In this project, I will be making a movie that instructs people on how to hem pants. The purpose of this project is to practice using visual and auditory elements to tell a coherent and interesting story–an essential skill for being an excellent designer. I will be experimenting with creating different storyboards and testing out different compositions, lightings, and audio to accomplish a concise and interesting instruction movie on how to hem pants.
•Must be 60 seconds or less in length
• Must be saved as a .mov or .mp4
• Must be 1024 x 768 pixels in size (horizontal)
• May NOT include voice narration or text
• May NOT be edited digitally, other than splicing clips together
Hemming Pants & Capturing Key Steps through Photography
For this initial stage of the project, my goal is to become an expert in hemming then capture the key steps of hemming through photography. The pictures I capture would be used as part of my storyboard in the next class. To learn how to hem, I started by looking up Youtube videos, which is when I can upon this video:
Learning from the Hemming Tutorial Video
I chose to watch this video because although the lighting in the video is not ideal (which I should be cautious about when I create my video), the instructions are pretty clear. As a person who is learning how to hem myself, I took notes of the key processes in this video and what the narrator is doing well and not so well to guide me through this process.
Things the Narrator Did Well
In this video, I really like the point of view and the angle that the video was taken from. The first-person point of view made it easy for me to follow along as I felt that I was engaged in the activity more than just observing it. This perspective is also easy to follow because it represents how I actually see the objects when I am engaged in this task, eliminating the mental work of spatial manipulation that would be required if it were to be taken from another angle.
Things the Narrator Did Poorly
As mentioned previously, the lighting in this video is poor; therefore, some scenes are a bit unclear. Some frames can also be zoomed in to highlight certain processes better. For example, zooming in on how the stitches are sewed would make the video more comprehensible.
After watching the video, I decided to hem my green pants because they are the darkest color pants I have. I also chose to use white thread to provide drastic contrast between the pants and the thread. After having all my materials ready, I started hemming one leg of my pants as a practice attempt. I then hemmed the other leg and took pictures of the key steps. In today’s class, Stacie and Steve showed the class some videos* that would be useful for this project. The videos all addressed some aspects of videography that are crucial to this project such as composition, appropriateness of visuals, duration, emotions, and point of view. Keeping all of these points in mind, I captured the key steps of hemming. I also applied the methods from McCloud’s “Blood in the Gutter” comic stips, which elaborates on how the organization of each comic panel– or in my case, each picture– can lead to coherent storytelling.
To illustrate the process of hemming, I mostly used the “Action-to-Action” sequence. This allows me to omit some unnecessary pictures while telling the process in a precise way. I then put my pictures in InDesign for better organization.
Reflection & Moving Forward
During class, I tried teaching other classmates how to hem through the pictures I took. Here are some feedbacks and things I should consider doing for the next step.
- Try teaching without talking at all and see if people can actually learn from the pictures.
- Some key steps are also missing. For instance, after looking at the pictures, some of my friends could not infer what the ideal length of the thread is.
*Here are some of my favorite videos (illustrating good transitions, appropriateness of visual, good points of view respectively) from the list of videos shown in class:
Making a Storyboard
After having pictures of the key procedures in hemming, I created a storyboard, which would eventually be used as a guide for my filming process. I also got grey slack pants from GoodWill as the green khaki pants have tighter fabric, which made them hard to hem. Similar to the last exploration process, I took pictures of the important processes then organized them in InDesign. This time, however, I included more important steps that were missing and deleted some irrelevant steps. For example, I decided to take out picture 3 from the last storyboard out. I also added the process of using pins to assure that the length of the pants is equal throughout. This is one of the important processes I missed in the last attempt. After printing them out, I stick them together to create one continuous flow of pictures, therefore, allowing me to understand the transitioning between different frames better.
Reflection & Moving Forward
Overall, this attempt did not go as well as planned. After looking at the sequences and the flow of pictures, there were many striking problems that I have to work on.
- Try omitting and simplifying some steps to make the sequences of pictures more concise and easier to understand.
- Composition: I realized that the compositions are contributing to the confusion in my storyboard. The contrasting point of view makes it hard to follow along. This might result from me asking too many different people to take pictures of the processes while I tried to hem. I also did not give them enough specific instructions on how I want the pictures to be taken. Apart from coming with better composition, I should be clearer in my communication.
3. Showing vs. Teaching
I also should shift my mindset from showing how to hem to teaching how to hem. By this I mean, I have to be more empathetic toward my audiences. Teaching might require repetition of processes, slower movement, and other elements that can be implemented to my project.
In the last class, Steve also gave a had a good analogy for this project. He said:
“making this video (and designing, in general) is like holding a flashlight for someone else.”
In the context of this project, the process of making this video is similar to holding a flashlight for someone else in the sense that I am guiding someone in the process of hemming through a specific perspective that is controlled by me. Similar to successfully guiding a person through the dark, if I can create an intelligible video with good design, people would understand how to hem; they might not even realize that I am holding the flashlight for them.
I should always keep this in mind throughout this project.
Making Videos Clips: Moving from Still Pictures to Motions
Reflection before Working
Before I started filming, Stacie also suggested that I should look back at my storyboard then annotate or mark up the frames that might be confusing. These confusions are created by many factors.
For example, the composition and the transition between these two frames are confusing. The composition of the second frame is at an angle, and the composition of the first frame is too zoomed in. It is hard to tell what action is going on in between them. This leads to miscommunication.
Similarly, between these two frames, there is a big leap in transition. Including another picture in between them might help make the process clearer.
In this last frame of the storyboard, the end result from hemming is also unclear. Including a more zoomed out frame that shows a person actually wearing the hemmed pants will create a better image of the end result for the viewers.
After reflecting on what I should change, I then set up the lighting and the backdrop for my video.
One of the comments I received was that using the table as the background might be distracting because of the marks on it. To fix this problem, I taped the seamless I found in the studio onto my table to create an all-white background. I also chose to film by myself this time to take full control of the compositions in different frames. After filming, I then imported my clips into iMovie for editing.
In this video, I removed the audio because it was too loud in the studio at the moment I was filming. The noises would be too distracting and would detract my audience’s attention from the process of hemming. As recommended by my TAs from the last storyboard, I also added the final outcome in the last frame of the video.
Reflection and Moving Forward
Problems I realized from this video that should be mixed in the next iteration:
- I should take the video in manual focus as putting the camera on auto-focus might cause some frames to be blurry.
- The transition from the first stitch to the last stitch is to fast making the process of hemming unclear.
- Some frames also have to be zoomed in for clarity such as the frame at the end when I completing the last few stitches.
- Make sure that things are not out of frame.
- This video is over 1 min. Omit more unimportant details
To fix the problems I encountered from last time, I decided to work with Alison, a friend from class. Instead of juggling all the processes by myself, working with Alison allowed me to focus more on directing the video. Similar to the process I took in for the last video, I started by marking what frame from the video I wanted to change.
For example, when I was rewatching my video, I realized that this section took too long. The composition was also off as the most important part took up the least amount of space in the composition. I took note of problems like this in my sketchbook so I could remember them when filming.
As for the location of filming, I also decided to move from the freshmen studio to film in the shooting studio where I have access to more equipment and a quieter environment.
I divided my filming process into 3 sections: Pre-hemming, Hemming, and Post-hemming. Dividing the storyboard into these three sections allowed me to have a clearer picture of what should be included while making the process of filming more organized.
In this video, similar to the last one, I started the video by showing the unhemmed pants.
This frame is significant because it shows the concurrent problem, establishes the purpose of hemming, and signals the beginning of the video. The frame serves as an introduction to the video similar to an introductory sentence of an essay.
I also decided to take my video from a first-person perspective as I believed that this will make it easier for the viewers to follow along as it would be the same perspective of what they actually see in real life.
I decided to end my video with a similar composition as the beginning. However, unlike the beginning frame, this frame shows the final outcome of the hemmed pants. The two similar compositions with contrasting elements will give viewers a visual comparison between the original pants and the hemmed pants.
Reflection and Moving Forward
After rewatching the video and asking my peers and professors for feedback, these are the things that I should fix for my final video:
- Keep the perspective when hemming consistent. Doing so will allow for more coherent transitions between each stitch.
- The video is too dark. Adjust lighting to provide clearer details of the processes.
Use a blind hem stitch as this is visually easier to follow.
- Spend less time on pinning and more time on hemming. The most important process in this video should be the hemming process; therefore, keep in mind how much time
- Fix the length of the hemmed pants. Make the final outcome more professional.
- Use plain long socks so it won’t be visually distracting.
- Make the cuts less jumpy. Transitions should be smoother as this will allow for a more coherent story.
- Include ambient noise as the video is too awkwardly quiet.
For this final video, I returned to the shooting studio to film. In order to improve the lighting in the video, I realized that I should rearrange the lighting equipment.
I decided to include more lighting equipment and put them apart from each other. The light, coming from different directions, would eliminate the hard shadows that were present in the last video. To record ambient sounds and block out background noises, I also used a microphone that could be attached to my camera.
Unlike the last video, I also made Alison wear long white socks because her short socks did not work well with the leather shoes she was wearing, making it visually distracting.
To create a more coherent sequence and concise clips, I planned out the different steps in my sketchbook. Planning out the steps on my sketchbook allowed for the process of filming to be done faster.
I also change from doing a normal hemstitch to a blind hemstitch. From the last video, I realized that the hemming was really hard to follow, and the repetition from the normal hemstitch is visually confusing. After talking to Stacie, she suggested that I look into other hemming stitches including the blind stitch. I filmed a couple clips and realized that the blind stitch worked out pretty well. Thus, I decided to use this method for my final video.
Reflection on the Final Video
- Even though the shooting studio had good equipment, the background noise was really loud. To fix this, I tried using a microphone; however, after looking at the final video, I realized background noise is still present and could be distracting at times.
- Comparing to the last video, the transitions between clips are better in this video; however, they could still be improved. With the 1-minute time constraint, I could still make my clips more concise. This might mean that I have to practice hemming more to improve the fluidity of my video.
- Although I really like the first-person perspective, the perspective should still be more consistent throughout the video. At times the change in perspective is too abrupt which makes it hard to follow.
Reflection on the Project
Even though I feel that the final video could be improved, I have learned a lot from this project. Firstly, I learned how to be a better visual communicator. I learned to deconstruct complex information and transform them for better communication. As a designer, this is really important because communication plays a key part in the design process. I also learned to communicate and work better with other people. In this video, as Alison was helping me out, I would have to come up with specific instructions on what I wanted her to do to make the filming process run smoothly and efficiently. Besides, I also learned to empathize with people who I am designing for. As a person designing an instructional video, I have to keep in mind the struggles my viewers might have. To understand my viewers better, I would try to talk and get feedback from as many classmates as possible.
On the more technical side, I learned different shooting skills. I learned how the different functions of my camera and how to use different lighting equipment. I also learned how to hem, a pretty important skill that I didn’t know until I did this project.