Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Online Marketing Makes Movies Virtually Real: Viral Marketing for 2012 Movie Criticized by NASA Scientist

Remember the movie Blair Witch Project? It was hyped as something that actually happened and a lot of people actually bought it even when in the back of their mind, they knew that what they were watching in the movie theater wasn't really real. That movie kind of was part of the reality show trend that began some years back. Well, Hollywood took note of how some movies can be marketed this way and marketers have made good use of the Internet to advertise movies.

If you haven't noticed, the marketing machine of Hollywood has turned to social networks, blogs, and other sites that are normally used by people to talk about things. One example is the way marketers of Journey to the Center of the Earth made it appear that an institution and even a scientist character in the movie actually existed. A website and even a blog was put up just to explore the "veracity" of Vernian lore (already removed and replaced by a post-theatrical-release marketing site).

It's interesting how the posts were written and how a reader can actually be taken for a ride. Basically, that's what Journey to the Center of the Earth is about in the first place. It's an adventure ride in which you suspend belief for just short of two hours.

Another example of a movie in which Hollywood marketing that makes the most of people's tendency to suspend belief, and even spread the idea used in a movie as factual, is 2012. Now that's a scary movie and is one based on actual beliefs that the world will end in December of that year. This is what many believe will happen and it's just because the ancient Mayan calendar ends in that year. If you make a search for 2012, a lot of sites will pop up. Some of these actually deal with the Mayan calendar while some are about the events that will supposedly happen when the time comes. However, some of these sites are really marketing tools for the 2012 movie. Here's one in Facebook: 2012 Movie.

The marketers of 2012 have actually constructed a network of social sites and blogs that creates a kind of reality behind the movie. It's a viral campaign that rides on an existing one which involves people who are actually following up on events that will lead to a culmination of sorts in 2012, when the world will end supposedly. Well, some people think that movie producers have gone a bit far in their marketing. It's like the hoax about the boy stuck in the balloon which was made to appear as real. It caused a lot of trouble for authorities, not to mention the expenses for a rescue that wasn't needed.

As for the 2012 movie, well, it's obviously fiction, but people are still scared by the idea that the world will soon end and experts say that with the way Hollywood is marketing it, the movie may cause unnecessary panic. NASA scientist, David Morrison says this through Discovery News, "I don't have anything against the movie. It's the way it's been marketed and the way it exploits people's fears." Morrison's online column for NASA, Ask an Astrobiologist, got more than a thousand questions about the end of the world. His answer: The world isn't going to end in 2012.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Spy Gadgets in Movies Never Die

What would a spy movie be without gadgets? Boring? Maybe so. Spy gadgets are almost a staple when it comes to spy movies like True Lies and The Spy Next Door. Who can forget about the old James Bond and Dick Tracy gadgets? Some of them are actually used in real life spy games. Remember Dick Tracy's watch phone? It's no longer a fictional item these days. Who knows how many movie gadgets have been made real?

Collectors love spy gadgets. They not only bring back the good old days of movies, they also remind us that movies can sometimes serve as inspiration for the real stuff out there used by real spies in espionage. Of course, these gadgets or aspects of them can and do get to be used in gadgets made for ordinary people like us. Check out this video about the book The Incredible World of Spy-Fi.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

How Movies Help People to Remember History and Misinform Viewers at the Same Time

Hollywood helps teach history well by promoting retention of events depicted in movies based on historical stories. Unfortunately, the viewers retain more of the fiction than the fact. Yes, it's true, these conclusions were based on studies done by psychologist Andrew Butler and his group at Washington University in St. Louis.

Two experiments were conducted involving 108 students. The students were grouped and made to watch nine different movies. Along with each movie, the students were also given text to read about the real history behind the story of the movie. Before watching, the participants were warned that the movies can be inaccurate regarding historical facts.

The results of the experiment revealed that when the movie was a faithful depiction of historical facts, the students remembered 50% of the facts even a week later. On the other hand, when the film did not match the factual historical details of the text, the students remembered most of the false events depicted in the film instead of what's written in the text. Some students were also adamant about their claims to having remembered what's historical rather than fictional and that the information also came from the text instead of the movie (which was mostly incorrect).

The researchers note that the early warning about the inaccuracies of the films may have contributed to retention of historical facts relating to the text, while forgetting about the warning a week or so later may have contributed to the students' remembering the misinformation n the movies. The study is interesting and shows us that movies do really help people remember historical events as if they watched it happen in front of their eyes. The problem lies in how accurate the events are depicted in the movies.

One issue that best illustrates this is the argument posed by people concerned about the movies The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons, which were based on fictional novels by Dan Brown (refer to video below). There were those who argued that those films may lead people to believe that the things depicted in the movies actually happened in history.

Hint to history teachers: have students dramatize historical events in front of the class, and they'll likely remember what needs to be remembered. Otherwise, use documentary films or slide shows to support classroom discussions. Tangible collectible movie objects based on the that are historical in their presentation can also help.

