CANOPEE REVIEW

1. Crew:

Directed, written by Aaron Wilson. Camera (color), Stefan Duscio; editor, Cindy Clarkson; production designer, Tim Burgin; sound designers, Rodney Lowe, Nic Buchanan; associate producer, Royston Tan.

2. Storyline:

(Wartime, 1942) Singapore. An Australian fighter pilot shot down in combat awakens suspended in the treetops. As night devours day, he must navigate through dangerous jungle in search of sanctuary. Transcending language and culture, CANOPY is a cinematic tour de force exploring the collision of war, nature and its impact on humanity.

3. Review: During the last lecture at RMIT, Wilson has shared with our class his latest project Canopee and his process of making this movie. Wilson shared that he has a personal interest in his story, having grown up among veterans and assembled the plot from stories he heard.

He also adds that his own experience of living abroad in Singapore motivated his interest in creating a film that explored Australia’s connection with it’s neighbours. “At the time [of developing the film idea] I was talking to a lot of returned service people and there were a lot of stories that interconnected and stood out,” says Wilson.

Every bit their equal behind the scenes are sound designers Nic Buchanan and Rodney Lowe, who have created a rich, complex and terrifying soundscape in which nature and war comingle in cacophonous symphony. The film was photographed in a remarkable eight days by Stefan Duscio, whose affilitations with Andrew Lesnie (“The Lord of the Rings” trilogy) and Greig Fraser (“Zero Dark Thirty”) have influenced his serene tracking shots and striking angles.

Canopy spent seven years in production, including years of writing, and was made with a very low budget – something Wilson won’t easily forget, especially as he seeks further support. Crowd funding played an important part in bringing the film to fruition, “which is why we put every name in our credits,” he told the crowd. “We had a lot of support through crowdfunding, and we are very appreciative of its power.

For the film’s entire runtime audiences must settle with hand gestures, eye movements and close up shots of facial expressions to discern the thoughts and feelings of the protagonists. (Meld magazine, 2013). It will be interesting to see what projects he comes up with in the future.

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So Why Make Films In Australia?

The Great Gatsby is an unusual Australian film: distributed on almost 600 screens at home, it was also a mega-hit abroad. Tellingly, it is almost completely devoid of on-screen Australian content.

Here is my thought on the Guest presentation at RMIT, who is currently working as Manager at Film Victoria..

Australia Film

Australian film: Eye of the Storm, Sleeping Beauty, The Sapphires and Gatsby

Issue 1: Screen writer as a career?

The screenwriter is the writer of the script of a film. They create the dialogue, the characters and the story line of a movie script. The screenwriter is often the most essential person in film production because no movie can start without some form of a script.

You might think that your favorite actor is witty, savvy and smooth, but 90 percent of his charm comes from the laptop of some lady in Santa Monica. Screenwriters may not be household names, but they get paid well to do what they do, even though very few people are successful at it.

As most of us would think, screenwriting can begin as an individual project but at some point will become a collaborative effort where the writer interacts with a producer, director, editor, other writers, and actors. A writer of last year’s hit musical The Sapphires is among ten who have received development grants totalling $276,000 from Screen Australia.

***In this process, I discover that the script is not sacrosanct, that others involved in the project will want to have their say on what works and what doesn’t and that flexibility is essential if you are going to survive script meetings.

Issue 2: Australian films 

Major film studios are now operating in Australia and many major film and TV productions (read American) are taking place. But apart from a degree of employment increase amongst local technical workers and actors, ultimately this American influence is not good for the development of Australian films.

One of the issue comes with financing problem. That’s why people started making mini-series rate. I don’t think it’s got to do with audiences not wanting to watch Australian films. I think it’s tough for anyone, general public especially, to even know that a film has been released. And to understand how quickly it will pass in and out of the cinema as new films queue to get in.” ,  Lori Flekser, General manager of the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia.

 When we go up against Hollywood and try to make internationally-oriented films we lose and we lose because our production budgets aren’t big enough; we lose because we don’t have big enough actors to cast. The advertising/marketing budgets for U.S films are several times greater than any afforded to even the highest profile Australian films and, even the entire production budgets of Australian film.

