Place ++ – What is not here anymore?…

BRIEF: Make a local guide that can be used on mobile media that explores spaces through the senses.

  • In groups of 2 explore a location on campus you have not been to before.
  • Using your question to aid you, collect information about that area.
  • Think about how you could expand on the place, what could you add that highlights the architecture or feeling you get by being there.
  • Make a film that will help other people see what you see. you can add some detail to this in After Effects.

Inspiration and Ideas:

For this prototype, I was heavily inspired by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller’s 2012 ‘Alter Bahnhof Video Walk’ (see above), I also took inspiration from the National Library of Scotland’s Georeferenced Map Spy viewer, which is an interactive website that enables you to explore historic maps overlayed directly over a Bing Hybrid map with a spyglass circle. The website actually influenced my choice of question which was, ‘What is not here anymore?’ because I thought the National Library of Scotland’s website could really help me with this project, as it could quite literally show me what is no longer here anymore and what used to be here as a direct visual overlay above Frenchay campus. What I found using the map overlay tool on the website (see below), was that during the period of 1841-1952 the University of the West of England’s Frenchay campus was just fields and farmland. This seemed like a stark contrast between the Frenchay campus we see today, a built-up, modern, mechanised ecosystem of student life, it could be argued that it is the complete antithesis of open fields and farmland. The current environment is heavily developed and industrialised since the early 1950’s, and I wanted my Place ++ prototype to reflect this change.


Screen-Shot-2018-02-16-at-21.28.22place_blog_imageI started the process by thinking about how I could accentuate the contrast between what is no longer here and Frenchay campus, part of the brief was to visit somewhere on campus that I had never been to before. I found an area hidden away around the corner from the Students Union, it was a car park for the chancellor’s office, next to the carpark there was an old wall with an archway and an old wooden door in it. I thought that the archway around the wooden door would be a perfect gateway to display my clip of the past. I found the clip below on YouTube (see below), shot in 1938 it fits within the date of the map I found on the National Library of Scotland’s website. It shows a farmer ploughing a field using a horse-drawn plough, the very same machinery that presumably would have been used to plough the fields on which Frenchay campus now stands. I wanted to attempt to superimpose the video of the farmer ploughing the field behind the wall as if it were taking place through the archway like it was a portal to the past.

To do this I started by shooting a first-person video on my iPhone at my chosen location. I then imported the footage into After Effects. I used the animation tracking in Mocha AE and the create bezier layer tool to cut around the doorway and then exported the motion tracking data produced by Mocha AE back into After Effects and assigned that data to a null object. Then I used the Pick Whip tool to attach the null object to the 1938 clip of the farmer ploughing and masked the clip to the archway, so it looked like you were looking through the archway at the scene from the video clip. I accentuate this, I also put the clip on a 3D plane behind the wall so it created the illusion it was in the distance.

Screen Shot 2018-02-16 at 17.02.11

To finish I added audio, specifically the sound of a horse-drawn plough, I found the sound on, I added the sound bed to the project and applied an exponential fade in, so that the audio slowly increased in volume as the participant of the experience walked closer towards the archway at the end of the video. The aim of this being to heighten the level of immersion for the user, and to add a sense of intrigue because you can hear the sound of the horse-drawn plough before you see the video superimposed in the archway. This leaves the user guessing as to what the sound could be, and when they walk around the corner and see the video of the farmer ploughing in the field superimposed through the doorway it should all make sense, the audio is at it’s loudest as they approach the doorway and both the audio and video should fit seamlessly together.



FINAL PROTOTYPE: Below is the video of my final prototype in response to the question ‘What is not here anymore?’, be sure to watch it with the volume turned up or even better with headphones.




Above: You can see images of a friend testing my final prototype at the location. I am very pleased with the overall outcome of the project, I think it works very effectively at transporting the user of the experience into an expanded place and I am pleased with the use of audio which I believe adds another layer to the prototype. However, if I were to do it again or had more time, I think I would use a green screen and put it behind the doorway, so I didn’t have to manually cut around it. I could just chroma key out the green screen and insert the video of the farmer ploughing on top of that, I also think this method would have looked more realistic. Nonetheless, given the time restraint, I think I have produced something which stands alone and effectively responds to the brief.

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