Dana Bubulj: Sculpture, Film, Shadows, Art

Their work, words and wonder

Category: General-Upkeep

Roundup #4

It’s been a while, mainly because of being busy/rundown and as my laptop has come down with what I have and is refusing to boot outside of safe mode. It’s all great fun. As such, not doing a web round up right now, just covering films and the like I’ve been up to lately (that, upon editing, I’m amused to see flow topically):

The long way to a small angry planet, by Becky Chambers, got a lot of perhaps undeserved chagrin on my part, due to being an ultimately quite sweet thing I read while feeling quite misanthropic and uncharitable. The start of a series, I believe, and beloved of many of my friends, this story introduces one of those casts that feels like they’ve been workshopped on Tumblr, complete with sentient AI romance and a poly (bi?) femme!reptilian-alien. But to be fair, a nice enough space adventure that can be read quickly. [edited to rephrase] 

So as a palate cleanser I went onto 1984 (George Orwell), which, despite pretending to have for about 10 years, was the first time I’d read it. I’ve not seen any film adaptations either, if we’re not counting Brazil. I found it amazing, and in particular, the idea of Newspeak was fascinating to me in its conscious obliteration of nuance. I was reminded of a comment of… Nabokov’s I believe, when discussing translation of poetry and how it was impossible to do so with Russian due to the richness of the language and vocabulary. English is similar. A French friend working as a translator has often commented to me how difficult it is to get nuance across due to French’s comparatively smaller vocabulary. The sheer point of multiple words that, arbitrarily can be summarised under the one umbrella, is to differentiate (‘No, not just oak. Winter oak, that’s the noun!’). Newspeak is like a perverse take on creating Platonic ideals while reducing the capacity to speak, to give voice to their thoughts.

But then I like semiotic discussions, and I digress.

I never wrote up that PCC marathon I mentioned in my last roundup, did I? Well three nights in a row certainly stopped me turning down the left too soon. It was good to see A Streetcar Named Desire on the large screen. It has been so many years, probably since doing it at school, with Williams’ lush stage directions making the scenes so vivid. I remember having different sympathies back then, than when watching it now. I hadn’t remembered the subplot of Blanche’s potential romance with Stanley’s friend. Or the baby, come to that. The acting is of course superb, with Kim Hunter and Vivien Leigh well realised. Brando’s Kowalski covers charismatic masculinity to ugliness and violence well, though I’d forgotten how antagonistic he actually was from the get go.

Tarkovsky’s Stalker [Youtube], which I’d not seen the entirety of before, did well by being on a large screen. That said, the film had two to three possible endings before it actually finished – by which point we were wondering if it ever would. A set of character studies, it revels in long, slow shots of each of the three protagonists’ faces. The self-styled archetypes on their way to a place where wishes come true – each there out of desperation. A quiet film, with some fantastic colour work on the worlds. Were the threats of the zone real or imagined? It’s not really clear. Ponderous, with some wry comments on the nature of writers that were definitely played for laughs.

Another classic film was L’Age d’Or [also on Youtube in entirety] by Bunuel and Dali. A series of not-entirely connected surrealist scenes of political resistance, uncontrolled sexual urges and political satire, with a fab intro on scorpions. There was some gallows humour, and some marvellous silent-film overacting.

On the note of artificiality, I saw The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou again, this time in the cinema. Perhaps my early dislike of Wes Anderson is being tempered as I mature, perhaps enjoyment is often situationally based. Either way, it was great to see the film on screen – in particular the shots of the documentary films. I had forgotten that Jeff Goldblum was so fabulous in this one. Anjelica Huston stole the show, and I love her. Also Seu Jorge Bowie covers are great.

On Bowie, went to the Tricycle and saw Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars, live at the Apollo in 1973. With a precis from the last remaining spider, who was very into his epic rock, the film was great to see large and loud and live. Even if that guitar solo of Ronson’s went on approximately 300 times too long. Made me think I’ve been far too harsh about live recordings of songs before, generally preferring the studio version for roundness of sound. But there were some nice versions of songs, including from albums I’m not massively familiar with but will definitely have to go back to.

