Monday, May 31, 2010


I spent the morning and evening helping build mom's gazebo today. I was working with John, a handyman they hire quite often. Real nice guy. We screwed up the project a few times due to the very poorly written instructions and had to double back a few times. There were these bolts that were supposed to be inserted into these slots at an early stage but we misinterpreted it and actually removed them and had to go back and put them in then go back again and put additional ones in. The story could be wonderfully agonizing but I'm feeling too tired to tell it.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Filmpool AGM

Today was the Filmpool AGM. I am mid way through a two year term on the Board. Some discussion of SCN. Otherwise the only item of note was the announcing of a call for projects referencing the films of Jean Luc Godard to create a screening in December coinciding with his 80th birthday. I've got a few thoughts. I have this exact camera (but not the lens) as he is holding in the image above.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

swinging in the rain

Margaret arranged an art croquete course as part of the last day of the festival. Here is William beside the wicket that he designed. It rained all day. William had a birthday party this evening so Margaret and I had supper alone for the first time in years. It might have been odd had the evening been odd to begin with as Margaret was exhausted from standing in the cold all day.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Cold screening

Tonight was the Filmpool's "Screening Under the Stars", as part of the Cathedral Village Arts Festival. They claim it is the 19th but it's actually the 18th. One year the festival organizers simply never made contact with the Filmpool and asked SMPIA to organize the screening. By the time the shit hit the fan, there was already someone committed to selecting and hosting the screening of projects from the industry to present. It was a cold night like this one and I missed it. We all went tonight though, weathering the cold and rain. The screening for the past couple of years have been on video instead of film and have been shorter. While a bit less romantic, this is certainly more practical for the event and venue. They showed the Film Frenzy film I worked on last year; it was nice to see it again.

This is my 1000th blog entry under my regular blog.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Attack from beyond!

At midnight last night I came down with a migraine. Unusual in that I rarely let one late at night but I guess there is no real pattern as I only get one every year or two nowadays. My morning was a wreck with a couple of commitments but stayed home for much of the afternoon. After school, William painted on the sidewalk along with dozens of other kids as part of the Connaught Library event for the Cathedral Arts Festival. His brain attack is above. I didn't hang around because my mom called last minute to ask if I'd help assemble her new gazebo. We got it half done. This evening we attended an opening of paintings of local houses by Jana Kutarna at the Mysteria Gallery on 13th (below with her two favorites - photo by William).

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

testing 1-2 uh...

This is a 2 second test of some of the 35mm footage I've been creating for my Grain film series. It is exposed without a camera by laying objects such as grain and other strips of film on top of raw stock in the dark then flashing it with light. Erik and I managed to create about a minute of usable material today, a personal record. The test below is very crudely done by just photographing a few of the strips of film then collaging them into a filmstrip file so that they are transformed into a frame by frame movie. It does do well at simulating the work. This is a positive version as I hope the final film to look. I will intercut 5 seconds of black and white with 5 seconds of colour.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Victoria Day art creation

Victoria Day today. We went to the short parade on Elphanstone to open the Cathedral Village Arts Festival, then to the park and had some fun drawing with the "comic jam" run by Allan Dotson inside the Balkwill Centre. Later I took William to the playground where I shot 300 feet of film of him playing with trucks in the sand for my "Grain" project.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

cute cat photo

A few months ago I was looking at this blog and pushed the "next blog" button at the top of the page. It took me to a cute cat blog. Next after that was another cute animal blog. A total of eight consecutive blogs after mine were based on pets. It made me wonder if the majority of blogs were about pets or if they were catagorized together with mine somehow grouped with them. The experiment is reproducable however and I've never researched it further.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

William's computer

I spent most of today replacing the video card on William's computer. It is about 6 or 7 years old so it wouldn't run current games including the copy of "Spore" I bought for him yesterday. When I opened up his computer I discovered that the video card was nonexistent. Instead the moniter connected more or less to the motherboard. I took the entire thing to the computer shop where A&B Sound used to be. They advised me about the sort of cards that would fit. They don't put price tags on anything but instead keep the prices at their lowest possible rate based on daily computer updates. They suggested the $54 GeForce 6200 video card. There is a faster one for about $110 but I figured his processor couldn't really keep up with it anyways. I also got some dvd cases that hold 5 discs for only a buck each. Some pleasing impulse shopping. I'd have bought him a new monitor too but they are very short staffed, busy due to this being a rainy day, and, due to the nature of pricing, you cannot simply pick up bigger items. The guy at the counter said that the LG monitors had speakers and cost $180-200 for the 22"screen. Much better than the $300 or so that Best Buy wanted. I'll probably go back but will need to consider desk space. I want to claim William's old monitor as my second one (I have a duel monitor card that is underutilized). Anyway, the card was the right one and I thought I installed it easily but when I booted up, there was no image. I switched back to the first card and it didn't work anymore. I had to open the machine back up and remove the card and then boot up again. Then I installed the now-non-existent hardware, turn it off, put the card back in, boot again, and eventually it saw and used the new card. I then ran into another error which referred to the directx software. This took me even longer to solve but eventually I found the new version of directx, installed it, and got his game working. In total, nine hours.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Dalek I love you.

