Visualising Cork

Cloudy sunset over a small bay in County Cork, Ireland. Colours are primarily blue, with a hint of pink.

A class this semester, titled History and Theory of Digital Art, challenged us to post: 1) past examples of digital art created by us, the members of the class, and 2) create something new, which was somehow inspired or influenced by posts from said class members. We were also cautioned not to spend too much time on it. Of course, as per usual, I threw caution to the wind and wasted far too much time on the tech side of things.

I ended up with a passably inoffensive video collage of photos taken over the last few years around County Cork. My grand vision originally included an animated map of the area, with each location marked, lovely zooming effects and transitions, as well as a representative piece of artwork for each spot. I had hoped to use some of the work by my classmate Alan, as he posted some interesting bits in painterly style. Since I tend to walk and dream with soundtracks forever playing, I was also inspired by some of the music composed by another classmate, Aengus.

Alas for me, the free video editing software available to Windows users continues to be sub-par and frustrating. Indeed, with Windows 8, Microsoft took a considerable step backwards in usability and eliminated the timeline feature. How, then, to quickly and simply edit transitions to match with music?

I searched for other free and open source software on Google and CNET. Found one with decent reviews and a number of features I was seeking, but the installer package was loaded with spyware, so it was a no-go. Circled back around to Sourceforge.net to see if Jahshaka was still kicking around. It was, but was as buggy and user-unfriendly as ever. Finally gave into the inevitability of Windows Movie Maker, but still rebelled against the latest, crippled version. I dug out an old laptop with Windows Vista, which meant Movie Maker 6.0 – timeline option still intact.

Timeline is good, but the program is still tremendously limited. There is no ability to pin clips to a timeline, so anything trimmed or stretched upstream (early in the video), affects everything downstream (later in the video). Not to mention, the tired processing power of my 8 year old computer sometimes chugged along like the little engine that couldn’t, and pacing was… flexible. Some playthroughs would have the images lining up exactly in the right spot, others – with no changes made – would have a slight bit of delay. As I had already well exceeded the recommended time for fiddling with setup and execution, I decided to let my perfectionist tendencies go and just be content with what I had.

Stone circle on the Beara Peninsula in County Cork, Ireland

I chose to primarily use my own photos because I’m proud of them and had a good time taking them. I do wish I’d had time to sort through more collections and include more variety. If I do this again, I think I will not limit it to Co. Cork. As beautiful as Cork is – and it IS – the rest of Ireland also has quite a lot of beauty to offer.

While I had originally planned to include some of Alan’s more artsy endeavours, I ended up only using two of his photo collages. I thought the one that included the words “Cork City” might be a good opener, but soon realised it might lead the viewer to think all photos had been taken within the city. Instead, I used it at the end, as if the viewer had been on a long road trip around the county, only to return safely and cosily home at the end of the day.

Photo collage of a small mural from Bishop Lucey Park in Cork City, Ireland.

Aengus’s music piece suited and set the mood, with a contemplative tone and variable tempos. The slow opening is great for an introduction to meditative visuals that let the viewer know the plan is to engage with some of the natural wonders of the area. The later playfulness led me to place photos of water elements, sheep, and flowers in respective groups and – relative to the rest of the piece – rapid fire transitions.

Would I do things differently had I more time and better technology? Absolutely. Still, it was good practice and good fun. I hope you enjoy the pretty pictures.

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