Mini Project 3: Alphabet Image Keyboard

The alphabet picture photography project was based around going out and finding natural or manmade objects that resembled the English alphabet. Me and Lydia went out together to try and find some letters, we went to many different locations, including parks, urban and wooded areas. It took us two trips to compile a collection of every letter in the alphabet. At first I found this task enjoyable as it was a nice day and there were a lot of things that looked like letters to take pictures of, though as we collected more numbers the list got shorter and it became much more exhausting to firstly find new locations that we hadn’t been to and secondly to get the letters we had left. There were also a lot of letters that were easier to find than others, such as E. I found myself taking pictures of the same letters but not being able to find much harder ones such as B, N, P and R. In the end we both managed to get all of the letters between us, we actually had both got mostly different letters, except for a few exceptions, which we exchanged. Working in pairs definitely made it easier to find all the letters and decide on good locations to search for them because having two people looking for the letters meant that we had an extra pair of eyes to find something that one person might have missed.

letters

This is a collection of the letters that I found, I have put them on to a keyboard because this is a good representation of digital media. I did this by resizing all of the images and scaling them down to the size of the keys, I then used the eraser tool to erase the corners to make them rounded. I had to crop some of my images first to take out any unwanted background footage that made the letters harder to recognize, though generally most of the pictures looked like letters already as my intention was to make sure that the shapes strongly resembled letters so I was taking this into consideration whilst compositing the photographs. In some of the photographs I had to position myself inline with the object so that the image wasn’t at an angle because this made it less clear.

I would like to pursue this idea further and do something creative with the letters.

Mini Project 2: Flash Animation

For my flash project I designed an octopus spinning around on a rotating stick. The design also included music that I made on Garageband. This design attempt was completely spontaneous as I had never previously used Flash so the interface was new to me and I felt too uncomfortable to formulate an idea beforehand as I wasn’t sure what to expect from the program. I found that Flash was enjoyable to experiment with, after about half an hour of being introduced to it I had created the simple animation of a man who had circular eyes, which changed colour, (http://www.lukemonetdesigns.com/flash/man.html) I found early on that it was extremely fun to create somewhat psychedelic and obscure animations on the program.

For my main animation I accidently created the music first because I was messing around on Garageband and anytime I’m near a music program or instrument I have the tendency to start playing something, this turned out to be a happy accident because I wrote the music that I used for the animation. I wasn’t supposed to write the music first as I didn’t think that the music was the most important part of the project. I firstly used one of the drum kit loops that are provided in Garageband, I then spent an hour or so messing around on the keyboard (using the ‘musical typing’ option in Garageband which allows you to play music on a computer keyboard). After I had an idea of what I was going to do from improvising I wrote the 15 second piece, I used the Garageband presets ‘future flute’ and ‘tight synth bass’ for the keyboard sound. I also used pitch bend and the modulator that made the music what I would describe as more wonky. The music turned out quite psychedelic and also had elements of 8 bit music from games. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMsR83Iu1ck)

I created an octopus because it was the first idea that came to me and at the moment I have been drawing a lot of animals on paper so it was probably something to do with that. I made the octopus look like it was spinning around by moving the position of its face by one frame at a time until it came back around to its original position. Because I was so focused on creating a spinning octopus I didn’t notice that I had only used one half of the workspace. I filled the empty space by including another octopus in the animation. After this I felt that the background was a bit empty and the animation looked a bit bare as the octopuses had no colour. I didn’t really want to go through the exasperating process of couloring in each octopus frame by frame so I decided that I would create a growing circular background using different coloured circles much like I had done with my practice animation. (http://dakar.bournemouth.ac.uk/~sperkins/35mm/2013/)

After some feedback I decided to get rid of the colours and focus on trying something else. I attempted to make the second octopus do something different from the first and move up the pole vertically, this didn’t work all too well as I felt that this was too confusing for the eyes as the octopuses were doing two completely different things, too much was happening and there was no unity or balance. (http://www.lukemonetdesigns.com/flash/octopus1.html)

