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As a media and communications student in my final year of university I’m interested in the ways collaboration between industry, emerging technology and myself as a creative can co-exist based on more than just one skillset. I started in Digital media because I wanted to innovate the filmmaking space, using drones to create a start to end video project using only drones as the main camera rig, in all sizes and methods, I wanted to use them for not only the aerial birds eye views, but the spaces at eye level for more intimate shots. Upon leaving, we’ve leveraged a blog, sometimes a YouTube channel and written essays toward topics that often get left in a subject dropbox and forgotten about. I believe new technologies such as autonomous robotics are going to help creative content producers like myself gain an exciting edge over the “creating” gap in industry and graduates.

A digital portfolio was my answer to the question of how individuals can “Be (their) own camera crew” and how a series of previous projects and indeed subject specific works can be organised to showcase themselves to industries in filmmaking and creative spaces as having experience making start to end projects. I wanted to incorporate autonomous film devices such as my drone, so that I may be not only the filmmaker, but now the technology enables us to be the subject. YouTube and consequently video as a platform allowed me to address the creative accumulation of content for a portfolio, as well as showcase the potential these devices have to make professional standard works. YouTube was chosen to continue to produce works in an openly featured platform to invite stakeholders as well as constructive comments to improve elements of a work. Using this type of device highlights my interest area as well as the space left by filmmaking theory thus; “Though there is a range of techniques to automatically control drones for a variety of applications, none have considered the problem of producing cinematographic camera motion in real-time for shooting purposes”(Q Galvane J Fleureau F.L. Tariolle P. Guillotel, 2016)

The filming process included a shot list that i’ve created below, that can all be done by myself whilst riding the board or not, the drone can be programmed to actively track a subject. This is done by clicking and dragging a box on the live video on a smartphone whilst the drone is in the air. This further amplifies the potential of creating a work that I believe can be taken to a major production company to showcase a skillset.
Upon talks with my tutor, the way i’ve presented this is in a 3 part video series titled: “Be YOUR own camera crew” on YouTube. I detailed that this would allow an accumulation of different angles of what can be showcased with a single recording device, an internet connection and a great idea. Some of the anxieties about these emerging technologies, I also wanted to lay to rest, by sparking discussion and address a tool that’s being heavily regulated at the moment. “Despite all of the new tools, drones are still only used in about 10 percent of film productions where a camera drone and crew can cost less than $3,000 compared to $25,000 for a helicopter shoot.” (A Marken, 2017) I believe will change the way not only filmmaking is approached, but also journalism and surveillance.


A Dalton, 2016, This Sci-fi Film was shot entirely by Autonomous Drones, Engadget, Blogpost, viewed 1st June 2017, <https://www.engadget.com/2016/09/27/in-the-robot-skies-sci-fi-film-shot-autonomous-drones/>

A Marken, 2017, Visable Flight: Drones Raise Filmmaking Opportunities, Robotics Tomorrow, webpage, viewed 1st June 2017, <http://www.roboticstomorrow.com/article/2017/05/visible-flight-drones-raise-filmmaking-opportunities/10110>

Chris Moore, 2016, Cybercultures Week Two 2016 (w.2), Prezi lecture, DIGC335, University of Wollongong, 8th March 2016, viewed 28th May 2017, via <https://prezi.com/poqmln3hslyh/cyberculture-and-cybernetics>

Civil Aviation Safety Authority, 2017, Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems: Can I Fly Here?, Australian Government, viewed 30th May 2017, <https://casa.dronecomplier.com/external>

C Rollins, 2017, Mavic Pro – Active Track on a boosted board, May 26th, YouTube, Online Video, viewed 30th May 2017, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mXo6yz4cv4>

L Young, 2016, In the Robot Skies, Vimeo, online video, viewed 1st June 2017, <https://vimeo.com/184429206>

Q Galvane J Fleureau F.L. Tariolle P. Guillotel, 2016, Automated Cinematography with unmanned aerial vehicles, WICED ’16 Proceedings of the Eurographics Workshop on Intelligent Cinematography and Editing, Portugal May 9th, p.p. 23-30, Eurographics Association Switzerland, viewed 29th May 2017, <http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=3056987&preflayout=tabs>





