Monday, October 31, 2011


Alright so this weekend we finished reshooting and shooting everything (hopefully). We had a really cool idea about dunking one of the guys heads in a toilet bowl. That scene was incredibly difficult to shoot, but I think we pulled it off alright. Some problems we ran into were location, camera location, audio, and our bowl had writing on the bottom. But we pulled it off OK. I was looking at water-boarding scenes online and I came across this:

I thought that this shot was very artistically done. It is really cool that you just see the water flowing and have no idea what it is about. Then you find out it is a torture scene and it makes it that much more disturbing.


For all you Harry Potter fans, my post for this week is going to be about Harry Potter's new site Pottermore (spoiler alert for those who are still waiting to get in the site). This site launched in august for 1 million Beta users who gained early access. I think that marketing campaign for this site was pretty smart an original. Jk Rowling built up a lot of expectation for the website two months before it was realized, sending clues around different Harry Potter fan sites for other fans to discover. After revealing that 1 million users would gain beta access, the site started a Magic Quill contest which consisted in realizing a clue every day for 7 days about each of the seven Harry Potter books. This contest created a bigger hype for the website giving that this clues were going to appear randomly during the day. I remember it was all over twitter and tumblr which makes me believe that the marketing team for the site made a great job reaching their market target (obviously Harry Potter fans). During the months of August and September welcoming letters were sent to those lucky few to gain early access. When I finally got to enter the website I found that the artwork for it was pretty good and compelling. The way the website was set up let you explore through different chapter of the first book. You also got to buy a wand and got to get sorted into a Hogwarts House, which I think it was pretty cool. Also additional background information was added about the different characters from Harry Potter. Overall I think the website is pretty good. While you explore it you get a nostalgic feeling especially since the last movie was just realized this past summer. Some of the downsides of the website are the different bugs that haven't been fixed since they are still on their Beta testing period.
Also the website gets kind of old after a couple of days of using it. Hopefully all the bugs will get fixed and new stuff will be added to explore now that they extended the Beta period (it was supposed to open for everyone in October). Also this website is still promising given that the beta users are only allowed to explore the first book of the series, which makes me wonder if people will get bored with it once they are allowed to explore all the books. Guess will have to wait to see what is JK Rowling planning to offer to us dedicated fans.

Pottermore's Artwork:

Characters as Costumes

Happy Halloween!

It’s that day of the year when everybody is allowed to dress up and be somebody else for a day. As the weekend has progressed, I couldn’t help but notice how heavily film and television inspired Halloween costumes; everything from gory and disturbing to sweet and childish.

Every year, new television series and films come out that really catch the eyes of the population, causing them to dress up like their favorite characters for this fun holiday. Here are some of the iconic costumes that always seem to be around:


This is a very popular costume for little boys and males in general. What’s great about superheroes is that there are so many to choose from. There’s the original comic book heroes like Batman, Superman, Spiderman to ones like real-life heroes like firefighters and cops. The possibilities are ever-growing.

Princesses and Queens

When in doubt, a girl can always resort to classic Disney tales for inspiration for their costumes. It’s very popular among girls of all ages because most of us have grown up relating to at least one princess—or desiring to be like her. On the other hand, it’s also fun to go a little dark and instead of being Snow White or Jasmine, dress up like the Queen of Hearts or Cruella De Vil.

Classic Characters

Some very popular options are characters from classic movies—ones that most people will recognize. Among those are characters like Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz” and Holly from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” It’s always good to have a good twist though, and dressing up like your favorite antagonists is always fun—this weekend I saw people dressed up as Alex from “A Clockwork Orange” and the classic killers, Freddy and Jason.

Taken from the Television

Perhaps the characters from television are the most obscure. This weekend I saw an evil version of a person—a reference straight out of “Community” (Abed and Troy become Evil Abed and Evil Troy.) Last year, Dexter was a very common costume, which was very creative and simple. In the past I have also seen groups dress up as the Mystery Gang and impersonate all of the characters from “Scooby Doo.”

I hope all of you had a fantastic Halloween! What were some of your favorite costumes inspired by television and films? Feel free to share!

