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Thread: Timothy's Piano (Student Drama)

  1. #1
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    Exclamation Timothy's Piano (Student Drama)

    Hi there! Thought I'd share my work with the group as a first post. I'm currently studying Media Production at Staffordshire University, England. I'm currently in my second year, and this will be the first time I've worked with enlisted actors from agencies and directed and edited in a professional manner. Unfortunately, the ending didn't come out as well as I'd hoped - but other than that, I was pleased with how the film worked, as well as the crew's outstanding efforts. Hope you guys enjoy it

    Directed, written and edited by myself, Sam Piggott.
    Produced by Lauren Hatchard and Holly Morris.
    Lighting by Dave Gawne.
    Camera Operation by Nathan Pascoe.
    Sound Design by Patrick Hanley.
    Running by Adam Georgiou.
    Stars Ted Claxton, Toni Cummings and Daniella Rushton.
    Music composed by Matthew Page.



    Titling and credit sequence developed in Apple's Motion.
    Edited together in Final Cut Pro.
    Tinted using Color.

  2. #2
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    Hi Sam, thanks for posting. A great effort. As a student of film you can expect harsher criticism here than we might dish out to amateur home movie makers. This is all done with the intention to help you get bettter grades (and so we can all learn). This was clearly not put together by a bunch of first timers so I'm going to be hyper critical - OK?

    I thought this was an interesting piece though I have to admit I didn't "get" the end. We get a car crash and then - what? The significance of the keyboard standing in the corner and the meaningful glances from the mother were lost on me. Perhaps this is what you mean by not being happy with the ending?

    Overall: Well edited and very well paced.
    Good steady shots (there would be absolutely NO excuse for the trendy hand-held wobbly look in this piece).
    Good mix of wide/mid/close shots and a few interesting angles.
    Appropriate music - I particularly liked the way the music was both the background and part of the plot.
    Nicely done titles.

    Areas which you might consider for improvement.

    1. Plausibility: A 15 y/o boy with a room full of cuddly toys and a "Thunderbirds" duvet? It's possibl that he is being ironic or is a bit what we used to call "backward" - but there's nothing in the script to suggest either of these.

    2. Plausibility: The teacher sees him playing and is immediately able to arrange an audition at a music college? Unlikely. And easily solved by changing the script along the lines of "and she's going to look into arranging an audition". Sounds more plausible and doesn't affect the plot at all.

    3. Bedside clock goes from 6:58 to 7:00 without a minute passing. This is an unnecessary distraction - and it is a distraction because if an audience is shown a time in a film it is taken to be significant. So we are distracted by wondering whether this is significant or not.

    4. The first shot of the present is confusing. There's nothing else in the shot to give us a sense of its size. Maybe this is intentional and meant to add a sense of mystery, but I think not.

    5. Exposure: The shots from the back of the car suffer from the mother and son being silhouetted against what we can see out of the windows - the sky. You have attempted to expose correctly for the characters, but the contrast is just too great and there is so much white sky it's distracting. One suggestion is you shoot this type of shot in an area with lots of tall buildingas and/or trees which will cut our the sky. Otherwise you need to get some light onto the talent. Reflectors?

    6. Exposure and Colour. The shot of Timothy examining his present is a great shot spoiled by the colour and exposure. The background is brighter than Timothy's face and his face is lit by the blue reflection of the wrapping paper. Get another light on his face to remove both problems.

    7. Generally I really liked the passing of time sequence as Timothy studies and practices the piano. I liked the fact that rather than show him playing progressively difficult pieces yoiu stuck to the one piece (which did get a bit busier half way through) but more importantly I liked the way you used just this for sound whilst his mother changes from pleased/proud to getting more and more irate. There's somethibg particularly dramatic about someone shouting when you can't hear it. This really worked for me in showing how immersed Timothy had become in the piano.
    What I didn't like about this sequence was the reversing of the direction of the dolly shots for two reasons: (1) if you keep the dolly shots going in one direction this would give a better impression of progression rather than going back and forth (2) reversing direction was a bit reminiscent of the "hosing" seen in amateur home movies.

    8. The nat sound in the external shots was poor. It sounded to me like there was wind noise, but even if this was genuine sound it seemed noisier than the scenery warranted. Irrespective the contrast between the background sound here and when he got into the car was too great.

    9. Composition: A lot of the camerawork had shots where it was tilted at less than 10 degrees. In some shots it was OK but generally I found this a distraction. I'd be happy to be corrected by you or any "proper" filmmakers, but my undrestanding is that verticals should always be vertical unless you want to create a specific effect - in which case the tilt should be very noticable not a few degrees.

    10. The playing of the piano. He was so obviously not playing the piece. I'm sure in retrospect, you'd have had this part of the music recorded first and got the actor to "learn" an approximation. This is actually very tricky, because even if it's close there will always be part of your audience to whom it will be obvious he's not playing - and this removes them from the magic and reminds them they're watching a film.

    My favourite sequence was a rather straightforward sequence of three shots from 5:24 to 5:34 - running out of school and getting into the car. Aside from the sound mentioned before, this particular sequence for some reason stood out to me as looking very professional.

    I hope these comments give you food for thought and I really look forward to seeing your next project.
    Well done.
    Tim

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    Cheers Tim! I really appreciate the feedback, that's a lot to take in!

    In terms of plausibility, I completely understand where you're coming from. Viewing the piece over and over during the edit didn't work particularly well for myself since I knew exactly how the plot went, and lack of confidence in the final cut without any consultation with colleagues until the last minute proved to well and truly be a disastrous decision.

    The toys were basically a method to try and push his age. We had a lot of disagreements to begin with, but one of my lecturers suggested I kept it in to further the point (much to my disagreement). However, a lot of the cast members mentioned this as an issue in the shoot ("How old is he meant to be?" etc).

    The storyline itself was always meant to be a little bit over-the-top and corny - however the professional touch and the way I edited it didn't reflect this initial feel.

    The clock and the present I hadn't even considered at all! I hadn't thought about these items, and wasn't pulled up on it in my constructive criticisms with lecturers!

    The "montage" sequence I completely follow you in. The pans from left to right seem to bounce off the idea that he's going forward and backward, and not really making any progress. I feel that in order to show this in future, I'll be doing the same directional pan over and over. I'm glad you liked the montage however, that was one of the most edited sections of them all.

    Yeah - the playing of the piano was an issue. My actor (Ted Claxton) played a piece and told me the piece he played, so that I could have it composed later in the edit and have a professionally produced soundtrack. Unfortunately, upon consulting my composer, he said that the two songs didn't match up. So in desperation, he constructed something up which matched up as closely as possible. The way it was recorded meant that I couldn't really cut it up in Soundtrack and crossfading it without it sounding obvious, so I had to stick with the audio I had. That's my excuse

    Anyway - I really appreciate all of your feedback, and eagerly await more on my next project. Thank you very much, and I'm really glad you enjoyed it

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    I post this reply without reading any other comments first. First of all I think you can justly be proud of what you have produced. It was an enjoyable viewing experience and it kept my attention well until the very end.

    The shot of the talent touching the present went on a little too long and he seemed to have his eyes looking into camera rather than at the gift.

    The music was very good indeed and I particuarly loved the single note when he sees the keyboard at the school. Its like the music is talking to him and saying come back to me.

    I think you conveyed the passing of time well. I thought you were going to show an incrementing series of music books from which he was playing but it peaked at 2.

    Keyboad syncronisation seemed off when he was playing in the school.

    The argument sequences with the mother as she continually finds him glued to the keyboard we good but I felt appeared a little remote due to there being no audio at all. It jarred just a tiny bit the first time I saw her but then fitted fine when the rest followed in silence.

    Not sure about the car incident, was she injured in the crash ? The audio in the car was a little bit on the low side.

    Picture quality and editing all seemed good to me. Significant continuity issues with the calender shots ? One second its displayed on the wall and the next its free standing by the bed. Also the camera sweeps from left to right past it as though its on a flat wall but the shot of the bedroom shows it to be in a corner, so the pan would be impossible.

    Thats all for now. I will now read the comments from others. I did enjoy the film. Thanks for posting

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarghm View Post

    Anyway - I really appreciate all of your feedback, and eagerly await more on my next project. Thank you very much, and I'm really glad you enjoyed it
    I'm glad my comments weren't wasted (whether you agree or not, at least you're considering them). If you have another review at uni, I'd be interested in what the lecturer and your colleagues have to say in the light of our comments here. Especially if they find any particularly invalid.
    Tim

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shrimpfarmer View Post
    I post this reply without reading any other comments first.
    The best way .. . because ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Shrimpfarmer View Post

    The argument sequences with the mother as she continually finds him glued to the keyboard we good but I felt appeared a little remote due to there being no audio at all. It jarred just a tiny bit the first time I saw her but then fitted fine when the rest followed in silence.
    I singled this out for praise! And this just goes to show how you can't please all the people

    Quote Originally Posted by Shrimpfarmer View Post
    The audio in the car was a little bit on the low side.
    Well mentioned - I forgot that one. Suggest laviers (tie clips) or hidden mics really close to the source (it's amazing how much background noise there is in a car).
    Tim

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    Technically good, but ultimately unsatisfying as a story because I didn't understand what happened after the accident. Mom's happy hug showed that "something" was resolved, but I don't know what. Also were the toys showing that the boy was perhaps mentally handicapped? (I ask because when they pull out of the parking space, it's clearly marked as handicapped.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave in Thailand View Post
    Also were the toys showing that the boy was perhaps mentally handicapped? (I ask because when they pull out of the parking space, it's clearly marked as handicapped.)
    Well if he is not, then the fixed penalty ticket is in the post

  9. #9

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    I think it's very unfair of Tim to do such a though job because that leaves nothing for the rest of us to say.

    I would have liked the story if it had a better ending.

  10. #10
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    I will explain the ending - there was initially going to be a hospital scene, but at the last minute, the woman in charge of keeping that location open and free to shoot caved. It wasn't her fault to be fair, and I started having doubts - it was my own fault for not having a backup plan. So this ending was sort of a "it'll have to do" sorta thing. Apologies

    Thanks again to all you guys for the comments and criticism. I really appreciate the lot of it

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