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6 months on, Theta Z1 review

The Theta z1 is an incredible piece of technology, made even more impressive by the size. For something that fits into the palm of your hand, it packs a punch. In the post, I’m going to break down my experiences over the last 6 months with the Theta z1, both good and bad.

The first impressions of the camera are just how small it is. When I’m talking about the Theta z1 and I get it out, it’s the first thing people mention. They expect it to be the size of a DSLR with a lens attached to it. In reality, the Theta z1 can fit into the palm of your hand and slide into your pocket when you’re not using it. The discreet nature of the camera is fantastic if you’re taking photos where it’s prohibited to do so, it doesn’t look like anything else, so people are usually confused by it and think it’s some kind of selfie camera. Oh how wrong they are…

Design

The body is a magnesium alloy, lending itself to a sleek matt look which, in my opinion, makes the theta z1 look like a luxury item and lends to the professional build. The body itself is a mere 24mm thick, with the lenses adding a few mm on either side of that. A small screen on the front of the camera gives you all the information you need to shoot, battery life, self timer, how many shots left and some other tidbits of info. The screen is small and is made up of tiny block, menaing you can’t preivew your photos without use of the app, something that some people will find annoying, but I don’t mind. Adding a preiview screen would mean more battery life consumed, less room for the tech that matter inside and would probably make the camera bigger and heavier too.
The lenses on either side offer a wide viewing angle which captures full 360. They protrude out from the camera body so extra care needs to be taken when handling the device, no putting it down on the side where the lenses will easily be scratched. I’ve heard a few horror stories where people have dropped or scratched their Theta z1 and have had to get replacement lenses or buy a new camera. Not ideal, and although accidents happen, there are ways to reduce the chances. Admittedly, I’m slightly clumsy and take extra, extra care when using my Theta z1.

The four buttons on the side of the camera feel robust and you can feel them once you’ve pushed them in. This makes a big difference over touch screen buttons as you can easily use the camera with touch alone. The buttons include the power button, a function button, a connectivity button and a mode button.
The function button allows you switch between downloaded plugins, regular shooting and self timed shooting, and allows you to control the sound. The connectivity button lets you toggle the bluetooth and the wifi on and off, and the mode button switches between 4k video recording and shooting modes.
The bottom of the camera features a screw for a tripod (no tripod feet needed, just spin it carefully straight onto the tripod) and a USB C connectivity slot. The USB C allows for faster data transfer and quicker charging too.
Holding the Theta z1, you can tell its a premium device, it has weight to it, although not too heavy, the cold metal body feels robust and expensive and it looks amazing.

The Tech

The Theta z1 has some of the most impressive tech I’ve seen inside a camera. Seriously, it has no right to be this small and this powerful. The two lenses on either side capture still images of 24MP each, they have the stops, F2.1, F3,5 and F5.6. The camera does an amazing job shooting on the automatic settings, allowing you to easily shoot indoors and outdoors when the light can be difficult. You can choose to save in RAW and in JPEG which allows you to have full control over your image, just like a DSLR camera would allow you. The image sensors, one for each lens, are 1 inch square. This means that colour and detail can be captured that just isn’t possible with the competitors of this device, and something that still amazes me. The one inch sensor allows the camera to perform in low light so well, that I’ve never had a underexposed shot. As you’d expect with most cameras, you can choose to set the Theta z1 to aperture priority, shutter priority, ISO priority or choose to go manual and have full control, although the app will be needed for this.
As well as capturing high definiton images, the camera shoots 4k and 30fps, I wasn’t kidding when I said this camera was good! The 4 channel audio captures audio from all directions meaning a fully immersive VR experience can be had once the video has been processed.

App and Plugins

Gone are the days where you can expect a fully functional piece of tech without needing an additional app to use it to its full potential, as is the story here. To unleash the full potential of the Theta z1, the theta app is needed. You can download it for free on the google play store or get it on the apple store.
The theta app has been my biggest gripe with using the camera. I remember my first trip out, trying for half an hour to get my phone to talk to the camera, and when it did, I took one photo and then it disconnected. I thought it was all over and that I’d never be able to capture photos with the device until I started doing some research and found the plethora of plugins available on the theta store. Seriously, in the early days, these plug ins saved me. The problem with the app wasn’t only happened on my device, the forums were full of people complaining and experiencing different problems with it. Really frustrating for a camera that cost £1000! Recently though, there has been major updates for the app and I’ve not been experiencing any problems. The app allows you to have full control over everything, allowing you to shoot creativly and realise whatever vision it is you have. I’ve been having so much fun with the camera since the update came out, the connetion is stable and it stays connected even after a photo has been taken. The phone and the camera link with each other via wifi, meaning you can’t browse the web whilst the camera is connected, something I don’t mind but other people might.
The live preview of what you’re shooting is obvioulsy a big plus to using the app, allowing you to frame your shot properly and takes so much of the guess work out.
The app also allows you to view and manage the data on the Theta z1, which has been a lifesaver when I realised the internal memory on the camera was full and I was out shooting!
The live preview is super cool when using it, it gives you a full 360 view that you can spin around, zoom in onto someones face, or zoom out to give a small planet effect. I love it!

The plugins have been and still are, in my opinion, one of the most impressive features of the camera. To activate a plugin, you first must go to the Theta store, pick the plugins you want to install, download them to your computer and then upload them via USB C to the Theta z1 using the Theta app for mac or windows. You can have three installed at any time on the camera, so pick carefully! The three I currently have are the Dual Fish eye, Time Shift Shooting and Instant Night Snap. I’ll only talk about the Dual Fish Eye here though as I feel it unlocks the potential of the Theta Z1 like no other pluging

Once the plug in of your choice has been uploaded to the camera, you have to select it. Do this by holding down the fn button until the plugin screen comes up, scroll using the fn button again and then click the shutter button to choose the plugin. Note, the app doesn’t work when plugins are activated, which is great for times when the app and the camera don’t want to play nice with each other.

The Dual Fish Eye plugin was my saviour in the early days and I still use it more often than not. There are several setting within the plugin which allow you to choose file format, jpg or hdr or both, allows you to pick how many shots you want (each bracketed by 0.5 exposure and up to 9 shots), allows you to choose whether you want a HDR image and also gives you the option to set a 10 second self timer. Made by a third party developer which gives support, it’s truly an incredible plug in. I set it up to take 9 HDR-DNG shots with the 10 second self timer to allow me to run out the shot (if this isn’t possible, I take two shots and move each side of the camera and then do some magic in post to erase myself). It takes about 30 seconds to take 9 shots, process them and then stack them into one image. When I download it on my computer and look at it in lightroom, I have such a wide amount of dynamic range that allows me to push the limits of the image. I’ve never seen any camera that does all of this at a push of one button and I know I’m going on now, but it really is a feat of technology, for something so small too! Big shoutout to Hirota for this! https://sites.google.com/view/h360/top

Image Quality

If you want to compare the Theta z1 with a high end DLSR, it’s obvious who’s going to come out on top. But I still think the theta Z1 punches above its weight. The images are sharp, even at stitch lines, have great colour and the automatic settings ensure (as best as the camera is able to) that over exposed areas are pulled down so the data in the image isn’t lost. There are some instances of purple fringing, especialy around trees and windows that can be fixed in post, but it would be great if these things didn’t exist in the first place. I have heard in the forums that this is dependant on your camera as some people suffer from it more than others. The 4k video is a little fuzzy at times, but I can’t really complain as I’m using it mostly for photographs although I have started to use the video feature more and more. The audio is really impressive and I was surprised just how sensitive the microphones were. Having 4 channels means that the audio is directional, so when viewed in VR with some headphones, you get a real sense of the environment.
I use several pieces of software in post to get the most out of the images. Sharpen AI, Noise Reduction AI and Gigapixel AI, whilst they aren’t perfect, they do manage to make the image higher quality and Gigapixel increases the size of the image by 600% without any loss of quality. This is really great for viewing in VR as ideally, you want the image to be the highest quality possible. I’ll do a seperate post for post (production) to better explain how I get from shooting to the finished product at some point.

Verdict

If you’re thinking of buying a Theta Z1, there are some things to consider. It’s one of the highest end models on the market right now and is in high demand, meaning that it will set you back. £1000 for a brand new model, although I paid under half of that for a fully refurbished ex display model that I haven’t had any problems with, so it’s worth looking around.
After 6 months, I find myself using the Theta z1 more and more, even surpassing the use of my DLSR. I love the fact that the image is now immersive and can be explored in many ways, rather than being a static image, it’s now something you can be engaged with.
The Z1 is a compact piece of kit that pulls well above its weight when it comes to tech. The app issues seems to have been fixed and the fringing is no big deal if you know how to fix it. Holding it in the hand, you can feel that it’s a special piece of tech and everyone I show it to are impressed and curios about it.
The thing that I’d like to see more of is official merch for it. While the theta z1 comes with a softcase, a hardcase would be great. I’m currently using the softcase and an old glasses case to keep it safe from knocks and bumps whilst i wait for a case from china. There’s an underwater case you can buy which would be pretty cool to have if that’s  your thing.

All in all, I couldn’t be more impressed with this little camera. It does everything you expect it to and more. The 4 channel spatial audio was a nice surprise as well as the extra functionality that the plug ins enable you to have.
10/10 would buy again



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VR Photography Software

I’ve fully entered into the foray of VR 360 photography. I’ve been shooting on my Pixel 4a5g, using the photosphere feature to stitch photos together. This method, despite it being an inbuilt feature of my phone, proved very effective. During the lockdown, I managed to get some fantastic photos of places that, ordinarily, would be full of people. Places like museums, galleries, parks and streets. It really was a unique time. My favourite shots came from the Victoria and Albert Design museum.



Using my phone, although effective, took time and precision. I have to stand very still whilst the phone maps a 360 environment onto my phone using rectangles. Each rectangle would be blank until I lined my phone up with the middle of the rectangle when it would then automatically expose and shoot. The automatic exposure was great because it meant that I could have super bright parts of the image and really dark areas and they would both be correctly exposed. Although it did require a few minutes of standing around turning in the spot to capture an entire scene, not good if you’re trying to be discreet!

Using my phone, although effective, took time and precision. I have to stand very still whilst the phone maps a 360 environment onto my phone using rectangles. Each rectangle would be blank until I lined my phone up with the middle of the rectangle when it would then automatically expose and shoot. The automatic exposure was great because it meant that I could have super bright parts of the image and really dark areas and they would both be correctly exposed. Although it did require a few minutes of standing around turning in the spot to capture an entire scene, not good if you’re trying to be discreet!

So in January, I did a fair amount of research and bought the Theta Z1. Theta’s flagship 360 camera model. Usually just shy of £1,000 when bought new, I managed to get mine for less than half of that. It was an ex-display model and has a very tiny paint chip in the body, but nothing that affects its usage. I couldn’t be happier with it. I’ll write more about my experiences with the theta z1 at a later date.

The aim of getting this camera is to make virtual tours. After being inspired by Google arts during the lockdown and seeing some of the amazing things they’ve created which allow people to experience the world from their homes, I knew I wanted to get in on the action. I want to be able to create tours, tell stories and document buildings and places for future generations.

Now I’ve got the camera, I already know how to edit photos (although 360 photo editing requires a slightly different workflow), all I need now is to pick the right software that will build and host my tours. Picking one is no easy task though.

Choosing software is a commitment, make no mistake about it, so it’s important that you understand exactly what you’re paying for before committing. If you’re 12 months into using a tour software and then decide to cancel your subscription, you’re in real danger of losing all the tours you’ve created and having to rebuild them with the new software that you’ve chosen. This is perhaps the biggest dilemma.

Let’s look at 5 different tour providers, the pros and cons of each and then my recommendation at the end of the article.

  • Matterport
  • Panolens
  • Metareal
  • KR Pano
  • Seekbeak

Matterport

Matterport has earned a reputation for being an industry leader in dollhouse creations. Their patented software will render a 3d space that you can view from outside of the space itself. Imagine a photorealistic dollhouse without a roof. You can see all the floors, the furniture, the walls etc, but can walk around the outside, get closer to or further away from, this is one of the big advantages Matterport has over its competitors. The ease of use and collaboration make it a very popular choice amongst 360 photo enthusiasts and professionals. Matterport allows for a wide range of compatible 360 cameras to be used and can even use iPhones to create a 360 space (providing you use their app). The prices start at $0.00 a month for one hosted tour but rise to $69 a month for the professional plan and $309 per month for the business plan. The free option is great if you want to see what features it has and if it’s the right platform for you.
The measurement feature is a really handy tool that really shines in the real estate industry, especially where measurements and floorplans are paramount.
Matterport is great if you’re already into the 360 tour business and are looking to add a professional touch with the dollhouse and the measurement feature can be invaluable. Downsides include a lack of customisation for hotspots, whilst you can embed images, videos and audio, they all need to be attached to a preset hotspot and clicked. This might not be a problem for some, but for those that want a more customised experience, there may be better options.

ProsCons
Has a free membership optionCan get expensive if using it for a hobby
Creates photorealistic dollhousesLack of customisable hotspots
Measures accuratelyRequires two tours if there’s an external property such as a garage
Industry leader with great support
Tours can be made with a phone or tablet

Panolens

Okay, so panolens is less of a software and more of a javascript library used for spherical photos and to create tours. This obviously requires you to know some simple coding in order to build the tours in the first place but in return offers you much greater flexibility once you’ve learned the basics. Panolens is built with coders in mind and probably wouldn’t be suitable if you’re planning on doing many tours with many clients. Panolens relies on the three.js framework to work fully, both scripts can be downloaded easily from the panolens website. Being able to add interactive elements to each picture allows for a more immersive storytelling experience, encouraging the user to fully engage with the project rather than being a passive observer, something that can be very powerful if used correctly. In my opinion, the best thing about panolens is that it’s free. Once you’ve downloaded the scripts, you can create, edit and host your tour wherever you want. There are no monthly fees, no fear of your tours being delisted if you decide to swap providers and you have full control over where it’s hosted and by who.

Whilst there are many examples on panolenses website that showcase the possibilities of Panolens, it’s hard to find real use cases to see what people have made out there in the field. The photos don’t seem to render in very high quality and there seems to be a lack of support when it comes to newcomers. It’s hard to find good youtube tutorials (although they do exist) and it’s a really steep learning curve. If you don’t code, then this one isn’t for you.

ProsCons
Free for lifeRequires knowledge of Javascript
Can be hosted anywhereLack of support and user community
Very customisable
Open-source software

Metareal

Metareals big selling point is that they offer to build the tours for you. That’s right, you upload your photos, edited or not, and they do the rest of the hard work for you. Great if you’re not computer savvy or simply don’t have time. This can be very useful if you want to spend the time you would have spent making the tours, growing your business instead. One of my favourite features of this tour provider is the smooth animation from one frame to the next, almost as though you’re walking through. It really adds a professional touch to the tour. Marketed towards people who want fast tours without much context or information. Metareal is much cheaper than its competitors but you can also see why. I think the reason for the low cost of the plans is that if you want someone to build the tour for you, it’s extra. This extra charge enables them to lower the price of the main service.

At this price, you wouldn’t expect a dollhouse feature, but Metareal really delivers. The dollhouses are photorealistic and could even give Matterport a run for its money. Metareal is a decent buy with a free account available and the most expensive account $39 per month, it should be in the price range of most people. But it’s worth noting that whilst it does have the dollhouse feature, it lacks any other kind of feature that you’d expect to see in 360 tour software.

ProsCons
Metareal will build the tour for youLack of hotspots
Pretty cheap compared to its competitorsAlmost no customisation
Dollhouse feature is pretty goodLacks professionalism seen in other tours
Very easy to use
Good for beginners


KR Pano

A real heavyweight. KR Pano occupies a space in between coding and software. Whilst the licences give you everything you need to get yourself up and running, there are many add ons that you’ll soon want, which all come with their own prices attached to them. But this is what gives KR Pano its strength. The user base that’s constantly growing is always contributing new plugins for KR Pano and therefore functionality is limited to only what your imagination can offer. Whilst KR Pano could be seen as the ultimate solution to everything 360 VR tour related, you have to ask yourself if you have the skills and expertise to fully master this software. If you don’t have experience in coding or building tours, maybe this isn’t the one for you, but if you do, and you’re willing to part with $159 for the basic licence, then I’d recommend it. They have a great forum that is in constant use, has great support and are constantly updating. Whatsmore, because it’s open-source, the amount of add ons one can get for it is ever-expanding. They’ve just added 3d depth maps, meaning dollhouses and even walkthroughs (using directional arrows to walk through like a game character rather than clicking into the next area) are now a reality. It really feels like this is where 360 tours are going but, and I must stress, it’s for people who are really tech-savvy, and for those that are, the learning curve is steep.

