Archive for the ‘sound’ Category

The Sound of “Apocalypse Now”

Posted: October 10, 2011 by tiagopaulosuts in 2011, sound

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Project

Loosely based on Joseph Conrad’s novella The Heart of Darkness, Apocalypse Now told the story of Captain Willard’s (Martin Sheen) journey into the heart of the Cambodian jungle to find the rogue Colonel Kurz (Marlon Brando).  It was one of the first projects developed by American Zoetrope, the production company Coppola founded in 1969 with the objective of making films outside of the Hollywood studio system. However, at the time the film was impossible to make without the studio’s support, and they weren’t willing to invest in it, so Coppola had to wait until 1975, after the success of the Godfather films, to finally be able to turn Apocalypse Now into a reality.

 

The Production War

Even though the film’s pre-production began in 1975, and shooting started in March 1976, the film was only released in 1979. The making of Apocalypse Now was a convoluted and uncertain journey that drove the crew and especially the director, who had put up all his personal assets as collateral for the financing of the movie, to near insanity. Like Francis Ford Copolla says in the beginning of Hearts of Darkness, Elleanor Copolla’s documentary about the making of Apocalypse Now, “We had access to too much money, too much equipment, and little by little we went insane”, and “My film is not about Vietnam, it is Vietnam”. Making the film was a war in itself.

 

This war began in production. The movie took an uncannily long time to shoot, 238 days of principal photography spread over more than a year. At the time, it became known for being a never-ending production, fraught with disaster. During the shoot, which took place at the Philippines, there was a communist revolution going on in the southern part of the country; a typhoon destroyed most of the sets; Martin Sheen, the lead actor, had a heart attack; and  Marlon Brando almost refused to take up his role as Colonel Kurtz and was overweight when he finally appeared on set. Production of Apocalypse Now  ended on May 21, 1977. For the actors and production crew, that was the end of a lengthy and painful process, but for Francis Ford Coppola and his post production crew, a long, difficult road lay ahead.

The Post Production War

If the filming took more than a year, the post production took two. With around 200 hours of footage and a scarcity of sound material with which re-create the Vietnam war ambience, due to the production sound crew’s lack of time and resources, the daunting task of putting the film together was given to Coppola’s collaborator on The Godfather and The Conversation, Walter Murch.

Murch edited half of Apocalypse Now, but did the sound for the entire picture. He had started off his film career in sound, heavily influenced by Pierre Schaefer’s Musique Concrète and by Orson Welles’ radio and film work. From the beginning, he had worked with George Lucas and Coppola, and he was already well-known for his sound work on THX 1138, American Graffiti, The Godfather: Part II and The Conversation, having received an Oscar nomination for Best Sound for his work in the latter. However, his most innovative and visionary work surfaced with  Apocalypse Now, in no small part because of the challenges he and his crew had to face when creating the sound for the film.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mixing for Surround

One of the greater challenges was preparing the film for a release in the Dolby Stereo 70mm Six Track system. Murch’s previous work in films like American Graffiti and The Conversation had all been in mono and this was the first time he would be using stereo. At the time, Murch didn’t like stereo. He liked mono and the purity associated with it and it was only due to Coppola’s insistence that the film ended up being mixed in stereo. Coming from a generation of filmmakers (the New Hollywood generation ) that was much more aware of the vital role sound could play in augmenting the depth and impact of a film, the director knew that Apocalypse Now’s  sound would be crucial in giving the movie the epic scope he was aiming for. Murch later agreed: “At the time I looked at the way the film was shot and thought to myself, ‘Does he [Coppola] really need to do this?’ because there was so much else going on. But when I looked at it later, with the big Panavision visuals, I realized that the sound-track we did was the thing to do.”

What Copolla was looking for to complement the visuals was quadraphonic sound, with speakers in all four corners of the theatre. Knowing that wouldn’t be appropriate for large theatres, Murch contacted Dolby to develop a stereo surround system with enhanced super low frequencies. That meant having three front channels (left, centre, right), a subwoofer for the low frequencies and two surround channels (left and right). Star Wars was the first movie to make use of extra low frequencies, with three screen channels and a surround channel, to better replicate the war in space, Close Encounters of the Third Kind was the first to add a dedicated subwoofer for the low frequencies, and Superman was the first to split the surround array into left and right, therefore the first movie presented to the public in stereo surround. However, Apocalypse Now  was the first announced film to have a stereo surround format and it was initially expected to be completed before Superman. More importantly, it was the first film to make particularly good artistic use of stereo surround.

To use stereo surround to its full potential, Murch and his team carefully planned how and when to use each of the six channels. It was crucial to determine what kind of sounds to place in the surrounds so that the audience would immerse themselves even further in the movie. The wrong kinds of sounds, such as dialogue, could actually work against the film by reminding the audience that they were in a movie theatre watching a movie. Murch was “terrified of misusing the palette”. Therefore, he created a master chart with graphs of all the six channels, so as to know when the film was supposed to be mono, stereo, or make use of the full surround.

The result was a very dynamic sound experience, with skillful manipulation of the density of sound, a film that was sometimes monophonic, sometimes stereo and sometimes stereo surround. Murch and his team “ thought of the surrounds as something that could be pulled over the theatre like a blanket, and then they could melt away like snow.” They made use of this concept frequently, like in the playboy bunny scene, where the sound begins only in the front, but then opens up to the surrounds so we can feel the full impact of the audience; or the famous Do Lung sequence, where the rock music sound gradually shifts from all the speakers to just the front centre speaker, and then disappears along with all the other sounds when “Roach” turns off the transistor radio.

 

Density and Psychadelic Sound and Music

This mastery of the density of sound was another of Murch’s great challenges in the film. It is a movie that really explores the contrast between sound and picture. Sometimes, complex visuals, where a lot is happening, have a very simple, minimalistic soundtrack, like the end of the Do Lung sequence or the very ending of the film, where all we hear is the radio and the rain. Other times, very simple visuals, like Willard’s boat wandering through the river mists, can have a very deep, complex soundtrack. On the other hand, in scenes like the one where Col. Kilgore (Robert Duvall) attacks the Vietcong village,  the soundtrack is as incredibly dense and vivid as the imagery.

Coppola was looking for a soundtrack that was faithful to the sounds of the Vietnam war. This meant that it had to be technically faithful to it, reproducing the weapons and equipment used in the period, but also faithful to the mood of the war, which Coppola saw as a drugs and rock n roll war, with a strong psychedelic dimension. The frequent use of helicopters throughout the film serves both purposes.

The helicopter sounds were recorded at a Coast Guard station in Washington. Sometimes, they are used in a realistic way, almost as they were recorded, like during the attack on the Vietcong village. Other times, they are given a more psychic dimension, like the synthesized helicopters in the beginning of the film, where they gradually meld with the sound of the fan in Willard’s room, and they are more a projection of Willard’s mind, a sound in his head, his point of view. The use of stereo surround was ideal for the helicopters, and made their sound even more unique and spectacular, because they hover around in circles, so their movement perfectly fit the placement of the speakers in the theatre.

