Story Board Reflection – Life of an Audio File – [BCM240]

Our digital story telling project explains the interesting life of an audio file. From its creation shaped by the knowledge and expertise of live musicians, to its continuous lifespan amongst mobile audiences, the life of an audio file remains infinite and its journey can’t be predicted. The aim of our project was to highlight the relevance of a digital audio file and the effects that digital technologies have had on participation amongst mobile audiences. Using footage that we captured in both public and private spaces, we aimed to share our interpretation of the life of an audio file.

The most engaging part of the project was shooting the footage we required. Having some experience with video recording from other media arts subjects throughout our degrees we knew the challenges involved. From setting up shots in densely populated traffic areas, to even the simplest of shots taken at the beach, the challenges of video production often threw us a ‘curve ball’.

A large part of our aspirations to complete the project grew from our combined love of music. As our project required us filming live musicians and recording their work we had to seek permission from their label to use the recorded content. Being given the chance to work along two of Sydney’s most talented musicians was a very rewarding experience.

As we were trying to conceptualise the digital story we struggled at times to really understand the task at hand. We had numerous ideas that we considered before “Life of an Audio File” none of which fell into the sub categories we have been studying for the last 13 weeks. After numerous group meetings we settled on the topic of ‘Mobile Audiences’ and set about creating a video that captured the power of convergent mobile devices and how these technologies have transcended both public and private spaces. At times our project felt that it lacked a sense of direction, which created tension within our group. However after many hours of finalising our quote lists, capturing our media content (both physically and digitally) the distance gap continued to shorten and our excitement to complete the project grew.

As a team, our motivations to produce a creative and compelling video were very strong. We each had our own ideas about the direction of the project and with the help of regular group meetings, those ideas become realities. By choosing layouts for each shot, typography and video effects the project felt like a seamless experience. Each group member’s area of expertise was invaluable to the project.

Ash with his technical wizardry skills to record live audio, Meaghan with her unique faculty to extract research material vital to the formation of the project and my own skills using Final Cut Pro to cut together the footage we all recorded throughout the semester, combined to create a project we are all very proud to put our names to. It would also be remiss of us not to mention the support from both Kate and Stephanie throughout the project. When we were conceptualising our idea, we knew we had to complete the project after a strong swell of support from both staff and students.

The most puzzling part of the project was coordinating ourselves as a group. Being mature age students with busy lives, finding time to collectively get together was terribly challenging. However we each were very dedicated to the project and made the time to finalise our decisions.

As with many media projects technology issues are forever trying to break your determination. Since we were using Final Cut Pro to edit the assignment we knew we would face some faults during the rendering process. At times the long waiting periods of the dreaded ‘pin wheel of death’ felt almost exhausting though we knew that the final product would be something we are all very proud of.

After thirteen weeks of deciphering topics, researching media and examining the role that media plays within my own life I have come up with this conclusion. No matter how much I think I may know about an issue or topic, I have barely scratched the surface. Media is such an intrinsic part of our lives that to try and define it in thirteen weeks seems almost laughable. As technologies advance and we continue through the information age the ways in which we develop, learn and interact with media are frequently changing. The need for greater understanding into the concepts and theories of media creation will always remain a constant and vital aspect to the future development of media practices.

Luke Macdonald
2nd Year Media & Communication & Commerce Student @UOW
Majoring in Digital Communication & Marketing

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Reflection – [BCM240]

Across the first ten-week period of my Media, Audience & Place subject students were encouraged to post relevant pieces that were connected to the topic/s covered each week. This meant listening, researching and learning the materials on our own terms. Putting the onus on the student to further develop their understanding on how different media has impacted our relationships and behaviours as audiences over the space of time. Too some, this seemed like an arduous task. Having to blog on a weekly basis doesn’t seem like a constructive way to learn the course material. However, I am a big advocate of the blogging component of the course. Not only does it motivate you to find further relevant sources to add to your arguments it forces you to give an opinion and be interested. For those who had previously completed other BCM subjects, the course at times and the topics did feel a little too familiar yet, as someone who learns through the power of repetition revisiting the issues of copyright and media technologies further broadened my opinion and scope on the issue. As blogging creates and facilitates student interaction through commenting, the help of my peers and their own opinions on each week’s topic/s further improved my knowledge.

As a collective it would be fair to say that the engagement between students throughout the blogging period would be considerably low. At the start of the subject many were tweeting and commenting on each other’s blogs, some at great length. Towards the end of the task, as work loads from other subjects increased and involvement dropped off, the commenting component of the course became less of a tool for further engaging in the materials and more of a weekly chore. However, there were some students that saw this as an opportunity to discuss their thoughts on each week’s topics and also deliver praise to those who put in the effort to keep up with the materials each week.

