Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Filming Fencing: the production of Fencing

I just felt that due to my POV of fencing, which is in stark contrast to Tom's, it would be useful to maintain my ignorant POV and remain a fly on the wall (or a fly in flight, as I was handheld with the camera) and just objectively absorb everything as an observer. 

Fencing is a short documentary and reflective wiki that I co-created with my colleague, Thomas Wiltshire, for our final year BA (Hons) documentary project. The project was orchestrated between October 2012 to April 2013. For a more detailed overview see Fencing: an examination of the sport and an exploration of the documentary medium.

Presented here are all the posts from the wiki that deal with the production and filming of the documentary. It is pretty self-explanatory each of the six shooting sessions is presented in its own section with details on the planning behind each shoot and any reflections drawn from it.

As we learnt while filming the documentary, the filming period acts as an additional research period in which you become much more involved with your subject and that involvement goes on to inform the overall shaping of the documentary and the way in which you approach it from a filmmaking perspective.

Introduction to the wiki production section

It should also be stated that Tom is was not always able to assist with the filming on the Thursday shoots as these coincide with his coaching and training commitments to the club. However, this is not to say that he did not done any filming on the Thursday sessions, as he assisted where he could. The only filming session Tom was unable to assist with was Shoot 2. Tom has also booked the entirety of shoots 5 and 6 off so he could be involved in all of the filming on those Thursdays.

A shoot had originally been schedule for the 28/01/2013. However, due to other work commitments and general fatigue this filming was moved back to the 31/01/2013.

At the conclusion of Shoot 6 Tom and Pete agreed to arrange an additional pick-up shoot if any additional material was needed. However, for the narrative structure they have decided on, they feel they have enough footage to satisfy a 6 minute documentary.

10/01/2013: Shoot 1 (Practice, Character Study)

Location: University of Bath, Flounders Hall

Time period: 18:30 - 21:00

The primary objective of this first shoot was to capture all the footage needed for the character study. However, it was also an opportunity to practice at filming the Bath Sword Club. As Tom had to coach and practice on this night the organisation of the filming was very precise and done to a strict itinerary.

Character Study shot list 

  • Tim Interview. 
  • One on one coaching with Tim Footage of coaching 
  • The children warming up with Tim. 
  • Tim fencing. 
  • General footage of the Bath Sword Club. 

Tim had agreed to come in twenty minutes earlier to film his interview. Then when his student arrived the filming of the one-on-one coaching was conducted. The remainder of the filming was done by Pete, as Tom had to see to his usual fencing duties.

Pete's Approach

As I more distanced to the subject of fencing, my approach with this first filming session was to be very observant of everything that was happening around me but to remain very distant from it. Therefore, unless someone actively engaged me in conversation, I didn't make any effort to interact with the members. 

This wasn't because I wanted to be antisocial I just felt that due to my POV of fencing, which is in stark contrast to Tom's, it would be useful to maintain my ignorant POV and remain a fly on the wall (or a fly in flight, as I was handheld with the camera) and just objectively absorb everything as an observer. 

Compared to Tom's POV, my position as an observer is much closer to the audience's POV and by actively maintaining that POV the audience remains very much a presence in our process of making the documentary.

This also allowed me to test the boundaries, so to speak. I had only been there once, this was the first time I had done any filming of the club and I wanted to see how the members would react. If there were going to be problems then it was better to get them sorted early on. Fortunately, there were no problems, everyone just let me get on with it.

I also made a very conscious effort to identify as many potential problems as I could, because I really didn't want to be fixing them in postproduction. Therefore, other things I tested were:
  • The 417 microphone in Flouders Hall in different spatial locations. 
  • The smaller external microphone that comes with the NX5. 
  • Using the camera on the tripod. 
  • Using the camera handheld. 
  • Trying the different handheld image smoothing options in the NX5s menu. 
  • Comfortably how close I could get to someone while they were fencing.

While I was filming the one-on-one coaching with Tom the impracticality with filming fast moving subjects became apparent as we very quickly abandoned the tripod and went handheld. Tom and myself are very split on the tripod, he very much wants to use it has much as possible to main a smooth and steady look; whereas I am more in favour of handheld because you become the camera and you can much easily capture anything that occurs in an organic fashion. 

Also, as I discovered when I was filming on my own, moving the tripod from A to B gets to be very cumbersome after a while. My thinking was if I'm having problems with it now then I'm going to have more in future so I should start practicing handheld. Overall I found it easier. 

I had read that with handheld you should slightly bend your knees to better absorb the movement of the body and maintain a smooth and steady image. It took me a while to get used to that because it feels very strange but gradually the logic of it became apparent. Other issues encountered:

  • Even with the NX5 being slightly lighter than the Z1 because of the unusual position I have to keep my arm in it inevitably starts to ache. However, I found that stopping every 5 - 10 minutes to have a stretch would take care of this. 
  • Loss of situational awareness. Obviously If I have my none-viewfinder eye shut and have the headphones on the only things I can see and hear is what the camera sees and hears. This can be a bit daunting when you have to move amongst people who are actively attacking each other. This is where the second person comes in handy because they can guide; however, I had to make do with guessing as best I could. I was concerned that if I got to close to a couple who were fencing that I might get my none-viewfinder eye poked out, but Tom later assured that this is incredibly rare and advised that I stay about a meter away.

Generally, I tried to identify as many of the logistical problems as I could because one of the great things about having organised some many different filming sessions is you have time to iron out the problems and get the best possible footage you can get. 

The only footage I forgot to get was the children warming up and that was because I was absolutely gobsmacked when 60+ children came swarming into the sports hall! However, this wasn't a huge problem because we had plenty of other filming sessions to capture this footage.

17/01/2013: Shoot 2 (General footage)

Location: University of Bath, STV (Student Training Village)

Time: 19:00 - 22:00

As this was a Thursday session Tom was not able to assist with the filming but the shot list had been agreed on previously by Tom and Pete.

Tom and Pete had agreed to focus primarily on capturing footage of the children.

Shot list: 
  • 19:00 - Warm-up 
  • 19:30 - Footwork 
  • 19:45 - Putting kit on 
  • 20:00 - 22:00 Individual and onmass fencing.

Pete's Approach

This shoot was really taking everything we had learnt from the initial practice shoot and to put it into practice.

However, as I hadn't been in the STV before I also treated this shoot as a kind of practice shoot again, because I didn't know what logistical problems I was going to experience. Fortunately, there were not many and as the photo above demonstrates the only real problem was with space and having to film around the fencers. However, this wasn't too problematic once I had about an hour practising at it.

Ultimately, I was on my own for this shoot and the thought of capturing footage of children can seem a little daunting when their parents are in attendance. Fortunately, I had done something similar in the Summer for BIME (see Pete’s research) where I had to capture footage of young, disabled children using the products that BIME produces at a public event, their parents were also in attendance.

The BIME event was actually the first public filming I had done. I hated it at the time because I felt incredibly uncomfortable. In hindsight, though, I figure that experience has set me for life because if I can successfully film young disabled children without any problems from their parents then what else can I possibly worry about filming.

Therefore, filming the children didn’t really faze me so I just got on with it. However, the only piece of footage I refrained from capturing was the children putting their fencing kit on. Previously, when we had discussed the planning for the shoot I had agreed with Tom that I should film this from a distance and use the zoom.

That way it wouldn't look so bad in their parents eyes. However, Tom had said this with the Flounders Hall location in his mind where the kids get changed in the sports hall so you have plenty of space to film from a distance. In the STV they went out into the entrance area which is vastly smaller and would not have allowed me to film from a distance.

I just didn’t feel comfortable following the kids out into a small room and filming them up close, so I refrained altogether. After all we did have additional shoots scheduled to take place in Flounders Hall so we could just has easily get the footage then.

