Thursday, December 29, 2011


i watched "tree of life" again tonight. i haven't seen it since i first saw it in the theater this summer.
it's still the best movie of the year.
cinematic near-perfection.

the only way to be happy is to love.

unless you love, your life will flash by

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas and commerce

we took a family trip down to minneapolis and spent the evening at the mall of america, colloquially known as the mega mall. even since it opened some 15+ years ago, i've always liked going there, even if i'm never really sure what i want to do once i get inside. the magic store there started my short-lived interest in being a magician (i can still do a few tricks) and my best friend got banned from there for running up the down escalator in high school. the "camp snoopy" amusement park in the middle of the mall has been redone with nickelodeon characters; i could justify having fun on charlie brown's log flume, but dora the explorer is definitely out of my age range. still, there was a pirate "walk the plank" four-story ropes course that looked pretty dang fun.

from a step back, the mall is, in essence, the epitome of middle-class american commercialism, and it's interesting to look at the stores--ranging from megalith's like macy's and nordstroms to niche stores, such as "bead-niks" or the store that sold only butterfly knickknacks and lasted only a year--to the people who populate these stores. and i'm not saying this in some cynical, "glad i'm not them" way; i love it. i dig the energy of the mall. i like seeing all the people, the exciting high school kids flirting, the dad and kids waiting outside the shoe store for the unseen mom shopping inside.

in a hotel room, typing on my lappy, listening to mumford and sons {*} while my dad's reading a book on his phone and my mom's on her ipad, asking me when i'll update my blog. my vacation continues.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2011 rocks

a few months ago i'm sitting in church when this girl comes up to me and hands me a couple of cds.
"i think you'd really like these guys," she says.

now, there are a couple reasons why i was a little hesitant about this.  first, i couldn't recall ever discussing music with her, so how did she know what i liked? sure, we'd talked here and there at church, but music had never come up that i could remember. second, as anyone who's tried to get me to listen to their favorite band knows, i'm not the most open to being given music that people think i'd like. i view it in the same category as being setup on a date: someone else's opinion of what will click with me based on a few general facts. in matters of music and of the heart, i prefer to find what i like naturally and organically, rather than forcing any attraction. still, out of politeness, i took the cds.

the band is called quiet company, they're out of austin, and, to my genuine surprise, they were great. i loved them. couldn't get enough of them, shared them with other friends, and am i'm listening to them as i type. they're somewhere between tally hall (though not as eclectic or whimsical) and arcade fire (though not as full or theatrical), packing impassioned and heartfelt lyrics with skilled musicianship. their facebook statusi suggests that they're cool and down to earth guys and their brief Christmas ep is most excellent.
if you're looking for something new, they get my highest recommendation. start with "everyone you love will be happy soon." it's sublime.

in fact, 2011 has been an excellent musical year for me. in march, i started to notice something: r.e.m. had just released a new cd in and tally hall's long-overdue sophomore effort was finally coming out in june. radiohead had put something out and the beastie boys had a new album on the way, too. this had me curious if some astrological musical alignment would be bringing forth releases from any other my other favorite bands this year. as of spring break, it seemed that coldplay just had a single coming out and i couldn't see anything on the horizon from tmbg.

by the end of the year, however, pretty much everyone had released something. what was remarkable was that, it had been several years for many of these bands and some of their most recent releases weren't that good, but nearly everything this years was solid (sadly, tmbg's "join us" hasn't inspired me to give it a second listen lately.)
check it out:

band this year previous release
the decembrists
the king is dead hazards of love (2009)
king of limbs in rainbows (2007)
r.e.m. collapse into now accelerate (2008)
the beastie boys hot sauce committee pt.2 the mix-up (2007)
tally hall good & evil marvin's marvelous mechanical museum (2005)
they might be giants join us here comes science (2009)
quiet company we are all where we belong everyone you love will be happy soon (2009)
coldplay mylo xyloto viva la vida (2006)

