23
Aug
15

๐Ÿ”ด Why I feature slideshows

 

๐Ÿ”ด Why I feature slideshows

 
Technology

I’ve settled upon using slideshows as a preferred form for visual media for this blog for a couple of reasons. First, I tweet a lot. After each show, I tweet screen shots from the show, trying to capture key moments, quotes and major plot points. It’s sort of like a graphic novel or a scrapbook. So I began including a list of these tweets at the end of each annotated script. These naturally included the links to the screenshots resulting in a very klutzy way to recreate the Twitter experience. So I started looking for some more elegant way to do this and discovered YouTube has developed an app for making slideshows out of photos, turning them into you videos. It’s located here:

https://www.youtube.com/upload
 

I found these online instructions useful in using the YouTube app: http://bit.ly/1CBIYyt and http://bit.ly/1f1V7BX.

While it’s not perfect (it’s slow and has an unfortunate tendency to mix up a few of the slides with each run), having it on YouTube makes it very easy to add a slideshow anywhere on my blog. Having Twitter and YouTube store copies of my photos also means I don’t have to *pay!* WordPress to store them. So those are the technical reasons.

 
Biology โ€“ genomics, of course!

There is also a reason having to do with nature of James Spader’s acting. I wrote an article about this earlier (“Fathomless Eyes” http://wp.me/pDKwi-iP ) about his nuanced use of facial expressions, which may change very quickly, even several times a second. Some people find this an irritating affectation (“head bobbing,” one feckless critic called it). Others find it “mesmerizing” (eg @Filmya427) โ€“ I am in the latter camp. I quite literally, can’t take my eyes off his face. Especially with his close-cropped hair now, my reaction to his facial expressions reminds me of nothing as much as my fascination with the faces of my newborns. As my son cried out when first meeting his new baby sister in the hospital: “Look what she’s doing with her face! Look what she’s doing with her eyes!” Exactly, mesmerizing, fascinating.

I found a ton of research indicating that the fascination with people’s faces “afflicts” about 40% of the population, is less common in the Far East (Japan, China) and is associated having two copies of what in popular parlance is called “the love gene” which controls oxytocin receptors. (Bibliography: http://wp.me/pDKwi-hr ) Oxytocin is involved with childbirth and nursing as well as with the feeling of being in love and with sex. In men, it appears to promote monogamy! Women are often administered supplemental oxytocin during and after childbirth to promote labor, contract the uterus, and stimulate milk letdown. Administration of oxytocin has likely saved millions of women from hemorrhage and sepsis due to childbirth and contributed to the plummeting of the number of these deaths in the last century.

But oxytocin also codes for fascination with people’s faces, in particular, their eyes. Numerous experiments have shown that if you give people oxytocin, their fascination with other people’s faces increases. Some research suggests it may be useful in treating autism (noted for its lack of interest in social cues). But, as I said, about 40% of the population has the “strong” version of this gene, GG, having received one copy from each parent. One characteristic of this group is the fascination with people’s faces, and for this group, James Spader is the gift that keeps on giving. As an actor, he seems to have created and then mastered this particular form of micro-acting involving complex facial expressions.

 
Art appreciation

But, just as you can’t see a hummingbird’s wings until you use slow motion, Spader’s expressions can be fleeting โ€“ gone in an instant. The use of screenshots (or slides) allows for these small moments to be slowed to be appreciated and/or analyzed in ways not possible with video clips or even GIFs (most of which approximate real life timing). A slideshow, however, slows down the process so not only the fullness of expression but also allows the transitions to be seen. Some people will probably say this takes away from the viewing experience as it was intended to be, and the loss of sound is a shame. In fact, James Spader himself might say this, based on a friend’s account on “Jimmy’s” preferences in blues records in an article from the 1990s (Angelfire/Playboy http://bit.ly/1G5lVK7 ). That’s fine. For me slowing things down and finding hidden iconic images in the flow of motion, emotion, and expression adds to the experience. Maybe it’s a different experience altogether. And besides, I’m GG and a systems analyst (probably related) so it seems to be part of how I’m hard-wired.

In short, slide sets may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but there’re included for a reason, not just to be retro. I thoroughly love working on them. Besides, there are also tons of photos and some videos (mostly in “Clues”) on this blog plus links to the places you can watch entire episodes (look in “Black Sites”). But for those of you who just can’t take your eyes off James Spader’s face โ€“ consider checking out the slideshows. Below one I just did of the opening scenes of the pilot.

 

Blacklist 1:1 “Very Special” (7:17 mins)

 

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