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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.

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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.

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.



A Good Interview. Photography + Entrepreneur Stuff [ Tearing Down Walls - A Podcast with Jenni Hogan]

I had the distinct pleasure of being a guest on Jenni Hogan’s “Next Big Thing” podcast a couple weeks ago to talk a bit about my life path(s), pivot points and the way that creativeLIVE is systematically re-shaping access to the best education.

For those who don’t know Jenni, she’s a super smart, sharp journalist who has a passion for connecting with like-minded people who impact, inspire and inform. Equally at home in the worlds of tech, media and fashion, Jenni pressed me on my origins as a creative, from my early pivots away from school and PhD’s in philosophy of art to my career as a photographer and entrepreneur.

In these days of media sound bites, those of us who are lucky enough to get a stage rarely get to give lengthy accounts of our experiences. This is a more lengthy account.

What we discuss:
-beginning as a photographer
-how “making it” is really not “making it” at all – just another chapter
-my #1 iTunes app from 2009 (Wired, Macworld, NYT top app) Best Camera – and what I learned
-how creativeLIVE came to be
-how creativity is the new literacy and cL is a big part of that future.

Big thanks to Jenni for having me on the show. Here is the complete podcast, below:

We Are Not Our Toys. Or Are We?

Ragnar - Iceland

A recent NPR story “Why Politicians Want Children to be Seen and Heard” spoke to the effectiveness of children as political messengers. Federal gun law supporters use images of children to play on the emotions of the masses. “Save Our Children” and all that jazz. Annoying as hell to get ‘used’. But real. And effective stuff, no doubt.

Children have long been the fodder of photogs. Back in January I shined the bloglight on Danny Goldfield, who spent seven years photographing children from over 169 countries — all of whom happened to live in New York City. The portraits are heartwarming and powerful for their diversity and depiction of the innocence and resilience of youth.

Flashback also to the World Press Photo of the Year. The cries of anger and sorrow captured in the faces of a group of men carrying two dead children.

Which brings us to today’s work, with a twist. Gabriele Galimberti’s “Toys Stories” project took 18 months and brought him everywhere from Malawi and Zanzibar to China and the Ukraine. His concept was simple enough: capture children from around the globe, posing with their favorite toys.

Despite the obvious socio-economic differences apparent across the subjects captured, Galimberti observed a thread common to every child he shot:

At their age, they’re pretty much all the same. They just want to play.

We are all the same, right? Well, interestingly, Galimberti did find one difference of note… that the children from more affluent backgrounds tended to be more possessive of their belongings, requiring a bit more coaxing and persuading from the artist to get them to share. Of the children from poorer countries, Galimberti had this to say: “In poor countries, it was much easier. Even if they only had two or three toys, they didn’t really care. In Africa, the kids would mostly play with their friends outside.”

You can connect the dots on that one – I’ll say nothing.

Regardless, here’s a fantastic sampling of Galimberti’s work below. Please pay him a visit to view the project in its entirety here. #respect.

Bethsaida - Haiti


Stella - Italy


Pavel - Ukraine


Tangawizi - Kenya


Ryan - South Africa


Shaira - India


Norden - Marocco


Niko - Alaska


Kalesi - Fuji Islands


Davide - Malta

Chase Jarvis 60: Macklemore

I’m grateful to have so many friends in the Seattle community who influence and inspire me. Among them – Ben Haggerty.

Known to the world as Macklemore, Ben and his talented musical partner-in-crime Ryan Lewis have been on rocket-ship ride to hip hop stardom in the last 7 months. They have been touring non-stop and sold millions of downloads their #1 hit song Thriftshop from the incredible album The Heist. They have appeared on Jay Leno, Saturday Night Live, Letterman, Colbert Report and all the other major talk shows and venues along the way. It’s been fun to watch. We were fortunate enough to have them on our humble little show chasejarvisLIVE back in October of 2011. After the show I caught up with Ben for this portrait. Enjoy the moment.

