For the Glory of Satan of Course: Animation Reflection

The animation:

Ferwa’s reflection:
For our final project, Sarabi and I worked together and created our self-drawn, somewhat morbid animation, “For the Glory of Satan of Course”, featuring guyblob, girlblob, and a rather pitiful elephant. We started off by drawing all of our components using a tablet and Photoshop, and eventually began to put them together in After Effects, which I found to be a little iffy in terms of organization of files and layers. The critique we received in class was based on the 5 seconds of animation we had gotten together for the first scene – in which girlblob falls down from the sky after school to share guyblob’s umbrella and fall in love – as putting everything together only commenced after we had sufficient components drawn, which took a while, and we had to redraw some parts because of some colour-filling issues due to my sketchy drawing. The suggestions we were given included manipulating the background a little more, perhaps making the clouds move, to give the whole scene a little more motion, due to the fact that the blobs’ features do not allow for repositioning; e.g. they don’t walk or run, they glide. Animating all the scenes was a slow process, but we got it together eventually by the final presentation class, minus the scene in which the blobs burn and sacrifice the elephant to Satan and receive money. We also removed the rainbow rain that we were to include in the animation, as it took a very long time to animate so many drops. The gasps and amusement from the class, in particular, upon witnessing the swift murder of the elephant was particularly pleasing to me, as I had the elephant die abruptly and it was satisfying to see that it invoked some reaction. We included the burning scene afterward, as well as select music to accompany and finish the whole thing off. If I were to go back and make an adjustment, I would edit the swoop of the elephant’s tusk when the girlblob turns it around, by changing the anchor point and having it rotate on the spot. It was a great learning experience to be able to create an animation, and I look forward to making some personal projects in the future.

Sarabi’s reflection:
I’m not sure how much I can say without being redundant, but here goes.

When the animation project was first introduced to the class, three ideas immediately came to mind. I ultimately decided against those ideas because another student and I planned to execute them, and I wanted to work on them outside the realm of the class. Later, when we watched “Sita Sings the Blues,” I had the desire to have “falling things” because they’re aesthetically pleasing. After a bit of discussion, Ferwa and I decided to use her characters and create a creepy-cute story. The “falling things” were supposed to be rainbow rain, but that turned out to be difficult to animate. We may revisit in the future, when there’s more time.

Important notes – AfterEffects doesn’t like to import folders, at least not in my experience. The folders will import but it creates an unnecessary level of difficulty in organization and animation. To start the animation I had to take Ferwa’s character layers out of their folders and redraw/fill some of the pieces because they were transparent. It took quite a bit of time (mostly because I didn’t know what the problem was right away) but it only needed to be done once. I also learned that the background layer MUST be unlocked. It’s actually better to either delete it or turn the visibility off so you get an accurate picture of how the asset will look in AfterEffects.

This project was super helpful in acquainting me to AfterEffects, which I’ll apparently be forced to use in the future. In between now and then I’ll create the three aforementioned projects (time allowing) and implement the skills I learned over the last month.

Sita Sings the Blues Response

Watching Sita Sings the Blues was certainly an interesting experience for me, having recognized many of the references and names from my experiences with awe-inspiring Indian dramas that frequently made me want to pull my hair out because of all the ridiculousness and illogicality.

What I didn’t expect was the mix of animation styles used in the film; it was definitely a curious touch, adding to the different story-telling methods portrayed. One of my favourite aspects of Sita Sings the Blues was not only the style in which the narrators were drawn/animated, but their discussion itself – it felt much more real than other scripts might, due to the errors they made as they talked; it was just like a real discussion – and their reactions to the story amused me greatly. In reality, we don’t know exactly what we’re going to say next, we don’t not correct ourselves, we remember things wrong and track back and restate what we said, and add our own opinions in as we go. On the other hand, the montages of Sita singing were, to me, somewhat inconsequential. Whilst the singing did overlap with what was going on in the film at times, I didn’t really feel it to be particularly significant – and it did not help when in a slightly sleepy state. The more traditional-like, painted animations of the characters ‘actual’, long-winded, unnecessarily complicated story, for lack of a better description, was to me, a separator, as were the other styles. Finally, the mirroring story in San Francisco/India/New York, I felt was a much more straightforward way of telling the story than in the ‘Indian’ way, and I enjoyed the ‘shaky’ effect of the animation. All in all, the composition of all the mixed styles was interesting, but I wouldn’t say it evoked any particular realization in me – Sita Sings the Blues was just another thing.

