Media Objects: Audio Assessment Task

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Theme: “Catalyst, sounds that change a situation”

For the third task in Media Objects we are to collect seven sounds which reflect and interpret the theme of ‘Catalyst’. In the previous assessment involving Photography I looked at the theme of Catalyst as objects that cause change in my day. I looked specifically at breakfast which allows our bodies and minds to function with our daily tasks.

For this task we are to record and collect seven sounds which have to be ‘unedited’. I was disappointed that we couldn’t edit the sounds as I originally had ideas that involved using Adobe Audition or another sound editing program. However I came up with ideas that involved unedited sounds which I created and I sourced other sounds too.

Four sounds must be recorded, 3 can be sourced (need to be copyright free)

Combination of long sounds (atmosphere) and short sounds and only one music track

Sound 1

Rainy Car:

Waiting in traffic while it starts raining. I turn my wipers on to push the rain off the windshield. Catalyst’s include the rain and also accelerating once the green light comes on to get to my destination.

Sound 2

Drinking Ice Cold Coca-Cola:

Similar to my photography work. Drinking Coke brings on a change in the body. Not only is my thirst quenched but also the caffeine gives me a boost to finish my tasks for the rest of the day.

Sound 3

School bell:

Brings on change of periods for students and teachers at High School. The bell is a catalyst in all schools as it brings change in subject, recess, lunchtime and also closes the day.

Sound 4

Click of a camera:

The sound of the shutter button clicking and taking a photo of something. This change occurs and a photo now exists. A moment in time captured forever.

Sound 5

Sourced from freesound.org

Converge 1.aiff by JimiMod

This is a soundscape I found online from a copyright free website that allows you to download free soundscapes and music for a film production. This piece is a loop of four tracks with one of them being at a slower tempo than the rest. It catches up as the loop begins to repeat. I thought this soundscape interpreted the theme of catalyst perfectly as the sounds build up to an intensity which can cause change for a character in a science fiction, thriller or horror film. The soundscape puts you in a dark space which you want to escape.

Sound 6

Sourced from freesound.org

Heartbeat at 60bpm by klangfabrik

This is another soundscape I found online from a copyright free website. This one is of a heartbeat. The bass is very low and you will need to have headphones to hear it. The soft beating of a heart is the catalyst for every human being to function. The heart pumps blood throughout our body and allows us to exist. We are all catalysts in this world and we all have one major catalyst inside us and that’s our hearts.

Sound 7

Music track

Catalyst by Zilmrah

This music track was sourced from filmmusicarchive.org a website which allows the user to download copyright free music for a film or for personal listening. This music track incorporates spoken word with electroacoustic and field recordings. It is an avant-garde piece which is at times hard to listen to but open for much interpretation. I find it incorporates the theme of Catalyst as the music brings about change in mood in its timbre and tone. It would make a good soundtrack to a film where the villain is introduced and brings about change and destruction to the main protagonist.

Media Objects: Photography Critical Reflection

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For our photography assessment we are to create five images, which represent the theme of ‘Catalyst’. The theme of catalyst was selected to emphasise this point; something that provokes change, that exists on the precipice of cause-and-effect relationships.

As I looked at the theme of catalyst, I looked at catalysts in my own day-to-day activities. As I poured my cup of coffee and sat to drink it I thought about coffee and its affect on my day and my body. Coffee is regularly drunk in the morning with breakfast. It contains caffeine, which can give one a boost of energy to start their day. I thought coffee would be a great object to look at for my photography.

However I didn’t just want to take five pictures of someone drinking coffee. Originally I wanted to take slow motion shots of the coffee machine at work. The coffee powder hitting the cup. The boiled water steaming towards the powder. I thought this could be a good idea. I researched how to take slow motion photography, which could be taken with a high-speed camera. As I researched different techniques I can up with another idea. I thought of a sequence of five shots showing different catalysts including coffee, red bull and alcohol and how they change the body. Then I began developing this new idea.

I changed my mind one last time as I was researching different photography techniques I found ‘burst’ photography. Burst photography is a series of shots taken in quick succession which can either be blended together in one image or separated to find the best shot. I thought I could incorporate this technique with my idea. I thought of coffee and the sequence of how its made with the water hitting the powder to create change and ultimately create change in someone’s body. I decided on five different breakfast foods as they are catalysts for each person’s day. They help them wake up and strive.

I chose five different forms of catalysts for breakfast.

