Inspiration and planning
I love making list and thought clouds. I do it for everything, especially school. So knowing that I had to come up with a plan for a project for this module I thought cloud would be the optional way to form an idea.
As you can see, I clearly had much more thoughts about sports than any other field and subject for the project.
The idea of making thought to make inspiration into a plan is to break down small parts in to a big idea or a big subject into smaller parts. This will make you discover new elements and ideas suitable for your project or idea.
A list of all possible shots that I wanted. I made this list early in the progress and didn’t know all the shots I wanted. But these were the most important ones.
Two pages from my Google Docs document where I specified to myself exactly how I wanted the video to look, my questions and some information about the sport
I’ve shot a lot of sport earlier and knew quite early that I wanted to do something in that field. I couldn’t quite decide which sport to shoot in the beginning though. This led to making a list of different possibilities of sports to shoot. I got some ideas from Becky and Andrew who gave me some advice on sports and teams in the area and Wales.
A photo from one of my many football games in Sweden. Here you can see the legend Anders Svensson ( ex IF Elfsborg and Southampton player) during a game agains Djurgårdens IF
I often watch a lot of documentaries on Youtube, Netflix and SVT (Sweden’s BBC) where they put up a lot of great documentaries. The documentaries can be about anything really. I’ve enjoyed documentaries about everything from murder cases to different kind of rocks in Europe.
One of the things that makes me think that “wow, this was a great documentary” is when they’ve managed to mix stills, clips and music well. I also get inspired by videography where the clips are a bit long at times. I feel like even if it sometimes may feel boring for some people I feel like it gives you time to really reflect on the footage and what is presented to you. You can see new things that you perhaps didn’t see the first second.
In this documentary about the Hillsborough Disaster you can see the way that they’ve mixed stills and videos very well. They also keep some of the clips for quite some time instead of quickly changing to a new clip
Before I started shooting I looked at a lot of roller derby photography to get inspiration and thoughts on how I could do my work. One photographer that I discovered quite early was Felicia Graham. She has spent more than a decade documenting Texas women’s roller derby teams and the players lives.
What I like about Felicia Grahams work is that she gets right into the action and very close to the game. I feel like this really help to capture the emotions and the rawness of the game.
One of Felicia Graham’s photos from her 11 year long project where she followed the players all around the world. Here you can see the speed, facial expressions and how tough the game really is. This is also something that I want to show in my video.
What I want to say with my work is not so much what I want to say but what the people of Tiger Bay Brawlers want to say. I want to give them a voice and share their stories of how important roller derby and the team is to them. I want to show the rest of the world how the sport can empower women and what effect the sport has had and are having.
I also want to show the sport to the people who maybe haven’t seen or heard about the sport before. Therefor I want to use a mix of stills and clips to really show all the sides of the sport. I want to show the pace, the roughness and at the same time the happiness and love in the team.
After I had decided to do my project about roller derby I had to start planning and do my research. I quickly found out about a local roller derby team called Tiger Bay Brawlers and started to look more into the team. What kind of team they were, how many teams they had, where they were playing and so on.
Turned out that Tiger Bay Brawlers were training at Cardiff Central Youth Club. Not to far away from where I live.
Roller derby is a full contact sport with two teams. The players use quad roller skates to get around the field. Each team has 15 players, five of them can be on the field at any time. Each player (or skater) has different assigned rolls. Jammers (the only player that can score points for her team) or blockers (blocks the other teams jammer and clears a path for her teams jammer to score). Both teams are rolling in the same direction.
A jammer score a point for every blocker that she passes during a jam. The games are called bouts and are broken into jams. Every jam is a maximum of two minutes. But every teams lead jammer can call of the jam at any time. This is a part of the strategic part of the sport.
The sport was first played in 1935 in Chicago, Illinois, USA. The sport quickly became very popular, and in 1940 more than 5 million people watched the sport in 50 different towns in the US. In the early 2000 the sport got a revival. Some leagues now include all-male teams and unisex teams and matches.
In the UK, the United Kingdom Roller Derby Association (UKRDA) are constantly adding new teams to their leagues all across the UK.
Still from the movie Whip It about roller derby, starring Ellen Page.
I contacted the team and asked them if it was okay for me to come to them. They were more than happy and asked me if I needed any help or special shots. So that made the project very smooth. All thanks to them being so welcoming.
I now had to decide how I wanted my video to look like. I watched a lot of films and videos about roller derby and other sports to get inspiration and tips on what kind of angles and photos that I wanted.
One of the videos that inspired me the most and gave me a lot of good ideas on how to shoot was this documentary on Denver Roller Derby
I decided to get as many different angles and situations as possible. Everything from warmups and tackles to high fives and preparation. I also wanted to get it all on stills and video in order to make it more alive and varied.
I also wanted to get to know the players. Their struggles and why they were playing. That’s why I decided to include some of my interviews in the video. I got to know some of the players after a few visits but I still wanted to do the interviews early on to get the first answer that came to their mind and really explain it to someone that they didn’t know.
A photo from one of my many visits to Tiger Bay Brawlers training sessions in Cardiff. I usually didn’t sit this far away from the action. But shooting roller derby is tiring and demands a break every now and then.
I know that there are a lot of things that I need to think of during this project. One technique that I think that I will need to use is to shoot in difficult light. I’m used to shoot sports outside and under flood lights on a big football pitch. But now I’ll have to adapt to tungsten inside of a big room with a lot of shadows all around. This may cause the focus to be a bit tricky. When I’ve shot sports inside previously the results has been a bit bad with a lack of focus. So this is probably something that I’ll need to learn and practice during this module and my time at Tiger Bay Brawlers training sessions.
One of my previous attempts on shooting sports indoors was when I was a club photographer for the floorball team Pixbo in the Premier League in Sweden. As you can see the focus isn’t quite where it “should” be.
Another technique that I think that I need to adopt and practice during the module is my video editing and especially with a mix of photos and clips. If I want it to look like Copa90 and BC Serna I’ll have to really focus on both getting the interviewees voices out and get my mix of stills and clips well. I’ve tried this once before when me and a few friends from my first year in Sweden tried to do a documentary about a legend in the local hockey team. I tried to get the mix of stills, music and videos of him right but in the end there wasn’t really a clear picture of what I wanted to show. Plus the footage is really bad.
A still from me and my friends documentary. As you can see the still is way too blurry and dark. This is something that I’ll have to improve and adopt in order to make the video the way that I want.
Another thing that I need to think about is to shoot as much as possible. Shoot stills, videos and interviews. Shoot gameplay, breaks and preparations. Shoot players in the centre of the game, around the pitch and far away from the action. Just like Copa90. I want to show as much as I can from the sport and the players. What they feel, when they fall and when they laugh. Everything.
The result (click to see the video) of all the inspiration and planning planning was this five minute video with stills, clips and interviews. My goal was to capture as much as possible of the sport and the players. Personally I think that I did that. I feel like I managed to get the voices and the story out just like I wanted. And at the same time show the action and the pace of the sport. Who knows? Maybe I’ve inspired some new roller derby players. Because I sure know that they’ve inspired me during this project.
During the first few visits in Cardiff Central Youth Club I noticed that the tungsten lighting in the arena was a bit tricky and not very helpful to the cameras that I brought with me. I noticed that my photos were completely different just by walking a few tiny steps in any direction. So many shots became a bit dark and blurry.
One of the earlier shots from the training sessions. As you can see, I had a bit of trouble with the tungsten lights.
After a few visits and a lot of testing I started to learn how to handle the lights. Another good help was that I changed camera from one of the smaller DSLRs from the media shop to 60Dii in the photography store. Massive change and much better photos. Especially the quality. I also shot a few clips with the 60Dii. Great quality again.
Here you can see the great difference with the cameras and and when I managed to handle the lights inside the Youth Club.
During every visit and training session I kept the inspiration from Serna, Aspland, Graham, Copa90 and Jenkins in the back of my head. The inspiration as well as my already clear image of what I wanted the video to look like. This helped me a lot to find the right shots. The first visits were mostly about getting to know the sport, the angles and how I could get the footage that I wanted. I quickly noticed a few spots where I could get great footage of the gameplay. Footage just like Aspland and Graham. Very close. The spots I noticed where the four corners of the field. Most jams started at the begging of the stretches, right after the corner. So if I stood on the opposite side I could get the action when the players where coming in my direction, face forward.
