Aaron Siegel - Advanced Digital Video

Art 105 - San Jose State University - CADRE Laboratory for New Media

Monday, December 13, 2004

....As Expected

As I stated earlier, I was afraid that the low size and compression quality would result in a lossy image, detracting credibility from the work. Nevertheless, I have all the fineprint arranged in a horizontal strip/non-linear fashion (which I would ideally create in something like flash so as to load clips semi-randomly to replace others).

After reviewing the initial video, I like the results that I've gotten out of it. I will try to tie in the initial fineprint at the end so when it repeats itself it is less obvious. Once I have accomplished this, I will burn all my projects onto the final CD.

Todays Progress

I was able to copy all my raw recorded clips over to the scratch disk in order to work with, and got over my difficulties with rendering. Now I have 2 minutes and 40 seconds of fine print, which I'm now using garbage masks (actually, I just found that there is a crop property to each clip, and it's much easier for me to use as I don't have to set the points) to crop down on so that I can show multiple instances of fine print on the screen at once. By displaying an over abbundence of information at once, the video is being critical of the absurd amount of print we're expected to read in such a short amount of time.

This will take me a while to crop and overlay, so I will post my progress when I am done.

Technical Difficulties Regarding Final Video

After having attended the Edward Tufte "Presenting Information and Data" conference in Palo Alto last friday, the idea of details directly tied to credibility is evident for this work. That's why I'm dissapointed in the quality of video I'm able to get through my cable box and tv tuner. The cable box unfortunately does not have S-Video out, so I have to use a regular RCA video cable. Needless to say the image is quite lossy, even though it's digital cable. Also, my compression has been too high to pick up details on the fine print used in commercials.

Anyway, I went to work trimming out the excess commercials around all the excellent fine print I found. I tried to copy my first CD worth of recorded video (I have 3) to the hard drive, but even though it says I have 15gb left in my quota when I log in, it states that there's only 108mb left in my directory. After having edited with the files from the CD, and trying to get the files from the next CD, it states that the media was taken out. I'm trying to correct this problem by copying all the CDs contents to the scratch disk, and then relinking the final cut media to that.

While on the lookout for fine print and reviewing what I recorded, I have noticed certain trends in fineprint as it's associated to the content of the commercial. This project would ideally be more effective if it were a series of looping videos on display in a gallery. Each one displaying fineprint from a genre of commercials (ie: financial, automobiles, medication, foodstuffs, etc). This would leave the viewer to come to their own conclusions as to which genre fit which video display. Ideally the video should be captured with as much detail and clarity as possible, so as to show off how camouflaged and intentionally misreadable these prints are, no matter how clearly seen on the viewer end.

As for this project, I will continue to work on it today and hopefully come up for what would be a low resolution example of the more detailed project above, encapsulating a wide variety of commercial types to show more contrasting examples of fine print usage.

I intend to either finish this today and turn in my CD, or wrap it up tuesday night and turn it in wednesday so I can work on my animation final tonight.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Refined Methodology

Horizontal bars of video only displaying the fine print from commercials. Only print that is not read audibly by the narrater will be used. All audio is cut out and all that's left is the visual. If the print is originally too small, the video will be enlarged to make it readable, and if it appears and disappears too quickly, then the video will be slowed down to make it readable.

I want to critique the legal obligation of corporations to include information in their commercials, specifically when the "information stuffing" is done via fine print at the bottom of the screen. I believe this technique is used to camouflage unsavory information, or merely information that the corporation wishes to hide in order to further their agenda. By revealing the print at a larger scale and for a longer duration of time to allow people to read and absorb the information, it negates the advertisers efforts to hide it.

Interesting links on the topic:
Federal Trade Commission Advertising Enforcement: Disclosures in Advertising
Advertising Law: Frequently Asked Advertising Questions

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Possible Project 4 Methodologies

So, seeing as how we were supposed to bring in a piece of text to work with, I thought of bringing in one of my favorite novels; 1984. I had the idea to make a more calculable solution by working with phrase searching utilizing python data parsing. I want to compare the occurance of long string phrases between 1984 and state of the union speeches during the last presidential term. The difficult part is selecting what phrases to search for, as well as interpreting the resulting data in a video. I could always do that by overlapping or mirroring (cutting between) audio/video of the state of the union speeches and the film version of 1984 (or a narrated version of the text).

I was also pondering an idea the past week, not related to text but text on television. I would record all commercials and then crop them in final cut to show ONLY the fine print at the bottom of the screen which reveals the details on the product. The viewer would have vague reference to what the commercial would actually be about, but they would have an enlarged and readable view (as well as perhaps extended duration) of the text. I believe this would reveal interesting characteristics about commercials regarding their directness of information and honesty.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Calculated Chaos

So, overlapping the audio to create a smooth escalation of energy is not a simple task. I've got a pretty good base to work from but I'd like each clip to transition smoother, since you have sharp noticeable changes between background music and narrators, and I really don't want that kind of cutting until about the last 10 seconds to bring it to an apex.

I'm going to sleep on what I have and come in tomorrow morning with a fresh perspective and hopefully wrap it up for critique at noon.

Rack em, Stack em, and Pack em

I'm working on pulling out the calmest audio and putting it in first, but I want to keep it free of being brand specific, and I want to smoothly layer and transition other audio so as to build up the energy level of the information being transmitted to the viewer. My main tools are volume and speed of playback, but I can see what kind of audio filters I can put on it to make it more dynamic. Although, I'm trying not to dress it up with effects.

I can work on it a little longer but then I have to go to my animation class and then 103 right after. I will work on it a bit after that, too.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Video Today, Audio Tomorrow

I got my video in and arranged fairly specifically to how I want it (given some minor tweaking), and tomorrow I will add in the audio to suit. I have been playing around with overlapping effects and color keys to create different moods via transition. Since I want the energy of the piece to escelate towards the ends, the transitions and cuts become quicker, as well as the movement in the clips.

The audio will be most dificult in the beginning because prescription medication commercials are not as ambient as they used to be, but as the energy grows so will the layering and intensity of the audio.

I've got tomorrow before figure drawing, tomorrow after 103, and wednesday before class to wrap it up. But right now it's fried chicken and potatoes time.

Progression through technique

So, I believe I'm making quite good progress now. I was able to finally get the zoloft clip to convert to .mov for use in this project, which is good because it has lots of good material. What I've done is spliced the clips into sections, and put the particular clips into their own bins in the browser. The different types of clips are calming video, "talk to your doctor" audio, side effects audio, and brand slogans. These are good for a basis to start editing with. I will soon add soothing audio (which is difficult to find, since there's most always narration), stimulating video (has lots of color and movement), and I believe symptom audio, although there is not much to select from and work with (and is sometimes not as literal and direct as it should be. [ie: enzyte])

I will combine all of this data that I have organized and form it into a progression from soothing to chaotic and overwhelming, emulating the growth of direct-to-consumer advertising over broadcast media.

I will be keeping this video under a minute to keep it similar to the commercial context from which it came.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

*sigh*... murphy's law?

So I was converting clips to .mov so that they'll be readable by final cut (zoloft unfortunately won't convert), and I was editing out the excess clips of trailing commercials, and when I tried to save I was unable to because the server had crashed. I restarted, and was unable to log in, leaving me with access to no network file system and no applications. After a while I decided to blog what was going on, but low and behold... blogspot decides it's a good time to malfunction and not let me edit or post to my blog. I'm hoping that since I was able to change the font size of the previous post I should be able to post this now.

After that ordeal I just left and went home to move the rest of my stuff into my new room. It is more spacious, and has greatly improved my feng shui.

I'm going to be in the lab as soon as I wake up tomorrow, coffee in hand.

Video Editing... Concepts and Techniques

So now that we're so close to the due date (tomorrow, that is) I am into the editing stage of my piece. I've been sitting here in the Cadre lab converting my mpegs to mov files so that final cut pro can read them without a hitch. I'm troubled by the fact that I didn't get many commercials recorded, and the ones I did see often were recurring, and pointless to re-record (a lot of enzyte and ambien). What I probably should have done is logged the events, times, and channel of commercials and what medication and pharmacuetical company it is. This would begin to build a database of one persons exposure to direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription medication. Unfortunately, this idea came to me long into this.

Now I'm focusing on what can be done with the clips I have to illustrate my methodology. I want to piece them together somehow to express the growing trend of direct-to-consumer advertising on an exponential scale, and ideally tie in an expression of the resulting funding into research and development (although this would be extremely dificult to accomplish).

It's my natural instinct to begin with audio, but if I can find some really good visuals in the commercials, I may want to work those in earlier and plan out a progression of images.

I will most likely have more posted later.

Monday, October 25, 2004

PhRMA Annual Report

I found this great annual report from Big PhRMA, that had these cool graphs in them showing industry spending:

It's apparent that the pharmacuetical industry wants to make it clear that they're spending more money on research and development than they are on direct-to-consumer advertising. These numbers are combined from the member corporations of PhRMA, so a closer look at each corporations spending on R&D in relation to advertising of solely their products, the ratio will be different.

I also found this other document produced by PhRMA that states that the FDA didn't issue a draft guidance for electronic or broadcast advertising of prescription medication until 1997, and wasn't finalized until 1999. Previous to this, most pharmacuetical advertising was restricted to magazines and newspapers.

On second thought...

I thought about the use of explicit footage of side effects in the commercials, but after a few days of consideration it seems a bit obvious and almost cliche to include the "reality" of something that's spun.

I'm still having trouble finding prescription medication commercials on TV. I've been watching TV while doing pretty much everything in hopes of seeing a commercial and recording it, and it's sort of distracting. Comedy central seems to have a fair amount of pharmacuetical commercials. I was checking network TV to see if there was a higher percentage of them, but I didn't seem to see as many.

I think what I'll do from now on is mute, or lower the volume on the TV until the commercials come on, then I can focus most of my attention on them for 5 minutes or whatever while doing my other work.

Actually, an idea just came to me. If I could use multiple windows of video to illustrate the increase in pharmacuetical industry spending on direct-to-consumer advertising. I start by using commercials of the drugs that were initially advertised (not the original commercials, since those would be incredibly difficult to get, but current ones), and gradually add more and more of the newer drugs to the picture frame. I'll have to think about it a bit more...