Old Tropes

You Had to be There

November 4, 2011

In January of 2010, I attended Werner Herzog’s first Rogue Film School. Nothing I can tell you in prose will make sense. I’ll just sound grandiose and a bit ridiculous. Prose is a secondary medium, lacking the primal impact of hearing Herzog’s voice and feeling the air move around his conviction. I even found it almost impossible to take notes. Not because the experience was rambling, but because I already knew many of the things he said and yet discovered them all over again.

So I’ll just leave you with select quotes and thoughts from each day. Reading this again, it all rings true all over again; not that I agree with everything, but that he’s a living example of conviction and the pursuit of truth in his art.

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Dark Knight of the Soul

October 13, 2011

Dark Knight of the Soul - CoverI recently completed a challenge. It was one of those “ooh! that’s a great idea!” challenges that seemed eminently doable at the time.

Here’s the assignment:

  • SUBJECT: Comics.
  • LENGTH: A minimum of 2 pages. Panel to panel continuity. No strips, gags, or spots.
  • PAGE SIZE: Standard comic size: 6.625 x 10.25 inches.

Turns out that meta commentary as a subject is deceptively difficult. I didn't want to write something boring and philosophical, I wanted something entertaining that worked on two levels. And I wanted it to be very, very comic-booky; unabashedly over the top.

I hope you enjoy it. Note: one panel is slightly NSFW.

Download the PDF

Impending Dawn

August 19, 2011

I’m partial to Philip Bloom’s perspective on test videos: don’t test a particular feature of your camera, try to make something with it. So I set out to do exactly that.

I wanted a concept that would require significant effort with FCP X, without third-party plugins or external FX. One morning, I was driving to work and I used my iPhone to record part of the trip, ending up on the sideview mirror. That view touched it off. A few more trips later and I had enough footage to work with.

In FCP X, audio is much easier to deal with than in FCP 7, since it stays with the video portion of each clip. No more overwriting audio by moving a clip to a different track. Video is more of a mixed bag. The trackless editing environment is a challenge to work with when things start getting complicated. Anything more complicated than the above would require quite a bit of compound clips, which are the equivalent of grouping in a graphics program.

On the whole, though, it was a pleasant experience, and I can see myself using FCP X more in the future.

Timelapse Tips

July 25, 2011

I just completed a day-long timelapse in Boulder, Colorado. I thought I’d share a few tips I learned along the way.

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A Dragon Goes to School

June 11, 2011

A Dragon Goes to School (thumbnail)This year, I taught art in my youngest daughter’s second-grade class. Taught? Kinda. More like I herded cats toward making marks on paper.

We “did art” for 45 minutes every Friday. That’s right, a timeless activity crammed into 45 minutes. In case you haven’t tried it yourself, it’s very difficult to do interesting and satisfying art projects in 45 minutes. And on top of that, I wanted to get across to the kids the idea that it takes time and effort to do something worthwhile.

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Low Tech Art

April 6, 2011

Canon makes digital cameras that pack 22 million pixels into each shot. Our computers today are pure magic compared to a mere 10 years ago. Everyone and everything is instantly and effortlessly connected in a high technology web of staggering complexity.

So why is it that masters do such amazing things with such primitive technology?

Andrei Tarkovsky was a Soviet and Russian filmmaker who died in 1986. The pinnacle of camera technology at the time he died was the Canon F-1.

Someone gave him a Polaroid camera, and he used it often. To make Art.

The Artist's Philosophy

January 5, 2011

Francis Ford Coppola recently gave an interview, and in characteristic fashion, uttered several quotes worthy of the ages.

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You might as well live

December 22, 2010

Otto Rank, the great psychologist and pupil of Freud, considered artists to be successful Neurotics, and neurosis to be failed art. In essence, Artists are people with problems who happen to use art as a coping strategy. Conversely, Neurotics are people with problems who have no coping strategy.

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“Anansi’s gift sent his insides somewhere and left the rest of him standing there. He folded up like a pillowcase and the Elephant Bird caught me as I fell,” said Ayana, the village’s newest Griot. She had been made a Griot by Kembe, who the village had asked to replace Nganga.

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The two-hundred-foot-tall Nganga approached the village, his footsteps shaking the ground. The villagers stumbled out of their huts, still in their night clothes. It was the same throughout the village. Everyone would look up, scream and run.

Nganga laughed a deep, dark, scary laugh. “You’re listening now,” he shouted, lifting his foot to stomp a hut.

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Brad Brizendine