VFL17 In Review!

I have now published my project on the View from Leicester website under the VFL17 section as A Mini Tour of Leicester. Before publishing it I went out again to take two photos, one of which I’d use in the final post an another to use in a promotional post on the VFL Facebook page.

The photo I used at the start of my final post on the VFL site can be seen below and was taken as a teaser to put next to the introduction with Lego man out of focus in the foreground and Leicester Cathedral in focus in the background:

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The photo I used for the promotional post of the VFL Facebook page can be seen below. For this I used the same teaser style as the previous photo with the Lego man out of focus in the foreground. I edited the image in Adobe Photoshop to apply the VFL17 text over the image and blended it in by lowering the opacity and using the eraser tool. This promotional post can be seen here.

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To see all the posts visit the Instagram account here!

Overall the account and photo posts have received quite a good response online in the couple of weeks since it was created with the account getting more interaction through followers, likes and comments than I initially thought it would. One follower commented that on their recent trip to Leicester they did’t get a lot of time to look around and so was enjoying exploring the city through looking at the photos. This is exactly the response I wanted from the posts to make viewers want to visit these locations and if not to give them a virtual tour of these places to see what they’re missing out on. Another commenter simply said that they liked the idea behind the account. I also received a few messages on the account with one of my good friends saying how the photos had made the city look interesting and completely different to what he’d thought/seen of it before. Another message I received to my surprise was from the De Montfort University account saying that the university press office loved the idea behind the account and would like to know more about it. So overall I am pleased with the outcome of the account and still have quite a few images to use in posts which I may still upload in the remaining couple of days until the deadline and may even continue on with this account afterwards as it’s quite fun to do.

(Click the image thumbnails to view a larger version)

 

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The @LeicesterLegoMan Instagram account at the time of posting.

 

More Posts!

With the photos I was posting on the Leicester Lego Man Instagram account I decided it could be improved by making use of the new “Gallery Feature” in Instagram that allows you to upload more than 1 photo in a post which the viewer can simply scroll right/left through the images.

I had therefore thought that it would be good to have the first image the same as before with the Lego man in front of the significant location/place and then following images in the gallery being a mix of other photos of the location or other shots of the Lego man in the location. This would show a wider perspective of the place, explain/show the caption information more and generally make the place more “advertising” or interesting to the viewer of the media. With more than one image each post is also potentially retaining the viewer’s attention for a longer period of time.

The first implementation of this gallery feature was when I posted about one of my favourite streets in Leicester that is probably not well known about. As seen below this post was about a Graffiti Street in the city centre called Short Street and includes 4 images; 3 of which show the Lego man in front of different locations down the street and then the fourth showing of a piece of the graffiti. This gallery was also to reposted by another Leicester related Instagram page as shown here. This Instagram gallery can be seen below:

I then continued to use this gallery feature in the following posts as I felt it worked well to give a wider perspective of the location being shown and talked about in the caption. The following few posts contained a varied number of images within the gallery depending on what there was to take photos of at the location. The most was 5 images in this gallery post of Abbey Park.

Like with the previous King Richard III post I decided to customize the Lego man again when visiting the National Space Centre to create another photo with this fun/funny effect by changing it to look like an astronaut. I think this again worked quite well to make the photo more interesting and engaging for the viewers drawing them in to look through the other photos.

Since posting these galleries up to this point the profile has again grown faster than I’d have thought with continually more followers and more interaction as I post photos more.

Having covered quite a lot of the major attractions/sights around Leicester now the profile photos show to some extent a “mini tour” of the city as you scroll through them. I also still have quite a few photos/photos galleries prepared to post which I will try to upload over the last few days up until the deadline but may not appear on any blog posts due to the timing.

To view all the posts and the most recent ones check out the account here!

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Account Setup & First Posts

To start I firstly created the account I would use to post these images on Instagram.

After a little thought I decided to go for the username “@LeicesterLegoMan” as this was fairly self explanatory as to what the account content would revolve around. The inclusion of Leicester in the name would be a benefit as it would ensure the account appears when anyone searches Leicester and also provides an immediate connection with anyone from Leicester as the account is primarily linked to this city through this name and the content that would be made.

To finish the account setup I also took the photo below of the Lego Minifigure I would use for the profile photo:

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This Leicester Lego Man Instagram can be seen here!

The first posts of the account were single images focused on the Lego man in the foreground with the significant places in Leicester featuring in the background. These started off being edited camera photos but then changed to mainly be more convenient “Instagram edited” phone photos. The captions to these images were largely informative telling the history or other information of the places with occasionally more personal thoughts/opinions captions. On each photo I used a few appropriate/relevant hashtags and the Leicester location tag to help promote the photos so they could be seen by the highest number of people possible while not coming across as “spamming” hashtags since I didn’t use anywhere near the limit of 30 allowed on one post. For one of the photos I even tried to link into an event that was currently happening too since I posted a photo of the Lego man in front of the DMU sign while it was a university open day.