Coffee: Hot coffee whether you have it black, with milk, or with sugar is the quintessential pick up for everybody in the morning. It contains loads of caffeine, which can give you a boost and gets you up and ready for work, school or play.

Green Tea: A hot cup of green tea is becoming increasingly popular in our western culture. It is quickly becoming a healthier option to coffee and even regular black tea. With less caffeine and more antioxidants, green tea also helps with cancer prevention, cardiovascular health and weight loss. I now have one black coffee in the morning and if I need another boost during the day I’ll have a green tea.

Berocca: Berocca is also becoming a healthier choice for a boost in the morning. With Vitamins B & C, Folic Acid, Magnesium, Biotin, Zinc and Calcium Berocca does indeed give you that “B-B-Bounce”. It is a powdered tablet, which you put in water and allow it to quickly dissolve. Then drink it up and your ready for another busy day.

Eggs: Eggs are an important whole food and are a healthy and tasty option for breakfast. They are packed with protein and can be fried, scrambled or poached. I love them any way and I especially love them with bacon in the morning. They also help you get a boost in the morning and help you take on another busy day.

Juice: The last image would be of a blender and juice. This is a very healthy option for breakfast. You can put fruit, vegetables, milk or water blend them together and have a tasty healthy breakfast. They will also give you a boost in the morning as most fruits contain sugar and while drinking the juice you get a pretty quick hit of sugar from the fruits.

One can also see my photos in another form of catalyst as they each show how the breakfast is made through a sequence such as the coffee hitting the water, tea bag hitting the water, berocca hitting the water, egg getting cooked and fruit getting blended shows the cause and effect chain and the change that happens when elements combine.

I am quite happy with how my shots came out. Although during the week while I was researching and taking my shots I came over with a terrible cold. My last two shots of the blender and the berocca I feel aren’t as strong as the shots for coffee and eggs.

I enjoyed this task and it gave me an opportunity to be creative with photography. I used photoshop to digitally edit my photos by improving the contrast and overlapping the images. I am happy with my finals and feel more confident with taking shots and photo editing.

Before I took the photos I storyboarded each shot.

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Below are my final images (Note: these photos are compressed for this site. I have emailed the files in their full format to the lecturers)

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Google Alerts: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Trailer Review

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Google alerts is a free and easy way of keeping track of topics without having to search your favourite sites every hour for the latest news. I set up my Google Alerts to notify of news regarding three things of interest to me. They are:

  •          Marvel films 2014
  •          Ninja turtles film 2014
  •          Christopher Nolan

My first alert regarding ‘Marvel films 2014’ will warn me about films based on Marvel comics which are coming out this year. Google alerts sends a notification to my gmail alerting me of the latest news regarding Marvel’s four big blockbusters including Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Amazing Spider-man 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past and Guardians of the Galaxy. As excited as I am to see these four films it was actually the topic of my second alert which caught my attention this morning.

Since I was a child I have loved the ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’. I watched the late 80s – early 90s cartoon religiously.

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I also saw all three live action films at the movies and still find myself watching them for a laugh nearly every year.

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I listed this topic as my second alert because news regarding the new film had been minimal. However this morning my Google alert for ‘Ninja Turtles film 2014’ gave me an email directing me to the latest trailer.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZZ0PnDZdZk 

I have to say I am pretty excited for the film after seeing this footage. Although the reaction online has been quite polarising, I am happy with what I saw. I believe the studios have gone in the right direction with Michael Bay as producer. He brought another 80s classic cartoon, Transformers back into today’s pop culture and for all those films flaws, they have made a ton of money and are enjoyable popcorn films. The trailer for the 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, introduces a new origin story for the turtles. As William Fichtner’s narration suggests that he and April O’Niel’s father were responsible in creating the mutants. The trailers aesthetic is similar to Bay’s Transformers films, with lots of quick cuts of action unfolding and rare glimpses of the turtles. It shows a city under attack and a new larger scale unseen in previous Turtle films. The trailer ends with a reveal of Leonardo and Michaelangelo as he tells April that “It’s just a mask, see?” as he takes off his orange head band naïve to what she’s really afraid of. This shows that they are keeping Michaelangelo’s trademark humour and innocence.

Overall I think a new look and new direction for the Turtles is what’s needed to bring them back into today’s pop culture. The last time we saw the turtles in cinemas in TMNT (2007), the studio decided to disregard the live action element of the earlier films and have them in an animated film. Although the animation allowed the characters to have a more fluid sense of action the film flopped. The only way to bring them back was through mixing CGI with live action. A concept that was too advanced for the early 90s puppet/animatronic featured films. I think that this new film will reintroduce the turtles to today’s audiences who love Transformers and Marvel’s superhero blockbusters. The time is right for the turtles to return to the big screen with Nickelodeon having a hit animated TV show on at the moment. I think this film could be a hit and hopefully we can see the Turtles back in action for years to come.

Media Objects – Single Shot Video Critical Reflection

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Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 12.57.51 pm

For the assessment task – Single Shot Video, the students of Media Objects were to get into a group and develop an idea for a one-minute single take video incorporating the theme of “success”. On the first day of our intensive I met Brenda, Bo and Mari. We got together and worked on a practise task, which enabled us to work together and get to know each others strengths and weaknesses regarding the production of a short single take film. Our practise task was successful and with our newfound confidence in filmmaking, we began developing our single shot assessment task.

Success as a theme can be represented in many ways. The night before I had watched The Wolf of Wall Street directed by Martin Scorsese. That film explored the idea of success by tracing the rise and fall of a Stock Broker who cheated his way to the top. The character of Jordan Belfort played brilliantly by Leonardo DiCaprio believed success was directly tied to being rich. Money was his main motivation throughout the film, and he would stop at nothing to ensure he had as much as possible. After hearing that our theme was success I automatically thought of that film and of doing something similar. However every good idea that I had would require a multiple cuts. The single take was limiting to my vision and I had to rely on other ideas in order to be successful in this task. We eventually decided on the idea of someone being robbed and chased and then being rescued and that would be the “success.” It would be shot with an in your face, action aesthetic similar to director Paul Greengrass of The Bourne Identity films. These films incorporate a lot of handheld action, which give you the experience of actually being there. It is thrilling and leaves the audience with a dizzying effect. We knew because of the constraints of having one shot, we had to make it as thrilling as possible so the audience would be able to experience something new in this format. We decided on including a chase scene, which would give the viewer a sense of the real time action. As we developed the story further we agreed on a location and who would act and film.

The story would be as follows;

Brenda would walk down the stairs of a train station, walk down an empty alleyway where she would get a phone call. As she answered the phone, unbeknown to her, Bo would snatch her bag and run down the alleyway. I would play a local merchant who just happened to be there. I would intervene, get the bag off her and return it to Brenda. The success would be her getting her bag back.

We filmed the scene in a few takes and were happy with the results. As we returned to class our tutor Jeremy took a look. He gave us feedback and said that perhaps we could include a bit more to the story, perhaps some form of a narrative twist. We all agreed and decided to meet up the weekend after and re-film our scene. During the week we kept in touch via email and discussed how we could improve our one shot film and add a twist. We decided to have Brenda have an envelope with something important inside and put it in her bag. As she is robbed by Bo, I would again intervene and rescue her bag. However the twist is that Bo and I are in it together and I get the envelope from her bag while I return it to her. As Brenda leaves happy her bag is returned. I meet Bo and tell her I got the envelope and that’s our “success”.

Our second round of filming took longer than our initial film, however due to the advanced storyline, many takes were required. We had up to 19 different takes and the last one was the best. As we filmed that day problems with the film included the actors not being able to keep a straight face and shaky handheld filming. We didn’t use the Sony Video Camera we used the week before, we used a Canon DSLR, which unfortunately wasn’t as stable as the Sony Camera from the University. The smooth filming from the first day was lost in the process. Our final cut is shakier however it does incorporate the handheld action aesthetic that we originally wanted. Our video now looks more in the style of the action films of Paul Greengrass and Michael Bay.

Our final cut will be uploaded to youtube for public viewing. I will advertise it through my blog as well as social media such as Twitter and Instagram. I am happy with our final cut and hope to make a film with my group again.

Title: The Envelope

Credits:

Written & Directed by Bo Dechphant, Mari Guren, Daniel Hennequin & Brenda Au-Yeung

Starring:

Brenda Au-Yeung as Lady with envelope

Bo Dechphant as Thief

Daniel Hennequin as Stranger/Helper

Director of Photography: Mari Guren

 

Basic Audio Editing

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Adobe_Audition_v3.0_icon

As a High School Media Teacher I have become familiar with the basic audio editing program, Adobe Audition.

