With Every Broken Bone

[I Lived – OneRepublic]

A break from the academic stuff! Except now I’m having a gripe at social pressures again.

Without opening the floodgates of “what the hell is wrong with me?”, I have been thinking about the way that I regard other people around me.

I haven’t been making many efforts to be a ‘good friend’, as such, firstly because I keep telling myself that my 6-7 contact hours a week at uni is so draining, but also because I just want to be home. Many times, when I’m sitting with a group of people with whom I’ve had minimal prior interactions, and there is a lull in the conversation, I wish that I was in front of my computer, doing any old anti-social thing. Whenever I have to make awkward and forced conversation, especially about a future to which I don’t yet know all the prospects, I find myself drifting home.

But, when I’m home, I’m restless. When I am sitting there with my gaming console wondering which mission or enemy I should kill next, I look outside and wonder at the lifestyle of those more active than I. Could I be a person who takes a walk for an hour and comes back with 100+ photos on their camera, a tan line on their arm, and an idea that inspires them? Could I be a person who somehow sticks to a schedule that they set, and actually chase the lifestyle that they envision? Could I put down my comic, and go and write one?

I’m not daunted by the empty page – I avoid it. When I have an idea, I don’t see an empty page for long at all, but when I don’t, I will do anything to not have to look at one.

I have on my weekly planner here that tomorrow I’m supposed to go for a small walk around the area with my new camera, and take some photos for my class. They don’t have to be good photos. They don’t even really need to be of things far away from my house. I could feasibly just go into my backyard and do it; but I shouldn’t.

I’ll try my best to come here tomorrow and attach at least one photo that I took, even if it’s of a frontyard three houses down.

Anyway, what was supposed to be a post about other people turned into my own ineptitude, so back on topic.

Making and acting social cues is hard. When I’m doing it, I do it. But when I have to think about it, I get so tired and irritated. At what point did I start ticking off a list of people with whom I should keep in touch? At what point does someone even make it onto a social to-do list? And what point does someone drop off of one? I want to have those people around, I do, because being around them makes me feel happiness. Except I’m actually having to make a list and prepare to enable that happiness, instead of it naturally being there for me to access. Then there’s that decision to drop someone off the list – except I never realize their name hadn’t shown up until ages later.

Is it okay to do that? Is it okay to slowly just give up on trying to make efforts with someone because there’s no need to?

Enough of that for this time.

I went to some Coldstream vineyards with my parents the other week, mostly so that my dad can buy a few bottles of wine and taste a dozen more. I’m pretty proud of this photo:

 

Tokar Estate Winery

Don’t worry, I’m not trying to turn into a photographer. My current assignment for class is based on photography, so it’s the flavor of the fortnight. The new camera is for sharing between my dad and me, because he wants to take photos of food, too.

Alex

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The Thief – Single Shot Video Assignment

The single shot video task required a minute-long unedited sequence depicting a 3-line story. Bobker asserts that “in a single scene uninterrupted by cuts, the character of the image can be changed by simply moving the camera in, our, and around the players”, meaning the focus should be on the composition and utilization of the frame and camera to tell the story (Bobker, 60).

Having never used a camera before, this was an opportunity to get hands on experience. As a result, I had to learn to operate the basic steady camera movement, since natural movement of frame can “change the character of the image” (58), but to move it unevenly draws attention away from the action and towards the act of the spectacle itself. This was my central concern upon the beginning of filming.

The 3-line plot, centering on the theme “success”, was shown thus: A girl stops to take a phone-call, and leaves her bag open. A thief comes along and pickpockets a wallet. He walks past her and around a corner, successfully having stolen the wallet.

We chose to follow the thief around a corner, because it creates a sense of depth in the video. Since the clip takes place against a giant wall, there is a flatness to the image. By allowing a character to move from afar to near, and creating an illusion of a z-axis, the audience is drawn into the depth of the frame (59). Furthermore, we chose to end on a low-angle shot, in order to frame the successful thief as being powerful. The changing angles – from straight on to low angle – also creates a sense of height within the frame.

We also opted to first focus on the girl, then move slowly back to reveal the thief – who was seen in the background earlier. In this way, the camera movement and frame acts as a character in itself – ie, the vehicle of the audience’s gaze – and also allows us to tell the story through visual alone. By tracking slowly across a blank wall, and finally revealing the thief’s face, it allows the audience to know exactly what is happening, and create a sense of tension, without needing audio. We also focus on an outstretched hand about to pickpocket – centered in the frame, and moving slowly – because it also creates tension.

The tension is furthered by showing both the thief and the girl within frame after the theft. As the thief moves along the z-axis, the frame moves to show both characters while focusing on the thief. This also softens the flat 2D feel of the earlier wall-tracking.

I am proud of the camera movements when tracking along the wall to reveal the thief, then the follow of his outstretched hand, because I feel this portion especially drew the audience into the gaze. However, the flat 2D wall-tracking was tacky, and did not make good use of spatial techniques.

Reference:

Bobker, Lee R. “Composition.” Elements of Film. New York: Harcourt Brace Jonavich, 1974. 55-61. Print.

Move Over Jeeves!

It’s part of the common vernacular to ‘Google’ something – just like you’d stop a runny nose by reaching for the Kleenex, or fixing a cut with a Band-Aid. While it’s hard to argue that Google isn’t the ‘best’ at finding results (if you find yourself in the 2nd page of Google results, chances are you won’t find what you’re looking for), there are definitely different ways in which search engines could deliver results to their users.

First I’ll get the technicality out of the way. I’m going to explain (preaching, really, to a congregation of more faith than I) how to make a certain search engine the default search engine.

Oh wait…no I won’t!

(Kidding, of course I will, it’s worth half a mark just to do it.)

How to set default search engine:

To make things clear: I will simply be outlining how to do it for PC Chrome users. It really should be the browser to use, because not only is it run by the same people who basically run Gmail, Youtube, Drive, Maps, Translate and, well, everything you ever need to pretend to be smart, it’s a very fast browser, and extremely easy to delete the whole bunch of toolbars and plug-ins that your parents got suckered into installing.

First, go into the main menu by pressing the horizontal lines to the top right hand corner of the browser, right under the big red X. Go down to settings, and enter the settings page. On the fourth heading on the Settings page, where you see the word ‘Search’, you’ll also see the button ‘Manage Search Engines’. Clicking that will open up a small box where there might be a whole list of websites that have any form of search function built in. The top section of that list is the list of “default search engines”, and hovering over the one you want to use – say, ‘Bing’ (ha) – will bring up a small choice to ‘Make default’. Click it, and now when you type into the blank searchbar, you’ll be using Bing by default. Quick, change back before you regret it!

Alright, now to the comparisons.

I am comparing DuckDuckGo, instaGrok and the mighty Google.

The search term which I used across all three engines was ‘dofp’, the abbreviation for ‘Days of Future Past’, which is the title for the upcoming X-Men movie. I used this because the theatrical trailer was released yesterday, so the buzz should be quite high.

DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo focuses on getting the user an answer, straight away, whereas instaGrok is about teaching the user anything they would want to know about the topic, and all the sub-topics, etc. Google will find you links to sites that would have information on what you searched, placing the most commonly accessed and/or relevant on top, so on.

Because of this, DuckDuckGo gave me an Instant Answer box, which actually told me about the original comic of Days of Future Past. Then, the third result down was the one which mentioned the film in a journalistic capacity – that is, not purely review – with the video to the trailer. The first result was actually to acronym.com, to tell me what dofp could stand for, despite the Instant Answer having told me already.

In this way, DuckDuckGo was rather useless in terms of helping me get to an immediate access to a trailer, a cast list, a release date, or news from major sites, but it did give me an immediate answer, albeit to the wrong medium.

Top results with DuckDuckGo

Top results with DuckDuckGo

InstaGrok

instaGrok is probably not built for this kind of searches. Firstly, I actually had to re-assert that I was searching ‘dofp’, not ‘dop’, but after that, things got interesting. instaGrok works like a mind-map, the kind you drew in primary school with branches that come out of a central idea. In this case, the branches that came out of my search term (when setting the search difficulty to ‘Einstein’) gave me topics such as ‘Avenger’, ‘Bryan Singer’, ‘Evan Peters’, and ‘ Film’. Film was giving a separate part of the branch, meaning that it is of a different significance to the other branches.

So, I still have no idea what ‘dofp’ stands for, if that’s why I searched it, but instaGrok has given me the opportunity to delve into other, similar subjects. Bryan Singer is the director of the film, Avenger is a franchise which is set in the same comic universe as X-Men, although the movie rights are owned by different companies, and Evan Peters is an actor in the film. ‘Film’, on the other branch, gave me a chance to go off on a whole different tangent of knowledge.

Clicking on each segment gave me a few, unexplained choices. I realized that I could look at the key concepts of the segment as defined by other users (completely irrelevant for ‘dofp’), I could look at websites that discuss the search term (still useless but more relevant in terms of gathering some information), but none of them are in any way telling me about the search term, or giving me a chance to be linked to somewhere else that could, in a sentence, tell me about it.

Results with instaGrok

Results with instaGrok

Google

Finally, Google gave me news results to begin with – great, because the 2nd one down linked me to a big site that had the trailer – then went on to give me the Wikipedia link to the comic series page. To the right, Google also had a small box, much like DuckDuckGo’s Instant Answer box, that gave me a fast tidbit to tell me it was an upcoming movie.

Top results with Google

Top results with Google

Now, I spent so long explaining the first two search engines, because the results were very interesting to me. While the search term that I used may not have been the broadest of terms, it is one which would be quite popular at the time of writing given the surrounding societal situation. DuckDuckGo is good for that instant answer, but delved into strange results, especially by prioritizing smaller or unknown sites over large, expansive ones (Joblo.com before IGN.com). instaGrok, on the other hand, was almost completely useless in this search term, but if I was to be doing research on X-Men, for example, I would given segments to explore all kinds of terms related to the in-universe as well as the genre aspects of the term.

In all, DuckDuckGo would be a search engine I use for the Instant Answer function, instaGrok one which would start a research effort, and Google will ultimately be my friend for specific information.

Alex.

I’d Raster Use Vector

I apologize for the ghastly pun. In this post, I will explore the differences between using Bitmap (Raster) to draw and Vector based techniques. This is slightly different to my discussion on digital editing techniques, because this includes creating completely new images and shapes using different software.

In Dr Jenny Weight’s lecture, she expresses the difference between Bitmap and Vector, with the former being the more “organic” form of drawing, and the latter giving a more “inhuman” look.

I use these quotation marks because either traits really depend on the skill of each artist. Bitmap drawings can look phenomenal, even photorealistic, but can only really be so if the artist has a good grasp of how to employ the software, and a good sense of artistic creation.

Janelle Monae by Christina Maniatakis

Similarly, Vector art can be used to create amazing graphic designs, but the designer would need to know how to use the software to manipulate the lines to be sharp and perfect.

90's Kid by Josh Mina

90’s Kid by Josh Mina

The two images above are examples of amateur level art created using, respectively, bitmap drawing and vector drawing. The drawing of Janelle Monae can be considered photorealistic, as the artist used layers of coloring to create shadows and texture of the subject. 90’s Kid (sic) features less texture, rather opting for blocky, cartoony coloring linework.

Neither approaches are in any way ‘easier’ than the other – to create beautiful artwork on either format requires a good set of skills in utilizing the software, and an eye for detail. It is perhaps easier to edit photos using bitmap tools than vector tools, however it is infinitely better and cleaner to use vectors for graphic design purposes. Often, a project would require the usage of both styles of drawing and editing (such as, for the hundredth time, the art tests that I did in the previous posts).

Alex.

Note: The two images above are displayed with the permission of the original creators. Clicking on the image will bring you to the original page where the art was uploaded.

#TwitterFiction – Short and Simple

Today was the first time that I heard about an actual event dedicated to storytelling via Twitter. That is not to say it’s the first time that I experienced the phenomenon.

To me, telling a story using Twitter can mean two things:

Firstly, you have your accounts set up to literally tell a series of stories in short sentences. One which immediately occurs to me is the EGOs Issue 0 Tweets. A quick background: EGOs is a recently started comic series published by Image, a company that specialises in more alternative and ‘out-there’ comics. A week or so prior to #2 being released, the writers of EGOs created a series of tweets which essentially told a ‘prequel’ to #1 via a few hundred tweets spaced 2 minutes apart. Reading back now, you will probably not realise fully the tone that experiencing #0 live held. It was definitely humbling, as a writer, to step back from the story and realise that they were essentially creating tiny pieces of cliff-hanging drama in tiny little sentences. There were a few times when 140 characters were just not enough to convey the imagery, and the writers used an image instead, but overall the slow-moving pace was actually incredible to experience.

Another way in which Twitter can be used to tell stories, and one touched upon by the first article that I linked to, would be the parody accounts who pretend to be the characters’ twitter accounts, and tweet accordingly. Many of these don’t last very long, because they were created on a one-joke basis, but many persist to create a kind of everyday, non-linear narrative of an entire individual.

Both of these are very interesting, because they use the tight restrictions of the medium – 140 characters are barely enough to gripe about grandparents, let alone tell an entire story! – to their advantage, and create a whole story using the constructed understanding that most Twitters users have about how tweets work.

And then there’s @horse_ebooks, which turned out to be part of an elaborate art exhibit.

Alex.

ATTN: Jenny and James

Sorry to all those who subscribed and are starting to become annoyed at the constant shopkeeping posts!

As you have already marked a few of my posts, this is to let you both know that I now have new categories for my submission posts. Posts submitted under ‘CMWP Submission’ are those that I send you links to, and those to be considered for grading. They will be under the ‘RMIT’ category as well. There will be posts categorised under ‘RMIT’ but not submission. They are simply work that I’ve done that are not part of the criteria, but I thought I’d do a little brown-nosing anyway.

The tags are not restricted to these: they will all be tagged with RMIT, grad dip, and cmwp.

Alex

Touching on Touchups

In this post, I will engage with Dr Jenny Weight’s introductory post on using photo editing software. In particular, I will draw on my own experiences with both GIMP and Adobe Photoshop, and examine the issues that may come with using said software for image editing.

Before I start, I should clarify that I’d had intermediate knowledge of PS (Photoshop) from a previous VE&T course, and have long since ingrained the knowledge into my brain-space. That means that it’s become a little difficult for me to thoroughly and critically engage with such a basic overview in digital image editing, because none of the knowledge occur to me as new, nor do issues register on my radar because I automatically know how to fix them.

Before I launch on my tirade on GIMP, it is important to note that the software is completely free, and, for most casual intents and purposes, has all the features of the extremely pricey Adobe Photoshop. GIMP also has an extensive community that discuss and help each other out on the forum, where almost all the questions a new user would possibly have (mine usually began with “where can I find…?”) are answered.

In one of Jenny’s lectures, she mentioned that GIMP has a steep learning curve. To that, I say: yes and no. For someone who got used to the way Photoshop worked, and where things were and what they were called, the learning curve wasn’t so much steep as frustratingly ‘almost’. Toolbars and menus were almost but not quite in the same place, and the UI (user interface) was almost but not quite identical, meaning I sometimes found myself hitting “B” repeatedly to access the Brush tool, only to have nothing happen.

But for users completely new to the image editing scene, I think GIMP would be as confusing as a first session with Photoshop. It’s simply a new skill to think in terms of Layers – “what, you made a mistake drawing on the image, and when you erased it everything was gone? Yeah, should’a used layers” – and all the menus with “Curves”, “Color Balance” and oh, the FILTERS! Not to mention all the doo-dah over Opacity, Layer Styles, Vectors…GIMP doesn’t do anything to ease that initial vertigo, but neither did Photoshop, for me.

The major difference, at least to me, was the way in which Adobe set out an intuitive UI once the ball had successfully been rolled. Once I learned how menus were organized, and some keyboard shortcuts, Photoshop suddenly became quick and easy. GIMP (and again, this is tainted heavily by my PS leanings), on the other hand, was not. The very fact that I had to download and install scripts to use a few functions were testimony to that. (However, the additional script-fu and plug-in community is actually pretty awesome, and I wish I had explored them more.)

There’s not much to engage with in terms of Jenny’s post – the basics are the basics, and there’s not much to say about it. Yes, YouTube tutorials are amazing, but once you find yourself among this league (video below), it’s probably easier to just turn off your computer and go throw a stick for your dog.

One thing I will say: LAYERS! LAYERS LAYERS AND IF YOU’RE NOT SURE, THROW IN ANOTHER LAYER! If you want to test two different types of brush strokes…use two layers! Delete the ugly one! It’s so much easier to delete a layer than to press Ctrl+Shift+Z (er, I use PCs, but I’m pretty sure it’s Apple+Shift+Z on Macs) a million times.

Finally, here’s a (repost) of the images I edited in GIMP, and its counterpart in PS. The focus should be on the colors, not the speech bubbles, because the GIMP version had me do speech bubbles in GIMP, but the PS one had me do them in Illustrator.

GIMP

PHOTOSHOP

Please note that the images are hosted by Tumblr, but are made by me. I didn’t rip off someone else’s work, but the dog isn’t mine personally. I have permission to photograph the dog, who is a minor.

Alex.

P.S. It would seem that my broad “RMIT” category will soon be insufficient. If any tutor reads this before the final due date, but sees no extra categories, please note that I will be adding and organizing more specific categories extremely soon. I know in a professional space that this is inexcusable, because once it’s out it’s out. I apologize.