Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Great Mashup

From my very first super 8 clip at ten years old of my family and perhaps my first love (the little girl from next door that lingers with her eyes to the camera walking backwards downhill), through all the ups and downs of my life with images, film and video, to an isight shot of my hand while i sat on the floor among the cables putting this video together - completed published productions or projects randomly started and abandoned, with fragments of all of it -this is: The Great Mashup.

If you want a closer look at just the photography you can check out my photography website here, also a study in randomness as the "screensaver" function is a thousand picture slideshow appearing randomly over a grid of 45 samples of assignment work.

The music is also a mashup of various things playing in the background on all these films and videos made, but one piece of music stood out and was featured in a music video from a couple of years back, so here goes a shout-out to my old buddy and great performer Jeremy Parise.

The guy with the polaroid at the end is the same Jeremy who produced The Funeral.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Funeral

This short was made a few years ago and has been a weird thing on my mind, as it was never really finished and didn't come out perfect. Every now and then I try to open it up and make it better, but truth is, it was a learning process to make it and it did come out OK. 

It was done in honor of Arne Stenborg a friend of my dad. He would come and visit for coffee and stay for dinner, a few days later he would go home to his place and get new clothes. Then a couple of months later, he would stop hanging out at our place, and we wouldn't see him for maybe a year or two. I think he used us as a surrogate family as he was an eternal bachelor. 

He was a photographer by trade and an amateur film maker at home, he used to film us with a Bolex 16mm camera and take pictures of us all the time. Half the pictures in our family album are black and white glossy old prints made by Arne.

When I got the call that he had passed away, I suddenly got a flood of memories of him, and I realized that he had been one of the earliest influences to my getting into film and photography. A guy I bumped into at a party had kind of dared me to make a movie finally, so when I got the news of Arne's death, it was natural that my memories and gratitude somehow got to be the subject of this short.

Another thing of his was that he wanted badly to make a movie. He had once done a feature he told me that never got completed. They ran out of money as the lab bills got to be too much. After he died I went to a lady that had all the old footage, still on some rolls, I don't know if it really would be enough for a movie, but there was some magical dreamlike sequences in there.

So not really complete either and in honor of early sixties black and white home made cinema we give you The Funeral.

The movie was produced by my long time friend Jeremy Doner, here is the rest of the credits.

Tristan Hutson
John Trotter
Anadel Baughn
Julie Skinner
Eamon Behrens
Tom Benton

Line Producer: Steve Kleiman
Additional Cinematography: Hisham Abahusayn
Gaffer: Declan Thomas
Costume: Sarah O'Donnell
Art Direction: Maya O'Donnell and Sara James
Make Up: Bridget O'Neill

Special Thanks:

Marni Zimmerman Panavision

Joey Fotokem
Ryan Lee and Coffin Eddie

Sequoia National Park
First Baptist Church of Three Rivers, CA
Billy Hancock and Julie Doctor
Sergei Franklin Earth Video
Sketch and Dani
Todd Kessler

and thanks for helping with distribution

Anders Bramsen

Scandinavia House

and Fly 

Friday, March 21, 2008

A Garage With A Hub

I had an idea a couple of years ago about how to find a way to make the least expensive films and still get them distributed, the thinking went that all you needed to get things done was, a place to park your car and a way to connect to the internet. I asked a couple of friends if I could experiment and publish their movies on the web and set up a site.  Agwah, the name I use on the forums, is the acronym for       A Garage With A Hub.

the video credits on this site includes projects from
A La Disposition

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Taking care of Bizniz

Means to not post here when I have some assignments that need to get produced.

See ya later

Monday, March 17, 2008

Opening Wide

Opening Wide  is really not important when you have just started a little blog on the web. But for my purposes I wanted to see how the different video upload services functioned and get familiar with having a presence on the web. I got inspired to do so when my friend Jeffrey sent a link to these wonderful cellphone videos by Dan Butler.

[geek warning]

Here are links to see the results of differences in the viewing experience: I started with grabbing as well as opening up this blog.  The blogger video upload speed is super slow, and after the first try I saw the size was too small anyway. However it seems possible to embed video right in the blog, I have to try later and see what size it is possible to get, perhaps uploading the videos to one of the below sites and still view them here is the answer.

[EDIT: it is now happening at the main website here.]

First dedicated video site tried was it still is my favorite as they let you control the look of interface colors. It is wonderful how one video plays right after the other without you having to click on the next one. All the clips becomes an uninterrupted flow. You can format your own .flv files or they preserve the original file upload on another link

Vimeo seems cool, haven't gone deep enough there yet, might be better for larger videos.

Dailymotion was just too small of a video frame for my taste. 

Although I knew that YouTube and MySpace would have too small videos as well I wanted to cover it all and discovered a nice surprise in the clever Facebook, it has a clean interface and a nice large video feature (although you must be logged in to view). These sites might become interesting for the strength of their networks, so if you have your own presence and think that an "add" is useful, by all means.

To complete this process and open up to include forum members feedback these two threads were started at DVXUSER  and REDUSER. As a result of posting there I remembered Vimeo and learned about Dailymotion after only two days, thanks "NoFatClips". If anybody has any trouble viewing any of these sites or has a preference, please place a comment here or post in one of the above threads.

Original 720x300 H.264 37MB video here. (right click and save)

If you are going to upload a lot, my buddy Steve taught me that if you are on a Mac and want to know how fast your files are uploading you can install menumeters handy for other stuff as well.

[end geek warning]

Friday, March 14, 2008

Howard as Catalyst

How did this whole blog thing start?

Well, a little over a week ago I sat with a bunch of friends having dinner at Yaffa Cafe in East Village. As always we talked about our favorite films, media, creativity and such, and for some reason I decided to get real honest and talk about my creative constipation. I shortened it a little because truly it is a long sad story about ambivalence, ambiguity, fear of both failure and success, stage fright, perfectionism, and all other hindrances that come to creative people. 

Don't take me wrong, I can work easily under pressure when I have an assignment, just tell me what you need, and I will find a way to create those images or movies for you. No problem there; sure I will get a little nervous about the results, but there is a deadline, so there is no time to waste and all energy has to go toward getting the best shoot.

But give me a couple of days off and I will spend most of my time hanging out with friends that also have a couple of days off, or I'll spend hours and hours checking up on the latest camera tech stuff on my favorite forums and blogs. (Am I the only one here... Backgammon anyone?) What I don't do is keep working on my half cooked ideas, abandoned short films, many technical and creative tests, or polish on the couple of scripts i have in various shapes. It has been a struggle to figure out how to keep moving forward. 

Then Howard Said:

All you have to do is take the first step, you will know if it is the right one because of what happens next.

I have heard words like that before, but something clicked in me right then and there. You mean I don't have to wait until an entire script is polished perfect and in its seventh approved draft to be ready to start doing something. To me it was intriguing, like a good detective flick but in real life. And I did kind of know right away what the next right move would be.

It was all about an Anamorphic Lens.

I have a video camera. It is not a RED or a GENESIS or a VIPER, or even a SI 2K or HVX200 or the new FX1. It is the humbly priced Canon A1. However this camera is an amazing machine for the money. It shoots HDV with an amazing quality of those images. To me, they looked sharper and seemed to have more dynamic range than anything out there under $10K at the time when it was bought last summer. 

The camera was bought on a limited budget for the production of a fishing industry movie. Two of us were going to be stuck on Russian fishing ships way north next to Greenland for days waiting for the catch, then we would have long interview scenes, go into humid fish processing plants and cold storage rooms etc. These conditions left out any P2 solution as that would be too much about changing cards. The budget could handle the Canon with a Firestore. (I thank the clients deeply as they let me keep the camera in exchange for some editing in a scrambled together post production suite in Hong Kong)

It was during this editing that it became clear that even though it is already the HD format and everything looked great on the monitors blown up full, it wasn't until my friend Tore suggested to put the black letterbox bars that we got the great Aaaahh. You can check the industrial video here.

[geek warning]

HDV resolution is 1080 pixels high by 1440 pixels wide stretched to look like 1920 to fit into HD television format. With black bars on top and bottom the effective resolution in this case would leave 1440 by 820-800 depending on aspect ratio. 

I had seen somebody putting an anamorphic lens adapter on the HV10 on some forum, and started thinking that there might be something that fits the Canon A1 with its 72mm lens diameter. There is,it is the AG LA7200 made for the Panasonic DVX100 to convert standard definition 4:3 to 16:9.

When you put this lens on top of an HDV camera it pushes the 1440 pixels out to 2560. And if you then bring this down to 2K 2048 or HD 1920 would the bicubic resizing pick up some of the lost sharpness of the horizontal 1440 resolution from the extra resolution in squeezing the vertical resolution. 

Would it be sharp enough, or more importantly, does the Anamorphic lens adapter make the images look cool?

[end geek warning]

I didn't know and I wanted to know. This became the "first step" I needed to take.

Called up B&H and yes, they had a used one, and yes, I could come in and bring my camera and make a test there in the store. When I stood there  and began recording, all hooked up with cameras and cables at the counter the guy said that since it was a used lens, I could do a proper test by buying it and then return it within two weeks if I didn't like the results. 

Here is where that "what happens next thing"... happens.

Just as I came out of the store, I ran into this guy Jonathan. For months I have talked to him about beeing a possible guy to include in one of the half cooked projects. We had scheduled to meet and do some kind of film test and experiment together, but it just never happened. Here he was on a job and was running to get some solvent from the hardware store right across the street from B&H.

So in the five minutes that we had, we were able to both make a fast screen test to get to know if he liked being in front of the camera, and also see if the lens ended up creating a cool look. The lens was dirty on the inside and created some spots on the test, but you can see the interesting glare effects and the distortion towards the edges. Me like, went back and got a new one after checking it out for a couple of days. You can check out the test here.

Fantastic, I had done both the first and the next step in only a couple of hours.

Thank You Howard

Putting up the blog and posting the videos naturally followed one step at a time after that, tech stuff about that may be covered in a later post. And Yes, I still have only a very vague idea where this project is going, but I am having fun,blogging, shooting stuff, posting videos and working gradually like this.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Pixelated Anamorphic

Pixelated is simply: visible as a pattern of pixels. 
More info about pixelation or pixelization.

The second definition is of course more interesting: bewildered, confused, slightly insane.

An Anamorphic  lens produces: unequal magnifications along two axis perpendicular to each other. More info about the anamorphic format here.

Again the second definition is way more fascinating: gradual evolution from one type of organism to another.