Monday, December 7, 2009

6x1 Le Deuxième

First of all, I apologize for not being more diligent with my blogging these past few weeks. Truth be told, I don't really remember November because I was so busy.

It's not the trouble of logging on or writing something that is the issue with the blog. It's mainly the length that we are required to write. 600 words is a pain in the ass to crank out when you have tons of other shit to do already. I know we are free to write about whatever we may like, but in the time it takes me to sit down and think of 600 words to write, I could be working on our class projects, or my 495 animation that acts like a black whole when it comes to time.

So if I could design 6x1, the second, I would adjust the blog lengths. Even 300 words is a thousand times more manageable than 600. If the blogs are designed to replace a midterm/final exam, let's contemplate that for a second. We have had been assigned 14 blog posts this semester, at 600 words each, that is a total of 8,400 words we are required to write. Type that many double-spaced-12-point-font words into Word and you get 20.5 pages. I have never been required in any of my critical studies classes to write a 20 page paper. Furthermore, if these blogs are substituting a midterm/final, how in the world does a 20 page paper equate to an exam, or even a final paper, for a production class?

I would dread writing my blog posts, even the idea was unpleasant, where would I pull 600 mindless words this week? Something shorter and more manageable would make for a more interesting and genuine blogging experience. Not only for the students, but also our fearless leader, who had the unpleasant job of reading our word-garbage-droning week by week.

That would be my only adjustment to 6x1, le deuxieme.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The World Vs. The World

If the digital revolution/era had a favorite color it would be grey. I think it's wonderful that today people can be so in touch with strangers, form connections with people they might never have been able to 50 years ago. At the same time, while we are so connected I feel we are also completely disconnected.

In the case of the Molotov Man, I do think the photographer, Susan Meiselas, had every right to feel her photograph was losing its importance by being appropriated. I also feel that she had the right to be given credit for the original photographs. Without Susan being present at that moment, capturing that Nicaraguan man's emotion, Joy Garnett would never have created her own version of the Molotov Man. So without Susan, there would have been no catalytic element to Joy's art exhibit.

Joy had every right to take the photograph and recreate/appropriate Susan's photograph. Joy wasn't copying the photo and passing it off as her own. She was inspired by it and made an entirely new piece of art, using an entirely different medium from the original. What Joy did was not plagiarism or wrong.

Luckily this little situation seemed to just work itself out. I understand Susan's frustration that her image suddenly became this symbol for something entirely out of context from the original. But a little blurb in an art exhibit brochure would have taken care of that. I only think there is an issue with appropriating original work when the appropriator tries to take full credit for the concept/idea/medium/everything. And I do think that there are people out there who would, and probably do, do just that. Which is a shame, because why would you not want people to see and share the artwork (assuming it's art), and future works of art by the same artist, that inspired you to create something new, with your friends.

Wasn't there a similar problem with the red, white, and blue Obama faces? Where one person thought another person's style of artwork was awesome, so they mimicked it, maybe even copied it, onto the face of Obama. I'd be flattered if I were the original artist, people were wearing those shirts everywhere.

In the plain and simple, I don't think it's wrong or inappropriate, dishonest, plagiarism, illegal, to take any work by another person, recreate it and make it your own NEW and unique work. However, I do think it is fair to give credit to the original artist. I think it'd be neat to see something made by me, appropriated. It's cool how we all see certain things and think differently about them.

With the digital age making the world available to us, I think it's important that we try and retain our uniqueness, individuality, and find common ground within. I think appropriation of artwork is damn cool.

ps- The Molotov Man looks like Che Guevara, no?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Bolex For Life

I loved shooting off the Bolex on 16mm. Even more, I liked that we got to develop the film right after the shoot. I'm all about the instant gratification.

The whole process of loading the film, making sure it was feeding right, and taking care not to expose it too much, really made me feel the pressure. I can't even imagine the stress loaders had, when people only used to shoot on 16mm. If they fucked up, everything was screwed. That's some serious pressure especially when it comes to making features.

I'm also kind of sad that I'm a senior and this is the first time I've actually worked with 16mm. I feel like that should have been more a part of my education. However, I do understand it's expensive, and the funding for buying film stock just isn't present. So I'm very grateful that I did, in fact, get to work with the Bolex on Saturday, even if it was only for a little bit.

The planning of the shoot was crucial, since we only had 56 seconds to accomplish something. And I think our skit with the magic tent played out beautifully. It's weird to think that we created a complete narrative in that little amount of time. At some times I felt like I was channeling the Lumiere Brothers or Melies, to think that they used to only make films like we were on Saturday blows my mind. That's pretty incredible. Not only that, it's incredible how far filmmaking has come since then, a little over 100 years?! That's nothing!

After we were all done, I liked watching how the other groups used their time and how some of us came up with similar ideas, theatrics. It was really neat how we all helped each other out. I've really enjoyed to community we've built in our class and how we are all keen to pitch in where needed. Teamwork, fuck yeah!

Friday, October 9, 2009

I really want to know what our mystery prop is going to be. Maybe it's due to that mystery that I'm pretty excited about this project.

