Project Ideas

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My project will be looking at stop motion animation. This was inspired by last week’s Out of Hand exhibition and it’s featured work ‘Faces used for Paranorman’ as well as my blog post on my one of my idols Tim Burton. I also would like to apply the theme ‘materialising the digital’ into my artwork as I want to create something that is both digital and something that is physical allowing the audience to better connect and experience the piece. Brainstorming in class today I came up with two ideas. This blog post will be a starting off point from which (hopefully) one of my two ideas will blossom.

My first idea actually consists of both Claymation and stop-motion animation. Through this I will create a puppet which will feature in a short video clip. The storyline or character is something I have not begun thinking about yet but would maybe have a similar style/ theme to those in Tim Burton films. When the piece is finished it will be projected onto a blank wall continuously running on a loop with the puppet figure place next to the video. This way the audience will not only be experiencing the film clip but also being able to interact with the ‘star’ of the show. This could potentially bring them closer to the work allowing them to connect on a deeper level. The video could either be made completely digital or be shot entirely on analogue film. At the moment sound is not something I have considered but would most likely be non-existent or a background noise of some sort such as the sound of running film footage.

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My second idea again consists of both the physical and the digital. I would create a stop motion animation but instead of using puppets I could make 2D drawings. Throughout the process I would collect all the pieces of paper in which I draw on and make them into my projection screen. As well as seeing the final piece the audience would be able to see my process, the work and the detail that has gone into the project. I would keep the animation minimal so that it could be enlarged and easily projected without completely covering up the physical element. It could allow a deeper insight to know what goes into the work of stop motion animation.

At the moment these are my ideas but if you have any thoughts please comment down below!

Out of Hand: Materialising the Digital

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The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences’ Out of Hand: Materialising the Digital exhibition featured works from over 60 artists. It focuses on the place and impact of digital technology in the design and production of objects (MAAS, 2017). Experiencing the exhibition firsthand there were a number of artworks that gained my attention. These included ‘Who This Am’ 2014, ‘Self Portrait/ Five Part’ 2009 and ‘Faces used for Paranorman’ 2012. These works use different materials but are all created through the same technology that is 3D printing.

As I walked into the exhibition the first piece that I noticed was called ‘Who This Am’ by Kijin Park. The installation was a pallet stacked with bundles of A4 paper and a single cup placed on top. As I took a closer look I found there was binary code printed on the sheets of paper and that the cup was made out of a plastic material. I also noticed there was a speaker at the top of the piece playing sounds of a 3D printer. Reading the artwork’s description, I would never have guessed that 60 871 pages consisting of code would be needed to make one small plastic cup. The impact of the work was emphasised through its scale, something definitely needed to be experienced in person.

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‘Self Portrait/ Five Part’ was created by the American artist Chuck Close in 2009. It consisted of three large jacquard tapestries hung upon the exhibition’s wall. The work was developed through a digital instruction set called a weave file translating the image into data that is read and then woven by an electronic Jacquard loom. The work is a great example of how we can turn something such as a photograph into a materialistic artwork. It shows a different side to technology and something that truly captivated me.

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Lastly, the work that gained my interest more than any other was ‘Faces used for Paranorman’. This piece was created by Laika and also used 3D printing technology. At first it didn’t grab my attention because in the other two artworks scale was a massive factor. The larger something is the quicker my eye focuses on. However, experiencing ‘Faces used for Paranorman’ close up I could see the tiny detail that went into it all. The work took the traditional technique of stop motion animation and combined it with 21st century technology. The 2012 movie, Paranorman, used a total of 40 000 face parts to achieve the illusion of movement. This is called ‘replacement animation’ and uses slightly different parts for each puppet involved. This artwork is probably the most significant and relevant to my own field of practice- editing and filmmaking. It will most likely be the subject in which I focus on in my second assessment.

