Final Project – Singapore, revisited.

For this project, I was teamed up with 3 other classmates, Enqi, Yin Lam and Sheryl.

Our main concept behind our interactive collage is a juxtaposition of fantasy elements against famous Singapore historical scenes and monuments.

Before deciding on that, we actually had a a few brainstorming sessions to source our inspirations. We googled search interactive collages but to our disappointment we still could not find a suitable interactive collage that was to our liking. To be honest, the interactivity part probably confused us a little before we even started the project. We couldn’t decide if we wanted to settle the interactivity part first, or to decide on the theme first. And as such, it took us a long time to finally settle on a theme.

There were considerations also whether we wanted to make our theme surrealistic or realist. We had several suggestions;

1. A fantastical land that is surrealistic and abstract, with many juxtaposition of elements together in one collage. Colorful and complicated composition.

2. A fairytale-like story using recognizable fairytale characters. E.g Snow White, Red Riding Hood, Humpty Dumpty etc etc

3. The milkway, universe with planets and constellations in which the interactivity can be used to zoom in on each planet or constellation and play with it

4. A realist approach to Singapore’s historical timeline, with mention of famous figures and monuments. E.g Stamford Raffles, Esplanade etc etc

We deliberated for quite long, as there were no consensus across the board on which is better. Yet, due to time constraints we had to quickly choose a theme or without which we cannot start on our collages, and also our interactivity. After much discussion, we decided on merging several themes together, for various reasons.

The themes that we merged were fantasy and history.
The general concept that we were looking for were to induce nostalgia through juxtaposing notable monuments/characters in fantastical environments. The main reason behind is that we believe that all Singaporeans share something in common; which is a shared history, and it is not just limited to Singaporeans. Things such as the Japanese occupation, HDBs, and even our present esplanade and MBS, are all monuments that are famous worldwide, and which is what forms Singapore’s identity as well. Using such elements in our work would help bring out the emotions of nostalgia and warmth. We wanted to allow the audience to view the work through a 1st-person, or as close to a 1st person perspective as possible to enhance those emotions, and so we initially decided on a storybook sequence, where the audience will be brought through different scenes as though reliving the moments.

We had a few scenes in mind, of which we confirmed several:

1. Pre-Singapore
2. Kampung
3. Samsui Women
4. Jap Occupation
5. Early Settlement
6. HDB
7. Esplanade
8. MBS
8. Sentosa
9. Universal Studios Singapore

After deciding on the scenes, we had to create the collages to work on.

One huge problem laid in the fact that all of us had differing commitments and schedules, and it was hard to meet often to discuss the project. Therefore, we had to do most of the discussion through online chats and facebook messaging. It was also difficult to do the collages together, and so to make things efficient, we splitted the workload amongst ourselves. Sheryl took charge of Esplanade, USS, and Pre-Singapore, Enqi took charge of Early Settlement, Jap Occupation and Sentosa, Yin Lam took charge of Samsui women and MBS, while I took charge of the overall interactivity and the character design, and also the Kampung and HDB collages. It definitely became a lot more efficient after we each had something to do instead of waiting around.

However, I believe that we should have settled on a style before we each started on our collages. When we compiled our collages together, I realised that all of our styles were largely different. Enqi’s and mine were more geared towards the realist side, while Sheryl and Yinlam’s collages were much more towards the fantasy side. There were immediate concerns about whether the collages would look coherent together in a timeline. We met Jing for consultations, and at the end of it, we decided that we needed to redo some of our collages in order to form a similar style. We managed to agree on going with Sheryl’s collages’ style and used one of her collage as reference to redesign our collage.

2 collages of different styles:

More ‘realistic’ approach as opposed to:

Therefore, using Sheryl’s collage as reference, I also re-edited my HDB and Kampung collages, and tried to add in more fantastical elements, while still retaining the realistic aspects of the monuments to fit our theme.

From the previous ones:

To:


Luckily, all of us managed to fit our styles together and finished the scenes needed for interactivity. There were slight problems during collaging process, such as the need to agree on sizing, composition and many others especially because each of our work had our individual style to it, and much compromise was needed.

