semester 2, year 2
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II. digital narrative

summary

‘Digital Narrative: Sound and Vision’ is designed to help your to develop your understanding of narrative structures. The module will use examples of practice from film and video history and cover the cinematic syntax that informs our contemporary perception of what narrative is and how it has been used to construct cinematic meaning.

As part of this module, you will explore film, video, sound works, video installation, CD-ROMs and visual online narratives. Through a close study of a chosen existing narrative ranging from film-montage, video performance-art, music videos, video games, digital puppetry, animations, net narratives, you will identify and appraise the context for your own creative work.

You will be given the opportunity to experiment with different approaches to storytelling, and you will be asked to consider the significance of some of the following aspects within a time-based narrative:

  • image and sound in a storyline.
  • What does sound bring to a narrative
  • stories within a gaming environment,
  • the use of time to create short and long term memories,
  • flashbacks and a “reframing” of key events in a plot
  • the management of parallel and concurrent strands in narrative,
  • the need for plot stranding, counterpoint and balance
  • the use of databases as a means of providing variation of storyline
  • interactive and non-interactive narratives
  • ‘classical’ and abstract narrative structures
  • character development
  • tension build up and suspense
  • atmosphere and ambient characteristics in narrative
  • audience: catharsis within narrative
  • narrator ‘voices’
  • location and environment

We will discuss who are the main artists, what are the key debates and artistic-forms. We will explore the critical and artistic precedents of digital narrative and appraise how it is new and distinctive?

You will explore key creative problems using, mainly, Adobe’s After Effects to create a short digital narrative.

You will attend to the mode of exhibition of your work: how will an audience experience the narrative? What creative use can you as artist make of immersion and participation?

module leader

andy bossom /gerda van wyk
mondays 11.30 12.30 and thursdays 11.30 1.30

aims and outcomes

aims

  • To understand the varied contexts of new media narrative and to interpret existing work then create a new artistic response informed by that exposure.
  • To recognise what is innovative about contemporary digital narrative.
  • To conceptualise and plan an informed artistic process that explores the creative work existing in the field and takes an informed position on key issues in storytelling and making narratives, in a chosen medium.
  • To develop the relevant organisational and technical skills needed to compose visual and aural material into digital narratives.
  • To evaluate the context of exhibition and patterns of audience interaction.

outcomes

Students who successfully complete this module will be able to:

  • Evidence effective research skills and analysis of existing material to inform creative practice through a presentation.
  • Demonstrate and articulate a high level of awareness of intellectual, aesthetic and historical concepts of screen based narrative and digital creativity.
  • Synthesise theoretical understandings with practical skills in the production of a new digital narrative.
  • Evidence the commitment to making work, which should be demonstrated through a level of ambition and the personal development of digital skills and techniques applied to a coherent and well organised working practice.

module content

Lecture/seminars: Exhibiting samples of digital narrative drawn from films/videos, multimedia performance, sound works, visual online narratives. Key concepts in narrative theory, video art and cinema practice.

Creative Labs: Creative techniques in storytelling and writing narrative; Group Story development; Planning and organising production.
Technical Labs: Individual and group skill development in editing, effects and composition software. Mainly, but not exclusively Final Cut Pro; Media preparation- sound and video;

learning Sessions

indicative content below

session 1
Introduction to the Module
Teaching/Learning Understanding the course structure and assessments
Activities – Documenting creative processes,
Begin reading “Story” by Robert McKee
Find a photograph with a personal value to bring in next week

session 2
Concepts in Narrative Theory
Teaching/Learning Aesthetic theory and key terminology
Studio Action Creative Workshop 1: Memory and Visualisation
activities Conceptual material;
Write a story accounting your personal reminiscence.
Document your weekly creative processes and engagement in the workshop activity

session 3
“How dare you waste two and a half hours of my f****** time”: McKee’s Story and a Screening of “Adaptation”
Teaching/Learning Breaking rules: postmodernism and narrative
Studio Action Film screening
activities Film discussion and textual analysisContinue reading
Continue writing personal narrative
Prepare for assessment 1 in week 5
Document your weekly creative processes and engagement in the workshop activity

session 4
Key Concepts in Narrative Film Practice and Theory: inc: Montage, Time and Sound,
Teaching/Learning Practical concepts in video;
Key aesthetic theory; Playing with Stills
activities. Linking practical skills with theoretical concepts;
Structuring work;
Prepare for assessment 1 next week
Document your weekly creative processes and engagement in the workshop activity

session 5
Student Presentations
Assessment 1: presentation, discussion.
activities engaging an audience; listening; contributing to the group
Independent Learning Activities Watch the “Wizard of Oz”
practice keying and playing with alpha channels.
document your weekly creative processes and activities

session 6
Visual Effects: Early Cinema Replayed “There’s a twister a’coming”
Teaching/Learning analysis of historical contexts and the historicity of artistic forms;
Early pioneers – Digital Domain ILM
Writing and Storyboarding
activities Organisation and planning.
Work on your proposal / documentation for assessment 2 to present (in progress) next week.
Document your weekly creative processes and activities

session 7
Middle: Digital Narratives and Communities
Teaching/Learning Personal Narrative: memory and reminiscence
Presentation of proposals, prototypes and work in progress
activities idea development, feedback and discussion
read Rush, Michael. New Media in Late 20th- Century Art. World of Art. London: Thames & Hudson, 1999.
visit: one dot zero| adventures in moving image. 2004.
available: http://onedotzero.com/home.php.
Document your weekly creative process

session 8
Key Concepts/Issues Brit Video Art: Experiments with Anti Narrative:
inc: onedotzero
Teaching/Learning Examples of experimental art practice
activities professional contexts and contemporary practice;
continue developing and documenting your own digital narrative
Document your weekly creative process

session 9
Key Concepts/Issues Video and Film as Art: Time-Based Fine Art – Bill Viola and Others inc: Multiscreen Work, AV Installations
Teaching/Learning Case studies; aesthetics;
activities professional contexts and contemporary practice;
Independent Learning Activities. Read (selections) from:
Sider, Larry, Jerry Sider, and Diane Freeman, eds.
Soundscape : The School of Sound Lectures 1998-2001. London: Wallflower Press, 2003.
Create: an audio narrative, soundtrack or narrative voice over to bring to class next week.
Document your weekly creative process

session 10
Key Concepts/Issues – Soundscapes: Narrative Environments
Teaching/Learning Deprioritising the visual; aural imagination, sound skills; the field of sonic digital art activities
Independent Learning Activities. continue with digital narrative, play “The Sims” or any other game
document your weekly creative process

session 11
Key Concepts/Issues Database Driven Narrative: audiences and interaction
Teaching/Learning manipulating time; interactivity and narrative; game-time; DVD authoring: simple interactivity with DVD menus
activities dvd authoring and technical skills
Write your own short treatment of the “Stagger Lee” narrative in the digital spirit
document your weekly creative process

session 12
Stagger Lee: “Remediating the Ballad”: The Oral Narrative vs The Visual Narrative in Pop Music. Did Video Kill The Radio Star?
Teaching/Learning cultural referencing and appropriation; retelling other people’s stories; personal expression through creative storytelling;
activities writing, appreciation, discussion, writing: narrative poetry and lyricism
activities – Prepare mightily to finish your short digital narrative and documentation for presentation next week.

session 13
Show time! – Exhibition of your Short Digital Narrative
Teaching/Learning presentation, active discussion, respectful critique
Finalise portfolio for submission.
Document your weekly creative process and your feelings around the reception of your digital narrative.

session 14
The End: Closure. Finale.
continue exhibition of work;
discussion; module evaluation. personal summaries; evaluate experience;
Studio Action Submit final portfolio for assessment 2
Rest.
(subject to change – here as indication)

learning resources

Essential texts
BBC. BBC – Telling Lives – Digital Storytelling – Digital Stories – Lancashire – Humber – Teenagers – World War ii Memories. 2004.
Available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/tellinglives/.
Kronschnabl, Ana, and Tomas Rawlings. Plug in & Turn On: A Guide to Internet Filmmaking. 2004: particularly
Manovich, Lev. “Foreword to ‘Thinking’ by Lev Manovich.”
McKee, Robert. Story : Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting. London: Methuen, 1998.
one dot zero | adventures in moving image. 2004.
Available: http://onedotzero.com/home.php. 20th September 2004.
Rush, Michael. New Media in Late 20th-Century Art. World of Art. London: Thames & Hudson, 1999.
Sider, Larry, Jerry Sider, and Diane Freeman, eds. Soundscape : The School of Sound Lectures 1998-2001. London: Wallflower Press, 2003.
Taylor, Angie. Creative after Effects 6.0. London: Focal Press, 2004.
Recommended
Digital Cinema, Time Based New Media – Background.
Hanson, Matt. The End of Celluloid: Film Futures in the Digital Age. RotoVision, 2004.
Hanson, Matt, and Shane Walter. Motion Blur: Onedotzero’s Adventures in Moving Image. (Including Dvd). London: Laurence King Publishing.
Le Grice, Malcolm. Experimental Cinema in the Digital Age. London: BFI, 2001.
Lister, Martin, et al. “2 New Media and Visual Culture: 2.8. Digital Cinema: (2.8.2) Virtual Realism, (2.8.3) Special Effects and Hyperreality, (2.8.4) Thoroughly (Post)Modern Mélies, or the Return of the Repressed in Digital Cinema and (2.8.5) Audiences and Effects.” New Media : A Critical Introduction. London: Routledge, 2003.
Rush, Michael. “Chapter 2: Video Art: New Media, Conceptual Video and Personal Narratives.” New Media in Late 20th-Century Art. London: Thames & Hudson, 1999. 36.
Rush, Michael.. “Chapter 3: Video Installation Art: Sculptural Space and Surveillance, Exploring the Political, Exploring the Lyrical and Exploring Identities.” New Media in Late 20th-Century Art. London: Thames & Hudson, 1999. 116.

Sound – theory
Bull, Michael, and Les Back. “Introduction: Into Sound.” The Auditory Culture Reader. Eds. Michael Bull and Les Back. Oxford: Berg, 2003. 1-18.
Computers, Apple. Idvd: Questions and Answers. 2004.
Available: http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=60788. 20th September 2004.
Ihde, Don. “Auditory Imagination.” The Auditory Culture Reader. Eds. Michael Bull and Les Back. Oxford: Berg, 2003. 61-66.

Narrative
Aristotle, and Malcolm Heath. Poetics. Penguin Classics. London: Penguin, 1996.
Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990.
Mandell, Ted. Circling the Circular Narrative in Electronic Book Review 6/7 Image + Narrative. 1998. electronic book review.
Available: http://www.altx.com/ebr/ebr6/ebr6.htm or
http://www.electronicbookreview.com/v3/ … omasulain. 20th September 2004.
Rushdie, Salman. The Wizard of Oz. London: BFI Publishers, 1992.

Technical
Adobe. After Effects Tutorials. 2004.
Available: http://www.adobe.com/products/tips/aftereffects.html. 20th September 2004.
Apple Computer. idvd: Questions and Answers. 2004.
Available: http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=60788. 20th September 2004.

Journals
The LRC may not have all of these periodicals. You can find them in other London based university libraries.
See in the LRC for more details.
Studio international, Art & artists, Afterimage, Millenium film journal, Undercut, Time out, Screen, Screen education

