This past week, I went down to Mornington peninsula with 4 other friends on a photography expedition. Armed with a Canon EOS 1200 DSLR and a Nikon FE2 film SLR, it was a nice break from the world to go down south and indulge in the incredible natural world.

There’ll be a follow up post about the developed film, but I gotta say, it was a little daunting. I only had about 25 shots a roll, and neglected to bring more than one. Oopsie! I was also nervous because the night before, I had managed to tear apart my last film roll trying to take it out of the camera. Lesson learned: Read the manual.

The shoot itself was daunting, because the beach (whose name I forget) and rocky rock pools that we visited was the epitome of ‘treacherous nature.’ Clambering up rocks and over agonisingly lumpy stones was exhausting, but worth it entirely as we saw the ocean breathing and crashing so close to us.

Baz Lurhmann’s Use of Sound

I like to think of Australian film director and former music video director Baz Lurhmann as a king of sound design. He uses diegetic sound in a way that is powerful and gripping, creating vibrant worlds that seem to assault the senses with exaggerated noises, foley and sound effects.

A scene that perfectly embodies the Lurhmann use of sound is from his 2001 film Moulin Rouge, early on in the narrative when protagonist Christian (Ewan McGregor) enters the Parisian nightclub for the first time.

Here, Lurhmann’s experience in making music videos is shown clearly; this is essentially an enormous music video. We hear several different songs, all MODERN songs, not of the year the film is set in (1899): Because We Can (Fatboy Slim) Lady Marmalade (P!nk, Lil Kim, Christina Aguilera, Mya) and Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana). Lurhmann often uses contemporary, catchy and rhythmic music in his films regardless of whether or not they fit with the time period; this is seen and heard in the Great Gatsby (2013). The use of modern music, particularly music associated with dancing and partying, creates a surreal atmosphere. It feels surreal in the sense that despite being in a different era and time, we can relate across time periods to the partygoing atmosphere.

Additionally, throughout the scene, the diegetic sound is clearly pronounced; the partygoers stamp in time to the beat, their clothes rustling is exagerrated, and as the scene progresses these sounds become more exaggerated, and emphasise a sense of the wild, rambunctious and unbridled excitement of the club. Additionally, the audience feels sucked into this hypnotic psycadelic whirlwind of the Moulin Rouge, and the use of the modern upbeat soundtracks allow them to relate to the scene; a wild Friday night at a bar or club.

Baz Lurhmann’s unbridled and indulgent use of sound and music sets him apart from other mainstream filmmakers, making him a king of sound design.

Cartoons are Just for Kids

That title probably “triggered” a few people out there so let me defuse the situation first and foremost: You just got clickbaited, without the clicking and redirecting to another page, unless you actually clicked on my blog, in which case: good for you!

Now. Are cartoons JUST for kids? How about we discuss what makes up a “cartoon.” From Merriam-Webster online dictionary:
Cartoon: (noun) A film or television show made by photographing a series of drawings : an animated film or television show

What part of this definition restricts cartoons to children? From this definition, anything made up of a series of drawings could be a cartoon; it could be gory, horrifying, lewd, surreal, anything. So why do we assume that anything that is ‘cartoon’ is something appropriate for children?

Let me elaborate: one of my all time favourite films is Hayao Miyazaki’s anime classic, Princess Mononoke (1997) which I first watched when I was about 9 or 10 years old. At the time, I believed the old “cartoons are for kids” thing, and imagine my astonishment when I saw limbs being lopped off and heads being slashed off at that tender age? It wasn’t until my parents actually checked closely did they realise that this cartoon was rated M15+ – i.e. Big no-no for 10 year old me (sidenote, I knew the whole time what its official rating was. I think the opening scenes with the big wormy boar gave it away; but it was a fantastic film, so sue me right?) Anyway, they decided the damage was done and let me watch it anyway.

Basically, what I am trying to get at here is that parents need to be more aware of a) how to check for and understand media classifications and b) they need to work out what they’re okay with their kids watching and consuming. I’ll also point out that I think I’m fairly liberal with what I believe younger people should and shouldn’t be allowed to consume, within reason. It’s so simple for us to assume at a glance that a cartoon is kid friendly, but the fact is there are so many animated films and television shows out there that parents would never let within 50 feet of their children if they knew what they were getting into; and they’re a click away from us all.

Parents need to be told that classifications aren’t put on movies, cartoons or video games just for decoration; the graphic designers probably hate having to ruin their gorgeous cover art with a little 18+ sticker. I’ve heard too often of kids going into stores like JB Hifi or EB Games etc. with their parents and getting copies of stuff like Princess Mononoke, DeadpoolDead Space 3 or other media texts with ratings of R18+ simply because we are made to believe too easily that video games, superhero films and animated series are ‘just for kids.’ No, they aren’t all for kids. Check your ratings; it’s not the media company’s fault that parent’s don’t take classification ratings seriously.

Learning about Sound

The most I’ve understood about anything related to sound in my life has been how tempo and beat works; I used to dance when I was a kid, and you’d get a glare if you missed your cue. Thus, I have little interest in the finetuned details of the physics and nuances of sound/music/etc.

