Ian F. Hunt

Cinematographer and Filmmaker

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Principals of Computer Graphics – Personal Portrait

Personal Portrait


Wednesday 1st December 2010

Making changes and adding more effects

Adobe After effects & Premiere Pro Screenshots

Adobe After effects & Premiere Pro Screenshots

During the post production process for the Viral Video I discovered a number of interesting effects which prompted me to look again at the Personal Portrait and make some changes and see if I would be able to include some of these effects adding to audience participation and the look of the end result.

I particularly felt that the ending of my film was a bit weak and needed something to enhance both the image and sound. Luckily I remembered a very small sound sequence that I’d heard recently which seemed very appropriate. Incorporating this sound sequence gave me an idea of how I wanted the final film sequence to look and so I began to look at and experiment with effects for example Tinting; adjusting the Hue, the Lighting, Edge Effects and others until I found a combination which worked for me and the overall effect I was trying to achieve.

I was aiming for final video sequence to just show the outline of the image, somewhat similar in effect to the Stamp filter in Photoshop. After experimenting by trying each effect in turn I hit upon  the right combination of effects which was ideal for the look I was after, this also had the additional benefit that allowed me to cut and edit the clip almost seamlessly syncing the mouth movements to the soundtrack. The effects were a mix of ‘Change Color’ using the Color Correction Mask which I then matched to White and then inversed it. Then finally combining this with ‘Solarisation’ to give this outline/Stamp like effect for the final image.

I also decided to up the quality of the content to HD that is 1080p and compress the running time of the film to be just less than a minute.

The completed Personal Portrait

Analysis/Influences

The intended message for an audience to take from my Self Portrait is in it’s representation of time – in this case time passing. Each photograph is representative of its place in time, be it a decade, a key moment in time a memory, an interest. My Digital Portrait is in two parts – the first part began as a 2D image a digital composition produced from photographs which I then imported into Adobe Premiere CS5/CS4 and edited into a video sequence. This part of the Portrait remains a 2D image even though it has now been transformed into a moving image. “In this interface, the horizontal dimension represents time, while the vertical dimension represents the spatial order of the different layers making up each image” Manovich, Lev. The Language of New Media. The MIT Press, 2001, p. 155. The second part of the Portrait, a series of five video sequences again edited in Premiere has also been edited using After Effects CS4 and a number of effects have been added (See previous Blog entry) and this adds another dimension to the images. “If the Premiere interface conceptualises editing as an operation in 2D dimensions, the interface of one of the most popular compositing programs, After Effects 4.0, adds a third dimension.” Manovich, Lev. The Language of New Media. The MIT Press, 2001, p. 156.

Influences

As to influences the most obvious is David Hockney recently introduced in a lecture and his work on Montages for example Pearblossom Highway, 11th-18th April 1986 and assume vivid astro focus exhibition at the Tate Liverpool. “This new work, commissioned for Tate Liverpool to complement the exhibition Summer of Love: Art of the Psychedelic Era, is an all-encompassing environment combining exuberant wallpaper designed by the artist and several video projections. The centre piece is a video montage, an on-going project of potentially unlimited duration since new footage is added to it for each venue.” http://www.tate.org.uk/liverpool/exhibitions/avaf/default.shtm

Another Personal Portrait – this version created using my Facebook Profile and the Intel Application ‘ The Museum of Me’ which went live in June 2011 but I thought would be worth posting here.

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Principals of Computer Graphics – Personal Portrait – Final Polish

Wednesday 24th November 2010 Principals of Computer Graphics

What worked and what didn’t – Principals of Computer Graphics

My first attempt at producing the Montage as a video worked technically but the soundtrack was a unsuitable choice and I personally felt the video could be improved with the addition of some explanatory text and additional video footage of myself produced within the last few months. However after a discussion with my tutor Liam it was felt that I’d gone too far with the text and had changed the overall impression of the video to be almost like a video CV.

The changes – Principals of Computer Graphics

First of all the text had to go leaving the images to stand alone and therefore allowing the audience to apply their own interpretation on what they saw in the images, in effect deriving their own meaning. I also looked at how the Montage was constructed as it was felt that I was possibly being too linear in my approach by having all the

[youtube.com/watch?v=gMbCQXcEU2A]
Ian Hunt – Personal Portrait Montage

Individual images appearing identically from the left and exiting to the right. As I was very happy with the original layout of the Montage I decided to look again at how the Montage was constructed and after several trials I decided to work in reverse by starting with a completed Montage and de-constructing it. Using the Opacity control and key frames and video start points to set the sequence of how the individual images appeared. I kept the effect used to de-construct the Montage – using the spin away effect as this simulates my idea of time spinning away – time / years gone by. Finally I made some changes to the recent video footage and importantly ending the entire sequence with a full screen video image of myself but adding the effect of solarisation to tie the video footage in with the Montage images which used a similar visual effect (Poster Edges).

Soundtrack – Principals of Computer Graphics

I decided I didn’t want a soundtrack that would overpower the effect of the images and deliberately chose a low key neutral sound that nevertheless had a mysterious element to it. The track chosen was also copyright free.

Audience Impression – Principals of Computer Graphics

What do I want an audience to get from my Personal Portrait? I want them to see the passage of time, identify how visual appearance changes with time and also see what things may be important to me, that is Family, Animals, Cars and Motorcycles – of course these are not all the things which are important to me but they have helped to shape me into becoming who I am today. They will also get an alternative impression of who what I am generated by the differences between the two mediums I’ve chosen for my portrait – the still images contrasting with the video footage seemingly creating  two different people? Of course I’d be happy if the audience came away with more questions than answers, as these tend to last in peoples minds more than the neatly packaged products delivered by the mainstream media industry.

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Principles of Computer Graphics – Personal Portrait – Video

Personal Portrait

Wednesday 3rd November 2010

Personal Portrait  – Montage

Personal Portrait - Photo Montage

Personal Portrait - Photo Montage

We continued to work on the development of the personal portrait in class today.

Following on from my work earlier in the week  and armed with my Photoshop Montage I looked at importing the images into Adobe Premiere Pro in order to investigate how I could develop my still images into a moving image. By experimenting with the import options, I tried something new, at least for me by importing the complete Photoshop PSD file as a  sequence. I was gratified to see that when the entire PSD with all it’s layers were imported each layer was assigned separately and in sequence to the workspace. I’d only imported merged layer images previously, having control over the individual layers offered much more options for video transitions.

This would make the design much simpler as I’d be able to work on the individual layers but as they had been imported in the planned sequence the final image/montage would be achieved just by running this sequence. The effect that I wanted to achieve could be done by applying a Transition to each individual layer.

Personal Portrait – next steps

I already had some idea of how I wanted the film to progress, I wanted to show how the entire image was made up of individual layers/images and how they all come together to make up one big picture just like a Jigsaw puzzle. I positioned each layer roughly in time sequence onto the video tracks, offsetting each video tracks starting position by a few seconds. I continued to do this until all the layers were added and then played it. The result worked but was somewhat boring as each individual image popped into existence as the film progressed. It was obvious that some kind of effect was needed at the beginning of each track as it started.

After experimenting with a number of 3D Transformations I settled on ‘Spin In’ as the most effective. Each image would now appear from the centre and spin to it’s position in the Montage. I was really pleased with this initial result and could see that with further development and refinement this would be a very effective video sequence which could either stand in its own right or could be included in a longer video sequence with more elements to be even more effective.

[youtube.com/watch?v=r-bbJVft3LU]

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Self Portrait – The Montage as a still image

Tuesday 2nd November 2010

Starting with all the photographs that I had scanned into the computer the previous weekend, I began to isolate the image I wanted to include in the Portrait by removing it from the background. I used Photoshop CS4 and the Magnetic Lasso tool to follow the image around it’s edge before cutting this out and making a new image ready for adding to the final 2D Portrait as a new layer.