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Robotic implications and emerging technologies have always been a fascination of mine, and my university career has lead me to want to dive into these potentials usually by obtaining a new device or creating an account on a platform and just using them. Over the years at the University of Wollongong, I’ve created some digital artefacts, media art and written countless blog posts that have attributed to a creative content portfolio that will serve as a resume moving into the digital generation, lead by us in communications and digital media. This aggregated content curation has lead me to drone technology and how this emerging technology will be something this degree and certainly its graduates will have to become aware of as a tool to capture aerial images and video. I’ve been focused on the devices for about 2 years now, ranging from theoretical research and skillsets within ethical privacy, e-waste, production and consumption in the Asian Pacific, commercial and non-commercial use, agricultural implications, aesthetic filming and editing as well as launching a start-up within iAccelerate fuelled by UOW pitch 2016 whereby I’ve designed, built and implemented a drone device in collaboration with the RMS.


What I intend to do for this kind of research is something perhaps down the aesthetic road, whilst still defining my expertise and encouraging others to do so. I was to understand and field test the options that “off-the-shelf” commercial drones offer filmmakers and creatives, essentially out of the box ready to fly. Collision avoidance, active tracking and smart landing features are all components that drone manufacturers have to have as a core to their product if they’re to compete in the market today. These devices are a flying personal camera crew, and I want to create a video that captures myself as the subject that’s filmed by me. The edit is then done by me and my skills in two fields are already being tested and improved. That the act of creating and learning from failure still have more physical work showcase potential than ever before, we now have an evolutionary showreel to showcase what we’d describe in a written resume’ as “flexible, diverse and hard working”. Inevitably, this content creation goes back into my portfolio online and hopefully as media professionals scroll through the years, areas of improvement are evident.


For this digital artefact titled, “Be your Own Camera Crew”, I want to create a series of, or one video, to capture the skills I’ve learnt over the years of university attendance and the skillset from that, and create a visual showcase of this device potential for content creators like us who are trying to create jobs that perhaps aren’t even open for positions yet. The processes of editing, planning shots and ultimately creating a start to finish product that can then be used for a workplace portfolio is something i’d be interested in exploring. The drone I will be using is a product made by DJI, one of the world’s leading manufacturers in quadcopter technology, utilizing what’s called “active track”. This feature allows its user to click and drag a virtual box around a subject on live view from the drone on a smartphone, to then become the focus point of the shot. Once the subject is recognised and focused on, piloting the drone becomes automatic, without the use of the controller or even any piloting gestures. This means the person creating the work doesn’t have to worry about missing a particular moment in the filming process as the drone stays fixed on them. The type of video I would like to create would be something visually aesthetic as well as something with motion. The editing is then done with free software that comes with both personal laptops, in my case iMovie, or at the University. Lastly, the platform YouTube, allows this to be publically available for anyone with an internet upload connection. This will allow feedback for critic, as well as the convenience of a link to embed in future career initiation talks and applications.


I will be tangling with the week 5 topic of “The Object” and the autonomous function found on commercial quadcopters today. With some research, I’ve discovered that I’m not alone in my thinking that drones could serve a real world place in terms of providing accessibility to social, educational and creative disciplines, as theorist Utkarsh Mittal conveniently states that  drones will provide new opportunities for content creation and research, users may expect drones to be part of the technology resources available.  I use this example broadly, but some specific examples that I’ve been exposed to are the library at the University of Wollongong. The ‘maker-space’ will encourage emerging technologies and new devices on offer for students to complete projects that require an extra layer of physicality or aesthetic. These include drones, 3D printers and virtual reality, all available within a University library, which means the integration of these devices are already being encouraged as academic resources.


In my project, I want to contribute to this discussion from the viewpoint of a creative content creator.The unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are linked to all kinds of prejudice and harsh criticisms about privacy, hostility and the unknown realm that is autonomous robotics. My intention is to explore the latter of these categories, and unlock what it means to aspiring media professionals like myself, when devices we use to conduct research and perform our creative tasks suddenly are able to do this without piloting and without supervision.

Stay tuned.

active track DJI MAVIC \ FREE LOOK // parkes nsw 2017

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Free Look

My first real trial of the active track feature with the DJI Mavic Pro. Very useful feature and allows the ability to be your own camera crew…i used a skateboard to see how well it keeps up.
edited in iMovie.

Music Available @ [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KoWCGl73u8]
Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC65e9ndBqyxT_uHbkyrh42Q

Check out FreeLook Online @ https://freelookweb.wordpress.com/

Follow me on Twitter @samnoakes95 OR

Instagram; aerial_sam

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Containment // Control

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Animals have had quite a lot to deal with over the years, whether it be treatment, representation or conservation, they’re often subject to decisions made by us about their welfare and even to the point of having laws written by humans for their own good. This idea I’m going to focus on in terms of The Animal will touch into a cybernetic comparison that we seem to be able to fit so well into the BCM studies classes. At the start of my final year of university for a class “Emerging issues in Media and Communications” I was asked what my interest is in and what I’d consider my dream. This would be to bring about humans and the machine to live harmoniously in sync whereby the control and containment isn’t the governing theme for hierarchy.

I believe when talking about animals in captivity and animals perhaps subject to actions or behaviours for human enjoyment whether it’s for their well-being or not comes down to a control element that is spread across multiple disciplines.

“ Animals kept in zoos are denied everything that makes their lives meaningful. Every aspect of their lives is controlled and manipulated. “ (PETA. 2017)

An article written by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) looks into the expired mindset of Zoo capitivity. The context of some animals are subject to the misuse of “conservation”, a lot of the animals that are behind bars aren’t endangered and are simply around to bring numbers through the gate, or the idea that the young babies are attractive to the public. I want to run with this idea of outdated and apply it to an extension of thinking about robotics in the same way we think about these animals being controlled and forced to act as entertainment.

Autonomous machines are subject to a pre-loved idea of science fiction inspired ways of thinking for themselves, personality and actions. The more “human” like these robot machines become the more we seem to want to make them do things for us, or creating a sense of ownership for tasks. If the more we advance, and the more we allow these devices to think and feel and be held responsible for it’s actions, then should we perhaps stop the containment of them like property and perhaps look at ways we can give them their own rights and laws? I support one step further in saying these robotics deserve to choose for themselves. We have entered AI (artificial intelligence) era, where bots on Twitter are just the beginning with how things can evolve rapidly (and with this Tay example) and dangerously when the “intelligence” are given based on human influence. Twitter users wrote in detailing gruesome statements requesting the bot ‘Tay’ to repeat, in which she dutifully obliged.

Cynics might argue that Tay’s bad behavior is actually proof of Microsoft’s success. They aimed to create a bot indistinguishable from human Twitter users, and Tay’s racist tweets are pretty much par for the course on social media these days. (J, West 2016)

I’m not saying this needs to be implemented instantly, robotics and computer AI systems still have a long way to come before they match human intelligence (if they ever do), I believe though the more we aspire to make these “electronic personsup to date with law and responsibility. There are talks happening now that are trying to create a new category away from objects, humans, animals thus: “sufficiently sophisticated robots should be regarded as natural persons, legal persons (like corporations), animals or objects. Rather than lumping them into an existing category, it proposes that a new category of “electronic person” is more appropriate” (K, Bowyer 2017). What the debate covers is that the direction on liabilities from robots only covers “foreseeable damages from manufacturing defects”, what this doesn’t cover and corporations are pushing is that the more these sophisticated machines learn about and adapt to their new environments in unpredictable (AI) ways, the manufacturer cannot see this coming. This is exactly my point where as a collective human control we failed in animal containment practises. 

Robots may eventually match human cognitive abilities and they’re becoming increasingly human-like, including the ability to “feel pain”


If we want to treat draw harmony with AI, devices and machines that we’re constantly trying to make more human like, we need to move away from ownership, control and restrictions set by humans for something else. Perhaps a short term resolution would be to treat these devices that have shown evidence of a level of sophistication to meet requirements then they be given their own set of rights, earn money, pay taxes and sue or be sued separately to its creators or open source community involvement. At the moment they’re still yet to prove themselves for this stage, but a device that’s on the brink of ‘feeling’ and ‘thinking’ I believe should have rights, as much as any human or animal, otherwise the fear of autonomy and robotics taking over could be a result of our own influence and coded rules.

M, Anderson 2017, After 75 years, Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics need updating, The Conversation, viewed 27 March 2017, <http://theconversation.com/after-75-years-isaac-asimovs-three-laws-of-robotics-need-updating-74501&gt;

K, Bowyer 2017, Robot rights: at what point should an intelligent machine be considered a ‘person’?, SmartCompany, viewed 27 March 2017, <http://www.smartcompany.com.au/startupsmart/news-analysis/robot-rights-at-what-point-should-an-intelligent-machine-be-considered-a-person/&gt;

J, West 2016, Microsoft’s disastrous Tay experiment shows the hidden dangers of AI, Quartz, viewed 27 March 2017, <https://qz.com/653084/microsofts-disastrous-tay-experiment-shows-the-hidden-dangers-of-ai/&gt;


Poverty Porn // Blogger vs. Author

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Hunger Hurts. (July 2012)


This blog post is by an internet writer and a mum, who narrates a poverty filled upbringing of a child in the UK. This writing piece become quite popular for its engagement with readers as well as the harsh criticism from others that pointed out her wealthy or “well-off” parents, that meant she didn’t have to be in this position. No matter the response the writing style is raw. The truth and the detailed framework of the post allows people of that class to resonate, but also be a symbolic text or a voice. Touching on the channels of various communication methods being a coded language, by drawing out the empathetic genres of this kind of work, can create emotional response and therefore an increase in reader engagement. This however, can be counter argued with ideas of ‘Poverty Porn’ or perhaps the idea that others misfortunes can be used on a commercial or understandable basis.

Poverty porn shows grotesque crises, often through individual stories, that audiences can easily mend through a simple solution or donation. Poverty porn makes a complex human experience understandable, consumable and easily treatable.

(E, Roenigk 2014)

I’d like to dive into the idea that perhaps these stories told by first hand experience like that of Jack Monroe, can have pros and cons, much similar to the higher up or established publishing company who write about the poverty areas.  The fact that this was criticised by established publishing companies and individuals of power shows the gap in empathetic responses to a writing piece and singles out a self -gratification element that goes deeper than the writer. The deeper the connection with the writer the more empathetic I believe the response is, thus, when poor or underprivileged individuals are subject to a writing database such as a blog and they can publish it un-mediated, they subject themselves to a more raw and relatable audience in the lower class, but perhaps lose their audience in an established higher class as they are simply using empathy as a disguise to a problem or world issue they’re not going to do anything about. 

There is an argument that says, “well this particular blogger has now become quite successful with her story and shares bootleg meals or foods that can be made on a budget”, and while yes I understand this, I believe her story and her successes are triumphs in the face of adversity. I grew up with a single mother looking after my sister and I and this story really resonated with me, and when shown to her she had nothing but raw emotion in her face and it brought her to tears. I talked to her about what she thought and posed the question, “Do you think it’s wrong now that she’s a successful online content creator and uses this following?” and Mum responded with “No, I think it could be something us as single parents and low socio-economic status individuals can aspire to be like…it gives me hope and belief in myself that I’ve done the hard yards and there can be a happy ending…as cliche as it sounds, it could be the voice, or the motivation someone needs to give life a real chance”. I totally agree with this, the idea that you have to have money to make money is slowly becoming myth, and with access to these kinds of blogging services we are seeing a dominant display from once the voiceless, rise above and succeed with their emotion filled stories.

