Reflection on Animation – What’s cooking?!

The animation highlights the final project and end of this communications lab course. I wanted to give it my best and I am really happy of the animation I made. Through this animation, I wanted to combine my passion for cooking, especially since our current dorms does not have a kitchen, so one of the messages in this animation was to explore what you could cook in a microwave and I chose to do that through a chocolate microwave mugcake.

Drawing a layout of the shots to be taken on a story board was helpful in giving me a sense of what the story was going to evolve into and the kinds of props that I would be needing, but it was more in shooting the animation, doing the actual work that the project took turns and shaped itself. I decided to use stop motion which involves taking A LOT of pictures. I’ve never been a “camera person”, not really into taking pictures or walking with a camera when I go travelling, and in this project I think I took more pictures than I have previously in my life or on my phone. I really enjoyed the process and learning how to properly use a camera, fixing the resolution and focus, playing with shooting angles and lighting, and properly fixing a camera on a tripod stand. I definitely feel confident that I have enough skills now to carry a camera with me wherever I go! At least, when I take pictures now, there will be a lot of thinking behind the process rather than just taking a picture randomly.

Looking at how much work everyone put in their animation as well as how much effort and time it took to create those few minutes of pure joy, I feel that it was the best. I definitely have more admiration for all those artists who make hours of animation, even for a few seconds, it takes hundreds of pictures to make those few seconds magical. After a semester in communications lab, the first IMA class that I am taking at NYUSH, I feel in awe and admiration and I am discovering that I really like doing this stuff. I have gained so many skills in this class and 16 weeks ago, I would say that I was helpless at technology. I feel that in those 16 weeks, I grew a long way and I am sad that this course is ended but so grateful to have had Marianne as my professor. It was an awesome semester and Marianne, you made the class so lively and sparked creativity in your students, really thankyou! I feel pumped up to learn even more and I can’t wait to see what I will be creating next!!

Movie making, a reflection

I’m constantly being introduced to new means of creating in this Communications Lab class and it’s fascinating the number of things one can create. In the making of this movie I experienced using a professional camera, using CC Premiere to create and edit movies, the importance of good lighting for the making of a movie, and in addition building on previous skills used in previous projects notably using the microphone and Audition. It’s also the first time I’ve been introduced to storyboards and how displaying the different shots on paper makes an idea more concrete and also shows you what you exactly need to do.

In this project, I was mainly in charge of recording sound although I also managed to get a chance at doing Light and Camera. In the process of making the movie I learnt how important it was for everyone to be ready before shooting the scene in question and having prompt words such as “cut” or “rolling” in order to make the editing process easier.

Putting together the movie on Premiere was the most challenging part because although we had all the shots and sound, it was time to go through every single one of them, cutting and pasting and editing over and over again. I think it was really interesting to sync sound and video together because I had to export all the sound into Audition to raise the amplitude up and then import it back into Premiere. The task I found most fun and time consuming was syncing sound and video. The “marker” tool became my best friend in the process.

Overall, I think I got a feel of how to make a movie and the amount of work that goes into making big movie productions that come out in the theatres. There are so many components that the crew has to take into account and the editing is done so meticulously. I’m really fascinated and at the same time I’m really glad to be learning all of this. It’s all so interesting and I can now recognise things once I see it on screen, and it equips me with the tools to start creating my own projects.

*Big Thanks to the incredible friend actors who helped make this project awesome.*

Sita Sings the Blues

Thoughts on Sita Sings the Blues

As soon as the movie started and the floating images of Sita and Ram came along, I did not know what to expect. I was already impressed by the intricate nature of the characters presented and how Nina Paley used glinting stars as the eyes and jewellery of the characters which gave life and feeling to the moving shapes. I felt that there was a huge amount of intricate work that has gone in this project which amazes me.

There are so many things happening at the same time, like 3 parallel stories and a superb hilarious narration. I really enjoyed following the story by jumping from those different point of views because it kept my attention and my interest in the movie. One of the stories happening is Nina’s story and she represents it using real life places which helps us situate the story. I loved how although the characters and cat are of a moving drawing cartoon type characters, the shots the audience sees of New York city or other places are more realistic and real. This reminds me of “Understanding comics” that we read previously and the more abstract nature of Nina and Dave’s characters allows the audience to identify and imagine themselves in place. The second story happening is about Sita’s story in songs. I really enjoyed this version as well because the songs were catchy and with the blues rhythm. I noticed that in the singing form, the characters were more formed like a collage of different shapes together which was very interesting. It was especially interesting to observe how movement was portrayed, it reminded me of human figurines that we can play with, and how you move the figurine by placing moving its legs or arms. I also thought the songs gave the movie more vivacity and vitality. The third story going parallel was what we saw most of and what was actually happening between Sita and Ram. I think the characters were drawn in a unique manner. The eyes particularly stroke me as interesting and how all the characters were mostly viewed from a side angle instead of full face. I thought the whole narration part of the movie was hilarious because they paused to give their thoughts on what was happening and it was funny to observe the disagreements going on between the narrators. I think it made the movie more enjoyable for the reader because it relieves tensions happening and it made some situations very comical, especially at the beginning when they were talking about the king dying or having a heart attack over the fact that he had to send his son Ram away. In the background of the narration the characters are seen to execute what the narrators narrate and that scene where the King sends Ram away, I believe the King died almost 10 times in the background as the narrators were debating what happened.

