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  • Writer's pictureRKPROST

Coffee Reflection

My final video, which I created in COMM 261, is the product of my acquired knowledge through an extensive hands-on learning process about videography and non-linear editing. There are many concepts introduced throughout the course, which aid in the creation of a successful video. The three most significant ones to me are white balancing, incorporating audio effects in post-production, and the intentional use of graphics. The application of these three components to my video project contributed to its final form.

I previously knew about the importance of white balancing to ensure the colors recorded appear as they do in reality. However, I did not comprehend how paramount it is to white balance frequently throughout the duration of shooting until I watched my footage back in the media lab. Although one can stylistically alter the white balance, in general, it should remain consistent, which is the look I aimed to achieve. Since I filmed from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., I realized the sunrise impacted my lighting over time. Therefore, the next time I set out to film; I white balanced the camera approximately every ten to fifteen minutes to adjust to the glow of the rising sun. By doing so, I minimized the amount of color correction done in post-production for the master shot and Sam’s medium shot. Ultimately, this experience taught me about color correction as I tried to fix about half of Amanda’s shots to have a consistent look throughout the video. Although the look of the image on the screen is important, equally important is its accompanying sound.

Audio production is the one concept I had little previous experience with before this course. Therefore, I learned the most about how to manipulate audio in post-production this semester. Of course, I would not have needed to do so much correction in post if I had just ensured both audio inputs were set to record on the same channel during production in the first place. I found it tedious to apply the “audio fill” effect in Premiere Pro to every audio clip present, however, it made the audio channels move together for a consistent audio output instead of exclusively coming from one side. Now I know the function of audio fills and how to avoid this process for future projects. I also learned the importance of recording the sound of the environment. By putting the room tone beneath the main dialogue, the sound recorded from different days and microphones seemed to flow more naturally when spliced together. Additionally, the “constant power” effect, placed between the end or beginning of each dialogue exchange, allowed the sound of the conversation to sound more smooth compared to choppy without the effect. While audio and video help convey the personality which the creator of the project intends, graphics and music help to reinforce the video’s soul.

When one reaches the point where they decide to add graphics, they must reflect the mood of the project. Improper usage of these special effects can be hard to read, annoying to look at, or change the way the audience perceives the video. Although Adobe markets its abundant special effects, they aren’t necessary to create a successful video. I learned how to use the “legacy titler” and keyframes to simplify the application of graphics on screen and manipulate their movements to achieve rolling credits. I only scratched the surface with Adobe’s graphics capabilities, and I look forward to seeing what else I can create using that feature in the future. The ability to create special effects is limited to one’s imagination and what they technically know. Therefore, I used YouTube tutorials to achieve the desaturated look of the end montage and flash transitions.

The three most important concepts I experienced this semester were color correction, audio production, and purposeful graphics. The biggest takeaway I learned in this course, is that by taking more time to set up and prepare the camera while filming on location, one will minimize the number of corrections needed in post-production. An explanation of my video project from pre-production to post-production will provide a realistic assessment of the way my final project turned out. The first step in the pre-production stage was drafting a script in line with my concept.

The amount of preparation during pre-production enabled me to actualize my vision, so my project turned out pretty close to the way I had imagined it to look. I had never written a movie script, so I used an online program to format the dialogue. I found it difficult to cut out and shorten the script because my video’s message is a personal statement for myself. My actors used the fourth draft of the script during production at Empire Coffee. During the pre-production phase, the actors and location I intended to use changed from my original vision. By making the names of my characters gender neutral, it allowed me to cast either a male or female for either role. Additionally, the original coffee shop I wanted to film in could not accommodate my request. However, I am grateful toward Empire Coffee who not only agreed to let me use their space to film but had associates who willingly acted in my video. Before production occurred, I storyboarded the composition of my scenes based off of observations I made watching television crime shows interrogation scenes.

During production, I did not feel confident in my composition skills, but with guidance from my actors who are more experienced media majors, filming went relatively smoothly. The most challenging parts I encountered while filming was being flexible when the actors changed their lines from the script and ensuring continuity between shots. Additionally, my actors were quite tired due to waking up early, so I had to be patient and flexible when they strayed from their script. My script contained many lines of dialogue for my actors to try to learn, and I didn’t expect them to memorize much of them. The recording process involved filming each character’s over the shoulder shot on separate days, recording two dialogue exchanges in each take, and pausing for a short break for the actors to look at their new lines for the next one. Since I aimed the camera toward one actor on separate days, I could not capture true reaction shots. A closer look at the characters speaking in the reaction shots show what they say do not line-up with how the character moves their mouth. Having genuine reaction shots is something I wish I could have incorporated into my video. Also, since my video takes place in a coffee shop and a coffee mug was a necessary prop, I ended up repaying my actors in espresso drinks. Amanda’s drink each day we filmed ended up being the prop, but there are several errors in continuity throughout the video because she picked up the mug and drank from it. This is a detail the audience may overlook, but the shifting coffee mug is something I’m aware of in my video. Since I filmed multiple takes, I ended up needing three SDHC cards to store all of my footage to go through in the media lab.

I felt more confident in the post-production stage than the production stage. Although it took four hours to log and organize all my footage, in the end, it made finding and incorporating the good takes more efficient. I had never edited in the source monitor in Premiere Pro before and had some doubts about its usage during the introduction to the software, but in practice, I found it quite helpful to drag audio or video specifically to synchronize two separate sources together. My first version, which only contained the dialogue exchange was six minutes. From there, I knew I had to trim down the conversation. It was hard for me to let go of some of the lines since they were so personal to me, but it was necessary to move the story along. I also researched for two or three hours on how to create the flashing effect for my montage using YouTube tutorials. I synced the flashes in time with the jazz tune at the end. Jazz music played in the background while I filmed in Empire Coffee, so it inspired my video's personality and helped emphasize Reese’s resentment and exasperation toward Alex. After the rough cut, I experimented with color correction and audio adjustments. I desaturated the montage, inserted makeshift reaction shots, implemented the “audio fill” effect, added the short fades and “constant power” effects to the end of each audio clip, and added the room tone underneath the rest of the sounds. After I felt confident about the status of my audio and video, I experimented with the graphics in the “legacy titler” to create the rolling credits.

Overall, I am satisfied with my final project. I believe I accomplished the two goals I set out to complete before production began. From my video, I want my audience to feel as though they can remain steadfast in their decisions toward bettering themselves instead of feeling pressured into doing something they are not passionate about. I also think through this video, I successfully declared my separation from my previous relationship and job and now feel free to pursue what truly brings me happiness. This video also challenged my creativity and flexibility. This experience provided me the opportunity to produce my first narrative and gain benefit from overcoming obstacles regarding a change in actors and filming location, working around others availability, and correcting audio. I am proud of the work I put into my video this semester, and I am excited to see what other stories I will tell during the remainder of my time at UWS.

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