Archive of ‘Additional reflections’ category

Contribution to the studio presentation

A couple of weeks ago, we as a class divided ourselves into different groups, to help out in the various areas that would eventually lead up to our final studio presentation. I chose to help out in the Website team.

After receiving the list of things that had to be done from our team leader, Olivia, I set out to complete them. We had to upload our video; provide cast and crew information; write out the synopsis; etc. After speaking with my groupmates about getting those things done, I also edited the trailer, got approval from my groupmates, and sent it over to Brendan on Friday, the 3rd of June.

I emailed the Website team later in the week, asking if there was anything that had to be done for the Website itself, but it seems that it was pretty much settled and the only thing Olivia needed from us was to push our individual groups to submit the content as soon as possible, so that the Website could be up and running.

Above is the trailer I edited for Let Us Play.

Letting art go

As I re-watched the interview with Marcus Cook and once again listened to his experiences with Testing Grounds, I began to become more interested in what he was doing and his passion behind it. One thing he said that particularly stood out to me was this: “If you’re building things you want other people to use, it’s one of the things you have to sacrifice very quickly – or, it gets taken away from you”.

As somebody who enjoys art, I took this to heart. I enjoy illustrating and designing, and one of the things I have always struggled with was “letting it go”. I never really fancied the thought of designing for others, simply because it always involved different visions and expectations. I enjoyed doing art for myself.

I have spent the past few years attempting to change or modify this mindset, and it seems that Marcus Cook is one of the artists I’ve met that has spoken into my thoughts, and reminded me that the beauty of art is being able to share it with those around me. His words helped me remember that I have to learn to let go of certain things in order to watch your passion and knowledge grow, just like how he took back with him so many observations and discoveries that allowed him to better himself as an artist and individual.

In the same way, I hope to be able to learn from that and learn to sacrifice these things as well.

Portfolio essay

We sat in silence, with nothing but muddled thoughts and the four walls that have kept us entertained – or rather, drained – in the past three hours. We had been sitting in that room for far too long, tired and uninspired. It felt like we were going nowhere; that all our ideas had been concocted in vain and for reasons unknown.

Today, I look back and realise just how far we’ve come.

I walked into this studio thinking that we would simply be making YouTube videos (or stuff like that) but ah, how I was greatly mistaken. In fact, as expressed in this blog post, I look back and know that this studio had begun to make me think about online video more broadly than just what can be found on YouTube. It was something I thought about even as I worked on a completely different course.

Since we were told to come up with additional reflections every week (which I have compiled into a category here) I came to be more aware of what I experienced, not just in my “e-surroundings”, but in my daily interactions as well. I found it easier to pick up or remember certain things, be it from what my classmates presented, or what I encountered in the media sphere, or when I was simply spending time with friends. I also blogged about what I read or the things we watched in class.

I did not do much blogging at the beginning of the semester – that, I would have to admit. However, as I scrolled through my blog, I noticed how much more active I had become over the past few weeks. I treat that realisation as a learning curve in itself, that the more I get myself into something, the more excited I get about it, and the more motivated I am to share my experiences with those around me. I found this most apparent in my posts about our prototype progress. Being aware of this progressive change helped me to strive towards being a media practitioner with initiative, motivation and enthusiasm.

It was through blogging that I was able to construct my thoughts a little better. I could see things from different perspectives, and even thought of different ways that I might help my readers better understand what I wanted to say. Like in my first assessment, I came up with a mind map as I was thinking of points for my case study. The more we progressed into the weeks, the more I realised how writing things down or drawing on paper not only gave me a foundation which I could work from, but at a glance also simplifies things for other readers.

I remember presenting my findings from Project One to the studio, and watched as my fellow classmates did the same with the types of online video practices that they found appealing to them. It was from them, that I began to see the potential of online video, and how much I had been missing out on. I knew of the existence of documentaries, computer game excerpts, comedy shorts, and interactive videos – the Web 2.0 was teeming with them. I enjoyed them, yes, but never did I take the time to break them all down, or to look at them from different perspectives. To be in an environment where there are different types of students, and seeing how each of them resonate with ideas on online video, is something I am grateful for.

I remember being a little unsure about Project Two, not knowing what was expected out of our work. For a moment I even regretted that we chose video reviews to explore for the rest of the semester (though that brief thought was soon eradicated). Not only were we having difficulties coming up with ideas for our sketches, but we even saw three hours of work go down the drain.

There was a day in the studio, when Seth talked about how we should create as many sketches as we can, and how each one of them is meant to be something that is quick and disposable. Upon hearing that, I realised just how focused Jia Jia and I were on perfecting it, that we had thought of ideas too far-fetched, and that we had to pull ourselves back on track. It was only then that we started to come up with ideas for more instantly, and we became less afraid of creating something that was wrong, because it is in the mistakes and criticism that we learn.

These aided our presentations as well, in the sense that we were beginning to construct them better, from start to finish, getting points across in a quick yet effective manner. In our presentation for Project Three, before proposing it to the panel, we shared our ideas first with our classmates. It was then that Seth suggested we talk about how we progressed from tech-reviews to these café travel reviews. I appreciate comments like that, because it is a reminder to pay more attention to detail; to structure proposals in ways that are easily understood not just by the people who have journeyed with us, but by those who have yet to know about it.

