Archive for the ‘CMP 14_16’ Category

Playlist of VFX & SFX tutorials


SFX vs. VFX: Two Effects Artists Discuss the Differences Between Practical & CGI


Watch How the Masters Used to Create VFX for Movies in These ILM Videos


The Power of Compositing: 4 Must-Watch After Effects Tutorials


Surface Skin


How to Avoid Common Green Screen Mistakes


The Best Film Visual Effects Through the Years


Effects of days past: making Superman fly


Task 1: In class –

Find a VFX tutorial online and replicate it. For example –

Simple VFX Tests:

  • Get hit by a car
  • Landing like Hancock
  • Green screen in a location (including shadow!)
  • Crawling out of a TV (The Ring)
  • Lightsabers

Follow the instructions to produce your own version individually or in a small group.

Task 2: At Home –

Define the difference between Special Effects and Visual Effects.

Research into the use of VFX and SFX in a range of a/v media products.

For example:

TV Shows –

Dr Who (TARDIS dematerialisation effect, Dalek guns, explosions, spacecraft flying, prosthetic makeup)

Grandpa in my pocket (shrinking down to a small size)

Game of Thrones (Use of Miniatures, green screen etc)

Films –

Lord of the Rings – How to make a 6ft actor look like a dwarf, walking trees, explosions, etc.

James Bond – Explosions, scale models etc

Adverts –

BMW x5 commercial

Music Videos –

Bad Blood (Taylor Swift) (Explosions, models, makeup)

You will find your own 6 examples of SFX and 6 examples of VFX within a range of media products – ie 1 film, 1 TV show, 1 advert, 1 music video etc.

Analyse the effect (VFC / SFX, how it was done) – hint – it may be easier to find a VFX breakdown on the sequence…

Guide to timings for Production schedule:


9, 02/11 Vfx vs SFX:

Selecting an Experiment

10, 09/11 Explore VFX
11, 16/11

Cardiff Trip Tuesday.

Explore SFX
12, 23/11 Further Testing of VFX & SFX
13, 30/11 Submit case studies and test shoots
14, 07/12 Pitch Ideas for Film
15, 14/12  
Christmas, 21/12  
Christmas, 28/12  
16, 04/01 Pre Production
17, 11/01 Pre Production, including VFX & SFX
18, 18/01 Pre Production, including VFX & SFX – Test Shoots
19, 25/01 Pre Production – Test Shoots
20, 01/02 Complete Pre production, Go into Production
21, 08/02 Rehearsals / Filming
Half Term, 15/02  
22, 22/02 Rehearsals / Filming
23, 29/02 Filming / Post
24, 07/03 Filming / Post
25, 14/03 Edit Lockdown, Start Sound recording
26, 21/03 *f Submit Sound Analysis


Easter 04/04  
27, 11/04 Sound Production
28, 18/04 Planning for Own Production
29, 25/04 Recording
30, 02/05 *m Mixing
31, 09/05 Mixing, conduct focus group
32, 16/05 Submit Sound mix
33, 23/05 Submit all final work


Script to Screen Project: Part 1

Posted: November 5, 2015 by Alan Hardcastle in CMP 14_16, Creative Media Production
Tags: , ,

In this project you will devise a sequence featuring Visual and special effects, script it, shoot it and design the sound.

You could recover Film and / or TV with this – as long as it meets the stipulations:

  • The final sequence must be up to 5 minutes long
  • You will have devised, tested and implemented a Visual Effects Sequence
  • You will have devised, tested and Implemented a Special Effects Sequence
  • You will have undertaken Pre Production ( for the effects and for the sequence)
  • You will have Directed & Shot the effects sequences
  • You will have edited the effects sequences
  • You will have devised the sound design for the effects sequence (and contributed to the overall sequence)

As we progress through the project, you will set further tasks to do dependent on your chosen direction of study.

You will need to construct a personal plan to show what you are doing and how it fits in with the units you are covering.

So, for example…


Task Unit Criteria Submission Date
Research Simple VFX Tests:

·      Get hit by a car (Road Safety Advert)

·      Landing like Hancock / Man of Steel

·      Green screen in a location (including shadow!)

·      Crawling out of a TV (The Ring)

·      Lightsabers (Star Wars)

Look at how they were used in the film / TV show

Use at a tutorial to recreate it

Produce a VFX Breakdown to show how you did it

Unit 44, outcome 1







Unit 44, outcome 2









Look at professional SFX / VFX breakdowns: for example –

·      Superman

·      American Werewolf in London

·      Scanners

·      Star Wars (1-7)

·      Lord of the Rings / Hobbit

·      Jurassic Park

·      Avatar

·      Etc…

Unit 44, outcome 1

Unit 45, Outcome 1



Simple SFX Tests:

·      Zombie makeup (Walking Dead Etc)

·      Broken Arm

·      Black eyes & Scars

·      Flying Helicopter

·      Miniature person in a giant world (The Borrowers)

Look at how they were used in the film / TV show

Use at a tutorial to recreate it / use Media Make up professional

Produce a SFX Breakdown to show how you did it

Unit 45, outcome 1







Unit 45, outcome 2 & 3













So, today we are going to be looking at gathering specific information to support a hypothesis.

In English – getting our focus group to say things we can use to say what classification we want for the film.

Last week we talked about the focus group, and using it to see what they thought about the film. This week we are going to devise questions to specifically get information about the classification of the film.

BBFC govern classification, and a specific PDF is available that has all the information you need in it.

IN class, you will analyze each of the classification. What are the key things that would be in a film of that classification? What wouldn’t be in it? Make a mind map for the one you have. You will then present this to the class, so everyone has a model to refer too.

AFter this, you need to be with your group and think about your film. You need to develop a list of questions that reference the BBFC guidelines, so you can use the responses as evidence. So, as an extreme example –

Ask your Focus Group if they would agree or disagree with the statement “There is no nudity in the film”. Obviously, you may have untold violence but have kept any nudity at bay, so they all agree. This gives you the opportunity to say:

“I believe my horror film should be a U because audience agreed  there is no nudity in the film.”

Obviously, your classification depends on meeting all the criteria, so you need to address all the points for that classification!

So: develop a list of questions that references U, PG, 12, 12A, 15 and 18 classification criteria ready for Friday’s screening.

Planning for the Focus Group

Posted: March 11, 2015 by Alan Hardcastle in CMP 14_16, Creative Media Production

Check in your Brief: Outcome 4 says…

Be able to propose
certification for the original
short film or sequence of
a film produced based on
feedback gained from a focus

You need to host a focus group for your film, and use the information you get form it to inform your classification.

So, what is a focus group?

This may be a funny example, but holds some clear truths. A focus group is a small sample of the target audience, who are questioned about their thoughts on the product. This information is used to influence changes to the product.

How are they conducted?

We need to develop a plan of action. You need to decide what you want to find out. What is the purpose of the focus group? Primarily, your answer will always be “to find out what the audience thinks about the product”. This gives us some ideas about how we are going to question the audience.

Then we need to decide how you we are going to capture it. If we write things down, people will be lazy and not write too much. It is also hard to dig deeper. If we talk to them, we may well find they are a bit like the above example. We need to direct them a bit – politely but firmly! So, some examples…

They could be used to change formats –

Charlie Brooker talks to Americans

They could be used to check demographic psycho-graphics…

Charlie Brooker talks about Youth TV

Both of these are filmed, audio and visual captured. This means we can analyze this later, but we have captured some deeper elements. It also gives us time to write things down, consider them and act on them at our leisure.

So, we want to know what people think of our film, see what they think about the classification and be able to justify it in a letter to the BBFC. So, over to you to.

How are you going to collect information at the screening that can be used to justify a classification? What questions do you need to ask? How will you record it?