An overview of our scenes:
(We had to leave Japanese Occupation out as there were difficulties in the file format and due to time constraints, we decided that it was not an important feature in our overall collage)

Character Design

I was also in charge of character design, which I based largely off the character Alice in Alice in Wonderland. Largely because she is an iconic fairytale character that most people know of, and also her story is both famous and similar to our concept of traveling through dimensions, and was in my opinion thus best representative of our work.

Using Illustrator, I traced out the initial drawing I had on paper and also filled in the colors with shadings. The primary colors used are blue and white for the clothes and yellow for her hair, also largely influenced by the character Alice.

Initially, a 5px outline was used, but while doing the interactivity, I switched to a 1px outline as it was gentler and blended in better with the collages.

Out of personal attachment and perhaps as the story is close to all of our hearts, we decided to name our character Alice as well.

Our character, Alice (as well), will thus be representing the audience as the main protagonist in walking through the scenes in our interactive collage.

Interactivity

Interactivity for us this time round was a real pain in the ass. There were so many problems that we faced while using Catalyst to do our interactivity that we had to scrape many initial ideas and develop alternatives.

One such example is when we wanted to use a double-zoom effect for our collage; which means using a zoom-out effect on the primary photo while at the same time using a zoom-in effect on the secondary photo, so the back photo will zoom in while the first photo zooms out to create a smooth zooming effect. However, there were problems with the transitions, and we couldn’t manage to create the effect. The problem laid in the fact that Catalyst automatically adds in weird transitions that we didn’t want and couldn’t delete, hence the zooming effect wouldn’t work. Although I’m sure that it was also due to our lack of knowledge and expertise in using Catalyst. All of us started the project with zero knowledge of how Flash and Catalyst worked. It’s pretty amazing we even managed to produce an interactive collage in the end without proper guidance (sorry to say but Youtube tutorials weren’t of much help either).

The alternative we came up with was just a simple zooming effect of the second background, which will replace the primary photo (and therefore the primary photo does not move). Also, in addition to make the collage less flat, we made the character resize and walk into the end of the collage, and when she reaches the next collage will zoom out, so the illusion of travelling through dimensions is formed by using a ‘portal’ effect.

Example,

The character resizes and walks towards the end.

Once she reaches, the next collage will zoom in to fill up the primary screen, replacing the previous collage.

Luckily, this method of zooming worked and we could finish the overall collage by using the states and timeline to control fading in and out of the images.

We also placed in individual interactivity within each collage. For example, clicking on the road would make the road light up, or clicking on the roses, will cause a duplication of more roses etc etc. However another limitation we faced was the inability of Catalyst to handle large amount of data, and hence we had to optimize most of our layers, and hence we could not show the individual interactivity in our final work. It is regrettable, but I’m sure that with more time and knowledge, we would have definitely been able to do it. So we sent the individual interactivity seperately in another folder to the group server, and hopefully that works.

Overall, this project was the hardest for me, especially because it involved the use of Catalyst and Flash (and coding) which has never occurred to me to use it before. Learning from scratch was really hard, especially when it conflicts with commitments and time constraints. But still, it was a very enriching experience, and now I’m proud to say that I have some knowledge of using Catalyst. Will be very valuable skills I can carry to my future workplace I think! :)) And I love making collages. And I love sourcing through photos the entire day just to find a few suitable ones. I’m a photo-watcher at heart. (is there even such a word?)  But anyway, here marks the end of my final project, and the final part of my portfolio!

NM3223 has been a blast! 😀

 

Credits:
(for my individual collages)

HDB

  1. http://ohiamadeviant.deviantart.com/art/the-red-bicycle-180222563?q=boost%3Apopular%20hdb%20corridor&qo=23
  2. http://bucharek.deviantart.com/art/Walkway-180569990?q=boost%3Apopular%20walkway&qo=23
  3. http://opportunistatlarge.deviantart.com/art/Old-Age-Is-A-Lonely-Phase-68288759?q=boost%3Apopular%20void%20deck&qo=65
  4. http://k-leb-k.deviantart.com/art/Gathering-Places-II-103800471?q=boost%3Apopular%20void%20deck&qo=71
  5. http://browse.deviantart.com/?qh=&section=&q=hdb#/d3hc9mb
  6. http://melissakung.deviantart.com/art/singapore-hdb-66391426?q=boost%3Apopular%20HDB&qo=17

Kampung

  1. http://zufairi.deviantart.com/art/balik-kampung-148811379?q=boost%3Apopular%20kampung&qo=59
  2. http://nickilroy.deviantart.com/art/Kampung-Boy-34417189?q=boost%3Apopular%20kampung&qo=0
  3. http://13104147.deviantart.com/art/Inside-Kampung-Naga-167584944?q=boost%3Apopular%20kampung&qo=7
  4. http://kellie210.deviantart.com/art/kampung-109354080?q=boost%3Apopular%20kampung&qo=15
  5. http://ndondong.deviantart.com/art/Ayam-Kampung-213223225?q=boost%3Apopular%20kampung&qo=32
  6. http://marcelo-rock.deviantart.com/art/The-Clock-99174542?q=boost%3Apopular%20in%3Adigitalart%20clock&qo=9
  7. http://kalbicamdan.deviantart.com/art/when-the-play-clock-187045096?q=boost%3Apopular%20in%3Adigitalart%20clock&qo=21
  8. http://giuseppeparisi.deviantart.com/art/In-The-Depths-Of-Me-269153066?q=boost%3Apopular%20in%3Adigitalart%2Fphotomanip%2Fconceptual%20max_age%3A8h&qo=
  9. http://mechtaniya.deviantart.com/art/Chicken-136293932?q=boost%3Apopular%20chicken&qo=1
  10. http://gembulliar.deviantart.com/art/I-m-Full-38765352?q=boost%3Apopular%20kampung%20chicken&qo=21
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Final – Urban Fantasy

Despite really liking my concept for the collage I presented during tutorial class, I decided I had to change the collage a little so as to show the theme Urban Fantasy a little clearer. Although I wanted to leave the audience to decide for themselves which is ‘fantasy’ and which is ‘urban’ for the previous collage, the lack of response from the critiquing session left me wondering if I had to make things more obvious, and hence my reason for re-creating a new collage for this assignment.

And for this collage, I call it “A Leap into the New World”.

Similar to the previous concept, I wanted to show a reflection of 2 worlds vastly different from each other, and in this collage, I placed a mirror on the ground which reflects another world.

The concept behind this collage is simple; its a reflection of our insatiable human nature.

One thing that I’ve learnt is that we humans are never easily satisfied. As the saying goes, “the grass is greener on the other side”, we always seek a different path, a different life than what we have now, believing that the “new” will contain better prospects for us. Anything and everything in the “new life” is bound to be better than the current life we lead. I myself, am guilty of that.
Therefore, to show the expectations we usually have of the new world, I portrayed the subject (woman) as leaping from the frame into the ‘new’ world filled with colors and tall buildings. I tried my best to make the character as un-hesitant and jubilant as much I can, to show the joy she carries over from escaping her old life into her new life.

However, the catch lies in the fact that despite the new world being colorful and seemingly prosperous, it is also barren with only skyscrapers and buildings and no green things living there. I wanted to express the message that while new things are exciting and worth anticipating for, not all new things are always good. Just like how technology is good, yet it is also a double-edged sword. Globalization is beneficial to

us, yet it has also harmed us in most ways.

To make the concept a little less direct, I decided to juxtapose more of the fantasy elements to make the collage seem happier and bright. However, it would be nice if the viewers would be able to understand/see the meaning behind the title, and the collage work.

Many of the stock photos I used in this collage are of buildings such as :

and some photos of the original background:

The effort and practice needed in building the collage here definitely helped a lot with the collages needed for the final project. 😀 Love this assignment as well!

