I know it’s past midnight and I don’t care, this post is for yesterday – I mean today! oh, crap, I mean August 21st. It’s one English post every day and I’m trying to stick with that. Yeah, I KNOW YESTERDAY’S WAS IN PORTUGUESE, damn! I don’t make the rules, ok? Actually, I do, but I’m still trying not to break them ALL at once. Let’s get to what matters, shall we?
I finally realized that even though this song has followed me the entire last year – through the good and the bad – I never mentioned it here yet. Well, it all started in the Modeling 1 classes, when François would put random indie tracks for us to listen while we tried to understand which poor life choices had caused us to move that specific vertex out of line and fuck up the entire asset – very likely the Chair. So, among these tracks there was a specific one with some whistling (yeah, indie tracks, I know, lots of them have whistling) but also catchy lyrics. It took me weeks to finally identify bits and pieces of words to find its name. “Little Talks” by Of Monsters and Men.
After that, I became increasingly addicted to it. I’ve had days (plural!) which this was the only music I’d listen to, on repeat. I’d bike to and from school listening and singing and whistling to this tune. I thought the lyrics were beautiful, but that was pretty much it. After some time, I started to create some empathy with what it said, for it somehow related to a couple things in my life. Winter came and so did other songs.
Many months ahead, last week, to be precise, Spotify throws an acoustic cover by Julia Sheer and Jon D. in one of my random playlists. What a fortunate reunion. First because their version sounds great, second, its minimalist approach got me. I started listening to it constantly, whistling and singing out aloud while biking on the seawall.
It’s been more than a few weeks since I started to feel an urge to play with After Effects. The hunt for good audio to make a kinetic type video was going on and last night I realized that this one could be a good call. I was too worried about making something outstanding and amazing when I should just worry about DOING ANYTHING AT ALL. For that I picked the last verses and chopped them in three blocks, each one under 15 seconds. Throwing that into After Effects with a square aspect ratio, I had decent instagram projects that could be finished in no longer than a couple of hours.
It was nice to remove some of the rust over the commands and effects, and remember how to do things working in layers instead of nodes. There are plenty of things I learned this year that I could port into my workflow. Since this was supposed to be simple, and match the song, I didn’t go crazy and kept it all minimalistic, black and white, without excessive movement or lens flares.
Tomorrow I’ll post the last piece. Then I’m restarting the hunt for interesting chunks of recorded voice in order to have a next project.
O mundo acabou à meia noite de Sábado para domingo.
Ok, isso ficou um pouco sensacionalista. O “Mundo” não “acabou”. As leis da física que dizem respeito à eletricidade é que resolveram tirar férias. Nada mais produzia corrente. Nem turbinas, nem painéis solares, hélices, nem aquelas lanterninhas mecânicas que fazem um barulho desgraçado produziam qualquer ampére, volt, watt, nem um mísero joule.
Pilhas e baterias não perderam suas cargas num passe de mágica, mas era impossível recarregá-las. Geradores viraram pesos de papel exageradamente grandes. A única eletricidade que ainda existia eram os raios, mas ainda vamos chegar nesse ponto.
A gente sempre acha que tá preparado pras coisas, quando na verdade a gente tá “mais ou menos” preparado praquilo que podemos imaginar, prever. Te digo que não tve um cientista prevendo data de validade pras teorias dos titios Faraday, Tesla, Franklin e por aí vai. A “Fé na ciência”, haha, prevejo um grande aumento na religiosidade ao redor do mundo depois dessa pegadinha científica que praticamente sustentava a sociedade.
Aquela primeira frase foi tão exagerada que vale a pena colocar mais um aviso: esse não é um conto megalomaníaco. Não tem guerra, zumbis, aliens, nem esses clichês de fim de mundo – Mad Max, Eu Sou A Lenda, Guerra Mundial Z, Walking Dead, The Last Of Us – ou sociedades totalitárias – 1984, Admirável Mundo Novo, Equilibrium. Se você está ok com essas informações, vamos adiante.
Por motivos de exaustão e tédio, Pedro deitou para dormir às 20h30. Desde que chegara em sua cidade natal, três semanas atrás, não tinha conseguido acordar depois das 4 da manhã nem sequer uma vez. Suas olheiras eram profundas. “Melhor dormir cedo pra tentar descansar um pouco mais”. Ele sabia que iria acordar às quatro e estava determinado a continuar dormindo. Essa decisão lhe custou a primeira chance de entender o que estaria acontecendo.
