Weeks Five and Six: Reading movies, making movies

“Cheers, I guess,” says Dr. Oblivion as he introduces the video segment of ds106. Snarky Dr. Oblivion comes first, letting you know that video, done well, is not easy, but good Dr. Oblivion follows to let you know it’s worth the effort.

We have two weeks of projects here: 2/9/24-2/16/24 and 2/16/24-2/23/24

Week 5

Finish this first section by Friday, 2/16, and link or embed it in your weekly summary.

Revisit goals
Somehow we’re already a third of the way through. Look back at your ds106goals from week 1. Do you feel you are on track? Or have they changed? This is quite possible now that you have a better feel for the course. Take a moment to reflect on how you are doing and blog about it. Tag this ds106goals2

Reading movies
This week we’re moving from audio to video. We’ve been looking at related aspects – photography, sound, design – all along, but now we’re going to look at cinematic camerawork, and how it all comes together.

Film analysis https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Film_analysis

Film Analysis – Storytelling https://pressbooks.pub/storytelling/chapter/film-analysis/


Interested in Black Mirror? One particular episode, “Be Right Back” (the 1st episode of season 2), might be of particular interest in terms of how large language models, social media, and AI might be able to bring back the dead. It is also brilliantly done to create a deeper sense of the real, emotional and existential issues at the heart of new “business” models for AI.

For me, this raises the question – How much of what we consider good acting is really good editing? When we watch movies, we identify with the actors. They are what we see and hear. We pay attention to story and dialogue. This week, I’m going to ask you to pretty much ignore that part, and pay attention to everything else – the camera, the lighting, the editing. The ways that video tells stories.

The video above comes from Tony Zhou’s great series, Every Frame a Painting in which he analyzes details of film making. The entire series is worth watching and highly recommended, but I’m going to point out these in particular:

Memories of Murder (2003) – Ensemble Staging

Akira Kurosawa – Composing Movement

Joel & Ethan Coen – Shot | Reverse Shot

In Praise of Chairs

An interesting point about all of these is that they are about design. It may not be design in the graphic sense, but staging, composition and sets are all carefully and deliberately planned out to achieve particular goals, that is to say, designed.

David Fincher – And the Other Way is Wrong

F for Fake (1973) – How to Structure a Video Essay

The Silence of the Lambs – Who Wins the Scene?

The Marvel Symphonic Universe

Note that the focus in these is not on plot or acting, or even if the movies are good or not, but rather on the techniques, like editing, that the directors use to tell stories.

Here is Alfred Hitchcock on the the Kuleshov Effect:

Apply what we’ve learned

Now that we’ve spent some time thinking about how films are made and how we “read” them, let’s apply that new information to a film. Identify some particularly effective scenes from a video related to our theme. Here is the Wikipedia list again: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_artificial_intelligence_films Pick one of them to analyze in a video essay. Use the critical lens of this week’s reading and resources. This means you are going to make a video, using a scene from a movie, and discuss the scene in voice-over narration. You can upload your video essay to Vimeo or Youtube. (Note: If you have a google account, you have a Youtube account. Vimeo may be a better choice for the video essay because their content police are more easygoing.)

Note: Often people pick scenes from favorite movies, and forget to separate what they like about the movie or show from what is happening in the scene and how it is put together. The focus should be on how film-making technique is used, not acting or plot or if the movie is good. It may be easier to analyze something that is not a favorite for the purposes of this assignment.

This assignment is a slight variation on the classic ds106 Video Essay assignment in the Assignment Bank. For this class, you need only analyze one scene, although you’re welcome to do more. In particular, your analysis should reflect what you learned by reading the film analysis readings and watching the Tony Zhou videos.

iMovie and MS Photos app are good tools for this project, and OpenShot may be a good free alternative, although I haven’t tried it yet. OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) looks like fun too. There are extensions for Firefox and Chrome to help with downloading clips. There is a whole page with advice and information that should help with this assignment, and the ds106 Video Essay assignment has a few tutorials linked to it. The Digital Knowledge Center is also a great resource. They offer tutoring on video editing.

When you’re done, blog your video essay (that means embed the video in your post, and write about the process of making it and what you got out of it.) and tag it videoessay.

Daily Creates
Do two this week

Plus, the usual commenting

Week 6

Finish this second section by Friday, 2/23, and link or embed it in your weekly summary.

Video Assignments:
Your choice of either A or B

A. Talk to the Bot
As a way of experimenting with video editing, you should have your character engage in a back and forth conversation with Dr. Oblivion. This is a video version of the Consult with your doctor audio assignment. The difference is you will have to generate a Dr Oblivion video from the MP3 recording you get from https://oblivion.university/.

Here are step-by-step directions for generating a Dr Oblivion video from an MP3 recording of one of his responses:
Note that some of the processing steps can take considerable time, perhaps 30 minutes.

Feel free to split your Oblivion video(s) to insert your character’s part of the conversation. This part of the conversation does not need to match your input to oblivion.university. It might help to get a couple Oblivion videos to get the full range of his personality. If you can animate your character, that’s great. If not, you could use an avatar image with a voice-over. Include it in a blog post along with reflections on your creative process. Tag it talktothebot.

B. Your choice of 3 video assignments from the Assignment Bank. Involve your character in some way in at least two of them.

Developing Your Character
One of the things we want you to think about is developing your character in relation to the mega-multi-national corporation Aggressive Technologies. This will be the common, connecting thread amongst all the various characters created, and you will have to somehow connect your character to this multi-billion dollar tech giant that has its hands in everything from online search to e-commerce to infrastructure to social media, with an Aggressive interest in cornering the burgeoning Artificial Intelligence market. Write a post wherein you start imagining these connections and building out your characters backstory and relationship to Aggressive Technologies. Tag this post aggressiveconnection.

Daily Creates
Do two this week

Keep it up! This is how we maintain our sense of connection and community.

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