Category Archives: Video

Video games ruined my life. Good thing I have two extra lives.

One hot summer day, Eric, a student at the local state college, decided he needed some new excitement in his life. He had heard a lot of good things from his friends about a new video game for Xbox called Halo, so he decided to go buy it. Eric had been playing video games for years, but he had heard this one was different. This one was a first-person shooter and apparently had some really amazing graphics, but this particular game allowed players to play against each other online. Eric was excited about being able to play against people from around the world, so he drove down to the mall to purchase a copy.

Eric started small, only playing the game a few times a week after he returned from class. His copy of Halo came with a special edition headset and controller that allowed him to communicate and interact with the people he was playing with in ways that in other games was not possible (click the image below to see what they looked like!).

halo poster with controller and headset

But the more Eric continued to play the game, the more he wanted to continue to get better and better. He was a pretty self-motivated person to begin with, and this motivation drove him to try to be the best in anything he did. He began playing with the same people every night; sometimes into the wee hours of the morning. He loved playing Halo so much that he even decided to change his ringtone on his cellphone:

Once Eric started playing Halo into the wee hours of the morning, he started sleeping through his classes. He was too tired to go to class, and even when he woke up, all he wanted to do was play more Halo. Although Eric had historically been a pretty diligent student, Halo started to become more important to him than school. Skipping classes meant he started missing assignments, and as a result, his grades began to suffer. However, Eric didn’t care. He only wanted to get better and better at Halo.

This continued desire to improve at Halo began to wear on Eric’s relationships. He had always been a pretty sociable guy with a large group of friends and a busy social calendar. However, the countless hours of Halo began replacing the parties and get-togethers Eric was accustomed to attending. After a while, Eric’s friends stopped calling because they knew he would rather stay in and play Halo than come and hang out with them. Eric had seemingly made new friends online in Halo, but he didn’t realize how this was affecting his real friendships.

The more Eric played, the more the game wore on his emotions. While he was oblivious to his deteriorating friendships, the lack of sleep combined with his overwhelming desire to improve began to make him very agitated. He started losing his patience easily, and his roommates were often awaken in the middle of the night by him screaming and cursing at the TV. In fact, one roommate even videotaped one such encounter (unbeknownst to Eric):

Please note, this video contains language that may not be appropriate for all viewers……

There was seemingly no hope for Eric to break this detrimental pattern. Eric was playing Halo 15-20 hours a day, failing all of his classes, and was completely estranged from all of his friends. His only friends were people he never met in person, only online. In one of his many online sessions, one of his ‘new friends’ mentioned a big Halo tournament that was happening down in Orlando, FL. They all decided that they would buy plane tickets and pay the registration fee that evening. That night, Eric got on his computer and started searching for plane tickets. He found the perfect ticket and entered his credit card information. As he was about to submit and pay to confirm his reservation, Eric received a text message from an old friend asking him to come to a party that night. He hadn’t talked to this friend in months, but the result of the text was an emotional tidal wave. Eric became self-aware for the first time since that warm summer day when he first bought Halo. He realized that he was addicted to the game, and all of the other things he cared about had suffered dramatically as a result.

Fighting back tears, Eric responded to his friend’s text message. Determined to beat his addiction, Eric asked his friend for help. Within minutes, Eric’s friend knocked on the door and came in to console him. The wakeup call did not cure Eric’s addiction, but it was a step in the right direction. Although it was easy enough to stop playing Halo, the uphill battle that Eric faced as a result of his addiction was far from over. He was still failing his classes, and many of his friends were hurt by how he seemingly stopped caring about them for months on end. However, that same drive and personal motivation that brought Eric down the path to video game addiction helped him get back on his feet. Determined to mend all the bridges he burned, Eric resolved to turn his life around. He went out with his friend for one of the most fun nights of his life, and smiled as he went to bed that night feeling like the weight of the world had finally been lifted off his shoulders.

weight-off-my-shoulders

Musicless Music Video

This was another fun one for me–music videos can be some of the strangest films, even when the actual music is playing. Just like the actual song, a music video is often a piece of art and an artist’s expression in and of itself. That’s why I like this assignment so much. It lets me ruin an artist’s vision and create my own! That sounds awful, but I think it’s a lot of fun to be able to take inspiration from other people and turn it into something new. As you might have expected, I decided to take a comedic approach to this. I chose a very dark and sinister music video (Raining Blood by Slayer), and decided to make it a little lighter. I found a sound effect of a guy laughing in a sinister manner, but he has a cold so it doesn’t end up sounding very sinister. Then, just as the band hits the stage, the Benny Hill theme song comes in. Seeing a heavy metal band headbanging to the Benny Hill theme is definitely something special to behold! To cap it all off, I added in a little girl giggling at the very end because who wouldn’t want to laugh after all that?! Check it out here:

Do The Hitch Cut!

I gave this one a shot because I just think there are endless possibilities. This technique, as Alfred Hitchcock describes, is a way to use editing to change the emotion of a scene. As he describes, the same reaction can appear very differently depending on what you cut to/from. For my example, I found three video clips on YouTube. First, I found a funny clip of a dog on a couch. Then, I found a clip of Jim Carrey and Conan O’Brien laughing. Lastly, I found a clip of a tornado ripping through a suburban backyard. As you can imagine, puppies and tornados generally elicit drastically different reactions. In my mashup, Carrey and O’Brien laugh at the funny dog clip, making them seem like fun-loving people. However, the clip then cuts to the tornado ripping through the backyard and then shows Carrey and O’Brien laughing again, making them appear sadistic and unsympathetic. Check it out here:

Look, Listen, Analyze!

For this blog, I chose to watch a clip from one of my favorite movies–Ocean’s 12 (the first one was better, but I still love this scene!). This particular scene is great because it is a perfect demonstration of why I love these movies so much. The on-screen chemistry between George Clooney and Brad Pitt is comedic gold! Check out the clip here:

So in order to analyze this clip, I first turned the volume all the way down and watched it with no sound. Right off the bat, the room is dark and the person in the frame is shrouded in shadows. There is a sliver of light coming in through the curtained window, implying that the person in the frame was awakened suddenly in the morning. The person picks up the phone and his head drops, implying that he received some bad news. Finally, he switches on a light. The camera then cuts to a shot of a door opening and Brad Pitt standing behind it. The door opening could symbolize that a certain amount of time has passed. You still don’t see the face of the person on the left of the frame, but the implication is that this is the same person who was just awaken suddenly. Finally, the camera cuts to show George Clooney looking confused. There is dialogue between the two, and each time someone speaks, the camera cuts to show them from over the other person’s shoulder. This signifies an exchange of conversation and tries to put the viewer into the scene and give them a “real” perspective. Finally, Pitt invites Clooney into the room and the camera cuts to a small TV. The TV plays for a bit and then the camera cuts to the two guys on the couch drinking wine. In between Pitt and Clooney is a another curtained window with a sliver of light coming through, just like when the scene started. Neither person is looking at one another–they’re just staring straight ahead at the TV. However, there is an implication of a comfortable relationship between the two. They drink their wine simultaneously, exchange a few sporadic comments, but otherwise not much takes place after they sit on that couch.

Next, I only listened to the scene. The first sound is a phone ringing and a person abruptly getting up to answer it. There’s some sighing when the voice on the phone tells him it is time to wake up, signifying that this is an unexpected call. Next, the sound cuts to a knock on a door and a door opening, introducing another character into the scene. There’s an exchange between the two characters and they realize that the wakeup call was actually a trick. The character who opened the door invites the other inside, and it sounds like a TV show or movie is playing in the background. This sound continues throughout the rest of the scene, almost like it is a necessary distraction to the conversation. Additionally, once the TV starts playing, the conversation begins to die down with very few words exchanged between the two characters. Finally, one of the characters makes a comment about what’s on the TV and music immediately starts playing, signifying the end of the scene.

Lastly, I watched the scene as intended–with audio and video. This is why the scene is one of my favorites–the chemistry between the two is so good, so comfortable, and so funny. It is like the two are so comfortable with one another that once they sit on the couch, they are effectively having two separate conversations but it isn’t weird at all. Brad Pitt is talking about his problems and George Clooney doesn’t even address them when he finally speaks, but there is an implication that their friendship runs so deep that it doesn’t matter. Pitt is also in a bathrobe, implying that the two are just very comfortable around one another. The relationship is effortless, and this is why the interactions are so good.

