[ Hip Hop Is Alive ] documentary work-in-progress at DVinfo.net

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Old August 27th, 2006, 04:14 PM   #1
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[ Hip Hop Is Alive ] documentary work-in-progress

Synopsis:
A documentary work-in-progress following Dres tha Beatnik, an independent hip hop Artist/MC from Atlanta, Georiga and 2000 World Amateur Beatbox Champion. The documentary takes the viewer through what inspires musicians and the juxtapositions between the music, hip hop culture, and what is happening in our society today.

Please goto http://www.hiphopisalive.com for more information and to view the video.

I welcome any comments and criticism!

Thanks,
Michael
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Old August 28th, 2006, 04:41 PM   #2
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It is hard to tell with the google video compression but the sound on the interview seems roomy and rough, also it appears as if he was addressing the camera directly which I personally feel is the wrong approach. If you can interview your main subjects in a more controlled environment with better lighting and good sound, it will be much much better.



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Old August 28th, 2006, 06:19 PM   #3
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I have to disagree with you Ash, no offense, but Michael I think you did a great job! I think if Michael were documenting a classical artist or similar then I would agree with the roughness and roominess as well as the artist playing to the camera and the lighting. Just to name a few, check out documetaries such as Rhyme & Reason or Beef I,II or III and you'll see just how rough those docs really are. Hip-hop in it's truest form is not meant to be all pretty and pristine. Hi-hop is from the streets and the streets are gritty and grimmy. I actually think the way this documetary is shot compliments all the nuances from which Dres tha Beatnik is coming from. Hip-hop is Alive!!!!! Keep up the good work kid.

Peace,
Reg
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Old August 28th, 2006, 08:05 PM   #4
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my .02

First, I would like to say, thanks for any 2 cents you may have, I do appreciate them all and think about them. Now, in response to the two previous posts, with respects to the documetary genre, there are certain techniques and film conventions that have become associated with the documentary style. One of them is the interview process, and by having an interviewer, it gives the film a more authentic feel to what documentaries are all about. I personally feel that it is necessary to show the interviewing interactions between a person asking questions and someone answering them, but, with respects to Hip Hop Is Alive film and the topic, and my intentions with the direction, I want to break the fourth wall, so that the audience feels a part of the event the protagonist is explaining, which brings me to another convention associated with documentaries. Some people have argued that there should not be the use of a montage in a documentary, because montages disrupt the notion of time and space, and documentaries are sought to let events occur on the screen as we are taken through some sort of journey. But there have been others like Bazin that have argued that though montages do disrupt the notion of time and space, if you are trying to explain an event, sometimes it can be best to use techniques like montages. This film is in its early stages, and I personally think it is hard to see, because there isn't enough repetition with the technique to see it there, but I will pull out of this montage and let events occur on screen.
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Old August 28th, 2006, 10:01 PM   #5
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err

Some people, like Bazin, have argued that there should not be the use of a montage in a documentary, because montages disrupt the notion of time and space .....

sorry, i type faster than I think sometimes

-peace
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Old August 28th, 2006, 11:13 PM   #6
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I don't mind the rough sound quality in the interviews, or Dres looking into the camera, as both are fairly authentic to the piece (although I do think you should clean some noise from it).

I don't particularly like all the zooming in and out during the concert footage. You need to get a second camera there, which will not only save you in post, if you wanted to remove a zoom (or the part where it's zoomed in on his arm for far too long), but cutting back and forth between two cameras will liven it up, which is probably the reasoning behind the zooming, but is only distracting. I'm sure you couldn't get a second camera, but you must find a way. While the argument about less than pristine quality is 'keeping it real', it can not be an excuse to justify poor camera work, most of which could be avoided by having the second camera.

The piece did build very well. However, there's one part (around 7:30 in) where you cut to Dres in the interview and have the concert scene slightly visible over him. While the sound part of that really works, I don't think the visual overlay does. It just draws attention to itself and away from the effective interweaving of the two scenes.

I'd like to know more about the context of where Dres fits within the larger hip-hop culture, his background, his influences, what his fellow artists think of him, what his fans like....not sure how extensive you're going with this, but those would be the things I'd be interested in.
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Old August 28th, 2006, 11:35 PM   #7
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thanks jeff for your input! I agree with everything you have stated.

I've lived in rockland...
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Old August 29th, 2006, 09:42 PM   #8
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Just because you dont have a sound guy or use camera audio doesnt mean it cant sound decent. At the very least, it will effect your potential for distribution. I am well versed in the one man band doc, I have done one myself.

http://www.ifilm.com/ifilmdetail/2681277

I had no sound guy, no lights, nada... just me and a camera with stock mic. Just be careful that you dont use your style choice as a crutch for mediocre production. In situations where you have more control, you might want to spend some time lighting, getting good sound, better concert coverage, etc. There is a middle ground between too slick and no production at all.

