Sunday, November 28, 2010

My Blogging Experience...

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Before using the blog for RTF 305, I would only use blogs to review films, TV series, and music that I was interested in. Using the blog in RTF 305 made the lectures, screenings, and discussions more coherent , because the blogs were a chance to apply the information in a creative way.  The only difficulties I found using the blog at the beginning was trying to use videos as a visual in my posts. However, I quickly figured out how to use them, but found using pictures adapted my ideas better. 

I would definitely recommend using a blog in future RTF 305 and other undergraduate courses at UT. I find them creative and interesting. I enjoy applying the new information that I have learned in classes to something that is not a drag to take up my time. It's better than writing an essay or having to do some sort of extensive project. It's short and simple...gets the point across.

In the future, maybe students should be informed on how to do little tweaks in their blogs, like videos and making their pictures into collages. I figured this out on my own, but it would have been nice to be shown how to do this beforehand. Saves time.  

Yes, you can use my blog in a paper or report.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Globalization: Cultural Imperialism

Globalization is broadly the expansion of technological developments, pop culture, increased opportunities for communication, the exchange of material and symbolic goods, and the migration of people across national borders. 

Cultural Imperialism is a form of globalization that spreads one nations culture and language to other nations. American popular culture is spread all over the world. From the films, to music, and television, different nations have become Americanized. 

  • The late music artist, Michael Jackson, was not only a huge star in America, but was famous all over the world. 
  • The film trilogy, The Lord of the Rings is an American film based on an English novel series and filmed in New Zealand. 
  • British 'Pop Idol' is made in different countries with respecting country name as title: American Idol, Canadian Idol, Australian Idol, Greek Idol, etc. 
  • Different American films and television can be watched in different countries and vice versus. 
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Yahoo Images

The film 'Pan's Labyrinth'  was produced and distributed by the Mexican film company Esperanto Films. It was released in The United States, United Kingdom, and Canada. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Gossip Girl: Advertising Through Sexual Appeal

Take a look at the advertisement above. What do you think about when you observe it? The obvious answer would be SEX for most people. The funny thing about this answer is that the above advertisement is for the hit series on The CW network, Gossip Girl. The advertisement above is promoting the show's first season, which centered around young high school. Being a show about high school students, it is likely that its main audience will be HIGH SCHOOL students. So what is this advertisement telling HIGH SCHOOL students? Have sex! Why? Because it looks cool. The caption of the advertisement states that Gossip Girl is "Very Bad for you". Why would a promotional poster contradict itself? It is because the caption is a strategical gimmick to lure audiences in. Usually young audiences would be curious to see something that is supposedly bad for them. That is what makes it even more captivating. The contradicting captions are what makes the sexual acts on the posters look even more cool. At least that is what the advertisement team for Gossip Girl is banking on. 
Sex or Sexuality is considered a powerful tool in advertising and marketing.  People are curious about sex. It's human nature and this is what makes a product sell...or what gives a film or television show high ratings. No matter what the product is, a half naked woman or man would catch the attention of the opposite sex (or same sex) and the audience will either fantasize or wish that they looked like the person on the advertisement. As appealing as sex may be for advertising, advertisers have to be careful when using sex as a market strategy. Recently there have been people who have strongly opposed certain advertisement tactics and have taken the cases to court. In order to avoid this, advertisements should be appropriate for the product and convey an underlying message suitable for the product. However, this is not the case with some advertisements. Sex appeal is still sometimes used just because it looks cool.
The Gossip Girl season one promotional posters are prime examples of sexual appeal advertising due to the sexual nature and the captions that appear on them. The captions agree that the nature of the television show and the posters are "inappropriate" for the audiences that it most likely appeals to: high school students. The poster above states that the images are "every parents nightmare" which highly exemplifies that parents of the audiences will not approve of the sexual nature of the series and that their children should not be captivated by sex. Not at their age. As the captions are sort of contradicting the action of promotion, it uses it as an advantage, because high school students are usually rebellious and will most likely watch whatever they want despite what their parents agree to. Sexual appeal heightens a teenagers curiosity. This is the stage where people usually try to understand their own sexuality and the promotional posters not only entertain their audiences, but subtly makes them question who they are...sexually.

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Friday, October 29, 2010

Hollywood's Three-Act Structure: The Last Kiss

The Last Kiss

The Hollywood Three-Act Structure consists of the introduction, complication, and the resolution. This type of structure is usually used in films that will have a happy ending. The climax is shifted towards the end in this type of structure. One of my favorite films, The Last Kiss starring Zach Braff, uses the Three-Act Structure.

The Introduction - Consists of Act I and is approximately 30 minutes long (or a quarter of the film). This is the part of the film that introduces the characters and the relationships that connect them. It places the characters in a setting (time and place). The introduction introduces the main character(s), what the story is going to be about and the situations that surround the action. About half way through the Act I, an event happens that sets the plot of the film in motion. The first plot point is the end of Act I and it is an event that turns the plot in a new direction and leads to the second act. 

