Tuesday, December 6, 2016

National Film Registry Campaign (Logo and Style Guide)

A new logo for the National Film Registry was long overdue. This is one of the central reasons we decided to choose this Program for our campaign. The current logo for the National film registry is pictured below:

It does a beautiful job of conjuring images of stylish parachute pants and remarkable innovative VHS tapes. Fortunately for our purposes, this was due for an update. In considering what the aesthetic of our new Registry would look like, we discussed a lot about our target audience. The main shortcoming of the current logo is simply how boring it is. 

A major flaw of the current NFR logo was its lack of foresight. Once you know it was made almost 30 years ago, its very hard to forget. The color and line and the use of the eagle was a little bit trendy, and so it didn't age well. It was not timeless, it was trendy. The gradient color was no doubt beautiful in 1989, when it was conceived, but lacks a clean, simple design that is prevalent in media consumed by younger audiences:

Ideally, the logo becomes an icon by which people can recognize your brand without the need for the text. Just like Facebook, Twitter and Tinder, we can all recognize the logos without the actual titles of the platform. It was pop culture imagery like this that helped to inspire the simplistic logo for our new national film registry.

When considering the logo for our National Film Registry, I thought a rose would be appropriate, since it is a common practice to throw or gift flowers (traditionally red or pink roses) to a performer after a great performance. The association there of course being that the movies included in the Registry are of a rare high quality.

The typeface for our style guide was primarily decided by what was available on our website software. We had the discussion early on that we would not be using script fonts in this campaign, but rather we would adhere to either old style/transitional fonts or modern, Avenir art-deco style. Personally, I am a fan of serif fonts, so Playfair was right for me. The other text on here is Modern no. 20, which is what we ideally would have used for headings, I think, but we were confined to what we could find on Wix, so we came as close as we could. 

From early on, we decided on a black and white theme with an accent color would be the most classic and dynamic design. We first decided on a vintage yellow color, bitter lemon, inspired by a line of converse shoes,

But after some thought, we decided to go a little more traditional. We wanted to avoid being trendy, and instead kept an eye on longevity, trying to make our brand last as long as possible before a re-branding is due.

Just before we came to the final decision, I tried to make the red a brighter shade, but for some reason any shade brighter than the current one would evoke images of Nazi propaganda, so it was important to keep in mind the psychological context of people looking at this logo. We want people to like it, not fear it, and hopefully we struck a nice balance.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Wes Anderson Mis en scene

Wes Anderson

Director and Screenwriter: Darjeeling Limited

Since his directorial debut in the 90's with the film Bottle Rocket, Wes Anderson has created a unique cinematic style over his career in the last two decades. In class we talked about Ridley Scott and his versatility in directing many different films with different styles, well Wes Anderson is the opposite; he's made a very comfortable niche for himself in the world of film making by creating movies that are visual trademarks for him. After watching a couple of them, it is easy to distinguish a Wes Anderson film from others. His pacing, the production design, the writing, and the visual aesthetic all work together to create an image that is simultaneously beautiful, simple, and stimulating.

Pictured above is a Wes Anderson color palette showing the names of movies and the primary colors used for all of the artistic designs. As we saw in the clip, color does so much to bring the location to life and even helps the location become a character in itself. This is particularly effective in a location like India, where the film takes place. Having common colors and displaying them in a particular setting or in a particular way lends credence to the idea of key tokens.

Key Tokens-- We can see in these pictures a directors trademark of Wes Anderson, which is something I've noticed from simply being a fan of his movies; the yellow bathrobe is a token of Jason Schwartzman's character, and it appears throughout the film, but always in a way that connects to him.

In fact, this idea of tokens is so strong in this film that when it was marketed, none of the actual actors were shown in the artwork, only their important effects; Jason Schwartzman's mustache and hair, Adrien Brody's sunglasses, Owen Wilson's facial bandage. these things are all defining parts of these characters, and serve as tokens for them.

Anderson also has well composed frames in his films: we saw in the earlier scene his use of the rule of thirds when it comes to lining up horizons, using diagonal lines to move the eye through the frame, and offsetting the subject of the shot. These rules help to create a very engaging visual experience, and Anderson uses them all of the time.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Thirds, Diagonals, and Vectors

This image, which is undeniably simple in every way, utilizes the rule of thirds, diagonals and vectors to move the eye through the image and generate energy. The bottom line of the "tic tac toe" board coincides with the depth of field just behind the small stone on the pavement. The upper horizontal line runs along the horizontal stone wall and through the housing development. Due to its natural highlight, the yellow road line serves as an excellent diagonal to move the eye from the bottom of the frame towards the far horizon, which lies exactly in the upper center of the photograph. The stone itself lies in the intersection of the lower and right lines, where subjects can be placed in photos to generate interest. I should also point out that this image contains quite a bit of contrast, considering the size and texture of the stone and its shadow compared to the asphalt. The greens, blues and reds of the background are in stark contrast to the grays, blacks and synthetic yellow of the foreground.

