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Tom Varney EGRD6001 Research Development Positioning

Final Major Project Proposal Throughout time the technological innovations have changed the general nature of audiences and cultural consumptions. Beyond demographic and social preferences in relation to popular culture, there exists a complex pattern of modes of consumption, including buying physical goods, watching television and spending hours scrolling through the Internet. The emerging information age is seeing a reorganisation of everyday life; people are integrating both old and new technologies into their lives in a more complex ways, and within an increasingly cluttered environment, this means being an audience is even more complicated. The rise of interactive media has added new dimensions to social spaces, aiding in the information and continual maintenance of a digital presence. At the same time, digital technology raises questions about the different consumption experiences and practices involved when the digital ‘object’ lacks materiality. There are some negative traits arising out of the digital age world we live in: issues of authenticity, or originality; the idea of everything becoming commercialised, mundane and over produced; the issue of fandom and ‘hit’ parade followers, make believers and fashion followers; in such a confused and saturated markets, over promoted ‘pop’ culture often smothers and over shadows real unique talent. Nevertheless, prior to this, print was central for the transmission and dissemination of information, with circulations of newspapers, print runs, magazines and advertising predominately run by big industries and the high elite. During this time, the most perceivable of way making a mark was to climb the career ladder or have some sizable investment in order to start your own business. Today however, we have seen: a loss of a generation gap

between the ages; a breakdown between the ‘high’ elite and ‘low’ cultures; technological has given power to the people and allowed them to distance themselves from the control of the industry, providing freedom to experiment with new ideas and be creative; it has allowed a mixing of styles and cultures and helped eliminate prejudice by making people more aware of each other’s cultures; it defines who we are, it helps us get through the day and ultimately reflects the people we are today. In terms of my Final Major Project, and ultimately my departure from university, I am increasingly aware of the world we live in today and where it might be heading. Only within the next decade will we have wide spread use of bendable paper-thin screens and potentially contactless charging devices. Screens and digital interactive information is only going to continue to escalate in demand and I believe it would be wise to forward think a little and try and tap into, a potentially huge market. For me, as creative, I believe it is very important to remain playful and experimental, have a broad understanding of multiple areas, but also to focus a lot of my attention towards time based media: motions graphics, film, and sound. Having being predominately process driven this term; testing technical equipment, trialling different film techniques and modes and forms of editing, I propose that my Final Major Project final outcome will be a time-based piece, with a heavy focus on music technology and social spaces. However this shall¬¬ be housed under one platform in collaboration with Luke Edom and Ed Piel, together with their body of work. We tried a few different models or ways of working collaboratively this term, but found that the greatest flow of ideas occurred just through healthy debate and discussions, that in turn inspired creative outcomes, such as “Absent-Minded”. We all had different roles in terms of production, but the content grew through conversation.

Having been away from the university environment for a long time, the first brief of this term provided the perfect opportunity to indulge in the activities that I enjoy partaking in, whilst reflecting on the work I have created over the last few years. Due to the fact that we had an allocated time of five minutes to present ourselves, our work and show our technical abilities, I decided that the most efficient and effective way of doing this was to make a film. A showreel of all of the best projects I have been involved in. The ones that I feel have been most successful and the ones that I am most proud of. After all this was our chance to showcase our work not only to others, but also to ourselves,a way of laying down strong foundations defining our own practice. From what I have been able to judge about myself is that I strive to foresee things right through to the end outcome. If there is something that I get stimulated by, or feel passionate about, I trust in myself to stay focused and see it through to completion. In this instance, because the brief was so personal, in the sense it was based on who were are and what we do, there was that added pressure of self pride - there was no room for showing something I wasn’t happy with. Feeling itchy to create something new, alongside showing something old or on-going, I decided to produce a soundtrack and document the process of recording the instruments and playing around with some interactive visuals that I had created before the summer. In a way wanted to show Xerum quo optae nis vereiunt int ea Iaut quisimagnis non ra vit vent, et vendita speriat laborum et landior estoresomething that revealed my interests pelles et rem velesse ctiusam litatas aut eatateniame qui and passions outside of the university non experis eturecab incimil modi totate seque nia quunenvironment. The kinds areas that I tur eictaqu iandemp orerunto quatur sequeof laut exeruntiat officae. Ellatur,will comnihi dolore resequos des at mosttionsed likely quos carry on once I leave alic tem dus venecea doluptio et aditemp oribus utem quia the end the year. nes re re, consendunt et of apidelliquo mi, quo beratium fuga. Molorro to entiur, quis quia dendebitatem cusaperrum faci omnimpos parum, simusda pa nam ea conem is sun-

My inspiration for this idea came to me purely by accident when playing around with some bits of paper that I had cut up to used a blocks of white shapes. Having knocking them on to the floor, it occurred to me that their movements where completely unpredictable and organic, something I couldn’t recreate digitally using key-frame animation. I realised that if these bits of paper could represent letter forms, I could reverse their action in postproduction bringing them back to there original position.

