Author: enp12

A post for the older, wiser, Edward Perenyi

Oh hey there future me. How’s it going? First of all I would like to congratulate you for reading this, that means you’re not dead or in jail, good for you.  Hopefully you’re living the good life in a city where wearing sweatpants in public is still socially acceptable. If you aren’t currently in sweatpants, you should go put them on because they are great, I’m actually writing this reflection in them and it is amazing. But you’re probably not here for talk on glorious sweatpants, because this is information you are already aware of. Rather, you’re in search of some important and interesting stuff we covered in this class because your concussion-ravaged brain can’t remember shit anymore. That’s cool, I got you covered.

First things first, remember that this class really helped you branch out creatively and really think about how to compose things that don’t suck. CBA killed your soul and made you really boring for a while. This was a class that enabled you to start thinking on a creative scale again, and not just about metrics and strategy. Although DJ Spooky’s writing was arguably some of the most frustrating work ever, it really helped you examine the underlying concepts of creativity and how everything is a derivative of something. This whole notion of the archive and everything coming from an archive made you pay closer attention to your life and figure out where your major influences come from. Also tangentially, don’t forget that thing by Judith “Jack” Halbertsam, that article was really good. You should reread it.

Probably the best way to help you get things from this post is to go over the work we did, and then give a little gloss about influences or something, I dunno, I have like four days left of college and I’m kind of zoning out writing this.

Photo Recovery Story:

coverpage web ready

You did a photo essay on your good friend Josh. It was called Home and it was pretty OK. Could have been better, but I mean, it wasn’t bad I think if you put more effort into it, it could have ended up something similar to this http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2010/01/08/nyregion/2010-hardware-ss_index.html or this http://jamesmollison.com/books/where-children-sleep/. These photo essays were amazing and at the time, gave you the inspiration for the project. The point of this recovery project was “to bring to life something that has been forgotten, undocumented, untold, or un-archived.” Keep that goal in mind for pretty much any fun projects you do going forward because it makes you decide what is important, and deserves to be archived.

 

The second photo essay you did was hella better, or at least had better images. It wasn’t for class, but the stuff we talked about for the course really helped out in taking the photos around Oakland. Also remember Oakland with the sort of photo essay you did on it.

The Oakland Collection

Hopefully you’re still doing photography, if not, why did you stop. That’s stupid. Go find your camera and document some shit. You’re failing as a Citizen Archivist;  moron.

Sound Project:

Forget this project ever happened.

 

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Citizen Portrait:

So what the project didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to. It got a few chuckles, and really in the end that’s all that matters. Right? Sure, whatever. This project was actually awesome, and hopefully you’ve gotten off your lazy ass and are making movies again because it makes you happy. This was by far the best section of the class, and always go to http://www.shortoftheweek.com/. This is pretty much the greatest site you’ve ever been exposed to, and it helped rekindle your love of movies and documentaries. You should probably watch a Brief History of John Baldessari if you want to laugh at a great documentary, or re-watch Amar if you want all of the feels.

Website:

Remember how you couldn’t do anything for you website, and then by the end you had a relatively well function page? That was pretty great. Hopefully you’ve gotten better and can actually add fonts and center things without losing your mind every time it doesn’t work. Check out http://www.w3schools.com/html/default.asp because it’s free and probably the most helpful thing out there for learning (or relearning) website stuff.

Just in case you forgot our webpage is http://edwardperenyi.x10.mx/ hopefully it’s still there. Also hopefully you don’t have to be reminded that god awful sound project, because it’s getting taken down right after this class is over.

Remixing and creativity:

The biggest takeaway from this class is exploring creativity as a result of the archive. Without the archive there is no creativity or progress. Everything is built off of something, so remember where your influences come from, and always be on the lookout for new ones, even if at first they are confusing and don’t make sense. So, in conclusion, get off your lazy sweatpants-wearing ass and go contribute to the ever expanding archive. Go be the citizen archivist this class prepared you to be. Be a part of the future by documenting the present before it becomes the past. Do all of this NOW. Unless you’re currently on Ambien, which is a distinct possibility. In that case, go to bed, I don’t need you running around on Ambien, that’s how you end up dead or in jail.