other learning resources (journals, databases, Websites)
Aspect: The Chronicle of New Media Art. 2004. Apect Magazine.
Available: http://www.aspectmag.com/issues/.
20th September 2004.
Burdick, Steve Tomasula and Anne. Electronic Book Review 6/7 Image + Narrative. 2004. electronic book review.
Available: http://www.altx.com/ebr/ebr6/ebr6.htm or
http://www.electronicbookreview.com/v3/ … omasulain.
20th September 2004.
Hull Time Based Arts, artists and authors. Hull Time Based Arts: Live Art and New Media. 5th July 2004. URL. Hull Time Based Arts.
Available: http://www.timebase.org/.
20th September 2004.
Mott, Iain. Australian Sound Design Project: About. 21st August 2002 2002. The University of Melbourne.
Available: http://www.sounddesign.unimelb.edu.au/site/about.html. 20th September 2004.
Netherlands Media Art Institute: Time Based Arts. 2004. .
Netherlands Media Art Institute, Montevideo/Time Based Arts.
Available: http://www.montevideo.nl/en/index.html.
20th September 2004.
Various. Archive of Performance and New Media Art Essays:. 2004. Available: http://www.location1.org/essays.html.
http://atomfilms.shockwave.com/
http://www.onedotzero.com/
Bizarre Flash Narrative Project from Macromedia
http://www.macromedia.com/resources/edu … arrative/#
pop promos and narrative – fx driven
http://www.palmpictures.com/videos/thew … ondry.html – DVD trailer
Cybersociology #6: The Virtual Ethnographer
http://www.socio.demon.co.uk/magazine/6/dicksmason.html
Short films, web films
http://www.zeroland.co.nz/film_short.html
Short Cuts, Narrative Film and Hypertext
http://www.mindspring.com/~dbalcom/short_cuts.html
Center for Digital Storytelling
http://www.storycenter.org/
See the Digital Storytelling Cookbook
http://www.storycenter.org/cookbook.html
ALTX Online Network
http://www.altx.com/home.html
electronic book review
http://www.electronicbookreview.com/v3/
Description: a collection of excellent new media material
Digital Storytelling: Is it Art?
http://hotwired.wired.com/synapse/brain … dex0a.html
Sightings: Research: Example Projects: Digital Storytelling
http://sightings.kidsown.ie/research/ex … elling.php
Ken Burn’s Approach to Still Images in the Documentary Narrative
http://www.florentinefilms.com/
Description: the Ken Burn’s style of ‘still image’ documentary has been furthered by Apple’s iMovie. iMovie offers a very simple tool to reproduce the effect where still images are ‘revealed’ to a sound track.

Films, DVD and Video
Examples will be drawn from this list. Other films may be substituted.
Various. onedotzero select. London, 2003.
Various. onedotzero select_dvd1. London, 2003.
Rybczynski, Zbig. I: Media (1972-1980). (1972-1980).
—. Ii: Steps (1987-1988). (1987-1988).
Adaptation. (2002), Directed by Spike Jonz
Wizard of Oz, The (1939) Directed by Victor Fleming
Short Cuts (1993) Directed by Robert Altman
Prospero’s Books (1991)Directed by Peter Greenaway
Star Wars (1977) Directed by George Lucas
Man With a Movie Camera a.ka. “Chelovek s kinoapparatom” (1929) Directed by Dziga Vertov
Works by Bill Viola
Twister (1996) Directed by Jan de Bont
Various pop promos and advertisements

learning activities

On the ‘Digital Narrative: Sound and Vision’ module, the student will encounter a variety of learning activities: Lectures, practical workshops, demonstrations and periods of self study (we recommend 12 hrs per week). We encourage a variety of learning styles:
We have a three hour weekly slot. This will allow a useful blend of lectures/seminars, presentations of case studies, studio practice, technical workshops and give time for full length screenings of video/film.
The studio practice will combine individual and small group work in computer labs and on location.
When relevant events occur during the running of the module we will organise group visits to other organisations. The ICA http://www.ica.org.uk/ often shows work that will be relevant to this course.
The assessment for this module calls for active presentation and peer critique of small development projects you will work on independently and present throughout the module. This is know as guided self reflection and peer critique.
Therefore, we will encounter an extensive variety of learning activities on this module.

Self-study and practice is crucial when approaching the software used on this module. We will not have time to cover the full list above in the workshops – just a selection. Being familiar with all the aspects on the list with give you a good grounding in FCP. The workshop activities will give you the chance to practice the elements you want to play with.

assignment 1

Presentation of a Digital Narrative (25%)

Briefing date: Week 1: verbal presentation in Week 5
Length: 10mins (500 words)
Due date: Week 5 (hand in written version) 17th march 2010
Weighting 25%

The purpose of this assignment is to extend your awareness of the plurality and diversity of digital narratives. You will offer a verbal and written critique of the
(i) aesthetic and (ii) technical aspects of your chosen narrative form. A short extract may be demonstrated from whatever work you choose. We will discuss what to choose in the sessions, but any narrative form that relates to digital practice can be considered: film, video piece, installation, hypertext story, game. etc.

grading criteria 1

These are the criteria that you will be assessed upon:
• evidence of a well-written and researched aesthetic analysis:
(i) including an interpretation or ‘reading’ of the narrative
(ii) insights into narrative form, structure and technique
• a clearly articulated technical appreciation:
(i) how did they do that?
(ii) describe the creative context for the use of technology in your example; how innovative was it? how does it relate to the history of the form?

This is how standards/grades will be determined for assessment 1:

0 – 19
The design and execution of the presentation is poor.

20 – 39
Fails almost entirely to communicate an original message. Usually through a lack of logical and technical competence.

40 – 49
Badly structured presentation, confused. Shows inability to select, structure, and prioritise information; omitting many important areas. Lacks cohesion, scrappily presented. In order to pass, the presentation should communicate its message, although it may only meet its aims partially or be confused in aim. Technically flawed, at times incompetent.

50 – 59
Successful presentation, but shows problems with structure or execution which lead to some confusion in delivery. delivery is flawed, so that it may lack cohesion, integration. May omit some important (but not crucial) aspects of the subject matter. Overall, technically competent. Generally appropriate use of visuals, but perhaps there’s a better way of doing it.

60 – 69
Overall, a successful presentation that fulfils its aim very well and with clarity. Cohesive in structure and impact. Carefully constructed delivery with characteristics of original original research. There may be aspects of the delivery that do not work e.g. conventions used without thought.

70 – 79
Excellent presentation. Well conceived, perceptive and imaginative. Clearly structured. Very successful in communicating an original message. All elements combine to knowingly create the required atmosphere. Technically assured: appropriate use of a variety of presentation techniques.

80 – 100
Exceptional presentation. Outstanding in its conceptualisation, perceptive, articulate and imaginative. Clearly structured, maintaining high levels of technical competence. Very successful in communicating on both informative and emotive levels. All elements combine to knowingly create the required level of accuracy. Technically the delivery will be of professional standard

assignment 2

A Digital Narrative (three part assignment) 75%

Assessment Rationale
Part 1: Concept Proposal 25%
Part 2: Essay: Personal, Aesthetic and Technical Development 25%
Part 3: A Short Digital Narrative 50%
This assessment is a portfolio of work you have assembled through the module, edited and improved for submission.
You submit the portfolio at the end of the module.

Part 1 and Part 2 are done continuously during the module, shared with the tutors during classes – then included in the final portfolio and assessed formally at that point. You will have clear feedback from tutors and peers in order to improve the project proposal and advice on what to select from your experience to write up for Part 2. Part 2 is generated from your own procedures for documenting your work. Instead of handing in an un-edited sketch or note book you will write up three carefully selected “decisive moments” – this could include a short analysis of your approach to a workshop activity, a particular insightful discovery you have or a ingenius way of solving a technical problem.

Please note the timing of assessments (details below). We ask you to do the assessment in this fashion for several reasons: it should help you to submit a clearer portfolio of work and, crucially, it allows an element of continuous revision by you of your work in the light of feedback from tutors and peers.

