My time at the AWF

August 27, 2010 at 8:29 pm (Uncategorized)

Upon my arrival to the AWF I was exited to get to where i was sleeping get a good night sleep, not expecting a load of volunteers here or a warm welcome. Turned out i was arriving the same time as 3 other Coventry students doing graphic design in their second year of university too. There was also already a second year Coventry university photography student here. As well as a big handful of Dutch volunteers. I also arrived on the same day as an awarding winning photographer Mart Smit who became a very good friend. On the first week we all went on the tourists boats as ‘researchers’ and took pictures of the fin-shots of the whales and dolphins so we could identify them later as well as jot down their behavior. This was good fun and a unique opportunity to photograph whales and dolphins. But after talking to the 3 cov students n mart we wanted to do some creative work, so we got a car and travelled round the island for the weekend which was very fun. Mart taught me how to use my d70 effectively through different techniques, altering different selections, and I have definitely come out of that weekend and a more experienced photography. He also showed me some really useful subtle technique’s what you can do in post-prod, which brings character out of photographs through photo shop, which was cool. I was mainly focused on socializing in the begin, getting to know all the volunteers. Looking through our photo’s myself and Mart wanted a way to distribute our photo’s so found a photo website distribution service called photo shelter. Set that up for the volunteer’s best photographs. Now were constantly adding the pictures we thin are great from Tenerife. I gradually began getting involved in more media projects after that. I worked closely with the graphic design students for a bit, and learnt how to use adobe illustrator. Came to the conclusion Photoshop is for photo manipulation, illustrator is for starting images from scratch. Began spending time with Ed on odd jobs around the island and got some really good contacts of people who are also working in London. Such as Lupe Castro, I made her some adverts promoting a facial spa salon. That was an experience. Just turned up with a camera and m photographer Mart Smit with no real idea what to do, and she was like “so what’s your plan?” then I begun to brick it a little as she is an experienced media player. So I had a cigarette, collected my thoughts and asked to see our filming locations to get an idea of what we could do. So she took me into the lady’s spa/house what we were using as a set and there was a lounge and a roof. So originally set up the lounge to look like a spa, then started thinking what to do, why our audience would be interested. Then decided the show the girls getting facial treatments, then show how the treatments effected them in a relaxing way by filming them on the roof. To visually express how the treatments took them out of their world into a new domain = escapism. The adverts were pretty shit in fairness but proved a purpose, and was a media tool what they could use. Lupe was happy with them then offered me more work in the following November with some eco-fashion photo-shoots. Then I had do dub one in German which a bugger. So had a German volunteer here at the time to do the voice over and translate for me, dubbing is very time consuming. Especially when you do not understand the language. I developed basic conservational Spanish skills here, which are a necessity for the projects such as this working with Spanish people. They spoke Basic English, I spoke basic Spanish it was very funny having this communicational barrier and created a lively and light-hearted atmosphere on the day of filming. But we did have Lupe with us at various parts of the day which cleared things up between us; she is a very good linguist. Then I became involved into the ecoshare program. Ed discussed with me in details the workings of this program similar to timeshare, potentially a very good source of funding to put back into the research work in Sierra Leone. I had the basic skills in Photoshop and illustrator up to this point. Where i was required to make house from scratch pretty much, as well as rejuvenate the standing Creole design buildings. This project took myself and Hannah Collins (a second year photography student at Coventry) a good three weeks, of late nights, just experimenting with how we were going to do it, the putting the plan into action, then putting the project in the format of a corporate/professional looking PowerPoint presentation which would appeal to both the consumers of the houses as well as the corporations helping us sell the first of our eco-tourism idea’s. These houses are being built as we speak by volunteers in Sierra Leone. This project properly challenged my graphic design skills, to the point I could have broke down lol, but very rewarding. The pictures as you can see through the presentation are very stylized, purposely to attract the consumers, as well as simple things such as saturating the backgrounds of images to make them seem more green, giving them a seemly natural background. After this project I was dying to get my hands on some physical media work. Got a call from a lady called Karen who runs a horse sanctuary in Tenerife. She said she heard rumors of a guy bashing a horse in near one of her friend’s house. So she picked me up with the intention of filming this and exposing the guy for cruelty to horses. But when we got their it was too late. The guy’s house was situated in the middle of a field pretty much; we could see from her friend’s balcony that the horse was dead. I am a horse lover so was outraged by this. And so took karens camera and ran down to the guys house and took some pictures of the dead horse, what we later sent to the newspapers. The thoughts going through my mind was mainly fear as I knew the guy was still in the house, and their was a dog barking at me as I was taking the pictures so I was worried the guy was about to come running out, also I was getting really pissed off with Karen’s shitty camera which had like a 30 second processing gap between each photo I took. I took pictures of the horse with the blanket on, then removed the blanket and saw the head of a pitchfork stuck in its ribs. I did not put these pictures in the presentation as it was not necessary and just was not nice to see, especially me being brought up with horses through my father. But yeah so I took the pictures and ran like hell out of their to karen’s friends house, where we emailed them to the newspapers and rung the police. The police turned up, couldn’t give two shits, we were watching from the ladies balcony, the police seemed un-comfortable at seeing the horse as they lifted the blanket of the horse, had a mildy heated conversation outside with the horses owner, took the conversation inside, then left. The police are so corrupt here, because Tenerife is a very poor country. Not on the grand scale of countries, but the police department have little to no money, they are actually required to make 3 fines a day in order to get paid says many of the canarian locals, but people don’t realize this fact as its covered in tourism. I have no respect for the police department in Tenerife. This was my first experience of what i would call journalistic media, exposing people for what they are doing. And as much as what that guy did disgusted me, i also loved the un-certainty of the situation I was in, and this lead to the development of the bad guys documentaries what il tell you about later. While I was doing this their was 6 pole dancers climbing tiede. Yup. Basically one of the pole dancers came here to volunteer loved the project and wanted to raise some fundage to help support it, so got some of here work colleagues together and they decided to come to Tenerife to have some fun then climb Tiede to raise funds for Sierra Leone. So Ed sent them up with this American media student who couldn’t edit for shit, but was a very good camera person so it turned out. So I edited this when they got back later that day (links given in the presentation). But the problem was they never summited the volcano. . sooo i was struggling to make a video about a group of girls which failed to climb a mountain, but think I spun the video well enough that it’s seemed uplifting. The American camera chick also had some footage of them in the club, as well as an interview with their ‘mentor’ which was awesome, turned out it was this mentor which let them down by being to slow, but in fairness its not an easy climb for anybody I mean its the third highest volcano in the world . . it’s not guna b easy. Back home the exhibited the documentary and made £1,438 from donations after showing it in their community centre. I did an advert for karens horse sanctuary the following week (links given in presentation) to try and promote her charity. Which was fun, my first horseback filming lol, and it was nice to be back in the saddle again. Beautifully countryside out their, really inspiring. AWF volunteers had been building an agility centre for the dogs at the charity centre Accion Del Sol for an opening day to encourage people to get involved with their own dogs as well as trying to rehome the dogs their. We heard their was going to be a bubble party for the kids, so their was now way we were not going, then I decided to film it to get involved in media work, at this stage of my placement i became a bit of a workaholic which has remained to where i am now, even going out getting drunk is not the same, i feel un-productive unless i am working and hate the feeling. So made them a gcse quality film (link available on presentation), i know its no excuse but i did put it together in 2 hours. I was getting really sick at this stage of using other people’s music, especially with the evolution of youtube’s tighter constrictions on using artists tracks on your video’s. So got back in contact with a public schooled boy in Dorset Nick Kingsley whose a good mate of mine, who is a very talented music producer, to let him no i would be needing some music, n just clarifying that i was not going to pay him, he was kool with that happy to do it as a favor as well as seeing it as an exposure opportunity. By this time of my placement we are in June. Researching issues surrounding the endangering of whales we became aware of the IWC (international whaling committee) were meeting up on the 21st June to discuss the lifting of the whaling ban. Outraged by this we decided to raise awareness down in the streets of Puerto colon, informing tourists of these issues. Our imagery was red handprints on the girls to link in with our tagline “the blood is on our hands” and the boys were in dolphin costumes, which were steaming hot, but very fun. I filmed this and made a small film out of it (link provided in presentation) which i think is crap but poignant and reflects the vibe which is at our project. I embedded the video on the online petition I created (link provided in presentation). Then on the 6th of June we finally got the cetacean swimming license I had been waiting for. Since then we have been swimming with the pilot whales and sometimes dolphins 3 times a week and it has been an amazing experience. About 15% of the time we get a really good interaction, often we do not see them, sometimes they swim over to check us out in the water then swim away. At the begging, our protocol was to catch them in the morning (this was the only time the boat was available for use) so a half 6 start down to the port in Puerto colon. Then we drove about 2km out to sea, then just waited to spot fins, drive to the fins and jump in. We are still use this primal technique of tracking the whales as it’s very effective, but now we are trying different times of the day to see how their behavior is different. At the moment I believe the behavior in terms of footage, is a lot better in the mornings but time will tell. My boss bought us 2 Cannon PowerShot D10 camera’s to film at 300 euro’s a piece. They are surprisingly good quality for the price, as you can tell in the documentary (link in presentation) but i did a fair amount of color correction within it, mainly saturation, and contrast to bring out the profile of the whales. I then began to start using adobe after effects, their are some amazing things you can do with this software with color correction, however as I prefer to use final cut pro it is a pain in the ass as you bring it in to adobe after effects, then have to save it as a premiere pro file, then have to export that as a quicktime file. It also marginally loses quality, but with some scene’s it is necessary to really see the scars in the pilot whales. Their was a couple of times when I shat myself as we had these real big bulls coming fast and soo close I had to pull my camera away not too hit it, their also times when they were knocking my fins, but my god an exhilarating experience, the times they close were some of the best times of my life, when you make eye contact with them you can just see their are so many thoughts going through their mind, again you can see this amazing footage if you do not believe me in the documentary. So i began to collect loads of footage but know real outlet for it. The initial idea was to make an educational wildlife documentary about the behavior of pilot whales. I was waiting to use the pilot whale footage. The idea was to produce a wildlife documentary on pilot whale behavior but had to wait for my boss to get some free time. So decided to make my own documentary. Originally it was going to be a documentary on the pilot whale swimmers experiences in the water. Made with the help of volunteers, as well as Tom Mellish. But it lack some serious direction. So myself and a marine biology graduate thought it would be far more interesting to make a documentary that inspired people to get involved in conservation, but also encourage them to see what were are doing as “cool” so want to make their own documentaries that could make a difference the main demographic being students and potential volunteers. At the moment we (myself and Luke the marine biologist) are in discussions with Tony Juniper (former director of Friends Of The Earth) in terms of distributing this documentary. Met him through my boss Ed. A very useful contact check out his website for his credentials. He really enjoyed the documentary and saw great potential in it on a corporate level as a tool to encourage youths to get involved in conservation. So he is helping us distribute it, he also wants to be involved in future conservation productions I will be doing which is great, he is a very powerful contact. Last week I helped some homegrown conservation projects “AWF goes wild” and “Extinction events” with some graphic design work for promoting their parties, the idea behind these being half the door profits goes to the grassroots projects AWF represent. I am now in the process of making the nature documentary, my thoughts right now is that the story is lacking the footage pulls it through. I am also starting to work on some conservational adverts with Ruby Faulk a very useful American media contact. I am also awaiting the arrival of the humpback whales in sierra leone so I can edit the awesome footage our volunteers are getting out their, i will be extremely jealous im not filming it. And now we have come to today on Friday the 27th of August frantically typing this blog. I have done alot of work here, alot of parts I have missed, alot of parts I have not gone into enough detail. Typical student leaving i too late, i do have alot of responsibility here being media co-ordinator which takes up some time as well as the numerous projects I am seemingly simultaneously doing. But AM NOT using this as an excus to the lateness of the completion of this work, just thought id paint a picture of my life right now. In all honesty this project has changed my life for the better. I now have an unfor told motivation with my media work, as I feel my work now has a purpose and reason that is not selfish, and I plan to work in conservation for as long as i can after university which i no longer fear leaving, but want to get my degree so i can continue this work.

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My favorite website

March 19, 2009 at 8:26 pm (Uncategorized)

My favorite website is called magicseaweed.com

It provides a surf forecast forecast for the whole of the united kingdom and other breaks in the world. It is not 100% accurate as i have found out through personal experiences, like sometimes it will say 2 ft solid with a long interval but we get their and it is flat. However they do provide an indication of the swell. It is my favorite piece of media convergence as it allows me to see rough predictions of the swell heights without actually gathering and calculating the data myself, helping me plan surf trips when a big swell comes in. The layout is really easy to use and understand, also it provides webcams so you can see the swell pics yourself to make a more educated decision of if its worth going to the beach or not.

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! WE ARE NOT SHEEP !

March 19, 2009 at 8:18 pm (Uncategorized)

I do wonder why everybody is worried about people becoming anti-social becuase the advancement of technologies. As a 20 year old english man i am telling the world right now WE ARE NOT SHEEP!!

Just because things like social networking sites and virtual realities make it easier for us to talk to our friends doesn’t mean we are not going to go out and see our freinds. I can’t understand why the newspapers have this idea that we are so lazy as human beings that we will just do the easiest thing to get through our lives with any work. I can tell you right now this is not the case, if we were that lazy why would we have hobbies, why would i have gone to australia to get more life experience’s surf and work. In fact if we were that lazy why would we even have friends. 

Granted we are susceptible to new technologies, but thats because these technologies intrigue us not that we are looking for the next shortcut in communing with our friends or living a in a virtual world because its easier than our own. Really angers me when i see articles in the newspapers about articles on how technology is creating a social inept generation. Some people want to escape social interaction through these technologies and fairplay to them its their life they can live it how they want, but dont expect the youth of today to follow everybody is different, we are not a mass, we are a massive group of individuals.

