Wednesday, April 27, 2011

an Indian wedding on the beach

I'm currently working with Urban Wedding. Last weekend, I was the 2nd photographer, and yesterday I put together this little highlight reel. Few productions this pretty are made by one person. Brian Ceci and D'Arcy Hamilton shot the video while Eric Marcina and I took still photos.

I did try to make Second Beach in Stanley Park look as much like India as I could.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


From Schmidt & Weston blog

The difference in the seasons in Vancouver is more subtle than the rest of Canada. There is no slush mixed with long forgotten dog shit to worry about, as in Montréal.

The bitching about the weather is the same though... even though there is nothing to complain about. I hear a lot about the rain, but I like the rain. Keeps everything smelling fresh. Also keeps the complainers inside.

My resident archivist just told me today that her research shows that there is more sunny days than rainy days in Vancouver, despite what the locals will claim.

This photo of cherry blossoms might just make it into a museum exhibit.

Friday, April 22, 2011

birthday twins

From Schmidt & Weston blog

These two were born on the exact same day.

Creepy, no?

They have different moms. (and dads).

Happy birthday creepy birthday twins who can read minds.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

my new friend Daisy

From Schmidt & Weston blog

Taking photos at the aquarium on a Sunday is not easy. It is hard to think with screaming kids push around you... and getting enough light and natural colours in an aquarium is nearly impossible.

I got in for free along with Carrie, because of some promotional deal for museum people. I don't fully understand the deal, but then, I don't have to. I just get to tag along.

Thankfully, we decided not to watch The Cove until after our visit. Had we done that, I might have been far more prone to fits of public anger.

The photo is of Daisy, a rescued harbour porpoise. She can't be released into the wild because she was orphaned too young to figure out the complex pecking order of the ocean. So I suppose she is lucky to have an aquarium to live in.

The strange thing about mammals is that while fish are pretty to look at, including sharks, jelly fish, and Nemo, they don't seem to care about what is happening on the other side of the glass. There is no interaction. Maybe they're annoyed, maybe they don't think on that level (hard to figure on a jelly fish thinking of anything).

But ocean going mammals do look back. The sea otter does notice kids with food and he did beg for a taste of ice cream.

Daisy spent a lot of time looking back. Mainly at me. I felt extra special. She passed by the tourists next to us, and sat, (as much as a porpoise sits, maybe hover?) in front of me. I thought maybe it was my camera that attracted her, but when I lowered it, she stayed there and stared back. When I moved my head, she moved her head... mimicking my action. And then I mimicked her head bob. This went on for a while. I could sense the jealousy building at the other viewing windows.

I don't want go all new age hippy here, but it was a pretty cool moment. I feel bad that I moved on first, seeing as it looked as though she was trying to say something. Likely I'll find out that she saw me as a potential food source. Or maybe I just look like someone she knows. That seems to happen to me frequently.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

why I was in Las Vegas

From Schmidt & Weston blog

For the first time ever on this blog, a photo of me (I'm the one with the lazy beard. I don't enjoy shaving, so I don't). I was temporarily attached to the Singular Software team. Next to me is the PR lady, Kathleen, Bruce, the CEO of Singular, Dale, his wife and essential demonstrator for the PC side of things, and finally, Jeremy, the genius engineer that came up with Presto.

Bruce invited me along to the National Association of Broadcasters Show (NAB - computers and cameras) and if anyone asks me to go on a trip, I almost always say yes. This is probably a dangerous habit.

My job was to be the Shamwow guy - I suppose technically, the product demonstrator. Here is my pitch for Plural Eyes. I haven't watched it myself as I am a production/post-production sort of person and prefer being on the other side of the camera.

While I don't compare to the marketing prowess of an infomercial pitchman, this isn't a product that needs any flash at all to impress video editors. Most are already huge fans and because I was with Bruce and the gang, I got to bask in the many ecstatic post-production people on the verge of happy tears, shaking my hand like I was a long lost cousin. At first, I would direct them to Jeremy or Bruce, but after day two, I just smiled and accepted the low level of celebrity treatment I was getting. Mostly I was just happy to be there.

