Every year in the lush forests of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, mating fireflies put on a spectacular display. After the summer sky dims, the bioluminescent beetles flash greenish yellow light and then pause in striking unison.
Most fireflies generate pulses of light from their abdomens in patterns unique to their species. Among other functions, explains Marc Branham for Scientific American, the bioluminescence serves as a mating signal that helps male and female bugs of the same species recognize each other.
Produced by New York-based company Gorgeous Entertainment, the series is aimed at enhancing the understanding and appreciation of the Japanese art of anime. At each screening, audience members are given study guides containing essays by eminent scholars of Japanese pop culture and animation, which are supplemented by numerous images from the film.
Major support for the series is provided by the Japan External Trade Organization. Arrangements for the screening are also made possible by Central Park Media, the U.S.-based distributor for the film.
The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, located at 1050 Independence Avenue S.W., and the adjacent Freer Gallery of Art, located at 12th Street and Independence Avenue S.W., are on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day, except Dec. 25, and admission is free. The galleries are located near the Smithsonian Metrorail station on the National Mall. For more information about the Freer and Sackler galleries, the public is welcome to visit www.asia.si.edu. For general Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000.
Grave of the Fireflies (1988) is the Japanese animated film directed by Isao Takahata, and it is a vivid example of the Japanese anime on the topic of the war. The young boy Seita and his younger sister Setsuko are the main characters who are depicted living in Japan during World War II.
Thus, the main topics discussed in the anime are the war, firebombing, individual sufferings, struggle, and death; and the director achieves the necessary dramatic effect with the focus on such symbolic images and icons as fireflies and the tin of fruit drops.
Thus, manipulating the topic of the war and representing its dramatic consequences in the anime, the authors of the film choose to present the problem with the help of using the flexible and creative techniques of anime where it is possible to accentuate the necessary images and to emphasize the important symbols with the vivid graphics.
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The choice to shoot at night was made to focus the film on the population that inhabits the park and is not part of this ideal of progress. A population that has always remained marginalized and that has its refuge at night.
Homeless people, initiated in candomblé and cruising participants are the fireflies that shine in the dark of the Aterro. These characters, who despite being in the shadow of the modernist ideal that conceived and built the park, make this space a place for experiencing other forms of sociability, struggle and pleasure.
However, what stimulated me the most from a cinematic point of view is the artificial character of the park. It was created by grounding the waters of Guanabara Bay with the land of a gigantic hill, within an equally monumental ideal of progress. This gives us enormous artistic freedom. If everything in that space was idealized, the film can also start from that premise and create another space for itself. A space that only exists through cinema. Vagalumes narrates an evening stroll which begins with a sci-fi atmosphere and builds a sensory experience among plants, people, animals and architecture that ends with the entire park cumming.
Version 4 is the video AND film restoration tool I have been waiting for ever since I had my old 8 mm movies scanned 10 years ago. Simply incredible results from such an affordable tool. And even reasonably fast on my old Mac Pro. Nothing else I've tried comes close.
Created and produced by Joss Whedon, who also wrote Toy Story and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the series stars Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Summer Glau and Alan Tudyk, among others and became so popular that the series led to a 2005 feature film, Serenity.
Every year in late May to early June, thousands of visitors gather near the popular Elkmont Campground to observe the naturally occurring phenomenon of Photinus carolinus, a firefly species that flashes synchronously. Since 2006, access to the Elkmont area has been limited during the eight days of predicted peak activity in order to reduce traffic congestion and provide a safe viewing experience for visitors that minimizes disturbance to these unique fireflies during the peak mating period.
(Grave of the Fireflies) follows two Japanese children orphaned by a catastrophic air raid in Kobe, portraying their struggle to survive the last days of the Second World War with an unflinching realism rarely seen in animation. But why has this film been left out of the frenzied consumption of Studio Ghibli's works?
In conjunction with the release of the first book-length study of the film in English, Grave of the Fireflies (BFI Film Classics) in May, we invite the author, Alex Dudok de Wit, a journalist with expertise on Japanese anime, to explore his findings and the significance of this title. With critical analysis contextualised by the film's production background, he will focus on Isao Takahata's contribution to the animation genre, moving away from the more common spotlight on Hayao Miyazaki's work. His presentation, which will include live reading of short passages from the book, will be followed by a conversation with Dr YOSHIOKA Shiro, lecturer in Japanese Studies at Newcastle University, who specialises in Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli's animation.
Large photographs of luminous glaciers are suspended in an arc in the center of the gallery, envisioned by the artist as portals to a parallel world, a silhouette discernible within the densely layered ice. An enigmatic soundscape resonates throughout the space, mimicking the otherworldly and disorienting landscape that appears in the newest film work as part of Fireflies, created in collaboration with filmmaker CJ Clarke.
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In this guide, I will explain how to photograph fireflies. I will focus on the species found in Japan as I am based here, but the basic principles apply to all species. There are two species found in Japan: Genji (Luciola cruciata) and Hime (Luciola parvula). If you decide to research further, you may find that Hime fireflies are also referred to as Kin, depending on the region, but they are the same species.
When Hime fireflies are photographed from a close distance, they will leave behind a pleasant trail of bokeh. In contrast, Genji fireflies leave long streaks that generally create a bit of a mess. One remedy for this is to step back and shoot the Genji from a distance, so that the trails appear shorter in the frame.
Some other items that I highly recommend taking are a bright flashlight, a smaller dim flashlight, and appropriate clothing. I also always bring a pair of rubber boots, as venomous snakes are usually found in the same habitats as fireflies here in Japan.
In my area, Genji fireflies are found near locations that have both water and tall grass, and Hime fireflies are found in damp forests where bamboo grass is present. Hime fireflies are the rarer breed of the two and are harder to find, but searching for them is part of the joy of photographing them.
You may also wish to consider the surrounding scenery. Just capturing the light trails on a black background would not be very interesting, so a nice location is important. Unfortunately, many of the places where you can find fireflies are busy with people who come in cars and use other light sources that can ruin the shot.
When I shoot the Genji fireflies, I usually use a wide-angle lens. As photographing these fireflies is more about finding the bigger picture, you are pretty safe to set your focus to infinity. For this species you do not need to be very close to get a nice shot, and you will find that the results looks more appealing when farther away.
For Hime fireflies it is all about the bokeh, so I suggest shooting with fast primes: specifically a 35mm, 50mm, or 85mm. Getting the focus for these will be a little more difficult. To get the bokeh you want, focus on something rather close. I usually find a nice looking tree or plant to make the subject.
In essence, shooting fireflies is just like shooting star trails. It is much easier to capture shorter frames and then stack them afterwards in post production into one final image. There are many advantages to this method, including the reduction of noise. Shooting hour-long exposures on a DSLR is just not practical. 2b1af7f3a8