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December 10, 2007

To Hear Is To See

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December 9, 2007

Visiting Artist Response: Lowrey Sims

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November 28, 2007

Critique for Jenna

Jenna’s ideal world is one in which time is no longer an issue. She has created a world where she is able to create “multiple Jennas?, capable of completing the many tasks on her hands. Her video opens with many scenarios and events being planned – all happening to be at 12:00. As she goes to each example, a reaction shot of Jenna is placed after each one, adding to the panic of having no time. As this is all going on in real time, the images suddenly shift to a stop-motion style, emphasizing the pure manipulation of time. Now, with her different forms, she is able to go running, socialize, and get homework done all at the same time.

I like the use of narrative in this video, however there is no real conclusion. I was a bit thrown off by the sudden black screen, signifying an ending. I liked the transitions between each segment, though, where it just shows Jenna’s feet running. It was consistent, and a nice change in pace from the dialogue and surrounding action.

The sound is definitely at a forefront in this project, however I think that it could have been brought out a lot more. There are noticeable gaps in between each speaking part, which I think could have better come out had there been a constant “room tone? going on behind each scene. That way, the dialogue wouldn’t seem to come out of nowhere. Besides that, though, I thought the dialogue was very effective in setting up each scene and the action that surrounds the video. I just think a little more attention to it would help ease the sometimes-distracting element of the sound coming out of nowhere.

Overall, I thought Jenna’s ideas for a perfect world were really interesting. The thought of having multiple ‘You’s is a cool twist on the perfect world assignment. I thought it was effective in portraying what she was trying to show, however I believe with a little more focus on the stop-motion aspect of the video and more focus on the audio, it would help create a much more coherent piece of work. I enjoyed watching it.

Critique of Chris' Perfect Nature Video

The perfect world of nature portrayed in Chris’ stop motion film certainly did bring new insight to the natural world of the environment in which we live. I liked what Chris did with the sound for his video in that he opened with the image of him attempting to be at peace with nature but the sound associated with the image was the loud, sharp noises we are so familiar with in our day to day lives. It really is difficult to find the serenity Chris looks for through nature in his idea of a perfect world. His intro established a good base for expressing what he currently is surrounded by (made apparent by the sound) with what he would like to be surrounded by (made clear with the visual of him lying on the grass). I think the idea itself is a really good and unique idea and the approach Chris took for showing his perfect world had the right intention.
For being a stop motion film I think there could have been a clearer display of stop motion. I know that he could have had so many shots that the picture blended really smoothly but I think he could have had a greater transition in each of the nature scenes. One example is with the red and pink leaves on the tree. In the portion of the video with these shown there is not very much contrast between the images shown so the beginning of the scene looks very similar to the end of the scene. As an alternative, he could have had shown the leaves on the tree and then watched them fall to the ground or possibly shoot photos as he moves through the tree so the viewer feels like they are walking through nature. The scene with the storm clouds was better in displaying stop motion and was visually pleasing. Chris’ closed eyes and smile in the final shots undoubtedly make known that the sights and sounds just displayed are the ideals he wants to have in his perfect world.

November 27, 2007

Critique for Chris

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November 26, 2007

Critique for Emanuela

Manu’s video is very well crafted. It presents an industrial world created of both clay and drawings in which a single subject is freed from the busyness by their own state of mind. Starting out surrounded by a mass of people, we see a woman trudging along among them. As more people keep passing her by, the camera zooms closer to her, following her to a busy intersection. From here, we zoom in and enter a mental state of bliss, marked by the clear switch from black and white to color (like the Wizard of Oz!). In this dreamscape colorful pinwheels, flying fish, and colored streamers surround our subject. And as she draws back to the real world, a sea of commotion again surrounds her; only this time, she is still happy in her tranquil state of mind.

I liked the narrative form that the project took, creating this circular trip in and out of this character’s mind. By starting and ending with the same images, we as the viewer, feel both the sense of completion and the effect that this state of mind had on the character. Along these same lines, the sense of space felt in this world is very well portrayed. We get a depth of field with the perspective drawings of buildings, and the characters appear and disappear in what seems like a huge expanse of unseen space. In the pure creation of such a world, I would say that Manu was very effective with her project. Aiding this claim, I’ll move to the sound aspect of the film.

The sound here is very beneficial to the project; without it, it would completely loose its effect. The viewer gets a great sense of the sound fully encompassing and taking over the space on the screen, which has the effect of placing the viewer in the scene and in turn, surrounding them. A great element of the sound is the transition between the busy surroundings into the state of mind. There is a great fade out and fade in to the ambient audio for the dream sequence, which is repeated to go back into the ‘real’ world. Although maybe lacking in varied “outdoors sounds?, the general hubbub sound of the streets was also done very well.

