PPRD 2 – 2nd Year Reflection

June 12, 2009 at 3:17 pm (Evaluation, PPRD 2)

My first year wasn’t the best year of study I’ve ever accomplished, although to an extent I feel that’s always the case when something new is involved, as it takes some time to adjust. The second year is where it all starts to connect. The main goals for this year were to gain much more technical knowledge of the software I intend to use (music production and graphics/motion graphics), as well as gaining a proper plan for my next steps in life after the course. To a certain extent this has been achieved, although due to mitigating circumstances I haven’t been able to focus as well as I would have liked too of during crucial periods of the year. This has been an unfortunate stress on my mind, which I do believe has had a negative effect on my work completed over these times.

The year started really well with some innovative and exciting projects, mainly the Motion Graphics unit. The brief looked to utilise all the skills I had gained studying Graphic Design at college, typography, use of space and balance and timing, something I know all about as a DJ. I chose something I would stay enthusiastic about, a drum and bass track called Deep by TC (Roni Size Remix). It’s fast, exciting and keeps the listener on their toes whilst appealing to the right target audience.

Because the lyrics are so fast I decided early on not to complicate things with imagery, and as this was kinetic typography that worked just fine. The main focus of the work would be the transitions between words and the attention to detail when considering timing and font choice. I spent many a late night trawling trough type fonts to find the right ones for the right words. But this pleased me in ways; attention to detail is something I’ve always been strangely interested in.

The process of making it was intense from start to finish. As well as the number of words I had to animate, I wanted each one to come in perfectly in time. This was a majorly important aspect in the success of the piece, as it would have looked rubbish out of sync. Key framing each movement was time consuming to say the least, and then working out how each composition would link together smoothly was at times near impossible. But I stuck at it, and was so pleased with the final outcome. I feel it’s precisely what I wanted to achieve and it almost couldn’t have gone better. I just wished I could have done it to the whole song!

After Effects was also a program I really wanted to expand my knowledge on, and the tutorials we had really helped develop my understanding of the program, however minimal it may still be. I feel much of my work in future will use After Effects, and next year will concentrate on progressing even further in the area.

Advanced Web Design was a unit I was originally dreading, although by the end found it quite a challenge. I have to admit, this is something I’m not usually interested in and so found it hard to gain enthusiasm at first, although as we got into it it became more interesting. I still wouldn’t pursue a career in it but it certainly developed my knowledge in something I knew very little about. There are many cool things you can do with coding I’m sure but it’s just something I don’t find hugely interesting.

The unit focused on developing our understanding of Action Script 3, and whilst it did do this, I still don’t understand it to a comfortable level. The logic behind it’s fine; it’s the definitions and structure I can’t seem to grasp. A complete dictionary of terminology with explanations would be immensely helpful when learning coding.

The brief asked us to pull an RSS feed from the Internet, which would then transform a set of random graphics using Action Script in Flash. As the feed would need as many changing numbers as possible I chose to pull a feed from the Premier League table, using the clubs emblems as the images. From the table I picked the teams overall points, number of games played and goals scored as the information used to manipulate the images. After much tweaking of the code, it almost did what I wanted it to do, although the unit was not about the final piece, it was about starting to get to grips with coding.

In complete opposite to Advanced Web Design, the Sky project looked fun and imaginative whilst still firmly industry based. The brief was to come up with the next step in Sky Interactive entertainment, something new and out of the box. Our group’s idea focused on two areas, a social networking site and motion tracking control of the interface. At first it sounded sweet, but from the feedback we got it soon became clear there was only one thing we should be concentrating on, the social networking aspect. This for me is the natural progression in how company’s connect with their customers, as the demand for on demand viewing services and social networking sites will only continue to grow as time passes, so why not merge them? I honestly believe this could make a huge amount of money for a company like Sky, and feel it’s only a matter of time before something like this is made.

The unit was presented to Sky for real at their base in London. It was an incredibly useful insight into working with a client in real life, and I think we all learnt a lot from the opportunity. One of the main things I learnt from the unit was the power of a good presentation. It’s so much easier to express your ideas when you have a real understanding of what you want to say. I was pleased with the feedback we got from Sky; they agreed it certainly seemed like the next step in online entertainment and feet if the idea was developed it could be a huge success.

It was when we got the briefs through for the Professional unit things started to go wrong. At first it took me ages to figure out what I wanted to do, and then I needed to save £400 for the software I needed to complete it. The original idea was to create a short DJ mix using Ableton Live, with an accompanying VJ style promotional video for the purposes of distribution. By the time I had saved the money and made the mix (which was incredibly fun to make using Ableton, I’d had my doubts as a vinyl DJ but great program, worth every penny), I’d had a family bereavement and was in an unfit state to complete my work.

In ways this helped me understand where I actually wanted to go. I needed the kick to get me doing what I always to do, organise and promote my own music event. This quickly became a reality, and so it seemed the sensible thing to do would be to incorporate that into my Professional unit. As well as organising the event, I designed the promotional material and will complete a short promotional video and a set of motion graphic pieces for promotional uses on the web. This is a live project, and will give me bags of experience where I wouldn’t gain any otherwise. I’m fully committed, the flyers are printed and the acts are booked, it has my full enthusiasm and I want that to translate to the course. This is also a long-term plan, as we plan more events in the future.

Another added bonus to this is as we get more of a reputation we can start introducing visuals to the equation. I’d love to try VJ’ing and this could be a goal I can focus on achieving throughout my final year on the course. I feel this is something I can really get my teeth into and contains many prospects for progressing my technical abilities in areas I’m interested in. We have plans to expand to areas such as Brighton, Bristol and London, and there is even scope to produce media such as magazines and mix CD’s, and events such as festivals given the right business plans and appropriate time. As this unit is still ongoing and won’t be handed in till august there will still be much to reflect upon after completion, although even then it won’t be over. The work will be based upon the first night and it’s promotional material only.

I feel there is much still to learn over the next year, and much I heed to do to progress my career plan into a reality. I definitely feel it’s possible and within reach, it all hinges on the progression of my technical abilities to achieve my overall goal. The focus will be on motion graphics and VJ’ing, with promotion and event organising as a side project for live experience. I also aim to start music production as I feel this is another aspect I need to learn in order to complete an all round set of skills that should assist me through my professional life.

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Advanced Web Design – Evaluation

January 14, 2009 at 12:00 am (Advanced Web Design, Evaluation, Research)

At the start of this project I really didn’t see myself having the enthusiasm to create anything half decent, as I had not ever used Flash before, let alone anything to do with coding and actionscript, I felt immediately overwhelmed with all the talk of variables, integers and strings. If I’m honest, I still don’t really understand the majority of the jargon, although I do now understand the principles and structure of the code. I still feel a dictionary of meanings would be the most effective way of understanding the words, as the subtle differences between meanings can be very off putting.

Although what I have produced is very simple and basic, it meets the brief, pulls information from an RSS feed and changes the graphics based on the information it pulls. There is still loads I love it to do, but for what I have and how long I spent on it I feel more than satisfied, especially as its the first time I’ve used Flash.

The two major regrets I have about the final piece is the lack of movement, the bouncing would have been sweet, and the fact the plus and minus are displayed the ‘wrong’ way round from an aesthetic point of view, although this had worked out ok as it looks like the team selection sheets displayed when games are played on TV, with the ‘attacking’ teams further up the pitch and the losing ‘defenders’ pushed right back against their own goal. So in ways its worked out pretty well.

In conclusion, I feel this project has been a huge learning curve, although there is still so much I could learn about both Flash and actionscript. Im not sure how much further I would push myself as far as codings concered, as I am much more interested in the graphical side of the course, creating stuff like the motion graphics and promotional material using software like after effects, photoshop and even packages like maya. Its been ‘fun’ in ways, although 95% of the time its just plain frustrating.

