Talking with Whales

Have you seen “Finding Dori” yet?  If you haven’t, you’re missing out.  Yes, most of it is pretty fantastical and completely unrealistic but who said entertainment had to be resemble actuality?  After all, it’s a story about talking fish.

Even if you haven’t seen “Finding Dori” (or “Finding Nemo” *Gasp!*) you’ve probably heard someone try to speak whale just like Dori.  In Pixar’s world, speaking whale is something like “Weeeeeelllllcooooommmme tooooo theeee oooooccceeeaaaan!”  I’m sad to say that it’s not nearly as lyrical as we’d like to imagine but instead is more like a series of clicks.  You know, kind of like morse code.

No, I haven’t been taking whale lessons but in the last year I’ve learned a lot about whales (and virtual reality) for a relatively new project – “The Click Effect“.  I won’t try to explain the science or even how it whales communicate as I’m certainly not not a marine biologist but this little film explains it beautifully.

The Click Effect Poster

Here Be Dragons

Back in December, we embarked on the journey of creating a new virtual reality (VR) film about how marine researchers use freediving to research how whales communicate.  Besides the fact that I got to be a part of this project, the whole introduction to VR is quite amazing.

Unfortunately, VR is something that requires a separate headset (you can buy inexpensive versions from Google or you can go for the gusto and buy a high end headset from Samsung or Valve) but if you have the chance to experience it at the many new venues that this technology is popping up, I would highly recommend the experience.  It’s impossible to explain how cool it is without experiencing it first hand. To get some sort of an idea, check out this film that I shared a few months ago.

Of course, there are other ways to see “The Click Effect” if you’re interested.  Either visit Here Be Dragons or NYTVR and it will show you how to watch the film without a headset.

Now that this project is done and out in the world – it was at Sundance International Film Festival in January and released online in March, we’re on to other projects.  Many, are underwater and will premiere in a VR format but that’s all I can tell you for now.

Until next time, just keep swimming!

Rome by Drone

I realize that I’ve been M.I.A. the last few weeks and I do have a good reason for that – have been insanely busy getting ready for the New York Premiere of The Human Face of Big Data!  I’m excited for several reasons, but mostly because this will be my first big film premiere – not to mention this is my first time visiting New York.  I probably won’t have much time to see much as my calendar is already filling up with meetings and appointments in my short visit but I’m happy with the idea of wondering through Manhattan for a few hours.

When I saw this short video, it made me happy for several reasons:

  1. It made me reminisce on my trip to Rome a few years ago.  I remember the city being a lot more crowded but then again, I was there over New Years and I’m pretty sure all of Italy decided to go to Rome.
  2. I love the camera movement and the editing – it’s mesmerizing.

OLIVER ASTROLOGO

It’s amazing how quickly drones have taken over ariel filming in the last year or so.  I’ve actually worked on a couple of projects that used a drone of sorts to get the higher elevation shots that a crane couldn’t reach.  They are so versatile and the camera movement is a dream.  I’m not crazy about the number of drones that I’ve seen cruising past my living room window in the last few months, but I can’t complain about not having to have a dolly and tracks to get the camera movement I’d like.

If you like this video, you should check out some of the others on Oliver’s vimeo page.  The video in Vietnam is equally beautiful.

Crafting at Sea

What do you do with all the odd bits of plastic floating around the ocean?  Well, it seems that these sailors have found one use:

STUDIO SWINE

I’m in love with the editing of the this film – more the the point, the mesmerizing water shots.  It makes me miss the open water and living on a boat while reminding me of how little there is to do when you’re not actively  sailing, sleeping or doing chores.  There isn’t much to do during the few hours of down time.

What a fascinating history of sailor’s hobbies and how we can simulate it today without having to kill sperm whales for materials…

Cloud Formations

We’ve had a very odd summer here in the PNW.  For many parts of the world it’s not unusual to have high temperatures and no to little rain for months on end.  We however, are not used to it here.  Today, it’s finally raining and although it’s back to being grey (for one day only), it’s kind of a relief.

A normal summer would include frequent cloud cover, temperatures in the mid-70s and days of either brilliant sunshine or light drizzle.  So far 2015 has has blue skies and little wispy clouds that chase each other across the sky.  We don’t tend to get sightings like this:

MIKE OLBINSKI

I’ve only seen clouds like this in the Mid-West when I was in my late teens and while driving through the Southwest when I was 12.  It’s videos like this that prove just how powerful and beautiful nature an be.  It’s simply mesmerizing!

The patience that it takes to film scenes like this always astonish me.  This is why I didn’t go into nature documentaries – I’m not patient enough to wait for things to happen.  I sure am thankful to those who do have the stamina and patience to record things like this though.

Raincoats still available!

I can hardly believe that Sonja Silver’s raincoat Kickstarter is complete!  If you remember, I made the campaign video and we’ve been fundraising ever since the completion.  This has been the least stressful campaign that I’ve ever worked on – woo hoo for people with an online following and a great campaign team!

In case you were hoping to order a coat or any other items but didn’t get your order in in time, you can still get your name in before they run out.  There are 94 coats still available and Sonja is willing to take fill orders over the phone.  Please contact me if you’re interested.

And in case you haven’t heard about this fabulous coat that I’ve been involved with, check out the video below:

Thank you for everyone’s support and for all of those who have contributed!

