21/08/2015-More filming. Today I used a frame rate of 60 and the lower high definition standard of 1280x720p. I wanted to experiment and see if there was a difference between the two standards, with particular regard to movement. Whilst there is a definite improvement in movement, i.e. it does not appear to strobe as has been suggested from the literature. The trade-off is the clarity, because of the lower pixel density; although the blues in a couple of the end shots had a particular quality which is attractive and appealing. More experiments are needed, and the next shoot I will go back to the higher 1920x1080p with a frame rate of 25. After thinking about my supervisor’s advice, in regards to pairing back my ideas and trying to stick to three or four themes…I’ve decided that clouds, trees and industry seem to be the three that work the best. I’m looking at a couple more ideas to add to this list. Within these themes further motifs will be also be explored. Electricity poles, birds, fences and peering through fences for example. The sound motifs are similar and play an integral part in the overall 'sound and vision' within pieces. What is becoming abundantly clear is an overall technique when gathering the footage i.e. time and place is presenting itself. This is something which possibly needs discussion within the larger framework of the exegesis. For example, in the spring and summer months - there are very particular times to gather certain colours and light effects. These can be used to create certain textures or themes. This is also the case in the autumn and winter months. Both create very different moods and feels. In editing too, a formula is emerging - in particular within the sound. Now that I feel I have control of the granular synthesis process, I was able to turn the bird sounds into musical notes. This is something I am confident in doing with other sounds too. For instance, in the piece Clouds 1, there is a hum at the electricity sub-station near The University of Newcastle - this would create interesting musical notes and textures as well. In the actual video editing process, I’ve started to use very small amounts of correction effects. In the piece Clouds and Industry 1, one of the shots is particularly shaky, to fix this I applied Stabilize a proprietary effect within Vegas Video. In Trees 1, I slowed down two shots very minimally - one to create symmetry in the third opening shot, and the second to try and contain some camera wobble when doing a camera zoom. At this stage I am extremely happy with the results of the last two pieces. I believe I can create written and audio/visual material to document this process now, and will do so in the coming weeks. Please see sidebar for video: Trees 1
20/08/2015-After meeting with supervisor, where he suggested I had too many ideas in my pieces - I started thinking about how to pair my ideas back. I also did more filming. This time on the waterfront where there was a spectacular cloud formation. I did the filming at sunset. This is becoming a default time to capture certain cloud formations. It allows for shallow depth of field, and it gives me the greatest amount of colours to work with. I also continued experimenting with frame rate, this is because I am still not sure about movement and how frame rate affects movement. It certainly gives a different feel to the work. Another trick I’ve learned is too under expose the shot and use the contrast correction function to lighten the shot enough. This is really effective for capturing all the colours, including the blacks and creating beautiful low-light shots. In editing I worked with 3 main shots, one looking at the cloud, one looking at sun reflected in the mirror of a restaurant and one looking towards the sun. Here I could still use time to tell the story of the sunset, but as my supervisor suggested pair down my ideas and not use so many cuts. I think I achieved this aim. I’ve also started to experiment with the conversion process, this is when I render the finished piece. ’ve had a set and leave policy, but after reading information about how to render to MP4 for internet streaming - I decided to change the maximum variable bit rate. I think this means it cleaves less data or what the encoder perceives as useless data. Although I only increased it one level, the result was nothing but spectacular…the colours were even more defined. and there were no visible artefacts i.e. dots and lines as there have been in the past, however, it did add another three hundred to four hundred megabytes to the overall file. The technical nuances of this project, i.e. the actual process of filming, editing and rendering is an art in itself - this is what elevates this form of art beyond the idea of poor quality repurpose video art, and some of the experimental film art. Please see sidebar for video: Industrial Sunset 1
19/08/2015-Did some filming before meeting with supervisor. This was on the University campus. Experimented with macro-filming, managed to capture a spider and some webbing…really cool, but none of the footage is probably usable.
17/08/2015-More filming of clouds, this time at sunset. I’ve realized what made earlier pieces work, and in particular the cloud shots was filming at sunset and in low-light. The shots I captured this evening are much better, and closer to what I want and see in my head. Although again, getting all the settings right on the camera is an issue. The editing of this piece was quick. I’ve realized, because I am pushing both the camera and the Zoom's record button at the same time…in editing I can align the end of the video and zoom audio file. This in turn aligns the video and sound perfectly. Now I understand the camera settings, and am actively checking the camera and sound equipment before I leave to film these pieces - I find I have more time to set shots up in the field. Allowing me to test and correct exposure and contrast levels. This is the success of today’s filming. I also used the image stabilization function on the lens of the camera, and this steadied the pan shots. When editing the sound, I’ve figured out how to use the low-cut EQ curve better, to really clean-up any leftover wind artefacts not removed by the Zoom's on-board low-cut filter. This is allowing me to push the audio levels in post-production, so they’re very clear. For the granular processing on this piece, I decided to experiment more, rather than using only one instance of granular synthesis - I used two. This allowed me to pitch certain parts of the audio in a musical way - although not completely successful, it adds colour to the dynamics of the audio. Please see sidebar for video: Clouds At Sunset.
16/08/2015-Saw the sunset reflecting in the windows opposite my lounge, raced out door and captured a couple of shots - again not fast enough. To make matters worse, set the frame rate and dimensions on the camera wrong. I also forgot to turn the ISO up to a more appropriate setting…another waste. I would really like a quiet park for the sunset/cloud shots…even on a Sunday…this is very hard to find.
15/08/2015-More cloud filming…again not out the door fast enough. It’s amazing how fast cloud formations change, making capturing the 'money' shots very challenging. I have not viewed today’s footage yet, so I am unsure of how much of it is useful.
11/08/2015-Reflection on the two cloud pieces. Whilst I am happy with my progress in regards to the work I am completing, I still need to experiment more in regards to shot selection and editing. After viewing a number of experimental films and video art pieces, I feel I can push this new form of art further…to create visual poetry. It is hard because of the duel nature of the work I am creating. Not only am I the camera person, I am the sound person too - this creates added pressure when setting shots up. This is further exacerbated because of time frames i.e. when I did the rail piece and the first cloud piece, I was walking to uni for an appointment and so I ran out of time to complete what I saw in my head. Learning the equipment at the same time, has also made it hard to get what I see in my head down into footage filmed.
9/08/2015-I decided to film another cloud piece…I feel I should be experimenting more when it comes to shot selection and subject - although this probably did not eventuate with the footage I gathered today. What I did experiment with was frame rate, and there is a big difference between 25fps and 60fps. In particular, with moving objects and panning, however, because my camera only does 720p HD at 60fps, I can’t discount that this has something to do with it. The difference between the two frame rates could also be described as, the 25fps has a filmic quality and the 60fps has a video/camcorder quality…what this means is when choosing a frame rate, treat it like a canvas. I filmed a little 'ident' piece whilst out too…this was a close-up shot of my eye and ear…a visual pun on audio-visual. I was going to wait and edit a new piece together later, however, once I started…I could not stop. This piece…titled Clouds 2 was edited in a loop style, which harks back to my original way of creating video art pieces - it also creates two different styles of video art. One is more filmic, the other more 'video art???' or perhaps 'painting like???'. I’m not sure which style I prefer, again it’s a 'canvas', and is something I need to be conscious of when making these pieces. For Clouds 2 I decided to take a shot from the first cloud piece, this is the lonely cloud filmed through the fence and loop it four times. I’m not sure why…just effect and trying to build the piece from nothing…to something. I’ve also inserted myself into this piece, this is because I am trying to convey the idea of looking into the clouds…although I’ve made a conscious decision to shoot myself from behind…this way I’m anonymous or it’s not about me but the viewer of the piece - I represent the viewer. Another 'painting lick' I’m experimenting with is speeding the clouds up, so the clouds appear to move or grow. It’s particularly effective near the end of Clouds 2, when a random person walks through the shot. I’ve looped the shot twice and he appears to be a ghost - the clouds and sound reinforce this idea of a ghost. I’m becoming much better at the granular audio process - I almost have complete control. For this piece I wanted the audio to be somewhat quieter than in Clouds 1, although what I would have liked is some soft musical sounds - this is something I can achieve now because of the understanding I have of the granular process. Please see sidebar for video: Clouds 2
