Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Chapter 4’ Category

It was a little over a decade ago that the documentary Side by Side (directed by Chris Kenneally), which featured debates hosted by Keanu Reeves about the states of digital and celluloid motion picture formats, was highlighted in mediateacher.net upon its release. Now, this month saw the 100th anniversary of the arrival of 16mm film format. This was celebrated and discussed in the recent article Happy 100th Birthday, 16-Millimeter Film by Devika Gerish.  And here is another piece discussing current states of the format for 16mm and its little cousin 8 from David E. Williams in American Cinematographer : Film Forward.

Read Full Post »

Agnes Varda making first feature “La Pointe Courte”

Couldn’t resist that title.  In Chapter 8 of Moving Images, students explore the positions that correspond to the filmmaking tasks for which they have been developing skills throughout their work with the textbook.  These jobs have been in a pretty constant state of flux for a number of years as the processes of the digital media pipeline and business of media production continue to evolve and transform.

Recently a very interesting piece by Cara Buckley on gripping appeared in the New York Times: What is a Grip?  The Few Women Doing the Job in Hollywood Explain.”  Check out this article to find some answers along with insights and inspiration.

On a topic related to a core theme of this article, mediateacher.net notes the deeply sad news of the passing of Agnès Varda, one of the most important filmmakers of this era and a truly inspiring creator and visionary.

And to continue with another follow-up (related to the earlier references in multiple ways!) to working in the movie industry, here is an interview with Jessica Lee Gagné, the cinematographer of the stunningly shot Escape at Dannemora, a Showtime 7-part miniseries directed by Ben Stiller, released a few months ago to widespread acclaim.  Amazing work both behind and in front of the camera.

Read Full Post »

Decades ago, Princeton professor P. Adams Sitney first integrated these lessons into his work on cinematic history and its hidden lessons, along with adventures in the Avant-Garde.  Check out the embedded video above and your eyes (and mind) may be opened a bit more.

Speaking of dispelling illusions, here is a related recommendation — Race: The Power of an Illusion is an exceptional documentary referenced in Moving Images and which explores the complex story of what we call “race” in AmericaYou can learn more about it here.

Read Full Post »

DP Ed Lachman with Cate Blanchette and Rooney Mara

Ed Lachman with Cate Blanchette and Rooney Mara

In earlier posts, mediateacher has highlighted resources for screenwriting, editing, sound, and much more, and of course there have been discussions of cinematography, such as upon the release of the documentary Side by Side.  Here are some excellent cinematography resources: this 20-minute film and accompanying tutorial by John Hess of filmmakeriq.com about color and digital cinematography; the “Through the Lens Film School” blog by Chris Weaver that offers pretty easy-to-follow lighting tutorials and general tips; and, finally, an interesting “food for thought” page from Deadline magazine prompted by statements by DPs Robert Richardson and Ed Lachman (who shot Carol on 16mm!) about what is really happening these days in the world of VFX-driven cinematography.

Read Full Post »

media dressOr is it white and gold?  A few weeks ago, a new viral event entered the lexicon: So, is the dress in that picture white & gold or blue & black?  And an intense debate ensued.  I first was asked about it by a student in my Advanced Media Literacy & Production class, and I laughed because kids, being kids, were quickly getting furious about the different opinions being expressed and whether or not one was a “white/gold” or “blue/black” person.  And they were also quite sure that what they were talking about was the color of a dress.  I told them that what they were looking at, and debating, was a picture of a dress, and that what they were disputing was how they perceived the visual information in the picture.  If they were well trained in media literacy, they might be able to address a few key issues at hand: first, the lighting in the picture is clearly problematic and we tend to interpret that visual information relative to many perceptions we have related to light and color.  I guessed “white/gold” because the bluish tint to the white I instinctively dismissed to the overexposed highlights while the darker tone certainly did not look black to me.  (Do it right now with the picture here: cover everything else except for a patch of the dark bands on the dress: is that black to you?)  This also brings up another issue that is important to consider: by giving the choice of blue/black or white/gold, there is already a setup for the viewer, we are already given a bias or a set of parameters that will skew our reactions to what we see.  We may even see things that aren’t necessarily there or it may limit our reactions by design. These issues are discussed in Chapter 4 of Moving Images: in order to master Storytelling with Light, one must understand light.  And that includes the concept of white balance, which clearly was not in play with this photo.  For anyone interested in further exploration of these issues related to light and color, I highly recommend the episode Seeing is Believing from the excellent series Brain Games.  The lesson related to our perception of color is also in this BBC article – scroll down to the example Cube Illusion – within moments, you will probably be thinking “I can’t believe my eyes!  No way!”

unforgiven_5

Another American marksman: director Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven

Another major media event from this year that makes me think of these issues is the enormous success of the movie American Sniper, directed by Clint Eastwood, which may become a media document used in our schools throughout the years to come.  For many young people, both the movie and its source autobiography are already regarded as a core historical text in the “War on Terror” and a rather faithful document of recent American history, as I have witnessed on numerous occasions in conversation and text.  This movie is a treasure trove of lessons in media literacy, through which one can delve into the messages being communicated visually and constructed for audiences, from the editorial links between the events of 9/11 and Iraq; to depictions of Iraqis as “savages” (to quote the author and subject of American Sniper, Chris Kyle) and black-clad villains of the American Western transplanted from the sandy vistas of cowboys to the desert lands of the Middle East; and to the use of actual documentary footage from Kyle’s funeral in Texas to conclude the film, cementing its message to audiences as a historical document.  In discussing the topic of the understanding of history through movies, Jeffrey M. Zacks writes in Why Movie ‘Facts’ Prevail (New York Times,February 13, 2015): “You might think: Does it really matter? Can’t we keep the film world separate from the real world?  Unfortunately, the answer is no. Studies show that if you watch a film — even one concerning historical events about which you are informed — your beliefs may be reshaped by ‘facts’ that are not factual.”

AMERICAN SNIPER

“Mustafa” – truth or fiction? Be media literate and do the research!

Issues of authenticity, distortion of historical truths or outright inaccuracy, acceptable or inappropriate license taken in the depiction of historical events or figures are all core issues faced by countless media creators working in both fiction and non-fiction.  They are core topics of Chapters 5 and 6 of Moving Images.  This past year, many valid points have been raised about controversial choices relative to the visual communication and dialogue in a number of historically-based movies, particularly American Sniper, The Imitation Gameand Selma.  Educators must continue to encourage vigorous debate and to develop students’ abilities to interpret, question, and assess the media messages with which they regularly interact.

If you are looking for a good analytical piece on American Sniper, I think this article by Noah Gittell is one of the best; he provides a brief but excellent visual and thematic analysis of the movie and appropriately contextualizes the opposing poles observed in reactions to the film.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »