Saturday, May 30, 2009

“Would you like me to show you how it works?” questioned a man’s voice in a thick British accent. I turned around to greet a smiling face with eyes, hidden behind Aviators.

“Absolutely,” I replied as the man led me to the middle computer in a row of Apple Macs.

“It’s really easy, you just record yourself saying a word and then you can string it together with videos of people saying other words, to form a video sentence,” he said.
Five minutes later I had my first youtube account with a video of me and two other people forming the completely coherent sentence, “Procrastinate, London, Cheesepuffs.”

This can be found on the website which was created by Rizwan Muhammad, an interactive media production major at Bournemouth University.
He created the site for his final project but hopes to implement the idea at his job this summer by allowing wedding guests to instantly record a sort of video guestbook.

“My boss didn’t really like it,” he replied “but he has been divorced like 3 times.”

Rizwan is one of hundreds of senior media majors throughout the United Kingdom who are showcasing their final projects in this year’s Free Range 2009.

The event is held yearly at the Old Truman Brewery, a run down warehouse set up into sections for different universities. In T1, the largest section, I’m drawn to an eerie projection of what looks like zombie limbs ripping, played to the repeat soundtrack of someone cracking their joints. I quickly move on to an image of a cow broken in half with smaller calves running out of it. Next to that I find my favorite poster; a picture of several trees with deep roots and a quote reading, “I love deadlines. I don’t sleep and I have no social life,” (an unfortunate truth).

“Free Range is a way for students to share their ideas and showcase their work for potential employers,” said Rose Thomas, a graphic design major from the University for the Creative Arts Epsom.

She sits next to a large poster she made with the words “Graphic Design is a way of clearly communicating ideas using text and images,” written across the top. The sentence is written over and over again with words erased until it finally reads, “Graphic Design is a way of communicating.” Walking around it is clear to me that some of the most creative minds in the country are here doing just that; communicating their innovations.

As I enter back into the Interactive Media section I’m once again greeted with Rizman’s smiling face who cheerfully acts as my tour guide showing me the work of his classmates. He introduces me to Vic Bishop, who quickly informs me that everything he knows about New York City he learned from watching “Friends.” Fair enough.

Vic then shows me the game he created, where the player stands in front of a web cam and clicks on a body part (let’s say their hand for example) and a puppet appears in that spot on the screen. The player can then move their hand in any direction causing the on screen puppet to move along with them. I asked him why he didn’t make it so that the puppet can individually move his hands and feet.

“I was working on that,” he replied.

Rizman then led me over to what appeared to be a drum set from the popular video game rock band.

“Have you ever played the game rock band?” Rizman asked.

“Yes…but not well,” I admit.

He explained that this game, created by Aneurin Barker Snook, is similar to rock band except there are no songs, instead the player creates their own music by hitting the notes in various patterns at their own pace. I sit down at the drum set and spastically start pounding away at the drums in what is a very poor excuse for a rhythm. Rizman laughs and Aneurin takes my place at the drum set. He starts jamming and soon a small crowd gathers around him and starts clapping along. As we continue to clap along, one guy in the crowd turned to me and asked if I went to school with them.

“No, I replied, I wish.”

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