Al Zaytouna Dance Theatre Promotional Video

Unto the Breach - Al Zaytouna Dance Theatre
Al Zaytouna Dance Theatre is a London based, traditional Palestinian, and voluntary dance group. Myself and Yasmin work with the Performance Director, and were asked if we could produce a short, internet based promotional video. This was a great opportunity to do something a little different, and with a clients needs in mind. Above is the final product, that will shortly be posted around the groups website, Facebook page, and used elsewhere for promotional purposes.

Youtube Link:

Myself and Yasmin were lucky enough to film in Portcullis House, where the group performed at a Pro-Palestine Labor Party event. We filmed using three Canon 7D cameras. The second shoot was at The Imperial College Union, where the Universities Palestinian community gathered to celebrate their traditions, and discuss their countries ongoing problems with Israel. This was shot on two 7D’s, along with Bryan shooting on a Canon 5D Mark II, and Rob using a H4N Zoom for sound. Post-Production was undertaken by Yasmin, using Avid Media Composer 7.

This was a fun shoot, and I actually learned something during it. I came away with a lot more experience in shooting with DSLR Cameras, a greater knowledge of Palestines national issues, and something about their culture and traditions. And on top of that, I am particularly happy with the final product.


Second Year Review

This second year for me has been one of great advancement. As someone who wants to work in post-production, I have enjoyed developing new skills with Avid Media Composer, getting an insight into Pro Tools, and DaVinci Resolve, and have finally got my first piece of work experience coming up with Envy in Soho.

I have also enjoyed working on a number of outside (3rd year projects, MDX Now) productions, further advancing my experience in Vision Control. While I would like to experience Vision Mixing again, as well as Jib/Ped, I think it’s good to gain as much experience as possible in a role that you enjoy doing. While Vision Control isn’t the most exciting role available, I do enjoy it, and certainly wouldn’t say I’m not capable of it. I will continue to volunteer for this role for some productions, as I wish to understand the vision control interface fully, learning how to manually white balance, and manipulate colours to where needed.

Though I have only crewed a few 2nd year Studio productions this year, they have most definitely been interesting. Dare to Flair was a great lesson in how time restraint and rehearsals are key to keeping a production together. Not our best production by far, but a valuable one in terms of understanding how different show formats demand far greater time and resources.

My only concern with regards to this second year, and making into the third, would be the written essays. While I made every effort to stay on top of it, I found myself questioning my choice of films, and research topic. While I am relatively happy with the deconstruction, which I changed to Saving Private Ryan and Flags of our Fathers, I feel my research essay was lacking in a specific direction. Unable to get the primary resource I was hoping for, I decided to change my proposal at the last hurdle due to the fact I had found a willing industry professional working as a sound mixer. While this area of post interests me greatly, not enough thought had been put into the direction in which the research essay would take. All one can do is hope that I am worried purely as a result of essay related stress. My dissertation will receive nowhere near the same treatment, work will begin from the moment the brief hits the table.

My only other regret would be, not developing and producing some independent productions, something I hope to achieve next year. With four months of summer ahead, I plan on gaining as much work experience as possible, and developing a few short film ideas to produce as of the first semester of next year.


Dynamic Camera Exercise - The long Take



Although the idea for this short film seemed brilliant at the time, the lack of time spent developing it left it lacking a lot. Although I am happy with the camera work, and most other areas, it lacks narrative. Unfortunately due to my mind being pre-occupied with essays, and documentary edits, this project saw itself sitting at the back of the priority list.

The dynamic long take, I feel, was successful. However given the flow of it, using a DSLR could have been a bad call. The movement and shake is highly noticeable. Having a heavier, sturdier camera may have resulted in a better outcome. Also, using the DSLR’s is becoming an issue within the editing process, due to the university set-up, all footage has to be transcoded to be stored on the ISIS, which is affecting the end quality. While the XDCam can be a hassle to carry around, the fact that the codec works natively with Avid, meaning it only has to be consolidated, means any loss of quality is unnoticeable.

I would like to incorporate long takes into future projects, it was a challenge, and involved thinking about every aspect. While every single room within the take was lit using red heads, dedo lights, pamper snaps, we had to consider the choreography of the camera, and character movement to avoid them being noticed. This was a fun task, which involved a lot more planning than I am usually used to on a shoot.


Dancewalking Documentary - Editor

For this documentary I voluntarily took on the role of Editor, in order to unburden a fellow classmate of their growing workload. This for me was a particularly fun, interesting, stressful, and very educational edit. Unfortunately upon completion of the final edit, I neglected to export a copy until the Director had got the thumbs up from their course leader, in the form of constructive feedback. Needless to say, when I returned to the edit bins, they had become corrupt, including the previous back save I had created externally. Thus causing me to lose the 20 editing hours I had spent on it already.

Luckily all the other bins that had the footage and sound in them were unaffected. Because I had spent so long editing, the basic structure of the edit was still relatively fresh in my mind. So I began again. This time creating multiple back up edit bins, and backing up the save regularly to an external device (hard drive), I reconstructed the interview sequences from scratch, until the director and producer arrived.

One very good thing to come out of this edit, and having to do it twice, was that I was able to become quite efficient at using the techniques, and keyboard shortcuts that Catalin had taught us in previous sessions. While the final edit was slightly different to the original, the director was luckily happier with the second edit. While I will never know how my edits became corrupt, I will take from this a valuable lesson with which I should have already been fully aware, and also the ability to edit a lot quicker on a software I have little experience with.


