Impromptu Abstract

Abstract Road Trip

Today me and my brother drove up to Winchester, Virginia to get some new 4k camera gear. I took my 5Dmkii and my Canon 24-70mm 2.8 L Lens. On the drive up, I decided to play with some long exposures. The lighting was perfect and the following image was the result of being at the right place at the right time. I wish I could always have my camera with me but alas I can’t. Enjoy!

Abstract

17 going on 80mph

Personal Documentaries

I’ve always found it easier to make documentaries about people I don’t really know. There’s a kind of separation; a freedom to poke fun, be critical, support, or agree with. Making a film about someone you know, especially someone your extremely close to is more difficult. The way you portray anything can make or ruin your relationship. For me there’s a fundamental internal conflict, the filmmaker/artist side of me wants to stay pure to the film and criticize or support the person as much as is required but the other side is a person that lives in the reality I’m are trying to capture, and my actions have consequences.

 

The film you make will affect those who you make the film about. I did this in 17 going on 80mph when I lightly jested at my brother’s love of video games and the somewhat loaded topic of motorcycles. There’s a huge rider culture that I don’t know much about so I decided to tread carefully and not fall into any serious stereotypes about the subject. This however somewhat restricted me on a conceptual level because I was in essence, censoring certain facets about my brother and his rather fast decision to purchase and ride his motorcycle at the age of 17. I tried to capture everything while shooting and decided what I was going to show and how I wanted to portray him in the edit. In the end I didn’t exclude much and let his personality and opinions shine through and I realized he knew a lot about the bike and I wanted to show that. the result I believe is a very endearing portrait of my little brother and his excitement and passion about the biggest decision of his life so far.

This film was extremely fun and challenging to capture and edit. I hope you enjoy this personal look into my relationship with my brother.

The Perfect LED Light Panel

LED Lights

 

I’ve searched hard to find a LED light panels that I felt I could rely on that didn’t cost as much as a lens. For me there’s always been a color and flickering issue with the lower end lights I’ve tried. The last one I used that I really liked was an Astra Lite panel kit with V mount batteries, but the budget for the production I was researching them for didn’t have near the budget to afford those. I liked the Ikan LED panels but they just couldn’t throw enough light.

Enter the Dracast Silkray 500 Bi color LED panel. I purchased one when B&H photo ran their deal of the day on them. I had seen them in the past and was tempted by their affordable price but many bad experiences with previous panels made me a wary buyer. For this deal however I could get the panel, a 2x battery kit, and a light stand for $130. I finally pulled the trigger and ordered it. From the moment I got it I was extremely impressed. The build is solid and is just a little thicker than my 2015 Macbook pro. Coming from my Mole Richardson tungstans this was simply amazing. The bi-color- is excellent and the dimmer is the full range of the light. The best thing is, this fixture can really push some light. I was shocked at how diverse this light could be. Even at its normal price it is an amazing deal on a light that I think will become a staple in my kit.

Feeding the next generation

Moving on

I recently sold off some of my old equipment I have not used since I purchased my Canon Ef-L 35mm 1.4 & Canon 24-70mm 2.8. I sold my first EF mount cine lens.  My very first cine lens was a micro 4/3 Rokinon cine 14mm T3.1. This lens was soft and slow and I never really got the results I wanted out of it. Compared to the Rokinon cine EF 85mm t1.5 it was a terrible, but at that time I was shooting on my black magic pocket cinema camera with it’s super 16mm sensor a 14mm. A medium wide angle lens. The 85mm on that camera was like a 250mm on my 5d mkii which made it usable in only certain situations. This led me to mainly use it on my Canon t3i that I used as a B camera at the time. The lens crushed everything else I had or had used except for the Panasonic GH4/Zeiss cp.2 combo i had shot with at school. I shot a lot on that 85mm. The vessels of Mercy interview, some of the My story, multiple short films, weddings, and events. The fast speed of it never let me down. Sadly in the gear world, you always run across something better . In this case mine was a outrageous deal on the two Canon EF-L lenses. after getting those at the beginning of the summer I had not reached for the 85mm since.

The other day I decided to list and sell it on Facebook’s Market. A young man responded and expressed how excited he was to use the lens and how many opportunities it would open up for him. We agreed on a price which was subsequently what I had payed for it. We chose a time for him to run by the house and test it out. He showed up with his buddy who was clearly just there as backup. He opened his bag and took out a camera very much like my T3i from back in the day. He put the lens on and was so giddy he could hardly keep a straight face. It felt like I was talking to my self from 3-4 years ago. You know how everyone wishes they could go back and tell themselves what they should have done? Well this was my moment. I gave him the advice that I would have told myself. I tried to tell him what I wished I had known at that point in my filmmaking career. I told him what gear he should skip on and what he should invest in , and that if I ever had any work that I could’d hire him onto I would. I also told him if he ever needed any help to reach out to me.

Helping bring up a person with you

Many people would’ve left him out to dry because it’s a competitive field and the jobs are few but I feel that theres always a right person for a job and that the client works the best with a certain person so who am I to dictate that? I will find my right client but in the meantime I can pull someone up with me much like I had hoped someone would do for me back when I was 18 with a camera and high hopes ready to tackle the world.

 

Green Screen Lighting

Learning the art of even lighting.

Today me and my class did some testing on lighting a green screen and pulling a clean crisp key. We started out by raising a roll of green foam fabric about 10′ into the air, suspended from 2 c stands with mafer clamps holding a long wooden pole. We had 2 DIVA bank lights, a 1k Arri zip, Lowel case lights and a small arri 300wt fresnel. We started by using the two DIVA banks on either side of the green screen. The soft light was perfect for the vertical width of the small screen we were lighting.

We then bounced the 1k zip light into a 3×6′ white bounce card and filled with the Lowel case-light through diffusion.

We then used the Arri 300wt on a boom stand over the top edge of the green screen for a edge light.

With this setup we were able to achieve a great degree of separation between out subject and got the exposure on our subject to around 65 IRE on the false color scale

Setup/Equipment

Canon C100, ISO 1600, 180 degree shutter, color temp at 3300k

Canon EF-L 24-70 f2.8

Small HD AC7

 

Noir Filming

Film Noir Lighting. Recreating a scene from “The Man Who Couldn’t See Far Enough”

 

Noir Lighting Frame
The Man Who Couldn’t See Far Enough. Noir Lighting Scene Recreation

Finally got to experiment with noir lighting. I think the result is pretty amazing considering a rigged lighting setup. I used my Mole Richardson 1k fresnel lamp which I modified by removing the fresnel lens to create a 1k open face lamp that I could spot and flood. I then made a custom bar cookie to cut the light from foam board I bought at Lowes. I suspended the foam from two stands with grip head on them so I could angle the cookie high in the air. I planned to use a fog machine to haze the room but due to a PA overfilling the tank it crapped out as soon as we went to roll.

Overall this tough shoot was fun and I’m happy with the result. Full scene coming soon but I wanted to show a sneak peak at what it looked like.

Canon c100

Canon Ef-L 24-70mm 2.8

Soon to be on my Vimeo Account

https://vimeo.com/hippchencreative

 

Java: for more than web animation

Before this class I had never even seen source code. I’ll admit on the firstday of classes I was very intimidated and the though of dropping the class did cross my mind but I decided to stick with it because web development and coding is something I’ve wanted to learn for a very long time but was alway overwhelmed by it. I’m happy to say I now feel very confident is going out and adding webdevelopment to the list of creative services I can offer. Its a pretty awesome feeling to be able to approach a small business and say “I can handle and create your video, photography and build your website.”

For this research project I want to demonstrate something I didn’t connect before learning some basic java script. I found that these script are applicable in so much more than just animating a website. I am a film student in the VCU Arts Film program and use Adobe Premiere, Audition, and After Effects. I’ve done complex animation some dealing with 3D space in after effects by previously hand animating everything with keyframes and the result never quite where got where I was happy with it.

As a filmmaker the image above is intimidating. Each of those little symbols represents a change in a parameter of the layer or object and doing each of those manual is usually a frustrating and at least in my case renders a clunky robotic feeling animation. However there is hope for individuals like me who need to animate titles and Visual Effects that don’t look like they were made in 2007 windows movie maker.

The first solution: Expressions

Expressions are scripts that are built-into After Effects that can aide in frequently used animations such as randomly “Wiggle” parameters. This is a great way to generate a true random fluctuation that you can set thresholds and control.

 

The second and most advanced: Scripts

Expressions and manually animating are great but all too often something more is required. I ran up against something that was going to take an enormous amount of time and 50 or so layers that would all need individual animation.  The  idea was simple. I needed some additional footage for an video interview I was working on for a client. The client wanted a calendar counting up through the days of the month. After a few failed attempt to get the result I wanted, I got very frustrated and decided to do a search because there must be a better way. Little did I know I was already learning it 🙂

After effects can take script code directly. This opened up a whole world to me that I didn’t know existed. being able to find code that does close to what I want, modify it and inject the script directly into the layer that I’m working on changed the way I approach animating anything. A quick search revealed this code

beginCount = 0; stopCount = 30; beginTime = 0; // start counting at time = 0 countDur = 5; // count for 5 seconds “” + Math.round(linear(time,beginTime,beginTime + countDur,beginCount,stopCount)) + “”

 

I put this into my text layer and it was like magic, automatically after effects generated numbers counting up. All the work was done for me and saved me hours of animating. It pretty cool that this language and way of thinking is usable across websites and into my art.

In my research  I’ve found many other scripts that allow me to do thing I couldn’t do before in After Effects