Friday, September 30, 2011

Tiring but successful day of art

Today I workshopped my dozen students through film development. I also reviewed the basic process through my first crude powerpoint presentation, rather than some crude drawings on the white board. Most people got images. I have given them double X reversal film (200 iso) rather than the much more challenging high contrast film I often use and have given students in the past (10 iso). I reasoned that the students no longer use enough film to see this other film as a break from the norm or a unique challenge; they simply see it as the reason they no longer use film at all. I think all but two rolls turned out adequate or better.
 I also developed a half roll that I'd had loaded in the optical printer. I used coffee to develop it, based upon Roger Bunting's method like we did in class last term, but with a much larger amount of film. I interpreted his instructions for coffee film developer to mean that the timing would be at room temperature for 25 minutes. As this is about triple the time needed to develop with the Ilford or Kodak developers I usually use, I tripped the time on my temperature/time development correlation graph. Heating the coffee/washing soda mixture to 38 degrees, which would usually develop in 4 minutes, I put the film in for 12 minutes. While this seems to be a multitude of assumptions, it proved correct and the film turned out well (see above).
This evening we went to the Cathedral Community Centre where Margaret hosted a cupcake party and the unveiling of the wooden prototype of Heather Cline's metal sculpture/bike rack which is in the works to be installed there. There will also be two other, slightly smaller ones installed elsewhere in the neighborhood.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Robin Schlaht awarded

 This evening our department awarded local filmmaker Robin Schlaht the first ever MPS Distinguished Alumni award. He then screened a great looking 35mm print of his feature "Solitude" at the RPL and we had a relaxed and engaging reception at the Artesian. I've not been in the basement of the Artesian before, it has the bar and some super swank couches. The film students wisely grabbed up the best places to sit. I hoped they learned that from us. Dennis and Melanie Jackson came in and I had lots of time to talk to them about the upcoming feature length "Wapos Bay" finale and their new series which starts shooting in the spring. They were fortunate to get Gordon Tootoosis to record his voice for his character before passing away earlier this year. Gordon's brother needed to record the Cree dub of the character as it was done later.
This afternoon I ordered in 20 rolls of super-8 film for a not-yet-announced new screening event.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Boy oh Boy

This evening we checked out the fabulous Halloween stuff at Value Village. The wigs are a good deal, about 2/3 the price we paid for one this summer for the 48 hour film frenzy. William got a vest which we almost stole since he was wearing it as we exited the store (we returned to purchase it). Luckily we did, or we'd not have noticed this cute little dolly. I acquired a 99 cent item which I'll need for my costume (not yet revealed).

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

taking a breather

I took William for a test on his lungs today to see if he has a touch of asthma or not. The results were inconclusive but, in my opinion, looking negative. He's had a sort of cough thing happening for a couple months now that no one can diagnose. I think the cures are becoming more onerous than the symptoms.

Monday, September 26, 2011

flying dead?

Today we worked on the human body as a puppet for animation. When we animate, we bring inanimate objects to life. When we animate a person, such as with the work of Wrik Mead, or in Neighbors by Norman McLaren, the subject seems less alive. In the video above we are riffing on the famous flying scene of McLaren's.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Roger Ing movie camera painting

A few weeks ago I got a call from Colleen Mahoney whom I've known through the film community for many years. She asked me if I was still involved with the FIlmpool and if so, would I do her a favor. She won an original Roger Ing painting of movie cameras, framed, from the Filmpool back in 1996 and wanted to donate it back to the Filmpool as she didn't have a place for it anymore. She eventually dropped it off with me and I hung it on my wall (out of harms way) for the past few weeks, enjoying it very much. However, today I went to a Filmpool Board meeting and delivered it into their hands. It's a pretty nice piece and I"d like to have kept it, but there was a spot on the Filmpool wall which was just calling out for it. I hung it up and it felt right.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


William wanted to host a small party today. Margaret taught an ATC workshop all afternoon and I spent the day with a houseful of kids, trying to make them into a yardful of kids. Even though it was a scorching 30 degrees today, they continuously gravitated back to the Lego or the Wii. I finally got them to make  a movie which I then edited and gave to each kid on dvd. I'm sticking it onto William's Youtube channel; it's called "The Murder Club" and it begins a bit slow due to the fact that they were shooting it all on their own and letting takes run on too long. They asked me to help shoot because they all wanted to be in it so I began getting cutaways and various coverage. You'll notice the stylistic transition at the point that they go outside. They had lots of fun making it and it shows. All of the parents came in the evening and we had a nice bbq.

