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December 15, 2007

Lowrey Sims

I found Lowrey Sims' talk to be a very engaging discussion with some excellent points regarding museum art, environmental art and functional art. My favorite part of her talk was her discussion of some of the environmentally functional pieces. Traditionally, I am used to seeing art made solely for a viewer's senses. Many of the pieces Sims showed at the beginning beared the same aesthetic elements but had environmental impacts. The first things I recall are the gardens and ark layouts she showed. I find this departure from traditonal art to be very thought invoking, especially when displayed by an art curator such as Sims. I was also drawn to the series of Native American works that she showed. They depicted Native American towns with cultural images covered in gas masks and mutations. These works were extraordinarily eerie and depicted some of the images I would have had in nightmares if nuclear weapons had been tested near my hometown. I feel her discussion about environmentally fucntional versus traditonal museum art was spot on. Creating a piece with functionality adds another aspect to the work to be admired and questioned.

December 12, 2007

NROTC DOCUMENTARY

I was extraordinarily lucky that I had more time and rescources to work on my final project than the rest. Having the opportunity to create and open-ended work, attracted a lot of interest and help attract some of my best friends as actors. When I was first confronted with the task of creating a work with no parameter on the topic, I felt a little overhwhelmed. As did the previous projects, I had contemplated several ideas that I wanted to work on and practice editing. I decided to make an NROTC Documentary to because I honestly get a lot of questions about the program and thought it would be a pertainent follow on to my project II movie. I was amazed at how many people were willing to participate. Filimg with multiple actors was an exceedingly difficult task. Had I decided to include a blooper reel, my video would have been an extra hour longer. I spent the most time editing this video as well. One of the few stipulations for this project was making the format accentuate the theme of the video. I attempted to do this by doing the intial interviews in a very dry setting and filming the skits in a musical/jovial style. On the rough draft of my movie, I found many of my actors had inserted jargon that would be inconducive to an audience unfamiliar with my topic. I refilmed those scenes to frame the skits to be more viewer friendly. I did this in uniform and put myself in a hard light to create scenes that would meet a viewer's expectation of the military. I found these reshoots explained my piece beter and contrasted the silliness of the skits stronger than the previous. In the end, I am very satisifed with the final product and would like to continue this kind of work.

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November 28, 2007

Critique for Manda

Manda’s piece was extremely successful at questioning the idea of how to create a perfect world and making me laugh. At the beginning of the her film, I didn’t understand what the phrase “Hug a Furry Friend for a Better Tomorrow…? meant. I was unclear whether she was making a statement or asking a question. By the end of the film, it was clear that this statement, placed at the beginning, served as a question that set up the rest of the film. Manda’s film questioned the simplistic idea that hugs and smiles can make the world a better place. As a watched the cute animals cut through the toy soldiers and tear the main character apart, I understood the point of the film: being kind and gentle is a naïve way to create a perfect world.

The use of claymation proved to be an effective media format for Manda’s film. She was able to use it to make a big-eyed person and cute little animals. She had no dialogue in her piece, nor did she need any. Her uses of “Ooooooh?s and screams helped convey her “naïve perfect world? better than words could have. The scenery was also very well done. Her cheesy, colorful, background made it seem very innocent. Each animal had a character represented by its design, movement, and fighting style. It was shot fairly smooth and was able to hold a moderately fluid feeling.

The sound ended up being the best part of the whole piece. As I stated, her choice to omit dialogue worked very well for the film. Her timing was perfect and her cutesy “Oooooh?s conveyed the feeling well. The screams at the end were absolutely hilarious. They fit perfect and created a great sense of surprise and contrast at the end of the film.

In the end, I was very interested by Manda’s film. It was effective in discussing the idea of being kind and gentle to create a naïve perfect world. I felt the visual format, sounds, and storyline did a great job of pulling this idea together and discussing our theme.

Critique for Sam

Sam’s piece shows the history of the world to illustrate an idea of a perfect world. From an abstract standpoint, I can see how an Adam and Eve type story teaches history of our “perfect world? but I don’t exactly understand how it bonds with the theme. Reading his project proposal shed some light on the idea but still left me with more of a feeling of curiosity for the world than a sense of “perfection.?

The structure of the film was well planned, narrated, and shot. It was done in a very linear fashion. By far, the best part of the film was the way Sam seamlessly put the audience in a viewer’s perspective. His use of legos to create a changing environment was smooth and captivating. It was intriguing to watch the scenery change and develop into a historical landscape. The placement of significant events accentuated this perspective. Through his use of symbols and geographic changes, Sam was able to show us where we were and when it was instead of just telling us. This made for a stronger cinematic feeling with more depth of realism. This sensation was backed with his smooth photography and frame transitions.