At the same time, however, I have always had a significant interest in editing films with sounds, music, soundtracks, foley, etc; so clearly, I have a little work to do in terms of getting a sense of the whole shemozzle.

Going through the reading given on Sound was my first step in understanding sound in media, and focused on the technical and physical aspects of how sound occurs, how we hear it, and how we can record it. Now that I know big words, like that cardioid, super cardioid and hyper cardioid microphones are the kinds of mikes good for recording sound from a single perspective, I feel as though I am clearly the no.1 expert on everything aural even though just trying to press the chords on a guitar cramps up my arm.

A Self Portrait

Our most recent assessment for Media 1 was to craft short film self-portraits. With only a week to make them, I feel a little shy posting mine here but figured hey, why not. I’m still quite inspired by what we’ve learned from experimental filmmakers, and took a kind of associational filmmaking approach; my aim was to juxtapose people with the landscape. My favourite part is showing how we react when we realise we are being recorded.

Distance between the Audience and the Mediated Subject

In one of our more recent readings for Media 1, I was initially taken aback by the sheer deepness and abstractness of this extract on Perspective and Social Distance. It took me a minute to notice that what was being discussed was essentially how perspective in a piece of media reflects, literally and figuratively, the distances between the audience addressed and the subject being represented.

That may seem a little confusing at first, so let’s try a better interpretation:

Let’s say you’re watching an ad on TV for the upcoming footy season. Any particularly exclusive shots you see of significant individual players may look at them from a slight low-angle, and depict them at full length in the frame which would place them a couple of meters away from the camera/the audience. This positioning of the player in this manner subtly suggests that their significance makes them superior to the audience; they are tall, powerful, and untouchable, far from our screens; at the same time, they are essentially framed so that the audience wants to be on their level, and join them on that platform several meters from the camera where there is apparent glory. That is the essential gist that I got from Perspective and Social Distance.

The reading looked closer at this idea of perspective by referring to its modern roots in the Renaissance era, spanning roughly from the 1500s-1600s. As I am fond to say the least of art, particularly classical art, this exploration clarified what the reading meant by ‘perspective’ in a tangible sense. A sense of hierarchy within artistic and mediated texts clarified for me how there is a distance both literal and figurative between an audience and a subject. In the foreground of a photograph for instance, there are the things considered most accessible to the audience; perhaps normal people, everyday objects, items, pets and animals. The further towards the background of the photo you go, subjects represented would be the ones difficult to attain for an audience; perhaps a representation of fame, fortune, glory, etc.

Aspect to Aspect – Western vs Eastern Storytelling at Play

In Week 1, we were sent a reading in Media1 in the form of a graphic novel by Scott McCloud, exploring human perception in the media that we consume daily. I was reminded of this reading last week in our Media1 workshop and went back to it after we were sent out in groups to film content for a short film haiku. The constraints of the content we shot were that there was to be no focus on individuals, and no camera movement.

I was reminded in this moment of a method of storytelling I had learned about originally from a YouTube personality called Nerdwriter1; it is called Action to Action, and another is called Aspect to Aspect. In Scott McCloud’s Blood in the Gutter, Action to Action is shown as a storytelling method that allows a reader or audience to fill in the gaps, or gutter, between panels and frames. Nerdwriter1 analyses this deeper as a storytelling method for a society or culture that is very goal oriented; for example, in American comic books, Action to Action may be used to tell the narrative of a superhero intending to save the world, knocking down one bad guy at a time.

Conversely, Aspect to Aspect, as explored by McCloud, renders the concept of time unimportant, or even non-existent. Each frame shows aspects that allow the mind and the eye to wander, evoking an idea, emotion or setting. Nerdwriter1 has taken this a step further, and suggests that, particularly in an eastern culture or society, such as Japan, there is less emphasis on getting to a particular place or attaining a particular goal than the notion of allowing the mind to wander within a moment in time. Nerdwriter1 suggests that Aspect to Aspect can be utilised to evoke in an audience or reader a sense of simply existing in a moment. The YouTuber supports his theory through his video essay on the Japanese sci-fi thriller Ghost in the Shell, alluding to a series of shots in the intermission of the film that takes on this sense of being present in a moment, absent from time and time’s constraints.

Back to my original point about the haiku short films we were collecting content for. While I am not sure if Brian Morris was intending for us to rediscover the theory of Aspect-to-Aspect, I found it interesting that we had the goals of creating a filmic haiku (a Japanese form of poetry) and were using a method of filmmaking that is closely linked to a storytelling method used predominantly in Japanese film, narrative, literature and graphic novels. Emphasis on the landscape, setting and context was made clear to us, which is highly similar to the way that Ghost in the Shell conveys a mood and place through similar emphasis to its production design and landscapes.

LINK: Nerdwriter1’s video essay alludes to McCloud’d readings on Action vs Aspect in the first 3 mins

Self Portrait – FILM/VIDEO

I like coffee aaand macro shots :3

The route I take from the station towards my class in the mornings

The one in slo-mo technically counts cos it was NOT edited in post. Soooo