I repeated this for all the images I wanted to include in the final Portrait and so armed with over thirty images I set about designing my personal portrait by importing each of these images that I’d carefully removed from their backgrounds into the new one.

Personal Portrait - Photographic Montage V1.0

Personal Portrait - Photographic Montage V1.0

I initially thought I’d make the final image follow a timeline, a sequence starting with the earliest photograph and building up until the final image of me in 2010. Although this seemed to make sense the initial result looked too regimented and the overall effect was less than I’d hoped for. Instead I looked at the images and decided it was a puzzle and it would be better to match images and shapes much like a Jigsaw and so like in all good Jigsaws I started with the edges first. This seemed to go much better especially fitting those photographs with a straight edge to the images edges. There was no time-line to the image now but I made sure that the most recent photograph was located centrally so that all the other images seemed to be related to the most recent one of myself. I then included some images of activities that are important to me that is cars, motorcycles etc.

The final image looked as good as I’d hoped but I felt it still needed an Artistic edge otherwise it looked just like a collection of photographs cobbled together rather than a carefully constructed piece of artwork. Knowing the available filters in Photoshop I knew that what I wanted was the final image to look like a Poster and so I applied the ‘Poster Edges’ filter to the merged layers of the Montage. This gave a good overall effect but some of the images looked blurred, out of focus and so I decided the only way forward was to apply the ‘Poster Edges’ effect to each of the individual layers adjusting where necessary the amount of effect the filter had on the image. this worked much better and as well as controlling the effect on each image it allowed me to balance the effect across the whole Montage in particular balancing the photographs in Black and White with those in colour.

With the still version completed I then began to think how it would work as a moving image. Referring back to my earlier ideas I realised that none of them would achieve the result that I wanted although they could be used in future projects and so I needed a new idea. The one I came up with followed the idea I had in producing the Montage that is looking at it as a puzzle and eventually as a Jigsaw and so I thought make the process of making the Montage from the individual pieces coming together just like a Jigsaw into a film. This would also have the additional effect of showing how through the images I have chosen, I have become the person that you see now.

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Personal Portrait – Scanning Photos

Personal Portrait


Saturday 30th October 2010

Sourcing Photographs – Personal Portrait

Ian Hunt - Personal Portrait 2010

Ian Hunt a Personal Portrait

Raided the family photograph albums looking for pictures to use in my self portrait project.

I was not only looking for pictures of myself for the Personal Portrait but also photgraphs of things that have a personal interest or photographs showing activities. These proved to be somewhat more difficult to find as unlike today where even the mobile phone has a good quality camera built in and is always to hand, just ten years previously you needed to carry a camera and send your films away for processing.

For the best part of four hours I laboriously scanned each photograph in turn and then individually rotated and then cropped each photograph before saving for further processing on my hard drive. Then from over 200 photographs I identified about half that number which I could use.

I then set about using Photoshop to rework the chosen photographs, removing backgrounds and any defects caused by the scanning process or when the photograph was taken originally on film.

Whilst working through this process I was inspired to try my hand at producing a Montage of these images. Being very pleased with the initial results I made the decision that this is the way that I think this project should progress forward in developing my Self Portrait and so rather than any of the previous ideas I had, producing a Montage from old family photographs is the direction in which I wanted and decided to go.

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Maya – Creating a basic 3D Image

Friday 29th October 2010

Todays lecture covered the process for developing a basic 3D image using Maya.

The idea is to create a image using Polygons and then by using the Extrude function create a basic 3D image/characterisation which could then be used in an animation process to produce a film sequence.

I first downloaded from the internet an image which I would use as a guide/template and imported this into Maya. I then created a cube which I placed centrally on the grid. This was then sub divided to give more faces, I then selected the faces to the left of the Y axis line and deleted these effectively cutting the cube in half. Then in turn selecting faces, vertices etc. I used the extrude function to extend my original cube polygon to produce one side of a figure that is a head, body an arm and a leg. Once I had these i then used the Mirror Geometry function using the –X option to Mirror the side I had created and this had the effect of creating a complete 3D character now with two arms and two legs.

This all sounds very simple but there are many stages and clicks required even to produce such a simple design. There was also a problem initially using the Mirror function this did not appear to work correctly until the History was deleted first before applying the Mirror, without doing this the Mirror appeared to begin from the last action made which in my case was the extrusion used to create the foot.

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Head Tracking using a Laptop/Netbook. Webcam Tracking

Webcam Tracking

Thursday 28th October 2010


Interactivity and it’s possible application in the Self Portrait project – Webcam Tracking

I thought it would be a good idea to research the internet for possible solutions for the Tracking of Head movements using something most people have, that is the Webcam.

I identified a number of Free or Shareware programs that processed the image from a Webcam from forums where other people were also seeking a similar solution.

The programs I found were:-

1. Fake Webcam

2. WebCam Monitor 5.2

3. Willing Webcam

All three applications working in very similar ways the main differences were in how they responded to the image from the Webcam and what action they took or could be set by the user.

Willing WebCam - Screenshot

Willing WebCam - Screenshot

The most suitable for my requirement would be Willing WebCam which has extensive settings including the ability to play a sound or load a program when either the head or indeed any movement was detected.

However on further investigation and after a great deal of experimentation I came to the conclusion that the standard Webcam is just not accurate enough or could become unsettled just by a changing light levels and therefore in turn creating too many false tracking movements.

The only conclusion I could come to was that a specialist Tracking camera would be required for accuracy and reliable responses to movements. The camera would also ideally have to work outside of the visible spectrum possibly infra-red in order to be able to distinguish the subject from the background. Alternatively the camera would have to be directed at a fixed well lighted background for example a white screen.

In regard to the original idea development and because of time constraints I have decided to go with the original idea of producing a film, a portrait of myself and things and activities which interest me, combining still photographs with video content. This would follow a timeline, a chronology of my life from my earliest days for which I have some photographs to the current date.

Netbook Details

I used a Netbook for the project, the Acer Aspire One 533 with the Atom N455 processor. Running Windows 7 Starter. This comes with 1GB memory but this can be expanded to 2GB. But most importantly this setup works with all the applications I tested and Processing recognises it’s built-in webcam without having to source additional drivers etc.

Processing

Webcam Tracking - Processing & Jmyron Screenshot

Webcam Tracking - Processing & Jmyron Screenshot

 

Having being recently introduced to Processing during a Lecture I searched online for more examples of programs using the Webcam to control video or track movement. I sourced a number of programs one group called “JMyron” and one of these programs tracked head/hand movement and converted it into mouse inputs. I could see several possibilities for controlling video or adding effects to a video.

There were restrictions on how this could be utilised the most restricting was that the tracking of movement would only work at its best against a white background and it’s response in open areas unpredictable. In fact it only seemed to work best in the dark. However as I had now decided on the design I was going to produce for my Self Portrait I decided to save this for a future projects and further research.

Sorry about the quality of the video, I  used a handheld mobile phone to record the screen output.
[youtube.com/watch?v=jmoXL95KImc]

Hand tracking using JMyron and Processing

Project Update

Microsoft Kinect

Microsoft Kinect

Since I originally wrote this Blog entry, Microsoft’s Kinect has been released and with it the software to write your own programs which can be found here http://kinectforwindows.org/
I’ve also looked at interfacing the Kinect to a Macbook Pro details of which can be found here Performance Video

Kinect Specification

Sensor

Colour and depth-sensing lenses
Voice microphone array (made up of 4 microphones)
Tilt motor for sensor adjustment

Field of View

Horizontal field of view: 57 degrees
Vertical field of view: 43 degrees
Physical tilt range: ± 27 degrees
Depth sensor range: 1.2m – 3.5m

Data Streams

320×240 16-bit depth @ 30 frames/sec
640×480 32-bit colour@ 30 frames/sec
16-bit audio @ 16 kHz

Skeletal Tracking System

Tracks up to 6 people, including 2 active players
Tracks 20 joints per active player
Ability to map active players to LIVE Avatars

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Processing and Idea Development

Processing

Processing or computer programming for the purposes of the course essentially means Java programming.

