DSN 6400 (DAIM Graduate Studio):
Last week, Maria commented, "Very interesting to see the movement for Lucille, and here is why I wanted you to more clearly define your intention for the characters. For Lucille - you say "silence, uncomfortableness, fear, and confusion" and interestingly enough I would suggest that the motion you have captured is none of these....what do you see? This seems like a very good moment to ask, analyze and answer why the movement is not communicating your stated intent to the viewer. I will be interested to see how/if you can massage the acting to portray your intent. And to read your articulation of your role in this process and where these issues are cropping up in the process - from the physical acting to the animation overlay needed."
I have been going over this in my head to try to see what it is about the emotion in the original data that I don't seem to have. It certainly depends on the audience member here and who is looking at the data, but if this is the initial response, this shows me the amount of clean up work I need to do, or the amount of recapturing I need to do in directing my answers. It's just a matter of what is more important - cleaning the data and teaching myself that technical skill of pushing emotion, or trying to get as much authentic humanness out of the first take, and tweak less later? What is going to give my my desired outcome? I think this is an issue I am struggling with because of time restraints. Do I have the time to flush out a new rehearsal/capture, or just have to continue to edit it what I have?
Going into this week, taking that commentary, I knew I wanted to bring up my case studies of which I am referencing for research/design of character performance within VR pieces. Below I have attached the two that I looked at for this week, and how they relate to my thesis topic.
I also wanted to try and gain some more progress on Lucille's character since that is where I am at in my scheduling of this 5-week project. Below I have attached video edits of pre-clean up and will hopefully receive some feedback on those during our class times. After Maria's feedback, I want to understand which parts need to be fixed for there to be a more emotive performance.
Motion Capture Car Scene Work
Case Study Research - 1000 Cut Journey
"In this immersive virtual-reality experience, the viewer becomes Michael Sterling, a black man, encountering racism as a young child, adolescent, and young adult. 1,000 Cut Journey highlights the social realities of racism, for understanding racism is the essential first step in promoting effective, collective social action and achieving racial justice."
○ Tribeca Film Festival - 1000 Cut Journey (click for link)
○ 1000 Cut Journey Research (click for link)
○ 1000 Cut Journey Official Trailer (video below)
○ Launch at Tribeca Film Festival Response (video below)
Relation to Thesis Project:
This experience examines how virtual reality can induce empathy for people different from oneself. They are using the medium of VR to examine racism. The use of VR, otherness, and racism, are all subject matters that are relevant to our current narrative project on Ruby Bridges. But what I am not finding in the articles I am reading about this is how they designed. What the process was in designing this scene and getting the animation and effects for it. It doesn't mean that it isn't out there - just that I don't see any articles or publications on it. For designers interested in this newly emerging medium of VR, I think it is important to showcase how it was created. This is why I think my topic for writing how to design/direct a performance in VR is important. This writing material isn't out there, and yet there are so many rules and guidelines that we are just now creating that should be stated/researched. I will try to continue following up with this case study to see if there are any article release about the process/progress, but for now it is simply based on user's experiences of it.
Case Study Research - I Am A Man
"Selected as a scholarship winner from the 2017 Oculus Launchpad Program, "I Am A Man" is an interactive virtual reality experience set to the historic events of the African-American Civil Rights Movement. Witness the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Worker’s Strike and the events leading to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr."
○ National Civil Rights Museum - I Am A Man: Memphis Sanitation Strike 1968 (click for link)
○ I Am A Man Experience VR History Website (click for link)
○ I Am A Man: Oculus Rift Civil Rights VR MLK (video below)
Relation to Thesis Project:
So I watched the experience above (couldn't actually experience it in VR), but upon watching it I saw a LOT of the same design choices being made that Abby and I are currently making - which makes me feel that we are on the right path. We have little snippets of sound bites from Ruby in our piece that are integrated between the scenes to give insight as to what may happen next - and that is the same with what is happening in this piece. It leads the user into the next scenario. But in terms of designing for the piece, Matt Lewis actually sent me a link related to the the creator's intentions when designing for it (article here). Derek Ham, the director of the piece, discusses his design of visual techniques and affordances of agency to the user, which would be great information for Abby and I to sit down and discuss. And although not much was said on motion, he made a chart considering emotion.
Here, Ham had a layout of each scene, the purpose, the space, and the emotion he wanted the audience to feel. This is an extremely beneficial design that I think Abby and I should sit down and coordinate in relation to the narrative we have already established and hope to establish.
Graduate Fellow Scholarship Writing
We luckily have the chance to apply for the Global Arts + Humanities Discovery Theme Fellowship Scholarship. During these next couple of weeks, we are drafting up what we may submit for this scholarship. Below I have attached a link to my first draft of the scholarship.
○ Scholarship Information (click for link)
○ Draft 01 (click for link)
Moving forward into next week, I plan on finishing up the touches that I have on Lucille's character, and progress into dealing with the Government official. This week I want to focus on his body language, and then the following week proceed onto his face. But all of that is pending as to what happens this week with the body performance tweaking.
We also have due I believe our first draft of the CV we need for this Fellowship opportunity, so I will be working on that as well.
On one of the module to-do lists, we needed to watch Foreign Body. It was disturbing to watch but also, after a while, something that I got used to. Kind of like the moral of the film. But what I found most interesting was the use of sound within the piece. I knew if I watched this the first go around (and wish I had) - without sound - that it would be quite a different experience. Sound almost leads the film. It's quite an interesting take on this meaning of acceptance.
ACCAD 5194.01 (Performance and Narrative in VR):
Ethical VR Making articles for discussion:
1. Daniel Oberhaus, "We're Already Violating Virtual Reality's First Code of Ethics" (click for article)
2. Allegra Frank, "With VR mode, Dead or Alive goes from creepy to harassment" (click for article)
3. Nicola Davis, "Long-term effects of virtual reality use need more research, say scientiests" (click for article)
4. Jeremy Bailenson, "How to Create Empathy in VR" (click for article)
5. Adi Robertson, "VR was sold as an 'empathy machine' - but some artists are getting sick of it" (click for article)
6. Lucie Heath, "VR Isn't An Empathy Machine" (click for article)
7. Inkoo Kang, "Virtual reality is failing at empathy its biggest promise" (click for article)
8. Tal Blevins, "VR As An Empathy Machine: With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility" (click for article)
9. Paul Bloom, "It’s Ridiculous to Use Virtual Reality to Empathize With Refugees" (click for article)
10. Daniel Araya, "The Power of VR as an 'Empathy machine' and Office Holodeck" (click for article)
Given this week’s subject matter of ethical VR making, I believe the majority of these readings subconsciously argued for there to be more of a set of guidelines for ethical design than anything. The other portion of these readings discussed how defining VR as an ‘empathy machine’ was putting this medium on a pedestal when we really haven’t experimented with it for more than a couple of years. It was a lot of material to take in, but it relates to my own research topic of designing for VR using empathy, and how to do so ethically when my subject matter is an intense story. For example, on page 4 of Inkoo Kang’s “Virtual Reality is Failing at Empathy, Its Biggest Promise,” she writes, “The very concept of empathy creation through VR is an Othering process: So-and-so’s experiences are so vastly different from yours, it’s presumed, that you can only understand their situation if you step into their shoes.” This quote got me thinking that we aren’t necessarily designing so that our users ‘understand’ an experience. It’s more so that they just have an experience. What they take from it is completely their own. We can only have goals of empathy. Each person’s VR experience is like a snowflake – it’s unique to them, but after the experience is over, most likely the feeling will melt away. It’s not a constant. So does it really create empathy? I think for a split second. And that is something I wish to do with my work – maybe have the goal of creating empathy, but mainly have the goal of creating any emotion.
FILM 7001 (Feminist Film Theory):
Playing the Race Card: Melodramas of Black and White from Uncle Tom to O. J. Simpson (click for reading)
○ Linda Williams, “Playing the Race Card,”
○ Linda Williams, “The American Melodramatic Mode”
○ Linda Williams, “Rewriting the Plantation Legend”
Stealing the Show (click for reading)
○ Miriam Petty, “Introduction”
○ Miriam Petty, “Hattie McDaniel”
Gone with the Wind was the spectacle of the decade when it opened its literary adaptation in theaters during 1939. It had love, pain, suffering, and action - all of which are the ingredients to a enduring melodrama. The film gained praise and criticism from white and black audiences alike, but its narrative structure opened the door for the discussion of melodrama in relation to race and gender.
Linda Williams’ Playing the Race Card connects a myriad of mediums in discussing the role of melodrama with American stories concerning race and gender. She argues that it has been "the primary way in which mainstream American culture has dealt with the moral dilemma of having first enslaved and then withheld equal rights to generations of African Americans" (Williams 44). It is with this argument that she continues to outline five features of melodrama, but the most important one pertaining to our film, is the recognition of virtue with pathos and action. This theme encompasses the change within the country at the time – concerning victims of race and otherness, and their assailants, that influences American society throughout all forms of media. Williams writes, “Melodrama offers the hope that it may not be too late, that there may still be an original locus of virtue, and that this virtue can be achieved in private individuals” (35). These high moral standards then change time for culture and society, recovering the narrative. Melodrama allows for “[the] understanding the ways in which American mass culture 'talks to itself' about the relations between race and gender. It is through the Manichean logic of good and evil and victim and villain that melodrama recognizes virtue, expresses the inexpressible, and reconciles the irreconcilables of American culture" (Williams 299). Williams’ explanation of America’s relationship with melodramatic media succeeds in showcasing how race and gender are fascinating subjects within our entertainment. And it’s through this fascination that we continue to have this genre in modern media.
Mariam Petty, however, takes a different approach to her analysis of GWTW. In the first two sections of Stealing the Show, Petty focuses much of her attention on Hattie McDaniel. She begins with a more general discussion of the way the phrase “stealing the show” has been racialized. She explains that this phrase is often used by white critics to describe impressive performances by black actors and connects the emphasis on stealing to racial stereotypes surrounding theft. As Petty points out, even as black actors were stealing the show, they were only cast in select roles which often perpetuated racial stereotypes.
Hattie McDaniel’s character, Mammy, in GWTW exemplifies many of the issues Petty brings up in her introduction. While the film received both praise and criticism, critics were universally impressed with McDaniel’s performance. Those with criticisms of the film focused on the negative implications of McDaniel’s character and the idealized past it allowed audiences to imagine. McDaniel, however, worked to reframe the role as an opportunity to glorify black womanhood. Petty aligns McDaniel’s reframing work with a “politics of responsibility” and dissemblance, two strategies employed by black women in a “program of racial uplift” (Petty 63).
As Williams explains, film scholars have largely ignored this “middlebrow film lover’s guilty secret,” and its disturbing idealization of slavery (Williams 190). However, as evidenced by the wide range of topics covered in Petty and Williams’s works, GWTW specifically affords an agency of discussion about melodrama, race, and gender.
GRA (Graduate Research Assistant):
This week, I got updates to tweak some of the poses for both Gloria and Bob's rigs, and then also add a jaw thrust pose in there as well. The rest of the week was spent doing bug tweaks and adjustments for the Dementia project.