Credits:

 1. http://night-fate-stock.deviantart.com/art/sky-in-the-mirror-167808974?q=boost%3Apopular%20in%3Aresources%20mirror&qo=26
2. http://victorstd8.deviantart.com/art/Fire-in-the-sky-143235481?q=boost%3Apopular%20sky&qo=21

3. http://rabbitka.deviantart.com/art/Rainbow-Flavoured-Buildings-38038897?q=boost%3Apopular%20buildings&qo=30

4. http://chikitawolf.deviantart.com/art/Colorful-buildings-245296503?q=boost%3Apopular%20buildings&qo=249

5. http://amosb.deviantart.com/art/Jump-45968682?q=boost%3Apopular%20jump&qo=112

6. http://r-at.deviantart.com/art/Buildings-259123375?q=boost%3Apopular%20buildings&qo=246

Final – Keitai Phenomenon

A brief description of my concept behind this series of photos would be ‘looking through the eyes of a Dancer’.

What inspired me for this series was stereotypes of dancers that have been frequently heard from others. One day I was walking through the AS1 hallway and I overheard a crowd discussing about dancers, and the way hip-hop dancers dress and behave. What has often been stereotyped about dancers is that we are often assumed that we dress in baggy dance clothes and bright dance sneakers 24/7, and we are also loud and noisy. Needless to say, dancers also have a reputation that people assume, and although this is partially true, sometimes I feel that people around dancers tend to forget that we are ‘normal’ just like the rest of them, that we have our “off-days” as well. Outside of the stage, we’re just the same. Being a dancer does not mean we have to show it through our clothes always, the identity is already reinforced inside us, and we can choose to show it depending on our moods.

Therefore, being inspired by this concept, I decided to choose shoes/feets as my main subject as I feel that it is the most representative of a dancer, and also the best way to show the environment and mood of the photographer while he/she takes it. Following the keitai phenomenon, I used my keitai camera to capture these seemingly redundant shots of my feet. I chose a top-down perspective, as I wanted to bring across the feeling of the viewer looking down upon their own shoes while they view the photographs. Also, each photo was taken in a most random place, on the street, on the train, on the bus and even in shops. The last photo was actually taken in H&M, when I met several of my dance friends and we realized that on our “off day” almost all of us were wearing slippers.

From the series of photographs, I wanted to show that sometimes, we shouldn’t stereotype someone a certain way just because of his/her status. We shouldn’t even assume that the President does not wear slippers and FBTS just because he is the president, we also shouldn’t assume someone else wouldn’t behave a certain way because of his/her role in society.

Capturing the most mundane and random moments was one of the priority for me in this assignment. Mundane sharing of photographs are all part of the Keitai phenomenon (and I think its genius), and however banal, such shots are still representative of someone’s life, identity and memories.

I personally love this assignment the most of all 4 projects. Well, what can I say, I love my keitai. ❤

Final – Exposure Triangle

For the final portfolio, I made some edits and chose the following 4 as best representative of Shallow Depth of Field, Deep Depth of Field, Blur Motion and Freeze Frame.

I must say that this assignment although seemingly the easiest, was actually the most difficult for me as I had to capture both the technical and aesthetic aspect of a subject, and it was at times hard to fulfill both aspects. However, I still thoroughly enjoyed myself while traveling around to capture these shots.

 

Shallow Depth of Field
I personally feel a certain attachment to this photo, perhaps its because it’s my ring that my subject is wearing? 🙂
The main focus behind this photo is to show that sometimes, things that we wear and carry around, including the words we speak are all methods in which we reinforce our identity and how we want to be percieved by the world. Therefore, in this photo, the word ‘Bad’ is reinforced together with the subject in the background to create a message to the viewers.

I call this shot “Proof”.

And special thanks to Enqi for being such a *badass* and being willing to be my subject in this shot 🙂

Deep Depth of Field
For this shot, I call it “Playground”.

Visibly, it isn’t a playground and it doesn’t look like the usual playgrounds we imagine in neighbourhoods with slides and swings for the kids to play with. However, in this case, it is a metaphor for a place where people come to “play”.

This shot was taken at Changi Airport’s public viewing mall, and despite being on a weekday, the viewing mall still had many people of all ages just chilling and catching up with friends. For them, it is both a place to relax as well as to indulge in self-thought (if alone like the man in the foreground). I particularly found it interesting to note that different groups of different ages and ethnicity are all grouped together here for their own individual interests, yet sharing a single public space. Their main purpose, I assume, is to have fun. And this is why I called my shot “Playground”, as it is a playground in its own right to each individual who was there.

