Archive for March, 2011


Lumiere Critique

The process of filming a Lumiere was quit difficult for me. I think of art as an outlet for very personal forms of expression and the lumiere style lacks a certain ability to do so. It would have been much easier to make a better minute long clip if I was able to film for a long period of time and piece together parts of longer threads. Instead, I had to force my subject to do more continual actions in order to fill the scene. In some sense this is a form of my personal expression and makes the lumiere less “natural” but I wanted to have enough of my subject in motion. If i were to do it again, I would buy a traveling tripod in order to stabilize my shot better and take my camera with me more places and just leave it recording and witness what it captures. Some of the better scenes in class were those which were spontaneous and captured something unexpected. My lumiere was a bit more constructed and planned. I wanted to film natural settings, such as a scene where the camera is dynamically placed within trees and captures nature in life (birds moving about ,leafs falling, etc). My other plan was to find a beauty in the “unnatural” urbanization that is prominent in DC by filming traffic from a high elevation to show how the movement of cars is almost like a play or work of art. Unfortunately I was unable to do so and ended up filming a friend smoking a cigarette.

Critique of others- The Child Performer

http://samrstrat.wordpress.com/2011/03/20/lumiere-film/

What did you or didn’t you like about it? What ‘mood’ did it have? How was this mood achieved? What was it about the film that worked?  What didn’t work?  How could they have improved the film?

This lumiere seemed very natural in its existence. The video didnt appear to be edited for color or balance as the sunlight permeating from the back naturally lit up the shots. A dynamic shot was created from the framing of other people/objects around the child helping to maintain the viewers focus on the child rather then wander off. In terms of mood, this lumiere is very positive and happy. The angle at which the camera was placed had a nice balance of the sunlight which gave the positive feel as did the actual subject- a child. The fact that the camera didnt zoom into the child also kept the video true to the lumiere style rather then contemporary modes of filming. Overall, the video was light, entertaining, and very natural. It capture an oddity in every day life. The video wasnt something that seem scripted, it was moree of filming a natural view and something interesting luckily being captured. I thought that this lumiere was one of the best in class as it stayed true to the Manifesto, yet had a contemporary feel and entertaining subject matter.

What is Fantasy?

Fantasy films are mythical/magical and usually involve events or situations that are unlikely in the real world. Thus they rely on the imagination or individual’s fantasy and seek to fulfill them. The characters are generally eccentric, odd phenomena occurs, and sometimes journeys that the characters set out on. Like many other genres, fantasy has the ability to overlap into the realm of other film genres such as science fiction, comedy, romance, horror, war, westerns, etc (Wikipedia). The fantasy genre is heavily used when the target audience is children, being that children generally enjoy fantasy and magic more then that of serious films that are more intricate or touch base with “heavy” subjects.

Early fantasy films focused on the future and the developments that were possible. As the genre developed, stories of childhood heros or characters from literature were integrated into films. There were instances of film series based on comic book characters such as Flash Gordon. At one point a musical style of fantasy was developed like that of the Wizard of Oz. British director Michael Powell’s and writer Emeric Pressburger brought the world the sub-genre of romantic fantasy in their film Stairway to Heaven. The genre continued to develop simultaneously wit hthe progression of visual effects (usually when literary works were made into films) such as the instance of The Time Machine. As visuals progressed so did the story-type of fantasy films. The world witnessed for imaginative worlds developed in films or a change in time (traveling back in time or forwards). In contemporary cinematic fantasies, there has been a rise in animation with the development of computer imaging software (i.e. The Chronicles of Narnia).

Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium -( Fantasy, Family, Comedy)

It’s Not Just A Cube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWP6XfW_K1A

In Mr.Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, Molly Mahoney discovers realizes that she is having an identity crisis. Mahoney grew up being a musical prodigy that everyone believed would go on to play in the most famous of concert halls. However, fast forward to her current situation and she is the manager at a toy store owned by a man she’s know her entire life, Mr.Magorium. Magorium is over 200 years old and has decide he is going to “depart”, leaving the toy store to Molly Mahoney. This news pushes Mahoney over the edge in her crisis for self-discovery as the stress seems to be overwhelming. As this happens, Magroium gives Mahoney a congrieve cube stating that “unlikely tools call for unlikely adventures”. Molly struggles to find the meaning of those words and purpose of the cube until after Magorium’s departure when she is about to sell the store. At this point she realizes the cube was a symbol of belief- it has a purpose so long as one believes it does. This is relative to Mahoney’s situation because if she only believes in herself she will be able to succeed in the endeavor of life.

This seen is dark because Magroium has left, the store (which is alive) has thrown a “temper tantrum:” and has decided to give up on itself). Molly Mahoney is deciding on possibly selling the store. The light is focused on Mahoney as the scene’s main focus is her and the development of her inner struggle (Part 2). The camera itself is zoomed in on Mahoney as she is the main subject of the scene.   The light permeating through the door the accoutnant is entering through provide a symbolism of the accountant’s role in Mahoney’s discovery. As he walks in the camera zooms out to have both of the subjects in the shot. The accountant is an individual with no belief in the extraordinary or potentially impossible, he is usually plain and boring but in this instance he has warmed up to the idea of faith in the unknown. The light remains only on the accountant (“mutant”) and Mahoney as their conversation is the key to summation of the movie and the true meaning to Mahoney’s journey. The camera alternates between closeups of each individual to display the development of their thought processes as the conversation becomes more deep and “raw” (Part 2).  Through the explanation of the store to the mutant, Mahoney realizes what it is that she needs to find herself- belief. In essence, she had the answer and the ability inside her the entire time it was only a matter of realizing it.  The music is uplifting and inspiring to show how Mahoney, a piano player, found the music inside of herself and let her inner light show. As such the store starts to become a little less dark to hint at the idea that things are improving.The camera now encompasses a large portion of the toy store to show that the there is more light in the building as there is now more hope and belief in the mutant and Mahoney (more of disbelief for the mutant).

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory- (Fantasy, Family)

Scary Tunnel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nphv4nrn3U

In the scary tunnel scene of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory, the children and Wonka have just come from the wonderful candy garden. The scene is transitioning from one that was positive, happy, and magical to one of apprehension and fear. The music starts of light and cheery as the boat begins to glide through the chocolate river. The camera zooms in as each individual speaks or holds in individuals that will later comment on a previous comment. The music then changes to a jaws like suspense/thriller. The camera shots quickly alternate between shots of different people, the boat, lights, darkness, Wonka, etc.  The characters are speaking quickly and everything seems to be one jumbled sound. Wonka begins to sing a song about not knowing where they are going or what is happening, fitting to their current situation. Like his personality, Wonka’s clothing is eccentric. This fits the persona that is pivotal to the entire movie, both in terms of plot and genre. He wears a purple jacket, yellow shirt, interesting top hat, has eccentric hair, and carries around a cane. This costume projects an abnormal wardrobe that is fitting for a fantasy movie and helps to be more of a kid friendly tone (Intro PDF). However, it also helps to signify his oddity of a personality. Towards the end of Wonka’s song, Wonka’s voice gets more intense and frightening as the darkness around the boat seems to grow. Suddenly the entire area is illuminated, everyone is calm, and the boat is safely at its next destination.

Pitch- ANew Life For A Balloon

The story would follow a balloon as it goes from its creation (birth into the world), until it is disposed only to find a new life. The story would start off with the balloon being filled/blown up with helium. As it is then “adopted” by an individual who takes the balloon with them. The balloon could then serve as a decoration for a gathering or simply a toy for a child. As a means of displaying emotion of the balloon and the scene, we could use several balloons and draw faces on them. This way the balloons happiness can be displayed at its adoption and its adventures with the child. The story would continue with the balloon staying tied to the child showing its attachment and purpose. As the child experiences adventures or plays the balloon is always there with him/her as a friend. Eventually the balloon comes untied from the child’s arm and floats away. The balloon is sad for a good portion of time at the idea of leaving the child. However, the balloon eventually realizes that it is now a free bird able to drift away as it pleased. Furthermore, the balloon is drifting to new adventures, new sights, and a new life. Being that we are in DC it would be nice to take advantage of some of the sights we have near us as a means of displaying this in the final scene. This short story portrays the idea of renewal and independence, for the balloon had renewed itself and found happiness in its independence.

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In my own opinion a deep, raw, and personal narrative is more captivating then empirical data in any fashion. Capturing somethign as it truly is and bringing it to the screen through film makes the subject matter more accessible to the viewers. Audiences are able to grasp the content without prior education on the subject as a result of the fact that the are human. This innate connection is exploited through Lumieres and realism, and gives credit and time to topics that might not otherwise received “light”. For instance, in Waiting For Superman the raw emotions capture in the faces of the parents and children during the lottery as to which school the children will be going to, grasp at the hearts of the viewers. Although Waiting For Superman is not a Lumiere, it is a documentary which is a development of the style.
However, there are benefits to adapting the view of the “eye” by means of the camera.
Its not only a matter of capturing subjects that have yet to receive light, its about shedding new light on older subjects as well. This means changing the view, either through new narratives ,new depictions, or a new angle. The Lumiere Manifesto describes in-camera and post film editing as harmful to the audience and content. Yet, I see such techniques as zooming, cutting, etc. as means of emphasizing certain aspects of a piece so that the audience focuses on what is truly important. Also, each artist/director tends to have their own style that separates them from the group. By adding a personal “flavor” to a piece of work it not only separates the director but the content and helps to give it focus by making it interesting. Again, although it is not a Lumiere, David Gugenheim gives a specific form to Waiting For Superman. Although I may not fully agree with every point made in the film, the director takes a certain angle to his argument and builds it through his filming techniques. Through his angles when interviewing, music, graphics, edit, organization, etc. he creates a conversation or narrative on the topic of the American education system.
In regards to altering original pieces, he Manifesto states,”At best, we display an edited view of our worlds. At worst, we destroy important viewpoints through unnecessary editing.”  This quotes helps display the “grey” area between the “black” and “white” of filming and editing. Therefore, I believe the most important issue is drawing the line between an “edited view” of the world and “destroying important viewpoints”.  By creating a code of ethics or norms of artistic activity, filmmakers can help to keep the original meaning of a work (not necessarily the original work itself) while also helping to separate it from other work with a special “flavor”. In creating a boundaries, artists are free to take on the world as they see it, give new light to old subjects, form new conversations, all the while keeping the content “raw” to some extent.The Salisbury reading shows realism as a definitive genre stating, “Realistic films that try to show the world as it actually is, and Fiction/fantasy films that try to present the artist’s imaginative view of the world in an entertaining manner” (Realism). However,  taking a piece of the world and showing it with artistic edits doesnt make the content fantasy. Artistic techniques make the content more approachable and enjoyable to an audience. In a Digital Age characterized by an audience with short attention spans, and grasping for instant gratification, making content more interesting is vital to making the piece seen by more people.

My Photoessay Melted Into One

 

Photo Manipulation In the Media

The concept of photo manipulation is not inherently malicious or harmful to the viewer/society. Although there are instance where companies or artists have manipulated images in order to create a lie, there are more benevolent uses for editing. There is an artistic value to the manipulation of photos, as it can help unify the overall theme or message of the photo/s. For instance, when the Economist published an edition with Barack Obama on the cover during the BP oil spill crisis, they removed two individuals from the photo and left only the president and an oil rig in the frame (Can you believe your eyes?). The reasoning behind this was for the viewers focus to be Obama. In this instance of manipulation there wasnt an inherent “lie”, there wasnt a false story created. Rather, this form of photographic framing sharpened the purpose of the image, the article contained within the edition, and potentially the magazine itself.

Jean Kilbourne is a dominant voice on the negative effects of advertising on society. She has been quoted saying, “The problem with advertising isn’t that it creates artificial needs, but that it exploits our very real and human desires. Advertising promotes a bankrupt concept of relationship. Most of us yearn for committed relationships that will last. We are not stupid: we know that buying a certain brand of cereal won’t bring us one inch closer to that goal. But we are surrounded by advertising that yokes our needs with products and promises us that things will deliver what in fact they never can. In the world of advertising, lovers are things and things are lovers” (Jesus is a brand of jeans). When the examples Kilbourne gives are closely examined, one can recognize a correlation between the increased use of photo manipulation and the increase in the negative effects she refers to. As photos are manipulated to serve the interest of profit driven corporations, we see the association between products and human beings. There is a subliminal message that our peers are simply products. In particular, women are being depicted negatively and in contemporary ads are THE product.

(Jesus is a brand of jeans- http://www.newint.org/features/2006/09/01/culture/)

In the photo above the woman and the product are one. Individuals like Kilbourne immediately recognize the adverse effects such ads have on equality in society. By depicting women as products it seems as if advertisers (and potentially society) view woman as something other then human, they are products not equal to their male counterparts. This is entirely unethical and degrading to both women and the human condition. Viewing any individual as a product only hurts the meaning of humanity and the quality of life for all. There has been a shift in contemporary ads towards an equality of men and women, but this equality is in the wrong direction. Now, men are even being depcited as products. This is not the equality Kilbourne, nor any other equality advocate is fighting for. There must be a standard, a high standard to which society holds advertisers and those who work with photographs.

(“Are we coerced into gender roles by media and advertising?”, http://theshapeofdiversity.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/dolce-and-gabbana-rape-ad.jpg)

The practice of photo manipulation is not by itself wrong or corrupt. There are artistic and benevolent benefits to editing a piece of work. The negative side of manipulation comes up when the motives behind such action are more “dark”, such as advertising. However, I would even argue that manipulation used in advertising is not inherently wrong; editing the lighting or contrast of an image only makes something more visually appealing. What I take issue with are the more unethical practices of manipulation; infusing individuals and products, slimming down models, changing the ethnicity of individuals depicted, etc. These actions send a visual signal that individuals are not “good enough” in their natural state. By creating a false reality of visuals, such as thinning down models, the world is falsely presented. Those wo view the photo then see themselves as “against the grain” and in need of change. Yet the truth is they are most likely average or normal and by extension beautiful.

In order to stop this downward slope of standards and view of humans as products, there must be a code of ethics for advertisers and those that work with photographs. Rather then just a code of ethics, it appears that there needs to be a constitution of photo manipulation, guiding principals by which all who function within the realm of the arts must follow.