Ghosts of Building 20: Virtual Tour

Title: Ghosts of Building 20

Type: Virtual Tour

George Downing, David Spencer, Jake Baldwin, Jackie Matthews, Cassie Chiong (moi), Stephanie Wu and Marcus Pedrigal

The Ghosts of Building 20: Virtual Tour is a platform for the Ghosts of RMIT‘s students to showcase their individual work for the semester.

My role in this project was initial research for free platforms that will host our virtual tour. This included trying out the tours myself online and assessing which one could best represent our works and the building itself. Our group often utilised class time and our Ghosts of RMIT Facebook page to communicate by sharing links, posting and commenting. On the day prescribed for filming, Stephanie, Linh and I went about in taking the photographs and panoramas required for Jake, George and David to install and eventually stitch together in the final form.

Steph and I mapped out the general outline of Building 20 and the paths we would take before going about in taking the photographs. All three, including Linh and I worked really well together, making sure to take turns in capturing images, doing panoramas and making certain that the photographs we took had a sense of continuity about them.

In terms of peer collaboration, the team worked really well. In my part anyway, we communicated very well and we got things done as swiftly and efficiently as possible. Some aspects that would require movement would include proper use of equipment for aforementioned continuity as sometimes we would do guess-work with camera placement. But this is a minor thing.


The Virtual Tour is such a great way to showcase our individual works. The audience and viewers are granted a 360-degree perspective of the building and I think this is the best way to fully appreciate and have a feel of the Old Magistrates’ Court as it is an incredible architecture, grandeur and the very hauntings of the place lies in having the full feel of the place. Though it is still incomplete as of yet, the viewers will be able to walk through empty hallways showcased in mine and my peers’ works, enter courtrooms and courtyards, surveying the area that could not be done by any passer-by. For Building 20 is a fortress of such a huge magnitude from the outside.

Through research, I believe that the industry is making more room for Virtual Tours as most Universities, even RMIT, have employed this platform for marketing, advertising, and giving viewers the immersive feel. Museums, galleries, hotels and restaurants, real estates and even restaurants have also used the Virtual Tour platform.

I believe that, reflecting on the semester, especially when it comes to augmenting place, Virtual Tours are a sure way of giving meanings to spaces. And with our individual works, instead of simply using digital portfolios and simple websites, the interface of a Virtual Tour really does give it the immersive experience, allowing everyone to really have a feel for the spaces and places around them. It also reflects the concepts and themes we have discussed in this studio in this studio very well. Though it takes a lot more work than simply presenting using digital portfolios, the outcome, in my opinion, is a lot more arresting, fluid in its motion and you are swept away in it.

And let’s not forget the teamwork that goes along with it too.

Experimental Short: The Caretaker


What happens when all that is left is the quietness? No pounding of gavels or black robes and unwashed wigs harassing the hallways? Of murderers on trial, of justice-seekers and curious peepers? No one really knows, but the old man who cleans, cleans, cleans.

Length: 3 mins 37 seconds

In the eyes of the Caretaker, the great Magistrates’ Court is nothing but a place wherein he succumbs to his loneliness.

The project is my first foray in the Experimental Film genre. The piece is a poetic, abstract reverie of what the place is to the invisible character of the Caretaker. I wanted to give meaning to the space and the place occupied by the building itself (the walls, halls, doorways, rooms) and how the Caretaker gives meaning to the place that has become mundane to him for he is always never seen; in the silences, when the doors are locked and no other soul is about.

The short film is to be incongruous, hence, it being experimental in its genre. There is no narrative to follow, but the clips, both found-footage and recorded, are deliberately placed to allow the viewers to freely interpret what is being told.

Produced, edited and directed by me.
Thank you to the Ghosts of RMIT team on the day of the shoot for helping with camera problems (there were heaps).

The making of this short film definitely came with its problems. My first dilemma was where exactly to place the captured clips and videos in a sequence that will encapsulate the concept I have of putting meanings to the spaces through the eyes of the Caretaker. This was my biggest challenge in the production of this film. I went about in finding a resolution to this by going through some of my video inspirations with an addition of Ballet Mecaniqué by Fernand Leger, who gave me the idea of repetition as a motif to represent the distress the Caretaker is experiencing in his bouts of imagination due to his lonely job.

