Since the expository type of documentary film was chosen for the main part of the film, there were a number of issues related to the narrator, subject coverage and the selection of questions and topics for interview. First of all, it was necessary to ensure that the subject of ghost bikes was properly explained and extensively covered during the film. Secondly, it was necessary to present an objective and unbiased view on the chosen topic, to the best possible extent. Accuracy of historical facts and correct use of inferences and hypotheses (e.g. that ghost bikes might prevent people from bicycling) should be maintained, and this was a significant problem, because the filmmaker and narrator had own view on this phenomenon, and it was difficult to adopt an objective position.
In addition to this, there was a certain clash between the actual reflection of events and the format of the film: it was necessary to present the film to the audience and to make it exciting and engaging, and at the same time maintain accuracy and not to add personal reflections of filmmakers in the process. To create this effect, the team went to different places in London to process the filming, and interacted with different people. From this point of view, live opinions and emotions of the respondents were of great help, because the actual picture and development of the cultural tradition were shown both objectively (the narrator and filmmaker side), and subjectively (interviews with cyclists, drivers and random people on the street).
The inclusion of observation mode into the main expository approach has also helped improve objectivity of the film, and also added depth to the documentary, because the viewers were given space to develop their own perception of the situation, and observe the process themselves.
One more significant issue was the assemblage and montage of the film: although there were many exciting interviews, life situations and comments, it was necessary to assemble them into one whole. For observational and expository modes, fragments of reality and rapid changes of narration are inappropriate, so one of the greatest challenges was to select the best matching episodes and build them into one story. The selection of sound and film assemblage occupied a significant part of filmmaking time. The challenges and solutions selected for film processing are described in the next section.
5. Software choice and film processing
For assembling the film, processing it, editing images and adding sounds, the choice of professional software was one of the most important challenges. Three programs were selected as potential choice: CyberLink Power Direct, Adobe Premiere Pro, and Final Cut Pro. Two first software products work on Windows platform; Cyberlink Power Direct is the most popular Windows product among professional filmmakers, according to the analysis held in 2012 (Top Ten Reviews, 2012). The program is able to run smoothly on almost any computer because of its innovative True Velocity technology. The program has a variety of tools for video editing, a vast number of effects, and expanded possibilities of audio and photo editing.
Adobe Premiere Pro has lower speed of rendering, compared to CyberLink Power Direct, but it is compatible with other Adobe products for working with audios and images, and its interface is more convenient for beginners. The number of special effects is compatible with that of the CyberLink Power Direct, but editing and export abilities are less diverse.
Final Cut Pro is a professional editing software for MAC OS X, which allows to work with a variety of formats, effects, and is very popular among independent filmmakers: according to the survey held in 2007, about 49% of US professional editing market belonged to Final Cut Pro (Creative Planet Network, 2008). Since that time, the popularity of this software among Mac users has increased even more. Highly useful features of this program, such as advanced correction of color/images, and sound, wireframe animation, editing of images sent from multiple cameras, etc. These advantages and the fact that the largest part of the command had Mac computers convinced the team to make the choice in favor of Final Cut Pro.
There were a number of issues during processing, which required additional research on filmmaking and on the effective use of Final Cut Pro. In particular, the team had to research the idea of de-interlacing and apply it to the parts of the film. Filters and color correction had to be used to achieve film-like contrast of the documentary; noise filters and video generators were applied to link the sections of the video. Specific attention has been paid to the use of sound in the film, and in particular to the choice of sound effects and important alignment between video effects and sound (Rosenthal, 2007: 255). Sound levels were adjusted, and for several scenes, audio tracks from different camera needed synchronization. Several features of Soundtrack Pro, an additional tool which comes with Final Cut Pro, were used to add sound effects in the most impressive parts of the documentary. The process of fill assembling required significant technical skills and deep understanding of the film structure as well as software features.
The topic selected for the documentary film was the phenomenon of ghost bikes as well as its positive and negative effects on the society. The modes of filming chosen for this project were expository and observational mode; the former allowed to deliver the information to the audience, and describe the dynamics of the phenomenon, and the latter allowed to give more space for viewers’ reflection and for developing own opinion on the subject.
Several theoretical and practical issues were overcome during the filming process, starting with ethical issues of observational mode of filming documentaries, and the alignment between the filmed moments and structure of the narration in the scenario, ending with technical issues such as availability of places for filming, lighting conditions, and locations of ghost bikes in London.
The resulting documentary is built on the balance between expository and observational approach, and provides a lot of information for viewer’s critical consideration, thus performing informative and educational role. The film drives attention to the issues of road security, and shows how new cultural traditions of the humanity helps society address these problems.