Category: Production Videos and Talk


A Brief Hiatus

Hey All,

I’ve decided that I want to create a real website for you all under my own domain, with a blog, tutorials and resources all surrounding underground and experimental animation and cinema.

So In the mean time I’m putting this blog into a hiatus for the next few months while I raise the money and know-how  to create a better and more interesting place for people to look, discuss and learn.

A big thankyou to all the people who have been interested in my work and what I do.

I’ll have the new website up within the next 6 months and i’ll post it up here when it’s ready. I’ll see you all then.

Good luck with all your creative endeavours.

-Permian

 

The book everyone recommends when getting into VJing is(appropriately named)… ‘The VJ book‘ from Paul Spinard.

It’s packed full of interview of people working around live video performance and light. Some of which really resonate with how i’m feeling about the whole scene, and some i completely disagree with.

I was at the train station yesterday and I read the interview with Henry Warwick and it really hit with how i am feeling at the moment about the art-form.

So here’re a few sections of the interview.

———————————————————

Paul Spinard: You’ve emphasized the importance of narrative in all forms of performance, because storytelling…

Henry Warwick: That’s the essence!

PS: Yes, that’s how the brain works.

HW: The reason I came up with Performance Cinema is that the term “VJ” is tied into the DJ aesthetic of pastiche – gluing things together that are not normally related. The DJ’s purpose is to keep a party going, and you don’t need a narrative to have a really good dance party.

Most VJs reinforce this lack of flow in terms of ideas. They just throw stuff together, and there doesn’t have to be any brain behind it. Like, they’ll take swishy-looking images, then mic in some home movies of somebody’s pets, combine it with George W. Bush, throw in some traffic images and clips from Koyannisqatsi, and that’s it – They’re done. It’s easy to do, and it might look cool for about ten minutes, but it’s not telling me anything. I mean, it’s kind of “political” because of the Koyannisqatsi and Bush images, but it’s not a studied idea, you’re not really getting the point across. There’s no narrative.

There doesn’t always have to be a specific point, but there might be some kind of resonant logic behind what you’re looking at. Otherwise it’s like, well, I’ve seen this a thousand times.

______________________________________________________

PS: But in a place where dancing is the main focus, won’t the music always be more important?

HW: Bingo. That’s why VJ is doomed, so long as it’s carried by the dance scene. To evolve, the form needs to break away and expand into other forms of performance cinema.

It’s not going to be easy. First of all, there’s the whole economic issue. The club VJ currently has industrial backing from DJ equipment manufacturers, but performance cinema does not. Another thing is, you have to get people into a space where they’re willing to pay attention to something long enough to get involved with it. It’s hard to do, especially for a form that’s unfamiliar to most people. There’s an important political issue here as well: the right to assembly. This right has no meaning when people don’t get together, when everybody is atomized into their suburban bunkers.

Another issue is more technical: performers need the ability to control the audio. They don’t currently have this because most of the live video mixing tools are designed for the DJ/VJ scenario., which divorces the VJ form the sound. None of the major VJ software applications I know of give you significant control over audio production. Sometimes they take audio in, but only for triggering or eye candy “visualizations” that are dictated by the music. From the other end, almost all software for mixing audio clips can’t handle video very well, if at all – certainly not in the sense that a VJ, or live cinema artists requires.

Tool-providers are giving the tool users what they want, and right now a number of users just want to make goofy shit that flies around on the screen at a party. So we’re limited until performance cinema can rear it’s ugly head and tell developers that we’d like to control both video and audio in a comprehensive, coordinated and synchronized way. I’ve been in touch with many of the major developers who are in the middle of this. They are all doing amazing work, but it seems to me that they spend a lot of time optimizing their software for live video processing, not live audio/video arrangement and direction.

————————————————————–

I’ve been feeling pretty disillusioned with the whole VJ beat in the last few weeks. So i’m not sure how far i’m going to go with it. I’ll definitely be experimenting with live cinema work in the future, but will i be playing at clubs and parties? Probably not.

It’s not even that i don’t find it enjoyable. Playing and mixing video to people partying and having a good time IS fun. But it’s all about what I want to accomplish in the limited time I have. I can’t help but feel that when i’m fucking around and mashing up bits of video, that i could be learning and working on something more meaningful to me and my future projects.

