Thursday, December 3, 2009

6 x 1, i believe, was one of the only courses i've had in college that i looked forward to every single time we had class. The first assignment was awesome! I fell in love with direct film manipulation immediately, and I strongly believe that every student in our major needs to have the opportunity to work with actual physical film, in such a creative way. On a side note: i think you should definitely keep the blogs, for me it has been thought provoking and a lot of fun. The fact that we don't get graded on grammar is a great way to motivate people to write. I think it would be cool if there was a beginner level workshop in after effects and or final cut, during the rapid editing project. Some of the examples Andre showd in glass this semester had some really cool filters/ effects, and I remember wishing I had the motivation to try to learn how to do these manipulations on my own. So i was thinking it would be cool to have around an hour or two session showing how to set up a composition, import footage, and apply a few simple effects. In Final Cut, for example, students could learn (or review) how to super impose, tint, split screen, etc. It was great working with both the super 8 and 16 mm cameras. Andre talked about the possibility of doing some "in camera editing" while working with the bolox, that method would be interesting to add to the workshop. The super 8 multi plane animation project was really great, wouldn't change anything about it. The 48 hour video race was also great! The only thing I could think of adding might be a short "field trip" to the library for a demonstration of the different (non obvious) ways in which one could use copy machines and scanners to create motion. The culture jam assignment was a good way to end the semester. Just when one's patience is almost non existent (close to finals), you get to spend time creating something, that for me felt anti-establishment; you get to take a vacation (from fact memorization, or even linear story line) and put your effort into creating whatever message you want, using whatever footage you desire. Along with the rest of the class, this project was almost therapeutic for me. I sincerely hope that film students at other schools are lucky enough to experience a course like this one.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Cucalorus was really fantastic, I had the best time at this festival! This was the first time I got to experience anything like it, I went to a few shows last year but did not have a screening pass since I wasn’t in the major. I think I went to a total of fifteen shows and workshops over those six days. As a result I’m way behind in all four of my production classes and haven’t slept more than three hours a night for the last three days, but it was totally worth it. I couldn’t honestly pick a favorite film out of all of them, but Port City really stuck with me. The film was a sort of light hearted comedy, nothing too serious which was a nice break after seeing Mississippi Be Damned which was a terrific thought provoking film that left me in tears. What really stuck with me after seeing Port City was the general feeling of community at the center stage theatre. Nearly everybody I knew was at that screening, even people who generally don’t go to movies. It was great seeing something that was done right here at home, especially since it was good. Its just cool to recognize the locations throughout the movie, makes one appreciate living here even more than usual. The shots of the river really brought on sentimental feelings for me, which is odd, because I never thought I would come to call this place home until the festival this year. The show was sold out, the theatre was packed, and I just felt like I was at some large family reunion in which I didn’t know everyone but that didn’t matter all that much. I guess there was a communal energy in the room, which came forth when people laughed in unison. The Q and A was very short, I sort of wish it went on for longer but I understand how it can be a little awkward to stand on stage before hundreds of people. The director, producer, and actors all looked like they were ready to get out of the lime light, which is totally fine with me since I tend to think that a little humility couldn’t hurt anybody in this business. Like I said, the film itself was great, not too complicated, but sometimes that’s exactly what people need, something to entertain them, take them out of their world and make them happy. The story had a few interesting twists and the character development was amazing. The director said that he was trying to bring forth the story of the urban south, and I believe that he and his crew definitely accomplished this. One thing that amazed me was that he said they shot the film in some crazy short time, I think around 14 days. This is astounding to me, probably because I’ve never worked with a crew of more than five people, but the fact that they shot a feature length film in such a short period of time in incredible. They must have done a whole lot of detailed planning to pull this off. Anyways, this festival in general has inspired me to work as hard as I can on projects outside of school. The leader of the “Don’t quit your day job” workshop told us that as beggener film makers quantity should matter more than quality, meaning that we need to get out there and make as many films as we can, so that we can learn more and more and develop a personal style. I’m taking this message to heart, and hope to have a work play in the next festival, and if not that, at least get to the point where I’m submitting something.

Monday, November 9, 2009

48 hour video race

I had a blast with the 48 hour video race! Seriously, I live for this kind of stuff. I’ve always felt that my work comes out best when I’m under severe pressure. I remember when I picked up the mystery props I started to conceptualize what sort of film I wanted to make. Something trippy, I thought, experimental, with lots of movement. At that moment I decided that I would be doing this movie using my Kodak easy share still camera. Although this camera had a video setting I thought it would be more fun/challenging to do it all with still photos. At first I planned on mixing these photos in with some found footage, and maybe even animating some of the movement in aftereffects, but after I saw that we had shot more footage then was necessary to the one minute, I decided to let go of those ideas and instead spend my available time on perfecting the editing of the stuff I already had. I didn’t actually start working on this until Wednesday of that week. One of my best friends here was kind enough to help me, which was pretty fantastic, I don’t know anybody else who would sit around with me for five straight hours working on taking 800 + photographs of jars slowly moving around, lol. When I was shooting the stop motion, I basically went off from my experience with the multi plane assignment we did earlier this year. This is probably why I ended up taking more photographs then was actually necessary. I started off shooting each separate movement five different times, eventually that got extremely frustrating, since my camera sometimes takes up to twenty seconds to process one single photograph. Eventually I went to shoot each action twice. Ironically when I brought the images into final cut, it didn’t seem like those extra three shots made much of a difference. What I had forgotten about during the shoot, is that one can slow animation down to as low as ten frames per second, and still have it look good, which is what I ended up doing during editing. For some reason played at 24fps the footage looked pretty terrible, really jumpy, and didn’t give the viewer enough time to register what was going on on screen. So I slowed it down. One really cool thing that my friend suggested ended up working surprisingly well. We decided to use the song “One more time” by daft punk to go along with the stop motion. He thought it would be neat to play this song over and over again while we were working. I don’t know how it happened, but I think it influenced us subconsciously, because when I went to edit in the music, it almost seemed to fit perfectly. I actually think we’re going to be working with stop motion again next week, not for school. I’ve been a giant fan of Tool’s stop motion videos for years, although I must admit I don’t actually listen to them all that much unless I’m watching something they created, and I would love to be able to do something equally amazing at some point soon. The only regret I have about this assignment is that I wish I would have tried several other camera less filmmaking techniques, like using a scanner or copier, but I guess I could always try those things on my own time. I’m a firm believer that once an idea is formed and the method for producing that idea is set, the best work comes when people still to their original plan. I know this from experience, because I used to be that person that would completely change their project or paper half way through, and the results were always less than favorable.

3 D cameras

My experience with the 3D camera workshop was actually quite a surprise. For some reason I thought it would have been structured like the bolox Saturday shoot, where each group would get a few hours to plan and shoot their ideas. Granted I sat in the class room with the people I would be working with making masks, and we could have very well planned out the action we were about to film while we were sitting there, but alas that did not come to be. Its kind of neat to work under such pressure, we came up with an idea and blocked it in about a span of 15 minutes. It reminded me of the improve games I used to play in theatre when I was in high school. I didn’t get to see how to set up the camera’s properly, but I imagine it was not that complicated, just setting both to the same exact settings, like the same white balance, fstop and so on. The only thing I’m still slightly confused about is how to figure out the exact space between the camera’s. I know they’re supposed to be in the same position as the human eyes, but scaled up because the lenses are larger than eyeballs. So I guess with a little algebra one could figure out the space between the two. I combined the left and right tapes in after effects, and although I remember learning how to do this, I’m not sure I can do it again with out instructions. I love learning stuff in after effects, its like this mystery program with so many possibilities and each time I get to do something new I feel like I’ve won some small battle with the imac, lol. It was cool to learn an actual practical use of the slate, I’ve only previously used it to match up sound, poorly at that. What I learned from this, as with anything that involves computers, technology, and the UNCW editing lab, one must plan to work longer than expected. I didn’t mind that much, I feel like I might be able to have fun in a career that involves after effects, as long as that’s not all that I have to do.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

media, rights?

I have always felt that art in general would work better if it was freely shared among the community. I don’t believe that people should be able to profit from others’ work without adding something original, but I do strongly feel that if something I create can bring inspiration to someone else to make something that is meaningful to them, they should go ahead and use my work. Such a creative process is exemplified in On the rights of man article. A single meaningful photograph inspired paintings, flyers, tee-shirts, etc. etc. The coolest part of that process was that because of this inspiration more and more people became aware of the problem at hand; knowledge was passed along. As far as credit goes I’m not sure how I feel about this issue. It would have been nice for Miss Garnett to mention the original photographer, I know if I had taken the picture, I would have wanted at least a thank you, but I don’t think that she should be sued or criticized because she recreated this photograph in an entirely different medium. As the Ecstasy article mentions, or at least this is what I got out of it, we are surrounded with all sorts of media all of the time, everything is mixed together, and some of the best works of literature, music, and art, have come into being because of the same type of “plagiarism” Garnett was sued for. The tradition of borrowing/ building on other people’s works of art goes back as far as Shakespeare, and probably even further. In this day and age there are too many laws and regulations; ways for us to try and hurt each other when that time could be spend doing something much more productive. The stupid napster fiasco is a perfect example of this ridiculousness. Suing kids as young as twelve… give me a break, what is the purpose of this? Did Metallica really need those few thousands of dollars this lawsuit took away from hundreds of people who were probably not very well off to begin with. I understand that artists whose livelihood depends on the sales of their works being upset about it being shared freely, but I also think that this free share of media can bring about more fans and followers who will eventually contribute to the artists’ success by going to see them perform, or buying their merchandise, or even passing their work along to others who will do the same. Many underground musicians post their work freely online for people to use and share with one another, perhaps because they realize this. The business of art has been spoiled by having so many branches of people who make money off the artist legally, i.e. record companies, producers, advertisers, and the list goes on and on, but instead of cutting out these middle men who at times serve very little purpose, the lawyers are going after those who want to enjoy the art just for its own sake. Maybe I don’t want to go buy a CD in a record store, if I’m aware that the original creators of this music wont’ see more then maybe a penny of every ten dollars in sales! This is why I personally don’t’ spend money on CDs unless I’m buying them from the musicians themselves. I support the artistic community as much as I can, but I refuse to buy into the corporate portion of this business; hope that’s something I keep along my way through my chosen profession.

Yes Men

I truly enjoyed watching Yes Men in class last week. I had no idea that anyone could carry out such an elaborate impersonation of cooperate representatives without going to jail. The point of the film that really stuck with me was that the other people at the various conventions they went to, not only didn’t kick them out, but reacted as if the information they were presenting was totally acceptable. If the top employees of one of the largest global corporations in existence can accept the concept of a phallus shaped observation monitor that sends out electrical impulses to various workers, the problems this world has to deal with are much worse then I had previously imagined. At least the Australian students in the film reacted with anger and frustration to the group’s presentation. If they hadn’t I would have walked out of that film severely depressed. I was also impressed with how much preparation and work the ‘yes men’ did in order to accomplish their stunts, and it was also nice to see them get financial sponsorship. The Yes Men have taken the concept of the culture jam and perpetuated it into live action/ the real world. As opposed to taking things out of context and creating a new meaning, they dive into the thing itself and show how ridiculous the concepts that powerful people are willing to put up with. How conformity of their cooperate world has taken away every last bit of free thought away…The people they interact with at the conference do not actually matter to them, it’s the stories in the papers, the publicity, the film that get their message out to the general public. The conference attendees are just puppets that dance along to their plan. As far as this assignment I’m not quite sure where to begin, but I usually don’t get struck with an idea for a project until the due date is fast approaching, so I’m not too worried about. I did create a culture jam for Shannon’s intro to editing class, and it came out pretty good in my opinion. I remember it took me like twelve straight hours of editing to complete that assignment, so I will try to plan better for this one. I appreciate the fact that the yes men are actually making a difference with their work and I am inspired to once again create something that I feel strongly about, I’m just not quite sure what at the moment.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

long take

I loved working on the long take last weekend, even though it was on a saturday. I got to operate the camera which was very exciting for me because i've never worked with a 16 mm camera before. I was pretty nervous about getting all of the setting correctly, but after carefully following instructions i think i got a hold of it. I still treat film as such a delicate substance, when in actuality its not as fragile as i like to think that it is. After loading the camera we spend the majority of our allowed time planning out the long take. Luckily we had already come up with a concept we were going to shoot the previous class, so all we had to do was block our actors and get the timing right. We used a wheelchair dolly to track our long take. Getting accustomed to sitting in it was a little bit of a challenge. I had some trouble finding a position that was comfortable, and practical. I had to sit in such a way where i could steady the camera from bouncing around, as well as be able to look through the view finder. Eventually i sat across the chair with my legs hanging from one side and held the camera steady against my knee. The dolly worked well, although there were problems with the uneven sidewalk and cracks. It was hard to keep the camera steady but I did the best I could. We blocked and rehearsed the shot five or six different times, with the actors doing their blocking and me following them along pretending to shoot. The timing worked out pretty well, although we didn't get the final shot in the end because we ran out of tape. I believe i might have set the fps a little too high on the camera, I will have to make sure to double and triple check this the next time i work on a similar project. The sun was on our side it seems, when we were ready to shoot the real thing the clouds gave way to a perfect window of opportunity. I had a good time watching the film being developed, someday i hope to be able to developed some of my personal work in this way, at least now i'll some idea of what to do if this happens. When i saw the developed film i was a little concerned because so much of it was dark, but then realized that it was because of the brick columns we used in our shot which stretched across the entire minute of footage. It actually came out looking great, and I can't wait to start working on the sound editing for this assignment. To be honest I was a little surprised that it came out looking that good, but i have low confidence in my abilities to operate camera, which is something i need to overcome ASAP because I hope to operate equipment and cameras as a profession some day, and confidence is something I will need to project to potential employers. I enjoyed looking at the negative image of our long take, and sort of wish we could leave it looking this way, but it’ll probably look even better after me and my partner take it into final cut. I’m not quite sure yet of what sort of sound track I want to add to this footage, but I’m sure we will come up with something great. So far it is reminiscent of some sort of skate board commercial, and I wish to steer the project away from that direction. Anyways, I had a great time working on this assignment, and hope to continue such work on my own in the future.