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I'm working on an educational computer program, and I think I'm stuck. This program is meant to educate storytellers on how to combine different types of media effectively.
I have a theory that all media is made up of these six basic elements (see image). For instance, a book would be "written words". A picture book would be "written words" and "still images". And a movie would usually be "moving images, " "music, " "sound, " and "spoken words." My goal is to list the benefits and drawbacks to each element. In other words, if you could tell a story in any way whatsoever, why would you use writing? Why would you use moving images? Etc. But... I don't actually know what the pros and cons to each of these things are. That's what I'm stuck on. Any ideas?
edited 24th Feb '12 5:37:05 PM by AlexisPius
Diagonalizing The MatrixThink of your favorite action scene from a movie. Then try writing it out. This should give you an idea. A friend of mine and I have this long-standing in-joke of a possible novelization of James Bond movies. "And then the bad guy tried to shoot him, but Bond jumped aside! Pew! Pew! Down goes the chandelier! Crystal fragments everywhere! Boom! The bad guy thinks he got Bond, but no, he can't see behind him and there's Bond, knocking him unconscious! Pew Pew Pew boom! And helicopters! And gunfire everywhere! And the nuclear truck is chasing them all the while!"
edited 5th Feb '12 12:55:19 PM by TripleElation
Pretentious quote || In-joke from fandom you've never heard of || Shameless self-promotion || Something weird you'll habituate to
Elation - Yes, good idea. I should find some story that exists in several different formats and see what the differences are. Also, here are a few hypothetical differences between media elements that I'm toying around with:
Euo will do!If you want to see how to play with various media and the differences/ similarities therein... one name springs to mind. Neil Gaiman. Closely followed by Dave McKean, for some reason. Then, there is the more Ur example: Douglas Adams. What he didn't know about TV and Radio wasn't worth writing down. Enjoy the weirdness! But, beware, it's contagious.
edited 5th Feb '12 3:25:13 PM by Euodiachloris
Terracotta Soldier ManFirst, props on the avatar. Second, it might be worth noting that the visual and auditory elements are also subject to different interpretations as well, even if they might be a little easier to bridge than a language gap. For example:
- Euodia Yes , yes! Smart. Also, I know that Lord of the Rings has been at least had a book version (obviously), a film version, a radio drama, an audio book version - even though they are all somewhat different variants. - Specialist Yes, that raises a couple good questions... the whole idea behind the 'linguistic' category is that it's coded information.. So where do things like body language and such fit in? Yeah, that's a tough one. I'll need to look into this further... Also, thank you - you have a lovely avatar as well.
edited 5th Feb '12 7:40:28 PM by AlexisPius
Euo will do!As LOTR is mainly adapted to other media by other people, it's not quite the same as seeing what a single (mostly) mind does to the same tale across media (Executive Meddling notwithstanding - that'd be Neverwhere: TV version). The same problem strikes with Hitchhiker's - the film is not the way Douglas Adams would have made it. I know that for sure. Come to think: the various incarnations of Firefly would be go-to tales, as well. PS Urgh - the downside to Neil Gaiman's work: the number of brackets you need to use in describing it.
- Euodia Hah, yes. Although this program I'm making will incorporate a bunch of different types of media to illustrate each element. So it would be nice to use single scenes from the same story, but told in different formats as examples. Sorry, that might be little confusing. For example, have the audience read an excerpt from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and then show that same scene from the radio drama. It might not be too big of a deal for the creators to be different for each medium.
edited 5th Feb '12 9:13:33 PM by AlexisPius
Ahr riverOne thing that you can never do in a comic that you can do in a show and a book is blink. You can show someone running for their lives, and in the background establish pages upon pages of world building and character design in one measly panel, but whatever you do, just don't try and show someone blinking So that's your benefit and drawback of visual written. You can establish many things, but small actions are much harder to depict. Also, the pacing is different. Twenty pages of a book is a lot. Twenty pages of a comic (Assuming it's not text heavy) is a breeze. At the same time, it usually means more has to be shown in comics, due to the visual nature of it. Since every reaction requires a new picture, which means a new panel, it usually means that comic books cover shorter periods of times in longer chunks. This can lead to scripts to them being deceivingly long. Of course, it once again depends on the type of comic, which is another benefit. The sheer fluidity of it. More dialogue than most people would ever fit on a page What basically amounts to a paragraph or two in a page I don't even know how you'd describe this
edited 6th Feb '12 6:08:17 AM by MrAHR
I can haz foods?I dunno, I'm pretty sure I've seen a Calvin And Hobbes strip or two that had Calvin blinking.
