I feel like I’ve neglected my blog over the last few weeks. Mostly because I’ve been super busy with my final project at college and tying up all the loose ends, improving work and attending awards ceremonies. Yesterday I was given the grade for my final project and my overall grade for the BTEC Extended Diploma in Creative Media Production course that I have been studying.

In November 2011 I posted off my application form and the next thing I knew, I had a place on the course. I had a full-time job at the time, which I had to quit to be able to join the course.
Seeds of change

The course was structured so that we completed two units at once. There were core units that we had to complete at set times throughout the year but we were free to choose whichever units we wanted from the list of 70 or so units available on the curriculum. We need a total of 18 units to pass the course. Here’s a run down of what I completed within the whole two years, in chronological order. I haven’t included the theory units such as research techniques as there isn’t any product associated with them.

The first unit I completed was photography. I chose this unit following advice from my tutor. He suggested I did it first so I could get to grips with using a camera and understanding how they work and how to set one up. It was probably the most useful advice I had while I was studying. Learning how a camera worked, how to setup a photo and about composition helped me in every other project afterwards.
Every project had a theme that we had to stick to. I think the tutors did this to reduce the scope a little and choose a topic that you maybe wouldn’t normally. The theme for this unit was fairytales. I did a modern day version of Cinderella. I got a pass grade for this unit.

Cinderella 1 - Rags

Cinderella 2 - Evil Stepmother

Cinderella 3 - Fairy Godmother

Cinderella 4 - The Ball

Cinderella 5 - Rushing Home

Cinderella 6 - Prince

The next unit I completed was Advertising Production for Television. The theme for this unit was The Marmite Controversy (We had to choose a controversial topic). I created an Ecstasy awareness advert. This was my first go at DSLR video and my whole project almost ended in disaster when hardly anyone turned up to my rave. I think I managed to pull it back though. I got a pass for this unit too. At this point on the course my production work was at distinction level but I hadn’t written an essay for the best part of 10 years, so my written work was severely letting me down.

By now I’d done some photography and a video so I wanted to give print a go. I chose to complete the Digital Graphics for Print unit. I also wanted to start bringing unicycling into my work. The theme for this unit was celebrating Britain. I made two different magazine covers and a British tourism campaign poster. I managed to adhere to the theme by making an imaginary UK unicycling magazine cover. Even though I think I have almost zero creativity when it comes to graphics, I was pretty pleased with the end result. My theory and evaluation work was still letting me down, so I got a pass for this unit.

Campaign Poster
Union Jack cs2

Magazine Covers

Cover - Stairs

Cover - Buszy

This was my final project of the first year and I wanted to create a video. I wanted to include unicycling, so I teamed up with Unicycle.com and made a promo video for their new Oracle disc brake unicycle. My tutor lent me his Canon 5D MkII for this project which I loved using. I’m so happy with this video, it’s probably the piece of work I’m most happy with over the entire two years. I went all out on this unit, being the final project of the first year and I managed to get a merit, which I was happy with.

The beginning of the second year saw me teaming up with three of my classmates to create a music video. I can’t remember what the theme for this unit was, but we made a music video for the Arctic Monkeys’ track Old Yellow Bricks. Despite almost falling out over the edit, I really enjoyed working with my group members. I love the shots we got of the band but I don’t think our narrative is very strong. It was my first go at creating a narrative, so I’m not too gutted about it. I got a merit for this project.

After leaving unicycling alone for a while, I wanted to come back to it. The theme for the unit was ‘Document a decade’ and 2013 was the tenth year I’d been riding, so I managed to link the theme in that way. The units I chose to do were Motion Graphics & Compositing Video and DVD Menu Design. At the time I was going to edit a long DVD version of the Voodoo Unicycles Scotland Roadtrip so I decided to make a title sequence and menu for the DVD. I learnt a lot about After Effects and compositing which was really useful and interesting. I really wasn’t happy with my rushes for the DVD menu but it worked out ok in the end. It was a fully interactive menu with video transitions which I shot from scratch. I’m not very happy with the final title sequence either, but I had to work with pre-shot rushes and it was more about experimenting with the software, so I’m not too bothered. I got merits for both units.

Here’s one of the transitions to give you a bit of an idea of what the menu was like.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LehbTaqbPlw

This is the title sequence.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTtL5T4A9lQ

Next up I did a multicam unit. Usually students choose to make a game show or some similar studio based show where multiple cameras would be used. I chose to do bullet-time. I chose to do it mainly because I didn’t want to do the same thing everyone else does but also I wanted to challenge myself. I didn’t realise how much of a challenge it would be. This was the most in depth project I attempted in the whole two years. The amount of work I put into it was unreal, I completed at least 6 test shoots before I was happy with the technique. In the end I built a custom rig to hold the 30 cameras. I got a merit for this unit. Again, my written work letting me down.

I wanted my final project to be amazing. The whole two years had been building up to this, so I wanted to create my best project ever. I think I put so much pressure on myself and it didn’t help at all. I wanted to make a documentary. I chose religion as a topic which was a bad idea from the beginning. I was trying to make a documentary about faith and trying to understand how people had faith. I was using a big Canon XL-H1 and capturing from mini DV tapes. Due to the subject, no-one wanted to talk to me. I struggled along for four weeks not really getting anywhere. I wasn’t very interested in the topic which didn’t help with my motivation and I couldn’t understand how people believed, which didn’t help me shoot subjectively.
I got to a point, two weeks before deadline, where I barely had anything and my motivation was gone. I decided to change my product almost completely. I went back to shooting on a DSLR and a simple product. I finally got that distinction I’d been chasing for the entire year. This is the result.

This is just a draft of the final product. When the final version goes online, I’ll update this post.

I did get distinctions for some of the theory units we were doing alongside the units I’ve talked about above. That helped improve my overall grade, which was DDM (Distinction, Distinction, Merit). I have never done that well in anything I have done academically in my life.
I also won some awards at our end of year show. I came away with the Greg Award (An award from Greg, one of the tutors) for my Bullet-time Unicycling video, best in photography/moving image and the Students Student Award. That one really touched me, as all my classmates voted for the winner of that award. My tutors also nominated me as Media Student of the Year, so I went to the college awards ceremony and received that one too!

10409270_502388636558800_5631746075280777221_n

It’s been an amazing two years. I’ve met some really cool people, made new friends and learnt a hell of a lot in such a short space of time. I’m going to stay on and do the HNC and possibly the HND after that. I’m really looking forward to what the next year has in store. Come at me bro!

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