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Anamorphic Day-to-Day

How I Almost Missed NAB Show 2019

February 26, 2020

I started writing this shortly after we came back from NAB last year. The gears got stuck and I just managed to push them back in motion now as we approach NAB 2020.

At some point in late February I realized I had a shot at going to NAB this year. It was something I wanted for at least a few years – plus Las Vegas isn’t that far from Vancouver. I had stopped making videos for the channel in September and I left Facebook by Christmas. I felt I was done with all of this anamorphic and youtube stuff, so going to NAB was a sort of farewell.

I had a good flow of work and my contract ended the week prior to the event so I asked Ari if she wanted to come (it’s a gear thing, I thought she could be bored). She was excited for Vegas. We got tickets. It was too late to get a good price on a hotel but we got an airbnb. The NAB website said from April 6-11, but that’s too much time to feed G.A.S. so I thought of staying the weekend to check out the showroom and be done.

The plan was to arrive early on the week to explore the city and surrounding areas for a couple days, then NAB on the weekend, then back home early on the following Monday to start working on new things. If you’re a seasoned NAB visitor, my mistake might be apparent already. So we go, we explore, we drive, we eat – oh, the food!

Saturday comes around and we head to the convention center to get our NAB passes and drool over gear. We get there and the showroom is still being put together, only contractors coming in and out. We go to the information booth in the lobby and that’s when we learn that the showroom only opens on Monday at 9am – two hours after we’re scheduled to board our plane. I feel somehow I should’ve known that schedule from the start although the website wasn’t at all clear about it.

I’m devastated. “This-was-all-for-nothing” style. “What-a-waste-of-money-and-time” style. In a mix of anger, disappointment and sadness I storm out of the lobby and Ari catches up. By the time I sit down outside I’m set on trying to enjoy the two days we have left and miss out on what I came to see. It’s a crappy plan and it doesn’t really make me happy, but it definitely cuts my losses.

We take a car back to the airbnb. I’m done with the day and Ari is telling me this is all too stupid. I’m not taking it too well. We talk some more, call the airlines. Changing the flight is more expensive than getting a new one. My best shot at getting a refund for missing the flight is getting my airport fees and taxes back. I file for that anyway. It comes to $15.

Ariana says we’re not leaving without seeing the showroom. She says I can argue and fight all I want but she’s getting us new tickets home for late Tuesday instead of Monday morning. If I wanna go back by myself, I can, but she’s gonna see the showroom. That makes me recover a bit and I start looking for a place we can stay.

I start seeing past my anger and self-doubt from the misunderstanding by the time we book a room at Circus Circus – the creepiest and most bizarre place I’ve ever paid to sleep at. It’s gonna be good and it’s gonna be fun. We have the weekend to enjoy the city so we find some comedy, a little knife-throwing, and more delicious food – now with NAB discounts. It’s not like Vegas has little to offer.

Monday rolls around and we hit the showroom. It’s a lot of fun. Ari is a compositor and there’s a lot of post-production tech that she’s interested in. In the first day I just wander around in awe. We stop at Boris FX’s booth for a Mocha demo and sign up for some random prize raffle. I talk to a bunch of people, ask questions to brand representatives, hang out at the Atlas booth with Forrest Schultz, some folks recognize me from the channel – Tom Antos and Raafi Rivero right at the start, and more through the day. I stuff my backpack with free samples and gifts. I don’t have a goal and I feel pretty accomplished by now.

The last thing I do is to attend Adobe’s talk on “Editing for Youtube: Keeping Pace with Rapid Change” because, well, I relate to all of the words in that sentence: I use Premiere and After Effects for work. The guys from Corridor Digital were at the talk and I’ve been a fan for a while, so I went for it.

I sat there and watched. Ariana joined me halfway and by the time the panel was over she bolted from her seat to the front of the stage (if you watch the video, on the very last seconds she’s the girl in yellow that comes from the bottom right of frame).

Before I catch up to her she’s taking photos of the panelists at the request of the mediator. I just hover over there waiting for her to be done so we can head out. That’s when Sam Gorski, from Corridor Digital, points very directly at me and says “man, I love your channel”. My mind goes “Haha, me? this guy here? Tito? Nah, he must be thinking of someone else, I don’t even look like in the videos for a while”. So I react in the most natural way I can: I point at myself and mouth back “Me?” with a mildly concerned face. To that he goes “Yeah, man, you, with the anamorphic stuff”. I’m pretty sure there’s no one there with an “anamorphic stuff” channel, so it can only be me.

