Voice-Over Narration as an Active Agent in Film

December 9, 2009

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I wrote this essay for my MHIS 429 Topics in Film/Video course this semester at the Emily Carr University of Art + Design. Special thanks to Sarah Wichlacz for her essay titled, “Issues of Narration: Voice-Over in Film” which definitely helped me in the writing of my own essay. You can see her very well written piece at http://sarahwichlacz.com/?p=74

– FlashAddict

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Voice-Over Narration as an Active Agent in Film

The use of voice-over narration can and has been used in film to help convey greater depth and meaning to the audience. Whereas on the one hand, there are some who see it as a crutch when the director or writer is unable to move along the storyline effectively within a given scene; yet on the other however, when it is used effectively, voice-over narration can be inserted as an active agent to help provide greater impact and understanding to the audience in a way that a complex actor’s performance or scenery cannot convey. It is within this context that this essay will explore individual examples of voice-over narration from select films in which both sides of the issue will be explored; by not simply analyzing each voice-over narration example as either good or bad, but looking deeper at how the context and overall delivery affect the films, scenes and actors within.

To begin with, a proper definition of voice-over narration in film must be established, “Narration, or voice-over, is used in both documentary and fiction. It may be used to deliver information, provide the point of view of an unseen character, or allow an onscreen character to comment on the action.”(Ascher and Pincus 493) Put more simply, “A narrative text is a text in which an agent relates (‘tells’) a story in a particular medium, such as language, imagery, sound, buildings, or a combination thereof.” (Bal 5) By using this standard, multiple methods of providing voice-over narration in film can be utilized to help tell their respective stories, “In documentary filmmaking some of the key stylistic questions relate to how much the filmmaker attempts to control or interact with the subjects, and to the way information is conveyed in the movie.” (Ascher and Pincus 332)

The style adopted by U.K. documentarians such as John Grierson in the 1930s and 1940s is a kind of hybrid that can involve staged events and real people (non-actors)…Many of these films use a ‘voice of God’ narration-the authoritative male voice that provides factual information and often spells out the message intended for the viewer to take from the film. (Ascher and Pincus 333)

On the other side of the spectrum, Ascher & Pincus further explain:

Cinema vérité (also called just vérité or direct cinema) films attempt to spontaneously react to events and capture life as it is lived…Many of these films use no narration or interviews and attempt to minimize the sense that the material has been influenced or interpreted by the filmmaker. (Ascher and Pincus 333)

Within this context, one of the most notable examples of the use of voice-over narration can be seen in the opening of the film, Citizen Kane (1941), “The film’s plot sets another purveyor of knowledge, the ‘News on the March’ short. We’ve already seen the crucial functions of the newsreel in introducing us both to Kane’s story and to its plot construction, with the newsreel’s sections previewing the parts of the film as a whole.” (Bordwell and Thompson 105) In essence, this scene of paramount importance was purposely written by Orson Welles in order to allow the principal characters follow-up with further details later on in the film in their own flashback narrations.

The reinforcement of the scenes, characters and events detailed in this brief montage showcasing Kane’s life over the span of only a few minutes is accentuated, as referenced earlier by Ascher and Pincus, via the deep authoritative voice in which the booming male narrator speaks, which was quite representative on the actual newsreel footage of the era. In other words, by creating a fictionalized representation of a factually based newsreel within a film and having a similar sounding voice actor provide the narration within it, Welles provided the audience with further reinforcement of the importance of Charles Foster Kane on a global scale, in which he truly was within his own Xanadu.

Further evidence of life imitating art and vice versa comes from the voice-over narration within the film, Little Children (2006) which featured the deep resonating male voice of Will Lyman as the film’s narrator. Lyman’s voice was already recognizable, even his face wasn’t, for the 125 episodes of the PBS documentary television show Frontline (1982-2009) that he has narrated. With such various titles as, A Death in Tehran (2009), Breaking the Bank (2009), and Black Money (2009), Lyman has narrated multiple episodes for the series, while remaining unseen to the audience, in which investigative journalists scour the globe looking for corruption, abuse of power and instances of government, humanitarian and ecological tragedies.

To that end, Little Children (2006) director Todd Field must have realized the impact that Lyman’s voice would have on the film’s audience as an implied and trusted broker of knowledge and wisdom. “In the history of the documentary, this voice has been for the most part that of the male, and its power resides in the possession of knowledge and in the privileged, unquestioned activity of interpretation.” (Doane 369)

One scene of particular note from the film is where the character of the husband, Richard Pierce, shows the length to which he will go in order to satiate his obsession. The scene opens up with him in his work office as his secretary heads home for the night and now suddenly alone, Richard decides to indulge his favorite pastime of late, masturbating to pictures of the internet sensation that is Slutty Kay. In comes the booming, authoritative and faceless voice of narrator Will Lyman, as the audience begins to realize the level of Richard’s obsession at not being able to truly connect with her.

Lately, Slutty Kay had become a problem. He thought about her far too often and spent hours studying the thousands of photographs available to him…Though as close as Richard sometimes felt to Slutty Kay, as much as he believed that he knew her, he could never get past the uncomfortable fact she existed for him solely as a digital image. The panties were an attempt to solve this problem, maybe a sniff or two would hurry things along so he could get back downstairs to his real life, where his wife was waiting for him; her impatience increasing by the minute…(Little Children)

To that end, the scene changes to his home office as he now tries to put on her soiled panties over his head in order to accentuate the experience, as the frame changes yet again to show Richard’s wife coming upstairs as Lyman explains her growing impatience and finds him masturbating while breathing deeply into the soiled panties. Lyman’s matter of fact and monotonous voice-over breathes, for lack of a better term, immense irony into the scene and provides a very functional backdrop in order to place such an absurd setting as a woman walking into her husband’s office and finding him masturbating to a Polaroid of a naked woman while gasping into a pair of soiled woman’s panties. “The different components of the cinematic narrator as diagramed usually work in consort, but sometimes the implied author creates an ironic tension between two of them.” (Chatman 484)

An additional aspect of voice-over narration is when the director or creative vision behind the film as a whole provides the narration themselves. Take for instance the case from the film, A River Runs Through It (1992), in which director Robert Redford took on the persona of the book’s original author, Norman MacLean, and provided the film’s flashback voice-overs.

…films often create the sense of character-narration so strongly that one accepts the voice-over narrator as if he of she were the mouthpiece of the image-maker either for the whole film or for the duration of his or her embedded story. We put our faith in the voice not created but as creator. (Kozloff 45)

After auditioning several different prominent voice-over actors, Redford was not happy with any of the takes and as a result, he decided to try it out himself. Given Redford’s long standing stature within the film industry and recognizable voice, what followed was that he was able to further personify the essence of what the author and main character experienced while growing up in small-town Montana, the trials he went through with his younger brother Paul and how the quiet and serene beauty of glacier fed streams full of trout could help heal the soul. This was especially evident in the final scene of the film in which the viewer sees what is now an elderly and frail looking Norman MacLean fishing the river alone, with Redford’s voice-over providing the full meaning as Paul reflects on his life.

Now nearly all those I loved and did not understand when I was young are dead, but I still reach out to them.  Of course, now I am too old to be much of a fisherman, and now of course I usually fish the big waters alone, although some friends think I shouldn’t. Then in the Arctic half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River and a four-count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise.

Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.

I am haunted by waters. (A River Runs Through It)

The next logical focus to explore is whether or not to use voice-over narration at all and how the format is different from written media for example, “Unlike in literature, in film the distinction between telling a story through verbal narration and showing it on the screen through images and action is not so easily discountable.” (Kozloff 13) A case in point for this argument comes from the multiple versions of the film, Blade Runner (1982), in which it has gone from its original theatrical release to being re-edited seven times to its most recent ‘Final Cut’. The most obvious change that was made from the original film was the removal of Deckard’s voice-over and while this had already been removed from an earlier 1992 ‘Director’s Cut,’ this final version of the film was also the only version that director Ridley Scott had complete artistic control over.

The climactic scene of the film in which the removal of the voice-over warranted greatest scrutiny was the scene near the end of the film, where on the original inception of Deckard’s monotonous voice-over was further evidence, although somewhat ambiguous, of him being a replicant (a humanoid looking robot who cannot show or feel emotion), from a viewer’s perspective, the use of the voice-over caused more controversy than it was worth according to prolific filmmaker, Frank Darabont:

There’s one area where I thought the voice-over was so clunky; it landed with such a hollow thud, was the ‘Tears in Rain.’ I remember when I first saw the movie, I’m in the theatre and I am so drawn in by what Rutger Hauer is doing and I am so drawn in by what the theme of the movie has brought us to, this magnificent moment where he is letting go of life…‘I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe, all these moments will be lost, in time, like Tears in Rain. Time to die.’

And right as I am just…it’s like having sex and someone dumps cold water on you. Right at that moment where I am at my most emotional crescendo as a viewer, here comes this thudding, dunderheaded voice-over, ‘I don’t know why he saved my life, maybe in those last moments, he loved life more than he ever had before.’ Yes, I know that, thank you. Thank you for kicking this beautiful, delicate, emotional note that we were achieving right in the nuts. (Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner)

Conversely, in the subsequent versions of the film in which Deckard’s monologue has been removed, greater emphasis has been placed on Rutger Hauer’s performance of Roy when he releases the dove as he dies and it flies up to the dark and stormy clouds above. Layered over all of this is the minimalist orchestration by the film’s composer, Vangelis and the slightest of crescendo booming sound as Deckard slowly closes his eyes and deeply inhales as he bears witness to his former foe’s final testimony; all of which is realized without the use of the voice-over.

At the end of the shooting cycle and on the bottom of the cutting room floor, directors, editors and screenplay writers have debated the merits of inserting or removing voice-over narration in film for decades now. In some instances, overall theme, plot and character development or simply personal taste can dictate whether or not to use voice-overs to help provide the audience with a greater understanding of what they are seeing on the screen. To that end however, and when it is an active agent in the storytelling process and manufactured to cater to the targeted audience in subtle and imperceptible ways, then voice-over narration can help bridge the gap between what can and cannot be shown on film. But if it is used in a contrived and convoluted manner, then the opposite can occur and further alienate the audience from being able to fully appreciate the level of understanding that the filmmakers are trying to achieve.

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Works Cited

A River Runs Through It. Dir. Robert Redford. Allied Filmmakers, 1992

Ascher, Steven, and Pincus, Edward. The Filmmaker’s Handbook. New York: PLUME, 2007

Bal, Mieke. Narratology: Introduction to the Theory of Narrative. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1985.

Bordwell, David, and Thompson, Kirstin. FILM ART: An Introduction. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008.

Braudy, Leo and Marshall Cohen, eds. Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Chatman, Seymour. “The Cinematic Narrator.” Braudy and Cohen, 473-86.

Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner. Dir. Charles de Lauzirika, Frank Darabont, 2007. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_nsSxblpoI

Doane, Mary Ann. The Voice in the Cinema: The Articulation of Body and Space. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1980

Kozloff, Barbara. Invisible Storytellers: Voice-Over Narration in American Fiction Film. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.

Little Children. Dir. Todd Field. New Line Cinema, Bona Fide Productions, Standard Film Company, 2006.

Wichlacz, Sarah. 27 May 2006. Issues of Narration: Voice-Over Film. http://sarahwichlacz.com/?p=74


Tiesto – Imogen Heap – Hide And Seek (Tiesto’s In Search Of Sunrise Remix)

July 22, 2009

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The beat of this song makes me feel like I am touching the face of God…
– FlashAddict

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Train vs Cow

June 10, 2009

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Quite possibly the funniest video I have ever seen.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you, “Train vs Cow”
– FlashAddict

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House of Cards – by Radiohead

March 4, 2009
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Looked at this wonderful video by Radiohead yesterday in class – no cameras or lights were used to capture the footage – they used a new data capture device called LIDAR. We also discussed creative ways of visualizating data and the convergence of science/technology and art – and looked at PROCESSING – a new software program available for free download that enables artists to further visualize their work as well…
– FlashAddict

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http://radiohead.com/deadairspace/

Radiohead just released a new video for its song “House of Cards” from the album “In Rainbows”.

No cameras or lights were used. Instead two technologies were used to capture 3D images: Geometric Informatics and Velodyne LIDAR. Geometric Informatics scanning systems produce structured light to capture 3D images at close proximity, while a Velodyne Lidar system that uses multiple lasers is used to capture large environments such as landscapes. In this video, 64 lasers rotating and shooting in a 360 degree radius 900 times per minute produced all the exterior scenes.

Watch the making-of video to learn about how the video was made and the various technologies that were used to capture and render 3D data.

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HOUS_E OF/CARDS

In Radiohead’s new video for “House of Cards”, no cameras or lights were used. Instead, 3D plotting technologies collected information about the shapes and relative distances of objects. The video was created entirely with visualizations of that data.

Directed by James Frost
From the album IN RAINBOWS

Go to: http://code.google.com/radiohead to find additional pieces of data to create your own visualizations. Upload the results here:
http://www.youtube.com/group/houseofcards

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PROCESSING

Processing is an open source programming language and environment for people who want to program images, animation, and interactions. It is used by students, artists, designers, researchers, and hobbyists for learning, prototyping, and production. It is created to teach fundamentals of computer programming within a visual context and to serve as a software sketchbook and professional production tool. Processing is an alternative to proprietary software tools in the same domain.

Processing is free to download and available for GNU/Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows. Please help to release the next version!

Processing is an open project initiated by Ben Fry and Casey Reas. It evolved from ideas explored in the Aesthetics and Computation Group at the MIT Media Lab. The project is currently improved and maintained by a small team of volunteers.

http://processing.org/

Examples of what Processing can do:

http://www.michael-hansmeyer.com/projects/project4.html

http://www.processing.org/learning/3d/cubicgrid.html


Google turns map tool into people tracker

February 4, 2009

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It will be very interesting to see how things will unfold with this new technology and what implications it may have on personal rights and freedoms…
– FlashAddict

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With an upgrade to its mobile maps, Google Inc. hopes to prove it can track people on the go as effectively as it searches for information on the internet.

The new software to be released Wednesday will enable people with mobile phones and other wireless devices to automatically share their whereabouts with family and friends.

The feature, dubbed “Latitude,” expands upon a tool introduced in 2007 to allow mobile phone users to check their own location on a Google map with the press of a button.

“This adds a social flavour to Google maps and makes it more fun,” said Steve Lee, a Google product manager.

It could also raise privacy concerns, but Google is doing its best to avoid a backlash by requiring each user to manually turn on the tracking software and making it easy to turn off or limit access to the service.

Google also is promising not to retain any information about its users’ movements. Only the last location picked up by the tracking service will be stored on Google’s computers, Lee said.

The software plots a user’s location — marked by a personal picture on Google’s map — by relying on cellphone towers, global positioning systems or a Wi-Fi connection to deduce their location. The system can follow people’s travels in Canada, the United States and 25 other countries.

It’s left up to each user to decide who can monitor their location.

Also in the Loopt

The social mapping approach is similar to a service already offered by Loopt Inc., a three-year-old company near Google’s Mountain View headquarters.

Loopt’s service already is compatible with more than 100 types of mobile phones.

To start out, Google Latitude will work on Research In Motion Ltd.’s Blackberry and devices running on Symbian software or Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Mobile. It will also operate on some T-1 Mobile phones running on Google’s Android software and eventually will work on Apple Inc.’s iPhone and iTouch.

To widen the software’s appeal, Google is offering a version that can be installed on personal computers as well.

The PC access is designed for people who don’t have a mobile phone but still may want to keep tabs on their children or someone else special, Lee said. People using the PC version can also be watched if they are connected to the internet through Wi-Fi.

Google can plot a person’s location within a few yards if it’s using GPS or might be off by several miles if it’s relying on transmission from cellphone towers. People who don’t want to be precise about their whereabouts can choose to display just the city instead of a specific neighbourhood.

There are no current plans to sell any advertising alongside Google’s tracking service, although analysts believe knowing a person’s location eventually will unleash new marketing opportunities.