I will be the first to admit that each week I have sat at my desk, starring blankly into my computer screen wondering what to write about. Do I write something that has some relevance to the topic, yet takes another the issue in a different direction? Should I write something informational? Something witty? Eventually my fingers hit the keyboard and I have found myself in the ‘long tail’ of the Internet. Searching through countless stories, journal articles and literature all relevant to this week’s topic/s. This exploration of the Internet is what makes blogging so beneficial to the BCM experience. Blogging allows students the chance to incorporate their own ideas and lifestyle into the topics to further create an understanding of the course materials. From discussing relevant examples of media past and present, students are actively engaged and communicating their thoughts, opinions and personal experiences. As convergent media platforms such as WordPress allow our student blogs to be seen by global audiences, I was pleased to discover just how far and wide my thoughts and opinions had travelled across the globe.

After reviewing my blogging statistics I was personally surprised by the amount of global attention my blog had received from countries in both Asia and Europe. As much as I would like to contribute this to my writing style I am certain that it has to do with a few key blogging components such as tagging relevant topics and categorising the related posts.

StatsThe image above further proves that although many of believe that we are only writing these blogs to either assist other students or pass the subject, our posts, through the power of the Internet are being read in the homes, schools, workplaces and universities across the globe. As a mature age student, to think that two years ago I was stuck in my nine to five job, hatting my life and now not only do I have a collective of supportive peers contributing to my work, I also have have people engaging in my opinions from all corners of the globe [sight exaggeration].

After nine weeks of deciphering topics, talking to others in my life about their experiences with media and examining the role that media plays within my own life I have come up with this conclusion. No matter how much I think I may know about an issue or topic, I have barely scratched the surface. Media is such an intrinsic part of our lives that to try and define it in nine weeks seems almost laughable. As technologies advance and we continue through the information age the ways in which we develop, learn and interact with media are frequently changing. The need for greater understanding into the concepts and theories of media creation will always remain a constant and vital aspect to the future development of media practices.

Luke Macdonald
2nd Year Media & Communication & Commerce Student @UOW
Majoring in Digital Communication & Marketing

Transcending Television: Public Media Screens – [BCM240]

As we continue to move forward through the information age and technologies become faster, smarter and cheaper to produce, so too does the number of public media screens that consume our attention on a daily basis. Everywhere you look, it seems as though, what was once just an activity confined to one room of a house or shop front, has now become a social norm amongst society.
Since the 1980s, the rollout of digital networks, the proliferation of mobile phones and the installation of large electronic screens in urban centres have created novel forms of mediated interaction within the public sphere (Maguire, 2009). From creative advertising to simplest forms of delivering information, public screens have fast become increasingly relevant amongst society. As I walk through the city centre of Wollongong, I am bombarded with screens all trying to capture my attention. From ads selling big and expensive high involvement products to even the smallest screens directing citizens to the nearest railway station. Public screens occupy each end of the spectrum.

It was interesting to note that although there were countless media screens bombarding my brain trying to cause a sensory overload, very few of them actually received my full attention. Although I have never visited the media screen spectacles of New York’s Time Square or Tokyo’s Shibuya, these two places typify how powerful media screens in public places can be. If you were to recount a list of landmarks that you wish to see in New York, Time Square with its monumental media displays would be as equally as high on the list as Madison Square Garden. These electronic screens have been used to extend and amplify the notion of the urban spectacle. We are all so immersed with content on televisions and media devices in our homes that we just accept that the spectacle will spill out into every aspect of our lives.

For some the proliferation of media screens throughout society can be seen to increase social engagement.

At present count my work place contains 42 television screens broadcasting a comprehensive array of sporting events, gambling advertising and club promotions. However, at 5:30pm Monday to Friday the main media screens are all tuned into one station to watch the Channel 9 game show, Millionaire Hotseat. Club members (mostly 55 to 90 year old males) gather around their tables enjoying a few brews after a hard days work to sit and analyse as a collective, which answer it could be. To some this could be seen as a very uninteresting aspect of work life however, the way in which each question stimulates social interaction and generates discussion about issues within the public sphere is a very interesting occurrence. At 6pm the news is shown, generating more debate and conjecture. In its simplest form this form of social interaction through public media screens, to those who are seeking social interaction at the last half of the ‘innings’ is priceless.

