Over the past few weeks I have worked in a team on a video project that addresses littering around New York City. First we came up with a storyboard that follows a couple on a date though New York City. On their date they witness someone blatantly littering in front of them. Although the couple is disgusted, they do not take any action and just walk away. As they continue on their date, they witness more and more instances of trash accumulating on the streets of New York. Finally, they arrive at their stoop which is covered in trash, making it difficult for them to get into their house. At this point the film rewinds to the initial seen where they witnessed someone littering. This time, the couple picks up after the litterer and puts his trash in a receptacle. The film ends with a message about how your actions matter, so everyone should pick up their trash.
Once we had this storyboard, we dissected each scene to determine the angles, camera views and locations we needed for each shot. From there we came up with a filming plan. The plan ordered the scenes based on location. Each scene had notes on what we needed to remember while filming and how we would like to film the shot.
From here we were ready to film. We followed our plan however, each shot ended up taking longer than we anticipated so we ended up shooting over three days. Since our scenes were filmed in a variety of locations, we ended up having to move around a lot while we were filming. This only added to our filming time. We also tried to stick to three takes for each shot in order to create the best footage. This of course took some time. The hardest thing to keep track of during the shooting was the inconsistencies between shots. Since all of our filming was done in public places, we could not control the people in the background of our shots. We ended up waiting for people to pass us before filming however it was impossible to eliminate all of the inconsistencies. Of course, with an cast of extras, this problem would have not been as apparent. The differences between lighting and color each day of filming created an additional difficulty. In the end, we had to color correct quite a bit in the editing phase in order to get a consistent color throughout the film.
The editing phase was completed in two parts. First each team member created a rough cut on their own. The point of this was to have multiple versions with different scene orders. We watched each rough cut and chose the one we liked the most. From here we divided up the work. One team member completed finer edits on the rough cut between each shots, one person collected songs and background sounds, and the third person wrote and recorded the narration. Once we had all of these pieces we worked together to put them all together. We then added the title slides, color corrected the scenes and added transitions where we thought they were needed. As we were editing we constantly watched the film over and over. When we were toward the end of the edits, we were all struggling with two aspects of the piece. First we thought that the transition from walking up the stoop to the rewind scene was too abrupt. No matter what effect we added to it, the change felt unnatural. In the end we decided to create our own transition. We used the pause, rewind and play symbols to create a smoother transition for the viewer. These symbols helped to orient the viewer before the quick rewind. Another place we thought could use some improvement was in the transition we were trying to create with the change in the song. When the song changes we wanted the film to change from positive to negative as the scenes fill more with trash. We initially thought that the song change would create enough of a transition but it turned out to be a bit too abrupt. Thus we decided to play around with other effects to emphasize this change in the mood of the film. In the end, we added a black and white filter to the scenes that are supposed to feel more grim. Thus, we had visual and audial cues to the viewer that things were getting worse.
In the end, the final product followed the plan set out by the storyboard. In the editing phase we made some adjustments that ultimately helped to get the story across more clearly. The hardest aspect of creating a short video like this was to make sure the message was clear. Since we had no dialog, the filmography, the narration, the songs and the edits needed to come together to cohesively send a message. At times it felt difficult to judge whether the message was clear enough because we knew the story we were trying to tell and we saw it so many times. It likely would have been better if we tested the video on more people to ensure the basic story was conveyed. Overall, though, I am satisfied with how the video came out. The collaboration process of this project was time consuming but very successful. I feel that my teammates and I worked well together and each pulled our weight. In a project like this one, a lot of time has to be carved out to work together. We divided jobs where we could, but a lot of the work ended up being completed together. As a team we were all very present and willing to collaborate together throughout the process. I would definitely work with this team again in the future.
See the final video below: