Guest Speaker: Simon Roberts

Simon Roberts is a British photographer based in Brighton, UK. He originally studied  Human Geography at the University of Sheffield which has informed much of his subsequent photographic practice. Often employing expansive landscape photographs, his approach is one of creating wide-ranging surveys of our time, which communicate on important social, economic and political issues.

in this session, he talked about doing licensing for our images and stresses the importance of considering who has access to our images.

Simon Roberts initially wanted to create a body of work, to form a project, so he spent a year photographing all across Russia with his wife, who could translate the Russian language. He brought his Mamiya camera and shot extensively on film throughout his one year journey. They travelled throughout Russia, taking in 65 destinations from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok. He was interested in reading photographs and pick out details. He wanted to engage with the people they lived with, their hosts. This resulted in the book and exhibition Motherland and the exhibition Polyarnye Nochi. His images of people conveyed a sense of scale, giving a real palpable sense of what Russia meant.

 

Roberts travelled throughout England in a motor home using a large format camera capturing people at play, and exploring the relationship between people and the places they visit. compare to his images of Russia, there was no coherent voice about the English Landscape at the time. He wanted to avoid what was done before.  not to repeat, but to echo it.

The way he approached was to first nurture his audience through early crowdfunding, asking the public for ideas. he posted images on newspapers to create awareness so that more people could follow his journey.

By elevation, it lifts the mid ground., gave him a better opportunity to see the landscape and build narratives into it. By photographing the theatrical and using the atmosphere to his advantage, the less likely for him to get stopped taking pictures. And this resulted in the book and exhibition We English

though this project he became obsessed with the idea of how places have changed over time, and how people relate to landscapes. About showing his images in different platforms, Roberts encouraged the Press of free use of certain type of images that represent them. He noted that book last longer and magazines short lifespan. Exhibitions were more of an installation.

In his latest projects, he was exploring the landscapes in postcards. he created new postcards by pairing two images together which would infuse new meaning into it.

To end of his session, he showed a film of his recent works, where he explored issues relating to aesthetics, performance, and individual and collective identities within our “culture of instantaneity”. He alluded that the Swiss landscape resembles a theatre set, where tourists are transported to officially designated areas of natural beauty to gaze upon epic views from the safety of stage-managed viewpoints.

However, most of the subjects depicted were clearly of Chinese nationalities who happened to be there on that day, which of course do not represent the generic meaning of the “tourist”.  This video didn’t sit well with me, not because I am one of them. I am not. But I do know that if this were to be shown to a Chinese audience, it could well provoke a negative reaction. I hope to see a better representation of “tourists” in  those locations.

A Body of work

The changing face of photography in the 21st century
Professor Richard Sawdon Smith
Dean of Arts & Media, NUA

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Richard Sawdon Smith is an internationally exhibiting and award-winning British photographer. He is Professor of Photography and Dean of Media at Norwich University of the Arts. He is a former winner of the John Kobal/NPG Photographic Portrait Award (1997), a Board Member of the bookRoom Press, on the Editorial Advisory Panel of the Journal of Photography & Culture  and Co-editor of Langford’s Basic Photography and The Book is Alive!. His photographs and writing are widely published.

For his main research field, his specialism was into the photographic self-portraiture; an artist representations of their own diseased or damaged body exploring issues of ill health, identity and subjectivity, sexuality and classification; the AIDS bod; photography in relation to institutions practices, photographic archives and tattooing; and the artist/photographic book.

For the Professor, his practice was about developing new ideas but not sacrificing quality of the image. His male nudes courted much controversy at the time and there had been many negative responses. There is a line what is fine art and degrading these subjects.

  • Exiles of Normality was about photography and the representation of Diseased Bodies.
  • Pandemic: Facing AIDS
  • Somehow became a poster boy for HIV. So he did more posters.
  • The damaged narcissist  – a different personal.
  • The Anatomical man – widely publicised exhibition. Images published.

After working on a series of projects, he became an object of interest for other photographers/ artists.

Infinite surface

In his most recent collaborative project between the artists, Jonathan Armour and Richard Sawdon Smith was their first public output is the work Infinite Surface. They created a 360-degree image of him using multiple cameras rigs, made into a 3D model avatar, with an inversed skin, so it becomes looking through from inside. It was a VR experience.

They were playing with layers of the real, memories, fiction and the imagined, tattooing, a process using needles to puncture the skin like the blood tests, highlights the medical procedures of illness, making visible the behind-the-scenes routines, referencing not only pain and the rupturing of the body’s surface but the repetition and banalities of life under the clinical gaze.

 

Towards the end of the session, he encouraged students to explore deeper into their research, and think of approaches they have never thought of possible with collaboration.

My only question for him (though i didnt asked) was, if he had encouraged students to collaborate so as to unlock a greater potential in their works, but in this case, he was successful because he had the access to those multiple camera rigs which was provided by his collaborating partner. If the school does not have such equipment, how can we get around, in the capability of a student with a limited budget?

Christian is the editor of documentally.com and specialises in creative technology and communications, working with multimedia creation, social media documenting and amplification. He consults internationally, once in Singapore, and has worked with various news agencies, political parties, the UN, and the arts and corporate sector. 

Christian spent his early days switching multiple jobs and had many different experiences. He was able to get many clients because people saw him jumping from boat to boats working on different projects. Christian Payne is interested in telling stories with images and believes through talking, teaching and documenting, he is able to sustain his core businesses. He is currently working with agencies on using the phone cameras to take photographs. Just need to stand in the right place and shoot at the right time. and only require three shots: Wide shot, middle shot & close up shot is enough to produce compelling content.

Christian noted that the year 2002 had three key disruptors: the emergence of mobile phones, social network platforms and the accessibility of the visual form meant that more people would respond to contents in real time than ever. Thus, the importance of using technology to pull focus on the immediacy of the event/ activity. In this sense, it is no longer about being the photographer, but to think of the larger context of networking. where context matters so much now, it becomes how to effectively become a citizen journalist. Think about:

  1. Why did this connect with people?
  2. How do u connect with your community?
  3. How can you do this better?

Authenticity: the ability to let go of who you think you should be, in order to embrace who you are. How can you connect your community through shared experience communication?

All media is digital, but is all digital mobile?When the community creates the mashing of the media in front of them, what people want now is the shared experience.Depending on the nature and immediacy of the content,  some modes of application and platforms Christian uses include:

Apps: twitter |  Audioboo | Instagram | foursquare |Wire.com
Platforms: my blog | Posterous | twitter | youtube |Chat square | snapseed | Flickr| #pan | PGP Mail | Newspaper | Online news | My blog| Twitter |

as much as we want to share the news and contents to the whole world, Christian stresses on about protecting ourselves from potential security lapses that it may bring. hence, introducing Wire.com, the ability to chat in a secure network where phone for text, geography data, video, photos, audio are all encrypted.

Why audio?

  • Less obtrusive
  • Multitasking media
  • Theatre
  • Intimate

voice recorder pro – professional voice recorder that can export in multiple formats and platforms. remember to invest on mic shield.

we can make use of different apps to curate in various areas because whatever can’t be network will become less important.

PHOTOS | AUDIO | VIDEO | NEWSLETTER
Storifty.com  | Thinklink.com  | 360 camera: Ricoh Thetas

Finally, Tips and advice
– Give images away, workshop, podcasts, Vlog, blog/newsletter
– Nurture your networks
– Think where your photos belong.
– Consider using creative commons
– Experiment with non-photography based sites
– Talk to traditional media
– how to make people subscribe to you and then retain them (case in point: OurManInside.com)

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It was a great pleasure to meet Christian Payne as our guest lecturer and I had the opportunity to accompany him around the school campus. For someone like me who has been out of touch with using social media platforms, it was definitely a great learning experience as he personally gave me a lot of useful tips on creating the visual storytelling contents and how I can utilise technology to amplify exposure to our works. I still have much to learn in this area.

PLATFORM: Researching your ideas

Session 2
In this session at the ideas factory, will be with Will Taitt from Hethel Innovation advising on researching our ideas and things to consider when setting up our own creative business, or to venture into the world of freelancing. this session has helped me understand the journey from an idea to a successful business.

Demand can come from four types of audiences:
Underserved = Knowing my  Competitor landscapes
Pressing problems =Knowing my  Customer challenge
Someone =Knowing my Customer segments
Will pay to solve =Knowing my  Customer buying power

The question to ask is:  Should I do something that has already exist, but could I better than them? What do people want?

Speed | cost | service | extra | performance | style | reliance | reputation

Doable is Key

  • SCOPE: feasibility?
  • Costs: are there enough money?
  • Time: are there enough hours in your day?

Understanding Customers

The way to understand customers is to ask them questions. talking to them is important. There are three key areas to think about before diving into the business model.

JOBS: what are they trying to get done?
– Functionality: when your customers try to perform or complete a specific task or solve a specific problem.
– Social: when your customers want to look good or gain power or status
– Personal /Emotional: When your customers seek a special emotional state.