 

 

 

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Lighting Effects

Since most of us are shooting in real world situations and don’t have too much control over the environment, changing the lighting and exposure levels of the film can be really helpful tool. This is particularly true for those not using dSLR or other cameras that do not have exposure settings that help correct for the lighting situations of a particular shoot. It is important to note that this different from using the color correction workspace to change a films luminescence. While this can be used to correct certain problems like over-exposure, it is unable to change specific lighting elements within the shot. FULL DISCLOSURE: the screen shots are taken directly from this tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsZOhSSvOfw

 

Changing the lighting of a scene follows a fairly similar process as the color correcting techniques discussed in the CS4: GS 07. There are a lot of different options in changing the lighting and exposure levels of a piece of film, but for this post I will be focusing on the “spotlight” technique.

 

HOW TO USE SPOTLIGHT:

Implementing the beginning technique is exactly the same as any other effect. Find the video effects, then click the “adjust tab.” (This part can be seen at the 1:118 mark of GS07). In this tab will be the lighting effects. Pull the effect onto the clip you want to edit.

This screenshot, taken from the tutorial, shows what the scene looks like without any editing.

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In the lighting effects tab, there are a few different options to work with, but for now just work with “light 1” by clicking the drop down tab next to it. In here you can select the kind of lighting effect you wish to use, like spotlight.

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Once you select the spotlight effect there should be a large oval section of light that appears on the clip.

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You can edit the direction, intensity and other factors of this effect easily. Right next to lighting effects there is a little box, by clicking on the box, you expose the parameters of the light on your shot.

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With this box you can edit how wide, tall, or direction of the spotlight effect. You can also change most of these parameters in the effect box. Most of the changes you will need to make will be based on what your needs are for the particular shot, so playing around with these settings is really the best way to achieve the look you want.

 

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For a better tutorial on spotlighting as well as effects like omni lighting, check out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsZOhSSvOfw It is INCREDIBLY helpful and can save shots that otherwise would be unable to use.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meeting Amar

All great achievements require time. By the end of this documentary, the viewer feels like they know the great achievements Amar is capable of, and the ones he desires. Really, there are two compositional techniques that the director uses to beautifully accomplish this feat, extreme close ups, and lack of sound.

The first shots of the piece show an entire family, cramped into a small apartment. The camera pans over the tangle of bodies, all in a cool blue light and eventually, the lens finds our protagonist. Making quick cuts between the family and Amar establish that he stands out, that he will be the focus of the documentary. Amar is the fist person we see completely alone, and engaging in a specific action (washing hair/brushing teeth). From the beginning, all shots of Amar are either close ups or ecus. This creates a distinct intimacy with the protagonist, it feels like it is just the viewer and the subject.

When Amar leaves his apartment, before the sun even rises, we see him riding his bike, and the camera follows his actions, still in close-up form. He does not appear to be alone because we are with him, we feel like we are riding along side, and with him when he goes to pick up the papers. This makes the extreme long shot at 2:30 a particular jarring and sobering experience. The viewers can see just how alone this young boy is at 4 in the morning, riding his bike down a shady ally between apartment buildings. The only light is from a streetlamp, and the cold blue light that comes from the early pre-dawn hours. This is the first time in the film when we are not right there with Amar, sharing his experiences.

The intimacy between the viewer and the subject the director creates is on full display when Amar is in class, and we hear him talk for the first time. This scene is as startling, jarring, and insightful as the first long establishing shot, when we realize we are not actually riding with Amar. The best analogy for this classroom scene is when a popular book gets converted into a film. Fans know the characters well, and despite the fact that they know their motivations, their backstory, their life, they don’t know how they sound. When they hear the actors voice for the first time, often it is not what they imagined it would be. The same is true for Amar. Even though we’ve been with him for only 6 minutes, we feel like we truly know this boy, we see the clothes he wears, the work he does, the words he studies, we feel like we’ve know him and his routine forever.

Not hearing Amar speak until 6 minutes in (he doesn’t speak again until the end of the film) also helps with intimacy. This seems counter intuitive, but by not speaking we actually feel closer with the subject. On an emotional level, it is like best friends, who know each other so well they don’t feel the need to pass time with small talk, they just revel in the moments they spend together. In the extreme close-ups we often see a little smile in the corner of Amar’s face, reinforces this feeling.  There is also a practical reason behind not having Amar speak; it makes the film universal. Any one in the world can watch this film and follow it. If Amar spoke, it would tie the movie to a specific market, and if subtitles would be used, we would not feel the same emotional connection to the subject. Instead of looking at every detail of Amar’s life, and learning about him visually, we would be concerned with what he was saying and listening to the how he pronounced words. Just having the noise of the city in the background is enough to immerse the viewer in Amar’s day.

