TLDR – Today was a very simple overview of wha t we need to hand in next month – what we should be writing, what the university expects to see, and how it should be presented.
Judith led the small lecture today, and rather than go over any specific ideas, theories, or areas of research, we were discussing what to write for our Research Report, how to write it, and what would be needed when we hand it in. In fairness, it was quite a useful lecture, but why we’re getting this in November, I don’t quite know.
The first thing to highlight was that the Research Report needs to demonstrate:
- That I have identified an appropriate research area / question,
- That I have sourced appropriate material to perform the research,
- That I have analysed and evaluated the sources in an appropriate way, and
- That I have communicated my findings clearly and concisely.
It should be 2000 words long (+/- 10%), be written in an academic style, and contain Harvard citations and references.
All that was written in the RIPU overview document, so it’s not really new information. The Report isn’t really the problem for most people, but I think the supporting documents might be the kicker. Along with the Report, we need to present an annotated Research File and a Body of Work. The Body of Work is probably the most concerning issue right now because I’m researching a lot of ideas, and not really creating anything. We’ve been told we should be creating things, but I feel like for film students (and curation students as well) it can be difficult. We can’t just go out and make a film. That takes a lot of time and effort. And usually a lot of collaboration.
Judith did try to explain, though, that the Body of Work can contain our practice and our plans for future work, which is a relief. We should look to fill it with things like experimental visuals, proposals and sketches, technical experiments, interviews, and similar types of practical things. Still, at the minute, I don’t have a great deal, so I need to up my game in that respect.
The annotated Research File is pretty much everything else we’ve used. Links to articles, websites, books, TV shows, films, interviews, etc. Essentially, what we’ve used and what we’ve learnt from it. That, I can probably just about manage, though I have used quite a lot already.
Our seminar today was very interactive (with our peers) and quite helpful. We were all asked to bring in a few images of our research, explain them to the group, discuss our ideas, and offer ideas and comments in return. I brought in a couple of pages of things I had been working on – nothing fancy, just a few screenshots from ideas:
The shots on the left were taken from a short video taken at a recent football game. The top one was a static shot taken with a DSLR camera, while the bottom one was taken with a GoPro strapped to the chest of the player. Both have pros and cons listed, and the idea was to show have different cameras, or uses of cameras, can either give an audience an unobstructed view of the overall action, or and immerse the viewer in the action (at the expense of the wider scene).
The shots on the right were taken from a BBC video on Youtube featuring David Attenborough and a virtual reality dinosaur. The video is a 360 degree immersive experience, where the viewer can change what the camera is looking at by simply tilting their phone or tablet, or using a mouse to drag the screen around if watching on a desktop monitor.
Our group ended up discussing the pros and cons of camera set ups and angles, as well as the introduction of CGI and VR in documentaries. What we all agreed on was that the director’s message will inherently influence the choice of equipment and the style of film. This may sound like an obvious thing to say, but when given a brief as simple as ‘film this football match’, the director will need to make a host of creative decisions, such as Why is this match being filmed? What do people want to see? What I am trying to show? Should I show the whole game, or just parts of it? Should the audience view from afar, or be a part of the action? Do I want to try and teach the audience something? And so on, and so forth. While I don’t intend on making any football films, I do want to make a wildlife film, so I should still consider the above question. Do I want to show an overall scene, or just a very specific moment? Do I want to teach the audience something new? Should we watch from afar or get as close as possible to the subject? All these questions will result in different cameras and equipment being used, and in different ways.
Likewise, in terms of virtual reality, augmented reality, or CGI, these should only really be used if they can enhance the story you are trying to tell. The conversation kept coming back around to use the right equipment to tell your story, don’t build your story around the equipment available. In educational or informative documentaries, these things may be incredibly useful, so should be considered, but only once your story has been planned and structured accordingly. I think I do want to teach audiences things, or at least highlight certain social issues, and I think that technology will play a key part in that now. I decided to partake in some audience research to determine what viewers like/dislike in shows, what they react to in the most positive way, and what sort of things stick in their memory after the fact.
Most of the groups had similar discussions about individual projects. Dibs, for example, was discussing his love of landscape photography, and his desire to go back and explore previous projects, and through discussion, we discovered that we simply wants to find the best way to make a living from his work. He decided to also do some market research to see what sort of photography people like and buy, to see where he can place himself in that market.
Today’s lecture was not massively helpful, but once again, sitting and chatting to students in our seminars often sparked the most interesting ideas. I’ve narrowed down my research field quite a lot recently, and now I can begin thinking about the best way to get my message across in the films I make. I’ll look at similar films or genres, see which ones are popular, and which ones dispense information in the most useful ways.
The RIPU module is slowly picking up, but I think that is down to me and a few friends off my course, and not so much the course structure or content. I can sort of see why it was designed this way, but it feels so inefficient. And the staff are overworked so we never really get a chance to interact with them in a useful environment for any period of time.