Reading Movies – Techniques and Strategies

Roger Ebert, a well-known film critic, wrote about his experiences studying, dissecting, and reviewing films. He explains that conducting these actions are much more than an exercise he goes through, its the fact that he essentially “reads” the movie by using a technique called “Cinema Interruptus” –  stopping the film when something stands out or exhibits some sort of suspicion. A film can be stopped to observe the composition of a shot within it with regards to the “Rule of Thirds” a concept we learned during our week studying images. I was interested in this concept when taking photos and I am happy to see it also applies in video. Ebert explains in his article that the rule of thirds revolves around positive and negative composition, where the person in position “right of center” is more dominant than the person on the left. Ebert goes on to say “movement to the right seems more favorable” and therefore objects on the right-side of the screen seem to hold more substance in the context of the film. Just as I agreed with this concept in images I still agree with it in use for movies and Ebert sums of the reasoning when he says, “the future seems to live on the right, the past on the left.”

The two videos are watched were:


First, the video on editing techniques. Although there was no narration in this video, I still thought it was very useful, especially for someone like me who has no video editing experience whatsoever. It goes through some of the scene transition editing techniques such as a “wipe transition” or a “jump cut.” It also goes through some examples on editing the frame such as “freeze frames” and “still/thaw frames.” All of these techniques I had never heard before but have seen happen in movies, commercials, TV shows, etc. The second video I watched was a star wars bloopers video which pointed out some of the subtle differences or “mistakes” the director and his crew made. These are things that when watching the movie you may never catch since they are so minor, but as Roger Ebert suggested, when using “cinema interruptus” these are things that can be caught when “reading a movie.”


Weekly Summary – Week 5

Very hectic week, a lot to learn and keep up with. However, the assignments were interesting and I feel like the tools we learned and practiced with will be useful in the future. This week started out with creating a SoundCloud account then recording your first audio file. I created a short news story about raining hamburgers! I found SoundCloud to be straight forward and thought the recording tool was very easy and convenient to use. I then worked on the Sound Effects Story assignment which required the use of an audio editing tool, I used the tool Audacity. Very neat tool, easy to grasp, and definitely powerful. My sound effects story revolved around “relieving stress” and I used a composition of 8 different sounds. The next assignment, which I found to be the most difficult yet intriguing, was adding foley sounds to a segment in a charlie chaplin film. It was difficult because it’s tricky to “stay in sync” with the video you are making the sounds for. It’s important to anticipate what is about to happen. I created sound for a 30 second clip from marker 1:31 to 2:00. One of my favorites assignment this week was the radio commercial! I needed to advertise something that a TV show or movie character could have used. I chose mobile phones for the characters in Seinfeld.  I wrapped up this week with another item to “Storify,” by choosing my 20 year old Acura Integra. My devotion to keep it running over the years, the money spent on it, and all the places it has taken me certainly has a story behind it all.

I look forward to the feedback on my blog. Because we are in an asynchronous class feedback isn’t immediate and its sometimes difficult to bounce ideas off one another. That’s why its important to give and receive feedback not only so that we are given ways to improve our content but also it helps with thinking dynamically for future assignments. Seeing, listening, and reading other classmates’ blogs has helped me see the approach others took to the same assignments I work on.



Storifying – Take 5!

For this week I have chosen my 1994 Acura Integra. A car, really? At first I didn’t think it would apply, but taking a deeper look, I realized it’s filled with stories and elements that could carve its own story. What made me think of it was the fact that it is now 20 years old and I’ve owned it for 10. It has been through a lot and essentially transformed from its original “stock” appearance. From all the body and mechanical work, car meets, trips, and from acquiring it during high school and still owning it now as a working professional. Although my mindset has changed and I no longer spend money on the car other than keeping it running, it still holds that sentimental value. Now that I think about it, it’s nice outside today, I should be outside washing it! 😉


Radio Commercial – Seinfeld needed Mobile Phones!!!

This audio assignment is called “DS106 Radio Commercial” and the purpose is to create an audio file that emulates a commercial you may hear on the radio. However, the catch is that you need to advertise something that could be useful for characters in a TV show or movie. The first show I thought of was Seinfeld!! The premise for many of their episodes revolve around the 4 main characters communicating with each other and losing each other around the streets of New York. Imagine how different the show would  have been if mobile technology was as prevalent then as it is now.

I first looked up some situations in the show where the characters could have used a mobile phone, this site was very helpful. I then collected different audio clips and imported them into the tool, Audacity, where I layered the sound. The commercial is comprised of three sounds: A mobile phone ringing (downloaded here), my voice (using SoundCloud), and background music (Kaskake – LAX to JFK) that I had on my computer.

I thought it all came together nicely, I tried lowering my voice to make it more suspenseful and raised the volume of the music when fading out at the end.


Chaplin Foley – ROARing Lion!

Foley sound, which is defined by Wikipedia as the reproduction of everyday sound effects, was the basis for this assignment – creating sound effects completely on our own to mirror a section of a Charlie Chaplin film. The section of the film that I was responsible for was from marker 1:31 to 2:00 and my resulting foley sound effects are above. This was a very tricky task, timing was everything, and knowing what is going to happen in the film before it happens, was vital. Although it was challenging (I may have recorded over 20 takes) it was funny to hear some of the sounds we can make, but most notably, it was interesting to see how an everyday sound (such as tapping on a desk) could resemble something so much different – such as a man running. The sounds I added to the video were: Dialogue via my voice, growling via my voice, water splashing using a water bottle, and footsteps by tapping my desk.

Sound Effects Story – Stress Relief!

The sounds effects story assignment requires the user to find a collection of sound effects online and any self-recorded audio to create a story using only effects and no dialogue. For my sound effects story I chose to convey a stressful mood of someone then change that mood into relief, or happiness. From a story spine perspective the story itself could go something like this:

Once upon a time there was a man stressed out from work and traffic, he felt like nails on a chalkboard would be better to listen to all day. Every day, he listened to heavy metal to try and relieve the stress but it never helped. Until one day when he decided to finally go on vacation. Because of this, he was able to clear his mind.

When creating my sound effects story I wanted to capture things that are irritable, annoying and are indicative of things people may do when stressed (like listen to loud music) then phase into a more pleasant and relaxed setting. The effects I used were downloaded from and they included fingernails on siding, heavy metal music, traffic, a man yawning, birds chirping, a front door opening, and an ocean splashing. I self-recorded the sound of the bottle filling up with water.

My sound effects story:


I used the tool Audacity to create/edit the audio, see my reaction and project in my screencast o matic video..

Raining Hamburgers!?

After setting up a SoundCloud account, browsing the site, then getting acquainted with some of the features and capabilities the site has to offer, I went ahead and recorded my first SoundCloud audio file! I kept with the theme our professor recommended: A silly news story. For some reason the first thing that popped into my head was “raining hamburgers” which was inspired by the movie “Cloudy with a chance of meatballs.” Recording audio using SoundCloud’s recording application was extremely easy and straightforward. I had to re-do my recording several times before I heard one I liked, so thankfully it was easy to simply start over. I haven’t really recorded myself much before, so this was an enjoyable experience. You will notice I also added in some entrance and exit music in order to have smoother transitions – Not sure if it worked well? The music was coming from my computer speakers so it wasn’t “layered.” See my recording below..