Sound Piece – Taylor Swift & The Pixies Remix

The Final Version

Side note – the song is 1 minute in GarageBand, but 2 minutes in Audition, for some reason.

Ferwa’s Reflection
For this assignment, I was grouped with Helen and Xiaoyu with the task of creating a one-minute sound piece. We went through various options, and minor disagreements pertaining to song choices and language barriers, before settling on using the vocals of one song with the instrumentals of another, and adding our own instrumentals using GarageBand. As Helen and Xiaoyu wanted to use Taylor Swift’s Our Song, which Xiaoyu had her friend Lily sing so she could record it using the field equipment, they decided to let me choose the background track, which actually turned out to be difficult. We were hard put trying to find a song that fit with the vocals, but it turned out Lily had sung it so casually that it seemed impossible; I tried Intro by The xx, Animus Vox by The Glitch Mob, Summer by Joe Hisaishi, This Is How We Do by Katy Perry, and even My Heart Will Go On from Titanic. It was becoming clear though, that slower songs fit better with the vocals, so eventually I decided to try Where Is My Mind, by The Pixies – it was still a bit too harsh; we needed something softer. So I ended up looking up other versions of Where Is My Mind, and found a piano cover that fit almost perfectly and sounded great. By this time, though, we thought it would be better to have Helen sing the song again and record it with the field equipment whilst listening to the background music so that sorting out the volumes and tones would be easier. We took out a field recorder, but it didn’t turn on, so Helen and Xiaoyu simply used the built-in microphones on one of their laptops to record it, and then the instrumentals were added and many edits were made until it turned out the way it was. It sounded pretty great! My job was centered more around getting the background music to fit and sound harmonious with the vocals, which required a lot of moving things around and re-listening and timing, than recording or playing the GarageBand instruments, and I think it was an interesting experience; it was nice to learn different ways to edit music in different software. During the critiquing class, we were given the suggestion of fading the music in after the vocals ended, and starting the song out a little softer, so Xiaoyu and I made those edits – and now our piece is complete.

Helen’s Reflection
I recorded the vocals, edited them in Audition (amplifying, enhancing the vocals, & analog delay), and played the software instruments (acoustic guitar & clarinet solo) in GarageBand. It was easy for me to learn Our Song and adapt it to the soundtrack Where Is My Mind. But I spent a lot more time and effort in GarageBand. There were no other utilities, so I had to listen and figure out the exact tones and play them accordingly.

I learnt much in these days’ classes. I tried recording devices. I tried all three software and learned about the different functions they have. I recognized the necessity and power of the remix. I learnt about how to make an audio interview (especially the point that the transition from noise to quietness indicates that the interview officially starts). In the critiquing class, I knew it was important to make the volume diverse.

Additionally, we had some disagreements on song choices, and even the theme and elements of our project last Friday, which should be avoided next time. The language appeared to be a huge problem as well, since there were so many musical terms. I should have been prepared.

Xiaoyu’s Reflection
For the sound piece, we decided to make a remix of Taylor Swift’s Our Song. At first, I used a field recorder to record the song sung by Lily. Helen and I cut some popping sounds with Audacity. However, when we were trying to find new background music that could fit Lily’s song, it turned out that Lily sang it so casually that even the most suitable background music failed to match it. Therefore, Helen sang it again with the background music that Ferwa chose. I really like the remix, and especially Helen’s company. After the class criticism, I edited the ending part of the sound in GarageBand so that it can fade in gradually.

