The Aussie Affair- Critical Reflection

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The Aussie Affair- Critical Reflection

Coming into the Master of Media course, I was looking forward to studying in a creative, modern and a laid back environment. On the commencement of the course, CMWP (Contemporary Media Work Practices) was one such subject that offered exactly what I wanted.

One of the assignments for the unit was to create a digital story or a project i.e. fiction or non-fiction and promote it via social media. My Indian classmates and me were really attracted to the pitch that Chai Junction delivered and therefore decided to do something for them. On our first meeting with Jeri from Chai Junction, we came up with this topic of how international students cope up with living in a foreign country alongside new people, new place, new environment and the situations they are faced with. Some are fun but some are really dreadful.

I’m sure every international student must have gone over the Internet and searched for ways to deal with ‘homesickness’ and I’m no different either. Studying in a foreign country might be all-exciting, but there are also tough times you face with too. So me and my ‘international’ friends comprising of Khsuhboo, Ankit, Eeshan, Maria, Mohit and Sakshi decided to make a short-film by interviewing international students from all over the world. Given the time-constraint we chose to interview 4 students namely, Carie (USA), Yuri (Indonesia), Neel (India) and Tor (Norway).

The interviews were shot mainly on campus with the introduction shots been taken around the State Victoria Library. The equipment used was a Nikon DSLR and a Xoom recorder with lapel. As far as the content goes, the interviews were kept to be funny through the questions been asked. The questions were spread across the three phases every international student goes through i.e. The Honeymoon phase, the cultural shock and the Acceptance. The cutaway shots have been taken from all over Melbourne. For example, the Chai Junction event at the Multicultural Hub, State VIC library, Flinders street, Swanston Street etc.

As far as the mood goes, there has been a balance maintained between interviews. Carie and Yuri provide with a comic touch to the film and on the other hand Neel and Tor have been more of a formal and serious conversers. I am extremely happy with how the video has turned out. It shows perfect transitions between shots without diverting from the subject itself. The pros lies in the picture quality, audio quality and the cinematography that is captured through the DSLR. The only downside of the video is the length. It could have been a little crisp in terms of duration. All in all I am extremely proud of the effort me and my team has put into this.

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Apple now is ‘BEAT’ing

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News broke when the tech-giant Apple would bought Beats, a headphone-maker and music platform, for $3 billion. According to me, it seemed like a high price to pay to hang out with the cool kids. Beats, which is owned by the rapper Andre “Dr. Dre” Young (pictured) and record producer Jimmy Iovine, makes expensive designer headphones. Earlier this year it launched a new streaming platform, where people can play their favourite tunes in exchange for a monthly fee, called Beats Music.

When Apple announced its iTunes Radio offering last year, analysts thought it was only a matter of time before Apple went one step further and launched an “on-demand” streaming service to compete with the likes of Spotify. (Radio services play songs in a certain genre, whereas on-demand services let people select specific songs, and are growing in popularity.) They were right. Instead of launching its own and negotiating deals with individual labels, however, Apple is buying a streaming service that is already mid-song. Beats Music has a distribution deal with AT&T, a mobile operator, which packages the service with some of its plans.

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The deal shows how quickly the music industry is moving away from a model of ownership toward one of accessing content. Apple helped save the music industry when it introduced its music download store in 2003 and helped turn the purchasing of portable music files into a business worth billions. Now it is stepping into another musical era. And this time Apple is not leading, but following, the line dance.

Being Naughty- Critical Reflection

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Yes I admit it, I don’t always enjoy doing assignments.. But when I do, it is for something that is somewhat related to creativity.. The video-editing assignment for my subject ‘Media Objects’ has been one of them. Not only because it was creative but also because it was a bit challenging as video editing has not really been my cup of tea.

The Task
– To Edit a sequence of videos with a total run time of 4 minutes
– Depict a theme through the video sequence (impact or flow)
– Use at least 4 found, royalty, copyright free videos
– Include the single shot video (Third Time Lucky)

Movies have fascinated me all my life. The way they are written, shot, edited etc. is something that gets me thinking every time I watch a well-made film. So telling a story through my video-editing assignment is what I wanted to do. Hence, I chose flow as it would be more suitable to say story or rather a backstory to the single-shot video.

The ‘flow’ of the video has been something like this:

  • A time-lapse shot of a hustling city in the morning
  • A guy waking up to the alarm with a nice soothing tune at the back
  • He does the normal morning routine like brushing teeth, eating cereals
  • Switches on the TV wherein he sees a guy speaking about heroes
  • Goes on a quest of picking up girls thinking that he is a hero too.
  • Now starts the single shot video wherein he walks around, checks out girls, tries his luck with two of them but is rejected. He then sits in despair. Shortly, a girl sits next to him, who gives him her number. He succeeds, its victory!
  • Next comes a short cartoon clip wherein the term ‘Naughty’ has its meaning being told.
  • THE END!

The first task was to find a series of videos that could depict something that happened before ‘Third Time Lucky’ happened (a guy picking up girls). My research as far as videos go, ended on two main sources i.e. vimeo.com/creativecommons and http://www.videoblocks.com.

The second most important task was to find relatable or syncing audio for some of the videos. This had to be done as not all video came with audio or when some really needed that extra bit of sound to create a better overall impact. http://www.freesound.org provided me with probably every sound I wanted in this assignment, a wonderful source for copyright free audio.

Initially, I was quite confused as to which software would be comfortable for me to work with. On practicing around in a few ones, I found Adobe After Effects CS4 effective for this task. The editing work, being not too complicated, was quite easy to execute. As instructed earlier by my tutor, Mr Tom Wright, the first thing I did was saving my Project. This made things quite relieving as I wouldn’t lose all my hard work.

Videos were cropped wherever possible and were rendered every now and then to check the work being done. “Opacity” is the transition that is used in most cases. I found it to be much more natural. Videos were overlapped and then transitions where applied to give more accountability to the topic of ‘flow’. Audio waves in the single shot video were cranked up to 8db to make it more audible and clear. It took me around 2 full days to be done with the editing work. I can surely say, Im pretty happy with it.

The strengths of the video lies in the main content itself. The videos found from the web go well with the ‘flow’ and sync well as a backstory to the single shot video. However, I feel I would have liked to have an audio added for the cereals being put in the jar. It was tough to find any audio to go with it. Hence it was left mute. Also, I struggled to find a footage of another morning routine i.e. of bathroom shower.

Writing on something you feel proud of, is surely fun. I have already crossed the word count. So I guess I should Stop it here. Thank you 🙂

Video URLs-

http://www.videoblocks.com/videos/details/morning-rushes-over-city-time-lapse/ 

https://vimeo.com/85970592 

https://vimeo.com/12545679 

http://www.videoblocks.com/videos/details/slow-motion-pouring-cereal-2/

http://www.videoblocks.com/videos/details/slow-motion-pouring-milk-on-cereal-1/

http://www.videoblocks.com/videos/details/experimental-tv-static/

http://www.videoblocks.com/videos/details/reporter-question-about-being-heroes/

https://vimeo.com/95925101

Audio URLs-

http://freesound.org/people/blaukreuz/sounds/212194/

http://freesound.org/people/klankbeeld/sounds/222645/

http://freesound.org/people/Puniho/sounds/231298/

http://freesound.org/people/Setuniman/sounds/157886/

Online Digital Storytelling.. An interactive media vehicle…Three great ones mentioned below…

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I had no past experiences as far as the online digital storytelling is considered. However, on doing my research I found this online phenomenon to be one of the most exciting, fun and interactive way to connect to the viewer. One such experience happened when I bumped into not one but three stories!

ROME

Originally a concept album for a film that does not (yet) exist, Rome is a multiplatform interactive narrative experience inspired by the music of Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi (featuring Jack White, Norah Jones and renowned composer Ennio Morricone’s original 40-piece orchestra from Italy).

Director Chris Milk, is an artist focused on technology-generated emotional resonance through interactive video who created this project. The result culminated into a feature film produced by Likely Story and Annapurna Pictures, which was adapted from the novel The Reapers are the Angels. The project integrated the use of webGL within the Chrome browser, creating a rich graphical interactive experience complete with elements of game play.

The obvious strengths in this one lies at the mere user-experience it provides with. Its feature of allowing people to share their dreams as well what makes this one unique. The weaknesses here are hard to mention as there isn’t any. A wonderful piece of digital storytelling I feel.

http://www.ro.me/

TAKE THIS LOLLIPOP

When you open up the site and click on an image of a blue lollipop, you’re prompted to allow Take This Lollipop to access your Facebook profile. This is standard stuff; for instance, if you want to use your Facebook profile to comment on a website—say, Slate—you agree to such access. But Take This Lollipop demonstrates exactly what you agree to when you hit “OK.”

In a stunning display of interactivity, the site shows a creepy video, a couple of minutes long,  showing a dirty, creepy man, his fingertips caked with grime as he points his way to Facebook. There, he accesses … your profile. The site takes the information from your Facebook page and seamlessly weaves it into the video. You watch as the stalker looks at your photographs, your recent status updates, your list of friends. Then he pulls up Google Maps and finds directions to your home (geographic data contained in your profile). He hops into a car, your profile photograph taped to the dashboard. The scene ends as he gets out of the car, presumably to track down his target—you. As horror movies go, the plot’s pretty thin. But it’s still jolting to see yourself cast as the victim.

In a wonderful use of Flash, this viral digital story is dramatically intriguing. Flash, being the front-end application used to execute, there has also been a back-end use of either C+ or BHP in this online phenomena.

http://www.takethislollipop.com/

BEAR 71

What could be better than promoting an environment cause through a documentary published as an interactive digital story? That is exactly what Bear 71 tries to do.

