Simplicity, Simplicity, Etc.

So the other day that crazy Wee was talking about her artistic adventures in black and white, and how it's really much more difficult than using color, because - as I understood it, anyway - there's less to work with, less to hide behind.

I just wanted to say that I bet she's right.

My recent experiences making those little movies, and with the commercials too, have reminded me just how many tricks are up your sleeve when your medium is moving images.

I mean... okay. In the TV commercials we did, there's a dream sequence, where the main character reflects back on an experience. In the script, I wrote this as something like "MUSIC: Full up / VIDEO: Dreamlike imagery" and just left it to the director and editor to figure out how to pull it off.

And there are at least a half-dozen ways to do it. We ended up using slow motion, exaggerated zooms in and out of the dream, blurry transitions, vignetted edges around the image, audio treatment on the dialogue so it sounded more distant, and a slight color shift.

Now if you want your character in a story - a regular old, plain-text story - to enter a dream state, what can you do? You've got to accomplish all that in black and white.

I'm not saying it can't be done; it happens all the time. But man... what a feat! When an author pulls you into a moment in the past, or an imaginary scenario, and you understand what's happening fully and go along with it completely, without slo-mo, without sound, without even pictures, that's amazing to me.

Especially since some people would tell you books are the most "realistic" of the storytelling methods. Some say a book immerses you in the world of the characters more effectively than a movie, or a radio play, or whatever.

I guess it's a matter of leaving more to the reader's imagination. A writer has to trust that the reader's imagination will do a better job of filling in the details than he could, even with a whole army of set designers and audio engineers.

Sometimes, in fact, I feel kind of sneaky for even being able to include those things. Adding a slight glow to a shot of kids swinging on monkeybars seems kinda manipulative, somehow... like I'm laying it all out too neatly... telling the viewer to smile instead of just suggesting it.

I don't know though... I'm kind of weird. Heck, sometimes I feel like it's cheating to even use italics. Shouldn't I be able to make my point without fancy typesetting?

I don't know. Maybe someday we'll be able to download scenarios and impressions directly into people's heads, and bombard them with precisely the thoughts we want to convey. Maybe we'll digitize emotion, and learn to flip each neurotransmitter on or off in perfect sequence, evoking the prescribed response in minimal time. Maybe our primitive methods of storytelling will one day seem as feeble as drawing on a cave wall with a burnt stick.

I do know this: when that day comes I'll be holed up in a bunker somewhere, barricading the entry hatch and clutching my paperbacks tightly.


Anonymous said...

Crazy? Crazy!!!! Now I'm crazy? Gotta say i liked 'incandescent' better. :D

Anonymous said...

yeah. It's like when you see a movie of a bookie you cherished and it's all fab and stuff, but it's not as good as YOUR version and so ultimately, it's just disappointing. But really, nothing can every be as good as you imagined it to be. except maybe Lopie.

And yes, I think your reliance on fancy typesetting is absolutely cringe-worthy, Colin! :D (just kidding!)

xo Wee

Anonymous said...

Arrrgh! I can't believe i just typed in the word "bookie"! what? Am I six? A gambling addicted mobster? Eeek. I swear, that was totally unintended. Maybe I am crazy after all...

xo Wee

Anonymous said...

And also, I want a Lopie designed T-shirt that says "I'm catchy like pinkeye." I'd pay big bucks for that!

Colin said...

I meant crazy in a *good* way... like, "Man, I need to slow down -- these chips and salsa are CRAZY!"

Like that.

Ooh, did you see that? There I went again with the typesetting. All caps, asterisks... I'm shameless.