A Raincoat for the PNW Woman

Today, I can finally share something that I’ve been working on since the beginning of March!

I’ve been collaborating with Sonja Silver Designs and Chandler O’Leary on their creation of a new raincoat, exclusively designed for fashion conscious women on the go.  My role had little to do with the design of the coat – instead I’ve been working on the Kickstarter video:

EMFIRNO

A contemporary raincoat with a constellation print lining illustrated by Chandler O’Leary. Useful + Beautiful. Made in the USA.

Sonja and Chandler’s Kickstarter campaign runs May 17-June15. Fore more details on this amazing product, please check out the details at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1284565607/a-raincoat-by-sonja-silver-with-chandler-oleary

Escapade :: Advantage

Getting the “birds eye view” can be very advantageous in certain situations.  When photographing a panoramic view for instance, or mapping out an area. Being chased, or trying to ensure that you stay ahead in some sort of distance race, this rule certainly applies.  Or in this film, all these circumstances collide and prove the point perfectly:

Advantage the movie

What I love most about this film comes in three parts:

  1. I love the color contrast.  Everything is a shade of orange, grey and dark grey and it all seems to meld together, yet contrast so beautifully that you have to wonder how much of it is planned and how much of it is natural surroundings.
  2. I love the movement of the camera.  Something like this could be very stagnant even though the car is moving but the movement of both the camera and the car gives the audience the feel of being part of the chase.
  3. I love the graphics.  They move as vividly as the rest of the film and tie in with the story well, taking it further than the final shot of the driver looking down over the cliff. Very “James Bond”.

Makes me want to go out and see a action film.  A classy action film.

Feet Up! :: Summer Movies

I’ve never been completely sure why there are so many big films that come out during the summer- aren’t we supposed to be outside while the weather is nice?  Ok, so I live in a temperate climate and we take all we can get when it comes in the form of sunshine.  I guess its the idea that school is out and that we supposedly have “more time” so we fit in more movies- is that it?

Anyway, whether it’s us escaping the heat for a few hours or having more time, there is the usual Michael Bay film out this summer.  I believe it’s another Transformers movie and  I probably won’t see it until the it comes out on DVD unless I end up going with a group of friends who are still enamored by Michael Bay movies.  It’s not that I don’t like his films, I actually do enjoy them from time to time, but it’s that each film gets more explosive and dizzying and the stories don’t seem to matter much anymore.  It’s all about the special effects and dare I say, they are all starting to look the same?

I’ve been having these thoughts for a while, and then I saw this:

Tony Zhou

 

I guess if I had examined several Michael Bay films, I would have see why I’ve been having these thoughts and this little critique explains it all.  It gives me a whole new appreciation for Bay’s work and although I may not be seeing his newest film this summer, I do enjoy his work.  I probably won’t be able to watch one of his films in the same way in the future but at least I know where to go when I want an action packed adventure.

Happy movie going this summer and if you do see the new Transformers, think of this little film as a little film school tutorial.  You never know what you might notice!

Tracks

Film festivals have become the center of my life in the last few months.  Between working on getting  current projects into  festivals and attending films at festivals, I’ve become dependent on festival catalogues and spend far too much time looking at what films are playing at what time.  It’s almost like I’m back working for a festival again but for once I’m on the other end of the phone asking the questions instead of having to know all of the answers.

Now normally I would try to see documentaries to see what other people are working on but I’ve been mixing in narrative film as well.  One film in particular, Tracks, is an interesting mix of the two as it is technically a narrative piece while being based on a true story.  Now perhaps some scenes aren’t exactly the way that it happened, but for the most part the story is in tact.

Dir. John Curran

I know that the idea of watching a girl walk across q desert with four camels and a dog, interrupted periodically by a photojournalist, may not sound like the most invigorating story, but somehow it captures your attention for the full two hours.  I love the cinematography in this film.  It’s beautiful and it moves the viewer through the film so seamlessly (with many thanks to the editor and the composer too) that it’s pure eye candy.

The film also has another draw for me in that photojournalist Rick Smolan is featured in this film which adds an interesting connection for me.  I happen to work with Rick’s brother and at times with Rick.  It’s a surreal experience watching a film where you see the same name that’s sitting in your inbox pop on the movie screen.  I know better than to think of this person on the screen to be the true Rick, but it’s amazing to see someone who looks and sounds so much like him.

If you have the chance to see this film, I would highly recommend it. And, for those who are completely entranced by the story and want to know more, there is a book and the original National Geographic article.

Another month gone…

May was one of the busiest months I’ve had in a long time and to be honest I loved every moment of it.  It was one of those good types of busy where I was exhausted by the end of the day (in a good way) and I looked forward to the next day.  I hope June can bring something like that because I’m feeling very fulfilled at the moment.

What was keeping me so busy?  I don’t know if I’m quite ready to share that yet as there is a lot in post-production to be done, but to give you an idea, it involved:

  1. Spending time up in the mountains.
  2. Food.  Lots of food. Really good food.
  3. Visiting with friends.
  4. Camping.
  5. Puppies.
  6. Watching films at the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF).

I know.  Not a lot to go by, but like I said, post-production is going to take a while.

I don’t have much of a theme for this month but after reflecting on this last month, I’m using themes from the last few weeks to inspire my next few posts.

Food,-Friends,-Nature

A broad topic I know… stay tuned.