Final Review, Gaku’s animated short

Here is his video for reference. – I reposted it so that it can be viewed fullscreen. Domo arigato, Gaku-sama!

  • synchronized sound-image relationship

From 0:07 to 0:10 you can hear footsteps that reinforce the idea of the character running.

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From 0:19 to 0:24 you can hear chewing, which greatly enhances the final scene. The first time I watch this animation (without sound) I thought that the snake/creature was talking to the boy who climbed down into the cavern… Now, the lip movements are clarified.

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  • singular off-screen but diegetic sounds

After watching this video a few times, I still have not been able to identify any off-screen sounds. Sure, there are birds and water drops present, but these seem to be territorial sounds, used to enhance the environment.

  • metaphorical (non-literal) or symbolic sound-image relationship

In the opening shot, we hear a frequency crawl pan left to right, which enhances the throwing of the Apple. This sound is non-literal, but implies a kind of “fly-over” effect, similar to an airplane in flight.

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At 0:12, we hear an “ow” sound from the apple itself. Again, clearly this isn’t meant to be literal, but reinforces the idea that the apple fell and landed hard.

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  • diegetic territorial sound to define background or sense-of-place

Starting around 0:05 you can hear birds chirping, which makes sense, given the setting of a park, with trees. At 0:14 you can hear water dripping, and echoing reverberations to give us a better sense of the size of the cavern in the following scene.

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What do you guys think? Are there other sound elements worth noting? Am I missing anything? Are these sounds adding value to the animations? Comment and let me know.

 

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Final Evaluation, Shelby’s animated short

Tonight, we reviewed student’s final project. I was in Group A, reviewing the work of Shelby and Gaku.

Here’s Shelby’s video for reference.

  • synchronized sound-image relationship

At 0:10, you can heard the sounds of feet stomping/landing on a hard surface. This accompanies the image of a young girl’s silhouette moving/jumping up and down.

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At 0:14 you can hear the sounds of a bouncing ping-pong ball, echoing as it lands on a hard surface, reinforcing the movement and collision of the apple onto a hard surface.

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  • singular off-screen but diegetic sounds

At 0:22, there is the sound of an egg-timer/stove-clock ticking away. Although we cannot see this, it enhances the idea of waiting for a pie to cool while it sits on the counter. This is a very nice compliment to the rising steam. At 0:26 we hear the bell, as the timer “goes off”. Again, this is not seen, but it improves the sense of place.

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  • metaphorical (non-literal) or symbolic sound-image relationship

I think that the sound of the apple landing is somewhat metaphorical. On the one hand, it synchronizes in a very literal way with the landing of the apple, on the other hand, it doesn’t sound anything at all like an apple. It has a kind of nice hollow snap-pop to it, which seems to imply that this one apple isn’t really enough, but also is happening not in the orchard, but elsewhere, in a closed space.

  • diegetic territorial sound to define background or sense-of-place

Starting around 0:03 and ending around 0:13 you can hear the sounds of wind, leaves rustling, and birds chirping, this amplifies the orchard setting and makes for a more believable and immersive environment.

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At 0:17 through 0:21, there are ambient sounds associated with a grocery store checkout. Not only does this give us a better sense of place, but also adds to the idea that these are separate events, happening at different times.

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What do you guys think? Are there other sound elements worth noting? Am I missing anything? Are these sounds adding value to the animations? Comment and let me know.

Next, I’ll review Gaku…

Reflection Response #4 (Condensed)

In Walter Murch’s “Stretching Sound to Help the Mind See”, we are invited to think about the role of sound in cinema and in our own lives. He makes reference to recording prototypes by Edison, and early 20th century films. What I found most compelling was Murch’s idea about sound and three-dimensional perception as a hallucination:

…the depth we perceive is not a hallucination. But the way we perceive it — its particular flavor — is uniquely our own… And in that sense it is a kind of hallucination, because the brain does not alert us to what is actually going on. Instead, the dimensionality is fused into the image and made to seem as if it is coming from “out there” rather than “in here.”

