Animation Story Board by Stephanie

story board 2

This is an animation about two balloons. One is in the real world, the other is in the reflected cartoon world. At first, you may not see that they are two balloons, but gradually you will see the relationship between the two balloons. In the end, the two balloons are united and they merge into one balloon with the shape of heart. This is a story about finding love.

The balloons are painted in PhotoShop in different layers.

气球 气球右 气球左

All the backgrounds are ready to be changed, but I want to create a feeling that the right side balloon is the left side balloon in another world.

Final Cut by Stephanie and Luke

In this final version, we deleted the text titles and added a new background music. Also, we re-cut the third part in this film. We kept the audio of the boss and the girlfriend, because we thought this weird combination of the audio and the video can create some laughter for viewers.

Reflection by Stephanie:

I want to divide our process of film making into three parts: Storyboard, shooting and editing.

In the process of storyboard, Luke and I decided to make a short film about dream in classroom. And we tried to draw our idea onto the paper. Although some of the draws did not appear in this final edit, I still think this storyboard greatly helped our shooting.

As for shooting, we did all our shots in three days. The first day we shot all the scenes in the classroom. We invited two sophomores to act as the background and Luke starred in it. Also, we shot the clock as the transition clips for later use. The second day we went to the IFC to shot the building, Luke’s jump into the dream and his walking into the building. We met some difficulties in there. Because that day the sun was really big and we had to increase the ISO of the camera, which led to some post-production problems. I think our shots of the IFC were great, but there were still some problems. Because I hand-took the camera, thus some clips were a little bit shaky, and we did not get a great record from the TASCAM. The third day we shot everything in the office in Marianne’s office (Thank you so much for lending us your office, Marianne!). We shot a little bit too much in the office, and we failed to get a clear record of the boss speaking. And Luke’s answering cellphone was weird in some sense.

We started editing pretty early. In fact, I would cut out the clips that we needed in the film right after we shot them, which I think save us great time. Because our storyboard was really clear and straight forward, getting the clips out from each video was not a difficult job. But the most difficult part was the editing. Because many frames were too repetitive, we had to cut off some frames to make everything more consistent and fast. This was a struggle, but we managed to do that with some transition effects. The biggest problem we faced in the process of editing was audio quality. Although we used TASCAM during shooting, we did not point it right to the people who were speaking. So we had to re-record three audio: teacher’s voice, boss’s voice and girlfriend’s voice. We must thank Nick for his recording, because that added some much fun onto this film. And we had to thank Saphya for being the girlfriend’s voice. However, in the editing process, we kept the original boss’s voice from the video, because that sounded more natural. But I do admit the audio still has some problems.

When I am writing everything about the film now, everything seems so easy and simple. But when Luke and I were shooting it, editing it, there seemed nothing was right. I think I have a great partner, who is great in acting and editing. I need to thank him so much. As for myself, I managed to get familiar with Premiere and Audition, and how to shot film. This is such a great experience.

Reflections to Sita Sings the Blues

I would say, I am impressed by Nina Paley’s individual effort in making an animation on her own. This animation connects the Hindu epic with her real life. However, it may seem confused at first why she should put two topics which seemingly are completely unrelated in one animation. But after watching the whole animation, I think there are certain themes that the two topics share: the betrayal of men and the determination of women.

(“THE GREATEST BREAK-UP STORY EVER TOLD”, classic)

In the Hindu epic, she focuses on the story of Sita. In the story, although Sita has done so much for her husband, she is still questioned for her sacristy by the man she loves. Sita is willing to die to prove her loyalty to her husband. Or maybe she is also heartbroken. In the real life, Nina loves her husband and is willing to follow him to India. However, her husband abandons her while she is in New York. But different from the ending of Sita, Nina finds her spirit back by studying Ramayana.

