Thursday, January 26, 2012

In Review: The Artist

artist poster 

Oh my God.  Never have I experienced such a true piece of cinema.  “The Artist” written and directed by Michel Hazanavicius, is something to marvel at.  The movie may have been a bit longer than movies today, but the length was not an issue.  Jean Dujardin plays George Valentin, a silent film star who finds himself seemingly forgotten when talkies arrive.  Peppy Miller, played by Bérénice Bejo, a woman he meets by chance and sparks with instantly, saves him (as did George’s dog) from ultimate doom.  The three characters that stood out to me where George Valentin, Peppy Miller, and the dog!  George is proud, charismatic, distressed, in love and passionate.  Peppy is enthusiastic, beautiful, loving, famous and sweet.  The dog is loyal, trained, caring, heroic and intelligent.  This film took place in the late 1920s and early 1930s America.  This film is a romance, comedy and drama.  I was wholly entertained.  I laughed, I teared up, I was moved.  The theme I got from the film was, “Don’t be so proud that you miss out on something amazing.”

Like “Hugo”, the production of this film was nearly flawless.  There were no errors that diverted my attention away from the story.  The sets matched the period perfectly, the lighting was great as well.  The costumes were superb!  The style of the 1930s was reflected in this film.  I’m sure there were wigs used, however, everyone’s hair looked real!  Make-up was done nicely, too.

The sound!  Couldn’t hear ANY of the dialogue for the first 96 minutes of the film.  Wonder why.  All kidding aside, the sound was crisp, clear and had proper volume.  The choreography takes me back to when I’d watch black and white films, some silent, as a kid.  It was so happy, it made me want to join in with them and experience the joy they shared on screen.  The musical score was delightful, as the it set the tempo and matched the emotions going on in the film.  They also knew when silence was just as powerful and as purposeful.

I loved the props!  They got all the appropriate props for everything!  Especially the props for the studio sets.  And the cars too, they were wonderful.

The acting blew me away.  I was astonished at the level of understanding I had of what was going on, who was feeling or saying what.  The body language was spot on too.  In the scene where Peppy goes to George’s dressing room to leave him a message on the mirror, when they have a moment and it looks like they’re going to kiss, Clifton comes in.  Bérénice places her hand on her neck at that moment and it perfectly translates what she’s feeling!  The actors did a remarkable job of creating unbelievable chemistry on screen and the director/writer made a timeless piece and used this medium fantastically.

I hope to see more silent films in the next year as I think we can expect to see a comeback of them.  Maybe not, but I think it would challenge many. 

*A small tidbit, the movie was shot in the 1.33:1 "Academy ratio," just as in silent-film days, since director/writer Hazanvicius, Michel considered it 'perfect for actors' because it gives them 'a presence, a power, a strength. They occupy all the space of the screen.'

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Info you can use: Video Camera White Balance


This article is about one thing and one thing only: white balancing!   On a video camera that is.  The article first explained what the term “white balance” means.   It said that it basically means “color balance”.

Now, the article went on to explain the three main terms that describe white balance features. One is completely automatic, the other is adjustable through the camera itself while others require fully manual filter changes and lens additions.  The article recommends white balancing before every shoot, every time you go indoors, outdoors, if you change the lighting set up, etc.   The article notes that even though your eye may not notice the changes, the camera will, so beware.

The article gave some insight as to how much white should be in the frame for the camera to white balance.   80% is what Sony suggests.   I also learned that it takes a few seconds, typically, before the camera adjusts.

Now, the article does go on to say that advanced camera operators will purposefully change the white balance to be bluer or more orange for a certain effect.   To make it warmer or cooler basically.

Why I chose it:  

I chose this article because it reinforces what I have learnt about White Balancing. This article gives some visual references about the situations when lighting is too blue or orange because of the white balance.   This article gave some crucial advice that I felt might be useful to know.
I came across this article and thought, “This is perfect!”  since I've been learning why white balance is used and how it can help the camera to see the colors correctly.