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Discussion Starter · #1 ·




Hi! These are the pictures and videos I’ve recorded on my trip the United States of America, one month ago. Definitely a unique and quite interesting country. The 2 main goals of the trip were clear from the beginning: the first one, to go and get to know the Major Studios in Los Angeles (I am a film director). The second one was more like a dream and a big question I wanted to answer: How did a colony of an empire became such an important country with such a huge impact in the world, especially in one of the most intense centuries of the human kind? That and more in this thread. Hope you like it.

I’m gonna be posting these, in this order:


1) Ezeiza Airport (Argentina) & US Airports (Miami and LA)
2) Los Angeles: Hollywood
3) Los Angeles: Major Studios (Sony Pictures, Warner Bros, and Paramount)
4) Los Angeles: Venice & Santa Monica Beach
5) Downtown Los Angeles
6) Los Angeles Overview
7) Traveling to San Francisco & Fort Mason
8) San Francisco: Fisherman’s Wharf, Telegraph Hill, Coit Tower, and Lombard Street
9) San Francisco: Downtown, Chinatown, and Cablecars
10) San Francisco: Palace of Fine Arts, Golden Gate Bridge, and Sausalito
11) San Francisco Overview
12) Airports of San Francisco & New York City
13) NYC: Times Square, Midtown, and Central Park
14) NYC: Upper East Side, Park Avenue, and Grand Central Terminal
15) NYC: Wall Street, Lower Manhattan, and New World Trade Center
16) NYC: Museums
17) New York City Overview
18) Boston: Downtown, North End, and Charlestown
19) Boston: Beacon Hill & Overview of the city
20) Washington DC: Museums
21) Washington DC: City Overview
22) Overview of the USA
23) Extras



Map of the trip:


 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
1) AIRPORTS: EZEIZA (ARGENTINA), MIAMI, AND LOS ANGELES



The trip begins, as always in my case, in the Ezeiza International Airport (Buenos Aires, Argentina). I particularly love it. I always feel really good inside this airport. It’s like a door to the unknown, and at the same time a door who’s always open for me when I miss my country and I come back. Borges, a writer from Argentina, said once: “if you wanna learn about your country, go to the foreign nations”. And I always remember in every trip.

Though all the americans share a common culture, what I’ve seen is quite different from the cases like South America and Europe. Every city is very different than the others, even when they’re very close from each other, like Los Angeles and San Francisco. Definitely, the West and East Coast are 2 different countries. The East Coast shows a huge old brittish influence and the West Coast is the demonstration of the new America, with some characteristics of the mexican and latin culture.

This is the Ezeiza International Airport (Buenos Aires, Argentina):
















I’ve traveled by American Airlines, one of the few airlines in the world that charges for the best seats in the airplanes (though you can get to the airport early and change the number).

Though it was at night, I could see the Amazonas in Brazil, the Caribbean, and Cuba. When I was landing on Miami, I could see from my window the first american characteristic: everything is big. The highways are huge, lots of avenues crossing the neighborhoods, and big terrains with big-size houses and their private yards. This is the Miami International Airport:






After going trough all the security controls, I saw the other big characteristic of the US: the importance of the immigration on their culture. Once brittish, italian and irish, in the last decades it was from the latin countries. I was surprised by the fact the almost 75% of the people in the Miami Airport was speaking spanish. Some people told me that the countries where the immigration come from dependes on the city. Texas and the south of the West Coast has a lot of people from Mexico and Central America. The East Coast has a lot of people from Puerto Rico and the islands near the coast.

I remember that the biggest airport I’ve been before the US was Barajas in Madrid. That changed the first day in the United States. The airports there are tiny cities, from the New York to the less important cities. One curios thing: you can tell where the airports are in an american city from the contrails of the airplanes on the air. First I saw it. It was a spectacle to watch.

This is the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX):







 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
2) HOLLYWOOD




My first day in the US took me by surprise. The first one was the size of the blocks in Los Angeles. What it seemed a little european block was actually twice or 3 times larger than what it looked like in Google Maps. The other surprise, though I already knew it before going there, was that the city is made exclusively for the car. I remember this day when I was walking in Hollywood Hills and the sidewalk suddenly disappeared. The only options were to go back half a mile or go half a mile to the next block. They even got buttons in the traffic lights, so the people can cross the street, though some of them takes a long time for the lights to change.

