Month: November 2017 (Page 2 of 3)

La La Land Movie References

In Sara Preciado’s “La La Land – Movie References” video essay, she uses a split screen format with side by sides of scenes from La La Land next to movies that the film references with those scenes, similar to other movie reference video essays that I have watched during the semester. While I do find this technique effective in getting the point of the video essay across, which is showing the similarities between the two scenes being shown on screen, I do find it distracting when there is so much movement happening on both sides of the screen at once. While it isn’t crucial to see everything that is going on with both sides of the screen (because you get the sense that they look similar just from glancing at them both), I find myself pausing the video or watching it again to see what exactly is similar or different between the two images.

Something in this videographic essay that I find that works is that it uses one song from the original soundtrack of La La Land for sound rather than using the sound from both of the films going at once. In another movie references video essay I watched, the two scenes happening at once in addition to the sound made it really distracting for me, while having one music track allowed me to focus more on the visual similarities between the two movies shown on screen. Another thing that I liked about this essay is that the dimensions of the two sides of the screen matched, unlike another video essay I watched that had the original dimensions of the two films. I found that having different dimensions for the screens was a little jarring, and with this essay, having the screens line up in height makes the video look more aesthetically pleasing and organized. After watching a few movie references video and seeing that they use the same format, I’m interested in seeing how these reference videos would be different if they were to use a different format, like having the original scene play first then cut to the reference on a different screen, or have one screen smaller than the other, just to allow the viewer’s focus be on one thing rather than having to shift back and forth or rewatch.

Normative | Transgressive (Queer Visibility on Husbands)

Looking at a video essay that touches on a subject matter different than what I have looked at in the past, a web series. In this video essay, we examine the ways Husbands showcases both normative and transgressive queer images. Reading about this web series was quite interesting. Husbands was one of the first new media series to receive critical acclaim from papers like The New Yorker or AV Club. We can then turn back to the show and see why it pushed and created new dialogue that was not present before. Through the use of comedy, Husbands is able to take normative and transgressive themes and present them in absurd ways that allows for the audience who may have never seen this web series to understand and break down these ideas. Thinking about these themes of normative and transgressive is present and paid attention to in the field of queer studies. Notions of assimilation and the way queer people act and react is contingent on much more than their own personality – but the intersection of race, gender, class, geographic location and more are all important to look into. Looking at this video essay, I am able to see absurd behaviors both “normal” and “not” and look through a queer lens.

The videographic form of this video essay is dominated predominantly by the use of multiscreen. One side of the split goes and the other, a juxtaposition, plays afterwards. With no text or voice-over one is left to think about the ideas presented in this video on their own terms. With a solid white line splitting the screen, the separation is much more obvious and pronounced compared to a multiscreen without this white line. As there are multiple ways of using multiscreen and presenting ideas in the videographic form – seeing the different ways of doing so is great and continues to push the notion that there is no exact way of creating a video essay.

What is Toxic Masculinity by Jonathan McIntosh

When watching this, I could easily see how McIntosh could have written this essay about toxic masculinity in popular culture on paper; however,  the power of visual images makes this topic very compelling on the screen, since his example, Biff from Back to the Future,  is from a movie itself. Here we can see what makes visual essays so great: when our example is from the screen or very visual, it works really well to talk about it visually versus in writing since it matches in essence.  I believe employing this tactic  sets up McIntosh for the best argument possible.

That being said, his video comes across a bit lecture-y. We see his face on half the screen most of the time talking to us, but not in a way that seems like we’re figuring this out together in real time, but  like he’s already prepared everything and he’s simply informing his audience. He goes through defining the words “toxic” and “masculinity” within culture, and then what it means when the two words are put together: “As a shorthand to describe behaviors linked to domination, humiliation, and control”. Then he talks over his examples of Biff exemplifying all of his definitions within the movie. Overall, the video essay is pretty simple in its structure: explanation by Jonathan, clear formula for toxic masculinity, example shown on screen. It’s not very creative or visually striking, but he gets his point across.

It’s definitely a video essay, but more in the literal sense than a lot of the video essays we’ve been watching and commenting on in class. It’s literally an essay in video format about a cultural topic that can be explained through a movie example. I learned something, I just wasn’t super enthralled by the approach.

 

 

How Alfred Hitchcock Blocks A Scene

Here is yet another example of how video essays distinguish themselves from traditional academic essays. In “How Hitchcock Blocks a Scene,” the essayist creates his own video, in this case, an animated representation of the scene from Vertigo he dissects, to accompany Hitchcock’s film.  

