Portfolio Essay

In this course, I feel as I have learned quite a bit. I previously had not heard of the term of affordance. When the idea was introduced in the first intensive, I really did not have any idea what was going on or how it related to digital media. Through the readings and sketching, I slowly began to understand the term as written here and here am now able to teach friends about the idea and how it relates to mobile videography. I now see the word a bit differently as I can recognise affordances in objects, and design. I work with graphic and motion designers daily and I feel like my understanding of affordances has helped me develop my appreciation for design and ability to critique and give direction to their work.

I have also learned about the psychology of digital memories through my research of my chosen affordance. I knew that technology was impacting humans, but I did not know how much of an effect it was having on human memories. This new knowledge was an unexpected bonus from this course.

I have also learned about different filming techniques and different apps to use on the mobile phone. I had no idea of the capabilities of the mobile phone when it comes to filmmaking.

I feel like this course was a semester long struggle for me. It’s not that the work was too advanced or challenging, but that I don’t naturally see and think in the way required. I appreciate and understand the theories presented in the course, but the technical aspects are not something I enjoy or excel at. If this course had been entirely theory based, I would not have struggled as much.

Throughout my life I have always felt the need to express myself in an artistic way. I have tried ballet, jazz, acting, violin, choir, studio art, drawing, ceramics, photography and most recently filmmaking and mobile filmmaking. Each time, I never felt like what I had in my head ended up on paper or film. This course highlighted that fact as I was required to make so many sketches and iterations and yet, none managed to turn out like I had envisioned.

It was a very frustrating semester for me as I felt disappointed with each sketch and iteration despite my efforts. I am not saying I tried harder than my peers or that my peers had less struggles than I but for most of my peers, this type of artistic expression is something they want to pursue as a profession. For me, this is not the case. I have found my calling elsewhere.

Despite the fact that I struggled this semester, I did recognise some strengths in this process. Writing weekly reflections on each studio as well as reflections to each sketch really allowed me to improve my ability to reflect on what I was doing and learning. I feel that one of my strengths is my ability to be honest with myself and others about my struggles with this class and the assignments. Writing out how I was feeling about the sketches and readings, really allowed me to understand what I did and didn’t understand. Even reading back on my previous blog entries, I am surprised as I feel despite my struggles, I have actually learned a lot and grown through the course of this class.

I can continue to work on my filmmaking skills as well getting ideas from my head to paper or film. But as I am not confident my skills will improve significantly and I have come to terms with that, I plan to focus more on expanding my knowledge in a theory based format and improve my ability to understand and critique others work. I feel that I am more suited to be a critic rather than a creator.

I think my practice has changed quite a bit through the sketching process. I always thought I needed a really clear direction before shooting something and through sketching, I’ve realised that I can figure out something simply by going out and experimenting. I struggled a lot with Project 3 because I focused so much on coming up with an idea before filming. But through reading Buxton, I was able to just relax a bit and experiment. I am now not so focused on having a clear vision before filming.

Through the research aspect of this course, I have began to look at films and mobile videos differently as well as seeing the impact of post industrial media. Even looking back on this post, I feel like now I have even more knowledge/opinions on the subject. It’s taken the entire semester for everything to kind of sink in and make sense in my head. But now the knowledge I’ve gained from research, the actual practice I have been doing and observing media in real life have come together.

While I am happy with my final work, I am not sure it truly shows my affordance or the ideas of not living in the moment and distancing yourself from reality. I outlined my difficulty in blog posts on Iteration #2 and Final Work.

