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!

A Magical 3D World

Somehow we’re already well into March and this is my first post for the year.  Yet again, I say oops!  and then follow it with “but I have a really good excuse!”  We’ll see what you think…

Since last November, I’ve been inundated with paperwork and graphic design projects getting The Human Face of Big Data ready for it’s debut into the TV world on PBS.  When I started this process I thought that it would going to take me a week or two to get everything together.  Oh how wrong I was!  I’ve been glued to my computer so much that I began thinking it was an appendage and not an external tool that I can leave for a little while and come back to.  It really wasn’t an option with so many deadlines, but now that the broadcast is over, I can finally start to feel like a real person again and enter into reality.

HFOBD Placard 16-9 General-01

I have to apologize that I never actually announced anything on here but that’s how busy I was.  For those of you with any interest in seeing the film, you can see it here:


Anyway, to move away from Big Data for a little while, there are several other projects on the books that are ‘pending’ and of course I have no idea when they are going to start but I know that when they do, watch out!  So for now, I’m taking a chance to breath and trying to catch up on boring stuff like cleaning my home and catching up with friends that I have shamefully neglected since before Thanksgiving. Ok, so seeing friends is far from boring but I revel in the thought that I’m a real person again and not a working machine.  Did I mention that I’ve been working a lot?

I’m kind of glad that I haven’t had time to write here because I found this video ages ago but wasn’t quite sure it was the right time to share it. Now I feel like it’s time. In many ways, it has a lot to do with upcoming projects, I just can’t tell you which elements it has in common:

Future of storytelling

I found this particularly fascinating for many reasons:

  1. My grandparents used to save their favorite Family Circus comics for us to read when we came over and when we moved away, they would mail them to us in letters.
  2. I grew up watching all of these characters on the big screen – how cool would it have been to have experienced them in 3D?  Admittedly it would have been even more terrifying than I already found them – especially the wolves in Beauty and the Beast.
  3. How is this going to influence art in the future? Only time will tell…

If there is one thing that I can say about the last few months is that the blood, sweat and tears that go into projects are well worth the toil if you really love what you’re doing.  I got a lot out of the last few months and even though there are many things that I’ve loved about them, I’m ready to move on and get my creative juices moving in a different way.  Most of all, I’m looking forward to living in the real world again, and not the digital world of my computer screen or my cell phone.

Until next time – and let’s hope it doesn’t take me so long, right?

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:


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.

The Breach is on Tour!

I’m beyond excited to announce that The Breach is officially on tour!  Now I know that I’ve posted dates already, but here is the full list, as well as links to tickets etc.  And in case you need a small reminder of what The Breach is, here’s the trailer:

New York, NY – 04.25 6pm – The Rubin Museum of Art – GET TICKETS  Panel to Include: Chef Tom Douglas!  All the way from Seattle…

Boston, MA – 04.26 – 2pm–  Theatre 1- GET TICKETS

Washington D.C. – 04.28 – 7pm – Goethe-Institut – GET TICKETS

Raleigh, NC –04.29 6pm  The Rialto Theatre – GET TICKETS

Miami, FL – 04.30 – 630pm –  O Cinema – GET TICKETS

Chicago, IL – 05.03  12:30 pm – Gene Siskel Film Center – GET TICKETS

Minneapolis, MN – 05.06 7pm  Showplace Icon Theatre — GET TICKETS

Denver, CO – 05.07 630pm  Landmark Mayan Theatre -— GET TICKETS

Boulder, CO – 05.08 – E Town Hall – GET TICKETS

San Francisco CA – 05.12  530pm – The Bay Aquarium – GET TICKETS

Berkeley – 5.13 630pm – Brower Center/Goldman Theater – GET TICKETS

Seattle – 05.15 630pm  – Seattle Art Museum (SAM)  – GET TICKETS

Portland – 05.18 6pm – McMenamin’s Kennedy School – GET TICKETS

Salt Lake City – ****Special Additional Screening**** 05.19 – Utah Film Center Tickets forthcoming from Utah Film Center

Santa Monica, CA –05.20 7pm – Cross Campus – GET TICKETS

Escapade :: Frame by Frame

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a film about the Middle East.  That’s mostly because I’ve been shying away from them as I get tired of hearing about the wars that have been fought there and the depravity that the people live in etc. etc, but this film trailer caught my eye and I was immediately drawn in by the story.

I wouldn’t say that the U.S. has a completely free press – at least not like they do in Europe where everything is fair game until it breaches privacy laws, but it’s a far freer press than other parts of the world where the government controls everything. Completely everything. You don’t appreciate what you have until you see what it could be like or worse, you experience it first hand.

Red Reel

This film is beautifully shot and it has a powerful message: if you don’t have a visual presence on the web or in the news, then you are left behind.  As someone who has always lived in countries with a “free voice,” it’s hard to imagine living somewhere where you could be killed for documenting something on a camera.  We have become so accustomed to taking photos with our phones and other various devices to share our experience with everyone that we know.  What would it be like to not be able to document what is going on in your life? And, what would it be like to live in a place where once a group of people have left, you have the potential to be forgotten by others?

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!


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.

Wanderlust :: Vino


Now I’ve never been to Slovenia let alone to a vineyard in Slovenia but I have been to several vineyards.  There is something so serene about these specialized farms and they are the perfect getaway for just a few hours.  Its possible that after several wine tastings its just the fermented grape juice that I’ve been sampling that makes me feel that way but I beg to differ.

Since I can’t travel overseas at the moment, perhaps a visit to a vineyard is the perfect antidote… For now I will settle for a glass of wine.

Ohana :: The Bear and the Hare

The John Lewis Christmas Ad is one of the most anticipated of ads in the UK every holiday season.  It’s kind of like the much awaited window displays in the larger department stores down Regent Street.  The best part is that you can now watch these ads anywhere in the world.

John Lewis

Admittedly, John Lewis is encouraging the public to buy the greatest gifts of the season but their message is always a good one- do something special for those you love this Christmas.  We could probably take a lesson from that other times of the year too.  I think my favorite part of this video is that it doesn’t seem to matter what species the characters are- they all come together to celebrate.  And of course don’t forget that they do what they can to include those who wouldn’t usually be able to be there.

I couldn’t help but post this as well- the making of The Bear and the Hare.  I am always in awe of animation production, but this takes it a whole new level.


So there you are, two videos in one post and hopefully they made you smile even during this stressful time of year.