Some Thoughts on Networks and Connections

Although I try to link my various social media accounts (apart from Facebook – Rob Kelly has a good blog post here about why it’s both good and potentially bad to have one private account), but rather than projecting the same image across all of them, I am representing different parts of myself through them. This is shown by the fact that I have different social networks on each platform. Although all of the below networks are connected I try not to post the same information on every account.

LinkedIn – I haven’t been using this long, but in it I have been trying to creating a wholly professional persona, as the platform demands. I’ve joined some groups and intended to start posting, but… Much like twitter, LinkedIn is a good way to connect to organisations and people you have never met, though I find getting started on there a much more daunting prospect because I am not sure how formal/informal to be yet. Using LikedIn feels like being at a conference or networking event – there are a lot of people you want to impress, and while you don’t want to constantly hang around the edges of a group and just listen, you can’t just barge in and say the first thing that comes into your head. If I do either of those things, people will probably just ignore me, and that is the last thing to I want have happen!

Soundcloud – I would count this as my next most professional persona, as it was essentially created as a portfolio. I don’t use it all that much as a social platform, except to keep up with old friends from my undergraduate course. However, now that I’m about to get my hands on a copy of Cubase 6 (so excited!) I can start updating it, and once I start posting new tracks and becoming active again I will also start favouriting tracks, commenting on them and trying to make some connections – hopefully people will look at my account, see that I have recent work and reciprocate.

Twitter – I regard my twitter account as my social media hub, as it is the one I use the most, and where I am most free with my thoughts. However I am still careful to make my tweets interesting and relevant to the people who follow me and the people I want to follow me. I don’t intend to use it as many people do, to hold lengthy conversations with friends etc, because I worry that I’d be spamming people with useless comments!

I suppose what I am trying to do is balance my different accounts, and make sure that each shows me off well, and isn’t less used than the others, but also each account is used in a way that is appropriate to that particular social media site.

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Audio Post-Production Project- First Thoughts

In this semester, we are doing a project in audio post-production for film as part of the Audio Application module. The clip I’ll be working on (as part of a group of three) will be from an animated film called the Elephants Dream, which I’ve found a website for here. At present I’ve only seen it from video of previous years’ students working on the design.

The film has its own post production, but it is recommended that we don’t watch it like this. That makes sense I guess, since if we were working on a new animation it would have no sound. The only difference will be dialogue replacement, as I was under the impression that dialogue for an animation is recorded before the visuals are created, so that the voices match the mouths moving (an opinion I gained from this video, if I am wrong please do tell me!). What we are doing is more like dubbing the voices, though since we will be using an identical or near identical script it will be much easier than trying to make the visuals fit another language.

From the clips I have seen, the film is of two characters exploring a fantasy-like mechanical world, which provides plenty of opportunities for really innovative sound effects. I’ve worked with machine-like sounds for an electro-acoustic piece I made earlier this year: Generation

The sounds in the above track are entirely synthetic, made by manipulating white noise and sine/square/saw waves in various programmes. To create a realistic soundworld it would be better to use metallic sounds recorded in the real world, but I still think it would be an interesting experiment to use some sounds made in this fashion. The other in my group are keen to use newly created sounds rather than relying on a library and so am I, so I may have to get reacquainted with Linux and Pure Data!

We will be watching the film and ‘spotting it’ (watching it through, and noting down the timing for dialogue and important sound effects, basically building up a plan of action.) I will be writing follow-up posts to this as the project progresses and I learn what goes in to the sound design for a professional film.

First Research on the ‘Uncanny Valley’

Last week I was assigned my first project, working together with David Compton who is doing a Masters Degree in Animation, looking at the famous ‘Uncanny Valley’ effect in 3-D animation. Although I can’t do animation to save my life (believe me I’ve tried both 2D and 3D, and the results will never be allowed off my hard drive), I am fascinated by it in all it’s forms and usages so this is a very exciting project.

An explanation of the Uncanny Valley

The ‘Uncanny Valley’ is a theory first proposed by the Japanese Scientist Masahiro Mori in 1970, where he suggested that as an artificial creation based in humans (such as a robot or animation) reaches the point where it can almost mimic human appearance and/or behaviour, people start to react negatively to it. Often people will find the robot/animation creepy or slightly ‘wrong’. The name ‘Uncanny Valley’ comes from the shape of the graph which charts positive/negative reactions.

Masahiro Mori’s ‘Uncanny Valley’. Image from wikimedia.org, used under creative commons license

Link to the Wikipedia page on The Uncanny Valley, with a much better explanation than mine! I’ve also linked some articles and studies on my Diigo page.

Since 3D animation is used so widely – think how many TV adverts have animated portions (not to mention fully animated TV shows, films and of course video games) it is really important to consider audience reaction, and to find out what causes the effect. David and I are planning to create some surveys, asking for opinions and ratings of peoples’ reactions on various images of animated faces.