Pet Portraits

A few weeks ago in our portraiture class we all shot pets (With cameras.  Please nobody come hunt me down for pet murder.).  🙂  We all had to choose a pet, whatever sort of animal we wanted, and lug it in to the school campus.  Most people brought dogs, although there was also a snake, a fish, puppies, a bunny, and a pig.  Since my dog weighs 90-ish pounds and gets very excited when he sees doggy friends, I decided to drag my grumpy cat to school and use her as my pet model instead.

Something you should know about my cat: She hates.  That’s pretty much it.  She’s always devastated, when we go home for a weekend, to find out that no, I’m really not the only human being on earth, much as she would like me to be.  She hate’s car trips, she hates her kennel, she hates when I wait too long to feed her, she hates when I don’t let her sit on my lap 24/7…basically, she’s a cat, just grumpier than normal.  She’s getting to be an old lady though, so I guess she’s allowed to get away with it.

So when I dragged her to the school for a photo shoot, popping strobe lights, dogs in the other room, noises and smells and new places, she was pretty set to murder me.  For my area to shoot I was put in the prop room, a small room very akin to a closet cluttered with lots of junk and places for kitties to hide.  Willy kept trying to sneak off, but overall it was a decent shoot.  Here’s some of the photos I got.  Click for a bigger view.

My classmate trying to console my poor cat.

I used a softbox for most of the pictures.  Here she is looking not terribly freaked out.

This was the photo I turned in to my teacher.  I traded the softbox for a snoot, and it gave it a very dramatic feel, which I liked.  My teacher seemed to have very pleased things to say (she kept coming back to it while discussing other peoples’ photos) which was nice but very strange.  She suggested fixing the little light-colored spot on Willy’s ear to be less distracting, and removing the tail from the bottom.

I decided, in my free time yesterday, to see if I could fix it up any like she’d suggested.  It’s not perfect work, but hopefully my editing isn’t painfully obvious, aside from the fact that I pointed out what I changed.  (And yes, I did stick a lame watermark in there…if my tough-to-please teacher was interested in it, and if I spent that long trying to fix it, I’m going to try and protect my picture as best I can.  But we’re all friendly, non-stealing people around here. 🙂 )

This one is just for fun.  I liked the angle and the light.

The critique for this assignment was actually a tiny bit fun for once.  It was cool to see what sort of shots my classmates were able to get, and see what animals they used.  It was also somewhat reassuring, for myself, to hear positive comments not only on one of my photos in general, but also on a photo that’s a subject I’d actually be interested in shooting as a job.  When I started college, I said I wanted to be a pet photographer.  Now when people ask I tell them I have no clue what I want to do.  Animals are still my passion, but I just have no idea.  So it was nice to hear that I actually did a decent job on the subject I like best.

Address is Approximate

Some of you may remember the stop motion video of the little light bulb my classmate and I made earlier this year.  We had a lot of fun making it, and it sort of perked up an interest in stop motion for me.  Recently (I suppose it’s been a month or so ago now) I stumbled on a video while I was skimming around Vimeo a bit.  Now, aside from being plain beautiful, from the visuals to the music, this has several things I love.

1) A little robot character.  Call me weird, but I love certain types of robots.  I have a fleece blanket covered in robots.  I love the idea of playing off robots and emotions together since, obviously, robots aren’t alive and therefore shouldn’t technically be capable of feelings.  (Also, one of my favorite story ideas that I never finished writing has a human with surgically implanted mechanical parts…not quite a robot, but similar)

2) This sort of goes with #1, but I love when something simple can have such a huge story.  Stories don’t always have to be these huge complicated things.  In fact, I think it speaks extremely well of you if you can tell a simple but engaging story, especially in a small amount of time (two minutes and forty-three seconds, for instance).

3) Stop motion.  I believe when I stumbled on this video I had actually done a stop motion search, and it apparently caught my eye.  Honestly, though, I have a hard time believing this is stop motion.  It’s incredibly smooth, almost to the point that, technical factors aside, it could be straight video footage.  It absolutely sucks me in, with squid suckers and everything.

I’ve found that it’s great to crawl in bed, pull all the covers around, turn the lights out, put it on full screen, volume up, and watch it in the darkness.  The music is so soothing, the story  is so magical, and the video as a whole is superbly beautiful.  So, here it is.  I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do.

 

Movie Research Assignment

First off, so sorry to anyone who still visits my blog for being absent so long.  We had two weeks off from school between the summer and fall semesters, and now we’ve hit the ground running yet again.  Three weeks in and my head has already begun to explode slightly.  Hopefully my dog and cat will clean up the mess after I explode…

This semester we’re doing Multimedia 2, and our first real assignment was to watch a film that we think has cultural significance and then write a paper about it.  I chose to research the film WALL-E.  I love this movie, so it was nice to watch it and have it count as school at the same time.  As part of the assignment we are supposed to post our paper on our blogs.  So, with only one further ado, I present my paper.

One Further Ado: I’ve missed my blog quite much, so I’m hoping to start up again during breaks from homework.  I’ve got a small collection of things to share, so hopefully I can get those posted soon.  🙂  NOW without further ado…

Movie Research Assignment–WALL-E

WALL-E is a film about a small robot left behind on earth.  He has adventures, meets new friends, makes mistakes, and ultimately saves the day.  Although WALL-E isn’t strong, he’s not big and impressive, he isn’t a bold, dashing hero, there are many things to be learned from him and the circumstances he lives through.

WALL-E is set in earth’s future.  Humans have evacuated the planet.  Left behind are squads of debris-clearing robots.  Only one bot remains though; the rest have fallen into disrepair and ceased to work, lying where they die.  That one is WALL-E.  Day in and day out he continues with his job of cleaning up, stacking cubes of trash, and preparing for the day humans will return to earth.  The problem is, humans aren’t coming back, not until the planet is able to safely sustain life again.  That’s where EVE, a robot visiting from space, comes in.  Sleek, modern, and searching for any sign of life, she and WALL-E form a special friendship over the course of their adventures.

In this film, the main, obvious point given to viewers is that we as humans cannot waste and waste and waste and expect to receive no consequences for our actions.  In the movie, a huge  corporation called Buy ‘N Large  has essentially taken over the world.  Electronic billboards and speakers ring with advertisements wherever you go.  But with the mass consumerism that Buy ‘N Large presents come the aftereffects: massive waste, trash covering the earth, and, eventually, a planet that becomes uninhabitable.  This is a reminder to us here and now to be careful of how we treat our planet.  Sure, earth can take a lot of hits, but that doesn’t excuse poor treatment on our part.  It’s our responsibility to care for what we’ve been given.  There are many easy ways to help our planet out even a little, things as easy as walking or riding a bike instead of using gas to power a car, recycling as much as can be recycled, buying used items instead of new from the store, and even simply turning off the light when you leave the room.

In WALL-E, not only was the earth left in disrepair, but the humans themselves were in sorry shape.  After evacuating earth in the Axiom, a huge, high-tech space craft, everything was done for them, brought to them, they were carried constantly by powered floating chairs, and all their food was consumed from a cup and straw.  They grew fatter and fatter, lost all muscle mass, and became akin to adult-sized babies.  As the years passed, they even lost the ability to walk on their own.  Our own world is gradually moving this way.  Fast food restaurants reside on every local street corner, many sporting drive-throughs so you don’t even have to get out of your car.  You can pay and move on to your next destination, never stopping, never slowing.  In recent years, America has made a step toward awareness of these sort of issues.  Advertisements and commercials urge kids and families to go outside, take a walk, and eat healthier, all trying to avoid this imaginary-but-possible future of having everything done for us all the time.

WALL-E was released in theaters at a time when people were, and still are, becoming more and more aware of all these issues.  It was meant to hit home for viewers that, though an extreme picture, the sort of things that happen in the movie could potentially happen on a smaller scale to us.  It’s a call to action.  The captain of the Axiom, the spaceship where all remaining humans lived, began to investigate and research.  “Computer, define dancing,” he once said.  After living 700 years in outer space he had no idea what dancing was.  He dug deeper and discovered all the wonderful things earth used to be and to have, things like farming and pizza, and he was not content to stay in space any longer, not while there was hope of returning to earth and starting fresh.  We need to be like that.  If we take it upon ourselves to protect the place we live, to research and to study, we can keep our home a safe and beautiful place.

In addition to the environmental side of the film, there is another side as well.  This film is full of emotion and magic, ideas grasped by people of all ages.  When we meet WALL-E, he has been living by himself for a very long time.  All the bots similar to him have broken and died.  He is alone.  When EVE comes to earth, searching for any sign of life, WALL-E is captivated.  He begins to follow EVE around, watching as she searches for any growing thing that could signify life is sustainable on earth again.  Eventually they meet, and he takes her back to his home, shows her where he lives and all the wonderful little things he collects.  When EVE realizes that WALL-E has found a small plant, proof that life can grow on earth again, she takes the plant into her own care…and promptly shuts down.  WALL-E, initially worried about her, continues to look after her in the following days and weeks.  He takes her touring through the abandoned city, although she can see none of it, he sits beside her gazing at the sunset, he holds umbrellas over her in the rain, and places her in the sunlight in the hopes that her batteries will charge in the sun and that she will wake up again.  All of this is driven by his one great desire: to hold EVE’s hand.  Touch is such a huge factor for humans.  Something so small and seemingly insignificant can mean more than anyone ever realizes and, although he isn’t human, the same holds true for WALL-E, the lonely little robot.  Throughout the movie he tries to tell her that that’s all he wants, though he’s shut down each time.  Finally, at the end of the film when it seems WALL-E has been lost, overcome by all he’s been through, it is EVE finally grasping his robot hand in hers that brings him back.

Audio was a huge part of the film.  Since the first half of the movie has almost no dialogue and there is little dialogue throughout, filmmakers had to rely heavily on sounds and sound effects.  Everything from the sound of the wind, to spaceships blasting off, the voices of the bots, not to mention the myriad of noises that WALL-E himself makes as he moves, bends, works, and speaks, every sound had to be found or created before it could be inserted into the film.

From the day it was released in theaters, WALL-E was almost unanimously popular.  It ranked in as the fifth best opening weekend for a Pixar film, at that time.  It was nominated for eighty-two awards and won forty-seven in total.  Among the wins was an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, a Golden Globe award for Best Animated Film, as well as the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Family Movie.  There were rumblings of dissent when WALL-E failed to earn a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Picture.  The only animated film to ever be nominated for the Best Picture award was Beauty and the Beast in 1991.  Despite being passed over for the Best Picture award, WALL-E received hefty ratings and was loved by just about everyone.

Although WALL-E is a gentle warning to be wary of the direction we as humans head in, it is also a reminder to be human.  We must remember to take care of the world, but equally we must remember to look out for one another, to dream, to stop and notice the small things in life, and to love.

Citations:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_accolades_received_by_WALL-E
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WALL-E
http://www.worldwatch.org/node/3915
http://pixar.wikia.com/WALL%E2%80%A2E_Awards
http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1820824,00.html