This is different than the other multiscreen projects I have seen, where typically we have some other element of the film, or another film altogether, juxtaposed on screen. However, here, we have a graphic that completely supplements the source images and illustrates how the scene is blocked.

What’s interesting about this essay is that we have three elements at play here: the voiceover, the animated graphic that represents the room, and the film itself. As we begin watching the essay, our attention is firmly drawn to the video and the voiceover, with period glances towards the image illustrating how the scene is blocked. However, as the essay progresses, we begin to focus on the film, and more on the essayists recreation. We become more concerned with the bird’s eye view the essayist recreates rather than Hitchcock’s film. Because the graphic does such an amazing job in illustrating where Jimmy Stewart and Tom Helmore are in relation to one another and the objects in the room, it captures our attention, and we only glance back at the film itself when we need to reaffirm what the narrator is telling and showing us. It’s so captivating because it allows us to understand scene construction in a way that is so clear and precise, anyone would be able to understand it. Yet, this is no small feat.

Hitchcock makes blocking a scene seems easier because he is the master of it. By actually dissecting it, we begin to see how complicated a process it really is, and begin to appreciate Hitchcock’s skill in this area of filmmaking

My main takeaway with video essays is that perhaps its main advantage is its ability to integrate other digital technologies, whether they be old, current, or future ways of representing sounds and images.

Week 10 / 11

November 13 – Videographic Responses

  • Submit videographic response essays to Classes folder
  • Watch in class

November 15 – More Videographic Responses

  • Do weekly video commentaries
  • Watch more videographic responses

November 20 – Guest Filmmaker: Jen Proctor on Video Art, Feminism & Videographic Criticism

  • Watch Jen Proctor’s “Am I Pretty?”  (password via email)

 

 

Steve Jobs – Blocking & Realist Acting

Steve Jobs – Blocking & Realist Acting

While searching for videographic essays that focused on the films I’m using in my final project, I stumbled across this video. Initially, I was drawn to the piece because it dealt with a topic that was originally going to guide the argument in my final project; the acting of Michael Fassbender (in comparison to Ashton Kutcher’s performance in Jobs). While this video dealt only with Fassbender’s performance and didn’t attempt to relate the work to Jobs as I had planned, the subject of the video focused on one of the key elements of Fassbender’s performance that I had considered discussing – his physical interactions with other characters and his environment. Because of this common interest, I was particularly keen on seeing how the authors edited and constructed their argument. They started with the claim that Fassbender deserved his Oscar nomination, and maybe even the award, a point which I had considered drawing upon to distinguish Fassbender’s work from Kutcher’s. Because of these similarities between the video and my initial conception for a final project, I found that I had uncovered an intriguing opportunity to see how my initial ideas for a final project might have played out if I had decided stick with focusing on the performances of the two Steve Jobs instead of considering other elements of the films.

The meat of the argument starts when the narrator invites us to examine a particular scene where Fassbender exhibits precise blocking and physical interactions which guide his performance. After hearing this I began to wonder what scene the creator would choose to showcase the actor’s performance, but I was more interested in how the scene would be presented. Would the creator allow the scene to playout in its entirety? Or would they pause, rewind, and restart the scene, dissecting it as they went? The next line of voiceover answers one of those questions. The narrator states; “This two minute scene between Fassbender and Katherine Waterston…” By stating the length of the scene, it becomes obvious that the performance will be played out in its entirety, but next I’m left wondering if the narrator will continue to contribute through voiceover during the scene. It turns out that there are audio cues that answer this question as well. As a door closes on the pair of actors and the scene begins (just as the narrator said it would), the background music fades. The ‘tense’ rhythm which has propelled the voiceover up to this point ends and the transition is punctuated by the sound of a door clicking shut, which mimics a clapperboard marking the start of a take.

The editor then lets the entire scene playout, without any interruption. As the scene ends, the music that accompanies the narration fades back in, and the door to the room where the scene transpired opens. After watching this video, I felt that the editor was taking a risk by dedicating such a large chunk of their video essay to an unaltered scene – a full two minutes without narration. Upon reflection, I’m still not sure if I agree that leaving the viewer alone with unaltered footage is the best way to support the claims made in the video, but I think that the creator did an excellent job of guiding the viewer through the process and setting up such an approach. Convention would indicate that if voiceover is used in a videographic essay, it’s going to be used throughout the video – the narrator is our guide to the content, adding clarity to the edited footage. By temporarily breaking convention, and including a long stretch without voiceover, the editor takes a risk in allowing the viewer to explore the content alone. I think the editor does an excellent job of mitigating risk by clearly marking how the sequence will function – ensuring that the viewer knows the scene is left unaltered and open to their own judgement while not explicitly indicating so.

The expansion of the video-essay?

As I was searching the depths of youtube for video-essays that looked of interest to me, I realized that a lot of people that are on the video-essay business have been expanding their focus from film to larger thematics using the same medium (video) and the same style that characterizes their channel in general.  I am thinking of Nerdwriter1kaptainkristian , ViewfinderPolyphonic, …

I want to start up front and say that so far I have not stumbled upon a channel similar to these that is run by a woman, or that has any female voice over. Before I get back to this topic of gender I want to flesh out what I noticed about these channels:

  1. They go beyond the “traditional” video-essay and have expanded their topic coverage outside of the real of film, covering, music, music videos, artist career (not confined to a song or music video), visual art, politics…
  2. They usually have the same tone regardless of their topic. Whereas a video-essayist like Kevin B. Lee explores different styles depending on the content (on-screen text exclusively, voice-over, a combination of the two, supercuts…), these video-essayists usually resort to the same style
  3. They use voice-over as their main means of conveying information about the topic. Usually, on-screen text only functions as an aid, a way to highlight and summarize the main points
  4. More than using their voices, they do so in a very professional and stylized manner with a tone of voice that conveys assurance and expertise
  5. I repeat… None of these (that I have found so far) are run by female-identifying people…

I really enjoy watching content on these channels but I wonder if these still fall under the umbrella of the video-essay? One example that we can dig into is that of the Nerdwriter1’s How Martin Luther King Jr. Wrote ‘I Have A Dream’. The Nerdwriter, who is used to making really fine video-essays about movies, switches to talk about the figures of style and the elements that make Martin Luther king’s speech so great. He makes extremely good use of on-screen text to analyze and deconstruct both the content of the speech and the pace of it, coupling it with sound in a way that is extremely compelling and effectively explanatory. There is no real difference between how the Nerdwriter1 talks about this speech and how Lewis from Channel Criswell talks about the different types of composition in film and what they do to the audience. That the video-essay was revolutionary in allowing the use of the film medium to criticize film is undeniable, but what about the fact that the medium of film can also help us understand other aspects of art that are usually tied to film? And art as well as culture beyond film?

 

Color Grading in Marvel Films

In Patrick Willems’ video essay titled “Why Do Marvel’s Movie Look Kind of Ugly?,” Willems explores and discusses color grading in Marvel films, asking why all of Marvel’s movies look like “muddy concrete.” Before even watching this video essay, I knew that the tone would be less serious/scholarly because of the title, and after watching the first few seconds, it is clear that the tone that Willems uses in his voiceover is conversational and playful, setting the tone for the rest of the video essay. From this tone, viewers can understand that this essay is based more on opinion and observation rather than facts. Willems also says explicitly in the video that he is expressing his own opinion, so his tone works very well with the subject matter of the essay.

In introducing his topic, Willems gives a brief background of Marvel films and one example of a scene that he considers ugly based on the color grading, and then gives a brief explanation of what color grading is. He explains that color grading is the digital manipulation of colors and tones of the images seen on screen, and how this technique began in 2000 and has become significant in films since then. He explains the technicalities of color grading, saying that digital cameras capture very flat images that look gray and dull, in order to allow color grading that will enhance the images later. Willems gives various examples and before and after shots of color grading to make the difference clear.

After providing some context about his video essay topic, Willems goes on to discuss his issue with color grading in Marvel films, which is mainly that the films consistently use the same style of color grading on digital footage, creating images that appear flat and dull when they should be vibrant and exciting. A part of the reason for this is the lack of pure black value in the images in Marvel films, allowing little contrast, which doesn’t allow other colors to pop. Willems brings in comic books and inking techniques to further illustrate this point, then adjusts the saturation and contrast in a clip from Guardians of the Galaxy, showing how the aesthetics of the original and the enhanced version compare. After watching this video essay, I did look back on my experiences watching Marvel films and thinking that the images looked dull and flat, especially in the daylight scenes, and it was interesting to learn about the technicalities of color grading in these films.

