A place to indulge an affliction


If the Ayasofya was on HGTV…

Create a video taking us on a tour of somewhere you love or hate, providing commentary that points out the unusual in a tone distinct from most “tourist” videos.

I made a slight modification to the guidelines for the Sardonic Tours video assignment. Instead of narrating the video I made, I inserted captions instead. I must admit that the execution of this assignment was different from how I imagined it to be when I was planning it.  The video clip as well as the still photos included were taken during my 2012 birthday trip to Turkey, during which I visited the Hagia Sophia twice.  I could not tire of taking photographs inside . The 00:38 video clip was my starting point for this assignment and I supplemented it with some of my favorite photos.

Originally, I had thought to do an annoying voiceover of an interior decorator casting a critical eye inside the Hagia Sophia. However, I was in a time crunch and adding captions to the Windows Live Movie Maker project seemed faster. I found instrumental Turkish classical music by conducting a Google search for “Turkish classical music instrumental free download.” I downloaded an MP3 audio file from Stafa Band.  The music video is below:

Completing this assignment has made me realize that I need to review and edit those countless video clips I take during trips. If only I had the time to do it…



Darwin Award Honorable Mention

I repurposed this 02:55 clip from Charlie Chaplin’s 1928 film “The Circus” to create an anachronistic story about a mime who missed the ultimate Darwin Awards top prize. The criterion for the Darwin Awards follows:

“In the spirit of Charles Darwin, the Darwin Awards commemorate individuals who protect our gene pool by making the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives. Darwin Award winners eliminate themselves in an extraordinarily idiotic manner, thereby improving our species’ chances of long-term survival.”

Darwin Awards Honorable Mentions recognize individuals who survive their misadventures with their reproductive capacity intact.

I used the recommended site to download Charlie Chaplin’s The Circus from YouTube.

One of the challenges of this assignment was finding the appropriate foley for each segment of the clip. My method was to turn down the volume on the Chaplin video clip and then listen on SoundCloud to each of the submitted assignments to see if it married well with the segment.  To find the submitted assignments, I followed the tags listed on the Week 6 & 7 page. However, I found  that some of the SoundCloud submissions were not set to be downloaded. I found the fourth segment, 01:31 – 02:00 to be particularly challenging, as some of the submissions either did not have any sound or were not set to be downloaded.  I also discovered that while I had tagged my WordPress assignment submission, I didn’t apply the correct tag to the SoundCloud file, so that when it came to the fifth segment, I did not see my assignment listed. I immediately applied the correct tag (chaplin-lion-05), so it now shows and can be downloaded.

I saved each downloaded audio file with the segment in the file name (e.g., 0000-0030.mp3)

00:00-00:30 from klasalata

00:31 – 01:00 from mbutlerr

01:01 – 01:30 from dylangott1

01:31 – 02:00 from cbedross1

02:01 – 02:30 from cwyrough

02:31 – 02:55 from Kaitlyn Crotty

I used The Tokens’sThe Lion Sleeps Tonight” as the main soundtrack, which I downloaded from MP3Skull.  Because the entire song was shorter than the video clip, I supplemented it with several  trumpet audio files that I downloaded from FreeSound.  This was a good review exercise for using Audacity and working with the timeline and layers. Below is my Audacity screenshot:


The foley does not match up perfectly with each segment, but given that this is the first time I’ve used this application, I am satisfied with the results.

After finalizing the Audacity project as an mp3 file, I added it to the Windows Live Movie Maker project. I then added captions in select areas of the video clip. Below is a screenshot of the Movie Maker project:

Windows Live Movie Maker  screenshot

Windows Live Movie Maker screenshot

In keeping with the travel theme of this blog, here is a slideshow of my own Darwin Award-worthy lion encounter in southern Africa in 2011:

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You can’t handle the truth…of what happened to these characters!

For one of the video assignments, I thought it would be fun to complete Where are they now?

“Don’t you hate how some movies just leave you hanging!! Do you ever wonder what happens to the characters next? Well this is your chance to let the world know where they are today! Choose a movie and then create some type of video update on the characters current life. Use pictures, video clips, drawings; whatever you want and compile them into a video.”

