Idea Poaching

Nawwwww, I’m not going to steal anyone’s work.  However, I hope that my perusal of other student’s work will help me to zero in on my final project idea.  We are an ambitious bunch! A lot of our ideas are over the top – tackling large, complex topics.  I suppose that’s a function of being a consultant and doing the work that we do on a day-to-day basis.  We deal with complex issues all the time – we really aren’t afraid to tackle anything.

I encouraged one classmate to take a certain angle on their project that focused on the story of one individual.  Another classmate was ready to take on something huge, so I tried to help them whittle their story down to one phase of a larger process. It seems like this is advice I need to take myself!  Especially after seeing everyone’s video submissions this week, I’m really excited to see what everyone comes up with for their final projects.

No Bellas (aka The Post I Forgot to Name)

This week I chose to do the video assignment called the Music-less Music video.  The goal: to remove the music in a music video and replace it with other sounds.  I’m totally obsessed with the movie Pitch Perfect so I decided to take the finale scene from the film as my music video.  Here’s the original clip:

This is where the Barden Bellas totally crush it to win the Aca-pella (sp?) finals.  If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s pretty awesome.  That’s besides the point.

I downloaded the clip to my machine and loaded it to iMovie.  I trimmed the clip to end at the part where Anna Kendrick’s character raises her arm in the air.  It was a nearly four minute clip so I thought I’d spare my audience a little time.  I then spent about 30 min. playing around with the sounds that are pre-loaded into iMovie.  They have a lot of sounds you can add to projects; songs, booms, foley sounds, digital ‘noises’ — all kinds of things. And, as I’ve mentioned before, iMovie is easy to use, just drag and drop and slide.  I found some sounds that match well with the video, and I found others that had more of a funny effect.  For example, at about 31 sec. I added some digital sounds to the part where one of the girls is beat boxing.  Another example is at about 1:21 I added footsteps to the section where the girls are all stepping in motion.  It was kind of funny here to add foley sounds where foley sounds shouldn’t be.  In the film you’re supposed to be focused on the singing, so any ordinary sounds are completely cancelled out.  Adding those sounds back in felt really wrong.  There are a few other places where I had some fun but I’ll leave it to you to figure out the rest! (Oh and sorry – I couldn’t help myself.  I had to add some music.)

Here’s a screen shot of my work:

Screen shot 2014-05-04 at 10.16.42 PM

And here’s the finished product:

It Was Only Just a Dream

So this week’s assignment was a doozey! Good thing I had a Saturday night free and a good glass of wine!  I won’t belabor the technical/computer issues I encountered because they are completely my own fault but I will give you the high-level overview of how this all went down and all the tools and media I used to complete the assignment.

First, I downloaded the Charlie Chaplin clip.

Next, I perused the foley samples of other DS106ers.  I have to say, my method was give a quick listen and practically choose at random.  My thought: Make the video/audio and decide what the story is when it’s done.

Here are the clips I chose:

Next – putting it all together.  Once my iMovie completed it’s 1hr. of updates (since I never use it) I was ready to go. Well, once I was able to swallow that small lump of panic in my throat that arose when I realized I had NO idea what I was doing.  Thank goodness for YouTube and  other tutorials!  Once I inserted the audio tracks I gave a listen from start to finish.  Not too shabby!  There’s a point in the clip where the Charlie Chaplin character says, ” uh, am I dreaming? ” so I decided to make this into a dream sequence.  Charlie starts out being chased by a pony but once he enters the lion’s cage we hear the dream-like music (I added a track found here) come in and we realize that he’s in some sort of surreal dream state.  He encounters the lion, the tiger, the annoying dog, and the strange girl that wants him to escape. It’s all very confusing.  Since Charlie is in a dream, he doesn’t feel the panic to get out of the cage that a lucid person would feel.  Finally, the lion roars loudly enough to wake him from his dream state and we watch him run off into the distance – supposedly to wake up.

Here’s a screen shot of my work:

Screen shot 2014-05-03 at 11.14.00 PM

And, alas, the finished product:

 

Read Me A Movie

This week, my fellow DS 106er’s and I are delving into film.

Our assignment was to watch two clips from a set list and analyze them against Roger Ebert’s “How to Read a Movie.”  About the article – I really wish I could have attended one of Ebert’s Cinema Interrupts sessions.  That would’ve been so cool.  It made me think back to the film classes I took in college where we’d get together and watch films we’d never heard of and we’d wind up in lengthy discussion about the techniques used in the film.  I think Ebert brings up a lot of interesting points about film techniques that enhance and advance the story of a film.  While I haven’t sat down to watch a film with his article in mind yet, I think I agree with him about how things like composition and camera angles can change your impression of a character or what’s going on in a scene.

The two clips I chose to watch were Kubrick: One-Point Perspective and Example of a Match Cut.

Here’s Kubrick: One-Point Perspective:

The Kubrick video runs through a montage of scenes where Kubrick shoots using a one-point perspective.  A perspective with just one point will contain only one vanishing point on the horizon line, like this:

Inside_Greenwich_Foot_Tunnel

Stanley Kubrick is known for his love of the one-point perspective.  He used it a lot, as evidenced in the video.  He also often placed his main character, or all the action, in the center of the screen.  Ebert would say that this would objectify the character, kind of like seeing them in a mug shot.  I think this applies somewhat to Kubrick’s works, at least in the static shots.  However, in the action shots that use a one-point perspective, it’s less about how we see the character and more about how we feel as an audience.  Viewing the scene straight on makes you feel more like you are there – like you’re in it with the characters.  From this perspective, when a character is running down a long hallway, the audience feels the walls on both sides of them too.  If the character is running from something scary, the audience will feel a little scared being in that hallway too.  I think Kubrick’s technique is less about the characters and more about making the audience feel uncomfortable, or involved, depending on the scene (let’s be honest, it’s Kubrick – it’s probably uncomfortable.)  Thinking about the one-point perspective has made me understand that film techniques can do more than enhance a story or a character, they can also make an audience feel a certain way.

The match-cut clip I watched was from 2001 A Space Odyssey:

In this scene, a human-like gorilla throws a large bone in the air.  The camera follows the bone upwards as it barrels through the sky. Once it begins it’s descent, the scene cuts to a space ship, of a similar shape and size on screen, also descending.  A match-cut is used to create continuity of action between two shots and to link them perhaps metaphorically (thanks wikipedia!)  Here’s where, I have to admit that I’ve never seen the film 2001 A Space Odyssey, so I don’t really know what this scene is about but I have to assume that the filmmaker (more Kubrick!) used the bone and the space ship to tie seamlessly tie together two very different worlds.  Following Ebert’s logic, I might also assume that the space ship, since it’s travelling downwards, might be heading towards some perilous fate.  I’m hoping now that one of my classmates will pipe up here and tell me what’s really going on in this scene.

Each of these clips were really helpful for me to learn to analyze different film techniques.  Maybe I’ll even use these techniques in some of my DS106 work!

“Big Mistake. Huge!”

Remember that scene in Pretty Woman where Vivian (Julia Roberts) really sticks it to the shop girls that had previously snubbed her? After getting her makeover and shopping her tail off she walks into the mean-girl shop with her hands full of bags and says “Hey remember me? You wouldn’t wait one me the other day?? Big mistake. Huge!” and walks out leaving the women with their mouths gaping.  What a great scene.  In the previous scene, where Vivian gets her makeover, the song Pretty Woman plays in the background.

As part of this week’s DS106 assignment, I watched the below clip from Dumb and Dumber. In the clip, Lloyd (Jim Carey) gets a makeover with the help of his friend Harry (Jeff Daniels).  the makeover scene also uses Pretty Woman soundtrack – a clear, hilarious reference to the original film.

In order to analyze the combination of audio and visual techniques, we were asked to first watch the clip with no audio, then listen with out watching, then watch, listen, and analyze.  While watching the clip sans audio, I made notes by drawing little sketches of the scenes I saw instead of writing them down.  Here’s pic of my sketches:

Image

Rather than showing you all my sorry sketches, here’s a quick list of some of the scene set-ups and visual techniques that were used:

  1. Over-the-shoulder (of Harry) shot with Llyod in the back of the shot slightly left but close to center.
  2. Shot of Harry and Llyod in barber’s chairs, each with a barber to the left.
  3. Harry and Llyoyd in salon hair dryers with two stylists in between them.
  4. Pan from Llyod’s head down to his (gnarly) feet.
  5. Pan out from Llyod being shaven
  6. Shot looking up at Llyod as he laughs
  7. Straight on shot of Harry getting/giving a massage
  8. Same shot as beginning
  9. Pan up from floor to Lloyd and Harry getting nose trims
  10. Pan up from Llyod’s (still gnarly) pedicure
  11. Back to the same shot we started with, over Harry’s shoulder with Lloyd in the back, almost center.

Next, we were asked to simply listen to the audio, without watching the clip.  Here’s what I heard:

  1. “Pretty Woman” scoring the clip.
  2. Scissors
  3. Hair dryers
  4. Filing
  5. Shaving/squirting
  6. Laughing
  7. Body smacking sounds
  8. Walking
  9. Scissors
  10. Power tools
  11. Cheering and dancing

And now – the final piece, putting it all together.  Even though I knew all the gags of the scene from watching them one way and the other, they were definitely funnier once the visual and audio components were together.  For example, focusing on the visual, you only see the pan down from Lloyd’s face to his feet while he’s getting a pedicure.  You also see the pan back up later.  You see Llyod’s nasty toes and it kinda grosses you out.  Hearing the sound of filing, and later, power tools, along with Lloyd’s nasty toes totally makes you cringe.  I think the best way to sum up what I’m trying to explain here is that the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts.  The visual and the audio and funny – but together, they’re laugh-out-loud funny.

Taking time to isolate a sense caused me to notice some things that I may not have noticed before.  For example, the cutting and trimming noises aren’t something I would have picked up on just watching the scene ordinarily.  However, once I noticed them, I continued to notice them, and they definitely enhanced the scene by giving it a realistic dimension over the soundtrack of Pretty Woman.  The scene incorporates some of the techniques that Roger Ebert discusses like using a shot from below Lloyd’s point of view while he was laughing at the barber after pulling his little ‘prank.’ The shot enhances him and makes him look bigger in the situation — which he is since he’s the one that is controlling the situation.  Ebert also talks about how symmetrical shots seem to be at rest.  This scene has several shots that are almost symmetrical but they defy Ebert’s theory by always incorporating some sort of motion. For example, when Harry and Lloyd are in the hair dryer chairs and the stylists are between them – the shot is perfectly symmetrical.  But, the two make a turn towards each other, keeping the scene in motion and more interesting.

I never was too crazy about the movie Dumb and Dumber, but breaking down the scene has definitely allowed me to give the film a little more credit.  It uses a lot of film and audio techniques to make this scene something that drive’s the films story forward and keeps the audience extremely entertained.