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Creative Boot Camp for Your Summer Brain [a public service announcement]

creativeLIVE chase jarvis summer sale

This is a public service announcement that I think is valuable… I’m banking you know I’m co-founder over at creativeLIVE – where we’ve delivered more than 15 million viewer hours of creative education worldwide. (If you’re new, here’s stories about it in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, TechCrunch, AllThingsD, etc and stay tuned for my MSNBC segment coming in 2 weeks…)

This is a short-notice opportunity to take advantage of these long summer days –> Just got off the horn a short bit ago with the biz ops team over at cL and talked them into making creativeLIVE’s entire catalog of workshops discounted now through July 31 — some up to 50% off. That’s photo & video classes from your favs (joeyl, zack, vince, jasmine, sue, sal, tamara, etc etc), business classes for creatives, design, software training on all those damn creative apps the you love but drive you crazy, and lots of other goodness.

Investing in yourself is the best investment you can make.

Here’s a link to some of my fav courses of the sale (and click the big blue button over there to shop the entire catalog – all of which is discounted for the next 48 hours).

And the same deal goes for your friends. If you believe in what we’ve created at creativeLIVE — trying to make the world a more creative place — I would be humbly grateful if you shared the good word. Namaste (or whatever is better to say at the end of a post like this and happy summer camping for your creative brain).

The Artist as Athlete as Artist –> Travis Rice on Creativity + Art Galleries + Taking Risks

chase jarvis travis rice

Yours truly and Travis Rice getting motley at the...um...airport

The name Travis Rice has for some time been synonymous with the best snowboarder in the world. Literally, of that caliber. Which for those more inclined to the details, that means insane big mountain snowboarding and epic snowboarding films and photoshoots all over the world (watch him on #cjLIVE here). While “artist” may not be a descriptor that comes to mind when one thinks of Travis, I beg to differ. Individual sports like snow / skate / surf are are incredibly creative BUT ALSO…in case there was any doubt… Travis’ latest endeavor takes the artist part of this whole message to another level. You see, Trav recently kicked off an art gallery representing / showing artists, photographers, painters, etc, who focus on these sports…called Asymbol. There’s a physical gallery (in Jackson Hole, WY) + an amazing (affordable) online gallery here (but more on that later). Since I’m someone who came up photographically through the action sports genre myself, it’s clear to me that what Travis is doing is connecting the dots – tearing down walls, really – between athlete and artist. This approach is near and dear to me, not just because of my respect for his vision, but because in my early career I really thought I had to EITHER be and athlete or an artist – and it wasn’t until discovering the punk rock ethic of the early action sports scene that I realized I could be keep my jock-y roots and go deep into art – that I didn’t need to fit into stereotypes, I could be my own. Travis is amplifying that ethos with Asymbol. Now, given my schedule and T’s schedule, connecting in person to chat about this new project was no easy feat, but we managed to wrangle some time over a beer and a shot of whiskey at…an airport bar recently (really – so you’d better read this whole damn interview) to ask him a few questions that will interest you, my dear reader.

1) Alrighty man, tell us about your new(ish) endeavor Asymbol. What is the name all about too?

Asymbol is a gallery + art brand I started with Mike Parillo a few years ago. It’s about honoring and connecting with the art of board riding culture – from snowboarding to surfing to skateboarding. There are incredible working artists who’ve emerged from this creative culture and are in the process of transcending it. We felt there wasn’t a gallery that was really focused on it, so we made one.

The name Asymbol has sort of a double meaning. On the one hand, it refers to the symbolic nature of art and what it stands for in terms of pushing cultural boundaries and challenging our beliefs. On the other hand, it also refers to the act of assembly, in the sense of building community, making products and bringing people and ideas together for a common purpose.

Asymbol Owl, by Hydro74 aka Joshua M. Smith

2) How is this different than creative pursuits of the past for you? You’ve made movies, done contests, been a part of companies…how is Asymbol different?

Asymbol is different in that it’s really about creating a community of people around the art and the artists we’re working with. Making a film (like the Art of Flight) or putting on contest like Ultra Natural are super intense projects, but at the end of the day, they’re still projects. Asymbol doesn’t really have a definitive end – it just keeps evolving as the art and the community evolve.

It’s also different in that we’re focused more on artistic curation than raw artistic creation – that’s the job of the artists we work with. As I see it, our job is to find ways to build support for our artists and their art so that they can keep on doing what they love.

3) What do you hope to bring to the world with this new company?

I’d be happy if people spent some time on the Asymbol website exploring who these artists are and what messages and meaning they’re trying to convey through their art. What I love is that each piece tells a unique story — about the artist and what they were thinking and doing at the time they created the work. It might be a painting by Scott Lenhardt or a photo by Danny Zapalac that look nothing like each other, but the common elements are the stories that relate back to the culture of board riding.

One of the things we’re trying to do is make art more accessible. So much of our audience is younger and doesn’t necessarily think of themselves as fine art buyers, so we’re focused on innovating unique applications of our art on things like screenprinted canvas, t-shirts, laptop skins, water bottles and cases for mobile devices. These things still allow people to connect with the art very directly, but also serve a practical purpose. Plus, they just look rad. [my note --> feel free to buy some fresh stuff here.]

Craig Kelly Mural, by Scott Lenhardt

4) How do you run a business like Asymbol AND be a pro snowboarder? When do you sleep?

