Missing in action: the ABC and Australia’s screen culture

The ABC’s role as a provider of Australian stories can only grow with importance in a rapidly changing media landscape. Paul Miller/AAP

Achievements by the ABC to significantly increase levels of local drama, comedy, documentary, Indigenous and children’s content, as well as expand partnerships with independent production houses and creative talent, have in recent years been reversed.

The problem lies with a lack of governance, an inadequate, outdated Charter and the ABC’s poor relationship with the independent production sector.

Between 2006 and 2009, the Howard and Rudd governments increased ABC TV’s budget by almost 30%. The new funding was for additional Australian content.

It was provided by government in support of a clearly articulated policy-based proposal and strategy. The ABC would increase levels of Australian drama, documentary, children’s and Indigenous content. It would work productively and in partnership with the independent production sector. Finally, it would engage strategically with federal and state funding agencies to finance its expanded slate of Australian content, including outside Sydney and Melbourne.

The extra funding was provided in the context of Australia’s national screen policy framework. It resulted in a significant increase in the volume, diversity and quality of new Australian programs delivered to ABC TV audiences.

In the realm of drama, there were stories about remarkable Australians (Mabo) and intelligent but off-beat comedy-dramas (Rake). For the first time, Australian producers and creative teams worked in the traditionally British-dominated murder-mystery genre, bringing an idiosyncratic Australian flavour to shows such as The Dr Blake Mysteries and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.

Essie Davis, Nathan Page, and Hugo Johnstone-Burt in Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (2012)
Every Cloud Productions

By 2012–13, the ABC was commissioning and broadcasting around 15 hours of high budget history documentaries each year. It also launched a dedicated children’s channel and increased the breadth, depth and Australianness of its children’s programming. Audiences responded positively.

But in the past few years, it has has become clear that this was a passing moment in the history of the ABC.

Beginning in 2013, before any cuts imposed by the Abbott government, the ABC started and then continued to reallocate funds provided to it by government exclusively for extra Australian adult and children’s content.

These changes occurred largely in a cone of silence. The ABC ultimately is not called to account over publicly taking money from government on the promise of 50% Australian content on its children’s channel, only to privately decide that 25% is enough.

In the area of natural history, within a few years the ABC had moved from commissioning six to eight documentary programs a year to none. Audiences flock to the ABC to discover the wonders of our flora and fauna, but when nothing is offered they have no choice but to watch another UK import.

Similarly, the ABC could bask in positive reviews for its standout Indigenous drama Redfern Now only to quietly shift money away from this area a few years later. In the absence of formal disclosure it is difficult to report an exact figure. But it is likely that the Indigenous commissioning budget has been reduced by at least 10%.

There is little or no consistency or transparency around the reporting of any of this. And the government has no mechanism through which it monitors or establishes requirements for the ABC’s performance in regard to its Australian content or its engagement with the independent production sector. To do so would immediately lead to a chorus of claims about infringement of the ABC’s independence.

A profound disconnect

A profound disconnect exists between the ABC, public policy settings around Australian screen content, and the ABC’s contribution to Australian culture and identity. Our most significant cultural institution is also vulnerable to unilateral internal change – contrary to stated government policy, and in the absence of any public discussion or review.

Australia has a public policy framework to ensure that Australian audiences have access to Australian programs on free-to-air and pay TV television services. This framework includes measures to develop and sustain a production and creative sector that is able to make these programs.

Yet the ABC, Australia’s largest and most important cultural institution, stands outside and at times fiercely rejects any association or engagement with the policy debate, the evolving policy framework and, more generally, the screen production sector.

Any attempt to bring the ABC into this policy paradigm is opposed by the institution itself and many of its well-meaning supporters as an encroachment on its independence.

To achieve its public responsibilities, the ABC requires a governance structure within which its public purpose is clearly articulated and set by government. Under this structure, certain outcomes should be clearly established and the normal high standards of public sector accountability and transparency mandated and adhered to.

At present, the ABC’s self-proclaimed and all-encompassing independence causes it to exist in a state of isolation, untroubled by debate about its role within the Australian broadcasting and cultural sectors.

The changes we are seeing in our media landscape are profound and fast moving. The ABC as a public broadcaster is in the privileged position of being able to engage actively and innovatively with this new digital landscape, free from commercial constraints. Its role as a provider of Australian stories and as a supporter of our local production sector can only grow in importance.

But it is operating outside of any public policy framework to ensure a commitment to Australian content and the production sector that creates it. And it has shown its disregard for this content, disdain for the production sector and disinterest for the adult and children’s audiences that like to watch Australian programs.

The evidence before us clearly demonstrates the need for urgent action and an agenda for change.

Kim Dalton is the author of the new Platform Paper Missing in Action: The ABC and Australia’s Screen Culture published today by Currency House. He is also addressing the Currency House Creativity and Business Breakfast on Wednesday 17 May at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney with tickets available here.

The Conversation

Kim Dalton is a director of December Media, producer of The Dr Blake Mysteries. He consults for screen agencies and production companies. He is Chair of the Asian Animation Summit, a director of the audio-visual collection society, Screenrights and a member of the Academic Board of NIDA.

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Sunday Sound Thought #70 – Uncertainty

Helpful Signpost – Ian Harding (click for original)

It’s a badge of honor to be able to work with precision and shape sound and music to fit our vision. But unpredictability can keep us as well as our audience on edge in a delightful way. How can we let our sounds get away from us?

Keeping it Fresh

Really Cool Thing about making interactive sound is that the final product can still surprise you, the creator. Yeah, sometimes that’s because it’s a bug, but what I’m really talking about is those moments where the combination of human input, simulation, and your set of playback rules coalesce into an organism and do something good, but unexpected. It’s thrilling to hear it happen for you, and if it comes together in the right way, the audience will perceive it as having a special quality of life about it. So what are some ways to make that happen?

Encoding Uncertainty

The first thing to come to mind when talking about creating unpredictable behavior is randomness. Fire a random sound, generate a drunk walk to modulate an effect, use noise to create procedural ambiences. Most of the time, you’ll be specifying a range or a cooldown for the randomness, lest it become actual noise. As techniques for creating uncertainty go, I’d call this one a “subtractive” process. By that I mean you use randomness to create the uncertainty, but then shape it with a variety of math functions to rein it in to where you want to be.

While randomness is a perfectly good tool to use when creating emergent behavior, its primary drawback is that it’s the randomness that’s governing the changes over time, and not something directly specified. So what about deterministic uncertainty, or put another way, complexity sufficient to hide the rules?

One of my favorite techniques for creating generative music is phasing. Here’s one definition of phasing:

Phasing is a compositional technique in which the same part (a repetitive phrase) is played on two musical instruments, in steady but not identical tempi.

A looser definition I like is that phasing occurs whenever two or more musical parts loop in such a way that they eventually go out of phase with each other (same idea as phase cancellation, but more musical!). It may have gotten its name from the tape compositions of Steve Reich, but the concept’s been in use about as long as there’s been music. In West African drumming, for example, polyrhythms play a huge role in creating the overlapping, evolving sound of the music. With this definition, you can see how variable-length step sequencers, Euclidean rhythm generators, and Markov chain selection mechanisms can be applied to produce this effect.

But it doesn’t have to be music. Phasing could just as easily be applied to your non-musical sound design. For example, you could use a variable-length sequencer to trigger environmental sounds, creating a rich, non-repeating ambience. Or try it out on something less atmospheric, like overlapping a handful of granulators with different pitch and speed settings to compose an engine sound.

What are your favorite ways to create uncertainty? Have a story about an emergent audio experience you loved? Let us know in the comments, on Twitter, or in the Exchange.

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Pool Time in Beverly Hills!

Speaking of…

Today’s daily photo features one of the founders of Plotagraph! If you look around the Plotagraph site, you’ll probably see even more photos of her… the full story below! ?

Daily Photo – Pool Time in Beverly Hills!

One day while we were staying at one of my art collector’s homes in Beverly Hills, we had the team from Plotagraph over, Troy and Sascha. We were having a little catch-up session on Plotagraph, and my friend Tom Anderson was there too (you know, MySpace Tom!). Anyway, we were both ready to take some photos, and since Sascha is a model, she offered to slink around the pool a bit. Troy was really funny – he’s a Photographer as well – but he knows how to talk to models… so he was yelling out this and that and cracking me and Tom up… I’ll get a recording next time!

Pool Time in Beverly Hills!

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-03-13 06:12:39
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/3200
  • Aperture5
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length31.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-1

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April 2017 OfficeSupplyGeek Giveaway Winner and LEGO Stationery

Today we have the winner of our twice monthly giveaway to share, but as always there is yet another pretty awesome item I wanted to share first.  I never knew that Lego had its own line of stationery products, but apparently they have been around for over a year now.  I grabbed a few items myself to review, but if you don’t want to wait for a review and are just excited about their existence like I was you can see all the different pens, pencils, rulers, notebooks and more available here via Amazon.

Baron Fig Metamorphosis Box

This month’s winner will be receiving a brand new limited edition Baron Fig Confidant Metamorphosis edition.  You can get a closer look at it right here from when we did our first look at one. Even better news, for Alberta Leone who is this month’s winner!  If you are Alberta Leone then just reply to the email we sent everyone this morning, or use the About/Contact link below to get in touch so we can send you your new notebook!

Thanks as always to everyone for checking out he site, and if you haven’t signed up for these monthly giveaways, the link to do so is right here!

