Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Yusupov Palace

11/5/08 - Updated version with shadows and side buildings added:

Original Post:

I've been working on this for quite a while and would like it to be finished. It's an "exterior shot" of Yusupov Palace, the main location of "Killing Rasputin". I still need to add buildings on the sides, add shading to the whole thing, and figure out some way to have a river flow in the foreground. These clouds are temporary, I'm gonna have to draw some of those as well. So time-consuming. The actual building is below.

"Welcome to the Deuce" (2007)

I went to Dusseldorf, Germany in Fall 2006 for my school's third-year study abroad program in film. I had a great time over there, and really fell in love with northern Europe. After returning, I was asked by the program head to edit together a promotional video for the program to attract more students. I was provided with footage of interviews with my fellow students and several hundred photographs. Because the interview footage wasn't that pretty, and was the only footage provided (other than the students' semester projects), I had to make the still images come alive somewhat, and so I started messing around with motion graphics, something I was unfamiliar with. The end result is something I could definitely have done much better with gift of hindsight, but I'm still proud of it. Unfortunately, the Dusseldorf program has been relocated to Bonn starting next year, so this video is no longer the advertising tool that it once was.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More Rasputin Improvements

A few more comparison shots between the unfinished screenings cut of Killing Rasputin and the more polished and stylized version I'm hoping to send to festivals soon.I may have cleaned up that vase a little too much.

This shot of the eavesdropping air vent was fun because I wasn't restricted by footage. I'm hoping to make some exterior establishing shots of buildings and locations from scratch as well.

This still needs a cartoon chair to replace that green sheet. I now regret not renting fancy furniture.

I don't know what I did with the original green still of this one, but just picture the actors in color and surrounded by blinding neon green. This background was a lot of fun to texturize. I use Transform Perspective more than any other tool these days, and I've only known about it for a few months.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hope for America

I'll preface this by admitting that I am most definitely voting for Barack Obama on election day. I have always admired him, but after reading (listening to the audiobook of) The Audacity of Hope, I trust his judgment and his understanding of the United States, and think he'd make a very good leader. I'm a registered Republican but only out of my strong admiration for the libertarian views of Ron Paul and Barry Goldwater. I think the current Republican party has overstayed its welcome and needs to regroup, hopefully rising out of this mess with more concern about actual fiscal conservatism and less concern about divisive social issues that should be left to the states anyway. John McCain could have made a good president if he were elected back in 2000. He certainly would have handled 9/11 a little better. And he might have made a good president this time around, if not for his old age and his selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate. Even if his health is as sound as he claims it is, the risk of Palin somehow becoming president is too dangerous. Anyway, so yeah, I'm voting Obama on November 4th. And I'm actually feeling optimistic about it.

But moving on, here's a picture I designed of Grover Cleveland in the style of Shepard Fairey's Obama posters. I am in a band called Grover and President Cleveland's likeness is our "logo". This was pretty time consuming but it was fun trying to copy the look faithfully.

Here's the original designs by Shepard Fairey:

And here's Grover's 2008 campaign poster:

Shepard Fairy made a damn good political poster, and imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Killing Rasputin Improvements

"Killing Rasputin" was my thesis film project at LMU. It is a 15-minute narrative about the assassination of Rasputin in Russia in 1916 just before the communist revolution. I shot the whole thing on green screen, so it's very effects-intensive. The cut I screened for school was incomplete visually and rushed. After letting it sit for a while, I've come back to it and plan to have it ready to screen at festivals soon. Below are some comparison images showing the original footage, the shot as it was screened in May, and what the shot now looks like for the newer cut. I'm using Photoshop filters like watercolor by converting the footage into image sequences and performing Photoshop batch operations on them, then turning them back into footage. It's a time-consuming process that involves creating a full-quality jpeg of every single frame of footage. For the background images, I originally sketched out roughly what I wanted, then sent those over to my friend Nick, who created the lines and shading. Now I'm going back and adding texture and additional shading to the images, as well as tweaking the opacity and blending modes of the individual layers.

