PPRD2 – The Essay

Essay

Personal Planning, Reflection and Development 2

This year has had its challenges, which have helped to concentrate and focus my thoughts in regard to the direction I’d like to take my future studies. I had until now thought that the technology was the most important aspect of the course and the challenge was to gain mastery of the development tools, but I now feel the tools should not be given such a high precedence. There is always a new tool already in development that simplifies the creative process replacing those in use today.  While it is useful to have these skills, it now, to me seems to be more important to concentrate on the development of my creative skills.

In this second year, which was progressing so well, two and half units completed, that is Performance Video and Future Cinema, both challenges successfully completed. The Professional Project was also going well with two videos satisfactorily produced and approved by the clients. Then came the next unit, New Perspectives for New Contexts, and suddenly the progress I felt I had made came to a resounding halt, a second year of disappointing marks and feedback. Writing a good quality essay still appears to elude me, but this only makes me more determined than ever to overcome this deficiency, as I am fully aware that this skill is essential for the final year where the dissertation forms a significant part of the degree.

Looking back to the first project and the first challenge of the year, the Future Cinema unit and idea development, the challenge was conceptualising an idea for Future Cinema that I could actually visualise being implemented in the real world but at the same time avoiding the obvious. The most obvious option would have been to work on a project involving 3D Visuals. However I felt that 3D should be avoided, as this is currently in Vogue and in Cinemas, and so this could hardly be a subject for Future Cinema. I personally think that our original conceptualisation suggested by Aleksandra, the enhancement of cinema sound, was ground breaking. The addition of two channels of binaural sound added to a cinemas 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound would add a whole new element to the cinematic experience. Providing the filmmaker the option to add a whole new dimension to their creation. I believe this project could be further developed and actually implemented in a cinema. However the project progress was not without problems, whilst I personally find working in a team satisfying I know it does not suit everyone and so for the first time a projects progress was being set back by a team members lack of involvement. This was resolved by re-assigning responsibilities and duties amongst the other team members. We then went onto to produce the project to a satisfying conclusion. At the time winning the praise of a lecturer from outside of our course, for the groups approach; its innovation, the experimentation, testing and in the development of a new concept for audio in film. We all learned something new from this unit from the advantages and disadvantages in working in a team and to look beyond developing projects based on visuals alone, which up to this point had usually been the most significant element in any preceding unit.

Armed with this new belief in our personal abilities to innovate and experiment, the group, working together, set about tackling the next unit, Performance Video. The idea was to design an interactive video/audio sequence, although not ground breaking, would have its challenges. I took on the responsibility for producing the interactive element of the project. I decided I would like to base the design around the Kinect as the central technology. Having not seen a Kinect before other than in pictures this really was something new, a real challenge for my technical abilities. Whilst this project was allocated the same amount of time as the previous one, I distinctly felt the pressure of the time passing due to the heavy workload. There appeared to be so much extra to research just to be able to get the project started, for example preparing the computer to be able to connect with the Kinect and then to go on and develop an application from scratch that could control the sound and video seemed impossible in the allocated time. With the deadline rapidly approaching and the seemingly unbridgeable gulf between what I had so far created and what was needed for completion. Then I had a real epiphany generated out of a meeting with Liam and other students, I reasoned the solution would be much simpler than I had originally thought. The missing element involving writing a simple mathematical expression, which I slotted into place and the project, completed. I felt again that positive feeling, the satisfaction of successfully completing another unit. The core of this project is the ability to control video and sound interactively just by hand and other body movements and with some further development this could be used in an Art installation. However, even with the positive feeling I’d gained from completing the project, I did feel somewhat disappointed with the final assessment, when it was deemed we had developed a means for creating a Performance Video rather than a Performance Video itself. Had we misinterpreted the brief?

Moving onto the Professional Project it was felt that we should break up the team, moving us out of our comfort zone. However I continued to work with Aleksandra as our interests complimented each other. I wanted to test myself in the Directors role and produce short films with a 2012 Olympics theme and Aleks wanted similar experience as a Producer. The first project was with an AUCB student, Paul Oluyemi who is sponsored by the AUCB for the Olympics and then the second project with Jo Gardner from AUCB Arts and Events and is the 2012 South West Inspire Programmer/RELAYS Cultural Coordinator. We contacted Paul, arranged a meeting with him and pitched to him the idea of producing a video from one of his training sessions, which I felt went very well. Then a meeting with Jo to discuss how we could be involved in the RELAYS project. From this initial meeting we offered to produce a video record of the Art of Sport Festival to be held in May, however as this was sometime away we also offered to produce videos of events leading up to the festival.

I visualised what I wanted to achieve from these two assignments, first we filmed an evening training session using the storyboards and shot lists we had created. Then we began to think of additional visuals we might add to enhance the narration, for example positioning the camera low at the start of the jump to capture Paul against the night sky as he jumped. We then began experimenting with the camera, for example using the focus to create a Bokeh effect of the stadium lighting. Then there was the challenge of storytelling using purely visuals. The original plan was to use a voiceover but we discarded this idea in favour of using the strong visuals themselves to tell the story. We both felt this element of the project had gone well, both of us producing our own video edits, both telling the same story but from different perspectives. I thought this was my best video work so far and was really looking forward to the next project. Why did I think this was my best work? I really think it was due to us getting the final video to look as close to what I had originally visualised. Usually there are compromises, but in this case I really felt we had got what we were aiming for first time and therefore deeply satisfying.

The next challenge, ‘The Mini Art of Sport Festival’ and forming a part of the RELAYS project and the preparations for the May Festival. This we decided would be a documentary on the organisation with voiceover for onscreen visuals. Filming a documentary was a new and challenging experience. From the video recorded on the day I produced four edits including designing the opening and end credits from Logos supplied by the client. Although I will never be totally satisfied with what I had achieved as the final edit will be decided by the client, I do feel this project is going well and have enjoyed the learning process thus far.

Regarding the third year and beyond, I have several interests that I will have to choose from to develop in the third year. I intend to make what term time I have left and use of the summer break to consider which will be the best of these to take forward. My choices though are all based upon a central interest in producing education and training tools, for example by creating a series of subject related videos or to look at an interactive method of delivery, possibly developing an App to run on the iPad, to this end I have already begun to investigate relevant development tools that is InDesign and IBook Author.

I hope to get some work experience in an education or training environment to determine if this is a possible future career path with opportunities for work satisfaction and personal growth.

Finally I’ve also decided that I would like to investigate the opportunities to continue in education following the completion of my Degree that is working towards an MA or even higher degree with the caveat of finances and time permitting.

Word Count 1595