This commercial is a beautiful use of narrative to draw the viewers in. The stories are personal and unusual. The build-up is spine-tingling. They’re compelling. You need to know what happens, which is indicative of quality storytelling. It’s almost textbook. However, I have to ask, does it work as an ad?
Goodreads have published a great infographic detailing the top 5 books that their readers have abandoned. What I find particularly interesting is the points at which people abandon books. It seems that if a reader gets past the first hundred pages of a novel most will finish it. Great stuff.
The ad is very clever, but what I particularly love is the fact that the effect wasn’t achieved in post-production. It’s all old-school and that makes it very special in this predominantly Photoshopped world.
If you’re having difficulty breaking out of those bad habits like not exercising, eating the wrong foods, smoking or watching too much Game of Thrones, then why not try turning your life into a roleplaying game? HabitRPG allows you to establish a character – which is you. You then assign goals and and by achieving them, you not only your specified rewards (like being allowed to watch GoT) you also get to level up and receive treasure within the game. Failing to achieve your goals or falling back into bad habits results in you losing health. It’s a lot like Nethack or Rogue.
It’s a great idea and a potentially useful tools for die-hard gamers that are having difficulty remembering to eat, exercise and sometimes even bathing (you know who you are =). It’s just another way you can improve your life through using gamification to assist in your motivations.
If you’re a virile, young male (or an old fart, like me) you’re probably quite keen to see this vision of augmented reality implemented as soon as possible. The prospect of having all that data immediately available is intoxicating. I suspect, it will be very much like having a smart phone now, always connected socially with information at your fingertips. However, I have to say that a future where you can look at someone and immediately bring up their social network profile is kind of creepy. Is that where we’re headed with this technology?
This video is along the same lines. Is AR only really useful for socially insecure men or will everyone be using this technology soon to get laid? Will women (or gay men) have a boner alert popup? Will Google Glass come with a wetness index already implemented or will you have to install the spot the dot app? Sex is a powerful motivator for new technology. Some say, VHS won the war against Betammax because more porn was available on it.
But, how far is too far, or does this technology really just break down the barriers we naturally establish to protect ourselves? If that’s the case, why do all these concept videos show cads? Is the future dystopian, rife with invasions of privacy and what can be done to prevent it?
Some of these technologies are already available. The Pool playing assistant has already been featured on Stephen Fry’s Gadgets.
Of course, one trick to thwart the invasion of your privacy is to not post any personal information online, but how do you stop biometric information being scanned and analysed? Will countermeasures be the next thing we see implemented?
All I know is that I hope I never have to date again. it all sounds too hard.
Here’s a really clever commercial by Samsung demonstrating a wonderful aspect of human psychology: that preconceptions about a product heavily influence our concepts of quality.
What is particularly interesting is that they change over time. Years ago, using a handycam to do a professional video was considered a sign of an amateur – even if the quality was comparable to a ‘pro-camera’. Now that’s what most of the pros use themselves, or they use tablets and phone cameras. It would be interesting to see this demonstration done in ten years time and see how people’s attitudes have changed.
Here’s a really great video demonstration of how the latest technology is changing cinema. Most of these shots would not be possible five or ten years ago and the ones that were possible would have been prohibitively expensive. While I expect this rig is not cheap, the use of the latest tools and digital cinema allows the camera to go to the places and to show events like nothing before. And that has got to be great for storytelling possibilities.
There was once a time, not so long ago, when the best thing about some movies was often the opening credits. Whether they were fun animated sequences, like in The Pink Panther or Catch Me If You Can, or the long, slow opening outer-space scenes from Alien and The Fifth Element. They always felt an integral and necessary part of the movie. However, recently the tendency is to move away from these elaborate introductions. In fact on many contemporary movies the traditional opening credits have been moved to the end and there are few or no opening credits at all. This is all part of a deepening trend in movie-making and Facebook is to blame.
Of course, if you’re familiar with movies from the 50s and older you’ll know that putting all the credits at the end of the movie is not a new trend. What is new is that this is part of an evolving style to speed up the action, to get the audience involved in the narrative and connected with the characters as quickly as possible.
As a screenwriter you can no longer wait until the 15 minute mark to introduce the initiating action. Your screenplay might even be considered to have a slow opening if you leave it until the 10 minute mark. This is especially true given that in many contemporary movies the first turning point tends to take place around the 20 minute mark and the end of the first act around the 25 minute mark. This cascades down through the movie with the traditional three/four act structure evolving into a five or six act structure. The effect is that there are more crisis and more turning points so that there are few ‘dead zones’ and the audience is constantly on the edge of their seat.
The reason for this increased tension is pretty obvious. Movies are rarely watched in cinemas anymore. Most movies are now consumed in the home. While that has been the case for twenty years or more there is no longer a guarantee that the audience will dedicate their entire attention to a movie. We now consume our video products while searching the web; chatting with our friends, via Facebook, Twitter or other IMs; watching online video, listening to music and reading a book. There is now so much more competition and movie-makers have been forced to adapt.
So, what does this mean for the screenwriter?
Never include a credit sequence in your screenplay. I still see these in the screenplays of novice writers even though they have always been the province of the director and producer and not the writer.
No exposition in the first 15pages. Exposition removes tension, whether it is done through dialogue, flashback or voice-over.
Keep your scenes short: 1-2 pages maximum.
Every scene must multi-task: they must drive the narrative forward and develop the characters at the same time.
Your scenes can’t be static. Two people talking in a room or around a table is static. It’s dead air. It screams look at me I have something important to tell you, and not I have something entertaining to show you. Movies are about movement.
I doubt we’ve seen the end of the entertaining opening credit sequence. These trends are constantly evolving. However, the days of credits over slow, laborious exposition or scene setting shots are thankfully over. That can only be a good thing. What do you think?
Today was the first day of production for our short comedic film based on Chekhov’s The Bear. Written and directed by David Meadows. Produced by Antonio Barimen. Starring Adam T. Perkins, Summer Williams and Kym Bidstrup.