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Project Brief 4 – Final Reflection

I had a lot of fun with this project, and found it to be very inspiring in a number of ways. Through the process of creating this film, I gained an insight into the craft of choreography, and how it shares some key principles with filmmaking. I also had quite a profound change in thinking around the distinction between ‘old’ and ‘new’ media, which I discovered through the use of VHS tapes, is a somewhat problematic distinction. I believe that the inspiration and insight that I gained from this project will be invaluable for future work.

When my mum gave me a big box of old dance tapes at the very start of the semester, it occurred to me even then that I might try to incorporate them into the course somehow. I ended up building my approach to this project around that footage. I started by watching a lot of the footage, then discussed some of my early ideas with Dan, who recommended that I interview my mum. Then I bought a card to convert the analogue signal of the VHS tapes to a digital signal that could be captured on my PC in real time. This was pretty tedious and frustrating at times but I got it done. The interview with mum also ended up becoming an important part of the process, because I wanted to select the images based on their conceptual relevance to the ideas discussed in the interview. The editing process was fun, and I gave myself a decent amount of time to get it done. Overall, I’m happy with the final product, and satisfied with the approach I took to completing it.

One of the strongest themes that emerged from this project, was the comparison between choreography and film. During the process of making this film, I was given an insight into the principles of choreography and how they relate/translate to the principles of film. Early on in the process, I had the realisation that a finished choreographic work is similar in many ways to a finished film work. They are both carefully constructed, self-contained and intended to be viewed as a whole. In this way, sifting through videos of finished dance pieces and selecting certain parts felt comparable to stringing together a whole lot of footage from a bunch of unrelated movies. For this reason, I opted to use long duration shots in this film where I could, because I felt that they gave a more accurate impression of the intention of the finished dance piece. At times during the editing process, I couldn’t help but feel as though I was switching between the role of editor and the role of choreographer. Piecing together the different images and movements felt eerily similar to the process of choreography that mum had described in our interview. Ironically, she explained that a choreographer does not have the luxury of being able to pause and rewind their work in order to perfect it. Although, there I was, pausing, rewinding and chopping up finished dance pieces in my editing software, like some kind of Dr Frankenstein choreographer. This tension between dance and film is furthered when considering ideas of old and new. Dance is an artform that transcends old and new, whereas film is a comparatively new art form, the process of which has changed drastically in its short lifetime. I found that by positioning these two artforms alongside one another in this project, I was able to get an insight into the way that different kinds of art and craft are linked through common principles.

Throughout this course we’ve looked at a broad range of ideas surrounding old and new media, including how they interact with each other in practice. For this project, I used some old media materials (VHS tapes, VCR), in conjunction with new media technology (computer, editing software). The VHS conversion process was quite funny, because it was so plain to see how the VCR and the PC were incompatible and belonged to different eras of media. However, this process also opened my eyes to some of the problematic distinctions that we make between old and new media. Looking through the footage after it had been converted, I found that the quality of the footage was very visually interesting. Despite the outdated video format and the likelihood of degradation (some of the videos were from the 80s), I thought the footage had a very appealing, unique quality. In his discussion of vintage home movies, Wilson argues that we should embrace “the imperfections of the source film rather than attempting to digitally ‘clean’ the image” (Wilson, 2011). This applies to my use of VHS footage for this project, which was grainy as anything, but still had its own unique beauty. This makes me question the usefulness of categorising some media as ‘old’ and some as ‘new’, when the media is constantly changing, and what we consider to be new now will be old in a few years. Natale puts forward the idea that old media are “in a certain sense, ghosts – presences that are generated within our imagination” (Natale, 2016). I believe that all media, old and new, should be viewed as tools that are at our disposal, rather than viewing old media as ‘ghosts’ to be distanced from and forgotten. With this in mind, I think that media makers such as myself, should embrace all forms of media available to us, and take full advantage of all the differing, unique qualities that can be created through them.

This project was rewarding for me, on both a conceptual and emotional level. I was quite humbled looking through the VHS tapes, and seeing how extensive my mum’s career in choreography was and how much she achieved artistically. For this reason, as I gained an insight into the craft of choreography, I was glad to see the similarities between my passion of filmmaking and my mum’s passion for dance. I think that inviting some of the principles of choreography into my filmmaking practice will be an asset for future work. I’m also glad to have challenged the binary distinctions between old and new media. From now on I intend to embrace the quirks of all forms of media old and new, which I believe will unlock many possibilities for my future practise.