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Reference:

MAAS, 2017, ‘Out of Hand: Materialising the Digital’, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, viewed 29th March 2017
<https://maas.museum/event/out-of-hand-materialising-the-digital/>

Keeping Wildlife Wild

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In 2013 the documentary, Blackfish was released shedding light on the ongoing issue of breeding killer whales for entertainment purposes. Focusing more so on the SeaWorld organisation and their history with Orcas. The documentary quickly found major success earning a massive $2.6 million at the North America box office (ABC News, 2016). Following this accomplishment, the director Gabriela Cowperthwaite had this to say, “I think Blackfish struck a nerve. I originally came into the film trying to explore the trainer relationship and experience but I didn’t think the documentary would effect change.” Reaction to the documentary prompted bands and singers such as The Beach Boys, Barenaked Ladies, Willie Nelson and Cheap Trick to cancel their concerts at a SeaWorld event in Orlando. Soon after the theme park’s ticket sales dropped and they suffered a $15.9 million loss.  The impact of the documentary was so major that animal activists are now crediting the film for SeaWorld’s 2015 announcement that they will now halter their Orca breeding program, phasing out all live performances. This effect from such a powerful documentary is now making people wonder about the affect of animals as entertainment.

After watching the documentary Blackfish, it really made me wonder about the treatment of other animals in the entertainment industry. A document released by PETA shared a list of animals being subjected for entertainment purposes. This list included greyhound racing, bullfighting, circuses, zoos and many others.

Their statement on animals used for entertainment reads:

“Animals aren’t actors, spectacles to imprison and gawk at, or circus clowns. Yet thousands of these animals are forced to perform silly, confusing tricks under the threat of physical punishment; are carted across the country in cramped and stuffy boxcars or semi-truck trailers; are kept chained or caged in barren, boring and filthy enclosures; and are separated from their families and friends- all for the sake of human ‘entertainment’. Many of these animals even pay with their lives.”

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In 2014, The Guardian published an article titled ‘Blackfish and our lingering obsession with animals as entertainment’. It shares the message that the documentary is a powerful reminder of our obsession with animals as entertainment. It is cruel to justify that it’s okay for humans to perform on animals. We are exploiting creatures who have no say in what happens to their life. A reoccurring theme that was brought up in Blackfish was the relationship between trainer and animal. While the previous SeaWorld trainers were reminiscing the past, they realized that although it felt like they were building a relationship with the animal, it was really a survival instinct from the creature itself. These trainers were justifying their treatment towards the killer whales because they genuinely believed they had a strong connection. However, if you had been kidnapped and forced to do tricks for food and to avoid being locked up in isolation you too would play along. We may think we are doing right by an animal but who are we to assume what is right and what isn’t for someone that cannot defend themselves. So why do we continue to lock up innocent animals for entertainment purposes? While the Australian SeaWorld has never kept Killer Whales it does have seals, dolphins and even polar bears. They have all been taken from their natural environment and kept in small enclosures in humid Queensland. Who knows if the future impact of the documentary Blackfish will help ban the enclosure of these animals too.

The success of the documentary Blackfish sheds light on the animals kept in captivity for entertainment purposes. It may allow the beginning of a new activism approach to the ongoing animal issues. One documentary was the push needed to get SeaWorld to see their wrongdoing and stop live Orca performances. Who knows where future documentaries will take us and what animals they may set free but it is definitely obvious we have a long way to go.

Reference:

Twemlow, J, 2014, ‘Blackfish and our lingering obsession with animals as entertainment’, ABC news, viewed 27th March 2016
<https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2014/nov/10/blackfish-documentary-lingering-obsession-animals-entertainment>

Simmonds, A, ‘Keeping animals in captivity for our own entertainment must stop’, Daily life, viewed 27th March 2016
< http://www.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/dl-opinion/keeping-animals-in-captivity-for-our-own-entertainment-must-stop-20131126-2y7uz.html>

Splendor Board Game Review

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Released in 2014, Splendor is a board game consisting of chip collecting, card development and point systems. It was designed by Marc Andre and published by the French game creation studio, Space Cowboys, who have introduced other games such as Elysium, Black Fleet and T.I.M.E Stories. Splendor is designed for ages 10 and up and can be played between 2-4 players. These players are merchants in the Renaissance period trying to buy gem mines, transportation and shops. Each buy increases an individual’s prestige points and whoever collects the first 15 points wins. The game has an estimated time period of 30 minutes.

