The Giant of Illinois

As an introduction into second year, over the past couple of weeks we were given a title, and told to produce a video, or a short film, from this. The title that we got given was ‘The Giant of Illinois’, which turned out to be an American folk song. This was purposefully chosen for us as no one would have recognised it, as our Tutor didn’t believe anyone listened to that genre (she was correct). The only other instructions we were given was to add the title at the beginning and ‘the end’ at the end.
The Giant of Illinois Ideas
Our group went away and we decided very quickly to look at nature and animals going about their day-to-day business. The original plan was to film ants or bugs, but we found it increasingly difficult to find these, and settled with birds and squirrels, and other animals that were around at this time of year. (Left: a small mind map of ideas.)

We also decided to stick with the song ‘The Giant of Illinois’ by Andrew Bird, as our backing track, as we believed the video clips we were taking and the soft melody interacted with each other very well. It wasn’t until just before editing, did I look at the lyrics. It was then a juxtaposition between calming, natural scenes, and the lyrics about pain, and falling into a woman’s arms.
Individually, we went off and filmed different animals ‘doing their day-to-day business’. This included squirrels bouncing across the grass, ducks, geese and swans in the lake, and even rats cleaning themselves under the shelter of a fallen tree.

Above: Short clips that we filmed as a group around Reading, focusing on animals and birds.
We came together as a group in order to edit the video clips together into the full film. We were initially concerned that we had too many lips to choose from, but this concern quickly diminished when we began to crop clips and fade them together. The song also caused us concern as it is a total of almost 5 minutes long. We tried to crop the song in several places, but found that this caused missed beats and stuttered lyrics, and therefore deciding that we should instead use the whole song. We also decided to use the song instead of any other backing tracks or sounds as we felt this was the best representation, or the best juxtaposition with the video clips.
Throughout the editing stage, each person played a part and agreed on several elements including transitions, which clips would go next, and where they should be cut. Many of the clips naturally fitted in with the song, especially the percussion and beat. This included flying, landing and moving the camera in time to the rise and fall of the song. While filming, this was unintentional. We tried all of the video transitions on Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2017. Additive dissolve was a very garish effect, cross dissolve sometimes showed the video stop into an image, dip to black and dip to white were not effects that suited the video. Then morph cut added strange test for milliseconds into the video and non-additive dissolve gave an opposite garishness to the additive dissolve transition. The most appropriate dissolve transition we found was film dissolve, giving us the chance to transfer between the different animals without the difficulty that each of the other effects gave us.
Working with clips that were both portrait and landscape did get a little bit annoying, and all of these were different qualities. This is a problem that we managed to overcome, however I feel that if they were all orientated the same way, it would have a more professional finish.
I feel as though the final video could have been more polished, starting with the orientation and the quality of the clips. Unfortunately, we all had different cameras on our phones, which affected the overall quality that we could safely render our video at. I also feel that some of the transitions were hastily placed, and could have been polished up a bit more. Overall, I enjoyed working with this group on our film.

Above: The final video uploaded onto YouTube

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