Final Reflection

This semester has been by far my best in Sophomore year, and being part of this class contributed a great deal to it. At the beginning, I felt intimidated that I did not really have much experience with any of the software that we were going to learn how to use. I remember once starting up photoshop and being so confused with the edit options that I deleted the trial version for my PC. I didn’t think I could learn to be “on amicable terms” with it ever, or any other Adobe editing software outside of Adobe Reader. It is with great pleasure that I say that i can now comfortably speak of Photoshop, Premiere, Audition, even After Effects without it being a lie, and me being horrifyingly pretentious about how much experience I truly do have with these editing software.

Another thing about the class that made the learning process really good in my opinion is the fact that everything we learnt helped us in our next process. Learning Photoshop helped us develop our comic strip, and learning Audition helped us make really good video clips with high quality sound in Premiere, and finally all these aspects made our animation projects come to fruition. (I should point out that we did not only learn media editing with Adobe, but i found integration within these much easier than say using iMovie or Audacity or other photo editing software that we were also introduced to.)

That said, I should also say that I’m more of a loner and usually choose working on my own when given the option of that or group work, I always feel like that way, I have no resentment towards anyone in case anything goes wrong. However, I enjoyed the group work that we had to do with the rest of our classmates…each group I was assigned had members that had different approaches or opinions about some thing and it was great to brainstorm together and to come up with novel ideas. It was a also a big relief to be able to cooperate with people that got their potions of the work done thus lightening the burden for all group members as a result. It is very evident in that I feel like my final Animation project would have gone much better if I had collaborated with someone else rather than strike out on my own as is my usual first choice. I’m glad I’m learning about true group work now, and not later in life! 🙂

Another wonderful aspect to this class is the access it granted us to all these amazing resources: in forms of professors, the lab assistants, the students and finally, the equipment that is in the IMA lab. It was a pleasure to be able to see all these new and amazing projects going on on the 8th floor everyday and to be able to freely talk with the people doing them, it was also good to discuss my work, recruit actors of voice-overs or just “crew” for the project because everyone as willing to help! I’m so grateful to the IMA community because they’re very very welcoming and are such an exciting bunch. I hope to take way more classes and to learn to use all the equipment that we have access to in school for creating. Thank you very much for a lovely semester, and for being so understanding Prof. Marianne.

Reflection on Animation Making

I initially set out to make my animation on these two female cartoon characters I had found on the internet once. I found the image compelling because this little girl was trying to help the sad older girl. I thought it’d be great to try to animate the events that could have brought them to this situation.girl with balloon

Despite having difficulty doing the storyboard, mainly because I couldn’t make up my mind about where to place my characters. I eventually decided that the park was a natural place to place two children playing with balloons. I then went about trying to find a park where the two characters could fit in. My first attempt was to go to the Century Park with a camera to record a park scene where these 2 characters could interact with each other. I thought it would be cool to include my characters in a scene that has real life people, and not other illustrations. But when i failed to get footage that could work well with the cartoons, I decided to use a picture of a balloon man in the park that i had sourced from the internet. However, this turned out to be very low resolution footage for the resultant movie, and upon following Marianne’s advice found a high quality panorama shot of a park, that I think did the job quite well.

I then set about sourcing a balloon cart for the scene where the little girl buys balloons. I liked this illustration so i used just the balloon cart from it, and used Photoshop to clone more balloons from the balloon that is used in the original illustration. That done, i started going through the types of animations I could do with the different assets I had created from the girl’s drawings. And then set about placing them in the scene of the park. I like how the panning the background that Marianne recommended to me worked out well with the story.

Unfortunately, the day our final cut was due on Tuesday, the school Mac that I was using crashed and restarted; making me lose my files and recent edits that I hadn’t yet sad on Drive or my other computer since I didn’t have a portable drive to store them in. I think I learnt the importance of backing up everything I do, as soon as I do it then, when I couldn’t find any of the Premiere projects and After Effects work I had been doing all weekend. Since the project was due soon anyway, and I had another essay to write out again, I tried my hardest to save the components of my project that were easy to animate, and tell the rest of the story through Premiere effects. I’m not too disappointed with my final project because, even though it was better before….I saw how much I had learned and gained from practice with all the Adobe programmes that I was able to put this all together again in much shorter time.

I also now know that my project would have been more flexible and my characters easier to emulate had i used assets that I had drawn myself. I’ve made a promise to myself to try more to let go of my fear of drawing, kinda because I know i don’t have to be a pro to come up with illustrations, I hope to make another in the future from elements that i maybe designed fully on my own.

PS: the sound clips i used were sound i got from freesound.org for park noises, children playing and a girl crying and they were all mixed in Audition to fit in with the background.

Video Project: The Gumboot

While making the videos was a lot of fun, it was pretty hectic coordinating between our dancers especially since there was a holiday in between. In the end, we ended up getting atleast hours of footage of the dance, from individual dancers and group performances. It was a lot of learning in choosing the angles to shoot in, and in directing the dancers but most especially in the post-production of the video.

Rough Cut.

Final Cut.

(the links work for users within the NYU system.)

Reflection on Comic Strip

 

 

 

FIANL 2

The making of the panels for our “Summer Rain” comic was more of an intuitive process than one that was simply planned out. Mary Kate and Stephanie decided to use the way the change of weather elements can affect the other components of the comic. This was a good manifestation of what Scott McCloud writes of in his introductory chapters for Understanding Comics. As he explains, it’s a good way to demonstrate transition, and his can be well done by showing changing weather patterns or say, changing the centre of focus on each new panel. Later on, we all decided to include a character that could interact with the audience as the panels changed and Mary Kate found this card with a little boy in various positions. Mary Kate and I then divided the panels for labour division that each of us were working on an interaction of the boy with the audience.

I worked with the boy playing football. Using photoshop, I traced and cut him out from the original strip and then transferred him to one of the weather backgrounds created by Stephanie. Even with the previous exercises involving Photoshop, I still had trouble making a convincing shadow but I knew that my strip needed a shadow to make it more convincing since it was still sunny outside. After trying, and failing to follow a certain tutorial on the Internet about making convincing shadow effects, I realized that I could just lay around with the drop shadow settings and the Transformation settings until it looked good enough. I’m happy to say, that it was worth it, and I like the shadow I created. I’m also much more appreciative of the time and effort that creative that have to work with photoshop all the time expend. It can get very frustrating when you have to do many do-overs.

Eventually, we named our panel Summer Rain, because what else could it possibly be? We did brainstorm for a name, it’s just this was the most fitting!

Following the criticisms we received in the next class we modified our comic strip as per the suggestions we were given, and hope that this provides an overall better aesthetic experience.

FINAL 1

I really enjoyed working with Stephanie and Mary Kate because we were almost always thinking the same thing when coming up with ideas, and everything flowed smoothly in the production process! We finished the comic 4 days early just because of that. Thank you ladies!

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(Response) Sita Sings the Blues: The New Ramayan

You know, in this day and age, it is hard to find a way of storytelling that you’ve never seen before. Movies are loosely based on the same techniques, again and again. So much so that one could be convinced that all techniques have been explored to their full potential. Had I watched Sita Sings The Blues prior to this class, I would definitely have thought that it was a definitely amateur production, and that maybe it was easy to do a similar project! Alas! Now, I have a certain inkling of an idea how much such a project could have cost the creator. Nina Paley. She somehow managed to align images from different, possibly stories of the Sita and Rama legend, to make an endearing and exciting story of Sita and Rama. Her success for me, I think was the fact that these images, even though different did not provide a jarring effect to the narrative of the story…halfway through, it became expected; for the monkey to change to purple, for Rama to switch from between blue and the ‘normal’ skintone, etc.

But even better for me, was the way Nina told the story. Coming from a culture that has quite a number of legends and myths going around myself, I know how hard it is to tell an accurate story of the happenings of the past- it is near impossible. Not only are these stories normally told through oral tradition but they’re also usually told by people trying to teach you a lesson so it’s bound to happen that they’ll emphasise certain aspects and leave out the others. It is therefore brilliant that Nina uses the conversation of 3 Indians as they try to figure out which versions of the story they all have makes the overall “correct” one. Another aspect I particularly like is the parallel juxtaposition of the Sita and Rama with her own story of a girl being separated from her boyfriend for a while and then rejoining him only to find that he doesn’t want her anymore. It kind of humanises the Sita and Rama story and makes it more relatable to the audience too! I would definitely recommend my friends to watch this too!

Reflection on Photoshop

After an extensive session of attempting to Photoshop the beautiful image we started with, I can come to the conclusion that learning how to use photo-editing tools with minimal frustration will take more than a few days work. This was my first time using Photoshop, however I am up to the challenge and would like to see how far I’d go in improving my skills. In this project, I added the top hat to the monkey in this image in an attempt to make the monkey out to be like a magician that convinces the minion to give up his bananas to him, in this cold barren winter land. My next edit involved colour-correcting the image so that the bananas tried to blend in with the new green background. My greatest challenge I’d say was trying to incorporate other elements of certain images pulled from the Internet. For example I wanted to add dark reflective glasses to the image but I failed to cut off just the round edge and place it on top of the eyes like the monocle. Additionally, despite using the various clone tools, I failed to remove the tiny snowflakes on the hands of the original monkey. However, I think blurring the image kind of achieved that. In general it was a fun experience anticipating what next my group-mates- Billy, June and Isabella would do to alter the image.

Distinctions between Remixes and Copying?

Jonathan Lethem’s article explicitly confronts the issue of plagiarism and how we interact with it in society while Kirby Ferguson’s “Embrace the Remix” and “Everything is a Remix” does it implicitly. However, they both do boil down to the point of how the objects we see and interact with in contemporary society have (most likely) existed before, and are just being remade/recreated one way or the other.

While I was reading the article and watching Kirby’s videos, one of the main questions that I kept asking myself was if anybody else noticed that these were similar quandaries to those that had been presented in “On the Molotov Man” and in Benjamin Walters’ “The Work Of Art In The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. Before, we were seeing some of the direct repercussions and criticisms that come with copying a work. Yet now, we are being made aware that some creative professionals do this in ways of paying “homage” to the original creation.

