Wednesday, February 24, 2010

TV and the Masses

I spent some time of and I learned a lot about the history of TV and the evolution of TV from concept to consumer craze to standard household appliance. The website was very well organized and contained a lot of good information that was easy to access. It was also really interactive with 3D exhibits and picture slideshow presentations about things such as the 1939 World Fair in New York City and the Timeline of Televison History.

When I was checking out the presentation on the World Fair it talked a lot about RCA's television demonstration. One thing that struck me was how television was so big during that time that people would receive "I Was Televised" cards as souvenirs. This fact did not strike me because people were so obsessed with television when it was first created, but because people are still this obsessed with TV. Not only can television stars on shows like "American Idol" and "America's Got Talent" be vaulted into stardom by this medium, but people always try to find a way to get their 15 minutes of fame by being on TV. Everytime I watch a sporting event on TV and the camera pans over the crowd, people are waving and jumping up and down in front of it, trying to be noticed by the people watching TV. Whenever I watch the news and the reporter is in a public place like a beach or a park, people always walk behind the camera and give a little wave. These people undoubtedly then call up their friends and family members and tell them to watch the 6:00 news to "look for them on TV!"

Over 70 years ago when TV was first shown at the World Fair it was a novelty and certainly an exciting event to be on TV. Now with TV taken for granted as 90% of U.S. homes have a TV, people are still trying to get on TV in any way possible, and those "I Was Televised" cards could likely still be a desirable souvenir for some. I think this speaks to the power of TV and its effect as a form of mass media. With the internet and social networking sites such as Facebook and Myspace as well as YouTube. Just about everyone with a computer and internet hookup can put their image on the internet for hundreds of thousands of people to potentially see. However this somehow still does not hold the same novelty as being shown on TV in the crowd of a baseball game for 3 1/2 seconds with 40 other people.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Radio and the Voices Heard Around the Country

I am sitting here listening to the radio program "Sherlock Holmes" under the Mystery section of When checking out the site I also listened to a few comedy sketches and some news bulletins. I listened to the news bulletins of the attack on Pearl Harbor and it bothered me that while I was listening to the reporter give news of the attack I couldn't see any images of Pearl Harbor or President Roosevelt giving the report. In the 1940s people couldn't just turn on the TV and check the news the way they can now. Listening to the bulletin reminded me of 9/11 and how my teacher turned on the TV during school so we could see the news report. It made me wonder what it would have been like during the bombing of Pearl Harbor knowing so little about the attack except what could be heard on the radio. It must have made the attack even more frightening for people not knowing the extent of the attack until hours after when a full news report could be made over the radio.

While I'm listening to Sherlock Holmes I am amazed at how simple and creative the sketches on the radio are. The sound effects and the script allow the listener's mind to wander and picture the scene in whatever way they want. The same way Larry King said in the documentary we watched on Wednesday, when someone describes a castle to you, you see a castle in your head which is much more powerful than just showing a castle on TV or in a movie. I remember listening to my parents and my grandparents talk about their favorite radio shows and thinking that I could never be so entertained by something I could only listen to and not actually see. After listening to the sketches on OTR I have come to realize how entertaining they are. The production is well done with the different characters and I am able to imagine Sherlock trying to crack the case of the stolen cadavers. Listening to this old time radio has opened my eyes to not only how far technology has come in a relatively short time, but how radio producers were able to make so much with so little by using their listeners imaginations as the main object for their storytelling.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My Flipbook

Here is my flipbook, please comment.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Blurring of the 4th Wall

With their advanced futuristic perceptions of technology and use of special effects, sci-fi movies have been working to eliminate the fourth wall for decades. The fourth wall is essentially the movie or TV screen that divides fiction from reality. The most recent advance in this futuristic technology is the use of 3D in feature length movies such as Avatar. Avatar's special effects and futuristic plot left audiences raving about the film. However, it is not long until even this technology becomes outdated.

Audiences are no longer satisfied by just going to a movie anymore, they want to be a part of what they are experiencing. Filmmakers have to work harder and harder to impress movie-goers who want to be wowed everytime. Audiences want to feel immersed in the danger and excitement occurring on the screen while still feeling safe behind the fourth wall that has been blurred by advances such as 3D and entirely hand-held films such as Cloverfield. Sci-fi movies have always been on the forefront of new movie-making techniques and incorporating technology to increase the audience's enjoyment. As the fourth wall continues to fall audiences will continue to build a tolerance against the most realistic and immerseful technologies movies can throw at them. Like the past the future will be a fight between the new technology and the audience expectation; with no winner in sight.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Evolution of Singin' in the Rain

In class on Wednesday we watched a scene from Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange where a character sings the classic song "Singin' in the Rain" while he beats up a couple in their home. We were then asked to blog about how movies had changed in the twenty years since the movie Singin' in the Rain came out.

