How to Read a Movie

I have done something like this before in an AP Literature and Composition course in high school. We would take movies and go through them looking for context clues and different signs that underlay the plot such as shadows, words, different view points, or lighting. The one I most vividly remember reflecting on was when there’s a scene shot through a window or different room and how when it was shot through the window the character didn’t know something was happening. When the scene was shot normally the character was in the loop about what was being discussed. After learning these techniques in high school I found myself looking for things like those in movies now and I really enjoyed that. So I was excited for this assignment.


Notes on How to Read a Movie by Robert Ebert

  • Had to teach himself
  • Intrinsic weighting: certain areas of the available visual space have tendencies to stir emotional or aesthetic reactions
    • Not consciously applied
  • Shots that well up emotionally, instinctively, or strategically
  • Placement of people
    • Somewhat to the right of the center- ideally places (strong axis)
    • More right- positive
    • More left- negative
    • Centered- objectified (like a mug shot)
    • Person on right seems more dominant over the person on the left
  • Future on the right, past on the left
  • Top is dominant over bottom
  • Foreground stronger than the background
  • Symmetrical composition seems at rest
  • Diagonals in a composition seem to “move” in the direction of the sharpest angle they form
  • Tilt shots put everything on a diagonal, implying the world is out of balance
  • Point of view above a character’s eyeline reduces him, below the eyeline enhances him
  • Extreme high angle- make characters into pawns, low angles- into gods
  • Brighter areas dominant over darker
  • Dominant contrast: area we are drawn towards
  • These rules work by being followed and by being violated

Top 20 Amazing Cinematic Techniques

  • There are a lot of different cameras and filming techniques (steadicam, long cam, track cam, trunk/low angle,frantic, etc) that go into recording a scene
  • The director must think about how he wants the audience to perceive the scene and what he wants to demonstrate

It doesn’t really tell how the effects contribute to the film and without seeing the films or knowing the backstories it’s hard to know what the effects are suppose to be doing. However I did take away an appreciation for all the thought that goes into movies and then I wonder if what Ebert said is true most of the time; that the filmmakers don’t plan these things out, it’s just natural,


The Shining: Zooms

  • Car on the right
  • Car bright yellow, background neutral, earth tones
  • Car enters just to the right of middle
  • Person sleeping top left corner, rest of the scene black
  • zooms out from him sleeping, to show more

I’ve never seen The Shining so I thought it was just showing people and this was a scene from the movie and then it kept adding people so I scrolled down and read:

A synchronized collage of every zoom in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror masterpiece, The Shining.

This was a really short video and I’m not quite sure how to reflect on it without every seeing the movie. Since I’ve never seen it I don’t know why exactly there is zooming in and out and who the characters are or which parts are important. So I decided to read some of the comments and see what people said in order to see what I could learn.

  • Tracking shots:  when a camera follows a person or an object physically moving with the subject

That’s about all I got from the 19 comments. However I know that the zooming is important and relies an undercover message.

  • Possibly when zooming out on the people sleeping: they don’t know what’s happening, someone watching them, showing distance, enhance foreground
  • Zooming in on person sleeping: showing thought/emotions
  • Zoom helps to show a focus point, draw your attention somewhere

x Kelsey

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Evaluating 9 Lives- My own show

I decided to do the same thing I did when evaluating Wacky History‘s radio show. For their radio show I took notes during it and then answered the questions provided. This radio show is called 9 Lives and it is put on by the Grumpy Desperadoes.