I think what Manu’s working at here is very effective with its meaning. The idea of a perfect world being a state of mind is a profound take on the directions we were given, seeing as many of us chose to create a physical alteration of our present world. I think she did a great job in executing her idea, and the work itself is genuinely good.

November 25, 2007

Project IV Proposal

For my fourth and final project I wanted to play a little more with the idea of sound - specifically the relation of sound to an image, and what this connection does to our senses. I realize this is probably a very experimented concept, and there are thousands of directions that I can go with this, but I have a few ideas at the moment. These ideas, however, seem different, and I don’t yet know if they would go better together or on their own (only played out more). This is where I’m at right now.

What I do know for sure is that I want to do some kind of sound on image presentation, probably just presented on a typical screen like that in class. I was thinking that it would be cool to use an old cartoon (such as a classic Loony Tunes, or that style of short cartoon) and juxtapose it with sound from another source - something that fits visually, but doesn’t match with the mood of the cartoon. I was thinking I would use songs to do this part of the project, the hard part being finding a good song or set of songs that fulfill what I’m envisioning.

The cartoon is sure to have an already given narrative structure. My job - and what I want to play with here - is to morph that structure into something different. I want to play with this theme I like of creating something new from an already existing source and flipping it on its head. That’s what I hope to achieve in this project.

For the technical aspects of the project I plan on finding cartoon clips (I have a few in mind) and somehow, either by video taping from the computer or by finding a program to rip decent quality video from a computer, put it into an editing program like Final Cut Pro. From there I will play with different choices of songs (I also have a few in mind) and from there, edit the sound and image together to create a new being. If the clip or music is too long, or for some reason needs editing, I will work around that with the editing techniques I’ve learned this semester. I hope this turns out how I’m seeing it now, and I hope it has the effect I think it possesses, but we’ll see…

A critique of Chris's video

I enjoyed watching Chris’s video clip because it put me in a serene mood. I think that Chris’s video is a well-structured piece that has a well-developed narrative. It has a definite beginning, middle and end. At the beginning we see a relaxed person lying down on grass surrounded by traffic noises. After some zoom-in shots the viewer is shown different images of nature, which include leaves, water and sky imagery. Those images are accompanied by simple and serene sounds of nature. At the end, the viewer is taken back to the first setting, which is only different from the original scene in that the busy noises are replaced by calm whistling.
With this video Chris is definitely focusing on nature scenes since the middle part is longer than the beginning and the end. He displays the imagery of nature in way that mesmerize the viewer. I can see that his imaginary perfect world is found in the beauty and serenity of nature.
Several shots of nature in the video are nice, but what really stands out in his movie is the nice shot of the moon. It has a rich contrast between dark and white values.
Chris explores the representation of time. By showing us the change from day to night the viewer can see that time is passing. I interpreted this change to show that in an imaginary world, time has a different quality. It also seems to symbolize that time passes at a faster pace when we do something that we like.
The soundtrack goes well with the subject and the visual format. There is a clear shift from the chaotic, and loud sounds, which represent the hectic world of the city to the serene and peaceful sounds in the perfect world of nature. The sound change that occurs between the beginning and the middle part builds up a sharp contrast between two different worlds: the real and the perfect world. While in the beginning the sounds have a more repelling effect, the middle part includes more pleasant noises. The only thing that distracted me a little bit was the fact that I could hear some repetition of sounds in the middle part. But this was only slightly distracting. A second point that I would like to mention is that I got confused in the beginning of the video since I see the person relaxed. I think it would have been better to clarify that the city sounds were a source for anxiety to make the point of being displeased by those sounds in contrast to the perfect world.
All in all, the video is effective in getting the message across of showing us Chris’s personal perfect world.

Critique for Mike

Mike’s project is all about music and is strongly influenced by his use of sound. It starts with a person walking into a cluttered room. Among this messy image is a droning beat of a drum, the never-changing continuity of our everyday lives. From this messy ‘real’ world, we enter into a created music world, made by drawings with markers on a dry-erase board. Here, instruments are created, and one-by-one they provide another piece to the freeing musical solution of our messy lives. When each new instrument is created (and then tested), they all return together in the end to create a structured piece of music. As this new song plays out, we exit the same way we came in, only this time the material world we were once surrounded by is now clean. In essence, we are set free.

This idea of music as a freed peace of mind from our busy lives is a great play on our given theme of a ‘Perfect World’. With the use of the choppy effect Stop-Motion adds to a work, it brings a whole new dimension to the structured element in question. Both the image and the sound are fractured, unable to be seamless because of the underlying essence of our theme: Our world has caught us in a deadly routine and it takes something as powerful as music free to us from all of that. In this sense, the provided circular narrative works very well for the concept. We start and finish with the same images; only it is the middle section that causes the change that polarizes the beginning from the end. Whereas in the beginning time seems to drag (the long stroll to our destination, the droning effect of the drums, etc.), the ending has a very fluid sense of time (despite the stop-motion choppiness).

