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Archive for the ‘Chapter 3’ Category

One of Mad Men's most distinctive ads

Capturing Style – and getting the period right

How to seduce the viewer, the consumer, the public?  A show that has explored that driving question in very powerful, incisive, and grownup ways has been the series Mad Men, which is reaching its final episode in just a few days.  This article by Brooke Marine from Vulture features the work of co-producer Josh Weltman, who was brought on board Mad Men by creator and showrunner Matt Weiner to create fictional period-appropriate advertising for protagonist adman Don Draper.

The challenges presented by commercial work have been explored in Moving Images and in previous posts on this blog, including an appreciation of Saul Bass and the close-up interview with Kevin Goff, creator of the 2015 Esurance ad featuring the Breaking Bad Walter White character and McDonald’s “Mom vs. Dad” and “The Last Fry,” among others.  Besides “seducing strangers,” as Josh Weltman puts it, how about simply keeping the attention of teenagers or college students?  That’s the enormous challenge faced by any young filmmakers creating ads or PSAs for high school or university contexts.  It’s also a tall order that can help any young adpeople to hone their communications skills for some of the toughest audiences imaginable.  And this helps all students to understand and critique the media messages that they face every day.

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white3f-2-webIn a sly ad that played during this year’s Super Bowl, one commercial messed around with our media literacy backgrounds through the familiar context of the local pharmacy: Bryan Cranston made a new appearance in the Walter White persona from Breaking Bad to advertise issues of trust and authenticity related to an insurance company.  This piece was penned by Kevin Goff, copywriter and creative director for advertising agency Leo Burnett of Chicago.  Yes, that Kevin Goff — our interviewee for Chapter 3 (Sound and Image) of Moving Images.   For those wishing to pursue further explorations of principles of communication linked to short-form pieces and advertising, you might want to check out the earlier post What Exactly is that Movie?  As a matter of fact, I will be using it for the next couple of weeks in my own classes.  You will find lots of fun material to learn from, debate, and play with.

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Pioneer director Alice Guy directing a Chronophone sound film in France

Pioneer director Alice Guy directing a Chronophone sound film in France

Looking for further resources on the invention and development of sound recording?  Here is an excellent half-hour video by John P. Hess on that subject (covering such topics as optical sound and Vitaphone and pioneers like Lee DeForest) by filmmakeriq.com, which is an exceptional resource for film students and developing filmmakers.  For additional info on sound, here are earlier posts on Sound Design, Foley Effects, and the fine art of Dubbing.

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Bond…James Bond?

Bond…James Bond?

One of the primary uses of ADR – discussed in Chapter 3 (Sound and Image) of Moving Images – is for dubbing the original voices of a movie into the language of the country in which that motion picture is being distributed, whether for cinemas, television, video games, or whatever platform for which it has been made.  For most Americans, the term “The Fine Art of Dubbing” might seem like a joke since it is not so prevalently used (except for animation) and a great deal of the dubbing that is done is not particularly effective (such as the longstanding tradition of ridiculously bad dubbing in certain Asian martial arts movies).  However, in much of the world dubbing is taken very seriously and the quality can be exceptional.  Here is a very interesting and eye-opening portrait of the work of a dubbing specialist, German actor Dietmar Wunder (the previous link is to the New York Times article and accompanying video; here is just the video).  He is most famous as the German voice of Daniel Craig’s James Bond.  Like with my previous blog posts about the work of the foley artist or sound designer, these resources can provide compelling explorations into the worlds of sound in moviemaking.

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Sizzle in Paris this summer with Hepburn and Holden as they work to get the screenwriting juices flowing

Summer Movie about Screenwriting: Sizzle in Paris with Hepburn and Holden as they work to get the creative juices flowing

Chapters 3 and 7 (Sound and Image and From Page to Screen) are the sections of Moving Images that deal most explicitly and directly with screenwriting.  One of the topics introduced in Chapter 3 and pursued further in Chapter 7 is that of screenplay format.  Currently, there are many programs available to set up writing for proper screenplay format, such as Celtx (which offers a freeware version), Final Draft, Adobe Story, and many others.  Educators or students may wish to invest in any of these or access freeware versions, but here is another easily accessible option.  Microsoft Word can be programmed so that through the style settings the basic components of a script are ready to go.

Would you like a copy that is prepared for you?  Here it is: Screenplay template.  The titles for screenplay components in this document are those that I have used in Moving Images and are described in the definitions and descriptions in Chapter 3 (p. 101-106) and Chapter 7 (268-271).  This Word doc template has been set for Courier; you may have to change the font settings to Courier New depending on your version of Word.  Please review the style settings, because they can be problematic between software versions and they might need review or updating.

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gregbutlerposteronlineJust a quick announcement that I will be leading a conversation with award-winning VFX artist Greg Butler in Suffield, Connecticut on April 26, 2014.  Greg will be sharing clips and talking about his groundbreaking career, from earlier days of apprenticeship on such films as Forrest Gump, Jurassic Park, and Starship Troopers, to his lead role in the creation of Gollum for Lord of the Rings and on to work as a supervisor of visual effects, including his nomination for the Academy Award on the final installment of Harry Potter.  If you are in the area, I would recommend checking out this evening hosted by the Suffield Public Library Foundation for a fun discussion of moviemaking (see also a classroom visit and my Close-Up interview with him).

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gunfoleyThere are few things more fun to watch in the filmmaking process than observing a skilled foley artist at work.  As we explore the various elements that make up the tools at the disposal of the sound designer, foley effects can be among the most expressive and vital components of the contemporary sound mix.  The history of this type of sound effect is another enlightening window into the development of communicative techniques in motion pictures, going back to the powerfully inventive sound mixes of the films of director René Clair (such as Le Million, À Nous la Libertéand Under the Rooftops of Paris) and to the source of this title, sound innovator Jack Foley, whose legendary boots and keychain were the hidden secrets of many of the most famous walks in Westerns, and whose work on his final film, Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus, was transformative.

gary-hecker-foley-artist

For a brief introduction to the craft of foley artists, this Los Angeles Times short is excellent.   There are also two revealing portraits available that highlight the work of foley artist Gary Hecker (and his mixer Nerses Gezalyan) – this one that starts with his work on Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood (with sound design by Ann Scibelli) and breaks down the elements of a sound effect mix very well – and an even more inspiring piece produced by the LA Times for their Working Hollywood series, in which Hecker demonstrates exceptional foley work for Hunger Games (with sound design by Lon Bender and the creation of a wolf growl for Twilight: New Moon that is quite jaw-dropping.

I’d like to add thanks to Frank Baker for pointing out the LATimes piece on Gary Hecker during our panel presentation at the NCTE Convention in Boston; it was a perfect complement to the other review materials for Moving Images Chapter 3, Sound and Image, that I have been exploring with my media literacy classes this month.  Along with my earlier post titled Sinking Into Sound, I also recommend this piece for PBSs Art Beat and this documentary on the history of the integration of recorded sound with motion pictures (included on the second DVD of the Jazz Singer set).

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