Wednesday 11/28 – Andrew

In class this Wednesday we were visited by Professor Diaz, a film professor at CSI. She gave a lecture about cinematography which briefly covered a broad spectrum of things related to film making. Her lecture and powerpoint were chock full of a lot of information that was new to me. I’ve never really studied the mechanics behind film making, and I have to say, it’s incredible how much careful thought and hard work go into a film. Its hard to believe that nearly every decision involved in the movie making process all lands on the director. Seems like a very stressful job.

Some things I found interesting about film making included the screen ratio in which the movie is filmed, for instance Manhattan is filmed in a wide format, to help accentuate and bring the long New York skyline to life. Camera angles and distance is also very important. They both help to shape the scene by changing the way we perceive what is on screen. If a director shoots a character looking up to them, the audience may see that character as a mighty, powerful being who towers over them. The lighting is essential to any film, as it can change the emotions felt by the audience entirely, at certain times. It may also symbolize underlying feelings, problems, or anything that is not directly stated. In Manhattan, we see Isaac’s very dark apartment with Tracy sitting on the couch with the only source of light on her. This can symbolize how she is the only beacon of love, happiness, and light in Isaac’s life. This was just one of the clever insights pointed out to us by Professor Diaz. She also made us aware of all the objects in the background of the movie that “separate” Isaac from people like his ex-wife and Mary as their relationship quickly crumbles. The professor gave me some interesting new tools to use when watching movies to more deeply immerse myself in the story, and possibly discover what the director wanted the audience to notice.


During Wednesday’s seminar class, we were privileged to have Professor Diaz speak to us about film and all the effort that is invested in movie-making.  I have been told in my previous schools that movies are a waste of time and distracting, and so I found it interesting to see that movies can be a form of art in many ways.  Just like artists have a reason behind every brush stroke, and a poem contains meaning beneath every word, there can be a deeper significance behind the different aspects of a movie that contribute to its meaning.

Firstly, the use of black and white, or color quality, is often symbolic.  In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy leaves the drab black-and -white Kansas to enter the vibrant, colorful Oz.  Another example of this can be the older version of The Secret Garden; when I was forced to watch this with my grandmother, I noticed that most of the movie was filmed in black and white, but Mary’s garden was colorful.  This clever technique makes the garden seem special and exotic.  The movie Manhattan was also filmed in black and white.  When I first saw the movie, I thought that the use of black and white made the city seem grand.  It is said that people often dream in black and white, and so the lack of color gives New York a dream-like quality.  However, in class we spoke about how color can be distracting and so the use of black and white got the point of the movie  across more effectively.

Furthermore, the zoom of the lens contributes to the emotions  and feeling of the film.  Long shots were used to show where the characters are, and there was a medium zoom when the characters were having an intimate dinner.  During emotional parts of the movie, the camera shoots close up.  This allows the audience to connect to the character’s feelings and witness his facial expressions.  When Isaac broke up with Tracy, the cameras zoom in on her face so we are able to focus on her pain exclusively.

I hope that I will be able to use the information that we discussed in class to analyze the movies that I will watch in the future.  I realize that movies do not have to be a waste of time, and can be considered art, just like any painting or poem.

November 28th, 2012

On Wednesday in class, Professor Diaz came and discussed different film techniques and how they were used in the movie “Manhattan”.  The idea of diegetic and non-diegetic sound was very interesting to me because very often I find myself paying close attention to the soundtrack of a film that I am watching.  In the movie “Remember the Titans” the final football game has an orchestral score by Trevor Rabin which I fell in love with after seeing the film.  I found it interesting how film had to completely change to accommodate the introduction of sound to moving picture.  This issue was directly addressed in the musical “Singing in the Rain” staring Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds.  My two favorite parts of this film deal with the issues that arose as the film industry moved away from silent films.  The first scene, was when they show the film for the first time.  They quickly realized that actors who are accustomed to working in Silent films may not be able to make the transition to movies with sound. Singing in the Rain.  My second favorite scene in this musical is at the end when they reveal that Lina Lamont isn’t really singing her songs, and that Kathy is the true star of the film. Sining in the Rain.  When I first saw this movie I didn’t understand that the problems which they were dealing with, were very common issues which came with advances in film.  It was interesting to see the technical side of the movies which I know and love.  I think that it is interesting how directors can use little things like the angle of the camera to control the emotion which the audience feels.