What's historical and what's fictional in the movie 300 may not be important as long as it's good entertainment both as a film and as a graphic novel. Get this 300 book by graphic novel genius Frank Miller and Lynn Varley. Click here or on the image to purchase.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

There's Something Wrong with the Movie Poster of Orphan

The poster of the horror movie Orphan, featuring young actress Isabelle Fuhrman (left), is creepy as it is already, having gone through the magic of artists who managed to give it an unnatural feel and aura. But there's really something wrong with the poster just like the character in the movie. You can't quite pin it down when you view it in one of those back-illuminated ads that you usually pass by in train stations and urban walkways.

If you do happen to run into an illuminated poster of Orphan, try looking at it as you walk past and you will see a strange metamorphosis taking place on the face of the girl. Somehow, the girl appears to age and become drawn - almost like it's turning into an undead monster. Up front, it appears normal, but when you look at it from an angle on either side of it, the face changes unerringly.

One artist has said that it's done on purpose, but it's really hard to tell. If the metamorphosis effect is actually the result of artistry, then it's something that really should be admired. Otherwise, it's just a incidental visual effect but one that should give you more goosebumps. The uncanny effect cannot be replicated exactly if you examine the movie poster on the computer screen.

Orphan horror movie creates fears about adoption?

Horror Movie Orphan Stirs Issues about Adoption

Movies, as long as they're not labeled as documentary or dramatization, are always supposed to be recognized as fictional, never mind if they are based on a true story.

Generally, people do not find any harm in a movie that depicts characters and situations that can be scary in real life - especially in the horror genre. But sometimes, people do make a fuss and raise issues that are normally nonexistent or weren't taken up in similar movies.

Take for instance the issue concerning the movie Orphan. It's supposed to be a fictional film about a psychotic killer orphan adopted by a family, yet some people say it may make people fearful of adopting children in the fears that they are out to kill their new family. The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute in the United States is saying the film will have the unintended effect of skewing public opinion against children awaiting families both in the United States and abroad. It adds that it could feed into the unconscious fears of families opting for adoption that orphaned children are psychotic.

The fears raised about Orphan has raised eyebrows and debate on whether adults, specifically adoptive families, are gullible enough to think that the movie is an actual reflection of reality. While it's true that kids up for adoption may have been abused or have psychological issues, it is not always the case and any information about a child's past would surely be studied and considered during the adoption process.

It's a strange issue, but the concern of the adoption coalition is but a natural reaction to movie that does not present a positive image of orphans and the establishments that give them a home and a chance at having a family to care for them. Still, the real question that should be asked, perhaps, is if it's a real or nonsense concern. It kind of reminds us of the Chucky movies. Is that lovable collectible doll on the store shelf really possessed by a murderous criminal out to kill you? There's only one way to find out!

This is Chucky, the doll that's possessed by an evil spirit. He usually controls kids and kills people in his movies, but we all know that's totally not true! So buy this terrifyingly-detailed 12-inch speaking Chucky doll and you're guaranteed to have lots of fun, especially during Halloween! Click here or on the image to place your order.

WARNING: Chucky dolls are not intended to be used to scare kids! (Yeah, like that's going to stop some of you.)

Strange visual effect observed with backlit Orphan horror movie posters.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Food Plays Prominent Role in Kung Fu Movies

Classic or classic-style kung fu movies are exiting because of the martial arts and action. But apart from those and the infusion of drama and comedy that we can usually expect from Chinese movies that we have loved to watch over and over again, there's also something else that makes them so appealing to watch. In a way, it plays a role that pretty much makes the film worth watching as it gives more realism to the Chinese nature of the production and the setting. What is it? The answer is food!

You may or may not have noticed it, but food in Chinese kung fu movies, particularly the classic ones, have a role that can sometimes rival those of the astors. In fact they are like supporting actors that add to the ambience of the situation. Somehow, it also makes the scene all the more oriental and exotic, especially if traditional Chinese food like noodles, dumplings, rice, and soups are used together with porcelain tableware.

From comedic fight scenes of a young Jackie Chan with Samo Hung in Drunken Master (scene shown at left), to the social nuances displayed in later movies like Iron Monkey and Ip Man (starring Donnie Yen and model-actress Xiong Dai Ling), we see and experience how food is used in many cinematic ways - from humor, to drama, to action. If there's no food in a classic-feel kung fu movie, you can't help but feel that something's missing. So, if you plan on making your own kung fu movie, don't forget the scene with the hot noodles.

Sooo, you are a fan of kung fu, eh? Ah, then this graphic novel is perfect for you, hehehe! It's about Marvel's Iron Fist and by the looks of the cover, you are in for a lot more cool Chinese-style martial arts stuff inside! Come, come! Why not click here or on the image to place your order now, eh?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

2012 Title Animation Has Partly-Hidden Message of Doom

If you've watched the trailer of the movie 2012, you may or may not have noticed that there are words written on the first number "2" of the 2012 title in the movie ID animation sequence at the end. The animation is too fast for you to read it in full, but it is just enough for your mind to take in the word "apocalypse" together with other words like "into a place."

