Don’t Be Creative, Be Passionate

Now, don’t take the title too literally but consider this. Don’t come up with ideas because they are different, nurture them because they matter.

Hey Guys,

I hope everyone is having a good Monday, I wanted to write a post today for people who work in creative fields. Followers of this blog will know I’m a student, and so perhaps speak with a certain sense of optimism, but I feel my point here today is applicable to anyone looking to develop any kind of creative work.

This idea came to me yesterday, when after spending the weekend working on a couple of separate projects, I ditched them. I realised that I didn’t really care about these ideas, and I was developing them as a priority above my other work because I thought they were pretty avant guarde. Except they weren’t, they were crap. One I will admit, just needs a lot more development if I’m ever even to consider picking it up again in the future, but the other one is my primary example for this post.

Flying horses. Nay. Flying Toy Horses. My idea was this: I picked up these plastic model horses about 6 months ago because I thought I could use them for a mini-project. What I eventually tried to do, was animate still images of them with the distortion pin tool on AAE; creating a super slo-mo sequence of them jumping off of stuff. I ran a couple of renders, still not 100% but prepared to keep an open mind. Yesterday I finished two test renders, they had immaculate masks and lighting effects so they look relatively believable. My animation was good too, the motion of the legs, head and neck being key to the movement of a horse. But then I watched them back, and yeah, technically they were ok, but I was hit with two thoughts. What does this mean? And Why am I doing this? 

I was doing it because no-one else had; I’d side-tracked projects that mean a lot to me because I was in a rush to stand out. That’s not how you create art, that’s how you create shite. I took a step back, saw what i was doing and abandoned the project. I’m now refocusing my efforts of two of my large projects. In particular, my dissertation project for my final year at university. It’s sometimes hard to work on because it reflects some personal memories and intimate relationships, but so far it’s coming out well and I have no doubt that when I finish it, it will be a triumph. The project is called ‘3 Hours’ and I will add a link here when I have finished rebuilding the promo page.

This post isn’t for self-promotion though, it’s a thought on how sometimes it is so tempting to try and stand out, we breach our own values of quality. Gimmicks aren’t respected and never deemed as classics. So take your time and create the fantastic, powerful work you’re capable of. Impress yourself.

Take it easy,

Matt  :)

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The Most Beautiful Time-Lapse Videos EVER

So I have always loved time-lapse videos, I think they’re stunning and truly reflect that if you have a patience, you can create memorable pieces of art. I actually think I might have done this post before but who cares, the game has been changed by a release this year that blew everyone else out of the water. I’m going to keep this post very short as I am very busy today; but just watch the videos, it’s half and hour well spent.

The Mountain 

The best video online right now; stunning, haunting and moving. The best of the best in my opinion.

Iceland, Eyjafjallajökull

The first video I saw in like this, I love that there is motion in it too; it must have been so hard to calculate!

The Unseen Sea

A fantastic video that focuses on how clouds look during time-lapses; stunning.

Sorry this has been such a short post guys, but I’ve got stuff to do!

Take it easy,

Matt  :)

If I Were Trapped On a Desert Island…

Think of it as Desert Island Disks for designers.

So I had a thought today when browsing the pages of a (relatively) new photo sharing site called 500px; it’s a lovely site that has multiple functions for the modern internet savvy user. And as a side note, I am VERY impressed with the staff who since my sign up have engaged with me on a personal level not common in social networking sites (this may be in part to their relatively small size, but it’s still fair to say I was flattered all the same!). Anyway, if you like photography or have even a passing interest in photo-networking (I hope that catches on!) then sign up to them NOW and be part of a fantastic and growing online community.

ANYWAY. I have got a but sidetracked, what I was trying to say was-As I browsed through the pages of 500px the high quality of the images on show lend my mind into a stream of consciousness whereunto I came to the hypothetical question ‘If I were trapped on a desert island, would I rather be surrounded by videos or imagery?’. Now I don’t want you to write of this hypothetical as something simpler than it seems, because it’s worth thinking about. Also I want to say that I am a HUGE lover of video and creative animation and this is not an easy decision for me, my mind will probably only be made up by the time I come to that point in the article!

Lets go through the pros and cons of each format is regard to being isolated on a desert island (that for some reason also have a 50″ plasma tv)…

VIDEO.

PROS: Videos can detail a story in a much more specific way that images ever can, production values can be incredibly high-adding gloss to a story and really sucking you in, you have camera movement that can reveal something initially hidden-or track a protagonist as he moves, you can adjust focus, depth of field, aperture – all on the fly creating a range of effect, you can add even more to these effects with post-editing, adding 3D element, even viewing it in 3D, it seems that quite literally, your options are endless.

CONS: You are limited to the choices made by the production team, your level of interpretation can be restricted by the finale of a film, your senses can be over-loaded with a lot to take in all at once. However I must acknowledge that a lot of these points are minor and that the reason you like a film is usually why you like it at all, kinda like…

IMAGERY.

PROS: In contrast to video, imagery to a degree lets you interpret and choose the story of a particular still, you have a wider range of formats than video, you have: photography, painting, collage and if we’re being generous, sculptures; imagery is usually refined to the most perfect and image can be, refined and touched up untill the image is that which exactly reflects the subject matter, I’m not saying it is any more ‘considered’ than video, but each frame of a video cannot simply compare to a single photo or painting; speaking of which, the minor ‘flaws and/or imperfections’ of a painting create character, something real and tangible that reflects the craft of the painter, an insignia omitted by video directors.

CONS: An image is just that, one moment, one instance that is no more, you may get bored with an image, you may want to know more of the story, why should you have to do the hard work? As for how ‘considered’ a still is, you could also argue that a shot, or compilation of shot in video are more effective than one single image. However, as mentioned above, you will like images usually for the reasons in the ‘PROS’ section, not despite what I have mentioned in the ‘CONS’ section.

So those are the elements which I considered when thinking about this debate, and personally I am still making up my mind. Video was what got my interesting in design and creative work to begin with, it’s more accessible and usually easier to decode, which is why I enjoyed it some much when I was younger, and even more so now. However as I come to conclude, I realise which side of the fence I am falling on; images do take more work than video, and that’s why I am smitten with them, at least for now. Give me 10 images on a desert island and everyday I would construct new meaning, new back-stories and see them from new perspectives. I would put them around my island, hanging them from trees or standing upright in the sand, coming across them when I am feeling at my most blue and finding happiness in the brush strokes of my favorite painting. And when I am happy again, I would go drink a coconut smoothie and lie in my deck chair, forgetting about the 50″ plasma on the other side of the island, which is turned off.

Thanks,

Matt  :)

Top 5 Videos of the Week [20/02/2011]

So as I have been away for a while this T5V has a few entries from further back but they are still as strong as ever; this week we have the video game trailer that has everyone talking, John Malkovich being… well, John Malkovich, a stunning piece of animation work and I bit of film relief in anticipation of the Oscars, so enjoy!

 

1) Dead Island: Official Announcement Trailer

We start this weeks list off with a biggy; this trailer has been buzzing around the internet ever since it was released, and rightly so. This cinematic trailer tells the story of a family of three who are under the attack of… well zombies. The hype has been so massive in fact that the movie rights have alreayd been sold… Crazy.

 

2) The Blackwater Gospel

 

This is one of my personal favorites from this weeks list; TBWG is an animation piece centring on the paranoia in a small isolated town after the undertaker arrives. The resulting piece of work is a visual masterpiece that must be seen; watch it NOW.

