Blog

Update:「Outlook」

Hello! This is Sterling with a final update. This update in particular encompasses the past three weeks, so it might be slightly long-winded. Proceed with caution.

As per usual, I’ll do my best to limit my therapeutic ranting on how things felt. While it may help me, a seemingly-negative headspace might hurt others (though I like to consider myself an optimist). Besides. This is meant to talk about more than my feelings.

So, as someone going through this time in modern history, I feel like it’s vital to blurt on my thoughts. Perhaps my grandchildren will be fascinated by it. These past three weeks have been somewhat ridiculous. I’m not sure how I did it, but I managed to fall behind in three courses. I thought I had done way with over-procrastinating in high school, but apparently not. Maybe being at home that has reawakened such habits. I have admittedly procrastinated with this course, though I had still managed to get things done while working on several theatre shows at once. And now that all of it’s ripped away, I’m moving slower than ever. I didn’t know how much I appreciated academic pressure until it was gone.

Thankfully, my professors are kind and understanding and as of right now, my grades are looking surprisingly good. However, if I’m being honest, I would like to be done with all of my courses except for this one. I work at the pace of a snail in the day and then ramp it up in the night, which is familiar but exhausting. In DS106, I have let myself stack on the work and get overwhelmed, though I still enjoyed it every time. Now that I have time in the summer, it would be neat to still pursue creative avenues of expressing myself. Stepping out of my comfort zone is important: that includes socializing and interacting with others as social media booms more now than ever. I’ve liked to consider myself a jack of all trades when it comes to the content we’ve created, but certainly a master of none.

This summer, though, I’ve been intrigued by two concepts: writing and image editing. Writing is one of my passions, and as I write on roleplay-based forums I easily have that covered. Maybe some NaNoWriMo training is in order as well. For image editing, I’ve recently returned to Instagram after a long hiatus and saw this photography account that edited people to look more vibrant. They looked unnatural, yet genuine in whatever they were selected to portray in their portraits. Most of that oddness came from the power of editing.

I’ll admit that I can be a little ‘vain’ – if you’d even count what I’m about to describe as a vein of vanity. When we were at school, my roommate can attest that I on occasion spend minutes in front of the mirror. I look in the reflection, and I see everything wrong. My shoulders are too thin. My cheeks have gotten fatter. My torso isn’t quite long enough. Yet, I find myself looking back up at my eyes and the strong-ish brow and jaw I find confidence in and I stay there for a second longer. Why not emphasize my eyes with the glow of two moons? Illuminate my hair with fire? To edit my environment rather than my body seems like a healthy way of self-empowerment to me.

Especially since I’m stuck at home with people reminding me of my traits constantly, causing me to forget a lot of the ‘progress’ I made at school. Sometimes it feels like I am, or was someone else entirely. These creative outlets are where I can focus on expressing myself, for I now know a story can make up anything. I wouldn’t be opposed to doing Daily Creates on occasions of boredom throughout the summer. Now that my internship in France is cancelled and I’m jobless (for the summer), I’ll either be at home or doing volunteer work. Updating my website isn’t something I’d be opposed to, as well.

Regardless, I’m going to do my best and move forward without regrets. I’ll cherish what I have learned, and the moments I had like meeting my radio show group members. Stay creative!

Sincerely,
Sterling

Play The Game

Here is the assignment “Remixed Game Covers” by Jim Groom: with a DS106 twist!

This assignment was surprisingly a bit more challenging than I had anticipated. The description says to “Take a video game cover and remix it to change up the meaning or play with the general idea of the game. You can see more examples in this post which is in many ways the inspiration for this assignment.”

Of course, I clicked the ‘remix’ button, and this is what I got:

How convenient, right? However, when I got to searching, the game covers were ones I’d never seen. Several had fonts that I knew would be extremely difficult to imitate. I really wanted to do the cover to a Choose Your Own Adventure novel because they feature things about stories on it, but the one I saw that fit the best was a bit too small and seemed to depict Native Americans in a less-tasteful manner. Therefore, I decided to go with the original Dungeons & Dragons handbook cover.

