Fantascope

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Fantascope is the name of one of the first devices used to view moving images in the 19 centuries, and the pre cursor of today’s film projector.  So every month this section of the blog will look at news from the movie industry.

This month we address a recent controversy over the remake of the Ghostbusters film. If you haven’t seen the movie or heard about the controversy, the issue that shook up many fans of the original film was that the Ghostbusters are now all played by women. The original line up was all men.

I confess I am a fan of the original movie and finding out about the all women cast only wanted to make me watch it more. So what’s the big deal?

Well to many devoted fans, this is a contradiction of the original movie. Sure the characters are still smart, funny and chasing ghost, just that now they have an option to where skirts or dress.

How does changing the sex of the original cast take away anything from the movie or story line? Would it make a difference if all the Avengers were women? What a James Bond that was of an African descendant?

 

A film with a cult following can have such a dramatic affect, especially when a remake is done. There are various examples of this in movies like Star Wars and Star Trek. And there is a debate if you should even attempt to remake a classic, like Ben-Hur (for those of you who may not know this but the original Ben Hur was produced in 1959, and it became an epic movie).

What is your take on the Ghostbusters? If there is really something wrong in your neighborhood, would you still call the Ghostbusters?

Attenborough: 60 Years in the Wild

Attenborough: 60 Years in the Wild is a 3-part documentary video series by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) featuring Sir David Attenborough.

 


 

 

Episode 1: Life on Camera

Watch direct from Academic Video Online (opens in a new tab).

Summary*: Sir David Attenborough gives his unique perspective on over half a century of innovation in wildlife filmmaking – developments that have brought ever more breathtaking and intimate images of wildlife to our television screens, changing our view of life on the planet forever. He revisits key places and events in his filming career, reminisces with his old photos and reflects on memorable wildlife footage – including him catching a komodo dragon and swimming with dolphins. Returning to his old haunts in Borneo, he recalls the challenges of filming in a bat cave and shows how with modern technology we can now see in the dark.


If your embedded video cannot play properly, click here (and if prompted, login with your NTU network account) and then come back here to Reload/Refresh this page. 

Alternatively, watch direct from Academic Video Online.


Episode 2: Understanding the Natural World

Summary*: David Attenborough reviews the most exciting scientific discoveries that have transformed our view of life on earth during his lifetime. How and where did life first begin? How do continents move? How do animals communicate? And why do they behave the way they do? In a story of individual passions, dedication and ingenious insights he shares his memories of the scientists and the breakthroughs that helped shape his own career. He also recalls some of his more hair-raising attempts to bring new science to a television audience – by standing in the shadow of an erupting volcano as lumps of hot lava crashed around him, by being charged by a group of armed New Guinean tribesmen and the extraordinary sight of chimps hunting monkeys, captured on camera for the first time by Attenborough and his team.


If your embedded video cannot play properly, click here (and if prompted, login with your NTU network account) and then come back here to Reload/Refresh this page. 

Alternatively, watch direct from Academic Video Online.


Episode 3: Our Fragile Planet

Summary*: Sir David Attenborough reflects on the dramatic impact that humankind has had on the natural world within his own lifetime. He tells the surprising and deeply personal story of the changes he has seen, of the pioneering conservationists with who he has worked – and of the global revolution in attitudes towards nature that has taken place within the last six decades. In a journey that takes him from the London Zoo to the jungles of Borneo, Attenborough reveals what inspired him to become a conservationist. He remembers classic encounters with mountain gorillas, blue whales and the giant tortoise, Lonesome George. These are all characters that have helped to change public attitudes to the natural world.


If your embedded video cannot play properly, click here (and if prompted, login with your NTU network account) and then come back here to Reload/Refresh this page. 

Alternatively, watch direct from Academic Video Online.


*Note: Summary taken from Academic Video Online.

War – The Reality

Image taken from Microsoft Clip Art

Image taken from Microsoft Clip Art

We are lucky in Singapore; our existence is a peaceful one. Yet in many other parts of the world, there are millions of people who live in war-torn climates. There are many people whose lives echo with the sounds of gun fire, explosion and cries for lost loved ones.

All of us have seen war movies, watch the news footage of war and seen still images of war torn regions. Many of these images are difficult to view as it reminds us that our world is not as peaceful as we sometimes think it is. War is not just a story in the news or a movie on screen, it is really and happening as we speak.

Film makers and journalists know the responsibility they have to bring audiences coverage of these wars. The story is very important in such cases, but many a times, you will find, being completely impartial is very difficult. Still it is important to tell these stories.

No matter how we look at it, war is about human beings and the challenges we face to understand one another. This is why we must never forget the importance of stability and understanding and the gift of peace.

Here are some powerful movies about War from our NTU Libraries Collection.

Women in Communication

Strong Women

If you are reading this on 8 March and there is a lady sitting near you, turn and wish her Happy International Women’s Day.

UNESCO has set aside this day every year to celebrate women and their achievements and there is no better day to take a look at women in the field of communication.

And being the good librarian that I am, I have done up some resources concentrating on women and communication.

Below are some books to check out, but if you are more of the visual type, there is also a list of movies to borrow. These lists are by no means exhaustive, I am sure you have your own take on some great books and movies dealing with the feminine mystic. The United Nations also have a list of resources on Gender and Women’s Issues.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Books
Women in Mass Communication
Women and Advertising
Women and Stereotype

DVDs
The Iron Lady
Pretty Woman
Women without Men
Why women count
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Birds
Breakfast at Tiffany

The New York Times – Anatomy of a Screen

Image taken from 'Anatomy of a Scene' site from The New York Times

Have you watched a really great movie and admired the way the scene or scenes were shot. The colour, balance, framing and lighting, then you may be interested to check out The New York Times – Anatomy of a Screen.

The site allows you to take a close look at selected scenes from various movies. You will be able to hear from the directors themselves on why they chose to film these scenes in that particular manner.

If you need a little inspiration for your next film project, take a look and listen and maybe you might get a creative spark, if not, it is a great site to learn more about your favourite movies

Safety and a Show

It’s the end of the year and many are making plans to travel. We travel so much nowadays; getting on a plane, to many of us, is no more a unique experience. We get on and off planes like we get on and off buses or trains.

And admit it, you don’t pay attention to the safety video anymore, do you?

So to get you to look and listen to these videos, airlines (for a while now) have been trying to jazz up their on-board safety videos. The most famous of course are the Air New Zealand ones with the Hobbits, Dwarfs and anything else from Lord of the Rings.

But these videos also serve as a great promotional and advertising tool. People blog about them, Facebook their comments after watching and even rate them, like this blog site. Also unlike a commercial on television you cannot just turn the television off or flip to a new channel. These videos are fun and well-made so you get the best of both worlds.

There is not much research into the ‘safety video’ as a promotional or advertising tool, but it could make for an interesting paper (hint hint if you need ideas for an upcoming assignment).

So pay attention next time to these videos, you could learn a thing or two, and not just where the exits are.

History of the The Great

You may be asking yourself, why would I watch a video about Alexander the Great, when I am not a history major. Well, firstly, it won’t hurt and I promise you it’s not boring, and secondly, it will give you a chance to take a break from your work (and you can claim your break is for educational purposes).

But as you watch this video of Alexander the Great, you will realise there are some striking similarities to how we see modern day celebrities and how we elevate people who are famous. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at the video.

It gives you something to think about as well when you are doing research. Sometimes there is a need to look at historical data and events to gain a better understanding of how theories and culture have evolved. But you might be surprised to learn that some things never change.

And you thought history was boring……

Short of the Week – Film Future

Short of the week

Here is a blog site to explore. Known as ‘Short of the Week’, this site is an interesting place to find and view short films from all different parts of the world, read articles written by film-makers and film-lovers, as well as keep updated with film festival news. They even have interviews with film festival participants and directors.

It is sometimes hard to find such content, as many mainstream film magazines tend to concentrate on the more well-known and popular directors and producers. Blog sites like ‘Short of the week’ tend to concentrate on the smaller productions which younger or new film makers may be able to connect with better.

I enjoyed the articled entitled ‘Fade to Black – Is the Feature Film Dying?’. I also enjoyed watching some of the short films, there are several genres to choose from and all are beautifully produced.

But as we like to cater for both the fun seeker and academic learner, here’s a book you may enjoy which also raises the question, ‘Do the movies have a future?’

You can use sites like this in your research or literature review, of course, added with other academic and scholarly sources for a more comprehensive research. Remember, your librarians would love to help you with your literature reviews so come look for us if you need help.

 

Through my looking Glass

“If you could only see things from my point-of-view” — how many times have you heard someone say this or a version of this to you or someone else?

Maybe if I put on a pair of glasses and turned what I saw into short films, you could see my point-of-view better. This is what Google has decided to try to do with their Glass.

Entitled Glass Films, this YouTube Channel is dedicated to films made through Google Glass and many of them by young film makers who are fresh out from films school in the United States.

My favourite is ‘Seeds’, a touching story of a man’s journey back home to India to see his mother.

It is interesting to think of the possibilities of using these Glass to make movies. Will it work for long feature presentations? Could it capture the same images as that of a high definition camera? Is there is way to blend this kind of filming with traditional filming methods? What are the new skills needed for film makers these days?

But for now enjoy these films and take a look at what these people see through their Glass.

