Today we gave presentations of our final outcomes of the Persuasion projects in front of our clients and tutors.
Before giving our presentations, we had previously created and rehearsed our presentation which we intended to give today. However, earlier in the day today, before our presentations at 2pm, we had some difficulty putting our animations into the PowerPoint as several of the team’s videos were not completed until very last minute which meant we were not left with much time to import the animations into the presentation. Personally, although my animation was complete, the way in which I had rendered and then exported it meant that the file size was much too big to go on the presentation. After adjusting the quality of the animation, hoping to reduce the file size, I exported it again and although the file size was much more appropriate, the quality had been so much decreased that the on-screen text during the animation was pixelated and barely readable. In the end, due to being rushed for time and the presentation deadline fast approaching, I decided to instead simply show my original final film, which was too large to actually be inserted into the presentation, as a separate file directly from the desktop. Other members of the group ended up doing the same.
Even after these initial obstacles, during the presentations, everything went smoothly. Our group made sure to introduce ourselves to our audience before beginning and then spoke about our project title and the organisation that we were working for, and the mission statement and key aim of the communication that we set out to achieve. Next we went on to each taking it in turns to give a short introduction on our own animation and showing it.
The presentations concluded with inviting our clients to view more of our work, such as the storyboards and other development pieces, and to discuss our animations further. Although our client was unable to stay for long due to her own circumstances, we were able to briefly talk about each of our outcomes with her. She spoke about what she really liked in our pieces, claiming that she really likes ‘Steve’ in my own stop-motion animation, and we were also able gain any more constructive critique and where we could go from here. I am really pleased that they still wish to continue working with me in creating the other three videos for their 4-part video series on the topic.
If I were to do the presentations again, I feel that if we had made sure all of our group member’s animations were completed fully in advance – we could have used the extra time to actually insert them into the presentation, rather than have to navigate off of the presentation to get to, open and play our animations. This would have created a more overall professional looking presentation.
Personally, I also feel that I spent too long looking at and speaking to the screen projection, rather than looking out at my audience and speaking directly to them. To improve, I would engage more efficiently with my audience, and client in particular, by having eye contact and by being a little animated, such as using hand gestures to make myself more inviting and to involve the audience.
I felt that I became slightly nervy during the presentation, partly because of the minor panic of getting the animations onto the presentation beforehand, and although the clients and audience had not witnessed this, I think that I ended up rambling and stuttering more than I would have liked to – next time I will consider using cue cards to keep me on track so that I remember exactly what it is I want to say and when to say it.
For this project, it was great to have so much freedom – it was completely down to us what topic we chose. I wanted to pick something current and inherent within society. Almost immediately, I knew exactly who I wanted to base this project around – the President of the United States, Donald Trump.
I find the first original idea that pops into my head is often my strongest, as it’s usually the one I’m most passionate about. My next step was to narrow down what I wanted to focus on within my character of Trump – this part was a bit more tricky. I started out with ideas such as a timeline of Trump’s life or his famously outrageous quotes, however, both of these seemed too much of an obvious choice – I wanted to do something new. I determined that the best chance I had of doing this was to simply watch the man himself in action.
Through watching everything from interviews and conferences, to compilations of Trump’s ‘best moments’, I arrived at an idea. Inspired by social-media sites where you often find videos ‘taking the mickey’ of celebrities, such as remixes of particular sayings they have, I decided to compile a range of Trump’s many hand gestures, giving the project the comedic title, How to Speak Donald Trump. As the majority of Trump’s worldwide presence is negative, I didn’t want to acknowledge this negativity in my own work – he is considered a man to be intimidated by and afraid of, so for this exact reason, I believed it was necessary for me to spin this around by adding humour and a light-hearted feel.
After creating a short stop-motion film in our previous project, I felt confident enough to create another, this time individually. I decided against using stop-motion as I felt it wouldn’t work so well this time with my subject. Although I’d decided that I wanted to do a video, I struggled with actually starting it – I didn’t know where to begin. It made sense to me to start at the beginning, however, as I was struggling with this, I jumped into creating the middle of the film instead and then worked outwards by adding more and more as I needed it. This way of working seemed to suit me much better and I was on a roll in no time.
In the end, after several tutorials, I created a nature documentary-style film with a David Attenborough inspired voiceover, treating Trump as the ‘wild animal’ being observed. The whole nature documentary-style is such a contrast with Donald Trump, that this is what makes it work. I drew the whole film together with an extended metaphor, which was that Trump’s hands gestures were his ‘mating calls’ as he tried to gain a ‘relationship’ with America – essentially, he achieved this. Overall, I was extremely happy with my outcome although there are several improvements that I want to make before summative feedback.
I’m glad to have had the opportunity of such a wide brief, because it’s meant that I’ve been able to use and create something that I would not normally be able to. I’ve widened my skill-set and feel that if the opportunity arose again later in my own practice, I would be able to use my new movie-making skills again.
Today was the deadline day for our field project that I’ve been working on for the past three weeks.
This morning, we each gave presentations showing our research and development of our projects, and then showed our final outcome.
I opened my presentation with what my topic was: a lesson on ‘How to speak Trump‘ and that overall, it was a study of Donald Trump’s body language. I talked through my initial ideas, such as how they were all Trump-based so I definitely knew that this was the direction I was heading, and why I decided to choose and settle on the particular one that I did. I added that I wanted it to be light-hearted and humorous, especially as Trump is such a scary character within the media at the moment and we very rarely, if ever, have anything positive to say about him – for this reason, my piece was going to be more light-hearted with a humorous spin. Basically, I wanted to make fun of and tease him a bit.
I spoke about how, as part of my research, I watched hundreds of Donald Trump’s speeches in order to analyse his behavioural traits, the way in which he speaks and most importantly his hand gestures and movements, which I chose to focus on. I explained how I wanted to look at whether his hand gestures had changed over time and, if so, how they had changed. To do this, I chose his four most common gestures that I discovered, and then three speeches from different time periods during his journey to presidency, to focus on, and then tallied how many times he used each gesture in each of the speeches and added notes such as when the gestures were used and what the they seemed to mean. I then showed how I had put them into pie charts in order to visually see and compare the changes – I picked out the use of his ‘hands out’ movement as an example as this had the most drastic change over time.
Next I moved onto developing my concepts from my initial ideas and research. I spoke about my first tutorial in David in which I brought a small sample of a video clip I had put together with a short voiceover, in order to roughly demonstrate how I wanted and hoped the final piece would look like. I spoke about how there was something not quite right about the voiceover I had done – it was too monotone and needed more sarcasm in it, however, it was also referred to as sounding like ‘the female David Attenborough’ which was almost so wrong, that it actually worked. I spoke about how from here, I played on this and used it to my advantage, I created my film as if was a nature documentary, like David Attenborough’s Planet Earth, and that Trump was the ‘wild animal’ that we were following.
The final development that I spoke about before showing my outcome was the addition of the part of the film which actually ‘teaches‘ the viewer the lesson on how to speak Trump. When realising that this was missing, I was already at a point of the process where my film was practically complete. Because of this, I did not want to add any more scenes to the film as this could ruin the timing and fabrication of my film, for example how the motions in the video match up with the background music. I stated that my ‘fix’ for this was the use of green screen which could be overlaid instead. I also displayed the templates for the Donald Trump face masks that I made to be used for my green screen model.
Finally, I showed my final outcome of the film:
How to Speak Donald Trump, Amber Lloyd.
Now that the masks were created, today I was able to get started on the finishing details of my film, using the green screen.
On looking at my video, I realised that it was missing what the title seemed to suggest – the title, ‘How to speak Donald Trump‘ suggested that it will be a lesson in which the viewer is taught to speak ‘Trump‘ – but where was the lesson in my film? I don’t feel that there was one. Now I have added the green screen effect; it acts as the lesson.
Today, I filmed my model carrying out Trump’s four main gestures wearing the face masks that I made last week. Using Adobe Premiere Pro, I then overlaid my clips over my already existing film, cropped them down, and then used the ultrakey effect to create the green screen, adjusting the pedestal within it.
When putting it all together in Premiere Pro, it was frustratingly fiddly to remove all of the background from behind my model in the clips – this is because the green behind the model was not all perfectly the same shade of green – the unevenness and shadows made it difficult to be neat. Also, some of the film’s quality, primarily when the model is in motion, such as when he is waving his hands and arms around, is not to the greatest of standards – although the video camera that I used was HD quality, it does not seem to have been enough for imitating Donald Trump’s wild and crazy gestures.
I have inserted the green screen clips to show in bursts of approximately 10 seconds, reenacting and copying Trump’s movements in order to teach the audience how to speak Donald Trump. In regards to positioning, I have put them in the bottom left hand corner of the video, similarly to the deaf interpreters that are sometimes seen on screen doing sign language to help those with bad hearing or who are deaf.
After briefly speaking to David today, he reminded me that I still had almost a week to continue to develop and add to my project, so I have decided that rather than leaving the film as it is, I will include my mask idea. As David said, the strength and beauty is in the detail.
As I was worried that by adding more film clips in, it would mess with my timing of the videos and the background music so far, I decided that I could simply green screen over the clips I already had, without ruining the films fabrication. I decided to go ahead with my Donald Trump full-face mask concept, as I felt that this was simple but the most effective.
To make the masks, I used Photoshop to simply edit images of Trump so that it was just his face and then inserted them into InDesign on A3 size paper, then exported to PDF. I measured what size my own face was, so that I could use it as a rough guide to get the masks to the correct size. I printed a grayscale prototype to see if they worked and then from the prototype, I was able to adjust the mask sizes on screen accordingly. I printed the final masks onto thick card so that they would be more sturdy and reliable and then cut them out using a scalpel. The next stop was to create some sticks to hold the masks up to your face with – they needed to be sturdy enough to hold the weight of my Trump masks without flopping over. For the sake of ‘waste not, want not’, I re-used the left over card that I had cut the masks from – I cut several strips which I then stacked together and fasted thoroughly with white masking tape. It did the job perfectly. Rather than tape the sticks to the masks, I have decided to leave them separate for the time being, as I could use a reusable adhesive, such as Blu-tack, to attach them on instead as this would leave them adjustable.
The most tricky part of the mask-making process was the printing of them. Due to the fact that I was printing onto card, rather than normal paper, all of the printer’s settings had to be changed. Because I was feeding in my own printing surface, I had to get inside ‘the printer’s brain’ and tell it not to take the A3 paper out of the tray it normally would, but to instead take it from the manual feed tray which flipped out from the side of the machine. As well as changing the paper tray, I had to also program in to the machine that the paper was in fact card, so I had to tell it the weight of it. It was much more complicated than I had initially expected, but after several trial and error attempts, I managed it with some help from the IT staff. It was useful going through these difficulties actually, because I did not previously know that the printers on the university campus were so extremely versatile – among the paper settings, you could even print onto such things as, tracing paper and recycled paper.
After deciding to use the green screen, I paid a visit to Neil Pedder, who specialises in video editing – he gave me a lesson on the basics of Adobe Premiere Pro, which is the software that I would need to use to edit together green screen film.
Continuing with the making of my ‘How to speak Trump’ film, I have finished all of the analysing of Trump’s body language, including the voiceovers, added text and background music – it all seems to fitting together really well so far – I have aligned Trump’s movements in the film to match with my voice over. So for example, when talking about Trump’s pointing gesture. At the same time as I say “the point”, Trump carries at the gesture, as I say it – the little details like this, although it’s taking more time to get them right, is what I hope will make the difference and add to the quality of the finished film.
Since my last tutorial with David where it was suggested that I use more irony and sarcasm, I have completely changed the voice over. After studying the way in which David Attenborough speaks, I have tried to use this as inspiration when speaking in the video. In the video, I refer to Donald Trump as, ‘The wild Trump’ as if he is an animal rather than a human being. Also, I treat his body language and gestures as if they are ‘mating calls’, just like a wild animal in a nature documentary. The metaphor that I try and use throughout the film is that, Donald Trump (an animal) is trying to attract and mate with a potential parter, which in his case, is the citizens of America. By the end of the film, he has achieved this – he has become president.
Currently, all of my film is more or less complete to a standard that I am happy with. However, David suggested that I include some of my own self-filmed parts, I am just unsure of where I would fit them in at the stage the film is at now – I would not want to add them and then it be ruined. To get around this problem, I have decided to save the film in it’s current state and then continue to add the extra bits, so that I can then decided whether it has improved and bettered the film or whether it was best how it was previously.
I have had several ideas that I could use for my own firsthand videos, including:
These would be printed onto card and then either put onto sticks to be held in front of a face, or an elastic string could be attached instead.
Facial features mask
These would be photographs of Donald Trump, but zoomed in close to specific facial features – primarily his mouth or eyes due to him being known to contort these features most commonly. Rather than being printed them onto physical paper like the full-face masks, I could keep them digital, on a small screen such as a phone instead. The screen should then be able to be held up in front of somebody’s face and it will look as if Trump’s feature has replaced their own. I made sure to trial and error it before hand from home, but hope to test it out properly in the photograph suite in University, perhaps with the green screen.
Another idea was that I could somehow make a form of paper or cardboard hands, which I could then wear like gloves. They would be in the form of Trump’s gestures. However, these may not be needed if I use the face mask ideas.