Australia is an extremely small domestic market and, as such, cannot offer the same opportunities for filmmakers as the U.S or India for example. Producer David Elfick takes a similar tack, observing, “The quality of the film seems to have little to do with its success; like so much today, it’s about getting noticed.

Final thought:

Since 1918 Hollywood cinema has dominated the world, and even earlier, it has dominated the Australian marketplace. As a result of this hegemony, Australians, through cinematic exposure, have been raised with a U.S. belief system.

However, with the reemergence of the Australian film industry in the seventies, and the use of cinema by the Whitlam government to rid Australia of US and British influences, I believe national identity has slowly begun to be re-established for Australians.

Box office figures do not define a good film or a valuable contribution to Australian culture. Nor is it ever discussed in popular media, the many variables that influence box office takings that are not related to a film’s artistic value, nor its appeal.

There’s still a long way to go, but the industry seems as vibrant as ever and willing to take the challenge.

References:

The Guardian ( 2013), Why don’t we watch Australian films? , Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/culture/australia-culture-blog/2013/jul/18/australian-film-bigger-audiences

SBS ( 2013), Why are many Australian films a turn- off? Available at: http://www.sbs.com.au/movies/blog/2012/05/21/why-are-many-australian-films-turn

D. Groves ( 2012), Why many Australian film a turn- off?, SBS, Available at:  http://www.filmink.com.au/features/so-why-make-films-in-australia/

Film in Australia, http://australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/film-in-australia

Google, Duckduckgo or InstaGrok?

Most people don’t want 290 search engines, especially people who are internet beginners. Here I compare three popular engines : Google, Duckduckgo and Instagrok

1/ DuckDuckGo

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 12.15.50 am

DuckDuckGo is a relatively new search engine, and a wannabe competitor against Google. It’s more like bizarro-world Google. It looks similar, it acts similar — but in the end, it has totally different motives.

DuckDuckGo aims to offer up the simplicity and functionality of the big search engines, minus all the creepy tracking stuff. In my experience search results came just as fast on each though, DuckDuckGo did earn points for having a user interface that was completely dominated by just the anonymous search results.

There are many other great features, like the ability to see official websites before Wikipedia answers, the ability to search directly on YouTube, Facebook, Amazon, etc…

Overall, it is good for that instant answer, but delved into strange results, especially by prioritizing smaller or unknown sites over large, expansive ones.

2/InstaGrok

instaGrok is a type of search engine that finds educational content and retrieves it in multiple formats, including web pages, images, videos and even forums. It filters out non-educational content and profanity, uses crowd sourcing to rate the quality of each search result

Here’s an instaGrok search for ” Coffee Melbourne”. Without going into too much detail, instaGrok basically lets you punch in any search term (I’d recommend using a subject matter or item you’re learning about) and get a neatly formatted and interactive experience as search results.

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 12.24.46 am

The search results are shown in the concept map, and as you click on each circle, it opens up more results. The right side menu has key facts, websites, videos, images, quizzes, and concepts.

instaGrok, was almost completely useless in this search term, but if I was to be doing research on a new topic, for example, I would given segments to explore all kinds of terms related to the in-universe as well as the genre aspects of the term.

3/ Google 

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 12.39.10 am

Finally, Google gave me the list of coffee shops that are nearby my location and also the review. On the right, Google also had a small box, much like DuckDuckGo’s Instant Answer box, that gave me an overview of the location.

Google won us over with a revolutionary approach to Web search that made its predecessors seem archaic. It quickly toppled Yahoo as the coolest company on the planet based solely on its efficient and fast way of finding everyone else’s content.

Final Thought

Much like operating systems, in the end Search engines seem to come down to just a few factors. Do they find the things you want? Are they available wherever you need them? Can you trust them? In this case I’d add it also has something to do with how valuable your privacy is to you.

In the end of the day, I would still go for Google.It’s just available to anyone, anywhere, on nearly any device, at any time.