References:

Natale, Simone. (2016). ‘There are no old media.’ Journal of Communication, 66, 585-603.

Wilson, Shaun. (2011). ‘Remixing memory through home movies.’ Image & Narrative, 12(2).

Project Brief 4 – Artefact

Project Brief 4 – WIP post 2

Since my last work in progress post I’ve had a fair bit of inspiration, and I’m feeling a lot more comfortable in the ideas I’m working with. I’m sticking with my original idea of creating the found footage video, but the ideas I’m exploring are a lot more clear now and I think they are connecting well with the course concepts.

One of the main things that has helped me solidify my ideas for this project was going through some of the footage I’ll be working with. When my mum gave me all those VHS tapes of her performances, she gave me the impression that the footage would be pretty rough and not very dynamic. I was expecting to see a whole lot of static shots of dance performances from the back of the theatre. Fortunately, I found out that this is not the case for most of them. I found that a lot of the footage is dynamic, well shot and very visually interesting. Many of the video tapes are 30 to 90 minutes long, so I’m starting to think that finding enough material for a 5-10 minute video will not be as hard as I’d anticipated. Here is a little test edit I did with some of the footage I’ll be working with:

The other big thing that got me on track for this project was an interview I did with my mum. My mum is a talker, so I didn’t even have to ask her any questions really, she just started talking about choreography and gave me some really interesting stuff. First, she spoke about the principles of choreography, and the ‘materials’ that a choreographer has to work with. She listed three things as the key materials of choreography:

  • Space – the space in which the dance occurs, and the way the dance uses/fills that space
  • Time – rhythm, non-rhythm, duration, relationship with music
  • Energy – how is the dance performed e.g. delicate, floating or punchy, explosive

She went on to talk about the importance of process in choreography, which I thought tied in beautifully with some of the things that we discovered in project brief 3. Karl the neon glass bender also spoke about the importance of process and how it affects the artistry of the final product.

The last thing mum spoke about was the relationship that you have as a choreographer to the final product, which was also very interesting and very relevant (I thought) to film making.

I recorded about 20 minutes or so of mum talking about choreography, so my plan is to go through the interview and all the footage and edit it into some kind of instructive, artistic, found footage, almost documentary style… thing. I’m hoping that through the process of editing and choosing those key parts from the interview, I’ll be able to really unpack the concepts of craft and artistry that I’m starting to see.

My current plan for my final piece of writing is to talk about these ideas of craft, and to draw some comparisons between choreography and film making. I’m also going to talk about the actual process of converting the old footage into a digital format, which was pretty frustrating. It was funny though, literally plugging a VCR into my newish PC, and seeing how the two devices from different eras of media interact with each other. There’s definitely going to be some stuff to talk about there as well.

Project Brief 4 – WIP post 1

AT the moment I have a couple of ideas that I want to explore for PB4, but I’m struggling to find a way to tie them together conceptually.

Basically, a while ago my mum gave me this huge box of VHS tapes of her old dance performances (she was a choreographer for a long time before I was born), in the hope that I could convert them into a digital format for her. I haven’t got around to doing this yet, but I really like the idea of using that footage in my PB4 to create a kind of found footage film. I won’t know if this is a good idea or not until I’ve had a proper look through all the footage, but it’s my best lead at the moment.

I like the idea of using those old dance videos for a few reasons:

  • the emotional connection they have to me, through my mum
  • interest in the older film format of VHS, and how that affected the way the dance performances were recorded
  • a general interest in the crafts of choreography and dance

I had a chat to Dan about my idea, and he suggested that I should have a look into the area of dance film for inspiration. He also suggested that I could interview my mum and maybe incorporate some of her ideas into the video, which I think would be a great addition.

So at the moment I kind of have 2 core concepts/principals that I’m looking at: filming using old media, and the craft of choreography. Thinking through these two ideas, I’ve started to think that I could draw some interesting comparisons between film making and choreography. For example, the role of the choreographer and how it is comparable to that of a director or editor. Also, more broadly, how dance performances themselves are similar to films. I think this could be some interesting stuff to discuss in my written work, or even with my mum if I do end up interviewing her.

