Summer Clouds Timelapse and some old pics

When I was primarily a photographer (2008 – 2014) summer clouds were my favorite subjects.  I was always in pursuit of the best formations.  Summer around here in NC is the best time to capture dramatic cloud interactions.  Here are some of my old favorites from the good old days.  Feel free to click to enlarge.

 

 

Now I am pretty excited about seeing what video can do to capture these same moments.  To be able to see up close what the cloud is doing, how it is unfolding or building is something that can’t be captured or seen unless it is timelapsed and accelerated.  I find that it takes about 6 minutes minimum to create anything worth watching…due to how much you must compress the timeline.

On a recent night out, I was hoping to capture a lightning storm with driving rain curtains, but the rain abated, the lightning stopped and what I ended up with was lovely fast stacking and falling clouds right in front of the setting twilight.

One thing that was quite challenging on this night of shooting was that I saw the clouds forming up as I left a restaurant in town.  I raced home to get my camera stuff from inside of my air conditioned house.  The outside humidity was probably around 95% and the air temp was close to the same.  It  took nearly 30 minutes for the cold camera body and mirrors, and lenses – to stop sweating and heat up to match the surrounding temps.  I should have foreseen this.  I used to shoot all the time at the Butterfly House at the Museum of Life and Science and the air in there is set to match weather in the tropics.  The first thing you do when you get into those kinds of places is let your camera breathe and adjust…you just don’t even bother shooting for the first 20-30 minutes.  Everything will be fogged up.  This was the longest I ever had to wait though.  I had to detach everything and let it air out for a solid 30.  I missed what I came to get…but got something I still really like and would have overlooked had my camera been working from the start.

Anyway…here is my latest…and don’t forget when viewing that Vimeo defaults the viewing res to the lowest standard.  To see the HD version click on the HD button and adjust as needed.

 

Summer Storm

I don’t get the chance often to create from a totally creative perspective.  You know…just something to mess around with for fun.  When you are paying bills with video work you do end up surrendering a lot to what makes the client happy, it’s inevitable.  Also, after you start doing paid work it’s hard to find the time and motivation to work on something purely for enjoyment.  Also there is the risk of creating something that isn’t shiny, perfected and may seem amateurish to others.

But tonight I FINALLY put aside some time and put together some fun footage that I had on hand.

Here it is…then more story to follow below after the video.

Summer Storm from Charles Morris on Vimeo.

I first recorded the lighting night shots perhaps…last summer?  I was at home, and already a fan of night photography so thought I could capture some lightning if I just set up my camera for an extended period of time…and then slowed down the footage to grab stills of lightning in action.  Instead though I have been at work scrubbing through the 30 minutes of footage for nearly a year…pulling out blackness to only leave the lightning portions remaining.  Right away I realized that if I just pulled out all the blackness, there would be no lightning.  If it was all light, there would be no way to tell when the flashes were, it would just be like some sort of crazy daylight.  I ended up trying to balance it out with equal dark and light…then I time compressed it.

Focus was also an issue.  It’s hard to focus when there is only lightning flashing. So, it’s a bit off.

For the daylight video, it was just taken 4 days ago, when there was a HUGE storm here in my area.  My daughter and I were out at this perfect sunset watching/stormcloud watching spot…a local secret spot for photographers (and I am still not going to name it!)  Sadly I didn’t have my camera with me that day…as we had no idea such a wild storm was brewing.  I have to say that when we got there it was just in time to witness the most intense real life cloud movements I have ever seen.  Even though the footage you saw in the video was time compressed…about 8 minutes down to 40 seconds or so…the video feels the way it felt in real life.  The clouds were moving so fast and the colors were so intense. I have never seen anything like it.

Back to cameras…all we had on us was my daughters’s iPhone 5.  I set it down propped up against my sandals on the side of the road, from two different angles.

About 5 minutes after the footage ends, the daylight stuff, it was storming so hard that people had to stay inside the building nearby for nearly 45 minutes due to lightning and rain.  It was awesome.

It only occurred to me later to tack on my beloved night lightning footage to the piece.

When the editing was done I wondered about music.  Add in someone else’s audio from storms?  Wind sounds?  U2’s Bullet the Blue Sky?  I am very careful about copyright stuff though so searched for something else.  My son mentions these guys who make Youtube videos/musical compositions named Derek and Brandon Fiechter.  So I looked them up and found this video.

I liked it…dropped it in and that magical thing happened where, with no editing at all…it somehow appeared synched to my footage.  I emailed Brandon and Derek to ask them their permission to use the song and within 10 minutes they graciously agreed.

Anywhoo…that’s the story.

Small World!

So…today I am editing some photos for a client’s website.  Like this one…

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He needs some new headshots and when we made the video below…he asked me to snap a few shots.

He has just put his new site together and after I emailed him to confirm that they were waiting for him there in the Dropbox folder…I think “hey, I should drop by his site and take a look around.”

So I drop by to take a look.  Here…you take a look too.

http://www.risksandreligion.org/

Then I read to the bottom of the home page (as you may have just done as well) and saw the following:

“In a past life, Phil was a musician for Baobab and Crowdsource. One song ended up on a GoPro commercial (here).”

I click on the link to watch the following video:

First of all…what a fricking gorgeous video.  Secondly…my buddy Phil made the awesome music and though I knew he did more than talk about the end of the world…I didn’t realize that he was on that kind of level as a musician.  Well done Phil!  What a (humble) guy.  When I ask him about his musical past he only says “I used to play music”.

The reason my posting here is titled “Small World” is because in my other, non- video, life I have a part time job in an outdoor retail shop where we sell GoPro cameras.  We have a kiosk for GoPro with a screen that plays GoPro vids on a loop.  The video I have been watching now for over 2 years has this pelican in it!  All this time I have been watching a video that Phil helped make and I never even knew it.

That’s a small world!

Rad Vets To Premiere at DocUtah!

If you follow my blog you are probably sorta tired of hearing about Radioactive Veteran.  I SWEAR to you that I am working on lots of other fun projects as well.  But just too tired to write about them…because I am working on them instead of writing about them.

I just posted yesterday that Radioactive Veteran got fully funded…right?  I mean, that’s good news.

Well tonight the producer, Bradley Bethel, group messaged us that our doc got accepted into DocUtah.  Is that fricking off the charts cool…or what?

Hint..the answer isn’t “or what”.

DocUtah is an international film festival.  That’s classy.  But you know what is even better?  It is in St. George, Utah.  St. George Utah is one of the primary towns affected by the very kinds of tests that Radioactive Veteran highlights.

As one local resident put it back in the 1950’s…

“I remember thinking that it was normal to see piles of dead lambs …”

Claudia Peterson

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What could be a more fitting location to kick off  this film’s public entree?  I can’t think of one.

We hope you’ll come out and see it.  More details to follow once we know them on precisely what time of day the film will premiere.

Radioactive Veterans Gets Fully Funded

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Bradley Bethel (Producer) and Mark Wampler (Director)

I have been very fortunate in my short life so far working in video.  My first professional foray into the field resulted in being an Associate Producer of Radioactive Veteran, a movie about…well…just read my previous posts.  In short, it’s fricking awesome. It also just got fully funded to the tune of 10K on Seed & Spark.

The two guys above were part of the team that it wouldn’t have happened without.  I first met Brad in the video biz when he screened his movie Unverified here in Chapel Hill.  I was really impressed with it.  I had worked with him in another capacity outside of the video realm for a while…and was always hampering with notions that perhaps someday we could work together.  Now we have and it was great.

I met Mark when I heard he was looking for help with turning a whole lot of great information and footage into a full fledged documentary.

We met for coffee and…well…now it is fully funded.  It’s been a great process for me to watch unfold and I learned a lot.  Mainly what I learned is that it takes a team.  Also I learned that though there are many times when you are up against a deadline…the fact is that nothing really happens quickly.  There will be so many revisions and so many late nights and “last minute changes” and “it’s good…but how about we change this…?”

I am hoping to be able to attend some of the film festivals where this movie will ideally (fingers crossed) be showing.  If it comes to a town near you, check it out.  Especially if you know of any vets from the WWII era…it’s really a riveting look into their lives.

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Mission: Recycling Matters

Recycling isn’t what you think it is.  It runs deep.  It is saving our planet.  And it is on the ropes.  Economically and politically we are in a losing battle with our excessive lifestyle.

For years I have wondered precisely what happens to a water bottle when it is recycled.  Where does it go?  Who takes it?  What is it turned into?

A few months ago I made a great connection with a local who, it turns out, is a high level expert on recycling of plastics…and waste management in general.  He mentioned that he is part of a group that is working hard to try to reinvigorate PET recycling here in the Carolinas.

 

I have teamed up with him and other associations to undertake capturing, in my own way, the story of plastics recycling.  The focus is here in the Carolinas but if one extrapolates the challenges happening here, as well as the successes, it is accurate to extend those conclusions nationwide, worldwide.

This kind of story is exactly why I got into video work.  I know that I say that about every project.  What can I say?  I love what I do.

Yesterday was spent travelling to South Carolina to film in three different facilities.  I am sort of at a loss for words to say what it was like.  The recycling industry, when taken as a whole is overwhelming.  The amount of good that it can do, is palpable, but the amount of work it takes is staggering really…commendable.

Only 30% of goods that can be recycled here in the Carolinas are currently being recycled.  Yep…7 of your 10 pals are throwing away perfectly recyclable plastic.  This project is an attempt to turn that number up a bit.  Why not have everyone recycle?

The first thing to know about recycling is that it is an incredibly dirty business.  It’s also filled with fantastic technologies, progressive thinkers, and a lot of really hard workers on the sorting floors.

Anyways…my trip to SC was fruitful.  I have one more day this upcoming week.  I can’t wait to put together the footage into a shiny new video…and down the road would love to see it spun into a documentary.  This trip was especially fun because my daughter went with me as an assistant.  I gave her my Nikon D300o to play with and my 1.8/50mm lens.  She put it in manual mode and never looked back, manually focused everything.  Over the years I have taught her a bit about composition.  I hope you like the shots she took here…there are some really lovely ones.

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50th Wedding Anniversary “Slide” Show

I recently had a married couple (full disclosure: MY parents) approach me with the idea of creating a video for their 50th Wedding Anniversary using old printed photos that they have had in memory books for decades…5 decades!  They wanted a short retrospective of sorts.  And there were a lot of photos to go through.

It was a lot of fun walking down memory lane while perusing through so  many images.  How to cover the last 50 years in pictures?  They have traveled widely, had two children, have two grandchildren…it’s been a full 50 years.

So we came up with the idea of starting the video at the beginning and an image of my mother’s parents, then starting on my parent’s actual wedding day.

My main concern in creating what ended up being an 8 minute long video was how to not get stuck in what most slideshow style retrospectives suffer from…they are boring as dirt to view.  Sure the images themselves can conjure up memories and those are enjoyable, but whenever I think of slideshows I have seen at weddings or memorials they all really look the same in terms of photo orientation and so forth.

I feel like there is life in the photo that gets flattened.  What is it like to hold a photo in your hands, vs looking at a flat 2D image on a screen?

With motion graphics we have created a way to give a sense of motion to a still image…so I first thought of just scanning in the images in a scanner and then working with them that way.  Then I began comparing clarity of scans vs. camera capturing the images (taking pictures of the old pictures with a high quality camera).  As I began to snap pictures, foregoing the lengthy and mixed results that can come with scanning, I bemoaned how un-alive the photos were going to look.  They just looked better while held in a real person’s hand…like someone was just about to hand you the pic…like we used to before the digital age!

So, I turned my Nikon’s video mode on and just started filming as I went through the sequence of photos.  I realized quickly that I was essentially doing what motion graphics are designed to do, but with actual motion instead of pretend motion.  I like the feeling of seeing that a photo was and can be a handheld and intimate piece of time.  And as always, there is a quality to printed photos that digital imagery will never be able to replicate.  There is a warmth and precision there that feels alive.

I would LOVE to do more retrospectives from actual printed stills if anyone ever has a need for it.  Anywhoo…here is the quick sample below.