I think I had an idea of what I wanted to do with my video right from the start in terms of overlaying animation over video. I knew Jia was interested in animation and I had seen her illustrations and the creatures she drew and I felt like it would be a perfect tool to use to illustrate what she had to say.
Most of the shots I took were meant to be canvases for my animation. I chose her studio desk because it seemed to be a collection of so many things that represented Jia, and additionally could be treated as this world where all the animated creatures came to life. Many of these shots were just experiments with various angles and distances, and the range of shots I got through this experimentation helped prevent the video from getting boring even though it remained in one space.
The interviewing process was the hardest part for me. For the longest time I could not figure out what exactly it was that I wanted to ask Jia. I felt the pressure to plan my questions perfectly. In the end however, the interview process was more natural. I started off with basic questions about design and then let the conversation create new questions. This proved to be rather difficult to structure during the editing process, but I felt that it allowed for a more natural flow of ideas.
When I just had the video and audio, I felt as though they didn’t mesh too well together, but then when the animation came it everything seemed to work out. The animation was also what made the video feel like it truly was about Jia.
Through this video project, I got to learn a lot more about jay, which was exciting. I had known jay prior to doing this project, but we had never gotten to know eachother on a more personal level. Jay and I met a couple of times, and just spent a couple of hours together, casually gathering footage and audio. Through this project, I learned a lot about how Jay’s life and background has made her who she is, and how that affects her as an artist and designer.
Through this video, I wanted to portray how Jay’s background has shaped her as a whole, and how that would show through her artwork. Jay can be very reserved and quiet, but at the same time, she can speak her mind when she wants to.
From what ive observed, Jay loves to spend time reading, or watching documentaries that help her gather ideas and inspire her.
Jay has her own unique style, which definitely mirrors her personality. It was interesting to see how she comes about her ideas, and how those ideas translate onto a final product. I did notice that in some ways, Jay and I have opposite personalities, but we worked very well together and she helped me get a clear sense of what she wanted herself to be portrayed as. One thing I wish I had done was maybe capture more of the more outgoing side of jay.
Im glad I got paired with Jay because she wasn’t a total stranger to me, and even though our personalities can be very different, I could relate to her in so many ways. Having moved around a lot myself, It was easy for me to understand her and the way she views relationships and how that had shaped her as a person.
Erin and I started this assignment with a general discussion about our lives, mainly focusing on our paths to RISD and how we became interested in art. After that, I asked Erin what she was comfortable talking about and then wrote some specific questions about her work and childhood based on our initial conversation. When we met again I recorded our conversations and took some footage of her in her room. Erin was helpful and showed me pictures from an album of childhood pictures as well as images of her current and past work. After this meeting I made a first draft of my video, but I realized that a lot of the material was too general and I had a hard time organizing it all into a video with a specific focus. My first draft of the video covered many different topics including Erin’s childhood, living in Maryland, her high school and university in Korea, and some of her thoughts on design. In order to give the video a more focused direction, I took out most of the information about her background and took more videos about Erin’s thoughts on design. In order to think of questions for additional footage, I looked through Erin’s work and tried to find common themes. These included her use of bold shapes and her affinity towards packaging. Then in the video editing process I tried to visually connect elements of her work by placing them in certain sequences and juxtaposing different formal elements. For example, I found several of Erin’s pieces contained large circles, so I collected these and put them together in sequence, transitioning between them by shrinking and enlarging the common circular forms. I also included some of Erin’s earlier paintings and connected these to her current design pieces. When I was editing the video, I wanted it to have a bold style that was reminiscent of Erin’s work. This is why I made the title cards large, bold and capitalized. I also used split screens and layering effects that emphasized the graphic elements of the video.
Before I began my interviews with Jay, I first considered my own role as an documentary filmmaker. As with all forms of film, so much of the filmmaker’s self becomes exposed through filming and editing. The questions we pose to our subject, our choice of perspectives, the quotes we keep and the ones we discard — All these decisions become markedly important in the creation of a documentary; especially because it is a form through which people expect some seed of truth.
Thus, I made the decision to keep a hands-off approach to my film of Jay, trusting that the interviews would allow me him to reveal what was important to his design perspective; in order for me to better craft a narrative about his story. This proved to be successful, as we ended up working closely together to understand this process — I looked outward for points of interest and relevance, and Jay looked inward through self-reflection — allowing us to meet in the middle.
In many ways, the ethnographic video was discovered rather than created. As interviewer and interviewee, we celebrated brief moments of synchronity. An interesting interview, when watched in full, can be very boring due to its predictability and lack of rhythm. However, any interview, when interspersed carefully with sensible links and transitions – much like telling a story – can be interesting and feel well-paced. Allowing the audio and visual to take turns, much like in a dance, can also allow different elements of the film to lead into each other, creating a much smoother expeirence.
I’m very happy to have had the opportunity to film Jay. To share in the personal space of another person; to see the environment in which they live, relax, and work, can be an intrusive experience, and I’m glad that Jay was very open and willing to let me into his life. It was altogether a very enjoyable film to make.