Comedy Shoot

This past weekend, I was part of my first freelance shoot. I had a client, a set, and a project to deliver that I would be paid for. The setting was Big Time Barber Shop in the commons on Saturday night. The owners of the place were hosting a standup comedy show that they staged, lit, and shot. After several days of planning where the stage, lights, cameras, and miss would be, I was ready for the real deal. Before the night started, I got each of the comedians to say a few words about who they were and how they got into comedy. I thought this would make for a good intro before actually cutting to their act. 8 o'clock struck, the lights were on and the camera was rolling. I have to admit, I was really nervous.

The first couple of minutes went by slowly. It was really hard for me to pay attention to the action and not get caught up in the laughter of the audience. I also had to stay alert for when the comedians moved on stage so i keep could the medium shot fit to frame. The second camera I had posted up was in the bak of the room, capturing a long shot of the stage and the audience reaction. I thought it would be good t cut back and forth from the camera every once in a while to make the video more professional. I haven't started editing yet, but I have already planned what I am going to do.

The biggest challenge I had was volume. Each performer talked differently and some even made sound affects into the mic. The levels on my camera were jumping at times, but for the most part I was able to keep it in check. I won't know for sure until I see it in post.

This was a great experience for me. The school projects we do month to month are fun, but are nothing like a live shoot were you have to capture everything that happens, because there is no going back.

Character Changes

The characters are the heart and soul of a television show. The viewers develop real connections with the characters in their favorite shows, they care about them, and might even write some creepy fan fiction. That is why, when a character is replaced, fans will riot, and the show will usually take a turn for the worse.
The first show that comes to mind would be The Office. Steve Carrell left after a very successful six seasons and was replaced as regional manager by Ed Helms as Andy Bernard. Out of all the characters on The Office, Helm's personality and mannerisms are the most like Carrells. They share the same lovable offensive qualities and both strive for attention and acceptance from their superiors and coworkers. The sixth seasons finale featured an array of guest stars all vying for the position of manager. However, losing a newcomer and putting Andy in charge was a very safe move by the writers in order to keep up the same pace of the show.
Another example is the show Misfits, which premiered it's third season this Sunday minus one of the more memorable characters. Robert Sheehan played the witty, Irish comic relief on the show but left after the second season to pursue more movie roles. Channel 4 put out a short on their website to explain his absence and quickly introduce his replacement on the show. Again, what we experience of Rudy, the newcomer, is a glimpse of a similar character. He seems to slide into the role of comedian and troublemaker, as was his predecessor Sheehan.
The same can be said about Doctor Who, especially since that show goes through actors every two to three seasons.. Every time the doctor regenerates and is recast, there is always a divide between the fans. Mainly in the new series, there is a solid amount of people who see David Tennant as the real Doctor, even though he hasn't been on the show for two seasons, being replaced by Matt Smith. People will always have their favorites, and stand behind them as the true actor for that role.
Luckily these example happen to have an extremely good supporting cast that can easily support the show after their stars depart. A very common theme throughout this seems to be that the essence of the character remains the same, to make it easier for different actors to filter through the role.

The Halloween Gods Bested Us

I should have known that a shoot scheduled for a Sunday on Halloween weekend at college wouldn't go smoothly. I woke up at 10 am prepared to film and things slowly fell apart as we discovered that one actor had left a sweatshirt at home over fall break causing huge continuity errors. Then as our team was almost fully assembled at 1130 we attempted to contact our star. No answers, until we get a call back half an hour later, not from the star, but from his room mates. They informed us they hadn't seen him since the night before and were concerned as well. So we called off our shoot for another day and now we race against mother nature begging that she doesn't drop 2 feet of snow on us. I feel your scheduling pain.

Now onto some analysis. The movie They Live, released in 1988 speaks of issues relevant today. In the movie a lower class construction workers stumbles upon a bunch of sunglasses that are more than they appear to be. They interpret the world as it actually is, and it's a scary world. All advertising is broken down to simple commands such as "Obey" or "Consume", all television programs and media had subliminal messages. To make matters worth, all people with a great deal of wealth or political power were revealed by the sunglasses to actually be aliens. The main character got fed up with all this and it led to this

I think that the general concept of They Live is a very blunt metaphor for what many people in the country are angry about. People are mad about the state of things. The middle class is disappearing as the wealthy get wealthier and the poor get poorer. Wall Street has its hand deep in politics, along with bankers, pharmaceutical companies, and defense. The Republican candidates fielded against Barack Obama seem like jokes, all while congress struggles to overcome 14 trillion dollars of debt. At times its hard to believe that some of the people in positions of power aren't actually aliens. But so many people are distracted by the media and being consumers that often times its hard to create change.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

What is a Halloween Movie?