Sleep? What’s sleep? In truth, Asymbol is run by a small and dedicated team back home in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I stay connected to them when I’m traveling, but my schedule gets pretty insane. It’s hard to have a conference call from the back seat of an A Star helicopter, but we’ve done it.

5) Who’s this rockstar Alex Hillinger?

Alex came into Asymbol last fall as my partner in the business. Mike and I met Alex through the art and tech conference he puts on every year called the GOAT, so his connection to Asymbol was a natural one. We really wanted to take Asymbol to the next level and we needed someone who understood what we were all about. Alex is crazy about snowboarding and art and his background in online business is really important if we’re going to grow Asymbol to where we all believe it can go. [another note from me --> for those who don't know, Alex has been a personal + professional advisor to me for years...helping make cjINC, #cjLIVE and even creativeLIVE work...hats off to him.)

6) What makes "Art" in your opinion?

That's a good question and I'm sure everyone has a different opinion about what makes art. For me, it's about being willing to put yourself out there and take risks. It's easy to sit back and say 'it's all been done before.' Artists don't let that stop them, they create ways to express their points of view that require them to get outside their comfort zones. Making art is risky and forces us to confront our fears of failure and of being misunderstood. I have a lot of respect for artists who don't play it safe. It may not always work, but it's really the only way to get to a place where it does.

7) What parallels do you see in art and sport? People always assume that one has to be jock or artist - is that true?

It seems to me that a lot of athletes gravitate to art as a means of self expression. Being an athlete involves taking risks -- especially if you're dropping into a spine for the first time, or riding a giant wave somewhere in the Indian Ocean. There's no reason there has to be a barrier between being a jock or an artist, and maybe that's one of the things we're saying with Asymbol. So many of our artists are also incredible athletes like Jamie Lynn or Adam Haynes. Parillo took gold this year at my luge course event, which was huge! The competition was fierce.

Red, by Chris Burkhart

8) Who are your influences as an athlete? Who are your influences as an artist?

There are so many — guys like Guch and Johan Olofsson and Craig Kelly who really pioneered big mountain freeriding. Terje and Jamie Lynn are still charging it today with style.

For artists, I’m way into the work of Andrew Schoultz, Carl E. Smith, Todd Glaser and of course, Mike Parillo who I’ve been collaborating with on graphics for years.

9) How is it running an art gallery in Jackson Hole, WY? Would it be better if you were in NYC or SF or something? Why or why not?

Jackson’s a big art town, it’s just mostly Western art of things like bronzed eagle sculptures and cowboys on horseback. I think it makes a lot of sense for Asymbol to be based in Jackson though. This place attracts people seeking to push the boundaries of athleticism and adventure that’s hard to do in a city. There’s an aspect of Asymbol that’s about freedom and openness that being in Jackson embodies in a lot of ways. It’s also nice for me in that Jackson is my home, so when I’m back from traveling, I can really focus on it without the distractions of a place like NYC or SF.

Thanks Travis. You are radical. Follow Travis across these channels:

Asymbol Website
Facebook
Twitter

Super Camera — Arri Alexa is the Pro’s Best Friend [plus how I shot the Samsung video ]

You may recall a few weeks back I released a video of the behind-the-scenes action for a cool gig I was asked to create for Samsung around their Series 9 Color Premium monitors. It was a dream job in a lot of ways. For one, I got to literally photograph a re-creation of my dreams; for two, on jobs like that I get the opportunity to rub elbows with the best crew —cinematographers, editors, filmers, sound technicians, art directors, stylists, producers and beyond — PLUS the best gear too.

When I laid out the earlier blog post detailing everything about my Samsung shoot I took a question from a guy named “Ben” off the ol’ innernets:

“Great cinematic look in your Samsung behind-the-scenes vid, Chase. What camera did you shoot it with?”

So I thought I would take this opportunity to a)highlight our primary cine camera on this shoot– the Arri Alexa; b)introduce my fav DP, Chris Bell, who shot that camera on my Samsung job (and a lot of my other stuff); and c) refresh that Samsung video in case you missed it the first go round.

So in reverse order, here’s the Samsung vid shot primarily with the Arri Alexa (below). And then – in addition to our video review (above) I asked him to share some more knowledge & opinion and he breaks it down quite nicely… all of which you’ll find after the Samsung vid here. Thanks Chris!

First of all, Chris, thanks for slaying it for me on the Samsung gig. Second, thanks for the quick interview – really appreciate the time discussing the Arri Alexa. When did you first pick up the Arri Alexa and what were you using previously that it replaced?

The Alexa replaced a lot of cameras. My background is as a film shooter (16-35 mm). And we had various cameras to get a particular look. Panasonic had various cameras. The HBX200. There were cameras like the Canon 5D and even the Red One. I had a shop full of cameras and each was there to satisfy a specific client’s need. Alexa came along and, in a way, became the swiss army knife of cameras. It replaced a lot of those cameras. Everyone [clients] wanted the big chip look. Everyone wanted the shallow depth of field look. For one reason or another the cameras that I mentioned could not satisfy all parts of the workflow in a consistent way. Red was a raw camera – which is nice, but it needs tons of post production attention. That’s a challenge. And no one wanted to shoot tape anymore.

arri alexa chase jarvis blogThe Alexa came along and answered a lot of producers, editors and cinematographers desires – all at the same time. It does a great job emulating film…and film is still state of the art in many ways. It is still the benchmark that cinematographers use to compare against. The Alexa was really the first to mimic the dyanamic range of film. It appeals to so many because it has a look clients love – that filmic “look”.

Prior to the Alexa someone in the workflow — the cinematographer, the editor or the producer, had to compromise on something. These other cameras, while amazing in some way, had very limtited range. They had lots of compression issues and color source issues. They had very challenging workflow issues. Then the Alexa comes along and all of a sudden – the cinematographer is happy, the producer and editor are happy. That it shoots files that are ready to edit right out of the camera –and require no conversion–makes workflow a snap.

arri alexa chase jarvis blog 2And it’s super simple in lots of other ways too…It has great time coding for instance. These are little things. But on big productions – on the big budget work that demands reliability, it is the little things that add up for the professional. And ultimately, this camera can be relied upon. It’s been used on major Hollywood productions like Skyfall and Life of Pi. It’s increasingly found on the set for TV commercials worldwide. It’s being used for wildlife docs. For me, I work on a lot of different types of productions – from commercials to sport, to big brands like Microsoft and Samsung–and beyond, and it always does me right. In short, I think that Arri has done a magnificent job listening to its users when developing the product.

What is your favorite piece of completed work (–ahem besides our Samsung video–) using the Alexa, that you could show off with?
Here are two:
12th Ave Iron Film:
National TV Spot for Acer

What’s the best thing about the Alexa from a usage standpoint?
The best thing is that its a camera that makes a beautiful image without compromise – for anyone involved with the workflow. It’s a swiss army knife that works on any type job. ESPN shooters are buying Alexa. The networks love it because the files are immediately edit-ready. It’s SO easy to use. And it has become a standard. I figured I’d get a three year usage (digital has a short shelf life), but I’ll get at least five years out of this camera. Arri has these very long product cycles. That’s very important. It means I can go on a shoot and no matter who’s shooting – we are all shooting the same quality image. This is super important from the business standpoint. We need to have time to recoup investment – b/c its not a cheap camera [$90,000]. My criticism of digital is that it all turns over too fast. It’s getting silly. Every six months there is a new “must have” camera.

arri alexa chase jarvis blog 3How does the average joe get to play with one of these bad boys? Or do they…
The average Joe could go to the Arri website – there is a simulator. They update it every time there is a software update. You can learn the menu system online. If you want to see it in person – call local rental houses and ask if there is a good time to come in and look at the camera and play with it. They might be up for that to get a new customer. Some rental houses have workshops too. You could go to the trade shows. There are lots of ways to do it without dropping the $90,000 cold turkey. Most rental houses are open to educating people.

What’s coming next in this class of camera in your opinion? How can it get even better?

Moore’s law is always in effect. Digital imaging tech is moving very quickly – there is going to be a day where there is a base camera with ISO 5000 and it will shoot 5000fps and it will cost $5000. On your very high end – everyone is going to continue to attempt to emulate the benchmark: motion film. Dynamic range, how they handle highlights, lights and dark and how accurately they are able to reproduce color space. These are the Model T’s of digital cameras. There is a big revolution coming with color and contrast. We’re getting away from a lot of the compromise. Heavy compression, limited colorspace, limited dynamic range. Manufacturers are hearing it and producing new cameras. But I really wish they would slow down a bit and not reinvent the wheel every nine months. Having a standard is important too. It’s rather dizzying.

Thanks Chris! More details on the Arri Alexa here via the Arri Group.

Let’s Have Dinner & Talk About Death [Kickstarter of the Week]

I didn’t talk about it much, but over the past month I lost two close family members in 48 hours. My grandmother passed away on Mother’s Day and my wife Kate’s grandmother passed away 2 days later. Neither was expected. As you might imagine, it was a crushing week (and following month) for our family. And now not a day goes by that I don’t think about them. More importantly, I’ve had a real chance to reflect on their lives — for which I wouldn’t change a thing — AND their deaths…for which I would change a lot.

In the USA in particular — but in many of the countries I’m familiar with — we don’t do well with death. We don’t talk about it enough, we don’t like to think about it and, consequently, as a culture we don’t do well with arguably the most important part of our lives…the final chapter. Did you know that 75% of people say that they would prefer to die at home, but only 25% end up doing so? Did you know that end of life expense is the number one reason for bankruptcy in the US? This is not dignity. This is terrible.

And that is the point of this kickstarter campaign by my dear friend Michael Hebb. We’ve done loads of collaborations together, like SongsForEatingAndDrinking, where we’ve hosted the likes of Macklemore and Pearl Jam guys and many others. I know the power of conversation around a meal – and have experienced the power of action rising up from the table. If anyone can start the movement to talk about death that will change our current approach, it’s Hebb. Michael, plus the University of Washington’s Masters of Communication Learning program, an interactive firm CIVILIZATION, Engage with Grace and some of the nation’s leading health and wellness organizations are working to fully launch their www.deathoverdinner.org, a project which will hope to jumpstart the national dialogue on how we End our Lives.

I encourage you all to join me in supporting it here. Much thanks and love.

