Found Footage: The Art of the Portrait

Today in our lectorial Brian Morris talked to us about found footage for our forthcoming project; a portrait of someone we know consisting of a significant portion of found footage. Found footage is “pre-existing footage appropriated by a filmmaker and used in a way that was not originally intended”(Morris, 2015). The earliest examples come from avant-garde experimental films in the 1920’s which were then revived in the 1950’s during the new wave of American cinema (Morris, 2015).

Found footage has a constantly evolving meaning which depends upon the context of the film within which it is placed and the cultural and social context of the time, as this is where audiences draw meanings from the text. A good example of this is Bruce Conner’s ‘A Movie’ as it utilizes various pieces of found footage to satirize and criticize film-making:

We were then an Adam Curtis documentary trailer, as Curtis is notorious for his ability to mix mediums, that is found footage, captured footage, text, sound and photos to create a very distinct and clear message:

We were also shown many examples of portraits which gave us some good ideas of the basic conventions of the portrait genre. All of these examples combined to create a great overall image of what to do and how to create this ‘found footage portrait’. Now all that is needed is the subject.

We took some time to brainstorm some people who we thought would be interesting to do a portrait of and the one person that really stuck out for me was my dad because of his creative genius, love of 3D printing and amazing skills with a computer. Now all that’s left to do is to get dad to sign a release form and the project is off and running.

– (Morris, 2015), Brian Morris Lectorial.

Self Portrait Reveals: Video Edition

Today we watched everyone’s self portrait videos film festival style. It was really interesting to see just how much people had done with only one minute of editing together bits and pieces of themselves. Every single one was its own unique, coherent little narrative. It was really nice to see.

It’s so interesting seeing how many different ways a one minute video can be told, so inspiring too to see how unique every person’s idea was. It gives me hope, even if it is a naive hope at this point, for the future of the narrative, because there really are infinite possibilities.

Self Portrait: Video Edition. (Naivety)

Here is the second assignment of the year, a video self portrait combining all the mediums from the previous self portrait:

Through this piece I really wanted to show an emotional journey, the kind I feel my life has been and still is. From the beginning of this project I knew I wanted to create an emotional crescendo through the music, which starts out calm and peaceful but quickly becomes hectic, crazy and cluttered, as my mind often is.

I also wanted to show myself through images of my favourite places, and as I have grown up literally surrounded by parks, I have used trees as a motif to convey different areas of my personality throughout the piece. At the beginning I use trees moving in the breeze and fades to show my calm and positive side. This then develops into the idea that I myself have been labelled a tree because of my height. The vascular tree images, which I created using Adobe Illustrator, also give the idea that the tree is alive, through the use of montage theory which makes the tree pulsate.

To me, trees also symbolise growth and development, as each bump in its trunk was created by some event, it grows in a certain direction, it has many branches and thick roots. Trees to me also symbolise life itself and the journey of growth and change throughout life.

I found it very difficult to get the right meanings and ideas across in the middle of the piece, where things become more hectic, as I was originally going for a quantity rather than quality approach to the editing. But once I really thought about it I found an idea that worked. I still think there is a little too much going on, but I like the meaning that comes across throughout the piece through the editing.

The main idea I wanted to get across through this piece is that I changed so much in Year 12 that over the summer holidays, I felt I had finally gotten to know myself, only to discover once I reached university that I had continued to change and now I feel as though I know nothing again. I really wanted to capture that confusion and feeling of both freedom and being trapped at the same time.

Integrating Theory and Practice: Editing

For this weeks exploration, I decided to focus on the guest lecture from Liam Ward. Editing is the practice of “deliberately breaking things [in order to]… fill the gaps with meaning” (Ward, 2015).

The most famous breakthrough in the field of editing was through experiments by Lev Kuleshov, a Russian Filmmaker and theorist living in Moscow in the 1920’s. Through his experiments, the best known of which involved re-editing footage of “the expressionless face of actor Ivan Mozzhukhin… alternated with shots of a plate of soup, a young woman, and a little girl in a coffin.” People who took part in this experiment stated that they appreciated “Mozzhukhin’s ability to convey the emotions of hunger, desire, and grief respectively.” Despite the fact that he was expressing the exact same emotion each time:

Such experiments helped Kuleshov to develop his theory of the Kuleshov effect, “The proposition that the meaning of any given film will derive from the juxtaposition of individual shots as a result of the editing process… [and that] audiences understand the meaning of images differently depending on their sequential arrangement.” (Kuhn and Westwell, 2014).