Working without a video camera actually isn't that big of a deal. Probably because I almost have a years worth of time put into making animations without any cameras. I don't want to just rest on my laurels though, I'm going to try and not use most of the techniques I already employ. I want this to be a challenge. I'm going to mainly try photocopying, making sunlight prints, and using my phone's camera (which isn't one of the fancy types and is my only digital camera), and probably a 35 mm camera of some sort.

I guess I'm a little nervous about the 48 hour aspect. Which could be tricky because I'm a perfectionist, which normally makes working fast, difficult. I think I'm already going to think out my concept and just fit the mystery prop in, whether it makes sense or not.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Bow down to the Scratch Film Junkies

There’s a tendency, after watching experimental films, or viewing a modern art exhibit to say, “That’s not art, a kindergartener could do that.” Even though I’m ashamed to admit it, I’ve said that before even after watching films by Brakhage (gasps!).

Knowing what I know now, after completing the “elements” project, I have so much more respect for the art of manipulating film. Nothing I did on the project came out as I thought it would. I tried to make a plan for scratching and painting, but when it came to actually manipulating the film my plans seemed to fly out the window. There’s so much to think about, but all I could manage was to wonder how the colors were going to show up when projected.

When we watched the Scratch Film Junkies last class, I was able to follow along with some of the techniques they used. Which was fun, because the first couple weeks of class I was pretty baffled at how they did anything. Five weeks later, I'm still baffled at their work, but now it's because of how organized their films are. It takes so much more work than I could have ever thought to make a film as cool as one by the Scratch Film Junkies. I had enough trouble getting results that were predictable, I can't even imagine trying to add sound to the film, or even creating it according a sound track.

I guess what I'd like to see now, to further understand the process, would maybe be a storyboard of one of their films. Or see how they plan the whole thing out, that must be crazy detailed.

I could also be wrong in my musings about controlling the process, they may just be painting haphazardly, but I doubt it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

No more Chion, please... ever.

If I never read another thing by that damned Michel Chion, I will be a very happy person. I’ve written two research papers on sound before and let me tell you what, filmy people must think Chion has Jesus’ ears. He’s referred to in almost every text on sound and I don’t understand why.

My main issue with Chion is that he can’t write about sound in a way I gain information from his texts. If learning wasn’t important in my approach to reading his articles, I’d at least want to be able to relate to what he’s writing, but I simply cannot. He is awesome for referring to when you need a little tidbit of flowery language about sound to quote for research papers though.

In this article, “Projections of Sound on Image” (for that matter, in everything else he writes), Chion tells us that adding sound, be that music, dialogue, or sound effects, to an image can drastically change the meaning. Who knew? I’m fairly certain in my assumption that as film scholars, we understand that sound is one of the most pivotal elements in cinema. I think Chion's issue is that the average movie go-er doesn't completely realize how much sound can change an image. The average movie go-er has probably also never edited raw footage, before all the fantastic elements of sound were added. The public doesn't seek out the opportunity to witness these differences. So, Mr. Chion, just calm down, us filmmakers and scholars know sound is important.

Also, Mr. Chion, the sad thing is, I completely agree with your sentiments about sound, but the fact that I had to eat 3 popsicles while reading this article to stay interested is not OK.

Don't Lie Mr. Wells we know you had Mickey Mouse sheets when you were a little boy.

Wells never outwardly said that the orthodox style of cel animation is bad, but his tone sure did. I thought his comparison between experimental animation and orthodox animation was accurate, like that chart he made, yes that was good, and easy to read. Yes, traditional animation is narrative, easy to understand, and completely easy to watch. I gathered from this reading that Wells thinks this a sophomoric way to animate.

I grew up watching Disney films and cartoons. I love them. I can remember watching the Little Mermaid, Robin Hood, and 101 Dalmatians over and over again if I was home from school sick. In fact, I own two VCRs just so I can still watch my Disney VHS tapes either in the living room or my bedroom. For as much as Wells seems to poo-poo classic cartoons, they sure are popular.

As a very amateur animator myself, I think I can offer a unique perspective. I don’t animate like the orthodox Disney model. I’m not even sure what you’d call my style of animation, but it sure doesn’t scream Donald Duck. I don’t think Wells would go so far as to call experimental either. I like alternative forms of animation and that’s also how I like to animate. I like watching Robot Chicken late at night, but every now and then it’s fun to watch Fantasia too. Thinking outside of the box when trying to animate is something that is really fun, like using a scanner, or still photography.

I feel Wells’ frustration with the lack of mainstream experimental animation. But honestly, I don’t think there is a market for it outside of the film festival/art community circuit. Which is sad, because there are some awesome animated films that never get the fame they deserve. What I gathered from Wells’ “Theory on Animation” was almost like every other article I’ve read that compares a classic model for cinema versus the cinema of the filmmakers who try to stick it to the man.

Yes I will let my children watch Disney cartoons, but I will also throw in a little Harry Smith, just to blow their minds a little bit.