Monday, December 26, 2011


visiting friends.
eating sushi.
watching movies.
enjoying family.
playing games.
staying up late.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

the magic of Christmas

santa's carbon footprint
did santa come to your house last night? yeah, he came to mine, too. pretty cool, since some of us live very far apart (hi, seattle.)

back during the mid-90s, when only members of gen-x had email accounts and it was still ok to send forwards, i received a mathematical analysis of santa claus's work. it's pretty incredible. i found a similar breakdown on a page that looks to be about ten years old and wanted to share it. some of the numbers aren't wholly current, but the point still gets across.

let's assume that santa only visits those who are children in the eyes of the law, that is, those under the age of 18. there are roughly 2 billion such individuals in the world. however, santa started his annual activities long before diversity and equal opportunity became issues, and as a result he doesn't handle muslim, hindu, jewish and buddhist children. that reduces his workload significantly to a mere 15% of the total, namely 378 million. however, the crucial figure is not the number of children but the number of homes santa has to visit. according to the most recent census data, the average size of a family in the world is 3.5 children per household. thus, santa has to visit 108,000,000 individual homes. (of course, as everyone knows, santa only visits good children, but we can surely assume that, on an average, at least one child of the 3.5 in each home meets that criterion.)

that's quite a challenge. however, by traveling east to west, santa can take advantage of the different time zones, and that gives him 24 hours. santa can complete the job if he averages 1250 household visits per second. in other words, for each Christian household with at least one good child, santa has 1/1250th of a second to park his sleigh, dismount, slide down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, consume the cookies and milk that have been left out for him, climb back up the chimney, get back onto the sleigh, and move on to the next house. to keep the math simple, let's assume that these 108 million stops are evenly distributed around the earth. that means santa is faced with a mean distance between households of around 0.75 miles, and the total distance santa must travel is just over 75 million miles. hence santa's sleigh must be moving at 650 miles per second -- 3,000 times the speed of sound. a typical reindeer can run at most 15 miles per hour. that's quite a feat santa performs each year.

what happens when we take into account the payload on the sleigh? assuming that the average weight of presents santa delivers to each child is 2 pounds, the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons -- and that's not counting santa himself, who, judging by all those familiar pictures, is no lightweight. on land, a reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. of course, Santa's reindeer can fly. (true, no known species of reindeer can fly. however, biologists estimate that there are some 300,000 species of living organisms yet to be classified, and while most of these are insects and germs, we cannot rule out flying reindeer.) now, there is a dearth of reliable data on flying reindeer, but let's assume that a good specimen can pull ten times as much as a normal reindeer. this means that santa needs 214,200 reindeer. thus, the total weight of this airborne transportation system is in excess of 350,000 tons, which is roughly four times the weight of the queen elizabeth (the ship, not the monarch.)

now, 350,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance, and this will heat the reindeer up in the same fashion as a spacecraft re-entering the earth's atmosphere. the two reindeer in the lead pair will each absorb some 14.3 quintillion joules of energy per second. in the absence of a nasa-designed heat shield, this will cause them to burst into flames spontaneously, exposing the pair behind them. the result will be a rapid series of deafening sonic booms, as the entire reindeer team is vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second. meanwhile, santa himself will be subjected to centrifugal forces 17,500 times greater than gravity. that should do wonders for his waistline.

Christmas is indeed a magical time.

i found that here, which also notes that it is not the original source.

i guess all of that work does explain why st. nick travels with six to eight black men as backup.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas tape

in december 1999, i was rounding out my first year as a missionary in japan, trying to stay warm and focused in my second area (it's amazing how cold weather can make a minnesota boy homesick.) one day, i received a cassette tape (remember those?) in the mail from the soga family. i had made some friends in my first area (thinking about it, all of my japanese facebook friends are from there, actually), but i don't think i would have counted the sogas as people who i knew particularly well.