Speaking of retro, there was a fab double bill on at the PCC of Electric Dreams and Her – both love stories with AI though very different takes. Electric Dreams, from which the song of the same name came about, follows a guy with quite frankly rubbish takes on women in a love triangle with his musician neighbour and his accidentally souped up computer, which has gained sentience and creepy entitlement issues that are half played for comic relief but also the voice of the grubbier bits of this generation’s geek culture. Another story of the Internet of Things gone terribly awry, this was actually pretty fun to watch (though there was a moment at the beginning we were trying to remember whether it was pastiche or of its time, it’s so very dated). 

I had been meaning to catch Her before this, so I was glad it came up. It gave me a lot of feelings, despite essentially hanging on the principle that you’d fall in love with Scarlett Johanssen. Joaquin Phoenix was fantastic as a very believable, and not particularly sympathetic (if very relatable) man still mourning the loss of his marriage and not managing to do real relationships. As a writer of others’ feelings, an AI OS you can talk to seems a natural fit for his emotions, and it’s left vaguely ambiguous whether AI is fully reflecting his projections or actually sentient in a more autonomous way.  I found the surrogate scene pretty hard to watch, as the idea hit close to home, though I did enjoy the film –  There were some quite amusing comments on exclusivity in the singularity age, and some fab subtle tech futures. That said, I never ever want to watch phone sex on screen, and this film made me more than once, which I shan’t forgive. Actually, it’d be an interesting double bill with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, as it shares themes of mutable reality and memory within a man’s impressions and projections of love.

For a nostalgia-esque easy night in, a friend and I rewatched Hackers and Constantine. Hackers was and is absolutely ridiculous and great fun, even though when watching it I couldn’t shake the bit in my head going “when did Sick Boy go to the US?“. Also couldn’t stop seeing Matthew Lillard as simultaneously his chara in The Good Wife, and Fred, the guy who wants to be Godzilla in Big Hero 6. There was quite a sweet (and not all white(!)) ensemble cast too, in a Dark Angel kind of way. (Also, Jolie, Yes hello.).

Constantine holds up in the era of superhero/comics adaptations and while he’s not my Constantine (the sarky blonde in a trenchcoat whose heart is broken and friends keep dying), he was one of mine. Also Rachel Weisz is lovely and I maintain this.  As an aside, after reading a great interview with Keanu Reeves I watched Street Kings on Netflix, which was ridiculous but was definitely one for good performances from a bunch of people I recognised with Forest Whitaker, Chris Evans (US) and Hugh Laurie all starring.

This weekend I finished the main plot of The Witcher 3, which I’d been putting off for a while because I have a tendency of leaving things right before their end for ages. Found a lot of parallels between Ciri and Buffy (of vampire slaying fame), which is all I’ll say as I don’t want to spoil it. On the Dlc now, and enjoying being trounced again by various beasties while carrying out challenges from a genie type omnipotent master of mirrors who is essentially Q from Star Trek. Some nice character work, with some great humour.

While buying tickets for Logan the other day, I was struck by how rugged and old the poster made Hugh Jackman look. Almost Geralt-like. The film was silly but enjoyable, though definitely not for the squeamish in Robocop level gore. Also not content in killing just the one black guy, they do their whole family. Sigh.It was also very disconcerting seeing the guy from Narcos channelling Gary Oldman as a ridiculously over the top Southern villain. The sniping between Wolverine and the professor was great, particularly in its meta references to literal X-Men comics. Again, like Hackers, I was left with a distinctly Dark Angel vibe in its plot and particularly ending.

I also watched Neil Gaiman talking about his collection of Norse Mythology, acknowledging those that came before and their visions of the translations. His take on them sounded decent, and something I’ll probs borrow at some point. He made quite an interesting point I’d not thought of before, of the limited cast of the Myths, with the particular edda sources perhaps being a particular focus, how generally speaking there aren’t any goddess-centric stories, perhaps because they were told in different spaces, private spaces, women-centric spaces where the stories were told for reasons that weren’t captured by the already historicising Snorri. There are giantess especially, that said. It made me want to go on a Marina Warner binge.