His choice to use little dialogue added too his use of audience placement. The sound effects he had, were well done and contributed well to the piece. By using environmental sounds and random effects, he forced us to interpret what was happening instead of just telling us. This strategy made a strong contribution to his piece and ended up being a fine point of his work.

Overall, I found Sam’s piece to be effective in demonstrating the possibilities of creation. He did a good job of placing us in an atmosphere of wonder. I don’t see exactly how it shows a perfect world but I can make an abstract connection to get a deeper understanding of the world we’re in.

November 26, 2007

Visiting Artist: Lisa Lipinski

I'm not sure what happened to this entry the first time I posted it, but for your reading pleasure, here it is again:

Lisa Lipinski confused the hell out of me. I'm not sure if it was because I was low on sleep or if that was her style, but I could not follow her talk. it seemed like she was just rambling about topics at some points and I really had difficulty finding continuity in her discussion. I found this ironic (and perhaps it was intentional) that her talk was unstructured since her primary art format is sculpture.

Speaking style aside, I found a similar trend in Lipinski's work. In her sculptures, it was clear that there were continuing themes (history, politics, religions) but I was unable to find the meaning in the mass of her work. She addressed this topic in her discussion, stating that her work didn't always need to have meaning and it can be created just to exist. This frustrated me because she used some definite symbols that I wanted to hear explanations for.

After a while of trying to get over my frustrations with Lipinski's discussion and work, I decided that she had some good points. Art doesn't always have to say something, it can exist just to be seen, heard or felt. Leaving meanings unattached allows an interpreter to to see it for what it is, create your own meaning, or just observe.

Critique for Sean

Your perfect world made sense at the end. I like that you really had to build up the message you were trying to get across. The movie was really funny and I enjoyed your use of action figures. The power ranger was ridiculous in the best way. I especially enjoyed the "plot twists" and ending. Having that garbage thing come back and run over Leonardo was great and the laugh you gave him was really funny and really appropriate. The movie was a little sloppy, the strings and the tape was super visible and the movements could have been smoother but I think that it works for the movie and I totally understand about time on this project, it takes forever!
I really enjoyed the sound; it worked really well with the movie and gave it that extra push towards ridiculous humor. I think having Leonardo as the main character worked well for the movie as well, it kept things linear and making sense. I thought that the conversations between the characters were really well thought out and worked really well in the movie. The whole thing reminded me of Robot Chicken. I don't think I can say this enough..It was really funny!!
I believe that you were effective in getting your message across. A perfect world would be boring!

Project 4?

I have no idea where I want to go with this project yet. After my last experience with stop-motion animation, I can rule that option out entirely. There were some parts I enjoyed about the audio project but I felt extremely lacking without at least some visual attachment. By far, my favorite work this semester was making my project II video.
I came into this class looking for new creative ways to make movies, better ideas on concepts I could convey, and more effective editing and directing techniques to express a feeling. All in all, I know I enjoy video and I’d like an excuse to make another one and explore new processes. One thing I noticed lacking in the previous three projects was music. A potential project could be to make a music video of some sort. I don’t have any music talent, but perhaps I could create a visual side for one of my favorite older songs without a video. I would really like to explore the process of accentuating sound with images since so often we use sound as a secondary sensory aspect.
I would also like to explore other film styles. One idea I had to test this out would be to create a fake reality TV show. I could look online to see how reality TV directors film their shows and use their techniques with a “mocumentary? style and attitude. With this style, I would have a lot of freedom to utilize humor and satire again. If I went with this idea, I could either make a “Big Brother? style film with my roommates. Otherwise I could go back to the military theme and follow a half fictitious life of a ROTC student. I think both of these ideas would be fun to explore but I think I could explore some deeper ideas with the ROTC route.
Sticking with the reality TV theme, I also considered making a satire of the wave of survival shows on television recently. I could counter their videos about surviving trips through the Sahara, Arctic and Amazon with tips for survival on the University of Minnesota Campus. I explored this idea during the “Do it Yourself? project but decided against it because I decided I didn’t want to focus it around “Do it Yourself? theme. This would be a good time to try on that idea and see what I can reveal about this campus, student life, and making it as a young adult in general.
I’m not sure which idea I’ll end up going with. I like aspects of them all but they all seem a little bit shallow in content. Since most of my ideas come when the camera is actually running I might have to just try a few random ideas and see how it turns out; that way, I can get an idea of where the project wants to go and explore my actual feelings on the subjects. After I film and edit my next piece, then I can begin to explore creative ways to present it.

November 23, 2007

Critique for Sean's project

I found Sean’s stop motion project to be very creative because it reminded me of being a kid when I played with action figures and made up storylines. Firstly the use of the action figures like Leonardo, Splinter, and the yellow power ranger was interesting because kids are the ones who mix different figures together, so I found this variety of characters kid like. This variety worked well, because they all had their own style that added to the group; there was Leonardo the fighter, Splinter the serious one, that blob like creature (with a garbage face) was the dumb one, and the yellow ranger the funny one. I found the scenery worked with the theme but I felt a better one could have been made. The scenery reminded me of where a kid might play with his/her action figures. One scene that could have been used instead of the living room could have been a place like a city or sewer, since characters like Leonardo, and Splinter live in the sewer, and the blob creature looks like he might live in the sewer. I found that the sounds fit perfectly, and were very entertaining. The voices for instance fit each character well like Leonardo’s voice emphasized a serious and funny character. Splinter’s voice emphasized a serious person, while the power ranger was rather silly, and the blob creature just sounded crazy. I also liked the villain’s sound when he was flying and laughing, it added much humor to the animation. The villain and the blob creature were the funniest characters because of their voices. The idea of the hero choosing to be sort of a bad guy rather than live in a world without any problems is rather interesting because I really wonder how people will act in a world that does not have any crime, wars, and social problems.

November 21, 2007

A Perfect Hero

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Let me start off by stating that stop-motion filmography is a monster. I don't know how people who animate for a living keep hair. It's a good thing I'm bald or half of my head would have been pulled out in the process.

The hardest part of making my piece was the video capture. Trying to get 8 unstable figures to go through a series of unique movements and interact was painstakingly difficult. In the end, I ended up going through almost half a roll of duct tape, 2 sheets of double sided tack, and 2 cases of red bull just to get the photos i needed captured. Still, as the figures continued to fall over and ruin series of takes, I ended up tossing many a turtle across the room.

I found that as I continued taking shots, I got better at making smooth movements and did the process quicker. I hate the beginning of my piece. If I had more time (and less academic load) I would reshoot the whole first half. I was pleased with the ending but I really dislike the discontinuity in the framerates throughout the film. Since I was trying to make it look like a cheap, bootlegged work, written by a kid, making the sound was easy. I did a narration in the mindset of a kid playing with his toys. The product was reminiscent of my childhood afternoons. I feel the storyline, mixed with this sentiment of play and levity, emphasize the idea of a perfect world I was attempting to convey.

October 29, 2007

Your Equipment - Project II

People often muse at the extravagant budget allocated to the U.S. military and consider it a gross expenditure of tax dollars, often wondering where most the money goes. With all the taxes and funds put forth to fund American Armed Forces, people often wonder where most of their tax dollars go specifically. Oddly enough, grunts on the frontlines in combat find themselves asking the same thing. With approximately 75% of US Marine Corps vehicles lacking the basic armor required for combat and several Marines, Sailors and Sailors still using Vietnam-era medical packs, many service-members find themselves struggling to fight a modern war with antique equipment.

My video demonstrates some of the ironies of military service equipment. It utilizes a satirical, slapstick style to show the inconsistencies of fighting a modern war with outdated equipment. The items demonstrated are tools actually issued at various military schools and most the problems are common headaches for Marines, Soldiers and Sailors. The video is reminiscent of the majority of tacky military educational films, featuring unenthusiastic actors, terrible acting, and poor scripting.

Filming the movie was fairly easy. After I found a location with adequate light and decent acoustics, I was able to capture some good footage for editing. With over 35 minutes of raw footage, I knew the editing process would be a bit time consuming. After I pared the piece down to a manageable size, I was left with 15 minutes of footage and enough erroneous scenes to make a special director’s cut for DVD. I spent a lot of time moving each portion around and adding effects but I spent the most time fine-tuning the scenes to create the most seamless transitions possible. This process was a bit tedious and I was a little concerned I was making the same mistake as my audio project by editing a piece I was too close to. I found that cutting a couple frames can make big changes to a piece. In the end, I’m pretty happy with my product but I wish I had more time to re-film some of the bumps that I couldn’t edit out.


