Word Photo 8: Deceptive

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This photo represents the word deceptive because of perspective. It deceptively looks as though the subject is planning to pee on a wall, however they are in fact just cleaning a stain off of their shirt. This photo was an instance of perfect timing!

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Visual Review 7: Title Sequence

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The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011) has an incredibly visually interesting title sequence. The Swedish film, directed by David Fincher and Tim Miller, covers various dark topics from the angle of a dramatic mystery. The title sequence manages to touch on many overall themes of the movie, while concurrently setting a continuous and flowing tone of violence, struggle, and conflict.

The film focuses on the story of a rebellious female hacker with a rough and painful past, and her various pathways to vengeance. The main running themes and visual trends of the film include feminism, sexual assault, abuse, violence, technology, fire, and leather. The title sequence manages to give the audience a hint of every major concept while being nearly monochromatic throughout, and continuously cutting to different shots. Despite the continuous sharp cuts, the sequence maintains a running sense of fluidity and interconnectedness.

The font featured for the credits was created by Neil Kellerhouse specifically for the film. The font creates a nice contrast to the intensity of the sequence through its fairly delicate yet sharp style, as well as the grey-white color of it over the incredibly dark sequence. It also manages to not distract from the scenes at all by being stationary and to the left or right of the screen every time the text appears. Additionally, the font is an homage to the style original typography of the novel that the film is based off.

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Text credits in the sequence

 

The sequence mainly features a viscous liquid flowing from cut to cut and surface to surface, with a female cover of “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin as the title sequence song. The fluid takes on a life of its own as the dominant feature of the sequence, with nearly the entire color scheme of the sequence coming from the metallic greenish-black substance, which goes on to envelop and blend over every object or person in much of the sequence. This creates intricately captivating textures and reflections of minimal lighting, while also enabling the sequence to foreshadow the contents of the film.

 

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Liquid going over what is assumed to be a leather surface

The sequence develops tone, a fractured narrative, and tone by incorporating technology, violence, and fire in a visually innovative style. The main character, Lisbeth, is a hacker and uses technology to empower herself and to ruin those who have wronged her. This is shown in a series of cables and wires tangling in on themselves and twisting in a life-like, almost possessed manner. Violence is directly incorporated via scenes of bondage, hands struggling and gripping at air and each other, and direct fist-to-face up close contact. Fire is a huge component of Lisbeth and her backstory, and it is incorporated through the lighting of a match in intense detail, and a large enveloping flame coming from it.

This title sequence is one of the most memorable, visually engaging ones that I have seen. In fact, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was the first film that came to mind when I saw the assignment. It does an amazing job of both being a well-composed introduction to the film that follows and a standalone visual composition with its own narrative and tonality.

 

Visual Review 6: Pulp Fiction

 

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Credit: miramax.com/movie/pulp-fiction/

As one of the most well-known and well-liked films among my generation, Pulp Fiction (1994) is known and lauded for creativity in almost every aspect of filmmaking, from the fast and witty script, to the near perfect casting choices. Much of the film’s distinctiveness comes from stylistic decisions and complete comfort when integrating popular culture and gritty criminal behavior in a light-hearted manner. This style has made the film a pop-culture icon without feeling outdated, even to those too young to understand certain references. Most importantly the director, Quentin Tarantino and cinematographer, Andrzej Sekuła place a huge focus on the intricacies of cinematography and camera movements as a means of storytelling and as a way to focus or distract the viewers. The film focuses on the intersecting lives of two hitmen, Jules Winnfield and Vincent Vega, their boss and his wife, Marsellus and Mia Wallace, two small-time robbers Ringo and Yolanda, and a boxer named Butch Coolidge.

The importance of camera movements and the intricacies of the film’s cinematographic choices comes from the intersection of so many different story lines in the film. This intersection makes panning, cuts, perspective, and alternating wide, medium, and close-up shots essential to showing plot connections and to foreshadow and contextualize many plot points. Tarantino also popularized certain angles that were not commonly used prior to Tarantino, based simply on how he preferred the scene to be set up. For example, Tarantino is known to have a signature angle called a “trunk shot” in many of his films, which is a low-angle shot with characters looking down at an angle into the camera, at something the audience is unable to see immediately. The camera is actually located in the trunk of a car in the shot in

Tarantino also popularized certain angles that were not commonly used prior to Tarantino, based simply on how he preferred the scene to be set up. For example, Tarantino is known to have a signature angle called a “trunk shot” in many of his films, which is a low-angle shot with characters looking down at an angle into the camera, at something the audience is unable to see immediately. The camera is actually located in the trunk of a car in the shot in Pulp Fiction and serves to create a visual connection between the audience and characters, as well as contribute to a power balance among characters. This specific shot occurs as the two hitmen, Jules and Vincent, casually yet confidently take out and clean their guns from the trunk of their car, in preparation to go threaten and kill some people that owe their boss money. This low angle and casual mannerisms between the two men creates a sense of power and dominance of the men above their surroundings. This dynamic serves to further the point that the two characters are experienced and that this is not at all unusual for them. The trunk shot also utilizes negative space, lighting, and shadows to focus the scene on the nonchalant power of the two characters.