The helicopter rotors are sometimes also pitched to the music. The melding of sound and music is another of the innovative and challenging aspects of the film. Many of the more realistic sounds were deconstructed on synthesizers and meshed with the music to give the film an even more hallucinatory dimension. In the temple sequence at the end, the winds turning into a chorus are a perfect example of this. Murch worked closely with the music department to achieve this perfect cohesion between music and sound.

 

The Legacy: Sound Design and 5.1

Murch’s sound work in Apocalypse Now earned him an Oscar for Best Sound, and perhaps even more importantly, it established the term Sound Designer. Murch coined the term when was trying to define exactly what he had done in terms of sound in the film. Because he had had to design the sound for Stereo Surround, he had thought of the sound in a different, three-dimensional perspective, and he had had to create a master chart with graphs to plan precisely where and when the sounds where coming from in the different scenes of the movie. This meticulous planning made him think of a decorator’s work: “…if an interior designer can go into an architectural space and decorate it interestingly, that’s sort of what I am doing in the theater. I’m taking the three-dimensional space of the theater and decorating it with sound.” The term Sound Designer is commonly used to this day to describe the person in charge of all aspects of a film’s audio track, from the dialogue and sound effects recording to the final mix.

Apocalypse Now’s Dolby Stereo 70mm Six Track system, the Stereo Surround, was also the precursor to today’s Dolby Digital 5.1. Ioan Allen, vice-president of Dolby, calls Apocalypse Now “the grandfather of 5.1”. The film was a perfect example of how filmmakers and sound designers could use the new system to elevate cinema sound to a whole new level.

 

References:

COPPOLA, FF. 1979, Apocalypse Now, Zoetrope Studios, DVD, Paramount, 2001

COPPOLA, FF. 1979, Apocalypse Now Redux, Zoetrope Studios, DVD, Lusomundo, 2002

COPPOLA, E. 1991, Hearts of Darkness, Zoetrope Studios, DVD, Paramount, 2007

HOLMAN, T, 2008, Surround Sound: Up and Running, Focal Press

MURCH, W, 1998, “Touch of Silence”, in Soundscape: The School of Sound Lectures 1998-2001, Wallflower Press, pp. 83-102

MURCH, W, and JARRED, M, Sound Doctrine: An Interview with Walter Murch, Film Quarterly, Vol. 53, No. 3 (Spring, 2000), pp. 2-11

MURCH, W, and HILTON, K, The Sound film Man, Filmsound.org, viewed 2 of October 2011

MURCH, W, and SRAGOW, M, 2000, The sound of Vietnam, Salon.com, viewed 2 of October 2011

WALTER MURCH, Internet Movie Database, viewed 2 October 2011

APOCALYPSE NOW, Internet Movie Database, viewed 2 October 2011

FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA, Internet Movie Database, viewed 2 October 2011

HEARTS OF DARKNESS, Internet Movie Database, viewed 2 October 2011

 

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The Wireless House, Glebe

Posted: October 3, 2011 by laura in 2011, interaction, sound

Laura Drewe  10394967

Assessment 1: Sound/Interaction Research Report

The Wireless House, Glebe

On 23rd November 1923, Australia saw the much anticipated, first public radio broadcast. Before this date, radio had been used predominantly for communicating at sea, allowing ships to contact each other and people on shore. This served as an aid to navigation, as well as allowing ships to send emergency distress signals. Radio had also allowed for communication in remote or difficult circumstances, such as fire services, lighthouses and isolated communities.

But it was in broadcasting sound to the general public that radio has had its biggest influence. Despite the excitement surrounded the advent of radio broadcasting, uptake was slow due to the cost and license fees charged to listeners.  The Great Depression of the 1930s saw many families facing poverty and unemployment, and many could not afford such a luxury.

However, in 1934 the Wireless House was built in Foley Park, Glebe to provide radio broadcasts to the local community. Commissioned by Glebe Council, it was a public listening place – and in a local park. This was the only free, listening space of its kind at the time. The Wireless House operated from 10am until 10.15pm on a daily basis[i]. It was immensely popular and because of the open space, could cater to large crowds. People embraced this new medium that was now freely available to them. No wonder they were so responsive. The Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Michigan, Susan Douglas says, “sound transmitted over radio envelops us, pouring into us…including us, involving us”[ii]. In Glebe, people would gather and enjoy daily music, news and entertainment programs. Small boys at the time, Tony and Frank Galluzzo describe what it meant to them, “We’d go to the park, and there would be about 50 people, sitting around on the benches. There were three sides to the box, and three speakers. It was the place where we all used to meet… we would have a game of football, and gather around. The radio was a very important part of our day”.[iii] During the Depression, men would often listen at dawn for reports of where work was available at the docks in Darling Harbour[iv]. Roughly 40 per cent of the male population was unemployed at this time.[v] Noeline Reddy, who was born in Glebe, remembers those days. She says, “You would get coupons for the butcher and the grocer…and you would go to Glebe Town Hall twice a year, the men would get boots and pants, the women would get underwear and dress material.” She also remembers going to the Wireless House, then called ‘the radio shack’, with her brother at 4pm to listen to a serial about “a little Aborigine boy”. And she remembers the local men gathering there on a Saturday afternoon to listen to the races and play dominoes.[vi]

With the development of television and the automobile, the Wireless House gradually lost its popularity and in the early 1950s the structure was converted to a council tool shed. Despite its decline, the Wireless House has been heritage-listed by the National Trust. In 2008, Australian-based sculptor and sound artist Nigel Helyer breathed new life into the place by creating the Wireless House project – a contemporary version of its predecessor. His aim was to reclaim the potential for sound to produce a communal space within the park – a sonic activation. As people approach the structure, a sensor is triggered and a historic audio archive is randomly selected. These archives are provided by the National Sound and Music Archives. People can, in effect, be taken back in time and relive the news and events of a past era. FM radio reception can also be received by mobile phone and standard FM radio receivers.

Stainless steel screens have been fitted to the building’s walls to depict a representation of the relative field strength transmitted and received by a radio antenna. A transparent polycarbonate panel has replaced the original steel door. The interior has been refurbished with the required equipment to deliver different forms of radio content; there are also sculptural references to 1930s radio technology such as valves and antennae.

The Wireless House project invites members of the public to interact by sharing their personal stories about Wireless House, radio in Australia, audio recordings, videos, texts and historical photographs from this period to be incorporated into the House itself and online. A large proportion of the content comes from the establishment of a Glebe local oral history project that aims to generate an audio portrait of the community. Oral historian and content producer Julia Burns has engaged extensively with community members by recording oral histories as well as training and working with Glebe residents in digital audio and video technology so that they can take control of the production and publication of their own stories[vii]. In an interview with ABC Radio broadcaster Deborah Cameron, she said that public listening facilities in Australia, and worldwide, are quite rare and that the Wireless House is an important contribution to the Glebe community. In the same program, Cameron spoke on air with a listener Vincent, who recalled going to the Wireless House in the 1940s: “There were a number of men gathered there listening to the radio. My grandmother explained that during the Depression, men used to walk from the wool stores (in Pyrmont) up to the Wireless House and have a rest. The park was then called Rest Park, before it was renamed Foley Park.”[viii]

What makes the Wireless House interesting is that it is more than a memorial to the past. Equipped with a wireless internet node, the site has become Sydney’s first official free outdoor hotspot. While it provides visitors with internet access, it also provides a comprehensive website featuring oral histories, and archival sound materials. In the Wireless House, Helyer is capturing the sounds of the past, incorporating the technologies of the present, and enveloping the viewer in the work; in 2010, Helyer created a similar project called GhosTrain at Carriageworks, a performing arts centre based in the old Sydney rail yards at Eveleigh, in which he offers oral histories from former rail yard workers, an audio installation and an interactive iPod app. GhosTrain, like the Wireless House, presents a preserved building complemented by a resurrected audio history[ix].