Halloween is here and television channels are flooded with Halloween movies like Hocus Pocus and Nightmare Before Christmas. However during fall break I was home watching ABC Family and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory came on. Now don't get me wrong, I love that movie. Gene Wilder is one of my favorite actors, but...I would not call it a Halloween movie. It has candy...I guess that is Halloween related. ABC Family does that a lot. Harry Potter isn't really a Christmas movie either but they put all of them on during the season. I don't know ABC Family is weird.

The Importance of Scheduling

There are many elements of student films that make them look and feel like they are student made. Things like the availability of sets, the time allotted for the project, and the lack of experience can hinder the look of the final product.


One aspect that has hindered our project this semester is scheduling. When you have a group that is larger than 3 people it can be very difficult to have everyone able to help out every time. As a group not only do each members schedule need to be in sync, but you have to think of when the locations are available, when the actors are available, and when transportation is available.

I have found that even though most groups finish their project on the deadline, they wish they had more time to make it better than it actually turned out. I think having these fast deadlines help us and give us the ability to make the best finished product with what we have, so when we get a job, and hopefully it's a good one, and we have more opportunities and time with experienced people, we can make superb films and do a much better job.

Hopefully others feel the same and hopefully

Saturday, October 29, 2011

World on a Wire

This is a documentary by Juliane Lorenz on the making of the film "World on a Wire" (1973) by R. W. Fassbinder which has recently been restored after being "lost" for more than 10 years. It is a clear predecessor of films such as The Matrix but made when the concept of a personal computer was not in the public's mind.

This is Juliane Lorenz (Fassbinder's editor and the head of the Fassbinder Foundation) talking about his working method, with some shots showing him at work on the set of "Berlin Alexanderplatz",  a 14 episode TV film, totaling 15 1/2 hour film, which according to IMDb is the longest narrative ever made (I have not confirmed that)


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Community's Halloween Episodes and Parodies

To many people Community is a television series about a group of students at a community college but it is so much more than that. The series heavily uses pop culture references and meta-humor often parodying film and television clichés. These episodes include a holiday stop-motion episode, a clip show of memories that never happened, a parody of westerns, and even a recent episode that had seven alternate timelines. Every single of one these are worthy of an entire blog post but today in the spirit of Halloween I am focusing on their annual Halloween episodes.

In the first season their Halloween episode was called “Introduction to Statistics” and dealt with Jeff and his decision to blow off his study group’s Halloween party in order to score with the young Statistics professor. However the b-plot of the episode is a great parody of superhero films and Batman. Abed is a student that is obsessed with pop culture and entertainment, much like the show’s creator Dan Harmon and the writers. At Halloween he dresses up as Batman and more specifically as the Christian Bale reboot version. At the end of the episode he saves the day as a chair and desk fort begins to collapse on Jeff who is trying to comfort Pierce about realizing he is old and “un-hip.” Jeff is usually the first to complain about the absurd behavior of Abed but at the end of the episode after he made his decision to choose the study group over the teacher he accepts Abed, his behavior, and his new batch of friends. The ending moment is then a straight parody of the heroic music and narration Batman will often do which was just recently seen in the movie The Dark Knight.

Last season the Halloween episode was called “Epidemiology” but most fans know it has the zombie episode. In this episode the study group is left to fend for themselves when their classmates become “zombies” due to tainted food the Dean cheaply bought. While it was actually an outbreak of rabies instead of them actually being zombies, the episode features numerous horror movie clichés the would be seen in a zombie or horror movie. First was a cat rustling in an abandoned area. Many times in movies characters are often spooked by some animal like a cat flying past them when they are trying to hide and escape the real evil outside. Community parodied this by having the cat constantly keep reappearing and showing it unconvincingly flying across the screen. Another funny comment on horror movies the show made was on music. Usually horror movies have scary, dark, and very intense music but on Community the music was the greatest hits of ABBA mixed in with the Dean’s voice memos. Unable to leave that section of school to change the playlist, upbeat songs like “Dancing Queen” played as the zombies attacked and bit the study group. Finally another comment on horror movies (or any movie in general) came when Troy tries to run through crowd to save the day and turn down the thermostat (which is believe to slow down the symptoms of the zombies before they suffer brain damage). While normally the action hero will burst through the group and destroy all the bad guys in his path, Troy is immediately attacked and stopped. He ends up reaching the goal but after he was bit himself.