One of the most effective editing techniques is match cutting. A match cut relies on something within one shot directly relating to something within the next shot, leading our brains to automatically create a link between the two. This is mainly done through matching shapes, colours, movement and even the overall composition of a shot. Basically, anything graphically. One of the most prolific and amazing uses of this technique is a Japanese animator by the name of Satoshi Kon, who I actually found out about from one of Aidan Tai Jones’ blog posts. This video essay by Tony Zhou shows just how prolific Kon’s use of this technique is, and how his use has changed the way many other director’s use match cuts and other editing techniques, as is seen through his influence on many other artist’s work:

Match cuts are unfortunately not used very often in mainstream films, but are however very prominent in experimental films and some particular directors, such as Edgar Wright, have adopted the match cut as a part of their signature style.

Another commonly used technique is elliptical editing. Elliptical editing is used throughout most films as it is very rare for a film to take place in ‘real time’. Elliptical editing is a technique used to shorten the length of sequences by removing unnecessary details to the overall story and plot development, such as when characters eat or use the bathroom, pick up objects out of frame and then put them on, or walk up a really tall mountain. By seeing pieces of these sequences our brains automatically piece together what has occurred, creating the important links needed in the narrative. This example from “Batman Begins” (Nolan, 2005) shows this technique:

One technique that often goes unnoticed but for some reason seems a bit strange to the human eye is rear projection, a technique commonly used for driving scenes due to the difficulty of filming subjects in a car from multiple angles while the car is in motion, mainly used in low-budget film-making, TV shows and films throughout the 20’s through to the 60’s. Rear projection works by placing your subjects in front of a screen, which you then project previously recorded footage onto, to give the illusion of motion. Add sound effects and it almost seems realistic. However some silent films in the 1920’s used this technique for different purposes, to create entire worlds of delusion and daydream for their characters, such as in “Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans” (Murnau, 1927):

From 2:29-3:11, Murnau uses rear projection to give us the idea that the Man and the Wife are so enamored with each other that they are separate from reality and so walk into their own. Also, because rear projection is used, it adds to the idea that their environment is disconnected from them somehow as it moves in a different way to the couple.

These are only three techniques that are commonly used in the practice of editing, there are many more to describe and many more, I’m sure, left to discover.

– Ward, Liam. Lectorial Guest Lecture on Editing-24/3/2015

– Kuhn, Annette and Guy Westwell. “A Dictionary of Film Studies.” Entry: “Kuleshov Effect.” Oxford University Press, 2014

The World is Random, So Why not Create a Meaning for it all

Adrian Miles seems to be one of the most provocative and intriguing people you will ever meet, especially while at uni. He was a guest lecturer in today’s lectorial and he told us all, all of us with our young, absorbent, spongy brains, how stories are something that are uniquely human, and how we constantly search for the meaning of things, as opposed to seeing what things actually are.

He told us many things. How we’ve been taught to believe that thinking is privileged, so if you think of something you’ve basically done it already. That we think we’re on top of the food chain, when that is simply preposterous. How we have this notion of “I think, therefore I am”, so we separate our brains from our bodies, when in reality they are in concert with each other, they are one and the same. All this and more he told us, and it was the most provocative talk you will ever hear, because you sit there and listen and you think ‘but that’s not right’, and then you sit there some more and realise, ‘but wait, it is right’. And then you do something amazing, that was the whole point of him talking in front of you in the first place, you start to think about it in your own way and start to contribute unique thoughts to the conversation as you realise that the world is not the size of the fish pond it was back in high school. It’s an ocean of possibility (as you can see, still working on the originality part).

After Adrian spoke to us about meaning and how it’s all in our heads, Liam Ward spoke to us about editing. This was very interesting to me, as I find I struggle to consistently edit with meaning and purpose. Liam told us about how the human brain creates meaning when there’s a sudden cut from one shot to another, using that one shot from “2001: A Space Odyssey” (Kubrick, 1968) that everyone uses (but is still a brilliant example):

Liam started his talk by saying that editing is “deliberately breaking and fragmenting things”, allowing us to fill the gaps with meaning and ask why these gaps exist in the first place.

