Month: June 2016

How to Take a Picture

en20A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Photography may be a more effective and reasonably inexpensive alternative to drawing or painting, but more thought and feeling goes into a painting than a photograph.

Photography is relatively simple in comparison to painting, which is a much more complex task. With photography, the composition is already completely arranged, but with a painting the objective is much more open to interpretation by the artist. The artist has the ability to capture much more emotion, understanding, and significance in an event and apply this fiery drive to his paintbrush when creating his own masterpiece.

When dealing with reality, I think a photograph may represent an actual physical recollection of a person or object, but a painting created from scratch adds the reality of perception to the equation. Reality is always open to a different observation and interpretation.

Artists during the Realism period concentrated on the real world as they saw it, and chose to construct their pieces of work with normal, everyday activities, therefore making it all the more real. One painter during this time period was Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. In his piece titled Ville d’Avray, he chooses to capture a woman in a forest-like setting. The text states Corot worked very quickly so that he could capture the “underlying rhythm of nature” to make his landscapes reveal the magic moment of truth. In my interpretation, his quick brushstrokes in light and dark values are meant to create movement; you can practically see the wind blowing through the rustling trees, gently swaying the woman’s long, flowing skirt. With his choice of colors, I can feel a slight chill from the breeze due to the haziness and dimly lit sky. If this were a photograph, the image would be less blurred, and I would see a woman, a couple of trees, and more defined colors. I wouldn’t feel anything from the photograph. I would just see objects. With this painting however, I interpret it to make me feel a certain way (serene and lethargic), and it provokes me to ponder as to why this woman is amongst the trees on such a blustery day. This painting allows me to reflect and speculate upon whether the artist had similar feelings while creating such a magnificent composition.

Another thought-provoking painting created during the Realism period is Gustave Courbet’s Burial at Ornans. Courbet was viewed as the leader of Realism in art, and he said “to paint a bit of country, one must know it.” This may be the foundation of realism, because the artists chose simple, everyday events (such as Courbet chose a burial in this particular painting), and made them into complex narratives. In Burial at Ornans, Courbet makes me feel mournful from the dark composition, as it unfortunately reminds me of a funeral I recently attended. When I read that Courbet demanded the subjects in his picture of numerous sittings, I can only imagine what they had to think about to achieve such sorrowful dispositions. It is especially heart-wrenching when the viewer painstakingly examines all of the detailed faces, especially that of the altar boys. One innocent child is looking up towards an elder man, probably questioning “Why?” This simple action may be symbolic of so many of us looking up towards Heaven and asking God “Why?” when we lose a loved one. This painting is a true example of realism, and it was probably primarily rejected because people of that time period wanted optimistic pieces of art; not work that made them pessimistically question real life events.

Warcraft Review

en19Duncan Jones tries to deliver the next epic fantasy that he and Universal Studios hope to turn into a franchise, but unfortunately Warcraft fails at being a good movie. First and foremost though, the movie is entertaining in some moments; although it struggles in many aspects. These problems far out shadow what the film actually does well and I couldn’t help but feel like they should have kept the film in the oven for a couple more years.

Warcraft is the equivalent of someone jumping into the most recent Game of Thrones episode without any prior knowledge of the story or characters. In other words, if you aren’t a fan of the of the lore already, the movie does nothing to make new audiences feel comfortable in the world it’s so desperately trying to build.

Before I get into all the bad stuff in Warcraft, let’s go over what actually works in the movie. SPOILERS AHEAD. The movie revolves around an orc shaman named Gul’dan looking to escape his dying world by utilizing dark magic to open a portal to the human realm of Azeroth. He also brings along many followers from different orc clans, including the conquering army called the Horde. Uniting to protect Azeroth from this new threat are King Llane, the mighty warrior Anduin Lothar and the powerful wizard Medivh.

The plot is pretty basic, but there is a subplot that revolves around Durotan, a member of the Horde that believes that following Gul’dan isn’t what his people should do. After all, the orc shaman is the one who made your world uninhabitable in the first place. So Durotan and close members of his clan set out to plead and help the human realm rid Azeroth of the new threat and stop Gul’dan from bringing the rest of the horde through a portal. Anything involving Toby Kebbell’s Durotan was very engaging and at time emotional. This character wants to do the right thing and protect his wife and newly born son, along with his clan. I like the arc as a whole and I even thought its conclusion was actually surprising.

I also enjoyed the main villain in the movie called Gul’dan. He was appropriately sinister and he looked freaking awesome. His intentions were sort of clear, though he is clearly just a bad soul looking to wreak havoc and have followers. Speaking of things looking cool, Warcraft boast some great visuals. Whenever the horde is one the screen fighting, it looks fantastic. Creatures and vistas look great too. The film certainly has the look of a huge budget film.

Last but not least is the action. It was surprisingly brutal for a PG-13 flick. You hear bones being crushed and blood bursting from wounds. They show a good amount of combat in the film, a stand out being an ambush taking place about halfway through the movie. I’m a sucker for swords and shields, Warcraft gladly gives the goods.

So with all the things I liked about the film, there bad things that branch from them. First off, the filmmakers did little to no set up with the world of Azeroth. They just drop you in and refer to things that you have no idea about. These include historic events, past relationships, characters, places, and things. I totally respect them going all in by creating a fully fleshed out world, which you get, they just do a horrendous job at getting you familiar with most of the world. Characters say lines that promote history between characters, but feel out of place because there’s no weight to anything being said. The movie also just flops you into a scene, I felt like I missed something. They should have definitely did a prologue type scene like another certain fantasy film did(wink,wink), it certainly could have gave us a brief history of Azeroth and add levity to the film.

Yes, the CGI is good for the most part and Warcraft boast some impressive visuals at times. BUT. A huge BUT. Some scenes feature all CGI orcs and environments, I was almost sure I was watching a trailer for the next expansion, not a feature length film. It made me roll my eyes and I actually said to a friend that the recently released Uncharted 4 looked better than some scenes in this movie. Yes, I went there.

The biggest problem with Warcraft has to be it’s characters. Aside from the orc cast, every human character felt severely miscast. Dominic Cooper’s performance felt like he had just been crowned king the day before the movie started and he was a bit shy about the prospect. Travis Fimmel felt like your run of the mill action hero and a want to be Aragorn (he did settle into the role though, but far too late). Paula Patton’s character looked absolutely stupid, whoever made that look should look for another job. Her character Garona is also in a lot of the movie and does much of nothing. She wasn’t likeable and did nothing the whole movie. She felt thrown in just to be a love interest. Ben Schnetzer played a young warlock who seems to be there just to move the plot along, he is horrible in the movie though. The actress who plays the queen just seemed grateful to be there. Finally and sadly, Ben Foster is done a disgrace by this script even making it into his hands.

Ben Foster is one of the best actors working today and he totally felt out of place. His character was the worse thing about the movie and practically didn’t even do anything important in the entire thing. If fact, anything having to do with the warlock characters was very cheesy and gave the film a straight to VOD vive. That and the all to cosplay looking costumes worn by most of the live action cast.

Mr. Vampire Asia Horror Movie You Must Watch

en18Before Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, True Blood and of course Twilight took to our big and small screens, audiences mostly thought of vampires as the horrifying image brought vividly to life by the late Sir Christopher Lee as Count Dracula with his bloodshot eyes and scary fangs, rather than the modern, romanticised version with teenage good looks and sculpted six-pack abs that would be a dream to date and make out with. And just as Sir Christopher Lee was memorable as the fanged fiend, so too was Sir Peter Cushing as his arch nemesis Van Helsing, the original slayer before there was Buffy.

The horrors of vampires are of course not limited to the West, i.e. Hollywood. Here in the East, we too have our version, but instead of sharp toothed demons, Eastern vampires known as “jiang shi” (translated as petrified corpses) are hopping Qing Dynasty garbed zombies with outstretched arms. Based on Chinese legends and folklore, these nocturnal creatures might look silly and laughable, but they are certainly not to be underestimated as they kill any living beings in order to absorb their life essence or “qi”. As for their nemesis, ask any Hong Kong film fan and you’re likely to get the same answer – the Taoist priest played by the late Lam Ching Ying, our very own “Van Helsing of the East”.

Starting from the very first Mr. Vampire film in 1985, Lam Ching Ying memorably made the role of Gau Suk the vampire slaying Taoist priest his own and even received his very first nomination as Best Supporting Actor at the 5 th Hong Kong Film Awards that year for the role. Thereafter, he continued reprising the iconic role not only in the many sequels but also numerous spin-offs both on film as well as on TV that followed the film, so much so that it solidified and some would say typecast him as the Taoist priest of all Taoist priests in the cinematic world. So memorable was his legacy that the 2013 film Rigor Mortis that successfully revived the “jiang shi” film genre was proclaimed a tribute to Mr. Vampire film franchise and him.

Pop-On and Roll-Up Captioning Defined

en17Pop-on and roll-up are the two styles of presentation commonly used in television captioning. Paint-on captions are sometimes used for special effects but are much less common. The CCP endorses the use of the pop-on style for all television captioning. WebVTT supports pop-on as well as paint-on captions.

Pop-on captions, as their name suggests, appear in boxes one or two line long at the bottom of the screen, though they may be placed on the screen in such a way to indicate the current speaker, and then pop off again to be replaced by the next caption box. In the case of audio content that cannot be confined to a single pop-on box, one pop-on box is replaced by another at logical breaks in the text (ends of phrases or sentences). Pop-on captions include edited audio information to aid viewer comprehension of the program. This may include dialog, narration, sound effects, indications of offscreen activity, etc. Pop-on captions are synchronized with the audio content of the program and thus are used typically for prerecorded programs that include multiple speakers.

Roll-up captions are used predominantly in conjunction with live television broadcasts, such as news reports and live sporting events. Up to four lines of captioned text appear in a box at the bottom of the screen. While the box remains stable on the screen, captions appear word by word and scroll to the top of the box, where the top line will disappear and be replaced by the next line. Essentially new lines as they are created will appear at the bottom of the box and push the older text upward.

Due to the fact that roll-up captions are created to reflect audio content generated in real time, there is always some lack of synchronization of the text to the words being spoken onscreen. This can be disconcerting to some viewers, not unlike the effect of watching a program and discovering the audio is on a several-second delay. Viewers who use lip-reading in addition reading captions may also find this problematic.