Friday, September 23, 2011

new creations

 In class today we successfully peeled emulsion off some film and transplanted it onto other film with the help of Fantastic" all purpose cleaner. See image above.
This evening we went to the huge gala opening at the MacKenzie Art Gallery for the Jack Sures ceramics show. William liked it; we explored how each images drawn into the plate/bowl/tile had something highly inappropriate in it. Lots of anteaters having sex. They had an area where people attending the opening could create a small clay tile which would be displayed at the gallery. William and I made one together.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

let there be light

My new LED lights for the kitchen counter came in today. Installing them required leaning backwards on the counter until I thought my lungs would surely collapse, but in the end the effect is very pleasing. I had to go back to the store to purchase the cord to plug it into the wall as this was inexplicably not included with the product. My previous lights were a pair of florescent bulbs, one of which was begining to fail, and the product was discontinued so I could not buy a third one to lengthen the strand and be able to see around the sink area. These are only 8 watts per fixture and as they are solid state, will last a very long time. I feel ready to start my Christmas baking. Let the carols begin.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Thorneycroft talk

This evening one of my favorite photographers, Diana Thorneycroft, did an artist talk at the Art Gallery of Regina. Very interesting. It was terrific meeting her. William was also happy to come. He even sat quietly through her entire talk, a first. I think he was surprised to see her present images of boxes of Auschwitz Lego created by another artist who influenced her.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Day tripper

William had a doctor's appointment this afternoon. He finally got a proper check up and they'll be investigating his cough further. He opted to stay out of school after that and run a couple of errands which included trips to Rona and Home Depot. I bought the tiles for the tub. Nothing fancy, although we might get some detail tiles for highlights. When we got home, the birds in the tree above our house were really really loud but were quiet along the rest of the block. I recorded them and am trying something new. I've uploaded the audio to my website: here is the link. I left it as a wave file so it is a bit big. I suppose I should have made it an mp3. Perhaps I'll replace it later. I've done this because it is difficult to find a place to put audio without video on the web. You can't do it in this blog, nor on Facebook or Youtube. You CAN do it on Myspace (and I have a profile) but thought I'd try something I could organize myself.
This evening we went to William's school for their welcome back BBQ. We saw his classroom and talked with his teacher and also saw the "time machine" which is part of the upcoming centennial of the school. William has a drawing inside it. Janine Windolph and Gerri-Ann Siwek are involved heavily with this.

Monday, September 19, 2011

animation is life, not movement

Today in class I introduced Adobe After Effects to the animation students. I never light teaching software. I presented it in the UDML, a computer lab we share with Computer Science but which I am never particularly comfortable. A funny thing happened that I was trying to log in and it required me to create a new password but that password was found to be unacceptable by the server. I tried one variation after another. I finally tried logging in through one of the student machines and low and behold, it worked. Just odd. At least I was somewhat prepared today, having created some demo sessions yesterday for everyone to copy to their computers and follow along. It went better than I expected. Here is the piece which combined live video, single frame animation, traveling masks, keying, and multiple computer animated layers which was the culmination of what I presented. It's not much but it contains the basis for almost everything I could expect them to accomplish with this program this semester.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

no reshooting this scene

We went to the farm this afternoon. I insulated around the window I put in last time. We also inspected the site where the old house was that Margaret's dad and brother burned down a couple weeks ago. I filmed it for "Grain" three years ago (see prior post). All we found a single piece of burnt wood and a bit of electrical wiring.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

More computer news

This afternoon I bought Margaret a new laptop computer,.a cute red Asus. I got everything set up for her except how to get it to print over the network so she's ready to go and can embark on her two new writing projects with lighter weight and more battery power and faster internet access.
This evening we went to Leesa, Kenneth and Daniel's house party which combined a 30th anniversary and a 10th birthday. Margaret wore her new tall yet comfortable rocker shoes.

Friday, September 16, 2011

ups and downs

I ran way out of time today in class, didn't get through half the stuff I wanted to. I tried doing ray-o-grams using an LED flashlight but it was too bright so my images are far overexposed. Oh well, I'll squeeze more in next class.
My computer crashed at least twice today, one of the times was in front of me and it had not reason (as opposed to yesterday when I was pushing it hard with HD video and made Premiere fail but not the computer). Makes me worry.
I finished watching Torchwood this evening: have been saving them up but this week got obsessive about watching it. I also watched the season opener of Star Wars Clone Wars with William but missed Ringer on the other channel.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Watched the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie tonight. It wasn't nearly as confusing as I'd remember it being.
I finally finished dubbing my entire body of films back into a single computer. Now what?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

end of blue screens?

A pattern for my computer crashes finally began: they would happen at increasing frequency until the OS wouldn't even launch but then would work again after sitting off for a few hours. It is overheating. Consulting with the tech at OTV it was determined that it would have to be the processor heating. He noticed that the thermal paste was not right (probably because I didn't apply it correctly... or at all, don't remember) so he cleaned it up and put a fresh layer on and now it seems to work again.
We watched the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie this evening; borrowed it from Kevin because William is interested in the story behind the Lego video game

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

wasted day

Much of my time today was spent trying to get my computer working. It is now looking like the project I was going to pitch for the Filmpool premiere screening will need to wait for a future opportunity as the soundtrack is locked in the non-working computer and I didn't put in the 10 hours to fine tune the picture because I used that time trying to fix this machine. Obviously my decision making this week is highly flawed. I did have some momentary hope this morning when the tech thought that my problem might simply be an old and overly rigid sata cable connecting the c drive to the motherboard. No, after a half hour that also crashed. In fact, the more often I rebooted, the sooner it crashed until it no longer ran Windows at all and froze on the start up screens. Then I left it sit for 4 hours and low and behold, it started! (at least for a few minutes). This seems to prove that something physical is going wrong, most likely that something is overheating and then works again after it is cooled down. Paul suggests the power supply. I don't know how much more time I can spend on it this week though.

Monday, September 12, 2011

animation teaching

My animation course began today. Also had a dozen other duties so couldn't get away early to figure out my computer. Haven't even tried to turn it on since Saturday. SCN relaunched with commercials and American programming today. I watched it a bunch but, with the exception of Bruce Steele's "5 Days" cheesy but heartfelt commentary/interview show, it seemed like a mash of Discovery and CityTv. Disapponting.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

computer pleasure, computer pain

Today, as I'd promised him on Friday, I took William to the university so that we could work on his video. While we did have a few glitches getting the mac to import files from the camera and recognize my pocket drive, we eventually got some momentum. William was a bit impatient at times as it did take over 6 hours to edit his 55 second animation. This was due to needing to paint out his hands which crept their way into about 100 of the frames. In the end, he was very happy. I was pleased to see how quickly he picked up on painting frames or shaping traveling masks. At home, I've had no time to fix my computer. I removed the c drive and put a reformatted one in its place and tried to load the operating system into it. Now it won't boot windows at all and tells me there is some sort of registry error. I don't know what that is. I have picture that I'll add later but the ability of this 7 year old laptop to communicate with the camera at the same time it is connected to the internet seems somewhat limited.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


 This evening I went to a screening of three local dramatic short films. The quality was good on all of them but I have to admit being taken by the energy and madcap fun of "Betty Boom" by Trevor Corrigan starring an ex-student of mine, Pamela Muench (above with Nathan Ottenson).
This afternoon Margaret accomplished the impossible: she got to a garage sale before they had sold their Lego! She bought two big bins for $5. Of course there are occasional non-Lego imitations but they usually fight amongst themselves with no survivors (see above).

