Posts filed under ‘Entertainment’

Story and Plot are Not the Same Thing

By Chad Upton | Editor

Movies are extremely captivating because of their complex combination of: music, characters, dialogue, lighting, story, plot and everything else. Yes, story and plot.

These two words are often used interchangeably. I don’t have a problem with that, but I do find this little known fact interesting and heck, that’s what this site is all about.

Whether you’re talking about books, films or campfire tales, the differentiation between story and plot applies. I’ll start by oversimplifying the difference:

Story is what happens; plot is how those events are presented.

To be more specific: the story is a chronological arrangement of the events, including everything you’re presented with and also the implied or assumed events that you are not explicitly given. On the other hand, the plot includes everything that contributes to how you experience the story, including everything you see and hear, but not including the story events that are implied or assumed.

These two words are confusing because the elements they describe have some overlap — the parts of the story that you see are also part of the plot. While they do have this overlap, it is important to note that both plot and story include elements that do not overlap. Lets look at a popular film for example.

By now, I think most people have seen The Hangover (2009). If you haven’t, that’s ok, there are no spoilers beyond this point, but there is a basic description of the story and plot.

At a high level, it’s a comedy about four guys who go to Las Vegas and lose their friend, then retrace their steps to find him.

At the start of the film, the main characters are already friends; the film doesn’t show you how the core group of people met or became friends. Because we don’t see when they originally met, the formation of their friendship is part of the story, but not the plot.

The second act begins with the characters waking up from a blackout. Their hotelroom is a mess, but they can’t remember what happened the night before. The plot jumps from the night before to the morning after and skips everything in between. Because we did not see what happened, the events the plot skipped are just part of the story at this point.

The story ends by revealing something that happened the night before. Because the events in the story are rearranged (the plot), the viewer is part of the adventure, they know just as much as the characters. The plot makes the story more captivating because we want to know what happened, just as bad as the characters.

In movies, the plot also includes the music and credits because these are not generally part of the story — they’re not things the characters experience, but they do affect how viewers experience the story. This is where The Hangover does something really interesting; during the credits they show some still “pictures” from parts of the story that were skipped in the plot, bringing those elements that were once only part of the story into the plot too.

Bonus fact: music can be part of the story if, for example, there is a person/band/radio in the scene that is playing music.

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Sources: Film Art (ISBN 0073386162)

August 7, 2011 at 2:00 am 2 comments

Disney Movie Secrets

By Kaye Nemec

Disney movies like The Little Mermaid, The Lion King and Aladdin are popular among kids and adults around the world. Their characters continue to come to life as Halloween costumes and at birthday parties and their hit songs are easily recognized (perhaps unwilling to admit it, most of us could probably sing at least one completely from memory).

Disney_Robin_Hood

But perhaps something that most Disney movie fans don’t know is that several of the movies have hidden secrets scattered throughout. If you do not own a copy of these movies, clips of the secrets can be found on You Tube. Several of the hidden secrets are not G rated and are not appropriate for Disney films and, therefore, not listed here.

The Little Mermaid

  • When King Triton enters the stadium to watch Aerial sing, the camera views him from behind. If you look in the bottom left corner of the screen, in the audience, you will find Goofy, Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse.

The Lion King

  • Some people claim that when Simba lays down on the rock ledge at the end of the movie and dust flies out from underneath him the particles form the word “SEX” in the sky. Others claim this is a shout out to the special effects team that worked on the movie and it actually spells SFX.

Beauty and the Beast

  • As Gaston is being thrown from the ledge at the end of the movie skulls replace his pupils.

Hunchback of Notre Dame

  • Belle, Pumbaa and Alladin’s carpet make cameo appearances.

Snow White

  • In the movie, Snow White has brown eyes but in most of the merchandise she has blue eyes.

Monster’s Inc.

  • Jessie from Toy Story 2 appears at the end of the movie when Sulley returns Boo to her room – she picks her up and gives her to Sulley. The “Pizza Planet” truck from Toy Story makes subtle appearances in many Pixar films such as: Cars, A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo, Monster’s Inc and WALL-E.

Lilo and Stitch

  • When Lilo wakes up Nani in her bedroom there is a Mulan movie poster on the wall.

Leave a comment with additional Disney secrets you know.

