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  :)

Good-bye Objectivity, Hello Me.

So, I started this blog to link people to awesome pieces of creative work online, be it videos, photography or whatever. But, I find that within a busy university schedule to tweet these things is much quicker than writing a summary of it. If anyone is reading this and still looking for that kind of content, perhaps you might want to follow me on twitter. If so, please check out my twitter profile.

But as I have just alluded to, I will be moving away from these kind of posts on this blog and instead aim to keeping anyone that is interested updated on my work; so here we go!

MY PROJECTS:

For anyone that visits my portfolio site you may be aware of some of my projects that I do and am interested in; but for those of you who haven’t seen yet, I will just quickly link you to a few things that are finished.

Pancakes and Apples (Diary of a Boy at Sea) 

So this is a short web-comic that has been doing the rounds online, I have been getting really positive feedback from my followers on twitter and would love to hear more from other people; there are no comments on the actual pages at the moment though and I’d love to get some hard-copy feedback!

Sense – Datum // Her Egg

So, I am a keen writer and I love trying to write short stories in between working on my larger projects (more below); here are two stories that I have finished that I have submitted to a short story contest and I would love to get some feedback if you guys have the time (Sense-Datum was a university assignment that I got a first for by the way! :D )

CURRENT PROJECTS:

So I am working on a couple of big things at the moment, but most significantly is my primary project: 3 Hours.

Whilst at the moment I am trying to keep this project a little secretive, I want to raise a bit of awareness and develop an enigma around this project. However I will be updating the preview page soon as I feel at the moment it is a little too elusive. For now I will say this; 3 Hours is a digital narrative experience, it’s going to change the way you can read a story by blending multiple writing styles seamlessly. Stay posted, it’s going to be good. For now, please check out the preview page.

For anyone that has stuck through this post, thanks a lot, it’s really nice to get support when I receive some. But don’t worry, my posts will not continue to be this self-indulgent and promoting! Instead I will just aim to keep you guys up to date with stuff I am doing and stuff I think you should check out too; hopefully this should lead to more consistent blog posts.

Take it easy,

Matt  :)

5 Reasons Why You Should Sign Up to 500px

Hey guys,

So I recently signed up to this great site called 500px and if I’m being honest, I’ve turned into a bit of a fanboy! Regardless of that though, it’s a genuinely great site with the functions and implementation to really rank highly in your social networking resources. 500px is best described by the creators as ‘a photographic community powered by creative people from all over the world that lets you share and discover inspiring photographs’. Except that may perhaps be an understatement; with comprehensive blogging tools, social networking updates and a friend based community 500px may just be your new internet homepage. So here are 5 reasons you should sign up, starting with…

1) It works.

Now, this may sound like a stupid reason; but it’s completely relevant. If a site doesn’t work, people can’t use it, they can’t become users. I would best describe 500px’s user page [Example is my page] as a blend between Facebook and twitter, featuring all the elements you could want from a social networking hub, but laying it out in a cleaner way than Facebook by using a tab based system, which keeps all of your other main directions open. If you want to follow someone, just click the appropriate box and you follow them. Keeping tabs on what you and other people are doing is so easy, because the information is just there; Ian and  Oleg (The sites founders) have somehow seemed to strip away all that is unimportant and leave only that which matters without making anything seem cluttered. Click where you want to go, and go there. Simple, elegant, functional. However, if you are having problems, why don’t you look to the next reason…

2) The Staff Are Great.

Ok, now I may have gotten a bit carried away, referring to the sites founders on a first name basis, something that I cannot justify-but it’s sad to say just how much they feel like your friends. It is one of my most commendable points in this article, to highlight just how impressed I have been by the sites customer service so far. After encountering a little befuddlement with the interface, I decided to make use of the blogging feature built into the site. After a short post expressing some concern, I got a reply and a string of tweet mentions via Oleg, Ian and the 500px official twitter [Click to follow]. It was great to engage with the staff on such a personal level, and you can see from their tweets just how eager the team at 500px are to communicate with their users, with a lot of retweet and @mentions to other users. I cannot pretend that should the site take off on the scale of  Facebook or twitter that this personability may fade, but the site is already servicing tens of thousands of members and it is really nice to see this level of effort.

3) Portfolios.

Can’t afford to a run a portfolio site, showing off your work? Well 500px accommodates users with an online portfolio for FREE. It’s a simple enough slide show generator, but the feature provides you with a personal URL and shows off your photography in a clean, sleek and stylish way; saving technophobes the world over. People checking out your portfolio are also provided with contact details and a brief ‘About’ section based on the information you submitted when signing up to the 500px main site. It’s a simple feature that works really well; have a look at mine to see how it looks.

4) It’s Classy.