UK TV Film Tasks

Posted: February 4, 2015 by Alan Hardcastle in CMP 14_16, Creative Media Production


The following is needed, and can be improved version of the planning pitch.

treatment – typed up in word

Script – typed up in celtx

Storyboard – eg screen shot,, Skitch etc

Set Designs – using Shot Designer

Recce – Photograph places to be used – Skitch linked to evernote

Risk Assessment – use images and Risk Assessment Pro Forma

Schedule – Times of shoot, booking equipment

Crew and actor call sheets, job roles for each person

Display – print, put in folder or put in Submission Drive.



Have photographic evidence of the safe set up of the equipment – e.g evidence of following the Risk assessment.

Link File names of video and audio files to shot list / Storyboard

Be careful of bad camera techniques – make sure camera, Mis en scene,  lighting and sound are all good quality.


Appropriate and relevant visual and audio effects

Log everything, and organize record where it is.

Produce evidence (Screen shots, photos, witness) of the off line & on line edit.

Make the technical standards as high as possible.

Put it in submissions!



Make a focus group: Develop survey; Get sample of target audience, give them questionairre

Collect Answers (Written or recorded) and evaluate it.

Classification Certificate: Identify the content suitable for the target audience, compare to audience feedback, Write a letter to the BBFC to explain the classification.


TV: Developing the idea

Posted: October 10, 2014 by Alan Hardcastle in CMP 14_16
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You have a week to develop your idea, make a visual trailer and prepare your pitch. Easy!

Where do Ideas come from? Well, there is no such thing as originality. Look around you, at existing ideas. It is always good to start from an existing idea and add a twist, and develop it. It could be changing it for an audience, or adding a genre, or simply revamping an old idea.

The BBC has a great way of developing ideas. They make it as a radio show first, then when they can prove it works, they put it on TV. BBC 2 or 3 usually, and then if it works really well, it moves to BBC1. See: Little Britain, The Day Today, Absolute Power, The Mighty Boosh and (arguably) Have I got News For You and QI, which both have their original versions still running on Radio 4.

Having a reference is vital – why make a show that the audience doesn’t want? Combine audience viewing figures with an element of originality. For example: X Factor and Pop Idol are modern versions of New Faces and other talent shows, just with a public voting system. This voting element is so popular a lot of shows try to add this in.

So, look at what has existed before, what exists now, what the Target Audience is interested in (Culturally, socially etc) and then you can look at what twist you can put on it. What does your audience relate too?

Once you have ideas, interrogate them. Pull them apart to make sure they work and are viable. Look at:

a) treatment – How you are treating the idea. It could be the script as a short story, it could be the shape of the series, the types of questions or tasks for contestants – it all depends on the kind of idea you are working on.

b) suggested cast – who would you like in it? Not necessarily who will be in it – you can name check the type of person to appear in it.

c) target audience – who is it for? The better you do this, the more likely it will appeal to other markets. For example, Dr Who was a Children’s show. It worked so well adults watched it.

d) budget, funding – How much will it cost to make? And is this realistic based on what you will get to make it? Be aware of the balance between talent, effects, locations, sets and the cheapest way to make a show – contestants.

e) production schedule with launch date and contingency plans – when are you making this? How long will it take to shoot, and what will you do if it goes wrong? If you need locations, be aware of the weather – Please note that Game of Thrones is filmed in the Autumn and then post production is winter.

f ) legal and/or ethical issues – Very contextual. Could be watershed issues, could be privacy – be aware of of the possible implications of your ideas (harm to contestants, harm to the viewers etc…)

g) scheduling time – what time it is on has a massive bearing on what you can show. See Above..!

And all this is just to nail down your idea. Once you have the idea, make the trailer (Script, storyboard, ideas for sets, titles & Fonts etc) as a way to show visually what you want to achieve.

And remember, we plan to make the pilot after half term. So, No Pressure.

