Tagfilm

Google’s Visual Pattern Matching

DeepDream – a code example for visualizing Neural Networks

via Gizmodo article on DeepDream

Journey through the layers of the mind from Memo Akten on Vimeo.

Into Eternity – Deep Nuclear Storage Facility “Onkalo”

How could the Fukashima disaster have been avoided?  We have solutions, though we’re currently sitting around with a world covered in temporary storage sites.

Watch this warning to humans 100,000 years in the future about a storage facility that is currently being built, but won’t be finished for a few more decades. Building the Gateway to Hades for the generations to come.

ONKALOeng

 

http://www.hulu.com/watch/211739

Samsara Looks… Stunning

SAMSARA Theatrical Trailer from Baraka & Samsara on Vimeo.

Have you seen Baraka?

There is no question of whether or not I will see this film. However, it appears that I will have the opportunity to see this in the theater, one night only, on Dec 3rd, in Detroit.

Thanks to Joseph Gilland for the heads up.

“Cloud Atlas” – Reading Book Before Film

I received goose-bumps no less than 3 times during the newly released trailer for Cloud Atlas, being directed by the Wochowski Brothers (“The Matrix”) and Tom Tykwer (“Run Lola Run”). Yeah, 3 directors. Here’s a link to the trailer and commentary.

Last month, I was in a tea shop where someone noticed me looking at this book on the shelf. They immediately started telling me about the story, which is of connectedness that stretches from the past and into the far future. I was allowed to borrow the book to read… but haven’t started it yet.

Today I finished two books I was in the process of reading… both books dealing with the subconscious.  My eyes were exhausted, and I promptly passed out. After my nap, I woke up to see this trailer at the top of my FB feed.

I *think* today would be a good day to start reading Cloud Atlas.

P.S.   I even I loved the Wochowski brother’s Speed Racer movie.

Not Obtaining One of These Bottles is Inconceivable

 

U-Flycam – Steadicam

About a month ago I purchased a steadicam from Ebay called the U-Flycam. This think is almost 1/10th the cost of most steadicam units, though you do get what you pay for.

For general running around, it works pretty well, but the more I use it, the more I am beginning to realize how many things can be improved. Here are some ideas that other Youtube users have.

First thing I noted was the cheap construction of the mounting device for the camera. Spokes me out a little bit, as I can picture this lever just breaking off. This guy just replaced the whole mounting unit with a quick release plate from Cullman.

I spent a few hours today trying to get my unit balanced with my Canon 60D. The big issue is that my camera is too light. I’ve used bolts and wing nuts in order to add weights to the top, but they are too close to the center pivot. This guy moved the center of gravity up, by raising the camera with a block of wood.

Besides the weights, I also noticed that the universal joint is pretty cheaply made and although one axis can be adjusted, the other axis cannot. The pivot is slightly off, and since this is very close to the balancing center, even a few millimeters throws it off. So, for example, even if it’s balanced, when I twist the handle by turning, every get’s wonky again. I guess I should consider replacing the u-joint with something better, like one of these babies. Or, I could just follow this guy’s DIY handle assembly. Wait a minute, I want to use a gimbal, not a universal joint.

$100 for the U-Flycam, plus $40 shipping, $6 for misc bolts, plus probably another $50 – $100 for more parts to get this rig working the way I’d like. Or, I could just invested a few thousand in this full body unit. HAH! Oh, but this reminds me that I need to find a way to control the sled. Or get all steampunk and build a suit myself from PVC piping like this DIY project.

Besides the hours of playing around, I did come across a reminder to make sure and get as fast a shutter as I can get, to reduce motion blur, assuming that is the look I am going for.

The Hunger Games

I just keep wishing I could think of a way to show them that they don’t own me. If I die, I wanna still be me.

I just can’t afford to think like that.

LAIKA’s ParaNorman Trailer

From the creator’s of Coraline, LAIKA presents ParaNorman. Looks like this could have benefited from a Halloween release. Oh well. It seems that we’ll have to wait till August.

North By Northeast Festival

I was unaware of what was going on, till it was almost over. This past week was the annual North By Northeast Music & Film Festival…    and Conference.

On Thursday I went to a show that started at midnight and ended at a 4am?  A friend of mine recommended I join her to see Noah Pred, who did not disappoint. There’s plenty of music being labeled, “Tech House”… and I’m really liking the sound of much of what I’ve heard…  especially when it stays tribal and funky.  I’m tempted to call it “Minimal House”.

On Saturday I was taking a rail car  into downtown and disembarked when we hit a diversion point.  I soon walked past a huge line of Lady Gaga fans who were waiting for hear arrival. In Dundas Square, I was with thousands watching Devo playing on a big screen.  Large, free (with donation) bottles of energy drink were being consumed by many.  Even ran into , complete with illuminated logo t-shirts. Plus, all week long, many venues received a special alteration to their liquor licenses…    they could serve till 4am???

On a different, but similar note…  Sunday night was my first experience of Cherry Beach. Other than Tuesday night’s in Whistler, BC…  I haven’t seen this many people rock it out on a School Night in a long time.  What?  You say this is EVERY Sunday?  Oooh boy.

Richard Williams – Animator / Director

Working in the animation industry, it’s almost impossible to not have heard of Richard Williams. His Animator’s Survival Kit is a bible for most character animators. Every studio that I have worked at, had at least a half dozen copied floating around. A few years ago, Richard also made his live lectures available on DVD. The price is now down to just under $1000 USD. Wiki says that this animator/director was born in Toronto, Canada in 1933.

Richard Williams is best known as the director of Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Apparently, Williams had also directed 3/4 of the Raggedy Ann & Andy, “A Musical Adventure“. Here’s a great clip of the iconic dolls floating around in a living lake of sugar, via Scribble Junkies.


According to the Scribble Junkies thread, the primary animator for this shot was Emery Hawkins.

If you liked that, I recommend checking out Michael Sporn’s blog, where you can find pages and pages of behind the scene materials, including the original timing sheets. There is also a “The Animated Raggedy Ann and Andy: An Intimate Look at the Art of Animation Its History, Techniques, and Artists” book, that sounds like a good collector’s item.

Finally, it’s difficult to talk about Richard Williams without mentioning his film, The Thief and the Cobbler. If you appreciate his work, I recommend taking 2 hours to see the mostly finished Recobbled Cut“, which is available, in it’s entirety on Youtube.

Taking Video w/ Digital SLR Cameras

I am upgrading my DSLR for video.
A pleasant situation occurred that put me in possession of a Nikon D300. I LOVE this camera, but it’s making me a bit of a snob when it comes to image quality. Please keep in mind that I am NOT a professional photographer, but I can recognise washed out colors and artifacting when I see it. This camera has neither.

So that brings me to the point of this little post. I currently have a JVC Everio HD camcorder and a Sony MiniDV. I love my Sony because it is feature rich (i.e. time lapse video & night vision) and has been very reliable till recently. Since I’m working with tape, it sometimes gives me some digital artifacts. Also, due to the mechanical moving parts, it’s not as light as my JVC and the battery life is about 1/5th that of modern camcorders.

I’m seriously thinking about purchasing a DSLR that takes digital video. Some key things that I am focusing on is the quality of video taken in low lighting conditions, weight, price and the severity of rolling shutter.

Big questions I’m asking myself is do I want to consolidate? Can I find a single camera that would replace my Nikon D300 camera, my JVC and Sony camcorders? Something that takes pictures as good as my D300 (“good enough”), yet can record video and be relatively light weight.

The D5000 has video capabilities and seems very comparable to the D300, though is about half the price ($700). This article compares the ISO quality of the Nikon cameras. From what I can see, the D5000 is approaching “good enough”.

This article
compares the the latest offerings from Canon, including video examples of the rolling shutter. They recommend the Canon 7d ($1500 USD) for those on a budget. Gizmodo also has a good articles showing the 7d’s capabilities.

Comparision
The Canon 7d and the Nikon D300 are both around 2 lbs. The D5000 is about 1.25 pounds.

This forum thread seems to be doing a great job of doing a comparison breakdown of the Canon 7d vs the Nikon D300.

A perfect example of rolling shutter. Notice the vertical lines bending as the camera moves side to side?

What about video on the cameras vs the camcorders? Do the camcorders also suffer from rolling shutter? Most do not. Most camcorders use CCD sensors (Charge-Coupled Devices), while digital cameras, including the famous Red cam, use CMOS sensors. According to Wikipedia, “CCDs use what is referred to as global shutters which take a single snapshot representing a point of time and do not suffer from these motion artifacts.” Therefore, camcorders using CCDs don’t suffer from this bendy rolling shutter effect.

Conclusion
I’m going to hang onto my D300 and look into purchasing a better camcorder that will be a good substitute for my JVC and Sony. This article discusses how I can record video from my D300 using an attached PC.

*Update*
I decided to purchase a Canon 60D for video and have sold my D300. I have manual lenses for my Canon for video and everything is looking great. The manual focus is helping train my imperfect eyes as well as building respect for nice “glass”. The rolling shutter effect has not caused me any issues with my 3D tracking using Syntheyes, so far. A review of my Canon D60 is overdue.

Vancouver International Film Festival

VancouverFilmFest2010_sm

The last two weeks have been pretty crazy. Back to work in a studio cubical and also attended the Vancouver International Film Festival.

I started everything off with Monsters, and ended if off with the beautiful, French, somewhat depressing The Illusionist. In total I saw 28 films.

  1. Monsters
  2. Waste Land (trash is art!)
  3. Cold Fish (violently disturbing)
  4. R U There? (yes, I am… I’m just sleeping)
  5. An Ecology of Mind (documentary on the amazing system theories of Gregory Bateson)
  6. Crossing the Mountain (…zzzZZZ)
  7. David Wants to Fly (documentary on David Lynch and his association w/ Transcendental Meditation)
  8. Tree (needed a dose of good drama)
  9. Philosophies of Life (short film collection that I didn’t have the patience to finish)
  10. Turn It Loose (breakdancing!)
  11. 13 Assassins (live action version Ninja Scroll?)
  12. Secrets of the Tribe (anthropologists decimating each other’s reputations)
  13. Drummer’s Dream (luckily they were selling copies on DVD at the door)
  14. The Man from Nowhere (South Korean action flick w/ a Korean version of Keanu Reeves)
  15. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (still trying to “get it”, but the ghost monkeys were sweet)
  16. Nénette (I ♥ orangutans)
  17. Guido Superstar (love them poop gags)
  18. Into Eternity (now one of my fav documentaries)
  19. Cell 211 (violently beautiful)
  20. Rubber (the killer tire could be a cult classic)
  21. Schooling the World: The White Man’s Last Burden (spreading the gospel without thinking of the consequences)
  22. Aftershock (wicked earthquake scene followed by Hollywood inspired drama)
  23. Cities on Speed (documentaries where the titles say it all, “Bogotá Change” & “Mumbai Disconnected”)
  24. When the Devil Knocks (documentary on a woman with multiple personalities)
  25. Armadillo (Danish film on the Afgan war)
  26. The Repeaters (Groundhog day with 3 addicts)
  27. Plug & Pray (I ♥ Joseph Weizenbaum)
  28. The Illusionist (French animation from creators of Triplets of Bellville

 

How to Survive?

1) Bring a water bottle & snacks. You will be downtown all day long, surrounded by Starbucks, McDonalds and $2 pizza slices. Considering you’ll be sitting on your butt all day long, just how much torture do you want your body to endure?

2) Sharpie for the marking up of your schedule.

3) Learn to live without your phone for a few hours. I was amazed at how insistent the staff were in having the audience turn off their phones. I was even more amazed at how difficult it was for us to follow this suggestion. I must say, I only pulled out my phone a couple times to quickly check the time. I swear!

4) Networking. In line I met tons of people that made me regret not having a business card, though we all had smartphones so the problem was easily solved. meeting people in line was also a great way to get suggestions on films. If it wasn’t for the texts from my new friend Michael, I would have missed 13 Assassins, and that would have been tragic.

Speaking of “meeting people”, I finally met my doppelganger. According to Michael Hayward, there may be potential for me playing a younger version of Wallace Shawn (Princess Bride) in his autobiographical documentary.

2010-10-06_16-59-24_734_Vancouver

Vancouver International Film Festival

My Viff survival kit (minus the bag n peanuts)

The last two weeks have been pretty crazy. Back to work in a studio cubical and also attended the Vancouver International Film Festival.

I started everything off with Monsters, and ended if off with the beautiful, French, somewhat depressing The Illusionist. In total I saw 28 films.

