The SHOT – Reading the Screen

November 15, 2008

THE SHOT
= the smallest unit in film – when the camera starts / records / then stops
– compared to language (word, letter) – a shot in film is like a sentence
– when you write, you start with a sentence or a phrase (are you writing an essay, letter, poem…and you build your structure from there)
– every film starts with a shot (feature film, documentary, animation…and you build your film from there)
– film maker decides how the shot will be setup

– how the film image is photographed – based on film stocks and immulsion (b/w, high contrast, low contrast…)
– technicolor was an invention developed in the 1930’s
– tinting = dip b/w film into a bath of dye
– toning = positive print developed and dye is added

DAISIES – dir Vera Chytilova

– film made just prior to the Soviet takeover in 1968 – they went nuts over it and forbid her from making any further films
– great example of toning

– overexposure and underexposure
– under crank film speed was a throw back to early film days from manually cranked cameras = high speed when projected
– over crank = slow motion when it plays through the projector
– wide angle lens = distortion – normal lens is 35 to 50 mm – telephoto lens = character takes forever to move forward:

THE GRADUATE

– depth of field refers to what is in focus in the frame
– deep space – director stages action that is in focus on several different planes (Citizen Kane)
– selective focus = multiple plane action but only one is in focus
– CITIZEN KANE = faster film, shorter focal length lenses, deep focus
– pulling/rack focus = Mission Impossible – Jean Reno holding the rope in the air duct – in comes the rat and he is terrified

SPECIAL EFFECTS
– super imposition = one image over another and put in through the projector
– rear projection = driving and projecting a street scene behind the actors
– front projection – camera films through a 2-way mirror
– mattework = actor is filmed on a blue screen

Aspect Ratios
Academy Ratio = 1.33 / 1 (oldest and was the standard for a long time)
Widescreen = 1.85 / 1

CAMERA SHOTS
– extreme long shot = panorama – cannot see people – just the landscape
– long shot = large area but also has characters
– full shot = full figures and it is the size of what would be a stage
– medium long shot = from the knees up
– medium shot = waist up (also known as the sitcom shot)
– medium close up = head and shoulders

– close up = head / hand / foot only
– extreme close up = extremely close viewpoint of one part of someone’s anatomy (Citizen Kane = saying Rosebud – only see his lips)

– cut away / insert = information only – hands reading a letter / inserting a key into a lock
– point of view = what the character sees
– mask = character looking through a telescope / keyhole = black mask area to signify this
– over the shoulder = conversation shot
– dirty over the shoulder = shoulder is in frame of the conversation shot
– reaction shot = very manipulative (AAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH reaction…)

STATIONERY CAMERA ANGLES
– straight overhead = bird’s eye view (Lullaby of Broadway / Mystic River – when Sean Penn realizes his daughter is the body)

– high angle = when the camera is looking down on a subject (used as to be read as having a certain significance – subject is read to be vulnerable, powerless or insignificant)
– eye level = documentary and comedy in order to see what is happening
– low angle = camera is low looking up (subject seems menacing, overpowered or important)
– extreme low angle / worm’s eye = camera in the floor looking up
– oblique/canted/dutch angle = tilted or askew (Do The Right Thing)
– mobile camera = camera is stationery but the camera pans from right to left (street shot panning and then stops when main character enters frame and starts following them in the other direction
– tilt = camera moves up and down (camera tilting down to show Dorothy’s Red Ruby shoes)
– switch pan = camera is stationery but there is a swoosh showing a change (Citizen Kane breakfast scene in the first marriage)

– zooming in and zooming out = camera doesn’t move but moving in with the zoom (implies finding out what the character is thinking – or Godfather zoom out intro with Marlon Brando)

– snap zoom = instead of cutting back and forth they use this instead (see kung fu movies – camera follows the action of the punches/kicks

MOVING CAMERA ANGLES
– dolly shot = use push in or pull back
– tracking = dolly shot where they actually lay down tracks
– traveling/trucking = camera on a vehicle and film the people on that vehicle
– hand held = camera operator following the actors (the conformist / blair witch)
– vertigo = made famous by Alfred Hitchcock (dolly in as you zoom out or vice versa)
– steady cam = Goodfellas shot
– space cam =  flying aircraft with a camera built into it (Into the Sea with Javier Bardem)
– crane shot / cherry picker
– jib shot = camera goes up or down along a mast
– aerial = airplane shot

LAWRENCE OF ARABIA – dir. David Lean
– incredible range of shots used in this film

DO THE RIGHT THING
– Spike Lee started internships with the unions so that they would hire more women and people of colour
– based on an actual event of a race riot that took place in Howard Beach
– several black men had a flat tire in front of an Italian bar and were chased out by the Italians are one tripped and was killed when hit by a car
– 24 hour period from one morning to the next – set in the neighborhood
– Samuel L. Jackson plays the DJ and ties the setting and characters together
– Radio Rahim was always shot solitary to showcase his lack of wanting to be part of the community and low angle to show him being imposing
– statistic of when the temperature goes over 95%, the murder rate rises as well as people lose their tempers much easier
– film ends with differing quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X (non violence versus intelligent self-defence)
– restlessly wandering camera – starting on a closeup then move all over the place

TOUCH OF EVIL – dir. Orson Welles

– probably the most famous sequence shot / long take
– instead of close up, followed by pan to long shot, a long series of shots are choreographed into one single shot

TOKYO STORY – dir. OZU

– filmed at the height of a person kneeling on a Japanese tatami mat
– usually full shots with people moving in and out of the frame
– focuses on family drama / stories – focus on Japan but they are universal
– flips traditional Hollywood convention by crossing 180 degree line where characters and settings flip perspective

TRAGIC STORY WITH HAPPY ENDING – dir. REGINA PESSOA

– director had a schitzophrenic mother – very aware about being different and the community’s reaction to her mother
– draws each phase on a piece of paper – each frame is photocopied onto glossy paper -indian ink is drawn in on top of the drawing and then uses a razor blade to scratch into the ink – background is on a separate piece of paper and scanned in – superimposed to form the final image


Wednesday’s DIVA 200 class

October 10, 2008

Sorry that I have been lax in updating my blog, but I got food poisoning last Friday, which morphed into a lovely bouquet of influenza due to my immune system being shot to hell, so I have been a little under the weather of late.

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TROIKA + GLOWLAB

the cloud

tetris + knight rider on office building windows

– starbucks has the largest wireless cloud in the world – they are now an entertainment channel
– doing the same with internet connection as they did with music cds
– war chalking / war driving
– hobo culture / signs / graffity to communicate and warn one another
– marks on buildings to let people know where free internet access is around the city
– notion of privacy of how much of your life is public and how much is private
– google is keeping track of every single search that we do
– web crawler and cyber squatters flipping internet domains

drift.relay in san jose by glowlab
“information wants to be free” = guiding moto of open source movement
book called “The Long Tale” – by Chris Anderson who is the editor of Wired Magazine
– digital content (sitting on a hard drive) versus brick and mortar inventory in a store
– there will be a market for my work
– eventually you will be able to buy the license to a piece of content that you have already paid for (cd, dvd, blue-ray, next gen…)
– digital has transformed everything
– google is the single largest data mining enterprise in the world – save every search until 2038

– google knol – is this the precursor of the CIC (Central Intelligence Corporation – Snow Crash)?
– knol = unit of knowledge – go and get information and if you want more, you can pay for it
– Google is giving you information that they THINK you may want
– civil liberties = main concern: aggregation of personal data in commercial databases
– government databases are subject to privacy act
– commercial databases fall outside of privacy act, and the use of contractors has transformed law enforcement
– ChoicePoint or Seisint, aggregate data from commercial transactions with public records (prescriptions, groceries, travel plans, criminal records)

– potential for abuse
– concentrated target for hackers, identty thieves and authorities otherwise constrained by privacy act
– Seisint compiled a list of 120,000 based of a “terrorist quotient”, a profile they created including ethnicity and religious beliefs and handed it over to law enforcement
– Florida relied on ChoicePoint to identify convicted felons registered to vote – as many as 1 in 7 were wrongfully expunged from the voters list (voter margin in 2000 was 537 votes)

RFID – Radio Frequency Identification
– shock bracelets with EMD Technology (Electro-Muscular Disruption)

Privacy and Social Networks
Google’s Value Proposition – “is to figure out what people want, but to read our minds, they need to know a lot about us”
– will pull ads containing certain keywords, but will not state what those keywords are
– handed over user-records of Orkut to Brazilian government for an investigation
(orkut is a social networking service which is run by Google and named after its creator, an employee of Google – Orkut Büyükkökten. The service states that it was designed to help users meet new friends and maintain existing relationships.)
– censored and constrained its Chinese search-engine to gain access to that market
– the Chinese government is in the process of saving SKYPE messages that pass through mainland China and now SKYPE has ended their relationship with their Chinese affiliate

Google Streets – recorded some random kid who saw the Google van drive by and he ended up wiping out on his bike
“Don’t Be Evil”

Second Life Lawsuit
http://blogs.pcworld.com/staffblog/archives/005816.html

The Worst of Real Made Virtual
– the covenant of Extropia
– A Declaration of the Rights of Avatars – by Ralph Koster

189 Satellites that don’t officially exist (spy satellites CIA, KGB)
iridium satellite flashes – search when the satellite will flash on the web
– Russian town had 400 people show up in yellow raincoats and stood in the town square when the google satellite went overhead


A day in the life of an Emily Carr Film student…

September 15, 2008

Here are my notes from Friday’s Reading for the Screen course at Emily Carr – I will be uploading my daily class notes to the blog to allow readers to follow along with me and my studies here at ECIAD – Enjoy!

Off-Topic
The following video clip was shown within the context of the class itself, but I found it while searching for clips for the films we discusses in class, The Player, Shadow of a Doubt, Rope, Touch of Evil.

“This short segment from Orson Welles’ cinematic essay, F for Fake, may be the profoundest moment in cinema history. It is both uniquely moving, as well as stunningly deep philosophically—a truly rare cinematic combination. This clip should be required viewing, not only for every student of cinema, but for everyone who seeks an antidote to the world’s increasing descent into cruelty and darkness. Here, Welles achieves the miraculous with amazingly simple means (note the lack of music as an emotional “guide”, for example). God created Orson Welles…then broke the mold. Introduced by media psychologist, Dr. James N. Herndon.” (www.orsonwelles.tv)

In-class notes/general comments from Wednesday’s screening:
– author was talking about big budget film productions
– unless you are in the union, you can’t pickup anything
– back in the day, production board / production manager = THE BIBLE
– strip of cardboard/posterboard in different colours
– day/night/interior/exterior shots
– find most expedient production time wise/budget wise
– shoot scenes at the same time to streamline production
– having things in front of you = air traffic controller (new york times article)
– each aircraft is on a strip of paper = visual representation / better memory and recognition
– you will still see the production board today, even in a digital world
– Frank Capra – very egotistical, yet talented – as a director, you need to know your vision, because you are asked thousands of questions everyday
– “The Fastest Runner” – group decision film production process
– get the audience “sutured” into the film story

Film, Film, Film – Patterns
– people joining the elevator
– keep going through all of the door, so many steps/people to get approval from
– hurry up and wait analogy with moments of pure action to long pauses with nothing to do
– different colours for different scenes (ie: Traffic having different colours for different locations)
– opening montage with stars and glitz, yet the reality of making moveis is so far from the glamour
– the screenwriter’s muse’s wings were incorporated into the logo of the studio
– cast and crew waited with baited breath for the audience reaction
– labeling – letting the average viewer know exactly who is who, what departments are involved and the steps needed to complete the project
– emotes were used instead of actual dialog – even though it is Russian, it is universally recognizable
– Film, Film, Film = same in Russian and English

Chicken Run
– Aardman – successful British studio run by Nick Park and Peter Lord = Wallace and Gromit
– animation style = portrait emotions very effectively with a plump of eplasticine
– “The Wrong Trousers” – remember the penguin (the eyes = evil bird!!!)
– they had a fixation on machines/gadgets = putting contraptions together to create a great machine
– mechanization can be a threat to people and society or a help to it
– Tweedy montage = building pie machine / genocide
– chickens montage = building plane / freedom
– obsessive compulsive disorder = Babs always knitting
– always like using feathered creatures through their previous work

