US Highway 1 Visual Review

 

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US Highway 1 was painted by Allan D’Archangelo in 1962 and is displayed on the third floor of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC today. D’Archangelo was considered a leading artist in the first generation of American Pop. US Highway is one of his iconic Pop images. In 1962, D’Arcangelo took a series of photos of US Highway 1 on the East Coast, and this painting was the first in the series. This painting is a prime example of his signature compositional format which is a surreal, almost dreamlike quality. “For D’Arcangelo, the road is a place without time and without characters—just the hypnotic repetition of road signs and billboards and the forward motion of the car” (“US Highway 1”).

US Highway 1 features a long strip of asphalt cutting through the landscape and plunging toward a vanishing point on the distant horizon. Dark green silhouettes of trees line the two-lane highway, and the sky above is a solid plane of dark blue. The space is flat and penetrating, and signs along the highway look like they “float” over the road.

Within this description of the basic composition of the visuals in painting, there are many individual elements of design, and visual elements present in this painting.

The first element I notice is the color scheme of the painting, and the contrast.The painting as a whole is very saturated and bright but on opposite ends of the color palette which creates contrast. The color scheme is split down the middle of the painting creating contrast because the top half is very bright and the bottom half is very dark. The dark hues and tones of the bottom half help to highlight and create contrast between the tress and the highway and the signs and lines. The bright yellow Sunco sign, US 1 sign, and the dotted line stand out to emphasize these common elements seen on highways.

The dotted line also stands out to help establish the linear perspective of the painting because it leads right to the vantage point of the painting. The vantage point, which is the point where the white dotted line ends helps to give the painting depth. The diagonal lines of the road, both the sides of the road and the white dotted line are lading lines to further emphasize the vantage point, giving the painting linear perspective and depth.

Another major element of this piece which adds to the contrast is the use of negative space. The painting as a whole id not very busy; it is a simple piece. Almost of third of the painting is just plain blue, depicting the sky, which is negative space in the painting that adds to the saturation and contrast of the painting.

The positioning of the signs also add a visual element because they are asymmetrical, and different sizes, adding to the concept of depth in the painting. The Sunco sign is higher and larger making it appear as if it is closer, and the US 1 sign is lower and smaller making it appear as if it is farther. Also, both signs do not have post, and therefore, appear as if they are floating adding to the dreamlike quality of the painting. The signs are also layered on the trees and darkness adding to the depth of the painting.

Overall, I really like the painting, I think the saturation and leading lines create very intriguing visuals, and the contrast helps to highlight certain elements of the painting that are important to it. The only thing I might change are the telephone lines, I did not think they added anything to the piece, so I would remove them. However, D’Archangelo is an amazing artist, and did a wonderful job with this piece.

 

“US Highway 1.” Smithsonian American Art Museum. Smithsonian Institution, n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2016.

http://americanart.si.edu/collections/search/artwork/?id=79360

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Beyonce Music Video Visual Review

Beyonce’s Lemonade Album was released as a visual album. The visuals of each music video are incredible, and each video has a visual introduction with a voice-over leading into the song. My favorite music video is “Hold Up” which is about Beyonce’s suspicion that her husband had an affair. It has so many visual elements and I cannot cover them all, so I will focus on five major elements: color scheme, lighting, slow motion with speed up camera movement, focused and timed shots for smashing various things, and out of focus and grainy shots.

The color scheme in the beginning contrasts greatly from the color scheme in the main music video. The introduction to “Hold Up” takes place underwater, so the color scheme blue tones and hues to it. There are even dark tones and shadows in the scene to create the effect that she is deep underwater.

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The rest of the the music video has a dulled color scheme to help her bright mustard dress stand out. Also, at the beginning of the music video, the first car they show matches her dress.

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Lighting is really only prominent in the introduction because the rest of the video utilizes natural light. In the introduction sequence there is a lighting shining down on Beyonce, almost like a spotlight. When it is not on her, there is a pocket of light on the bed in the bedroom. It creates the underwater darkness effect while also lighting the subject, and creating focus. It also puts emphasis on the intimacy of the bed to draw attention to the idea that Beyonce’s husband is cheating.

The natural lighting does create some halos around her hair and head in some shots symbolizing her innocence in the whole affair.

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The post-production editing of the video also creates interesting slo-mo and sped-up motion. The video starts very quickly initially, and then switches to slo-mo. Most of the video takes place in slow motion with a few bursts of quick, sped-up motion. The sped-up motion happened in the introduction during what I would like to call the “possessed” scenes where there are extremely quick flashes of Beyonce floating in the air, or screaming at the camera. Once Beyonce is in the bedroom underwater, every once in awhile the shots will speed up and switch quickly from shot to shot to shot of Beyonce in different positions and faces. It creates an almost possessed, horror movie feel to it, as she kind of appears to be receiving an exorcism (0:53-0:57) and (1:03-1:07) It happens three times total in this section, and two of the times she resembles either demon in the air doing flips, or a large butterfly trying to escape a cocoon, and that is really the best way I can describe it.