Finally, as to the direct to the camera approach, if you go that way I would definitely frame the subject more towards the middle. Best of luck and keep us posted.



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Old August 30th, 2006, 07:43 AM   #9
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if i were to frame the guy in the middle of screen, the montage wouldnt work imho
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Old August 30th, 2006, 01:28 PM   #10
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I dont understand how center framing would effect the montages at all. After watching it again, I would also recommend going in a lot tighter on him. It will clarify the eyelines and help the viewer connect with him better.


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Old August 30th, 2006, 10:59 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ash Greyson
I dont understand how center framing would effect the montages at all.
hmmm... this could be a good discussion... so far, there's the performance and the interview, and through the montage, I am making a point of connecting the two, showing how Dres' performance reflect upon Dres as a person, but at the same time, I want to show that there is a contrast between Dres the performer or any other performer, and the person with ideas, opinions, and how he came about these things through his own life. And to show the contrast visually in conjunction with the cross fading, I decided to go with framing Dres to the left when he was performing and Dres to the right during the interview.
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Old August 31st, 2006, 12:41 AM   #12
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While I like the creativity of the framing technique idea, I think the benefits of framing Dres tighter in the interview parts, as Ash pointed out (better eyeline, easier connection to viewer), outweigh the artistic benefit of the left side/right side framing technique, and don't think it will effect the montages in a noticeable way. Although, the tighter you frame him the more jarring it will be if he looks directly into the camera, so you would probably end up altering his eyeline to the more traditional looking-just-off-camera interview style. Even more important, though, is to make sure you have that camera locked down so it isn't jostling around. It's distracting, breaks the illusion, and is the worse offense of the two, IMO.

If you have no choice but to go it alone at the concert, make sure you commit to a time you won't be using footage of him, and get a TON of other coverage for cutaways to save yourself in post. So you can remove the zooms, the arm...

While the rough production values do feel authentic, there's plenty of room to increase the quality without losing the intimate feel. Mostly by not drawing attention to the camera work. The ear seems to block out background noise (to a point--still needs cleaning), so the objective becomes making the transitions flow smoothly and the camera work transparent.

There's a couple transitions from interview to concert that could benefit from overlapping audio. Try fading in the crowd sounds before the interview part ends. Then fade it out smoothly after you're back in the interview. Like you did with the beatbox interweave, but with crowd sounds. You might be able to just leave the crowd behind some of the shorter interview sections. I don't remember if you did this, but there's at least a couple parts that could use some more finessing.

Granted, some of this stuff can't be fixed this time, but can be applied for next time.
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Old August 31st, 2006, 11:19 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Cottrone
While I like the creativity of the framing technique idea, I think the benefits of framing Dres tighter in the interview parts, as Ash pointed out (better eyeline, easier connection to viewer), outweigh the artistic benefit of the left side/right side framing technique, and don't think it will effect the montages in a noticeable way.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ash Greyson
I dont understand how center framing would effect the montages at all. After watching it again, I would also recommend going in a lot tighter on him. It will clarify the eyelines and help the viewer connect with him better.
i agree that going to an extreme close-up will clarify his eyeline. But I don't see why you are comparing Dres' eyeline with the physical framing of Dres, nor do I think Ash was making a comparison. And correct me if I am wrong, but there is a reason why the screen's width is greater than its height- horizontal vs vertical peripheral vision and general eye movement, so it is not just an artistic benefit....
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Old August 31st, 2006, 04:52 PM   #14
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Hey, Michael, sorry if I wasn't clear. What I meant by comparing the eyeline to the framing was that the closer and tighter you frame him (in the interviews) the more prominent the eyes and the eyeline becomes. So if you choose to "break the fourth wall" and have him talk directly into the camera, framing him closer will amplify the effect, maybe to the point of being off-putting (which defeats your intent of connecting with the viewer), since the traditional style of looking just off camera is what most viewers are used to. But, who knows, maybe you'll like it more.

What I meant by artistic benefit was that the right side/left side framing idea was creative and unique, as opposed to the traditional, center, tighter framing most viewers are used to. So you'd be giving up the artistry of your idea. But I think it's worth it b/c you'll gain a greater ease of connectivity with the viewer through traditional framing, which remains traditional b/c it is effective.

It's just a matter of choices based on your preferences. Then you hope your preferences resonate with other people, or as Yoda would say: paying jobs, for you, there may not be. And if that happens, the million dollar question becomes: how long will it take before your preferences start to look eerily like traditional techniques. Which isn't bad. They're traditional b/c they're effective. IMO, the best thing you can hope for is to get paid to do what you love, and find a way to bring some originality to it while not pushing the bounds so hard that you lose the paying part of the equation. Le balancing act of ze artiste en ze modern culture.
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Old August 31st, 2006, 06:06 PM   #15
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lol, well put
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