Final Reflection

The design of this studio may seem strange, but I found it to be a highly rewarding and insightful experience. While we were only required to do two observations a week I chose to write as many as I could. This led to a very fruitful reflection process within my own observations, as I found the more observations I wrote the more I actively observed what occurred around me and noticed the details in what was occurring. I also found it progressively easier to engage on a higher level with these observations, thinking philosophically about what was occurring, until I reached the point of writing entirely meditative observations, which were the basis of my film pitch and my final film.

For me the act of observation itself has provided unique insights into the subtleties of body language and gesture, the act of observing everyday normality and reality allowing us all to uncover hidden truths and character in our world. It has allowed us to decipher a uniquely visual language, the language of film. For me this realisation was pivotal in how I chose to create my film. I wanted to portray reality in its most realistic and simple form in order to subtly convey my argument. This meant grounding my characters and direction in actuality. I told my actors to act as though they were in a situation they had most likely been in at one point in their lives. I told them the specific beats I wanted to occur and then I let ‘reality’ unfold. This then created a strange mix of actuality and fiction, having no real place in either realm.

Our film, the Other is a very rare project. It is a film one can only really ever create when in university, as it is ultimately for ourselves and no one else. I wanted to make this film for my own philosophical and ideological purposes, to explore for myself an idea that intrigues me, and hopefully encourages others to contemplate and explore themselves. I made this film as an exploration of the human condition through our own individual lenses, as well as my own. I wanted to to try to understand and criticise human behaviour and interaction with the world, while also trying to interpret and express my own views, using film to decipher, unpick and create previously unseen connections between highly abstract and philosophical ideas. In a way this is my mind map of how humanity treats, is shaped by and understands what we have come to see as The Other through our very insular, isolated and individual lenses.

Making something that is ultimately for yourself, that you came up with and wrote, can definitely attract different kinds of people to the project; those who are also attracted to the idea and want to collaborate with you, and those who think the idea is easy to make and will get them an easy mark. I was lucky enough to get two people out of three who wanted to work and collaborate with me on the project. Ryan proved to be an indispensable partner who without I would have no music and no fourth moment to complete the project. Chynnae, although shy to begin with, proved herself more than once, and helped by not only acting but also writing the Facebook post. Both Chynnae and Ryan constantly contributed to intellectual discussions about the direction of the project. Sam however was frequently absent and left editing sessions early. I will admit that this could be due to the philosophical nature of the project and my inability to communicate the complex ideas to those working with me. For most of the project, until at least half way, I felt as though we weren’t all on the same page. It could also be due to the constantly shifting nature of the piece and the ideas constructing the bones of the piece, as my own attitudes shifted.

As the piece was experimental and required observational research as opposed to a script, the basis for the film was constantly shifting, creating a strange, unconventional environment that none of us were really prepared for, at least in a group work sense. I will admit that due to its philosophical nature, I did become very insular in my thinking around the ideas.I tried to bounce ideas off of my group members, but I could see they were struggling with it just as much a I was, so I wound up taking charge. I feel as though my own confusion around the ideas may have also caused greater confusion amongst the group, which led me to take further charge of the project as we were unable to communicate effectively about the topic to begin with. Towards the end of the project though, I feel as though we found ourselves on the same page and so were able to communicate much more effectively, as the ideas had become solid for myself and therefore the group. The ideas felt tangible. I feel as though this issue could have been solved if we had’ve had more open discussions around the subject matter, seeing that as an integral element, rather than trying too hard to be like a ‘regular’ short film production where every role, and the boundaries of these roles, is clearly defined. Nothing should have been compartmentalised, everything should have been disussed philosophically, allowing us as a team to fully understand the concepts we were working with.

I think that this film had another issue right from the beginning. There were too many cooks in the kitchen with nothing to do. The project could have, and should have been completed by three people with clearly defined roles who knew how to execute those roles in the context of the piece. With so many people we often had to sacrifice a great deal of time to discussing scheduling, as well as sacrificing the number of people we could have on set so we didn’t fall behind. Due to the nature of the project, filming section by section and building it up like that, hoping that as we go each piece will fit in with the other, we didn’t really get into much detail about the aesthetics of the production, or other possible areas of development, so it became, in the end, more of a three person project, leaving one person with nothing to do or two people sharing the load of one person at any given time.