Macklemore is a talented and a wonderful human being who reminds us all to be honest, fun and grateful. To see what I’m talking about check out this blog post he wrote last week – here.

Kickstarter of the Week – Stop Motion Love Story: Interview with the 11 Year Old Director

I don’t know what you were doing when you were 11, but I know I wasn’t directing movies. Hell, I wasn’t even standing in front of that pool. Trinity Anderson, on the other hand, has jumped into the deep end and seems to managing just fine, thank you.

The 11-year-old and her father, Barry Anderson, are wrapping up production on her latest stop-motion film (a genre she’s been at since she was 4) and have launched a Kickstarter campaign to help cover the rest of production costs. The film is titled Me & Ewe. It is a sheep love story.

I caught up with Trinity and Barry before her performance rehearsals (she’s also an actor) to talk a bit more about her project.

For the record, this is my first time interviewing an 11-year-old.

How did you get into movies and directing? How old were you and what drew you it?

Trinity: When i was 4, we went to Hawaii. I used to get up early, but where we were staying was right near a big cliff and my parents didn’t want me going outside on my own. So they got me a video camera to play with inside. I had Playmobils at the time and I used to make up stories and started using stop motion. I also really liked acting at a young age. When we go to California every summer I get to go to an Shakespeare acting camp. I’ve been doing that every year for a while now.  

Tell me a little bit about this project. What have been the biggest challenges? What have been the biggest breakthroughs?

Trinity: We had a lot of problems with the main tree in the film. As filming went on, the tree started to shed its leaves, so by the end we sort of had this giant dead tree. You can kind of see it in the film, but as it goes on we show it less and less. In the first opening shot it’s green and lush. As you watch it, it kind of dies on you. 

Our biggest breakthrough happened when we were shooting one shot and we ran out of battery. It was a long shot and we didn’t want to retake it. We were about to disassemble when we decided to see if we could recharge the battery while it was still attached to the camera. That worked, so we were able to continue.  

Barry: It was a Switronix PB70 external battery. We couldn’t have plugged it in and saved the shot had we been using a regular canon battery.

Nice. A technological breakthrough.

So tell me, how has this project help you grow as a director? What’s it like being in charge of a project and managing other people?

Trinity: This project was bigger than all the other projects. I’ve made little stop motion films with friends using the iSight on the computer, but this one used real props, real cameras. It is much better quality and we’ve spent a lot more time at at and it’s being shot in an actual studio. We’re planning to enter it in film festivals and put it online. So it’s just bigger than anything I’ve done.

As far as managing, well, we don’t have many people working on the film. Besides my dad there’s my great uncle and grandpa. My dad and I do most of the animated work, and we also have one other animation guy who is doing the background sheep. I pretty much told him what to do and he did it.

Barry: We basically spent a lot of time finding people who would put up with us.

In many ways this project is co-directed by you and your Dad. What has that been like? Has it been challenging making sure the visions are aligned?

Trinity: We have limited amount of camera angles, so there isn’t much decision there. We decide on which camera angle would be best and worked together to figure out the placements. My Dad helped a lot  with the lights. But otherwise it was pretty straightforward as to which lens we should be using. I guess I was in charge of placement of sheets.

Barry: Trinity wanted to be lead animator. We spent some time talking through the story and came up with some rough storyboards. We figured out what the scenarios would be. Once we had the story down, we agreed on things. It wasn’t a major Hollywood production — there were some limitations and once things fell into place and we put on the lens we got dialed it in. 

In the beginning I was tech guy at computer, making sure we weren’t going to fast to slow and Trinity was in charge of bringing the sheep to life on the screen. But once she got over her intimidation of the technology, she had no problem assuming that role, too!

Artists and creatives often get asked “who or what are your influences?” Influences can be other artists or directors, it can be books or a series of books, movies or a series of movies. Who or what are your influences?

