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Thoughts on’ interopability’ for Video and Sound

Hi all. Here’s some thoughts I thought I’d share.

Lately I’ve been reviewing some new software for one of the magazines I write for. In particular looking at the new Adobe Production Suite – Premiere pro (video editing) , After Effects (animation & fx), Audition (multitrack recording), Encore (DVD authoring), Photoshop and Illustrator (graphics). Whilst there isn’t that much new about the applications themselves the fusion between them in this new bundle is spectacular as project files can be shifted between applications and directly reference media across applications.

All this got me thinking about the future of media production generally where the production process is not made of discreet units – perform, shoot, edit, render, compose, record, arrange, mix, master – but rather is one continuous fusion. Subsequently the roles of future artists will be far less confined to a specific mode or position or even creative form. People new to media production tend to take it for granted but believe me when I say the idea of mixing and arranging your music score at the same time as cutting your video, whilst having the DVD menu knocked up in the background and recording a voicer over all on the same system in the same room in a mostly simultaneous way is an absolutely foreign concept to those of us that learned under a traditional hierarchical and linear production model.

And following on from this, young people that grow up with this new thinking as the default mode will have a fundamentally different perspective on what ART is…? As educational theorist Marc Prensky saids the divide between digital natives and digital immigrants will only get wider… Is it not likely that 10 years from now, someone referring to making media art, of any flavour, will be heard to speak with a very thick and foreign accent if they talk in traditional linear, hierarchical and specialised terms…?

A large amount of this from a technical end is already starting to happen and it’s very exciting (for nerds like me anyway) but I find the prospect of how it will change how young people think about art and creativity itself, even more exciting.

From a technical end its just making the work process completely flexible so anything and everything can be edited and changed at any time and any stage of the process. We do away with these ideas of (as they say in film production ) Locking Picture, meaning ‘no more editing, we’re working on the sound mix now, no more changes’.

But that’s just the technical end, the shallow end of the pool… Binary Semantics. What’s more interesting is that to the digital native, the idea of ‘No more changes’ is just absurd, it doesn’t make sense, its completely at odds with their techno-cultural perception of the world.

To the digital native, EVERYTHING is ALWAYS changeable, It’s not what the technology ‘allows’ but rather what the technology IS – from the song order on an album (with an mp3 player there’s no such thing as a song order – there’s almost no such thing as an album), thru to “gee I love the snare drum sound on that Kylie Minogue track, I’m going to sample it and chop into this bass line I’ve cut out and pitch-shifted from Johnny Cash number” or “I’ve taken the ‘Duck and Cover’ paranoia commercial from the 50’s cause it I think it’s hilarious and I’ve intercut it with my own video of my brother playing under the table and put a sound track to it that uses my piano playing with a break beat and vocal samples of Bert the Turtle singing….”

AND THEN… I hand all this over to someone in Outer Mongolia and they re-cut it into something else again….

Our 20th century perception of creative art is as something that is fixed, finished and complete. But the 21st century perception of art (and subsequently the way young people will forever view art and creativity) is as something that is Never complete, something that can Always change and moreover something that they Themselves can proactively change.

And that’s the real reason I get excited by the simple idea of being able to throw project files around from application to application and having a more parallel, rather than linear, production process on the different elements, both aural and visual, in a project….. that simple technical evolution changes how we view and engage with art forever…

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BurnStation is a cool new art project meets Copyleft . . . . .

BURN STATION is a mobile copying station which – as it travels through suburban spaces – supports the free distribution music and audio. It is software as well as a local network. But above all BURN STATION is a social event which congregates people together to listen, select and copy net label and net radio audio files with a Copyleft Licence. BURN STATION is an open source and a non-commercial project involving the new means of free networked distribution. It is based on the BURN STATION software which was developed by Platoniq and Rama as a 100% Free software. BURN STATION aims to establish links between the media space and the physical space of the city.

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marc prensky in Australia Mar 3, 2006

2006 National Seminars – Transforming Learning through ICT
Seminar 1 – Delivering 21 st Century tools, learning and skills

This is the first in a series of two seminars for educational leaders involved in technology and learning through the use of the Internet.

Keynote speaker: Marc Prensky, the founder of Games2train, designer and builder of over 50 software games, and author of the critically acclaimed Digital Game-Based Learning and the upcoming Don’t Bother Me, Mom – I’m Learning!.

Marc’s professional focus has been on reinventing the learning process, combining the motivation of video games and other highly engaging activities with the content of education and business. He is considered one of the world’s leading experts on the connection between games and learning.

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ACMI First Person / Digital Storytelling Conference (part two)

Day Two highlights included the comprehensive presentation by the capture wales crew in the first session and the truly wonderful local work being carried out in regional australia by Malcolm McKinnon.

Capture Wales

The BBC supported capture wales project is now quite mature, having recently passed the milestone point at which more content comes in unsolicited than is produced through the project workshops. This represents a significant statement in terms of demand and sustainability. I believe it would be difficult to reproduce this success without the weight and resources of BBC Wales delivering expertise, production and distribution power, however, it remains at its core, a community centred practise. It’s clearly stated purpose is encouraging and acknowledging diverse voices. It provides a fascinating model aiming to change the balance of power between ther broadcaster and the broadcasted.

The capture walse crew have developed their own approaches based on the Berkeley model which is made quite explicit at

Malcolm is really a community artist who spends significant time in rural and regional communities esp Vic and Sth Aus and has also worked with numerous cultural institutions including many museums. He also works with communities including indigenous to produce beautiful films – again, first person narratives.

Malcolm’s presentation explored notions of places that talk, charting unsignposted local knowledge, artefacts as powerful triggers for untapping residues of memory, and opening up the many narratives which define the history of any place. Through his community filmmaking he seeks to bring forward ‘authentic, idiosyncratic stories’, to acknowledge and celebrate the past in a truthful and useful way. Very excellent.

Check out the MP3 audio files. The best bits (IMHO) of the conference only made available in this place.

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ACMI / First Person Conference Audio

Pete has kindly uploaded his audio recordings of some of the sessions.

Feb 3 – 600pm Joe Lambert
Feb 4 – 1115 am John Hartley
Feb 4 – 1115am Ana Serrano
Feb 5 – 900am Capture Wales (fixed)
Feb 5 – 1115am Malcolm McKinnon

AV Related Copyright/OCL

Sampling 101

A very simple and easy introduction to the issues around sampling in music/art. Some great comments by Matmos and Lessig, QBert etc.

Very watchable.

AV Related Digital storytelling Interactive Media

ACMI First Person Conference / Digital Storytelling (part one)

ACMI’s Digital Storytelling conference was a bit hit and miss. Pete will need to give you the run down on day two but here’s some thoughts on day one.

The opening plenary from civil rights activist John O’Neal was no doubt honourable but seemed quite tangential to a conference on ‘digital storytelling’ – especially when John told us, 10 minutes from the end, that he’d only recently made ONE digital story himself, and that was as a participant. There was also an audience singalong that was so 60s and repulsive. It reminded me why I liked punk (although strangely now I listen to will happily listen to free folk – a good selection of Finnish free folk was obtained on the journey from my favourite Australian record store Synaesthesia). If it wasn’t the 60s I was reminded of, it was Hillsong. I had really been hoping that O’Neal, having worked a lot in New Orleans might have actually had something to say about the Smithsonian’s Katrina Maps project . . . but alas.

Ok maybe that’s a bit harsh, but digital storytelling HAS to be something more than 70s style community cultural development (CCD) + video + ‘the internet’.

Fortunately things improved – the next session was fantastic. Opening with an excellent run down of old and new models for TV, the speakers engaged with theory, and demonstrated some amazing projects with more than just CCD outcomes.

Daniel Meadows from the BBC’s Capture Wales project introduced the best session of the conference on ‘broadcast convergence – new forms of storytelling’.

John Hartley from QUT offered an insightful look back at the last 50 years of TV and then projected 50 years forwards, exploring the issues and opportunities created by new media, interactivity, and pro-sumer audiences.

Ana Serrano from Canada’s fantastic Habitat labs took us through some amazing interactive media work produced by her Habitat teams.

Some of those she talked about were –

  • Mumur – a locative media project with community audio stories on demand
  • Zed TV – audience driven content and programming for TV
  • Pax Warrior – an amazing interactive documentary project for teens where the players research choices within a game engine set in Rwanda working for the UN brokering peace between the Hutus and Tutsis.
  • Things Left Unsaid – a interactive project as yet unreleased where players particapte in a mobile phone video confessional interactive story
  • Ride on animals with heads-up display video for young children networked together
  • Seedcollective – a group who plant digital forests in public spaces with players interacting with mobiles
  • Paul Vincent from SBS TV was up next talking about the online projects related to their broadcast output. These included –

  • Swapping Lives – a 50 minute documentary about an Indonesion and Australian teenager who swapped lives for a month armed with a video camera. The online site which has 17 hours of footage available.
  • Strait Up – supplemenatry site for the Remote Area Nurse series featuring community stories from the Torres Strait.
  • Sum Of Our Parts – 3 part family stories created by family members then screened to each other. Filmed in a studio setting.
  • Freeload – coming very soon and promises to be the SBS equivalent of Zed TV
  • SBS revealed their site gets 500,000 unique visits per month although it was hard to work out whether this was overall or for specific projects. Either way it seems either very low or high . . . . anyone? Also, they are bedding down Flash Video as a standard for video delivery.

    In the next session was spoilt by the very annoying Chris Crawford (who admits to not playing computer games in the last 15 years – you would think this would disqualify him from answering questions about MMORPGs and The Sims . . but no!).

    But in amongst the guff there was a fantasic presentation by David Vadvideloo who developed the UsMob project with the ABC. UsMob is an amazing interactive storytelling project a little bit like a Choose Your Own Adventure. Developed specificially with indigenous communities in Central Australia and in response to the communities’ own requests for culturally relevant online content for indigenous children and community problems around substance abuse and the long term impact of particular ‘choices’.

    UsMob is a great example of a meaningful storytelling project that is similar in some way to the work of Enda Murray and others in Redfern in terms of collaborative story telling and film creation, but then extended to another level by involving the audience in the project as well through the online elements.

    Pete has some sessions recorded and we will link them through . . . .

    AV Related Copyright/OCL Interactive Media

    DIY culture

    Nice summary of points from one of the speakers at a recent ICA event.

    * The concepts of a ‘mainstream’ and an ‘underground’ are laid to rest by networked culture. There are only open and closed networks. Everything is flat.
    * Top down control structures (like major labels) are unable to assure quality control in the same way bottom up structures can. In networked culture, quality bubbles up from the bottom, and the role of large entities (like major record labels) as arbiters of taste is undermined as a result.
    * Collaborative filtering in trust-based networks is the way in which networked culture will deal with information overload.
    * The printed press’ hallowed notion of ‘genre’ is under threat through the processes of user-generated metadata that describe Folksonomy.
    * The concept of DIY is less relevant to networked youth culture today as it was when we grew up (with movements like Hardcore). DIT – Do It Together – which finds it’s roots in the Open Source movement’s model of production, is a far more relevant paradigm today.
    * Bit-torrent is currently the most powerful distribution technology thrown up by the web.
    * DIY culture was always about control, from production through distribution, performance and promotion of cultural product. It enabled people to have control over the end-to-end process of communicating through cultural products. A network of trusted people could be used to oversee all aspects of production/distribution/retail.
    * DRM – Digital Rights Management – is a survivalist legal attempt from a desperate culture industry to preserve a revenue model (content ownership) which is at odds with a new medium for culture (digital networks).
    * The new revenue model for cultural content in digital networks involves syndication of content with embedded, trackable advertising.

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    Kusama’s world of dots – qag

    This is so simple but good!

    Interactive for Kids!
    Coinciding with ‘Made for this World’, the Gallery launches an online interactive based on exhibiting artist Yayoi Kusama’s fascination with dots. Click to play!

    AV Related General Interactive Media

    TV Art – Misbehaving TVs!

    Check this great art project.

    OiTV is a television set that occasionally misbehaves. Sometimes it autonomously changes the channels, other times it moves or rotates the image out of its screen. Glitches and lapses in time occur as much as playback of the live broadcasted content being slowed down, fast forwarded or rewind.

    How do you treat a domestic object that doesn’t quite do what you want it to do? Does adjusting the antenna help, or possibly moving or tilting the object? Is hitting the TV in good old-fashioned manner the way to go or do you rather stroke it gently?

    OiTV explores user behaviours outside the realm of prescriptive manuals. It does not fulfil the common aspiration for the perfectly working product / technology. Its erroneous and comical behaviour rather tempts you to build up a more individual and possibly even affectionate relationship with a domestic object charged with character and attitude.