Have you ever heard of a site called 1x? If not, you really should check that out too; I say this because like 500px-it’s classy. Class is something that’s hard to pin down but I would summarise it in this context as something that represents quality and design on an industry level. You can’t submit any old tat to 500px; I mean, do your best and upload only your best (as requested by the site admins), but this isn’t a place for your party snaps or your upload tests. 500px stands for a community of quality, not a photo sharing network; the difference being that 500px functions on a more objective level than the happy snappers on Facebook photos. However, if you’ve tried submitting to 1x and been rejected, don’t worry, 500px as far as I know don’t scrub apparently ‘amateur’ photographs, they just ask you to do your best. Couple this with usability far superior to 1x’s interface, and you can start to see why people are claiming 500px is to flickr, what vimeo is to youtube.

5) It’s Young.

One of my favorite things about 500px is its tender age, or perhaps instead I should refer to its tender size. The site started out in 2003 but refers to their 2.0 version being completed in 2009; in that time 500px has won over a few thousand users but I saw a tweet earlier today speculating to the size increase that they estimate for the end of the month. This is what I really think should push readers of this article to sign up, it’s a fantastic experience getting involved in something that has the potential to grow exponentially and since my sign up, I have been rating, commenting and of course posting to try to become a truly active member of this community (Even if I’m not going to be the best photographer on the site!). Because that’s what it’s all about, being sociable, kind and sharing your mutual interests with people in a way that only the internet can accommodate.

Go on, just sign up already.

Peace,

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  :)

Light Painting: Post Editing Tips

Hey guys, it’s been a long break for me and I know the blog is pretty bare at the moment. But my exams are over and I hope to start posting regularly once again!

So I see that online there are a LOT of tutorials of home to do light painting; I think it’s a wonderful effect and you can read a couple of great tutorials of how to do it here, here and here. This tutorial is for intermediates and does assume some prior photo editing knowledge.

Now light painting is a fantastic medium to create stellar images, usually people like to write their name or super-impose something like a flower; personally I love the abstract patterns that can come from swirling your light around in the dark. However this is inconsequential to this tutorial, as there are plenty of resources to create your photo I’d like to show you the process I went through to get my shots looking a little more polished.

I am using a free programme called Paint.net which is a fantastic free alternative to Photoshop. The interface is very similar and only lacks a few of Photoshop features (Though as Photoshop advances, Paint.net does not). I strongly urge you to download this programme here.

Step 1. So you have your shots, but you might have som stuff in the background obscuring it, in this case, there is a computer screen. I am going to clone stamp it out, if you aren’t familiar with clone stamping I suggest you read this tutorial here. In light painting if you’re just looking to erase (which I recommend) look to set your anchor point in a dark patch that is near the object you want to get rid of, there may be darker patches on the photo but there will always be subtle balance differences and choosing an area near your object just makes it easier. See the photos below for a step by step example.

(If you’re worried that you can see the area affected by the clone stamp, it’s ok we’ll be addressing that next)

Step 2. Now we are going to balance our light and dark areas in the best possible way. There are two methods in doing this, you can use the brightness and contrast adjuster, or you can use the luminosity adjuster on the curves tool. I actually use both,because I find the curves tool better for fine tuning whilst the B+C effect is better in more general usage. You are only going to want to make very subtle changes so that they don’t look typically ‘edited’, this is a common problem among editors. There is an old saying that goes ‘If you can’t tell what the editor did, they did a great job’. I can’t really tell you how to adjust your own photo, but I will just show you the settings I used for my own.

Step 3. Now this photo is already looking pretty nice, I was lucky in this shot that the trail came out a nice gold, but your colours always won’t always pop this well and this photo can still use a little colour adjusting. You can do this by boosting the saturation slightly, however my prefered method is to use the curves tool again, by just booting the colours slightly you can really make those colours stand out, which just look great against the black background. For this shot I’m going to boost the yellows, but like the previous step have an experiment and see what looks best for you, I’ll post an example with some vivid greens that look great with an approximation of the settings I used.

You should be at a point where you are happy with your shots, personally to just give them that final, professional feel, I like to trim about 5 pixels or so off the top and bottom but that’s completely up to you. Here are two full resolution examples of my own shots, please leave a comment with any questions or links to your own light painting photo gallery.

[CLICK HERE TO VISIT MY FLICKR PAGE]

Peace,

Matt  :)

Photography is Wonderful

Hey Guys,

I hope you are all keeping well and enjoying the new year; today I am posting to some great photo posts that I have found online this week. These are only my favorites out the hundreds I have seen. The reason I have been able to uncover so many gems is because of the site StumbleUpon, I only discovered this site last week and I haven’t looked back! I think the site is great for not only killing time but is actually a very immersive experience that I have definitely noticed become more and more tailored to my likes and dislikes over time. So whilst this post isn’t about StumbleUpon, I strongly urge any readers of this blog to subscribe to it; it’s free, easy and absolutely great.

