Thursday, December 13, 2007

Final Website

Click on the picture to take you to our homepage!

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Saturday, December 8, 2007


The Incredibles

The opening sequence of this movie has incredible face gesture and expression! Elastigirl speaks out the side of her mouth.
Talk about detail.

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Friday, December 7, 2007

Faces of Guitar Hero

Guitar Hero

I stumbled across this on the net today. How appropriate!!!

The artwork of Ari Pescovitz:

Are video games and interactive media the future of cinema?
I think so!

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Tuesday, December 4, 2007


"Dialogue should simply be a sound among other sounds, just something that comes out of the mouths of people whose eyes tell the story in visual terms." - Alfred Hitchcock

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Saturday, December 1, 2007

In the Beginning

The Lord of the Rings (a few years old, but pivotal to the history of cinematic visual effects.

Andy Serkis (Gollum) writes:
I had an emotional root to that sound. For me, it is where his pain is trapped. That emotional memory is trapped in that part of his body, his throat. In just doing the voice, I immediately got into the physicality of Gollum and embodied the part as I would if I were playing it for real.

Peter Jackson adds:
Serkis' performance was so strong as Gollum that the initial digital character has evolved throughout the production to be more like the actor. Gollum is probably the most actor-driven digital creature that has ever been used in a film before

Watch Andy Serkis perform as Gollum (not the best quality):

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On Beowulf

How can we have a blog on Face Gestures and Emotional Resonance without mentioning Beowulf?

Ehhhh. Blah blah blah. We’ve heard it already. But, like I said, we can’t not talk about it. Instead of rehashing the argument, I’ve picked a few key quotes from the blogger community:

Ralph Eggleston, Artistic Director for The Incredibles says:
In my opinion it's always been a fallacy, the notion that human characters have to look photo-realistic in CG. You can do so much more with stylized human characters. Audiences innately know how humans move and gravity works, so if a human character doesn't feel right, they'll feel something's wrong. But if the weight works for stylized characters, the audience doesn't question it.

And, the General Public writes:
*Okay, so maybe I'm just a geek cinephile but it totally looks like CGI to me - it's the lack of emotion in the eyes, the stiff appendages and the rubberized body motions that give it away so easily. However, that said, the technology has come a long way and it still looks pretty darn fantastico*
*I hate this type of lazy film making. It gets big stars on the cheap so they don't have to work too many days. Then a computer does the rest. No real investment in actors at least trying to get into character (any wrong expression can be fixed by the computer guy) and no real sets. It's lazy and an insult to ones intelligence*
*Animated Angelina HOT...Buuut. She's also animated, which defeats the purpose of daydreaming in my book. Why go thru all the trouble for the animation technique when you can just shoot live-action. Obviously it's cheaper, but it kinda takes the magic out of the movies*

Why go through the trouble? Just because...we can. Thomas Kang, our guest speaker, elaborates:

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Are You Ready?

Norma Desmond sure is (from Sunset Blvd.)

Where would Hollywood be without the close-up? Dave dares to ask during our seminar panel, and Professor Marsha Kinder responds:

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The Close-Up

Birth of a Nation:

Ivan the Terrible, Part 1:

Once Upon a Time in the West:


The Shining:


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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sunday, November 25, 2007

It's All in the Eyes

The National Film Board of Canada presents the stop-motion animated film, Madame Tutli-Putli:
The special visual effects were produced in collaboration with acclaimed portrait artist Jason Walker. The puppet eye effects demonstrate a first in the field of animation: a seamless, unnerving integration of human and puppet performance. This innovative process, created by Walker for the film, required meticulous precision and involved the placement of real human eyes onto individual puppets. For each scene, the puppet's animation was analyzed and corresponding human facial expressions were filmed in order to match the puppet's motion. The eye performances required long rehearsal time, great patience and precise notes. Once the live-action eyes were filmed, Walker then individually positioned, digitally scaled, painted and re-timed the footage for nuance and believability of gesture. The extraordinary result of this process is a new kind of puppet: one with the soul and memories of a living being.

Before & After (From Walker's website):

The Trailer:

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Friday, November 16, 2007

No Need for Dialog

Norma Desmond agrees:

From Sunset Blvd.:

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Faced With Death

The Long Good Friday:


I haven't even seen this movie, but the ending has incredible emotion. It's not told through dialog, but rather it's told through close-ups! Bob Hoskins' face tells it all.