The truth is, despite being fascinated by math and computers, I was never a good math student. I lack the necessary focus. I remember loving the logic of linear algebra in university, but all I can remember about calculus is that horrible moment where I blanked out during the final exam only getting my name and student ID correct. It still gives me chills to think of those 20 minutes of terror and handing in a virtually blank exam paper. No situation has propped up in my life that would have been well served with knowledge of calculus.

I do wish the youtube clip was about my demo of Presto, because that was even more magical to watch. As much as I could review them, I'm clearly biased. You can check them out for yourselves on Singular's website.

Thanks for bringing me along, Bruce.

From Schmidt & Weston blog

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Why I'm probably switching to AVID

There is a scene in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas where the protagonist finds himself inadvertently at a district attorney’s convention. Hunter describes a surreal experience that causes both himself and his faithful lawyer to flee.

The NAB Super Meet was not an entirely different experience.

A giant room was filled with 1700 crazed Final Cut Pro editors because Apple people were going to give a first time ever sneak preview of the next version of Final Cut Pro software. I use Final Cut too, so I was interested and grateful to be along for the ride. In somewhat geeky world of post-production, this is a hugely historic moment… at least until the next bit of editing software is released.

Seems while I’ve just been enjoying editing, other editors had been busy whining that nothing dramatically new had happened with the software in the past 4 years. I confess that I don’t understand.

Let’s keep in mind that this is a computer program. Not a rock band, or a famous comedian or film director. It was a power point presentation about software.

The screams of excitement reminded me of the day I worked for the CBC as a production assistant, holding back a mob of 12 to 14 year old girls from some Canadian Idol winner; a whole lot of what seemed to me misplaced ecstasy.

But then I don’t hoot and holler about computer programs. Sometimes I’ll curse and scream at the computer… but to worship it? Nope. Not this editor.

The interface has been totally re-worked and it looks more like iMovie than a professional video editing system… but there are professional looking features promised. The idea of being able to match colour scenes from one clip to the next seems cute, and there is something called “the magnetic timeline” which should allow for easier moving of clips without overwriting other tracks.

I never had a problem with reading what was going on with the timeline such as it is now. Made me want to heckle “What is wrong with you all? The timeline isn’t that difficult to view… It isn’t broken. What are you trying to fix?”

In fact, the new timeline seems to have abandoned tracks all together and things are nested and move around in a way that should I make the move to Final Cut X, will likely add more confusion that practicality.

I didn’t heckle. I was an observer on the sidelines along with other software folks. Being invited to attend for free, I felt obliged to quietly watch the insanity and keep my thoughts to myself (until now, safely tucked away in my little home office). Like Hunter S. Thompson, I was a ‘hired geek’, not even a tech writer. Unlike Hunter, I was not inebriated in the least.

Also, 1700 plus Apple cult members… sorry, I mean fans, is a lot of angry people to fight off. Just walking into the venue, my companion and I were asked for extra tickets and ran into scalpers at the door.

Again, this wasn’t a Pixies concert. It was a computer program. Nothing was under the seats Oprah style. Just a demo that those of you not video editors would look at and be utterly confused as to why people were screaming their heads off like early Beatle fans about going from 32 bit to 64 bit processing.

Much of what I saw made me feel very apprehensive. I don’t mind learning new things, but with all the automatic features to improve work flow, I feel much like most of the other real world editors did the next day; it will take some time to figure out how to turn off all these cute features.

It might make routine editing tasks faster though. Maybe I will be able to rush through the wedding videos that pay my rent faster. I don’t want to seem like a snob or a luddite.

There was no mention of log and capture, and it was also speculated by many that video tape ingest would be abandoned completely by Apple. This is a bad thing for me, because I still love my DVX-100 standard definition camera.

Living with a librarian/archivist makes me that much more sensitive to the constant and rapid move forward of technology while ignoring the past. I do hope they don’t forget that not everyone has a tapeless work flow, and that hard drives do fail, there are still tapes in archives, and some broadcasters, like the one I visited in Sierra Leone and even Shaw’s community channel here in Vancouver, still use good quality tape cameras.

No mention of any of the other programs in the Final Cut Studio family. What happens to Motion, DVD Studio and Soundtrack Pro? With the new features and the aim at a different sort of market, perhaps they will just be worked into one program to do it all. That would probably be a bit messy, like those Swiss Army Knives that get out of control and try to include every possible tool until you can’t actually put the knife in your pocket, never mind use it.

The list price is said to be 299$ in US dollars. That is significantly cheaper than the current price of over 1000$, which means, as so many feared, that Apple is looking to corner the rapidly growing crowd of sort-of-professionals. They call them pro-sumers and at the NAB show such a word is said somewhat dismissively by most. It is where the money is right now.

So at the end of this post, I’m no further ahead as to what all the fuss was about. I feel much like the editors I talked to the next day at the conference; a little hurt and concerned that my favorite editing software had been taken away from me. A lot of people are talking about moving to Adobe’s Premier Pro or Avid. I won’t be upgrading until and only if, it proves to be all that is promised and remains a professional product. There will be bugs and a steep learning curve.

Another justifiable fear is that with all the automatic work done as your footage enters the editing system, it could be that everyone’s videos start having the same look and feel to them. I’m not sure that my fear is reasonable, but I’m one those few that think something was lost when most of us abandoned film for digital. Sometimes a slower work flow forces more thought as to what you are doing.

Change for the sake of change is rarely wise… but we shall see come this June.

The next day I went to the Avid booth, and after being ignored for a while, due to the number of suits around me, a girl behind a desk said hello and asked if I was interested in anything. When I said I was thinking of switching from Final Cut due to attending the big reveal the night before, I was taken under the wing of a more senior sales person. It was as if I had wandered into a Porsche dealership and eventually admitted that despite my jeans and t-shirt, I am, in fact, a millionaire race car driver. Sometimes it is nice to have your ass kissed, and I was even offered a very attractive deal on software that would normally cost me over 2 grand.

If I have to re-learn an entire editing system anyway, I might as well look to Avid since so many production companies and film makers still look at that company as the industry standard. I have a free demo for a couple more weeks and a tutorial DVD to work through. There is a certain prestige with being an Avid user, I learnt. I’ll have to report back on what I really feel about Avid; if it is like going from a Volkswagen to a Porsche. (That is a really tired analogy. My apologies. I don't really know all that much about cars.) Such is the life of a post-production geek.

If you are still curious about this, and if you’ve read this far, you must either be a fellow nerd, a very good friend, or are just too bored to find a cat video on YouTube, you can watch the insanity from this link. Experience what I did with a few fast forwards at the boring bits, and at a more reasonable volume.

I like brass butts

From Schmidt & Weston blog

And I cannot lie.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Supper in Las Vegas

From Schmidt & Weston blog

I have been away from this blog for a couple of weeks. I'm sorry if some of you got used to a daily photo, but I was busy and finishing up one last wedding video on my to do list... and then there was the trip to Las Vegas for the National Broadcasters Association Show (NAB for those that love acronyms. I do not.)

Last night, I was in at the Venetian Hotel sitting down to this pizza at Wolfgang Puck's restaurant. I'm pretty sure that it was the best pizza of my life, but that is a hard thing to establish since pizza tends to release a more primal, shark-like feeding frenzy in me. So each pizza feels like the best. I imagine that is what heroin is like. But this one did seem especially perfect.

There was even some opera singing and though I tend to avoid opera and mimes, I actually enjoyed the show.

This isn't really what this post is about though. It is to announce that I'm blogging again, and with vigour. I have a lot to talk about and not so much time if I wish to remain relevant.

The topics to cover of the next couple of days include my impressions of

  • the lecture by Kevin Smith, which was inspiring in an odd sort of way
  • the Apple Final Cut Pro SuperMeet and the rabid apple fan kids
  • my evening of observing the hotel Karaoke bar
  • my heavily biased review of Singular Software, who were the people who brought me to the NAB
  • my vague and uninspired attempt at gambling and searching for the Fear and Loathing experience

There is a lot more than that. 4 days in Las Vegas, even if you spend most of it at a trade show (well, the biggest trade show of computers and cameras in the world) provides for a lot of writing.


Thank you for visiting. I live in Vancouver now, but I've lived in other places too. I take photos and make short films about things and people. Please comment and be argumentative. It amuses me.

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