I've gotta fix (draw) the desk and chair for these to be finished.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Old Shirt Designs

I thought I would share some of my old shirt designs with the internet community. These are all projects from a semester course I took in silkscreening my final semester at LMU. I'd taken two other printmaking classes going into it, but I'd worked mainly in linoleum and woodcut printing. Silkscreening was the next logical step. We had to come up with a "brand" that we would remain consistent with for all of our projects. I had a few political-minded design ideas, so I thought I'd stick to that. I printed all of these at least once, but only the Castro and Mao shirts and the Grover shirts have ever been sold/distributed amongst friends.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

"Wargyle" sneak peek

So I'm just about ready to start on what will be my first real "series" of screen-printed shirts. The designs are made up of high-contrast images of weapons and military equipment arranged in argyle patterns, hence "Wargyle". I think it's kind of clever wordage. Anyway, I'm still not set on the specific arrangement and scaling of the patterns just yet. I'm going to print no more than 50 of each, all probably on American Apparel shirts, and price them at $25-30 a piece (still not sure about that - there may be a friend price and a stranger price), and they'll all be signed and numbered.

This business with the Orphan Works Bill has me a little paranoid, so for now I'll show you one of the three designs in a low resolution. Look closely, that's hand grenades and AK-47's, with a high-caliber bullet "stitching" that you can't really see.

Friday, October 3, 2008

"I Heart Milk" (2006)

This was so long ago now that I think about it.

I was a sophomore in college at LMU's film school taking the FILM 260 course (now known as PROD 200 under the new catalog I believe), which was the first class where we actually got to shoot, direct, and edit shorts for credit. We finally got access, however limited, to LMU's production equipment. We got to use the Sony HC-85, not a great camera by any stretch, but a pretty solid basic production camera nonetheless. We also had access to a really basic lighting kit, but I was nowhere near confident (or competent) enough to mess with that.

I'd already shot the first two of three films for the class. The first was five minutes of in-camera footage, not to be edited, only to be played against music for screening. I shot my mother in the process of painting (she's become a dilligent and talented painter and pastel artist in the past few years) and set it to "All Tomorrow's Parties" by The Velvet Underground. It was all right but nothing to rave about. Nevertheless it was pretty valuable in learning how to shoot for editing without actually editing. My second project was about a small-time garage band that joins together and then falls apart. I was allowed to edit this one and I took full advantage, writing a cheesy classic rock soundtrack in Garageband that timed up pretty perfectly with the footage. I used my friends/actual bandmates as actors and felt all right about it.

For my third project I hit massive writer's block, unable to come up with an idea. It's funny, I think most anyone can come up with an idea for a five-minute silent short fairly easily, but when you're under pressure it somehow becomes much harder. Anyway, my due date not only snuck up me, but also turned out to be a week earlier than I had estimated. Unable to put together a script/actors/crew in just a matter of days, I did what any sane person does...

I wrote it, shot it, starred in it, did everything in it. I shot it at my parents' house, giving only the sun authority over scheduling. And somehow I did it all in one day. It was slightly awkward setting up shots with no actor, pulling focus on pillows and other placeholders, then pressing record and running into place to pull off five or six consecutive takes. But I have to admit it was pretty fun.

Anyway, why lactose intolerance? Why now? Well, like a good college entrance essay, when you have no ideas you must turn to personal suffering. I'm lactose intolerant and deal with it, but I'm not a big fan of sweets anyway. However, there's always moments of temptation where I crave that bowl of ice cream, and I've fallen victim to a few of them. I'll just say it's never worth it and always ends in someone's bathroom. This film, if it represents anything, represents the lactose intolerant person's frustration with living in a lactose-friendly society.

Correction: My dad pulled the zoom on the last shot. The HC-85 isn't that clever.

PS: I have no clue where hard copy of my first two films might be. My professor might still have them but who knows. I've had so many hard drives crash without warning it's sad.