Week 7: Colour Palettes in Film

The first time I watched 500 Days of Summer, I misinterpreted it completely. I took what I saw at face value and missed the point. It’s an easy thing to do because the movie is heavily skewed toward the protagonist’s point of view rather than an objective look on the plot and the characters. Eventually, I got it (after rewatching the movie many times), but it was only when I talked to another student in RTA did I realize that there were one clue in particular that made the underlying message so obvious: the use of colour.

You can read more about the application of colour in 500 Days of Summer here if you want (there will be spoilers!)

There are lots of movies/TV shows that are very deliberate with their colour palette, and they stick out because of it. One of my favourite examples is the movie Her where the cinematographer, Hoyte Van Hoytema, decided to get rid of the colour blue in the film. It created a future world that was different than the normal, sci-fi, futuristic setting. It stood out.

(http://www.hitfix.com/in-contention/cinematographer-hoyte-van-hoytema-on-capturing-spike-jonzes-her-through-a-non-dystopian-lens)

Colour is huge. It can change the mood for any piece of art. On their own certain colours evoke feelings, but a colour palette can play a big role in a story.

On a side note: digital colourists are super cool. http://nofilmschool.com/2015/01/colorists-most-appreciated-people-post-production

Week 6: Motion Graphics

This video, made by popular youtubers Rhett & Link, was one of my favourite videos as a kid. I remember watching it and trying to understand how they made it all work. At the beginning, they give you a glimpse of how much work it was (Afterall, changing tshirts 222+ times can’t be done in an hour). Part of what makes this video so strong is that it isn’t seamless. It’s rough and sometimes it skips a few frames, but that just adds to the humour and the style.

I’m also thinking of creating an animated stop motion clip for my project. The idea is centered around a book called “Couch” by Benjamin Parzybok. It’ll start with 3 guys sitting on a couch when their apartment floods. They get soaked but stay on the couch. The water will then take them and the couch to the ocean.

Everything Is Illuminated

I chose to create a poster for my favourite book, Everything Is Illuminated, and its movie counterpart. Unfortunately there will be spoilers in my artist’s statement!! The story follows an American, Jewish man named Jonathan who goes to Ukraine to try to find the woman who saved his grandfather from the Nazis during WW2. He’s equipped only with an inscribed photograph of his grandfather in his youth with this woman. The inscription says only two things: Augustine (the name of the woman, presumably), and Trachimbrod (the shtetl in which they lived).

Because the grandfather is the catalyst of the journey, I decided to make him the central figure of my poster. In Everything Is Illuminated, Jonathan and his grandfather looked identical. It must be a Jewish thing because my older cousin looked identical to our grandfather too. I decided to take a photo of my cousin in my grandfather’s old clothing to reflect this aspect of the story.

One of the themes of this story is that, “Everything is illuminated in the light of the past”. It’s the idea that we are who we are not in spite of our past but because of it. We are shaped by the past that happened even before our time, and this knowledge is essential to helping one live meaningfully. I wanted to capture that idea in my poster with the way I inputed the image of “the grandfather”.

I decided to add in a picture of the grandfather alone, rather than a picture with him and a woman (to emulate the story). Even though the movie focuses on finding Trachimbrod and therefore the woman, the novel focuses more on the creation of Trachimbrod several hundred years before. I wanted to display the idea that even though the woman may be the last piece of remaining piece of Trachimbrod, she’s not more important than the hundreds of people who lived in the shtetl since its inception. She’s only one part of the history that shaped the story of Jonathan’s life.

There is one scene in the movie where Alex, the Ukrainian translator that Jonathan hires, walks up to a house surrounded by sunflowers. It’s a stunning visual that many assumed to be CGI. However, according to the director, the sunflower seeds were specifically planted and cultivated, and the filming schedule was based around them. They’re a symbol of light and illumination as Jonathan and Alex finally find Trachimbrod.

This was my first time using Photoshop so I came across a lot of challenges. When I tried to recreate the sunflower field (digitally this time!), I didn’t realize I’d be creating 300 layers as I individually placed and sized sunflowers onto the lower half of the poster. The sunflower field took the longest time and by the end it still looked like it lacked depth. So I started messing around with filters and settled on one called Dust and Scratches. I selected the smaller, further away sunflowers and applied the filter to 2 pixels while the middle section had the filter applied to 1 pixel. The rationale behind this was to create depth – specifically the idea that you can’t see details as well the further away the subject is.

I created a gradient underneath the sunflowers but by the end I was displeased with the colour choice so I copied the leaf from a flower in the bottom left corner and placed the duplicated layers underneath the sunflowers. That additional layer added depth to the field as well and made the grass look more realistic.

Week 5: My Digital Diary

There are certain media that I use on a daily basis, without fail. For example, I mindlessly scroll down my Facebook newsfeed in a way to procrastinate whatever I have to do. I also do the same with Tumblr, but its effect is much better than the effect of scrolling through Facebook. My phone is practically attached to my phone 24/7; I’m always in contact with at least one person online through apps like FB Messenger or Whatsapp or Viber.

And then there are media I use less often, but still significantly. On a regular weekday like today, I’ll wake up and read my twitter feed, realize how many people new tweets there are each day, give up, and get out of bed. That’s right, I’m on social media before I get out from under the covers. I’ll read the daily Metro on my morning commute – background music downloaded from Spotify plays from my phone. By the time I hit Davisville Station, I’ll be texting someone (why is there no signal underground? It’s not that hard to achieve). When I get to school, I’m usually a little early so I can talk to my new friends about my day. In-person, verbal storytelling: it’s truly irreplaceable.

Especially on sites like Twitter and Tumblr, people are willing to share a lot about their personal lives. On Twitter we’ve collectively outgrown the “I’m pooping now” tweets, and have started sharing more general things such as things we learn from our classes, quotes from real life that we have to immortalize, funny things we think about to show everyone how hilarious/thought-provoking we are. For example, everything I post on Twitter is for other people because I personally know most of the people who follow me, and I know that my tweets can make/break their impression of me. On the other hand Tumblr is very different. For the most part, I don’t know any of the people who follow me. They’re mostly strangers from around the world, and because of that, I feel more comfortable to share deeply personal thoughts – the kinds of things I wouldn’t want people who know me to see.

Sharing things online is relieving in a sense. When you’re happy, excited, sad, or angry, a natural response is to want to share those things with our friends so they can be happy, excited, sad, or angry with us. When the people you want to share things with aren’t available (all my friends from high school go to schools outside Toronto), you post your feelings online so that others, even strangers, can come along for the emotional ride with you.