Thursday, July 31, 2008

Home from Waskasiu

We got home a few minutes ago from a trip to Prince Albert and Waskasiu. I shot a fair amount of film, both super-8 and 16mm, as well as video and stills. The battery belt doesn't seem to be working so I couldn't do any time laps and time exposures I'd wanted to do, but I did sit quietly in the lobby for an hour or two and finally figure out what this film is about and draft a voice over for part of it (I want to work mostly without words for two of the films, and with words for the other two, so this is a big step). I'll call this film "Grain: you can't see the forest through the dreams". The other technical glitch was that I dropped and broke my still camera, very depressed about that. Fortunately the price of them has plummeted so it'll be easier to just buy a new one rather than get it fixed. More details tomorrow.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Prince Albert arts centre

We got caught in a huge rain storm when we arrived at the parade in Prince Albert. We managed to get some refuge in the Arts Centre where Judy McNaughton and Michel Boutin work and show work. Judy is doing some cool work in two dimensions, photo colage of pones and fur with layers of paint and wax on top. We have a ceramic piece of hers above our couch in the tv room.

fantastic last minute shoot

The Guy Maddin-style film Eric and I have been discussing got shot today. It required over 100 shots and I filled the cast at the last minute with some great folks, Carle Steel, Tanya Dahms, and Rob Bos. We shot it all in 3 hours and I just completed a first cut (no effects or sound) in another three hours. It's funny, but the whole cast has been mentioned, and labeled, in previous postings I've done.
Very tired now.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

rushing and napping

This morning I lounged around doing nothing until 11 am when I was struck with the urgency to get my film developed so I could get all of the Professor Delusia films in to a surrealist film festival in Calgary, so I got Eric to meet me at the university (today is Saturday) and we quickly developed 400 feet of colour film as black and white, dried in no time flat in the heat of the the noon sun, and loaded it up and transfered it to video and were out of there by 1:30. Margaret needed the car for an Artist Trading Cards session in Lumsden so we went as a family. The place was to capacity (about 20) so I sat outside of the main creative tables and ended up dozing in the chair. Then we went to Regina Beach, at fish at the Blue Bird (which recently changed hands but seems the same) and hung on the beach. The beach was nice because it had started clouding over so I kept my pants on and just lay around, getting yet another nap.

scanner working

With some degree of unusual difficulty, I got the scanner to work again (now convinced it is a Vista problem, I downloaded a patch). Here is my portrait by William.

Friday, July 25, 2008

portrait of me

Had some meetings and ran some errands today, then spent much of the afternoon lounging by the pool working on the storyboards for the film I wanted to make with Eric tomorrow, but still don't know if it will happen. There was an opening at the Dunlop, William spent the whole time doing pretty cool drawings of people. When we got home, we watched the first two episodes of the Adam West Batman series which are still not available on dvd. Holy Downloading! Computers are great except when they don't work, such as when the scanner won't work and you can't get the drawing your son drew of you into your blog.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

fast paced creativity

In the course of three hours I worked on, hmm, I think about 3 or four projects. First thing this morning (or about 10-10:30am) Eric and I shot footage in the studio to create homages to four different Norman McLaren films. I then set up the microphone for a recording with Elder Betty for the End of Life project and, while it was set up anyway, recorded an all new "Mr. Saul" soundtrack. After the recording with Elder Betty, I created and copied to transparencies, the title sequence for the 35mm ray-o-gram style film I've been making. All this while almost dizzy with exhaustion since William woke me up at 5 (I went to sleep at 1:30) and was dehydrated from the physical activity of the shoot (lots of physical movement).
Here is a silent first cut of a video we shot today in reference to McLaren's 1956 "Blur Test".

