Script for Project 4

Hi Professor Staszel--

Here is my script for project 4. I am thinking hard about not having spoken narration, and I would also like to not that I have left a lot of room for audio silence during the graphic communication of charts, one of which will be around a minute long. I don't know if I could pull off complete silence. Do you know of any good examples with intermittent narration? I feel like it could change the tone too dramatically, which is my main concern.

I have written this script with simplicity in mind-- I learned how important it is not to get hung up on graphics during project 3, and for this project I will be making a handful of comps out of geometric shapes which will fit together (squares or diamonds or Xs) and move in certain ways, and will be using them for the majority of the piece. This will allow me to focus more on proportion and aesthetic considerations without having to create a million pic files and be in and out of photoshop and illustrator constantly. Here is the script, will do another post on the sources and audio:


You’ve probably heard news of the proposed Time Warner Cable and Comcast Merger. If you live in Pittsburgh, or one of the many internet markets dominated by either Comcast or TWC, this merger has implications that will effect not only you and your internet connection, but the accessibility of information in your wider community. I’m here to tell you the specifics, and to put this issue in the wider context of digital information politics and local practicality. We’ll start at the national level and work our way down to the local.

Here’s a map of the United States, with signifiers indicating which ISP dominates the market in that state. As you can see, Comcast is the most dominant ISP in 18 different states, and Time Warner Cable in 8. This is what the map would look like were TWC to merge with Time Warner Cable. Their total combined number of customers would be around ~70 million.

If the total number of people in the United States is 318,892,102, and if PEW research is correct in estimating that 87%, or 277,436,130 Americans use the internet regularly, we’re talking about around a quarter of the total market. To put that into perspective, currently Comcast has the most internet subscriptions nationally, followed by AT & T in second, Time Warner Cable in third, and Verizon fourth. This is what the market would look like if it were a pie chart.

As you can see, 4 companies dominate this chart. Keep in mind that this is on a national level. If the merger takes place, there will only be three competitors with a market share above x, with a clear market champion in Comcast/TWC. Is this the sort of market representation that we want in a country whose overwhelming majority makes use of the internet? One might then ask, what’s wrong with only four national competitors? This brings me to a few points about Pittsburgh as a prime example of this controversy, but first let’s look at what some people have to say about the benefits that the customer can expect to come from this merger:

Pittsburgh  has the following ISPs listed on Google: [Flash through websites with all of the available ISPs. Darken screen and highlight names while flashing statistics]
Here’s a rundown of their available speeds:
Comcast:3-105 mbps Cost:
Verizon: 25-75 mbps Cost:
Dish Network: 10 mbps, cap @ 50gigs Cost:
Cove: 56 kbps Cost:,228/Pittsburgh,-PA/

This is what the Pittsburgh pie chart would look like. Let’s compare this to the national one. As you can see, in this case, Verizon takes up a much larger share, as does Comcast. TWC is non-existent. However, Verizon and Comcast command even more of a market share here than do the averages of the top 3 dominant providers nationally. [Will replace if I can’t find statistics on Pittsburgh ISPs. If I can, and the information contradicts this, I will change it. This may be considered a stand-in], with x amount of the downtown Pittsburgh market share.

Let’s talk prices: Here are the various Comcast/Verizon/other providers in the area chart of prices per speed. To have an idea of how competitive the market is, we need to be able to estimate the cost of data production for the service providers. Here is a breakdown of how we might do that via (website):
[this will be a long explanation, perhaps as long as 1:15] Conclusion: the average ISP makes 200% profit on every gigabyte sold.

