Tuesday, October 30, 2012

9th Original Photo: Hard (Rocks)

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This photo--not taken recently-- was taken in Old Town, Alexandria at the water front. Hard reminds me of a surface or texture that is hard. This rocks looked pretty harsh against the water so I thought this would be perfect.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Visual Review 8: "Dollhouse" Title Sequence

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"A futuristic laboratory assigns different tasks to its various residents, who then have their memories erased upon the completion of their assignments." (IMDb) This short-lived TV show aired on FOX in 2009 and was created by Joss Whedon.

In the beginning of the title sequence, we are shown a wide shot of a cityscape. Which plays with shadows showing nighttime, and the only source of light coming from windows of the buildings. There is motion blur here with the cars and the lights. Probably a post-shooting effect was added to speed up time.
     Lines are made by the city which shows us linear perspective. The composition of the city doesn't end in this frame, the city goes on as we see the sped up cars going further into or away from the city. The different shots fade out to white and have this flash like effect that brings in the next shot. For the entire sequence, there is this dream-like glow.
     The sequence to this show follows the main character, Eliza Dushku (Echo). We are shown low angles. There are post-shooting editing effects of costume changes within one frame. This symbolizes Echo's (Eliza Dushku's) transformations of different characters and personalities.

The text of the actor's and production team's name are in this small white font that also has a glow/tint to it. I think it fits into the theme of the sequence. The text is also small to make the viewer pay attention to what's happening on screen, that's why the font is also very plain, yet it in all caps. It's very simple.
     There are continuous lines created by the city. Many objects and people are falling through the shots as they go about their lives. The camera lens used for the daytime city shot (Tilt shift) gives us the impression that we are world full of dolls. This wide shot really brings in the color scheme. It blends the colors to this grey/green tone. The colors are soft making it look like everyone is the same, wearing the same thing, but they're not.
     Text not related to production is bracketed as we get a close up of Echo (Dushku). Again, the colors have this grey/green tone and effects were added (after shooting) to make the close up look like a security camera. The red bracketed text ([Active Located], [Active Engaged]--the active being Echo) is the put the viewers into the scenario that these "dolls" can always be found. The red text contrasts against the soft, blended colors to make you notice what it is and to try and dissect what it means.

High angles are also used with this repetitious glow and soft blended touch on normal colors and textures like wood to take us away from reality. Scale appears to also be a repeating element in everything shown. Our eyes are drawn to the center of the frame in most of the shots. The center is also always in focus, where as the edges may have this soft glow that's not as in focus.
     We are taken away from the blended greens for one shot to vibrant greens shown through the trees (still staying with the color scheme). The shadows and light frames, giving the sequence an ethereal quality. The music used throughout the intro also fits in perfectly with what we're seeing and with the dream-like theme. Contrast is given through the color tones and with the red text tracking Echo.

The layout of the ending frame was a deliberate design choice, I think. The circle with 5 points can look like an eye to some viewers, or like a star. It's not quite symmetric but the point at which the objects (eerie beds for the "dolls") are placed is even. Especially the text of the creator's (Joss Whedon) name. The text falls directly in the middle thirds of the screen. Joss Whedon's name is in bold, yet still small. The "Created By" text is even smaller, drawing the eye to the most important text--his name. Again, I think with fans there is recognition that "Oh! We know who Joss Whedon is", so that's all we should focus on. If it were a show by a creator that people have never heard of then I'm sure that the "Created By" text would be larger. Joss Whedon has already established himself as a writer/creator/producer/director so, I don't think it was as necessary to place emphasis on that part.

I thought Dollhouse was a great show. Unfortunately, it got cut before it could really begin.

Sources: Video via Viddler, Images via Pinterest

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Visual Review 7: Death Proof Movie Poster

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Via Google Images
“Two separate sets of voluptuous women are stalked at different times by a scarred stuntman who uses his "death proof" cars to execute his murderous plans.” (IMDb)

That tagline on the poster, pretty much sums up the film. Released in 2007, This Quentin Tarantino B-movie was shown in theaters as a part of “Grindhouse”, a double movie feature which also premiered Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror.

Unlike many movie posters which have cut out pictures from promo shoots to use as a film cover, this Tarantino film’s poster is drawn/sketched with chalk. The images are placed in the upper and middle thirds of the poster. This draws the eye to the important parts (the car and the title of the film). The poster shows us a deep depth of field. It’s like a long shot which gives off the effect of the car being in motion. Lines lead us to a road wit this “Death Proof” vehicle with silhouettes of eight ladies in view.
    Linear perspective applies to this poster. The vehicle shown in motion implies it goes on beyond the poster. That car continues to zoom out of our site. It would almost be like a vanishing point if it were moving forward in the opposite direction (which is funny, because that references to the movie itself; The movie Vanishing Point is referenced through dialogue; and the ladies in the second half find the vehicle identical to the one from the film).

There is emphasis put on the title of the film. The drawn vehicle leads us to the the title. The size isn’t overpowering anything else on the poster. The poster is relying on visuals rather than odd-font or huge text. The color breaks from the breaks from the black/white/grey scheme by using red to make the title stick out. The title size is larger than the director’s name. Probably by choice of the director to focus on it. Through advertisement and press releases, audiences and fans already know it’s a Tarantino film. The title is tilted a little as well as the directors name. We also get the male star’s name put on the vehicle (in plain lettering), which represents his character. The font doesn’t really show action--it could be a comedy--but I think the title itself takes away any hint at that.
    The choice of putting the title in quotation marks, I see not only as a way to site a movie (as people do versus using italics), but I think it’s ironic. It relates to events/dialogue in the movie. “This car is 100% death proof. Only to get the benefit of it, honey, you really need to be sitting in my seat.” (Kurt Russell’s Stuntman Mike).

The car itself is falling, as it moves down and out of the poster. The female silhouettes in the background are rising, which can symbolize the second half of he film (them challenging Stuntman Mike). There is tension, I think, in the darkness of the car. I also think there are good color choices made in this poster. Stuntman Mike in the dark going what could be into darkness and away from the light (sunrise) shown behind the silhouetted ladies. The objects fill up the center viewpoint again bringing your eye to the middle and lower portions of the poster.

The negative space in the poster can also symbolize the location (which is the country--middle of nowhere). Stuntman Mike is driving but is in the shadows (representing his dark and menacing character). The blackness contrasts well with the red color choices in the background and in the title text. I don’t think this poster would look the same without these colors. If it were in live color with actual shots of the actors, the poster wouldn’t have the same effect. The car almost looks as if it were erased away at the headlights to give off the effect of bright headlights, emulating nighttime. Whoever the artist was behind this poster did a great job, I think.

I didn’t need to be sold to buy the poster and the DVD, because I already knew what the film was about. I think for an outsider, they’d be pretty curious just by looking at the film.
    People can talk about how bad this movie was. Or how it was one of the worst/schlocky B movies, but I don’t care. I have a thing for bad movies, I guess. Quentin Tarantino is one of my favorite directors and Death Proof is one of my favorite movies.


8th Original Photo: (Home Decor) Shape

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I took this photo because there are lots of shapes in the little knickknacks that my mom bought for around the home. This object--I'm not really sure what it is--has a curvy shape. Like a vase, but that's not its purpose. Almost like a lamp of some kind. I took the word shape literally to mean a figure.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

7th Original Photo: Symmetry (At the table)

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I decided to take this photo while I was at work, again. There are plenty of photo opportunities at a consignment shop. It was actually harder to find a symmetric set up than I thought it would be. I was looking for shapes and we don't get too many of the same items. So I thought this dining set would be a great example. Each of the chairs are positioned opposite each other so that their identical.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Video Scavenger Hunt

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Fellow Group 2 Members: Lindsey McCabe & Lauren Ramon

Visual Review 6: Target '11 Christmas

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I chose this because it's one of the very few commercials that I can remember that made me laugh. Whenever you mention "Crazy Target Lady", everyone knows who you're talking about. This video is very basic. It doesn't have a lot of camera movement nor does it rely on to many effects, or various types of camera shots/angles for comic relief . This commercial alone relies on the actor to really sell Target.

It reminds me of when we were talking about the Some Like it Hot train car scene. It's obvious that this wasn't shot in an actual Target store because in order to physically see her go down the card isle, you would have to knock the isle down. For most of the duration of the commercial the camera trucks from left to right with her as the woman travels down the isle. There are medium close-ups as we see her singing into the audio cards and recording her voice. This camera shot is effective for showing her facial expressions which gives comedic relief.

The camera cuts between medium close up shots of the woman, and as she sits the card down on the isle the camera shows us a close up of the card she puts down. As she finishes her Christmas jingle, we are given a long shot (not wide--probably to create the illusion of being in Target with long, narrow isles) as she pushes her cart off and exits.

The color choices are good, in that they reflect the setting of the store. Her bright red dress fits her enthusiastic-Christmas-spirited character and contrasts well with the surroundings of the store. This season works with Target well as it not only promotes the Christmas holiday but their corporation--associating it with the red color. I think this commercial is clear in promoting the product and selling it, the point comes across clearly, it’s not too long and we establish this character that we see again in future commercials.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Visual Review 5: Nikka Costa "Like a Feather"

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Nikka Costa is an American singer-songwriter who fuses funk, soul and blues into her music. Costa’s “Like a Feather” single first premiered in 2000 in a Tommy Hilfiger ad, which jump-started the singer’s career. Her debut U.S. album Everybody Got Their Something was released in 2001.

