Kevin Billison

The Gray Mile

Here it is, my Final Project!  After Doing some major work on it, I’ve finally completed it!

The Gray Mile!

 

Don’t forget to support the Royalty Free Music I used to create this project.  His channel is here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQKGLOK2FqmVgVwYferltKQ

It’s been a great year, thanks everyone!

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The Whale Hunt

Interactive Video is an interesting idea to me.  The concept itself in a way bridges the gap between a video and a game, as the viewer is directly involved in the narrative in some way or another.  The Whale Hunt was a very interesting piece that I viewed.  It is comprised of a photographic slideshow with thousands of images.  I find that The Whale Hunt is closer to a database search than a direct narrative.  However, it is unique in that it is thousands of images about a whaling trip, each image being a minute or even a second apart from the next, depending what is happening.  The images also overlay in time, giving the viewer an idea of what’s going on in multiple places at once.  The narrative is built out of a search indext that plays the images in a slideshow based on what you put in the search terms.  Along the top of the screen you can select which cast member you wish to see pictures of, as well as the topics of the images, and the excitement of them.  Overall, the narrative is unique and triumphant as the whalers manage to land two good hauls.  There is no real instruction of the system, so another large part of the narrative is the viewer discovering the entire system of the GUI.  It may not seem like much, but there is a unique feeling a viewer can get when they have to learn a GUI by themselves.  It adds a very interesting element to the entire story, and builds interest in the goal of the whalers.  Seeing all that they have to go through, but out of order, gives the viewer a new presepctive on the lives of this team of whalers.  Because the viewer is forced to manually search the database themselves, it puts them in an outside position where they can look specifically for what they want.  This is very similar to a game I’ve played called Her Story.  The premise is that the player is a person searching an old police database, trying to piece together a murder case from a series of short videos containing the suspects answers to her interrogation questions.

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On the subject of YouTube

YouTube and internet videos are an interesting phenomenon that has appeared in the last decade.  It is a platform, a medium, rather than any specific style of videos as what one may watch on YouTube can be anything of a vast variety of videos.  Success on YouTube can be defined any number of ways, all that really matters is whether or not the content creator has accomplished the goal that they originally set out to do.  Notwithstanding, to increase publicity of a video, there are multiple strategies available to content creators, and even people whom make it their profession to aid such content creators in navigating the internet ocean known as YouTube.

There are two essential keys to mass publicity on YouTube.  The first is understanding your audience.  Once a content creator has decided to whom they intend to produce content, they must specifically target their tastes or interests, and create a steady stream of content for them to share.  Depending on what kind of content one intends to create, there are all manners and shapes of tutorials, templates, and resources, however, as YouTube is a rapidly growing medium with nearly any type of content available, uniqueness and individuality can be a content creator’s greatest asset.

The second essential key is what I call organization.  Organization encompasses things such as layout, interface, interaction, and networking.  Having a strong and intuitive format is vital to a video creator.  Helpful tools for strong format are series, titles, thumbnails, and descriptions.  Having a proper schedule for video releases is also helpful for publicity, as it creates expectation and order among one’s viewers.  Networking and interaction are strong assets as they allow a content creator to share publicity with not only their peers, but their viewers as well, giving an element of relatability to oneself, and bridging the gap known as the fourth wall.  When a viewer has met a content creator, or sees them working with another content creator, they can see a little into the scope of one’s work.

As for my own pitch, I think the idea of Interactive Cinema has a very large place on the internet, and has much room to grow on YouTube.  Personally, I would try some kind of Interactive Series following the conventions of the theory of game design, allowing for a viewer to keep track of their own stats and follow the series as if they were immersed within it, having a printable guide with them to lead them through puzzles leading to unlisted YouTube videos which provide them with the next puzzle.  As narrative and game design are my strong suits, I could see a lot of potential in such a series.

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Interview Project

I was originally going to inverview a Bouncy House Delivery Man, but I just couldn’t schedule it out, so instead I interviewed my brother as he was more readily available, currently working on projects for his clients, and very relatable to all of us here.  Funny thing, he insisted on setting up the interview space himself, and he told me to film it for B roll.  I thought that was a great and fun decision which made for a very meta kind of interview.

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Hybrid Video Examples

I put together two different ideas for the Hybrid Video assignment, the first I call “Game Over”.

It is a piece I put together from six different video games at the same opacity, however, the rendering still took an eternity.

 

The second piece I have is a rough edit that I did with the green screen.

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Montage Assignment

This is my montage my assignment.  I kept it at exactly 60 seconds, and I added the audio that I recorded myself because the piano without any sound would look really weird.  Fun fact: I actually recorded him performing the same piece in entirety about five times.

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Time Assignment

For the first Loop I wanted to play with time a little bit and show one character moving through time in a different way to everyone else.

In my second loop I wanted to present the idea of an infinitely revolving Dreidel.  I felt that it would be a fun loop to make.

You would not believe how long it took to film this.  We were shuffling those cards for at least an hour.

This was the very second thing that popped into my head when I read this assignment, and so I had to make sure that I got the footage of it.

While I was waiting for the rain to show up, I saw this and decided to film it.  It was cool, and I did actually sit there and film the twenty minutes it took to fog back up, but I couldn’t get the two to mesh together well enough to form one seamless loop.  So ultimately I just left it with the defrost.

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Continuity Assignment

I feel that the continuity of the frames is conveyed fairly well here.  I tried to edit it more of an early film style where the camera mostly doesn’t change until the character leaves the screen, only to appear on the other side of the next screen.  I heavily used Match on Action throughout this piece, starting from the car sequence until he turns around.  What really helped was the authenticity of the piece.  He allowed me to hide his wallet and then I proceeded to film him from a monopod as he searched everywhere for it.  There is about 40 minutes of footage that I shot, however a lot of it is shakier than what I normally film.  That was a side effect of the mobility that using the monopod granted me.  The close up shot and the final shot, however, were filmed after he had found his wallet where the subject was under heavy direction.  Combining these set up shots with authentic shots really lent a hand to the narrative that I established early on.  I feel that the element of mystery that I implemented by not showing the wallet until the end played very well with this silly film.  I wanted this one to be less serious than my first assignment, so I made a few decisions to enforce that, including the aforementioned element of mystery, as well as the actual location of the wallet.  While filming I didn’t quite make out a strict narrative, rather I simply followed him around while he searched for his wallet.  This had some positive and negative effects when I took the footage into editing.  On the one hand, it was in fact, all authentic, but on the other hand, I would have to be much more deliberate about my continuity.  This decision ultimately is what will make or break my assignment, and truly show if I have learned continuity.

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  1. Kevin, I am impressed that you shot 40 minutes! But you really only need some planning get the shots you need. I see some good continuity shots in here that just need some fine tuning. I can show you if we have time in class.

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Framing – As Seen in Film

The Seven Samurai makes excellent use of framing in the final battle scene of the film.  But what I’m going to talk about specifically is the build up to that battle.  In the introductory scene, where we see the multiple different groups through various kinds of frames.

The very introduction of the scene shows the ambush team from a medium shot.  This allows the viewer to see just how many of the villagers are with the Samurai in the ambush team.  They get into position, and prepare for the battle

Then we get a close up of the leader.  We see him staring off at the enemy that approaches in the rain.  I find that this shot truly conveys the very nature of the movie itself, and is best accompanied by the final quote of the film: “This was their victory.”   You can see the hardship on the face of this Samurai, a man who fights even knowing that he won’t be paid.

This third frame is a long panning shot showing the invading bandits on horseback making their final stand.  By flashing back and forth between the initial medium shot and this long shot, we get a large amount of tension built up over these few seconds.

And then they pass by the ambush.  We see a PoV shot from one of the villagers hiding from the invaders as the 13 of them pass into the village.  The final trap has been sprung, and the battle is about to begin.  We the audience get to feel them rushing into battle as they ride past the camera.

 

These four frames used to start off the battle are excellent choices.  Noticably, the prespective is always in the camp of the Samurai and the villagers.  Not once do we watch the bandits from behind until we see them skewered by the villagers.  It is this use of framing, both here and throughout the film, that The Seven Samurai shows us the side we are on.  While both the invaders and the defenders are Samurai, we come to side with the seven whom help the villagers.  The shots themselves are longer shots that really keep the actions easy to follow.  Each action, every movement captured, remains more or less within the rule of thirds.  Because of this, the audience’s attention is drawn to every movement in the frame at once.  It builds its own immersion and atmousphere, by the framing alone.  These four frames may seem simple, but they really put the audience in the shoes of a villager in a final battle against bandits.

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Kevin Billison-What Was Cinema?

Digital Video has completely changed the nature of the Motion Picture.  Fundamentally, the traditions and automatisms of film are different and separate from those of digital media.  The way I see it, classical film was a form of art, accessible only to those few artists whom had the capability to take the screen, the canvas, so to speak, and cast upon it their own masterpiece.  Now, with the rise of cellular technology and the miniaturization of the older tools, just about everyone has access to a camera and can produce a video of any quality they so desire.  One needs only moments to turn any instance into a video that is visible to the entire world.  D.N. Rodowick states it best, saying “on entering my local video store in Hamden, Connecticut, I saw that Pasolini’s entire oeuvre was available on videocassette.  Five years earlier, I might have prioritized my life around a trip to New York to fill in the one or two Pasolini films I hadn’t seen, or to review en bloc a group of his films.  For when would I have the chance again?  That evening, I’m sure I passed on Pasolini and moved on to other things, for opportunity and time were no longer precious commodities.”

Furthermore, the nature of the moviegoing culture has changed in the digital age.  As I previously stated, it takes only moments for one’s thoughts to be broadcast to the world these days.  The concept of taking the time to think about something seems to have faded in favor of instantaneous reaction and emotions.  If one were to search the word reaction on the internet, there would be hundreds of thousands of results.

In the era of film, one would have plenty of time to think about a film, to consider their reactions, and why they reacted.  There would be time to make a calm and researched response in a respectful and insightful way.  These are the things that build up the automatisms of old; these are the automatisms that refined the traditions; these are the traditions that forged a healthy culture both in film and in life.

Rodowick again describes the scenario in a charming way, saying “only a few short years marked the transition from scarcity to an embarrassment of riches”.  In this, even today, the effects of such a massive change are visible.  The production of the motion picture came in to the hands of all people.  Whether or not this was for the best, that is what we will have to ponder.

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First Post

Hello, I am Kevin Billison. I have always been a moviegoer, and have quite a bit of experience in the world of Cinema. My brother recently graduated in this field, and has always invited me to be in his own film projects. I am familiar with the art of story telling and with voice over work. I would call these two things my forte. Who knows what comes next. I don’t. But I do know that my brother’s resources and experience will be useful.

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