I come closer, we chat for a bit, talk about anamorfaking and how cheap and effective it is, especially for VFX and post-production – this conversation was a huge encouragement to the Anamorfake It guide. Sam emphasizes a bunch of things about my videos that I thought no one cared or that held me back in the sense of generating income. The showroom is closing so we wrap up the chat. At this point I’m shifting my perspective about the channel and how much of its impact is unknown to me. I also have it very clear that Ari is a big catalyst for the things I want to do but I’m afraid to take the shot and I’m very thankful to be with her.

The second day is much shorter than the first since we have to finally catch our flight mid-afternoon. On the bus from the hotel to the showroom the guy sitting next to me recognizes me and we chat about his experiments with shooting scope and anamorfaking.

At this point I have already decided that I’m not letting the channel die just yet and that my work has value and importance. The conversations all point to what I set out to do from the channel’s start: to provide information that allows anyone wanting to experiment with the anamorphic look to do so without breaking the bank. I don’t know yet what I’ll do to start making videos again, or what to cover in them, but I know that on this second day I’m making connections.

While on the lobby outside the showroom I study the floor map to mark the booths I wanna hit to try and create connections that could benefit the anamorphic chat (Cooke, Scorpio, P+S Technik, TLS, LumaFusion, FiLMiC Pro, some more Atlas, etc). In the middle of that we get an email from Boris FX. Remember we signed up for some random raffle prizes? It turns out Ariana won a full pass for 2020’s NAB Show.

The second day is much less overwhelming than the first, we see a bunch more demos. I talk to a lot more people than I did in the first day and we head out around noon for the airport. By the time we leave the ground we already know we’re coming back for 2020. This time I’ll be there for my birthday!

This experience was key for resurrecting the channel and changing my take on it. I don’t have expectations of it making up all my income – as I expected before -, I just find it important to put the content out there and hope that it helps someone in need of it. I’m also set on putting out different options for people that want to support my work through the sales of merchandise, guides, mods and whatever else I can come up with. I helped you and you wanna help me back? Buy something! :)

I started to write this post the day after we got home (April 10, 2019), but I never finish it because I’m worried about stupid things. First I don’t wanna sound like I’m tooting my own horn for the Corridor Digital part, although I am super proud of it. Second, I find it hard to reveal my mistakes online for anyone to see. I messed up with the schedule and that was not the image I wanted to cast.

It took me a while to realize that not revealing where I go wrong makes for a too-perfect-life and that’s one of the biggest problems with the internet right now. I don’t wanna add to it. I make mistakes. I mess up almost as much as I get things right, sometimes more. Plus mistakes make good stories and that’s something definitely worth sharing.

Anamorphic Day-to-Day

Trust.

July 21, 2019

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always had internet friends. Not some random person across town who I’d meet once in a while. My friends were people I had never met in real life. Interacting only through written form and trust.

When I moved to São Paulo in 2008 I had friends there before I boarded the plane. Now I’m gone, and so are they, living in Mexico. The same happened with Vancouver: some of the people I work with today were good acquaintances more than a year before I moved in.

I have intense trust issues in real life. Just like anyone else, I’ve been disappointed, tricked and felt helpless in the company of people I believed I could trust. So I changed. I don’t like to tackle challenges I couldn’t tackle by myself because if everyone else bails on me, I’ll still be able to get to the end of it.

This perception has always been different for me online. Maybe I just don’t feel as vulnerable as in real life, with anonymity walls and physical space between all involved parties. That’s where my friendships thrive. That got a huge boost because of the youtube channel. Suddenly people from all over were talking to me. With some of them I was able to strike meaningful and long conversations, going past the professional interaction.

That’s how I spent a month in Japan last year. That’s how I spent a month in Europe this year, went across five different countries and spent time meeting in person lots of folks I only knew through the internet.

It involved work, planning and going with the flow. As I come back home, I got a handful of white hairs from trying to figure out accommodations, juggling the money I had, understanding foreign languages, train schedules, bus schedules, plane schedules and, most importantly, people’s schedules.

With a tinge of pride, I say: all of this while being off Facebook. Ha! When I first thought of this trip I had imagined the social network would’ve been the hub for all planning and scheduling. Yet, I quit it in December and I held my ground, resorting to many other contact forms to reach people.

I come back home with a different mindset when it comes to trusting people and a very positive experience in Europe.

Keep being awesome, internet!

Day-to-Day

What if who I hoped to be…

February 1, 2019

A lot happened in my life last year and some things really started to change during the second semester.

It had been a year since I came out of school – hopefully for the last time in a while – and I had been working consistently. Maybe too consistently, too intensely, being paid too little and taking on too much. I was too “out there”, not being true to my feelings and ideals, dead set on the things I was told were important. And money.