8/8/2015-I’ve just realized I had the frame rate on the camera set wrong for Clouds 1. Rather than 50fps, I had it set to 30fps…this is probably why some of the pan shots seem a little jerky. I’ve started to investigate experimental film and video art in more depth. It’s made me think that I’m limiting myself, in regards to my ideas as to what I can achieve with my video art (I don’t like the moniker of video art…it seems outdated). I need to think further outside the box when it comes to the narrative and the types of images and shots I am collecting. I started thinking about a new piece based on the strip club opposite my front door. For this piece I want to collect a series of shots…probably all the same angle and position, but at different times during the week. I will then use a digital clock typeface…a bit like the show 24 (which I never watched ugh!) to situate the piece. Hopefully there will be enough dynamics for a piece to emerge, however, last night was very quiet so no footage was shot. I also decided to muck about with the cloud piece. I tried to add some ad-lib experimental guitar as a sound-track accompaniment - just for myself, however, nothing seemed to work, so I gave up. Finally, I managed to get a map out of Google Earth from the Google My Tracks app. I’ve also managed to add the photos taken simultaneously with the film footage. Please see side bar for video: Clouds 1
6/08/2015-After experimenting with the camera in low-light, (this was the previous night) which was to try and understand the exposure compensation function - unfortunately it only works in auto-mode…I believe I have enough understanding of the various functions on the camera to operate it professionally. This I tested today for the piece Clouds 1. I decided to scrap everything I filmed on the 4/08/2015, this was after I decided that I wanted the piece to be reflective of a particular moment…or set of moments in time. This meant I wanted the footage to be shot in the same light and colour spread across the day, although when I left home this morning at around 10:30, there weren’t many clouds. This changed as the day progressed, and even though I would have liked a greyer and moodier day, which seems to be a preference of mine…what I captured was equally stunning. This is because of my growing understanding of how to use various functions on the camera, for example, customizing the tone of the footage shot, which enhances the blues and greens via the setting Landscape, using the white balance in manual-mode, rather than in auto-mode, and controlling the amount of exposure manually via the aperture. I’ve also experimented with the digital zoom function on the camera, and to my surprise it was very effective - although it made keeping the shots steady and still difficult. It also made it harder to focus…I should have tried the mirror-lock function. This is something I will have to experiment with another time. I decided to use the low-pass filter and limiter on the Zoom recorder too…this is something I should have realized in the first place - rather than just relying on audio editing in the post-production stage…do some on location. Finally got the Google My Tracks app to work on my phone…unfortunately how to make it play on Google Earth is eluding me, but I have a map with photos - at least I have a record of my 10km walk to University today. After viewing the footage, I decided to edit the it together rather than wait till later. Since this was going to be a linear piece, I had already mapped out the shots in my head. After viewing the whole piece outside of Vegas, I noticed that there was probably more camera shake than I would have liked. It is difficult to see the shake in editing, due to the small preview window. I’ve come to the realization that I have reached the limits of the technology I currently own - this is the camera and video editing software. I need to start investigating filters and devices to stop so much light getting into the camera, and I need to get a better tripod for panning shots and a better lens that isn’t so stiff would be good for zoom shots too. This piece was all about technical dexterity. Whereas Home 1 was about control, Train Untitled was about getting a feel as to what I was doing, and Self-Portrait 1 was reacquainting myself with the camera. Technical dexterity literally means learning to use the camera and field recorder in such a way, post-production techniques are minimal e.g. video effects and filters. After I edited the piece together, and because I did not use video effects - I felt that the sound had to be really strong. I bounced out the edited stereo track, and placed this into the granular synth-then I started to read the instruction manual. This gave me some valuable insights on how to create a 'soundscape' type of sound, although I need to read this manual a few more times as I am creating these 'soundscapes'. This so I fully understand all the concepts. Whilst I was happy with the results, I felt that the piece was still hollow. Because I had decided not to use post-production tricks, I decided to experiment with another audio layer. I copied the main stereo audio file, and used an effect called - Harmonic Synthesizer this is part of Native Instruments-Guitar Rig VST. I actually don’t know much about this effect, it is something I need to probe because it created some lovely 'musical' textures and sounds - adding real grit when it was needed. Finally, I started investigating typefaces for the titles.
4/08/2015-Started filming Clouds 1 piece - this was after I had done some solid research on controlling the camera better. I had been using the movie function in auto-mode, and I wasn’t getting the depth of colour or the clarity I had previously been able to achieve. I had experimented with auto-mode and manual-mode before, but I wasn’t in control of manual- mode - this is when I decided to stick with auto-mode. After some solid reading, because I was not happy with the auto-mode results, I ascertained I needed a shutter speed of fifty for the PAL standard of 25fps (this is the double the frame rate rule). To control exposure, I needed to use the aperture function. ’ve also started to investigate frame rate and why there are so many different standards-apparently when you want to slow and speed footage up, the higher the frame rate, the less noticeable blur, which is also the case with panning. I am going to continue investigating and experimenting with these concepts. I should have been setting the white balance manually too, this is rather than using the auto function again. These new discoveries excite me, and I believe I will get much better results because of this new understanding.
2/08/2015-Refection on the three pieces created so far. When I started the first piece I had very specific ideas on the quality of the finished pieces. This included the sample rate of the recorded audio, use of the camera, framing of shots, and final format for the pieces. Some of these plans were too hard to get right - this was because of a lack of planning, experience, and not having enough time to set the camera and audio equipment up. This is something I need to practice in the future, however, even though I was not able to capture sound and vision the way I wanted-the finished pieces were of an acceptable quality. Perhaps, I need to accept and understand using low-fi sound and vison is a legitimate technique within the work I am engaged in.
1/08/2015-Final editing of Home 1. I’ve also started to experiment with 'idents'. These are little identification markers at the beginning and end of my pieces. I’ve been taking old experimental photos, bits of unused songs or out of context bits of songs to create these markers.
31/07/2015-More filming for Home 1, although I didn’t quite get the 'money' shot I was after. This was patrons spilling out of the club onto the street, however, I should be able to create a suitable ending. I’ve continued to read about different frame rates in regards to filming (this is something I need to experiment with to see which delivers the best outcome depending on the final format of the project) i.e. 'film', 'PAL' and 'NTSC'. This coupled with operating the camera (I’ve also been reading the Canon 600D instruction manual), understanding the different concepts within cinematography/photography, and mastery of these within the work I am doing is paramount. This is because it possibly creates a point of difference between the work of artists also engaged in experimental film/video, and I want the films to look as beautiful as possible. The technical understanding and research of these concepts will be something I will discuss from now on in this diary.
27/07/2015-Continued filming Home 1. Editing of piece was almost completed. For Home 1, I was trying to capture the subtle beauty and horror of where I live (colours in the sky, clouds, noise and of course the strip club). I believe, if a person looks they will always find these things in and around their place of residence. I've been capturing footage for this piece over a longer period than Self Portrait 1 and Train Untitled. This was because I was hoping to capture some of the subtle cloud and lighting effects I see every day…unfortunately this idea did not really transpire, although there is the odd brush stroke here and there. I still have one more scene to capture, this is the spilling out of the strip club on a Saturday or Friday night, although I have some footage from the strip club already - it is not representative of the danger which the strip club poses. In editing I’ve started to realize when I shoot the film, I am editing the footage together (in my head) at the same time…this makes editing easier and quicker later on (it does get challenging though when you’ve shot 28 gig of footage). For this piece what I wanted to show was a day within my home environment (even though shooting was over a week long period). This was achieved by capturing the eerie quiet of pre-dawn…through the day, and into the pre-dawn again. This is becoming a 'brushstroke' on my canvas…a way to tell a story, and anchor some of my pieces with a loose narrative. I’ve started to experiment with camera techniques, zooming and focus to expand my technical repertoire too, this is so I’m not always reliant on editing trickery. I must read a book on cinematography…although I think I’m alright at cinematography, but to have the language to describe the shots I am taking would be a bonus. I tried to keep editing trickery down to a minimal for this piece, however, as I was putting it together - it felt hollow in places. This piece in the end was all about control…adding small brushstrokes here and there, just to help the story along…control rather than throwing stuff at the canvas. For the sound I tried not to use the granular process, and tried to keep the audio as a clean as possible. Unfortunately, that feeling of the piece being hollow was present again. When I did employ the granular synth effect on the whole edited audio file, or I used a small amount of delay…I did so with control. Again like the video editing filter effects. Control is the word for this piece. I feel like I’ve started to really master Vegas Video, although Vegas Video is based on an audio program (DAW), the program feels more like a painting program…the way you can edit the film, design filter effects are very natural and visual - it feels like painting (although I’ve only done minimal amount of painting…I know enough to understand the feeling). It is also helping that I’m starting to come up with a system to properly identify the video and audio I’ve recorded for later syncing.
