I spy..

Introduction

For my scene I decided to watch a scene from Batman which features the Joker.

First Time Watching (No Sound)

The scene starts off with the Joker walking in to what appears to be some type of underground cellar and talking to a group of men. The lighting is very dark and the men are dressed in nice clothing. The camera has many shots and uses a shot reverse shot multiple times. I noticed in my first viewing that the Joker got the most screen time out of the entire scene (probably because he is one of the main characters and the others aren’t) and even when the shot changed to show a different character it would still show him somewhat. Around the 2:30 mark I think the scene features a lot of noise and yelling as the Joker pulls back his coat to reveal grenades but it was dulled due to the lack of sound in my viewing. At the end the Joker stealthily walks backward so the scene starts and ends with the Joker coming and going.

Second Time (No Video)

The beginning of this viewing was a little confusing because it is odd noises at the beginning. It is also harder to keep track of all the different characters by just their voices when the video better shows who they’re talking to.
Now turn the volume up, but play it without looking at the screen (or turn off the screen); just listen to the audio. The Joker talks in a very strange sound and talks at a faster than normal pace. I think this scene also has a good use of background noise such as the nickel reference and then coins jingling. Also the chairs being pushed back so that someone is upset and the situation is getting tense. This scene starts with the Joker laughing but just ends with the door being slammed.

Third Time (Regular)

I think somethings that are missed when not watching with both noise and video is subtle things such as the smirks and facial expressions the mobsters have in response to what the Joker is saying so you can understand more. Also his response to the ‘television’s plan’ is missed during both the video and audio viewings. Watching normally also shows the true craziness, but genius of the Joker. It also shows how the Joker knows how to keep control of his emotions and play his audience. I also think the music had little effect in the audio viewing but works well here to build suspense since we better understand what is going on.

Overall

Some ways I can analyze this using Roger Ebert’s “How to Read a Movie” such as his description the “golden rule” and “the rule of thirds” when he shows the characters. The Joker is mostly shown with him in the middle of the shot such as in an “objectified, like a mug shot” manner and this works since he is the main protagonist of the film so he would be the criminal to be arrested. The mobsters in the scene vary between the left and right side. The main gangster who gets upset after the Joker makes his nickel joke goes from being on the right side of the screen at the beginning which shows that he is a more positive character to the left side of the screen after the joke which shows he has become more of a negative character as he becomes more aggressive. The man on the tv screen is also shown dead center which leads me to believe he is the ring leader of the mobsters and is also a main antagonist. I think this scene does a good job of showing subtle things that really add into the movie and build up later. Also the Joker does a good job of balancing crazy with sane/brilliant due to his appearance and voiced mixed with what he is actually saying to the mobsters. The Joker knows how to manipulate them to help him later and that seems to be the main purpose of this scene.

Disclaimer: I haven’t actually seen this movie so comment if my predictions were totally wrong.

Am I reading a book or watching a movie?

Prior to this class I also took a cinema studies class at the University of Mary Washington where I was shown many different methods of analyzing film. Reading Roger Ebert’s “How to Read a Movie” also discusses some of the same methods we touched upon in class. On top of this reading I also watched Kubrick’s One-Point Perspective , “The Shining” Zooms, and Star Wars Continuity Mistakes .

From the Ebert reading it discussed the “rule of thirds” and “the golden rule” which explained how the positioning of characters on the screen affects how they are perceived. Characters on the left are negative while those on the right are positive and those dead center are seen as “objectified”. I think this is somewhat true of a technique and I feel it may originate from people reading from left to right and since most people are right handed they prefer those on the right.

I’m a big fan of Kubrick movies such as ‘Full Metal Jacket’ and ‘The Shining’ so When watching the Kubrick video I was shocked I had never noticed the perspective so many scenes were shot in. I think this type of shot allows the best view of what is happening in the scene and also draws attention to whatever is in the middle and that is usually what is most important. I also thought it did a good job of showing people walking from behind as if you yourself are following them. The straight on view seems to be the simplest angle but at the same time I feel like it is not used very often but it works well in these films.

The next obvious choice was the video on ‘The Shining’ zooms. The opening zooms I believe are very well known and they create a sense of dread before you even know what is going to happen. I think using a very slow zoom like Kubrick seems to do creates a sense of paranoia and suspense which works well in a scary movie such as ‘The Shining’. I think zooms can also work for other types of atmospheres as well other than horror but they work very well for this movie.

Finally, I watched the Star Wars videos which showed just some of many errors in the franchise. I don’t think errors such as items that were there and then are not there are specific to just Star Wars but it seems to be especially sloppy in this movie where there is suppose to be meaning that the viewer picks up on. I think having a lot of errors such as these it makes it look sloppy and I wonder how someone such as George Lucas who cares so much about his work could let this many issues slip through the cracks. Regardless, I still think it is a good movie and not many will notice the problems without them being pointed out.

Confessions of a College Student

For my reflection I listened to The American Life episode 504: Hot I Got Into College. I decided to listen to this one since I found it to be the most relatable to my situation since I am a college student and also have friends who are graduating high school who are now going off to college. Right off the bat I wasn’t super impressed with the narrator. I found his voice to not be very fitting for radio at least for myself. His voice has an annoying tone to it which made it harder to want to listen to. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the multiple people talking at the beginning about their experience. I felt this aspect would work better in a video format where you can see the separate people. A part of the story I did like was one of the guest speakers who came in for Act 1 because he had something interesting to say but right as I was starting to get into that part music started to playing and it transitioned to Act 2. I honestly wasn’t very interested with the rest of the story. I had thought more of the story would actually be about getting into college and not the story about Emir Kamenica. I felt Act 1 wasn’t very related to Acts 2 and 3 and they could have easily been two different podcasts though they did seem to switch between the 2 hosts.
Overall I think some people are more predisposed to radio than others. I just couldn’t connect with the first host and felt the show harder to listen to because of the host’s voice and tone. Had the voice been different I still wouldn’t have been crazy about this podcast as a whole. The second host sounded a lot better but the topic being discussed just didn’t interest me very much and made me want to turn it off.

Comparing two sides of something you can’t see

I started off by watching part 1 of the storytelling series by Ira Glass. His video discussed suspense in radio storytelling. I found it ironic how he is telling a story about how interesting storytelling can be but it wasn’t interesting in and of itself. When I moved on to part 2 I found that part more interesting. I thought it was very true when he discussed how it takes more time to find a good story than to fine tune it and tell it. I always believe in the saying “quality over quantity.” Next I listened to Jad Abumrad and his video “How Radio Creates Empathy” which I didn’t feel like taught me very much. In this video it felt like it he was just talking about very abstract concepts that did’t tell me very much. One thing I did think was interesting in the video was the listener “painting a picture” but I feel like this same thing can be done with reading a book. While the part I felt resonated a little I don’t feel like many people use radio for those purposes anymore. Many radio stations nowadays play music and have funny segments and there isn’t much “meaning” where as he seems to think there is. I personally find radio to be a dying breed (even though he states otherwise). If people weren’t in the car so much it would have died by now and I think people are also transitioning to places such as Pandora and other sites that play just music that you pick and there’s no discussion at all. I think discussion on radio (apart from sports and news programs) has really always just been filler and doesn’t offer much purpose.

100 things to do with a piece of paper

Prior to this class I had never heard of the Vignelli Canon before. As I was reading through it I was surprised by some of the basic concepts discussed such as a piece of paper. I found it interesting how there was an entire page dedicated to different sizes of paper and how the United States must be different as always. There was also much discussed about using grids and how they are used when designing books, magazines, posters, etc. Overall, I think many of these concepts have transferred over into modern day design. While our main medium has changed from paper to screens, grids and layout design remain hugely important. Though the book starts to glaze over the computer age it does not fully grasp the changes that have been made. Regardless, things such as font, color, scaling, and general layout are still greatly important. They are used on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, TV and I don’t see these basic concepts going away anytime soon.