 

Other Observations:

1. Soft focus: While at times it was a little overused, I enjoyed the way the director would focus on Amar and have everything blurry in the background, then change and show the detail of the environment and blur the subject. Helps the viewer focus on one thing at a time.

2. Overwhelming intimacy: When Amar first goes to school, and we the sea of children, the ecu’s make the scene claustrophobic and overwhelming. We lose Amar and are stuck in a crowd of school kids , and we can see each of their faces. The subject gets to stand out again in the classroom though.

3. The literal interpretation of the “time” in “All great achievements require time” was also a fantastic choice. Showing the time of day to take the viewer through Amar’s day in a linear fashion was beautiful.

4. Amar works really hard.

Auto Duck

The auto duck feature in Audacity is a very useful effect if you want to do voiceovers. Basically, this effect links two tracks together, a control track and a background track. The volume of the background track decreases if a certain dB level is reached in the control track. This allows you to run a background track throughout a piece, which can be louder when there is no over lapping audio, and softer when another track is being played. The auto duck feature saves time by automating the volume process, rather than the user going to each overlapping section and creating an envelope over one track. Auto ducking also creates uniform volume control, whereas enveloping individual sections to the same volume may be tricky.

How to Auto duck:

The first step is to place the control track BELOW the background track. For this example I used a song for the background (track 1) and a voice recording for track 2.

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Select the background track, and make sure to DESELECT the control track.

Once the background track is highlighted, go to EFFECTS, Auto Duck

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A prompt will come up with the parameters and a graph. The graph shows the fade in and fade out, as well as how many dB’s the volume will drop.

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The fade in and out length can be adjusted in these parameters, as well as how much the volume will “duck.” The “Threshold” is used to detect volume in the control track.

After these parameters are set, click ok, and your tracks will change. While this is not a particularly pretty example, for long, sustained recordings over background music, the auto duck effect is extremely helpful.

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This American Life Powers: Activate!

The entire structure, content and execution of the “Superpowers” episode of This American Life, seems to deal with one overall prevailing theme of fear and insecurity. Each section of this four-part program looks to address this theme in a slightly different way that builds off of the previous act.

This American Life begins to explore this theme right away in the prologue, which features the host, Ira Glass, and a comic book artist, Chris Ware. The prologue isn’t in an interview format, like the following three segments, but is almost a call and response type discussion. Glass will make a statement, which complements (not compliments) the story being told, to which Ware’s voice comes in to continue the train of though from the host. It’s not question/answer, more like two similar narratives are being told, playing off of one another.

The prologue addresses the theme of fear and insecurity in the opening lines by Glass “when we were weak, we told ourselves to be strong…” Ware continues this sentiment not only in his story of being “the most loathed kid in his class,” but also in his tone of voice. When he talks about his childhood experiences, he stutters, speaks softly, and doesn’t particularly speak with conviction. His voice doesn’t conjure up an image of a grown man, rather we can still hear and envision that child who thought wearing superhero costumers under his clothing would give him power.

After the prologue the next three segments follow a similar format, but tells the narrative theme in a different fashion. The first real portion of the program uses more of an interview technique than the prologue.  In the intro John Hodgman discusses a question he posed to people and what that question meant. The progression of the section goes from whimsical and humorous (who doesn’t want to be “Going to Paris Man) to dark and reflective in fairly short order. From the simple original question posed in the segment, respondents feel like they are revealing deep dark secrets about themselves. The theme of insecurity and is overt in this section, with responses like: “It all has to do it guile. Wanting to be invisible means that you’re a more guileful person. If you want to fly, it means you’re guileless. And I think the reason that I’m so conflicted about flying versus invisibility is that I have guile. But I really wish that I didn’t.” But more than just the words, the way they are spoken have significant meaning.

Just like the introduction, the way this section utilizes voice is as important as the narrative. The people who respond to the questions have audible hesitation in their voice, it cracks and some can’t even respond to Hodgman’s questions. Even the host of the segment doesn’t seem to use his normal voice, instead of a higher pitched tone that can be heard in his standup, he speaks very low and deliberate tone. This could be because he felt that it gave more gravitas to the story, or even maybe that a deep, soft spoken voice would elicit the image of a psychiatrist, posing this superhero question on patients.

