Vertical Project: Green Screen Workshop

On Tuesday the tutors ran a one day workshop on green screen effects, which they linked to our current project, the vertical project. However, in order to slightly distinguish the projects from another they set the theme of the workshop to be fake memories.

For the workshop me and 11 other level 4 students, a mixture of graphic design and illustrations students, grouped together and began brainstorming ideas. The idea we decided upon, inspired by the theme of fake memories, was the lies your parents would tell you as a child. The lies we came up with was getting curly hair from eating bread crusts, when an ice cream van plays music it means they are out of ice cream and when you eat apple seeds an apple will grow in your stomach.

For our green screen short film we decided to focus on one lie as the film could only be a maximum of 1 minute long. The lie we chose was when parents tell their children that if you eat apple seeds a tree will grow in your stomach. To visually convey this we created several vines (which consisted of cut out paper leads threaded onto ribbon), and our short film would involve one member of our group eating an apple (a prop made of card), and then having vines appear and grow from her stomach (which would be controlled by other team members wearing morph suits). To utilise the blue screen we made a cardboard cartoon outfit for the team member to wear on top of a morph suit with a flap in the centre to conceal the vines which would soon appear.

Currently our footage is being processed and compressed by their tutor who ran the workshop. Hopefully soon the footage will be returned to us so that we can edit and add sound to our work.

Six Cowboys

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Marlboro Cowboy

15/12/2016

As a small group of three we were tasked to analyse an assigned image, our groups is pictured above, using two of the four critical approaches taught to us in our lectures which are as follows; material culture analysis, historical analysis, feminist theory and queer theory. We had to analyse the image by thinking about how that figure represents masculinity.

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Lady With a Mouthpiece Cigarette

What our group discovered about Marlboro brand is that initially it was advertised towards women as Marlboro were selling filtered cigarettes. However their advertising strategy changed after a major report was published in the early 1950s linking smoking to lung cancer. To combat the decline in cigarette sales many brands began promoting their cigarettes as safer than others, and quickly filtered cigarettes were perceived as the safest. However men were still reluctant to buy Marlboro filtered cigarettes as they were still seen as feminine.

Created by the advertising executive Leo Burnett, the Marlboro man advertisements were used from 1954 to 1999 in the US. These adverts included archetypal masculine characters, primarily cowboys, with a Marlboro cigarette. Cowboys at the time were popular and a symbol of masculinity, and within a year the brands market shares went from less to 1% to 4th best selling brand. Later on they stepped away from using actors and began to use real working cowboys seen preforming their working tasks, by 1972 Marlboro was the leading brand in the cigarette industry.

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John Wayne

The reason the Marlboro Man was so successful was due to him representing masculinity and the values related to it. He was tough, self sufficient, hardworking and rugged, and stood for reason, independence and liberty, which were all values associated with cowboys at the time. By depicting this character smoking Marlboro cigarettes these traits are imbued into the product and sales rose as men purchased these cigarettes due to their desire to also be seen possessing these traits.

Due to our research we discovered that the material culture analysis and feminist theory perfectly suited each other as the branding of the product was changed from feminine to masculine through the use of cowboys which were idolised in popular culture during that time period. As a result of this we presented our material culture analysis and feminist theory analysis not as two separate categories but as one fluid analysis.

The feedback we received was very positive, our seminar tutor was impressed with how our research dictated what approaches we chose and how we decided to present our findings as one fluid piece and not as two separate approaches. She did however suggest we analyse the images themselves more, for example what visual signifiers are present in the images that help to back up our findings.

Let There Be Light

25/10/2016 – 14/11/2016

Brief: To select an object individually and as a group experiment with photography, exploring the effect of different lighting set ups upon the range of objects and documenting our exploration. Following on from this we should conduct further explorations, investigations and experimentations with light individually and within our groups. As a group we should produce an A3 contact sheet displaying our 12 most successful images, with the 2 most successful images blown up to A3, and as individuals we should also present an A3 contact sheet displaying our 12 most successful images taken by ourselves.

As a group we worked extremely well together from the beginning therefore we did a lot of exploration together as a group, therefore my individual and group work is closely linked due to the thorough nature of our group exploration.

Individually we did our own contextual research before meeting as a group for the first time to being our primary research, this was to help give us an idea of what we wanted to achieve in the limited time we spent together as a group. I looked at 23 Envelope, a graphic design partnership between Vaughan Oliver and Nigel Grierson, who produced many record sleeves for the music label 4aD. I also looked at Davy Evans and Thomas Saraceno, all of these artists / designers play with experimental photography or light in their work.

Heaven or Las Vegas Cocteau Twins Cover by 23 Envelope, 1990

Untitled by Davy Evans

Poetic Cosmos of the Breath by Tomas Saraceno

From my individual research I concluded that I was interested in the use of colour within experimental photography; 23 Envelope did this through long exposure photography of coloured lights, Davy Evans used a mixture of oil and other house hold chemicals to produce iridescent mixtures, and Tomas Saraceno used iridescent materials which moved in the sunlight.

Through group discussions we shared our own personal interests and concluded that we initially wanted to begin our exploration by looking at making an installation incorporating all of our objects due to the interesting array of objects brought in such as a found vintage mirror, magic lantern slides, a colourful moving disco ball, fairy lights, a series of glass vessels and my glitter jar. We played with using a lamp to project the magic lantern slides, refracting light through the slides and glass vessels, assembling the glass vessels and magic lantern slides on a light box. Whilst playing with the light box we noticed a strange visual glitch that it would cause on our phones and low end cameras whilst recording the lightbox, I go into further detail about this glitch here.

During this photoshoot we also photographed the colourful disco ball whilst it was moving as well as photographing the disco ball through other glass objects, this was of particular interest to me due to the variety of colours it produced. In my photographs of this object I played with altering the focus as well long exposure. A video of my experimentation with the disco ball can be seen here.

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Projecting magic lantern slides and glass vessels with a hard light

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Magic lantern slides on the lightbox

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Moving disco ball, playing with focus

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Moving disco ball, playing with long exposure and moving the camera

Whilst cooking in my own time I accidentally got some grease onto my phone screen and noticed the iridescent colours that would appear as the screen light reflected through the grease. Inspired by this and following my interest of colour in experimental photography I covered my phone screen in a thin layer of oily cream and photographed the effects.

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Cream on a phone screen

The next time our group was together was for our studio lighting induction. During the presentation we received a presentation informing us on how to correctly utilise all of the features on a dslr camera, then we put our knowledge to use by photographing our objects on one of the two studio lighting set ups. As the induction was very informative I produced a separate blog post going into further detail on what I learnt which can be found here.

After our studio lighting induction as a group we visited the pier, this played a very important part in my individual and group exploration due to the large amount of coloured artificial lights on the arcade machines, which relates to my interest in coloured light. Furthermore many of the lights were kinetic which meant I could continue playing with focus and long exposure, techniques I started using with the coloured moving disco ball previously.

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Pier arcade light, playing with long exposure and moving the camera

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Pier arcade lights, playing with long exposure and moving the camera

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Pier arcade lights, long exposure

The third time our group met up one of our group members brought it a new object, a box of gems and stones that she had collected over the years. Although not kinetic they were very colourful. Using a light box, natural light and torch lights I photographed the illuminated textures coloured gems and stones. With the more transparent stones I photographed the reflections produced on surfaces from shining a strong torch light through the stones. Another of our group members brought in a series of clip on lenses for iPhone cameras which included a macro lens, you can see my photographs using this lens here.

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Stone on the lightbox

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Stone with natural lighting

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Torchlight reflection of a stone on the lightbox

As a group and individually we had produced thousands of images therefore to narrow our selection down we individually selected and cropped our own strongest images. Then as a group we collated our images and discussed which 12 we wanted to see included within our group A3 contact sheet, we also went on discuss our two favourite group images that we wanted blown up to A2 prints. When discussing what images to choose we wanted to show the breadth of our research as we felt we explored a large variety of techniques, however we also wanted a level of consistency throughout the whole contact sheet so we choose images that were all colourful and followed a similar colour pallete. Here you can see the 12 images that we selected.

Following on from our group discussions I took the feedback given by my group members on my own photography and selected my own 12 images for my contact sheet which can be seen here. For my contact sheet I still wanted to show the breadth of my exploration however I also wanted to display my experimentation and interest in colour and movement. My images focused on coloured artificial light or illuminated coloured objects. To show movement I included many of my photos taken using long exposure, either of moving objects or still objects but the camera was moved when the picture was being taken.

Feedback

Both of my contact sheets were presented during the group critique for this project and during this critique we received mixed feedback, Our work was praised for the breadth of our exploration which as a group we really focused on, we made sure to investigate all of the techniques and skills listed on the brief, for example hard light, soft light, studio lighting, natural light, indoors, etc. However we were also told out exploration was too broad and we should have focused on one aspect and developed that further, however this goes against what was required of us on the brief. During the briefing we were also told that the project was all about experimenting and a concept was not necessary however during the critique we were advised to have used a concept. Through out our exploration we had a common theme of colour and movement as the focus of our work causing our work to have a direction which seemed appropriate for an experimental and technical brief. Considering the amount of exploration required on the brief, although the tutors said our exploration was too broad, incorporating a concept into the work as well would have been too time consuming, especially as were developing group and individual projects simultaneously. During a separate tutorial with my personal tutor she disagreed with the feedback I had been given on our groups work, therefore I felt the initial negative feedback didn’t mean this project was unsuccessful but that the tutors all interpreted the brief differently and were looking for different things in the work. In the future I will aim to include a concept or a strong running theme along with my experimental and technical briefs to help direct my work and offer guidance however I don’t feel that going back to this project and adding a concept is necessary and would be extremely time consuming.

Cartographers of Intrigue

10/10/2016 – 11/10/2016

Brief: The objective of this brief was to investigate and obtain a large range of information from an area that our group was assigned. Then through the use of mixed media we were asked to create an outcome based on that location that was also creative and challenged our preconception of what defines a map.

