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Brand Talk: The Criterion Collection

Posted by Sam


Continuing with the wildly infrequent discussion of brands.

In an era where physicality in media is increasingly discussed, The Criterion Collection, a “publisher of premium editions of classic and contemporary films”, has established a strong customer loyalty through a combination of quality consistency and innovation (early adoption of Laserdisc, DVD and online streaming). Criterion has become one of the most recognized names in a field that isn’t commonly considered to carry prestige brands.

I retroactively discovered Criterion after purchasing one of my favorite films Rushmore, many years ago. The design of the original poster art always left me cold, as it attempt to market the film as a teen rebellion flick, sort of a suburban CHE. The sly illustration of the solitary protagonist WAS the movie to me, which made me put down the extra dollars for this film I knew I’d always own. It was only afterwards that I realized “The Criterion Collection” banner on the side was a mark of a unique brand of curated special editions.

The secret to their success seems multifaceted.

Curation: Criterion has been responsible both for releasing films that have been overlooked, under-distributed and even just unheralded amidst box office success, finding new life given the Criterion treatment. Can Chasing Amy and The Criterion versions often sit alongside the original or Blu-Ray versions, at a higher price, but given the quality of extras, these editions are deemed to be better thought out than their peers.

Scarcity: There is a time frame in which most Criterion releases exist, possibly due to short print runs for lesser known titles or presumably the duration of the license for the film they acquired. The limited nature of these DVDs creates a collector aftermarket eager not to miss out, much like the contemporary vinyl market.

And of course, Design: The quality and uniqueness of their packaging puts them in league with some of the best companies in media today. The design is never of one style, but always of a character that is distinctly theirs. It is a commonly held fact that the best brands are the ones that are able to be parodied. The presence of a ‘Fake Criterions” blog laughs at the prospect of weaker films getting this special treatment (Im a fan of the Air Bud one in particular, very Hoop Dreams).

It could be stated that a Criterion Collection library, sitting alongside a well appointed vinyl and book shelf, will not be something to sneeze at in the Netflix era.

Founded: 1984
Founders: Robert Stein, Aleen Stein, and Joe Medjuck (company info is rather circuitous)
Identity: Pentagram (Inspiration is here).

A Visual Life: The Sartorialist

Posted by Alex



Scott Schumann, also know as the Sartorialist, is the subject of this short and sweet documentary by Intel. It’s very well done and shows some cool behind-the-scenes of Scott’s process. I always wondered how he approaches people on the street! When I was in Japan, I saw some extremely cool fashion walking around, but was usually too nervous to ask people for a photograph (though I will say, asking in Japanese was 100% successful because they were usually laughing at me). Anyway, this documentary is terrific, and short enough that even the most ADD of you can probably make it through.

You know you never know what it is, what that the thing is that draws you to that person, but you just let it happen. It seems odd, but it’s almost like going out there and letting yourself fall in love everyday. – Scott Schumann

Encounters at the End of the World

Posted by Scott








I’ve been wanting to see Werner Herzog’s Encounters at the End of the World for some time and finally got a chance to see it tonight. After seeing Fitzcarraldo and The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call – New Orleans (which is so incredibly bad that it’s certainly some sort of elaborate joke he’s playing) in rapid succession, I was excited to check out his take on the Documentary format. Based on the trailer I was somewhat looking forward to the imagery in Encounters — I was expecting the majority of the film to be shot underwater like Wild Blue Yonder but was pleasantly surprised to find it was more about what was going on up top. The people, landscapes, buildings, and machines around McMurdo Station make for some beautiful shots. As Herzog narrates in the film “..on this planet, McMurdo comes closest to what a future space settlement would look like.” We even get treated to some vintage celluloid from a 1970′s-era expedition. Definitely a must-see.

More stills after the break. Continue reading →

The Dark Side of the Lens

Posted by Alex







Do yourself a favor and watch this video right now. It’s filled to the brim with absolutely breathtaking shots — so many that I can’t believe they were taken all by the same team. The Planet Earth folks need to hire this guy RIGHT away. Honestly I’m speechless. This is an amazing piece of film. An amazing piece of art. Congratulations to Mickey Smith and Allan Wilson for making such a brilliant piece. And all for Relentless Energy — who knew.

