Farewell

I love this school and this program and everyone in the RCC building that I’ve met thus far. All the professors are passionate about the words they’re saying. They really work in the fields they’re teaching – Jamie directs us to his own website and his own examples of the exact same projects we’re doing. Elizabeth Martin, my audio lab teacher works up the street at the Much Music building producing content for Much, so you really feel like you’re following closely in the footsteps of teachers you can respect and aspire to.

Digital media taught me that there are so many facets of the industry that I hadn’t taken notice of before or realized the level of difficulty and work that goes into those pieces. I found that I wasn’t happy with myself as a digital media creator, but came to realize that I might be a great content producer! I think if I could gather the right people and create teams, some of the great ideas I have for content and productions could come to fruition even better than I imagined. This semester I enlisted the help of my peers, Kathleen Turner and Orest Kus on my photoshop and after effects projects, and they helped me turn what I thought were basic ideas into pretty decent pieces of work, I think. Further to that idea, I think if my inept handiwork were out of the way, they might have taken my ideas further than I was able to!

I did find through viewing my peer’s work in photoshop and after effects that I preferred the more simplistic work. Letting the colour, audio and typography do much of the heavy lifting in digital media, to me, goes a long way. I think I’ll always like the idea of digital media that can be saved as .gif and not have it’s content tarnished, I like it so simple that the 256 colours available in .gif would be sufficient to convey the message – that’s a pattern I picked up on in my taste while studying preferences in digital media. 

Artist Statement for Lord of the Flies After Effects

“Shoot for the moon, so at least if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”, that philosophy didn’t do me any favours in my attempt at photoshop, so I decided to reel in my vision and try a more simplistic idea for the more complex, after effects. 

I love the TV shows Lost and Gilligan’s Island and the film, Cast Away and the concept of being shipwrecked on a deserted island. My first taste of that concept came in elementary school when we read Lord of the Flies. I thought it would pay homage to one of my favourite storyline’s  to create a trailer for a Lord of the Flies movie. 

I adapted Orest Kus’ theme from his photoshop project for The Guardian. I liked the yellow gradient background and the simplistic black, vector drawn helicopter and waves. I created a darker yellow and black gradient background for this motion graphics assignment. I didn’t use photoshop excessively for this assignment, however, in the poly-tool there are banked shapes like animals, symbols … and an airplane! I had difficulty transferring the poly shape airplane from photoshop to after effects though, so I had to trace a vector around the plane in photoshop and then import the vector plane to after effects. I thought that was interesting and demanded some improvisation within an interface I’m not too comfortable with yet. I found that I wasn’t happy with the plane crash in my trailer – didn’t think it was coming across the plane was in trouble. It more appeared to me something reminiscent of the Catch Me If You Can trailer where the silhouetted shapes move in different directions, but no immediate danger is felt. I remedied this problem with more improv and creativity. One of the only tools I was comfortable with and had a chance to play with was opacity. I put a cluster of keyframes directly beside each other while the plane would cross frame and turned the opacity all the way up and down on every other keyframe in order to create and inverted colour over the plane so it would appear more chaotic, as if there was a ‘mayday’ signal. Beyond the plane sequence, I added some typography, but I did that through after effects. I was content with the font options the program had. 

Perhaps the trailer isn’t groundbreaking, but it’s my favourite piece of digital media I created this year because I couldn’t fathom that I would be able to create anything like this mere weeks ago. I’m proud of it. 

Storytelling and Transmedia

Stories are all around us, everyday. Our development as a species is rooted in storytelling. In the past, learning from the mistakes of others through story protected us from harm. The structure of our society and our behaviour within it, was shaped by storytelling, that’s the basis of religion and church; abiding by the precepts and preachings of our forefathers. 

Not all stories must hold so much gravity though, daily we interact with all kinds of stories just to maneuver our routines. Yesterday, I encountered a brief interaction with the long story arc of racism. Walking up the sidewalk, on my way to the bus stop, an old man approaching me shouted out “Muhammad!”, to which I responded, “no, that’s not my name”. He repeated himself a number of times, in disbelief that my name wasn’t Muhammad. Then he asked, “Aren’t you Muslim?”, “no, sir. My name’s not Muhammad and I’m not Muslim”, “Oh, good!” and then he walked away…?

That was a bizarre story I retold to my friends all day, trying to decipher whether or not I had just encountered racism, or a genuine attempt at understanding each other – which is what communication and storytelling is all about, right? Trying to better understand the people around us and the human condition. 

Within an hour of that bizarre encounter, I saw a poster of a friend of mine, Richard Young on the subway advertising awareness of mental health for CAMH. I thought the subway cart was a particularly fitting spot for a mental health poster because only days earlier had I been on the subway and, along with many other passengers, been scared by a yelling, belligerent, unpredictable ‘crazy’ on the subway. I used the word crazy there, because I distinctly remember one woman commenting to another that the guy was was ‘crazy’. I thought that juxtaposition of imagery – her dismissal of this belligerent man’s behaviour against the poster advertising mental health awareness was another great example of a long developing story of misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the story of craziness. Image

And on the way home from school yesterday, there was a subway delay, as per usual. The announcement overhead was supposed to illustrate the cause of the delay and inform the passengers of the pertinent details for how long we’d be stranded. Of course, in true TTC fashion the entire announcement was mumbled and muffled, except for the last line, “We’re sorry for the inconvenience”. I’ve heard that ‘story’ so many times, it’s just so ingenuine – and it gave me an idea for a story I want to tell. The idea for a comedic documentary illuminating the TTC’s disrespect for their customers. I would just bring a camera on the subway and shoot one trip’s worth of the insanity that takes place on the subway and post it unedited on YouTube. I’ve been slighted so many times by the TTC, but this time I was inspired to laugh at the situation and hopefully others might enjoy it too?

What’s Your Type?

Protest The Hero is a hard/metal/mathcore band I’ve been a giant fan of for nearly a decade. They’ve released four albums in the past 10 years, and yet have held my attention as paramount in music for so long based on their intricacy in every facet of their brand. Musically, the group weaves technical, masterful musicianship with lyricism/poetry that is relevant and double-entendred after a near decade. They offer insightful and in hindsight, ofttimes eerily astute political and social commentary. And finally, in accordance with everything that comprises their band, Protest The Hero’s album art is always fanciful, intricate, mightily detailed work.

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It’s only fitting that right down to the typography, the band would wear a beautiful font. I can’t figure out the exact font type, but my best guess and research suggests that the font is an alternative on Avant Garde type with a serifed …maybe script? Surely, they had a professional typography artist build a custom font for them, as of course, Protest The Hero would; but the Avant Garde route would be my first guess towards trying to replicate their style. 

Beyond Protest The Hero, another font type I’m a fan of is that of a TV show I recurred on this year and am a huge fan of, Orphan Black. 

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A pretty straight forward font type, it appears to be a sans-serif Futura Light. Maybe I’m biased because of my affiliation and affection for the show, but I think the simplistic font type, save for the coy helix in the ‘H’, is sweet and simple. 

After Effects

We’re underway with After Effects and I’m struggling to keep pace, honestly. I wish we had three more classes devoted to each tour of editing software, especially so with After Effects now, because in our first tutorial session with the software there were two fire alarm interuptions in the last hour of class, making it impossible to play with the tool. With the processes of Photoshop, Pro Tools, Premiere and now After Effects swirling about my memory in this first semester, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed. However, the thing about the RTA program that I’m finding (and thank goodness this is the case!) is that different folks in my class and program are strong in different areas – so far, my forte just hasn’t surfaced, but I’m sure it will soon enough. 

In terms of my After Effects project, I am enlisting the help of my friend and class mate, Orest Kus to navigate the After Effects software. Orest’s photoshop assignment really stood out to me. He created a movie poster for the “The Guardian”, a film about coast guard rescuers. His poster was simplistic, but the colours, typography and style of cartoon he used was effective for me. At least, it lingered long enough in my memory that I want to aim to do something similar for my After Effects assignment. 

I’m attempting a poster for the book, “The Lord of the Flies”. My idea is a solid yellow gradient background (a la “The Guardian”) with  a plane flying in from the right to centre, at which point it will crack in half, sink vertically out of frame. Then, flies will rise from bottom of frame (buzzing) to half screen where they will be met by typography, “Lord of the Flies” accompanied by my voice uttering the title. The spot should last 5 seconds. 

Ah, CRAP!