I wonder if there’s a line where we draw the distinction between wrongfully reusing a certain person’s work and/or ideas and when we are using it to “develop art to another level” which is similar with the principle that the patent law uses to make patents only exclusive for a certain number of years. If we are to take Kirby’s take, everything is truly a remake of something else and we only ask for copyright permissions and credit sources as a form of courtesy.

In a closing note, I’d like to point out that this doesn’t really happen in fashion. When a style or cut becomes popular, it is incorporated by the high-end and high-street brands. Furthermore, styles from previous decades and centuries are always seen to be evolving and being incorporated in present-day fashion without so much as the blink of an eye! In this sector, it’s not really frowned upon to re-make even though creativity is still the most upheld virtue.

Re-Undersatnding Comics with McCloud

I am glad to say that this was my second time reading Scott McCloud’s book “Understanding Comics” having previously done it for my IB English class. The first reading was more to see how a “text” could be presented in terms of comics and images and this second reading had me looking at the book in light if the fact that I was to use McCloud’s tips to create a comic panel of my own.

Though I would never be classified as a comics’ fan, I only religiously followed one football comic growing up and usually preferred the shorter cartoon panels in the newspaper. Reading McCloud’s book had me analyzing all the “stylistic” choices an artist takes into consideration to make their panel a success. It surely wasn’t just the story embedded in the comic that had me purchasing the books every week, it was, according to McCloud, also due to the way the comic panels were laid out, and this helped me appreciate the final products and work of the artists even more!

From this reading, I took away that the audience’s engagement (or what the artist foresees the engagement will be like) is a great influence in the work being produced by comic artists, and therefore should I ever consider being one, I should take the minute choices with a thorough thought process especially if the comic is a short strip versus a book-long comic.

Angela’s Response To On The Rights Of The Molotov Man

Reading this article in this specific week resounded quite well with what we had been discussing not only in the Communications Lab classes, but also in the GPC classes about the reproduction (or as I like to call it, the recreation) of art. In GPC, we examined Caravaggio and Rembrandt’s painting responses to the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham in Genesis 22. Both artists depicted their interpretation, or maybe you’d call it their response, to the scene when the angel stops Abraham just before he slits Isaac’s throat. Rembrandt’s painting, by virtue of it being done years after Caravaggio’s, could be seen as his response to Caravaggio’s work. However, we saw both works as different despite of their similarities because we examined both as the artists’ personal depiction.

Similarly, Joy Garnett’s image is considered a separate legal entity from the image by Susan Meiselas because it was not only produced in a different context from the original photograph, but also it was done with a different intention aimed at depicting the emotion rather than the individual or uniqueness of the subject. In my opinion, this is an example of a recreation of a work of art in such a way that it by itself is a complete new entity on its own. I believe Joy’s audience would still sense the feeling of “riot” she wanted to proffer had she used another image, or had Meiselas not asked for the original to be referenced each time the image is used by Joy.

And for that, unless an image is reproduced in its entirety (and even then, there’s a possibility of some creative process being employed in the process) for the sole purpose of making the original artist’s work available to an even greater audience, I think that the mere difference in time and intention makes whatever is being used a completely new piece of art, and thus the property of the one who created it.

The Machine (almost always) Stops

When I read E. M Forster’s short story “The Machine Stops”, what struck me the most was the magnitude of relevance that a story written in 1909 could hold to contemporary society. Forster hints at technologies such as instant messaging (IM) and video-conferencing that currently exist in 2015, and have been around for long enough that most people cannot fathom the inconvenience of not having access to them. On page 11, when Kuno points out that “we have annihilated not space, but the sense thereof”, he tries to define for himself the meanings of the words “near” and “far” in relation to his humanity. He states that he learns to measure quantifiable and unquantifiable dimensions such as distance and feelings using his body. With this, he makes his own conclusions to how to measure things outside of the mechanizations of the machine.

It is with this in mind that I consider how we use technology today. We have come to rely on machines, both big and small, to arrive at the exact definitions and/or dimensions of things. I would sooner use a calculator to tell me what the product of 6 and 7 is before I trust my memory of the multiplication tables. Every morning, I check my weather and pollution app before I look out the window to see the weather. My friends and I tend to take videos or photos of “important” moments on our phones instead of just simply enjoying the moment, so much so that sometimes to fully recount the moment, we have to go through the videos because we were more concentrated on recording it than experiencing it.

We rely on the infallibility of technology that we forget that it was created by man, similar to how the humans forgot that they created The Machine and start to think of it as a separate godly entity. And yet, as all human inventions, technology is not immune to failure, or errors and so on. In Forster’s book, the machine eventually stops. In 2015, accounts with sensitive and confidential information are hacked, power grids can get shut off for more than 24 hours due to failure or even more trivial: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram go down for a few hours and people don’t know what to do with their lives. (see hashtag on Twitter: #facebookdown & #ThingsIDIdWhenFacebookWasDown based on Facebook and Instagram going down on 28th Jan, 2015).