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So I stumbled across this story on slash film a couple of months ago, but our in class discussion made me think about it so I thought I’d share it with everyone.  The article talks about movies of the last decade (specifically the ones nominated for best picture) and how the vast majority of them were not original. Check out the article and click “more” to read my thoughts. Read the rest of this entry »

Below is the link to Mark and Guillaume’s podcast project.  We attempted to show that sound is a powerful tool to reinforce imagery and emotion.  We also tried to show how different use of sounds can effect our interpretation of a piece of narrative.  When given a description of a day at the beach two times, this podcast examines the different tone, imagery and emotional response that is provided by two different soundtracks.

http://middmedia.middlebury.edu/media/fmmc0246a-s10/GL-MW-Podcast.mp3

ebert-oprah

So as of late, I’ve been following my twitter account pretty seriously.  I have about 30 or so people that I follow, including various celebrities and people that I know.  One of the people that I have been following is Roger Ebert.  I am a big film fan and I thought that his thoughts on current films would be interesting.  As it turns out Roger tweets about everything; films, politics, pop culture, daily activities, everything.  To be honest I was a little bit upset because my twitter wall was very much dominated by Ebert.  He posts five or six posts at a time and does it several times a day.  I was getting sick of Ebert.

Then I watched Oprah today… Roger Ebert was the guest, and he was talking about his battle with cancer which has left him without a throat, jaw, and the ability to speak.  I was blown away because I had no idea.  Apparently this has been something he has been dealing with for a few years now, but I had not heard.  Suddenly I was fascinated by the fact that he is on twitter so much.  After losing the ability to speak, he has found a new way to communicate with the world, which is through is blogs and through twitter.  I thought that this was such an interesting example of people using new technological media.  Not only is Roger writing in blog form, but on Oprah’s show they showed clips of him working with computer programmers to create a program that allows him to type into his computer and in turn the computer will use the thousands of hours of Roger’s recorded voice from over the years, to convert the text into speech using Roger’s own voice.

This experience has given me yet another perspective on the use of media in our culture today, and a new found respect/interest in all of Roger Ebert’s tweets that fill my wall every day.

Here is Mark and Liya’s paper project… Read the rest of this entry »

tronlegacy-posterzoomface-croptsr

So I found this story/video-blog on FirstShowing.net about a viral campaign for the new Tron movie Tron Legacy.  Watch the video to hear the story of the campaign.  Basically what happened was in an attempt to get people into the sequel for the film, fans were sent on a scavenger hunt across different media to find secret clues that eventually led them to special screenings across the country of a trailer for the film.  The scavenger hunt had fans going on to different websites, play video games, go to actual locations where mysterious men handed out cell phones, and fans ended up watching an online clock countdown until 8am when they had the option to sign up for a screening.  The whole thing was very mysterious and required a lot of faith and commitment from fans to even end up at the screening.  In the end it sounded like some fans were expecting to see much more than approximately 2 minutes of footage.

This story was very intriguing to me was the way in which this viral campaign crossed several different media.  This attempt at advertising the movie would only tap into a market of people who are active in several different media (i.e. internet blogging, video gaming, film watching etc.)  It made me think of our recent discussion about how much of what gets posted on the web is not meant for everybody, because this is a specific example of only one specific type of fan being affected by the campaign.  It really makes me wonder why the studio or the production company or whoever is in charge of this marketing would go through so much effort for just such a small number of fans.  How can making this select group go through so much effort to see a trailer help get millions of tickets get sold when the film actually comes out 10 months from now?  My only thinking is that film bloggers will talk about the experience (like the way in which I heard the story) and word of the movie will slowly trickle down to all kinds of fans.  Anyway, let me know via comments if you guys have any thoughts or similar experiences with viral marketing.

UP! in the Air

UP! in the Air

So after our day with photoshop, one of my blogs suggested that I check out some of the movie mating going on at Worth1000.com.  I included an example of one of the ones I thought was the best, but apparently every year they take in fan submissions for mashed up movie posters (i.e. UP! + Up in the Air = UP! in the Air).  I think a lot of them are very funny (while others really are not), but I thought this was a cool example of fan-made material which I think is a subject we are going to be covering in class later in the semester.

