April 24, 2009

I came across this excellent new series of Scrabble ads on Boing Boing this morning.  Excellent attempt at turning Scrabble (which I love, although I’m terrible at it) into something much cooler and more exciting than it is.  Deliberating for 15 minutes over seven letters will, unfortunately, never be as awesome as these commercials make it out to be.  But they’re still great fun.

I do wonder, however, where these are running.  They seem a little too racy for US broadcast TV.  They must be for a European market.

Also check out the other two, Sumo and Yoga.


Tilt Shift Dollhouse

February 26, 2009

(CC Licensed photo from Suviko’s Flickr stream)

The introduction to Joss Whedon’s (of Buffy fame, duh) new show Dollhouse features interesting camera/editing work that makes all the characters look like, well, dolls.  The video shows several scenes from above and on an angle, showing cars rushing past, a busy intersection, the ‘actives’ training in the dollhouse, and finally a chase on a dirt path.  These are interspersed among other shots that are generally close-ups of Eliza Dushku, the show’s star.

The technique employed in these scenes is called tilt-shift photography (specifically tilt-shift miniature making, according to Wikipedia).  Wikipedia describes the technique as such: “By distorting the focus of the photo, the artist simulates the shallow depth of field normally encountered with macro lenses making the scene seem much smaller than it actually is.”

This technique has been somewhat of a meme on Boing Boing, which anyone who spends any time around me will already know as the source of everything I know.  Skilled photographers and digital editors can make scenes shot from the proper angles appear to be miniature – thus the Dollhouse reference, obviously using tilt-shift to imply that these living people are just dolls.  Oooh.

One cool tilt-shift photographer is this guy, who I of course found on an old Boing Boing post.  There is also this fun site, which turns your regular photos into tiltedly-shifted ones, and a cool monster truck rally video that also employs the same kind of pseudo-stop motion editing to make it appear even more miniaturized and fake.

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February 4, 2009

I just started watching Heroes (oh god, oh god, I need a job), and find it incredibly addictive.  Also kinda terrible, in the same way that Lost and Prison Break are terrible even though I watched two full seasons of each.

One interesting thing I’ve noticed, three episodes in, is the subtitling of the Japanese characters.  The subtitles reflect comic subtitling in their proximity to the characters.  These aren’t static, always resting on the bottom of the screen.  They generally sit on top of or above whoever is speaking.  What I wonder, with all the Canadian stereotypes about Americans in mind, is whether these aren’t also placed this way to make it easier for NBC’s gigantic audience to read them.  Now, these aren’t exactly American stereotypes, but rather North American, extremely-broad-audience stereotypes.  In which, of course, you’ll find people who don’t particularly like to read.  So not really stereotypes at all. Whatever.

When the subtitles sit further up on the screen, dynamically placed so as to be near the action, the viewer isn’t forced to look down and miss what’s going on.  They also very clearly demonstrate who is speaking by sitting on or near that character.  This defeats most of the standard complaints about subtitles*,  (which aren’t entirely lacking in validity.  I saw a subtitled version of Cache, or Hidden, that used entirely white font.  The film often had a fully white background, which resulted in unreadable subtitles.  I was also sitting right at the front of the theatre, and was forced to choose between watching the subtitles or craning my neck up to see the screen.), and broadens the possible audience of the show.

Just some thoughts.

*I’m really just thinking people who don’t like to read.