So I just watched Kung Fu Panda 3 with my girlfriend today. By Odin’s beard that was a good movie! In fact the whole trilogy is good! This is the type of movies I want to make, family friendly, funny to all ages,, and tell a good story with lovable characters without simplifying too much for adults not enjoy. Because of this movie, it got me thinking about what makes these movies good. First and obvious is the animation, the art style that create vastly different shape characters and nods at the Bruce Lee action movies and comic books. The second thing is the setting. Ancient china, characters animals, and kung fu is practiced for good. But the best thing I saw in the movie what the main character, Po, struggles with in all three movies. Po struggles knowing who he is and so his adventures are ways of self discovery. This theme is something we can all relate to, anyone from any age. There’s also a fear of losing a loved one. Losing a son, a friend, and even losing a mentor. These are common fears in all the movies and again relatable. If I can use any movie to learn storytelling techniques from, Kung Fu Panda would be it!
As I’m working on my screenplay, I encounter a road block. I forgot to work on making a character dynamic! My two main characters, Blaze and Slim Jim, grew up with two characters named Lock Jaw and Dennis. Yeah Dennis isn’t a very exciting name compared to the other 3, but he is a recent character I created. And since he’s a recently created character, I forgot to work on his characteristics! Since the character is an African Wild Dog, I’ve only come up with him having a short attention span and easily distracted. He enjoys chewing on bones, like a dog would, and has a love for the outdoors. Besides these, I don’t have anything else. Like with my other characters, I need to develop his interests, fears, motivations, goals and most importantly 2 emotional characteristics that I can “label” his actions under. Having all these written out for Dennis will not only make him more interesting and unique, but it will help me out when developing the story with him. I’ll know exactly how he will react to any situations while making sure his actions remain unique. Since my story has introduced Dennis, I’ll have to spend a little time developing him as a character before continuing on.
Out of the past weeks, I can say this week's film and book has been exciting and interesting to say the least. I'm not going to lie, I was hesitant on reading The White Album. Mostly because it's not a book I normally wouldn't read. But as I began to read, I began to grow an interest in the book and how it is set up. The first thing that I noticed was the format, a series of essays laid out together to create a pseudo narrative. The book is non-fiction, but yet there's a story, following the work of Joan Didion. These essays are mini-stories, some of which I enjoyed reading but all of them I could breakdown and find techniques that I can use for future projects. Probably my favorite book from this class so far. The movie Masculin/Feminin, was certainly a different movie from what I'm used to watching. What I enjoyed about the movie was the juxtaposition of documentary and film. Not only that, they make it obvious that it's a movie. The main character, Paul, is practically surrounded by death. A man stabs himself in front of Paul, he resounds to that guys injury, but the scene ends and the next scene does not acknowledge it ever happening. It sucked that it was in French because I wanted to write more notes down, but by doing so I would be distracted from the subtitles. And I absolutely love the ending! So suddenly and caught me off guard! So far my favorite week out of the program.
What a week! The book and movie that we had to go over this week were tough! A lot different from what I have read and watch in the past. I have never read a book like The Rings of Saturn before. The book was probably the worse of the two this week. I’m not saying that every book I read has to be interesting or something I like, but I should still be able to break down a book and recognize storytelling elements. This book I didn’t not enjoy reading because of the lack of story, or at least an obvious one that I could retell to other people. There were no characters to relate to nor anything that would keep me wanting to read more (other than the fact it was a homework assignment). Overall I could not gather techniques of storytelling that I could bring to my own set of skills nor use for my future career as an animator. Thus why I didn’t like the book. The movie also lack a story and a hook to capture my attention. However, the use of visual techniques in the movie is something I did take note of as they still played a major role in the movie along with the verbal narrative.
The Rings Of Saturn
The Rings Of Saturn is a book that is quite different from the books that we have read in the past 3 weeks. This is a narrative just like the other books, however, the format of this book is written as if the viewer has an inside look into the narrator’s mind as he recounts his adventure of Suffolk. As the narrator goes on his walking tour, he delves into the history of the places he visits. As I read this book, I found it very hard to follow the story and keep my interest. Because of this, I’m not sure what I wan to talk about since nothing peaks my interests.
Before I start accusing the book of being crappy or pointless, I want to first talk about where I’m coming from as student. First of all, my educational career has been focused on visual storytelling. Most notably animation as the form of storytelling. And what inspired me to pursue this interest of mine were from watching animated movies and tv shows. Because of these interests, I have grown to the typical 3 act stories and having a target audience. I took this class to learn techniques that could make stories interesting, capturing the heart and minds of the audience. Techniques that I could help me out in my dream goal of being an animator for Pixar. Needless to say my knowledge of literature storytelling let alone artistic exploration of writing.
When I began reading this book, like all the books in the past few weeks, I went in with an open mind and eagerness to learn storytelling techniques. As I read the book, I found it very hard to read. The book is written in a form where the viewer gets an inside look into the narrative’s mind. Meaning that it reads off as a bunch of thoughts of different topics seamlessly together. Because each chapter has anywhere between 5 and 15 subjects, the overarching story becomes fuzzy and hard to follow. The amount of times the chapter switches topics, I find myself difficult to continue reading. It could just be what I find interesting to read, but when I read this book I find myself falling into random thought, in the same way that the book is written. This is why I find this book to fail on its form of writing. It could be because I’m not in the “target audience” that the author had in mind but as far as finding a technique that can capture a wide audience, this one did not work well for me.
If I have to give a compliment to the writing, it would be the vividly described passages. The writer would have a whole page dedicated to describe a mountain top or the room of an office. The reason why I appreciate this is because I am a visual person. As an artist, especially one that works with movies, we come across projects where we have to create an image based on written description. Not only was this book descriptive, I could imagine the scene playing out in my in my head, being painted as I read. This is important because I can use this technique in my screenwriting. In screenwriting, visual description is important because it helps lay out the scene, set the mood and even the characters. In a live action movie, this type of description can help out greatly with designing sets and getting establishing shots. In an animation, it helps the artist capture what the writer and director envision. One thing I have to worry about is having too much description in a script. Each page on a script is suppose to translate to one minute on screen, so having a page long writing to describe a scene won’t fly to well with a director.
All in all the book is very confusing. The format makes it hard to follow, the story is hard to figure out and there are no characters I can relate to. From my background and goals for learning storytelling, I would say this book book failed at writing compelling story. The book did succeed on describing visuals and painting pictures for the viewers to imagine and the individual history stories stood alone on being interested. Overall I’m disappointed in the fact that I was unable to learn much from this book nor can I use this book for future references.
Eye of the Story
In this day and age, visual storytelling has become a part of our daily lives. From movies and tv shows, to videos on social media and video sharing websites. With such an easy access to watching a movie, we tend to forget how the information that we get is presented. So far in class, we have watched 6 different movies. And each movie has its story and each had their own way of presenting their information. The reason why this is important because visual techniques help emphasize emotions during movie.
In Week 1, we watched the movie Do The Right Thing directed by Spike Lee. The movie centers around Mookie and an his neighborhood in Brooklyn on the hottest day of the year. As the heat rises, tension builds between the characters until their hate is released in a violent turn of events. Visually, the movie use a lot of red in the scene, mostly used in the environment surrounding the characters. Combine the use of warm color pallets and and the visual ques of people sweating all help emphasize the day being extremely hot. So as the story plays along, the subtle hints of heat help reinforce the constant tensions and emotions. Another use of visual technique is with the character Radio Raheem. Throughout the whole movie, Raheem uses his size to impose on other people. Though the character is already a tall man, but it was emphasized even more with the use low angle and high angle shots. High angle shots are when the camera is placed high and pointed below horizon level, meanwhile low angle shots are when the camera is placed low and pointed about horizon level. High and low angles are used in back and forth shots when Raheem talks with other people. When someone is talking to Raheem, a high angle shot is used to give the illusion that the character is shorter than they are. When Raheem is speaks, a low angle shot is used to give the illusion that he’s taller.
Unlike Do The Right Thing, Smell Of Burning Ants was a composite of found footage spliced together to give the illusion that it was purposely film as a documentary, or at least that’s how I interpreted it. Two reasons gave me the idea that it was suppose to be a documentary was the narration of the film and the occasional shot of a camera guy. The main visual technique that’s used in this movie is the obvious slicing of found footage to make a new narrative. And what helps tie all the footage together is that each shot was in black and white. The other reason why I believed that it’s suppose to be a documentary is because of the narrative audio, describing the life of an adolescent boy. Although the audio is not a visual technique, it really helps ties all the shots together. Without the video, the audio just becomes a spoken poem. Without the audio, the video becomes a random mix of found footage.
Gently Down The Stream, just like The Smell Of Burning Ants, uses found footage to create a narrative. And just like Burning Ants, Gently Down The Stream has a blue filter on it’s footage to help tie each shot together. Unlike all the other movies we have watched, this movie had no audio and the narrative was given through text etched into the film itself. Also unlike the other movies we watched, the story is not straight forward. The story is vague, if you can even call it a story. It’s more poetic or random thoughts put together to provoke emotions. As I do not remember what was written on the movie exactly, but I do remember some of it being sexual related and thus spurring emotions. The content of the videos had a theme in itself, each shot had water in them. Some shots of a woman rowing, dipping into a swimming pool, and shots of an ocean from different locations. How this ties together the overall content of the movie I’m not sure, but visually it has it’s own artistic signiture.
The D Train, another movie using found footage! What makes this one unique is the pace of the move and that it had no verbal or written narrative. But without a verbal or written narrative, the movie was put together well enough that a narrative can be taken in. Also unlike the other movies, a filter was not applied to the movie as a whole. In short, the movie is about an old man’s physical journey on a train to a park while remembering his life. From childhood to adulthood. This movie is interesting because of its pace. Every shot had vigorous motion in it, people danced, people ran around, rides in motion at a carnival, even a time laps of a plant growing. Visually, the movie did a good job showing the business of the old man’s life while in the “present” everything is rather calm yet still moving. What helps give off the feel of an active movie is the music. The music can be described as face pace and upbeat, the energy given off from it reinforces the vigorous activities shown in the movie.
As movies are becoming a popular media of storytelling, more and more techniques are being used to convey story. And with an artistic touch, these techniques can be used to emphasize emotions. Do The Right Thing techniques help emphasize heat, anger, and even the height of Radio Raheem. Smell Of Burning Ants, Gently Down The Stream and The D Train uses found footage to create a story. In addition to visuals, sound and music help reinforce the information and emotions being conveyed during the movie.
It’s finally Friday, I’m heading home for the weekend. It’s my girlfriend’s birthday day weekend and I haven’t seen her in over 2 weeks. I’ve been waiting for this weekend since school started! Our relationship has only been official for a few months but it’s awesome to finally see her. Me being away has caused both of us a great deal of stress. So I’m looking forward to relaxing with her, relaxing at home and being in a better study environment.
Its a 2 hour drive South to get to Vancouver, and for the most part it’s an easy drive. And since the drive is mostly on one road, the drive goes by quick. A little speeding may have occurred since I’m eager to see my girl. Time flies and not much to remember on the drive other than watching other drivers and at the clock.
My first stop isnt to my house, I’m visiting my girl. I pick her up at her house, we give each other the biggest hug in history! This was short lived because I needed to use the restroom like a race horse. So I drive her and I to Eastland Sushi, her birthday dinner, and I’m finally able to use the restroom. With that out of the way, I was truly able to enjoy the time with my girl.
The rest of the night was enjoying our company over dinner, we head back to my place for drinks, movies and to give her the gifts I got her for her birthday. We spend the rest of the night holding each other, letting the stress of our daily lives melt away. I’m not looking forward to returning to school on Tuesday and leave this moment behind, but we both know school is only for a short time. My next visit home will be Valentine’s weekend so I can take my girl to Dead Pool.
This memory of mine probably has little to do with the main project, but it is reason why I am here. When I was young (around the age of 3-4), my siblings and I love recreating scenes from mobies that we have watched. One of our favorite movies that we acted out was Jurassic Park, especially the opening scene involving the man falling from top of the cage and the velocirapter. We would recreate this scene by flipping over our toy chest, pretend the chest was the cage, one of us got to be the raptor, one was the the guy that got attack, and the third one got to yell “Shoot her! Shoot Her!” We would do this over and over again, switching roles each time. Movies and television were an inspirational source for our imagination.
So when I was 5, I watched Toy Story 1 and really enjoyed it. I asked my dad how they made these Disney movies, they look like fun. My dad replied “With Animators”
“What do animators do?”
“They spend all day making drawings for the movie”
At this point I’ve already been drawing up a storm on whatever I can find. “Draw All day? I want to do that!” And from that day forth, I wanted to be an animator. So here I am, finishing up my degree in animation and taking this class to further my skills in visual story telling.