I am writing this on a bus home to Kingston, so this feels oddly symbolic. I mean, I’m literally just going home for the weekend, to hang out with my fam and my dog, eat some good food, and sleep on a decent mattress for a couple of nights – it would be much more profound if I was like doing my last blog post and also leaving Toronto, like, ~forever~… but then that would also mean I was dropping out of school, which I’m definitely NOT planning on doing anytime soon. Regardless, a bus is a pretty good place to wrap up this blog – they’re places of transition, taking people from one place to another – and as fall semester wraps up I’m feeling kind of “in transition” myself.

Self-reflection is a beautiful but difficult thing, so forgive me as I clumsily attempt to articulate it with some semblance of style. I’ve learned a lot about myself and the world through this semester, and especially this class. It’s the class that I struggle with the most, but also the class whose challenges I find the most engaging. I don’t mind saying that I’m a super type-A high achiever type at times, and it kind of bummed me out to be so flummoxed by all the software and processes we used. Why couldn’t I just be NATURALLY good at it?! (I AM aware that that’s just the way the world works but that doesn’t mean I can’t resent it!) However, my initial confusion meant that the pride I felt when I figured out how to do something or made something that looked cool was that much more satisfying.

So yeah, I’ve learned some stuff. My Photoshop-ing abilities have increased by about 200%. My motion graphic stills aren’t still anymore and it truly feels so good that I made that!! (Even if the assistance of lab instructors, lab assistants, and some incredibly talented pals of mine can be largely credited for the fact that they now move. S/O to them for their patience!!) I spent some loooong nights in the lab at the RCC because doing good work takes time! And at the end of the day, I’m pretty proud of most of what I’ve cooked up. Probably the most important thing I’ve learned is a bit more about the way I need to tackle new things. When I started using Photoshop and AfterEffects, I tried reading tutorials and watching videos on Lynda but then I would just forget everything right away. I really need to just jump in and start trying stuff if I want to learn anything!

In the future there’s definitely a lot more I’d like to learn. I’d like to develop my artistic style a bit, and figure out what works for onscreen, because I’m finding out that although I have a pretty comfortable and established artistic style when I draw and paint, it’s not necessarily best-suited for the work I want to make when I translate it to the screen. I want to try some stop-motion using photography, to learn how to do things that look really 3D. Mostly I just want to keep experimenting and exploring and failing and then trying again – struggling towards success! RTA 103, it’s been swell.




MOTION GRAPHICS: be STILL my beating heart

For my After Effects project, I am creating a book trailer for Apocalypse for Beginners by Nicholas Dickner. Set (predominantly) in 1989, the book tells the story of Mickey Bauermann, who’s quiet existence in the small town of Rivière-du-Loup is disrupted when Hope Randall and her mother move to town. The Randall family has a history of receiving prophetic visions of the date of the apocalypse, and, when the end of days fails to arrive, slowly going crazy. Set against this somewhat foreboding backdrop, however, the heart of the story is really about two strange, lonely young people brought together by common feelings of isolation and longing, who together are a little less lonely.

My goal for this trailer is for it to capture this feeling. For the first still I chose to create a suburban streetscape, conceivably one that either Hope or Mickey could live on. It’s somewhat sparse with muted colours, and it’s nighttime, because I think these elements mirror the sparse, lonely mood. In the first still there is a single illuminated window to create a sense of isolation: the only lit up window on a dark street. In the second still the light has gone out and we zoom in on the basement below that house, where the glow of a now-illuminated TV screen shows the silhouette of two people sitting on the couch in front of it. In Apocalypse for Beginners Hope and Mickey spend a lot of time together in Mickey’s basement watching the news, and so by showing this after the solitary light I wanted to show how they are brought together by their “unusual” mutual interest and find solace in each other. In the final still it has zoomed in past the couch to the television screen to show that they’re watching a mushroom cloud overlaid with the text “Apocalypse for Beginners”. It was important to me to include some apocalypse imagery, the mushroom cloud being the most ubiquitous, because although it isn’t the most important element in the book (despite the fact that it IS in the title), it nevertheless undercuts the whole novel with a constant sense of unease.