There is a mixture of joy and terror, living in a world filled with synthetic sound and the progress of cinema as a means of escape. From simple paintings on the walls of caves to MegaPlex 3D Movies, every step has required humanity to sacrifice a little bit of what we consider to be real. As Murch pointed out:

King Ndombe of the Congo consented to have his voice recorded in 1904 but immediately regretted it when the cylinder was played back: the “shadow” danced on its own, and he heard his people cry in dismay: “The King sits still, his lips are sealed, while the white man forces his soul to sing!”

My focus for this final project will be to synthesize a new reality by combining sounds out of context with my animation. Specifically, I will focus on creating sounds to supplement that which is not seen.

Reflection Response #4

In Walter Murch’s “Stretching Sound to Help the Mind See”, we are invited to think about the role of sound in cinema and in our own lives. He makes reference to recording prototypes by Edison, and early 20th century films, some of which may be too obscure for a younger generation. For example: the last time I watched the Godfather Trilogy, it was playing on a Laserdisc – everything is better on Laserdisc. What I found most compelling was Murch’s idea about sound and three-dimensional perception as a hallucination:

…the depth we perceive is not a hallucination. But the way we perceive it — its particular flavor — is uniquely our own… And in that sense it is a kind of hallucination, because the brain does not alert us to what is actually going on. Instead, the dimensionality is fused into the image and made to seem as if it is coming from “out there” rather than “in here.”

As much as there is a rift dividing the generations and their tastes in movies, there is an even greater rift dividing the generations in our ever-expansive field of technologically induced hallucinations. In the span of homosapiens’ arrival as a species, it has only been a blink of an eye since we clever apes invented devices to trick our ears into believing in a virtual world of sound.

Specifically, I’m reminded of another classic film, George Romero’s Day of the Dead, when the zombie “Bub” hear’s music for the first time in his (undead) life.

There is a mixture of joy and terror, living in a world filled with synthetic sound.

As we currently push the limits of computer-generated images, virtual reality, and augmented reality, I cannot help but wonder if I will simply be too old to appreciate the benefits. I’ll admit that getting my first iPod turned me into a zombie of sorts, and who wouldn’t want to fill the doldrums of everyday life with their own personal soundtrack? This welcomed distraction was not without consequence, because my primate brain was too poorly equipped to tackle the nuances separating the real from the virtual – I’ve walked out into traffic on more than one occasion because the sound in my ears was too engrossing for me to keep my wits about me.

What will become of sound, now that virtual acoustics are entering the market place, creating virtual, interactive audio environments in a mobile platform?

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Coming Soon, to a Nightmarish Dystopian Future Near You!

The progress of cinema as a means of escape, is not that different from our organic evolution. From simple paintings on the walls of caves to MegaPlex 3D Movies, every step has required humanity to sacrifice a little bit of what we consider to be “real”. As Murch pointed out:

King Ndombe of the Congo consented to have his voice recorded in 1904 but immediately regretted it when the cylinder was played back: the “shadow” danced on its own, and he heard his people cry in dismay: “The King sits still, his lips are sealed, while the white man forces his soul to sing!”

The next evolution of sound will not provoke thoughts of spirits or souls, but will create space for sound that is hyper-real, and cleaner than the sounds produced by our natural environments. Coupled with other electronic and synthetic facets of reality, we’ll be forced to reconcile our world with one that is unreal, but ultimately a stronger reflection of our internal perception of the world.

Project 3: Final Sequence

This is a video rendering of my final animation sequence for Project 3: Cezanne Multipane Animation.

As you can see, the Stylization filters are used heavily to create a greater sense of unity with the original source image of Cezanne’s Still Life With Apples. Other source images were heavily stylized to better match the look of Cezanne’s painting. All materials were used for educational purposes, under Fair Use.

Special thanks to: Robin Esrock (mentalfloss.com), Utah.edu, Soviet-Power.com, MB Productions (video: Launch Tribute to those who have fallen), Nikita Kozin (The Noun Project), CitizenSfitz.com, Gracefulspoon.com, and Kenneth Lu. All of these fine folks provided me with either material or inspiration, and I appreciate the opportunity to transform their work into a new creative endeavor.