Google has been investing heavily in the mobile market during the past two years in an attempt to make its services more useful to people when they’re away from their office or home computers.

http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2009/02/04/google-latitude.html


Tales of the Past III – by Martin Falch

January 15, 2009

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I will be showing clips from and talking about Tales of the Past III, a Machinima Film based on the video game World of Warcraft to my Video Art class at the Emily Carr University of Art + Design tomorrow for our Previous Inspiration Presentation project.
– FlashAddict

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Tales of the Past III, by Martin Falch is the ultimate achievement in fan-made Machinima Film based on the Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game, World of Warcraft. Martin spent over a year and a half single handedly piecing together the overall visual majesty of the film, from screen capturing from the game itself, editing hundreds of hours of footage, painstakingly doing all of the special effects, to labourously directing dozens upon dozens of other virtual actors on live game servers for massive group sequences. He also had professional voice actors volunteer their time and efforts to help piece together the emotional tone of the characters and organized an incredible array of songs for the soundtrack that effortlessly leads from sequence to sequence.

While most World of Warcraft Machinima Films are rudimentary and poorly strewn together with freeware software, Martin Falch has set the bar for all aspiring Warcraft Machinima auteurs to shoot for, myself included.

Opening Scene:

The Ashbringer:

These are the Duranin:

Final Battle:

Trailer:

Movie Plot and Download Links:
Since the death of Yimo and the shattering of the Orb of Visions, the Horde and the Alliance have accepted an unstable peace agreement. However, old hatreds stand in the way of cooperation and at the same time, chaos erupts as the Lich King finally takes action. In the meanwhile, Blazer travels to Northrend to hunt down Mograine, the Death Knight, and retrieve the legendary blade that may decide the fate of Azeroth – The Ashbringer…

After 1,5 years of production, Tales of the Past III is finally complete. Having spent an average of 3 hours every single day on the movie, there have been times where this whole project was frustrating rather than enjoyable. However, looking back on the whole project, I’m glad that I started and I’m glad that I managed to get through it! Also, having watched the entire movie, I’m really satisfied with the outcome and I hope you feel the same way! Now, since the movie is huge, I hope you’ll take your time to read through the block of text here!

http://warcraftmovies.com/movieview.php?id=53953

Milestones:
Martin Falch is number 4 on the all-time Warcraftmovies.com download list currently at 2,361,104 total downloads.

http://warcraftmovies.com/halloffame.php

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1.000.000 downloads
Posted: 28 July 2008 @ 09:39 (CET)

Hey people! Just wanted to inform that TotPIII has now reached 1 mio downloads on Warcraftmovies.com, making it the second movie ever to archive this (number 1 being Leeroy) – I just want to say thanks to all the people commentning on it and sending me mails, it’s been awesome with all the support and nice words. Also a big thanks for the people informing their friends/guilds/forums about it in order to spread the movie around!

I’ve mentioned this before, but hopefully I’ll be able to make new story line machinimas later on, perhaps some relevant opportunity comes up for the case – having just watched the most brilliant film I watched in a long time, The Dark Knight, it’s a bit tempting to get back to machinimating. However, until then I hope you’ll enjoy the little Synergy Contest submission I’ve made, which should be up today – I’ll post the link here when it is. As mentioned it won’t be anything fancy, but it’s a bit different from what I’ve tried making before and the whole thing about following someone elses script has been both a challenge and interesting!

Again, thanks alot for all the support!

– Martin

http://www.talesofthepast.com/

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Soundtrack:

“I was… the Ashbringer.”

* (0:38/–:–) Legendary – King Arthur Soundtrack – 02 – Woad To Ruin

* (–:–/6:00) The Blade – King Arthur Soundtrack – 04 – Hold The Ice

* (–:–/–:–) The Ashbringer In Battle – Pirates of the Caribbean 2 – Hans Zimmer – 08 – a family affair

* (–:–/–:–) Betrayed – 01 – Age of Music

Discord

* (–:–/–:–) Saurfang’s Challenge – Hans Zimmer- The Contender (Main Theme)

* (–:–/–:–) Rexxar’s Journey – Trevor Rabin – Armageddon – Launch

The War Begins

* (–:–/–:–) Council of War – The Elder Scrolls 4 Oblivion Main Title Music

* (–:–/–:–) Two beers per kill – Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Man’s chest – 07 – Two hornpipes (Tortuga)

* (–:–/–:–) eternal_silencetheme_ngm_by_mike_cameron_force

* (15:16/16:44)”No! He must no scape!” – 10 – The Peacemaker – Devoe’s Revenge Take 3 Take 2.wav ; Hans Zimmer – Devoe’s Revenge

* (–:–/–:–) X-Ray Dog – Clash Of Arms(1)

* (–:–/–:–) The Last Samurai (Soundtrack) – 09 – Hans Zimmer – Red Warrior

* (–:–/–:–) Edgen+discovery

* (–:–/–:–) Movies – Hans Zimmer – The Last Samurai – Spectres In The Fog

* (–:–/–:–) “To Hell With This Mission”-The Last Samurai (Soundtrack) – 03 – Hans Zimmer – Taken

* (22:40/24:50) Starsailor – Way to Fall

* (–:–/–:–) 01 – Danny Elfman – Introduction

* (–:–/–:–) Mograine – Immediate Music – Epicon (Hybrid)

* (27:43/29:46) Harry Gregson Williams – Metal Gear Solid 1 End Title: The Best Is Yet to Come

