Lorne

Lorne tells the animated story I created to depict the loneliness and depressing effects of being orphaned. The collection of picture frames show the few short memories Lorne has in his life, inviting the viewers to look at his life closely.

Lorne

Lorne, previously named Cal, was born while I was taking a psychology class in college about relationships between mothers and babies. Cal was left alone, buried in a sketch somewhere, for a few years. I knew I wanted to do an installation using projection mapping this semester, and thought he might be perfect for this project. In preparing for this project, I had to do a lot of research about the psychology of abandoned children, and the effects that living in institutions have on them.

First, I started off by creating storyboards for the picture frames I wanted to display the videos in. The storyboards are short because I wanted the videos to be short. By creating short videos, I wanted the viewers to feel a sense of brokenness and disjointedness from Lorne’s memories. There are three storyboards for three of the picture frames. The fourth frame shows a school-picture-day portrait of Lorne, while the last frame shows Lorne’s narrative on a loop.

After the storyboards, I began putting together the frames that will be used in the installation. I wanted the picture frames to all be different, in size, shape, and look, but I wanted all of the frames to match. So, I painted them all with a base-layer of white, then I painted a layer of umber, and a final layer of white. Lastly, to finish up, I sanded the frames down so that they looked like they were very old, and the colors were starting to strip off.

The animation consists of a few steps. First, I chose a background for the animations. To do this, I found royalty-free images that I thought would be believable for Lorne’s environments. Once, I’ve decided on the backgrounds, I treated them with filters and color corrected them to fit the mood. Next, I composited on top of the backgrounds, frame-by-frame hand-drawn animations of Lorne. Lastly, I created a series of hand-crafted vignettes. This process is done so that I have several to choose from when compiling the animation, but also this allows me to animate them in the video.

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Finally, with everything completed Lorne was ready to be installed for The Major Major show. Overall, I am satisfied with the outcomes of Lorne. I invested a lot of time and effort into creating this project, and I believe that it shows through the piece. One of the feedback I got during The Major Major show was from Justin Bakse, who said that Lorne felt like one of the most polished projects that was shown, and that there was a level of sophistication in the piece that others lacked. In conjunction with that, I feel that the project was able to connect with viewers emotionally the way I had intended. Many people felt sad or touched by Lorne during and after viewing it. When I created Lorne, I wanted people to think about the issue of orphaned children on a deeper level, and to connect emotionally with Lorne. During the show, I spoke with one attendee who said they had never really thought about how serious the issue was even though they knew about it.

Going further with Lorne, I would like to expand it, both with its physical form and in content. Prior to finishing the project, a colleague of mine, Cat Schmitz, had suggested I include symptoms of abandonment that may not be so obvious. Though that was something that I would have liked to explore, there was not enough time to do it this time around. In addition to that, I spoke with another Design and Technology professor, Ernesto Klar, who suggested that I install the frames in a much bigger space—to not only have a small panel’s worth of frames, but to cover an entire room with them. To do something on that scale, I could continue with the fragmented depictions of the character, but also include other characters, and as mentioned before, more information about the topic.

Though I really enjoyed creating Lorne, I am unsure now whether this is something I want to continue working on. Psychology is such a big topic that many professionals spend years studying, and it is not something I am even close to capable of articulating. To continue with this, I am not sure I possess the ability to convey the message correctly. However, working on this project, I feel a different side of myself emerging. This project, amongst other events, has inspired me to work on projects in the future that are somehow connected to children’s well-being.

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140: 4/20/17 Update

140 is a video installation that metaphorically depicts the psychological effects that orphanages and institutions have on orphaned children to teach viewers about the magnitude of this issue.

Last update, I decided to go with the the picture-frame installation. Since then, I have worked on more aesthetic prototypes, treating picture frames, and doing animations. Additionally, I have also started doing some user test with classmates and peers. Overall, it has been a pretty productive couple of weeks for me.

For the user test, I have set up my picture frames in the space that I would need for the Major Major show. The pictures below show the setup of the frames. They are hanging on the glass paneled walls in D1202. I chose this space because it is the only room on D12 that does not have any windows, preventing light obstruction on the projection.  Secondly, the glass panels allows me to easily hang the picture frames without having to build a structure to suspend them. The glass panels also allows me to back project or front project into the frames depending on which ever one ends up working better. I am still in the process of figuring this out.