 I’ve also started to include visual leitmotifs within certain pieces too.
26/07/2015-More filming for Home 1.
25/07/2015-More filming for Home 1.
24/07/2015-More filming for the piece Home 1. Tonight was Friday, so I wanted to start capturing footage of the strip club opposite my front door. Unfortunately, it was a quiet night - although some of the different lights from various sources shining through the glass was nice and usable. I also discovered I should have been pressing the record button on the camera and Zoom recorder at the same time. You live and learn.
23/07/2015-I started work on my second idea for the first project. This one was about trains, rail crossings and rail stations across Newcastle. To get this footage, I decided I would walk to The University of Newcastle from my house, which was near the CBD. I would also walk back too, this would hopefully give me enough footage. I had a rough idea of the footage I wanted, but as usual I improvised. Weather conditions would also play a large part in the collection of the footage. Fortunately, the weather conditions I wanted transpired. These were varying light, dark and grey, with moments of sunshine and low cloud formation. As a 'photographer', light plays an important aspect in my work. If I shot footage in the wrong type of light, any subtle meta language I may be trying to convey would be lost. This is an interdisciplinary project, and mastery of all aspects are needed. I’m finding, there is probably a need to learn the art and language of cinematography too. Since finishing Self-Portrait no1, I decided to buy a shoe-mount accessory to mount the Zoom recorder on my Canon D600 camera (this is something I needed the previous night on Self-Portrait no1). I also used a stereo lead to connect the Zoom recorder to the camera, making synching the sound together easier…or so I thought. I also wanted to keep some sort of record of my walk to and from the university. I decided to experiment using Google My Tracks, which is a GPS satellite mapping system that records your movement on a map. Unfortunately, this failed because I used my smartwatch to start the program…the program did not start! I tried to do this again on the way home, and this time the battery on my phone failed. This was disappointing, because I had covered roughly 16km, and at good pace-almost 5km an hour. If this is going to be an audio visual art diary, then recording the distances I walk when doing these types of pieces is important. Here again is an example of proper planning - something I need to get right. I also lost my spare memory card on the walk, this is because I did not put the card in a secure place. This created another problem, which was I ran out of memory on the way back - limiting the amount of footage I had, although in the end it was not an issue...it was, however, still frustrating. Overall though, the footage I had gathered was impressive and I was satisfied. Although I was exhausted, after viewing the footage I could not help myself and decided to start editing it together. In some aspects this new form of art I am experimenting with has similar echoes to painting. I go into the world, take the footage, and then piece the footage together at a later time. A painter in earlier times would sketch what they saw, then go home and paint the sketch. This concept of video painting was also incorporated into the editing of the piece. What I discovered was I was layering like a painter, but in a very abstract way. I looked at the footage and decided to edit the piece in a linear fashion, although I considered a non-linear way of editing - like I had done for Self-Portrait no1. The piece was relatively easy to put together. I used a numbering system again - spoken to identify each audio and video piece, although I shouldn’t have been so random because it made it harder to find all the pieces. I also didn’t check the cable was connected to the camera correctly and near the end some of the video footage lacked sound (camera microphone). This made it very hard to sync a few of the pieces. I had to guess and use logic to splice the video with the audio. A number of editing techniques were employed, including, speeding up footage and slowing it down. In this way editing film is like editing sound, and in particular it has close connections to the techniques of the historical avant-garde. It is perhaps something that needs to be investigated as part of this project. Once the footage and the audio was edited together, I bounced out the audio for further processing in Sonar. For this project and because of last nights’ experience - I recorded the audio at 48 Khz. This is DVD standard, but still a little disappointing. I cleaned the audio up using filters and a special effect - RMix by Roland. This effect allows the user to edit audio via a spectral display, and can allow the user to cut very small fragments of audio out of the larger recording. As an example, perhaps you have recorded a busy street scene but only want to hear the conversation of a passer-by - this effect can achieve this. For this piece I used it to clean some of the wind off the main file. Once I had done this, I decided to experiment with granular synthesis again…this time to my surprise it worked. The granular synthesis created some