Monday, November 26, 2012

Visual Review 10: Beyoncé "Countdown"

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This video sees the "Run The World (Girls)" singer paying homage to different movies, musicals and icons of the 1950s through the 1990s. Directed by Adria Petty, Knowles shows off her baby bump while dancing around in colorful leotards to this upbeat love anthem. Most of the effects in this video were applied after the music video was shot. The video has faced controversy for ripping off choreographer, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, and some of her pieces.

The video opens with a close shot of Knowles as she begins to sing the song. Her hair and makeup are reminiscent of English model, Twiggy. A lot of the effects used play with the coloring and the lighting seen throughout the video. The next shot is a full body-shot of Knowles moving her arms like a clock. The clip here appears to have been sped up. We have simple black and white lines falling into and out of the frame that serves as a background image. The black and white is also reflected in her outfit she is seen in. The video then splits into multiple frames as Beyoncé begins to countdown in her song. The video cuts between mid-shots and fast moving, slim frames showing her full figure. Then we are shown the black loafers and white socks (referencing Michael Jackson) and the dance moves are similar to that of Audrey Hepburn in the film, FunnyFace.

A lot of the post-shooting effects added are cuts of Beyoncé in bright colored bathing suits. She also wears a black and white hat and these shots are set against a colored background that constantly changes. In this mid-close ups Knowles showcases her baby bump. This frame then splits in two, again. Then we are taken to an audition space--the entire video is shot in a New York warehouse--where we are shown wide shots of Knowles and her dancers referencing the 1980's movie, Fame. We also see symmetrical shots where there are two frames created showing the same image, and as she turns and as the dancers move, we see two bodies moving towards the center.

One of the next scenes is a extreme wide shot of 10 different versions of Beyoncé dancing to the countdown in the loft space. While researching for the video, MTV Newsroom stated that this shot is "the key scene where [she] puts all her aforementioned sides into perspective" (MTV). Throughout the video we stick with this mod, black and white color scheme seen through the background, clothing and space of the loft. Then we are thrown splashes of vibrant colors reminiscent of the 60s. Among the many references in this music video, we have yet another when the video cuts to shots of Knowles in a men's dress shirt with her hair tied up with a scarf: Bridget Bardot. These shots contrast well with the soft colors used in the background and from the dress shirts. These wide shots are split and fall out of the scene to take us back to the wide warehouse audition space. Channeling Diana Ross from Dreamgirls (more post-shooting effects with the double frame meshed to look there are two Beyoncé's. This shot is also split into three frames where we have lines moving in the background, again staying with the black and white color scheme), snap choreography reminiscent of West Side Story, and finally more wide shots of dancing around the loft space with the off the shoulder top taking us back to Flashdance. Fast moving frames and close-ups of the singer are basically the entirety of the video.

There are rarely any actual camera moves except for the ending--it's hard to tell if when she's sitting in the chair if the camera is doing a dolly-out or if it's more of a zoom-out. The camera is pretty static throughout. This music video relies on the visuals, movement and looks of the singer to really pull it off. I think despite the controversy that it was a success.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Self Portrait


I decided to take this photo because I'm always facing towards the camera and always smiling so I wanted to do the opposite for this portrait. I used curve adjustments did a cross process (RGB) which really enhanced the colors in the photo, making the green and red very rich giving it a nice contrast. I then used a tilt shift blur which allowed me to pick center spot--wherever I wanted that to be--and distort and twist everything around that point which remains clear while everything else shifts/blurs.

A lot of my most personal objects that represent me are in my room. I have this collage (and two others) I started making my freshmen year at my previous school. The collage is made up of old class assignments, letters, photos, pamphlets from events that I attended, written jokes and cut out calendar dates. All of this marks some of my best memories. I also cut out a picture I took in NY of a marquee (on Broadway) at the theater where my favorite musical used to play. The show happened to be ending on my birthday so I thought that would be a perfect final touch of my collage of me.

For this, I turned the saturation way up to really enhance the color in the photo, then I slid the hue to this purple/pink-ish color so that the entire photo would have this tint. I then used a filter to diffuse the picture. The other effect used was a movie camera lens flare to reflect off of the picture within the picture.

I wanted this photo to represent the budding actress in me. Here I have what I believe to be my most important roles I've played so far. The main photograph is a photo I took of a show I directed (Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None). The Capulet was taken from a picture of me wearing my Capulet T shirt from a role I played in Romeo & Juliet--I just cropped out the letters and pasted them onto the main photo. To the left is another one of my characters from The Fiddler on The Roof and towards the front is my greatest accomplishment thus far--AU's Glengarry Glen Ross. 

I used a color balance to cool the picture by adding more of a blue tint to it. I liquified some of the faces of my cast by distorting their height, shifting their bodies around, bloating and puckering their faces. I also made the adjustment for the Glengarry photo to make it B&W, then I used the color balance again to match it with the background photo.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Visual Review 9: Esperanza Spalding's Website

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Esperanza Spalding Website
The website I chose was Esperanza Spalding's. Spalding is an American multi-instrumentalist best known as a jazz bassist and singer. I chose this website because it was actually memorable visually due to its simplicity.

When you first visit you are shown a picture frame. Within the picture frame is a collage with two doors. Each of the doors represent two of her albums. The grey door on the right represents her newest album Radio Music Society and the wood double doors on the left represent her earlier album, Chamber Music Society. When you enter the door of each album, they each have their own themes that correspond with the look of the actual CD. The text for RMS has the effect of resembling bubble letters/they are 3D-like. CMS, is basic font in all caps. With the designs going on, simple text plays just fine here.

Her website has a very clean and simple look, yet it still is effective in showcasing her work. At the top of both pages we are shown a video slider of various clips of Spalding along with white text of positive reviews of the singer. It's not distracting, it draws you to the words by these critics making you want to hear what Esperanza sounds like. For Radio Music Society page the header is like a radio.

The text of Esperanza's name is bigger and spread across the top so it doesn't go unnoticed. It's also displayed in an interesting text that's almost faded. And the first E is written uniquely that really draws your eye to the center. The dials on this "radio" navigate you through the site for info on tours, biography, videos, music, pictures and to her store where you can buy merchandise.

The background of Radio Music Society has this distressed-like background. A rough texture that really complements the other colors of the site. Along with the background there is a bass guitar placed on the right side of the screen. It's very simple and represents Esperanza as well. They blend well together. There is no extravagant font. It's very basic and easy to red.

A newer feature to Spalding's website, which was not there a few months ago is a style blog of Esperanza's fashion. As soon as you click a door you get a pop up of a notice with bold font telling you to visit Spalding's style blog. Pop-ups can be annoying to everyone, but I'm hoping it won't always be that way. Eventually they may take it down.

The colors for Chamber Music Society are warmer, resembling the photos and colors of her CD. At the header of this page we are shown video and picture sliders with critic's reviews. Again it's not distracting. I find it interesting that this slider isn't as wide as the one on RMS. Her name is bigger on this page, again it's as if the background block of color was added on first then text was written on top, erasing whatever color was underneath. So it has this sprayed, distressed look.

Navigation for this page doesn't resemble a radio but it almost looks like outlet plugs to music equipment (like an amp). The text for the navigation is on the fancy side. The font isn't as relaxed/simple as Radio Music Society, but a little more formal for the Chamber Orchestra she collaborates with. The background shows a room. It looks as if the image has been darkened and the contrast has been taken away to blend and to not make it the center of attention. On the left, we are shown the instrument she is known for paying, the cello. I feel as if this is the one picture/background image that implies linear perspective. This room is bigger, there is something that goes on further beyond this one section of the room we're being shown.

The only thing annoying for me on the site is the music player at the top right. It automatically plays which can be distracting. I don't like being bombarded with music whenever I visit a website. Although her music is pleasant and soothing to the ears, maybe designers figure viewers won't mind hearing samples as they navigate.

Whoever is behind the coding/designing for her website is very smart in not putting to much on one page. It's easy to navigate. The colors don't wash out one another and one element isn't distracting. Thus, you can spend more time on the site and that's probably what admins want viewers/fans to do.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

10th Original Photo: Repulsive (Litter)

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It may seem weird or even gross to you. But if you had to clean out the litter box of two cats who share the same box for 7+ years, you'd be repulsed by it. Cause I definitely am.