I don't know why the first paper mache project of my life had to be an almost impossible Dalek, but it was. It is supposed to rain the next few days so I've had to move it to the garage. The wind has been tearing it apart but also helping it to dry.
William took the video we did, "Heart Break" to school today and they watched it in class, twice. It makes me feel like a good dad.
The last department meeting of the season was this afternoon. Short and sweet. Other meetings tomorrow and next week of course, I don't think they will really end.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

how many geralds can dance in a pinhole image?

To the upper right is me with a striped shirt on, trying to hold still for 12 seconds but also needing to open and close the "shutter" of the pinhole camera (a coffee can with a flap over the hole). I wanted to do some more experiments. This one contained a secondary transparency suspended inside the can but I can't see any sign of it. Unfortuanatly I needed to quit for the day and couldn't do more tests. This was done with a new can Trevor Grant and I built today. We calculated the f-stop at 120. Again, this is a paper original, scanned and flipped positive in photoshop.

Post script: as per the comment from Brett, here is the Titan image:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

lost marbles?

For years, ever since I did my first pin hole camera image, I've wondered about using something as a make shift lens. Today Erik suggested using a drop of water. We couldn't figure out the logistics on that but we did get Roland's help at drilling into a can and inserting a clear marble in for use as a "lens". The results (above) likely show more signs of the flaws on the surface and bubbles in the interior of the marble than it does of the subject material (similar set up as the image from 6 days ago). This is a negative. If you stare at it long enough you can see your future (passing you by... what are you doing staring at that -- go do something for goodness sake!!!).

Monday, May 17, 2010

William's video

I put together William's video called "Heart Break" today. I did effects yesterday but had severe doubts that I could construct a story. I stared at it for a while, going through the motions of sequencing it, but then dozed off and when I came to I was much more focused and I think I made something of it. The basic story is the William plays a guy who gets dumped by his girlfriend (played by Teagan) who then says she likes another guy (Bill, also played by William but this time with a mustache). William's heart is broken so he goes for surgery. I play the doctor against a green screen. It all ends poorly and Teagan laughs. I did lots of effects for things like mechanical parts in William's chest, William driving a car (badly), and a tin heart cracking. I used lots of loud and silly sound effects to emphasize all the unrealistic elements in it. The running time is just over 3 minutes. All I need now is some music. I have put in a request for a download from Goby. They have a site for free music for non-profit films at this site.
Here is a clip I've omitted:

In the driving scene I used, I replace all the sound with clean car noises, squealing tires, and honking horns.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

snakes on the plains

Today Margaret, William and Gerda drove out to Fort Livingston (past Yorkton) and saw the snakes in the process of emerging from their nests. I stayed home and painted screen windows, worked on a video, and organized some papers that were long overdue. Perhaps I should have gone too, but I have to admit that I got a lot of pleasure from having 10 hours alone.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

wake up

Yesterday William and Margaret went out to the farm instead of going to see snakes waking up in Manitoba. They did see a snake but it didn't wake up. It had been caught by a hawk and dropped on the road, dead.

Friday, May 14, 2010


A few days ago we bought two new fish, a pair of tetras who seem to be getting along very well. Now we have to start using food again. The snails and the catfish have been living off of nothing but algae tablets for the past couple of months.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

walk on the wild side

Last night I walked (and sometimes jogged or ran) with William as he showed me how far he can go on the bike path. From the Balkwill Centre near our house he went west to the baseball diamond, under Pasqua, under the Lewvan, north two blocks and around the bend to the Italian Club, past the dog park, under the 13th avenue tunnel, under the rail bridge with the giant cement Lego blocks, around the golf course and to the edge of the RCMP barracks. I made him turn back at that point, even though he says he went further the previous time. We had to get back before dark and, as I said, I was walking. I considered just cutting over to Chrystene's house since it was in sight of where we were and get her to drive us home but I wasn't completely exhausted yet. That would come soon enough as we raced against the fading light all the way home. I still ache.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


I met with Trevor Grant again today. Amongst other things, I pulled out my coffee can pinhole camera and shot this image. What you see here is a digitally reversed version from a scan of the 5x7" paper negative original. The clouds had swept in so we used a 12 second exposure.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

research day 2

Worked with Erik again today. He is interested in something called a slit scan which is the creation of an artificial shutter for a camera which allows you to expose the frame one portion at a time over a longer than normal period. We built one out of a pineapple tin, some black wrap, and a cut up dvd case. Here is Erik holding the device:

Our results were not great but that was more to do with our lack of an slr camera and substituting of my "red camera" which has no manual control on the shutter length. Here is one result:
We also talked further about my Rerun project. Erik pointed out that he thinks that we are going about the project in the wrong way and I assured him that he was absolutely right. The right way would be to plan, to previsualize, and to pre-determine the overall structure before jumping into the production of minor details. I have a strong aversion to doing things the right way so we are charging blindly ahead (except Erik who has decided to open his eyes).

Monday, May 10, 2010

Wish I missed "The Mist"

Last night I watched "The Mist", a movie from a couple of years ago based upon a Steven King novella. I appreciated it at first. It utilized a very economical structure where almost all of the action takes place with one set of characters in one confined location (a grocery store), reminiscent of "Night of the Living Dead" in its minimalism or "Dawn of the Dead" for its logical convenience, but with monsters coming out of the trans-dimensional fog rather than zombies coming out of the dark. The "surprise ending" promised on the package was in fact the predictable ending; the "surprise" was that the characters find neither a twist nor salvation. When I was a nihilistic teenager, this would certainly have appealed to me. Today I felt heavy with the two hours of burden I subjected myself to.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

mothers day

Busy mother's day today. William and I prepared some coffee and fruit for Margaret. Later in the am, Margaret's parents and brother came to our house where I made waffles and bacon and so on. Later on I took my mom shopping for a new office chair. We started at Staples where the selection was good, although the service was terrible. We made some observations then she insisted we go to Costco where we bought a chair from the three choices they had. It is a good one. I assembled it and the final two bolts were not long enough (made in China) so I went to the hardware store and found replacements. Everyone happy.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

William speaks

Last night I was so tired I could barely stand. I collapsed in bed around 10:30 but then woke up around 2:30 and watched the end of "Navajo Joe" where Burt Reynolds plays the title character. Strange but oddly suited to late night viewing. William interviewed Geoffry Farmer, the artist who opened tonight at the Dunlop Art Gallery. We videotaped during the install this morning at 9:30 and you'll be able to watch the interview on an ipod that you can book out from the library. I began editing it this afternoon but I need another day to tweak things before it goes public.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

back to teaching

Today I started a course with Trevor Grant who has just begun his MFA program with us. He's an experienced documentary filmmaker. We are working on photography and today we just ran through some basics of the camera and technology and actually spent most of the time touring the department (since he not only needs the facilities of his course but will be teaching Film 201 in the fall) and talking about what an MFA means. Next week we'll get on to some creative stuff.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

research day 1

Erik started with me today. We talked, did some preliminary thinking about "Rerun", looked at the 3D scanner again, and developed some film. I invited Berny hi to join us and develop some film too as I won't be able to join up with the Filmpool's film frenzy this year so he'll need to take charge. We dried the film outside but it had grown so cold that the drying war very slow and painful on our our hands. I finally processed two rolls I shot in September 2008 of macro close ups of grasshoppers; it will be important to my fall episode of "Grain".

Monday, May 3, 2010


While it is the first week of May and most academics start taking a lengthy break, not me. My day was filled with meetings, letter writing, and an impromptu discussion with Geremy Lague, the second student I've hired for the summer to help on my projects. I managed to find my notes I wrote in October for the "Rerun" project (which at that time was to be a comic strip). The notes are written on the agenda to a meeting in very small, messy text so that no one sitting near me would be able to tell that I wasn't really paying attention. Next job is to translate them and find out if I have as funny as I thought I was that day.
I baked some biscotti but the batter had a lumpy consistency that I couldn't solve and the loafs ended up being very crumbly. I lost about 1/4 of the batch to breakage and those that survived are small.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


It got cold this weekend and we didn't do any of the stuff we planned like shooting a new movie with William or doing some yard stuff. Instead I got my taxes done (late) and built more Lego. My mom found a classic 1999 Star Wars x-wing fighter Lego set and William was very pumped to assemble it. Luke Skywalker has classic yellow Lego skin rather than the skin toned Lego they make for trademark characters now. He is always very excited to handle older Lego; there are subtle differences that really make his day.