Should Photoshop be illegal?

In recent years there has been a lot of controversy around the use of digital enhancement software: The main issue of debate tends to focus on the fashion industry, as it is argued that magazines and editorial shoots gives young people an unrealistic and, in many cases, dangerous expectation of how their bodies should look. But it does raise an important question, as to when – and if ever – digital enhancement is necessary.

Why use it?

For most people in the creative industries, photo-manipulation is a basic tool in every trade. You can use it to make photos stand out more by making certain colours pop while other colours are muted; It allows you to ‘revamp’ images over the years to keep up with the changing industries; it also allows you to perfect every image that you take by allowing you to remove blemishes, straighten out lines, level the contrast and so on. The possibilities really are rather limitless as you can essentially make any image you have into a completely new and maybe even completely different picture. Furthermore, photo-manipulation is not an easy task: Besides from needing a very steady hand and a keen eye for detail, you also need heaps of patience to be able to sit and stare at the same pixel images for many hours at a time while you work on a particular project. This means that the more you practice, the better you get, and if you are someone who wants to work in a creative industry, these skills are invaluable.

Does it really show skill?

On one hand, it does take a certain level of skill to manipulate a photo: Even if you are simply adjusting the colour ratios of a photo, you must still have at least a basic understanding of the software as well as an understanding of photo composition. However to some extent, it almost doesn’t matter if the photo you have taken is completely pants if you have the knowledge to manipulate the original into something artistic. On the other hand, can you still deem yourself an ‘artist’ or a ‘photographer’ if you need to rely on software to make your photo great?

Does it create false expectations?

One of the universal truths of modern day society is that when you compare yourself to other people, you are undoubtedly going to become sad and disappointed with what you have in life. This is made worse when the pictures you are looking at are not the entire truth of that person’s life, nor is it an accurate representation of society as a whole: As beautiful as celebrities can be and as flawless as the Victoria Secret models are, the majority of photos taken of them are then manipulated to look more appealing than they are. The time old story of ‘sex sells’ means that we are more likely to pay attention to a beautiful body than we are to the sight of your average person, even though the average person is an attainable role model to have. In recent years, fashion companies such as Dior have even banned super skinny models in their cat walks, so why are we not banning them in photographs?

The dangers?

To begin with, super skinny models only add to the stereotype that in order to be considered ‘beautiful’ you have to weigh as little as possible. This is not only bad for society, where the percentage of people with eating disorders is gradually rising every year, but it is also bad for the industries that condone them, as it almost suggest that they care about making money more than they care about the people who sell their clothes for them. It also portrays an image that the people in modelling campaigns are the ‘normal’ people of society, and it is everyone else who looks bizarre, when it reality it is the opposite way around. But not only do these people already have incredible bodies (simply because they work out, eat healthy and, mostly, because it is literally their job to look stunning) but then editors set to work to exaggerate the images more: legs get longer, skin gets smoother, lips become fuller, muscles get more defined, until we see an image that is not only a poor representation of society, but a bad representation of that model as a person, as though the hours they have spent in the gym and all that clean eating was pointless because a piece of software s what makes them look flawless in the end.

The upside?

Photo manipulation can be hours upon hours of fun and since the software is still surprisingly new, it is very hard to become a master of it. The software is constantly developing and improving and as such so are the skills that come along with it. It also is now becoming a sought after skill in the creative industry, with more and more employers wanting at least a basic understanding of photo manipulation software. It stands to reason that there is a clear need for it in society otherwise why such a high demand for the skill within the workforce? It could even be argued that photo manipulation is an art form in its own right, as it combines many different disciplines, while still requiring an in-depth knowledge of them all in order to create an image that is new and striking.

So what do you think? Is it really necessary in an artistic world, or is it doing more damage then it’s worth? Let me know 🙂

T xx

 

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Annabelle Creation

I am a massive pansy when it comes to horror films, so anything even remotely creepy and I’ll probably have nightmares for weeks. So a few weeks ago, I was dumb enough to watch Annabelle. The film about the possessed doll and the many creepy things that happen while she is in the house. I have never watched any of the other Conjuring universe films so came to the film knowing very little about it, except for one thing: I HATE dolls…like seriously hate them. The only reason I watched this film is because I really hoped it would be bad. Like Chuckie. So bad that it is almost great.

I have never been so wrong in my life. 

The first film was pretty good: Good story, decent acting, just the right amount of suspense, and the horror was actually really good. I won’t give away too much information but if you want to watch a decent horror movie then definitely watch this one.

This weekend I agreed to go and see the sequel (which is actually a prequel?), Annebelle Creation, mainly because it was a pretty hectic week and mostly because we had free cinema tickets to use before September. BIG MISTAKE. I have barely slept for two days because of the horrible horror that I saw in this film.

