AV News

WELCOME TO THE A.V. DIVISION

NEWS PAGE

 

Upcoming Audio Visual Exhibitions:

 For 2018, the Autumn National will be held in Sydney. The Spring National will be held in Melbourne.

Dates to be advised.

 

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CHANGES TO CATEGORIES IN AV COMPETITION:

There has been a category change to the APS Autumn AV National and the Spring AV National competitions. There now will be 4 categories instead of 5. The category, Fusion, has been removed. So, the other categories are - Documentary, Theme, Poetry & Song, Photo Harmony. Video content will now be allowed in all categories with a limit of not being more than 20% of the total duration of the sequence.

These changes will take place in 2018.

Please go the the AV Definitions page for a full description of the new categories.

 

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EXAMPLES OF AUDIO VISUALS:

Please visit the AV Downloads page for links to view examples of audio visuals. These examples show a diverse range of genres, from Theme to Photo Harmony and Poetry. For those new to AV making, this is a great way to learn and be inspired. 

 

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NEWSLETTERS:

For past articles and news, go to the AV Downloads page. You can take a journey with the AV Division over the past several years. Some of the news is in the past, but there are articles that are still quite relevant today for AV making.

At the moment, the AV Division newsletter is not being produced. It is hoped, that in the future, an editor will be found to continue this valuable source for AV makers.

Meanwhile, the AV News page will endeavour to post articles for your enjoyment and information.

 

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JUDGING AUDIO VISUAL COMPETITIONS:

The following article was provided by John Hodgson, who is a member of the AV Division Council, and one of the organisers for the Adelaide AV National exhibition, which is held every year, and he is also involved with the organisation of the Adelaide AV International Fest, which is held every two years (the next one being in 2017)...

The following is the kind of instruction sheet for judges which has been used for AV Fest for the last decade or so:

 

Objective :

To evaluate all entries and nominate overall first, second and third, category winners and merits and to determine acceptances.

 

Approach to Judging :

 The AV Fest organisers do not impose a method of judging. However, assessment of sequences should include consideration of the following:

 (a) quality & appropriateness of images;

 (b) quality of sound track including suitability of music;

 (c) overall quality of production, including originality of concept and audience appeal.

 

• For the purpose of achieving final ranking of sequences for awards and to facilitate achieving a 'common language' among the judges, regardless of the way a judge chooses to evaluate the sequences, each judge is requested to finally allocate each sequence a rating of A, B or C - modified, if necessary, by + or -.

 

 A = Possible award – definite acceptance

 B = possible acceptance – for further consideration

 C = reject

 

• When the Judges retire, after discussion, they should agree on a Panel Rating of A, B or C for each sequence and record that decision on the Panel’s Judges Assessment Sheet. + or - applied to these ratings may assist in final decisions.

 

• At the conclusion of judging, review B ratings and revise to an A (acceptance) or C (rejection) on the Panel’s Judges Assessment Sheet.

 

It has been my experience that, within these broad guidelines, different judging panels have tended to place emphasis  on different considerations. In 2011, for example, image quality became an important consideration in determining the final list of acceptances, while in 2013, there was less emphasis on image quality, and more on the emotional content of the sequences.

 

While the broad scope of the considerations relevant to assessing AVs should be, and generally is, consistent, there is no getting away from the fact that an element of subjectivity is always present in judging. That subjectivity may arise because of the cultural or educational background of a judge, personal preoccupations or interests, or even positive or negative associations with a particular place or piece of music. Using a panel of three is an attempt to minimise this kind of subjectivity, but it cannot be avoided entirely. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the 321 Competition, where AV authors are able to see their work judged in a number of different countries, in most cases with wildly differing results!

 

I'm aware of judging processes used in some Nationals where judges are asked to allocate points against the separate considerations of image quality and suitability, sound track quality and suitability, and overall production. In my experience, judges at internationals have been reluctant to use this approach, preferring the approach currently used at AV Fest, given that the use of pluses and minuses against the basic A,B or C categorisation allows a fair degree of shading to be applied to the initial assessment by the panel.

 

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For those new to AV what better place to start than by watching Bob Godfrey's "Diaporama" which can be found on the 'Welcome to AV' page.

 

To answer some other queries: 

 

• APS Definition of AV 

 

Diaporama/Audio Visual Definition 

 

Diaporama/Audio Visual is defined as a sequence of still images where the storyline or theme, sound, transitions and images are interdependent. An effective sequence will have unity of its three parts: the conception, the visuals and the sound. Generally, these three ele-ments should reinforce each other such that any one without the other two would be unsatis-factory. Adequate conception involves an idea with a suitable introduction, an interesting development of the idea and an appropriate close. Narrative or text may be employed but is not mandatory. The medium is very flexible and artistic expression within it can take many forms. There is no restriction on subject matter but each sequence must be placed in one of the categories listed on the Exhibition entry form 

 

Acknowledgement of the work of other artists (e.g. music, text, poetry and images) must be included at the end of the sequence. Display of the author’s name is optional but if used it must be at the end. 