I chose the end of the courtroom scene of A Few Good Men, although the video clip does not show all of the characters for whom I created a “where-are-they-now?” story.

I used to download the A Few Good Men video clip from YouTube.  Then I searched for photos and videos using Google. I selected the actors that I knew had a diversity of work post-A Few Good Men. This made it easy to make up a “where-are-they-now?” story.  See matrix below:

Actor Character Where are they now? Movie/Video Clip Source
Kevin Bacon CAPT Jack Ross Became an astronaut and flew with Forrest Gump to establish first colony on Saturn Apollo 13
Tom Cruise LT Daniel Kaffee Couldn’t contain his happiness at being exonerated from “..f+++g the wrong Marine” and jumped on Oprah’s couch. Decided to become a rock star Oprah and Rock of Ages
Demi Moore LCDR Joanne Galloway Had an affair with an enlisted sailor and was kicked off the Navy JAG Corps N/A
Jack Nicholson COL Nathan R. Jessup Still in jail and mad for not being able to “piss on [Kaffee’s] dead skull.” The Shining and Batman
Kevin Pollak LT Sam Weinberg Became a professional poker player N/A.
Keifer Sutherland LT Jonathan Kendrick Bitten by a banana rat and became a vampire. Feeds off detainees in Guantanamo Bay. The Lost Boys

Before I went on my first trip to Guantanamo Bay, I kept getting asked whether I had seen A Few Good Men. I had only seen it once before and the first scene that always came to mind is Jack Nicholson yelling, “You can’t handle the truth!” For this assignment, I wanted to pick a different clip, not that one. I’ve seen the movie a few more times and it is inextricably linked to my memories of Guantanamo Bay. Here are a few of my favorite photos:

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I needed a lot of sense(s) for this assignment

For this assignment, I chose a clip from Pearl Harbor titled “We Got a Large Haze“:

I have seen this movie multiple times and in 2012, I had the privilege of visiting the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Historical Monument on O’ahu, Hawai’i. As such, I felt I had more than enough context to complete an analysis of this 3:44-minute video clip:


