“10 Seconds” Process

As part of Dan Boyarski’s “Time, Motion, & Communication” Course, I was given a prompt to create a 10-second countdown of image and sound. He handed the class individual themes, and the one that I was given was abstract.
Final Video

08.29.16 | The Beginning

Aside from being given the prompt, I had 10 minutes to talk to my peer, Jillian Nelson, about my first ideas.

I imagined abstract at first as showing parts of the scene coming into the scene as different shapes. She compared it to a moving still life and I really liked this idea.

This is what I meant by taking up only part of the canvas.

I still needed to flesh out my ideas more before class on Wednesday.

08.30.16 | First Sketching

Following our first class where we were given our themes for the prompt, I was unsure of where to start.

However, in class that day, Dan had put a lot of words like Time and Motion and Communication on the board. He talked about the value of defining them. I thought this would be a good starting point for me as well. I looked up definitions of the word abstract.

Then, I also consulted with my peer, Raphael Weikart. He defined abstract as “taking something and breaking it into pieces.” I found that really inspiring to my project.


I’m the kind of person where I think by writing things down. So my brainstorm session following this involved writing out different ideas that came to me.

I wrote about ideas I had.

Dan doesn’t encourage looking to online sources all the time, but there is one I have that I kept thinking about.


For me, this image evoked movement and I started to think about how what if each second, residue was left behind by a movement. And these all together, formed an abstract movement collage. I could see how I could edit colors, add drawings, and I started to get really excited by this idea.

For movement, my first thought was hair flipping, probably inspired by my summer working in Procter & Gamble’s Beauty Division. But, I also like how hair can sometimes form shapes. At the same time, it is a natural movement but also one that has a lot of emotive power to it. Like people shake their head for various reasons, one being saying “no” but with their body.

Though I imagine this being continuous movement, with pauses or flashes at the second marks, I took some still images of myself whipping my hair to sketch out the idea. These are just iPhone quality so I could check if the idea would work.

Hair Flips.

From there, I played with adjustment layers as a way of abstraction.

Adjustment layers.

When overlaid at different opacities, they create abstract compositions.


A happy accident- my striped shape created some nice visual effects and distortion.

I created a quick sequence to show how the movements would work, combining normal footage with the adjustment layers.

I think this idea has merit. But, I also see potential for more abstraction. Maybe drawing, painting, or some kind of additional expressions and movement to cause a lot of visual noise and abstraction.

Some worries I have is that it might seem too grunge. But I think this may be because the adjustment layers were chosen in haste to test the idea. With more careful consideration, I can avoid this and use color more wisely.

For the sound component of this, I’m still thinking. But here are some ideas that I have:

  • whoosh of wind
  • etch a sketch
  • eraser on chalkboard
  • xylophone
  • click
  • kind of a funny one — (the noisy toys from back in the day)

^I think this one is too slow though.

Looking Ahead

I’m excited to get feedback from Dan and peers tomorrow on the idea, to see if I should continue with it, or ditch it and try something else.

08.31.16 | Reflection on Class

Today in class, we spent time looking at old film. What I enjoyed about this was that I was able to make direct connections to our readings for the summer. Since we watched some Disney videos, for example, I was able to see the Disney principles that I read about. This gave me a firmer grasp of what they are by seeing them in person.

The films were fun to watch and inspiring. Most inspiring to me was the “Len Lye” one. I loved all of the colors and shapes.

Critique on My Idea

I also got critiqued from a small group of peers and then from the whole class when I gave an elevator pitch.

Here was some feedback that resonated with me:

  • “Variations on a theme” — since it is changes, this is working well
  • Use abstract music that has many instruments going on. Jessie suggested maybe subtracting instruments or adding instruments to the sound with each second.
  • Dan also suggested staying away from too much subtlety if I do gradients of adding the color effects
  • ^Going off of this, classmates suggested making the change to the next second obvious
  • Peers noted that the abstraction is in that it doesn’t look like people anymore. I was happy to see that people got what I was trying to show.
  • And people liked my idea of making it a continuous video, versus still images.

To Do

  • Planning
  • Film on Weekend
  • Search for music
  • First Mockup by Wednesday (finals are due the Monday after)

07.07.2016 | First Video Sketch

Here is my first video sketch of my concept. The collage didn’t end of working out as well as I like, so I experimented instead with cropping.

Feedback I got from the crit was:

  • the cropping that I added is working
  • need to make it more confusing what you’re looking at until the last 3 or 4 seconds when you start to see facial features, and then my face
  • make the change every second more distinct, maybe with color and sound change. It’s all too gradual right now
  • try flipping, rotating, and cutting things. moving them around will help make it feel more abstract

09.10.16 | Sketch 2

I focused on making all of the beginning ones more abstracted so that it would be harder to tell that someone was looking at me. I also worked on making the colors look better because before they were really gross.

I haven’t played with sound yet since last time, but I will before the final critique Monday.

I have sent the video to Dan for feedback.

09.12.16 | Finished Video & Screen Captures

Final Video
Screen Captures

09.17.16 | Reflection

What Did I Learn?

In class, we talked about how when studying time and motion, you see how long or how short a second can be. It can depend on the project. When editing, there was so much movement that I wanted to put into each second! So each second felt so long to me. However, this project taught me how you can pack a great amount of meaning and content into only 10 seconds. For that reason, 10 seconds can also be a lot of time to work with.

A lot of times when doing time-based work, my real focus is on the visuals. Sound either helped mostly with timing or was an afterthought. But during this project, I learned that sound is as important as motion. I spent a lot of time finding the right sounds and music to blend. I asked different Design Majors how they edit music, and learned different techniques.

Throughout the process, I am happy that I was very open to critique. My friends were very inspiring and encouraging. It was helpful to me to work around my peers rather than isolated because of how we were able to give each other feedback as we were working.

What Was I Challenged By?

It’s hard when you have your concept all figured out… and then it doesn’t work.

I initially tried out sketches with a collage-based idea for how I would create an abstraction. Yet, when I started editing in AfterEffects, it was really hard to get it to work. And eventually, I had to let the idea go, which was really hard since then I didn’t have what I should do next planned.

However, over the summer, Dan had us read a really great paper by Brian Eno about how composers should be gardeners. Instead of planning everything out, plant a few seeds, and tend to how they grow. This was so inspiring to me, especially since my initial plan didn’t work out. I didn’t just scrap my work and start over. The initial editing was how I planted the seeds, and from there I experimented until I got my prompt of “abstract” to really show through. This was a great learning experience for me, someone who really loves having everything all planned out.

What Would I do Differently?

Throughout, I was kind of worried that the glitchy/static-y aesthetic of my piece has become a cliche. I feel like I see people do this a lot. Were I to go through this project again, I would try out different looks for the piece in order to be positive that this was the correct way to abstract the video. I like that the static and glitches takes the simple, repeated hair flip motion into an unknown space, since that is what I was trying to accomplish. But I would want to explore further ways of accomplishing this.