While yesterday’s community gathered around the radio transmitter, contemporary wireless presents many more forms of social and community engagement and interaction. Today, sound broadcasts don’t always have to be listened to at the time of the broadcast. Websites now offer recordings for people to download at their own convenience, such as podcasts.  The emergence of podcasting in 2005 has been revolutionary. Sound artists and research academics Virginia Madsen and John Potts say this development occurred for two reasons: ”time shifting, which allows users to listen to audio items when and where they choose; and mobility, due to the portability of the iPod and other MP3 players.”[x] No longer is this medium a one-way street – podcasts, websites and digital radio offer a range of choices for individual listeners where sound can meet text, image and moving image. The audience becomes part of the interaction. As Madsen and Potts say, “Much of the early excitement surrounding podcasting then concerned the use of these new technologies to challenge or bypass traditional communication and media channels. Podcasting in 2005 was about ‘reclaiming the radio’, ‘refreshing the radio’, ignoring the hierarchial ‘gate-keeping’ role of mass media, and developing instead a ‘horizontal’ media form where consumers were also producers”.[xi]

So, the relevance and social value of the Wireless House project brings back a sense of interaction, openness and community that Nigel Helyer believes are important at a time when portable audio technologies are thriving. As he says, there has been a “cultural shift away from the collective and personal and toward a valorization of the individual and the privatized… iPod users enact a ‘serial withdrawal’ from public space, into ‘micro-acoustic-ecologies’, an audio world of one’s own.”[xii] The Wireless House is an important evolution in sound communication because it brings old media and new media together, catering to a new dynamic sound environment. It is, as Madsen and Potts say, “Where ‘old’ media offer passive consumption, new media offer interactivity”.[xiii]

References/Footnotes


[ii] Susan Douglas, Listening in: Radio and the American Imagination: from Amos ‘n’ Andy and Edward R.Murrow to Wolfman Jack and Howard Stern (New York, N.Y.: Times Books), 30

[iii] Tony and Frank Galluzzo, interview, http://pool.abc.net.au/media/wireless-house-0

[v] Max Solling (author of Grandeur and Grit) interview, http://pool.abc.net.au/media/wireless-house-audience

[viii] Julia Burns and Deborah Cameron on The Wireless House http://pool.abc.net.au/media/wireless-house-abc-702-local-radio

[x] Voice Cast: The Distribution of the Voice via Podcast  from Neumark, N. Gibson, R. & Van Leeuwen, T. (eds), 2010, Vocal Aesthetics in Digital Arts and Media, MIT Press, Cambridge MA, p45

[xi] Voice Cast: The Distribution of the Voice via Podcast  from Neumark, N. Gibson, R. & Van Leeuwen, T. (eds), 2010, Vocal Aesthetics in Digital Arts and Media, MIT Press, Cambridge MA, p45

[xii] Voice Cast: The Distribution of the Voice via Podcast  from Neumark, N. Gibson, R. & Van Leeuwen, T. (eds), 2010, Vocal Aesthetics in Digital Arts and Media, MIT Press, Cambridge MA, p46

[xiii] Voice Cast: The Distribution of the Voice via Podcast  from Neumark, N. Gibson, R. & Van Leeuwen, T. (eds), 2010, Vocal Aesthetics in Digital Arts and Media, MIT Press, Cambridge MA, p20

Student Name& ID: Shuning Li (11261005)

Beyond the Visual: Applying Cinematic Sound Design to Digital Environment

Introduction

In the early 20th century, sound was integrated into filmmaking, which was used to support motion pictures and contribute to the emotional and narrative design of film projects. In the later of the century, both of the discipline and technology of the sound design flourished with the rapidly development of the modern world, sound became an integral part of the media practice, which played substantial roles in filmmaking[1].

However, as the media entered into the digital age, while the mechanisms of engagement and immersion was studied extensively in terms of story and visual images, sound design enjoyed less attention in theory studies, much less the considerations of applying sound to digital interactive environment.

According to Mark Ward and Linda Leung, interactive media industry should learn the best of what the last 100 years of sound design practice and apply the techniques to the digital environment. They leveraged four important functions of sound relevant to both film and interactive media which filmmakers could emphasis and work on to created effective sound tracks for digital interactive media, that are emotional truth, point of view, storytelling and physical experience. They suggested the aims of sound design for digital interactive media is to elicit the mood and emotion from its audience, to draw users into its world as ‘we have eyelids but not earlids’, that is, we can block out the visual merely by closing eye, but can barely escape the aural (Leung, 2008).

A Brief History of Film Sound Design

The history and the art of sound is not as sophisticated as for the moving image, and yet sound informs and anchors the moving image.

Early cinema is perceived as 'silent'Early cinema is perceived as ‘silent’

Early cinema is commonly perceived as ‘silent’ (as it was a visual medium only) because no sound information was printed upon the filmstrip. As the media industry enters into the digital era and the notion of film is gradually assumed as the digital convergence between image, audio, and online experience, among others, and thus the practice of multi-media. The multi-media practice, especially electronic media broke the tradition of “virtual reality” and brought the new concept of “augmented reality”. Now the audience can really “break through” the screen, with no more mediation and no more separation to see, feel and touch “the myth of total cinema,” as André Bazin put it (Elsaesser, 2006), a renowned and influential French film criticand film theorist.

5.1- channel digital surround sound (DSS) in cinema5.1- channel digital surround sound (DSS) in cinema

The language and vocabulary of sound has largely expanded with the development of modern technology and the digital media, which can be seen from various new techniques and devices for sound design and production, such as, the 5.1- channel digital surround sound (DSS)[2] in cinema, Pro Tools digital audio workstation software and Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI). A specialized craft of four major aural categories of the sound design for film also indicates the evolution of sound media, which includes music, ambient sound, sound effects and dialogue. Dialogues and narrative sound effects are mostly used to establish the narrative structure of stories, while music and ambient sound are used more and more often in building atmosphere and locating film style.

One of the early innovations in the use of sound in digital interactive environments for example, was made by Apple Computer, which deployed personal computers into the marketplace equipped with sound-cards, as well as plug-in or build-in microphones allowing user-generated material to be recorded and manipulated, or linked to other documents. Most importantly, Apple’s Macintosh user interface was conceived of in visual and aural terms, embedding William Gaver’s work in auditory icons (1986) into its philosophical core (Leung, 2008).

Roles of Sound

Film is described as an audio-visual (AV) medium. In the term ‘AV’, audio and visual is linked with each other, which suggests that sound and picture together can become greater than the sum of the parts. The term is also assumed as the audio precedes the visual, that is, not only is sound integral, it is prioritized.