Wednesday- Cinema

In Wednesday’s seminar class, we had a guest professor speak to us about everything there is to know about cinema. We had already learned what miss-en-scene was in a previous class, and I was eager to follow up on learning all about what goes into producing a movie. Honestly, before the lecture, I couldn’t think of much more that went into making a movie besides the actors and the storyline. The most important aspects of the film can go largely unnoticed if you don’t pay attention to them, but if they weren’t there, the movie wouldn’t be the same.

First, we spoke about aspect ratio, which is basically the size of the shot. Woody Allen chose to film in a wide (cinema) aspect ratio to emphasize long panoramic shots, such as the opening scene where Isaac is giving his monologue while we get a beautiful view of the Manhattan skyline that sets the scene for the rest of the movie. Different sized shots are used for different purposes. For example, a long shot would be used to place accent on someone’s entire body, or rather to not place specific accent on anything. Conversely, a close up shot would place very specific attention to a person’s facial expression.

Lighting is also a big part of making a movie, as it sets what I call the “silent mood” of the film. This is how we feel when we watch the movie, whether it be anxious, comfortable, or even sad. This is not set by dialogue, but by the lighting of the shot. If a horror movie had soft lighting and no contrast, it wouldn’t make us feel anxious at all; we could be watching a romantic comedy for all we knew. What distinguishes something like a horror movie from something else is the fact that we feel anxious and scared, even when a character is just walking down a hallway. High contrast and lots of shadows puts focus on the main character, or the demon/killer, while shadows let our imagination run wild.

Music also greatly affects the feeling of a film a way in which dialogue can’t. Picture the cliché scene in a horror movie where the character is walking towards the door to see what lies on the other side. Now, usually when we walk towards any door in our house, our heart is not beating with anticipation and suspense. Ominous, non-diegetic music in the film, that rises in volume as the person gets closer, makes us feel suspense and fear, while diegetic screams in the distance, or an out of tune piano being played, complete the feeling.

There are countless other things we spoke about on Wednesday, and I was really impressed by how much I didn’t realize went in to making a film.

Corinna 11-28-12

On Wednesday we had a guest speaker come in to talk to us about mise-en-scene and its use in Manhattan.  Professor Diaz seemed to have covered everything. She was prepared, and had a number of examples to help make her points clear.  One example that I enjoyed looking at was how characters would appear under certain light, which included key light, fill light, and back light.  I would have never known how different the characters appeared under each light without being presented with visuals. I also thought it was a good idea to make examples out of other films besides Manhattan.  When Professor Diaz was talking about canted angles being used when things are getting rough for the characters in the scene, Inception seemed like the perfect example.  This lecture really did help me better understand mise-en-scene and its importance in cinema. I never realized how much thought needed to go into the making of a film, and how much every decision, like which light to use, mattered.

Although I’d have to admit that many of the aspects we went over were not of much interest to me, there were certain ones that I was genuinely interested in.  Discussing different types of lenses was my favorite part of Wednesday’s seminar class.  I myself have a DSLR camera, and really enjoy taking and looking at pictures.  I have actually been looking for a new lense to add to my collection, so I knew a little bit about what the professor was talking about.  She added a few details about certain lenses that I was less familiar with, which I loved hearing about.

Overall, I found this class to be very informative and I feel as though next time I watch a movie I will know exactly what to look for and therefore get more out of the film.

Seminar Class 11/28/12

On wednesday, Professor Kahan invited a guest speaker to our class to discuss cinema and the aspects of putting a movie together. Our guest speaker was Professor Diaz and she teaches Cinema at CSI. Since I do not watch a lot of movies, I did not think I was going to enjoy the discussion. However, everything that Professor Diaz taught us was extremely interesting. There were even some aspects about movie making that I never knew existed.

