Media 304: Visual Communication Assignments

This page is a collection of work & discussions composed for Media 304: Visual Communication instructed by Kimberly Burns during the Fall 2019 Semester at Boise State University.

2.04 Chapters 1 & 2:

Part A: Sensing

I chose the song Early Sunsets over Monroeville from an alt rock concept album in 2002 because of the post-apocalyptic cityscape it sets. Basically, the song is about a man who is running away from vampires with his lover until she is bitten and becomes herself a walking corpse and he is faced with killing the person he loves though she is no longer “alive,”. At least that’s my interpretation of the song, very strange, I know!

The steady acoustic guitar through the beginning of the song made for small and large looping motions where the heavy drums and strained, emotional melodies led to the small x’s, the sharp edges, sharp twists and turns, and billowing flame shapes to the left of the image.

Part B: Selecting

I selected the top left corner of the drawing because it captured the elements, I found most interesting, the strange eye shape above, the strange intestinal or brain shape in the middle, as well as the flame shapes and small x’s.

I added green specs to the tiniest spaces, grey, and orange to the “flames,” dark purple to some larger sections, marking inside the eye shape, a blue expanse between with a yellow glow outlining the edges.

Part C: Perceiving

To assign this some meaning, I believe that the middle section tells the story’s origin. It represents the flesh that ultimately falls prey to the monster. This is also where I used an expanse of blue to capture the sky between dawn and sunset. The top eye shape is where I used the most color and I feel it represents the chaos that ensues. The markings in the eye are meant to be bloodshot and defeat. The bottom of this section is the flames section which I used grey, red and orange to depict the billowing smoke that encapsulates this entire memory the man has, or perhaps represent the still smoking gun he used to kill his lover. The green specs represent the tiny glimmers of hope and prosperity that the music itself lends itself to, the softer melodies, and harmonious guitars, and the memories of a loved one. The dark purple sections have come to represent bruising and pain where the yellow glow around the section is the daylight cast on the story that is allowing it to be told in retrospect.

This is definitely a stretch, but it was really fun to think about and create!

Here is a link to the song

3.04 Chapter 3: Visual Theories

Here is the final image that I made in photoshop. I tried to blend my new subject with the background using a slight drop shadow and a satin blending option to match the original lighting a little bit better.

I personally feel that when injecting the person into the image of the stormy beach, one might pick up on the person’s character. He is in a fancy suit on a beach and it looks as if he is far away from the camera. Was is raining on his wedding day? Did he just leave an event to get some peace of mind on a quiet shoreline? Is he affluent? Is this his private beachfront outside of a luxury PNW condo that is out of frame? 

When adding the fashion-editorial image of a man to the scenic image of an overcast shore, I believe it prompts questions and assumptions as to who the man is, not necessarily where the beach is or any other assumptions about the beach in specific.

4.04 Chapter 4: Visual Persuasion

Graduation Rates: I tried my best using my own photos to show a pro/con of attending college, one sponsored by a college, the other by a loan company. They are emotionally driven in different ways, especially in color schemes, which I find really bond themselves to certain moods. The yellow and pinks in the first are motivating, whereas the greyscale in the second seems grim. Both contain some “factual” information.

5.04 Chapter 5: Visual Stereotypes

Full disclosure, I do not currently own any magazine or have any active subscriptions but I very much enjoyed reading into this ad campaign that the Rolling Stone put out in order to combat negative perceptions about its publication and its readers. Here’s what I found: the Rolling Stones released their series of images in their Perception vs Reality campaign in order to break down the stereotype that the readership of Rolling Stone consisted of a bunch of free-loving hippies and that their main topics revolved around “sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll” and instead were meant to show that the Rolling Stone is a professional publication with a diverse readership, modern conventional business practices, and above all, advertiser-friendly. A few examples you might want to take note of from the article I will link below: 

1. The ad that depicts the perception of free love vs the reality of safe sex. This is meant to demonstrate that Rolling Stone, unlike they are stereotyped as, promote safe sex, sexual education, and most likely sexual integrity as opposed to the free-love concept which promotes loose sexual boundaries and can lead to unwanted pregnancies and various health scares. 

2. The ad depicting perception as a pig with a reality of a normal policeman. This is meant to combat the perception that Rolling Stone promotes illegal activity or that police themselves are evil; as they lead normal lives and even have homes in urban areas and have interests that align with Rolling Stone’s content. 

3. The last ad which has a perception of nothing versus the reality of an Ivory soap bar. This is meant to depict that the Rolling Stone has content that is advertiser-friendly and they are a good publication and platform for advertisers to reach out to in order to grow their business. Through the previous ads, Rolling Stone must have been hoping to break the stereotypes about their publication and its readers not being a suitable audience for ads. This campaign was likely in efforts to gain a greater, more diverse readership and gain ad revenue as well.

Here’s the article! 

6.04 Chapter 6: Visual Analysis

Here are some photos of teenage Greta Thunberg 2 days ago at Iowa City addressing climate activists after the UN Climate Action Summit referred to as a ‘failure’ by both headlines and Greta herself.

