Tag Archives: art

The Productive Scholar: Barbara McLaughlin on video editing and clipping.

Powerpoint slidedeck: 20120412_mclaughlin
In this session on editing and clipping video files, Princeton’s Barbara McLaughlin showed the audience a few options. She discussed the powerful but relatively expensive Final Cut, iMovie, iSkySoft, PowerPoint, and other products. She led a discussion on issues of legality, ease of use, and the differences in codecs (audio video coders and decoders for use in working with video and audio). She gave demonstrations of each tool where appropriate. Watch the video now to learn about how you can begin to use clipping and editing tools to make the perfect bit of video to illustrate a point.
Thursday, April 12, 12:00 noon
Frist Multipurpose Room A
Video Editing Tools and Creating Video Clips
Barbara McLaughlin
Video can be used to provide examples of a specific subject being taught or to make a presentation more interesting. Have you ever wanted to insert a video clip into a PowerPoint presentation but you were not sure how to do it?  Did you ever want to show just a short segment of a video in class and not the entire movie? Creating clips allows instructors to locate and present short, targeted clips of several minutes in length enabling the instructor to go directly to the main point of the film they want to discuss.  Creating and inserting video clips is easy to do, but there are some important points and options that must be considered.
I will be discussing the tools needed to create and import video clips into a presentation, what file formats PowerPoint will accept and how to create video clips for showing in class.
Instructors who incorporate video in their course material report that their students retain more information, understand concepts more rapidly and are more enthusiastic about what they are learning.  With the use of video, students often make new connections between curriculum topics and discover links between these topics and the world outside the classroom.
About the speaker:
Barbara McLaughlin is a Digital and Technical Support Specialist for the ETC Humanities Resource Center.   She works extensively with digitizing audio and video and in the past 10 years has digitized over 6,000 films for the Video on Demand service at Princeton.   Barbara works with faculty to assist them in incorporating video into their course material.   She is also member of the SCAD computing organization on campus and supports the computers throughout the HRC lab and classroom.
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Lunch & Learn: Databases to Play and Watch: Exploring the Princeton University Library’s Streaming Audio and Visual E-Resources presented by Darwin Scott

Darwin’s Powerpoint: 201111_scott_streaming

Following up on a brief Lunch ‘n Learn presentation last December, Darwin Scott will devote a full session to the ins and outs of key proprietary streaming audio and visual electronic resources provided to the Princeton community by the University Library.  Learn some tips ‘n tricks on how to search these resources, make play lists and send streaming files to mobile devices, explore added text features, and much more. As in all things electronic these days, a lot has changed in a year!

Speaker bio:

Darwin Scott is the Music Librarian at Princeton’s Arthur Mendel Music Library and is the subject liaison for the Music Department and the programs in dance and theater at the Lewis Center for the Arts. He holds a Ph.D. in musicology (specializing in medieval music) and an MLS from UCLA, where he worked in the music library for 16 years. He headed east in 1995 as the Creative Arts Librarian at Brandeis University (west of Boston) and grew into a thoroughly transplanted Yankee, fully functional with snow, New England driving, and dropped r’s by the time he came to Princeton in April 2009. Darwin is an active member of the American Musicological Society (with wide interests in music), and back in the days when he had time to practice, was a competent oboe and recorder player.

Lunch & Learn: Arts libraries on the edge with Darwin Scott, Sandy Brooke and Hannah Bennett


Decode2009.jpg Where do I shelve that? Photo of Decode, a digital art installation at the V&A, London, December 13th, 2009. Photo courtesy of Rain Rabbit, Flickr. CC license, 2009.

Note: to access resources cited in this blog post, you must either be on a machine on the Princeton University network, or have a VPN or proxy server running on your machine. For instructions on how to set up a VPN or proxy server connection, click here.

“These are exhilarating times to be arts librarians,” said Darwin Scott, librarian of the Mendel Music Library at Princeton. Today’s Lunch ‘n Learn session explored just how exhilarating – and challenging– it is to deal with new modes of delivering various media to library patrons, when the media exists outside the traditional collection of books, manuscripts, disks, drawings and other tangible assets one usually thinks of as library holdings. The presenters represented the three main arts repositories at Princeton; Darwin Scott was joined by librarians Sandy Brooke (Marquand Library of Art and Archeology) and Hannah Bennett (Architecture Library), to discuss their respective collections.

Sandy Brooke began the session by describing the tension between a library’s mission to collect, provide access, and preserve for the future, in an age where digital media seems to be increasingly difficult to quantify in terms of ownership, shared access, and sustainability. “Old literature is good literature for art historians,” Brooke said, explaining that scholars rely upon important documents from past centuries. Marquand’s holdings are still largely print-based, she noted, however, there is an increasing number of digital versions of both text- and image-based references. Art has traditionally been studied through surrogates, whether photographs, drawings or descriptions of works that are either housed in remote places, or may no longer survive.

A new form of art–that which is born digital–presents certain challenges to those who would study it, because the delivery medium is no longer a surrogate for the work, but may be the work itself. Digital art is often recorded on perishable media, the formats of which can migrate to incompatible formats in a fairly short period of time. It might be posted directly to the web, and lost when its link later disappears. The work itself might be a record of an ephemeral event that is almost impossible to capture in its entirety. When offered for distribution by a vendor or dealer, its licensing terms can be extremely limiting and restrictive with regard to how the work can be later viewed, shared, or migrated to more stable digital formats.

Such licensing terms, Brooke noted, are much more restrictive than the terms of fair-use usually applied to educational use of copyrighted materials. Many digital objects handled by dealers and vendors are delivered with the idea of restricting access to them, thus creating an artificial scarcity. Ensuring future access to this media that comprises an original work is uncertain, since access is often provided via an online resource with a fee-based delivery method. If the online resource were to go out of business, its digital content might well be lost.

As an example, Brooke showed an installation by Swiss video artist, Pipilotti Rist (1962 – ). Brooke cited Rist’s  Pour Your Body Out (7354 Cubic Meters), an award-winning 2008 installation at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, as a problematic example for scholarship. What resources would a researcher today have to study this recent work of art, since it is no longer viewable at the museum?

Brooke showed several still photos of Rist’s work found in ArtSTOR, an online database for the study of art history, but found no images of the 2008 MoMA installation. The artist’s own website contains links to her gallery and some visual references to other video projects, but not the MoMA installation. The MoMA website has some valuable documentary video footage about Rist’s installation, but there is no video that presents a complete idea of what it was like to experience the complete work in situ. A YouTube search offers the MoMA videos again, along with two amateur videos made by people who attended the exhibit while it was at the MoMA; one of these videos, obviously shot with a cell phone, is enhanced by a sound loop provided by the amateur videographer–however it is music composed by the phone’s owner that has nothing to do with the original installation. Since Rist’s works tend to deal in dreamlike, distorted imagery, it’s almost impossible to tell whether the distortions seen in the YouTube clips were intended by the artist, or simply a result of a highly-compressed, low quality copy of the original work. Authorized digital copies of such ephemeral works are typically priced at hundreds of dollars apiece, so collecting them on any scale is beyond the financial resources of most repositories; trying to capture something tangible and complete about such works, as Brooke demonstrated in the searches described above, is no easy matter.

For the moment, Brooke concluded, the sustainability of this kind of digital art is uncertain; questions of rights, of access, of preservation are only partially answered by current means of distribution. Guerilla websites such as ubu.com, a web-based educational resource that operates on a gift economy, posts avant-garde works under an assumption of fair use. Ubu.com was created in protest to the marginal distribution of these elusive works, but the fact that the site sometimes knowingly violates copyright in posting links makes their sustainability tenuous, at best. Many of the sound and video works on the site are represented by highly compressed video and audio files introducing uncertainty as to their accuracy; as with the YouTube video of Pipilotti Rist’s video installation, it’s impossible to say whether the files represent the artist’s vision–or the technological limitations of a bad digital copy. More sustainable solutions may be in the future, however. Brooke mentioned the Electronic Arts Intermix site, a not-for-profit venture that is trying to preserve digital art for cultural repositories such as libraries and museums. An educational streaming solution to providing high-quality copies of video art for art libraries is one licensing model being considered by this organization, which has preservation and sustainable access to video art as its two chief missions.

Architecture librarian, Hannah Bennett, next described some of the unusual challenges faced by those wanting to preserve records of contemporary architectural works. Long gone are the days of architectural drawings being produced i
n drafting rooms, with paper being the medium that recorded a building’s design from first inspiration to the delivery of final plans to builders. Digital rendering of architecture is now the standard method for design, a method that creates a dense stream of information that originates from architectural offices, and eventually results in documents that builders can work with to construct the building. In fact, the transmission of architectural information from architect to builder these days is commonly referred to as BIM – building information management–where the information critical to making the building is captured, but certain aspects of the design process might not be preserved. This partial capture of data creates a new level of complexity for those who would like to study the entire history of an architectural work.