This is a still frame taken from the final edit of my show reel. It shows the scene that I had set up in the attic of our shared student house, an area in which we use as a recording area, somewhere where we can generally by creative. As there are no windows it provided the perfect lighting conditions for my projection. One of the reasons for why I believe this outcome to the brief was successful, was because gave previous work another new use.

Throughout my life I have always had a passion for playing and recorded music. This is something that I been keen to fuse with my graphic visual work. Ideally finding the perfect balance of the two is something that I have been striving for and I often find myself writing my own soundtracks to pieces of moving image work I do. My aspirations for the future would be to work with other artists and be able to help provide both visual and audio design.

I remember receiving some rather positive feedback directly after my presentation. It was said that there was ‘ some interesting work there.. clearly a lot of stuff’ and that I had shown a whole range of areas in which I have focused my attention. For me this gave me reassurance that I was on the right track and that my show reel had portrayed the message that I wanted it to achieve. I believe that I have a very broad-based style, someone who always curious and inspired by a lot of everyday occurrences or ideas. It seems to me that my subject is my stimulus. I seem to get into the ideas of things and enjoy developing ideas, testing and experimenting with them to achieve something unexpected. I guess what it is, is the enjoyment of the process.

What I really wanted was music that lasted until you switched it off, lasting 8 hours or even forever… ...I got to that in the end

It always interests me how people get to where they are. When we were given the brief to research and to start thinking about where and how we were going to position ourselves in the industry I began to question how others had done it. What were their stories? What did they think was the main reason they got to where they wanted to be? Could there some be underling theme. Instead of looking at specific work an artist had produced or what company they worked for or even what companies are out there at the moment, I was more interested in there beliefs, there advice and wisdom. It always seems able to connect the dots backwards but never forwards in life. So what better way to look for advice than from someone who can look back, rather than looking forward trying to ‘position’ myself. The reoccurring theme throughout all my research seemed to be just wanting

- Brian Eno

something enough. It appeared that through all the artists I researched there was this idea of always staying curious and inspired, following your passions and keeping focus. As Paul Ardon said, “They become rich and powerful by wanting to become rich and powerful.” It seems that if you just do what it is that you want to do, you will one day find yourself doing exactly that, because you spent you life doing it. Reflecting back on this brief I now feel that although right I am not sure what I will be working on in a couple of years time, I feel reassured by the prospect that I if I just do the things that I get most inspired and stimulated by, that naturally I will find myself making a living out of what I enjoy, because I will become a master in my own field.

They become rich and powerful by wanting to be rich and - Paul Arden powerful.

Presentation feedback In terms of presentation execution, it wasn’t delivered to the best of my abilities and my communication could have been slower and clearer. This is something I shall be working on. However, it was said that my use of visual aids throughout worked really well, as in the use or no or hardly any images, just text, reflected my methods of research. I was research the artists approach and process of work. That is was I believe is the most important issues to explore. If you have right method and understanding of a process, you can apply that to any kind or work, both commercially and personally driven.

The Web lab is an interactive exhibition on at the Science museum, celebrating how the Internet has enabled collaborations across the world via the internet. The main focus for my visit was because I had heard they had a whole interactive orchestra being controlled both by people all over the world and the visitors there at the science museum. On the day I took some footage on my iPhone and returned to this footage later on to create this documentation.


The pure function of this test was to became familiar with the layout and mechanics of After Effects; creating new compositions and arranging layers, applying simple keyframes and effects, customizing the workspace and adjusting personal preferences



Can’t say that I am particularly excited by these excercise. It is very boring, simple and to be honest, is in no context what so ever so that it really has no point of being. However at this stage of the term I was heavily focused on the process and techniques that I

example. This possibly was an inspirational exercise for me because it made me think about creating spaces that otherwises would ot be possible for to make or recreate scences that would onlly be on possible to shoot on a set. Having limited space and money, this simple concept of looking through a window upon


may be using during my FMP and so set out to explore as many

Having experimented with physical kinetic

different ways of putting things to together. From this simple,

typography during the process of the first

almost ‘youtube’ tutorial excercise, came the foundation blocks

brief, I felt that I should learn basic text

of my understanding of how visual elements could be inserted

animation. Although the content of these test

into others. This became a major theme later on in the term and

are not asthetically pleasing, my reasoning

particularly towards the end.

for doing this exercises was on the rapidly

Throughout my creative practice I have often experimenting with stop frame/motion photography animation. A lot of my work

However, now looking back and reflectiong on my practice this term, I have now realised that it has provided me with a much wider appreciation of how cross media platforms can be used to incorporate many different aspects of work. In this exercise I animated using keyframes and learnt about parenting layers and the advantages this can have on time efficiency. Click on the image to p lay.


This exercised involved using a Photoshop file and worked with its importaed layer styles to apple track mattes and animate them to


Having carried a couple of exercises in simple animation using stock imagery, I got bored of them to be honest. Through the action of doing I knew then that this was something that I might possibly enjoy if I made my own artwork to animate, but ultimately I didnt get to excited about moving

create a ‘time-lapse’ effect from still images.

keyframes for hours. At

It brough about another way to animate

this point I knew I had

still images - bringing moving shadows for

to find something that would put what I had

involves the use of a camera and physical objects. This exercise

learnt into practice,

for me was a way to explore a territory I am not completely used

something that would

to but one that I felt getting a basic knowledge of how it work

get me engaged. At this

would be completely beneficial. This simple animation made up

point I carried on with

of stock imagery, simply changed the way I saw how objects

these exercises.

can function together, and co-exist with a mix of mediums. This increasing my understanding of how After Effects works.

another scene became a major theme in my work later on.

process involved using multiple layers and live motion video in a shape layer, and was the first time I began to appreciated the ‘pre-composed’ layer. - a composition within a composition. This is something that I will talk about later, but this simple method of building layers of compostions, made it possible to start building more complex animations and short movie clips.


In this exercise I explored the potential of the Roto Brush tool with Adobe After Effects. The knowledge of this tool proved useful later on when I was editing together “Absent Minded” as there was some scenes where green screening wasn’t adequate.


An animation workshop with Tony help me


to understand the parenting layers withing After Effects. In this exercise we broke down a still image a cut it up into layers which we then animated. This basic principle led me to explore animating “stick men” to sound.

Thinking about how I could sync animations to the BPM of music, I create this little experiment. Thinking in terms of fps and bpm I realised that if I created 2 key frames every second then that would match and play in sync with music that has 120 bpm. This simple idea could lead to creating an algorithm that would allow any animation to be played by in sync with any track or drum beat.

Exploring 2.5D space within After Effects.


A quick test animating a stick man I drew on paper. After learning about parenting layers and creating keyfram animations I decided to re-inforce what I learnt by doing another coupld of test so wouldn’t forget the process.

Animating Visuals to Sound A short clip testing the how objects can be animated according to how the peaks of an audio wave dip and rise. This animation is only reacting to the volume of the audio effectively, and so perhaps using Processing will be a more efficient avenue to explore animation objects to sound.

Thinking back to the kinetic typography I created for my show reel, I became curious to know if this same technique could be replicated with images, in this instance the human face. In my head I believed it could be quite an effective way of animating someone into a scene in a film, however the reality was that the printed paper had a completely different quality to the digital file and therefore the two didn’t blend well together. As well as this, it was very time consuming and therefore I will probably not be exploring this any further. Playful curiousity can be rewarded, however in the case, I think I hit a dead end.

Testing of Equipment Trialing technical equipment before using them proved useful. As we discovered, a still frame from a movie film doesn’t bare the same quality or exact size as a still photograph. We had planned to mask some stop frame animation together with moving image film, but discovered to do this we we had to use short movies to capture the stop motion frame, in order to have consistency throughout.

Break Down of Layers These are the simple masks of each layer used to enable all three seperate moving image files to shown in the space at once.

Putting Theory to Practice Still frame taken from the final export. Making use of two sides of the shot enabled to layers to be masked in Adobe After Effects creating the illusion that the two were filmed at the same time. This test led us to discover that it wasn’t just a simple case of divided the shot in two. There were all kinds of complications due to slight changes in light, moving shadows and slight movements of the camera caused when moving around the room to change the props. These failuers helped to prepare for the next film.

Playful experimentation with masking facial expressions over the top of others. I was exploring mixing emotions of the human face order to see how distorted they had to get for the body language to be no longer readable. A progression of the process and techniques I have been exploring with After Effects.

What do all the other versions of you get up to when you’re not around? Could it be that when you are not looking that your alter egos are at play causing havoc or bending reality. This film short explores the postproduction techniques I have been exploring and tries to visualise what all the other versions of ‘yourself’ could be getting up to in parrell universes.

This was a spontaneous conversation between Luke Edom, Ed Piel and myself. The topic of the conversation began as mere observation on camera culture within today’s society. This, some might say, was a key turning point in the way we had been previously working. Up until this moment, I had been very process driven and was creating work inspired by development and curiousity. At this point during the term, we began to question what we want to say about culture we all share, and if there was any shared opinion, or observation. This led smoothly into the second phase of the term in which I began to put what I had learnt into practice, in which I began to fuse the process driven work with some real conversational inspired content. It was at this moment that we all realised that we should capture more open debates at least once a week because helped keep a healthy discussion rolling.