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October 10, 2007

Prosumerism

Dmitri Siegel's article on the DIY coffin brought up some very interesting topics about about our society and economy. His most interesting point discussed the idea of a customizable consumerism in which production and consumption are combined into one.

We have turned ito a very interactive society. Every successful product requires some form of customization for success. Our phones have specialized cases, interfaces, and ringtones, our movies are open for comments and discussion, and our music can be edited and transferred freely between consumers.

This style of DIY consumerism has made for a very individualized twist on products common to society as a whole. By putting the DIY twist on many popular products we have created an economy made to order. thhe famed "Have it Your Way" motto is now a reality for the majority of popular consumer products.

October 8, 2007

How to Change American Foreign Policy

One of the most annoying things in the world is people who complain but refuse to provide solutions for improvement. People often waste a great deal of energy blathering on about the state of affairs but fall short in doing something to better the status quo. While this obnoxious phenomenon is present in all facets of life, it is most prevalent in politics on college campuses. Here, people find the “peanut gallery? approach to political commentary the most enjoyable. By loading cars with bumper stickers, wearing politically fueled shirts, and making public displays of discontent, these sideline commentators make a lot of noise to let others know what their opinions are. While this process may prove to be fulfilling on an individual level, it does little to sway the community or provide substantial results for the betterment of the whole. This phenomenon became a great annoyance to me when I discovered many of my friends who had attended several political movements failed to even support their basic American freedom of VOTING. It absolutely frightens me when people are unwilling to make the simple effort of marking an electronic piece of paper to uphold the virtues many of the founding fathers of this country gave their lives for.
Through my video, I intend to expose the ironies of this social problem and potentially inspire others to take substantial action to seek solutions to political unrest. I will do this through a satirical video titled “How to Change American Foreign Policy from Home.? My piece will rely mostly on satire, irony, and humor in conveying the message. Since this situation is most visible on college campuses where opinions are hot and action is not, it will be easy to observe and capture examples of this sort of behavior in my peers. With four-year elections approaching in 2008, this is a critical time for observation and action. Video is an effective medium for social reflection and self-observation. By holding a multi-media mirror up to my peers and colleagues, perhaps I will be able to transform some selfish displays of opinion into effective mediums like community outreach, editorial writing, and commentary art.
I am playing with the idea of emulating the 1950’s style of informational video in present locations, familiar to University of Minnesota students. I feel this theme will carry the satirical tone the best, reliving some of the racist, sexist, and misinformed videos made in the past. It should contain constant narration from an off-screen speaker and feature a main character displaying what to and not to do in changing American foreign policy.

October 1, 2007

Sleepscape

This peice is an adventure in insomnia. In my profession, early wake ups are a continuing struggle. For night people, like me, this experience can be stressful and confusing at the same time. My peice attempts to emullate the struggle between distraction and peace of mind leading to a full state of relaxation. It deomstrates the conflict of daily sound, erroneous thought, and mental stress has with the mind's ability to shut down. The audio explores the connection between the physical and psychic space present in a struggle to fall alseep.

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September 12, 2007

Technology is my Crutch

I don't know what people did before computers or cell phones. The idea of not being able to instantly send or recieve information to a friend or co-worker absolutely perplexes me. I'm one of those people that are glued to a celll phone at all times. Back when I had my first mouth-piece-only flip phone, my ear was connected to the world. The ability to connect to others on a whim, regardless of location, was a skill far too convenient for me to neglect. Now that I have my third geneation Bluetooth headphones, internet-ready phone, and wireless E-Mail, I'm beginning to feel like a cybernetic organism, built to transmit useless information about my work and daily life.

The thought that people used to be able to get work done without personal computers also confuses me beyond belief. Relics like carbon-copy writing and "snail mail" seem like extraordinary departures from current applications of the modern PC. Technology has made me both lazy and wise. While the ability to "wikipedia" information has provided me with several useless tomes of knowledge on topics like "The War of 1812," "Andrew Jackson," and "Vampires" I go months without setting foot in a library and sometimes weeks wiithout cracking a book.

My appreciation for varieties of music has expanded greatly with my integrated cell phone/mp3 player combnation. With a constant connection to a music player, I have an insatiable apppetite for new music. The ability to download music has single handedly expanded my listening spectrum and abolished my need for a CD collection.

With all my technological attachments, connections and dependencies, I struggle to think how life existed befre the wire. When I muse about my extreme ability to acquire information instantaneously, I smirk smugly at my bredth of knowledge but can't help but think that I must be less resourceful than my technologically deficient ancestors. Technnology has become almost more of a crutch than a tool.