Tag Archives: documentary

It’s that time of the year again! Rough cut screenings are probably my favorite part of the subject. They are super fun to do and the feedback given is really constructive. But best thing about it, for me, is it’s the first time we get to see everyone else’s’ films! Everyone had such great documentary ideas, so I couldn’t wait to see what the other groups had done with them. However, it was rather disappointing that only 3 groups made it to the screening.

We did things a bit differently this time around. We were instructed to provide other groups with feedback and a grade via a form given to us at the start of the screening. I thought the questions posed in the forms were very practical and it really helped cover all examinable aspects of the documentary.

Seeing as we had a lot of extra time to kill, we gathered around and had a more extensive discussion about our documentary films. The discussion was both fun and informative. I’m glad we had the open discussion, typically because there’s only so much you can get on paper. The discussion allowed everyone to further justify or elaborate on what they had previously written on the feedback sheets. Thought the discussion was a good idea and a good end to the screening.


Feedback from the other two groups:


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Shooting Day: 4th September 2013

Location: The Greyhound Hotel



It has been a long day, so I’m going to keep this simple.

Challenge #1

Space. By the time we had set up gear, there was barely any space for anyone to walk about.

What could/should have been done

There really wasn’t much we could have done about it other than changing our shoot location and foregoing our initial idea of playing around with the mirrors in the dressing room.

Some things to consider for second shoot

Perhaps change our shoot location


Challenge #2

Mirrors. Mirrors, while aesthetically pleasing, are super hard to work with! Especially if you’re in a confined space. We ended up being in quite a number of the shots.

What could/should have been done

  • We should have practiced shooting some shots before conducting the interview
  • The crew should have paid more attention to where the camera was pointed and move accordingly

Some things to consider for second shoot

  • Discuss and mark the placement of bodies during the shoot
  • Forego the mirrors and change our location


Challenge #3

Fridge. There was a mini fridge in the tiny dressing room. We weren’t allowed to unplug it without the management’s permission.

What could/should have been done

  • We should have used lapel mics
  • Fix the problem later in post-production

Some things to consider for second shoot

  • Try using lapel mics instead
  • Conduct interview in a different location


Challenge #4

No prep time. We weren’t allowed in the facility without the presence of our subject. Our subject was only available a couple of hours before the show and it would take him at least an hour and a half to get ready. This gave us almost no time at all to prep and setup our equipment studiously.

What could/should have been done

Some things to consider for second shoot


Challenge #5

Lighting. The lighting in the dressing room was relatively good. The problem with lighting lies with the coloured spotlights that would illuminate the stage later during the show.

What could/should have been done

Fix the problem in post-production

Some things to consider for second shoot

Challenge #6

Audio. The audio mixer we got was faulty and it ended up recording from the internal mic instead. This plus the disturbance from the fridge as well as all the other electronic equipment lying around the facility, caused us to record really bad audio.

What could/should have been done

We should have tried recording using lapel mics

Some things to consider for second shoot

  • Try recording audio using lapel mics
  • Forego the mirrors and change our location



Things that we could/should have been done (in general)

Check equipment beforehand

Some things to consider for the second shoot (in general)

  • Change our shoot location
  • Reshoot footage from first shoot



I would like to start this off by saying, filming a documentary is not as easy as it looks! I’ve always ignorantly assumed that filming a documentary was a simple task; that all you really need is an interesting subject to follow around and everything else will naturally fall into place. Boy was I wrong! 

The task was to film our classmates as they discussed their projects. Sounds easy enough…WRONG AGAIN! I let my indecisiveness get the better of me. I couldn’t decide who to focus on, when to do it. As a result, it felt like I was always a step behind. Someone would say something noteworthy and/or interesting and by the time I pan the camera towards them, they would have been done saying what they wanted to. So, not wanting to lose another important moment again, I keep the camera locked on that same person and, of course, someone from across the room says something I wish I had filmed! Needless to say, I underestimated the level of concentration needed of me.

Here are a few things this exercise has taught:

  1. Pay great attention to how the interview is progressing
  2. Be quick and prepared to make decisions as to whether to keep the camera locked on the subject(s), pan somewhere else, etc
  3. Attempt to predict the subject’s movements or where his/her train of thought would eventually lead to


As an extension of last week’s tute, this week our task was to film more cutaways to complement our previously shot and edited interview. So we brought our gear out on the streets, going handheld this time around. Apart from some shaky shots and not getting the exposure quite right for a couple of them, I’d say the filming went pretty well. Here’s the new and improved version of my interview exercise.