waxing on

My top priority for today was to get film developed for Professor Delusia to submit it to a festival in a few days. However, the floors were just waxed in the darkroom, without warning, so I couldn't use it today, and perhaps not tomorrow. Eric got back from Montana but all we could do was some planning for some shooting we'd like to do tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

big storm and murder

Yesterday there was a murder three blocks from my house. The police had the whole block roped off all day. I've not read about it in the paper yet since I had to race off first thing in the morning, as
Tuesday is my teaching day, which means I meet with Chrystene in the morning (great progress on the editing, she's cut about 1/3 or more of the Sisu project) and Janine in the afternoon. However, Janine was away today so I was supposed to meet with Eric but he got delayed at the Christian hard core concert in Montana, so I was on my own. We went as a family to shoot some pin-hole images but the clouds had started forming and I needed six seconds per frame. I got 150 before deciding it was not a good use of time so we drove back in. The storm, of major proportions, followed us. I had a Filmpool meeting and just after I arrived, the wind and rain and hail just crushed everything. We watched chairs from the patio below on Scarth street get blown down the block. Amazing.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Indiana Jones

Today I guess I got a bit lazy, hung around the house and watched the kids play, did a bit a stuff on the computer that was of little consequence, hung around with Ang for a bit as he's going back to Toronto tomorrow (he dropped me off a bag of old metal 100' daylight spools in the round metal cans that Kodak stopped making around 1990). It was really hot so we decided to go to a movie and to our surprise, Indiana Jones has left the main theatres. The only place it is at is the Paradise Theatre which is in the back of an indoor mini-golf course beside the Sherwood Mall. It was surprisingly nice. The seats and screen and layout of the theatre are nice, holds about 200 (that would leave 197 empty seats plus the three of us). The projection was good (35mm and the lens seemed fin) but there is no staff so the projector just runs unattended so I have heard of numerous errors. Today the framer was off a little bit, leaving a bit of the top of the frame lodged onto the bottom of the frame. Last week William and I watched both Raiders of the Lost Arc and Last Crusade and he handled them very well. There was one death that shocked him today, and the creepy stuff in the old tombs with old skulls was spookier on the big screen than it is on tv, but he really liked it. I think it was fairly good. The 1950s stuff was interesting, the adventure itself was a bit of a rehash.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Did some secret gardens this afternoon then went to Dark Knight this evening. It was good. Sorry for the thin blunt post, but the movie was enjoyable enough that I would prefer not to talk about it with people who haven't seen it rather than writing yet another review of it (there were three in yesterday's paper but I didn't read any of them), so now going to watch some Veronica Mars.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Saturday laziness

Margaret had to work all day at the Dunlop at Sherwood where they had an opening of work by Vic Cicanski, Donna Kreikle, and i-Ann Siwek, as well as some garden events and dancing by New Dance Horizons. William and I watched Johnny English this morning then went to the opening. I'm really tired from staying up way to late watching Veronica Mars season 3, which I've been waiting four months for through the library (I was about 25th on the list, but luckily there were 3 copies). I also read The Invention of Hugo Cabret, an amazing book which was mostly drawings, all set in1931 about clocks and cinema. Check out the sample first pages on the website. I had a nap and am ready to watch Veronica Mars again until morning.

Friday, July 18, 2008

New videos

Two new videos for you today, one Professor Delusia, which was the first one that we shot and was all done in camera like Melies would have done them, and one video I've been playing with for a week on William's Lego blog. William's friend Rowan was over today and I shot material for another video, at their insistence, but have not done anything with it yet. New Dance Horizons' Secret Garden Tour began this evening, William and I went to a couple of them and Margaret is volunteering at one.

supper with Ang

Angelos Hatzitolios and his family came over this evening. After dark we watched 16mm films in the back yard. Ang found a reel of interesting shots he'd compiled for a demo reel 25 years ago and we threaded it up. Some great stuff. The funniest moment was when Ang, appearing in his own film clip, sits down on a bed and pulls his socks off and throws them aside. His kids ask about it and his wife, Christine, announces that he still does that.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

