VfR – Vision for Reality

I’m beginning what will grow into a series of posts and other content around a new theme I’ve been thinking about for a long while. I call it:

VfR – Vision for Reality  

Peony collage
A single Peony bloom – reconstructed in a digital montage.

I’m a media person – both a content creator and a strategist. I’m asking myself how to think best about social media and other new media technologies. A term to encompass these is “New Media.” The discussion of new media commonly includes things like: artificial intelligence, virtual reality, social media, big data aggregation, internet-of-things, questions of privacy, tech mediated relationships, (can you add to this list?)

The core idea, or theme of these posts will be to encourage and equip the Church to embrace its prophetic role in culture related to technologies that are radically reshaping our cultures and us as individuals.

Being prophetic is not about telling the future. Being prophetic is telling it like it is, revealing the truth, and exposing lies. The Church is always meant to be a community that calls out and invites in. But it is always, to some degree or another, outside of all other things, whether it be culture, politics, movements, and other worldviews.

For instance, we can read a lot about research that implicates our addiction to smartphones and social media in various crises. Youth depression and suicide seem to be negatively affected by these innovations. If social media is proving to be a negative force in our societies then how should the Church respond? What answers and alternatives can we and should we provide?

But you might argue, we always run into this with something new. We can’t be Luddites or we’ll be irrelevant. And, where should we have stopped our development? Horse and buggy, steam engine? Or before that?

My feeling is that this tech and innovation is different from what we’ve encountered before. It’s a new level that impacts everything from automobiles and washing machines. You might be able to posit both negative and positive fallout from even those long-ago developments.

I want to think about what may be significantly different about the developments that are presented to us now: artificial intelligence, virtual relationships, virtual worlds, internet of things, pervasive data collection and tracking?

It’s not all insidious on the surface, but if we consider it all together, I think it should raise some questions in our minds.

What part do we play?

What part can we play?

What part should we play?

Is this all bad? Is this all good? Is this a mix?

How do we feel about that?

If we (followers of Jesus, in His Church) fully embrace these technologies,

  • What do we gain?
  • What do we lose?
  • Why does it matter?
  • What can we, or should we, do?

Does anyone want to have this conversation? Let’s do it!

Mobile, In Reverse

My daughter, like many young creatives, invents her own workflows for digital photography – shoot on DSLR, edit on mobile.

Reverse Mobile DSLR shot crop

I teach mobile production – that is, creating content on mobile, for mobile. But I’m also a traditional photographer and filmmaker – that is, making things with film!

This week I was struck by how creative people solve problems in very personal ways. I noticed this with my own daughter, who is growing to be quite a talented photographer.

But she does stuff backwards! (At least, from my own training.)

I’ve been teaching her how to use a DSLR to expand her photography beyond her mobile device. She has learned how to take really interesting photos with her iPhone 7, but has been a little intimidated by my old Canon DLSR with a big lens.

That is, until she really got hold of it. Now she’s a maniac! She is shooting a lot.

So what’s the next thing I want to teach her? Well, I’m thinking about putting a copy of Photoshop and Lightroom on another computer at home so she can learn those programs and learn to edit her images, “the right way.” But she doesn’t wait for me to figure out my licensing on AdobeCC and all that…

She invents her own workflow: DSLR to mobile.

This is how it goes:

  • shoot using the DSLR, capturing on an SD card
  • The SD card goes into the Mac Mini
  • The photos import into Photos App

So far, so good. But, instead of needing Photoshop (or Affinity Photo, or…,) she just:

  • emails them to herself at the original size, saves them to her Camera Roll on the iPhone, and
  • edits them in the free Snapseed app.

She is already comfortable with that app, so why mess with something hulking like Photoshop?! And, Snapseed has many more fun features for processing photos than boring old Photoshop.

Butterfly in Motion
A butterfly comes in for a landing on summer flowers – photo by AK

She makes really interesting, really good photos.

The things we old(er) folks can learn from our intuitive younger counterparts!

Do you have a backwards story like this?

How To Improve a Mediocre Image with the Android Photos App

A quick video on how to improve a less-than-perfect image using the simple tools found in the Photos app in Android. (Most of these tools are found in iOS Photos and many other apps, to start.)

This video was screen-recorded using DU Recorder on a Google Pixel 2 phone. Edited a bit using KineMaster on that same phone.

DIY Mobile Curriculum Work

IMG_2173

I’m doing a lot of screen captures right now as I’m plugging away at our DIY Media Creation curriculum. When it’s complete we will have around 40 full lesson plans with presentations, activities, and tutorials.  I’m responsible for some of the lessons related to image capture and editing on mobile devices, along with lessons on adding text, animation, etc.

I’m working here with a Google Pixel 2 phone because most people in the world are using Android devices and this curriculum is meant to be taken and used in the majority world, not the U.S. We’re also testing on older devices to help equip as many people as possible.

 

 

Virtual Reality view of a Yanomamö Shabano

I’ve resurrected some VR shots I made way back in 2005. This was from one of our pre-production trips to Venezuela for the filming of “Yai Wanonabalewä – The Enemy God” – a feature film we made in partnership with the Yanomamö people in that region. You can watch the film HERE.

Unfortunately, my personal WordPress account won’t allow for a real embed here, so you have to click on the link. But it’s worth it!

https://roundme.com/embed/360993/1226641

[ALSO, there are two sections, just look for the little “hotspot” behind the crew.]

This was in pre-digital VR days, when I was shooting on real film! I used a Canon T70 SLR with a Sigma 15mm fisheye lens. 10 frames were stitched together using QuickTime VR software. Now, I’m playing with these old panoramas using current tech.

Natural Light Tabletop with Pixel 2

Natural Light Tabletop with Pixel 2

I’ve been picking up a few shots for a curriculum I’m working on with some other folk. The lessons are designed to help media organizations and individuals to learn, and then to pass on, important skills in content production using mobile devices.

These shots will be part of lessons on capturing still images using a mobile device. I’m collecting screen shots and many, many photos to use as examples in the curriculum.

Keeping the gear to a minimum, just window light on my dining room table and a little tripod for the phone. The goal is to help people anywhere, with any device, create nice content.

 

Orchid Arboretums in 360 VR

A little fun with my (now-ancient!) Ricoh Theta SC VR camera.

I had part of a morning in Thailand to explore the Tweechol Botanic Garden outside Chiang Mai. I’ve been there several times and love to walk around the many garden sections. I hadn’t been inside these arboretums in the past, and love these kinds of environments.

This is a little walk-through in 360VR. The video quality isn’t great because of the limitations of this older camera. Pondering an upgrade now… 😉