Creatures of the Deep

When I first watched this video on Vimeo, I was drawn in by the fantastic cinematography, and the atmosphere that is created in Alan Williams studio. The visuals hooked me but as his story, and discussion about process unfolded, I knew I was here for the full 8-minute duration. After watching it with the sound on, I muted the audio and watched it again, full screen and really looked at the way this was shot, edited, and composed. Ben Cox does a really nice job of framing his shots and using shallow depth of field to focus the viewer on specific elements within the frame. Lighting and color grading come together to really help enhance the story and create a mood that captures Alan Williams personality and the artwork he creates. This short has such a solid look, and great story hooks as well, it’s definitely going in the visual reference library for inspiration at a later date.

The Indiana Dunes in January.

I’ve been doing some traveling for work over the last couple of weeks, and last week I found myself in New Buffalo Michigan right by the lake. Saturday morning I had some down time so I decided to drive over to Indiana Dunes State park to check it out. I’ve never been, and the overcast skies and fog seemed like it would lend itself to some fairly dramatic photos. In typical fashion… it did and it didn’t. The overcast sky wasn’t quite as dramatic as I expected, and the most interesting visuals came from the textures of the shelf ice right on the lake shore. By the way, did I mention it was freezing? The readout in the rental car said it was 32 degrees, but after 30 minutes my hands were aching from the cold, even though I was wearing heavy gloves. I managed to shoot 20 or so images before deciding to bail. I simply wasn’t dressed for Lake Michigan in January with a nice breeze rolling in off the frigid water.

By the way, did I mention it was freezing? The readout in the rental car said it was 32 degrees, but after 30 minutes my hands were aching from the cold, even though I was wearing heavy gloves. I managed to shoot 20 or so images before deciding to bail. I simply wasn’t dressed for Lake Michigan in January with a nice breeze rolling in off the frigid water.

When I got back to the hotel, I took a look at the results of my little excursion and decided that the decent shots definitely needed post processing so I turned to Photoshop, and Google’s NIK filter collection. If you haven’t grabbed these filters, you should. They’re free, they’re powerful, and you can spend hours playing with the settings and combinations to get some solid results. For my shots, I did a simple two-step process involving a total of four filters.

Pass one, involved NIK Color FX where I added a graduated Neutral Density filter, Detail extractor, Lens Vignette. All applied very slightly to the image. Pass Two, NIK Silver FX for black and white conversion. I used the Modern Presets for High Dynamic Smooth and then dialed everything way down. While the presets are fun, in typical fashion, they are usually cranked up for maximum effect and can seem really fake when used as is.

I did all the post work on the flight back to Kansas City. Everything was processed from RAW files that were shot on my Olympus OMD EM1 with the 12 to 40mm Pro lens in Low ISO mode.

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Pulse, 3 Weeks Into Winter and I’m Longing For Spring.

Here we are 4 days into 2017, and officially 3 weeks into winter. Tomorrow, we are supposed to get 4 inches of snow, and the high temps are going to maybe hit 20 degrees, which frankly has me longing for my favorite time of the year, mid-May through early July. All of this got me to thinking about the powerful thunderstorms that roll through the midwest fueled by warm moist air blowing up from the Gulf of Mexico and colliding with a cold front rolling in off of the Northern Plains. That got me to searching the internet for some video footage to warm my chilled bones and remind there are just 84 more days until spring.

My discovery this afternoon was the video below by Mike Olbinski. Shot in 4K, color graded to black and white, timed out to just under 5 minutes, it’s absolutely breathtaking. The fact that he had the idea of taking this in a new direction with a black and white post production just makes it. The soundtrack adds to the ominous power of the visuals and makes me long for the opportunity to be able to sit on the sun porch and watch this happening live. (not the tornado part, I like my house). 

If you have the opportunity watch this in 4K on a larger TV. The visuals will knock your socks off. For more info on how Oblinski made it click through here.

Rolling out with a ‘Rol & Rye.

2016 is finally winding down and frankly, it can’t end soon enough. This has been a pretty crappy year on a number of levels, and the icing on the cake for me was getting a 16 penny nail through the sidewall of the driver’s side tire on my car today. Can’t be fixed, so that means I’m buying a new tire. I’m sending 2016 out with a bang this year and starting January 1, 2017, I’m giving up the booze. Yes you read that right, I’m quitting drinking. (this is where all my friends and relatives roll their eyes and say “I’ll believe it when I see it.) The goal is to make it June 1 and just like when I quit smoking cold turkey January 1, 1992 it’s a goal I intend to keep.

One of the things I intend to do between January 1, and the first day of summer is document the physical changes the lack of alcohol will have on my body. I intend to take a photo a day of myself, weigh myself, and take note of any positive and or negative effects it has on me. Hopefully, come June 21, 2017 I’ll have something interesting to report. Maybe not, but the challenge is on in a little less than 48 hours.

Since I’m choosing to “Lose the Booze” in 2017, I thought it would be fitting to post a nice New Years Eve cocktail recipe that everyone can make and share. Behold the ‘Rol and Rye. It’s easy to make, easy to drink, and easy to share. Enjoy.

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Paper Rainbows. The GF Smith Show Space.

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One more reason to take a trip to London in 2017. World renowned paper manufacturer GF Smith has opened  “Show Space” in London, which along with being a store front, features a gallery that is filled with an installation of colorful paper rolls. Housed across two floors in a building just off Oxford Street, the multipurpose GF Smith Paper Show Space will provide a place to meet consultants, act as an event and exhibition venue, and offer an immersive insight into the company’s products and history.

The concept and creative direction for the 13,000 square foot space was developed by creative partner Made Thought, and designed in collaboration with architects d-raw. The concept is to showcase paper and keep it center stage, with a dark gray palette matched to one of the most popular Colorplan shades, and designed to provide the perfect backdrop for the visual and textural subtleties of GF Smith paper. At the heart of the GF Smith Paper Show Space, a 45-foot wall that presents every paper GF Smith has created or discovered, spanning every shade in the Colorplan range including some of the most precious, and technologically advanced unique papers from around the world.

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This Panda is Dancing

Remember life before your smartphone, tablet, and social media? Yeah I know, it’s kind of hard to imagine not being constantly connected anymore. The video below from Max Stossel & Sander van Dijk is a poetic send up about how we have all become addicted to that piece of tech sitting in your hand right now, or waiting to be retrieved from your pocket as soon as you put down whatever tech you are looking at now.

The video itself is great. A nice live action short with really well thought out graphics that have been motion tracked to specific source points in the frame. Solid editing and post work really help to polish this, but the real meat is in the message. A message with a direct call to action at the timewellspent.io website. The blurb before the video pretty much sums up what they are about.

Today apps and media compete in a race to grab our attention. Join a movement to:

  • Live better with more empowering settings for our media and devices.
  • Change incentives so media competes to improve our lives, not get eyeballs.
  • Invent new interfaces that help us to make room for what matters.

A poetic short film by Max Stossel & Sander van Dijk:

In the Attention Economy, technology and media are designed to maximize our screen-time. But what if they were designed to help us live by our values? timewellspent.io

What if news & media companies were creating content that enriched our lives, vs. catering to our most base instincts for clicks?
What if social platforms were designed to help us create our ideal social lives, instead of to maximize time-on site and “likes”?
What if dating apps measured their success in how well they helped us find what we’re looking for instead of in # of swipes?

As technology gets more and more engaging, and as AI and VR become more and more prevalent in our day-to-day lives we need to take a look at how we’re structuring our future.

Time Well Spent is a movement to align technology with our humanity: timewellspent.io

Director, Co-producer, & Visual Effects: Sander van Dijk: sandervandijk.tv

Writer, Co-producer & Lead Actor: Max Stossel: maxstossel.com

Production Company: Yacht Club Films

Director of Photography: Conor Murphy

Color: RCO

Music & Sound Design: Wesley Slover –

Steadicam Operator: Kyle Fasanella

Graphic Artist: Aaron Kemnitzer

CG Artist: Joseph Pistono

Visual Effects Assistant: Chelsea Galen

Roto Assistant: Regina Morgan-Munoz

Lead Actress: Crystal Lee

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Test Pattern Lamps For The Video Nerd

Do you know a video nerd in need of some new studio / edit bay / office decor? If so, this is the perfect lamp for them. Inspired by analog TV test cards, Hungarian designer Simon Forgacs has created the “Mono Lamp”, a table lamp that captures the essence of TV for a those of us who grew up with analog CRT’s. The lamps come in two variations, color, and grayscale, with the latter looking a bit like the Death Star from Star wars.  Both are constructed from a plastic globe that is suspended above an ash wood base on an aluminum pole. Each is just under 12 inches in diameter with a height of 14 inches. You can pick one up on Forgacs Indigogo site, but if you live outside of Europe you’re going to need an adapter for the Type C plugin.