Welcome to my blog that details my studies on 21st Century Media Practice MA that I am undertaking on a part-time basis at Coventry University, along side my full-time employment at a technician and practitioner in photography & media.
Over the past few weeks I have been working on testing 360 video capture settings using the Insta360 Pro camera. This process has been incredibly time consuming as the video rendering has taken up to 11 hours to complete.
In the meantime I have been working on arranging shoots for my project. One of the first responses I had from my email was from John Yeadon. I arranged to film John, who is a trustee of the Canal Basin Trust, on Tuesday 7th November at his home studio. Although not a current resident of the warehouse, John was one of the first group of artists who had a studio in the space.
I spent around three hours with John, interviewing him, filming him working on a painting of the Sellafield nuclear power plant in the 1950’s and also capturing him in his studio with the 360 camera. He is a very interesting person and has been both an academic at Coventry University and a practicing artist in Coventry for a number of years.
YouTube allows you to view 360 videos in different ways. You can use your computer to view the video online, using your keyboard or mouse to move the point of view of the video around. Alternatively, if you use your smart phone, you can move your phone round and the video responds as if you looking in the actual studio. This is a very interesting point of view.
Today I had the opportunity to use the same video clip with a set of HTC Vive VR goggles. After some research into how to view 360 footage with VR headsets, I managed to play back the video. The experience was incredible, it was so immersive, just like you were stood in the room watching John in his element. This has got me thinking about what proportion of my documentary should be 360 video? My feelings are that it is more experimental than a ‘traditional’ film and therefore ’21st century’, but I have my reservations on how dynamic the footage is. I only captured one position in John’s studio and it seems a little static, but I can’t move the camera about whilst filming without appearing in the footage. I am booking a tutorial with Ken to discuss the idea before proceeding with more filming. In the meantime, I will look into testing the 360 files with Klynt and editing my interview and documentary footage of John.
I sent John a link to the video and he is very interested in me filming his up and coming exhibition using the 360 camera.
M104MC – Final Project
Subject: Coventry Canal Warehouse Artists.
For my final project I propose to make a Klynt documentary about the artists who are based in the different studios located in the Canal Warehouse in Coventry. My initial idea is to expand upon the film I made for the Zero project and to produce several films for the different artists who work in the studios. There are painters, sculptors, fashion designers and various craftspeople that I hope to document. As part of the project, I hope to include a film about the trust and the building, including a short history of its recent development in the last thirty years.
This project will only work if I get multiple subjects on board, so I am approaching the trustees who run the warehouse, and who are some of the main artists I hope to work with, to contact the community who reside in the building.
Canal warehouse visuals and environmental audio for menus and archival elements.
Artists films – Experimental documentary. Audio/video interviews. 360 studio interior photo/maps – node for each documentary.
Building History/Trust documentary
I am looking into the use of VR/360-degree media to navigate website and videos? Klynt can use 360 videos, so I will start testing to see how they work with the software.
This is subject to confirming willing participants. I have started the project now as I have limited availability for the project due to working full time. The project will be filmed in Coventry at the Canal Warehouse. I am arranging an initial meeting with Alan Dyer next week at the warehouse. I have spoken to him on the phone and sent him the email below with a little more detail of the project and to circulate as an initial call for participants.
Email to Alan:
Further to our conversation about my proposed Final Major Project for my MA in 21st Century Media Practice, could I ask you to forward my proposal to the other artists in the Canal Warehouse to see if they would be interested in being part of it?
As a development of the short documentary I made of Alison Lambert earlier in my course, I wish to produce a series of short experimental films of the Artists located in the Canal Warehouse. I’m interested in working with visual artists and designers, as this would translate best into the films. These could include fine artists, sculptors, fashion designers and craftspeople.
These short films would be of each artist at work, in their studio filmed in an observational style, without interaction from myself. In addition, I would also like to produce a short audio or visual interview with each artist to accompany each of the experimental films talking about their work/inspirations/methodology. For Alison’s film, I spent around 3-4 hours one morning with her, so I would hope that this would be similar for each artist.
All the films would all be collated using a program called Klynt, to produce an online interactive documentary. I would be happy for the Canal Trust or any of the individual artists to use the documentary to promote their work, with the relevant credit.
I would like to include a separate interview with yourself about why you set up the warehouse and the history/ethos of the Trust. This would be included in a short film of the warehouse. Do you have any archival footage/images I could use?
The project will run from now until July 2018, with the hope to start filming in next few weeks.
I can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone/text on 07881784685 by yourself and/or by the artists for more information.
I hope that this project interests the artists as it can only be made with their help!
My second year of study towards my MA starts this week. This year will be a challenging year as I have to work on my final project whilst balancing my day to day work load at the University along side the new responsibility the new in my life, my son Remi.
During the summer I waved goodbye to the cohort of students I was studying along side, and the friends I had made during the course. I feel very proud to see them succeed and wish them well in their future endeavors. I will hopefully see them in November at their graduation ceremony.
Over the next few weeks I will get to meet the people who will be my future course mates, who I will be collaborating with for the script writing and development module. This will be a challenging process, having witnessed my previous counterparts going through it! Hopefully they will enjoy the journey that this course takes them on and I wish them luck!
The Poetic Project is a direct response from out field trip to the Isle of Raasay in Scotland. During the trip we had several workshops with local artists designed to immerse ourselves in the environment and to feel rather than see.
Although surrounded by sea, I found myself drawn to the forest and inland spaces, rather than the coast line. I found myself awake a lot earlier than my course mates, so I decided to use the time to capture the sounds of the island and wildlife before any human interruptions. I took my camera and audio recorder out and just listened to the sounds through my headphones, this immersed my sense of hearing in the amplified and concentrated world I was discovering.
Visually I was drawn to the impact on the landscape of the diseased trees in the woods that became infected when Rhododendron plants were introduced to the island during the Victorian period. This act of man has left a permanent scar on the landscape, with acres of woods filled with dead trees and tonnes of felled lumber, cut down by the Forestry Commission in an attempt to stop the spread of the deadly fungus.
I started to record the impact of mankind on the island, from the diseased woods and abandoned homesteads, to the mines in the hillsides and their railways that cut through the land for miles to the sea.
Having returned from the trip, I reviewed my footage and initially struggled to come up with a concept for the film. I didn’t want to produce a film that was something that the Scottish tourist board could use!
It was a combination of listening to poet Mark Goodwin, reciting the Sorley MacLean‘s ‘Coilltean Ratharsair’: Temptation in the Wood and looking at my photos I shot of Raasay that I started to feel a direction for my piece.
An initial thought was to use this single take clip. This clip was shot using the idea of the environment influencing the camera, I hung the camera from its strap allowing the wind and the terrain to dictate the frame whilst the group walked down onto the beach for an artist session. Although I like the shot, and it reflects my feelings on elements of the trip, I felt the constant movements at speed didn’t reflect my emotional interpretation of Raasay.
As with my other films, I reverted back to researching other artists to help guide me. Ken suggested that my some of my development films looked like Gerhard Richter’s abstract paintings. I was layering up imagery to create abstract forms, similar to Richter’s use of paint textures.
A photographer that I found who has a whole body of work on the environment was Thomas Struth. The images that I particularly liked were both organic and made made environments, again using layers to build up depth and a visual texture that tied into my initial thought process for the project.
After taking inspiration from my research, I selected several photographs with strong lines, these included natural lines from fallen trees and man made lines from the concrete pillars of a railway viaduct. I cropped out any skylines from the images so that the viewer would not be distracted from the contents of the frames. Below are a selection of screen grabs showing the individual images that I selected and how they were layered in Photoshop. This gave me the basis for my canvas. The next stage was to add moving imagery to build the piece.
Experiment with video and photographic elements:
Above is an early experimentation with the integration of the video clips. I had a lot of footage focusing on tiny elements of nature on the island, including clips of lichen, fungus and flowing pools of water. I hadn’t realised at the time of filming that the camera had the auto focus set and whenever I had setup my shot, after a few seconds the camera tried to refocus. This technical oversight on my part affected what shots were available to me. I experimented with with various clips, including single branches of gorse blowing in the wind, underwater footage from the GoPro camera and other woodland shots. The clip that really worked for me was one were I tried to capture the height of a group of trees in the forest, where I ran from roots to canopy of the trees. This frame provided strong vertical lines that worked well with my piece. I did include other clips over the top but I felt that this broke up the lines and made the image to muddled, so I cut them.
The timing of the tree shot was quite quick, it was only a passing clip that I shot and then proceeded to carry on filming whilst walking with the camera pointing up in the air – another lesson of what to do if you want to produce poor imagery! I cropped the clip down to just the pan section, this reduced it to only a few seconds, so I decided to experiment with the temporal element. What worked well was stretching the clip out to nearly a minute in length, although this made the clip a little jumpy, due to the frame rate, I liked the pace and how it works with with the still imagery, particularly when I dropped the opacity down to allow the two elements to blur together. I developed this clip further by reversing it, this gave a pan up and back down for the duration of the two minute film. My final experiment was to reverse the order of the pans and layer them again over the top the of other elements. This created an interesting effect as a viewer where you could look at different parts of the frame and your eyes could be drawn in different directions.
One of my gripes from the trip to Raasay was the conduct of some of my fellow course mates. I had large quantities of my audio that was ruined by people shouting in the middle of recordings. However, because I had gone out by myself I did have some ‘clean’ files. I removed all the audio from the original video clips as I decided that I needed to build a dedicated soundscape to convey my interpretation of Raasay’s elements. Key elements I wanted to include was wind, water, animals and the flora and fauna. The main bed of track, that runs through the whole two minutes, was a recording of the lapping waves on the beach. This track stood out for me, and fitted with my idea of impact of man, as when I was recording the waves, you may be able to hear the speedboat approaching from the distance with Nick and a small crew of students on board. Other clips of audio include Ken pushing over one of the dead trees in the woods. I manipulated this track by time stretching and adding reverb to give a greater spacial presence.
The key feeling I wanted to get from the audio was the contrast that you could get in the levels of sound on Raasay. One minute you could be in what seemed to be near silence, the next the wind would be deafening. I played with the volumes of the different clips to try and emphasise this. I also allowed clips to become distorted because of their volume, this was an interpretation of how harsh the environment can be on your senses. Where ever you went you could hear bird song, from the heath land to the seashore. Experiencing the morning chorus was one of the most beautiful, diverse and intense sounds from the trip, one I included several elements of in the soundtrack.
I think that the film works very well. I would like to see it projected on a large screen with a loud sound system to give the full effect of the piece. Ideally I would look at mixing the sound with a 5.1 surround system to allow me to play with the positioning of sounds to the viewer to give a even more immersive experience. I really enjoyed the trip to Raasay, it really is a beautiful landscape, and I hope my film allows viewers to take away a sense of what it was like to be there.