computer give and take

I took my old "evergreen" computer that I purchased from work back to work today as it has been acting rather funky since the virus I got in it last year. It is primarily William's computer now, and even he is getting frustrated with it. They reformatted the c drive and reinstalled windows but somehow in the process, or perhaps in the moving the computer from home to there, the second hard drive won't work. He couldn't figure it out but did suggest that the power supply may have failed. On the up side, he felt that the 256mb ram wasn't enough and found some more sitting around and doubled it. Works well now, so far as I can see.
Eric and I developed some black and white film, including the 35mm I exposed with wheat ray-o-grams last week. I am using a system of laying that film on top of the colour film and exposing it in different orientations with different coloured lights. I think it will be very effective but am uncertain if I'm getting it all right. The cost of my film colour film is about $160 per 100 foot roll, which is what I exposed today, so I'm nervous about how well this basically untested system will work.
Mike came down from Saskatoon today. He has a new car (for him) that William has named "Greyster". He also has a new office with a window, a reduced teaching load for the next year because he's doing work on the on-line courses, and he's moving to a new apartment. That's a lot of news for anyone, especially Mike.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mandy Cmoc

In a whirlwind of emails yesterday, it was arranged that Mandy Cmoc, who is a film student and whom I taught a couple of years ago and is working at the UofR recruitment office this summer, would come to the two sessions I had with grad students today to videotape for a recruitment video to be shown in China and India. When I contacted Chrystene to ensure she was willing to be a part of it, I also asked her about the availability of "rip-o-matics", video trailers made of found footage, and Chrystene told me she was happy to be in the video and that, without me having mentioned her name, Mandy Cmoc had made a very good one for a class Chrystene taught last term. Of course these things always come with a snag as it seems Mandy may have lost her video due to loss of a hard drive this spring, so I'm waiting to see if she can find a disc with it.
I was looking for a lost roll of 16mm film and found one labeled "sepia stoma". It would be a great title if this film didn't contain exactly what I labeled on it.
This evening we went to the RCMP sunset ceremony, lots of marching, nice evening.Publish Post

Monday, July 14, 2008

really working at home

Last night I got a call from Ed asking if Rowan could come over today, perhaps all day. Rowan and William play Lego together and I agreed, initially just for the morning but later for the day. Ang brought his kids over at about 3, making it quite a party. However, before that, I got my nose to the grindstone and got both of my syllabuses done for the fall term. I made a huge mistake about what day the classes were on, and that cost me an hour of my evening correcting it, but they are emailed in and so I feel the term is half done (planning what to teach is sometimes the biggest effort, once that is done you at least know what books to open and what film clips to find - it's almost easy). Anyway, the kids played together so well that I had very few distractions.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Angelos visists

We spent half the day trying to accomplish something, anything. We've been a bit fragmented as of late and it was getting to us. While I did re-cover an old kitchen chair last night with thick padding and red vinyl, William described it as a waist of time this morning. It took three trips to the hardware store but I did finally manage to rewire an old standing lamp Margaret found for me a couple of months ago - the wiring wasn't hard but the new socket has it's switch in a different place so I needed specific washers to jiggle it all to the right spot. Margaret is cleaning the deck so it can get stained, just a few years overdue: it was built when William was just turning two and he'll be seven soon. Then Angelos Hatzitolios called, he and his family are in town for the first time in years. Even though I was expecting them, I wasn't. It's written down but I've not been living by the calendar for so long that I never consult it. We got together for a while, he's here for a week.
I posted my new Professor Delusia video.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

fermented honey

Leslea and Leif had their annual bar-be-que today. Leif brought out his home made mead, two varieties, to sample. Odd but very nice. He added more honey at a later time for some secondary fermentation which translates into bubbles.
William and I watched the third Indiana Jones movie today (skipping the second one) and he liked it, it was never really too scary for him except for the guy who aged really fast and turned to dust. I stopped a couple of times to explain bits of history or the bible to him, but if we see the new one I won't be able to do that, so during his shower this evening I explained the cold war to him. "the Americans built one bomb so the Soviets built two bombs to make sure the Americans wouldn't use their one bomb, so the Americans built three bombs so the Soviets would be afraid to use their two bombs, so the Soviets built four bombs..." He's pretty good with figuring out this sort of pattern, and he has secret agent Lego, so the notion of spies and so on was also an easy sell. He's more informed than I was when I was his age.

