Monday, May 10, 2010

Another addition to your extra-large bookshelf

I swear Disney puts out more books than anyone. There have to be about 8 books out every year about Disney in general on top of ones tied in to recent projects.

Here's a new one for this year. The animation studio is continuing its archive series with a new book focusing on design.

I already got the previous two on story and animation which are great books to look through. The books are big, square behemoths so you can get a good look at drawings which are of the scratchy, rough pencil variety rather than slick cleanup art, which makes them more useful to study and learn from.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Objects in trailer may differ from those delivered.

How do you sell an unconventional movie?

Films come in all shapes and sizes. Ranging from assembly line, mass market pablum to wholly original works that appeal to a group so small they could have carpooled to the theatre together.

But when it comes time to sell them, all films have a trailer that does it's best to appeal to as broad of audience as possible. So how do you take a movie that doesn't fit in the standard genre boxes and sell without the time-honored technique of lying?

For starters here's one of my all time favorite films that most people have never heard of: Cradle Will Rock.

This is a pretty good trailer that sells a really good film. But what it's selling and what you end up getting are very different.

Cradle Will Rock is an odd film by conventional standards. It's an ensemble film with no real lead character and several different plot lines that intermingle and revolve around a central theme.

I think a movie like this takes a little more effort on the the part of the viewer than the average film, which would help explain why one person I showed it to was bored by everything in it except for Jack Black and asked to watch something else after only half an hour.

Even though it's the climax, the film's only partly about the play, and you never get that big crescendo moment like in the trailer. It's much more understated.

One a completely different tone: Here's a film I love even more: Paprika.

This one is sort of the soft sell. Surreal images, catchy music, critical acclaim. Maybe you want to watch and see what it's all about?

This second one takes a much more conventional approach and actually oversells it a little.

It does a great job of telling you the concept of the movie, even better the movie itself. And even though the music in the trailer is nowhere near the type used in the film it still communicates the basic feeling of things.

If I'd have seen a trailer for Paprika before seeing it, that's the one that would've sold me.

Annecy's 50th Anniversary

Anyone who says there aren't any original ideas left obviously hasn't stuck a fox and a chicken in a field inexplicably littered with champagne bottles.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Thinking way too much about e-books

I’ve been lukewarm about the whole e-book concept for a long time. On top of the hassles of a book in file form, there just a certain value in something being tangible.

Now I’m starting to realize that electronic publishing is the solution to the type of problem I assume kept Marshall McLuhan up at nights.

See... He's thinking about it.

It’s my personal belief that all media should be readily accessible. I don’t mean free per se, but capable of being acquired at a reasonable cost.

There’s an untold amount of books, movies and such that are either out of print, making them very difficult if not impossible to get, or were never released in your home country at all, making them even hard to acquire and likely not translated into a language you read.

For example one of my favorite anime franchises is Full Metal Panic. Along with three different TV series there are 2 different manga series and 3 of the original light novels released here in the west.

But at the same time, there are 7 light novels, 10 short story collections and about 20 volumes of manga that have never been released in North America; and unless they make another anime or restart the abandoned live action remake with Zac Efron probably never will.

You were my only hope.

That problem is the sort of thing e-books could fix. Without the financial and physical limitations of printed books publishers could better cater to niche audiences and release tons of previously inaccessible material.

At the same time it’s occurred to me that on top of lightening my shelves, electronic books would also kill off the used book market.

The reason I have so many books and DVDs and the like is because I buy almost everything used.

Re-selling an e-book isn’t allowed and even though $10 for an e-book is much cheaper than a new printed one, it’s still far more than the $4-5 I’ll spend at a used bookstore or Amazon marketplace.

So the difference is between greater access top media and less freedom to use it.

The only questions are where the balance is and whether the trade off is worth it.