Friday, April 23, 2010

First Arrival!

My experiences in trying to find my place in a metropolis.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


After conducting my interview with Toni Montes of F451 Arquitectura, I started to take my general ideas and storyboards about what the project was to be about and start to really get into the details of scene progression, shots I wanted to include for specific effect, and what I would be saying in each video. I considered doing everything in Catalan and putting subtitles, but I think I am going to have to table that idea for now, perhaps it will make a director's cut in the future though.
To do this I took a general layout that I had in mind, (consisting of only a few words and phrases that gave a general idea of the video) and from this I constructed a written document of what I wanted the video to say. As I wrote this document, I had in mind several images and clips that I knew would go well with what I was saying, so I added a thumbnail, note, or sketch of that image to the document where I thought it would best fit. After doing this with all three topics, I am now beginning to fill in the gaps and restructure the document as needed.

Each paper was a bit different as in each video I will be trying a slightly different approach, using different techniques to relate my experiences.

In the Culture video which is about the contrast of living in a metropolis such as Barcelona with finding areas of solitude within the city I plan to use a lot of the sounds I've recorded of both types of environment as backdrop sounds for the movie. I thought that I would let the activity and the spaces speak for themselves more to create a sense of the place, only adding my own analysis when necessary. Main highlights of this video include mastering public transportation (contrasted with hitch-hiking in northern Catalunya), checking out Barcelona's parks, how I grew to love an urban lifestyle, and how i changed my itenerary from trying to see everything in Europe to really getting to know a few unique areas.

Much of my ideas for the professional video evolved from what I gleaned from my interview. In the half hour interview I only had to ask four questions, as Toni was a well of information and really worked with me, the interviewer to make what he was saying relevant and useful to the project. This video will therefore be centered around the interview along with my experience working as an architect (although it wasn't technically a real project) in such an architecturally forthcoming and cutting edge area as the "22@" district in Barcelona.

In the third video I will discuss the idea of the Catalan identity and the people's desire for an entirely autonomous state, separate from Madrid. This video contains more commentary of my reactions to certain things I saw and perceptions of the place and the issue that I now have because of my experience living here. I feel as if I have a lot of strong visual evidence for this project, while in the first project I have strong audio evidence, and in the second a lot of personnel experience.

In this way I hope to explore the gamut of techn
iques that we have learned over the course of the semester. I am glad to have been given such a wide range of techniques, as the subjects of which my videos cover require different methods for relaying what I want to say about each one. I will be posting the most recent (I don't want to say "final" as I am big believer in making changes all the way through the final production of a project) editions of the storyboard shortly, but I will leave you with a shot of my view for the afternoon:

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Welcome Back to the Interwebs, Michael

So it's been about two weeks since my last post, and boy, am I glad to be getting back to the blogs today. We had our studio final presentation a few days ago, so I have been living the life an architect (no sleep, caffein, long nights, lots of drawing, and... no sleep) which is something that although I strangely enjoy, eventually wears me out. At any rate here's some of the work I've done this semester if anyone out there is interested.

But now that I've made it through the other 16 hours of coursework that I decided to undertake on top of being thrown into a completely new cultural and living environment thousands of miles from home, I'm excited to get to the fun stuff: blogging about my experiences, so look for a lot of stuff coming your way, CLAMers as I try to put 5 months into 3 short videos. To start off however, I'd like to do a little something I call Rhetorical Analysis Part II. Rather than analyzing images I've found, I would instead like to analyze a few of the visuals that I myself, along with the help of my partner, produced for the semester long project we designed.

First up is a final rendering that I produced in Rhino, a 3D modeling program, and then edited in Adobe Photoshop.
I was really glad of the lessons that I learned from the CLAM class and of the fact that I was able to incorporate so much of what I have learned into this document. The first step in making this picture was choosing the view from which to capture the rendering of the building which I designed. The program works just like a virtual camera, giving me options of lens size, zooming capabilities, and where to aim the camera. I was also able to incorporate lighting elements and what to include in the frame. These decisions all factored into what I was able to relay about the design of the building in one image. By making these decisions I was given a great deal of control over the information relayed to the viewers, or to the jury as it was in this case. I then manipulated pictures of my friends to incorporate into the image with Photoshop to bring the space to life and relay to the jury what the intended use of the space was. Here I incorporated what I learned about composition of digital photography, making visual lines of sight from the foreground and background through composition. Using the rule of thirds, emphasis is placed on areas that I want the judges attention to be focused upon. By using differently scaled people in different places I was able to generate a better sense of the size and character of the space. This image gives the jury a much better idea of the realization of the building than a schematic diagrams might.