After setting up the frames, and figuring out how to use the projection-mapping software, I asked some peers to user test for me. The first feedback I got was that the way I had set up my projector was not working for the piece. I already knew this was going to be the case. I am working on finishing the video edits soon so that I can start working on projector positioning and projection mapping. Another feedback I got was that the imagery is working well for the topic and the design choices were good for the mood. One person, however, did say that they felt like the imagery alone did not feel sad enough, and had suggested adding sound effects to the installation. I am weary about adding sound to the installation at this point. If I am sharing a room with other installations, or using the hallway as viewing space, I am afraid I will lose the sound anyways. Sound effects was a good suggestion and definitely an important aspect of video work, but I do not want to rely on it in case sound cannot be heard during the show.

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Next is the animations. After the pre-candidacy review critique I received from the class, I immediately went back and changed the animations on the main character, Lorne. Below is a video of all of the animated loops of Lorne that will be composited onto the environment that Lorne inhabits. There will be three picture frames that will show Lorne in the orphanage environment. One of the frames will just display a picture of Lorne, as if it were a school picture.

Originally I had wanted to do four animated videos. However, after some deliberation, I have decided to use one of the frames in the installation to display some important bulleted information about the issue I am talking about. I feel that this topic is too dense and meaty for the viewer to fully grasp without having some context to put the imagery to. Because of my innate desire to create abstract artworks, without some text to explain the piece, I feel the message will be lost.

My next step is to start editing the videos and compiling the full videos in the frames. There are a few steps to this process. First, I have to collect royalty-free images to use as the backgrounds of the pictures frames. These settings include the front of the orphanage, Lorne’s room, and a general common living space in the orphanage. After I have collected all of the images, I will then treat them, just like the picture frames, but digitally in this case. Once I feel that the look and mood of the images fits the mood of the piece, I will composite the animations on top.

Lastly, I overlay the entire video with handmade vignettes I have created. This is done to give the videos a vintagey feel- like in old movies where the footage are vignetted from the projectors. I have also created a series of vignettes to be used in the video. I do this for two reasons, one is so that I have several different ones to choose from. Second, so I can animate the vignettes themselves. This is a method I have employed before, and I find that by doing this, it gives the video an eerie/creepy feel.

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When I have finished the edits, I will start to play with setting the installation up in the physical space, and to figure out how to use the projection mapping software. At this rate, I have scheduled for myself to be done with everything a week before the Major Major show. This will give me enough time to do any last minute changes to the installation without feeling rushed. This also allows me to deal with any complications that I might have not predicted.

Week 10: 140

After presenting the proposal for 140 for our midterm proposal presentation, I was told that I had to decide between which prototypes I wanted to continue working on. Having reflected on the feedback I received, I decided to go with the picture frame video installation. My decision was made based a few reasons. The first being that I am not sure that my coding skills are refined enough to be able to complete a project to the level of sophistication I would like this project to be. This is a big topic I am working on, and I do not want my novice-level coding skills to be what sinks the project. I only have four weeks left to complete 140, and I do not want to waste any of that time trying to understand the technical aspect of the project.

Secondly, I agree with Joseph’s comment that the first two prototypes (picture frame and orphanage structure) would be more “compelling” in delivering my message. I chose the picture frames because I feel that I have more options in regards to video placement and contents with the frames, whereas there would be too much constraint in the orphanage building. With the picture frames, I have more freedom to experiment with how I want to position the frames, and what is shown within the frames. Lastly, considering that the character is amnesiac, it is the perfect opportunity to tie into the storyline the symbolic connotation of a picture frame. Picture frames are used to store memories, but the installation will show disjointed and broken videos, symbolizing what is left of the characters own memories.

There is a reason I keep referring to Cal as “the character”. I have decided to change his name. “Cal” is a meaningless name in this project. I want my character to have a name that is symbolic of his character. Having made that decision, I started researching names that meant “lost”, “abandoned”, or “broken”. (This is was not an task.) I settled on the name Lorne which is an English meaning forsaken, deserted, or abandoned. By changing his name, I think it will give more meaning to the character as a whole.

This week, I brought in aesthetics prototypes to share with the group. The videos in each of the frames will have a realistic background made from real-life pictures I have found. I have treated the backgrounds with multiple layers of filters and effects to evoke a vintage-like feeling. There will be three or four different backgrounds, however, given the time constraint, I do not believe I will have enough time to visit additional locations within the orphanage. On top of the realistic background, I will draw Brochan and composite him into the shot. Initially, because of time-management concerns, I wanted to use Photoshop and After Effects to animate him. I was not happy with the result. I decided to experiment with a hand-drawn version of Brochan. Unfortunately, I was much happier with this look. Though I will have to spend a lot more time on the animation, I think given the style I am aiming for, I think I will be okay for time.

Along with the style sheets, I also worked on three storyboards for this week. These storybaords look short because they each only have at most eight scene, but that is because they are supposed to be short. Brochan is amnesiac, so what little memories he does have, are short and quick. So far, I have four stories planned for the frames. I think four is a reasonable number to accomplish in four weeks. If I do have a little extra time after I am done with the four planned, I would like to add one more frame to the installation.

My next steps are to make animatics and install the project for user testing.

Unseeable Maze

After having done a few iterations, and built upon the initial concepts that were developed with Ren, Jeana, and Ziqiang, I have decided to revisit a couple of key points we had brought up when we created The Paradox Room, and Misinterpretation. For both of these projects, we were focusing on how an environment can feed to the viewer information that were not always true (this does not necessarily mean that the information was false). This concept manifested in two ways: the first being that the viewer was given different pieces of texts within a room that they can only see if they were wearing certain types of glasses. The second form was that the viewer cannot fully study and understand an object present within a space, because of the way the lighting illuminated said object. We also wanted to explore the idea of a viewer not being in control of the space that they are in. In both of these spaces, the viewer cannot control how they are given information. That factor was decided for them before they entered the space. These concepts led me to the question: how can I create an environment that a player can navigate through without seeing it for themselves? Unseeable Maze was created to answer the question.

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The Unseeable Maze was created by first drawing the layout in Adobe Illustrator, then laser cutting the maze out on plexiglass. I ran into some issues there, because I forgot about the fact that pieces needed to be connected to other pieces in order to stay together. Luckily I had another piece of plexiglass with me that I was able to glue the maze to.

In order to play the Unseeable Maze, the player needs to play with a partner. The two players sit on opposite sides of each other, with one blindfolded navigating through the maze. The “seeing” player has to give directions to the “blind” player that will guide them from the starting point to the end point. The difficulty with this task is that the directions given by the “seeing” player have to be in reverse given that the players are sitting on opposite sides of each other. Additionally, the “blind” player has to rely on the information they receive from the “seeing” player to accomplish their goal.

After doing some playtest, I figured out that what I thought was an elaborate maze, was actually not that difficult. Both times that the maze was played, it was completed in under two minutes. However, the feedback I received from the playtest was what I was hoping they would be. Aim, who was the “blind traveller”, said that she felt like she was not in control and that she really had to trust her “seeing guide”. Though she said that she was okay with this, because she did not have to think about what she was doing and she could just go with the flow.

My next steps for this project would be to make the maze a bit more difficult. I would ideally like to implement a lighting system on the maze, kind of like the one we had in Misinterpretation. So, what I would do is to enclose the maze in a space, as if the player was actually in a dark room. Within the room, there would be a light that would fade on, and fade out. This means that the “seeing guide” can read some of the information of the maze, but only for a set amount of time. At the current stage, I feel that the Unseeable Maze partially answers my design question. The “blind traveller” is unable to see, so they are relying heavily on the guide. However, the guide is not yet hindered by the space that they are in. Their only difficulty at the moment is trying to give the correct directions to get the traveller from the starting point to the end point. So, I feel that to implement the lighting system, both players lose their control of the space that they are playing in.

Week 05 Assessment

1. In Major Studio 2 I feel that I am making the most progress with:

I think I am making the most progress with thinking about how to think about topics through an argumentative perspective. 

2. I need more assistance with:
 
In getting my thoughts and ideas together to be conveyed more cohesively.

3. Finish this sentence; This semester, the first 5 weeks of Major Studio 2 have taught me….
 
many new vocabulary words and new ways of thinking about things.

4. Comments on the studio? What is working or not working for you?
 
I like that we went through the first few projects so quickly. I did not enjoy all of the group projects so much. It will be nice for us to be able to have extra time to work our finals and make the best projects we can.