Adobe Photoshop has many limitations when working with the animation/timeline feature. I especially found it difficult to perform certain tasks when using Smart Objects. I’d often work in stages, first with Smart Objects, but then down-converted to rasterized layers, and merged layers. Doing so ensured much higher frame rates when compiling, but I’m sure other optimizations would be beneficial (due to scheduling for this project, I don’t have time to go back over the original .psd files, but you can download them here.)

Just a word of warning: these files are bigger than you’d likely expect – over 800MB total.

Project 3: Demo

You can read more about this process here.

The workflow for separate scenes is fairly straight forward:

  • After completing your panels, select all Layers and Convert to Smart Object
    • File -> Save as -> filename_copy.psd
  • Create new psd file.
    • File -> New -> filename_compilation.psd
      • Dimensions: 640 x 480,
      • DPI: 72
      • Color: RGB
  • Video Group: -> Add MediaScreen Shot 2016-05-16 at 6.56.26 PM
  • Drag and Drop Fades
  • Cut and trim video segments to preference
  • Export video: File -> Export -> Render Video…Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 7.00.51 PM.png
    • Format: H.264
    • Preset: High Quality
    • Size: Document Size
    • Frame Rate: 30 fps
    • Range: All Frames

Enjoy your video.

Reading Response #3

“I never take claim to any of the photos. which is really important, that that’s not my work.”

– Cassandra Jones

In “Send Me A Link,” digital media artist Cassandra C. Jones, used digital photos she’d gathered from the internet and compilation CDs (Image Collections) sold on Ebay, and then transformed them into animations or wallpaper collages.

In her BoinBoing interview, she also likes the term, “money shot” and uses it quite often.

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Here first example of a still-life “wallpaper” is a floral pattern made from hundreds of pink flamingos. She noticed that there was a typical kind of pose for the birds and that this pattern was repeated across several different sources. Here first example of time based art is a sunset created by stitching together hundreds of images (1,391 images, to be exact) of sunsets and then arranging them in order of their proximity to the horizon. She got this idea from reading Susan Sontag’s book on photography and the idea that (3m:14s) “sunsets are cheesy because there are so many photographs taken of it.” Cassandra related to this idea because while she was visiting Greece, she realized that everything on that island has been photographed thousands of times.

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What’s truly interesting about her work is the source data – the internet. She is able to find so many iterations of any given thing that it is possible to construct a coherent animation sequence from it. The use of amateur photography was important to her art because it demonstrated a connection to everyone’s experience with a common thing.

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Back to her wallpaper work: she bought a compilation CD for $2 on ebay that contains images of cheerleaders. According to Cassandra the (6m:17s) “crotch shot is the money shot of the cheerleaders. It was the perfect combination of (American) family values and pornography.” To communicate this idea more strongly, she arranged the cheerleaders into the floral (“wall flower”) arrangements and scaled them down to a point where an echoing pattern appears, masking the source image through rhythm and repetition. These images are wholesome and innocent, but with a vulgar undertone. If you don’t look closely, you can easily miss it.

 

Open House Event – ART119

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Wednesday night there was an Open House event at Portland State University. After leaving my Digital Media studio class, I walked down to the art building to check out the work in the MFA studios. I spent last quarter in this building and the TA was kind enough to show us the studio space back in January. What was particularly nice was the before-and-after perspective of in-studio work. In some cases it was due to refinement (painting studio space) of earlier work, in others it was in the form of additional iterations (animation and film). Finally, it was time to visit my former TA, Emily.

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Her graphic novel was printed up (half of it, anyway), and the level of detail was stunning. The subject matter was particularly dark (child abuse, unwanted children, alcohol, isolation, etc.) and this was complimented by the heavy use of black filling in the positive space of each and every frame. The ink budget would be substantial on a mass-volume production. In addition to the printed work, there was also a running stop-motion animation, and a diorama of a future installation, as well as full-scale production materials.

As I consider my own future, it is good to see people in the process of developing their professional skills and realizing their own dreams. This work space is being put to good use and every MFA student seems genuinely proud of their work. There was a fair amount of discussion about the costs of education, and some of this may be reflective of the relatively higher tuition costs of grad school and the fact that we are in an election year, but overall it was a cheerful environment.

On my way out there were two elderly women who shared some of their print work with Emily and me. Clearly for some, art is a lifelong passion. I hope this is true for me as well.