If we look at this from the same angle but from a different response, the poverty inspired triumphs that are written by established companies or composed with famous individuals could be used as a beacon of hope, I believe the contingencies lie with the people involved in the stories and how they’re treated within the successes. Celebrities that travel overseas into poverty filled countries are often exploited for using the individuals in the promotion or awareness campaign, and once over then not really dealt with. Perhaps sparking what we know in social media as ‘slacktivism’, where the page or trend is “shared” but never really acted upon past the displays of our laptops. However, theres two sides to every story and I believe the trends or statistics in a data collection method I’m not sure how would be undertaken, could look at the idea of inspiration or motivation. How much of this do the people these stories and these awareness campaigns are about help them to grow and prosper into a lifestyle or attitude change? Before we start slamming the writing style and professionalism, I believe we need to think about the individuals we are choosing to include in the works, which through the ability to comment and leave feedback on internet forums, I believe we can start to see a lot more of.

Screen Shot 2017-03-21 at 7.07.02 pm

J, Monroe 2012, “Hunger Hurts 2012”, Cooking On A Bootstrap & More, Blog Post, Viewed 21st March 2017, <https://cookingonabootstrap.com/2012/07/30/hunger-hurts/&gt;

E, Roenigk 2014, “5 Reasons poverty porn empowers the wrong person”, ONE, Blog Post, Viewed 21st March 2017, <https://www.one.org/us/2014/04/09/5-reasons-poverty-porn-empowers-the-wrong-person/&gt;






When does it stop becoming a selfie?

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Selfies whether they’re used for strategies, commercialisation or function are becoming a tool for empowerment used globally with the rise of cameras being linked to devices we use everyday. Not only is our mobile phone used for telephone calls, it’s also a GPS, video camera, calculator, voice recorder, computer, internet connection, mailbox, games console and the list goes on. This multi-purpose device is now a contender in the camera market, with more and more content being produced by a phone and an internet connection coining the rise of the “micro-celebrity”. Aided with the accessibility of social media, individuals are able to share stories and ideas within minutes to anyone who’s connected with them.

The human selfie is recognised as a way of empowerment as mentioned above in terms of political activism (or slacktivism), a coded language in lack of a better word. A commercial statement that allows individuals capture a particular aesthetic point in their lives and share it to a global following, or indeed a safety check up or review for a website that has some functionality to it that updates the intended recipient  of a whereabouts or a primary source about a location, ie: photo review of a landmark or attraction.

I want to perhaps discover a slightly different angle from this topic of the selfie, of when does it become something foreign or perhaps stop becoming a “self”-ie. More specifically, if an inanimate object or technological device manages to take a “self portrait” is this still considered the same thing. My exploration is that of a drone or quadcopter taking a selfie with its own camera installation, or a “dronie” so to speak. Not a selfie of a human which exists already, but the autonomous action of the drone taking a photo of it’s self in a mirror. I’m not sure how popular this is already, it was more a thought related to my cybercultural enthusiasm with robotics, thus the Drone selfie (of a drone):


Even if not a drone, I have a MiP Robot I purchased from Japan, that also has the ability to link to an app and take photos without the user physically holding it. What if this device was to then be able to produce content of enough quality to resemble the selfie, would we still allow this kind of content to enter the realm of micro-celebrity. It is an exciting entry point I believe for autonomous robotics to start creating their own aesthetic rather that we continue to produce the criteria for them.

This article explores the nature of humans interacting with robotics, in a device created and said to be able to “play iPad games, take selfies and even convey human emotion likeliness such as “moody” behaviours”(Motherboard, 2016). It is an interesting viewpoint on the way we think about attaching human emotions to electronics and perhaps an insight into their initial dependencies on us to keep them “company”.

I’d like to explore how this could infact interact with the drone taking a photo of the drone. Would the next step in photographic aesthetics or the “selfie” be giving the devices we use today the ability to take a selfie of themselves?. What if our phone or tablet or even SLR camera could suddenly explore the uncanny idea of themselves in the photo they’re capturing.

M, Margolin 2016, ‘This Robot Takes Selfies and Gets Moody, Just Like Us‘, Motherbaord, viewed 15th March 2016, <https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/this-robot-takes-selfies-and-gets-moody-just-like-us&gt;