Anyway, where was I?

Basically I thought today I would link back to some great photography posts I have come across this week in celebration of the new camera I am getting (woop!).

1. Winners of the Red Bull Epic Photo Contest (link)


This is a fantastic collection of shots that are almost entirely impressive; personally I didn’t like the experimental category winning photo, but aside from that the are amazing photographs.

Personal favorites are: Culture Winner and Sequence Winner.

2. Streetview (link)


To be honest I know very little about this flickr set, these no description but the photos are clearly dated but I could not guess the time period. All I have to really say about this set is that something about them really resonated with me and I thought almost the entire set came out beautifully.

Personal favorites are: This Untitiled shot and New York 1905.

3. Samantha Meglioli (link)

These are shots by Samantha Meglioli showcasing some of her wonderful macro stills. The shots have all come out in incredible detail and have some crazy depth of field for such a shot distance, in my opinion the shots are a little mixed with some shots seemingly less ‘considered’ than others; but that said she is clearly a more talented photographer than me and the best of her shots are incredible.

Personal favorites: Megli25, Megli8 and Megli6.

4. Patchwork Orange (link)

This is less a photography post and more of ‘arts’ post I suppose; but the photos in this article are still great and the idea is way too neat to omit from this list. Patchwork Orange is the process of replacing parts of damaged buildings with Lego blocks. There’s not really much more to this post than that idea, but check out some of the photos for yourself then give it a ago!

Personal Favorite: Lego Brick Installation Art.

Anyway I hope you enjoyed this post guys, please let me know which one was your favorite in the comment box below! Also if you’re interested in finding more photography on the web sign up to StumbleUpon and another great site called 1x.

And finally, for anyone that’s interested the camera I have ordered is a Fuji HS10 which I should be getting on thursday, so I’m sure there will be a post about it soon after!

Peace,

Matt  :)

A Few Photos From November.

I may have not joined in with all the ‘movember’ antics, but November was a good for my camera, I got some ok shots of the student walkout and of the recent snowfall. Hope you like them guys, you can see more of my photo’s here.

How it All Began

(Chronicles of a Camera Phone)

Hey Guys,

Just a quick post to let you knwo that amongst my new menu system is a slightly more concealed category called ‘How it All Began’ in the PHOTOGRAPHY section; I havn’t listed it too significantly because it does not particular lend itself so wonderfully to my portfolio, but it’s well worth a look to see where I was as a photographer about 3/4 years ago and how I have improved. We all develop skills very fast and I think taking of note of my skills then, compared to now is very interesting indeed. Please check it out here.

 

Peace,

Matt  :)

My Picture Story: Brighton Fringe Festival.

Hey guys,

Earlier this year me and my very good friend Simon made our annual trip to the Brighton Fringe Festival; this yearly event showcases a rage of arts events but as me and Simon both studied drama together we go with the objective to find new dramatic talent and shows. The 2010 trip wasn’t as successful as our first two outings but was an enjoyable day regardless, we still saw some interesting shows, including one stand-out: A performance of the secret garden, where the audience was free to wander wherever they liked around a large house, viewing the actors in constant character either taking part in a key scene, reading or even sleeping. I bought a disposable camera for the day and you can see all the shots I took that day here, or read on for my picture story…

This was the first photo of the day, I hadn’t used a camera that wasn’t my phone for a little while. So I picked it up and pressed the button!

 

This is a shot of West Pier which has clearly been subject to a lot of fire damage. This is Brightons second (of three) Piers; I got the effect of this shot by trying to keep the centre of the lens as still as possible and then rotate the rest of the camera whilst taking the shot, I love how it came out!

Another shot of West Pier only this time with some well timed bird flight in the shot…

This is another shot of my mate Simon, I tried the same thing here as with West Pier, though this time I was jumping so it came out a bit more shaky. In the context of our trip we are on the Brighton boardwalk on our way to a performance of ‘The Secret Garden’.

This is one of my favorite shots of the day, on the boardwalk still I got Simon to stand slightly off left, right, up and down of wherever he was the shot before whilst I stayed as still as possible. After I got the photos developed I chopped them up, and made one image to create this interesting effect!

 

Simon is into metal, so he decided to subvert the Scouting for Girls poster, great… :)

This is part of the set for the performance of the Secret Garden, it’s a courtyard in an old house and you do not see the garden untill the very end, it’s unveiled as the children climb through into it and it was actually quite marvellous.

We did see two other plays and travel around Brighton that day but the photos are quite bland and not very good; this is just one last shot of Simon (and me) on the train home, I’m sure he didn’t have that beard when we started…

 

Peace,

Matt  :)