And so ends my rant for the week.

all the best to you pixel pushers out there

 

_permian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hey dudes,

I stumbled across these videos through another project CDM(a great site for VJs updated frequently) had on Eclectic Method from the UK.

These tutorials from Eclectic Method are really great for learning how to remix video that is linked to the overall beat or music, something that i haven’t really experimented with so far but now wish to.

 

_perm.

Last night I went down to Horse Bazaar and did an hour set on the visuals. This was the first time I VJ’d in public. I wouldn’t call it a ‘gig’, more of a practice for the real thing, but i learnt more in that 1 hour than 10 hours practicing at home.

Here are some of the things i picked up which might interest any of you out there into live video performance.

1. Don’t expect anyone to give a shit about your work or what you are doing. Most people at bars and pubs(even art bars) are there to drink with their friends, try to get laid etc. and will not give a shit about the visuals. A small percentage might be interested, but these people will be in the vast minority if not at all, and often they are artists and visualists themselves. Normal people will not often share your passion for the moving image, but this is good.

You must always ask the question ‘who are you making this for?’  when creating something whether performance based or not. It’s a tricky question to answer. Obviously you’re doing for yourself and creating what you want to see, however you are also creating it for an audience. But who is YOUR audience? For me it’s definitely not the normal people, but the visualists, artists, creators and fanatics. If your art is for ‘normal’ people, then prepare for much disappointment.

 

2.If you are VJing in a bar or club, your visuals will be second to the music, unless you are creating both as a full piece. This is because it is still the standard for most bars, pubs and clubs to have a DJ but not often a VJ. VJing is a relatively new art form and has only been democratized by cheap technology fairly recently, whereas music being performed has been around for centuries. So VJing has moved into an ambiance role to support the music but not eclipse it. There are plenty of ‘superstar’ DJs but no ‘superstar’ VJs, this is really good. It seperates the wheat from the chaff, the posers who do it to get laid and get status from the dudes who do it for the love of the art form.

 

3. Repetition is important. Because VJing plays primarily an ambiance role, people will not be paying constant attention to the visuals, but may glance over now and again. Therefore repeating clips in varying loops is important and it also adds to the music beat. In saying that though, be cautious as to how much you repeat. Repetition is good but too much repetition is baaad. Leaving a clip looping for a few minutes straight is pretty lazy VJing, and your set will be boring. Remember you are there performing live so you can adapt to the mood/music, be creative and show interesting work. If you’re going to be lazy and loop one clip for ages they might as well put on a dvd.

 

4. Pay attention to the light levels in the room and don’t use too many whites. A couple of times last night i used clips that washed out the room, the clips that did this had a lot of white in them. This is probably bad technique depending on where you’re VJing.  Remember you’re there to create an ambiance, to make the space interesting or otherworldly for the people experiencing it. Washing out a room and making people squint will snap them out of this and break the feeling you’re weaving. I’m not sure if the same goes for large clubs as I haven’t VJ’d in one yet, but i get the feeling it might be.

 

5. If your video clips are too dark, you will not be able to see much detail on the screen. There is probably a bar or other lights around the room you are working in. Also the color on the projectors might be fucked depending on how good their system is. It’s not like a dark cinema where even dark shots are highly visible. So keep your blacks crunched but think about upping the contrast or light levels in the clip, more so than you would if you were making a video to be viewed in a normal space.

 

6. Want some color in your black and white clips to make them a little more palatable? Don’t put effects on them. Instead create separate animated clips with solid bars, blocks or shapes of different colors and black moving about. Then loop these color animations in another channel, and add it to your black and white clip at low opacity. So the black and white clip will be at 100% opacity and maybe the color animation will be at 20% opacity. It looks way better than some dodgy preset or effect, and it adds another layer of movement to your image.

 

7. If you’re creating a CGI clip to use VJing, render out the same clip in different passes so you can play about with. For example, i’m animating a ball rotating in space. Render out one pass with say, a red texture; a pass with a blue texture, a wireframe pass and another pass with the ball glowing. So then i would have 4 different clips of essentially the same thing but they all look different. Now when you’re VJing you can mix these different looks together on different channels. Your clip will be more versatile, more complex and it will be more interesting.

