Opening Soon at a Theater Near You

This week, the class was tasked on reading the essay How to Read a Movie, written by American film critic Roger Ebert.  One of the main points that resonated was to look at a still shot of a film, and simply “think about what you see.” Throughout his essay, Mr. Ebert was a firm beliver that analyzing scenes from the movie could influence your understanding of the visual techniques utilized to authenticate the story.  Described as a “shot by shot” technique, by pausing the film to study the approach of how the scene was captured, can affirm the viewer’s emotion or aestheic reaction.

I consider myself to be a very emotional person, especially when it comes to ‘feel-good’ stories.  Often becoming caught up in the moment, perhaps the reason why I tend to react so strongly is because I find the story to be relatable.  For example, storylines that portray characters who “do the right thing,” in my opinion are classified as a ‘feel-good’ movie.  These characters can also be referred to as the protagonist or hero of the story.  In his essay, Mr. Ebert describes that the placement of characters within a scene can support their inclination toward a particular characteristic or type of behavior.  In other words, the person on the right may appear to be more positive, favorable, or dominant over the person situated on the left.  This is an aspect of visual compostition that I have not observed in the past, however, I agree with.  Below is an example where the “positive” character is on the right and the “negative” character is on the left.

angel

Another element of Mr. Ebert’s piece that resonates, is his statement of movement in film as being “dominant over othings that are still.”  I wholeheartedly agree with this statement.  The way that the camera moves across a scene can reiterate the expression that the director is trying to compose.  In the scene below, the character is running up the stairs.  This can be interpreted as him “running towards success” as he continues his training.

rocky_1

All in all, this piece was a great introductory resource leading into the study of film.  Although, I am slightly familiar with who Mr. Ebert was, my exposure to his personality was that he endorsed a “thumbs up, thumbs down” approval meter to movie reviews.  By listing the examples above, his essay helped to provide a better understanding on this topic by clearly laying out definitive examples of visual techniques.  These examples were effective in understanding the relationship between the viewer’s perspective and the delivery of narritive information of the filmmaker.

Directing the Audience Through the Film

In addition to reading Roger Ebert’s essay, the class was also tasked on reviewing various videos highlighting cinematic techniques.  Upon viewing a minimum of four videos, a personal observation on how these techniques may influence our perception of video production is required.

The first video selected is the one titled “Kubrick – one-point perspective.”   One-point perspective exists when the picture plane or image contains only one vanishing point on the horizon line.  It is typically used for images of roads, hallways, or buildings where the lines of the object seem to run parallel with the view.

one shot perspective

This is probably my favorite technique.  The picture shown above is perceived to be very linear and symmetrical.  If you were to fold the image in half, each side would be a mirror-image, respectively.  Also, the entire shot fills the frame with limited space unaccounted for.

This is another example of a one-point perspective of a location that is familiar to the residents of Richmond, VA.  This is a real life image that helps to better understand the topic because of its similarities to the one-point perspective.

Browns Island

It is the underside of Manchester Bridge, which runs across the James River into downtown Richmond.  In this shot, the lines of the bridge run parallel which converge at the vanishing point in the distance.

The second video chosen is titled “The Shining – zooms.”  Zooming is a technique where the camera gives the viewer the illusion of moving through space either toward or away from the object.  This can be accomplished by zooming in, where the lens is adjusted in a way that the focus or object seems to be larger and closer.  Or by zooming out, when the camera widens the view on an object to introduce the overview of the surrounding environment.  I find these two concepts similar to the “fade in/fade out” effect that was utilized when creating a sound clip in Audacity last week.

Dolly-Zoom-Raging-Bull

The third video selected is titled “Tarantino-from below.”  An observation I concluded from this video is that this angle is perceived as the point of view from the victim on the ground looking up.  From the victim’s perspective, the subject or attacker fills the frame, and into a position of dominance and authority. I believe this technique is similar to my observations in the “one-point perspective” technique in that they both fill the frame with either an object, character, or scene.

from below

The fourth video selected is titled “Example of a match cut.”  A match cut is a cut from one shot to another where the two shots are matched by the action or subject matter.

match-cut

The example above was taken from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001:  A Space Odyssey.  Other than this research, match-cut is a technique that I am the least familiar with, however it seems like a fun satire.  Since two images with entirely different backgrounds can be matched to portray a single action, this technique vaguely reminds me of the audio assignments we completed last week, such as the sound effects story.  In this assignment, we were tasked to form a compilation of sounds to tell a story without the narration.  Two images used in a match-cut are essentially doing the same thing – combined in a way to continue a story with or without narration.

After reviewing all of these techniques, most seemed to be familiar, even though I did not know what the specific technique was called.  The knowledge gained from watching all of these cinematic perspectives will enhance my perception of the overall movie by taking into account that these images are most likely to be intentional, and to discover the underlying message.

 

Practice makes Perfect!

Audio – shamaudio.

I dreaded this week with a passion.  Coming into this week, my exposure to audio included listening to various outlets such as broadcast radio.  Nonetheless,  I had no clue how to compile a sound byte or even create an mp3.  I even purposely procrastinated on completing the audio alternative history assignment because I had no earthly clue on where to begin.

However,  in spite of all of my apprehension, I actually enjoyed learning how to navigate through the audio editor Audacity,  and trying my hand at creating something new and entertaining.  A recommendation that really helped was to select a few of the “easy” assignments posted on the Audio Bank, to gain more exposure on editing and layering different sound clips in order to produce a cohesive product.

Watching the video “Layered Audio Editing in Audacity: The Remake” helped tremendously.  It was one of the videos posted in the Audio Resources site, and where I gained the most value.  I resourced freesound.org for all of the sound effects utilized for the audio assignment submissions.  Just like any skill that you encounter, the more you practice the easier it becomes. By the time I was ready to attack the audio alternative history assignment, I completed it in less time than any of the previous assignments due to the fact that I had already been practicing on Audacity.  And I must admit, this has been my most favorite topic so far.

Vamos a Mexico!

This was the first audio assignment that I completed.  It took me almost three hours to compile a ninety second sound byte!  Even now, as I listen to the audio clip that I created, I can pick out different areas where I should have utilized the “Fade In/Fade Out” effects better to maintain fluidity.

The story should portray a person traveling to a Mexican beach.  Sounds of various modes of transportation were utilized, such as a car driving through traffic to get to the airport, and an airplane taking the traveler to their destination.  Music from a mariachi band was downloaded to indicate the destination of Mexico.  In the end, you can hear the waves breaking on the shoreline to help envision a relaxing environment, coupled with a few seagulls squawking in the distance.  My husband and I honeymooned in Isla Mujeres, Mexico in 2015.  The clarity of the water, the smell of the ocean, and the sounds of the beach are ones I will never forget.

A Positive Attitude Changes Everything

This is the second audio assignment that I completed.  Sounds that naturally provide a calming and relaxing atmosphere were chosen.  In addition, I consider myself to be a morning person, and I associate all of these effects as being heard during the morning hours.  The sound of bells were chosen to indicate the start of a religious service.  More beach sounds were selected, along with a person running in the sand, to envision a morning run.  The last sound chosen was thunder and rain, because I personally like waking up to the sound of rain in the morning.

Screen Shot 2018-06-10 at 11.05.39 PM

This is a screen shot of what my Audacity photo editor looked like as I created this sound byte.  In this assignment, I experimented with the volume to create sounds that can be coupled together without overpowering each other.

The Dark Side of the Moon

This is the third assignment that I created and the goal was to put together a compilation of unpleasant sounds to create the worst sound ever.  I am not, nor have I ever been a fan of horror movies.  All these sounds chosen are ones that undoubtedly create an uncomfortable environment.

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The large sound waves are the ominous screeches depicted in the sound byte.  To me, they were the most uncomfortable and unpleasant to listen to.

Freedom Towers – April 4, 2023

This was the dreaded audio alternative history assignment.  While the sound effects story took me three hours to complete, this one only took me about an hour and a half to layer and edit the different sound bytes.  The most time consuming aspect of this assignment was gathering up the facts in order to create the “dedication” speech.  By the way, all the facts of the World Trade Center were taken from the WTC history website.

A few of the sounds that were applied to this assignment included New York City traffic, applause from a telethon, and band music from a Veteran’s Day celebration.  I would image that a dedication ceremony for the World Trade Center would be a very patriotic event to the community of New York, which is why I imagined the towers being dedicated to the NYPD and NYFD.

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I felt very comfortable copying/pasting/deleting various pieces of the sound waves in order to layer a cohesive product.  Also, in Audacity the “silence audio selection” was utilized a great deal because some of these sound waves were very long in length.  The band music for example was 12 minutes long.  However, I trimmed down the area that I needed and pasted it at the end of my clip.

Comments and participation

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This one was on Yousef’s post “Every Horror Movie Ever.”  I told him I thought his sound effects were super scary and I almost did not listen to his created sound byte in its entirety.  It made my skin crawl.

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This comment was made on Abby’s post “What’s your story?”  Although, I appreciated learning something new from her (I had no idea you could add a photo to your SoundCloud,) I really did not get the story she was trying to portray.  The beginning sounded like a beautiful beach with singing birds, but at the end, a large animal growled in my face.  It reminded me of a dinosaur snacking on his lunch.

Daily Creates for the Week

The link above should take you to the two required Daily Create submissions on twitter.

Like I mentioned earlier, I throughly enjoyed this challenging week.  Working with Audacity is not as bad as I expected, however I do feel that I only have  the basic skills mastered.  Any suggestions on an audio editing class to further expand my knowledge base would be greatly appreciated.

The Dark Side of the Moon

Scary noises, such as creaky doors and howling wind, could possibly trigger an apprehensive or uneasy emotion to the listener.  A conceivable conclusion is that the listener may feel threatened or simply just afraid of the unknown.  The audio assignment below is a compilation of undesirable sound effects, designed to create an environment of distress and panic for the unaware victim.  This assignment is worth three stars.

 

A Positive Attitude Changes Everything

How you begin your day can affect the outcome.  Getting up on the wrong side of the bed is a figure of speech implying a grouchy or irritable state of mind, especially when the day’s activities are not in line with one’s normal disposition.  Your attitude and actions can have a strong effect on your entire day.  By taking the time every morning to initiate calmness in your mind and gratitude in your heart, can make all the difference in the world.

The audio assignment below is a collection of favorite sounds.  In particular, some of these sounds may be heard first thing in the morning, providing a state of calmness and relaxation.  This assignment is worth two stars.

Vamos a Mexico!

Vacations typically start out stressful.  Ensuring necessary items are packed, meeting flight departure schedules, and accounting for unforeseen traffic delays can cause anxiety to even the most prepared and well seasoned traveler.  However, arriving at the destination can be a rewarding experience despite all the hassle that previously occurred.  Below is an audio story using only sound effects, depicting a long and chaotic travel day to a tropical destination.  This audio assignment is worth four stars.

Freedom Towers – April 4, 2023

What if the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001 never happened?  What would the World Trade Center Twin Towers look like today?

These are the questions selected for the Alternative History assignment.  A proposed alternative – if the Twin Towers were never demolished in the terrorist attack, would there be a ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary since the dedication of the World Trade Center on April 4, 1973?

The World Trade Center held the title of the tallest building in New York City, surpassing the Empire State Building, with the completion of the 110-story North Tower in 1970.  The South Tower was completed in 1971.  Currently in 2018, the One World Trade Center stands as the tallest building in New York City, the tallest building in the United States, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, and the 6th tallest building in the world.

The audio story below is a hypothetical dedication and renaming ceremony of the World Trade Center Twin Towers to the “Freedom Towers”, taking place on April 4, 2023 – fifty years after the dedication ceremony.  The Freedom Towers will also be dedicated to the men and women of the New York City Police Department and the New York City Fire Department, who have lost their lives while in the line of duty.  This renaming ceremony is a tribute to their sacrifice, service, and honor to their country.

This audio assignment is worth three and a half stars.

Everybody wants to rule the world

This week, the class was tasked on creating two more daily creates by Sunday June 10.

This Daily Create is to fulfill the prompt that was posted on June 7.

What would you like to teach the world to do?

If I was able, I would teach the world how to be in charge.  According to 80’s British pop band Tears for Fears, everyone wants to rule the world.

 

This Daily Create is to fulfill the prompt that was posted on June 9. The task was to create an artistic graph on a subject of our choosing.  My graph is a deception of Lenny’s daily tasks.  As you can see, his days are filled with eating, sleeping, and a little bit of playing.

Here is an enlarged picture of the graph:

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I enlisted the use of an online chart maker called beam.venngage.com. I was not throughly impressed with the site, because it did not have the option to export the finished graph to the creator’s hard drive.  However, the color scheme options were very bright and overall it was easy to use.  Any suggestions on a more favorable online chart maker would be greatly appreciated.

Sound the Alarm!

What is audio?  How does audio work for you?

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines “audio” as “of or relating to acoustic, mechanical, or electrical frequencies corresponding to normally audible sound waves which are of frequencies approximately from 15 to 20,000 hertz.”  “Sound” is defined as “a particular auditory impression.”  Most of us take sound for granted.  Being able to hear is a sensory developed in utero.  The inner ear is fully developed by approximately within the twentieth week of pregnancy, and babies are born with fully developed hearing.  What would you do if all of a sudden, you could not hear?  What sound would you hate to lose?

This week, the class was asked to reflect on how audio is used to tell stories.  If created effectively, sound can be used to evoke emotion, establish a setting, and emphasize mood to a captive audience.  One example of audio storytelling is the podcast Moon Graffiti created by Jonathan Mitchell.

We were asked to provide an audio reflection of the podcast.  Even though the eerie background music of the story made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, I felt the environment the narrators were trying to create.  It very much sounded like two astronauts conversing in space, and I had to remind myself that this mission in real life, was successful.

I added a sound byte that I discovered while searching for various topics on soundcloud. It is a compilation of halloween sounds meant to generate the same feeling I felt while listening to Moon Graffiti.  I could not get past the first minute of listening to these sound effects.  As I was listening, my mind started to wonder to haunted houses and scary monsters waiting for you in the dark.  I think it is the idea of unseen bumps and audible screams that can make a person uncomfortable by affecting your senses.

 

Another accomplishment for the week – creating my very first GIF!

This statue reminds me of a constipated Buddah, which is another reason why I selected it – because of the humor aspect.  However, even though there is technically no actual “audible sound waves” emitting from this GIF, it actually reminds me of the silent films of the late 1920’s such as those staring Charlie Chaplin.  In his movies, he never spoke a word, but audiences could tell what he was thinking and feeling by looking at his facial expressions and body language.  These movies also employed the use of subtitles.  I think this GIF is a perfect representation of the silent movies of the past.

All in all, I feel that sound is a very important aspect to storytelling.  Proven to intensify the particular circumstance, sound media is like the unspoken hero to an effective story.  It can be the essential component which impacts, creates, and accentuates the desired mood and atmosphere.

 

 

Sound Advice – how to stay connected with your audience

This week, our class has been tasked with learning about audio creation and how this type of media can be utilized to present a story in a very compelling or imaginative way.  Every morning, during my fifty minute commute to work, I listen to the TODAY show talk radio, Channel 108 on SiriusXM.  This is a daily live broadcast that provides current domestic and international news, weather reports, sports updates, and interviews with news-makers from the worlds of politics, business, media, entertainment and sports.  Honestly, if I was at home, I would most likely be watching the TODAY show on NBC, rather than listening to the broadcast.  But at least I have a source of news media available during my morning commute, which is preferred over listening to some of the music channels offered by SiriusXM.

Another personal example of audio exposure is the playing of the national anthem or “Colors,” on the loud speaker each morning at my location of employment.  In accordance with Naval Regulations Chapter 12, Section 1206, all bases are to comply with the playing of Colors each day.  During this time, certain requirements are expected to be observed.  Since my place of employment is on a Naval base, the basis of this practice is to properly honor our country and those that serve our nation.

After viewing the two short videos of Jad Abumrad from RadioLab, a few ideas that resonated:

  • Radio – in the absence of pictures –  enables the commentator to be freely descriptive to invoke the imagination of the audience.
  • By working together, the commentator and the audience can stay connected through the “co-imagination” collaborative efforts of creating ideas, scenarios and concepts.
  • Creating sound is a concept that is actively progressing.  In the late 1920’s, some radio shows began using various props for sound effects such as banging coconut shells together, or crinkling cellophane to recreate the sound of rain.  Currently, sound bytes can be created from a single spoken syllable, synthesized into a variety of different ways.

The audio resources page was a plethora of information and sources on how to edit audio, where to find music and sound effects, and how to develop techniques to aid in creating a competent audio message.  Attempting to “layer sound files” with the use of Audacity proved to be a little difficult.  However, continued practice in the use of Audacity should aid in developing the confidence needed to become more proficient in this skill.

Here is an attempt to create a sound byte with the use of Audacity.  The sound effect of “wahwah” coupled with my own voice saying “hello” repeatedly.