Despite this, the project was on track for success, at least in the eyes of the production group, from the beginning. This was mainly due to the unconventional way in which we filmed the project. One bit here, another bit there; by spreading the load out over the course of the five weeks, we were able to not only complete the project faster and more effectively, but we could also experiment more with what we had filmed, seeing how it fit into the puzzle and then, designing and writing the other pieces to fit with that piece. It also gave us time to think of what the next move would be and to constantly assess what was needed, to look at the pieces of the puzzle and see where everything might fit, even as my own ideas shifted and adapted with the film.

In the end did my experimental film satisfy its goal of constructing a fluid argument around this thesis statement?

The below thesis statement was used throughout the process to develop and understand the concepts we were working with in the film. While I did write a second thesis statement at one point, I believe that this thesis statement captures the essence of the question we, or at least I, was curious about exploring and interpreting:

Through romanticism, personification occurs. Realising something is better in turn triggers humanity to want that something to be like itself. Romanticism ultimately occurs through observation of the Other. The Other “is dissimilar to and the opposite of the Self, of Us, and yet of the Same” (wikipedia), that is to say that although the Other is not us, it gives the self meaning and reality, while ultimately being perceived through the lens of the self. The Other is only perceived through the lens of the self therefore it can only ever be a version of the self.

So, was I successful, as the writer, director and editor of the project in exploring and conveying what I wanted to through the film? I believe that I was. What is present in the film may not actively be a representation of the above thesis statement, but it is definitely an exploration of it. As I was explaining the meaning of my film to my parents after they had watched it for the first time, I found myself using a very simple idea to explain it; each scene is a different way, a different observation/critique about observing and perceiving the Other, progressing to the audience ultimately becoming the Other. I just hope that the emotional context and the title of the piece at least make the audience contemplate and want to explore and question their own perceptions.

The Final Answer to the Unanswerable Question: How do we Make Documentary That is Both Political and Poetic?

In our final piece we were asked to create a documentary that challenged three of the following conventions:

  • no interviews
  • no voice-over
  • only found-footage or other appropriated material
  • is non-photorealistic
  • deliberately breaks some other identifiable documentary convention

For our final project, Blair and I decided to create a documentary that challenged the first four of those conventions.

But how is this still a documentary? How can a documentary be both political and poetic?

The performative and poetic modes are by far the most experimental of Nichols’ modes and I would argue that our film fits into one of these categories far more than it does any other. The performative mode “stress[es] the emotional complexity of experience” (Nichols, 2010, 202), while the poetic mode treats “people more typically… on a par with other objects as raw material that filmmakers select and arrange into associations and patterns of their choosing” (Nichols, 2010, 162). In this way I feel that our documentary fits snuggly into the poetic mode, but also nicely aligns with the sentiment from the quote about the performative mode, allowing “the emotional complexity of experience” to come through. The key difference between this documentary, which fits into the more experimental of Nichols’ modes, compared with a more traditional documentary, a documentary that would have all of the above conventions intact and not intentionally broken, is the indexical quality of the images, or their photo-realistic nature. A more traditional documentary intentionally leads the viewer to make their own decision, usually the decision the filmmaker wants them to make. In order to manipulate the audience in this way without causing an uproar of sorts they need to create a contract with the audience through the indexical quality of their imagery and sound, building an inherent trust in the almighty ‘voice of god’ narrator. When compared with our film, there is no explicit leading of the audience and the viewer is ultimately left to make up their own decision. Experimental documentaries break the contract which usually exists with a documentary, as they do not ask the audience to trust the information they are providing is truthful, instead creating a new kind of contract with the viewer, one that accepts they already have the knowledge to understand what is occurring and to make up their own mind, simply asking the audience to see the world the way the filmmaker does.

If you look at another poetic documentary I made earlier in the semester, you’ll see how the non-indexical quality of the imagery allows for more abstract conclusions to be drawn, possibly in relation to the viewers own experiences, while also allowing for broader connotations to be created through multiple and often seemingly discordant associations at once (for example, the use of the imagery of propaganda from the stolen generation mixed with Pauline Hanson’s speech about abolishing multiculturalism sends a strong message that can be interpreted literally many ways, but the overall impression, idea and emotional effect resonates similarly to most people):

