Green Screen Workshop

In our Green Screen workshop we were taught the basics of how green screen works, and the use of Premiere Pro in order to change the backgrounds. The backgrounds can also be changed through a live feed, like we were using in the session.

Green screens actually used to be blue, but it was found that green is better for technical reasons and the fact that people often don’t wear that kind of green, nor there are many people with green eyes. It has been found, however, that blonde hair and a green background can be a little bit awkward as the blonde can pick up some green. To light it, you can for example use 4 lights at the front, 2 at the side and one at the back. Lighting like this makes people pop out a bit more with depth.

The technology behind the green (or blue) is chromakey. You can substitute this colour for a background, nothing (which appears as black), or to white out a room.

There are some quick tips and tricks that we also found out during this session including not to stand too close the the screen as you will pick up a green tinge. The trick is to light the wall, put the person the same distance as their height away from the wall and then light them too. If you light the two different spots then there’s no green spill.

This is also helped by the material used as it is a high reflectivity and a high saturation material or paint. A polyester material is also better than cotton  as this doesn’t crinkle or crease. This is useful when trying to make the background as tight as possible, and this is normally done using weights (or a filled water container). If it is a cloudless day you can even use the sky as your background – as long this is even lighting.

With live chromakey, the green screen needs to fill the whole image. In post production, you just need enough green around the person and then you can fill everything else in green. Wen filming someone in a black room, you light the person and not the room in order for them to pop out. Again, you can alter this in post production.

Other tips and tricks that we learned also included the infinity curve. This is where the fabric curves before it hits the floor, meaning there aren’t as many lighting issues with the LED soft flood lights. With photographs as well, it is better to put the backgrounds slightly out of focus because if it is in focus all the way, it looks fake.

Overall, we had lots of fun and I really enjoyed learning about the technology behind green screen. I am unsure as to how I may use it in my projects, however I feel as though it could be a possibility.

Adobe Illustrator and InDesign Workshop

Adobe Illustrator and InDesign were easier to learn compared to the earlier Adobe After Effects Workshop. I have previously used InDesign, in my Year 10 work experience at Hyland Edgar Driver Landscape Architects, and it is used for multi-page documents. For single page documents, Illustrator is used. [The images used in this post are not mine.]

Illustrator

As always, we need to make sure we start in a size that we intend to work in. Each time we create anything on Illustrator, it is an individual object. Unlike on many Microsoft Office software, on Illustrator you are able to bleed the project that you are working on, which makes it go all the way to the edge of the paper. You can also make your paper bigger than your project and cut it down afterwards.

Once you have created a shape, you can type of it by selecting the typing tool and selecting the path that you wish to type. This creates a worded outline. On Illustrator, it is all very simple tools, however it is just playing with it all in order to gain the best result. You can also create your own patterns  with a shape previously created. On Illustrator [and InDesign], the different layers means that you can print off different versions without having to print off a completely new project.

When saving, always keep the Illustrator file, but you can also save it as a PDF, JPEG or TIFF file format.

InDesign

Again, we need the file size to be the required document size. We can always add more, or take away pages while editing. If you’re putting a photo in the centre of the page on all pages, then you can make a master page and put guides in. You can put this master page on all pages, or specify which pages you want it on. To add the guides, you drag from the rulers at the top or on the left hand side of the screen.

The information palette on screen tells you how big your object is, and from here you can resize it to the appropriate size. To resize the image, however, you have to transform it numerically. If you drag the sizes in, you simply cut the image.

If you want to continue the text on through several text boxes, click on the red cross that is on the full text box. This links this text box to the next text box, showing the rest of the text. Through InDesign, you are also able to add Illustrator images.

For a final print view go through view then display and hit high quality. The programme saves memory by not having to calculate the display, but this does not affect the print quality. To save, export for PDF, but always save it as an InDesign document for later editing.

Adobe After Effects Workshop

After Effects (AE) is simply Photoshop for video. It can be more time consuming and clunky in terms of speed, especially when compared to Premiere, and so some projects are easier on Premiere Pro. This blog post will take you through some of the simple things that we learned in the After Effects Workshop, as part of Week 6 activities. I am personally unsure as to what I may use AE for, however I enjoyed learning about it in this session, especially for when I may need something else to edit video rather than Premiere.

