Audience Participation

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The history of audience participation dates long back and is something generally liked by the public. Somehow we feel more connected to a piece by participating in it. It makes us feel important as having a role, not only as a spectator but as a participator.

Beautifully explained on Tate Museum´s website, participatory art is a term that describes a form of art that directly engages the audience in the creative process so that they become participants in the event.

Allan Kaprow changed the game with his 1961 installation `Yard´. He deemed it a `happening´ for the audience to participate in. The viewers were encouraged to take part in the artwork by walking on the tires and move them around.

Kaprow’s believed there was no difference between the spectator and the art piece; by participating the audience became part of the composition.

This weeks presenters also touched on Yayoi Kusama´s interactive installation `Flower obsession (2017)´. Which I think is another excellent example of participatory art. The viewers were Invited to cover the interior with flower stickers in the obliteration room.

A couple of months ago I went to the Triennial exhibition at NGV and I participated in Kusama’s `Flower obsession´. Among many others I was encouraged to participate by placing flower stickers anywhere in the domestic rooms of the installation.

This is intriguing with art because traditionally, and with many famous works, exhibition guests are not allowed to touch anything and sometimes you are not even allowed to take photographs. I have lost count on how many times I would have to sneak-photograph (No flash, of course!) because I want something to remember it by.

This particular way of participating is a great way of remembering. I will never forget the day I placed a flower sticker on a toilet in Kusama’s art installation at the NVG.  

In my opinion, audience engagement is nothing but positive and I somehow want to incorporate that into my own project. I aim to get the audience to actively engage with the characters by integrating the use of social media into my fictive narrative. Thereby the audience is free to participate by commenting and discussing the story as it is evolving.

 

References:

-. (-). PARTICIPATORY ART. Available: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/p/participatory-art. Last accessed 14th April 2018.

-. (-). Important Art by Allan Kaprow. Available: http://www.theartstory.org/artist-kaprow-allan-artworks.htm#pnt_4. Last accessed 16th April 2018.

-. (2017). YAYOI KUSAMA. Available: https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/exhibition/ngv-triennial/. Last accessed 20th April 2018.

 

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Transmedia: Audience Demand and Screen Addiction

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Without even realising we have become transmedia addicts. Due to the high audience demand, we are looking at the future of digital media. Transmedia is not just a fad, it is rather a growing trend.

With the help of digital technologies transmedia tells a story using multiple platforms. Or as Jenkins defines it; “Transmedia storytelling represents a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience. Ideally, each medium makes its own unique contribution to the unfolding of the story” (Jenkins 2011).

There is a high demand to stay entertained. Nowadays we can engage without even turning on the television set. I cannot speak for others than myself but I rarely stick to only one device. While watching television I’m almost always on my phone or laptop googling that particular show and I often discuss my findings with others on social media. As Begeal (2013) writes audience focus is shifting, they are engaging on more than one platform and are demanding more from their entertainment.

Television is now bigger than the TV (Evans 2011). We incorporate so many devices into our daily lives. Evans (2011) further argues the internet has become a key site for engagement with audio-visual media of all kinds, from broadcast material to professionally produced `webisodes´ to user-generated content.

One of the key findings in the report Online and On Demand 2017´, compiled by Screen Australia, found that the majority of VOD users active on social media are watching screen content via these services. YouTube, Facebook, and younger audiences dominate but there is potential for growth across all demographics. 

In today’s society, we operate on so many devices. We never truly `switch off´ and therefore we are no longer satisfied with only one screen- we follow multiple. And as users, we feel the need to interact with the content- watching one TV show just won’t do it anymore. As screen addicts, we need to interact and participate to not get bored. 

It is clear how we incorporate social media into our daily routines- including our TV time. What we need to do now is further work on this technique of storytelling. I see endless possibilities and opportunities. We have an exciting future ahead and who knows what it might have in store for us.

The group presenting talked about the transmedia project “The Truth About Marika (2007)”  a participative drama series and a good example of an early project which incorporated multiple platforms. I remember it being in the news years ago and a lot of people believing it was real. It is what SVT called fiction without limits. The series got an entire nation actively involved.

At this point, I’m pretty confident I want to tell a story using transmedia elements. All the content will be published on a website. In between the episodic videos, the viewer can also follow the characters interactions via texts and their social media presence, which will be published on the main platform.  This approach will be best suited for my project because the different mediums bring context to and also complements the story.  

The more I think about it the more confused I get, so my first approach will be planning the narrative from the beginning and consider platforms I am to use while writing. 

 

References:

Begeal, J. (2013). Transmedia Storytelling 101. Available: https://prezi.com/69exjuet3mnx/transmedia-storytelling-101/. Last accessed April 25th 2018.

Evans, E (2011). Transmedia Television: Audiences, New Media, and Daily Life. New York: Routledge. p1-5.

Jenkins H. 2011, Confessions of an Aca-Fan (blog), available at http://henryjenkins.org/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

-. (2018). Online & On Demand 2017 Trends in Australian online viewing habits. Available: https://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/getmedia/f06697b8-07be-4a27-aa8b-bc3ad365238c/OnlineOnDemand_2017.pdf. Last accessed 20th April 2018.

 

Database Narrative: A Sea of Structured Opportunity?

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Database and Rhizome narratives are both hard structures to wrap one’s head around, let alone define. As one of the presenters this week, I was struggling with the understanding of the concept. 

Manovich (2001) defines database as a collection of individual items where every item has the same significance as any other. In other words; database narratives do not tell stories.

“Many new media objects do not tell stories; they do not have a beginning or end; in fact, they do not have any development, thematically, formally, or otherwise that would organize their elements into a sequence. Instead, they are collections of individual items, with every item possessing the same significance as any other” (Manovich 2001).

As explained in the week 4 content; “The challenge of the rhizome structure is to create a narrative interface that allows the user to access it in a systematic manner. A narrative with a rhizome structure may have a defined beginning and ending, but in its centre each node may be linked to any other node”.

A good example of a rhizome narrative is the interactive website Wind and Words.

The website contains records of all dialogue interactions between the entire Game of Thrones´ cast from the first 6 seasons, as well as recording how many words were used and what words were used the most in each season. The design and interaction are intriguing, for example, each season has a ring of characters and with the ring are a web of interactions between each character. Users can hover over each line to see how many lines of dialogue was exchanged between one character to another. One can also look at the highs and lows of each character from each season (Bear 2017).

Going back to Manovich´s definition; Wind and Words is not telling a story.  It has no beginning or end but is rather a collection of data for the users to interact with.

For my project, I´m interested in working with multiple platforms and I guess the social media aspect of it could work as a database of photos etc. It is an interesting narrative, but I am not entirely sure on how to incorporate it.

 

References:

Manovich, L. (2001) The Language of New Media, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press

Bear, WC. (2017). 20 AMAZING INTERACTIVE WEBSITES FOR YOUR INSPIRATION. Available: https://www.webcoursesbangkok.com/blog/interactive-websites/. Last accessed 16th March 2018.

http://beta.wind-and-words.com/

Plot-Structure: Linear versus Non-Linear Narrative

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The narrative of a piece is what holds the entire thing together. Linear is a story that follows one singular line of narrative (beginning-middle-end). whereas non-linear tends to break up the simple line and put it back together in a different order.

One of my all-time favourite movies, True Romance (1993), is a romantic action story which unfolds in a chronological order. We follow the lovers, Clarance and Alabama, from the beginning till the end. It’s a story about love and drugs and a hella lot of bad people.

“In Detroit, a lonely pop culture geek marries a call girl, steals cocaine from her pimp, and tries to sell it in Hollywood. Meanwhile, the owners of the cocaine – the Mob – track them down in an attempt to reclaim it.” – (IMDb)

This violent romance is directed by the late Tony Scott. The original script, by Quentin Tarantino, was written as a non-linear narration and therefore Scott followed the script truthfully during production. But somewhere in post-production Scott decided to rearrange the movie into chronological order.

Tarantino himself utter that the scenes in Scott’s version are very close to his original script, but that the original structure is very different. It was the structure Scott didn´t use.

You can watch Tarantino´s commentary here:

In the original script, we are dropped right into the middle of the story and it doesn’t have that typical mainstream happy ending where the two lovers get away with all the money, name their son Elvis and live happily ever after. In the original script, the outcome is much darker, Clarence actually dies in the final shootout.

There is an alternate ending out there where Alabama gets away with the money. As a monologue, Alabama narrates how much she resents Clarence for not wanting to walk away from it all. Now he is dead and can only blame himself. She sounds bitter and resentful. The whole thing is a bit harsh. The alternate ending definitely changed my presumption of Alabama as a person and her love for Clearance. But even though I like Scott´s happy ending I would have liked to see Tarantino’s original adaptation. It’s hard to tell if it would have been better, or just different.

