Saturday, 14 June 2014


Copyright is a very important and sometimes unnoticed part of design. It is a tricky issue with a lot of grey area. Especially now with the web the way it is a sharing being such a huge part of the creative community.

Copyright is in place to create the work of inventors, artists, designers, poets, writers, brands etc. It 's goal is to stop people from directly copying the work of others and claiming it to be their own. This is of course bad would lead to chaos. You could copy someone's invention and sell it for yourself to get money that should be rightfully theirs. Or downloading someone's album and re-uploading it claiming it's all you and making money/gaining notoriety. 

It is an essential pillar in the way that creative industries work. It ensures that your work is safe and that you get all the benefits and rewards you deserve from your work. However, it cannot control every use of your work as that would infringe on other (arguably more important) laws and principles. For example the principle of free speech. Something hugely important in western civilisation. Imagine quoting a film or singing a cover of a song and being sued by the creators for everything you own. The principles and rules that overcome this are called fair use. These are a series of scenarios and conditions wherein using someone else's work is acceptable and no action can be taken against them.

One of these principles mean that you are allowed to report on the work in question or create a review for example. You can show clips from a film or snippets of music from an album within a review and pass comment on the contents. You can give a summary of the plot and even reveal the whole storyline. This is allowed within the rules of copyright.

You are also allowed to create a parody of said piece. Taking the basic ideas and principles present, maybe even the script or original artwork. They make changes to make into something of your own. This is popular on the internet and also allowed within the rules of copyright.

One thing that is quite a contentious issue on the web, and in particular on YouTube, is the issue of using someone else's work but not for commercial gain. The main reason for copyright as I mentioned earlier is to stop others benefitting unfairly from other peoples creations. So if you upload a video you've created with someone else's music for the soundtrack and you put it up for monetisation and make a profit from it. It could be argued that the song had a say in that happening. This can lead to all of the audio being removed from your video or maybe even the video being taken down and restrictions being applied to the account.

You can get around this by uploading the video but revoking the monetisation options. This means there will be no adds displayed and no money made on your part. Some companies however, still take action against content creators who do that. This is unfair and not supported by copyright law. It is within the boundaries of fair use to upload someone else's work and have it not be for commercial gain on your part so long as you credit the initial creator of the work and state you do not own anything to do with it. If anything that is promotion for their work that is free however, some larger companies do not see it that way and have a rather outdated series of ideas about copyright and the Internet in general.

It is prevalent in design where brand identity is very important. Creating something unique that stands out is important and takes a lot of time, effort and resources. Copyright is there to protect any logos, slogans or jingles a brand may produce as that is tied into a product or company that would have certain values and ideals to uphold.

Copyright does however, have a time limit. It varies from country to country as to how long the copyright will last. This is a picture demonstrating those times and which countries they apply to:

After the time of publication, release or the copyright holder's death the clock starts ticking. Most countries average a time of around 70 years. This means that 70 years from the initial copyright the work will no longer be governed by copyright and will pass into the public domain. This means that it can be used freely by anyone and is not really technically owned by anyone.

There are a lot of talks constantly about the length of time and they are liable to change all the time. There are also issues with big companies owning individuals work and extending the copyright past reasonable points but they are discussions for another day.

For now I will leave you with a playlist of music that is now in the public domain and as a result completely free to enjoy and use!

Summary of the Final Second Year Project

I really enjoyed this project. It was I think the most challenging one we have had so far and I was put under a lot of stress and pressure with it but I am really happy with everything I put forward for it and I think it turned out better than I was expecting. 

Obviously the main thing that springs to mind for me is my computer troubles. That really threw about 20 spanners in the works for me but I am glad I was able to resolve the issue and power through it. If I had handed over all my responsibilities to others I think it would have been a bit of a let down for me. Like I said I am proud of everything I created for the show. I think it brought a professional edge to all the video assets and added another level of flair to the proceedings.

I enjoyed the enormity and challenge of the task itself to. Managing a show single handedly from start to finish is a huge undertaking for any group of people. The fact that a bunch of people who have done it for the first time were doing it is one thing. The fact that we are all students is something else entirely. And despite the complete lack of experience and expertise we managed to pull it off. There weren't any major disasters really and it went off without a hitch. In fact it may have gone as smoothly or even more smoothly than the years before with the faculty managing proceedings. I think that is a huge success for us and we should all be proud of that.