“Absent-Minded� in the making. Above is the development of the title sequence created using Letraset letters and the pencil rubbings left behind. These were then scanned in and animated in photoshop.

Having been the one who spent the first half of the term experimenting within Adobe Effects, I took role of editor for Absent Minded. This was something that I really grasp well and have definitely felt an inprovement in both how to think conceptual about how each element/ layer can be adjusted and moved with a 2.5D enviroment. The film required a whole stack of compositions, all precomposed amongst one another, along with several tricky masking which involved animation with changing light conditions.

This is a snapshot of the 2.5D enviroment that I have grown to understand and appreciate. With this function we were able to create the transitions through into the mirror, something that we had tested before we shot the film. At first I would run into issues that I was unsure of what had caused them, however towards the end I was able to start trouble-shooting the problems myself.

Here we have a snap shot from Logic Pro Studio 9, the sound editing software that I use to produce music and to put sound to moving image work I create. I have been using this software for many years and this was the main reason, why something like SoundTrack Pro wasn’t used. Purely down to familiarity and preference. You can see here how many automated tracks there were inside this film.

Absent-Minded This film short explores the camera culture of today in which many of us reach for our cameras to help document our lives. In a way it has almost got to a put where we can no longer trust our own memories and feel the need to almost experience life through the camera. This film is a metaphor for how the camera cannot capture emotion and imagination like the human brain can and may not capture life how we remember or experienced them. Sometimes it’s best ust to enjoy the moment and not worry about where your camera is.

Evaluation Reflecting back over the last term, I would say that I am pleased with the progression that I have gone through. Starting with finding out a little more about myself in Brief, through to now, where I have spent the first half of the term really grasping the key foundations of how to work with After Effects, to having open, topical debates and conversations, through to collaborating together on a shared piece, something that I was then able to put my theory to the test. Through understand the process I was able to concieve, direct and edit the last film we made Abscent minded.

Videos Midi Animation Test #09 - Vivaldi, Violin Concerto No. 4, parts 1 and 3 - CES - Samsung’s Smart Window -

Books McGinness, R. (2002). Gas Book 09: Ryan McGinness. Japan: Masanori Omae. Pages 4,5

Is This the Most Amazing Time Lapse Video Yet? (Spoiler: It Is) - is-this-the-most-amazing-time-lapse-video-yet-spoiler-it-is/


Big Active. (2002). Gas Book 09: Big Active. Masanori Omae: Japan

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Plazim. (2003). 100 Habits of Graphic Designers: Insiders secrets on working smart and staying creative. Rockport Publishers, Inc.

Address Is Approximate -

Arden, P. (2003). It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be. Phaidon Press Limited. New York.

Boardwalk Empire VFX Breakdowns of Season 2 -

Rose, J. (1999). Producing Great Sound for Digital Sound. CMP Books.. Kansas.

Homemade Synthesizer - KITCHEN MUSIC by Stephen J Anderson -

Malcolm Garrett -

Change: The Happiest Stop Motion Video Ever -

Milton Glaser -

Seeing in circles -

Peter Saville -

2011 -

LondonTokyo. (1997). Graphic Beat: the soft mix vol.1 - a collaboration of music and graphics. P.I.E Books. Tokyo, Japan. Patmore, C. (2003). The Complete Animation Course - The Principles, Practice and Techniques of Successful Animation. Thames & Hudson, London. Duckworth, W. (2005). Virtual Music - How the Web Got Wired For Sound. Routledge. 2005. Hayward, P. (1999). Culture, Technology & Creativity - In the Late Twentieth Century. John Libbey & Company Ltd, London. Adobe Systems. (2005).Adobe After Effects CS5: Classroom in a Book - The Official Training Workbook from Abobe Systems. Adobe Systems Incorporated.

Good Books - Metamorphosis -

Weis, E (1985). Theory and Practice - Film Sound. Columbria University Press. New York.

Nick Zammuto - Real Beauty Turns -

Monaham, G. (2011). Seeing Sound - Sound Art, Performance and Music 1978-2001. University of Toronto, Scarborough.

Geometric Porn App Preview -

Gere, C. (2002). Digital Culture. Reaktion Books Ltd. London.

Asylum : Behind the Scene -

Bull, (2000). Materialising Culture: Sounding Out The City - Personal Stereos and he Management of Everyday Life. Berg. New York. Chion, M. (2009). Film, A Sound Art. Columbia University Press. New York.

BlackLight NudieCards (2011) - Ryan McGinness on Self-Promotion and the Future of the Gallery System -

Ryan Mcginness - Gregory Crewdson -

Paul Herrington - Big Active - Thomas Grünfeld - archives/2010/04/23/17670766.html

Research Development and Positioning  
Research Development and Positioning  

Final Year, Term 1 Portfiolio Submission