In addition to the renderings of the building, I was able to incorporate what I have learned of rhetoric into the layout and design of the final boards (1 of 3 shown above). From what I learned of RGB and CMYK color theory I was able to choose a visually complimentary color scheme for the project that helped give a sense of cohesion between each drawing and graphic. As this was a competition, grabbing the judges attention visually was a huge component of the competition. The mix of diagrams, renderings, sections and plans, might be confusing were it not for the cohesiveness given by the graphic styles incorporated in the board. The layout was also greatly considered, set up in a way that moves the eye down and across the board from rendering, to diagram, to scheme in a fluid manner.

Lastly, we created a graphic logo for our project. Though it is quite simple, it is effective at relaying the overall concept of the project and is much more complex graphically than it may first appear. The graphic is seen below:
The driving concept of the project was the idea of creating an architecture based on one's visual perception. We therefore named the project FOCUS, an acronym which stood for Focusing Optics to Create Urban Spaces. The project uses a series of vertical panels that vary in size and gap between panels. We therefore used the same idea in the design of the logo. The offsetting of the letters with the vertical lines creates a shift in focus that creates that same sensibility that drove the project design. The letters and the vertical lines seem to separate, each tugging at the attention of the viewer. The letters do this with their bold solid forms while the delicate lines create a void space to achieve the same.

I'd love some comments from other CLAMers or any of my other followers about my rhetorical analysis of my own work, and whether or not I achieved the certain level of visual relationships that I was shooting for. Also any comments about the work itself are of course welcome.

This will be a busy week blogging for me so look for another update in a few hours on my progress for the final projects, but first I've got to go get some of that great Catalan cuisine!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Interviewing Strtegies

I am really glad that I had a chance to watch this week's segments before trying to conduct my interview. When it comes to a lot of things, I am more prone to try to 'wing it' rather than to develop a detailed plan. I will of course have a basic outline planned in my head, however rarely do I work with a written outline. That's just always been the way I have worked. But after watching the filmlab videos, I now realize the importance of having my questions written out and a clear direction for the interview. I had a vision of how the interview might have gone had I gone in like I had planned with just a general idea of what I wanted to know and it was a scary one, filled with me awkwardly scrambling for something relevant to ask, and the interviewee becoming increasingly annoyed. Anyways I now have a plan and am glad for it.

For the professional video I will be interviewing Toni Montes of F451 Arquitectura. In my experience in architecture school, he is the individual from whom I feel I have learned the
most. For the interview I plan to conduct it in our studio. In the storyboard sketch I have done, I have models, sketches, and projects that we have produced here this semester in the background of the shot. I am still working on the types of questions that I am going to ask him, and the direction that I want the interview to take. A second interview that I will be using in my films will be with Clemson alum and former Barcelona architecture student Sarah Moore, who is now living here in Catalunya. I will be asking her about her experience with the people of the region and their sense of independence and how they feel about the region's relationship with the Spanish government. Many of the people here do not feel that the Spanish Parliament nor monarchy have any right to governance of the region and wish to become completely independent. As Sarah is living here and learning the language, I am interested to learn what she has experienced her, as well as to catch up with an old friend. For the setting of this interview I am planning something informal and typical for the region, most likely a small cafe on one of the back streets that I've found. I'm hoping to hammer out these questions this week and get to interviewing by the weekend!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Switzerland Video

Just took a trip to do some hiking in the Alps. Didn't plan as having as much snow, but was great anyway! Hopefully you can get a good understanding of how the trip went based on only the video, but i'll update a bit later with some reflections. Also, kind of played around with a few of the effects, although i've never been a huge fan of mixing more than two or three in the same video.... But I got familiar with extracting audio from videos and then using that audio overlayed with other clips. Hope you guys enjoy!