What does the font say?

What is a story? How do you tell it in a logical, compelling way? What are the different components of it? How can audio and video add (or subtract from it)? These were all questions that I started to ponder when I joined DS106. I felt like I had a pretty good decent understanding of storytelling. I had a great storytelling role model in my dad so some may even say that I was pretty good at telling my own yarns. However, this class really pushed me to re-evaluate my definition of storytelling, the structure in which to tell a story and the technical vehicles I could use (most of which were totally foreign to me).

My inspiration for my final project came during Week 3 and 4. My final project is the coming of age short animated film about Calvin Font, a 12 (pt) year old who’s trying to find his place in the Word…I mean world. ūüôā¬†¬†In following the story spine,¬†Calvin needs to write a paper for school about who he’s most like. He approaches his mom who decides to enlist the help of other family members to help Calvin find out. Calvin then starts on a journey across the world to learn more about his family. Throughout these encounters, Calvin learns a little more about his family…and ends up learning a lot more about himself. In drafting the story, I tried to incorporate¬†some of the clues for a great for a story. I also developed based on one of my favorite books growing up, “Are you my mother?” And…since I was working on the project on Mother’s Day, I had to keep off of the moms top of mind. The title of the project came on a twist from the YouTube smash hit, “What does the fox say?” I thought the creative title would spark interest as suggested in DS106’s Blog like¬†a Champ.

In crafting the story, I opted to use an animated movie as my canvas since I had started my DS106 journey analyzing an animated Pixar flick so I thought it was only fitting to return to my roots. Although I appreciate the importance of layering audio, I opted for music only to give it more of a Charley Chaplin-style B&W film. Plus, since the movie is about FONTS, I wanted the audience to pay attention to the subtle nuances between the font types rather than other outside audio. If not, the differences between the characters is hard to understand. The song selected was Kalimba by Mr. Scruff. The movie is about the adventures of Calvin Font so I thought it was fitting with a kind of upbeat but determined sound. Character inspiration came from an article on font types¬†and what they say about you. In placing Calvin’s character, I always made sure he was looking to the right towards his new future with a better sense of belonging. Given some of the tool limitations, I was not able to explore more with the different axis or camera angles.

The short was pulled together using a web tool called Moovly. It is free software that allows users to create animated movies and presentations.¬†Since I¬†had pushed myself to use new tools throughout the semester, I¬†decided to continue the trend. I went to the Moovly website, created an account and downloaded the software. When I had decided to make an animated video, I started with using Crazy Talk Animator but I found the software challenging to use (Note: I’m not technically savvy). Creating¬†content with Moovly was very easy. They had¬†an in-tool tutorial as well as some¬†online videos¬†that I watched before getting started.¬†All of the¬†images and animation options came from the Moovly library and were pre-loaded.¬†They did have an option for me to import pictures but I elected not to. To create the video, I simply dragged and dropped the images. I¬†could then resize, format¬†and animate in a format very similar to working within PowerPoint. I could adjust the timing of the objects and animation very similar to working with Audacity. As the video grew in content, more and more frames with the images/animations were added in. All in all, I would DEFINITELY recommend the Moovly tool. It was really fun to create! Although this may not become an epic clip like Van Damme‚Äôs¬†Volvo commercial, I hope you enjoy!



Satisfy the Senses

I selected the last scene from the Gangs of New York for my look, listen and analyze assignment. This is a movie that I remember watching when it first came out….although I couldn’t believe that it had been filmed 12 years ago! How time flies!¬†In watching the scene, I noticed different things when I isolated¬†my senses.

The movie is set in¬†1863, Amsterdam Vallon returns to the Five Points area of New York City seeking revenge against Bill the Butcher, his father’s killer. The section of the film that I analyzes was the closing sequence.

Visual: The scene opens with dead¬†bodies lining the street with candles glowing on their chests.¬†It¬†starts closer up and then gradually¬†pans backward and you see the glowing light as¬†far as¬†the eye can see. It is then you¬†understand the¬†magnitude¬†and death toll the gang¬†fights took.¬†Besides the dead gang members, somber solders are¬†predominately seen in the first¬†few screens and help to give the imagery of a grave situation. Without sound, you aren’t sure exactly what is going on. The clip then moves to see hands holding a trinket and then burying. The shot pans up to show¬†what one assumes to be a Potter’s Field cemetary¬†in Brooklyn.¬†The 1863 New York¬†City skyline is in the background with¬†large clouds of dark smoke¬†indicating¬†several large fires/bombs must have recently happened.¬†Vallon¬†limps over¬†to a female figure and the two turn and start walking towards the down left part of the screen.¬†Their images fade from the screen¬†and show new images of the¬†NYC skyline¬†free from smoke and with new buildings. The cemetary becomes in more and more disrepair.¬†Even without¬†sound, you can visually see that history¬†is¬†forgotten by the present.¬†¬†Overall, the film¬†has¬†a brown-tint to give it the look¬†and feel of an old movie.

Audio: When just listening to the audio, you realize that it is only Amsterdam Vallon speaking. His voice is slow, tired and with an Irish accent. He starts by recalling the gang fights. He then ties the recent trials and tribulations to something his father had¬†told him.¬†“My father told me we was all born of blood and tribulation, and so then too was our great city.”¬†Vallon, knowing that this is a pivotal point in the history of the city, then¬†takes on a¬†reflective tone in says, ”¬†But for those of us what lived and died in them furious days, it was like everything we knew was mightily swept away. And no matter what they did to build this city up again… for the rest of time… it would be like no one ever knew we was even here.”¬†He makes these comments¬†as haunting/powerful¬†music plays in the¬†background.

Tying it Together: When you tie the visual with the audio, it becomes a powerful¬†ending to an epic movie. As¬†Vallon¬†says the final spoken word of the film, “For the rest of time will be like no one would even know we were ever here…” his image fades from the screen to give way to progress and the new cityscape.

My biggest take away from the film is that a good scene combines great imagery with audio for a captivating moment of the film.