I am merely a hell of a deer.
- AHR Wow. That's just - it's so brilliantly concise. I need to find some way to apply those sorts of limitations to all the elements, and also a way of simply describing it. Ah, sorry, it's just a lot to think about
Ahr riverYamii: Well, you...you can. I was mostly venting my own frustrations. Basically, in order to show a proper full blink action, you need three panels. Open-close-open. A blink is supposed to be a VERY quick action, which simply can't be conveyed with something that takes three panels to do. You have things like this: >_< Faces that have their eyes closed, but that isn't meant to represent blinking, anymore than ^_^ is. In fact, the most accurately blinking face I could see would be one that's squinting, or a face that's all blank, like o__o I think some people might include blink sound effects (which is slightly cheating, since blinking doesn't have a sound effect, but I digress), but it's not easy to draw, that's for sure. You can have wincing, winking, slow closing of eyes, and plenty of other variations, but the smaller and quicker the action is, the harder it can be to depict properly. Although, it still depends on what it is. Pius: Ah, you flatter me. ^_^; Don't give me all the credit, I took inspiration from what Alan Moore said about the film industry. A movie can only spend so much time on a shot, but you can spend all the time in the world on one panel. As a result, the two are entirely different mediums, which is why he doesn't see his comics as prime movie material, because they are two different types of art. Oh, and Scott Mccloud. I knew about the blinking thing before him, but he's the one who put it in concreteness.
edited 6th Feb '12 1:06:22 PM by MrAHR
- ARH Hah! That is such a strange coincidence. Firstly, my ideas about the reading having control over time (with things like still images and written words) came from something I read by Alan Moore - I think the same thing you quoted. And secondly, I'm preparing to go out and get some books from the library and one of them is by Scott McCloud. Strange coincidence.
edited 6th Feb '12 1:30:39 PM by AlexisPius
Euo will do!To take another comic-only example related to the blink: Gaiman's The Sandman - the character Eve has a tendency to cleanly shift shapes between panels, even whilst in mid-dialogue and full-view - an effect you just can't get in any other medium. The same trick is used in an epic fight between Loki and the Corinthian II <shudders> when Loki shifts to try psychological warfare. (Fat chance of that, mate: you chose the wrong nightmare to mess with...) The Three also have a tendency of using it to switch places mid-dialogue. Eve (kinda one of them, ish)... is just more blatant (and effective) with it. Plus, as there's only one of her, it comes off more as the shape-shift, rather than swapping Russian dolls about. In film and TV, about the only way you'd do this is a T-1000 morph, but it just wouldn't have the same clean impact. If you just cut from one look to the other in a second, it'd also just look... like you can't edit for toffee. A cut-away to a close up of another character mid-dialogue would also come across as... rather cheap, these days. In radio or text, you'd spend a paragraph or so describing it, and lose the pacing. Stardust and Neverwhere show many such changes between the media like this: you'll get tricks in one form that, for obvious reasons, can't turn up in the others. Mirrormask is the closest you'll come to seeing some of the comic-derived graphical tricks done on film - in ways that are even more mind-bendy than Coraline (the movie) manages with the stop-motion. Yet, you still won't see the Eve-trick - only something close to it. CGI might be closing the gaps between the graphical media, but it can only do so much.
