Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Reading on a smoky day

Huge fires up north have blanketed the city in smoke. Other than a couple of errands, I was able to bunker into the house and read today. This is the end of six months I've committed to reading (my new years resolution to read at least 10 pages of film/art books per day). I completed these 11 books and also read a few other articles: 
1.       Illusions in Motion by Erkki Huhtamo
2.       Pervasive Animation edited by Suzanne Duchan
3.       Photography Beyond Technique edited by Tom Persinger
4.       Mining the Home Movie; excavations in histories and memories edited by Karen Ishizuka and Patricia Zimmermann.
5.       Funny Pictures; animation and comedy in studio-era Hollywood edited by Daniel Goldmark and Charlie Keil
6.       Jubilee Book; essays on amateur film, Inedits, 1997
7.       Fantastic Voyages of the Cinematic Imagination: Georges Melies’s Trip To The Moon edited by Matthew Solomon
8.       Lovers of Cinema: the first American Film Avant-Garde, 1919-1945 edited by Jan-Christopher Horak
9.       Media Archeology edited by Erkki Huhtamo and Jussi Parikka
10.   A Geology of Media by Jussi Parikka
11.   The Great Art of Light and Shadow (Archaeology of the Cinema) by Laurent Mannoni

Monday, June 29, 2015

35mm projector close to working

I lunched with Derek today. He's been tinkering with my old Acme portable 35mm projector and thought he had it running. However, once I arrived, it was only moving slowly. He suspects that the belt needs changing/adjusting. I experimented with the threading path and think I'm close. The most confusing part is the threading of two rubber rollers which make up the coaxial twist between the feed and the gate. I found a similar one on ebay but it has one less switch and doesn't have the work light inside. The ebay item doesn't have pictures of the patent information panel on the outside of the case either. The three prong power cord is missing and Derek has had to make due. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Visiting Omi's cat

 Hot day today. Had a few things to catch up on but took some time to stop in and visit Margaret's mom's cat and cut its claws. Shocking how much smaller she is than our cats. Yesterday I bought "Lost World" by accident, thinking I was buying "Jurassic Park". We went and exchanged it and then hid from the heat and watched it at supper time.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Nick crazy about fresh catnip

Margaret got a deal on catnip plants at the farmers market today. Nick went completely nuts eating it. Seemed very calm afterwards though.
Met with Christine and Elizabeth about the gallery exhibition next year and about the Armenian screening they've curated. At the same time, I managed to consolidate my meetings for next week all into Monday, giving me no scheduled activities in the first week of July!!!
Jacked up the back porch 5 mm so that the door closes again (it hasn't been latching for the past eight days when the big rain hit).
William started learning Toon Boom. It is on my computer but now that his computer is fast, I'll start loading software such as that onto his. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Second year of weekly French films

It has been a year since I last listed the French films that William and I have watched on our weekly "French Fridays". Last summer we watched a mixture of French and other foriegn films. The list of last  year's films are HERE.
Starting next week, we will be dedicating the summer to Luis Bunuel and will probably resume French language films in the fall (I expect to explore more Quebec cinema). This year we watched since last June:
Asterix & Obelix, God Save Britannia by Laurent Tirard
Les Enfants Terribles by Jean-Pierre Melville
Micmacks by Caro & Jeunet
Fanfan la Tulipe by Christian-Jaque
Boudu Saved From Drowning by Jean Renoir
La Coquille et le Clergyman by Germaine Dulac
Blood of a Poet by Jean Cocteau
Blue is the Warmest Color by Abdellatif Kechiche
The Doctor's Horrible Experiment by Jean Renoir
Starbuck by Ken Scott
Orpheus by Jean Cocteau
Testament of Orpheus by Jean Cocteau
La Marseillaise by Jean Renoir
Cleo de 5 a 7 by Agnes Varda
Les Bonnes Femmes by Claude Chabrol
Le Boucher by Claude Chabrol
Au Hasard Balthazar by Robert Bresson
Les Mistons by Francois Truffaut
Antoine et Colette by Francois Truffaut
Stolen Kisses by Francois Truffaut
Bed and Board  by Francois Truffaut
Love on the Run by Francois Truffaut
A Prophet by Jacques Audierd
Masques by Claude Chabrol
Jean de Florette by Claude Berri
Alphaville by Jean-Luc Godard
Manon des Sourses by Claude Berri
Eyes Without a Face by Georges Franju
Les Diaboliques by  Henri-Georges Clouzot
Blue by Krzysztof Kieslowski
White by Krzysztof Kieslowski
Red bt Krzysztof Kieslowski
Carabiniers by Jean-Luc Godard
Made in USA by Jean-Luc Godard
The Grocer's Son by Eric Guirado
Night and Fog by Alain Renais
Une Femme est une Femme by Jean-Luc Godard
Contempt  bt Jean-Luc Godard
Une Femme Mariee  by Jean-Luc Godard
Pierrot le Fou by Jean-Luc Godard
Masculine/Feminine by Jean-Luc Godard
2 or 3 things I know about her by Jean-Luc Godard
La Chinoise by Jean-Luc Godard
Week End by Jean-Luc Godard
A Nous la Liberte by Rene Clair
Entr'Acte by Rene Clair
Under the Roofs of Paris  by Rene Clair
The Earrings of Madame De... by Max Ophuls
le Plaisir by Max Ophuls
Beau Serge by Claude Chabrol
Au Revoir, les Enfants by Louis Malle
Viva Maria by Louis Malle
Murmur of the Heart by Louis Malle

