Massive Green Screen Success!

Since my last blog post, Dan and I have set up and filmed one of our videos for our projects, and we’ve analysed what worked and what didn’t. Dan and I came into the assignment confident of our video production skills, with great expectations of the results. While we’re both happy with the results of the video, i’m sure we can both agree that there were some elements that were successful, and others that weren’t.

We had assumed that the camera work would be easy if we set all the cameras up on tripods, pressed record then synced up the footage afterwards through an audio spike, but it proved to be a bit harder than we imagined. We had issues with cameras stopping the recordings at different times (this is due to the SD card writing speeds and the limitations that the companies put on the cameras to avoid taxes – apparently that’s actually a thing).

Another issue I found afterwards, was throughout the video, when we’re reacting to the video and talking about what was happening and our thoughts, we were constantly referencing things that had happened to us earlier that day, and jokes that the audience wouldn’t understand for lack of context.

We had also assumed that after downloading the movie, that it would come with subtitles, because it promised there were hard coded subtitles. Well, we found out the hard way that there were no subtitles, but we concluded afterwards that it was probably a good thing, because it allowed us to talk more throughout the video (even though I had written in my previous blog post that we would avoid that), and react more energetically to things we considered not normal.

After recording the video, even though we have 1.5 hours of footage (on each camera!) to go through and cut down, i’m confident there’s enough good material to see us reacting and analysing the films. I’m also confident in the techniques and production of the videos, it took a lot of effort and some trial and error, but it was very successful, and we’re talking about continuing the video series after we finish our individual assignments, because we had so much fun!

If I was able to make a change to the videos series, I would have people operating the cameras, so they aren’t always static shots, and they’ll be able to know when the cameras stop recording, and can direct and prompt us if something isn’t working, or if we should address a production issue.

The overall academic approach of autoethnography to watch the film was successful, I found that without the subtitles and with no english parts, and especially both having a background in film work, we were able to see the asian influence and culture throughout the film, and we talked about whether or not some of these techniques were useful or not, and we had disagreements on whether or not we liked these techniques, but it was a great way to watch an asian film.

Being completely honest, if I had the option, I would have watched it with subtitles, because throughout the film, there were parts and scenes we just didn’t understand, and it made it hard to understand the relationships the characters had with each other, because we had to rely on body language and how they interacted with each other. The lack of subtitles however did make more character engagements more noticeable, especially some that we didn’t consider normal, and we had to make assumptions and broaden our thinking to understand the movie.

So overall, the filming was a great success, and I look forward to both of our edits of both of our films, and to see what other people think about this approach of autoethnography in film and video.

Video Techniques for Autoethnography

For my individual research project, I wanted to explore the differences in films produced and released in Asia, compared to the movies I usually watch. I wanted to examine what I thought was normal, and what I thought wasn’t normal, but how their different techniques affected the film overall, and how it affected my overall opinion of the film.

So to achieve this, I had to set up an environment where I could watch an asian movie, and also record my reactions to the movie, so I could clearly show through my expressions, what I thought wasn’t normal – or at least in my culture. I found that a friend of mine also had a similar idea, so we decided to help each other out throughout the process, but we would both have our assignments reacting to an individual film.

When Dan and I were discussing how the best way to produce the short video was, he referred me to an online television program he had been watching for a while called ‘Ancient Aliens’, and we both instantly agreed that following a similar set up would be perfect for our assignments. If you watch an episode of theirs which i’ve linked below, you can see that the television series follows a bunch of dudes getting intoxicated and watching the series ‘ancient aliens’ (which is an alien conspiracy theory series). The twist however, is that they are filmed watching it on a lounge in a massive green screen room, so the background of the video is the series they’re actually watching! It’s a technique that I hadn’t found before, and that combined with the funny and unique editing style of the show it clearly shows how we’ve experienced the film.

Ellis, Adams and Bochner talk about autoethnography in their published works as being an individual approach to research, submitting and submersing yourself to the environment you’re trying to study, and then recording your findings through field notes. Then through these field notes, you’re able to better understand the subject of study from a unique perspective, which is particular useful when studying things in another culture where you may have particular thoughts or stereotypes about the culture.

Taking Scholar’s like Ellis, Adams and Bochner and their ideas about autoethnography into account, our approach to filming and reacting to them perfectly highlight the principle of autoethnography, we’re planning to submerse ourselves and react to the footage. The use of the green screen behind us allow the viewers to see what we’re reacting to, and it also allows us to use this unique editing style to perfectly demonstrate how we’re reacting to the movie rather than just annotating what’s going on in the movie.

For this assignment to work, we’ve had to set up multiple cameras to be filming us. We’re planning on using 3 digital camera’s, two with wide angles, and one with a closer shot of us to see our reactions. We’re also using a go pro to get an ultra wide angle of the whole environment. Dan bought a bunch of green sheets and stitched them together, and we plan to use pins to hold the sheets into the wall. We’re going to be having a table in front of the couch (as we plan to eat pizza and have a few drinks – who said assignments can’t be fun), but we’re going to be covering it with the green screen so all you can see is a bunch of hovering pizza and drinks. We’re also planning to have a very relaxed and laid back vibe throughout the video, as we think not having too many rules governing the production will be more beneficial to the autoethnography process, as it allows you to see how we truly reacted to the film, and how we actually experienced the film.

Dan tested the video idea briefly by himself which you can find over on his youtube channel Danger Dan, and you can see how the video production technique really makes it submersive for the viewer as well, which refelcts the autoethnography process. After filming and editing the video, we’re both going to be uploading the videos to our youtube channels for hosting and then submitting them.

We plan on filming this on a thursday night when we’re all available, and treating it like a movie night with some drinks rather than an academic video production. So stay tuned for the next blog post to see how it panned out!

ACTION BRONSON WATCHES ANCIENT ALIENS. (2016). [film] Viceland: Action Bronson.