A good example of one of the starting camera photos includes:

Just after starting the account I had to go to London for a day in which I posted two photos on the day of the Lego Man during the trip to London like the accounts I took inspiration from did when they travel anywhere. One was a more artistic edited camera photo of the Lego Man on some of the Santander Cycles while the other was a photo taken with my phone camera and uploaded while waiting for a train. I found this quite fun taking photos with my phone, editing them in Instagram and instantly uploading them since I usually spend a long time editing photos during my other photography work.

For one photo I tried to be a bit more creative by mimicking the popular statue of King Richard III with the Lego man I would take a photo of in front of it. I did this by adding Lego minifigure parts to  man to make it look like the statue by holding up a sword and crown and wearing some armour. I then posed the man in a similar way and took a photo of it in front of the real statue. As you can see in the image below I think that this created quite an eye catching and funny post:

As you can see by the screenshots below up to this point the account was doing fairly well since it had only been running a short while. The number of followers and likes was improving with every post and there had been some positive interaction from other users such as one that said they loved the idea behind the account and another that replied answering something I had written in the caption.

Final Idea

My final idea for the group project will be to create some spreadable media in the form of some unique photos based around Leicester that would likely catch the attention of other social media users and be used to tell a story in the captions by “advertising” the locations, being informative about the locations, tell the story of my experience of that location or the story of what I was doing while taking the photo.

I got my inspiration for the idea from other social media accounts like the following:

  •  Kowalski The Traveller – This Instagram account is mainly for fun and based around the creator taking photos of a McDonalds Toy Penguin in various iconic/popular locations around the world that they travel to or just in front of things that they do at those places. I quite like the idea that they take this item (the penguin) wherever they go and use it to tell a story of their travels and “advertise/promote” the places that they go to.
  • Travelling Cars – This Instagram account is more artistic in it’s approach and revolves around the creator taking photos of a couple of toy cars at various locations that they travel to. With the captions they give information about the places or a story of what they’re doing there. This creator has interestingly also previously done some sort of paid advertising where they used realistic toy vehicles to advertise the manufacturer of the real things.
  • PopBangColour – This Instagram account is mainly car art based but the account owner also often takes photos of a mini Lego version of himself with other items/scenes relating to what he is doing that day. For example a recent one is this photo of his Lego character with a Fiat badge and other mini Fiat toy cars since he is working on a project with them.

 

I wanted to do a similar thing to these inspiration accounts using a Lego mini-figure character where I would take photos of it around the City of Leicester at key locations (E.g. Cathedral, Clock Tower etc..) or other less well known places I find interesting and then post them to Instagram on a dedicated account.

I would then in the captions tell a story about the place’s history, information about the place and/or about my experience/thoughts of the location. So the images and their captions would serve a “touristic advertisement” and informative purpose showing off the city online to potential visitors and to those who already live here. They may also in a wider extent show a story the places I as the content creator travel to and the things I do if they’re recorded in these photos/captions.

Like the inspiration accounts I will also take photos of this “character” at other locations around the UK where I may travel to within the project time span.

This project should allow me to use both real time posting by taking photos with my phone of the Lego character and also more polished media by taking camera photos to edit and post at a later time. It will be an interesting challenge within the remaining few weeks to see what interaction/engagement the photos get online since I will try to post at least 1 photo a day until the deadline.

 

 

 

Idea Testing

I started to test one of the original group project ideas that I came up with to see what it would look like when actually created.

I took the idea I had of combining several posted photos from social media of the same location posted by other people/users into a single “collage” photo. These different perspective photos would be sourced from Instagram tags or location tags and then blended together as whole images. These images would show the story of different people’s perspectives on the world and how we each see the world around us. Since we all see and capture images in different ways/styles.

I originally planned to create this collage as just a static image but on consultation with others was convinced to make it animated or a video to make it more interesting to the viewer.

I set about downloading some images of Leicester Clock Tower using the Instagram Location Tag and then imported them into Adobe Photoshop. In Photoshop I used the Transform too to rotate and position these images over one another and then used the timeline tool to add in the different image layers over a set period of the animation. These frames were also set to loop.

Timeline View.PNG

This Photoshop file was then exported as an animated GIF image as seen below:

collage

I think the final animated image looks good and is definitely more interesting than if it would have been a static image and also allows the use of more images that overlap. However I am not fully keen on this idea and so might work on another new idea relating to photos of significant landmarks or places around Leicester.

The final photos used in the above animated image are by Instagram users:

Background image – https://www.instagram.com/real__lbj/

Overlaid images:

https://www.instagram.com/ranj82/

https://www.instagram.com/pandorapink/

https://www.instagram.com/pablodabrowski/

https://www.instagram.com/my_random_makes/

https://www.instagram.com/mehzabin___/

https://www.instagram.com/carpediememmie/

https://www.instagram.com/anitaremek/

 

Need For Speed

For this assignment the task was to make a “musicless music video” by taking a music video, muting the audio and then using a variety of appropriate sound effects to make up the audio to the video.

My inspiration for this assignment was from the short example given on the assignment page giving examples of how they’ve replaced sounds and showing that I didn’t have to the whole video for a song. Alongside this the assignment reminded me of a very funny “bad lip reading” video I’d seen recently where the creator had replaced the original audio with his own lyrics/music to create a song. Through looking at a couple of music videos I had also thought that the best type of video to use would be one with quite a lot of action so I don’t have to find lengthy sound effects that fit and minimal artist singing footage since I didn’t want to have to replace speech.