Michael and Jenna
 In The Last Kiss, the main character is introduced (Michael) and his girlfriend (Jenna) whom he is living with. They have something that is describes as a "perfect" relationship. Jenna is pregnant and the two are pressured by her parents to get married at a family dinner for Michael's 30th birthday. Jenna suggests that Michael has too much work (architect) to get married, but the truth is (unknown to everyone) is that Michael feels as though he is trapped and that his days of being youthful and free will be over. However, he considers Jenna his perfect companion. Also introduced are Michael's college buddies: Chris (who is trapped in a loveless marriage), Izzy (who's high school sweetheart recently left him and his life is falling apart), and Kenny (an spontaneous-carefree sex addict). The plot point of the first act is where Michael is at another college buddy's wedding and he meets Kim, a college student who makes Michael feel young again with her witty conversation. As Jenna suspiciously looks for Michael at the reception, he is alone talking with Kim and appears back in the crowd very nervous. He begins to have second thoughts about his commitment to Jenna and him settling down. 
Michael and Kim

The Confrontation - Consist of Act II and is approximately an hour long (60 minutes, two quarters of the film). The main character encounters obstacles that prevent him from achieving his goals. There is a point just before the halfway point of the film where the main character seems close to achieving his or her goal(s) or objective(s). Then, everything falls apart, which leads to the midpoint. The midpoint is the middle of the film where the main character has hit rock bottom and is far from reaching his/her goals. The second plot point occurs right before the third act. 

The confrontation in The Last Kiss occurs when Michael is invited to a college party by Kim and agrees to go acting on his impulses. He tells Jenna that he will be having a guy's night out with one of his best friends/co-worker, Chris and she believes him. However, he tells Chris that he will be hanging out with another friend, but Chris continues to question Michael about other friends, because they know all the same people. Michael reluctantly tells the truth and Chris is appalled that he would consider being with another woman besides Jenna. Michael, feeling guilty, still goes to the party with Kim where they begin to get closer and make-out. While Michael is with Kim, his other best friend's, Izzy, father has just past away and friends and family come over to his house for condolences, Jenna among them. She sees Chris there and questions where Michael is. Chris tries to lie and fight her away, but Jenna becomes more and more concerned and neurotic. She figures that Michael is with another woman. As Michael comes home, he tries to lie his way out of his true whereabouts to Jenna as she confronts him. He eventually tells the truth, and mention that he did not sleep with Kim. However, Jenna kicks him out and he ends up sleeping with Kim that same night out of loneliness. When Michael tries to leave the next morning without waking up Kim, he forgets his keys and returns to her dorm where she questions why he was not going to say good-bye. He makes up a quick lie as he realizes what a mistake he has made. As he leaves work that day, Kim shows up at his job unexpectedly (love struck) and Michael tells her about Jenna and the baby and Kim is upset and leaves.

The Resolution - Consists of Act III and is the last quarter of the film (30 minutes). The point at which the plot reaches its maximum tension and the characters opposing each other confront each other at a peak of physical or emotional action (fight, argument, ect). This is the climax. Then, there is a short period where the characters are calm and things turn for the better and all is well.

Michael is kicked out of the house
The Resolution in The Last Kiss begins when Michael goes to win back Jenna who is at her parents house. Jenna's father is upset with Michael and talks to him about commitment while Jenna will not allow Michael to see her. As all is almost forgiven, Michael feels guilty as Jenna forgives him and tells her that he slept with Kim. She is furious and runs away saying that she may not have the baby and drives back to their house. He follows her. Back at the house, Jenna is very confrontational with Michael and locks him out of the house. Michael decides to try to prove to her that he is truly sorry and he stays on the porch for a week without showering and through the rain and cold. Jenna eventually realizes that they truly love each  other and that Michael is sorry, so she finally lets him back in and all is forgiven. The End.
Michael and Jenna back on good notes

Friday, October 22, 2010

Boy Meets World: Sitcom Settings

Boy Meets World Cast

TV sitcoms (situation comedies) are filmed in various styles and locations. A few places where sitcoms are filmed include: on set in front of a live studio audience, filmed without an audience with or without a laugh track, and sometimes they are filmed on location. Sitcoms with an audience are usually filmed in a central area(s). The central area is what brings the characters together and they typically include hang-out spots and the living room of the main character's home. The set has three walls and essentially a fourth wall where the the cameras and audience "watch" the actors. The advantages of shooting on a set includes having a stable environment to improve continuity, sound, and lighting. Filming on location means that the show has to have a "dressed" area in the "real" world with props, the crew, and the cast. 

For comedy sitcoms, the setting is usually in a place where the characters can socially interact and stage different comedic conversations and actions. Theses places are usually in bars, burger joints (diners), a school's hallway or classroom, or in the living room or kitchen. The setting has to be big enough and realistic where the characters blend easily. The bars and diners and hallways/ classrooms are usually where friends and/or classmates and coworkers interact and the living room and kitchen are where families interact. There's usually a discussion being held about another character between multiple characters or a comedic lesson being taught. 

One of my favorite sitcoms is Boy Meets World which has multiple settings that generalize the type of situations the characters will be involved in. The following are examples.

Setting #1: Mr. Fenney's classroom is largely used to teach the  main character, Cory, a lesson along with his classmates and friends. The earlier years of the show usually began in the classroom where Cory would interrupt Mr. Feeny's teachings with a childish insult or remark about why he doesn't care about or understand the lesson. 

Setting# 2: The hallway is essentially break time for the characters. Cory and his friends, Shawn and Topanga, usually demonstrate certain issues that are going on at the school or they are discussing matters that are going on in their personal lives. Above is a picture of Cory and Shawn wearing cheerleader uniforms from a dare by the school bully. 

Setting #3: The Matthews's house kitchen is where the Matthews brothers, Cory and Eric are taught lessons by their parents, Amy and Alan, about life and general school issues that the boys are experiencing. The kitchen is also where Cory ands his friends figure out things for themselves or hang out. 

Setting #4: The living room is where the characters typically relax and discuss key moments that have went on in the episode. The Matthews family usually have their friends over. The characters usually have the TV on or they are doing some sort of activity like decorating the Christmas tree, "studying", making out with a lover, talking, etc. 

Setting #5: The Matthews/ Mr. Feeny's backyard is where the characters confide in the neighbor/teacher Mr. Feeny with their personal and school issues. Mr. Feeny is usually rather annoyed and wise. Eric Matthews usually does his infamous "Feeny Call" in the backyard. 

Setting #6: A filming on location episode includes the Disney World episode where Cory and Shawn ditch school to win Topanga's love back for Cory as she is on a school trip.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Smallville: A Close Up of the Man of Steel

Focusing  on the scene from episode "Nemesis" of the sixth season of Smallville where leading character, Clark Kent is saved from a caving underground piping system loaded with kryptonite by the love of his life (then) Lana Lang. Oh, must I not forget, he was trapped with his arch-nemesis, Lex Luthor, Lana Lang's then husband. 

The first shot is a LONG SHOT / orientation shot where the camera is placed far away to give a view of where the character is and the situation. This shot introduces the beginning of the scene, which is Clark Kent seeing Lana Lang after escaping from the piping system with Lex Luthor. The audience sees the location and is aware of the situation behind the characters, because of the long shot. The shot also makes the character appear lonely due to the amount of space surrounding the character. Clark Kent is placed in the middle of the scene and is standing still, while the characters behind him are in motion. 
The next shot is the MEDIUM SHOT / information shot. This shot confirms that it was a specific character in the long shot. This shot is a continuation or further development of the actions that were in the long shot and are in the scene. Here, the shot confirms that this is indeed Clark Kent in the scene and the audience gets to see the reaction on his face as he sees Lana Lang. 
The last shot is the CLOSE UP shot / important detail shot and it zooms in on the character's facial expression where the audience can see the emotions and feelings the character is expressing. The shot should naturally flow after a medium shot, but is emotionally revealing. Here, the audience sees how emotional Clark Kent is as he sees Lana Lang, noting that this expression is love. 

Here's a bit more of the scene:

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Evolution of Special Effects in the Hollywood Studio System

Take a look at the photos above. Both are scene clips from the film, King Kong. What are the obvious differences? The 1933 version of King Kong was a puppet type figure while the 2005 version was built and operated by motion sensor by actor Andy Serkis. The techniques used today are more complex than the techniques used in special effects for earlier films and TV. Today, special effects make the visuals appear more realistic and engaging. However, at the time, the earlier techniques did the same for audiences of the earlier generations. 

The Hollywood studio is well know for its use of special effects in films and TV series. Seeing is believing, and if the film makers want audiences to believe that there is a 50 foot woman walking around taking vengeance on men (Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, 1958), a muscular cyborg from the future set out to destroy an unborn child (The Terminator, 1984), astronauts who travel to the far future to a world where primates rule and humans are inferior (Planet of the Apes, 1968), or a boy who discovers he's a wizard and that there is a whole world of magic (Harry Potter, 2001), the special effects will make you believe it...or at least attempt to make you believe.

Early types of special effects include stop-actionrear projection, and front projection. Imagine that a character was going to leap unto a tree. The camera would stop as the character appeared to go into a leap and start again, giving the character enough time to actually be placed on the tree. This is called stop-action effect. Rear and front projection allows the characters to be placed in the foreground of an image or infront of the image to look as if they are a part of it (Media Now).

Later types of special affects were largely computer generated. Green screen and motion capture are techniques largely used. Imagine blades being thrown at a character and stabbing him gruesomely. With green screen, the blades could be computer generated and the actor would be placed in front of the green screen and later placed in the sequence to appear as though he was actually there. With motion capture, an actor would use sensors to be connected to the computer assembled being and the sensors allow the actor to play out the motions for the being (Media Now).

With special effects, all sorts of films and TV series were and are possible. Special effects took over the aging process instead of different actors playing younger/older versions of characters, different worlds and creatures can be made, death scenes are more gruesome, comic-book superheroes become live-action, explosions become more extreme, and magic can be made. Special Effects add more to audience imaginations and broaden the minds of viewers. The Hollywood studio system continues to evolve special effects, now with the '3D effect'.

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