Hello, and welcome back to my blog! This assignment is called “The Forest Gump Project” by Bill Genereux. It is worth 3.5 stars and contains the description: “Good ole’ Forrest Gump. He always manages to find himself at the center of history, and using photo editing software, so can you. Find a historic photograph and place yourself into the scene, just like Forrest Gump.”
I decided to slip myself into the Enchantment Under the Sea prom in Back to the Future (1985). I play guitar with Marty McFly and the band, though as you can see, I play an instrument of the future: a Guitar Hero/Rock Band guitar for the Wii. It would be pretty great to ‘play’ with them, and to make a cameo representing the future. I will walk my audience through my process, which was done on Pixlr Editor.
Hello! This assignment is called “Create A Silly Movie Poster” by Richard Barnes. It is worth 3.5 stars and has the following description: “Take an existing movie poster and make it look silly. My final project involved an Ewok who wanted to be in a movie with Arnold Schwarzengger. This is his idea of a poster.”
Therefore, I decided to work on something I started in my junior year of high school: what I affectionately call Macbeth Episode IV: A New Hope (1606). It has been a long time since I have read Macbeth or watched Star Wars: A New Hope (1977), but they seem to share vague similarities. I decided to take most of my images from Justin Kurzel’s film adaptation of Macbeth (2015). As the protagonist with a grand destiny, Macbeth is Luke Skywalker, of course. Lady Macbeth is Leia as his lover (nothing else). The Three Witches are odd and I almost could consider them comic relief, much like R2-D2, C-3PO, and Chewbacca. Banquo, the friend, is Han Solo. King Duncan, who was killed by Macbeth, is the ghost of Moff Tarkin – they are both killed by their respective protagonists.
Of course, this was done with my favored image editor Pixlr Editor (I sure hope this doesn’t end with Flash!) It was difficult to size the proportions of the characters’ heads, for some either had hair that needed to be covered up or their heads were in angles that I could not match a picture to. To replicate the colorfulness of the original poster, the saturation had to be tinkered with quite a lot. Shadows had to be added in large quantities to mask lighting differences and match skin tones. As for the logo, I used the Star Wars font generator on Fontmeme. A paintbrush tool with a slight smear was used in various sizes to speckle the logo with stars. I am not quite sure why I used a more vignette-type of filter on the border of the image, as that is one of the things I did back in high school, but I enjoy how it looks instead of being blindingly white.
One thing I would consider doing if I decide to keep editing this is to reduce the saturation and eliminate the vignette to reach a more ‘vintage’ image. To unify these elements into a favored aesthetic would help reduce evidence of my status as an amateur. This activity fit into the 80s theme, for while Star Wars was first released in 1977, its sequels and the popularity of its characters flourished in the 80s. Overall, this assignment grew my experience as an editor and to just have fun. This image isn’t supposed to be taken seriously, although I am proud to reflect on what I did in the past (2017) and see how far I’ve come today. It is worth 3.5 stars and then some!
I actually got relatively far pretty past, though I found myself stuck on a few: especially the music one. As you can read from the posts below, I had to switch some around. I also had to resist running to the set of UMW’s current musical Ordinary Days by Adam Gwon, which will premiere this Thursday!
That was my Photoblitz! Overall, it was simple and not too stress-inducing despite the time limit. This activity lets you see what is around you, and I got to discover what lengths I would go to for a photograph. It is interesting to see what others view around them and to gain a new awareness for familiar spaces. I would certainly consider doing this activity again!
Again, I recommend more 80s Japanese music to listen to as you read: this one in particular struck a chord of tender nostalgia. I’ve listened to something similar as a kid, but every time I hum the tune I remember to my mom, she cannot place the song. It’ll take me a few days to remember the tune myself. Regardless, this kind of music is like elevator music but with words. And I mean that in the best way possible.
