All posts by bjfranceschelli

Analog Television Set

Television: Past, Present, and Future by Brian Francesschelli (Word Count: 761)

"A Picture is worth ten thousand words - Chinese Proverb" (A History) 
If this is true, then a television contains more words than every book combined...
I wonder if it's worth it...

A Brief History of Television

Initially discovered by accident, the transmission and receiving of pictures – the basic idea behind televisions, was something that took years to develop. Different technological mediums were experimented with for both the capturing of an image and transmitting it, and the receiving and display of that image. After a multitude of experiments, the cathode ray tube was chosen for its abilities on both ends of the transmission (A History). Experimentation with television in the United States began in earnest in the 1920s as several inventors struggled with a variety of cathode ray tube designs to find a product with commercial possibilities. Radio Corporation of America (RCA) premiered its electronic television set to the public at the 1939 New York World’s Fair (Currents in Communications, Chapter 12). Other notable achievements in the history of television were the development of a remote, giving the viewer to change the channel and volume of a television set from afar (remotes like the “Space Command” raised the prices of TV sets, but were hugely successful in the market and later became standard), and the introduction of the VCR, which allowed viewers to record broadcasts to watch at their own leisure (The Future of Television, 20). Driven into popularity through technological advances, television finally hit big in the 1950s, and ever since television has been the dominant form of mass media not only in the U.S., but across the globe.

Used for its popularity across the country, Television became a successful medium for broadcasting a wide spectrum of news, political communications, and entertainment. “The first efforts at regular news broadcasts consisted primarily of men sitting at a desk on camera and reading from a wire service. However, when television started delivering news as a live event, it demonstrated that television news could have a significant, even decisive, political impact.” “News is only one small part of the mix on content found on television, which is primarily a medium for entertainment. The early entertainment shows on television were often based on popular radio dramas.” “Seeking to build large audiences, television producers tried to ride the coattails of popular shows by creating similar ones. Ratings mattered more than quality.” When cable television came about, the number of stations exploded, and networks rushed to provide content for every station, leading to popular stations about food, home improvement, cars, and sports. Stations like these are still pervasive in our culture and in the content that television networks provide for us everyday. Stations like ESPN, an all sports station, and MTV, a station dedicated to airing music videos, became largely popular. (Currents in Communications, Chapter 12)

Television Today

Today, there are other, new, types of television shows that have become popular. Contest shows, like American Idol, and Reality television, like The Bachelor and Survivor have more recently become popular. “The defining characteristic of RTV [Reality Television] is that ordinary people (not professional actors) serve as the main characters” (We’re All Stars, 108). With the growing popularity of these types of shows, a similar event is occurring now as happened to popular radio dramas; there are more and more spinoffs, variations, and similar shows coming to television networks as they seek to gain ratings and increase their profits through increasingly larger audiences.

The Future of Television

“Television in recent months is going through a major transformation where people are watching shows whenever and wherever they choose. Popular series quickly are available on DVDs. They are also available through services like Netflix and on-demand services from cable companies. Finally, Internet-based services like Hulu let people watch television on computers, laptops, tablets, and even smartphones, making television totally mobile by allowing people to watch their favorite shows whenever and wherever they want. Viewers do not even need a TV set” (Currents in Communications, Chapter 12).

Just like radio was changed by the introduction of Internet Radio companies like Pandora or Spotify, television is being changed by the growing popularity of internet television networks and companies like Netflix and Hulu. In the end, the convergence of the Internet and Television is imminent and can come in many forms, from using your TV to browse the internet, to using the internet to watch TV. (Internet Television) In the Web 2.0 era, as well as in the next few decades, television will progress to a format where it will be more customizable, more interactive, and more accessible than ever before.

The Invisible Internet: Caulfield Lecture 2015 by Brian Franceschelli

I thought it was interesting how Ms. Swisher spoke about the way that many of us view the internet today. She mentioned that we talk a lot, too much in her opinion, about the internet as a technology. She gave the example of the power grid, and how when she used her hair dryer, she didn’t think of the power grid, rather, she understood what it did for her. Following this example, it is a rare viewpoint these days to view the internet as something that does something for us. Until that happens, where we view the internet as doing something for us, where we see it in the background, like the power grid, the internet is not invisible.

Her talk following this introduction heavily referenced the new and upcoming technology market of “wearables,” technology that we will, in the near future, integrate into our clothing, our bodies, and most importantly, our lives. The most well-known example of this young era of technology are smart watches. These fascinating pieces of technology, currently produced by corporations like Samsung, Apple, Motorola, and a litany of smaller companies, are the first highly successful wearables to hit the market. They are also the first step towards a more invisible internet. Not to sound like someone who has been caught up in some romanticized conspiracy theory, but as we integrate new and future wearables into our lives, our technology will become more interconnected. It will know more about our lives than many people realize, and consequently, they will become much, much harder to turn off, to “un-plug” from, to really truly go “technology free”. In the near future, it will become very hard to be a Luddite in society. Eventually, over the course of a few decades, the internet will fade into the background, like the technological achievements of the power grid before it. After the internet has become invisible, I believe that we will find ourselves in a world more interconnected, more technologically “jacked-in” than ever before.

"Memes"

Memes – By Brian Franceschelli and James Nemia

Meme – a cultural item in the form of an image, video, phrase, etc., that is spread via the Internet and often altered in a creative or humorous way.
(According to dictionary.reference.com)

Memes have been around for over 25 years, but have only recently become a hot trend on the Internet. Richard Dawkins from the University of Oxford created the term in his book about human evolution and how fast things travel from person to person. (Blackmore) Memes have in fact been around longer than the Internet through forms like chain mail. The importance of Web 2.0 in the evolution of memes on the internet is that now, people with little to no computer knowledge are able to create these memes. There is nothing stopping the average person from trying to create a famous meme on the internet. (Currents in Communication)
Some examples of famous memes range from humorous interpretations of people reactions like Nicholas Cage (see “You Don’t Say?” meme) and Neil deGrasse Tyson (see “Watch out” meme), to captions on photos, to drawings in self-made comedy strips (see “Trollface” and “Forever Alone” memes). Memes like these became popular because of their use on the internet, and their application as a humorous reaction to many different scenarios that appear on social media like Tumblr or Facebook, as well as meme sites like Cheezburger.

The biggest thing that a meme needs to become famous and very popular is humor. All of the memes that I have seen are humorous, and that is why they get shared from person to person. In my attempts to create a famous meme, I took one of the most known pictures for memes and put a caption on it that I thought was funny. After posting it to Facebook, it did not receive the fame that I was hoping for. After an astounding zero likes on the picture, I realized that it isn’t as easy as it looks to create a meme that rapidly spreads around the internet. (Nemia)

When I attempted to create a meme, in the form of a humorous vine, I drew my inspiration from memes based on the crime drama “CSI: Miami”, wherein puns are mixed with one of the main characters, Horatio Cain’s, signature action of putting his sunglasses on while saying a witty line (see examples here and here). Not one to post on social media or make vines for that matter, it came as no surprise to me that the combined number of likes that I received on my meme from both Twitter and Vine could be counted on one hand. (Franceschelli)

The American Film Industry edited by Tino Balio

Book Report: The American Film Industry edited by Tino Balio, reviewed by Brian Franceschelli

“Although the attempt to represent the illusion of motion by pictures is older than civilization, the art of the motion pictures was not created until the twentieth century… The motion pictures, the newest of the arts, the only art to originate in the twentieth century, are a product of the Machine Age.” (Balio, et al. 27)

The American Film Industry begins with some background and context on the origins of the Industry, beginning all the way back at the inception of the first prototypes of what would eventually become “motion pictures” or movies, as we more commonly refer to them today. Early projectors and cameras such as The [Edison] Kinetoscope, The Lumière Cinèmatographe, as well as the Biograph and the Mutoscope, are discussed in depth, along with early forms of industry business like Vaudeville productions, road shows, and the Nickelodeon Theaters. Studios for filming early films such as Edison’s Black Maria, and the Mutoscope’s “open air” studio, are also referenced, since they played such a significant role in the production and advancement of early industry technology.

“…a myriad of technical problems were surmounted, stages soundproofed, and theaters wired. Engineers invaded studios to coordinate sight with sound…” (Balio et al. 229)

After discussing the turmoil of the patent wars, and the economic growth and battles for control of the industry, we fast forward from the early developments of the 1890’s and 1900’s, to the late days of the “Roaring 20’s”, are bestowed with an image. This time, it is not just an image, but it is an image with sound. The industry had made its final transformation, and became synonymous, at least technologically speaking, with the current industry (albeit with older technology), leaving us with modern motion pictures. Within two years of the adoption of sound by the innovators of the Industry like Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc., every company, every movie, everything produced in Hollywood, had converted to sound. Surprisingly, unlike many major moves in an industry, there were no losses of companies or corporations in the move to sound. The complete transition to sound took almost three decades, and may have taken longer had the technology not been helped along in an unusual way. As with most big discoveries, where they arise when they are least expected, connected to something that is unrelated and distant at best, the advent and integration of sound into the Film Industry was no exception. Countless innovators had tried and failed to combine sound and film into one medium since the inception of the industry. In the end, it took companies AT&T (American Telephone and Telegraph Corporation), and RCA (Radio Corporation of America) to pull it all together. While AT&T and RCA were looking to enhance their audio quality and capabilities, they perfected the equipment required for sound recording and reproduction. Realizing the capabilities and benefits of such research, two industry giants, Warner Bros. and Fox Film, took that research and adapted it for the movie industry. Initially wary of the new technology, other industry leaders eventually joined in, and after careful planning, the industry transitioned to sound, and then boomed. (Balio et. al. 229 – 251) Finally, after decades of failed attempts and enterprises, like Edison’s attempts to reconcile motion picture and sound, which he gave up on in 1914, and Léon Gaumont’s somewhat successful Chronophone, the industry had completed its final major transformation. (Clair, Gomery, Balio)

From then to now, the Industry has changed, though we haven’t seen another major change, like the transition to sound, just yet. Other advancements like Computer Generated Images (also known as CGI), or 3D movies (referring to three dimensional projections on a movie screen) have come close. Perhaps someday soon, we’ll be able to add another chapter to The American Film Industry, detailing another major change to this industry which we all enjoy.

I would recommend this book as a whole for anyone interested in the history of our American film industry, anyone taking or teaching a film class, or anyone who is curious and wants to read a complete account of the American Film Industry. Additionally, I would recommend it in portions to those interested in the technology, whether picture, sound, or film based, that gave rise to our modern film industries.

The American Film Industry is an anthology and collection of works concerning the history of film and its related technologies and industries, revised and edited into its final form by Tino Balio. The American Film Industry is copyrighted 1976 and 1985, and was published by The University of Wisconsin Press. It retails on Amazon.com for $25.84 (new, paperback), or $13.81 (used, hardcover).

Bibliography

Clair, René. “The Art of Sound.” Film Sound: Theory and Practice (1929): 92-95.
Balio, Tino, ed. The American film industry. Univ of Wisconsin Press, 1985.
Gomery, J. Douglas. “Writing the history of the American film industry: Warner Bros and sound.” Screen 17.1 (1976): 40-53.
Gomery, Douglas. “The coming of sound to the American cinema: a history of the transformation of an industry.” Business and Economic History (1979): 114-117.

My Story – Arizona Summer Service – July & August 2013

I choose to do my “My Story Project” on my summer service trip to Flagstaff, Arizona during the summer of 2013, between my junior and senior years of high school. I traveled during the last week of July and the first week of August to Flagstaff, Arizona with twenty-three of my peers and four faculty chaperones. This trip was what I consider to be one of the most important experiences in my life to date. As someone who dedicates as much of his time to service as possible, having the opportunity to travel across the country to serve others for almost two weeks was something that I could not pass up, and something that I could say with certainty, influenced me as a person.