Dito e feito, como máquina, seus olhos se abriram às 4h15. O quarto estava claro, iluminado pela tela do notebook. “Alguma coisa deve ter desativado o descansador de tela”. Ao fundo os apitos do nobreak da casa perdendo carga preenchia o silêncio. Levantou-se, foi até o computador e abaixou a tela. Aí é que percebeu como o mundo estava escuro lá fora, sem os postes para iluminar as ruas do condomínio. “Falta de luz de madrugada? Essa é nova…”
Depois de sucessivas tentativas fracassadas de desligar o nobreak para fazê-lo calar a boca, resolveu que fechar a porta do quarto teria que bastar. Voltou e deitou-se para continuar seu sono. Se tivesse aproveitado aqueles últimos minutos de bateria tanto do notebook como do nobreak, poderia ter descoberto na internet que não era uma mera falta de luz. Pela manhã ambos os aparelhos já estariam sem carga e sua chance escorregou por pouco. Bom, ele teria que descobrir as coisas no caminho. Que história chata seria, se o herói já soubesse tudo de partida, não é mesmo?
Way to go, Tito. Promise one post every day and go the subsequent two days with no posts at all. Way to go.
In my defense, the past two days were CRAZY, action-packed, life-changing, superlative-adjective days. For starters, Monday was the final delivery for our reels. As you might’ve read in the previous post, I finished mine on Sunday, but still, I can’t remember having such a relaxing night of sleep in the past months. Being free from that project by completing it feels like the second best thing in the world.
Later on Monday we also had a huge class dinner, where I sat at the largest and fullest table I’ve ever seen in my life. By the end of it just the Brazilians remained, chatting about life and work. Lots of fun.
On Tuesday I had May’s graduation from Sound Design. We met earlier to chat with an immigration lawyer to see what were our odds of being able to stay in Canada, work permits, permanent residence and so on. After that we had the graduation ceremony, which was beautiful – specially when compared to our 3D grads, which are looooong. May gave the best speech ever, and her final project was pretty amazing. Later on we had a class lunch/dinner with everyone and families. That was one of those moments when I realized I’m very different now since I ordered a spinach salad – out of my own will – and enjoyed every single bit of it. If that wasn’t enough, afterwards we went to a nearby bar and lots of other sound design students showed up along instructors and further acquaintances. By then I was already too tired to go on and went home.
And then we had today. Today I was able to rip off one of the pedals of my bike along the seawall. I have a metal stump sticking out now, which I’m using as a pedal. Tasks for tomorrow include getting this fixed. Also on the task list is “find a proper huge personal project to invest some time”, since not having school or any responsibility at all feels weird and I really miss doing motion graphics and After Effects. I wanna see if all I learned at VFS will help me in some drastic way with the stuff I used to do before.
Very mudane posts, I know. I’ll change gears eventually, just hang with me. Getting used to writing more, writing constantly and writing in English.
Not sure how this is gonna go, but let’s give it a shot.
Here at VFS, once we reach Term 4 we’re moved into the studio and each student has their own assigned slot and computer. If you’re reading this you’re probably a VFS student and know it all too well. Anyway, that’s also the moment that we get our Industry Mentors, people that are currently working on shows or features that come to the school, once a week, to give us advice and review our work.
As you might’ve gotten from all my previous posts about hard times and such, I lack social skills and I’m a little too much task-driven. For the VFX folks at 3D111 our mentor was a guy called Werner ten Hoeve. First class, he calls our names as we enter the door. Gotta admit, that makes you feel a little special, he’s not just trying to decipher the names on the fly, he actually took time to know all the faces and stick names to them. He shows us some of his work, explains how the classes are gonna go – “render your stuff to show me, I don’t wanna wait forever while you render and it’s your turn” – and rushes us back to the studio.
For Term 4 he got really close to some of us, chatted a lot, told stories about work, showed us unbelievable work, spent more time with some and less time with others. I was usually one of the fastest to get feedback, I never had much to chat about. I’m not too good at knowing which company worked on which movie, or who’s this or that compositor, so small talk didn’t go far. Eventually we got to talk about filmmaking in general, set experience and all the crazy stuff that happens in real world, and that got me into the conversation – mostly with Sean and Rityka. Then we started to talk about movies, and references – fucking Seth Rogen references, every class, man! – as I started to think that’s not the regular conversation students have with their mentors. At least that’s what I got from hearing the animators and modelers talking to their mentors. We joked. A lot. All the time.
