Author Archives: Anushka Shetty

Conference Project Post-Mortem: Swimming In the Void

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For my conference project, I made three animated kinetic text videos which featured narratives from people who spoke about their emotional -experiences of dealing with their mental illnesses. Initially, I wanted to mimic Oskar Fischinger’s ( a German-American abstract animator) style of shape animation to mimic the emotions highlighted in the narrative. In his videos, Oscar Fischinger uses simple shapes to move in co-ordination to classical and jazz musical compositions.However, a major feature of his animated shorts which made them so appealing was the syncing of his shape animation to a Litz composition, which  I lacked the technical expertise and time to emulate.

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  Instead, I used a variety of inspirations for different scenes in each video. For instance, in the video featuring my friend’s narrative encounter with depression, one of the first few scenes has been inspired by Saul Bass’s cinematography for the opening credits of Vertigo. In order to create that, I chose to transform my ellipse into a spiral , using the “twist” animation effect. My intention was for the rotating spiral to create a hallucinatory effect and make the viewer experience a sense of dread and feel that they were getting pulled into some sort of void (a symbolic interpretation of my title). The last scene, which features a gif of a girl with a tear rolling down her cheek, has been inspired by Mitski’s “Townie” music video, which is filled with a series of hand drawn gifs that express the self destructive and discontent nature of a young adult, which is quite similar to the narrative of the video I was creating. I attempted to re-create this hand sketched gif using Gimp and my Wacom tablet, however I felt that I used too few layers, which resulted in an animated gif that was too rushed up and had a rocky transition between the frames.

For the BPD video, I was particularly inspired by Jim Goldberg’s short video for his photobook, “Raised By Wolves” which features teenage runaways in Hollywood Boulevard. The juxtaposition between the young, innocent faces of the subjects and the dreary nature of their narratives interested me and I attempted to re-create this effect in my own video, which featured a childhood photo of my cousin contrasted with lines from her narrative.

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While creating my videos, I discovered a variety of tools that complemented the nature of my narratives. For instance, I used a combination of “Bad TV” (warp, old and weak)  and “Set Channels” effects to create the damaged VCR effect with the static lines. The “Bad TV” effect was used to create the static lines while the “Set Channels” effect was used to create the glitch text at  the beginning. All three of the kinetic texts shared a common theme of the narrators describing themselves as feeling like ghosts and wishing to float away. The “Set Channels” effect proved to be a very efficient tool in helping to convey this in images and text. For instance, I created three layers of the same text and would modify the channel information in such a way that the colors in the images would get separated and created the effect of the person in the image “floating” away from herself (see picture above).

I also heavily experimented around with the “Fractal Noise” effect which helped to create the jittery effect for the text and animated shapes in the video and created a sense of heightened anxiety. I was also interested in creating a zoom in affect where it feels like a camera is panning towards infinity. I tried to convey this in the first two videos which featured the narratives about depression and BPD. This was achieved by making the text 3-D and altering the key frames for  it’s orientation. For the backdrops, I decided to create visual representations of a galaxy and glowing tunnel; both of which convey a universal sense of infinity.

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I wished I had a better understanding of key frames and transition between different scenes , as I felt that some scenes were too rushed to properly convey something impactful. I also wished I had more time to compose a musical composition for my videos, as that would have made the animations  more effective in manipulating the viewer’s emotions and would have been more engaging.

Conference Project Proposal: Swimming In The Void

  RgwQLiWFWQBJC A scene from “An Optical Poem” by Oskar Fischinger My conference project shall comprise of three animated kinetic text videos that would be approximately 3 to 4 minutes long. Each video would be featuring narratives by people who have been diagnosed with a particular psychological disorder (depression, borderline personality disorder and anxiety). These narratives would circulate around their emotional experiences dealing with their disorder and how their health affects their day to day living, their interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships. For the video, where my friend talks about her experience dealing with borderline personality disorder , I would use shape animations that are inspired by the works of Oscar Fischinger, Marcel Ducham and Saul Bass. It has also been inspired by Ted Ed’s “What is Bipolar Disorder?” (animated by Uncle Ginger). All these works feature geometric shape animations that are being manipulated according to the soundtrack and/or the content of the narrative. As somebody who has always been interested in the intersection between art and clinical psychology, this project very much appeals to me.. For this project, I shall also be using a color palette inspired by Kadinsky’s paintings from Adobe Kuler to create a vintage technicolor like feel, that would go well according to the Litz composition.  

