Brief 3 Screening

In Thursday’s Tutorial, we had a mini screening of everyone’s portraits. Once again I was taken aback by how different everyone’s work was even though we were all given the same brief. I think that says a lot about the range of creative people and ideas in our class.

The following are the notes I made on the portraits created by my group-members.


  • Yellow: loved the opening and closing titles with the casual conversation and subtitles (looping back tied it all together too), 
  • Red: subtitles a signature for Ali’s work
  • Black: I didn’t always understand the connection to found footage (bright-coloured cartoon towards the end)


  • Yellow: Comedic, interesting connections between animals and subject (creative take on the concept of a portrait), subject’s actions and the filters on the shots matched up well with found footage clips
  • Red: felt a little sci-fi mixed with the wild
  • Green: could lower the opacity to see the shot of the animal and your friend at the same time
  • Black: the planes seemed out of place amongst everything else (have subject mention this in the interview/voiceover to make it clear)


  • Yellow: there was a great integration of original and found footage, pacing was good
  • Red: the black and white film created a very personal atmosphere, felt closeness to the subject
  • Black: music volume was a bit too high, so sometimes it was hard to hear the speaking

I’m also really thankful to my group for the feedback I received, both good and bad, because it gave me a clearer look at how my work was received, which I could then compare to my goals for the project.

  • Yellow: found images focused on what the subject was talking about, sled footage was dark (symbolically representative of the traumatic experience), colour balance was good (not too harsh or cold), sound levels edited well, subject looked natural in the shots (not like she was trying hard to avoid looking at the camera), cuts between handheld and tripod cameras worked well
  • Green: show more about subject’s interests and hobbies (mixed opinions: another group member said they liked how everything was cut down and stripped away to something bare – ons story)

On a final note, I also particularly enjoyed Daniel’s portrait of his younger brother. The vibe of the video was very aspirational and the closeness between Daniel and his subject was evident in his brother’s demeanour, which is so important. The content was interesting listening to his brother talking about his dreams of becoming a music producer, and the video was edited together well.



This week’s lectorial was all about semiotics, which I find fascinating. I think idea that every action or utterance holds a particular significance is so clever, and I have great respect for those who manage to infuse numerous layers of encoded meaning into their work. I can view these works over and over and continue to find new ways to interpret them, which I really appreciate.

Semiotics is a system made up of signs, signifiers and the associated signified. The main purpose is to encourage people to think about how particular elements work together to produce a whole, and this starts even from the smallest of creative decisions. Essentially, semiotics is a method of analysis that delves into the creative decisions encoded in specific works and how these decisions deliver (or fail to deliver) intended meanings (sometimes a number of meanings).

Brian explained in the lectorial that to study semiotics, we need to understand the following terms:

  • Sign: a core element of the text/creation
  • Signifier: a mark of this element (e.g. words, sound, etc.)
  • Signified: (subconscious) reactions and connections to signifier
  • Denotation: first order meaning (objective, simply what is there)
  • Connotation: second order meaning (subjective, connections we make (varies from person to person and may be affected by culture, experience, etc.)

Acclaimed semiotician Roland Barthes was incredibly influential in this field, even developing his own terminologies for breaking down creative works – the studium (that which is constructed with technical skill to generate audiences’ interest) and the punctum (the inexpressible quality that certain media works possess; the element that strikes the viewer immediately and captivates him or her). To me, this concept puts into words something that I had experienced but never understood when I interacted with different media. In particular, I find it a very useful ideological construct for explaining why some advertisements affect me, why certain photographs stay ingrained in my mind and why some media pieces just make me want to pay attention.

Semiotic deconstruction is applicable to all media everywhere we look, at some level. I know that I will be walking around with these ideas in the back of my head for a long time to come.

Note: this lecture’s focus on textual analysis formed part of the basis for my group’s work on Project Brief 4

Backpacking and Other Traumas – Project Brief 3

I chose my best friend Lucy as my subject for this brief and I knew immediately that I wanted to focus on her sense of humour. After brainstorming ideas, I decided to interview her about our recent backpacking trip because I knew that not only would it provide funny material, but it was an important experience for Lucy (and myself) in becoming independent. I believe the most successful aspect of this portrait is that I was able to capture and produce a snapshot of Lucy as she is now.

I attempted to change the colour balance in each of the clips so that they all matched. I think this is one of the problematic aspects of the work, as there was only so much altering I could do with my limited editing experience. If I could redo the project, I would also film a wider range of shots of Lucy in her surroundings, as this would have given me more to work with as I was editing.

I learnt a lot during both the filming and editing processes, from how to operate a Sony MC50 camera to working with multiple devices simultaneously, asking questions to gain useable responses and incorporating appropriate found footage. The most useful discovery I made in terms of producing a media portrait is that an anecdote can provide deep insight into a subject’s personality, not only through the story they tell but also the way they tell it, their body language and the spin they put on different situations. More importantly, it’s my job to tease that story out. This was how I managed to portray Lucy’s humour, and it was a particularly useful approach for working within the strict time constraints of the brief.

In relation to broader applications of my discoveries, I think I’ve taken steps in the right direction developing my editing skills. With every brief, I discover new tools, such as overlapping two videos and adjusting opacity. Watching other people’s work also gives me inspiration for different skills I could learn and then apply, in a different context, to my own work.

Trouble Working with the Zoom H2N Sound Recorder

Below are two of the sound clips my partner and I recorded during our tutorial using the Zoom H2N sound recorder. After a brief introduction to the equipment, we set out to record a variety of different sounds, including “silence” in different sized spaces, conversations, modes of transport, etc. The aim of the task was to get a feel for recording and to start paying attention to the considerations we will need to make when working to create our own original recordings for project briefs. The thing I noticed almost immediately when I started to pay close attention, is how difficult it is to differentiate between different noises coming from every direction. In our clips, the sound we intentionally set out to record was sometimes muffled by outside noises, and this is especially difficult to control in a public space such as the city.

The major issue we encountered with this task was that after setting the decibel level to the recommended level and taking a sample recording, we couldn’t hear the recording in playback. We tried changing the recorder settings, recording in different locations and trying to find louder sounds, but still had no luck. We concluded that because we couldn’t find the issue, it must have been in the playback not the recording, so we continued, in the hope that all would be resolved once we transferred the sound files to our computers from the device. However, what we didn’t realise was that there was a small dial on the outside of the recorder (right in front of our eyes!) that showed the volume level that would be recorded, and ours was turned almost to zero! This is a mistake I won’t make again, so I’ll put it down to a learning experience.

Below are two of our loudest sound recordings, which are audible but still fairly quiet.

Birds and water:


Techniques for Project Brief 3

In our tutorial for week 6, Rachel went through some basics about coverage and sound recording to help us with the technical aspect of Project Brief 3.


  • Interview
    • Camera setup: master camera (see the whole scene), additional cameras focus on specific aspects of the scene
  • Going about daily business
  • What’s going on in the environment
  • Close-ups of eyes, hands, etc. demonstrating a person’s subconscious behaviours

Sound Recording

  • Simplest form – changes in air pressure that changes depending on spatial orientation
  • Sound vs. Noise
    • Sound: intentional, public, specifically listen to it
    • Noise: unintentional, surrounds us
  • Hearing vs. Listening
    • Hearing: surrounds us, may try to block it out
    • Listening: intentional, pay attention, specific source
  • 3 main types of sound (all influenced by our own perceptions):
    • Music
    • Speech
    • Sounds
  • Space
    • 3-dimensional (think about depth, breadth, height)
    • Gain perspective by listening to the sound (decipher where the sound was recorded, the distance of the recording device/microphone from the sound source, how the sound was recorded – type of microphone, sound/noise ratio)
  • Reverb: multiple reflections of the same sound – direct and reflected sound
  • Signal sound should be loud in relation to the noise – largely dependent on the microphone used to record and the environment where the sound was recorded
  • Microphones
    • Dynamic – common, cheap, frequency not great
    • Condenser – much more sensitive, better signal-to-noise ratio)


In our week 6 lectorial, we talked about the characteristics of positive collaborative experiences, reflecting back on good and bad experiences from the past and thinking about the upcoming group project brief.

My experiences:

  • Good – I collaborated with two people whom I knew were hard workers. We were able to bounce ideas off each other, which helped us to think more deeply about the topic and in turn gain a more well-rounded knowledge and understanding of the subject matter.
  • Bad – I recently worked with a group of 3 others, one of whom did not contribute to or communicate with the group. This meant that the rest of the group (myself included) had to complete more than our fair share of the work.

The characteristics identified in the lectorial as making up positive collaborations are:

  • Consistency – making sure work is of a high standard and that as a group member you are reliable
  • Respect – communicate with others, especially if unable to attend a group meeting or complete a task by an agreed deadline, not wasting others’ time
  • Support – looking out for other members of the group and helping them where necessary
  • Responsibility – each person has their own tasks that others trust them to complete well and in a timely manner
  • Equitability – everyone shares the workload

Being upfront with group members is very important so that everyone knows where they stand and what they intend to get out of the assignment; this forms the groundwork for everything. It helps to map out where your group hopes to go with the project and outline practically how you will work towards this, assigning responsibilities to each group member. Key is having resolution procedures so that if anything happens, it is clear how the group will deal with the situation and proceed.

The Things I’ve Yet to Learn

Playing my self portrait for the class today was very intimidating for me. I love receiving feedback on my work but always get nervous presenting to people, and especially in this instance because the work was very personal. On the other hand, I was proud of my work and it was great to hear what other people thought about it and interpreted it to be. I also loved watching other people’s self portraits because every aspect of the work said a lot about the person and there was so much variation from video to video.

There were a few portraits that really stood out to me and sparked ideas for my future work as well as making me think about new skills that I could work on developing.


  • Filming and editing were thoughtful and seamless
  • Told a story – clips gradually grew shorter and shorter, then snapped back to slower cuts to create a sense of calm after the ‘chaos’
  • Contrast between black & white and colour using split-screen – put a lot into 60 seconds
  • Words jumped around on the screen and changed fonts – almost looked animated

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 1.55.57 pm


  • Editing – I want to learn how to have a black screen that reveals a video behind as words show up on the screen
  • Layered two videos over each other (filters and semi-transparent)

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 1.53.04 pm


  • Interesting use of colours, blur, layering
  • Managed the switches in aspect-ratio well
  • Use of repetition tied everything together well (e.g. video > photo > back to different segment of same video)
  • Red hat: dark, mysterious


A Terrible First Filming Attempt

In our week 5 tutorial we worked very briefly with the Sony MC50 camera, learning a few of the basic functions and then filming our own short hand-held, still and pan shots.

We were also asked to think about aspect ratios – the dimensions of a film recording – and to make sure that each of our clips had the same ratio, or that we incorporated different ratios in a creative manner or switched for a specific purpose. Next, we talked about zooming, and how it is very uncommon to see zooms in shot; it is much more common to cut from, for example, a mid-shot to a close-up shot. Finally, we discussed colour balance and temperature in film clips. The colour balance can have a profound effect on the viewer, as it changes the whole atmosphere in the shot. For example, blue creates a cold feel that may be associated with a hospital, while yellow is associated with warmth and afternoon light, which can feel very homey.

Week 5 Lectorial – ‘Successful’ Reading

In our week 5 lectorial, we spoke about successful reading as well as how to practically approach our third project brief (and some things to keep in mind).

I’m going to try to make use of the following tips to help me get through all my readings at university, and particularly the challenging ones.

  • Read the abstract first (if there is one), paying close attention, as this outlines what the reading will be about
  • Skim read the body of the text to figure out the main idea of the writing and become familiar with the writing style and structure
  • Read introduction and conclusion to clarify the overall purpose of the text
  • Think about the argument the writer is making so that things make sense as you read
  • Don’t be overwhelmed by a lot of text; look for key sentences and go for there
  • Don’t get stuck on terms you don’t know – make a note to look it up and come back to it later
  • Highlight and annotate as you go
  • When you finish reading, write a brief summary of the main ideas of the text for quick reference
    • Look for a kernel that sums up the main point of the text
    • Also evaluate the text in your mind, thinking about the strengths/limitations and the scope of the reading
  • Think about the relevance of the text for your purpose (e.g. background reading, inspiration, developing a creative or technical skill)

In terms of things to remember for project brief 3, I made the following list:

  • Release forms signed by participants
  • Original and Found Footage
    • Found footage: pre-existing footage found and appropriated in an original way that the original creator
  • Editing
    • Make use of cutaway shots – keep the audience interested
    • Voiceovers
    • Interview – filmed from multiple angles
    • Fast cuts and repetition
    • Think about putting effects on videos (e.g. colour washes to create a certain mood, sense of ageing/time to create a sense of reminiscence)
    • Play with camera focus – same thing from different angles
    • Mood music behind a person speaking – can lift what they are saying

Creating a Story Sequence

In our week 4 lectorial, we did an activity where we wrote 5 activities from the life of an imaginary person on sticky notes. One card was clearly the opening, one was the conclusion and there were 3 moveable activities that could be placed in any order.


This made us think about interchangeability in the editing process and the value of being able to mix things up when they’re not quite working right. We then had to decide which of these cards could be a turning point in the day and how this would affect each of the other activities. Finally, we had to replace the opening and closing activities for the day with two more activities that could be placed in any order, the same as the first three.


It was interesting to experiment with different sequences, imagining how the person’s mood would change throughout the day and the impact of certain events on other activities. Even moving one event had the potential to change the narrative behind the ‘day in the life’ mini story. This was a simple exercise that got me thinking about how different clips can work together. I found that when I put the media elements together for my second project brief, they didn’t work as I imagined they would. I had to reconstruct and even re-film some of these elements to work for the piece I was trying to create.