ProsCons
One-off licence feeReally steep learning curve
Great forum and support
Open-source
User-contributed plugins

SeekBeak

SeekBeek is something I came across when asking for advice for my 360 photography in one of the Facebook groups I’m a part of, and I’m so happy I did. The creator and owner of SeekBeak are really engaged with his community and answers most questions personally. The community is small, but growing and the support is second to none. SeekBeak itself took me totally by surprise. The ease of use, the customisation and the low price were all huge positive factors for me. I’ve used the two-week free tour available and have got some of the best results of any tour provider I’ve used. It offers polygon hotspot shapes, meaning you can create a layer over a part of the image which when clicked, will open up a variety of different things, for interaction and storytelling, this wins hands down.

Whilst not a giant like Matterport, SeekBeak offers unrivalled support. The tour creator is in-browser and all photos get stored on SeekBeaks servers, allowing for quick loading times and ease of mind because you know everything is going to be backed up. For a personal account, you can expect to pay $14 per month which gets you unlimited tours and photo uploads and for a business account, the price rises to $49 per month. Little added features like a QR code generator and shortcode make this tour provider perfect for use with clients as it’s so easy to share.

ProsCons
Great supportNONE!
Simple to use
Good price
Highly customisable


Summary

There are many more 360 tour providers out there and I’ve only gone through 5, but I hoped to have offered a range of different tours for different suitabilities. Panolens is a great lightweight system that requires some Javascript knowledge to get to work, whilst Matterport is a real heavy hitter which comes with the prestige of the name and along with it, a hefty price tag. Depending on what you want, will ultimately depend on what you choose to use.

My two recommendations are SeekBeak and KR Pano. KR Pano is truly the ultimate when it comes to customisation and with an absolute army of geeks adding functionality to it, there’s nothing it can’t do. However, if you’re looking for a smooth experience where everything is hosted for you and the interface is easy and streamlined, you can’t beat SeekBeak.

QR Codes

What times we live in. QR codes have gone from being something pretty fiddly that is a nuisance to use to becoming something that we see and need to scan every time we walk into somewhere new (track and trace anyone?)

Now the world is moving towards a new digital age, ushered in faster than we thought due to covid, QR codes are something we’ve all had to get used to.

As it turns out, QR codes are a fantastic way to allow people to view your content quickly. They don’t have to copy a webpage down, type anything out, photograph your card for later etc… All they have to do is to point their camera on their phone at the QR code and click the link that appears. Simple!

QR codes are so great because of their versatility. As mentioned before, we use them to check into locations, we can use them instead of physical menus, have our profiles linked to them or, as I saw the other day, just have a picture of a dog with a moustache linked to a QR code.

When designing my business card, I’ve decided that it was simpler and, in my eyes, more impressive, to have a QR code on the back with a small slogan, instead of trying to cramp everything onto the back of the card. The fact that QR codes work in any colour (provided the background has a high contrast) means that, for a designer, the options are limitless.

Some websites even provide you with different styles of QR codes to choose from. Ones with rounder edges, ones with logos in the middle and more ‘traditionally’ looking ones. There is a great deal of many websites that provide you with QR codes, but InDesign also has an inbuilt feature that you can use to link to your published work.

All you have to do to access the QR maker on InDesign is navigate to the menu then click object. On the submenu, click ‘Generate QR code’. From there, pick what type you want and then insert it into your document. You can choose colours, choose to update your code and many other things from within InDesign.

My favourite thing about InDesign is that if it links to a website, you can update and change the website and providing the URL doesn’t change, the code will always link to the most updated version of the site. A clear advantage over having anything in print.

Infographics

Infographics are a great way to present information and can be used in nearly all aspects of society, from school to business meetings. It helps breaks up the monotomy of date in a fun and visual way.

To make my infographic, I first decided on what it was that I wanted to talk about which was easy enough. I have a big thing for space and had been learning about a star called Betleguise recently so decided to make it about that.

I then decided what kind of layout I wanted, portrait or landscape, square, thin and long or fat and short. I opted for a long and thin layout as my vision was to have a rocket ship heading towards the star, with the star at the top and the rocket at the bottom.

For the background, I used the gradient tool in PaintShop to graduate from a. lighter colour to a darker colour (like when you leave earth to go to space), and then used a scatter painter brush to add effects to it.

The line that goes from the rocket to the star is modelled on what a light sabre looks like because of space.

My Font

Desigining a Font is much easier than I expected, although a good font takes time and hardwork and many follow specific mathmatical structures.

For my font, I used indesign, a tool that I’m still getting used too. This powerful application is great though and as I’ve got more comfortable using it, I’ve found making my font easier.

I decided that my font was going to be kina abstract as well as being relatively simple in that I chose to only use straight lines.

The font is based on an equalitrial triangle, as I think this is the best shape for reasons unknown. Each letter began life as a series of triangles. I slowly changed their size, added more triangles as needed, and eventually subtracted lines from the sides of the triangles that I didn’t need. The end result is something that I’m pretty happy with. Here is some of what I’ve been working on…

The Cost of Fashion: More Than Money

The 2020’s are proving  to be one of the most environmentally decisive decades that humanity has ever faced. The reality of climate change can no longer be ignored, and its impact is  felt across the globe, from stronger hurricanes in America, biblical rainfall in Europe, long-lasting dry spells for much of Africa and Asia and raging forest fires in Australia. Nobody is immune from these effects, but it is only a small part of the world that is responsible for the majority of the damage.

At the same time, the impact of documentaries such as 2014’s  Cowspiracy and it’s sister documentary Seaspiracy (2021) , have successfully focused the public’s attention on the environmental impact of the food industry. These documentaries are brilliant at bringing attention to the fact that our individual choices have a real impact on the environment. We can help the combined effort to reduce carbon emissions and destruction of natural resources by simply choosing different things to eat. 

The Facts – Environment 

Most people know that fashion is ‘bad’ for the environment, but how many people know the true cost of their fashion choices? The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry on the planet, second only to oil manufacturing, and accounts for 10% of all global emissions. That’s more than all planes and ship emissions combined. On average, a single European consumer will contribute 645kg of Co2 per year in their clothes purchases alone. 

Many clothes are manufactured in developing nations where clean water is often a scarce resource.  Yet manufacturing a cotton t-shirt, t takes 2,700 litres of water,  the equivalent of what one person would consume in two and half years. Much of this water will be used in the cotton-growing process, combined with fertilisers and other chemicals that reduce pests; the rest will be used to wash and dye the fabric. These chemical compounds run off the cotton fields and find their way into the drinking water and ecosystem. These developing nations lack the political power and economic resilience to put hard regulations on industries that many people depend on for their livelihoods. Even more shocking is that of all the clothes imported to Europe, only around 1% of those thrown away end up being recycled. The rest are either sent to landfill or burnt at a rate of 1 truckload per second. 

Fast Fashion – Human Cost

In the ‘70s and  ‘80s, clothing brands used to release two seasonal lines per year;  in 2021 brands are releasing lines and sublines at an average rate of just under one per week. This constant churning out of textiles and clothes means that consumers have ever more choice whilst cheap overseas production costs keep prices low. . Industrial disasters  such as the 2013 Dkaka garment factory collapse, where 1,134 lost their lives due to poor working conditions, are not uncommon, but rarely make headlines in western countries. The cheap cost of clothing is paid for by poor working conditions, cheap labour, and a reduction in the quality of clothing people buy. This lack of quality creates a feedback loop, whereby after several washes, clothing loses its shape or colour, and people are forced to buy even more. In the UK, there are laws to protect workers:maximum hours, minimum wage, a right to safe working conditions – rights that more often than not are not enjoyed by the people producing the clothes on our backs. 

A Generation Apart

Susan Squire, 43 from Lichfield who works in Higher Education  grew up in the ‘80s and ‘90s before fast fashion took off. She recalls being a teenager, window shopping for clothes that she knew she wouldn’t be able to afford without some serious saving. “Levis were the thing to be seen in. But it wasn’t something that you could pop into a shop and get, especially when you lived off pocket money! I saved up for around 2 months for a pair when I was 16 and then lived in them.” 

