You were that kid in film class. Or you never even took film class and still wish you had. Just so you could be that kid. You can quote any Sundance film on cue and name-drop obscure directors like a top-40 rapper does bling brands. Your knowledge of German Expressionism and Soviet Montage is directly proportionate to your contempt for IMDB, so it’s only fitting that we bring you the top 3 gems by film geeks, for film geeks.
ART OF THE TITLE
In our line of work, we know every touchpoint with a brand is important, every detail of the package matters and needs to work with the contents. And because every film is its own mini-brand, the best of them pay special attention to one very special element of the package: the opening credits.
Which is why we’re head over reels with Art of the Title — a project dedicated entirely to the coolest, the smartest, the most visually engaging of movie title sequences.
We’d love to see them add some more of our favorites: like the opening credits of Mad Men and Weeds, and the end credits of Superbad. Now here’s a final project for your next film class.
MOVIE TITLE SCREENS
Wanna get even more specific and anal about opening sequences? Zoom in solely on the movie’s title. For 11 years now, mega film buff Steven Hill has been doing just that. His Movie Title Screens Page is as far from a mere page as it gets: it’s a fascinating library of 5,301 movie title slides encompassing more than 7 decades of film.
You can see the evolution of title design over the years, compare title screens of alternate releases of the same film, or just gawk at the amount of work that went into this. And to think it all started almost by fluke, thanks to a crappy laserdisc.
A true film buff is nothing if not obsessive. And when they’re compulsive about being obsessive, well, it could either result in institutionalization, or yield a brilliant project. Luckily, Andy Baio over at WAXY has decided to skew brilliant with his Fanboy Supercuts collection of “obsessive video montages” stringing together every utterance of a specific word or phrase in a specific film, TV show or video game.
If you’ve got some of your own, go ahead and post them in the comments to be added to the collection. We’re waiting for someone with more free time than us to finally splice together every “mothafucka” in every Samuel L. Jackson movie.
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What Beethoven, your high school sweetheart and a boombox have in common.
Every once in a while, we like to glance back into the past. And if what we see makes us raise a knowing eyebrow, let out a bittersweet sigh, or laugh a little — all the better. Today is one of those days, so warm up your eyebrows, take a few deep breaths, and dig out your funny bone.
BEETHOVEN FIGHT SCENE
Beethoven — not exactly known for making funny. Black-and-white silent film — could go either way on the humor scale. So who would’ve thought that combining the two would cause supreme hilarity to ensue, thanks to the immaculate comedic timing of the unexpected audio/video sync?
Speaking of musical blasts from the past, the formative years of our relationship with music can easily be traced back to those precious mixtapes from high school sweethearts and college loves. Which, sadly, are getting washed away by the flood of 1′s and 0′s that is the digital age we live in.
Luckily, FOUND Magazine co-founder Jason Bitner and his team of like-minded creative nostalgics (including music producer Damon Locks and SMITH Magazine founding editor Larry Smith) have brought us Cassette From My Ex: a project that brings so many of those musical gems, and the stories behind them, to light — to our delight.
You’ll find hundreds of digitized Side A’s and Side B’s, oozing that unmistakable butterflies-in-the-stomachness of first crushes and young love. And you’ll get to read the heartfelt recollections of the relationships they were the soundtrack of.
We love the concept almost as much as we loved Danni in the 8th grade. Besides, it’s been a while since we saw Sinead O’Connor and Dire Straits sharing anything other than the glove compartment of our parents’ Oldsmobile.
But before we get too boggled down with reminiscence — there’s no reason why you can’t relish the past and reconcile it with the present. And you can do it for under $200.
We’re talking about what must positively be the awesomest iPod dock in existence: the Lasonic Boombox. When you’re done gushing over the overwhelming retro-coolness of the gadget, let’s focus on the specs: this baby has separate bass and treble controls, a solid AM/FM tuner, a beastly speaker system, an alarm function that lets you wake up to your favorite blast-from-the-past Barry White, and a ton more nifty stuff that almost makes that Michael Jackson playlist of yours cool again.
The one, the only: Mad Magazine. What greater icon of American humor, political satire and pop culture commentary? The cult pub has been making waves since 1952, but some of its most recognized cultural contributions remain Al Jaffee’s infamous fold-ins.
Now, thanks to The New York Times, they’re available in interactive form, from 1960 to the present. And if there ever was a question of whether history repeats itself, this makes the answer loud and clear: most of the fold-ins are just as relevant today as they were decades ago, liberating history from its own confines.
Take the 1968 election year, when Nixon and Humphrey threw it down like there was no tomorrow, in the midst of a highly politicized war. Forty years later, the atrocities of another war are “turning our stomachs,” and a new generation is just as conflicted about a new war in an equally politically charged climate.
The entertainment business doesn’t seem to have changed for the better, either. In the year of the $2.7 million 30-second Super Bowl commercial, Jaffee’s snark resonates all the more powerfully.
See the full collection for a hefty slurp of history’s irony cocktail.