Trinity: I always wanted to work in movies. For a short time I went through an archeology phase, but my Dad has always been directing movies, so really I’d have to say my Mom and Dad. Aside from them I really like Stephen Speilberg and his movies like Jaws, ET, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Indiana Jones. I also like It’s a Wonderful Life and some other black and white films like, Maltese Falcon, The Navigator and Some Like it Hot.

I really enjoy comedy. Movies that aren’t funny aren’t my favorite. Buster Keaton has been an influence for me. I do some circus performance and he’s really made my comedy better. 

Do you have a particular favorite stop motion director of film?

Trinity: Nightmare before Christmas. But I also really like A Town Called Panic. It’s a French film. It uses a real unique animation form. It’s different and it fits the story. 

I also like the Fantastic Mr Fox. The models are good and I love the voices of the actors. Also the score is beautiful. Our test score is mostly taken from that movie. It was done by Alexandre Desplat [who did Argo]. We actually sent him an email to see if he’d do the score for our movie, but we haven’t heard anything yet. 

Wow. Let’s hope he comes through. That would be something. 

We have a lot of gear heads who read the blog. They’re going to want to know a little bit about the gear you use in the film. 

Barry: For cameras we used two Canon 5D Mark II’s. We’re using Dragonframe software to do the actual animation. It’s been used in a lot of features. It’s powerful and not that expensive.

Trinity: It’s great because it’s not as complicated as some programs, but it’s not so simple that it can’t do all the things you want. It’s really the perfect medium. The other cool thing about the project is that most of the lighting is done with lights we got at Home Depot.

Barry: We used to 1K source lights with soft boxes, but every other light was a Home Depot light. We built a grid over the field and used everything from 15 watt up to 300 watt, both clear and frosted.

Trinity: And a lot of gaffe tape. 

To help Trinity and Barry finish their project, contribute to the Kickstarter campaign, here.

Here are some behind-the-scenes stills from the set of Me & Ewe. Enjoy:

Turn Love Into Money — Matt Schwartz’s 8×10 Polaroids Kick Instagram to the Back Seat

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The phrase “Old school” can’t do justice to New York photographer Matt Schwartz’s methodology. Lugging around an 8×10 Polaroid camera to shoot stylized surf-themed pics (that are pretty easy on the eyes) that could pass as faded stills from unused Endless Summer clips, Schwartz has eschewed the conveniences of the modern camera and smart phone camera apps for an approach that has never let him down. That he does it without commercial motivation may be exactly why he has had so much commercial success.

Matt’s story is hard not to love. When his first attempt at selling his work to an ad agency failed, he went completely DIY and hired his own models and bought his own props to realize his vision. That vision has since caught the eye of Billabong, Levis and Surfrider, to name a few. He has maintained the same process and style without conceding to more commercial demands (cue my always-running speech about personal work). It continues to pay off.

I reached out to Matt to share with you all a bit about his work and his vision.

Your work has long been lauded for its trademark style. What’s the process behind that style?

MS: I take 8×10 Polaroids, pull apart the film and rub the negatives onto watercolor paper. The process is called Polaroid transfer.

Your subjects are predominantly female. What’s the story there?

MS: They are prettier than boys. Ha. I actually shoot women for my fashion/whimsical shoots, but shoot men for most of my surfing images. There needs to be an attraction of some sort (face, hair, clothes, aura, etc.) for me to be inspired to photograph someone.

What are a few of your influences?

MS: I am influenced by the beauty of surfing, ballet, yoga and music. I love traveling around the world to surf towns and immersing myself in everything.

Are there artists whose work you pay extra attention to?

MS: I like Chaz Ray Krider (erotic photography), Leroy Grannis (surf photographer) and a bunch of random illustration (juxtapose). I pay more attention to music than photography or other art forms. I am so immersed in my own work that I need an escape through sound.

How do strike a balance between personal and commercial work?

