How to Read a movie

How to read a movie was really a quite interesting thing. I feel like most people, me included, take movies for granted. We watch them and say what we think at the end, but really miss a lot of the work that directors put into them. “How to read a movie” really gave me these tools to appreciate this more. I first tested this out on Stanley Kubrick’s one point perspective and man was it amazing! The video showed you just how consistent the shots are and how much he uses that perspective. The shots give an increased sense of depth and give a very eerie feeling. That is why his film style is so successful. The second video I watch was the shining. I had watched the film previously so that is why I chose it. This was another very interesting because I had no idea how many zooms there were. The zooms, either in or out, are extremely slow which builds tension and adds to the overall creepy vibe of the whole film. The last one I chose to analyze was Tarantino’s style of shooting from below. This style really puts the viewer right in the action as it makes you feel like the actors are looking right at you. It truly adds to the viewing experience. So many of Ebert’s principles can be applied to any movie that we look at. One that struck me in particular is right vs left. Up vs down. Foreground vs background, etc. These are things that I never really think about but make a lot of sense when it comes to this. A character moving right is more favorable than a character moving left. Because the future is perceived to be to the right, moving right is better. This theory applies to many things such as movement up is more favorable than movement down. So many of these techniques can be applied to any movie and that is so interesting to me. Moving forward I will be looking for many of these in the theaters!

Instant Replay

For this assignment I chose to take a clip of something and make an instant replay for it. I am a huge baseball fan and have always been a Yankees fan. That is why I chose to take Aaron Judge’s swing and make it a slow motion video. Aaron has hit so many home runs this year that finding a video of one of them was quite simple! To do this I downloaded a video of his swing from youtube. Next I found an online tool called MP3care.com. From there I could slow down or speed up the clip however I wanted. I chose to remove the audio so it didn’t sound all weird. It should look something like this:

And that is about it! It was a relatively simple process but seeing his swing in slo-mo is such a satisfying thing. Check it out:

Time Lapse Assignment

For this assignment I chose to do something a little different than the description. Instead of taking 1-2 second time lapses throughout the day I took one big one to show some period of time. This really gave a different effect as you can see movement in things you wouldn’t normally see. You can see the movement of clouds and water and the sun and how it all morphs together. I had never done a time lapse before and I was at the beach this past week so my inspiration was to use a sunset to make a time lapse. My thought process was the seeing the sun fall behind the horizon would be super interesting and it was all ruined by a giant cloud! But hey, it still looked kinda cool. The first step to this process was to set the camera up. There are a couple things that are useful to do before you head out. The first is to format your SD card. This will ensure that you have the most space possible to capture as many pictures as you want. With that said, make sure you don’t have anything important on there because this will delete all of it. I am shooting on a Canon 6D so this is what my menu looked like but yours may look different:

Next, you will want to pick a white balance that is appropriate for your shooting conditions. The benefit of shooting with RAW files as opposed to JPG is that we can change this later if the white balance changes.

Next, is to change your file format. I always choose to shoot RAW files because they give you much more light information and you can do a lot with them in post processing. However, they require more work than JPG’s. For beginners, JPG’s are much easier because the camera does all the touch up work. So pick whichever format you think you would like to use.

Finally, just to save a little battery power, turn off image review. This means that when you take a picture, it won’t show up on the rear of the camera.

A couple other instruments you will need are a steady tripod and an intervalometer. This is basically a thing that plugs into your camera and tells it to take a picture after so many seconds. In my case, I use a thing called Trigger Trap which is actually a wire that connects your phone to your camera and I can use the phone app to control my camera. In the case of this time lapse, I set all of the settings on my camera, and then plugged in my phone and use the phone app to tell it to take a picture every 5 seconds.

A quick side note is, for sunset time lapses, make sure your camera is in aperture priority mode. This means that the camera will change the aperture for you so you don’t have to change it as you get less light.

The final step is to do a little post processing and turn your photos into a video. For this I like to use Adobe Lightroom and LRTimelapse. The general workflow for this is to import all of the images you took to LRTimelapse, stitch them, export them to Lightroom to make all of your image adjustments, then export them to make a video. This is what it should look like after you have all of your pictures imported to LRTimelapse:

Export the video and that is it! You have a timelapse made out of the pictures you took. This was a relatively short time lapse. Only about 200 images to make this one. I will definitely be more interested  in making more of these in the future. Check out the time lapse below:

Analyze Video Clip from movie

As soon as I saw this assignment I knew exactly what clip I wanted to do. The Pursuit of Happyness has been one of my favorite movies for as long as I can think. The movie tells such a powerful story and there are so many amazing quotes from that movie. So that is why I chose to do this assignment on this movie. The first step was to analyze the clip without any sound. By just looking at the camera movements, we can get many things. The first thing I noticed is the majority of the shots are either of Will Smith, or his son. Very rarely can you see both of their faces in the shot. The first half of the scene is them playing basketball and a couple times we see both of them in frame, but the majority is one or the other. It usually focuses on one of their faces when one of them is talking. The second half of the scene is more like a speech. An interesting thing I noticed is that the camera is actually lowered down and pointed up towards will smith when he is talking (as if from his son’s perspective). And when the camera is facing his son, the camera is put higher up, as if to be from Will’s perspective. Definitely an interesting thing that I had not noticed before.  Also, throughout the whole scene, there is not much zooming. The subjects are put in frame and then the camera doesn’t zoom. It will pan a little but no zoom. Except for at the end when Will is giving his speech. I believe this is to give more impact to his words and I would say that it was successful. The next step was to listen to the scenes audio but not watch the video. The scene starts out with a funny moment where Will asks his son if he wants to go sell a Bone Density Scanner, and his son simply says “No.” Next you can almost imagine the scene in your head as you hear the basketball bouncing. Next Will tells his kid that he will not be good at basketball, so he should give up the dream and focus on something else. This sets up the next scene where inspiring background music begins to play and Will’s speech comes. It begins with “Don’t ever let somebody tell you you  can’t do something; Not even me.” These are words to live by and had such an impact on me when I was young. Next is, “You got a dream, you gotta protect it.” Another great tidbit of motivation. Finally, we end with “You want something. Go get it. Period” And that was the biggest one for me. If you want something in life, go get it. No if, ands, or buts. Go get it. When you put these two together, it brings the whole magic of the movie together. The slow zoom that I talked about previously mixed in with the background music and the amazing monologue from Will makes for one of the best scenes ever. It brings out a profound sense of pride and inspiration. That is why I love this movie. Give the scene a watch here:

Moon Graffiti

This post was amazing to listen to. The first thing I did when I clicked on the link was read the description. It talked about how this podcast was based on a real speech that was written for Nixon, to be read in case the astronauts never made it to the moon. In this “story”, the astronauts crashed upon their descent to the moon. The production value of this podcast was insane. There were a couple voices talking at the same time as if they were astronauts on Apollo 11. The background sound effects line up perfectly from the radio crackles to the beeps on the ship to the crash. As we continue, there is even more background sounds as he speaks. Right at the 2:00 mark, a very eerie track begins as he talks about what could have happened. The “story” picks up again with more communication between the astronauts. The story that is told is made 200x better by the background noise. At the end, when Nixon is reading his speech, there is a creeping background noise that feels like it’s building to a certain scare. Again this just adds to the overall super creepy feeling of the story. By just reading that story on a page, we get a sense of danger and thrill, but by listening to it, the author can “guide” our thinking by adding certain background noise here or there. Space is already a very eerie place by nature of its vastness, but telling stories like this in the way that they told it makes it that much creepier!

ScottLo & Ted Radio Hour

It was so interesting the use of background music in addition to the commentary. The selection started out by introducing the subject of the talk (Sherry Turkle). They introduce her without any background music. Then when they started telling the story, the background music started. They paired the happy moments in the story and the excitement of the robot with very happy, upbeat music. And the suspense builds, assuming that we are leading to a peak moment when something magical happens, then you are hit with a curve ball. Sherry says she felt sad and the music stopped as if it had hit a brick wall. Her reaction did not make sense at the time and the stop in music made it much more dramatic. The music that follows is more inquisitive. It begs for questions and continuation. It amazed me how useful the background music was when telling this story. I got more and more invested as the music kept elevating suspense. And then when it stopped it was like I had to hold my breath to see what was going to happen. I definitely have to look out more and pay attention to music when listening to future radio shows.

The first thing I wanna say about this is that this mans voice is mesmerizing. And I think that is a huge part of radio and success on audio storytelling. If people don’t mind listening to your voice and you have something to say, they will listen. He also brings up the point that he tries to keep the show he does short. And I think that is another huge part of audio in this day and age. With the fast paced style of society these days, people don’t have time to listen to a 6 hour radio show. By keeping them short and to the point, it keeps people more interested in what he has to say. They will gladly sit down for 5-15 minutes as opposed to hours. I loved episode 8 when he broke down a bunch of the sound effect stories. It was cool to hear a bunch of peoples stories but it was also very interesting hearing his breakdown of them. He really gave me an appreciation for how effective oral storytelling can be. By telling someone a story, you are sharing an experience with them and helping them to build a picture in their head which is really a sensation exclusive to radio. Therefore, it will stick around for quite a while.

Rainy Day Mix Tape

The last assignment I chose to do this week was to make a mixtape of my choice. The day was rather gloomy and I wasn’t feeling the best so I decided to make a rainy day mixtape. The theme of these songs were slow, lots of piano or acoustic instruments, but some have an uplifting end to them. So they will fit the mood of the rain, but will pick you up a bit so you are not sad!