 

8. Always have more clips than you think you’ll need. When you’re actually performing you will have to adapt and change quicker than you will expect. SO keep plenty of clips handy, even if you never end up using half of them.

That’s all I’ve got right now for you all. I’m just beginning this VJ odyssey myself, so I’ll keep you updated with fresh techniques and tips as I learn them.

 

_PERM

I’m getting close to finishing the CG part of this project. I still need to put in the 2d lever elements the man will interact with, and i’m not sure about the framing of the hemisphere. I also need to place some dirt down the bottom where the character sits. Then it’s all lighting and animating.

The low poly mushrooms allowed me to practice my hypernurbs. I use heaps of loft, arch and lathe nurbs to make 2d splines(2 dimensional line shapes etc.) into 3d objects, however i don’t use many hypernurbs which help turn blocky animations into smoother models with more polygons, as i’ve always found them difficult to manipulate.

I’m also pretty proud of this chain. Although it’s easy to do, i learned about clone objects and a bit more about modynamics. Modynamics is this really sweet feature in C4D that allows 3D objects to interact with each other, and it can add physics etc. It’s pretty difficult compared to modelling but there are some things that are impossible to animate by keyframing, modynamics is really useful in this regard.

 

Although i’m taking my time with this scene, the reality is that i need to make things look better in C4D, and also be way faster. If i’m ever going to finish a feature animation by myself i’ll need to be very quick, otherwise it will take 5 years instead of the 3 i’m aiming for. It’s really tricky because I want it to look better, yet wish to be quicker at doing it. I guess practice on top of practice is the only way i’m going to get there. *punches brick wall*

 

Anyway, enough of this CG talk that most of you would find boring. It certainly doesn’t help that there’s this whole 3D lingo, FOR EACH SPECIFIC SOFTWARE PACKAGE! That’s probably why CG artists hang out in wild street gangs with other artists using the same package. They’ll totally fuck you up with their polygonal style BIATCH! :p

The next stage is stop-mo dirt and compositing 😀

-PERM

 

So i’ve finally gotten around to creating the Horse Bazaar Panorama i’ve talked about doing. It pretty much involves a man pulling levers in a spherical space. All around this space there will be stop-motion dirt orbiting. When i went out collecting different hues and textures of dirt yesterday i was getting some pretty weird looks. I guess if i was playing with my kid in the sandpit at a park and some disheveled dude comes in and starts collecting sand in containers; i’d be pretty wtf’d out too haha.

The project has started out pretty promising, however the levers will be the biggest gamble. The sphere the man is in will be CG but the man is hand drawn and rigged in After Effects. So the levers might be better off being drawn in because i’m not too sure about the paper interacting with 3d. The other option i might take is to create the levers in Cinema 4D but render them out to flat .tiffs and animate them in 2D space directly from After Effects.

Here’s the character. I’m not sure if i’ll end up making his head float or not. I’ve left him completely white, so he will be coloured more by the lights i’ll put in in compositing.

Here’s the early stages of the man’s sphere. Still need more modelling, texturing, lighting but you can start to see what it’ll look like.

I’m also thinking of creating a tutorial on how it’s done for you peeps out there. I’ll finish it, then spend a day back tracking and i’ll teach you guys one way to rig 2.5d puppets in AE, and some compositing 101. If there’s anything you’d people out there would like to see in the tutorial, flick me a comment or email.

I’d better get back to modelling over 9000 pipes.

-perm

No More Excuses!

I won’t lie. I have been slack last year. Although i’ve created and done more in 2010 than in all the years before that; i still haven’t come close to pushing myself hard enough. For every hour i worked at my art, i spent at least an hour playing. Why was i being so slack? Many reasons.