I am a child, so I laughed during our lecture on the design principles of photography, CRAP. But seriously though, it was pretty insightful and revealing of the formula that advertisements, magazines, blogs and photographers use to achieve outstanding images. Contrast, repetition, alignment and proximity are the principles by which digital media producers abide by when creating work. I scoured the internet briefly and found some images that prove the exercise of these principles in advertisements, magazines and impressive photos. 

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The top image, out of a design magazine is a tremendous example of contrast. A great use of colour contrasted against the off-white background of the page. This display draws the eye of the viewer to the colour and is effective in achieving the response the producer wants of the consumer. Particularly in this magazine page, the .dsgn folks want to illustrate the effectiveness of contrast and colour on the page. 

The second photo utilizes a combination of two of the CRAP principles, contrast and repetition to further reinforce their concept. My interpretation of the photo of hijabed women and the unique ‘red hijab’ is that the red hijab is to be the focus of our attention and signify individuality or uniqueness and rebellion. Certainly those concepts are synonymous with the concepts of contrast within repetition. to contrast the repetition of hundreds of black scarves with a red scarf on the only clearly visible face in the crowd can only suggest individuality and uniqueness. The photo is enticing and allows those two design principles to speak volumes for itself. 

We consume alignment so, so often in our routines. Just checking on some sports news, I noticed that the photo of Mikhail Grabovski that correlates to the Grabovski print news story, right next to the Grabovski video coverage is a fantastic example of effective use of CRAP principles by the TSN web producers to direct their audience to streamlined coverage of that particular sports storyline.

These photos are only a few of those we come across daily that use and allow the CRAP principles in order to more effectively help us consume digital media.

Blogger’s Choice

I’ve been removed from school for some years, and that was thoroughly enjoyable. I used to stay up until 2am and sleep in until noon. Once in a while, I’d go to an audition, even land a part or two; and spend a few days on set. The past few years were wonderland, but even wonderland ain’t paradise on earth. I got real restless and missed contributing and struggling and that’s what I’ve rediscovered here at RTA this year. 

High school was mandatory and I completed it – did well, even! First year of psychology however was uninteresting and unappealing to me though, so I dropped out indefinitely. I heard about RTA from friends who attended and it sounded like the only program where I might fit in and enjoy the post secondary experience. Now, I’m here and I am enjoying it, but I can’t understand why?! I’m absolutely atrocious at every aspect of the program thus far. This semester has demanded that we produce digital media and audio through editing software I’ve never touched before. We have barely a week with each interface before we hand in our productions. I haven’t been pleased with the quality of any of my projects, but somehow I’m still eager to show up to every class! I’m having a great time struggling beside students who I’m quickly becoming fans of. Every student I’ve had the pleasure of talking with is abundantly talented, the teachers are working professionals in an industry I’m dying to forge a stronger career in, they’re passionate about their lectures and specialties and the calibre of equipment and resources at our disposal is incredible, albeit I can hardly exercise these tools properly yet. 

I never thought I’d volunteer as a host personality on an early morning radio show with two other first year students, but we’re weeks in now with regular listeners and the soundboard is almost old hat to us now! In order to pass digital media, I’m forging friendships with kids talented in photoshop and after effects, out of necessity and admiration for their expertise in an area I have none. 

I really, sincerely feel privileged to be part of a team and network of students entering different facets of a really small industry together. It feels as though the school is sort of single handedly creating the next generation of radio and television for the whole country in our one RCC building. 

Every Colour Tells a Story…

Creativity is paramount in media and in conveying a message or telling a story. Every aspect in media serves a purpose and colour is a strong, effective tool in portraying meaning in posters, ads and all kinds of media. Some examples that stood out to me:

McDonald’s now offers wifi in their restaurants! And after seeing this ad, you’ll never forget the amenity or what restaurant makes that offer.

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The red and yellow colour scheme is a McDonald’s staple, and it’s worked for years and years – after all, “billions and billions served”, right? So, why veer from what works? However in this particular poster, the marriage of the plain red background and the already golden delicious McDonald fries help each other hand in hand in terms of colour scheme and tradition. Add to that the very simplistic, but universally understood sign for wifi internet and McDonald’s has an effective, comprehensive, mouthwatering meaning.

One of the most unnerving and classic movie posters ever, Jaws, uses colour effectively. Again, keeping it simple, the poster features predominantly red, white and blue to illustrate the impending attack on the unsuspecting bathing beauty. The Great white shark and blue water usurp the viewer’s attention while the completely white background negates any distractions from the terrifying shark. The bold, red letters add the final, reassuring touch of certain bloodshed soon to come. 