I feel like my inout to the show was important too. I felt as though I had a definite role to play throughout. I initially drove a lot of the creative design processes forward in terms of name generation and logo design. I was one of the only people actually suggesting ideas and critiquing them. I then also after delegating my role as head of branding stayed involved and tried to make everything as good as possible. I also was there to help with decision making and make sure everything was fair.

When things started to get heated and problems started to arise I felt as though I did well to try and quell the mood and put out fires. I stayed professional throughout and tried to control everything when people around me were loosing my heads and I am proud of myself for that.

I feel like I was one of the major players in the project and a lot of people came to me for advice and suggestions. I may not have been the front man and the main driving force but I was an integral cog and had quite a part to play. Although the video side came together late in the day I am very proud of it and felt like it was the icing on the cake for the whole of the show.

Once again. This project was enjoyable and I learnt a lot of lessons from it. I feel as though I have grown as a designer and as a person and am tentatively looking forward to next years show to give it another shot but this time with a years experience and last years show under my belt.

Floor Projection

One idea that came later in the process of designing and thinking about assets to project was a looping video that would project onto the floor. I thought this would be a great idea as it adds a little flair and interest just as you walk through the door that would attract attention and engagement from everyone immediately. However, I was aware that it could easily be annoying and tedious if it looped very quickly and was bombarded with movement. So with that in mind I set about creating an interesting, engaging yet subtle piece to project onto the floor in front of the main entrance and this is what I came up with:

I think it turned out really well. The black background means that no light will be projected there essentially making the black space transparent. this makes it so that only the elements in colour will show up on the floor. 

I wanted to go with a simple, handmade sort of style with it. This style has been present with all the video assets I have created. They all have a tactile, physical aesthetic and tone what with the sounds of paper and rustling that is tied into each of them. With that in mind I wanted to make it look as though all the text was written on and then rubbed out. Either that or physically placed into the scene. This goes along with all the stings used in this piece as well. They all appear in an organic manor and disappear in that way too. There are no fades or impossible effects. They are all physical and tactile.

With that in mind I wrote the text out using my chosen font and then used a stroke effect to make it appear as though it had been written on. I used the pen tool to tract out a quick path that would cover the whole sentence. I then made it only have a black stroke wide enough to cover the pixels that made up the word. And then went into the shape options at the top of the screen and added a "Trim Paths" effect. This added a start and end property to the stroke that could be manipulated with keyframes. I then simply had to animate the start keyframe from 0% to 100% and that would create the effect of the line moving along its own path until it reached the end where it took up no pixels. This would be slowly revealing the word in an organic manor and create the illusion of it being written on by hand.

This same technique was used to create the erasing effect. A much thicker stroke was drawn on with the pen tool in a zig-zagged line. This was then animated in the same way except this time I animated the stroke on instead of off. This meant that as the stroke came into being it slowly wiped the text off the screen. It is a simple effect that didn't take much time to set up yet really added a lot of depth and realism to the motion and a lot of life to the text. When motion blur and subtle amount of fast blur were added as well it really finished it all off and made it look really nice.

Once again I am really happy with how this came out. Two minutes I think is a perfect amount of time. It isn't so short as to become annoying and tedious yet also isn't too long so that some visitors miss the points of interest. It is engaging enough throughout without becoming annoying which is a fine balance but one that I think I managed to strike well.

Finished Showreel

I have now finished the showreel for the Dots Per Inch show. It was challenging because of the somewhat off kilter and hard to read bead and tempo that the song had. I found it more difficult than say a rock or dub step song where there is a predictable, consistent beat to edit to. The mood of the music was also quite vague and difficult to match however, I think that I managed it and I am pleased with the results so without further ado, this is the finished showreel:

As you can see when compared to the original draft I uploaded a few posts ago, it is a lot tighter and fits in more with the song. I have also taken out duplicate students pieces and added in more variety. No ones work is shown more than once and a wider variety of students are present in the reel.

I am really happy with how it all came together. I think that stings and titles work really eel to bookend the piece and they work really eel with the chosen song. They are somewhat understated and unique. I also like the change in pace and intensity when the drums kick in. The reel really kicks up a gear and starts to gain momentum. I like my edit of the music track itself too. There is a cut in the track on one of the drum beats that shortens it drastically and skips out a few bars. It is undetectable yet does a lot of make the piece flow better. I think it was an important move. There are also a lot of subtle timing changes by adding freeze frames and subtly speeding pieces up. These two are undetectable and add a lot of weight and professionalism to the piece as a whole I think.