What I then did was delete the second octopus and try moving the original octopus horizontally. I liked this more than the vertical octopus however it seemed that when the octopus moved horizontally the lines on the ‘pole’ that it was attached to didn’t look like they moved. You can see in the animation, that when the octopus stops and moves its tentacles, the moving lines of the pole are visible, but when the octopus is moving horizontally, they appear to not change. This was interesting because it showed that when introducing another direction of movement another was less effective. (http://www.lukemonetdesigns.com/flash/octopus2.html)

I didn’t find simple animations too challenging and it was a good way to practice with the interface. Although when I started to do more complex animations I found that Flash could be quite temperamental and frustrating. It was simple enough to create the illusion of the octopus spinning on a stick, but because of my basic knowledge of the program I was unaware that to progress further with the animation I would most likely have to create new layers which ultimately meant creating new timelines, which I wasn’t aware of. In my basic repetitive animation on one layer I had not experienced the tediousness of working with separate layers. I found myself deleting sections of the animation to replace it with another still in each frame, only to realize that afterwards the parts I had carefully deleted would somehow return, I wasn’t aware at first that when I deleted one frame of section, all the other frames would move back one, and this ultimately would put the animation out of sync or make it look wrong. I also found syncing up the music to the animation wasn’t as easy as it could have been, because the audio isn’t represented in frames like each drawing. I had to keep on listening to the entire audio every time I played the clip, which means for longer animations I would have had to wait until the audio had ended to look at that one particular section again. This meant that it was difficult to perfect the synchronization and extremely time consuming. I’m not sure if there is a way around this or if this is just a general problem in Flash.

It is a shame that flash is now outdated as I think it has the potential to be a useful animation program if it was developed to acquire to the needs of present day web design/development, e.g. the ability to be used on smart phones and tablets, better audio synchronization, to name a few. As a designer it was great to experience using it because I know of its past popularity on the web and have heard people mention they respect or enjoy using the program.

Mini Project 1: Zoetrope Gif

My original project was to create an animation from drawings which resembled a short simple animation done using a device such a zoetrope (http://vimeo.com/61833024). As an experiment it was suggested that we try and create our own zoetrope animation to understand basic animation processes such as how to match up frames and draw movements like a ball bouncing or person walking. This task was hard for me because I am more comfortable with using computers to do my illustrations and I find it uncomforting to draw by hand as it’s not something I am familiar with or feel that I’m generally good at. Because we had a smaller workspace (a piece of card approximately 3-4 inches wide) I found it almost impossible to pay attention to detail, which meant that the animation would have to be quite basic. I also didn’t have the correct tools for drawing small animations on a small piece of card (a good pencil or pen, eraser and a sharpener would have been a good start).

This was useful in making me realise the processes that animators would have had to go thorough and the amount of time that it would have taken. Although using computers to animate also takes a long time, drawing each frame out by hand is much more time consuming and takes a much more steady hand and much more practice to get right, e.g. you can’t simply undo as you can on software such as Adobe Illustrator. Another way this task was useful was in making me understand just how difficult it sometimes is to animate either by drawing or on a computer.

animation

This is my animation of a man looking over a wall. This animation has been converted into a gif, but because of the persistence of vision, theorised by Peter Mark Roget, it works under the same principles as a zoetrope, meaning that one image is replaced by another to create the illusion of fluidity.

As you can see from the gif it is very basic and you can’t really tell that it’s a wall that the man is looking over. What I had most trouble with was matching up the separate animations so that the lines weren’t in different places. I tried to make the animation seem still by measuring out each piece of card and using a curved piece of card to draw out the animation, the problem with this was that firstly the piece of card wasn’t very effective at this job and secondly the animation could only be a basic shape as I was using a ‘stencil’ to draw it out. This meant that the head was very basic and it didn’t have any distinct features which makes the character recognizable. This character is very bland and the animation isn’t very interesting, though if this was created in 1829 when the zoetrope was invented by George Horner then it would have created a lot of interest. This is a clear example of how animation has evolved from basic short animations composed of a few frames to full feature length movies.

Channel Project – Constructive Evaluation

Although there were sections of the project that I liked and I generally got along with all the people in the group, I did find it a struggle at times to participate and come up with ideas/solutions. If I were to do the project again, there would certainly be a lot of things I would have done differently and this is why the process was valuable to me in moving forward to future projects.

I think that if the group had worked closer together when writing the scripts and storyboards this would have helped us to have a more solid idea. I also found that half of the group going home for a week damaged the quality of our final product, especially as this meant I had to go out and film most of the footage on my own, meaning I also had to book and take out all the equipment by myself, which was challenging.

I also found that the group didn’t seem to want to discuss ideas enough. I feel as if a divide grew between people who were working on the website and people who were working on the webisodes. As the webisodes were dependent on the branding of the website it would have been more useful if the group had worked closer together. This also caused problems in not coming up with enough content as it was hard to discuss with each other exactly what was needed without meeting frequently enough and discussing issues face to face. If more content was added onto the website it would have made the idea more interesting. As the group didn’t want to work together or weren’t around to meet the consequence was that the final product lacked and the idea could have been further explored and wasn’t convincing enough. Furthermore I feel as though every time it was suggested there was an area of the story we could work on further no one seemed to understand why it was needed. As director I feel that I didn’t do my job well enough but also found it hard to do so. This project has been a learning curve for me as to understanding exactly how much work you have to put into something to make good ideas turn in to good end products, a good idea isn’t enough in itself.

One particular thing which I liked about our idea, which I found separated it from other teams’ projects, were that it was less fashionable and more conceptual. As someone who is a big fan of science fiction I think my interest in older science-fiction was what made the idea so different from other work which tended to focus more on current trends or possible slight technological advancements. However, I agreed with the feedback we got in the presentation that the idea could have been further explored.
Although it could be argued that our project looked ‘outdated’, I wanted to focus on how the idea felt. It seemed that given the fundamentally artistic nature of the brief it was a chance to come up with something interesting and although I never really achieved what I wanted to I also felt as though there wasn’t any need for the project to mimic something that would be commercially successful. In hindsight this may have been a drawback because I wasn’t working for a client as such and this means that the ideas and work that the groups came up with probably reflected personal taste more than industry related practice. I also wish that someone else did the camera work as this would have given me more space to work on my role as director, plus I generally don’t really like using video cameras. I think in a personal reflection I am a slight control freak when it comes to ideas and I do prefer to work alone so I also understand that I may not be the easiest person to work with at times, so working with other people has been good practice for me because obviously collaboration is important and it is also useful if you can bat off other peoples ideas and work together to make your work better.

Channel Project Update 8th – 9th February

On the 8th February we completed the final webisode (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49-V8CVWsl0). As I have pointed out previously this one was particularly hard to film footage for given the nature of the dialogue. As it was much more to do with space, the previous techniques of going out and filming some landscape shots didn’t really work. This was a clear example of how if we had worked on the idea more we could have firstly made it a lot easier for ourselves and secondly come up with more in depth ideas and explored any possible problems we had, and came up with solutions for them. As the group didn’t meet as much as they probably should have in the pre production phase this meant that problems that could have been simply resolved were overlooked, which made the project more challenging than it should have been.

However, saying this, I think we were quite lucky with this scene as it turned out to be one of my personal favourites and actually flowed quite well. To find content for this scene we had to sit and watch all the footage over again and pick out little bits that could possibly be used, then cut them up, test them, then decide if we were going to keep them or not. Although this is not the way people would usually edit (in most cases) we didn’t really have a choice as we were running out of time and footage. We came up with the idea to use pans of the fake newspaper page I had created and a fake time magazine cover that Libby created. We also used some found footage of space shuttles and the Alpha Centauri star system which filled up time and put the story into context, showing the star system of Alpha Centauri worked well in giving a sense of reality to the video and I also always liked the fact that Alpha Centauri is a real star system which is very close to our solar system which gives some scientific fact to a science fictional narrative, which I find always helps to make the fiction more believable or at the very least relatable.

Found Footage

found footage 1

found footage 2

Time Magazine Shot

time

For our own footage we had to find shots that somehow related to what was being said in the voiceover. We ended up finding some nice shots of the sun shining through trees, which in a way represented the ‘up there and beyond’. I think that the cultish vibe, which we were trying to emulate in all of our scenes was clear in this webisode specifically.

Example of one of the light through trees shots, the silhouette of the tree to me represents Earth as a dark place.

sun through tree

The videos were purposely cheesy because we wanted to capture the strange oddities that are so often the most prominent factor in small communities or ‘cults’, especially in modern society. Examples we researched that we wanted to relate the concept to were small towns such as ‘Celebration’ in Florida (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oko7qh7m0fc) and also Sandbanks in a lesser sense, I found that when we were location scouting in Sandbanks I felt uncomforted being there and to me the place seemed quite fake, in some sense. Sandbanks was a definite inspiration and it was a shame that we didn’t end up filming there. Looking back now I wish I would have researched new age religions like Scientology and Mormonism more, and even smaller groups in bigger religions such as the evangelical Christian communities particularly in America (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LACyLTsH4ac) because I think that this would have really helped to formulate a more consistent narrative in both the webisodes and the website. The videos work well in that they mask a fictional planet as being ‘the best place to live’ and they also oversell the planet so you feel that you feel that it’s too good to be true and nothing can be quite that great (as they say, if it’s too good to be true it probably is). A problem I encountered with this was that we hadn’t really discussed the timeline in enough depth so it wasn’t clear how long this community had been around for, however as a personal preference I quite like the mysteriousness. I think this idea is something that if explored could be worked into a really interesting narrative and in a way it reminds me of a George Orwell’s ‘1984’ but with more of a Jonestown feel to it, so there’s not as much of an emphasis on a totalitarian society but more of a conceited, nationalist, communist society who have pledged allegiance to their community but are blind to its imperfections.

On the Sunday we finished editing and the rest of the footage and then focused more on sound and graphics, Libby created the intro and ending using Bob’s logo and added the jingle which Libby created. I liked the simplicity of the jingle and I thought that it wasn’t overly futuristic. We then worked on the music and I think that the music was really important in making the sequences stick together. Making the music for the videos was my personal favourite part of the whole project as I found it was the most creative part, I think that before adding the music I was more cynical towards what the final product would be, but after adding the music it seemed to make everything come together. I think the advantage of being able to write your own music is useful because you can create what you want instead of having to try and find it and also it is useful for ownership reasons.

Watch Scene 4: The History Of Alpha Centauri. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49-V8CVWsl0

Channel Project Update 6th – 8th February

My plan on the 6th was to film more footage for the ‘History of Alpha Centauri’ scene. However, due to bad weather I was not able to. I made use of the day by booking out the equipment for the 7th (luckily the weather was nice on that day) and picking out possible clips, which could be used in the final footage. This was useful because there was a lot of footage and as I didn’t know if certain shots were going to be usable I shot the same scene 3 to 4 times. I was able to pick out the best version of each shot and pick out the shots I felt were the best.

On the Friday the 7th I filmed the final footage. The weather was much better and this meant that I was able to go outside and get some nice shots of locations close to the university campus. I stayed close to Talbot Campus because I had a lot of equipment and found it hard to go far as I didn’t have any crew to help with equipment.

On the Friday night we continued editing and this is when the videos really started to come together. We worked on the Earth scene first (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8oJ5L-_vfM). We tried a series of different techniques to see what looked best. We changed the clips so the sped up clock wasn’t over the other clips though decided that this didn’t work as well as the previous version.

This is a section of the clock footage, I reduced the opacity of the clock and put it over other footage. This also shows the eye clip which I felt was very effective.

Clock

This is a scene of a lock which we decided to put in the scene, To me the lock represents being trapped on Earth, Alpha Centauri is the escape to freedom, looking in from the rubbish is like looking at Earth from Alpha Centauri.

Lock

In the earth scene we decided to keep sections of the scene black and just have a voiceover, I found this quite effective as it gave this scene an eeriness. This is what the intention was when compared to the example I found in pre production of what I wanted the scene to look like you can see some comparisons. I wanted Earth to seem like it had been abandoned or was in the process of being abandoned, and although not all of the footage particularly represented the theme of abandonment or isolation, we made the best of the locations which we had found.

Scene of Nara Dreamland an abandoned theme park in Japan which inspired me when researching abandoned places.

For the Alpha Centauri scene (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWH9OY0d-NU) we felt that because the two suns were a main feature of the planet we had to find a way to show this in the video, (You wouldn’t leave the Eiffel Tower out of a video promoting people to visit Paris). For this we used the same clip but reversed it so it gave the illusion that it was still panning across the horizon and showing two suns. It was difficult to get the fade right so that the clips couldn’t be seen over one another. The only problem with this clip was that it was hard to get a shot of the sun because of it’s brightness, I had taken this into account beforehand although I didn’t think it would be too much of a problem. When the viewer was scaled to its default size whilst editing the footage the brightness wasn’t as noticeable, however I realised during the presentation that because the video, whilst being projected onto a large screen, was too bright. Although I made sure that the amount of light that was being taken in by the camera was at it’s minimum whilst shooting I could have also turned down the brightness whilst editing. Though as I said the shot didn’t look too bad when the viewer was a relatively standard size.

I particularly liked the shot of the eye in the underpass. I felt that the eye looked sad, and to me this represented mother Earth being let down by the human race who had destroyed the planet. I personally think we could have had more found footage of natural disasters and pollution etc, as this would have cemented the point that Earth had been destroyed. Preferably it would have been better to have filmed that footage but good disaster/pollution footage is usually accidental andit is hard to plan, especially in the time restraints. Also, we wouldn’t have been able to film those scenes anyway due to risks. So using found footage was the only option we had, although we didn’t like the idea of using found footage and tried to minimise it as much as we possibly could, which we did well, it also would have made the point that Earth had been/is being destroyed more clear.

The ‘I’m a Centaurian’ scene (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ml3pMf2g6WI) was a lot of fun to film, though it also had its problems. Firstly, there was a fan that could not be switched off at the location where we filmed. This got in the way and it made it hard to edit the audio. We could have done ADR but unfortunately most of the people who had acted were not available afterwards. There was also a mic in one of the shots, which we only noticed after editing, (a problem which I have encountered in the past). The other problem was a continuity error in that we had used make-up in the scene to define people as ‘Centaurians’ but had filmed candid shots of people walking down the beach with no make-up. This was something that hadn’t been thought out when coming up with the idea in the pre production process. I personally don’t think that this broke continuity too much as there could be a number of reasons why some people wear make up and others don’t i.e. fashion. I also like the idea of having unanswered questions because it allows the audience to use their imagination. Although this wasn’t the original intention.

The 4th scene (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49-V8CVWsl0) was the hardest to get footage for as the script was written about space and about ‘venturing to the stars’, this meant that it was harder to film our own footage for the scene as we couldn’t film space. We worked around this by firstly using shots of designs that we had made such as the newspaper design and the time magazine design. Which brought a sense of reality into the narrative.

Channel Project Update – Wednesday 5th February

Today I filmed at Branksome Chine and on the cliff walk. I found the shoot was challenging, firstly because of the wind. This made most of the footage unusable as it was too windy and didn’t fit in with the idea of a new planet with nice weather. I also didn’t bring a tripod with me as I found it was too hard to carry all of the equipment on my own, as I had no crew. However, this was useful in some sense as because I didn’t have to keep packing/unpacking equipment every time I changed location and setting everything up each time, I was much more flexible and was able to get different shots from the previous shoots which had been mainly pans and zooms. This created more variations in footage, which was useful to me in editing. One problem I encountered was that there was some unwanted jolts in the movement of the camera. This was partially resolved by slowing down shots so that the parts which were usable were longer, this accidently created a more ghostly vibe in the final videos as everything had slow movements and when we added the music it worked well. Although it would have been useful to have written the music to the footage instead of having to place it in to the already edited footage and try to make it fit, if we had more time it would have been possible to fit the music and voiceover into the footage in a better way so the scenes flowed better.

On this day I also filmed my clock. I had the idea to put it in the background of the footage we filmed for the earth scene. The reasoning behind this is that I wanted to enhance the sense of limited time. I did this by filming a clock in real time then speeding it up in editing. I personally would have preferred to have used a drawing of a clock and animated it so that the clock hands moved faster and didn’t jolt, though unfortunately I didn’t have the time to do this.

I also continued editing the sound, I cut up the sound and placed it further apart to try and make the scenes flow better, I also change the speed of the voiceovers to 96%, I found that this gave a more calming effect on the voiceover. In an ideal world we would have recorded the audio until we got the takes right but because people didn’t want to spend the whole day recording voiceovers I had to improvise.