That doesn’t mean Werner was a cool guy that would give an “ok, move to the next shot” easily. Hell no. He also wouldn’t spare hard comments when they were needed. He’s always been very direct about feedback and that got my respect right from the start. I’d rather have my work trashed than waste time working on something that isn’t going the right path. And we had that, several times, thank you very much. I had dealt with picky clients when freelancing back in Brazil, but never like this. The great difference this time was, whenever I worked on the fixes, the shot actually improved – sometimes drastically.
By the end of Term 4 I wasn’t too close yet. Term 5 was the moment when the magic happened for me. I mean, we could talk on facebook, what other mentor does that? I’ve always tried to avoid talking about work whenever we chatted, because facebook isn’t work, right? At some point I hit a wall with one of my tracks. I was three weeks in in Term 5 and still working on my first VFX shot (one which I thought would be simple) out of seven. The track just wouldn’t stick, no matter what. Then, one sunday I didn’t know what else to do to get the shot working and sent him a message out of desperation, shoving all the problems I was having onto his way. I can’t remember what he replied exactly, but based on that reply I changed my way of working. Not trying to get it all done at once. Small steps. Get one thing working, move on to the next, onto the next, and the next and so on until it was finished.
I got that shot done before Wednesday on that same week (we always had Werner’s classes on Wednesdays). Of course it wasn’t final yet, but the track worked and I learned that sometimes automatic stuff won’t help and you need to push through hundreds of keyframes, sometimes it’s easier – and you get to listen great music in the meanwhile. Later on I went back to that shot for some fixes he suggested that made it better (like the ship reveal on the sky).
After that one shot was done, I went berserk on the others, taking them out of the way as fast as I could, as good as it could. Once we had a first pass on everything – except the last shot, but that’s gonna be explained later – Term 5 was getting to its end. During the break I sent him another huge message, saying that I was feeling I could do more and sometimes would have nothing to work on while waiting for feedback. He replied that he was going to push us hard in Term 6. We took some extra time besides all the feedback and shots while he explained me how shotgun was supposed to be used, and we spent over a day setting my account more like a real world one – “do you see the Tasks area? well, put your tasks there. Upload shot versions, not just random things onto Media” and a lot more.
By that moment, I was willing to trust my life to this guy. Aaaaand then I got very fucked up and had to go back home in Brazil. It was week 4 and we just had our last official presentation before Graduation. All my shots were final but the last one. The last one had always been some kind of wishlist. A thing so elaborate that I actually thought I couldn’t pull it off. Thanks to being on that stage I was allowed to present my reel at my class’ graduation ceremony and come up on the stage with them. Werner was very supportive when I told him I had to go home. He came to school off his schedule so we could talk about what I was going through.
While I was home I had plenty of time to think. Process some of the crappy choices I made, think about what I wanted for my life, what I wanted regarding work, and that eventually led to another of those huge messages I sent him. This one was tricky because it wasn’t about anything specific, it was about work in general, all my insecurities and doubts, all my fears, everything I thought I couldn’t handle was there on display and, I have to say, he aced that conversation. By that time he was already a close friend.
I worked on some small stuff for my last shot while I was home, not much. I also spent some time on the WeatherCaster app, but in general I didn’t work hard. I would say “I played around in Nuke”. In the meantime he told me about his request to VFS that he could still be my mentor during this “Term 6 v02”, which meant I would be his only student. How incredible can this guy be? Seriously, not only I luck out to have him as my class mentor, I also get to be his only student for two full months.
When I got back we talked some more. More shit happened, but I was in a different state of mind. Really, I was VERY different when coming back to Vancouver this last time. After our first meeting at the studio, he insisted that we went out and ate something – you could remember I was a little slimmer – which was awesome and the healthy food surprised us by being tasty too.
Another thing I did differently now was I took my time with work. That meaning I went VERY, VERY slowly about things, simply because I had a faint idea of how to get them working but didn’t want to put it to the test and see it crash and burn, you know, like I said in this other post. I always ran my ideas through Werner, to see if I was going right about each shot and this time wasn’t different, even when I presented what I thought to be a series of crazy steps to get the shot working. He had this “I’m about to laugh” look while he agreed upon my strategy. You should remember he’s a funny dude. But he didn’t laugh, he said that “do it!”.