Why We Chose Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a global movement with over 50 countries participating, to encourage the distribution and sharing of creative work in the digital age. “Share, Remix, Reuse- Legally”.

Many images and photos found on the internet can be reused on your blog if they carry a creative commons license. In short, creative commons licenses protect the owner of the original licensed work without applying a full copyright, meaning others can use it (with possible restrictions).

This task by Media Practice ( RMIT) helps me to manage my blog better. This is partly making sure it is well-organised and clean of spam, but partly also legal. Working as free-lance journalist and photographer, it is eventually more important to me to understand this issue as to protect the originality of my work.

There is no need for a one-size-fits-all licence and it would actually be disastrous if there were. For this Blog, I chose Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Creative Commons License.

In brief, this license allows others to:

  • Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format
  • Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material

The license essentially allows others to share the posts that I make, and/or adapt it into any form or medium, provided they attribute the work to me and give me proper due credit. It does not allow commercial use of any of my posts, as I do not want anyone to make money off of my creative ideas without my expressed and explicit permission and/or involvement in the project.

Version 3.0 included a provision allowing a licensor to request that a licensee remove the attribution from an adaptation, if she did not want her name associated with it. Version 4.0 expands that provision to apply not only to adaptations but also to verbatim reproductions of a work.

Final Thought

Take the time to learn more about the specific licenses and then register one for your work (it’s free). I suggest selecting an attribution or attribution share-alike license if you’re interested in the widest exposure possible.

For instant, other publishers and individual photographers need to decide what works best for them. I think we should be clear as to the how’s and why’s of CC when they are looking to participate in the community.

Holding onto your copyright makes complete sense for the professional photography market. This move is our adaptation to the way we see the media landscape changing, where the use of our photographs under the CC license makes more sense then trying to keep them to ourselves ( Wired, 2011).

P/S: this article I found online is pretty great in discussing different issues around Creative Commons.

Check them out: http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2011-12/16/creatice-commons-chat-with-wiredcom

 

Want to be truly cool? Ignore fashion’s hot diktats

“There is nothing wrong with loving clothes, but mindlessly following trends isn’t making us stylish, it’s turning us into sheep”.

Well, the Melbourne Fashion Festival finished on Sunday and so those fashionistas in the know are now on the go, hunting down those key pieces that will identify their fashion currency and credibility. This article I found on Google Alerts by Wendy Squires (SMH.com.au) did catch my eyes. Here’s the screen shot of the mail I received from Google Alerts, under Fashion Category:

Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 8.33.00 pm

Today, fashion is accessible to anyone and everyone. Walk down any mall in any city in any country and you will see the same chain stores offering the same clothes. Literally hundreds of thousands of pieces of the same item are made and distributed globally, meaning the girl in Quebec is buying the same as the chick in Queensland.

Her point on fashion and personal attitude is quite true:

What I see is that this perennial requirement to update, to be fashionable, is actually a farce. By making us look current, it is just adding to us all looking the same“, Wendy said.

Incorporate trends in ways that work best for you! Not every fashion trend is going to be great for every girl.  Looking like you are trying too hard or over-styled is never good!

I was buying into the whole fashion shebang – until I realised this pursuit was painful and fruitless, making me only disenchanted, depressed and, well, destitute. Because the very nature of fashion is to constantly adapt and change. Which means want more, need more, buy more“, Wendy emphasised.

Perhaps the solution is to stop thinking about clothing as fashion and start thinking about it as we do food – read the tags, see where the material was sourced, where it was produced, and then contemplate how it got to the shelves here.

Stay-True-to-yourself-2

I realize that the most stylish women in the world are surprisingly consistent with their styles, whether that means keeping to basics or getting creative all the time. Be confident and do what you want when it comes to fashion because that’s an aspect in your life where you can generally do whatever you want and express yourself that way.

Again, always keep your originality, choose trends that you like and find ways to make them work for you own personal style.

(Google Alerts on 24/3)- Find the link here: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/want-to-be-truly-cool-ignore-fashions-hot-diktats-20140323-35bo7.html

 

Video

Digital Drawing – Recent Issues

In Dr Jenny Weight’s lecture, she expresses the basics of 2D drawing and the difference between Bitmap and Vector. I have learnt about the differences between Raster ( Bitmap) and Vector and the use of Photo Editing Softwares.

1/Raster vs Vector:

  • Raster images are made of pixels. A pixel is a single point or the smallest single component in a display device. Examples are gif or jpeg file.
  • Vector images on the other hand, are mathematical calculations from one point to another that form geometrical shapes. Examples are; eps file or Adobe illustrator file.

raster_vs_vector_2

Raster vs Vector. Photo: Vector-conversions.com

How to determine what size your raster image must be, for good quality printing:

  • Multiply the resolution required by the area to be printed. Examples:
  • If a printer requires a minimum of 300 dpi and you want to print an image in an area that is 5 inches wide, multiply 300 pixels x 5 inches (300 x 5 = 1500). Your image must be at least 1500 pixels wide.
  • If a printer requires a minimum of 240 dpi and you want to print an image in an area that is 12 inches wide, multiply 240 pixels x 12 inches (240 x 12 = 2880). Your image must be at least 2880 pixels wide.

2/ In Use:

  • Most companies create all of their logos and insignia as vector images. These files are saved and are used as the basis for raster copies that get used in print and web publishing. Keeping a nice library of vector images can save you time because of the ability to resize on the fly.

High-resolution, high-quality clip art is often developed and sold as vector images as well. You will get more flexibility and more for your money when you buy vector-based clip art rather than high-DPI images. Type and fonts are also created as vector images, which allows you to change the size while maintaining quality

  • Almost all of the images you find on websites are raster images, even those that may have originally been created with paths. Raster images are typically acceptable for digital publication but may not work well in printed projects. Often these files are saved as low resolutions and are not suitable for print reproduction.

In printed mediums — such as books, magazines and newspapers — raster images are often used to reproduce photographs.

**I think Compatibility is always a concern when you are working with different file types, but when it comes to graphics and images the type of computer graphic format you use is essential to how the image renders.

Advanced blogging ( HTML): Pharrell Williams Teams Up With Adidas

The demise of Google Reader caused a bit of a hoo-ha last year, with many news addicts left to search out another RSS reader to house their numerous feeds. 

This task mainly focuses on how to improve the layout of more complex blog posts by using HTML markup. I went with The Old Reader for RSS feeds Subscription. 

The latest collaboration between adidas Originals and Pharrell Williams is very exiting to me. They are planning to create an eco-friendly apparel and sneaker line. Here is the screenshot from my The Old Reader account:

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 12.47.49 pm

The Grammy Award winning artist, producer, singer and etc has just now added yet another accolade to his ever increasing list of HOW DOES HE DO IT!?

To me, Williams is no stranger to fashion, but he has always dabbled in the industry in his own way – an attitude that tallies with his work in music, really. While images of the Adidas collection are yet to be revealed, I’d bet they’re a bit more grownup. In his statement, Williams referenced Adidas classics such as Stan Smiths and the three-stripe tracksuit.

Adidas is giving me a great opportunity to develop products which I love and will also be using Bionic Yarn and is more of a partnership than a collaboration as we look to work together for the next few years,” he said.

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 12.55.55 pm

Adidas is clearly making a play to become the top dog in the sportswear-meets-streetwear market – wrestling the crown from its arch rival Nike, which is still the bestselling sportswear brand.

With so much focus on Pharrell’s latest endeavors and fashion statements ( the infamous Grammys hat anyone?), we almost forgot that he’s got his own line of clothes, Billionaire Boys Club, and just dropped an album, “GIRL.” But if you ask him, he’s got everything under control.

This year has already been a busy one for Williams, and I am excited to see what else he becomes involved with later on. Williams is a pop-culture icon that never fails to inspire, not just through his musical talent and craft, but through his many other interests. I personally think he is the perfect fit for the multifaceted company that is Adidas.

Congratulations to him on the new deal with Adidas Originals. I’m sure feeling happy is an understatement!