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Look, Listen, and Analyze: The Joker Pencil Trick/Mob Scene

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For this blog post, I decided to analyze a scene from The Dark Knight, more speficially, the scene when the Joker interrupts a mob meeting and dramatically shows them “a pencil trick” with very dark and dangerous connotations.

When I watched the clip without any audio: I noticed the camera angle was almost continuously moving. The camera followed behind the Joker when he approaches the mob meeting and you know it’s coming from behind him because the right side of the shot you can see his left shoulder and tufts of his greasy, curly hair. Like Ebert described, when the camera angle points upward, like it did when the Joker was standing directly in front of the mob, it alludes to an aura of dominance. The vast majority of the mob members were sitting down at this point, so the camera would pan between up shots of the joker speaking and downward shots of the mob sitting around a rectangular table.

I also observed a significant amount of close up shots of characters involved in this scene. It seemed that whoever was speaking had a steady shot on his face. The camera would pan back and forth between the Joker and different men in the mob who were speaking… asking questions perhaps? or maybe insulting him? Without audio, it became an educated guessing game. In order to make an educated guess as to what the dialogue was conveying, I relied mostly on the facial expressions and bodily gestures of the characters. The one African American mob member who the camera focused on several times had facial expressions of disgust and anger, while his bodily gestures included when he dramatically shot up out of his chair, most likely out of rage at whatever the Joker was saying. The other two mob members the camera focused on seemed irritated, yet amused by what the Joker was saying. Their faces displayed less anger and more confusion and annoyance– as if the Joker was wasting their time. The Joker’s close up shots were interesting as well. To me, it felt like the angle kept inching closer and closer to his face, illuminating the truly horrifying features of his facial appearance.
**When the camera was not focusing on a face, the shots were mobile, making the room they were in feel a lot larger than it probably was.

Another aspect of the scene that I noticed was when the Joker was pointing what appeared to be almost directly at the camera. In this case, we, as the audience, took the place of a character in the scene, giving the audience a “front row seat” to the action, if you will. Watching this scene without any audio further proves Ebert’s assertions that camera angle plays such a huge role in the overall effectiveness of a film that, in some instances, dialogue is not even a necessary aspect of a film for it to make sense and for the audience to understand what is happening in a given scene.

When I watched the clip without any visual: When simply listening the scene without any visuals, I found it much more difficult to analyze than when I viewed the clip without any sound. This might be because of my learning style, but either way, I came up with several observations. First, the deranged laughing at the beginning of the clip, I can only assume that signified his entrance into the room where the mob was having their meeting. The differences of the voices individualized each character. One man had a very deep, throaty voice. He sounded like he was a high up official of this mob group, especially since he felt comfortable confronting and threatening the Joker. The next voice I distinguished had a Russian or possibly Scandinavian accent, allowing me to understand this was a different member of the mob talking now. Later on we heard an Asian man speak, therefore, we know that this is a very diverse mob just from listening to their voices.

As for the Joker, his voice was the most distinguishable out of all of them. The Joker had a creepy, disfigured mouth which interrupted his pattern of speech several times. He also held a consistently calm tone the entire time, which was different than the mob members who spoke. Their voices gave off vibes of anger, confusion, and indifference. However, the Joker remained calm and utilized dark comedy to capture the attention of the men he was proposing his idea to. He even goes as far as to mock them a little bit, especially when he calls their mob meeting a “group therapy session.” Then, finally, we hear a swinging door slam and it can be inferred that the Joker left the room at that moment.

My conclusion of the sound/visual together: I thought listening and watching the scene individually gave me a greater understanding once I was able to watch the clip with both aspects cohesively. It put the scene in a more story telling format, but I still understood what was happening within the scene without requiring both audio and visual. My senses were heightened each time I viewed the clip, with my brain actively searching for features of the dialogue and cinematography that would give me clues as to what the expect. When I watched them together, I obviously felt more comfortable. I would prefer the films I watch to have both visual and audio, in order for audiences to gain access to the “full picture.” However, I thought this assignment was great because it forced me to critically think about what features of the dialogue and what features of the video stood out and illuminated how the plot would continue. It was actually very fun to do!

Gardner Campbell: Personal Cyberinfrastructure Post

Review of Gardner Campbell: His Thoughts on Education and His Idea of a Personal Cyberinfrastructure

To begin, Gardner Campbell’s article, A Personal Cyberinfrastructure, brought several problems to my attention, while simultaneously interesting me by his perspective on the failures of education. After reading Campbell’s article and watching his presentation, I can honestly say that, as a graduating senior about to enter the competitive job market, I am concerned that I am not as familiar with digital technologies as some of my friends and classmates. It is VERY true, though. At all of my internships throughout college, I have somehow slid by with a very basic understanding of Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. While I am better versed in applications of digital photography, I still think I am part of the population he expresses is lagging behind in their digital proficiency and innovation.

An aspect of the article that jumped out at me was his notion that students’ creativity is stunted by their desire to get a good grade on an assignment, which essentially means “write what you think the teacher wants to read.” This makes total sense and I can relate to it on a personal basis. As an English major, I have written a great deal of papers in my college career. What I can honestly say is that I tend to base my paper’s argument on things my professors have stated he or she believes is true of said paper topic. In our society, academic success comes in the form of A’s and B’s, anything above average. I think Campbell does a eloquent and thorough job at explaining why this trend is dangerous for students entering the professional work world. Teachers should want their students to be ahead of the curve, especially with the growing prominence of technology in our world.

As for the video, I found Campbell’s presentation to be a bit baffling. It was a large amount of information, concepts, his scattered thoughts, and tech terms to take in in only 50 minutes. Like I’ve said before, I am new at this. What I did take away from the lecture: Campbell asserts that the way to progress past the “digital facelift” is through the education of our society’s young people. The components of education he emphasized were 1) narrating, 2) curating, and 3) sharing. Narrating, meaning the involvement of students and teachers actively thinking aloud, or blogging. By “curating,” he means the way we arrange our thoughts, questions, and information for the public sphere. Campbell also emphasized here that he has often found that many students don’t believe they are truly doing anything of value with their school work. I thought this was really interesting because I often feel like I am just going through the motions in school. For example, there is only one RIGHT way to organize an academic paper. You must present an intro with a thesis statement, several body paragraphs with supporting points, maybe a paragraph of context for the thesis, and then, a conclusion. It is all so cut and dry I feel like there is little opportunity for me to be creative in my classes- EVEN AS AN ENGLISH MAJOR! As for Campbell’s third solution is sharing. This term accounts for how you choose to get your word out there for people to hear. Campbell kindly pointed out that someone may find what you think valuable! I love how he called this the “unmet friend.” Every under-appreciated English major’s dream.

I genuinely want to be part of the technology generation that makes complete use of the opportunities current digital provide us. Campbell convinced me to at least try. I don’t think 22 is too late to learn.

The Dog Days Are Over

The Dog Days Are Over
Daily Create #2

Written by Hayley Eckhardt on June 24, 2014 6:00 pm

From a sitting position, Sid relieved his front legs and stretched out on the wooden deck of the hotel. In the scorching heat, he lazily drank from a ceramic bowl of water that some kind lady had set out for him to enjoy. Sid reflected back on the past 63 years of his life and wondered how it was possible that he was only 9 in human years. Something didn’t seem right about that, it didn’t seem fair.

A sudden rush of movement caught his sight as he carefully sat upright, hoping he wouldn’t hurt his old bones. On all fours, Sid neared the edge of the patio to investigate the situation at hand. From there, he saw a piece of glimmering paper. Suspicious at first, he sauntered over to the shiny object. A step closer and he knew what it was simply from the smell that wafted into his wet nose. “That,” he thought to himself, “is a candy bar.”

Sid knew it was human food, he had seen his family enjoy them plenty of times. Standing directly over the object, he noticed that there was still remnants of the chocolate bar remaining! Eagerly, he devoured the silky chocolate, wrapper and all. Sid then heard a cry from the same woman who had brought him the bowl of water. He slowly turned towards the commotion and heard her say, “off to the vet we go.”

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