beautiful whooshing sounds and electronic bubbles. I achieved this by placing the processed stereo audio file into the granular synth twice and then blended the two sounds together. One of the audio files was lightly processed, but you could still make out the different audio components - meaning you could still hear trains and street noise. The second file was also processed lightly, but rather than open the granular synth up so you could recognize the sounds - I created electronic textures. The problems with doing this sort of audio processing is the file can become out of sync, which in this case it did. It is something I need to investigate more, but for this piece when I imported the file back into Vegas Video it worked. The finished audio was a combination of the unprocessed stereo master, and the stereo granular master. Once I had made sure the video and audio were synced within Vegas Video, I felt the overall piece was interesting, but lacking. I decided to experiment with video filter effect plug-ins within Vegas Video. I was concerned, because in any of the fine art electronic media courses I had completed in the past, I was told markers hated these effects. In the end though, what emerged is a painting like effect and process. I used filters such as, Hitfilm, Glow and Bump Map. Sometimes I used automation, and sometimes I did not. To me I felt like an abstract painter - where I threw something at the canvas and what worked I stuck with. Again I need to become more familiar with these effects and the overall program of Vegas Video, but I am growing in confidence with each piece I am creating. What emerged from creating this work most for me, is the idea of layering. Layer one, which was the edited video, was very bland. Layer two, the audio piqued my interest and propelled me further to experiment with layer three, which were the filter effects. Each layer contributed to the next and created a very compelling overall piece. It also gave me the idea that I was actually painting - only with video. Please see side bar for video: Train Untitled
22/07/2015-Project started in earnest, this is after I picked up Zoom recorder from my second supervisor. I decided to start working on Self-Portrait no1 first. This was because it was an easy way to reacquaint myself with the camera functions in a controlled environment. I had decided to use 24 bit-96 kHz for audio, however, when I imported all the audio and video into Vegas Video I found out because I did not have the full version of the software - I could not take advantage of the higher quality. Self-Portrait no1 began as a way to include a semi-musical piece within the framework I was provided with. It also gave me a way to indulge in the visual artists’ whim of a self-portrait. I had some riffs I had been practising a few weeks ago, unfortunately for me I had not practised in over a month. Even worse it was in an odd time signature. What I decided to do, because I could not play the piece as a whole - I would film the riffs and parts of the composition being recorded. I would then piece together the Sonar audio recordings, the video and the ambient microphone recordings in Vegas Video. It was a task that was easier than I thought. This was because I had shouted a number…anything, and I could recognise these key phrases, which I could then use to align the disparaging audio and video tracks - although it was time consuming. I assembled the video loops roughly, then edited the guitar riffs into a continuous audio file, and I imported this into Vegas Video. Finally, I tidied up a rough cut of the video. I tried placing the guitar riff into the granular synthesizer: Padshop and experimented. This was not working so I decided to leave the guitar riff natural, although one of the guitar granular experiments resulted in a haunting melodic refrain. I put to one side for possible later use. I also experimented with the ambient microphone audio file, which was also placed in the granular synth - again this did not work. In the end, I decided since this was the very first piece, I would leave the audio as is and edit and mix it together in Vegas. This created some problems, because Vegas Video cannot access my full audio plug-in selection, so I had to make to do with what I had. I realized later I actually had access to enough mastering effects, but I was still happy with the finished piece. Once I edited the audio together, I found the piece sounded hollow in certain sections. I decided to use the granular guitar piece in these sections, although it was against the directive of this particular project - I had to use it-because it was just too good not to. Once the audio was completed, I started to experiment with video filters in Vegas Video. I experimented with Dream Glow, Drop Shadow, Invert and Spherize. I also experimented with automation within the filter plug-in environment. Whilst these filters created a very abstract effect overall, I was cautious and applied them sparingly…only using them to enhance the finished product. I’ve only just started using some of these “effects”, and more research into the proper use of said filters will be needed, but overall I was very happy with finished piece and was looking forward to experimenting more. Please see side bar for video: Self-Portrait 1