LA Factual

I’ve had the pleasure of working with the guys from LA Factual these past two months, creating and developing ideas

LA Logofrom documentaries to game shows. LA Factual are part of LA Productions, an independent production company based in Liverpool. Their work includes BBC One’s ‘Moving On’ and the award-winning ‘Common’, amongst many others.

My role has entailed being weird and wonderful with the biggest range of ideas you can imagine. It’s been important to bounce ideas off each other to then turn a fleeting thought into a fully-fleshed pitch.

Research is also a big element in the decision-making process. It’s amazing what you can find just from a google search, never mind a thorough investigation. Together, we’ve come up with some pretty interesting stuff. I hope we can pull it off and very soon I’ll be blogging about how you can watch it on ITV in a few weeks time!

A big thank you goes out to Simon, Christian and Michael at LA Factual, for letting myself and Lois into the world of LA and I can honestly say we’ve both been having a great time. Let’s keep it going!

Iceland

Can you tell my third year of Uni has well and truly kicked in? I haven’t even updated this blog with my Iceland photos! So busy at the moment, but that’s just the way I like it to be honest. My Production Project is in for the end of this month so it’s full steam ahead right up until then.

In the meantime, here are some photographs from when I went to Iceland for my 21st Birthday. We went to Reykjavik, I seriously could not recommend this place enough. It’s a beautiful place, with wonderful people. We went dog sledding,  had a dip in the Blue Lagoon and went whale watching but unfortunately didn’t see any!  IMG_2075 IMG_2084 IMG_2356 DCIM100GOPROIMG_2379 IMG_2384 IMG_2388 IMG_2389 IMG_2391 IMG_2401

ITV Pitching Workshop

itv blog

Yesterday I attended a very exciting workshop with ITV and John Whiston (creative director, continuing drama), developing my skills in pitching and developing ideas. The main event was when the workshop was split into groups and we had to pitch our ideas to our groups to then develop and present to the panel. My idea was primarily about invisible illnesses, and the group decided that this was the concept we should develop into an idea.

It was great to share and collaborate with like-minded people about my idea, I could see it flourishing in front of my eyes in ways that I didn’t even think about. It just goes to show that an idea shared, is an idea doubled. I pitched the programme to a panel of ITV producers and directors with a system that ITV had prompted us with. Unfortunately, we didn’t win the best idea due to the fact it would be more suited to other channels. However, they still loved it and we won best pitch and clincher!

So, I’m rather proud of my group and I. Overall, I had a really exciting and inspiring day. Big thank you to ITV’s team who came over to share their expertise with Liverpool John Moore University!!

CMP | Critical Evaluation

An Interactive Cinderella Story from Becky BG on Vimeo.

This is my final piece for Creative Media Practice, combining multi-screen narrative and QR codes.

I’m impressed with the how the two elements presented in the film really enhance the narrative of this modern-day Cinderella story. The split screen gives the audience ‘sneak-peek’ information, that the male character doesn’t know about the woman character, Cinderella. The QR code’s also give the audience a more in-depth view of the personal lives of the two characters. Without the QR codes, the film wouldn’t make sense, which I think is a great as it makes the audience interact with the video, instead of sitting back.

However, I feel the quality of the footage has let the production values down on this occasion. As I was concentrating so much on the two technologies I was experimenting with, I didn’t take into account the camera settings. This was a poor mistake, as I was shooting in very dark light. The ISO was too high which then made the footage grainy.

If I could continue further, I would really like to do the whole tale of Cinderella. Especially in this adaptation, I’d like to explore why Cinderella’s step-brother is ill and why Peter feels such a connection to her. I think this idea could really come to life and it would be interesting to develop further.

CMP | Cinderella Progress

These past two weeks have been dedicated to the production of my final piece for Creative Media Practice. More details about my proposal for the video exhibition can be found in an earlier post here. When I recieved the green light from my lecturer, the planning commenced. Changes needed to be made as the development proceeded. IMG_2202-2 The picture above shows my preliminary notes about the production. It was decided that I should take the first QR code out for usability with the audience. Otherwise, the audience would be rushing too quickly to scan each of the QR codes. I want the piece to be enjoyable, not stressful. Unfortunately, problems occurred with the software I was going to use to record the phone screen for the QR codes. I started to use ‘Air Server’, which was completely unreliable and caused a lot of problems, as well as taking a long time to reconfigure. So, I swapped software to an app that is available to download on iPhone named ‘iRec’, which worked brilliantly. The footage was then edited on final cut and made into QR Codes using this generator: http://www.qrstuff.com.

The shot list and shooting schedule for the main production took a while to put together. Twilight shots were needed for a lot of the scenes, which was extremely hard to shoot in. Especially in winter and due to the time of day, the sun sets very quickly. Therefore, a strict time schedule needed to be adhered to, which proved hard with four giggling actors. Still, the shoot was completed in two days.

However, after being concerned with the lighting, editing exposed that I didn’t use the best camera settings whilst shooting the night time scenes. The ISO was way too high, which created a lot of grain that I only just noticed when going into post-production. However, using Final Cut Pro proved easy to use, so colour grading helped to brighten and cut out some of the noise.

Anyway, I’ll let you be the judge on how well I did, incorporating the two techniques into a modern adaptation of Cinderella in my next post!

CMP | Concept for Individual Presentation

I have now entered the second half of my Creative Media Practice module, which requires me to “conceive, develop, implement and finally present, a novel narrative media project” (Creative Media Practice Module Guide, LJMU). The idea is to collate all of the methods I have learnt from the past four mini-briefs, and then exploit the best technique(s) to tell a narrative.

I have chosen to do a modern adaptation of the classic fairytale, Cinderella. I will be implementing both split screen and QR codes to enhance the narrative, enabling the audience to see the separate lives of the two main characters. I feel that this can benefit the audience’s entertainment, using Hitchcock’s Theory of Suspense. The audience will know what is happening in Cinderella’s life, which is causing her to leave the ‘Prince’ without notice, causing suspense as the ‘Prince’ is left clueless.

Also, the QR codes allow the audience to see the main characters personal lives through their mobile phones. The narrative is designed so the QR codes can be seen as clues. It is essential for the audience to use the QR code facility, especially to find out the true conclusion.

My adaptation will be called ‘Elle’, starting with a young man and woman dancing at a party. The woman whispers in the mans ear and they both disappear to different locations. The split screen will show him going outside, implementing a QR code that reveals he is texting a friend asking where he is. The second screen will show the woman in the bathroom mirror, reapplying her make up.

A QR code exposes an alarm that startles her whilst in the bathroom; the note attached to the alarm simply reads ‘Alex’. She starts to run from the party, fleeing past the man she has spent the night with, dropping her bracelet on the way. He shouts for her, the split screen becoming one as she goes into the distance. He notices she has dropped her bracelet and picks it up.

A series of QR codes and split screens then take the audience on a journey of discovery, learning that she had to flee to give her ill brother his medication. The narrative goes on to show how much the man has fallen for the woman. Putting a picture of the bracelet on Facebook, asking his friends to share and help him find the woman who owns the bracelet. He needs to find her. The woman, on the contrary, is sat at home, caring for her brother. A text comes from her friend directing her to the man. She is overjoyed and adds him on Facebook. The story ends there, with the audience knowing that this is just the beginning for the new couple.

CMP | Week 4

Last week saw my final mini-breif for the Creative Media Practice module. The session explored the use of annotations in YouTube videos to create a non-linear, interactive narrative. YouTube enables producers to edit ‘boxes’ onto their videos, which can take the user to a completely different website, video, or even section of the video. Producers have exploited the annotation function in YouTube to create short films and clips that the user can interact and engage with.

The function is used in many different ways. For example, annotated videos can be used as a game, much like the one shown below.

There is now an endless list of possibilities that you can do with annotations, from promotion and story videos, to educational videos. My favourite is shown in the video below.

This has had an excellent effect in the development of narratives, giving producers a greater level of creativity and the ability to engage with the audience. The diagram below is named Freytag’s Triangle. This is from a book Freytag wrote called ‘Technique of Drama’, published in 1863. The diagram shows how the main character determines the rise or fall of the plot.

triangle 1

Mark Meadows (Pause and Effect, 2002)

Edgar Allan Poe rearranged this triangle, brining his readers closer to the story. The diagram below shows how this brings us one step closer to interactivity.

triangle 2

Mark Meadows (Pause and Effect, 2002)

With the current technology of today, there a various amounts of diagrams that explain the broad range of narratives authors can now produce. The diagram below, named the Nodal Plot Structure, best symbolises how annotated YouTube videos work. Nodal plots contain a series of non-interactive events, which come to a point of interactive events.

triangle 3

Mark Meadows (Pause and Effect, 2002)

However, my group and I were able to create an annotated YouTube narrative that follows the Open Plot Structure diagram, shown below.

triangle 4

Mark Meadows (Pause and Effect, 2002)

Below is my group and I’s submission for the mini-brief. There are four of us to find, see if you can catch us all!

After playing the YouTube video, you can see how the narrative matches the Open Plot Structure. There are points of decision that carry the user to the next point of decision. Open Plot structures are described to be the most expressive for the user, by Mark Meadows in his book, ‘Pause and Effect’ (2002).

The interactive video that I experimented with taught me a lot with how to engage a user. Although the narrative takes a lot more planning, filming and editing, it seems to be a worthy technology that I should consider for future productions. I feel the Hide and Seek game conveys clearly how annotated YouTube videos work, as well as creating a fun narrative. Although, I do feel the annotations need to be a little more clear cut. Sometimes when the user clicks to go to a certain section of the video, a frame from a random section is shown, creating an unprofessional look. If I had more time I would have done this on a much larger scale, possibly across the city of Liverpool. I would get the user into trouble by ‘trespassing land’ within the video, or create comedy by running and falling over an object whilst searching for characters.

Overall, I feel the annotation facility in YouTube is a great, free facility that all creative-thinkers should definitely explore.