As I did with practice shoot my approach with this shoot was to remain the outsider and just observe and capture things as they happened: the fly in flight. Certainly, this time around I enjoyed it more because I felt less self-conscious.

With this second shoot I started to become aware of a force that would go on to plague both myself and Tom in the successive shoots: fatigue. I have so much work at the moment I work all day, all week (including the weekend) and by the time I’ve hauled the equipment up to the University of Bath (I don’t drive) I have to do filming between 19:00 and 22:00 and it is exhausting!

I know Tom works as hard as me AND he has a job AND he trains for fencing, so I can only imagine how he feels. However, I started to feel it on this night. It was a disadvantage because I found it harder to concentrate on what I was doing but it had an advantage because it reduced the amount of footage I shot.

I do have a tendency to overshoot, the final video I made for BIME (see research) was a 2 minute video and I shot over 4 hours worth of footage for it!

Other than these main points, I captured everything we had agreed upon and really just refined the approach I had adopted in the practice shoot.

21/01/2013: Shoot 3 (interviews: board, general footage)

Location: University of Bath, STV (Student Training Village)

Tim: 19:00 - 20:30

Tom had a play with the camera and filmed some symbolic artistic shots.

Tom conducted some Interviews while Pete filmed.

While documentaries are often considered by popular opinion to be realms of fact and detail. The best often include a sense of cinematography which appeals to both hemispheres of the brain, in order to better convey the message.

With that in mind, I have in this session put together some choreographed, artificial sequences to add an artistic flavour to the final work.

In addition to this we decided to experiment with our interviewing technique. This was sparked by Andy's natural engagement with the camera (see the pic. below). Pete was filming and I was asking the questions, but I did not indicate that I desired his eye contact and after briefing him on the questions he just turned to the camera and began the answers.

AndrĂ¡s Barnemisza, fencing coach

It was quite unprecedented and exciting, but after experimenting with such a style for the second time with Mike (below). It occurred to me that few of the people we would go on to talk to were comfortable enough in front of the camera to conduct an interview without the interviewer's eye contact encouraging them.

Nevertheless these two interviews will serve to vary the impact and relationship we have with our audience. Contributing to a diverse and intriguing final product.

This shooting session brought home a rather vexing reality to Pete.

That while Bath Sword is one of the largest fencing clubs in the country, there will always be evenings where the attendance numbers are very low. Whether that is as a result of weather or familial engagements. I was aware this would happen due to my long experience coaching there, it was initially disappointing, but we rallied very quickly.

Deciding that despite having less impressive numbers, that meant we could take more time to better assess our environment, converse with the attendees in more detail and plan ahead in much greater detail than usual for the following shoots.

24/01/2013: Shoot 4 (Interviews: Coaches & Members, General Footage)

Location: STV

Time: 19:00 - 22:00

Tom did the filming for the first half of this shoot and Pete did the filming for the second half.

This shoot was divided up as follows: 
  • Tom filming the children. Pete suggested that Tom have a go at capturing some footage of the children, as it had only been Pete’s POV capturing them thus far. 
  • Interviews with some of the coaches/board. Pete and Tom did this together. 
  • Pete capturing physical differences of fencers: young, old, male, female, tall, short, fat, thin, etc. Therefore, they could visually bring out the fact that fencing is a universal sport that anybody can participate in. 
  • Pete conducting and capturing interviews with members of the Bath Sword Club. Again focusing on physical differences. 

Questions for Coaches and Board

  1. Why do you coach?
  2. What is it that attracts you to fencing?
  3. What are the challenges facing fencing today?
  4. How would you rate the Bath Sword Club's contribution to fencing?

Professor Sue Benney, fencing coach

Gillian Aghajan, board member & coach

Questions for club members
  1. What is your name and what is your occupation?
  2. What is it that makes fencing popular?
  3. What are the challenges facing fencing?

Valerie Young, Club member

Marcus Cindomau, Club member

Robin Davenport, Club member

Pete's Approach

I suggested Tom capture some footage of the children because he is a fencer after all and will focus in on things that I would miss. By letting him capture some footage of the children we would be giving ourselves a greater variety of footage to choose from in the edit. 

