Look, Listen, Analyze: Pirates of the Caribbean

“You will now analyze the clip by watching it three times, in different ways.” I chose the scene called Escape (4th scene) by the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

  1. Analyze the camera work. “Before watching the first time, turn the volume on the clip (or on your computer) all the way down. Take notes on the visual aspects of the clip.” I love this movie and I think the film work on this movie is great! The camera angles were perfect. In the beginning of the clip (you can click the link provided above on the movie name) you see Captain Jack Sparrow on top of a carriage and the camera is at a low angle him looking up at him and looking down on everyone else. This portrays Jack as a dominant character. According to Roger Ebert’s article How to Read a Movie, “Extreme high angle shots make characters into pawns; low angles make them into gods.” The light was mostly consistent the whole clip. The light did a great job clearly showing the characters and objects in the clip. During the clip I didn’t notice any shadows. The camera switches view quite a few times; I tried to count and concluded that the camera gets just about every angle of Jack (the main character). Transitions from people and places were quick but they flowed well with what was happening in the clip. The camera guides the story very well. Jack’s Escape scene is fun, exciting, and thrilling! The camera mostly did close up shots during this clip. The characters were great actors and the film maker definitely knew what he/she was doing.
  2. Analyze the audio track. “Now turn the volume up, but play it without looking at the screen (or turn off the screen); just listen to the audio.” There was very little dialogue during this clip. This clip was dominated by sounds and music. The little dialogue the clip had contained good pacing and spaces in the audio. The music helped make the action and events taking place flow. Just by listening to the audio, you can tell what was going on in the clip. It was incredible! I didn’t realize that, just by listening alone, you can follow along with the story line and you can imagine what was going on. The music really intensified the scene’s exciting mood.
  3. Put it all together. “Finally, watch the scene as normal. Pay attention to something you may have missed the first time or how the elements you saw in the first two steps work together. Did you notice anything new by minimizing one of your senses?” The video and audio elements from this scene work very well together. They both compliment one another when you watch the movie with both sound and video. The interesting but great thing is that without each other, you can still understand what is happening in the scene! I never realized how well you could follow along with a movie using only hearing or sight. “The way the scene is shot builds the story element.” The one thing I noticed from watching it a third time was at the end, the typical Pirates of the Caribbean song (or close to it) plays. This theme song of theirs is typically played during action scenes, such as the scene Escape. Also, towards the end of the clip when he is driving the coal carriage, Jack is on the right and the driver who ends up jumping off is on the left. According to Roger Ebert’s article, “in a two-shot, the person on the right will “seem” dominant over the person on the left.” In the case of this film, Ebert’s theory is true because Jack is the dominant character and takes over the driver’s carriage.

Cinematic Techniques: Summarize three videos

Stanley Kubrick // One-Point Perspective: Kubrick’s short video is all about having a center focus. It has a lot to do with symmetry in a film shot. This symmetry draws the viewer’s eyes to the center and main focus of the picture. This video had music, no sound, and very short clips from (what looks like) scary movies. In conclusion, Kubrick might be trying to tell us that symmetry is popular and effective in scary movies.

The Shining // Zooms: Ian Kammer’s video focuses on zoom clips from the movie The Shining. His “synchronized collage of every zoom” in the movie is dramatic thanks to the music Kammer added to the video. The zooming technique  of the filmer draws the audience into the scene and gives off the impression that something is about to happen. Some of the views Kammer showed seemed scary. Furthermore, the more zooms Kammer showed at once, the harder it was to try to keep up on what was going on. My only advice for Kammer is to show a maximum of a couple clips at a time because it can be overwhelming trying to watch all of them.

Tarantino // from Below: This video is compiled of short movie clips from a low angle looking up at the actor(s). Some of these clips seem to be dramatic and some show a person (or people) of dominance or power. There were a lot of different movie clips in this video so I didn’t get any more information about filming out of watching it. Although I did enjoy the different clips, expecially the ones from the movie Pulp Fiction.

Reading Movies!

“You have likely watched plenty of movies, but when we say “reading” movies, we mean looking at them with a keener eye for the cinematic elements that make them successful (or not). This is not about reviews of “good” or “bad” movies, but how well they convey the story to all our senses, how well they suspend our disbelief to make the plot real, to draw us in– how well they tell a story.”

Roger Ebert’s “How To Read A Movie” is about freezing the movie and analyzing what you see. His methods seem to work and can be quite effective. Ebert believes: “To reduce the concept to a crude rule of thumb in the composition of a shot in a movie: A person located somewhat to the right of center will seem ideally placed. A person to the right of that position will seem more positive; to the left, more negative. A centered person will seem objectified, like a mug shot. I call that position somewhat to the right of center the “strong axis”.” … “In simplistic terms: Right is more positive, left more negative. Movement to the right seems more favorable; to the left, less so. The future seems to live on the right, the past on the left. The top is dominant over the bottom. The foreground is stronger than the background. Symmetrical compositions seem at rest. Diagonals in a composition seem to “move” in the direction of the sharpest angle they form, even though of course they may not move at all. Therefore, a composition could lead us into a background that becomes dominant over a foreground. Tilt shots of course put everything on a diagonal, implying the world is out of balance. I have the impression that more tilts are down to the right than to the left, perhaps suggesting the characters are sliding perilously into their futures. Left tilts to me suggest helplessness, sadness, resignation. Few tilts feel positive. Movement is dominant over things that are still. A POV above a character’s eyeline reduces him; below the eyeline, enhances him. Extreme high angle shots make characters into pawns; low angles make them into gods. Brighter areas tend to be dominant over darker areas, but far from always: Within the context, you can seek the “dominant contrast,” which is the area we are drawn toward. Sometimes it will be darker, further back, lower, and so on. It can be as effective to go against intrinsic weightings as to follow them.” If you sit down with a bunch of average people and stop a movie to analyze it, people will typically discuss “color, lighting, shadows, construction, characters, dialogue, acting, history, sources, influences, and messages both obvious and buried. Anything and everything.” Ebert seems to have effective methods that are backed up by evidence from numerous movies. I have never thought about freezing a movie to analyze it in such a way Ebert talks about, but now I am interested in doing so.

Audio storytelling from the Ira Glass and Jad Abumrad videos

In the first two Ira Glass videos, I learned that in broadcasting, there are two basic building blocks. The first is the anecdote, which is a sequence of actions. It’s the momentum that keeps listeners interested. For a story, you normally start with an action and then constantly raise questions with bait. When you throw out questions, you can’t forget to answer them in your story. The second building block is to have a moment of reflection. At some point in your story, you have to say why you’re listening to the story and what the point of the story is. Make the anecdote count so it’s not useless information for the listener. In a story, both basic building blocks must work for your story or else your story will be incomplete. In the second video, I learned about the amount of time finding a decent story can be more than the amount of time it takes to produce the story. It’s important to “aband crap” stories. It takes a lot of work trying to find a truly great story. Also, failure is a big part of success because you learn from your failures.

The first video about radio is by Jad Abumrad. He says that radio with the absence of pictures lets listeners imagine and paint a picture that the radio speaker helps you envision. You can have a connection through radio with the radio talker if the talker is good at his job. There’s a musicality in the human voice that makes you intrigued. Also, radio has supposed to die about 50 times already but it’s so unique and it creates such a special experience that it will hopefully never die.

From these videos I’ve become more aware of the radio experience and I now know more about broadcasting story telling. I enjoyed these videos and I’d love to learn more about this topic. (

Listening to Stories

Overall, how effective do you think audio was for telling the story? Some types of audio techniques that the producers used to convey their story were sound effects, layering of sounds where the music would be in the background of people talking, occasional music, etc.  The host interviewed numerous people that related to the topic. Everyone’s annunciation was great and understandable. The host seemed to take the listeners “behind the scenes” when talking about getting into college. The occasional music being played in the background would overlap with the people talking. A couple times there would just be music playing if they were transitioning topics or people. The talk show kept me interested; although I wish the story didn’t last so long (about an hour). It would be a great show to listen to in the car driving. I liked how the main guy (host) would discuss the topic then let others comment on the topic. He would read facts and insider tips that were very informative. They talked to (interviewed) numerous people and not just everyday people, but people of high standing that had insider knowledge. The show talked about college which is a topic everyone is interested in. Some techniques that I might not have noticed before that were used are the use of music as a transition, how clear annunciation of words must be in order to be well understood, and being able to appeal to your audience. Overall, I enjoyed the talk show and I hope radio never dies.

DesignBlitz Reflection

The CPSC106 class did a project called DesignBlitz. We had to take photos of four concepts and post them on our blog. My four concepts were typography, balance, proportion, and dominance. The following are my pictures and descriptions of their concepts. (My initial post link: )

Typography This picture represents typography. If you notice the letters, they are all the same hight, the font is distinctive, the letters aren’t touching, and the text/letters are horizontal ( This picture is of a fire alarm in UMW’s ITTC building. I believe this picture is an effective way of displaying typography.

Balance This picture represents balance. “It [Balance] is the arrangement of the objects in a given design as it relates to their visual weight within a composition. Balance usually comes in two forms: symmetrical and asymmetrical” ( In my photo’s case, it represents balance in a symmetrical way (mostly). I chose this picture to represent balance because I believe it is an effective way of displaying balance. I used the door frame, table, chairs, rug, floor, ceiling, curtains, window, flowers, and Ryan (the guy in the picture) to help with my symmetry.

Proportion This picture represents proportion. “Proportion is the comparison of dimensions or distribution of forms. It is the relationship in scale between one element and another … Differing proportions within a composition can relate to different kinds of balance or symmetry, and can help establish visual weight and depth” ( In this picture I took of a sunset, the sun looks smaller than the cars and telephone poles. The sun looks like the smallest thing in the picture; but if you think about the actual size of the sun, it’s realistically the biggest object out of everything in this picture. The picture is similar to an illusion in the way that the sun looks much smaller than it actually is. The sun is so far away that everything close up looks big in comparison to the sun. The design elements make it an effective proportion photo.

Dominance This picture represents dominance. “Dominance relates to varying degrees of emphasis in design. It determines the visual weight of a composition, establishes space and perspective, and often resolves where the eye goes first when looking at a design” ( In my photo, the sun dominates the photo. Thanks to the light and dark contrast and the sky taking up half of the photo, the sun is the object that catches your eye first. Your eye gets drawn to the sun and not the bridge, cars, or road. This photo is an effective way of displaying dominance.


For our Design Blitz challenge, we had to carry our camera with us this week and take photos of objects, ads, signs, etc. that illustrate at least four concepts listed (one photo per concept). For my four concepts, I chose typography, balance, proportion, and dominance. The following is a link to my Flickr Design Blitz album:

Typography  Typography

Balance  Balance

Proportion Proportion

Dominance Dominance

My Very Own Spubble

“… Grab a picture of yourself in which your body language, actions, gestures, etc. suggest one thing and then play off that using a speech bubble. Ideally the result would make people laugh…” I chose a picture of my engagement! (P.S.: I actually didn’t really even look at the ring until after I said yes and he put it on my finger.)

funny engagement CPSC106

Photo Safari Reflection

My Photo Safari was a fun assignment. I took my photos in a Panera in Maryland. Since I don’t have Wifi in my new apartment this week, I decided to do it at Panera because they have free Wifi. The experience was fun but quick. The photos that worked for me best were the non-complicated ones. Some of the most inventive photos I had to take was making an inanimate object look alive and making a photo that used converging lines to draw you into the photo. Overall I enjoyed the project and anyone can view my photos through this web link: