Part of Unit 12 is to make an Archive-footage-based Documentary on an area of film history. Attila (tutor) explained that it had to be about something that was non-Hollywood and It needed to be after the silent film era. The brief suggested subjects such as French New Wave, Italian Neorealism, Asian movies, Eastern European movies, to name a few. Attila discussed several Auteurs with us. Auteur was not a term that I had been familiar with before this project.
Choosing to work as our 90%Bloopers group on Hayao Miyazaki
When the Unit was explained to us, our usual group of 90%Bloopers (Me, Adam, Ellie, Harley and Jack) plus Charlie G decided that we would like to work on the Archive Documentary together. We considered subjects such as particular influential directors, but we weren’t really agreeing on anything. Then I remembered that quite a few of us like Japanese Anime films by Studio Ghibli, indeed Charlie even has as his Zoom backdrop an image from Princess Mononoke, a film by Studio Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki.. The Japanese film industry is quite different to the Western film Industry. This is due to the cultures being very different. Although I love the Studio Ghibli films, I didn’t really know that much about Studio Ghibli who make them, and in particular Hayao Miyazaki who founded Studio Ghibli. I suggested to our group that we research Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki, and make our Archive Documentary about him, since he is described as an Auteur.
We all really liked this idea and we felt that it fitted the brief perfectly. It would also be fascinating to learn about an area of film that, as well as not originating in Hollywood, also isn’t even from the Western part of the world.
As we often do, we started putting together a PowerPoint slide show to gather all our ideas together to make it straightforward to present our ideas to Attila at the end of the lesson. This allowed us to do some basic research and to establish that Hayao Miyazaki (Studio Ghibli) would work as a subject for our Archive-footage-based Documentary. (see the end of this page for the PowerPoint)
We discussed which roles we should each have, and the following is what we decided.
Research – everyone (Me (Gareth), Adam, Ellie, Harley, Jack and Charlie)
Archive footage sourcing – everyone (Me (Gareth), Adam, Ellie, Harley, Jack and Charlie)
Script – Harley
Recording Voice-over – Adam
Editor – Me (Gareth)
Editing Archive Documentary
Although we were all supposed to be providing archive footage, it turned out to be a bit difficult to do it like that. Although we were all finding interesting footage as part of our research, until we had the script, we each didn’t really know what was going to be relevant for the documentary. This wasn’t a problem in one sense, because I had done a huge amount of research into Archive footage, YouTube videos and articles about Hayao Miyazaki for my Research Paper, so I pretty much knew where to look to find the sort of thing I would need to go with the voice over. However, it did take me quite some time though since I had to look through quite a lot of footage to find the appropriate particular pieces of video to match the words in the voice-over. Charlie had found some videos which he sent me, as did Ellie, and that was helpful.
Once Harley had finished the script, Adam recorded the voice-over. Very sensibly, he recorded it in small chunks, and labelled them in order according to the script. There were 23 different sections, with some sections having more than one sound file associated with it, depending how many times Adam had to say the lines. This resulted in 29 different sound clips. Some sentences were rather difficult to say since they contained Japanese names and words, and Adam has explained that he is fairly new to Studio Ghibli so was less familiar with some of the words than others in our group. He was recording himself during a lesson with Simon when we were working on Unit 12 amongst other things, so he sensibly asked me and Charlie how to pronounce the hardest words, because we am more familiar with Studio Ghibli.
The one thing that I realised after I received all the sound recordings from him, is that I had forgotten to tell Adam one piece of information that had been new to me when I was researching for my Research Paper. And that is that I have been pronouncing “Ghibli” wrong all these years. I have used a hard “G” like in Gate, when it is actually a soft “G” like in Gentle. I had never known that before my research, and many people that I have met use the hard “G” when saying “Ghibli”. Even many videos on YouTube (about Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki) use a hard “G”. It’s a bit confusing because Ghibli is named after 2 things, a hot Saharan wind, because Hayao Miyazaki wanted to “blow new wind” through the Japanese Anime industry, and also an Italian plane, because Hayao Miyazaki loves planes and flying (they feature heavily in his films, especially The Wind Rises(2013)). Both of this wind and plane are pronounced with a hard “G”. But whenever you hear Hayao Miyazaki pronounce it, he uses a soft “G”.
And also, actually, when you hear Hayao Miyazaki and his colleagues pronounce it, they pronounce it as “Gib-Er-Ree”, that is they use an “R” not an “L”. This is common in Japanese. I studied Japanese for 3 years as part of my home education in a class of about 8, taught by 2 Japanese ladies, and it is true that many words that have “L” or “R” in are hard for Japanese people to tell if it is an “L” or an “R” and to pronounce it because they have a sound that is part way between an “L” and an “R” rather than actual “L” or “R”. I had forgotten that too, until I was researching for this Unit. I’ve forgotten most of the Japanese I learnt – although being dyslexic is great for being able to visualise what you want to film, it makes learning languages very difficult.
But I forgot to mention any of this to Adam, so, in common with many people, he uses the hard “G”.
Once I received the sound clips, I typed out the script on word and labelled each sentence (or couple of sentences) with the clip (or clips) that related to that part. This was to help me when I came to add in video clips. As I said above, there were about 23 different parts. I am pleased with my editing of the sound, since I was able to combine parts from different versions of the same sentence to get a smooth flow for each part. I also trimmed out many pauses, to keep the pace and energy up. This helps keep the audience interested when they watch the finished documentary. I ended up with 76 sound cuts. (to see script go to end of page)
Then I started downloading archived video clips. This did take a lot of time since even if you only want 5 seconds of a 30-minute video, you have to download the whole 30 minutes. Given that there are 23 audio parts, and some of these contain more than one sentence so often require more than one video clip, this was a lot of downloading. Where I could, I used more than one part of a video to save time, but this wasn’t many. The finished clip is about 4 minutes long, which fits the brief of 3-5 mins.
It really shows just how much time and effort has to go into documentaries. It would be easy to think that if you are not filming new footage then it will be quick. But you still have to watch a lot of footage to find even small clips are useable.
I added a background soundtrack. In Year 1 I did a podcast using video and stills, with a voice-over. I learnt then that adding a gentle background soundtrack makes this type of film feel much more professional. The background music I added is from the soundtracks of various Studio Ghibli Hayao Miyazaki films, which I felt fitted the tone of the Documentary and also are obviously relevant.
I added in various text on screen, such as Years, numbers relating to how many films Hayao Miyazaki has made. I also added a humorous touch for the words “But then it just decided not to” regarding the Studio announcing it was shutting down then deciding not to. I made the words appear on screen as Adam said them. People tend to laugh at this part, due both to the amusing nature of them just changing their mind, Adam’s off-hand way of saying it, and the way the words appear in the screen to emphasis this.
When I showed Nargess (tutor) the nearly finished documentary she made a good suggestion. I had some parts where the image on screen was narrower than the screen width. I had black behind them but Nargess suggested using the image on screen, enlarged with a Gaussian blur, as a backdrop, instead of the black. This looks nicer than the black, whilst keeping a link on the screen.
I also added some stills, some on screen by themselves and some, as appropriate, on screen at the same time as video.
All in all, I am very pleased with how our Documentary turned out.