Blog Post 11: Storytelling

Ira Glass explains storytelling in a basic and digestible way. He includes two main building blocks. First, is the importance of an anecdote, which he explains is simply a sequence of events. One event or action happens, which leads to another and continues and continues and that momentum builds a storyline. This method made me think of my story and how to think of each scene in smaller pieces that can work off each other. Each section slowly building to the next and hopefully raising questions along the way.

He refers to those questions as bait; and it’s implied that all questions raised should be answered. I think that is something important to remember. The mindset of trying to make your events have a reason and meaning for taking place.

The second building block that Ira Glass talks about is the moment of reflection. This is the part that should explains some of the events that happened earlier in the story. In my final, I’m going to try to implement these concepts and attempt to make sure the anecdote supports the reflection.

JJ Abrams’s video helped reminded me that mystery in a story can engage our imagination. Intentionally withholding information can help generate questions and thought, while building the anecdote. It keeps the audience wondering what will happen next. In terms of my final project it also reminded me to try to spend some attention on building the main character. The character will help make a compelling story.

Blog Post 10: Pry

I have to agree that Pry is the beginning of a new form of storytelling. I am enjoying Twine, however, Pry was such an intriguing, creative and immersive experience. I can already see the potential for other stories and concepts in this format.

The first section I enjoyed was navigating through the inner and outer world of James’s mind while he was waking up. This was the first sequence of events that ignited my interests in discovering the backstory. I wanted to know who the shadowy figure was that snuck into the room and seemed to have attacked James. Exploring the screen inward displayed a PTSD dream like view.

The second section that I thought was very unique was the section on Esau and Jacob. I still don’t understand how that chapter connects with the rest of the story, but I was very impressed how audio, video and images were displayed as you ran your finger across the screen as if it was digital braille. It was even synched to the navigation speed of your finger.

Luke seemed to be one of the main characters in the story but wasn’t completely explained who he was until chapter 6 “Dhahran, Saudi Arabia”. This chapter had another intriguing feature. The story literally unfolded in this chapter. I was very impressed how the text could be expanded to reveal new information and even split into a visual fragmented memory.

The story unraveled even further in the next chapter and explained why James feels so upset and guilty about what happened to Jessie. If he wasn’t so jealous and told on Jessie for fooling around with Luke, she would have joined the poker game and would not been outside during the bombing. This guilt seemed to be the premise of the story. Overall a great experience and exploration of a new medium.

Blog Post 9: Story & Games

One of the scariest games I can remember playing as a kid was the original Resident Evil for PlayStation 1. The plot follows a character named Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine who are members of an elite task force know as S.T.A.R.S. They are sent to investigate the disappearance of a team member and in doing so, they become trapped in a gigantic mansion infested with zombies and other types of monsters.

The mansion is dark and the camera angles for the entire game are fixed, usually in the corners of rooms simulating that of a security camera. Trying to kill and evade zombies actually happens less than you would expect. The majority of the game is really a giant puzzle as you discover hidden clues, find keys, pick locks and try to find a way to escape.

The house is full typewriters, letters and inconspicuous messages that further devolve the story and help make sense of the haunting mystery. It forces you think outside the box and try to make connections between letters, clues and items in the mansion.

Everything in the house seemed to have the potential to be important. The game is basically like a giant multifaceted escape room and that really engaged my curiously and imagination. I don’t believe the game has an overarching subliminal real-life message that I know of. I just think it is a great game that is intellectually challenging, maintains a steady level of suspense and forces you to interact to piece together the story.

Often, I would get lost in a puzzle section and actually forget that zombies were still a part of the game; which would cause everyone watching in the room to scream. Those were some of the best moment to share with friends and family.

Blog Post 8: Symbol, Index & Icons

After exploring some of the works in the Symbol, Index & Icons module, I chose “Inanimate Alice” by Kate Pullinger to explore in more depth. The premise of the story was very clear from the start. Alice is eight years old and her Dad was supposed to be home from a trip two days ago but is still missing. The next scene started with some suspenseful music and displayed three looping videos of a jeep driving through a mountainous desert. The music and motion really caught my attention and lured me into continuing.

Polaroid pictures were then introduced to help develop the story. I though those were the first introduction of symbols until I realized that each time you advanced to the next scene; an icon would display in the top right corner symbolizing that section as a chapter. Those chapters were also clickable and could be used as a reference to refer back to. An image of a yurt accompanied by a floor plan of a yurt helped explain that Alice was referring to the yurt as their home.

A lot of the story was shown through Alice’s ba-xi which looks like an older style Gameboy or digital pocket planner of some sort. On here it showed icons of things she would enjoy doing instead of worrying about her lost father and being on a very long drive. Things like drawling, listening to music, skateboarding all of these icons being shown on her ba-xi.

The icons and system of signs helped the narration by providing small samples of an area or object that helped my imagination develop the scene. Even though there were not many large and clear pictures to display the exact surroundings, the symbols were enough to conceptually create a story.