And then I went on, as brave as I could, tackling down tracking issues, growing the most confusing nuke tree in my entire reel, sorting out what should be comped first and what would come on top, slowly and always going back to Werner to be sure I wasn’t overcomplicating things (I do that a lot too). The last week rolled by and I was left with just a couple fixes on a shot I didn’t even think I was capable of doing. These were left for the end because… I had no idea of how to deal with them. Yesterday I was at the studio, in pain just with the thought of having to back into Maya to tweak renders and pray to the gods of mentalRay, and talking to Werner at the same time, saying I was about to go and adjust my geo to fix the issues I had left, when he mentored up and taught me some new tricks, which got things working without rerendering. Of course, he also pointed some larger issues which made me keep my computer running renders all night, but not the ones I was afraid of.
This morning, when I sit down at the studio I get a message from him “ready to finish this?”. Last adjustments were done and submitted around noon. By then I shot him a message and went home. I was taking the bike out for my daily seawall ride when I notice two missed calls from Werner and a message of “check Shotgun”. Hell, why check Shotgun if he just called me? So I call him back, expecting some smaller tweaks to be done, easily explained over the phone, but I’m wrong. He was calling to say the shot had been approved and I was officially done with the reel. SERIOUSLY, no one could ever ask for a better mentor than this. I couldn’t ask for a better friend, for I’ve learned from him so much more than what school was supposed to teach me, for I tried for whatever-many paragraphs explain what he means to me and I still couldn’t.
In short, if you skipped EVERYTHING ABOVE, I say that I wouldn’t have gotten where I am without my mentor and my reel wouldn’t be anything near what it is without his advice and support along the crazy ride these last 8 months were. Thank you, Werner ten Hoeve, you earned that first spot in my credits, my friend.
Hey everyone, Tito Ferradans here and we’re going a little mythbusters on this episode of Anamorphic Chop Shop.
So, I think EVERYONE who owns or owned a Panasonic has probably seen this video from Eyepatch Entertainment and spent hours on end trying to grab a +0.25 diopter and fix this piece of glass. Well, thanks to my friend Rob Bannister, my partner at Creative Camera Rentals, I was able to get my hands on a huge 77mm +0.25 B+W diopter and got the Panasonic LA7200 from Gearhouse Camera Rentals, again, here in Vancouver, which got me a nice deal on the lens again, so I could FINALLY test what’s being said in the video.
I don’t have a RED Scarlet at hand (getting the glass was already hard enough), but I’m going with my loyal 5D3 and the new-old Canon 50D. I’m shooting this before going to my tests and then later I’ll try to piece together what the shots tell us but I’m gonna take a few guesses at HOW and WHY the shots on Mark’s video look so good and sharp. First, the Scarlet shooting at 4k has a 1.6 crop factor, which leads us to a “smaller” sensor as the area being used. Same goes for the GH2, even a smaller sensor. Second, his taking lens is pretty wide, from 17-35mm and mostly at f/4. The Panny can perform good naturally at f/4 and such wide angles. I’m thinking the shots would look pretty much identical had he taken off the diopter between the lenses. I might be wrong, of course!
So what I’m gonna do is shoot a few tests with full frame, using the exact same setup with and without the diopter, not even moving the camera. I’m picking my Contax Zeiss for these and going with a 28mm and a 35mm so you can try to keep an eye on what changes. Then, some random shots of a hike I did with friends and Davie Street at night, shot with the 50D and using a Canon 17-40mm f/4L as taking lens. I’ll mix the shots with and without the diopter in the edit and see if you guys can identify them based on image quality. That should be the supreme test for performance increase, right?
Well, click here to go to the test video (each shot is numbered, to make guessing easier) and next week I’ll have them with all the specs listed, overall and specific comments and also an explanation if this trick actually works or not! It would be awesome if you left some comments on what you expect to happen, why you think so and guessing which clip was shot with/without the diopter!
Starting today I’m gonna try a lot of different things to exercise my creativity. The key elements here are this blog, where I’ll write at least one post every day, about random things, and my camera. Yesterday – one of the weirdest days ever since I came back to Vancouver – I went to Coquitlam in order to get some gear that allows me to carry my camera around in a practical and safe way, always at hand’s reach for photos. I’ve tested it this morning, biking along the seawall and it worked pretty well. The camera hangs from my waist, like a holster, without straps and, most importantly, not bouncing around like crazy when I move.
It feels weird posting mundane events in english, but that’s also something I wanna improve at. Feeling more comfortable communicating in any way, no matter the language. Now I’ll get back to my renders, while I think about something relevant to post.