Friday, December 7, 2012


Where did the science fiction genre come from? Well the 1927 Metropolis film is a stylized and visually stunning silent film set in a dystopian future. It is because of director Fritz Lang's German masterpiece that brought the life to my favorite genre of science fiction. While searching YouTube, I noticed that there were many different versions on the Metropolis films. However, I did find a video that claimed they had as much of the original, including the original music, intact. 

The futuristic city is pictured as an industrial world with skyscrapers and bridges and appears to be divided or stratified into an upper, elite, privileged class of powerful industrialists and a subterranean, oppressed worker force. This directly correlates with what is happening in the time this film is being created. At the time, the Industrial Revolution was in its prime, the economy was falling to the rise of fascism in a pre-Hitler Germany and the rise of the American labor movement and unions during the 1920s due to oppressive working conditions. It also reflects the ongoing struggle between light and dark, good and evil, like in my favorite films of science fiction.

Additionally, Lang can be considered a profit of and the creator of science fiction. His vision is very impressive, and stands out as its own master piece next films that would later be inspired by his film. For example, Blade Runner is strikingly similar to the world and problems that Lang envisioned in his film. However, some of the most renowned players of science fiction did not care for Lang’s film. For example, while researching Metropolis, I stumbled onto a review by H.G. Wells himself. Throughout his review, he exhibits his distaste for “silliness” of the film. He also goes on to elaborate on how this film may have been copied from his own vision “When The Sleeper Wakes.” However, if you like the movie or not it has become more common for the Metropolis to be more easily admired than enjoyed.

Chuck Roberts-Year of China

            Chuck Roberts is a former CNN news anchor and has had the opportunity to teach media classes in China. Learning about his experiences was entertaining. It is interesting to find out all the differences another country has compared to our own. His students were not English speaking and he had to have a mandarin translator to relay the information he was teaching. This meant that he would have to speak a sentence, pause, wait for the translator to repeat the message, and then he could continue on with his lesson. That is something you would not find in America very often. That would be a lot of work and dedication to sit through a class with a professor you did not even have a common language with. Sadly, most American students would not be willing to go this extra mile and would not experience classes like this. Another thing I found interesting was the Chinese perception of Americans. He shared with us that Americans are seen as almost celebrities over there. They are not accustomed to seeing blonde haired people and will even take pictures with them if they come across them. This would be very odd for us to do since we are so used to seeing many differences in each person all over the county. As he described the way meals went in China, it was also a very big difference. While we may all sit around the dinner table and pass around food to each other, it would almost always be just enough food with hardly any leftovers. The way he was describing it was that there was obviously more food prepared and set out in front of them than there were people to eat it. Overall I really enjoyed Chuck Robert’s presentation. It was clear that he enjoyed what he was doing and loved being over there. He is even still in contact with one of his students over there. They will email him for advice on their works and even though they share no common language, it is still possible for them to communicate.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Chinese Cinema

“I would rather drift by your side than enter heaven without you. Because of your love, I will never be a lonely spirit.” This beautiful line would have never been known to me until I watched the film, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It has been very invigorating year at my University; full of beautiful art and culture of China. Personally, I have had a very limited familiarity with Chinese cinema and only now getting the chance experience them. As a result, in this blog I will share my thoughts on Chinese cinematic film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

                As my first choice of choosing a Chinese film, I found the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon to be one of my favorites. Although the film was an American-Chinese/Taiwanese co-production, I felt that the film really represented a great example of Chinese cinema.  While watching the film, I found the amount of passion the actors put forth into the film to be very intriguing. In this sense, the film gave off a more realistic feel which allowed me to immerse myself in their world.  I personally found the martial arts sequences to some of best cinematic shots I have ever seen. Back in the 90’s, I fell in love with the Matrix films because of it immense fighting scenes and in which the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon film matched almost completely. While digging up some history on the film, I found that the Matrix films received much of its influence from the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and would be used by other films to come.

                To add to the sense of realism is the amount of stunning cinematography shot throughout the film. The film was not afraid to show off many wide shots to capture the scenery that surrounded the actors. They also used exceptionally well place medium shots and close ups that allows the audience to see the dedication the actors had in the film. Furthermore, the cinematography of the fight scenes that put you on the edge of a sword all the way to the top of trees is truly stunning.  The amazing fight scene between Ziyi Zhang and Michelle Yeoh is probably the best example I could find that shows a variety of cinematography at its best. This clip shows a fight scene that virtually seamless of editing or cuts that would have taken place within the production.

                The cinematography maybe stunning, but it would be very bland if it did not capture mise-en-scene that went along with the film. These are the elements that make up land scape of the film in which the director did very well in adding. During the course of the film, our actors are surrounded by Chinese culture and architecture that it seems as if this film was just glimpsing the past history of China. Not only did the scenery match the time period, but the clothing that the actors wore was head to toe flawless.  To complete this feeling of realism, the actors would also speak in their own vernacular which matched the language during that time period. Most films like this, especially being partially an American produced film, usually would have these actors speak a broken English language simply for the ease of the audience.

In summary, I am very thankful for the encouragement to study Chinese cinema and how it all got started. Although I am starting off late, I have already been amazed by the beautiful film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Through the elements of mise-en-scene, and cinematography it is no wonder why Crouching Tiger continues to be hailed as one of the greatest and most influential foreign language films in the United States.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Product Placement

Have you ever noticed how much product placement is in a film? While watching a good movie, it may not be as quite obvious; but if you take a second look, particular products will start to stand out at you. Product placement has been around ever since broadcasting has existed. Even through the advancements in technology, product placement has stuck around. In this blog post I will discuss a brief history product placement, disclose their business morals, and share many examples of extreme use in product placement in film.

                Product placement goes way back to the nineteenth century where novels and other books were our only source of media.  Jules Verne, known as a prophet of science today, was one of the first to introduce product placement after his release of his adventure novel Around the World in Eighty Days. Due his amazing success with his novel, major companies flocked to Jules Verne to request that he write in the name of their company in his next novel. Product placement is still used in some books today, particularly in major novels. Furthermore, this was one of the earliest recorded instance of product placement and has come a long way from then.
                Is it morally acceptable to influence consumers through product placement in films in order to sell products? Marketing has been around for years, so can we really say it is wrong? People have always strived to manipulate one another even for the smallest of things.  It’s the soul fact that most of us actually recognize product placements for what they are and in-turn we are not easily influenced. To an extent, product placement is part of our economy. For example people buy new cars and new Iphones more because of marketing.  One moral issue that has caused controversy amongst the industry is the marketing to children. Kids under 14 have not yet developed those filters to recognize when advertisements are targeting them. Advertisements manipulate kids to make them want toys they don't need and eat foods that aren't good for them. Ultimately parents are responsible for what their child does, however Ads are not always trying to sell food or toys. The big controversy in marketing to kids is when they try to make tobacco appeal to teenage kids. As a result, many commercials such as the Budweiser commercials featuring the frogs have been shut down due to it being to kid friendly.
  Through history we have seen many different attempts at product placement. Most films that we see try to keep product placement down to a lower key. However, in recent films product placement has been increasing to the point to be almost obvious in different shots. This occurs when products dominate the screen for a few seconds or have reoccurring appearances throughout the film. For example, the film I, Robot makes heavy use of product placements for Converse trainers, Ovaltine, Audi, FedEx, Dos Equis, and JVC among others, all of them introduced within the first ten minutes of the film. One particularly infamous scene borders into an actual advertisement in which a character compliments Will Smith's character's shoes to which he replies "Converse All-Stars, vintage 2004.”

In my conclusion, if you haven’t noticed the product placement before, you will notice it occur the second time you watch the film. Seeing where product placement started, there is no doubt that we will see more in the future. As a result, product placement has changed and will change as our form of media changes.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Stories unite people; theories divide them.

The Movie Industry

Of all the things to hit in popular culture, none is more recognizable in or mind than the movies. Most Americans instantly recognize images produced by the movies: Charlie Chaplin, the starving prospector inThe Gold Rush, eating his shoe, treating the laces like spaghetti. Recently I watched the documentary “Theses Amazing Shadows,” I was inspired to blog about the film industry and how the industry has changed my life.

These Amazing Shadows is a documentary about the Library of Congress and the National Film Registry. It offered a look inside how films are restored and contains interviews with some of writers and editors of major film industries today. Regarding the importance of film’s societal role as viewed through a cultural and historical lens, I found the quote “Stories unite people; Theories divide them” to be most poignant. Hence, this became the title of my blog. In the documentary, I learned that this registry has copy of almost every film ever made. Needless to say, their collection is very large and the painstaking efforts that must go into restoring those films must be equally as large. It was also sad to hear that before the registry, films would be disposed like common trash because film was not regarded as it is today.

When I think of movie, I personally think how they are cultural artifacts that offer us a chance to see into American cultural and social history. Like a time machine, movies can show us insights into Americans' shifting ideals, fantasies, and preoccupations. The film industry’s history is separated into four main periods: the silent film era, classical Hollywood cinema, New Hollywood, and the contemporary period. While, according to my class book, the Lumiere Brothers are generally credited with the birth of modern cinema, but it has to be American cinema that became the most popluar throughout the idustry. Although, throughout those periods, the film industry would change with the American society. Films would be made to focus on a particular area depending on what was happening at the time in the USA. For example, WWII and after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, films were made to be more patriotic to gain viewers to help America cope. But nothing could prepare America for the revolutionary space opera film of 70s, “Star Wars.”

Out of all the movies that I have come in contact with from the film industry, the amazing space opera known as Star Wars has truly changed my life. I grew up with Star Wars. I had older brothers that were already in love with the Star Wars universe that I easily followed suit. I remember when was a kid watching Star Wars that when I first heard the music I was taken up into a world of adventure, space travel and imagination. I remember watching Luke Skywalker fly down the Death Star, watching it explode and being so excited that I wanted to jump up and down in joy for the success of the Rebels. The music, the visuals and the action were marked into my soul.