In terms of old media vs new media, I think that the main ideas I’ll be focussing on will be the use of VHS tapes for documenting dance, as well as the conversion of them into digital and the application of them in digital software.

Another idea I came across was the possibility of projecting the old films and recording the projections with my own camera in interesting ways. I really like the idea of doing that, assuming I can find a projector that will work.

I’m planning on having a look online for some found footage of dance/choreography to give me some inspiration. Also if I’m going to make a 5-10 minute film I’m going to need as much footage as I can get.

PB3 Reflection

Project Brief 3 Reflection

Alex Ferguson

Our interview with Karl Gordon the neon glass bender exceeded my expectations in a number of ways. We were given a very interesting insight into the craft of neon glass bending, and into Karl as a person. We got more footage than we could have hoped for, and captured a lot of Karl’s most interesting artworks. Also, we were given a firsthand look at some of the most important principles of craft including materiality, process and artistry. We collaborated effectively on the video we made, and we are all happy with the outcome. We’ve also gained some very valuable inspiration, that we will most likely take into Project Brief 4 and into our future practice.

Overall, I thought our approach to this project worked well, and it allowed us to create a final product we were all happy with. From the outset, we all agreed that we wanted to look at a craft that interested us, and that we could capture in a visually engaging way. Luckily, all three of us are keen film makers, so we decided that we would all like to contribute equally to making the final video. Our approach was to contribute equally to each aspect of the project including planning, shooting and editing. We organised a day to shoot that suited all three of us, so we could all participate. Then, during the editing process we organised sessions in the edit suites where we could all contribute equally. The only thing I would change if we could do it over again would be scheduling our shoot date earlier so we would have more time for editing. Apart from that, I thought we worked well as a team and I’m happy with the outcome.

One of the most prominent ideas that emerged during our interview with Karl was the relationship between craftsmanship and materiality. It was clear that the simple principle of handcrafting was very important to Karl’s process. He explained to us that he’s the type of guy who loves “tinkering” with things, and that neon glass bending is a “real tinkering kind of job”. Watching Karl as he expertly twirled the glass tubes above the flames, showed the extreme level of control and coordination that is required in glass bending. He told us that in glass bending “your tools are basically your hands and a bit of breath”. He heats the glass tube over a flame to bend it, then blows a small amount of air directly into the tube to widen the collapsed section. This showed us that not only was Karl’s process a very material, haptic experience, but also that there is a strong, almost intimate connection with the materials. Bragg puts forward the idea that satisfaction in craftsmanship is gained through the physical handling of materials, claiming “it is impossible to proceed to the satisfaction… without the handling of materials, and craftsmanship begins with the skill exercised in the handling” (Bragg, 1928). For Karl’s unique brand of craftsmanship, it was clear that he took pride in handcrafting his products, and gained immense satisfaction from it. For me, this highlighted the way that craft is enhanced by physical, material experiences, many of which are reduced in the modern world.

Another strong principle of Karl’s craft was the importance of process. Karl told us that neon glass bending turned 100 recently, and the process has changed very little in that time. He explained that all neon glass benders follow the same basic principles, but that each individual craftsman also has their own unique methods that they develop independently. Karl has been practicing neon glass bending for 29 years, and over that time he has developed and honed a process that is unique to him. It was interesting to hear Karl say that in his experience, people are happy to pay for craftsmanship when they know that the product is hand made. The quality that is achieved through this process is unique and timeless, so people keep coming back to neon signs despite innovations in areas such as LED lighting. The principle of process is present throughout creative industries as well, and I find it interesting comparing the process of neon glass bending to the process of filmmaking. Karl explained that every sign is different, and the process must adapt to the challenges posed by each new design. I find that this chimes with the process of filmmaking, in which the production process varies from film to film, and even from shot to shot. Also, each filmmaker has a unique process that they develop over time. Perhaps the biggest difference, however, is that since the conception of film, the process has changed constantly, whereas the process of neon glass bending has remained relatively unchanged. Despite this, I think the principle of process is just as vital in creative industries as it is in a trade such as glass bending.