She compares her experience to shopping to what she sees today: “You go into shops like H&M, and some of the clothes look really good for the price, but the material is second class…” “What really shocks me is how cheap everything is – clothes cost so much less now. 30 years ago a top from a high street chain was usually around $30. The same item today would cost the same or less – someone, somewhere is paying the price for that  I try to only buy things I really like and will get wear out of and I don’t mind paying more for quality, but the high street is geared towards cheap and disposable. Things aren’t made with a view to lasting more than one season and people don’t care because it’s cheap and easily replaced.  Since 1980, yearly global emissions have nearly doubled, going from 19.7billion tonnes to 36.4 billion tonnes, and 350,000 tonnes of clothing gets sent to landfill each year in the UK alone. (Source: https://ourworldindata.org/co2-and-other-greenhouse-gas-emissions)

NHS Nurse Poppy Taylor, 26 from Bloxwich is concerned about the environmental impact of fast fashion:  “I know things are bad, I eat less meat and try to  be more conscious with my shopping choices.” However, sometimes cheap and convenient wins out: “If it’s a big night out, then I’ll go into somewhere like Topshop and find a nice black dress. It’s cheap and looks nice, so I don’t mind that I’ll only get one use out of it.  I don’t throw things away very often. I always advertise the clothes online or if they don’t sell, I donate them to charity and it goes on to have another life”. Yet 25% of clothes donated to charity in the UK get sent to landfill.  A further 40% – 50% are  exported to developing nations and their thriving second-hand clothing markets. Ghana is one such country that receives Britain’s second-hand clothes, but the poor quality of clothing not made to last means that 40% is unsellable and sent straight to landfill.

What Can You Do?

There are a number of things consumers can do to reduce the environmental impact of your fashion choices. Charity shops have peaked in recent years, with 11,000 outlets  on the highstreets of Britain. The benefits of shopping in charity shops are enormous. Discounted designer garments are often found and are usually of great quality. This means that somebody could potentially cherish a charity shop find for years to come whilst helping support charities focusing on  causes such as homelessness, poverty and domestic violence. They also break the cycle of fast fashion by taking a step away from it. Accountant Jack O’Grady, 27, Cannock, says that he can’t remember the last time he bought new clothes and yet he’s constantly told he dresses really well, “Charity shops are great because you get to choose your own style. There’s only one of each item, so you know the chances of seeing someone wearing the same shirt as you in a club are pretty low. That actually used to happen a lot when I shopped at Topman and Primark.” 

Another great way to reduce the impact clothing choices have on the environment is to upcycle and mend clothes. With so many tutorials online for free, information has never been easier to access. Whilst some people may throw clothes that have been torn into the rubbish, it’s becoming more fashionable to make them into something new and unique. Instagram page @recycle_store_prague has over 10,000 followers. They take worn and tarnished clothes and make them into something wearable again.

Other ways include buying locally made clothes or even making your own clothes – an investment in a sewing machine and some youtube videos are all you need to get started.  Commit to buying fewer clothes and to wearing them more. The phrase “Buy cheap, buy twice” comes to mind.

As  individuals, the environmental challenges we face as a planet can feel overwhelming  and the actions we take may feel like they have little consequence. But it is important to remember that every purchase you make is a vote for that company. Shop ethically, vote with your wallet where you can, and you will already be contributing to the change you want to see in the world. 

“Be the change you want to see” Ghandi

Sources:

https://ourworldindata.org/co2-and-other-greenhouse-gas-emissionshttps://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2019/633143/EPRS_BRI(2019)633143_EN.pdf

https://www.itv.com/news/2020-02-14/how-the-uk-s-fast-fashion-habits-are-polluting-a-country-halfway-around-the-world

Digital Typography

Typography says everything you need to know about a brand. Next to the logo, it’s perhaps one of the most important decisions a brand can take as it will be one of the main ways a brand communicates with its customers.

A strong brand identity relies on careful thought and practice. A brand will usually have different fonts for different things, one for headers, another for text, another for quotes and maybe another for subheadings etc…

Sans Serif vs Serif


Fonts fall into two distinct categories with many other subcategories. These are serif and sans-serif.
Serifs are the little additional bits you get on the letters, such as The Times Headline. Those tine bits that decorate the letter, they’re serifs.
Sans is Latin for without, so naturally, sans serif, is a type without serif.

The use cases for these types of font vary. When reading font on a screen, it’s clearer to see letters without the serifs, allowing for better readability is key when using small screens.

Serifs are used to convey weight and grandeur, especially when used in big titles. If you look at brands that want to convey a sense of traditionalism, they’ll often use serifs as sans serif are relatively new to the scene. Conversely, more modern brands who want a cleaner look will often vouch for the sans serif.