Audio Editing Workflow

Audio Edit Workflow
Once an edit has reached the ‘picture lock’ stage, work on the sound post-production can commence. The reason behind this process, especially in big budget formats like films, is that a film may go through multiple picture edits before it reaches the desired outcome. To edit and mix the sound during an edit, would involve going back and forth with the re-edits, which would cost valuable money and time.

Dialogue editors, and ADR (automated dialogue replacement) is the process of taking any dialogue recorded on set and making sure it is usable. As the background sound on set can change dramatically, audio needs to be cleaned up to the best of the sound editors ability. If this is not at all possible, ADR will be used to rectify this. This is the process of re-recording the dialogue, in a sound studio, with the actor whose dialogue needs replacing. Dialogue editors would then have to sync these re-recorded lines to the image on screen.
Pro Tools HD
Effects editing will also take place separately from dialogue, using sounds from libraries, or creating sounds from scratch to best support the intended impact on screen. Aside from these two roles, there will also be an ambience edit, in which the background sounds of a film will be edited together and mixed to flow with the film. A music editor with the supervision/assistance of the composer and/or director will edit the music to the images.

Once all of these edits have been completed, they will then be pre-mixed, which is the process of matching and mixing the sounds together. Once the pre-mixes are complete, a dubbing/re-recording mixer will then mix all the premixes together. This is the process that is sometimes seen as confusing compared to sound editing. While a sound editor picks and places the sounds on the timeline of an edit, it is the dubbing mixers job to mix all of these sounds together for the dramatic intent of the final edit. Using a Mixing Console/DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) they will mix and level the sounds in real time. For instance, if a character is stood next to an airport, and the sound of a plane is part of the sound edit, the mixer will decide how to mix that into the soundtrack, how loud it needs to be, whether or not the sound should represent the plane getting closer or further away.
Avid S6 Mixing Console
Most big budget sound edits are edited on the hourglass workflow, whereby multiple individual stems for effects, dialogue, music etc. will eventually be pre-mixed together. However it is quite common for a large budget to always retain these three stems individually, for the purpose of international distribution, or different sound formats such as Dolby 7.1, Dolby ATMOS. For the purpose of international distribution, an M&E (music and effects) edit will be released upon which foreign dubbing can be easily undertaken.


Understanding the basics of DaVinci Resolve

Another piece of software I have been eager to get my hands on is DaVinci Resolve, originally released in 2004, it was considered a next generation colour grading system. Considered one of the industry standards, it is now becoming a NLE system in itself. Providing users with unprecedented control of colour grading of any part of shot, from whole frame, to individual moving objects using tracking technology.

Unlike layer based software, DaVinci is node based. Nodes can be individually graded, corrected, or tweaked to manipulate certain areas of an image, thus rendering the rest of the image unaffected. This is useful in the fact that colourists can concentrate on certain areas of an image, correcting desired elements individually without affecting the image as a whole. It is common practice to create a new node for every correction to different elements of the shot.

The roles in grading can differ slightly; a colour corrector for instance will concentrate on ensuring the images are balanced correctly. They would fix exposure, or contrast levels as needed. A colour grader on the other hand, they would concentrate on grading the image to the films/directors parameters, essentially creating a desired look for the finished edit.

DaVinci tool palette has four different graphs that can assist a user in monitoring black and white levels, as well as colour levels within a shot.


This is the scope that would be used when correcting an images shadows and highlights. With the lower representing shadows, and the upper, highlights. The waveform also represents the image from left to right respectively.

This is the process of correction that would occur before any form of colour grading. The user can ensure that the images shadows and highlights are balanced correctly, and within a legal standard. This would be referred to as Primary correction within the industry. Secondary correction is when a specific colour is targeted within an image, which can be defined by hue, saturation, or luminance.

Parade, Histogram

The parade and histogram are different representations of the Red, Green, and Blue (RGB) channels within the image, at the top of the graph a value of 1023 denotes peak white and if any of the waveforms go over this then clipping of the image will result, at the base of the graph, a value of 0 shows black and any waveforms going below this point will denote 'crushed' blacks. This is another useful tool for ensuring that an image has ‘proper blacks’, and ‘proper whites’ that aren’t clipping at either level.



The vectorscope is another great tool, but is better used for getting an overall look of the colour balance in an image. The target points (three primary, and three secondary) circling the scope represent, anti-clockwise, Red, Yellow, Green, Cyan, Blue, and Magenta. The intensity of a colour is represented by the distance from the center of the scope.

The use of these scopes is user specific, and based upon personal preference. Some users find only waveform and Vectorscope to be useful, while others find use in every scope. DaVinci allows the user to specifically display only those that the user desires. This is handy, as these scopes can demand a lot of processing power from the computer.

3 Way Colour Correction/RGB Mixer

There are different tools for manipulating the colours within the shadows (lift), midtones (gamma), and highlights (gain). The 3 way colour correction wheels, which can be pulled into a desired colour space to affect the image. And the RGB mixer, which gives a bit more creative control over the colour correction, allowing for manipulation of the RGB levels within each of the image levels.

RGB Mixer

3-Way Colour Wheels