When I was watching this animation, I found four different style of drawing. I think this variation provides the viewers a clear signal of changing of setting or story. However, I am not fond of all the style. Some styles are just too trivial and over-colored. And this animation is way too long, and some frames are meaningless to me. Some animations are just repetitive of the previous ones, which only serve to extend the duration of the animation. And this repetition will make viewers boring while watching.

When professor mentioned the controversy this animation caused, I thought that would be the protest from the Hindu people. Because there are certain clips that Nina makes some inappropriate narrative in the animation. But after I searched online, I found that there was another huge controversy over this animation, which is the copyright issue of the Blues song by Annette Hanshaw. (I guess that is the reason why this animation is called Sita Sings the Blues, because in the musical part of this animation, Annette’s voice sings the experience and feelings for Sita.) This seems alike with the controversy on The Molotov Man and The Grey Album. What’s more, there is an interesting to be noticed in the beginning of this animation. Nina uses the words “Your Name Here presents”, “in association with Your Money”, “a Funded by You production”. I do not know whether it is an answer to the controversy, but this seems an innovative approach to the copyright issue.

Although there are some stylistic differences that I have with this animation, I still admire Nina Paley’s effort in finishing this animation. But there is one more question that lingers in my mind: Nina Paley uses her real life experience in the movie, is she violating the right of her ex-husband?

Stephanie and Luke’s Rough Cut

This rough cut has four sections. The first is in the classroom, the second is in front of the IFC, the third is in the office and the fourth is in the classroom again. We use titles to indicate the change of time and space. This is only the rough cut, so there are still a lot of adjustments that we will going to add in the final cut.

Storyboard – Stephanie and Luke

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Abstract of the story: On one normal GPS recitation, the main character falls asleep as usual. However, as he wakes up all of a sudden, he finds himself in a complete different spot: He is in front of the International Financial Center. And he has changed his clothes into business formal. He is told to work, and he finds out his work is really boring as well as tiring. After he ends a day’s work, he gets a phone call from a woman claims to be his girlfriend. She yells at him for being late for their date once again. He morns for his current life and rushes to the rendezvous but hits by a car. But he wakes up when he is hit by the car, he finds out everything before is just a dream. He is still in the GPS recitation.

 

 

Reflection on Remix and Plagiarism

The Ecstasy of Influence

“You cannot steal a gift!” In Jonathan Lethem article on plagiarism, this sentence catches my attention. In the many examples he gives, it is pretty convincing that most of the great work all have something inspired from other work. If we are really strict on plagiarism, then a lot of classics will not be able to be published. Shakespeare, the South Park, Star Trek, etc. all have elements borrowed from others, can we thus deny their influence on human? We are constantly inspired by the world we live in, and we are constantly inspired by other people in the world. It is really hard to tell the difference between inspiration and plagiarism.

Also Lethem mentions two concepts: gift and commodity exchange. “The daily commerce of our lives proceeds at its own constant level, but a gift conveys an uncommodifiable surplus of inspiration. (Lethem 66)” So I guess when it comes to the commodity exchange, people would call out “Plagiarism!” as soon as they depict resemblance in two different commodities. However when it comes to the gift, it represents more like a commons, which is meant for the vast majority. It is because of the gift that we have the opportunity to see so many great classic in our lives.

This article has somehow changed my perception of plagiarism. Normally I would say any resemblance in an art work without any citation is plagiarism. Now I find out there have been so many adaptations and resemblances in so many classics, hence realizing there is a blurred distinction between inspiration and plagiarism. As for me who live in China throughout my life, I rarely see plagiarism law suit happen here. We Chinese people do lack the conscience of patent. We are so used to buy cheap books, download movies and music online, and copying and pasting other people’s work into our own work. Thus the issue raised in this article seems so far away from me. However blurred the distinction between inspiration and plagiarism, we still need to protect the work and effort of others and do not plagiarize.