When I moved to the desert, I was stricken by how prehistoric the landscape here feels. This rock has been in existence since before there were roads, or people, or asphalt, and now it finds itself in the most unusual of places. Imagine the things this rock has seen, perhaps it once rested at the bottom of a prehistoric ocean, or was created in the heart of a volcano. Roads were meant to be traveled on, and this picture suggests that this rock has farther still to go. I don't mean to make a travel blog for a stone, but this thought could be applied to all of nature using the rock as a metaphor for the persistence of the natural world. That message alone is exciting and positive, and looking at the yellow line, I cant help but hear a refrain of "Follow the Yellow Brick Road." Follow it, little Rock.

"We need the tonic of wilderness... We can never have enough of nature." -Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Design Comparisons

In the world of theater, those hired to design and create shows begin with a huge disadvantage. Although the market for theater may not be quite as large as film or television, its audience is every bit as varied. The disadvantage comes from the fact that every person in attendance is a person as complex as the next, with a lifetime of memories behind them and experiences that will shape how they react to each emotional stimulus they encounter. The art of theater is manipulation, in a manner of speaking, and the same goes for cinema. I worked in a movie theater for almost two years, and in our lobby we would hang upcoming theatrical release posters, roughly 20 posters at any time. I began to notice towards which posters people would gravitate, and after a time, it was fairly easy to guess which posters would be popular and which would be overlooked. But I never could say for certain what it was about that poster in particular that would attract so much attention, so I decided for this assignment I would use posters for plays to help shed some light on what works and what does not.


The Road Company, NJ
This strikes me as a poor example of Print. It is a wild undersell of a phenomenally active and emotional play. Considering the source material, this poster falls short. the typeface is original, though not especially compelling or cognitively simple to understand. Even the use of Gestalt's Law of Continuity (the stars being bisected by the stripes) isn't used to great effect, psychologically or otherwise. the overlap of the text on the background (figure/ground) seems very sloppy, and further detracts from the already segmented and ugly layout of this poster. The warped stripes on the bottom part of the flag are the beginning of a good idea, but it wasn't executed in an affective way, and that hurts the overall design of the poster.

The attempt at contrast was a valiant one, but ultimately in vain. The symbol of the american flag is simply too common in our society for one to have it as the main symbol in a piece that is supposed to generate interest and grab your attention. Navy blue and brick red against a white background, normally a stark combination, isn't enough to catch the eye or keep me looking this direction. Unfortunately, I can't believe this poster did very well for them.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

National Theatre, Washington D.C.
My eye catches two or three gestalt principles at play in the first few moments of looking at this poster; the Law of similarity draws the eye from the "CURIOUS" in the title to the similarly colored sun spot on the floor; the floor under the boy is made up of hundreds of small squares, which under the Law of Pragnanz appears as larger squares; although the law of continuity isn't explicitly about typeface, the designer did an excellent job of creating direction and flow in the text, which controls the movement of the eye towards the figure in the middle. Contrast is heavy in this poster, and it is to great effect that the designer really saturated it with color. The gradient change from the borders to the center draws the eye inward, and the white and gold text appears clear but complimentary to the blue background. 

The figure in the poster is a 14 year old boy with an autism spectrum condition, and there are many things that happen in the play that would evoke a psychological affective response in us, and many of those things are present in this poster, such as the boy's fascination with outer space, and his obsession over the murder of a neighborhood dog. Having only premiered a few years ago, the iconography of the title alone has become famous in the theatrical community. 

All art forms are subjective, and theater perhaps more than most. Those who do design shows know that every person on the street will react differently to their poster, so it just goes to show the vital importance of making the best product you can, employing as many design principles as is psychologically feasible.