I love Community and their themed episodes like their past two Halloween episodes. Tomorrow night at 8 pm on NBC their third episode airs called “Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps” and I am sure based on the title and the prior history of the show that it will continue to make fun of and comment on horror movies, pop culture, and entertainment in general. I for one can’t wait for the hilarity and references to ensue.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A better city than New York

Last week, the new batman game Arkham City came out for gaming systems PS3 and Xbox 360. This new adventure is a continuation of a previous game called Arkham Asylum, which in my mind at the time, was the best 3rd person action game out on the market. However, this ne
w version of Batman has blown my mind. First off, the character looks awesome
, better than any other edition created before. His gear, mask, and cape look so aesthetic on my PS3 blue ray player. Take a look for yourself:

The next aspect I want to make notice is the music. Usually sound tracks to sports games are something that interest me, but this movie like game sets the tone for every scene. The music also grows or changes in how you play a
nd how you are doing when you fight. I haven't seen anything like this before. It's like the computer knows when you losing or about to die, then the upbeat fast music starts to soften and slow down.

Last, I want to comment on the villains. Each one has a different aspect and uniqueness than previous forms. The Joker, in my eyes, almost compares to the Heath Ledger adaptation in The Dark Knight. I would recommend this game to anyone who is looking for some action and an aesthetically pleasing movie/game.

The Little Horror Film That Could

Over the break, I finally got around to seeing a couple of movies that I've wanted to see for a while now. Now, I am ashamed to say that the night where I was home alone, I made the decision of having a "Paranormal Activity" night, because I am hoping to go and see the third one as soon as possible. BIG mistake. I don't think I even need to say this, but I didn't sleep at all that night.

As I lay in bed that night, (freaking out over every sound that my old house made,) I got to wondering why exactly movies like this make such an impact. Once I thought about it, there really wasn't that much about it that was very terrifying. Coming from someone who saw "The Exorcist" at age 12 and shrugged it off, I really couldn't figure out why I was so freaked out!

I finally came to the conclusion that the assurance at the beginning of both movies that the footage is "real" combined with a genius marketing campaign, set the entire series of movies up for success. Much like "The Blair Witch Project," the anticipation is as important as the actual actions themselves in the movie, which both movies have plenty of.

I've heard great things about the third movie, so I have to ask: who has seen it? Is it as good at the reviews make it out to be?


This happened at our shoot yesterday.

We were in the process of filming a scene in the basement of 505 East Seneca. It's an old basement with archaic fire sensors and cobwebs everywhere. Trying to light the damn room, therefore, proved to be a safety challenge as well as a technical one.

We were in the process of trying to figure out why the damn camera wasn't letting enough light through the lens -- ND filter, of all the things -- when CRACK! Something above a light broke, which set off an alarm throughout the house.

The tenants started panicking. We started panicking. None of the equipment broke. Thank Bajeezus, because if I died $13,000 in debt someone else was coming to Hell with me. Paige -- a friend not working on our shoot -- ran downstairs with the fire department on the phone. That was the last thing we needed. We were losing time and money. Yes, I know that we aren't getting paid for this, but... well... shut up!

Twenty minutes later, three fire trucks -- THREE FIRE TRUCKS -- showed up in front of the house. Firemen and firewomen thundered down the stairs in full uniform looking for something to spray. I should have taken a picture of the disappointment on their faces when they saw the alarm going off. It was priceless.

About half an hour later, they all left. So here we were: An hour behind schedule, shaky from a fire that never happened, ears bleeding from the alarm, afraid that our location hosts were pissed at us, and still needing to shoot an entire scene.