How to Make Money Selling Drugs — A Public Service Announcement


Just a personal note to YOU from my homie, actor Adrian Grenier [Entourage]… He is stoked to announce the LA, NY, Seattle, Portland & Atlanta theatrical opening for his latest documentary film How to Make Money Selling Drugs. I have seen the movie – it’s fantastic. An interesting twisted approach to awareness around the causes and effects of the whole drug war enchilada…

If you’ve ever wondered about the failed, resource-sucking drug war (or you thought we were “doing the right thing”), do yourself a favor buy a ticket for this weekend’s theatrical opening here in the USA. Or, if you’re not in one of these locations (or not in the USA), it’s available for streaming/download on iTunes HERE.

From the IFC: “Subversive and satirical, this documentary offers a fresh take on a serious subject. Through investigative reporting and surprising interviews with subjects ranging from Susan Sarandon to Eminem and Russell Simmons, it illustrates step-by-step how to create a drug empire, from dealing on the corner to running a major cartel. Laying bare the inequities in the legal system and the ways that criminalization breeds violence, the film builds a powerful case for radically rethinking drug policy.” This fresh look explores the rise of actual drug dealers and exposes a $400 billion dollar industry that our government [and many governments worldwide] is happy to keep intact.

For detailed theater and show time info, go HERE.

Thanks for spreading the word for Adrian and yours truly. Any word of mouth/posts/social is greatly appreciated. Together we can shed some light on a dark corner of the world.

[You might remember Adrian's guest appearance on cjLIVE last April. Some great insight into the entertainment industry and what it means to be a creative in Hollywood. Well worth the [re]watch —> HERE]

TAKE BACK YOUR LIFE. Building a Creative Career + Life with Renowned Author Chris Guillebeau on #cjLIVE [REWATCH]]

Are you ready to have that lightbulb moment? Yes? Then stop reading and hit PLAY on the vid above.

My guest in last week’s cjLIVE was none other than the globe trotting, “self employed for life” hacker Chris Guillebeau. In addition to being all those things plus the founder of the World Domination Summit (most amazing name ever for a creative conference…) he is a best-selling author of The $100 Startup as well as The Art of Non-Comformity. This show lit up the internet with responses to Chris’s explanation of the ACTUAL TACTICS that he has employed to help him achieve amazing success. Watch the above to hear:

_Why “Follow your passion,” sounds great – but that anything worth doing takes sacrifices.
_How to evaluate your life and quit your day job – and still feed your family.
_How Chris figured out how to travel to 193 countries by age 35. He is the first ever to accomplish this. [a few dignitaries have done it, but nobody of Chris' ripe age has ever pulled it off].
_This is all closer than you really think possible – once you get over the things that scare you

Over the years, through his remarkable books and friendship, Chris has given me an insane amount of clarity and some hefty doses of inspiration. Take your life back.

In addition to traveling and writing, Chris founded and organizes the World Domination Summit, an annual gathering of creatives held in Portland Oregon that runs the gamut from intellectual meet-ups and keynote speakers to hammock races and bollywood dancing. Sorry, ALL 3000 TICKETS are completely sold out, but that what happens when there are enough people who share your passions. (Note: I’m honored to be one of the keynote speakers for 2013.)

Here is Chris at last year’s WDS introducing a panel to discuss The $100 Startup and their own microbusinesses.

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Special thanks to our sponsors who help make this show possible – please follow them and let them know you appreciate the free content. #Respect.

Help us welcome new sponsor Borrowlenses.com to chasejarvisLIVE and follow them on twitter @borrowlenses.
HP: @hpprint
liveBooks: @liveBooks (p.s. they are also offering special starter package deal for a photo website, exclusive for chasejarvisLIVE fans here.

60 Second Portrait – Ishmael Butler

Shabazz Palaces front-man Ishmael Butler was gracious enough to pose for this 60 Second Portrait back when he was on set for the cjLIVE episode with Ian Ruhter. Ishmael was one of the subjects of our massive tintype portraits along with Chris Ballew. Enjoy!

The Internet is Made of Cats — Here’s Proof That Cats Drive Creativity

An older Picasso with his furry companion.

As any regular Redditor knows, the internet is made of cats. They’ve been with us since the days of the Egyptians – although nowadays they have their own reality shows. What is it with these damn cats? As the collection of images below indicates, cats have played the role of creative muses in the lives of some pretty famous creatives, including Dali, Picasso and Warhol. [Warhol, it should be noted, once owned 25 cats, all of which he named Sam.]

Might the kitty companion be a key to unlocking the creative mind? I’ll posit that any loyal pet provides, at a minimum, a set of ears to bounce ideas off of and a second set of eyes to look upon your work-in-progress. Sure, feedback may be at a minimum, but at least you’ll be spared harsh criticism. [worth noting - there is a growing body of scientific evidence which shows that hanging out with a contented, purring cat can actually lower a human's high blood pressure, decrease stress, increase self-confidence and reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. So there you go.]

Have a quick gander at some photos of famous creatives with their cats. Share your dorky cat stories if you’re so inspired . You may or may not be judged (but I will confess that Chris G and I swapped cat stories and photos last night at dinner, so you’ll be ok in my nerdy book….

[thanks, Flavorwire]

Dali with his ocelot, Babou. From Wikipedia.


Photographer Margaret Bourke-White and her Reddit-worthy kitten. Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt.


Writer Jean Cocteau with his cat, Karoun. Photo by Jane Brown.


Illustrator Saul Steinberg shows his cat how to stretch out. Photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson.