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Trunk Shot

In addition to shots that add personality and power dynamics, many of the most memorable shots from Pulp Fiction are those scenes showing the intersections of multiple different characters’ storylines. These intersecting scenes all tend to occur during suspenseful or climactic periods of the film, making the intersection even more dramatic. For example, Butch, the boxer, and Marsellus Wallace, the crime boss have intertwined stories in that Butch deceived Marsellus and then tries to skip town. The scene where Butch and Marsellus see each other again after Butch doesn’t follow Marsellus’s directions is amazingly composed. It starts with a close-up, eye-level shot of Butch casually driving, with the camera taking the role of a dashboard camera.

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Butch before seeing Marsellus

Just as Butch turns his head to look to the side, the scene makes a quick cut, and the camera literally seems to just flip to the opposite direction, at the same level, position, and angle, but facing outwards from the car, showing a crosswalk with Marsellus at the very edge, framed by the car’s dashboard. With the camera flip, despite being at a similar location, it becomes a medium shot from a lower angle.

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Marsellus seeing Butch

The intensity of the scene is enhanced by how slowly Marsellus turns his head, in comparison to the speed of the cars behind him. Viewers are almost able to see the gears turning in both characters heads when each finally notices the other in front of them. Marsellus’s expression immediately shifts to rage, while Butch’s immediately shifts to fear. The cuts in this scene are once again, incredibly important. In addition to the cut between watching Butch drive and watching the crosswalk, there is a sharp cut into Butch’s foot slamming on the gas, and another cut back to what is essentially Butch’s perspective. This new perspective shows Marsellus slamming into, and breaking the dash.

 

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Quick foot cut scene

This scene is similar to many other throughout the film where characters with intertwining stories intersect at various points. The skill and precision involved with sharp, fast cuts and transitions, as well as framing and point of view create an interesting ongoing trend for these certain encounters. This unique style is characteristic of Tarantino’s style as a director and filmmaker, by creating dynamic, oddly composed scenes by bending and manipulating common cinematographic techniques.

Pulp Fiction has won numerous awards including Best Screenplay from the Golden Globes, and Palme d’Or from the world renowned Cannes Film Festival, which is the top award. These types of awards are only given to films the have recognizably innovative or creative artistic merit. As such a complex film with a fairly simple central plot, Pulp Fiction combines painstakingly composed scenes with lighthearted characters attempting to fulfill specific tasks or social engagements. This dynamic is incredible, making sure that viewers can never be bored, as well as making sure the audience is focused on what Tarantino wants them to see, and unaware of whatever Tarantino wants to remain hidden.

 

 

Visual Review 5: Commercial

I chose a GoPro commercial that I have seen on Hulu a huge number of times, for many obvious reasons, considering it is a camera and video company. The advertisement is much longer than most but it was so well composed that I did not mind, and barely even noticed the length. One of the most artistically interesting photographic decision in the ad is how minimally the actual product is shown throughout the nearly five minute long commercial. It is instead filmed from the camera’s visual perspective and angles. This vantage point is both an amazing advertising tactic and artistically successful in keeping viewers visually entranced in the footage from actual users of GoPro’s products.

One of the most artistically interesting photographic decision in the ad is how unpresent representation of the actual products shown throughout the nearly five minute long commercial. It is instead filmed from the camera’s visual perspective and angles. This vantage point is both an amazing advertising tactic and artistically successful in keeping viewers visually entranced in the footage from actual users of GoPro’s products. There are many examples of bird’s eye, worm’s eye, and eye level shots throughout the advertisement, showing the product’s versatility when it comes to film choices.

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eye level
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worm’s eye

Additionally, the advertisement alternates between wide angle lenses and fisheye lenses with their clips. The fisheye lens typically appeared more in sports and action related shots, while the wide angle lenses were used more for sweeping nature photos, aerials, and family videos.

GoPro did an incredible job with curating film that seamlessly incorporated a multitude of camera movements. The majority of the advertising was a nearly textbook example of the “track” camera movement, since most GoPro users attach the camera to an object or themselves, creating a consistent distance and motion between the viewer and the film clip subject.  Additonally, the “follow” movement was featured many times, mainly from GoPro photographers filming someone moving away from them. In many shots, the film would tilt at a steady angle. The ad at around 3:18 shows a good example of this choices. During wide angle nature shots, panning was heavily applied in order to adeqautely display a full motion view of the scenery. Obviously, the literal form of dollying or trucking  would have made no sense to be featured in the ad, since GoPro is meant to be a product that you can just carry along, without extra equipment. The movement, along with the upbeat musical choice, forms a very high energy and adventurous mood throughout the extensive duration of the ad.

One of the most unique aspects of the advertisement, aside from its vast collection of beautiful clips, is the choice not to show the products being used throughout. The actual new cameras being advertised, HERO5 and Karma, are never shown. Instead, GoPro barely even claims the ad itself, with their logo appearing once in the beginnning and once in the end. Instead of trying to show off all the frills and intricacies of a camera, the advertisers made the intelligent choice to just let their product do the talking, through visual representation.

Word Photo 5: Soft

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This photo representing the word “soft” is of a brand new Bichon Frise puppy named Douglas that I had the privilege of walking for my pet sitting job. His fur is not only that of a puppy, which is generally incredibly soft, but the uniform whiteness of his fur adds to the viewers perception of softness.