Instant Replay: To Immersive Audio and Beyond: New Experiences in Broadcasting

Welcome to our new series where we will have an instant replay of our events.  First up, our event from the 22nd November 2016, our annual Bernard Happe lecture: ‘To Immersive Audio and Beyond: New Experiences in Broadcasting’

Most people are now aware that a richer TV experience is on its way with manufacturers offering more pixels, more frames, more colours, blacker blacks and whiter whites. However we all know that at least half of the TV experience is what we hear, so in this lecture a team from BBC Design and Engineering explore why we should also expect a better audio experience and how we think it will be delivered.

Simon Tuff is one of the BBC’s principal technologists, specialising in audio. He’s been an audio enthusiast since he started making mix tapes as a teenager and found his way to the BBC after reading electrical and electronic engineering at Bradford University and short spells in the defense and computer industries. Simon’s now part of a BBC wide team,  working with industry, to develop, standardise and implement the next generation of audio technology, which he hopes will create more creative possibilities and deliver a better audience experience.

Chris Baume is a Senior Research Engineer at BBC R&D in London, and the BBC lead for the Orpheus project. His research interests span a number of areas including semantic audio analysis, interaction design and spatial audio. He is currently developing next-generation audio production tools as part of his PhD research at the University of Surrey. Chris is a Chartered Engineer and a member of the BBC’s audio research group where he leads the production tools work stream.

Chris Pike is a Senior Scientist in the audio research team at BBC Research & Development, as well as being a PhD candidate in the Audio Lab at the University of York. He leads BBC R&D’s work on spatial audio for broadcasting and virtual reality.

A Secret Guide to Getting Work Experience

The secret to getting work experience is there is no secret; it is a combination of luck and meeting the right people. BUT fear not even if your dad isn’t Danny Boyle you can still get into the industry.

 

To get work experience you have to be confident, optimistic and be in the right place at the right time. You only need one good placement and if you work hard enough then doors will begin to open for you.

 

The downside of work experience is that the majority of placements are unpaid and few offer expenses.

 

How you can help yourself to get work experience…

 

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for work experience – the worst thing anyone can say is NO.
  2. Work hard and be positive – no one wants to work with someone they dislike.
  3. Don’t give up – even if every door keeps closing, if you keep trying then one will open for you!

 

Ways to get work experience…

 

 

Become an EXTRA

By becoming a film and TV extra you will be able to get onto film sets and meet crew members whilst being paid… Not bad.

 

Make sure you come across as confident and professional when talking to the crew. The best people to talk too are anyone in the production team or assistant director team as they mainly hire runners.

 

I got my first work experience placement after working as an extra on a comedy TV series!!

 

FUN FACT: EXTRAS are actually called SA’s (Supporting Artists) by most film crews.

 

 

 

Production Companies (that have dedicated work experience schemes)!

 

Not all production companies offer work experience and those that do tend to have a system in place to control applicants. These tend to be larger companies such as BBC, Tiger Aspect, Endemol & Hattrick.

 

It is worth applying to these but remember you need to stand out from the thousands of applicants who are also applying. Make sure you properly research and watch shows/films by the production company you are applying to so you can have that extra edge when applying!

 

Here are a few links to get started:

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/careers/work-experience

http://www.tigeraspect.co.uk/recruitment/work-experience/

http://www.endemolshineuk.com/careers#career-work-experience

https://www.hattrick.co.uk/Contact

 

 

Networking Events

Networking is key to the TV/Film industry, as most employers employ people they have know or have worked with before. As frustrating as this is when you are starting out, you’ll appreciate it once you are in the industry.

 

To find networking events in your area look up film/TV societies and organizations. The International Moving Image Society holds a networking event each month for members and it is a great way to meet like-minded individuals!

 

Other good places to look are Eventbrite and Facebook for film related events going on in your area.

 

Film Festivals

There are two ways to do film festivals – volunteering or attending and both ways allow you to network.

 

By volunteering you get to go for free but do have to spend time volunteering. A lot of festivals will advertise on the website if they are looking for volunteers.

 

Attending means you can go to all the guest talks and screenings where you will meet many filmmakers who are generally more than happy to talk to you.

 

 

University Lecturers

Don’t forget that film and TV lecturers at your University are likely to be making films alongside their teaching. Get to know your lecturers and prove that to them that you are hard working and dedicated. Hopefully this will lead you to being asked onto their next shoot.

‘Winged Warriors’: From Short Script to Film Festival

Drama and documentary filmmaker Evy Barry talks about her experience with the film festival circuit and her successful short period drama Winged Warriors, which has proven itself in the lime light.

Barry’s background is in documentary film making in television, for which she has shot material for over ten years.

 EB: ‘The amazing thing about doing that job is that you get to go places and meet people that you wouldn’t normally meet, and ask them some incredibly personal questions. I like talking to people, I like finding things out and I think if you’re a creative person as well and you get to do that for your job, you’re quite lucky’

After completing her training at The National Film and Television School, Barry followed her first passion: Directing drama.

EB: At the end of the course, the tutor said to me: ‘You’ve got it’ I said: ‘What do you mean?’ And he said: ‘Whatever a drama director is, you are it’ and I thanked him.’

Barry’s Winged Warriors confirms this statement on every level. Together with BAFTA winning cinematographer Fred Fabre and a professional cast and crew of 20 people, Barry shot her 12-page script inspired by her Great Gandfather’s experience in the First World War, over the course of two days. The synopsis: The remnants of a British Army platoon reach the enemy trenches. They have three chances to get out: The three messenger pigeons.

The production was challenged by weather, time pressure and not to mention: The pigeons.

EB: ‘Pigeons get stressed if you handle them too much […] The shot came for the actor to launch the pigeon in the air, and he threw it upwards, all of the cast and crew cast their eyes to the heavens and there was nothing launching itself towards the horizon at all. So all eyes dropped down to the floor, and the pigeon had just kind of plopped in a lump onto the ground. Apparently it had been a bit stressed by being handled such a lot, and it stood there for about five minutes and then it finally flew off… and we had to wait. The handler was on set to help us, but I have to say there was great hilarity among everybody on set and 20 people killing themselves laughing, was quite a loud thing to behold. It was quite funny.’

Barry addresses the messenger pigeon as one of the main challenge, however she also points out that attention to detail is vital when shooting a period drama. She speaks about the specific uniforms and ways of wearing them, having similar looking pigeons for different takes of the same scene and last but not least, having the correct gun fire sound added in post production.
After finishing it, Barry arranged at cast and crew screening and received great ovations.

EB: ‘They applauded wildly and I thought ‘Yes!’ Perhaps this is the way it’s gonna go, and that it was gonna play all around the world on the festival circuit. And it didn’t quite happen like that […] It’s taken 18 months or so, you can’t predict the festival run for your film. You don’t know what the festival strategy is for that year. As filmmaker it is quite easy to get disheartened. You just have to remember that feeling that you had when you shouted: ‘Wrap!’ Because you did it.’

Winged Warriors has shown in various film festivals around the world, such as GI Film Festival in Washington, Veteran Film Festival Australia, Canada Film Festival where it received a Rising Star Award, Manchester Film Festival where it received an honourable mention. and so on. In order to find the right festivals for her film, Barry used the strategies and expertise of Katie McCullough and Festival Formula. Festival Formula is an organization, which provides film makers with submission strategies for festivals. Barry outlines the importance of analyzing festival’s strategies for each submission year.

EB: ‘Katie said to me to not enter my film at Sundance, because it’s not their type of film. I think a lot of filmmakers just enter their film for the top festivals without possibly looking at the type of films that they accept. So you could waste a lot of money doing that,’

After completing Winged Warriors she has moved on to her latest short drama called Exposure, which explores the relationship between an ailing mother and her two adult daughters. Barry’s essential advice for filmmakers whether they are at submission stage for festivals or at script writing stage, is to keep on going and keep on learning.

EB: ‘I think there is nothing more crushing when youre starting out than being rejected. You think that you’re no good and maybe you should give up. But actually: No. You made all this effort and you want people to watch your film. So there you go.

Game Engines and MoCap Suits – The Rise of Instant Digital Visual Effects

Animation director, VFX supervisor and director/producer Mondo Ghulam talks about creating digital visual effects using game engines such as Unreal and motion capture suits. Ghulam has worked on several high end games, as well as film and television productions. He has gained over 20 years experience currently focusing on his first passion: Filmmaking.

The Use of Game Engines and Motion Capture Suits – A Common Practice?

In this day and age, on-screen storytelling is able to take advantage of a large range of technologies used to create visual effects in and video games. Two of the most striking methods adopted by filmmakers are the use of game engines and motion capture. Ghulam highlights the economical and creative progress these technologies have brought to VFX in films on nearly every budget level. In early days such as those of A.I. Artificial Intelligence (Steven Spielberg, 2001) a game engine was used in order to combine live action elements with a virtual set.

 

MG: ‘In order to give everyone an idea of what they were looking at [on the virtual set], they were tracking the camera in real time and then displayed a low detail version of the background from a game engine that was synched to the camera. It meant that they could look through a monitor and see a composite of the live action against the fully 3D CG background in its early state. So they can set composition, they can work out exactly where to place the camera and how to move it.’

Ghulam explains that game engines have become so far advanced rendering the quality undeniably high and the production costs comparatively low.

MG: ‘A project that I’m interested in doing will use a game engine because it will be long format and animated, and I don’t want to have to look for the money to render everything out. So with a game engine, you don’t need to do that, it will just play in real time. You just record it straight out of the computer, and all you might need to do is to buy some graphic cards that will power that to a high degree.’

Another technological key element in visual effects is motion capture. As one of the kickstarters of a new inertial mocap suit, Ghulam talks about how quickly body motion can be recorded with this compact piece of technology.

MG: ‘Ultimately if you can take the heat, you can wear this under a set of clothes, and it works wirelessly. So I can be sitting in this room, doing this interview whilst being recorded for my body motion in regular clothing.’

The animator outlines that although the footprint of a motion capture studio with dedicated rooms, expensive equipment and a large team of VFX artists and technicians who work hard to calibrate the environment before shooting, will create a high quality end product, the single person in a suit shows you how the level of compactness and mobility this technology has already achieved.

MG: ‘Eventually there will be no suits, it will be any room that you like, and things like Xbox Kinect are kinda already doing that. You can sit on your sofa and you can track your movement, it can tell where your hands are, it can see your face, it can even recognize your voice and distinguish you from someone else sitting there with you.’

Accessibility and Limitations- Possibilities vs. Perception

Talking about the rapid transformation of large and powerful computers running expensive software to substantially more compact gaming engines, as well as the internet as a key element for sharing and accessing information, Ghulam addresses the technical curve that has happened over the past three decades. Game engines have been around for quite a while, yet the possibility for
individuals to use them easily and economically has not.

MG: ‘In 1994 there was one magazine, that we could get hold of in Glasgow once every quarter, which had articles dedicated to little 3D projects but ultimately that was it. Now any laptop will run, for example, Unreal who have thousands of excellent videos all very well aggregated within sections, so if you’ve never even touched a game engine before, there is a whole series of very easy to watch videos that will walk you through it and get you doing things, that two hours before, you had no concept of, or any idea that you might even be able to do.’

Despite the progress there are limitations. One barrier, the animator believes, is perceptual. He argues that although high impact visuals can still take a huge bite out of the filming budget due to the high cost or complexity, making minor corrections and replacements for example, is possible to do for anyone on a much more economical level.

MG: ‘I’m gonna make a bold claim here, but you could subscribe to Adobe cloud, download Adobe After Effects, spend a couple of days looking at tutorials, learn how to track, put it an element in and get your shot. Now these are pretty common tools now, that had once been the preserve of a very few people in the past.’

Another set of limitations can be found in facial capture. Whereas motion capture suits are far advanced in their ability to instantly transfer an actor’s movements to a highly accurate level, capturing facial movements and expressions is a different story. Ghulam addresses the fact that although your face can be recorded, there are still overarching problems with deadness and inability to capture not only the physicality, but also the psychology of human facial expressions. At the moment, he adds, it is still the prerogative of the high end productions to animate emotions to a believable extent.

MG: ‘When we are talking about Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Matt Reeves, 2014) and Avatar (James Cameron, 2009), there is a percentile at the end of it the quality scale that just pushes pushed it beyond anything that anyone else was doing at that particular time. And that takes lots of talented people, there is no automated way to get to where any of those films ended up. It takes a lot of really good artistry […] You look into the eyes of those characters and they are real.’

Creating a Virtual Skin- Futurism or Future?

Looking at the processes that have shaped virtual realities and storytelling in the last decades, many of the things we associate with futurism are already possible in the here and now. Ghulam uses Xbox 360 and Xbox Kinect as prime examples for the level of accessibility motion capture has moved into, given the fact that those devices can capture 3D performances and data in the comfort of a living room at very low cost. The animator believes that although, at that low-budget level, the quality of the characters are somewhat inaccurate and the resolution is low, in the near future, actors will be able to scan their bodies and save their digital selves, then 20 years later, when a role requires a younger version of them, they rehearse the part, put on their motion capture suit and virtually perform in their younger skin.

MG: ‘There is no reason why this couldn’t be done now in fact. What we lack is the library of all these great actors, that are alive today. We don’t have their 360 degree images from 30 or 40 years ago’

Ghulam explains that technology which can record the facial performance of an actor and translate it into a virtual character that doesn’t need prior calibration already exists. Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) developed a particular program that studies the face of the actor who presents himself to the camera:

This form of capture has also manifested itself in the idea of face-exchange.

MG: ‘There was a research paper earlier this year, it’s a different kind of technology, but they can record your face, then they can record my face, and then I can puppeteer your face with my face.’

The animator highlights the many facets of the use of such highly developed technology and states that futuristic elements conveyed in early sci-fi films such as identity theft and stealing a persons face have potentially become very real. Whilst recognizing rapidly improving technology as vitally important to filmmakers, Ghulam is very clear about the fact that without dedicated people there would be no progress. He highlights the essence of having skilled and motivated artists, whether they are on the creative or on the technical side of things, on a VFX or VR project.

MG: ‘A very common question I would get asked has come from actors: ‘This stuff is gonna replace all of us, isn’t it?’ and I would say: ‘You’re in the middle of the floor, there are a hundred cameras around you and 40-odd people behind the scenes. All that technology and all that effort is about capturing something that only you can do. Which part of this tells you that you’re being replaced?”

Ghulam strongly outlines the convergence of storytellers, technicians and actors on visual effects productions and the importance of individual input. He stresses the fact that with the popularity of video tutorials digital artists have the opportunity to gain and improve their skills on a rapid speed, valuable knowledge is shared instantly and evolving communities of artists are trying new technologies and push their development to new levels. He uses the realtime cinematography example of Hellblade (Epic Games, 2016), a video game where a large number of digital artists capture a character in real time into the Unreal Engine by leveraging the unique qualities of the actress.

MG: ‘I’m not trying to paint a utopia here. Obviously there are competitive  aspects to this, but there has always been a lot of people (in the cg community) willing to share it and it’s these people who are making it possible. It’s also someone that will step on the set and say: ‘I can do that.’ Although their minds might be screaming that it is impossible […] but there is nothing quite like seeing it all work in the end. You’re creating things, or helping to create things, that could not be created anywhere else in that way’

Making the Magic Happen- What’s Next?

Mondo Ghulam is currently working on several short film projects as writer, director and VFX artist, and is planning on moving into feature film production very soon.

www.mondoghulam.com

Weekly Recap

Hey everyone!

It’s been a heck of week. We announced last Monday our rebrand as the International Moving Image Society and boy has the response been exactly what we hoped for. We’ve received many emails, messages, and comments about the positive change and our way forward. Thank you so much for validating all of our hard work.

Just as a reminder: We have a FREE event in London on Tuesday, 22nd November on Immersive Audio for the future of the industry. Special guests from the research team at the BBC will be presenting and giving a demonstration. We’re excited to learn more about it and we think you will too!

We are still getting our line-up of events for the rest of the year together and will have that for you shortly.

In the meantime, have a look at our wonderful articles, videos, podcasts being developed on the Blog.

Stay fresh and keep learning.

FAQ: On the Future of the Society

On the announcement of our rebrand, we’ve been receiving lots of questions. We’ve assembled this FAQ to help.  More to come in another post.

 

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is happening to the BKSTS?

The BKSTS is now trading as the International Moving Image Society to better ourselves with the evolving industry and its growth.

How can I, as an existing member, log into the new website?

Thank you for your patience.  Transitioning from our older website is not an easy process.  We will be sending out instructions on how to join the new website.

What does the International Moving Image Society do?

We are a professional learned Society that aims to inspire, educate, train, and connect all members of the media industry, whether at entry or professional level, around the world.

What is the scope of the International Moving Image Society?

Our mission includes but is not limited to films, television, commercials, music videos, short films, animation, gaming, and future formats for consumption.

Who should become a member?

Join us if:

You are just beginning you’re beginning your career in the industry.

You are a freelancer in the media industry.

You want to improve your skills.

You want to experience and learn about emerging trends.

You want to learn about other areas of the industry.

You want to socialise with similar members.

You are interested in events encompassing the entire spectrum.

You want to enter and develop a rewarding career in the industry.

You want to set and maintain the highest production values.

You want to pass on your experience, wisdom, and insight upon the next generation.

How can I become a member?

Right now we are offering free Associate Membership that runs through the remainder of 2016. In the coming year we are announcing a new series of membership grades that have been adapted towards the changing environment and for anyone to be able to join, whether you’re a seasoned professional or just getting started.

Can I still use the designatory letters MBKS or FBKS after my name?

Yes.  In order to maintain our legacy we still want you to use these letters.

How can I help?

We have several committees that encompass all areas of the industry, no matter the format, no matter the craft skills area.  You can join one of these or offer to start one for us!

You may have noticed that we are writing articles, making podcasts, streaming events, recording and editing videos, and producing resources for the industry.  Email us if you’d like to get involved in this.

If you’re experienced or retired and wish to help the next generation, we would gladly welcome your contribution.  Again, contact us to see how this is possible.

What is happening to the Course Accreditation?

The Society is still accrediting courses and looking to expand the programme to universities and short courses that have a strong interest in developing qualified and competent members of the industry.

The Runner Diaries: What is a Production Runner?

 

The Runner Diaries: What is a Production Runner? from IMIS on Vimeo.

Charlotte Taylor is a freelance runner working in production and on the floor. She is studying film production at the University of Greenwich. Prior to freelancing she worked as an office runner for a well-known comedy production company.

The Production Runner works in the production team to provide administrative support the Production Manager and Production Coordinator.

Key Duties:

  • Picking up and dropping off equipment, props etc.
  • Creating and printing sides
  • Printing callsheets and movement orders
  • Filing purchase orders
  • Shredding confidential waste
  • Sorting out post
  • Handling petty cash
  • Updating unit list and facilities list

Making tea and coffee

TOP TIPS for succeeding:

  1. Be proactive and positive2
  2. Work hard
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
  4. Listen

To get work as a production runner check out these talent websites/agencies:

Talent Manager – https://www.thetalentmanager.co.uk/

The Unit List – http://www.theunitlist.com/

Calltime – http://www.calltimecompany.com/ 

The BKSTS Relaunches as the International Moving Image Society

London, UK, 7 November 2016

The British Kinematograph Sound and Television Society (BKSTS) is celebrating its 85th anniversary by rebranding and relaunching itself as the International Moving Image Society (IMIS).  The Society has seen the evolving nature of the industry and has decided this new brand is better aligned to address current changes in the industry as well as future developments.

The Society is not only looking towards encompassing traditional formats like feature films, television, short films, commercials, and music promos but also non-traditional formats such as virtual reality, interactive mediums, gaming, mobile video, web series and more.

In addition, the Society has laid out it’s aims to inspire, train, educate, and connect all members of the industry, whether at entry or professional level, around the world.  The Society plans on accomplishing this through its new website www.societyinmotion.com where it will develop original content for every phase of development from conception, through production, and all the way through exhibition and archiving.  Further, the Society plans to offer new seminars and events open to members and the public, training courses, opportunities for online and in-person networking, and expand its accreditation programme.  The Society aims on building a strong alliance with other societies, guilds and associations, both in the UK and around the world, in order to fulfil its mission.

The Society is best known for its series of monthly lectures covering all aspects of the industry ranging from technical to creative.  The Society has also had a rich history of providing wall charts that illustrate best-management practices for areas of the industry as well as technical resources.  The Society is a partner to Cinema Technology Magazine with members who regularly contribute to the publication.

 

About the BKSTS

The BKSTS is a non-profit member-based organisation that was formed in the late 1920s as the ‘London Branch’ of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers (now known as SMPTE) until 1930 when it split to form its own organisation.  In 1931 the Society began by accrediting the London Polytechnic (now the University of Westminster) in 1932.  It has grown and evolved over time to meet the changes of the industry such as the shift from employment to freelancing as well as film to digital.  It is in this respect that the Society has decided to evolve itself again into the International Moving Image Society.  The Society has members in over 20 countries and plans to expand its base to many more.

The Runner Diaries: What is an Office Runner?

Reece Gibbons is an office runner at Hungry Man Productions; a commercial production company. He graduated from the University of Greenwich in 2015.Prior to working as an office runner he worked as a freelance runner in the industry.

The Office Runner is a full time in house position. Most production companies employ an office runner to support in administrative office duties.

Key Duties:

  • Greeting guests
  • Taking calls
  • Handling petty cash
  • Keeping kitchen stocked on tea, coffee, sugar & milk
  • Scanning, photocopying, printing, shredding & filing
  • Setting up conference calls
  • Booking taxis and couriers
  • Assisting on productions
  • Filling out post production paperwork

Check out the APA Website Jobs Board: http://www.a-p-a.net/jobs for work incommercial production companies!