 

3) Niteo

Ok, I’ll put my hands up, this is a bit of self-promotion. This weeks number 3 video goes to… me. I made this video a couple of weeks back and I thought this may be a good way to get it out there a little more. The ffect was very simple and cheap to make; it just took a vase of water and some glitter paint. I mounted my camera close to the vase ful of water, and as I poured the glitter paint into the glass, the glitter and paint seperated in a really beautiful way. I like it guys, please don’t forget to ‘like’ if you have a vimeo account :)

 

4) Butterflies

 

WARNING: DO NOT CONSUME ILLEGAL STIMULANTS BEFORE WATCHING THIS CLIP. I mean, technically you shouldn’t anyway, but what I’m saying is, this video is VERY trippy. Somehow it has something to do with butterflies, but in reality, this is an exercise in heavy post-editing and freaking people out. You’ve got to appreciate the level of work this must have taken, but personally… I got scared.

 

5) The Final Chapter [CLICK HERE FOR WEBPAGE]

We finish this weeks list with a very special entry. Those of you who read my previous article may have already seen this, but in for those of you that haven’t, you’re in luck. I had to repost this because it really is a feat like no other; this vimeo project drew the community together on a collaborative piece of work like I have never seen before. The idea being that this whole video was filmed in segments by separate directors, each segment ends in a still, then the competition opens again and the next segment must start with the still image that the last segment ended with. It’s simpler than it sounds trust me; but that’s why I  have linked you to the blog instead of the video, so that you can read the background into the project and watch the separate clips should that be what you desire.

I hope you enjoyed this weeks list, click here to see last weeks T5V.

Some Awesome Things on the Internet [19/02/2011]

Wow, I have not posted for a LONG time; and that’s a shame because lately I have seen a lot of stuff I wish I had shared with you. BUT ANYWAY I’m back now, I will try to post at least once a week but hopefully more, and get my top 5 videos of the week going again (starting tomorrow) and I can only hope you forgive me. As for now let’s crack on.

 

So as I have been gone for a while, I’m gonna start by just posting a few links of stuff I have come across on the internet on the few weeks I was out; there’s a couple of games, some photo and of course some video, I hope you like them guys :)

 

1) 30 Motion Tests in 30 Seconds

 

This is a video from quite a while back that was promoted by Nick Campbell on his blog GreyScaleGorrilla. I can only reiterate the idea that Nick was trying to present; that ambitious designers should aim to make a lot of smaller projects instead of a few, or only one, large project. The creator of this video basically just made 1 second of animation everyday for a month, it has some excellent work and it  barely takes any time out of the your day; so it’s worth your attention.

 

2) The Ransom Note Generator [CLICK HERE FOR WEBPAGE]

This is a really nifty little bit of coding which basically will convert your desired message into a random note, bu replacing each letter with a random images of the same letter from somewhere on the internet. I might be making it sound more confusing than it is, but try it, it’s pretty cool!

 

3) Some Paradoxes – An Anthology [CLICK HERE FOR WEBPAGE]

Now you might have to bear with me a little on this one, this isn’t a design or photo or video focussed webpage at all, as it says on the tin, it’s about paradoxes. Paradoxes for those of you who don’t know are (usually) hypothetical questions that shouldn’t have a possible answer; this page explains in detail how a paradox works and details some of the best examples of paradoxes from history. I really recommend reading this as I found it incredibly interesting.

 

4) School Home Support [CLICK HERE FOR WEBPAGE]

Ok so back to some videos; this webpage has three videos that culminate into one multi-faceted story about a mother and daughter near to living in poverty in Britain. It’s a powerful viewing experience and they’re really short too, so please check it out.

 

5) The Egg [CLICK HERE FOR WEBPAGE]

This is an absolutely brilliant poem that I came across a few weeks back; I don’t want to give too much away but the theme is creation. Honestly if you only check out one of these links today, this is one of my favorites.

 

6) Flying Arrow Cam [CLICK HERE FOR WEBPAGE]

So with a title like this, I shouldn’t have to write much really. Basically guy has strapped a Go Pro HD camera to an arrow and fired it. The result? Awesome.

