IM2.2

Integrated Media 2.2 ie. the second time I attempt to complete this course. I found it quite enjoyable last year, and only failed because I didn’t actually complete the report. The only thing that’s changed from last year to this is that the report part of the assessment is now also group and not individual. So I’m not likely to fail again, considering how seriously I take group assessment. Yay!

When I say that it’s the only thing that’s changed, I’m not kidding though. The lecture content and assessment so far are all exactly the same (to the point where the introductory blog post about the lecture still states that the report is individual assessment… copy-paste). It’s okay though, the reason I didn’t complete the report last year is because I got to the end of the semester and realised that it would be very difficult to write a report when I hadn’t been keeping up with the theory all semester. So I made myself retake the course so I could actually learn the things I was supposed to be learning last year.

I realised that I needed something to remind me of that, a motto or a phrase, so that when I find myself tuning out because I’ve heard it before, I can remind myself to tune back in and learn. I noticed that in the job descriptions of SMPs (Social Media Producers) that Seth showed us in the lecture, a lot of them required evidence or proof that you actually know your way around a social media network. So I’m going to think of this course as helping me build some portfolio appropriate content. I’ll work out how to turn that into a motto if I need it later…

I’ve started brainstorming ideas for the event assessment already. I feel like having done this part of the course before is a huge advantage, and won’t bore me because we’ll be planning and executing a different event. It might even be more interesting this time around to make comparisons etc.

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Do Cool Stuff

That was my introduction to this semester. Week 1, day 1, lecture 1 started with “do cool stuff”.

Today Adrian talked a bit more about ‘cool stuff’ and how to make it. Sort of. In a roundabout way. The lecture focussed a bit on heritage media and the way they can’t afford to take risks. We were basically being told to take risks. Do cool stuff.

Korsakow can be used to answer the ‘yes and’ question of “what will happen if…?”

Constraints generate sophisticated work. Like Adrian said way back at the beginning, one video of round things doesn’t make sense, 100 videos of round things and you’ve suddenly got something. Something because of a pattern. Patterns are created by constraints. Let’s create a rule and respond to it.

Sometimes it’s hard to find the pattern (especially in a k-film), the media is then dirty, messy, noisy, other, which makes it harder to understand. Why are these words negative? Dirty, messy, noisy, other?

Same vs Other

When everything is linked and we are in a “cluster of stuff” why do we look for clean, tidy, quite, same? Pay attention to the things that push back, the things that challenge, and use them to do cool stuff.

Lecture Notes- IM1 Week 8

So the last time I did a lecture notes post was in week 4. There was the Easter break, I got sick and then I just avoided the online world in general for a few weeks, but I’m back now, so lets carry on with it.

This week’s lecture was a throwback to week one, we talked about industrial media, or heritage media again, this time in terms of scarcity.

First up, heritage media is capital intensive, requiring huge amounts of money to make media, after the upfront costs required to establish a media-making model. The consequence of this is that everything must be produced with the $return in mind. As Adrian says “advertising only works if people are watching”.

Heritage media celebrates scarcity (because it makes advertising spots worth more). Newspapers could print 1,000 pages daily instead of 50 but they don’t because not only would it make the actual paper hard to manage, but because nobody wants to pay $10 for the daily news, and the advertising spots would be worth less. Television can only play one thing at a time and so will put the popular shows on at times when they  know that the most people will be available to watch (hence making the advertising spots more valuable).

Because of this scarcity, heritage media can’t afford to take risks. If one outlet finds a new formula that makes a lot of money and draws a big audience (eg. Masterchef) then the other outlets will copy that format (eg. My Kitchen Rules) and so television becomes a sheep chasing sheep model.

Where’s the innovation there? There is only so much you can do, it’s like innovation in the car industry. You might update the engine, move the fins or add racing stripes, but a car will remain a vehicle with four wheels and an engine for a long, long time.

In the post-industrial media age (which we are entering into), scarcity is not valued. Access to the means of production has been flipped and there is no longer a huge financial barrier to set up a media institution (free blog anyone?). Adrian notes, “once you take scarcity away … everything else collapses” and so we are on the cusp, in the swamp between heritage media and new media. We are the one who have to figure out what that means, how we can make money (and meaning) from it, and where it all fits in this post-industrial media age. 

Pay attention to the things that push back…

Korsakow Film Reviews

I’m going to talk about four Korsakow films that popped up in my reader last week (that actually had titles!) and do a mini review of each. The point is that in watching other students’ work and identifying what I liked and what I didn’t, I’ll be able to create a better project for the second assessment. Unfortunately, two of the members of my live assessment group didn’t show up, so this is also my own kind of way of addressing what I missed out on there, which is looking at what other students have done with their k-films.

Starting with The Nature of a City (which is a really clever title once you’ve figured out the theme). What I like about Lauren’s k-film is the different interface backgrounds, I find that they help pull her overall theme together really well and make it more obvious to the viewer what direction they’re going in.  The interface is also nice and easy to navigate, and choosing the thumbnails feels almost intuitive. I also like the text she’s used because the fragments are lyrical and that makes them flow really nicely in any order that you read them in. I don’t really like to looping of the clips, but I am yet to find a k-film in which I do like the looping, so that’s probably just a personal preference.

Next is Life by Issy. First impression is the title slide? Title page? Opening credits? I’m not sure what to call this, and I didn’t know it was possible to do, but it sets the mood and theme for her k-film straight up. Wow. This k-film has one of the most creative ways of using text that I’ve seen so far. Issy combines text below the video which links to preview text on each of the thumbnails. It creates almost a mini narrative for each video, but then the “narrative” so to speak, changes once the thumbnail is clicked. Life also has a clear ending, which is nice to experience. The interface background is also fitting as it draws the theme together and presents the videos within the context of “life”. I’d say this is one of the best k-films I’ve seen so far.

Potatoes is a k-film by Elizabeth who also uses the title/credit/opening thingy, though not to any effect. Elizabeth’s interface is similar to mine, all grey scale  however her background image is really fitting. Not only does it physically fit, but it also helps create the mood for the film. The text that goes with the videos here are lines from a Sylvia Plath poem, Potatoes, which makes the haunting theme even more apparent. I will say though, that the text needed to be visually different, as I found that it tended to get lost against the background image and so I sometimes clicked onto the next clip without remembering to read the text. Perhaps a different layout would have helped with this too as my attention went from the thumbnails to the video without going above or below too much. Now, the thumbnails! They were both really cool and very frustrating. Elizabeth used the same image for all the thumbnails (a black-and-white close-up of an eye) which essentially took a lot of my choice out of the viewing experience, as the “choosing” the next clip was almost like a lucky-dip. If that was the feeling she was going for, it worked very well, but I didn’t think it actually quite fit with this project. Also, I was confused as to why some of the clips were in black and white and some in colour, I felt that if they were all in black and white the project would have been a bit more harmonious. And again, the looping clips weren’t to my personal taste, although I can see why they almost worked in this film.

Finally, Ben created Melbourne Unknown. Holy smokes, this one is scary, scary good! Not like, super scary, but I hate horror movies, and this definitely has that spooky, paranormal theme to it. It’s also, hands down, the best k-film I have seen. Ben has taken the restraints of the task and used them in unexpected ways. A good example of this is the thumbnails. Instead of square thumbnails where a detail of the next clip can be seen, Ben has made long rectangular thumbnails that stack underneath the main clip and are so zoomed in on a point of light that it’s impossible to tell what the clip is about. I hadn’t even thought to do something like that with the thumbnails! This k-film also has a clear beginning and end, even though there are many different paths to take in between. In fact, the beginning and end clip help to set the mood, theme and idea behind the k-film quite nicely. Another thing I really liked about Melbourne Unknown is how the clips ended. Each clip only played once and most of them ended by a quick pan or turn towards a bright light source, enhancing the creepy, spooky factor in the clips and giving the overall project a feeling of something outside the clips. The only thing that Ben could improve in this k-film would be the text. The choice of text was really good, but no attention was paid to how it looked visually, perhaps a change of font, size or colour is all the text needed to be taken to the next level.

So, what I took overall from these k-films is:

  • Carefully consider the interface in terms of layout, background colour, thumbnail size and text position.
  • Pick appropriate text that will create links between the videos but also be able to stand alone.
  • Push the boundaries! With text, thumbnails, interfaces and “story progression” (for lack of a better term).
  • Loop videos only if there’s a clear purpose that the viewer will understand.
  • Use title slides/opening credits to add value to the project.

Clearly the more thought that goes into a project, the better it is, and I think it clearly shows where a project has been carefully considered right from the start. Some interesting points to consider going into the second k-film project making stages.

Titles! They’re important too, remember?

My RSS reader was filled on Thursday and Friday with such exciting headlines as:
– K-film Individual Task
– IM- Assessment 1 – K-film
– Integrated Media K-film Explanation
– IM Assessment #1- Korsakow Film
– Korsakow film (with or without an ! at the end)
etc.

Haven’t we explored how useful it can be to give a title to your work guys? I remember an exercise I did in my first year of my teaching course where we had a hypothetical child in a hot air balloon and ten things they carried with them. We had to choose what to drop out of the balloon to let it rise high enough to avoid a hypothetical mountain. I don’t remember the whole list but it included food, love, water, shelter, a name etc. As first year students, the name was one of the first things we allocated to drop, but afterwards our tutor explained that experienced teachers always left the name in as long as they can, because a name is so important to a child’s sense of self.

Our projects may not be sentient (or, as Adrian would suggest, they may be) but that doesn’t mean that naming them isn’t important to their sense of identity.

Just some food for thought.

 

Mideatheire

Mideatheire is my first Korsakow project for Integrated Media 1.

I started this project by making an index card for each of my sketch tasks with the title of the task and the number of each task on it. Then I played around with different ways of sorting and connecting these tasks to each other. My first attempt at making connections sorted the films into four categories; movement, story, experiment, and short cuts. Then I linked the videos within each category and made links between the categories. I tested this as a draft Korsakow project but what I found was that I would get suck in category loops which was rather boring and there were a few videos that just kept coming up over and over (despite my limits on the links) which made the choices dull as well.

So I decided to think about it differently. I decided to think of this project like a poem. On each of my index cards, I wrote one word that described each task and linked it to a few other tasks. Then I wrote the numbers of the tasks I wanted it to link to. Some tasks linked to only three others, some linked to six or seven. My final step was to write the text that would make these links clear to the viewer of my final project. Considering the task that was to be shown, the tasks it would link to and the keyword I’d already identified, I wrote a few lines of prose on the back of each index card.

Now the project was coming together. I changed my draft project to use the new links I’d made and tested how it flowed when watched. When I was happy with that, I then put all my text links into one document so that I could see the outline of the project more clearly. That’s when I realised my subconscious self probably wants to commit suicide. Have a look at all the text as a sort of singular poem and make up your own mind…

With this slightly macabre overarching theme, I decided that I needed to make my Korsakow template reflect this bleak outlook as well, so I mixed greys and made all my thumbnails monochrome which achieved this reflection quite nicely. I debated making all the videos play in black and white as well, but not only would that take me way too much time to coordinate, I felt that the project overall needed a bit of lightness in it, and leaving the playing videos in colour made them seem more lively.  I used the template with the three thumbnails on the bottom and have placed the text in the middle because I want each element to be noticed in this order. First the video, notice what’s happening in each task, what’s the important part of it, and what speaks to the viewer? Second the text, reiterating something in the main video and providing a link to the thumbnails (and their videos) below. Third the thumbnails, notice in what ways they are the same, in what ways they are different and what links can be made between them and to the video and text above.

I’ll talk a little more about the text I have used to link the entire project together. Poetry occurred to me rather early on in the semester as a good way to link videos in a non-linear narrative because the lines of poems (especially the kind I often write) do not have to be told in a particular order for the overall message to make sense. And because I write poetry often, I knew it would be easy enough for me to come up with lines to use with this project. I didn’t expect the lines I wrote for the second draft of this project to be so perfectly able to link the first time round. But as it turns out, my subconscious is not only a fairly depressing place to be, but it’s also pretty ‘together’ so to speak, so the lines linked well right from the beginning. I did of course tweak them once I saw how they actually fitted with the videos, but it was easy to keep the theme of each line in tact.

I was wary of how I would be able to define my Korsakow project as ‘successful’ or not, what are the criteria of a successful project as compared to one that is not? For me the criteria was two main things; first, is the project something that I would enjoy and engage in as a viewer, and second, is the project something that I will be proud of telling people that I made? With Mideatheire, the answer is yes to both. My first draft of the project did not keep me engaged at all (even with the motivation of being the creator) and I was worried that I would create something that even I didn’t want to watch. However once I discovered my overarching theme, the project became inherently interesting and I wanted to test the connections and see what meaning I could make from them. I have shown versions of my second draft to my partner, a neighbour and a work colleague already and I can’t wait to share my final project with family, my social networks as well of course as my peers and teachers in Integrated Media.

The most important thing I’ve learnt in creating Mideatheire would be the importance of testing, testing, testing! In each draft I found something that wasn’t quite right, something that I could improve, change or delete entirely. Then once I’d made the change, it was important to test it again to see if it worked. The first time I thought I had fully finished my project I tested the export and found a missing thumbnail! That was a time costly mistake made only because I hadn’t properly tested my final draft export before considering it done. Testing also allowed me to constantly see the connections between my videos and discover the many, many ways they could link up, giving me a broader understanding of how other might view my work.

Loving Technology

Do you know what the greatest thing in the world is?

Lying in bed at 10.30 on a Wednesday night thinking “gee I’m hungry” and then picking up your phone, pressing a few buttons find open restaurants that deliver to your area, paying for your food using PayPal (!), then hearing a knock on the door a short while later and opening the door to find someone standing there with a huge bag of hot, delicious food just for you.

It’s even better when the dessert is Gulab Jamun.

Isn’t technology awesome?