Here it is:

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Persona, 1966

From Strictly Film School:

Ingmar Bergman uses minimal composition and extremely tight close-ups to illustrate the theme of psychological deconstruction. Note the prevalent use of single camera shots throughout the duration of a scene. The lack of camera movement forces us to study the characters' faces. Persona, after all, as the title suggests, is not about who the person actually is, but the different identities, or facades, that the person projects. Figuratively, Elisabeth Vogler, having played the role of celebrity, wife, and mother, has decided to abandon her persona and walk off the stage. A variation on the idea of duality provides an essential ingredient to the plot development. The themes of experience, children, and romantic relationships take on very different meanings for the two women. Alma seems to covet what Elisabeth has, but she has deliberately chosen other paths. Note the monologue that is shown twice: one showing a close-up of Alma, and the other of Elisabeth. It is a scene about regret, frustration, and denial. The effect illustrates how different, and yet similar, these two women are... and how cruel and destructive the human will can be.

Here is the clip from the movie:

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Reading the Face

Here is a clip from Ingmar Bergman's Cries and Whispers:

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Faces & Animation

Animation: Check
Faces: Check
Emotion: Check
Robot: Check

This film, Dollface, has it all. It's made by USC undergrad, Andy Huang. Check it out:

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Warhol's Screen Tests

From the Warhol Organization:
Warhol’s Screen Tests are revealing portraits of hundreds of different individuals, shot between 1963 and 1966. When asked to pose, subjects were lit and filmed by Warhol’s stationary 16mm Bolex camera on silent, black and white, 100-foot rolls of film. Each Screen Test is exactly the same length, lasting only as long as the roll of film. The standard formula of subject and camera remaining almost motionless for the duration of the film, results in a “living portrait.”

Edie Sedgewick's Screen test:

Salvador Dali's (rephotographed):

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

It's All in the Eyes

According to Disney (click to enlarge):

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Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Passion of Joan of Arc

The Passion of Joan of Arc is a silent film directed by Carl Dreyer in 1928. Shot mostly in close-ups (and without makeup), Dreyer believed that the "face was the window to the content of the soul."

Roger Ebert writes:
Why did Dreyer fragment his space, disorient the visual sense and shoot in closeup? I think he wanted to avoid the picturesque temptations of a historical drama. There is no scenery here, aside from walls and arches. Nothing was put in to look pretty. You do not leave discussing the costumes (although they are all authentic). The emphasis on the faces insists that these very people did what they did. Dreyer strips the church court of its ritual and righteousness and betrays its members as fleshy hypocrites in the pay of the British; their narrow eyes and mean mouths assault Joan's sanctity.
To modern audiences, raised on films where emotion is conveyed by dialogue and action more than by faces, a film like ``The Passion of Joan of Arc'' is an unsettling experience--so intimate we fear we will discover more secrets than we desire. Our sympathy is engaged so powerfully with Joan that Dreyer's visual methods--his angles, his cutting, his closeups--don't play like stylistic choices, but like the fragments of Joan's experience

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Speaking of Emotional Robots

Have you seen Chris Cunningham's Bjork video? The video was banned from MTV (back when they played videos) for its suggestive content.

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Friday, October 5, 2007

Programing Emotions

Last week we saw the results of programmers trying to teach a robot grace and coordination on the dance floor. Today I present to you the result of programmers trying to teach a robot emotions.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2007

An Excerpt From Will Eisners' Graphic Storytelling-

These are good examples of displaying emotion through gesture as well as how 'delivery' of the message indicates the emotion behind it.

To start, we will look at gesture:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

And now how the delivery of a message will completely alter the emotion behind it:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Repeating Ourselves

Since the dawn of ages man has communicated through drawings and paintings. In the early cave paintings we find not only depictions of the surroundings and the animal life, but also mainly of people. It is interesting that we go to big efforts to recreate what we see and how we see ourselves in order to transcend, at least by leaving a footprint of our existence.

Through the thousands of years that followed this trend continued and we became much more sophisticated in documenting those facts or records of our lives.

We have since been repeating the same motions, repeating the act of projecting our thoughts, ideas and self image into all sorts of medium like rock frescos, sculpture, print, photography. We endlessly reproduce the human form in many ways as if to become inmortal through the expression of these forms. As if we would live forever through these time enduring stone impressions of ourselves.

In a way, facial expression and emotions could be considered the original sin, the apple that had us cast from eden. For facial expression was the precursor of communication and gave way to the more sophisticated methods of communication like language and writing. It is not by chance then that all art forms are filled with endless iterations of the human form, especially the face.

Even today we continue to observe this trend as we strive to reproduce the face with extreme realism for films, commercials, tv, etc... You could say that some consider the human face to be the holy grail of art.

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