Thursday, June 25, 2015

William's last day of grade school

No more recess, no more monitored lunches. There will be teachers of course, probably another decade worth, but I think William won't miss the enforced recess. Report card was good (even a couple of pleasant surprises). I have his Hamlet puppet show he performed three months ago for his grade 8 class on Youtube now. It is 15 minutes long and shot for a poor angle, so it is only for documentation purposes. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

NMSL closing

After over a decade of support to my research, the tragically underfunded New Media Studio Laboratory will be closing next week. This has been announced very suddenly so I do not know exactly what will happen to some of the more specialized equipment such as the 3D scanner and the HD camera. It will be absorbed into the three faculties which supported it initially I assume. Dianne says she will still have a job but her title and duties will be adjusted. My biggest concern is for the grad students who need a facility they can work out of without difficult restrictions; just as a painting student has 24 hour access to their painting studio, so must a media student have access to their tech.
Huge thank you to Sheila Petty who instigated this lab and invited me to be one of the principle investigators back in 2001. It's been great to be a part of and to work with so many interesting colleagues within it over the years. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Erik Sirke visit and new computer for William

Erik is in town for a few days. We had lunch and talked about film contracts in Calgary, about propaganda, and about computers. I'd decided that I'm not in the mood to build a new computer for William and that I would just buy one off the shelf. After lunch I went to OTV and, finding that "off the shelf" there meant either a reconditioned unit (and the only choices being rather low end office machines or Dell machines with their frustrating limitations when it came to hardware updates) or else having them build one which would take a week. We looked over the parts and I picked out stuff that was in the store, took it all home, and got William to help me put it together. If the case wasn't black, I'd probably have got it together quicker. Regardless, even with my weakening eyes, it is up and running by 10pm. Happy end of grade school William.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day

William brought me a double helping of double chocolate toast along with a mochachino this morning. Nick joined us and even kept his eyes open for a photo. Adjurned downstairs to watch season finale of "Orphan Black", then the two of us raked up the million sticks knocked ouf of the trees from Friday's hail. Great day, thanks William.

AGR fundraiser

 Margaret has been busy in preparation for tonight's Art Gallery of Regina annual fundraiser. This year's theme was "orange". I wore an orange shirt and we went and sampled some really great food. The function is well planned and well situated at the Balkwill Centre in that there are a number of rooms and spaces so you can be as close or as far as you want from the crowd or the sound or the food and still (usually) get some elbow room or even a place to sit down! I had a few interesting conversations including one with Erik's mother and sister who tell me that he is in town. I was also in a fortunately timed conversation with Mark and Richard where we may have brokered a deal to get some cool old analog camera gear into the department. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Terrible (Lizard) Film Festival?

The tech, once we had everything in place (thanks Caleb) went seamlessly last night as we premiered "Defying Extinction: an analog dinosaur film" in my backyard to a small, and slightly intoxicated, audience. The sky was entirely blue by the time everyone arrived, only three hours after the hail storm (see yesterday's blog). The only problem the downfall gave us was that the ground was wet and no one could sit on the grass. The 51 minute film, all hand processed and splice together only 8 hours earlier, did not break or even chatter in the gate as it played uninterrupted on one screen. An old digital 8 video camera pointed at the screen with a negative effect turned on so that we could feed a flipped video version into a video projector to screen simultaneously on a second screen. Viewers had the choice of which image to look at. I'm thinking that I might have enough old film to do this course again. This was a hugely exciting (but exhausting) course that I will certainly return to in the future (52 contact hours over 7 weeks and it wasn't enough). Thank you Margaret and William for hosting and helping get the whole space working and welcoming. Great working with Ken Wilson, Dianne Ouellette, An An, and Rania Al Harthi - thanks to you all. 