This one is from Tatsuro Yamashita called “Whispering Sea.” It actually came out in 1978, but this release with Mahi Mahi Rider from the old KIKI radio station of Honolulu (which is now FOX Sports) was done in 1984. I have a lot of family in Hawai’i, and having spent some time there in 2018, I can imagine listening to that on a cassette as I walk near the beach. In fact, listening to this song on my way to class made me feel like a protagonist. Do you find that your favorite songs make you feel like a main character?
Anyways, enough with the rambling. One thing I made sure to implement this week was Google Keep. It’s the Google version of a notes app, so I can access it on my computer and my phone. I used a checklist of the assignments and crossed them off as I went. Another thing I did recently was watch Back to the Future (1985), which was really fun. Certainly worth re-watching: especially with friends. I’m discussing it in my story analysis. Hoping to draw some inspiration from it in my future assignments as well!
Challenges this week again included time management. Even though I did start on Monday, I spread myself too thin and worked a bit on all of my assignments at once, which was overwhelming and not very effective. However, little ideas would keep popping up for each that I couldn’t deny. I also had a bit too much fun with the Daily Creates, the one for today taking me hours. The fact that I’ve been cast in the play doesn’t help. This early start is still progress, though, so I hope I can complete all assignments with enough time to sleep on them next week.
I only finished three assignments with a total of 8 stars, though I like to think that I put enough effort and meaning into each of them to collectively amount to something close to 12 stars. They were all assignments that I enjoyed, and even though there aren’t any more writing weeks, I hope to write more since it is probably my favorite creative medium. A bit off-topic, but it was neat to see how I was featured in Professor Bond’s Week 2 Reflection. His responses to my ideas, especially on perfection, were meaningful. I am here, able to “write it up, say what we were trying to do, how we tried, where we think it went wrong, what we could have done differently, and evaluate what we learned for our efforts.”
For the story analysis, I was very happy to read about hypertext fiction. As I’ve established in Week 1, I’m a huge fan of interactive fiction, and it brought me back to the mid-late 2000s when I was first exposed to hypertext works. I’ve used Inky to write a few stories of my own that revolve around the same concept of clicking on words to progress in a story. If you’d like to read further on my thoughts of interactive fiction (including hypertext), please consider reading this report I wrote last semester (or my final project). I enjoy how Szumer discussed video games as a form of interactive storytelling, and that “we often get ‘a million-dollar game with a five-dollar script’” as people prioritize graphics and game mechanics over the story, which is absolutely my favorite part of any video game. I’ve been playing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt lately, and I agonize over my story choices far more than my lack of virtual combat skills.
This week, I’ve decided to analyze Robert Zemeckis’ Back to the Future (1985) using Kurt Vonnegut’s method of visualizing stories. One could argue that it looks something like this (a la cafe napkin):
Though, of course, it follows a more general story pattern that involves an overall increase in fortune:
BttF should probably be exaggerated more than what I drew, though the movie’s whimsical yet thrilling nature kept me from leaping to either extreme. Of course, his family’s complete 180 in fortune is notable but Marty McFly doesn’t seem to dwell on it all too much. BttF is a great story to analyze because many of the situations are hilariously ambiguous and produces an interesting waver mid-plot. It was great to see how the curve was not as simple as the basic plots outlined by Vonnegut. Even though the second video doesn’t apply quite as much to this aspect of fictional storytelling, I really enjoyed the concept of us – people – making up the machine. The system learns from people drawing connections, for a mere Google search suggestion tells all.
As I mentioned in my last week’s summary, I was hoping to watch They Live (1988) on my roommate’s Hulu. Unfortunately, that requires another subscription to something called Starz – which, as you can infer, my roommate doesn’t have. So I’m left again to rely on summaries and my memories of watching the movie 5 years ago. Trust me. I’ll find a way! I considered doing something else for this assignment, but the concept in my mind was too strong for me to ignore.
The assignment I chose was called “Facing Your Fears” and submitted by Rachel Harris. It is worth three stars. The summary is as follows: “What is your biggest fear? Is it spiders… heights… snakes… needles? Have you ever thought about what your fear might think of you? Write a short story of a terrifying event from the perspective of your fear. You never know… they might be just as scared as you are!”
