Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Face Down

Finished Ancillary Tasks - Magazine and Poster

After producing our film we could finally finish the review section on the magazine - speaking about our split screens and Guy Ritchie style snapshots. Thus we have finished the ancillary tasks for 'Face Down' to a good standard. With a consistent colour scheme in the poster and magazine.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

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

Create your own video slideshow at

Adobe Premier Pro - Once the pre-production and filming stages of our project were completed, Adobe Premier Pro was our primary resource in creating our film. The majority of our film was edited and exported using Premier Pro, and by experimenting with the various effects available we discovered the ‘Luma Key’. We found this helpfull to provide a darker and gloomier hue to our footage, to further enhance the gritty atmosphere we were aiming for. We also used premier pro during the evaluation stage of our production to edit the footage for both the audience feedback section and ancillary task evaluation.  

Garage Band - We had a clear idea during the planning stages of the music and ambience that we wanted to create for our film.  We used Garage Band to produce an original and suitable piece of music, a blend of jazz like rhythm and rock, similarly found in films such as Ocean’s eleven. We also wanted to create a more gloomy and dramatic section of music for the ending of our film, effectively helping to darken the tone and atmosphere. Whilst it was relatively easy to construct a soundtrack, we had to use the pre-detirmined tracks provided by Garage Band, as creating our own melodies from scratch proved to be quite difficult. However, by combining several different tracks we were able to compose suitable music whilst avoiding any difficulties posed by using any copyrighted music. 

Facebook - We utilised Facebook to obtain a wider range of audience feedback post-production. By posting our finished film onto Facebook we were able to recieve a lot of helpful feedback, which has helped us to critically evaluate how successful our product is and the ways in which we could have improved it.

Microsoft Publisher -Microsoft Publisher was used to create both our Teaser poster and our magazine review. We firstly created the poster, utilising a black backround and a minimalist approach to our poster to connote the ambiguity of our film, inspired by the poster for the film 'Buried'. We also used Publisher to create the magazin review, which we were inspired to create by prestigious magazines such as Empire and Total film. By using Publisher we were able to easily emulate a similar style, using font stylings and text boxes to our colour specifications. We found Publisher fairly easy to use, providing a simple way to produce what we wanted. However, there were complications when trying to produce a hard copy as the text and borders tended to merge together due to the size of the printer paper. Whilst Publisher was very useful in creating our ancillary tasks online, it posed problems when trying to produce hard copies.

Adobe After-Effects - So that we could include a suitably ‘explosive’ Afghanistan scene, our group used Adobe After-Effects to add In extra sound, motion blur, bullet effects and the explosion. By getting footage of our main character running through an area that could (with some FX tweaking) be passed off as Afghanistan, the lighting was altered to create the effect of bright sunlight and heat. After-Effects was very useful in adding to the realism of our Afghanistan scene, and helped us to break the boundaries of what would we would normally be able to produce, and challenged us to break the limitations that we would otherwise have had when trying to create a believable war scene. By watching several online tutorials we were able to grasp the techniques to create the explosion. - We frequently used during our production stages to obtain appropriate sound effects. To create a realistic explosion for our Afghanistan scene we found a suitable explosion sound effect and the 'ringing in the ears' noise that we decided to use after the explosion for shock value. was extremely useful for obtaining any non-copyrighted sound for us to use in our film, specifically any musical tracks and sound effects.

Youtube - We also utilised YouTube as a quick and convenient way to upload our evaluations, finished film and pre-production tasks to our blogs. This was similarly helpful in uploading our production to Facebook, allowing us to gain useful feedback both from the social networking site and from any YouTube comments. We also found YouTube useful during the planning stages of our film to research any similar films to ours. By having access to trailers to films such as Rock n Rolla, 23 and Casino Royale we were able to gain inspiration for our own project. We would use a USB stick to take the exported film from the school computer to home where we can upload it.