Something about the amazing sets and visuals and imagination continued to interest me as I got older. I got books from the library on the artwork, behind-the-scenes, even novels set around the Star wars worlds. Unfortunately or fortunately for my coolness, I never outgrew it. It stirred in me a joy of creating. George Lucas took my places I wanted to go. I didn't just want to visit, though. I wanted to create those places. I wanted to create magical worlds myself. Places of adventure, imagination and creativity. So I decided to pursue a career in film and hope to one day add and be a part of that universe that George Lucas created.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Master Chief Chili

Master Chief knows how to cook! In a documentary with the famed voice actor and radio host, Steve Downes, the fans get the chance to imagine the Chief off duty. In the Master Chief documentary, we follow Downes on a regular day and experience what it’s like as a hero of the suburbs. Throughout this blog, I will elaborate on what aspects the director focused on capturing to make up this killtacular documentary.

            Last Thursday, my professor lectured on what aspects make up a documentary.   One of the elements she expressed was the fact that a documentary must never be staged or re-enacted thus destroying its credibility.  In the Master Chief documentary, the director took the approach on making the film as familiar and simple as possible. In fact, the documentary literaly starts off with static shots of inside Steve Downes’s own home. Continuing to familiarize the film, the director takes the approach on filming Downes simply doing everyday regular things around the house. This includes him cooking and blowing off a telemarketer. I believe this was done to simply tell the story about a regular person could still be regarded as a hero to millions by just being him.

The structure on the documentary takes a very mediocre style which I also believe adds to the simplicity. The documentary begins with a few inserts of family members and Downes himself; simply discussing about his life and the reactions they have had since the halo games. After the introduction we start with Downes heading off to his job at a local radio station where he hosts. While there, we are given short interviews of Steve Downes’s colleagues about their personal relationships with him. Later we are back at his house, where again, we experience Downes as a simple man making his famous Master Chief Chili. The documentary ends with a medium shot of Downes in chair, possibly in his house, giving his final thoughts on his experience with Master Chief Character and how honored he is to give the chief character.

The message in the documentary may not be as clear to those who have not necessarily played the game. For me, however, I have been the Halo games since their release and have clear understanding of the message. If you are fan, then you know how it important the Character Master Chief is to you. All your life you know Master Chief as this stone cold invincible hero and the director knows this fact. He wants to show the Halo fanbase the voice behind the mask. That Steve Downes is still just as human as the players. In Downes final message, he lets us know that he wants the player to be the Master Chief and he will provide the voice. To quote Steve Downes, “I’ll do the talking, you guys do the shooting.

In conclusion, there are many important aspects that make up a documentary. The way the director structured and styled this film allows for more credibility with its more humble simplistic approach. As for the message of the documentary, I believe it was to show the irony of seeing the voice behind the mask and who he really is in the world.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Amelie Cinematography

From a director who created the murky, visionary film "Alien Resurrection,” "Amelie" might appear a little out of place. But once you get chance to see the film; that idea disappears quickly. Although we may not see scary slimy monsters in this film, the director still shows his love with bodily functions, close ups, and frenetic camerawork. In this blog post, I will discuss some of the elements of cinematography that I found interesting throughout the film.

If you have read my other blog on the mise-en-scene of Amelie, you may already have an idea of type of cinematography seen in this film. To begin, one of the most orginal scenes in the film is, well, at the beginning. Amelie's introduction into the picture isn't the normal introduction that usually accompanies the lead's entrance. The director chose to shows a time lapse photography that literally shows a pregnant belly going through the nine months of change, then the actual birth of Amelie. Not only is it a striking visual, but probably the best entrance by a character in some time. It is this attention grabbing scene that gives a hint to the personality of the film to the audience.

Additionally, original cinematography might have ruined this film and would have made imbalance between the style of the film and how the audience perceived it. Through the use of special effects and various camera tricks, the audience can have a better understanding and experience the world of Amelie. I love how the director chose to enhance the scenes with intricate camera placement and visual artifice, almost like he is showing the audience how Amelie sees the world.

In conclusion, without seeing the film, it is not that hard to picture the kind of film you might get into. I for one was not sure what to expect when I saw this film. But with proper cinematography and the amount of humor clashing with reality and make believe, I quickly fell in love.

The mise-en-scene of Amelie

Amelie is a fun, quirky, and a original romantic comedy. Unlike most romantic comedies, this film takes on a whole new style. With bright vibrant colors and quirky situations throughout the film, gives a very unique twist on this story.Throughout this blog, I will discuss the mise-en-scene  elements that make up the bulk in the film.

Upon first encountering the film, I thought the projector might have been malfunctioning. I started messing with the color settings, thinking the film was being over saturated. After some time messing with the settings, I finally realized that the film was suppose to look as if the colors were overly vibrant. According to , another blogger on mise-en-scene of Amelie, he happened to notice that whether it was doors, like Amelie's own which is red on one side or green on the other, clothing, or lighting, red and green dominate the setting. In one particular scene, we see Amelie walking through a subway station and all the lights appear to have somewhat of a green tint. As a result, this causes her environment to appear green. this create almost a imaginary type look for the audience; to me, this resembles Alice in Wonderland, where things don't have to make sense. With this reference, it brings the idea that we are seeing the world in this film through Amelie's eyes ans mind.

