Week 1 - Street Interviews: Reflecting on the "Pockets" Exercise

This week, our task was to create a short documentary inspired by the 2008 Channel 4 / Pilgrim Films production of “Pockets”. Being the camera operator was different and a bit difficult as I worked my way around the new C100 camera. Even finding the record button was a bit of a challenge and I do think I should’ve spent some more time familiarising myself with the controls! I chose not to approach potential interviewees and I felt awkward during the start of this project, something that I will need to improve over time. I did, however, make sure the interviewees were comfortable being in front of the camera, reassuring them that we wouldn’t take up too much of their time and walking them through the process of what we were going to film.

With the harsh windy weather, we decided to seek shelter and recorded all our interviews inside the Students’ Union – arranged by Leon and Elliot. Leon assisted me with choosing the filming locations and framing. Instead of locking the tripod down for the interviews, I decided it would be safer for the footage to allow me to move the camera fluidly throughout in case the interviewee moved out of frame. I was concerned that the camera was moving a bit too much, so we could have zoomed out a bit and locked the camera down fully. To make sure we had a sharp focus on our subject, I used the camera’s auto-focus mode, before switching to manual focus in case I needed to make minor adjustments whilst filming. As we filmed with a lower aperture, I was able to create a shallow depth of field, allowing me to pull one or two “rack focus” shots of the objects.

Usually, I carry around a white balance card, however I forgot it for this shoot. I did manage to increase the ISO slightly when we were shooting in a darker section of the SU, but I didn’t familiarise myself with the camera enough to make all the changes we needed, resulting in mostly underexposed footage. On top of this, I didn’t want to waste time, especially with the interviewees present. After filming the interviews, I also took some establishing shots of the SU building so that we could use them as an introduction to the short documentary.

Taking responsibility for editing this project was Leon, Daniel, and myself. We took advantage of the department’s editing suites to collaboratively edit in-person, helping each other out as we all needed a refresher with Avid. It took Leon and Daniel around an hour and a half to assemble a rough edit in the way that we wanted, whilst I provided some suggestions, such as rearranging some of the interviews. One shot we really liked was a quick zoom out from one of our interviews, revealing the boom pole and our crew members. Even though it was an accidental motif that we liked, unfortunately, we had to remove it as we couldn’t find an ideal place for it. I then took over to experiment with the colour correction inside Media Composer which I was not used to. Sure, I could have exported to a dedicated program such as DaVinci Resolve, however I felt built-in tools were adequate for the corrections we needed (primarily fixing some exposure issues). I followed some tutorials I found on YouTube and managed to apply some colour correction to the footage, however the correction was too strong in places. I do think this stems from my lack of exposure and white balance control during filming, which I will need to pay more attention to next time. As for audio, however, I think I managed to create a clean mix of the audio captured from the boom microphone. I did try to mix between in-camera and external audio sources; however, this proved a bit too messy, and we resorted to just the boom microphone.

Overall, I think filming and editing “Pockets” has been a very beneficial exercise in improving my cinematography and editing skills, however it has also highlighted the key areas that I need to improve on further – in particular, camera control and colour correction. To improve on these issues, I will review the technical videos created by the department, and I will investigate the documentation and further tutorials for colour correction inside both Avid Media Composer and related tools, such as Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve.


Dwy Chwaer a Brawd (2018) Directed by Meleri Morgan [Online]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DWT82_ZNX4 (Accessed: 07 October 2021).

sleep furiously (2007) Directed by Gideon Koppel [Online]. Available at: https://aberystwyth.cloud.panopto.eu/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=427230f7-ee35-41a1-8587-adb100d9e32e&instance=blackboard (Accessed: 09 October 2021).



Barbash, I. and Taylor, L. (1997) Cross-Cultural Filmmaking. Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Ebert, R. (2011) ‘If you don’t have a dog, you’ll need one.’ Roger Ebert, 10 August [Online]. Available at: https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/sleep-furiously-2011 (Accessed: 09 October 2021).

Hayes, J. (2017) The Versatile Use Of Central Framing [Online]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyOdsfj7gYM (Accessed: 10 October 2021).

Knowles, K. (2021) ‘Micro-lecture 1: Introduction to some key documentary modes / Observational documentary’. FM26520 Creative Documentary [Online]. Available at: https://blackboard.aber.ac.uk/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_30715_1&content_id=_1876193_1 (Accessed: 07 October 2021).

Nichols, B. (2001) Introduction to documentary. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press.

© 2021 - 2022 Matthew Tyler-Howells | MMN MATTHEW'S Media Networks LTD.