Kyle Johansen

Blog Post ‘Cinema Writing’

Language texts and video are two portions of an editor’s tools for expression that have melded together the more time goes on. While language in an audible form set a common trend for the technology after its development, it is in the internet era that text and video are becoming more intertwined in more pleasing and effective ways. As seen in my video essays and educational YouTube videos, content creators are including paragraphs or short sentences of words more so within their clips. Usually this text is shown for the length of a person speaking, acting as if they are reading it out loud to you while certain key words are highlighted or colored to import a sense of importance in their meaning outside of the rest. For audience members who do not want to read, their eyes flash to the highlighted words and they take in some of the information the content was trying to convey. This mixing of visual, audio, and text has, in my opinion, been most noticeable within education content.

Online educational Youtube channels that promote learning and the expression of new discoveries have been successful and quick to incorporate all three available methods of expression (audio, text, video) compared to the more traditional education establishment and methods. These videos cover a wide range of topics across various informational fields of knowledge, but compress the information into more ‘chewable’ chunks with careful selection, creation, and editing of content. While the means of incorporating the three methods of expression are more explored, the exact balance and formula remains a discoverable source of identity and expression, as seen by three example YouTube videos below and their respective channels. Kurzgesagt relies more on visual information to add meaning beside the voice of a narrator explaining a concept while using text to fill in additional meaning where they see fit. SciShow uses a human actor to narrate information in many of their scenes, and while they do use visual evidence of the topic they are speaking about, they primarily rely on text that has context with what is being spoken about, and the highlighting of words to deliver they want the audience to pay the most attention to while watching. The Great War also makes use of a human actor, but regularly includes historic visuals and texts to convey meaning to the audience such as old war-footage or a letter written by a soldier.

 

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Blog Post “Networked Cinema”

After reading through the “SKAM” article, the idea of a online audience interactive series seems more feasible in my perspective. Early forms of this audience interaction come to mind, such as the audience text feature where they could vote or give an opinion on a show. But going the extra mile to create multiple social media accounts and post history done in the manner like SKAM brings a new level of realism and engagement with audience members. While I personally do not frequent multiple social media apps to fully take in a story such as SKAM, its success shows that the multi-platform method of story telling is a viable and interesting format that people wish to see. Although SKAM use of apps like Instagram and Facebook, I feel that it is but a first step in more multi-platform stories. Eventually I could see another series or story taking place outside of the popular apps teenagers use, even going as far as making accounts for actors to perform their role on new web domains or already existing services, bringing the story stage to beyond the purview of Instagram and the like. An entire persona with an online history could be fabricated, theoretically. However, I feel in time some existing web services will begin to—if they haven’t already—add clauses to their terms of service to prevent ‘actor’ profiles from engaging on their platform. The idea of watching a story and its actors has always existed in a space specifically for it; tv, books, newspapers, theater stages, or orally told tales by a fireplace. But digital stories like SKAM exist in apps which are more closely tied to the real world and its going-ons, allowing the story to enter a space that was previously more associated with non-fiction than fiction. While SKAM is limited on what platforms it presents its story, future stories may find their way into more available spaces, bringing story more into reality and increasing the opportunity for engagement outside of the regular story telling space.

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Time Frames Blog Post

Ever since I first read Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics back in high school, its content and concepts have been reiterated numerous times from separate resources and individuals; a good sign of just how much rich content one can sink their teeth into from the book. Despite the difference in mediums, the written concepts of the 2d plane can be translating into techniques and methods for the 3-dimensional space that cinema often sets itself in. A comic rests its content within a frame that an individual attaches a sense of time to, similar to how a camera holds the content within its eye. While video often brings its own sense of time, it is the editing of multiple segments of video that merge these gaps of time and bring a sense of progression. I recently watched the film Joker, directed by Todd Phillips and starring Joaquin Phoenix as the main character Arthur; spoilers ahead.

Until certain moment brings some clarity to the issue, the audience is largely left to interpret just how reliable of a narrator Arthur is. There are segments that play out seemingly within real time with actions and events the audience witnesses occurring. The story follows an unreliable narrator style, and it’s revealed that these moments may not have existed at all or were simply the imagination of the character Arthur. One such segment is where Arthur is at home watching the television of a talk show, followed by a series of sequences then showing Arthur on the television set and interacting as though he was there. At the end of this, the film cuts back to Arthur at home, indicating the encounter hadn’t happened at all. While this and more examples throughout the film play, I believe, into setting the atmosphere of how mentally unstable the character Arthur is, it also adds a distorted sense of time for the audience as viewers piece together which scenes were real and which were not. The overall effect felt as if the movie kept the audience’s sense of time coherent enough to follow along the tracks, but shaky enough for them to question exactly what and when things were happening, adding to the sense of mental health issues the movie subtly themes underneath its other concepts.

