I snapped this photo of Amarisse more than a year ago during a trip to the Sutro Baths in San Francisco. It was part of a set that, originally, I thought yielded very little good results. Of the 400 or so shots I took that afternoon I came away with two that I thought were good, and they weren’t very different. In fact, I snapped them both within a second of each other and the only change was in one Risse’s hair wasn’t blocking her eyes as much.
Initially I passed over this frame. I didn’t think there was much there to work with. The light was nice but it was a little over exposed, and I didn’t like the composition of the 3×2 frame. Furthermore, I didn’t think there was anything I could really elicit from it. But a second look proved me wrong.
I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me the first time around but a frame that was more suited to the cinematic works perfectly for this shot. To me, this shot plays like a close up that you’d see in a movie. It’s tight around her face, but not overly so. It’s more personal than a medium close, but an extreme close up would remove the context from the shot — and the context is important. The beach, water, and sunset add a sense of time and place to the photo.
It goes to show that sometimes you have to remove yourself from your work and then go back to it in order to be able to see the good in it. They do say that artists are their own worst critics. And in this case that was absolutely the case for me.
Cinematographer Sohei Tanikawa’s work on the Japanese film Himizu  reminds me why I love lens flares. When done right, they’re simply gorgeous. I perceive lens flares as a sort of visual representation of romanticism, the kind that makes me long to be a part of the world of the movie whilst simultaneously reminding me that it is, indeed, a movie that I’m watching.
Nowadays, with the success of J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek films and Super 8, it’s the cool thing to do to hate on lens flares. Granted, some people do find them legitimately distracting, but I’d argue that a pretty large portion of that vocal minority don’t notice them at all and just happen to have jumped on the hating bandwagon because propagating cynicism is just something you do on the internet. Either way, when I look at a frame like the one above it’s impossible for me to have a reaction other than one of total admiration. Without the flare in this frame, I think it’s less powerful. Less romantic. And that’s not even talking about the context of the shot in the movie, which I think further resonates the visual style. If you took away the flare in this shot, you’d be approaching more of a noir aesthetic.
Philosophical discussions of cinematography aside, I just personally like this frame. I will continue to post frames that I love, accompanied by little blurbs like the one I just wrote about lens flares.
…is about why I’m excited for Infamous: Second Son. While I’m not often very fond in a creative sense of editorial content that I produce, this “why we’re excited” series represents, in my opinion, some of the best editorial content I’ve produced at IGN. I’m very proud of it, and that says a lot when it comes to this type of content. The videos seem to have resonated with our audience and caused discussion, and they’re well crafted from a technical perspective. Even the art (created by the superior designer Eric Sapp) is a step above what has become run of the mill or middle of the road type content. Judging by this video series, I think that on the whole I’ve ended the year on a positive note. An upswing, if you will.
But of course as the year draws to a close I can’t help but enter a period of reflection on my work and on my life. I think about whether or not the work I did was as good as I could have made it, if it made an impact on anyone or anything, and if I grew as an artist and a person. Truthfully, most of the time I feel like the answer to these questions is no. It’s a negative outlook that stems from this deep seeded desire of mine to be more productive, more proactive, and making bigger and better films and videos all the time. I’m still young, yes, and those opportunities are still forthcoming, but each passing year passes by even quicker than the last and the thought looms in my mind that if I’m not continually making great strides towards being a better filmmaker that one day I’ll blink and be in my 50s and wonder where all the time went. It can and has caused me great stress in the past.
All that said, it’s important to focus on the positive. Tomorrow’s another day. Only I am in the way of me making sure that 2014 is the best year on record for me creatively and commercially. So here’s to a blooming 2014, for us all.
I had a particularly prolific week when it comes to video production. Here’s another entry in the “Why We’re Excited” series that we’ve been running on IGN for the past couple weeks. I haven’t played any Metal Gear games (which is why I don’t appear in this one) but the franchise looks awesome and Hideo Kojima (the director of the series) clearly has the design sensibilities of a filmmaker, so I’d be remiss to miss out on this one.
And I do have the HD collection sitting on my desk…maybe I’ll knock it out during Christmas break. At any rate, check out this video I made. It’s pretty cool.
I love to talk movies. And though I don’t often appear in front of the camera, I could hardly resist a chance to be part of a spoiler cast for a movie that I enjoyed. So if you’ve seen part two of The Hobbit, check this video out where me and the rest of the IGN crew break down what worked and what didn’t in the second film of Peter Jackson’s trilogy.