prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

Archive for the ‘film’ Category

Take the Oscar Challenge

Posted by prof e on February 15, 2017

logo_oscars_3d-colorIf you’re 18 years of age or older, are a legal resident of the USA, not a felon, not an employee of the Academy (or family member of an employee), and don’t mind signing in with your Facebook account…you can enter the Oscar Challenge sweepstakes for a chance to win a trip to  next year’s ceremony.

Just go to and submit your ballot by picking the winners in 24 categories up for selection. The grand prize winner (randomly selected from those with the highest number of correct predictions) will win,

… one (1) Oscar® All-Star Winner prize package, which consists of a 3-day/2-night trip for two (2) to Los Angeles, CA and tickets to sit in the bleachers next to the red carpet arrival area at the 90th Academy Awards® tentatively scheduled to take place on March 4, 2018 (“Trip”). The exact date of the 90th Academy Awards® is subject to change; exact date will be provided to winner at least sixty (60) days prior to the event. Grand Prize Trip includes round-trip coach class air transportation for two (2) to Los Angeles, CA from an airport near winner’s residence (as selected by Sponsor in its sole discretion); two (2) nights’ hotel accommodations (one room, double occupancy) at a Los Angeles area hotel (as selected by Sponsor in its sole discretion); ground transportation between Los Angeles area airport (of Sponsor’s sole choosing) and hotel; and two (2) tickets to the bleacher section next to the red carpet arrival area at the 90th Academy Awards®.


Of course if you want to witness the grand spectacle from INSIDE the venue, you could always look into becoming a seat filler. Or, if you prefer, just kick back and watch the show, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel (for the first time). The live show is scheduled for Sunday, Feb 26 at 5pm MST.

This year there are nine nominees for Best Picture. The film with the most nominations is La La Land with 14 (including Best Picture)!

Recently on Kimmel’s show Viggo Mortensen had some advice for Jimmy.


Posted in film, media industry | Leave a Comment »

I’d Like to Thank the Academy…

Posted by prof e on February 26, 2016

chris-rock-oscar-countdownThe first Oscars ceremony in 1929 was all of 15 minutes long. Last year, it was nearly 4 hours. Part of the reason for the length is the fact that nearly everyone honored with an award gets to make a speech, and in that speech they try to remember and thank the many “little people” who contributed to their success. It’s nice to be generous and to recognize the folks who helped you reach the top…but come on, some of these speeches go on far too long.

Producers and directors try to keep the show moving by cueing the live orchestra to “play them off” the stage after 45 seconds passed, but some don’t take the hint. This year, things will be a bit different. Instead of giving verbal thanks, nominees have been asked to list the names of those they’d like to thank should they receive the opportunity. And then, when their time comes, the names will scroll across the bottom of the screen, ticker-tape fashion, while the awardee focuses on delivering a short and pithy acceptance speech. It will be interesting to see if this works. By the way, can you guess which actor/actress has been thanked the most by his/her peers? Check it out here!

On a side note, the “swag bag” this year will be worth upwards of $220,000. Among other things it will include a vaporizer, a breast lift, and a sex toy. GQ categorizes each item ranging from basic to “trashy” to respectable. According to an article in The Atlantic, not everyone was happy with the assortment of gifts and the Academy has sued the marketing firm that put the package together. Sigh…it’s getting harder and harder for the 1% to enjoy their conspicuous consumption.

Posted in film, tv | 4 Comments »

Roll Out the Red Carpet: It’s Time for the Media Awards Shows

Posted by prof e on February 14, 2016

AwardsThe 58th Grammy Awards show tomorrow night, Feb 15th, continues the awards show season that started with the Golden Globe Awards show broadcast on January 10th. Next up will be the movie industry’s gala, the 88th Academy Awards show, (aka, the Oscars), scheduled for February 28th. Two smaller awards programs, the iHeartRadio Music Awards show and the 51st Academy of Country Music Awards, will air in April. TV’s big night, the Emmy Awards, will air sometime in the fall season.

These awards shows are an opportunity for media executives and celebrities to take a stroll on the red carpet while they pat each other on the back. I don’t mean to sound cynical, but the hoopla is mostly an insider’s party that the public is allows to watch from the sidelines. (Of, if you’re really lucky, up close as a seat filler.)