Documentaries will always push some kind of agenda as they are created for a purpose by the filmmaker. Luckily, this purpose is most often related to social change and causes of social justice and finding a way to bring such important issues to the forefront. Filmmakers often seek to critique the world and the social structures around them and while all documentaries push their creators agendas onto the viewer, experimental films in particular seek not simply factual evidence, they rely upon the widespread nature of the idea they are critiquing and instead seek to open up the viewer’s mind to another, very human experience. Creating an empathetic connection and placing the viewer into the shoes of the individuals in the situation which you are critiquing, rather than simply stating the facts. Nichols’ argued that in order for a documentary to remain ethical within the socio-political realms it operated, it needed to provide its subjects with “agency”, showing them as “an active, self-determining agent of change” as opposed to a “victim” who “suffer[s] from a plight” (Nichols, 2001, 212). This is an interesting point, as films in the poetic mode, such as the two found footage films I have made this semester, often take away a subjects agency, treating the subject as a whole. While this can be seen as a bad thing, the interesting thing about both of the found footage films, Duck and Cover and I Don’t Exactly Hate Women… Utilise the fact that their subjects have no agency in the film as a further critique on the social system which they are criticising.

Thomas Waugh argued that documentary form is inherently committed to social change through his idea of the “committed documentary” (Waugh, 2011). Documentaries are inherently instruments for social change and therefore political critique. For instance, my found footage documentary I Don’t Exactly Hate Women directly critiqued the Hollywood system, a structure deeply embedded within society’s very social structure. The documentary did this through critiquing Hollywood’s portrayal of women, bringing light to the fact that it hasn’t very well changed in the half a century or so since Hollywood came into existence. The film did all of this while being an entirely experimental film, fitting into the poetic mode.

So, in my final answer to that penultimate question, yes, I do believe that a documentary can be both political and poetic. In fact, I believe that the documentary is stronger for it, as the poetic nature of such experimental and convention-breaking films creates far more empathetic films that don’t just reveal the facts, but relate to human existence itself.

  • Nichols, Bill, 2010, “Introduction to Documentary, Second Edition.” Bloomington: Indiana University Press, pp. 142-211
  • Nichols, Bill, 2001, “Documentary Film and the Modernist Avant-Garde”, Critical Inquiry, Vol. 27, No. 4 (Summer, 2001), pp. 580-610
  • Waugh, Thomas. 2011. “Why Documentary Filmmakers Keep Trying to Change the World, or Why People Changing the World Keep Making Documentaries”. The Right to Play Oneself: Looking Back on Documentary Film [Visible Evidence Series, Volume 23], University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis. pp. 24– 41.

Project Four: “This is All in Your Head”

It’s finally here. The big one. The one and only project four. The project which brings together all of our collective explorations from the last three projects into one great, big… Well, project. For my project I decided to explore the concept of meaning itself and how each individual interprets meaning differently.

So here’s my final project (reflection is below it):

A lot of the sounds I used had a similar fidelity to the location, time of day and situation my character was in, but each sound was slightly out of sync with its supposed object of origin, creating an out of sync environment that constantly shifts and adjusts to the emotional tone of the piece. For example, at the end of the piece I blended two separate train trips together to create an appropriate emotional tone. I also used different recording from different locations, times of day and atmospheres to create my spaces, building a very strange and convoluted world. The coffee cup I used had water in it so created a swishing sound not similar to coffee, but water instead. All of this created an off-kilter feeling for me, but the more I asked people about the piece, the more I realised that the exact atmosphere didn’t need to match exactly, so long as it was present and created a logical world for the character.

The piece really evolved a great deal for me as I got deeper and deeper into the creative process. The original concept was more around the way we develop narrative through space as well as through relationships, focussing more on the idea of using space to develop the narrative. But it steadily evolved into a piece that, when boiled down, really explores how we create meaning through narrative and emotional connections to main characters, through whom we see the story unfold, building relationships and developing the world of that character with the character in mind.

Creating an individualised experience and world through ambiguous language and environments in which most, if not everyone can relate in some way and bestow upon the character their own experiences, emotions, meanings, hopes and desires for each situation. By not making the character an individual she has essentially become an individual to every person who listens to it, just in very different ways each time as each person’s unique experiences are reflected within the character’s own, and the world in which the listener and the character now inhabit together, having created it together. Having the ability to give someone else the chance to create an entire world in their own mind is a very intriguing and enticing concept for me, especially the way in which each person experiences the piece, its narrative and inherent connotations differently.

I was really inspired to create this piece after listening to “Remember the Baby” ( by Louis Kornfeld and Jonathan Mitchell. The piece explores the way the inner voice interacts with the external voice during a stroke. I was inspired by this idea of exploring the powerful capabilities of the inner voice, especially when thinking about the layers within which we communicate with ourselves, having almost multiple conversations at once with the knowledge that we are communicating with ourselves.

Through this piece I used a wide variety of techniques to create the inner voice and distinguish it from the external voice. Firstly, during the recording process, I recorded all of the lines for the inner voice as close to the microphone as possible, allowing for a feeling of closeness to be created. This being said, I did the opposite for the external voice, imagining where my voice would drop relative to my own ears, in a way attempting to reconstruct the way we hear and the structure of our heads through sound. From this point I then went to develop the ‘space’ in which the inner voice resides, creating a special reverb setting for the inner voice which created just the right amount of echo and room within the space of the figurative head. I then proceeded to pan the inner voice. This allowed me to create an inner voice that consciously moves around the ‘head space’, disturbing, poking and prodding at itself. The inner voice is the key to the piece and was the most interesting part to create.

For this piece I experimented a great deal with the recording process, gathering my sounds as separately as possible through foley (walking around with a shotgun microphone and a boom pole recording all the sounds of my character’s environment). Once I had gathered all of my sounds separately, I then went through the process of selecting and composing them into the layered and developed piece I have now. This was an interesting process, as in order to create the sequence of events in which a car drives past cat-calling my character I had to record each individual sound separately and then hope that they would layer together properly in post. This meant recording the window winding down, the car honking, the wolf whistle, the car actually moving, and the coffee cup dropping all separately and cleanly in an outdoor environment. However, this was not the case with the voices, as I recorded each of these cleanly in the multi-track studio. This cleanliness of the voice allowed for a much rougher environment, as the focus was on the voice of the character and not the environment itself.

Assignment Three: ’24 Hour Folio Part 2.’ The Sounds of Theatre: The Mermaid

This is my second and final part of assignment three as well as my 24 hour folio; my studio based piece, for which I decided to create a short (very short) radio play, with a little help from my playwright friend, Yuki Iwama.

 A short fictional radio drama about the way we each lose a piece of ourselves to the other in marriage, and how that affects the children we inevitably create.

Written and Performed by: Yuki Iwama

Direction and Sound Design by: Alaine Thompson

Featuring sound effects from the following:
. Mike Koenig, ‘Crisp Ocean Waves’, available at
. Zarabadeu, ‘Heart Beat’, available at
. Jamius, ‘SnakeAttackVerbPuls’, available at
. alienxxx, ‘creaking_floor_upstairs’, available at
(All under CC BY 3.0.)

For this piece I chose to collaborate with an emerging writer in order to produce a sound work of her piece. While this sounded like a good idea in the beginning stages of this assignment, and actually did turn out to be a really great piece that I’m really proud of, I found myself wishing I’d had more time to spend with the piece, to digest it and really get to know the ideas in depth so I could explore it more on an in depth level rather than a literal, surface level through the sound design. In hindsight I would’ve worked out the material earlier in order to produce sounds on a more emotional than literal level.

While reading through the piece and speaking to the writer about the kinds of emotions she felt and what she was trying to get across, I got the sense that the piece was a very anxious and intense piece. This anxiety layered throughout not only the writing but the pacing and rhythm of the performance, cued me to layer in a sound I found through the viewing of a recent modern play, ‘Death and the Maiden’ for which the sound design seemed to only be this hollow, echoing, white noise that came in and key harrowing and alienating points. I used this same sound to draw focus and build this feeling of anxiety and alienation inherently present throughout the piece. This sound, while being naturally discordant, also created a nice eb and flow to the piece.

This alienation was also inspired by the theatre technique known as the ‘theatre of cruelty’ which employs a heavy assault on the senses in order to alienate the audience and bring across the point the play is trying to make. I feel both the constant flow of white noise as well as the foley recorded and sourced create an uncomfortable atmosphere, really assaulting the ear drums.

Also, for the match lighting and wave foley sounds in particular, they were first used literally as a kind of atmos and then used in a more metaphorical way to create a mood out of context, as opposed to a space linked to the memory in the words. This was interesting as the same sound created an entirely new and almost haunting effect. This wasn’t really inspired by a particular radio feature, more a large combination of every radio feature we’ve listened to in class as well as the ones that I’ve listened to in my own time, as it is an effective technique to shift the mood in the piece whilst also allowing the listener to remember what exactly you are shifting from, creating a discordant and alienating break through slight variation.

I feel that both of these pieces for project three have really explored the way in which sounds have important connotative values and shape our understanding more than we realise, and while I do feel that I explored this idea well in this brief, I really want to explore it more and see how I can create a narrative in a more connotative way, leaving it up to interpretation and using cues to create a space.

Assignment Three: ’24 Hour Folio Part 2.’ The Sounds of Theatre: Life is Theatre

For our third assignment we had to create two additional pieces for our ’24 Hour’ folio, this time focusing on field and studio sound production. The following is my take on an experimental field piece; ” Life is Theatre”.

A three act short experimental sound piece featuring the serendipitous moments of beauty, pain, conflict and sorrow found in our everyday lives.

Featuring Vivaldi’s ‘Spring Allegro’ as performed by John Harrison with the Wichita State University Chamber Players, available from the free music archive.
Under CC BY SA.

For this piece I really wanted to get across the way in which a theatre piece emotionally evolves over a period of time, essentially each definitive and distinct act of the play. Due to the nature of the piece, using a wide variety of sounds to produce a steady emotional progression, there had to be a great deal of control over the sounds I recorded and used, their timbre in particular, in order to create the desired effect. To do this I mapped out the progression I wanted the piece to take and brainstormed sounds I thought had the right kind of timbre for that section.


The section I had the most trouble finding sounds for was the climactic section, as this required the largest variation in both amount and timbre. However, I feel that I managed to gather enough variations in timbre through my sounds, as the progression in this sequence is like a parabola and eases the listener in.

As the piece is about “the theatre of life” I decided to layer classical music at all of the major sections, as classical music gives an air of theatre, as it is often associated with the theatrical, extravagant and high culture nature of theatre. I used Vivaldi’s ‘Spring Allegro’ to represent the ‘happy bubble’ section at the beginning, birds still heard over the top to emphasise that the sound of birds chirping and other such small moments in life are what inspire such theatrical and musical pieces. Beethoven’s ‘Corolian Overture’ is layered in towards the end of the climactic sequence, to emphasise the hectic and theatrical nature of the climax, timing sounds to the notes towards the end. And a tuning fork is used after the hollow, reverbed, echoing field sound (the point of sadness after the climax) to give the idea of remembrance and moving on, as the piece then returns to the exposition sounds of the footsteps, the birds and the public transport, only this time, instead of a train, it is a tram, and instead of concrete they are walking on gravel. The piece ends the same way it began, with the orchestra tuning up, ready to go again.

I was inspired in part by the way the Kitchen Sisters create their pieces, such as ‘Tupperware’, and the way director Robert Altman created his films, both layering sound upon sound so they are fighting each other to be heard, forcing the audience to pick what they hear instead of delivering valuable information. This instead creates a mood and a presence, using voice and sound for their musical and lyrical qualities.

I was also inspired by ‘Desert Mischief’ by Kerry Fletcher, the smooth transitions and lyrical nature of the field sounds used helped me to envision my own piece and the way that I could possibly match, mix and pair varying sounds together to both create a narrative as well as a flowing emotional composition.

Assignment Two: ’24 Hour Folio Part 1.’ The Sounds of Theatre: A Finite Existence

For my second piece in my ’24 Hour’ folio, I chose to go to Fortyfivedownstairs and interview the artistic director there: Mary Lou Jelbart.

In the space she helped mold and shape, Mary Lou Jelbart, the artistic director of fortyfivedownstairs, an independent, not-for-profit theatre and gallery space in Melbourne’s CBD, shares what she prizes most, as well as some hard truths, about the business she fell in love with so long ago and has stayed involved in for so many more reasons.