Here is the final flash file in all its glory…

http://mediaweb.aib.ac.uk/fdashow09/dovey/crests_on_screen.swf

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TC Deep (Roni Size VIP) – Evaluation

December 9, 2008 at 10:48 pm (Evaluation, Motion Graphics, Research)

When we started this project I had high hopes of producing an exciting response to the brief, which is exactly what I feel I have achieved. Considering I had minimal knowledge of After Effects prior to this assignment, I felt I coped well with the task and produced a technically sound and aesthetically pleasing final outcome. I felt the 3 input sessions we had with Holley Gray were incredably helpful and I think without them no-one would have produced as good a pieces as they have.

Obviously through using After effects more and more I discovered and developed new techniques, as well as developing my own unique style, and found rather quickly that I liked After Effects. I liked After Effects a lot. The unit was something that played to my strengths, I’ve always been interested in typeography, am heavily involved in music as a DJ and have a certain knack for math and perspective. I found the most time consuming aspect of the piece was chosing the fonts for each particular area and making sure the key frames were sync’d properly. The timing is incredably important, as out of sync text just looks poor. Coming up with fresh ways to transition compositions also became hard as time passed, although changing styles too much would have spoiled the consistency, balance and ambiancy of the final piece. Simplicity was one of the keys to the success of my piece, and although some feedback has pointed out the amount of fonts used I feel this is an essential aspect in painting the feel of the piece. Without this variety and diversity it wouldn’t have half the impact.

In my opinion the most essential aspects of a kinetic type piece are timing, font choice, balance, simplicity and audio choice. To begin with, the audio used can make or break a piece before its even made. I feel my choice was perfect, fast, exciting and to the point, not to long and not to short. As for the other elements, I feel I captured these very well, in particular my syncronisation and font choice. All the text is exactly on time, and the fonts fit the words and paint something imagery couldn’t. Balancing layers so they fit on screen, utilising the space available correctly, is something people can often overlook.

If Im honest, I really dont feel theres anything in my final piece Im unhappy with and would desperately like to change. The occasional font here and there and possibly a small bit of tinkering with a transition ot two, but apart from that Im incredibly happy with my final outcome. The only thing I can think I’d like to do to it to make it better is expand it. Originally I had planned to do another 25 odd seconds, although as I worked through it I quickly decided to cut it shorter, as the techniques are extremely time consuming. As far as I’m concerned this is the only thing I’m disappointed with concerning the work, and apart from that I’m overjoyed with the final outcome and feel it is fit for purpose.

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TC Deep (Roni Size VIP) – Final Piece

December 9, 2008 at 3:16 pm (Evaluation, Motion Graphics, Research)

Here it is in all its glory people. Watch and enjoy, feedback will be greatly appreciated…

Go here http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/video/video.php?v=104283175225 for better quality version…

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TC Deep (Roni Size VIP) – Motion Graphics

December 9, 2008 at 3:14 pm (Evaluation, Motion Graphics, Research)

First edit 28/11/08

This is the first rendered edit of my final piece. As it was only rendered half resolution and quality it’s not the clearest of videos. As my audio is very quick and fast paced the typography naturally comes up very quickly and is therefore hard to animate, as there are so many things happening at any one time. This is a help as much as a hinderance, as the speed makes transitions smoother but creating the compositions much more time consuming. The main focal points to my final piece will be the attention to detail and typography, as I feel this plays a huge part in kinetic type (only using one type font is boring), and the timing of the words, as correct timing can either make or break a good piece of kinetic type. Even if the final piece is technically sound and visually capturing it will lose a huge percentage of its impact with out of sync words.

Second edit 04/12/08

The second edit is rendered properly and so should give you a better idea of the look, feel and layout of the composition. Trough working on the final piece it has struck me just how much attention to detail and timing is needed. At a few certain points things have not quite looked right but through trial and error the smallest of details can hugely change the final outcome of the piece. As you can see, I’ve utilised a lot of type fonts within the piece. I feel this works extremely well, as there is no imagery to look at this gives it an aesthetically pleasing finish. At first I thought to many fonts would complicate it but on working through it I feel this is one of the strongest aspects.

Third edit 07/12/08

As I worked through the piece I started to find I ran out of ways to transition the compositions together. At first I was annoyed by this but after a while I realised changing transitions in radical ways would have lost the pieces consistency. Consistency is important in something like this as without it final outcomes can look extremely unprofessional. As it goes I feel my final piece is fit for purpose and focuses on everything kinetic type should do – typeography, layout, timing, consistency.