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An image I’ve ogled for at least minutes on end multiple times is the ‘blown away man’ on the Maxell CD cases. The image has always conjured up in my mind the idea of someone’s listening experience being akin to tornado like chaos. As a fan of hardcore music, characterized by thrashing, flailing, wild dance moves, this ad has always appealed to me and has lingered on my mind for a long time. The image is merely black and white, but somehow it’s simplicity and concept resonated with me and that has made it an effective media. 

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One of my favourite movies of all time, Jurassic Park employs the most exciting imagery in movie poster history, I think. I guess I’m a sucker for simplicity because that has been the recurring theme in all my favourite images in media. But the all black, ominous background with the Tyrannosaurus skeleton bathed in blood red was an iconic image in movie history then and now. The poster spoke volumes about the new concept that was to grace silver screens, and did so without revealing any of the magic (CGI’s and robotics) that went into creating the film. The poster and it’s simplistic, powerful colours sold the film effectively.

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Artist Statement for Strange Fruit

My initial vision for this assignment was to do a mostly vector drawing for a fake band called, Raging Sperm. The sparta-like sperm were to attack an egg with spears, very phallic like. However, I found that I wasn’t able to draw the idea to my satisfaction on photoshop and with vectors.

After some wasted hours and attempts at Sperm Warriors, I decided to change my idea entirely to an album cover for my real band, Strange Fruit. During slavery, when coloured people were lynched, their bodies were referred to as strange fruit. That idea has always been unnerving and interesting to me.

The vision I had for Strange Fruit was of an apple hanged by a noose. The idea of using the apple as the head of the victim and lightly drawing a silhouette of a man seemed impressive to me, but considering my difficulty drawing a sperm, I ditched the silhouette idea and went for sweet and simple instead. Retrospectively, I think the silhouette might have been overkill had I attempted it (and if I had, even if didn’t like it, I would have left it in the photo despite my better judgement, because I wouldn’t be able to let it go after all that work). The silhouette would have beat my audience over the head with the message and tone of the band.

So, I looked up an eerie youtube video of how to tie a noose, bought an apple and waited for twilight to get the lighting I wanted for the photo. Afterwards, the play in photoshop is really a loss of recollection. I just played around with the background and colour of the photo – the only thing I had in mind was that I wanted the apple’s colour to pop and for the rest of the image to be simplistic and not detract from the focus i.e. the noose/apple. I saved the project throughout the experimenting process and tinkered until I felt I couldn’t do any better. The scene played as, I saved the last time, not knowing it would be my final – continued to tinker, didn’t like where I had gone forward, quit the program without saving and took my backup as the good copy. I think that’s probably a good way to move forward with anything I do in the future; keep working on the art until I screw it up and then just revert back to the last best version?!

I hope you like it.

And I don’t endorse suicide in any way!

 

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Digital Diary

We’ve been challenged by our professor, Laurie Petrou, to record all of our interaction with any digital media for 24 hours and to contemplate that data. Just the way and the tone in which the challenge was been presented, lead me to believe that the findings were supposed to surprise and unnerve us. However, while I’m surprised at the exact figure of how often I check my phone and spend in front of a screen of some sort, I’m not unnerved or frightened by that number or our growing dependancy on digital media. It makes me happy at the idea that the future is upon us – at least chronologically, the future in my imagination, with flying cars and teleportation and multiple plains of existence/ consciousness would progress logically from today’s multi-platform digital media. A crude example, today if someone with a facebook page passes away, other people can still upload and tag never before seen photos of that deceased person. That image would update to that person’s still active, virtual profile; just the pun and idea of a deceased person updating their status is incredible and strange. And it’s only 2013, with that example it’s no longer unreasonable to sympathize with sci-fi folklore.

Here’s an infographic depicting 24hrs of my use of digital media, albeit mundane and not an example of what a good infographic entails i.e. photos, creative layout, colours etc. Screen shot 2013-09-19 at 2.25.32 AMScreen shot 2013-09-19 at 2.25.43 AM

An effective infographic would convey the data in my spreadsheet using images, colours, typography and creativity. The combination should make a piece of data that is easy to read and comprehend and thus efficient, effective and consumed quickly.

Like this, simple, effective Lakehead University infographic on TTC trains:macleans03