Dialog

Sound mainly plays narrative, subliminal and grammatical roles in film, according to Tomlinson Holman. Sound may tell the story directly, or it may be integrated along with pictures into a complete whole. For instance, Dialog and narrative sound effects, two important techniques for storytelling, which are used to write into the script to notify what is happening and what corresponding action actors should take at the moment.

One Missed CallTelephone Ringing Sound in Horror Film ‘One Missed Call’

Sound also has a subliminal role, working on its audience subconsciously, which in simplicity, is to build atmospheres, deliver emotions and enhance moods of stories. For example, intense and unpleasant sound experience could triggers negative emotions lasting hours or even days, which used by filmmakers in horror and black film genre.

In terms of the grammatical role in filmmaking, sound provides “a form of continuity or connective tissue for films” (Holman, 2002). When a picture is cut, but the scene is not shifted, sound usually remains constant before and after the shot in that case, to indicate audience that although the point of view may have changed, the scene is not shifted, and therefore we are still in the same space as before. In particular, ambient sound is used most to present the continuity of a scene. Looking through the major roles of sound in filmmaking, audience in most cases wouldn’t even realize this natural and seemingly effortless sound design, but it is absolutely indispensable to the expressions of films. Images wouldn’t make a complete story without the combination of sound.

Applying Sound Design to the Digital Environment

Mark and Linda’s study highlighted four functions of cinematic sound design, which the digital media industry could emphasize on in digital interactive media experiences. The primary function of sound in both films and interactive media work is to construct and communicate emotions. Emotion is the soul of a media work, which decides all the information in the project and guide the whole production process. Sound design is essential and effective to set the emotion and mood in a media project, which in turn, orient audience to receive and interpret the visual information.

In-car GPSSelecting voice for spoken navigation instructions on an in-car GPS system

The second function is to establish point-of-view, or in this case point of audition. In film, sound steers audience’s attention through visual information, by promoting important details. In online experience, sound can represent the ‘voice’ of an organization, or an acoustic ‘buzz’ of a company. Some other digital media allow sonic customization, whereby a user can self- select their preference and express their own point-of- view, such as choosing either male or female voice for spoken navigation instructions on an in-car GPS system.

Online game requires sound qualityOnline game requires lifelike sound effects

Sound also functions to structuring storytelling. Sound connects and “dubs” the visual elements in film, thereby ascribing meaning and legitimizing it as a trustful version of the real world. In digital interactive experiences, some online game for instance, lifelike sound effects combined with motion pictures is one of the selling points, which literally create a virtual world for online players.

The final function of sound is to create physical experience. Sound contributes to the overall multisensory experience in cinema as well as in interactive media. ‘Hearing is a way of touching at a distance’ (Leung cited in Schafer, 2005), that is, hearing is a form of touch as it has a synaesthetic quality. Sound can “have a synaesthetic role in interactive media, where sound is felt as much as it is heard, as can be seen in video games where explosive sounds are usually accompanied by vibrations in the console. That the senses of hearing and touch are so closely aligned provides a compelling argument for sound design to be a critical component of interactive media development” (Leung, 2008).

Conclusion

Film is an interaction of sound, visual and story, and filmmaking is a progress of combining these elements in ways that make the impact of the resulting experience larger than the sum of its parts. As a historical and fertile medium, sound impacts on the way films are made as much as image. With the rapid development of modern technology and increasing influence of digital media, the world enters into the digital era, therefore, to create effective sound tracks for the digital interactive environment become of great importance. Mark Ward and Linda Leung suggest that the digital media practitioners could learn from cinematic sound design experiences, and apply them to digital interactive practice.

Reference

Elsaesser, T. (2006). Early Film History and Multi-Media- An Archaeology of Possible Futures. In W. H. Keenan, New Media, Old Media: a history and theory reader (pp. 13-35). New York: Routledge.

Holman, T. (2002). Sound for Film and Television. USA: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Kerins, M. (2008). Beyond Dolby(stereo): Cinema in the Digital Sound Age. USA: Indiana University Press.

Leung, L. (2008). Digital Experience Design. UK: Intellect Books.

Nyre, L. (2008). Sound Media: From Live Journalism to Music Recording. London: Routledge.


[1] The term refers to its universal meaning in this article, that is, the general range of activities required to make a film, video, or television program.

[2] Digital “5.1” Sound- the “5”referring to the configuration’s five full-range channels and the “.1” to its bass-frequencies- only low-frequency effects (LFE) channel. The proposal of the adoption of 5.1-channel digital surround sound was brought up by Tomlinson Holman in the late 1980s (Kerins, 2008).

Nila, Shiyun Liu 11260799

Artefact H10515 Craig Walsh 2009

THE ARTIST

Craig Walsh is a contemporary Australian artist works with digital technologies. He is internationally recognised for his experimental digital art projects and installations exploring the edge of digital and reality. The majority of Craig Walsh’s works are large-scale projections which in response to the environment of specific site. He has been awarded several national residencies and commissions, and his work has been exhibit around the world, including Canada, Japan, United States and UK[1]. Artefact H10515 is one of his lasted work exhibit in Powerhouse Museum Sydney in 2009[2].

He inhabits public spaces in order to produce a spectacle[3]. A fundamental concern for Walsh is the challenging of preconceived notions of “art, space, function, experience and reality”[4].

THE WORK

ARTEFACT H10515 has a very unusual and mysteries title as an Art piece . The first half of the name, Artefact, means any object made or modified by humans. The code “H10515” comes from the historical method of Museum for numbering and cataloguing objects. The Museum used to divide objects into categories such as wool, minerals, vegetable products etc. with an assigned letter of the alphabet for each. When an item entered the collection, it was categories with a letter followed by a number under the category. H10515 is the last number in the ‘miscellaneous’ or  “unclassifiable” groups[5]. Hence the title reflect to the physical environment of the exhibition where is the Powerhouse Museum and unidentifiable character of the artwork.

Craig Walsh explained his work as “a living, unidentifiable object and sits in contrast to how objects in a museum are usually presented”[6]. Like many new media artworks which involved multimedia contents, Artefact H10515 is an collaborated work by Craig Walsh with assistances from programmer and 3D animator Steven Thomasson and sound composer and designer Lawrence English[7]. The combination efforts of the experts in digital technology, make the artwork looks like a living creature lives in a large glass cube. It moves, breathes, roars, changes the colours of its skin. Its flashing tentacles react On the end of its tentacles, random pictures appears occasionally. The pictures have to source, first is based on the collection of Powerhouse Museum, and the others are from an associate website Thingalyzer. Visitors can upload their favourite things from their own collection to feed Artefact H10515. The website will estimate
a time when the picture uploaded by particular users will appear on the tentacles of  the artwork. The creature shivers, grasps the object and then seemingly ingests it. In this way, visitors to the museum can find a new method to interact and express their preference about the museum.

Thingalyzer is not only the website where to feed Artefact H10515, its also a software which downloads and decides the pictures appears on the tentacles. The video about How Artefact H10515 works reveal the tricks inside the glass cube[8]. There are four computers controls the movement and the downloaded picture datas. The living creature in the cube are all image projections generated by the computers.