The course is now well underway and this week, we conducted our first filming exercise. I’ve always been a fan of these hands-on exercises. They are super fun to do, and not to mention a great way to learn. We got into small groups of 3 or 4 and off we went. I was in charge of audio and Tamie was our subject for the day. I’ve played around with the audio equipment a couple of times prior to this but I’ve never actually tried recording anything with it. And so, getting it set up just right was slightly more challenging than I imagined it would be. But I managed to figure it out at the end of the day and that’s all that matters. Anyway, without further or due, here is the interview exercise all cut up and ready for viewing.

Collapsus, directed by Tommy Pallotta, follows the adventures of 10 young people located all around the world, as they go about tackling a world filled with deception, conspiracy, and, more importantly, the imminent depletion of energy resources.



The Collapsus Project originated as a documentary for Dutch broadcaster VPRO. The documentary was originally dubbed “Energy Risk” and it covered the imminent energy transition from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources. The intended target audience for the documentary was a younger audience. However, the audience for documentary is dying and the average age for a documentary viewer is 55 years old and above. Hence, the producers (a.k.a. Dutch broadcaster VPRO) decided to look for a solution elsewhere. They felt that by doing so they stood a better chance at achieving their goal: to get these issues out to younger people and the connected generation and at the same time attract a different audience than traditional documentary viewers.

Producers looked to create a multimedia experience for their younger viewers. And so, they brought their documentary to Submarine Channel, where it then underwent major remodeling and eventually evolved into a hybrid documentary game that marries animation with interactive fiction and documentary film across a three-panel system. The study of the raw material first led to the materialization of a meta-scenario and from that a script and possible interactive mechanics were explored. The entire Collapsus Project embodied the work of approximately 60 producers working on the interactivity, animation, documentary, script, development and design. Nevertheless, all the time, effort and hard work put into the project did not go to unappreciated. Since its launch in 2010, Collapsus has acquired numerous achievements awards.


  • Games for Change Festival 2010 Transmedia Award Nominee,
  • SXSW Winner Interactive Awards 2011,
  • Digital Emmy Nominee for Best Digital Fiction,
  • Spin Awards Best Interactive Video,
  • idfa DOCLAB Nominee,
  • Doc/Fest Sheffield Nominee,
  • 15th Annual Webby Awards Nominee,
  • FWA Site of the Day

Three-panel System


Screen Shot 2013-07-31 at 2.36.03 AM


The center panel functions as the main fictional storyline and timeline.

The right panel operates as the documentary segment of the documentary game. Here, viewers are introduced to an array of talking heads, interviews with experts in the field, additional blogs from the characters, as well as some environmental and cultural facts.

The left panel is the interactive portion of the documentary game, which includes an interactive map that reveals each character’s location, types of available resources, the amount of energy needed, and the amount of energy produced.

The combination of all three components requires the viewer to read, listen, watch and interact simultaneously. As mentioned by Henry Jenkins, the Provost Professor of Communication, Journalism, and Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, a basic breakdown of existing communication reveals reading, listening, interaction, and watching to be the modern foundation of possible sensory content application.  Additionally, reading, listening, interaction, and watching, are all media sources useful in releasing information and encouraging viewers to seek further analysis. It is then safe to presume that the three-panel design played a role in Collapsus’ success.

Media Platforms

The primary media platform of the Collapsus experience is its webpage. Secondly, the YouTube channel “CitizEnergy” contains expert videos that are displayed on the right panel of the Collapsus website. Collapsus also includes another YouTube channel titled “Collapsusnews”, which includes a few scenes from Collapsus’ fictional narrative as well as a walkthrough video with Collapsus’ very own director, Tommy Pallotta. The YouTube channel was mainly created for the purpose of directing viewers to the Collapsus Facebook and Twitter page. However, the setup of both Facebook and Twitter pages seem to be redundant as neither are making any distinctive contribution or offer a new level of insight and experience (cf. Jenkins 2006-105).

Game Play

As mentioned above, Collapsus is a documentary game that follows the adventures of 10 people as they become entangled in a world flooded with deception and conspiracy, and their struggles with the energy crisis at hand. In the story, set in the year 2012 and up, international powers try to cope with a transition from fossil to alternative energy sources, while dealing with political conflict, anarchy, and increasingly frequent blackouts.

Collapsus places its viewers in climacteric points in time, where it then coerces its viewers to make life-or-death decisions about things such as the impending energy crisis, and the world’s energy production. In addition to that, live action footage combined with animation is designed to help viewers understand the current political situation as well as the each character’s course of destiny. Viewers are accompanied and guided by numerous vlog posts of Vera and her friends as they try to solve their personal problems and at the same time attempt to create a better, sustainable future.

This form of interactive documentary is both engaging and informative, and the blend of animation and documentary and/or the play with fiction and reality proves to be rather entertaining.


Click here to launch Collapsus

Click here for Collapsus’ Facebook page

Click here for Collapsus’ Twitter page