“The point is, not to resist the flow. You go up when you’re supposed to go up and down when you’re supposed to go down. When you’re supposed to go up, find the highest tower and climb to the top. When you’re supposed to go down, find the deepest well and go down to the bottom.” – Haruki Murakami I picked up Revolver Digital’s Downwell during a flash sale fully expecting to pick it up for 15-20 minutes and put it down forever. Instead, I was treated to a masterful take in minimalist direction that I couldn’t put down for hours.
UPDATE: In light of Pebble’s acquisition and dismantling by Fitbit, the article that follows describes impressions of a product that will no longer see store shelves. We’re going to leave it as it is as we were big fans of the Pebble as it hit its stride. We’re sad to see such an imaginative company go. – M
Pebble, the makers of wildly successful Pebble smartwatch, kickstarted in 2013 and the even more successful Pebble Time smartwatch kickstarted in March 2015, are back one more time with another group of iterations on their wearable technology. And yes it’s on Kickstarter.Continue reading For Pebble it’s Time, Once Again→
April 29th, 1980, the cinema world lost one of its most influential figures in the world of grim and tense storytelling. And since, I believe, that man wouldn’t want to let a good death go to waste, today we’re going to take a look at some of the thrilling mastery of Alfred Hitchcock.
A noted mastermind in the cinema universe, a mere mention of Hitchcock’s works usually evokes the grisly shower scene of his classic Psycho. It’s an eruption of screams, sharp cuts and shrill string instruments (courtesy Bernard Hermann).
And while that vignette of fear and violence is considered one of cinema’s most iconic moments, it’s the scenes that surround it that exemplify what Hitchcock was truly the master of: slow-burning suspense. Today we’re going to take a look at several scenes where Hitchcock employs camera techniques to create suspense. Some of the clips we’ll be sharing may spoil the plot of their respective movies and, while these films date back to the 40’s, much of their effect is lost if you know what happens, so consider this your SPOILER WARNING.
Taking another look at Psycho, Hitchcock employs various framing techniques with the close shot to build tension in the dialog between Norman Bates and private investigator Arbogast on the trail of our unfortunate shower victim, Marion Crane (played by Vivian Leigh). The use of this close-up exaggerates the smaller actions and behaviors and emphasizes the feeling of claustrophobia as our investigator closes in on the truth. As Arbogast peruses the guest book, the smallest expressions of doubt, distrust and fear cross the face of Anthony Perkins in his career-defining turn as Norman Bates.
Long-Take: The Entirety of Rope!
One his earlier films, “Rope!” is not often cited as one of the Hitchcock classics. This is often attributed to story concerns, however when it comes to cinematography, “Rope!” does things a bit differently: it starts off with the murder. We see it done, know who does it, and why. It’s how Hitchcock frames the entire piece that makes it so tense: it is one, long shot with no cut aways. While there are some camera tricks employed to change film reels and set pieces, the action and progression of the story plays out in real-time. The continuous unraveling of the plot leave little to no breaks for the viewer, ever present as the drama plays out and stakes get ever higher.
Dolly Zoom/Vertigo Effect/Hitchcock Shot :
The dolly zoom is one of the most influential shots on this list as it was Hitchcock who brought it to the forefront with Vertigo. This shot is performed moving the camera closer to the subject while simultaneous zooming the lens out. It creates a kind of stretching effect as it widens the background. It is often referred to as the “Vertigo Effect” or the “Hitchcock Shot” due to it’s iconic effect in the film.
We’ve only glanced the surface Hitchcock’s rather extensive library so if you’re feeling up to more punishment, we’ve got a few recommendations for you.
Matt – Strangers on a Train for the implications of “What would you do?”
David – Notorious for “Claude Reines turn as a somewhat sympathetic Nazi”
Dan – The Birds for “Just an impressive number of birds”
Tim – Rebecca as it was his first ‘American’ film
There are plenty more to choose from so take your pick and cozy up tonight to watch a classic suspense artist at work.
Always make the audience suffer as much as possible. – Alfred Hitchcock
PAX East 2016 has come and gone. I had been fortunate enough to spend the better part of the week in Boston and I had hoped, while I was in town, I could make a stop at the notorious Fenway Park and take in some of America’s favorite pastime before being consumed by the mammoth games convention. Unfortunately, it was not to be. However, I did manage to get my baseball fix in while I was sampling the many offerings amongst the tabletop games.
Recently, I’ve been fortunate enough to get together with a few friends and try out the latest and greatest edition of Dungeons and Dragons. It has been some time since I’d crafted a character, fought dragons and rolled some oddly shaped dice. And it’s those odd dice that left me wondering a few things about luck, randomness and chance. Continue reading The Cult of the Six-Sided Die: Luck Culture & Games→