Most information that is ultimately transferred to builders, Bennett explained, is taken by sampling from the complex array of digital data that is generated in the design process. As illustrated, Bennett showed several examples of architectural renderings, including some of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao by architect Frank Gehry. Gehry, in common with other architects currently in practice (including many of Princeton’s faculty members in the School of Architecture), developed a pioneering proprietary software program, CATIA, to realize his particular design methods. Other firms have since developed their own software unique to that particular architectural office or project..

Bennett showed some examples of design sketches made by Princeton faculty member, Axel Kilian, and demonstrated the CADenary software that Killian developed for his own design practice. These tools allow for amazing flexibility in terms of drafting complex shapes, but their uniqueness means that it may be a challenge to read the files they produce in the future. Bennett commented on this reliance on technology, saying that “design language has now become internal to tools, rather than to the form.” As enriching as a complex design such as Bilbao is to architecture, preserving the output of many different proprietary software packages presents a set of preservation challenges for custodians of architectural history.

Bennett enumerated the queries posed by these new design tools. “How will they maintain technical currency?” she asked. “How will we archive them?” And, ultimately, “how will we present them to the future scholar?” Bennett concluded her portion of the talk by showing some hanging loops of chain used by Spanish architect Antonio Gaudi (1852-1926) to explore the catenary curves he often used in his architecture – in a photograph someone just happened to take of that experiment. “Older material can be equally valuable” Bennett said, citing this early architecture experiment exploring forms that are very hard to draw using traditional drafting tools. Today’s computer-generated architectural designs present a myriad of such capture-able design moments – and librarians need to find a way to preserve them for future scholars.

Darwin Scott, librarian at Mendel Music Library, concluded the Lunch ‘n Learn by discussing various online databases used to present digital copies of music and the performing arts. Scott mentioned that rights management is a major consideration in this area as well as in other forms of the arts, even though the resources for presenting them via subscribed services are more numerous.

Rights issues, particularly in the case of theatrical works, become more and more complex as more people (and their intellectual property) become involved in a production. “Most recordings of Broadway shows are illegal,” Scott noted. Older forms of media that preserved works such as concerts, or plays were “collectable objects.” Tapes, disks, LPs and other media at least provided one way that an event could be captured and preserved–and purchased to form part of a collection. By contrast, streaming libraries of musical and dramatic performances provide subscribers with thousands of recordings for an annual fee, but this model provides an interesting challenge for a library collection, since the library does not in fact “own” the content to which it subscribes. This raises important questions about sustainability and preservation.

Several vendors of streaming services promise that they will provide a form of perpetual access to the material in their library to subscribers in the event they go out of business. This usually means that data files will be available in some form for bulk download, but perhaps not with a sustainable model to preserve the user interface that makes it possible to use them. Scott mentioned some commercial streaming services that are available to retail consumers. Until recently, institutional clients had been shut out of the distribution model for these popular services. However, some distributors are now bridging the gap by providing high-quality streaming subscriptions for libraries and other cultural institutions. Scott demonstrated a few of these services, using the Quick Links section of the Mendel Music Library’s home page, and Scott’s own Lib Guide list of links to music and performing arts resources.

The Naxos Music Library, various collections from the Alexander Street Press, and DRAM (The Database of Recorded American Music) were among the collections that Scott featured in his presentation. Naxos, a respected record label, offers a large collection of musical recordings of various genres, including classical, jazz, folk, blues and world music; DRAM also offers streaming music; here, the focus is on American composers and performers. The Alexander Street Press offers a wide variety of sound and video offerings, including Opera in Video, Dance in Video, and Theater in Video. The videos offered from the Alexander Street Press not only will play on your computer, but are captured in a high enough resolution to project on a larger screen. A new service from Alexander Street even allows you to stream some of this content of these collections to your compatible mobile device (currently supported are iPhones on a 3G network or better, and devices running the Android OS) by using a link, a text message containing the link, or a QR reader on the device. These links stay current for 48 hours, allowing plenty of time to enjoy the content. Recent enhancements to the library’s online catalog also allow direct links to many of these digital assets via searches done in Princeton Library catalog.

sendtomobile.JPG Got a QR reader? Get ballet! A screen shot of the ballet Sleeping Beauty, showing the interface to mobile devicesThe video content in the Alexander Street databases come from various sources. For the Theater in Video collection, many of the videos are drawn from performances intended for broadcast television, Scott noted. TV content also accounts for much of the Dance in Video collection, whereas the Opera in Video collection has more access to commercial releases. The quality and range of the works offered are sometimes not ideal, although in some cases, they record spectacular performances. Each vendor also uses their own proprietary user interface – there is no standardization–so it can take some time to familiarize one’s self with each interface in order to get the best results. Links to the resources mentioned in this post–and many more–as well as tips to help users navigate and search these online repositories can be found in this PowerPoint presentation, which Scott prepared for Lunch ‘n Learn attendees.

