Meanwhile…8 months later

Not that I even have many readers here…I mean, does anyone even read blogs any longer?

In case they do, imma gonna write something.  I’ve been BUSY!!!  OMG!!!

There, that’s the update.  I’ve been busy.  I’d love to write more but I’m too darn sleepy.  So I’ll just post some links to some of the most recent fun stuff I’ve done or am currently working on.

Managing Instagram for the Historic Carr Mill Mall in Carrboro, NC

Managing Instagram for The Fragrance Shop

Managing Instagram and Facebook for Townsend Bertram and Company

Organizing monthly screenings for  the Adventure Film Series for Townsend Bertram and Company (sponsored by Osprey Backpacks)

I screened my film to a nearly full local theatre and screened the film 7 other times besides…and now have it online for anyone to watch.

The Promo Reel for Oh Crappy Day finally went public…

My Your Bottle Means Jobs Campaign Video hit over 29,000 views on Youtube…

And a local TV Station liked it enough to make reedit for their own uses…

Then I crafted this first attempt at a series I am calling “Vital Signs”

I also decided to help out a local Fluoride activist group by making these short and simple vids.

I also finished some bigger private projects.  A wedding video…a short fiction film for entry in to the NASA Cinespace Contest.

I am slowly working on a documentary about the history and consequences of Fluoridation.  I am about to release a new series called PTSD: Mission Recovery.

Finally I just wrapped a second project for the Your Bottle Means Jobs campaign. Mums the word…it’ll be coming out soon!

Jesus…no wonder I am tired.  And video isn’t even my day job…yet.

 

Oh Crappy Day (Feature Film)/Promo Reel

First of all, this is a story about a top-notch guy…Bradley Bethel.   I don’t see him all the time.  We don’t hang out on the regular.  But you know what it’s like to run into someone who is just a fair dealer…no hidden agenda, no guile?  That’s Brad.  When you get into video editing, try to work for people like that.  Brad gave me my start by enlisting me to help out on some projects that were tricky and mind expanding for me at the time.  The first project pretty much had me filming in a medium security prison…that was the deep end for sure.

Next on the list was an assignment to help create a promotional short for some really fantastic guys named Lance Bacon and Steve Neilson.  They live a short drive away and run a company called Dagtype Films.  These guys are film aficionados through and through.  They also created a short film called Oh Crappy Day…a film that I really enjoy.  It has done exceedingly well on the festival circuit.  Steve and Lance are now revealing their plans to get full funding to take their short and expand the ideas and story into a full length feature film.  My task was to help with the interview filming and to help create and edit other existing footage into a promotional short for the overall project.

For this promo Brad and I dropped in for an afternoon on a very hot and muggy summer day to hang out with the Dagtype directors.  I grabbed my camera…we interviewed and did what film people always do…recorded every nuanced thing that we thought might prove valuable later on.  Lance and Steve are a riot to hang out with.  Be prepared to laugh…

Later on, back at home on my desktop a fellow named Ned Phillips dropped in and we worked together on the promo.  Ned is super talented and I got to learn a lot from him.  Especially in how he likes to blend music and audio between scenes to cover the clip change…lovely technique that I wasn’t using yet.

This promo was just a lot of fun to work on…the collaboration was worthwhile and I am just pleased that it is time to unlock it and share it with the world.  Please go and support these hard-working indy filmmakers and actors as they proceed to create Oh Crappy Day.

Bolin Creek Update: The Flyover

06

To catch up on what the Bolin Creek Project is read HERE.

I have been into Bolin Creek Forest more times than I can count.  It’s how I know it should be preserved from even a single square foot of pavement.  Yep…been in there a lot.  But something I never thought I would do is to see it from above.  One day, a few weeks ago though, I was sitting there wishing I could show people how special it is from a whole new perspective.  Just how small is it, or large, when seen from above?  Just how green is this oasis?  How closely is the city already encroaching? How gorgeous IS Bolin Creek Forest as seen from above?

Last week I got to find out.  A very cool local pilot took me up so I could find out.  I will save the best parts of that experience for a video episode of the project.  But I do want to share some images of his absolutely beautiful aircraft.  It’s a 1946 Piper Cub.  An original WWII Navy Trainer.  Going up in this small craft was something that changed me in a lot of ways.  Seeing Bolin Creek treetops whisk by did indeed change my perspective on how fortunate we are to have this place so close at hand. And flying in a plane that unique and rare, with such a fascinating pilot with local knowledge was a game changer as well.  I don’t know how I keep getting so lucky when it comes to finding great projects to be a part of….but the trend continues.

If you haven’t been in a plane as small as a Piper Cub, I’ll tell ya that it’s about as small as it gets.  It is more like having a jacket on as you fly through the air, than being in an airplane that keeps you from feeling that essential closeness.  I had no idea flying could feel that way.  As the pilot said, “bigger planes slice through the air…but in this plane you are a part of sky.”  I couldn’t agree more.  Anyway, after the flight I grabbed my trusty Nikon and fixed 50mm f/1.8 and had some fun.  Enjoy the pics and remember that you can click to make any pic larger.

 

 

If you like what I am up to and want to support me so I can just do more good things like this then look for me on Patreon.

6a00d83451b36c69e201b7c809dc46970b-600wi

 

 

 

Small World!

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

DSC_0047

 

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!

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.

Introducing Jennifer Curtis ~ Violin (and some lessons learned)

Recently I had the good fortune to run into a local hero of mine, who through a long and lovely conversation is now a new client.  Her violin doubles as a fiddle.  Her violin is a 1777 Vincenzo Panormo.  Jen attended Julliard and she her Vincenzo have played shows from Carnegie Hall, to Peru and Turkey-and so many other places.  I am not a huge violin guy.  I love classic music but still…not really a violin guy. But to see Jen play is not like watching anyone else.  There is something other worldly and unmistakably mysterious happening there. What I also love love love about Jen’s work with her music is that she isn’t playing within the boundaries of classical music that one would presume.  She’s classically trained and has played in grand theatres…but she is equally at home playing on the floor of huts in 3rd world countries.  She plays free local shows where she fiddles and jams with local musicians.  One youtube video shows her fiddling while simultaneously hammering the kick drum on a set.  She has participated in numerous humanitarian causes, using her violin to bring people together and create community.  I could go on and on.  But needless to say I am quite excited about generating some hopefully wonderful video for her upcoming performances and tours.

Recently TEDX contacted Jen for a shoot here in our area.  The video, to me, is stunning.  The lighting exquisite. The cuts and the flow that TEDX did on this piece are superb. I hope to one day be good enough to capture something as well as they did with my camera. But the music and the way Jen plays is the most amazing part.  I have posted the full video here…and then below it my treatment of it to specifically advertise for a local show that she is doing.  The full version below really is worth the watch.


I challenged myself to keep my edit down to 30 seconds, to try to have the text punctuated by the music and focus on using the open spaces so they fit naturally into the viewers field of view without interfering with the enjoyment of the brief glimpse of Jen’s craftwomanship. Here is my treatment…nothing too fancy but here it is…

 

Anyway…

Choosing a Thumbnail for Your Screenshot…and other text!

See that text above that is underneath the video I made and uploaded to Vimeo?  What I learned is that the file name you give the file while saving on your hard drive is what will appear not only on Vimeo, but also in locations like…say…when you embed the video in a wordpress posting…or on FB.  My original title read “JenVideoRev4”.  And you know…that just doesn’t sound that as good or informational as “Jennifer Curtis Violin at Duke University 2/6/16”.  So, I used the file name to double as informational content for viewers…especially since the video is marketing that performance piece specifically.

Pay attention to screen shot thumbnails.  Vimeo allows you to choose any frame you wish to be what people see when the video is parked.  So again…if you are making a video that is promoting a show or a location, you can “set up the shot” to help do passive marketing to show viewers-who may not even watch the video-information that may still use.

My screen shot for this says “The Road From Transylvania Home”…because that is the title or the umbrella that most of her work is under at this time, as she focuses on the work of Giorgio Enescu…a Romanian composer.

Different Platforms=Different Displays

On FB, the blue lettering is at the bottom of the screen though…but here on WordPress it embeds differently and the blue lettering is obscuring my efforts.  Lack of standardization is something to ponder.  Will more views come forth on Youtube, or FB, or Vimeo?  When choosing a screenshot for parked video…if you have informational text, it’s worth pondering.

Quick Way to Change Embedded Video Screen Size On WordPress Blogs

When I embedded the codes from Youtube for video #1 and from Vimeo for video #2 they came with presets.  Initially the Youtube video loaded in with presets at

width=”640″ height=”360″

My Vimeo vid was way smaller and didn’t want it to be.  So, if you ever run into this…and you want your screen to be larger for the video just go into the HTML tab and find the width and height and change-o presto.  Mind the aspect ratio.  You can’t just make the numbers whatever you want.  But if you are brand new to this…at least you now know that width=”640″ height=”360″ gets you a pretty nice size.  When you click back to VISUAL it should be there in the new and improved size.  Don’t forget to check the Preview tab to make sure all is well before publishing.

 

Artisans Kick Ass (or)…my latest video: Jeff Chelf-Woodworking

First…the video…

Jeff Chelf: Woodworking from Charles Morris on Vimeo.

 

I used to daydream in photographs.  All day long my Nikon D200 was imagined in my hands.  I would see something and imagine just how to capture it.  I’d dream about trips I could take, with my camera riding shotgun like a best friend in the seat next to me.  I kept an eye on the sun’s progression at all times, noting when the washout hours were.  For those that don’t know…during the apex hours of the sun’s path across the sky, colors are washed out to a large degree. What many consider “well lit”, to a photographer is “washed out”.

But somewhere along the way I just began daydreaming in video.  I don’t know why or how it happened.  For years I had made throw away videos for my various small businesses I always seemed to have simmering on the backburners.  Art was definitely not part of the equation.  It was informational only.  I definitely wasn’t daydreaming then.

I just began to notice that I was spending an inordinate amount of time thinking about how I would film something.  What angles?  What location?  What’s the message?  And that’s what caught me the most.  Beyond how a video I might create may look…what would I want it to say?  I have been a poet for years…and a writer as well.  Both of my kids are writers.  There are a lot of words flying around in my house…

I realized that just as I strove to say something well with written words, I wanted to help people say something well with video.  Today video is mostly used to display something that happened.  What’s being missed is what a video CAN say.  That is what matters to me the most.  Second is how it visually appeals or looks.  What use is something that is visually stunning but says nothing?  And in this day and age, someone with something valuable to share will unfortunately be ignored if the context in which it is presented isn’t visually appealing.

I realized I wanted to help people out with both.  I wanted to work with people who did things that I felt offered a true value proposition…and help them present it in a way that would allow that valuable thing to be noticed and heard.

What I want more of in the world is the natural….the non machine made.  I am not all anti tech. After all, I can’t make a video without a computer.  But why are we making so much crap by machine when the people…the Artisans-around us, can make it more beautifully and with more meaning to it?  So, I decided I wanted to represent artisans.  So, that brings me to Jeff.  Jeff is an artisan.  I knew him from before, when we worked together in retail.  I ran into him after my whole “artisan” epiphany and asked him if he’d like to work on a video together to help promote his work.

It was a fantastic shoot.  I couldn’t list all of the great things that I learned through the process of working with Jeff.  Too many.  Mostly though what stands forth is that I fricking love working with artisans.

Artisans kick ass.

They help us not forget the values that make us human.  Hand made objects.  Things that people spend hours making matter to us…and change our lives when we interact with them.  By extension, owning things made by or hiring an artisan  to make something for you connects you to that person and their lineage of craftmanship.  Imagine if everything we owned was made by machines…if everything we touched or viewed was machined by robot or assembly line.

I want my video work to promote a world that is the opposite of that.

Musicians, painters, sculptors, writers, woodworkers…feel free to write to me any time.

Here is what Jeff has to say about it on his site…
“My work stands in sharp contrast to the endless cycles of modern consumerism, purposely reaching back into our most rooted traditions to make furniture that is both pleasing to the modern aesthetic and lasting. Having ventured into the ancient worlds of maritime construction and blacksmithing my work now reflects these varied traditions and takes from them the elements most lacking in our modern lives.”

People like Jeff are exactly who I want to make videos and stories about.  They keep us more real, and should have our support.  And honestly, many of these artsy folks are off the grid, not internet savvy, camera shy and not the best promoters of their work.  Video editing is NOT their strong suit.  I hope to work with many more to help them get their art out into the open.

Anyway…I hope you enjoy the video about Jeff that I made.  It was a very positive collaboration and needless to say…if you need something done with video, let me know, but refer all woodworking questions to JeffChelf.com.