INFLUENCES & ARTISTIC CONTEXT

Interactive Arts & Participatory culture

Dadaism in the 1910s to 1920s is one of the major culture movement that influence the emerge of digital arts[9]. Marcel Duchamp is the forerunner of interactive arts as a leading artist in dada movement. Since then, artwork is not a one-way presentation, but is a interaction happening through the circle of artist, artwork and spectator. The development of digital media tools catalyse the diversity of digital arts.

Participatory media culture also emerge in artworks. With the growing phenomena of web2.0, more and more websites are friendly to user participation and interaction. Many of them even rely their website content on their visitor, like blogs, youtube and flickers. The more open the website is, the easier it can find users. Meanwhile, media content open to multiple interoperation are more likely to become popular[10]

by Jeffery Shaw 1988

Australian digital artist and theorist Jeffrey Shaw is one of the pioneer in interactive digital art projections. The Legible City (1988-1991) is one of his most representative work which translate physical actions of the visitor to digital movements on screen[11]. Participants ride on a stationary bicycle to navigate throw streets projected in front of them, and the buildings along the streets are giant letters. Although Walsh’s piece Artefact H10515 does not involve that high level of physical movement and it doesn’t have a immersive giant screen, the idea of interactive between physical movement and computer reaction are similar, and  the physical existence of the three dimensional cube gives more veritable than the plat screen projection. Its interaction is beyond direct physical immediate reactions, but moves to between online and physical interactions which adapts to the contemporary popular participatory media culture.

Artificial Life

Artificial life and intelligence have been an area of long time interests for scientists and science fictions. Along with the development of new media arts and digital technologies, artists joint the exploration and speculation on artificial life as well.

Many digital art installations are trying to simulate or inherent the characters of artificial life, and Artefact H10515 is definitely among them. It uses the software Thingalzer to produce various predictable behaviours in responses to the action of the visitors[12]. The feasibility of the complex programming bring the liveness to this digital sculpture. The 3D image, the surrounding sounds, and the smooth animation of the movements, all of these elements combined together, blurring the boundary of real and virtual, the known and mystery.

Distinct from many other artworks and scientific research on artificial life, Walsh jumps out of the box of artificial human being or anything imitates human behaviours. He focus on non-human artificial creatures which challenges the recognition process of people whom trying to categorise unfamiliar stuff to things they know. He takes elements from familiar lifeforms, like the tentacles and snoring sound of Artefact H10515, and combine them into a inexistent creature. However, Walsh is never the first one to explore the artificial creatures use projections.

by Sommerer&Migneaun 1994

A-Volveby Sommerer&Mignonneau 1994

In 1994, Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau established an aesthetic installation called A-Volve[13]. It is one of the earliest real time interactive artwork which visitors creates their own three dimensional creatures with a touch screen computer and interact with them in a pool. These creatures behaves like animals which swims, flights and plays with each other. Many works of Sommerer & Migononeau involves direct interaction and communication between the artificial creature and physical human body[14]. Although the creatures in A-Volve are three dimensional, the technology at that time restrict the resolution and quality of the creatures. They looks like geometric figure rather than real living creature.

The recent works of Sommerer and Mignonneau have more vividness with advanced image-creation softwares. For example, Life Writer in 2006 which represents their exploration on adapt familiar daily objects with interactive computer-generated creatures.  Establish on a antiquate style typewriter,  the overhead projector use the paper scroll as the screen, and when visitors types the keys, the computer program transform letters on the paper into small artificial lives moves according to the algorithms[15].

 Database and Visualisation 

Artefact H10515 is no only artificial creature lives in the museum, it also downloads collections from the museum database and “digest” the collections according to its own order. In other words, it is a museum database in another form and curates these collections base on its own order.

Dynamic visualisation of datas is one of the popular theme in digital arts. Computer programs give the datas a visual form and the result changes according to the updates in the database[16]. One of the famous earlier projection artwork in created by Camille Utterback and Romy Achituv called Text Rain in 1999[17]. The installation invite participators actively interactive with the falling text which are dripping like raindrops but floats on people’s body[18].  The text database generates the texts and the software control the movements of text. In comparison, Artefact H10515 collect pictures rather than texts, and it generates movements of the pictures instead of texts, but the idea of database collection and alternative distribute and interact with them are similar.

Walsh’s Previous Work

In years Craig Walsh has work with large-scale site-specific projection sculptures which challenge people’s understanding of everyday locations and practises. His installations set on storefronts, buildings, rivers and rocks. Alien forms is a popular theme among Australian contemporary artists, including Patricia Piccinini, Caroline Rothwell and Louise Hearman[19]. Walsh also explores the possibility of alien life forms intrude with real physical environments.  

Classification Pending

Classification Pending by Craig WalshClassification

Classification Pending by Craig Walsh

Walsh’s piece Classification Pending is originally present on the Bremer River in Ipswich, Queensland in 2007 and now has been exhibit in several locations around the world[20]. The work projects three-dimensional reptiles with turtle head, eel neck and catfish tail swims in the river. It questions people issues like genetic engineering, environment, real and virtual.

Incursion

Incursion by Craig Walsh

Incursion 37:20:15.71” N – 121:53:09.51” W (2008) featured in San Jose Biennale, California is one of his attempt[21]. Massive succulent/tentacles appears on the glass wall of San Jose City Hall Rotunda which transform the City Hall into a huge petri dish of alien creature. Its leave to the audience to identify the meaning of the mutant plant.

SUMMARY

Increasingly sophisticated image software frees digital artists like Craig Walsh to question the boundary between reality and virtual, the familiar and weird. His work including Artefact H10515 asks people to open their mind to the unknown, rethink about their recognition process of categorised locations and objects, though different ways of interact with museum and artworks, inspires new thinkings about the rest of the world.

 

 

Reference

  1. Artist’s Statement for Multimedia Art Asia Pacific (MAAP) in Beijing, 20 October – 3 November 2002
  2. Carroli L. 2000, ʻIntroductionʼ, Insite: Craig Walsh, artistʼs monograph, IMA Publishing, Brisbane, p.6
  3. Museum of Contemporary Art, 2010, Digital Odyssey Education Kit, accessed 28 Sep 2011 <http://www.mca.com.au/general/Digital%20Odyssey%20Education%20Kit.pdf>
  4. Paul, C. 2008, Digital Art (revised and expanded edition), Thames &Hudson Ltd, London.
  5. Powerhouse Museum, 2009, Artefact H10515, accessed 28 September 2011 <http://artefact.powerhousemuseum.com/>
  6. Powerhouse Museum, 2009, Interview with Craig Walsh and Steve Thomasson, accessed 28 Sep 2011, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KzrTVkxw7zo&feature=player_embedded
  7. Powerhouse Museum, 2009, “How it works” Artefact H10515,accessed 28 Sep 2011, http://artefact.powerhousemuseum.com/how-it-works/
  8. Radok, S. 2008, ʻCraig Walsh: Transfigured nights, surprising daysʼ, Artlink, Vol 28, No.3.
  9. Sommerer C. and Mignonneau, L. 1994, Works: A-Volve, accessed 29 Sep 2011 <http://www.interface.ufg.ac.at/christa-laurent/WORKS/FRAMES/FrameSet.html>
  10. Sommerer, C. and Mignonneau, L. 1997. “Interacting with Artificial Life: A-Volve,” In: Complexity Journal. New York: Wiley, Vol. 2, No. 6, pp. 13-21.
  11. Sommerer, C. and Mignonneau, L. 2006. Works: Life Writer, accessed 29 Sep 2011 <http://www.interface.ufg.ac.at/christa-laurent/WORKS/CONCEPTS/LifeWriterConcept.html>
  12. Walsh, C. 2010, Craig Walsh, accessed 29 September 2011, <http://www.craigwalsh.net/>