Embrace the Remix

In Kirby Ferguson’s TED talk, remix is defined not just as copying, transforming and combing. He states that everything is a remix, which is a better way to conceive creativity. Even something we have patented, for example like Apple’s Multi-Touch, they are just small part of a big thing. One thing that I find interesting is that Ferguson says “[creativity] comes from without, not from within, dependent on others.” His new insight on creativity may be opposed to the conventions we long know. But in this digital age, everything is connected, and everything can affect another thing. It is really hard to define what your own creation is and what is inspired by others. The new view on creativity may be the new incentive of more and more creation.

Everything is a Remix

In part II, Kirby Ferguson mainly talks about the remix of movies. Movies have always been spotlight of adaptation. There have been so many books, games, etc. being adapted onto the big screen. What’s interesting to find out is that people want to see the different adaptation of one creation. If it is a book, then people want to see it in cinema or on TV. Ferguson calls it the preference of familiarity of the audience. Ferguson also uses several renowned movies to show the influence of remix. For example, Kill Bill has so many similar shots with other movies, is it a remix or a tribute? “Creation requires influence.” All great works may all have something inspired by other work, how can we decide whether this act is plagiarism, remix or tribute?

In part III, Ferguson examines the elements of creativity. It is interesting to see that he states “copying is how we learn” and “nobody can start off original”. In fact, many new creations come from transformation. With the copying to learn, transforming to create and combining to renovate, many breakthroughs happen. It is true that so many creations, thoughts, etc. that we have today and we use today are the descendants of their original ancestor. Without the further development of an existed thought or idea, human race cannot process this fast. It is worth noting that Ferguson only mentions “copy, transform and combine” in the remix of creation. It may be true. Steve Jobs learned computer from already existed computers, Leonard Da Vinci learned sketching eggs when he became famous. But what makes them so successful is more than taking and combining from others, it is their talent and thought. Thus it is alright to conclude that it is the unique idea of people that adds new lights on the original ideas.

In part IV, Ferguson talks about the remix in the biological and social sphere, and raises the notion in opposition to “idea as property”. Ideas are free before, but not now. What adds value to idea, something so conceptual? It may be the result of a commercialized market. We are not interested in “common good” but in “individual property”. In order to protect the so-called property, we claim value to idea. Another thing to be noticed in this part is that we have a second standard as to the property of idea. “When we copy, we justify it. When other copy, we vilify it.” Although nowadays many laws and regulations have been signed in order to protect the property, they are still not universal but self-centered.

“Everything is a remix.” Ferguson talks about the remix in entertainment, society, biology, etc. to show the universality of “copying, transforming and combining”. Remix is the path for human to develop faster and better. We may need to change our conventional idea about copying. Sometimes copying is not just plagiarism, but the beginning point of the greatest change.

Comic Panels Creating Journal by Mary Kate, Angela and Stephanie

FIANL 2

(Final Version)

After today’s class, we change the order and layout of the comic panels. We know use vertical layout to demonstrate the changing of time, also making the rain dropping more naturally. Also, we change the size of the talking bubble and some background of panels. Putting all panels in a vertical do help readers read easily.

Mary Kate

The making of this “summer rain” comic panel was a very fun process that I thoroughly enjoyed and learned a lot from, especially from the heavy use of photoshop which I had no experience with before. As a group, we first decided what we wanted to do, how we wanted to show it and I think a lot was influenced from reading McCloud’s “Understanding comics”. “Summer Rain” shows how the weather changes from sunny to cloudy to rain and the effects that this has on the other elements in the text, and in addition we have a comic type character (not realistic) who is interacting directly with the audience and experiencing this change in weather. We settled upon showing traditional rectangular panels in sequence and from reading McCloud, playing with how to shows changes that happen in a day from sun to rain, and changes in time through our different panels, so the reader experiences ‘closure’. Like McCloud is talking directly to his readers, we wanted to try having our character also talk directly with the reader to increase the reader experience and make the panel more friendly. Using a cartoony character allows the reader to also identify more with the character because he is less realistic and the reader can position himself/herself in place of the cartoon character. Our choice of colours and background make it more cartoon type and less realistic to give it a more imaginary feeling. Our story not only describes time but also incorporates motion adapted from McCloud’s book.

