Cindy’s animation – My Little Adventure

Though I have the experience of working with After Effects before, I could have never imagined that I would use it to make an animation!

The process of making an animation is extremely time-consuming. My first step was to create the character by collecting assets from the Internet and photoshopping them together to make it a little earth that is traveling around the world. Then I searched for “country road” images on Google  and found many high-quality photos of roads with beautiful sceneries aside to be the background pictures of my animation. I used a guitar music at first, however, I found another piece of music from an Japanese animation later that is better for my animation since it’s more energetic and spirited. I had to make some adjustments for the part I had already done since I changed the music of it. Once I start animating, the two biggest problem were how to let my character drop from the sky and land without breaking the rule of physics and how to make him walk naturally.

I asked Marianne about the first problem. She showed me how to do it with an example and it was very helpful. However, I solved the second problem all by myself. I asked Helen to walk towards me and recorded it to observe how her legs move. Later I found out that the characters in animation don’t actually move as normal people do. Fortunately, when I was taking the subway one day, there was an animation playing on the Metro TV with a character walking towards the audience, showing me exactly what my character should look like when he walks. Though the legs of my character are just two incredibly short sticks, they managed to walk like a normal cartoon character! It doesn’t look perfect, but I did my best and I’m happy with the result.

One thing I regret most is that I didn’t draw a complete storyboard before I started animating. So I had no idea what should happen next, forcing me to think about the plot while I animated. Anyway, I’m glad that I did it at last.

I can’t believe this semester ends so soon. I really enjoy spending this semester with all the amazing classmates and our incredible professor Marianne to learn so many useful skills! Wish you all a wonderful winter break.

Cindy’s reflection to Sita Sings the Blues

The animation Sita Sings the Blues is indeed a very interesting piece of work. It has three lines going on at the same time. The first one is the real story of the producer herself, the heartbreaking breakup she went through because of her boyfriend’s job transfer to India. The second one is the three “puppets” telling and making comments on the myth of ancient India with a great sense of humor, making the animation really interesting. The third one is the ancient myth, in which there are three modes identified by different styles of drawing.

Since the title of the animation is Sita Sings the Blues, the singing part is definitely the most important one. To identify this, whenever Sita sings a song, the drawing style turns to a certain one that contains lots of circles, the purpose of which, I guess, is to make it easier for the character to dance to the music. I think this is a brilliant idea and I would really like to adopt it in my own work. I also saw plenty of creative methods of transition that I want to learn from.

Although there are actually three lines going on at the same time, they are closely related. The audience can find the similarity between the producer’s own story and the myth. The “puppets” are also making interactions with the characters in the myth by dubbing them in a funny way.

I really want to mention that I love the beginning of the animation. I find the idea of “Your name here presents” and “in association with Your money” very creative.

I am greatly inspired by this animation. While enjoying the an-hour-and-twenty-minute-long animation, I can’t imagine how much time it took to make each movement of the character. Making animation is a hard work but it’s worth the efforts. Hope everything goes will with my production!

Sound Project – Group work by Dongning, Sapphire, Cindy and Shawn

 

Reflection

Dongning Fang:

It is quite interesting to make an audio combing different songs to tell a story, especially that a song is used several times with different rhythm, which is basically my task in this project. I first used audition to cut a part of music out. It is easy to cut it out, but a little bit hard to make a loop without disharmonious sound. It took me some time to cut at that point. Then I used audacity to change the music. As what our project wanted, that piece of music was changed in to a faster version that showed the excitement of a drinker, and a slower version that showed his black out.

When doing the final change, there were some parts of our project that did not do as we expected. We added some glass broken and throwing up music so that it could make our point more clear. I feel like it is more difficult to express something simply with music. When choosing the music, it is quite important to pick the main and focusing part.

Sapphire Chen:

During my absence from class, my teammates came up with a rather good idea to record the process of a man getting drunk. They started finding music pieces and other sound effects to put in our sound piece. When I came back to school, we gathered together to make some final changes. I helped use audacity to fix some sounds which were too low in volume and made the whole piece sound smooth. And we also together discussed how we could make transitions less confusing and add more sound effects to consummate the final work.

And I am sure that if I was able to attend classes last week, we would collaborate better as a team because we were quite happy working together, which is the most regrettable thing I had during our teamwork.

Cindy Hu:

At the very beginning, our group decided to do something with the background music of Super Mario. The first idea was to use this piece of music to express Shawn’s experience of Color Run. Later, Shawn came up with the idea of using different pieces of music to express how people usually get drunk. So we selected different music that can represent different phase of drinking. The first two are “A Little party never killed nobody” and “Happy”, which represent the first phase when people get excited. Then, we use the background music of Super Mario under water game level to show the dizzy feeling of drunk people. To connect these different pieces, Shawn recorded some words and we also use a selected part of a song which says “123 drink”. I worked on the first part of the music, which is to cut and edit “A Little party never killed nobody” and “Happy”. Also, I searched for several sound effects such as the cheering sound of people and the sound of pouring wine into the bottle, etc. I’m really glad that we tell the story in a clear way. We got several valuable feedbacks on how we can improve by replacing the words by other pieces of music. This is quite challenging, but I’ll definitely keep it in mind in my future works because it leaves more space for the audience to think and process the sound piece in this way.

Shawn Gu:

For the sound project, I really want to make something really funny so I bring out the idea of tell a story of a drinking man. I had much experience of using “cool edit” in high school, so I am in charge of the sound record and combination of all small pieces. Due to our voice is not very suitable to the situation of our story, I did much edit of the voice. First, I tried to change the pitch and frequency of many different versions and combine them together to make it like many people speaking together. It does not work well then I tried slow down the frequency and add the effect of reverberation. It works. For the combination of all pieces, it is really a challenge because it is not easy to make the connection smooth. After making every piece fade-in and fade-out to let the audience has a better sense of story telling, I suggest my teammate to cooperate to add more background sound to feel more real. I think we did a very good job on our work, but I really like the idea from the feedback that using other noises as connection instead of speaking. Something new about this experience is changing the pitch and frequency, which I did not have much chance to do before. I found it very interesting and useful, especially for human voice. For something pity is that I really want to do something about music remix which I think is really cool. And for the remix, the editor need a very good understanding of melody and rhythm. I will try practicing it some time later.

Cindy’s Reflection on the Ecstasy of Influence and Embrace the Remix

As these days people are putting more and more emphasis on intellectual property right, we are more aware of the negative impacts and the severe consequences of plagiarism than any previous times.

However, from the videos and the article, I found out something beneficial about remixing (in other words, copying). According to the video, Kirby Ferguson defines the basic elements of creativity as copying, transforming and combining. His idea of everything is remix implies that every creation requires copying first. I totally agree with the point since there’s no way one can achieve such a high level of knowledge without copying ancestors’ works. No matter what it is that we are learning, the first step is always to copy.

In the piece the Ecstasy of Influence, there’ s also a chapter called the beauty of second use which tells us about the positive side of the action. The author, Jonathan Lethem argues that our primary motivation for participating in the world of culture in the first place is to make the world larger. While  banning any second creation is doing the opposite thing.

Then what is the purpose of creating a new form of art based on an existing one by the means of remixing? I really like the response of Kirby himself. He says, the purpose is to encourage learning, to promote the progress of useful Arts and to bring better life for everyone. If performed in a reasonable way, remixing and recreating can lead to social evolution. So by no means should we deny the precious value of remixing and recreating.

Sapphire, Bill and Cindy’s Comic Project

Sapphire, Bill and Cindy's Comic Project

Reflections

Cindy Hu:

When browsing Weibo, I saw a collection of photos about old couples doing lovely things together, which gave me the idea of making a comic about a lifelong love story. We all agreed on this topic and divided the work so that we can cooperate and make the best use of time. Everyone of us was assigned to find pictures of a boy and a girl at different phases of their lives. Then, on Tuesday’s class, we discussed about how we should make the comic and we finally decided to make it in the form of a scrapbook, which help to tell our simple story in a cute and interesting way. Also, we came up the idea of turning the backgrounds into cartoon style so that the characters could stand out. After we photoshoped one sample picture in the class, we processed the other pictures separately according to the similar pattern. Finally, I put all the pictures together and added some words on it to narrate the story. I’m so glad that our group managed to reach our original goal successfully.

Sapphire Chen:

In the comics we made, basically we are going to create a healing story of one’s whole life in order to show how simple our life is but how fortunate for us to be humans who can fantasize, love, appreciate and accompany. We use the form of “paperman” in the virtual and comic backgrounds to make it cuter and to emphasize more on the people and their actions. In this way, there is more possibility that it’s the “paper people” who are catching the eyes of the readers instead of the settings.

Bill Chen:

Since our story is simple and romantic, we don’t want to make too many effects on our pictures. We cut couples from real pictures and put them onto white “papers”. Also, we used filters in photoshop in order to turn real backgrounds into comic style.  This two strategies help our pictures simple enough so that people can concentrate on the couples and their story.

Cindy’s Response to Understanding Comics

This is unlike any of my previous experience of reading a comic book. Although I don’t often read comics, but in my mind, there’s a stereotype that comics are for fun, not for academic purposes. However, this very comic book proves it to me that I was completely wrong.

I was really surprised when I found out there’s a system of lore inside comics. What I knew about comics was simply the fact that they have different characters and use a graphic way to tell different stories. It is easy for people, even children to read and understand comics. But making a satisfying comic is way harder than I thought.