 

7) Scrbtle [CLICK HERE FOR WEBPAGE]

Let me ask you a question, do you have hours and hours to waste on the internet? No you say? Well you may think that, but when you start drawing with Scrbtle you’ll find that actually you just lost your weekend without even noticing. It’s a simple concept that mirrors your drawings in quarters and smooths out your drawing lines which means in short, you can create absolutely stunning pieces of art in seconds. Actually, I’d love to be able to see your work, if you leave a comment linking to an image of what you drew that’d be amazing!

 

8 ) Sinuous [CLICK HERE FOR WEBPAGE]

Wow, I just found this one in my bookmarks and I’ve got to tell ya, this one is special. It’s an absolutely gorgeous online game that blurs the boundries between art, music and gaming. All you have to do it dodge the red dots, but it’ll be beautiful whilst you do it.

 

9) Silk [CLICK HERE FOR WEBPAGE]

Not hugely dissimilar for the link above, it too blurs boundaries, though this is more of an art tool than anything. Silk  creates an evolving image of your cursor drawings, with the appearance of silk and many colours it really is stunning. Now they just need to put this technology into a screen saver!

 

10) The Final Chapter [CLICK HERE FOR WEBPAGE]

We finish off rather neatly then at number 10. And with one of the best entries on the list; The Final Chapter is the result of a community project hosted by vimeo called ‘The Story Behind the Still’. The contest required filmmakers to film a scene, end with a still shot, then another director would make a scene that starts with that image. The final result is an incredible patchwork of film from several directors who all came together in the end to create the ‘final chapter’. It really is amazing, watch it now. :)

Niteo

Hey guys,

I would like to share with you a new video of mine, I am very happy with how it turned out. The effect was rather simple in fact, I just poured some glitter paint into water and filmed the outcome. I really hope you enjoy this short film and if you do, I would greatly appreciate it if your shared it with your friends.

Thankyou,

Matt  :)

Top 5 Videos of the Week [16/01/2011]

First things first; I’m sorry. For anyone who comes to this blog at all regularly you will notice that posts have significantly plummeted over the last fortnight, and for this I apologise. Sadly as I am in exam mode, revising and sitting different exams I am not really able to afford too much time to the blog right now. However I finish my exams this Monday and I hope to become a lot more active again, with at least 2 or 3 posts a week (including T5V). But anyway, I will not neglect this weekly segment (even if I am writing it on Friday!); this week I was actually able to collect a good range of videos, so I will not be featuring only vimeo videos this week. We have a unique band video, a park tour unlike any other and then a couple of (as I hope you’ve come to expect from this feature) fantastic concept design work, enjoy!

1. Light Works

An absolute corker to start off this weeks list; Light works is a very short video showing of an incredibly unique take on the brokeh technique to write out a quote. Not much else to say, other than we should applaud creativity like this when it comes along, one of my favorites from this weeks list.

Video: Supernormals

(Click here for behind the scenes video)

 

2. NYC – Mindrelic Timelapse

If you remember last week I was expressing an interest in time-lapse and this week is no different; this is probably my favorite video of the week. I love the music and the shots make a seemingly normal city into a work of art. Plus panning and vehicle mounts spice up this otherwise limited technique. Fantastic.

Video: Mindrelic

Music: Down to the Cellar by Dredg

 

3. Four Guys One Guitar

We’re halfway through the list and time for a little relief, here’s a quirky little video from Little Comets playing one of their songs all on one guitar! Though I must admit, the singers vocals could be a little less ‘screechy’…

Video/ Music: Little Comets

 

4. Green Lake

This is a great little video about a place called Green Lake, where whilst it functions as a park most of the year round, during the snow melt between May and July it gets filled with water and becomes something completely beatuiful in it’s own right! I would love to go there!

Video: Wolbromia

5. Envision

The thing I love about this video is that it’s filmed; I know I post a lot of animations of after effects work but every now and again it’s nice to see what can be achieved without computer simulation. When I watched this video I really imagined what it’d be like to be in that room, experiencing the colours and light and I hope when you watch it you feel the same.

Video: SuperBien

Please leave a comment saying which video you enjoyed the most.

 

Top 5 Videos of the Week [09/01/2011]

So another week has passed and it’s been a great 7 days in video. This is a special week in Top 5 Videos’ (T5V) because of one very special video on the list. Make sure you have time to watch number 5 all in one sitting as it’s a truly special experience. We also have other great entries on this weeks list with some hyper-advanced animation, a gorgeous time-lapse and a more technically focused breakdown video. Don’t forget to leave a comment with your favorite!

 

1. The Art of Drowning

This is a short animation based upon Billy Collins’ poem The Art of Drowning; if I had to guess it looks like this film was made by rotoscoping film footage as the anatomy and movement of the actor are just so incredibly vivid. The poem itself is also vivid is presenting it’s idea of what might really happen moments before your demise. Delivered in a low, monotone growl the narration fits well with the raw, sketchbook feel of the short.

Video: Diego Maclean

Poem: Billy Collins

 

2. Shapeshifter

This is an incredible piece of 3D design work following the transformation of some high-concept technology. Apparently it was not made as a commercial for a car advert but it can seem that way from the story arc of the car going through cycles of change before coming together as a vehicle again. That aside this is truly on of the most accomplished animations on the internet right now, with cinematography that’ll blow your socks off.

Video: Charlex

 

3. Iceland, Eyjafjallajokull

So recently I have become interested in time-lapses, most probably due to the fact that I’m expecting my first ever digital camera (how have I survived so long without one!?) on thursday. With new kit comes new opportunities and with that in mind I have been researching time-lapses from across the web. Once again vimeo came to my aid featuring some of the most beautiful short films you are likely to see. Though this is my favorite I still urge you to search for time-lapses on vimeo.com. This video is filmed as the title states in Iceland during the time when all that volcanic ash was ruining everyone’s good time. It’s an absolute spectacle and one of my favorites on this weeks list.

Video: Sean Stiegmeister

Music: Jónsi – Kolniður

 

4. Boardwalk Empire VFX Breakdowns of Season 1

This is one for all the techies out there; this is an absolutely fascinating breakdown of the VFX used in season 1 of the tv drama Boardwalk Empire directed by Martin Scorsese. It’s an absorbing look into how to make a time period now so dated, look incredibly convincing.

Video: Brainstorm Digital

 

5. Undercity

Now I’m putting the description above this video just to make sure you guys read it. This is a very VERY special video; it’s an absolutely captivating piece of documentary work following ‘Steve’ and a cameraman who’s also the director called Andrew. These two go on an incredible adventure from the sewers of Ney York to the top of the an incredibly high bridge. How the guide knew how to access all these spots is beyond me, but trust me, this is an adventure that must be seen to be believed. Enjoy.

Video: Andrew Wonder

 

Don’t forget to leave a comment with you favorite video.

Also, if you want to see last weeks top 5 click here.

Top 5 Videos of the Week: [26/12/2010]

Hey Guys,

This is a new thing that I hope to continue with, it is as it says in the title, a collection of the best videos I have seen over the week. Nothing more, nothing less; these are in no particular order, so enjoy…

This week was of course the week of Christmas, Matt Cardle was number one and the Queen talked about sport in her speech; meanwhile in video-land though things seldom change. This week sees us witness a new perspective in street level cinema, get up-close to see detail impossible to notice with the human eye, have some down-time with some video games and a couple of unique twists on conventional Christmas themes…


1. Driving Through Mirror City

This video is gorgeous, I’m not sure where this was shot but the video basically takes footage from a street level car and mirrors the top half of the shot. It sounds basic but it’s an incredible effect, shot on a GO Pro HD and edited in Sony Vegas Studio HD.

Music: Liquid Summer by Diamond Messages.

Video: Craig

2. December

This is an excellent short film by 328 Stories, without ruining too much just know that the editing is masterful in the way it manipulates your viewing experience.