they were a married couple with a young daughter (if i remember correctly), very friendly to us and they spoke some english, which was a joy for a confused missionary. but i really only remember visiting them once in the six months that i was there. nevertheless, they had sent me a tape of Christmas music and a short letter, saying that they knew it was my first Christmas away from home and hoped that this would make it a little easier for me.

it was an excellent mix, with some of my personal favorites (like nat king cole) along with songs that i loved but didn't know at the time (like the carpenters' "carol of the bells.") i listened to the tape all that season and gladly put it in again a year later, when i was a much stronger missionary during my final weeks in the orient. as i was packing to leave, i left it with my companion, a greenie who was spending his first Christmas in the field. more than a decade later, i still don't know why they thought of me but that tape is something i've never forgotten.

merry Christmas eve,
(you knew this was coming)

Friday, December 23, 2011


first off, happy tabernash.

second, red.

red has been on my mind lately. not anger or rage, nor the camera nor the charity nor the kieslowski movie.

but red.


it was in the book on color and film psychology that i was reading on the plane.
it's come up in conversations.
i've been thinking about it.

and i've decided i want more red in my life.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

of muppets and nog

yesterday i was beginning to wonder if it was even worth having a muppets and nog party this year. jack and natalie had moved to north carolina and becky and brady now lived in seattle. not only did that remove two of the key and founding members of the great tradition, that also took out four people over all. and there were at least four other people who were unable to come because i had scheduled my party on the same night as everyone else's family's Christmas party (and two others were home sick). in short, it was looking like there would be six people at my once-grand muppets and nog party. and most of those people didn't even know each other.

the party this year was held at em's house, because she has been reading about the them on here for years and, knowing that i don't have a permanent place in utah, as well as wanting to be a part of the legendary gala, offered her house back before i even knew if i would be in town or not.

true to form, em was a fantastic host. her house looked beautiful: decorations were tastefully trimmed around the rooms, there was Christmas music in the background, and the table was set out with snacks, chocolates, and gingerbread men (they were delicious....) i set to work making the egg nog in a kitchen that would have made alton brown proud, with em readily measuring out anything i needed. when i asked for nutmeg, she gave me the option of "ground" or "whole" and, wanting this to be the best, asked for "whole", to which she promptly set about grating a whole nutmeg... nut(?) i joked about the bourbon listed in the recipe and she pulled out a basket containing numerous little glass jars, handing me a small bottle imitation rum extract. i don't think it's any coincidence that mark declared this year's nog to be the best we've ever had (and everyone agreed.)

while em and i were trying to talk movies amidst the clamor of an electric mixer, her husband renn was busy getting to know everyone else there. one thing i've always really liked about renn is that he can easily talk to anyone and make you feel comfortable. when i was realizing that most of my guests didn't know each other very well, i was grateful that renn would be there to welcome everyone. and it was fun to look up from time time and see him laughing and talking with my friends.

tim and lyndsie came just as we were finishing the nog. i had made enough for one serving for each guest i knew was coming, since mixing and pouring nearly a gallon (or more) of nog can get rather unwieldy and i didn't want to create any more of a mess than i already would be. so tim made me promise that i'd make some for them in minnesota. people were talking and laughing, lyndsie and mary joy were playing with the kids, and em and i were tidying up the kitchen. things were working out.

as is customary, i introduced everyone briefly, since they are all my friends but not everyone else knows each other (depending on the crowd, mark sometimes does.) from there we moved down to watch the movie. in an odd combination of my friends all wanting to be gracious and not take the couch, plus most of my friends are used to sitting on the floor while watching "the muppet's Christmas carol" at my parties, i was the only one on the couch, despite our hosts' repeated offerings.

now, one of the established rules of the muppet and nog party is that you sing along to the songs as best you can. when em was starting the movie, she asked if there was a sing-along option, something that i presume her family of boys enjoys. i had never given a thought to it and there wasn't such an option, but the closed captioning was something we soon wished we thought of years ago. suddenly, all of the words were on the screen and everyone was able to sing along. it was pretty dang awesome as we joined in the chorus of scrooge's opening song. and, as a further bonus, the captioning helped us catch a lot of off-handed jokes that even tim and i had never noticed before.

i did learn something interesting about the story (you knew this was coming, kristin): as the ghost of Christmas present is fading, it's apparent that scrooge has already had his change of heart. he pleads with the spirit to stay and to teach him more, declaring that he wants to be better. but his humility and willingness to repent do not excuse him from the third and most difficult lesson he still had to learn, perhaps to make this change permanent. i also like that the sad events he sees are what will be if things remain as they are, but that they do not have to be what he saw.
not only is it a fun muppet movie, it's a darn good movie period.

a few times during the movie i stepped out for another gingerbread man (reportedly, there's a hint of black pepper in them) and as i passed either renn or em, i thanked them again for being such excellent hosts and that this party was going great. after the movie, everyone mingled and we gathered for a group picture.
then, at kristin's request, an "american gothic" version.
and then, at someone else's odd request, one where we were all pointing at mark.

as kristin and i got in the car, she turned to me and said, "i think this has been one of my favorite muppet parties."
mine, too.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

who needs guitars anyway

editor's note:  we hold to a firm policy here to never reuse a post title or picture. somewhere in the air between texas and arizona, it occurred to our staff that we may have used the title "such great heights" before. sometime in 2007, actually. and while there is the temptation to change the old post title, since we like it so well, we are holding to principles of historical accuracy and integrity and adjusting the title of this post, instead. not quite the same but it still works.

the newsstands at the austin airport haven't yet stocked time's "person of the year" issue. that's become a tradition of mine every year for the past four or five years, except for two years ago, when ben bernake was chosen, because that was just boring. i was almost faced with a massive holiday conundrum when the lady at the u.s. airways counter told me that my snowboard would cost $200 to check through. when i asked her to confirm that, she got on the phone and soon informed me that snowboards are not classified as "sports equipment" but are checked as standard luggage. i'm pretty sure the exact same scenario happened last year.

as best as i can tell, the only thing i forgot is my wacom bamboo tablet, and if having to use a mouse for my photoshop projects is the biggest challenge i'll face this trip, i'm marking it as a success. having my vision focused passing (or at least, surviving) this semester, coupled with the 70+ degree weather and total absence of snow around here, it hardly feels like Christmas is in ten days. i listened to david sedaris's "santaland diaries" while i packed this afternoon, hoping that would help. but i'll be in utah tonight, with my friends tomorrow, on the mountains on saturday, and drinking homemade nog that evening. as i'm able to sit and relax and unwind from that force that is school, it's nice to look around and realize that it is Christmas time.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


one of the things i like most about my life in texas is my job. unlike most viz students, i don't work in the department but managed to procure a job with the division of research, doing video work for them. which means that i get to get out of langford for a bit and work with real cameras and lights, instead of all that virtual stuff. there are only five other people in my office and they're all significantly older than me, but they're also all really cool.

tonight was the work Christmas party and i was told that "significant others are welcome." i considered bringing one of my insignificant others but opted instead to go as the cool single guy. at parties, i have a tendency to clam up but with some effect at the start, i can push forward and be a part of the cool crowd and did so nicely tonight. the party was great. my boss hosted at her home, and i'm normally not one to give much thought to others' houses, but susan's place is beautiful. not "lame rich person" nice but genuinely cultured and stylish. proving that this wasn't just for looks, she made amazing "heavy hors d'oeurves", which constituted a dinner of fine meats and cheeses, olives and garlic and homemade pot pies. the chocolate desserts maintained the class.

i don't think i will ever live down the "sweet child o' mine" incident (we're actually still trying to tell the vp that it's a bad idea), as that was a story that we related to everyone's wives and husbands with much laughter. a few days before the party, i was asked to be in charge of the music, and i did my best, plugging in my ipod and going straight for the good stuff. when the white elephant gift exchange came around, susan (60s, grandmother) looked at me and asked for something more lively. and everyone was happy with daft punk's tron: legacy soundtrack, followed by the dropkick murphys.

my office is awesome.
wish you could have been there.

the 700 club

i bribed jess to come over and help me with some catch up programming assignments by including "the two towers" as part of the deal tonight. in between dealing with archaic compiler errors, i overheard this:

frodo: i can't do this, sam.

sam: i know. it's all wrong. by rights we shouldn't even be here. but we are. it's like in the great stories, mr. frodo. the ones that really mattered. full of darkness and danger, they were. and sometimes you didn't want to know the end. because how could the end be happy? how could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? but in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. even darkness must pass. a new day will come. and when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. those were the stories that stayed with you. that meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. but i think, mr. frodo, i do understand. i know now. folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. they kept going. because they were holding on to something.

frodo: what are we holding onto, sam?

sam: that there's some good in this world, mr. frodo... and it's worth fighting for.

for me and also for any of you who needed to be reminded of what we already know.

Monday, December 12, 2011

joy in our journey

a month or so ago, brandon approached me with an idea: he'd made a short film a few years ago and he wanted me to help him remake it. ten times. each time with a different obstruction or rule that had to be followed. i thought the idea was thrillingly brilliant. (it also wasn't his original idea; despite having no interest in lars von trier's work, i think this is fascinating. their starting film is so wonderful it reminds just how good a short film can be....)
one night after watching five obstructions, we stayed up until 3 a.m. pitching our obstacles. the ten that we selected are:
  1. each shot must be exactly seven seconds long
  2. the film must be shot and edited on a cell phone
  3. the actors' face's cannot be shown
  4. brandon can have nothing to do with the movie but he will be credited as the director
  5. the total time of shooting cannot exceed 30 minutes. the film must have at least five setups
  6. it shot in a style brandon hates. in this case, it was mimicking "the hills"
  7. the film must be done in one shot
  8. the film must be animated
  9. the film must consist of production audio only; the visual elements must be stock footage
  10. he can do whatever he wants
and so, in between the pressures of wrapping up the semester, we've been trying to make ten short films, all remakes of the same source film (because this has been the most fun i've had on any project here yet). in the original 2-minute short, he and his girlfriend are making dinner. nothing is said as they finish cooking and sit down to eat. after a few moments of dull silence, he asks, "how was your day?" with a subtitle reading, "i couldn't think of anything else to say." she replies, "it was fine", which is translated as "terrible." when she answers his question about dinner, she says it's good, the subtitle clarifies, "we should have gotten a pizza."

our first one, each shot being exactly seven seconds, was more or less a remake of this (i recorded some footage of brandon at around 2 a.m. stating exactly why seven seconds is the worst possible length for a shot), and the second one (shot on a cell phone) was also pretty straightforward. in an effort to not end up with ten nearly-identical movies, we started playing variations on the theme of dry communication.

the "no faces" was brandon and savannah circularly arguing about how they can never decide where to go to eat, not that it really matters anyway (at some points they got so intense that i wanted to stop them before their relationship deteriorated, but the shots i was getting were just so good.... to my relief, they told me they were amplifying their emotions for the sake of the camera), the "30 minutes total" was of an older couple making dinner who didn't talk much because they contentedly didn't need to. "the hills" was just the opposite, two girls talking non-stop without saying anything of substance or value.

which brought me to mine.
being a graduate of film school, i knew that student films nearly always had two glaring characteristics: they nearly always starred college aged kids and they were nearly always filmed around town, meaning they all felt the same. so i took a camera with me to minnesota over thanksgiving, hoping to enlist my 16-year old friend to star. unfortunately, our schedules didn't work out (and i'm still really fond of my concept for that story), but i'd shot a second idea as a backup.

in high school, my best friend and i would drive around town all night, hoping to find something to do yet always coming up empty. and so i wanted to tell the story of a relationship gone dry, not between two people, but between us and moorhead. jon and i shot for two nights and near the end i was getting so frustrated about not getting what i'd wanted that, during a break a perkins, he turned the camera on me as i vented. i thought maybe i could make a movie about not being able to make a movie, but that felt too self-aware and film student-ish.