First, I found a website that allows one to export fonts as images: Fontmeme. I’ve used this one before, and it really helps to get a stylized font. Unfortunately, the ones they had for the subtitles wasn’t quite exact, but it was good enough. In Pixlr (where I edited the image), I used the dropper tool to pick the color for my font and then color out the rest of the words with the cover’s red.

As you can see, I inputted a different HEX code than the standard white. Then, I clicked ‘Generate,’ opened the image in a new tab, and then downloaded it. I resized my text using the ‘Free Transform’ tool. Honestly, the most difficult part of this assignment was trying to come up with a good alliteration for the title. “Digital & Storytelling” didn’t quite work, and “DS106 & Dragons” didn’t work either since the font does not have numbers. I tried to put in a space, but then it looked oddly sized. When I put them together, it looks long and clunky. I think I spent over an hour on those two things alone and I had to let it be.

This is certainly something I’d like to toy with later and perhaps complete with an iPhone in the dragon’s hand, a light saber in the warrior’s, etc. Ultimately, I really enjoyed getting to toy with the fonts. It was an interesting challenge to make it into an advertisement of sorts for DS106, which I’m not quite sure I fulfilled aesthetically but there is certainly an idea there. Simplistic and a tad mis-matched, but overall just for fun. I’d like to try this again with a newer game title (Animal Crossing?). Might have to do another remix…

What do you think? Am I my worst critic?

The Human Condition

Hello! This is Sterling with a post for the remix week. This time, I decided to combine 80s music with two abstract theatre concepts: biomechanics and constructivism. Biomechanics was developed by Vsevolod Meyerhold on the 1920s-30s and focused on “forge[ing] the connection between mind and body, to ‘teach the body to think'”. One went through structured physical training to develop this relationship. Constructivism is an art form that revolves around degrading objects to their basic forms, implementing them as modern tools for a modern society. You will see more specific examples in the video below. By employing these themes, I decided to take a more ‘dystopian’ approach and and parallel the negative side of humanity in a way unseen and unheard of.

Like how none of these are supposed to mimic reality, the audio is not perfect either. It is intentionally chaotic, the lack of a matching tempo or key hindering a smooth mashup. The three songs I used are People Are People (1984) by Depeche Mode, Shout (1985) by Tears for Fears, and The War Song (1984) by Culture Club. Even though they are quite different, their lyrics gave me similar thoughts. Why do people do what they do? Why can’t people get along? Why do people fight? By returning to our roots – a more primitive perspective – I think one can divine those answers, as shown by the footage I included.

That is why I chose the title “The Human Condition.” These are all human qualities, people are people, they shout, and they go to war.

All of the footage came from the video below about the Russian Avant-Garde theatre, which featured biomechanics and constructivism. My Theatre History professor actually showed it to us, and ever since then I have been intrigued. I’ve never seen this type of theatre in person before (and for good reason too, it’s rather alarming). When matching it up with the music, I was surprised to find how well the actors’ movements matched up with the irregular beats of the three songs.

Mixing the songs together (on Audacity) remained the hardest part. As mentioned earlier, they didn’t match up in tempo or key. There are some work-arounds that I tried, though I found that I preferred the disjointedness after some time. About 4/5 through the video, I think the music’s cacophony is so chaotic that it actually flows together very well. One effect that I ended up using a lot was Reverb. That, in conjunction with Echo, allowed the melody of a song to play at the same time as another without it being too distracting. The echo-reverb combination dissipated the tempo slightly and made the off-beat a little less noticeable.

An example of my reverb settings.