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Pixel Cinema Blog Post

The short video LIGHT IS WAITING is, aside from a desperate need of a seizure warning, depicts reality in a nonsensical space and time of altered images paired with shots entirely replaced by opaque pixels brightly flashing. This crop out of image with single color pixel distorts the space in a manner that removes visual reference to the characters on the screen, leaving only a lighted silhouette of filmed objects or actors during the pixelated segments. While there entirety of the video isn’t edited in this garish manner, the few segments in which one can understand what is happening on the screen does little to provide a narrative sense. As Manovich wrote regarding Metz’s pondering on future cinema, this short is a perfect example of, “future non-narrative films become more numerous…”(Manovich 11). While the artistic value of LIGHT IS WAITING cannot be ignored given such values are wholly subjective, it certainly does not stand among other videos for pushing a non-narrative piece as one might expect from a more visually understandable story. The rise of the internet has purported such explorations, bringing with it the freedom of accessing and remixing content in numerous ways with endless outcomes of final production. This space of media alteration and creation that shorts such as ‘LIGHT IS WAITING’ exist in gives rise to far more variants of film and editing.

 

The short HELL’S CLUB is one example which mixes realism which follows Manovich’s description Forrest Gump‘s feather intro scene, that being, “something that looks as if it is intended to look exactly as if it could have happened, although it really could not.” In this short many scenes from other films have been juxtaposed onto each other in a way that merges each scene’s space into one seemingly coherent space. This short extends past simple cut and paste editing by implementing a color overlay onto existing scenes. The red lightening added to the screen helps merge this space and pixels, making the differently cut segments seemingly acting within the same rules of this space.

 

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Blog Post Eagle Creek Fire Interview Exercise

The Eagle Creek fire was an event that caused a societal disturbance and concern for the local surrounding populaces, with ash and smoke billowing over the nearby residential areas for days. My recollection of this news coverage at this time showed scenes of the fire raging along with a focus on the person who had caused the fire. A teenager using fireworks during a burn ban makes, I feel, an easy target to cover regarding the disastrous event, as well as the folks who had to leave their homes from the approaching flames.  However, if given the task of documenting the event, my focus would primarily be on the ecological changes—both soon and in the far future—the fire would have on the area, as well as footage and first hand accounts of the individuals combating the fire.

 

As Barry hampe wrote, “Plan the location so that it becomes a part of the evidence of the scene” (Hampe 98), filming people at the event of focus brings a tighter narrative control and visual scene that the audience can more effectively understand. Interviewing a firefighter at his house would be much different than filming said person at the sight of a fire. In this case, though, filming a firefighter getting ready for their days work combating the Eagle Creek fire would be effective to convey the amount of time the fire raged and that it was a multi-day laborious process for responders. Additional visual evidence that I would see out would be the fire itself, the equipment used to combat the fire, and the view of the fire from a pedestrians location from faraway. To summarize my mental theme regarding this documentary, focusing on the workers and their process of tackling the fire takes the upmost priority followed by the shots of infrastructure and people witnessing the approaching blaze to illustrate the importance and benefit fire responders have within society, and that natural disasters will always be around the corner.

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Blog Post #4

The film ‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets’ sits in a special place of interest for myself simply for its opening montage sequence. With the fitting music aside, the piece emotionally resonates with me regarding its depiction of humanity unifying and finding other intelligent life among the stars. The sense of time passing and difference of aliens is all shown through the same behavior and lenses of the human actors at the beginning of the piece conveys a sense of familiarity and establishment for the alien characters without having to use a single line of dialogue or get caught up in the details of world building so early in the beginning of the film.

While I’m not certain if this piece falls under Eisenstein’s criteria of ‘Intellectual Method’ for a montage, I believe it to be the best fitting as many details regarding the films world and its characters is conveyed through the pieces of the montage for the audience to put together. The unification of Earth government and countries, the rapid change of uniforms representing the various faces these unified organizations have gone through, the change in station greeters to convey a sense of time, and the increasingly growing space station which serves as the main environment for the rest of the film all bring about a sense of status and how the order of things are within this setting.

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Continuity Project

This project was troublesome during the editing process, simply for the fact that the recorded footage I had taken in mind for the narrative could not all fit within the time constraints. While I formatted the footage under a minute, I found myself removing whole scenes in order to fit. This cutting forced me to reposition certain segments, leading to the final product below. I used shots that kept the actor in the distance of a trail followed by panning or still shots of the actor passing nature life to illustrate continuity of movement down the walking trail.

Due to the cutting of clips, I found myself also reordering many shots I planned to keep in chronological sequence. Shot 0:05 to 0:07 was originally included on a quick montage segment with other passing shots within the video. It was only during the editing process as I realized I needed to cut an opening scene I had wanted to use and needed a replacement to fill the time between the actor walking onto the trail and deciding which path to take. This original version featured more of a mystery for the actor using shots that showed only the motion at an angle that slowly revealed more of the body until the first face shot.  I used shots that kept the actor in the distance of a trail followed by panning or still shots of the actor passing nature life to illustrate continuity of movement down the walking trail.

In retrospect, however, the edit at the 0:20 second mark did not turn out as well as I had hoped. While I shot for an open sky to show some time had passed, I could have recorded the following scene of the actor walking coming out of a standing position rather than a walking one so as to make the scenes before flow more smoothly. Additionally, while I had imagined to include more shots, the cutting of the shots also forced me to reduce the time of the shots I already had rather than keeping it some seconds longer for certain scenes such as 0:40 to 0:43.

My framing in this piece, while interesting at the time of recorded, also could have done with another take. I enjoy how the intro sequence starts with only a leg shot and a long field of grass, but with the reduced length, having the actor walk until out of scene would have been more effective. In this case, I should have reshot with an angle that is better suited for the short duration of screen time.

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In Class Project #1

For the in class project of editing Skyfall’s train sequence.

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Blog Project #1 Favorite Movie Scene

For this blog post, I selected six scenes from the movie “The Pentagon Wars”, a military comedy about the develop of the U.S. Bradley Fighting Vehicle starring Kelsey Grammer.

 

The first shot in this new scene is a Close-Up shot of the date on an engineer’s drafting board. This scene sets the environment of the sequence as it pans away for the second shot.

The second shot blend of a Medium shot for the engineer in the background and a Medium Close-Up for the Colonel. They two discuss the technicalities of the Bradley specs while the camera shows the rest of the work space.

The third shot transition to an Medium Close-Up for the engineer and a Medium Long-Shot for the Colonel. This cut to the second engineer in the background I believe is used to further represent the space the characters are in while providing something for the audience to look at as the camera pans back and forth.

The fourth shot is a repetition of the the third shot in some senses as the camera pans back and forth from the Colonel’s pacing, revealing more of the room in tiny details.

The fifth shot is a Close-Up of the engineer once more as extra affect while he delivers his final line in the scene.

The sixth and final shot of this sequence before the movie transitions away to another sequence is an extreme Close-Up of the engineer for reference on his spatial location and for the audience to know where the Colonel is looking at, while the Colonel himself has a Close-Up of his silent and incredulous expression.

 

This scene is part of a longer series of sequences that all together fit within a 10 minute long flashback. The Colonel is trying to get his engineer to include the demands of the Generals. His pacing and sour mood serve add to his apprehension as he searches for answers that will allow him to complete the project and appease the Generals. The engineer, who rarely gets shots outside of Close-Ups and Medium Close-Ups throughout the movie, always serves as an immobile character who reminds the Colonel the reality of trying to include whimsical features on an expensive and already designed war machine.

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Blog Post #1

The digital medium is under a constant state of flux, with new innovations driving changes across standards and industries. It is no surprise that the cellphone has largely contributed to this phenomenon, and it continues to assess itself at the front of this changing wave by opening a new avenue for film makers and directors to create and publish their content. The exact nature and shape of the smaller scale recording logistics that cellphones have over traditional film recording equipment remains to be seen, but the accessibility and je ne se quois freedom a cellphone has over film industry camera certainly brings some immediate benefits to its implementation in filming.

With VR and AR technologies slowly encroaching into the culture mindset, the cellphone poises itself to leap into new fields of recording and consuming media, especially so given that cellphones have been the main driving force behind the recent developments into VR. Viewing content in ways outside of the usual 2d screen is but a small step in the case of cellphones.  Traditional film equipment, with all its specialization and clear benefits, will lack the full freedom of digital expression that the cellphones of today—and more importantly the future—will have with the further development of technology. By digital expression I mean the various ways a cellphone can interact with the digital world that a large movie camera could not.

Cellphones continue to develop into a multimodal digital tool, interfacing with other devices across the world, manipulating content stored within itself, and showing its content via its screen to nearby persons. These benefits seem obvious at first due to the automatism cellphones have brought over the years with how its features have been used outside of film making, but with new technologies coming into the forefront that aim to bring more modes of media consumption outside of the traditional 2d screen, the automatism of the future will possibly be one of full digital expression for all tools regardless of their size or initial specialization.

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Hello World

I’m a 3rd year DTC student looking forward to the semester. While I greatly enjoy cinema or the editing of already existing clips, creating it has not been my forte nor something I have pursued before. I look forward to learning new skills in this class and developing a perspective I did not have before.

While I’m not certain what kind of style of filming I’d like to learn more about, the ease of small handheld recorders allow for interesting camera angles such the rapidly changing ones in the video below.

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