A sample of my VFX work. Made using Maya, After Effects, Boujou and several other tools (including Flash). My passion here is dynamics. I love organic movement.
Now that I have some of this WordPress stuff figured out... I should follow up on my "Slusho Zoom" post from earlier. My video was chosen as one of the top five entries in the competition! That means:
Freakin' sweet laptop! It also means I need to find a home for my "old" one, which really isn't that old. They have comparable features, but the Alienware wins. When rendering side-by-side, the Slusho! laptop rendered every super complex 3D frame a full minute faster. That doesn't sound like a lot, but consider that one second is 24 of said frames and that a minute would be 1440... were talking a full day!
I should also post my new demo reel:
Which I made with my new laptop. It's my first official demo reel, so I'm excited. Makes me feel "professional" for once...I have more catching up to do, but this will do for now.
REPOSTED WITH MY SITE RELAUNCH... This is a short film that I originally shot on 16mm. It is my first "narrative" film (well, apart from "Exploding Science Lab III" from my early days as a filmmaker). The film was shot in New York State at the end of 2003 and didn't get finished until just recently (though a rough copy of it played in the Short Film Corner at the Cannes Festival Market in 2004). The film stars Perry Daniel and was shot by Carl Fuermann (and hey, this one has sound!)
The above link takes you to the IFC Media Lab. If you like it, give me a vote. If not... well, maybe just make a graceful exit (don't "single-star" me- I'm beggin' ya! Think of the ducks!)
If you'd rather not deal with the stress (or you are a chronic "single-starrer"), but would still like to see the film, go on over to Snowbird on blip.tv where it plays just the same!
Special Features Section: Perry is sitting in front of the reservoir that supplies New York City with its drinking water. Needless to say, when the sun went down we were harassed by both the local Police and the Feds for our "suspicious" activities! On top of all of this, it turned out that the car we had borrowed from a friend was recorded as having been impounded but never released. Translation: as far as they were concerned, we were driving a stolen car and up to no good. Oh, and they also suspected that our bottle of water was actually a bottle of vodka (Absolut and Smart Water have similar bottle designs). We managed to clear everything up, though. The Police were actually very friendly and let us finish filming- with a stern warning that if we crossed over the guardrail, they would "turn us over" to the Feds!
This is the first in a four-part series of films dedicated to legendary filmmaker and friend, Stan Brakhage. It is also dedicated to a group of filmmakers with whom I shared orbit around the massive scope of Brakhage's work.
This has been the "audience favorite" of my works so far- at least, it has traveled around the world to all sorts of festivals and gotten great feedback (though the New York Times called it both one of the "most ambitious" films in its program as well as "relentlessly abstract." I'm not quite sure how to take the latter, but every artist knows that "ambitious" feels like a blow-off. I digress...)
As such, I am a bit reluctant to post it online, where it will be seen at 1/100th of its intended size, with resampled sound and dropped frames. Still, I'm reaching out into the volgosphere! It will be traveling around the country soon, so perhaps it might inspire a few souls to go see it when it comes to town (more details as they become available).
It is a 16mm sound film that imagines the icy hatched-marked world of Jupiter's moon, Europa. The soundtrack consists of recordings from several probes that visited the moon (specifically, the "sounds" are coming from the atmosphere of Jupiter), as well as whale songs- an imagining of the possible life beneath the icy surface. The imagery combines hand-painted liquid crystals and Super-8mm footage from a local aquarium (hooray for (now extinct) Kodachrome).
I love New York. I wish I could live there again, but I know better. Living in that city really took its toll on me. I might live there if I didn't have to make a living there, but as it stands right now, that's not happening. A friend of mine had put the movie "Ghostbusters" in my head, so I was taking pictures of the various places in the film:
I arrived at the festival office to collect my credentials, hoping to see a film or two (because, you know, film festival). It turned out that I wouldn't be able to see most of the feature films. The films that were playing over the weekend we were there were the so-called "popular" films, with stars like Nicole Kidman: Oh, wait. What? Was that actually Nicole Kidman? Gee, I don't know, let's get a closer look:
Why, I think that was, in fact, her. Better look again, just to make sure. Okay, these pictures kind of suck. I mean, I think the bluriness is kind of cool, but not when you're trying to prove someone's identity. That was Nicole, just take my word for it (yeah, we're on a first-name basis now because she walked in front of me). Yes, she is beautiful in real life. Also, she smells like roses. No, not like rose perfume, but like a bouquet of roses. It was a little surreal.
Earlier, I had to squeeze by John Turturro on my way out the door (who does not smell like roses). We had not reached the level of fame required to stay in the press room for the photo ops. I said, "screw that" and made our own little photo op:
And then we were really kicked out.
