Embrace the Improv Mantra for a Better World

The best improvisation (improv) actors and actresses, like Canadian Mike Myers, but especially those in theater games, will tell you that it’s simple in a philosophical sense. You only had one rule and that rule was also the key to success.

You can’t deny another person’s reality, you can only build on it.

Mike Myers

Mike Myers

That is, whatever someone said or did, you have to accept it and build on it, not contradict it because it stops everything in its tracks. However, I would be willing to bet main reason most people have trouble doing improv is that it’s more natural for them to contradict than to accept. Most times we don’t get something, we stop to clarify if we say anything at all. Most times we don’t agree, we stop to assert ourselves if we say anything at all, which you have to in improv to avoid one person dominating the act. It’s just hard for a lot of us to obey that rule because contradiction is done so commonly these days that it is second nature to us, if not always but maybe not ever to the same extent today given people are given voice on so many medium. You have to act to act right, basically, and that acting to be something rather than believing it it so you do it second nature will give you away as a fraud or bad actor to an audience.

Not being well versed in improv theatre, when I heard Mike Mayers say the improv mantra on the Bravo channel a few Sundays ago during an episode of Inside the Actor’s Studio, I was blown away and thought wouldn’t that be a nice thing to embrace more often?

I didn’t think it was something to do all the time like the mantra. I love debate, but I also believe in giving things a chance and opening one’s mind, and this definitely allows that if I only would embrace it more often… as well as others around me.

Emily Levine

Emily Levine

Coincidentally, four days later, on TED.com, my favourite learning source these days, the video below was put up. It was of humorist, writer and trickster Emily Levine talking about a lot of things in her Theory of Everything, “intelligent comedy” format style. In this superbly philosophical and hilarious talk, she philosophized a thought similar to mine of said improv mantra being a great ethic for a society.

How these things played into my mind, I don’t know, but last week, I came up with the idea to try acting classes as my new thing to try this year. I looked up local acting classes and found one, Intro to Theatre Acting, which is improv style stuff, not scripted acting like on film.  Fortunately for me, it started yesterday so I didn’t have to wait long to get into things before my enthusiasm might have faded.

Then I came home and saw that WordPress.com came out with a great announcement of how to embed TED videos into your post easily. Thanks, WordPress folks, and keep up the phenomenal work! This TED news to WP was the trifecta of the perfect storm for me to create this post and share this very thought provoking and gut choking talk so I hope you will have a look, listen and enjoy.

Be warned, though! I’ve told you. This is intelligent humour! If you don’t think it’s funny, either check your intelligence, anatomy for a humour bone or both!

Check the TED.com category on my blog for other posts where I’ve shared my favourite TED videos with some blog material. Otherwise, see my full collection of TED videos I liked enough to share on my Vodspot vlog. Or just see what I’ve viewed recently (and others through this blog) via the Vodspot plugin WordPress allows at right.

Can you tell I LOVE TED? 🙂

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SHOULD TRY Facebook Picture Tagging Meme

Contrary to the slightly nasty Facebook picture tagging meme of people who Should NOT do certain things given on Friday the 13th, this is a positive one to encourage people to try certain things as you think they should. The next one should be pretty fun!

Here’s how to get this graphic for your Facebook fun:

  • Click on the picture below to get it at full size.
  • Right click on that picture and save to your computer.
  • Upload it to your Facebook profile.
  • Tag your friends!
  • Click the Back button on your browser to return to this post.

Please click here for a complete list of over 100 Facebook picture tagging memes on this site with which you can use for fun with your friends.

In case you don’t recognize some of these people, they are as follows, left to right:

  • Top: LeBron James, Christie Brinkley, the current Dalai Lama, Emily Dickinson, Tiger Woods
  • Middle: Wangari Matthai, Pope Benedict the whatever, Canadian flag maple leaf, Barack Obama, Miley Cyrus
  • Bottom: Bill Gates, Arianna Huffington, Brad Pitt, Rihana, Lang Lang

I’m too tired to put links to all these people but you can Google them, and maybe guess why I’ve put labeled each as such.