Our group was assigned the location of Churchill Square,  a large shopping center located in the centre of Brighton. As a group we visited the location to init ally brain storm ideas as we felt it would be easier to draw inspiration from the location by actually being their ourselves. We originally found the location quite difficult to draw inspiration from as it had no historical background and was very new and commercial, however we began to use this idea of commercialism as a starting point. Ideas we considered was looking at the flow of money being exchanged throughout the space, the movement of people throughout the space and how signs direct you through the space. In the end however our idea was to try and convey the mass of products on sales, as within the shopping centre you are exposed to a vast amount of advertising and products and we felt this was one of the most prominent features of the location.

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My Design

To begin this task we located a map of the shopping centre showing every shop on each floor, as the project was only 2 days long we decided to only focus on the ground floor of the shopping centre in order to make the task more manageable. From there we assigned different shops to different members of the group, this was so that each member of the group could go and investigate their assigned shop and record the sheer amount of products and advertising that they find there. This meant that each member was involved in the group and had a manageable amount of work, however it also meant we could all express our individual styles. Another element of this I found interesting is everyone has their own taste therefore when going to a shop different products, adverts or elements within that shop with stand out to different people so it was interesting to see how people interpreted the space that they were given.

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Close Up

I was allocated the shop BHS, this was slightly more challenging than the other shops people were assigned as my shop was closed down and empty therefore I had to be creative in the way that I represented it. Although the store itself was closed down, BHS still has an online store so I began to research the products available there.  I also began to do some research into the shutting down of the store and found many articles online about this particular store closing down as it caused outrage among the Brighton community due to the BHS employees losing their jobs. Using these two elements I came up with the design for my space, I used a grey marker in the background to write out extracts from several articles documenting the outrage at the shutting down of the store, this was to represent the BHS store specific to Brighton. On top of this I used red marked to illustrate the products available from the online BHS store, this was to represent the brand Brighton as well as the commercial nature associated with it. The reason I chose to use was red as often in shops it is used to represent sales or clearance so I felt it was appropriate due to the shop being closed down, I then wrote the article in grey so that the text was pushed back, this was so anyone looking at the work would see the illustrations as then as they got closer they would then realise the story behind the store and the negative way it had impacted the community.

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Final Design

For the final piece we fit all of our designs into the template of the shopping centre’s map, each person illustrations was made into the same shape as their shop on the map and then laid out in the same arrangement. We then mounted all of the shops onto a A1 piece of newspaper print.

Feedback

For our critique our final presentation of piece could have been improved, the newspaper print background was very similar to the colours present in the illustrations meaning they blended into the background, the paper itself was also very flimsy. Therefore to improve the piece could be mounted onto a sturdier piece of card with a bolder colour that won’t blend in with the illustrations, such as a dark grey. Another point raised was that it was not apparent that the composition was based on shopping centre floor plan, so the addition of numbering the shops and adding a key would help to clarify that. Finally a way to progress and develop our work would be to possibly take the design into a digital environment, such as producing a digital map to be viewed on a computer or mobile application, this would also allow for us to experiment adding interactive elements.

Ice Breaker

26/09/2016 – 03/10/2016

The Brief: The objective of this brief was to collectively meet, greet, discover and share. Within set groups we had to find ways in which we could ‘break the ice’ between us in order to get to another our fellow course mates. As a final response we were required to produce a presentation to the year group which could be verbal, visual or what ever we deemed appropriate for our project.

As a group we identified that we would like to tackle the brief by sharing an experience, many of our group had just moved to Brighton for university therefore exploring Brighton together would be a completely new experience for all of us. An iconic tourist hot spot in Brighton is the pier so we arranged to spend a day together there which we would document through videos and photographs. We chose to document through video as we wanted our piece to be immersive and accurately convey our experience to the audience, which the combination of visual and audio does well. Furthermore through photography meant we could quickly capture snapshots of the events unfolding around us. Whilst there we all participated in a range of activities together as a group such as playing the arcade machines and going on rides, during this time those who were not participating in the activities would be recording the events. This was successful as it meant that everyone within our group was involved and could share their own ideas and point of view on the day by how they chose to participate and record.

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Additional Final Piece

Another addition to our response was a physical body of work that we produced. Through out the day while socialising we learnt a great deal about each other through general conversation and a variety of group activities, so through the means of a map we recorded what we had learnt. On two stuck together maps of Brighton city center we included blind contour drawings of one another, interesting facts we had learned and group games such as ‘exquisite corpse’ drawings and stories. I believe this map was an accurate way of depicting how we had broke the ice between one another however the information could have been presented in a more sensitive way, for example further exploring how our facts could be presented within the map other instead of being attached with post it notes.

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Close Up 

Feedback

The tutors responded positively to our work, praising the content and editing of our video. They supported our decision to record our day visually through film and how the film itself contained footage filmed by different people from their own point of view, therefore showing our individual experiences of the day. The addition of the map was seen as a nice accompaniment to the video, physically documenting what we had learned about each other through the project.