Category Archives: Food For Thought

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.

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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.

 

Noticed Beauty

I’m watching the Hindi movie Raajneeti and there was one shot that was so beautiful. I think it could have been taken on its own the without context of the shots around it and it still would have been beautiful.

The shot was mostly dark blue with a little bit of yellow to the side of Sooraj’s (the only character on screen at the time) face. Sooraj’s face was also mostly in shadow and his expression could be interpreted many ways if the context of the other shots was removed. Kind of like that experimental film where we interpreted the man’s expression according to the clips that came before and after it.

If I wasn’t Noticing (with a capital) what I was watching, I would have missed it entirely. Noticing has crept into my daily habits now and I’ve Noticed that it’s done so.

Impulse Buying

The way I use technology to navigate my media degree changes every semester.

First semester I only owned a netbook and took it to uni each day to take notes and do work between classes. Anything that I needed actual computing power for (read anything more complicated than opening a web browser or tying an essay, I’m looking at you video and sound editing!) I had to do at uni in the computer labs. In second semester I bought a larger more powerful laptop to use at home and still took my netbook to uni for note-taking etc. Then all my editing was done at home on my laptop, which I used more like a desktop as it rarely moved.

This semester, my big laptop has died (I’m in the process of going through the warranty to get it repaired) and I’ve stopped taking my netbook to uni. I take my notes with a really nice pen in art sketch books and use my phone to take photos and blog about my lectures. I then sort of work on my video and sound editing at home on the netbook, but that’s driving me nuts.

Once my big laptop is fixed, I should be okay to use it for my editing work, but in fact I’ve grown to hate it over the last few months. It’s just not quite good enough for what I feel like I need to get through this degree. So, I’ve decided to invest in a new computer. Something that I can use to edit video that won’t make me want to rip my face off (nb- this is not an exaggeration, I feel like doing this sometimes when trying to load a program on my netbook for the twelfth time!).

My budget is $2000, and that has to include shipping, accessories and an extended warranty (preferably three years). This is more than double what I’ve spent of computers previously, but I’m now looking at this purchase as an investment in my education, so I’m taking it more seriously.

I see three options at this point.

  1. I can buy a nice, large screen laptop (either a Macbook or a PC) that will mostly stay at home and be used like a desktop, but that can be taken to uni if I really need to use it between classes or for group assignments.
  2. I can buy a nicer, larger screen iMac that doesn’t travel with me, but that does have a bigger screen (useful for editing, although I do have a very large TV that I can use an an external monitor if I don’t go with the iMac option…), is less likely to be damaged due to it’s lack-of-portability and has a bit more oomph in terms of processing power.
  3. I can buy an Asus Taichi 21, because it’s cool. Actually, it’d be handy because it’s portable enough to take to uni (and I could use the tablet function to take notes in lectures, much like I do with my art books now), but it’s also capable of editing videos and sound because of it’s processing power and ability to be a laptop as well as a tablet.

I’m leaning towards to Asus Taichi at the moment, partly because it is super cool and partly because as a media student, I feel like I should be one of the people out there testing the cool new things and coming up with innovative ways to incorporate them into my professional media practice. In this review of the Taichi, Steve Chippy Paine says:

“In all the years of testing mobile devices we’ve never struggled this hard to think of a target customer. The ASUS Taichi fits as a high-end presentation device, a first-class-cabin PC but mainly as food for thought.”

And as a media student, especially reflecting on the most recent Integrated Media lecture, I want to take that food-for-thought and do something cool with it. Something unexpected. Something amazing. But I’m worried that it won’t be the best tool to help me with my degree in general, no matter how cool it is or what I end up doing with it.

On the other hand, all the computers we use at uni are Macs and most students have Macbooks. It would be useful to be part of the Mac crowd for group assignments and for transferring my work to the computers at uni. And I really should learn how to use a mac instead of being surprised every time my fingers brush the touch pad and something new happens!

This morning I was all ready to purchase the Asus Taichi, but using my super power of restraint (which seems to have been granted to me today, as I usually just click that buy button…) I have decided not to make an impulse buy, but to weight up my options over the next few days and make a rational decision based on facts and not emotions. Holy smokes!

So, I’ve already asked my dad for advice (“Think about what you’re going to use it for, then buy something that fits your needs rather than your whims…”), and I’ve asked the RMIT media Facebook group, and now I’m asking you, my blog readers. If you were in my shoes, what would you go for? Actually, without being in my shoes, what would you go for for yourself? And why? I’m interested, so tell me in the comments

Philosophical Thought Week 3

If a tree falls in the forest and there’s nobody there to hear it, does it make a noise? Moreover if there’s nobody there to perceive it, does it even exist?

If a tree falls on a train track and there’s nobody there to remove it, did the universe just cancel my philosophy class for today?

Philosophical Thought Week 2

Reality is completely irrational.

Descartes should have doubted further; I think that I think therefore something exists, probably.