The actors themselves

Now anyone who knows me knows that I’m not all that fond of kids…they creep me out. Mostly because everyone knows that if you want to make a horror movie you have at least two scenes with creepy kids singing a creepy nursery rhyme and there you have it: Horror movie. Horror aspect aside the kids were all pretty decent little actors…you genuinely believed that these were the types of kids who would end up in this situation. There was very little ‘hamming up’ that you normally see when children are on the big screen and so it all felt all too real. Which is apparently a good thing for a horror movie, but a horrid thing for scardey cat me.

The scares

Yes there were a few jumpscares, but I literally mean only a few. The worst parts of the film were the suspenseful pauses, where you would witness something horrible and then it would just fade into darkness. The other plus is that you very rarely saw the bad guy (the devil/monster/demony creature) and when you did it was only ever in the very corner of the screen or looking at it from behind, in the darkness, where you aren’t always certain what you are seeing. For me, that is what makes a good horror movie: Never reveal the monster, because 9 times out of 10 we can all tell it’s just a guy in a mask, or (most commonly) new CGI footage. By revealing the monster, all that happens is we realise that it is all fake. BUT…have multiple shots of scared looking kids, creepy little girls walking around at night with glowing eyes, and you are pretty much guaranteed a sleepless night.

Overall story

I enjoyed the story and the film did a great job of tying in the events of this film with the events that followed in the first (confusing, I know!). It explained how everything really came about, how Annabelle became Annabelle, the demon doll, and how the couple from the first film managed to get caught up in all of the horrible history. It also helped to explain more of the backstory as to why there was a possessed doll in the first place. And never underestimate the sheer terror of a close up shot of an unblinking, un-moving doll face with no noise in the back ground but for footsteps or breathing: In horror films, less really is more.

The film also helped to tie together the Conjuring universe in little Easter eggs. Having never seen the other films, I probably missed a lot of them. But they do mention the Nun from the Conjuring universe and that alone was enough to make me not want to watch the anticipated solo movie of the (ironic) demonic woman of God. Fans of the film would probably notice way more little nods to the original films and that is always a nice little touch to any film franchise, regardless of genre.

Bad points?

For me, it was exhausting dealing with the amount of suspenseful silences that filled this film. I was emotionally drained by about half way through! While I appreciate that all of them did add to the plot and did make the film that bit more realistic, I got really bored of this demon doll essentially screwing over a bunch of orphaned girls and a nun. A few of the scenes could have been shorter/not there at all and I don’t think this would have dramatically changed the film.

As with all prequels, you kind of know who is going to survive and who is going to die: You know from the outset that the doll is going to remain undamaged throughout this film, otherwise how did it turn up in the first one in such pristine condition. It also meant that you couldn’t get overly attached to the characters when you knew that at least the majority of them must have died in order for the doll to be so evil: If the doll did nothing but annoy and scare a few kids, why did it suddenly go on a killing spree in the first one? The doll wouldn’t be evil, just annoying.

That being said, it all hit the fan REALLY quick: One minute, they try to throw a doll down a well for sneaking into someones bed, and the next two people have been dismembered and are hanging up like Christmas lights around the house. It seems the monster went from mildly irritating to full-blown psychotic in less than 2 minutes, and while that was good to get things going, it probably didn’t have to take so long getting to that point to begin with. The scenes of screaming and running away were just as terrifying as the scenes of absolute silence and still frames, so maybe having a different pace would have belted this film up a notch.

Final thoughts?

I hate dolls. And no…I’m not including pictures because quite frankly I don’t want to relive the horror anymore than I already have. But the film is actually really good: Good horror, good logical story and a decent way to tie all the films together. Definitely go and watch this if you get the chance and definitely be prepared for a few sleepless nights as a result!

Have you guys seen it? Let me know what your thoughts were down below 🙂

T xx

Most expensive Star Wars toys

No one can deny that Star Wars is an insanely popular and well-loved franchise. The films have become a stable part of 20th Century cinema and even if you have never watched one of the films, the characters and universes are iconic: EVERYONE has made a ‘I am your father’ joke, as well as encouraged their friends to ‘trust the force’. It is also no surprise that the toys are highly sought after, and for a bit of ease of reference, here is a list of some of the most expensive Star Wars items ever created.

Rocket firing Boba Fett

Unsurprisingly, there are at least three Star Wars toys that are worth a stupid amount of money. The Rocket Firing Boba Fett toy released in 1980 currently sells for around £5,000. The toy was originally sold with a gun that shot out a small plastic rocket, but was quickly recalled when parents started to complain that this could injure their children. The toy was re-released without a firing gun, so naturally the original and almost ‘dangerous’ version is highly sought after by collectors and fans alike.

star-wars-rocket-firing-boba-fett-action-figure

LEGO Ultimate Collector’s edition Millennium Falcon

Now yes, LEGO have since made roughly 3 other versions of the Millennium Falcon, but the most sought after is the original: Made in 2007 this model consisted of roughly 5195 pieces and was the first ship to be made on ‘mini-figure scale’. Currently selling online for around £3,200.00 it is clearly even more sought after now that it is no longer being made.Image result for lego r2d2Oddly enough, any large scale LEGO Star Wars set is going to be worth big bucks after being discontinued: The large scale R2 D2 model originally sold for around £140 in stores, but now that it has been discontinued for nearly 2 years, it is worth around £450…and that’s out of box and made! Completely sealed packet, that has never before touched bricks, could sell for as much as £800.

Telescopic lightsaber Darth Vader

As with almost all toys, the first run of this toy in 1978 was recalled because the lightsaber could extend and potentially injure the children playing with it. The toy was re-released sans extending lightsaber but it happened so quickly that there are only about 200 versions of the original in existence. Selling for around £6000.00, it is one of the most sought after Star Wars toys going.

Darth Vader war helmet

Ok so technically this is not a ‘toy’ so to speak but rather the actual helmet that Darth vader’s main stunt double wore during filming for ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. This is therefore more of an original film prop, which somewhat explains the £115,000.00 price tag on it currently.

real darth vader

What other Star Wars toys have you guys heard of? Or…which Star Wars toys that you currently own do you reckon will be worth big bucks in a few years time?

T xx

 

Until Dawn: Review

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: This game is currently free to download of the PSNetwork!

This weekend I spent most of my Friday night doing what any respectable 24 year old should be doing…playing a horror video game. I would like to say that I only did the game in sporadic play-throughs but no…I finished the game in maybe two nights. The first night, I had only just started, the story hadn’t begun to ramp up yet and I was tired. But the second night, I could NOT put the controller down. I needed to see how it ended and how I did overall.

General synopsis

Until Dawn is a 2014 horror game that tells the story of a group of teenagers. The story begins with them all playing a prank on one of the girls, who in her humiliation runs out onto the mountain, in the middle of winter and ends up getting lost. Her sister goes looking for her, only for them to fall down the mountain to their deaths. Fast forward a year, and the same group of friends are back at the mountain to pay their respects and honouring their friends’ memories. The characters are all varying degrees of generic teenagers: there’s a lot of angst, lots of unrequited love, lots of love triangles and therefore lots of drama BESIDES impending death and destruction. This game gives you the chance to play as every character, each taking their turn to play out the story as it is happening.

The Butterfly Affect aspect

The Butterfly Effect is the idea that one little decision or action can drastically alter the future: A flutter of a butterfly’s wings could cause a horrific storm 300 miles away. While it is far-fetched to think about it is still a really interesting idea, that all of our actions and our choices shape how our life turns out: One little chance meeting with someone on a train could mean you meet the love of your life, or being a few minutes late in the morning meant you never met that person to begin with. Until Dawn made it a bit more serious than that, making it very much a life or death situation, and the fact that the choices are timed forces you to make split second decisions that can alter the course of events following it. In the case of Until Dawn, this can determine whether or not the character you are playing as lives or dies.

Image result for until dawn gifs

Game play itself

The game is similar to a telltale series game: Lots of cut scenes, lots of time to investigate places, quick time events and of course, timed choices. I am absolutely not a good person when it comes to shooting games, because try a I might I can not aim to save my life. These types of games suit me better: They feel like I’m watching a movie that I get to interact with, rather than having to try and beat countless enemies and complete quests. The story is awesome, as it keeps you really invested in what is happening: The only reason I stayed up for so long was because I needed to find out what would happen next.

The horror

This game is indeed a horror game though. It has jump scares galore, monsters that are scary as all hell and some genuinely tense moments: One of the scariest tasks is having to remain absolutely still (The PS4 controller has a motion sensor in it!) when a huge, screaming monster is circling you. The scares are also relatively clever, and are only used when really needed to progress the story forward. While some scares are very early on and are usually anti-climactic, it all helps to create that feeling of ‘horror’ within this game: What the characters go through, you go through as the player.

Image result for until dawn gifsJust one of the horrible deaths that can occur through bad decision making

The characters

Most importantly though, the characters are multi-dimensional: One of my favourite characters actually came across as the biggest jerk in the beginning, but as the game progresses and you start to see the consequences of your actions, the characters become far more important to you…some can even become LESS important to you when you see how they react to little choices you make. This game gets you invested from the get-go and I think that is what’s so enjoyable about it. Each character has their own set of personality traits, and you can also keep track on how every character views each other: Who is mad at who, who is fond of who, and who is most likely to leave you for dead just because you chose a seemingly small option. The characters are also surprisingly vast in personalities and it is nice to see them change throughout the course of the game.

Image result for until dawn gifsSam (played by Hayden Panettiere) and Josh (played by Rami Malek)

Overall?

Well worth a play! The game itself may not be an overly long game, but with the amount of stress you go through you’ll probably be thankful for it! It is a very fun game either way, and the fact that every decision leads to a different series of events, the ending can be different each time you play it. It’s fun just to see how each decision can change things and, more importantly, which decisions ultimately do nothing even though it seems like a super hard choice.

Have any of you guys played it? Let me know below your views on the game 🙂

T xx