The Alliance for Networking Visual Culture

Jeremy Kagan’s E-Textbook, Keys to Directing, published in Scalar


Keys to Directing is rich and informative… Acquired over decades of directing, teaching and in-depth conversations with fellow filmmakers, Kagan’s depth of knowledge is evident in every word, his wisdom matched by the palpable affection and respect he clearly has for the mysterious, difficult, joyous craft of directing. A uniquely valuable read for the filmmaking novice and experienced director alike.

‐SHAWN LEVY, film director of Night at the Museum

Keys to Directing, according to its author, Jeremy Kagan, is a “living” eTextbook that offers an in-depth examination of a director’s essential responsibilities. In addition to being a Professor at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, Kagan is also an Emmy Award winning director, writer, and producer of television and feature films. While his film credits include Heroes (1977), The Big Fix (1978), The Chosen (1981), and The Journey of Natty Gann (1985), Kagan has also directed episodes of many celebrated television shows, counting among them, Picket Fences, Chicago Hope, The West Wing, and The Guardian.

Figure 1. Kagan analyzes a four-person shot from Casablanca.

Kagan’s Keys to Directing presents a comprehensive study of its subject moving from chapters on casting and rehearsals through to directing and camera movement. Many sections offer ample real-world footage, sometimes in the form of classic scenes that invoke particular techniques under discussion and at other times, with Kagan himself in revealing behind-the-scenes rehearsals and experimental actor run-throughs. The section on camera movement, for example, covers a myriad of topics –nineteen in all- from camera lenses to green screens. Here, Kagan shows his readers “how to tell [their] story with the camera” by offering detailed analysis of techniques used in classic film and television scenes as well as diagramic breakdowns of camera and actor positioning within those scenes (see Figure 1).

The Introduction to Keys to Directing is free, but the full e-textbook is $20.

Scalar Workshop + Polymathic Making at USC’s Harman Academy

uscpolymathic-400Wednesday, September 21st
Doheny Memorial Library, Room 241
5 to 6:30 pm
to RSVP email Curtis Fletcher at

If you happen to be around USC this Wednesday,  join us for a special Scalar workshop at the new Polymathic Labs.

A new initiative of the Academy, the Polymathic Labs will extend our integrative learning to the tactile and the sensory, offering a space for experimentation, play, and creative expression. To kick us off, Academy Director Tara McPherson and Associate Director Curtis Fletcher will lead a workshop on Scalar. The session will introduce the platform, showcase the various ways it has been used to create online publications, exhibits, and games, and lead students through a hands-on workshop on using Scalar for making various types of projects.

Please bring an internet-ready laptop to the workshop. (An iPad will also work, but laptops are often easier to work with.)

And, yes, there will be pizza!

The College Art Association’s latest review published in Scalar


The focus of “If were,” the latest Scalar project published by the College Art Association, is Boris Charmatz’s “If Tate Modern Was Musée de la Danse?,” a work that turned the Turbine Hall of the Tate Museum into a dance performance, into a “dance museum” on May 15th and 16th of 2015. Boris’ work asks “What would a museum of dance look like?” and, thus correspondingly, this Scalar project, a review of Boris’ work in the Tate, asks “What would a review of a work in a dance museum look like?”

Organized by editor designate of, Juliet Bellow, the review includes an introduction by Bellow, and reviews of the performances at the Tate Modern by three scholars of dance, Arabella Stanger, Nicole Zee, and Tamara Tomic-Vajagic. The review presents the complexities of Charmatz’s transformation of the Tate Modern into a museum of dance for two days a transformation that challenges conceptions of museums as institutional spaces and incorporates audience participation and “unauthorized” performances.

This review is part of a new initiative to review time-based media works, a great fit for Scalar. This first review features an interactive map allowing readers to see where Boris’ performances occurred in the Tate Modern as well as videos and images that document the performance overall.

Scalar Webinars: Announcing Our Fall 2016 Schedule

The Alliance for Networking Visual Culture will offer another series of free online webinars this fall.

All webinars will feature our new interface, Scalar 2. Our “Introduction to Scalar” webinars will cover basic features of the platform: a review of existing Scalar books and a hands-on introduction to paths, tags, annotations and importing media. Our “Intermediate Scalar” webinars will delve into more advanced topics including the effective use of visualizations, annotating with media and a primer on customizing appearances in Scalar.

Our fall schedule will include four dates:

Introduction to Scalar: September 15, 10am-12pm (PST)
Intermediate Scalar: October 13, 10am-12pm (PST)
Introduction to Scalar: November 10, 4pm-6pm (PST)
Intermediate Scalar: December 8, 4pm-6pm (PST)

Register here.

Scalar Publication wins ATHE-ASTR Award for Excellence in Digital Theatre and Performance Scholarship


Established to support, recognize and encourage digital scholarship, the Joint ATHE-ASTR Award for Excellence in Digital Theatre and Performance Scholarship is awarded each year to an individual or team that demonstrates innovation and rigor in the use of electronic and/or digital media for the purpose of producing or disseminating knowledge about theatre and performance.

