Thursday, September 30, 2010

I'm fishing in the rain...

Today we filmed the fisherman scene for our interactive video. In this scene, a fisherman will argue that the lake he is fishing in should be enlarged by removing the barrier in it, allowing for more water and oxygen, with more fish in the lake as a result, because he hardly catches fish nowadays.

Since none of our group members had fishing equipment readily available, we asked Jelle Galgenbeld, who is in the Alien Invasion group, to bring his fishing gear and pretend to be fishing in the lake. Having somebody from another group in our video is actually an advantage, as there are now more unique characters in the video and the viewer will be less confused as to which actor represents which character. The weather today was overcast and drizzly, but this might actually add to the dramatic qualities of this scene.

In the first take Jelle only presented his arguments to the main viewer, but we thought that this version lacked action. To improve this, we asked him to start the scene by casting his fishing rod, followed by his arguments in favor of removing the barrier restricting the lake. You can see how our project is coming along on our website under "project progress".

"Let It Be"

On Wednesday we have started filming our "problem areas". The first problem area in which we filmed was the reed land. On this reed land there are puddles of water. As a result, it becomes problematic to maneuver harvesting machines on the land, making farming on this ground economically nonviable. Another problem this poses is that harvesting is not thorough enough, causing some crops to keep on growing, which results in overgrown land. To solve all those problems the farmer who works on this lands wants to remove all the puddles of water from the land.

Another point of view is provided by the hippie, who wants nature to follow its own course. The hippie states that, by removing the water, the flowers will not be able to survive, and the birds won't be able to drink water on the land anymore, thus decreasing the bird population.

To make abundantly clear that the person maintaining the land is a (real) farmer, we have dressed Alina in a stereotypical way, with an apron, a fork in her hand and a straw in her mouth. Another element which we thought is typical to farmers is talking indistinctly. So in the final video she will just mumble and occasionally utter a comprehensible word. To convey her actual message, we will use subtitles.

Our hippie will also be represented in a stereotypical fashion, having a "let it be" attitude, as well as repeatedly making the peace sign during her appearance. We also have a shot of her just naively hopping around, although we do not know whether it will end up in the final product. You can follow our project progress here.

Concepts for the CreaTe postcard

On Tuesday we had to show our first proposal for the postcard we have to design to promote Creative Technology. Since this was our first assignment for Graphic Design in which we had to create something from scratch, it was a quite a daunting task. As a result, a lot of people were insecure about presenting their work or didn't want to present anything at all.

Nevertheless, there were some truly great concepts with much potential. I was most impressed by the designs of Inez, who had made a flower out of words (related to Creative Technology), Sharah, who had created a collage of products and items related to Creative Technology and Thomas, who made a collage of technical products with the word "Create" as a white shadow on top of it (see the fifth/sixth lesson header).

A smart way of presenting your concepts was provided by Tom, who only presented sketches and not fully fleshed-out designs. When you present your ideas in this way, you focus the viewers attention on the thought behind the picture, and not on the realisation of it.

Unfortunately, I hadn't presented anything as I was not quite sure what to draw, and I thought that my sketches were not in a presentable state. As I mentioned before though, I was not the only one who was insecure about my proposal, so at the end of the lesson some people had to come to the teacher to at least show their drafts because they hadn't present anything. Chris assured us that when you have to present a piece of work you have created from the ground up it will never be easy, but of course the only way to overcome this fear is to just do it. I hope to get more productive next week for the final presentation of our postcard.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Creating the trailer

This weekend I have created the trailer for our interactive video, which you can find on YouTube. This trailer has a couple of goals. Firstly, it has to make the viewer interested in the concept of our interactive video. Secondly, it should show a piece of the content we have filmed so far. Thirdly, it mustn't spoil too much of the story, because otherwise the viewer has no reason (or less reason) to watch/play the interactive video.

