PP2 Distribution

I placed myself in the second task area for this assignment, which focused on creating an opportunity for our audience to see/interact directly with the works we had produced in the studio. As a group we decided early that the best way to encourage the most interaction was with a screening; somewhere modern, outside of the university, where the works could be screened and discussed afterwards over drinks in a casual and welcoming environment. I believe we definitely achieved this goal.

[1. Describe the exact role you took on in ‘finding your audience.’]

Finding an audience for online video has its inherent struggles, as the medium is so new and still developing.

As a group we sat down early to discuss who our audience was, and how we would target them; or how we would ‘find’ them. It was clear from this discussion that we all had a similar idea of our audience: young, both males and females, technologically literate. Education is not essential for our audience, but merely suggests those who are educated would perhaps appreciate the works more.

In essence, my role in finding our audience was to encourage discussion within the group, and then to nail down who this audience was and how we were going to reach them. As the studio is an online one, it was determined reaching the audience via online means would be most effective, and could be supported by print materials.

[2. Highlight the exact tasks you have undertaken in this role.]

My main role for the event was photography, but I also assisted in the lead up to the event with promotion and logistics. Katrina designed the posters for the event, which aimed to promote the event as a casual screening of experimental online video works. They were intended to come across as light hearted, with one of the posters making comedic references to the dying technologies of the walkman, the pager and the obsolete first mobile phones, which have been replaced with more contemporary technologies and mediums. I consulted on the designs of these posters, and assisted in their distribution around campus and at local hot spots, such as Melbourne Central.

During the event I acted as one of the photographers, aiming to keep the photos casual and relaxed, and depict the event as such. I believe I performed well in this role, as I have experience photographing similar events in the past, and was not phased by having to approach people for a photo. Most of the photos turned out well, with the exception of a few that were a result of the low lighting of the event space. I feel I coped with this well, however, and am pleased with the photos.

[3. Who was the audience you were/are looking to attract?]

From our first meeting, the group determined our audience was going to be difficult to define. Online video is still quite niche, and hence narrowing down our audience became difficult. As a benchmark, I believe our target audience to be young, males and females, and to be relatively technically literate. As mentioned, our specific target audience is also likely to be educated, as our works may be appreciated by those with a formal education more than those without.

As the works were online, the broader target audience would be open to a variety of demographic locations, but as the event was a screening in Melbourne, those local to Melbourne are obviously crucial to the target audience of the event.

[4. What strategies within your category have you developed to ‘find your audience’?]

Considering the online nature of the studio and works, a large focus of finding our audience was through online tactics. Facebook was useful in finding a young audience interested in experimental art, and enabled the class to invite friends and family easily. The event was a local Melbourne screening, and hence needed to be targeted at local Melbournians more so. We did this through posters around the university and the Melbourne CBD. Ultimately word of mouth works well with these sorts of events, and I believe this attracted a large amount of our audience, whether they heard about it through Facebook or via traditional word of mouth.

[5. Reflection on the effectiveness of the material and approach you developed/completed. This might include data on the number of people who have attended and any other comments you receive about the events/website etc.]

We approached this task knowing that online video is somewhat out of the norm. As a medium, it’s particularly hard to define, and furthermore, hard to explain to an audience. With that in mind, the event we wanted to hold centred on being modern, and less connected to a pool of university works, but more to an experimental medium capable of making audiences think. Having the screening at Loop Bar – located in the Melbourne CBD and a home of regular arts screenings and events – gave our event a casual and welcoming feel, which saw an audience of approximately 50 people. Given the small size of the venue, and the niche medium that is online video, I was really pleased with the turnout.

The screening itself ran really smoothly, and our audience gave very positive feedback regarding the quality and enjoyability of our work. The works were a great mix and entertainment and experimental, and that seemed to be appreciated by our audience. Launching the website after the event was also effective in bringing back that audience, and reaching a new audience who were unable to attend the screening for one reason or another.

Overall the screening event was successful in its aim to attract an audience, entertain and enlighten that audience, and provide an enjoyable and casual atmosphere. I believe I helped capture some of these moments during the event, as well as contribute to discussions, finding our audience, and marketing to that audience.

View the better photos I took during the event here.

PP2 Research Report

[What aesthetics have to be considered in the production of online video?]

If we were to only consider the Oxford Dictionaries definition of ‘aesthetic’ – adj. “concerned with beauty or the appreciation of beauty,” or n. “a set of principles underlying the work of a particular artist or artistic movement” (Oxford dictionary 2013) – the considerations of aesthetics in the production of online video would be, in theory, relatively simple. Necessary aesthetics to be considered would be related primarily to the visual – lighting, cinematography – and sound. But as a medium, online video requires further considerations related to applied media aesthetics, the basic principle of which is to “clarify, intensify and interpret events for a large audience.” (Zettl 2011, p. 14)

Online video is a medium capable of constant evolvement. Innovation is crucial to its success and classification as a new media medium, but also implies its capability to manipulate and change audience perception is high, and as discussed by Herbert Zettl, a large part of this is due to contextual perception. This is one of the concepts I wanted to explore in my video reflection.

“We perceive our world not in terms of absolutes but rather as changing contextual relationships.” (Zettl 2011, p. 5)

In our first video we explored and experimented with a variety of sound effects. We took a toy baby, cut its head open, and had miscellaneous objects exit the baby. This is shown to the audience through stop motion, accompanied by sound effects that were either an exaggeration of what the audience would have been expecting, or were largely unrelated, and hence unexpected, such as the use of a car horn during the exit of a toy plane. This was originally intended to represent the clash between artist and subject; the process of collaboration and the fallouts that it can create. In hindsight, however, the piece also explores the concept of preconceived ideas of context, and attempts to manipulate these ideas.

“Once we learn how lighting or sound can influence our perceptions and emotions, we are less susceptible to blind persuasion.” (Zettl 2011, p. 15)

Throughout our first video piece, we created a relationship with our audience that was inconsistent, and thereby kept them on their toes. We led them to believe sound effects would correspond with the visual, only to tear that expectation down moments later. This was something I tried to incorporate in my video piece; in the production of online video, aesthetics must go beyond light, colour, space, time/motion and sound, it must address our perceptual reactions to them.

The overall theme of our works of taking something traditional and putting a modern twist on it further aligns with this concept of manipulating perceptual reactions. In our second work, a visual effect was placed on a subject to warp her movements, making her a seamless blur of twists and turns. The audience was encouraged to follow these movements, acknowledging the effect yet still aware of its intended manipulation. Just as the effect begins moving into the norm and expected, it is stopped abruptly, showing the subject’s movements, unedited. The work then takes on a more humorous feel, but intentionally ‘awakens’ the audience from their new expectation of the work; that the effect is now an expected visual element of the work.

This furthers Zettl’s discussion of what he refers to as the “innate urge to stabilize our environment and the practice of selective seeing and perception.” (Zettl 2011, p. 15) The audience was first introduced to a new environment – the effect placed on the subject to manipulate her movements – and was then encouraged to ‘stabilise’ this environment – to make it comfortable, familiar. Once this process had taken place, the audience was then encouraged to perceive the effect as the norm for the piece, and to have that effect continue until the conclusion of the work. Instead, as creators of the piece, we experimented with this expectation, and were able to unsettle and surprise the audience, hence making them aware of this expectation.

As Andreas Treske notes, even the very frame of an image can set viewers expectations. “It has become evident that, in the past, frames as both objects and as concepts have influenced the way that people have perceived, communicated, and acted.” (2011, p. 25) In our third work, we addressed the conscious issue of framing and the frame size. We manipulated the traditional expectation of one image displayed at a time by having 4 images shown simultaneously, and rotated and swapped these frames. The work became a montage of frames within one frame, and made use of a more contemporary modern technique, split screening. As Treske suggests, the more “strongly an object is framed, the more it is separated, emphasized and focused.” (2011, p. 27) Using this split screen technique demands the audience to redefine their definition of the frame. Multiple objects appear to want the attention of the audience simultaneously, forcing the audience to pick, choose and divide their attention according to their own personal interests. The frame becomes an active participant in the viewing of works by an audience. It exists to define the borders of the work, as well as remind the audience this border exists between the work and the outside world. The work of the creator then becomes to negotiate this relationship between the frame and the outside world, and encourage the audience to acknowledge and determine this relationship; “the sliced frame not only refers to the existence of an outside, but also to its absence.” (Treske 2011, p. 27)

Over the semester it has become evident there are certain expectations of online video, as well as those known and expected through general cultural context and everyday media viewing. Our cultural context is something we cannot part from, and so the way we perceive or view a particular object or work is determined largely by this cultural context. In addition, video has developed significantly from where it first began. It is no longer “the exclusive medium of technicians or specialists or journalists or artists – it is the people’s medium.” (Sherman 2008, p. 161) It is available across multiple platforms, multiple forms, and has multiple purposes. This allows for it to become a fluid medium – particularly that of online video. Applied media aesthetics are particularly important for creators to consider when producing online video. If we are to “clarify, intensify and interpret events for a large audience,” (Zettl 2011, p. 14) we must consider our audiences, their perceptions, and their development alongside the medium.

References:

Oxford dictionary (British & World English) 2013, Aesthetic: definition of aesthetic in Oxford dictionary (British & World English). [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/aesthetic. [viewed 24 October 2013].

Sherman, T 2008, Vernacular Video, in: Lovink, G., Niederer, S. (Eds.), Video Vortex Reader: Responses to Youtube. XS4All, Amsterdam, pp. 161–68.

Treske A, 2011, Frames within frames – windows and doors, in: Video Vortex Reader II: Moving Images Beyond YouTube. Ten Klei, Amsterdam, Netherlands. pp. 25-33

Zettl, H 2011, Sight: Applied Media Aesthetics, Wadsworth Cengage Learning – Chapter 1, pp. 3-17

VIDEO REFLECTION

Self assessment summary.

Looking back on a semester in Media Industries 2, I could have done things a lot differently (as usual) to save a large amount of stress, and not just for the seminar series. My work ethic came and went; it wasn’t that I didn’t put any effort in, but it could have just been more consistent. I could have started tasks earlier, and planned my time better so as to not leave team members with too much to do.

To make it easier to form a self assessed grade, I’ve elected to summarise the assessment points separately:

Contribution and collaboration
Collaboration is usually one of my strong points, and I feel this was particularly so throughout the seminar task. I always made sure I was giving constructive feedback and my thoughts and ideas on any the team came up with, and was consistently present at any group meetings.

One of the main things I contributed to the seminar was the tech aspects; the welcome video, which I edited to have the seminar hashtag and upbeat music, and the guest introduction videos. I feel I could have contributed more by organising the promo video team earlier, but having said that we did produce a video we were happy with in a small amount of time. I contributed to the planning of the video, and was present during filming. Unfortunately I was unavailable when Kai and Evan were editing. Again, this could have been resolved if the group had of filmed earlier. I also would have loved to contribute more to editing the highlights video of the actual seminar. I was able to help Kai between work meetings and give my input and ideas, but unfortunately due to work, and Kai having to edit on his own personal laptop, there wasn’t much else I could do.

Proactive learning
The most significant learning experience I personally encountered was putting together the guest introduction videos. I really developed more confidence in my Final Cut skills with this task, and feel I would not have gained this confidence had I not created the videos from start to finish. Georgie and I made rough plans for them and recorded the voiceovers together, then I went home and sourced the content and edited them, and this process has certainly made me more confident in my Final Cut abilities.

Participation
Every semester is always busy, but I feel this semester was particularly so. That being said, I did participate to the best of my ability, attending group meetings, engaging with the group of the main communication channel, the Facebook group, and was just generally a team player. Overall the group was always a good environment, and participation became a natural thing in working towards our common goal.

Connections and intersections
This is an interesting section to describe. What do I see as the value of the seminar series? Overall it was a great way to get to know who you’re working with; giving a group of people a task like that really shows who is in it because they want to be, and who is in it because they have to be. It was a great chance to shove us out into the real world and contact industry professionals, and in a way I’m a bit disappointed I wasn’t involved in that particular process, but then grateful for the PNR assignment. The seminar task gave me insight into putting something like this together; it requires a lot of organisation, team work, and above all, a collective shared vision of the final outcome. Sometimes I felt the team struggled to get a shared vision, which let us down at times. In terms of what I got out of it, it certainly showed me I have to have more confidence in my ability, but also more drive and organisation to be able to achieve the best of my ability.

Grade: HD (80%)
Overall I’m relatively happy with my efforts throughout the seminar task, but a little disappointed in myself I wasn’t more organised to be able to help just that little bit more. Therefore, I’m giving myself a lower end high distinction, because I know there was definitely room for improvement.

The end.

The final stages of the assignment are now being finalised (the stuff we need to hand in to the steering committee, that is), and unfortunately I haven’t had much time to help out (having been assigned to work on the highlights video).

Yesterday Kai went in to edit the footage, but discovered a fair few problems with the way it was uploaded (just copied over, not logged and transferred). This made it quite difficult to edit, and we ended up having to use another program to edit the footage – Premier, rather than Final Cut. This then caused a few issues in that neither of us was familiar with Premier.

The plan was to have the introduction to the seminar, then have a clip of each of the guests, with title at the bottom of the screen stating their name of job title. We weren’t going for anything fancy; just simple highlights. Unfortunately this was easier said than done, as there was a large amount of footage from three cameras.

I stayed for as long as I could – being in between work meetings – but felt pretty terrible about leaving Kai there to edit the footage by himself. I gave my input as best I could, but as time was of the essence and because Kai was editing it on his own personal computer, there was not a lot else I could do unfortunately.

In hindsight perhaps better scheduling could have solved the problem of availability, but unfortunately this tends to happen in the last few weeks of classes.

Ba-bam.

It’s over! Rejoice/huzzah/commence victory dance.

Overall I think the seminar went really well. On IT/Tech, Georgie and I didn’t have any major dramas, other than some of the music on the introduction videos being at slightly inconsistent volumes (not a lot we could do about that). We tweeted frequently during the seminar, and the majority of these were also posted on the Facebook page.

I think we were hoping for a bit more interaction from the audience regarding the twitter and hashtag, but the live twitter feed worked well with the questions we did get; the audience seemed a little shy, but that’s to be expected.

Some improvements/things I learned:
- Getting the timing of the fade for the walk out music (when the guest has been introduced and is on the way to the couch) is hard – some guests move faster than others. This wasn’t too big of a deal.
- Maybe we didn’t really need two hosts? The couch looked a little crowded most of the time.
- The way we handled the guests whilst they were on the couch was a little awkward – some guests were given noticeably more time than others, and some were left to sit on the end of the couch quietly waiting. Perhaps more group discussion could have been encouraged, and a better system to alert hosts to certain timings.
- Decoration was largely focused on the staging area. Perhaps more should have focused on the walls of the room, which were left blank.
- The idea of the mosh pit with the bean bags worked great – it was a shame we weren’t able to source more.

Overall I think the team was really happy with the outcome; we came together well to produce an event that was really enjoyable, and I personally found the experience really rewarding.

More or less content.

So the intro videos are finished, the day before the event, huzzah! Personally I think they look pretty good… but I might be a little biased.

They took me a lot longer than expected, and because I wanted to get them done by this morning, it was quite a late night last night to say the least.

Each video had its individual difficulties, but what it mostly came down to was content: whether the guest had previous career experiences that had been photographed for filmed. The most challenging guest was therefore Melanie Joy, as she was the youngest of the bunch, only recently starting to organise and fund the Melbourne Music and Video festival. Her video was hence a little challenging, and in my opinion the worst of the bunch, in that I only had stills to work with that weren’t too engaging.

Ultimately I really glad I gave the videos a go, though, as I finally learnt how to use Final Cut key frames confidently. It was an intensive 24 hours putting them together and coordinating other commitments, but it honestly was really rewarding to see the end result, and become slightly more confident with final cut.

We’ve also been updating the social media quite regularly, obviously as the seminar draws closer we’ve wanted to get the biggest social media audience as possible. I decided to upload each of the guests profile pictures and bios to the Facebook page, giving our audience a chance to preview what’s in store.