Font Weight

Another thing to consider is the font-weight. Not all fonts have all weights, but most will have some. Something we’re all familiar with is the bold type, used by many to highlight certain words in a text and easy to use when in a word document. Weight can also go the other way though, making something lighter means to thin words out rather than have them heavy

Short Film – Specs

The first time I’ve ever tried to film and edit anything, and I was pretty happy with my result, although there are some takeaways that I’ll use to build upon in the future.

My film was slightly comical, based in my London Flat. It followed me waking up, crossing things off my to-do list and trying to avoid an existential crisis (something that I fight off every day!). There was only one character, myself, but my internal monologue made it as if I were having a conversation with two people.

I used final cut pro as I find the software more streamlined and easier to use than adobe premiere pro. Plus, I had just bought my first ever Mac so wanted to try everything apple, obviously! (The free trial of final cut also helped persuade me)

Things I’d change about this movie would be the lighting. I need more of it! It was kind of difficult though as I was limited to what lights I had available in my flat. I turned up the exposure on final cut but the resulting image was grainy. Another workaround would be to open the aperture on my camera, although this would add to the depth of field, something I wanted to avoid. Also, my camera is a very entry-level Nikon. It’s great for photography but isn’t well known for its filming capabilities.

The sound is another thing I will have to consider for future projects. The final result was muffled slightly and you couldn’t always tell what I was saying. However, the university has provided us with microphones, and although they aren’t exactly professional spec, it works much better than my camera microphone.

Find the video here

What is Digital Media?

Simply put, digital media is any type of media that can be viewed or listened with the use of a screen. It can be broken down into its binary format and placed online for all to see. With the world turning more and more digital as time goes on (20 years ago, nobody would have imagined the rise of smartphones), it’s perhaps more important to be acquainted with digital media, how it affects our lives and the benefits it can bring us, especially when wanting to learn new skills.

One of the huge advantages, for me anyway, is that a piece of digital media can transcend time and space. An article published in a newspaper can be viewed at any time, sure, but this usually means having to go to an archive library and searching, for what could be hours, for the piece you’re looking for.

The beauty of digital media is once it’s online, it can remain there forever (as long as the server the piece is hosted on remains intact). Anyone from anywhere in the world can access your piece, whether it’s written, a video or photographs. It binds people the world over and is timeless. Someone in Korea, 20 years from now, could be reading this very piece. Truly amazing when you think that in recent history the best way to share information was a messenger on a horse.

Digital media includes many art forms. From film to poetry and collaboration has never been easier. If you want to share a vision of a film you’re making with a videographer in the USA, for example, this can be done providing you both have a good internet connection.

Another huge advantage that digital media provides us with is that you can constantly edit a piece. This is really useful when writing a developing story for an online publisher. If there’s breaking news that you’ve been hired to write an article for, the story is obviously going to develop. Digital media allows you to add details and edit your mistakes, something previously impossible when it comes to print.

I love the opportunity that digital media provides people. The barriers to access are fairly limited and therefore more people are able to participate in art, something which was gatekeepers for such a long time by the elite. You make a piece of work and you have a potential audience of billions. A favourite story of mine comes from youtube. An English guy began making horror shorts and uploading his work regularly. Since he started, he’s been picked up by a major movie company in LA and now works on blockbusters, a dream come true for sure! Although, he’s not the only one to have found fame and fortune through the internet. Justin Bieber was originally found on youtube and now he’s a household name. Truly incredible.

Digital media is a gateway to so many opportunities, from coding to graphic design, there’s almost no area of life that is untouched by this format. The page you’re on now, the theme I’m using for this blog, the magazine covers we love to read, all reply on people knowing and using digital media to create something that a user can enjoy. Sometimes people will make statements with their work, like any other art form, but it’s more than just that. Take coding for example; it’s a way to build programs, software, user interfaces and so much more. Whilst relying on technical skills to produce these pieces (namely maths), the result is something tangible that users must find it easy to interact with. If not, then you must go back to the drawing board and make it so.

Now, there are many ways to get into digital media and depending on what you want to create, will depend on what program or software you should familiarise yourself with. If you want to learn to code, for example, there are great courses for free online (such as Codecademy) and many websites you can use to get started (like codepen). These enable anyway with the will to get started on any project they want. As well as coding, there’s a crazy amount of youtube videos for literally everything. As mentioned previously, with the right will, you can learn nearly anything you want on the internet for free.

The internet truly rocks!