Sunday, 27 May 2012

Magazine Spreads and Critical Reflection

Below are both the final edits of my magazine articles. The top article is generally about the art of animation and how it is reverting back to the way it once was back in the 1930's. I decided to choose this topic because I have a passion for the subject; I also realised that I could use copyright free images because the images I have used are taken from my sketchbook. The article is written as if it were to be published in a specialist magazine, the likes of which I found examples of online. It was fairly difficult to write in a specialist way without getting too technical; which I found a lot of articles on animation did. Although I understand the terminology, and those buying the magazines would as well; I tried to make it appeal to a larger audience since the topic of Disney hits a wide range of people. The layout I wanted to look vintage; as if the images used are film cells from the past. I also left them looking rough, as opposed to cleaning them up and erasing my guidelines. I wanted to pull quotes from the passages and put them in quotation marks, not just because it is a standard magazine look, but also because they almost become like chapter headings in a story book; which seemed appropriate within the article topic. I initially wanted to add more drawings, of small animals interacting with the text and sitting on the title etc. But the attempt failed as adding the drawings meant less space for text, as well as it then becoming too image heavy. The opening statement I set in bold, again because it is a standard magazine layout, but also because it lets the reader know what the article is about. I feel like the large animated images may peak a persons interest, and therefore having a short summary allows them to decide whether they want to read it before continuing. I considered having a sepia background but eventually felt that leaving it white means the text is easier to read and the images stand out more.

This second article is a travel piece about New York City. I chose to write this piece because I have been to New York several times and as such feel I know enough to suggest things to do. I wanted to write it with the idea of suggesting things that wouldn't usually be seen. I deliberately didn't mention famous landmarks like the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty because I felt they were generic. When I went recently, I struggled to find articles that would tell readers unusual things to do within the city. Although I don't suggest necessarily unusual things, I have tried to incorporate things like the best view off of Queensboro bridge, or the best places to eat outside of central Manhattan. This I feel gives it a tiny edge over the standard articles you see about visiting sites like Ground Zero and Central Park. One of the things I struggled with was to figuring out where to place the images to make it look like a travel article. I eventually loosely based it on online Elle Travel articles. They often have a scroll bar down the bottom for images, and although I couldn't incorporate that, I used the basic idea and put the images in a row down the bottom. Again the images are my own and therefore copyright free. The short barkers above some of the paragraphs are there to break the text up, and also to keep interest. I want the reader to want to know what they should "take the time" to do or "don't miss" out on. The effects on the images I thought came across almost looking like fridge magnets; this I thought was a nice (if accidental) touch because it's a staple image of things brought back off of holiday from tourist shops. 

Overall I am relatively happy with my magazine articles. I am happy with the layouts and the topic of both of them. I incorporated my own experience on one of them and a topic I am heavily interested in on the other. My one real struggle was with the animation piece and the writing style for it. I found it difficult to keep it down to earth whilst talking about a fairly technical subject but I felt it works fairly well. I'm also impressed with the layout and how it all came together. 

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Land Final Edit and Critical Reflection

The topic of Fox Hunting for our land project was not the wisest choice when it came down to the technicalities/legalities of filming fox hunting groups in the area. We decided early on that we should mainly focus on the history of fox hunting in the area as opposed to showing a bias either for or against the practice. This made it much easier to film and edit as we simply amalgamated both the fox and the hound footage together, without showing a preference. We also thought it might make it easier to gain an interview with a local group if we were seen to be neutral on the matter.

Despite this, many of the hunts refused to get back to us the moment that they heard there was a camera involved. Thankfully, the Hursley Hambledon Hunt was kind enough to allow us to film their kennels. Although the Hursley Hambledon group has not hunted foxes since the ban, they refused to talk about even their drag hunting on camera since they were so afraid of the controversy surrounding the matter. The huntsman also refused to speak to us on film, although he was more than happy to appear on camera with the dogs which was a fortunate turn of events for us. The matter of filming the dogs themselves was also tricky. We were not allowed in the pen with the hounds due to the sheer number of them. There was much concern over the equipment being knocked from our hands, and we were even cautioned about getting too close to the fence in case one of the dogs jumped up. Thankfully we threw caution to the wind and got some great close up shots of the hounds as they bounded up to investigate. The three people seen at various points throughout the footage were all there on that day to assess the younger hounds that had recently come back to the kennels as adults. The woman seen on camera had been a master in the Hursley Hambledon hunt for 20 years and was incredibly interesting to talk too. We were restricted from filming anywhere on the location other than the kennels because they were afraid of us filming the buildings, therefore the area we were allowed to film in was extremely small. Unfortunately this meant that the interviewee was often drowned out by the noise of the dogs in the background. We managed to salvage the quotes we had but all together lost a majority of what she had said. All in all the people at the kennels were incredibly guarded; just around the corner were some stables, but we were also restricted to film the horses. They explained that the horses were actually owned by the huntsman's wife and were concerned that she would not grant permission for them to be used in the footage. Despite trying to placate the group, they would not waver on their word and as such we missed out on filming an animal that is a staple of the fox hunting image. The Hursley Hambledon hunt were incredibly kind to allow us to film their kennels regarding a matter that is highly controversial in current times, therefore we did understand their reservations and did what we could with what we had.

Filming the foxes was a surprisingly altogether easier ordeal. Despite hitting some dead ends with sanctuaries that did not care for foxes, we were eventually put in contact with a rescue centre that dealt with taking in abandoned fox cubs. Despite the fact that the animals were one day to be released back into the wild, due to their young age, they were allowed to interact and be petted by humans for the time being. Due to this stroke of luck, we were allowed into the pen and left alone for half an hour with them to film. The cubs, although skittish, were incredibly curious about us and we got some great footage of the two siblings. Our one concern was that the area in which the foxes had been filmed was not rural countryside in which fox hunting is usually imagined. Instead the cubs were seen on hard concrete; this we decided wasn't completely unrealistic as they would just come across as urban foxes. Our only other trouble was fairly humorous and easily overcome. The pen in which the cubs were housed was incredibly small, barely big enough for two of us, and the cubs quickly became curious about our camera bag. Since they continually ran over to chew on it, there were numerous occasions of accidentally getting the camera bag in shot, but we managed to kick it back enough so that it was behind us and they eventually left well enough alone.

During the editing process we became concerned that the way in which the footage was edited together, made it look like the Hursley Hambledon hunt was still in the practice of fox hunting. We felt it was important to put a disclaimer on our uploaded Youtube video to state that this was not the case. Despite several different editing techniques, we couldn't find a way to tie in the fox footage with the hounds without raising concern. Since we had decided to come across as unbiased on the matter, we decided that the footage should merely be seen as an homage to an old English tradition, as opposed to anything opinionated or slandering.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Monkey Business.. Oh and Law.

We've been working on What's On for... I lose count of the weeks.
But what I should never lose track of is how much media law dogs us; even as student journalists creating our (technically) amateur(ish) work. (See how I attempted to dodge Defamation there? Learnt something)
In our Halloween special, Jake Gable and I came across the problem of Fair Dealing. In other words, Copyright. We tried to use trailer clips of a couple of the films we were promoting and ran into the issue of, well, just stealing images really. However after a few tweaks here and there (cutting them down to half their length and putting huge "This belongs to...." on the images, we survived).

Yet copyright is actually a major issue; for instance this debate that I've highlighted down below...

If you find media law a bit, slow-going, shall we say. Here is an article on copyright law, involving monkeys.
Basically, a guy went on holiday where a couple of cheeky chimps, took his camera and took photos of themselves. Harmless enough-but now there is a debate going on about who actually owns the images. According to laws, the monkeys do. But don't tell Cater News Agency that...

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Media Law: Libel and Defamation

Publication & Defamation & Identification = Libel

If what you write:
-Lowers someone in the estimation of others
-Causes them to be shunned or avoided
-Ruins their profession
-Exposes them to hatred, ridicule or contempt

Defamation via pictures.
Careluss use of background shots, for example:
-Talking about an issue like fraud with an unrelated company in the background

Defamation Inferences
Things that could be read wrongly given the context.
An example of an innuendo in a headline being this:
Although this example being not necessarily harmful, journalists need to assess the whole context before hand.
Another thing to take into account is who you are writing about. Are they powerful enough to sue?

