Ethnicities, Counterpublics, Appropriation and Social Media Symposium

On the 8th June MCC hosted an international symposium on the dynamics of activism on social media. The organisers Dr Elizabeth Poole and Dr Eva Giraud (MCC) and Dr Ed de Quincey (Computer Science) arranged the event to present some of their findings from the British Academy funded project, ‘Who speaks for Muslims? Political frictions and the politics of appropriation in social media’.

We began the day by examining some of the negative tweeting of right wing groups both in the US and the Netherlands. Speakers came from the Utrecht Data School to demonstrate the tweeting of populist politician Geert Wilders (Gerwin van Schie and Iris Muis) and discuss the bias in Government systems that categorise and discriminate against ethnic minorities (Gerwin van Schie with Nicolas Lopez Coombs). Then Munira Cheema, from the University of Sussex, explored the struggles around constructions of national identity on social media between different groups in Pakistan. In the afternoon, the mood became more hopeful as we heard how social media can be used to give voice to minorities through blogging in Finland in ‘Migrant Tales’ (Kaarina Nikunen, University of Tampere) and how Twitter has been a vehicle for unity following the death of MP Jo Cox (Beth Johnson, University of Leeds).

We also welcomed two keynote speakers, Dr Pollyanna Ruiz (University of Sussex) who delivered a fascinating talk on the role of masks in online activism and Dr Dima Saber (Birmingham City University) who finished off the day nicely with her critical analysis of the theory and methodologies used to analyse social media, with reference to her own work with Arab activists.

It was a fascinating and hopeful day with fantastic speakers and stimulating discussion. Thanks to all who came!

Concluding this year’s Digital Video module

What a term! And what a shame it’s already coming to an end! To mark the end of this year’s Digital Video module, we had a special Student Film of the Year award! Voted for by the Digital Video students themselves, Anonymous received the best film award.

Amy, Przemek, Fang Yi and Aria with their awards

Created by Amy, Przemek, Fang Yi, Aria and AJ, the film Anonymous addresses the problem of alcohol addiction and the importance of coming forward to share your own, or a friend’s, struggle with it.

After the award ceremony we all went outside to get a group photo.

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Group selfie!

Well done to all of our Digital Video students for the great effort put into your films and workbooks!

Sting for Student Films, using After Effects

This year we are introducing video logos, or “stings”, to go at the beginning of the student productions. The stings act as sort of a stamp, to signify that the videos have been made here in MCC. The sting for the second year module Creating Awareness Campaigns is now complete and ready to go onto the student films:

Inspired by a tribute video to graphic designer Paul Rand, this sting is short animation accompanied by a simple drum score. The animation was made entirely using Adobe After Effects CC.


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Overview of a project in Adobe After Effects.

Each element of the sting is individually animated, allowing for complete control over the appearance, movement and duration of each of the words and shapes. They are all animated using Keyframes, which may look intimidating at first, but is actually quite straight forward once you’ve got your head around it.

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Keyframes are represented by the little diamonds.

Basically what you’re saying is “at point A the position is this, then at point B I want the position to be this”. After effects allows you to create as many Keyframes as you like, so you can go from point A to point B, whiz to point C, and then be back to point D in time for tea! If you’re not happy with your configured Keyframes, simply click on one and press delete on the keyboard to remove it.

To enable the fluid movement around the shapes and words, Camera layers have been created. The Camera layers act like a real video camera, you can choose a lens, set the aperture, focus point and even zoom in and out! Just like shapes and objects, the Camera can also be positioned wherever you like and you can use keyframes to move the camera, spin it around and adjust the focus.

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On the left is a birds eye view of the camera (the large triangle) performing a pan. On the right is what the camera is seeing.

Moving a Camera around a 3D environment can be time consuming, but is also a whole lot of fun!

The music in the sting video was made with the help of first-year Music Tech student Hassaan. Using a free-style drum riff, Hassaan played along to the video to match each beat to the movement of the shapes.

Hassan and I had a lot of fun experimenting with different sounds and getting the beats just right.

Each piece of the drum kit had its own microphone to ensure the best quality of recording. After a few practice runs, we nailed the final drum track. Hassaan post-produced the drum recording to get it sounding top quality.

Weeks of work have gone into this 25 second video, but it looks and sounds great – plus it was a lot of fun to make!


Digital Video: light and shadows exercise

A few snaps taken of a group of Digital Video students preparing for their shoot:

These students are practicing different techniques of creating false shadows, as part of their first year film production module. This group is in the pre-production phase of their project; planning and preparing ideas and materials that will help them when they come to film their project.