The session concluded with Darwin Scott’s summation about it being an exciting time to be an arts librarian; the challenges presented by the diversity and volume of new media types also make this a wonderful time to be a subscriber to many online resources that make it possible to experience art, architecture and the performing arts in increasingly accessible ways. The fact that old media has little in common with new forms of delivery presents challenges for librarians and for patron access, but as sources for these materials become increasingly more numerous and more diverse the end user and the scholar can only benefit–and enjoy.

Got bandwidth? Welcome to live performances on a device near you!

Lunch & Learn: Video Journey: Past, Present, Future

Final Cut Pro

Final Cut Pro (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In its youth, which seems only now to be ending, film-making and film-editing required an immense amount of expensive and specialized hardware and a hefty range of fine technical skills. Today, suggested Dave Hopkins and Jim Grassi at the October 27 Lunch ‘n Learn, even teenagers with affordable hand-held devices can shoot, edit, and even distribute films for the mass market.

Be sure to run through their slides which contain a range of clips that tell the story through film. There you can watch Francis Ford Coppola predicting in the 1970s that children would someday be able to make movies of quality. There too you can watch Gus van Sant, a master film editor splicing tapes. Imagine the cumbersome task, when every scene and every noise involves a separate reel of 35 mm film stock. There are still editors who persist with such handiwork, manipulating bins of reels, but the immense power of new software, notably Final Cut Pro, has compelled most filmmakers to make the transition to digital. Films are now shot, edited, and delivered digitally. The films never touch tape.

And watch the simple film made by a father of his young son after a trip to the Dentist. Meant to be shared with grandparents and close friends, 70 million through YouTube have now viewed the amusing clip. An 8th grader named Brook Peters made a documentary about 9/11 that was so good that it is up for consideration at Tribecca. The point is, of course, that anyone with a camera, an idea, and some talent can now reach a very large audience. The barriers to entry have been drastically reduced.

Such technologies always trickle downward, suggests Hopkins. Quality no longer costs $15K. He showed a remarkable piece of footage taken with an iPhone. Without having to rely on tape, there’s also an immediacy with the film. There’s no longer a need to wait for post-production. Efforts, good and bad, can be sent instantly to YouTube.

New light panels are not only less expensive, he adds, but they also do not overheat and no filters are required for indoor shots.

Expect to see more use of the smaller technologies. The final episode of House this season was filmed on a very small camera, making possible footage in very closed spaces.

Hopkins and Grassi suggest that, as a result of the new technologies, a new breed of producer has evolved, a videographer “preditor,” a one-person film shoot, from idea, to the writing, the shooting, the editing, and even the distribution.

Software certainly plays an important role in making the technology so accessible. With Apple iLife, users can easily locate related clips and produce compelling movie trailers.

In the future, they suggest that we can look forward to better compression to compensate for larger hard drives, more video on walls, sidewalks, streets, and 4-D TVs that will fill all the senses.

View the presentation: direct-download video (.mp4), streaming video (Flash)
An audio podcast of the presentation is also available.

SmARThistory.org: Free Online Multi-media Web-book


“smARThistory.org is a free multi-media web-book designed as a dynamic
enhancement (or even substitute) for the traditional and static art
history textbook. Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker began
smARThistory in 2005 by creating a blog
featuring free audio guides in the form of podcasts for use in The
Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Soon after, we
embedded the audio files in our online survey courses. The response
from our students was so positive that we decided to create a
multi-media survey of art history web-book. We created audios and
videos about works of art found in standard art history survey texts,
organized the files stylistically and chronologically, and added text
and still images.”

What I really like about this site is that you can contact the creators to contribute to the site, by images of works or museums loaded on flickr or working with them to create audio and video files of works of art similar to what’s on the website. It’s a great way to engage students about art from different time periods, styles, and countries. To find out more, click on the link below: