Even though Thanksgiving has come and gone (Sorry all you Non-American readers) I thought it would be a fun idea to make a list of the things I am thankful for. Since the context of these blogs are media related, I won’t be making my usual thankful list of friends, family, new advancements in food and pictures of dogs smoking pipes.

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Its crazy how many of these picture there are online

So sit back (or forward, who I am to tell you what to do) and enjoy. I hope some of these will spark your creativity like they have mine.

 

Every Frame a Painting

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This brilliant YouTube series breaks down the crazy amount of work and thought that goes into shot composition, editing, and film form – with beautiful simplicity. Every episode is between 3 to 7 minutes long and is narrated by Tony Zhou; a cinematographer in California. His straight-forward yet insightful way of conveying editing and story telling techniques is refreshing compared the usual online cinematography videos of people speaking from their ego instead of their passion for the subject. Just have a watch. I guarantee that if you like this video the rest are just as good.

I warn you, binge watching is highly likely.

I am thankful for this YouTube series for a few reasons. People often ask me, “How hard can it be to do your job?” and act as if a lot of what I do as an editor and filmmaker revolves around ‘put in the hours’ kinda of work. It’s mind blowing for a lot of people when they see the level of work and thought that goes into every image; from lighting to lack of lighting, from angle, to lens, to that sound of some old lady humming Frank Sintra in the background.

On a not so cynical note, I love to see the behind the scenes and concepts of cinematography in application. Its easy to not notice the small stuff and just let the scene wash over you, and that’s kind of the point with this art form. A well done pieces has hidden cuts and is supposed to make the viewer forget they are watching something on a screen, its only when you watch a badly done scene do you notice the work. Every Frame a painting really opened my eyes to the possibilities and made me even more obsessed with the moving image, its starting to become unhealthy.

 

99% Invisible

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Every frame of painting was something for the eyes, now how about something for the ears. 99% invisible was started by Roman Mars as a small radio show focused on talking about the overlooked and under appreciated areas of design and architecture. I can hear you yawning but I promise its some of the best and most interesting stuff I have listened to in a long time. The way they tell stories is fine tuned and filled with moments where I can’t help but laugh and smile, no matter how burned out I am when listening to them while running or working on a project.  They have podcast subjects ranging from the insanely well though out designs of flags to historical subjects like Abo Elementary school, an underground school designed during the cold war with the intention of doubling as a fallout shelter should the need arise.

Thankfully 99% invisible is not alone in their awesomeness. They have recently formed a network of like minded radio shows with PRX called Radiotopia. and every single one I have listened too is brilliant. Seriously, I’m not blowing smoke up your butt, this is some of the funnest learning I have done in a long time. I am so thankful for these folks and their stories.

Check them out here:
www.radiotopia.fm

 

Commercial video drones allowed in Virginia

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As of March 6th 2014 Commercial video drones are allowed in Virginia, before that drones of any kind were deemed illegal due to FAA rulings and paranoia of drones by the Virginia government. Now because of this new ruling, large scale production flying shots can be done by filmmakers with super low budgets, and that is awesome! If I want to do a fly over of a burning motorcycle after me and Peter Fonda get shot by a pair of conservative rednecks I can now do that without needing to pay for a helicopter and emptying my bank account.

I am thankful for this new law because Its no surprise to most people but making a movie isn’t cheap. So much of filming has become paying some posh equipment rental company inflated prices all because they know you need a shot that has been eating away your sleeping hours. Call me an anarchist but having video drones now legal and cheaper than ever gives me a nice fuzzy ‘Stick it to the man’ feeling.

 

The Graph Editor in After Effects

Now this one gets a lot more nerdy and self promotional than the previous items on this list so fair warning. After Effects is a motion graphics animation program that I use almost every day. Its great for creating really cool 2D moving graphics like this video me and the Rocket Pop team made for Integral Systems

Now this video was a lot of work and the piece was very effective but it was lacking in fluid movement in many places, this was before I learned about he graph editor.  The graph editor is a gift from the gods that helps you manipulate movement of an object turning this;

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Using a simple easy ease

into

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Using the graph editor

Its very subtle but it means the world of a difference when there is a lot of moving parts. I am extremely thankful because after learning about the graph editor my brain has exploded with ideas for animations I now want to experiment with, its like after watching your favorite movie for the 100th time you all of a sudden notice something new and fall in love with the film all over again. I feel like my creative batteries have been charged and It has turned my motion graphics work up exponentially or as Emeril Lagasse would put it, kicked it up a notch.

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Will people still get this reference? BAM!!

And for that I am thankful. Happy Thanksgiving folks!