Introduce them guests.

Today Georgie and I got together to discuss what are plans are as far as the tech team goes for the seminar. We both had the feeling that we want to do a little more to introduce the guests, so decided to try our hand at some introduction videos. A bit late in terms of preparation, but better late than never.

We recorded some enthusiastic voice over of Georgie giving a short summary of each guest, and figure we can put that over upbeat music, and include stills of the guests and any video we can find of work done.

Our dream is to create something like the amazing intros they use on shows like Rove, such as this one, but obviously that is a little unrealistic. Regardless, it seems it’s time to dust off those Final Cut Pro skills and watch the magic unfold. Stay tuned!

Dat promo!

Kai has just finished the edit for our promo video, it looks pretty awesome, if I do say so myself. Check it out here.

Overall I think we’re all really happy with it, but I think perhaps it could have been better had we got onto it earlier. But unfortunately, as with most things, the team was all quite busy. Despite this, it came together really well, and I particularly like the fact we went with a laid back yet clichéd feel given the sound track.

This just in: balloon animal expert.

T-minus one week til the seminar!

We’ve launched the posters, shot the video, and launched the social media.

Shooting the video was an enjoyable experience. Kai took the lead on the camera, and was assisted by myself, Rebecca and Barbara. We made a whole bunch of balloon animals (I’m not an expert – thanks Barbara), made Rebecca’s house look like it had a rough night, and spelt out ‘good bad offal’ with sausages in Rebecca’s bathroom.

We shot it using a DSLR and a GoPro for point of view shots, which worked really well in conveying a ‘hung over vibe’. We cast Rebecca from a number of talented auditionees (just her), and first created a sense that she was a staff member getting ready for a festival. We shot her making balloon animals, picking out a shirt to wear, and working on the computer to establish the ‘beginning’ of the click. From there, we’ll edit in stock footage of a music festival. After this, we’ll put in the shots of Rebecca waking up dizzily, climbing up the stairs which are covered in balloon animals, throwing up in the toilet (edited out with only the sound and the text ‘explicit content’ on a black screen), and finding ‘good bad offal’ spelt in the bath and on the bathmat in the bathroom.

Unfortunately I had to leave just before we finished shooting, but overall it went really smoothly and was – as always with these guys – really enjoyable.

Making the Cut


Wow! Making The Cut was such an impressive seminar, and it was actually intimidating to experience.

I was greeted with an impressive program themed around a TV guide. As I walked into the room, the background graphic on the screen was immediately eye-catching, and the music – classic and well-known TV show theme songs (including Saddle Club, win!) – made walking in an enjoyable experience. Lollies in mini Chinese takeaway boxes with ‘TV Dinner’ scrawled on them were placed on seats, which added to the overall TV vibe already established.

The guests were simply awesome. Emma Freeman was a great guest given her experience – still young, but already accomplished so much. Offspring and Puberty Blues are impressive on their own, but upon Googling her, she’s done a lot more. She had some interesting advice to give about working on a set, as well as some interesting stories. Chris Bendall was also really insightful, having worked on the Today show and currently The Project. He offered interesting behind the scenes insights into producing the news, which lead in nicely to final guest, Peter Hitchener. Peter Hitchener is just such a lovely, loveable guy, and his persona captivated the room.

Tom was a great all-round host, adding in his personal charm to make the guests feel comfortable, and overall created an enjoyable environment for the audience as well. Questions were well thought out, and aimed perfectly at targeting jobs, networking, and experiences in the field.

The whole seminar ran really smoothly, and I was particularly won over with each of the guest introduction videos, as well as the starting and ending video of Tom doing his thing. It seemed all the finer details had been planned to a tee. If I was to suggest any minor improvements, it would only be to supply more food; I was a bit devastated when all the carrot sticks were consumed by people other than me. The team also could have done up the walls of the room more, but the stage set up looked great and functioned really well. But really, that’s it. I genuinely had a great time, and was really impressed with the effort put in to create such a smooth, enjoyable seminar. I hence gave the guys a HD; top stuff!