With regards to events, at some point I’ll write up BIFM‘s WIFM event for International Women’s Day, which was a positive, short panel that brought together leading women in the field of Facilities Management. But that’s shop talk, so ought to be split out.

Visited the Oxford Playhouse last month to see The Winter’s Tale, a play I did not know at all. Interesting after remembrances of King Lear and The Tempest: families undone by doubt and mistrust, with regret and estrangement, a bit of Pygmalion thrown in at the end. Some nice contemporary spliced in, with a compere/bard that I was expecting to turn around and go ‘anyway, here’s Wonderwall’ at any moment.

Tune in next time for Ikarie xb1, past futures, why Bri-nylon will save you from the temptations of mysterious carpet sellers and the Central St Martin’s Fashion in Film series.

Anyway, here’s wonderwa–  In closing, Suede’s The Asphalt World has been in my head all day. I’m OK with this.

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Roundup #2

Following on from last month’s roundup, time has passed, a year has changed. On a personal note, things are more positive. At least more so than the white-noise of December.

in girum imus nocte consumimur igni

‘We spin around consumed by the Fire’

Books & Media

Of things read recently, they’ve been all over the place, genre-wise. Claire Trévien has a fab review over at Sabotage of Akwe Amosu’s Not Goodbye – I loved “Prayer for Rain“. Currently reading Margaret Atwood’s Hagseed, which I adore. I am a sucker for takes on The Tempest, and this has a fab unreliable narrator too of a creative director who is reenacting his revenge for being ousted from the local theatre festival through a production within a prison workshop. Some lovely touches, not least in the nice play of protagonist “Felix” and nemesis “Tony”.

Devoured Bitch Planet Vol 1 [DeConnick, De Landro, Wilson, Soma, Peter, Cowles] in the one sitting – shall definitely grab the next one when it comes out. Set in a futuristic women’s prison it covers corruption, racism, sexism and revenge with some characters I look forward to get to know better. Also caught volume 1 of Faith: Hollywood and Vine [Houser, Portela, Sauvage], which was light and cheerful, though I’m unfamiliar with the original source comics. On another comic note, I’m currently subscribed to Shade the Changing Girl [Castellucci, Zarcone, Way] which is massively trippy and will need some re-reads, as the world expands. I have a lot of nostalgic fondness for Shade the Changing Man, as I used to get odd issues from the 10p boxes – it usually worked in that fashion – completely different locations, worlds, dangers. I must actually try and track down an omnibus collection so I get more context(!). Love how the new Shade’s worlds combine, and how the madness bleeds through. Gorgeously drawn.

On a book note, never have I missed my stop as much as when I’ve been reading Aliette de Bodard‘s The House of Shattered Wings, which was a slow burner but enjoyable alt-history fantasy with fallen angels, houses of magic, old grudges and the conflict from the colonisation of South East Asia. The first in a trilogy.

In my catching up with classic films I’ve never got around to seeing, I saw The Godfather I & II – which were (obviously) great. I almost want to go back to the first one and rewatch having seen the flashbacks/history of Brando in the sequel. The cinematography was stunning, with some lovely framing and echoing of poses/situations.

Another thing I adored was 3% [Netflix, Brazil], which is a bit like The Hunger Games, if they’d addressed the resistance from the start in a series of ‘tests’ given to 20 year olds with the goal being to leave the deprivation of inland and go ‘offshore’. Engaging cast, and a plot that had me hanging throughout. Roll on the next series.

Started Destiny on PS4, which would be great as a co-op if people were not all level capped wandering about while I get destroyed by knight swarms at level 4. I object in principle to games that won’t local co-op. It’s one of the reasons I’ve bought so many Borderlands 2 DLCs – local co-op is fun. You sit with your people and shoot things. You don’t have to have a solid internet connection, or be online at the same time in the same way. That said, anyone who wants to shoot things in Destiny with me, let me know.

Speaking of video game mechanics – started Watchdogs, which I enjoy except for the fact that I’m generally slow to pick up controls, and the sheer amount of GTA-like driving quests end up in me somewhat annoyed at the thing for not escaping police in time again.