Part 1: Concept Proposal:
Briefing date: Week 1: verbally present in Week 7: handed in Week 14.
Length: 10mins (500 words, double spaced and 12 point size)
Due date: Present in Week 7
Hand in: Written version in Week 14 in portfolio
Weighting: 25% of ass 2

These are the criteria that you will be assessed upon:
• A well composed outline of your creative objectives (2-4 paragraphs);
• A well organised and creative storyboard / shooting script (4-5 pages or equivalent: approx: 1 minute per page);
• A clear statement of digital form (DVD, CD-ROM, website etc);
• Presence of sample content indicative of the intended style (length dependent on chosen media);

Part 2: Essay: Personal, Aesthetic and Technical Development
Briefing date: Week 1
Length: 1000 words [double spaced and 12 point size] Due date: Write continuously. this should be in the form of a series of (minimum) weekly blog posts – Submit Week 14
Weighting: 25% of ass 2

Criteria and how to complete this part of the assignment:
• Clearly document and expand, in writing, on three decisive, important moments drawn from your own process. These must indicate how you approached the development of your idea.
• Draw from your own personal approach to self-reflective practice. This entails always documenting your own working methods: eg. systematically keep a decision diary, blog, ‘day’ book, sketch book, memos, envelope doodles or notes.
• Evidence of engagement with self-development: you could choose to write up workshop activities that engaged you. Write up THREE examples systematically and clearly.

Part 3: A Short Experimental Digital Narrative
Briefing date: Week 1;
Presented to group: Week 13 and 14;
Handed in: Week 14
Weighting: 50% of ass 2
Time spent on assessment 2: 140 hrs included tutored and independent work.

These are the criteria that you will be assessed upon:
• Show a combination sound, vision and other media to achieve original results
• Exhibit a range of methods to assist in solving creative problems
• Demonstrate technical competence
• Show an awareness of audience processes

How to complete this assessment:
Play with narrative in a time-based media using After Effects (or other agreed software of your choice) as your tool. Consider your audience and exhibition mode. Publish your work in one of these suggested forms:

  1. digital video (DVD)
  2. A sound work (CD)
  3. A CD-ROM
  4. A Visual Online Narrative
  5. a reconstructed narrative
  6. a generatively driven narrative
  7. a non narrative randomly chosen piece

grading criteria 2

This is how standards/grades will be determined for assessment 2:

0 – 19
Fails to document or evidence your process. The creative aims and concept are non-existent. The technical work is inaccessible.

20 – 39
Fails almost entirely to evidence your process usually through a mixture of poor, unrigorous planning, organisation and presentation. Shows crucial omissions in areas of the assessment, or meaning has disappeared in a welter of disorganised material. The digital narrative works but is ill conceived.

40 – 49
The submission communicates with difficulty, audience has to concentrate to draw out what it means and form shape from the work. Badly structured, confused. Shows inability to select, structure, and prioritise information; omitting many important areas of the submission and/or containing a lot of irrelevant material. Lacks cohesion, scrappily presented. In order to pass, the submission should contain the majority
of the assessment parts. You main only just meet its aims partially or be confused in aim. The digital narrative works technically, but is not at all original or innovative.

50 – 59
Successful in documenting your personal, creative and technical development, but shows problems with structure or execution which lead to some confusion in parts. The digital narrative often lacks in imagination, and may be uninspiring. Structure is flawed, so that it may lack cohesion, integration. May omit some important (but not crucial) aspects of the assessment parts. Overall, technically competent.

60 – 69
Overall, a successful documentation which fulfils its aim very well and with clarity. Cohesive in structure and impact. There may be very minor parts of the submission which do not add to the documentation or would benefit from a little additional editing. The digital narrative is well conceived and executed, holding the audience during presentation and stimulating debate.

70 – 79
Excellent submission, exciting and often innovative. Well conceived, perceptive, articulate and imaginative. Clearly structured documentation, maintaining high levels of audience interest. Very successful arguments and discourse. All elements combine to create an excellent submission. The digital narrative would stand public scrutiny and will be technically excellent.

80 – 100
Exceptional submission, exciting and innovative. Outstanding in its conceptualisation, perceptive, articulate and imaginative. The digital narrative will maintain high levels of audience interest and be technically excellent. Very successful in communicating the most important aspects of your creative aspirations and aims. Inspirational work to others.

You must achieve a minimum mark of 40% overall in the module in order to pass.
Your module mark is obtained by aggregating the individual marks of the module assessments into weightings shown above.
The marking criteria above are intended to assist you in the preparation for your module

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