Saturday, January 09, 2010

Narration and Titling, Part Six

(This is part of a series. Start with Narration and Titling, Part One.)

The Computer-Based Diary Film: Tarnation

As Lev Manovich has pointed out, computers are omnivorous and anything that can be brought into a computer can become part of a video or film presentation. Still images, moving images, animations and most significantly text are all easily brought into a motion picture created in a computer-based editing program.

The art of motion graphics has finally come of age when a relatively inexpensive program like Adobe After Effects offers more power than the best artists of the film world had into the 1970s. Opening credits––once of minimal importance, but increasingly valued since the time of designer Saul Bass––have become a tool in the service of a film’s story and mood.

Jonathan Caouette's 2003 Tarnation uses the computer-editing aesthetic intrinsic to Apple’s iMovie software. Titles are easily created in the midst of cross-dissolved stills, and the movie is heavily dependent on these textual elements. Key moments in the story are revealed through these titles, something that would have been incomprehensible in Flaherty’s Nanook: “Nanook builds an ice window” would not have served the film in the same manner the visual revelation does.

Yet in Caouette’s film the text can be perceived more as a personal letter. It is assumed it is his writing of the tale, and the non-visual moments can be interpreted as his revelations, rather than as patches over missing material.

Next: Conclusion

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