Final Project – Childhood War Memories

My final project is supposed to be housed in a website – but it isn’t working properly.  It was working fine on my pc in Firefox, but is not working in Chrome on Macs, so I’m just adding it as a blog post.  That means that the last paragraph of this Artist’s Statement won’t make sense, but it will give you an idea of how the project was intended to be experienced.  There is supposed to be a grid of 6 blocks – one contains the title of the website and instructions to click an image, the other five blocks contain images.  If you click on an image it takes you to another page which will play the video. 

Artist’s Statement

This project combines two elements of our Digital Cinema class:

  • Visual Evidence with interviews
  • Database video


My parents were born and raised in two different villages near the city of Derby which was an industrial center in the middle of England.  Derby was the home of Rolls Royce which was building engines used in several types of fighter planes and, as such, was a target of aerial bombing by the Germans during World War II.


Mom and Dad were young children during this period and have frequently told me about their experiences during the war and their perspectives on these events as children. They had to carry gas masks everywhere they went, they were bombed at home and at school, and they had to take shelter in bomb shelters during air raids. They were fortunate in that they did not have to evacuate their homes the way many children in London did, their homes were not damaged or destroyed, and they did not lose any family members in any bombing raids.


This project is really a work in progress.  I have included interviews regarding air raids at school and at home, gas masks, Italian POWs, and candy rationing.  A more complete project would include collecting unexploded bombs after air raids, German POWs, Polish RAF pilots, the arrival of the Americans, D-Day, rationing in general, Victory gardens, and conditions after the war.


There are five interviews with my parents and these are supplemented with visual evidence in the form of archival footage and family photos.  Some of the archival footage appears to be from newsreels (e.g. “Rationing in Britain”) and some appears to be material prepared by the British government (e.g. “Italian POWs 1941”).

When my parents emigrated to North America in 1963, they were only able to bring a few treasured possessions because of the cost.  There was no room for artifacts from the war – no clothing, etc.  So it was not possible use photos of artifacts as visual evidence.

I have used what still photos my parents have of themselves and their parents during the war, but it may seem an extremely small collection by today’s standards.  During the war, family photos were considered luxuries and neither family was wealthy enough to be able to take a lot of photographs.  It was hard enough to find sufficient food to eat and clothes to wear.  Video footage of the family was out of the question.  The affordability of still photography did not come until the 1960s and video not until the 1990s.  (By the way, in the Gas Mask video Dad refers to a photograph of his childhood gas mask.  I have seen this photograph so I know it exists, but my parents and I were unable to find it in time to complete this project.)

The second element of the class that this project demonstrates is that of Database Video.  The interviews are housed as a (small) database on a web site and the viewer is free to explore the stories as they wish.  This nonlinear form of storytelling actually makes the experience more realistic in that it is the same way that my brothers and I experienced these stories growing up.  Perhaps this is also a realistic representation of how memory works as well – as short stories in a collection.


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  1. Your mother is so cute. My favorite ones are the butterscotch one and the bombing one. I think what makes this so compelling is your parents attitude towards this and their personality. They were children at the time, and despite the fact that they’ve grown and are older now, they still tell the story like it’s fresh. As if their views and attitude have remained unchanged. They turned a serious subject into something a bit more comical, which makes the videos all the more intriguing.

    I also like the way the text appears in the beginning. The effect you used came out very well.

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Video essay – Effective Math Tutorials on YouTube

This is a video essay about Math tutorials on YouTube from four of my favorite presenters on the subject of trigonometry.  I put this essay together on the old machines in the lab.  I’m hoping this is the reason why my titles look pixelated.  I realize Math is probably not everyone’s favorite subject, but these folks make it easy to understand and they are fairly efficient too, so that you can do your work and then go on to do other, perhaps more amusing, things.

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Interactive Cinema

For this assignment, I created an interactive website of a walk along the Rails to Trails in a portion of Lewis County.  Here is the url for the video: .  This was a really fun medium to play with.  I didn’t do as much with it as I could have.  I think when I take a walk sometimes I just look at the road ahead or I focus my attention on the road at my feet.  But I have noticed that the best parts of the walk are when I look to the sides or up into the trees – that’s where the wildlife is.  My idea for this project was to use the hotspots to show what is in those other views.  The projects we saw in class took a much more adventurous approach, using action in the video to move to another scene, or using the hotspot choices to create different plot lines.

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Cinema-Writing & Final Project Idea

Cinema-Writing Blogpost:

The first video example, How YouTube Changed the Essay is created with a live speaker and a PowerPoint presentation.  The editing cuts to different shots from the speaker to the presentation.  The presentation includes photos of websites, visual art, print media, then it also includes text, and text combined with images.  Another section includes photos with voice-over and music regarding the speaker’s video essay about Ansel Adams.  Visually, it has a lot of variety.  The video essays F For Fake and Sans Soleil contain video examples.  Normally, I would start an essay by choosing a topic and thinking about the support for my arguments.  In the case of a video essay, it seems that the proof should be found before the arguments are made.  So that the creation of the video essay is more like an observation rather than testing a hypothesis.


Final Project idea:  I intend to interview my parents regarding their lives, particularly in England during WWII.  I really enjoyed doing the Interactive Cinema/Hypervideo project, so I would like to use the Interactive Cinema/Hypervideo format with the Interview techniques we have studied.  It will be a collection of 3 videos – 1 minute each and be presented on a webpage that the user can click on to view.  The biggest challenge will be lighting, sound, and visual evidence.  Editing will also be a challenge since the stories are usually longer than one minute.  I will talk to my parents this weekend to figure out what stories might be best and we will look through old photos to find some visual evidence.  Some of their best stories don’t have any photos, but I will try to find some.  One of my favorite stories is one my dad tells about his dad seeing a dentist pull a tooth as part of circus entertainment.

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Interactive Cinema

The Whale Hunt by Jonathan Harris uses a collection of still photos to tell a story of a young man and his friend who go to Alaska to hunt a whale with local men as part of their traditional way of life.  The story begins with a mosaic of tiny photos and the user starts the story by clicking on the upper left photo.  The remaining photos are brought up automatically in order of the events of the story.  Each is a still shot, very beautiful, taken at least every 5 minutes.  The photos display the date and time the photo was taken.  There is no sound.  The user can turn captions on and off and change the speed that the photos are displayed (cadence).  There is a horizontal graphic at the bottom of the screen which the author describes as a heartbeat ( and this can be used to scroll through the story.  The author states that the more exciting parts are indicated by the larger fluctuations in the heartbeat.  Since the viewer can skip ahead or extend different parts of the story, each viewer may experience the story a bit differently.

Well, yes, I think it is a narrative.  The events behind this work certainly describe a narrative with characters and a series of events.  According to our reading, “Database Logic” by Lev Manovich, a database is an unordered list or collection, and a narrative “creates a cause-and-effect trajectory of seemingly unordered items (events).”  In this case, it is a narrative created from a database of photos that are related (Manovich describes a photo album as an example of a database).

The only ways that it is not cinematic is that there is no sound, and the pictures are still rather than moving.  But the pictures show events in such close succession that the viewer can easily fill in the blanks.  Really, a motion picture is also a collection of still shots, but they are much closer together so that they seem to show seamless movement between shots.  The shots are framed just as you have taught us in class: long shots to set the scene, medium shots, close ups, extreme close ups.  The passage of time by using a couple of shots that are very similar of a similar subject, then a few shots of something else, then back to the original subject.  Waiting for the whales shows one man looking out to sea – several shots, then a few shots of camp, the boat, the tents, then back to views of the man looking to sea, more shots of camp, equipment ready to be used, men assembling equipment, more shots of the sea, back to camp, back to sea . . . .

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Job/Hobby Profile

For this assignment, I interviewed my mother who is an experienced knitter.  If you are trying to place her accent, she was born and raised in Derby, England.  Her grandparents were Welsh, so you might hear some Welsh influence too.  The black and white inset footage is from a short public service film used to inform people about what to do during an air raid.  The film is shot in Nottingham, England which is very close to Derby.  Mom was kind enough to make the samples of casting on, lace stitch, and cabling so that she could demonstrate those stitches for this video.

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Hybrid spaces

This is my submission for hybrid spaces.  I am really interested in night time videos, so this is what I chose to work on.

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Networked Cinema

I regularly watch three YouTube series:  Cave of Programming, Derek Banas, and MathBFF.  The YouTube Academy suggests 10 things that make great content and each of those things can be seen in these series:

Shareability – All three were recommended to me by a friend and they are so good that I have recommended them to others

Conversation – All three are very conversational, it is very much like having a friend explain the topic to you. John from Cave of Programming offers tips for job interviews, Derek Banas starts each tutorial with a friendly Texan greeting “Well, hello internet . . . “, and MathBFF – well it’s all in the name isn’t it?  Nancy (MathBFF) is very personable.

