Thursday, May 26, 2011

Video Short: The High Line (Tech Info and Background)

Camera: Canon HF200
NLE: Final Cut Pro 7
Color: Apple Color 1.5

Since beginning work with DSLR cameras last year, I've avidly followed the videos of Philip Bloom. One format that he does very well are short video pieces filmed on location and set to music. Examples can be found on his website; I particularly recommend Sofia's People and Skywalker Ranch.

I enjoy his work a lot. They are great examples of what can be done with with a camera, a good location, and a few hours at work editing and color grading. So I tried to make this in that same vein.

I had originally wanted to use the "Hand Covers Bruise" track from The Social Network soundtrack, by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. The thought had occurred to me, though, that I may want to look at royalty free options if I want these videos to last online without fear of license complications. Fortunately, I stumbled upon the album Ghosts, that Reznor and Ross had recorded under the Nine Inch Nails banner. They had released Ghosts under a Creative Commons license that permitted use by anyone as long as the work was attributed to its creator for non-commercial purposes, and that any work building upon it use this same license.

Shooting on the HF200 again, as I don't yet have a 60D or GH2 in hand. While the video quality lacks the sharpness and very shallow depth of field of a larger sensor camera, on the whole I am happy with it. The color grading seems to help a long way here. I have to check my ambitions for a better camera with recognition of the actual number of times I get out to shoot video, which is not more than once every few months unless there's a project going on.

For color grading, I felt like I had been running over the same steps over and over again with Magic Bullet Looks. I wasn't living in preset world, but I found myself spending too much time trying to make it look like film, rather than focusing on making it look good. For variation's sake, I went for Apple Color this time around. As usual, I found myself pulling back from more aggressive looks, but perhaps Color is the better tool for more subtle work.

I didn't miss Magic Bullet Looks terribly, and I do enjoy how quickly I can move between primary and secondary corrections, keying and windows in Apple Color. But the round tripping was really sucked up a good deal of time. If I were more experienced, I probably would have been able to work around the things that gave me trouble faster, but all in all it did take longer. Nonetheless, I'm liking it and will probably stick with Color for the next video that I shoot.

For the original post on The High Line, click here.

Video Short: The High Line

May 21, 2011

I had heard great things about The High Line, but hadn't had a chance to visit. This past Saturday I found myself with an open schedule, and since I hadn't edited anything in a long while, I brought along my camera and shot some footage.

I got there around 10:30 a.m. and it was very pleasant, pretty quiet. By about 12:30 p.m. it started to get crowded in a way that seemed counter to the otherwise calming environment. I'd recommend going early in the day if at all possible.

As a public space, it's got all sorts of fun nooks and crannies, from an observation deck that looks directly over 10th Avenue, to an area built to accommodate reclining sunbathers. There's another section due to open in June. With more to see, and likely a different look with the changing seasons, I imagine I'll be back to shoot more in a few months.

If you haven't yet visited, definitely worth going, and The High Line also has some great videos posted up on their site.

I've included more info on the background and technical info in a separate post.

Thanks for watching!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Beaming Up and Climbing Out

During a trip to Italy during college, I was looking at a painting of the last judgment. I remarked to the professor next to me, a priest, "Isn't it strange that at that time people actually believed that they would climb out of their tombs like that at the end of the world?"

The priest corrected me, noting that in the Catholic faith, per the Apostle's Creed and many other texts, the "resurrection of the body" means just that. Climbing out of the tomb.

I didn't know what to say after that. It's like the transubstantiation of the Eucharist, or the incorruptability of certain saints' bodies. It's easy to believe that two thousand years ago, "one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change" (as described in HHGTG). It's hard to believe that after your body has been decomposing for years, your soul will reunite with it, you will make your way out of the ground, and you will look awesome. (The painter had been very generous to his subjects in that respect).

It's 7:39 p.m., and it would seem that for most of the world, now including the Eastern Time Zone of the United States, Harold Camping's prophesied Rapture has not occurred.

I guess that's pretty good news.

Camping's having assigned the end of days a day and date made this prediction perfect for ridicule. Camping served up a perfect litmus test - on May 21st, at 6:00 p.m., the world would either end, or it wouldn't.

If he had simply said that no one but God knows when the end of days will occur, then he and many Christians around the world could nod in agreement. In the Gospel According to Mark 13:32, on the question of Christ's return, it is written "But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone."

The difference between Camping and many other Christians is one of timing. By Mark's telling above, the end of the world could just as well have been today at 6:00 p.m. No one knows and it could be any time, why not May 21st.

Or any other minute of any other day.

And then, it is said that when that time comes, persons won't be beamed to heaven. Bodies will in glorified form climb out of graves- "in the resurrection God will give incorruptible life to our body, transformed by reunion with our soul"(Catechism of the Catholic Church).

Camping does not seem to have been a credible guy. Especially since by now he's 0 and 2. But it's worth noting that what invited ridicule was that he actively preached that the end was imminent, and he set a date at which he could be either proven or disproven. I'm glad that he was wrong, but I believe that if you remove the "date certain" part of Camping's predictions, in the news and in our conversations, we're left with plenty of jokes about a Biblical end of the world- an event that Christian faiths believe could happen at any time.

So for Christians, and for perhaps persons of other faiths as well, if their tradition includes a foretelling of the end of days, it is worth revisiting what we actually do believe about the end of the world. We've been confronted with the idea of it, had a good laugh, but it's reason to take a pause and think about what in our faiths' foretellings seem incredulous, unbelievable, or on the other hand, downright essential to that faith.

In the Catholic context, I understand that the second coming and the resurrection of the body are extremely important. But like when I was looking at the painting of the good looking people climbing out of their tombs, at least as of right now, I don't quite know what about it I can say that I believe with certainty.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Five Photos (8): Signs and Signage


I didn't eat there, but the sign looked cool.

Flynn Liquors

Wits End
Wits End

A number of streets in Astoria had sides of them closed to parking in early April. I believe that this was for one of the Law & Order series.

Wits End is a production equipment company.

Local Calls Still Only 25 Cents
Local Calls Still Only 25 Cents

I Assure You, We're Open
I Assure You, We're Open

Sign on an eyeglasses store near Columbus Circle.

Not unlike the sign in Clerks.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Strange Days.

Not the end of an era, but an end of something.

I was a freshman in college, first semester, trying hard to stay awake all night in Alpha House while I was reading the Fagles translation of The Odyssey for a Harry B. Evans class. I fell asleep probably around 3 AM, and woke up six hours later. Strange things then happened- class got cancelled, and I started getting phone calls from my family on my mobile phone (a Nokia that barely knew what a text message was). Later, I was huddled in a dorm room with 5 other people watching the TV, later that afternoon, sprinting next to one of my friends to get to Finlay, and later still, trying to get to the roof of Walsh to get a look at what was going on.

I set off the roof alarm while I was trying to get up there, and felt like shit for, in essence, having tried to rubberneck, and also for having added unnecessary decibels of noise to what was already a terrible and chaotic situation.

The next day, classes are cancelled but the RD is telling us stringently not to treat this as a snow day. That weekend, at Alumni Hall on Fordham Road, someone carried an American flag around the bar. We all sang 'God bless the USA,' I think, probably cognizant that at this point, that the sense of pride alone was comforting.

I will grant the fact that, at the time, this was a sense of real resolve. America is about rebuilding, starting fresh, and coming back stronger.

But myself and likely everyone else on that campus had a sense that things would never be the same ever.

Tonight, things aren't necessarily all better in one fell swoop. If tonight's NBC newscast was any indicator, tomorrow, we will hear a great deal about Joint Special Operations Command (or JSOC, as the broadcasters seemed to have enjoyed saying so much). Details will then unravel about how the operation took place, graphics will show on screen the timeline of the operation, from August, 2010 to the present, and maps will show where the compound was, complete with 3D-esque topography. Not so terribly unlike ten years ago, as details started to unravel about the plots, training camps in Afghanistan, and how this terrible thing came to be.

In themselves, tonight's news does not necessarily bring closure, or categorically end the story that started 10 years ago (though arguably, that story may well have begun much earlier).

But hopefully, perhaps idealistically, in contrast to 10 years ago, our country just might have better days ahead than those that are behind.