Four Weeks of Boat-Building in Four Minutes
Back in 1989 I made a 10′ x 8′ self-portrait composed of 6400 tiny xerox copies of a portrait of Andy Warhol.
I used an early Macintosh II to help me map the location of each “pixel”. It was the only Macintosh II on the entire University of Oregon campus, and while considered very powerful at the time (it lived in a special studio that only a select number of art student had access to) it was incredibly slow. I spent a lot of time asking the computer to do something and then waiting waiting waiting for the computer to do it’s work.
Sometimes I’d go get a cup of coffee and a candy bar. Other times I’d draw or write in a blank book I carried with me (a long forgotten practice I should probably revive) and one of the things I’d sketch were dream work-shops. Back in 1989 the production of photographic artwork required a lot of specialized and expensive tools, and even then I was starting to explore fabrication, and fantasized about having a shop equipped with a various sorts of cameras and lights and grip gear, a steenbeck, wood-working equipment and who knows what other sort of paraphinalia. (Actually, I could tell you exactly what, if I wasn’t too lazy to get out of bed and go fetch one of my notebooks from the shelve in the livingroom.)
The video above was made with photos taken on a $95 digital point and shoot and on my iPhone. I put it all together on iMovie, which calls the pan and scan of the images the “Ken Burns” effect, but in fact, Ken Burns merely popularized this sort of still image treatment; he did not invent it.
In fact, when I first got to New York City in the mid-Nineties, I made good money doing this sort of work. Back then it required something called a rostrum camera, and I didn’t even know how to operate one.
In addition to the (expensive and large) machine itself, Rostrum camera work (usually) required two people: an operator who knew how to run the machine, and a producer who understood the requirements of the project. Working together in a dark room they would map out camera moves, a start point and an end point and time between at a minimum, review and refine in preview mode, and then commit to film or videotape.
The greatest cost was in the machine time, $200/hour or more in 1995; plus an operator, $40-$60/hour, plus me.
But around 1997 I bought an Media100 and a copy of the Adobe After Effects production bundle. Regular old After Effects cost about $500 and was protected by a serial number; the Production Bundle had a passle of more advance annimating features, and was protected with a dongle. (The same was true of my Media100; the board itself cost about $2500, but various dongles unlocked more powerful features. The collection of M100 dongles I owned cost about $35,000)
I was only interested in one feature of the After Effects Production bundle: the acceleration/deceleration controls for its 2-D animation. Without it 2-D animation on After Effects looked amateurish; with it the look of rostrum camera work could be duplicated, at a fraction of the cost. Being ahead of the curve on this (and a few other digital video things) is more or less how I was able to buy my house.
Over at The American Scene David Session has a post entitled You Don’t Get to Keep the Sexual Revolution and Give Back the Sex. I offered this comment:
I arrived at the court house about an hour before they opened their doors, and found a woman already waiting. She was about 80 years old and she told me she’d never received a ticket and had never been in traffic court before and could I tell her what to expect.
As we talked I found out that she was a doctor and also a professor of medicine, with some non-trivial medical discoveries to her credit.
[I] also found out that her husband was also a doctor, and in fact they had met and married in medical school, an this was notable, because at the time, women med student were unusual, and it was the medical school policy that if a woman student married, she would be expelled.
The rationale for this policy was that if a woman married, she (likely) soon become pregnant and have to drop out of her studies, so expelling women who married was simply opening up a spot to another student that much sooner.
I don’t recall the details of how she and her husband fought this policy, but obviously they were successful. I do recall her telling me that she graduated #1 in her class, and I believe she was telling the truth.
[T]he idea that the great copyright concern of our time is that The Mouse will be private property for another hundred years or that there are orphan works the public is clamoring for access to is farcical in the extreme, and Ms. Rosen and The Atlantic should be ashamed of further promulgating this poisonous and false meme.
The wholesale violation of copyright, done as cavilierly as people break speed limits has devastated a generation of independent professional creative voices, and left a world of corporate mega works and whatever amateurism can be sustained with a laptop and a blogger or YouTube account. This era will produce no Kevin Smiths or Werner Herzogs because just like you and everyone else Smiths and Herzogs need to eat.
The video offered above was assembled using Apples iMovie, a startlingly powerful video editing package that come free with the purchase of any Macintosh. The rostrum camera Ken Burns Effect work I did took about 30 minutes. It’s not as precisely crafted as what I would have done 20 years ago, but its good enough, costs orders of magnitude less, and I did it on a laptop, sitting in my bed on Sunday morning. When it came time to compile and upload the movie to YouTube, I had bacon and pancakes with my family.