End of Week Four

This week wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. In the beginning of every week when I see the assignments it always looks like so much, however they go by faster and faster, like a roll of toilet paper when you start to reach the center. It forced me to think a little more than I already do when I take photos. Some of the daily creates seem just a little weird and put me off from doing them. This one was kind of weird and didn’t really like it.

Now that I started with that I guess I have to show all of my daily creates…

The assignments that I did this week may be found below

Photo Reflection – Where I reflect about what I know about photography

Film Scene – I describe a famous film scene from Skyfall

Love at First Shot – The first time I met a special girl

Who Said What – Thats not Jason Bourne

GoT Banner – Neil Roberts gets a House in Game of Thrones

Comic Sans – I describe why Comic Sans is the worst

Photoblitz – A quick photoblitzkrieg

Well actually nevermind it does look like a lot now.

Head in the Clouds

James Bond could do anything and still look good while doing it. Here he is doing just that, driving an undeniably beautiful piece of British artwork and machinery, an Aston Martin DB5, in the breathtaking scenery of the Scottish highlands.

This scene is a classic, one that is famous and easily distinguishable as coming from Skyfall. All the elements in this photo synchronize together perfectly and create this aura of aspiration and passion that James Bond is known for. He can be seen standing, in a power stance, with his Aston Martin front and center. Although he is quite small in the photo, the focus is not on him. This photo is a great depiction of what the saying “big picture” means. Yes this photo is about Bond, but “big picture”, you see it so much more and and even though he has made such a large impact throughout the movie he is small.

Many movie shots are almost directly over the character’s shoulder and hovering above them. Here is it different. The audience is so far removed from Bond that it is believable that you yourself is standing there and witnessing it for yourself. There is no “secret” you are being let in on even though you are in the audience and it is a 3rd person perspective. You are standing there in the cold, dark, landscape just as he is. The cloudy mountains are a great metaphor for what we know of his thoughts. Everything is clouded and difficult to see. Only when we are down to earth is there a clearing through the clouds.

Jesus Christ It’s Jason Bourne

 

I’m going to let you into a little secret and tell you that that is not Jason Bourne. That is in fact Ethan Hunt from Mission Impossible saying a line from True Lies said by Schwarzenegger with Jason Bourne being credited.

It is very difficult to try and not use the easiest spy names however I did break down and use Jason Bourne. I first started with a picture as my base. I had to use one that could be used for a variety of spies to help make the next steps easier. Thankfully Tom Cruise is wearing glasses and you can’t really make out his face so it helps keep him anonymous.

True Lies is very good movie and some pretty good quotes. I originally almost used,

” Helen Tasker: Have you ever killed anyone?

Harry: Yeah, but they were all bad.”

It little hard to fit two characters into this scene as there is only one riding a motorcycle away from an explosion so I settled with, “First I’m going to use you as a human shield. Then I’m going to kill this guard over here with the Patterson trocar on the table. And then I was thinking about breaking your neck.”

Jason Bourne is just my favorite spy, except the newish movie with fake Bourne, so I had no choice other than choosing him. I also came up with this blog post’s title so my hands were pretty much tied.

 

Myself as an Early Photographer

Coming into this class I have some basic knowledge of what photography is and how to take photos. Basic ideas and concepts such as the rule of 3rds, shutter speed, lighting, contrast, and depth I have looked into. For me, taking photos isn’t just point and shoot anymore. I have to have the correct lighting and scene in order to take the picture.

I currently take the most photos of my dogs. They are a lot of fun to take pictures of but are also very hard to deal with as they are a handful. They either are too stubborn, too lazy, or too energetic to sit still and pose for that perfect moment.  When it does work the photo comes out great.

I am not saying that I’m the greatest dog photographer out there, but there is always more room to get better.  My current photos I think are passable, they work pretty well for what they are meant for which is to just post to instagram and twitter. I could step it up and fine tune the camera for the f stop, iso, and shutter speed but most photos that I take I won’t have that much time to set up a camera and have the dogs sit still.

I don’t try to capture any emotion or meaning in my photos. They aren’t art pieces, but memories. If I really wanted to capture a feeling it would be the feeling of the dog’s soft coat and wet tongue licking you through the picture.

Vonnewhat?

Having watched the short video on Vonnegut’s presentation I believe it is a vast oversimplification of actual plot. Yes, the vast majority of films are often on one of the scales he provides, but any good film will have multiple layers and will not be so cookie cutter. On of the TV shows that I watched this week that I believe is quite cookie cutter was Burn Notice.