Blog Posts (all should be categorised as PIM):

Project 2: 

Sketch 1/Sketch 2/Sketch 3/Reflection(linked above)

Project 3

Sketch 1/Sketch 2/Sketch 3/Sketch 4/Sketch 5/Sketch 6/Sketch 7/Sketch 8

Project 4

Iteration #1/Iteration #2/Final Work


Using a Post-Industrial Approach towards Filmmaking (linked above)/Studio Prompt (linked above)/Generation Like (linked above)/Response to Personal Portable Pedestrian: Lessons from Japanese Mobile Phone Use/Tangerine(linked above)

Studio Responses:

Weeks 1-3 (No Studio)/Week 4(linked above)/Week 5/Week 6 (break)/Week 7/Week 8/Week 9 (Studio Canceled)/Week 10/Week 11

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Final Work

My final work is a culmination of my previous 2 Iterations and the feedback I received. I am happy with the final work overall but I would have liked to get additional footage to add to the ideas of not living in the moment and distancing yourself from reality. My work is focused on a protest at Federation Square supporting Aboriginal rights. In an ideal world, I would attend another protest of the same sort to get additional sound footage to help add context to the video. I would have also liked to get more footage of people on their phones in a different situation. This proved quite difficult. Recording at the protest was easy since nearly everyone had their phone out. But outside of the protest, filming people drew too much attention to myself despite the phone’s affordance of portability. I felt that getting people to consent to the filming would cause me to lose the authenticity of the project.

I feel people filming the protest is a great example of people distancing themselves from reality as they are focusing on filming and how it will look on Instagram rather than the issue being protested. People filmed the protest to put on social media in order to show others they are the type of people that participants protests but in reality they are just the type of people who film them and not actually engage in the issues. Rather than living in the moment, they are using their phone record the moment. They were also distancing themselves from reality since they were more focused on filming than facing the reality of the issues raised at the protest.

If given more time, and an opportunity to film at a similar event, I believe I could improve my final work. Due to the restraints of the project, I chose to leave out the sound that gives context to the images and focus on more general ideas about the topic shown through quotes throughout the work. I used the quotes that were in the original voiceover as quotes to read.

Although this is my “final work” I would still consider it a work in progress. Here is a link to my report.

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/129960520″>Through the Lens {Final}</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/courtneycoulter”>Courtney Coulter</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

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Response to PIM Lecture Week 11 {Reflection of Iteration 2}

*Due to work commitments, I was unable to get to class.*

I hadn’t rendered and uploaded my second iteration to Vimeo (I was going to play from Premiere in class) so I was unable to send to anyone for feedback but I did show it (as well as my first iteration) to a few  of my colleagues at work. Since I work at a design studio and nearly everyone there is more artistic than me, I figured they would be a good group to get feedback from.

Their feedback was mixed. Some liked the use of the quote in place of the voiceover, while some preferred the voiceover to the quote. All agreed that the sound I added to the beginning was distracting and didn’t flow well with the rest of the work. They suggested I remove the sound and incorporate more quotes or remove the quotes and re-record the voiceover. All of these ideas were similar to what I had been thinking for the final piece.

I think the sound I added would have worked better if I had additional sound from that time. The other sound I had was surprisingly quiet and just didn’t sound like much of anything.

Since starting my Graduate Diploma I have realised that 1. sound is way more important to media than I thought, and 2. I do not have a good ear for sound. This does not help me when trying to record sound and choose background music.

Overall, I feel like I have a good direction to go into now for the final work. I haven’t quite decided which direction I will take but it’s nice to have a couple options.

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Iteration #2

For this iteration, I changed a few aspects of the video but for the most part it remains the same. I changed the text in the title and closing as I felt the original didn’t quite look right. Per Seth’s feedback, I removed the voiceover and added a quote at the beginning so viewers can relate the quote to what they are seeing. Seth also suggested I add more footage showing people not living in the moment. I attempted to film this on multiple occasions and was not able to get any worthwhile footage. While the mobile phone afford portability, it is not invisible and trying to film people without them noticing proved very difficult. I thought I would lose authenticity if I spoke to people before and made them aware of what I was doing. To film people not living in the moment, you need to film them in a situation that is usually private. People using their phones walking down Swanston does not show not living in the moment, but filming someone using their phone while at dinner with their friends does. Getting this type of footage was not possible for me and therefore I did not add any to this iteration.

I also added some sound from when I originally filmed. In theory, it was supposed to bring context to the video footage but I am not convinced it gets across what I had intended. I also changed the background music. I actually heard my original background music in a podcast and was a bit put off by it as the podcast and my work have no similarities. I decided it was best to change it. Overall, I can’t really decide how I feel about this iteration.

Iteration 2 from Courtney Coulter on Vimeo.

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Response to PIM Lecture Week 10 {Reflection of Iteration 1}

After presenting my first iteration, I feel more confused than going into it. I was expecting feedback that would help clarify the direction I was going, but I felt the feedback made me question my direction even more. The feedback from my peers and tutor were different regarding the voiceover and the repetition of the footage. My peers liked the voiceover but thought it needed to be rerecorded (which I agree/always planned on doing) while my tutor thought the voiceover was too much and that a quote at the beginning would suit better. He also suggested adding additional footage while my peers thought the footage I had was enough. I personally like the voiceover and I think I will record it to improve the quality. I also plan to add shoot more footage and see what I get. My plan for the next iteration is to do 2 videos, one with a voiceover and one without and see what kind of feedback I receive in week 11. I received a preliminary mark of a high C or low D which I was content with for the most part. When comparing my iteration to others, I realised that those who received higher marks were told that their iteration was very focused. Which is not something that was included in my feedback. I thought that my iteration was focused but perhaps not focused enough. I am still struggling with how to get what’s in my head into video form, but I think this iteration is much improved from my sketches.

My plan for the next iteration is to narrow my focus and experiment with the feedback given this week. I also will write a rough draft of my Portfolio Essay and Report in order to receive feedback before the final assignment is due.

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Iteration #1

This iteration is based off of one of my sketches for Project Three. I felt it was my most promising sketch even if it wasn’t the of the most technical quality. I feel like I was able get the footage I was lacking in Project Three for this iteration. This iteration was filmed entirely in Fed Square at a protest against the closure of remote indigenous communities. I thought it would a good place to catch people making videos on their phone rather than being actually involved with what was going on. I was able to get a lot of useable footage and used about half of what I shot.

I struggled with the idea of adding more footage and really wasn’t sure if this one even could carry the entire short film. As I put it together on Premiere, I was happy with how it turned out and felt like I didn’t need additional footage but I am open to feedback from my peers. I feel like the piece is short enough that it doesn’t get too repetitive  but I am interested to see if others find it repetitive.

I also struggled with the idea of the voiceover. After seeing a final film from a student from last year, I was inspired to add a voiceover. After doing all the research I have done, I had some passages in my head that I wanted to use. I am happy with the narrative that the story has. I am still unsure of whether it violates copyright. I have read many articles and laws and I think that I am not breaching anything until I would want to submit to  MINA. In this case, I would have to ask for permission from the authors. I am hoping to get some clarity in the tute as I am 100 confident that I am not violating copyright. I am currently trying to come up with a back-up plan incase I need to go a different direction.

Overall, I am happy with this iteration and feel like it’s a big step up from the sketch/ideas it was based on. Assuming I can keep the voiceover, I am planning on just fine tuning some timing and ensuring I have the correct attribution at the end of the film. If it turns out I need to remove the voiceover, I will probably try to write something on my own.

Iteration #2 from Courtney Coulter on Vimeo.

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Response to Tangerine trailer

I’m not sure how I came upon this trailer but it sure was cool to see a feature film (or at least the trailer of one) that was filmed on a mobile phone. After viewing the trailer, I did a bit more research into it. It was filmed using an $8 app that gave them control over the focus, aperture, and color temperature and they also used a “steadicam” as they noted because they mobile (iPhone 5) is so light, it doesn’t matter how steady your hand is, it will shake. They also attached a lens which “made it look like it belonged on a big screen.”

One thing that stuck out with me was something one of the filmmakers said,

“You still need to know how editing works. You still need to know how sound works. You still need to know how a camera works,” he says. “You can’t just go out and shoot.”

Filmmaking is still filmmaking, regardless of the camera used. I don’t think the intention of this film was for it to look like it was filmed on a mobile phone, but the filmmakers also didn’t try to pass it off as a film made traditionally.

I think more and more films will be made on the mobile but if you are adding the lens and other equipment, is it really a mobile film or something in between?