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Evolution of the new mobile phone

March 19, 2009 at 8:09 pm (Uncategorized)

Although a mobile phones primary use is to make and recieve calls, i think the advancement in mobiles is exiting and astonishing. They are converging video camera’s,camera’s, mp3 players, internet, games etc. into one piece of technology. I think the reason they are so effective is in providing consumers with the upmost convenience by giving everything they could want in one piece of technology. Through technologies such as bluetooth peolpe can send each other pictures/video’s/songs/ringtones free. This i think is great as it is only benefitting the consumers, the major companies get no profit, yet their not losing any money either its a win win situation for consumers to actively share personal video’s/pictures for example free without breaking any laws.

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Virtual reality rant

March 19, 2009 at 8:01 pm (Uncategorized)

You see in old school films like total recoil and hackers virtual reality games, based around a headset what you look into. I do not think this will ever happen, but if it did i don’t think it would be necessarily a bad thing. After linking world of warcraft players your probably thinking i am an extreme anti technology/omnish person. Far from it i enjoy console games don’t play them much but i do enjoy them, i was just making the point that when they consume your life thats when they are having serious negative effects on your life. Lie the question i ask myself is how can you live in a world created by another man, in these virtual worlds you are living a completely artificial life created by someone else, your living in these virtual worlds how they dictate you to do so. I can relate why people to do it as their is no risk in these artificial lives, everything is easy. Taking second life as an example everybody is young, attractive. Problem is the people use these characters to represent themselves, but make them look how they would like to look like. And i think this is pretty demoralizing on the users self esteem as they are actively choosing to live in these better lives, which increases their discontent with their own life.

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World of warcraft

March 19, 2009 at 7:51 pm (Uncategorized)

So as i said previously i don’t think social networking sites are bad, but i think virtual realities are. World of warcraft as an example i have seen people put so much time into it for what . . . self satisfaction because they reached level 50. I think if someone spent their time in a sport for example rather than invest it in a virtual reality they would be better off physically, and socially having made freinds and developing their social skills. I know its purpose if for escapism, this will sound extreme but i see these sites similar to as i see drugs. Like people engage in these virtual realities for the same reason people take drugs, to escape their own lifes. But the quality of their lifes deteriate as they invest time in these virtua realities/drugs rather than fixing the problems in their lives their escaping from.

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imovie

March 19, 2009 at 7:42 pm (Uncategorized)

imovie is an example of a media convergent software. It enables people to edit sound and film. Their are alot of complaints from people in the media industry that these types of software are forcing media producers out of a job. In fairness this does have some relevance, however it is enabling everybody which owns this software to edit easily so they can produce their own movie’s. The new imovie is a really good piece of editing software which can do pretty much everything final cut pro can, but is alot easier to use. However,  hopefully ending after my degree in this industry i don’t think these types of software will effect me in terms of finding no work, i think it will effect me in the fact their will be more media producers as they found out they enjoy making and editing films because of this software, and competition is good in any industry encouraging you to push yourself to make you best productions.

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Youtube

March 19, 2009 at 7:35 pm (Uncategorized)

I think youtube i a great example of a communally profitable website. People can post videos about anything they want and get comments and feedback on it. People say its downfall was when it was overtaken by google, i don’t. Google granted are filtering some video’s but majority of these show adult content and youtube would be shit if all their was loads of porn on it. First off young children wouldn’t be able to use it what i think would be a great shame as we need the get the older media media literate youth of today interested in films which are not hollywood based. Showing them something they wouldn’t see in the cinema, showing the films are an art not a collection of conventional narrative and stereotypical characters. Secondly, google are investing money into youtube to make it bigger, more efficient and user friendly. Youtube would not be what it is today without the efforts of google

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Music Videos + Tv shopping channels

March 19, 2009 at 7:24 pm (Uncategorized)

Just realized these are good examples of convergent media. Music video’s are converging two media mediums, audio and video to create a narrative or represent an idea. Without media convergence this would not exist. While tv shopping channels are skipping direct sales through the medium of tv, enabling companies to sell items without a shop, i think this is smart marketing however i never watch them so do not know the profit companies make out of it.

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Social Networking sites

March 19, 2009 at 7:20 pm (Uncategorized)

Good or bad?

From personal experiences i think their great. in august 2007 i left for australia and worked and traveled throghout the east coast till august 2008. Without facebook i would not have been able to keep in contact cheaply so a social networking site enabled me to still be close with my friends even though i was half way around the world. And now i am back home i can keep in contact with all the people i met travelling who live round the globe. It gives you the ability also to meet people who you would never have met if facebook didn’t exist.

I  understand the ‘repercussions’ of a social networking site i.e. creating a generation of socially inept kids, however these to me are just distopias i haven’t seen evidence of social networking sites having this effect on people. Infact i have seen the opposite effect of this as people talk about what they saw on social networking sites outside it

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