Another point I like about the photo was the ornaments at the top of the photo which leads the viewer’s eyes further deeper into the back of the photo. Which is just as important as what’s shown in the foreground.

Blur Motion
The story behind taking this shot is actually pretty amusing to me. After a whole day of failed attempts in capturing a blur motion shot (as my hands were too shaky and I didn’t have a tripod with me), while walking down the street on my home near midnight, I suddenly spotted a lone car driving towards my direction. And as if by instinct, I whipped out my camera and managed to capture this shot of the car. It was the only car that passed by during that period of time when I was walking as my neighbourhood don’t get many cars at night, and to top that off the car was also speeding really fast. To me, this was both a surprisingly and sudden shot.

I especially like the blurring of the headlights, forming a mix of red, white and orange hues which also complements the surroundings. The blurring also enhanced the speed of the car, which inspired me to call this shot, “Adrenaline”.

Freeze Frame
This has to be my most favorite shot out of all of the photos in this assignment. The weightlessness and lack of gravity feel in this shot are exactly how I imagined it to be in a world where no gravity exists and water just floats up. Much like the world shown in Pirates of the Carribean where everything gets turned upside down. Through this shot, I wanted to express my imagination of what it would look like if liquids were weightless in a vacuum, and thankfully, this shot turned out like how I wanted it to look.

 

And so, this concludes the end of the Exposure Triangle Assignment, and these are the 4 finalised photographs I’ve decided to submit in my portfolio. Off to the next assignment, Keitai Phenomenon! 😀

Assignment 3: Urban Fantasy

For assignment 3, we had to create a montage/collage with the theme ‘Urban Fantasy’.

To be honest, when I first heard the theme, I was momentarily stunned. What is ‘urban fantasy’?! I’ve never heard of it. Well, if we break it down, it’s just urban + fantasy, but I admit there was a point where I believed it to be more so I tried wikipedia-ing it hahaha.
And so here’s what it says:

And even when I googled images on it, on many portals and on DA, I found pictures of this..

All sorts of weird things came out, fairies, vampires. But I guess I sort of got the gist of what the theme is.

For the concept, I decided to go with the theme ‘Reflection’.
Using some elements such as mirror and the nature, I merged together some stock photos into a collage which I felt best expressed my idea.


This piece expresses an idea of two worlds reflecting each other, and through the mirror we can get a look into another world. The mirror exists also as a portal, where the subject stands in between the two worlds.

The theme of urban fantasy here is blurred; there is no clear distinction on which world is urban and which is fantasy. It is entirely up to the audience to feel which side is more urban or more fantasy to them. As such, it is a subjective collage that I created.

However, when I presented it to the class during critique session, some comments were that they were confused which world was which, bringing up the question on whether my collage fit the assignment criteria. Other comments included saying that the subject in the mirror does not seem to wearing clothes that are urban enough if the other world is fantasy, and vice versa. Suggestions were given to make the surroundings more obvious whether it’s more fantastical or urbanized.

For the final submission, I guess I’ll have to think more about the theme. But most likely, I’ll still keep to the original concept of ‘Reflection’.

Class Exercise 4: On Photoshop

Basically what we learnt in tutorial class today were mainly how to do:

1. Adjustment Layers

2. Destructible/Non-destructible editing – Convert to Smart Object

3. Magic Wand/Lasso/Refine Edge – Merging of 2 photos

Sounds tough? Yeah….it wasn’t really.

I learnt a lot though, never knew the adjustment layers on the right side were different from that on the taskbar. And it’s so much better now that I know! I won’t always have to worry about saving it in so many different files just because the levels or curves are a little different from the last edit.

So basically, the adjustment layers on the right, usually above the layers option, allows the user to change the levels, curves, colors, saturation and whatnot, with the EXCEPTION of changing it permanently, or so we call ‘destructible editing’.


By clicking on it, for example ‘levels’, changing the levels of the background photo will create a new layer that has only the affected photo, therefore the background photo is untouched, and if the user wishes to revert back he/she can just delete the layer.

Sounds cool?? YEAH I THINK SO TOO.