Splendor can be purchased online where prices vary from site to site. The cheapest price found was for $39 AUD (including free shipping) on Amazon.com, while the most expensive cost was $92 AUD (plus a $7.95 shipping fee) on TopToy.com.au. At the moment major Australian retail brands such as Kmart, Big W and Target do not stock Splendor in their stores.

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Game components:

  • 5 different coloured gem tokens (7 of each)
  • 5 gold token chips
  • 90 development cards (representing 3 different levels- gem mines, transportation and shops)
  • 10 Noble titles

Game Set-up:

  • The chips are separated according to their gem.
  • The three levels of development cards are to be placed on the table separately. Four cards from each pile are to be laid out face up.
  • Five noble titles are selected at random and placed on the table and the rest are put back into the box.

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Game Instructions:

  1. At the start of the game each player takes turns collecting chips with the option of taking either 3 different kinds of gem tokens or 2 of the same.
  2. With each turn a player has the option of performing one of three acts: collect more chips, buy a card or reserve a card.
  • To buy a card a player must have the correct amount of gem tokens to trade (as shown on the card). Once bought the card then represents the gem shown in the top right-hand corner. The card is equivalent to one gem token and can be used to buy more cards without having to be traded in.
  • To reserve a card a player can take their selected card and place a gold token on top of it until they have enough gems to buy it. A gold token can also be used as an equivalent to whatever gem token they are without.
  1. Once enough cards are collected players may also have the opportunity to take a noble title gaining them even more prestige points.
  2. In the top left-hand corner of each card or noble title is the number of prestige points earned. Once a player has reached 15, the game is over and the player has won.

Rules:

  • Once a card is taken from the table it must be replaced with another one from the deck.
  • A player cannot have more than 10 gem tokens at a time.
  • A player cannot take 2 of the same gem token if there is not 4 or more in a stack.

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Personal Experience:

My first impression of the board game Splendor was just simply appreciating the aesthetics and the beauty that comes with it. Each component captures the Renaissance theme through the extremely detailed images printed on the cards and tokens. It was very obvious how much thought and time the board game’s artist, Pascal Quidault, had put into designing Splendor.
My second impression was that the game’s rules were difficult to understand. The rule book was complicated so we resorted to researching them online and found a series of blogs and videos helping us understand. A few games in, we found even more rules that we hadn’t even applied. This included learning how to reserve a card, the purpose of the gold tokens and the way to acquire noble titles.

What I like most about splendor is the competitive aspect. The more I played the more strategic I became and the more I wanted to win. I noticed this even more so when I played the game, Lanterns, a board game that doesn’t have any confrontation to it. What emphasised this competitive nature even more was the game’s materiality. Watching your personal pile of cards and tokens pile up and making sure you had more than the other players was a similar feeling you get when playing Monopoly and you watch your stack of money grow. It was something that definitely added to the experience.

Overall, Splendor is a game that I would really recommend to others. It is a fun, light-hearted board game that once understood can be played for hours.

Reference:

Mastrangeli, T, 2014, Splendor Review, Board game quest, weblog post, 11th November, viewed 18th March 2016
< http://www.boardgamequest.com/splendor-review/>

Board game geek, 2014, Splendor, Board game geek, weblog post, viewed 18th March 2016
< https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/148228/splendor>

Space Cowboys, 2013, Who are we, The space cowboy games, website, viewed 18th March
< http://www.spacecowboys.fr/pages/home/language:eng>

Wizard, 2014, Splendor- not your normal board game review, Armada games, weblog post, 14th December, viewed 18th March 2016
< https://armadagames.com/splendor/>

Making Opportunity

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Plan your apprenticeship

Searching for film editing jobs I noticed there was definitely no shortage. Many jobs for many different companies were listed online including major corporation Pedestrian TV, Mumbrella, Junkee Media and News Corp Australia. A similar quality that was linking each job together was there required skills:

  • Have a proficiency in editing with adobe Premier Pro/Colour grading, After Effects and Photoshop.
  • Demonstrate video editing ability with a strong portfolio.
  • Familiarity with special effects, 3D and compositing
  • Experience in camera operation, DSLR & digital video cameras, sound equipment and the overall production process
  • Proven work experience as a video editor

Some skills I’ve found are a lot harder to acquire than others. Some jobs ask for a certain number of years’ experience in the industry (journalism, digital media, film or graphic design). A way to count the years I have been involved include the experience I’ve gained through internships, University groups (UOWTV) and projects I’ve done on my own.

