Archive

Archive for December, 2008

Mengkonsumsi Ganja Dapat Membuat Otak Menciut

December 23, 2008 Leave a comment
Kompas.comSelasa, 3 Juni 2008 | 14:27 WIB

BAGI Anda para pecandu atau yang sudah mulai memakai ganja sebaiknya segera menghentikan kebiasaan buruk menghisap rokok memabukkan ini. Berdasarkan penemuan para ahli, menggunakan ganja atau mariyuana dalam jangka panjang dapat menciutkan beberapa bagian penting organ otak serta memperburuk kualitas kesehatan mental .

Dalam penelitian yang dimuat The Archives of General Psychiatry, disebutkan bahwa penggunaan ganja dapat menyebabkan perubahan ukuran dua bagian otak yakni hippocampus dan amygdala. Pada pecandu ganja, ukuran hippocampus atau ubagian otak yang berfungsi mengatur daya ingat rata-ratanya 12% lebih kecil ketimbang mereka yang tak menghisap ganja. Sedangkan ukuran amygdala (bagian otak yang berfungsi mengatur emosi dan ingatan) juga rata-ratanya sekitar 7% lebih kecil .

Riset juga mengungkap bahwa pecandu ganja cenderung sering mengalami gejala yang berkaitan dengan gangguan mental, meskipun kekuatan gejalanya tak dapat dikategorikan untuk diagnosa penyakit jiwa.
Menurut peneliti, bukti-bukti tentang dampak jangka panjang penggunaan ganja terhadap otak memang kerap berseberangan satu sama lainnya.

“Meskipun literatur yang berkembang menyebutkan penggunaan ganja janka panjang berkaitan dengan dampak kesehatan yang luas, banyak komunitas masyarakat, termasuk pengguna ganja, percaya bahwa mariyuana secara relatif tidak berbahaya dan seharusnya dilegalkan,” tulis Murat Yucel, PhD, peneliti dari ORYGEN Research Centre Universitas Melbourne, Australia.

“Dengan fakta bahwa ada sekitar 15 juta orang AS menhisap ganja dalam satu bulan tertentu, 3.4 juta orang memakai ganja setiap hari selama 12 bulan dan 2,1 juta menjadi pecandu pemula setiap tahunnya, ada sebuah kepentingan yang jelas untuk melakukan investigasi serius untuk mengklarifikasi kondisi patologis jangka panjang penggunaan ganja,” tambahnya.

Dalam risetnya, para peneliti menggunakan MRI resolusi tinggi untuk membandingkan struktur otak dari 15 pria yang merokok lebih dari lima linting ganja setiap hari selama kurang lebih 10 tahun dengann 16 pria yang tidak memakai ganja.

Para partisipan juga harus melewati tes ingatan dan verbal kemudian diperiksa bila ada gejala kelainan mental. Hasilnya menujukkan bahwa pria pecandu ganja memiliki volume jarigan otak yang lebih kecil pada bagian hippocampus dan amygdala. Pecandu juga lebih sering menunjukkan gejala kelainan mental.

Peneliti mengatakan pemakai ganja juga menunjukkan hasil tes verbal yang lebih buruk, namun perbedaannya tidak berkaitan dengan volume otak pada kedua kelompok partisipan.

Advertisements
Categories: Uncategorized

Communication Theory

December 21, 2008 1 comment

Communication theory

There is much discussion in the academic world of communication as to what actually constitutes communication. Currently, many definitions of communication are used in order to conceptualize the processes by which people navigate and assign meaning. Communication is also understood as the exchanging of understanding.
We might say that communication consists of transmitting information from one person to another. In fact, many scholars of communication take this as a working definition, and use Lasswell’s maxim, “who says what to whom in what channel with what effect,” as a means of circumscribing the field of communication theory.

A simple communication model with a sender transferring a message containing information to a receiver.
Other commentators suggest that a ritual process of communication exists, one not artificially divorceable from a particular historical and social context.
Communication stands so deeply rooted in human behaviors and the structures of society that scholars have difficulty thinking of it while excluding social or behavioral events. Because communication theory remains a relatively young field of inquiry and integrates itself with other disciplines such as philosophy, psychology, and sociology, one probably cannot yet expect a consensus conceptualization of communication across disciplines.

Currently, there is no paradigm from which communication scholars may work. One of the issues facing scholars is the possibility that establishing a communication metatheory will negate their research and stifle the broad body of knowledge in which communication functions.

History of Communication Theory
Communication as a named and unified discipline has a history of contestation that goes back to the Socratic dialogues, in many ways making it the first and most contestatory of all early sciences and philosophies. Aristotle first addressed the problem of communication and attempted to work out a theory of it in The Rhetoric. He was primarily focused on the art of persuasion.

Humanistic and rhetorical viewpoints and theories dominated the discipline prior to the twentieth century, when more scientific methodologies and insights from psychology, sociology, linguistics and advertising began to influence communication thought and practice.

Seeking to define “communication” as a static word or unified discipline may not be as important as understanding communication as a family of resemblances with a plurality of definitions as Ludwig Wittgenstein had put forth.

Communication Theory Framework
It is helpful to examine communication and communication theory through one of the following viewpoints:
• Mechanistic: This view considers communication to be a perfect transaction of a message from the sender to the receiver. (as seen in the diagram above)
• Psychological: This view considers communication as the act of sending a message to a receiver, and the feelings and thoughts of the receiver upon interpreting the message.
• Social Constructionist (Symbolic Interactionist): This view considers communication to be the product of the interactants sharing and creating meaning.
• Systemic: This view considers communication to be the new messages created via “through-put”, or what happens as the message is being interpreted and re-interpreted as it travels through people.

Inspection of a particular theory on this level will provide a framework on the nature of communication as seen within the confines of that theory.
Theories can also be studied and organized according to the ontological, epistemological, and axiological framework imposed by the theorist.

Ontology essentially poses the question of what, exactly, it is the theorist is examining. One must consider the very nature of reality. The answer usually falls in one of three realms depending on whether the theorist sees the phenomena through the lens of a realist, nominalist, or social constructionist. Realist perspective views the world objectively, believing that there is a world outside of our own experience and cognitions. Nominalists see the world subjectively, claiming that everything outside of one’s cognitions is simply names and labels. Social constructionists straddle the fence between objective and subjective reality, claiming that reality is what we create together.

Epistemology is an examination of how the theorist studies the chosen phenomena. In studying epistemology, objective knowledge is said to be the result of a systematic look at the causal relationships of phenomena. This knowledge is usually attained through use of the scientific method. Scholars often think that empirical evidence collected in an objective manner is most likely to reflect truth in the findings. Theories of this ilk are usually created to predict a phenomenon. Subjective theory holds that understanding is based on situated knowledge, typically found using interpretative methodology such as ethnography and interviews. Subjective theories are typically developed to explain or understand phenomena in the social world.

Axiology is concerned with what values drive a theorist to develop a theory. Theorists must be mindful of potential biases so that they will not influence or skew their findings (Miller, 21-23).

Mapping the theoretical landscape
A discipline gets defined in large part by its theoretical structure. Communication studies often borrow theories from other social sciences. This theoretical variation makes it difficult to come to terms with the field as a whole. That said, some common taxonomies exist that serve to divide up the range of communication research. Two common mappings involve contexts and assumptions.

Contexts
Many authors and researchers divide communication by what they sometimes called “contexts” or “levels”, but which more often represent institutional histories. The study of communication in the US, while occurring within departments of psychology, sociology, linguistics, and anthropology (among others), generally developed from schools of rhetoric and from schools of journalism. While many of these have become “departments of communication”, they often retain their historical roots, adhering largely to theories from speech communication in the former case, and from mass media in the latter. The great divide between speech communication and mass communication becomes complicated by a number of smaller sub-areas of communication research, including intercultural and international communication, small group communication, communication technology, policy and legal studies of communication, telecommunication, and work done under a variety of other labels. Some of these departments take a largely social-scientific perspective, others tend more heavily toward the humanities, and still others gear themselves more toward production and professional preparation.

These “levels” of communication provide some way of grouping communication theories, but inevitably, some theories and concepts leak from one area to another, or fail to find a home at all.

Assumptions
Another way of dividing up the communication field emphasizes the assumptions that undergird particular theories, models, and approaches. While this approach also tends to have as its basis institutional divisions, theories within each of the seven “traditions” of communication theory that Robert Craig suggests tend to reinforce one another, and retain the same ground epistemological and axiological assumptions. His traditions include:
• rhetorical – practical art of discourse
• semiotic – intersubjective mediation through signs in order to mediate between different perspectives
• phenomenological – experience of otherness, dialogue
• cybernetic – information processing and explains how all kinds of complex systems, whether living or nonliving, macro or micro, are able to function, and why they often malfunction
• sociopsychological – expression, interaction and influence
• critical – discursive reflection
• sociocultural – reproduction of social order (Miller, 13)
Craig finds each of these clearly defined against the others, and remaining cohesive approaches to describing communicative behavior. As a taxonomic aid, these labels help to organize theory by its assumptions, and help researchers to understand why some theories may seem incommensurable.

While communication theorists very commonly use these two approaches, it seems that they decentralize the place of language and machines as communicative technologies. The idea (as argued by Vygotsky) of communication as the primary tool of a species defined by its tools remains on the outskirts of communication theory. It finds some representation in the Toronto School of communication theory (alternatively sometimes called medium theory) as represented by the work of Innis, McLuhan, and others. It seems that the ways in which individuals and groups use the technologies of communication — and in some cases are used by them — remain central to what communication researchers do. The ideas that surround this, and in particular the place of persuasion, remain constants across both the “traditions” and “levels” of communication theory.

Some realms of communication and their theories
• message production: Constructivist Theory, Action Assembly Theory
• message processing: Elaboration Likelihood Theory, Inoculation Theory
• discourse and interaction: Speech Acts Theory, Coordinated Management of Meaning
• developing relationships: Uncertainty Reduction Theory, Social Penetration Theory
• ongoing relationships: Relational Systems Theory, Relational Dialectics
• organizational: Structuration Theory, Unobtrusive and Concertive Control Theory
• small group: Functional Theory, Symbolic Convergence Theory
• media processing and effects: Social Cognitive Theory, Uses and Gratifications Theory
• media and society: agenda setting, spiral of silence
• culture: Speech Codes Theory, Face-saving Theory (Miller, v-viii)
• Symbolic Convergence Theory

Categories: Uncategorized

About Movie (Part 2)

December 21, 2008 Leave a comment

Film continuity developed
Other film-makers then took up all these ideas, which form the basis of film construction, or “film language”, or “film grammar”, as we know it. The best known of these film-makers was Edwin S. Porter, who started making films for the Edison Company in 1901. When he began making longer films in 1902, he put a dissolve between every shot, just as Georges Méliès was already doing, and he frequently had the same action repeated across the dissolves. In other words, Edwin Porter did NOT develop the basics of film construction. The Pathé company in France also made imitations and variations of Smith and Williamson’s films from 1902 onwards using cuts between the shots, which helped to standardize the basics of film construction.
In 1903 there was a substantial increase in the number of film several minutes long, as a result of the great popularity of Georges Méliès’ le Voyage dans la lune (A Trip to the Moon), which came out in early 1902, though such films were still a very minor part of production. Most of them were what came to be called “chase films”. These were inspired by James Williamson’s Stop Thief! of 1901, which showed a tramp stealing a leg of mutton from a butcher’s boy in the first shot, then being chased through the second shot by the butcher’s boy and assorted dogs, and finally being caught by the dogs in the third shot.

Several English films made in the first half of 1903 extended the chase method of film construction. These included An Elopement à la Mode and The Pickpocket: A Chase Through London, made by Alf Collins for the British branch of the French Gaumont company, Daring Daylight Burglary, made by the Sheffield Photographic Company, and Desperate Poaching Affray, made by the Haggar family, whose main business was exhibiting films made by others in their travelling tent theatre. All of these films, and indeed others of like nature were shown in the United States, and some them were certainly seen by Edwin Porter, before he made The Great Train Robbery towards the end of the year. The time continuity in The Great Train Robbery is actually more confusing than that in the films it was modelled on, but nevertheless it was a greater success than them worldwide, because of its Wild West violence.
From 1900, the Pathé company films also frequently copied and varied the ideas of the British film-makers, without making any major innovations in narrative film construction, but eventually the sheer volume of their production led to their film-makers giving a further precision and polish to the details of film continuity.

Film history from 1906 to 1914

The film business
By 1907 there were about 4,000 small “nickelodeon” cinemas in the United States. The films were shown with the accompaniment of music provided by a pianist, though there could be more musicians. There were also a very few larger cinemas in some of the biggest cities. Initially, the majority of films in the programmes were Pathé films, but this changed fairly quickly as the American companies cranked up production. The programme was made up of just a few films, and the show lasted around 30 minutes. The reel of film, of maximum length 1,000 feet (300 m), which usually contained one individual film, became the standard unit of film production and exhibition in this period. The programme was changed twice or more a week, but went up to five changes of programme a week after a couple of years. In general, cinemas were set up in the established entertainment districts of the cities. In other countries of the Western world the film exhibition situation was similar. With the change to “nickelodeon” exhibition there was also a change, led by Pathé in 1907, from selling films outright to renting them through film exchanges.

The litigation over patents between all the major American film-making companies had continued, and at the end of 1908 they decided to pool their patents and form a trust to use them to control the American film business. The companies concerned were Pathé, Edison, Biograph, Vitagraph, Lubin, Selig, Essanay, Kalem, and the Kleine Optical Company, a major importer of European films. The George Eastman company, the only manufacturer of film stock in the United States, was also part of the combine, which was called the Motion Picture Patents Company (MPPC), and Eastman Kodak agreed to only supply the members with film stock. License fees for distributing and projecting films were extracted from all distributors and exhibitors. The producing companies that were part of the trust were allocated production quotas (two reels, i.e. films, a week for the biggest ones, one reel a week for the smaller), which were supposed to be enough to fill the programmes of the licensed exhibitors. Vitagraph and Edison already had multiple production units, and so had no difficulty meeting their quota, but in 1908 Biograph lost their one working director. They offered the job of making their films to D. W. Griffith, an unimportant actor and playwright, who took up the job, and found he had a gift for it. Alone he made all the Biograph films from 1908 to 1910. This amounted to 30 minutes of screen time a week.

But the market was bigger than the Motion Picture Patents Company members could supply. Although 6,000 exhibitors signed with the MPPC, about 2,000 others did not. A minority of the exchanges (i.e. distributors) stayed outside the MPPC, and in 1909 these independent exchanges immediately began to fund new film producing companies. By 1911 there were enough independent and foreign films available to programme all the shows of the independent exhibitors, and in 1912 the independents had nearly half of the market. The MPPC had effectively been defeated in its plan to control the whole United States market, and the government anti-trust action, which only now started against the MPPC, was not really necessary to defeat it.

Multi-reel films
It was around 1912 that the actors in American films, who up to this point had been anonymous, began to receive screen credit, and the way to the creation of film stars was opened. The appearance of films longer than one reel also helped this process. Such films were extremely rare, and almost entirely restricted to film versions of the life of Christ, which had reached three reels in length in the first few years of cinema. They were always shown as a special event in special venues, and supported by live commentary and music. A unique addition to this style of presentation was The Story of the Kelly Gang, made in Australia in 1906. This was a four-reel version of the career of this famous (in Australia) outlaw, and was incomprehensible without explanation. More multi-reel films were made in Europe than in the United States after 1906, because the MPPC insisted on working on the basis of one-reel films up until 1912. However, before this, some MPPC members got around this restriction by occasionally making longer stories in separate parts, and releasing them in successive weeks, starting with Vitagraph’s The Life of Moses in five parts (and five reels) at the end 1909. In other countries this film was shown straight through as one picture, and it inspired the creation of other multi-reel films in Europe.

Pathé-Frères set up a new subsidiary company in the United States called Eclectic in 1913, and in 1914 this began production of features at the Pathé plant in New Jersey. The French Eclair company was already making films in the United States, and their production of features increased with the transfer of more film-makers when the French industry was shut down at the beginning of World War I.

Up to 1913, most American film production was still carried out around New York, but the move to filming in California had begun when Selig, one of the MPPC companies, sent a production unit there in 1909. Other companies, both independents and members of the MPPC, then sent units to work there in the summer to take advantage of the sunshine and scenery. The latter was important for the production of Westerns, which now formed a major American film genre. The first cowboy star was G.M. Anderson (“Broncho Billy”), directing his own Western dramas for Essanay, but in 1911 Tom Mix brought the kind of costumes and stunt action used in live Wild West shows to Selig film productions, and became the biggest cowboy star for the next two decades.
Most of the major companies made films in all the genres, but some had a special interest in certain kinds of films. Once Selig had taken up production in California, they used the (fairly) wild animals from the zoo that Colonel Selig had set up there in a series of exotic adventures, with the actors being menaced or saved by the animals. Essanay specialized in Westerns featuring “Broncho Billy” Anderson, and Kalem sent Sidney Olcott off with a film crew and a troupe of actors to various places in America and abroad to make film stories in the actual places they were supposed to have happened. Kalem also pioneered the female action heroine from 1912, with Ruth Roland playing starring roles in their Westerns.

Minor curiosities were some of the films of Solax directed by Herbert Blaché and his wife Alice Guy. They left American branch of the Gaumont company in 1912 to set up their own independent company. The distinguishing feature of some of their films was a deliberate attempt to use resolutely theatrical-type light comedy playing that was directed towards the audience. This went against the trend towards filmic restraint already visible in what were called “polite” comedies from other film companies.
In France, Pathé retained its dominant position, followed still by Gaumont, and then other new companies that appeared to cater to the film boom. A film company with a different approach was Film d’Art. This was set up at the beginning of 1908 to make films of a serious artistic nature. Their declared programme was to make films using only the best dramatists, artists and actors. The first of these was l’Assassinat du Duc de Guise (The Assassination of the Duc de Guise), a historical subject set in the court of Henri III. This film used leading actors from the Comédie Francaise, and had a special accompanying score written by Camille Saint-Saens. The other French majors followed suit, and this wave gave rise to the English-language description of films with artistic pretensions aimed at a sophisticated audience as “art films”. By 1910, the French film companies were starting to make films as long as two, or even three reels, though most were still one reel long. This trend was followed in Italy, Denmark, and Sweden.

Although the British industry continued to expand after its brilliant beginning, the new companies that replaced the first innovative film-makers proved unable to preserve their drive and originality.

New film producing countries
With the world-wide film boom, yet more countries now joined Britain, France, and the United States in serious film production. In Italy, production was spread over several centres, with Turin being the first and biggest. There, Ambrosio was the first company in the field in 1905, and remained the largest in the country through this period. Its most substantial rival was Cines in Rome, which started producing in 1906. The great strength of the Italian industry was historical epics, with large casts and massive scenery. As early as 1911, Giovanni Pastrone’s two-reel la Caduta di Troia (The Fall of Troy) made a big impression world-wide, and it was followed by even bigger spectacles like Quo Vadis? (1912), which ran for 90 minutes, and Pastrone’s Cabiria of 1914, which ran for two and a half hours.

La Caduta di Troia (The Siege of Troy) (1911)
Italian companies also had a strong line in slapstick comedy, with actors like André Deed, known locally as “Cretinetti”, and elsewhere as “Foolshead” and “Gribouille”, achieving worldwide fame with his almost surrealistic gags.
The most important film-producing country in Northern Europe up until the First World War was Denmark. The Nordisk company was set up there in 1906 by Ole Olsen, a fairground showman, and after a brief period imitating the successes of French and British film-makers, in 1907 he produced 67 films, most directed by Viggo Larsen, with sensational subjects like Den hvide Slavinde (The White Slave), Isbjørnenjagt (Polar Bear Hunt) and Løvejagten (The Lion Hunt). By 1910 new smaller Danish companies began joining the business, and besides making more films about the white slave trade, they contributed other new subjects. The most important of these finds was Asta Nielsen in Afgrunden (The Abyss), directed by Urban Gad for Kosmorama, This combined the circus, sex, jealousy and murder, all put over with great conviction, and pushed the other Danish film-makers further in this direction. By 1912 the Danish film companies were multiplying like rabbits.

The Swedish film industry was smaller and slower to get started than the Danish industry. Here, the important man was Charles Magnusson, a newsreel cameraman for the Svenskabiografteatern cinema chain. He started fiction film production for them in 1909, directing a number of the films himself. Production increased in 1912, when the company engaged Victor Sjöström and Mauritz Stiller as directors. They started out by imitating the subjects favoured by the Danish film industry, but by 1913 they were producing their own strikingly original work, which sold very well.
Russia began its film industry in 1908 with Pathé shooting some fiction subjects there, and then the creation of real Russian film companies by Aleksandr Drankov and Aleksandr Khanzhonkov. The Khanzhonkov company quickly became much the largest Russian film company, and remained so until 1918.

In Germany, Oskar Messter had been involved in film-making from 1896, but did not make a significant number of films per year till 1910. When the world-wide film boom started, he, and the few other people in the German film business, continued to sell prints of their own films outright, which put them at a disadvantage. It was only when Paul Davidson, the owner of a chain of cinemas, brought Asta Nielsen and Urban Gad to Germany from Denmark in 1911, and set up a production company, Projektions-AG “Union” (PAGU), for them, that a change-over to renting prints began. Messter replied with a series of longer films starring Henny Porten, but although these did well in the German-speaking world, they were not particularly successful internationally, unlike the Asta Nielsen films. Another of the growing German film producers just before World War I was the German branch of the French Eclair company, Deutsche Eclair. This was expropriated by the German government, and turned into DECLA when the war started. But altogether, German producers only had a minor part of the German market in 1914.

Overall, from about 1910, American films had the largest share of the market in all European countries except France, and even in France, the American films had just pushed the local production out of first place on the eve of World War I. So even if the war had not happened, American films would have become dominant world-wide. Although the war made things worse for European producers, it was the technical qualities of American films that made them more attractive to audiences everywhere.

Categories: Uncategorized

About Movie (Part 1)

December 20, 2008 Leave a comment

The History of film spans over a hundred years, from the latter part of the 19th century to the beginning of the 21st. Motion pictures developed gradually from a carnival novelty to one of the most important tools of communication and entertainment, and mass media in the 20th century. Motion picture films have had a substantial impact on the arts, technology, and politics.

The Birth of Film

The two second experimental film, Roundhay Garden Scene, filmed by Louis Le Prince on October 1888 in Leeds, Yorkshire, is generally recognized as the earliest surviving motion picture.

William Kennedy Laurie Dickson, chief engineer with the Edison Laboratories, is credited with the invention of a practicable form of a celluloid strip containing a sequence of images, the basis of a method of photographing and projecting moving images.[citation needed] Celluloid blocks were thinly sliced, then removed with heated pressure plates. After this, they were coated with a photosensitive gelatin emulsion.[citation needed] In 1893 at the Chicago World’s Fair, Thomas Edison introduced to the public two pioneering inventions based on this innovation; the Kinetograph, the first practical moving picture camera, and the Kinetoscope. The latter was a cabinet in which a continuous loop of Dickson’s celluloid film (powered by an electric motor) was back lit by an incandescent lamp and seen through a magnifying lens. The spectator neared an eye piece. Kinetoscope parlours were supplied with fifty-foot film snippets photographed by Dickson, in Edison’s “Black Maria” studio. These sequences recorded mundane events (such as Fred Ott’s Sneeze, 1894) as well as entertainment acts like acrobats, music hall performers and boxing demonstrations.

Kinetoscope parlors soon spread successfully to Europe. Edison, however, never attempted to patent these instruments on the other side of the Atlantic, since they relied so greatly on previous experiments and innovations from Britain and Europe. This enabled the development of imitations, such as the camera devised by British electrician and scientific instrument maker Robert W. Paul and his partner Birt Acres.

Paul had the idea of displaying moving pictures for group audiences, rather than just to individual viewers, and invented a film projector, giving his first public showing in 1895. At about the same time, in France, Auguste and Louis Lumière invented the cinematograph, a portable, three-in-one device: camera, printer, and projector. In late 1895 in Paris, father Antoine Lumière began exhibitions of projected films before the paying public, beginning the general conversion of the medium to projection (Cook, 1990). They quickly became Europe’s main producers with their actualités like Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory and comic vignettes like The Sprinkler Sprinkled (both 1895). Even Edison, initially dismissive of projection, joined the trend with the Vitascope within less than six months. The first public motion-picture film presentation in Europe, though, belongs to Max and Emil Skladanowsky of Berlin, who projected with their apparatus “Bioscop”, a flickerfree duplex construction, November 1 through 31, 1895.

Still older, May, 1895, was Lauste in the U.S.A. with an Eidoloscope which he devised for the Latham family. The first public screening of film ever is due to Jean Aimé “Acme” Le Roy, a French photographer. On February 5, 1894, his 40th birthday, he presented his “Marvellous Cinematograph” to a group of around twenty show business men in New York City.

The movies of the time were seen mostly via temporary storefront spaces and traveling exhibitors or as acts in vaudeville programs. A film could be under a minute long and would usually present a single scene, authentic or staged, of everyday life, a public event, a sporting event or slapstick. There was little to no cinematic technique: no editing and usually no camera movement, and flat, stagey compositions. But the novelty of realistically moving photographs was enough for a motion picture industry to mushroom before the end of the century, in countries around the world.

The Silent Era
Inventors and producers had tried from the very beginnings of moving pictures to marry the image with synchronous sound, but no practical method was devised until the late 1920s. Thus, for the first thirty years of their history, movies were more or less silent, although accompanied by live musicians and sometimes sound effects, and with dialogue and narration presented in intertitles.

Film history from 1895 to 1906
The first ten years of motion pictures show the cinema moving from a novelty to an established large-scale entertainment industry. The films themselves represent a movement from films consisting of one shot, completely made by one person with a few assistants, towards films several minutes long consisting of several shots, which were made by large companies in something like industrial conditions.

Film business up to 1906
In 1896 it became clear that more money was to be made by showing motion picture films with a projector to a large audience than exhibiting them in Edison’s Kinetoscope peep-show machines. The Edison company took up a projector developed by Armat and Jenkins, the “Phantoscope”, which was renamed the Vitascope, and it joined various projecting machines made by other people to show the 480 mm. width films being made by the Edison company and others in France and England.

However, the most successful motion picture company in the United States, with the largest production until 1900, was the American Mutoscope company. This was initially set up to exploit peep-show type movies using designs made by W.K.L. Dickson after he left the Edison company in 1895. His equipment used 70 mm. wide film, and each frame was printed separately onto paper sheets for insertion into their viewing machine, called the Mutoscope. The image sheets stood out from the periphery of a rotating drum, and flipped into view in succession. Besides the Mutoscope, they also made a projector called the Biograph, which could project a continuous positive film print made from the same negatives.

There were numerous other smaller producers in the United States, and some of them established a long-term presence in the new century. American Vitagraph, one of these minor producers, built studios in Brooklyn, and expanded its operations in 1905. From 1896 there was continuous litigation in the United States over the patents covering the basic mechanisms that made motion pictures possible.

In France, the Lumière company sent cameramen all round the world from 1896 onwards to shoot films, which were exhibited locally by the cameramen, and then sent back to the company factory in Lyons to make prints for sale to whoever wanted them. There were nearly a thousand of these films made up to 1901, nearly all of them actualities.

By 1898 Georges Méliès was the largest producer of fiction films in France, and from this point onwards his output was almost entirely films featuring trick effects, which were very successful in all markets. The special popularity of his longer films, which were several minutes long from 1899 onwards (while most other films were still only a minute long), led other makers to start producing longer films.
From 1900 Charles Pathé began film production under the Pathé-Frères brand, with Ferdinand Zecca hired to actually make the films. By 1905, Pathé was the largest film company in the world, a position it retained until World War I. Léon Gaumont began film production in 1900, with his production supervised by Alice Guy.

In England, Robert W. Paul, James Williamson and G.A. Smith and the other lesser producers were joined by Cecil Hepworth in 1899, and in a few years he was turning out 100 films a year, with his company becoming the largest on the British scene.

