The Proverbial Sunrise

[Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been – Relient K]

I’ll be posting at least 2 Things on my other (serious) blog very soon.

Today, I was supposed to go with some friends to visit the grave of a beautiful friend taken way too early from a world that needs more love like hers. Unfortunately, I made the selfish mistake of leaving both my assignment and immune system unattended, and now I’m sick and (as you can see in the previous post) still forced to cram out something academic.

The other week, I posted here the results of my photography assignment. I don’t know how obvious it was, but the one of the stove was atrocious. My original plan was doing something else (below), but there was no time for it.

So here is what it could have been.

DSC_0284

Alex.

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Media Objects Audio Project

In response to the theme ‘catalyst’, the sounds that I chose to record and/or find online are ones that happen as a result of something else, and often create a change in the listener as well. Of the 7 sounds, the ones I recorded are ‘scream’, ‘bark’, ‘car horn’, and ‘drop’; the ones from the internet are ‘siren’, ‘smoke alarm’ and ‘car skid’.

Alten notes that‘sound is a force…it can excite feeling, convey meaning’ (4), and iconic sounds are especially useful in doing this. The 7 sounds all have instantly recognizable meanings, and the narrative context is easy to infer by the listener.

To break these down, the listeners are able to discern a sense of urgency or agitation from ‘smoke alarm’ and ‘siren’ because of the high pitch and quick tempo of both sounds (10), whereas the sudden attack to a very high volume of ‘car horn’, ‘scream’ and ‘car skid’ creates a sharpness, as well as note danger or suddenness (11).

Finally, the ‘drop’ and ‘bark’ are both very organic noises, with uneven rhythm. ‘Drop’ has a very sudden attack, followed by a slow decay as the item slowly comes to a stop on the floor. On the other hand, ‘bark’ has a strange rhythm, where any pattern in barking can be broken by the dog deciding to bark differently. An uneven rhythm denotes erraticism (10), as is the pattern with animals and dropped objects, whereas slow decay denotes uncertainty (11).

I recorded using a personal note-taker, meaning the button presses are audible. Excluding those sounds, I took care in recording in the natural environment of the sound in order to create the proper audio space.

For example, ‘bark’ was recorded inside a house with hard and soft objects that both absorb and reflect, creating a familiar indoor texture. I stayed stationary while the dog moved, and thus created perspective and direction (271). ‘Car horn’ was recorded inside a garage, and the echo from metal walls created a very sharp timbre. ‘Drop’ was done in the kitchen using an aluminium bowl and tiles. The kitchen is full of hard surfaces so the timbre was extremely cold. ‘Scream’ was intentionally done in a very large open area without many trees, in order to best create a big echo, and a large distance between listener and sound.

I intended to avoid as much ground or field sound as possible, but it was not possible in ‘scream’ when there were factors I couldn’t control such as other people.

The sounds I chose from elsewhere reflect my intentions. ‘Siren’ is taken from a Japanese ambulance, and contains several layers of siren in varying rhythm. I cannot know, but I would guess that ‘smoke alarm’ is recorded in a very quiet room; and ‘car skid’ was recorded in an open and empty car park, but with enough surroundings to mask echo.

References:

Alten, S., Audio in Media, Belmont: Wadsworth, 1994. Pg 5-12; 266-286.

Sounds:

Sirens‘ by Trinity101 is available at FreeSound.org, under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0

Smoke Alarm Piep Piep‘ by Jan18101997 is available at FreeSound.org, under a Creative Commons Public Domain 1.0

Car Breaking Skid‘ by Iberian_Runa is available at FreeSound.org under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0

Lately I’ve Been

[Counting Stars – OneRepublic]

It’s April, I’m 6 weeks into the graduate course that I told myself should change how I approach my career, and this is it!

INTRODUCING….

ALEX DOES A THING

One thing that I was always told to do when starting out: write what you know. What do I know? I know blogging. I’ve been blogging for years, and I’ve gone from good, to frequent, to intermittent to bad, and back around again. If I know anything, it’s to write in a way that gets other people to enjoy it, so boom, that’s one thing.

And the other is the topic – what are you gonna write about? Again, sticking to my knowledge guns, I’m going to write about stuff I an interested in – namely, something that I would do. Don’t worry, I won’t bog myself down in my comfort zone – the new site is as much about me getting in touch with what I know, as well as moving outwards to bigger things.

So, yeah, do me a huge favor, and if you’re already following this blog, follow the other one too! If you get in early, you’ll be witness to my slowly getting better at it – or crash and burn. Hey, a new project is a new project, and it could go either way. But with a bit of audience support, some social clicking, maybe I can appear on the front page of something one day soon.

Alex.

Catalyst – Photography Assignment

The following are my 5 photos for submission for Media Objects photography assignment, and the 500-word reflection. I will also be sending the 5 photos to you (my tutors) in a separate email, in case WordPress compresses the photos.

Water

Water

Earth

Earth

Sun

Sun

Love

Love

Heat

Heat

I approached the given theme ‘catalyst’ by reflecting my interpretation of it. For me, catalyst is first and foremost changes in chemistry. This led to me to think about growth and decay – the life cycle of a plant. However, as the project called for still images, and I had a limit of five, I could not do time-lapse – not did I have the time to do so.

I thought about the aspects that affect plants – namely the four elements. I altered ‘air’ to ‘sun’, because sunlight is key in a plant’s growth. For the 5th photo, I borrowed Captain Planet logic, and went with ‘heart’, or rather ‘love’. That is, the loving enjoyment of the fruits of labor – eating. Digestion is also a chemical catalyst.

Water and Earth are simple too approach but hard to execute. At different ends of the spectrum, water and earth respectively are ever moving, and completely stationary.