To refer to back Kyle Sofianek’s blog on mise-en-scene of Amelie; Kyle states that throughout the movie, the feeling of stepping into Amelie's mind continues as news reports about Amelie herself are featured on the TV she was currently watching. At first, we believe they are just real news reports about Princess Di's death establishing the time period of the story. But, as we continue to watch the tv, it begins to refer to Amelie and Princess D.  We then see Amelie on the TV which is narrating for the audience what Amelie is envisioning. These images or visions depict Amelie idolized in a way for her selfless giving to others but unfortunately it appears that she dies at a young age from working so hard at helping others. As the film progresses, we see another vision on the TV that shows the death of Amelie’s father and how she would suffer knowing she did nothing to help him move on with his life. I believe this gives better evidence of the imaginary world in which we are watching Ameilie’s world through her mind and eyes. 

To quote Kyle Sofianek, he states that “The film as a whole relies on expressionistic elements of mise-en-scene to communicate Amelie's unique love experience.” What he is referring to are mainly the scenes in which we are given a x-ray vison on particular items emphasis on something important. Two such scenes are the moments when we see Amelie sliping a key in her pocket but we are able to see it. The other is when we see the love interest of Amelie and we can see her heart beating and glowing hot red. It is as if they did this to covey a particular plot point in the film or to over exaggerate the importance of the action or object.  Everything from x-ray vision, vibrant colors, and visions shown through a TV, we as the audience get the chance to follow Amelie down the Rabbit whole and experience her world.

In conclusion, never assume that the projector or the TV is messing up the color of the film. Additionally, Amelie is probably one of the most unique romantic comedy films I have ever seen. The film is truly a testament of all the different ways to tell a story through visuals.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Future of Star Wars

Until I can get more details in Disney taking over Lucasfilm and regarding episode 7, I will keep an open mind. This may very well be the breath of fresh air Lucasfilm is looking for. I am sure this will also open more doors for exciting video games and props to build. I am a little concerned on the possibility of recasting the roles of Luke, Han, and Leia if they plan on bringing in those characters. Many hope for a story from the books and comics but an equal amount would like to see a whole new story. I am opened to both ideas and I am just excited for a new Star Wars Trilogy to be back in theaters. 

Here is an Idea, before all you haters judge something, why not wait until something actually gets done writing and come out before you make your ''HATE" remarks for Star Wars and George Lucas. I am tired of all the people who say they are fans of Star Wars but immediately put down the films and the creator of them. I mean, you speak ill of a man (George Lucas) who revolutionized the film business beyond any other single individual in history; the very man who made every film, tv show, and video game that you currently enjoy even possible. He had the mind to improve computer and special effects technology to their current levels (and editing technology as well to point a fact). He was the one who legitimized sci-fi and fantasy films in the first place, making movies like "Aliens" and "Avatar" realistic possibilities. So what, you don't like his movies? It's no reason to hate the poor man or go on and on for years and years and years bashing his pet-projects.

I swear to God, all of you haters think and act like you're 7 years old. If it's not tits and sex all the time, it's hatred and bitching for all eternity. If you're going to hyperventilate every time something you love changes, do me a favor and just jump off a bridge. Less haters in the world would actually solve most of the problems in our society. If only most of the earth's population wasn't living in denial and delusion all the time, maybe people wouldn't go around throttling each other.

I have made so many lifelong friends because of the Star Wars franchise. Lucasfilm is definitely a very special company and I'm so thrilled to see the Star Wars films continue in the very capable hands of Disney. If there is any doubt, look at where they have taken the Marvel films. Congratulations and thanks to Mr. Lucas for sending the Star Wars franchise into overdrive for all of us fans. I think he explains the future of Star Wars perfectly in the short video released today. I'm excited to see the limitless Lucasfilm creations that will be brought to life under the new Disney umbrella. Now lets all go daydream about what they could be dreaming up for STAR WARS EPISODE VII. Thanks Mr. Lucas not only for what you have done but also for what you have opened up to be done...

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Life of Radio

Radio is the first 'modern' media form, and had a huge impact on the history of the 20th century. For the first time information could be broadcast,  it could be received by anyone with the right equipment, without wires. The birth of radio ushers in the era of mass communications. Many people have likened the explosion in radio in the 1920s to what is happening with the internet today. Many enthusiasts are setting up their 'broadcast slot' and sharing their knowledge with similar people. Wireless communication has really come full circle, as more and more people turn to mobile phones and handheld computers that can receive internet transmissions. In this blog post, I will share with you my research on simplicity of past radio broadcast and how it compares with today's radio.

The Golden Age of Radio:
 Radio was an intimate medium that took some getting used to. In the early 1930s, some actors were so scared of microphones that engineers devised lamp-shade covers to make them appear more innocuous. Actors stood very close to each other around the microphone when rehearsing and performing, and often found their bodies pressing close to those of other actors. Consequently, breath fresheners became standard fare for radio performers between the 1930s and 1950s. According to radio historian Robert L. Mott, the breath freshener Sen-Sen was effective for disguising boozy breath during rehearsals and performances. It became so popular that “most actors were afraid to use it for fear of being guilty by association.”