Here are some concepts about the constitution of comics which left a deep impression on my mind.

First of all, the idea of thinking your face as a mask and seeing yourself through the eyes of the mask is truly amazing. Scott’s observation about people’s interaction with each other is interesting and innovative.

Secondly, I was really impressed by Scott’s theory that we don’t just observe the cartoon, we become it. The words the character’s saying is not what we actually hear but a little voice inside our head, a concept. When we read comics, we are used to think that it is the characters who are telling us the story. In fact, the information conveyed by the pictures is limited. Everyone of us understand comics in our own way because we fill the blank of transitions in light of our imagination. And this can differ from man to man.

Also, the triangle illustrating the relationship between the picture plane, reality and language is brilliant. Scott’s idea of categorizing the drawing styles of characters and putting them into the chart does a great job on helping me to understand the idea and keep this in mind.

By reading this comics, I find out that it is more likely for people (well, probably just me) to understand and memorize through the means of comics. So if we take advantage of this, it would be such a great move to use the tool of comics to spread meaningful and brilliant ideas as well as useful knowledge to more and more people around the world.

Plus or minus? (Cindy’s response to On The Rights Of Molotov man)

Art derives from life but is more than life. Though there are varieties of forms of art, all of them indicate deeper value than the subject itself. Nowadays when modern technology provides us with even more ways of presenting art, this principle still remains the same.

For example, when people observe the famous painting Mona Lisa, do we pay more attention to what does she look like, or do we think more about what is behind her vague smile? I think most of us are likely to choose the latter. So when it comes to this situation in the reading, I’ll apply the same response. Yes, the character himself is important, but when the picture has been turned into art and earned popularity all over the world, it’s not just about him anymore, it’s about the symbol and the spirit behind the colors. And as time goes by, newer applications of the picture are actually adding new interpretations, which wear the smell of each times, to it rather than taking things away from it.

I’m not saying that the background of each work of art is not important. As Susan said, “Indeed, it seems to me that if history is working against context, then we must, as artists, work all the harder to reclaim that context. We owe this debt of specificity not just to one another but to our subjects, with whom we have an implicit contract.” Just like the subjects, each art piece has its own story. So it is rude to simply ignore the stories and use the works to satisfy one’s own need. I’ve experienced the feeling of being “robbed” of my own work, and it’s heartbreaking. I’m absolutely in favor of the artists’ action of protecting the rights of their original works. All the efforts belong to them, and all the glories should belong to them as well. Despite the fact that later variations also contribute to the spirit of the art piece, the great efforts of the original authors made to generate the brilliant ideas or to capture precious moments are ones that should never be neglected.

In short, contemporary interpretations of the works are additions that should be made. While in the meantime, respect to the original authors is a subtraction that should never ever be carried out.

Cindy’s reflection on The Machine Stops: Here comes the future

Since the invention of electricity, especially since the 21st Century, people have been fancying the kind of future which people are surrounded by amazing high-tech devices.

But when this sort of future really comes into reality, it doesn’t turn out as well as we imagined. In the fictional tragedy of The Machine Stops, our descendants experience all of this. The Machine takes control of our entire life. And gradually, people forget how to live by themselves.

They lose so many precious feelings that human were born with. When Vashti saw the marvelous chain of Himalayas, she said, “Cover the window, please. These mountains give me no ideas.” People lose their respect to the nature – the sacred thing that created us – instead, they worship the Machine, which is simply something created by human. I’ve already seen things like this happened around me. With the development of the social network, we cannot live without it now. Some of us (including me) use Wechat everyday, typing “hahahaha” while having no expression on our faces at all. What’s worse, people in the story lose sympathy and even humanity. Where did the genuine emotions go?

As Kuno said, “It was robbed us of the sense of space and of the sense of touch, it has blurred every human relation and narrowed down love to a carnal act, it has paralysed our bodies and our wills, and now it compels us to worship it.” People sedulously avoided the word “religion”, but the Machine really served as a religion in that society. How can people rely their lives on a machine?

This reminds me of people’s madness about Apple. Walking on a random street, you can see people holding iPhones everywhere. In our academic building, you can see people using Macbook everywhere. Many people describe Jobs as an “archbishop”. We have all heard of tons of stories about people doing stupid things to get an iPhone or iPad, which fully indicate that the allure of technology can turn people blind.

Machines are powerful. They help people save lots of trouble. Machines are cold. They do nothing else except following the program. I know it’s clichéd to say that people should be the master of their own destiny, but that is true for every generation. From my perspective, technology should be used to improve people’s living condition, not to change who we are. Nobody wants a society full of weak and useless people. Technology sure is a good thing, but only if it is applied appropriately to make the world a better place, which in my dictionary means closer intercourse, happier lives, better environment and an all-embracing society. And I think this is the future we are all glad to see it coming.