Short version: There was no fire, and I'm tired. Is the coffee done yet?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Battlefield 3

Ok so for all you gamers out there you know that Battlefield 3 came out at m
idnight this morning. For all those who are not gamers Battlefield three is the newest first person shooter game. My roommate, being a big gamer, bought the game right at midnight. He started playing it when he got back and I have to say it has amazing graphics.
BE ADVISED: they say be advised a lot in the multiplayer. With that being said, the multiplayer is awesome, the graphics are sick, good campaign mode, tons of guns to chose from, and lots of vehicles to fool around with.

Watching this game has made me think of how long and hard it must have been to make this game as flawless as it is. All of the scenery is explosive, so there is almost an endless amount of possibilities. I can't even imagine the coding involved with making this game. With that being said, its my turn to play.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

For Fall Break, I went to visit my friend who is studying abroad in Montreal and awkwardly tagged along with her class when they went to visit the CBC, the main broadcasting company in Canada, acting as the national radio and television broadcaster. It was formed in 1936 and is the longest running media corporation in Canada and hosts the most radio and news shows, airing in both English and French.
To start off the tour, we had to put on a fake newscast in a very realistic studio setting. They had students working in the control room and being both news anchors and reporters, the recording lasted about 20 minutes and had 5 segments. Unfortunately, I somehow got roped into being a reporter (because you can't just hang back when a frenchman calls you out) and ended up reading on camera as an automotive expert, and Shanghai reporter, Wong Lee. Complete with fake backgrounds, scripts and external video, it was a completely student run "broadcast" (Sorry for the bad quality of the pictures, they were taken from a phone).
After stumbling our way through that, we took a quick tour of the building, starting off with the main newsroom. They have approximately 200 people constantly monitoring news around the world and maintaining the CBC social media. In the same room they were filming a splitscreen for that evening between an anchor and a reporter on the other side of the room. We then went to go check out on of their main radio studios where they usually air live music and group interviews. While one of the guides played some dramatic background music on the piano, the other explained how the uneven stature of the walls prevented echos and created a very clean and quick sound. The very last stop on the tour was to their main television studio, which is the third largest studio in North America (about 6 times as large as Studio A here, minus the green curtain). They tend to film live studio shows here with an audience, but even then, they only take up about three fourths of the studio. They also mentioned that even with platforms or rugs down, the never show the floor in their studios, and thats how you tell if shows, especially soap operas, are filmed in a studio.
It was very similar to the BBC, which I toured when I studied in London, except the BBC put much more emphasis on their fiction shows, whereas the CBC is mainly news and radio. Also unlike the BBC, CBC employs commercial advertising in addition to it's federal funding, with the exception of radio. The building itself is a very prominent figure in the landscape, with a very futuristic feel to it on the inside.

Once Upon A Time

Once Upon A Time is a new show that premiered Sunday, October 23 to a magical 12.8 million viewers. I was intrigued to watch this show for many reasons two of which were the amazing cast and the fact that it is penned by the writers of the old show Lost. The fact that it was a modern spin on fairy-tales made it every more intriguing, but did give it a slight bit of doubt to see if they weren't just making a giant cliche. I later found out that an Ithaca College's alum (Liz Tigelaar, who I admire) was listed as a consulting producer and that made me even more excited to watch it.
Overall, I think it is safe to say that this show had a great premiere. It had the second highest viewers on a Sunday night while there was football and the World Series. I think that many of those millions who sat and watched the show agree that it lived up to it's hype. The show was suspenseful, had a nice hook, had great costumes, and great acting. The only thing that could have been better in my opinion, was the special effects....but hey getting great special effects on a TV budget is hard....or maybe it was the fact I was watching it on my computer. I look forward to seeing where this enchanting show goes and hope they live up to their current ratings.

Public Domain

As creators of media we deal with copyright law and public domain very often. At a student level it can be as simple as finding a good royalty free song or sound effect. But this can make or break a television studio.

This October break I drove to Burlington Vermont to visit a friend at UVM. It’s a 5-hour drive through a lot of radio dead spots, but while seeking through the stations I found an NPR story about television I found interesting. The program started by quoting television exec’s that fantasized about how great it would be to create a Twilight or Harry Potter television show. The royalty’s would be ridiculous and obviously impossible. The program then quoted the creator’s of the new television show Grimm asking “What can we do that is in public domain?”

I actually found the exact radio program again and you can read it or listen to it here. The two shows talked about in the show are Grimm and Once Upon a Time.