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.

Creatively Creative Commons License

For this blog, I chose the Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Creative Commons License, because there are some original creative work which are published on the blog.

The license essentially allows others to share the posts that I make, and/or adapt it into any form or medium, provided they attribute the work to me and give me proper due credit. It does not allow commercial use of any of my posts, as I do not want anyone to make money off of my creative ideas without my expressed and explicit permission and/or involvement in the project.

What this means is, anyone who reads a blog post I make about a certain topic is more than welcome to copy and paste and excerpt from the post, attach it to their own and engage with it, provided of course they link back to my blog post, instead of passing the idea off as their own. Similarly, the small (and sub-par) pieces of fiction that were published here (they’re hidden now, but if they hadn’t been, it was easily accessible) would not be allowed to be adapted for commercial purposes in any way or form.

Of course, a small gathering of pixels isn’t the police. Nor can it stop spammers from rudely making this blog ugly.

As this was also mostly my personal blog until recently, spam hadn’t been a major issue in my comments area: that is, I have received the odd spam comment from either a spambot or a troll. In the past, if I saw one of these comments, I would either manually delete them, or sarcastically respond to it, but that was when the traffic I gained were mostly from people who personally knew me.

Let’s pretend for a second that I was running a professional or interest-themed blog (which, for the next Semester, I actually am). There is the option with WordPress to automatically moderate and delete any comments that involve more than two hyperlinks. In fact, WordPress offers bloggers varying degrees of spam and comment control.

To begin with, users could turn off “anyone can comment, as long as they have an email address”, because many times fake emails are accepted. By restricting it to “only someone with a WordPress account”, it means often the comment maker could be traced back to their account. I was also given the option to moderate comments, and only allow comments through automatically if they had been allowed by me before. Finally, I was given the choice to simply disallow all comments until I’d moderated each and every single one of them.

I feel that the last choice is anti-constructive to a blog which is inviting people to comment and discuss. For now, I’ve kept the setting at WordPress accounts only, but as my posts reach further into the deep corners of worldly topics, I may have to turn on light moderation. Especially if I begin to touch on sensitive topics which may be triggers for certain readers, in order to prevent insensitive comment makers from hurting potential victims.

Alex.

Critically Engaging With Natalie Tran – Baby I Know

For those not in the know, Natalie Tran, or communitychannel, is an Australian vlogger who creates short, funny videos usually based on things she notices in life. They usually feature split-screen, where Nat portrays different characters, usually signified by different clothing and hairstyle. Throughout the years, fans of Tran have developed certain tropes in her videos, such as the ‘Porno-music-slash-comment-time’, where she reviews and replies to some of the comments to her previous video, and catchphrases like “Baby I Know” and “Unbohlievable”.

Here is a video she made recently:

In this video, Tran explores the types of people at the movie theater, specifically people with whom she watches movies. She lists why each type is annoying, such as the “I don’t understand” friend, who constantly asks questions about the plot line, or the “IMDb friend”, who always needs to check the names of actors in the film.

The video is very simply structured, with a main point and many little gags in between (“Ah, this is gonna kill me.” “I’m going to kill you.”) Tran’s quick speaking style is used well with the split video effect, and she utilizes timing very effectively, meaning characters rarely talk over each other, and stick to optimum comedic timing. These comedic aesthetics are done well in most of Tran’s videos, and her use of different outfits for different characters mean there is rarely any confusion as to who is whom.

Finally, Tran uses segues to shift into a gag which would otherwise be a non-sequitur (the makeup tutorial gag), however there are times when her cutaway gags don’t have the effect and take away from the overall main point too much. These issues mostly stem from a writing point of view, rather than technical abilities.

Because of her unique style of split-screen dialogue, Tran can create stories with two or more characters without having to do constant camera scene changing. It also creates a comedic situation where the audience is treated to Tran making fun of Tran, and identifying with one Tran over another.

Screen capture of my Skype chat with Julian

Screen capture of my Skype chat with Julian

As you can see, the pixelation and coloration of the image is noticeably sub-par. The sound quality is rather tinny, however in my experience, the sound did not drop out to the extent that conversation wasn’t coherent. There was a lag in the words being uttered and the sound being heard on the other end, but considering most Skype calls do not take place with participants sitting right next to each other, it should not be a main concern.

Aspects that would affect the quality of the call would be the quality of the internet connection. As Julian and I are both using a public Wifi, in a room where there are at least a dozen people using the same network, it may have attributed to the lower quality of call. If a call conference/interview is conducted via a wired network, using better camera and microphone equipment, as long as the ISP is reliable, the calls should be near perfect.

Using the chat function, we were able to send text messages, as well as links – which open on a separate browser. We were also able to share files stored in our respective computers, and even share with the other what is on our desktop screen. These functions serve to be useful in a collaborative situation, such as IT support or information sharing.

Mark Me Up, Jenny!

When I signed up for a Graduate Diploma in Media with RMIT, it was inevitable that, again, I will be faced with a task where I create my own blog. Thus, all posts categorized by the tag “grad dip”, and categorized under “RMIT” will be posts for marking consideration. Of course, I’ll be adding other appropriate and relevant tags and categories, however, the ones mentioned above are the main ones to look out for. Considering my lack of frequently blogging, there shouldn’t be any confusion when reading from my home page.

And, needless to say, my use of language will be much more formal, and my use of song titles will be noticeably zero.

Currently, I am to share a link to something that interests me. This seems like a very broad requirement, because I can feasibly send a link to tv.com and call it a day. But here is something that really interests me, and may be of interest for the reader, too.

One of my favorite pastimes is to read comics. My favorite series – and the only one which I make sure to buy hard-copy tradebacks for – is Saga, by Brian K Vaughan (also known as that guy who’s writing the television adaptation of Under the Dome), with art by Fiona Staples.

It’s hard to pinpoint my favorite thing – or the “why you should read it too” – of Saga. At a glance, the covers should tell you of Fiona Staples’ prowess in illustrating an expansive and fantastical world. Her mastery over color, even with an art style which calls on more flat colors than gradients, enhances the myriad of species and lights that BKV’s Saga-verse has to offer. When I read the first issue, I was immediately sucked into the dramatic and intricate history of the characters. Despite the slightly obvious Romeo-and-Juliet overtones, that the narrator’s voice comes from the infant child of the main characters denotes a certain “A long, long time ago” feel.

No, I can in fact point at my favorite aspect of Saga: Lying Cat. An interesting creature, the Lying Cat is an unerring lie detector, but also a useful and loyal weapon. Sidekick to the antagonist apparent, a merc named The Will, Lying Cat plays host to many humorous and even tender moments, when the truth – or the absence thereof – is the only thing you can rely on.

So, this is my initial post on something I an interested in, posted on my blog which I set up. What. A. Conclusion.

Alex.

I do not reserve the rights to any of the pages or works to which I’ve linked. Contrary to my wishes, I do not own television, nor do I wish to encroach upon Fiona Staples’ amazing art. I do, however, wish I owned a Lying Cat.