I noticed a cycle. Having too much gear yet never the right gear, having too many projects yet never the right projects. I decided to try, on life, what I had been doing for my work: pull focus.

To pull focus onto something is to ignore the rest; dissolve it in a blur, pleasing in the background and never able to draw attention from what’s important.

We’re always in pursuit of the shiny and new things, pretending to be someone we don’t fit inside the skin, shouting to the void our accomplishments and expecting recognition from the crowd.

More likes, more shares, more views, more subscribers. For what? I had no answer.

I decided I was gonna be ok with less money. Less visibility. I decided to quit social media. I decided to cut back on the YouTube videos. I decided to sell a lot of gear and buy nothing to replace it. I started to pick the people I wanted to work with, and the reasons each project was important, passing the non-important ones.

I made a film of my own with the most amazing team. I suddenly had time to study and write on my own, I had time to spend with my friends without being in a work setting, I bought a new bike and I go at it as if anytime I could take off into the sky. I had a jolt of a realization about Ariana’s importance in my life and all the things I could learn from her.

Then, on the flight back home after New Year with Ari’s family, “Stupid Deep” clicked. The lyrics summarized my thoughts and feelings. I scribbled a bunch of animation notes and ideas on my little notebook. Some of my best thoughts come while up in the air.

During the next few weeks I dusted off my After Effects animation skills (of which I’m quite proud, one of the things I taught myself) that hadn’t been used in years and started animating one verse at a time.

That’s how I want to end this post, with these lyrics. If you got this far, listen to them, think about their meaning, simplify. Life feels better when focused.

“What if who I hoped to be… was always me?”

Anamorphic Day-to-Day

Enough!

December 26, 2018

Hi, my name is Tito Ferradans, and today I’m here to say I’m done.

I don’t mean to sound rude, but I am really done. I thank all of you who engaged with me in this journey of teaching and learning, it’s been a blast, but it’s time for me to move on.

If you don’t want to bother with the rest of this post but still want to ask me questions: fill the form and make a donation. I still have answers, but they aren’t for free. I already put enough knowledge out there for free.

I’ve been talking about anamorphics for a while. The channel is almost four years old, the Portuguese version of Anamorphic on a Budget is six years old and the English translation is five. When I started this there were no SLR Magic anamorphics, there were no single focus solutions, there was only the EOSHD forum and a lot of hunting for information. When I became an admin of the Anamorphic Shooters facebook group it had little over a thousand members.

Look at where we are now. Atlas lenses are out there for a fraction of the price of other cine anamorphics, most adapters tripled or even quadrupled in price on eBay, anything can be turned single focus, the facebook group has more than ten thousand people in it and my channel is about to reach ten thousand subscribers. I get dozens of messages asking about lenses every month and I reply to all of them. Lately I’ve been encouraging people to make financial contributions, but I never held back information in exchange for payment.

I’m a strong believer that education is key for building a better world and sharing knowledge definitely fits in that category. On the other hand – I mentioned this before – making a living out of this has always been a hell of a challenge. For the previous three years, I wasn’t allowed to work in Canada – permits and such – so I took this project as my way to make ends meet.

The situation changed in October of 2017 when I finally became a Permanent Resident. This allowed me to work full time without worrying about being kicked out of the country. I didn’t go to film school three times to work on anything other than film, so that’s what I did. That’s what I’ve been doing. One could say I’m familiar with a camera.

If you’re into film, this is no surprise: film eats away all of your time. You’re either coming up with your own projects or toiling away, 12+ hours a day, on someone else’s film. I think I mentioned this before, shooting tests for the channel got me feeling stuck in a loop. It was like I was filming the same thing over and over again. It got to a point where I know what to expect from a scope by just looking at it. There was no surprise, no excitement. No more “wow”.

On that feeling I managed to add a few more mods to the facebook group and organize the wrapping process for the channel, Patreon and so on. You’ll be seeing a lot less of me in the near future. I’m quitting facebook altogether and switching gears on my career plans. I’m gonna put to use everything I learned making these videos and focus on shooting anamorphic projects – but not so much on teaching all there is to know about these lenses.

There’s also a “tiredness” factor. It’s four years of answering the same questions. “How wide can you go?”, “Which lens should I buy?”, “What lens works with my setup?”, “What is a good price for this lens?”. And I answered them all. All the times they came up. For free. But not anymore. If you’re a part of the Anamorphic Shooters group, you might’ve noticed my answers have been a bit harsher. I’m tired of all the gear-obsessing, camera-buying, pixel-peeping and hand-holding-while-I-break-it-to-you.

I don’t think I’m in a place of contributing to the community as positively as I used to. I want to talk about complicated things that beginners won’t understand – and not always have the ultimate answer. I want friends from whom I can learn new tricks. Not one-message strangers but friends I talk about things other than gear. I’m tired of feeling like the dad of the anamorphic community.

I’m Tito Ferradans and I won’t be back next week. See you around, and thanks for hanging out. It was a blast. Let’s make something awesome. I’ll still be writing and making occasional videos (there’s a few left pending I’d love to finish), so I’m not 100% gone, but simply saying “I want to shoot anamorphic on a budget” doesn’t summon me anymore. Thank you.

Day-to-Day

VIFF 2018

October 6, 2018

Since I moved from Brazil to Vancouver in 2014 Vancouver International Film Festival has been my most anticipated event every year. I always attend and watch all sorts of films. I work in film, so watching stories from places other than Hollywood, in languages other than English, on the theatres with lots of people is something I treasure immensely.

Two days ago I went to watch “Baikonur, Earth” with Ariana. It’s a film about a little town in Kazakhstan from where all Russian spaceships and satellites are launched. It’s a visual documentary so I didn’t see much of a “story” to it. Ariana didn’t like the film and I enjoyed lots of it – I like pretty visuals. Andrea Sorini, the director of the film was among the audience, so there was a little Q&A. Things got really interesting when one of the questions was something like:

“I’m from there, Baikonur. I grew up in that place and I came here tonight to relive a little bit of it. I was hoping you’d make me cry, but… You didn’t. You chose a very cold approach to the place and its culture. Having lived there, I can tell it’s one of the few places in the world I feel we, humans, exist as a species, as a civilization. People are happy and they celebrate lots of things, but your film doesn’t show that. What you chose to show is actually very different from the place actually is”.

An academic debate did not follow. The director focused that he was showing his perspective of the place and reinforcing that they had been there for only fifteen days to shoot the film and they didn’t quite have time to check out other things than the ones they were specifically looking for.

After we left the theatre, Ari and I argued for the longest time about which side was right: the filmmaker with a vision, trying to convey a feeling with images and sounds, or the guy who lived there most of his life. I went down the path that any film, by choosing to show something, automatically chooses to NOT show something else. There is no film that covers all perspectives. Not even the news do that these days.

The next day we went to watch “Amateurs” (Amatörer).

//SPOILERS AHEAD.

“Amateurs” is a Swedish film about the small town of Lafors which is candidate to receive a big foreign investment. In order to secure they’re going to be picked, they decide to make a film showcasing what makes Lafors special. They have no budget though, so they go to the local school and encourage the students to make films showing why their town is great and deserving of the big investment.

Obviously the student films don’t cut it as what the city council is expecting, so they bring in an experienced filmmaker to make the video. The movie is then intercut between the pro – and the city council – making the showcase of what they value in Lafors, and these two students that won’t give up on making their own film about the town.

As this has to tie with the beginning of this post somehow, at the end of “Amateurs” we get to the same discussion we witnessed the previous day. One of the films looks great, everyone enjoys, is short and pretty, and it shows an idealized version of the city. The other one is five hours long, but it shows everyone’s perspectives. It succeeds, to some extent, but most of the audience gives up and leaves before the end.

One member of the city council is the only person – besides the girls – that stays in the theatre until the end, and he is very touched by their work.

//SPOILERS END.

Throughout the film there are discussions about being foreign, discrimination, class differences, what is the truth, and how much of cinema is far removed from reality, as well as how boring and bland reality is. “Amateurs” also addresses the frequent question of “who are we trying to reach with this film?”, whenever we’re making something new. All of these themes are a big deal for me.

“Amateurs” made me cry hard at the end and it provided me food for thought for months to come – much of it because I had watched “Baikonur, Earth” the night before and engaged in a giant argument about it.

Films influence how I see the world. They offer me different perspectives and make me change how I make my own films. One day I’ll get one of mine up there and I can only hope to inspire others the way they inspire me.

I love that I have the chance to experience this every year thanks to VIFF

Day-to-Day

Fake it until…

July 27, 2018

When I was a kid I suddenly wanted to go to school wearing a red cape. “People don’t go to school wearing a cape, Tito…” I didn’t care.

Getting a haircut was always a stressful process (I still haven’t figured out why), so when I was ten I decided I would let my hair grow – and for the next two years I didn’t get it cut. On multiple occasions I was mistaken for a girl. Then I got tired of the long hair but I didn’t wanna lose it all, so I left a little wisp at the back of my head at full length and cut the rest of it short. That was a call for jokes from all sides. I still didn’t care.