The main theme of Professor Diaz’s discussion was based on the idea of mis-en-scene, the arrangement of people, places, and objects in a movie.  One part of the movie Manhattan where the mis-en-scene was very interesting was when Isaac and Mary were in Isaac’s apartment. Professor Diaz described that the wall barriers between Isaac and Mary was a form of mis-en-scene to foreshadow their separation due to their weak relationship. I thought it was really creative for the directors to use mis-en-scene in such a sneaky way.

Professor Diaz also showed the class various youtube videos on the creation of different sounds for movies. This truly amazed me. I never knew the different creative ways people made audio for the movie. One example shown in the video was how the dinosaur eggs cracked in the movie Jurassic Park. They used an ice cream cone to make the sound of the egg cracking and they also mushed a cantaloupe to make the sound of the substance inside the egg. It sounded perfectly! This was so cool to watch!

I actually really enjoyed Professor Diaz’s discussion. She helped me realize all of the work that is put into a movie to make it a great form of entertainment. Now, whenever I watch a movie, I will pay close attention to the small details that I never payed attention to before.



Today, Professor Diaz came in to talk about cinema. One pretty interesting thing Professor Diaz mentioned was that movies are just a bunch of pictures that are played at a fast speed, sort of like a flipbook. It is pretty amazing thinking about movies in that way. I really enjoyed her lecture because she taught us how to analyze all films. Even though I wasn’t too fond of Manhattan, I can respect why other people enjoy it through the mise-en-scéne.

During the analysis of Manhattan, I noticed so many things that I wasn’t paying attention to and missed when I watched it for the first time in class. I thought it was clever that the background was used to show how Isaac was separated from the other characters. Something so small as a picture frame shows Isaac’s separation from the other characters during the dinner scene in the beginning. The empty spaces in the scenes reflect the questions the characters don’t want to address such as “What is the meaning of life?” and “Is there a God?” These observations made me think of the movie in a deeper, more intellectual way that I didn’t before.

Today’s lecture has taught me that I can use everything in a movie to back up my opinion about it. Everything in the movie is put there, for a reason, just like the details in a novel so, anything can be used to support or refute an argument. I think this is why you begin to notice more and more about a movie each time you watch it. I know after today’s class I will be looking at every little detail in a movie to use as backup for my opinion.

-Amber G


Today, we learned about the ton of aspects of a movie’s mis-en-scene. We learned that we could use the many details in a film to argue our interpretation of it. There are way too many aspects for me to go into with this blog because we looked at so many aspects and we looked at a lot of different film clips from Manhattan to show how these aspects were employed, such as the camera choice of the movie, the lighting, different things in the background.

One that interested me the most was that there are so many little details that a director puts into a movie that the audience bypasses. One example of this is the separation of characters in scenes by very thin lines in the background that appear between them. This was seen in Manhattan when Mary and Yale were at the mall and you can see the very fine line separating them, while in the apartment scene with Issac and Mary they were separated by entire rooms. These details foreshadowed the distance in their relationships and showed who would end up being together in the end.

Important lighting was shown in the a scene in his Issac’s old apartment where there is a light shining directly on Tracy while the rest of the scene is dark, which shows her importance and foreshadow them being together. The movie was filmed in cinemascope in order to get the whole view of Manhattan’s skyline and emphasize the city’s beauty and importance. What really interested me too and it was something that I would have never picked up on was the fact that in every scene, the characters are off center to be symbolic of certain things. This is a employed a lot in Woody Allen movies. For example, the scene with Yale and his wife, is shot with them off center which symbolizes their off balance relationship and their off balance morals.

11/28/12-Professor Diaz-Ariana Z.

In yesterday’s seminar, we had a wonderful cinema lecture presented by Professor Diaz. I enjoy learning about cinema and love to hear about new symbols and their representation in different films, so this particular lecture enticed me. One thing I particularly preferred were the clips Professor Diaz used to provide examples for each new term. With the film The Birds I was quite intrigued by the suspense created by the classical cutting used. I have also recently discovered the ingenuity of Hitchcock films and the symbolism he has for every aspect of their mise en scene. When I get the chance I want to definitely watch this film.

In Orson Welles A Touch of Evil a long take was meant to create suspense, which it truly did for me. Compared to Citizen Kane’s low angle shots this scene showed how versatile Welles can be with his lenses and camera movement. The short film Professor Diaz showed was quite funny in the way that the setting was one place yet so many different characters entered and left the frame. At one point it even looked like the first character flew into the wall. The director used editing not for narrative purposes but for magic tricks. I seem to like the Orson Welles use of continuity editing, though, because it makes you feel more like you are one with the scene. Though most of the scene consisted a crane shot, you truly felt like you were an onlooker to the plot of the film and you were worried about when the bomb was going to go off. I also think that continuity editing gives the actors more of a challenge. It calls for less room for error and it seems to make the acting appear more real. I know that most soap operas have long shots. With a new script for every day’s episode I think that though they may not be the most famous actors they are some of the most talented.

Ultimately, I see how much film relates to recent history. By this, I mean that film can really be a time capsule of the time period they are from and create a perfect example of the time epoch of when it was created. This is evident from the transformations from black and white to hand tinted to Technicolor and now the development of three-dimensional films. The evolution from simply having music in the background to live sound also shows how much technology as well as the world has evolved.

November 28, 2012

On Wednesday, Professor Kahan invited Professor Diaz into our seminar class to give us a brief background on cinematography, and to analyze the Woody Allen film Manhattan. Professor Diaz started off discussing Mise-en-scène, and the different aspects that go into creating the great illusions on screen that we call a movie. When you think about it, a movie is really all smoke and mirrors. After all is said is done, it is only two people on a set having a conversation. If you take that scene, add some music, an awesome backdrop, cool camera angles, and the proper lighting, you have yourself a movie!

First, we started off discussing the different aspect ratios. Older films had an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, which is what most square TV and computer monitors use. (That is why you see those messages in the beginning of movies saying, “This film has been formatted to fit your screen.”) In modern years, we moved into the widescreen ratio of 1.85:1, which is the common US widescreen cinema standard. However, Manhattan was not filmed in either of those aspects. It was filmed in 2.39:1, which gave an even wider picture, and enabled you to fit more into the frame. Allen wanted to give this wider view of Manhattan, and he just couldn’t do that with 1.85:1.

Next, we moved onto angles. There are several different types of angles, including an extreme long (most of the scenes in Manhattan were filmed using this angle,) long shots to display the entire body, medium or conversational, and finally close up and extreme close up. Most TV stations use wide shots to display the two anchors sitting at the news desk, and then cut to a close up when either one of them are discussing a specific story. One of the things that I found very interesting is the “180 degree rule.” This rule states that when filming, the camera must stay on the one side of this imaginary line called the “axis of action.”

Think about this scenario. Two people are sitting across from each other at a table. When we look at the face of character 1, we look over the left shoulder of character 2. When we move to look at character 2, you have to look over character 1’s right shoulder now. Why? If you don’t follow this rule, you will confuse the viewers in terms of their orientation to the characters. Now all of a sudden, it seems that the characters are inverted. When I got home last night, I was watching a re-run of a TNT show called “Leverage.” As two characters were having a conversation at a bar, the camera angles always stayed the same in terms of their placement, except for a wide shot. It is something that seems so logical to do, yet, it is actually a camera rule. Get that.

Finally, Professor Diaz started her analysis of Manhattan. She began with the opening scene. She explained that Isaac’s (Woody Allen) monologue over the scenes of Manhattan set up the rest of the movie in terms of its themes and plot. Two major themes are the decay of morals (40 year old man dating a 17 year old, adultery, etc.) and the upper class people losing their morality.

As I was listening to Professor Diaz and replaying the movie over in my head, a great analysis came to my mind. Allen’s purpose of Manhattan was to create a tribute to 1930’s culture in Manhattan, using the old music, the black and white film, etc. Yet, he wrote in characters that are foils to this whole concept. We have Yale cheating on his wife with Mary, Isaac dating a 17 year old and later Mary at the same time, and the list goes on. One of the things that I still don’t understand is why Allen created the juxtaposing of these two time period and morals.