PAIN: what stops them from doing it?
– Obstacles:  any facts or issues that impair a customers’ ability to do their jobs
– Undesired Outcomes: these can be functional social or personal, or just something about a job your customer doesn’t like

GAINS: What do customers want to get from it?
– Requirement: 
these are gains without which a solution wouldn’t work.
– Expectation: 
these are the basic gain that we expect from a solution
– Desire: 
these are gains that are more than what we expect from a solution but we would love to have them

How do we understand our business?

The Offer

The Inner Working

Customer Segments

Value proposition
Value proposition is what makes your offer attractive to customers, by helping them gain desirable outcomes or get rid of undesirable ones.

Customer Channels
The channels you reach customers through relates to communication purchase + delivery + customer support.

Customer relationships
The types of relationship you build to acquire and retain customers can include Personal assistance, Self-service, User communities.

Revenue Streams
How you going to charge, what you going to charge? All parts of your offer can be sources of Revenue through methods like sales, subscription, licensing. Part of making a revenue stream successful is setting the right price.

Key Activities
Key activities are what you need to Do to run your business, relating to Bringing in Resources, Core Business or Sales + Marketing

Key Resources
Key resources are what you need to have to run your business. Some key resources needed include: Physical Aspects, Intellectual aspects, Human Aspects, Financial Aspects

Place, equipment, cost of operation, design, brand, designers, engineers, investors, top management, ambassador, etc.

Your Partners
Working with partners can help me carry out key activities or get key resources more effectively, quickly or cheaply.

Cost Structure
Your cost structure describes all the cost your key activities and key resources require.
Fixed and variable: What costs me money all the time, what cost me money some of the time? Etc.

Ultimately

Test the business structure! The best way is to go out talk to people.

Conclusion

As discussed during the session the business structure was based on the LEAN start-up model, which has helped me not only better understand what it takes to develop a good creative service/product, but also understand what drives my business and how I could test my business model. I have learnt about researching my market and consider how I can adapt my ideas based on my research.

 

Ideas Factory

Sebastian Owen,  Employment officer

This session is for photographers. Why?

  • Help art students with self-promotion, portfolio prep, and approaching potential employers
  • Self-employment, freelancing and start-up business…
  • Nuts & Bolts – Business support, financial and legal clinics
  • create networking opportunities
  • Big Book Crit
  • Creative industries networking.

Who am I, how i can help them? Etc.

“How do I practice networking skills?” – lecture sessions have been in place. Series for creative business start-ups:

27 Jan – How to have an idea
1 Feb – Researching your idea
8 Feb – Setting up your business
15 Feb – Your client, our brand, image
8 Mar – Learning to network
15 Mar – Pitching an event
22 Mar – How we started

 

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Pricing and selling your work.

3 things to think about: Cost, Value, Market

Costs

  • Materials & Supplies
  • time as costs
  • Be realistic
  • Running costs
  • Travel costs
  • Making a profit
  • In general cost of materials + cost of labour + overheads = total costs
  • Total costs + desired profit = final price.

Value

Things to consider:

  • How unique is my work with this area?
  • Is my work selling already?
  • How well known is my work?
  • More exp = more able to charge

‘value’ is extremely subjective. Some ppl will buy your work and feel they are getting a bargain…

Market

Talking about the other pros who offer similar services to me and the types of clients you may have.

  • Research
  • Where your work fits: Is it high-end craft or fine art eg?
  • Few ways to start:
  • Work in similar medium to u
  • Produce work of a comparable style
  • Similar range of experiences and accomplishment
  • Have comparable reputation and profile
  • Ave exhibited in similar venues
  • Aiming at comparable customer base
  • What is already for sale in your arena. That is your market, where do u fit?
  • Research the type of clients’ u have and research the scale of their project/ budgets.

Selling work through galleries/shops

  • Use same 3 elements to decide on a price.
  • Think about including commission if sold through a gallery/shop

 

B.sowesby@nua.ac.uk

@ideasfactorynua

 

Guest Speaker: Luke Stephenson

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Luke Stephenson is an English photographer who focuses on photographing life in Britain and the British psyche, what to many epitomises the eccentricity of Britain. Often humorous in their outlook, his series range from prize budgerigars to the World Beard and Moustache Championships. Whether animate or inanimate objects, Stephenson creates affectionate portraits of his subjects and documents worlds often hidden from the mainstream.

He graduated in 2005 and has worked as a freelance photographer since. The same year he was awarded the Jerwood Photography Prize and in 2006 was selected as one of ten photographers to showcase their work at the International Festival of Fashion and Photography at Hyeres, France.

Luke has published two photo books to date, his first was a series of Show Birds published in 2012 and the second published in 2014 is a series exploring the wonderful world of the 99 ice cream. He has also worked with film and moving images.