The press conference was for Noah Baumbach's new film "Margot at the Wedding," starring, obviously, Nicole Kidman and John Turturro, but also Jack Black (who wasn't there, but I've already "met" him, so whatever), Flora Cross (of "Bee Season," which was an excellent movie based on an even excellenter* book), and Jennifer Jason Leigh. There are others, I'm sure, but I didn't see the film, so I don't know much about it other than what was posted there. I'm sorry I missed it at the festival, but I'm looking forward to it.
Incidentally, Jennifer Jason Leigh and I must have similar-looking hair. Perhaps we even look a bit alike. When I exited the building, there was a brief moment of excitement resulting in a couple of pictures, but that passed as soon as it was determined that I was no one. And I KNOW they didn't think that I was Nicole Kidman- the only other famous female at the conference.
In all, quite a first day in the City!
*new, real, legitimate word
I'm proud to announce that my short film series "The Counter Girl Trilogy" is being included in this year's official selection at the New York Film Festival. This is its U.S. debut (it's world debut was in London a little over a year ago). It will be included in the "Views from the Avant-Garde" series in a program called "Bits and Pieces (Make up to Break Up)." The screening is at 6:15 pm on Sunday, October 7th at the Lincoln Center (Walter Reade Theatre) and I couldn't be happier with the company in which it will be shown! Some links are below:
I've had the honor of seeing my films on this enormous screen before, so I'm really looking forward to being there. Also, due to the fact that Kodachrome has been discontinued, this might be one of my last Kodachrome prints!
Polymer was a sort of chain mail/penpal film. Carl Fuermann and I began sending a high-resolution image back and forth, each one modifying it before returning it to the other. We then used each image as a frame of film and recorded it out to 16mm film. It's only 30 seconds long, so make sure you are paying attention! When it played at the New York Film Festival, the lights hadn't even dimmed fully before the film was over
This second part consists of about 7200 16mm frames of the film "Amelie" (a more "professional" romantic fairytale view of Paris, but a parallel one). Each frame was cut out, stacked in order, placed in bundles of 24, labeled and then individually re-pasted (in order) on strips of 35mm film that had been flashed with colored lights and scratched. These strips hung in my lab for two days while the glue dried, then they were spliced together to form the complete five minute film below.
This film celebrated an anniversary of sorts this last Saturday. I participated, in my way, in my friend's annual all-night meditation. I stayed up until 5:00 AM cutting my 16mm frames in my own quasi-meditation.
This was a labor of love. I say that for many reasons- romantic, obsessive, blind, sentimental- but I will leave out the personal reasons and focus on the technical for now! I split this film into two parts and I'm sharing them one at a time. It would be too long, otherwise. Part One (below) consists of Super-8mm footage I shot in Paris. Part Two will eventually be above this one. I'm not fond of this method of blogging organization, by the way. It gets quite annoying when one wants to continue a thought at a later time and can't do so fluidly without directing readers to the post just below it. It's almost like starting a book with the last chapter and asking the reader to skip to the end and read from the back. I digress.
The film is a reflection on romance. The setting is Paris (bien sûr). This first part is a fairytale daydream view of the City of Lights- complete with Eifel Tower and carousel! The second will come tomorrow...
Finally! I feel so neglectful of poor little Callisto. I got my firewire cable in the mail on Monday and re-rendered Callisto last night. Callisto is the final film in The Galilean Satellites series. She is silent. This film was complete magic toward the end. I had not quite expected the results that I got, but I was awed by them.
Callisto is also one of the most heavily cratered bodies in the solar system. Jupiter's gravity attracts comets, meteoroids, and other objects and Callisto, being far away and tectonically inactive, bears thousands of years worth of battle scars. She also has the lowest density of the Galilean Satellites and it is thought that there might be an ocean beneath her rocky crust.
The imagery consists of liquid crystal paints and rubbing alcohol (like I said, magic). Enjoy:
If Europa could be considered the "audience favorite" of my films, Ganymede would have to be her cute little brother. This is the third film in The Galilean Satellites series. It is quite a bit shorter than the previous two, but was easily the hardest of the series to make (easily the hardest- bad English, I know, but funny enough for me to leave it there).
The imagery is both digital and film in origin. The opening sequence of photographs consists of digital images taken by the Galileo probe that visited Jupiter recently. The film imagery is clear 16mm film leader that has been scratched, pitted, twisted and bent to refract the polarized light.
The soundtrack consists of radio signals received from the moon's ionosphere. Unlike the previous two films, however, I have not manipulated this sound in any way. In fact, you can hear Ganymede's voice on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's page.
This film tries to capture the essence of Ganymede, who, like his sisters, is pulled and pushed by the tidal forces of Jupiter and the other moons (sibling rivalry...even the planets and Greek deities suffer from it).
This is the second film in The Galilean Satellites series. It is an artistic study of the wrenching and twisting of Jupiter's volcanic moon, Io. This film is quite a bit longer than the others. It is also what I feel to be the "scariest" film I've ever made. The soundtrack consists of stretched and manipulated radio emissions from Io's ionosphere, while the image consists of various objects that I'm twisting and pulling in polarized light.
Io is constantly pulled and pushed upon by her sister moons and the immense gravity of Jupiter. This film probes into the beauty of turmoil. Io is the most volcanically active body in the solar system, and is actually the hottest body in the solar system, outside of the sun (which reminds me of that Groucho Marx quote: "Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read").
Again, imagine this quite a bit bigger than it actually is. Much of my work is meant to be seen on a very large scale. I have wanted to project this particular film around an entire room as an installation.
It was originally shot on 16mm film and is a sound piece:
Back on track! Now, for the next film in my one-woman show: "Ether Twist." This film has sound! It's strange and quiet, but it's there...
Sounds from very low frequency (VLF) radio emissions make up the soundtrack to this film. These sounds include aurorae, solar flares, lightning and other electromagnetic phenomena that affect the Earth's ionosphere. The imagery is composed of various pieces of transparent plastics (try to guess what some of them are- you might be surprised) whose colors are revealed through polarized light. Neither the sound nor the image would be detectable if it weren't for careful manipulation of electromagnetic waves.
Many thanks to Stephen P. McGreevy for recording the incredible VLF sounds and allowing me to use them. This is a rather large file- the film is about 10 minutes long.
Footnotes: Ether (or Aether) was once considered to be quintessence, or the "fifth element." It was thought the be the medium through which light waves (indeed, all energy) traveled. It has since been dropped from the world of scientific thought and is considered to be, well, more...ethereal (not sure if that can qualify as a pun, but it was intended). It is considered to be the unifying energy for all living spirits in Wicca and some other religions.
The film title owes its existence to lyrics in the Tori Amos song, "Suede:"
i'm sure that you've been briefed my absorption lines they are frayed and i fear my fear is greater than my faith but i walk the missionary way you always felt like suede there are days i am your twin peekaboo hiding underneath your skin jets are revving yes revving from an ether twist call me 'evil' call me 'tide is on your side' anything you want
I connected with these lyrics instantly, but really keyed in on the phrase "ether twist." The liquid crystal materials I use do a sort of "ether twist." By twisting (refracting) the direction of the light waves at different wavelengths (colors), the bland, transparent plastics become vibrant, colored light sources.
"Munphilm" came to me through a dream: I had a great job working with the orcas at a monastery (yes, a monastery with killer whales- what?) I swam with them at night, which was quite frightening. I couldn't see them approaching me and suddenly, my body would lurch through the water. I would find myself tumbling through the air and plunging down to the bottom of the pool... luckily, we can do things like this in a dream and not drown!
One morning, a monk approached me. He handed me a toothbrush and told me to clean the orca pool, brush stroke by brush stroke. I took this duty and found that just as I had made a complete circle around the entirety of the pool, algae began appearing at my starting point. My day became an endless circle of the minutiae of whale care!
The monk in the dream was my friend Phil (hence the title). In this film, I try to explore yin and yang- depth, mystery and darkness interrupted by cuts of smooth, metallic vibrancy (note: you guessed it, this film is also silent - there will be sound in later films, but aren't you glad you don't have to turn the volume down at work?)
As you can tell, I have been playing with the look of my blog. Please don't hesitate to leave comments if you find that it doesn't perform well for you. My second film, made as Gossamer Conglomerate's twin, is "The Light Touch Dust Nebula." Click on the image below to watch (note- this film is silent):
This film was made by applying thermotropic (changing with heat) paints to decayed film leader and filming the result before the heat of the projector lamp. The color of the paints changes from red to blue with heat. These are the same paints found in mood rings. For more information about this film, please click on the link in the title of this post.
Now that I have my technical wires uncrossed, I plan to post one of my 16mm films here every day for the next few weeks. Although the compression looks much better than I thought it would, I do have to take a moment to say that this is not the preferred format for my films. They are best seen in their original 16mm format in a darkened theatre. Well, not all of us live near an experimental film venue, nor do we have finances at our disposal to rent film prints from places like Canyon Cinema, The Film-maker's Coop, CFMDC (Canadian films) Light Cone, or Le Collectif Jeune Cinéma (though you can click on any of these if you do- they have many great films in their collections). I decided to make my films available online, too. You can also subscribe to my podcast (you'll need iTunes) or check out my blip.tv channel.
Okay, enough. Here is my first film, "Gossamer Conglomerate" (click the image to play- note: this film is silent):