Here are a few example of media screens that I took around my workplace. As you can see the gambling industry has capitalised on the shift towards the proliferation of media screens and media content.

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Luke Macdonald
2nd Year Media & Communication & Commerce Student @UOW
Majoring in Digital Communication & Marketing

I’m Your F.A.N – [BCM240]

When you think about fan culture you are immediately drawn to remember those peers you went to high school with. The one’s that dressed up as their favourite characters, collected all the books, DVD’s and what ever remaining merchandise that had their favourite characters emblazoned upon it. Having been at high school from the early half of the ‘naughties’, I remember the biggest trend that drew a tremendous amount of fanfare was the Harry Potter craze. Students and staff alike were not only engaging in talking about the series, it had almost become a part of our curriculum.
Just as the Harry Potter obsession raged through my school, the history of fan culture has a long and interesting story. In particular the early nineteen seventies ‘doowop’ rock and roll era. For those of you who are unaware of what a fanzine is, it is a publication put together by fans of a particular interest.
Prutner explains, that at the beginning of the 1970’s the fanzines were created “to meet the needs of the fans of music that were not being expressed by mainstream media” (1997, pg.11). “They created the magazines because the real story of rock and roll wasn’t being told” (1997, pg.11). Again in the early 90’s grunge era, fans were creating their own publications to tell their stories about the artists and bands they admired.

Fast-forward to today’s current fan culture and you will find the same publications with one exception. They are now digital, with content strewn throughout blogs, Facebook fan pages, aggregated story telling domains and devoted fan websites. If there are dedicated fans, you can be assured to find related content on the Internet.
Pearson states “The digital revolution has had a profound impact upon fandom, empowering and disempowering, blurring the lines between producers and consumers, creating symbiotic relationships between powerful corporations and individual fans, and giving rise to new forms of cultural production” (2010, pg.84).

However, what the Internet giveth, the Internet taketh away”.
Jenkins reminds us “The differences between the ways corporations and fans understand the value of grassroots creativity has never been clearer”. As always at the heart of the debate is the economic value of fan works. Should the incredibly talented authors/illustrators and lovers of a particular show/film/artists have to pay royalties to the creators of the original works? After all these are adaptations of story lines created by someone else. As Jenkins points out in the article above, most fan fiction is “a labour of love; they operate in a gift economy and are given freely to other fans who share their passion for these characters”.

Until media industries begin to see the real value of user generated content, the debate about copyright and fan fiction is sure to be a point of great interest through many eras One Direction, Miley Cirus to come.

References

Pearson, R 2010, ‘Fandom in the Digital Era, Popular Communication: The International Journal of Media and Culture, Summons Database, viewed 5 September 2013.

Pruter, R 1997, ‘A history of Doowop fanzines’, Popular Music & Society, 21, 1, p. 11, Humanities International Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 5 September 2013.

Luke Macdonald
2nd Year Media & Communication & Commerce Student @UOW
Majoring in Digital Communication & Marketing

Are We ‘Friends’ ? – [BCM240]

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The other day as I was trawling through my social media empire I can across an interesting observation. As it currently stands I have just over 300 hundred friends followers Twitter (go me!). After some thought, I decided to look at some of my tweets to my gang of followers. It was the tweets to some of my fellow peers that sparked the most interesting reflection. After all these are people that I interact with on a weekly basis, yet the line of dialogue with most stops at the keyboard. We pass in the hallways, wait patiently out the front of lecture theatres and even share the same classes together and barely a word is spoken. Yet online we share witty remarks, favourite each other’s tweets and even share content with one another.

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It seems we are all comfortable to share our thoughts and opinions within the realms of digital space, yet we are cautious to do so person to person. I know that I am just as much to blame for the lack of upward communication so in no way am I taking issue with any of my fellow peers, I am just simply making an observation.

As a strong advocate of digital media and convergence this is a very interesting topic of discussion. Has social media inhibited our ability to communicate in the real world? Now I know this is a very broad statement and many of you will be sitting down reading this and promptly answering, “No, I have many friendships outside of social media”, however I urge you to consider and re ask yourself the question.

When asked about the impact that social media was having on our ability to comfort and interact face-to-face Dr Subrahmanyam proposed, “ I don’t think that youth are giving up face to face communication” (2010, pg.12). So is all this talk of ‘backwards communication’ regarding social media just a form of moral panic?

