Final Course Reflection

I’m not sure what I expected coming into Media 1, but the content covered and the assignments I’ve worked on have definitely surpassed anything I could have predicted. Over the course of semester, I’ve had the chance to develop my skills in a range of areas, working with new technology, learning to engage with the filmmaking process from conceptualisation to the finished product (and all the filming and editing in between), collaborating with others and conducting academic research. This learning experience, punctuated by my work on each of the four project briefs, has been very rewarding, especially in the moments when I finally saw my work coming together.

I experienced a change in thinking when I was editing my work for brief 3. I was watching the half-finished video I had created, and thinking about the different filming techniques and transitions we had discussed in class. I realised the difference this new knowledge made in being able to visualise how I wanted the final video to look and in putting into words the features I wanted to highlight in my work. Since then, I have been noticing these elements in commercials, television shows and movies and reflecting on the effects of each of these stylistic choices.

I have discovered this semester that I learn best by doing. At the start of the semester there were times when I was stuck for ideas, but just by getting started on something, even if it turned out that the something was later scrapped to start again, at least I had something to work from. This is what sparked ideas, and it was an amazing realisation to have about my own way of learning and working.

Given my very limited experience filming and editing, the most challenging aspect of this course was translating my ideas into film. There were times when I knew exactly what I wanted to illustrate on screen, such as the concept of yin & yang as the basis for my self portrait, but I did not yet have the technical skills to edit towards that visual. At times, this was quite frustrating for me, but I managed to work around it to produce a final product I was proud of. I hope that as I grow as a media maker I will be able to find creative solutions to the challenges I face.

In Media 1, I discovered that filmmaking is a very personal activity because I’ve seen my personality come through my work. I also realised that my creative practice involves working towards my original ideas, and weaving in new ideas as they arise. For example, I had a concept for my self portrait, but as I was editing I saw gaps in my work so I thought of new ways to illustrate key aspects of my personality. I believe these “afterthoughts” are the best features of my work, because with them I targeted what was previously missing.

I look forward to learning and overcoming new challenges next semester!

Brief 4 Final Reflection

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.

The End of Media 1

“Because today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups… So I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power. They have a lot of it. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing.” ― Philip K. Dick

I read this quote and I knew I had to write something about it.

The concept of “manufacturing reality” scares me as a future media creator. I want to believe that I can tell the difference between what is news and what is make believe, but it seems that increasingly it is harder to trust my senses on this.

The quote above reminds me of the film Wag the Dog, which explores the idea of a filmmaker writing history by creating news of a war that does not exist, to protect a politician. Though it’s fiction, it’s quite scary to think that somebody could have so much power that they could literally create history. I think that after a certain point, it would be out of even the creator’s hands; if something is so ingrained in people’s minds and enough people believe it, it becomes real. It is the very same concept mentioned above of “creating universes of the mind”.

I hope that through my work I can create alternate universes that may help people escape from their lives for a while. But I also hope that people can always tell the difference between reality and imagination, and that the media is never so powerful that we completely lose trust in those feeding us information.

The Next 3 Years…

After 6 months at university, I feel like I’m in a better place now to make judgments about my expectations and goals for the rest of my degree.


  1. This is very broad, but I want to improve my organisational skills. I realised this semester that a lot of my assignments fall at the same time, and I could have made life easier for myself by looking ahead at the assessments calendar and planning accordingly.
  2. I’ve started to work on this already, but I want to continue developing my group work skills to ensure everybody works equally and communicates well to produce quality work.
  3. I have had a taste of working with film equipment and I hope to continue learning through experience.
  4. I plan to improve my editing skills both on iMovie and FinalCut. I think this is mostly a matter of practice, watching tutorials and experimenting with new ideas and techniques.

This semester I have been thinking a lot about how I can make the most of my experience at RMIT during my degree. I think one of the most important opportunities provided is the work attachment scheme and I have already been thinking about what I’d like to do for mine. I’m going to work to find as many relevant attachments as possible over the course of my degree and I hope this will set me apart when I graduate.

Advice on Brief 4

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

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.


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.

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.

This is Me: An Edited Self Portrait

The concept behind my self portrait was to demonstrate the different environments, people and experiences that have shaped who I am. I wanted to illuminate numerous aspects of my personality by creating a juxtaposition representative of how people may perceive me on the surface and how I see myself. During the editing stage I realised that a couple of my media creations didn’t portray ‘me’ in an effective way, so the process itself fuelled my creativity.

Each of my images is connected, as they all give me a sense of “home” when I look at them. My sound recordings are quite varied – city noises representing my adjustment to Melbourne culture, me singing an original song both because I love to sing and because the lyrics resonate with where I am in my life now, and nature sounds because being outside and closing your eyes, you can feel at home anywhere in the world.

My first video shows where I have come from (Shanghai) and where I am now (college in Melbourne). The video of my sister sitting in my Grandma’s dining room writing a Chinese character brings together my family and my life experience. In the walking video I am on my way to college so this is symbolic of my new life. The reversed video of me drawing over my scars is supposed to illustrate that I like to be creative and have fun, but that when this is stripped away I am also strong (I think this video in particular is the most successful part of my work).

Editing these elements together gave me a sense of piecing together different parts of ‘me’. I wanted to create an abstract representation completely undefined in terms of time, so I mostly used blur and cross dissolves to build seamless transitions and create a fluid effect throughout the video. I think the least successful part of my work is the opening title, as it doesn’t completely connect with the rest of the elements in my video. For future projects I also want to work on my soundtrack layering skills.