Archives for category: Virtual Film School

For the past 3 years Christie Strong and I have lived, collaborated and traveled the world together but on January 1st, we decided together that the most powerful thing that each of us could do is separate.  We made this decision together over a somewhat epic walk around Chiang Mai Thailand in the morning light walking down streets littered with exploded fireworks.

I was feeling the beginning of a long road of solitude ahead and realized I really needed a new best friend.  So I turned to an old best friend.  The camera.  The new person I can do everything with.  We can converse endlessly about any topic.  We can each be a mirror showing the other their true self and be together no matter what happens.

I strapped the camera to my red tie, popped in a 32 gig card, plugged-in an all day battery pack and stepped out into the world.

iPad taken self portrait of my Tie Cam... since i"m in Thailand right now I sometimes call it my "Thai Cam".

iPad taken self portrait of my Tie Cam… since i”m in Thailand right now I sometimes call it my “Thai Cam”.

So far I’ve realized that a camera is actually not an effective substitute for Christie. However, the experiment has proved interesting anyway.

I have a dream to one day create an epic Sci-Fi film and in the story world the characters have archives of their entire lives that they are able to use in conversations with others as well as to review and even re-edit their history to tell the story they believe they are living.

In the first 9 days of filming I’ve already gotten several ideas for the Sci-Fi project and huge insights into who I am and what I typically do when left to my own devices.  I’m also finding a lot of draw backs to this process.  I have to be very careful at all times to not talk about people behind their backs and I wish I could say this was easy.  I also have to make sure to not do anything illegal or witness anyone doing anything illegal.  I also always have to disclose that I’m recording and will put the footage on the internet.  I also have to deal with incredibly compromised privacy for myself because in order for this experiment to work I’ve committed to recording when ever I’m talking to anyone or doing anything.  I’m not filming sleep, nudity, watching movies, reading or checking social media feeds or private messages but basically everything else is getting rolled on so there may be scrutiny from others who might scrub through the archives and I judge me in the future for something that happened in the past.  Part of the experiment is to allow others to join in the process following a tutorial I will post on how I’m doing this and also allowing people to take my videos and use them in in way they wish. and other tools allow the easy downloading of any YouTube video and I’ve placed a creative commons license on all my footage so by default people have my permission to use what I’ve captured for what ever they like and yes I realize this is incredibly risky.

But all of that is easy.  The hard part is actually having to start to have integrity with myself.  When I say I’m going to do something the camera is rolling and therefor the moment carries more weight.  It’s no longer possible to just let all of my visions fall by the waist side and constantly betray myself.  I’m learning a lot about myself already and getting great insights for the Sci-Fi project as well.

So I’ve turned this project into a challenge and have been telling people I will upload raw footage every single day in 2013.  Since what I say is now what I have to do… here we are.  The playlist below will contain every single day in 2013.  I encourage people to not try watch a whole day but instead just pick a random spot in a random video and make a comment on what you saw.  It could be just info about what’s being talked about to help catalog or maybe you have something to say that you would have said if you had been there or maybe you have a question or some advice.  You can include the hour, minute and second you are referring to in your comment by typing in the counter number such as “1:30:22”.  YouTube will make the number in your comment actually be a click-able link to that when clicked will jump to that point in the video.  I’ll respond and it’ll be a fairly unique time shifted omni present 4th dimension experience.

If you find this experiment interesting your welcome to subscribe to my youtube channel.  My goal isn’t to get lots of people involved but just have a few good people participating from beginning to end.  I’m looking to simulate a world where everyone does this with out even questioning it and it just becomes baked into the culture and part of the natural experience of life.  This is a world I also believe we will likely live in one day so am very fascinated to explore what we should all be prepared for.


How do we do anything in life? How do we walk? How do we digest food? How the hell did we develop language and story telling?

The answer? I don’t have a clue. All I can tell is that we look around us at the objects and landscape and other creatures before us and we take a step into it all. Then another step, and then another step. And pretty soon, we are surviving as a product of our environment and doing so with out even much thought. Each next step is just the impulsive step we want to take.

This has been my experience in the film industry. Everything changes when you least expect it and suddenly there are a new set of objects, landscapes and creatures. All I can do is try to stay in touch with what is before me, and take the step my involuntary impulses tell me that I should take.