Liam showed us the Kuleshov effect:

This emphasises that we discern the meaning of one image from the images surrounding it, not just the image itself. Liam emphasised this point by showing us all a photo of Joffrey Baratheon from the “Game of Thrones” (Benioff and Weiss, 2011-):




And then placing it next to photos of Christopher Pine:

chris pine bad 3


And then this photo next to the photo of Joffrey:

chris pine bad 2


By placing each of these photos of Christopher Pine next to Joffrey, (yes we all did laugh a lot) it produces a link between the boy king and the politician, as it shows them both with a similar pose, gesture and facial expression, and then it removes that link by showing that Pine doesn’t approve of Joffrey, for whatever reason (probably the same reason as the rest of us). These links also produce emotional reactions in the audience. If your audience is a bunch of uni students, who are probably leaning towards the left politically, finding out that Christopher Pine disapproves of Joffrey like we do, probably produces a reaction somewhere along the lines of unsettling, as even people who are more right wing politically disapprove of Joffrey, emphasising how horrific a ruler he is in the world of “Game of Thrones” (2011-).

– Benioff, David and D.B. Weiss. “Game of Thrones.” 2011- Present

Less is More can be a Hard Lesson

Today we looked at editing and I honestly found myself stuck in that annoying hole that I often find myself in of using more rather than less, as I tried to create a montage of images (as I weirdly enjoy the use of montage theory and alienating people), but the more images I used, the more I found that they started to loose meaning and just simply became dizzying.

Luckily Robbie was there otherwise I would have dug myself a very deep hole in the quantity rather than quality category. After chatting with Robbie I realised the need to dissect my content and really play with ideas and meanings.

I hope my parents are ready, because they’re about to become my guinea pigs.

Pushing Boundaries: Entering Other Worlds – The world of Audio Documentary

For this weeks exploration I decided to explore the audio documentary. Since Kyla Brettle showed us some examples of her work in our lectorial this week, I found it very interesting how much more powerful it was to just listen to the content and imagine the situation, rather than both see and hear it simultaneously. I saw the power of audio, as it allows the audience to really, truly create the links in their head, they aren’t as guided by the director and are more free to make up their own mind.

The first audio documentary was simply anthropological observations ad historical recordings of daily life and civilisations, much like the “first films shot by Edison and the Lumière brothers — no edits or narration or stories.” (Carrier, 2014) The first incident of this was in 1890, when “an anthropologist named Jesse Walter Fewkes used a phonograph to record the songs and speech of the Passamaquoddy Indians of eastern Maine. For many decades this was the extent of audio documentary — recording oral history and music.” (Carrier, 2014)

Some examples from 1890 (Carrier, 2014):

Snake Dance:

Mr. Phonograph:

Kyla Brettle is a prolific producer of audio documentaries, such as ‘Trauma’ which, “In a kaleidoscopic style shifting between observational and experiential forms of documentary, Mark Fitzgerald, the Director of Emergency Services takes us into the heart of his department – a place where dramatic, life-changing events occur with relentless regularity against a background of routine order. As staff and patients share their experiences of either unexpectedly arriving at the hospital or coming home from it every day, documentary maker Kyla Brettle seeks to discover what place the big questions about life, society and human nature have in an environment that by definition strives to maintain the mechanics of life from one moment to the next.” (ABC, 2013)

“Why radio? Why documentary? Answer: No other medium can provide me with more freedom of creation and investigation. It meets my urgent interest in reality and the desire for a ‘musical’ expression. The material (der Werkstoff) is sound. And sound always surrounds us. And: I’m not so much interested in the description of stable situations, but in processes. Our medium is not space, but time; our stories are not glued to the ground, but have motion, life … That’s why!” – Helmut Kopetzky, German author, Self-portrait

 – Carrier, Scott. ” A Brief History of Documentary Forms. 6. NPR & Radio Docs.” Apr. 3rd 2014. Available at:
 – ABC. “Trauma.” Oct. 20th 2013. Available at:

Pushing Boundaries: Entering Other Worlds

Today in our lectorial we had 2 guest lecturers, Anne Lennox and Kyla Brettle.

