Monday, March 30, 2009


I pulled out Thumb Wars in animation today, the students who had stuck around (I told them that those who had work to do on their projects could leave at the half way point) hadn't ever heard of it before; I guess it was a short term fad about five years ago. Back then, all my students were familiar with it and not interested. Funny how short cultural memory has become.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


It appeared that I had a glorious day to myself yesterday, a day that I could accomplish anything. Margaret went to artist trading cards all afternoon, William was at a play date all afternoon, and I was home. I wanted to finish my grading then do something fun or creative. I then realized that I didn't have a connector I needed, nor did I have the car I needed to get it. I knew I could still get something done, but made the mistake of agreeing to upload Vista service pack one. It took hours to complete this. In the meantime, I didn't even complete the minor little animation I wanted to do for William's blog (I just got it done this afternoon, HERE IT IS). Now, with the weekend melted away, all I've really done is answered a lot of email.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

meeting with teacher

We had our meeting with William's teacher this morning. Just to prove that he comes by his patterns honestly, we were late and talked too much, therefore also leaving late. The rest of the afternoon involved William playing with Lego and me working on grading. This evening we watched the live action version of "Hogfather", based on the Terry Pratchett novel. It was over 3 hours long, so it's been a late night.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

colds in the cold

Winter never ends, nor does the cold and flu season. Yesterday Ian Toews came into my class, gave a really good talk I think. I had to race from the University straight to the Filmpool where I had a meeting. By the time I was home at 9, I was exhausted. i fell asleep at 10, got up at 2 with a huge sinus headache and watched Mr. Magoo's 1001 Arabian Nights (much better than I'd thought it would or should be) and got a bit more sleep. Today was mostly meetings. Paid bills on my way to work, including extra taxes from both me and Margaret, and took William to acting this evening (second last class of the term). I feel a wave of meetings building; there are already too many but each of them seems to be tabling topics for "next time", meaning the time after classes when we'd rather be getting on with something else. I think it's just the cold talking, feeling cranky. i'd better get over it before tomorrow when I have to look at my students' new assignments. Best to face them fresh and in a good mood.

Monday, March 23, 2009


I'm teaching animation but barely doing it. Here is today's half hearted attempt to bring William's Lego to life; FOUR LEGGED ROBOT.
Actually, I barely consider this to be animation, actually i just moved a graphic (photo of cool Lego that William built) across another graphic (Mars shot from NASA) with After Effects. Today in animation I met up with my students at the Filmpool and we looked at the Oxberry animation stand. I also showed them The Story of Turtle from Turtle Island, which I made 13 years ago on that same stand as well as on a similar stand in Toronto. I also saw a very interesting stand that Bernie Hi has designed for shooting miniatures. It has a central podium and a pair of arms that rotate together so the camera can rotate around an object but the background remains stationary. I can imagine a number of modifications, especially if it were to be used for animation as well as live shooting.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

seeing everyone

Today we went to my parent's for lunch where William built a Mega Bloks Neo Shifter toy (you really have to build with this stuff to realize how much more poorly built Mega Bloks is than Lego). This video discusses it. We came home just in time to catch Faith and Rowan before she took him to a meeting, so Rowan came over to play with Bionicles for a while. They were going to go with Margaret's parents to the Imax, but things ran behind so they just came over for coffee instead. We went to the film student society steak dinner fundraiser where we saw lots of students and faculty. Later I saw Kevin and Mike, who'd come to town for a Monday meeting. As busy as it was, it seemed fairly relaxing.

Life is Like...

William went to Gavin DeLint's son Jack's fourth birthday party today but was in a bad mood the whole way there. I assumed it was because he'd been up late last night (nearly midnight) but as he attempted to sleep on my lap (quite out of character) I began to suspect he was also sick. We exited after the cake and went home where he suggested that he get some rest. I installed him with another Animorphs book (the 39th he's read) and a hot water bottle and went down stairs to roast a pheasant. When Margaret got home she noticed it was cold in the house. We quickly determined that the furnace wasn't working (it had been first thing in the morning) so we called the guy. He came fairly quickly, while Margaret was out getting cat food because our not-so-picky cat refuses to touch the new brand we bought a few days ago, and he finished before she got back. There was a chunk of dryer lint covered insulation lodged in the air intake and that made a switch trigger. That was a $133 piece of lint. William finished the whole book by mid afternoon and started to feel better. He stayed up late again, starting his 40th Animorphs book. We have three more out from the library, then we are out of avenues to get more unless we start ordering them on=line. There were about 60 of them in total.
Paul called to direct me to this snowman, his face is plain snow, perhaps it melted off, perhaps it was never there. It was directly behind Allan's house.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Canada Post ate my homework