 

Each sequence should not exceed 12 minutes. Each sequence awarded an “Acceptance” is eligible for consideration for Licentiate, Associate and Fellowship Honours levels. 

 

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT:

The following is valuable reading for AV makers who enter competitions or are thinking of doing so in the future. These are judges' comments taken from two past APS competions.

 

August 4, 2013

The overall standard of entries was lower than expected at this level, and many of the presentations were less than inspiring. Some of them really lacked any real focus or the ability to hold the viewer’s attention. Others had potential but lacked that special touch that elevates an A/V from slideshow to presentation. Of the A/Vs which used voice-overs, most used voices which were not up to the task. This can easily turn a good presentation into a less professional one. Images on some were exceptional, but others used photos that were little more than record shots. Some went too long, taking a good concept but then over extending its delivery. On a similar vein, some extended the presentation to match the music, rather than shortening the music or selecting another shorter piece. This resulted in sometimes over-long productions when short and snappy might have produced a better result. There were a couple of entries that tried too hard to make a complete story out of a limited concept, which inevitably results in too much padding. 

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June 1, 2013

The acceptance rate was high, as the judges wished to encourage works that showed promise, but maybe needed a little work to make them even stronger.

The standard of photography was generally excellent and most sound tracks were of a very good standard. Some sound mixes could have been improved to give smoother transitions between voice and music. Adding narration would have improved at least one sequence. This can add emotion and a personal touch.

Some entries had little variation in subject matter and therefore lacked progression.

Other entrants used too broad a brush to present their subjects when a more focussed subject selection would have been better. It's a compromise between covering too much and too little.

Some special effects were ineffective or too obvious and could have been left out or substituted with another way of dealing with the situation.

There were some excellent examples of animation but they were overlong. Editing those sequences down would have been very productive. Too much of a good thing is not a good thing.

Pans and zooms can be effective in engaging the audience. But remember to use these sparingly and only when appropriate.

Some sequences did not maintain a constant outer frame size and this was exacerbated by the use of zooms which clearly brought this to attention.

The use of inset images was at times overdone.

Too many wacky transitions in a production is something to be avoided. Fades and cuts are generally all that are needed. There are of course exceptions that call for the use of other transitions but they should fit with the subject matter or action. There were too many different transitions and typefaces used within some sequences.   In general, the simpler the treatment the better.

Some sequences got off subject. It's best to stay focussed on your main subject.

Too literal an interpretation of images when illustrating songs should be avoided. If there is a chorus, try not to repeat what you did the first time around.

Only a few sequences featured effective third images.

The most successful entries focused on concise storytelling, had good progression and stirred the emotions.

 

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AUDIO:

The following article was written by Bob Godfrey to help with your AV sound production.

 

April 10, 2013

The sound track on your AV is very important and quite often over looked as a poor sound track can make even the most exciting images appear very amateurish.

 Sound can be thought of in two different stages. Firstly there is the wild sound that you may record with your portable recorder when you are out taking your images, and the other is the sound that you add or mix when you are putting your sound track together.

 The disadvantage of your wild sound is that it doesn't always record as your ear heard it because the human ear is very clever and can pick out single sounds against the background. Unfortunately, your microphone cannot do this and records all sounds present. One of the solutions is to monitor the sound while recording with a good set of headphones - after all you don't take photos with your camera without looking through the viewfinder.

 So how do we improve our sound recordings? By using the correct microphones

 Microphones are designed to pick up sounds in certain ways and come in all sorts of quality and capability. Here are some types:

 The Omni-directional microphone which will pick up sound equally from a 360 degree circle around it is quite useful when placed amongst a group of people.

 The cardioid microphone will pick up sound mainly from the direction it is pointed and this is the microphone that would be most suitable for recording ambient sound.

 The super cardioid is similar to the cardioid with a much narrower field of direction. These are sometimes called shotgun microphones and the most common type of microphone for recording bird sounds and other bush sounds etc.

There are also other specialised microphones such as the radio microphone that could be placed close to your subject such as a bird perch or nest while you move away to make the recording and of course there are stereo microphones.

 For voice over recording I find it best to use a dynamic microphone designed to be used very close to the mouth and therefore cut out a lot of background noise. It's the type you see singers with and in most cases for our use they are inexpensive.

 If you are outside recording, wind can be quite a problem and the best solution is to use a wind sock, this is essentially a furry sock which slips over the microphone and reduces the wind noise without affecting the sound It does need to be acoustically transparent material which is why they are a little expensive.

 In general it is a good idea to get the microphone as close as possible to the subject. If you cannot get the microphone near the subject, try to raise it up on a pole with the microphone pointing at the subject. The further away from the sound source the more ambient sounds will be recorded, and if possible set the recording settings on your recorder to manual rather than auto - just like the P setting on your camera it works most of the time but sometimes needs a little tweaking.

 

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MORE FROM BOB GODFREY...

 

February 15, 2013 

Some tips on commentary in AV

 Most audiovisual makers find writing a commentary for an AV far more difficult than any other part of the production. As a result, most people would prefer not to put commentary on their AVs. It’s because of the audience that commentary is required - they need to have an understanding of what it is you want them to see and hear.

