Archive for the ‘Chapter 2’ Category

Why_8216Ex_Machina8217_Visual_Effects-f994b1c7599c0e19a8ce686a5f0dcce5Here’s a follow-up to a recent post, Uncanny Expectations.  This piece from Vulture by Logan Hill has a slide show and video which illustrate the illusive depths of digital manipulation to the human form that create warped realities and new expectations for the human face, figure, and all else.     

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lumiereThat’s not really what they say in French to begin a take, but it will work on this occasion.  In fact, the “cinématographe” was the groundbreaking device invented by Louis Lumière, working with his brother Auguste, over 120 years ago.  To mark this 120th anniversary of the birth of projected movies and the inventions, innovations, and visions of the Lumière brothers, the Institut Lumière based in Lyon, France has partnered with the Grand Palais in Paris to create an exhibition “dedicated to the flagship inventions of the Lyon-based pioneers of cinema, Louis and Auguste Lumière.”

Grand Palais LumiereRachel Donadio, writing in the New York Times, states “Back before Instagram and selfies, before home movies and Kodachrome — and long before the obsessive documentation and online sharing of every moment of our waking lives — there were two brothers from Lyon whose innovations opened the door to the future.”  It is appropriate that this exhibit is in Paris, where the brothers held the first paid public screening of their movies on December 28, 1895 at the Grand Café, and where they screened large-format 75mm films at the Universal Exhibition of 1900.  Check out this thorough article from the New York Times for an introduction to these inspiring filmmakers, or of course consult the pages in Chapter 2 of Moving Images that describe their place in moving image history.

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MediaComposerIn an earlier post regarding editing resources, I discussed a variety of editing programs used by a wide variety of professionals and educators, and here is an update for filmmakers interested in Media Composer by Avid.  Cengage Learning offers a number of titles designed to teach use of Avid Media Composer and its editing, effects, and sound programs.  These include: Media Composer 6: Professional Picture and Sound Editing by Woody Lidstone, Media Composer 6: Professional Effects and Compositing by David East, Media Composer 6: Part 1 – Editing Essentials by Mary PlummerMedia Composer 6: Part 2 Effects Essentials and Color Grading with Media Composer and Symphony 6.  

Another update since that previous post about editing, in which Oscar award-winning editors Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall are discussed, is that the most recent Academy Award winners for editing are Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger, who used Avid Media Composer to edit the film Gravity.  Here are two excellent interviews with Mark Sanger concerning his work on Gravity: one from Pro Video Coalition in which he specifically discusses working with Media Composer and an interview with Moviescope where he talks about the development of his career and his work with Cuarón.

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Kirsten Lepore making Move Mountain

In earlier posts, unique animators like PES and Norman McLaren (and Tim Burton too) have been featured, and here is something new to check out: the work of Kirsten Lepore.  As with many independant stop-motion filmmakers, a great deal of her work is in commercials.  Great lessons in non-dialogue storytelling, editing, and sound design are to be found in her shorts Bottle (a distinctly poignant love story between sand and snow) and Move Mountain (which the director describes as “a story about illness, perseverance, and our connection to everything around us”).  Along with lessons in frame-by-frame moviemaking, of course.  Both also have respective making of pieces: Making of Move Mountain and Making of Bottle.

If you are interested in more information on the topic, check out Cengage Learning’s title The Advanced Art of Stop-Motion Animation (by Ken Priebe).  While we are on this topic, you might be interested in turning to two of the masters of the form: Jan Švankmajer and Brothers Quay.  And in a few months, the very promising-looking The Boxtrolls from Laika studios will be arriving…

Update: Here’s a great interview by Girls at Library with Kirsten Lepore (who by now has also written and directed an episode of Adventure Time: Bad Jubiesabout reading and books.

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“Spies” directed by Fritz Lang, 1928

When we teach, we are constantly discovering (and hopefully those who are learning are constantly discovering too!).  Some lessons work, some fall flat.  We need to renew, to reinvent, to challenge ourselves and our students to dig deep into the themes and problems that we face in our studies and to invigorate our skills through these explorations.

In an earlier blog post, I discussed the particular challenges in developing students’ skills as visual communicators and the benefits of studying early motion picture history and non-dialogue moviemaking.  Recently, as my class was working on this unit, I decided to do something new.  One of the skill-building class activities I have done with this unit is a short project – produced in just a couple of class periods – in which students face the same challenge that filmmakers did for the Lumière and Company project.  This one-minute, one shot movie is offered as one of the extra projects that teachers can use with Moving Images (this one is Class Activity 2).  While I do find that this project can be instructive and offers a distinctive test to students, I thought it was about time to try something new.  I wanted to give them a task that could connect with other events going on in our school and could tie into learning in upcoming units.

“More” an animated short by Mark Osborne

So this is the intro to the exercise:  In this unit, you study the invention of moving images and the advances made in visual communication by early moviemakers. For this class exercise, you will explore possibilities of motion picture storytelling through the creation of a short movie designed to communicate a simple idea to an audience. For this project, you will determine a topic appropriate for a message at your school. This may be a public service announcement, a promotional piece for a school group, club, or team, or a commercial for a school enterprise. Along with studying examples from the early years of cinema, from Lumière and Méliès shorts and The Great Train Robbery to more advanced silents including selections from Fritz Lang’s The Spieswe also study contemporary examples of non-dialogue movies, such as Mark Osborne’s More (which is on the Moving Images DVD) and Mark Gustafson‘s Mr. Resistor.  Since this project had to meet the distinct needs of commercials or PSAs (in our case, to last between one and two minutes), we also watched previous standout student work in this vein in addition to commercials such as Volkswagen’s “The Force” (which premiered during the 2011 Super Bowl).

I decided that I would let students select their collaborators, and they dived right into the task.  As it turned out, the class ended up in four groups, and the projects they did turned out very well.  In fact, every completed PSA turned out to be quite worthy and appropriate to show on the school-wide morning announcements.  They were clearly the best set of rapidly produced shorts in this course that I have taught for over a decade.

This activity has already been added to the teacher materials for Chapter 2 – it is titled “Class Activity 2b” – and it has been uploaded to the Cengage textbook site for instructors and students.

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