Friday, July 11, 2008

sort of holiday

I hadn't really meant to take the day off but I ended up not really doing any work. We dropped William off on a play date in the morning but then ran out to the Re-Store to look for old windows for the bin I have on the farm. They have found that artists are buying these windows and the ones with multiple panes are worth more so they sell them based upon number of panes in the window. So a 2x3' window would be $5, but if it were to have a division in it making it a 2x3 window with 3 panes to it, the cost would be 3 x $3 = $9. Some of them are not large but are in 9 or 16 parts. These purchases are suddenly impracticable, but I guess so long as a few artists don't accidentally make a profit, I guess that's all right. This afternoon I took William swimming and didn't get home until mid afternoon and just didn't get focused on my work, but sometimes that is what Fridays are for.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

full day at work

I got a ride in to work with Paul today and was able to put in a solid 9-5. Eric, who seems to have the same level of exhaustion that I'm experiencing, slept in but eventually we got set up to shoot photograms. It took me about one hour to create 100 feet of this work, laying 8 feet at a time down on the slots I have and laying objects on top of it such as kernels of wheat. These images are of course the cornerstone of the "Grain" film project, playing on the idea of film grain and grain grain through the direct physical contact of the two and the drawing of the audiences' attention to the film surface. We switched to using a larger flash for exposing the film for these and bounced the light off of the ceiling. This allowed us to work on either side of the table and not have to be standing or walking at all during the process. I didn't do much developing of film (other than the first 8 foot test) because maintenance is waxing the floor in the student lounge and they moved all their furniture into the darkroom. We also did more kinescoping, redoing a bunch of the later episodes of Professor Delusia.

Sweeny Todd

Busy day, morning filled with shooting (and some re-shooting) kinescopes with Eric, and in the afternoon I had an End of Life research group meeting. Margaret worked until nine up a Sherwood so William and I packed supper and took it up there and we had a picnic. I didn't sleep well last night so by seven I was wrecked and needed a nap while William played Lego. Later while William was reading another of his Magic Tree House books (I think he's on #23) I finished volume 1 of my Popeye comic collection (1928-1930) which is amazing for the long strange story it told (20 months on the same story). After William was in bed I finally watched Sweeny Todd (which I bought the day it came out but didn't open until today.) Amazing Burton as always, I'm surprised at how daringly conservative he was with his camera, it is often locked down and doesn't move a hair (I've become highly annoyed at the constant adjusting of the frame most films have, cinematographers do it out of habit now).

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


I began the two courses I'm teaching with two graduate students today. Chrystene will be working on the post production and animation for her feature film Sisu, and Janine will be working on photography in many forms. It seems that the Flipbook animation program doesn't work with an HD camera, so it may require an upgrade for the footage shot with it to match Chrystene's project. After work we did lots of shopping including the purchase of hooks and stuff to hang the hammock we bought in Mexico, some stacks of DVD-R on sale for $3.97/25 stack, some chocolate to paint the biscotti I baked last night, and the bionicle Toa Ignika for William.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Monday break ins

Someone broke into our car this morning or last night. I guess it wasn't a real break in, as the car seems to have been unlocked, and it wasn't really a theft, as nothing appears to be missing. This morning, the door was slightly ajar and the ash tray was pulled out (I don't think we kept anything in there as far as I recall) and the cds were pulled out, but they obviously didn't know good music since the best of Dean Martin was not taken, nor any of the other treasures.
Eric and I developed a few hundred feet of film today. I mixed up some paper developer and we did some film with it. I also developed the roll I shot on Saturday, it looks great. I should probably get back to black and white high contrast film, it always turns out for me now.
I posted the first video from my new Professor Delusia the Nocturnalist series.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sunday at the movies

Yesterday, as I mentioned, we went to the farm. This is me in front of the bin I purchased (photo by William). It's 12x16 feet inside and not many holes in it. We decided to have it moved to a very scenic spot where the original farm house had been. As soon as I have a free afternoon, I'm going to the re-store to see if I can find some old windows for it.
It wasn't too hot out today, but it was supposed to be so we planned to go to the movies to beat the heat again. Saw Kung Fu Panda, very good, stayed to the end of the credits for extra bits.
I posted some new videos on William's site.

