Tuesday, December 28, 2010

how i spent my first semester of grad school

"first years..."
with things slowing down after Christmas, it's a good time to take a break and show what i was up to as a masters of visualization student at texas a&m.
i had three classes: an intro to animation class, a computer programming class, and a class called either "design communication" or "visual communication" (i can never remember which it is) and which i could only describe as an experimental film class.

there really isn't much to show from my programming class unless you want to see some C code.  i made a few interesting things, including a very basic painting program, although i feel like i could understand a lot of it better, which is why i've been reading "C programming for dummies" over my break.

i'll post about my animation class later, just because i feel like talking about my experimental film class at the moment.

over the semester, we had three projects to do, each around some rather loose parameters, which helped yield a very wide range of work.  for our third an final one, we were to use letters in some way, but the letters could not be used to form actual words or meaning in that way.  apart from that, pretty much anything goes (as long as it was between thirty seconds to a minute thirty, or so).
(there were several interesting products, including one short animation about a letter I trying out for the team.  it took me a moment to get the joke, that there's "no I in team".... so the I comes back dressed up like an E)

for the previous project i had done my multiple interviews video, which i was quite happy with and which was a project that came from my heart.  but in early november i was feeling rather bland and in some kind of creative drought and, when the day came to pitch our ideas, i still didn't have much.  at least, nothing that i was passionate about.  and you can't really work on an idea that you aren't passionate about.

i like fonts.  i think typography is cool.  since my freshman days at byu, i've been intrigued by the potential of working with single-frame images.  about mashing images at 24-frames a second.  how well would we see something like that?
24 frames a second....  there are 26 letters in an alphabet, so you could show an entire front in just over one second.... interesting.....
that was about as well-developed as any of the ideas i had when it came my turn to pitch (and this was even after we were given an extra day since the first day's pitches went long).

i stood up to the class and showed this.
i think it confused the heck out of them.

after about ten seconds, i could hear mutterings coming from the class.
when the thirty-two-second video ended, i explained that there was one drawing of that little guy shown each second.  i wanted to try something with letters and fonts, too.
to look at a font in a second, to flash thirty fonts in front of the screen in thirty seconds, stripping it down to the raw essence of it all.  i envisioned a strong techno drum beat behind it all.
"ok...." my teacher said.  "that sounds interesting."

i felt like it was such a lame idea that when we met to show our storyboards/design ideas at the next class period i didn't even bring anything, hoping to talk with her about figuring out a new idea.  "i quite liked your idea," she told me, sounding genuinely surprised that i thought it was a dud.
even if i wasn't emotionally behind it, i had enough going on in my other classes and beyond that if this was good enough for her, it was good enough for me.

my proof of concept for the piece was about five seconds long and took me three coldplay albums to complete.  i liked how it was looking.
the rest of the piece took me about as long, as i had figured out some ways to streamline the process.  i had our t.a. compose some music for it.  at first, i wanted something super simple, like one rapid-fire drum beat that would abruptly end, but i think his work still holds the essence of what i wanted while still helping carry along a rather esoteric piece.

the other evolution that happened was that my original plan was to just go in alphabetical order.  but after some discussion in class, i opted to change things up a bit.  but not at first. a through e are in order, then i skipped f and went to g, maybe leaving people wondering if they thought they just missed f (that is, if anyone was able to follow along).  after that, i started to move things all over in as random order as i could figure.  and for the heck of it, i broke up x and just tossed in an x wherever i felt like it.  there are 32 x-es in there (i think i ended up using 32 fonts), just not next to each other.
the only thing i would like to change is that all of the fonts for each letter come in the same order, so there's a rhythmic pattern there that i really don't care for, but it's not the end of the world.

it's odd and abstract, but i'm really quite fond of this thing, which is why it's the one i want to write about right now (which is good, since the other two posts will be about pieces that are more appealing to you.  ...hopefully.)


Em said...

who is "you" anyway?
I like the rhythm personally. But I'm orthodox that way.

kwistin said...

look at that, an end-of-semester post!! at least one of us is doing that.... : )

you have good reason to be fond of it. it's a cool concept.

when we chocolate, i will have to show you some new fonts i recently discovered.

coldplay is my favorite to listen to while i create art; good call.

Brooke said...

I liked it!

The Former 786 said...

I also am now fond of this little animated short. I want to show it to some font-fanatic friends of mine and see what they think.

Also, tell nesh rao that I'm a fan of his work.