Another cool effect that occurs only in the introduction is the reversal of video. In post-production editing, the team decides some of the introduction would play certain scenes backward. For example, her blowing out bubbles is played backward so it looks like she is sucking bubbles in. Many of these scene are played backward to make it look like she is raising up, or sitting up when she is really bowing or bending down. This effect creates a sort of spooky and ominous feel, and it also makes the scene appear like a dream sequence which I believe is its intention.  

The rest of the music video still uses the slow motion video with bursts of sped up motion, but not as radical as in the introduction. Mostly, the sped up action is just used to draw focus on certain motion in the shots, specifically anything that has to do with her smashing the cars, like the bats.

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The smashing of the cars and cameras are also timed with the music creating a very cohesive and visually appealing piece. The camera follows Beyonce walking down the car looking for cars to smash through tracking, panning, trucking, and even some obscure vantage points, like this window.

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However, the camera stops and the motion speeds up when she goes to smash either a car or a camera.

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The camera also records the smashing cars and cameras from the point of the car or the camera at points to make it visually appealing and more dramatic.

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The visuals even capitalize on the aesthetic of a surveillance camera that she smashes.

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Or even close-ups of the glass breaking

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The most dramatic of these timings is the smashing of the store window that triggers the fire. This is one of my favorite visuals in the piece.

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The last visual element that I wanted to comment on were the the out of focus and grainy shots. This was an interesting visual choice, and I do not know the actual reasoning behind it. It might be to make the video look older than it is, or just to create visual variation.

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Overall, I loved this piece, and I still love Beyonce. I thought the timing of the shots and the mix between speeding up and slowing down created a very cohesive and visually appealing piece that I was interested in the entire time. However, the weird “possessed shots” in introduction were a little freaky, and maybe unnecessary; I thought it detracted from the message of “he cheated on me.” Nevertheless, the introduction and music video were both incredible, and I hope Beyonce does more visual albums in the future.

Whiplash Movie Poster Visual Review

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Whiplash is an incredible movie about a talented young drummer named Andrew Neiman, played by Miles Teller, who enrolls at a cut-throat music conservatory where he is mentored by a hardcore instructor, played by J.K. Simmons. Andrew Neiman dreams of greatness, and his mentor will stop at nothing to realize his potential and make him an incredible drummer. The movie poster embodies my own thoughts on the movie, as well as the intensity of the movies.

One of the most prevalent things about this movie poster is the text on the poster. Certain one word adjectives are larger than the other words because they are emphasizing certain aspects of the film, “exhilarating,” “astounding,” and “electrifying.” There are even more variations in size. Those words are in the second largest font, but there is also a medium font use for some of the reviews quoted, and small font for the more detailed reviews quoted. Finally, there is the extremely large font, which is logically used for the title of the film, “Whiplash.” Interestingly enough the two main actors names are actually in the medium font, smaller than the main adjectives, possibly revealing that the intention of this movie poster is to tell you how exciting this film is, instead of broadcast the big names of the stars of the show.

However, the coloring of the text places a specific emphasis on the title and the two main actors because their names are in red. “Winner” is also in red to again remind the audience how awesome this movie is. The red wording is also mirrors and represents a scene in which the Andrew is drumming so hard that he begins to bleed. The red symbolizes the blood and sweat the drummer pours into his dream.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fdJhD4UoYo

The wording wraps the image to show the image of him drumming. Some the words that border the image fade behind the image. The entire image, as well as the text, has a blue tint or hue to it.

The entire poster has a dark background to truly highlight the image of the drummer and the red lettering, which are the most important parts of the poster (the title, the actors, and a photo of the main character). The image itself is a cutout with the edges darkened and fading into the dark background. The cutout is an image of the drummer looking at and playing his drums symbolizing the way Andrew views drumming; it is the only thing he sees in life, it is the most important aspect of his life, and it is his passion.

Another visual aspect of the poster is the spotlight on the drummer which perfectly draws the viewer’s eyes from the top of the poster, to the drummer in the lower middle of the poster. The edges of the spotlight are leading lines. Also, the lighting and brightening of the drummer because of the spotlight creates attention for the image of Andrew drumming.  

 

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Friends Title Sequence Visual Review

Friends is a comedic sitcom about a group of six people who live in Greenwich Village of New York City and are all best friends. The show is very simple, happy, and goofy, and the title sequence reflects that perfectly.

The first thing that the viewer notices is the lighting because it the sequence starts with quick light changes. The pilot episode starts with a black screen, and then a quick fade into the actual scene of the fountain in Central Park with a light casted on the couch and lamp in front of the fountain.

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Then, piece by piece, a different section of lights turn on. After the initial light up of the scene, the lights inside the apartments on the left side turn on.

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Next, on the beat of a drumroll, the fountain light turns on its lights.

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Lastly, a new light is cast on the actual apartment buildings on the left side of the screen.

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For the middle part of the sequence the lighting stays pretty consistent. The background is dark to create the effect that it is night. However, the actors and actresses are very well lit, most likely, by artificial/ stage lighting.

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The stage lighting is used so the audience can see everything the actors are doing, and identify who they are (especially because the purpose of this title sequence is to introduce the audience to the characters and reveal which actor and actresses is playing each character). There are also shadows to reinforce the idea that the characters are goofing around in the middle of the night.

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At the end of the title sequence, the lighting closes full circle, and the lights get turned off by Monica. This time, the lights all turn off at the same time instead of turning off piece by piece. 

Then the scene fades to black again, with just the creators names on the screen, creating a perfect circle. This lighting effect mimics everyday life where the light in a room is turned on, something happens, and then the light in the room is turned off.

Another major aspect of this sequence are the quick cuts. The only true camera movement in the sequence is a few shakes and slight pans here and there. Because there is practically no camera movement, the video uses quick cuts to create the motion . All these cuts match the beat of the music in the background to show that the cuts are intentional and stylistic, For example, in the very beginning each character is cut into the scene separately, adding to the previous character on the couch. The scene starts with the empty couch, then cuts to the couch with Rachel on it, then cuts to the couch with Rachel and Monica on it, and so on, until the entire group of friends is on the couch.

These quick cuts keep the motion and action constantly going, which keeps the viewer interested throughout the entire scene. It also reflects the quick wit and humor of the show.

 

The text is also an interesting visual element of this sequence. The text is in all caps, and is bold white block letters with a black shadow on the right side of each letter.

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The letters stand out and are big and bold to be fun and goofy. Also the colors of the dots in between each letter of FRIENDS stands out because those are the only bright colors in the entire sequence.

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The color scheme of the sequence is neutral. The apartments in the background use tan tones, the sky is black, the fountain is gray, and all the characters are wearing black and white. These colors are all neutral to help those dots in the Friends title stand out.

One interesting, and kind of bizarre, visual element of the title sequence is the shot of Joey bobbing his head, and then the movement speeding up with the song. As the movement speeds up, the lighting gets really bright, and the screen flashes to white.

I do not think this visual works in this type of sequence, for a comedic sitcom. That visual reminded me of a killer in a horror movie going insane, and I think it detracts from the sequence as a whole. I would leave the action of Joey bobbing his head, and just not speed it up, or flash to white. I would keep it simple.

One of the greatest aspects of this entire title sequence is the music matching the action and visuals on the screen. When there are “claps” in the music, there are fast cuts. For example, at the beginning of the sequence the music speeds up with the “claps” in the background, and the visuals on the screen match up with quick cuts of all the actors and actresses on the couch in different combinations and styles.

 

This is not only visually appealing, but audibly appealing, and creates a beat and visuals that the viewer can follow, and tap their foot to.

Overall, I absolutely love this title sequence and think that it represents the light-hearted, fun, and witty personality of the show, Friends. The simplicity and reliability to the Friends title sequence is what makes the sequence iconic. It is a piece of popular culture.

 

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AFI Visual Review: Bonnie and Clyde

Bonnie and Clyde is on the American Film Institute’s list of top ten greatest films in the “Gangster” genre.  It also won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography. The movie focuses on the a couple, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, that recruits a group of people, the Barrow Gang, who robs banks. The Barrow gang is led by Clyde, but also consists of Bonnie, C. W. Moss, a garage mechanic, Buck, Clyde’s brother, and Buck’s wife, Blanche. The gang becomes the target of statewide manhunts because of their robbery and murder crimes, and the gang become fascinated by their legendary reputation. There was an underlying romantic and sexual relationship between Bonnie and Clyde portrayed throughout the film as well. Bonnie and Clyde portrays crime as alluring and intertwined with sex. Throughout the film, the gang has a few incredible escapes and hide outs in various places, but eventually loses two members to a police ambush. Eventually Bonnie and Clyde are taken down and killed in a trap created when C. W.’s father cooperates with the police to decrease his son’s sentence.

The movie was released in 1967, and is considered to be a movie of firsts. It was one of the first movies in the New Hollywood generation. It was one of the first films to feature squibs, small explosives mounted with bags of stage blood, that are detonated inside an actor’s clothes to simulate bullet shots. Before Bonnie and Clyde, shootings were depicted as bloodless, but the Bonnie and Clyde death scene was one of the first in mainstream American cinema to be depicted with graphic realism. Gabriel Byrne described the film as being different because, “It was the first major gangster picture in technicolor,” and “the violence was exaggerated and almost balletic.” He described the violence as a dance of death. This violence is combined with a comedic tone. The film was intended to be a romantic and comic version of the violent gangster films of the 1930s, and used modern filmmaking techniques to portray this. The film uses rapid shifts of tone and in its choppy editing to convey this juxtaposition of violence and comedy.

In the movie, the editing is very choppy and quick during the violent and intense scenes. When the police ambushed the Barrow Gang the first time in a rented apartment in Joplin, Missouri (43:17- 44:30), the cuts were very quick. The editing quickly mashes up three main shots with different angles for the shots. One of the main shots is the the police shooting at the house from the point of view of the house through the window, switching between close-ups:

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And wide shots:

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Another main shot is the Barrow gang shooting through the window from the point of view of the police, switching between close-ups:

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And wide shots:

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The final type of shot they use is the shot of the Barrow Gang shooting from the side:

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These quick cuts from shot to shot are combined with the quick camera movement. There are quick panning left and right, quick trucking left and right, and quick tracking to follow the Barrow Gang as well as the police running around to avoid gunshots.

This quick panning and trucking, and the quick cuts of different shots and angles were used in every police ambush. The second police ambush (1:16:10-1:18:41) uses the same shots from the first ambush: the the police shooting at the hotel from the point of view of the hotel through windows (switching between close-ups and wide shots), the Barrow gang shooting through the window from the point of view of the police (switching between close-ups and wide shots), and the Barrow Gang shooting from the side. The second ambush adds four shots to the mix. Two of the shots are an over the shoulder shot of the Barrow Gang shooting and an over the shoulder shot of the police shooting:

Another one of the shots is an angled shot of the police shooting:

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The last shot they add is an overall side shot of the hotel and the police cars facing each other:

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This scene also adds the element of switching quickly between the shot of Buck’s room in the hotel and Clyde’s room in the hotel.

The third ambush use these same shots, but in a car instead of a house (1:21:10-1:22:07). The third ambush also adds the visual element of chaos by having a shaky camera to portray to chaos, movement, and craziness of being in a car trying to dodge gunshots from the police. When the camera tries to portray the point of view of someone in the Barrow Crew, they often use a shaky camera movement to make the chaos look realisitic. There are two camera shots that use this shaky movement: the driver point of view shot:

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And the direct shot on Clyde driving the car:

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The final police ambush is seen as one of the bloodiest and most violent scenes during this time of filmmaking.

 

This scene features quick cuts of shots as well. The scene starts with some visual elements portraying a car seen frequently throughout the movie because a large portion of the movie takes place inside a car. The actor and/or the camera shakes up and down to make it looks like the bumping and shaking that occurs when one rides in a car. There is also a green screen behind the windows of the car that make it appear as if it the background is truly moving, but the moving image is added later in editing. It also uses the camera movement of push forward from the perspective of the driver in the car to create a realistic view of what the driver would be seeing.

When the actual ambush is signaled and begins, the quick cuts begin. The shot of the car approaching from a distance, to C.W.’s father, to the bushes, to Clyde’s face, to Bonnie’s face, to a close-up of Clyde’s face looking at Bonnie, to a close-up of Bonnie’s face looking at Clyde, to the police in the bushes, to the Clyde’s body, to Bonnie’s body, and then to an wide shot of the car and their dead bodies. These quick cuts mirror the scene itself and the death of Bonnie and Clyde where it all happens so fast. An added element of this scene is the slow-motion effect of their bodies literally following to add dramatic effect.

These shots use various elements of photography to make them visually appealing. Throughout the movie framing and leading lines are created by the windows of their hideaways, and the windows of the cars they steal. This framing is meant to place or maintain focus on that character and the action of that character.

 

The rule of thirds is also, as it is used in everything, to make the picture visually appealing.

A special dutch angle is used when the Barrow Gang falls out of the driver as they were trying to escape the police.

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The color scheme and lighting of the film is also very significant. The color scheme of the entire movie is overall very dark and dull. The scenes have tan and brown tones.

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In my opinion two color stick out in the entire movie, the blood and the pink dress that Bonnie wears. The blood signifies someone dying or hurt.

The pick dress signifies Bonnie and Clyde thinking everyone is going to be okay, and they will live happily ever after.

 

The lighting in this film is also important because it shows scenes during the day and during the night. The daytime is obviously portrayed by everything being well-lit, bright, and clearly blue sky.

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The nighttime very starkly contrasts with this brightness, and is portrayed through poor lighting, lack of light, shadows, and black tones in the pictures.

The darkness is also shown in the brightness of the car lights contrasting with the darkness of the rest of the scene.

There is also a scene, the scene in which Bonnie sees her mother later in the film, which has a special color scheme and lighting. There is a golden hue over the entire, and there is a slight haze and blurriness in the lighting of the scene.

The point of this grainy, blurry, sandy, golden scene is to show the glory and holiness in this scene between Bonnie and her mother. This entire scene is very innocent and sweet, which contrast with the rest of the violent and passionate scenes in the film. This scene stands out from those scenes because of its unusual lighting, blurriness, and color scheme.

Finally, the bluegrass/banjo music in the background also matches with the action and visuals on the screen. After every successful bank robbery, the bluegrass music plays while the Barrow Gang drives away from the scene of the crime.

Overall, the visuals really reflect the violence, and the quick cutting, panning, trucking, and tracking is very effective in creating a sense of passion, chaos, and violence. I personally really like the use of windows for framing because they are very visually appealing and place the focus on the characters that are involved in the action. However, I do not like the lighting of the night scenes. The poor lighting and lack of light does not work well because it is difficult to see which characters are performing which actions. Despite the lighting, Bonnie and Clyde has incredible visuals, especially for the 1960s, which is probably why they won an Academy Award for Best Cinematography.