After Effects is a great program and one I definitely want to specialise in, maybe for a career choice. I shall certainly be using it a lot more within my work…

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Evaluation Coding – Derelict Audio

April 18, 2008 at 11:33 am (Evaluation, Research)

When we first got the brief for this project I have to admit I wasn’t exactly overly enthused by the prospect of coding. To be fair I’d never really looked at it before so was biased to the idea immediately. What I did like about the brief was the free license to create anything, obviously within the limits of director, which interacted well with its audience. I feel this is where our game excels, as it seemingly hypnotises the user. I never imagined the level of control you could create with the scratching, and feel the idea could well be expanded and evolved to create a full scratch module, possibly even for commercial use.

 

We decided to create a game within a field we were both interested and enthusiastic about, music being the decisive subject. Music was a common interest, and immediately the idea of some kind of scratch game cropped up. Scratching is performed by a DJ manipulating a scratch record whilst cutting in and out with a cross fader to create different formations of sound in time with the beat of a normal tune. This sound’s complicated and is, thankfully I scratch and could record a set of samples to use for the game. We picked a beat and 10 of the best samples. These samples were assigned to the numbers 1 – 10 along the top row of a keyboard and can be chopped and changed at will. It is down to the users musical knowledge to make the scratching sound in time with the beat.

 

The area we struggled with most was definitely getting to grips with the coding. It reminded me of algebra, a subject I’d never really enjoyed. The theory behind its simple enough, but in practice it never seems to work. To be fair it was our first attempt so fine tuning was bound to be an issue, but ultimately I feel we succeeded in what we set out to do. The coding itself is relatively basic, but does easily enough to make it fit for purpose. Apart from that I actually found the project to be fun, something I’d not foreseen. Even though I still don’t exactly find coding stimulating, it’s definitely an ally to have on your side and one to continue learning.

 

Overall, I’m incredibly happy with the outcome of this project, and as I stated earlier, feel it could well be developed further for commercial use. There are so many areas that could be expanded from head to toe. For example, scratches could be incorporated over the entire keyboard, even different samples over different areas of the keyboard. Different beats and changes to the tempo of both beat and samples could be introduced; even animation on the graphics in time with the beat could be added. This is certainly the area aesthetically I’d like to enhance, as I feel the overall game just lacks that visual aspect that could cap it off. The graphics are right, they just need to play about. The possibilities are endless, just as they are in the real scratching world. The game does exactly what we wanted it to do, captivates the user and motivates them to go again and again.

http://mediaweb.aib.ac.uk/fdashow09/dovey/derelictaudio/

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Evaluation – Introduction to Digital Sound and Video

April 8, 2008 at 7:47 pm (Evaluation, Research)

Sonority – Strictly Come Dovey

 

The aim of this unit was to help students develop the skills necessary to create digital sound and video assets for inclusion in multimedia products by creating a 2 minute long viral video to be placed collectively as a group on social networking sites like Youtube. The video was to be in Quicktime format and no larger than 100MB.

 

We decided to base our idea on a scene from an episode of the sitcom ‘Spaced’, shown above. In the scene ‘Tyrees’ enters the room seemingly still high from the night before and imagines household noises composed together as a tune. He is interrupted as the phone, the main sound in the tune, is picked up and the scene ends. Our version will entail the main character, Dovey, arriving at a house just after a rave. After everyone is comfortable and settled, Dovey’s mind will wander and as samples build up the scene will turn to a full on rave in the lounge. After a brief period it will cut to Dovey being woken up after dreaming the whole affair, when he will get up and leave, ending the scene. On first reflection I believe we have a really strong idea for our video, one which will captivate the target audience and one which will hopefully spread through word of mouth without effort.

 

As each member had their own strengths it was relatively easy to split the workload. We would all obviously help plan the idea so we each had knowledge of how we wanted the outcome to look, as well as all film and star in the actual movie. I was assigned to make the music as I have the most experience of music and the  raving culture. We decided a drum and bass/jungly style would be most appropriate for the look, feel and sound we were after. I mix this particular type of music and consequently know all the particular sub-genres that associate with drum and bass.