So I only follow a handful of podcasts and they all happen to be video podcasts, but the one that I think is most relevant to this class would me the infoMania podcast.  Upon doing some wikipedia research on the podcast, I actually discovered that the podcast airs as a 30 minute show on the Current Channel, but I think it is still applicable to analyze it at a podcast.

The podcast consists of clips from television and the internet.  There is a host, Connor Knighton, who goes through the clips that cover current events in politics, entertainment, and general pop culture.  The show has a similar format to shows like The Soup or The Daily Show, however it seems to have a slightly younger, more media/internet/viral savvy feel to it, especially considering that much of the content is found by internet users and bloggers.

What I found very interesting about the podcast however was the channel Current that it airs on.  Again, after doing more wikipedia research I found out that Current is a semi-premium channel that was actually founded by Al Gore.  What is cool about the show is that they have programming geared towards a younger audience interested in current events, but they also air segments submitted by viewers.  Users upload 3-7 minute “pods” onto the website and then other users and Current programming department pick which ones go on air.  The whole thing sounds really cool with viewer-submitted content (almost like a more corporate version of Paper Tiger).

Anyway… check out the podcast (or the show or whatever), it’s got a lot of cool segments like “White Hot: top five lists of itunes” and “Viral Video Film School” and great current clips.  Watch it!

After reading McCloud’s Understanding Comics I was fascinated by how deep the analysis of the comic medium can actually go.  Although I have definitely read comics before (both in the newspapers and in graphic novels), I am a bit ashamed to admit that I may have had some of the dismissive views towards comics that McCloud talks about.  I guess the idea that I found most interesting (although I’m not sure I completely agree with it) was the idea that the simplification or “abstraction” of comic books actually allows readers to get more involved in the work because the medium acts as a way for the reader to see themselves in the imagery.

McCloud did a very good job at giving visual examples of what he was describing.  When he was discussing how different icons/symbols/images can be used to represent different information in very different ways, it was a simple but fascinating concept that I had not think of.  An example of his illustrations that I thought was particularly effective was showing the drawing of a face, but with the word “eye” where the eye of the face should be drawn.  So often in comics, but also in every single media, our brains are taking in so much information.  What I found so interesting was that I am only somewhat aware of how much information I am taking in, but am almost completely unaware about the way in which it is coming in.  When I see pictures or words it is impossible for me to not interpret them as ideas or concepts.  In the “eye” example, McCloud pointed out perfectly for me that not only is my brain trained to interpret images that way, but that different media really do go into the brain differently.  I realized how much I take for granted the fact that the media I am taking in occur so naturally and easily to me.

The one concept McCloud covered that I will probably be pondering over for the next couple of days is the idea of “abstracting” images and how it can actually help the reader relate to the content.  While everything McCloud said made sense, and I can think of examples where a simplified abstract idea was very relatable and almost self-reflective, I can’t help but think of comics like Maus or Persepolis where there is much graphic and disturbing imagery, that gets simplified and abstracted.  In instances like this, I feel like my emotional response to this imagery is not as intense as when I see similar imagery in photography or film.  McCloud references MacLuhan saying that the media is an extension of our senses, but I feel like with the example of the comic, the abstraction of the images disconnects me from that extension and more often than not lessons my emotional response.  While I can maybe use the comic to get ideas (i.e. using icons and symbols to represent concepts) I feel like I get more emotion and feeling from other media.

So before I started being forced to follow all of the blogs from this class, there was only one blog that I followed.  It is /Film, and it is a blog that has insider information on the film industry (and sometimes other things like TV, music videos, pop culture, etc.).  As someone who considers himself a film fanatic and likes to have info about current and upcoming projects a blog like this has been very addicting.  There are several blogs similar to this one (i.e. Film School Rejects, Cinematical, and others), but /Film has won a fair amount of awards for their blog and I just happen to like it the best.

The big thing that got me hooked on /Film is how they put new movie trailers on their site as soon as they are available.  Before I found the blog, I used to be a constant checker of the Apple Trailers page and a few others to see trailers of soon to be released films.  When I discovered /Film I was blown away with how many more trailers they would offer.  They have bloggers whose only job is to search the internet for trailers, whether they be international, leaked footage, or very indie films.  Instead of me going through several sites trying to find trailers (poorly I might add), the blog does it for me which was huge.