For every negative view of social media there is an equally opposing positive opinion. Just recently I came across a news story highlighting a study conducted in the USA about the negative effect and potentially life threatening dangers that social media and digital devices can have on us as a society. Now as someone who admits to walking into several telegraph poles, people and even a parked car whilst trying to tweet, I can understand the medias concern. All jokes a side, this can actually be a very dangerous occurrence. As a society it seems as though we are all trying to stay connected at all times of the day that we are forgetting simple cognitive functions.

Lazaros, Xu and Londt state that “ Text messaging while walking is a significant area for concern. The number of text messages sent is expected to be more than 8 trillion in 2012. The dangers of multitasking have hit the streets as people are becoming involved in more accidents while walking as they text on mobile phones” (2012, pg.88). So has social media destroyed our common sense? If you listen to some media reports you will most likely think twice before sending that driving ‘Snapchat’ or whilst texting and walking (I have the bruises to prove it is a bad idea).

As for my digital friends I promise to make more of an effort to engage in conversation in the real world. Apologies to all if I open the lines of dialogue with a ‘dad joke’.

References

E J, Lazaros , R, Xu & S, Londt (2012) Using an Activity to Simulate the Dangers of Multitasking with Technology while Walking, Science Activities: Classroom Projects and Curriculum Ideas, Summons Library, accessed 31st August 2013.

K Subrahmanyam, (2010), Teens, social media, and relationships: an interview with. The Prevention Researcher, Summons Library, accessed 31st August 2013.

Media

Luke Macdonald
2nd Year Media & Communication & Commerce Student @UOW
Majoring in Digital Communication & Marketing

Good Evening & Welcome To Television – [BCM240]

We take for granted the availability of television and media in this day and age. Information readily streamed into our own homes via broadcast channels working 24/7 to keep us all abreast and informed about the goings on both locally and abroad.
After recently speaking to my Grandpa I learnt that Australia’s affinity with television hasn’t always been the same.

Meet Ross Macdonald. Recently retired, family loving man, born in the quiet suburban streets of Sydney (Concord West). Yesterday I set up a Skype conversation to recall his first memories of television, his thoughts, emotions and his views on the current landscape of Australian television. Below is an excerpt from our conversation.

Pa: “When television commenced transmission in Australia in 1956 I was just 10 years old. Regarding the viewing of television, one of the shops in the strip was an Electrical Appliance and Record store and they had one TV in the store window, which was hooked up to a speaker outside the store just under the awning.

They used to have it turned on in the evening from about 6pm (just after the pubs closed) and the locals including my Mum and Dad, together with brother Malcolm (Mal was 4 years old) and myself would gather and bond outside the shop for about one hour to watch whatever was being broadcasted.

In the very early days in Sydney there were only 3 channels i.e. ABN Channel 2, ATN Channel 7 and TCN Channel 9. Most of the day all they transmitted was a Test Pattern until about 6pm when they usually broadcast the News and a few other programmes until about 10pm when they would close with the National Anthem. Nothing that would really excite a 10 year old.

However 1956 was also the year of the of Olympic Games in Melbourne. My Dad arranged for the family to travel by train to Melbourne (travel by air was ridiculously expensive compared to today) so that we could experience this “once in a lifetime opportunity” (if only they had known what the future would bring!).
There was no need to pre-purchase tickets as you could just buy them at the gate on the day, however most of the events were either shown live or filmed (no video then) and would be on the TV later that evening. The best thing that ever happened to increase the sale of Television sets in Australia during 1956 was the Olympic Games. They were not cheap but everyone wanted one!

During the first week of the games my grandparents purchased a HMV (His Masters Voice) TV, which I suspect they probably went into some sort of a hire purchase agreement to buy. The surge in sales together with the popularity of the games changed the whole dynamics of TV programming with longer hours including movies, serials and live variety shows starting to fill the viewing hours.

This was where the real excitement of TV began for me!!! It probably also spelt the beginning of the end for the Saturday matinee at the local movie theatre since pretty much what they were showing started slowly to appear on TV. When we returned to home after the Olympic Games the pressure was on for the purchase of a TV which I think my dad held out for about another 3 years when he finally rented one. By this time the programmes would start at midday (usually with a movie) and run until midnight still finishing with the anthem”.

Taking a look at the direction television has taken today my Grandpa summed it up very nicely; “well all you have is reality programs that aren’t a true reflection of reality”. When asked about the future of Australian television his response was “I think Australian television is coming to a defining moment in its short history. Technology is easily winning the battle. Very much the same as the matinee was destroyed by television, mobile tablets and high speed Internet are destroying television”.

Again these are statement that I agree with wholeheartedly.
The boundaries between audiences and spaces are being removed. “Family bonding” as my Grandpa described it is no longer part of Australian culture. As we become more reliant on convergent media and devices, we become less reliant on spending time building relationships around us.