Actors usually received $6 an hour for rehearsals and $15 for a broadcast that was usually fifteen minutes long. Some actors worked on as many as four soap operas a day. Being a sound-effect artist was often nerve-racking and uncomfortable, with artists often standing in two feet of water to get the kinds of splashing sounds the director wanted. The biggest dread was dropping anything accidentally, having an equipment failure, or making some other kind of noticeable mistake. One artist, desperate not to let a sledgehammer hit the floor, put his foot in its path and broke his foot.

Todays Radio:
While watching the documentary “Before the Music Dies,” I was able to get a better idea of where radio has gone today. Before the Music Dies is a collection of interviews and short fragments of music that tells a story of the near impossible challenge facing genuine, soulful, ordinary looking musicians trying to build a career. The main culprit for the difficulties in achieving stardom is revealed to be money. Those more interested in profit than art are now the ones running the radio stations and signing the record company cheques - they bow to the shareholder and instant returns over long term artistic integrity. The argument runs that if artists cannot be allowed to develop their work at their own pace - without the pressure of regular, crowd pleasing releases - there can be no new Dylans, Claptons, Beatles, or Hendrix, as there is no time for new artists to find their sound.

Since the "good old days," radio has not looked back and has become one of the popular mediums of portable entertainment. In the 21st century, technological developments have introduced concepts like internet radio, thereby broadening the horizon. Despite all these new developments, some critics of radio are saying that we are in the end times of music, that there's nothing good being made, however, this usually indicates that they are looking in the wrong places. There's always good music, it's just that you might not like it when you hear it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Before The Rain

Part I:
Last week our class got the chance to watch the film, Before the Rain, before heading off for our Fall Break.First I would like to point out the cinematography that helped transport the audience to the tragedies that takes place with in the film. With wide open shots of monastery to the bustling city streets in London, the he film is visually beautiful.  Now the film itself is very unique. Unlike most films you see in the theaters, “Before the Rain” is set up in three parts that do not traditionally go in chronological order. Needless to say, immediately after watching the film, I was very confused.  It took a second time to watch the film on my own to truly understand what and why the film was produced in that fashion. In the following post, I will discuss different messages within the film and my insight on the theories on the chronological order of the film.

Part II:
Upon watching the film, it did not take long to realize that film was not going in chronological order. At the end of the chapter “Words,” we see the Muslim girl Zamira killed by, what appears to be, her family. After, photos of a dead Zamira show up in the next chapter of “Faces.”  Now this instance would make the audience feel like they are watching a traditional movie but this is contradicted when we are re-acquainted with Zamira in the chapter of “Pictures.” Now according to a review on the film, “The motto of the film was, "The Circle is not Round" seen in graffiti form on a wall during Pictures but actually stands to deliver a message that in life, people and places may change but overshadowing scenarios (such as conflicts) go backward and forward in a cycle.”

"Time never dies. The circle is not round," is the slogan we see at different areas throughout the film. It's spoken by a priest in "Words," and then it's seen as graffiti in "Faces.” According to a blog known as “Criterion Confessions,” he states that “It's a seemingly contradictory statement since the movie is very much a circle, with the ending of the film taking us right back to the beginning.” This slogan may refer to the design of the film and gives some credit to my time traveling theory.  

Out of all the theories of the film, I believe the time travel theory is my favorite. When watching the film, you will notice that there are several story points that are out of place. Time in Before the Rain does not seem to follow the laws of physics and that it doubles back on itself at random. In the chapter "Words," we see Anne looking at photos of Kiril and Zamira before Aleksandar leaves to go back home, but as events will show us, he clearly could have not have taken those photos, at least not by that point in the timeline. After he has left and is on his way to Macedonia, Anne also takes a call for Aleksandar, in which I assumed it was Kiril at first. After watching the film a second time, I am lead to believe that the photographer is actually the uncle he mentioned in London and may very well be the one who was calling. The time travel aspect of the film centers on Aleksandar and his attempt to fix the past. Unfortunately, as time travel movies will show, one can never change the past. Therefore, Alex’s attempt to going back in time accidentally instigates the events he is trying to stop. This has also happened in somewhat of literary sense, as he has tried to return to his childhood home as a way to escape violence and then becomes a part of it.

Again, to refer back to the blog of “Criterion Confession,” the author stated that “It's through this seeming anomaly that Before the Rain makes its most compelling argument for the inevitability of human action and the difficulty we have in affecting change. Life goes on and on, despite our best efforts to help or hinder it.” Ultimately, the film is trying to state that time is bigger than us and  beyond our control. As a closing statement, I refer back to the film and the same priest who first says that "Time never dies" amends that assertion in the final montage to "Time doesn't wait."

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Color of Paradise

Our class assignment this week was to watch and analyze the sound in the film “The color of Paradise.” The story is about an eight-year-old boy who is blind and lives in a remote village with his widowed father, his two sisters, and his grandmother. We realize early on that the father is some what of a dead beat and does not really care for his son who seems as a burden to him. Regardless, the film focuses on the little boy and how sees the world and the beauty it holds.