For this group assignment I mainly explored GarageBand (looping, instrument, volume). It’s an easy software with powerful built-in functions. I should have explored Audition more to see whether some effects are easier to be achieved with another software.

Making A Comic – More Photoshop

Our second project was to create a comic in Photoshop; this time, I worked with Ian and Ellie. To start with, we brainstormed ideas and pretty much added a lot of the very random things that came up in conversation, which resulted in an extraordinarily weird comic – click on the image to enlarge it:

Sorry-About-The-Resolution

Our resolution ended up being inadequate. Sorry, people.

Here are some of the images that we used in the process:

tophet 3972_Wilco410495 de blobs grass kidfoot shanglow

 

Overall, making Sorry About the Resolution was an interesting experience, considering how many times we changed the elements of the story. Our feedback from Marianne and the class upon presenting the comic was useful, suggestions including maintaining some consistency in the appearance of the characters to prevent confusion and better ways to utilize the space and speech boxes. The arrangement of the comic also caused some confusion to others reading it, interrupting its flow, which could be fixed with some repositioning of the pieces in question.

Photoshop Project – iPhone 6

For our first Photoshop project, I worked with Jack and Cindy to create an image depicting the iPhone 6, a parody, so to speak, of its tagline ‘Bigger than Bigger’.
The final version of our image can be seen below.
iPhone Commercial Final

We worked by passing the original image around until we had edited it twice each, creating folders for ourselves in the .psd file as we went, so that we could easily separate our work to present it. First off, Cindy started by taking the original image – shown below as Version 0.1 – from Apple’s website.
iPhone Commercial Ver. 0.1

Next, Jack added a picture of a female weightlifter, arranging her so that she appeared to be holding up the iPhone’s – and gave her new thumbs so that it looked like she was actually holding them.
The original pictures he used are shown below.

Weightlifting_web Thumb_web

And this is Version 0.2:

iPhone Commercial Ver. 0.2

Next, being my turn, I decided we needed some sort of background, so I Photoshopped an image of the Earth underneath the weightlifter, so that she would be standing on it. Adding some perspective! I used the ellipse tool to select and move the Earth, and later, when realized there was a thin blue line remaining on part of the rim of the Earth, I used the quick selection tool to get it right.
Here is the image of the Earth that I used:
earth_web

So, this is Version 0.3:

iPhone Commercial Ver. 0.3

 

Next, it was Cindy’s turn again. She added images two children, of different ages – and sizes – on the iPhone screens to depict the growth of the phone, and skewed them so that they would be at the same angle as the phones themselves.
These are the pictures of the children she used:

baby child

And this is Version 0.4:
iPhone Commercial Ver. 0.4

Then, it was Jack’s turn again, so he Photoshopped Tim Cook’s face onto the weightlifter’s, and added to the background – added Andromeda, to be precise.
This is Tim and Andromeda:

Timandromeda_web

This is Version 0.5:

iPhone Commercial Ver. 0.5

Finally, I thought adding Steve Jobs over the background with a low opacity would be a nice touch. The picture Before-Steve was comical, yes, but Steve’s addition is not as much; I’d like to point out that the intent was not to be disrespectful towards him, but to add a layer of depth and seriousness to the image. By editing Steve the way I did, I believe that it makes him appear to be almost folding his hands, as if in prayer, and/or looking on from heaven, observing the continuation of the iPhone and contemplating. I used the magnetic lasso tool, then the quick mask mode with a brush to select Steve, move him to our image, and then lower his opacity, making sure to arrange the layers so that he was in front of Andromeda, but behind everything else.
This is Steve:
steve jobs

