Sunday, November 28, 2010

La Vie Boheme

La Vie Boheme, Rent (Movie)
 To days of inspiration, playing hooky, making something out of nothing
The need to express, to communicate
To going against the grain, going insane, going mad

To loving tension, no pension, to more than one dimension
To starving for attention hating convention, hating pretension
Not to mention of course hating dear old mom and dad

To riding your bike midday past the three piece suits
To fruits, to no absolutes
To Absolut, to choice, to the Village Voice
To any passing fad

To being an us for once
Instead of a them
La vie boheme
La vie boheme

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Field Trip

Last week, on Thursday, November 18th, my media arts class went on a field trip downtown. In the morning we went to the National Film Board, and then in the afternoon, we visited the Art Gallery of Ontario. At the NFB, the first thing we did was meet with two of the staff there to have a discussion about documentaries. At the beginning, we learned about some features found in most documentaries. I think the most important point was that even though they are based on or follow real life events,they are still biased in some ways because they are edited by a person who usually has their own opinion thrown into the story.

 Next, still at the NFB, we watched a documentary called Rip: A Remix Manifesto. This film was telling the story of Girl Talk, a remix artist, and how remixing is becoming controversial in terms of copyrighting. Some people interviewed in the movie said they thought remixing was illegal because it was just using other people’s work, and it was a form of stealing. However, the creator of this movie disagreed with this and was on a quest to prove that remixing really is an art form. I agree with the filmmaker because by the time a remix is made, the new product is completely different from the original. I think remixing requires just as much creativity and skill as other types of art or even playing an instrument. I enjoyed watching this documentary and learned a lot of new things from it, including my favourite new fact ... Warner/Chappell owns the rights to Happy Birthday and everytime it is used they make a profit!

After lunch we continued our field trip by going to the AGO to see an art exhibit. The artwork in the exhibit was by an artist named Julian Schnabel. The paintings were very interesting and they were a style I have never seen before. They were these delicate drawings, but then the artist drew lines of paint or words all over them to purposely make them looked destroyed (seen in one of his paintings pictured on the left). It was a unique way of doing art, but I didn’t really like it because I kept wondering what the picture would look like without being drawn over by paint! However, it is very creative and I appreciate the fact that he is trying to be different.One painting that was cool was the one which had a surfer on a wave in the background, because it resembled a picture done by the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat in the movie we watched in class prior to the field trip. This movie was directed by Julian Schnabel. Overall, this was a great excursion and I got to experience a lot of things that will help my understanding of media arts.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Visions of Light

1. Why were the early non-talkie movies so free with camera movement and location?

The early non-talkies were so free with the movement of the camera and location because they did not have to capture sound while they were taking the shot. They could be in a noisy area or far away from the actors because the sound going on at the time would not be recorded. The shots were about the visual aesthetics, and the most important things were how you saw the actors and the landscape and setting around them.

 2. What were the issues with the very first talkie movies?

The issues when talkie movies were introduced were around how to move the camera. The camera was large and not easily moveable, which made the shots not as creative or different as in non-talkies. Also, the idea of recording the sound that was happening at the time of the shot, like voices, was new, so the sound was not always clear or smooth. The directors and crew of movies spent a lot of time finding ways to improve this new generation of film with innovations such as smaller cameras and equipment with which to move them, as well as better sound technology.


3. Why did 'Citizen Kane' have such a great impact? List some reasons.

-broke away from typical Hollywood cinematography techinques
-combined previos types of filmmaking into one new kind
-used the principle of 'deep focus', where foreground and background were both constantly in sharp focus
-used low-angle shots
-experimentation of lenses and lighting
-story told only in flashbacks
-audio from next scene began before the visual
-sound reverberation
-nominated for nine Academy Awards
-directed by and starring Orson Welles

 4. What is Film Noir?

Film Noir is a genre of film that uses dark and mysterious shots and themes, often found in crime and detective movies during the 1940s. These films use the effects of low, shadowy lighting, depth of field, juxtaposition, and disorienting camera angles. They were usually filmed in areas or sets with little light, such as small dark rooms or hallways, or when they were outside they were located in alleyways, empty streets or abandoned warehouses at night. The films were in black and white and created a mood of fear and desperation, which mirrored people's feeling about the war taking place.

 5. How was colour first introduced to film?

When colour was first introduced, filmmakers would use filters. The filters would go on the camera lens and projector and give the scene a tint of blue, red, or green. Later on, films were hand painted to fill in the colours of the scene. Frame by frame artists would paint on colours, giving a bright and aritifical look. Next, dyes were used to create artificial color. In 1910, film tinting was introduced, where the film base is dyed to create a monochromatic colour thoughour the film. There were specific colours used for certain types of scenes, such a dark blue for night or yellow for early in the day.


6. What effects did the widescreen format have on cinematography?

Widescreen filming affected the cinematography of a movie for lots of reasons. By having a wider field of view, more could be put into a shot and more emphasis was put on composition. Also, by the framing of a movie changing it separated the jobs of director and cinematographer/director of photography because there were more choices about how the camera would be used and someone with experience in photography was needed more often to make decisions about the shots of a movie. In addition, widescreen filming in the 1950s gave viewers more reasons to come to movie theatre since there were not widescreen televisions and the effect of the film would be better perceived in the theatres.

7. Why didn't the director of The Godfather care about drive-in theatres and how dark his film was?

The lighting of the Godfather is a very important part of the movie. Almost all the scenes have dim, low light, which characterizes the people in film. The purpose of this lighting was to emphasis the character's face and focus on the individual and not as much on the set or costumes. This decision was criticized by higher-ups at the movie's production company, but both the director, Coppola, and the director of photography, Willis, stood by their decision. They felt this effect was more important than being able to watch it a drive-in, and they were right, because this technique from the Godfather has often been highly praised. 


8. How did the director of photography use colours in The Last Emperor?

The director of photography used different colours to represent different stages of the main character's life.  His childhood is shown by using warm colours like red, orange and yellow, and the part of the film taking place in Manchuria often uses the colours purple and blue. The scenes when the main character is imprisoned have almost no colour, but the scenes of him after those bad times, as he grows older, have more colours visible. Finally, white represents the end of his journey through life. The different colours represent different moods and feelings the director of photography is trying to evoke. Brighter and warmer colours show times of happiness, and darker or less colours represent sadder times in his life.

9. The track-back/zoom-in shot in Goodfellas signified a psychological change in the relationship between the two protagonists. How did the visuals change with this effect?

This scene that uses a dolly zoom happens during a scene in a diner while two of the main characters are having a conversation. They are sitting in a booth, and even though the booth and the character's aren't moving, the view in the window behind them is continually zooming in. You can watch the scene here:

Friday, November 19, 2010

Wish You Were Here

Pink Floyd - Live in New York, 1988

So, so you think you can tell
Heaven from Hell,
Blue skys from pain.
Can you tell a green field
From a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?

And did they get you to trade
Your heros for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange
A walk on part in the war
For a lead role in a cage?

How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls
Swimming in a fish bowl,
Year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have we found?
The same old fears.
Wish you were here.

The best lyrics of all time - absolutely brillant.