Thinking about They Live, I had trouble deciding about what was the primary fear: the fear of being controlled or the fear of losing control. Even though both imply the same concept of loss of autonomy, I believe that the former targets a purposeful removal of free will. The latter targets a more subtle attack on one’s autonomy, whether it be in illness or invisible aliens plotting to dominate the world. I felt like this fear of losing control might be more effective, so I decided to write a short story from the point-of-view of Losing Control. I apologize if this any of this content is disrespectful – I do not intend any kind of offense, for everything is in the mind of this character. Here we go, again with the second-person perspective!
You linger in every human; every being that cherishes their individualism. You’ve brought about several undoings, making it only so that they can become redone if they form an alliance with your nemesis: Truth. However, you still succeed most of the time, sending people to places they can never return from. It brings you joy when you take up these jobs. After all, Fear is the family business. You are good at your job, having found the most profit from hospitals. Paraplegics. Alzheimer’s victims. They were all very delicious, most surrendering their will to you on a silver platter that looks an awful lot like a table.
As time went on, the numbers of those people have decreased. People are more brave and determined to overcome since modern medicine and storytelling. It’s unfortunate, though you’re still popular for being a “dark horse” among the fears. You manage to take annual business trips to the Worldwide Web, where you and your colleagues get a lot of work done. Your stomach rumbles just thinking about the Dependence Buffet and how many people lose themselves to the system. It’s pretty great! Your life has been swell, apart from one pitfall. The worst time in your career was when you met the infamous Nada. It was a true tragedy indeed.
You were well on your way to a promotion, having been put in charge of a project called Operation They Live. Back in ‘88, things were a lot simpler. It took only a month to process the contract with the skeleton-like aliens. They infiltrated Los Angeles at the snap of your fingers, and they proceeded to re-do the billboards in a way that was unerringly straightforward. You made sure that their messages were hidden, but that their influence was still there, slipping quietly into the subconscience of all who viewed them. Their reward? The ability to terraform the Earth with global warming.
Some people had unveiled the true messages, but they were far too scared of you to act on it. You chased them in the night when it was too dark for them to see the truth and told them otherwise. Either that, or their cries fell onto unlistening ears: their ignorance orchestrated by yours truly, of course. That was until Nada put the sunglasses on.
Always observant, he saw your shadow as you peered from an alley. This man didn’t see you then, but he saw your plans and he would certainly have the ability to see you soon. You clenched your teeth, turning around in cold determination. It was time to take this man down. You couldn’t control him, but you could put this fear into a woman named Holly Thompson that he seemed to feel for. Your alien subordinates ‘eased’ her fear of losing control by bribing her into a better position, though only you know that having power makes the fear of losing control even worse.
Things proceed against your plan, and Nada shoots Holly. Suddenly, you clench your stomach. You’ve been discovered, and it hurts. You falter, crouching in pain. You’ve always worn a strong suit and tie, though Nada stands taller in his plaid shirt and imposing figure. Even though he does not see you in the material world, he is somehow looking at you straight in the eye. His gun is pointed at your head. Death is only temporary for those of your occupation, but that does not keep the fear from racking your body like a fevered shudder. It rattles your spine, your eyes widening as you lose control. You tremble in vulnerability.
Those were the last words you heard as Nada pulled the trigger, shooting the transmitter you built to mask the presence of your aliens. You scream as your head explodes in pain, the bullet penetrating your incorporeal skull. He must have allied with Truth. Sparks explode everywhere, searing your skin even though you aren’t supposed to feel them. You’re going to die. You lie on the ground, fear bleeding from your body as Nada’s bullet-ridden body collapses beside you. Your final sight is of Nada giving you the middle finger.
Your talent is your undoing.
Here is the scene I detailed. It’s spoilers for the movie, but if you don’t mind them I think it helps to view it:
Enjoy a picture of my family and I from early 2000! Guess which baby I am.