Cinematic Technique/Camera Angle Used How does the cinematic technique tell/guide the story?
00:00 – 00:15 High angle shot showing an island beneath the clouds during daybreak. Scene transitions to a young Asian man who places his head on his hands. Scene then transitions to a religious shrine with candles. An object has Chinese characters. The high angle of the daybreak shot as well as the shot of the religious objects convey spirituality and closeness to a higher being intertwined with the mission
00:16 – 00:30 Panoramic traveling shot of a roomful of young men getting dressed. Camera focuses on a young man sitting at a desk with paper and writing instrument in front of him. Scene cuts to a young Asian military officer with a fierce expression waving through a group of running airmen. Scene switches to a liquid being poured into a drinking bowl. The panoramic traveling shot and the switches show that this is story is both of one person and an entire nation
00:31 – 00:45 Camera shot of military personnel toasting with the drinking bowl. Military personnel are shown putting on bandannas emblazoned with the Japanese flag. Camera pans to a scene showing weapons being transported and loaded to aircraft, and senior military officials overseeing this process. Cinematic techniques convey that the operation shown has been planned in advance and being executed with ceremony and precision
00:46 – 01:00 Close up shots of the propellers and long shots fighter plans set the stage for an impending air attack Use of frantic zoom foreshadows military action involving airplanes
01:01 – 01:15 A pilot wearing the Japanese flag headband is shown inside his plane giving a “ready”signal. A plane is shown taking off from an aircraft carrier. Another plane is show taking off to sea Cinematic techniques clearly show that attack planes are being launched from the sea (via aircraft carriers)
01:16 – 01:30 Panoramic traveling shots of more fighter planes taking off from the aircraft carrier. Horizontal panning of a fleet of Japanese fighter planes flying past the entire length of the aircraft carrier. A pilot is shown flying past the rising sun. Horizontal panning shows the might of the Japanese Navy. Shot of pilot with the rising sun in the background is symbolic of the Japanese flag where the red disc represents the sun
01:31 – 01:45 Long take of the fleet of Japanese fighter planes flying through clouds. A zolly was used to show a coastal hillside from overhead and then a group of naval ships anchored on a bay. Long take of a sailor in dress whites sitting on coiled rope on a sailing ship in front of an American flag. Cinematic technique tells the story of an impending surprise attack from the air
01:46 – 02:00 Long take of a man in a motorcycle approaching a mountainside doorway. Zoom in to a roomful of men in front of radio equipment. Rapid zoom of airplanes in the clouds, an instrument panel, and Caucasian man sitting in front of an instrument panel while on the phone. Long track shot of Japanese fighter planes in air and American fighter planes parked on the ground. Cinematic technique contrasts previous scene of tranquility (and unreadiness) with scene of military personnel monitoring operations around the island in a hidden location. Contrasting scenes of Japanese attack planes in the air and U.S. military planes parked on the ground.
02:01 – 02:15 Tracking shot of a military man at his desk. He is speaking on the phone held in one hand while his other hand moves a chess piece on the table. His feet are propped up on the desk. He takes his feet off the desk , sits up, sets the telephone handset on his should, turns around to take a clipboard, reads the clipboard, looks up. Low angle shot of Japanese fighter planes. Cinematic technique shows a person who is unconcerned and relaxed in their office, despite the short moment where tension is infused in the scene
02:16 – 02:30 Rapid zoom of the men in the radio room talking, marking the instrument panel, fighter planes in the air, and men playing golf. A Jeepful of military men arrive on the golf course. A man dressed in Navy brown uniform jumps out from one of the Jeeps and salutes one of the golfers. Quick zoom of fighter planes in the air. Cinematic techniques employed   show the relaxed atmosphere on the island and among leadership (the salute conveys that the golfer is an important man)
02:31 – 02:45 Military man in brown Navy uniform continues to speak to the golfer he saluted earlier as a tracking shot of fighter planes flying over water is shown. High angle shot of a person typing on a typewriter. The words “REFUSAL TO COMPROMISE” are typed across a tape. A worried looking, middle-aged Caucasian man wearing glasses reads the tape. Cinematic techniques convey that news of an impending attack is reaching U.S. military leaders
02:46 – 03:00 Zoom in to a young Caucasian man in Navy uniform with a headset typing and the words, “PEACE TALKS USEL…” are typed across a tape. Close up and quick zoom shots of the middle-aged man reading the tape; a telephone handset being picked up; the man, now without his glasses, speaking on the phone; the young Navy man continuing to type and the middle-aged man continuing to speak on the phone. Cinematic techniques introduces new characters in the drama personified by a junior and senior U.S. military officer
03:01 – 03:15 Zoom in shot of the middle-aged man continuing to talk on the phone. High angle shot of a single Japanese fighter plane over water, with shadows of other planes nearby. Close up shot of the wing of the fighter plane showing the Japanese flag. Low angle shot of the Jeep pulling in front of a building. The golfer jumps out of the vehicle and tracking shot is used as he walks rapidly toward the building. He is met and saluted by another military man in brown uniform and handed a piece of paper. Interchanging shots of the major players in the drama make rounds out the story, emphasizing how the U.S. military was unprepared for the attack by the Japanese military
03:16 – 03:30 Tracking shot of the golfer as he continues to stare at the piece of paper. He stops walking and camera zooms in as he looks up with a worried expression. He turns to speak to the man in the brown uniform. Camera zooms in to a black and white photo of a naval ship captioned in Japanese characters and Roman letters underneath it that reads, “U.S.S. Oklahoma.” There is also another black and white photograph of an Asian woman placed to the upper left of the ship photograph. Low angle shot, then zoom in of the Japanese pilot wearing the bandanna and looking determined. Cinematic technique of zooms and tracking shot clearly shows that the Japanese attack planes have assigned targets
03:31 – 03:43 Long take, tracking shot of island underneath white clouds, with a group of fighter planes swarming towards it Aerial shot of the island reminds brings the clip to full circle as it reminds the viewer of the aerial shot of the island at the beginning of the clip. This time, the Japanese fighter planes are shown descending on the island as a group, instead of taking off individually from the aircraft carrier. The shot intensifies the drama and creates a feeling of impending disaster.


Audio Track Analyses

For the audio track analyses, I let the video clip run in the background as I had a Word document on screen. I noted the audio elements I heard in the Word document. When listing out the dialogue below, I used Navy acronyms: ADM for Admiral; CDR for Commander; and LT for Lieutenant. Through various audio elements such as human voices and mechanical sounds, the story of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor unfolds. There were a few things that I missed when I viewed the clip with the sound off that were clarified for me when the audio elements were turned on. The dialogue revealed hierarchy of the various people and the locations of the scenes.

The clip begins with flute music which fades to the background as a male accented voice speaks in English about destiny, honor, and service to the nation:

“Revered Father, I go now to fulfill my mission and my destiny. I hope it is a destiny that will bring honor to our family. And if it requires my life, I will sacrifice it gladly to be a good servant of our nation.”

Background music switches to drums beating and male voices yelling. Steady beating drum. Engines revving, music escalates, propellers and planes taking off. The drum beats fade away.

Male voice with an American accent, states uncertainly,  “Hey I’ve got a large haze. Propellers That’s too big to be planes, right?”   This is intertwined with increasing sound of propellers.

Male voice with American accent speaks in English, “Is that what you want to do? Knight to knight 5. Boom. Wrong move! “ Sound of small object being moved on a desk.

Another male voice in American accent urgently states, “Lieutenant, radar’s picking up a large return moving in from the northeast. “

LT: “Relax! A flight of B17s is coming in from the mainland.”

More propellers .

Male voice with American accent states in English, “That’s a heck of a lot of B17s.”

Golf ball being hit. “Good shot, Hot”  Sound of a vehicle slowing down and braking.

This better be good, Commander.”

CDR: “One of our destroyers reports having fired and sunk enemy submarine attempting to enter Pearl Harbor at 0653.”

ADM: “It’s 7:20 [a.m.]”

CDR: “We had decoding delays, Admiral.”

ADM: “Relay this to Washington. Recall the staff.”

The sound of propellers and flying planes gets louder then fades.  Sound switches to mechanical typing .

Male voice in American accent reads, “Failure. Peace talks useless.”

Handset being picked up. Male voice in American accent states urgently,  “Thurman here. Tokyo transmitting to their embassy in Washington: ‘Discontinue use of your decoding machine and dispose of immediately. Special emphasis on destroying important parts.’ Do you read that? Acknowledge!”

High-tension music. Propellers. Overland vehicle parking.

Breathless American male voice states, “Admiral, Naval Intel intercepted a transmission to Tokyo from their embassy in Washington instructing to break apart all decoder machines and burn all secret documents.”

ADM: “Japanese are expecting a war. Should we?”

Increasing sound of airplanes and high-tension music. Video clip ends.

“We Got a Large Haze” Analyses

With both auditory and visual senses engaged at the same time, I was able to get a more powerful story from the video clip. When I only had either one of these two senses engaged, I missed some parts of the story. For example, without any sounds or dialogue, I could not distinguish the ranks for the American military, nor could I place some of the scenes in context. Without any visual, the sounds tended to mix together and if I had not viewed the video clip beforehand, the sounds alone would not have told me a coherent story. Because of my previous viewing of the video clip, I was able to associate the sounds to scenes I remembered from the viewing.

When I viewed the entire clip with both audio and video elements, the story was more intense for me:

  • In the beginning of the clip, when you hear the accented English saying, “Revered father…” and you see a young man put his head on his hands as if in supplication and the camera pans to altar-like table, you wonder if he is praying to a God he is calling father or if he is addressing his parent. Only later on, when the accented voice mentions “…honor to our family…” and you see a young man writing at a desk do you realize that the “father” being addressed is a parent.
  • The scene that shows young Japanese air men running, torpedoes being loaded onto planes, the ceremonial toast, and senior military officials overseeing the activities is immediately preceded by the accented voice ending his letter with , “And if it requires my life, I will sacrifice it gladly to be a good servant of our nation.”
  • Interchanging shots served to provide a contrast between scenes and emphasized how well-planned the Japanese attack was and how unprepared the Americans were.
  • The scene immediately preceding the Jeep arriving at the military headquarters was of a Japanese plane in the air and the mechanical sound of the propellers blended in to the mechanical sound of the Jeep slowing down and braking. I would liken this to the “match cut” camera technique.

By turning off the audio the first time I viewed the clip and then not looking at the video when I listened to the clip, I was able to notice more of the audio and video elements used. As a result, I appreciated the techniques used when I viewed the entire clip with both video and audio elements.

In keeping with the travel/history theme of this blog, below is a slideshow of the photos I took during my 2012 visit to O’ahu. The slideshow includes photos of the USS Oklahoma Memorial. The USS Oklahoma is depicted in the video as being target of one of the Japanese attack planes, as shown in 03:24 – 03:25 of the clip:

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Gaining Cinematic Technique Literacy

All story is manipulation…

-from Ken Burns:On Story

I admit that I’ve never really thought much of cinematic techniques in play when watching movies, nor how much I have been manipulated into liking a movie through these techniques (e.g., such as orienting the viewer).  This DS106 section on “Reading Movies” has been an eye-opener. I feel I’ve gained some literacy in cinematic techniques! Of the 12 short videos on filmmaking, I watched the following five:

I found Kubrick’s one-point perspective interesting and creepy at the same time. The one-point perspective is when the movie is seen from one perspective, the viewer’s. As the viewer, I felt that I was the only static entity there; everything else happened around me. It gave me a feeling of helplessness and being out of control, as the camera angle seemed to trap me in place and I could not move to avoid uncomfortable scenes. I appreciate how effective this technique is  in making creepy movies. I have not seen many of Kubrick’s work but from what I’ve read about him (in websites and magazines, not movies :-)), this is just the type of cinematic technique he would employ.

I may be the last person on earth who has not seen The Shining. I have seen stills of the movie, especially that iconic one of Jack Nicholson peering through a crack in the door, but I have not seen the entire movie. As such, without context from the story, I could not appreciate the zooms employed as cinematic technique in the montage I watched.

I enjoyed viewing both the Top 20 Cinematic Techniques and the Camera Angles and Techniques videos.  Both provided me as a view with different perspectives, however the terms cinematic technique terms included assumed that one was familiar with them. I had to look each of them up to fully appreciate the value they added to the films. I did a Google search and found the following resources helpful:

I selected only six of the 20 videos from Top 20 Cinematic Techniques to analyze below, specifically, the movies I had previously scene, having the context helped me appreciate the cinematic techniques employed the selected scene:

Film Technique/Camera Angle Value
Children of Men (2006) Long Take, Doggicam With the doggicam technique, the camera moves freely 360 degrees and shows the rioting on the street from the perspective of each of the four characters trapped in the car. The camera also allows the view to see each of the character’s reaction to the chaos.
Children of Men (2006) Long Take, Tracking Shot The tracking shot allows the view to see the chaotic scenery from the perspective of one character (Clive Owen) as he observes first from a window, then through a doorway, until he eventually unsteadily crosses the street while dodging danger.
Ato)nement (2007 Long Take, Steadicam With the steadicam technique, the camera becomes the perfect observer as it moves freely like a person through a scene. However, unlike the doggicam, the movement is one-directional. The long take in this scene shows the landscape.   Because of the steadicam, instead of focusing on the two characters walking forward, the viewer’s eyes (and emotions) are riveted towards the background scene where the horses are being shot point-blank
Star Wars IV (1977) Extreme Establishing Shot Shows the “distance” the spacecraft, the Millenium Falcon, traveled, past a few planets. One shot shows Earth (blue planet) in the distance then the planet gets larger. The Millenium Falcon enters earth, hover over Tikal National Park in Guatemala, and landing by a Mayan pyramid
Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (2001) Establishing Shot The scene shows Hobbiton, with the sun shining and a gentle breeze blowing over its green hills, as Gandalf arrives at Frodo Baggins’s house. It establishes Hobbiton as an idyllic place that Frodo will eventually leave to go on his quest.
Cowboys and Aliens(2011) Pan The camera pans through a chaparral landscape that seems abandoned (completed by audio of insects) and the viewer is lulled into thinking that it is a peaceful scene, until Daniel Craig’s character is jolted awake (and so is the viewer)