As I began teaching Media in 2008 I had access to the Adobe Creative Suite CS3, which included editing programs such as Photoshop, Premiere and Flash. At the time the audio editing program was Soundbooth however in 2011 my school upgraded to Adobe Creative Suite CS5 and Audition replaced Soundbooth. I had to develop skills in a new program. The two programs are similar as they allow the user to create sounds and develop music in a professional manner.

Students were able to create a recording session with their band and edit the raw audio into a professional piece of work. Students could also create soundscapes if they were interested in becoming DJ’s or they could create podcasts and radio interviews with Audition.

Like most of Adobe’s programs, which allow crossover editing, Audition worked with Premiere to help control sound in film editing and allowed the students to adjust the soundtrack of their films. If a scene included too much wind or outdoor noise, students could edit the track to lower outside noise and raise the dialogue for a more professional looking and sounding scene.

In 2011 the CS5 version included two sections. Multitrack View supported up to 128 digital audio mono or stereo tracks at up to 32-bit resolution. In the Track Controls section one could select the input and output for each track (the program supported multiple multi-channel sound cards), select Record, Solo and Mute, and access the effects rack. New features included ASIO support, VST support, new mastering tools and a redesigned User Interface.

Last year my school upgraded to CS6 and the students were able to work with virtual instrument support, enhanced spectral editing, a redesigned multi-track interface, new effects, and a collection of royalty-free loops, which helped mostly with their short narrative film projects.

Tutorials on Adobe Audition

http://wwwlyndacom.ezproxy.lib.rmit.edu.au/Audition-tutorials/Audition-CS6-New-Features-Workshop/123539-2.html

Digital Drawing Issues

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In today’s modern design industry artists are able to create a work of art without the use of a pencil or paintbrush. An artist can simply use computer programs such as Sketch Up or Adobe Illustrator to create digital paintings. An artist can use it to create a piece of art for themselves or a client. However is waving an empty pen around a tablet like a Wacom Intuos Pro really drawing? Or are computers making it easy for anyone to create designs without the unique skill of drawing with a pen. I believe “real” artists are still those that grab a pen and paper and sketch up ideas on their own without the aid of a computer program. I recently saw the film ‘Her’ directed by Spike Jones about a near future where everyone has close interpersonal relationships with their OS devices. In this setting the main character is a love card writer who talks to his computer as it types what he is saying. I noticed that the world really is changing. Writers don’t need to put pen to paper anymore, they don’t even need to tap a button on a computer. It shows how artists whether they be painters or writers are now dependent upon technology to help them create their piece of work. It is rare in 2014 to work without the aid of a computer. Not many artists use the old way of putting paintbrush to paper, using a darkroom for photography or even using film to make a movie. The future in ‘Her’ is actually not the future at all it is today.

Artists today are losing that skillset of putting pen to paper. As a High School teacher we are now teaching design and art students how to use Wacoms and Illustrator to prepare them for the future of their industry. However along the way they are losing that fundamental skill of playing with an idea on a piece of paper and using their fine motor skills to connect patterns and objects with their hands and fingers. Using a tablet and an empty pen and watching their designs come on screen is just not the same as using pen and paper, I feel the true creativity of using your body and mind is being lost somewhere along the line. It is simply easier to get a computer to create a pattern or object than it is to draw it with your hands. Even Jenny Weight comments ‘Personally, I find drawing with a mouse or a trackpad rather difficult. I need the sensual contact of pressure and motor control.’ from her digital drawing lecture. I agree with Jenny, I also find it difficult to control what I really want to put on the screen with a tablet at times. When working on an animation assessment in my Digital Media class I often encourage my students to hand draw their characters, scan it on the computer and then alter it with Illustrator so they can get the best of both worlds. It also teaches them that the skill of drawing is not yet dead. We still need those fundamentals to create interesting ideas, stories and patterns. An artist needs to feel the pen or paintbrush as an extension of themselves. The tablets help synthesise this feeling however it isn’t real. I personally can tell whether something is hand drawn or created digitally and hand drawn always wins.

I encourage you to put a pen to paper and draw something. Then go on your computer download a program like Illustrator or Sketch Up and see if you get the same sensation of creativity.

Links to Illustrator;

http://www.adobe.com/au/products/illustrator.html

Tutorials;

http://wwwlyndacom.ezproxy.lib.rmit.edu.au/Illustrator-tutorials/Up-Running-Illustrator-CC/108139-2.html

Links to Sketch Up;

http://www.sketchup.com

Tutorials;

http://wwwlyndacom.ezproxy.lib.rmit.edu.au/SketchUp-tutorials/Navigating-SketchUp/145213/157875-4.html

Note: You must be a member of Lynda.com to view these tutorials.