Georgia O'Keeffe poses with her pet Siamese cat. Photo by John Candelario.


Andy Warhol with his cat, Sam.


Photographer Edward Weston at his home, nicknamed "Wildcat Hill." Photo by Imogen Cunningham.


Artist Ai Weiwei with his cat Lai Lai. Photo by Ai Weiwei.

TAKE BACK YOUR LIFE. Building a Creative Career + Life with Renowned Author Chris Guillebeau on #cjLIVE [TODAY - Wednesday, May 22 11am PDT/2pm EDT]

20130522 cjLIVE Chris Guillebeau Home Page Graphic

Update: We are TODAY with renowned author, world traveler and all-around inspiration Chris Guillebeau. My dinner with Chris last night was electrifying and foreshadowed today’s show which promises to deliver the goods on how Chris has accomplished more in his 35 years than most do in a lifetime. Head over to the live page to tune in.

Prepare to have that lightbulb moment for yourself while watching the next episode of chasejarvisLIVE on Wednesday, May 22 becuase my guest is the globe trotting, “self employed for life” hacker Chris Guillebeau. In addition to being all those things plus the founder of the World Domination Summit (most amazing name ever for a creative conference…) he is a best-selling author of The $100 Startup as well as The Art of Non-Comformity. And if all that ain’t enough – just this past April he accomplished a goal that no one in the history of time has done… visit every country in the world by age 35. [a few dignitaries have done it, but nobody of Chris' ripe age has ever pulled it off]. For a decade Chris has been championing a lifestyle that beautifully aligned with my approach. It goes something like this:

_Stop living the life others expect you to – and start living your own
_Create a life where your time is spent doing things you want to do (it sounds harder than it is, doesn’t take a lot of money, and you already have the skills you need)
_Live a remarkable life in a conventional world
_This is all closer than you really think possible – once you get over the things that scare you

If any of this stuff resonates, then I’d better see you on Wednesday. Over the years, through his remarkable books and friendship, Chris has given me an insane amount of clarity and some hefty doses of inspiration. Take your life back.

Details:

WHO: You, Me, Practicing Non-Conformist Chris Guillebeau
WHAT: Interview, discussion + a worldwide Q&A
WHEN: Wednesday, May 22, 11:00am Seattle time (2:00pm NYC time & 19:00 London time)
WHERE: Tune into www.chasejarvis.com/live. It’s free. We’ll be taking your questions LIVE via Twitter —> hashtag #cjLIVE

In addition to traveling and writing, Chris founded and organizes the World Domination Summit, an annual gathering of creatives held in Portland Oregon that runs the gamut from intellectual meet-ups and keynote speakers to hammock races and bollywood dancing. Sorry, ALL 3000 TICKETS are completely sold out, but that what happens when there are enough people who share your passions. (Note: I’m honored to be one of the keynote speakers for 2013.) Oh wait, what’s that?? Read the note below – we’re giving away a ticket $500 to one lucky soul to join Chris and I at the the WDS !! And what the hell…I’ll throw in free airfare to Portland too. DETAILS BELOW!

BONUS: This always goes fast. The first 30 people to email production@chasejarvis.com will be eligible to part of our in-studio audience (you +1 guest) at my seattle studio. You’ll get to watch the show in person, meet Chris and some other lovelies and probably drink some mediocre champagne with us. You will receive an email confirmation if you’re one of the first 20.

HELP US PROMOTE THE SHOW AND WIN STUFF.

This is BIG my friends… – For a chance to win a ticket to Chris’ World Domination Summit – the 100% sold out summit I mentioned earlier. I’ll see the winner there with Chris. We’ll all high five. To win, send out a creative tweet promoting the show with #cjLIVE + @chrisguillebeau + the short link to this page http://bit.ly/18NM7cF included..

DURING THE SHOW we’ll be giving away signed copies of Chris Guillebeau’s books The $100 Startup and The Art of Non-Conformity. Tune in to find out more.

Contest Rules here.

Here is Chris at last year’s WDS introducing a panel to discuss The $100 Startup and their own microbusinesses.

______
Special thanks to our sponsors who help make this show possible – please follow them and let them know you appreciate the free content. #Respect.

Help us welcome new sponsor Borrowlenses.com to chasejarvisLIVE and follow them on twitter @borrowlenses.
HP: @hpprint
liveBooks: @liveBooks (p.s. they are also offering special starter package deal for a photo website, exclusive for chasejarvisLIVE fans here.

Kickstarter of the Week – The Glamour & The Squalor

Before the Internet made sourcing new music and rising bands a simple matter of keystrokes, bookmarks and RSS feeds, there was the radio DJ. Those with an insatiable thirst for the fresh and undiscovered relied on the savvy DJ with the right connections to feed us a steady diet of the up and coming, the unsigned, the ones-to-keep-an-eye-on.

For the unsigned and undiscovered, it was said DJ who provided the air time, created the buzz and could ultimately set the stage for stardom. Or at least greater notoriety.

One DJ who epitomized this role was Seattle’s Marco Collins, a local legend whose work on 107.7 The End helped propel the careers of notables like Weezer, Beck, Deathcab for Cutie and The Prodigy. And that’s just using the fingers on one hand. As Chris Ballew of Presidents of the United States of America puts it: “He was the on/off switch for your potential career.”

Such is the story behind Marco’s rise (he’s in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a DJ) and fall (battles with addiction) that Seattle-based director/producer Mark Evans & his team have set out to create a documentary on the man, which they’re calling The Glamour & The Squalor. They’ve interviewed 32 people for the film but need a little help rounding out the interviews and editing down the footage and archival material.

Marco’s story deserves to be told. He turned his passion for new music into a career and he battled some seriously determined demons along the way. And he’s still standing.

Check out the Kickstarter video for The Glamour & The Squalor above. If you are keen to help see this project through to the end, donate here.

Marco Collins, still hard at work. With Allen Stone. Photo by Michael Profitt Photography.

Size Matters: How to Build a HUGE Panoramic Photo, From Capture to Final Image [272 Gigapixel !!]

Earlier in the week I shared my gear list for the hike up Kilimanjaro with Summit on the Summit. While on the mountain I snapped off a slew of panoramas and sent them to my buddy Mark, who does digital retouching with his company PARADOX VISUAL. I wanted him to build a BIIIIIG panorama that could be auctioned off for Summit on the Summit. And when I’m talking big, I’m talking 4 feet tall and 20 feet long. (see them in context of the gallery at the end of this post). Big, right? I’ve asked Mark to give us a little insight into the methods he used for creating that panorama, which you see in digital form above. I’d say he did a bang-up job. Take it away, Mark.

Thanks, Chase. First things first. I want to thank Chase and his crew that I worked with on building these panoramas — Kate, Megan, and Norton. It was a privilege working with you and a privilege to be a part of Summit on the Summit’s campaign for water conservation and awareness.

Now on to the technical business.

The advent of digital photography has not only created easy access to photography like never before, it also has opened up creative and technical possibilities in image making that were once unimaginable. Creating large panoramas with theoretically limitless resolution is just one of those new frontiers. Photographers are pushing the processing limits of computer hardware with interactive panoramas well past the gigapixel range. The largest I found is a 272 gigapixel panorama of Shanghai, China. Pretty huge.

I’ll be talking about something a little easier to attain for those of us working on Mac Pros and iMacs (and even Windows machines I guess) — panoramas composited from far fewer frames than that needed to get a 272 gigapixel panorama.

SOME BASIC TIPS TO SHOOT FOR PANORAMAS
To get the best results it is recommended to use a tripod. Ideally you would also shoot using a tripod head that allows the camera to rotate around the nodal point to avoid issues with parallax. Unless you plan on shooting a large amount of panoramas, these tripods may not be an investment you want to spring for now (unless you wanted to rent one). Luckily there is plenty of software out there to save our bacon, let us shoot handheld and still get great results.

Of course there are a few tips to help while shooting handheld:

_The wider the lens you shoot with, the harder it is for software to overcome distortion. It’s preferable to shoot with a 28mm over a 14mm or make multiple rows with a 50mm over that 28mm to cover the same area. And the bonus is you get even more resolution in the end.
_Shooting more frames with the camera in the vertical position reduces the apparent distortion.
_Most recommendations are to have at least 15% overlap between frames. I tend toward 33% to give software as much real estate to work with.
_Keep the camera level through all the exposures.
_Shoot in manual exposure mode to lock in the same exposure settings through all the frames and to have the same depth field through all the frames.
_Shoot in manual focus mode to keep the same focal distance through all the frames.

There are many sites on the Internet with plenty of additional tips and tricks. Have a look around and you’ll have no problem bumping into one. This article will focus on the stitching process involved in producing the gargantuan panoramas Chase Jarvis shot on Mt. Kilimanjaro with Summit on the Summit. We did five panoramas but I will focus on the one panorama that needed the most work.

THE MT. KILIMANJARO PANORAMAS
Chase shot several panoramas on a Nikon D4 and a 24-70mm f/2.8 Nikkor lens. We ended up building five to be auctioned to benefit Summit on the Summit. The frames were shot vertically and there were 5-8 frames per panorama. Up until now I have used Adobe’s Photomerge that is part of Photoshop to stitch panoramas together. Before I saw the panoramas, all I knew was that Chase wanted them printed large. Really large. They were to be 44 inches tall, which meant some of them would be nearly 14 feet wide. I thought this would be a good opportunity to purchase a piece of software I’d been admiring for awhile. PTGui is one standalone panorama stitching application that caught my eye. I had researched many of the stitching software applications available and I chose PTGui based on many good reviews, a personal recommendation from a photographer that had been using it for awhile and the fact that it has the capability of creating HDR panoramas for use in CGI image based lighting. Knowing how big these panoramas were to be printed, I wanted the best tools at my disposal. And why not take a little risk testing new software to make some of the biggest prints I’ve ever made for? What’s life without some risk taking, right?

Adobe’s Photomerge is pretty amazing in its own right and I’ve had it stitch some wobbly frames into some clean panoramas before. It’s main drawback, though, is that there is not much user control (other than the type of projection it stitches the frames with) if it runs into problems. If it can’t create a clean panorama, that’s the end of the road. There will be much repair work to be done in Photoshop.

With PTGui you have the ability preview the panorama before it is actually rendered. You can try out different projection methods to see which best suits your needs. I used cylindrical projection for most of the panoramas. It offered the least distortion to the horizon. But I still needed to do some warping in Photoshop to get the horizons perfectly straight and level and to pull the corners out to fill the frame.

While we’re on the subject of warping, I prefer using the Warp tool over the Liquify tool for larger tweaks of pixels. When used for little tweaks Liquify is great, but when used for larger movements over larger areas the stretching and smearing of the pixels can be quite apparent. First, I draw a selection with the marquis tool that is significantly larger than the area that I’ll be transforming. I then hit Command+J (Layer/New/Layer via copy) so that I can work on the area without affecting the main layer. To bring up the Warp tool hit Command+T (Edit/Free Transform). Once the Free Transform handles are visible use either Control+Click or Right Click to bring up the contextual menu where Warp is found. You can manipulate any of the points and/or handles or click+drag directly on the areas in the middle of selected pixels. The trick though is to only manipulate the middle areas. This leaves the edges unaffected so they remain seamless with the surrounding areas. Once you’re satisfied with the Warp hit Return/Enter or doubleclick on the selected area to accept. If the manipulation is significant you may have a seam appear at the edges. Simply add a layer mask to the Warped layer and subtly mask the little area out and you should have seamless image again.

If PTGui can’t get a clean seam for some reason, you can help it along by giving it more information to work with. You are able to access PTGui-created paired control points between frames that identify shared features between frames. Sometimes the paired points PTGui automatically creates are lined up correctly. You can go in and manually move the points to make sure they are over the same spot in each frame. You can also add your own control points to help PTGui identify where the frames align. The more points the better.

Control points.

Another powerful feature of PTGui is you are able to force the software to include or exclude portions of specific frames. Along the left third side of the panorama PTGui was not creating a good seam of the ridge in the background. I played a bit with forcing PTGui to only use portions of the #2 frame. It helped it create a cleaner seam along the ridge. In the screenshot, the green is where I painted and PTGui was forced to use that area of frame #2 to create the final panorama.

As good as software is these days, they can’t do everything perfectly. No matter how I cajoled PTGui there were some areas of the panorama it couldn’t pull off seamlessly. In a few spots the ground gave PTGui trouble. If the final destination of these panoramas was just the web, these slightly soft seams would probably have been unnoticeable. But at nearly four feet tall they would be obvious. In these cases I needed to process individual frames from the original RAW files of the ground to bring into the panorama. Since any panorama software distorts individual frames to create the final panorama, these portions I brought in needed to also be distorted to fit into the panorama. I’m guessing one of the least-used layer blend modes in Photoshop is Difference. How it works is quite simple and can be useful in the right situations. This is one of those situations. When a layer is set to Difference and the pixels below that layer are exactly the same, it displays them as solid black. If they display as any other color they are different. This often works great for aligning layers. You can see in the screenshot below several spots that are black.

Once the patch layer is as close as possible, it then took some delicate masking to fit the patch in nicely. I find it works best to paint the mask to an edge already in the image, like one of the rocks. The natural edge is a good way to hide any edge created from the mask.

Ground, before.


Ground, after.

A small touch that I find very useful when scaling images well beyond their native resolution is adding some simulated grain. It is also useful for panoramas because in the stitching process pixels get stretched and squeezed and the natural noise pattern or texture of the camera’s sensor is warped. So, the simulated grain can cover up some of the pixelation from scaling the image up and create a uniform texture over the whole image. Even if the grains need to be large to cover up the roughest parts of the image, it most often looks better than the distorted and abused pixels underneath. Adding noise or grain can also help if you are having any banding issues in areas with gradients.

The grain process is simple. Create a new layer with the blend mode set to Overlay or Softlight. Fill it with 50% gray, the neutral color for these blend modes. Add noise — Gaussian, Monochromatic.

Adjust levels by bringing up the black point and bringing down the white point. This adds contrast and makes the noise a little more clumpy or grain-like.

And last, it needs just a touch of the Gaussian Blur Filter. When the Grain layer is set Overlay, the grain will be more apparent. Setting it to Soft Light makes the grain a little less apparent.


Please note, these settings were specific for this size image. Adjust to suit a particular image’s needs. One last note on adding grain: add it after you’ve scaled an image up to its final print size. If you add it before, the grain gets scaled with everything else and will huge and scary and ugly.

The other bits of retouching I needed to do were less specific to building a panorama. I had to remove all the people other than the group on the rock on the right. I replaced that group on the rock with another group from a separate frame Chase shot just of the group specifically to put in the final panorama. I was also provided PSD files with layers of the panoramas as guides. I just needed to repurpose and fine tune the adjustment layers from those files in the final panoramas.

Two important points I like to remind folks of when I teach:

_In Photoshop there is rarely only one way to get from A to B. I share how I work as a starting point for people to start experimenting and to help get a better understanding of how Photoshop behaves.
_I find it extremely helpful to have someone else look at my work to see if I have done it cleanly and believably. After staring at an image for a long period of time, sometimes it can be difficult to be objective. In my case, I have a client who is making the final judgment call on an image. But the second person can be a friend or spouse who can look at the image with completely fresh eyes. If another person is not available, take the image to what you consider final. Go away for awhile. If you have time, go away for some days. Then take another look over the whole image looking for problem areas, especially for seams that are soft and unnatural looking.

Thanks for reading and good luck!

Want more Panorama tutorials? Check out this past post on How To Shoot a 7 Gigapixel, 60-foot Wide Photo in 5 Easy Steps.

chase jarvis summit on the summit sotsk

Never ‘Work’ Again — On Following Your Passion with Photographer Ian Ruhter [When Dreams Collide]

They say that when you leave your old life behind and walk the path you’re meant to be on, be prepared to leave some friends behind, and be prepared to make new ones. This has definitely been the case on my own personal path. When I finally ditched the things in my life that everyone else wanted me to do and began a fulltime charge of my life’s dream of being an artist, it put my life on a collision course with energy, vitality, and some seriously creative / talented people who have both inspired me and strengthened my resolve to continue on this path. That’s not to say shit doesn’t get hard, and that there’s an unending amount of work…but it’s just one kind of work – the kind that draws you in – not the kind that sinks your soul.

One of those cool people I’ve met along the way is my homie Ian Ruhter, another man on a mission to be different, not just better. If you keep your eyes peeled here on my blog, you know that one of the ways he’s done that is through his most recent personal project titled “Silver and Light,” in which he creates photographic art using a wet plate process that dates back to the 1850s with a camera the size of a truck. I had Ian on the show last year to demonstrate his technique and teach me how to wet plat. (Episode at the bottom of this post)

Ian’s latest video posted up top, “When Dreams Collide,” he documents his journey before our meeting -across the past and present and up to his drop-in on #cjLIVE. This particular vid, while beautifully shot, really delivers on how he crossing all boundaries and bowled through all obstacles to follow his dreams. If you need to abandon your current dead-end path, it’s worth your time.

Follow Ian across these channels:

website
Instagram: ianruhter
Facebook
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Moving The Camera Pays Big: New Gyro Game-Changer used by Teton Gravity Research [interview + video]

Teton Gravity Research Aerial Reel – The Bay Area in 4K from Teton Gravity Research on Vimeo.

Fancy gimbals are the rage these days and I love ‘em all. Not withstanding some homies of mine from my action sports days, Teton Gravity Research, recently announced a partnership with Gyro Stabilized-Systems and launched the GSS C520, a game-changing 4K camera platform that makes that footy that you and I shoot look like sh*t in comparison. Having worked with these cats a bunch (see here – that’s me hanging out of the heli with Todd…) and having seen a sneak peek of the Bay Area aerial footage video above, I wanted to know more. So I sat down with TGR founder Todd Jones to get the scoop and see the new work behind this aerial gimbal game changer.

I know the details of course, but share with the readers your production company Teton Gravity Research.
The short version is… TGR is an action sports brand founded in 1996. We specialize in media creation and distribution. The core components of our company are films, television, commercials, film tours, and our digital platform, www.tetongravity.com.

From a creative standpoint what does this crazy cool GSSC520 do for you as a filmmaker?
From a creative standpoint the GSS allows us to capture the highest quality footage we possibly can. In the past, when working with 16mm film and DSLR’s, we had amazing tools, but they had their limitations as well. Our push now is to use the same tools and cameras that the most high profile films in the world are shot on. We believe that the ultra hd/4k movement is here and is necessary to provide a certain level of quality delivery to the audience. I never bought into the HD cameras and distribution space. It just was not equivalent to film. I was always impressed with the cineflex footage for its stability, but it also had the HD video edge too it. The C520 allows us to get those super stabilized motion shots at true cinema resolution. We have already been getting calls from some big feature films that are interested in using it on their films. It is pretty cool to think that Hollywood is now calling us to help them create their films with our camera systems. After all, 18 years ago we were just a couple of kids who wanted to make a ski and snowboard film from our point of view.

Break it down for me and the people…what’s the difference between this camera gyro and what you’ve used in the past?
This system is the first 4k resolution system of its kind. It has the most highly sophisticated stabilization technology that has ever been released. There are so many creative ways to use this system. We film highly visual action in stunning locations. To be able to have this camera in those scenarios is a dream.

Yeah, but why is this a game changer?
I think I was touching on it above, but it is the camera system of the future. We also have the ability to put the newest cameras in the world in it. We are currently working on putting the Sony F55 in it and will follow with the new 4k Phantom. The fact that we can rapidly integrate the newest cameras in the world into this system is huge.

Give us a glimpse into the future… Does this technology point to more/new things to come?
I think it does. For one thing it points to the Ultra HD/4k movement. That is coming at us fast. If you’re going to rent helicopters and shoot aerials you might as well shoot them in cinema resolution if you can afford it.

Ok, handwaving and high-fiving is nice, but give me a specific example of where this camera creates an advantage for you…
On the above point, any footage shot with our system will be relevant as the Ultra HD movement takes over. We are already in a situation where the 16mm film we shot for years has very little stock value beyond historical pieces or the TGR brand story. It will need to be presented as archival footage in those scenarios. We can’t even put some of those super epic shots on reels anymore. I am really psyched that the stuff we have been shooting is more future proofed – at least for the next iteration of technology.

I know the answer on this one, but for the benefit of those who might now, what makes you and the TGR team so uniquely qualified to create with this tool? Hollywood here we come?
We have been filming aerials for 18 years. We have worked with limited resources up until now and made them work. Shooting with this system is crazy. The quality of shots is like nothing we have ever captured and it opens doors for us. I just spent the last three weeks working with it in Alaska and it is our best footage to date. We can’t wait to show it to the world.

And we can’t wait to see it. Thanks Todd.



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