At the beginning of the film we as the audience start off hearing what sounds like different tapes being played; this relates to how a blind person would experience the world. Continuing this relation, natural sounds seem to be amplified through out this scene and continues on through out the film. When visuals appear, we find ourselves watching the last  few minutes of a class for the blind. Soon all the children are picked up by their parents, except Mohammed, whose father is very late. While he waits outside, we are gradually shown the world as it is to Mohammad, one restricted to sounds and  touching with the hands. At one point, it seems that Mohammad’s ears prick up; as if he has heard something. slowly, he walk through a path full of fallen leaves and starts searching through them. It turns out to be a fallen baby bird that has fallen from a nest.The boy manages to pick up the bird and climb a tree to place the bird back in it's nest.
The cinematography throughout the film is truly speaks out in this film. Shots like the pastoral scenes of the little boy looking out his window and listening to the sounds it gave off. Or the scene with collapsing bridge, which would have been planned out strategically just to capture it all in one shot. Additionally, these amazing shots give almost a character to the evident sound that ensuing it.
The sound in The Color of Paradise is, above all else,  probably most important aspect to the film. The sound in the film allows the audience to experience as if we war hearing the noises through Mohammad's ears. As you may notice, the sound seems to be amplified to real express the amount of detail he can hear. To refer to my previous paragraph, the sound takes on a role as an influential character within the story. At few times within the film, we hear a very strange noise that appears to be only heard by the father. This may refer to a coming threat or a warning to him on his actions as a father.

Over all, this film really open my eyes and ears to the very important aspects to sound. Through out the film, we are shown perfect examples of the balance between sound and images and how they can create a character within the film. For aspiring directors and sound designers, I particularly recommend this film as a must see.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Charles Chaplin's The Gold Rush

Charlie Chaplin is the first actor/director that I think of when I imagine the silent film era. through the use of mime, slapstick and other  routines, Chaplin would become iconic figure silent film comedy. One of his most famous films that pushed the envelope of special affects at the time would have to be The Gold Rush. Chaplin declared several times that this was the film that he most wanted to be remembered for.

When writing "The Gold Rush," Chaplin wuold get his first ideas from steroscope pictures of the Klondike gold rush. He was partiuclarly inspired by the images the miners scaling the moutain. Addionally he would be inspired by reading about how snowbound immigranst had to eat their own shoes to survive. Chaplin would take these very real happenings and apply it to his own comdey becoming legendary video clips and images today.

One the most notable aspects of the film would be that amount of special affect Chaplin and his crew would create during the making of this film.  For shooting the scene of the miners climbing the moutain, six hundred extras, were brought by train, to clamber up the 2300ft pass dug through the mountain snow. For the main the shots, Chaplin returned to the Hollywood studio, where he and his crew built  miniature mountain range out of timber, chicken wire, burlap, plaster, salt and flour. In addition, many miniatures were made shoot the scene of the cabin teetering over edge and the eventual scene of it being blown off. This also included making a miniature Chaplin for the scene of him hanging on to the door of the cabin on the edge of the mountain. The crew shot scenes so well that one can barley recognize the difference between life size and miniature. 

Today, The Gold Rush appears as one of Chaplin's most perfectly accomplished films. Though he himself was inclined to be changeable in his affections for his own work, to the end of his life he would frequently declare that of all his films, this was the one by which he would most wish to be remembered.

Internet Freedom

What is Net Neutrality

When we log onto the Internet, we take lots of things for granted. We expect that we'll be able to access whatever Web site we want, whenever we want to go there. We expect that we can attach devices like wireless routers, game controllers or extra hard drives to make our online experience better.
What makes all these expectations possible is "Network Neutrality," the guiding principle that preserves the free and open Internet. Net Neutrality means that Internet service providers may not discriminate between different kinds of content and applications online. It guarantees a level playing field for all Web sites and Internet technologies. But all this is being threatened by major corporations. The biggest cable and telephone companies would like to charge money for smooth access to Web sites, speed to run applications, and permission to plug in devices. These network corporations believe they should be able to charge Web site operators, application providers and device manufacturers for the right to use the network. Those who don't make a deal and pay up will experience discrimination, meaning their sites won't load as quickly, and their applications and devices won't work as well. Without legal protection, consumers could find that a network operator has blocked the Web site of a competitor, or slowed it down so much that it's unusable.

The network owners say they want a "tiered" Internet. If you pay to get in the top tier, your site and your service will run fast. If you don't, you'll be in the slow lane.”
The problem here is that this is discrimination to those websites that cannot and do not want to pay. The Internet was designed as an open medium. The fundamental idea since the Internet's beginning has been that every Web site, every feature and every service should be treated without discrimination. That's how bloggers can compete with CNN or New York Times for readers. That's how aspiring musicians can build underground audiences before they get their first CD. Discrimination endangers our basic Internet freedoms.
The free-flowing Internet as we know it could very well become history. This means we could be headed toward a pay-per-view Internet where Web sites have fees. It means we may have use an advanced search engine just to find a website without a tax. The next generation of inventions will be shut out of the top-tier service level. Meanwhile, the network owners will rake in even greater profits.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Do or Do Not...There is No Try