Friday, September 9, 2011

Long Friday

First class of the term this morning: Directing Experimental Film. I mixed it up a bit and created a new assignment (city scape) and had them shoot some video with SLRs outside because it's still over 30 degrees. After class I had to go directly to the Harvest hotel for our faculty retreat (in progress). When it ended, a few of us went next door to Blockbuster which is closing down. I bought Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey on dvd and Breakfast Club on blue ray. Late this evening we drove a few miles west of the city to see northern lights. They photographed very well using the Canon 5D at 6400 iso. This image is a bit blurred but I'm having trouble selecting from the images as I am working on an old laptop due to my computer being more broken than usual today. It doesn't boot up and I 've removed the c drive and replace it with an empty one and tried to install the operating system. However, it is just not liking this and I'm getting very frustrated.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

William animating

When I got home from work today, William had been reading the Lego magazine I got him which discussed ways to animate with Lego. He built the shooting table described in the magazine and wrote a script and began shooting.  When I told him he would need at least an hour to do it, I guess he thought he'd get bored before he finished. He told me that he was surprised at how interesting it was to do.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Old Crows

My computer started repeatedly crashing last night and this morning it was difficult to boot it up. I took it into the shop and got a suggestion for checking the ram. When I got home, I couldn't quite figure out how to get the boot disc to work but it seemed to work just fine (after I'd reconnected everything except the internet and the sound). I left it on all day and it never crashed. When I hooked the sound and internet back in, it crashed. Did one of those things cause it? If so, which one? Now I"m waiting and seeing if it happens again.  I updated the flash player and Firefox last night but when it crashed a while ago, the browser wasn't even running. Hmmm.
This evening William and I watched Tank Girl then we all went to the Mysteria Gallery and saw a performance by Robin Poitras and an opening exhibition around theme of crows. Seeing crow images gives me some diabolical ideas sometimes. The performance was integrated with film created by Jackie Dzuba and Rob King.
William's little cough/wheeze lung viral infection hasn't gone away yet. You can hear it periodically in the background during this video (sounds like a small chuckle). He's had an inhaler for 12 days now and we were told it would likely clear up in 3-4 days. Hmmmm.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Diana Thorneycroft exhibition opens

This afternoon, after I had my final meeting with Trevor Grant to finalize his summer term, we went to the Art Gallery of Regina where the new Diana Thorneycroft photo exhibition is up for the next month. She uses dolls to depict horrible and shameful crimes which have been committed in Canada. She lights everything with a flashlight over time, making each print unique and giving them peculiar pools of light. I created something in the ballpark technically above. The centerpiece in this image is a wasp hive Margaret picked up down the block a few days ago.

Monday, September 5, 2011

new additions

I went to the farm today and put in a window in the back of the "cottage". I thought it would take an hour but since it was 3/4" too large to fit between the joists, it took me four hours. I need insulation and some different bolts for the detailing to finish it.
I got back to Regina and dropped in to the baby shower for Marla. Here is her baby (or at least a picture of it):

Sunday, September 4, 2011

family supper

We had supper at my mom's. My (second) cousin Julia was there. Her son Kian is becoming a little boy. He has a few words and toddles around confidently.
Kevin came by our house later. Margaret quizzed him about contracts and financial statements until 1:30 in the morning, the latest I've seen him up in years (he's an early morning guy, even though tomorrow is a holiday).

Saturday, September 3, 2011

looking up

After years of not knowing what to do about solving the plaster peeling off my bathroom ceiling, I finally bought the non-cracking plaster and fixed it. The actual ceiling beneath the thin plaster layer is solid and without any cracks at all. I removed as much of the loose stuff as I could. It will need sanding and perhaps other layers, but appears to have worked. out.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Lino floor

It went down to 5 degrees last night. This morning Margaret turned on the furnace. 
Evan figured out the capturing problems so I've finally started capturing my entire body of work onto a single hard drive. When I put together my dvd compilations a few years ago, none of my drives could hold them all so I had to delete things as I finished with them. Now I expect to be able to retain the complete works on one drive.
We selected and purchased new flooring for our bathroom and also looked at bathroom lighting.
This evening I finished baking biscotti and we watched Scott Pilgrim on blue ray. I really love that movie. It is such eye candy but with characters that embrace stereotype of self consciously that they defy it.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

chipping away at some jobs

Visually, shopping for tiles was the most interesting thing I did today. We bought one for 42 cents. There were some cool multi-coloured glass ones for $46 per square foot. At work, I ran into multiple glitches getting the editing system back working (the Apple didn't want to recognize my external drive as a writable drive, even though it had been used on that system before). This evening I baked biscotti and put in a new router for my computer. The old lap top from work didn't like it but Paul eventually got it working. The internet on my computer is much faster now, even though the old laptop is basically as fast as it can ever be.