Monday, February 25, 2013

Beasts of the Southern Wild

wasn't that good a film. It was a creative idea. It had nice production design. But it kinda still felt like a stage play to me. And damn if I didn't fall asleep about 30 minutes in. I actually thought the abusive father was the most interesting character. The girl was...I mean, her performance was good, but why the hell is she running around in her underwear? It made the film seem just a little too cartoonish, a little too Nausicaa where I needed it, as a viewer, to be a little more When the Levees Broke. Now, I'm glad the film broke out, got some attention, and we'll see the next thing that everyone gets from it. But I would've felt a little sick had it won anything. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Smart little flies, dumb little flies, regular old flies, oversized spiders, centipedes, fleas, vicious and stubborn ticks, ants, mosquitos slow and fast, moths that are attracted to eyeballs...

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Is it wrong

to want to see Mission Impossible 4?

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Visual Structure Lesson

North by Northwest Opening Credit Sequence (Link to Youtube)

Today we will discuss structure. And we start from an ominous blank page:

Structure is a big thing. Structure can happens whether you intend it to or not. As it relates to film and media, I suspect that many of us are already familiar in an informal way with structure because we’ve been trained by watching so many films and TV shows...and the local news, and commercials, and music videos and video games. In fact, you are probably inside a structure right now.

Films and other time-based mediums teach you how to watch. And obviously there are tons of different mediums and tons of different genres within those mediums. And my suspicion is that much of how “good” a given film or show is has to do with how well it teaches you how to watch it. So a lot of being a successful filmmaker has to do with successfully teaching your audience how to watch your movie.

Does structure mean anything to you, in terms of filmmaking or storytelling? Think about it. any metaphors come to mind? Any images? Are you familiar with three-act structure?

Okay. So today I’m going to give you an overview on visual structure. I didn’t invent this, this comes from a film producer and teacher named Bruce Block, who teaches some courses at USC who taught some people who I learned it from. So please address complaints to Bruce Block. I will accept compliments, however.

Here’s the very basic idea, with a few of my own thoughts thrown in:

Just as written media has structure, visual media has structure. Just as a script has it’s rising action and it’s climax, so do visuals. It’s about understanding and controlling patterns to create an effect upon your audience.

If you’ve taken an art class-If you have only drawn a picture-you are familiar with these basic design elements: Line/Point, Shape, Value (Tone), Color, Space/Form, Texture. Now, I've seen some different lists, but they generally just use different words for the same elements.

What Block does is apply these elements to movies. He calls them the Basic Visual Components: Space or Dimension, Line, Shape, Tone, Color, Movement and Rhythm.

So these are the building blocks. But there's another concept, and this relates entirely to how the building blocks fit together. Block calls it contrast and affinity.

Block breaks it down as such:

Contrast = Greater Visual Intensity.
Affinity = Less Visual Intensity.

The Lost Rhythm GIFs:

How does this all relate to movies? It has to do with visual progression, or how the components develop over time. So let's take a look at a couple of things. When you watch, look for the overall visual progression and then start to think specifically about what elements are changing over time.

Psycho opening title sequence

Titles designed by Saul Bass: The Breakdowns

Some last thoughts:

Contrast and affinity works in a few ways. It can work within the frame. It can work frame to frame. Or it can work more broadly, from section to section of a given film.

Moreover, it's always a sliding scale. Contrast and affinity is always relative to what came before it. are probably already doing this, even without thinking about it. It's pretty intuitive. It can be pretty easy to get lost in the minute details of shape and line and movement, but all of this stuff is just here to support your filmmaking ideas.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Strawberry Progressions

Shuggie Otis, 1971:

The Brothers Johnson, 1977:

AWOL, 1994:

DJ Quik, 1995:

Outkast, 2000:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I'm gonna name my kid Delroy.

Posted here mostly so that I don't forget.

Still not feeling The Chicago Code, though. The show needs some snow plows, stat.