When all comes down to it there is no structure better than the other. It all depends on one’s preferences. Tarantino truly masters the art of non-linear storytelling so I am confident it would have been a good version. 

The group presenting this week did a fine job in explaining the different structures. I especially liked how they used Shawshank Redemption as an example to explain linear storytelling. It made the structure clear for the audience. Although, I did get a sense that the research for each theme was done individually and not as a group. their presentation would have been stronger if they combined their material, or at least picked up where the last presenter ended.

I have put a lot of thought into my project this week and I am currently toying with the idea of writing it as a non-linear narrative. The thing is, (in my head) I haven’t fully developed the storyline and as I want to make a transmedia project I am unsure if it will work or not. I am also keen on publishing the content in real time so that completely puts me off the idea. The more I think about how I am going to attack this, the more complicated it gets.

Man With a Movie Camera- A Soviet Montage

Sandra Gaudenzi contemplate the different forms of interactivity as either semi-closed- where the user can browse but not change the content, semi-open- where the user can participate but not change the structure of the interactive documentary, and the completely open where the user and the interactive documentary constantly change and adapt to each other, like with the global remake of Dziga Vertov´s Man with a Movie Camera (1929).

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Man with a Movie Camera

Vertov wanted to show reality not tell a story. He was part of the Kinoks group, which were against mainstream cinema. The group proposed their own ideas about filmmaking and believed it had to show reality, not fantasy.

What is so fascinating about Man with a Movie Camera is Vertov´s early use of film techniques. It demonstrates many of today’s cinematic techniques such as non-linear editing, Dutch tilts, split screens, double exposure, dissolving, freeze frames, extreme close-ups, fast motion, slow motion and jump cuts. It has been named the best documentary of all time. At first glance, it might not look like much. After all, it’s just a bunch of clips put together to show the everyday life in the Soviet Union. But I think the film is visually impressing. It doesn’t have a storyline or real actors. The cameraman and the editor act as characters in this documentary. We see the cameraman in frame shooting and the editor cutting shots together into sequences.

It is a documentary about the making of a documentary, as much as it is a documentary.

Man with a Movie Camera is about precisely that; a man with a movie camera. He captures the city in motion and we see the actual camera capturing it. The next scene shows a marriage before it cuts back to the camera swirling over the city and the following frame shows another couple signing divorce papers. In another scene, a funeral session is cut to a live birth. Its use of cinematic metaphors is thrilling. It shows us the beginnings and endings of love and life and above it all the viewer sees the actual camera capturing it all.

I am intrigued by documentary filmmaking but for my project, I don´t want to be dependent on others in that sense. I am pretty certain I´m going through with a fiction story. I do like Vertov´s film techniques and I am truly impressed and I seek inspiration from it. A story is so much more than content. It´s about style, technique, how you present it etc. Looking at the different clips I have discussed there is so much I can use in a fictive sense of an adaptation of reality.

 

References: 

Aston, J., & Gaudenzi, S. 2012, Interactive documentary: setting the field, Studies in Documentary Film, 6(2), 125–139. http://doi.org/10.1386/sdf.6.2.125_1

-. (-). man with a movie camera (1929). Available: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0019760/. Last accessed 11th March.

-. (-). man with a movie camera. Available: http://dziga.perrybard.net/. Last accessed 11th March.

-. (2007). Dziga Vertov (1896-1954). Available: https://web.archive.org/web/20070823193645/http://cours.cegep-st-jerome.qc.ca:80/511-411-p.l/vertov.htm. Last accessed 11th March

 

Confessions of a Serial Binger

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I have always enjoyed watching series. In the recent years, I’ve grown more fond of binging series. It has, in fact, become a great obsession of mine, almost to the point, I have become addicted.

Does binge-watching series make its story world feel more intriguing? I certainly believe it does. I recently powered through the first four seasons of Bates Motel. The series is a contemporary prequel to Hitchcock’s masterpiece Psycho, based on the novel, of the same name, by Robert Bloch. I´ll stay brief, in fear of spoiling anything, but the first four seasons portrays the lives of Norman Bates and his mother Norma, prior to the events depicted in the novel and film, which also leads up to the fifth and final season of the series. It didn’t take many episodes before I was completely obsessed with and lost in the story world- and the minds of the wacky characters.

Even though the series’ lead actors, Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore´s performance is astonishing and very convincing it’s not like I reason with the characters, their state of mind and their doing, but constantly watching and getting sucked into their world forms a certain type of bond. While not watching I think of them and wonder how they are holding up. How are my favorite characters of this week doing?  What is going to happen next? Etc.

Having to wait for new episodes to be released wouldn’t intrigue me in the same way- because I simply got no time for that sort of thing. The story of our generation, right? We want it all and we want it now.

And I am absolutely certain I would not have felt the same way if I were to wait a week for each episode. 

How can I be so sure, you might ask?

The very same reason I fell out of love with an old obsession of mine; Sons of Anarchy (SOA).

This might come as a shocker; Bates Motel isn´t the first story world that has had me sucked in and swallowed whole. A couple of years back SOA was my first, my last, my everything. The series, created by Kurt Sutter, runs over 7 seasons. The first 6 which I binged and the 7th and final season I had to wait till every Monday to watch the newest episode.

During my life (first 6 seasons) with SOA, I couldn’t wait to run home from where ever I was to binge another season. I even remember turning down a date because staying home watching SOA with my mate felt more important. Again, without any spoilers; My hopes, my dreams, and my nightmares were affected by the parallel plot lines which intertwined and overlapped throughout the series, focusing on the protagonist Jax Tellers´ (Charlie Hunnam) personal life and his motorcycle club SAMCRO. I felt like SOA was a part of me- and I was part of the SOA world. Looking back, I probably binged too hard.

After finishing the 6th season I couldn´t do anything but wait and my expectations set me up for disappointment. It ended with a bang and when the 7th and final season aired; US time- which meant having to wait a full week for each episode- I was fired up but my obsession shortly burnt out. For each episode, the world of SOA felt more and more distant to me and the buzz was killed. If only I could have binged it… 

Thinking of the project idea I am to develop over the coming semester, the only thing I am certain of at this point is that I want to make fiction- simply because I love writing. Also, whatever I am writing has to be episodic and released over a short period of time. Because who has the time to wait in this day and age?

 

References: 

-. (-). Bates Motel. Available: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2188671/. Last accessed 8th March 2018.

-. (-). Sons of Anarchy. Available: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1124373/?ref_=nv_sr_1. Last accessed 8th March 2018.

 

#6 Reflection on the course

My goal for the semester was to get hands on with all parts of a production. Already, the semester has come to an end and I must say that it has really lived up to my expectations. I´ve gotten so much out of the tutorials. Everything from learning how to operate a camera in a professional manner to recording sound and really paying attention to the environment and the background. I´ve learned the importance and power of proper lighting.

A couple of months ago I was only watching movies. Now, anytime I put on a movie I am so focused on and compelled by the camera work, the framing, the use of different shots and angles. I pay attention to the lighting and the effects of it, the audio and how sound effects and ambiance is layered in the post-production. A simple thing as watching a movie is a totally different experience now.

As I am used to mostly working independently, the course has thought me how to collaborate better with others. I´m still tempted to step in and offer a helping hand or try to do everything myself, but I now see the importance of sticking to your assigned role because that´s what makes it all go around.

 

#1 Rockumentaries

 

In the book `Introduction to Documentary´ (2010) Nichols list Some specific qualities of the observational documentary mode. It´s limited by what occurs in from of the camera, for example, it would be hard to represent historical events. The observational mode documentary attempts to observe aspects of the historical world as they happen.

This mode typically has no voice over, no supplementary sound or music, no re-enactments, no interviews or no behaviour repeated for the camera. As a filmmaker, you give up full control of sound to record what is said and heard in a given situation. This type of documentary is character driven and should simply be scene after scene of raw footage strung together.

Nichols (2010) mentions some good historical examples in his book. Gimme Shelter (1970), about the Rolling Stones´infamous concert at Altamont, California, where a man´s death at the hands of the Hell´s Angels is partially caught on-camera. Another one for the history books would be Monterey Pop (1969), about a music festival featuring legends such as Otis Redding, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, The Jefferson Airplane, and others.

One of the reasons observational documentary filmmaking is so appealing to me is because, as Nichols write; “In fiction, scenes are specifically contrived for us to oversee and overhear, whereas documentary scenes represent the lived experience of actual people that we happen to witness” (2010).

