If Only I Could Have Smelled The Roses

That final project was the most enjoyable thing I’ve done in a long time. I have always had idea’s for stories to tell or plots to weave and traditionally I would either start writing them down with the hope that I would one day finish them and they would just go unfinished or I would start incorporating them into my Dungeon’s and Dragons games, but that never turned out how I wanted it to because in D&D it’s the groups collective story, not just yours. This is the first time I’ve actually started and completed a story, even if it was a short story. And that makes me feel good.

The story of Gareth and the Hunter is one of the idea’s I’ve had floating around in my head for a long time, since about October 2014 when I first got into the lore of the Destiny universe. The execution of the story here was not exactly the original vision I had in mind for the story, but technical limitations and time constraints prevent me from making an entire expansion for Destiny. Regardless of the results distance from the original vision, I’m proud of the story I’ve woven here.

This course turned out to be a good bit more interesting than I originally thought it would be. I actually had fun with some of these assignments. This last one obviously being the most fun to make. Learning how to do audio and video editing has always been one of the things that I’ve wanted to learn but never had the push to start and this course was the push I need. That being said, I would not have taken this course had I know what it was going to be like. At least, I wouldn’t have taken it this summer. Having to juggle this course and a full time job turned out to be a whole lot harder than I’d have thought. So, I would have told past me to wait till I have the time to actually devote to this class because I fully believe I’d have enjoyed it more if I had had time to smell the roses.

Making the Hunt

Lets take a walk through all the pieces of my final story.

Missing Person – 3 1/2 stars:

For part one I chose to make a missing person poster to set up what this story was going to be about.

To do this I had to come up with all the information for my character. That was the easy step. As my character is a fictional one I just made up a bunch of info that worked for the screenshot I took of one of my Destiny characters.

After I had my reference photo it was time to fill out a missing person poster. I looked up examples for posters and then started to make my own on Google Docs.

I did some formatting to make it look and read better and inserted the image of my character, cropped to fit. I added in some context information so that the poster would be related to the rest of the story. And then downloaded it as an image.

A Day In the Life of My Character – 3 1/2 stars:

Next I wanted to tell a short story about the motivations of the character whose perspective we follow throughout the story. This is actually what my story was based on and where the original idea came from.

To start I booted up audacity and started recording. It took a few takes before I felt I decently got the voice of the character.

Once I had the voice of the character done. I wanted to add a little ambiance. To do this I went to freesound.org. I got some static, a little bit of crackling fire, and an electronic click for a end of recording sound.

I layered all those together and came away with a cautionary tale told by a campfire.

Can You See What I See – 3 1/2 stars:

For my visual component I wanted to show a dark image of what our Warlock character finds on his quest for answers. I do this by creating an image reflecting that of what he sees.

Again I head to my Xbox and boot up Destiny to create an image that works for the event I’m trying to depict. I had to kill my character more times than I’d like to get this image.

Once I had that image I needed the eye to reflect it off of. Now, I tried to use an image of my own eye by they all turned out dark and blurry and wouldn’t have made for a good image. So I took to the internet found an eye and began to edit it in GIMP.

I layered the screenshot from Destiny over the eye, set the opacity to 60% and trimmed it so that I lined up with the shape of the eye.

After that I shaded id red to highlight the emotion of the character. The final product isn’t perfect but any less or more opaque and it looked worse.

Have A Phone Conversation With Yourself – 4 1/2 stars + My Favorite Thing To Do – 4 stars:

For this one I had to combine two different assignments to get the final product I wanted. First lets look at the phone conversation with yourself.

To make a phone conversation with myself I wrote up the script of dialogue I wanted to have for the character and his Ghost. I went into audacity and recoded one half of the conversation. Then I recorded another layer with the other half of the conversation.

With just the two voices being the same it didn’t sound right. So I selected the Ghost’s dialogue and used an effect to up pitched it until it sounded distinctly different and somewhat robotic.

With the audio properly spaced and edited to sound right, I took to Destiny for part two of this portion. I used Xbox One’s built in DVR function to record some game play in the area that this story was to take place. I used this as the footage to show what my favorite thing to do is, and as the context for the audio that was recorded between the two characters. I used Adobe Premiere to edit the video.

With the video edited to match up with the audio I exported it in H-264 .mp4 format and uploaded it to my blog.

And Cut!

Man, This week was not a good week for me. I wasn’t able to start anything for any assignment until Sunday afternoon and thus I didn’t actually get anything done. I took a look at the two analysis assignments we had to do for the week and was able to get those done. I actually enjoyed looking at and listening to a scene to try and analyze how the visual and audio elements of it make the whole scene come together. I learned a good bit about looking at a scene to determine what the elements are meant to convey to the audience using Ebert’s tips.

I know that my storytelling definitely didn’t improve from last week. That make’s me sad. I’d very much have liked to have gotten to complete more assignments. I was able to complete all my daily creates for the week, squeaking out enough time to get four of those done. This week was a hefty step backwards and I hope that it isn’t a hefty step off a cliff.

Next Time, I Wouldn’t Bring Damon

The scene starts with the crew in the background of the shot as they move towards the camera and start moving from left to right,both of these changes are in the positive direction. This is meant to set up the scene as a good thing they are moving towards. Once they are in the shop and talking with someone Matt Damon’s character is constantly put in the left side of the screen with the person they are talking with center right of the screen. This positioning shows that the other person holds some form of importance. The lighting of the scene also adds a sense of gravity to the meeting, while Brad Pitt, George Clooney and the other person are all highlighted with red light and dark backgrounds, Damon’s character is less red and has a background out the window of the shop to bright daylight, a contrast that could imply some form of his character being out of place among the group. After the meeting the three of them are shown leaving the shop moving from right to left, in a negative direction, indicating that the meeting didn’t go well or something bad is about to happen.

Analyzing the audio we start with the characters of Clooney and Pitt rattling off multiple points at a fast pace. After the quick pep talk we are moved into a point halfway through a joke from the unknown person. The joke is concluded with some fake laughter. Whether this laughter is nervous or forced is unknown. Immediately after the forced laughter, the scene goes quiet and the only thing heard is the sounds of a cafe in the background. Next is some quiet, poetic quotes back and forth as some form of unknown code is passed between the parties of thieves. Once Damon’s character recites some poem the scene goes silent indicating some misstep on his part. Next we hear the party leave the cafe and Damon is told that he somehow managed to insult their contacts niece. The scene ends with Damon’s character being told that he is to stay here.

Combining the visual and audio we can get the full story of what happens. They trio of Clooney, Pitt, and Damon are walking up the street talking about what Damon specifically should and shouldn’t do at the meeting. In the cafe we again hear the end of a joke and the forced laughter of the group until Damon eventually joins the laughing and everyone stops once they’ve all laughed. The conversation turns to business as the contact puts it and the odd coded phrases are passed back and forth while Damon is quiet and unsure of what to do until their contact looks to Damon for the next piece of the conversation. He quotes, nervously, a poem and the entire group false silent as their contact stares down Damon and Clooney and Pitt look at him stunned like they don’t can’t believe he said that. Once the Clooney and Pitt leave the cafe to rejoin with Damon, who apparently had been sent outside to wait, it is revealed that he insulted their contacts niece and that Damon’s going to stay outside.

With only parts of the scene at a time the story was lacking, with just the visual we couldn’t hear what was being said or how it was being said. The part with Damon insulting the niece was completely absent. The sense that the meeting didn’t go well was still there but it wasn’t clear. With just the audio we couldn’t see the reactions of the people, until we were told what happened in the cafe we didn’t know that the contact looked so angry or that Clooney and Pitt looked so shocked by Damon. Only once we put both the visual and the audio together did we get the full weight of the scene.

What Makes a Scene

Reading through Roger Eberts “How to Read a Movie” showed me there are multiple components to a movie that are used and seen that are not always conscience patterns. In his explanation of what it means to read a movie he analyzes a scene from the movie Notorious from 1946. In this scene he highlights the positions of all the actors one positioned on the strong axis, one in the foreground and one in the background, through the scene Cary Grant’s character moves from left to right and turns his back on the camera actions that, without words, indicate negativity and less favorable emotions from the character. These components of the shot are things that I would not have noticed before. I would have noticed the emotions of the character but not so why. Now that Ebert has pointed out these elements that influence the scene I understand more of what it takes to create a feeling or mood with cinematography.

With this new look at movies I took to examining the scenes in “Top 20 Cinematic Techniques” and “Tarantino From Below“. The Children of Men scenes show primarily movement from right to left indicating something negative, from Atonement the background constantly being moved from elements in the foreground shows the eagerness to put the negative things behind the characters, in the scene from the Lord of the Rings the camera moves from left to right show a positive movement towards the future, with the scenes from Kill Bill the movement from left to right indicates a positive shift and the perceived angle provided by the stairs implies a forced movement towards the future. All these elements add subtle and not so subtly to the mood that is being set. In all the shots in From Below the use of the upward angle makes the audience feel as though they characters on screen have more power.

Now that I have read about how these previously overlooked elements of a shot can affect the final scene and examined a collection of different executions of their use I feel like I will be more mindful of how a movie portrays its scenes more and less about what it is portraying. I think that these elements create certain feels to a scene because of how we as humans see certain actions and movements, such as someone turning their back to you is seen as negative, when these actions are implemented in a scene they convey those thoughts without anything other than the shot itself. I’m not sure if I like the fact that this will affect my movie viewing as I don’t know if it will end up distracting me from enjoying the content. Only time will tell.