Sunday, November 06, 2011

Methodologies in story form -

A friend who's bought a 5D got into a protracted conversation with me over a story I'm making. I shot on super 8mm. Could he achieve the same look using After Effects?

Sure, I said, but I thought he missed asking a more appropriate question.  Why would he?

The allure for nice pictures can often cloud the purpose of the film. The problem though is two fold. Not knowing what you want the compositional elements of the film to say overall.

Videojournalism is a freudian chess game where you alone are trying to anticipate stages ahead, by playing against yourself and your alto ego - the lone audience.

Oh yes he knew to create a textual narrative, but understanding a whole set of parameters: his placing, framing, lens language, parrallel editing - that was a new conversation piece.

The moral to this edited logic is captured by Stanley Donen the great film maker behind the likes of Singing in the Rain (1952) speaking to one of the people I admire, Film maker and all-about-everything Mark Cousins.

"The camera's just a pen. It's how you use it". It's a well worn phrase, but Donen injects life and purpose into it. So 5Ds may be de rigeur but it's not unsurprising that an alternative look to the status quo should draw attention. Watch out how in ten years we're all be eulogising over deep focus.

Put another way the project and person dictates according to a set of variables, what equipment and style they should use and your methodology will differ, or not to mine.

The most rewarding task in lecturing is helping people find there; for there are no definitive answers. It's just that we're so creature of mimicry that it's so much easier to have the template there to copy and adapt.

Video Methodologies
Looking into methodologies opened up this window of interest.
  • Last week a behind-the-scene shoot with the Master students putting together a news programme
  • Tomorrow an awards ceremony I'm attending, from being nominated for an award
The GUBA Awards is Ghana's professional community recognising each other. As awards go, this lavish event will be a procession of the good and great: some footballers who wowed us in the World Cup, and pop stars with global fans.

Somewhere in there I have been snuck in for a nomination. I have no intention of entertaining the idea of an award. Yes everyone says that, but trust me on this one.

But the stories, think of the many stories - I do.  And not just at the Plaza Place hotel and the individuals, but back in Ghana, the biggest of which has to be the oil its discovered of its shores. How epic is that!

Meanwhile, my mental state back in the UK, I've all but completed the cut on our MAs at work, but a couple of things struck me so evidently in the process. Firstly, developing a variation on the human tripod that ensured a "steadycam" effect and secondly in editing.

That is how I could frame the outcome of the story into any number of forms or genres.  Herein lies the seeds of methodologies, how we convert something informational into something affective, complex into simple, or news into accelerated cinema.

As it happens I have spent the best part of that week writing up my methodological approach to videojournalism into my thesis.

So I have been living out of  my garage undergoing the equivalent of an archeological dig, rummaging through papers and articles from 1989 which have become sturdy references. Take this one from 2001 The Family - a videojournalism and multimedia artifact made in 2000 using game theory.

Strange as this may seem, but part of discourse is thinking in scale. Something delivered principally for online has a different "thisness' than something built up in scale for the big screen.

I have learnt that watching videojournalism films I have made being shown on the big screen in Berlin, various doc fests and at the Southbank Centre.

This is something rarely discussed as most of us don't have access to the silver screen unless we enter film competitions etc, but I believe this medium is becoming more and more commonplace and so I hope to share more about this at a forthcoming BFI-BBC-UCLAN event on videojournalism.

If you've come across the first one we produced seen here on the BBC Journalism College , the next one looks to go one stage further.