1. I was judging myself by those around me. At my video, animation and art classes, the vast majority of my fellow students are really quite lazy, and i think you’ll find this throughout a lot of the arts in academia. There are a lot of hangers on, wannabe critics who are to lazy or scared to practice what they rip on, and people making excuses for themselves. Although it wasn’t fully conscious, as long as my work and the effort i was putting into it was up there with the 15-10% of people who actually had REAL passion for it, i was happy. This is a big mistake, especially at this point in my life as a creator. I don’t want to compete with lazy people in this city or even in this country, i want to compete with the masters GLOBALLY! Some people take the act of creating as a hobby and that’s ok, but i’m not one of those people. For me the act of creating art, film, music is everything. I’m sure psychologists would have something to say to me about that being an issue but fuck them, the people whose work i admire didn’t get to where they are by ‘chilling out’ and having a great social life. Also, when i admire someone who’s work really influences me, i don’t just want to meet them and shake their hand or whatever, i want to fight them. This may sound weird but hear me out. Although I would consider a director such as ‘M Dot Strange’ for example, an inspiration, a mentor and even a friend; i also consider him my enemy. I want to battle him through our artworks on the world stage. Even though i respect him and his work, he’s one of my targets to beat. It’s a battle with no winners.

2. FEAR. What can i say, fear does get to me sometimes. Fear that i’ll never get anywhere with what i’m doing. Fear that my ideas will never be great. And most of all, the fear that can to get me the most is the simple fear that the piece of work i’m about to start on, will turn out crap. When this happens and you only have the deadline you set yourself, you start to procrastinate and put off working on it; which is totally illogical when you think about it but it’s how your brain reacts. However when you do actually start to work on the project the fear recedes and ideas, energy and creativity start to pour from you. So the lesson here(although it’s easier to say than do, is even if  you feel fear at the start of a project or gig; ignore it and begin as fast as you can.

3. The nagging feeling that i should be out partying and having a great social life. It’s really a case of ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’.  When i’m out partying, drinking and taking drugs or whatever, i get bored and start to feel i’m wasting my time and want to get back to work. After you’ve done it enough you start to realize every bar, party and event is the same, and full of the same types of people. Don’t get me wrong, i like hanging out with my friends but most of the time i’d rather be working on a story or doing some art etc. I fully realized this last friday when i went with a friend to a chiptune event and we got talking about this kind of thing. He is also passionate about his art like me, but when i asked him if he had that nagging sensation, he said he didn’t which really made me think about it. My case probably isn’t helped by things such as facebook, where i read about a bunch of people going out and doing AWESOMEXXXCORE things. Over the years when i became one of those people, i started to realise that it’s all bullshit, . Facebook will always exaggerate peoples lives, almost to the point where being someone and being the perception of someone through facebook become distinctly different.

I’ve decided to choose the path of a creator, and it’s a life i absolutely love. There are many sacrifices that must be made though, and a healthy social life is one of them. I know now that i’m ready to do this.

So it’s a new year and i’m a new(ish) man. I’m getting up at 9am every morning and start work no matter how late i’m up the night before. I get an hour in the morning for shower, food, feed cats and to wake up. An hour at lunch and dinner for meals and breaks. An the rest is work all day every day until 11pm, when i can chill out and watch some interesting movies, anime etc. and probably fall asleep from exhaustion.

Although i will not really be able to keep to this EVERY day as i have to go to classes, gather food, go for a run and pump some weights occasionally; but i will try to adhere to it as much as possible.

RAGE ON!

-PERM

This week I’ve been up to a few interesting things. Besides getting my studio into workable condition, i’ve been doing test renders and preview renders for the cg/drawn collab i’m doing with Monkeh. I’ve got to get all the scenes rendered with correct lighting, camera placements and movement so monkeh knows how the light will fall and he can get started on the frame by frame drawn character animations.

I’ve started to really experiment with lighting as it’s the beating heart of moving image. Every filmmaker should without a doubt study light in detail because it really makes or breaks a shot. As an animator using computer graphics it is extremely important to study how light works and the effect it has on human perception as CG light doesn’t quite function as light in real life. CG lights are just computer equations not burning filaments, phosphorescent matter or the sun, and GI lighting is for pussies who want the computer to light the scene for them.  As i’m lighting large scenes i’m using up to 40 lights. Some of which have dust running through them, caustics(visible light beams) and ambient illumination which is slowing down render times to a snails pace.

The latest shot i just rendered was 375 frames, or about 13 seconds and it took 68 hours to render! I’ve also put the anti-aliasing to 4×4 because any lower really makes the shots look dodge.