Anne came to talk to us, in brief about copyright in Australia and other countries. It was interesting to find out how our work is automatically protected here in Australia, but in America, there are unfortunately a large number of hoops to go through before a work can be copyrighted. Listening to Anne gave me a much greater appreciation for Australian legislation (in some areas) and allowed me to understand the impact copyright can have on my work. I found it interesting that under ‘fair dealing’, it’s ok to use copyrighted work so long as it’s for research and study, criticism and review, reporting news, and parody and satire.

Kyla came to talk to us about her experiences in the industry, which seem to have evolved through non-fiction, going from documentary film, to radio documentary, and various forms of journalism in between. I found it very interesting listening to Kyla talk about all of her amazing experiences, which never would have happened, had she not decided to poke at the boundaries she saw herself within. Not just the amazing people and situations she told us about constantly observing, but also the courage to transition from the widely used and distributed medium of the film documentary to the radio documentary, a lesser known, yet equally, if not more powerful medium. Listening to examples of Kyla’s work was quite amazing, as I found it even more overpowering than a film documentary, as the imagery is left entirely up to you and your own mind, your own relative experiences, to fill the gaps, allowing a strangely personal bond to occur.

Kyla talked about how difficult and worthwhile it is to stretch yourself and get out of your comfort zone and how rewarding it can be to see things unfold that you normally would never experience on a purely observational level. She spoke about how difficult it was for her to do these things but how worthwhile it was in the long run and all the amazing things she’s been able to do throughout her career.

I feel like I myself am at a stage where I could go the path that Kyla has, pushing not just the social boundaries of our society through her observations, but pushing the boundaries within herself. Or I could go the other way and choose to take no physical action, instead staying in the artificial world known as the internet. I feel as though I am at a turning point. And what better place to turn around and change then at university. And hey, why not blog about it too.


Self Portrait Reveals

Today we revealed our self portraits and explained why we chose to create those products, as well as gave feedback to all the other people in our little groups of five as through the use of four of the De Bono six thinking hats. Either the ‘positive’ yellow hat, ‘gut reaction’ red hat, ‘there’s something wrong here’ black hat, or ‘oooh! Now do this!’ green hat.

six thinking hats

It was surprisingly comforting having all these creative minds appreciate and accept my work and give me advice and ideas and inspiration. I was so anxious for no apparent reason and it felt so good to just de-stigmatize so many things for myself through photos and film and audio. I can’t wait to try and create a one minute fluid sequence with new, fresh ideas, footage and images as well as some old ones from this project.

Self Portrait: Naive and I know it

For Media 1, for our first assignment, we had to create a self portrait of ourselves. So, this is what I thought of myself when I started Uni;


Bird Cage


Through this image I wanted to convey the way I felt throughout high school, and in a way, still feel now as I learn to adjust and settle into the style of university life.

This is not Alaine


This is an homage to Rene Magritte’s ‘The Treachery of Images”. I wanted to show that this self portrait is only a representation of myself and not actually me.

My View


Through this filter I aimed to show my unique and whimsical view of the world.


A while ago I had surgery on my back and in order to de-stigmatize it for myself and give it a new kind of beauty, I decided to get my dad to paint a tree around it, to show growth and strength.

This is a recording of my favourite place to just relax.

This is a recording of me singing “Singin’ in the Rain”, as I feel this song best shows my positive attitude towards life in general.

‘I’m naive. But I embrace my naivety. “So it goes” – Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Slaughterhouse 5’

I chose these words to somehow sum up myself, because I found this so hard to do and wound up writing in circles, until I finally decided to go with something simple. But how do you sum up one person in 50 words, let alone 10, 000 words? not even a film could achieve such a feat.

Through this video I wanted people to feel the way I feel when I walk my dogs, which for me is having gorgeous furballs constantly smile at you, and feeling the sunshine as I walk through along this path. Hence, why it’s called sunshine in a lense, an inherently Australian thing to capture.

This, for me, was yet another way to de-stigmatize something and show the world how I see things, both literally and metaphorically. I have a condition known as visual snow, which, as you’ll see from the video is like having the static of a TV screen over your vision all the time. I wanted to show that although I may see the world in a literally different way to most people in the world, I really do see the world differently to everyone else. Not because of my condition, but because of me.