A Meeting With Giants

Today we had our meeting with the Blackburn with Darwen Council and I have to say I feel it went pretty well. They watched the advert and to my surprise they loved it. It wasn’t exactly the reaction I was expecting, it was much better. I thought they would pick up on the fact that the advert is almost exactly the same as the one we showed them the last meeting. My theory of making the advert more interesting and appealing to an audience using sound really worked. Which really surprised me. From this experience alone I have learned to appreciate the art of sound in a film. I always knew it was important, but I never really knew how important it was. I’m extremely pleased with the outcome. The council did like the advert, however, they wanted us to add more information on the information frames. They wanted us to add a phone number and a few logo’s of the participating companies.


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This is the information page before re-editing.

I’m pretty sure after this final touch, this whole project can be put to rest. We also agreed to show a little presentation on how we got from one place to the other. Overall this has been extremely stressful, and if there is one thing I have learned, it is I do NOT want to have a career in advertising.


Shooting More Shisha Content

After the first meeting with the Blackburn with Darwen Council, we were given a list of content that the council wanted us to include in the advert, which I spoke about in a previous blog post. The most important thing for me was the awful fade in between two different frames which was caused by the camera being knocked. I needed to fill the gap and find a clip that I could lap over the fade to cover it. I spent a while watching the advert over and over to find a link to something that could possibly fit there, but I couldn’t find any answers visually. I then took to sound and listened to the advert. It didn’t take long for me to find an answer to my problem. During the crossfade between the two frames, the narrator says, “One forty five minute session of smoking Shisha.” This gave me a great idea. The idea was to shoot a clock and make a time lapse. this would fit perfectly over the fade. So, I booked out a Canon XA10 and a tripod and took a clock down from the wall and shot it. The problem was, I was running short of time so decided to have someone turn the clocks hands five minutes so I could shoot it. I took the footage into edit and cut it together. I instantly found an issue. The clock was placed back on the wall in different positions, so it seemed as though the clock was bouncing around. I could shoot it again, but time was really running out. Then I had another idea. Animation. I’d never animated before so I had to look at a few online tutorials and managed to find one I could use.

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Here is an example of the background I created and the position of the clock.

 I found a preset clock online and then followed the tutorial. Using Adobe After Effects CS6, I created a new composition, and created a black solid. I then added a ramp effect to the solid, changed the start colour to white and the end colour to grey. I then changed the ramp shape to radial ramp to give it a spotlight effect then played around with it till I found a background I liked. I then added the preset clock and positioned it. Next, it got pretty complicated at this point, but I managed to pick it up quite quickly. I created a Null Object and wrote ‘time*6’ in the Expression: Angle slot. The tutorial didn’t really explain why, but I’m guessing this sets the speed of the rotation. I then linked the rotation speed to the second hand, then linked the second hand to the minute hand and timesed the rotation speed by twelve. I did the same with the hour hand, but divided it by twelve instead.

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Here is an example of the animation creation.

When I pressed play, the clock began to rotate. I then exported it and added it to the advert. It was perfect. I talked briefly about the positioning of the clock, but didn’t explain why I positioned it as I did. I placed the clock to the side of the frame because I planned on writing the fact that I mentioned about a forty five minute session of smoking shisha is equivalent to smoking a hundred cigarettes. After I added the text, it looked great and covered that awful fade quite nicely.

The next thing I did was add sound. They gave us a whole list of unfeasible content to shoot and add to it, so I decided to treat them like idiots. The footage was hardly changed at all, the biggest changes were changes to sound. I loved cartoons as a kid, and the 50’s had the greatest sound effects for cartoons. So that’s what I used. I downloaded some sound effects and lapped them over actions, such as nods and head shakes. It already made a huge difference to the advert. I also downloaded some 1950’s ad music to compliment the footage and the other sound effects and they all work together beautifully. I was actually quite surprised how much sound can change something visually. The ad went from dull and boring to interesting. This is really valuable stuff that I learned. I had no idea how effective sound could be on this level.

We also reshot the ‘white board scene.’ The council said that they wanted someone in an actual labcoat drawing the Hookah on the board and pointing at it. The new clock scene also meant that we could time the last bit of the scene with the dialogue. The last advert went over the dialogue and was really out of sync, but the new clock scene gave me an opportunity to patch it all up. I look back at the previous attempts and really see a difference in my skill as a film maker. It’s quite liberating actually. I also added some stuff at the end of the ad for more information. I hope the council like it this time.

So Much Shisha Ad Making, So Little Time.

So the council liked the video, however they wanted more. The meeting with the council went quite well, I wasn’t there, but one of the producers met with them to discuss the advert. So they initial reaction to the video was great. They loved the concept and the theme of the video, but the client felt that they wanted more. They gave us a list of suggestions for the advert which we are taking into consideration. However, there are a few issues with the suggestions.