The interviews that we conducted with Gillian and Sue we tried to give present an air of professionalism that would make their footage stand out and, therefore, make them visually appear official and the authority on the subject of fencing. To this end we had the camera on the tripod, we had the coaches sat down with the children warming up in the background and we used the radio mic.

Tom conducted the interviews while I did the recording and kept and ear on the sound. While Tom was conducting the interview he would always ask me if I had anything I would like to ask. I usually start worrying when he asks this because I always want to push the boat out further. But with Gillian I was very precise when I asked her to elaborate on point she had made about the type of children who take up fencing. 

The whole subject of why children take up fencing fascinates me because I can't really get my head around it. Yes, Tom explained that if you offer a child an opportunity to hit someone with a sword they're not going to refuse (as Tim himself said in the Character Study). But I couldn't get my head around why a child would stick with it. 

Gillian basically explained that the children who take up fencing are usually very smart and socially inept children; she even compared them to chess players and this got my head going because suddenly I saw more clearly the kind of mental discipline that was required for fencing. 

It's not just about the physically gratification but about discipline and focus it affords a person and I'm glad I asked Gillian this because it elaborates on the motivations of fencing, which is completely relevant to the perceptions of it.

I grabbed footage of physical differences where I could and I attempted to represent this with the interview subjects I selected. I know people can get nervous about doing interviews, interviewers and interviewees. However, I had done a day’s worth of going up to people and asking them for an interview during the summer while I was filming at the Bath Institute of Medical Engineering. I didn't encounter any problems and everyone I asked was happy to participate.

There was a particular piece of footage I was glad I captured; it was a match between an old chap (Robin Davenport, who I also interviewed) and a young chap. As I was filming it I began to notice very quickly it was playing out something Tim had spoken about when we interviewed him for the character study - how experience is a major advantage in fencing and how you can see this in older fencers. 

Indeed, Davenport was obliterating the younger chap who was becoming more and more annoyed as a result; in fact, he wouldn't even let me interview him after the match. That part of Tim's interview had been something I had wanted to use in the character study because for me It summed up one of fencing's key strengths but I didn't end up using it because I didn't have the visuals to back it up. However, that I do have the visuals maybe I can go back and re-edit the character study or use this particular material in the main documentary.

My approach shifted in this shoot because I became less of an outsider now that I was actively interacting with the members and subject matter. I didn't mind this and I knew it was always going to happen once I started interviewing, I'm just glad I had an opportunity in the practice shoot and shoot 2 to remain the outsider and capture as a fly in flight.

However, my perspective definitely shifted in this shoot and I found after I had interviewed the coaches and the members that I felt more attached and even protective towards fencing because I had heard first-hand how highly some people regard it. I also felt much less ignorant towards it.

Again, the fatigue was there during the shoot but I found as long as I kept moving and interviewing I could very easily stay on task.

31/01/2013: Shoot 5 (Interviews: Parents & Coaches, General Footage)

Location: University of Bath, Flounders Hall

Time: 19:00 - 22:00

In this session Tom is able to film with Pete because he has declined to train with the club for the sake of getting as much quality footage as possible.

It was incredibly satisfying to work in an environment I'm so at home in and really attack some of the interviews with Pete as a well-oiled team.

With that in mind here is the planned shot list for Thursday night:

Interviews: (6 interviews have already been shot by this point, but during this evening we intend to cover the vast majority of the rest)


  1. Parents & Coaches 
  2. Why do you think fencing is so popular? 
  3. What is the specific attraction to the young...and the old? 

Enthusiastic Children:

  1. Kids and Parents 
  2. why do you like fencing? 
  3. how did your son / daughter get into fencing? 
  4. who enjoys fencing the most? 