During our interview, I was very interested in the artistic side of Karl’s work, and if he feels that he can express himself artistically through his craft. We discovered that Karl is a very artistic person, who works on art projects in his spare time. His artworks include paintings and sculptures that incorporate neon in their design. Karl’s passion was evident in this aspect of his craft, and it got me thinking about the idea of art in craftsmanship. I believe that craft is inherently linked to art, and in any skill based craft, there will inevitably be some form of self-expression. Beyond that, the products created through craft can often be seen as artworks themselves. Dominiczak points out that “in the distant past there was no difference between art and craft” (Dominiczak, 2015), suggesting that the way we discriminate between art and craft is largely caused by phenomena such as mass production. For example, Karl’s neon signs could easily be seen as artworks themselves, but Karl himself doesn’t see them that way because he views it as a product. Similarly, the craftsmanship that goes into creating furniture, or even something like web design, would not typically be considered art. However, I think that these crafts are artistic in nature because they are expressions of the craftsperson. I believe that skill and expertise are synonymous with artistry, and therefore craft is inherently artistic because of the skills involved.

There were a number of things about this project that stood out to me as ideas I might explore in my Project Brief 4. I think that profiling a craftsperson such as Karl was a very valuable experience, particularly for opening my eyes to some of the key principles of craft. After our interview, I was very drawn to the idea of process in craft, and how the process relates to and reflects the individual. I like the idea that the actual process of the craft is potentially as unique and expressive as the final product. This idea of process is definitely something I would consider looking at in PB4. Also, I liked the idea of seeing the artistry in a craft that may not necessarily be considered artistic. I found the link between art and craft very interesting, and I’d like to look into whether or not elements of artistic expression can be found in other, non-skill based activities. For example, looking at home movies this semester was very interesting, and I wonder if there are any other forms of amateur media making that could prove to contain some sort of unexpected beauty. At the moment, I’m confident my final project for PB4 will be a film, and I think that some of the principles of craft that I’ve learned from Karl, could be applied to my own film making process. For example, the idea of challenging yourself to learn new techniques, or the importance of materiality. My ideas for PB4 are still up in the air at the moment, but this project has definitely been inspiring.

I found this project to be a very rich source of learning, and also of inspiration. I really loved getting and inside look into a unique craft, and picking the brain of a highly skilled craftsperson. Despite the fact that neon glass bending is not a field I see myself ever gravitating towards, I felt that the principles of craft that we learned from Karl, are very relevant to me as a media maker. The idea of materiality in craftsmanship, and the importance of actually handling your materials is something that I feel could greatly improve my experience of craft. The idea of process, and developing your own, unique way of practicing your craft will become more and more relevant for me as I continue to hone my skills. Also, the role of art in craftsmanship and the way we express ourselves through our craft is very important to me. These are all ideas that will be invaluable for future projects.

 

Bibliography:

Bragg, W. (1928). Craftsmanship and Science. Science, 68(1758), pp.213-223.

Dominiczak, M. (2015). Craftsmanship in Arts and Science. Clinical Chemistry, 61(11), pp.1424-1425.

Project Brief 2: Old media enhances creative experience

  

“Old media enhances creative experience”

When coming up with the statement “old media enhances creative experience”, I was coming from a place of not having dabbled extensively in creative mediums that would fall under the banner of ‘old media’. I came up with the statement simply as an observation of how mediums such as photography, film and audio seem to be more engaging when old technologies are employed.

I decided to take a series of photos as a response to the statement. I remembered that my girlfriend had purchased a Holga camera a couple of years ago, and it occurred to me that the Holga camera gives the photographer a very different, perhaps more engaging creative experience. This is partly because the only indication of the success of the photo is given from looking through the camera, not displayed on a screen as with most digital cameras. Also, the limited number of photos in the film canister forces you to take care with each image. For this reason, I decided to experiment with putting my phone camera up to the Holga and capture images through the ‘eye’ of the camera. The resultant images give the perspective of the person using the camera, which I believe conveys a sense of intimacy and connection to the creative experience.

A strength of Analogue photography is the creation of images which are actual, tactile objects. The addition of the material object adds satisfaction to the creative experience. The images depicted in one of the 4 photos were taken with that Holga, and highlight the material gain that is associated with analogue photography. Breitbach argues that despite the apparent demise of analogue photography in the 21st century, “the medium of photography once again asserts its mythical ties with the elusive Real” (Breitbach, 2011). It seems that the materiality associated with analogue photography, and old media in general, helps it continue to thrive.

