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The Importance of Editing

My first thought when reading this article:

Editing sounds really, really hard.

I always thought when I was little that if I didn’t get to be a famous movie star, maybe I could be the person filming so that I could still meet famous people. I change my mind. There is much more involved in getting a good shot than I thought.

Each scene, whether it is 3 seconds or 2 minutes, is carefully thought out, drawn, and planned. I would never guess how much work goes into the shot before the camera is even turned on. The direction of the shot, the continuity between scenes, and the seamless editing all come together to make a scene that seems natural to the viewer. It’s kind of unfair, really, that the editors work so hard with a goal of their work not being noticed (nobody wants to be aware that they are watching an edited scene).

This article seemed to put jump cuts in a negative connotation. Not that I know too much about filming, but I’ve always liked montage scenes. Here is one of my favorite, the shopping scene from Pretty Woman (towards the end it’s no longer a montage but it’s still a funny scene so you should watch it to the end).

But there is also an issue pointed out in this article whose technical name I had never heard- technical continuity. Whenever those nit-picky viewers pine over a film to find a small little prop mistake, they are really looking for technical continuity, when the physical objects don’t line up between cuts. Going with my own continuity, here is an example of a mistake in technical continuity in Pretty Woman. Pay attention to the newspaper.

Knowing how, when, where, and which way to cut are all things that, at least to me, are impossible for one person to keep track of. I guess that’s why film production involves so many people. But still, an editor has a lot of stuff to worry about.

 

 

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Aesthetics of Film

This article is about the different meanings of the phrase “point of view,” and how each definition applies to film and video production.

The three applications of this phrase are as follows:

1.) The angle taken by the actual camera. In filming, point of view (or POV) means a shot that is seen literally from the audiences point of view. If you are watching the film, it looks like the scene is being seen through your eyes.

Here is an example of a POV video.

2.) When it comes to the phrase point of view, this is the definition that I am most familiar with. Probably because I spent 12 years in the public school system while this was pounded into my head. The second definition refers to what is known in literature as “person”, i.e. first-person, second-person, third-person. Depending on which voice is used, the point of view of the story changes.

I really hope you already knew all of this. Otherwise, all of your English teachers, ever, have failed you.

3.) The final definition is the more vague concept of world-view. This is what people mean when they try to debate politics with each other and reference other peoples’ “point-of-view.” They do not mean that they are physically seeing the world through the eyes of that person, or that they are speaking as if they were that person- instead, they are referring to someone’s opinions, beliefs, and attitudes that stem from their place in the world.

http://pigsinmaputo.blogspot.com/2012_04_01_archive.html

The link above is to a blog written by a resident of Mozambique. He uses his point of view to write comics about his life there. The whole pig thing… Well I haven’t gotten to the point where I really get that yet.

These three definitions do not always apply to all aspects of a film. Each genre uses point of view separately. For example, there are films that use  POV shot every now and then to make the viewer see things from the characters eyes. The suspension of disbelief can only be held onto for so long in this situation, which is why movie makers generally avoid long POV shots. Leaving a viewer looking from the eyes of someone else for too long is jarring and uncomfortable.

This is an example of a short POV shot in a film.

The “person” from which a story is told is also more difficult to convey in film. Because of the discomfort of POV shots lasting too long, filmmakers will instead have a first person narration to portray the perspective of the main character. Third person perspective is displayed on the camera, but the thoughts of the character make it a first person scene.

Second person, addressing the viewer directly, is rarely used in film and is instead used to educate or inform a viewer directly, like in how-to videos, educational film, or advertisements.

Check out this clip of Richard Simmons, everybody’s favorite work-out instructor, to see what I mean.

I’m not sure it’s possible to make a film or video production in which somebody’s point of view (as in world view) is chosen over another. In America, we have a lot of American perspective in film. This particular definition, at least in film, is hard to separate from persuasion. The only example to the contrary that stands out to me is a documentary, where the filmmaker is trying their best to make us see the world from another persective, or another person’s point of view.

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Experiencing Design

 

The first thing that came to me when I thought of combining experience and design was the idea of a museum. That’s what a museum is all about. They are designed in a way to maximize your experience. A museum’s primary goal is not to stun, to enrage, or to force viewers into some existential crisis; a museum aims to educate in an aesthetically pleasing way. Thus, just as much emphasis is placed on the design as the experience.

