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BCM 214

MARK214 – Digital Artefact

MARK214 – Digital Artefact’s contextual statement

In contemporary society, robots are becoming more commonplace in performing tasks to assist humans in their daily endeavours. Artificial Intelligence humanoids are currently under development to take this interaction to the next level.

I decided to make a 60-second video resembling a television and/or internet advertisement derived from the robot shopper outlined in the pitch, but which demonstrates the humanoid of the future.

For the advertisement, I expanded on some of the Robot Shopper MARK214’s features and I invented others. The video shows the android/robot cross Markey, assisting supermarket shoppers, both personally and online. Unlike the pitch, I decided Markey is a sophisticated, artificial intelligence, (AI), android robot who looks, “more human than human”, (Blade Runner 1982). He dresses like a regular customer, and communicates verbally, non-verbally and via the written word during his interactions. Such, first generation, more simplistic humanoids are under development in Japan (Inventions World 2018) and Hong Kong.(Hennessy 2021)

In accordance with this expanded concept, I planned the video, producing a storyboard with the plot, dialogue, and camera techniques. The filming took place late at night in Coles, Wollongong. I asked three of my friends to participate and acquainted them with the storyboard’s content.

Though not mentioned in the pitch, and in keeping with his humanoid/robot cross features, I decided Markey should have an electronic screen for customers to type into, like the current, more traditional looking Russian robot, Promobot. (Promobot, Russia 2018)

This proved unworkable because I could not mount a tablet on my chest. I then decided to compensate for this by injecting some slightly stilted movements into Markey’s actions, to make him more robot-like when I played the role in the film.

There were a few problems with the filming. I made a name tag with, “Goode Supermarkets, Markey Robot Shopper”. Unfortunately, the camera’s light exposure was not adjusted to the very bright, in-store light conditions, (due to the inexperience of a stand-in videographer), which and made the name tag unreadable. 

However, in my view, the strong, artificial light gave the footage a surreal, lack of definition. But due to this, I thought I would refilm everything. When I was editing, I decided the light conditions worked in a strange way by giving the video an interesting artistic, effect, symbolic of our utopian future. The finished product was visually unlike the usual, boring supermarket advertisement, but still effectively communicated the message.

Unlike the pitch and aligning with predicted, future highly elaborate androids, Markey can make conversation and understand requests and instructions and I wanted to depict this in the film. However, some dialogue was slightly inaudible because the camera did not have an attachable, adjustable microphone. It picked up background noise, which I was unable to filter out during editing. I compensated for this by adding subtitles regarding how Markey functions.

For the ‘ordering online shopping’ segment, I used the ‘disguised’ Coles app. I used the fast-forward technique again here to communicate how speedy Markey’s online service is.

The video production has taught me that to incorporate new/expanded concepts not mentioned in the pitch, I need to plan and film earlier, be more directive, use better sound and ensure better light conditions. This would improve the overall filming technique and produce a more visually traditional video with clearer dialogue.

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