Machine Seeing

Machine Seeing

Machine Seeing | Drones

StoryLab are exploring and addressing a series of questions and challenges on existing and emerging creative technologies. Innovations in media technologies have opened up new ways of witnessing the world. These emerging modes of “machine seeing” raise novel questions about user experience, renaissance and role of synergistic creative tools such as sound, changing workflows and the language of communication. Exploring Machine Seeing, we consider how media producers and audiences experience and make sense of contemporary life through new visual techniques and technologies. What new visual paradigms will emerge in the age of drone filming and 360 video? What realities will be envisioned in virtual reality? We suggest that emerging modes of machine seeing provide not just potential opportunities but also new limitations and challenges for filmmakers and users alike. This project explores “machine seeing” to consider the ramifications of visuality in the context of rapidly changing media technologies through a series of practice-led investigations.

Unmanned Aerial Systems as Autonomous Art Systems

Artists, performers and filmmakers are finding new kinds of beauty through automated programming utilising unmanned aerial systems (UASs) also known as drones, where the UAVs are not just capturing the story but the machines themselves become the story. The emergence of heavy weight drones with increased load capacity combined with advanced lens control systems have given rise to unparalleled camera control at extended ranges and navigation through spaces to give dynamic, intimate and playful shots that give the viewer ‘alternate’ versions of reality that only a ‘machine’ can provide.  However, the operational scope of drones is limited by legal and health and safety regulations, particularly within built up urban environments. These regulations govern the vertical and horizontal distance from objects and people, line of sight, time constraints, weather conditions as well as security implications. We seek to explore whether these restrictions limit the creativity of the artist or challenge the creator to consider alternate ways of using these Autonomous Art Systems to inform the narrative and aesthetic realization of the final art form and subsequent emotional and physical response of the spectator.


Drone Filming
Creativity, Drones and Safety
Creative Drone Filming by Emma Boswell
(Workshop on Drones Creative Communication Conference)

Point of View

Machine Seeing - Point of View

Recent developments in video camera sensor technology have enabled filmmakers to create cinematic experiences using small, affordable camera rigs and dynamic grip equipment. This technology has served as a vehicle for visual storytellers to explore immersive subjectivity in a variety of ways, including point of view perspectives applied with action cameras such as GoPros via body mounts and 360 rigs. We ask how the freedom to experiment with choreography, movement, direction with these small machines can inform intimate narrative speed through a series of prototype projects: TNSS, Urban Nature and Pressure.

In June 2018, StoryLab researchers co-authored the paper with Professor of Social Phsychology, Viren Swami The Impact of Exposure to Films of Natural and Built Environments on State Body Appreciation, which found that exposure to films depicting the natural environment may promote immediate, moderate-sized improvements in state body image [1]. The two films used in the study were produced by StoryLab and were shot form a point of view perspective using a DSLR camera shooting video mounted on a DJI Ronin stabilization gimbal. One film depicting a walk through an urban environment and the other through a nature environment. Using this stable POV shooting technique with a 24mm lens to approximately represent the field of view of human eyes, we can use machines to create an immersive perspective that has a measurable positive influence on human mental well-being. This project examines how employing immersive filming techniques such as POV, 360 video and VR can be employed to create inclusive immersive experiences and how that may influence the perception of body image and well-being.

[1] The Impact of Exposure to Films of Natural and Built Environments on State Body Appreciation, Swami, Barron, Patel, Pickering