The production began quite smoothly. I followed the work timeline I prescribed to myself stringently albeit with the surfacing of aforementioned dilemma of the delivery process. Nevertheless, the filming went really smoothly. On the day, I took as many shots as possible of the interior of the Magistrates’ Court but what I found that inevitably helped in my final storyboarding and editing process was the visit to what is known as “The Plant Room.” It was an old, decrepit storage room located in the far recesses of the main court behind two supposedly locked doors and an eerie gaol cell to fit the bill. It was an atrocious sight and Jackie and I would not have dared to enter the room if not for Rachel (thank you, kindly) and a fellow student, Linh, who ventured on, turning the lights along the way.

The room was forlorn, dusty and a treasure trove for all things old-fashioned. But what got me the most was the single chair that sat in view of the open door. It was curious, it was lonely, and I knew then and there that the Caretaker, his character, his soul, whoever he may have been in the past, was an incredibly lonely character.

This epiphany drove me to evaluate my draft storyboard, which then also allowed me to appropriate the concepts I learned in class to the differences between space and place with place as a space that has meaning. In my video, I applied the techniques of opacity and scaling to the very extent of my skill in such. I’m thankful to our guest lecturer, Jeremy Bowtell for the basic tutorial for Adobe Premiere Pro, but mostly, I thank this class for allowing me to test my skills, add on to, and really push myself to my editing limits (and that is an incredibly short limit, f.y.i.).

The final outcome, eventually, after much harassment from a very neutral-looking editing suite, turned out as hoped and planned and even more. The chosen music, ghostly and haunted with the appropriate title of “At the end, everyone dies” by the ingenious Kai Engel (I bow to you for the royalty-free) was inspired by Abigail Belfrage who made certain that I think about what fits well with the overall thematic I had. The colours are minute black-and-white, easier to manipulate to encompass the ghostly, almost macabre message I had in mind with the Caretaker’s loneliness. It also worked really well with the found-footages.

An abundance of improvements include mastering Adobe Premiere Pro as the go-to editing suite. Finding out how plug-ins works, particularly subtitles, is a must too. I was to include subtitles in this piece as opposed to narration (in the final film, I utilised titles as subtitles), but Premiere’s built-in closed captioning were stiff and incredibly frustrating to handle. I decidedly gave up, but I plan on experimenting with that medium in the near future. I uses titles and “subtitles”, albeit vague, to give the piece texture as well. And the only colour is during the “poisons” scene…appropriately. And before I forget, incorporating images would be quite helpful too.

The class has taught me to appreciate spaces and places in a whole different way. Through The Caretaker, I was able to give meaning to places as opposed to simply admiring its architecture and the echoes of its past. I was able to wander through the halls and assess the cracks and fissures, the importance of the little nooks and crannies and what they are used for and most importantly, the people who give meaning to the space, particularly, the caretaker in the Old Magistrates’ Court in this case.


A thank you to Ms. Belfrage

This is a shout-out post to Ms. Abigail Belfrage, professional historian, archival master, and a co-appreciator of all things antiquated (0f which I am a complete nutter of). Her expertise in the use of the Public Records Office’s archival and documentation system has not only helped my in my research for my final project, but she has also encouraged me to pursue that which I love the most: history.

Public Records Office of Victoria – Search

Many things I’ve learned from her in regards to my research:

  1. Use of Advanced Search > Agency > Exact Phrase (use of “*”) > Groups (e.g. courts)
  2. Use of Advanced Search > Employee > Series > Sort: Date Range
  3. Use of different terms (synonyms) when doing searches (i.e. caretaker = janitor, warden, concierge, attendant, porter, watchman, custodian, keeper, steward, curator)
  4. Use of “Wills” and  “Probate” (define: to confirm when you die and your will is all organised) – these records may show occupations such as caretaker, documents and digitised photographs and fonts I could use for my final piece.
  5. Confusions with dates – continuity and being aware of changes in digital age and time-frame

She has an abundance of wealth in this area. Check her out at The History Department.

Professor Paul Gough talks temporary memorials, statues and fear of being forgotten

prof_paulOne look at the professor, entering an intimate class of 12 (and sometimes less) and you know that he’s got a bag-full of knowledge to share. And sharing he so articulately does.

Professor Paul Gough is the Pro Vice-Chancellor and Vice President of RMIT’s School of Design and Social Context. He’s a big boss with the intimate knowledge of all things space and place…and what a privilege it was to hear from him.

Firstly, Paul asks us this question:

“How does something become a memorial?” and connected to it, “Why do we even produce memorials?” Societies tend to remember those that are gone. And looking at the U.K. and even Europe in general, the continent is a patchwork quilt of places that celebrate remembrance of history, the absent dead that once traversed its fertile soil.

We’ve all been tourists once. And I’m glad Rachel, our tutor, asked us of particular monuments and statues we’ve come across in our journey of exploration and admiration of the memorial art. Japan, Croatia, Vietnam, Berlin, Philippines, Paris, Rome, to name a few in our class of 12 (and sometimes less). But how rich is our collective experiences, already! Paul states these five reasons as to why statues and monuments are integral to society since the Ancients till now:

  1. Focal point of grief
  2. Index of memory
  3. Names of remembrance
  4. Planned icon within furniture of the city
  5. Ritual – annual celebration, reverential

And then there’s the 3 stages in the Lifecycle of a Monument: the public memory (what people focus on, celebrate, commemorate and grieve), the institutionalised (i.e. 9/11) and ownership.

I’ve been challenged to think of memorials, monuments and statues in this certain way that Paul has elaborated on. I’ve almost always seen them simply as a physical definition of memory. A remembrance of something, and so I give my reverence and honour due. Never have I asked the question of why exactly is it remembered. The ANZAC memorial service, the one minute silence that permeated in the bowling alley I found myself that Saturday morning. Why do we remember our dead? Why is it “lest we forget?” Similar to the Hiroshima bombings, why do we preserve it? Is it for tourism, heritage? For people to come upon it and caress the bloodshed with our reverential eyes?

Paul had an answer to it all.

It’s because there is that fear of being forgotten.

And to our human condition, it is absolutely, unconditionally traumatic.

Brief 2 – RMIT Safezone App

To “augment a place” is to add on to something that has already been there before. To make something greater. My task for this brief was focused on RMIT’s Safezone App, a free application for RMIT students and staff that directly connects an individual to the Security team “when [they] need help on campus.”
My research surrounds the use of this particular GIS (geographic information system/s) to provide “links between crime and place” for more effective “discipline and survey” that, in turn, amplifies the overall theme of the research: the “fusion of mapping software with social media software” which provides not only information about a certain place, but also the linking of data between people, places and things.

Here are some notes I had prior to the reporting: 

  • What am I researching?
    • RMIT SafeZone App and how it adds to the place of RMIT.
    • free app for all RMIT students and staff, that connects you directly to the Security team when you need help on campus.
    • makes it easier for you to contact Security and helps them to respond if you need assistance, by sending your name and location directly to the response team members.
    • SafeZone app (available on Apple, Android and Windows devices) and registering as a user, you will also receive any critical notifications from the University
    • RMIT’s Security team monitors SafeZone 24 hours a day

The brief required me to interview a professional.
I managed to contact Louise Phelan
the coordinator of crime prevention and investigation from RMIT’s security team. Below are some of the questions I asked her:

  • Interview Questions:
    • To “augment a place” is to add on to something that has already been there before. To make something greater. As a security team/security app, it is your job to somehow make the place look and feel “smaller” to provide faster and more efficient aid to those who need it. How has the Safezone app helped in making the place feel “smaller” and thus, provide greater and faster aid? Were there any specific features of the app that is of great value in making this happen?
    • What were the reasons behind the development of the Safezone App?
    • What particular processes went into making the Safezone App? What particular technical knowledge was needed for this app as a location-based service?
    • How does the Safezone App help the security team with connecting to different staffs and students? Have there been particular issues that were avoided because of this app?
    • Have you received any feedback concerning the app and its usage? How has it helped the staff and students to a degree as they manoeuvred around a vast a campus as RMIT, specifically the city campus?