Interactivity – John and Derek invite the viewer to check out their websites and ask questions or post comments. Derek has all of the programming code from his tutorials at his website.  Nancy invites her viewers to write to her and ask for tutorials on specific topics.

Consistency – All three have a consistent audio/visual approach, the same persons directing the tutorial, the same IDE or acrylic board/colored markers, the same tag lines.

Targeting – Yes, there is a clearly defined audience: John and Derek are creating videos for people who want to study programming, and Nancy is creating videos for people who are studying Math.

Sustainability – These subjects are challenging and big enough to sustain many tutorials. Although there are a lot of people doing the same thing, these series are of high quality and plentiful, so I keep going back to them when I want to know about a specific topic.

Discoverability – I don’t think these are really “trending” topics. They seem to be “evergreen” topics because there are a lot of people studying these subjects.

Accessibility – Some of the videos build on previous tutorials, but almost all of them can be watched independently and out of order. John, Derek and Nancy will refer to relevant videos if they need to be watched first.

Collaboration – I have not seen any evidence of collaboration with other people making tutorials within these tutorials.

Inspiration – “Is this idea coming from a place of genuine interest?” Yes, I think this is true too. John and Derek are professional programmers and Nancy is a graduate of MIT.

Derek Banas has over 691,000 subscribers, 917 videos, and posts a new tutorial every Saturday.  Cave of Programming has over 77,000 subscribers and 329 videos.  MathBFF has over 348,000 subscribers and 34 videos.  I also watched the “Get Discovered” course.  I think these 3 series follow some of these suggestions:  the videos are titled and described accurately and so it’s easy to find them when you do a search for the specific topic they are discussing, the tutors do show concern for the welfare of their viewers, and the videos are organized into playlists.

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Hybrid Cinema

The video, Light is Waiting by Michael Robinson (, uses scenes from (perhaps) a couple of episodes from the television show, Full House, to create a kind of hybrid cinema.  The scene starts with two girls discussing a homework assignment based on watching the television news and they decide to take the television upstairs to watch the news on one television set and a music video on another television set.  When they pause for a moment at the top of the stairs, one of the girls pulls her sweatshirt out from underneath the television which was resting on the banister and the television falls off the edge of the banister to the floor on the ground level of the house.  Up to this point, the video is fairly traditional and “realistic”.  The scene cuts to flashing blue, red, and white light and then to fairly narrow horizontal trips of black, blue, white and red which flash in a way reminiscent of analog televisions when they were tuning in to the signal.

The image finally focuses on a realistic scene of a boat in the ocean and a nearby island.  Then the scene changes to characters on a tropical island participating in a kind of dance or ceremony.  This part of the video uses special effects altering the colors by adding red and blue, superimposing images of the characters on top of the scene and offset, using mirror images of the scene split down the middle (a bit like a kaleidoscope), and some slow motion.  The video ended with some flashes of light and color.  It was an interesting use of special effects as a way of showing how a television might show a program while it was on the fritz.

Manovich explains that hybrid cinema uses realistic video footage and manipulates it as a kind of painting but using thousands upon thousands of images rather than just a few as in 19th century forms of moving picture media.  Manovich also claims that the loop which has been used in early forms of motion pictures, the development of QuickTime, and in computer programming is also important in creating new forms of digital cinema.  He cites Flora petrinsuaris and his own Little Movies as examples.   I wish that Light is Waiting had included a loop to the beginning of the story, just some kind of return to the television and the family to bring the audience back to reality.

In terms of inspiration, I preferred the examples Manovich gave in the reading, the floating feather from Forrest Gump and the changes to the launch pad for Apollo 13.  Sometimes, I think, a subtle approach can enhance the story without getting in the way.  This is a classic tension in art, I think.  In opera, for example, the relative importance of the virtuosity of the singers compared to the story and characters has been debated for about 400 years.

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Visual Evidence – Eagle Creek fire

Well, our discussion in class was very good.  The ideas about interviewing truck drivers who had to change their route, people who had been evacuated or who had lost their homes, and people working in the forestry or emergency crews would be excellent choices.  Another aspect of the Eagle Creek fire might be businesses that had to close or that might have had more work because their product or service was important for supporting the fire fighters or news services.  I could interview business owners and employees and maybe their customers.  Barry Hampe makes some great arguments for not relying too much on interviews, even though they are inexpensive to shoot, as they are time consuming to edit (p. 113), can be unreliable in many ways (p. 116), and can be very dull to watch (p. 119 – 120).  My B-roll would include images of the fire, and images of the fire damage to the forest and homes, images of employees working, and outside and inside images of businesses.  If a business lost so much money that the owner has had to put the business up for sale, then the “for sale” sign would help supply visual evidence.  Other forms of visual evidence might include: images of deliveries of supplies to replenish stock, fire damage to businesses (if any), and people restoring homes that have been damaged.  The author makes a great point about different approaches to showing people, “The documentarian can choose to trap them in their roles  . . . or to explore them more fully as individuals” (p. 97).  Perhaps a business owner also lives in the area and had to deal with the fire’s impact on his/her livelihood and his/her home at the same time.

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Montage Assignment

This is my submission for the montage assignment.  I would really like to have better control over editing sound clips so that I have more flexibility.  I also wish my project had more subtlety and better rhythm.  But it was fun to do and gave me some new things to think about.

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    1. No, the greetings were part of a video put together by the International Students House London ( This video had a music track in the background which I could not remove, so I kept that video as the main structure of the montage and then overlaid the programming languages on top, cutting between the two videos. I hope this was alright.

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Three video loops

This was a challenging assignment for me.  The hardest part was coming up with ideas, but I took inspiration from a couple of classmates – thank you – and I finally came up with my own examples.  It was fun after that.

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Continuity – Making Brownies

Well, I have a new appreciation for professional televised cooking programs!

Most of my frames are close ups.  I think most of them work well, in terms of showing the details of the process, but too many close ups make the overall visual aspect a bit dull.  I wish I had more long shots and medium shots to add variety.  Perhaps, this is because I was filming myself and did not use any of the shots of myself.  Some of them were out of focus, so were unusable and there was the time limit of 30 seconds for the film – how much do you really need to show to get across the point?  It just wasn’t necessary to show me putting the brownies in the oven to convey the idea that the pan of brownie batter needed to go in the oven.

Also, the focal point of several of the close ups of the bowl are off center because I did not double check the position of the bowl in front of the camera.  I could have fixed this by creating markers on the counter top with masking tape.  I could have also added variety by positioning the camera from a different angle and a different height.

To create a sense of the passing of time for the brownies to be in the oven, I used a kind of cheesy approach by showing the clock and then cutting to the brownies in the oven (with the oven door open) and then showing the clock at the ending time.  I think it works, but it is so obvious.  I wish I had thought of something more elegant.

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  1. Ruth,
    This is an effective recipe video using – discontinuous editing. Not continuity. Do you see the difference? Continuity follows movement by linking shots on moving he subject moving in and around and out of frame. Let me know if you need more clarity about this.

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Time Frames

  1.  Sci-fi example of a man standing in front of a large machine with rotating drums

2.  Man on the street, playing guitar

3.  Cafe with taxi passing by, seen as reflection on the window

I suppose comics (manga) could be made as a series of animated gifs to add another level of realism and the sense of the passing of time or a series of events.  The examples I chose might illustrate a few ways that animated gifs could do this.

The first example of a man standing in front of the rotating drums, a loop within a loop, could allow the viewer to pause in the story and think – What does the machine do? What will the man do next?  This may also add to a sense of anticipation which is a key element in entertainment.  McCloud mentions that readers of comics are trained to read from left to right and top to bottom, but he also suggests that comics could be read in a loop on page 9 (of the pdf file) or in branches of choices on page 8.

The second example of a man playing the guitar creates a different sense of time in that sound/music happens in time, although the gif doesn’t have any sound.  McCloud discusses the concept of adding sound to comics on page 95 to add a sense of time and sequence of events in comics.  Also, does the viewer add his/her own sound by creating or hearing music while viewing the gif?  If so, this adds a level of interactivity in that the viewer joins the visual artist in the creative process.

The third example of the taxi passing by the cafe I chose for several reasons:  I like the indirectness of the taxi seen as a reflection on the windows and the repetition of the taxi seems like more than one taxi which makes it seem less like a loop and more realistic.  I also like the illustration of movement across the window – the taxi moves out of the window frame, giving another sense of time in that the viewer can assume that the taxi is continuing its journey in the same direction.  McCloud traces the history of portraying motion in illustration on pages 9 – 13 and he mentions that bleeding off the page implies a kind of timelessness (page 7).  Could the taxi(s) leaving the frame (of the window) be a kind of bleeding off the page?

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Favorite Movie Scene – Framing

This is one of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite movies, Galaxy Quest.  The Thermians are an alien species who have received transmissions from earth of a fictional sci-fi television program and thought it was a “historical record”.  The Thermians hope that the actors from the television program can help them defeat their enemy, Sarris.  This scene shows the actors boarding the spaceship that the Thermians have built which is a working replica of the ship from the television program.  I love the play between fantasy and reality in this movie, and the humor is pretty good too.  The framing allows the audience to see what the actors “see” and then shows the actors’ reaction.  For example, the opening shot shows the audience the bridge, not as a stage, but as a real bridge on a real spaceship (of course, it’s not really a real spaceship because it’s just a set for a movie, but in the movie – it’s real).  The following shot allows the audience to see the actors’ faces a bit closer – it would be harder to see their reactions from the long shot. Screenshot 8 is a nice set up to screenshot 9:  if the audience just saw the extreme close up of the hands over the controls, it would not be clear whose hands they were or which controls were being accessed.  Sometimes when a character speaks to another character, the character is shown listening to the response: screenshots 2, 4, & 12 are good examples.  The framing guides the viewer’s attention to what is important in the story.  Ruth Woodcock


  1. Actors are saluted by the Thermians as they enter the bridge: Long shot

  1. The actors are stunned by the reality of their stage set: Medium long shot

  1. The Thermians invite the actors to take their positions: Long shot of Thermians, Medium long shot of Nesmith

  1. Nesmith subtly reminds the crew that this is for real: Medium shot

  1. Nesmith approaches the chair, and the rest of the crew go to their assigned seats: Long shot

  1. Tommy, the pilot, recalls that he had “worked out” the controls: Medium close up

  1. Gwen and Alexander take their seats: Medium close up

  1. Brief shot of Captain Nesmith looking at the hand controls: Medium close up

  1. The hand controls actually do something! Extreme close up

  1. The leader of the Thermian team, Mathasar, asks Nesmith a question: Medium shot

  1. Mathasar wants to know if some of the Thermian crew can be present at this “historic event”: Medium close up

  1. Captain Nesmith, “Yeah, sure”: Medium shot

  1. Mathasar, deeply moved, invites the crew to enter the bridge: Medium shot

  1. The crew members start to file in: Long shot

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What was cinema? Ruth Woodcock

  1. Some of the automatisms of today are the theatrical film, television program (documentary, news program, news story, advertisements, soap opera, sit com, “unscripted”, game show, etc.), personal videos uploaded to internet, music videos, etc. This quote really resonated with me “in mastering a tradition, one masters a range of automatisms upon which the tradition maintains itself, and in deploying them one’s work is assured a place in that tradition.”  As I’m writing this, I’m listening to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9.  In music, performers and composers perform and write music in various traditional forms, such as the symphony, and this is exactly why – because the technical aspects demonstrate one’s skill.  Also, one is expected to add something of oneself to the work and that creative element adds to the expansion of the form as a medium.
  2. Digital video that I use today are mostly television programs in dvd format that I check out from my public library. Sometimes I check out films, but not as often. I watch some television via satellite and I presume that the program and the videos they show have been recorded with digital cameras.  I also often listen to music on YouTube and I watch tutorials from various web sites.  On occasion, I have access to digital video from game cameras.
  3. I think a lot of my viewing is to obtain information/education and also for entertainment. “Wonder” – what a lovely thought.  Yes, there is a human connection in digital video – to connect with what is going on with people.  Digital video is letting us know how people are coping in Houston right now.
  4. One way that mobile devices might change the automatisms is that the viewport is so small. It may change how we prefer images to be displayed, perhaps close-ups will be more common.  How does an “epic” film translate on a small device?  Is it the same experience?  Will we prefer films that are more personal and involve people we know?

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Ruth – Hello all!

I have very little experience in producing film, but I love film and television.  I also think advertising is a very rich source of visual ideas.  I’m not a very good photographer, but I love stories and I’m excited to learn how to put together stories in a visual way.  I think this video is very interesting: because I like the idea of translating sounds of nature into music.


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