Variety of People:

  1. what do you do in real life? (recreational) 
  2. why do you fence full time? (professionals) 


Kate Williams, Parent

Ali and Rob Parry, Parent & Grandparent

Josef Harle, Parent

Alexa Gibson and Heidi Kaye, Parents

Rosie Dejeu Castang, Parent

Dennis Hunt, fencing coach

Pete's Approach

The fatigue was at an all-time high on this one. I said to Tom I was so tired I felt intoxicated and I know Tom was feeling similar. To this end, we were all over the place during this shoot.

We started by capturing some interviews of parents with me filming and with Tom conducting the interview. However, we very quickly swapped roles because I found I could not concentrate on the filming and I don't think Tom was very comfortable with going up to random parents. I actually found the process of interacting with the parents kept me awake and on task; as well as giving Tom a chance to capture some interviews via his POV through the camera.

As I said with the previous shoot, due to actually interacting with the subject matter, via interviewing, my approach to the subject had changed and this shoot really just extended that. What I found with interviewing a lot of the parents who don't do fencing themselves is they have a similar POV to me or at least as it exists now. Initially I remained the ignorant outsider, then I moved towards interacting with the subject (interviewing the coaches and members) became slightly more knowledgeable with it and now with the parents I almost have the same amount of knowledge as they do.

Then Tom went around and captured some general footage. I helped were I could but mostly I just took photos.

We also managed to capture another interview with one of the coaches.

Tom says we were a well-oiled team during this shoot, but I would disagree. Overall, we were very tired and perhaps weren't as precise as we could have been, but we still managed to achieve everything we had planned to do.

07/02/2013: Shoot 6 (Interviews: coach & member, general footage, shooting outside the box)

Location: University of Bath, Flounders Hall

Time: 19:00 - 22:00

In this final shoot Tom and Pete captured everything they hadn't already captured or were lacking. However, they largely used it as an opportunity to grab material that they hadn't plan for but which might be useful in the edit. The incentive behind this final shoot was: what can we get that we might need in the edit.

At the conclusion of this shoot Tom and Pete agreed to arrange an additional pick-up shoot if any additional material was needed. However, for the narrative structure they have decided upon they feel they have enough footage to satisfy a 6 minute documentary.

Nathaniel David Lewis (Nate), fencing coach

Philip Marsh, fencer

Pete's Perspective

In all of these shoot reports I have highlighted the fatigue experienced by myself and Tom. Due to our poor performance in the previous shoot, I had suggested to Tom that we meet up a bit earlier to get ourselves in order before we started shooting. While we were extremely tired, we were very fortunate in that there was a relatively low turnout at the fencing club. From a perspective of the material we needed to capture it essentially reduced our options but it was meant there was less of a burden on each of us and we could just take our time.

I took this photo to see if I looked as tired as I felt. I did.

We agreed that we needed to get an interview with another coach, we should get some footage of the children changing into their kits and just to try to capture anything that occurred to us that might be worth having, even if we hadn't agreed on it previously. I liked this because now that we had already got everything we already needed we could afford to think out of the box, be more spontaneous and take on a slightly different aesthetic.

Shooting outside the box so to speak.

This was helped by the fact that Tom had a PD 175 with him which he could shoot on while I filmed on the NX5, so we were free to do our own things.

Something I captured quite a bit of were the parents either sit on the side lines looking absolutely bored or sit on the side-lines reading a book or sit on the side lines on their laptop. It's rare to see a parent who is actually watching their child fence. This was something I spotted very early on and something I'm keen to include in the eventual documentary.

I did most of my filming sat down with the tripod - that is how tired I was.

As Tom didn't have a mic kit and because he was going mobile I gave him the external NX5 mic to use and I used the K6. I put it on the floor just in front of the NX5.

Something else I captured was footage of the ceiling. Why? Well, again this was something I had noticed previously the fact that Flounders Hall is falling apart and this especially appeals to my realist sensibility. Maybe we can use symbolism of that: fencing endures while its surrondings crumble.


Tom really orchestrated these. I just composed the shot, operated the camera and kept my ear on the sound. 