Saturday relaxation

We went out to the farm for a while this afternoon. I shot a bit of film but as I left the battery belt at the university, I couldn't use the animation controller and thus could not expose using the pin hole "lens", so it was just a single roll shot the usual way. This evening we watched the last 3 episodes of the new season of Dr. Who (freshly downloaded from Britain). Great as usual, the final 2 parter has tons of guest stars and handled well with lots of emotion and humor.

Friday, July 4, 2008

darkroom frustration

Spent the afternoon with Eric in the darkroom to develop some of the colour reversal I shot in black and white chemistry. This generally works, but today I looked at the bucket of ID-11 and it looked quite green. I decided, wisely, to test it before committing. Sure enough, it had oxydized and was no longer useful as a developer. I had another box so I mixed it up and began to develop. As it mixes hot, the development time is short, but I am confident of the charts I've made. However, everything ended up dark. The second test was also dark. I theorized that the temperature might have greater impact on the colour film than it does on black and white, so I emersed a container of cold water into it to cool it (like a big ice cube) but the next test was also very dark. I had assumed that this was all the result of overdeveloping, but then it occurred to me that the original film, being a 20+ year old roll of 7239 reversal, might be the problem. I will likely need to re-shoot. I accomplished nothing today.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

returning to the students

Busy today, but not stressful. William slept in and I managed to finish my compilation video with spinning hand transitions for How to be an experimental filmmaker (a silhouetted hand spins from the distance, at once obliterating the image as well and transitioning into the new image, in between each of the 13 chapters, now without titles). I took William downtown for lunch at the SGI building and it's great view, then picked up Margaret and they dropped me off at work then went on to buy more Lego, on sale at the Bay, while I met with both Janine and Chrystene to discuss the courses I'm doing with them this summer, starting on Tuesday. Eric and I developed 5 rolls of colour film. The two rolls of reversal, which I did last, appear to be overexposed or overdevoped, perhaps a nature of the film, perhaps a nature of the exposure. Came home with Paul then worked on Lego and some baking until now, which is time for Dr. Who.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

actually going to work

Today was the first day I'm back at work and not on a holiday. It really wasn't much different that last week except that I was prompter about answering my email. I went to the university and did some kinescoping (alone) until my battery died. I had to pack up and get home at lunch time so that Margaret could use the car - she's training someone this week so has put in a few extra hours. I worked on putting a compilation of "How to be an experimental filmmaker" together - removing titles and creating a graphic transition between each section. Carving the titles off brings the set of 13 down to below 9 minutes. William had two play dates over, Daniel and Rowan, and they played fairly well, although right now he is pouting because I've told him he has to have a bath instead of watching more cartoons (we finished the Justice League series after supper). Gavin DeLint dropped in with discs I lent him and to pick up discs he lent me. I was going to drop in on him after the cartoons but decided that William would expect to watch whatever we borrowed right away, and that wouldn't work out well. (William got over his grouchy time after 30 minutes and is now reading a Magic Tree House book in bed).
A couple of days ago a stack of discs arrived from Deric Olsen with, what the two of believe to be, a video that Fazail created with me based upon a 3D scan of my face. However, the disc won't play in either his nor my computers. It was my last hope for finding this lost video. Now I'll have to find my notes on how the 3D scanner works and start from scratch (of course the entire thing probably took 4 hours to make and I've spent 20 trying to find the files).

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Canada Day, back to work

My sabbatical is over, it's back to work, although today is a national holiday so I won't be dong that. Off to the beach then! It's too hot to sleep in. I just checked my Youtube numbers, I have a grand total of 12,938 hits on my videos, all but one of which were posted in the past 6 months and all of which were posted during my sabbatical.