Fusing Style and Story- Lessons from the Screenplay

 

This video essay uses Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom in order to talk about the synthesis of story and style in movies. Michael (the author of this video essay) argues that Wes Anderson’s story feels “believable” because of how he implements style in the movie. One important aspect that Michael brings up, is that Wes Anderson’s film style directly alerts viewers that they are watching a film. The shots aren’t designed to make viewers forget they are watching a movie. Even the dialogue in Moonrise Kingdom is “unusual” because it is direct and delivered almost emotionlessly. Michael argues though that this fits with the theme of Moonrise Kingdom because the viewer is working to understand the world, just like the two protagonists trying to understand their place in the world as they transition into adulthood.

 

I think that the idea of fitting style to story is really important to consider when making and analyzing movies. While considering these ideas, I think it is also important to know that filmmakers don’t have to follow traditional story telling styles. Wes Anderson is a great example because he purposely breaks lots of film “rules” in order to create a unique style that fits with his stories. Essentially this video essay made me think about film style, and what makes things seem coherent. Films don’t have to be “invisible” in order to be effective. Rather a filmmaker should choose a style that they think fits their film, and then be consistent with that theme throughout the movie. This consistency will allow the viewer to begin to understand the world and how it works, which will help the story to feel believable.

 

In terms of the video essay as a medium, I would consider this video essay pretty “traditional” in most senses (at least for a YouTube style video essay). Michael’s video is designed for a large target audience. There are two specific aspects that stood out to me. Michael’s YouTube channel, “Lessons from the Screenplay,” uses a similar style for all of his videos. Instead of looking just directly at the films themselves, these video essays examine the actual scripts of the movies, using on screen text to display different parts of the script while Michael discusses them. This video had its own unique elements too. Towards the end of the video, while discussing Wes Anderson’s style of alerting the viewer to the film, the video essay uses behind the scene shots from Moonrise Kingdom of people working the cameras. This gives viewers a look at exactly how Wes Anderson creates the unconventional shots that the video is discussing. I think that including behind the scenes footage was really effective for this video in particular because it directly reinforced the argument that Michael was making.

“How to do a plot twist” Video Commentary

 

[Week 9]

This video-essay of Jake Nugent (his Youtube channel is Now You See It) satisfied all my content, methodology and graphic expectations. From the very beginning of his video, Jack’s humor catches viewer’s curiosity and interest with an ending scene of one episode of Scooby-Doo the series – a famous animated “detective” TV series, where a group of kids (with an extremely bizarre dog) go travel, explore and find evidence for mysterious cases. At the first glance, I did not expect Scooby-Doo at all when I clicked on a video-essay which discusses plot twist in movies (I expected Primal Fear right away), so it is fair saying that he got my attention and interest. After his explanation, we can find out that Scooby-Doo is a relevant example for movies with logical but obvious, easy-to-guess plot twist, with those viewers will rarely feel satisfied in the end of the movie. He also hilariously explained why he decided to do this “spoiling” video-essay basing on a scientific article – which I believe, also helps him gain viewers’ attention and convince viewers who did not know the end of three movies (that he was going to spoil) to keep watching his video.

First of all, he criticizes the plot-twist in Now you see me of not following logical arguments, however satisfying. It is funny, but logical, that he used Scooby-Doo‘s logical-but-obvious plot-twists to compare with the one in Now you see me to state for his argument. The way he change scenes between two films make his comparison more relevant and trustworthy (the power of juxtaposition!). Second of all, he then used Prestige as the “norm” of plot-twist: the mid-way between Now you see me and Scooby-Doo: it has a shocking and entertaining, satisfying plot-twist, which also did not mess up the plot’s logic. Third of all, overall, he argues that plot twist needs to be “just enough to coming but not enough to expect it”, and he uses Primal Fear to prove his statement.

It appears that he used those four films as “examples” for his voice-over: the images’ mission is to explain his argument and to emphasize his statement. I believe that he did a great choice not using text-on-screen, which, with a big amount of information that he wants to deliver, would not be a smart strategy. Besides, the way he chose those four films is also interesting: both Now you see me and Prestige are films about magician – which makes his comparison clearer, more relevant and meaningful; Scooby-Doo is an well-known animation with “cheap” plot-twist (it’s a kid’s series, we cannot demand more than that) and Primal Fear is always a great example for films with the most shocking and satisfying plot-twists. Thumbs up!

Commentary on “How does an Editor Think And Feel?” By Tony Zhou

I was drawn to this essay  because of it’s title: the question made me think I was going to learn something and the subject matter interests me a great deal. I loved the way Tony went about this piece, because he took an informal approach to describe the ways of a formal discipline in the film industry: editing. He starts out how he always does: “Hi, my name is Tony,” and I can never get over this. The sentence primes the viewer for his impending video by explaining his informality, personality, and personableness in just the first few seconds.

The beginning of the piece feels like the videographic trailers we made for our finals in that he poses a question. He starts off by telling us an anecdote and that he needs to find out the answer to a question. He says someone asked him about his editing process the other day, as if he’s talking to us in a coffee shop, off-hand, casually, and that it made him think. He gets down to the nitty gritty stuff quickly: “How do you know when to cut?” He follows a format of posing a question and then getting through it using examples and industry professionals’ interview footage and goes through it a few times. It’s so simple that I can understand what he’s saying without having to watch the 9-minute clip over again. I really appreciate this and I bet I’m not alone. This in itself is a remarkable feat and the proof of a seasoned videographic essayist.

The use of voiceover here is definitely the right choice, since his arguments hinge upon the video’s visuals and leans on our attention spans. I love how he asks us to look at a cut right before he shows it, then shows it without voiceover, and asks us what we thought. This is a great technique to take note of. It feels like I’m in class but it’s a class I thoroughly enjoy. He asks us how we feel and how we think, and then shows examples of how real editors do their work and their processes, putting us in their shoes. It’s fun!

Although editing is classically supposed to be “invisible” to the viewer, I appreciate how he puts forth examples of movies where editing is meant to be jarring, as well as other examples that show how crucial good editors are for the emotional reaction of the audience and the overall success of a movie. I would recommend this video for everyone. Anyone could find something to learn within it.

“How Pixar uses Music to make you Cry” Video Commentary

[Week 8]

It appears, relevantly, that the topic of this video-essay can drag the attention of a big group of audience. Even if one do not know about video-essay and do not usually spend time to watch Youtube video, one can easily be attracted by this theme, since Pixar films are well-known emotionally touching. I “evaluate” this choice as smart but yet risky, since the author can easily get negative comments if he does not satisfy audience.

Familiar with video-essays and Pixar’s film, I think I might have harsh opinions, since the first time I saw this video was a year ago, and I was totally impressed. This time, I do not feel the same way. Overall, I think he did a pretty good job on the second half of the video, but not on the first half.

I agree that, in the beginning, he tried to make viewers doubt their assumptions about music in films, and he did it. It just appears that his “way” of doing it did not meet my expectations. He used a high, funny voice tone, with funny images to keep people up-beat and enjoy his video, since, I think, he fully acknowledge that some people might find his first part boring (which talks about music knowledge in general).  His methodology did keep me on track with his work until the very end. However, I did find his introduction too long and boring (maybe because I cannot understand some symbolic images that he used and I find his joke was not funny – which are totally subjective reasons). It was also discomfort following his voice-over and his text on screen at the same time: he did not do it in every frame, but once he did it, I could not concentrate on neither of them.

The second half, on the other hand, impressed me. I might also be a subjective comment, since I am in love with Pixar’s movies (but I did try my best to objectively criticize his video-essay). He chose two films to explain for his arguments: Monster Inc. and Up – which is a good strategy, especially Up – considered by many people as the saddest American animation that they have ever seen. In each film, he picked up the saddest scene and its music, then analyze the impact of the last one, also how it was used through the whole movie, how it connected with other scenes. He did a detailed analysis which deeply argued for his hypothesis. His text-on-screen, this time, surprisingly worked: even if they also appear with his voice-over, the texts themselves are short enough, and are on-screen long enough to not bother audience’s attention. He also used interviewed documentary of Up‘s makers as an example for his statement – which is, in my opinion, a strong argument.

In the end, he criticizes the lack of music in the saddest part of Big Hero 6 and try to state his argument by putting Nemo’s music on. Ideology, I do not agree with him, but I am impressed by his methodology, which, in social science, is called “method of agreement” (I believe it is, please tell me if you do not agree).  He also surprised viewers by not showing the whole scene to avoid audience’s boredom (but he did put in URL link for people who want to see the whole scene).

Overall, maybe Sideways did not do a really good graphic effects for his video-essay, but I believe that he did have a smart strategy with good argument methodologies.