As I was looking through what I had blogged about over the past twelve weeks in the studio, primarily for the purpose of this portfolio task, I came to notice how some of my older reflections have feedbacked into recent sketches and iterations. For instance, as I realised the importance of background music from one of my classmate’s presentations, we also came up with our first sketch leading to our prototype guided by that realisation. And as I reflected on the importance of GIFs in this post, we in turn discovered Cinemagraph and ended up using that for our final prototype.

People tend to think that it’s all about the big things – the bigger, the better. Well, perhaps to a certain extent. But in this context, it is far from true. We began the semester with the work of another in our hands, and today, we have made for ourselves something we can take ownership of and are proud to call ours. One of the best things about learning something new is having the ability not only to practice it, but to receive something out of it. It’s not about the big things – it’s about the little steps taken towards it; the journey.

Project Three: Draft of our probe
Three things of interest
Reflection: ‘Generation Like’

*Note: To ease reading, I have compiled my entire studio experience within five different categories. You may view these categories at the top of this page.

Rediscovering Cinemagraph

I remember when I first discovered Cinemagraph – it was about a year back, and I was playing around it with my brother. I had gotten a new skateboard, so we were making random Cinemagraphs out of the movement of its wheels, and just having a whole lot of fun together.

I was quite intrigued with how it worked and how the developers made it so easy for people to create GIFs like this. Seeing as how we found videos rather distracting, Jia Jia and I decided that we might settle for using Cinemagraphs, which was neither entirely video, nor entirely photograph. We felt that it might be an interesting concept – it wouldn’t be as dizzying as a video, and it wouldn’t be as dull or stagnant as a still image.

We plan to film some footage at Stovetop tomorrow with Cinemagraph in mind.

Autoplay videos

I was at a friend’s place today, looking as he scrolled through Facebook. As he was doing so, he told me about how he hated the way Facebook’s videos would kick off in the background, even if you don’t intend for them to play. He disliked the way it did that due to its tendency to eat up his data allowance.

This got me thinking, especially since I am in the ‘Online Video Experiments’ studio. Could it be that Facebook is trying to promote their video capabilities? I find it quite smart, really, but also a bit of a nuisance, as can be seen from how my friend isn’t a fan of it.

But with that, I have managed to discover many more videos as compared to previously, when I would have to click on a video just to watch it. It reduces the effort, all the while giving Facebook users a short preview of the video. It’s definitely more effective, because usually people would voluntarily play a video only if the thumbnail looked attractive or if it had an interesting title. Or at least, that’s how it goes with me.

What a way to push the boundaries of online video in the social media sphere. It’s effective in its own way, not so much in the content of the video, but in the way it puts itself out there, straight into the user’s hands without having them to ask for it.

Video teasers

I was with a friend today when he asked if I had watched Hillsong’s teaser for their upcoming conference in Sydney. He told me that it was really good, so I decided to have a look at it when I got home.

It was a rather attractive promo video, with stunning visuals, montage-like editing and a theme that followed the title, “Speak, We’re Listening”. According to a write-up by Hillsong Film on the making of the video, they briefly wrote about the idea behind it, and why they chose certain visuals and specific voices.

The idea was to contrast the reality of the noisy/chaotic world we live in with the silent sanctuary of the presence of God that we actually do live in … We start the journey with a calm landscape – slowly but surely building in intensity – building toward a crescendo, building towards a climax. These nature-scapes were also inter-spliced with modern/graphical imagery to give the sense of modern distractions/noise … We also used a voice to lead us through the narrative aspects of the film promo. We wanted to use the voice of a younger man, slightly weathered – large beard and an overcoat.

It was an interesting read, for the fact that I was able to know a little more about how it was made, and some of the ideas that guided the entire video. I watched it a second time after reading the write-up, and felt even more drawn towards it than I was before. Not only did it play its part as a promo video, but it was also a film well made.

Putting this into practice, it is really important to come up with ideas that will lead your video through, to an end product that portrays the message you want to deliver. That is what we have been doing in the studio, and by presenting our ideas to our classmates, we get to share our experiences and give one another different insights.

Regular reviews?

As Arif and Elaine were talking about how they wanted to do car reviews in class, I was reminded of a channel I’ve been following for the past two years or so.

It’s funny, because Regular Car Reviews isn’t actually just regular car reviews. This YouTube channel that tests out and reviews cars – mostly older cars – with dry humour and a whole lot of fun. It’s engaging, how they take something so serious and supposedly masculine, and make a car review that is funny and makes great entertainment. I don’t know much about cars, but watching Regular Car Reviews is always a good way to take my mind off things because of how funny it is.

There isn’t a narrative structure to their videos, but the way each car is reviewed can be quite consistent. They often give an overview of the physical attributes of the car, followed by its internal specifications and a test drive. I believe that the most attractive part about their channel is their use of humour – that is what makes it all so entertaining to watch. I mean, I’m not somebody who likes cars all that much, but their humour is what keeps me interested.