after twelve hours of editing (the last three were fights with the export process), i cut a movie that is close to what i envisioned and that i'm actually very happy with.

brandon hasn't yet seen this. he'll first see it when he shows the project to his class tomorrow for their final.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

a few of my favorite things

i was the narrator for the ward Christmas program today. when i came to the end of reading "and suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God and saying, glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men," it was all i could do to not conclude with, "and that's what Christmas is all about, charlie brown."

with the blessing of the sunday school president, i skipped ahead a few lessons today and taught from revelation, since seven-headed dragons are cool. when we were talking about the opening of the seven seals, i really wanted to make some bergman reference but, without an established movie night here, no one would have appreciated the joke.
as i was thinking about how the opening of the seals can mean something to us in our own lives, i thought of how, just as we can find comfort in the craziness of the world around us by knowing that, after the seventh seal has been opened, that everything will work out, perhaps there are seals in our own lives. and that if it seems that horsemen of disappointment or broken dream have been given power to run rampant in our own lives, we can remember that their bounds, too, are set, and that there are still more seals to be opened. only after the seventh seal of our own lives has been opened will all be made right and the promised blessings secured. alma 37:16-17

in elder's quorum we were talking about the importance of learning and gaining an education and at one point read from d&c 88:78-80, where the Lord commands the saints to study many different things, essentially encompassing all of academia.
i've always noticed that the arts are not really mentioned in that list and, as i was thinking about that again today, i thought of alma 30:44, where alma cites the marvel of creation all around us as a sign that there is a God. not only is God the ultimate scientist, but, as artists spend so much of their effort to capture the beauty of a sunset, a mountain, to mimic the way a cat moves, is it apparent that God is also the ultimate artist.
or, as we used to say on set, God is the best gaffer.

Friday, December 09, 2011

art show: information arts

i went to bed at 7:30 on--what day was that?--thursday morning and slept without interruption until  4:15 that afternoon. it came fast and i was sad i'd missed my full day of work but it was already gone. the night/morning before, i had made sure our group's animation was submitted but the deadline to be in the fall show. now it was time to work on setting up our mfa class's art show portion of friday's event.

by 1 a.m. we had three of the six works hung and those three students went home. the remaining three of us spent the night wrestling with how to display our work, making multiple trips to the store for adhesive velcro, double-sided tape, wire, and chocolate. the two of us mormons had a discussion on religion with the former-hindu guy while he was eating a bag of beef jerky and found a lot of interesting parallels. on my second trip for permanent double-sided tape (my smart idea of using the "reusable" variety was a useless disaster), i stopped by mcdonald's to buy breakfast since i knew i wouldn't be eating for the rest of the day. and it allowed me to get my whole day's recommended fat intake at once.

around 9 a.m. the other members of our class started returning to the studio, seeming a little annoyed that we weren't all finished. to be honest, i'd thought we would be, too, but we'd been working all night to get to even where we were. i expect some people were feeling stressed but tensions never reared. with less than an hour to the show opening, i found myself with no emotional choice but to be slightly amused as my 20"x30" photographs were still falling off the wall, regardless of what i tried to use to mount them. everyone worked together, my ipod continued to bring forth good music, and we performed the miracle of turning that disastrous mess in the studio into a very nice looking art show.

i worked for a few hours, all the while fighting to keep my eyes open. i had a good phone conversation on my way to the institute and had a fun time at the second annual "orney" awards (where multiple people told me they didn't recognize the guy coming in late with a leather jacket and pony tail....) looking at the clock, i think i recently passed the 30-hour mark and i'm calling that good for the day.