“Still look forward to gettin amongst it” – The Dark Side of the Lens.

I should also mention that I love this video because I LOVE the ocean. I am terrified by the sea, but I love it. Of course I like the way it looks, but I also am constantly taken by its incomprehensible size and power. I am not a surfer (you should have seen me try in New Zealand), but I have always felt the same connection to the sea that I often hear the surfer describe. I like to sit in it, lay there, do nothing. My favorite thing in the world is getting tossed, turned and pummeled by waves — salt water filling my head every which way — then rolling up on shore and lying in the sun where the sea meets the sand.

No Fear of Missing Out // Process Post

Posted by Alex


Before jumping into this process post I want to define my terms: This project revolves around the concept of ‘FOMO’, which if you haven’t come across, stands for “Fear of Missing Out”. Fomo is a very real and worrysome condition that can affect anyone at anytime. It describes that feeling of jealousy and helplessness when you miss out on something great. Typically the condition becomes more prevalent during the weekends, summer, and nighttime. For example, “When I was looking at John’s pictures from the submarine party last night, I had a really bad case of fomo.” If you are stuck at work right now and your friends just went skydiving, you have fomo.

Nofomo by contrast refers to the state of being in which you have cured your fomo. You do not have a fear of missing out because you are always the one doing something awesome. You actually cause fomo, rather than experience it yourself. If you are living your life to the fullest and saying yes to everything, you have probably achieved such a state.

This is a project about NOFOMO. (And while it may not seem like it, yes this was for school.)

Continue reading →

POGO / SOKO

Posted by Alex




If you’re in need of some editorial or layout design inspiration, head over to the Behance site for POGO. I’ve just been cruising the archives of all issues of the online magazine SOKO. There is a ton of great typography and photography throughout each issue and I’m sure you’ll find something you like. Content-wise, it’s mostly fashion we’re talking, but it’s really just a playground for POGO to go crazy and design what they like. I also included their video Voyeur, because the color and post-processing is so good it made me forget I have to go to work tomorrow.

How to Shoot Stop Motion from Above

Posted by Alex


You do not want to know how long I spent trying to rig a vertical stop motion set up this week. Duct tape was flying around everywhere, lights were falling and shattering from above, and I had to take at least one ‘cool down before I break something’ walk. Surprisingly, Google was unhelpful in providing useful solutions — though this may have had something to do with a confusion in terms (is it aerial stop motion? vertical? 90 degrees?) I never quite know what to classify it as.

Anyway, I’ve written this brief process post about how I set up everything. It worked great for me, but I do not intend this to be a “this is HOW you do it” type article. Classify this as a go-to “bootleg” option if you don’t have access to one of those crazy $10,000 rigs that lets you fly above your subject etc. If you are looking for a relatively easy and inexpensive way to complete this type of project, this is one way to do it. I’ll walk through the supplies and exactly what I did that worked best for me. At the end of the day, it’s actually pretty darn easy — but it’s always nice to get a peak at a successful process just in case you’re spinning your wheels. There probably is a better way to do this, but I couldn’t find one. (And do excuse the slightly blurry photograph above…unfortunately the camera that has the external flash capability was the one being photographed…)

And in case you have no idea what I’m talking about, this video is a GREAT example of this type of stop motion done extremely well.

Continue reading →

I’m Here / Spike Jonze

Posted by Alex





I didn’t realize the other day, when I mentioned Spike Jonze’s “I’m Here”, that the actual film had already been released. The trailer was exciting enough for me I guess. Now you can view the entire 30min film on the website. They limit the amount of viewers per day, so make sure to take a look when you can. I haven’t seen it fill up recently, but you never know. Props for a smooth web interface too — feels like a video game without being frustratingly slow or clumsy like most Flash pages.

The film itself is great; the opening sequence is especially well done. The music works really well with the visuals throughout, and of course the whole thing stars robots. They are remarkably expressive, what for being robots and all. I really like the combination of animation and lo-fi costumes; it works really well for this, just like WTWTA. The story is a nice one, a little sad/mopey, but I enjoyed it overall. I found myself more attracted to the uniqueness of the whole project rather than any specific aspect of the plot.

My favorite part is when the bearded guy in the car yells “You’re a ROBOT!!” into the main characters head. Awesome. Check it out here.