Sunday, November 20, 2011

Production Notes

I've just recently finished my project and I am burning into my memory a few notes that I need to remember for future projects. I think I underestimated the amount of time I would need to complete the project, but worst than that I think I didn't ever have a clear vision of where I wanted to take it. I know the storyboard process was suppose to help us out with that, but I found that once I got on the computer there suspected issues or problems that made the story board useless.
My initial idea for the project was really ambitious and would be something new and challenging for myself. I really wanted to push myself not only for the assignment, but also personally as a media maker. Seeing as how my interview with Danielle was really a lot about the future and where she wanted her skills as a tutor to lead. I thought it would have been really interesting to do a animation. I love to draw and doing a three minute animation where I could draw her hopes of the future around her would have been in my mind really interesting. I although underestimated the work that doing a three minute animation would take. I ended up wasting a lot of time working on something that didn't even get finished and had a lot of other problems. I ran to problems with the software and also the way I was drawing. I ended up being really frustrated and requiring a lot more time to work out the bugs with doing a animation.
With time becoming an issue I had to come up with a new idea. An idea I had in the beginning, but was overshadowed by my desire to do an animation, was to use text.The idea was to have the entire interview show up on the screen in text. Both, in English and Chinese. I wanted to mimic episodes of "Learn to Read" that I use to watch when I was young. I remember would read and as she did the words would show up on the screen. The idea was to have the interview be a lesson in its self. So as Danielle spoke I would have the words appear on the screen with their Chinese(mandarin) counterparts.
Looking back at the video now that it is finished. I think my attempt to stylize the video hindered the education factor I wanted the video to communicate. The screen at times is too jumbled together with English and Chinese and it becomes difficult to make out with words go with one another. If I could change something I would have every word and its Chinese translation show up on the screen one after another. So that you could stop the video at any point and see the word and it's Chinese translation.
I think for future assignments I need to curtain my ambitions so that I have something that lends itself to the allocated time and communicates the message I set forth in the beginning. I haven't gone away from learning animation, but its now something I am learning and experimenting with in my own free time. So if I choose to do a animation again, I'll have some experience doing so.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Breaking Bad
Season 4, Episode 6

            If you're not familiar with "Breaking Bad", then here is a brief synopsis of the past three seasons. Walter White, a middle class chemistry teacher,  is shocked to learn that he has lung cancer. The meager and mild-mannered man, who has not earned enough in life to ensure the welfare of his family after his demise, makes a crucial decision. Make meth. He recruits the serves of Jesse Pinkman, his former meth head student. They quickly gain the attention of some unsavory characters that lead them into a world of murders and lies. Season three opens with Walter and Jesse fearing for their lives from their drug kingpin employer. The reason I give this synopsis is not to convince you to watch (which you should), but because it is essential to the scene I am going to discuss.
            The scene I've chosen to analyze is an instance in the show where the personalities of Walter and Heisenberg, Walter's drug enforcer alter-ego, begin to clash with one another. The stylistic devices and shot selection illustrates a pivotal moment where Walter's home life and drug life begin to blend together. The scene also serves to enlighten Skyler, Walter's wife, about her husband's darker side.
            The scene opens up with a close-up on Skyler trying to convince her husband that their only option is to turn to the police to avoid the threat facing her husband. The scene obeys the 180 degree rule and uses shot reverse shot to capture the conversation between these characters. The camera during the conversation is placed over the shoulder of the characters at eye level creating a sense of intimacy and urgency that is reinforced by the dialogue.
            The use of sound and position of the characters in the scene demonstrates a sense of power and control (common themes in the show). The scene is absent of any music, which emphasizes dialogue. Skyler's voice dominates the scene and overpowers Walter as he rejects her proposal to seek help from the police. As the camera cuts back forth between the two, Skyler's voice is omnipresent in the scene. Her voice is heard even when the camera is not focused on her. Furthermore, Skyler is also visually more dominating than Walter. While Walter is shown hunched over and quivering at the mention of the threat to him, Skyler is confident as she asserts Walter's inability to handle the danger.
            Walter, shown in a close-up, becomes frustrated with his wife and rises. To maintain continuity the editor employs match on action and shows Walter continuing to rise in a two shot. Walter is shown walking away unbuttoning his shirt. The camera cuts back to a mid shot of Skyler still seated pleading with her husband to recognize that he is too weak to handle this danger. The camera then cuts back to a mid shot of Walter aggressively turning to question Skyler's thought process. Walter walks up to Skyler making him grow in size within the frame of the camera to the point where the camera is now framing him in a medium close-up. Walter's change in size mimics the change in power occurring in the scene. When the camera cuts back to Skyler she is now much smaller in comparison and looks similar to Walter at the beginning of the scene.
            The angle of camera also changes to further illustrate the power shift taking place in the scene. When the camera shifts back to Walter he is framed in a mid shot with the camera at a low angle making him the dominant figure. Within in the same frame Skyler is dwarfed both by Walter's size and the tone of this voice. Walter's surroundings further emphasize dominance in the scene. The beams on the ceiling are angled towards Walter aesthetically drawing the viewers eyes to Walter. There is also an absence of Skyler's voice which further empowers Walter.
            It is important not only to note the change in Walter's tone but also his physical appearance. When sitting on the bed, Walter is wearing a red dress shirt. After he rises and removes his dress shirt, Walter is standing wearing a undershirt that is a darker and more intense shade of red. The change of color in the scene mimics the psychological change happening within Walter himself. As his personality becomes darker so does his physical appearance.
            The exclamation point in the scene comes with a close-up of Walter proclaiming to his wife in rough and gritty voice "I am the danger" in reference to the news about the murder of a meth cook (which he arranged to be killed to save his own life). The camera returns to a close-up of Skyler who is shocked and frightened by the darker side of Walter. The camera stays on her for twelve seconds so the viewer can see the deep impact made on Skyler
            Skyler only knows her husband as a chemistry teacher who was weakened and demoralized after learning he had cancer. She is unaware of the scope of the operation her husband is involved in or the actions he has taken to get to the point he is at currently. Walter has murdered opposing forces and lead a double life since the inception of his cancer. All the while hiding and to an extent suppressing the more dangerous and lethal aspects of his personality. Skyler's consistent reminder in this scene to Walter about his weakness is an insult and for a brief moment he shows her glimpse into a darker side of him. A side he has controlled, but threats to his life show an unraveling in the character.
            The scene closes with a high angle shot of Walter taking a shower. The shot serves to show the viewer Walter in a vulnerable state isolated without the facade he shows the world. It demonstrates Walter's awareness of the dangers facing him and the frailty of the character that has been there since the beginning. The scar that runs across his body reminds the viewer of his fight against cancer. Walter has had to fight to survive and past battle scars remind the viewer of that.

Yep this looks like 250 words...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

"What I Hear"

            Living in Brooklyn, walking around my neighborhood is a visual showcase of all sorts of people. Adding audio to the show is going to be interesting to say the least. I am programmed to have a pair of headphones in my ears without them I feel like I am somehow exposed.
            Stepping out of my apartment I immediately hear the kids next door playing, but it sounds more like their being murdered as one of them screams "ice cream". At least I know they're not being murdered, but ice cream monsters are a terrifying thought. I see the super of my building cleaning the sidewalk where the aforementioned children have drawn with chalk. He is singing something in Spanish, something I can't make out in my limited Spanish vocabulary. We exchange greetings and I continue on my walk. Two Pakistani men are yelling at one another, but knowing Urdu myself I am able to decipher that the one man is congratulating the other man on being a father. I find it funny how other people may look at this two men and how it might reinforce preconceived notions about Muslim men.
            I run into one of my mother's friends. Usually I am have headphones on and am able to pass her by with a quick hello, but today without headphones I guess I am sending out a "I want to talk" vibe. After a talk about how your son could use my help with his math homework I am starting to hate this assignment. I am finally able to maneuver my out of this conversation and continue with my walk with to the subway station. I am only half way there and I am actually a little nervous about what else is waiting for me up ahead.
            I am lucky though because the rest of my walk is through a Jewish neighborhood and I am pretty confident that no one will there knows me so I am in the clear. Walking undisturbed and without the fear of being ambushed by fifty some year old Pakistani ladies I begin to hear the purpose of this assignment. The birds chirping, cars having trouble starting, people mingling with one another and it odd how I have not registered these sounds. It is definitely interesting to be exposed to these sounds and gives my surrounds more depth than just simply being my surrounding.