Since I wish I could've talked about the set design of Curious Incident, I decided to include a picture of the actual set from the Apollo, since it's so freakin' unbelievable. I love it. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Contrast, Balance, Harmony

Light creates darkness, and darkness creates light. The fact that contrast exists on a spectrum, and contrast's subsets (position, size, orientation) are relative is the theoretical basis of many design principles. This image shows a man in a dark theater with a white scrim bathed in purple light. "If you shine a green light on a red apple in a pitch black room, what color is the apple?" That's a common brainteaser my 5th grade art teacher would pose to my classroom. As far as I can remember, he never gave us a definitive answer, but I do remember I was of the opinion that under the circumstances the apple would be green. Whatever the purpose of that lesson, it now strikes me as an interesting example of the relativity of color, one of the elements of contrast. Although the purple is very pretty in this image, cascading down the vertical folds of the scrim, It is really the blacks that create the dramatic dynamic. Silhouettes like the one of the man pictured are created by a lack of front light, and without that front light, a stark color contrast is drawn between areas in front of the light and the areas behind the light. since the position of the objects in the image directly affects their color, light is a contributor, or indicator of  both position and orientation. Were the objects in the picture in a different arrangement, they would not have the same effect. The dramatic silhouette could be lost, and the contrast would lessen.

There are many other examples of contrast in this piece. There is the obvious differences in textures and size between the human curvature and the straight lines of the pillars. The vertical pillars excite the eye, and are similar to the vertical drape of the curtain in the back. The brightness ranges from pitch black to a washed out bright purple against the scrim, with the majority of values taking place on the scrim itself. That is where we can see a dramatic change in intensity. The beam angle almost creates a human form against the curtain. One can almost see a face...

Since we are largely stripped of our ability to realize position in this image, the figure and ground are recognized by the way that light bounces off of their angles. Otherwise, there is very little information given visually. One probably would not guess that the object in the bottom left is a baby grand piano with it's cover on. Dramatic lighting is one of my favorite tools in theater. Correctly applied, it can impact an audience in a very profound way. Although it's true that images like the one above can be pretty, the true impact stems from the mystique, the entrancing nature of theater and the desire for catharsis, among other things. I would say "emotion aside, this is what's working here," but I don't think that would be right. Emotion is a factor, as it should be. Much of what theater deals with is bringing to light the contrasts of our world. Anton Chekhov once said the purpose of theater was not to answer a question, but to ask one. This entire ideology is what the world of theater rests upon, it is the context of this piece.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

My Visceral Response

When discussing a visceral response, one image came initially to the front of my mind. "Woman Sitting in A Chair" by Henri Matisse is the first painting that enamored me. Using Richard Seymour's verbiage, it would be stupefying. I was so enamored with this painting that I almost bought a print of it when I was fourteen (considering how "almost" I was to buying it, and how little money I had as a teenager, this was a fairly spiritual decision).

I don't claim to know much about art history, but I do know that Henri Matisse comes from a pioneering school of visual artists known as the expressionists, one of whose tenets it seems is to disregard the rules, in terms of design, and create for the viewer somewhat of an emotional experience. Regardless of Matisse's knowledge of these rules, this is how the elements of design in "Woman Sitting in a Chair" stupefy me.

Line- Hard to ignore the obvious ones. Strong, bold, black diagonal lines create movement and intrigue all throughout the background of the painting. Visually this is done to great effect, because although when you focus on them they overtake the painting, when considered as a whole, the subject is highlighted very adequately. One's eye is drawn towards her and calmed by her presence. Since the black lines create such a busy and positively filled background, another, almost secondary focal point is created above and away from the woman's right shoulder, the left side of the painting.

Color- This is the one that Matisse is famous for. Color is what imbues this painting with life. It gives this woman a soul, in some ways. The first thing that caught my eye about this painting was the small, raspberry red mouth. The circular strokes in the swimming gray-greens of her shorts are hypnotic to me. One thing that is conveyed with the color that would not be told without it is the fact that her shirt is see-through, which adds a huge element of sensuality to the subject, she is now the flighty, artistic, modern, Parisian mistress. She is confident, mysterious, adventurous, and exotic.

Shape and Form- The distinction between shape and form is purposefully skewed in this style of painting; time is not taken to make items look three-dimensional that are three-dimensional. This is not at all a fault of this painting, in fact, the simplicity creates a more visceral emotional experience, like splattering red paint along a white canvas. The subtle slope of the mouth forms a sneer that is for some reason very dissatisfied, same with her left eyebrow. The eyes are colorless, and only partially finished, it looks like. Considering the shape and form, it seems Matisse tried to strip away needless strokes in order to show what shapes and forms creates true expressions. By it's very definition, visceral response was achieved.