One of my orders from Amazon is two weeks late. The tracking told me that it was picked up by Canada Post, but the story ends there. I went to the post office and they couldn't tell me any more than that but they gave me the 1-800 number. I called them and they eventually told me that they'd damaged my package and I'm to contact Amazon to get them to make a claim. I contacted Amazon, which is a very odd experience. You follow the contact link of their site and click the "phone" choice. It then asks you for your phone number and tells you that someone will phone you. With a groan, I did so, knowing that I'd be waiting the rest of the morning for a call. The moment I keyed in my number, the window said "calling" and my phone rang. The computer calls you, then you wait for an operator, just as if you had called them. In the end, Amazon was very nice and they'll be shipping off my order, which was actually half of an order they divided in half, and they'll be dividing this half in half again since part of it will take a couple weeks and part is available now.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Yesterday I got Amanda Cachia, the director/curator of the Dunlop Art Gallery to come to my class. I guess what I found most interesting was how distant the world of cinema and galleries is. When she named the big names in intermedia art such as Stan Douglas etc, the students mostly draw blanks. I don't blame them, I'm not all that familiar with most of them myself. They aren't discussed in cinema text books, in film studies, or in most film production courses. I'm not sure if she was dissappointed in the education film students get, or perhaps just disconcerted that people that seem to be so well known are not.
William went swimming, they didn't change pools since last weeks fiasco. He had a great time going off the diving board many times.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Today I realized that I've forgotten a lot more than I thought I did. This came from being reminded of some work and collaborations that were being planned about 4 or 5 years ago that I'd completely forgotten had happened; that's about the same time as this inexplicable potato masher photo.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


I seem to bring up swimming more often in this blog that it's discussed at home, but I guess it's been on my mind a lot since William's school swim was canceled. I took William swimming this afternoon, we'd not been in about a month. We got to the change room and discovered that we'd forgotten William's goggles (they were on top of his horse at home). He freaked out and wouldn't go in the water. I went to the lifeguards and asked if they could lend us something from their Lost and Found. They literally didn' t know if they had a lost and found. One of them thought that anything on this one table was probably lost and found. I took one set, they were not as good as the ones he forgot (but had not yet admitted forgetting) but was satisfied enough to go in and have a super good time. He went off the diving board over and over again and then started diving in head first off the pool edge like I taught him a month ago. He even made one attempt to dive head first off the board, resulting in a ear splitting belly flop,

Saturday, March 14, 2009


I'm not on vacation but I was feeling a bit low yesterday so I spent most of the day at home. I went to work just to check on things and to get my "Vacation" script that was in my computer there. It is basically a diatribe about how I don't believe in vacations because I always work during them so never get any rest.The weather finally changed and the snow got soft enough to make one last round of snowmen. This isn't one of them, it is the melting remains of a small one that's been frozen solid on our deck table since last month, melting a bit now and then but solid until yesterday.

Friday, March 13, 2009


William had swimming for school this morning, he was so pumped he even got to school on time. However, the 40 kids arrived at the pool to find that no arrangements had been made, there was only one lifeguard, and that lifeguard told the kids to jump in the pool. Well, half of them did (not William) and some of those didn't know how to swim! Suffice to say, the teachers pulled everyone out immediately and the session ended moments after it began. William felt ripped off, he didn't even get wet. I bought him a Bionicle as a consolation prize.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

no workshop

I was planning a workshop on projection art as part of the Projections show at the MacKenzie Art Gallery for this Saturday but there were not enough participants so they just canceled it. On one hand, I didn't feel quite ready enough. My notes are in disarray and my materials are not yet collected. However, I have already done as much as I've not done, that is to say, I have been writing notes and going to talks and thinking about stuff and skimming through books and buying materials, so it's a shame I'm not using it. I suppose I'll work it into my experimental film course this fall.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Robin Schlaht

Filmmaker Robin Schlaht came into my class today. He's been doing a really engaging tv show called "A Few Good Men and Women" about police training that I admit I was apprehensive about at first but it's really well made and interesting.
I just finished grading my Film 200 video projects. I need to copy them all as they will be looked at as part of the students' application to continue in the program. I had one handed in on dvd rather than on tape. I don't have a good system for bringing that together with the other videos; it should be easy but all of the editing software is designed not to accept dvd files into editing sessions. In the past I've gone to the university and fed the disc signal as linear video onto tape or into the Avid with the old-style capture card so I could use it like I use other video. A bit of a pain but convenient for me to do, I have keys to all the rooms. I don't know what I'd do otherwise.