 

To start with I sourced a load of samples from FlashKit.com to act as placeholders whilst I made a first edit of the tune. As our video is set in a living room I looked for samples that came from objects found in a lounge, such as mobile phones, beer cans and lighters. These are all objects people would be using too.

 

The first step was to create a drum and bass beat at a tempo of around 170 bpm. Beats are a lot more complicated to make as mostly thought, as to get a full, clean sounding kick and snare you need to layer many different sounds, much like photo manipulation. Every layer, every sound is essential for a professionally sounding production. At a first glance this was almost overwhelming, although thankfully I have a friend who produces and so got a few helpful hints from him. Attention to detail is also a nessesity when producing music, as even the finest tweak can make all the difference to the overall sound.

 

With my beat in place it was time to create a bass line. The great thing about Cubase is that you can literally create everything you need for music production on screen with a normal computer keyboard, cutting out the need for musical keyboards, samplers, synthesizers and effects modules etc. I experimented with many different bass sounds and synths, ending up with a deep, grungy tone that I felt accurately captured the overall feel we wanted for the film. After developing this tone I actually decided to see what playing it through a sampler would sound like. Using a sampler gives you slightly more freedom to play with the rhythm and smoother transitions between bass tones.

 

Now I had my basic backing beat I needed to record and layer the sound samples. I did this using a proper microphone and the relevant software. After recording a few of each object the sounds were edited in Cubase to cut any blank noise from either side of the samples. I now had to decide the best way to introduce each sample to make it seem as though the tune has derived from just the one sound. I decided the best way to start was with the tapping down of a cigarette. The repetitive notion of the tapping made a good base to make a symbol roll from. As I wanted the tune to kick in quickly I added another sound every 8 beats for 32 beats, where the actual tune kicks in fully. The second sound is the lighter as the cigarette is sparked and then the beer can opening is introduced after. The mobile sound is introduced lastly and in two parts, and outward message in the build up and an incoming that activates later in the tune.

 

The main problems I had was getting used to using Cubase, as it is large industry based software. As I stated, I had help from a friend who knows the software making the process easier, although with such an intricate piece of software nothing is easy. Cutting out any background noise whilst recording was also an issue as I didn’t have a proper sound studio to record, which is why the samples were edited and cut to just before and just after the sound. Knowing when to stop was also a problem as I had so much fun and so many more ideas that I risked making the audio too busy.

 

To create the music I used:-

 

CuBase SX3

Kontakt

Powercore DSP card

Sony Oxford

RM4 Drum Sampler

Mic

 

Overall I feel the project went well, the only real problems being the equipment we were supplied, as we were not given the correct wire for the microphone. As we could not film another day due to prior commitments we tweaked our idea to allow for this, using basic grunts as dialog and subtitles for text.

 

The only area I’d like to develop further would be using effects on the final edit, funking it up with some psychedelic filters that could help link it back to its original context. As the whole idea revolves around the ‘morning after the night before’ I feel it would create a certain consistency throughout the project. As it is the grimy, raw feel of the video and audio already create this effect to an extent, and I’m extremely happy with how my first attempt at both film and audio production went.

 

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Image Production Techniques – Development and Evaluation

January 16, 2008 at 10:18 am (Evaluation, Research)

Here is the research, development and analysis I have completed for this project. I have presented it as a weblog at the moment as I have not yet created my own personal web site/portfolio. When I have completed my site I will upload all my research and final pieces onto it as a digital guide to my work. Keep watching this space and ill let you know when the site is on the web. Introduction:- introduction1.pdf. Storyboard:- storyboard.pdf. Stages of development:- development-1.pdf, development-2.pdf, development-3.pdf, development-4.pdf. Evaluation:- evaluation-1.pdf, evaluation-2.pdf. Link to Final Scratch Movie:- http://mediaweb.aib.ac.uk/fdashow09/dovey/finalscratchmovie.mov

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Evaluation – MC Wotsee site

December 5, 2007 at 1:09 am (Evaluation, Research)

When first given the assignment I struggled to chose a subject to focus on. There were two paths I could have gone down realistically, basing the site on a graphic artist or a music artist. In the end I decided to go the music route as its an area Im very interested in. At this stage I had to decide whether to concentrate on a specific scene/genre or an individual artist, originally keener on focusing on a scene in general, the Rave scene. As I looked at existing sites and started thinking about content to my site I quickly realised I was setting my sights to high, and that the ideas I was having were too complex for the level Im currently at and the time allocated to complete the assignment. For these reasons I decided to focus on a specific Hardcore MC, MC Wotsee.

Now I had a subject, I needed to decide on content. I completed brainstorms and site maps to help me document ideas, whilst also looking at a range of websites to gain research and ideas for my own site. Links to all these can be found in the research blog for this project. As my site was based on a Hardcore MC, I wanted the design to associate with its target audience of ravers.To do this I needed to look at a range of contrasting colours to represent lights and lasers. From experience of going to raves many of the lasers used are green and blue, with occasional yellow and red. These were the main colours I was to look at, quickly establishing that blue, green, yellow and black gave me the most reminiscent feel of a rave whilst also utilising plenty of contrast. I chose type fonts that were suitable and complimented the design. Choosing the correct fonts is an essential part of any design as its one of the main aspects the user focuses on.

After tweeking areas of the design till I was content I was ready to save everything I needed for Dreamweaver and start putting together the site. I decided to create the site at 1024 x 768, a large resolution but one that any modern computer can hold. I’ve used Dreamweaver before, a while ago, but not the new CS3 version. We had had a demo but there were still many things I was unsure of within the software. At first I had a rough idea of what I needed to do, although as I went on it became evident that stuff I had learnt previously was outdated. The backgrounds I sliced and put into tables, which worked, although I then tried using layers over the top. The problem with layers comes when resizing browser windows, as the layers move with the browser window, which then muddles the layout of the page. This was severely annoying. By this stage I was beginning to run out of time and so my alternatives were limited. One option I looked at was using i-bars to load the main content into. Another was slicing up each individual page with the navigational links included and adding rollovers to the slices with the links in. These both proved time consuming as I tried to figure out the best ways to do it, so much so in the end I had to settle with aligning the table with the background in right to the left so the layers with the links in stayed in place.

If I had more time to bulk out and add extra sections to my site there are definitely certain aspects I would concentrate on. For a start, I feel the site could possibly do with an intro movie, something made in Flash that says ‘welcome to my site’ in an atrractive and interesting way. As the site is on a musician, I had originally wanted audio and video situated on the site. This only became a problem when I tried downloading a free web MP3 player, as the tracks I wanted to use wouldn’t go into the playlist and so weren’t being read by the player. With more time I would also add extra pages to certain sections of the site, such as the biography and images sections. These only have limited information that could easily be expanded to add extra content. I could also expand the sections to include a forum for users to chat to each other on as well as a shop selling MC Wotsee and Hardcore products, such as tape packs and t-shirts.

There are many aspects of the design I am happy with a some that I would change given more time. A main aspect I find works really well is the contrast of colours. This helps relate the content back to the user as it resembles ‘rave’ colours. I also like the font used for the links, and feel they not only compliment the site but are fit for purpose. The imagery is well presented although I feel it could still be taken a level higher, with more interaction and possibly extra element relating to the rave scene. Colours on the whole work well together, although I do feel the green needs dumbing down, made to look more like the intense, vivid lasers used in light shows. The space and simplicity works really well and helps to not confuse the user. A busy site can sometimes be hard to navigate around, making it les easy to use. Overall I am happy with the site, although there are still many areas that could be expanded upon to create a fuller experience. One idea I had was to impliment a social networking element to the site, although this would have created a lot of extra work. I think the idea works and the site has a certain aesthetically pleasing feel to it so I am content, although as I’ve already stated if I had more time I would concentrate on expanding the site whilst adding in extra pages and elements to make a complete experience for the user to leave with.

Link to site:- http://mediaweb.aib.ac.uk/fdashow09/dovey/html/index_page.html 

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