Three films on communication and networks

Posted on Nov 5, 2011 in Film, Media, Narrative, Technology, Television

In the last two weeks I’ve seen three documentaries dealing with communication and networks.

Firstly, a broad and ambitious film from Ericsson, taking on the ‘networked society’ including interviews with David Weinberger, Catarina Fake and Eric Wahlforss.

Each of the interviewees discusses the emerging opportunities being enabled by technology as we enter the Networked Society. Concepts such as borderless opportunities and creativity, new open business models, and today’s ‘dumb society’ are brought up and discussed.

The next film from Nokia brings daily life around networked communication technologies to the forefront, and does it through lovely experiential sequences. However it does come across much more as a branding exercise or promotional piece, and doesn’t offer to explain or explore the practices it shows.

Third is a film by Ben Mendelsohn and Alex Chohlas-Wood about the physical, geographic and material infrastructure that goes into running the internet.

Lower Manhattan’s 60 Hudson Street is one of the world’s most concentrated hubs of Internet connectivity. This short documentary peeks inside, offering a glimpse of the massive material infrastructure that makes the Internet possible.

There is clearly a need to unpack the increasingly technology-inflected geography, and social and cultural practices of the world we inhabit, so it is good to see films like this being made.

Design for television

David’s reference to 18 points as the minimum size equates to 18 pixels if you are coming from a web background.

On some iTV projects I have pushed the type down to 16 pixels, but be very careful about colours and contrast, and enquire about the production path to air: if the work is going to be transferred via DV tape, squeezed through an old composite link, or online-edited with high compression, then you might want to leave type as large as possible.

In some cases – such as using white text on a red background – you can add a very subtle black shadow to the type, which will help stop colour bleed and crawling effects. Even if you dislike drop-shadow effects, it will still look flat and lovely on a broadcast monitor.

Safe areas need to be taken with a pinch of salt. The default safe areas in most editing and compositing software date from years ago before the widespread use of modern, widescreen televisions.

Try extending the safe area for non-essential text in interactive projects, and consult broadcaster guidelines for their widescreen policies: many channels now broadcast in 14:9 to terrestrial boxes, and offer options to satellite and cable viewers.

The largest problem is that widescreen viewers often crop the top and bottom of the image by setting their TV to crop 4:3 to 16:9. Some cable/satellite companies remove the left and right of the image to crop 16:9 to 4:3 for non-widescreen viewers, leaving us only a tiny, safe rectangle in the centre of the image to work with.

Robert Bradbrook (maker of Home Road Movies) has a some technical but excellent information on designing graphics for 16:9 television and film formats, including a sample safe area.

There are also excellent documents on picture standards from the BBC.

But this is one thing I don’t understand: according to the BBC: “Additional [20 or 26 horizontal] pixels are not taken into account when calculating the aspect ratio, but without them images transferred between systems will not be the correct shape.” Can anyone confirm that this is the case for PAL images?

Mess TV: SMS and MMS community television

Posted on Dec 18, 2003 in Mobility, Television

Mess TV runs every night from around 2am until 12 noon the next day. Television is an effective way of communicating in Norway where the population is distributed evenly across a wide geographical area. The show is used by a variety of communities and individuals needing to connect.

I completely rebranded the show with a visual design that reflected the branding guidelines of TV Norge, refined the SMS and MMS interaction scenarios, and advised on linear broadcast and interactive content.

interface showing location based community services

interface showing location based community services

interface showing location based community services

h3. Features

* The show has a standard layout, similar to other SMS television shows, but with a high attention to detail and clean, compact layout
* clean background colours foregrounds the messy user-generated content
* simple use of fonts and colours to lessen the visual overload of multiple messages
* clear divisions between different areas of content
* MMS pictures can be submitted and displayed as part of competitions or themes

We conducted specific audience analysis on themes and content that generated most interest, and adapted the interface to audience demands.

h3. Future developments

* Location based services, personalisation and competitions
* MMS video diaries: ability for the audience to submit diaries of community projects or daily life, and to allow for some editorial control over editing and presentation, perhaps through an online interface

interface showing location based community services

interface showing location based competition

Broadcast design books

Posted on Jan 26, 2003 in Graphic design, Television

Pause: 59 Minutes of Motion Graphics

Julie Hirschfeld, Stefanie Barth ed.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Anime

Robert Klanten, Hendrik Hellige, Birga Meyer. Includes 4 ½ hours of motion graphics work on DVD, but the book itself is disappointing.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Type in Motion

Jeff Bellantoni, Matt Woolman.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Understanding Animation

Paul Wells.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

2-D Animation

Jayne Pilling.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

The Animator’s Survival Kit

Richard Williams.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

After Effects in Production

Trish Meyer, Chris Meyer.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Creating Motion Graphics: with After Effects

Trish Meyer, Chris Meyer.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Film books

Posted on Sep 23, 2002 in Film, Reading, Television

Film Art

David Bordwell, Kristin Thompson. Classic textbook, required reading.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Sculpting In Time

Andrey Tarkovsky.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Time Within Time

Andrey Tarkovsky.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Kieslowski on Kieslowski

Danusia Stok, Krysztof Kieslowski. A thorough insight into Kieslowski’s process, thinking and ideology. Wonderful.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

The Art and Science of Screenwriting

Philip Parker. Essential reading for screenwriting, not just the usual Hollywood basics.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Film Architecture

Dietrich Neumann.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Audio Vision

Michel Chion. Essential for anyone thinking about the interaction between audible and visible.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Directing: (Screencraft Series)

Mike Goodridge.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

First Cut: Conversations with Film Editors

Gabriella Oldham.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

The Director’s Journey: The Creative Collaboration

Mark Travis.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Making Movies

Sydney Lumet.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Film Directing: Shot By Shot

Steven Katz.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Directing the Film

Eric Sherman.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Making Movies Work: Thinking Like a Filmmaker

Jon Boorstin.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Narrative books

Posted on May 15, 2002 in Art, Film, Media, Narrative, Reading, Research, Television

Hamlet on the Holodeck

Janet H Murray.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Pause & Effect: The Art of Interactive Narrative

Mark Stephen Meadows.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Computers As Theatre

Brenda Laurel.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Joseph Campbell.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Interactive Acting: Acting, Improvisation, and Interacting for Audience Participatory Theatre

Jeff Wirth.
amazon.com

Tell Me a Story: Narrative and Intelligence

by Roger C. Schank, Gary Saul Morson.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Understanding Comics

Scott McCloud.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Comics & Sequential Art

Will Eisner.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Graphic Storytelling & Visual Narrative

Will Eisner.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Interaction and narrative workshop

Posted on Feb 11, 2002 in Conferences, Film, Interaction design, Narrative, Television

This lecture covers some specific ideas that are aimed at traditional designers or filmmakers that want to make narratives involving user/audience interaction.

It was first given at Channel 4 in London, to filmmakers on the digital animation Mesh Scheme.

Honeysphere collaborative storytelling platform

Posted on Feb 1, 2000 in Art, Interaction design, Media, Narrative, Social, Television

In 1999 a team of six (including myself and “Jack Schulze”:http://www.jackschulze.co.uk) won the London Institute Award for Innovation for a collaboration around narrative and interactive television. We researched existing web-based projects dealing with community, gaming, multi-user space, and interactive narrative.

The project aquired an extensive archive of research material and proposed a number of design patterns that could be used for future development of collaborative television software.

We presented our findings to the public at the Berlin Film Festival in February 2000.