The inaugural award has gone to Erin Mee for her “Hearing the ‘Music of the Hemispheres,’” authored in Scalar and published in The Drama Review (57; 3). “Hearing the ‘Music of the Hemispheres’” uses Scalar as a tool to embody as well as analyze the multimodal and multi-linear ways that performance unfolds. In other words, it offers a performance-driven mode of scholarship aimed at better understanding spectatorship.

The subject of Mee’s article is a concert –Symphony for 100,000,000,000 Neurons- in which music was composed by sonifying fMRI scans made of subjects as they watched a stimulus film instructing them to imagine the sound of rain, listen to a recording of rain, and listen to a musical composition incorporating recordings of rain. This concert consists of multiple tracks of music, each corresponding to activity in the subject’s frontal, temporal, parietal and occipital lobes and thus allows one to hear a sonification of one’s brain as they engage in an act of spectatorship. The concert is, as Mee sees it, “an aural rendering of spectatorship” and using Scalar Mee is able to herself render and analyze for the reader the myriad multimedia components which constitute and are associated with the concert—for example, fMRI scans and audio from the stimulus film but also lectures and interviews with neuroscientists and videos portraying the sonification of abnormal brain activity.

It is this innovative and expansive use of digital content in the service of scholarship, and of Scalar in particular, that no doubt has won her the award.

Congratulations to Erin.

Adding media and annotations in Scalar just got a lot easier.


If you’ve been authoring in Scalar lately you’ve no doubt noticed a small but significant change in the text editor. The two buttons once used to insert annotations are now gone (Fig. 1). That’s because we’ve streamlined the workflow for inserting media and annotations, and in the process, integrated new functionality that allows users to reformat existing media.

Figure 1. The updated toolbar in Scalar’s text editor. We’ve eliminated the two “paperclip” annotation buttons on the left. To insert an annotation in the new toolbar, click on one of the media buttons featuring a play icon, select the annotated media, and then pick which annotations you want to display in the media formatting options.

Inserting annotations

In the old toolbar one would insert an annotation by clicking on one of the “paperclip” annotation buttons and then selecting an annotation from all of the annotations in your project. In the new system, we’ve folded annotations into the overall display options for media. So now, one simply clicks on a media button, chooses the media to display and then, selects which of its annotations (if any) to show (Fig. 2).

Figure 2. Scalar’s new media formatting options.

The eye icons allow you to toggle the visibility of each individual annotation, while the eye icon at the top of the menu, next to “Annotation Title,” toggles the display of all annotations in the list. Once you’ve selected to display at least one annotation, you’ll also be given the option to choose a specific “Featured annotation” to be highlighted once the page loads.

This new system offers much greater flexibility, allowing users to choose which, annotations, if any, they’d like to display. Want to insert a “clean” version of an image that has been annotated multiple times? Simply insert the image and select to display no annotations. Want to insert the same image twice, calling out different annotations each time? Simply insert the image and select your first set of annotations, then insert it again, selecting a different set.

Let’s use an example. You have an image for which you’ve created four separate annotations–that is, you’ve previously annotated that image by drawing out four separate areas to which you’d like to call your readers’ attention. You’d like to discuss two of those annotations in one paragraph (for example, two areas of a historical map) and the other two in a following paragraph (two other areas of the same map). Simply add the media object to the first paragraph by selecting the relevant text and clicking the first media button; after choosing the size, alignment and caption for the media, select the two annotations you’d like to discuss and then select whether you’d also like either one of those annotations to be featured–to be highlighted when the page loads. Then do the same on the next paragraph, this time choosing the other two annotations.

Reformatting media

Figure 3. Click the gear icon to reformat existing media.

We’ve also implemented a new option for reformatting existing media. Now, to change the size, alignment, caption, and annotation display options for media that’s already been added to a page, simply click on the hyperlink for linked media in the text editor and select the gear icon that pops up over the thumbnail of the media (Fig. 3), or, for inline media, click on the grey box for the media object and then select the gear icon that pops up over its thumbnail. Then simply change any settings in the media formatting options.

Removing media

It’s now easier to remove existing media as well, just by clicking the red “X” button that appears over the thumbnail when you click on a media link (Fig. 3). Before, you had to select the link in its entirety and click the “X” button in the toolbar to remove it.

Changing media

Finally, the new system also allows users to change the media associated with a given link. In other words, say you linked a particular image to a block of text but then realized you have another image that better illustrates your point. Simply follow the steps above to reformat existing media, but instead of changing the formatting options, click on “Change Selected Media” at the top and select the new image (Fig. 2).

We think you’ll find that these new changes improve and streamline your Scalar authoring—if you have any questions or feedback, please get in touch!

Page 3 of 2212345...1020...Last »

The Alliance for Networking Visual Culture

The Alliance for Networking Visual Culture was created with the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.