One of the shots from one of the corners. This shot was taken quite late in the jam so the players had almost gone past me and the faces no longer facing my direction. But as you can see, still a lot of action. Just like Asplands photos.
During my first visits I concentrated a lot on getting photos and clips from the gameplay and not what was going on beside the action, like Jenkins. So after a while I started to point my camera away from the action and started looking at the rest of the field. I immediately found what I was looking for. I wanted the emotions and feelings that Jenkins saw away from the centre. By the time I moved my camera away from the action I also felt that I could try out new stuff and play around a bit more to get the variation and experimental photos that Jenkins also managed to do so well. It took a while to get some of the photos that I was trying to get but I did it.
When I moved my camera away from the action I found the sort of photos that Jenkins saw. A big part of my project were to show the players and their feelings. This is something that I managed to do when I moved away from the action. Like here where the players are joking during a jam.
After a few visits I also started to experiment to get the sort of photos that Jenkins manage to get with different shutters and pans.
I started to record my interviews early during the project. Mostly because I knew what questions that I wanted to ask and how I wanted the interviews to look like. In order to get the clean interviews that Copa90 and BBC had I wanted to have a clean background instead of placing the interviewee infront of the training.
When I were looking for suitable places to do the interviews I noticed that the best spot was a bit in the shadows. When I looked at the footage on the camera it didn’t look that bad. A bit dark but I just thought that it brought out the rawness a bit more. But when I looked at the footage on the computer the result was way worse than it looked on the camera.
I thought that I could record it again but had already two really good interviews that I knew that if I asked them to do them again they would be nowhere near as good as they were the first time, so I kept it. What was so good about the interviews was the emotions in both face and voice. Also the things the players said really made the story so much clearer, especially because they both lifted the same things. Emotions and voiced that helped both them and be get the stories out. Just like Serna does so well with his interviewees and frames.
One of the interviews that I kept. Doesn’t look to dark, but a bit. The background free from stuff disturbing the focus from the player, just like Copa90 and BBC. Just what I was going for.
After shooting the shots I needed and about 2000 shots more I headed to the computer to start editing. I had worked in Premiere Pro earlier a few times and knew that I was fairly good with the software. As I knew how I wanted it to look like I could fairly quick and easy form a timeline after my planning. But I couldn’t really get the message out or make the video fun to watch. I think I’ve must’ve started over at least five times for different reasons. Sometimes it was because I couldn’t find the right photos or just photos inspired by Aspland. But I was looking for a mix. Sometimes it was because I didn’t feel like the song was right and would fit the editing as good as it did on Serna’s videos. And sometimes it was just because the interviews just didn’t fit and I couldn’t get my story out like Serna. What most of my attempts did have however was the mix of clips and photos that Copa90 and BBC had, and that was one of the things I was going after.
When I, after several attempts, found the right song, right mix and a nice way to use the voices of the players I started to add layer after layer of footage until I was happy.
Having somewhat completed the video I handed out my final draft to Becky and Andy. I didn’t think that I had to change that much. I was happy with the editing, shots and length. The only thing that I thought that I’d have to change was the texts, that wasn’t done. But, luckily, they both pointed out several things that simply wasn’t good enough. Most of the things were things that I didn’t think of or found wrong. But after sitting for a few more days fixing what they thought was wrong I can honestly say that it improved so much. The story is still the same. The same voices and core of the video. But what changed the most was the pace of the video and the parts that didn’t have music before and honestly was a bit boring now when I think of it.
I wanted my video to be as gripping as BC Serna’s but there was something missing. Music. After adding more music and sounds and syncing them with the footage, the interviews and video became much more gripping and I even think that it helped me to bring out the story more and the footages narrative..
Now when I’ve completed the video I can look back at several months of shooting and editing and say that I’ve managed to do what I set out to do. Get my and the players stories out. Mix photos and clips inspired by Aspland, Graham, Jenkins, Copa90, BBC and Serna. All in one package, edited with a mix of long and short clips and music to sync with the editing and footage.
First frame of the final product. It is done.