Here is the “image” from which is actually a 4 and a half minute video of the girl which seems to be uncut with no transitions. In the video, Thunberg calls the summit a failure, adding credibility to the Breitbart headline.

  • personal: My initial reaction to this unedited video was surprise as I was expecting the video to be an edited clip of some of the highlights of Thunberg’s address and not the raw footage. 
  • historical: Based on the timeline of the events leading up to this article, this piece was published likely as a follow up to a story about the UN Climate Action Summit.
  • technical: This visual is a video without any multimedia effects or particular editing style present and is raw and virtually untouched and seems to have less bias than a photograph potentially could have.
  • ethical: The videographer’s responsibility to produce a clear visual with clear audio that could not be easily misinterpreted was fulfilled, as was the editor of the news story who published the short, unedited clip. The viewer then has the responsibility to watch the clip until the end before moving onto the rest of the article to glean further information and background.
  • cultural: The metaphors and symbols in this piece are direct quotes from Thunberg’s address which are conveyed in the audio. In this speech, Thunberg refers to the UN Climate Action Summit as a “failure,” and suggests that the world leaders who heard her message were “children” and herself as the “adult,” by default in a clever statement saying, “Someone has to be the adult,” which is audible in the clip provided.
  • critical: Because Breitbart provided this clip, one can sense with their own eyes and ears the events that transpired 2 days ago in Iowa City and listen to the inflection in the speaker’s voice and the cheers from noticeably adult voices in response. This helps to capture a more real, vivid, and informed picture of the event.

Here are two screenshots from the article on Reuters which contains the featured image and a slideshow of 14 images from the Iowa City event, one of which I am going to display below:

  • personal: My reaction to this piece after viewing the Breitbart article was more critical as the medium selected was a series of stylized photographs as opposed to a video.
  • historical:  Based on the timeline of the events leading up to this article, this piece was published likely as a follow up to a story about the UN Climate Action Summit (the same as above).
  • technical: These photos are candid shots from a digital camera but are framed and shot in a way to appeal to emotional themes and convictions of its readers.
  • ethical: The photographer of these shots, especially the stylized shots of protesters I chose not to include, seems to have been fulfilling his duties to capture the event clearly but is not lacking in bias in thee particular shots. The shots are framed and selected in a way that raw video footage cannot be manipulated. The editor/publisher of this content selected these photos, likely for the purpose of conveying a particular mood of the event and therefore, the images might be seen as a less reliable record of the event.
  • cultural: The majority of the metaphors and symbols used in these photographs are in the signage held by the protestors, however, the youthful age of each person in the two photos above is a message in itself that the youth seem to care more about the climate issue at hand than any adults seem to.
  • critical:  In reference the prior sentence, the idea that only children care about the climate is likely an inaccurate political agenda that is being pushed, that is what these two photos convey in the context of these images. The images themselves are meant to be manipulating the adult population and appealing to their guilt emotions in order to feel bad for the children who should be enjoying their childhood and be less concerned for the devastation befalling the environment.

7.04 Chapters 7 & 8: Typography & Graphic Design

  • I learned that with fonts the same famous media arts quote applies: “The medium is the message,” and that way in which font looks, drastically changes the way in which the word is perceived.
  • I really like the Broadway font I used in my more artistic “Look both ways,” sign for a more mature audience. It’s very art-deco and would capture the attention of adults with the stop hand iconography, I believe. There is a mood of sophistication in some of the elements in that one, as strange as it is as a whole.
  • I wasn’t very easy to create these at all, I had issues placing shapes and choosing colors and each one of those elements, combined with font, was a lot to manage.
  • I was surprised by how difficult it was for me to find words and typefaces that looked alike or conveyed the same “mood” in the collage. Granted, I didn’t have a magazine to go off of and so I used files and flyers I have saved onto my hard drive.
  • I generally find it appealing to look at really simple, sleek images and messages so I enjoyed finding ones like that and recreating them to some degree.
  • I am consistently drawn to thick calligraphy fonts, ones that look like brush strokes. I also really loved white fonts on darker backgrounds as I am sure came through in my collage. It must be the stark contrasts between light and dark that make it so appealing to me and the most noticeable.

9.04 Chapter 10: Cartoons

Maybe it is just me, but newspaper cartoons and comic strips were definitely before my time. I have no memories of engaging with them at all and I really only come across them in readings like the one we have assigned this week. They are such an antiquated form of visual communication and require a whole separate set of skills to interpret than today’s more modern equivalent, memes and gifs I suppose? For that reason, it is interesting to try and grasp some kind of social-political context these were born out of.

Newspaper cartoons are no film storyboard and definitely not comic books, so they are incredibly difficult to piece together due to their lack of casual text dialogue. Here are a few that I selected as an example of this:

As you might be able to tell, These text bubbles and images would be incredibly difficult to interchange with one another and come up with something coherent. Here’s  the best I could do:

It’s so very random! I guess the new narrative is that these two on a deserted island are basking in the fact they have just received some survival gear and one is trying to contemplate their situation/lives while the other is making use of himself by building a fire? I just do not think it can be done well! If you would’ve had these 3 to work with, how might you have put them into a storyline? Anything different than this? Let me know.

10.04 Chapter 11: Photography

So for this project, I decided to take photos of these little pumpkin/harvest decorations I have on my balcony right now. It was the easiest location for me to access with a DSLR camera every day. There are 49 pictures. They are taken in some different angles and you’ll be able to see a clear change in lighting. Sunrise had the warmest natural light and large shadows cast from the subject/subjects, midday and afternoon had a cool/grey tone, and evening had an orange-toned cast from the streetlamp and these were the worst quality images. I kept my camera on auto mode to take each one of the photos. Every single one is straight from my SD card!  Many photos looked the same before I decided to change angles and add other items to the scene for added interest, (I was getting bored!). 

Interesting project! Here’s a link to my photos: 

11.04 Chapter 12: Motion Pictures

24k Lush – Frank Iero & The Future Violents: 30 second clip

I totally abandoned the plan that I laid out on paper. Basically I went out and shot very “b-roll” footage, as one does, and decided to splice it together here. I wound up not using my storyboard sequence but kept the same types of shots I had planned, just in a different order. Seeing everything come together in the editing made much more sense to me. I also changed the song! (Kept the same artist though as well as the same mood that the original lyrics would have conveyed. I wanted to tell a story about someone in anguish.

Here is what I think it means, let me know what you think below!

Basically, you’re seeing the POV of this bleary-eyed person who has just awoken to odd shapes and lights that are out of focus, the sun is above them in an overcast winter day and they are trying to make sense of their surroundings and their life, maybe? Anyway, the next shot shows a bit more detail, the trees, part of the ground, etc. But, the clip before the last candle shots is my favorite. It displays tarot cards that I selected kind of randomly, just ones I found compelling, to tell the story of this person.  They are laid out beginning to end, yet the camera pans from the end to the first card that seems to show the ailing person in their current state. (A man in anguish sitting up in bed covering his face). It’s almost to suggest the person doesn’t have the foresight to understand that redemption is coming and that their pain will eventually cease. Just as the drums get louder, the fire of the candle is burning really intensely, and then the person’s eyesight is blurring once again, asleep.

The song featured is Frank Iero & the Future Violents’ Track “24k Lush”. The lyrics heard during this clip are “Do you think of me like I hope you do?” One thought. One worry. Simple.  (Ps. This song was amazing live this summer, too!) I enjoyed this. I always am so mediocre when it comes to video production because I don’t have my tripod in this state and I am such an amateur!

Here is a picture of the initial storyboard sketch.

12.04 Chapter 13: Television

Program Analysis: Umbrella Academy
The show that I have chosen to analyze is one of my personal favorites right now, The Umbrella Academy. Although it is definitely a strange science-fiction drama that is at times comedic and other times tragic, this action-packed Netflix original is at the top of my list of favorite “TV” shows. (Television is a word I am using loosely and I will explain why later.) This show, as some may already know, is an adaption of the comic book written by Gerard Way. Perhaps it is just in our postmodern culture and in television to pay homage to the origins of a story, but this show does an excellent job of tipping its hat to the original comics. This is done primarily through incredibly detailed cinematography. In many action-packed fight scenes featured in the 10 episodes of season 1, varied shots of the hero and the villain(s) are framed as such according to existing troupes in comic books with certain angles, expressions, colors, and leading lines. Those lines come into play a ton. Mimicking the frames and boxes that compose a graphic novel, the tv show uses split-screen in multiple scenes, separated by a thick black line, as one might see while flipping through a comic. This is also achieved through more subtle means, for instance in one impressive shot that pans upward through a cylindrical building, the pillared structure of the building itself, with the characters seen in the negative space it creates, alludes to these same borderlines seen in comic books. The shot has been perceived by many as viewing a page in a comic from the bottom to the top.

I thought the cinematic details were worth mentioning given that in our textbook on page 354, the author explains that comics are among one of the 4 types of media that TV encompasses, perhaps even the most important of them all. I feel like this is because of the intrinsic storyboarding value in comics. They are practically already adapted for the screen, much easier than say, a Fitzgerald F. Scott novel would be to put on the big screen.

Furthermore, the manner in which our textbook describes television shows is vastly different from the way we view them now. It is seldom nowadays that we tune into a TV show at the same time on the same night each week, unless, of course, your favorite show involves live sporting events. In our present-day in this ever-evolving media landscape, the internet, and digital media available to us makes our favorite content accessible from anywhere in the world at any time we wish to view it. That is perhaps the main difference between more antiquated forms of TV-watching and today’s many forms, this idea of programming has given way to our individual choice of content that has been curated specifically to our unique tastes, viewing patterns, and more. Personally, I love the direction TV has gone in, and I love that my favorite shows follow this model and that this allows for shows to cater to more specific audiences and refined tastes as opposed to trying to appeal to the masses.

13.04 Chapter 14: Computers

Here is my essay that summarizes my conversation with my dad, a current Network Manager/Web Designer/ IT person who holds an Associates’s degree in Information Systems and has 20 years of experience in the field in question. It also contains some of my own commentary, contrasting today’s systems with those two decades their elder. Here you go!: 13.04_Computers_Cogswell.docx