The gorgeous Los Angeles is actually a compilation of towns who were once united in one city to share the water and electricity system. You can see that on its neighborhoods. They’re quite different from each other. Hollywood is one of those districts. It is known for its movie and TV studios, specially the Majors like Warner Bros. and Paramount. It also has the famous Hollywood Boulevard with the Hollywood stars in the sidewalks and some attractions like the Dolby Theatre (where the Oscars takes place every year) and the Chinese Theatre. And it is here where I discovered one of the main keys of the american culture and its influence in the world: the Show. They’re the kings of entertainment. They know what, how, when, and where to tell it. “Fake it till you make it” and the “Act As If..” principles pretty much describe it better. They know how to sell. They almost perfectly manage the capitalist system. They learned it from the beginning thanks to their brittish ancestors and they successfully improved it after becoming an entire separate and new nation.

So after realizing of all this, the best way to have some rest was to go to the Hollywood Hills, a perfect place to watch the afternoon and the skyline of the great and legendary LA, the city of dreams. However, I was only looking at the mask. That was part of the show, I knew it. So the next step was waiting for me: the Hollywood Major Studios.

But for now, these are the pictures of Hollywood in the city of Los Angeles:




















 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
3) MAJOR STUDIOS: SONY PICTURES, WARNER BROS. & PARAMOUNT





The studios of Los Angeles are quite unique. They can’t even be compared to the big studios of the UK and Bollywood in India. Every Major Studio is a tiny city with its own fire and security departments, waste management, cleaning, shops, and offices. All this system connects the main departments of the production: Art, Camera & Lighting, Costumes, Editing & Post-Production, among others. The routine of every worker inside this tiny cities includes movie stars and even rockstars.

In the beginning of the 20th Century, the biggest studios (Paramount, Warner Bros., MGM, Universal Studios, Walt Disney, y 20th Century Fox) created the MPAA (Motion Pictires Asociation of America) to protect their movies from the moral and ethic laws of those times, between other interests such as getting investors from the US. Known because of the failed SOPA and PIPA laws recently, the MPAA managed to protect the Studios till today. Though the Majors compete in the movie theaters, they actually work together to protect the system. Today, nobody makes movies in Los Angeles anymore because of the high taxes. The movie productions went to other cities of the US, such as Atlanta. A famous producer said few months ago: “only the people who want to waste money film in LA”. They only make TV shows in the studios today. Despites that, they keep the same system and magic that they always had.

In LA, only 3 of the studios can be visited: the Warner Bros, Paramount Pictures, and Sony Pictures. They all have regular and VIP tours. The Warner has also a Deluxe tour of 7 hours where you can talk with the people working there (even with the movie stars, if you find someone). I made the VIP & Deluxe Tours, so you’re gonna have the first-hand experience of these places. I’ve seen them in this order: the Sony Pictures studios, where I saw the basics (the tour is made for quick-pictures tourism), the Warner tour, where I saw the behind-the-scenes, and Paramount. In Paramount, because we had to wait due to problems of the guide, he gave us access to forbidden places of the studios, so it was really cool. A hell of a great experience.

This is the Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, some miles away from Hollywood district. The big building is the Sony Pictures Plaza, used for sci-fi movies and series due to its futuristic and “evil” look.





















With the exception of some historical sites, most of the buildings inside the studios are very simple. That’s because the facades are changed all the time depending on what every production needs. Same case for the designs of the roads and paths. They also change the place of the offices all the time, also depending on the productions at the moment. This is the Main Street of the Sony Pictures Studios:













The next day, I went to the Warner Bros Studios. We were only 3 in the Deluxe Tour, so it was actually a nice and different experience. We started in our VIP car:













The VIP tours in Warner started as a way of showing the studios to the foreign executives. They then added this service to everyone who was interested in seeing them. So we first went to what they call “Bridge Building” because of its look. They often use this place to shoot New York City scenes or other cities with this kind of look, such as Hong Kong or Downtown LA.