The blog also includes other features such as, breaking stories about future film castings, and which directors and writers are signing on to which projects.  They have regular blogs like “Geek Deal” which give links to sites where fans of films and TV shows can find good deals on DVD or collector item sales. They also have early screening reviews as well as fan reviews of films that come out.  This allows followers of the blog to post comments about films that they have seen and wish to review.  When big films such as Avatar or Transformers 2 have come out, the comments sections have turned into huge sections where fans argue why they did or did not like the movie (I have linked to those two “What did you think?” comment sections).  In general, the blog is there to give information and forums for discussion about news and thoughts that people who are film fanatics would be interested in.  In this sense, blogs like this have huge cultural impact because by choosing which films and stories to talk about they are definitely affecting what films and stories are considered “cool” or “relevant” in the film world.

I don’t really know where to begin… media has been such a huge part of my life (I realize that this is true for everyone, but I am just now realizing it because I have been assigned to write about it).  I can remember a lot of “firsts” in terms of media in my life.  I remember my first television, in which I spent most of my early years watching.  I specifically remember before I was ever able to tell time on a standard clock, I was able to tell time based on what cartoons were on television.  I can picture myself sitting on the floor of my family’s first apartment watching TV for hours up until my parents put the standard “One hour of TV a day” restriction on me.  This battle with how much TV is too much would continue with my parents and me through my adolescence.  I remember my first video game system, it was a Sega Genesis.  My younger brother and I play games like “Sonic the Hedgehog,” “Mrs. Packman,” and “Mickey’s Magic House” for hours because this was the era before saving your place existed, so if you lost you had to start over from the beginning.  My brother and I always had a strange video game dynamic in that I was very good at strategy and figuring out what to do but lacked the coordination to play well, whereas he was the exact opposite.  For this reason we were always a video game team where I would coach him while he played.  Again, this was something that continued for years as we worked our way through various systems and games (i.e. Mario for N64, Halo for XBox).  I remember my family’s first computer; a huge and slow IBM.  To me the computer’s purpose was to play games like Tetris, Pipedream, and Rat’s Race.  It wasn’t until we started using computers at school that I understood what computers could do.  It was the first time I used an Apple computer (I would be a “Mac Guy” forever after).  I learned how to make documents and powerpoint presentations while at the same time play games and use the internet (I think as long I live I will never forget the ridiculous sounds that dial-up internet used to make).  Perhaps this is just me looking back with 20/20 hindsight, but I think I realized at a very young age that the computer (specifically Apple computers) was a tool that allowed me to do so many of the things that I enjoyed doing, but it would take me until most of my way through high school until my laptop really became the essential part of my life that it is today.

Where do I stand today? I am almost completely dependent on my laptop for much of my media needs.  I use it for work, photos, music, TV shows, internet browsing (including social networking, news coverage, and entertainment purposes), and video editing which has become somewhat of a passion of mine.  The one media related thing that I still keep separated from my computer are my movies.  I am a pretty big film fanatic, and while I am always on my computer looking up facts on imdb.com or getting insider film info on slashfilm.com, when it comes to watching films I have always been too pretentious to sacrifice my movie watching experience to watch them on a smaller computer screen.  It is for this reason that I insist to see films in theaters or on larger televisions as opposed to digital downloads or online pirated versions.  It is also why I still buy DVD’s (in fact, I kind of collect DVD’s with my most recent tally getting close to 450 movies and TV shows).

The one area I have yet to enter is that of blogging.  I have never blogged, tweeted, or even put a status on facebook.  I guess my thinking has been that while social networks like facebook allow me to stay connected to other people, things like blogging seem like me putting myself out there just for the sake of putting myself out there.  I guess I just don’t think my life is so interesting that the world absolutely needs to know about it.  But here I am writing my first blog and I just signed up for twitter (@mwhelan88), so maybe this will be the start of a new era of Mark Whelan blogging and tweeting in the digital world, let’s see how it goes…

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