I settled upon choosing a section of the music video to the song We’ll Be Coming Back by Calvin Harris and Example. I chose this because the selected section of just over a minute that is mainly action shots  which would be good to edit to. The video is also largely a car chase which is of interest to me meaning it would be quite fun to edit/match audio to and I do quite like the original song.

I started by downloading the video using this YouTube video downloader. I then imported the video into Sony Vegas Pro 12, dragged it onto the timeline and then muted the audio track to get rid of the video music. I then set about searching for the sound effects to edit into the video using YouTube to find videos with appropriate sounds and using this YouTube MP3 Downloader to download the audio for them.

Firstly I used this LaFerrari Hillclimb video to substitute audio for the Ferrari in the video using the different segments of it for when it’s shown in the video.  These segments were trimmed to the right lengths using the Trim and Split tool and positioned into place on the second audio track. The same process was done for this Porsche Onboard video to substitute audio for the Porsche in the video. The same process of splitting up the full audio to use segments of it was carried out and this audio was positioned on a third audio track. For the motorbike sound effects it was difficult to find any audio of them at slower speeds so I ended up using a small section of this video from a YouTuber I watch occasionally. Again this was trimmed and positioned on a separate audio track.

To fill in the remaining parts of the music video I used this Popup Headlight video for the sound effects for the headlight/engine turn off part in the video, this Paper Sound Effect video for the map and conversation parts, this Gravel Footsteps video for the conversation/bag burying part and this Car on Gravel video for when section when the car brakes/stops on gravel.

A screenshot of all of the audio tracks below the video track in the Sony Vegas project file can be seen below:

Sony Vegas Timeline.PNG

The finished Musicless Music Video can be seen below:

**If the video does not play on YouTube above because of Copyright Reasons please view it here**

 

The assignment was actually quite fun to do since I usually don’t like audio work. It was quite challenging to find appropriate sound effects to match in well with what’s being shown in the video which is why I used YouTube rather than other sound effect specific websites since there is more content to choose from. The other key to making it sound realistic which I aimed to do was by layering the sound effects as shown in the Sony Vegas screenshot to add depth. For example layering the different car/bike noises together while they’re on screen together.

To me the final video uploaded to YouTube doesn’t play because it’s blocked on copyright grounds which is slightly expected since the video visually is an unedited direct copy. This is why I’ve included another file link to it underneath. It’s understandable why the content owner has monetized the video but I think by most video uploaders is seen as a restriction on freedom of expression if this content is completey blocked to some people (244 countries in this case for my musicless music video). Other platforms have also started clamping down on content creators/remixers and putting these blocking features into place such as Instagram which have for video music and with Facebook planning to introduce one soon.

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Gold Squad

For this assignment the task was to create a “find the difference” picture with at least 6 differences by editing things out of a photo.

My inspiration for this was my photography work in which I edit objects and things out of photos all the time to get a polished “perfect photo” look. For example this piece of previous work below comparing a “before and after” of the editing of a photo:

I therefore decided to take a twist on the assignment by editing a photo that I had taken beforehand. I would remove some bigger elements to create differences like the assignment asked and then would go on to do my “perfection” editing where I remove everything I find annoying or distracting within the image to create the best/cleanest photo I can.

I started using Adobe Lightroom to edit the image using Spot Removal Tool which works by specifying a source circle and then a destination circle for the source to be pasted over. You can also speicify “Heal” or “Clone” to determine how the source is pasted over it; whether it is just copied identically or healed/merged into place. The Spot Healing Tool view with my edited circles can be seen in the image below:

lightroom

To perfect the image I also used Adobe Photoshop to finalize some of the editing that I started in Lightroom and to remove some other parts that wasn’t possible with the Spot Removal Tool. I used the Spot Healing Brush Tool to get rid of minor parts since it fills them in automatically and then used the Healing Brush Tool to specify appropriate areas of the photo, position these copied areas over the parts to edit out and then blend them in using the Eraser Tool. My Photoshop Editing screen can be seen below:

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Here’s the final “Spot the Differences” or “Before and After” photos:

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As you can see there are quite a few big differences in the photos as well as the small minor “polishing” changes. The big changes include the guy in front of the door on the right, the guy by the Range Rover on the left, the red car/line in the bottom left and all of the Michael Kors and Dior branding on the shop fronts.

I was very happy with how this photo turned out since I edited it to the point where it is as good as it can be that I actually decided to post it online. For this I re-imported it into Lightroom, square cropped it and re-watermarked it in the new crop before posting it to Instagram as seen below:

I think my finished “before editing” and “after editing” photos shows some of the power of modern computer image editing and manipulation. There has been quite a lot of controversy online over this sort of “extreme editing” with relation to pictures of models/people edited by businesses or the media which set unrealistic standards/goals to society. For example this recent story demonstrates a magazine possibly trying to make a model on the cover look slimmer than she actually is. Another example of Photoshop editing being caught out which I find particularly funny is these North Korean state-published images which most are quite blatantly not real.