Blog Post 7: Hypertext & Hypermedia

It was difficult trying to narrow down only two hypertext and hyper media works that appealed to me most. Initially I thought I was going to write about “How to Rob a Bank” by Alan Bigelow. His work made me realize, that what I’m attracted to most is when the author gives the reader options and authority to navigate and choose our own path (or at least make us feel like we do).

With Those We Love Alive, introduced me to some new possibilities with Twine. I specifically enjoyed how the purple links create change and allow you to cycle through words before deciding. The pink links move the story forward and I think having these different options is what kept me imaginatively engaged. The unique structure and many options to explore (or ignore) drove the narrative forward and made me want to discover new possibilities. The sound and color choices created a somber feeling and created a feeling of loneliness.

The other work I enjoyed was “Deviant: The Possession of Christian Shaw” by Donna Leishman. I recognized the artwork and realized that I’ve explored some of her slightly earlier work called “Red Riding Hood”. Very similar style, just a different story. I wouldn’t consider this a coherent story world as it seems to keep you constantly guessing. Clicking on visuals is how you navigate and try to discover hidden clues. In fact, I enjoyed how the work was presented almost exclusively in a non-textual way.

What kept me engaged was realizing that some clickable possibilities are cut off after choosing others. Forcing you to contemplate if you made the right decision and what potential opportunities your next decision might remove.

Blog Post 6: An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

Watching the film “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” before reading the short story by Ambrose Bierce left me with a few questions. Question like, who was this man and what did he do to be hanged, who was the woman he was remembering in his head, how far away did he live from the Owl Creek Bridge if he was to escape? These questions were not really answered in the film and were left up to the viewers interpretation. The short story, (like most books compared to a film version) provided much more details to answer these questions.

During the film I enjoyed the cinematography and sounds. I noticed the film starting out with several long shots, medium long, medium and then several closeups of Peyton Farquhar.

After Peyton fell into the water, I noticed some point of view shots as well. The camera was focused on his face while he was looking up at the bridge, which made me wonder if the soldiers deemed him dead or needed more confirmation and would unleash a storm of bullets.

In the short story, Ambrose Bierce provided much more backstory and detail. He explained Peyton Farquhar was a farmer, had a wife and kids, was a slave owner and was dedicated to the Southern cause. The story also provided how he got involved at the Owl Creek Bride as he was going to try to set it on fire to prevent the Union from advancing further south.

I think the film removed these details in attempt to not distract the viewer with information that wasn’t exactly necessary. The film was focused more on suspense, memories, sounds, feelings and appreciation of life and how we dream about it right before it is taken away.

5 Photo Story – Blog Post #5

 

In this 5 photo story, I attempt to arouse the ominous and uncomfortable feeling that someone or something is lurking nearby. However, for the last panel, instead of providing a close up of the subjects face in panic, I decided to add some humor and show that the fear was just the subjects pet all along. In the reading, I enjoyed learning about the Japanese mainstream style of establishing a mood and sense of place, usually with aspect-to-aspect transitions. I’m not positive if the first 3 transitions in this story are too long to be considered moment-to-moment and if the last one would be considered subject-to-subject. The main subject in this story is actually in every panel and I believe that subject-to-subject needs to transition from one to the other. So my story might be an exaggerated version of moment-to-moment with a sense of aspect-to-aspect.

– Ceenan Calzadilla

Blog Post #4 – Understanding Comics

The reading of Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics shed light on topics I’ve been eager to explore deeper. Some of these areas, I conceptually understood but found it very helpful to see examples and learn the true definitions.
First was learning about closure; the concept of observing the parts of a panel but perceiving the whole.
The more I learn about storytelling and art in general, I’ve realized that the works that I enjoy most are the ones that force me to think and allow me to use my imagination in attempt to complete the message. McCloud describes it:

“A medium where the audience is a willing and conscious collaborator and closure is the agent of change, time and motion”.

I think this concept is powerful and can provide anticipation and help keep the audience stay engaged.
Being deliberately ambiguous is an exercise I’m going to try to keep developing. With that being said, McCloud also points out the danger of letting the reader fall into confusion or boredom; so, it is a balance that needs to be carefully thought out.

The second area I really enjoyed was the section on time and motion. Motion in photography has been a technique I have been playing around with on and off for a few years now. Most commonly I’ve shot long exposures recording the motion of clouds behind a still landscape or cityscape. After reading the last few pages in the Time Frames chapter and seeing how impactful the introduction of motion was to comics; it rekindled my interest. I think motion with characters is intriguing and is something I’ve been wanted to experiment more with. The readings have sparked some ideas and I’d like to try to incorporate that in the next project and/or possibly on the final project. I think a sharply focused still subject combined with the blur of motions, not only is challenging but also renders some interesting contrast and often evokes an ominous mood and feel.

Example of a photo I took capturing motion.

“But eyes, like storms, can change direction!”.

This is a quote I particularly enjoyed after seeing an example of a panels that could be read in different ways (i.e. a combination of left to right and/or top down) and each option offering a different outcome. I think the possibility of two readers experiencing the same story but having different endings is intriguing and fun. This concept gave rise to the possibility of doing a choose your own adventure Twine story as a final.

– Ceenan Calzadilla