 

 

BELLS IN CINEMA

This week’s video looked into the motif of bells in cinema and their relationship with religion, namely Christianity. The subject matter, therefore is not the films or what the films mean, but rather how the character of a bell maneuvers through different films. Bells as an object in movies and in culture – notify a community of people about an event that has happened. The bell does not connote a negative or positive meaning, but one of a need for attention. A Bell is usually situated on top or a tower, in high places in a town – with an omnipresence both visually and audibly. A bell can also not be rung alone; it relies on the action of a human to notify people – it is an echo of a voice unable to be heard – an extension of the way we communicate with others. Bells and the religious connection reflect where we see bells and how they can make a whole community move. Religion and the hold it has on different communities is powerful – it shapes the way people navigate the world and understanding this and how the Bell can be a physical representation of religion is something that can be looked into further –  with regards to power relations, and visibility.

This video essay utilizes text from both academic and biblical references. There is no voice-over in the video – but given the subject matter, there is no need. The bells in the different shots speak about how the bells are utilized perceived, viewed and understood. The text allows for the viewer to gain a larger context of the connection between all the clips presented. This video essay made me think about other possible objects to bring attention to and the ways they are seen in different cultures or religions and their additions to adding depth in different movies and shorts.

‘Lessons from the Films of 2013’ Video Commentary

This video essay by Kevin B. Lee examines how some of the best films of 2013 use cinematic technique to “teach” audiences how to view them. He zeroes in on two scenes in particular, one from Hannah Arendt and another from Springbreakers, both of which focus on scenes of lectures given in an educational setting. Cleverly, he notes that these scenes use the tricks of filmmaking to unconsciously instruct us how to view them; we, as an audience, are also being educated by the film. In the case of the first scene, protagonist Hannah Arendt makes an impassioned defense of her worldview in front of a crowded lecture hall, the thesis of which is that free thinking will be the salvation of mankind. While the sophisticated script wants us to think for ourselves, the filmmaking manipulates us—the camera shows us a sympathetic young woman in the audience who fiercely agrees with Arendt, as well as a skeptical, snooty-looking fellow who seems to doubt her. Of these two characters, the young woman is the one we want to root for, and she is definitely in Arendt’s camp. Lee observes that the script alone is compelling and convincing; we don’t need the film to manipulate us in this manner in order to agree with Arendt. This video very lucidly illustrates how the distinctive elements of film—like cuts and shot composition—can, if used in an unthinking fashion, contradict the performances or script of a movie, or even the ideology of the director.

 

As a video essay, this works very nicely for two reasons. First, it creates a good balance between the two films it analyzes. Both are given roughly equal time structurally, and both are discussed as relevant to Lee’s overall point as well as within their own contexts. At no point does this essay feel like a piece chiefly about either Hannah Arendt or Springbreakers which merely makes reference to the other film. The upshot of this balance is that it strengthens Lee’s overall argument, about how films teach your unconscious how to view them. The second reason this piece is effective is that it urges you to take his argument with a grain of salt. He warns that making video essays has put him in a position of seeing “too much” in film; that analysis of how a movie works can override his enjoyment of it. It’s a plea for a diversity of viewpoints and an urging not to blindly accept what he gives you. In addition to being an interesting argument about the video essay as a critical form, this approach also creates a modest, reasonable tone that makes the video pleasant to watch.

Sounds of Ethnographic Experience

The video Sounds of Ethnographic Experience by Sandra Teixeira focuses on the juxtaposition between animals, machines, and humans. A sonic contrast between animals and that of machines and humans underscores this ethnographic experience that the video explains using the appropriate images of each group. Though the video evinces of this unsettling contrast, the video argues that each of the ethnographic of the two films presented further exemplify an ontological equality. The images and sound of both films suggest this equality. Teixeira structures the video by presenting her argument in the beginning. Here she uses onscreen text. Following this, she shows various images that juxtapose with each other. The presentation of these two videographic elements demonstrates a sense of control of what the video wants the viewer to see.

Furthermore, in showing her argument in the beginning of the video, Teixeira wants the viewer to keep this in mind before viewing the following shots. Here, the video proposes the argument that machines, humans, and animals thrive in the ensuing environments shown in the following shots. Her argument suggests that the clashing of the visual and sonic components of the video create this sort of ontological equality. This, though, becomes more and more confusing to understand through the visual juxtapositions.

For instance, the first shot of the video consists of a snow-covered environment. This desolate place does not show any sort of human interaction. The following shot shows someone or something underwater. Immediately, a high angle shot returns to observing the previous environment. This modulation of environments becomes even more jarring. It is then here what the video dares to exemplify this chaotic environment driven by machine and human. Of course, this underwater chaos only becomes apparent once it is juxtaposed with the peaceful environment.

The following two shots show another kind of contrast. In the first shot, a group of sheep stands still on the snow. Immediately following this shot, a high angle shot shows a man cutting their fur off. This juxtaposition then showcases the first human interaction between humans and animals. Between these two shots, another modulation occurs. The video then creates some sort of pattern: it establishes a perceived tranquility in one shot; in another, it shows some sort of ensuing chaos. When these two kinds of shots are paired, a juxtaposition occurs, further suggesting that through this type of jarring visual modulation and the peaceful sounds that connect to one of the shots, one can understand this ontological equality.

Moreover, it is still not satisfying enough to explain this ontological equality by simply showcasing examples. It would have been easier to follow the video up to now if the video gave some sort of definition of this phrase. This phrase becomes a bit more clear in the following two shots. In the first shot, a group of fisherman use a machete to cut up the fish they catch. Following this shot, the previous high angle shows the sheep being groomed. It is here, then, where this visual modulation stands out in showing such jarring juxtapositions.

The following shots break this pattern described above. The first shot shows a man sleeping next to a tree. The next shot shows a man sitting inside a boat. The latter shot shows the man’s environment, the various food on the table. Here, the video showcases a new type of juxtaposition between human and human; however, each of the man’s environment differs. One suggests a much more calm and peaceful element of nature. The other represents a much more dark and chaotic atmosphere of the boat. It is also difficult to say with certainty that both men differ. In fact, they both sit in some sort of sedentary way.

Moreover, it is in this sedentary way that the video further showcases this ethnographic experience. Here, the two men are shown living within their own space. Their environment then juxtaposes their own idleness. The video then suggests that some sort of equality exists between human and nature, and human and human-made environment. It is interesting that the video showcases these kinds of shots, for it further creates a sense of oddity in a video full of jarring juxtapositions. Their sedentary position could act as a modulation. The previous shot shows the man sleeping; the following shot shows a different man awake. Perhaps, this is the juxtaposition that the video wants to present. Regardless, the video presents such shots to give a range of examples of this ethnographic experience.

“Eyes Wide Shut: The Game” Video Commentary

“Eyes Wide Shut: The Game” by Nerdwriter examines the works of Stanley Kubrick through his final film “Eyes Wide Shut” starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. The author concentrates on the experiential qualities of Kubrick’s films for his audience that are attributed to his cinema-graphic stylization of his characters. While Nerdwriter’s discussion is very fascinating, his own style of videographic criticism complements his points quite nicely. Part of his argumentation includeshis belief that Kubrick’s films are much like virtual reality universes; while they are often set in locations similar to what an audience has experience, the interactions, details, and motion of time are unrealistic, thus making it feel like a video game. In using highly detailed and unique title captions, that appear to be the start screens of old fashioned super nintendo games pasted on top of eerie scenes from “Eyes Wide Shut” and “A Clockwork Orange”, he is able to express his point visually in a way that promotes acceptance of his view by those who are watching his video. Another interesting use of videographic style to complement his argument is the use of multi screen. At one point he indicates how the acting in “Eyes Wide Shut” can seem very real, as the actors appear tired and stressed out, because they actually are. Apparently Kubrick took hundreds of takes for short 4 second shots, thus leaving the actors overworked . He uses a multi-screen split into about 40 different screens with the same shot in this moment to emphasize this point.

The Silence of the Lambs – Who Wins the Scene? by Tony Zhou

In this Every Frame a Painting, Tony Zhou does a very close evaluation of a scene from Silence of the Lamps to address the question “Who Wins the Scene?” The question in itself is an interesting one to throw out while watching a film. What are each character’s goals? How do they challenge one another? And who wins? It sets up a structure of evaluation by putting the attention on the relationship between characters as a source of understanding rather than looking to individual characteristics and features as the main source of information.

In this video Tony Zhou walks us through this question. By looking at the camera’s framing and actor’s positioning, we can evaluate the relationships within the scene as they challenge one another. Zhou breaks apart this particular scene cut by cut, using outside music and voiceover to guide the viewer. The non-diegetic music removes us from the original scene and allows for Zhou to have an effective voiceover that doesn’t get mixed up with the dialogue from the movie. He is able to guide our eye by explaining how the camera angle and the actor’s body language tells us “who’s winning.” I found this video to be wonderfully informative in that it calls attention to a way of seeing that a viewer can use. It is as if Zhou is giving us a new vernacular, or a lens, that we can use to read the relationship between Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster’s characters throughout the entire film.

Once again, this videographic criticism has inspired awe in my by the level of detail that goes into cinematography and filmmaking. By taking a short but important scene apart frame by frame and imposing a singular question upon it, Zhou has presented us with a new way of seeing.

 

 

Alfred Hitchcock // Point of View

I’ve watched this video three or four times and I find it absolutely memorizing. I must admit, when we first started watching and crafting video essays, I was skeptical of the split screen as a tactic. It just felt odd to minimize and alter masterpieces and divide our attention. As I said in my last post, they often make my head hurt and I don’t think they’re always the most effective way to get a point across.

However, the more I watch the more I realize I was wrong, and this essay was absolutely the turning point. This essay uses 24 films to examine Hitchcock’s use of eye line matching and point of view shots. It’s one of those shots that’s so common in film we don’t really think about it, however, this video essay illustrates how there is in an art to crafting these types of shots. I think this goes back to video essays being a laboratory, where we are able to take apart films and see what makes them work. Here, we’re able to see Hitchcock, the master craftsman, at work.

This piece of criticism compliments the video essay I watched a few weeks ago , “Eyes of Hitchcock,” in which kogonada brilliant illustrates how essential the human eye is in Hitchcock’s films. In “Alfred Hitchcock//Point of View,” we see many of the same shots kogonada uses, however we get to actually see what the characters are looking at, and shows us how the image of the eyes are only half of their affect. The beautifully framed eyes in Hitchcock’s film lose their affect if we do not have an equally compelling image to match them with.

It seems obvious, but these shots also provide a kind of one, two punch. The best example I found in this essay was the side by side shots of Mrs. Danvers at the end of Rebecca. We see her surrounded by the flames that are rapidly engulfing Manderley. She is running around Rebecca’s room, clearly disoriented by the smoke. We then cut to a point of view shot of the flaming ceiling falling down on her. This allows us to feel her death, and has a tremendous affect. And this is clearly illustrated in this wonderful video essay.

Dialogue in Movies/Written Text in Video Essays

This week I watched a video essay looking at Aaron Sorkin and The Social Network. The video essay focuses on dialogue and the ways in which Sorkin focuses on carefully crafting dialogue that is clever, confusing, and ultimately delivers important information. As an aspiring filmmaker, dialogue can be especially challenging. Watching movies with lots of well written dialogue is impressive and interesting to watch. On the opposite end of the spectrum though, scenes with mediocre dialogue are boring. Finding this balance is especially difficult because a movie balances visual and audial story telling. What I learned from this video essay, is that while crafting dialogue it can be interesting to include written vocal pauses and stutters, or to have characters be talking about different things (not be on the same page). Events like this happen in real life but can be overlooked when writing screenplays. This video essay also focuses on why The Social Network was successful, discussing the fact that Sorkin’s dialogue was combined well with David Fincher’s visual style of story telling. Essentially The video essay points out that while Sorkin is a master at writing “crafty” dialogue, being challenged by another great filmmaker to make changes to the script helped shape The Social Network into the critically acclaimed film that it ended up being.

I have watched a lot of video essays from Michael, creator of Lessons from the Screenplay, and now feel that I have started to develop a deeper familiarity with his style. One thing that is interesting about most of Michael’s work is that like his YouTube channel title suggests, Michael focuses heavily on the screenplays of films as opposed to just the film itself. Michael still shows plenty of clips from the movie to reflect his comments, but he does so while looking at the story through the lens of a script, not necessarily just a film. This is an interesting approach to a video essay because it means that often Michael doesn’t pay particularly close attention to visuals or shot composition. He might still comment on the framing, cutting, lighting, etc. but most of his time is spent analyzing the story/script. Because of this, these video essays contain lots of text on screen. In this video essay about The Social Network the text often displays the script while the characters are saying the dialogue. This is an interesting technique because half of the screen is dedicated to showing the printed version of the dialogue that the viewer is already hearing. I think this technique is effective though because it drew my attention away from the visuals and other audio elements, and helped to isolate the dialogue and script as the elements that were being analyzed.

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