Storified and Non Storified Content (Week 4)

Keeping in line with the guitar/rock n’ roll theme of the week, I had another thought for something that could use some storifying. Some of you may have seen this before, but a lot of electric guitar players use a series of effects pedals to modify the sound of their amplified guitar. These pedals are typically placed on a Velcro mat called a pedal board. One confusing aspect is simply fitting all your pedals on the board. Another confusing aspect is deciding what order to place the pedals. The latter is most confusing, I think, because the order actually does matter. A delay pedal going through an overdrive pedal going through a de-tuner pedal might sound a little muddy since you’re digitally affecting a large number of effects. However, if you put the de-tuner first, you are simply de-tuning the raw guitar signal and then adding the effects on after that. Although it seems like a minute difference, it actually has a huge impact. Anyway, here is a quick visual representation of how confusing a pedal board can be:

01-old_pedalboard

I’ll play you for your Big Mac…

Oh boy, this is one of my all time favorites! There really aren’t any lows in this story–all high peaks! Growing up a Boston Celtics fan, I absolutely loved Larry Bird, but I was also a HUGE Michael Jordan fan, so this was just a perfect blend of awesome. Let’s all take a trip down memory lane and watch what I consider one of the best Super Bowl commercials ever produced:

So let’s break this hilariously brilliant commercial down into 5 second intervals:

0:00-0:05 – Some lighthearted music plays as the camera fades in to show a long shot of a basketball court. Despite the lighthearted music, the title “The Showdown” appears on the screen, indicating a competition. As the title appears, Larry Bird bounces the basketball, which is a loud sound (breaking up the lightheartedness). Michael Jordan appears in the shadows, as if a dark horse is approaching (i.e. “the challenger”). Jordan places a dark bag on a chair and takes a seat, as Bird asks, “What’s in the bag?” A simple answer comes from Jordan with a small smile, “Lunch.”

0:06-0:10 – The lighthearted music is still playing, but now there are closeups of each player’s faces as if to suggest fierce competition between the two. Jordan continues to answer Bird’s question about what is in the bag by saying, “Big Mac, Fries…” Bird instantly responds with, “Play you for it!” The lighthearted music instantly stops and there is silence as the camera flips back to Jordan. This is the challenge! Jordan is seemingly incredulous that he would have to work so hard for his lunch! It’s HIS lunch, after all!

0:11-0:15 – “First one to miss watches the winner eat!” Bird is making it very clear that he has no intention of losing. The camera continues to shoot closeups of both player’s faces as they contemplate the challenge. Finally, the camera shows a mid-closeup shot of the two of them with Bird holding the basketball as he says, “Noooo dunking!” They both smile at this, showing that this is still a friendly challenge.

0:16-0:20 – A HUGE cymbal crash as upbeat music starts to play, signifying the start of the challenge. A shot of both players standing at the edge of the court with Jordan shooting, and then the camera goes to a shot of just the basketball flying through the air. This shot gives the appearance that it was a long and difficult shot to make. However, the next shot is of the basketball going into the basket. This is followed by another shot of a basketball going into the basket. This last piece is an interesting storytelling technique–the director does not show both players shooting (only Jordan), but shows both balls going to give the viewer the impression that both players shot and made it. Then, the camera shows both players sitting up on the rafters in the gymnasium. The camera is situated below them to give the impression that the are very high up in the air.

0:21-0:25 – The upbeat continues as Jordan starts describing the next shot. The director employs another interesting storytelling technique here by showing the basketball following Jordan’s directions as he is explaining them. This shortens the sequence (rather than have him explain and then shoot), and allows the action to keep moving. The director then shows a rapid sequence of a number of basketballs going into the basket one after the other to imply that more shots have taken place. Then, the camera cuts to both players standing outside of the gym, looking up at an open window.

0:26-0:30 – Jordan describes the shot he is going to take as the camera follows the ball through the window and into the basket (similar to the last segment). Another perfect basket made!

0:31-0:34 – The director shows a closeup of the Big Mac sandwich Jordan and Bird are competing for, and then cuts to the two players looking at each other and smiling. They seemingly know that the prize (the Big Mac) is too good to lose. The director is implying that they will keep going forever!