[1] Craig Walsh, 2010, accessed 28 Sep 2011 <www.craigwalsh.net>

[2] ibid

[3]Linda Carroli,ʻIntroductionʼ, Insite: Craig Walsh, artistʼs monograph, IMA Publishing, Brisbane, 2000, p.6

[4]Artist’s Statement for Multimedia Art Asia Pacific (MAAP) in Beijing, 20 October – 3 November 2002

[5] Powerhouse Museum, 2009, Artefact H10515, accessed 28 Sep 2011, http://artefact.powerhousemuseum.com/

[6] Powerhouse Museum, 2009, Interview with Craig Walsh and Steve Thomasson, accessed 28 Sep 2011, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KzrTVkxw7zo&feature=player_embedded

[7] Powerhouse Museum, 2009, “How it works” Artefact H10515,accessed 28 Sep 2011, http://artefact.powerhousemuseum.com/how-it-works/

[8] ibid

[9] Christiane Paul, 2008, “Introduction”, Digital Art (revised and expanded edition), Thames &Hudson Ltd, London, p11

[10] Christiane Paul, 2008, Digital Art (revised and expanded edition), p110

[11] Christiane Paul, 2008, Digital Art (revised and expanded edition), p72

[12] Christiane Paul, 2008, “Introduction”, Digital Art (revised and expanded edition), p140

[13] Christa Sommerer and Larent Mignonneau, Works: A-Volve, accessed 29 Sep 2011 <http://www.interface.ufg.ac.at/christa-laurent/WORKS/FRAMES/FrameSet.html>

[14] Christa Sommerer and Larent Mignonneau, 1997. “Interacting with Artificial Life: A-Volve,” In: Complexity Journal. New York: Wiley, Vol. 2, No. 6, pp. 13-21.

[15] Christa Sommerer and Larent Mignonneau, Works: Life Writer, accessed 29 Sep 2011 <http://www.interface.ufg.ac.at/christa-laurent/WORKS/CONCEPTS/LifeWriterConcept.html>

[16] Christiane Paul, 2008, Digital Art (revised and expanded edition), p175

[17] Christiane Paul, 2008, Digital Art (revised and expanded edition), p191

[18] ibid

[19] for Patricia Piccinini see http://www.roslynoxley9.com.au for Caroline Rothwell see http://www.carolinerothwell.net and for Louise Hearman see http://www.roslynoxley9.com.au

[20] Museum of Contemporary Art, 2010, Digital Odyssey Education Kit, accessed 28 Sep 2011 <http://www.mca.com.au/general/Digital%20Odyssey%20Education%20Kit.pdf>

[21] Stephanie Radok, 2008, ʻCraig Walsh: Transfigured nights, surprising daysʼ, Artlink, Vol 28, No 3

 

Introduction

In the post Napster music world, P2P sharing systems have made themselves into nearly every household in the world. Millions of people were exchanging and sharing files on the Internet like it was a way of life. The explosion of the Napster case in 1999 made it clear to the people, these types of systems are damaging the recording industry.[3] It was the Industry against Napster, and then it was the Industry against the users who share, who were the customers of the Industry itself. The excitement about P2P systems comes about the concept invention of easy and efficient file sharing.[1] A brilliant and harmless concept that allowed people to share files and photos over the net with high speeds and no limits became an engine system to steal creative work. From personal files turned to sharing copyrighted music and videos.  A million users could have a whole playlist of songs for free from only one single user that purchased the songs and shared them.  This report looks at how Steve Jobs and Apple saw the P2P phenomena as an opportunity to create what we now know as iTunes.

History of iTunes

Recognising this problem in the music industry that the P2P networks have created, Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, saw an opportunity to change the digital landscape. The peer-to-peer network invention was not seen as an illegal nuisance through Apple’s eyes, rather it was a way to manifest the same concept and market it as a new invention. Doing what Apple does best, grabbing a past technology or a negative invention and turning it into a device that changes how we think about technology. Let’s face it, Apple have not exactly invented anything radically new since their release of the original Macintosh, with the exception of the recent phenomena the iPad. The iPod was created and released at a time where MP3 players were not excitingly new. The iPhone was not a device that introduced a new technology to the world. O2 or what we know as Blackberry nowadays has already been designing and creating touch screen phones with apps for quite some time.

Apple is famous for being able to turn current technology or older technology into something bigger, into something seemingly new. Through their ingenious marketing and design team, an already released technology can seem like a device out of this world. What makes all of Apple’s technologies so appealing may be the fact that all of them can be connected with a single app, the iTunes. Steve Jobs, recognizing the success of file sharing on the Internet, went to Robin Casady and Michael Greene to discuss the idea of using their SoundJam MP as the base program for the iTunes. SoundJam MP was a popular and powerful digital encoding program that already looked like Apple’s own Quicktime Player.[2] This was around the year of 2000.

About 10 months later, Apple decided to release the first ever version of the iTunes. With the decision to make it free software for all Mac users and also PC users, iTunes generally became the world’s best and easiest media player to use.[2]  For many people, iTunes was the introduction to digital music as it was efficient and simple, with the launch of the program as soon as a CD is inserted into a computer, which then loaded the disc and straight away receives track data from Gracenote to your library.[2]

iTunes was founded based on the idea of network sharing, the sharing of media on the internet, not for illegal purposes but for good. iTunes enabled the option to share media within the user’s home network. Then there was the release of the iPod and iTunes compatibility to the iPod. It was then clear that Apple was trying to build technologies around the iTunes, being able to connect all the devices together through one central app.

The Music World

The recording industry is only one section of consumer goods in the world. The revenue out of the Industry is not a big contribution towards the GDP as a whole. But as consumers, music is all around us, we listen to music to and from work, while exercising, as a leisure activity and we also tend to choose radios with higher music rotation.[3] So as we can see, the revenues might not be a significant amount but its share of the collective conscience is massive. “The stakes in the battle over the music business are small enough to get lost in the rounding error for world GDP…” but its significance and importance within its consumer is much larger than values shown in numbers.[4]

The basic function of the music industry is to create this connection between the artist and the consumer while compensating the stakeholders that contributed in the process. But when we think about it, the amount of marketing that the Industry does is only at a large amount to the big and famous artists while the bulk of artists only enjoy a minimal promotion. Therefore, we have come to a time where the recording companies have outlived their somewhat importance to the connection between consumers and musicians.[5] The Industry is now changed. This is why iTunes have succeeded, using the P2P sharing concept, Apple found a way to connect consumers and musicians directly with no middleman.

Album v Singles Sales

The Music Store

Obviously, the key feature of the iTunes has got to be the Music Store that is available online.  It was released with the update of the iTunes 4 in 2003 [2] and it was a big success with the store having 200,000 songs on the first day of release.  The most fascinating aspect about this feature of the iTunes is that it completely changed the face and mentality of the Music Industry as a whole. Going all out with the same idea that Napster and all P2P system had, Apple changed the way people think towards music. The Music Industry, as we see from above, has always been the connector from musician to listeners and they have always believed in the sales of a tangible object that plays the music itself. What Apple did with iTunes shifted this mentality, suddenly it made us realize that music is not about the CD or the Vinyl, it was about the actual music. It gave the listeners freedom to purchase songs not physical objects that contains songs; it also allowed us to purchase these songs off the net with a very low price and very conveniently. Apple recognized the current generation of ‘I want it now’, the generation of bloggers. So because the Music Industry then is based largely on its consumer not its revenue, it was genius for iTunes to focus the music towards them not towards promoting the recording companies. “Simply put, as long as consumers are asked to buy bundled songs  [called CDs] at about US$16…yet can access the same content for free…” the existence of physical album will be at stake.[5]

In a way we can see that iTunes regulated the problem of music piracy within P2P systems back then because what Apple did was to give consumers an efficient legal alternative to downloading music. But, in turn, the Music Industry starts to blame iTunes for killing their business. A chart is shown below that displays the decrease of album sales due to iTunes existence. The Music Industry was also said to be dying because of Apple’s DRM (Digital Rights Management) laws on their music. “No one but Apple is allowed to make players for iTunes Music Store songs, and no one but Apple can sell you proprietary file-format music that will play on the iPod.”[6] But I think we need to think of it in a different perspective, as I have mentioned before, the Music Companies are no longer needed to connect the musicians to the listeners in the generation. There is this desire to go straight to the source in this Internet age, it also allows consumers to sample music and then purchase the album if they enjoyed the first song. iTunes is clearly for the consumers and the musicians, it was made for us, it cuts out the middleman and more money goes to the musician. The Industry might get less revenue but the musicians are benefitting from this. It also allows independent artists to get exposure without big companies’ marketing. So what the app is doing is that it promotes more of the artist and gives back more towards the artist. As for the DRM, isn’t it regulating the original problem of piracy? It restricts users to make a certain amount of copies or being played on a certain amount of computers.

In conclusion, I found iTunes to be a very interesting media in this generation. It’s seen as the Industry killing machine and makes Apple look more of a bully than they already are. But I see it as one of the best or if not the only invention that Apple has come to. It seems to be able to regulate the piracy problem quite well and it’s a program that allows a legal alternative to music sampling in this P2P world of ours.

REFERENCES

1.  Good, N & Krekelberg, A 2002, Usability and privacy: a study of kazaa P2P file-sharing, HP Laboratories Palo Alto

2.  Simon, M 2009 The Complete iTunes History – SoundJam MP to iTunes 9, 9 November, viewed 30th November 2011, <http://www.maclife.com/article/feature/complete_itunes_history_soundjam_mp_itunes_9>

3. Liebowitz, S 2004, Will MP3 Downloads Annihilate the Record Industry? The Evidence So Far, in Gary D. Libecap (ed.) Intellectual Property and Entrepreneurship (Advances in the Study of Entrepreneurship, Innovation & Economic Growth, Volume (15), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.229-260

4. Romer, P 2002, When Should We Use Intellectual Property Rights?, in The American Economic Review, Vol.92, No.2, Papers and Proceedings of the One Hundred Fourteenth Annual Meeting of the American Economic Association, pp. 213-216

5.  Frost, R 2007, Rearchitecting the music business: Mitigating music piracy by cutting out the record companies, viewed 30th November 2011, <www.firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/1975/1850>

6. Doctorow, C How iTunes is bad for the music industry and the public, Viewed 30th November 2011, <http://boingboing.net/2006/07/26/how-itunes-is-bad-fo.html>

7.  LICASdigital, 2009, iTunes History, Viewed 30th November 2011 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iv5pAGb4qtI&feature=related>

8. mediastudiesaelzer, 2011, History of iTunes, #uhsmediastudies, Viewed 30th November 2011 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MC2V7ziaock&feature=related>

9. Captivate08, 2011, iTunes killing the music industry, Viewed 30th November 2011 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SB6YXZye_8>

10. Brownlee, J 2010, Music Industry CEO Asks If iTunes Killed The Album, Viewed 30th November 2011 <http://www.cultofmac.com/51899/music-industry-ceo-asks-if-itunes-killed-the-album/>

Sound/Interaction Research Report: from 11292582.

– Writer/Director Kevin Smith and his latest methodology of releasing his 2nd official independent film ‘Red State’ in the year two thousand and eleven.

"Fear God"

The easiest way to understand the methodology of the release of Red State that Mr. Smith has used in conjunction with the spouting age of this new media (the media of the internet to be precise), it is best to go all the way back to the beginning of his career, and just briefly grasp how his underlying talents have set a path for his future as filmmaker and filmmaking for that matter, Smith has hasted himself a vanguard in the potential future of film distribution.

Kevin Smith, I believe, has an astonishingly courageous gift to articulate and therefore speak, regardless of his chronic use of profanities, in front of audiences from fifty to five thousand plus strong, and, has been doing so for the entirety of his career. It was in fact in conjunction with the release of his first independent film ‘Clerks’, circa 1994, which he embarked on that journey, along with his film career of course, swiftly applying himself in the public speaking domain.

Smith was conducting Q&As across the U.S.A. for the release, and soon to be cult following, of his self-written, directed and edited feature film Clerks. Soon being realized Smith had a good thing going; the film itself was becoming a fortune, increasingly. Following, Smith, being the well-roused speaker that he is, I feel grasped the concept of Q&Aing with the fans, and it was no doubt becoming a successful venture, and continued to be, with his many other bodies of work. Looking at it all in retrospection, it can be quite clearly seen, his public speaking approach, was to become a prominent part of Smith’s future, that being said, no doubt it was/is beneficial to his film career and his style to film-making, however more so to the valid development and the dynamic, that I strongly consider, that has assembled a path to his current state, that is, his fan driven esoteric media enterprise SModcast.com, but more on that later.

In participating willingly, and openly I must say, with pretty-damn-good reverence to his fans, Smith performed (and still does perform) countless Q&As throughout the past seventeen years, and in doing so, he would be, though more correctly said – he does sell out major auditoriums/theaters US wide, and in his experienced career, revealing on the river, a full house, at such venues as Carnegie Hall and the Sydney Opera House.

Miramax, (founded by the Weinstein Bros in 1979) who had bought and released Clerks theatrically, was seeing and/or aware of (though experiencing nevertheless) the benefits of his ability to acquire and maintain a first hand connection with his very own audience.