 

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Commercial Visual Review

 

 

Taco Bell advertised their new “taco,” the Quesalupa, a taco with cheese-filled shell, using the motto, “this is going to be bigger than…” to connect the Quesalupa to popular culture. Comedy, celebrities, and quick visuals are used to grab and keep the watcher’s attention.

The quick camera movements created fluid transitions between each scene to connect the Quesalupa in each scene. The camera movement matches up with the words being said. For example, when the girl in the first scene says, “this is going to be bigger than man buns,” the screen transitions to man buns, and so on, for each popular culture reference.

In the first scene, the camera zooms out on the background, keeping the foreground still to transition from the scene with the people on the jeep to the men with man buns (0:00-0:05).

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The second scene transitions to the girls using Tinder by creating the effect of a photograph being taken. There is a flash on the screen and a camera sound, and then the scene transitions to the man with a bun on a phone in the Tinder app, and then the camera dolls out to show the girl on the bed (0:06-0:08).

Then, a quick, shaky pan left from the girls to the Texas biker lawyer mimics the biker’s sudden and chaotic crash entrance (0:10-0:12).

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The next quick transition is in the driverless car, from the drivers seat to the people eating the Quesalupa with a quick truck left (0:23-0:27).

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Another quick transition is a quick truck left, and moving the camera diagonally down to shift focus from the chaos of the Mars landing to the people eating the quesalupa in the control room (0:30-0:35).

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There is more camera motion in the Giorgio scene where the camera zooms in for dramatic effect and focus on him eating the Quesalupa. The image of clap board, the “edit” noise that sound like a beep, with the white circle, make the scene’s mistake look more organic and comedic (0:41-0:46).

Then, in the Harden’s beard scene, the camera dolls out on his beard to show the entire scene of him eating the Quesalupa to place more emphasis on it (0:46-0:50).

 

One of the last scenes transition from the soccer ball to the player is a very quick sped up truck right to follow the kicker kicking the soccer ball, a slow motion shot of the soccer ball flying in the air, and then and over-the-shoulder pan right of the player (1:03-1:06).

Just when you may think the commercial is over. The camera dolls out of the firework text into the commercial on a laptop, and pans left as the teenager watching the video looks to the left at his friend (1:08-1:14).

The final visual is a doll out of the scene in the bedroom into a room with hundreds of videos playing on a wall at the same time. The camera quickly pans right, and then a quick doll in on George Takei (1:14-1:21).

Color scheme is also a commonly used transition throughout the video. For example, the pink color scheme from the biker is used to transition to the drones flying during sunset because both scenes having pink-purplish tones (0:17-0:19).

The transition from the Mars scene to the Giorgio scene uses color scheme again; both scenes are dark and have brownish-black tones (0:36-0:40).

The commercial also uses a shallow depth of field throughout the video to create focus, and always keep the Quesalupa in focus. The first image is the taco in focus, and the woman leaning on the jeep out of focus, then when the woman becomes in focus, the background is still out of focus.

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The shallow depth of field is always used to place focus on the person talking and eating the quesalupa by keeping them in focus. In the scene with the drone, the man talking is in focus, and the man not talking is out of focus.

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Of course, as always the camera uses symmetry, rule of thirds, and framing to create focus.

Symmetry with the virtual reality guys:

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Rule of thirds with the guy listening to music:

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Framing of the soccer player/kicker with the lights:

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The commercial also uses text and music well. The video starts out with no music, and then the music begins, and as the video continues it gets more intense and the camera movements are faster. The pictures are on the beat of the music to create dramatic effect. The commercial ends with the traditional Taco Bell logo shaky and the Taco Bell bell sound to match the picture, to connect all the product placement of the quesalupa in each scene throughout the commercial.

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The transitions matching the words and the music matching the pictures worked very well in the video. The only thing that did not work as well was the first scene being light and all the other scenes being dark. I think a common color scheme of darkness would have made in even more cohesive and effective. Overall, the commercial is very effective at grabbing the attention of the viewer, and maintaining it because of the comedy, quick visuals, and fast-paced, exciting music.

#visualreview

Rear Window Visual Review

Alfred Hitchcock created Rear Window during his experimental period in the 1940s. His concept was an entire film shot from one vantage point. By constructing the entire film around the rear window of a Greenwich Village apartment, he symbolized the movie watching experience, and the experience of everyday social media, viewing people’s lives though a phone or computer. Hitchcock’s film is based on the short tory “It Had to be Murder” written by Cornell Woolrich. The idea of the film, Rear Window, literally embodies the idea of this course, Visual Literacy, which is relaying a story or message visually. Hitchcock creates and transforms a written piece of literature into a visual story, or film, and he does so using video imaging and compositional elements.

“It Had to be Murder” is about an injured man named Hal Jeffries who is confined to his apartment, with only his housekeeper Sam to keep him company. He watches his neighbors from his window to pass time, and observes their everyday routines and habits. One particular neighbor starts to behave strangely and Jeff notices. The man packs up his wife’s clothes, and then Jeff discovers that his wife is not in the apartment anymore. His suspicion is that his neighbor has murdered his wife. However, police do not believe him, so Jeff investigates and uncovers the mystery himself with the help of Sam.