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back was the last film in orginal triliogy by George Lucas. The film was directed by Irvin Kershner with George Lucas serving as executive producer. . Although this entire film is stunningly amazing, I was assigned to choose only a five minute scene of this master piece. The scene I have chosen is one of the sagas most famous and magical moments which fits the criteria of my assignment.
This particular scene depicts a wide variety of mise-en-scene and aspects that make the set come to life. Everything from a misty fog to real live reptiles roaming the set, the scene feels like something out of a discovery channel documentary. The over growth of trees that were built on to the set engulf the scene, enriching the area full of nature. This feeling can also be felt by also looking at the particular characters and how dirty they have become. In the scene, Luke Skywalker can be noted with a mucky sweaty look to relate to the climate and environment he has landed in. Another character would be R2-D2, who has accumulated a lot of the swampy mud all over its shiny hull. The lighting in the clip can be seen shining down from above as if the sun is fighting its way through lush swamp trees. The characters are the only ones that are illuminated while the trees cast shadows through out the rest of the jungle behind them. The diegetic and none-diegetic sounds play a very large role in this particular scene to simulate the emotion that is occurring each shot.

The sets for Dagobah were built five feet above the stage floor, allowing puppeteers to crawl underneath and hold up the Yoda puppet. The setup presented Frank Oz, who portrayed Yoda, with communication problems as he was underneath the stage and unable to hear the crew and Mark Hamill above. Later, Mark Hamill would describe how felt about being the only human truly on set. The rest were just a handfull of puppetiers, robots, and various reptiles.
The following is my shot list of what I see in each shot.
  • In the first shot, we are greeted with Yoda and Luke already in a training session. The shot opens wide, largely due to be able to capture both characters in the scene. The view of the two characters is viewed between two trees, this gives the sense of being in the swamp.
  • The second shot, we see R2-D2 and the crashed X-Wing in the background. This shot was a precursor note to the later scene of the X-Wing sinking further into the swamp.
  • In the third shot, we see Yoda and Luke still in the training session, only this time Luke is using the force to levitate a rock.
  • The following shot is a close up on the stone being levitated and stack onto another stone. The camera tracks the movement of the stone at an angle that appears to be the point of view of Luke.
  • This shot is immediately interrupted by a close up of R2-D2 shouting warning noises. As the droid alerts Luke, he starts to turn towards off screen, which is assumed to be the ship, according to the next shot.
  • The next shot reveals that X-Wing has almost completely submerged underneath the swamp water. The shot is wide and only captures the wing of the ship as it bubbles down into the water.
  • The next shot is a close up shot of Luke who has lost his concentration and begins to lose his balance of Yoda and the force.
  • To follow Luke's actions, a close up on Yoda is shown and displays him losing his footing and falling out of view.
  • The pursuing scene shows a medium shot Luke completely falling on the ground with the diegetic sound of Yoda hitting the ground around him. The diegetic noise was made because the audience does not physically see Yoda hit the ground. A Frustrated Luke starts to get up, and is assumed to be looking at where his trainer has landed.
  • After we see Yoda struggling to get up from the ground to relate to the fact that he just had taken a pretty far fall. After he has fully stood up, he looks in the opposite direction of the screen which gives the idea that he is looking back at Luke.
  • The scene returns back to Luke who has just made his eye contact with Yoda and now focuses on the direction the sunken ship. He gets up and walks off screen in the presumed direction of the ship.
  • In this scene, the camera is opened wide enough to capture Luke, who enters in from the right, the ship in the background, and R2-D2 who is in the foreground of the shot. To give the audience a better idea of where Luke is going to come from, R2-D2 is tracking Luke as he comes into view. In this scene, Luke can actually be seen stepping into the water of the swamp which add to the realistic feel the set gives.
  • Here we are looking back at Yoda as he remarks to Luke's stubborn attitude. It is a wide shot which leaves plenty of head room above Yoda. This is done to give the audience the idea of height differences between Luke and Yoda. The angle that given would seem to come from a point of view of Luke or an average height person.
  • The shot returns back to Luke and R2-D2 to show the communication and reaction of Luke to Yoda's remark.
  • In this shot, we are given a medium shot of Yoda who is continuing his lecture to Luke. This was probably done to show the importance of his message.
  • This shot is to continue the action of the conversation Luke is having with Yoda. Luke is talking to Yoda who is off screen but with the directions each one is facing, we are lead to believe they are right there talking.
  • The medium shot returns, again to show the importance of the message Yoda is trying to convey.
  • In this shot, we have a close up on Luke's face as he appears confused and turns back to the direction of the ship which is out of view.
  • After Luke responds with his unmotivated line, A quick medium shot of Yoda is given to show the sharpness of his retort.
  • Yoda's message is laid over this next close up shot of Luke returning quickly back to Yoda. This simply to keep the flow of the conversation and to make sense to the audience.
  • One of the most famous lines in the entire saga is given in this medium shot of Yoda who is continuing his message.
  • The shot returns back to Luke who is again appearing to be aggravated at the lessons he is being given.
  • In this clip we see a different angle and medium shot of Luke who is still looking back to show the audience that he was moving his line of sight of Yoda to the ship. Luke gives off a sigh and extends his hand to the ship which off screen.
  • A medium shot of the ships wing sticking out from the swamp is seen and appears to be rising out from the water. Bubbling of the water also adds to the action of the ship moving due to the force.
  • A close up shot of Yoda's face is seen in this clip that shows Yoda's astonishment of Luke's potential ability to life the ship with the force.
  • A close up of Luke still extending his hand towards the off screen ship is seen in this shot. As the shots rolls, the audience can Luke start to struggle by the way his facial expressions are being given.
  • A close up shot of R2-D2 adds to the excitement of the clip to give the audience a sense of hope.
  • A wide behind shot of Luke, the ship, and R2-D2 is seen to show the action that is occuring. R2-D2's whistles really set up the feeling the audience gets as the ship rises and falls back down to swamp.
  • A close up shot of Yoda who was once giving a face of astonishment falls to a face of disappointment. This was all to show that Luke had failed at understanding Yoda's teachings.
  • A medium shot of the ship returns and shows the ship completely sink underneath the water. The diegetic noise of R2-D2 again displays the emotion of the scene.
  • A close up shot of Luke also returns to show his feeling of failure as he watches the off screen ship sink.
  • A medium shot of Yoda at an angle of his height is follows. As it rolls, Luke enters from the right towards Yoda who is slightly off center. As Luke walks in, we can only see his legs, until he drops down to Yoda's level.
  • As Yoda starts to lecture Luke, a close up is seen of Luke's face that shows his feelings and his response to Yoda's question by shaking his head.
  • A close up shot of Yoda is now seen to continue the importance of his message. As Yoda continues on, he reaches over to the right to Luke, who is off screen
  • The close up of Luke returns but Yoda's arm can be seen reach in to relate to his message.
  • The following shots are of Yoda describing the force in particular elements of the nature around them. In the close up shots of Luke, the audience can see him looking at the objects Yoda is describing.
  • In the last close up shot of Luke, we see his disbelief in his own abilities the look on his face, and he starts to get up from the ground.
  • The next shot returns of the medium shot of both Luke and Yoda on the ground, as Luke starts to rise up. In Luke's full stance, his head and shoulders are cut off screen. Now as Luke rose up off screen, we can see Yoda's head follow where Luke's head is going to be off screen. This helps the audience understand when Luke starts talking to Yoda off screen. Once Luke delivers his retort, he walks towards the woods behind them and disappears off screen.
  • In the next shot, the camera appears to be panning downward as Luke enters the screen from the right, still walking back into the woods. The camera does not follow Luke, but we can still see him walk to an area and sit down. This is to probably give the audience that feeling of wanting to be alone after failing something you have worked hard for.
  • This medium shot of Yoda we can him raise his hand towards the direction of the ship which is off screen. We can also hear the music change from a sad melody, to a magical mysterious melody.
  • The medium shot of the foggy swamp is seen with water bubbling all around the area of where the ship is assumed to have sunk.
  • A close up of R2-D2 is shown with it giving of excitement whistles as we assume he notice the action that is taking place.
  • R2-D2's whistles continue in this scene, which seems to have gotten Luke's attention from his sulking spot. Luke leans back and looks towards the camera which is assumed to be the direction of the swamp and starts to walk in that direction. Once he gets to a clearing from the trees, he suddenly stops as if he shocked to see the action taking place.
  • A close upshot of Yoda follows with his hand still out reached and seems to lifting the ship with ease.
  • A wide shot is now shown with Luke in the Background and R2-D2 in the middle. They appear to be looking at the area of where the ship is in the swamp.
  • Finally a close up shot of the underbelly of the ship is shown rising from from the swamp. Once the ship has fully risen, Luke and R2-D2 are seen in the background looking in the direction of the ship.

