Archive Documentary Evaluation
I am going to evaluate mainly the process of creating the documentary in this section, and I will discuss what I learnt from the content in my Research Paper Evaluation.
I was pleased that our group had settled on making a documentary about Studio Ghibli / Hayao Miyazaki since I felt that that would also be a good topic for my Research Paper. I discuss this choice in my Research Paper Evaluation section.
Regarding the process, I learnt a number of useful things. We had all agreed to find suitable footage for the Documentary. It seemed to make sense that we could find footage at the same time that we were doing the research. However, it’s a bit of a “chicken and egg” situation. You need to research to find what exactly the documentary is going to say, since there are many different areas that could form the focus of the documentary. And the script writer can’t write the script without this information. However, that means that the research phase is not the best time to source specific Archive footage since at that point you have no script, and so don’t know which footage will be appropriate.
In retrospect, I think that a more efficient way to do it would be (after the research stage) to flesh out the main ideas for the script for the documentary as a group, using our usual PowerPoint to record the general ideas/subjects of each parts. With the PowerPoint open, we could each be looking at different Archive footage that could be appropriate for each idea, and copy those links into the PowerPoint, along with a time stamp of where the relevant part is in the clip. If there were any areas where it was difficult to find footage for, then that could be highlighted at this stage rather than after the voice-over has been recorded when I was looking for clips. Then Harley, as Script Writer, could have taken the PowerPoint with the outline of our Documentary and crafted the actual lines to be spoken. This document could also be used by the editor (me) rather than having to start from scratch looking for clips. To be honest, I think that if we had been in normal face-to-face lessons than we would have done this. It is so much more challenging using Zoom for this kind of meeting. I think that Harley wrote a very good script, and Nargess (tutor) said in feedback that it was a very good script. We overcame the problem of finding footage in the end, so I think that me finding the footage didn’t affect our final project, which we have had good feedback on, and which I am pleased with. But, learning from this exercise, in the future we could be more efficient.
I think that we would have changed some of the ideas if we had all been looking at the same time, round the same table in person, working at the same time. Unfortunately, due to Covid this was not possible. For example, some areas it was tricky to think of what kind of footage to use to illustrate the point. An example of this is the line ” Most Anime studios nowadays don’t have a mascot but are recognised based on the IPs they adapt which has led to Studio Ghibli standing out massively in the current sea of releases by other studios”. The part about other Studios being recognised based the IPs they adapt is referring to the fact that most Japanese Anime studios usually adapt existing Manga Artwork (i.e. the Intellectual Property) rather than creating new stories. Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli do use some adaptation, for example I found out that Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989) is based on a 1985 novel by Eiko Kadono. But that’s not the same as pretty much lifting whole stories from existing Manga drawings. I wasn’t sure how to illustrate this fact. In the end I decided to show on screen a popular Japanese Anime that I have been watching, and the Magna that it originated from. This Anime is “Attack on Titan”. It took me a while to find the particular Manga to match a particular piece of footage. I am pleased that I found it, since it illustrates nicely the words being spoken.
However, I had to come up with a solution to this problem, since the only other option by that stage would be to not put the line in, and then the flow would have been interrupted. On one hand, you could say that had we had a joint online meeting as I suggest above, then we would maybe have removed this idea before it even became a line, and this would have saved time. However, I do feel that choice would have actually been a shame, since I am pleased with this footage. But when making any film in the industry you have to be realistic about how long you can take on it, and this is a line could quite easily have been dropped, and the main ideas still worked well. So, it could be thought of either way. As I say, it worked out fine in the end, it was just the extra time that it took. But I really like it in the video.
Another issue with looking for footage is that there is actually a lot of videos out there about Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki. I was fortunate in that I had watched many of them as part of my Research Project research, so I was aware that “somewhere” there was a good piece of footage for certain lines. But there were maybe too many good pieces of footage, and I couldn’t remember exactly which video they were in, and where, during (for example) a 30 minute video, they were.
I didn’t have this issue with my video podcast in Year 1, since in that case my research, clip gathering and script writing all happened at the same time, since it was just me creating it. One thing this highlights for me is that although there are generally accepted orders for doing certain planning in, actually it is not set in stone and needs to be adjusted according to the type of project that you are working on, to be the most efficient you can for that particular project.
At the time, we thought our plan was a good one. It’s easy to be wise in hindsight, But then that is part of what these evaluations are about, using hindsight to help analyse what went well and what could be improved. And, generally, our plan worked well and we have a good and entertaining Archive-footage-based Documentary, in the Video Essay style, at the end of it.
When I asked her for feedback, Nargess (tutor) also gave us a useful suggestion for improvement which I incorporated, and I am pleased with the improvement this made. I had some clips that were less wide than most of the other clips. I had put black behind them. Nargess suggested duplicating the photo/video playing, increasing the size so that it filled the whole screen and blurring it the using this as the background. This meant that he background was linked to the clip playing whilst not distracting from it. She suggested a gaussian blur, which I agreed with. When I tried it, I believe it significantly improved those areas of the video and was a good piece of feedback.
I am pleased with my editing of the voice-over. Adam did well when recording it by pausing when he made a mistake and then repeating the part he got wrong. This was a sensible and effective method of recording. This enabled me to edit out the mistakes, to choose the best correct parts, and to cut down any pauses left to keep the pace and energy up to make it entertaining. Our feedback from Nargess (tutor) was that the pacing of the narration was good. I feel this was due to a combination of a good script by Harley, of Adam taking the time to record each section several times individually and my sound editing to get the best combination of words. I also removed even slight pauses that I felt affected the pacing. I had a total of 29 sound recordings to deal with, and I ended up with 76 different cuts of Adam’s voice. Again, editing this took time. But I can’t see a better way to do this. We could have asked Adam to just read it through once all in on go. But this would not have resulted in the smooth narration that we had, and the good pacing that Nargess praised. I feel that it is part of what makes our video sound professional. Good, smooth pacing is important so that the audience is not distracted by gaps, “erms” and stumbling over words. It would have taken Adam a huge amount of time to keep recording the whole lot in one go with absolutely no errors, and there would have still been pauses in that I would have wanted to improve. So in this case, although It was more time and work for me to edit 29 clips into 76 final cuts, I think we made the correct decision overall timewise and professional finish-wise.
I am pleased with all my video clips. One I am particularly pleased with is the one about Ghibli meaning “hot sahara wind”. It was really hard to think what to put to illustrate this. I decided upon a clip that I like, from the Hayao Miyazaki film The Wind Rises(2013) where it looks like a wind is blowing over the countryside. It is actually illustrating an earthquake, but because our narration is talking about wind, that is what the audience sees. I do think that it is a very important line, and maybe it would have been cut if we had been looking for clips as a group? However, I like the footage I found. It shows there isn’t always a single right answer.
Other tutor feedback is from Nick and Simon. Nick really liked it all. He said that if he were being nitpicking then the one comment he might make is that the final scene could have been someone walking off into the distance. I do agree, this would be a good way to end this documentary. However, he also said the ending was fine the way it was. Simon said that he really enjoyed our video and that he thought it would do really well on YouTube, which is great because that was exactly what we were aiming for.
I feel this project went really well, we have a polished video at the end, and I have learnt useful information for the future, especially regarding the planning side of things.