PLanning for a TV show

Posted: October 1, 2014 by Alan Hardcastle in CMP 14_16
Tags: ,


Script treatment:

It is a summary of a screenplay, TV show, novel or other story, sometimes in the form of an outline. Can be anything from one to ten pages or even longer in length. Treatments can be used as a tool of development for the writer’s or used as a marketing tool.

A film treatment:

It is a piece of prose, typically the step between scene cards and the first draft of a screenplay for a motion picture, television program, or radio play.

Example of a film treatment:

Suggested Cast

The cast is chosen by picking actors and actresses that suits the character of the film by sticking to a certain criteria.

To pick a suitable actor for the role you would have to think about the information about the character such as, their backstory (if they’re middle-aged, divorced etc.) their name, their physical attributes etc.

Target Audience

In market and advertising, a target audience is a specific group of people within a target market at which a product or the marketing message of a product is aimed at.

These are some types of target audiences that TV shows will think about when making a show; age, gender, behavior, and demographic, geodemographic, psychographic, religion, Consumer behavior – IE how you use technology to watch the shops…

Example: Doctor Who

Doctor who’s is mainly aimed at families at a time when families are together watching TV.

There has been an investigation into ‘is Doctor Who really for children’ the show is intended to entertain, it is show for kids 7+ as there are some scary episodes which some children may find scary.

Budget and Funding

A budget is a way of planning how to spend whilst producing a TV show, and the funding is where the money is coming from. The budget includes things like :

  • cast/crew
  • story rights
  • production costs
  • set costs,
  • Promotion
  • Lighting
  • Cameras
  • Studio Rental
  • post production

For example to make one episode of Doctor Who it would cost the BBC £1 million. As the BBC produces it, it is mainly funded by the TV license, and any money that is made goes back into the next episode and is not for profit. Some of the funding also comes from selling merchandise, which is sold worldwide.

Operating Model

Posted: September 24, 2014 by Alan Hardcastle in CMP 14_16
Tags: , , , , , ,

The Operating Model refers to how the broadcasting company pulls money in (funding) and spends it (budget) in order to make money (by reaching their target audience).

We can look at the 3 main models in the UK – BBC, ITV and (halfway between) Ch4. Fro the moment we will avoid subscription models such as Sky (Sky sports topping ratings with about 1.5m for an event pus sky behind Ch5 in ratings, so we will stick with the main broadcasters).


Semi-autonomous, paid for by License fee. The Trust exist to ensure they spend the public money reasonably – so they publish an annual report of finances. They gather ideas through commissioning. Members of the public, producers and production companies can all pitch for a commission, showing they can meet the requirements fro the audience, budget creative and legal requirements for that channel, genre and time slot. Often there are specific target audiences, but in general BBC1 aim to appeal to a mass audience.

They have the means of production in house. They own studios, and rent them out to other companies. They often use in house production teams, and hire in freelancers.


ITV as a series of channels is  funded by advertising and owned by ITV PLC, which means there are shareholders. They commission shows based on demands of their advertisers – so they are always attempting to commission mass appeal shows.

Again, ITV PLC own studios which can be used by ITV productions and independent companies alike. Most production personnel tend to be freelance.

Advertising revenue is a complex subject. IN general, the cost of an advert depends on production costs of the advert, the time slot and the popularity of the show. Premium shows such as Coronation Street will cost £1k’s, whereas shows in the middle of the night may cost £10’s


Ch4 exist as a commissioning body, supporting UK productions and independent production houses. Pubic cannot pitch an idea directly, they must be associated with a production company beforehand. Ch4 is funded by advertising revenue, but unlike ITV1 or BBC1 has a remit to appeal to a minority audience.

Funding and Budget

So, in general  – the funding is where the money comes from – adverting, TV License, commissions etc – and the budget is where it goes – Studio hire, freelancers, sets, rights, logistics, artists…etc. Look at the commissions and get an idea of how much in general is set to one side to make a show.

Get a draft going for next week that explores and explains these elements and links into what we looked at last week.