Bear 71 creators have developed a unique narrative based off GPS data and thousands of photographs culled from motion-triggered cameras situated across Canada. The ‘viewer’ here, is charged with navigating a gorgeous symbolic landscape in order to keep up with Bear 71 as she weaves in and out of contact with human infrastructure.

The browser-based documentary provides a chronology of the bear’s life and the narrator speaks not only for the subject, but omnisciently – she speaks to highlight the tension between the bear’s instincts and the dense overlay of technological systems that it now finds itself enmeshed within.

The strengths here lies at the extent, depth of this story. It is vast! The amount of effort gone into the making of this can certainly be seen in the outcomes once the viewer experiences it. Weaknesses here are hard to point out.

http://bear71.nfb.ca/#/bear71

Being ‘Audibly’ talented is now super easy..!

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We have different reactions to different kind of audios. We feel relaxed listening to a soothing piece of music and on the other hand, the sound of nails scratching against the blackboard makes us go NOOOOO!! STOP !!! We also have our favorite set of songs that we keep listening to each day. So.. What makes them so different from the rest? Well its obvious. They just sound good! Being a media student myself, I was very much fascinated on knowing how these set of audio are put together in music, movies or practically everywhere on Earth. If you could edit a piece of sound in such a manner that it sounds unedited, good to the ears and touches you, that art would be pure genius.

Hence, I set off on this journey of making myself familiarize with how sound is edited and possibly get some training as well. Youtube is pure genius in such things. You can learn literally anything and everything for free. Of course, its the uploader’s generosity to take time in recording and making these tutorials out there in public for free.

Audacity is one such tool that is completely free and does the task of any top class audio converter. I downloaded it as soon as i knew of it. The basics were covered in one single video and I was quick on grasp all the info as I was familiar with them, having worked in some basic editing tasks in my graduation degree course. Moving on to a little advanced tutorial, that included a few editing activities, I was getting more and more involved and motivated to learn more. The tutorial involved cutting, deleting, looping several audio pieces.

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Another interesting section was the innovative mixing of audio with speech. This was super fun. You could take any two sounds and mix them together and make them sync. Once I was done with these set of tutorials, I moved on forward with several other tutorial links on Youtube. Here are a few of them:

I plan on taking this journey ahead and learn more on creating, editing, syncing sounds/audio pieces. It is definitely going to help me in the years to come in the Media Industry..!

Thinking creative, drawing digital!

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Looking at the comic books in my childhood days, I always wondered. How do people draw so well? Now, I have to say, well.. its a craft, its a talent and it is learning. Welcome to the world of digital drawing. Ok, so.. What is digital drawing? To put it simply.. It is drawing pictures, but digitally! This means you are able to draw using a number of softwares on a computing device like a PC or tablet.

Lets try understanding the basics of digital drawing. We have two types of images when it comes to this task i.e. bitmap or raster and vector. Whats the difference? Well.. there is quite a difference. Vector drawing is meant to be more precise, accurate and cleaner than bitmap drawing. Bitmap on the other hand gives a much more natural looking drawings similar to drawing free-style on a notepad. When it comes to choosing a software to learn Digital Drawing, I would recommend Photoshop or Gimp if you plan on creating bitmap images using pixels and Inkscape or Illustrator for vector drawing.

Starting with bitmap, you should be familiar with Gimp or Photoshop. Once you know the basics, it is pretty simple to start working. Simply open a new file with a blank background and put your creative mind into work. Choose any of the drawing tools like paintbrush, pencil or spray paint as they are easy to work with. But remember! Always work by using a number of layers as it will make drawing much easier and flexible. Here’s an example.

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Mastering the drawing of vector images can only happen after a looooooongg time of practice. Therefore, it is always a good step to familiarize yourself with some basics. However, here are some of them for you to start with.

Layers:

As mentioned earlier, digital drawing should always be done using layers. It makes your job a lot more simpler and organized. It comes in handy when you need to fix or modify a certain part of the image. If layers are present, you don’t have to go all the way back to rectify it.

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Drawing

Vector drawing allows you to choose between three main tools i.e. pencil, pen and a fountain pen. According to your preference choose any of them. Resizing and distorting here is simpler and can be done using the arrow tool.

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Editing

Both Inkscape and Illustrator has easily navigable editing tools. Inkscape has a tool on the toolbar which reveals the nodes on your drawing. Drag it to edit it however you want. Similarly, illustrator has a pen tool that allows you to access points that you could edit.

Coloring

If you are one of ‘color-lovers’, why not make it fun. Using the color tool fill a shape with any color you like. The color can be chosen in the color chooser section in Inkscape and Illustrator.

Saving

Don’t forget to save the file or all your hard work can disappear in no time. The format is .SVG. But if you want to use it in photoshop later, choose the eps format.