Libel Defences
-Justification - "It's true and I can prove it in court".
Having witnesses or defiant proof for something.
E.G. American media ran a story on Lindsay Lohan stealing a
$2,500 necklace, on the basis that the store in question stated
that they had CCTV footage of the star commiting the crime.

-Fair Comment - An honestly held opinion based upon facts or privileged material such
as press conferences. Or if the story is in the public interest.
-Balance - If the story explores both sides of a story or accusation fairly
-Bane and Antidote - Defamation removed by context (undoing what you've previously
said in the same article)
- Apologies and Clarifiation - For instance in this case

A journalist will have no defence if they have not:
-Checked their facts
-When they have not "referred up"
-When they have not attempted to put themselves in the shoes of those they are writing about
-Evidently got carried away by a juicy story
-Not bothered to wait for a lawyers opinion

Spot The Problem

We're back. After a lengthy Summer period which went past in a flash, we have returned to Winchester News Online. Where I now have the promotion from "What's On Girl", to Showbiz Editor. I do exactly the same thing, I just now sound more important when I fire off those oh so important emails begging for an interview.

Last weeks show was trial and error. I now have a producer in the form of Jake Gable, who is my camera man, co-presenter and general help when I start flapping over things like what to say in a link. We struggled initially to come up with a layout for the show, since this time around we wanted the show to be more engaging and more hands on. Anything showing the presenters up is going to be good viewing, and trying the events ourselves means we can have much more fun making the show. Especially when it's myself and Jake Gable who manage to find a pun or cheesy line to fit into any situation.

We narrowed it down to a Salsa Class, which Jake Gable attended alone on account of me being ill. A clip of Matthew LeTissier being interviewed which we borrowed from the guys over at Sports, and an interview we got with Rebecca Vaughan; the star of the show I,Elizabeth which is currently touring the country.
Although the show essentially came off without a hitch, we did encounter the usual problems upon the way. So in true fashion and to make my lecturers proud, I will simply list the things we could have done better.

Problem #1:
Two cameras were originally just an idea to create a polished looking
finishing touch. (Two angles, practically Sky News). Instead it ended up
being a necessity, as, despite checking the cameras meticulously before
we left, one of them decided to give up on life just as we got into the

Problem #2:
Thanks to Problem #1, we captured Rebecca Vaughans answers to my
questions, but the moment she left, had to re-record me asking the same
questions, in the same tone of voice, to her empty chair. I literally
deserved an Oscar for my acting that day. I will thank the dead camera in
my acceptance speech.

Problem #3:
Dressing rooms have mirrored walls. Which is fantastic. Especially when
you don't want to get a reflection of a camera behind the stars head.
Lord knows we don't want the camera to be seen! A magician never reveals
their secrets.

Problem #4:
Props can't be hung on hot lightbulbs. Just saying.

I could go on. There was also the issue with the fact that I (unintentionally) gave myself the better camera angle whilst interviewing Rebecca, to the point where I made myself look more important. Given my (apparent) diva attitude and my (slight) tendency to want to hog camera time, I just get raised eyebrows when I say that this was NOT on purpose. Though I'm sure Freud would disagree.
Jake also encountered problems when he ventured out alone. Apparently Salsa classes are in the dark these days. Meaning poor old Jake was a mere silhouette upon our Final Cut Pro screen when it came to editing. Thank the powers that be that he did have shots in the light and we salvaged it with a voiceover (and a pun!).

Despite our setbacks, which unfortunately everybody must face, we pulled together a show. And for our first week back it could most definitely have gone worse.
Next week we're prepared to face all this, but in London for our Halloween special. It's going to be scarily good, I promise. (Sorry, couldn't resist).
But if you can't wait that long, watch last weeks show and play "Spot The Problems" to yourself.
There'll be less and less problems each week so enjoy the easy levels why they last.