The Prospect and Potential of TikTok in Documentary Theory and Practice // A Smartphone documentation to preserve a vibrant Culture in Ghana (Africa)

october, 2019

17oct3:30 pm5:00 pmThe Prospect and Potential of TikTok in Documentary Theory and Practice // A Smartphone documentation to preserve a vibrant Culture in Ghana (Africa)Shuai Li // Felix Amofa Gyebi

Event Details

Join us for these presentations by two of our PhD candidates will be talking about their PhD research.

The Prospect and Potential of TikTok in Documentary Theory and Practice
(PhD by Artefact and Exegesis)
– Shuai Li (Swinburne University of Technology, Faculty of Health, Arts and Design)

This practice-led research explores the short form video (15 – 60 seconds) for documentary production with a focus on city films. Ice City Harbin will develop a storytelling format which is original for emerging mobile networked media. This PhD research applies a creative arts method and will involve the production of a series of short networked videos on the video sharing platform TikTok. The theoretical framework will draw upon the concept “Cinema of Attractions” introduced by Tom Gunning (1990) and will be further refined through the “Mobile Cinema of Attractions” (Ok, 2012). The early cinema prior to 1907 as much as contemporary TikTok videos spark the curiosity of audiences through the magic moments, tricks or fancy images rather than the narrative constructs.

Ice City Harbin will be composed of two parts. One disseminated via TikTok and one edited on iPhone. With the introduction of Adobe Premiere Rush and LumaFusion editing and post-production can be conducted anywhere and on location. This research will examine the creative process and will re-define preproduction and postproduction. The linearity will shift to an ephemeral characteristic, which further develops the mobile media aesthetics “This aesthetic emphasizes the importance of location, space and also non-space – being here, being anywhere, but here is where the phone is and not any fixed place.”(Baker, Schleser, & Molga, 2009). Simultaneously, “short online videos shared on social media platforms, or micro-videos, have arisen as a new medium for creative expression”(Redi, OHare, Schifanella, Trevisiol, & Jaimes, 2014). TikTok as a short from video platform, previously known as, has attracted the attention of the young generation and has rapidly expanded globally. The increasingly dynamic mobile media environment recognises network media as a “site of practice” (Miles, 2014).

Shuai Li is a PhD researcher in smartphone filmmaking at Swinburne University of technology. He received his B.A. from Renmin University of China and his M.A. from The University of Melbourne. His background includes live streaming, video editing, color grading. He is Co-Founder of Grandshow video production company based in Melbourne focusing on the video productions in micro film, commercials, news, sports, and music videos.

A Smartphone documentation to preserve a vibrant Culture in Ghana (Africa)
(PhD by Artefact and Exegesis)
Felix Amofa  Gyebi  (Department of Film & Television)

In the last decade, the mobile phone can be described as one of the most disruptive technologies in Africa. The populace in Africa who hitherto had limited to or no access to digital tools, are now exposed to screen production and storytelling through smartphones. As accessible documentary production devices this includes apps for filming and editing. While there are great opportunities for Africa, to date, however, there has been little documentation and engagement of smartphone video applications for documentary filmmaking in Africa. This PhD research project follows a practice-led method and applies the theoretical framework of collaborative documentary filmmaking (Zimmerman & De Michiel 2017, Schleser2012). The research project Trash to Treasure engages the Krobo youth at Upper Manya Krobo District a community in Ghana, West Africa with opportunities to articulate their unique stories into a collaborative smartphone documentary, which explores the recycling of glass into fashionable beads. This presentation explores the book Open Space Documentary framework: A Toolkit for Theory and Practice (Zimmermann et al. 2017) and the concept of Cellphilms (Tomaselli 2009; Oliver 2019) as key theoretical frameworks for this research.

Felix Amofa Gyebi (B.A., Dip., MPhil.)  is a versatile artist and a teacher with vested interest in the use of mixed media to produce artefacts. He is currently a PhD candidate at Swinburne University under FHAD. He is passionate about Emerging Media and Smartphone Filmmaking for the advancement of community engagement through storytelling


(Thursday) 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm


ATC205, Swinburne University of Technology

Burwood Road

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