What immediately popped into my head while reading about the observational mode was music. My childhood dream was to be a music journalist, more specific; A Rock N´ Roll journalist. 15 years later I´m still keen on the idea. I would absolutely love to make performance-based documentaries AKA Rockumentaries. For example, follow a band on tour to capture a more intimate side, not only as performing artists but also as people.

 

 

References: 

Nichols, B (2010). Introduction to Documentary. 2nd ed. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press. 172-179.

#4 Mini Documentary

VOX POP 

Reflection on the three stages of the Vox Pop production.

Pre-Production 

During pre-production, we assigned the different roles for each group member. We discussed how we would approach the interviewees since it can sometimes be tricky to get people on camera (strangely, some are to shy). Our tutor handed out questions that were to be asked. To give the overall a better flow, we re-phrased a set of questions that we would use.

We also went on a location scout. We found a really good area with amazing light, but unfortunately, because of the construction, it was too noisy. We eventually found a good spot, on the floor right above the library entrance.

Production

During the production, we set up shop and made sure everyone was comfortable with their assigned role. My role was the interviewer, so because of our choice of location, I had to go around and fetch interviewees. Not much through-traffic in our corner.

While I was conducting the interviews, I constructed the interviewees to repeat the question in their answer. This because I already had a plan for how it would look like when I edited it together. I also told them not to stare directly into the camera. I tried to control that by standing on the side of the camera, which we can see clearly in the footage (where their eyes are focusing). 

The boom operator did a good job with the sound, and the interviewees spoke clear and well. Unfortunately, we had some construction noise disturbing during some of the questions.

For a better next time performance, I think we´ll stay a little longer during the location scout in case some construction noise comes up. That way we´re aware (and prepared). It was hard to find any backup location since the task required us to be in the library.

Post-production

After importing the different audio and footage into Adobe Premiere Pro, I started organising the files. I created bins for the sorted through footage and named the different files. Next, I merged the audio and video and made sure they were in sync. Our group was very organised during the production, and because all the interviewees had to sign consent forms, it was an easy task trying to figure out all the interviewees’ names.

In Premiere, the project was organised in a very satisfying way that made it easy to work with. While editing I went through the interviews selecting answers to the same question adding them together in the sequence. During the first edit, I didn´t jump from interviewee to interviewee throughout the questions and it didn´t flow well. To make it clean I decided to cut it like all the interviewees’ answers first, second etc. question repeatedly.

I wasn´t very happy with the lighting. All the Vox Pop footage was affected by a harsh lighting and to much shadow. Some of them actually looked like something out of a horror film. Not suited for this “What-do-you-think-of-the-new-library” type of documentary. Therefore, during the first minute of the edit, I´ve tried out different colour gradings, especially focusing on low saturation in some of the clips. 

 

INTERVIEW

Reflection on the three stages of the Interview production.

Pre-Production

The pre-production was mostly learning about lighting and setting the mood for the interview. I watched this three point lighting (also known as documentary lighting) tutorial which was really helpful. It´s basically about lighting the subjects from three different sources in order to control the shadows and balance the contrast.

Production

We started out by rigging up all the camera equipment and setting up the lighting. We used key light, which is the main source, fill light and backlight, which separates the subjects from the background. My role was recording the sound. Since we were operating with a boom we did a test round, to check sound levels for all the participants.

The topic was “Home” but we narrowed it down to a discussion about the participants’ neighborhoods. One of the participants were selected host and lead the conversation around the table. Everyone spoke in turn and there was some discussion. A problem we faced was a lack of communication from beforehand because some of us thought we agreed on having the boom in the shot and others did not. Since the conversation around the table went so freely we felt like we couldn´t interrupt. There were some bad attempts trying to get eye contact with the crew. For the sake of the sound, the boom operator had to hold the boom higher and higher, which is tiring. All the twitching and movement resulted in a lot of noise which we can hear in the edit. In addition; next time we need to have more shot variations.

Post-production

After merging audio and video I made sure that the footage was synced correctly. There wasn´t really much footage to work with, so I decided to rather than focusing on making a finished edit I would experiment with different colour gradings. I wanted to try different colour grades to see different effects (the additional clips at the end of the edit).

To fix the sound, I tried to adjust the levels and block out the noise but it didn´t really work out great.

The best documentary pieces I see is when the interviewees are “controlling” the documentary. In the edit I wanted the participants/the interviewees to lead the conversation. Therefore, I didn´t add any explanation text.