One of the potential drawbacks of old media is that generally old media formats are slower than new technologies. However, Knowles argues that the slowness of old media is not a drawback. On the contrary, she argues that “slow (analogue) cinema can be seen as part of a wider ethics of embodied interconnectedness… of physical engagement and being in the world” (Knowles, 2016). This also applies to old photography techniques, which are undeniably slower and more methodical than digital photography. I believe that this slowness allows the photographer to engage on a deeper level with their images and therefore, the creative experience is enhanced.

This is not to say that digital photography is inherently worse than analogue. As Biro points out, “because the camera always selects – or edits – and otherwise changes the world that exists before its lens, no photograph – analogue or digital – can be said to represent the complete ‘truth’” (Biro, 2012). I’m also aware of the irony of taking digital photos through the lens of an analogue camera. I do maintain, however, that the experience of photography is enhanced through the use of analogue materials, both through the materiality of the photos and the connection to the process. This connection is what I was trying to convey in my 4 images.

 

Works Cited:

Biro, M. (2012). From Analogue to Digital Photography: Bernd and Hilla Becher and Andreas Gursky. History of Photography, 36(3), pp.353-366.

Breitbach, J. (2011). The Photo-as-thing. European Journal of English Studies, 15(1), pp.31-43.

Knowles, K. (2016). Slow, Methodical, and Mulled Over: Analog Film Practice in the Age of the Digital. Cinema Journal, 55(2), pp.146-151.

Project Brief 2: Vinyl sounds better than digital

 

“Vinyl sounds better than digital”

I listen to music very often, but only a small amount of that time is spent on vinyl. Because of the era I live in, I find it much easier to use streaming/downloading to access music. Having said that, I do own a record player and have a handful of records that I put on very occasionally. When I do listen to vinyl, I can’t deny that there is a certain tactile satisfaction and sound quality that I find very pleasing. For this reason, the Chivers Yochim and Biddinger reading resonated with me when they argued that “when vinyl collectors expound upon the aesthetic, tactile and sonic superiority of records, they are not simply romanticizing the past but are articulating an abstract relationship between technology and humanity” (Chivers Yochim & Biddinger, 2008). I wanted to explore why vinyl is still popular in the modern world, beyond simple nostalgia. So I came up with the statement “Vinyl sounds better than digital” and decided to see where that would take me.

Audio is not a medium that I am experienced with, except in video editing. The track that I made is the first straight audio track that I have developed. The approach I took was experimental. I wanted to just gather some different relevant sounds and try to remix them into some kind of semi-cohesive format. I ended up tracking down a few different vinyl recordings and chopping them together. The track is intended to be a kind of celebration of vinyl recordings, demonstrating some of the different sounds that are created through vinyl (with the unfortunate irony that they are actually digital recordings of vinyl recordings).

For me, the distinctive sound of vinyl was always characterised by crackling and popping, as demonstrated in the track. However, it is not necessarily these faults that have served to maintain vinyl’s popularity. Many modern vinyl records actually have higher quality sound, when compared to “quickly produced digital music with subpar, lossy encoding… rushed to the music market” (Edmund, 2015). This suggests that the source of vinyl’s enduring popularity is its tactile nature rather than the “vintage feel” of the audio.

Surprisingly, I found that creating an audio track to comment on the debate of vinyl sounding better than digital was actually quite limiting. This was because the experience of vinyl records is so enhanced by the ritual. Woodward and Bartmanski point out that “it is good when a medium is instrumentally effective but it feels good when it is aesthetically satisfying” (Woodward & Bartmanski, 2015). The experience of listening to vinyl records is so inherently linked to the physical interaction with the medium, that I think the sound cannot be separated from the ritual. For this reason, I would hope to find a way of including the physical aspects of vinyl in any future investigations.

Works Cited:

Chivers Yochim, E. and Biddinger, M. (2008). `It kind of gives you that vintage feel’: vinyl records and the trope of death. Media, Culture & Society, 30(2), pp.183-195.

Edmund, M. (2015). Music to Whose Ears. Quality Progress, 48(2), pp.14-16.

Woodward, I. and Bartmanski, D. (2015). Vinyl: The analogue record in the digital age. 1st ed. London: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC.