Identify three potential mentors

Last year I interned at the digital media agency, Publicis. There I met several potential mentors who guided me through the six weeks I worked there. They helped me not just with my work but also shared their own stories and experiences leading up to their found positions. One person in particular (the digital media executor) gave me the opportunity to list him as a reference for future career endeavours.

Identify target organisations/professionals/pathways

ABC Television offers a two-year paid internship for people studying a relevant tertiary course. It allows an individual to gain insight into television production and gives experience in TV operations, programming, digital, scripted and non-scripted production. ABC TV currently employs over 500 people across Sydney and Melbourne and aims to create, curate and deliver high-quality programming that informs, educates and entertains. At the end of the internship successful applicants have the opportunity to apply for an ongoing position at the ABC. This job would be a great way to get a foot in the industry, meet new contacts, gain potential mentors and get the experience needed to go further in my career.

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Channel Ten are currently looking for digital media interns which would be another great pathway into the film and television industry. The requirements include examples of work relating to digital media and a cover letter outlining 200 words what would you like to learn during the experience. Channel Ten is a major Australian corporation and would allow endless opportunities and career pathways.

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The two job advertisements:

https://www.seek.com.au/job/33036041?type=standard&tier=no_tier&pos=5&whereid=3000&userqueryid=d48c3eb77ea4516fe419a813bcdde9a2-8516898&ref=beta

https://www.pedestrian.tv/jobs/digital-online/digital-media-interns/be9fd003-daf0-4630-8a58-edabd6a2569a.htm

Poverty Porn

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Poverty porn in the screen industry refers to any type of media that exploits the poor’s condition for the entertainment of audiences (Roenigk, 2014). It takes advantage of those who lack any type of agency and who do not have the opportunity to speak on their own behalf. This type of exploitation can be used for purposes such as sale growth or to increase charity donations. Poverty porn can come in differing mediums including newspapers, photographs, films, television shows and even charity campaigns.

In 2015, actor Jack Black took part in the Red Nose Day charity campaign. Their aim was to help raise money and awareness for the less fortunate and disadvantaged children in Uganda. There was a video released that shared Jack Black visiting the country and meeting a young boy by the name of Felix. It shows Black interviewing him whilst giving the audience an insight into the boy’s life- his background, where he sleeps and what he does for money and food. While it may sound like a campaign with good intentions in mind, the use of a celebrity to sponsor the charity actually takes away from the real meaning. For example, the camera angles used throughout the video is aimed towards Jack Black’s facial expressions. It focuses more so on Jack Black’s reaction and him as a person rather than focusing solely on the boy. As an audience we react by empathizing with Black as an individual and what ‘selfless’ act he is performing. A 2015 article by Emily Roenigk, suggests that poverty porn (including this video clip) leads to charity but not activism. It fails to produce a deeper understanding of the issue of poverty but not the necessary structural changes needed to effectively address it. An issue as big as this cannot simply be fixed by a donation and especially not through a campaign such as this one.

Shock advertising is another example of poverty porn as it exploits the less unfortunate without actually explaining their situation or helping them in the long-term. An article that was published in 2014 addresses the belief that emotive charity campaigns are not working anymore. Adverts focusing on ‘hopeless people in poverty’ aren’t effectively solving the issues that the charities are seeking to address (Aimee Meade, 2014).

“They don’t empower or create sustainable change,” says co-founder of Regarding Humanity, Linda Raftree.

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Although they are still making money, what they are achieving is a short term goal. In the long run the major issues such as poverty and world-hunger will continue to be there. For decades these campaigns have been using the ‘shock advertising’ technique in order to grab the attention of the viewer. Researching further into the notion of shock advertising a series of articles are reporting on the fact that charities are overusing the marketing technique. We can see it is no longer something that works. It may at first guilt you into donating but gives you no proper information on poverty itself. We still believe that donating over the phone or through the internet is a way in dealing with this severe problem but in fact it’s not. The advertising industry needs to move away from this method.