I really enjoyed the process of finding the cartoon character and placing him in the background drew by my group mate. Although I had a lot of fun learning how to use photoshop, it was indeed a very long and time consuming process. I played with colours, adding in shadows and more colours to the original background to fit with the weather of a particular panel. I tried my best to show the shadow effects of the tree and on the character to match the sun and other elements in the background to make it a more symbiotic piece and make the panels as realistic as I could. I played a lot with the paintbrush tool, the smudge tool, the burn and dodge tool as well as the cloning tool in order to achieve the effects that I desired to see in the panel. I learnt the value of creating different layers in order to add/remove effects without affecting the rest of the layers involved. I think that adding/removing colours and playing with shadows is a very meticulous process. I also frequently consulted my group mates’ opinions and ideas to make sure we all liked the panels, which enriched the whole process. We discussed a lot as a group about the messages we wanted to convey, of the little boy wanting to play in the sun but the rain comes to take his pleasure away, and we also discussed together as a group deciding on a title for our comic.

All in all, I think it was a very fun process and I definitely learnt a lot from it and I am glad that I know more about photoshop now!

Stephanie

It has been such a great fun in creating comic panels with other people, because in the conversation and collaboration the idea that we initially started with would change into something brilliant that none of us had expected before. Nothing can be predicted and planned in the very beginning, but come along in the process of creating.

We first came up with the idea of implementing changes in the panels, after some discussion, Mary Kate and I decided to use weather change as the main background, and also added one main character. After our discussion, I used Wacom Drawing Tablet to draw the blue sky and green tree in Photoshop. This process was really fun but weary because Photoshop was not the perfect software to draw. However, I struggled to find the brushes and colors that I wanted and painted the background. Later, I used some Photoshop techniques to create the changes in the background. I changed the brightness in each different background and I added clouds to indicate the weather change. Also, I added some rain on the last two backgrounds. I only painted one background but in all created five different backgrounds to demonstrate the weather changing from sunny to rainy. I think this process of change was inspired by Scott McCloud Understanding Comics. McCloud himself demonstrates the changes in several of methods. Although we cannot see the changes with our eyes between two panels, our common sense and imagination will create the changes automatically in our mind. So I think this was the main reason that I used sun-cloud-rain to show the changing of the background.

After I created the different backgrounds, I passed the work along to Mary Kate and Angela for them to creating the main character. When we met, I found the main character resonated so well with the background. Also, the changes of the character showed the changes as well. In order to better communicate with the readers, we decided to add talking bubbles to the main character, just as McCloud does in his work. McCloud lets his main character talking directly to the readers which makes the knowledge he wants to pass along clearer. We wanted to have the same effect and we also wanted to use the language in the talking bubble to show the changes as well.

We named our panels after we had created every panel, which might seem a bit odd. We gave the panels a name Summer Rain for it represented the weather changes and it was also a common natural thing to happen. When I was combing all the panels together by Photoshop, I painted the title of our panels in the top left corner with brushed in Photoshop.

I find the process of creating comic panels really interesting but so time-consuming, thus I better understand and admire the people who work in this industry. What’s more, I better understand why McCloud would consider comics as universality, because everyone has encountered sudden rain in a sunny day. We did not use the simple color, black and white, as McCloud does in his work. But I think the color and the way of painting have added more realistic elements in our panels. In all, I really like the process of creating comic panels and like the comic panels our group has created together.

FINAL 1

(Previous Version)

Angela

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.

