Tonight I dipped into the DS106 Assignment Bank to complete my first assignment, in this case Writing Assignment 722, TV Guide Remix. I thought this was respectable low-hanging fruit for The Twilight Zone episodes we are considering this week and I tried each of them on for size. I thought about reality shows, and Extreme Makeover, which seemed like an interesting fit for “The Eye of the Beholder.” I never watched EM so I hoped I could pull enough from my light internet research to make a convincing synopsis.
The next challenge would be finding a vintage TV Guide image to work from or to adapt. I was able to find a suitable image file by Googling “tv guide vintage listings ‘twilight zone’” and I ended up finding a high quality image that was archived because it included a listing of The Sounds of America which was filmed at Disneyland. In any case, it had my TZ listing, so I was golden. On a side note, vintage TV Guide images of TZ were not too hard to find, however, they were at a very low resolution. I pressed on for a high resolution images because I really wanted to enhance it as Tim Owens did in the assignment 772 details for The Wizard of Oz (which is an excellent piece of work and a high standard to emulate). You can see the low-resolution samples I found here and here and the high-resolution image I went with (curated here by vintagedisneylandtickets.blogspot.com/).
Drafting the synopsis was a challenge to keep within the scope of the TZ episode and not overwrite the surprise ending. While it was rare to have images in TV Guide for routine episodes back in the 1960s I wanted to incorporate a visual anyway. I took an image that I thought crossed-over both TV shows: the moment of unveiling. Since I was viewing the original TZ episode in Netflix, I was able to use the Microsoft Windows 7 Snipping Tool to capture the image with a “rectangular snip.” It was dark and moody and I knew I wanted more details to come out so once I imported it into Microsoft Publisher I modified it with +20% brightness and +10% contrast. I set the image aside and then modified the text, font, paragraph spacing and text box margins to approximate the other text of the original image.
I grafted bits of the yellowed TV Guide page to obscure the listing on the top right of the page and then grafted just the first line of the Twilight Zone listing and set it there. The image was tilted, by less than a degree and so I knew I’d have to address that at some point later. Even the little graft of the TZ listing carried a bit of the listing above it (almost imperceptible) due to this tilt and I intended to smudge that out later. I added more grafts of blank page to the area to create a new canvas and corrected and smoothed with still more grafts. I didn’t fuss too much, hoping I could ultimately smooth it all out with another pass of the Snipping Tool.
Once I had the synopsis in place, I moved in my photo and enlarged and cropped it to get a good helping of the action. I used the Snipping Tool to take one last capture of the new composite and adding a little highlighting over the TV listing for effect. I imported it into Word and applied the Picture Styles tool to obscure any lines in the page from my grafts and possibly to distort any obvious differences between my font (Calibri) and the original font (unknown). I decided to go with the “Reflected Perspective Right” option to make it jump from the page, like a 3D image. The text faded with this option so I had to tweak with -40% brightness, +20% contrast. Before giving it one last pass with the Snipping Tool, I changed the background of the Word page so as to give it a less sterile appearance overall; I opted for Denim to suggest maybe the armrest of a couch in the background.
Thomas A. Edison is quoted as saying “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” And while I don’t consider this the work of genius, I will say that the conception is but the smallest portion of the time I spent on this work. For those who aim to tackle this Writing Assignment in this manner, expect to spend about 3-4 hours. If you plan to prepare a tutorial for the Assignment Bank, that might take you another 1-2 hours. Still, I enjoyed the heck out of this project and the only thing that could elevate this nostalgia-induced high would be a bona fide Swanson Hungry-Man Turkey Pot Pie because I must have eaten 200 hundred of them from a TV tray on my adolescent trek through the 1970s; a good deal of those meals eaten while watching The Twilight Zone.