What I found fascinating in this research is how location-based services in the form of “Apps” have helped in defining the notion of place and space through the use of powerful wireless systems that sends out information on geographical positioning. Prior to this research, I had only thought of location-based services as somewhat of a nuance in my access of social media, especially since I am not a fan of sending out my location information to the general public.

In saying that though, this year, I’ve been required to navigate my way through the busy CBD streets for assessments and volunteer works of which I desperately needed to use these location-bases services, particularly GPS and mapping systems. Though I have not used the RMIT Safezone app (thank goodness), it is an assurance in itself that there is this application available for students and teachers in the community of RMIT incase there is a need for it.

I have concluded not to be so biased against GPS services just because I would not like to be tracked and be held against my own will because there is proof!

But thanks, RMIT!

p.s. I am where I say I am and not where I say I am not.

Found-footage Manipulation – dilemmas, dilemmas

Over the weekend, I’ve inundated myself with various Experimental Films, the found-footage kind. A Movie by Bruce Conner, aptly named, is a juxtaposed, almost-antithetical use of found footage to demonstrate the destructive nature of man by drawing on two different time periods: the modern-day present and the western-world past.

The film is a conglomeration of all things abstract and at times, ironically comedic, but what I mainly took note of was the sequence of scenes edited together. I previously mentioned in my Caretaker Project that I plan on creating a film that relies less on narrative sequence than spatial representation. What I want to present in my film is the nuances of the place, how the place itself gives the Caretaker his identity as the custodian of the great institution.

As such, I’ve come down to a bit of a conundrum: I do not know exactly how I go about in structuring my scene-by-scenes. I have collected some footage (still more to go) that I believe, represents my purpose and thematic element, but now, I am not quite sure how I could go about in storyboarding this without the narrative thread behind it to reign it in together.

Some questions to ponder:

  • Would a narrative thread help in alleviating the problem of storyboarding? And if so, how could I make it as implied as possible and as ambiguous as possible?
  • Would narration work instead of a narrative thread? And what would it do to the overall thematic of my film?

Hmm, lots to think about before the main shoot this coming weekend!

Experimental Film: Pitch Suggestions

Some post-pitch notes/suggestions thanks to the awesome panel we had last week!

  • Audio (samples): footsteps, keys jangling, creaky footsteps, light shining thorough the door, evoking presence
    Movie to see for inspiration: Gallipoli by Tolga Ornek. A documentary wherein it never shows any battle at all; just the sounds i.e. flatter of dust and some slight movement of the camera
  • Music: 
    • how literal do I want to portray the caretaker will inspire my music choice
    • getting into their character a bit more into what you want
    • subjectivity contrasted with sounds
    • what’s their little space like
    • making some of their work more interesting (images: eg. cleaning tools, where he resides in the courthouse)
  • The Caretaker (as a character) – keeping him invisible, but at the same time, making his presence known throughout the six Acts
    • Another term for caretaker: Custodian – something to think about as an alternative way of calling him/her
    • I’m probably decided on doing a “him” for this one but shall look into it more in my research
    • What does he do as a go-to type of person – research property services or current cleaning services managers of the Old Magistrates Court and of RMIT
  • Finding some employee records: town clerks correspondents at Public Records Office
  • Images/Shot:
    • Payslip – how much they get paid per day is evocative and tells more about how they work and how their home lives are like
      • Are they supporting a family? Where do they live? In a cottage, a small house, etc. What are their motivations?