 A passive commentary could be formal and distant and this could result in a mental switch off by the audience. An active commentary is alive and happening and a lively choice of words and immediacy of the subject will have the audience feeling that he or she is actually involved in the story.

 Before any commentary is made it is important to know who your AV is going to be viewed by - so you need to know your audience and if it is an instructional AV - who it is aimed at? Are they experts in the field or armchair travellers looking at a travelogue.

 It doesn’t matter who is in the audience when AV is played you must attract and keep their attention, so the tone and delivery of the commentary is very important.

 When writing your commentary it is a good idea to assume that your audience is bright and intelligent and therefore does not need the commentary to state the obvious such as "the black horse is standing in the green paddock" when the image shows a black horse in a green paddock. Although sometimes it might be good to read out a difficult town name or sign that is shown in the AV.

 Very few people are able to deliver a commentary without sitting down and preparing it beforehand, adlibbing is a skill that very few people are good at, however with a modern audio editing program it is possible to correct sentences and words so an ad lib commentary could work quite well.

 Always try to remember that an AV should tell a story. Our AVs should never be a collection of random but attractive shots that say nothing and go nowhere. You should have a structure to the AV and the audience will enjoy watching it and have something to talk about later.

 For some people writing comes easy (not me) but most AV makers have to put a determined effort into stringing words together. That’s a bit tricky because most of us are able to hold a conversation, the difference of course is that there isn’t a second person to prompt further responses.

 Commentaries can be made after the AV has been put together. Watch the first part of it and ask yourself as if you were someone in the audience “what is happening here and where is it?” and write down your answer. Look at your answer and see if you can say it differently and write down what you want to say, read it a few times and if it sounds too uninteresting it needs rewriting.

 Once you have the first sentence or sentences written watch the next part of your AV and again ask "where and what and possibly why". This questioning will make you look for a way in which to give the audience the necessary answers.

 Always read the words out loud after you have written them down because the way you read out loud is not the same as the way you read silently to yourself. If your words do not sound natural you will probably stumble over them when you come to read them for recording. "Can’t" "won't" and other abbreviated words we use without thinking about should be used in your commentary in preference to "cannot" and "will not".

 Always read your script and if you sometimes make grammatical errors, for instance, you normally say a hotel and you know it should be an hotel, go with the one that you feel flows better, no one will notice - small grammatical errors are not so important unless for commercial use.

 Once you have written a few sentences give them a try with the AV playing but not recording them. Play the AV and as the first scenes for voiceover come along say your chosen words and check when you get to the end of the first group of sentences make sure that the sentence is not longer than the images allow, it’s better to have a bit of extra space before the next voiceover is required. If the sentences are too long see if you can reduce the number of words or maybe read them quicker or adjust the timing of the images, keep playing with it until you are happy with it before moving onto the next section.

 It is possible to give too much information, a way of gaining information is to collect brochures and leaflets along the way and write the information down in your own words appropriate to the images you are showing. The internet is another source of information. Read through everything and make notes then write it out again in your own words.

 Commentary can span the entire length of the AV or it can be a few words scattered through the AV. The amount of commentary to be given depends on the content of the AV, an instructional AV will need a great deal of commentary but a descriptive AV will not need as much because the pictures will tell the story.

 There is a danger the commentary is too short and that when the voice over is heard after several minutes of images with music, ambient sound and no voice, it makes the audience start with surprise.

 When you are ready to record position the microphone so that it is not too close to your mouth and make your first recording. Read the script and pause for at least one second after each sentence.

 Turn off the microphone and play the recording back to listen to the quality of it, if the microphone is too close to the mouth there may be popping sounds at the letter P and T.

 If the sound is too low it could be either you or the equipment. If it is you it could be because you are shy about being overheard, if it is the equipment the level may need to be raised. Microphone positioning is important and it’s best to use a microphone stand or bean bags on a table and position it and yourself so that the distance remains the same throughout the recording. The use of a dynamic microphone is more suitable for voiceover recording.

 As long as your voice sounds interesting the AV will also be interesting and the combination will entrance your audience. The commentary compliments the AV, the AV will be remembered which is more than might happen if there were no words at all.

 

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SOMETHING FUNNY!

Old Vicarage

 Shinfield, Berkshire

 9th January 1851

Sir,

 I beg to bring to your notice the serious harm likely to come from the increasing popularity of photography. Since Mr.Talbot and M. Daguerre perfected their processes a few years ago, there has been an alarming increase in the popularity of this unnatural pastime.

The stage has now been reached where permanent damage is likely to be inflicted on painting, engraving and the arts in general.

 

Already, I am informed, the fascinations of the photograph albums have had their effect on thousands of children who would be better employed in the pit or mill; and I can vouch unhappily for my own family circle that idleness and vanity are encouraged by the constant posing for portraits, and the subsequent posing over them in unhealthy crouching attitudes. This day, alas, I have been obliged to call my five daughters before me for reproof.

I beg to subscribe myself, Sir,

Your obedient servant,

Patrick Lawrence

 

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