Overall, once again I am very happy with the final product. I saw it as quite a challenge as all the work was extremely varied in length, quality and tone yet I think I managed to combine them all together quite well in a sleek little introduction that ties into the core themes and ideas of the show and represents everyone involved fairly.

Showreel Pack

As I mentioned in an earlier post I am not the one in charge of creating the full showreel containing everyone's full pieces of work. That task was given to Rob; a teacher at the college. For consistencies sake we thought it important to develop a theme and identity that would be present across all media created for the show. I would be creating the showreel's 30 second intro and another piece to project onto the floor.

To create a sense of cohesion throughout all the projected media I set about creating a pack that would contain all the show's branding identity. I picked out a font family to use, a logo that Jess created and a I also created a set of lower thirds animations. They were based off the stings I posted about earlier. I placed all of these assets within a folder that contained an After Effects composition. That way when I uploaded that folder to Dropbox and set it to Rob it would all link up and the AE composition could be opened at his end and function the same way as when I last saved it. This is the folder I sent to him:

And this is the contents of the folder:

This folder contained everything needed to manipulate the assets and animations I created for the lower third sequences. I created various compositions at different levels that could each be edited to create different lower thirds. All the animations were already done and ready to go. All that Rob would have to do it add the names of each of the students and render out the sequence. The font and sound assets were all positioned in the correct file paths from the AE file so all he'd have to do was open it and hopefully everything will be linked and functional. 

After sending it to him he said there weren't any major issues and everything worked fine. The lower thirds were quick and easy to edit and everything worked as expected. The one hiccup is that I had forgotten to link one of the sound asset files and place it in the pack but it wasn't very important as it was for stings Rob wasn't needing to use anyway. The main one had all the sound assets in place and that's all he wanted to use so overall, a successful process!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Poster Submission

I had forgot earlier to show the poster that I had designed for the show, I only showed the original concept. Well here it is:

As you can see it is very similar to the original concept. I like the dots and the sparseness present in the design and I wanted to keep that however, I felt as though just the dots was just a tad under doing it. So I found an effect within Illustrator called "Pointalize". This effect takes colours and turned them into little points of colour. It will blend different shades of that colour along with white space to create an overall shade and the end result is very pleasing. 

The shape and idea came about through various attempts of trial and error in the early brainstorming process. I then discovered and employed the new found filter to add some polish and I am very pleased with the outcome. Again this design wasn't chosen but it was one of the finalists and was praised by a few of my classmates. I am happy with it and it was good practice. It was an attempt at a messy, unkempt image and I think it went quite well.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Dots Per Inch Showreel

All of the FDA students have a shared FaceBook page where we can chat and organise various things. It's really handy for communicating on these shared projects when we are only in University twice a week. I was able to utilise it recently for the showreel to make a crucial decision. What music track we wanted to use. 

When working on a showreel I like to have the music already in place and cut together. For me it is the only way to work. You can see where all the beats, and as a result cuts, will be and get a feel for the tone, pace and mood of the song and as a result showreel. You can see when important moments should occur and when shifts in tone should take place. 

This makes getting a good track that fits roughly an overall tone that the work echoes important. This in turn made the task itself very difficult. There was such a wide variety of work to cut together it was difficult to find a song broad enough to cover it all yet consistent and engaging enough to hold interest and hopefully do the work justice. However, I found a few that I liked and pitched my favourite one to the group. They all said they liked it and I felt happy with it so I proceeded with that song. The song was "A Walk" by Tycho:

I love this song. It is calm and spacious. It seems like it should be simple and plain yet there is quite a complicated rhythm and almost off-putting structure to it. It makes it interesting to listen to and just gives it something more. It is more complex and layered because of it. I liked that about it. It stood out for that reason and would suit the work perfectly.

So, with the song picked out, the stings created and the work collated I got to work on creating the showreel. It took me a while to get my head around the timing of the song because of the aforementioned beat irregularity but after a bit of tinkering I got it to a stage where I felt ready to share it to receive feedback from the group. Here is the first draft:

Now this is unfinished. It is just to see what everyone thought about the song choice with the work and the overall pacing/stings. So I posted it to our FaceBook page to get some feedback on it:

It seems to have been well received however, there was some confusion over the purpose of this showreel. This is a tighter cut of everyone's work culminated together and cut to music. Rob is creating the full showreel with everyones work in full.

There were some helpful suggestions though and I will get working on them imminently.

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