Audio:

Desmond, P. (1976). Wendy. Available at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_XU8Vdbr8Q

Everybody Loves Raymond. (1996). Available at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQM6GwUancI

inFact: Vinyl vs Digital. (2015). Brian Dunning. Available at:  www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnxexlHRY2E

Original Dixieland Jazz Band, (1917). Livery Stable Blues. New Orleans. Available at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WojNaU4-kI

Vinyl. (2008). [online] Available at: www.archive.org/details/BattleForTheEarthVinyl

 

Project Brief 2: Celluloid film captures memory

“Celluloid film captures memory”

While studying film, I have developed a fascination with the relationship between film and the human mind. I have a particular interest in how film imitates or represents the way images are processed in the brain. For this reason, I was intrigued by Wilson’s view on vintage home movies. He argues that celluloid film, due to its richness and tactile nature, has “an ongoing, deeply personal relationship with memory” (Wilson, 2011). It was this concept that led me to the statement: “celluloid film captures memory”, which was the inspiration for this video.

While searching through free video archives online for vintage home movies, I came across an old video that was about half an hour long. It contained what seemed like years’ worth of memories. Looking through the footage, I was struck by the beauty of the images. The film was silent, but the images were rich and vibrant. Surprisingly, I felt a kind of emotional connection to the memories, even though they had nothing to do with me.

I decided to go through the video and cut the parts that elicited an emotional response for me into a short clip. My intention was to curate the images in a succinct format, to evoke a sense of memory, or at least provoke some kind of emotional response. I added music to the footage (also obtained from a free online archive) in an attempt to create a more finished product with a more emotional tone.

I was influenced by Frampton’s view that our current understanding of memory is not yet concrete enough to truly visualise it on screen, but that film is capable of producing “metaphors and illustrations of memory” (Frampton, 2012). I believe that celluloid film in particular has characteristics that are symbolically, culturally, historically linked to memory. For example, the image quality generated by celluloid film is instantly recognisable, and immediately evokes an emotional response that is not present in digital cinematography.

The emotional difference between digital and analogue films has been tested in the past. A study comparing audience perceptions of digital and analogue cinematography found that “the audience remembered visual background details better when watching the digital version” (Loertscher et al., 2016), suggesting that digital film has a stronger presence in memory. However, the same study also noted that “higher levels of emotional reactions were achieved with mechanical projection”. It seems that despite the clarity of digital film, analogue cinematography has a greater emotional impact than digital.

Olsen argues that “it is our obligation as film archives, as true film museums, to keep projecting precious analogue film prints… for as long as we can, for both our generation and the next” (Olsen, 2016). I believe that analogue film formats are important not just for documenting historical events/images, but also for the emotional connection that they have with human memory. It seems to me that it is not just a sense of nostalgia that is recalled by celluloid film, but also an honest emotional response, similar to that experienced when reflecting on a strong emotional memory. That is what I was trying to illustrate, if only fleetingly, in the clip I made.

Works Cited:

Frampton, D. (2012). Filmosophy. 1st ed. London: Columbia University Press.

Loertscher, M., Weibel, D., Spiegel, S., Flueckiger, B., Mennel, P., Mast, F. and Iseli, C. (2016). As film goes byte: The change from analog to digital film perception. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 10(4), pp.458-471.

Olsen, J. (2016). Maintaining Analogue Film Projection in the Digital Age. Journal of Film Preservation; Brussels, 94, pp.53-58.

Wilson, Shaun (2011). ‘Remixing memory through home movies.’ Image & Narrative12(2)

Footage:

Home Movie PA 098585. (n.d.). Available at:  www.archive.org/details/HomeMoviePA098585.

Music:

Cascades (of the Feelings). (2017). [online] Available at: www.freemusicarchive.org/music/The_Agrarians/Matthew/Cascades_of_the_Feelings_1

 

Old’s Cool Week 2 – Library Visit

Role of the Library:

Looking around the library you see a goldmine of texts. Rich sources of information and inspiration for anyone. In the Peters reading, he describes archives as “a mausoleum of documents”. Despite the slightly morbid nature of that analogy, I like the idea that the role of a library/archive is to preserve memory, information and inspiration in beautiful dusty permanence.

How will I use the library:

Something Dan said today about needing to engage with a reading in a physical, tactile way really struck a chord with me. He says that he doesn’t feel like he’s read something unless he can hold it and highlight it. I’ve struggled in the past with reading off a computer monitor; it just doesn’t seem to follow the right avenues in my brain.  This semester, I’d like to try borrowing books from the library as opposed to just using the online archives, and see if that helps me to engage with the text on a different level.

