Category Archives: Food For Thought

Jolts Per Minute

Here is an interesting article about the effects Facebook has on your brain. It’s long, but there’s information about addiction, industrial media models that trickled into Facebook and the rest of the internet, and what you can do about it (if you’re worried).

As future current media makers, we have to be aware of the audience we are catering to and not only how they will engage with our work (their attention span) but also how they will feel about the environment we provide for them to engage with our work in.

Also, the comment thread has some thoughtful feedback and counterpoints to the article and is also worth perusing.

Lecture Notes- IM 1 Week 12

The final week. The summary (?). The end of the road to which we held no map.

Well, not really. Integrated Media One (Won) is not really the kind of subject that has an ending and only in retrospect can I say what we travelled along was a road of any kind. We meandered through a thick web of information, theories and practice only to find at the end we’d been searching for something that doesn’t need to exist (closure). We can trace the path backwards, but it won’t shed the light on the way forward.

Future.

The future is shaped like this:

photo 1 (1)

Which basically means that I can be fairly sure of where I’ll be in one hour from now (still in front of this laptop, but working on an essay instead of a blog). It means I can be pretty sure of where I’ll be in one week from now, less sure of where I’ll be in one year from now etcetera and by the time we get as far out as five or ten years into the future, the possibilities are so wide it can be very difficult to know which point we will be standing at.

It’s sort of like a Korsakow film. When the film begins, the viewer knows they are at the “start SNU” (if one has been set I suppose), but as the film progresses, the choices for how it ends become wider and wider depending on the path they take. And that ‘path’ will change for each view or viewer. Old media is similar, a cinematic film for example has all these options, but the options are only available to the editor who then chooses which ‘path’ they want to give the audience who have no choice in the path they take.

k future

The digital revolution’s already happened. Its not about the digital any more, its about the network. We have to stop thinking in terms of ‘audience’ and start thinking instead of ‘communities of users’ who will interact with out work (whatever that work may be five years from now).

Adrian urges us to do things differently, in a way that makes a difference. “You create the industry,” he threatens (and promises). What a magnificent way to end the semester that began with “do cool things“.

Save Me!

Can I ask you something? When was the last time you used a floppy disk? Oh, you can’t remember that far back? Well how about this question, when was the last time you needed to save a file that would fit on a floppy disk (264kB)?

I can’t remember either. Actually, that’s a lie. My essays in their .doc format would fit on a floppy disk, maybe up to ten or eleven of them. Or just one if I convert the file to a .pdf, but none of my other work for uni would fit. My sound files? Not a chance. The videos I filmed for our next k-film? Ha! A single photograph taken with my DSLR? Not even close!

In fact, I remember when floppy disk drives became outdated and suddenly buying a computer with one in it became impossible. I remember this only because at the time my mother had an embroidery machine that could read patterns off a floppy disk and we had to use a very old (and very slow) computer to transfer the files onto the disks because none of our new ones had the drive for it!

So, when was the last time you saw a floppy disk? Or, say, an image of a floppy disk?

Save Me!

I saw five today. Five different ones (all the Microsoft ones look the same) I should say, I probably encountered about 7-8 all up.

The image of the floppy disk is synonymous with the ‘save’ button, and clicking that little outdated piece of storage hardware will ensure your work doesn’t disappear if you computer suddenly crashes.

It’s definitely a skeuomorph, but I don’t think there’s any harm in it. It’s just something that I noticed today and wanted to share.

And really, aren’t they just a little bit cute?

Many Floppy Disks Save Work

Good Books

This post first appeared on Max-Gratitude.com

One of my favourite things about studying a literature course is being ‘forced’ to read books I’d otherwise not pick up. In 2011 I discovered The Lost Dog by Michelle de Krester, Metro by Alasdair Duncan, The Infernal Optimist by Linda Jaivin and Every Secret Thing by Marie Munkara. This year I’ve found  Sixty Lights by Gail Jones and In The Penal Colony by Franz Kafka (so far).

Actually, Sixty Lights is a lot like The Lost Dog. They are both written in a similar style, both feature poignant little stories/memories/descriptions of loosely related things that enrich the story being told, both feature Australia (in particular Melbourne) and India as places that drive the narrative. And I love the female protagonist in both; Lucy in Sixty Lights for her photographic way of seeing the world (both literally and metaphorically) and Nelly in The Lost Dog for her artistic approach to dressing herself and to life in general.

I’ve written an interesting fiction-non-fiction piece on The Lost Dog that I will endeavour to polish and publish here in the near future, and I’m going to write an essay on Sixty Lights in the next few weeks for assessment for my current literature subject.

A Year Without The Internet

I was wrong.
One year ago I left the internet. I thought it was making me unproductive. I thought it lacked meaning. I thought it was “corrupting my soul.”
It’s a been a year now since I “surfed the web” or “checked my email” or “liked” anything with a figurative rather than literal thumbs up. I’ve managed to stay disconnected, just like I planned. I’m internet free.
And now I’m supposed to tell you how it solved all my problems. I’m supposed to be enlightened. I’m supposed to be more “real,” now. More perfect.

Paul Miller has written an excellent article about what the Internet really does to you and why it matters. Worth a read, see the whole article here.

Spell Check

Can we all just pause for a moment and be thankful for spell check? I’m a terrible speller. It’s not because I’m not smart, it’s not because I don’t read enough and it’s certainly not because I don’t write enough.

It is partly because I’m a little bit lazy now and it’s just easier to let Microsoft Word or Chrome correct “necessary” each time I mangle it. I’ll also quietly admit that I’ll use the dictation app on my phone when I get totally stuck on how to spell something. “Siri, how do you spell…”

But you know what? I think knowing how to spell is important only up to a certain degree. Then knowing how to find the correct spelling can fill in the gaps. And I think this is something that’s happening all around us. Knowing how to film video or record audio or edit media or whatever else the industry needs of us is good, but more importantly we need to know how to find out what we don’t know when we hit the limits of our knowledge. Does that make sense? What I’m saying is if you’re going to create a multimedia piece for a company and you know the basics of filming and editing together the video parts of that piece, that’s good, but knowing how to find out that one editing trick you saw somewhere else is just as important. Knowing what questions to ask, and who to ask, is important too.

Back in primary school we used to use a dictionary to find a word we didn’t know how to spell. I remember a lot of students struggled with this concept, because how were we meant to find a word based on the fact that it’s ordered alphabetically and we didn’t know what order the letters were in it? But that’s where the knowledge of spelling rules helps. That’s where knowing the right questions to ask helps. “It could be spelt like this because of rule X/Y/Z, let’s start there…”

The metaphor I’m trying to draw from this is if you don’t know how to spell a certain word, but you know how to find out what you don’t know, you’ll be okay. And that applies to more than just spelling.

Do Cool Stuff

That was my introduction to this semester. Week 1, day 1, lecture 1 started with “do cool stuff”.

Today Adrian talked a bit more about ‘cool stuff’ and how to make it. Sort of. In a roundabout way. The lecture focussed a bit on heritage media and the way they can’t afford to take risks. We were basically being told to take risks. Do cool stuff.

Korsakow can be used to answer the ‘yes and’ question of “what will happen if…?”

Constraints generate sophisticated work. Like Adrian said way back at the beginning, one video of round things doesn’t make sense, 100 videos of round things and you’ve suddenly got something. Something because of a pattern. Patterns are created by constraints. Let’s create a rule and respond to it.

Sometimes it’s hard to find the pattern (especially in a k-film), the media is then dirty, messy, noisy, other, which makes it harder to understand. Why are these words negative? Dirty, messy, noisy, other?

Same vs Other

When everything is linked and we are in a “cluster of stuff” why do we look for clean, tidy, quite, same? Pay attention to the things that push back, the things that challenge, and use them to do cool stuff.

Korsakow Film Reviews

I’m going to talk about four Korsakow films that popped up in my reader last week (that actually had titles!) and do a mini review of each. The point is that in watching other students’ work and identifying what I liked and what I didn’t, I’ll be able to create a better project for the second assessment. Unfortunately, two of the members of my live assessment group didn’t show up, so this is also my own kind of way of addressing what I missed out on there, which is looking at what other students have done with their k-films.

Starting with The Nature of a City (which is a really clever title once you’ve figured out the theme). What I like about Lauren’s k-film is the different interface backgrounds, I find that they help pull her overall theme together really well and make it more obvious to the viewer what direction they’re going in.  The interface is also nice and easy to navigate, and choosing the thumbnails feels almost intuitive. I also like the text she’s used because the fragments are lyrical and that makes them flow really nicely in any order that you read them in. I don’t really like to looping of the clips, but I am yet to find a k-film in which I do like the looping, so that’s probably just a personal preference.

Next is Life by Issy. First impression is the title slide? Title page? Opening credits? I’m not sure what to call this, and I didn’t know it was possible to do, but it sets the mood and theme for her k-film straight up. Wow. This k-film has one of the most creative ways of using text that I’ve seen so far. Issy combines text below the video which links to preview text on each of the thumbnails. It creates almost a mini narrative for each video, but then the “narrative” so to speak, changes once the thumbnail is clicked. Life also has a clear ending, which is nice to experience. The interface background is also fitting as it draws the theme together and presents the videos within the context of “life”. I’d say this is one of the best k-films I’ve seen so far.

Potatoes is a k-film by Elizabeth who also uses the title/credit/opening thingy, though not to any effect. Elizabeth’s interface is similar to mine, all grey scale  however her background image is really fitting. Not only does it physically fit, but it also helps create the mood for the film. The text that goes with the videos here are lines from a Sylvia Plath poem, Potatoes, which makes the haunting theme even more apparent. I will say though, that the text needed to be visually different, as I found that it tended to get lost against the background image and so I sometimes clicked onto the next clip without remembering to read the text. Perhaps a different layout would have helped with this too as my attention went from the thumbnails to the video without going above or below too much. Now, the thumbnails! They were both really cool and very frustrating. Elizabeth used the same image for all the thumbnails (a black-and-white close-up of an eye) which essentially took a lot of my choice out of the viewing experience, as the “choosing” the next clip was almost like a lucky-dip. If that was the feeling she was going for, it worked very well, but I didn’t think it actually quite fit with this project. Also, I was confused as to why some of the clips were in black and white and some in colour, I felt that if they were all in black and white the project would have been a bit more harmonious. And again, the looping clips weren’t to my personal taste, although I can see why they almost worked in this film.

Finally, Ben created Melbourne Unknown. Holy smokes, this one is scary, scary good! Not like, super scary, but I hate horror movies, and this definitely has that spooky, paranormal theme to it. It’s also, hands down, the best k-film I have seen. Ben has taken the restraints of the task and used them in unexpected ways. A good example of this is the thumbnails. Instead of square thumbnails where a detail of the next clip can be seen, Ben has made long rectangular thumbnails that stack underneath the main clip and are so zoomed in on a point of light that it’s impossible to tell what the clip is about. I hadn’t even thought to do something like that with the thumbnails! This k-film also has a clear beginning and end, even though there are many different paths to take in between. In fact, the beginning and end clip help to set the mood, theme and idea behind the k-film quite nicely. Another thing I really liked about Melbourne Unknown is how the clips ended. Each clip only played once and most of them ended by a quick pan or turn towards a bright light source, enhancing the creepy, spooky factor in the clips and giving the overall project a feeling of something outside the clips. The only thing that Ben could improve in this k-film would be the text. The choice of text was really good, but no attention was paid to how it looked visually, perhaps a change of font, size or colour is all the text needed to be taken to the next level.

So, what I took overall from these k-films is:

  • Carefully consider the interface in terms of layout, background colour, thumbnail size and text position.
  • Pick appropriate text that will create links between the videos but also be able to stand alone.
  • Push the boundaries! With text, thumbnails, interfaces and “story progression” (for lack of a better term).
  • Loop videos only if there’s a clear purpose that the viewer will understand.
  • Use title slides/opening credits to add value to the project.

Clearly the more thought that goes into a project, the better it is, and I think it clearly shows where a project has been carefully considered right from the start. Some interesting points to consider going into the second k-film project making stages.

Titles! They’re important too, remember?

My RSS reader was filled on Thursday and Friday with such exciting headlines as:
– K-film Individual Task
– IM- Assessment 1 – K-film
– Integrated Media K-film Explanation
– IM Assessment #1- Korsakow Film
– Korsakow film (with or without an ! at the end)
etc.

Haven’t we explored how useful it can be to give a title to your work guys? I remember an exercise I did in my first year of my teaching course where we had a hypothetical child in a hot air balloon and ten things they carried with them. We had to choose what to drop out of the balloon to let it rise high enough to avoid a hypothetical mountain. I don’t remember the whole list but it included food, love, water, shelter, a name etc. As first year students, the name was one of the first things we allocated to drop, but afterwards our tutor explained that experienced teachers always left the name in as long as they can, because a name is so important to a child’s sense of self.

Our projects may not be sentient (or, as Adrian would suggest, they may be) but that doesn’t mean that naming them isn’t important to their sense of identity.

Just some food for thought.

 

Noticed Beauty

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

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

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