Generative Art Movies

This is quite cool

“An indie film group just exhibited a quirky piece at the Sundance Festival — a film created via a computer algorithm. Something of a “film clip roulette,” the team shot unique scenarios, voice-overs and music clips that end up spliced together for a unique film that is different at each viewing.”

Art film / film-art has this unfortunate “venue” issue… in that (and I don’t know why this is) digital art in a gallery context is automatically boring, and in a web context it’s not fast enough to hold our gold-fish-like attention-spans… so it a bit boring. On TV? Hard to say… anything on on any of the other channels?

Which isn’t to say digital art is bad – it’s just that we don’t really know where to put it. It works if it’s inserted into movies… but the films have to be really clever to slow people’s “pace-of-expectation” down to the point where it can be got away with.

Is there anything wrong with art that only really appeals to the person who made it?

Hard to say… but something tells me it’s the future.

Upcoming Sci-Fiery

Both Atemporal in their way…

Aliens Prequel. God I hope they don’t fuck it up…

… and by fuck it up, I mean :

– make all the backgrounds teal and people’s faces orange (like pretty much everything Hollywood does these days)
– make the characters non-empathetic wankers (like pretty much everything Hollywood does these days)
– make it neo-facist American jingoistic-nationalist crap (like pretty much everything Hollywood does these days)

and so on. In addition to that, no Ewoks, Teenagers, Jaja Binks etc etc.

The trailer looks great though – and I particularly like the way it just sits on the final shot for ages… no “punchline”, no “hook to try to pull you in”, no “wanker talking in a really deep voice, pitched to an audience of 12 year olds”. It’s great – it’s like The Shining trailer where there’s just a shot of the blood flowing into the corridor. It takes courage to play a solo with a single note.

This looks really cool as well:

Which it might not be… because although it came out in 2010, nobody cares about it enough to put it up on the web… and that is a really bad sign. If no one is pirating your movie, it must seriously seriously seriously suck. Jesus – when I get around to making mine, I’m going to seed it myself, just to avoid the embarrassment of it being too crap to even watch for free.

Looks like THX1138 though – got that whole Lucas/Kubrick thing going on, which is k for cool.

In other news, I have done fuck all, but am moving town where I may or may not get my shit together.

Adventures in Low Fi

Several months pass – rapidly coming to the conclusion that you can’t do this on your own, and I live in a small town where fuck-all happens, so to get anything done, I’m going to need to move to a big city. Everybody leaves. I left… then I came back, but now I think I’m going to need to leave again.

Anyway – in the last month or so, two new cameras have been making a bit of fuss… Canon C300 and Red-whatever-it-is. People initially were saying that Red ate Canon for breakfast (or whatever) until they looked a bit closer at Red and realised that you have to spend a small fortune on various bits to go with it. You need to do that with cameras anyway, but with Red it seems to be all Red-proprietary add-ons, so it’s so much worse.

If I’ve got that right. I haven’t been looking too closely because all of this is about 10x out of my price-range, so I’m more interested in things happening at the punk/DIY-end of the scale.

However… starting complex, winding down… here’s a video of Peter Jackson using (a different type of) Red to do 3D stuff. This is what it looks like if you’ve got a budget of several hundred million dollars.

Dial it down a notch… here’s an excellent demo of the Canon C300, which pisses all over the “official” video, which is obviously bogus and manipulative because it’s made by a corporation.

Exactly what Philip Bloom predicted a year ago – that the still and video markets would diverge, and camera producers would start making machines specifically designed for video, rather than trying to walk both sides of the line. Whether this happens in totality remains to be seen. Personally I think stills-only cameras are a thing of the past – and that in a couple (or 5) of years, an offspring of the T2I will turn up that doesn’t have rolling shutter or moire. This video is pretty convincing though. Your film budget wouldn’t have to go very high at all for it to be barmy for you not to use one of these over a DSLR

Finally… a film shot on an iPhone. Had to happen sooner or later.

Although they have a shit-load of supporting hardware

Fairly big budget – $300k apparently – about 1/2 of which (allegedly) went on a “star”, which in this context is basically a type of advertising I think.

So there you go – as someone, somewhere else said, “the best camera is one that you’ll take with you everywhere, and use”… which may or may not be true, depending on whether or not you’re trying to make a spectacle-movie. More on that later.

Object Insertion

If this ever goes out on general-release it could be a bit of a game-changer.


Looks like it’s using Luxrender in Blender.

Someone commented that this won’t be good enough for movies… but I don’t think he understands memetics… and this could also be very good for augmented reality – which is at a fairly embryonic stage right now. I think there’s going to be an augmented-reality x ultra-realistic-modelling convergeance. So whether you’re inside the game or not, is kindof blurred.

Glorious Anamorphism

Koi – Lucifer Lamps from Diestro on Vimeo.

Needs to be watched full-screen.

Not sure why I like anamorphism so much – it looks vast and granduresquey but actually it’s more often than not just 16:9 with the top and bottom cut off. It kindof flies in the face of what I imagine is a drive towards full depth of field, 360 spherical emmersive entertainment.

Mr Lahey


It’s Bad You Know

So anyway – I got my first v-jaying gig down town last week… spend a couple of weeks getting clips together and whatnot. On the night get there several hours early to be prepared for any glitches.

And two hours later had not sorted out a major glitch – which was when I plugged into their projector, my screen-resolution changed and caused all the buttons to disappear. Now I’m a former tech-support guy. I used to do this sort of stuff for a living… and still couldn’t crack it, and then the first act started, and I got even more stressed out than I already was, and…

… Jason came over and slapped me on the back, said “you need a drink mate”. So I did. 8 pints, and when I got home, and entire bottle of port on my own… with the inevitable horrors/paranoia/mental break-down the next 3 days.

I’ve found myself a nice rehab clinic – in Thailand. If I’m still crashing and burning like this in the new year, then I’m checking in.

Meantime, here’s one of the videos I made:

best full-screen etc… I’m still struggling with compression artifacts in the blacks.

From The Ruins Of The Unsustainable

A while back, Bruce Sterling (who is a star) was going on about “Our New Frontier Is The Ruins Of The Unsustainable”, and talking about atemporality and lamenting the lack of high-art therefrom, or he might have been talking about steampunk… or the impossibility of making high-art from collage, but like… whatever.

I think this might be high-art. Maybe.

The imperfections are perfect, connecting so seamlessly to David Lynch’s stuff that it seems kindof wrong to see it as separate. Straight out of the Lynchosphere… and what is that? 50s? 70s? 90s? It’s all of it. All of you and all of me. She’s got that whole bored, doomed, laconic thing… there’s an archetype there that she’s hitting dead on the nail, and little (over-committed) touches like less than perfect plastic-surgery are… perfect. The lack of fidelity is part of the scene… because there comes a point with nostalgia, where what you are remembering isn’t what actually happened, but the photographs of it that you still have… and those fade… well, they did in the 20thC.

Everything is borrowed – as it should be, because (is this part of a gen-x revival?) the culture is the entire context. There’s nothing outside of it that we know. Everything comes from somewhere else… probably copyrighted, but it’s ours, and corporations have absolutely zero business claiming any of it.

So from a filmic point of view… that whole Paris-Texas-holiday-scene halcyon-super-8 thing going, distilling this nostalgia-for-a-time-that-never-existed out of deleted-scenes… and adding sex. Like girls from the last year at school who were beautiful but going nowhere… and who I thought were out of my league… who would never let me near them, but really it was the other way round, because I WAS going somewhere… I was headed out of here, out of the small town, away.

And now? You can’t go back. They grow old fast… faster than I did, and they have daughters of their own now, who aren’t going anywhere either… but there’s this parallel universe, like a loop, or a bubble… where things might have been different, not for them, but for me. If I’d decided to go nowhere too… to just fall in love, and make that the point of existence. To fall for the honey-trap that’s too dumb to even know what it is, but is at least sincere. I sure as shit would be happier than I am now. Or would be, for a while.

With drugs you get 5 good years… with life… maybe 15. Before the windows of possibility start closing… or before you stop seeing them.

Novacut Video Editor

I quite like the look of this:

Novacut Slice and Sequence Prototype from Jason Gerard DeRose on Vimeo.

It’s an open-source video editor, currently up on kickstarter, looking for $25k… I’ve punted $25 at it, just because I’d like to see what they do.

I think their pitch is slightly out… they’re specifically go on about $299.99 – but this isn’t a “buying” decision, it’s a “giving” one… in which people (in their minds) want to maximise feelings of largess, which they do by giving in multiples of 2, 5 and 10. Something they specifically do not do, is knock a cent off to make it appear just that little bit less. People don’t “give” to “get a bargain”.

There’s also this nagging thing… where them asking for $299.99 for open-source software – when there are already about 5 different open-source video-editing projects out there, who have managed to launch without $$$… still… there are things the others are doing which aren’t quite right – most notably, they’re based on a model/metaphor that hasn’t had Web-Dev UX expertise applied to it.

None of them are designed by proper Web-Designer UX people… and that’s a fairly core thing, because Web-Design UX has been through the crucible of 100% free-market, natural-selection. TV Remotes (for example) are not designed by Web Designers… nor are video-recorder controls.

Nor are any of the existing video software offerings.

I’m quite interested in the way they’re taking the whole process apart – incorporating storyboarding as a fundamental metaphor, quite early on. I’ve kindof been working on this myself – on radically reducing the time it takes to get from A to Z by making storyboarding a deliverable of the reccy/blocking process.

This would be really cool if HTML5/JS (etc) was actually a layer that took user commands and fed them to FFMPEG (or whatever – the video-crunching engine) to process. This would allow a lot of flexibility for adaptation from the vast resource of people who are already pretty good at HTML.

Another way that this is different from the other open-source offerings is that it’s specifically Web 2.0… it’s actively soliciting input from the people who are using the thing, and the development is kindof front-loaded… ie: a lot more work is done at the wireframing/prototyping stage than at the coding stage. I know the others solicit input etc as well, but it’s usually via processes that are too arcane for non CLI people to deal with. I’m not interested in learning how to do .svn checkouts and builds etc. HTML and JS I can do.

The Cloud thing is interesting… not so much for storage (because I don’t trust the cloud, and neither should you)… but for rendering – because it absolutely kills my local machine.

Trouble is though… I’m guessing that means I have to upload stuff to the cloud… which is fucked up, because in NZ, at about 93k/s it’ll take (if I’ve got this right) around 3.45 hours to upload a Gigabyte file… which is about 3 minutes worth. So what’s your shooting-ratio? 10/1? – if you want to make a 5 minute movie, it’ll take about 2.5 days to upload the raw footage, and by “days” I mean 24 hour days in which your web connection is swamped, assuming none of the uploads crash on you, which they almost always do. And in NZ, we have data-caps.

So… maybe it’ll work in the future, or in Korea. But it ain’t going to work here – not the cloud-rendering aspect of it anyway. Even if it’s 10x faster, it’s still going to work out slower than rendering locally.

But you know… the future is coming, so who knows. If you’re into this stuff, then $25 isn’t a lot… just to see what happens.

Best vote for net-neutrality though eh :)

Amer Nazri : Bibiti

Bibiti from amer nazri on Vimeo.

I’ve been thinking about a process for radically reducing the time and effort of getting from A to Z film-making wise. Part of it involves a story-writing loop… that looks like this:

So there’s a Brother’s Grimm part of the cycle… the bit where you sit down and go “once upon a time, there were 3 bears”. Tell the whole story verbally – probably a couple of pages worth. When that’s done, you distill it to an elevator-pitch, revist the themes and character arcs… if they’re not expressed, then redo the Brother’s Grimm bit. Keep shit simple. Don’t sit down in front of an empty screenplay that’s going to run to over 100 pages. Rewrite early.

I think this is a linear process. It’s cyclical. Perculatory. Once you’ve “finished” one bit, you go to the next bit and rewrite… adjust etc… all of which you do before you get to screenplay. Because you never actually do a screen-play.

Instead of a screenplay, you have beats/arcs within a scene… things that have to happen for the plot/themes to turn… you do a storyboard not by drawing stuff, but by getting people to actually stand in the actual scene, then photograph it – so storyboard is an outcome of blocking… so when you shoot for real, your actors/people are winging it off a storyboard rather than a script.

And then you shoot for real… then you give everyone an hour off, and do a rough-edit on a laptop, on the spot… If there’s anything that needs fixing or redoing, fix it or redo it when everyone comes back.

That’s the theory anyway.

But anyway – part of the process is a Brother’s Grimm version of the story. Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away…

« Previous Entries