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.



Update on Final Project

I’ve been trying to balance the performance of my sound elements between speakers and headphones and one of the most challenging aspects of this is the acoustics. Headphones allow for a tight integration of sounds between left and right channel, but as soon as you go out through speakers in a room, there’s a noticeable cross-talk between left and right, and it becomes less distinguished. Audition has tools for expanding the stereo effect, and this helps a little bit, but if you push it too far, everything seems a bit muted through headphones, so it’s a difficult balancing act. Some sounds need very little of this effect to draw contrast between left and right, while others seem impervious to the effect — especially when reverb is factored in.

Hopefully I’ll get some lab time on Monday to address this, but for now I’m relatively pleased with where this project is, and will post a pre-final version tomorrow evening – stay tuned!

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Pacific Vortex – Reflection

If you didn’t go, you missed out. Check out this blurb from Carl Diehl’s Class Blog.

Pacific Vortex is pleased to plunge you into a multi-channel miasma orchestrated by Ben Glas and Joseph Wells.  Here you will find a formidable constellation of quadrophonic arrays and computational creativity that activates, in new ways, the architecture of the Mediatheque and your own mind! Sine-waves accompanied by generative visual abstractions will segue, sojourn, soliloquy, or, in other ways, play perceptively on the audience’s sense-abilities.


 on his customized16mm projection systems.  An outgrowth of projection arts and ad-hoc animation trajectories cultivated in San Francisco’s vibrant 1990’s musical scene, Manning physically conjures a phantasmagoric environment  using celluloid selections that are dyed, inked, bleached, cut up and compiled on large reels.  These elaborate illuminations hybridized with handmade slide and overhead transparency projections and mixed by hand are improvisational and articulated without electronic expediencies.


@PNCA 511 NW Broadway, enter from the Park blocks between NW Hoyt and NW Glisan.

Part 1: Multi-channel Miasma Orchestrated by Ben Glas and Joseph Wells.

This performance was a great way to answer that classic question we’ve all had during our more formative and vulnerable years: “what would it be like to have severe tinnitus while tripping on acid?”

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“You are freaking out… maaaaaan…”

I do not believe that this was intended to be a pleasant experience, but that doesn’t make it any less valuable as art. The installation was well planned, and included three distinct visual fields, all based on monochrome oscilloscopes: Linear, Circular, and Sequential. By connecting these visual indicators to separate microphones in the space, the audience was provided with a real-time visual representation of the generated tones. Initially, the space was flooded with high-volume, low frequency tones that overlapped, this was a kind of “carrier signal” for the soundscape. The tones shifted independently, and were divided into separate channels. Combined with the space’s acoustics, this created a physical sensation that is adjacent to migraine pain, but decorative in nature.

The rising and falling walls of sound, combined with visual representation are entirely abstract, and not a simulation of anything specific, and my description is only meant to be as informative as possible. This time-based art might be “art for artist’s sake” but was still an interesting combination of different digital technologies and A/V equipment. Perhaps if I had earplugs I would have gotten a richer, but less intense experience. The pleasure wasn’t in the grinning and bearing, but in observing the feedback between visual and audio information, and seeing sounds transformed into shapes. The frequency and amplitudes occasionally combined to create familiar linear forms (sawtooth, sine wave) and geometric shapes (octagons, squares, and even triangles with rounded edges). It was compelling to be able to “hear shapes” but the experience was probably too intense for casual audiences.

Part 2: Out of time, place and scale, by the polychromatic Pond Mind Pulp, a live artwork carried out by Colin Manning.

If the first performance was an appetizer, then this was certainly the entree.

IMG_2237The first sequence was entirely digital in its presentation, but the second part included analogue sound and 16mm film projection. I couldn’t help but turn the viewing experience into a game of “Name That Film”. Some of which were esoteric educational films of yesteryear, and nothing too remarkable from that selection. Others however, were true blue classics – Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein, The Battleship Potemkin, and even Heinlein’s film adaptation Destination Moon) I’m sure there were others worth mentioning, but those were highlights for me.

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Even though the source material was often recognizable, the results were nevertheless quite abstract, and it is difficult to construct any literal meaning or narrative from the presentation. Sequences were arranged in an almost reckless manner, moving backwards and forwards through time, overlapping, mirroring, and mocking the past and forgotten future, like a  mocking riddle with no satisfactory answer. The audio component, while more discernible than the first piece, was still persistently abstract in its use. While there is no doubt that a relationship exists between moving pictures and time, it did not appear to follow a strictly linear pattern of past-present-future, but instead seemed to meander in a way that reminds me of what it was like a young child with the flu, watching old movies while laying on my side, volume up, comprehension low, while metabolizing the finest generic-brand, over-the-counter drugs that money can buy.

Nothing quite like the feeling of something familiar and strange. Time well spent.



Project-1: Weekend Update

I’ve taken the criticisms into careful consideration, and here are the latest image updates:

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I spent a lot of time figuring out how to use perspective to give the blood spatter a solid “floor,” but the letters felt too flat against that perspective surface. Carl had some input on this, and the end solution was to include a 3D Extrude stylization filter to give depth and dimension to the letter “A”. There is a nice contrast with the flat letters in the background, and a slightly more gray value is applied to the background letters to emphasize this.The blood was given more detail by using the Wrinkle Tool. Overall, this is a pleasing change and I’m much happier with the results than earlier versions.

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What kind of magician would I be without a rabbit? The peer critique included an earlier, rougher version of this critter, but I’ve refined it to a point where it is a welcome distraction and not just a proof of concept. The sparse grayscale image really Pops thanks to the included red bowtie. This was created as a series of shape (Rectangle Tool) and a thicker brush setting for the outline. A heavy use of Gradient was applied to multiple Layers of the top-hat to give it a more three-dimensional appearance. Abracadabra!

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The lion’s share of time went into this third image. Carl had an interesting suggestion to give the background a crumpled paper appearance. I scoured the web for a few options on how to do this. One suggested using a gradient tool in Photoshop and importing that image into Illustrator like so:

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This wasn’t a bad approach, but it didn’t really “look right” in Illustrator. The better solution I found came from a multistep approach involving actual crumpled paper (Read here). I started by crumpling a folded piece of paper, and then scanning a highDPI image of it and saving the PNG for use in Illustrator. I then used the Image Trace tool to assign shapes their corresponding values (4 shades of gray). The end effect was more convincing because it was derived from the genuine object. Next, I created improved letter “clippings” for the ransom note stylization by choosing a variety of fonts and color combinations, grouped with rectangles that were altered using Transform to give them a more natural appearance.

The final steps involved creating a severed finger – because just one pool of blood in a project is never enough. I started with the Rectangle tool and created two segments, for the third segment (the fingertip), I used a pair of Ellipse tool shapes (fingertip and fingernail), which I altered with the Pen Tool. I then used a gradient fill to give the nail some depth, but struggled to find a gradient to give the finger segments an illusion of depth. I decided to hold off on that detail and used a regular color fill from the Skin Tone Library (color swatch). I then rotated the segments to give the finger a more curled appearance, and the Pen Tool to create the creases in the skin.

Solution for creating depth: I layered four stacks of cloned finger (object groups) on top of one another and then used the Eraser to create a gradation of shadows (Stylization and Drop Shadow) to create a rounder appearance. The end effect is consistently cartoonish with the rest of the image.

Finally, I created a “blood soaked paper” effect by changing the fill color of the surrounding Image Trace generated shapes and the Wrinkle Tool to give it a more distressed appearance. The one effect I want but haven’t been able to figure out is how to “crinkle” the ransom note letters themselves. They feel a bit too flat, and out of place, but after a few failed attempts with the Knife Tool to create segments I’ve decided to error on the side of caution. If I come up with a solution by Monday, I’ll be sure to update the results here.