Most of the area of the studios are filled with the stages, big empty buildings with grills on the roof that can be almost as tall as a 10-stories building. They are prepared to be modified. In the grills, they put dozens of lights and grip engineering. Some of the stages also have big pools behind the floor, so they can be filled with water and shoot scenes with ships, like the battle scenes of 300:Rise of An Empire or the last scene of The Dark Knight Rises where Robin rises up. The stages:











 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Other characteristic that distinguish the Major Studios are their fictional cities and roads. Most of them are facades of the typical american city. Though they look amazingly realistic, they are empty behind the panels of those facades. Rule number 1 of the studios: it has to be prepared to be modified. When you get close, you won’t also see lights in the streets or little details in the walls. That’s because they change all those things all the time, depending on what the Director wants for that particular production. There’s also no water or electricity in these places. They take the generators for the lights and big trucks for the water. The fake cities:














The Art Department quite impressed me. There’s big buildings where they keep the stuff for the scenery they used on the last decades. They Art department of the Warner and other art designers can go there and choose what things they wanna rent for they productions. They go and choose from a sketchual they already have, they tell to the people working there with number of the catalog is and, in the cases of the big productions, they transport those objects in the trucks. This again shows how the Major Studios work together. It is often common to see Warner trucks in the Paramount studios or the other way around. Now, a lot of these things were for sure in a lot of famous movies. Somehow, they were in the shots of the movies you’ve seen. If you take a look closely, you’re gonna recognize them.
























And this is the moment for movies fans: the original costumes used in a lot of famous movies and series such as The Dark Knight Rises, Friends, Harry Potter, 300: Rise of an Empire, and many others. Also, the original vehicles used in very famous movies. And what I liked the most, the set where they shot Friends (it’s actually the same original set putted together in a tiny room). I’ve never actually felt so immersed like in the set of Friends. I was actually looking and touching the same stuff I see every day on the show. Quite a great experience.
























And the third tour was in the Paramount Pictures Studios, where Martin Scorsese films today. Because almost everything was explained already, these are the new things you may see in the next pictures: the blue lights in the doors who indicate when they’re shooting a scene with pools filled with water, the chat with the jewelry designer (she even showed us famous jewelry from the classic Cleopatra movie), the signboard department, the triangle where they shoot the reflections of skyscrapers, the real shooting of a True Blood scene, and the room where they keep all the tapes of the movies and series of Paramount (all of them). Enjoy!

































 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
4) PACIFIC COAST: SANTA MONICA & VENICE BEACH




After going to the last tour of the Studios, I went to get some rest in the beach. Going there is quite difficult without a car, but I still managed to get there in an almost 2 hours trip by bus. I first went to Venice Beach, some kind of an american Amsterdam: the weed smell everywhere, skaters, tatoo shops, and a cool young atmosphere. And something that I would see in the next days in every city: the homeless people (I’m gonna go deep in the subject in the next one). The idea was to start in Venice and walk to the north to Malibu and see the houses of those aerial shots of Two and a Half Men. But, as it happened before, my calculation on Google Maps were again wrong, so I just got to the Santa Monica Pear, a theme park on top of a wooden pier. A very classic place of Los Angeles. Known for the gang wars in the past, Venice beach is today part of every touristic agenda. Santa Monica, in the other side, was always a classic nice beach with Malibu hills in the horizon. Like Lima, Peru (the only city with a coast to the Pacific Ocean that I’ve met before), the coast of Los Angeles is also prepared against the tsunamis. I personally loved its windy beaches.

So in Santa Monico I lied down in the sand and cleaned all the thoughts inside my head. The research trip came to an end and it was time to go see the US culture in a deeper way. That was the last afternoon I’ve been Los Angeles. The next day, I went to Downtown LA and took the bus to San Francisco. That and more in the next one.


In the meantime, these are the pictures:




































And the video:



 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
5) DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES




It could be said that every district in Los Angeles has its own downtown. It’s somehow like little examples of the american cities: the financial district full of skyscrapers, surrounded by the low-rise suburbs, connected by big highways. The city of Los Angeles also has its main downtown, the Downtown LA, famous for being the scenery of lots of action movies and detective series. Like most of the US cities, most of the Downtown LA skyscrapers are part of the International Style, with the main characteristic of being boxy buildings without any major details in their facades (with some exceptions like the Sears Tower in Chicago). The US Bank Tower, who breaks this monotony, was one of the tallest buildings in the United States. Today, the Wildshire Grand is being constructed and its gonna be the tallest in the West Coast (the cranes in the site can be seen in some pictures), with almost 330 m. and a design who fits more into this particular era of modern skyscrapers.

