personal

Sometimes things don't work out, and that's OK.

Tantrum.jpg

When learning to do anything, from ice skating to film making to hang gliding, there are always going to be setbacks and mistakes (hopefully not so many in the last one). What we learn from situations that don't pan out can be just as, if not more important than when things go perfectly. Through mistakes and unwanted situations, we're able to learn first had the consequences of our actions and decisions that we could have possibly prevented, were we aware of where they were leading. Further, the impact of negative consequences is a better teacher than someone telling us, 'don't do this, that will happen,' as we ourselves must then directly face the outcome, and dig our own way out of it. 

Something like this happened about half a year ago. Wanting desperately to find a partner in filming, I joined a social network that specialized with video, film and creative arts. I found someone who lived nearby, and we eventually got together to give it a shot.

The shoot was not my favorite experience, I found myself extremely frustrated, it left a bad taste in my mouth. I had to take a few days to really understand exactly what bothered me so much about the event, and realized a lot of it were things that I could have preemptively addressed, if not recognized red flags earlier and gracefully back out before things got heated.

And things indeed got heated.

Now, to be clear, there was nothing wrong with this individual, but we ended up not seeing eye to eye, which lead to harsh words, and blocked numbers. It even let to me holding on to the project, not editing the footage or adding visual effects, because I was so negatively impacted by the experience. I didn't want to see it, touch it, and any frustrations that I would have found during the editing process were only intensified by my feelings towards him and the shoot. 

After the parting of ways between myself and the other team member, I had a really difficult time doing anything film related. I couldn't write, I didn't want to try to learn any new visual effects, I didn't touch my camera in weeks. I didn't realize that I was so negatively impacted by not only the experience, but frozen because of the guilt that I didn't want to edit the footage. That negative impact stopped me from moving forward, from getting better, learning more and trying new things.  

I was very close to scrapping the whole thing, deleting footage, forgetting that it ever happened. However, I took a moment to stop and think. This supposed failure has been a greater teacher than my most popular videos. I've learned what I will and won't stand for, what to avoid in order to have a more productive shoot, what type of people I work best with, and most importantly of all, the ramifications of negative feelings towards a project.  

So, in an effort to close the book on the whole experience, but also show myself that I learned something, I opened up the project file that I hadn't touched in weeks, and hit render. Below, you'll find the uncompleted project, warts and all. It's not bad, and there are a lot of things that I could fix, but it's important to see it for what it is. It failed, but it wasn't a failure. In fact, it's some of my best camera work with what I had at the time. And if it's taught me anything, it's that sometimes, it's OK to fail.

 

Hitfilm 2 for Mac Kickstarter - 3 reasons why you should support them.

This morning, FxHome Hitfilm started a Kickstarter to help fund the conversion of their flagship software, Hitfilm2 to Mac. As a Mac user, I own Hitfilm 2 for PC that i've been running through bootcamp, and I've been an FXHome customer since Visionlab. I'm also contributing. Here's why:

1. The Cost/Return is awesome

As stated on their website, Hitfilm is already a proven product. It has industry recognition from the likes of Film Riot's Ryan Connolly and Freddie Wong. The software is not only a video editor, it's a VFX package with 3D model integration. For something comparable, you'd have to go with something like After Effects + Video Copilot's Element 3D. Nothing against Adobe and Andrew Kramer, but some people just don't have that money, especially those starting out.

2. The Company

FxHome is based in Norwich, UK. They don't have the massive resources that Adobe has, but they put together a solid product. They have been personally extremely cool with me, responding to my random questions about the product, and the industry. As a matter of fact, I got to talk to their community manager today about his take on a potential project of mine in the near future. They bring a very personal approach to this. They know that we're all learning, and they encourage community. I've not seen another company do that ever before. I feel like I have stock in the company just by being a user. They're not just programmers making a product. They're film makers who are making a tool that they believe in. I believe in them as well. If they had a NY office, I'd apply to work there right now.

3. Competition breeds Innovation.

The more VFX users there are out there, with more tools, the better we all have to become. If you can't afford After Effects and Premiere, or Final Cut, you'd be out of the game if not for companies like FxHome. They're providing a lower cost alternative that lowers the barrier to entry for aspiring artists and filmmakers. With the continued advancements that the Hitfilm team make during every update, you're only going to see more and more quality work come out of that package. 

Supporting creative companies like this only help everyone in the long run. We allow more people to have the means to create, and thus raise the bar for ourselves as well. If we want to see better products, better films, better effects and better stories, we need to support those that are making it happen.

Check out their kickstarter for more information.

Why it's Awesome to be a Nerd

Wil Wheaton, professional nerd, and alter ego of STTNG's Wesley Crusher (and all around awesome guy) was speaking at Calgary Comic Expo in April of 2013. Someone asked him to tell her unborn daughter, via recorded video, why it's awesome to be a nerd. 
While this may have started as something humorous  Wheaton brought this to a very relatable place for me. Check out the video below.

Oh, you'd run if zombies were chasing you...

Let's get one thing straight.

I'm not a runner.

This is not me... but it could be..I'd like to be a runner, but it was never really my thing. I'd dabble in it at the gym, and try to make a habit of it, but to the dismay of some of my runner friends, I've never really found a lot of joy in it. Now gaming, I can marathon Skyrim in a heartbeat. But that doesn't do much for my waistline. 

What I am, however is a fan of zombie fiction. And now the two have come together in a way that has gotten me excited about running. Crazy, right? Let me explain. 

I don't know where I first heard of Zombies, Run, but being an impulsive App Store shopper, I picked it up. Zombies, Run tracks your run progress via GPS or an accelerometer, not unlike many other running apps like, Nike+ Run. What makes Zombies, Run different is that an audio drama unfolds while you run. You play an individual from a military base who during a helicoptor ride was shot down between two major cities. Your walkie talkie still works, and you're contacted by a guy named Sam Yao, who guides you to the township of Able. During the run, you're asked to pick up supplies, key items, and complete missions as Runner 5. 

It wouldn't be a zombie game without zombies though, and while you run, you'll be alerted to approaching hoards, prompting you to give it a burst of speed to your run, and avoid being eaten. What's great is not only are you alerted by a voice giving you the distance between you and the hoard, but you'll hear their growls getting closer. 

I have never been as motivated as I am now to run. 

I only started running on Friday, and here it is Sunday, and I've found myself wanting to run more and more. Not only does the app track my progress, but I find that I want to see how the story of this township plays out. There are relationships between people in the base, and people who are now zombies, (SPOILER: I was chased by the old Runner 5 at the end if Mission 1, a girl named Alice, who Sam had a relationship with). At the end of each mission, you use supplies you've picked up to build a better base, unlocking more missions, so it kind of has a role-playing game feel to it. Some of the acting could be a little bit better, but I think I've been spoiled by listening to We're Alive (the zombie audio drama podcast) to have an unbiased opinion.

This playlist is a bit telling, no?A great feature of the game is that you can set your own playlists for running. I added a lot of high-intensity tracks to keep me pumped while running; my zombie survival soundtrack consisted of a bit of dubstep, hard rock, techno and extra Radiohead. When you're not doing missions, you can enter Radio Mode, in which two of the techs host a radio show, again, playing your tracks, but instead of mission dialog between them, you get quips between the pair, and updates about the surrounding area. It sounds like a lot of what goes on in the radio show help to flesh out the world of Zombies Run, even throwing in some ARG elements.

An added benefit of Zombies, Run is that it got me outside on a beautiful day. After I finished a mission, I decided to continue running to a nearby deli to get eggs and ham, and took the opportunity to take some cool HDR photos.

As I said before, I'm not a runner. I often joke that I run best when something is chasing me. Zombie, Run has done a great job of using the idea of a zombie apocalypse to get me exercising regularly. And who knows, if there ever is a real zombie apocalypse, I'll be really glad that I got the practice. 

Zombies, Run is coming out for Android soon, folks so make sure to pick it up.

If you have an iPod Touch or iPhone, it's available now for the somewhat steep price of $7.99.

Here are some shots I took during my run today:

Do We Need Hollywood?

"It's good to experience Hollywood in short bursts, I guess. Little snippets. I don't think I can handle being here all the time, it's pretty nutty."
Johnny Depp


It seems that more and more, I hear of individuals taking it upon themselves to jump into film making. With either formal film school training or not, more people are picking up cameras and learning how to tell their stories. From that, I've seen stories that some might say were too radical for Hollywood. Josh Bernhard and Bracey Smith's Pioneer One showed us one possibility of what might happen of a Russian human native to Mars landed back on Earth. The Platoon of Power Squadron by Pineappleboyfilms takes a different, more down to Earth view of how those with super powers might cope in modern day suburban Chicago.  


As more and more industries find their way online, I find myself questioning the relevance of Hollywood. Of course, there's a long way for studios outside of Hollywood to go (foreign and independent alike), to match up with the status quo for film quality and visual effects. Be that as it may, looking back on 2011, I can't really remember many television shows and movies that thought out of the box. It seems that thinking outside of the box is exactly what the independent creatives are doing. Take a look at this trailer for an independent short film:



Yes, it's just a teaser, but it's something new. Someone decided to take a chance on an idea, and ran with it. Would this have gotten through to financiers in Hollywood? Maybe, maybe not. But the creators David Levy, Hatem Ben Abdallah and Bernard Lyall are financing it through kickstarter.




Do we look to Hollywood to create a standard for film? Or should we embrace how inventive the independent and foreign film makers have to be out of necessity? At this point, there are good and bad things on both sides of the coin. Hollywood being a business, will continue to put out a product that they are fairly confident will sell. Sometimes that boils down to cookie cutter films and catering to a crowd that isn't looking for innovation. Viewers vote with their wallets, which makes me fear that we won't see much creativity come out of Hollywood. It's not every day that someone greenlights an Inception or Super 8, but there will always be room for Transformers and The Green Lantern.


But what about those movies that push the envelope of accepted film making? What about Ink, and The Tree of Life? What about Unknown and The Adjustment Bureau (not independents, I know, but not your average movies, either)? If we as movie-goers continue to patronize the cookie cutter, unimaginative, safe movies coming out of Hollywood, chances are we'll not only miss out on innovative films from those who want to create for the love of the craft, but we also deter future film makers from trying something new. If that means that we won't see the crazy, rough, gritty and beautifully imaginative gems that come from those outside of Hollywood, then I want no part of it.