Using examples from the website; http://processing.org from which the program Processing can be downloaded. This is an Open Source application with several examples of Java programs from basic drawing to Video processing. The application is available for both the Windows and Mac environments.

Two alternative methods of developing programs using modules to put together processes were reviewed these are MaxMSP and VVVV. Both use similar methods to design processes to manipulate Video in many ways similar to programming in Ladder networks as used in machine control systems design.

Idea Development

Following on from the mornings processing lecture time was utilised to consider ideas for the personal portrait assignment.

I had the idea (although not a new idea) of using possibly one of the applications introduced this morning to motion track a subject moving in front of a projection screen. As they passed from left to right an image of myself would be displayed as they moved either another image or the profile of the image would change seemingly following their movement. Using a different image would allow me to say start with a picture of myself at a young age and then substitute images of older versions of me as they moved. Another idea was to pixelate in the first image as they passed in front of the screen and pixelate out the final image as they moved past the screen. The alternative is to take a series of pictures of myself at different positions corresponding to where I think the person will be standing so that my face seems to turn towards them, in effect follow them. Another alternative is to take photographs at different positions so that they see a different profile depending upon where they are standing – effectively giving a 3D effect. Finally the image could be a Maya produced 3D image of myself. (Although this may be beyond my current knowledge of Maya).

maxmsp

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Principles of Computer Graphics – Idea Development

20th October 2010

Idea Development

My idea for a self portrait starts with Family and of course the Family photographic albums which are a record of my life over the decades. My idea was originally Influenced by Bob Cottons lecture and in particular of his short film representing 100 years of Media.

I decided I would look at producing a film along similar lines combining personal portraits/photographs and any videos of myself with iconic images/photographs representing major events, people and things that have directly influenced my life and which have all contributed to make me the person that I am today.

Issues I will have to address include the copyright of images that I use that have not been produced by myself. It has been suggested by Amanda that if I take the photograph myself for example of an album cover or other items representing a key element in my life this should suffice in regard to copyright.

My thoughts regarding technology are that still images could be imported into a slideshow program for example Windows Movie Maker to produce a video sequence. These individual video clips would then be in turn imported into a Video Editing application such as Adobe Premiere Pro where both the slideshow and video’s could be edited together to produce a final video sequence to which sound/music could be added.

It would be great if I could add either some kind of artistic look to the finished artefact or indeed look at some form of interactivity, although I think I’d like to save this for a future project to allow time to investigate motion tracking technology and the devices designed to track movement for example Microsoft’s new Kinect which seems to offer low cost motion tracking possibilities.

Researching and selection of Still Images

Unfortunately many of the photographs I have of myself are not in digital format and so would have to be scanned before they can be imported into the slideshow application. I would also have to obtain some photographs from other family member’s photographic albums.

Unlike the current generation especially in respect of media students where almost everyone has the
means to take a photograph or indeed video thanks mainly to the advance in Mobile Phone Technology. My generation relied on the ownership of cameras usually in the domain of enthusiastic amateurs and the processing of photographic film. So I’m finding that many key points in my life do not actually have any photographic record and indeed some decades for example the 1970’s are almost bereft of any photographs.

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Principles of Computer Graphics: Montage

My first project was to develop a self portrait from Magazine and Newspapers.Home[5]

The image to the right was created from Magazine and Newspaper cuttings to produce the overall montage. In no way was the image intended to be a true representation but only to convey an overall impression. Some of the text used has meaning eg. Comedy, Africa etc.

The typography images on this page were created from using the design tools on the Wordle website. The designs were produced by either entering the text from documents or direct from other web pages and then manually manipulating the layout and font options to create the final design. Then using Paintshop Pro X the image was captured from the screen, resized and exported as JPEG images.

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