Friday, 28 September 2012

Not Your Average Pen Drawn Portrait...

This amazing piece of artwork was featured today on the BBC News website. This portrait of Les Misrebles' Cossette is by Britain's Got Talent contestant Nathan Wyburn and was created using nothing but parts from standard ball point pens. The artwork was reported to have taken 23 hours and complete and is made up of 2,436 empty pen barrels, 3,591 lids, 460 clips and 290 pen ends!

This young artist deserves an award just for his patience alone. But personally I think it shows what can be achieved with the right amount of imagination and creative flare.

Keep being creative!


Thursday, 27 September 2012

The Pantry Ghost Documentary

Just a quick post for you today.

I don't know about anyone else but I am a big fan of the Paranormal Activity films. I really like the look and feel of these low budget films and really capture the imagination of the audiences watching the films. I remember when I first saw the original and it freaked me out! Of course it didnt help that my friend wound me up by telling me that it some an actual viral police video that was making the round on the internet. Oh how gullible I was!

However, looking back now I am glad that my friend did this to me as it is very rare these days that a scary film actually remains scary. Once you have studied media for a long time rather than just watching a film you find yourself analysing every little section of the film. It really does get on my girlfriends nerves when I start talking about camera effects and the quality of the direction of photography. But that to me is what a great film is. It's not just about been enjoyed by an audience but it also means that it impresses savvy media professionals such as ourselves.

My love for the Paranormal Activity films hasn't stopped either. It was only the other day when I was online looking at the trailer for Paranormal Activity 4 when I accidentally stumbled upon a fan page dedicated to paranormal films and videos. This straight away got me interested as I am always on the look out for a new film that must just achieve scaring the pants off me!

As i scrolled through the form I was seeing a lot of different low budget films and general YouTube footage. However I did come to a section that intrigued me. The forum was dedicated to a selection of video's on YouTube called the pantry ghost. The video's are said to have been shot by one family over a period of time while living in a house in the U.S.A. I decided to give these videos a quick watch and there was one in particular that really did make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up a little bit....

Now as a man of media I was of course very sceptical, as were a lot of other people on the forum, discussing how the video's could have been faked in some way or how CGI could have been used. As I scrolled through a bit more I discovered a link that had been posted quite recently about a documentary that has been created dedicated to the video's posted on YouTube. Curiosity got the better of me and I decided that I would go ahead and purchase The Pantry Ghost Documentary.

I must admit that after watching the documentary there was still a lot of unanswered questions in my mind and if anything it made me further doubt that these video's could be real, and this is why:

If anyone is a fan of these kind of film where it is shot in first person i.e Blair Witch, Cloverfield, Paranormal Activity, then you will know that there is always some sort of internet build up and promotion. Before the films are released and in some cases even created the directors will start an online frenzy by releasing tiny bits of information related to the films out into the public through the use of the internet. In my opinion this documentary isn't any different. I don't think that this was planned on such a large scale as that but I do believe that it may have been started as a little project that eventually grew to be a bit of a internet sensation amongst both viral video and paranormal enthusiasts.

However, I do believe the documentary is note worthy. I think that this is a good example of what can be achieved through the use of media and great promotion. The documentary as well, even though it is low budget, is quite impressive.

If your into this kind of thing or even if you are just intrigued yourself as to whether you think these video's maybe real or not I definitely recommend giving it a watch. I enjoyed watching it from both a paranormal interest point of view and from an analytical media point of view. I think any student of media would also find it useful to watch as an inspiration for any possible documentary work you may do as part of your studies, portfolio, or even just for a bit of fun with friends.

Until next time, keep being creative!


Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The Very Beginning - Student Life!

Ok, not the greatest title of my first blog post, but we all have to start somewhere. This is officially my first blog and so to start out I thought I'd tell you a little about how I got started in media and why it is I've decided to start blogging!

I've been working in and around the Media industry a while now. I've not long finished my degree within Media but have worked within the industry for almost 5 years and I believe that theres nothing that teaches you more about media than actually going out there and learning the trade in a working environment. Gone are the days of 3 month project hand in dates and late night drunken antics, replaced with 12 hour deadlines and a social life that its near non existent. They try to warn you in University that working life within the industry will be tough but nothing really prepares a student who is fresh out of Uni with their degree just what is expected of them within the work place.

This is exactly what happened to me. I hadn't actually finished my degree at this point but I was keen to start gaining some work experience. So me and a friend took on a job creating a video for a club night in the city. Been new at everything we just left everything to chance, we didn't write a story board, nor a production plan, or gained any permissions from any of the venue staff or managers. We just expected to turn up on the night and have everything be ready for us. Oh how wrong we were! The night turned out to be a nightmare. Even getting in the club was hard enough as it took us nearly 30 minutes to get hold of the promoter just to gain access to the club with our camera equipment. Once inside we even had to sit and have a briefing with the management who instantly started asking us for forms and documents we'd never even heard of. Hearing the words 'you guys are new at this aren't you?' was not the greatest line to hear coming from a club manager!

But we managed to turn it around for the most part. We got out into the club and shot our footage. The night turned out to be quite a laugh and after we had finished we even had time to have a couple of drinks ourselves.

The next day was like any other. We got up and wondered into town to get some food and have a look round the shops, arrogantly planning our night ahead as we thought we deserved it seen as we had been working the night before. That was until 4pm came and we received a call from the promoter asking if there would be a viewing available of the footage that evening. Suddenly we had realised our next major mistake, these guys were expecting a very quick turn around, less than a week intact! To a student who's used to 3 month deadlines for a video thats 5 minutes long this seemed alien! how were we going to do it?

In panic Mike said we'd have some kind of edit finished for the next day. At this point I remember almost spiting my afternoon pint all over the table at those deadly words. See, staying up and editing something on a laptop or PC wasn't a problem. However this was our first year at university and we pretty much relied on everything the Uni could provide us. This meant having to rush to the University before they closed the booking office before 4:30 and pray that on some blind luck one of the rooms had not already been booked out by someone else. I didn't like our chances one bit but now we didn't have a choice but to try.

We quickly finished our drinks a ran as quick as we could across to the university building, and as id predicted, not one single editing suit was available. So, we did the only thing we could do.... we snook into one of the rooms after the booking office was closed. We decided that blind ignorance would stand us in good stead. If we just pretended that we had booked the room out then there would be no one to argue with as the booking office was closed. So with that in mind we went and found one the quieter rooms and got to work.

We managed to actually work quite quickly. Before we knew it we had a very good script of the work and a good sound track to go over the top. It was 9pm by this point and so thought it was a good time to export the video. This would also leave us with enough time to get ready and make it to the club by 10. We were proud at what we had done and thought it was time to celebrate.

The next morning I was woken by a very loud banging on my room door. I looked over at the clock to see it was 9am, not a great time for a student, especially one that was hitting the tequila shots very hard the night before! I rolled out of bed and opened by door to be faced with a very panic stricken Mike. 'They want to view the footage in an hour at the club!'. When they said the next day I wasn't expecting this. I got dressed as quick as I could and within about 20 minutes we were heading out the door. As the fresh air hit me I realised that I was still a little tipsy from the night before. This wasn't going to be a good impression left with the people who had hired us to do this work. But there was little we could do and when we arrived at the club we headed inside to try and get through it as quick as possible and get back home to bed.

Again, how wrong we were! We were in the club over an hour going over and over the video that we had created as the management slowly scrutinised the video frame by frame. We felt hurt! In our hearts we had produced this video in just one night, our baby, our best work yet, and it was been torn apart by people who in our opinions knew nothing about media! Looking back now i'd say we also knew nothing about media. The video really was a cut and paste job. But even now, years later when I have perfected my art I still have to go through the same process. Something they don't teach you in university is that the customer is always right.... even when they are wrong! Never try to argue with a customer it ends badly.

Of course we weren't going to argue this time either. 2 timid young students completely out of their depth! After we left the club we felt more destroyed than we did when we had first woken up, and the worst thing was that it had only just begun. no chance were we going back to our beds, we had to get into university and try re-edit the video before we were due back to the club at 3pm for another screening. It was at this point I turned to Mike and told him 'I think we made a mistake here...' and I wasn't just talking about the project. Getting a taste of what my working life might be like I thought I'd chosen the wrong career path! It was a very low morning.

But we powered through! We managed to officially book out a room at the Uni this time, we put our heads down, and again we managed to finish the project in time for the showing. But again, we  were sent away with more editing requests, and again we crawled back to the university.

This actually lasted the full week, right up until the deadline day. It had been exhausting! One week at university completely gone and fully controlled by one project. We decided at that point we'd put our out of Uni work on hold, just for a little while.

So why is this story important? See, the point is is that you need to expect this when you eventually leave university and get a job. Whether its working for yourself or working for a company. No matter how much heart you put into a project you need to always accept that there will in 99% of cases need to be changes. Never get attached to projects. It's a bitter pill to swallow in our industry as we put our own creative flare into everything.

The second thing you need to accept is that no matter how efficient or talented you are at your work you will always be working right up to the deadline. It is an unavoidable fact. I have yet to work on a project where I have not worked right up until the day that the project is expected. My advice is even though it seems crazy to you now, always set yourself short term deadlines. Because after working on a project day in day out for a long time you start to loose sanity and get sick of the site of your own work.

Last of all and probably the most important is planning. Plan everything! Even if its something as simple as a photo shoot. In most cases you will only have an allocated amount of time in one location. It's important to make sure you make the most of this time as it can be near impossible to recreate that situation, especially with ever changing weather conditions. It's also good practise to ensure you never miss anything or forget anything. Paper work can sometimes be vital in this industry and so you need to make sure everything is in order at least the day before your project.

I hope this advice is good for any new media student starting out, and possibly gave a few more experienced people a laugh and a chance to reminisce. This is what my blog posts are going to be about. Help and advice on projects, work, planning, and everything in-between. Sometimes my posts might be short and funny, or they could be long and detailed but I hope that people will find them useful and fun to read.

Keep being creative!



Here's a copy of the finished video I managed to find on YouTube. Looking back its actually not a bad finished product considering we were fresh faced University students, but I'll let you be the judge!