Out and About

No Man’s Land, NT Live – I couldn’t get tickets to the actual performance, so ended up watching it live at the O2 in Finchley Road. Not knowing anything about the play (or indeed, any of Pinter), I came to it fresh. The cast were great, with McKellen and Stewart playing off each other fabulously as always, and quite enjoyed listening to their Q&A afterwards reminiscing on the original performance and the take on dementia. Reminded me, in some aspects, of Sleuth, that manages to really ramp up the tension between Olivier/Caine to almost uncomfortable levels.

For something completely different, Kiki’s Delivery Service at the Southwark Playhouse was wonderful – with Eiko Kadono’s story adapted for the stage by Jessica Siân. I’d not known it had a separate life outside of the Ghibli, and it managed to stand completely independently, with a small cast managing to convey a whole lively town well through some great costume changes and movement. The cat puppet and actor was also fabulous. That said, probably because I did see it mid-December, a story about a girl who messes up on her job and lets people down (even if she does pick herself up from that knock) was a bit too close to home. Christ on a bike, I’m glad December’s over.

Cinema – Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them – which was whitewashed fluff with some great creature design but some questionable plot and character choices. Saw Attack the Block (Cornish) at BFI IMAX, which was definitely a good film to see massive. It survived the screen well. Will have a look to see what else is on there. Became a member of the Prince Charles Cinema, something I’ve been meaning to do for ages, but realised there are a few things coming up I’ve my eye on (mostly the Tarkovsky season).

In another real-life thing, found a cafe (Brü) that opens late in Harrow that has decent tea and ice cream. But also opens late. It almost makes the place less of a ghost town after the shops close. Went for a wander in central London near New Year’s – past midnight you’ve got to step through a forcefield between the completely deserted tourist traps to where the life is, with open food and bars and people. Quite bizarre. Must do more of that, particularly as I’ve signed up to do the Half-Moonwalk.

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Still using Bullet Journal, and starting to track moods and actions in earnest. It’s also a good way to actually do the scrapbooking I enjoy doing as and when, rather than saved up forever. Got a new phone that’s got a decent “manual” camera that I am definitely enjoying getting some use out of (as above, N18).

Online

Recipes

Going to try and do some takes on some of the cookbooks I’ve got in a more formal fashion. Happy to have success thusfar with Gordon Ramsay’s roast pork butterflied with sage and garlic and tied up again. Similarly, got a lot of compliments for a take on Nigella Lawson’s parsnips mashed with porcini water and liberal amounts of nutmeg and thyme.

AOB

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Dorothy Parker, 28th June 1945, reproduced from Letters of Note

Roundup #1

Pledged to use this more, and to start to amass an archive of information, snippets, ideas going forward and etc. We shall see how that goes. This is mostly due to the Bullet Journal bug, but more of that anon.

Books and Media

Been in a bit of a rut this week with books – perhaps I’m not as invested in the stories I’m trying to get into and it’s thrown my focus. But this’ll shake off soon, I’d imagine. Commuting helps with providing neat chunks of time I can read (when I get a seat).

Finished The Invisible Library, by Genevieve Cogman, a birthday present that’s the start of a series of vaguely magic-ish multiple worlds/dimension hopping, with a slight rose-tint at old pulp genre which is oddly acknowledged throughout by the protagonist in a sweet enough way. Spent much of it planning a re-read of Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next books, which engage with meta in a slightly sharper way, though it was enjoyable, and I’m looking forward to the sequel.

Absolutely adored The Expanse on Netflix – the characters were interesting, I wanted to see how the threads unravelled, thought the acting was good (and props for a more diverse casting). It’s a colonist cold war in space – with the breadth and depth that people admire with Game of Thrones – I think. I, predictably, adore Miller, and have ordered the first book or two to start soon.

Also watched the new Planet Earth II, which was great and I really love the ‘diaries’ at the end for the camera-people explaining how they got the shots in the first place without egregious bodily harm on their part. While I acknowledge that narratives are framed around footage for drama and engagement, I felt more than a little love for the albatross awaiting his partner who was running late, something I was not alone in apparently!

Planet Earth II Albatross

Planet Earth II Albatross

Out and About

PJ Harvey, Brixton Academy

This was a phenomenal set that had my friend and I in tears at points. Such a stage presence, such a great band of musicians. The new album sounded great live and I’m looking forward to sitting down and listening to it properly, where I can take in the (very political) lyrics properly. Similarly, it was actually magic seeing songs (particularly When Under Ether and The Devil [live vid]) from White Chalk live, which has been one of my favourite albums of hers. And she ended on The River [live vid], which ended me.

Lazarus, Kings Cross Theatre

We saw this play the night after the morning the US elections were called. Let’s just say that This is Not America hit harder than it might have otherwise. Also it doesn’t pull its punches, with Lazarus the first song out of the gate. Michael C Hall is a very good Newman, and a decent Bowie, come to that. Michael Esper is a similarly good singer as the dark Valentine. Like the original, the women aren’t the best characters and serve as foils to the protagonist when not having a slightly wrought breakdown, But the musical is enjoyable – once you let go of plot and become a voyeur as Newman to the world, letting it wash over you. The staging effects are well done, and I like being able to see the musicians through windows. It will be good to see again, once rewatching The Man Who Fell to Earth so the film is fresher in my mind.

The Tiger’s Bride, Oxford Playhouse

This adaptation of an Angela Carter short story was done in the top room of St Aldate’s Tavern, with a small cast and crew (of which I knew one). I really liked the music (performed live, stage right), and the effects that managed to convey a vast space through wooden frames used as doorways, stairs, corridors. The wirework in the horses and tiger mask were also lovely. Nicely performed, and carried the (crammed) audience with them effortlessly.

King Lear, The Old Vic

It is always good to see the classics done well, and this production, starring Glenda Jackson as the eponymous ruler, was very well performed. I felt a lot of sympathy for Celia Imrie and Jane Horrocks’ Goneril and Regan, as I’m often wont to do. Rhys Ifans was a good fool, Kent (Sargon Yelda) and Gloucester (Karl Johnson) were also strong. The cast did well with the material, though playing the king straight removed the possibility of a set of familial bonds that could have made the text richer. Having said that, the focus was much more on the paradigm shifts between generations and the ‘deserving’ inheritors of wealth and influence. The ‘good’ respect for the establishment in casting out those not welcome (despite Edmund’s actions) is particularly (and ever) prescient.

And while I’m talking about The Old Vic, I saw No’s Knife for my birthday.

Lisa Dwan was phenomenal. I’m not too familiar with Beckett’s writing but this was such a way to get into them (helped in the more abstract passages by captions). She shuck on characters like a second skin, and the bleed between them made for a heady viewing experience.

The Quay Brothers in 35mm (Christopher Nolan), Prince Charles Cinema

I’d not seen many of the Quay Brothers’ films before, though adored the ones I knew, so snapped up these tickets at the marvellous PCC as soon as I saw them. Starting with In Absentia certainly set a fraught mood that left us a bit breathless in the change of reels – but then we’re taken into a short interview/doc with the brothers themselves in their studio space, talking about their work which allows space and time to frame the work in context – particularly given their comments about not wanting to work with [what’s outside the window] but escape it within their puppets and sets. This feeds nicely into two of their films, Comb, which I’d not seen and adored, and Street of Crocodiles, which is one of my favourite short films. It was amazing seeing the films on a large screen, considering the scale of the sets and machinery themselves. The characters have such life, more than the glint of olive oil on their eyes.

The Worthy (Ali F. Mostafa), ICA, part of the BFI London film festival

Wasn’t sure what to expect with this massively violent and somewhat bleak film in a Battle Royale vein. Did enjoy it, though would rather have followed the protagonist’s sister, plot-wise, for her drive (in direct contrast to the Hamlet-like action or not action conflict in main chara).

Spirited Away (Ghibli), Prince Charles Cinema

Fabulous seeing the film on such a large screen (subbed). The colour palates and scenery makes it a feast for the eyes. Also it helps that it had a decent translation of the original dialogue.

Online

Social Media Guide – Notes

Sorry for the lack of posts recently. I’ve a couple of things I’ve been meaning to write since about October (Eek!) and am determined to do so. Until then, I wanted to post about what I’ve been working on recently.