I am sure by now you are DYING to see these prototype stills! Well, here they are:

Still #1

Still #1

Still #2

Still #2

Still #3

Still #3

For these images I was inspired by the work of artists such as Chris Turnham, who does some really beautiful, spare images of suburban spaces…

… as well as Douglas Coupland, whose considerable body of work often tackles similar feelings of isolation, identity, and the effect technology can have in society. A lot of his visual art work is features bold colours and shapes, which I tried to emulate a bit here.

To animate this, I am mainly planning on using the scale effect and the parallax effect. A lot of the transitions that I want to occur are movement such as panning down or zooming in. I kept a lot of elements layered so that I can create the feeling of 3D motion, with the camera zooming in past the couch and closing in on the TV screen. I am also planning on animating the mushroom cloud, making it grow to the size seen in the final still, and will maybe do so using stop motion animation.

I’m excited to take on the challenge of animating my stills, but I am a little nervous, partly because I somehow lost most of the layers that built up my first still. Overall though I’m stoked and optimistic about how it will turn out!!

Telephone in the Toilet: Seeing the World Through a Transmedia Lense!

A couple of days ago I was hanging out in the Pitman caf, eating some sub-par soup, when my sister came bursting in with an odd set of demands: “I need your vacuum, your watch, and to download Tinder onto your phone.” Mysterious, no?!

In fact, not quite! She had simply dropped her phone in the toilet. (Tragically L) BUT alternatively this could be an intriguing start to a transmedia property! It’s like the start of a mystery: get all your twitter followers guessing what the items are for. If they find her Tinder profile there will be a secret clue waiting there (Saying that if you want to meet up with her, she’ll be at Metro buying rice. Because that’s where she went next: to Metro to buy some rice to put her phone in). And once they figure it out they can send messages and post YouTube videos to suggest what, if anything, they have done to revive their phones after subjecting them to water damage! This could perhaps be done to raise awareness about responsible phone ownership and the importance of not dropping your phone in the toilet.

P.S. Can YOU figure out the importance of the three items? Add your guesses to the comments!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

As for my thoughts on transmedia? Well, I LOVE the following things:

  • Board games
  • Treasure hunts
  • Pop culture
  • Mysteries

SO it stands to reason that I would LOVE transmedia! And I DO! But only sometimes. Sometimes it full-on creeps me out. When the line between reality and virtual spaces blurs to the point where participants can no longer distinguish between the two, I get increeeeedibly uneasy! Some transmedia projects take players down the rabbit hole to the point of no return and to me that is super incredibly disturbing.

HOWEVER, although there are definitely some pretty wack transmedia properties out there, there are WAY more super awesome examples! One of my faves is Arcade Fire’s roll-out campaign for their latest album Reflektor. I remember my older sister going to Osheaga and randomly noticing a five-second video clip of someone spray painting a mysterious logo on a wall. Then it started showing up all around the world as chalk graffiti, with the date 9/9/9. WHAT DID IT MEAN?! By the end of August, Arcade Fire took responsibility for the graffiti and on September 9th at 9am they launched a website featuring an interactive music video for the album’s first single. They also began advertising through more traditional platforms, like a guest appearance on SNL and a half-hour special afterwards (featuring Michael Cera?!). They also put on a secret show, advertised as The Reflektors and only admitting people dressed in costumes or fancy clothes. When the album was finally released the hype was REAL. How cool? So cool!! There’s definitely some that are a bit more extensive or interactive but I’m pretty sure this is one that I was the most engaged in.

This week’s lecture is forcing me to re-evaluate my life. Between my difficulties with digital media, my love for audio AND film and also the aforementioned unease that I sometimes feel related to transmedia, I was thinking I probably wouldn’t choose it as an area of focus for next year. BUT there is so much creativity in transmedia! I just really love the whole story-building, interactive, cross-platform approach. It’s definitely something to think about.