American Remake of the Asian Films – Flop or Fantastic

American remake

I came across this article from Movie.com highlighting some of Hollywood’s attempts to remake some Asian Films. While these Asian films were successfully executed, their American remakes may not have hit the spot. Personally I think that the best Kung Fu movies are done by Asian directors. When the Americans try and do it, it just seems unrealistic and more fantasy than reality. But that’s just me, you may have other thoughts.

Read the article here, and see if you agree or have your own selections of what was done well and what should not have been done.

World Television Day – 21 November

Did you know there is a World Television Day? To be truthful, I didn’t either. That was until I was surfing the internet and discovered that UNESCO has officially made the 21st of November, World Television Day.

I will admit I don’t think I can live without a television. Sure, there is the Internet and YouTube, and all kind of portable devices to watch videos from, but there is still nothing like watching a program on television.

When I was growing up, televisions were still huge, bulky and heavy. I can even remember owning a television without a remote control (this was when I was still very young of course, I am not that old).

Television was the first device to bring moving images directly to your home, completely changing the landscape of how people were entertained, enticed and engaged.

Go to these websites to find out more about World Television Day
http://www.worldtelevisionday.tv/
http://lightbox.time.com/2013/11/21/on-world-tv-day-reflections-on-the-machine-that-conquered-the-globe/#1

Once upon a TIME, we had a story…….

Red border book

Once upon a Time there was the magazine, Time Magazine that is. Now the magazine has come up with a new way to tell their stories and it is known as the Red Border Films.

Red Border Films are short films based on the stories from their magazine; the films are an extension of these stories. You can even follow Red Border Films on Twitter and Facebook.

To find out more about Red Border Films go to http://newsfeed.time.com/time-launches-red-border-films/. You can also go to Time.com and look for the Red Border Films section on their website. There is an inspiring story of a badly injured US solider who refuses to let his injuries get him down.

Like so many other forms of media looking for new ways to bring to life their stories and attract your ‘eyeballs’, making it more than just written words but a dialogue between the reader and the topic of the story. It becomes a collaborative effort of journalism and film-making, calling on both the talented writer and image maker for one great story.

Rewind, Relook and Realise

Cassette Talking to MP3

In a world of downloaded playlists and digital music players let us not forget the humble cassette tape.

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the cassette tape and yes, they are still in production. The tape was invented by a German man who wanted to make the reel more portable and accessible. Before the cassette tape, reels came in large wheels that made it hard to carry around.

But what the cassette did was change the way media became accessible to the masses, especially the music industry. It became easier to record music, words and sounds, and then distribute your music (all you needed was a portable cassette player and you could play your song). You could say this gave rise to the Walkman, which in turn evolved into the portable music players we have today.

But don’t think the cassette tape is a thing of the past — in regions where the Internet is not yet accessible and downloading music is not an option, the cassette tape and its player is still the best option. Also, there are music connoisseurs and sentimentalists that still hold cassette tapes close to their hearts and say that they sound better. (Or maybe you think it is just nostalgia that drive these opinions)

Media devices have evolved and digital seems to be the buzz word but what about older media devices? Look at the music industry, see how it has evolved with technological breakthroughs. Even the word ‘download’ was not a commonly used word 20 years ago. Issues in today’s media environment were never there before ‘download’ emerged.

Take a closer look at the music industry and understand its evolution.

Here are some books on the music trade, all available at the NTU libraries.

Film English

Film EnglishFilm is a great media, all communication students know this. We can learn a lot through films. Great films tell a story, carry a moral and make the audiences think. The way the director shoots the film teaches us about angles and cinematography. Even the bad films teach us what not to do.

Film-English is an interesting website that uses film to teach language. Kieran Donaghy, who teaches at a University in Barcelona, started this website with a pre-set lesson, using short films as a key component, to teach English to his students.

But film students can also learn a thing or two from the website. It gives a unique way to use film and the website also has a film glossary. Not to mention some interesting short films embedded in the website.

So explore the website, and you may see film in a different light.

 

It’s the end of the world as we know it….or is it, I can’t tell

End of the world switch

Have you ever noticed that most high-octane, big-budget movies in the cinema, very often has to do with saving the planet? The world as we know it always seems to be coming to an end. But just in the nick of time, a hero steps up to rally the troops, gives an inspirational speech and saves the day.  While there are everyday heroes in our lives, nothing is ever like it is in these movies.

Still, it is always good to know about the world around you and every upcoming event (it helps one to appreciate the things and people in our lives). So check out some of the ‘end of the world’ movies from our NTU audio visual collection, and who knows, you could just be the hero the world is looking for.
Independence Day
2012
War of the worlds
Men in Black
Prometheus
Natural Disasters