How “Chicken Run” got made:
– contacted Jake Eberts (Pathe) – his kids loved Wallace and Gromit
– he set them up with a NAPKIN deal = had lunch meeting and worked out details on a napkin
– Michael Rose = Producer
– Sundance 1996 – Nick and Peter pitched the idea of a “Chicken Escape Film”
– Jake called Dreamworks which had just formed (SKG)
– Dreamworks flew their jet to Sundance to bring the 4 of them to LA
– Katzenberg says the chicken is the best at the restaurant they met at
– pitch = The Great Escape…with CHICKENS
– talented independent animators who were confident enough to make their pitch work!!!
– also based on Stalag 17

FILM CONVENTIONS
– western = shoot out at the end /  good guy and bad icon
– icon = cowboy hat = western genre
THE PLAN / building montage / blueprints / secret compartments / promise of positive change = the dream / teamwork / guard dogs / Ginger kept getting put in solitary confinement (Cool Hand Luke / Steve McQueen) / military context to a chicken farm with the soundtrack / morning roll call / always a party (Bridge on the River Kwai)

Great Britain vs. America
– swing dancing / there was no reason to have a love story between rocky and ginger / cliche of almost kissing, then finally kissing
– the only shot Katzenberg wanted to change was on the roof with Ginger and Rocky – he wanted to spend more time on her face to accentuate that she is falling in love with Rocky (Nick said uh uh, we Brits don’t do that)
– the escape scene from the pie machine was so Indianna Jones (Spielberg’s influence no doubt)
– homage to Hogan’s Heroes as well
– Brits don’t show emotion, americans do
– tough thing having Ginger being the leading lady (she wasn’t as funny or charismatic as normal leading characters)
– history period American GIs = The Yanks – British women were charmed by them, British men were jealous, British parents were resentful
– influence for Rocky = Burt Lancaster (The Rainmaker), The Fonz (Heyyyyyyyyy!), John Travolta (Saturday Night Fever)
– Mel Gibson was too busy to do his voice overs alone in LA while the others did it together in London
– Mel took the role because his kids loved Wallace and Gromit
– slow mo shot when Rocky flies over the fence on the trike
– Mrs. Tweedy on the rope with a knife then hitting the billboard with her face
– always gotta have an explosion at the end

– puppets are articulated steel frames, heads are plasticine
– dancing sequence was choreographed from actual dancers
– they had to put rubber hip contraptions because the dancers were too skinny
– Talisman – object that has tremendous emotional value = Mac’s RAF pin

Shadow of a Doubt – Alfred Hitcock (1943)
– Hitchcock loved to storyboard his films in detail – constructed the film meticulously step by step
– look at complacent America before WWII – took place in Santa Rosa, CA and also filmed there
– Uncle Charlie and Little Charlie – little charlie’s mom absolutely adores him and little charlie idolizes him = kindred spirits
– Uncle Charlie however, is a serial killer who preys on elderly women and then steals their money/jewelry
– group of elderly women dancing to a waltz named, “The Merry Widow” = further pattern to tie in to the rest of the film

– little charlie’s father’s favorite past-time is to theorize the perfect murder mysteries with his friend, yet little does he realize that he has a murderer under his own roof

– Shadow of a Doubt trailer

– Shadow of a Doubt – part 1/11 – you can continue watching the rest of the film on youtube

CONVENTIONS
– shadows of the railing banisters against the wall, Little Charlie is trapped between telling the truth about her uncle or letting things lie as they are
– Uncle Charlie walks very forcefully towards Little Charlie when she brings out the paper – then the close up show when he grabs her wrist to show his anger and power
– he is also the dominant persona in the family, sets the tone of conversations, yet can also force conversation to end when he knocks over the glass to stop Little Charlie from saying the name of the waltz
– he offers to give $40,000 to his brother-in-law to show that he is very important and powerful

*****Down and Dirty Pictures – book about Miramax – recommended by fellow student in class*****

The Player – Robert Altman (1992)
– made some successful Hollywood movies and then some not so successful movies
– this film is an incredible satire of the whole Hollywood scene as a whole
– opening shot is an homage to, “Touch of Evil” – Orson Wells and “Rope” – Alfred Hitchcock
– old painting on the wall showing the golden age of Hollywood – turns into business of it all
– MTV, cut cut cut – Touch of Evil
– The Graduate, Part II (25 years later lol) – spooky house in northern California, dark and weird and funny and with a stroke!
– couldnt make out the picture on the ground when boy got hit by cart but it is a postcard for Griffin which tells him he is going to die
– japanese tourists with Ari from Entourage – SONY PRODUCTS
– the hens are all talking about heads rolling
– replace Griffin?!?!? with Larry Levy
– I’m right in the middle of a pitch – I’ll call you later…Goldie Goes to Africa = Out of Africa meets Pretty Woman

– politely political scary but funny with Bruce Willis with a heart in the right spot!

– “The Player” Opening shot

– “The Player” trailer

– “Touch of Evil” opening shot

– “Touch of Evil” trailer

– “Rope” opening scene

– “Rope” trailer

Asparagus – Suzanne Pitt
– In the beginning there was animation and it was overrun by Disney
– he setup a production machine that was the monopoly of innovation certainly within North America – Mickey Mouse still is pervasive
– Mrs. Frances Brewer – letter to her back in 1939 – women do not do any of the original work in the process – as a result, girls are not considered to join animation studies – they were only allowed to trace work already created
– it was believed that women were better at tracing then men because they already knew how to apply makeup and do their nails – they could stay within the lines!!!
– this animation was created in 1979 – shown on art circuit/festivals
– combination of cell and clay animation

Questions:
What would tell you as a spectator that this is an independent film?

What patterns do you see?

My notes:
– woman’s bare leg, with a snake rolling around it = men vs. women
– harsh saxophone music = sex
– flowers remind me of Gerald Scarfe’s work in Pink Floyd The Wall
– red nail polish on her fingers
– dual lights = breasts?
– takes a dump in the toilet – see asparagus come out of her ass
– which then magically rises up and spells out “ASPARAGUS”
– dead man’s head as a bust on the railing
– red curtain opening up to scenes of flowers scrolling by the window
– flower buds look like vaginas – asparagus look like penises – she starts stroking one of them
– wall ornaments look like vaginas as well
– keeps repeating shot of turning the dial on the lamp
– miniature version of herself within the doll house?
– eerie looking Santa head on the shelf – she grabs a different mask though – kabuki mask with red cheeks
– we see the snake again slither by as objects fall into her hand bag
– she goes outside with her mask on to hide her true identity from the public
– passes a dildo store, then a gun store – while we hear muttered whispers/voices of people around her
– claymation sequence – curtain opens up to reveal another curtain and then another and another
– finally swaying wave like pieces – with what looks like mountains and a waterfall
– she is still hand drawn, yet the other characters are claymation
– horizon perspective black hole on the stage now
– she gets into a cab and pulls down the mask slightly to reveal that her face is actually blank except for her mouth
– now she deep throats an asparagus, regurgitating water and then the penis disgorges inside her mouth (back and forth different susbtances)
– scene ends with the asparagus reappearing as she raises her mouth one final times – END SCENE

In-Class discussion:
– soundtrack was uncomfortable and discordant
– the entire film sequence made the audience uncomfortable
– sounds in the theatre assaulted the senses and attacked you
– Why Asparagus?!?!?!
– source of creative power comes from the phallus
– dream state to just let go and not psychoanalyze everything – just experience the moment

Gravity – Frank Rofuze (1981)
– Hungarian animator who had to work in government studios or else he wouldn’t work at all
– “The Fly” nominated for academy award in 1981 – but he couldn’t leave Hungary to attend the ceremony
– Gravity was made in 1984
– you are working for the state, paid by the state and commenting on the state – all at the same time

Questions:
How does gravity convey the complexities of living in a totalitarian state?

My notes:
– scene opens with a beautiful tree in an open meadow
– you hear rustling in the bushes
– camera zooms in and then shifts left and right when we hear mumbling/crying
– sounds like a guy taking a shit
– apples are human faces
– main apple is trying to jump up and down to release himself from the tree
– slow motion sequence is hilarious
– everyone else is static and complacent
– FINALLY he is released and enjoys the joy of freefall/FREEDOM
– only to smash into pieces as he hits the ground
– everyone is oblivious to it
– butterfly lands on one of the other people
– one tree in one field = one system