The client wanted us to shoot in a Shisha cafe, but there are a few issues with this. First of all a Shisha cafe is a business, and nobody would ever let the media shoot anything that could potentially put them out of business. Also, I personally feel that shooting in a Shisha cafe is a complete breach of health and safety. The final reason that this is unfeasible is that a Shisha cafe is a place for someone to relax, so they genuinely look like nice places. If we shot in a Shisha cafe, it would more than likely promote Shisha rather than turn people against it.

The client also wanted us to shoot at a building site to get a shot of a cement mixer. This was a little more feasible, but due to the time frame we had, t couldn’t be done. We had to gain confirmation from a building company to shoot on site, we had to sort risk assessments, we had to go through the college. There were too many risks for the production team and the equipment and not enough time to prepare for it.

The final suggestion that for me, is impossible and absolutely ridiculous is the fact that they wanted a shot of someone smoking. I have a couple of issues with this. The first issue is that it is a breach of health and safety. The second issue is that cigarettes have nothing to do with Shisha. Cigarettes is a completely different issue.

I feel that most of the suggestions are kind of ridiculous, however they are clients and we will do our best to support what they need and fins a way to improve the advertisement with out breaking any health and safety violations or our moral codes.


The Final Time I Ever Want To Hear The Word ‘Shisha’ Again.

It’s quite ironic how the advert that I put the least amount of time in turned out to be the best. I certainly didn’t rush it, but the concept was so simple it really didn’t take very long. This was all planned, written, shot, edited and altered in less than a day. And I could not be happier with the outcome.

This is a rough version of the final shisha advert. FINALLY! The first thing we did was come up with this little concept. It was the first and only idea that was put across by one of the production members. Then we discussed ways to expand on the idea. When we were happy with a final concept, we each sat down and helped write the screenplay. A few alterations and we were in theory ready to shoot.

We booked out a CANON XA10 and a tripod, then recorded the screenplay on a portable voice recorder. The quality wasn’t that great, but it fit well with the concept. Then we shot the advert in a classroom we booked. I took a few establishing shots of the classroom full of ‘bad students’ and the clock to symbolism boredom. Simple, easy and very effective. I then shot the actress nodding to the voice over. Done.

We then took it to edit where we had a small technical issue with the continuity. It was easily fixed though. To fix it we decided to shoot another layer to hide the error. We did this by drawing a ‘Hookah’ on the white board and having the good old ‘John’ pretend to draw it. In the edit we sped this up and placed it over the error.

I then colour corrected the footage manually to make it look older, I also added some noise to give that extra effect, and it worked. I kind of did the same thing with the voice over. I used Adobe Audition and created a multi-track. I downloaded a royalty free vinyl crack sound effect and layered it under the voice over. I also added an effect to make it sound vintage. I added an FFT Equalizer effect and raised the DB. It sounded great.

I plan on adding some music when I get the time, but other than that, it is pretty much done. And I am really proud of it.

Shisha Ad – Take Three

So the re-re-shoot of the shisha advert went quite well. We booked out the studio again and re-used some of the props. However this time we had a working blender. This made a HUGE difference in terms of visuals and especially sound. For this shoot, I took the role of floor manager as we all felt that everyone should get a chance at different roles. Especially because we have had to re-shoot this three times already. I took direction from the director and passed it onto the studio floor. Camera’s, producer, actor etc.

The first major difference between Cooking With John: Take One and Two, is the dialogue and the performance of our actor Tom. Tom did really well the first time as his personality carried the production, however he isn’t an actor and improvising was quite difficult. This time however, he had time to read through the script and become more comfortable in front of the camera. He did a great job. Not only was the actor better, the crew was more accustomed to the equipment in the studio. The first thing we did was create the set, and then we adjusted the lights. Once we were happy, we made a start.

The shoot went really well and quite smoothly too. We had no major issues with lights, sound or the script. It was a lot of fun to work on and not as stressful. We all noticed our skill level has increased through practice and I felt it showed. We were a lot more prepared for the shoot as we decided it would be better if we shot it in scenes.  This made the shoot go far more smoothly as we could re-take any scene if we wanted. It didn’t have to be continuous and by the end of the shoot we were all happy.

 However, it wouldn’t be a shisha advert by Blackburn College students if there wasn’t a huge technical problem which changed the fate of the production. When we got to editing, a lot of things were wrong with the clips. Some of the clips had no sound, which we fixed quite easily by locating the sound file and pairing the sound with the video. This wasn’t the huge technical issue I am talking about though. File 52, was missing. It wasn’t missing, it was just corrupt. We got less than a second of footage. We couldn’t re-shoot that scene because it was the most important scene in the whole advert. The description of the products and the blending. There was no hope for this production. Abandon all hope.


Photo of the set from the podium.

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These are from in between takes.


From inside the podium.