Category Archives: Thoughts/Ideas

Reading Movies

After reading Roger Ebert’s article, “How to Read a Movie” I started mentally analyzing any movie I had ever watched, wondering if the rules he found from his extensive experience really held true. And it did! I had never analyzed a movie in the manner Ebert describes, but as I imagined my favorite scenes from movies I saw that his positive-negative trend held true as did the various movements he describes. Another concept I found intriguing was the “Rule of Thirds” because I never noticed how a slight displacement of a character changes how we feel watching the film because of the way we understand the scene unfolding.

Next, I watched several clips. The first, “Hitchcock Loves Bikinis” demonstrates how a pure cinematics works. His demonstration uses a clip of a mans expression when he sees a woman holding a child and them exchanges the clip of a woman holding a child to a woman in a bikini, the mans facial expression is not edited. He explains how when we see the man smile from looking at the child we define him as a sympathetic, kind character. However, when the central clip is exchanged and the mans expression is still the same we describe him as a “dirty old man” instead of the gentleman of before. This helps us understand how film generates ideas in the minds of the audience using societal cues.

The second clip I watched, One-Point Perspectives by Kubrick, is a string of various clips from films showing a literal one-point of view for the viewer, they are all images of things seen from only one angle. For example, there is a image of a firing squad about to shoot three criminals (assumed), but we see it only from the view of the firing squad, not from the view of the criminals about to be shot at. This video demonstrates how the use of film creation technique makes the audience feel as though a character is directly talking to them, like they are following a character down a hallway, or even make them feel like they are part of the film. It makes the audience almost fall into a trance, whether they are following the main character into a room they suspect holds a threat or as if they are in control of a line of militia about to kill criminals.

Look, Listen, Analyze

Look, Listen, Analyze

Analyze the camera work: The camera in this scene switches to three different views. One, of the broadcasters which seems to be the main focus of the scene. Two, the workers who are working behind the scenes like the camera guy, the sound people, and the director. Three, a person who seems to somehow controlling one of the broadcasters and the set. He’s able to type different things onto the prompt without an actual keyboard.The broadcaster then starts to mimic everything he does. The lighting seems normal, or as expected it would be since the scene occurs in a newsroom. There are focal lights on the broadcasters, minimal lighting in the control room, and a similar, if not darker lighting in the scene around the man manipulating the broadcaster.

Analyze the audio track: The scene of the broadcasters seems like its a normal broadcast until the guy broadcaster starts make these strange and unusual noises. He drinks some water and coughs and everything seems all better. But things start to get worse he starts to fart uncontrollably. He starts back again when he try’s to talk but he can’t and he starts makes all these weird noises again. There’s no background music except at the very beginning of the scene when the news starts. No really sound effects just the broadcaster making weird noises.

Put it all together: While watching the video with sound I notice why they switched angles when they did. You can tell what Bruce is doing in the background since he’s not talking but the broadcaster is doing everything he does. It’s defiantly better with both elements than just one since you using two senses and not just one.

Ebert’s Themes: While watching this using techniques of film reading, you can notice the rules clearly placed. The scene begins with one man pushing a mail cart outside a room displaying the news at the station he works. He walks across the stage from the right and finally rests on the left, on the negative, weak axis. You can also see another trend, as the broadcaster is centered on by the camera he is centered and as Ebert said, it looks like a mugshot. We also see that, the background is much less emphasized, and even blurred out in comparison to the foreground– as Ebert explained occurs. A major visual aspect shown here that is reviewed by Ebert is the camera angle, it drops dramatically when the character manipulating the broadcaster starts changing the prompter without the use of a camera– giving him a god complex. If you’ve ever seen the movie the clip is from, the character is supposed to actually be God so that camera movement exaggerates that.

Summary of the radio story

Episode 504: How I got Into College

In this audio story on the radio, they used different audio techniques to help convey the story. The first thing I notice listening to the story was the music in the background. I felt like the music didn’t really help in telling the story I felt like it was more of a distraction. It didn’t help draw me into the story. The second thing I notice which I thought help tell the story was the different dialogue that was recorded from college students answering questions from someone interviewing them. It gave a different voice then just the storyteller the entire time and some things the storyteller could relate to. The only thing that I didn’t like about it was the sound effects in the background while they were talking. I thought it was distracting from what the person was talking about. The last technique I notice was the different tones he used throughout the story and I felt this helped understand and enjoy the story more. I feel like I get drawn into the story more when people use this technique. Two things I wish they did differently is not use any sound affects at all because I think the story would have been told better without them or maybe if the storyteller had a conversation with himself so he could reflect on himself and not just other people.

Audio Storytelling Summary

Ira Glass on This American Life

While watching part 1 of Ira Glass’ series on storytelling, I learned that by using an anecdote when telling a story even the most boring topic can become exciting to the listeners. Basically, an anecdote is a version of storytelling in which the story becomes a sequence of events instead of a basic topic sentence, it’s more like a cause-and-effect storyline. Glass uses an example of a stupendously boring story of a man waking up to a quiet house. Yet, instead of saying, “the man woke to a quiet house” he uses more suspenseful phrases such as, “its unusually quiet as he walks down the stairs.” As he says, we start our stories with an action and bait to raise questions in the mind of the listener then later answering them to give shape to the story to keep the listener entertained. He states that we have multiple basic building blocks, the anecdote and the moment of reflection in the mind of the reader. An important thought from the video is that a story is only worthwhile if the anecdote is interesting while also having an equally exciting moment of reflection making the story worthwhile.

In watching part 2 of Ira Glass’ video on storytelling I learned how difficult and time consuming finding a decent story and that it’s our job as the storyteller to have the courage to kill a story. We also have to be, as he says, ruthless with a story to find the good parts of it and to remove the excess. He also says that we have to accept failure because a lot of what we work on will not always turn out in our favor.

Jad Abumrad on Radiolab

In “How Radio Creates Emphaty” Abumrad opens with a statement of how much he loves television because of it’s visual aspect, but adores radio because it uses co-authorship to allow empathy to fill the gap he calls “picturelessness”. He explains that the goal of radio is to create a connection with the listeners using our voices to turn sound into images, which he thinks is why radio never dies.

Reflection on the Vignelli Cannon

For this assignment we had to read a book called Vignelli Cannon by Massimo Vignelli. Before I began I looked through how long the book was and realized that its going to take me awhile to read. But as I was reading I found it quick to read because it was really interesting. The author broke the book up into different sections based off topic he was talking about. I believe part one stood out more to me than part two. Part one talked about the intangibles. When Massimo was talking about discipline one line stood out to me that I really like which stated “Every detail is important because the end result is the sum of all the details involved in the creative process no matter what we are doing (pg 15).” I also learned a lot from the Equity category. When he was talking about companies logos changing I agree that the old one was what people are going to remember them as not the new one. I strongly agree when he says “When a logo has been in the public domain for more than fifty years it becomes a classic, a landmark, a respectable entity and there is no reason to throw it away and substitute it with a new concoction, regardless of how well it has been designed (pg 31).” Finally from this short book I feel like  i learned valuable knowledge that will not only help me in this digital storytelling class but in life when viewing and creating art.