This assignment did not seem to fall under any certain assignment in the bank, so this was all on my own. Overall, I like the idea of creating some kind of critical analysis by combining an educational material with themed music. Even though it has words in the form of lyrics, it’s fun to try and communicate such feelings without explicit wording. Like many other educational works, it is all up to interpretation. I hope you see it similar to how I do.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Hey, this is Sterling! Maybe this is clickbait since I’m not in a relationship with anyone. However, I thought I’d update my progress on my ‘seconds of the day’ project. In the linked post, I’ve detailed the app I use – 1SE – and how to use it. Basically, you record a second every day and put it together after some time. Most of my seconds now revolve around my home life, and that is where I find love: with my family.

As you can see, the video contains a lot of footage of my cats. Often, they are the highlight of my day (though they can be a nuisance). Otherwise, there is a lot of my cousins, parents, and uncle. You can see things from quarantine haircuts to Zoom calls with friends. It is interesting to reflect on this footage and see how small my physical social circle has become. As you can see, I chat with my friends through video call. The first few times were just calling, but now we play online games and are trying to organize a watch party (using the browser extension Netflix Party). Once school is over, I will have to be creative and find ways to entertain myself.

Apart from reflection, I find value in these assignments (“A Day in the Life…” and “Favorite Moments in College”) because of their universal application. My ‘day’ can happen at school or at home. In some ways, I’m encapsulating an entire day at home – just spread throughout several clips. Even though it might not be my favorite moments in college anymore, isolating that section of present moments has been somewhat therapeutic. Looking towards the present and the future are valuable skills to have during this time. I’m grateful to see what a loving family I have. Even though I’ve had personal hardships being at home, these highlights are what help: it’s what we reflect on the media. They are, indeed, my ‘favorite moments’.

I’ve been able to make 1SE a part of my daily routine, and would certainly consider transferring to a different editor. I was also tempted to overlay it with music here, but the sounds and the joy in each clip all mean something to me. Even those without context should be able to find some if it entertaining as well.

Since this entry was rather short, please enjoy a couple of videos I have been featured in recently:

Anybody Have A Map? from Dear Evan Hansen – UMW Theatre Edition

The past several weeks have definitely been a challenge. Each and everyone of us has been trying to navigate this new normal, and all we can do is take it day by day. And some days, we could really use a map.Thank you so much to the support of University of Mary Washington and University of Mary Washington College of Arts and Sciences, Pasek and Paul, the creators of Dear Evan Hansen at the Music Box Theatre, who graciously approved our dialogue edits, and of course, all of our faculty, staff, and students who continue to keep our work alive, even from a distance. #OneUMW #WherestheMapBroadway.com Playbill BroadwayWorld TDF Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS On Stage Blog COVID-19 Musical Theatre Nerds

Posted by UMW Theatre on Monday, April 20, 2020
A social distancing-themed music video from Dear Evan Hansen, with lyrics approved by the creators themselves!

Our sport clubs want you to know… we’re all in this together ❤️🥎🧹🥏🎾⚽️ #umwishome

Posted by UMW Campus Rec on Wednesday, April 22, 2020
A community-building video featuring club sports! (I’m #2!)

These are love as well.

Everybody Wants to Rule the World

If you can’t rule the world, then why not make one? To a degree, “it’s my own design / it’s my own remorse.” I used an instrumental to the song referenced in the title in my radio bumper (how distant that feels).

Here is the song the title is from. I almost used Lorde’s cover (which I recommend) but I wanted something a little more upbeat.

Howdy y’all, and welcome back to my video assignments. This time, I chose to do the “#SixSecondArt” assignment by Ben Rimes, worth 1.5 stars. I’d like to contest for a slightly higher rating, but that’s debatable with this one. The description is as follows: “Six word stories, six word quotes, and six word poetry are all the rage. So why not six second art? Using any method of video, stop motion, or other visual medium, produce a six second video of you creating art. It could be digital art, physical art, or performance art, just create a six second video of you making it happen! Vine, Youtube, Vimeo, are all great places to host, although Vine happens to a great natural place for this type of work.”

I was really into six word stories as a kid: here’s an example from my ancient, very cringe-worthy DeviantArt.

Prompt: Imagination

Before first step – what happens next?

