KC Johnson

Final Project – My Final Fantasy

When approaching this final project, I practically had no idea on what exactly to do. Usually, when I’m given free rein on a project I almost always draw a blank! I even went to Will several times on what videos I could create and subjects to explore. One video idea that we both came up with was to create a video essay. I thought this would be a great idea because I’m not exactly all that comfortable filming myself and I don’t have a lot of friends and family members who are available enough for me to film.

However, the next challenge for me to deal with was what exactly would the subject of the video essay be about? I contemplated several different ideas for a possible video essay, but none of them exactly stood out to me or I just wasn’t at all passionate about it. Although, there was definitely one subject that I was definitely passionate about and that was Final Fantasy. This isn’t the first time that I based one of my DTC projects off of Final Fantasy (Check out my final animation for Brenda’s Digital Animation class! https://vimeo.com/246894487?autoplay=1), but I was still a little bit hesitant on whether or not I should do a video essay on a video game. In the end, I thought to myself and thought “Why not!” and went along with the idea.

While making this, I certainly had a lot of fun. Of course, it meant I got to play my favorite games in order to get footage, but it also caused me to write down some personal stuff about my life. This series is important to me and I wanted to highlight how it affected my life for the better. It got me through some tough times and even led me to meet the greatest people I’ll probably ever meet. I’m glad that I was able to learn about video essays from this class because it really helped me to show people on how much Final Fantasy means to me.

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HyperCinema

I chose FilmText by Mark Amerika to analyze how hypercinema works and found it to be a truly complex experience. The way that the point-and-click feature allows for interaction between the user and the video is really unique and something that’s difficult to replicate with just normal cinema. You’re able to select any area within the flash and find new text that describes the area. I also really enjoyed how FilmText tells it’s story by integrating HTML and CSS markup language within the text. That adds a layer of complexity by mixing cinema, the real world, and also the digital world all into a singular format.

I would definitely say that these works have narratives because everything that is included within the flash is meant to develop that same narrative. In FilmText‘s case, the things that help this narrative are the distorted audio, loops, and various animations that help to progress the story. In my own opinion, these sorts of aspects are what make FilmText‘s a cinematic experience. Cinema is meant to draw people in from all sorts of perspectives and explores different ways of doing that. It tells stories and experiences and tries to reflect that based on it’s medium. FilmText expands upon the cinematic medium and utilizes different tools, such as flash and point-and-click adventure games, to help convey and further along its narrative. I think that this could be one of the possible futures for cinema where we may see more people create narratives such as these.

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Video Essay – Loops!

I decided to stick with the old prompt and made a video essay on loops. I’m super sorry that there’s no sound! I was having technical issues with my mic.

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Blog Post – Video Essay

When it comes to video essays, I think there’s a lot of liberties and creativity an editor can make in order to get their point across. Text can be used to emphasize keywords and ideas to the audience, and clips from other films can also be utilized as visual evidence. Actually, video essays remind me a lot of power points but just simply with extra movement and sound to make them more interesting.

I actually find video essays to be a great way to discuss ideas. While I do enjoy reading, I find that watching someone get their point across with visuals is more interesting and engaging for the audience. In order to get this same effect through any future video essays that I create, I would want to take some ideas from the videos that we say. During the video essay on Twelve Angry Men, the narrator kept her voice and tone fairly consistent and clear for the audience to understand. Even just mispronouncing a word, or adding filler words such as “um” can ruin the pace of your video essay. Also, as mentioned before, she uses text to emphasize the main ideas.

Even though the video is also fairly short, the point gets across. We know that she is discussing how Twelve Angry Men uses the camera to convey the mood of the film. She consistently pulls actually frames and shots from the movie to pull this off and to support the points that she makes. Another important factor that should be mentioned is that there isn’t an overabundance of effects. She uses just simple montages of clips and text to make her video essay. There’s nothing overtly distracting that would drive the audience’s attention away.

As for my final project, I’m still at a loss…I don’t exactly have a plan on what to do, but hopefully I will soon.

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SKAM blog post

I think the concept of social media interaction while an episode plays isn’t that much of a new idea. In some networked television shows, they’ll occasionally show fan reactions on the bottom (usually in the form of tweets). If you want yourself to get noticed on the show, then all you have to do is post in the designated hashtag. However, with the case of SKAM, they seem to extend on this idea and make interaction with the show more accessible and easier. This actually reminds me a lot of streaming services such as Twitch. In Twitch, people can stream any sort of content they want live, which is mainly video games. Some video gamers will also have a chatroom open and sometimes speak directly to the audience. Of course, in contrast to this, Twitch streams happen live while all of SKAM’s episodes are prerecorded.

With services like these, I think filmmaking companies should take advantage of it in order to interact with their viewers and fans more often. They can listen to praises, critiques, and participate in conversations that are occurring. Also, another idea I have would be to include the actors, directors, and other filmmakers within the chatroom to do a sort of “live” commentary. During certain scenes in the episode, they can discuss with the fans what the idea was behind it and the message that they were attempting to convey. That way viewers are given further insight on the show and can immediately reply what they think about it.

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  1. KC,
    Great subject and you have good visual evidence. But what is missing are the sounds of the classroom. And maybe, if you have a moment of her teaching or engaging with the kids that would make a good opening. Or you could start with her setting up the class – with camera sound – and then her voice comes in. And it could use some moments of teaching in the middle, before she talks about the hardest part of the job.

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Hybrid Space – Glitch

For this assignment I wanted to experiment with the glitch effects that we saw during class. In order to contrast the glitches, I wanted to film a little bit of nature and things you would see in a garden. I thought those two topics would go nicely together as a hybrid of completely different spaces (digital with the natural world).

Also, there was a LOT of trial and error with the glitches and I actually spent hours trying to figure out how to get them right! Many times I corrupted the file too much where the video didn’t work anymore, or too little where there was barely any glitching. However, I learned a lot and I’m definitely interested on expanding on this effect even more.

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Hybrid Spaces – Star Wars Wars

For this week’s post, I decided to cover the video Star Wars Wars as I find it an interesting example of hybrid space. Normally when we watch Star Wars, or any movies that have sequels, we usually watch it one at a time or maybe in sequential order according to the story’s events. However, these people decided to overlap each film onto each other and play them all at once! Now every event within the Star Wars franchise is occurring at the same time and it’s up to the viewer to try and differentiate what is going on.

To Lev Manovich, this may be considered a form of spatial montage, where a series of clips are placed onto the screen at the same time. As Manovich mentions in his article, normally montages were shown to be one clip at a time to simply show a passage of events within a movie. However, thanks to spatial montage we can now see time flow through a movie in a completely different way, “…we now have a new dimension: the position of the images in space in relation to each other.” Using this sort of mindset we can analyze each Star Wars as it’s own clip of montage. Star Wars Wars would then be the spatial montage where we can see epic events of the Star Wars series all happening at once for us to enjoy (even if we can barely tell what’s going on).

This sort of hybrid cinema challenges the way that we normally view filmmaking. Films don’t simply have to be a scene-to-scene story of events, but an artistic and surreal approach towards the passage of time. We can also manipulate the use of space on screen to show multiple clips at once, perhaps to show two simultaneous events or two characters reaction to something. Also, with the use of hybrid cinema, if someone wanted to watch all 6 Star Wars movies but didn’t have the time, you can simply show them this!

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Visual Evidence – Eagle Creek Fire

 

If I were to make a documentary about the Eagle Creek Fire I would want to talk about those whose lives were affected by the fire. There would be different perspectives on the fire coming from different people. For example, there would be interviews with local residents, business owners, and government officials who all lived around the area. The beginning would mainly focus on how their lives were like before the before the fire and then slowly transition into the aftermath. This would be achieved by slowly transitioning the fire into scenes as a way to show the shift in mood and subject. The fire would have been a dramatic change in these people’s lives, so dramatic visual evidence of showing a fire would reflect that tone. Hampe supports this statement by saying, “…visual evidence works to tell your story in visual images” (pg. 91) In this case, the fire is visual evidence as a catastrophe that impacted people’s lives.

Another way to go about this is to also show the actual damage that the fire has caused. When the people being documented are talking about the damages that the fire has done, it would be best to reflect that by showing pictures taken of the aftermath. That way their own statements are being supported and the audience can actually see what the fire has done. What Hampe would would say about is that the when regarding what sort of visual evidence to use, you must consider if they can stand by themselves. For my documentary, my message that I want to get across if how terrible the aftermath of the fire was. Also, the same message can be achieved through monologue while past residents are walking through the damage that the fire has caused.

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Run Lola Run – Post-Continuity Editing

In Run Lola Run, the editing makes used of nonlinear storytelling and time loops and shifting. Throughout the film we see Lola engage of different scenarios of the same event and these scenes are strung together through the use of editing. Every new scenario that Lola goes through is connected through the usage of the phone ringing and by establishing the settings of each scene. Whenever the phone rings, the audience is aware that the same event will happen again, but with minor changes in detail. This greatly contrasts to the typical storytelling structure of Hollywood. In most films, we’re used to the 3-act sequential structure where there’s a beginning, middle, and an end. However, in Run Lola Run, passage of time is all over the place. This can also reflect how chaotic the overall story, which Rombes also agrees with by stating, “Nonlinear captures the chaos of the times.” Although despite this, Run Lola Run still tells a very comprehensible story just through a different style. I would say that this way of editing greatly reflects the way of the digital age. Filmmakers are finding new ways to manipulate time in film and incorporating it into a way to tell a story. As Rombes himself says, “…the different versions of the same event tell the story not only of Lola and her boyfriend Manni, but of the process of nonlinear editing itself, whereby shots and sequences are pieced together in potentially endless configurations, each one telling a slightly (or drastically) different story.”

Time is also manipulated in each scenario that Lola experiences. In the first scenario, we see many long scenes of Lola running, but once a new scenario has started the running scenes are cut down. This could be due to that the audience is already aware of the setting that Lola is interacting in. The only parts that really need to be addressed are the minor changes that take place in the overall event. Some events are even shown side-by-side during the same time to simultaneously show what is occurring as Lola is running throughout the film.

However, Run Lola Run still incorporates editing styles that are used by many Hollywood films. For example, the quick cuts during the running scenes are used to increased the tension of the action within the scene. We can see this style of editing within many popular actions films nowadays.

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Loops

In this GIF from The Shining, we see Jack endlessly playing with a ball by throwing it against a wall. The loop can be interpreted in many different ways and even establish the personality of a character and build upon their narrative. By endlessly throwing the ball, some may see it as the character attempting to release while others may see it as simply a playful act.

This next loop messes with our perception of reality. All of us expect the cup to eventually get full, however that’s not the case here. The slow pouring and the amount of alcohol within the cup forever remains static and could cause discomfort to those who may want to see the glass fill up.

Finally, this last loop helps to establish the narrative of a dog forever chasing a stick. The overall tone of the loop is very playful and particularly humorous because of the dog consistently failing at grabbing the stick.

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Temporal Montage – Routine

For my montage I decided to go with a simple subject which is everyone’s morning and evening routine. I was heavily inspired by the metric montages that we saw in class and decided to experiment with it a bit. Also, I figured that a metric montage would fit with this particular subject since sometimes we feel constrained to our own everyday routines, much like how each shot is limited to only one second.

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Narrative Time

In Scott McCloud’s visual essay he makes several points about how the framing of panel’s can manipulate the reader’s sense of time passage within a comic. The best example that I think he gives is how a larger panel can give the reader a larger sense of time.

In this case, this panel:

can show convey more time passing rather than this panel:

Even if there are more than one speech bubble within a single comic strip, we can still understand that everyone in the panel isn’t saying everything at once. Rather, the way we read (from left-to-right) helps us indicate the order that the conversation is happening.

A lot of the points that McCloud brings up reminds me of storyboards for cinema. While films themselves don’t work the same way as comics do, some start out almost exactly the same as them. Storyboard artists have to figure out ways on how to translate their drawings onto the big screen and sometimes the use of panels can help reflect the passage of time that is suppose to occur on the screen. However, I still think that there are many possibilities in which many of McCloud’s discussions can be transferred onto cinematography. For example, some scenes could use smaller frames for spoken dialogue and if an actor needs a moment to pause, a much larger frame could be used. Another possible way is through an establishing shot where we see a crowd engaging in an conversation. The shot could pan through each conversation, highlighting each of the character’s personalities while also showing us the scene that’s about to start.

Uses of panels can also come into play as well. Panels in comics can be used to highlight important moments in the story and that could be translated into film as well. Small panels on the screen could convey important emotions that the characters are feeling or help the audience see important details within the scene. The most important thing to remember is that don’t limit yourselves when it comes to filmmaking. There are infinite ways to help shape your story and shape your narrative.

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Continuity

For my assignment I decided to do a fairly simple activity that I do practically everyday, making coffee! Also, since this assignment required very little talking and acting I decided to film most of my shots so that you barely see the person. Along with that, many of the frames are also shown to be almost in the point of view of the person so that the audience can focus on the activity instead.

I had run into some problems while filming this assignment, but some actually turned out to be fairly helpful. The scene where it shows that my keurig was out of water happened completely by accident. At first, I simply expected that the coffee would come out but that unfortunate mistake actually helped me add a few more scenes into my assignment! However, there was a problem that I had come by and that was trying to find the proper way to show me pouring the water into the keurig. Unfortunately, my keurig is in a very tight corner in the kitchen and I had to shoot myself pouring water from many, many various angles and the one that made it was the only good one that I could find. Also, trying to film by only showing my arms was fairly difficult. In some scenes I had to adjust the camera many times in order to show the subject (the coffee), but also have enough movement where the viewer would be able to understand what was happening.

Another part I would have liked to edited further was the pan shot. I have very shaky hands and always find it nearly impossible to keep my camera still. I also couldn’t use my tripod in order to do that shot since there was no stable ground for it to be on. However, I still think some good came out of that shot and gave a good POV of the character (which is me in this case). Also, it was very unintentional, but I noticed that one of the coffee cups says “Don’t do stupid stuff!” which adds a little bit of humor to that scene. In the future, I would definitely like to create better and smoother pan shots so that the shakiness won’t ruin the overall effect of the shot. Hopefully this is something that can be improved with better techniques or even equipment.

Also, I had planned for my video to be much longer than the final product. Initially, I had also filmed scenes of getting cream and a spoon to help stir the coffee, but the time limit on the assignment forced me to cut it down. I had to look through all my footage and decide what I had to cut and what should stayed and by the end I simply stuck with ending it with me drinking the coffee. After this class I would like to edit this later with every scene that I had shot, but I think that the end result is still fairly fine.

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  1. KC, this is a good example of following clear actions, but many of the shots are actually discontinuous shots. I think the reason you don’t have many continuity cuts is because you are following the action with tight close-ups – action to action. There is nothing wrong with this style, but continuity would include more if the subject in the kitchen with a variety of distances and angles. Hard to do when shooting yourself!

    1. Oh okay, I wasn’t quite sure if the subject would be the coffee or myself but thank you for clearing that up! I’ll keep that in mind when making more continuity shots.

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Who Dunnit?

For this first assignment I tried to create a story of an aftermath. I wanted to experiment a bit with some different angles of locations around my house. There was a lot of difficulty trying to film the last few end scenes because my cat kept wanting to move around everywhere! Luckily I was able to coax him with a few treats and managed to get some decent shots for the very end. Also, the reason why I added music was because there was too much background noise and made some of the scenes feel inconsistent with the constant changing of noises. I figured that adding a simple background music would fix that and managed to find something that fit the tone of this film. Although, I also have to apologize for the slight shakiness, the tripod that I was using wasn’t very stable and kept moving ever so slightly in almost every scene… Along with the shakiness, I’m still trying to relearn on how to use a camera again. The last time I even recorded with a camcorder was probably back in middle school, so there’s a lot that I need to relearn all over again. There’s definitely still a lot of room for improvement and I’m willing to take any criticism to help get better! However, I did consider this assignment a great practice run on how to get back into filming. Hopefully I improve more over the semester and my filmmaking skills become more skillful and polished for the final project.

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Framing Blog Post

The scene that I decided to analyze was the Inception dream hallway fight scene. There’s a lot happening in this scene, so I decided to mainly focus on whats happening within the hallway. In the beginning, we see medium shots of the subject to help establish his mood and demeanor before the coming fight. From these frames we can see that he’s fairly calm. Suddenly, when more people enter the scene, the shots begin to shift and focus on both of the actors. Throughout the entire fight almost every frame are two shots to help show the struggle that the subjects are having when fighting against each other. Another point that I would like to make is that the fighting tries to stay within the center of the frame. Despite the entire hallway moving due to the lack of gravity, everything remains fairly center so that we can stay focused on the subject at hand. However, once the fight ends up within the hotel room, the angle becomes lower. This is done to show how the antagonist of the scene is overpowering the protagonist. It’s also worth noting that throughout this entire scene we see close-ups of the gun being moved around the area and how both parties have been trying to get it. This all comes into play once we get one final close-up of the gun which lets up know that the protagonist is able to finally grab it. After this, the other subject is given one last low angle to show off his threat before he’s finally gunned down in the end. Despite how fast and elaborate this entire scene is, it’s fairly easy to follow. Christopher Nolan took great lengths in order to achieve this scene and it’s still regarded as one of the best choreographed fight scenes.

MCU

M

Over-the-shoulder Two Shot

Two Shot

Two Shot

Low Angle

CU

Low Angle

Two-shot

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Pocket Cinema

With the rise of films now being made with iPhones, I would say that filmmaking is becoming more accessible to the general public. Compared to most major films, there is a big difference in quality, however that doesn’t mean that they’re not well made. I wouldn’t doubt that it would become one of the iPhone’s goals to make films as well as major pictures which seems to be what some filmmakers are striving towards. Although, when make a film with an iPhone, it does allow for some certain features that some expensive cameras may not achieve. For example, iPhones can create more seemingly “real” and “personal” shots as compared to big blockbuster movies which heavily rely on CGI and green screens. Most of the shots seem much more close because the small shape of a phone allows for the camera person to get as close as they need to.

Some automatisms that can also come with an iPhone is that it allows for the user to make vertical shots. If you were simply to turn a movie camera around, the overall height and width size would remain the same. As I also mentioned before, iPhones allow for more proximity to certain shots considering it’s small size and mobility. Some shots that would make it difficult for a normal camera to reach can be easily done by a phone’s camera. There’s even some applications available on online stores which can help edit your videos! They may not be as elaborate as After Effects or Premiere Pro, but they can help with simple tasks such as removing shots and rearranging some footage.

With all of these huge strives that iPhones have made over the past few years, almost anyone can become a filmmaker. Decades ago, if you wanted to create your own films you would have to go down to Hollywood and pray that you would eventually get a job down there. However, nowadays it’s much cheaper because you can simply purchase a phone and you have almost every tool you need to make your own personal films. It’s even easier for filmmakers to share their work with the rise of the internet as well. If you want your films to be noticed all you have to do is upload it, promote it on some websites, and maybe some users will see it. Pocket cinema and iPhones have opened a lot of doors for people who are interested in the film industry.

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Introduction

Hello everyone! My name is KC Johnson and I’m currently a senior at WSU with a double major in DTC and Psychology. I have a little bit of background in film and video and have made my own videos in the past, both for fun and for my DTC classes. I’ve also taken some film studies courses as well, however they mainly focused on the storytelling and cultural impact of various films. I’m interested in taking this class to learn different styles of filmmaking and also how to utilize those styles in practice.

If I were to pick one clip or short film that greatly inspires me it would probably have to be this short fan film on the Portal series. I really like any sort of filmmaking style that utilizes minimal dialogue and takes advantage of the surrounding environment and actor’s facial expression as a way to tell a story. I think it takes a great amount of talent if barely any of the actors speak and you’re able to understand what the story is trying to say. Also, any sort of dramatic shots or angles are a huge favorite of mine because I love how they set the overall tone of a film.

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