Some of the challenges that I had with making this video was having to scavenge as many pictures together from my trip as I could (there are approximately eight hundred photos that I took myself over the course of my trip, all of them scattered across various elecronic devices and stored on a number of flash drives), as well as learning how to use Adobe Primere Pro, and getting back into the habit of using Audacity, an audio recording program that I used frequently in high school during my time as a Sound Mixer.
I think the best part of the video is the beginning with the communications between the flight I was on and the Las Vegas Air Trafic Control, mostly because I reconstructed it from memory and re-recorded it on my own.

(For those of you who are interested in learning more about my service trip, feel free to visit our trip’s blog here.)

Celebrity Research Project by Brian Franceschelli and James Nemia

In this Celebrity Research Project, we strived to learn about both the way that people interact and follow their favorite celebrities, as well as how celebrities interact with their fans and the rest of the Internet throuh media, particularly in the form of social media. In doing so, we interview four students as Loyola University Maryland about the celebrities that they followed, and we followed two celebrities to see what they posted on various social media sites (i.e. – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) over the course of the past week.

Interview #1- Beyonce

My interviewee feels a strong connection to Beyonce because she is an awesome role model for both genders, especially younger women. “I listens to her music and connects with the lyrics she hears.” The way she follows Beyonce is through Twitter and Instagram, keeping up with daily updates in her life. When I asked her if she felt she really knew Beyonce, she said, “I would say the messages behind her songs gives you insight into her character.”

Interview #2 – Leonardo DiCaprio

One student feet connected to him because he is his favorite actor. He loves the movies that he has been in. He follows him on Twitter and Instagram to constantly keep up with his life to see if there is anything new and important. When I asked him if he would say he knew Leonardo DiCaprio on a personal level, he said “I would not say that I personally know Leonardo DiCaprio, because I only know him as his characters that he acts as, not his true self.”

Interview #3 – Morgan Freeman

The third person that we interviewed had a connection to the actor Morgan Freeman. The student was drawn to Mr. Freeman because he enjoyed his movies and other works and recognized that Mr. Freeman was notable for his voice and narration (saying that it was almost like Morgan Freeman was the “voice of reason” in a few of his films) as well as for his personality. Although this student had a connection to Mr. Freeman, he did not directly follow him, as he only keeps up with what Mr. Freeman is doing through watching his films and watching the news.

Interview #4 – Kevin Hart

The fourth and final student that we interviewed had a connection to the actor and comedian Kevin Hart. This student was drawn to Mr. Hart mostly because of his humor, as the student can personally connect with Mr. Hart’s comedy style personally. The student was also drawn to Mr. Hart because of his energetic manner, realism, and his notable work ethic. As a fan of Mr. Hart’s, the student directly follows him on Instagram and Twitter. He also keeps up with Kevin Hart by watching his comedies and other works.

In addition to interviewing other students about the celebrities that they felt connected to, we also followed two celebrities over the past week, investigating the way that they interact with their fans, with others on the Internet, and with the world around them.
The first celebrity that we followed was Tom Hanks. We followed Mr. Hanks on both Facebook and Twitter, as he using both every so often to post online. We learned that Mr. Hanks’s communication strategy with his fans is different then what one might expect, as he does not post about the everyday on goings of his life. One of his posts for instance, when I looked at his profile on Monday of this week, was of a bicycle locked in a bike rack, in the middle of a pile of snow, with the words “Please let this be the last storm of the month”, and ended with the word “Hanx”, which was used as a clever interpretation on his last name and used to “sign” the post as one might sign their name at the end of a letter. Since then, Mr. Hanks has posted a number of times, though these have mainly been about gloves that were lost or discarded on, in, or around streets (presumably that Mr. Hanks was walking or traveling along).
For our other celebrity we looked at Henrik Lunqvist, the goalie for the New York Rangers. Henrik connects to his fans through various forms of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. His tweets often have to do with games that the Rangers have played. As of recent he has been tweeting updates on his health to his fans due to the fact that he received an injury recently. He also tweets about his TV show, which is another way he reaches out to his fans. He designs goalie masks that are auctioned off and the money goes to charity. Overall Henrik Lundqvist is commonly updating his fans about his life, and his charity.