Friday, June 19, 2015


Three hours from screening time and we are hit with the biggest hail storm we've seen in years. It lasted about 15 minutes with really big hail. I don't think anything is wrecked but it isn't melting very quickly The sun is out again. Quite a thrill.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Last film processed for dinosaur film

While classes ended last week, we met for a short session today (only 6 1/2 hours!?) to develop the last 1000 feet of film we'd shot. Most of it went well. Ken had the surprising news that he'd successfully developed colour negative film as black and white positive using the Dektol developer. Dianne decided to use the Dektol (which is a paper developer and I rarely use it, even though it is popular at the Film Farm) to develop her last roll of colour film as black and white negative. The results were a mysterious disaster. There was a very clear latent image but the film remained entirely opaque. Even once it was dry, no light would pass through it, making the highly evident image confusingly out of reach. I considered the idea that by skipping the wash in borax that the other colour rolls had may have messed it up. After an hour of soaking, there was no change. I wondered if the fix was worn out so I re-immersed it in fix but that also had no affect. Finally I put it into bleach for a second (nothing) then five seconds (mostly nothing) then fifteen seconds ---- BINGO!! The test piece was successful so I put the whole roll in and we ended up with a strangely solarized project (see gif of Caleb above).

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Farewell Grade 8 celebration

Congratulations to our son William in completing grade 8. He's had a very different year, having moved to Lakeview School for a single year. Even though there were more than a few adjustments, he had many successess and I've very proud of him. The grandparents all came out and there was a nice reception afterwards (I contributed mini cheesecakes and chocolate macaroons). 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Reshoot and some new ideas for dinosaurs

I set up the magical inside of the spaceship scene with the dinosaur in the studio today. It was a four or five hands needed sort of scene so it was fortunate that Dianne came and helped. I'm hoping it looks cool. After supper I got William to don his paleontologist outfit once more and we reshot (in black and white this time) the scenes I miss-developed on the weekend. I'm pretty confident we can get this scene to work this time. To streamline shooting, I left the title cards out (I shot them in studio earlier) but will have to edit it all. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Pressure cooked beef

I got out the pressure cooker Margaret won from Safeway a few months ago. She'd not opened the box yet. It seemed simple enough (after reading the instructions - I sort of scared of pressure cookers) and I ran a couple of round steaks through it. Actually, the first thing I did was use the slow cook for 4 hours and then the pressure cook for 40 minutes. In the end, I was able to pull them apart like the butcher does and mix them with sauce and eat them on a bun. Yum. I think I will cook them in the sauce next time (soon!).  Of course it looks horrible in the photo (below) but the cooker is certainly my new favorite toy.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Too dark to shoot

William was going to help me reshoot the film I messed up yesterday but the only stock I have on hand (at home) is 10 iso black and white. The clouds rolled in and I found that not only would it be rather cold to shoot, but that there simply wasn't enough light. The son cooperated but the sun did not. 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Make myself useful

I had hoped to make good use of my C41 chemistry (36 hours old) before it depleted. I took all of the film shot with William on Friday and processed it. The session went poorly with undergrads turning on the safe lights in mid session (I'd been under the impression that they were finished, but apparently they have another few days in the darkroom, coinciding with the few days the grad students need the darkroom). That probably didn't make much difference because it appears that one should never used C41 chemistry working solutions after the day they are mixed. This is seriously wasteful and I wish I knew how to remedy it. The chemistry is not readily available and I have only one kit left.
I made myself useful for the rest of the day, helping William trim down a video he made with his friend Griffin in the spring, cutting it from 21 minutes down to 10 and adding some much needed Nixon and Hitler (see link above). We then went to supper at my parents' where I hung a planter for mom on the balcony and barbecued for them. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

The "story" of the dinosaurs?

As implied many of the posts over the past 6 weeks, I've been working with four grad students on an analog film class. I've contributed the film and have been collaborating on content (assessing them on technique, form, and ingenuity). The theme for the work has been "dinosaurs". However, the material so far has been highly fragmented, consisting of small vignettes, often without closure. Today I worked with William to create a bit of structure, constructing a thin story about a palaeontologist and his momentous discoveries. I have to admit that I began the day very positive and creative but after checking my email a couple of times, I was reminded of other responsibilities and the whole endeavour began to feel compromised by guilt. Regardless, we did have fun and I think I have some funny bits.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Double Vision Dinosaurs

With this week bringing my summer course teaching to a close, we had a successful test of the screening format for the final project next week. The dinosaur themed footage will be projected on film with simultaneously inverted footage projected on video beside it. We had some good success with more colour developing and contact printing. Ken's radical reticulations was rather remarkable. It appears that Canister may make an appearance too. Seven and a half hours for the class might be the right length to do all this, but I was beyond exhausted when I got home (and then headed back out to the Slate opening). I am thinking that if I had a permanent place to run this class, such as an on-campus studio, I would would set up a diorama stage as well as a fixed spot for devices such as the contact printer and I'd save the 2 hours per class in set up and striking. It would also allow me to do a greater number of pick-up sessions, demonstrating a technique or approach on the fly as students approach me. I think about this because this analog film course has been the most equipment heavy of my career here. Lots of fun though; hope I can repeat it some time.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

William's first sunburn

In my day (yes, I do sound like an old man) we were in the sun so much that everyone got sunburns regularly. As I got to high school, I tried to avoid getting burnt but managed to get one almost every year until I was 20. Things are different now. William has sunscreen slathered on him from May until October. He has never had skin peel from the damage of the sun. Today he was on a school outing which, unknown to us, took place mostly outside. It appears he has his first sunburn. An hour after he got home, he asked me if there was something wrong with his face. He could feel and see that his nose and cheeks were red (but not burned). The back of his neck, however, is red and turns white when touched.  It is a classic burn; minor and likely won't peel (unless Margaret finds some aloe vera gel; that stuff always makes things worse).  

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

must un-visual representation of today's work...

We are nearly at the end of the film course and today we developed a bunch of rolls of colour negative with C-41 chemistry (all very successful) and some black and white neg (great) and some black and white reversal (poor). We developed a total of nine hundred feet, including our first test of the contact printer (even prints the optical sound track) and 32 additional feet of ray-o-grams. There were many incredible images but I didn't capture any of them today. All I have are my notes off the board (which with a bit of distance, reveal to me that we developed some of the colour print film as black and white reversal, an approach I thought I'd determined wasn't viable!!!???).  

Monday, June 8, 2015

Nick the cat finds his place

Nick has taken to disappearing for hours at a time each day. I've been worried that he strays too far and gets lost, but then suddenly he is home. Perhaps his secret is that he has found a new favorite place in the underbrush beside the house. If full daylight, he is clearly there. Once it gets a bit dim, he is invisible.
William presented his propaganda project successfully to his class today. We celebrated by renting a couple of movies, Mortdecai (with Johnny Depp, quite funny), and Godzilla (the newest version which we'd already seen but whatever). 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Filmpool AGM

The Filmpool AGM was held at the Artesian today. Went smoothly. When I got home, Margaret was making balloon lanterns. We played a short came of Carcassonne in the back yard. My cable isn't working well and I suspect it is because they increased my Internet speed which messed everything up last  year.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Propaganda and Paleontology

This morning Dianne, Rania, and An came by the house after they'd shot one roll of film out on 13th Avenue. We proceeded to collaborate on a second film starring William as a paleontologist following a map to the lost dinosaur treasure. The rest of the day was spent with William, getting the fine tuning on his propaganda material together. He'll present it on Monday.

Friday, June 5, 2015

One Take Super 8 Event in Regina

Great One Take night!!! I think the quality of this set was quite outstanding. Dianne Ouellette's "Saddest Dinosaur" began the show and it was very fun and certainly set tone for a hang-loose, enjoy the show, everything is possible sort of deal. Other highlights included Chrystene Ells/Berny Hi's piece on the broken (and sliced up and burned) heart which combined great sculptural crafting along with pixelation and good writing. Eric Hill did an interactive piece with people needing to respond with music in the audience (although the colour stock we were using didn't register green very well). Ian Campbell did a very psychodelic thing with a huge black and white drawing and a performer also in a drawing/costume - tipping off the odd scale into the cool-and-must-be-watched category. Colby Richardson and Amber Phelps Bondaroff both created astonishing live soundtracks during their films. Gord Pepper did a loose but very emotionally powerful homage to his father. Mike Rollo's study of his garage window was beautiful and haunting. Of course, I was very nervous about my own film and William's. It is always great to go early in the program so you don't stay nervous. William was second (after Dianne) and his was a great hit. The audience laughed and the story and images made enough sense. Huge congratulations to him. My film, which I had come to be more nervous with each passing minute, was in the middle of the program. It was in focus and exposed properly. As I had to change cameras at the last minute, I had to stay on automatic exposure which had some attractive side effects. I'm very happy with how it turned out.