With that point, and the point of the report, Mr. Smith’s debuted his approach to an up and coming, and to be eventually, in contemporary, a thriving media form. In the yr 2007, on the 6th of Feb, knowing where the puck was going[1], he recorded his first internet broadcast podcast called SModcast #1: Fisting Flipper – In which our heroes primarily puzzle over when “Oriental” became a derogatory term, as well as touch on the following subjects: the very tall, “Pump Up the Volume”, parental groping, the detritus that gets washed off a newborn, the notion of a Birth-Day celebration, mobile units, bear bars, and Wolfie.[2] Ranging on average, over an hour and change in running time every episode, up to the current as I write, #184: Johnny Appleweed – In which our heroes search for heroes.[3] – released Sept 18th 2011. Kevin speaks, not alone in the podcasts, but with his long-time friend, colleague and producer of ‘Clerks’ (who would, during various Q&As, would be the voice of the budget, articulating a 27,575USD), the vastly intelligent and serene Scott Mosier, being the ‘M’ in SModcast, with that said Smith is obviously the ‘S’.

The two embarked with the new media, creating an askew podcast, with no restrictions on it’s purpose and content, simply because, I believe, the internet’s overall uncensored voice. And it is an immense forever-growing voice at that, in which the podcast was uploaded and first released on www.quickstopentertainment.com (the 6th day of February, 2007). I must say that it no longer exists on the website as it is now www.asitecalledfred.com. The podcast currently resides at www.smodcast.com, ultimately due to the growing size of the podcast(s), their popularity and most importantly the growing purpose (yet to be fully understood by the conservative media, but I’m sure they’ll come round). It frankly needed its own website. Which brings me closer to the point of the argument of the report, that is: @ SModcast.com, Kevin Smith has successfully created a vast podcast network (of which, majority of the podcasts are recorded live, at locations all across the United States of America, and the more primary shows, if not on tour, are recorded live at Jon Lovitz’s aptly named Podcast Theater at Universal City Walk, Hollywood), but not only that, there is a 24/7 live and streaming internet radio broadcast called S.I.R. (SModcast Internet Radio). And it is on this network, the SModcast Podcast Network, ladies & gentlemen, where Mr. Smith has successfully advertised (along with ‘Twitter’) his latest independently released film ‘Red State’ with a budget from investors of $4,000,000 USD, and to the success of their investment, Mr. Smith has made back that 4,000,000 USD in September, before the film’s official cinematic release date on Oct 19th, 2011 and the revenue built on the film now, is obviously benefitting everyone accordingly. But enough of this informational setup and down to the purpose behind the entire report…

How?

How, do you say? If you don’t say, well, I’m going to tell you anyway. As I stated earlier, with Kevin’s ability to maintain a good and sincere relationship with his audience I gather mainly from (and my own experience), the convincing exhibit of his personality, and allowing his fans to have a current and honest display of his life and his career, through and throughout the podcast network. From this, Smith has kept the audience updated, not only with his charming and word-colourful anecdotes of his life, family, friends and his career, but now with an independent edge on his film-making (acutely, film distribution). And it is distribution like never before! To approach from the dynamic of the internet, that it can permitted to say, it is like never before (Smith states in podcasts across his network and beyond, that it isn’t something new, that it is done similarly to Gone With The Wind 39’, he is taking his film on the road, country-wide, and  encroaching global, the advantage Smith has lies with his immediate and intimate connection with his audience) and lightly touching on Kevin’s copious activity on his Twitter account, which he alone can reach an audience of his ‘followers’ consisting: 1,880,656[4] (give or take), Mr. Smith needs not to go any further in the conventional film advertisement realm, than an arms reach to his trusty Mac appliance, whether it be Iphone, Ipad or I(future catchy appliance name). That alone can access well over a million people and he can tell them directly, when and where ‘Red State’ will be playing, and believe it or not, they have, and they will, turn up. All this, Smith simply, from maintaining a wide-reaching audience and from being savvy with this new media, can do this, and frankly why not. This is without doubt a noticeable endeavor, to the extent where it has veteran film director F.F. Coppola turning his ears towards this new media angle[5], and naturally it will be developing much further…

Thus, Smith has set up on his podcast network, a particular podcast, ‘Red State of the Union’ that was first released on the ninth day of November, in the yr of 2010[6] and it involves every prominent cast and crew members from the feature. The podcast is recorded live with presence of an audience, with Kevin being the curative MC, and going through the entire film making process, in a Q&A fashion, per-say one episode w/ Producer John Gordon, second involving Cinematographer Dave Klein, third the Casting Director Deb Aquila, then the first AD Adam Druxman and so on and so forth, to the leading cast, such as Michael Angarano and Kerry Bishe. All build up to the last (so far), being with veteran actor, the great Michael Parks[7]. Featured in this, Parks’ very own podcast, Smith allows to who ever wants to listen, Mr. Parks explaining his rise and fall (and rise) of his Hollywood career. The anecdotes told by Parks mainly, follow Parks (obviously) from being a prominent venture for film-makers in the ‘Golden Age’ of Hollywood, to an exclusive interview he had with the ‘Produsher with the lishp’, who after wanting to make him a ‘shtar’, had him blacklisted from Hollywood in the seventies, leaving Mr. Parks unable to work properly in the industry since, that is until the young and ambitious Quentin Tarantino, who was an avid fan of Parks made use of him frequently in his latter feature films, i.e. Dusk Till Dawn 96’, Kill Bill volume I 03’ & volume II 04’ etc, where, upon divine intervention I’m sure, Kevin saw Parks act, and being encompassed by his impeccable deliverance, offered Parks the Role of Pastor Abin Cooper, Parks accepted, making it, to me especially, a very anticipated film. With all this vital information, at the tips of the audiences’ fingers, involvement becomes incidental, and anticipation, paramount.

Since the initial completed screenplay up to production and post-production (noting that Kevin wrote, directed and edited the film, so by time of the film’s wrap-party, he was able to show the cast and crew a completed first cut) of Red State, Smith has allowed his fans to be current and a major part of the entire experience. Fact of the matter, any of the fans who listens to the network, or at least one of the podcasts regularly, is more than up to date with his life and media of his career, whether it be the truth behind the general media’s exposition of the superfluous TF-TF[8] saga, or better and far more apparent and current, the U.K. tour of Red State, Smith, through this media form, has kept alive, to say simply, his career, his voice, and a spark for independent film, and has the talent to keep his audience, as of myself, and many others, interested with Red State, and what is upcoming for Mr. Smith’s journey next…excelsior Kevin, excelsior…

DJL


[1] An ‘inside’ term that Smith uses frequently in his podcasts. Coming directly from the former Canadian ice hockey player Wayne Gretzky, who is regarded as the greatest NHL player of all time (and is notably referenced in many sources, one is being the Encyclopedia Britannica), despite his un-noteworthy stature, speed and strength, Gretzky had/has unrivalled intelligence for the game that gave him adept consistency to anticipate where the puck was going to be and therefore execute the right manoeuvre at the right time hence “knowing where the puck is going”. Smith regards the term to the way he has acclimated his career and path and adopted such media outputs as podcasts to advertise and release his feature film Red State.

[8] An acronym from the Southwest Airline ordeal that Mr. Smith unfortunately had to go through, all audio-documented (obviously) on the network, but specifically in #106: Go fuck yourself, South-West Airlines, Feb 13th 2010 – in which, surely, our hero is too fat to fly. And don’t call me Shirley.

Red State poster from: http://www.dumbgun.com/dumbgunword/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/red_state_final_2.jpg