Video Mapping:Projector Night

IMG_0996 I first learned about fractals in my 10th grade math class, where my teacher simply described them as geometric patterns defined by nonlinear equations. At the time, I wasn’t particularly interested as I was unable to comprehend the mathematical jargon behind them. However, it was only during my hands on interaction with fractals on After Effects, where I was able to truly appreciate their seemingly infinite nature. As I kept magnifying the fractals, there was a sense of never-endingness, as each zoom presented a completely different pattern. That’s when I knew that I had use them for my video mapping project. IMG_0869 I had initially mapped them on a plain white ceramic wall to see how my creation on After Effects  would be able to translate onto a physical space. Unfortunately, as I had no control over the lights at Heimbold, the colors in my projection looked much lighter and did not have the intense and vibrant effect, that I was aiming for. fullsizeoutput_3de I eventually moved to the space outside our classroom, which had a dimmer lighting that made my projection look much more vivid and intense. Inspired by Krzysztof Wodiczko’s War Veteran projection, I mapped my projection onto an inanimate object (i.e: a white block) in order to give it a lively and animated quality. So far, I’ve only seen the blocks at Heimbold serve as surfaces for sculptures and so this session gave me the opportunity to make it look like it has a life of it’s own. It was also quite reminiscent to some of the illuminated blocks I have seen in music concerts and therefore had a bit of a musical vibe to it , mostly a neo-psychedelic pop quality. IMG_1253 I was quite proud of the final result! The final projection had an almost paradoxical quality to it. There was a sense of chaos as the patterns kept changing every second and there were random spurts of several bright colors that greatly contrasted with the dark background. Nothing was constant for too long.  However, there were times when the patterns moved around more slowly and fluidly which created a sense of calm. The dark blue color of the  background also helped in balancing the chaotic and flashy nature of the patterns, with it’s calming presence. I felt a bit proud that I was able to captivate some of the audience members, as they interacted with the projection by making shadow puppets (see pic of Sabrina above!) However I felt that several improvements could have been made to increase the level of engagement. For instance, I could have mapped my projection in a closed room with a dimmer lighting and a low ceiling. As the psychedelic quality of fractals are meant to have a cool, calming effect on people, I would prefer the projection to be carried out in an air conditioned room and instructed the spectators to view the projection (which would be mapped on to the ceiling) on their backs. Moreover, if I had the technological expertise to have more control over the movement of the fractals, I would have synced the patterns in projection to psychedelic pop music. Even if I didn’t have the expertise required, I could have asked the audience members to listen to the song, “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” by Tame Impala on their earphones, as they viewed my projection. Whenever, I listen to that song, I feel like I am bursting into water color and that is exactly how I felt when I viewed my projection. Hopefully, I would be able to convey a similar experience to my audience as well. Thus, if given a chance in a future, I would love to not only engage the spectator with the visual aspect of my projection but also be able to manipulate their auditory and tactile senses.  

Digital Tools: The Art of the GIF

smile   The above GIF was inspired by Joe Maccarone, a Baltimore illustrator who is known for his surreal animated GIFS. His GIFs usually feature several cartoony illustrations made by hand drawn lines, flat colors and follow a very stream-of-consciousness style of illustration. Most of his GIFs have narratives that circulate around the issue of mental health  and tend to stir some kind of deep emotion within the viewer. These gifs express something that is unspoken and relatable. My GIF is somewhat like that. I aimed to initially make the lips stretch out upwards to make a smile, so that the combination of smiles and tears could convey the idea of the façade that people put on to establish a sense of normalcy to others, as they are too afraid to reveal their inner turmoil. However I experienced difficulties while sketching it so I just decided to show the lips flashing colors, to evoke a sense of emotional chaos. topsy The color palette and shapes of the above GIF has been inspired by Mattisse as it uses a combination of pure and vivid colors. The color palette of the diamonds is meant to evoke intense feelings in the viewer while the light background establishes a sense of serenity. I initially wanted to make tiles of regularly shaped diamonds, however I did not pay attention to the x and y scales , and  ended up making more irregularly shaped diamonds which gained a more cartoony and surreal feel as the animation progressed. splash   This GIF follows a proper,  fixed narrative compared to the other two as the viewer expects an outcome at the end. I liked the idea of colors swishing inside a ball and upon the burst of the ball, there’s a splash of color , which creates a very satisfying effect. If I could improve upon this GIF, I would make the ball have some designs swirling inside it – maybe a concentric circle. The concentric circle could have the same color scheme as the pattern of splashes in the final layer.  Moreover, the initial background could have a color other than a monochromatic color like white, to make it look more engaging and interesting.