Well it works for all the options you can see there. Such as Curves, Saturation, Color Balance and more… And the technique works for more others as well, as long as it’s a new layer, it’s editable/revertible. Love it. So much more convenient.

Apart from that, we learnt the idea of converting the photo into a Smart Object, where it becomes non-destructible, and therefore the changes non-permanent.

From the layer’s taskbar, right-clicking on the layer will provide the user with a “convert to smart object” option, and by clicking on it, any editing or zooming in/out will not render the pixels damaged. This often happens to many using photoshop and once the pixels are damaged the image becomes blurred and is no longer in its best condition. Useful!

 

Finally, the usage of magic wand or lasso or magnetic pen was the most useful in my opinion. It makes merging of 2 photos into one super easy! I’ve always wanted to copy and paste myself into the photos of celebrities to make myself look like I was there. Now I can do it! 🙂

Lasso was the hardest to use I gathered. Your hand had to be really steady (without usage of a stylus pen) and it’s hard to gauge. Magnetic lasso is much better, it gives you points to click on and it automatically detects for you the outline. One con is that it tends to give you a more edgy/sharp/pointy outline. Then there’s the pen tool, which is kind of like magnetic lasso as well, but one bonus is that it allows you to create curves, kind of like illustrator, therefore creating a much smoother outline.

Magic wand/Quick selection tool is by far the best, it automatically detects the difference in colors and helps you gauge the outline. If the area outlined is too much, there’s also an option to minus off just the area you do not want outlined. To make sure the area is approved by the user, he/she can also click on the Quick Mask Mode, where the area NOT outlined will be shaded in red, and any areas that the user wants to erase, he/she can just paint it with the paintbrush (in black, but will turn out red on the quick mask area), and tadah, the outline is edited.

Another form of editing the outline is to click on ‘Refine Edge’ where there’s options like radius, feather, smoothness, contrast and more that can smoothen out the edges of the outline giving it a more realistic cut. After editing the outline and approving of it, the user can then copy and paste the new cut/layer into a new background and edit it from there. And tadah a new merged collage/montage is formed!

All the techniques will be of super great help to my 3rd assignment. So here I’ll go off to look for more inspirations for the assignment.  🙂

Class Exercise 3: Digital Collage/Montage in the Digital Age

During lecture today, we learnt the difference between digital collage and montage, and had many examples shown to us from Jing. I personally liked collages more before I had any major exposure to it, perhaps its the idea of the rugged edges the idea of detachment the idea that you know it’s not a single photo that captured my attention. Many examples were shown to us to teach us how it’s possible to create collages/montages to form a certain aesthetic feel.

We were then given a class exercise to do: find artist(s) that we liked and explain why.

Previously I liked collages more but after googling more of the artists’ works I found that I’m slowly inclining towards montages instead. I love the ‘realism’ within the artpiece yet there’s something so grotesque about it that makes you stop and stare.

Such as Man Ray’s work.

I’m especially fascinated by his photographs actually, and his ‘rayographs’. Love his influences of Dadaism & Surrealism. Awesome works.

This piece by Scott Mutter distracted me by awhile too. Awesomely fantastic.

Besides montages, I liked Julien’s Pacaud’s works as well.He has this comedic effect that estranges the subjects in the artwork but makes it look realistic somehow. And I love how there’s ‘more than meets the eye’ kind of feel to his works. And it’s so urban fantasy as well. Ooh inspirational much?

Well besides Julien Pacaud, Yutaka Inagawa has this piece that’s really nice too. His works are like “gripping urban nightmares, but also emphasizing the cutting grotesque beauty within them”.

Can read more about it here: http://www.theglassmagazine.com/forum/feature.asp?tid=180#title

and this piece by Hannah Hoch is so pretty I had to post it up here. I realise I’m quite fascinated by colorful things, and really weird juxtaposition.

And finally, here’s one more by Jeff Wall which I really like.

Overall I think I still am a big fan of Julien Pacaud’s works, which I think perhaps half of the world is too. But his works are simply too amazing not to like.

Can’t decide to go for montage or collage for Assignment 3. DILEMMA. 😦
Shall see!