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Sources: Various YouTube clips (see clips above), Visions Fantastic, Hiddenmickeys.org

April 1, 2011 at 2:00 am 68 comments

Secrets of the Red Carpet

By Chad Upton | Editor

The most famous red carpet was rolled out last night for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards. I find the red carpet fascinating, but it has nothing to do with what people are wearing.

While it looks like a random flow of people entering an award ceremony, it’s actually a well choreographed vehicle for publicity — publicity for the event itself and for the people and projects they are involved in.

I walked the red carpet at last year’s Webby Awards, where all of you helped me win a Webby for Broken Secrets. One thing that surprised me was the timing of the red carpet. While it looks like a casual flow of people entering the gala, it’s actually a regulated flow of people selected to pass by the cameras.

Not everyone who attends the event walks the red carpet. Usually, just the guest representing a project will walk the red carpet. Each guest walks at a scheduled time. These times are staggered to maintain an even flow of attendees moving along the press line.

In some cases, the event’s press liaison may provide the press with a list of red carpet attendees so they can decide who they want to interview and produce stories about. If you see someone with an attendee on the red carpet, it is likely their spouse or publicist. A publicist usually walks ahead of their client and decides which media outlets will do the next interviews with the person they represent.

Guests who do not walk the red carpet, escape the press circus by entering through another entrance.

The earliest known reference to “walking a red carpet” is from a play called Agamemnon (458 BC) by Aeschylus. When the hero returns from Troy, his chariot stops at a crimson path for him to walk on. So, like a god, his feet will never touch the earth again.

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Photo: Ian Muttoo (cc)

Sources: Wikipedia, eHow

February 28, 2011 at 2:00 am 3 comments

Why It Is Called a Swan Song

By Kaye Nemec

If you’ve been watching NBC’s The Sing Off, you’re probably familiar with the term “swan song.” At the end of each episode, the group that gets voted off leaves the stage as they perform what host Nick Lachey refers to as their swan song.

A swan song is used in reference to any final theatrical or dramatic performance. It can also be said that a political candidate is singing his/her swan song during their final political campaign or final term of office.

The term “swan song” comes from the belief that Mute Swans (Cygnus olor) were completely silent until the last few moments of their life, when they would sing a beautiful song. Although this is an ancient myth and was proven to be false, as far back as 77A.D., the legend has lived on and the term swan song has become mainstream.

Although Mute Swans do have a straight trachea that prevents them from making loud noises and, although they are usually pretty quiet, they are not mute. They make hissing, whistling, snorting and soft bark-like noises.

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Photo: Christian Roberts (cc)

Sources: University of Michigan, Wikipedia

January 5, 2011 at 2:00 am Leave a comment

The Most Popular Types of Liquor

If you’re throwing a party or just having some friends over, you may want to have the basics in your home bar.

A good place to start is with the most popular types of liquor.

At a real bar, there is often a stock of liquor at waist height below the bar with the most commonly commonly requested liquors. This is called the “speed rail” and it is normally stocked with:

  • Vodka
  • Gin
  • Rum (light)
  • Tequila

Many popular drinks can be made with these liquors but bars frequently stock these other popular liquors in the speed rail too:

  • Scotch (Whiskey)
  • Bourbon (Whiskey)
  • Triple Sec
  • Vermouth

Here’s a secret if you’re short on space or cash, or if you run out of Triple Sec. Triple Sec is an orange flavored liquor, so you can substitute other popular orange flavored liquors like: Grand Marnier, Cointreau or Curaçao. When it comes to selecting whiskey, click here to read more about Whiskey.

If you want to go all out with your bar, pick up some of the following and none of your guests will be unsatisfied:

  • Irish Whiskey
  • Canadian Whiskey
  • Tennessee Whiskey
  • Dark Rum
  • Brandy
  • Baileys
  • Agostura bitters

You’ll also want to stock popular tonics and mixers such as: Coke, ginger ale, club soda and cranberry juice. By the way, the Tanqueray Gin bottle was designed to look like a London fire hydrant.

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Photos: Jeff Simms (cc), Megan Morris (cc)

Sources: Orange Liqueurs, Hub Pages, Totally Free Bartending, Crunkish

November 29, 2010 at 2:00 am 1 comment

The Meaning of the PlayStation Button Symbols

By Chad Upton | Editor

We are surrounded by symbols and they’ve been around for a very long time.

In public places,  where people may speak many different languages, we often see symbols instead of words. Some examples include signs for bathrooms and restaurants and even many road signs.