Film exhibition
Initially films were mostly shown as a novelty in special venues, but the main methods of exhibition quickly became either as an item on the programmes of variety theatres, or by travelling showman in tent theatres, which they took around the fairs in country towns. It became the practice for the producing companies to sell prints outright to the exhibitors, at so much per foot, regardless of the subject. Typical prices initially were 15 cents a foot in the United States, and one shilling a foot in Britain. Hand-coloured films, which were being produced of the most popular subjects before 1900, cost 2 to 3 times as much per foot. There were a few producers, such as the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, which did not sell their films, but exploited them solely with their own exhibition units. The first successful permanent theatre showing nothing but films was “The Nickelodeon”, which was opened in Pittsburgh in 1905. By this date there were finally enough films several minutes long available to fill a programme running for at least half an hour, and which could be changed weekly when the local audience became bored with it. Other exhibitors in the United States quickly followed suit, and within a couple of years there were thousands of these nickelodeons in operation. The American situation led to a world-wide boom in the production and exhibition of films from 1906 onwards.

Film technique
The first movie cameras were fastened directly to the head of their tripod or other support, with only the crudest kind of levelling devices provided, in the manner of the still-camera tripod heads of the period. The earliest movie cameras were thus effectively fixed during the course of the shot, and hence the first camera movements were the result of mounting a camera on a moving vehicle. The first known of these was a film shot by a Lumière cameraman from the back platform of a train leaving Jerusalem in 1896, and by 1898 there were a number of films shot from moving trains. Although listed under the general heading of “panoramas” in the sales catalogues of the time, those films shot straight forward from in front of a railway engine were usually specifically referred to as “phantom rides”.

In 1897, Robert W. Paul had the first real rotating camera head made to put on a tripod, so that he could follow the passing processions of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in one uninterrupted shot. This device had the camera mounted on a vertical axis that could be rotated by a worm gear driven by turning a crank handle, and Paul put it on general sale the next year. Shots taken using such a “panning” head were also referred to as ‘panoramas’ in the film catalogues of the first decade of the cinema.

The standard pattern for early film studios was provided by the studio which Georges Méliès had built in May of 1897. This had a glass roof and three glass walls constructed after the model of large studios for still photography, and it was fitted with thin cotton cloths that could be stretched below the roof to diffuse the direct rays of the sun on sunny days. The soft overall light without real shadows that this arrangement produced, and which also exists naturally on lightly overcast days, was to become the basis for film lighting in film studios for the next decade.

Filmic effects
Unique amongst all the one minute long films made by the Edison company, which recorded parts of the acts of variety performers for their Kinetoscope viewing machines, was The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots. This showed a person dressed as the queen placing her head on the execution block in front of a small group of bystanders in Elizabethan dress. The executioner brings his axe down, and the queen’s severed head drops onto the ground. This trick was worked by stopping the camera and replacing the actor with a dummy, then restarting the camera before the axe falls. The two pieces of film were then trimmed and cemented together so that the action appeared continuous when the film was shown.

This film was among those exported to Europe with the first Kinetoscope machines in 1895, and was seen by Georges Méliès, who was putting on magic shows in his Theatre Robert-Houdin in Paris at the time. He took up film-making in 1896, and after making imitations of other films from Edison, Lumière, and Robert Paul, he made Escamotage d’un dame chez Robert-Houdin (The Vanishing Lady). This film shows a woman being made to vanish by using the same stop motion technique as the earlier Edison film. After this, Georges Méliès made many single shot films using this trick over the next couple of years.

The other basic set of techniques for trick cinematography involves double exposure of the film in the camera, which was first done by G.A. Smith in July 1898 in England. His The Corsican Brothers was described in the catalogue of the Warwick Trading Company, which took up the distribution of Smith’s films in 1900.

The ghost effect was simply done by draping the set in black velvet after the main action had been shot, and then re-exposing the negative with the actor playing the ghost going through the actions at the appropriate point. Likewise, the vision, which appeared within a circular vignette or matte, was similarly superimposed over a black area in the backdrop to the scene, rather than over a part of the set with detail in it, so that nothing appeared through the image, which seemed quite solid. Smith used this technique again a year later in Santa Claus.

Georges Méliès first used superimposition on a dark background in la Caverne maudite (The Cave of the Demons) made a couple of months later in 1898, and then elaborated it further with multiple superimpositions in the one shot in l’Homme de têtes (The Troublesome Heads). He then did it with further variations in numerous subsequent films.

Other special techniques
The other special effect technique that G.A. Smith initiated was reverse motion. He did this by repeating the action a second time, while filming it with an inverted camera, and then joining the tail of the second negative to that of the first. The first films made using this device were Tipsy, Topsy, Turvy and The Awkward Sign Painter. The Awkward Sign Painter showed a sign painter lettering a sign, and in the reverse printing of the same footage appended to the standard print, the painting on the sign vanished under the painter’s brush. The earliest surviving example of this technique is Smith’s The House That Jack Built, made before September 1900. Here, a small boy is shown knocking down a castle just constructed by a little girl out of children’s building blocks. Then a title appears, saying “Reversed”, and the action is repeated in reverse, so that the castle re-erects itself under his blows.

Cecil Hepworth took this technique further, by printing the negative of the forwards motion backwards frame by frame, so producing a print in which the original action was exactly reversed. To do this he built a special printer in which the negative running through a projector was projected into the gate of a camera through a special lens giving a same-size image. This arrangement came to be called a “projection printer”, and eventually an “optical printer”. With it Hepworth made The Bathers in 1900, in which bathers who have undressed and jumped into the water appear to spring backwards out of it, and have their clothes magically fly back onto their bodies.

The use of different camera speeds also appeared around 1900. To make Robert Paul’s On a Runaway Motor Car through Piccadilly Circus (1899), the camera was turned very slowly, so that when the film was projected at the usual 16 frames per second, the scenery appeared to be passing at great speed. Cecil Hepworth used the opposite effect in The Indian Chief and the Seidlitz Powder (1901), in which a naïve Red Indian eats a lot of the fizzy stomach medicine, causing his stomach to expand vastly. He leaps around in a way that is made balloon-like by cranking the camera much faster than 16 frames per second. This gives what we would call a “slow motion” effect.

Animation
The most important development in this area of special techniques did not happen until 1905, when Edwin Porter made How Jones Lost His Roll, and The Whole Dam Family and the Dam Dog. Both of these films had intertitles which were formed by the letters moving into place from a random scattering to form the words of the titles. This was done by exposing the film one frame at a time, and moving the letters a little bit towards their final position between each exposure. This is what has come to be called “single frame animation” or “object animation”, and it needs a slightly adapted camera that exposes only one frame for each turn of the crank handle, rather than the usual eight frames per turn.

In 1906, Albert Edward Smith and James Stuart Blackton at Vitagraph took the next step, and in their Humorous Phases of Funny Faces, what appear to be cartoon drawings of people move from one pose to another. This is done for most of the length of this film by moving jointed cut-outs of the figures frame by frame between the exposures, just as Porter moved his letters. However, there is a very short section of the film where things are made to appear to move by altering the drawings themselves from frame to frame, which is how standard animated cartoons have since been made up to today.

Narrative film construction
The way forward to making films made up of more than one shot was led by films of the life of Jesus Christ. The first of these was made in France in 1897, and it was followed in the same year by a film of the Passion play staged yearly in the Czech town of Horitz. This was filmed by Americans for exhibition outside the German-speaking world, and was presented in special venues, not as a continuous film, but with the separate scenes interspersed with lantern slides, a lecture, and live choral numbers, to increase the running time of the spectacle to about 90 minutes.
Films of acted reproductions of scenes from the Greco-Turkish war were made by Georges Méliès in 1897, and although sold separately, these were no doubt shown in continuous sequence by exhibitors. In 1898 a few films of similar kind were made, but still none had continuous action moving from one shot into the next. The multi-shot films that Georges Méliès made in 1899 were much longer than those made by anybody else, but l’Affaire Dreyfus (The Dreyfus Case) and Cendrillon (Cinderella) still contained no action moving from one shot to the next one. Also, from Cendrillon onwards, Méliès made a dissolve between every shot in his films, which reduced any appearance of action continuity even further. To understand what is going on in both these films, the audience had to know their stories beforehand, or be told them by a presenter.

Categories: Uncategorized

Audioman / Audio Engineer

December 20, 2008 Leave a comment

An audio engineer is someone with experience and training in the production and manipulation of sound through mechanical (analog) or digital means. As a professional title, this person is sometimes designated as a sound engineer or recording engineer instead. A person with one of these titles is commonly listed in the credits of many commercial music recordings (as well as in other productions that include sound, such as movies).

Audio engineers are generally familiar with the design, installation, and/or operation of sound recording, sound reinforcement, or sound broadcasting equipment, including large and small format consoles. In the recording studio environment, the audio engineer records, edits, manipulates, mixes, and/or masters sound by technical means in order to realize an artist’s or record producer’s creative vision. While usually associated with music production, an audio engineer deals with sound for a wide range of applications, including post-production for video and film, live sound reinforcement, advertising, multimedia, and broadcasting. When referring to video games, an audio engineer may also be a computer programmer.

In larger productions, an audio engineer is responsible for the technical aspects of a sound recording or other audio production, and works together with a record producer or director, although the engineer’s role may also be integrated with that of the producer. In smaller productions and studios the sound engineer and producer is often one and the same person.

In typical sound reinforcement applications, audio engineers often assume the role of producer, making artistic decisions along with technical ones.
Different professional branches of sound engineering
• Studio engineer could refer to either a sound engineer working in a studio together with a producer or to a producing sound engineer working in a studio.
• Recording engineer is a person recording a record differentiating from a …
• Mixing engineer who performs mixes of already recorded materials. It is not uncommon for a commercial record to be recorded at one studio and later mixed by different engineers in other studios.
• Game audio designer, engineer is a person who deals with sound aspects of game development.
• Live sound engineer is a person dealing with live sound reinforcement. This usually includes planning and installation of speakers etc and soundmixing during the show. This may or may not include running the foldback sound.
• Foldback or ‘Monitor’ engineer this refers to the person running foldback sound during a live event.
• Systems Engineer is a person responsible for the design, setup and flying of modern PA systems which are often very complex.
• Audio Post Engineer is a person who edits and mixes audio for film and television.

Education
Audio Engineers come from all backgrounds such as electrical engineering or Fine Arts; many colleges and accredited institutions around the world offer degrees in Audio Engineering such as BS in Audio Production. A great number of production mixers are autodidacts with no formal training.
Equipment
Audio engineers in their daily work operate and make use of:
• Mixing consoles
• Microphones
• Signal processors
• Tape machines (mainly Multitrack recording tape machines)
• Digital audio workstations
• Music sequencers
• Speakers
• Preamplifiers
• Amplifiers

Professional audio, also ‘pro audio’, can be used a term to refer to both a type of audio equipment as well as a type of audio engineering application.
Professional audio equipment can be used to describe any audio equipment used or marketed for use as a sound application by or for a professional or professional purpose. This includes, but is not limited to, loudspeakers, microphones, Mixing consoles, amplifiers, recording and playback devices such as dat or turntables, and in some cases telephony devices. Pro Audio equipment typically carries an implied elevation of manufacturing quality and features compared to regular or consumer level audio equipment (as is common with other types of professional equipment.)
Professional audio application is commonly used to refer to professional audio engineering and operations, which can include but is not limited to broadcasting radio, audio mastering, sound reinforcement such as a concert, DJ performances, Audio Sampling , public address, surround sound movie theatres, and in some cases piped music application.

Both terms imply involvement of audio engineering at an industrial(occupational) level as opposed to a personal level. For example, a regular personal use microphone such as one in a mobile phone would have a very limited dynamic range focused on speech, whereas a pro audio microphone would have a much wider dynamic range to capture quiet whispers or loud musical instruments. A regular loudspeaker for home use may handle 100 watts rms at a given signal-to-noise ratio, whereas a pro audio loudspeaker such as one used for concert venues may handle 1000 watts rms or more, or a studio use speaker may operate at a significantly more efficient signal-to-noise rating at the same 100 watts as the home speaker.

Specifications alone do not inherently include or exclude equipment for consideration as professional audio level, but are used by most publications and documentation as a starting point of reference.

The sound operator (also commonly called production audio engineer, audio engineer, sound board operator, sound technician, sound mixer or A1) is the person responsible for the overall and total execution of the sound design during the performance. This job may include operating a mixing console and sound reinforcement system, as well as co-ordinating sound effects and mixing microphones. The sound operator reports directly to the sound designer.

While professional theatres typically hire a sound operator as part of the production staff, it is not uncommon in smaller theatres for the sound designer to assume the role of sound operator.

Historically, the sound department of a professional theatrical production used to be a subset of the electrics (lighting) department, and sound personnel were hired as electricians. This is no longer the case, though, again, it is not uncommon in smaller theatres for this role to be assigned to someone such as an electrician or assistant stage manager.

In touring theatre, the sound operator is responsible for getting the sound system installed and running, and smoothly integrated with the venue and any of the local equipment. This could include backstage and front-of-house intercom, video monitors and cameras, auxiliary speakers (under the balcony or in the lobby), backstage and dressing room audio monitors, public address microphones and assistive listening devices.

In larger productions, the sound operator is typically assisted by one or more A2s (link below).
A digital audio editor is a computer application for audio editing, i.e. manipulating digital audio. Editors designed for use with music allow the user to do the following:
• Record audio from one or more inputs and store recordings in the computer’s memory as digital audio
• Edit the start time, stop time, and duration of any sound on the audio timeline
• Mix multiple sound sources/tracks, combine them at various volume levels and pan from channel to channel to one or more output tracks
• Apply simple or advanced effects or filters, including compression, expansion, flanging, reverb, audio noise reduction and equalization to change the audio
• Playback sound (often after being mixed) that can be sent to one or more outputs, such as speakers, additional processors, or a recording medium
• Conversion between different audio file formats, or between different sound quality levels

Typically these tasks can be performed in a manner that is both non-linear and non-destructive.
Editors designed for use in speech research add the ability to make measurements and perform acoustic analyses such as extracting and displaying a fundamental frequency contour or spectrogram. They typically lack most or all of the effects of interest to musicians.

Categories: Uncategorized

Why Study Communication?

December 20, 2008 Leave a comment

Why Study Communication?

An education is more than a degree, it is the development of the ability to learn and function in society. Many students and parents are pushed into framing education as a career direction. Being asked what is your major used to elicit a description of a field of study. Now it generates a description of an occupation or career path. When education is framed this way, communication graduates are at a disadvantage when compared to other graduates who fit easily into occupational niches, e.g., education majors go into teaching; accounting majors go into accounting.
The reality is that this perception of a direct connection between a major and a career is not that clear. Derek Bok, past president of Harvard said:
The ultimate career of any student may be very different from the one anticipated. Any career can veer sharply from its original direction. In our rapidly changing environment, however, certain fundamental skills and habits of the mind provide the essentials for adaptation. Of these skills, the most obvious is the ability to communicate orally and in writing with clarity and style.

• Studying communication is more fundamental than selecting a major for a job.
• Communication is the primary social process.
• It would be impossible for social institutions to exist as we know them without communication.
• Human beings engage in communication as a means to facilitate meaning and to coordinate human activities.
• Other disciplines recognize the importance of communication but place it among other variables while communication majors recognize the importance and central role that communication plays in daily life.

Oral communication has long been our main method for communicating with one another. It is estimated that 75 percent of a person’s day is spent communicating in some way. As a college student, 69 percent of your communication time is spent on speaking and listening. You spend 17 percent of your communication time reading and 14 percent writing. Put another way, “we listen a book a day, we speak a book a week, read the equivalent of a book a month, and write the equivalent of a book a year.”

Not only do we spend considerable time communicating, but communication skills are also essential to personal, academic, and professional success. In a report on the fastest growing careers, the U.S. Department of Labor states that communication skills will be in demand across occupations well into the next century. In a national survey of 1000 human resource managers, oral communication skills are identified as valuable for both obtaining employment and successful job performance. Executives of Fortune 500 companies indicate that college students need better communication skills, as well as the ability to work in teams and with people from diverse backgrounds. Case studies of high-wage companies also state that essential skills for future workers include problem solving, working in groups, and the ability to communicate effectively.

When 1000 faculty members from a cross section of disciplines were asked to identify basic competencies for every college graduate, skills in communicating topped the list. Even an economics professor stated that “…we are living in a communications revolution comparable to the invention of printing….In an age of increasing talk, it’s wiser talk we need most.”

Most employers recognize that when they are recruiting new college graduates, they are seeking basic sets of skills that often transcend specific context areas. They feel that they can train a specific content. Consider the following example from the August/September 1996 issue of Fast Company, in an article entitled Hire for attitude, Train for skill. “What people know is less important than who they are. Hiring, they believe, is not about finding people with the right experience. It’s about finding people with the right mind-set.” Put simply, what a person knows changes, who they are does not.

Employers seek five basic things from new college graduates. They are:
• people skills (e.g. interpersonal, group or team, and conflict management skills)
• critical thinking skills (how you make decisions and justify your choices)
• writing skills
• computer skills
• degree and perhaps specialty skills (e.g., engineering, accounting, programming, public speaking, persuasive ability).

As a communication major, you develop skills in each of the areas outlined above by designing a major program and possibly a minor program, which will make you a strong candidate in the future job market, but not limited to a particular career path.

Categories: Uncategorized