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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The Invisible Art: Reflections to Understanding Comics

Understanding Comics is more than a comic book. Scott McCloud uses simple and illustrative comics to demonstrate the history and characteristic of comics as a form of art. At first I do not understand why he would have the subtitle as The Invisible Art. In my knowledge, comics may not be receiving the same acclaim of traditional paintings, it is still an accepted art form. While I read the “struggle” of McCloud trying to give a definition of comics, I see the reason why he calls comics as “the invisible art”. We have confused comics with other forms of art, and we have encountered with comics almost anywhere in life thus losing the clear mind of what comics actually is. The invisibility is not that comics is not being realized as a form of art, but the fact that it is almost everywhere.

McCloud uses the main character, the boy with glasses, to demonstrate the skills of comic painting, story-telling, layout, etc. As a reader, it is extremely easy to accept all the professional knowledge of comic drawing because McCloud writes/draws in a way that he seems to be talking directly to readers.

I find it really amazing that McCloud puts forward the notion of universality of comics in his work. He claims that by abstracting the specific characteristics of a character, people will tend to connect more to the character. Also I think the universality of comics also lies in the fact that anyone can pick up a pen to draw, however well or bad. This universal act of drawing contributes to the wide-spread understanding and resonation of comics. Also, he relates our childhood appreciation of cartoon: “I believe this is the primary cause of our childhood fascination with cartoons. Though other factors such as universal identification, simplicity and the childlike features also play a part. (McCloud 36)”

Although I am not a fan of comics and extremely disliked the cartoon drawing when I learned to paint in my childhood, I think McCloud has shed new lights on the understanding of comics. Indeed, he has led me into the understanding and appreciation of comics. Comics is more than drawing, it is a concept. Behind the comics there are a world to be discovered.

A Thousand Possibilities: Reflections of On the Rights of Molotov Man

Shakespeare once wrote that “there are a thousand Hamlet in a thousand people’s eye.” As I interpret this line, I would tend to think the reason for a thousand Hamlet is because a thousand people have different perception, different perspective, different background in seeing the same thing, and these difference can greatly influence the outcome, in other words, the characteristic of Hamlet.

 

In On the Rights of Molotov Man, though it mainly focuses on two forms of art of Molotov Man – the original photo from Susan Meiselas and the painting inspired by the photo by Joy Garnett, I cannot stop noticing that there are also other forms of adaption of the Molotov Man. It is truly a thousand possibilities. Typing in “Molotov Man” in Google Images, I find countless images of Molotov Man, or its adaption. In the digital age as we are in right now, it is inevitable that there may be more than one form of a single art work. People may say that art work does not have a nationality boundary, thus we can see the Molotov Man in Latin American appear in different countries with different purposes, even as a commercial.

I do think Joy Garnett violates the copyright of Susan Meiselas, and I think that he does not view himself wrong, in fact, he tries to justify himself by causing further reactions from other people’s further adaption of Molotov Man. He may be thinking that the more adaption from different people may lay the pressure on Susan Meiselas that she may decide quitting suing him. And he seems to compromise by putting Susan Meiselas name beside his painting. But as a painter, he seems to lack the understanding and awareness of copyright, and lack the respect of other people’s work. He seems to be taking the talents of other people when his is exhausted.

 

 

 

However, the problem Joy Garnett reflects is more than the lack of awareness of copyright, it is the uprising trend of decontextualization and dislocation of art work. When an art work is done, it has its uniqueness in time and space, just as Walter Benjamin mentions in his The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, the “aura” of the art work is the essence. I do not want to discuss whether or not photography can be viewed as a category of art, but I do think the replicas of the art work lack the “aura”, which means the uniqueness in time and space. Just as the Molotov Man, the original photograph is famous in its Nicaraguan context as a symbol of the Sandanista revolution. The replicas lack the context of the original photograph, and what they emphasize and portrait are the rage, regardless of what cause this action. This is the reason why there will be a thousand version, or more than a thousand version of one art piece. It is not because different people have different perception, perspective and background, but the context of the art piece has been decontextualized, thus people can put the art work in any given context as long as they are comfortable with. As a result, we see a Molotov Man in a Chinese soldier uniform protesting against America in Viet Nam War. We see a Molotov Man on the MacBook throwing an apple instead of a molotov cocktail. They are part of the many possibilities of one single art work.