In April 2009, I visited the Tik’al Mayan ruins in El Peten, Guatemala. The national park’s claim to fame has always been being in Star Wars IV (see 01:35-02:04 of the Top 20 Cinematic Techniques video). Having been on the same spot on top of Temple IV as that Rebel in 01:57-02:01 of the  video, I can further appreciate the cinematography involved. Those ledges are narrow! I’m sure George Lucas and his film crew used all sorts to equipment to get the camera shots they wanted. What damage to pre-Columbian Mayan temples caused by modern equipment during filming, I hope was offset by the fact that Tikal National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979, two years after Star Wars IV was released. I’d like to believe that the film contributed to Tikal being listed. If George Lucas had used the wrong cinematic technique, would it have taken Tikal National Park a few more years to make it to the UNESCO World Heritage list?

Film and Travel is a great site that highlights places around the world that have been featured in TV and movies. There’s a post on Star Wars IV and Tikal National Park, but I thought I’d post my own photos to this blog:

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How did I get so lucky…

…to work on a class assignment while at one of my favorite places in the world? Here’s me jumping for joy when I visited Joshua Tree National Park this week, for the first time in over a decade.

Jumping for joy at Joshua Tree National Park

Jumping for joy at Joshua Tree National Park

I consider myself a perpetual work in progress in the photography department, so I didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity to try and re-try some of these tips while I was in Twentynine Palms, CA on business travel. Joshua Tree National Park is full of happy memories for me,  of camping and hiking with friends. So,  it was with great pleasure to visit again (after a 10 year hiatus since moving to the East Coast). Armed with my camera (and iPhone as back up) and many of the photography tips offered in this assignment, I set off late one afternoon to this wonderland. I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I did taking them:

1. Foregound/Background Contrast (credit: Eight Great Techniques for Great Photographs)


Joshua tree in the foreground of boulders lit by the setting sun (April 2, 2014)

Joshua tree in the foreground of boulders lit by the setting sun (April 2, 2014)

Sunsets are magical at Joshua Tree National Park. The trees take on an even more mystical air against the backdrop of a setting sun. In the photo above, the setting sun gave the boulders in the background dramatic colors. In the photo below, the setting sun is the backdrop for the joshua trees:
Sunset over Jumbo Rocks Campground

Sunset over Jumbo Rocks Campground

2. Framing (credit: Eight Great Techniques for Great Photographs)

Petroglyphs framed by native flora

Petroglyphs framed by native flora

Joshua tree in mirror is not closer than it appears

Car side mirror frames silhouette of Joshua trees

A Joshua tree frames another  in the distance

A Joshua tree frames another in the distance

I took a few shots experimenting with having things in the park frame others. The petroglyphs in the first photo are framed by the rock wall was well as the surrounding bush. The silhouette of the Joshua trees in the second photo are framed by the car side mirror, as I was leaving the park. The branches of a Joshua tree frame the other Joshua trees in the distance, as well as the boulders lit by the setting sun.

3. Perspective (credit: Eight Great Techniques for Great Photographs)

Looking up a Joshua tree from the perspective of a cholla bush

Looking up a Joshua tree from the perspective of a cholla bush

Up close and prickly with desert flowers

Up close and prickly with desert flowers

I had a couple of prickly misadventures during my effort to shoot photos from a different perspective. I had to crouch down and get very close to a cholla bush and was pricked by a neighboring cacti in the process. But it was worth it to get the photo of looking up at the Joshua tree.