This idea of needing a background in filmmaking to make mobile movies correlated with the ideas brought up in Simons J. ‘Pockets in the Screen-space: movies on the move’. The paper brings up the issue of mobile phones not having the same quality of traditional filmmaking cameras. And because of the limitations, mobile filmmakers must shoot accordingly and suggested that close-up and medium shots are nearly mandatory for mobile shooting. I watched the  Tangerine trailer again and thought that Simons’ statement was pretty accurate.

I am very interested in seeing Tangerine in full form, on the big screen but also on my mobile.

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Response to PIM Lecture Week 8 {Reflection of Project 3}

At the end of Project 3, I felt very unsure of my sketches and discouraged after the presentation. I wasn’t happy with the technical quality behind a few of the sketches but I was happy with the ideas. Unfortunately, my best idea came from my worst sketch (technically) and my idea was only really developed through doing the sketch. Once the idea was developed, I did not have enough time to redo the sketch. I was hoping that it would be understood that the sketch was truly a rough idea. I really took to heart Buxton’s list of 11 attributes in regards to sketching but my sketches still seem much rough than my classmates. I was trying not to overthink it and just film and develop the ideas from the process as Buxton suggested,  but I am not sure if this was the route my classmates took.  Although happy with the ideas, I wasn’t sure that my ideas really came across. I have always struggled with getting my ideas from my head into physical form. I have tried drawing, ceramics, photography, violin, singing, and now film trying to figure out how I best express myself creatively and yet again, I feel like I am failing to do so. I put a lot of effort into my ideas and sketches and I am not sure that it shows. This type of work is particularly challenging for me but I do feel as though my ability to think this way is improving. I know my ideas have developed and I have a clear vision of what I want to make but I am doubting my ability to actually produce what is in my head. I’ve actually spoken to people not involved in this course about this project and I am able to articulate my vision to them and they really like the idea, it’s just getting the words into video form that I am having the issue with.

On Friday after class, I went to the rally in Fed Square. I got a lot of good footage of people filming the rally on their mobile devices. I am now in the process of deciding what kind of footage to add to it or if it can stand on it’s own. I am also interested in the idea of doing a voiceover but I am unsure of the legality when doing so.

Due to work commitments, I am unsure that I will be able to get a 1st iteration done in time for class, but I will have more time next week to work on it. For now, the ideas continue to percolate.

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{Post Industrial Media} Project 3–Sketch 8

This video was made only on the mobile. I was again inspired by the original video I saw in the intensive that had over 3000 photos in the video. This sketch is a very very small version of that. I was trying to get away from the idea that the only memories phones afforded us were memories of a person or a event. I was inspired when I was with my boyfriend and he started taking pictures of where he had parked. I asked him what he was doing and he said he was taking the photos because I knew he wouldn’t remember where he parked. I realised I do this as well. My mobile cameraroll is filled with screenshots of recipes I want to make, photos of books I want to read and I even have my pin # for a credit card hidden in a photo so I can remember. My phone is always with me and therefore the best way for me to hold on things I want to remember. I used to make to do lists and I have now switched to doing them on an app on my mobile because I don’t even remember the to-list scribbled on paper is even in my bag. I imagine the long version of the sketch to be just a massive collection of pictures of all the things people take pictures of to remember. This sketch is very short, but the idea is big. I used Flipagram again just because it is easy to use.

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{Post Industrial Media} Project 3–Sketch 7

This sketch was filmed using the short form video service Lightt. I wanted to step away from the idea that all the affordances of memory stemmed from access to apps/video/photos. This sketch shows how the mobile can be used to help access memories of songs using Siri. My boyfriend “acted” in this sketch for me so I could film. I used royalty free music called Cattle Drive from purpleplanetmusic.com. This sketch shows how you can ask Siri questions about things you don’t remember like the name of songs or anything really. The inspiration from this video came from researching different types of memory. Remembering the name of a song is an example implicit memory. With the technology of mobile phones and the accessibility of Siri, allow people to rely on them and not rely on their memory. My boyfriend could have taken some time to try and remember the name of the song, but the affordance of the mobile phone made it easier for him to just ask Siri rather than taking the time to really think. Though this process, I’m thinking I should have chosen the affordance of laziness as it seems mobile phone have just made us mentally lazy.

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