The reason I focused on these two particular segments is because they seem to represent the program as a whole. Each part of “Superpowers” is slightly different from the part preceding it, but contains enough of the same format to tie everything together. All four of the sections of this piece utilize sound of voice (both narrator and subject), and musical cues to break up the discussion. Even the last segment, which is a radical departure from the previous segments in terms of structure, contains these elements.

Instead of having an interviewer ask questions and subjects respond, only to have their voice crack, or pause to indicate hesitation, the character in the story ranges from cool and collected (talking about his new rocketship), to wild and out of control (describing how Superman does literally nothing). His tone goes from deep and smooth to shrill in the same sentence. Whenever this change happens it’s at a point in the story at which sees the character facing a crisis, a fear of something he doesn’t understand. Why doesn’t Superman do anything? Why doesn’t Superman look at him? Why does everybody love Superman? These phrases are said in an exacerbated manner, out of breath and fearful. Once he rationalizes these thoughts, it goes back to smooth and controlled, (Superman doesn’t do anything because he’s always superman, Superman doesn’t look at him because he thinks “I’m not worth his time,” people love Superman because they don’t realize how much of a fake he is). Even if the listener is not paying attention to what is being said, they can still hear the fear, frustration and doubt in the subjects voice.

It’s the tone of voice, the shift in the spoken sound that drives the narrative of Superpowers home. The content of each section brings up the fear and insecurities of everyday life, but it’s the way the content is read that brings it alive. If the entire program were read in John Hodgeman’s low assured voice, the listener would never get the full picture. This is what I hope to take away from this exercise, and incorporate into my project: the power of voice as a narrative tool.

 

 

Photo effects in CSS

While creating this effect is fairly simple to do in Photoshop, it can also be performed solely through CSS and HTML. It is very simple process that gives a pretty cool result. The reason to do this technique is CSS rather than Photoshop is that if you do not like how the effect turned out, instead of going back in to photoshop to redo the entire vignette, the problem can be fixed easily in the CSS code.

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 The first step is to create a div with the desired image set as the background. The picture I’m using for this post is taken directly from my recovery project, so I know the exact dimension already (900*600). Once the dimensions are set begin coding for the webkit (which helps render CSS elements for browsers) and select  “box shadow.” Enter down a line and code the “inset” and set  the vertical and horizontal offset (the first two numbers) to 0. After this select a color, most likely #000, which is black. I repeated this process three times because with only one inset, the edges were not quite dark enough.  Use the same inset shadow for all three different browsers (webkit, moz, and box-shadow).  

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I used a 200px shadow in my photo due to its size, but each image is unique and the size of the shadow should be tailored as such.

This is just a simple div class, there is no special HTML coding that is required.

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Before

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Sync Big!

The website that I will use as an example for this analysis is http://www.numero10.ch/fr/home, which is for a French communication firm. On the most basic level, this design works because of high contrast, not only in the colors but in the font as well. There is a simple white background and black text, which stands out. The yellow circle and hot pink boxes really stand out against the black and white images and add impact to what the web page is saying.

The website first struck me through its incredibly striking visuals. The art used in this example is stunning and tells a story in a unique and clever way. The vast black areas work as a great border in between pages, and often contain artwork that leads the viewers eyes down to the next section of the site.

The font works very well in conjunction with the artwork. The hand drawn nature of the images, as well as the shading and subject give the background a surreal feeling, mixed with a street or comic art styling. The multiple fonts, from scripts, to bubble letters reflect the distinct street style. Many of the fonts in use brushes to create a special texture on the letters, as if they were hand painted. The header and footer use traditional serif fonts for the titles while using sans serif fonts for the body copy. This works because it makes the copy not seem austere, and is still distinct enough from the main body text to not be confused with the narrative.

One of the most effective and interesting aspects of this website, besides the visuals, is the parallax structure of the page. This essentially means that the text and images are scrolling at different speeds. Creating a parallax webpage gives depth to the content, by making it seem like the text is floating off of the background image.

This structure also enables to have the header follow the text all the way down the page so the user can constantly make the connection between content and company. The structure also eliminates the traditional nav bar, which is beneficial because user does not have to switch between different pages or tabs to get information, it all just scrolls from the landing page. There is a menu bar to help direct users to different sections of the page so they do not have to scroll through searching for content.

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