If you like music, movies, and TV there will likely be something for you to enjoy. But there will also be performances and awards that will just as likely make you wonder what else is on. These awards shows are all about pop media content, but the range is pretty broad and not to everyone’s taste.

However, if you need a reason to tune in here are a few.

Grammys: 1) Taylor v Kendrick, 2) you’ll get to see a number from the Broadway show Hamilton, and 3) Lady Gaga’s tribute to David Bowie.

The Academy Awards: 1) will be hosted this year by Chris Rock, which is particularly newsworthy because of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy and the calls to boycott by leading black actors, and 2) Leonardo DiCaprio is up for an Oscar for The Revenant, and 3) the outfits.

Posted in film, media industry, music, tv | 3 Comments »

Sleepless in Austin

Posted by prof e on December 27, 2015

SW-THE-FORCE-AWAKENSLast week the Alamo Draft House, a theater in Austin, TX, hosted a special screening of the Star Wars movies. Each of the six episodes were screened, followed by the new film, The Force Awakens, on repeat until all but one viewer succumbed to sleep. That final nod happened after Jim Braden had watched the first six episodes, and nine viewings of episode 7; nearly 48 hours of intergalactic shenanigans. According to the Washington Post, the winner won Star Wars cards and artwork, seven years of free tickets and a theater seat named in his honor.

The Hollywood Reporter corresponded with Braden after his victory about what he described as “a grueling ordeal, even though I loved the movie.” You can read about his impressive achievement here. Here’s an excerpt:

You said you’ve watched all the earlier films multiple times, and now you’ve seen the newest installment nine times in one sitting. Is that enough? Can you imagine ever wanting to see it again?

I left the marathon convinced I’d never be able to watch it again. I had been Clockwork Orange‘d. I went home and slept for a few hours — my first sleep in over 50 hours — and dreamed, or hallucinated, about the movie the entire time. I woke up and immediately felt the urge to watch the movie again.

I think it has a bit of a Stockholm Syndrome-like hold on me now. I’ve come to love my tormentor. My parents are coming into town for Christmas, and I’ve already gotten us tickets to see the movie while they’re here. And I can’t wait to see it again. I’m a sick, sick man.

Posted in film | 1 Comment »

Ad of the Day, featuring MCCNM alum Megan Matousek

Posted by prof e on November 3, 2015

Every so often one of our amazing MCCNM alums does something really fantastic…and this time it is Megan Matousek, class of 2005. Megan works for Industrial Light & Magic, and most recently had a hand in the making of this commercial spot for Duracell.

You can read more about the spot here, at the Ad Week website. Scroll to the bottom for Megan’s credit.


Posted in advertising, film, tv | Leave a Comment »

Are You Ready for Some Star Wars?

Posted by prof e on October 26, 2015

star-warsLast week’s Monday Night football game on ESPN was an excellent opportunity for Disney (parent company of ESPN) to promote its latest Star Wars movie. In case you didn’t know, Disney bought Lucas Films (creator of the Star Wars franchise) in 2012 for $4B. That acquisition was what happens, “when you wish upon a death star” according to one report.

Advertising is when one company pays another to promote its products. But if the company that wants to advertise is a media company, and it wants to promote its own products by using its own media space to do so, we call that promotions. TV networks promote specific programs to targeted demographics watching other programs. Radio stations promote themselves with their own airtime trying to build brand identity and loyalty. Even newspapers and magazines promote upcoming features or issues.

Disney using ESPN’s broadcast of NFL football to promote its upcoming film release is a no-brainer. NFL football is hugely popular…and a perfect audience for the new blockbuster. But this promotion actually worked both ways. The ESPN telecast actually saw a ratings spike as people tuned in to see the world-premiere of the latest trailer. That’s right, people tuned into the program to see the commercial! Now that’s marketing mojo. Theater servers crashed as fans rushed to pre-buy tickets for the latest installment. According to Josh Rottenberg of Tribune News, in the first hour after the half-time trailer, 1.3 million people interacted with it on Facebook and the Twitterverse lit up with some 17,000 tweets per minutes. AMC Theatres sold out more than 1,000 shows nationwide in less than 12 hours. Now THAT’s a force to be reckoned with!

