FMMC0334 - Fall 2017, MW 8:40-9:55am

Author: Jesusdaniel Barba

Avatar: the Last Airbender – The Delicacy of Character

This video looks at an animated series that I am very fond of and remember watching growing up. This video essay analyzes the way the show created well-constructed characters and the attention to detail the writers had in the development, personalization, and motivation each character in this show contains. I enjoyed the analysis of a singular character – it allowed for a much deeper examination of the way the character is perfected in this animated show. Through a deeper reading of the first line spoken by the character analyzed, Sokka, and how it relates to his personality and throughout the continuation of the show, his evolution, we see the attention to fine detail in writing a character. I continue to be impressed with this show and found it great that people have taken the time and effort in making video essays to showcase their appreciation. I also think about writing about animation and some stereotypes of the inability for children’s show or animation in general of being able to have deep and thoughtful storytelling.

The videographic form of this essay is done in a very well edited format. The maker of this video is a student themselves and having this similarity made me think about my own style of making video essays – and how I think I will go about making them in the future. The creator of this video – utilizes voice over and text on the screen – two editing tools that allowed for the video to feel comfortably explanatory. The tone of the video itself feels personal and exudes an air of excitement towards the show as well – making the video more enjoyable to watch and makes me think about my enjoyment of the show as well.  Although possibly reading through a script, the text and video could not be separated as the video clips chosen showed clearly the ways development occurred and as we see montages of this character through multiple episodes it allows us to remember the ways this character truly remembered. Overall, the way the video was created was well done and done in a manner no one could dislike and thus a great job.

How To Be Funny

This video examines humor and investigates how humor is communicated and its effects on how people understand different types of humor found in film, TV and beyond. The “thesis” of this video is that all jokes have a victim. This victim is not necessarily someone else, the self can be a victim as well (as seen in self-deprecating humor). The video goes on a more in-depth analysis of self-deprecating humor and the different people who use themselves as the ‘victim” to get laughs. The author of this video uses examples of late night hosts – and the comparison is done well. Having very basic knowledge of who was compared it was interesting to see an analysis of the humor at play and understand a bit more as to why these people are so popular. The ability to offend no one but yourself is a way to make yourself more likable, approachable and even confident. Although I may not agree 100% with everything the maker of the video says – he does bring up some interesting points about humor, although comedic timing, tone, and even culture all have impacts on the way people perceive and go about being funny.

The video itself uses a fairly simple format for video essays. Utilizing found footage from movies, TV shows, and self-recorded footage all edited and molded to create a solid flow. The maker of this video also gives some reflection time in the video and forces the viewer to interact with and pay attention to the content presented. This also allows for the viewer to be active and thoughtful when hearing the argument presented and thus allows for the conversation about what humor is to flourish in the comment section. This video then – seems curated to be for a social platform like Youtube through its intentional use of certain videographic elements.

 

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.

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.

The Museum of Lars Von Trier – Art References

 

 

This video essay looked into the film of Lars Von Trier and his possible inspirations for multiple different shots throughout his videography. Here we can see how our inspirations in paint and other artistic mediums becomes translated into the film medium. There were some painting inspirations that are abstract and to see those translated into film was quite interesting and reminded me to not limit myself in what I as an art maker can show. The paintings that inspire Lars, follow his leaning towards the prolific and controversial. This includes sex, masturbation or darker imagery like self-harm or death. – With recent reports from Bjork regarding sexual assault, I wonder how we can think about the art Lars likes in conjunction with abhorrent behavior.

  This video essay in use of form utilizes multiscreen to show the painting and the scene in a movie that parallels each other. The images are left on the screen for a short amount of time before moving on to the next. With such a large collection of comparisons, this video is not very short and thus allows for the video maker to avoid the use of voice-over or text by simply showing us these comparisons. Show don’t tell if you will. The use of classical music fits the tone of the video given that a large amount of the inspirations would fall in classical or old renaissance like paintings and as such classical music further pushes the tone forward and immerses us into a classically contemporary vision of the art.

 

 

La Haine- So Far, So Good…

This video graphic essay talks about the French film – La Haine. A film that takes place in France and looks at the lives of different minorities, Jewish, Black, and Arab. The film goes to look at the way our actions or non-actions have effects and our complacency to react to certain stimuli may end in either positive or negative outcome. The video talks about the unique experience and novel narrative structure this movie contains. One of the unique functions present in this movie is the manner in which the director took on a new way of passing time – the inclusion of a clock with a familiar sounding tick of a bomb made for a compelling addition to the film and served as an important motif to understanding the plot and conclusion of the film. The way in which the plot is put on its head with the distancing from the cause-effect plot lone to an effect-cause plotline.