A reminder of the resulting final version of the image:

iPhone Commercial Final

When we presented our project in class, we were given these suggestions: [1] To edit Steve’s head so that it didn’t have that edge at the top, although I personally feel that it adds to the ‘magnitude’ of the picture that we were trying to depict. [2] That the words in the picture were unnecessary, as it is already quite obvious what we are trying to say. [3] To add a shadow under the weightlifter, to add a touch of reality to his presence. [4] To edit the size of the kids, because, for example, the baby’s head is bigger than the other child’s. A revision of perspective. [5] To edit Tim’s face, because when we compare it to the kids’, it looks redder. Although, this could be due to the pressure of lifting the big phones. [6] To move everything except the background+Steve to the right a little bit, so it all appears to be in the center of Steve’s almost-folded hands.
Here is our revised image; don’t forget to squint:
iPhone-Commercial-revised

I had fun doing this project, and thanks to Jack and Cindy for their good work!

Embrace the Remix Response

Whilst I agree with Kirby Ferguson’s overall idea that “Everything is a Remix”, there are some specifics that he goes into that I’m not sure about. He talks about films, for example, being concocted with the use of various other mediums as inspiration, and it brings about the question of what art is. Where do we draw the line between original work and “covers” of other people’s work? I feel like this is a huge grey area, which might take more than a paragraph to discuss. On another note, when Ferguson talks about Steve Jobs’ comment about Picasso’s saying, “Good artists copy. Great artists steal” in 1996, then his changed comment in 2010 that he’s “going to destroy Android because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this”, and also talks about Obama – “In 2011 ACTA was signed by President Obama, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, currently being written in secret, aims to spread even stronger US-style protections around the world,” and “Of course, when the United States itself was a developing economy, it refused to sign treaties and had no protection for foreign authors” – I wonder what Ferguson is really trying to relay: What exactly is he trying to convey by pointing out the hypocrisy of others? And then, on yet another note, the time period between both of Steve Jobs’ comments is 14 years. 14 years of changing generations and technology and progress. Times change. And so do people’s opinions; we evolve as a whole. So how credible is it to use these comments side by side?

The Molotov Man

What made me most curious whilst reading “On the Rights of the Molotov Man” was Pablo Arauz, or Bareta, as a person himself. Did Susan Meiselas have his permission to take the photograph in the first place? In her response, it appeared as though she did not know who he was until she went back to Nicaragua in 1990, which gives me the impression that she had not talked to him before taking the picture in the moment. While I think that although someone, like Susan in this case, may have copyrighted something, in this case, the picture of the Molotov Man, so that they have permission to use the subject, I don’t think Susan has any more rights over the subject, Pablo, himself. And in such a case, if someone else were to reproduce her image, I think that they should also contact the subject, if possible, because nobody owns Pablo. Is it fair, to him, to have his image reproduced in different contexts without permission all over the place? In this aspect, I agree with Susan – we should try to preserve the context. However, if, for example in Joy’s case, the image had already begun to be reproduced, I think that someone like Joy, just another person adding to the numbers, should be allowed to reproduce it – but, I might feel more comfortable about it if Pablo was, at the least, aware of all the reproduction going on – but, on the other hand, it might be easier, or better, for him to be unaware. Nowadays, it’s common to go on the internet and find the same picture in myriad other places; as if we sign a permission form upon having a photograph taken of us, saying that it’s okay for people to reproduce it as they desire. But, I think that this depends on the context of the photograph and what is in it – here’s another example of why context is important. Some might not want their image to be reproduced, maybe because it’s personal to them/private. In recent news, people have been outraged at the leaking of Jennifer Lawrence’s nude photos by a hacker. Already, I’m sure, people will have put the pictures up elsewhere on the internet, saved them, and whatnot – I’m also sure she’s not the only one who’s ever had her property hacked, but people talk more when it’s about someone famous – and after all, at least it’s an opportunity to raise awareness and discuss what should or should not be done about these things. In this case, is it considered “okay” to reproduce these pictures? According to many people’s reactions, it’s not, but there are always multiple opinions – some say it’s unfortunate, but she should have known better than to put them on the cloud anyway, while others are appalled at the breach of privacy, and so on. So, how do we define what makes the reproduction of images “okay”? The express permission of the subject?

