Week 3 - Creative Angles: Filming the "Activity"

This week, we completed the second half of the “Interview” exercise in the form of the “Activity”. For this, we sought permissions to film at the piano in the foyer of the Parry-Williams Building, which involved contacting the BBC office as they were live-on-air at the time we were planning to film. After reassuring them that we wouldn’t make much noise, we started to set up at the piano. The piano itself was a bit of a problem for me as it was heavily out-of-tune, and the lid was not attached to the rim, meaning our plans of filming inside the piano were not an easy option. We did achieve this with a GoPro, however we ultimately decided not to use the footage in the end.

              Following on from looking at how to use the provided jibs, we tried to use one to achieve a high angle shot of the piano. In the end, we couldn’t achieve this as the angle we needed was too extreme for the jib head, which couldn’t tilt down as much as we needed it to. However, we were able to improvise, and we used my GoPro’s “GorillaPod” to secure it to the head of the jib, taking the C100 off. Positioning the C100 off to the side of the piano and out of frame, we recorded a full, clean take on both cameras which I then synchronised on that section’s own timeline in Avid Media Composer. I really liked the slider shots that the team produced, especially how they used a mix of eye-level and low-level shots.

              As for audio, we had even more complications. As we were in the lobby of a busy building, contaminated audio was inevitable – with doors slamming, people walking on the tiled floor, and people talking. One of our biggest problems was that another class was filming directly above us in the lobby, which became awkward as we didn’t want to interrupt them, and we didn’t want them interrupting us! Therefore, I knew the microphone had to be near the piano. Whilst in “Cigar Shop” the interview audio is overlayed with backing music, our production was focusing on a clean take of audio from the piano as the backing music. So, I placed the microphone right next to the hammers inside the piano and used the manual controls on the audio interface of the camera to reduce the peaking. I think I set the gain to 1 (out of 10), which eliminated most of the contamination providing I played loud enough.

              Filming the clean takes didn’t take too long, and it allowed the team to experiment with other angles and shots without needing to record audio. Providing the head could have angled straight down, I was really hoping we could have used the jib from the first-floor balcony; however, I am sure that this would have been a health and safety issue – especially as it was our first time using the jib.

              Having chosen to edit the previous weekly films in Avid, editing this week’s task was a lot smoother. I used the waveform data to synchronise the footage recorded simultaneously, and it also allowed me to mask errors by overlaying other takes, picking up from where I made the mistake. Clip gain and volume were used alongside animation keyframes to manage the imbalance of the audio levels, and “ducking” the sound when it switched from the activity to the interview. We decided to cut some small sections from the radio edit interview as we didn’t feel that they were necessary and using L and J cuts between the activity footage and the interview footage allowed us to mask issues with the interview audio, making it flow a lot better compared to the radio edit. That said, one issue that has plagued us over the past few weeks is Avid’s colour management. Footage is imported very flat into Avid, with dulled colours. Then, when we export, Avid seems to apply its own colour correction which is often over-the-top. Daniel and I spent half an hour applying colour correction in Avid, only to find out that Avid had ruined it in the export! This is something that I will need to investigate for our next task as this is a problem if we want to continue using Avid Media Composer.


An Inconvenient Truth (2006) Directed by Davis Guggenheim [Online]. Available at: https://learningonscreen.ac.uk/ondemand/index.php/prog/00ECCFC5?bcast=32071859 (Accessed: 24 October 2021).

Night Train (1936) Directed by Harry Watt and Basil Wright [Online]. Available at: https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-night-mail-1936-online (Accessed: 22 October 2021).



Knowles, K. (2021) ‘Micro-lecture 3: Expository documentary’. FM26520 Creative Documentary [Online]. Available at: https://aberystwyth.cloud.panopto.eu/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=c0ae4fa0-30f6-4a55-8021-ac4100dde049&start=0 (Accessed: 22 October 2021).

OED Online. (2019) expository, adj, and n. [Online]. Available at: https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/66718 (Accessed: 25 October 2021).

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


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