* (–:–/–:–) Pirates of the Caribbean 3 – 06 I See Dead People In Boats

* (–:–/–:–) Pirates of the Caribbean 3 – 02 Singapore

* (–:–/–:–) Pirates of the Caribbean 3 – 03 At Wit’s End

* (–:–/–:–) Serphentos and Rexxar Travel – 10 – In Search of the Grail

* (–:–/–:–) Saurfang and Rexxar – Theme – Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

* (–:–/–:–) Pirates of the Caribbean 3 – 11 I Don’t Think Now Is The Best Time

* (38:10/40:46) Ambush – Saw Soundtrack – Final theme

The Emerald Dream

* (40:58/43:20) Quite A View – Star Wars Episode II – Attack Of The Clones – 02 – Across The Stars (Love Theme)

* (–:–/–:–) “This is why I chose you!”13_-_Hans_Zimmer_-_Barbarian_Horde

* (–:–/–:–) Metal_Gear_Solid_LegendoftheSnake_OC_ReMix

* (–:–/–:–) Memories – Naruto OST – 08 Sadness and Sorrow

* (46:00/46:40) Gronn Slayer – Naruto – Strong And Strike

* (–:–/–:–) Naruto – Main Theme

* (–:–/–:–) Warcraft 3 – Comradeship

* (–:–/–:–) “Let us cast it, into the flames of Blackrock Mountain!” – Lord of The Rings – Main Theme

* (–:–/–:–) The Plan – Pirates of the Caribbean 3 – 05 Up Is Down

* (52:42/55:37) Coco Lee – A Love Before Time (Mandarin)

* (55:45/59:26) The Final Trial – Godspeed You Black Emperor – Moya

Armies Unite

* (–:–/–:–) Metal Gear Solid 3 – Snake Eater (Soundtrack) – 211 – Norihiko Hibino – Last Showdown

* (–:–/–:–) Metal Gear Solid 3 – Snake Eater (Soundtrack) – 210 – Harry Gregson – Williams – Lifes End

* (–:–/–:–) King Arthur Soundtrack – 05-Another Brick in Hadrian’s Wall

* (1:03:50/1:05:03) Monori In Death – Nightwish – End Of All Hope

* (–:–/–:–) Immediate Music – 48 – Orch & Choir Rise – 3

* (–:–/–:–) 31 – Asteroid Chase – The Shuttle Crash

Final Push

* (–:–/–:–) Too late… – Naruto (Orochimaru’s Theme)

* (–:–/–:–) The Lich King’s Power – Naruto 15 – Orochimaru’s Fight

Blazer, returned as the Ashbringer

* (1:07:40/1:09:45) Return of the Ashbringer – Hans Zimmer – King Arthur – Hans Zimmer – Crimson Tide Theme

* (–:–/–:–) Ash and Frost Part 1 – X-ray Dog 50 – Tightwire Orchestral

* (–:–/–:–) Ash and Frost Part 2 – Immediate Music – Blasphemy 2.0 (Choir)

* (1:13:50/1:14:30) Remember Them When in Hope you Doubt – Immediate Music – With Great Power

* (1:14:32/1:14:55) “If you think that’s cool…” – Immediate Music – Desperate Hour

* (1:14:56/1:15:28) Phoenix and Frost Wyrm – Immediate Music – Serenata (Choir)

* (1:15:29/1:15:53) “Nice One!” – Immediate Music – Liberation! (Choir)

* (–:–/–:–) “I smell demons coming…” – X-Ray Dog 44 – Secret Agent

* (–:–/–:–) Monóri vs. Serphentos – Soundtracks – Mission Impossible 2 – Hans Zimmer – Injection

* (–:–/–:–) X-Ray Dog 21 – Big f’n Drums

* (–:–/–:–) “No match for me!” – Immediate Music – With Great Power

Victory of the Ashbringer

* (1:17:05/1:18:10) Retribution – Trust Company – Downfall

* (–:–/–:–) Arthas Reborn – Batman Begins Soundtrack – Corynorhinus

* (–:–/–:–) Blazer’s Final Sacrifice – Metal Gear Solid 3-End theme Harryson Gregson Williams

* (–:–/–:–) “Honor Them!” – Theme Songs – Naruto – Hokage’s Funeral Scene

* (–:–/–:–) “We had a deal…” – King Arthur Soundtrack – 02 – Woad To Ruin

* (–:–/–:–) The Tale Ends – TavernAlliance02

* (–:–/–:–) 04 – Danny Elfman – The Story…

* (–:–/–:–) 10 – Danny Elfman – The Tree of Death

* (1:26:06/1:27:58) Credits – Nightwish – Ghost Love Score

http://www.wowwiki.com/Server:Dunemaul_Europe/Tales_of_the_Past#Soundtrack_TotP_III


DIVA 202 – Tuesday at Emily Carr

January 13, 2009

CONTEMPORARY DIGITAL ARTS AND ARTISTS

John Wilhelm “Billy” Kluver 1927-2004
– curated 14 major museum exhibitons
– received Ordre des arts et des lettres awards from France (worked with Rauchenburg, Warhol, Johns and composer John Cage)
– he was an electrical engineer at Bell Telephone Laboratories
– his work ranged from the TV antenna atop the Eifel Tower to an underwater video camera for Jacques Cousteau
– his artistic work reached pinnacle in 1996 with “9 Evenings: Theater and Engineering”
– John Cage – Variations VIII
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Kl%C3%BCver

Kluver believed that artists and engineers could go one step beyond what either would have done separately.
– absorbing new technology into art practice is persistent throughout the 20th century (futurists, dada, constructivists, fluxus, John Cage)