Tracks:

  1. Bon Iver – Skinny Love: Definitely a slow and kinda sad song. But it is an acoustic classic and I could not have an acoustic playlist without it!
  2. James Bay – Stealing Cars: Another acoustic icon. Slow tempo but an aggressive lyric pattern. Talks about being rebellious and having fun.
  3. Bill West – Knocking on heavens door: I’ve always loved the original of this song. Then one day I found this acoustic version so that is how it ended up making the cut!
  4. Maddi Jane – Secrets: This is another song like the previous. Ever since I heard the original by one republic, I fell in love with the song. The strings are just so powerful. And this acoustic version is no exception!
  5. Matt The Electrician – Jesse’s Girl: Another cover of a fairly popular song. I really couldn’t decide if to include this for I could not chose if this song was sad or happy. I feel like it starts out fairly sad but then gets more and more upbeat. Either way, a great song for the theme.
  6. Mike Posner – Buried in Detroit: This song is one of my favorites from Mike. It is a very loose biography for him and overall just a great song. Between the lyrics and the piano it needed to be in the mix tape.
  7. The Fray – Cable Car: This song gets a lot of flack for reasons I will never understand. I think that it is quite the contradiction as the lyrics are actually pretty sad when you listen to them but the tempo is quite fast.
  8. Mike Posner – I took a pill in Ibiza: Another Mike Posner song?! Yes, suck it up. Everyone has heard the wildly popular radio version of this song but this original version is 5,000x better. With the acoustics you really feel the song much more.
  9. Madilyn Bailey – Radioactive: Finally, we have a great song from Imagine Dragons, however it was a bit too fast for this playlist. So instead I went with Madilyn’s acoustic version. A great rendering of the original. Gives great meaning to the lyrics.

To do this project, the method will always remain the same but you can pick and choose what songs to put in. First start by picking your songs (I would say no more than 10, unless you want a really long mix tape), and download the mp3 versions of them. Import all of those mp3’s into Audacity and drag them up and down to the order that you want to hear the songs in. Next, use the move tool to move the start of the next song to the end of the previous. This is so when one song ends, the next will begin and they are not all playing at once. It should look something like this:

Next, highlight all of the tracks (ctrl + a) and go up to the tracks tab. Choose mix and render. This will combine all of the tracks into one single track, with all of your songs back to back.

When you’re all done, it should look something like this:

And that’s it! You have your mix tape and the great thing is you are totally in control of the tone of your tape. You can make it sad or happy. Rap or rock. Whatever you want! You can listen to my rainy day mixed tape here:

Sound Effects Story

The required assignment for this week was to make an audio clip that tells a story completely with sounds effects. My inspiration came from when I was a kid going to baseball games with my dad. I always remember driving to stadiums and the closer you walk to the stadium the more the chants come into focus. Until you walk up to your seat and you can perfectly hear the cheers. And when someone on your team gets a hit and the stadium erupts. That was my inspiration for this assignment. So the first step was to get all of the sound effects. I went to freesound.org and downloaded a bunch of sound effects that I thought I might use. Next, I imported all of them  into audacity and dragged them up or down depending on what order I wanted them to come in the story. Next, use the move tool to drag each sound effect to the end of the previous, that way they come one after another. It should look something like this:

Next, highlight all the tracks (ctrl + a), go to the tracks menu and choose mix and render. This will combine all of the individual tracks into one:

It should end up looking something like this:

And that’s it! You’re done. You can go ahead and listen to my sound effect story here:

Reverse Audio Quiz

For the second assignment of the week, I decided to do one where I take a song, reverse it, and take a small snippet (30 seconds), and see if someone can guess what song it is! My thinking was to choose a song the has very level high and low peaks. That way, if it is reversed, it will be pretty hard to tell just off of the instruments. So the first thing I did was to pick a song (in this case I can’t tell you which one it is!). I then opened the mp3 file in Audacity. Go up to the Effects tab and choose “reverse.”

Audacity will automatically reverse the song for you and then highlight the sections of the song you want to cut away and click the scissors icon. Cut it so you get it down to 30 seconds and that’s it. See if you can figure out what song it is! I will post the soundcloud link to the original song underneath the reversed song if you want to her what it was!

Reversed:

Forward:

Make it 800% Slower

This was the first assignment I chose to do this week and man was it an interesting one! The basic gist of this one was to take any song and slow it down a ton and see what it sounds like. For a while now I have loved the song Secrets by One Republic. The instrumental intro to the song is amazing to me and so great to listen to. I wanted to find out what it would sounds like slowed down so much (I really had no idea what it would sound like). So for this whole week I decided to use Audacity and found that it is a super useful tool. The first thing to do is open Audacity and import the MP3 of WAV file for the song that you want to use. It should look something like this when you import your song. For each song the highs and lows will be different so that will look a little different.

Next you click on the track in Audacity, go up to the Effects tab and choose change tempo. We want to set the percent to -98% because we are slowing down the song. If you put a positive number in there, it will speed up the song. Also, make sure you check the box for “Use high quality stretching.” It makes the end result a bit cleaner.

Click ok and let it do its thing (it will take a while). When it is done stretching the song out. It will probably be super long (in my case it ended up somewhere around 3 hours). To fix this, you can simply highlight the parts you don’t want and hit the scissors icon (cut). And that is it! You have your slowed down song. And in my case, the end result was amazing. By slowing down the orchestral intro to the song, it made it so deep and powerful. The sound echoes and is so empowering. It is almost like there is a song within each song. By slowing down one song, I got a completely different one that is just as amazing as the original. Give it a listen here: