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Salzburg, Austria

November 10th, 2013

Spent the weekend touring, filming, and sound recording Salzburg, Austria for use in some upcoming projects and just generally having a great weekend with the wife.

Gorgeous city, and everything was musical.

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Sound recording in the Mirabell Palace gardens

Alps
Capturing video of the train ride by the Alps

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Hard to mess up capturing a city this gorgeous

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Unexpected bonus: sound capture of cannon fire. We still have no idea what this ceremony was about, but it is very well recorded!

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Almagest Series: Technical Nightmare

May 19th, 2013

Note from the editor (that’s me): Sorry I’m a week late on this, but I got another show (which I’ll be announcing soon!) and got some additional big news to share soon…

Every piece I do, it seems, is its own technical challenge. The Almagest Series was no different. You’d probably think to yourself “this is just like a DVD… no SONAR or infrared or anything… no risk of computers crashing… should be so easy, right?” Nope. The following is, sadly, probably the LEAST technical problems I’ve dealt with on something… gives you an idea of how difficult these things can be.

The challenge with this one was capturing the high-def video. My computer is great at generating the video itself, but trying to capture the video WHILE generating it? No way. Too jerky. I did TONS of experiments… filming my own TV, looking into using another computer to record the output, etc etc… until I found this beautiful baby: HyperDeck Shuttle 2 Designed for uncompressed video capture from DSLR cameras, I instead decided to use it for uncompressed (or close to it) capture straight from my computer.

A ton of research later, I had dropped the $300ish I needed for it, $250 on a compatible solid state hard drive, and $50 on a solid state drive reader to import the files to the computer. A good investment, because I’m probably going to be using it a lot! Finally they arrived and I turned everything on… went to plug in the USB cable into the HyperDeck… nothing. 6 hours of updating firmware/etc later, I realized that the USB port wasn’t properly attached inside the HyperDeck. Back in the mail.

A week later, another HyperDeck. Finally ready to go. Plug it in… nothing. Update the firmware. Bingo! Everything’s… GREEN? More research. Change out my videocard. Change the video color settings. Bingo!!! (YUV vs RGB, if you are ever curious). Ready to go.

I set up my BCF2000 and mapped the faders and knobs to my video controls to record the video and manipulations live. I had long ago mapped out the narrative arc of the piece and was ready to go… recorded everything perfectly in a wonderful high-res codec. Finally I could import the files into Adobe Premiere… oh wait, no I can’t. Premiere Pro CS5 doesn’t support that codec… you need Premiere Pro CS6. Another $300… but wait, they are about to announce the new version of Premiere Pro! Download the demo of CS6, work in the demo for a month, wait for the CS 6.5 or CS7 announcement after my demo expires. Then Adobe announces they are discontinuing the CS series and I will need to pay $50 a month to subscribe to the new version of the software… CS6 disappears, and I can no longer buy it. NOOOOOO!!!! Call Adobe, spend a long time on the phone, finally get the privilege to spend $300 just for a codec incompatibility issue. Am oddly happy about this. Then I finally am able to get to work.

Next week: The Creative Process!

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Timelapse, Kenna-style?

July 14th, 2012

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I don’t know if you all are familiar with Michael Kenna’s photography, but you should be. He does extremely long exposure shots and prints them in high-contrast black and white. They have an incredibly cool, dreamy look to them. I have always wanted to bring that into my videos. Tonight is my first try…with timelapse!

Timelapse allows me to take really long exposures sequentially and then piece them together later. The problem is that I really need to do at least 6 pictures per second of timelapse video… With each picture taking 30 seconds, that is 3 minutes per one second of video! And really, 30 seconds per picture might be too short.

Maybe I should’ve grabbed a coffee!

Unfortunately tonight, people think its fun to turn christmas lights randomly on and off and shoot off fireworks. May have to try again tomorrow. Oh well!

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Gone mobile!

July 14th, 2012

I finally had the idea to get WordPress for my iPhone! I’m pretty excited about this… Hoping to start recapping some of my timelapses and video shoots as I do them. It’s a really neat app because you can take pictures and video directly from your phone as you are posting and then insert them straight from there. It seems to be a lot easier than it is on the computer. And, with my iPhone 4S, I can dictate all my posts! Cool!

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From my first WordPress test… You get a picture of Rosie!

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Creating a Piece in Four Hours

July 8th, 2012

Welcome to 187mph.

6:15 a.m.
I am creating an entire video piece (and writing this blog post) in less than four hours… while timelapsing the whole thing. We’ll see how this goes… I am already self-conscious about the camera going off the background! I’m taking a picture every 12 seconds… when I compile this thing at 6 pictures per second, It should make the timelapse about two minutes… here we go.

6:40 a.m.
Alright, as you can see from the beginning timelapse, things are starting to come together more quickly than I imagined. I started off with a video that Emily took passenger-side in a Cadillac in Memphis with her mom… the consistent pace and straight course of the video make it adaptable to look like a train ride, which was my goal. I had to edit out a few frames, but nothing terrible.

I have been working on my latest audio/visual film for what must be hundreds of hours. Having a four-hour deadline is a very strange experience so far! I’m already starting to get nervous. What if my computer can’t record my live performance?

Also, where did my puppy go?

6:45 a.m.
My blacks aren’t black enough… my whites aren’t white enough… my pixels are too blocky (that’s what I get for upconverting this video… taken on a little digital camera!) I want this piece to be suitable for projection on a huge scale. Fixing this in this program could take awhile! Also, I seriously need to go find puppy…

7:07 a.m.
Excuse me, but I need the blog space to start writing my controls down. Once I get things where I want them, I’ll be playing/recording this piece’s effects entirely live.

MIDI map: Template 35
DMX-X: Levels adjustment on main layer
DMX-B: Right-side hurricane of color
DMX-G: Photo layer
DMX-R: Black and White

Key map:
A: Exposure
S: Brightness/Contrast
D: Blow
F: Video Painting mode
G: RGB Shift

7:24 a.m.
Alright, ready for my first test run. Saving everything in case I crash this thing.

Also, puppy has been found. Asleep. Surprise.

7:32 a.m.
That went pretty well, but my transitions were a little abrupt and the video was a little jittery. I’m going to change from on/off keys to knobs that control levels for smoother transitions. I’m also going to close everything I can on the computer to allocate the resources to this program.

MIDI map: Template 35
DMX-X: Levels adjustment on main layer
DMX-B: Right-side hurricane of color
DMX-G: Photo layer
DMX-R: Black and White
Vid1/R: Exposure
Vid2/G: Shift RGB

Key map:
S: Brightness/Contrast
D: Blow
F: Video Painting mode

7:50 a.m.
Bam! Take 2 was exactly what I wanted. Time to switch programs to Adobe Premiere to start prepping it for bigtime. Unfortunately that usually means creating the project in Premiere, saving it, then restarting my computer… like I need to warn the program what is about to happen… (when you don’t have a ridiculously top-of-the-line computer and you push it like I do, you deal with these little quirks…)


Performance finished… thanks Resolume.

7:55 a.m.
OK we are back. Breaks are always worth a puppy timelapse appearance (in case you miss it, she’s circa 1:20 in the video, you can see the little furball in the corner)

I definitely want to adjust the brightness and contrast of the piece and get the colors more saturated. Premiere has really great brightness and contrast controls so I am using those and the RGB Color Balance to crank each color channel. While the first preview renders, I am going to transfer this blog post onto willcopps.com!

8:14 a.m.
Getting there! I sped the movie up 2% to compensate for some of the jerkiness I got from realtime recording it to my hard drive. I also did a little more contrast work to make the blacks really stand out. While the preview renders, I’m editing this post…

8:36 a.m.
Alright, we are already exporting for Blu-Ray! Two hours and twenty minutes. I can’t tell you the last time I’ve finished anything in two hours and twenty minutes! haha.

8:42 a.m.
Time for Premiere to render the files: two hours. Sheesh! Time to give the camera the thumbs up and stop the timelapse.

8:58 a.m.
Timelapse exporting! This thing should definitely make the four-hour deadline.

9:20 a.m.
Alright, we are going live! I’ll be submitting the piece to a festival later tonight. Hopefully it’ll be selected and you can see it there!

As the Northeast corridor adapts to embrace the high-speed future of transportation, “187mph” is a look into a future of bullet trains speeding through the ever-sprawling urban landscape. The piece plays off the interplay of great speed and a dense landscape by combining still-image snapshots and full-motion video: emulating a passenger’s ability to only process parts of a high-speed ride.

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Movin’ on Up

January 7th, 2012

The lady and I are moving to a new place!

Relevancy here: I’m going to finally have my art studio! You’ll be able to follow the build here as I go along with this project. My goal is to make it an art/music/post-production workshop that can effectively double as our second bedroom. This is of course going to require a lot of work.


The room as it is with current owner…

Decisions so far: GREY. Definitely painting it grey. It’s my favorite room color and will be light enough for me to project my art onto the walls without discoloration or contrast problems.

My new studio monitor controller to switch between my studio monitors (the KRKs I have and the grotboxes that I don’t yet):


SM Pro Audio MPatch 2.1

Now I won’t have to reach around my speakers all the time to make volume adjustments or plug and unplug cables.

Very exciting! The problem with moving, though, is that you need to pack up your former place.


Yikes

My workspace has shrunk considerably here, but I refuse to stop working until the last second! Here you can see me in the middle of programming and reinstalling screens on my second video installation. Progress is flying! Unfortunately I had a hard drive crash and lost some of my programming, but I’ve rebuilt a lot of it from the ground up and now it’s better than ever.

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27 Hours

September 21st, 2011

27 hours ago, this computer was recording my band. Now it’s back and powering my new sculpture… you are looking at part of the sculpture and the two rewired LCD screens (the board you see is powering one of the rewired monitors).

Making amazing progress on it… my second installation!

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News Lens + Hurricane

August 28th, 2011

I love the post-hurricane weather. It makes for very interesting shots. I was out shooting video for a new project but had to snap a couple of photos with my new lens (Canon EF 2.8 100mm macro lens).

I thought this tree that fell into our apartment building made a very cool backdrop for the serenity of the flowers.

Back to work!

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Wielding My Axe

May 23rd, 2011

Amazing trip to Knoxville this weekend with Emily (complete with cruising around in a 2011 Porsche) to visit runawayalice and Speed Racer. Just great times, all around. (See runawayalice’s awesome recap of the weekend here)

We hit up Cades Cove in Smoky Mountains Park and I got to do some more testing with my Glidetrack rig! It’s so amazing. I can’t believe the difference the combo of the Glidetrack and my new tripod make.

As it was the day of the rapture, this test video is pretty appropriate (I may have made several videos in the same spot that I’m going to actually use in the future… this one’s just too creepy to ever use anywhere else. Seriously. You just expect some text to appear on the headstone with your name on it or something). What you probably won’t see is the swarm of bugs all around me as I was lying in the grass. Midway through I actually had to close my eyes to keep them out…yuck.

But yeah, basically, my camera is mounted to a piece on a long metal track and I’m just kinda pushing it up the track steadily. It takes a lot of work to make things look smooth! I’m slowly getting the hang of it though. My current method is to set up a cool final shot, set up a cool initial shot, and just slowly transition between the two.

I shot this video with an EF 1.4 50mm lens and it came out perfectly. I did have some fun playing around with one of Run Away Alice’s L-series lenses, though… there might be one in my future. But… preamp first! Actually, house first! (Viewfinder first? Follow focus? New computer for installations? AHHH.)

I can’t stress enough how beautiful the park is. You drive around a large circle and the park is all around you. There’s plenty of wildlife and it’s the perfect place to go on a beautiful day.

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