An experience has three parts: attraction, engagement, and conclusion. We can be attracted to an experience by any of our senses, but in order for this experience to engage us it must stand out from the rest of our cognitive input. The conclusion of an experience is what gives us the result of satisfaction. For me, it’s when a movie ends well, or I finish my workout without dying, or I feel full after eating. When we don’t reach a satisfactory ending, we are disoriented and unhappy (think of when you go to the DH and there is absolutely nothing there you want to eat or SPOILER ALERT: what happened to Dumbledore at the end of book 6).

It doesn’t really look this good…

 

An extension of an experience means that there are multiple engagements of attention and multiple satisfactory conclusions, all strung together to create a larger meaning than any one conclusion could have given. The best example I can think of for this would be a TV series, or movies with sequels, or book trilogies. It is satisfying to read each book, but together they create an overarching meaning that we wouldn’t have gotten from just one.

As far as the argument of structure having meaning, I have one main thing to say; how did this author make it through school if he’s just realizing this? This could just be me, but I think I learned back in the fifth grade that some teachers like their papers double spaced, some like even margins, some got mad if you didn’t put your name in the right corner… what’s the difference, really? Structure of information can change the perception of the information as a whole for the reader. So to my sixth grade teacher who failed my paper because I tried to make my handwriting as small as possible (I’m talking to you, Mr. Hancock)- it’s called “information design”.

How does real data actually promote a barrier to modern communication? How can it be argued that our advancement in technologies not not necessarily mean an advancement in communication?

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Framing A Viewer’s Attention

This article addresses the main focuses behind. the framing of an image; in this case there are six. They include the direction of the frame, the magnetism, the asymmetry, the figure-ground relationship, psychological closure, and vectors.

Direction of The Frame:

Much of our what we consume is presented in a horizontal fashion. It is no coincidence that our computer screens, monitors and other technology tend to be oriented horizontally (with the notable exception of the iPhone, which I have no explanation for except practicality). Since ancient times, vertical direction, such as the upward thrust of Gothic architecture, creates a sense of power and imposition, while horizontal lines are manageable and even calming to us.

To exemplify this I found some photos of Maccu Picchu, an ancient city in Peru.

In this image there aren’t really any horizontal planes. The walls of the city are vertically aligned, the landscape is uneven, and the mountain throws off any horizontal balance that might result from the overall leveling of this city. As a result, this photo is jarring and not received well by the viewer.

Horizontal Image

Credit for this image (since it’s too large of a file to link to) goes to National Geographic.

In this photo, there are multiple horizontal planes that make the image aesthetically pleasing for us to view. The clouds in the upper level create a horizontal line, contrasted by the generally horizontal direction of the mountain backdrop. The green of the hill in the foreground, while not a perfectly horizontal line, is much closer than the hill in the previous image. The overall effect of this photo is an organized horizontal direction, which makes it a much more manageable and consumable photo.

*Discussion question: While we may not see many diagonal frames in the natural world, how do they fall into our perception of images? Are they pleasing? Disconcerting? The photo below is another one from Maccu Picchu, this one with a diagonal orientation.

Magnetism:

The pull of an image is controlled by how it is framed. The closer to the edge an object is, the more we see it as being pulled in the direction of the edge.

In this image, the magnetism of the frame pulls this man towards the outer edge. But he appears to be resisting, to push against that magnetism, which fits the theme of the photo. In this case, the magnetism of the photo helps to emphasize its meaning.

In this photo, the face’s proximity to the edges of the photo draws the man’s face towards those edges. This gives his face a rounder appearance and is generally something to avoid in a portrait photograph, though I think in this photo the effect was intentional.

Asymmetry:

In general, more attention is paid to the right side of the image. The more important, more salient focus of the image will be found on the right, whether it is intended that way or not.

In this advertisement, we are supposed to focus our attention on the right side, the product of the ad. The ad is effective, since that’s where our attention is directed.

This ad seems less effective. I can’t say for sure if that’s a result of the unusual left/right composition, but I find this ad didn’t speak to me as well. The emphasis in this photo isn’t very clear, except that on the right is a girl making a sort of angry face.

Figure/Ground Relationship:

An image is divided into both the figure, the object closer and more salient to the viewer, and the ground, which serves as the contrast for the figure. Almost every photo has this relationship; there must be a backdrop from which to perceive the object we are focusing on.

In this image, the figure is the girl, while the ground is literally the ground.

Psychological Closure:

In our human way of organizing perception from chaos, we have a tendency to “fill in the gaps” in images. The formation of this image, a new figure where the gaps have been closed, is called a gestalt.

It is an almost unbreakable human habit to see a circle in this image. We cannot process the random placement of dots, it must become a whole image, a gestalt.

Vectors:

Vectors incorporate movement in a photo. Whether implied or visual, there is a line in a photo (or multiple lines) where we see something happening.  A person simply looking out of the frame implies a relationship between that person and the object they are viewing, and this creates a vector relationship.

Vectors can even be emotions left within us from a photo. If we are moved, whether by the physical space of the photo or the emotional lift or depression, then we have been subjected to the force of a vector.

Graphic vectors are lines within a photo that categorize our perception.

In this image, the vectors are the horizontal planes that divide the image.

Index vectors are lines in a frame that point. They draw the eye along in a certain direction with an end goal.

In this photo, our vision is drawn along the stairs, and upwards to the vector’s end.

Motion vectors are included in moving images, like film, when an object or person moves in the direction your vision and attention should follow.

Vectors are arguable the most important aspect of framing a photo, because they are the primary tool for controlling the direction of the viewer’s attention.

*Discussion Question: How is a diagonal vector different from the actual diagonal alignment of the photo? Is it different at all?

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Adding Audio to Images

Here is my slideshow with commentary added.

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Multimodal Polyphony- A Higher Form of Manipulation?

While I was reading this, it struck me as a little odd how Fagerjord treated the combination of modes as a fairly new idea. He attributed its widespread use to modern technology, i.e. computer screens. Is this really the case? Can it not be argued that combining sound with images and languages is an age old technique? What about the days when bards would play music while a narrator would read a story aloud. That example is not exactly the same, but I think it’s safe to say that this is not an entirely new idea.

Obviously the modes have advanced over time. Fagerjord observes that using still images with effects like “panning” and “cutting” add even more meaning to an image- the way they move, the points they focus on, and the shifting of the frame all define the emphasis of the photo, and thus its meaning. While video may present more image in the same amount of time, still image transition actually gives deeper meaning to individual images.

Methods for “moving” a still image include examining (where you are directed to take in the entire photo), revealing, when, while the image moves, you discover a new element of the photo, pointing/zooming, when your attention is directed to focus on a single element of a photo and finally contextualizing  the opposite of zooming, is basically starting with a narrow view and zooming out for the reader to recognize the context of the image. I had never in my life considered the consumption of still photos to be something I could control. In my mind I’ve always thought that a still image was meant to be taken as a whole, the way it is presented.

Now that I consider, in retrospect, the flash documentaries I have seen, I can picture how my attention was directed a certain way. It’s definitely a sort of manipulation. But how is that manipulation any different from shot video? Or from the framing of an image in the first place? In my opinion, multimodal media is just a more specific, higher form of manipulating the consumption of the reader. Each mode is designed to focus the attention of the reader in a certain way. Combined, the modes may give more or less meaning to certain aspects, but the end goal is still the same- arrange the forms in such a way that the reader takes away what you want them to.

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The Zen of Listening

What I took away from this article, for the most part, is that music evokes nostalgia. Sometimes, it even brings up nostalgia within nostalgia. Music does not always remind us of a certain time, it may remind us of the music itself. It may not remind us of only what we listened to but also how we listened to it.

Beyond the memory-invoking  qualities of music, it actually presents a number of ideals. For example, the author says that Nationalism was basically born out of the communal act of first, reading the newspaper, then, listening to the radio. Knowing that there were other people out there listening to the same thing that you were was a form of bonding.

He also argues that the sense of hearing is responsible for the imagination. Hearing things, without seeing them, allows us to create a picture in our minds. I liked the example of how we are disappointed when we’ve imagined book characters a certain way, and they show up on screen nothing like how we saw them in their mind.

Another example that I liked was when the author clarified the difference between hearing and listening. The examples he used struck me because he was dead on- he said that I was probably ignoring the hum of a computer and the buzz of a fridge, and when I started actively listening I realized he was right, I hadn’t even noticed these sounds.

I wonder, maybe that’s where the expression tuning something out from? Like, changing the radio? Isn’t it funny that it now refers to hearing versus listening, which is also a topic of consideration in the radio?