Remixing Some Sci-Fi Cult Classics

SyFy Troll Quote

While I am already a bit behind and feeling some self-imposed pressure to keep working in DS106, I took on my first visual assignment. I am, after all, still trying to wrap up the school year with my own students and in a bit of a grading bottleneck. Unfortunately, my full fledged Camp Magic Macguffin experience will have to wait for a couple of weeks. Right now, the best I can do is participate as a day camper, not the overnight variety.

Nevertheless, I scanned the assignments looking for something that was a little more challenging, to gather a few stars from the start, but not so tough that I would be toiling for hours on end. If I am to gather ten stars for the week, I will likely need to bang out three to five assignments.

Still, the Troll Quotes assignment was a great chance to mess about in Photoshop a little. Photoshop is one of those applications that I always wish I was better at using than I am. I have some basic skills, but I still get plenty lost and frustrated rooting around for the tool I want and likely miss a whole lot that are not even familiar. This assignment was simple enough that I could work with what I know how to do, however.

Troll Quotes Instructions:

  1. Find an image of a well-known figure.
  2. Add a famous quote by someone related in some way to the figure in the image.
  3. Attribute the quote to a third, related figure.

I think it was the Yoda quote in the assignment example that put me on the science-fiction tip. Plus, Star Wars was a natural thread to follow. So, I did a quick search for some Star Wars quotes with the hope of finding something relatively short and difficult to pin on a single character. That criteria led me to the menacing Darth Vader comment, “I find your lack of faith disturbing.” In fact, I didn’t remember the line immediately, but then was certain it involved choking. I was right.

At that point, I was just kind of riffing off some cult classics of the genre that would potentially serve as clever combinations. At first, I was thinking of looking for an image of Han Solo, because I liked the irony of the line associated with him. Yet, I didn’t really want to stay in the Star Wars universe. Thus, the Harrison Ford connection prompted the mental jump to Blade Runner, which I considered for an image. Nothing jumped out at me instantly from my initial image search, but I have always been attracted to the use of light in that film, loving the way many shots were cast in neon ambient light.

Ultimately, I wanted something distinctive look that any sci-fi fan would instantly recognize and had the same cult appeal as Blade Runner. Firefly seemed a natural connection to cult classic, with its hardcore fans of the series still longing for its return. A quick image search for Firefly rendered my chosen still which jumped off the screen at me, Captain Mal leveling his retro gun at an off-screen target.

At that point, the combination kind of fell into place. I would use a color that evoked the Blade Runner look and feel, as a tint, and attribute the Vader quote to Deckard.

From that point, it became more about knocking the rust off my meager Photoshop skills. One of my challenges was trying find the right amount of space for natural placement of the words. Hoping to give it a more cinematic feel, I opted for a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio. This gave me some space beyond the barrel of the gun to fit in the words.

I masked a lot of the image with blackness to really bring a cool, steely focus to Captain Mal and push the already dynamic, diagonal nature of the shot. I also felt like having him sort of emerge out of the darkness added a little menace, which I felt matched the tone of the quotation.

Playing around with the arrangement of the words on some level became the thing that made me most picky. I wanted a clean, modern sans-serif font as a contrast, especially because the image does not immediately evoke the science-fiction genre, being that Captain Mal’s gun looks like a Smith & Wesson revolver from the Old West.

Then it was all about experimenting with line breaks that I thought might enhance the tone and nature of the quotation and image combination. Initially I was just thinking visually and looking for how to break the words to fit in the space, but kept feeling unsatisfied with the different ways I tried. What freed me up a little was thinking about the quotation as a poem. Once I did that, I tried to break the lines like a poem, in a way where the line breaks enhanced the quotation’s meaning, as well as the overall effect I was trying to achieve with the mixture of the elements and the piece overall. So, I was trying to take as much advantage of the form and space as I could.

Overall, I like it a lot. It was fun, and I really tried to embrace the spirit of the task which was “Pick something close enough that a non-fan might legitimately confuse.”

2 thoughts on “Remixing Some Sci-Fi Cult Classics

  1. Wow! You put a lot of thought into this and it shows! I enjoyed reading about your process, and as a Star Wars & Firefly fan, I give you many props for your choices 🙂

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