Thursday, December 08, 2011

fall show

i just got home from school. i was there for 41 hours. excepting a few hours for work over those couple of days, pretty much the whole time was spent on the top level of langford building c. i think i've been up for 24 hours. that was after i slept for two and a half hours on the floor next to a computer, using my leather jacket as a pillow. i listened to the charlie brown Christmas soundtrack on repeat the whole night through. it makes for good animating music as well as good Christmas music. i have eaten nothing but pizza for the last 36 hours. my roommates kindly brought me my requested toothbrush around midnight a few nights ago; being able to brush your teeth in the morning really makes an all-nighter more bearable.

i wish i could say that this hard work has produced a phenomenal project that i'm proud of and am hoping will win us a student emmy. instead, the best i can say is that i handed in my animation project by the deadline, and sometimes, that's ok.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

harry had a strong desire to kick something

i just found out--at 3:28 a.m. while animating--that a&m is having a yule ball this friday (hosted by the school's quidditch team, no less.)

that sounds absolutely awesome and i've decided that i want more formal events like that in my life.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

mosh bit

that (if you watched it) is my final project from my "digital image" class, where we essentially learn the coding behind photoshop.
in case you're wondering about how that happened:

that's what we call a "datamosh." in a compressed video file, each frame is designated as either an i-frame or a p-frame. an i-frame redraws the entire image, while a p-frame records only the movement changes in the pixel (i've never ever heard of these before). i-frames are placed anytime there is a drastic change in the content of the image. this is usually at a cut to a new shot but it can also be when there is a great amount of motion in the shot, such as a rapid pan across a room or if a rabbit full of confetti exploded.

the magic of datamosh occurs when the i-frames are removed, so that different images are blended together, causing the motion of one frame to be pulled from the pixels of the previous frame. i did this by taking my demo reel, cutting out some shots, adding one or two new shots and some video of tally hall (shot by kristin) for good measure, then using two different programs. the first was ffmpegx, which i have no idea what it did other than put a lot of extensions on the end of my video file, somehow making it ready to be used in the second program, avidemux. in avidemux, i went through and removed the i-frames, thus moshing two shots in a very unnatural way.

the biggest challenge of this process is that these two programs, ffmpegx and avidemux, suck. ffmpegx, with enough coddling, spit out my file in the desired format, but avidemux was a nightmare. its most reliable feature was crashing, and it would do this unfailingly. i have made this movie about a dozen times, and just as i would go to save or export my i-frame-less movie, it would crash. once i finally did get it rendered out, the file was so unstable that only the most robust video players could recognize it, and that was another adventure until i could wrap that mess in a nice and secure quicktime format.

another effect that can be done with datamoshing is to repeatedly copy and paste a single p- frame, which gives a rad color bloom effect that you can see briefly at the start and end of the video. i would have liked to add more of these, or at least sustain them longer, but even copying one frame only twelve times (half a second) was risking a crash, and what ended up in the video was the balance between the program's temperament and my sanity.

overall, though, i'm happy with how this turned out. the music came from there's a lot of weird junk there, and i spent more time searching through there than i did on the rest of the project.
but, for the first time ever, my project was the first one submitted on the website.
know why? because this didn't involve writing any code....  : D
and i'm going to savor that feeling.

Friday, December 02, 2011

the center of the universe

jaime said something interesting a few days ago that i've been thinking about. she mentioned how great it was that, to God, everything does revolve around us. that so many things in our life (everything?) happen, fall into place, and line up to bring us the greatest happiness, provided we've got our act together and are doing what we can to follow His plans.

i'd never really thought of it like that and said i'd need some time to think about that, even though it felt right. it's interesting, because, in a way, it seems contrary to the plan of God: we're supposed to learn humility, to recognize our insignificance. but that's so that we can learn to trust Heavenly Father.
it comes back to the paradoxical lesson that moses learned on the mountain: man is nothing, yet man has the potential to be like God. all that He's doing is for our benefit, to bring us the greatest joy if we can learn to do it His way instead of our way. because, like jaime noted, it all revolves around us as far as He's concerned (and that's pretty far.)

then, to add as a second witness, president uchtdorf said essentially that very thing in the talk i was listening to on my way to school this afternoon.