Start

By all means, work on your video in the largest, highest quality format
possible in order to best view your footage in the studio, but EXPORT A
COPY of lower quality exclusively for web distribution on your Drift 2
Blog. Everyone knows that viewing a video on the web is different than
viewing a video in a movie theater or on television, so don't worry that
your work is being seen at a lesser level of quality than you would
prefer. Go ahead and save full-resolution top-quality versions for your
own archive and for other purposes, but, FOR THIS CLASS, we only want to
see WEB-COMPATIBLE videos posted to your blog. If a video takes too
long to download (or if I look on your PantherFile and see a 300 MB clip
instead of an 8 or 10 MB clip), then you have uploaded an uncompressed
video. If a video takes too long to load, then your viewer will
definitely move on to another website.

* If your clip is widescreen or does not strictly adhere to the 320x240
dimensions without distorting, then use black bands (if appropriate) and
try to shrink your playing window as closely to 320x240 as possible.

* Only MOV format videos are allowed. We do not want to see any AVI,
WMV (which don't play at all), MPG, MP4, W4V, or any other format other
than MOV. If you are editing in Windows Movie Maker or other Windows
app, then you MUST download a separate piece of freeware to convert your
WMV or other formatted file to MOV. See the syllabus for links to
conversion apps:

* Rough-cut sketches are edited clips that best illustrate some of the
ideas and directions you wish to pursue in your final clip. No longer
than 30 seconds, these rough-cut sketches are not meant to be perfect,
finished works of art (although they certainly can be well-made and
remarkable). If you post a fabulous, tight, breathtaking and
fully-realized rough-cut sketch, do not think that your work is done.
We will then expect to see an even more fabulous, tighter, more
breathtaking, and more complex final cut video. We are on the lookout
for recycled clips, and we will spot them right away.

* If you have posted a rough-cut sketch that you or your Lab Instructor
or your peers think is missing something or violates one or more of the
rules mentioned above, then you can simply post a revised version of
that rough-cut sketch in a new post. Remember that your Blogs are
online evidence of your work-in-progress, and stand as portraits not
only of you as a person but of you as an artist. Don't spend too much
time trying to perfect a rough-cut sketch. Fix what needs to be fixed
and move on to your rough-cut sound sketches.

* The final-cut sound video is longer than your rough-cut sketches (no
longer than 2 minutes) and should be a development of, and an expansion
upon, the ideas you explored in your sketches. We DO NOT want to see a
rough-cut sketch recycled (or simply lengthened with similar material)
into a final-cut sound video. We DO want to see a final video that
fully realizes the ideas and promise shown in the rough-cut sketches.
We DO want to see a final-cut video that emerges from your Production
Strategy (which, in turn, is derived from your Drift Assessment and Ten

* Your Drift Map for Drift 2 may be the same GoogleMap you used for
Drift 1 with additional "soundmarks" and "imagemarks" added for Drift 2
(preferably color coded so that the two Drifts can be identified) or an
entirely new map altogether. If this is the case, we will want to see a
MASTER MAP that shows the areas you explored in BOTH Drift 1 and Drift
2. We also want to see linking going on between your Research Blog and
your Drift 1 and Drift 2 Blogs.

* Some of you have expressed a desire to make a straightforward
narrative film. We say, "go for it," as long as your image and sound
materials come from your WALKS OUT IN THE WORLD. Rather than execute a
screenplay or fully-formed idea (a perfectly valid exercise, and one
that is covered in other classes), we ask that you go out on a WALK in
or through a particular site or sites, gather material from those
locations, and then sift through your footage in the studio to assemble
your final video. If you design your Production Strategy carefully
enough, you can place yourself in a situation where the material you
gather is perfectly suited for a narrative video. Sound and imagery
that reveals the inside of your dorm room, however, is not the result of
a WALK, no matter how you try to spin it. Gather that footage if you
absolutely need to, but save it for another class or project.

Okay, that's enough for now!