Does this mean that all family values are forsaken? Probably not. However Hardenbergh describes the viewing of television as a “presentational environment” (2010, pg.171). No longer do we occupy and share the same spaces to view our media. As a prime example of this fundamental shift, currently two of my housemates and myself are all watching the same program in three separate parts of the house. We have a communal lounge area with a television; however the program we are watching is easily streamed online.

Hardenbergh’s statement regarding the superiority of television “ it was the greatest mass medium” (2010, pg.171) is a bold statement of which has some merit in today’s media environment. Technologies will inevitably come and go but the legacy that a medium leaves on a generation can never be forgotten. Television changed the lives and introduced many to the world.

As for my Grandpa’s thoughts on the best show on television at the moment. “It is still the 7pm ABC News Luke”.

Some old habits will die-hard.

What are your first recollections of television? Mine are the ABC educational/ entertainment programs, of which included Lift Off. Memory lane :). Feel free to leave a comment or tweet me at fluke_aus with your favourite TV memories.

References

Hardenbergh, M. (2010). The death of television. ETC.: A Review of General Semantics, Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA240918884&v=2.1&u=uow&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w, accessed 22nd August 2013

Luke Macdonald
2nd Year Media & Communication & Commerce Student @UOW
Majoring in Digital Communication & Marketing

Cinema Experience – Streetfighter Style [BCM240]

charles bronson

Today I sat down with one of my regular customers at work to discuss his recollections of his first cinema experience. His name is Brett Pierce. 47 years of age and a painter by trade, Brett’s favourite activities include ‘punting’ and consuming large quantities of his beverage of choice, which is the delightful repulsive amber fluid many Australian males (and females) refer to as VB.
Born and raised in the leafy eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Brett recalls his first memories of film and the excitement that entailed from the trip to the cinemas as a young boy.

Brett: “My first experience at the movies was as an eleven year old going to see the Charlie Bronson movie The Streetfighter with a friend of mine and his mother. It was an exciting time as this was the first time I had been in the city of Melbourne unsupervised by an adult as my friends mother had dropped us off at the cinema and went shopping, telling us that we would meet back up at a certain time to see the film.

The movie was great and remains one of favorites till this day. Over the years I must have seen it over twenty times and it reminds me of that period of my life”.

Brett’s first memories of cinema very much mirror my own. A young male with his mates allowed on an adventure in an unknown environment. The energy and excitement of the event, all most too much to bare. The chemical reactions occurring through sugar stimulation and the brief freedoms entailed add another layer to the ingrained memory of my first cinematic experience.

During our brief chat I could see Brett’s joy that came from sharing this experience with me. The smile, the laughter and the tone in his voice all strengthened as he shared each word. His thoughts transported back in time.

He continued his story with two anecdotes about a run in with the ‘boys in blue’ and a conversation he had with one of Australia’s (he is actually a Kiwi but we are blessed to claim him ours) most prestigious actor Russell Crowe.

Brett: “A funny thing happened when we were crossing the road to meet my friend’s mother in the park. A police on horseback was in the distance and my cheeky mate flipped him “the bird”. The copper rode up very unpleased and tore strips off the both of us. I imagined getting locked up and having to explain the incident to my father”.

Brett’s memory of the incident, to me highlights the incredible role of memory recall and the connection it has when discussing media and audiences.

After a few more complimentary beverages Brett told me about the time he introduced Russell Crowe to his favourite film of all time.

Brett: “Years later I was amazed that I was working at Russell Crowe’s apartment and told him about the film The Streetfighter and that he had never seen it before. This was just before he was set to start shooting for the film Cinderalla Man so I bought him a copy of it on DVD, and gave it to him before he left. Still to this day I am wondering whether he liked it as much as I did”.

In an age where we are spoilt for choice when it comes to media, this simple chat discussing cinematic experiences with a fellow human being makes me a little fearful that the connection and memories that are created by cinema are slowly dying.

In 20 to 30 years time in the BCM240 class of 2043 a student is asked to do the same task we are doing this week the answer could just well be.

Student: “What are you first experiences of going to the cinema?”

Respondent: Cinema? (Sighs deeply), “Haven’t you heard of the Pirate Bay”.

Noooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!

What are your first cinematic experiences? Feel free to comment below or tweet me at – @fluke_aus.

Luke Macdonald
2nd Year Media & Communication & Commerce Student @UOW
Majoring in Digital Communication & Marketing