Public Information Film Project: Persuasive Narratives (part 2)

Continuing with a bit of research then some experiments. As my practice which involves persuasive narratives in technology, here I’m documenting, though very briefly, issues related to violent narratives in video games.

Many of the public information films I watched on the telly in the 1970s and 80s were generally aimed at children, raising awareness to ‘outdoor’ dangers such as playing near ditches, building sites, railway lines and talking to strangers etc. However, in the past 20 years, due to the social platforms we use, the dangers are now  ‘indoor’ activities- playing video games or ‘gaming’ as it’s commonly referred, being one example. As this issue is extremely broad, I’ve picked out an argument for and one against. Steven Johnson’s book, Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today’s Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter, is on my to read list.

Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today’s Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter- Steven Johnson.

Published in 2005, it is based upon Johnson’s theory that popular culture – in particular television programs and video games – has grown more complex and demanding over time and is making society as a whole more intelligent. The book’s claims, especially related to the proposed benefits of television, drew media attention.[1] It received mixed critical reviews.

Johnson states that he aims to persuade readers of “two things:

  1. ‘By almost all the standards we use to measure reading’s cognitive benefits — attention, memory, following threads, and so on — the non-literary popular culture has been steadily growing more challenging over the past thirty years’
  2. ‘Increasingly, the non-literary popular culture is honing differentmental skills that are just as important as the ones exercised by reading books’


From Wikipedia- Video game-related health problems  

‘Console game-related health problems can induce repetitive strain injuries, skin disorders or other health issues. Other problems include video game-provoked seizures in patients with epilepsy’

Research has found that kids who spend too much time playing video games may have more trouble paying attention in school. Researchers found that children who had more than two hours of game time per day were twice as likely to have trouble paying attention.

Video games have also been linked in some studies to aggressive behavior and violence or fearful behavior by its players in the short term although other studies have not supported this link.

Physical signs linked to excessive video game playing include black rings in the skin under the eyes and muscular stiffness in the shoulders, possibly caused by a tense posture or sleep deprivation.

Existing literature on gaming is inconsistent, and studies occasionally produce contradictory results. Some studies show strong correlations between gaming and psychological issues like increased aggression in males, and increased depression in females. Whilst another study claims that girls who gamed were less likely to experience depression but were more likely to get into fights.


Watching my son and daughter playing on their Xbox with their virtual friends sparked my attention. At around 6:00 p.m. , the lounge becomes an amusement arcade. In this instance, it is a constant noise of gunfire, you know, the sounds you hear when a BBC war journalist is reporting news from Baghdad. As they’re engaged in battle, I’m allowed to shoot some of the coverage.


Sound: The original sound is stripped and replaced with some ordinary battle sound bites from freesound. org

Footage: Not done a great deal, just slowed down footage after a killing incident. The graphics display, wording such as WASTED, pulverised you or shotgunned you.




Ended the sequence with the credit Killing for Fun? Not really any impact visually.




Switched to widescreen and lightened the footage exposing more graphical elements. Added more titling with overlays  in heavy block impact font.



Blank screen with audio merging to visuals. Visuals cut to 15 seconds




More emphasis on sound and negative space as opposed to visuals and blending sound/visuals. The cuts being sharper with the intention that the persuasive message is now more succinct.





Public Information Film Project: Persuasive Narratives (part 1)

Public Information Film Experiments

Back to work on the blog and hopefully I can kick-start some momentum again now that all the mayhem has quietened down over here.  Yesterday was spent looking back at clips of footage I had taken over the past six months. I came across this rat trap clip which was meant for an    Objects of Disobedience   post but decided I could make better use of it which would be relative to my project. Off we go.

The process:

1/ Video clip (unedited) filmed with a Pentax Q7 . I’ve not done much in the way of filming with this camera and was impressed with the high grain resolution.

2/ The video clip after experimenting with film speeds, notably the trap ‘snap’. Windows Live Movie Maker is better than I thought

3/ I thought about doing something fancy with the footage. Even though I quite like the  harsh minimal edge detector effect, it radically affects the persuasive message I’m trying to convey.

4/ The audio: This smashed glass soundbite was taken from then amplified in Audacity. I was pleased with the result.

5/ The narration is provided by me, “Are you aware of your child’s online activity?” (I couldn’t think of anything else at the time!) Anyway, again edited in Audacity (merged, reversed and echoed). No, doesn’t work. If fact, a narration isn’t needed, in my view.

6/ The final edit. Yes/No? It looks a bit 70s retro

Overall, I’m looking for an end product which is succinct and minimal, a bit like the persuasive narratives in  Broken Glass (1973)  I’m far from that yet but this experiment has been worthwhile.

Public Information Film Project: Sequence No 11

I haven’t been writing about my practice for a while now. It’s not that I’m procrastinating or anything, far from it, it’s just that I don’t want to bore myself with the project. It’s easy to do that when you’re working on one thing and you’re in your own little world most of the time. You know what I mean? I’m at that stage where I’ve just completed all the drawings and I’m trying to plan the following: script a narration, edit the sequences and the create the audio. On top of that, after adding all the aforementioned technicalities, I hope to stimulate awareness, create fear and persuade all at the same time. What a challenge! Had I not decided to take a year out, the situation would be erm…well, just get something framed for the graduate exhibition and reflect on what might have been.  I hope that will not be the case.

To get a second opinion on things, recently, I went to see a friend who is currently working on a documentary based on an incident in World War II in Tokyo. His previous project was Lessons from the Night (2009) . It was a well-spent two hours. His comments and challenging questions were of great benefit for me. As a result, I felt much more inspired. It’s important to hear others’ views. When showing your work, the audience is viewing an unfamiliar journey, a journey that is all too familiar for yourself. He was able to ‘‘see’ what is difficult for me to ‘see’. As his film making expertise is predominantly in editing footage, I got a few useful pointers. In his opinion, areas of the animation seemed flat. The viewing dynamic could be tweaked. Using Adobe Premier, I could consider panning the visuals or homing into areas for effect. All considerations taken on board


In earlier sequences, to increase movement within sequences that I considered too static, I added pattern to the hair. Something child-like that could work with the narrative. The pattern creates a bubbly effect as a consequence. I feel it doesn’t interfere and detract the sequence too much and comments have been generally positive.(famous last words!)




Sequence 11 Gif












Public Information Film Project: Sequences Nos 6 & 7

Using the Weaver effect in Sequence 5 gave me more ideas and I was very encouraged to be more audacious with my approach. While considering designs for Sequence six, I thought about having multiple frames in various colours which would visually boost the rotating pencil movement. I experimented with a Pop Art effect and this is what came out in the wash. The multiple frames inspired me to do similar in Sequence 7. However, I’m unsure about adding the Peeling Paint effect, looks a bit muddy compared to other sequences. I may tweak that sequence at a later date. Presently, I’m well-into the drawing stage of Sequence 8. Also, I’ve began making narration notes this past week so I’ve been just loosely framing the social commentary.


19015 Frame 190

Unedited & Edited: Resize,Weaver (normal), Pop Art (i) Dots size 10 (ii) Images x3, Focal Zoom (darken x2) 



Unedited Frame 223Edited Frame 223

Unedited   & Edited: Resize,Weaver hardlight, (i)size boost, (i) shadow(multiply),Peel Paint, Focal Zoom, Rainbow 



Public Information Film Sequences 5-7

Each sequence is looped x 2



Public Information Film Project: Sequences Nos 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5

As I’m about half way with the drawings of my current project, I thought it would be a good idea to keep track of the effects which are used when rendering each drawing. This is an area I neglected in my last project which created problems. As you can see, there are subtle differences in each sequence. However, if you compare these drawings  to the last animation (Alienation & Conformity), I’m being a bit more conservative in my approach when editing the drawings. Preferably , I’d like more continuity as the context will focus predominantly on the message as opposed to the visuals. That’s not to say I don’t want the visuals to stand out, just not to become too much of a distraction. Don’t worry, this post will all make sense eventually!


Frame 11 Frame 1

Unedited     Edited: resize (width: 5296 height: 2979),focal zoom,                                                                  texture(materials)



Frame 47    Frame 47.jpg      Unedited                                                  Edited: resize, focal zoom, texture(fabrics)



711 Frame 71

Unedited                                           Edited: resize,focal zoom, posterize, rainbow



97 1 Frame 97

Unedited                                             Edited: resize, focal zoom, posterize, rainbow



1211 Frame 121

Unedited                          Edited: resize, weaver(hardlight), focal zoom, rainbow

Below are sequences 1-4. Each sequence has been played 2/3 in succession which gives me some idea whether or not I will loop particular sequences







Helping Johnny Remember

Since researching public information films for my practice and Research Paper, I’ve tried to find artists that have used public information films in their practice. Apart from a few Dark and Lonely Water remixes on Youtube, I’ve not had much success. However, a heads-up from a good friend last week led me to an American artist from Brooklyn, Ashleigh Nankivell.  Her 2010 project involved manipulating an original American PSA (Public Service Announcement) from 1956, titled Helping Johnny Remember. The film is about a young boy who is rejected by the other children for being uncooperative and selfish. Nankivell’s process involved reanimating and remixing using Adobe After Effects CS4. The aptly soundtrack comes from Good Old Neon’s haunting/hypnotic One Never Says ‘Verbal’ When One Means ‘Oral’  Very creative, even if using original footage and soundtrack!

Helping Johnny Remember- Ashleigh  Nankivell 

The Drawing Process

The footage has been edited and assembled into the software. I begin the usual systematic approach in the process. First, by looking at areas of footage which are clearly visible and areas which are not. When footage is difficult to render, a great deal of improvisation is involved in this process. Usually facial areas offer the most problems such as eyelashes, corners of lips and hair curls.  This is where line thickness is a big consideration.  For the aforementioned intricate areas, the footage is enlarged, this gives me greater control when rendering . For this animation I’m taking each sequence in stages. The first sequence involves 46 drawings. Frames 1 and 47 has been rendered and then textured. In my last animation, I textured the whole animation after completing the drawings (337). I’m hoping by using this approach, I can make better choices during the drawing process.

Public Information Film Project: Frames 1 & 47 (non-textured/textured)  

Public Information Film Project (frame 1)Public Information Film Project (frame 1).jpg


Public Information Film Project (frame 47)Public Information Film Project (frame 47).jpg

Public Information Film Project: Storyboarding

Last weekend filming commenced on the public information film project. Moe, my daughter, will play quite a central part in the project. However, she was reluctant to be filmed. “My face is too spotty and it will not look cool” she said. So, after a little gentle persuasion (i.e. I’ll buy you that stylish, expensive top (£2.80) from Primark), filming got under away.

The theme of the information film is undecided at the time of writing though it will involve an everyday issue children/people face today such as bullying on the Internet. I intend to make the film more of a sound piece, the narrative being conveyed through the audio. I began by storyboarding the scene. Moe would be sitting at the dining table doing her homework. Like most children, when doing their homework, their mood is suggested in their actions.  I thought about the Britney Spear’s video, Baby One More Time (1998). A schoolgirl waiting for the classroom bell to relieve her boredom. The scene begins with action and sound; the shoe kicking against the side of the chair and the flickering pencil on the textbook. I’ve used the latter example in similar way. I considered other ways of ‘performing’ -balancing a pencil between top lip and nose, looking up and thinking, staring into the camera, looking down hand on brow in deep concentration, arms raised triumphantly etc.  Colour was an important consideration too. I wanted something that would predominate the visuals. I opted for a cold yet refreshing blue. Moe’s Italia 82 football top seemed the obvious choice. Now to the task of editing the footage in some sort of coherent order though I need to consider ‘how’ coherent.

Britney Spears, ‘Baby One More Time’ (1998) 

Britney Spears

Public Information Film Project