edited 6th Feb '12 2:27:17 PM by Euodiachloris
Ahr riverPlus, CGI tends to make things look too clean half the time. A real explosion still trumps a cgi explosion due to the debris and what else have you. Now, one advantage in books is the internal monologue. Since you basically have a narrator all the time, it's way easier to get away with interesting tid bits and facts. Of course, movies can usually convey similar things with just a crook of a face, so it goes both ways. And the reason why I posted in this thread was to cross post! When responding to someone else critiquing my work
Yeah, comics are a tad bit of a different medium than books. Named characters are confusing. Visually recognizable extras (Who are named in script for my ease) barely register as something worth remembering, and keep the town looking...well...not full of blandness. Bleach is easy proof of this. You might not be able to recognize a name, but so long as the characters look unique and diverse, you can usually recognize any character even if it's been years since you've last seen them. You also see this when people can tell that characters are from X show based solely on the art style, but never saw them before, or even know their name. You can especially see this in something like Lucky Star. But now I'm just gushing about visual vs. written stuff...—kicks topic to somewhere else—
edited 7th Feb '12 10:04:42 AM by MrAHR
Okay, first things first. I'm still stuck. It might Help if I count find some helpful books abut various different media forms. Or maybe ones about aesthetics, I don't know. I found a little bit by Aristotle and Plotinus: "[these genres] differ from one another in three respects: namely, by producing mimesis in different media, of different objects, or in different modes... Just as some people use colors and shapes to render mimetic images of many things, others use... rhythm, language, and melody, either separately or in combinations." - Aristotle (The Poetics) "Beauty is mostly in sight, but it is to be found too in things we hear, in combinations of words and also in music." - Plotinus (On Beauty)
- AHR Hm, yeah. One thing I'm trying to figure out is why things like narration seem more acceptable in literature than in stories with visual elements. And why ar there acceptions to this (e.g. Barry Lyndon and Kaiji)? Is it a matter of consistency? What I mean is - does narration only work if it is used consistanty throughout a work? What about other elements? For example, are things like moving images only acceptable if they are used throughout a work? And on the subject of CGI, where does that fit into the elements? Is it just another style of producing images, like film or 2D animation? And now that you mention comics, I'm thinking about what elements are compatible with one another. For example are written text and still images naturally compatible with one another because both of them allow the audience control over time? Are sound effects, music, and spoken words all compatible because they all rely on the sense of hearing?
Gaah, so much stuff to think about...
Gods! I wrote that last post on an ipad and it was just like chewing on tinfoil. That disgusting machine is designed for typing out one-sentence tweets with no punctuation, not for writing out proper text. And my computer's all weird - gah! Whew, okay...
- Euodia As for the thing about switching between different art styles, I think that still images naturally allow this to be done slightly easier. But I have seen examples where an animated film switches between styles when it cuts form one shot to another. I remember very distinctly seeing an animated film about a black girl that had multiple animators and art styles, but for some reason I can't find the title of it anywhere. it's like it's disappeared from the face of the earth. And there was another short art film about an autistic kid going the 7/11 that would abruptly switch between art styles without any cuts. Naturally, i can't find that one either. Today's just not my day. Oh, and see my comment to AHR asking where things like CGI would fit into this scheme.
edited 9th Feb '12 11:20:54 AM by AlexisPius
Writer's Welcome WagonCouldn't you get the changing between panels effect by using camera shots? I saw this one music video ("Good Intent" by Kimbra *) where the singer is shown in three different colors (red, white, and block). In one part of the video, she is shown dancing with a man, but between angles, the color of her dress changes. This is done almost seamlessly. The same effect can't be done if the same angle is used for multiple "panels", but...
Euo will do!Hmmm - didn't so much mean the art-style shifting (although that can be effective: The Sandman, again, does this a lot when artists are changed during arcs. Can really add to the feel of the whole thing. I meant the actual character shifting ages/ shapes deliberately pretty much for every panel she's in (Eve and The Three).
That was the effect I was trying to describe. But, in Eve's case, as she does it for almost every paragraph she says (well, most of the time - if she knows a character she's talking to isn't used to the weirdness, she doesn't do this: that is in itself a cue about what she thinks about them)... Um... The result would become far less subtle and a lot more jarring on film once you've gone past two such changes. In panel-form, it works, as it is affords a natural beat-space that doesn't interfere with the story.
And, yes Alexis - a few books on comparative studies would be a class idea: then, you'd be wowing with the right terminology on top of everything else! I'm strictly amateur hour - all my observations are only those of somebody who reads and watches a lot, but who hasn't actually studied the topic, as such.
edited 9th Feb '12 12:39:22 PM by Euodiachloris
Euo will do!Just thought of something: perfect cross-media fodder (and, topical, as well). The Woman in Black. Enjoy!
Also, since this seems like a helpful place, I'll post this image. Normally I don't include it when I discuss my project, because it tends to enrage and confuse people for some reason. The image is the three basic genres / goals / purposes of media. They are divided into: - Tools, which are meant to actively change something about the audience (change their opinion, educate them, arouse them, inform them, make them want to buy something, etc.) - Entertainment, which is meant to, eh... entertain. That is, hold the viewer's attention for some time, maybe evoking emotion, pleasure, or distraction. - Aesthetics, which is meant to evoke an aesthetic response. That is - a sort of non-intellectual gut reaction.
I'd say that media can combine these different genres, but in any given work one will always have to be dominant, and another will have to be secondary. For instance, The Daily Show or similar shows may have both entertainment and news, but I would argue that the creators would have to focus on one.
Another question I have is about ‘’live’’ vs. ‘’recorded’’ media. Should those be included as categories? What are the benefits and drawbacks each? Anyways, after talking with some people, I don't really have a clearer idea of the differences between different elements. That is - what the pros and cons to each element is, what elements work well together, and what elements naturally conflict with one another. I'll need to think about this more though. But actually I think I'm getting closer, I just need to think on this a little bit longer.
- Euodia Ah yes. I guess that probably has to do with the whole difference between who controls the passage of time. Hmm... yeah, okay. How about this - maybe since the audience has control over the passage of time with still images, they have to fill in some blanks for themselves. So maybe... with things like comics maybe the author can show less? I mean, looking at your example of The Sandman, the audience sort of fills in the transformation part themselves? Hmm, that doesn't seem like the complete explanation though... And yeah, I do need to find more books and examples on this stuff. But good suggestions so far! I'll look up those ones you've mentioned.
edited 11th Feb '12 2:38:33 PM by AlexisPius
Euo will do!I can immediately see the source of some of the complaint. But, I agree that pornography (and, probably some B-movies, as well — especially the ones good for recruiting the next gen of soldiers) would probably go under 'Tools', rather than 'Art' or (the more likely) 'Entertainment'. In fact, come to think, B-movies as a whole would straddle Entertainment and Tools, depending. Art-house should... well... do what it says on the tin, right? Am I right about that being the bone of contention?
Yes - live: theatre, readings, stand-up, music jigs, news, the live-recorded shows (broadcast at the same time as recorded: soaps like to play with this, not just reality-based) and some documentaries. They all have their pre-production plans and tricks to deal with the somewhat unpredictable nature of their medium. And, little inclination, less or no time to edit the product in the way of more packaged formats. Yup: pre-production is the key link to stress, here, I think, not post-. A scale? All pre-production, zero post- (living) to some pre-production, loads of post- (packaged)? Hmmm. Valid observation, there, Alexis. In my opinion, at least.
edited 12th Feb '12 7:46:01 AM by Euodiachloris
Oh, one other thing! I think that one good way to figure out the differences between different elements would be to ask different authors and fans why they like Certain media over others. For instance, asking a comic book author or a fan of comic books why they like that particular media might shed some light onto the different benefits and draw-backs to different media, My question is: do you think people would get upset if I went ton the different forums here and asked them this question? Some other forums might consider that "spam" or something.
-Euodia Yes, exactly! The idea was that it would be impossible to group media that seems to have multiple goals. My argument is that this isn't meant for analyzing other peoples' media. This is meant for people who are crafting their own media, so that they can have a more clear picture of what they're doing. What I mean is that I think it is good for creators to have a clear idea of exactly what they want to do, and not try to cram in a bunch of different goals, because that waters down everything (in my opinion) Hmm, hmm, hmm... And live vs. recorded is seeming like a good idea. There are certain other examples of it that I think show the potential uses of it (see Sleep Is Death). Although it might bring into question things like multiplayer online games, or even games in general. It might just be a different sort under the category of "dynamic."
edited 12th Feb '12 10:32:46 AM by AlexisPius
Terracotta Soldier ManI'd suggest replacing "Pornography" with "Stimulation" — that's its primary purpose, and there's other forms of stimulation than erotic. That'll take care of part of your problem.
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