Going through all my notes and the suggestions above over the weekend, I came up with things to do for this week:

  1. Acts – 6 Acts may be too ambitious so I’m going to have to reduce it. I’m thinking of dividing it up into three Acts instead of six:
    Act I: I am
    – the introduction of the Caretaker as the main character
    Act II:  Gavel
    – life in the court
    Act III: Ghosts
    – hauntings of the presence; what does the place mean, what does it make him feel?
  2. Research – Employee Records
    Abigail Belfrage, a historian who works at the Public Records Office suggested to look into some employee records to see those who have worked at the Old Magistrates’ Court as a historian at its time. She’ll be coming down this Friday so I’ll talk to her about that.
  3. Style – Music
    The general atmospheric theme I want to portray in this piece is sobering, haunting, nostalgic and reverential. I’ll be looking for music that really encapsulates that spirit.

I think that’s all for now. Off we go then, for some found-footage scavenging!

Experimental Film – The Caretaker


What happens when all that is left is the quietness? No pounding of gavels or black robes and unwashed wigs harassing the hallways? Of murderers on trial, of justice-seekers and curious peepers? No one really knows, but the old man who cleans, cleans, cleans.

The Caretaker
Format: Experimental Short Film – documentary, found-footage film, use of archived videos, recorded shots of Building 20 itself, use of sounds
Length: 5-6mins (approximately)

This short film follows six acts or segments of the life of the caretaker, a poetic reverie of the court as a place and of him as an occupant of the place.

I chose this idea for two reasons:
1. Character – the Caretaker
Why I chose this idea is galvanised by the photograph I took of the the signage just outside of the establishment: CARETAKER PRESS TO RING.
It immediately gave me the perception that someone else, apart from your usual magistrates and judges, jury, clerks and court-persons, was also present in the area albeit mostly overlooked and unknown. The caretaker is an unknown character, but he is vital for the running of this great bastion of law. I felt that his life, who he is and what he does needs to be known and explored more.

2. The Court – as a place
First time visiting the Court, I marvelled at its architectural grandeur, and on my second visit, the holy reverence the place has towards what it was before: A Magistrates’ Court. I’ve been to the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court in Williams Street, having done some work experience there beforehand and though it is a lot more architecturally-progressive and forward-looking, I could imagine the same hustle and bustle of activity happening in the Old Magistrates’ Court as well. This time, however, these sounds are now reduced to honourable silences, simple echoes of the past, punctuated mostly by natural, diegetic sounds.

The caretaker as a physical character of the court, and my own impression of what it feels like to be in that building is what made me chose to do this idea. Visually, I believe that finding appropriate stimuli to what I am trying to convey both using found-footage and own recordings, scavenged and edited, alongside the sounds of the place, will be both a challenge for me as a future filmmaker but also an opportunity to explore the nuances of what this great building used to stand for.

The main concept of which my idea is inspired by is found in Shelley Hornstein’s “Losing Site: Architecture, Memory and Place.”
Quoting her, “Architecture exists as a physical entity and therefore registers as a place that we come to remember…and [architecture] can exist to be found beyond the physical site itself in our recollection of it.”
She states that the physical object itself, in a spatial framework is the “vehicle” that connects us to our memories of that place.

I work around this concept in two ways:
1. The architecture can exist or be found beyond the physical site itself in our recollection of it.
This is where the idea of scavenging found-footage works well. I’ve been to the physical site of Building 20. I’ve seen the architecture and framework, smelled the musty, carpeted air and heard the sounds associated to the building (muffled voices and violent footsteps on such an austere, quiet dominion). Therefore, the challenge now is finding works of the past, these found-footage that is associated with both the memory of the place, the physicality of the place itself, and the reverence to what the place stands for then, as the Old Magistrates Court, and of now.

2. We being capable of “orchestrating in tandem at least two parallel images of places.”
The character of the Caretaker comes into play here. I’ve read novels, watched movies and television shows and seen photographs wherein the setting of the Court is magnified and used. This is where the character of the Caretaker, what I imagined him to be based on what I’ve read plus my own experience traversing the corridors of the building, is being explored. What does he feel walking along those quiet hallways when everyone has left? What are his thoughts with the squeaking of the door hinges and the loud rapping of his feet on the floors?

This approach is explained by the following examples:

There are two main video references:
1. Alter Bahnhof Video Walk – Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller
Check it out here:
The participants watch things unfold on the small screen but feel the presence of those events deeply because of being situated in the exact location where the footage was shot. As they follow the moving images (and try to frame them as if they were the camera operator) a strange confusion of realities occurs. In this confusion, the past and present conflate and Cardiff and Miller guide us through a meditation on memory and reveal the poignant moments of being alive and present.

I was inspired by Cardiff and Miller’s exploration of both the past and the present in the video walk. This is one of the reasons why I chose to this particular medium as an inspiration. There’s a strange confusion of realities, and I plan to highlight this with using found-footage and real footage of the court itself.

2. The Illustrated Auschwitz
Check it out here:
“A small, cheap personal film, shot on super 8 . . . it is a documentary that completely avoids talking heads and the usual parade of facts and figures . . . the film poses the question, it is already implicitly there in the title, of how to illustrate such experience, of how to represent the unrepresentable.

Similarly, this documentary talks about the experience of a woman who survived the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp as a child. The film documents her story while providing a collage of images, most not directly linked to the story.
I will use footage to both directly link and not link it to the story I’m telling in, providing the abstract of emotion in the court.

One main sound reference:
3. Nocturne – 360documentaries
Check it out here:
Mainly the beginning sounds, diegetic, introducing the setting. I’m going to be utilising the same entry in my piece before the visuals begin.

4. Other sounds and reels.

1. Video – 
I went to Building 20 with my trusty Everio HD Camcorder to film myself walking through the buildings and room in Building 20. I specifically chose to use this camera just so I can see what a “grainy” footage would look like.
For the final recording, I will be using the JVC Pro HD camera.
For editing, I will be using Adobe Premier Pro and thanks to George, special effects.

2. Footage –, sounds, photographs, etc.
I’ve started compiling some footage that I will be using in this folder.

3. Six Acts:
I’ve also come up with the six acts or segments that my video is divided up in which helps in categorising and organising production:  

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 11.38.24 pm

Each Act explores a different aspect of the Place. i.e. Act I – I am introduces the character of the Caretaker, Act II- Gavel is about the utilising of the court and so forth.

Act Length:
30-40 seconds each, max 1 minute


Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 11.40.59 pm

Filming – may need to use tracking equipment for the tracking shots; people to help out on the day of the shoot

Adobe Premier Pro – general editing queries

Check out my Ghosts and Spaces page here for past and up-and-coming blog posts and constant updates about the film!

Film Shots: Modernity ruins

Update: I am now filming a documentary-style short film with the “Caretaker” as the main voice/narrator. Featuring his daily life in the Old Magistrates Court, what does his job entail? What is the place to him? And what is he to the place? How does one represent the unrepresentable “emotion”?

It was a cold, Autumn afternoon when the sun peeked here and there and I had my sleeves rolled a quarter of the way up. I was warm enough, sure, but it was definitely a lot warmer entering the Old Magistrates’ Court with nothing but a bag that makes a tremendous noise whenever I take a step, and a homemade camera – for the authenticity, of course – to capture some moving images with the flair of an old man caretaker.

What I need to avoid when filming 1800-esque style:

  • Humming generators. In a carpeted, semi-insulated place, it makes a violent modern disruption.
  • Plaque signs: Toilets, Exit signs, wayfinding, room numbers
  • People…in suits, mobile phones, clicking heels, security on patrol (sweat drop here), business talks
  • Furniture: three to four brightly-coloured chairs, politics and business magazines
  • Fluorescent lights
  • Car noises; lots of beeping and revving, and in the midst of such quietness, the obnoxious sounds of a green walking light

I figured though, that I would drown out the sounds with the narration and perhaps some music too. But those physical visuals are a real pain. A real, real pain. I tried to film more carefully the second time around, but the modernity still surprises you after a turn. The kitchen is dastardly commercial. I framed the only old-ish cupboard on site and that makes for only 0.5 of a second.

Hm. More revision, for sure.

Sounds: Have a guess!

Below are some of the recordings I did of Building 20 a.k.a Old Melbourne Goal. Have a guess of some of the sounds you can hear.

Sound I.

Sound II.

Sound III. (start at 00:00:21 as I was fidgety in the beginning)

Next post will explain my own thoughts in regards to these!