To accomplish these goals, I first had to select some content from the things we have filmed so far. I thought that the scene of the "Farmville-freak" playing Farmville like an addict was the most useful scene for showcasing our progress so far, as well as the scene that is most suited to present our concept, so I decided to use that. I edited the video in such a way, that the viewer notices that the freak is passing a lot of time playing Farmville - you see the camera zoom in on a clock indicating that the time is 12:43 at the start of the gaming session and zooming out from a clock showing that the time is 19:43 at the end of the gaming session - and that he is only interested in his game, therefore ignoring the mess in his room - the fact that he throws the cans on the floor is emphasised by the close-up and tracking of one falling can afterwards.

After I had edited the video, I complemented the action with a bit of text. I wanted a minimum amount of text before the video content, otherwise the viewer is confronted with a lot of words without any action and loses interest. So the only text you see before some action takes place is the name of our group, followed by the text "Thousands of people are addicted to video games..." After that, the scene of the freak follows. Hopefully, this will grab peoples attention and make them want to see more. Of course they won't see more in the trailer, but instead they will just see text highlighting the story of our interactive video: "What happens when they get in touch with Nature?", followed by some information about the video: the title, The Fairytale of the Farmville-freak in the Peculiar Park, and when it will be available (unfortunately we couldn't be more specific than "soon").

In the end I had to put some music behind the trailer. This proved to be the most difficult part, because on the one hand, I wanted the trailer to show a part of our actual interactive video, which meant I had to use the Farmville Theme Song during the gaming session of the freak, but on the other hand I wanted a very coherent video, which means only using one piece of music during the whole trailer. I uploaded both versions, so that the other members of the group could decide, and in the end we took the version with the Farmville music.

Status updates!

On Saturday (25/09/2010) we got an email from A. Eliens, who told us that he had written something about everybody's performance over the last couple of weeks. Eager for feedback, I checked my status update.

First of all, it turns out that he is pleased with my blog so far: "excellent blog, extensive, well written, and informative, with sharp observations." Thank you for that, Mr. Eliens. I always thought that the majority of the blogs are stupid, because they just aren't very well written or interesting to people who do not directly know the person writing it. Because of this, I always do my utmost to write in a way that is interesting not only to me, but also to everybody doing this programme or thinking about doing it, and perhaps even to people not really interested in Creative Technology at all.

Secondly, he thinks that I should talk more in class: "good presence, but could/should speak out more!?" I have to agree with the fact that I haven't spoken up a lot in class until now. For me it always takes a while to get comfortable with speaking up in front of people, but as you get to know them better, it becomes a lot easier. So I hope that at the end of this course this remark will be a little more positive, and I will keep updating the blog as frequent as I did over the last weeks.

"My wife bought an iPad, and I love it"

Today's lesson started with a confession from our We Create Identity teacher: "My wife bought an iPad, and I love it". After this confession and some warm-up videos, it was time for each group to present the concept of their interactive video. We were the first to present the concept behind our interactive video, you can see the presentation here. I was intrigued by the wide variety of concepts that were presented today, although it turned out that we were not the only one using the lazy gamer nerd as a starting point for the video, as Reality Interacts Gaming (awesome concept by the way) uses the same starting point for their video. I'm really looking forward to all the interactive videos that will be produced!

In the afternoon everybody had to tell the audience (individually) about his or her role in the process of making the interactive video. My role is mainly maintaining the website, which of course you can find here, and I have also made the trailer for today's presentation, which I will discuss in another blog post. When everybody was telling about their role in the project, it became clear to me that a lot of people hadn't started with Ximpel yet, either because they thought it was too difficult or because they didn't invest time in it yet. Unfortunately, our group is also guilty of this, but I hope that problem will be solved by the end of the week, as Tom said he will look into it. The fact that people had trouble was confirmed by the question of Sven at the end of the lesson, who just bluntly asked "How do you start using Ximpel?". I hope that everybody will get Ximpel working in the end, because it is a shame to see all those great ideas hindered by some technical nuisances.