I didn't feel there was anything further we culd divulge from the interviewees.

The final thing we shot was a fencing match, which we did with both cameras. I filmed on the ground looking up and Tom filmed looking down. I hope I got some good footage, but I was pretty dead by this point.

With the filming done, we were ready to undertake the adventure of editing the documentary and of re-figuring out the fencing documentary we were creating. The editing log that we updated as the editing progressed is a very detailed examination of the documentary editing process...

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Focusing Fencing: the preproduction of Fencing

As will be revealed in the Documentary, Bath Sword is a incredibly influential fencing club in this part of the country. It boasts the largest number of members in the west of England, with a program designed specifically to accommodate both professional and recreational fencers.

Fencing is a short documentary and reflective wiki that I co-created with my colleague, Thomas Wiltshire, for our final year BA (Hons) documentary project. The project was orchestrated between October 2012 to April 2013. For a more detailed overview see Fencing: an examination of the sport and an exploration of the documentary medium.

Presented here are all the posts from the wiki that deal with the preproduction concerns of the fencing documentary. I say "preproduction" in the broadest sense, because, as you'll see from reading what is collected here, some of the material is from the production period and this should really illustrate the constantly evolving back-and-forth nature of documentary making. 

Devoting a great deal of time and effort to your preproduction period is vitally essentially if you want to produce a strong result; as you'll see, our preproduction period enabled us to iron out many of the kinks in the project.

Project Overview, as outlined by Tom

Below is the initial project overview we outlined during preproduction in preparation for filming.

The venue closest to Bath Spa University, where anyone can try and take up fencing is Bath Sword Club.

It meets twice a week in the evenings on Monday and Thursday, with a kids session followed by an adult class.

I train and coach fencing at Bath Sword regularly and have a large number of good friends there.

A factor which has been paramount in making permissions, access and general ease of filming run far smoother than could possibly have been imagined.

I also fence every week in Bristol. However, the fencers there are far more competitive than Bath and do not necessarily excel in the qualities we most want to project (the notion of recreational fencing for anyone).

Nevertheless, if our minds change later in the production process the opportunity to film in Bristol will never go away.

As will be revealed in the Documentary, Bath Sword is a incredibly influential fencing club in this part of the country. It boasts the largest number of members in the west of England, with a program designed specifically to accommodate both professional and recreational fencers. With specific focus on the younger children who decide they would like to take up the sport. To accommodate such an interest at a young age there is a wealth of coaching staff and a veritable warehouse of equipment which can be borrowed by anyone. You are unlikely to find a better ambassador for fencing than Bath Sword Club in the entire country.


An examination of Fencing as a sport and a hobby as it exists in the modern idiom.

Combating assumptions about elitism and identifying challenges to both professionals & amateurs.

Culminating in a thoroughly entertaining, charming and interesting experience which will leave the viewer with a respect and admiration for a sport which truly deserves it.

Key topics of discussion which will be covered in interviews and expressed in visuals:


Why do you do fencing?

Will you keep fencing in the future?

26/02/2013 - Tom, over the course of our filming we have naturally encountered some resistance from a couple of the parents. With this in mind we took the decision not to interview the children and use visuals to express the answers to the questions we would have asked them. There is of course still time at this early stage to go back and pick out a few kids and there is a likelihood of that happening but we would like to get a first draft of our edit done first. To see if it would be entirely necessary.


Why do you coach?

Threats to modern fencing, difficulties, obstacles etc?

Changes in fencing in recent history?


What have you learnt from doing fencing?

Why at your age did you take up fencing?

What do you enjoy about fencing?


Whose idea was it for your child to fence?

How did they start?

Narrative Structure and Sequences

Preliminary plan


Considering engaging a female narrator to describe the initial stages of the introduction. It would make an interesting contrast to the common misconception that fencing is a sport almost exclusively dominated by men.

Visuals of fencing as an elite sport. The best squaring off against one another under dramatic lighting, stylised post production effects and varying degrees of speed.