 

Art is not only about impulsive emotion and feeling. The greatest works all reflect the context of a certain time. Artists like Joy Garnett using other people’s work as inspiration and not respecting the copyright should not justify himself as innocent in the Molotov Man issue. Copyright of one artist’s work should be paid attention to, but there are other things we need to be aware of as well. In a digital time like this, we are indifferent to the decontextualization and dislocation of art works. Even some people view this as their inspiration. However, in the process of decontextualization and dislocation, what still remain, what have been removed, what have been emphasized, what have been neglected, can all change the meaning and value of a certain object. Does context of an art work matter? Should people copyright their context? In a thousand possibilities, there are many remained questions to be thought of and discussed.

Reflection on The Machine Stops

I would think The Machine Stops as a great prediction of the 21st century life, which is written by E. M. Forster more than 100 years ago. The three main characters in this fiction, Vashti, Kuno, and of course, the Machine, can be viewed as the three analogies of the people who are obsessed with Internet and high-tech, the people who are trying to lean back toward the old-fashion, or to say, the humane way of living, and the Internet and high-tech itself.

The fiction proceeded with the conflicts between the three main characters. The most noticeable conflict is the conflict between Vashti and Kuno, the mother and the son. The conflict seems to be the disagreement of paying Kuno an actual visit by Vashti, but what I see is the two different type of idea trying to fight each other. In the conversation described in the 1st part of the story, I can tell that Vashti worships the Machine so much while Kuno is just the opposite. As Kuno says, “[m]en made it, do not forget that. Great men, but men. The Machine is much, but it is not everything. I see something like you in this plate, but I do not see you. I hear something like you through this telephone, but I do not hear you. That is why I want you to come. Pay me a visit, so that we can meet face to face, and talk about the hops that are in my mind. (Forster 2)” Isn’t that just the case we are encountering every day in life? We seem to keep in touch with our family and friends every day, but do we actually see them? What we see are just the images formed by our computers and smartphones. The more we use the Internet and high-tech to keep in touch, the more we are losing our dearest people. Also, relying on the Internet and high-tech to communicate strongly lead to the society alienation. And this alienation can sabotage the basis of human society. We become so obsessed with our smartphone, and we rarely realize that they have become our masters, ruling our daily life.

In this short fiction, there are also other conflicts: the conflict between Kuno and the Machine, which Kuno tries to escape but being captured and threatened with Homelessness (death); the conflict between Vashti and the Machine, which is described in the last part of this fiction when the Machine stops and people including Vashti are in extreme horror.

There are a lot of things can be written about this short fiction, but there is one thing that I want to point out in addition to its prediction of the 21st century, which is the consent of humans living in the underground world. For example, they take the humming of the Machine as silence because they have never lived a life without the humming of the Machine. However, after the Machine stops, people are uncomfortable with the silence because they have never lived a day without the Machine. So the silence of the humming Machine is one example of the consent of people, which they just take everything for granted and never ask. And there is another example, which is that after the Machine stops, there are problems with the music, but Vashti and her friend soon get used to the broken music and taken it for granted. That is consent, the unquestionable consent to the Machine.

E. M. Forster wrote the end of humans of the post-apocalyptic underground world as dying with the Machine, but he also wrote in the voice of Kuno, Vashti’s son, that humans who lived above the ground would learn the lesson and continue to strive.He hides his concern about the relationship between humans and the Machine in this short fiction, and the world he described 100 years ago now has become part or most part of the reality. We are under the impact of the Machine, and somehow the Machine’s slave, because some people cannot bear the life without the Internet and high-tech. The technology should be helping people’s life, not ruining it. It is leave to us to find out the relationship between humans and the Machine, the relationship between humans, and the importance of actual relationship and communication between people.

Only when the Machine stops can humanity find out the important things in their life.