All those stories happening in parallel were really fascinating because they were all so different in style and type which made it seem like it could have been totally different stories although they were all related. Additionally, as the scenes switch from one story to another, I was impressed by how it flowed seamlessly and was linked to each other. I also liked the revelation at the end when Nina is reading the book, and how it ties all the pieces together between the story of Sita and Ram and Nina’s and Dave’s own story.

I was captured from the start with this piece of animation and I thoroughly enjoyed watching it all.

The Ecstasy of Influence and Everything is a remix

Lethem and Kirby’s arguments are very convincing and similar with various overlaps. It feels like Lethem is the written form while Kirby is the animated audio visual form of the same type of arguments. “Copy, transform, combine” I had not given too much deep thought into that before but now that I think about it, life in itself is composed of these elements as we adapt ourselves to our environment. I was quite surprised to see the number of box office and famous movies that have adopted and appropriated things from various other sources, especially Avatar. The first time I saw Avatar, I thought it was a great movie, now when I look back at it with new eyes, I still think it is a great movie but what I also have in mind is the way it was created and put onto the screen for us to enjoy. In a sense, I don’t only watch the movie, but I understand more of the workings behind putting a movie together.

I really liked the fact that Lethem emphasised and associated art with love and the value of a gift. Art creates a connection between the artist and his intended recipient and this act of giving a gift is priceless and that turning it into a commodity in a way devalues this art. I really also like the fact that Lethem while discussing and criticising this idea of plagiarism, he referenced all of his borrowings and the changes he made to other works and where they were essentially taken from at the end of his article. This not only shows how he appropriated and used other people’s work to make a work of his own but it is interesting to see how his article is a collage from various different sources that may be derived from various other sources and this points out to a point that he makes in his article, people appropriate other people’s work and copy, borrow, combine things together to make their own.

One phrase that stuck with me from Kirby’s videos is “our creativity comes from without, not within” and that we are dependent on each other. All we do is copy, and as I was watching his videos I thought that a lot of the things we encounter and do in our daily lives is copying and appropriating and adapting, from the way we style our hair, dress, to copying notes at school that are taught by the teacher who was taught by other teachers who maybe learnt it from a book that was written by someone else and the list could go on. This also made me think of our Communications lab classes as we use photoshop and html ~ and we are essentially copying from others, taking images from various websites and transforming them and combining these elements to create something different just like the comic panels we all just made. Another phrase that was particularly enlightening was “progress happens when all the factors make for it to happen”, food for reflection.

After reading/watching both works, I came to wonder though that even if everything is a remix indeed and if we can go tracing back ideas and sources in time, but surely there would perhaps be a stop somewhere and also somewhere there would exist an original form?

Understanding comics: The Invisible Art reflection

Through his comic book “Understanding comics”, Scott McCloud is taking us on a tour of everything about comics including its historical evolution.

After reading those first four chapters, my reaction was “woah”. I thought it was impressive and fascinating how McCloud is able to convey the essence of comics and at the same time have us experience the effects of it. For example, while addressing all the elements that make up comic including gutters, panels, sounds, words, spacing, shape of panes, frames, time, and so much more, he explains and makes use of it at the same time which is really useful for the reader. I also think it is very well done because after reading those chapters, I now grasp that comics is just more than ‘just that’, it is a world so intricate and there is a lot of work and thinking that goes into each page, each panel, each blob of ink that I feel that putting it all together in a book like “Understanding comics” is just beautifully done.

I read comics and yet I never realised everything that goes on behind the scene or never took notice of the effects of long rectangular panels for time lengthening rather than small panels but just experienced the effects of it as a reader. McCloud says that comics rely on the reader, it all depends on the reader and the imagination of the reader which gives life to the comic and even to his character in the book, and I quite agree because with a push from the author of the comic, there is a world that unfolds upon us. Even when reading the first four chapters, I guess I give life to his character in the book, the McCloud because in my head, he has a distinct voice which I attributed to him or at least “imagine” how he would be speaking to me, and this also points to the deep relationship between reader and author as experienced in comic books.

I really enjoy reading this book because somehow, I feel that it provides a huge amount of information in a way that I don’t feel like it is a pain to read or to understand or absorb as it would have been if it was an essay of information or documentary or something else. The journey takes me through things that I will now be able to spot when I read comics and it was interesting to learn about the differences and overlaps of Western culture and Eastern culture.

I found it amusing how he builds up to the definition of comics and the humour behind all the panels, and I thought that this definition was broad enough to incorporate lots of things beneath the category and literally I was surprised by how many things can be classified as comics. Even things that I draw falls under comics without my knowing and I find this really interesting and fascinating this world of comics. McCloud’s work has completely changed the way I now view comics.

Thoughts on Molotov Man

In this article, we can see the problems related to reproduction of artworks. Copyright infringement is a serious issue. From all the talks at school about properly sourcing data and not plagiarise, it becomes almost scary to even dare look for information anywhere when you know that you have to do all the work in afterwards sourcing it appropriately. Although I understand that Garnett did not intend to infringe on Meiselas’s image and that she was inspired by a fragment of it, I think she could have at least mentioned Meiselas in her exhibition as an inspiration. I found it a bit funny however that Meiselas engaged a lawyer and asked for a pay for Garnett’s action which I think maybe was a little too much. I was pleasantly surprised by the reactions of the online artists all around the world who stood in “solidarity” with Garnett to fight for her right to use the image in her painting. By then, it seems that the whole story seemed to take even greater proportions because people all around the world understood the image differently and reproduced the image differently, and maybe due to language barrier did not quite understand what was happening to Garnett, and as a result their reinterpretations of Molotov man and appropriations stirred the image even further from its original meaning.

On the topic of original meaning, one of the important points the article touches upon is about how contextualising and decontextualising images affect their meaning and value. Meiselas wants to protect her piece of art and preserve the specific story it is telling of the time and place that particular image was taken in. I believe it is her right to know what other people want to use her image for, but at the same time I think that if she published her image out there herself, even without wanting it to be spoilt by someone decontextualising it, she is still sharing it to the public. In sharing this knowledge to the public by publishing it, she also gives way and freedom for people to interpret the image and to a certain extent using it to form their own ideas. Thus I feel that if she didn’t want it to be decontextualised and preserve its meaning, then she should not have published the photo. At the same time, I understand the strong feelings she has for her representative photo that she tells us at the end of the article.

One of the other key points of the article is the question raised by the online artist, “Who owns the rights to this man’s struggle?” and the previous questions raised by Garnett in the article. This is an important question because it drives back the issue of copyright back at Meiselas. Neither Meiselas, Garnett, nor the internet users who reproduced the photo personally knew Mr Pablo Arauz and thus I don’t think that anyone asked his permission for the photo. Meiselas did not ask Arauz if it was okay to photograph him nor if he liked the photo nor if he would appreciate the photo to be published. As such, all of this just becomes more tangled and complicated and sheds light on questions and connections about art and copyright issues. We all take pictures, even random ones of our surroundings and people without asking for a direct permission, and this I think raises interesting questions because even when you take a picture of your friend for example, and people ‘happen’ to be in the background, should you ask their permission before taking the picture of your friend? Without people taking pictures and recording things, we would not have historical data or evidence, and if every historian had to ask for permission before taking a picture, we would not know how for example: the happenings at a sight of war or how the castle of an ancient King looked like. This connection between art and copyright seems very complicated to me but also interesting to consider.

Thoughts on “The Machine Stops”

Thoughts on “The Machine Stops”

While reading the text, I’ve been left confused and puzzled numerous times trying to understand what Vashti and Kuno were (humans or machines or parts of a bigger whole machinery) and how things operated in the underground world that they seem to inhabit controlled by “The Machine”.

I know for one that technology is of great importance to them and that it is really advanced. Everything is instant and available without having to move places. The story is like a depiction of a human world but this time it is under the surface of the earth.

At first, I thought that Vashti could behave like a charge or a signal or message that travels the wires of a machine. Like in a circuit, a bus of charges travels and at each intersection a charge leaves the bus and travels its respective path job. But as I continued reading, I got the impression that they were some sort of humans or robots that were confined and isolated under the earth and it made me wonder what they were doing under the earth? It felt like the conditions above the surface of the soil had gotten really rough and they could not go up for that reason because they would die up there.

The Machine governing, controlling and dictating all their actions tells me that they have no free will of their own. Anything that is ‘unmechanical’ is punished. This lack of freedom kind of made me sad, but at the same time reminded me of robots and the wirings in a robot, every part has a specific role to perform and obviously cannot do anything else than that specific job. This also made me think of cells in the human body or anything living being, in the sense of cancerous cells, for example when a cell stops performing its job but does something else like attacking others of its own kind and so on. This is like contamination and bad cells that have to be eliminated or removed in order to restore peace in the body. In this way, anything that is not mechanical needs to be eliminated.

I also found the juxtaposition between the need to generate and to think about new ideas for those humans against following everything the machine dictates quite funny because of the tension with the idea of freedom.

Another thing that had my attention was that this story made me think of people who are completely anti-social and always confined to technology. I thought that one cannot separate himself from the outside world completely for that long because it only does harm to one. I feel like the author is against this ‘isolation’ and confinement from everything and everyone else in the text. This is life, you have to get out and enjoy it because you only live once. There exists a natural beginning and end to everything.