  1. Monsters
  2. Waste Land (trash is art!)
  3. Cold Fish (violently disturbing)
  4. R U There? (yes, I am… I’m just sleeping)
  5. An Ecology of Mind (documentary on the amazing system theories of Gregory Bateson)
  6. Crossing the Mountain (…zzzZZZ)
  7. David Wants to Fly (documentary on David Lynch and his association w/ Transcendental Meditation)
  8. Tree (needed a dose of good drama)
  9. Philosophies of Life (short film collection that I didn’t have the patience to finish)
  10. Turn It Loose (breakdancing!)
  11. 13 Assassins (live action version Ninja Scroll?)
  12. Secrets of the Tribe (anthropologists decimating each other’s reputations)
  13. Drummer’s Dream (luckily they were selling copies on DVD at the door)
  14. The Man from Nowhere (South Korean action flick w/ a Korean version of Keanu Reeves)
  15. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (still trying to “get it”, but the ghost monkeys were sweet)
  16. Nénette (I ♥ orangutans)
  17. Guido Superstar (love them poop gags)
  18. Into Eternity (now one of my fav documentaries)
  19. Cell 211 (violently beautiful)
  20. Rubber (the killer tire could be a cult classic)
  21. Schooling the World: The White Man’s Last Burden (spreading the gospel without thinking of the consequences)
  22. Aftershock (wicked earthquake scene followed by Hollywood inspired drama)
  23. Cities on Speed (documentaries where the titles say it all, “Bogotá Change” & “Mumbai Disconnected”)
  24. When the Devil Knocks (documentary on a woman with multiple personalities)
  25. Armadillo (Danish film on the Afgan war)
  26. The Repeaters (Groundhog day with 3 addicts)
  27. Plug & Pray (I ♥ Joseph Weizenbaum)
  28. The Illusionist (French animation from creators of Triplets of Bellville

How to Survive?

1) Bring a water bottle & snacks. You will be downtown all day long, surrounded by Starbucks, McDonalds and $2 pizza slices. Considering you’ll be sitting on your butt all day long, just how much torture do you want your body to endure?

2) Sharpie for the marking up of your schedule.

3) Learn to live without your phone for a few hours. I was amazed at how insistent the staff were in having the audience turn off their phones. I was even more amazed at how difficult it was for us to follow this suggestion. I must say, I only pulled out my phone a couple times to quickly check the time. I swear!

4) Networking. In line I met tons of people that made me regret not having a business card, though we all had smartphones so the problem was easily solved. meeting people in line was also a great way to get suggestions on films. If it wasn’t for the texts from my new friend Michael, I would have missed 13 Assassins, and that would have been tragic.

Speaking of “meeting people”, I finally met my doppelganger. According to Michael Hayward, there may be potential for me playing a younger version of Wallace Shawn (Princess Bride) in his autobiographical documentary.

When the Devil Knocks

In the documentary, When the Devil Knocks, Hilary is one of 6 personalities (referred to as “alters”). As stated at the beginning, the alters were created in order to help Hilary survive by taking over in times of trauma. A unique alter was created to deal with each unique traumatic situation. For example, a young boy alter took control when it was necessary to befriend her abuser, who promised to teach her/him how to shoot a 12 gauge shotgun. A sad young girl alter was born to carry the burden of remembering and dealing with the actual events of abuse. The eldest 15 year old girl alter, Mary, came into power as a source of strength and/or control.
Though the film only showcases 5 of the alters, there were 35 that Hilary had to share her life with. Apparently there were many abusers throughout her life, which only fragmented her life even more.

Hilary and her therapist at the Empire Granville 7 theaterI had shown up to the theater about 8 minutes late, though they had some problems with the projector, thus forcing them to restart the film from the start (lucky me!). The only seats available were in the very front left of the theater. After the film had finished, I noticed everyone standing, turning and applauding. The film maker, Hilary, her life partner and therapist were in attendance! They set up the mic stand just in front of me (I had to move my bag so they had enough room).

Many interesting questions were asked, all of which were very different from the typical Q&A I am used to hearing.
In the film, I had noticed that whenever Hilary let one of her alters take over, they would usually knock or carefully take off her glasses. During the Q&A, I had asked, “Typically we are used to seeing characters in films take off their glasses as they took on different personalities. This, we usually assume, is for dramatic effect. However, in your case, why did the different alters take off your glasses? Did each personality have it’s own prescription?.” Hilary replied, “Yes, all my personalities had different prescriptions. Some were very uncomfortable with glasses altogether, and other alters had requested specific prescriptions that were different from my own.” I had asked if they had ever done any actual in-office testing and she said that they had actually intended to, but never got around to it. This provides me with more evidence showing that the mind is a larger factor on the eyes than we realize.

I found this very interesting, as I’ve read about cases where traumatic events would cause problems for the eyes, but only at a distance that is similar to the one when the original traumatic event was experienced. For example, there was a story of a woman who witnessed the death of a loved one at 10 feet. She could see closer than 10 feet, and further than 10 feet, but she could not focus on objects at exactly 10 feet.

I would have also liked to have queried more into other physical attributes, such as back or neck pain, as a friend of mine brought these types of symptoms to my attention. For example, a message that releases physical tension also releases or reveals emotional stress.

I felt the documentary was interesting, especially in how it made me look inward on how I deal with stressful situations. Though it’s difficult to say that I understand what she went through, a small piece of me can relate to the way the mind deals with trauma.

Budget Film Making with Gareth Edwards

A month back I was forwarded an interview with Gareth Edwards, the director of Monsters. In the interview he talks about making a feature film on a small budget. I haven’t yet found out the exact budget, but the $15,000 number has been thrown around.  I’ll spare my opinions on this exact number as there’s already plenty of debate that can be found online. In any case, I certainly believe it could have been pulled off for under $100k, which is still way cheaper than most films of this quality.

Gareth seems to have gained much of his visual FX experience while working for the BBC.  For example, while working on Attila the Hun, he locked the camera and used cycled animations from live footage in order to fill a battlefield with virtual cast of millions. Smart time-saving moves, for sure.

According to this interview, prior to Monsters, Gareth was having trouble making money as a director and he figured it was time to jump in and make a film on his own. He knew the gamble of going off on his own, but he says, “If you always put things off till it’s perfect, you’ll never do anything.”  Jumping in and “pissing” himself was what he knew he needed to do to progress his career. He feels like everything he had done as a director for hire was preparing him for this moment of creative freedom. The 48 Hour Sci-Fi-London Film Challenge was exactly what he needed to prove what he could do.

Gareth Edwards
Uploaded by SFLTV. – Classic TV and last night’s shows, online.

I’ve heard a quote from George Lucas, where he stated that his goal was to use computer graphics in order to put the paintbrush into the director’s hands. Gareth seems to agree with this dream…  and has apparently executed it, with the help of a 35mm adapter for his video camera and a laptop or two.  Gareth designed the creature himself, with thousands of sketches over the course of a year.  The cast consisted of himself, two actors (who were soon married, after shooting the film), two line producers and a sound guy. For the rest of the cast, he would film random citizens in the cities he visited, including his assigned armed bodyguards in Mexico.

First there was Neil Blomkamp’s successful District 9, and now there’s Gareth Edwards. Both are convincing me that I have to start putting some time into learning compositing. Visual effects compositing is the final line where the 2D image is created and the more you can avoid time-consuming 3D, the better.

Are you wishing you hadn’t missed the showing of the film? Don’t stress!! The Vancouver International Film Festival has another showing on Thursday, October 14th at 11am. However, you had better act quick and request that day off work before someone else does. 😉

My opinions on the film?  It’s a nice jaunt through central america while being chased by giant octupi. It reminded of Romancing the Stone, with more focus on the romancing. The effects range from subtle to not-so subtle. I enjoyed the film, as did everyone around me. Don’t worry, I didn’t ruin anything you won’t learn in the first 5 minutes of the film.

My VIFF Screenings Calendar

Going to do what I can to catch these films.

Toy Story 3-D in IMAX

Who goes to see a midnight sneak showing of a 3D animated family movie?

Me, myself and I.

I was just driving around and saw the midnight showing. I couldn’t resist. Can Pixar do 3 in a row?  I’m think so.

Light Value Drawing Exercises

Travis recommended I try this drawing exercise, where you quickly sketch the light values of shots in a movie.  Pick a movie (he picked Orson Well’s “Jane Eyre”). We then found shots that were interesting and paused the movie.  Finally, we spend a minute or two (less time the better) and just blob down the values. This also really helps get a feel for composition.

I remember Matt telling me how to better balance my line weights and get good values in my drawings by squinting.

This was a great exercise that gives me a greater appreciation for lighting composition, especially black & white film.

Here’s the two pages that I sketched out. See if you can find the following 2 shots in my two pages of sketches.

Dragonlance Chronicles

Donating a copy of the Dragonlance Chronicles to our studio library. In my search for images, I discovered that the first book was made into an animated movie, back in 2007. Can’t believe I hadn’t heard of it.

The Monk and The Fish

A classically animated short created by Michael Dudok De Wit. Simple yet beautiful. Powerful use of the music to tell the story. If you like this short and can handle seeing something a little more simple, Father & Daughter is also worth checking out.

Thanks to Des Duggan for getting me to check this out.

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