Puffles watching work on the initial Twitter guide

Puffles watching work on the initial Twitter guide

I met Puffles the dragon fairy on Twitter quite recently. They blog here about Politics, news and anything else that takes their fancy and with past Whitehall experience, their insights are often quite keen. They’re also a bit fab at encouraging young people, who are a bit Catch-22’d by needing experience to get experience. I took part, along with Michelle Brook and Ceri Jones in the second set of commissions (the first lot being WordPress and Facebook). Our topics were An Introduction to Twitter, and an Introduction to Social Media Analytics and I’m really proud of the final results.
Puffle’s blogposts on the process are here: planningscripting, screencastingpublishing/editing.

Process

It was definitely a learning experience, not least because I’m most comfortable on PCs and view Macs with some suspicion. Some of the initial attempts to try and convert things between the two types of laptop OS’s left me flailing as filetypes claimed to be incompatible and I kept hitting the wrong shortcut keys. There was also much “where the hell is this button/function?!?!?”, but we got there in the end. During the process we were usually on two computers, and Dropbox was invaluable to keep files current. All the editing was eventually done on Puffles’ Mac, as they had Adobe Premiere as well, which was what I was most familiar with. I cannot stress enough the importance of using what you know. Obviously, it was exciting to play about with unfamiliar tools, but when needing to produce something, it does help to work with your experience. The best way to learn any program is to essentially fiddle about until it does what you want. You often find interesting things you hadn’t thought of yet, as a bonus. (That said, there were frantic interweb searches for how to guides at points!). But I get ahead of myself.

Scripting

Michelle, Ceri and I taking time in the morning cafe ritual to go over scripts

Michelle, Ceri and I taking time in the morning cafe ritual to go over scripts

These things do take some time. What we found very useful was having the first day spent exploring our parameters with bullet point lists of points we needed to cover, discussing the topic at hand. This also gave us time to get to know each other. Fortunately, we all worked really well together and got on fabulously. Taking this time to talk about the video meant that we did not get into the awful state of realising we’d missed something crucial later and having to wedge it in. The script that was written on the second day was continuously rewritten throughout the experience (up until the final audio recording!)  to rephrase things more clearly, or to replace awkward to say passages.

Audio

Initial audio quality was horrendous. It was recorded off a laptop microphone and you could tell in how echoey it was. Similarly there was a point where the lovely roaring fire wanted to get into the action and crackled as we spoke, as well as an attention-seeking cat wandering about the house looking for food.

"sssffzzzf zfz" - Calcifer

“sssffzzzf zfz” – Calcifer ruining audio takes

Due to where the laptop had its mic, the difference in volume between the three voices was pretty stark, and playing with the master volume didn’t really mitigate it as much as necessary. Luckily, as we got more familiar with the script (having done it enough times) and rephrased things, stumbles became less frequent, replaced by periodic giggles, which was necessary, I think, to keep us mostly focussed throughout the day.

The second set of audio was so much clearer. And as it should be, as we used a proper mic (Apogee MiC) with a tripod facing us. It was astounding the difference the right equipment could make sometimes. Garageband, which the new mic preferred to be fed into, was surprisingly simple to use, even for PC users like myself and Ceri. The original effect settings were quite odd though, so we settled for “no effects”.

Screenshot of Garageband

Screenshot of Garageband

On a related note, Ceri has now made Subtitled versions of the guides – obviously this is an important thing to do to make the guides as accessible as possible. Here’s links to the Twitter Guide with Subtitles and the Subbed Analytics video.

Screen-casting/Filming

Using Screencasting Tool, from the Good Luck Corporation, a company that sounds like it should be from some dystopian video game, all of the footage used was taken on one of the Macs. Do make sure to match the frame rate with the frame rate of the Premiere file, or you’ll have to do it again, like we did, at points, lest it export to a flickering mess.

Screengrabbing tool. N.B: remember to crop it so you don't get the "stop recording" on camera.

Screencasting tool. N.B: remember to crop it so you don’t get the “stop recording” on camera.

Important to note: creating a storyboard (even just writing what to cast for what bit of audio), is essential. Taking the time to rename the screencasts for their content and their number in the running order meant that editing was so much simpler, as we could import the folder and literally go down the list, building the bridge slat by slat.

Oh dear. 

That first video we exported as a trial run. Getting feedback was important, but also painful. Essentially, a) the audio was unclear and more importantly, b) because of the exporting + the initial set up of the Premiere file, it was too small and too blurry to be legible.

Disaster!

Disaster! That or the computer’s attempt to summon Cthulhu while we weren’t looking.

It took some frantic exporting and fiddling about with settings before we could figure out what the matter was. Tip: it’s best to export snippets of bits occasionally to see that everything’s going ok. There are a load of template settings to export with on Premiere, including a Vimeo one, but this is misleading as that’ll export to 640 x 480, so fullscreening will break it. We tried exporting the original and cropping the frame, but the damage was done. We’d have to start from scratch.

So many options! Recommend to stay far away from any of them, and instead make sure initial set up is what you want to export.

So many options! Recommend to stay far away from any of them, and instead make sure initial set up is what you want to export.

One thing that really worried me was that the previews in Premiere itself of the screencasted files were a bit blurry themselves (probably just due to rendering capacity), so there was a point when I had assumed we’d have to cast it all again: which would take a significant amount of time. But luckily, was reminded on Twitter that this might be the case and checked the files themselves, which were legible and fine. Thank goodness. They were also fine sped up, which was useful as some of the key tricks we used to match footage to audio was essentially fitting the video length to the audio length.

Our settings, for reference, were: H.264, 720 x 1280, 64kbps, 48 kHz, 25 fps.

Exporting

Exporting

Notes and Tips for Premiere

Set up all the things you’ll need. I personally keep it so I can see the files to drag in, the Timeline, the film bit, and have the effects dropdown in another tab, so it’s easier to drag in and drop the most useful things ever: fade to black and cross dissolve video transitions. We used the former for most transitions, and the latter for cuts within the same segment: say if we cut out a bit in the middle but it’s ostensibly the same thing.

Keyboard shortcuts are invaluable! Become friends with x, c and v, which flicks the cursor between normal selecting (which’ll allow you to drag-and-crop clips, the incredibly useful time-smushing tool (shush, I can’t remember its name at this point) that will speed up/slow down clips as you drag to fit a specific length, and the razor key, which is useful at times, but not as helpful as Control (or Apple key) + K, which is cut at where your time-stamp thing is, which allows you to be much more accurate. There’s a key for this in Garageband too, I think it’s Apple+T off the top of my head. Note on Apple+K: it will cut all the tracks you’ve got highlighted, which can be useful or can be a pain: just keep an eye on it. Also, render (hit Enter key) as you go along. It’ll make it faster in the end. Also? Save. Save a lot.

Puffles and Muffin at the end of a long day's work

Puffles and Muffin at the end of a long day’s work

Conclusions/Final thoughts

There were a lot of things we could have done to make it a faster process: having the right audio equipment initially, setting up the video file correctly at the start… Small but very important things that’ll come back to haunt you if it’s done wrong initially. There were also a few screencasts we hadn’t renamed, which meant there were points of looking for particular things we knew we had done. All in all, the Analytics went much smoother, having made the mistakes on the Twitter guide and learnt from them. It doesn’t take too long to edit as long as everything is set up to be easily found. Working technically five hour days, though generally spending much longer allowed us to be more calm about the whole process, taking lunch breaks and loosening up in the evenings.

Definitely very fun to do. Having finished Uni I’ve not really had the chance to use the skills I honed there, instead concentrating on dull, but gainful temping. Working on these learning guides seems to be what I really should be doing, and I’m certainly going to be on the lookout for positions that actually consider either the creation of such guides or the implementing of said digital strategy of sorts. Particularly given the feedback we’ve received on the final versions has been very positive.

Where to go from here / How does this fit into traditional roles?

It’s quite difficult to figure out what this sort of work really is. Technically we were making digital strategy learning resources that will be used by organisations to introduce their staff to the importance of social media, a bit like Sue Llewellyn’s guides for the BBC’s College of Journalism. It’s definitely an important field that’ll need more consideration by those wishing to be in the public eye.