(rendering the last few frames after a crash mid render. as you can see 10 frames has taken 1hr30min to render D:)

(part of the scene unrendered.)

 

RENDER RIG:

My RIG system has a 1gig graphics card, 4 core 2.7ghz intel cpu, and 4 gigs of ram which is really not enough. I used to have 4 sticks of 2gig ram which was way faster but so instable i had to pull out 2 sticks.

The next money i come into i’m upgrading  to a new i7 cpu, new mobo, and more ram which will speed things up dramatically. However i’m too pov at the moment to afford much besides rent and food so it might take a little while :S. I’ve also got to look into learning how to set up a render farm if i’m going to follow this CGI down the rabbit hole much further(which i will). I haven’t even gotten into thinking particles, hair or character animation yet which will really push my system to it’s limits.

 

If anyone has any advice on tech shiz or setting up a render farm, send me a message.

Time to go practice for my 1st ever VJ set next Thursday. 😀

__PERM

I’ve been out of contact the last 2 weeks as i’ve been moving to a new apartment with a new studio and i’ve just gotten the internet online. WOO!

Here are some pics.

Still got a way to go as you can see, and a lot more dumpster looting to find good wood and other things i need for the animation stage/ workbenches i need to set up.

The studio is only a 10min train ride with only 3 stops  to the inner city of Melbourne. Which will be useful as I’ve gotten PERMission from the owners to jam some video and animation once a week at Horse Bazaar.  AWRIGHT!  And check out the view from the kitchen window.

 

I’m leaving for Sydney in the morning for a few days over Christmas, but i’ll be going batshit insane with work when i get back so there’ll be plenty of new things to show you all soon. ><

Hope you all have a swell Christmas.

 

-PERM

I generally don’t like talk about my depression etc. as half of the first world is eating up meds like no tomorrow so it’s nothing new and generally not particularly intersting to anyone else. No-one wants to hear emo rants. However if you came here to read about my art, animation or film this is part of it so read on.

This week has been interesting to say the least. I’m just coming off the anti-deppression meds i’ve been on for 3.5 years and i think i’ve just gotten over the withdrawal hump. It’s been hard to work as i’ve been sitting in a chair drooling on myself and trying to get myself to raise my arms to the keyboard. I’m feeling very odd to say the least but i’m feeling GOOD and the brain fog is finally starting to clear.

Why was i on meds i hear you ask? Well for a combination of reasons. Genetic disposition to the black dog being a main one i suspect. Also back in my teen years I used to live in a small town in the country. All in all my life should have been great but i felt like shit. I felt trapped and i wasn’t dealing with it very well. I guess it’s where my art began. As you probably know, creating things gives meaning to my life. Some peeps have got religion(which i’ve never cared much for), some peeps like my brother have gardening and growing plants; i’ve got animation, creating worlds and stories.

The meds were pretty good to begin with, I felt (kind of) better, got on with my life, partied, drank, finished high school and worked a job so i could afford to go to art school. But now i’m here i have found the medication holding me back in several areas.

The first being that my interests started to become more bland. I used to watch hundreds and hundreds of hours of insanely interesting footage, exploring content and researching new things to watch, read, listen to and look at. I’d say that was because my feelings and emotions were being held back a fair bit. You know that feeling you get in a dark room by yourself, watching a new great cult film you’ve dug out of some crevice on the net, from the bottom of your guts you are on fire because the film is making you FEEL? Well this stopped happening very often. You need to FEEL to create great work. And now my technical skills are improving I have to improve in other areas also. In 20 years from now I want some kid sitting in a dark room watching my stuff have his guts burn with passion and feeling.

I found social interaction, talking to girls and normal people a lot easier on meds. Actually a lot of things are easier on meds, but it’ll only postpone the shit that’s going on deep down in your mind. And you’ll have to deal with it sooner or later. If problems rise to the surface i’ll deal with it through art and perhaps some intense belly gazing. So it will be interesting to see how my animations and art evolve over the next year, if there will be massive positive or negative changes or if it won’t change drastically at all.

 

Anyway enough of the rant. I’ll have the newest animation for you TOMORROW i promise, even if i have to work allll night.

 

-PERM

 

ps. here’s some QOTSA woo desert stoner metal!