Blog post #3 (the making of MEDIA PRODUCT #1)

Media product #1 to me was a bit of a challenge on the spot, much due to my lack of caring for nature in general. So when the media product had to state my relationship to it, what was I supposed to do without making a video which would make me seem like some sort of city-boy which prefers tarmac and the smell of gasoline over mountaintops and fresh air? (Disclaimer: I am not that type of guy either.)

So what is my relationship to it? Well, it’s there. And that’s basically it. Sure, it’s important and pretty, but to me there is no deeper meaning. No passion, no wonder, no awe. It’s simply there because it is.

I had to dig deeper. Obviously this media product intended for us to film out in nature and make nature look good. Doing otherwise was clearly not an option. In addition, it would need to be tied in with the narratives of my group members’ products.

But then an idea struck me. Rather than focus on enjoying nature, can’t I show that nature is something I am able to overcome when needed? That even though I’m no mountain climber, I can get to the peak of a mountain just because I am stubborn, despite struggling?

It’s the story of the little guy overcoming an obstacle, in this case me overcoming nature to show it it’s not able to stand in my way.

The video opens with a shaky pan across a view of steep mountains to show them as big, challenging, and potentially a bit frightening. The voice-over further states the role of the mountain as my adversary, more or less making it the villain of my short story.

The shakiness of the shot is one of the things I’d rather have re-done, but unfortunately, it is how it is. I don’t find it too bad, and it can come across as more dramatic due to the shaking, though I still think a steady pan would have been better.

The next shots are of me inside my room, filmed by myself. The outside light is always blown out, and that is a conscious decision. After all, right outside my window is a parking lot and several student appartment buildings. With the light blown out, you can imagine that I’m looking out at the mountain I am about to climb, sighing at the thought that I have to do it in the first place. But I fasten my backpack, tie my shoelace tight and head out the door with a determined walk.

Lighting was hard to control, with no studio lights and having to blow out the outside light in the first place. Also, filming by myself proves difficult as far as framing and focus is concerned, and many shots took many tries to get right. I believe if I had a good cameraman to help me it would have made the shots all much better and easier to do. But doing it by myself proved an interesting challenge, so despite the final products being somewhat lackluster, I am quite happy with it.

Then there are the shots of me walking and climbing. I tried getting some dramatic angles to make it seem like a hard climb. For this I did have the help of my group at Standal, however, our time was rather short, so only a few select shots could be made. But for such a short video, that was all I needed. One more shot of myself could have added some more to the video, but I am happy with what I got from such a small selection.

At the very end is a shot which zooms out and reveals me and my group all together, looking at the view. This is meant to wrap up the trilogy of videos when shown back-to-back more than focusing on my own individual experience. We have all climbed somewhere in our individual videos, and the end shows us all coming together, having achieved something.

The zoom-out effect is a bit of editing trickery, though. It’s not even that tricky. We just didn’t have anyone to do movements with the camera while shooting, but a static shot would be plain boring, so despite the warnings I’ve heard from quality-fanatics in my class, I zoomed to get the wanted effect. Of course, it does reduce the quality of the image, but not enough to make it less good than a normal still shot in my opinion. The timing for it to stop the zoom-out effect is also carefully timed to match the beat of the music so not to feel out of place and attempt to increase the feeling of achivement.

Speaking of the music, it was chosen based on some choices my group members had for their videos. With one saying she would likely have little to no music in her video and the other say she wanted something calm, I figured that for my video of me vs nature, I would choose something which stepped it up a bit. I found a piece of music on YouTube composed by David Fesliyan called “Epic Build Up,” which was free to use for non-commercial products. With a quick piece of cutting and editing on it, I managed to fit the calmer, early part of the build-up early on in my video and make it more or less seamlessly switch to the more epic-sounding part at the end. After testing out how it’d work in the transition between videos when the group put all of them together, it didn’t fit as seamlessly between the videos, so for the sake of the full product there has been some minor changes involved at that point. But once done, the soundtracks melded quite nicely together, becoming more and more powerful until the final few seconds where it peaks in raw power and emotion.

I also took care to get sound recorded for my videos, as I wanted to use on-location sounds with the video to make it sound more authentic. And mostly, this worked. The only two sound effects I needed to found on the web were a good one of walking in grass, used when I walk up through the tall grass, and wind blowing, which were used both on the view at the beginning of my video and the view where my and my group are together at the end. In general, the sounds are there to make the shots feel less empty. I could easily have done it all with just the music, but it’d feel too boring that way. I believe adding in sound definitely helped, especially the wind effect. After all, having that constant strong wind in the background makes it all feel like a big, open and wild landscape all the more than if it was silent, which in the end strengthens the view of the mountain as the big scary enemy to be conquered and the feeling of achivement at the end when we’ve reached the top.

In short, this video has some lackluster video quality and make-shift solutions to problems made in the making of it, but I hope that when shown, it will get across the message of the cynical relationship I have with nature and how I am not letting it beat me when it’s in my way for any reason.

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