Here are scanned pages from my notebooks. Although all the vital contents have been rewritten onto this site, here they are in their original form.
During the Easter holidays, I made a trip to Paris and stayed in a hostel for nearly 2 weeks. Having spent the first 7 years of my life in France, this was the first time I’d been back for an extended period of time, and especially alone.
Broadly speaking, and the answer I would give if anybody asked, I was going to improve my French. Again, I basically hadn’t spoken it for a decade and a half – and if I had it was so far removed from the context of the everyday: think Midlands schoolkids bashing their way through ‘je joué au foot’.
It was different this time.
With my notebook already armed with key phrases that seemed half familiar, and a map of the Paris Métro that did not, I stepped off the train and out of the gates of the Gare Du Nord.
The first thing I noticed was the cold, the remnants of the beast from the east. The second was the bustle – almost but not quite matching London. Finally, the militarisation struck me. Soldiers, honest to god soldiers with semi automatic rifles and camo gear guarded the station, alongside the equally kitted out Police.
On the second or third day, my bag gave up the ghost. This led to the first big test of my french. It was a step by step process. In the glasses store that I walked into in order to ask where I could buy a – I guess I didn’t actually know the word for bag, so I mimed enthusiastically, using props (obviously I could convey what I wanted fairly well – it was just the vocabulary that escaped me). The attended kindly pointed me down the street towards the main shopping district, carrying on down the Rue la Lafayette. The behemoth that is the Galeries Lafayette soon greeted me, and I slinked around in awe and only slightly disoriented. After finally finding a section that sold ‘sacs’, I looked through a few and picked one out. €129. Yeah. No. Again fumbling for vocab, I tried to convey that I was looking for a bag that perhaps ‘moins’ – I rubbed two fingers and thumb together. Ah, d’accord, moins cher, he replied. He suggested ‘Citadium’ – une autre boutique.
As it turned out Citadium didn’t have the type of bag I was after either, but having to visit it and several other stores before ending with joy in the Decathlon at la Madeleine cemented basic interactionary French in the front of my mind, and having the such a specific task did frame my interactions in a way which made it a lot easier to pick up words and gleam meaning from context. I would definitely recommend it as a way to jump back into a language after a long time away.
Millie, our one-woman film powerhouse, has been working on a third edit of ‘Milk’, and I have been there to advise and offer input.
One clear new direction was the involvement of a new composer and sound director, Guillermo, who reached out via a mass email looking for projects to work on. I met Guillermo, showed him the film as it stood and we discussed where we wanted to go from here and what was needed to be done.
Yesterday, he came back with his first edit (not yet finished). It was fantastic – a huge elevation in the overall tone and storytelling potential of the film. Through music composition, some foley, new overlaid ambient sound and a few other tricks, the film now stands on a whole new level.
There is still work to be done, and I’m meeting him this afternoon to give him some notes, however, they are really minor tweaks here and there – with the exception of the long conversation (scene 6); I think it’s missing something that I just can’t put my finger on.
What I got from this:
I work in the Learning Zone at Central Saint Martins, which accommodates a staggeringly disproportionate amount of student printing, especially so towards deadlines.
Frustrations run high as the pressure mounts. When a student has spent the last 4 or 5 hours staring at a monitor often making minute changes to their work, and then when they send it to print and it doesn’t reproduce on paper how it showed up on screen nor how they were expecting, they can be understandingly devastated.
Beyond the basic logistical issues people come up against – which printer to send to, accidentally setting double-sided or mono when it should have been colour, there is a lack of appreciation into the work that must go into a successful print.
But there is a fault shared by the majority in their approach to printing. One should not simply think of all the work as done in the software, and then printing simply as a case of hitting the button and being done – a thoughtful, considered approach that can adapt will necessarily produce a better print, that looks closer to how you wanted it to look.
One must learn about colour, and ink, and colour spaces.
It’s not enough to think in-depth about the bulk of the process, it must be thought in depth the entire way through. A commitment to the end result.
According to Millie and Lorene’s schedule, it sometimes seems that they think the only thing that needs doing with sound is just syncing it with the footage and then dusting your hands for a job finished.
I guess this is a vaguely understandable belief to have if you’ve not worked with sound files or editing sound files before. However, I made sure that they do have access to exactly the same sound files as me. I know they are very focused on the visuals of the film and esp. the colour grading – which is fab, I love colour grading – but I wish they would stop treating sound as an afterthought.
This is very annoying. Especially when I had to fight so hard on set to capture decent sounds thanks to locals still being in the pub, and I had to pour so much work into Roll 6 (the main scene) in order to get the sound as crisp as possible with a controllable amount of background noise. To do this for every take will be a whole load of time thrown at it, which is something I don’t have while I still don’t have a cut of the film.
I’m sure they will realise once they hear the film synced with just the raw sound files, most of them completely untouched.
What I got from this:
I asked Lorene and Millie for a cut of the film as it stood so far.
I knew they were working on colour grading, but if the film needs the sound done sooner rather than later for the 1st cut, I needed to start before they finished colour grading.
I, therefore, asked Lorene for a full cut of the film as it was so far.
I asked what a “10 bit one” was. I then told her the stills would probably work, as it seems like it was causing her difficulties to sent them a render of the whole film.
This, as I learned later, was a mistake on my part.
She sent me a list of the shots:
so I made corresponding folders ready to receive the stills and dump the relevant sound files in the folder. It was labour intensive – for no real reason, and that labour could have been saved. That was a little frustrating.
As well, the stills were in DNG format! Large and unfriendly. I could turn them into jpegs, but that’s incredibly labour intensive.
The stills turned out to be a little useful, but only really for reference as to whether the sound was for the right shot, which it should have been, but as stills, they were not hugely useful even for this simple task.
I could not get to work.
This is why ‘Data Wrangler’ is a job, to separate the grunt simple file processing with the actual creative process of editing and mastering files.
What I learnt from this:
Rosie approached me to participate in a long-standing collaboration with a primary school near Ealing. She said during our first group meeting about it that it was because of my skills in organising events.
The discussion we had between the four of us, Rosie, Panama, Florie and myself, was interesting and focused on coming up with what to do on the day that the children come to Wimbledon. Panama and Rosie had already talked about the notion of play, so my suggestion was to create some sort of system – a framework to facilitate open exploration. I mentioned board games, Rosie adding that mathematics is a big focus of learning objectives all through this age group – I responded that one of the most compelling ways to learn about maths is to have a specific application for it.
I remember a project that I got put forward to do when I was at a school called ‘Operation Monserrat’ which was exactly that. We, as the 20/25 or so schoolchildren, were put in charge of the island of Montserrat, as it was about to experience a Monsoon. We collectively had to facilitate the emergency response, with small group and pairs working on different areas. Curtis and I were tasked with analysing and sharing the satellite imagery with the rest of the group. There was a man on Skype that the Comms team were constantly talking to – and I remember one point when our feed went down, a preplanned part of the game, we had to go to them and explain the problem, only then did he provide us with a new URL.
I’d really like to create an experience like this.