The Downtown LA was a premise of what I would be looking in New York the week after. To go there, I took the Metro Red Line from Hollywood to the middle of the Downtown. Because I was there on a friday, I could see the rush hour in that particular place (something I wanted to watch with my own eyes a long time before). There’s plenty of old buildings with brick facades, like the New York ones but somehow different. Same with the Art Deco. While NYC Art Deco skyscrapers are quite dark (and taller), the West Coast art deco is more colorful. And the biggest of all, the International Style skyscrapers who are so close one from each other that some of the streets don’t even have sunlight at day, with big avenues crossing each other, pedestrian bridges, and tunnels. Reminded somehow to Hong Kong (for these lasts details).

That afternoon, I finished my stay in Los Angeles by going to the Frank Gehry’s Disney Concert Hall and the Town Hall. After a week of walking a lot in a city made for the cars, my legs were almost prepared to win the Olympics :lol:


These are the pictures:























 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
6) LOS ANGELES: OVERVIEW






Once again, Los Angeles is today planned for the car. To visit it then may result in having to choose (widely speaking) between these 2 options: renting a car and having the possibility of traveling long distances, but with the big disadvantage of being inside the car most of the time and that way perceiving less of what happens around you, as well as many details that you may only see when on foot. The other options is to walk, with the big advantage of being more immersed in the city. Everybody has their own way of learning and watching a culture or an urban place, and walking is always the best way to achieve that knowledge in a more efficient way. The concentration needed for driving the car and the high limitation on the maneuverability also makes to lose the concentration on other aspects of the city and its details. It is also important to be aware, before going, that you may often be stuck in the traffic, in the avenues and the freeways.

If you’re thinking on another schedule by using the public transport, plan it before going. Los Angeles has some new subway lines and a few buses, though they’re expanding this network, it’s still being developed. The blocks are bigger than in most cities around the world (especially Europe) and even when comparing to other cities in the US. I found it difficult to find places to eat in LA, with the exception of some parts of Downtown LA and some very particular streets in some districts. You may not find restaurants everywhere like in most big cities around the world. Most the places available are fast-food chains and big companies like Subway or Starbucks. Among with the transportation, this is an important tip as well.

About choosing the city as a destination inside the country, I wouldn’t say it has many iconic places to visit. There’s a lot of things to see, but only if you have a lot of time in the US or if you live in the country and have a long-time vacation and you can include more stuff in your schedule. I’d recommend to just spend 2 or 3 days in LA.

Here’s some more information, on the last look to Los Angeles, before going to San Francisco: the Major Studios Blog (that I finished this week), the Paramount Studios video, and the classic Quick City Overview of the city of Los Angeles. Enjoy!






Hollywood Major Studios (Blog): Sony - Paramount - Warner Bros.







 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
7) TRAVELING TO SAN FRANCISCO & FORT MASON




Four were the options to choose: to rent a car, going by train, airplane, or bus. The car and the airplane were too expensive. The train, managed by Amtrak (like most of the rail system in the US) costed almost US$100 and the bus just US$20, so I took this one. As in Argentina and other latinamerican countries, the most used long-distance transport were the bus and then the airplane (in terms of amount of passengers). I couldn’t corroborate it but it seemed like the train was used mostly by tourists and businessmen. I heard some stories about the rail system being highly reduced in the mid-50s when they built the huge highway/freeway system throughout the country, and when the car took the place as the most used way of transportation.

So I chose the bus because of its low cost and the big advantage that it stops in the little towns around the routes. They were all very calm, with their own Wall-Marts, gas stations, the coffee shops with big parking lots, and residential areas with the classic grass yards. I personally loved the 90s cars everywhere in the little towns. Reminded me of the car chases that I’ve seen in the TV when I was a kid :lol:

My first look at the bay and the surroundings were when I got to Oakland, in theory one of the most dangerous cities on the United States. It’s been said that the Silicon Valley and new entrepeneurs phenomenon made the land price of San Francisco more expensive, resulting in the migration of some of people to Oakland, a cheaper place to live. After passing trough Oakland by the freeway, the bus crossed the awesome Bay Bridge to San Francisco. It was very congested at the time (you may see it in more detail on the video). The views from the Bay Bridge are some of the best you may find of the skyline of San Francisco. So after getting there I went to the hostel of Fort Mason, an old US Army terrain with great views of the Bay and Alcatraz. Seeing San Francisco, the cradle of the hippies and some of the most important social revolutions of the US and the world culture in the 20th century was one of my biggest dreams. That comes in the next one. In the meantime, these are the views from the Bay Bridge:




















Fort Mason:












 
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