A 14 min discussion of this movie is done longer than any other videographic film essays I have seen before. Voiceover dominates the essay and it is purely explanatory – focusing on the structure of the film. I wonder if longer video essays are inherently explanatory or if there are any experimental or poetic videos that span 10+min.  The video essay uses infographic and texts, however, this is only utilized once in the video. I feel the use of each respective element worked well and no other text/infographic was necessary. This video essay does a very good job of critically thinking about the film and the ways in which the director’s choices created a film with multiple stylistic layers. This videoessay – uses footage from other movies and makes comparisons to strengthen his arguments and to showcase the ways in which this film sets itself apart from others, while still using recognizable shots and styles. The video speaks about the plot, but the essay itself is not a reiteration of the plot, instead, it functions as an explanation of how the elements of the film affect the plot and the ways in which the overall narrative structure of this piece is unique and create a novel experience for the film viewer. This video essay – as a whole, was very in depth and made me interested in the film that then challenges me to see what they saw.

Single Take Horror Film Mutations

This videographic film essay touches on the ways in which films are translated and “mutilated “across nations. In Catherine’s examples, we look at the Uruguayan film – La Casa Muda and its adaptation to U.S cinema, Silent House. The video essay utilizes multiscreen and shows the introduction to each of the respective films. Analysis of the films mise en scene, use of camera angles and methods of storytelling work well because of the ways the viewer can visualize and notice the differences in the manners the directors went to storytelling and the multitudes of direction possible in filmmaking. The text is limited to small phrases and an avoidance of sentence is omnipresent – perhaps to illuminate the low budget film and also emphasize the movies on display as saying more than what a sentence may. La Casa Muda is a unique film in its approach to filmmaking, utilizing a method not many have used before- the single take film. La Casa Muda is also a film that was made on a low budget (6k USD).  Silent House is a much more obvious U.S movie that utilizes the normal progression of film found in most movies in Hollywood and has a much larger budget (2million USD). The sound of the video comes directly from the movies and creates an ominous mood – that can highlight the director’s horror film perspectives and ways in which adaptation of movies creates a new market that piggybanks on the creativity of others for profit. That perhaps is one of the scariest things in the video. In a blog post by Catherine Grant, the author of the video, she touches on this topic – “How did this high-concept film (tagline: “Miedo real en Tiempo real”/“Real fear in real time”) come to be such a desirable property that a licensed U.S. remake was released within a year? And what are the consequences of such a rapid turnover?”

Why ALIENS is the Mother of All Action Movies

ALIENS and the way in which this film created a new era for female leads – especially in a male-dominated genre (ACTION) is the thesis of this video essay. To create a female lead that would rival the hyper-macho heroes like Stallone and Schwarzenegger required that this lead be independent, resourceful and to focus on an aspect a hyper-macho man would not be able to- Motherhood. The movie begins with Ripley having a life that is in dismay. From a career that is on the brink, to the loss of her daughter; the film allows for a redemption to be made and Ripley will do whatever it takes to make sure this happens. Ripley is also different than other females in the movie – through contrasting femininity. The final battle is one between two mothers – looking to protect their young and doing whatever it takes. All this said, Ripley is a three-dimensional figure with emotions, drive, and independence. These traits have had an impact on other movies with strong female leads today.

 

This video essay contained no voiceover and instead utilized text sprinkled throughout the essay. The text in the video essay is not extremely academic, yet, even so, it brings about an argument with supporting evidence as to how the protagonist in ALIENS is in the upper echelon of action movies. Split screen is included to showcase juxtapositions between this film and others in similar situations and then goes on to elaborate how ALIENS is different. Split screen is mostly utilized in this video essay to rebut the ways ALIENS does a good job of creating a powerful well-rounded female protagonist in a hyper male-dominated film format. The dynamic of having the text on one side with video supporting the text makes the flow of this piece work well and showcases the ways in which video essay successfully may utilize the medium of film.

kogonada :: Way of Ozu

Kogonada’s video essay showcases the similarities of the multiple films Yasujiro Ozu made in his lifetime. Ozu created a genre of his own – a way of filmmaking that was cultivated and nourished throughout Ozu’s career as a filmmaker. Focusing on the subject of home, family, and the everyday life. Throughout the video essay, three films are playing simultaneously showcasing similar scenes from different movies. This includes scenes about cooking in a kitchen, crying women, and eating dinner. What this does is allow the viewer to see the deep connection Ozu had with showing the normally mundane and boring to most – in a new light. Ozu’s films are predominantly in black and white and thus were made in an era before color film. This era is when Hollywood was what everyone made, however, Ozu’s creations are antipodal to what was popular. Ozu’s showing of the normal life, makes the viewer think about their own lives and routines. What we go through most of our lives are moments that seem dull and highlighting these in film can bring up instances of nostalgia. I learned that Ozu, like many artists, in general, have a niche. This niche is not the only form the artists’ works in – but it is what they are best at.