Fluxus movement is essentially a geocache without technology

John Cage – Water Walk

John Cage’s ASLSP / Organ 2 / Halberstadt,

World’s slowest, longest concert

The world’s “slowest and longest concert” resumed on July 5, 2008, when the Halberstadt church organ played the next – 6th – chord of John Cage’s As Slow As Possible. The weights holding down the organ pedals were shifted resulting to the 6th chord change, and accordingly a chance of hearing the final note being played in the year 2639 would be a possibility. In 1985, Cage opted to omit the detail of “exactly how slow the piece should be played.” Its maiden performance was 29 minutes, while a second version took 71 minutes. The piece is a 639-year-long version of Cage’s ORGAN2/ASLSP As Slow As Possible, first played on Cage’s 89th natal day at 1361 St. Burchardi on September 5, 2001. At 3:33 p.m., Saxony-Anhalt politicians, tourists and media led by Hans-Jörg Bauer, head of John Cage Organ Project, attended the chord change to C4-A flat4.

The former Church of St. Burchard was used as a pig-sty in the communist years of East Germany. Two more organ pipes were added alongside the four installed and the tone became more complex at 3:33 p.m. local time. The second of the new pipes, the next musical change in John Cage’s slow masterpiece will be in this November. A machine keeps the sound coming out.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Video and satellites allowed artists to experiment with live performance and networking

Douglas Davis performance “Last 9 Minutes” (1977?) is broadcast to 25 countries live.
In 1977, at the opening of documenta 6, alongside Nam June Paik and Joseph Beuys, Douglas Davis took part in one of the first international satellite telecasts with his live performance The Last Nine Minutes. His exploration of interactivity involving various media continued throughout the 80s and 90s. He is the author of one of the earliest art pieces on the world wide web, The World’s First Collaborative Sentence (1994).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Davis_(artist)

Keith Sonnier and Liza Bear

Robert Adrian – using 1979 Comtech, artists collaborated and exchanged multimedia artworks for 24 hours

1970’s Digital Art expands into multiple strands of practice
– object oriented
– process-oriented virtual object
– open structure and process that rely on flux of information, like a performance

1980’s
– the audience participates in the work
– the artist is not the sole creator, but a mediator or facilitator for audience interaction
– the creative process involves complex collaboration and collapses boundaries between disciplines

Concepts of new technologies are shaped by fiction, and are compelling enough to inspire their recreation in reality

What came first, the chicken or the egg?

Or in Digital Art, what came first, the idea of an online universe or the realization of it?

William Gibson
(Vancouver based author) – invented the term “cyberspace” in his book Neuromancer

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Gibson

Neuromancer

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuromancer

Neal Stephenson

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neal_Stephenson

Snow Crash

– cyberspace, avatars, second life, mmorpg, internet…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snow_Crash

10 Cube Gallery in Second Life = online avatar art gallery

Selling Digital Art
Precious/Scarce does not always apply in digital context
– printmaking model of limited editions scan work with digital items
– for installations or other software dependent art practice, museums are buying the source code and keeping it on their servers

Collecting Art
– Means you are responsible for maintaining the work
– is inherently ephemeral and may only exist in documentation
– ones and zeros are stable, but hardware and software are not – technology creates an obsolescence

– – – – – – – – – –

SELF-DIRECTED Project – due February 10
– Digital Tools (photo, print, high contrast digital picture, GPS,
– HIGH CONTRAST

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

http://www.stuckincustoms.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_dynamic_range_imaging

– Digital Native (installation, conceptual, performance, projection, intervention, public)

GROUP Project – due March 31
– ARG
– Real-Time performance (acting on audience input) aka improv (Subsurvient Chicken)
http://www.subservientchicken.com/


Yes, he must: coughing up Canadian-made BlackBerry a bitter pill for Obama

January 13, 2009

This is definitely a perplexing notion – how does one exist in the world today without being able to use email?!?!?
– FlashAddict

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

By Lee-Anne Goodman, The Canadian Press

WASHINGTON – He’s been seen cradling it and gazing upon it almost as frequently as he’s cooed at babies and promised to bring change to Washington.

Barack Obama has a deep and abiding affection for his made-in-Canada BlackBerry, and yet the gods are conspiring against him – despite his best efforts, Obama will almost certainly be forced to dump his beloved Berry after his inauguration on Tuesday.

It’s a breakup the president-elect has long been dreading.

“I’m still clinging to my BlackBerry,” he said in a recent interview with CNBC. “They’re going to pry it out of my hands.”

Canada’s Research in Motion (TSX:RIM), the inventor and manufacturer of the BlackBerry, is adamant that its devices and security network protect all data passing through them. Officials for the company won’t comment on Obama’s fondness for their device – or his impending heartache.

But most technology experts say that no security systems – either at RIM or any other company – can ever be entirely safe from hackers, spies, snoops and trouble-makers, and point out that allowing Obama to keep his BlackBerry could pose a serious security risk.

White House security agencies and lawyers have not only insisted Obama abandon the BlackBerry, but email in general as well.

In addition to the security risk, they say, all presidential communications can be made public due to the Freedom of Information Act and the Presidential Records Act of 1978 – something that makes political strategists queasy.

Nonetheless, the notion of having to forego email and hand-held devices might seem inhumane and unimaginable to anyone under the age of 50, for whom emailing and texting has evolved into a primary mode of communication over the past 15 years.

The idea of an offline president seems equally bizarre.

“It just doesn’t seem right to me,” said Karen Daniel, a television producer from Knoxville, Tenn., who nurses her own hard-core Berry addiction. “He’s a man of his generation and this is how his generation communicates.”

Daniel’s not alone, according to the results of a survey conducted this week by the San Francisco Chronicle.

The newspaper asked its readers: “Should president-elect Barack Obama have to give up his BlackBerry?”

As of midday Tuesday, 50 per cent or respondents had said no, while only 18 per cent – clearly unfamiliar with how ubiquitous electronic communications have become – said he’ll be too busy with other matters to bother with checking email.

Nine per cent, however, said Obama should give up the BlackBerry to avoid creating a record of presidential doings, while 24 per cent argued the very opposite: he should keep it in order to create a record of presidential doings.

Daniel said she agrees that holding onto his BlackBerry will only help to keep Obama honest.

“It makes him more transparent,” said Daniel, who recently went through withdrawal symptoms of her own when her Berry went on the blink for days, leaving her in a communications no-man’s land while vacationing in New York.

“If he doesn’t mind that people will be able to read his exchanges in years to come, then why can’t he hold onto it?”

Former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe, who delivered a luncheon speech Tuesday in Toronto as part of an international speaking tour, agreed that losing the BlackBerry would be more than just an inconvenience for his one-time boss.

“It’s an important way for him to operate with his colleagues, but also it’s very important for him to stay in touch with … his friends and his family,” Plouffe said.

“It’s something he’s really struggling with.”

Obama’s not the first president to have to give up the conveniences of modern communication.

While Bill Clinton sent only two email messages as president and has reportedly never warmed to the habit, George W. Bush expressed sadness when he was forced to stop emailing in January 2001.

He even said recently he’s looking forward to emailing “my buddies” when he returns to Texas from Washington.

But for Obama, losing his Berry is a particularly bitter irony considering his historic campaign for the presidency was largely launched on technological battle fronts – on Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Twitter and via emails and text messages.

He emailed friends and family and even actress Scarlett Johansson with the device. He kept his eye on it while attending his daughters’ soccer games in Chicago. He was ridiculed for carrying it in a holster on his belt – something of a fashion faux pas among technology snobs.

“It’s not just the flow of information,” a mournful Obama said last week.

“What it has to do with is having mechanisms where you are interacting with people who are outside of the White House in a meaningful way. And I’ve got to look for every opportunity to do that – ways that aren’t scripted, ways that aren’t controlled … ways of staying grounded.”

There might be a solution on the horizon for Obama, however.

Some hand-held devices have been approved as secure enough to handle even classified documents, email and Web browsing, raising the possibility that perhaps Obama might be allowed some sort of Berry-ish gadget.

The General Dynamics’ Sectera Edge is a combination phone-PDA that retails for a pricey US$3,350. It’s been certified by the National Security Agency as being acceptable for top secret voice communications, e-mail and Web sites, and it’s sturdy – able to withstand numerous four-foot drops onto concrete.

There was no immediate word from Obama’s transition team about whether the phone might be an option for the president-elect.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/090113/world/inauguration_obama_blackberry


World of Warcraft – The Death of PvP

January 8, 2009

An oldie but a goodie machinima video about the death of Player versus Player (PvP) action in the video game World of Warcraft – sigh I miss PvPing at level 60 with my Paladin and bags full of Iron Grenades – shit was hawt!


Reading the Screen – class notes from last Wednesday

October 2, 2008

The Band Concert  Dir. Walt Disney  USA  1935  8 min.

– William Tell Overture – Mickey is the conductor – all other major characters are in the band
– Donald is selling ice cream and interrupting the music – also playing the flute – shaking his tail feathers
– Mickey breaks his flute – but Donald has many others
– bee flies into the flute and into Donald’s mouth
– ice cream gets thrown from donald to mickey to the band and back at mickey
– tempo raises as mickey tries to kill bee and swings his hands around with the baton
– ruh roh here comes the tornado
– audience and benches go running
– the band gets sucked into the cyclone and then drops back down to the ground when it disipates
– lawl only donald is left in the audience and breaks out his flute again to play out the scene

I Ought To Be In Pictures Dir. Bob Clampett  USA  1939   7 min.


– WB Looney tunes with Porky Pig on opening still
– real life people walking into the film studio – shows animator drawing porky pig
– LUNCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! animators run to the mess hall
– Daffy Duck starts talking to Porky and tells him to quit his contract
– they walk through the real life studio and knock on the studio head’s door
– Hello, Porky – cmon in – hello Leon Sclesinger
– get out of cartoon contract – get into feature films – they shake hands
– “He’ll be back!”
– Daffy was conspiring to take his place all along
– security guard at the feature film studio tosses porky pig into the street
– he comes onto a live set – QUIET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
– porky sneezes and gets caught – thrown out again – security guard sees him – chase begins again
– “don’t like feature business – wonder if i can get my job back?”
– daffy tries to sell studio head about his acting/singing skills
– studio head ain’t interested – FIGARO!!!!!!!!!!!!
– camera on a rolling car with porky drawn into the scene
– porky comes in to see daffy talking to leon and calls him outside – beats the crap out of him – papers go flying
– porky says april fools – I knew you’d come back – get back to work!
– he jumps back into the paper – daffy is in bandages now
– THAT’S ALL FOLKS!

Duck Amuck  Dir. Chuck Jones   USA  1953   7 min.


– MERRY MELODIES
– Daffy Duck as a musketeer
– he talks to the animator / audience as the scenery disapears and he keeps changing
– farm to igloos – daffy keeps changing characters – now its a beach in hawaii
– white screen – giant pencil starts erasing daffy
– SOUND PLEASE! – guitar sounds like rifle / horn / donkey
– daffy opens his mouth and sounds like a rooster, ape…gets really pissed
– painted daffy as an alien – painted in mirror and he freaks
– THIS IS A CLOSE UP?!?!?!
– DAffy fights the black screen closing and falling on him
– The End…NO NO NO!!!
– it turns out it was Bugs Bunny all along as the animator
– “Ain’t I a stinker?”

Begone Dull Care  Dir. Norman McClaren   CANADA  1949  8 min.


– abstract drawings / patterns / layouts / cutouts
– many different cuts set to the tempo of the music
– many different layers scrolling at different speeds
– different musical tempos differentiate different graphic symbols
– line drawings represent softer tempos

– first song ends – now second one comes on – much slower tempo
– focus on 2 dancing lines across the screen to the sound of a solitary piano
– it feels like a piano playing visually
– rising and dropping cymbals in the background

– new musical piece – much heavier tempo – back to abstract and loud visual graphics
– scrolling upwards – feels like we’re on a train going somewhere
– scrolls through many different END / SALUT…to end the piece

Blinkity Blank Dir. Norman McClaren   CANADA  1952   7 min.


– similar to last piece – with abstract shapes
– he cut and manipulated the individual film strips to create the shapes and text
– very time intensive and consuming process to do
– he also manipulated the sound strips on the film as well
– use of colours and scratches in the film to create shapes

The Street  Dir. Caroline Leaf CANADA  1976  10 min.


– credit text – with sounds of kids playing overtop
– breathing – hands – face – snoring
– watercolour painting – maybe charcoal?
– grandmother dying – her last summer
– narrator telling the story – it’s a man reminiscing about his childhood
– boys peak up the nurse’s dress everytime she  she came
– boy tries to peak in and enter his old room – to give her a kiss every morning
– the sounds and voices are so rich in texture, yet the drawings are not
– mother brings the grandmother back to the house after her illness
– interesting segueway sequence from scene to scene – smoke/cloud like effect

Neighbours  Dir. Norman McClaren   CANADA  1952   7 min.


– frame by frame action – to show movement
– two men sitting on lawn chairs lighting pipes
– electronic music soundscape
– a flower grows in the middle of the lawn between their properties
– man smells flower and falls backwards – frame by frame movement again – shows them jumping – caught in mid air
– they both want the flower so now they are trying to build a fence between them
– back and forth the fence goes between properties
– now they start fencing with one another
– face painting to show them slowly degenerate to their primitive selves
– kicks their wives and babies – kills them
– in the process they kill themselves and the flower dies
– the fences are built around their graves and the flower splits into 2 and grows on their tombs
– LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR
The Hand   Dir. Jiri Trnka.  CZECHOSLOVAKIA. 1965.  18 Min.


– stop motion animation – like aardman/chicken run – uses puppets and real objects
– in comes a giant gloved hand through the window and breaks a potted plant
– plays with the pottery wheel and creates a hand out of the bowl the puppet had made
– knock knock knock – he moves the plant  and grabs his broom to swat at the hand
– ring ring ring – puppet looks for the phone
– has receiver to his ear but we see visual representation of the conversation over puppet’s head
– hand brings a tv out of a box on the floor
– standoff between the puppet and the scene on the tv with a hand and shows various close ups of different hands (images…)
– puppet tries to smash fingers of the hand with a mace
– newspaper comes under the door – has a hand inside of it and the giant hand appears out of it
– burlesque hand now appears and dances for the puppet – beckoning him to come forward
– nooses appear from the fingers – they are actually strings to control the puppet
– he is now in a cage and is chiseling a hand out of stone at the direction of the giant hand
– burning the midnight oil in order to finish off the hand statue
– puppet is awarded with medals for completing the hand
– he topples over the hand statue to break out of the cage and escape – begins chase sequence with giant hand trying to catch him
– puppet makes it back to his home and slams door shut behind him / barricades himself inside
– glove on the giant hand is now black as the puppet had killed himself trying to close the closet and the potted plant fell on his head
– funeral scene ow as the puppet is laid to rest inside the closet

The Man Who Planted Trees  Dir. Frederick Back   CANADA  1987   30 min


part 1/4
– narrator Christopher Plummer
– beautifully drawn scenes and animations
– abstract yet engaging at the same time
– animated scrolling scenes showcase the houses and windows
– barren landscapes – sound of howling winds overheard – sets the tone/scene of the piece
– flowing cloak of the shepherd – bahhhhhhhhhhh bahhhhhhh
– flowing line drawing to show the tide coming in at the ocean shore
– the flowing/howling winds are represented within the flowing drawings
– always the ever present wind
– illumination from the candle was shown effectively in the lighting of the drawing
– 10,000 oak trees in this desolate land where before there was…nothing
– the land was dying from lack of trees
– WWI starts and scene changes to the trenches of France – explosions – bayonets – desolation
– once the war was over – the narrator went back to the barren lands to smell fresh air
– now the old man is a bee keeper – given up his sheep because they threatened his trees
– oaks of 1910 were now 10 years old and taller then the narrator – 3 sections 10 km x 11km
– one man with no mechanization had done this
– as for providence, she would need a cyclone to destroy this stretch of trees
– creation had just followed in a natural sequence – streams flowing with water where before they had been dry
– delegation came to observe the “natural growing forest” – was placed under government protection
– he knows more about this than anyone in the world
– WWII – shows warplanes in the sky – sounds of them as well
– complete a task worthy of God