April 13th, 2014

Unfortunately, with the demise of Vine that wasn’t a possibility, so I focused on something I have made, something digital. Something I could deconstruct into its processes. That ended up being the map I created for my final project. I tried to record it as a time-lapse by pressing ‘undo’ repeatedly (with plans to reverse the footage) but my frequent saving hindered this method. So instead, I tried to delete the elements in the order I created them. You can view the results here:

To create this video, I loaded up Bandicam on my computer. It was convenient how I could change the dimensions of the recording window to fit specifically on the Inkarnate window (the website I used to create this map). For more context and detail on what Inkarnate is and how I created this map, please consult my final project post. Here is a screenshot of what it looked like to record:

Then, after that, I ended up not reversing the footage because I just found the process super interesting. Makes you wonder what you define as art: would this be qualified as creating art? Overall, this project was simple yet fun. I often see these art time lapse videos on social media, and it is easy to forget the amount of work that actually goes into them. To think that three hours of making this map could easily be condensed into six seconds is both unsettling yet fascinating.

Imagining someone spending even more hours on their work also feels similar.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The game that has taken over the Internet since its release in March 2020. It has been known as the game to save us from quarantine boredom. Couples that were supposed to get married this spring have had their weddings on Animal Crossing. Graduating classes have also had mock ceremonies. AC memes have filled every nook and cranny of the Internet.

Some happy, modern mood music to enjoy as you read.

Hey, this is Sterling! Today, I will be sharing my experience with this subject through video. This is the “HIGHLIGHTS VIDEOGAME” assignment by Daniel Mercado. It is work 1.5 stars, though I like to think that my editing, compiling, and strive for the aesthetic makes it worth more. The description is as follows: “Do a short video highlighting how good you play the game! Does not matter how its edited as longs as it contains multiple clips of good gameplay that you consider highlight worthy!” If you know anything about Animal Crossing, it is that it’s supposed to be a fun and relaxing game that you get to play at your own pace, one day at a time (a day in-game is directly equivalent to a day in real time!)

Therefore, as you can tell my highlights are a bit different than the ones used in Mercado’s example. Mine are bits of dialogue, showing my progression and relationships with the characters. To me, Animal Crossing stands out because of its ‘cuteness’. I feel at peace and unstressed when I play it. The parts that make me smile are the ones I have chosen for my highlights: not parts where I feel like I display mastery. I’ve captioned some of them so that they can be understood better.

This assignment was somewhat more difficult than expected. Firstly, as Nintendo is, they conveniently do not have a function where you can upload your game footage. Your only options are to either use a microSD card, purchase a capture card, or upload it to Twitter/Facebook. Unfortunately, my best option was to upload to Twitter, resulting in a reduced footage quality. Then, I copied and pasted the post links into a website called Download Twitter Video. I am not sure if that further reduced the quality, but then I downloaded all 15 clips onto my phone. Then, I uploaded them to my favorite mobile video editor: YouCut Now (read about my process here). In the app, I trimmed down the clips and added the captions.

Of course, I made sure to delete all of my uploads on Twitter after I downloaded each clip. While I would love to spam my followers my favorite Animal Crossing clips, it would certainly somewhat overwhelming. Overall, this was a very fun assignment. I was able to reflect on my best moments in this game and put them together. The process was slightly tedious, and I am glad I could figure out a way to download my game footage. This also gave me more experience with YouCut, which I plan to continue using for small projects such as this.

Dungeon of Venom「Final」

Welcome, traveler, to the Dungeon of Venom. Will you enter, and will you escape?

All right guys! This is Sterling with my final project. This is based on a Dungeons and Dragons campaign I am playing with my friends wherein my party is tasked with stopping and investigating a pandemic. My project revolves around its story. I chose it because it satisfies the 80s course theme (D&D) and the theme of pandemic (self-explanatory). You can read more about the background here. There are three elements to this project: interactive text fiction, design, and audio.

First, let’s look at interactive fiction. The story, which is embedded below, can be played alternatively by following this link. I recommend you also consult the map above before you play, and listen to the playlist I have embedded at the bottom of this post while you play the game. CONTENT WARNING: there is blood, a little bit of gore, and death! Though this project is meant to be light-hearted, please proceed with caution!

This story, albeit (somewhat) short, took me an incredibly long time to write. I thought it would be simpler because it is based around an already-existing plot, but the point of interactive fiction is to have alternative choices. I had to consider what would’ve happened if my character had chosen to do something else, which was difficult because then I had to paths going down those routes. I’m not sure I would exactly qualify it as a short story because there are so many endings to navigate through. Even if you manage to reach the ‘GOLDEN’ ending on your first try, I encourage you to continue playing. What is most logical may not be the best choice…

I typed out 18 pages of coding: the raw code can be viewed here. The coding is simplistic, but tedious when dealing with several paths at once. It was easy to feel overwhelmed. I learned lessons from my previous works of interactive fiction, that in order to stay organized, you should either make a choice map or work on one ‘layer’ at a time. For example, in Scenario A you can do B, C, or D, which results in their own outcomes (which I will label ‘situationals’). After you’ve written out A, write out B, C, and D. List the situationals beneath them, but do not create their linkable outcomes until you have finished writing B, C, and D. This worked for my condensed choice web. For further context, please view this basic tutorial on Inky.

Here is what it looks like in the Ink program.

In this game, there are ten different endings. I consider four of them ‘true’ endings, one ‘GOLDEN’ (the most ideal path), and one ‘SECRET’. The secret one is pretty hard to get in my opinion, so I wish you the best of luck if you try for it! Regardless, after I typed all of that out, I exported into mixed files through Inky. Then, I used 7Zip to compress the folder into a .zip one so that it could properly be uploaded to the independent gaming website itch.io. That process was a bit more complicated than I remembered, but it was done. My only other notable struggle was that I started writing in a mix of present and past tense, which I had to go back and change (I also started to write WAY too in-depth). I hope you find the story interesting: it’s only a snippet of the funny, yet fun journey I’ve taken with my friends this past month.

Next, let’s talk about the visual design portion. In this part, I decided to recreate the beautiful map one of my lovely DMs (Dungeon Master) designed. For reference, here it is:

Doodled by Elsa! (@elsamakesart on Instagram)

I was initially going to do something rather different than what you see as the header picture of this post. I had uploaded Elsa’s map to my favorite online editor (Pixlr Editor, which I would link but it’ll be deactivated this year) and I was ready to find pictures on Google to layer on top. It was going to be a realistic-looking map that you’d find on Google Maps, but then I decided I wanted a more unified and fantastical paper map theme. Out of curiosity, I searched Google for fantasy map creators. I wasn’t expecting much, but I became impressed with what I saw. I started with Worldspinner, which was fun but didn’t give me the capability to draw the terrain and rivers. Then, I tried Agzaar’s Fantasy Map Generator, which was actually extremely cool but didn’t allow for as much originality. (Where would you live in your personal Agzaar map?)

Then, I returned to one I had glazed through earlier: Inkarnate. I had avoided it before because it required an account and most features were locked by a paywall, though I figured that since I already made an account for Worldspinner, why not here? And it was a great decision. It took me at least three hours to create this map, (only a third of what I spend on the story) but I had a blast doing so. The interface is very easy to use. You get to draw your land with a natural-looking brush called the ‘mask’ tool. Then, you get to use the same style of brush (‘brush’ tool) to draw the terrain on top, including rivers. The ‘Stamps’ tool allows one to put down stamps of trees, castles, towns, banners, and more. I put every single tree down individually! The last tool I used was the ‘Text’ tool to label the banners. I fell in love with the fonts they used.

Here is the interface and my process! I would have screenshotted more, but I got reeeeally into it.

