December 12, 2007

C.M.J.'s Final Project - (R)Evolving: Time And The Growing Male

For my final project, I wanted to do something that was rather broad in its scope, and I came up with an idea that would examine different age groups, or "target demographics," over the past decade. I wanted to film different scenes to demonstrate satirical looks at the situations and events that can be looked at as "rites of passage" and "defining moments" in the lives of many kids as they grow up. I decided that I wanted to present the movie as a sort of documentary, talking of pop culture going on in the world to give a real-life point of reference for these kids' lives, one that was in line with my age group growing up during these grades. I wanted to do a wide variety of things to delve into this subject matter and to vary up the video. Once I had written out all of my ideas, I filmed and created all of the scenes, made some original musical pieces for the beginning and end of the movie, and came up with narration to tie the whole movie together. The title is a play off of the idea of American males not necessarily E-volving and growing, but RE-volving and falling into a pattern, going through a continuous cycle of behavior and expected activity, falling into trends and conformity throughout the ages without breaking the mold. The video is really an examination of how people many times do not break the mold or become individuals in any meaningful sense, and the film questions if there can be more of a push towards growing up and causing a change for the future, for all people. This serious idea is of course mixed with a lot of over-the-top humor and weird and various references, things I tend to like to do. My original intent was not for the movie to be as long as it turned out, but in the end I think the structure and framework of the movie is pretty much in line with what I envisioned for it, so I feel it works and is justified. While difficult at times, I really enjoyed creating this movie, and hope that people like it and get something out of it.

December 11, 2007

C.M.J.'s Visiting Artist Response #2 - Sue Coe

The second visiting artist I am responding to is Sue Coe, who gave a presentation on January 25, 2007 at the Regis Center For Art at the University of Minnesota. Coe is one of the leading political artists in the world today, though her work covers many topics, and she has done drawings for many famous organizations, including one for the producers of The X-Files. Sue told many stories of her experiences with many of the people she has met, and she showed lots of different works that spanned different topics, including many blasting the Bush administration, with George W. Bush made to look as evil and incompetent as possible for the atrocities that many link him to (one picture depicted Bush defecating on people from his bare anus). Most of her work is very dark in its content, and she spent a lengthy period of time showing drawings she had done of women from prison who were infected with HIV, and how their lives were affected. She really brought to life the pain and torment of these people's lives. The other lengthy work she presented was of cruelty towards animals, including unethical treatment towards animals in slaughter houses, and the inhumane treatment towards sheep. Many of the pictures with animals were very graphic, which went along well with the theme of showing their torture and pain. Sue Coe's work was very good, and the way she draws things has a unique cartoonish seriousness about it, which makes it very captivating. She is obviously very passionate about her political beliefs, and she channels that well into her work. Her strong convictions and sheer talent make for some great art that speaks for itself. I enjoyed her lecture very much.

C.M.J.'s Visiting Artist Response #1 - Michael Krueger

The first visiting artist I am responding to is Michael Krueger, who came and gave a presentation on November 1, 2007, at the Regis Center For Art at the University of Minnesota. Krueger's work was very interesting. He talked about getting inspiration for his work from many strange images, amongst them children's cups and accessories. He does many interesting drawings and digital pieces of art, that have many recurring themes, such as blurring the natural world. He deals a lot with making people think about things in different ways by twisting preexisting images around or juxtaposing them with other images to make people reexamine them and their ideas. Some examples are his drawing of Thomas Jefferson (who was a big shopper back in his day) pushing a modern day shopping cart, bringing about ideas one wouldn't normally associate with either image by itself. Another example is superimposing an image of a soldier in war over an image of Alice Cooper that Krueger drew when he was in high school, to show what he might have doodled back in high school if he were to think about Alice Cooper as the big patriot which Cooper apparently is in real life. Krueger is also interested in presenting images that have nonspecific moods and ideas that people can interpret themselves. I really liked Krueger's work because it dealt with bringing together many things that people don't normally think could go together, and then making something special out of them, which is something I really admire and think is terrific. Overall, I felt his lecture was good, and he clearly has a personal connection with his work that really shows through. His use of computer technology in some of his work, too, I thought was really neat to see.

December 10, 2007

C.M.J.'s Artist Presentation - Kraftwerk

Kraftwerk is a pioneering electronic music band from Germany, debuting in 1970, who is known for leading innovation in technology and music production that has affected numerous artists and influenced countless genres either directly or indirectly. The band's live show is a big part of their activity in the music scene, finding many ways to bring their songs to life in new and improvisational ways, which has furthered their creativity in making future music. Their songs are usually either instrumental or contain simplistic lyrics that deal with celebrating technology or everyday life in Europe. They were revolutionary and greatly ahead of their time, and their sound changed the music industry forever.

November 26, 2007

C.M.J.'s Final Project Proposal

For my final project, I am thinking of doing something that examines people as they grow up, and stereotypical trends that they can fall into, all treated sardonically and satirically. I will employ narration to help explain the different scenarios and what is going on, pictures of pop culture being discussed, and acted out scenes to depict the youth and their experiences. There will be an overarching theme to the whole thing, poking fun at convention and the perils of adhering to a life based around rites of passage and the status quo of conformed society. It will documentary-style in nature, or rather, mockumentary, while still making observations about life that can ring all too true.

November 21, 2007

7 Ate 9: A Musical Number

When I first started coming up with my ideas for a stop motion movie, I wanted to do something that was creative, unique, weird, and funny, and after a long time of brainstorming, I came up with a strange idea based on the old children's joke, "Why is 6 afraid of 7? Because 7 ate 9." I then came up with the story of a land of magic numbers where the number 7 hunts down the number 9, and eats him. The number 6 becomes afraid, and he calls me to come kill the number 7. I decided I would tell the story in the form of a musical-esque song that I would write and record. I first wanted to use cardboard cutouts for the numbers, but then decided it would be easier with using a white board and markers. I recorded the song, filmed the animation, and then filmed my part in the movie. I moved in slow increments and inserted the shots into the movie in order to create stop motion for my parts, as well. I then filmed me singing the song in the same way. I put the telling of the joke at the beginning of the movie, so that people would understand the concept, and then ended it with credits and the bizarre song "Revolution 9" by The Beatles, which I thought was a fitting and weird ending to the already strange movie. In the end, I like the way the movie came together, and I feel it is something that is pretty different. It was a fun and enjoyable process, overall.

November 5, 2007

C.M.J.'s Stop Motion Project Proposal

Okay, so my idea is a little weird, and I came up with it after laying in my bed brainstorming for a while about ideas that could be funny, visually interesting, and a little weird and clever all at the same time. What I have come up with is making a pseudo-musical piece, of an original mostly acapella song that I will use to narrate the short movie. The premise will be based off of the following joke:

"Why is 6 afraid of 7?"
"I don't know, why?"
"Because 7 ate 9."

The musical/video will tell the tale of the number 7 hunting down and eating the number 9, striking fear in the number 6, who will in turn call me (playing a hitman of some some kind), who will gun down the number 7 to avenge number 9 and seek justice for number 7's crime. I will also play the narrator/singer of the acapella song.

The action on the screen will follow the story of the song, and there will also be cuts to me, the narrator/singer, throughout. This will all, of course, be done in stop motion. I have already thought of some ways to film the singing parts, such as filming different expressions on different beats of the song's measures, that will show me in frozen moments of singing, and also have ideas for the chasing around scenes of the various numbers, as well as my involvement in the course of the story. I will probably create the numbers out of paper and cardboard, and will be utilizing photoshop to remove my hand from stills when it will be present. I still have to storyboard things out and write all the details of the song, but the basic ideas are in my head. But, yes, this is my proposal.

October 24, 2007

How To Make Bad Popular Rock Music

For my instructional video project, I wanted to do something fun that I could implement humor into. My friends and I always talk about "bad popular rock music" and what goes into it, and also make up funny songs some times, so I figured the video I was doing for class could use those ideas and just push them further. The first thing I did was make a "bad popular rock"-like song with my friend, starting from scratch. We came up with ideas first, and then he played and put together all of the parts, before recording them onto his computer. Then I wrote lyrics, and recorded those. Then we came up with ideas for a humorous video that would accompany the song. After all of this, I put together the "process" of how you would come to make a song such as this, and filmed excerpts of some of those steps. Once I had this, I filmed myself giving specific instructions and explanations for making "bad popular rock music" and inserted some pictures and what have you into that footage. Finally, once I edited this all together, and had an explanation at the front of the video of how a lot of mainstream rock music sort of got to the point where it is now that I was making fun of, the whole thing pretty much came together pretty nicely. Overall, it was an enjoyable experience, and I am very happy with what I have completed in the form of my final product.

October 8, 2007

Project #2 Proposal

For my project, I am thinking of showing how to go about making a "generic rock pop song." By “generic pop rock song,? this is a blanketed term for the kind of music some bands in the current music scene are creating. One band of this particular style, Hinder, makes music that one critic said is “so egregiously dull, [it] appeal[s] not to fans of music, but fans of high fives.?

I plan to utilize my friends (and most likely a guitar), a computer and recording equipment, and possibly some other recordings of "generic rock pop songs" to illustrate examples to the audience. The video will be humorous in tone, so the intended audience could be anyone who finds humor in satirizing much of the popular rock music of today, or, ironically, people who can’t pick up on the subtle nuances of satire, and who actually want a good idea of how to make music that is, as one critic said, “the kind of stuff that's happily ignorant of common courtesy or trying much of anything new musically.?

Certain ideas as far as technique go, would be doing a lot of cuts to title cards and possibly pictures with the Final Cut Pro program, during the instructional process, to help illustrate the points of instruction. I would probably use both tripod steady shots, as well as freehand filming with someone holding the camera, whichever one fits the scene better. I haven’t decided what I want to do with lighting yet, but it will probably remain fairly simple, as I don’t necessarily think the piece will call for that many dynamic lighting elements.

This idea interests me because it is something my friends and I have worked on doing before (making competently done, yet intentionally ironically lame songs, through to completion), and I think it could work out well. I would break down the steps from writing the lyrics, coming upon a vocal styling, and finding a riff, to actually performing the piece for an audience. These things would probably take place mostly inside of a recording room (a bedroom with equipment, basically), and the performance may utilize some kind of stage. Beyond that, I have to kind of see how it shapes up, but those are the basic points. In a nutshell, the video I think could be described as an introspective and informative look at the creative process of writing competently unoriginal and mundane music to aim at the pop charts.

October 1, 2007

From The Car To The Mall And Back Again

For my sound mapping project, I chose to record a trip from my car in the parking lot of the Southdale mall, into and around the inside of the mall itself, and back out to my car again. I chose this particular location because I thought it would be interesting to chronicle the different kinds of sparse ambiance of the outside with the bustling varied sounds of the mall, and show the round trip from the car to the mall and back again. Nothing too unexpected was came across. I organized the sounds by cutting out a lot of the more boring empty spaces, and filling up the five minute piece by connecting the more dynamic sounds together. I also used some panning effects, and drenched the mall atmosphere with heavy reverb, to add to the immenseness of the sound, contrasted with the open air of the outside area. Overall, I thought the process of putting the project together went pretty well. It was hard at times to figure out exactly what I wanted to do with the sounds, but after I got into it it got easier. Overall, it was pretty fun and I think it turned out pretty well.

September 12, 2007

Poisoning A Man