It is clear that since motion pictures were invented they have been strongly influenced by culture as well as influencing culture themselves. In the 1950s when Singin' in the Rain was made it was based on 1950s post-war culture. It had a very upbeat storyline and involved a lot of humor. The film also drew a lot of influence from Broadway musicals which were very popular. Movies like Tommy and A Clockwork Orange that were made in the 1970s a good 20 years later, also drew a lot from the culture in that time period.

Tommy was a rock opera based on the music of The Who and contained strange elements of hippie culture that was dominant in the 1970s. While a movie like Singin' in the Rain used a very bright optimistic color palette and completely believable plot elements, Tommy bordered on the psychadellic with a lot of scenes meant to simulate a drug trip which reflected the experiences of the 1970s. A Clockwork Orange was a much more abstract approach to this time period. It showed direct influence from the dominant hippie culture by incorporating hallucinogens and other hard drugs into the plot itself, however, it did so in a more inventive and bizarre way.

By watching films from different decades the change in culture can be seen pretty clearly. This speaks to the influence of culture on films. There was such a drastic transformation in culture between the 50s and the 70s that looking at a film like Singin' in the Rain and then a film like Tommy shows an extreme contrast as if each was a time capsule for that particular decade.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Celebrity Sighting

Okay it wasn't a legit Hollywood celebrity sighting but we can pretend. Today after class I had just gotten some lunch in Stadium and was walking back to my room in Straz when I saw Santiago walking towards me with his iPod headphones in. (I really want to know what he was listening to (I hope that doesn't make me sound like a stalker...)) I have to say I honestly didn't expect him to acknowledge me because I wasn't sure he would recognize me outside of class. I have film professors, who I've had more than once, not recognize me outside of class. I figure I sit kind of in the back corner and don't say much during class so there's no way he'd know who I was. Well sure enough he stopped, removed his earbud, and inquired about my Opera paper. After a short less-than-2-minute discussion I revealed the details of my paper about Aida and we went on our way. It sounds like a pretty boring story in the grand scheme of things, because it is a boring story, but I always find it strange when I see my professors outside of class. I don't know why but it's something I'm not used to yet especially after 12 years in public school where the teachers most definitely live in the school.

Anyway I am writing about the Opera Aida for my paper due in a couple days. I have to say although Aida is a well composed Opera lyrically, musically, and performance-wise; I was immensely bored. I do believe if it had been a movie it would have been a pretty good film, however, because we live in such a fast-paced technologically advanced society, whenever I am made to watch something at a slower pace, such as the Opera, I am naturally bored. It is unfortunate that this generation has less appreciation for that kind of performance because I can understand the great amount of work put into the production however dull it may seem to someone like me.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Early Movies Among the Best in Our History

In class on Wednesday we learned about the early history of cinema. At the turn of the century films were made with poor quality film and no sound. The success of the film had entirely to do with the performance and where the camera was placed. In early comedy sketches and sound films these films still centered on performance and the writing. What actions the performers were making were more closely scrutinized because there were no distractions from a poor performance or a boring storyline. Later in films such as Citizen Kane, Gone With the Wind, and Touch of Evil the importance of storyline and performance is even more apparent. These are films with little to no special effects whatsoever and if not for brilliant script writing these films would have never made it to the silver screen.

Nowadays movies of good quality are few and far between. Movie goers are looking less for a good story and more to be wowed by state-of-the-art special effects. Not to say that visual effects are not entertaining in movies such as Avatar and Star Trek, but that filmmakers are relying less on their scripts and performances, which I believe are the foundation of filmmaking, and more on explosions and computer graphics added in after production. It is because of this shift that early movies are proving more and more to be the best that have ever been made.

Apple Tablet Response

The line between technologies continues to blur. The iPod and iPhone started it all of with the do-it-all devices that can multi-task as computers, phones, music players, and gaming devices. Apple has revolutionized the technological world since the early 2000s with its products and now in 2010 it has taken it a step further with the iPad. For whatever reason Apple has always been the first to the starting line when it comes to new technology. Despite the many criticisms of Apple and its products there is no denying that they are always on the cutting edge of new products and always set the bar a little bit higher each time they develop something new.

Whether the iPad succeeds or not I don't believe is the issue, I believe it has more to do with their ability to take risks and most of the time benefit from them. Apple is unarguably responsible for defining the 21st century music player, cell phone/smart phone, and laptop computer, the Apple Tablet is just another step in their continued trend-setting technology that all other companies can only mimic.