Digital Image Editing Issues

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As a High School Media Teacher I have become familiar with the digital image editing software known as Photoshop.

Photoshop has many unique traits, which can improve a simple photo vastly. Tools that allow the user to change a photos background or even hide a pimple can be useful in todays digital photo sharing age. However as a 13 – 16 year old becomes more skilled in the program they can develop skills in hiding facial blemishes, hair colour and even their weight if need be. Teenagers who can develop this skill can perhaps do more harm than good when they are able to develop a false image of themselves to their friends and strangers via social media. Although this program was intended for photography enthusiasts it has now become a mainstream program used by many schools for students to show their design and editing skills. In my classes I have my students use the program to explore the unlimiting possibilities of editing such as replacing backgrounds of cityscapes with beaches and melding works of art with a students ‘selfie’. Although these exercises are used to demonstrate my student’s capabilities with the program it can lead them down another path where they use the program to edit their own images and even bully other students with their skills.

I had a situation where a student took a photo of another student and altered his appearance to look ugly and also added text to say something rude and offensive about the student in the picture. He then went and printed the image and posted it around the school. This new form of bullying was alarming, not only for the students self esteem but also in showing the negative possibilities of digital editing programs.

I believe in today’s age of digital manipulation one needs to be careful with these programs. Professional magazine editors use the program to tweak their cover girls every week by removing blemishes and excess fat. Teenagers who have the skills in the program can use it in the same way and misrepresent themselves when they put a photo on facebook or instagram that hides their true selves. Although a professional photographer can tweak an image of a horizon to be darker or lighter a confused teenager who thinks they’re physically unappealing can also use it for misrepresenting themselves and others. Only time will tell how far digital editing will go, not only professionally but also for that teenager at home playing on their laptop.

VLOG Review: Screen Junkies

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Screen Junkies is a weekly VLOG available to Youtube subscribers. They also have their own website and you can like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

Screen Junkies as you can imagine from the title is a VLOG about Movies, particularly the latest films and film trends. Once a week there is a chat show with host Hal Rudnick, discussing the latest movie news. Generally it has to do with blockbuster or comic book films. They are short, humorous and fun. The video below has them discussing the best video game movies.

The short chat show is well constructed, with efficient sound, lighting and editing. Hal Rudnick is a fun host and keeps his guests and content running along smoothly. What I find interesting is the setting. It appears to be Hal’s basement. A “man cave” with a barrage of geek culture merchandise including toys and figures from superheroes, to all the latest cult characters from popular films such as Alan (Zach Galifinakis) from The Hangover to the Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters. It is a film geeks dream bedroom! As interesting as these weekly discussion vlogs are, the real highlight of subscribing to Screen Junkies is checking out their ‘Honest Trailers.’ This weekly gem parodies the conventional Hollywood trailer to include all the real parts of a film that the marketing team may leave out of the initial trailer. These ‘Honest Trailers’ are highly amusing and have become extremely popular with over one million hits each week. Check out the ‘Honest Trailer’ for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which highlights the overlong runtime and the countless indulgent shots of the New Zealand countryside from Peter Jackson.

These trailers are so popular as they are well edited and provide the conventional “deep toned voice-over” from most movie trailers, however he is stating the films flaws rather than detailing the plot. They have ‘Honest Trailers’ for most of the latest blockbusters, which are amusing. However where these trailers excel is with particularly bad blockbusters such as 2013’s big budget flops, After Earth and Star Trek Into Darkness.

For film geeks I highly recommend subscribing to Screen Junkies for all the latest Hollywood buzz as well as the amusing parody trailers.

Skype Blog

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Using Skype I called Solly De Silva a friend I have made in the Intensive Day 1 of Contemporary Media Work Practises subject in my Masters of Media course. Skype is an excellent website/app which allows one to chat, video call and conference with people around the world. It is an excellent way of communicating with friends and loved ones around the world. It is also vital in todays world of online business and learning. I can skype with my tutor for my course and I don’t need to leave my room. It is necessary for students who cannot make it to classes and tutorials. It is also important for family and friends who cannot get to each other or are overseas.

For this Vanity Fair Task 5 I called Solly through my MacBook and chatted to him via Video call. This simple task allowed us to connect online and we can continue to connect once the day is over and we go back to our homes. We can now keep in touch and discuss the course whenever we like.