My mom constantly complained about how under-dressed I was, or how old my clothes were/looked. This was a recurring comment until I moved out. I never really took it as criticism, but as an observation.

All these examples involve engagement from my parents and I’m grateful they didn’t force me into anything – even the things they didn’t agree, like dressing nicely. Thank you! This intro is running a bit long, so let’s get to the point. There is a common thread between all these stories and the title of this post.

I have a serious issue with keeping up appearances, or, the way it’s popular among artists, “Fake it until you make it”. This implies that to get anywhere you have to play pretend, dress a certain way, avoid this or that subject, go to all the parties (“the parties are where all the business happens, man!”), always be ready to speak about how great you are and how your art is gonna change the world. Writing this already got me wound up.

All these “suggestions” and “guidelines” of “how to succeed” (notice the great number of irony quotation marks here) make me laugh and think “how the heck did I end up in this art thing?”, then I remember it was because I care about my work and not my looks. I grew up hearing “if you love what you do, work will come your way” from my parents and, honestly, that is one of the truest things in life. Not “if you pretend to care, people will care”.

Summarize a party for me, would you kindly? “Loud music, small space, lots of people, alcohol”. Does that sound like a recipe to success for you? If yes, I’m betting you’re an extrovert. This is the second part of why I hate so much faking. I’m an introvert – and I know I’m not the only one in this industry. If the gold standard of success is the number of people you know, I’m failing hard. The less extra noise I have in life, the better I feel. So I’m not about getting someone’s card, saying “I love your work” even though I have no clue what their work is, and “I’ll be in touch!”. I’m happy with five good friends. I like getting to know people. I like long talks about deep subjects. I like working with someone before I commit to them. These things don’t happen at parties. Plus I don’t drink, so after half an hour of being immersed in a sea of “look at me! look AT ME! LOOK AT ME!!!!!!” I’m ready to go to bed.

I feel as a group we’re too concerned with form and very little into function. It’s easy to prove that point just by bringing up a graph for explosions vs box office for Michael Bay’s movies. Before you ask: yes, more explosions equal higher profits. We live in a time in which one explosion isn’t enough to solve a problem. It’s all about being brighter and louder. I don’t see that as healthy and I will not play by these rules. That comes as big challenge but I’m used to not having things easy, so I know I’ll be ok.

What bothers me the most is these things are taught in school. I took this class twice – once at VFS, then again at Langara – so I know it wasn’t a one-off weird aspect of a specific program. Guess what happens when you try to tell a bunch of people to fake their feelings and act like something else? It’ll stick for a little bit, then it wears off with the wonderful “what am I doing with my life?”, quickly leading into a career change. Out of both my VFS and Langara classes, I’m pushing it if I say half of them are still into making films. Why do you think that happens? We also have a lot of depressed people. Does it sound random?

Lastly, an analogy with 2008’s economic crisis. In short, people bought and sold their stocks based on assumed value and claims that everything is perfect. But they lied and the whole world got screwed. So let’s assume we’re making this film and I’m faking that everything is going well on my department. When the other heads of department see that I’m doing fine, they don’t want to cause trouble so they say everything is great on their end too, and this keeps on going. The film is going flawless. Then one big problem lands front and center. Everyone is so full of problems they refuse to admit that no one can tackle that extra problem. “It’s not my department”, “So and so said they had this under control”, or the classic “We’re waiting for the funds to come through”. That causes everything to crumble to pieces and the project is put on hold forever.

It’s not healthy and it’s hard to break through. I’m happier with my small victories than doing things I don’t agree with in the hopes of being picked up to fame and fortune. I couldn’t care less about fame.

Day-to-Day

WARM.

July 17, 2018

There’s a thing of beauty about sunny and hot days. Back home – in Brazil – those used to be my default, but in Vancouver temperatures only rise above 25°C a handful of times through the year (usually packed in a few weeks in July).

We’re on the third in a row of these days today. I spent all three of them wandering outside. Not “doing things outside”, just moving from place to place either on foot or biking. After every couple of hours I’d settle on a patch of grass, or a beach, or a park bench and simply exist there.

That’s usually a challenging task for me. My mind is constantly racing with the things I need to get done, or bubbling up with new ideas, questions and reflections. In these sunny days it all quiets down and, just like my cat, all I need is to move somewhere without a roof over my head and lay there.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but my mood is directly related to how sunny each day is. There’s not much that could be better today.