The video begins with a wide shot of what appears to be a stage or studio. This video has one setting for the entire duration. The background is a digital screen that will project geometric designs along with Nikka’s name throughout the video. We have medium close up shots of the singer as she begins singing the song. We have contrast with the red designs on the screen and her blue ensemble that also contrasts against her red hair. 

The shots then are split into four multiple frames all showing the same thing. It’s almost reminiscent of the “Brady Bunch” opening sequence. Identical frames are stacked to create four small blocks. These blocks are also divided into two half’s where the left side shows a wide shot of Nikka and the right side shows a mid-close up of her on the microphone.

We have some low angles, not extreme. And consistent throughout is the mirror-like effect where the shot becomes symmetric. Two Nikka’s are shown on the screen side by side dancing. We have cuts back and forth between symmetric shots and the four stacked frames with wide shots and then medium close ups. Then we’re shown the same frame stacked on top of one another creating this stack of blocks large on the outside and that are smaller towards the center. 

There are more symmetric wide shots with the screen split in half, cutting to Nikka’s mid-section. Wide shots are combined with the stacked frames and become smaller wide shots that show her full frame. I liked how various shots are lit and then others are in the dark. For most of the video, the light fills the entire set but for certain sections of the song, the light is only coming from the digital screen in the background.

There is a quick extreme close up of Costa’s mouth through a lens in the shape of a circle—it’s not fish eye. The effect with four stacked blocks evolve from showing the same shot to playing one simultaneously after the other in rhythm with the music. The camera editing cuts back and forth between the mid close ups and then to three thin frames of Nikka. Profile shots and medium close ups show again her singing at the microphone. We have a few high angle shots while the lights are out and the stage is only lit by the screen and an EWS from a high angle. 

After the first verse it’s pretty repetitive—which I don’t think is a bad thing. We have continuous shots switching from multiple frames to wide frames. There are no dolly-ins or even panning which I found to be interesting. The camera stays in one position throughout. I think that works fine because with Nikka’s moving and the flashing going on in the background it would have been too much. The video has that geometric shape/seventies design going on where the patterns are shots of Costa singing which I thought was cool and brings out the red and blue colors well. Effective use of light and shadow towards the end where again the only light source is from the digital screen but you can see Costa’s silhouette and those blue and red colors look nice against one another. Towards the end there are some extreme low angles towards the bottom giving off the effect that the camera is flat on the ground. 

I personally love the effects put on the video. It adds to the fun nature of the song and really enhances the beats and sounds that are heard throughout. The dancing/movement are synchronized perfectly with the flashing images and I think the creative team did a good job choosing colors and the setting. I couldn't imagine this video shot on location in a street somewhere. The video compliments the song perfectly.

Monday, October 8, 2012

6th Original Photo: (Clothing) Contrast

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I decided to take this photo while I was at work. I work at a consignment shop so there always new and exciting things to be found there. As I was looking around I saw the blue scarf and knew instantly I wanted to show contrast of something against it. We have loads of costume jewelry so I thought something red would look great and stand out against the scarf. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

5th Original Photo: Saturation

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I actually discovered this photo opportunity while shooting my scavenger hunt assignment. These flowers were in the right position and gave off a bright color. I used photo editing software to saturate the color and enhance the yellow in the flower.

Visual Review 4: "Moonstruck"

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Via Pinterest
“Loretta Castorini, a book keeper from Brooklyn, New York, finds herself in a difficult situation when she falls for the brother of the man she agreed to marry (who is the best friend of her late husband who died seven years previously) (IMDb).

      The film was released December 18, 1987 by MGM. Moonstruck starred Cher, Nicolas Cage, Olympia Dukakis, Danny Aiello and Vincent Gardenia. Directed by Norman Jewison, this love story shows that anything can happen under “La Bella Luna”—a full moon.

      The movie open with wide shots of New York City, there are extreme wide shots of the cityscape. These shots show places that are later revised in the story (i.e. The Met—which is a key moment later in film). We are introduced to the main character Loretta, an Italian middle aged widow who is book keeper for the local shops in Brooklyn Heights.

      Throughout the film, not only through the camera moves but also through the dialogue there are instances of repetition (i.e., shots of the moon; and scenes with the professor arguing with this dates; accusations of being a wolf). There are also several references of the moon made by characters: Pop’s comment every time he walks the dogs “la Bella Luna” or “Did you see the Bella moon out tonight?” We are also given a reference outside of the dialogue: The Luna Restaurant shown during a street scene.

      In the beginning of the movie, Loretta’s boyfriend, Johnny Cammareri (Danny Aiello), proposes to her over dinner at The Grand Ticino, which is the neighborhood restaurant. They agree to start their wedding plans as soon as he returns from Sicily to tend to his dying mother. Johnny asks Loretta to invite his brother Ronny to the wedding—the two have bad blood and he wants a clean slate. During this dinner scene and in the others through the film, there are many two shots. There is a perfect moment of that when Loretta goes to Cammareri’s Bakery to talk to Ronny (Cage) and the camera cuts to the two women standing next one another as they watch Ronny and Loretta argue. The two go to Ronny’s apartment to talk—after Ronny reveals he was engaged lost his hand during an argument with his brother while slicing bread. His fiancĂ© left him because of the incident and that’s why the two aren’t on speaking terms--Loretta tells Ronny that he is a "wolf" (there’s another reference here; repetition) for allowing himself to cut off his hand instead of be entrapped by marriage. That instance sets Ronny off and he grabs Loretta and kisses her. “Wait a minute! Wait a minute!” she yells then the two make love. There are dolly-ins and truck-ins as we move through Ronnie’s apartment. During their dialogue cut-ins are used to show them pouring and drinking whiskey. After Cage and Cher’s’ love scene--as well as other scenes in the film-- we are show again shots of the moon.

      There is effective use of light and shadow to showcase location and time of day. Dolly-ins take us into the setting so they audience gets a feel of where the characters are (i.e., showing us rendezvous shot of the father with mistress—here we see like father, like daughter).

Source: google.com via Liz on Pinterest
      This film has a lot of camera movements and shots and alternates between them throughout. I feel as if that is a common formula in romantic comedies because of the content and emotion they want to convey through the characters. Any extreme shots would take away from the story and here we have close-ups, two-shots, and mid-shots to show us intimate moments which are necessary for the film. Shots of the moon are done from low angles and shown with a cast of fog surrounding it, and symbolize passages of time. At night—after Loretta and Ronny’s love scene--the characters gaze at the moon which creates streams of light over their faces and shadows to enhance the characters moods. During this same night scene, textures are shown from the lace curtains onto faces and blinds onto skins so that moon reflects patterns. We are shown scale through a low angle, and a view of the Brooklyn Bridge, as we transition from night to day.

     The next day, Ronny confesses his love to Loretta who is disheveled and knows what she did was wrong. Ronny agrees to leave her alone if he can have the two things he loves for one night: The Opera and Loretta. She agrees to see La Boheme with him at The Met later that night.

      As a catholic woman, Loretta feels the right thing to do is to go to confession. Again there are cut-ins which focus on the priests’ hands during confession, which is enhances the moment of privacy. We are shown high angle shots of stairwell at the home and when we revisit The Met we are shown extreme wide shots so that one gets a sense of the vastness of the theater. During the dinner scenes (Rose and the professor) the restaurant provide a lot of distractions, and to keep the audience focused on the characters, the camera zooms in so that the background is out of focus and your full attention is on the dialogue. There are warm colors shown in the scenes indoors – these color choices of the clothing of the women in the kitchen and the color on the walls create a feeling of warmth from the household. Darker colors and shades are associated with night. After the opera we see the two characters in the bar and we are shown a deep depth of field shot so the two characters in background are in focus even though the condiments are closest to the screen. After the Opera, Loretta finds out about her father’s affair and comes to realize that she’s in love with Ronny after all—she may not say it until the end but you can see a change that begins when she and Ronny start to hold hands during the show.
     The ending brings together the typical structure of a romantic comedy. It turns out to be just Loretta’s luck that Johnny has to call off the engagement because his sick mother was cured and if he marries her, his mother will die (What?!). This gives Ronny the perfect opportunity to propose to Loretta. “Where’s the ring?”, and after Ronny borrows Johnny’s pinky ring, Loretta accepts and confesses “I love him awful”. The camera dolly outs and trucks left and right as we leave the house as a form of closure. The story has been told and we end with panned left and right shots of family portraits, which symbolized one of the themes for the film which is family. The final shot is a mid-shot of the updated family portrait with the newest addition—Ronny—to the picture.

      I thought this was a great movie, I especially loved the dialogue. It’s very smart and witty. The two actresses awarded with Oscars for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress were well deserved. Cher and Olympia Dukakis delivered wonderful performances. I’m proud to own this film listed on AFI’s top 10 romantic comedies.

Sources: IMDb, AFI, Wikipedia