  • A medium shot of Yoda is shown with his hand mimicking the movement of the ship from out of the swamp to the direction of land.
  • The wide shot of the camera under ship returns, only this time the ship is at a higher height, and all three characters are able to be seen. This shot was to show the audience of where everyones locations during this action.
  • Another close up of Yoda is seen, with him still following the movement of the ship with his hand.
  • A close up on R2-D2 is shot, with it giving off another progressive whistle. This is also done to show the mood of the clip.
  • An over the head medium shot can be seen of Luke looking at the ship off screen. As he backs up, the shot turns to wide to allow the landing gear and part of the ship to be seen landing in front of him.
  • A close up shot of Yoda with him finishing his action of moving the ship can be seen in this clip.
  • The wide shot of Luke and the front of the ship follows with Luke in disbelief as he peers around the ship.
  • The close up of Yoda returns with him giving off a sigh, probably to seeing Luke's reaction of what just happened.
  • A tracking shot of Luke behind the back of the ship follows. R2-D2 is seen, slightly cut off screen, sporting positive whistles towards Luke who still is in disbelief.
  • A wide shot of the ship, Yoda, Luke and R2-D2 precedes to show Luke walk from his position to where Yoda is positioned at.
  • In a over the shoulder of Luke, we see Yoda give his line and reveals to Luke as to why he fails.