Rear Window is essentially the same story, however, there is a bit more detail to Jeff’s character, and of course, a love story component. The character of Hal Jeffries is transformed into L.B. Jeffries, an adventurous photographer with a broken leg. He spends his recovery time in the same way: watching his neighbors through his back window. However, to create drama, only a week before his cast comes off, he hears a scream in the middle of the night from across the street. After noticing his neighbor leaving his apartment several times in one night, much like Hal Jeffries, he suspects his neighbor of murdering his wife. With the help of his nurse, Stella and his girlfriend, Lisa, he starts to investigate what truly happened. The film adds a subplot of Jeff and Lisa’s dysfunctional relationship, and the way working together to solve the murder brings them closer.

In addition to plot, both versions of the story, “It Had to be Murder” and Rear Window are visually rich. Woolrich uses very specific and descriptive language in “It Had to be Murder” to create an image for Hitchcock to draw from for Rear Window. Vivid pictures are drawn by Woolrich because of his imagery and wording, “leaning slightly out, maybe an inch past the window frame” and “the haze I saw rising around his head.” Visual imagery and pictures from the short story line up to the visuals, language, and images in the film.

 

The fisheye lens with rounded blackening around the corners is used to display the image of the lens of a telescope on the screen. The fisheye lens is used to create a genuine feel of the point of view of a human looking around in the camera shot and on the screen.

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The imagery also describes other elements of the short story and film. Much of the language and imagery used describes the lighting of the the short story, and its effect on the plot. Lighting is a theme in both the short story and the film. “It Had to be Murder” uses imagery, such as: “un slanted down on one side of the hollow oblong,” to describe the lighting of the scene. Daytime and nighttime are major components of the lighting that also uses a color palette.

The daytime is portrayed in a color palette of neutral colors: tan hues, dull red tones (brick), and grayish undertones. Also, during the day the buildings are bright contrasting with the darkness in the windows and rooms (because people are gone and their lights are off), and the lamps and streetlights are off.

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There is a sunset in the first day to night transition to emphasize the transition creating a city symphony grouping. The sunset uses the warm oranges and red tones, and creates a color palette for the time of day the sun sets.

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Nighttime is portrayed in a color palette of bluish-blackish tones which is common for nighttime, but also derives from the short story’s mention of, “blue night-shade in my room.”

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The use of lamps, porch lights, and shadows create the nighttime effect. Lamps and streetlights are turned on to give reason for having enough light on screen to show activity on screens without taking away from the night time feel.

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In the shot below, there was a deliberate choice to keep the lamp in the frame to again emphasize the idea that it is night  because lamps signify night.

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Shadows generally symbolize night. Because light sources of the night, lamps, strike a subject from the side, instead of from above, the sun, a shadow is created. 

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The use of lighting, daytime versus nighttime, is used to describe plot as well. The short story uses imagery, such as: “leave her in the dark like that” to describe plot in which Jeff is voicing his concern that the man would leave his wife in the dark like that, implying that she is possibly not there, and even suggesting that he murdered her. Also, the light, or lack of light, allows Jeff to spy on his neighbor. In the short story it says that the man could not see Jeff behind darkness of bay window. In the film, Jeff reprimands Stella, his nurse for being in the light, and tells her to step back out of the light.

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Light is also used to draw attention to certain elements in the scene. For example, Jeff is focusing on the cars in alley when the ballerina turns her light on and the focus switches to ballerina because of lighting (34:48-34:56).

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Framing and leading lines are also used to place focus and direct the camera shot to certain subjects. The windows are very strategically used to frame the people in their apartments.

This is partly because they whole concept of the film is to shoot the film entirely from Jeff’s apartment which causes the viewer to only see people when you can see them through the window, and not when they are in between the windows or behind the shades. Even though the viewer cannot see the activities happening behind the shades or in between the windows, the camera sometimes follow the motion of the person in between the windows. For example, the camera panned diagonally up to follow the motion of the man, who supposedly killed his wife, walking up the stairs (35:30-36:15). This element adds to the suspense of the entire film’s plot which is whether or not the man murdered his wife; the fact that the viewer cannot see the actual murder only activities before and after the murder add to the suspense.

The zooming in on certain characters faces and the rule of thirds of certain characters places focus on these characters. Occasionally, the camera will cut to and zoom in on characters that are speaking. The camera will also zoom in on a character not speaking to create the idea that, that character is thinking about what just occurred, the camera zooms in on Jeff for this effect multiple times. Rule of thirds is used for visually pleasantry to focus on a single character in a shot, or to balance the focus between two characters in a shot.

Camera movement is also used to place focus on certain activities in the apartments, and follow what Jeff is examining through his window. The camera pans around the apartments and follows the movement and activities of the people. This sweeping motion also mimics the “semicircular” eye gaze used in “It Had to be Murder” to describe the man looking around for people watching him after the possible murder. 