Quick, fast, aggressive editing to inject a sense of pace.

Cut to...

Warm up - young and old jogging and loosening up for exercise in a large sports hall. Very slow and pedestrian speed compared to the previous footage.

Cut to...

Interviews about how much individuals enjoy fencing (without mentioning the sport directly by name).

Persisting with momentary disbelief on behalf of the viewer that these thoroughly unprofessional people could never be engaging in the elite sport they just witnessed. 

This next section has a slightly faster pace to than the one before.

Cut to...

Footwork - practised by young and old at the direction of a coach. 

The notion that fencing is popular among these people steadily starts to dawn.

The speeds of cutting increases again by a similar factor.

Cut to...

Young and old in full kit: walking around the hall, facing one another, no fencing as of yet.

At this moment the incline of pace is broken. There is an expectant lull.

Cut to...

Everyone fencing. The cutting and speed of action is now far more aggressive and fast than in the previous shots. Building up to a climax.

1st half of the middle

Changing assumptions

  • Interviews -> 1 long, minimum of 3 short, parents & coaches. 
  • Visuals -> high angle (balcony overlooking sports hall), multiple tracking shots, on mass warm up & footwork.
Enthusiastic Children: 
  • Interviews -> very large number of short statements by kids, several longer observations made by parents & coaches 
  • Visuals -> close ups of happy, smiling faces. Eye level with kids, showing them both fencing and refereeing, the vast number of children running across the hall in stark comparison to the parents reading books and playing on ipads around the walls.

Variety of People:
  • Interviews -> ask people what they do in real life, contrast this to a slighlty longer interview with people who have fencing as a real career.
  • Visuals -> montage of each person after they state their job, contrast to the fencers again

Recreational Sport: 
  • Interviews -> focus on older generations or veterans (40 & over) talking about how much fun fencing is, perhaps collect together specific words which different people repeat time and again to create a montage. Finishing with one of the oldest member of the club sitting next to the youngest saying why they like fencing.

26/02/2013 - Tom:

Since this time our narrative has shifted and changed to suit the circumstances and time constraints we encountered.

The formula now is to take some of the old features and re-arrange them:

The introduciton will remain the same.

It will then be followed by two pieces: the popularity of fencing and fencing as a recreational sport.

The second half will begin with a look at the enthusiasm of the children fencing. Followed by an observation on the variety of people who fence.

Finally culminating in a take on the problems which modern fencers encounter, threats to the sport's way of life.

Pete and I have not yet decided on a final theme for our conclusion but rest assured it will be magnificent.

07/01/2013: Location Recce

Locations: Flounders Hall & the STV

Time: 19:00 - 20:00

As Tom already frequents these locations on a weekly basis he arranged for Pete to come up and have a look so that they could collaboratively assess the locations. This was done to assess their suitability for filming and to generate further ideas for the documentary.

Of the two locations, Flounders Hall was the only one they actually went inside and assessed (as Pete didn't have a pass, gaining access would have been problematic). However, they did have a look at the STV's entrance hall and the through the observations windows into its various sports halls. This gave Pete an idea of the space and lighting they would have to work with.

Detailed below are the main points of discussion that we raised.


Tom had cited the lighting of Flounders Hall as being potentially problematic.

Flounders Hall is completely flooded with the sickly orange hue of the lighting. It doesn't help that the floors are reflective and the walls are of a similar colour!

However, Pete said that if there were problems with white balancing the camera then they could always colour correct in postproduction.

Tom even pointed out that the visual impression of the dingy quality of Flounders Hall could be contrasted with the pristine quality of the STV and we could incorporate this into our design for the narrative we wanted to tell about fencing - use the two different visual impressions to highlight two different aspects of the subject.


Again this was something that Tom had already given some prior thought. However, Pete was adamant that they speak to Rich Wood to insure they got the right mic for the locations so that they didn't spend extra time during postproduction fixing the sound. 


As the Bath Sword Club were using the location it gave Tom the opportunity to introduce Pete to the hierarchial figures of the Sword Club. This is also where permissions to film the Sword Club and assemble a documentary were obtained.

Tim - Character Study

Likewise with the hierarchical figures, Tom was able to introduce Pete to Tim and secure his permission to make a character study based around him.

Filming locations

The filming of the Bath Sword Club is taking place in two locations at the University of Bath.

Founders Hall

Aside from the lighting which the NX5 struggles to white balance against, this location has lots of space to operate in, a balcony to film from and pretty good acoustics.


As editing begins I'm becoming more and more aware of the advantages the difference in lighting yields.

It can - and most likely will - be employed to both emphasise and enhance certain scenes which bare association with a deep, warm colour palette.

Making the contrast in pigmentation - developed between the Founders Hall and the STV - provide a potentially dramatic and captivating dialogue between visuals and interviews in the editing choices.

The lighting isn't a problem in the STV, the acoustics are fine and there is enough room to film in. The only real problem is that the fencing club uses two different sports halls which means you can miss something interesting in one hall while you're filming in the other.


Sony HRX-NX5 Camcorder Kit

Tom and Pete decided to use the NX5 due to its overall similarity to the Sony Z1 and mainly because it captures straight to scratch disk which eliminates the need to log and capture from a mini DV tape.

While their experiences of operating the NX5 have been largely without fault, they have encountered some problems with the log and transfer process for importing the digital files from the scratch disk.

Sony PD 175

As Tom had booked out a PD 175 for another project, he decided to use this in addition to the NX5. 

The PD15 did create aspect ratio problems but those complications have been easily bypassed in the early stages of the editing process.

Having a second recording of the skilled fencing bout was absolutely necessary. It is actually developing its own interesting solution, because it represents a type of footage, which in comparison to 1080i, looks quite archaic. Just like a large number of contemporary opinions about fencing itself.

Radio Microphone

The radio mic has been used when interviewing, as it provides very clear sound because it is attached to the interviewees. However, most of the shorter interviews have been done with the NX5 external microphone.

I cannot even begin to adequately express the praise necessary for this piece of kit. In two locations where sound quality is constantly compromised by shouting children, clashing swords, buzzers and quite frankly sonorous walls they were a complete life saver for some of the more shy interviewees.

NX5 External Microphone

Essentially a miniature version of a 416 or K6, this microphone attaches to the NX5 and still captures a very large sound field that sounds nearly as good as anything the 416 or K6 would capture. For this reason the external microphone has proven to be the dominant microphone used throughout the shoots. It has even been used to capture the audio for some of the shorter interviews, Tom and Pete have found that if the interviewee is close enough the microphone is able to clearly pick them up.

The NX5 with the NX5 external microphone attached.

416 Microphone Microphone Kit

Rich Wood suggested this microphone after the issues with acoustics in Flounders Hall were explained to him. It was used while filming the one-on-one coaching in the character study. However, it was very quickly abandoned due to difficulty with using it when filming solo and generally be a nuisance in regards to the cables when the camera is handheld and in motion. However, it was retained for shoot 2 in case the NX5 external microphone failed.

K6 Boom Microphone Kit

The K6's overall similarity to the 416 necessitated it being booked out when the 416 became unavailable. It was retained as a back-up for shoots 3 - 6.

Notice the size difference between the K6 (top) and the NX5 external microphone (bottom).

Manfrotto Tripod

This has been used for its wide functionality for a variety of camera moves and its sturdy form which enables it to sit quite firmly in one position. While it has been used throughout all the shoots, it hasn't been employed with every shot. Both Tom and (especially) Pete have expressed irritation with the time and energy that is wasted with moving and readjusting the tripod.


This was retained in case it was needed to assist with either the K6 or 416. Ultimately, it wasn't used.

High Visibility Jacket

Pete has been wearing one of these as an extra means of reassurance through the shoots and also because he is less familiar to the members of the fencing club.

After all this research and preparation we were surprised to find that in documentary making the filming period also acts as an additional research and adjustment period...