I was really bummed that I missed the Daily Create where one uses the words that were added to the dictionary in their birth year. Therefore, I was very excited to find that it is in the Assignment Bank! It is titled “Never Fear – It’s The Words Of The Year” and submitted by Anonymous. It is worth two stars.
The description is as follows: “Merriam-Webster keeps a year-by-year list of when words were first recorded, or first recorded as being used in a particular sense. Each year gives us a list of somewhat random unusual and mundane words. Your challenge: Take the list from some significant year, such as the year of your birth, and build a poem from the words on the list. You don’t need to be limited to just the list, unless you choose to do so. Any kind of poem will do – just make it meaningful. Assignment inspired by the ever-inspirational Amy Burvall.”
Therefore, I decided to look into my birth year: 1999. I was surprised at how applicable many of the terms were to modern day. I had no idea that many of those technologies had been formalized at the time of my birth, and it was a delightful surprise to be a little “meta” with it. One could consider my ‘freestyle poem’ a critique of my generation, though I am truthfully indifferent about my generation other than excitement over the fact that we’ll be the ones high in society one day just like all others. These are some thoughts from a different perspective. It’s a bit rocky since I had trouble trying to connect all of the themes in a poetic manner. Regardless, please enjoy!
Today, in 1999
Gen Z, a generation revolving around public storytelling
Destined to become bloggers, manifesting thoughts into blogs
Before they are released into the lofty blogosphere
Amongst noxious clouds of mango vape.
A chillaxed vibe as they curl up with their e-readers
Clickbait nagging their attention away from stream of thought
Speech devolves into a monotonous stream of texting
Just as often as they claim this invisible world as their own.
Dashcams make it so that mirror awareness is not a priority
The only mirror observed is a handheld, coltan screen.
Suddenly and wonderfully mindful of a carbon footprint, yet
So heavy was the footfall of the old world
That there is no shoe large enough to fill the damage done.
But we believe.
All these things intangible in an epigenomic society:
It’s no wonder that sometimes they think they have
One of my shticks from my Intro to Digital Studies course last semester was that I made quite a few pieces of interactive fiction. They were told in the second-person perspective using “you” to refer to the main character, who is intended to be an insertion of the reader. I like the style, for it allows for a certain extension of empathy and thought would go best with the topic of transgender identity. I took this theme a bit literally, and it contains some personal content that could be viewed as negative.
This activity, “I’m a Real Boy,” (two stars) was created by Cherish Phillips and contains the following description: “Everyone has at some point wanted to be like or actually be someone else. Whether they’re a famous celebrity or just someone you really admire. For example, Pinocchio. He just wanted to be a real boy, that’s all he wanted. So what you’re gonna do is write a snapshot of what your life would be if you could be anyone else in the world. This can be a snapshot of a single day, or a summary of how your life would be. Be creative feel free to use anybody whether its a TV character, and actual person, or some random person that lives in your neighborhood.” In this text, the subject is myself and contains a snapshot of a Tuesday morning.
Trigger warning: instances of potential body dysphoria*
You inhale, your ribs liberated from a vice-like ache known in an alternate universe. You can breathe freely: you’re not worried that too sharp an inhale could destroy your image. The morning is like any other, and so you go about it with an occasional hum, random bass notes emanating from your throat. Your roommate is still dreaming, though they’re a heavy sleeper. The sound floats briefly in the echo-chamber bathroom before dissipating into the sound of running water. It is nice how you don’t have to hover outside the bathroom to wait for people to leave it. You’re welcome there, or at least you’ve welcomed yourself.
It takes you quite a short amount of time to get ready, not blinking twice at the reflection that you’re used to. Even though you’ve been stress-eating, you’re naturally active. You’re a black belt, and you had to work just as hard as the other guys during your test last summer. Soon enough, you’re ready to walk out the door. You’re not worried about the position of your backpack strap as you sling it over one shoulder. It lays across your chest instead of cutting into it. Your shoulders are relaxed because you don’t feel the need to make them look broader than they already are.