The menu bar, such as on all Adobe software, is the same. We can set our preferences under the programme name [on Mac]. On AE, the composition is about the timelines, which is where we find the place to edit at the bottom. The composition needs to be set up for what you want from the beginning. If you are unsure, then it is easier to scale down but much harder to scale up.

Composition – New Composition – 1920 x 1080 for HD composition and set it to square pixels (730 x 576 with rectangular pixels for old standard definition TV’s) – PAL is 25 frames per second – in composition you can set how long we want the video to be.

The different footage clips themselves comes up as different colours in the timeline. They also come up on different lines, as each one can be individually and specially edited. To trim, it is the same as Premiere, but we cannot divide a clip into two separate sections. To do this, we have to have two different versions of the clips on different lines/layers.

To alter the clip, open the triangle for the layer and you can alter all of this here. It is all done through keyframing: give different value at one point and another value at another point e.g. slowly zoom towards the camera. Press the timer by scale, lighting it up making sure AE understands there will be a difference in value over time. This is how you animate things in after effects. If you want smooth transitions through this, you will need less keyframes. The more there are, the bumpier the transitions will be. You can add and copy a key frame to make a pause in the middle (and this applies to everything). The keyframe navigation tool will pin it to the next keyframe. It is ALL about keyframes! To fade in or out you have to use the opacity tool, rather than the pen tool like in Premiere.

When isolating parts go: layer – mask – new mask – use pen tool to add a whole bunch of points and move them to make a specific shape. The mask path is the shape of the mask. You would have to do this frame by frame to change it. Green screen can also be done this way, but it can also be used in Premiere. To edit green screen, go through effects and to keying.

Simple controls including frame forward and frame backward are page up and page down. To trim at a certain point, use the alt button and left bracket at the same time. Just to note: anything that happens at the same time on the different layers, can be seen at the same time. Also, everything that you edit on AE you can change over time with keyframes (it is still about keyframes)

Colour changes can be complicated if you want to change the whole piece. The simplest way of doing so is to nest – put a composition inside a composition (e.g. put composition 1 into composition 2). This is where you can then add effects and make colour changes to the video as a whole.

To do simple 3D animation, the z axis can be rotated, treating the flat layer as a 3D layer. To spin this over time, create a keyframe. You can also work with shapes, including several on one layer. To work with shapes individually, you must make a new shape layer.

Some things that we very briefly went over include; camera (where you can render from a cameras point of view from somewhere in the room looking at the clip), lights (it’s like turning a spotlight on it and you can achieve a night time effect with this. Can also do things like lens flare and control how big it is, where the centre it and how bright it is) and animation (e.g. slowing the zoom – under the keyframes you can do easy ease/ease in/ease out)

Unfortunately, the ore you ask the programme to do, the more memory it will take up. You can then reduce the number of pixels that you work with, which will not effect the pixels for encoding. AE also has a strange saving system, so it is just best to save as often as possible. To preview the work to determine how it will turn out, preview on the right hand side of the screen.

And finally, to export your final video: Composition – add to render queue – get another tab at the bottom which means that you can have a whole list of them to do all together – render settings [test for quality you can bring the quality down]. Under the output module you always use QuickTime – video codex use (font use animation) H.264. Limit Bitrate Settings to 30,000kps for under 4-5 minutes. Audio codec = AAC. Before hitting render, save it first!!

For more guides, the Adobe website has lots of help, and there are plenty of tutorials online. If you’re still confused, find a master of Adobe software!

Above is the short video that we created using found footage (credits to Rachel Glover for the clips).

 

Careers Workshop Day

During Week 6 in our second year, we have a compulsory careers day in order to show us what careers we can go into, the routes we can take to get there and that it is also normal to not know what we want to do in the future, after our degree [which is two years away]. This time, however, comes quickly.

During this day, we had two talks from previous students of Reading University, to show these various routes that we can go down, and the confusion that they had when they were in our position.

Laura Prime

Laura Prime went on from her BA into postgraduate courses, and into curation. There was a lot of research and applying to other courses, but this is just where life led her. Prime mentioned that the Masters has helped her to grow both academically and with her practice. Through the MA she was able to curate projects such as a masterclass retreat. During this a group of people were invited to participate in multiverses, philosophy talks, walks, and eating as a group.

Prime was then asked to showcase an LGBTQ+ archive exhibition, which travelled to several locations. Aside from this, she was also invited to curate a double page spread in a magazine along with other former Reading students. Here, she given several artists of whom she could look at, and then finally look at one in order to create a piece for an exhibition.

From this, Prime went on to work with sound, along with other artists. ‘Sound Field’ was something that she had never worked on before, especially in collaboration with others. For this, a catalogue was also produced, in which Prime was able to create an extract for, and also run a panel. Prime was also invited to talk about her dissertation and sound research to a room full of scientists.

Through all the networking, Prime was able to select artists for her own exhibition in the space that they gave her in the MA course. She was able to pick UK and Austrian artists such as Joey Holder and Paul Purgas [sound art] for the exhibition ‘Only Human’. Within this, she also picked out an author and a specific book which she helped write – he then read this in the forest as a video piece for the exhibition.

Life had a big turn around after this and Prime moved back home. Before, she had never thought about teaching, but went into her old middle school, and ended up loving the work. She is currently doing her PGCE at Reading University, where she has met people from various backgrounds. Through working in schools, she has been able to bring in new projects, including looking at artists such as Errow and creating a piece that had half of your face and half a face of a fictional character or celebrity.

Prime has also worked with Sue Mundy, a local ceramic artist, and run several after school clubs and community art classes. Through all of these expereinces, she has learned lots of new art skills including heat transfers, batik, textiles and lino printing, much of which she had never done before. Prime also helped out at the Tate Modern with the Tate Exchange this year.

Emily

Emily introduced herself with the work from her degree show, in which she collaborated with Emily Pope to look at feminism and the backlash of the internal dialogue in young women. Straight after her degree, Emily worked as a visual stylist in London, putting installed displayed together and putting together window curation. She soon found that this wasn’t her thing and moved back home to work in Plymouth School of Art as Student Support. This move helped Emily decide which route she wished to go down.

She then began initial courses in counselling studies and began volunteering in this area. A Masters in Art Psychotherapy is where this led her, but after one term she admitted that she did not particularly enjoy this. This was due to the fact that she wasn’t training in the way that she wanted to, in order to become a counsellor. This led her back to counselling at Reading College, but the eventual goal is to move this back to Devon and put her theory into practice.

The key skills that Emily feels that she has developed, especially through her degree are; time management, organisation, self-motivation and adaptability. These skills have helped throughout the experiences after university. In Plymouth, she found that everyone approaches artwork and engages with art making that benefits the person going through their difficulties and issues. This highlighted Emily’s passion about creative approaches in helping people.

Emily also found that volunteering engagements in primary schools, community projects and through working with adolescents and adults with complex needs have enabled Emily to grow her necessary skills. As well as these, she has attended free lectures on mental health and art. She also found that the MA allowed her to engage with materials, not being too constrained or confined, as it is about living the work and feeling it, not analysing it. This also opened her up to a variety of approaches in creative therapy including drawing with your eyes closed and touching your face.

Emily has decided not to specialise in art therapy, but it is something that she would bring into her therapies.

 

Letterpress Workshop

The letterpress workshop was held in our Typography and Graphics department, around the corner from the art department. We were able to see the original design of a letterpress, including a copy of the script that Gutenberg used to produce 400 bibles over a few years – this was an impressive feat considering it would take that long for scribes to produce one bible. The letterpress process stayed the same, however it switched to a more mechanical iron casting. This allowed a higher level of production, and as technology improved, more and more books were printed in the same amount of time.

We were also allowed to play around with three letterpresses and primary colour inks. We used the iron cast press and roller presses in order to create different prints. I was working on the iron press and because we didn’t have to fix anything, we could make patterns with the letters. Our theme was fireworks, which gave me the idea of making the work ‘firework’ look like a firework! The three groups who were working with the three colours and we shared the prints around to ensure that we got some really different designs.

I really enjoyed learning about the history of letterpressing and how we are able to accidentally mix the colours when layering the presses. One of the pieces I took was really effective in terms of being able to see colours behind each of the fading letters. Some of our prints were really strong, and others were very faint due to the number of prints that were done on one roll of ink.

ArtLab Workshop

The ArtLab workshop was used to introduce us to the aspect of 3D scanning and printing and these resources we have within our art department. By using a Sense scanner, with integrated sense programme, a scanner compatible with iPad and Cura (3D printing programme), along with a Cube and WASP Delta 3D printer, we were able to scan multiple objects and rooms, and see one of these come slowly to life in 3D print.

Throughout this workshop, there was also discussion of how we can translate this into an activity, or a workshop in the Tate. There are large debates and copyright infringements if we walk in and simply start scanning the artworks. We were effectively attempting to document the undocumentable. However, by translating this into a different medium, we would mainly avoid this problem. At the same time, we would loose meaning in this translation. We can exhibit the system, exhibit the document and document this translation all through this process.

Voids were also a big part of what we were look at, as you needed to fill in the voids in order for the printer to print a clear model. In many of the scans that we took, both with the iPad and Sense scanner, we had many voids, especially when we were scanning things that were in action.

Another thing we were looking at and constantly thinking about within the workshop was the use of these tools when working with the schools. One activity we thought of was scanning and then drawing from this scan – this could end up as line drawings, figurative drawings, paintings and possibly even further sculptures. Along the way in the schools workshops, there was the idea of creating ‘working’ 3D images using the handheld scanners to make a final story or comic, and possibly be able to 3D print some parts of this. Animations were thought about, however this was at then end of the workshop, and would therefore be something to explore in the future.

I enjoyed this workshop and the way in which it made me think about other uses for both the scanning and the 3D printing. I feel as though I could now easily bring this into my artwork, and working with technology, rather than against it.

Other works and our own from this session can be found on the ArtLab Flickr page.

London Week 6

As I have a few more hours off than usual in Week 6 of term, I end up in a gallery in London with other art students, because we simply want to know what is going on [and this is not university led].

This term, we ended up at Tate Modern Gallery, London, and explored all the free exhibitions that the Tate had to offer, from Salvador Dali to Jack Whitten (American artist), across the four floors that held the free exhibition spaces.

My favourite part about going to a gallery such as Tate modern is the diversity of not only the artwork, but also the artists that they show. One work that captivated my eye was that of Sergio de Camargo and Large Split Relief No. 34/4/74. This piece is completely one shade of white, however the positioning of each ‘cork’ and slit creates a wide range of blacks, whites and greys, without having to mix a single colour. The entanglement of each of these ‘corks’ as they layer up, without necessarily getting in the way of each other is also quite calming in some respects.

Another work that caught my eye is the work of Gilbert and George, which was part of a ‘pop up’ interactive section of one of the exhibitions. It allowed you to step into the light to find out more about an aspect of performance and sculpture. I had a look at the human body, and the way in which Gilbert and George decided that you didn’t need the objects in order to be the sculpture. Hearing this from someone who wasn’t a lecturer allowed me to take a step back and really think about that statement, perhaps changing my view of what sculpture is for a while to come.

One other work that struck me was the photographs of Kaveh Golestan, and the personal factors behind each  of the photographs. These were of prostitutes, in their ‘work space’ and in their homes, waiting for the next customers. I found this particularly striking because through each photograph, you were getting a small window into something that many find grotesque, many others put up with, some others go to, and a surprising number live through. It is this window that reveals so much, but leaves many questions unanswered, and lets you into the life of a prostitute. It is this personal factor that I found to enticing, and something I want to welcome gladly into my own work.

I hope to look further and complete separate posts for those artists who have peaked my interest in the Tate Modern today.