Prezi - To create a more diverse presentation for our evaluation tasks, we have used several different professional slide show creators and other technologies to respond to each question.
For example, we used the presentation maker 'Prezi' to create a much more interesting and diverse appearance to our answer. Prezi also allowed us to include photos, videos both ours and from YouTube and text to go into detail regarding our finished product. Whilst Prezi was useful for creating a quick and easy to use presentation, the tools to manipulate font size proved unwieldy, making it difficult to include all the text needed on a single slide, however we were able to combat this by breaking up the text with images and videos.

Animoto - We also used 'Animoto' as a way to quickly and efficiently show the different technologies used in a short image led PowerPoint set to music. Whilst Animoto allowed us to create an interesting and fast paced slide show, the absence of any text function meant that we had to provide separate analysis of our various technologies. Furthermore, the fact that we had to use a free trial version meant that we were limited to a 30 second slot.

Panasonic NV GS230 - For the majority of our filming we used a Panasonic NV GS230 to capture our footage. It proved to be very easy to use, and efficient for our purposes, and the only criticism would be over the short battery life, which on several occasions interrupted our filming process, costing us valuable filming time. However, on the whole it was very useful, as it was portable, reliable and produced good quality footage.

What have you learned from your audience feedback?

Whilst creating our film 'Face Down' we have sought audience feedback and learnt a great deal from it. Indeed at various stages of planning on our film and ancillary tasks we asked a variety of audiences to offer their opinions, thus helping us establish our demographic and improving our product.

The audience feedback led us to the poker film idea after comments that our initial football music video idea seeking to emulate Skinner and Baddiel's 'Three Lions' music video would be difficult to produce. Taking this on board we changed to the poker film idea and received more positive comments surrounding this idea.

This is the shortlist of film posters we created on our ancillary task, that we showed to audiences and asked which one they thought was best. The unanimous favourite was the middle poster, and we ultimately used this one heavily influenced by the audience's feedback. Furthermore, we asked general comments about the poster with one media student, Sophie Sinclair citing it 'wasn't something they would go to see' and was 'too mysterious' however a completely different perspective emerged from Oli Kent who thought it 'looked great' and liked the use of dark. From this and other research we established our demographic to be males aged between 17-40 where they can understand the complexities of poker and IVF whilst still enjoying the gangster narrative.

Using social networking sites we could accumulate honest and constructive criticism from a wide range of audiences, when posting our film we received a lot of feedback and took this on board. As well as feedback provoking changes it also reinforces something you weren't sure on. For example we were doubtful about the freeze-frames with text however after asking audiences we received really positive feedback, Dennis King saying it was 'very professional' and younger audiences enjoying the reference to Guy Ritchie films. One shot that came into question following our production was one of our characters leaving the room that was said to break the 'flow' however we felt this was necessary for the continuity, however we agreed that it could have been framed better.

We were always aware that our film could be stilted and boring and this is something that in early edits people found, however after audience feedback saying it was 'slow paced' and 'could be more exciting' we added an explosion and split screens. For this we were told it was the best part of the film, certainly it added pace and entertainment in a stylistic fashion. Another aspect of our film that was influenced by audience feedback was the very end as it was argued there wasn't sufficient 'closure'. Following this advice we added a scene in which we see Sean dead on the poker table, giving a definitive end and suiting the task.  

In conclusion we have learnt a great deal from audience feedback and their comments have shaped the product we have now. Our demographic was established by feedback, shots and ancillary tasks changed and aspects reinforced. We are thankful for all the help that a wide-range of people have provided through social networking sites, emails and surveys.

How Effective is the Combination of Your Main Product and Ancillary Texts?

Our short film and ancillary texts compliment each other well, as they both epitomise the enigma of our product. The ambiguous teaser poster and mystery depicted in our film concerning Sean's past, reinforce each other - and whilst the film review gives some information away it avoids ruining the twist. We wanted to maintain a consistent colour scheme throughout our 3 media products with black, white and red being prominent colours - which are seen in our poster and film review but more implicitly in some shots of our film such as Eddie in a black suit behind the red backdrop.

The pictures of our central characters in the magazine film review displays there characters, with the archetypal villain Eddie staring menacingly down the camera, unsettling the viewer whilst the nervous Sean is shown in desperation looking away from the camera drinking alcohol to calm his nerves. Clearly you can see the difference the character profiles make at the centre of our review opposed to the poster in earlier designs. In addition the mock interview, influenced by 'Empire' gives the director's perspective - informing the viewer of his intention, and humanising the characters.

Our teaser poster utilises the creative dark space, that was used by the film 'Buried' this enhances the enigma and suggests the dark themes within our film. The poker table surrounded by a faint glow symbolises the light at the end of the tunnel for Sean but it is a treacherous path with a host of unseemly characters standing in his way of obtaining the IVF money.

The cropped picture of our poster showing the table shares many similarities with the screen-shot from the beginning of our film as the high angle shots show the cards, chips and green base. Indeed we strove to achieve a good mise-en-scene that would resemble the poker table in our poster, however the former of the two pictures above solves the riddle posed in the teaser poster. Sean's fate is shown in the last shot of our film which neatly fuses together the ancillary texts and main product to form a narrative of their own.

In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?

To present our evaluation we used Prezi, an online presentation tool that allows you to easily and slickly show videos, text and images. The Prezi above highlights all the key aspects in our research of real media products and shows how me developed and challenged their conventions.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Face Down Finished

Today we completed the production of our 'Face Down' film on Adobe Premier Pro. The film begins with the 'garageband' music we created and titles that we used a dither dissolve effect to make it look more professional. To raise the volume of the voice over we use throughout we duplicated the audio layer and synchronised it so there was no echo.

To evoke a stylish and smokey poker room, adhering to the gangster genre conventions we used a luma key effect on every shots varying the darkness depending on the lighting. Using some '' sounds such as low note suspense builders and reverse clangs to give empathises to flashbacks and our stop time effect. Additionally, we achieved our aim of using split screens in the final poker scene, accompanied by a punchy bass line, to show the poker flop whilst maintaining view on both the main protagonists reactions and the main poker game.

Moreover, we showed the IVF motivation through a flashback before Sean goes all in - in which we added a re verb audio effect to make the doctor's narration seem dream like and made a mock medical letter in which we use close ups of the cost £5-10,000 and the chance of success. Finally, we gave closure to our film with a still of Sean dead on the poker table at the end of the credits - catching the viewer off guard by introducing a twist at the very end, which is introduced with an ominous suspense note.

We originally ran into complication when recording the voice over for our main character Sean, as the actor who plays him was unavailable to record. However, we decided to record the whole voice over dialogue using one of our own group, so that we could edit the footage accordingly. However, after much feedback from our audiences, we decided that the voice over we had recorded was far too dull, and to correct this we subsequently used a different person for the voice over, and our feedback allowed us to create a much more interesting and versatile recording. We then synced the dialogue with our footage, and due to the lack of any dialogue from the main character in the footage, we were able to incorporate the voice over relatively easily.

The feedback we received was positive and the only major pit fall was the omission of Sean's wife, which is something we would definitely include if we had the time. Over all we are pleased with the result of the film as it matches the genre we wanted to reflect.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Voice Over Script

Sean- voice over

I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly lucky guy
Poker’s a game where luck can come in pretty handy. Take a look (shows his hand of two Aces). But believe it or not this isn’t the type of place I tend to visit often or at all for that matter. First of all, take a look at my fine co-players
That’s Eddy, he’s the ‘Boss’ around here, nothing happens without his say so...He’s quite the poker Player.
This Guy’s Tommy, he’s the muscle for Eddy’s operation, an expert at making people’s life a misery.
As for the others at the table, they’re relatively small fish, most of them junkies and gamblers in debt to the big man, especially the woman; she’s a piece of work.
 In fact, I’ve never met any of these people in my life before, thankfully. They’re not your average upstanding citizen.