Video: 328 Stories

3. Chimæra

This is a gorgeous piece in which we are exposed to the super-detailed vision of winter snow-sports. Here’s the directors blurb:

Chimæra is a utopia. A dream or fantasy. Mythologically, it references a fusion of forms that is the personification of winter. By slowing down our perception of reality we get a unique look at a skier’s life. Just plug in your headphones and let your senses take over.

Music: Snow Angel Summer by Voyager One

Video: Sherpas Cinema

4. Future First Person Shooter

Anyone not familiar with FreddieW’s videos may not quite understand the point of this at first, but you’ll notice him in this video as the moron running straight at the sniper. Freddie makes incredibly polished (usually action based) videos which not only are astute comments on the gaming and film industries and the people who endorse them, but also is a very talented editor and filmmaker; recreating vivid and almost cinema worthy effects just for his youtube channel. Phenomenal.

Video: FreddieW

5. Reindeer

Just a short one to finish, this is a new ‘esting‘ for the british channel E4, I haven’t seen it on the tv yet myself but this was posted on vimeo this week and I thought it was too good to miss out on!

Video: Treat,

Which video was your favorite? Please leave a comment below letting me know what you think.

Peace,

Matt  :)

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford- Review

Spoiler Alert.

Hey Guys,

This review is a throwback to one of my favorite films of all time; The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. This film did not particularly win over reviewers at its time of release, but over time has gained a loyal following and re-considered critical opinions. This film is one of my personal favorites because it was the first identifiable westerns that I enjoyed; never before a particular fan of the western genre this film much in the same vein as No Country for Old Men,disguises itself from its genre by rethinking and reimagining typical genre conventions.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (T.A.O.J.J) was released in 2007 after its initial 2006 release date was postponed so the film could spend longer in post-production; starring Brad Pitt as Jesse James (and also producing) critics widely claimed that his performance was outclassed by the mastery of Casey Afflecks turn as Robert Ford, James’ eventual killer. The film also has stunning cinematography from legend Roger Deakins (BSC, ASC) who seemingly paints onto the lens, unafraid to expose audiences to panoramas of the old west for almost uncomfortable lengths of time. If this sounds tiresome, I must insist that within the precise pacing of the film it is a completely valid technique. Furthermore Deakins illustrates his flashbacks beautifully, simply acknowledging them with a simple fisheye lens and some chromatic aberration, yet these simple identifiers serve the film well and never transcend the boundary of become too flashy or modern.

Anyone assuming this movie is all about murder is completely wrong, the bold title is taken  from Ron Hansennovel of the same name; though it does not explain nor particularly allude to the true motives of the film. The best way to describe Andrew Dominics approach to the film to move away from the (perhaps) expected conventions of a ‘shoot-em-up’ western and instead suggest that it’s a psychological breakdown of James’ relationship with his diminishing gang. As he grows older James because incredibly suspicious of the company he keeps (apart from his family) and becomes excessively paranoid that he will be double crossed; though you never feel like his skills and talents are being compromised due to his growing animosity; we see this in one scene where Ford is flirting with the idea of killing James in his sleep, but as soon as his feet touch the boards James cocks his gun and with one growl insists Ford goes back to bed-this is a truly captivating moment.

T.A.O.J.J was nominated for roughly 53 awards, almost entirely within the categories of Best Supporting Actor for Affleck and Best Cinematography for Deakins, however the film only won 18 of these-none of them household names. However many top critics have since given T.A.O.J.J place in their top ten lists of 2007, with the film taking at least 7 top three places in the lists by names such as The HollyWood Reporter, Variety, USA Today, CNN and Empire Magazine.

To anyone reading this review that still hasn’t seen T.A.O.J.J I urge you to watch it; I fully acknowledge that it may not be to everyone’s taste, most likely due to its methodical pacing and ambient nature but if you can overlook these aspects of the film the action, beauty and character depth truly make up for them in tonnes.

If you haven’t worked it out yet, see this film NOW.

Peace,

Matt  :)