Student videos

I uploaded three more of the found footage videos my students made last term onto the FILM400 Youtube site. I'm still missing one. I think it's a worthwhile project, will probably redo it again next year with modifications.Here is me with Professor Christina Stojanova and animator Caroline Leaf last week. In animation today we used a drill to make wire into cable for use as puppet armatures. Perhaps they are too strong now, difficult to determine at this point. Each student who wanted an armature, now has something to work with.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Saw Watchmen this evening. Was good. I've not read the comics since the eighties when they came out but much of it came back to me. I guess what surprised me most was that they set it in 1985. This makes perfect sense, cold war and the age of the characters relative to the various other wars, but I've become accustomed to re-writing of every story to set them contemporary that I didn't imagine they'd make it a period piece. I bought it immediately as 1985, except one moment when the rich powerful guy had a mouse on his computer. It may be that the mouse had been invented and that this guy would have one, but it was another character, one who has no access to high tech stuff like that, who uses the mouse without hesitation. I'm too lazy to find the comic and verify I'm right, but I doubt they drew one into the original (perhaps there wasn't even a computer?).



then I went out and Margaret and William watched Monty Python without me. He apparently noticed that the parrot was dead before they mentioned that it was.

back home, time to check the laundry, or perhaps something completely different.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

William has readers

Late this evening, still in the midst of massive house cleaning and crisis management, I put together a very minimal video for William's blog, this time featuring the rocket that Paul built for him. He had a friend at school ask him how to join his blog last week. i took him over at Rowan's house today and we showed him and his sister William's blog as well. He is starting to establish a viewership so I'd better start to produce work for him.

Friday, March 6, 2009

festival went well

I didn't attend the $100 Film Festival but I just received an email from a stranger who said "the entire theatre was laughing and thoroughly enjoyed the show". There was a bit of a household kerfuffle yesterday that derailed our day and so I've got a bit of catching up on things today. William has a day off school so I'm home with him this afternoon.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Calgary Festival

For anyone in Calgary tomorrow evening, my film "Cake", a 3 minute super-8 film about baking a cake that is accompanied by a narration by William, is opening the $100 Film Festival at 7:00pm at the Plaza Theatre.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

early movie

Couldn't sleep at 5 am so I got up and watched Chrystene Ells' "Sisu" before anyone else was awake. I was alert enough to spot a frame missing from one of her animated sequences. Am I supposed to be that nit-picky?
I also tried, for the first time since Christmas, to update my website. The last time I fuddled with it, Paul was over and he set up some parameters before we quit for the night. It ends up that I can now do updates really easily. I added a couple of links to my link page that are part of the agreement for my my site being part of a collective called the Fringe On-Line, instigated by Mike Hoolboom. I'm really excited about it. I will have to figure out how to re-establish the counter on my site.

warming up

It's March and the weather is finally taking a turn. Chrystene delivered the defense version of her thesis film Sisu to everyone today - I've not had a chance to watch it yet, probably tomorrow. Caroline Leaf came to my class again today to help discuss the student projects. I think it was a pretty positive environment, we talked about everyone and a lot of good ideas came out.

warming up

It's March and the weather is finally taking a turn. Chrystene delivered the defense version of her thesis film Sisu to everyone today - I've not had a chance to watch it yet, probably tomorrow. Caroline Leaf came to my class again today to help discuss the student projects. I think it was a pretty positive environment, we talked about everyone and a lot of good ideas came out.

Monday, March 2, 2009


I spent much of today fighting how tired I seemed to be. I had a bunch of reading to do and couldn't hold my eyes open, but William had a friend over so I couldn't take a nap, all I could do was make more and more and more coffee. Now I'm awake.