You see, I come from a pretty normal background, at school I wasn’t exactly a genius, but I wasn’t thick either. I wasn’t the coolest kid around but I wasn’t a loser either. I was normal. But there was one thing in life that I loved. The army, it was my life. I was a rifleman in Afghanistan, and served 2 tours of duty. And I was good (Trails off)
But I was wounded in the shoulder during operations in the Helmand province; perhaps you’d like to see it

But I guess all good things come to an end. After that the army gave me a leaving present of a disability payment and an inability to work.

Friday, 18 March 2011


Influenced by our music and footage we have made the decision to take further inspiration from the Guy Ritchie films such as 'Rock 'n' Rolla' by introducing the characters with titles, narration, freeze frames and some shots that summarise their character. Additionally, we are going to experiment with split screens to imply a busy atmosphere - these decisions mean that we are seemingly moving towards a more conventional gangster film however it will exaggerate the contrast of the gangster theme to the underlying IVF theme that is very serious.

Additionally, we have used After Effects with the help of a more adept visual effects artist in the group to create a bomb scene in Afghanistan. We added an explosion and gun shots with a good audio to highten the verisimilitude.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011


To accompany our footage we used 'Garageband' to create music, we used the preset loops and wanted to resemble the music in the 'Oceans 11' film with prominent bass and percussion, with quieter electric guitar interludes. This creates a stylistic, modern and tense atmosphere that fits the gambling genre perfectly. We also wanted to juxtapose the slick poker front to the gritty IVF storyline by using an emotional piano loop between the jazzy bass and drum music. We exported the garageband file as an mp3 file and using usb imported it into our Adobe Premier Pro production of the film. We then started synchronising the change in beat to the change in shots to give an empathised and slick shot change.

Thursday, 10 March 2011


Using the Re-Shoot Shooting Script we were able to film most of the shots that weren't of a good enough standard from the initial filming day. Continuity was a big obstacle - we had to attempt to recreate the same mise-en-scene that we had in the initial shots which was achievable in terms of the set and lighting however we couldn't control actor's appearance, but tried to mask this as best we could. To achieve the same lighting we used a loft light on the top of the door to bring up the light levels as it was naturally darker on the latter filming day. To have the drinks, chips and set in the right place we took several screenshots from the current edit and used this to re-create the set and urged our actors to endeavour to bring the same costume and with some characters grow their beard to a similar level for a more convincing verisimilitude. However, hair length was subtly different and one of our characters lost the black tie he wore in the initial filming and the best we could do was a black tie with white stripes. So varying hair lengths weren't scrutinised we took some shots of the character ruffling/re-arranging his hair to create the illusion that it is merely in a different position opposed to a different length. Overall we are happy with the shots and will look to further the editing and record the narration - we may have to expand the script to coincide with the footage.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011


Today we filmed a very short section of the film which will occur in one of Shaun's flashbacks - the shot is a point of view shot of Shaun running in Afghanistan and then falling back as the explosion goes off (an effect we will place in editing) to show how he injured himself. We used the location of the Verwood Sand hills as the setting looks fairly similar to the Middle East desert and it will be easy to adapt the colour/contrast settings in Adobe Premier pro. We cannot be too sure how the outcome will be until it is imported but we are hopeful that we can create the mise-en-scene of a war ridden Afghanistan - largely relying on the success of the explosion effect. We used a single camera, handheld and ran with it holding it at eye level to create the shot.

Monday, 28 February 2011

Film Shots

This is the shot of our villain Eddy - we have a red backdrop behind him which connotes danger and evilness, and to reinforce his dominance a man is lighting his cigarette but only his hands are in the shot whilst Eddy takes up almost the entire shot.

This shot is of our main protagonist - Shaun, exiting the building with Eddy's two thugs close behind him - the symmetry in the shot is something we are pleased with and in Guy Ritchie style Shaun is looking at the camera oblivious to the thugs that are about to capture him

This shot shows the busyness of the poker table and could be used as a establishing shot showing the characters, poker scene, drink and general mise-en-scene.

