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Monday, April 25, 2011

The Art of Dance & Editing in Black Swan

A few months ago Natalie Portman won an Oscar for portraying a ballet dancer in the movie Black Swan. Recently the dancing double for Portman, Sarah Lane, went on ABC’s 20/20 and said that contrary to much of the publicity surrounding Portman’s nomination and win, much of the actual dancing in the movie was not performed by Ms. Portman, but by Ms. Lane.

Much of the 20/20 story focused on the editing of the footage. The movie producers claimed that of the 139 dancing shots in the movie, 111 feature only Natalie Portman dancing. Ms. Lane counters that while that may be true, many of those shots are close-ups of Ms. Portman’s face or upper body, and that the full body shots are what she did (as well as some technical close-ups of feet or arm movement).

I find this story fascinating because I have a sister who is a ballet dancer. Ms. Lane comments that “It really hurts for someone to say that they got a personal trainer and they became what I spent blood, sweat and tears doing every day, all my life, in just a year and a half.” I can tell you that my sister would agree.

My sister has been dancing for most of her life and she would tell you that a year and a half of dance training, even every day for significant amount of time, will not get you to the point of being a professional ballet dancer. Aside from the physical part of dance, requiring superb core strength, flexibility and control, there is the artistic and technical side. Indeed, most professional dancers spend most, if not all, of their day exercising and practicing proper technique and have done so for their entire lives. Ms. Lane has been dancing since she was 4. The film makers hired Ms. Lane because they knew they needed a professional dancer to truly make the dancing in the film technically correct and artistically moving. They wouldn’t have bothered had Ms. Portman truly been able to do it all.

I also find this whole thing fascinating from a video editing point of view. Editing is tricky. It’s not enough to know how to use an edit system, there is an art to it as well. An editor chooses what is seen in the movie and how shots are put together so that a seamless and compelling scene and story emerge. A bad editor can make even the best story seem incoherent. A good editor can make a bad story watchable and compelling.

I think the big takeaway from this whole story is that the editor on Black Swan did a fantastic job. He was able to take the footage of a truly amazing and artistic professional dancer and intercut her performance with shots of an amazing and artistic actress to make audiences forget that there were two people involved in the performance. He made the story and the performance compelling and interesting.

If you would like to delve into this story some more, you can watch the 20/20 story here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

“Video Games, Not Just for Nerds Anymore!”

There is not much that helps me blow off some steam like the way video games do. Hearing the fans spin up on the console, feeling the controller in my hand, knowing that now only I have the ability to save the world from certain destruction. OK... so the word is out, Nick is a nerd...oh well it was only a matter of time I guess.

It would seem that I am actually not alone in my endeavors. In a recent study about 65% of households play video games, 26% of gamers are over the age of 50 and 2 of every 5 are female. No longer is gaming reserved for those willing to take the time to memorize how many health points a level 17 wizard has. In fact more and more developers are creating games, and entire systems for that matter, determined to break the mold of traditional gaming.

Take a look at Microsoft's latest release. The Kinect, is a 3D camera that plugs into an Xbox-360 and allows the user control their dashboard, and play games without ever having to hold a traditional controller. I recently picked one up, and now I have to fight with my wife to play, now keep in mind that she “hates video games,” and doesn’t know the difference between an analogue stick and a d-pad.

Now we can’t talk about video games and NOT talk about the game that is setting the standard for mobile gaming on devices like the iPad, iPhone, and Android devices. Angry Birds, is a puzzle game developed by Rovio-Mobile, where the player launches birds at some pigs who stole the birds’ eggs. Sound silly I know, but after selling more than 12 million copies of the game since its release in 2009, Angry Birds has become a cultural phenomena. Even my mom has a copy of the game.

There are still those gamers out there who take video games seriously...very seriously, and as long as developers keep making games like Halo and Call Of Duty there will be people..like myself who will buy them. But in the market of people who would consider themselves casual gamers, developers are trying to find the right combination of fun, addictive game-play and ease of use.

So dust off those Wii, Playstation, Xbox, or maybe even Atari controllers, or grab your iPhone, iPod, or Droid, and get your game on!

Nick DeBeauvernet

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Emmy Nominations

Firelight Media Group wants to say congrats to Byron, Steve, Nick, William, Bob and Chuck for their Emmy nominations! The categories are Director Live/Live to Tape, Audio-Post Production and Director-Post Production for the series Community Auditions: Star of the Day. Good Luck on May 14th!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Japan on my Mind

When I heard about the 7.1 aftershock in Japan the other day, it made me think about how
we can help the tsunami victims. One way that our Rotary club is helping the victims
is by taking the 'happy' and 'sad' dollars for the past 3 or 4 weeks and donating them to
a reputable firm. This brings me to: 'what makes a reputable firm?' Since I have
this space, I thought that we might be able to help you out by giving you some examples of reputable firms.

We start off with the Red Cross. The Red Cross has been around for many years and has roots and
ties to communities, both domestically and internationally. The Red Cross is known for getting the job done and done efficiently. Another great organization is World Vision. They are a faith based organization that helps other countries in times of distress as well as in times of peace. World Vision provides many ways to enable you to help with all groups around the world and allows you to pick how your money will be used when you donate. Because so many people have different views and feelings toward donating to disaster relief programs, we have suggested a main stream program, Red Cross, and a faith based program, World Vision.

As a precaution, we advise you to research these different programs so you can feel that
your money is going to a worthy program and will bring the biggest amount of relief to
Japan. There are groups to watch out for as some companies will say that they are for relief
but will only provide 10 cents on the dollar to Japan or other disaster relief areas. Hopefully
we have made it easy for you. If you would like to donate and help impacted areas of Japan,
please see the links that we have provided for you below.



Red Cross:
http://american.redcross.org/site/PageServer?pagename=ntld_main&s_src=RSG000000000&s_subsrc=RCO_BigRedButton


World Vision
http://donate.worldvision.org/OA_HTML/xxwv2ibeCCtpSctDspRte.jsp?a=b

Friday, April 1, 2011

Firelight Media Group is Blogging

Firelight Media Group customers expect superior quality of craftsmanship, thorough but flexible attention to detail, plus anticipation of changes to scope and timing with the advent of ever evolving technologies.

With that in mind, we are excited to announce the introduction of our (drumroll please…..) Firelight Media Blog and Newsletter! Firelight Media Group clients will have access to the most current news, ideas and musings of the Firelight staff as well as links to our recent footage, projects, services and our calendar of events.

Please check back often as there will be weekly updates and monthly calendar changes.

Byron Campbell and Steve Kline