After 5 weeks working towards our final project, we finally completed it earlier today! To have a look at our work and learn about textual adaptations, click this link: http://www.mediafactory.org.au/2015-media1-projects-onestepfurther/
On the day that we formed groups and were assigned the task of creating a “Media Artefact” for Project Brief 4, I have to admit I was quite lost. It took me a long time to wrap my head around how we were going to use academic research to produce something that was both creative and meaningful. The media idea “texts” is inherently broad, and while we thought this would serve as an advantage, it actually caused us some confusion. On the bright side, there were also a lot of interesting topics for us to explore that also happen to be incredibly relevant to today’s changing media climate.
At the beginning of the process, we had several ideas floating around and not much direction for any of them. After further research and working to improve and combine these ideas, we finally settled on a topic we were all excited about: textual adaptations. The next challenge was narrowing down the topic area, which was still too broad. We attempted this in several stages, each time taking out some aspect of the work until we whittled away our topic to a core that we could explore in depth. I think that strangely the most successful aspect of the creation process was revealed when someone in the group was having trouble. This prompted us to ask questions to clarify what we were working on, and this not only helped us to come up with new ideas and better approaches to our work, but also highlighted the collaborative strength of our group.
Once we had a solid idea of the work we wanted to include, it was a little problematic deciding how we wanted everything to be presented. We were concerned that we would not be able to efficiently present our learning through a video or audio, so we eventually decided on a website. I think our final work is strong and demonstrative of the hard work we have put in over the semester. The only area I think we could have improved upon is the overall cohesiveness of the final website. There are three core branches we focused our work on: texts, leading into adaptations with a focus on Romeo and Juliet adaptations into a range of mediums, but we could have tied everything together more clearly.
I think the major success of our final artefact is one of the things I was most concerned about at the beginning of the process; the effective integration and application of references into our work. This element of the work fell into place as we watched the different Romeo and Juliet adaptations, and thought analytically about these works. The sources we used provided a highly relevant framework upon which we were able to substantiate our ideas.
As a group, I think Lucas, Rob and I all worked really well together, supporting and expanding on each others’ ideas and ensuring everyone was tasked with something that they had a personal interest in. I also learnt a lot from working with these two talented up-and-coming media practitioners, especially in terms of thinking about and following through with creative ideas. I especially respect the work Lucas and Rob did in filming and editing the adaptations interview with professional dancer Maddie.
At the same time, I was also able to showcase my strength in research and use this to improve the academic rigour of our artefact. Working on this assignment taught me a lot about the characteristics of positive collaboration, and how this can create a platform for elevating individuals’ ideas and highlighting everyone’s best abilities.
During the weeks I spent working on this assignment, I was able to refine my research skills, in particular learning how to use the RMIT library resources. I also developed my ability to perform meaningful analysis on media texts, learning to recognise conventions and techniques in particular works to expand my understanding of media as an area of study. Finally, I discovered a lot about intricacies in the field of media adaptations.
I think that everything I learnt and the skills I developed during the brainstorming, researching, creating and editing stages of this brief will help to inform my future work and studies in media. I believe this is significant because texts are constantly evolving in the fast-paced media industry, and to have a solid understanding of this strand of media is invaluable.
In our tutorial yesterday, we looked at each group’s second draft for project brief 4. It was great to finally see what everyone else had been working on after being so caught up in our own work. A couple of the artefacts that really stood out to me were the following:
Elise and Jack
- Gave a clear explanation of what an institution was, then honed in on their topic of classification (connecting to the classification board of Australia)
- Presented their work as a short 10 minute film explaining the intricacies of the classification system
- How it works
- What the different ratings are
- Challenges facing film-makers today
- I thought this was a very well executed media artefact that did well integrating academic information, whilst also being creative and interesting
Maggie, Jac and Dusty
- Focused on how audiences now interact with the content they watch, and the effect this then has on the media content produced
- Presented their work in the form of a website, but also created Youtube videos to demonstrate linking to other sources and created an app to view the website easily from a mobile device
- I thought these ideas were particularly creative because they were highly relevant to their content
- Teaching about interactivity by creating something interactive
I also liked Gloria, Patrick and Bianca’s work. They created a sound recording with information and interviews with experts in their topic. It was the first assignment presented as a sound recording, and it really changed the way we experienced the artefact, requiring more attention because there was no visual component. Though this work still needed to be edited, I thought it was a really interesting response to the brief.
Last week, Rachel made some suggestions for how we could best progress with our final project brief.
- Make sure that everyone is asking the same questions of the texts they are analysing (this prompted us to create a list of 3 questions to focus our work)
- Keep the focus narrow so you can increase the depth of the work
- Take out side ideas – remixing, Space Odyssey
- Left with: Texts > Adaptations > Romeo & Juliet
- Extra ideas for looking at Romeo & Juliet
- Look at soundtracks separately from the films as this is a whole different medium
- E.g. original soundtrack composed for West Side Story
- Book of West Side Story
- Look at soundtracks separately from the films as this is a whole different medium
This advice was helpful for us as it gave us a better idea of the direction we needed to go in for our brief and helped us clarify in our heads the work we still needed to complete.
One of my sources for Project Brief 4 was a book titled, True to the Spirit: film adaptation and the question of fidelity, by Colin MacCabe, Kathleen Murray and Rick Warner.
The following are the notes I took that have helped me to better understand what is meant by “textual analysis”. This reading will be invaluable going forward with analysing the different adaptations of Romeo & Juliet, as I intend to incorporate these analytical tools into my work on this brief.
- “First error: critics claim films have a duty to be faithful to a literary source. Second error: Critics ignore the unique language of cinema and thus do not acknowledge a filmic adaptation to be an independent cinematic work.”-p41
- “acknowledge film adaptations as specifically cinematic, rather then viewing them simply as translations into another medium of the essence of the work”-p42
- NOTE: Shakespeare seen as highly academic while adaptations lose the essence of this
- “Transformation that takes place between the source text and the final film. This includes changes made in the story as well as the more subtle transformations involved in the transfer to another medium…“textual information”…“diverse semiotic levels”…“adjustments that take place during shooting, and quite crucially during post-production…”-p42-43
- “Innovative staging and composition, lighting, decor and styles of acting, and most importantly, a variety of means of conveying characters’ motivations or reactions, frequently occur in films that involve literary appropriation.”-p45
- *Of silent films in particular* – “order of narrative incidents… early filmic adaptations frequently retell the events in strictly chronological order, converting literary back-story into the early narrative events”-p49
- Flashbacks were introduced to film at a later date
This week, we created a proper plan to split up the work between group members. Rob will be working on the adaptations page of the blog, conducting an interview with a dancer who creates adaptations for a living. Lucas will create the introduction for the Romeo & Juliet page and I will do the same for the static home page, “Texts”. Lucas and I will also analyse a number of Romeo & Juliet adaptations – including West Side Story – in different mediums.
We came up with three questions to help keep our analyses focused and on the same track.
- What is the core focus of this adaptation?
- Themes, characters, story, setting
- Do these elements stay constant or are changes made?
- How does each adaptation reflect the time in which it was made?
- How does the form influence the message and relatability of the text?
According to Everything is a Remix: Part 2…
- 74/100 films are remakes, adaptations, sequels of existing films
- We as a society like the familiar
- “The old into the new is Hollywood’s greatest talent”
- Films are based on theme park rides, blogs, books and more
- Films are also built on other films
- Then told, retold, subverted, referenced
- “Original” films are not really original
- Most are genre films with standard templates
- They also fit into sub-genres that have even more specific elements
- Certain films reshape pop culture, but that still doesn’t make them original
- e.g. Star Wars is very imaginative but most of the individual elements are sampled from elsewhere
- “Creation requires influence”
- e.g. influence from our lives and the lives of others
This short analytical film was one of our “readings” for week 11 of this course. Not only that, but it is highly relevant to the work my group is doing for our fourth project brief. Our focus is on adaptations and the concept that nothing is original changes the way we look at particular films, as well as other adaptations in other mediums. Our focus is on Romeo and Juliet, one of the most commonly adapted stories of all time. Everything is a Remix encouraged me to think about the differences between relying on an “original” as a source for the plot, characters and thematic elements of a story, as opposed to sampling specific sequences or features from a number of works for a particular purpose or effect. I think that the difference between a remix and an adaptation is that an adaptation more closely relies on its original as a template, whereas remixes tend to take more chances, experimenting with how different elements could be manipulated and to what effect.
Today, we each came to class with our annotated bibliographies and a much fuller understanding of where we wanted to go with the project. Our research made it much easier to think about the topic in more concrete terms, and our ideas flowed from there.
Here are our team meeting minutes from today to illustrate the progress we made on our project today and where we are now.
- Met up before media tutorial
- Spoke about our research findings
- Rob: remixing, copyright in relation to parodies, semiotics
- Lucas: evolution of audiences and interpretation of meaning, semiotics
- Emma: adaptations (literary works to films), semiotics
- Discussed with Rachel how to narrow down topic
- Texts > Adaptations > Literary to Film OR specific author
- Further discussion of this within our group led to the decision to focus on the works of William Shakespeare
- Modern adaptations
- Twelfth Night – She’s the Man (film)
- Romeo & Juliet
- Shakespeare Play > Modern Plays > Movies > West Side Story Film and Plays
- 2 separate parts
- Basics of adaptations and remixes (Rob – interviews)
- Romeo & Juliet – linked to West Side Story (focused on the differences between adaptations and the effect this has)
For next week, our task is to have something concrete to show for our research. For our group, this will be footage from the interviews Rob has set up, and a set structure for the website we will create, with the following:
- Introduction to our group and the subject of ‘texts’, also introducing ‘adaptations’
- Sections of the website
- Planned content (which media we will use and who will work on which aspects)
Every week, as I get a better idea of where this project is heading, I am more and more excited to see the final product (artefact) our research will culminate in.
So far, my group’s work for brief 4 is on track. When we (Rob, Lucas and I) first read the brief, we were quite confused about exactly what we were being asked to do. Brainstorming really helped us to get our ideas together and think about ‘texts’ as more than just the written word. Rather, for this task, we will adopt the definition that texts are anything that convey meaning. This could mean, for example, films, radio, novels, etc.
Ideas so far:
- Explore how modern day texts are still influenced by ancient texts.
- Comparing and contrasting texts before and after the internet.
- Historical timeline of the changes in media (text) forms
In the next week, we’re going to work on clarifying our ideas and thinking about them more pragmatically.
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