An incomplete dictionary of show birds is about show birds, with a contrast with the thing and background colours. Luke got into phone magazine, they were interested in selling his prints, the Bird Book. He met Steven Gill who does his own book but steven had advice him to print himself would be much better.

Cornflakes, he shot a thousand images of cornflakes. and make a short timelapse film.

The clown Easter egg was an interesting project. It made me think of them whether it is a portraiture or still life.

Other works include:

Big Shot Polaroid
Biocannia
Agi & Sam Lookbooks
Sunday times style

In conclusion his advice to all of us were to think of the little projects that we like to do, that could potentially get you real works.

 

DOUBLE NEGATIVE VISUAL EFFECTS: MARK ARDINGTON

Today we had a special opportunity to attend a special lecture with a speaker Mark Ardington. I have been extremely elated as this was the first time I have seen an actual oscar award winner in the lecture hall.

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Mark Williams Ardington is a British visual effects artist. he received the 2015 Academy Award for his work on the film Ex Machina in the category for Best Visual Effects. He shared the award with three other visual effects artists

Mark Ardington graduated from Bournemouth University and was an Animation and rigging specialist with 19 years of experience working in film, TV series and commercials. He is currently a creature Tech Director at Double Negative.

As he talks about the Ex Machina, he received a rigging brief via LinkIn, which was wonderful for networking. In it contains the director’s notes and specifications., which was to:

  1. Seamlessly match Alicia Vikanders performance & movement
  2. Retain original plate as possible
  3. Inner mechanics should be base on current cutting edge tech and not be distracting
  4. Must work towards the aesthetics of camera lens & lights (Particularly how light catch on machine’s inner parts, focusing on the femininity of the machine)

Since Mark Ardington doesn’t participate in the actual shoot productions, hence there are many technicalities that his team had to iron out with the production team.

Things Ava do in the script:

  • Standing, walking, sat at table drawing, lying in bed, getting dressed/undressed, fight (arm gets broken off)
  • No motion capture or green screen – not interfere film making process.
  • No animation team to fineness the tracking result
  • No supercool effects

His team had to use the Rae track in its purest form, which everything the body trackers did do ended in the screen. The second rotoscoping work had to be highly accurate.

The director chose to film the sequence in ANEM. Upon further consideration of the challenges of the production, there was a relatively small crew for this production, with a limited number of shot sculpt days. All rig updates need to be non-destructive, lots of glass, reflections and refractions in the environment to accommodate.

after the initial sequence shots came to him, his team had to replace limbs and trunk, head & neck using joining-rings to track.  With the issues encountered on shorts, torso, wrist & ankle join-rings, The project was so complex that the brief sort of evolved during the effects production.

The costume fitting variance of Ava was based humanoid rig built using Pinocchio, in-house rigging system with two levels of detail. it was an initial basic rig. the range of motion animation was tested on the initial rig on some onset photo still references. it had multiple body suits and they had to use four versions, after which the model was updated using the on set photo booth body capture system.

extra rigging modules added, and the secondary layer of rigging was added to enable fine tune sculpt ability on join rings. The Body track workflow:

  • Initial 2ndtrack with 3d equaliser
  • Lock good channels & resolve
  • Tweak dneg photo fit in maya
  • -single frame line art & costume fit
  • project locators onto model
  • apply solve
  • refine bumps in curve
  • 2nd ‘slide-stop’ in nuke

This was the result of multiple departments’ contribution which ended up him receiving the oscar award, largely because no one screw up too much.

the result of everyone’s effort was that these sequences there was a mix of soft and hard surfaces, White cuffs & metal bones structure remain solid, character’s muscles could extend and flex without hiccups, Tendons & cables jibble, Stomach internals have tiny mech movements (gyroscopes spinning, kidneys pumping, etc). Intestines could bend and flex. All areas of

All areas of Ava’s internals are fully scalable and can be tweaked independently if needed with fine tuning tracks and tweaker controls so as to have a fully flexible head and neck rig,  as well as independent control over both surface mechanics. other improvements include:

  • soft lenses
  • shallow depth of field
  • large distortions
  • grainy plates
  • some low lighting shots
  • tracks needed to be ultra tights….

Translates have a variable precision ‘multiplier, so their value can be factored down for very precise hand-tracking. and then there was the crazy IK (inverse kinetics), FK technique, which caters to off the wall rigging solutions such as knee jitter encountered when tracking walk cycles using IK.

Through this project, Mark Ardington shared the lessons he had learnt, which was that flexibility was a key demand for Ava’s rigging solution. Broad controls, with fine tuner controls and sculpting the character were all part of the contribution.