But where does it fit within traditional business models? Much of the issues that arise with Social Media blow-ups are due to essentially bad customer service, because the people using the tools are perhaps focussed on keeping it a broadcasting, Marketing tool. There’s nothing so frustrating as those in customer-facing roles hearing complaints/suggestions/feedback and having very little recourse but to feed it up the chain, which can be far too slow as technological advances. Some middle ground needs to be sought, perhaps using the framework of a kind of un/solicited out-sourcing to aid decision making. Too many cooks are said to spoil the broth, but you can never have too many cookbooks from which to draw inspiration </convoluted analogy>.

Puffles as Decision Maker

Puffles as Decision Maker

When I Grow Up

“Where am I going? I don’t quite know” (A.A. Milne, ‘Spring Morning’)

My degree has nearly concluded, the fruits of this year’s work are being exhibited rather successfully. While this assuages the guilt I had been feeling whilst messing on the internet rather than working, it brings with it a reinforced Damocles sword with its steely whisper: “So, what do you want to do when you’ve finished Uni?”

It’s a good question, one I have to consider rather seriously now. Short term plans involve getting some more reading done, get into the habit of sketching regularly, of updating this, etc.. But those aren’t what that question is getting at: that question wants to talk about job prospects.

It’s tempting to answer glibly, to recall childhood games where I was a witch detective spy (a magic spy detective? detective spy witch? I can’t remember the order on the bespoke (obvs) business cards.) I had set up an agency in the back garden and took cases that I’d technically fabricated (clues and all), conveniently forgetting their resolutions (or leaving them to the conclusions of the clues – an early example of Death of the Author?). I’m not as enamoured of these avenues of employment as I once was, but it’s nice to hear other people’s childhood combined dream-jobs: in ‘Fuck you, Corporate-land’, Lucy Ayrton has the amazing: “You’re disappointed? I was going to be the first ever brain surgeon/rock star!”

I need to be a bit more focussed with applications, which will in turn help me figure out what sort of things to pursue. Thankfully, despite the feeling of funnelling children to vocations, it is less unusual not to have a path on which you spend your entire life. It’s a process, after all.

“So, how do you see yourself in five years?”

Upcoming: Kingston Fine Art Degree Show

Private View: Saturday 16th June, 1pm-7pm
Public View: Sunday 17th June – Fri 22nd June 1pm-7pm (Closes at 5pm on Sun & Fri)

Fine Art at Kingston University Poster for Degree Show

Private & Public View in a Fortnight

We’ve had a really strong year full of varied, independent artists. I’m looking forward to seeing this all come together, and so should you. 

Location:

Knight’s Park
Grange Road
Kingston upon Thames
Surrey KT1 2QJ

Closest Trains: Kingston or Surbiton Station
Check TFL for Bus/specific links.

Feet in the Sky (status update)

feet in a playground

Playground: lounging in the air

Just a quick status update to say things are happening. Experimenting with multiple screens and simultaneous narratives. Will update soon, particularly with a post about London that I’ve been planning.

Night Owls and Music Halls

Oh I do seem to work best when the world is silent ‘cept for skitters and the odd animal yowl. It’s at that time that my brain lets loose the energy it needed distractions to help build up, like going into gear from an enforced neutral.

Today I am going to make a quiet film: using the story as narrative over waves and footage I shot in Leigh. I was thinking about Derek Jarman’s Blue the other day and want to see if that would work for something less contemplative and with dialogue.

If all else fails, it might just turn into a narration from Bagpuss.

On Saturday I was at Wilton’s Music Hall for the Hammer and Tongue Poetry Slam Final (will link to review once it’s up). The building is beautiful, all the more so for its unassuming façade hidden away in a back alley off Whitechapel. It’s the oldest music hall in the world, apparently, and the last functioning one. I’d like to see other events there and bask in the life the place has yet.

Fabulous columns

Wilton's Music Hall, taken from the side of the main hall, facing away from the stage.

To a beginning

Snow has fallen, as a cursory glance out the window (or indeed at any social media) would attest. What better time than when the world is made blank than to start this site?

Hopefully this will grow to contain photographs of work both completed and in progress, while also serving as a place to note interesting things found along the way.

Until then.