Dead Zone Crash

Here is my first experiment with animated GIF montage. It’s pretty hard to do, and this attempt is from perfect, but I am starting to get a sense of how this works—and want to do a series focusing on David Cronenberg’s The Dead Zone to figure this out.


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7 Responses to Dead Zone Crash

  1. Paul says:

    I like it – it has a comic booky feel, like breaking a film back down into storyboards. The movement adds something to it though. And it would make for an interesting way to analyze a scene, because instead of seeing it linearly you can see it all at once. Michael Branson Smith said earlier that things like this could change the way film is studied ( I think there’s truth to that.

    • Reverend says:

      I totally agree with that, and I am finding that when I made this I started really getting into a more granular sense of how shots are selected, and how the grammar of a scene works. Working on a microscopic level of a scene like this would be an awesome exercise for both film critique and filmmaking. What goes into a great scene? What is the syntax of film? I’m not sure this is a ds106 assignment yet, Tim Owens did something similar, but I think it could be awesome for the video section in which you ask a student to dissect a scene from a film they love using x-number of animated GIFs.

  2. In a former life, when I thought I’d be a filmmaker, I went through a stage of ‘reading’ scenes by remaking the storyboards. I can only imagine how awesome it would have been to do that with GIFs instead of my lame drawings. Part of the storyboard recreation was to also give a description for each shot as well. That included a basic explanation of action, but also details of the shot mechanics – framing, as well as camera angle and movement. It definitely helped me concretize the physical process.

    But when it came to storyboarding my own film, I couldn’t draw an image well enough so that a crew could understand the shot as I was envisioning it. I could describe the mechanics, but there was still a huge range of interpretation possible. I discovered drawing set floor plans for each shot as an alternative. It was like an architectural drawing, but it included icons for positions of actors, camera, and lights. I also would use arrows to show action.

    A few weeks ago, I discovered that a two people had started a journal that explored the relationship between architecture and film by creating floor plans of famous movie scenes. The floor plans are beautiful pieces of design in and of themselves, some of them remind me of minimalist movie posters.

    I think both of these could be ds106 assignments (GIFs and floor plans), but I also hope they might become part of the regular toolset for film analysis. How awesome would it be for a film theory classes to ask for these kinds of critiques from their students (as you suggest)? And better yet how awesome would it be if the professor was regularly publishing with GIFs, floor plans, or any number of other unconventional digital storytelling tools?

  3. YES! This montage/storyboard is really cool for a film. I’m even more committed now to doing one — say tomorrow — now that I’ve seen this one, Jim.

    I agree that this idea has a lot of potential for folks to explain their interpretations, highlight key themes, analyze and comment on film and story techniques.

    Michael’s comments about floor plans and staging camera shots and actor’s marks reminded me of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rope” — originally a stage play, and then shot on film with the notable feature that the length of a spool of film determined the length of each take — the actors acted and moved, and the camera moved according to a plan until the film ran out!! The final film That’s quite different from the films of today that feature fractional-second camera cuts by the director/editor to add emphasis, tension, and drama. In Rope, so much of what you get has to be from the actors — and planned out in advance by the director — as would be the case on stage.

    As an aside, the shots car and truck remind me of the film, Duel — directed by Steven Spielberg, no less — in which a truck (the driver is never seen) Dennis Weaver over the course of a road trip.

    I think I have a film in mind for my first real foray into this multi-frame GIF storytelling. That’s my plan for tomorrow.

  4. Reverend says:

    I think that floor plans for famous scenes is amazing—I want to play with that. It is very similar to another think I have been fascinated with recently: The Shining II recreation of the overlook Hotel using the Duke Nukem! engine. I can’t think of a better moment to be teaching film, I am going to work alongside Mikhail this coming semester on his film class integrating just these things. We should talk about us three doing an ongoing tv show about film as part of the class. What say you? Plus, we can start tagging certain ds106 assignments for that class.

    I love the Beaker multi-shot GIF you recently did, and the rick rolling Xmas card is painfully beautiful 🙂 I like the idea of Hitchcock’s Rope as a totally different approach to film, and oddly enough I voe it as an experiment but find it hard to watch as a film—that might also be because y wife and I have an ongoing argument about how one-dimensional Jimmy Stewart is as an actor.

    I have more Cronenberg GIF goodness coming, and your working just keeps inspiring me.

  5. I’m game for the live TV show, sounds amazing. We’ve got a the stream we can play with.

  6. Reverend says:


    I would love that, and we want to start experimenting with our mediaserver and wowza as well, we can experiment together around the whole show. It would be pretty amazing. Let’s do it—unless Mikhail is too scared 🙂

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