scottallen

Scott Allen

Final Project for Digital Cinema Fall 2017

 

Creative burnouts happen at the most inopportune times. It just so happens that I was experiencing one this semester, and it really took a toll on my final project for this class. I originally wanted to create a video about how difficult it is to deal with sensory input when I am reading. However, as I was planning out the project I realized that my vision could not be expressed in a simple video and required a lot more special effects than I was capable of. Weeks went by while I tried to beat an idea out of my head. I had gone to a few locations and shot some random footage, hoping for any kind of spark of inspiration, but I ended up with nothing. For a brief moment, I played with the idea of doing a short biopic of myself, or something that captured my frustration of the semester, but both of these ideas felt flat and unappealing. A week before the rough cut was due, it was suggested by Will Luers that I write about the creative block I was experiencing, as well as to put my footage together and try to write a story to the images. The result was my final project titled “Creative Blocks are AWFUL”.

 

The video takes you through my typical creative process, which rarely fails me. I knew that I wanted to show variety in my attempts to come up with an idea for my final project and three sounded like a good number to illustrate this with. It provides just enough variety to keep it interesting and is short enough to make it fit into the 3-5 minute range. I already had footage from the playground and the lakeside park, and the Christmas light display had just been put up, so I decided to make that my final location. The lights also provided inspiration for the swirling colors that appear while I’m on the couch. The light display had lasers projecting onto a wall of trees that looked really interesting if you were directly below them, looking up. I set my camera up to record this and then used the color key effect in Premiere Pro to remove the black and just leave the moving colors, which provided a perfect visual illustration for what I see.

 

Tempo was also something I knew I wanted to play with. The beginning of the video starts off relatively slow and easy, and then each location I visit is shown for a shorter amount of time than the last. Each scene also has at least one time-lapse in it to illustrate time moving quickly. My narration also shortens and becomes more frustrated as the video moves forward. This was all meant to induce a sense of urgency to get the project completed by the deadline.

 

The music in the video is from epidemicsound.com. They are a music service aimed at providing the YouTube creator community with quality music for their videos. The music is royalty free and as long as the video is uploaded while you have an active subscription to the service, you can monetize and distribute your video forever. I took advantage of the free 30 day trial specifically for this final project and it helped make searching for music very easy and worry-free.

 

The editing between the rough and final cut is minor. There were a couple clips that I felt lingered a little too long, so I shortened them. I also smoothed out the transition of the music between the scenes and edited my voice over to reduce the fuzzy background sound. It was originally suggested I add something at the end of the video to show that my search for a final project became my final project. I played with the idea of recording my screen while the video uploaded to YouTube, but in the end, I felt like that didn’t make sense since I never talked specifically about the project in the video. Overall, I enjoyed the process of creating this project. I like the idea of shooting everything and then writing a story to the footage later and have even been contemplating creating a YouTube channel from this idea to keep my video skills evolving.

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  1. This is my favorite video:) I love the idea that it’s all about being stuck on an idea and trying to find it by trying different things or going to different place. Great work on the narrations and the B-roll. Well done:)

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Hyperlinked Video

For my hyperlinked video I have the viewer build a peanut butter & jelly sandwich by clicking on the ingredients in the video. The video has two timelines that diverge when the viewer decides whether they want to put the peanut butter or the jelly on the sandwich first. If I could do this project over I would include more options and timelines to make it a little more interesting, like adding a drink and/or side dish.

 

Hyperlinked Video Here

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Video Essays

Video essays have always been a great learning tool, ask any grade school student what one of their favorite things to do in class is and they’ll probably tell you that it’s watching a movie. Moving pictures have always captivated the attention of people, and today no one can remember a time when they didn’t include audio. When we overlay audio, in the form of speaking, onto video we open doorways in the thought process of the viewer. The viewer can be introduced to new thoughts and ideas that are reinforced by the visuals, allowing people to explore a topic from multiple angles at the same time and give them a more refined understanding. Additionally, sometimes information can be better explained through a visual, and sometimes it can be better explained through spoken word. This also lends itself to why video essays make such a great learning tool. A concept delivered verbally can be reinforced through visuals and a concept delivered visually can be explained verbally. That very reinforcement, the ability of the video essay to force us to think about something in two different way, is what makes it so compelling.

 

For my final project, I want to present a video that conveys what sensory stimulation can do for an introverted thinker. I think I can accurately convey this through spacial montages and hybrid spaces along with other special effects. My first step is to figure out exactly how I want to convey the stimulation and from there figure out where I will need to shoot and if I need any actors.

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Interactive Cinema

Weaving a narrative into a database can be a very tricky task. A narrative needs to be able to tell a story in a way that makes sense, and a database can be organized in a variety of ways which destroys the chances of a completely linear narrative. TheWhaleHunt.org is a website that has overcome this challenge by utilizing time as its method of telling a story. With 3214 photographs all placed into chronological order, no matter how the database is organized it tells the story of a group of people going whale hunting. To allow us to explore further, we are given a variety of options such as being able to sort the photos by who is in them (cast), what activity is going on in the photo (concept), the setting of the photo (context), or the amount of time between each photo (cadence). The photos display as a slideshow and we are also given the option to pause the slideshow and move backward or forwards one slide at a time. This really gives the viewer complete control over reviewing the day and joining in the experience that the people in the photos had.

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Hobby Profile

For this assignment, I chose to focus on someone who enjoys baking bread. I enjoyed the interviewing process and shooting footage of the event, I was well prepared and got way more footage than necessary for a 2-minute video but because of this I had a lot to work with, almost on the verge of too much. What I found to be most difficult about the assignment was sewing the interview together with the footage. I had the idea of a passionate home baker, but instead, my subject spoke very scientifically about his process and if I had added it into the video, it would have made it much longer. If there was anything I would have done differently it would have been to try and find a more open kitchen, I was very confined by the counter he was working at and could not maneuver around the subject very well or very quickly. I also realized when I had completed the video that I failed to include any of the actual interview footage into the video, but to be honest it didn’t really fit, which may be what my sub-conscience was telling me.

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Successful @ YouTube

I have to admit, I wasn’t a huge YouTube viewer until about a year ago when I discovered the vast array of Adobe tutorial videos. Since then, I have found quite a few successful YouTube accounts that I subscribe to and keep an eye on. These channels all deliver three things that I think are important in order to deliver successful content. First, it has to be entertaining. I’ve seen so many videos with the host speaking in a monotone voice, no inflection, no passion behind the words they’re speaking. I give these videos about 10 seconds before I am searching for something else on the same topic. Second, the content has to deliver something and I view this like a transaction. At a store, in exchange for money, I get a product or a service. The same applies to YouTube, except replace money with time and products and services for something else of value. In exchange for my time, I need to be getting something out of viewing the content, it could be information or even pure entertainment, but there has to be an exchange taking place. Third, the videos need to have a clear effort put into them. If I get *really* bad audio, messy rooms, or bad video I am immediately moving on to someone who I perceive cares more about their content.

 

I have been following a YouTuber by the name of Aaron Nace for almost a year now. He does excellent Photoshop tutorials on just about everything you could want to learn in the program. In addition to his YouTube success, he has built a business and sells pro level photoshop tutorials, custom brushes, and more. He named his business Phlearn and has created a sense of belonging and community for his Phamily. With more than 1.4 million YouTube subscribers, Aaron has really proven himself as a professional YouTuber.

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Hybrid Cinema

 

I was able to combine some footage from my hobby profile assignment with a free clip I found online of a bonfire. I combined them to represent the temperature inside of the oven that was being used to bake with. I had some issues with the masking of the oven window but was able to make most of it work, I figured out that you can use more than one key color on a single clip and also utilized the mask to prevent areas from showing through that weren’t supposed to. This is definitely an area I would like to explore and play more with.

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What is digital cinema?

In today’s world, we are not limited to the constraints of reality when it comes to digital cinema. The emergence of digital technologies has allowed us to treat captured video as an element of our finished product instead of it being the finished product its self. Lev Manovich explores this in his paper titled What is Digital Cinema?. Manovich explains that filming reality is only one of an infinite number of elements that can go into a piece of work. He discusses that the shift to digital cinema was driven by the addition of special effects since the live-action footage is no longer necessary due to the emergence of 3D computer animation, and since everything is made up of pixels it has become very easy to alter everything and anything we want to assist with telling our stories. Manovich uses the term “elastic reality” to describe “something that looks as if it is intended to look exactly as if it could have happened, although it really could not”, and this can be seen in most modern Hollywood films today. This is not the only practical use of these advancements, however. 

 

The manipulation of digital images can be pushed as far as the imagination can take it. In the “Star Wars Wars” film, all 6 of the released films in the Star Wars franchise were overlayed on top of each other, revealing bits and pieces of each film in each frame. While this may not make sense, it does show us that the affordances of digital technology allow us to create a new space in which all six films can live simultaneously, something that was previously not possible. Yorgo Alexopoulos’s video, No feeling is final; in five chapters, 2010, also creates a new space, but through a more neatly laid out montage of images that relate to one another. Yorgo is able to combine many different images of nature and lead us through his montage by utilizing the divided space of the screen on which it is being shown by transitioning images in an out of view. The segmented squares give him the ability to utilize only one at a time, or many at a time to convey size differences that draw our eyes to where it needs to go.

 

I enjoyed the formula that Manovich gave to describe what digital film is, “digital film = live action material + painting + image processing + compositing + 2D computer animation + 3D computer animation”. I had never thought of cinema as a complete digital hybrid of so many forms of art, but it truly is. Once again the digital world opens the doors to a realm of infinite possibility to explored. So often we are afraid of venturing off the known path, but it is these adventures in experimentation with all of the abilities afforded to us that result in new and unexpected beauty.

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Movie Trailer Remix

Originally I had an idea to film my two cats and put together a spatial montage where they would run in and out of different frames on the screen but after two days of shooting with very little results, I had to scrap the idea, and then I decided to go with the option for the remixed movie trailer. Using clips from Fast times at Ridgemont High, The Wizard, and Uncle Buck I tried to paint a new picture of the film focusing on the antics of Jeff Spicoli, the token stoner played by a young Sean Penn. I chose movies from the 80’s to try and keep the feel of all the scenes seamless and chose music that was already in one of the trailers.

 

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Visual Evidence

One of the main points that stuck out to me during the assigned reading this week was the author’s insistence that each individual shot has to say something, has to provide something to the story you are trying to tell and has to make sense for the viewer. My assumption has always been that when doing interviews, the person being interviewed was the most important thing. I can now see that this is incorrect. The interviewee is a very important element to the video, but the visuals must provide the evidence that what they are saying is true. B-roll is also helpful in order to illustrate settings or ideas and to provide something more visually stimulating than a talking head.

My idea for the Eagle Creek fire story would be to interview someone I know who has a fruit farm in Hood River, OR. Her farm was not consumed by the fire, but she was in a level 2 evacuation zone. I would have her recount her thoughts and feelings at the possibility of losing everything she had worked her entire life for. During her interview, I would use shots of the farm, the barns, the orchards, and the house she lives in, with her vocal interview played over the images. Some good b-roll would be her walking through the orchards and picking fruit in order to illustrate her commitment to her farm, shots of her looking up into the hills that were on fire, with a worried expression, and footage of the charred forest near her home.

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Failed loops

So, in my attempt at the loop assignment, I learned a few things. First, when looping something moving, the action has to match perfectly or it won’t work unless it leaves the screen. Second, it needed to be longer. In order to fix problem number one, I had to use such a small period of time (less than one second) in order to get the actions to somewhat match. This, in turn, created something un-loopable because it was far too quick. Third, because the clip was too fast, I was forced to save this as a .gif file, which didn’t work out any better. All the rest of my footage is based on the same concept, and the actions are too short and quick to turn into loops. I didn’t think enough about the transitions which make loops, loops. I will try again and post more attempts in the next couple of days.

 

(Click to view .gif animation)

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Run Lola Run

One of the major themes in Run Lola Run is time. It’s used in multiple and interesting ways throughout the entirety of the movie, such as time dilation, time constriction, and reworking of time. Nicholas Rombes, in his book, entitled Cinema in the Digital Age, states “Cinema could penetrate ever deeper into reality by destroying familiar ways of seeing, by challenging the very frameworks of the real.” and Run Lola Run is a good example of this. During the course of the movie, we see the same events happen in three different ways, all related to the time in which Lola starts running. Minor characters have different futures written for them depending on the events that take place only seconds away from each other, and these futures are shown in quick snapshots reminiscent of Polaroid photographs. Since these characters are not directly related to the main story, these shots are quick and their story is told within seconds with only important detail shown. When it comes to encounters that are related to the main story, time moves slower and we are given more details.

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Continuity Video

For my continuity video, I attempted to play a game of poker with a surprise guest. I started by storyboarding out the entire scene and then splitting everything up based on which angles it needed to be shot from and/or which lens I was using for the particular shot. I found that I had the most trouble when it came to editing. Trying to cut down my shots into 30 seconds was a challenge and in the end, I feel like the middle of the video progressed too quickly. Unfortunately, I could not correct this because I ran out of usable footage, next time I will shoot more even if I think I have what I need.

 

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Cinemagraphs explored.

I like this cinemagraph because it does a great job of conveying movement and time that happens outside of our field of vision. We can only look and focus on one thing at a time, but there is a lot of other stuff happening beyond what we see.

 

This cinemagraph utilizes the clock gears as a great way to show the passage of time.

 

This one also portrays the passage of time, but also of power and a foreboding future.

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Narrative Spaces

The scene I chose for this post is from the Disney classic, Bedknobs & Broomsticks. The particular scene I chose is when the main protagonist, Ms. Price, rides her broom for the first time. The scene starts in her room where she is reviewing the instructions with her cat watching from across the room. Through a variety of close ups and medium length shots, we are left feeling the confinement of the room. She then flys out the window with a series of long and extremely long shots to get a sense of open air. We get a couple medium shots of the cat looking up into the sky, as well as of the kids watching her fly (and fall). And finally, the scene is finished with an extreme long shot of Ms. Price as the kids watch her emerge from the bushes from afar.

 

Medium Shot

 

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Medium Close Up

 

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Close Up

 

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Medium Close Up

 

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Medium Close Up

 

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Extreme Long Shot

 

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Medium Close Up

 

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Medium Close Up

 

Extreme Long Shot

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What was Cinema? – Reading Response

Art forms are always evolving. Someone starts to experiment with new ways to manipulate or combine their chosen medium(s) and voila, a new art form is born. Cinema is no exception. Cinema is the original moving picture and as such is at the root of all moving pictures today, whether they be on film or captured digitally. In “What was Cinema?”, the author, D.N. Rodowick, states “The birth of film studies is concomitant with the death of cinema.” and that may or may not be true depending on how you look at it. Of course, we can look at it as original cinema dying, but is it because it’s old hat? Or is it because more artists have taken it on as their medium of choice, and it has since grown and evolved. It seems pretty standard that anything humans do, especially repetitively, will eventually be studied. When we study something, we learn more, see more, and then begin to manipulate in new and interesting ways. Today, we see how cinema has evolved and branched into many different styles for many different purposes, and having gone digital has helped this evolution tremendously by putting the power of recording moving images in the hands of nearly everyone. By doing this we are able to connect with and learn from people on a larger scale, in a more natural way. The written word has traditionally been the vessel we use to distribute information on a wide scale, by why? It’s because we had no other method until now. Humans have evolved to speak because it is the most natural form of communication. Digital video opens new doors of communication by allowing us to not only view moving images but listen to them as well. Through the double act of viewing and listening, we communicate on a level in which more people can listen and understand. Is cinema dead? In its original form, yes, but it will remain ever present at the root of digital video as we master these new forms of cinema.

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Scott A. Intro Post

My name is Scott and I have very little experience with video. My only experience so far is from DTC 201 where I made a 3-minute remix video using other videos found online. I am really interested in learning how to utilize video in order to tell stories in a new way, as well as gain experience capturing footage and using Adobe Premier Pro and After Effects. I am posting one of my most recent favorite videos I’ve found on YouTube lately, “Ink in Motion” by Macro Room. The beautiful images combined with the music is pure bliss to me. I hope you check it out, enjoy!

 

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