Through this piece I really wanted to create a space and draw the listener into that space, as, as we discussed in class, the listener can perceive even the smallest auditory cue, such as the sound a tram makes when it turns a corner or stops, the sound the lights make when the green man starts walking or even a construction site. Because of these auditory cues I decided to record my walk, or at least small sections of my walk towards and down into the space in order to recreate that walk and atmosphere for the listener, allowing them to imagine the same space that Mary Lou and so many (myself included) have come to love. While I used this at the beginning to help establish place, using classical music to give the air of theatre once in the space, I continued the classical music at the end, creating a sort of wistfulness, and then suddenly the classical piano fades out to be replaced by the sound of the lights as you wait to cross. This sound takes over and becomes very alienating as you wait for the green man to appear, and when he does you know it’s time to go home (as this same sound was used at the beginning of the piece, symbolising the sound coming full circle). This full circle of sound, to me shows the true finite nature of theatre, as it only exists in that one moment in that single space, as it does at Fortyfivedownstairs, and then it doesn’t exist anymore and you go home.

I also used a piece of classical piano throughout to add breath to and bring focus to certain parts of the piece. I got the idea to use a piece of classical music from one of the interviews in “The Letter S” as they layered classical piano underneath it simply for textural reasons. However, I feel adding the classical piano adds an air off high culture, which theatre naturally has, but also adds a sadness to it as, as the interview progresses more is revealed about the hard truths and realities of the world of theatre, and the divide of ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture is no longer what matters.

While this piece was broadly about theatre, in terms of the questions I asked, I managed to find chunks of interview that related specifically to place as well as theatre itself, allowing for the piece to become routed in its ultimate focus.

Through the process of creating this piece I feel I have learnt a lot more about how to cleanly cut audio in Adobe Audition, as well as how to create flow and ‘breath’ for a piece.

Assignment Two: ’24 Hour Folio Part 1.’ The Sounds of Theatre: A Vivid Image

For our second assignment we had to choose a location as an inspiration for a ’24 Hour’ folio. For my location I chose Fortyfivedownstairs, an independent theatre in Flinders Lane that I regularly volunteer at and has been open and producing works with emerging and established artists since 2002. Since this folio’s location is meant to simply inspire our pieces, my pieces are centered around the concept of theatre, which I’ll admit is a little broad, but I feel as though I at least managed to capture some of it:

Theatre is a finite medium, it only exists in that singular space, in that one moment and then it’s gone. It has an unequivocal way of inspiring its audience through evoking not only powerful and enveloping emotions, but life changing thoughts as well.

I seek to find the essence of theatre’s vivid image, through the interviews of Mary Lou Jelbart, Philippa Jelbart and Sophie Kahl,all intricate parts of the creative team at the independent, not-for-profit, theatre and gallery space – fortyfivedownstairs.

In creating this piece I was really inspired by the pieces ‘Poetry Texas’ (Pejk Malinovski), ‘The Letter S’ (Chris Brookes), ‘Tupperware’ (The Kitchen Sisters) and ‘If’ (Sherre DeLys and John Jacobs).

I tried to create observations like those of Malinovski in ‘Poetry Texas’, and while they were of a different style, I feel that my musings did add another dimension and layer to the piece, allowing for the audience to develop new thoughts.

Both ‘The Letter S’ and ‘If’ use the voice of the producer heavily through actors as well as through creating phrases relevant to the material and separate to narration, observations and interviews. This use of unique statements repeated throughout ‘The Letter S’ to give a different meaning, such as “are we on the air?” and the use of unique sounds created by the young girl in ‘If’ really create and add new sound textures that add meaning as the piece progresses. I tried to do something similar through my use of acting exercises, such as tongue twisters, constantly repeated underneath the sections of interview, and then faded to silence at the point in the interviews where focus was needed most. I also tried to make the tongue twisters relevant to the content of the interview, such as the tone and the literal words in “she sells sea shells by the sea shore” relating to no one donating any money to the performers in the ballet performance.

I also drew inspiration from ‘Tupperware’ as I layered the tongue twisters underneath the interviews with no music or other sounds, just voice on voice, trying to really get across the intangible feeling that theatre creates.

I started the piece with a quote from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, which I feel sums up the finite nature of theatre. For this piece I really wanted to play with focus, so I made this section silent to make it prominent, bringing in the tongue twister over the last word “nothing”, emphasising the words own innateness. For each interview I layered in an acting exercise underneath and faded it out as the interviewees description reached its peak. The first two chunks of interview relate to each other well, as they both speak about the emotional vividness of theatre, but the third chunk speaks of a performance which is instead more ideological as the interviewee talks about how theatre may be enriching for the audience, but those who create it get very little in return. This then connects to the ending of the piece, another acting exercise, vowels being shouted out, layered over with “Do, Re, me” allowing the audience to ponder whether or not acting is the ultimate form of selfishness or selflessness. The final quote, “Exit, pursued by a bear.” reiterates this idea, as it allows the listener to ponder whether it is simply a stage direction or whether the audience is the bear.

During the creation of this piece I quickly learnt about how to clean up a sound file (wind noise) and how not to (handling noise masking audio). I have learnt a lot more about sound frequency and cleaning audio through the process of making this piece. I also feel that my recording skills have improved, as I went into the multi-track studio to record all of my material other than interviews.

Assignment One: Peer Portrait

For our first assignment we had to do a portrait on the person we chose to sit next to on the first day, which was very interesting and proved to be quite a fun challenge. My subject was Aisha Stevens, who I got along with immediately and turns out, like most people, is a very interesting person with a story to tell; you just have to find the story. Here is my reflection and my final piece:

Sense of Place can truly define a person and to Aisha, her place in the world is traversing it in the footsteps of her parents, especially her father and grandfather, all journalists before her.

Whilst interviewing Aisha I quickly discovered that she had a very passionate love for journalism and a very strange sense of place, due to the fact that she had been uprooted so many times. But because of this strange sense of place she almost enjoyed travel and the enticing nature of the foreign as opposed to what she’s already accustomed to. Couple this with the fact that both her parents are journalists and her own vendetta to become one herself, and you’ve got an individual with a world at her feet.

I really decided to focus in on Aisha’s parents and the fact that through their careers as journalists Aisha had been moved around a lot and really developed a very unique and worldly sense of place. Sense of place is a very significant part of identity and through asking Aisha about her favourite places I discovered the type of person she was and the overall tone of my piece. I used atmospheric sounds to create and add textures to certain phrases, combining and then suddenly dropping the layers at different points to allow for greater meaning to be created through subtext. While the sounds used were at times obvious, they did take on a more emotional and subtextual quality as the piece progressed, and the sounds were used instead for their emotive quality rather than physical/location-based quality.

While this was not my first attempt at using audio editing software, it was my first time creating a layered audio portrait and I feel that it was successful for a first attempt. However, I do acknowledge that the recording could have been done in a cleaner room to achieve a clean sound with no white noise pollution, and that my cutting could have been more lenient as in some areas the ends of words were cut off unintentionally. However, I do not feel that this takes away from the overall piece, it is just not good practice unless it is being used for a desired effect.

A Portrait of my Dad

For our most recent project (and the most recent iteration of the portrait saga), I chose to create a two minute portrait of my father. For this project, as there has been with with each one previously, there has been a unique ‘catch’, found footage must be utilised throughout the project.

As with each project there has also been a reflection required, so here’s mine;

Looking back on the piece I feel that the found footage I chose to match with the audio really linked together to create an entirely new meaning, a more childlike hope and sense of wonderment, as I felt that was the essence of my father that I was trying to capture. I also feel that the photographic components worked really well in the piece and aided in creating this mood drastically. This was the first time I created a timelapse video and utilised stop-motion to create movement on a large scale, and I think that both processes worked really well.

The most problematic aspects of the project for me were the audio and the interview process. I found it very difficult to edit the interview I did with my father as he is a very fast talker, and generally didn’t leave me any space to cut the audio cleanly, which made some clips sound rougher and more clipped than others. I also discovered very quickly into the interview process that some of the questions I had written down were too open ended, as answers would stretch on for around ten minutes each. This gave me around an hour and a half of footage to edit for the interview, which was very difficult to break down to just two minutes of material.

I found that the use of found footage allowed me to take the essence of the piece to the level and the attitude of my subject, allowing me to hopefully instil the audience with as much hope and enthusiasm for the future as my father has.

While I did borrow and use the Zoom H2N recorder to record the ambient noises around my dad’s work area, I later discovered, after returning the device, that the recordings were not very useable without alteration, and also realised that just my father’s words by themselves were powerful enough, so I decided to let his words and the imagery speak for themselves, as opposed to over-saturating the piece.

Through this piece I really wanted to experiment with the linking of the visual and the auditory, creating meaning through these created links, as well as cuts between footage. I really wanted to utilise match cuts to link the two parts of the ‘story’, so I matched an image of a rocket flying with the 3D printer, printing a rocket, which was a new idea for me but I think worked really well. I feel I really achieved my goal of creating a new meaning through editing, and brought through the essence of my dad’s persona.

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.