While you can surmise as to where director Roland Emmerich (left) and writer Harold Kloser got the phrase, it's likely used to give viewers a sense of dread as the year 2012 nears. It does have some Biblical echoes and you'd likely find something similar if you look in the Book of Revelation. But let's not get too deep, it's just a movie after all - one that's banking on the people's fear of the end of the world - for it to become a blockbuster. It has lots of special visual imagery, but it has one or two graphical special effects that should have been redone to fix mistakes.

Discover what's wrong with the eclipse effect in the 2012 trailer.

Hear is a news video about a doomsday cult in Russia. This is about real people waiting for the end of the world.

Monday, June 8, 2009

How Do You Get a Busy Governor to Appear in a Terminator Movie?

Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger of California is the first terminator robot in the Terminator movie series. If there's no scowling face of Arnold, then a terminator movie doesn't really cut it. It would be like making an Elvis movie with only Elvis impersonators to see. Director McG of Terminator: Salvation knew this, so he had to think of a way to get Governor Schwarzenneger into the picture even when the governor himself said he's too busy with governorship to make a cameo appearance.

So what does McG do? Celebrity news had it that he got another bodybuilder with a body that kind of looks kind of like that of Schwarzenneger's in the 1980s His name is Roland Kickinger and he's also Austrian. The Movie Catcher blog had his face pasted on Arnold's as Conan the Barbarian (left) and the effect is amazing - a less glum barbarian! There's also news about a body cast of Arnold's used to recreate his old winning form digitally.

So in Terminator: Salvation, it's either McG places a computer-generated image of Arnold's face over Kickinger's body or he uses a body-cast recreation. Yes, the picture on top shows the results of this merger of human and computer-technology and it's amazing since it appears in a movie about cyborgs!

You can judge for yourself how realistic Arnold's face is in the movie (above and top left). It's supposed to look like how he appeard way back when he was cast in the first Terminator, although his hair appears to look up-to-date. Remember the scenes in the first movie where the terminator operates on his own eye? That was a mechanical special effect using a dummy (left). Now, it's in CG along with the use of another bodybuilder's body - Kickinger's.

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Monday, June 1, 2009

Some Secrets in Making a Terminator Movie Robot Look Real Revealed

Terminator: Salvation director, McG had a few things to say about how he makes the post-apocalyptic world of the possible future realistic. In the official blog of the Terminator: Salvation movie, Visual Effects supervisor Charles Gibson revealed that McG combined science-fiction, horror, and action seamlessly in the movie using such techniques as brisk camerawork. For his part, Gibson said the challenge was to "bury the effects into the photography."

Gibson's words may be a bit vague but it may be his way of saying that the special effects (whether computer-generated or mechanical) are supposed to be unnoticed in the presentation. That aside, there's also the need to make things believable such that the elements in the movie, whether flesh-covered robot or flying killer machines, are seen as plausible. The video above gives some hints as to how a Terminator movie robot is made to look real.

The original design of the terminators was from Stan Winston, who passed away in June 15, 2008. He made a cameo appearance in Terminator: Salvation as a resistance fighter who encounters a hydrobot, one of his creations.

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Monday, March 9, 2009

Bogus Beasts for Your Film Project

Monsters are always a favorite of young film makers. But since they don't have much resources to make convincing computer graphics, makeup effects, or props, it sometimes takes some ingenuity, but not necessarily a big expense.

Consider the photograph above of what appears to be an appearance of a creature of folklore in the Philippines - the manananggal - a supernatural monster-human that flies off into the night with only a torso attached to bat wings and eats babies. It's been making the rounds of the Internet lately. At first glance, it appears to be real, but its actually a kite made of bamboo and painted Manila paper! You can download it to see the "monster" in more detail (left). Anyone who knows how to make kites can do it!

Another good example of a movie creature effect in a photograph is by using Photoshop. Just look at the image of a supposedly real photograph of the mythical Nabah, a Bornean monster of the river Baleh (left). Judging by the size of the snake-like creature, it should be over a hundred feet long and at least several feet wide at the head. Is it real? Well, just like the photograph of the manananggal, it seems too perfect and too well-framed in the picture. Also, there should be other pictures of these two creatures since they are both moving. Wouldn't you take more than one?

Even though the example pictures here are not convincing enough to fool people for them to believe them to be real, they just might be good enough for the movies! Check out this video footage that's supposedly that of the Loch Ness monster swimming. What do you think of it?

This beast looks horrifying, but it's the creation of filmmakers' imaginations. It's from the classic horror movie, The Creature from the Black Lagoon and it's one of the most iconic horror monsters ever! You can become the creature himself by purchasing this mask. Click here or on the picture to place your order.

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