Monthly Archives: February 2014

Van Styles

Whilst still thinking along the lines of photography, I became more interested in looking at the work of other photographers and looking at what techniques they used to make their pictures stand out and look appealing. My favourite photographer at the moment is Van Styles. He started with photographing and videoing skateboarding which has had a great influence in his work, which moved on to photographing models for streatwear and fashion shoots. I decided to look at some of his pictures and how they linked with the theories and techniques we’ve looked at and used.

All the pictures i’m using as examples are taken from his blog which has a mixture of photos from his work with models, to landscapes and random moments. 

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I like the colours on this picture of the beach, the pink shades make the sunset stand out and it just looks really cool. 

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This picture was shot using black and white film at night which gives it the iconic grainy texture. The lack of colour makes the lights really prominent. The rule of thirds has been used with the main detail being framed in the center. This give it a level of symmetry which makes it visually appealing. 

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This one uses perspective and lines to make it really stand out. All the lines in the tunnel point your eye toward the light at the end which is the main focus of the image. I also like the balance of light in the foreground and background, where the mid-ground is a lot more shadowed, making the end of the tunnel seem even brighter.

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This last one also uses the rule of thirds with the toy bear as the main subject. I particularly like the lighting on this one with the darker, and more grimy foreground, contrasted with the clearer and brighter background. 

 

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Time-lapse

Today I made a time-lapse video. Putting my phone against the window, I used an app to take pictures ever second of the road outside (beautiful view, I know). I chose this short interval so that I could do the time-lapse of a short duration as I need my phone and didn’t want to leave it for too long. There was also the limitation of storage space for the images. If I was to do this again, I would use a longer interval and do it over an extended period, saving the images on to something with more storage space.  I took ~300 pictures and then cropped them down to 720p resolution using command line tools in terminal. From here I used FFmpeg to put the pictures into a 25fps video and add a fade-in to the beginning so there wasn’t a sudden start to it. I made a watermark to go on the video in Illustrator and then some music using the loops in GarageBand to accompany it. For the music, I went for a deep house style, as that is typically what is used in time-lapse videos in my experience.

The whole project was put together using FFmpeg to make this nifty little video. This different way of editing pictures and making the video came was very useful for batch cropping and resizing large quantities. If I was to do this using Creative Suite software it would’ve taken a lot longer to do despite achieving the same result.

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Tap

Tap

Another hand drawn animation, this time of a dripping tap. this one has a few more frames than last time so wouldn’t really be suitable for a zoetrope (though could easily be adapted). I like the hand-drawn, sketchy style of the animation, it works well with the basic style of looping animation and makes it seem a lot more personal than defined and sculpted lines/shapes which is good as this is my personal exploration into animation, its a reflection of me as a designer.

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Photo Alphabet

We were tasked with forming an alphabet using pictures of things we find around Bournemouth. The challenge meant that taking pictures of things that are already letters such as signs, or road markings weren’t allowed so we had to scout the environment for anything that was iconic of a letter in the alphabet.

For the letters I was trying to go for less obvious things that would look like letters, and tried to avoid setting up situations. In some cases I made slight adjustments to things I saw in order to force the letters. When taking the photos, I didn’t want to deviate too far from my normal life, I wanted everything I found to fit in around me and my student life. For example, a lot of the letters were found in my flat as thats where I spend a lot of my time, and some were found while I was out skating. I wanted my alphabet to be representative of me, my life as a student/digital media designer, and my interests.

As I don’t have a camera to use here in Bournemouth, I resorted to the one on my phone. I liked using my phone for this as it allowed me to fit the search for letters into just a normal day, without being encumbered by a large camera. I used the square photo option on my phone for multiple reasons. Firstly, I wanted all the pictures to be uniform, a consistency across my alphabet so they fit together nicely as a set. This meant I didn’t allow myself to edit the pictures afterwards, with cropping or colour adjustment, forcing me to think about composition and making sure that the letters are clear in each picture. Secondly it fit nicely with my obsession of Instagram  which uses square photographs. There were a lot of missed opportunities for pictures of things that where iconic of letters as I didn’t like the concept of taking pictures in public places and people giving me weird looks for being so fascinated by fence. This exercise made me look at my surroundings very differently, constantly looking for things that had potential to be letters through selective cropping with the camera.

Below is a gallery of the letters I find and will be updating it as i find more.

Whilst I enjoy photography and taking pictures of cool things, this task didn’t really interest me and I won’t endeavour to finish my alphabet. It was a useful exercise to sharpen my skills as an amateur photographer and will defiantly impact my composition in the future.

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Panoramas

Recently we have been looking at photography and image manipulation as part of the course. We looked a stitching photos together to make panoramas using a free program, Hugin. After the workshop I had a quick attempt of my own, in my room as I wasn’t really feeling getting up and going somewhere interesting. Image

This is a lovely panoramic image of the left side of my room, showcasing my wonderful posters, noticeboard and partly my very tidy desk. Clearly the image isn’t perfect, mostly due to bad photography on my part as using a spinny desk chair clearly isn’t the best way to take a panorama.  To get a good panorama, the camera needs to be pivoted around a single point so the depth and distance doesn’t change. Spinning in my chair meant that the whole camera was moving rather than pivoting (is there a difference?) and it make it more difficult to line things up on the edges of the pictures.

When I first came down to bournemouth I went down to the beach to bask in its sandy glory. Naturally, being as excited as I was, I took pictures on my phone of the picturesque scene. One of them being a panorama using the built in feature on my phone. This one came out a lot better than more more recent attempt, but I feel the simpler scene had a lot to do with that. Panoramas work well when there isn’t drastic changes in the foreground and background, making landscapes ideal. However with Hugin, it has a bit more trouble trying to find reference points to stitch together images which can result still in bad panoramas. Panoramas are such a hassle.

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Hand Drawn Animation: Tree

Hand Drawn Animation: Tree

Decided to have a go at drawing an animation by hand on my tablet. This is my crude attempt at drawing a tree and it’s shadow. When drawing, the plan was for it to be a quick sketch, almost like planning out an idea in a sketchbook. This gave me quick gratification of an idea, allowing me to improve it in the future if I want to. For a first attempt and not being very good at drawing, I quite like the outcome. This could be improved by adding more frames, but I limited how many I used to pay homage to the zoetrope which is limited to ~12 frames. For that reason I too only had 12 frames so this idea could easily be translated to the analogue toy.

Below is the quick sketch of my idea, showing the different frames all in one frame. I did this as a plan to get an idea of what I wanted to achieve and what it was going to look like.

Tree Sketch

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Animation Project

As mentioned in a previous post, I have to make a series of ~15 second animations using Flash, working on the same scale some of the original animators worked at when they were painting/ marking 22mm X 16mm film. To accompany the animations we had to make some music using the loops on GarageBand.

The process started with the music, choosing the right loops to go together but will also be good to animate to. I started by looking at the synth sounds, as they were rather distinct and a lot of the stood out with a mixture of short, quick sounds and faded ones. This would give some variety to the animations with the shapes and whatnot. The music was then imported into Flash so I could start drawing frames to match the music. My first attempt was initially an exploration of different patters I could do in time with the music, working out what worked and what didn’t. I then went onto make my second animation and third animation (WARNING: Flashing and whatnot) which I felt fit much more in time with the music and overall were a big improvement. With these, I drew the whole frame each time, redrawing elements that were used in other frames to give a more dynamic feel to the animation, rather than having any static shapes. This animation style really appealed to me as it stood out as being more stylised and interesting to watch.

From here I got a bit distracted by the allure of the banjo loops on GarageBand and ended up making this, which I feel could’ve looked great if I was better at drawing banjos. This animation went with a static image in each frame rather than redrawing it like I had done before. I felt this made it seem a lot more flat which in a sense, could be good as it makes the movement of the strings stand out a lot more, but it make the animation as a whole seem dull and uninteresting, despite the delightful music.

I also animated to an excerpt from a song (Trinidad James – All Gold Everything (MAKJ Remix)) which you can see here. This one was my personal favourite, as the flashing shapes and patterns really complimented the style of music. Using an actual piece of music was a lot more fulfilling for me to animate to as it made it seem like a more finished piece, rather than just flashing lines to some simple music. Once again I went for drawing out each frame every time which made the lettering more dynamic and fun, which really complimented the song. for the ‘drop’ in the song, the flashing shapes had a dynamic sense of craziness and uncontrollability which represented the music very well.

While they were relatively fun to make, this abstract animation didn’t appeal to me all that much. Maybe it was a combination of the miniature scale were were working on or just the stigma attached to Flash I’m not sure. If I were to do more work in flash, I would defiantly work at a larger size and do some more detailed/intricate animating.

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Twitter4j

Recently I stumbled across Twitter4j a Java library for the Twitter API, which allows you to integrate Java applications with twitter activities. My use for this was with Processing, to see what cool things could be made integrating the visual focus of Processing with data and information from Twitter. The library is capable of looking at tweets, profiles, trends, pretty much anything that is available on Twitter.

To get started I had to signup as a Twitter developer and create a new ‘application’ to get certain codes specific to my account. From there I just had to import the library into a Processing sketch and link it to my application to start playing around with it. I looked at a few tutorials and guides of how it all works, It’s a lot more complicated than anything i’ve done before, but I like a challenge. Following a basic tutorial, I managed to create a simple sketch which searched for strings in tweets, and then made that tweet appear in the window. It did this over and over again until every tweet had been displayed.

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Here’s a screenshot of (part of) the code, next to it running. I’ve got it searching tweets for the string ‘@kuuurttyy’ which is my username. This finds any instances where someone has mentioned me in a tweet. The tweets appear randomly positioned in the window and then slowly fade away as more tweets are found. This was a great start into looking at interactive digital media, as it allows people to, for example, tweet a certain phrase or hashtag, then have it appear. In the future I plan to develop this idea, perhaps using pictures, or other ways to make it more visually interesting. For now I just need to fortify my vague understanding of Java and Processing.

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Abstract Animation

For the short animations I briefly mentioned in my last post (read it if you haven’t, it’s fab), my inspiration is some rather abstract animation. The animations are going to be 22mm x 16mm, and if you’re not sure how big that is on a screen, it’s not very (just take my word for it). The small canvas limits the complexity of the animations, and minimises the time and effort put in, in order to quickly create interesting abstract looking animations based on lines, squares, circles etc. A couple of examples can be seen on my lecturer Simon’s Folksonomy website. These show basic forms, lines and such which are animated to the music playing. This is the sort of thing I hope to achieve with my attempts. 

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Animation and such

The current theme of the things we’re doing at uni is involving animation. We looked at the history of animation, with its analogue past, and the present state of animation which as a whole has been made digital. One of the first examples we looked at was the Zoetrope, which used a spinning cylinder with slits in it. As it spins, you look through a slit and see the image opposite, this is then covered until the next slit spins into place, revealing the next picture. This gives the illusion of movement as the picture is swapped for a slightly different one each time.  A basic, modern equivalent of this could be drawing shapes in Paint or something similar, saving multiple, slightly varying images and then putting them together as an animated .gif which shows each image one at a time, giving the illusion of movement much like a zoetrope. 

Today we looked at using Adobe Flash in order to make animations. Even though Flash is rather outdated and not really used anymore, for some reason I don’t fully understand we’re learning how to use it anyway. Animating in Flash basically just uses keyframes which show one after the other (much like the .gif). 

This isn’t the first experience i’ve had with animating with keyframes though. In the past i’ve used Tumult Hype to make an animated HTML 5 website, which used keyframes and positions to fill in the frames in-between. A system such as this, I think has a better future than flash as that is slowly being erased from the face of the earth. Hype uses Javascript for the animations which is more commonly used today on the web.

We’ve been tasked with creating a series of short, 15 second animations which accompany music to form a mini portfolio of some sort. On my blog, here, I will post my progress as I slowly learn how to use flash and (hopefully) improve making better and better animations each time which not only fit with the music, but are visually appealing and interesting. 

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