This summarises our protaganist's character as the shot of Shaun shows his uneasiness in the situation as he timidly sips on his drink whilst the thug in the foreground looks menacingly ahead - focused on the game.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Magazine Film Review and Poster - Ancillary Tasks

Now we have some footage we were able to add in some stills from our film, additionally we shortened the names 'FilmMonthly' and 'Samuel Tyler' to 'FM' and 'ST' after the first two names. Also, we changed the colour of the font colour in the top left so the audience can more easily differentiate between the text and we started the article with capitals to clarify the start. As before we followed the conventions of other film magazines such as 'Empire'. We saved the publisher file as a jpeg so it can be clicked to enlarge as a full review on the blog. As the film received 4 stars once we have finished our film we will add some critical analysis into the review to justify why it wasn't perfect. Therefore our poster is complete and the magazine review near completion with criticism the only thing to include. (our poster is below).

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Re-shoot Shooting Script

After importing the initial footage we need add some shots in and re-shoot others due to sound and continuity. Obviously we will need to consider continuity and we intend to re-shoot the main poker game again using the following shots;

Panning shot right to left of players

Wide shot of dealer handing out cards

Mid shot of every player looking at their cards then putting the blind in

Close up of player's cards

Reaction shot of cards (smirk, etc)

Close up of flop

Mid shot of every player checking

Close up of Turn

Remind audience of every ones cards in relation to the flop

Mid shot of Shaun drinking to connote nerves

Over the shoulder shot of Eddy putting chips all in

Mid shot of Eddy going all in

Close up of Eddy pushing chips in (repeat same shots for every player)

Wide shot of all players going all in - one after another

Extreme close up of every players eyes alternatively

Close up of River (last card on flop)

Reaction Shot Eddy happy - 'read em and weep'

Mid shot of Eddy revealing cards

Reaction shot of Thug annoyed

Mid shot of thug throwing cards on table

Reaction shot of Shaun - initially looks worried

Mid shot of Shaun revealing he is winner

Close up of Shaun smiling

Wide shot of dealer giving Shaun chips

Over the shoulder shot of Shaun - Eddy says 'just take your shit and go'

Mid shot of Eddy saying the above

Shot of 5 of the same cards on table

Reaction shot Eddy looks surprised then angry

Over the Shoulder shot Eddy picks up cards

Mid Shot Eddy smacks the table 'that son of a bitch cheated!'

Extra Mid Shot of Shaun, Eddy and Thug - checking

Shot of Shaun clicking his fingers

How did your research into institutions responsible for the production and regulation of the media influence your production work?

We researched similar film genres to see who was the distributor, the gambling film '21' used Columbia Pictures to distribute their film whilst '13 Tzameti' was distributed by Palm Pictures, a much smaller company who focus on innovative film. Our film isn't similar to many Hollywood blockbusters so would most likely use a smaller production company for distribution. Our film is quite artistic with lighting effects, stop-time shots and the breach of the fourth wall so it is not conventional, therefore a smaller innovative distributor or independent company would be appropriate.

However the film 'RocknRolla' shares many similarities with our film in terms of themes and cinematography thus the production company 'Dark Castle Entertainment' an up and coming company only established in 1999 that is most notable for the horror genre but is broadening its view. An aspiring company like this that is producing stylistic films such as RocknRolla would suit our film well. In addition the distributor of Warner Bro. would be ideal as it reaches a wide demographic maximising the chance for profit.

Dark castle logo.jpg

How did your research into audience contribute to your production work?

During the  production of our film, we encouraged feedback from audiences, in order to create a better film that is more suited to our demographic. We were therefore able to get an objective response from individuals which gave us a sound indication on the where we could improve on making a gambling film.
When we were creating our poster we asked a variety of different people their opinions which we took in board, we received mixed feedback some citing it was too ambiguous whilst others enjoyed the enigma. From this, a clear gender divide emerged with the majority of negative feedback coming from females who 'didn't think it was there type of flm' whilst positive feedback from males was more common. Thus seeking audience feedback proved a valuable tool to enhance our product; as we could cater the product to our audience. When we established our demographic we pursued the gangster 'Guy Ritchie' style even more using split screens and funky bass music. 