To capture the fluidity of water, I had to use high shutter speeds to capture the droplets to prevent blur. My main focus as a new photographer was composition and lighting, and I am very proud of this photo as the best of my series, because of the lighting of the water droplets.

I chose to capture a sprout in the soil in order to create a dynamic narrative to a still subject. This was done with a shallow depth of field in order to focus on the sprout. The same idea was behind ‘love’, by focusing on the details of the food items. Weber influenced the composition of these two photos when he said that “the most important part of any picture is a clearly recognized center of (picture) interest” (38), which is why I placed both focal items about one-third away from the edge of frame (86).

Sunlight is difficult for me to capture on camera, due to the fickle nature of light. I opted to show light through shadows instead. I am not happy with the clutter that I left in the photo, and should have removed some items to create a less noisy photo, but composition wise, I chose Weber’s suggestion to use lines as strong compositional guides (68), and used the shadows heavily to lead the eye to the focal point.

Perhaps the worst photo of the lot is ‘fire’, or ‘heat’. The lighting conditions were poor, I did not choose good camera settings for the photo, and the planning wasn’t done, meaning the photo looks amateur. I am quite pleased with how the steam wraps around the handle of the spatula.

Overall, I am happy with 3/5 photos, which I deem to be satisfactory as this was my first time taking photos while putting creative and technical considerations into practise. On my friends’ behest, I shot entirely in a 50mm prime lens in order to force myself to think of composition and positioning more, and I very much appreciate the difference in mindset this makes. On my next project including photography, I will be focusing more on lighting as well as staging a good photo.

References

Weber, Ernst A. Vision, composition and photography. Berlin; New York: de Gruyter, 1980. Pg 36-39; 44-45; 58-59; 68-69; 86-87)

Hosting Issues

A project goes through many iterations when execution, and my CMWP comic idea has morphed to something else. Don’t worry, there will still be plenty of Meg for you to see. However, instead of a big comic book (such as a 20-ish page issue that I was originally planning), I’ve changed it to be several, shorter ‘strips’, of 4-8 panels each, with each ‘strip’ taking up 1-page, or double-page. That also means I’ll be writing several, shorter stories on Meg, which is great, because I can explore that curiously silly dog a lot more.

Another reason for my doing so, is due to considerations in distribution: namely, how I’m going to disseminate the final products on the Internet.

TUMBLR:

My first, obvious choice, was Tumblr. Apart from being a network already sprawling with an audience – younger people who love animals, and are savvy to the style of story-telling, while not too young to not get the medium of comic itself –  who’d most likely be the best recipients of the project, Tumblr also provides an interesting format of consumption in terms of images.

Furthermore, Tumblr offers an unique form of image display: Photoset. As you can see, the photoset layout has given me an automatic comic gutter, meaning I can feasibly simply create the panels, size them appropriately to the dimensions of each photoset panel as required, and upload them. It cuts out the need for me to make a template with gutters for my comic.

Image taken from cynicalidealist on Tumblr.

The photoset layout also means each individual image can be viewed separately, which is an interesting workabout to achieve the panel-by-panel view that would stop large comics being unreadable on small portable devices.

MEDIUM:

The other choice for me, was Medium. WordPress was never really a choice, however I am exploring the possibilities of hosting comics on WordPress.

Medium offers a very simple model of creating and reading. There is no fiddling with various themes and HTML – it s your page, and your feed. You tag your work, you submit it to a collection of similar topics, and others read it and/or share it. This appeals to me, because the one shortcoming of Tumblr is this: Themes. While most of the audience will consume the comic via the Dashboard – a completely differently themed layout, much like a Facebook news feed – the fact is, any external audience who follows a permalink will be coming to the page that sits within my actual blog – my themed blog. Therefore, the way that my blog theme displays the work is paramount when it comes to a medium as important as comics.

Medium will cut all of that hassle out for me.

This is a web comic on Medium – unfortunately you’d have to click on the hyperlink, because I can’t in good conscience steal the Frogman’s comic and put it on here!

The simple layout means that I do lose the natural gutters of the Tumblr photoset, but instead I get a fantastic, fluid reading experience, uncluttered by anything else except for my username and comic title up the very top, and a recommended further section at the bottom.

COMPARISON:

The two sites bring me to this consideration:

Gutters.

I am incredibly interested in gutters (the white spaces between panels) in comics, because that’s what separates a COMIC from a SERIES OF IMAGES, at least for me. Looking at a lot of print comics post 90s, however, it’s obvious that the actual white strip itself is not paramount in defining a comic as such – but a relationship between panels is.

Tumblr would give me this in ample readiness – it’s there, and all I have to do is to make sure my panels will sit in each spot perfectly.

Medum, on the other hand, gives me the freedom of simplicity – I can always manually create gutters for each strip on my computer, OR I can create a comic that doesn’t require gutters at all.

This is something which I can only really decide on after experimenting on both mediums (ha). Furthermore, I do want to look at what WordPress can offer me in terms of image hosting.

Issues to consider for further along: viewing on portable devices.

There is no App for Medium, however the streamlined reading style seen on browsers carries over beautifully on mobile browsers. Having said that, it doesn’t let you select and zoom in on each individual ‘panel’ when on mobile.

The App for Tumblr, on the other hand, is temperamental at best, especially with displaying images in Dashboard. The actual blog page itself (ie, my themed blog), is accessed through the browser anyway, and depending on the theme I choose, it could either take me to a full-HTML website (completely unreadable on a mobile device), or a vertical, mobile version, which is still extremely cluttered with buttons and links that are separate to the theme of the blog.

Right now, I’m definitely leaning towards Medium more. With more exploration and testing, I’m sure that I’ll find an answer soon.

Alex.

P.S. I started using sub headings!