Going off of this theme of structure, the audio picks up where the images alone can’t reach. As mentioned before, the beginning is all about the droning tempo of the drum. When we reach the middle, however, something pretty amazing takes place: as each instrument is tested, the structure of the 4/4 tempo disappears, providing a freed world without tempos. The significant aspect of this, though, is that each instrument (once free) comes back together to form a unified piece of music, suggesting that not all structure is bad. In these respects, I would say this work is very effective. Every element put into the video adds to the idea of depicting a world saved by music. And in these regards, this project as a whole is quite effective.

November 20, 2007

Project III: "Featuring Nature"

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November 4, 2007

Project III Proposal: A Perfect World

What is a perfect world? It’s a question people have been asking for centuries, yet many have accepted as an impossible dream. But what if it’s around us already and we’re just missing it? This is what my project is going to attempt to tackle.

Through real life, stop-motion photography, I’m going to create this perfect world by simply showing what’s always around us - nature. In our ever-increasing, fast-paced society, it’s so easy to get caught up in everything else and fully miss the beauty in our own back yards. I know it’s quite Norman Rockwell, Walt Whitman, and pretty cheesy, but I think it’s a genuine truth in our time. Therefore, my “perfect? world would be our same world, only with us having a heightened sense of what’s around us, to fully enjoy our time on this earth. I feel that taking these things for granted has caused a lot of the problem’s we see today, and if we all just took the time to see the serenity in nature, it would reflect in our behaviors and ourselves. At least in my world it would…

Some locations I was thinking of, and subjects to film, include: crunching leaves in an everyday walk, the movement of water (probably shot down at the Mississippi), the movement of the sky and trees, and probably relaxing in the grass. I will more than likely have a human subject in there somewhere, maybe walking through and observing these different aspects of nature and taking it all in, or at least relaxing in the grass at the end.

I’m playing with the idea of a circular narrative to convey my project, perhaps starting out with a subject “relaxing? in our present day world - with the busy noises of traffic, people, cell phones surrounding him - and flowing through my perfect nature world, ultimately ending with similar composition of our subject finally being able to relax, surrounded by nature.

Now to the sound aspects of the project. I’m kind of torn on how I want to present this, struggling where I want to even use sound. I’m playing with the idea of presenting this calm world with almost no sound added to it, or at least have a legitimate use of sound throughout, but completely cutting all sound at the point of pure peace. I thought that would be kind of cool. Otherwise, I was thinking of using a collage of sounds similar to those of the images shown (i.e. rustling leaves, the crunching of leaves, water, and maybe some bells like the ones heard around West Bank - I like those…). I’ll probably capture said sounds with those microphones we used for the Sound Primer, and mix my sound collage together either using Audacity or Garage Band.

I’m hoping this turns out the way I’m seeing/hearing it, and not like some Soundscape CD found at Target. I’d like to think that I can separate the two, but I suppose time will tell.

Visiting Aritist: Michael Krueger

Michael Krueger's work covers a broad range of mediums and ideas. Whether he's dealing with digital media/images, print making, or drawing, his themes and personality always shine through.

One theme he demonstrated in some of his works was the idea of making and animating something that is ordinary, and transforming it into the extraordinary. One way he did this involved a series of images of fruits and everyday foods or objects and giving them distinct human features (like a face, arms, legs, etc.) I thought this was a really cool concept because I have always looked at everyday objects in a very human-esque way, giving trees faces, or looking at the shapes of things. On top of that, the images he showed were pretty funny, which is fitting because Michael Krueger is a pretty funny guy.

Another concept in his works involved cultural identity. Having found his old high school notebooks one day, he decided to use those and create something new out of them. Filled with sketches of heavy metal band names and images of his teenage years, he made color prints over these images, and created works of art. I like this process of creating something new out of old things (and especially pertaining to pop-culture or lifestyles of that time).

Besides this, Krueger presented work heavily influenced by American History and Kansas History (he teaches at the University of Kansas), as well as works construced with amazingly accurate symmetry. Overall, I liked his works and ideas that he presented, and thought that his fresh (and humorous) views on pop-culture, history, and human nature are a breath of fresh air to the boring, day-to-day images around us.

October 26, 2007

How To Be a Bro

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October 9, 2007

DIY Coffin

I thought Dmitri Siegel's article was pretty interesting. I've been aware of this ever growing "do it yourself" age that's upon us, but I never really looked at it in the extent that he did. One point that I liked dealt with the issue of book companies being worried about selling books by their book cover. But, like he stated, I know when I have a book in mind, I generally want to know what other people thought of it. This system of rating kind of puts these corporations in place by letting them know that we, the consumers (and nowadays, prosumers), often hold the final say in things.

The article left me with some looming questions, however: where do things go from here? Are we soon to become entirely DIY, thereby eliminating many elements that structure consumerism? Or are these corporations somehow going to incorporate this idea of the consumer being in charge, and market that? I guess we'll just have to wait and see...

October 7, 2007

My Video Project Proposal

For my Video Primer project, a “How To…?, I’ve been tossing an idea in my head that I think will work and be effective. Essentially, it would be a guide on “How to be a Bro?, a satire on what it means to just be a ‘dude’ and ‘chill’. Now, for some, this won’t make sense, which is why I will take some time in the video to define it. Actually, the core of the video is defining this concept - nowadays a very stereotypical personality especially seen in University life. I want to make this project, first, to show a funny commentary on a character you’ve probably seen many times around campus, and two, to subtly bring about questions such as how a person like this is pursuing higher education. My intended audience will definitely be college students familiar with cultural references and the stereotypes surrounding this character.

I’m still debating how I want to present it, but I’m leaning more towards a step-by-step, collage of aspects and situations usually associated with a Bro. One segment I had in mind is the “guitar-swooning Bro? who almost always has a song to play for the equally stereotypical “Chick? who likes the “Bro?. The shot would either be in some kind of stereotypical nature shot (i.e. leaning on a tree) or a more ‘college’ setting, like a dorm room.

Other such segments that I was thinking about were: tailgating, speech patterns, and the use of abbreviations in everyday conversations (such as “Bro; def; chicks; brewskies?; and many, many more); and perhaps a study session with one such Bro. Each would have its own style, but with the same subject (probably played by me). I’m hoping to shoot most segments in my dorm, seeing as it’s a natural habitat for some of the guys that fit into my typecast.

There are many technical aspects - both in filming and editing - that I hope to use. Ideally, I don’t want this to look like a hyperactive teenager filmed it with his Razr cell phone. I will probably shoot the video in wide angle, mainly because I like the aesthetic framing it enacts. I hope to have some cinematic elements to the segments (including: shot/reverse shot segments, non-eye level camera angles, different point-of-view shots, and more). As far as editing goes, I will do my best to smooth out the rough edges by using different fades and wipes between scenes. I might try and do an inset-type segment, where it shows (in a picture-in-picture manner) what the Bro is actually thinking about when someone “boring? is talking to him.

Ideally I want to get really in depth with this video project, using different types of lighting, props, costumes, but with the amount of time I have to finish this, I don’t think that will be possible. I will put in a lot of effort for this to be the best and most accurate representation that I can make.

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Reflecting On My Project Critique

Upon listening to it again (after the other countless times while working on it), I'm very pleased with the way my sound project turned out. I had the ideas in my mind of how I wanted it to sound, and for the most part, they are pretty similar. Given what I had to work with, the time constraint for the actual recording, and the pretty limited amount of sound editing that I have, I am pretty pleased with the overall result.

One of my main focal points was to get across this feeling of movement. I was pleased to hear that others felt this way while listening to it, and actually feeling a sense of moving around the club, going near speakers, entering bathrooms, etc.

Another thing that I thought was interesting was the interpretation that most people took of it. I had the idea that most people would see the bathroom segment as a sort of escape from the noisy club, or something like that. But, I'm glad that others found humor in the simplicity of what was going on.

If I had to do this project again, I don't know how much of it I would change. I don't know how it would impact it, but after hearing what other people thought about it, I was thinking what the effect of adding some spoken words over some of the noise would have. This would give it some more context, probably (hopefully?) give it some more humor, and provide a new look on the sounds around. But, it is what it is, I guess...

September 26, 2007

Journey Through the Club

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September 12, 2007

Daily Life and Technology

For me, digital technology is definitly a forefront in most of what I do. In thinking about it, digital technology is the basis for my communication - whether it's through my laptop (with e-mail, messages, video chat, etc), my cell phone, or others. My laptop is my main source of anything I do digitally. It provides my leisure, communication, work, study, and backdrop for whatever else I need to get done.

Why I use this technology is simple: it's usually fast, easy, and vital to getting around in present-day American college life. With many internet-only resources out there, it's kind of a no-brainer why I wouldn't use this technology. But one thing has been on my mind lately, and that is the fear of over-dependence on technology such as this. As easy it is, it can always go wrong. I think that's important to remember in this digital, technology-driven period of time.

-Chris