Lateral panning is used to scan the apartments up and down and from side to side, and the camera will sometimes pause and even pan back quickly if motion and activity is detected to shift focus to that activity. This camera movement creates the effect of point of view, much like the viewer is following the eyes of a human. The point of view is often at eye level to add to the effect that we are following the viewpoint of a human, most likely Jeff. As the camera follows what Jeff is looking at, the viewer is following what Jeff is seeing.

Overall, Alfred Hitchcock effectively uses several compositional elements and video imaging to adapt “It Had to be Murder” into a suspenseful film, Rear Window. His challenge of shooting an entire film from one vantage point is achieved while also being visually pleasing.

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Visual Review-Boston Bombing

“Boston Bombing Survivor” is a breathtaking photo capturing the experience of a victim after a tragedy. When I saw this photo at the Newseum, I was struck by the emotion and beauty in this photo. Josh Haner of The New York Times spent three months capturing Jeff Bauman’s recovery.

Jeff Bauman was waiting at the Boston Marathon finish line to cheer on his girlfriend when the bombing happened. Two pressure-cooker bombs exploded shredding his legs and puncturing both of his eardrums.

The sign next to the photo at the Newseum said, “Haner wanted his photo of Bauman to remind people of the struggle ahead for the survivors of the bombing, which killed three people and wounded more than 260. Bauman ‘was at a sporting event, and his life changed in the blink of an eye,’ said Haner.”

The various visual elements and grammar of the photo add to this message Haner was trying to portray.

The lighting of the piece was the first thing that struck me, as the light only hits his upper body and face. This choice of lighting highlights his reliance on his upper body more than his lower body now, and it shows that his upper body is his source of power now. This lighting combined with the high angle and short or wide lens create a feeling of a superhero.

The outstretched arms, the high angle, and the use of a short or wide lens dispropriate his body, making his arms look long and his legs look huge. The short or wide lens distorts objects that are close to the camera, his legs, and make them look much larger than they actually are. The high angle also adds to this effect that his legs look larger than the rest of his body. These elements create a focus on the effect or the damage of the bombing on his body, specifically his legs, and the disability and recovery he will have to deal with for the rest of his life.

His body language also shows the difficulty of his recovery. His arms are outstretched in a way that they are completely relaxed, like he has lost all energy to lift his arms up. His head is resting on the pillow, and he is not looking at the camera because he is too tired to even lift his head. Looking away from the camera with a blank expression on face, creates a sense of sadness, exhaustion, but also acceptance of the situation. I get a feeling that he is accepting this recovery as his new reality, almost as if he does not care what the public thinks of him anymore because the camera (and the audience) are so irrelevant he will not even look at the camera. However, not looking at the camera could also create a sense of shame in that he does not want people to see his face. His body language creates this conflicting theme which might be the emotions Bauman is dealing with internally.

The  shallow depth of field to create a foreground blur which brings the background into the foreground, bringing the background, his upper body and face, into focus, and leaving the foreground, his legs, out of focus. This shallow depth of field detracts the attention from the legs, which are not in the light or in focus, to the upper body and face which are in the light and is in focus. This again emphasizes his new reliance on his upper body and the power in his upper body.

To frame the subject, Haner uses to lines of the bed to point and funnel us to the face and upper body of Bauman.

His color scheme of darkness around Bauman and light in Bauman creates a feeling of hope in Bauman. The darkness of the bed, background, and his legs could parallel to the darkness of the tragedy, the bombing, and his disability. The tragedy is in the past, and now it is time for recovery, therefore the bandages, his shirt, and the pillow are all white and light to portray a sense of hope for the future.

Overall, I love this photo because it portrays the struggle of recovery very well.

http://www.pulitzer.org/winners/josh-haner

 

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Carol Guzy Visual Review

Carol Guzy is a well-accomplished American photojournalist for the Washington Post. She is the only journalist, and one of only four people to ever win the Pulitzer Prize four times. She fell in love with photography when her friend gave her a camera in college when she was working toward a nursing degree. She stated that her nursing degree helped her gain an understanding and sensitivity to human suffering.

Guzy often photographs people, animals, and things during times of suffering. She has photographed Kosovo refugees, animals left behind after Hurricane Katrina, the mudslide in Armero, Colombia in 1985, the political crisis in Haiti and its aftermath in 1994, and Mother Teresa’s funeral.

I will be focusing on the series of photos Guzy captured revolving the animals left behind after Hurricane Katrina. In her series, she begins with pictures of sadness and then evolves into pictures of hope at the end. She accomplishes this through color scheme by capturing duller and even darker tones in the beginning, and then capturing more colors and more whites at the end. She is telling a story of these animals being left behind and damaged, and then cared for and given a new home. Guzy uses different depths of field to highlight the different factors of the animals suffering and redemption. She uses close ups and reflections to emphasize the animal. Guzy also uses lines, and symmetry to frame the animals and focus on their needs and their development in the piece.  

http://thebark.com/content/photographs-carol-guzy-pulitzer-prize-winner

Guzy uses extreme close-ups to highlight an aspect of the animal. For example, in this photo, the close up shows the details of the tar on the dog’s paw. The color scheme in this photo is very dull and dark creating a sense of sadness. It also uses a shallow depth of field, placing the paw in focus, and the background out of focus to help to viewer zero in on the paw.

Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, 2005

The shallow depth of field and close up are also used in another one of her photos capturing a kitten’s paw to focus on the paw reaching out almost as if it is reaching for love and hope. This photo is toward the end of the series and is capturing the hope by using a brighter and whiter color palette. Also, the cage or gate split the photo in half creating symmetry on either side. This photo also uses the reflection of the glass on the left to re-direct the focus to the animal, by having the animal look into the photo, and toward the paw.

WARL resident, 2006

The reflection concept is used again in a picture of a dog running away with the “Beware the Dog” sign reflecting in the car window to direct the viewer to the dog in the photo. A deep depth of field and narrow aperture is used here to show the entire environment affecting the dog. The lines of of the street also frame the dog.

Hurricane Katrina rescue effort, 2005
The posts in the background of this photo frame the dog to make him the center of attention. A short or wide lens is used to distort the image making the dog, which is closer to the camera, look bigger than the cross in the background. This lens, as well as the use of a low angle, create a heroic tone for the dog, much like it is emerging from a battle. The rule of thirds is also used to frame the dog.

Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, 2005

The final photo uses the symmetry of the glass cage, the lines of the metal in the cage, and the children arms to point to the dog, and place the focus on the people helping the dogs. Also, this final photo has many colors to create hope and happiness at the end of the series.

Overall, I love Carol Guzy’s work. Guzy captures rather bleak subjects in a powerful, and sometimes even hopeful way. She does a very good good at capturing a personal story, whether it be a dog, or a person like Mother Teresa, while also telling the story of the environment and circumstances surrounding that story.

Bonus photo of me hugging Carol Guzy at a Journalism Conference two summers ago:

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“Carol Guzy.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2016.

“Carol Guzy.” The Washington Post. The Washington Post, n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2016.

Ladylike Celeb Workout Lines

The Ladylike team at Buzzfeed creates videos that test products pertaining to women. In this video, the Ladylike team tests different types of celebrity workout clothing lines, and rate the clothes based on three tests: the bounce test, the sweat test, and the stretch test.

The variety of camera angles throughout the piece make the piece visually appealing. The video starts with a repetition of a video of one of the girls shimmying with the camera zooming in on each beat of the music. 

Throughout the video, there are examples of low angles and high angles. A low angle of the girls doing burpees is shot.

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A high and diagonal angle of the yoga instructor lying down after yoga is taken.

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They even use the fishbowl camera effect is used during the instant replay of the bounce test.

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Whenever the girls are being interviewed, the camera uses a fixed shot and switches between a head-on shot and an angled/diagonal shot of the girl.

The camera also pans up and down the girls when showing their outfit or following the workout activities, such as the burpees. The camera’s movement is a bit shaky throughout the piece to create a sense of realism.

The editing and pacing of the piece keep the action on the beat of the music making the piece flow well. The title/introduction screen starts with the women walking in slow motion down the street to the beat of the music, and once the music speeds up the walking is accelerated. The instant replay shown after the bounce test is also in slow motion. All the yoga poses are shown quickly by speeding the action up to help maintain the watcher’s focus. The end of the video features a sped-up compilation of all the activities presented in the video in a few seconds. L-cut is used when the camera shows the bounce test with an audio overlay of a girl talking about the bounce test, and then transitions to a fixed shot of the girl talking with no break. J-cut is used when there is a fixed shot of a girl talking about the workout, and then cuts to a video of the actual workout with an audio overlay of the girl still talking.

 

The use of text and graphics is a major component in this piece, and both use a color scheme of bright and fun colors, such as: lime green, violent, and yellow. The title screen incorporates these colors as well as borders the text with black. The lettering is in all caps making a statement that the piece is bold and fun.

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The lower third of the screen is also used for text to display the celebrity’s name and the name of their clothing line, as well as guests, such as the workout buff, Jordan. This uses the same color scheme, inverted to the black text with the bright color as a border. These texts slide in with a swiping noise.

 

Graphics are used to compare the scores of each workout line, by splitting the screen into four, and displaying the score beneath the picture of the celebrity.

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When the score is presented next to the girl wearing the clothing line, the score and the celebrity frame the screen diagonally.

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A spacial montage is used at the beginning of the video to show the actor on the left side, the workout outfit in the middle, and the celebrity and price of clothing in the middle, splitting the screen into thirds.

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The video used two transitions. The first transition is a cinderella-type transition that transitions from the women introducing the video to a girl spinning in her working clothes. The transition is a blurred screen with a magical and fairy-like noise in the background. The other transition is the sliding transition before each test with the sweeping noise.

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Overall, the piece was very visually appealing, and kept me engaged the entire time. I think the speeding up and slowing down with the music worked well in keeping the video fast-paced and interesting, but the shaky camera and blurry camera moments at times distracted from the video.

#visualreview