Retrogression – “The Machine Stops”

I found “The Machine Stops” a very interesting read, and it reminded me of books such as “Divergent” by Veronica Roth, and “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley; all three show very different ideas of what the world could be. “The Machine Stops” had me thinking over how humans are so dependent on technology nowadays – that in a way, machines could consume our lives and humanity as time progresses – as “the Machine” progresses. The connection between the thinking of ideas, the concept of religion, and the Machine itself was also interesting, and the decrease of human intelligence – and strength – was somewhat striking. In daily life, we hardly think about whether humans are retrogressing, but in “The Machine Stops” it was very clear, although there was hope at the end that the few people living outside of the underground system, would eventually create a new world. As I read about the “lectures” the people were keen on attending or giving, as well as the constant asking of others about whether they had had any new ideas recently, made me question what kind of ‘ideas’ they really seem to value. It seemed as if the people were simply recycling old thoughts – and as a result, making them more obscure and less credible. What benefit was there to this practice? And despite their refusal to dub their beliefs ‘religion’, it seemed apparent that, for example, when people prayed to the book, they viewed some aspect of the Machine, or the book, or the way of living it has all implemented, as divine. I feel that in each of the books – “The Machine Stops”, “Divergent”, and “Brave New World” – the characters are always intent upon believing in their social norms; they are so ingrained in what appears to be a narrow-minded way of life, that they stop imagining what things could be like. However, there also seems to be at least one person who is not so devotedly conforming to social norms, such as the Savage in “Brave New World”, Tris in “Divergent”, and in “The Machine Stops”‘ case, Kuno. Kuno represents a bit of free thinking, which gives a little hope that not everybody is a slave to the Machine, all though he ultimately fails to make it outside, above the underground. A question I wonder about is how the way of life in “The Machine Stops” came to be as it was in the first place. Nowadays, the average person is very reliant on technology to get through an average day. As this reliance increases… Would we, perhaps, retrogress into people like Vashti? Or would we evolve and improve our circumstances? People frequently talk about ‘faith in humanity’: Will this faith be enough to keep us from a potential downfall?

Understanding Comics Response

“Thus when you look at a photo or realistic drawing of a face, you see it as the face of another. But when you enter the world of the cartoon, you see yourself. I believe this is the primary cause of our childhood fascination with cartoons, though other factors such as universal identificationsimplicity and the childlike features of many cartoon characters also play a part. The cartoon is a vacuum into which our identity and awareness are pulled … an empty shell that we inhabit which enables us to travel in another realm. We don’t just observe the cartoon, we become it!” – Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics.

This is a rather long quote from Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud, but I felt it’s necessary to point it out, because, to some degree, I disagree with this statement. I’m well aware of the fascination with cartoons, childhood or not, but here’s one part I can’t relate to: Becoming the cartoon. Perhaps it’s just me, but I’ve never taken the place of my favourite characters from my favourite shows or comics – maybe a side character, and a new/original one at that, but I generally don’t ‘become’ anyone, that, in my mind, already exists. To clarify, of course any character from a comic or show created from the imagination doesn’t truly exist in the tangible sense, but well so in the mind. “We humans are a self-centered race. We see ourselves in everything. We assign identities and emotions where none exist. And we make the world over in our image.” This, here, is a statement by Scott that I do agree with. We humans do exist, so to speak, in our own little world, in which we are most significant, it’s true. But that is why, I think, that I’m unable to believe that we can become these cartoon characters we’re talking about; sure, we can imagine ourselves in the cartoon-universe in question and partake in it – I do this all the time – but we cannot truly become characters … We might just be too self-centered for that.