Poverty porn can be seen throughout medias such as television, film, radio, adverts, magazines and charity campaigns. The Red Nose Day video with Jack Black is an example of the way in which charity campaigns have wrongly addressed issues of poverty. Using celebrity sponsors take away from the real meaning and instead we focus on the celebrity personality rather than the subject of the interview. Shock advertising is another method that is no longer engaging audiences. These two examples are not addressing the issues at hand but rather exploiting the poor for donations. These charities may be making money but through the decades we have seen it’s not the way in dealing with poverty. Poverty porn needs to stop and education needs to start. Teach us the facts and the real way to tackle this issue. A short term fix cannot handle a long term problem.

Reference:

J, Brown, 2015, ‘Jack Black Meets A Homeless Boy’, Shareably, viewed 15th March 2017
<http://shareably.net/jack-black-uganda-red-nose-day/>

Roenigk, E, 2015, ‘5 Reasons poverty porn empowers the wrong person’, Why DEV, viewed 18th March 2016
< http://www.whydev.org/5-reasons-poverty-porn-empowers-wrong-person/>

Meade, A, 2014, ‘Emotive charity advertising- has the public had enough’, The guardian, viewed 18th March 2016
< https://www.theguardian.com/voluntary-sector-network/2014/sep/29/poverty-porn-charity-adverts-emotional-fundraising>

My Hero

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Tim Burton is a popular filmmaker, artist, director, writer and producer. He has contributed to and released a total of 39 feature films, 9 shorts films, 5 television shows and 2 music videos. Well-known works include Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Coraline and Batman Begins. Burton has a major in animation at the California Institute of Arts and started off working for Walt Disney Studios as an apprentice animator in 1980 (A&E Television, 2016). It was within a year that Burton set out on his own and in 1982 he released the award-winning short film Vincent. However, it was the live-action short, Frankenweenie that impressed Paul Reubens to commission Burton for the comedy Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. This was the start for his successful career.

Tim Burton’s imaginative ways and artistic vision are one of the reasons why I want to go into filmmaking.  His films are captivating and entertaining while giving a new spin on classics such as Alice in Wonderland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. His film styles are always so different from most major feature films and they inspire me to also think outside the box. Tim Burton challenges the conventional way of filmmaking through his stories, visual styles, themes and characters. Tim Burton has a range of working methods when creating a project and this can be seen throughout the repetition of themes and ideas. One of these is his use of dark and light as contrast. Scenes are shot in oversaturated or under saturated colour. This can help create a surreal, gothic imagery used to emphasize certain aspects of the movie (G. Perno, 2014). Another method is the portrayal of characters where the audience can easily recognize their motives. An usual (sometimes supernatural) male antagonist and an ambitious female protagonist. This can be seen in films including Corpse Bride, Dark Shadows, Sweeney Todd and The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Stop animation is also used throughout a number of his films. In the filmmaking process there was use of a number of physical sets and puppets to shoot each frame.  Burton believed stop animation could bring a vivid life to his imagination that 2D animation couldn’t. It was also said that this technique had a ‘crude elegance’ and the articulated movements of the puppet reflected the character’s exposed feelings (Jordan Fogerson, 2012). An example of his stop-motion animation is found below. This clip examines Burton’s work ‘Frankenweenie’:

In a sense his movies re-created the way in which we depict stop-motion. Tim Burton’s work has inspired my field of practice and I hope to produce a film as original and imaginative as his.

Reference:

A&E television networks, 2016, ‘Tim Burton’, Biography, viewed 15th March 2017
<http://www.biography.com/people/tim-burton-9542431>

Perno, G, 2014, ‘Directors’ trademarks: Tim Burton’, Cinelinx, viewed 15th March 2017
<http://www.cinelinx.com/movie-stuff/item/6889-director-s-trademarks-tim-burton.html>

Fogerson, J, 2012, ‘Tim Burton, the shot, camera techniques’, Jordan Fogerson, viewed 15th March 2017
<https://jordanfogerson.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/tim-burton-camera-compositiontechnique/>