The post April 2017 OfficeSupplyGeek Giveaway Winner and LEGO Stationery appeared first on OfficeSupplyGeek®.

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Jan Garbarek, Miroslav Vitous, Peter Eerskine – Star

Saxophonist Jan Garbarek, bassist Miroslav Vitous and drummer Peter Erskine have been making records for ECM for a long time, both as leaders and as sidemen. They know each other’s styles well, they’re familiar with ECM label head Manfred Eicher’s echo-drenched production tendencies, and they know how to turn jazz formulas into hip, lyrical romanticism. On this leaderless trio album, as with most ECM releases, you get the feeling of music emerging from a vast and echoey space; Erskine’s Morse-code drum accents, Vitous’ thrumming basslines and the plaintive cry of Garbarek’s soprano and alto saxophones are far removed from what some would consider "jazz," but that’s not the point. The tunes may be somewhat interchangeable, but the music is virtuosic, thoughtful and thoroughly lovely, at times heart-tugging. Makes you wish these three would get together more often. – by Rick Anderson, AMG

Artist: Jan Garbarek, Miroslav Vitous, Peter Eerskine
Album: Star
Year: 1991
Label: ECM
Runtime: 42:23

1.  Star (Jan Garbarek) 6:15
2.  Jumper (Miroslav Vitous) 4:21
3.  Lamenting (Miroslav Vitous) 6:08
4.  Anthem (Peter Erskine) 6:16
5.  Roses for You (Miroslav Vitous) 5:39
6.  Clouds in the Mountain (Miroslav Vitous) 4:38
7.  Snowman (Jan Garbarek/Miroslav Vitous/Peter Erskine) 5:21
8.  The music of my People (Peter Erskine) 3:41

Jan Garbarek (Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone)
Miroslav Vitous (Double Bass)
Peter Erskine (Drums) Source: http://ift.tt/2eRoURb

Poem of the Day: Very Large Moth

Your first thought when the light snaps on and the black wings
             clatter about the kitchen       is a bat
the clear part of your mind considers rabies       the other part
             does not consider       knows only to startle
and cower away from the slap of its wings       though it is soon
             clearly not a bat but a moth       and harmless
still you are shy of it       it clings to the hood of the stove
             not black but brown       its orange eyes sparkle
like televisions       its leg joints are large enough to count
             how could you kill it       where would you hide the body
a creature so solid must have room for a soul
            and if this is so       why not in a creature
half its size       or half its size again       and so on
             down to the ants       clearly it must be saved
caught in a shopping bag and rushed to the front door
             afraid to crush it       feeling the plastic rattle
loosened into the night air       it batters the porch light
             throwing fitful shadows around the landing
That was a really big moth       is all you can say to the doorman
             who has watched your whole performance with a smile
the half-compassion and half-horror we feel for the creatures
             we want not to hurt       and prefer not to touch

Source: Poetry October 2013

Craig Arnold

More poems by this author

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Read: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

Two pages in and you know the author can tell a story and you are in for a good ride. Recommended by my friend Jack, a writer himself, so I knew this book wouldn’t disappoint. What is it about a good story? What is it about someone arranging words on a page that allow for us to visualize something so detailed we can almost smell it?

Tom Franklin’s Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is a book based in the South. The Deep South, with a vernacular unique to the world. Family, murder, sadness, the unfair aspects of life and a racial history still alive as an open wound. You feel for the people in the this book. Turning those pages I thought back to the people I’ve known who were wronged, castigated or shunned for less than perfect reasons and it actually hurt to retrieve these thoughts. The characters in this book feel like they have been held underwater to the breaking point, and as the book moves along it feels like they are near the surface, out of air, waiting to break free, or about to die just before they find the light. Get it, read it.

Source: http://shifter.media

Amazing Gaming Concept Arts By Sergey Kolesov

Today we are featuring digital concept artist Sergey Kolesov aka Peleng, with his amazing digital gaming concept artwork. He was from Lyon, France. He is a CG artist with remarkable and eye-catching concepts of art. You’re welcome to look through his works. Enjoy!

You can catch Gabz on http://ift.tt/2phBgHz.

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Digital CG Artist Work for Inspiration

Here is the list of his amazing work of Digital Illustration art. Have a look, and feel the power of Illustration!

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Saturday scene

Our Saturday has been subjected to the usual routine of laundry and relaxing but we I also fit in a quick workout with the kids before nap time. Later tonight we’re taking them to see a movie and a walk in the park.

I realize this photo doesn’t depict any of what I just described but the Hellebore was cut form my garden and I feel particularly proud to be able to grow this beautiful dark variation of one of my favorite flowers.

Also, a handy shop-the-look is below if you want source any of these items. I earn a small amount from these affiliate links if you want to shop and support my site simultaneously!

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