Here are two pics and a video that I took in the library:

I just thought this one was kind of funny and ironic because to me it seems the whole point of a library is that it has books, and yet in this particular library the vast majority of the people in there were on the computers. If that doesn’t say something about the changing media then I don’t know what does.

Again, the absence of books from this image kind of paints a picture of a library where no one reads books. Although, it could go the other way and appear to represent a library where all the books are in use.

For me, this video is about the slightly daunting nature of libraries. Just the fact that they contain so many pages of information kind of freaks me out a bit. It gets me thinking about if everything on the internet got written down on paper, how many libraries would it fill up?

Reflection – Final Post

Of all the studios I’ve done so far, Translating Observation has actually been the most similar to what I had pictured doing in this degree back when I applied. I applied for the degree because I wanted to learn practical skills and apply them in a creative environment. This studio has provided a host of useful practical film making skills, and allowed us to apply them to creative ideas of our own making. I enjoyed the process of translating my observations into film ideas and I feel that I have learned a lot from it. The final product that my group and I created is a realisation of these skills and ideas, and I’m proud of the outcome.

I’ve learned a lot of things in this studio, both practical and conceptual. On the practical side, we were given a ground up explanation of how to use various production equipment including cameras, tripods, sound mixers and lights. I found these explanations extremely valuable because in previous studios we had used cameras such as the Sony EX3 but had not been given the instruction required to get the best out of the camera. Also, working in a group on our final assessment was a rich learning experience in terms of effective collaboration. We learned vital communication and collaboration skills that we will be able to apply to future projects. On the more conceptual side, I was able to hone my skills in observational writing, and I learned to view my observations as potential film ideas. I learnt to extract film ideas from observations that would not have been immediately obvious. The process of ‘translation’ involved in this was key, and is reflected in the final film project I helped create. It is satisfying now to have a finished short film and view it alongside the observation that inspired it.

My experience of this studio was very positive, and I found the way it was taught to be logical, clear and easy to follow. The workload was not small, but not unreasonable. Perhaps what I liked about it the most was the focus on our own personal ideas, and the lack of focus on the ideas, theories and research of others. I’ve found in previous studios that we’re required to research and cite the works of film scholars, which can be valuable but also gets tiresome when you’re really interested in creating something of your own. I liked that this course centred on ideas we create ourselves (observations) and didn’t require us to back up our ideas through copious research. In terms of my own performance, I felt that the design of the studio allowed me to do everything I needed to do by breaking some sweat but not breaking my back. As always, time management was my worst enemy, but I found the work load manageable, and my level of interest was such that I didn’t need to force myself to engage with the course. I surprised myself by enjoying the collaboration aspect of the final assessment, because I have worked alone on the vast majority of my big assessments. In the past I have felt more comfortable working alone because the whole thing is under my control, but surprisingly it was not difficult for me to invite the contributions of others, even though the original idea was mine.

The final product of the studio, the short film called “Merlot with Mates”, is something that I’m happy with when all is said and done. There was a time during the process that I feared that my original idea had been lost in ‘translation’. It was probably when I watched the first rough cut, I started to worry that the substance of the film wasn’t coming across as I’d hoped. I felt that the continuity issues and occasionally jarring line delivery might get in the way of the audience actually getting in touch with the characters and understanding their relationship. My biggest object of anguish was the ending of the film.  I was dismayed to find that I didn’t like any of the takes we had of the final shot, so I had to settle for a cut to black on the last line. However, after we started to make some more refined drafts that included music and sound effects, I realised that the issues I had been so concerned about were not as prominent as I’d thought. From my own experience of watching the film, I like to think that the idea I came up with in the original observation does come across. I wanted to convey the concept of coming of age, and encountering the new and interesting possibilities of adulthood. I believe that the film achieves this, if not as smooth and seamlessly as I’d hoped. If the criterion for this studio was to successfully translate an observation into film form, then I view our film as a success. The film itself isn’t Scorsese, but i do believe that it achieves what we set out to do, and I’m proud of that.

Overall, I’m satisfied with my work in this studio, and of the work of my group. I have gained and honed a number of useful skills for future projects, and would recommend this studio to others for that reason alone. On top of that, the studio encouraged us to nurture our ideas and create something from them, which I enjoyed immensely.

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