Say what you will of the music industry’s demise, but all this commotion has actually propelled the evolution and diversification of the “indie” music scene. No longer is it all garage bands and acoustic pop and stale teen angst.
Case in point: indie up-and-comer Ghost Away. Their unique brand of alternative sound blends brilliantly sombre vocals with electrically charged instrumentals, fusing in beats that will both hypnotize you and make you wanna move. The getup is part Radiohead, part Junior Boys, part Battles, part something else entirely.
GHOST AWAY – SLOWDRIFT
Siberia, their debut album, is out this week. And as if to claim their place in the music business revolution going on these days, they’re launching the album as a free download. Talk about the ultimate self-publishing empowerment of today’s new media freeconomy — it cost the band close to nothing to record, produce and distribute the album (except, of course, hours of sweat and blood in the studio), and now it’s costing you nothing to experience it.
Get it now and get ready to dance the toldja so dance when Ghost Away make that Rolling Stone cover.
POWER TO THE PEOPLE
Speaking of self-publishing empowerment, we love Scribd: the document-sharing online library that takes information exchange and collaboration to a whole new level. It’s simple: you can upload any docs you like — Microsoft Office stuff, PDF’s, PostScript, OpenOffice, and more — and make them available to the world.
Similarly, you can search and access millions of documents other people uploaded.
Besides offering free unlimited storage (seriously?!), Scribd is the ultimate tool for self-publishing and reaching a wide audience. People use it for anything from backing up office documents, to storing and sharing photo albums, to publishing e-books and indie ‘zines, to collaborating on music chords and more.
And just when you think they couldn’t possibly give you more, there’s Scribd iPaper — a platform that lets you quickly integrate files from Scribt into a website, and you don’t even have to know code. Think of it as embeds on steroids.
In our humble opinion, Scribt is just the tip of the collaborative future iceberg, where information becomes the new social currency and the digitization of data builds a tremendously powerful communal pool of knowledge.
So go ahead, free yourself from the confines of static and introverted desktop software.
ALONG FOR THE RIDE
After last week’s French fusion of documentary and raw indie music, the empire strikes back: we’ve got a British sequel.
The Black Cab Sessions, a Just So Films initiative, shares a similar point of view, namely that venues strip music of its essence. So the project employs a simple concept: for each “session,” an indie band or artist hops in the back of a black cab and plays a song filmed in a single shot, which is then uploaded — completely unedited — for the world to see.
Currently on chapter thirty-five, The Black Cab Sessions have sported some of the best of the The’s, and then some — The Ravonettes, The Kooks, The New Pornographers, Cold War Kids, Spoon, and much, much more.
Our only question: where does the cab actually go?
What is art if not the talent of looking at the mundane and seeing the extraordinary? Sculptor David Mach has just this sort of rare gift. He takes everyday objects like coat hangers, matchsticks and Scrabble pieces, turning them into sculptures, collages and installations that speak artistically, socially and politically.
Mach as been crafting his exquisite matchstick head sculptures and signature wire coat-hanger statues since the early 80′s. But, like a true artist, he spends more time concepting and crafting than tinkering with his new website and uploading visuals. Luckily, you can see the full breadth of his work on the archived old website.
We also dig the passion with which he stands behind his creative vision: Mach speaks freely of the great projects that never happened, which you can find in his Proposals section.
A particularly regrettable non-realization: Sound Wave, a gigantic tidal wave sculptured out of 250 upright pianos, which he conceived for the 25th anniversary of London’s Albert Hall. We feel your pain, Dave, we feel your pain.
WORD MEETS IMAGE, THEY MATE
You may recall the super nifty PicLens from a couple of months ago. Now, we bring you the next big thing in image search: the Flickr Related Tag Browser. The ridiculously sleek app does just what the name implies: lets you search Flickr images by tag, but does it visually in a way that halves the process and doubles the joy of it.
When you do a search, you get a collage of images tagged with that word, but you also get a tag cloud of contextually relevant images. It’s like the app thinks one step ahead for you and generating your next related keyword. You can click each tag in the cloud to sample the resulting images with another collage that pops up in the center.
You can keep scrolling through image results right there in the center collage, or you blow up a specific image thumbnail for a closer look. From there, you can either keep browsing the thumbnails if the image is no good, or click straight through to its Flickrs page to snag it.
The app is the work of freelance interactive designer Felix Turner, a Flash whiz who helped build the now-ubiquitous Brightcove video players.
This week’s Untrivia is a different take on data, inspired by a new branch of the “found objects” art genre. We like to call these new digital artists “binary sculptors” — because the found “objects” are sets and patterns of mined data that they use much in the way traditional sculptors use mined ore, transforming the raw material into compelling visual art.
One such remarkable binary sculptor is artist and real-time visual performer Paul Prudence, who uses a software called Daub to project the digital data of a video stream onto a “brush” moving in 3D space, creating a neo-surrealist morphing mesh.
And speaking of video streams and data, it seems like Prudence won’t be out of raw material anytime soon. In February alone, Americans viewed 10.1 billion online videos, up 66% from last year. The average time spent watching web video that month? 204 minutes.
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