Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Aprantly the GoPro is not the only great action camera you can buy...

As we all know, GoPro took the stage by storm when it launched a few years ago. This amazing camera takes filming to new nights by getting some unique shits that could not have been accessed before. This amazing camera is capable getting some beautiful action shots such as those in extreme sports. You can literally attach the camera to your helmet and record yourself skiing, skydiving, swimming, ect. Now the GoPro isn't anything new, so why did I bring it up? I brought it up because I never knew of any camera capable of doing the same tasks. The GoPro is so big that I was convinced it held a monopoly over the action camera market. Well, it turns out there are many other companies that have replicated the action camera and arguably improved it. A company called Gizmodo decided to put these cameras to the test in this short youtube video:

As expected, the GoPro Hero+ Black was deemed the best camera, yet the other cameras still did well relatively. But although the GoPro won the best overall camera, it does not mean it is the best in every field. Depending on what you are looking for certain action cameras may in fact be better then the GoPro for you. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Scandal Season Finale

From the first day I started to watch Scandal, I was hooked. My dad would come into my room and immediately know I was watching it. I binged watched season 1 and 2 and caught up to 3. The acting is a bit overdone at times, yes; however it is one addicting show. The scandals to say the least are juicy and I always want to know what is going to happen next. Since the first season, a lot has changed. People have died, been killed, risen to power, become more evil than I didn't believe possible. The character development is what makes the show so interesting to watch. There is never a dull moment with the characters in every episode.

Today I watched the season three finale and it was very good. It was not amazing and I was not happy with some of the way things were done. I found the way how everything from that season led up to this to be a bit disappointing. I was not expecting some of the things that happened for sure, but some of the way the characters were presented seemed wrong. For example, one character who is supposed to be caring and selfless ends up almost letting a bomb kill a ton of people. Olivia Pope's father has always been evil, however we see him become more caring towards the end of the season. All of a sudden we find out that he is back to being evil. The season finale was too much of a flip flop and was a bit of a disappointment . However, I know I will still continue to watch the following seasons.

Friday, April 18, 2014

What is Field Production, Really?

Some people may not know what field production actually means, well field production means you're anywhere but a studio. Field production is always dependent upon the characteristics of your location. Your location might be a doctor's office, the bottom of a canyon or a barn.

Each situation calls for unique methods but you can always find similarities. Field production usually requires a lot of setting up and tearing down the equipment.

The Super Bowl, the mother of all field productions, uses at least seventy cameras along with two huge trucks full of tape decks, lights, microphones, cables, switchers, signal controllers, graphics generators, you name it that extravaganza uses it.

(These are just the cameras!)

Hollywood movies evolved using one-camera technique. Most field productions, especially low-budget, are done with one-camera technique.

One-camera technique means the action is repeated over and over with the one camera in a new location every time.

For fancy field production, all the lights are moved and re-set up in between every camera location.

Then, all that footage is editing together to simulate the effect you would have gotten had the action been captured simultaneously by multiple cameras.

Field productions are edited using a computer after they are shot. Good editing can make even a boring subject exciting but quality editing is time consuming. An editor who knows his stuff will plan on taking a minimum of one-hour to finish one-minute of edited story. Quick, down and dirty editing might go faster, but not much. An extremely intricate :30 commercial that gets bickered over a lot might be in editing two weeks. No wonder the budgets for video can quickly soar out of sight! Don't let that happen to you.

The higher the level of the production, the longer editing can take. Quality editing can save an otherwise poor production. Good editing is usually planned, and not just a reaction to fixing stuff that went wrong when shooting. Good editing is one of your most powerful story-telling techniques.

5 Phases of Making a Fiction Field Production I Film

Well my friends, it's that time of the year. Picture Lock season. Each and everyone of us has worked hard, suffered greatly, and felt like we've gotten nothing accomplished. But as we near the end of our filmmaking journey, I want to reflect on the steps we've taken (or at least I've taken) to get to this point.

5 Phases of Making a Fiction Field Production I Film

1. Pick Your Group
Though this seems like an easy task, the cooperation of your team members can either make or break your film and/or mental state. A group that works well together and has members with different strengths makes the difficult process of making a film a little bit easier. They become your family. Either you love them or you hate them, but you're attached to them no matter what. Thankfully, I got lucky and have a really strong group with some great people, and they have become not only my coworkers, but my friends.

2. Pre-Production
You're all so excited. "We're going to make a movie!" You assign jobs, then start planning how the rest of the semester is going to go. You have to write the script, find sponsors, start a fundraising campaign, get actors, get additional crew members, get locations, storyboard, start production design, the list goes on... forever. But you're bright-eyed and bushy tailed, ready to take on this film and make your family proud. So how do you get started? You don't... for weeks. Because you think you have time. You have all semester! Why bother?

Don't worry, it'll all get done. Right?

3. Beginning Production
Nope. You were wrong. You were so, so wrong. By now you've wasted at least three weeks, spring break has come and gone and you haven't even casted. The script may or may not be done (sorry guys, my bad), and you have to start filming in a week. As of right now, your blood pressure is shot through the roof. You have to distribute flyers and still make a blog post. Coffee is your new best friend. But you get together with your group and you muddle through it, dealing with one crisis after another to start on time. You are now familiar with panic attacks, but feel like you have gained superhuman powers at the same time. This is what adulthood feels like, and although you're unsure of the future, you go into the next phase head on.

4. Production
You're in the heart of your production phase. Check your pulse. Yes, you're still alive, but barely. You haven't slept in what feels like years. Your friends and family are worried because they haven't heard from you and don't know where you are. You forget that you have other classes, and your grades suffer from it. Coffee is not your friend, but has become a part of your bloodstream.

Schedules are no longer set in stone. Film shoots are temperamental, either convincing you that you will be the next Steven Spielberg or making you rethink your entire career and future. Arturo laughs as your health deteriorates, slowly but surely. Someone, if not every single person in your group has had some sort of a mental breakdown. But post production is so close, so you torture yourself a little bit longer, hoping and praying that something, ANYTHING good will come of this hell known as filmmaking.

5. Post-Production
You think you'd be relieved, but the work has really just begun. This is the part where you save your film from every little and big mistake that you've made during pre-production and production. And it all falls on the one or two people you call your editors. Thankfully, this is not me, but I have a feeling my work is not done. As we approach this stage of our voyage, I can only hope that it's smooth sailing. But like all of my hopes and dreams this semester, I'm fully aware that this will not be the case. Until then, I'll live my life day by day and hopefully come out of this with at least one lesson: Making films is hard. If anyone ever says anything different, this semester has shown me that it is completely appropriate to react with physical violence.

So to everyone in my class, and all future Fiction Field members, I wish you luck as we come to the close of the longest (yet shortest) semester of my life, and I look forward to all of our hard work to translate into something we're not embarrassed to show even our parents.

(Bonus) Wrap Party

A Powerful Message

With all the science and media coverage today, it's no secret that cigarettes are not beneficial to one's health. There are numerous nonsmoking campaigns aired during commercial breaks each day, but none as impressionable as an ad where children as adults for cigarettes.  There have been many anti-smoking ads over the years.  Some are simple, but others are much more graphic.  I've seen commercials where a doctor cuts into the brain of a deceased person who was a smoker.  The graphic ads left a burning image in my mind, but it was an image I wanted to quickly get rid of.  That's why I think the children campaign is so effective.

In this ad, Indonesian children approach smoking strangers, asking them for a lighter.  At first, many adults are taken aback, shocked by how young the inquirer is.  Every single adult refused to help the child smoke a cigarette.  Some adults even tried discouraging the children from smoking, listing reasons why it's bad for you.  The commercial ends with the children handing the smoker a note reading, "You worry about me. But why not about yourself?"  This powerful message leaves the smokers stunned and speechless.

Spider-Man Vs. Batman

     As the semester is running to an end I am running out of things to talk about so now I'm posting about who is a better superhero, Spider-Man or Batman.
     Spider-Man is a teenage high school student named Peter Parker that receives his powers after being bitten by a radioactive spider. He's lived with his aunt and uncle since a young age ever since his parents died. Peter's powers give him the ability to cling to walls, and have the proportionate strength and speed of a spider. Along with that he gets a "Spider Sense" which allows him to detect danger and avoid it making it nearly impossible to hit him. Peter is also naturally very intelligent which is how he invented "Web Shooters" that allow him to swing from buildings and trap foes.
     Batman is Bruce Wayne the worlds best detective and also a billionaire. The origin story of Batman changes very often, but one thing usually agreed upon is that a young age little Bruce saw both of his patents murdered which makes him want to put an end to crime in Gotham city. The most interesting thing about Bruce is that he doesn't actually have super powers. He is a normal person that is a master of stealth, extremely intelligent. He can also afford to create a seemingly endless supply of cool gadgets.
     But who would win in a fight? This is an argument that I have gotten into on countless occasions with a surprising number of people. Spider-Man has always been my favorite superhero ever since I was a young lad so obviously I think he would beat Batman. However most people I come across do not agree with me. I attribute that to the movie portrayals of the two heroes. Batman's recent movies have been excellently done and are extremely popular, whereas pretty much every Spider-Man movie hasn't been too great.
      Thanks to the internet questions like "Which fictional character would win in a fight" can be easily answered by people with more than me. Fortunately there is a youtube channel called ScrewAttack that does just that. The team takes the two characters makes stats for them and decides a winner. Afterwards they create an animation to show the outcome.


Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is probably one of my favorite videos on YouTube. Although there are many reasons why this short is so great, the main one in my opinion is that it makes me smile. For those of you who have not seen it before, I’ll give you a little idea on what it’s about. Both videos are about a tiny little conch shell with shoes on named Marcel. It is basically as if someone is interviewing this little shell and asking him all about his life. The voice of Marcel is also one of the reasons this video is so cute. He has a high-pitched little voice that really adds a punch to all of his one-liners. The second video is basically the same thing, just with some different jokes. All in all, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On might not be for everyone. But if you enjoy cute little videos to help you pass the time, these are definitely for you.

The Looooonnnnnnggggg Take

Long takes are a directors best weapon in the fight against boring scenes. This is not to say that they are easy but when planned correctly, they are extremely effective and immensely entertaining. The flow and pace of the scene is carefully thought out and every single move matters in the end. One of the best long takes (in my humble opinion) is the car scene in Children of Men.
The car the used for this scene had a camera that hung down from the "roof" and could rotate 360 degrees. What resulted was an extremely complicated and highly emotional death of a main character all capture with little to no edits. 

Another impressive long take which I think beats out Children of Men, due to the level of complexity required from every actor on screen, is from a Hong Kong film called Hard Boiled. I put the clip in the post and its definitely worth the 3 minute watch because the choreography between the camera man and the actors is pure genius. Plus all the fake guns going off and squibs to match must have been a difficult time for the special effects team because we see people getting "shot" at very unflattering angles. 

I'm jealous of the one takes I'm going to be honest. The best one takes are usually the ones you don't notice are happening. Like most things in cinema, this is the goal to make it look as natural as possible. 

I included a compilation of impressive long takes. They don't include the entire take but definitely capture the essence and scope of each one.

Why horror movies suck these days

Like everything, horror movies have evolved. Some people might say that they like the newer generation horror movies, and every now and then we do get a really good movie. As a horror maniac...a real big fan of the genre... I can say that there’s just something that the new movies lack. I don’t know if its the campiness or character development or even the crazy stories first told from the 60's to early 90's, it just feels that no one is trying to be creative anymore, no one is trying new ideas...everyone is just playing it safe in either remaking a classic or putting a spin on the torture subgenre. But I think horror movies will soon move out of this slump because fans of the old school horror are finally coming to of age and directing their own stuff...so I think that this will definitely help in the next few years. Another reason that horror movies lack creativity is because studies nowadays are only interested in turning a profit. They can shoot a horror movie for extremely cheap, even if it sucks, and turn a profit if the trailers good.

Tony Soprano and Freud

 I have already talked about Tony Soprano on these posts, but this week I want to focus on him by assessing him from a psychoanalytical perspective, i.e. Freud. The most prominent and significant way in which Tony inhabits Freud’s theory of man is in the way Tony refuses to ever change, despite an expressed desire to do so. Freud believed that a person’s personality and attitude was determined by the age of five. After that, a person is essentially in a state of stasis, never truly making any significant changes to their core personality. Tony completely embodies this idea. In Season Six Part One of the show, Tony suffers a life threatening attack. After a long stay in the hospital, he miraculously returns to life. He almost immediately promises that he has changed his ways, and he will no longer sleep around on his wife, he will no longer commit such violent acts, and he will not be the same man he was. This, as it turns out, proves not to be the case. He is soon back to his old ways, as if he never vowed to change. This inability to make actual significant changes to his personality is in accordance to Freud’s theory. This is not the only way in which Tony adheres to Freud’s theories though.
            Another way in which Tony adheres to Freud’s general theory is through Tony’s often surreal and symbolic dreams. Freud theorized that dreams are really our wants and desires cloaked in symbols. Tony’s dreams often do just that. The show depicts Tony’s dreams in a very surreal and bizarre way, but they always represent what is on his mind. Sometimes they even show what he is not willing to admit. In the episode “Funhouse,” Tony has a dream where he reaches the realization that one of his best friends has betrayed him. He had known it for a long time, but it was not until he had the dream that he was willing to admit to himself that his friend betrayed him. This completely correlates with Freud’s view of man, with dreams having significance far beyond our comprehension. Tony Soprano also inhabits Freud’s view of the effects of parenthood.
            Every woman Tony tries to have sex with is eerily similar to his mother, which fits Freud’s view of man’s relation with his mother.  Freud theorized that every man in life wants to have sex with their mother, which they then effects what they find attractive in the world. Tony truly inhabits this theory. His mother was a difficult person, to put it lightly. And for the entire length of the show, Tony constantly gets involved with women who are completely unstable. An example of this is that Tony at one point dumps one of these girls. A few weeks later, he finds out that the girl killed herself. That Tony is so attracted to such unstable women is a result of his affection for his mother, which fits Freud’s theory of man.

            Tony Soprano is a complete manifestation of Freud’s view of man. His personality, dreams, and sexual activities completely view Freud’s various philosophies about man. Whether this was intentional or not is unknown, but it feeds into the extremely deep and intricate characterization of Tony Soprano. And it is because of this complexity and attention to character detailing that the show became one of the most acclaimed television series of all time.