You can see the buzz-generating promo on YouTube at


Posted in advertising, film, global media, media industry, social media | Leave a Comment »

The Magic of Motion Pictures

Posted by prof e on October 4, 2015

Movies, aka films, aka motion pictures, are actually optical illusions. To capture motion on film, or as digital bits, simply involves capturing still images in quick succession. How quickly depends on how much temporal resolution you want to capture…but for the illusion to be believable it should probably be, at a minimum, in the neighborhood of 18-24 frames each second. That’s it…just a new picture every 18th to 24th of a second and our eye/brain thinks it is seeing motion. Persistence of vision is the technical phrase used to explain the illusion that makes motion pictures possible.

So when you see TV or film images flicker on the screen just realize that you’re really seeing a bunch of still pictures displayed at a rate that is fooling your brain into thinking that you’re seeing motion. Animation is based on the same principle. There are many forms of animation, but if you remember Gumby, or the California Raisins, you can thank stop-motion animators for this technique that involves taking a photograph, then moving a real object in front of the camera, then taking another photograph…repeat until you’ve made a short movie. I once shot a claymation TV commercial for a local cable TV company and I can tell you that it is a very tedious process.

Equally tedious is a process of animating drawings to create a fluid appearance of motion. Check out this ad from Honda…

According to Ad Age,

The spot, called “Paper,” weaves together roughly 3,000 hand-drawn illustrations using stop-motion filming that takes viewers through a paper-flipping, historical journey of Honda products.

So if motion is an illusion, what do you call a short film made up of many very short motion clips? Move.

Posted in film, photography | 2 Comments »

Hacking, Journalism, and Moral Treason

Posted by prof e on December 16, 2014

The hack of Sony Pictures and subsequent release of salacious emails and other confidential information has been the talk of the town (read Hollywood) in recent days. Much of the information obtained by the hackers (aka Guardians of Peace) is very personal and potentially damaging to careers and reputations of employees, executives, and celebrities connected to Sony. Medical records, compensation packages and their private negotiations…even jokes about President Obama that have a racial component…are on display for all to see.

But the hackers alone cannot do serious damage to Sony without the willing participation of journalists. What the hackers have stolen, journalists are now distributing with the protection of the first amendment and the claim that these are important and relevant issues to be discussed in a public forum.

But not every one is willing to give the news media a pass when it comes to reporting this story. Appearing on Howard Stern’s radio show, Seth Rogen (co-star of The Interview) claimed that journalists are profiting from doing exactly what the criminals/hackers want.

Television writer Aaron Sorkin has been another outspoken critic saying, “Every news outlet that did the bidding of the Guardians of Peace is morally treasonous and spectacularly dishonorable.” Sorkin acknowledges, in his op-ed piece in the New York Times, the importance and role of the media when it comes to whistle-blowing and exposing wrong-doing, e.g. the Pentagon Papers. But he makes a clear distinction between that and these gossipy morsels that have little or no value for the preservation of democratic ideals.

As demented and criminal as it is, at least the hackers are doing it for a cause. The press is doing it for a nickel. ~Aaron Sorkin

I suppose one could argue that this hack reveals facts relevant to issues of importance: gender disparity for celebrity compensation, race-tinged jokes about the President by Sony execs who support him and gave to his political causes, and allegations of journalistic malpractice by New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. But these exceptions are not what’s generating all the buzz on blogs and social media.

Not too long ago when nude celebrity pictures were hacked from the cloud “real” journalists were careful to keep their distance for fear of being seen as accomplices to the crime. But this time the “gift that keeps on giving” has fewer detractors and the benefit of readers’ fascination with celebrity culture. The hackers have promised a “Christmas gift” of new information while Sony’s lawyers are sending threatening letters to news organizations in an attempt to discourage further dissemination. But if there’s one thing on which we can be fairly certain, it’s that attacking journalists won’t go over well.

Posted in 1st amendment, copyright, film, global media, journalism, media industry, new media, PR | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

The “movie” experience

Posted by prof e on October 15, 2013

GravityI saw a movie last week. Not just any movie. Gravity, in IMAX 3D. It was amazing. Not every movie needs (or benefits from) the big screen, 3D perspective and awesome surround sound…but Gravity definitely brought it all together in a way that has to be experience to be appreciated. If you haven’t already seen Gravity, don’t wait for the DVD or Netflix. Like Lawrence of Arabia in 70mm (still remember seeing it at the Naro theater in Norfolk, VA in late 1989) some movies need to be appreciated as the “larger-than-life” event that they are.

The great thing about IMAX is the sensation that comes from having your vision and hearing FILLED with the director’s creative vision. I suppose motion-controlled seating and “Smell-O-Vision” might have heightened the experience even more, but there was plenty of sensory stimulation as it was.

Filmmakers have, almost from the start, longed to have complete control over the viewer’s experience. It didn’t take long for them to discover that a large screen in a dark room minimized visual distractions while an audio system capable of high-fidelity at high volume drowned out the coughing and fidgeting of the audience.

At the turn of the last century, when motion pictures were the only game in town, projecting a grainy black-and-white image on a draped bed sheet was good enough. But that wouldn’t last long. Soon a soundtrack replaced the live pianist and speaking characters preempted the need for title cards and subtitles. Larger screens and Technicolor soon followed. Then TV was invented. Hollywood studios and producers, worried that their audiences would stay home and stop going to the movies, decided to try to create an even bigger experience. The list of bigger-is-better movie technologies exploded; Todd-AO, Cinerama, Cinemascope,  Super and Ultra Panavision, 70mm, IMAX, and Vistavision are just a few. Advances in audio technology were just as spectacular. Stereo gave way to Surround Sound as Dolby Digital and THX found new ways to make us “feel” the soundtrack.

At 4.5 years in the making, Gravity is a tour-de-force of CGI and audio. Because I’ve never experienced space I was ill-equipped to determine whether anything looked or sounded “wrong,” but I do know that not once was I jarred back to reality by an errant shot or sound. The director launched me into space and I didn’t land on my feet until the 90-minute movie had run its course.  It was a great ride.

Posted in film, media effects | 13 Comments »

Zero Dark Thirty Under Attack

Posted by prof e on January 14, 2013

zero-dark-thirty1The Hollywood film Zero Dark Thirty, about the hunt for and killing of Osama bin Laden, is being criticized by some in the Hollywood film community because of its portrayal of “enhanced interrogation”, a euphemism for torture. According to Hollywood veterans, and liberal activists, Ed Asner and Martin Sheen (you may know him as the father of Charlie Sheen), Zero Dark Thirty is not worthy of accolades and honors because it suggests that torture played a role in the elimination of bin Laden.

First a little background. The film is directed by Kathryn Bigelow who also directed The Hurt Locker, winner of six Academy Awards. Controversy arose early on when the film’s producers and writers were accused of receiving access to classified documents. Opponents of President Obama suspected that the film would be released just before the 2012 elections, with the goal of boosting the President’s reelection efforts. However, the film was not finished in time for the elections and went into wide release this past weekend to critical acclaim. The film has received five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, and five Golden Globe nominations resulting in a Best Actress win for Jessica Chastain. It also topped the weekend box office taking in approximately $24 million.

In defense of the film’s portrayal of torture, Sony pictures issued a statement saying, “To not include that part of history would have been irresponsible and inaccurate.” However, this movie is a fictional account based on real events…not a documentary. I’m not sure that responsibility and accuracy were as essential as Sony would like us to believe.

In criticizing the film, one Hollywood insider said, “You can’t separate artistry from morality.” While that statement is open to debate, it is interesting to note that moral objections to content found in Hollywood movies has been a battle waged since the turn of the previous century. For most of that time Hollywood’s collective response has been, “we’re artists…don’t impose your values on our creation.” “If you don’t like it, don’t watch it.” And the always-predictable argument, “It’s only a movie…people can distinguish between reality and what they see on the screen.” Now that Hollywood activists don’t care for the tone of the objectionable content the shoe appears to be on the other foot. They’ll need to tread lightly, lest they appear overly hypocritical as they press their case for moral superiority.

Posted in 1st amendment, film, journalism, politics | 7 Comments »