A poetic form of videoessay, Kogonada is able to navigate the viewer through a structured lesson utilizing no form of voice-over or text on screen. The use of three simultaneous screens can come off as a lot of video for one to see, however, using Ozu’s films, this allows for the viewer to directly see and then break down the meaning for the similarities and what the subject matter Ozu films is about. The sound of the piece is done in a way where you don’t quite know which film the sounds are coming from – a further inclination of the way Ozu as a filmmaker has crafted and mastered a unique way of filmmaking. I learned that I lean more to this side of video essay making – and to begin to understand how these are made can only begin through watching and then creating my own.

Consent in Cinema

 

This week’s video essay was chosen quite intentionally, especially after watching the required video by Ian Garwood. Women in the film industry are in the minority, especially in positions of higher esteem like directors or directors of photography (Cinematographers). To no surprise, women representation in video essays is also meager. The video essay for this week, Consent in Cinema touches on the topic consent and the lack thereof this permission, especially by male directors. In this video essay, I will say I expected ways in which consent in movies was handled – by the fictional characters. What I found, however, was an even more intriguing video that highlighted multiple people who have failed to ask for consent and believed this was justifiable through their positions as directors or as cis heterosexual actors. One example of this is in the filming of an action that showed nudity without telling the actor what was being recorded. This is not for artistry or the spur of the moment – one does not get to dictate or further their creative work at the cost of others wellbeing and consent. This perverse notion stems from a long holding history of patriarchy and lack of repercussions to men who perpetrate these ideas. I could go on about the ways in which toxic masculinity has affected creativity, the film industry and a lack of women in multiple fields of work, but I’ll leave that for a later time.

This video essay is also unique in the sense that it is a direct response to some news in the media world and is fully narrated. Images and video back up the narration and as specified in the video description this was done hatefully. This, however, does not take away from the point of this video. A powerful message especially in making something about this topic public – as in Ian’s video – due to the omnipresent nature of the internet anyone can and will react. Thus it takes guts to put this up in a hyper-male space. The use of narration in this piece is very personal and thus the framing of the language allows for the message to touch on people’s values and emotions. Given the topic of this video, the language and tone are more powerful than a lecture would be – especially to people who may disagree. (reading some George Lakoff and Cognitive science things about framing and connections to words). Overall, what I learned from this video essay, is that narration and personal dialogue can enhance a video in different contexts and to consider multiple ways of sharing a video essay – not only to talk about the mise en scene of a movie (for example) but to touch on very real and palpable issues in the film world that go less announced.

Everything is a Remix: The Force Awakens Video Commentary

“Everything is a Remix: The Force Awakens” is a video essay by Kirby Ferguson that looks into remix culture, popular culture, directorial voice, audience interaction, and how these played a role in shaping the 7th movie of one of the largest movie franchises in the world. Remix culture:  copying, transforming and combining have been utilized throughout film history, and is not unique in only film – it inhabits many creative fields. JJ Abrams, the director of the seventh film in the series, has utilized remixing throughout his creative career in films and series such as Super 8 (2011) and Lost (2010). JJ has most notably remixed major story elements present in different films and updated and refreshed small aspects of them. One can go on to discuss JJ’s creative abilities and how much remixing is too much, but in this video essay – we understand that the audience is attracted to familiarity. Hollywood has taken note that people love the familiar. The familiar is easily digestible, pokes at a collective nostalgia popular culture has embraced and showcases these old stories in a new exciting light. The familiar and novel were brought up during this video essay and the spectrum of which films lie on. Hollywood blockbusters are heavy on the familiar, while more critically acclaimed films that may not be monetary successes are usually novel in the film approach. A balanced film lies in the middle of this spectrum; this thus requires filmmakers to remix from diverse far off films and inspirations, and include some familiar tropes to capture attention. Regardless there is no set formula in which one is supposed to create a film and the impact the film industry has is important to note in a highly commercialized creative industry.

The videographic elements that were novel to me in this video, included an understanding of graphic design present throughout the video. Graphic design plays a role in the way the video essay is perceived. Through academic constraints on fonts have left choices limited. In video essays, however, the ability to use different fonts allows for a much more curated and individual result video essays present. The video also uses an intersectional aspect of discussion in its showcasing of an understanding of remix culture, popular culture, film industry knowledge, and the directors own unique directorial voice. This synthesis of ideas blended well for a highly informative and interesting video that taught a lot about bigger picture ideas rather than film specifics of mise en scene.

 

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