This is certainly a tool I will be returning to. I hope to use this for future campaigns and perhaps purchase premium one day. The options they provide you for free are good enough, though with premium one can make things from volcanoes to fairy forests and more! I had to get creative and use bridges as ground for our river-towns and play with the layering. If you do use this tool, be careful to save every so often. There is a convenient button for it in the lower left corner. It would be tragic to put in hours only to lose your work. I would still like to try my hand at creating a map using multiple images online, though, so maybe that’ll happen the day I become a Dungeon Master myself.

This is the final product! What do you think? Can you pinpoint exactly where this adventure takes place?

Lastly, let’s discuss the audio portion of this project. I put in quite a bit of time on the other sections, so I’m afraid I didn’t quite get to the standard I had imagined of voice acting and/or the epic 80s fantasy remix. However, I did put all of my sources in a playlist. I thought deeply of what should go in this playlist, using tracks that mean a lot to me. Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986) was my first Studio Ghibli movie, and really taught me as a child what fantasy can look like. It isn’t just European castles and princesses and unicorns. It can also be machinery and friendship and heroes of any gender.

My dad showed me the Lord of the Rings (1978) animated movie and its sequels when I was very young. I remember being on a then-vast hotel bed, not too long after my parents’ divorce, when this terribly ugly creature known as Gollum popped up on the screen. “Where there’s a whip, there’s a way” anyone? The following image of Gollum from the animated Return of the King is the one that stuck with me the most, likely because it is different. Movies like this along with my dad’s love for D&D inspired my interest in fantasy.

Of course, I made sure to put tracks and scenes from 80s classics The Princess Bride (1987) and The NeverEnding Story (1984). I encourage you to shuffle through this mix of fun while you’re playing my game. Orchestral mixes are just as lovely as cheesy 80s bops, in my opinion.

We begin! Even though you didn’t start off in a town with my adventure, perhaps you start off in one with yours.

Overall, this was a fun project to do. I feel like it expresses myself and my interests quite clearly. I was able to practice making a longer, more advanced story that should be a backboard for many more to come. I now can freehand in this coding language, and I’ve learned that I need to work on my choice grouping much more since – fun fact – I had to create completely different pathways for some choices that happen early in the game. Doing so will make the work less-tedious. Discovering Inkarnate is a world-changer (literally), and I’d like to add onto the map I’ve created as my party ventures more into the world and encounters different monsters (we just faced ones that looked like Asparagus). I’ve also enjoyed creating that playlist, for I got to think deeply about what music would go with my own fantasy adventure.

Now, please excuse me while I try to get NeverEnding Story out of my head…

Sincerely,
Sterling

Is This the Real Life? Is This Just Fantasy?

Title a reference to Bohemian Rhapsody (1975, but we’ll round it up) by Queen. I think the song accurately reflects my feelings for this project: passionate, all over the place, and perhaps a little crazy.

Hello! Hope you’re staying safe, healthy, and well. We’re almost done, so hang in there. Really stoked to share this project!

As I’ve said in a prior post where I state my general ideas, I’ve chosen an interactive fiction theme. I’ve reiterated that I’m a fan of works where you make the story like Bandersnatch, Zork, and Detroit: Become Human. That, in combination with my recent adventures of quarantine Dungeons and Dragons, is what has driven me to pursue my idea. My friends and I started a pandemic-themed campaign set in a fantasy land. The names of places and lore are a little silly (the town of Loopoopoo?), though it been just as fun as my other campaigns and has really been a highlight to my Saturday afternoons. Not to mention that it combines our course themes of 80s and pandemic.

The map, drawn by the amazing Elsa. (@elsamakesart on Instagram)

Even though this project involves multiple media platforms, I’ve elected to complete it through Inky, which from what I can tell primarily uses text. You can view some of my past works on Inky here. For those who don’t know what Inky is, it is a script that allows one to program their own choose-your-own-adventure. This can then be exported as HTML on a website. I will implement links of the images and sound I create into the ‘adventure,’ so please click on those when they appear.

Music will likely be a single track of fantastical ambience (with an 80s twist) I have mixed that you can open at the start and listen to as you play through the adventure. If I have time, I may implement a bit of voice acting and sound effects. As for images, I think it would be cool to design a game cover and find some way to implement it into Inky when the ‘adventure’ is booted up. I may also modify some images for when your character arrives at a new setting, as well. However, this is all dependent on time and I plan to invest most of it into the story.

Of course, it will only be a short story rather than a full one. I’d like to create a longer, more detailed journey one day but for now this will suffice. I’m imagining that it will take around ten minutes to navigate through the longest branch of the story, and hopefully a bit longer if my audience decides to try the story again with different choices. This would be my ideal length. I’ve chosen to focus on this aspect because I really enjoy writing (writing week was my favorite by far) and I’d love to explore Inky even more. This’ll be my third rodeo and hopefully the most successful.

I talked about what may be too much content with my current workload and finals coming up. However, I’ll do my best with what I have and see where it lands! I hope my idea interests you!

Update:「Week 10」

Hello! Hope y’all are doing well. This is Sterling, back with another update.

As you can tell, I couldn’t break out of my habit of procrastination. Being at home is like moving through molasses. I’d stopped associating being at home with doing homework: even during my final years of high school, most of my homework was done by traveling there in the early morning. Before then, I did homework at daycare. For work that is supposed to be done at home, it isn’t very easy. Not to mention that I don’t have all of the pressure that comes from having physical classes. It is nice to be able to take my time – I am a slow worker – though that lack of face-to-face interaction is slightly demotivating.

Regardless, it was fun to take a break from all of the classes that have changed and to face DS106: my creative constant.

Video Essay

At first, I sat there terribly confused. I didn’t understand that I had just watched a video about editing a video essay. Isn’t this what is already done in films? I thought. I applaud Every Frame a Painting (Tony Zhou) for making what could be so thoroughly boring into something engaging that mimics the style of story-driven filmography. It is important to keep works interesting by avoiding repetition and transferring between storylines. I would argue that Contagion (2011) misses the latter by trying to fully accommodate its convoluted storyline. For those who have not seen the film, . I truly enjoyed the concept of the spiderweb of characters that are all affected by the pandemic in different ways. The contamination scenes send chills down one’s spine as an infected character touches something as mundane as a stair rail. The editing did a superb job lingering on these items just long enough to build suspense without it being too obvious.

Regardless, I was left missing out on the characters’ potential. The film had several A-Listers like Gwyneth Paltrow and Laurence Fishburne, though nearly every plot was snubbed. Details are skipped over, and we miss characters for at least half an hour. Several events are not filled in. I’m a firm believer in including ambiguities, but there were too many here. And if I’m being completely honest, I couldn’t tell the three lead Caucasian female doctors apart for the longest time. Of course, there is nothing wrong with the casting: they were just looked at so briefly that I didn’t have enough time to register their physical appearances and personalities. Despite these couple of points I wanted to discuss, Contagion is certainly worth watching. Its narrative is very unique, and others might have an easier time navigating it than I. The editing, which is actually what I am here to talk about (I am no authority on any of these subjects despite pursuing a film career), perfectly encapsulated the full range of distress that is exhibited in this film. We see their vulnerability, courage, grief, and exhaustion. As I noted before, it can be hard to connect them, though the showcasing of these qualities and how it is translated into the landscape shots of the scene I analyzed gives Contagion a solid portion of its merit.

The scene I analyzed.

After watching Tony Zhou’s How Does an Editor Think and Feel? video, I found myself focusing on the characters’ eyes. As an actor, I also gained a newfound appreciation for facial expessions. In theatre, one relies heavily on dialogue and exaggerated movements. However, film has more minute emotions that come most strongly through the eyes. That, including the Roger Ebert article, discussed instinct. One knows when to end a shot instinctually. Ebert mentioned the concept of “intrinsic weighing,” or the idea that “certain areas of the available visual space have tendencies to stir emotional or aesthetic reactions.” Although there are few people focused on in this clip, the spaces shown throughout aesthetically betray the emptiness of this new world.