Your hand envelopes the doorknob, granting you full control as you close the door softly. Your name is on it unashamedly, declared in bold Sharpie on a googly-eyed bird made from scrapbook paper. Sterling. It appears on your license, birth certificate, and others: just as it should. You do not have to cover up your name when your family comes because they have always known you by that name.
You have to tilt your head to view it because you’re your father’s height: 5’10”. You’ve never had to wear any kind of hidden heel to feel like people can see you as the man you are. You shake your head. No point on dwelling something so… well, cute. You can say that word. It’s OK.
It doesn’t take you long to walk to Stage Dialects class because you don’t worry about the way your legs look as you move. You greet your friends and sit in a chair, bow-legged and relaxed. The class begins, and you’re required to make a pure “e” sound. It comes smoothly from the front of your face in a casual tenor. Your gum ridge vibrates with the sound, the need to deepen your voice and keep it trapped in your throat – a half-muttered rasp – never arising.
The sound confirms that you’re a real boy.
And so am I.
*Please note that even though this details many insecurities, I am rather confident in my body. Also, I apologize if I used the wrong term in my trigger warning! Thanks for reading! ^_^
Enjoy a picture of my cat that I used for my Daily Create! Here is some mood music. To enjoy while you read:
This week was very hard. (Who on Earth let a sophomore like me sign up for a senior-level course?) I vastly underestimated the amount of time I had, though I’m glad I could at least touch base with They Lived (1988). I hope to go more in-depth about the film’s psychology and more with next week’s writing theme, for I feel like I express myself best with words. I’m borrowing my roommate’s Hulu account to re-watch the film – haven’t watched that movie in years! It will be a great refresher. I’m also much happier about my blog’s layout now that I have personalized it a bit more, and I am eager to work on the home page.
One thing that got me through the week was 80s Japanese music. I have trouble concentrating when I listen to words with lyrics, though I was starting to get tired of chillhop. Therefore, what else to listen to than music with words that I do not understand? Mariya Takeuchi and Tatsuro Yamashita have taken me through hours of homework: they are taking me through this post now. Foreign oldies are a true gem!
A struggle I had was that my blog posts say that they are posted on January 25th when I absolutely posted them on the 24th. I never set a posting delay, and I’m thinking my blog should be in the correct time zone. In my time clutter, I found myself spending too much time on digital image editing when I probably could’ve done something similarly effective with less effort. Perfectionism isn’t always the answer.
I managed to complete 2/4 Daily Creates and 2/3 Assignments. As an artistic person, I knew that I would have fun doing the assignments, yet I let myself succumb to stress and try to finish them last-minute. I pride myself on being meticulous – especially being an Honors student – though I put too much time in other homework. I pledge to start on my assignments earlier since I truly enjoyed doing them, and like my other courses, Digital Storytelling needs to be a class I let myself love. Though if you couldn’t tell from my other posts, I’m already falling in love with this new creative outlet.
What I learned this week: Many things are not what they seem. I can be a hero. It is easy to forget about what is ‘invisible’. And like the aliens in They Live, digital images and arts are all around me: I just can’t see them.
Please check out my Daily Create and Assignment posts at the bottom of this one. ^_^
Hello! It’s Sterling, and I’m back with my second assignment. In the spirit of They Live (see my last blog post for more details), I decided to do the “Apocalyptic Character Generator” by Martha. The assignment’s synopsis is as follows: “Use Hero Machine to design and create a representation of your character for The End 106. When you’re done, export it as PNG file and then use a photo editing application to place your character in a setting that makes sense. Bonus star if you make the final product an animated GIF!”
I thought it would be great to make a character that represented me and my interests. I liked plopping him in the middle of the screenshot from They Live. This screenshot in particular is very profound, for as I discussed in my last post, the main character finds these sunglasses that reveal the truths and intents of anything from advertisements to the alien species mingling with humans. It is a testament to many of the marketing ploys that only exist for profit today. You may be surrounded by people who are driven by economy and politics, who layer themselves with false empathy. And my character, Sterling (of course) is here to reveal the absolute truth.
For more context on the scene, please watch Roddy Piper repeatedly put on and take off sunglasses in this excerpt (NOT a trailer, YouTube) from They Live:
About Sterling: he is quite a bit more muscular than I am – HeroMachine didn’t have any lean muscle options – though instead of using guns like Nada to fight, he uses his fists. I’ve been doing Tae Kwon Do and other martial arts for 13 years, and I recently got my black belt. I incorporated a lot of black and yellow in his outfit to represent Bruce Lee and his jumpsuit (aka the one Uma Thurman wears in Kill Bill): my #1 role model and inspiration. He is a representation of someone Asian in Hollywood (my dream) and is overall a pretty humble dude. He wears one of my favorite fashion items right now: a denim jacket. His trusty cat, Thai, travels with him everywhere. Thai can see these alien beings, and alerts Sterling when they are nearby.
Here is a better view of the finished product:
HeroMachine was surprisingly difficult to use despite its ‘dress up’ kind of interface. Many of the clothes did not fit the initial body parts I had chosen, and it did not seem to offer any variety in the position the clothes are in. I wanted to go for a power-walk kind of image, but it the clothes wouldn’t quite fit. Colors were difficult to figure out too, as you selected from three palettes for each item and applied them. However, many of the design options were still fun and it was cool to see an ‘action’ version of myself come to life. I might also have some outfit inspiration now! It’s rated three stars, and I think it is appropriate given its straightforwardness – one just needs to play with it for a while.
Greetings! I’m back with something fun for my first assignment. I followed the theme of the 80s by targeting the movie my blog is currently themed around: They Live (1988), by John Carpenter starring Roddy Piper and Meg Foster. The assignment I chose is called “Before and After The End” by Martha. Here is its synopsis: “Take a before/after photo of a person, place, or thing that has survived the apocalpyse. Then use Juxtapose to share a comparison of your two photos. Try not to rely too heavily on Photoshop or other photo editors to show the changes.”
First, let me tell you about my inspiration: They Live. They Live is a science-fiction and action film based in dystopian Los Angeles. Roddy Piper plays the wanderer “Nada,” who overhears someone ‘getting soapbox’ and talking about powerful people and beings that are controlling humanity. Eventually, he recovers a pair of sunglasses that turn his world black-and-white and replace advertisements with words displaying their true intent. Some people are revealed to actually be aliens, and it is up to Nada to survive and reveal the truth as it was shown to him. So while this doesn’t exactly target the zombie-filled apocalypse we know, it targets a dystopia that may as well be an apocalypse to those who discover it. In a way, the fact that it is right under our noses makes it worse, and draws many parallels to the heartless intent of messages in modern society.
If you’re curious, here is the trailer. You can watch it on Hulu if you have an account. (Warning: guns, a muttering Roddy Piper, and repetition of the word ‘THEY’):
This assignment was rated 3 stars, but I spent a solid few hours working on this one to make the ‘alien’ overlay look natural. The assignment made it seem like one should show the difference more subtly in expression, though it is ‘subtle’ in the movie in that no one can see them. After all, I enjoy image editing, and it was cool to put myself in this dystopian society. First, I took two pictures of myself. Then, I selected this screenshot from the movie to overlay over my face using Pixlr Editor:
It was a little difficult to position correctly over my face, though it was still much easier to match human proportions to each other than that of a cat to a person (check out my attempt at that from today’s daily create!). Since the man’s bangs and clothes made his exposed forehead and neck much shorter, respectively, I had to duplicate them and stretch them out to fit my own. I used a spot-blending tool to cover some of the edges. I also had to color part of my face in black since the lighting on the skeleton face is much different than the room I was in, and it was more effective for me to make the edges of my face into shadows. This black color was also used in my hair, since it was too light compared to the shadows on my face.