The New Generation of Chinatown

Key skills: Lighting, Filming, Editing, Research, Interviewing

Individual Project

I was tasked with creating a video of approximately 30 seconds to advertise a product, service, or institution. I chose to make a public service announcement for a fictional company warning against drugs and offering detox and rehab services.

The video was done in one take to make the viewer feel like they were in the scene. I felt this was an effective way to film the video, although it made the filming quite a bit more difficult than a traditional video with cuts and transitions. The main difficulty was lighting the scene. Because the camera moves through the room, the lighting of the actor had to be hidden as much as possible. Another difficulty was the possibility of a single issue during filming requiring a reshoot of the whole scene.

I used kinetic typography at the end of the video along with the use of sound effects – ringing in the ears, bass thump – to accentuate the message and bring attention to the (fake) website URL. I also used a small amount of colour correction and stabilization to prevent the feeling of motion sickness from a handheld camera.

Group Documentary

Our documentary piece was initially intended to be about the history of Chinatown – and it’s transition throughout the years – from the perspective of the Chinese Benevolent Association of Vancouver, an organization that operates language classes, welfare programs and is involved in a number of events regarding the development of the Chinatown area. We researched and filmed footage of the Annual Chinese New Year Parade, but the CBA requested not to continue working with us. However, we were able to use some of the b-roll we recorded in the drafts and final cut.

We then decided to switch our topic to the history of the Phnom Penh Restaurant, and found an interviewee through a family connection. However, we discovered he had to leave the country soon after our interview, so we collected as much as we could for the time being. Our final cut ended up being a hybrid of Harry Ming’s commentary and the Chinatown area.

My Roles

For this project I had a number of roles. When filming B-roll, I assisted with camera shots and locations. When recording the interview, I was the audio technician, which required setting up lavalier microphones as well as a shotgun microphone on a boom pole, which required me to hold it up during the duration of the 37-minute interview and monitor audio feedback. I also helped with setting up the lighting prior to the shoot. I also specialized in the audio during the editing stage of production.

Our interviewee answered the questions very extensively, but it was often spread out. In order to limit our documentary to <5 minutes, we had to manipulate the audio to connect certain parts together and make sure that it was concise, interesting, and fitting with the final vision of our project. I did this by modifying the audio levels in Premiere Pro, carefully cutting out pauses and hesitations, and maintaining an equalized sound output. I also added the music tracks to the background and made sure that level was similarly equalized and not interfering with the voice track.

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