The potential audience originally had doubts about our first idea for a film, which was a football music video after being inspired by the previous World Cup tournament in South Africa. They believed that the concept would be 'hard to recreate' and this led us to changing our idea to the current gambling film to which we received positive criticism. The comments made from focus grouping are always insightful and valuable to the production of our film.

Indeed throughout the planning stage we sought audience feedback, through social networking sites such as 'Facebook' where you can post a video link and ask for response. This helped us narrow our demographic and improve our film. For example one person commented that their should be a definitive closure at the end to which we added the still of Sean lying dead on the poker table. In addition, audience research challenged our own ideas - and if we could explain a scene or idea to a viewer it made us re-think whether it was used correctly or necessary.
Additionally, we believe that the demographic for this film will largely be men aged between 20-50 who will be able to understand the technicalities of poker and complexities of the IVF treatment whilst also enjoying the gangster undertone - seen in films such as 'Scarface' that had a similar audience. 'Scarface' had an 18 rating and thus attracted an adult demographic, and with its mature themes and violence it would more likely appeal to the male gender.

Monday, 7 February 2011

How did your research into genre contribute to your production work?

As we are producing a poker film it doesn't directly fall into one genre but mimics the conventions of various other genres such as gangster, gambling and drama. We were able to find snippets in movies such as 'Casino Royale', 'Rounders', '13 Tzameti' and '21' where we could research the genre and recreate this in our own film.

From our research we discovered that the shots they use in the high tension gambling moments were often a sequence extreme close-ups of the eyes, evident in the Russian roulette scene in '13 Tzameti'. By understanding the conventions in the films of a similar genre we were able to deliberately break them and subvert them for effect, such as the breach of the fourth wall - something we took inspiration from the Guy Ritchie films.

We found that gangster films often have a powerful villain who uses suited henchman to impose his will, and we used this in our film, we also created the typical smokey atmosphere. However our film also falls into the genre of a drama, and in true 'Lost' style we hope to introduce flashbacks mid-poker game. Therefore by reseaching the genre we were able to follow the conventions shown as well as delieberately subvert them for effect, however further research into poker games on 'Sky' and 'Channel 4' to understand the logistics and meta language of poker as well as the characterisms of the characters when bluffing or raising etc.

Sunday, 30 January 2011


Whilst filming the poker scene, which makes up the majority of our film, we encountered various logistical problems but it was successful overall. We had to keep in mind not breaking the 180 degree rule, maintain continuity and make sure the shots are well framed and level.

Lighting was another concern as although we were filming inside it was a very bright day and the light came through the curtains. We tried to balance out this problem by using a lamp behind the camera to balance the lighting. I believe we were able to achieve a good mise-en-scene with cigars, whiskey bottles, suits, green table cover and authentic poker chips/cards creating a solid verisimilitude.

We had several technological problems with the microphones as they didn't appear to be recording sound at a high enough volume, so we had to use the cameras built in microphones however we have little dialogue as most of it is narration which we will record after we have uploaded the footage so it won't be as big a problem as it was last year. Some shots we wanted to attempt weren't possible such as the 360 panning shot of the poker players as the room wasn't large enough to manoeuvre the dolly around.

On the day we made some changes to the plot such as introducing a prior game to the focal poker hand to remove 2/5 of the poker players and giving the audience a chance to see all our characters playing and lowering the number of characters involved in the final hand to intensify the action.

Overall I think the filming was successful and as we filmed using two cameras we were able to gather just under an hour of footage which should hold us in good stead for editing.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Ancillary Task - Magazine Film Review

This is the near finish magazine film review for our second ancillary task, however the picture in the middle will be replaced by stills from the movie once we have got our footage. To complete this task we used 'Microsoft Publisher' to create the magazine spread  and studied the conventions of popular film magazines, 'Empire' in particular. The 'In Cinemas' section is inspired by 'Empire' where we list the release date, certificate, cast etc. We also decided to include an interview between the director after seeing it featured in many of the film magazines.