This led me to thinking about my other classmates’ project, and how they have been focusing on comedy reviews. It makes such a good angle, reviewing things with a sense of humour. You can take something that is usually so serious or boring, and give it a twist.

I think that is what makes a good online video – one that is worth watching and talking about. In order to have that sort of impact, people have to put a lot of thought in both the content and overall structure, to make a video that has a lasting impression on those who watch it. It should be both doable and memorable. It should go against conventional methods and have something that is unique and stands out amongst what it already out there.

By reflecting on this, I have a better idea as to what I want to achieve in the weeks to come. I quite like how progress is with what Jia Jia and I have been working on, and with all that has been done and will be done, I hope that we would be able to impact viewers with what we have to present, in a way that is both different and memorable.

Never-ending loop

As I was writing an essay for my ‘Music in Popular Culture’ subject, I stumbled upon an online video that I found quite interesting. William Pharrell released a music video some time last year for one of his hits, Happy, and it received much response from his fans and the media due to how unique of a video it was.

It was a “never-ending” music video, which played on and on and wouldn’t stop till you closed the window. It held the title as the world’s first 24-hour music video, and it’s great because you can actually control the time of the day. Initially I wondered why he did that – does he want to deliver a message of some sort or is it simply for publicity purposes? Maybe both, but either way, the video managed to leave a mark as the first music video of its kind. Which, is pretty cool.

Quite a lot goes on in the video, and it is mostly people dancing and lip-syncing to his song. It isn’t too interesting in its narrative structure but what stands out is the fact that it is a video much unlike the others on YouTube. In fact, this one has a webpage all to itself.

Before I began classes in this studio, I used to think of online video as simply one that lived on YouTube. Need a tutorial on how to use Adobe Illustrator? YouTube’s got you. Want to keep up with your favourite artists? YouTube’s got you. Looking for something to keep you entertained while waiting for your girlfriend to get ready? YouTube’s got you.

On the contrary, YouTube may be one of the most popular platforms for online video, but there is more to that than what is on YouTube. You’ve got webpages like the one for Pharrell’s music video, you’ve got Vimeo and DailyMotion, you’ve even got social media services like Instagram and Twitter. The possibilities are never-ending.

Twitter GIFs

Quite recently, Twitter introduced GIFs to their platform, and a lot of users are ecstatic about the upgrade. Being a heavy social media user myself, this reminded me of when Tumblr, a blogging website, began to incorporate GIFs (this was quite a number of years ago).

And so, I was led to think about how so much emphasis and attention is placed on these small moving images. Why is that so? Could it be that it is easier to express oneself through GIFs? Maybe – seeing as how Twitter and Tumblr are both platforms to pour out one’s personal thoughts and ideas about a certain subject.

Or could it be that it is more engaging? Perhaps stagnant photographs are not sufficient. But I guess that is true to a certain extent – people are so used to moving visuals; life is constantly in motion. Wouldn’t it be disturbing to see the world outside, unmoving, as in photographs?

GIFs are important, serving as these micro-videos that don’t require much of your attention span. They are often very short, serving its purpose to propagate a quick message with ease. That kind of reminds me of online videos in general, that they should not necessarily be short, but at least hold a viewer’s attention long enough so the message is delivered.

Reflection: ‘Generation Like’

I watched the documentary ‘Generation Like’ today, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was very relatable, and I managed to learn (and realise) quite a number of things from it.

The documentary basically talked about the current generation, and how so many children are obsessed with Internet fame and popularity – be it from getting likes on their Facebook and Instagram photos, or gaining followers and retweets on Twitter, or getting their posts reblogged on Tumblr… the list goes on.

Also, what are companies doing with the technology at hand? How do they engage with their users each time somebody puts a ‘Like’ on their Facebook page? What do websites like Tumblr and apps like Instagram demand for? It’s powerful, really, when a user ‘Likes’ something. It means that you agree with something. It means that you associate with that content. It means that something in particular speaks to you.

According to the documentary, MTV used to be the one exploiting kids’ desires to be cool. They chased kids down and sold it all back to them. Today, however, children are putting themselves out there in hopes to be recognised in the social media sphere. They want to be a part of a brand, or the Internet scene, more than what companies allow them to be. Children empower themselves with tools embedded with self-constructed values.

It’s pretty insane, don’t you think?

This documentary was an eye-opener to the industry, the what’s and how’s, and also the many ways in which brands and companies have been able to connect with their audience. It also showcased prominent people like Tyler Oakley, who is somebody incredibly obsessed with pop culture. It was amazing to see how he started off on YouTube just vlogging about things he liked, and how he slowly rose to fame and is now even giving advice to companies hoping to flourish in the social media sphere.

Brands and companies are always thinking of new ways in which they might reach out to potential customers, and with technology constantly on the rise, I am positive that fans and users will willingly participate, as long as there is some sort of return investment. Think being able to get a reply on Facebook from your favourite celebrity. Or being crowned one of the ‘Top 100 fans of The Hunger Games’. Or instantly gaining more followers the moment Justin Bieber retweets you.

I believe that this is only the beginning of ‘Generation Like’. There is so much more ahead of us, and oh, what a time to be alive.

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