Although the two celebrities that we followed for the week post on similar sites, there is one obvious way that their online presence is difference, and that is in the content that they post online (Tom Hanks posts things that go on around him, like lost gloves, and Henrik Lunqvist posts updates about his health, and his show.)
What we learned from our interviews with other students was that most people connect with a celebrity in one way or another, and that not everyone directly follows them on social media. We also learned the ways that different celebrities interact with others online in both similar and individual manners.

Dr Pepper Ten – A Diet Soda for Men

By Brian Franceschelli

A man appears on screen and asks, “Hey ladies, enjoying the film?”, and the answers his own question by adding, “Of course not.” (Dr Pepper TEN action commercial) He proceeds to speak about Dr Pepper’s new product, Dr Pepper Ten. Targeted to sell their new product to the male portion of their usual demographics, this commercial is full of masculine symbols and the like. To get their point across in a bit more blunt a fashion, ads like these contain the phrase “Not for Women”. Psychologically, all this presents the idea or concept that Dr Pepper’s new product will enhance its consumer’s masculinity, all while costing the consumer, only ten of their precious daily calories. Additionally, there was the subtle message that the men drinking this soda wouldn’t have to worry about drinking this soda (“their” soda, if Dr Pepper’s ad worked) alongside women thanks to that “not for women” line– meaning there would be no competition from women, something that subconsciously appealed to many men.
There was obviously controversy over the exclusion of women from this product’s demographic, however it is believed that this was done in order to further target the male demographic of Dr Pepper’s usual consumers. Among most American men, and among men worldwide, drinking diet soda as well as dieting, the overarching theme it associates with, has a feminine connotation. No doubt that ever since people have been eating food, people have been dieting – men and women alike. Up until recently in American culture, women were primarily the faces and obvious consumers of diets and dieting. It was something that men, especially the stereotypical “manly man” never did. They worked out, ate what they ate and it all worked out for them. In reality, men dieted, just not the way women did, and especially not with the openness that women dieted. This led to dieting being ostracized from the masculine image, making selling diet soda to men increasingly harder. Any open association to dieting was a complete turn off for men – it is simply hardwired into our psychology. A more subtle approach had to be taken, the pitch to men had to be made with a certain finesse, rather than just saying “This new soda with only ten calories is obviously a diet version of our regular soda and men should drink it.” At the same time, men can be blunt and in order to make sure that they got their point across, Dr Pepper hammered their point home with the line “It’s not for Women”. This line, in addition to the masculine themes presented in the commercial along with other themes that appeal to most stereotypical men (i.e. – action, explosions, physical fights, gun fights, car chases, etc.) sealed the deal. Finally, after showing this commercial and others like it, diet soda’s sales among men began to rise, and companies like Dr Pepper profited.
It should be noted that though the commercial stated that their product was “not for women”, there was nothing in place to stop women from consuming the product through purchase, or consumption. That phrase was used solely in an attempt to prompt men’s purchase of said product. It should also be noted that other companies have tried, and succeeded in getting men to consume their product, most notably Coca-Cola in the case of their Coke Zero product. Coke Zero is by no means the only brand to succeed – others include, but are not limited to Pepsi Max and Sprite Zero. Finally, I would like to emphasise that the aforementioned products have no corporate relation to Dr Pepper’s new Dr Pepper Ten brand, as Coke and Sprite’s parent company is Coca-Cola, Pepsi’s parent company is Pepsi-Cola, and Dr Pepper’s parent company is Dr Pepper Snapple.
(Read more about Dr Pepper’s corporate history Here.)