Thoughts during the show

  • Intro
    • Background sound effects good
    • A little too loud
    • transition was not clear- needed to be faded in and out
  • Miles- History
    • Not sure if sound was Miles moving or sound effect..
    • Bland voice
    • background music good volume
      • Possibly a little distracting
      • Good choice of music
    • Long pauses in between talking about different things
    • A lot of just talking- I’m kinda bored
  • Bumper
    • good sound effects
  • Kelsey and Sean-Stories
    • Good volume
    • Like the sound effects
      • War sounds
      • Door opening
      • Creepy music
      • Church music
      • Choir music
      • Pouring drink
      • Clinking
      • Dog
      • Etc.
    • Two people talking back and forth make in more interesting
    • Sean- “large red marks” like the low volume
    • Kelsey- “Wow that really” is really low (faded out at the wrong time)
    • Music in between stories good
    • After the moon arising- choppy editing
    • Hank song, London Bridge good fading
    • Sean talking about the 2 boys in the room lower compare to other music
    • Monster story- good tones and voices
    • Sean stumbling/rushing in monster story
    • Cat 9 lives- clever song
  • Bumper
    • Really like the bumper
    • Good music
  • Commercial
    • Good spooky music
    • Happy halloween song
    • Creepy music
  • Andrew- Costumes
    • I like the beginning sounds
    • Hard to hear him
    • I like the countdown- smart idea
    • Like how he commented on the costumes- gave opinions
    • REALLY hard to hear!!
    • Music is distracting
    • So hard to hear
    • Good transition to Adam
  • Adam-Events
    • Like beginning sounds
    • Good description
    • Background music good
      • Somewhat distracting
      • A little too loud
      • drowns out speaker
  • Not really an ending..
  • Quality of audio sound -e.g. is the volume appropriate? are the levels even? Is the sound clear, and free of noises not needed (e.g. mouse clicks, background noise)?

Adam and Andrew’s sections were hard to hear. Adam’s was only hard to hear at parts, but Andrew’s was almost impossible to hear.

  • Quality of audio editing – use of effects, transitions, are the edits clean?

Lots of effects- enhanced the enjoy-ability of the show- made it more interesting. Some transitions weren’t clean- more towards the beginning.

Use of sound effects- how are they used? Is it effective?

Sound effects were used very well, probably one of the bests parts of the show.  Sounds were used to enhance stories.

  • Use of music- how is it used? Is it effective or distracting?

Just hard to hear Adam and Andrews. Miles was somewhat distracting. Kelsey and Sean had some that wasn’t edited as well as it could have been. Overall the music was effective. It was used for transitions and background noise.

  • Does the show have a structure? Is it cohesive or does it feel stitched together?

The show has a very good structure, with good transitions. People don’t just start talking, they’re introduced.

  • Does it tell a story effectively? Is there a sense of drama, unknown? Does it draw you in to listen?

Tells a good story. Creative and interesting topic. The only segment that got a little boring was history, it could have used some sound effects in the background. Drawn in to listen.

  • If you would rate this radio show, how many stars out of five would you give to the show

This radio show could have been a 4.5 star however, because of the volume at some points I’d have to give it 4 stars.

x Kelsey

Evaluating Wacky History

I decided the best way for me to critique the show would be to take notes as I listen to it and then to go back and reflect on the show with the questions provided. I listened to Wacky History. I think the name is very clever for the topic of the show.

Thoughts during the show

  • Catchy intro music
  • Wedding rings and something? Hard to understand the intro
  • Voices change abruptly in volume
  • First part:
    • Dentures… interesting topic choice
    • Easy to understand, good background music
    • Editing isn’t smooth in some parts
    • Light humor- I liked that
  • Good transition and questions
  • I like the talking back and forth
  • George Washington part
    • Very entertaining voice
    • Likes this part
  • Next part:
    • Bland voice
    • Background music VERY soft- hard to hear
  • More questions and banter- like this
  • The guy has a great voice- very good for his parts
  • First Commercial is REALLY great
  • Wacky history part
    • Good music
    • Very interesting
    • Commercial??
  • History of wedding rings
    • Seem unsure of what you are saying in the beginning
    • Interesting information
    • Good voices (changes tone/pitch in voice)
  • Jewelry/wedding facts
    • Multiple choice question- kinda cool
    • Like the ticking noises
  • Fly commercial
    • good
  • Bumper
    • liked it
    • seat belt-car sound
  • Where to put the ring
      • sounded too far away from the mic sometimes
  • Quality of audio sound -e.g. is the volume appropriate? are the levels even? Is the sound clear, and free of noises not needed (e.g. mouse clicks, background noise)?

No noticeable background noise. The background music didn’t cancel out the talking. Levels somewhat uneven when switching from person to person.

  • Quality of audio editing – use of effects, transitions, are the edits clean?

Only noticed effects in the bumper. Background music is good. Transitions clean. I liked the questions in between the different topics.

  • Use of sound effects- how are they used? Is it effective?

Not much use of sound effects. When used good and effective.

  • Use of music- how is it used? Is it effective or distracting?

Music is very effective. It is at a good volume, so that it is noticeable, yet doesn’t wash out the speaker. Used throughout the whole podcast. Also used to signify changes in topics.

  • Does the show have a structure? Is it cohesive or does it feel stitched together?

Somewhat. I don’t think it’s bad or anything, I just think it could be better. I would have liked an emphasis on the connection of dentures and wedding rings. Good transitions make it cohesive.

  • Does it tell a story effectively? Is there a sense of drama, unknown? Does it draw you in to listen?

Tells little stories. Not really a sense of drama. The guys voice is very entertaining and draws you in. One of the girls used her voice very well when telling stories.

  • If you would rate this radio show, how many stars out of five would you give to the show

I would probably give the show 3.75 stars out of 5.

x Kelsey

Appearances reflection

IMG_4458 IMG_4554IMG_4558     IMG_4555  IMG_4556

I named my topic Appearances, because everything is not always as it seems. The story I hope to tell with these pictures is that a girl sees a huge creepy shadow on her ceiling and is scared she then peers under her bed and finds that the huge shadow is made by a small toy, she’s relived and soon falls asleep cuddling the toy. I put the photos in black and white to appear more creepy and show that the story takes place in the middle of the night. The phrase “A picture is worth a thousand words” is a very common phrase that I have often used, but I have never thought about pictures as really telling a story so this was a really cool assignment to do that broadened up my view of digital/visual storytelling.

I also am so amused by the Digital Storytelling community, it never ceases to amaze me. It is so large and involved. I’ve never realized how many thing people who don’t know each other can create. Such as the poem that we wrote on twitter this week for a daily create and now this Flickr group. Which has 12,786 members, 216 photos, and 4,716 discussions. This really makes me think about how we use the internet. It almost seems like a waste to use it for social media purposes. It’s like the examples given in Wesch and Campbell; we have so much power in technology and we use it to keep tabs of friends and significant others and for superficial reasons. WE CAN CHANGE THE WORLD and yet we don’t know how to use this power we encompass. I am looking forward to the rest of the weeks and learning how to use technology to better myself and others.

x Kelsey

Micheal Wesch: Knowledgeable to Knowledge-able reflection

Micheal Wesch delivered at keynote speech to UMW in 2011 entitled “Knowledgeable to Knowledge-able: New Learning Environments for New Media Environment.” He conveys how we need to have knowledge in “information literacy” then develop to “meta-media fluency” and ultimately “digital citizenship.” He defines “digital citizenship” as the capacity to use technology in order to collect, create, imagine, and make a better world in order to engage in society, politics, and government participation. Wesch introduces the idea that we need to introduce “digital citizenship” to the classroom and beyond in order to create relationships, engage students, and make a better world.

Wesch examines how technology can be used to create a community. While doing field work in New Guinea Wesch observed as the small village he was living in was overtaken by government and technology. The introduction of technology in the form of a census led to more distant relationships between the villagers. I can relate to this as our generation participates in arguments over twitter and other sources. For example, the other day Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj got in a Twitter fight, over a misunderstood tweet, within minutes everyone was talking about it and it became a major headline. This shows how media mediates relationships. Media can also create relationships, like when a singer filmed himself conducting his new song and then asked others to post videos of themselves singing the song, he then produced a video of him directing 180 people from 12 different countries performing the same song. Another, more global example, of creating relationships is when Juan Mann, made a video of himself holding a sign saying “FREE HUGS.” Other people began holding signs and giving hugs. He then posted the video to YouTube and immediately received a million views this launched a global movement that led to thousands of events Worldwide. To date the video has 77,103,01377,103,014 views. These examples show how as media changes, relationships change.

Wesch wants to create a learning environment that engages students and challenges them to learn and develop. When his students answered the question of what the walls of the classroom say they had 6 responses: to learn is to acquire information, information is scarce, trust authority for good information, unauthorized information is beyond discussion, obey the authority, and follow along. I completely agree with these 6 responses, in the classroom we are not taught in a way that allows us to grasp the concepts. We are taught so that we remember it just long enough to reciprocate the information on an exam. Some of the best teachers I have had have challenged students to come up with the solution themselves and have had them discuss ideas with classmates. This is what Wesch does in his classroom by creating online dialogues and assignments that engage students with others and technology.

Wesch believes that “digital citizenship” can create a better world. He speaks about a man who dropped out of college in order to end poverty in Bangladesh. He creates YouTube videos and now has 300,000 Twitter followers. He connects people who want to help with people who need help, he provides them with the necessary tools and then he gets out of the way. He also talks about a website called Ushahidi, after the 2007 elections in Kenyan erupted in violence. They created a website that allowed people to post photos and post directly from their phones to show that people were okay or to ask questions. The pictures were all linked to a map to show where people were. This technology was used 3 years later when Haiti was hit. This exemplifies the power that technology holds.

In all I really enjoyed and agreed with Wesch’s keynote. I wonder how Wesch has continued to improve and evolve his lessons as technology has revolutionized over the years. I believe that we hold the power to change the world, the problem is that less than half the world has access to the internet, and the even bigger problem that Wesch states is that people don’t know how to create and read media, and that is what needs to change. We need to become “digital citizens.”

Gardner Campbell: “A Personal Cyberinfrastructure” reflection

In Gardner Campbell’s article “A Personal Cyberinfrastructure” Campbell discusses the need for technology in the classroom, and more explicitly the need for each student to have their own web servers. He believes that students need to learn how to build a cyberinfrastructure, in order to “acquire crucial technical skills for their digital lives” that would allow them to “engage in work that provides richly teachable moments ranging from multimodal writing to information science, knowledge management, bibliographic instruction, and social networking.” Campbell’s thoughts on how to begin incorporating technology into the classroom, can be seen through the activities and expectation of our Digital Storytelling course.

Campbell thinks that the best way to begin incorporating technology into the classroom is to give each freshman a domain when they first enter the university. They will learn how to use it and apply different tools to it through several seminars and classes. By the end of their college career they will have a site they created on their own, hosting the work they have completed in their four years. I think this is I really good idea in order to begin incorporating the tools and knowledge needed to make your own domain. This article gives credit to UMW instructors and in the Keynote given by Wesch, he mentions how UMW is on top of the blogging game, however I am a junior, who has taken a variety of upper and lower classes, and I have never been asked to do any of these things in my classes. The most technology my classes have incorporated is using powerpoint or excel to make graphs. Digital Storytelling is the first course I have taken that has required me to use technology to convey my points, feelings, and work. And that is expected from an online class about digital technology, but why aren’t other teachers trying out and using this technology to engage students?

Campbell also talks about how something that once was difficult becomes an everyday thing, such as powerpoint and putting grades in online where students can access them and their work with a click of a button. However, some of my teachers do not even touch Canvas, they do not like the idea of putting grades in their and that is where we get a conflict of new ideas and old minds. We need to be open to new and evolving ways. UMW has changed several things this summer by incorporating a single sign-in page and MyUMW which allows you to access a lot more things easier. In all UMW has a long way to go in order to become a school that teaches their students about technology and engaged them in new and creative ways, but they are taking small steps towards being more technologically friendly.

As I develop my own personal Cyberinfrastructure I am going to try to remember and really learn how I am doing everything and what the process entails so that I can leave this course with the knowledge of how to make my own domain, blog, GIF, and use certain technology. These things will not only make me a better student and citizen, but will look good to companies I am looking to work for as business change to social networking. Digital Storytelling has already gave me knowledge in several different areas such as blogging, domains, Flickr, Vimeo, and Twitter that will help me throughout my life as our world becomes more and more revolved around technology.