For this week’s storified content, I wanted to start to build on one of the ideas I had previously. I really like what I talked about last week, focusing on video game addiction (If you missed it, check it out here). I want to take this one step further to truly make it a story that I can use for my final project. I think that the true story is not about video game addiction, but of the struggle for the person addicted to video games. I have lived this story myself when I was in college, so it hits very close to home (I was academically dismissed from school as a result–don’t worry, I got back in!). The real story here starts with some recreational video game use. It then progresses into a more competitive environment, leading to the addiction aspect. Certain things suffer in the person’s life as a result of the addiction (i.e. relationships, schoolwork, etc.), and then there is the eventual realization that the addiction is very real and very unhealthy. The person then overcomes the addiction and is a better person as a result. This story definitely has a happy ending, but there are countless struggles and hardships along the way. I think this would be a really good thing to focus on for the final project, and the wheels are already turning for some fun media that I can add to my post 🙂
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:
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.
When I was in college, I took a couple film classes. While I enjoy occasionally going to the movies, I certainly never considered myself a film buff. I enjoy the action, the comedy, the emotions of film, but I didn’t realize how little I appreciated those things until I took those classes. Learning how to look at a film from a director’s eyes lends itself to an unbelievable viewing perspective. You start to realize that there isn’t a single object inside the frame that is just there “randomly.” Everything has a purpose, everything means something. So I was excited to get back into this with this blog assignment.
As I read through How to read a movie by Roger Ebert, I was reminded of the hours I spent in class going through some of the classic films from the last century. I also watched videos about two of my favorite directors–Quentin Tarantino and Alfred Hitchcock. Tarantino’s use of low angle shots almost always stays true to Ebert’s suggestion that the person being shown exhibits dominance or importance. Truthfully, though, I was much more interested in the Hitchcock video. In the video, he suggests that film editing, and cuts in particular, can have a powerful impact on the way the viewer perceives a scene. As he says, the same smile can be sweet when the guy is looking at a mom and her baby, but infinitely more creepy when looking at a girl in a bikini.
This implies that a director should always use cuts to his or her advantage. However, this doesn’t mean using an obscene number of cuts in every film. My absolute favorite Hitchcock movie is Rope, in which Hitchcock only used 10 cuts in the entire film. This makes each cut so much more impactful, so much more meaningful. To anyone interested in film editing and composition, I highly recommend watching Rope (or any Hitchcock move, for that matter!).
For this week’s assignment, I decided to go in a little bit of a different direction. In past weeks, I came up with ideas that were more process oriented (i.e. my pedalboard example). However, this week I decided to come up with something a little more conceptual which I think ultimately lends itself better to a story (rather than just “instructions”). This concept is video game addiction. This is something that affects many people (see the Wikipedia link here), and I think it is a form of addiction that is only now just starting to be recognized as a serious addiction. Similar to a drug addiction, addiction to video games can consume a person’s life, break down all family and personal relationships, and can even cause physical harm (carpel tunnel syndrome, sleep loss, etc.). Despite all the information that is starting to become available about video game addiction, it is still a concept that is foreign to many people. Many of these people do not believe it is actually a thing, so I would love to create a story to help explain it to everyone.
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:
The first design assignment I tried was the person’s face on an animal’s body. This one started off innocently, but as I was browsing through Facebook pictures, I found a truly terrifying picture of a buddy of mine from high school. It didn’t take much creative thinking to realize that this would be perfect to use as a face on a big gorilla. In terms of how I did it, I used Adobe Photoshop for the entire process. I enlarged and squared off his mouth and added some “wrinkles” to give him an angrier looking face. Then I blurred the face into the gorilla a little bit to make it look more “natural.” I may have gotten a little carried away–it’s pretty scary looking and I don’t think my buddy will be too pleased!
The next assignment I completed was a little less of a stretch. As you may remember from my previous posts, I’ve played guitar for almost 20 years. My guitar hero is Paul Gilbert from Mr. Big and Racer X. He’s an unbelievably talented guitarist and I’ve tried to emulate a lot of his playing style in my own. You can see him playing my absolutely favorite guitar solo ever in his cover of While My Guitar Gently Weeps here at about the 3:20 mark:
Anyway, I took a picture of me playing at one of my own gigs up in Worcester, MA–I love the face I’m making since I think it is very “rock n’ roll,” and I think it works perfectly on Paul’s body. I used Photoshop to crop out my head from the original picture and then added it to Paul’s body. I had to blend the background a little bit since our heads aren’t exactly the same size ;-). Anyway, check out all three images here:
I love having fun in Photoshop, so I really enjoyed this assignment. It was a little creepy at first, although I’m pretty sure that was my fault!