Media Objects Edited Sequence

For my edited sequence, I chose the theme Impact. I approached Impact in both the sense of the moment of impact, as well as the editing style, which featured sharp, distinct visuals and quick tempo audio.

I am extremely attracted to the idea of non-linear editing as outlined by William Burroughs in 1964. Burroughs would cut up or fold together pieces from entirely different narratives, put them together, and create a completely new and interesting narrative from the mix (Packer & Jordan, 2001:277). I attempted to emulate this style in my work, in that there is no immediate discernible continuity, and yet the narrative is formed via human inference and closure between non-sequitur elements juxtaposed against one another. I find it fascinating that the human brain can create a narrative by finding a relation between two different visuals, or two different audio, or a mix of both.

For that reason, I chose to rarely use the accompany audio in the video clips that I found from the Internet, instead mixing it with the sounds that I recorded for the audio assessment. For example, juxtaposing gunfire with dog barking and car honking invokes the narrative of a disruptive neighbourhood, or other such negative imagery, even though the context within which all three elements originally existed were all controlled and peaceful.

Then, the non-linear introduction and re-introduction of the thief from the single-shot assignment bookends the example above, and coupled with a scream that’s entirely removed from the visual, would then move the viewer to a different narrative.

My editing does not intend to create one meaning only, rather creating a context wherein many different means are meant to be inferred, and countless segments of narratives formed and reformed depending on the viewer themselves. However, I do purposely introduce and reintroduce similar elements – the barking; the bookended sirens; the before-and-after of crashes – to place these different narratives within certain confines.

I also chose to edit together short, sharp segments, as the feeling of Impact can also be created from the quick introduction of new elements, such as a new visual, or new sounds. As a result, the video was rather short, as I did not want to overload the viewer with too many elements.

As this was my first time editing with moving images, and my first foray into a non-linear narrative form, I feel that the piece lacked technical sophistication. While I experimented with transitions between materials and clips, and attempted to mix the audio in a more subtle and sophisticated way, I still could not achieve the sort of effects that I wanted, such as panning sirens, or smash cut transitions.

Working with different formats was also a challenge: I only learned the basics of encoding files to be the same format on the same medium, and could not fix the difference in aspect ratio, resulting in the black bars around the frame.

References:

Packer, K. and Jordan, K., (eds.) Multimedia: From Wagner to virtual reality. New York: Norton, 2001. Pg 275 – 278

Videos:

Drone POV Crash in Highlands Bowl by Vital Films, under a Creative Commons Attribution license http://vimeo.com/96320135

Extreme Snowboarding Crash in Switzerland TRT 1:50 by Fusion TV, Inc., under a Creative Commons Attribution license http://vimeo.com/95322091

Request to Blow Up a Company Logo for Marketing by Ryan Morris, under a Creative Commons Attribution license http://vimeo.com/93104412

Test Firing an Heckler & Koch MP7 PDW at Lock and Load in Miami by Dan V, under a Creative Commons Attribution license http://vimeo.com/78314176

Audio:

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 aCreative Commons Public Domain 1.0

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

 

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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

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)

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.