This video is my presentation at power to the pixel back in Oct of 2008 and gives you a pretty good snapshot of the steps I’ve recently been taking.

FIlmmakers and digital exhibitors both need each other. They both expect a lot out of each other. Sometimes it hasn’t been communicated what the expectations are. Sometimes it’s good in relationships to just step back and spell out the needs. What are the exhibitors needs? What are the filmmakers needs? In this video a panel of new media digital exhibitors are asked that question and a room full of filmmakers then tell the exhibitors what their needs are. With that dialog out of the way we begin to design an ideal reality together. A future of universal meta data, transparent stats, healthy compensation and a frictionless discovery experience for the audience. So now with the beautiful plan designed the only way we’re going to get there is if we work together. Guys, don’t forget that it’s okay that we need each other. It might be called DIY, but we don’t mean literally. Christ! We have to undo some of our american engrained independence sometimes and just bond, join forces, become a greater sum then our parts and together we can move mountains.

APPEARANCES IN THIS VIDEO BY: Scilla Andreen (indieFlix) Alex Afterman (Formerly at Heretic Films), Sara Pollack (youTube), Tom Hicks (Caachi), Saskia Wilson-Brown (Current TV), Mark Rotblat (TubeMogul) – Discussion Leader: Arin Crumley

I met up with Michael Morlan out at SXSW 2008 to talk about the RED camera.

Thanks to Mike Hedge for filming.

Coming back from Burning Man and re-introducing myself to society has been hard. Kind of depressing. The real world is so slow. Connections formed on the playa don’t have permission to grow anymore. Watching Hurricane Ike on the plane pretty much summed it all up. It’s the end of the world. Or at least it feels like it. Maybe this slow life will eventually catch up with the acceleration I experienced out there. How long is that going to take? Help me here, what do you guys think?

I shot this video on the Cannon PowerShot TX1 ($350) in 720p 30fps on a 16 gig SD card ($50). To get really close up on the screen I went into the Manual mode and used the little joy stick to press it in once and then from the pop up menu went into super macro. Then while still on the plane I popped out the SD card and put it into my USB SD card reader ($20). Then I hooked it up to Clay’s computer which is a mac book pro with OSX.5 ($2000) and opened up Final Cut Pro 6.0.4 ($1200). Then I chose a custom pre-set for apple pro res 720p 29.97 in the final cut pro sequence settings. Then I dragged clips onto the timeline and they all needed to render. Which sucks, there is no way to play back the TX1 clips with out needing to render. This may change in future versions of Final Cut Pro which would be great. So then I used the typewriter tool in FCP from the viewers little mini-menu and choose “impact” as the font and did all my titles that way. I also used a scrolling text title from the same mini-drop down menu. Then I layered in the Dan Deacon song and back timed the dramatic ending of the song with the change to the white text on black backround. Then I chose “export with quicktime conversion” and “iPod” as the setting. Then I showed it to Isis who was standing right here and noticed that this video isn’t really funny. She did laugh at the part where I was looking for a cab which was good. She then recommended I take out the Hurricane condolences line at the end. I told her I thought it was a good move and instead decided to cut it’s length in half so that title wasn’t staying up too late. Then I exported again and uploaded to Then as usually, I logged into blip and found the video tubemogul had uploaded there and then chose the “redistribute” options to get it to myspace, blip and this wordpress blog.

FHTA invades San Francisco – Screenings and DIY DAYS

Lance and I have put together another DIY DAYS event taking place in San Francisco on August 17th. The LA DIY DAYS event was a huge success and all of the videos of each presentation are up on the our From Here to Awesome Blip.TV account. Check out this video invitation that Current TV created.

Also we are doing this cool thing where people get to decide what gets screened in the theater using their cell phones.

I was one of the 20 people asked by the 20×2 organizers to answer the question “What’s the difference” in 2 minutes. They said I could do a film, speak, play music, what ever I felt like and since I had recently had fun making music, I decided to write this song. It was a cool event and but it happened at the same time as the From Here to Awesome party so I could only stay to see one other performance which I really liked. Special thanks to Mike Hedge for filming.

Formats available: MPEG-4 Video (.m4v), Flash Video (.flv)

Tech Notes:
Mike Hedge filmed on his VX-2100 on mini-DV tapes. He rolled on about 10 tapes or so at SXSW 2008 and then gave me the tapes at the end of the event. I took them home and brought each tape in it’s entirety into Final Cut Pro onto a new blank hard Lacie Hard Drive. I did this by hitting “Apple 8” to open the log and capture window. Then I rewound the tape to the beginning, pressed play and hit the “now” button. This is the easiest way to bring in tapes. Some say it’s better to sit around and label each 1 minute of footage but that would be 60 cilps if I did that and thats way too much work. But one key capturing footage this way is that you have to set a couple preferences first. In final cut pro hit “option Q” to pull up the system preferences window. Then make sure the “abort ETT/PTV on dropped frames” is unchecked. Then also uncheck “Abort capture on dropped frames” and in the “on time code break” drop down menu choose “make new clip.” With these settings you’ll be able to hit “now” and walk away from your camera and computer if you want while all your footage gets brought in to Final Cut Pro. If all this sounds like a pain, iMovie is another good way to bring footage in. Then you can take your iMovie files to Final Cut Pro and edit them there.

final cut pro user preferences
After the footage was all brought in I did nothing for 3 months. Then suddenly I found this material and edited it together and quickly posted it. But after posting the performance I watched more of the pre-performance anxiety and realized that if I don’t add that material in then there isn’t enough context around the performance. So I edited a second version. As described in previous Tech Notes, I use TubeMogul to post videos to over a dozen video sharing sites. On draw back to this is when I change an edit as I just did. So to deal with that I just double post and leave the early one up too. No sense in logging into myspace, youtube, blip and all the others and deleting the last version. Some day I hope that I’ll be hosting my master file of a video and if I enhance my edit then all the other sites will be “ping” each other and will then re-cache their copy of my video. Until then, this system seems to work.

Also there is some basic color correction going on and during the black and white parts I just dragged the saturation all the way down. With color correction my general rule is always to lower the blacks, raise the mids and adjust the whites so nothing is too bright.

I went to this event last year to shoot video with my friend Isis Masoud who produced the ‘Art for Life’ portion of the conference. Sara Mayti shot photos of the whole event as well. We had a complete blast hanging out and it was my introduction to Macrobiotics. Eating food prepared this way made me feel completely different after the week so I’ve kept it up.

Roger Ingraham just finished taking the footage I shot last year to make a promo for this years 2008 Summer Conference. Also the footage will be utilized in an up coming short documentary about food. As I’m posting I’m currently on a farm that Roger’s Sister Sarah Ingraham runs getting more footage for that short doc. If anyone needs any of the raw footage for their own projects, feel free to get in touch since it’s so far all under creative commons 3.0 meaning anyone is free to utilize for their own documentaries.

Tech Notes:
Shot on HVX mostly in DV mode. Edited in final cut pro. Graphics all done in final cut pro. When I shot I’d shoot the entire presentation with good audio piped out of the PA. Then isis watched all of the footage and pulled out some clips and transcribed some portions. Then Roger sat down and just started pulling all the clips he liked into this promo. Then Isis, me and myself sat down and came up with good lines for the voice over recording into the audio recorder. Then roger edited those into the piece. Then he added reverb. Then we encoded in the iPod codec using compresser and uploaded to a youtube account we made for the Kushi Institute.

At Drexel University in Philidelphia on Monday I showed a clip of Episode 12. After that I spoke a bit about spontaneous filmmaking and always having a camera on hand in case you want to document something.

Then I talk about episodic cliff hangers and a structure we found ourselves coming back to time and time again. Jason, who produced Chuck and Buck brought up the fact that dickens released his first few novels serialized in the paper. Jason also mentioned the age old complaint that about there being a lot of bad stuff out there because of the democratization of filmmaking.

It's agreed that the promise is in better filtering and recommendation enginges. Then Jonathan asks us what did to raise revenue with Four Eyed Monsters. After my answer the tape runs out and then Brian Announces to the classroom a new project they are doing called "Nokia Productions" and says a press release with full details will come out on April 25th.