We can safely assume, then, that the price is unreasonably conflated. And, as CNet analyst Joan Solsman writes, ' It's difficult to find examples of consumer prices falling when two gigantic companies combine to an even bigger one. Typically, the elimination of competition means prices rise...’ This makes it hard to get excited about a TWC-Comcast merger, especially in light of the ongoing Net Neutrality controversy, which if strong pro-Neutrality laws are not created, it is widely feared that the internet will be controlled in a way that encourages censorship-for-profit, or throttling speeds to websites based on payment-- the analogue to the cable TV system, where those who can afford it get all of the channels, and those who cannot have the channels they are given, and then the fuzzed-out, blurry or unavailable-with-your-subscription channels. If this passes, the internet will be greatly changed, but viable competition could make it inert by offering an unbiased internet. This, however, is currently impossible due to the aforementioned monopoly-like realities of local ISP markets, and so the consolidation of these ISPs can only be counter-productive, or homogenizing. The Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger can only mean the limitation of content and perspectives we currently have equal access to, and the replacement of that content with that which is money-generative and able to spend a lot of money on visibility via the ISP.

Project 4 Proposal

I would like to do a presentation on the localized effects of the pending FCC decision on Net Neutrality laws and restrictions. What I mean by this, is that I would like to talk about the range of internet options that we have in the greater Pittsburgh area, and then talk about what sort of effects the merger could have on the trajectory of these options. The crux of the argument will be: if ISPs are allowed to give preferential treatment to different websites, they have a high degree of control over the traffic of the website/service. When we have fewer options, and particularly when those options are large companies able to affect the national market, as Comcast and Verizon do, the ISPs have an incentive to censor and give preferential treatment to the websites of their choosing.

Counterargument: Businesses should be allowed to charge what they want for their services. Disallowing non-neutral practices is an encroachment on the business' freedom. The internet is not a necessity, not a utility in the same way that electric or water is. Some websites get vastly more traffic and demand vastly more data than others-- how is it fair that they all be treated equally?


I will ground these arguments in facts and use direct quotes and reliable statistics/figures.

Project 3 After Critique

The critique went better than I expected it to, though I would say that it brought up a few critical points. I think that the composition was understood for the most part-- the basic premise was grasped, but that there were flaws in my execution. These flaws could have been mitigated in a number of ways:

-- Simpler visuals. The amount of time I put into production was a result of complicated information that I thought needed complicated visuals. This took up a lot of time and due to the nature of the many layers I was working with (using comps within comps was something I had not done before halfway through this project), the production took more time than it should have. Time would have been better spent editing the script. However, I would also like to say that I would have rather done it this way than relying more heavily on moving pictures as in project 2. I think that making things move was a big part of what was educational about this project, and I feel more adept at creative suite as a result.

-- Simpler subject matter. I was too ambitious with the subject matter, and I didn't really take into consideration the complexity of the information I would need to relate. I knew that it was complex, but I also knew that the basic premise was easy to understand: Stem cells and carbon nanotubes used together have the potential to reverse spinal paralysis. However, once I started really getting into the composition, I found that it was not so simple to convey that-- I can't just leave it at that. I have to explain. The explanation, unfortunately, raised many more questions than it answered, and so I think it's a valid criticism to say that the complexity was not handled as well as it could have been. As it is, based on the format, it was impossible to tie up loose ends (for instance, an in-depth explanation of the different types of secondary cells)


What I learned: Script and audio need to be more solidified, and there's no compromising on a storyboard. The thing that flawed the production the most was my method of creating small comps, or series of animations (though not separately-- all in one comp), and then expecting that they would fit in the way I wanted them to without exactly knowing how. I know it's obvious that that doesn't work now-- though I wouldn't say I failed in what I was trying to do-- only that it could have been better. Again, though, I am happy with what I've learned, and if nothing else, I think that I've proven a lot to myself as far as my production aptitude. Looking forward to project 4.

Project 3 Before Critique

This project has been a roller coaster ride. I'm starting to impress myself with what I'm learning in creative suite, but intelligibility in the project my still be an issue. This stems from, mostly, the dis-synchronization of the text and audio, which I was not able to perfect. I got hung up on the animations, in many cases, and the key frames. I adhered to the audio in almost all cases, but I relied upon the text for extra information and occasionally the audio and the text doesn't line up. A proficiency with illustrator would have helped. A heavier reliance on a storyboard would have helped. I felt that I could make the animations and line them up later-- this was not the best way to do it. But i've learned so much that I can't be too disappointed by what I've made, even though it is rough and is sometimes hateful to basic design principles (which I know nothing about).

Project 2 After Critique

The critique of my second project went, in my opinion, better than the first. The biggest problem was not being able to discern what exactly was trying to be related, but I don't think it would take too much alteration of the piece in order to make the idea of 'giving people that have lost limbs an increased ability to live life as though they were not disabled,' clear. Through my use of images of increasingly advanced prosthetics, I was also hoping to give an impression that, through this technology our ideas of who is disabled may be changing, as some technologies can all but completely mitigate the functional aspects of having lost a limb. I don't know if that came through or not.

I am also pleased with the class's reaction to my use of music and the masks/photoshop effects. If asked again about what I would do with the piece if I had more time, though, I wouldn't answer 'more image/picture splicing of prosthetic blueprints'. I think that I would integrate a logo in some way, even if it did require some image manipulation. If I had had the words 'limbs for life' on the composition, I think people would look at it in a different, more focused way-- as in, focused specifically on the concepts I'm trying to communicate, even if only after the composition is over. Really, I think that 'Life' would do a lot, as the abstract definition of life and the concreteness of the prosthetic limbs make the visual communication of the words lopsided.

Overall, though, I am happy with the reception of my second composition, and I am pleased with the experience I've gained working on it. Looking forward to doing some animation-- using a camera is something I've wanted to try for a long time.



Project 2 Before Critique

The main differences between this 'finished' piece and the draft submitted for an informal critique, are mostly to do with the narrative form and music. Originally I had described my piece as 'two pieces which aim to do the same thing', in one presentation. I now think that the piece is cohesive-- a sort of rough timeline of prosthetic advancements. I had trouble with the music-- originally I wanted to do a mashup of Patti Smith's 'Gloria' and Elzhi's 'That's that one', but upon putting them together, the transition was too abrupt and the general feel was off. So, I cut Patti Smith and used Elzhi's intro drum track in order to separate older, more mechanical prosthetics from the newer electronic/bionic models. I experimented with drawings and white space-- partially inspired by Zaneta's intro, and I also experimented with a simple mask on the skeleton toward the end. I believe that I was mostly successful in this project-- the only thing that I would have preferred to have been different would have been a more somber intro-- but I think that the drum track does just fine, too. It's just more energetic, I think, leading to less reflection and more of an excitement, which I don't think is incompatible with the message I set out to propagate here.

Project 1 Critique

My first project has been a mixed bag. As far as critiques go, I would characterize mine as lukewarm. I was too literal with my images and the vagueness of the emotions I tried to articulate combined with my beginner After Effects skills didn't make for great representations. My feelings on the two pieces are as follows--

1: This piece was conceived of while thinking of my nieces, who I have not seen for a while, and the various things that get on their noses-- often. Originally the piece was to have 'bee' 'bubble' and 'boogy' interchange in various ways in the sentence. After some experimentation with this, and realizing that it would not fit my (or the project requirement's) needs, I cut 'bee' and 'boogy' and stuck with bubble. I wanted the bubble to float in and land in the center. The left and right would fall down around it. I originally tried to do the math required to move each letter in unison, but soon realized that, with the number of keyframes I would need, it would be too time-consuming. There is likely a better way, which I am committed to discovering, but this time I opted instead for a simple reordering of the letters, which I reasoned would add an element of realization.