The entire series is his last point, starting near the bottom of happiness and as time goes on and conflicts resolves it goes up. But, as the seasons and episodes go on, things go wrong and their happiness goes down, but not to the point as low as it was before. This makes the show somewhat predictable and boring, as you can always expect them to get into trouble and subsequently get right back out of it.

Week 3 Finalized

Finally getting into the meat and potatoes of this theme and its quite exciting. The only one issue I had with this week was with the AV club assignment. Many of those are TV shows, and to truly and fully understand the themes and plot of those stories you need to watch multiple episodes. I understand that the work needs to be spaced out, but if I hadn’t had already seen Burn Notice I would say that that assignment would be unfair for someone who hasn’t seen any of those TV shows. To then add watching a movie on top of that is just pouring salt into the wound.

Besides that, here is all the art for this week.

Three daily creates are listed below.

Links to the Three writing assignments of this week may be viewed  here, here, and here.

For more on my thoughts on this week’s TV shows and spy movies, clink the link here.

If you would like to meet the new secret agent in town, he lives over here and is available most weekdays.

If you wanted to know how he looks like, here is the only declassified photo of him.

And a short entry on Vonnegut can be found here .

The Idea Behind My Spy

The most difficult part of creating a character whether it’s a spy or even just a character in Skyrim is the name. Neil Roberts was a real person, but he was not a spy. Roberts was a Navy SEAL like my bio suggests but that’s about as far as the similarities go. Roberts was KIA on a hilltop in 2002 in Afghanistan during the Battle of Takur Ghar. A book was written about all the men involved and the mission they fought for. The book, named Robert’s Ridge, is also the unofficial name of the battle, is named after Neil Roberts.

The most influence that played in the making of my character was from Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. Jack Ryan was featured in the Hunt for Red October, the movie we analyzed. He is also featured in many others including my favorite, Patriot Games.  From Ryan’s character the most influence he had was Robert’s involvement in the CIA. The CIA is the most basic and probably the easiest spy agency to make a character for as there is a lot of info and books out there about them. One such book is The Master of Disguise  by Tony Mendez, a former CIA operative that was active from 1963 to 1990 that goes into great detail into what he did for his job and his activities.

If anyone had looked at the dossier they would have recognized the photo of the man. He is no one else other than the King of Cool, Steve McQueen. Why him? Besides his nickname, he drives arguably the coolest mustang probably ever made, a 1968 Mustang GT Fastback in Highland Green.  McQueen in the movie Bullitt wears a black turtleneck very much similar to the one that Archer wears in the animated TV series.

I would love my character Roberts to be much like Jason Bourne, a kick ass secret operative that eludes capture from anyone and everyone.  I’m not sure if it is possible but that would be best for both of us. Roberts however will not be anything like Rambo. He will be discreet, professional, and not have PTSD that tortures Rambo the way it did in the First Blood, shooting up a small town and starting a manhunt.

His character is still being built, and it mostly depends on which way this course assignments go that dictate what features and experiences he gains and or has.

That Ain’t Falco!

Super Smash Bros: Melee (SSBM) was released for Nintendo GameCube in north america on December 3, 2001 just a little over 15 years ago a legendary game was given to us.  Many of us have played it, but very few of us were able to master it. What is Melee? Melee is the second installment of the Super Smash brothers video game series with the first being released on N64.  It is a crossover fighting game, where players are able to choose their own characters which are from the Nintendo franchise.

Plot

I can tell you that no one plays this game for the plot.  Yes, there is a single player and by doing single player challenges you can unlock other characters but it’s pointless. You are able to unlock those characters just by playing more multiplayer matches.  There isn’t much plot to it as it’s a compilation of all the Nintendo characters and highlights of their franchise games.  The real reason people buy the game is to beat other kids on the block and multishine kids into oblivion.

Gameplay

Nintendo was unique with their SSBM game by not having a health bar like other fighting games. Other games such as Street Fighter had health bars that were depleted when you hit an opponent, and when it’s gone you die. SSBM took a step back and found another way to do it. They instead chose to have a percentage of damage that adds up, and subsequently increases the knockback on attacks and makes it easier to die. This makes matches very interesting as the game becomes very tense when both opponents are at high percentages and are likely to die even when hit with relatively weak attacks.

As a result of the competitve nature of the game, there is a very large competitive scene for SSBM. Melee hosts tournaments throughout EU, US, and Japan which have many thousands of dollars of prize money.  Melee also hosted tournaments with MLG (Major League Gaming) and since then has gained a cult following.

Compared to later installments of Smash such as Brawl and Smash 4, Melee has a “pure” gameplay that is very fluid and ever changing. The meta, the current style of gameplay and techniques, is always changing and new players are always rising to the top.

Here is an example of just how hype the competive gameplay can get, and how fast the inputs are on a controller.

Music

The music is pretty basic but yet recognizable. No one plays this game for the music, only for bragging rights.

Graphics

The graphics in this game are perfect. It is the embodiment of function over form. Yes they could be better. But why would they need to be better? The game functions very well. If you want a game with better graphics, go play Smash 4.

Verdict

Easy game to get decent at, very hard to get good at. One thing you learn is that there is always someone better than you.

The 80’s is Cool Again

 

When I was first looking to get a car when I was 16 it needed to fit three criteria. It had to be vintage, Japanese, and rear-wheel drive. I had plenty of options that could fit such as Toyota Supras, AE86 Corolla’s, MR2’s, Celica’s, Nissan S12’s, S13’s, S14’s, and pretty much any old Datsun. But no I didn’t get any of those. Found on the side of the road with a for sale sign was a 1986 Nissan 300ZX just begging me to take it home. So I did.

It was love at first sight. This car was the embodiment of the 80’s. It was so quirky, so “rad”, and so gimmicky it was as if I had just time traveled. All the way from it’s bright green Nightrider digital dash, to the “Bitchin Betty” warning voice was perfect. It had all the right looks, the protractor perfect angles and a square body hiding the most 80’s feature I loved, the pop up headlights.

I had the car and was driving it around but now I needed to get the feeling of driving. Driving this car was so much more raw, and a purer driver experience than a normal sedan. The steering was heavy, the exhaust note came into the cabin at a perfect volume, the manual transmission was the direct connection between me and machine, and the T-Tops let in the perfect amount of moonlight when driving at night. What else did I need? Like any 80’s movie worth it’s salt I needed something that people could remember, a soundtrack. Top Gun had Kenny Loggins’ Danger Zone and Berlin’s Take My Breath Away, and the Breakfast Club had Don’t You (Forget About Me).  

The three songs that best represent my soundtrack are Kavinsky- Nightcall, Com Truise – Brokendate, Timecop1983 – Tonight

Why these songs? These songs are created with a piece of the 80’s. They use similar chord progressions, sounds, and most importantly that 80’s synthesizer that is most recognizable. These songs and many like them completed the trifecta of sensory input being visually, tactilely, and audibly.  Together this was my release from reality, my freedom, and where I went to think. Why do drugs when I could drive?

Spies, Lies, and Movies

Considering these and other works in the genre you know of, what themes, patterns and commonalities do you see? What defines a secret agent, or a secret agent story?

Spy movies these days are a dime a dozen. A good spy movie however, is a little more difficult to pull off. Think about how many movies involve secrets, espionage, adrenaline pumping action, and evil Russians. Quite a few right? Now how many of those movies were good, and even rarer, were great.  Why the Bourne series was not included on the list of movies to watch, yet Spy Kids was, amazes me.. It crosses off every requirement I listed and then some. The Hunt for Red October was OK though, but the book was better.

For the TV shows I watched Burn Notice. A show about a “burned” CIA spy that landed in Miami and is stuck there doing whatever job comes his way.  Throughout the series we see him shoot some baddies, do some neat tricks, steal a few cars, and make some friends (and enemies) along the way.  The Hunt for Red October is similar in that the main characters, Jack Ryan, and Burn Notice’s Michael Westen both work(ed) for the CIA and have a certain set of skills to kill people.  The normal and expected similarities still apply such as keeping secrets, evil Russians, intense fight scenes, and internal politics and bureaucracy.

What makes a great secret agent? Probably the agent that stays alive longest and isn’t caught. It’s a dog eat dog world out there and both sides are looking to snag an enemy spy. Westen is always finding more people out there that want to kill him and in many episodes he actually gets injured and shot.  Jack Ryan is much the same way. Tom Clancy wrote a whole series on his life and one of my favorite novels of his is Patriot Games where you guessed it, he gets shot at by the IRA in London.  Trouble seems to find both of them even if the want to settle down.  I guess it’s just a perk of the job.