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Tabloid Style Photos of Brad Pitt Filming Benjamin Button

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Brad Pitt at the spa getting a facial. JUST KIDDING! Though they reminded me of stuff stars don't want to get out in the media. Brad was testing out facial expressions, covered with phosphorescence for the camera to capture just the important parts accurately for the entire face. The computer then mapped his expressions on to another face to transfer his input into an older character's facial expressions.

Brad Pitt at the spa getting a facial. JUST KIDDING! Though they reminded me of stuff stars don

In the newly released (Feb 23) 18 minute video below, Ed Ulbrich demonstrates the technology of his Digital Domain team which allowed Brad Pitt to act out Benjamin Button‘s face throughout the movie, at all ages of Benjamin’s life. That way, all of Brad’s nuances and unique acting skills were able to be applied to the character throughout the movie, not just the part where the character resembled Brad and he could play him. It was almost like unspecial effects, if common effects did not convey something far less worthy, where the special effects were meant to be as unnoticeable as possible.

The video is far better than I can explain it. However, I’ve given you some interesting, albeit less than flattering photos of Brad at his work, with brief descriptions of their roles in the process. The photos were screen captured and compiled from the video to give you something to hang on to, put on your blog or whatever. Video is not the same as photos and these leave a few lasting memories of Brad Pitt like you’ve not likely seen him, like him at 80 years old below.

On the inspiring side of the talk, and as a mind blowing subplot, is the courage Ed’s team had to walk away from the state of the art technology of the day to come up with this technology since the best wasn’t nearly good enough. You’ll see in the video why it really wasn’t really nearly good enough.

The courage and ingenous outcome to “stew-pot” existing technologies as a foundation on which to build the new technology was what got Ed (for his team) the invite to the Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) conference where he gave this talk.

High-powered as TED may be, though, the talk was easily understandable, enjoyable and jaw-dropping, as one category for ranking TED.com videos went.

Enjoy!

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 10.0

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Brad Pitt being filmed from four angles to make sure the right shot was captured. The phosphorescence on his face does not show on this regular film.

Brad Pitt being filmed from four angles to make sure the right shot was captured. The phosphorescence on his face does not show on this regular film.

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Brad Pitt's Projected Look at 80, from which they created Benjamin Button's 80 year old looks onto which to project Brad's expressions above.

Brad Pitt's projected look at the age of 80, from which they created Benjamin Button's 80 year old looks onto which to project Brad's expressions above. They use this sort of technology to predict what criminals would look like years later, and you can see it on shows like Cold Case Files.

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Brad Pitt's phospherence image to the computer is at left. A starting head model for movement purposes is in the centre. The aged version based on Brad's older projected look is at right. The fine details are left out to get all the movements right first.

Brad Pitt's phospherence image to the computer is at left. A starting head model for movement purposes is in the centre. The aged version based on Brad's older projected look is at right. The fine details are left out to get all the movements right first.

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Brad Pitt's expressions mapped to Benjamin Button's face. This shows how as Brad moves, the computer face also moves.

Out of the darkness and computer simulation environment, with some basic facial details added, a basic Benjamin Button comes alive simultaneously with Brad's acting.

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1. An actor plays a body double, with a blue hood to take out the head for computer substitution.  2. A "dead head" computer model is put in to simulate movement.  3. Brad then acts in the facial details.  4. Lighting, hairs, eyes, tongue and such facial details are added for the finished movie version.

1. An actor plays a body double, with a blue hood to take out the head for computer substitution. 2. A "dead head" computer model is put in to simulate movement. 3. Brad then acts in the facial details. 4. Lighting, hairs, eyes, tongue and such facial details are added for the finished movie version.

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Wait. Speaking of tongue, this is a model of Brad Pitt's mouth and tongue model, worked on by a guy to get it right for 9 months! I heard he was pretty popular! Probably not sexy in this context, but just use your imagination and think what Angelina Jolie's been getting! ;-)

Wait. Speaking of tongue, this is a model of Brad Pitt's mouth and tongue model, worked on by a guy to get it right for 9 months! I heard he was pretty popular! Probably not sexy in this context, but just use your imagination! 😉

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Ed Ulbrich: How Benjamin Button Got His Face

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