2: The main fault in this piece is its pace. One can't read the text in time. This was not due to me arbitrarily beginning the composition too soon-- originally the frames were more spaced out, but as I began developing the swiping motion, I realized that the end product would look mechanical at best if I didn't move the actions closer together in order to create a natural sort of blur. In the end I chose to do this because I felt that the message of the piece would be less communicated with the loss of the swiping motion due to too much time elapsing and not enough frames than with the speediness. However, I do not feel that the class got the 'disgust' reaction I was going for, and that may have to do with me envisioning a snot bubble instead of a soapy one.

All in all, a challenging and rewarding experience. In hopes of being more successful for this next project, I'm going to try and begin with a solid idea which will hit all of the criteria before getting into the details.

Finished First Project

I decided that the phrase I would use for this first project would be 'There's a bubble on baby's nose'. I chose the phrase thinking of my three infant nieces, who have many bubbles on their noses. 

The first piece was meant to be a floating bubble, whose letters arrange themselves after touching its place in the sentence. I discovered that figuring out how to keep each of the text layers an equal distance from one another would be too much for as many keyframes as would be needed for a synchronized floating effect. I instead opted for the letters to disorganize and reform within the sentence. I had wanted a whimsical 'Oh, look at that! How cute!' sort of feeling, but I am not sure that I was successful in that.


The second piece was supposed to reflect a fun kind of disgust, with a wiping of the nose. The action was supposed to reflect the wiping of a snot bubble from a baby's nose, and missing a spot and going back for it. I am not holding out a lot of hope that people will get that based on the final product-- I think that I was a bit ambitious and didn't consider the finesse it would take to create a competent-looking wipe-like erasure of my text in After Effects. This also resulted in the video being short. There were many frames which would have lost their effect had the video been shorter. This is due to the clunkiness of the advance of the white objects-- I used them instead of a mask, which I could not figure out how to use the first time around. My thinking was to insert enough white objects so as to make the advance of the white look the way cleaning a dirty counter would-- in order to do what I did in a reasonable amount of time, I had to speed up the action. 

I did learn a lot during this project, and am happy with the progress I've made with After Effects. There were two drafts I went through before this one and am looking forward to the next composition.

09/03/14 Assignment 1: Keyframe rough draft

Have been using Adobe After Effects in order to create moving words-- approximately 10. Originally I had thought of compiling a list of words and moving the letters of two or three of them around to create the other seven. This was problematic for a few reasons-- but also I felt that the project should have a cohesive message.

So, instead of constructing and destructing words, I decided to use the the first few lines from the Constitution's preamble and censor a few of the words in order to hit the 10 word mark, and also maybe say something about censorship of government information and the uncomfortable feeling people get when something that was once specific and taken for granted becomes open to interpretation. The fragment 'We the people, in order to form a more perfect union' is 11 words long, and so originally I put '(REDACTED)' in place of 'people' and 'union' so that the total number of words were still 11, but the total number of unique words were 10. Using parenthesis was an attempt to mimic official documentation with redaction.

I decided against this approach after reflecting that it was probably too heavy-handed for this assignment-- not in good taste to try and say something political with 10 words and two weeks with a new medium. Also, though, I ran into some trouble animating what I though would be one of two key movements of the animation. I had wanted the phrase to appear letter-by-letter, and I wanted 'p' and 'e' to be type, and then move as if flicked off of the screen and replaced by '(REDACTED)', so as to take away any ambiguity and also create movement. I was not, however, able to tilt the letters without making them permanent effects on the visual 'track', and thus unable to move those letters and replace them meaningfully.

Finally, I wrote down a sentence I'd heard my grandma say, or I alluded to a sentence I'd heard my grandma say, and then made believe that they were the tagline to what would be a really atrocious Adam Sandler movie. I made the words move in a simple way, sliding together in a way I imagined a rom-com would look. I didn't want to use quotes or try to pack a lot of meaning into the words, and also because it fits roughly into my ultimate goal of creating narrative. The only thing that I'm really self-conscious about is the word count-- it's over by at least 3. However, I thought that in order to present a somewhat complete idea, it would be necessary.