In the West, we have a some common symbols in writing. Check marks often mean correct or yes and an X usually means incorrect or no.  In Japan, they have four symbols that are commonly used in surveys: X, Triangle, Circle and Double Circle (circle within circle). These four symbols make up a four point scale, although sometimes the double circle is omitted for a three point scale. The circle means good or satisfactory and the double circle means excellent. The X means no or bad. The triangle means average (or below average on the four point scale when the double circle is being used). These symbols are just as common as the checks and Xs in the West.

So, when Sony charged Teiyu Goto with designing the original PlayStation, he wanted the buttons to represent ideas rather than label them with arbitrary letters like everybody else. It didn’t take long for him to settle on the triangle, circle, X, square icons.

They were easy to remember because they were associated with meaning. The triangle represents a user’s viewpoint or perspective, making it a great button to launch maps or change the game perspective. The square represented a piece of paper, making it ideal for showing navigation lists and menus. The circle and the X mean yes and no, and they’re meant for navigating yes and no operations.

When asked about the impact of the design, Goto replied, “”Getting to use such simple symbols in a design is an extremely rare opportunity, and it was really a stroke of luck to me.”

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Sources: 1up, Japanese Translator

November 3, 2010 at 1:00 am 9 comments

Studios Pay to Have Movies Rated

By Chad Upton | Editor

I always find it funny when movies come out on video and they’re advertised as “unrated.”

The “unrated” designation seems to imply that the film is so outrageously sexual, horrific or crude that there’s no rating that could possibly classify how extreme it is. But, that’s not usually true.

While the unrated release may be more sexual, horrific or crude than the rated version, it also may not be. To me, it’s just like doing a math test, not handing it in and calling it “ungraded.” In either case, it doesn’t necessarily reflect the nature of the content — it just means that it didn’t get a stamp from somebody with elbow patches.

The movie rating process varies by country. In some places, such as Australia, movies are rated by the government. In other places, such as the United States, an independent organization handles ratings.

In the US, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) actually has a trademark on the ratings known as: G, PG, PG-13, R and NC-17. That means those ratings cannot be used without the permission of the MPAA. That adds credibility to the rating system, but it also adds digits to their bottom line. You see, when a filmmaker or studio submits a film for rating, they pay $2,500 – $25,000 to have their film rated (based on cost of the film and the annual revenue of the studio).

The MPAA also has an agreement with the major studios: that all theatrical films will be submitted for rating. That’s why most movies that you see in the theater have a rating. It’s not a legal requirement, at least not in most places. In fact, it’s a business decision.

Even though it costs a lot of money to have a film rated, it can be well worth it. The rating that a film receives can dramatically impact the film’s success at the box office. For many films, the lower the rating, the wider the audience. But, in the case of movies that are targeted at older teenagers and adults, higher ratings may be more appealing. This is part of the phenomenon that contributes to the status of the “unrated” marker.

The rating a movie gets is so important that studios will often re-cut and resubmit a film for rating multiple times, until it receives the rating that they want. It’s all marketing, they know how they’re going to promote the film and the rating has a lot to do with it. Each time they resubmit a film, it costs $2,500.

The factors that contribute to ratings include: sexual content, violence, profanity, drug use and other material that may offend some audiences. The interesting part is that films released internationally are often re-cut for each country or cultural area. Sexual content in America generally pushes the rating up while the same content in France and Germany is more socially acceptable and does not necessarily increase the rating there. On the other hand, extremely violent films may be re-cut and toned down for those same markets where intense violence is less acceptable to ensure a lower rating.

The ratings board is made up of 9 people (mostly men), ranging in age from 44 to 61. More recently, the board has been accused of “ratings creep” — the idea that movie ratings are becoming more lenient over time. A Clockwork Orange originally received an X rating in 1971, reserved for films that are recommended for adults over the age of 18. But the X rating is not part of the MPAA rating system that we know today. A Clockwork Orange was later given an R rating, which suggests that viewers under the age of 17 by accompanied by an adult. Clearly, it got a much lower rating the second time around.

The marketing of “unrated” films suggests they are similar to old X rated films. If you want to see an unrated film, check out some recent releases: The Hangover, Get Him to the Greek and Hot Tub Time Machine.

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Sources: Filmbug, FilmRatings.com, Wikipedia (MPAA, MPAA rating system)

October 8, 2010 at 4:00 am 3 comments

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