Here is the final edit of my opening sequence…
After I had created my first edit, I needed a way to get feedback from my target audience to see what they thought of it and what improvements that I should make before finishing my final edit.
The way that I decided I would get feedback from my target audience is to get a focus group together, to show them my opening sequence and to see what they thought that I should do to improve it. A focus group is a collection of 4-5 people from your selected audience and they get together to discuss a product or answer questions that you have for them. The reason that this would be good for me is because these are my target audience and therefore I need to appeal to them the most. So I would show them my first product and see what they think that I should do to improve it. This would give me quick and reliable feedback to my product.
So I collected 4 people from my target audience and showed them my first edit. First thing I asked them was just what they thought of it as a whole, and the response was mixed. Some of them thought that it was okay, some thought it was better and some didn’t have as high an opinion of the product. One thing that they agreed on was that the narrative could work- if certain improvements were made then the narrative would enable there to be an enigma filled opening sequence which hooked the audience for the rest of the film. So that is good, the principle of the situation worked, but I needed to know what these improvements that I needed to make were so that I could fill the potential of the final product.
I asked them what improvements needed to be made, what changes should I make to make sure that this opening sequence makes the audience want to watch the rest of the film. The first thing that came up was that some shots were too long; action films need to have a fast tempo and they need to be quick to keep the excitement up and to keep the audience interested. However there were some shots in my opening sequence that were not short and that slowed down the opening sequence which would ruin the effectiveness of the scene. They said that “throughout the conversation part of the scene, a high percentage of the shots were too large- some were bigger than others but most of them needed to be shortened by a second or two” and they said that the reason for this was because otherwise it doesn’t convey to the audience that it is an action film.
Another thing that they said was that there needed to be more sound effects. Whilst I was filming I had tried to make it so that the sound effects were loud enough to be picked up by the camera but clearly that didn’t happen as a lot of the things that I had hoped would come through didn’t. They said that “there needs to be sound effects as they help us to know exactly what the characters are doing and how they’re reacting to things going on in the scene.” One of these sound effects that I missed was the footsteps by the antagonist as he walked towards the protagonist. There were no footsteps to be heard and therefore made the whole scene feel much more unprofessional. I had also tried to get the protagonist to breathe heavily so that it would be heard but that didn’t come through either and that means that all you can see is the character sat there. However they did agree that the heart beat was well timed and it was cut at the right time. They also appreciated the gun shot sound effect as they thought that that was very effective.
But the main thing that they thought needed improving was the general lack of sound. Throughout the opening sequence they said that it was too quiet and there was nothing to indicate that this was an intense action film and it just felt bare. One of them said that “it ruins the effect of the scene, as you don’t really know what to think of the situation, the music in opening sequence’s is too important to leave out.” This goes against what my target audience said in their questionnaires however that was only a hypothesis and an experiment, I knew that there was a chance that it wouldn’t work and sadly it didn’t. So I would need to find a sound track that was appropriate for the tone of the scene.
So all I needed to do now was to make these improvements and then my final edit would be complete, and I would have an effective opening sequence that would fit the criteria give to it.
This was supposed to be the last editing session that I would need before I was able to complete a successful first edit of my opening sequence. The only job that was left to complete was to organise the sound that would accompany my scene. As I didn’t have any mood-setting music, this should’ve be an easy job however things turned out more complex than expected.
The first job thing that I completed was to make the background sounds go throughout the opening sequence so that the sounds that had been picked up in the back of my shots did not change, as this would allude to the fact that the shots were filmed separately and this would destroy the fluidity of the scene and would make it seem very disjointed and unprofessional. To get away from this problem, I recorded just the background music and no other sounds in the hangar where we filmed the shots and then I would play this underneath the rest of the shots to make the background sound level and flat. In some shots where the actors weren’t in the shot and I just recorded the location, they would talk as I filmed as I would then delete the sounds that go along with these shots and play this background music on top of the shots as it would then make the shots seem like they were all filmed in one go and would make it seem more real. There were some shots that had sound including dialogue on already and these shots would have to have the background sounds placed underneath the already recorded dialogue.
This job took slightly longer to complete than I had anticipated as I had expected that I would just need to place the sound onto the scene and the job would be done. However it turned out that there was sounds that I had picked up in the scene that I did not need and so I had to go through and shorten sound clips in order to get rid of the dodgy sounds that I had picked up. If I did not have this background track then this lack of sound would be really obvious and would make the scene sound quite bare and inconsistent. So I deleted these little bits of sound and then watched it over again to see if the sound was now level, and thankfully, it was all level and flat, just like it was supposed to be.
These two jobs took the whole session and I ran out of time to complete the sound so I would have to take two sessions to complete the sound. So I would have to complete the rest of the jobs to do with the sound in the next session of editing.
The production cards are important because they’re the credit to the production and the distribution company that have made the film.
Here are my production cards:
The production cards are a good way of conveying to the audience what type of company the production company are and what type of film they produce. They would have to almost foreshadow the type of film it is, so for action films, the production cards would have to be quite simple but they have to have an underlying moral or meaning to them that conveys that there is something going on beyond the actual denotation.
This is what I have aimed for with my production company’s production card, I have tried to give it a lot of connotation without having much denotation to it. This is the perfect structure for the action film production card.
The production card for my production company, Flight Time Productions, looks like this…
The actual denotation of this is not very much. It is just simple red writing on a plain black background, however each of the letters is in a grey box. It is slightly reminiscent of the old boards are train stations and airports that used to be used to show the people train/plane times etc. As you can see, it is just a very simple and basic title that does not have any fancy effects or any big transitions. Although, there is much more convention to it than just that.
The connotation of those airport information systems is airports, planes and international locations. These are conventions that are in a large percentage of action films and so perhaps on a conscious level the audience will make that link and they will think of all of the other films that this convention has been in. So that adds a lot of depth to the very simple production card and it gives a lot of effect also.
The colour red for the letters also conveys blood. Which is used a lot in action films as there is a lot of action and there is a lot of violence between characters. So the audience thinks of this before the film has even started.
The Average Joe Production Card however is not as sophisticated as this. In fact is it just writing that comes on and fades off- there is no intentional connotations to this because the distribution company won’t work like that- they do not need to tell the audience what type of company they are because all their job is to do is get the media product out into the cinemas.
There are many things to consider when planning the titles that will be placed at the beginning of the opening sequence, e.g. font, roles, order, etc. Each of these things must be thought about with much detail and consideration because it is one of the most important features of the opening sequence.
Everything about the titles contributes to the overall effect on the opening sequence and the rest of the film for that matter. They are very influential is setting the genre, and the way that they do this is making the font of the titles, the size and positioning of them and the way that they come up on the screen. All of these things are just a small part of what contributes to the overall titles and this means that they all need to be thought about in deep detail, instead of just being thrown on at the end.
The titles are one of the easiest ways to set the genre right from the beginning of the film. This means that they have to be conventional to the genre that you are making your opening sequence on. To make my opening sequence as conventional as possible, I have watched as many opening sequences from action films as I could in order to see the typical conventions of actions films from both the mainstream sector and the individual line of action films.
Mainstream action films tend to have bigger and more animated title sequences that will have had lots of money spent on them for CGI and visual effects to make them look a lot bigger and more exciting. Films like Avenger’s Assemble and Skyfall have had lots of money spent on them to create title sequences that try and convey the entire narrative of the film in the short two minute sequence. They have titles that indicate to the audience that the film has had a lot of money spent on it, and the production company have gone all on the film and have spent lots of money to make it as effective as possible.
Obviously I have no way of getting thousands of thousands of pounds in order to create an opening sequence that involves lots of CGI and special effects; I don’t have the money, the programming capabilities or the time to be able to do this so this option is not going to be one that I can complete.
Independent action films have a different type of opening sequence; they tend to have an opening sequence that is more subtle and discrete- they are more simple. They don’t tend to have many effects on them, in fact, the majority of them are as simple as a title on a black screen.
Admittedly, part of this reason is because independent films have a lot lower production budget and therefore would rather save the money and put it into the actual film rather than have a big and expensive opening sequence. This means that the majority of independent action films can only really have small titles with limited effects.
However another reason that they would go for small titles, even if they had an extended budget, is because of the type of film that they are making.
Going back to my earlier example of Iron Man Three, they have poured money into every second of that film, especially the titles and the reason is because they know that they’re going to get that money back, and a lot of profit on top. They try and make their film attract as many people as possible from across the whole of society so that they can pull in the biggest profit possible. So to do this they give the mass audience exactly what they want- they give them violence, they give them simple storylines and they spend the whole film grabbing the audience’s attention and not letting go. This is why the titles are so big.
However it is different when it comes to independent action films. Typically independent films go for critical success rather than commercial success; this means that they won’t do something because it will bring in more money for the production company. Rather they go for better reviews than box office hits, so they would make the titles however they thought would make the opening sequence more effective rather than to just give the audience what they want.
So with that in mind, independent films have narratives that are slightly more complex or perhaps slightly more philosophical instead of a basic storyline of a mainstream film. Independent films make you think, they make you leave the cinema thinking about what you just watched and thinking about what you just witnessed; they might bring up a morale issue or an ethical issue that is currently being conflicted over somewhere in the world or perhaps somewhere more local to you. They tend to have a more subtle and discrete meaning that is harder to find than mainstream films.
The titles from independent films then should match that so they’re titles are so simple and easy to see that it makes the message more subtle, so it sets the tone for the rest of the film.
So this is exactly what I am going to use in my titles sequence; my film is an independent action film that has a quite subtle and lower intensity narrative that will make the audience think about what they just witnessed. This means that my titles will reflect this and they will be simple and they will have a more hidden meaning.
There will be no massive effects that grab the audience and shake them around, the font won’t be some stupidly fancy and flicky font that is impossible to read, it won’t have Star Wars-esque transitions that link one shot to the next, they won’t have any of that. They will be really simple and have simple effects on them.
After I came back from the first session of shooting, I reviewed all the shots that I had taken. I looked through each one, watched it a few times and decided whether it had looked like I had expected it to look or whether it was/wasn’t as effective as planned. I had filmed a surplus amount of shots so obviously there was going to be a few shots that I would need to re-film.
Some of the shots that I had filmed looked very effective and they looked a lot better than I had planned them. For instance, the final shot that I filmed was the one where the antagonist held a gun to the face of the protagonist and then the screen went black as there was a gun shot sound. The whole shot can be viewed below (however as you can see, it has no been edited to the correct length yet as I do not know how long I am going to want to have this shot)…
Another shot that went much better than expected, and one that I added in as I thought it would look good, will work very well together, as you can see below…
Again, I don’t know how long I am going to want the shots so I have not edited them down to the correct lengths, however once I have edited it, it will look like he is seamlessly and fluently walking across the floor, which will be very effective. The shot that I added in was the shot from behind the character as he is walking, I thought that I would add that in as I was filming because I thought that it might work well in conjunction with some of the other shots in that sequence and I think that it does work well as it introduces this character to the scene as well as showing his location to the audience. Once this shot has been edited down to the correct number of frames, it will look very good and it would be a good example of a match-on-action shot, as it would link from one shot to the next.
There was a shot that I came up with whilst we were filming that came when I was moving from filming one shot to record the next. This shot was the sweeping pan shot that showed the locations of each of the characters and what they were doing and looking at. The reason that this shot worked well was because it added some diversity to the scene as previously quite a few of the shots had been the same and so it was good to add something different to the scene.
These were shots that I thought worked better than it was expected to be, however the majority of the shots were just as good as I had expected them to be. They were taken exactly how I expected them to be taken and they came out with the desired effect. Although, some shots were not as good as I hoped that they would be.
One of these shots is the one where the antagonist sits down on the chair that he has just pulled up. I was hoping that it would show the whole person and that it would be in focus and the background would be out of focus so that you can see that character more predominantly. However it came out like below…
As you can see from this screenshot, the character is blurry and you can only see a portion of him so that you do not get the correct idea of what the character is doing in this shot. To make this shot more effective, I will retake it and this time I will have the camera further away from the character so that you can see all of him and I will make it so that the shot is in focus so that you can see it clearly.
Another shot that didn’t work as well as it was expected to was an over the shoulder shot of the protagonist looking around the hangar that he is sat in. The reason that it didn’t go as well as it was expected to be is because the camera focussed on the protagonist sat at the front of the shot and it did not focus on the background. That means that the part of the shot that you are supposed to be looking at and focussing on is blurry and you cannot see much there.
This is the shot and as you can see the background is completely blurred out and you cannot see the location that he is in which is what the intentions of this shot was so that shot either has to have it’s intentions changed or it has to be retaken.
Another shot that might potentially have to be retaken is one where the antagonist is stood above the protagonist and the camera is looking from the point of view of him. This shot might work however it is shorter than I had planned for it to be so I could just not use the shot or I could retake the shot; I will have to use either one of these choices as there are no other options.
So I had filmed the majority of the shots that I was going to use and I had then gone back and looked through them all to check that they were okay. A few shots were better than expected but at the same time a few shots were not to the right standard so they will need to be re-shot.