MS: Currently all of my work produced is for the purpose of creating. Images that need to be taken. Once I fall in love with an image I end up including it in the collection of work being sold. A few companies such as Levis and Anthropologie have purchased work for their stores. I have also worked with some surf companies on commercial work. I am branching out into the commercial world more and more each year, though I am very specific as to who I work with. I have been fortunate with my work where I can say “no” to offers. It’s weird when you get to a point and you can just say no, while someone is offering a lot of money, though at the same time it would cancel out who I was if i did any job.

What makes these different from other Polaroids?

Everything, as each artist is different. I have never pressed the shutter on my camera thinking about selling my work. I shoot because I have to capture beauty. When my work started selling I was playing music in a band. All of images were and have always been taken from the heart. With music there was always pressure to try and get on a small record label or line up shows, etc. There was no goal with my pics. They were just a hobby. I guess that is why they worked.

Check out more of Matt’s work here.

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So You Want to Be a Commercial Photographer? Here’s How… [Joey L on creativeLIVE]

Update: It’s official now, I’m dropping in as a guest on JoeyL’s show TODAY at 10:45 Seattle Time (1:45 NYC; 18:45 London). Join us – ask questions. I just was sent over the topics he’s going to grill me on and I haven’t given an interview this in-depth about commercial photography in more than a year. Tune in HERE to watch…

Occasionally I hand pick certain people that I’d like to see on creativeLIVE. Joey L is one of those people — and starting NOW, AND for the next 3 days, he’s going to be sharing everything he can muster about his approach to commercial portrait photography and personal projects. Specifically he will be walking photographs from concept, thru lighting, posing, shooting and post production…and doing it all LIVE (so you can ask questions) and FREE.

Why did I choose JoeyL?
Here’s 3 reasons you should watch:
1. Few photographers today know how to make the pictures they see in their mind. But Joey can do this as well or better than any long standing pro – he turns his vision into reality. In truth this is one of the hardest things for people trying to “make it” as a photographer, and Joey shows you how.

2. Professional photography is more than just capturing the image. This is the simple secret that few people know. It’s about 3 distinct steps… planning for the picture, taking the picture and then making it come to life in post production. In this course, Joey walks you thru all 3 steps with flair.

3. Combination of hard work and technical execution. Most photographers I see in the world have one of these keys, but not both. You can’t succeed with just hustle and yet having shitty technique. And you can’t succeed by being a genius technician without any hustle. JoeyL exudes both of these, and you’ll be able to learn the balance of these in action by watching him.

So check it out. (I’ll be roaming around off set for 2 of the 3 days, maybe even drop in. Hope to see you.)

Resister FREE here to get updates and info about the class each day
Just drop in LIVE here anytime here.

joey L on creativeLIVE

Photo Geeks + Space Nerds Unite — Beautiful, Never Before Seen 360 Degree Images of Mercury

Photo geeks and space nerds unite. Saw this and had to share it. This is the first time mankind has ever seen the planet Mercury in its entirety. Scientists used thousands of images collected for over a year by the MESSENGER probe to completely map the surface of the planet, taken at a resolution of 1km per pixel.

The yellow-orange sections are highly volcanic lava plains, and the dark blue areas are assumed to be minerals.

Watch the planet spin a complete 360 degrees and read more about the process HERE.

Serious credit goes to those slackers at NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab and the Carnegie Institution of Washington for the images.

Stop Creating False Barriers Between You & The Photos You Want to Take [aka Going to the End of the Earth to Get the Shot]

Are you pursuing your personal passions to get the pictures you want, or are you letting…ahem…”too many obstacles” stop you?

Here’s a little inspiration. Using a weather balloon, a Gopro 2, a Multiplex Funjet and some other lo-fi equipment, David Windestål decided to get some first person footage of a trip to space. What he ends up with is an awesome video of the camera’s trip into orbit, and a ton of inspiration for the rest of us. Sure he could massaged the footage and edited differently / better. But whatever. In this post its the spirit that counts. Because truth be told, he’s doing cool shit. And you…?

The takeaway is this: you might not be as handy as David with a soldering iron, but it doesn’t matter, that’s not the point. The point is to stop creating false barriers between you and what you want to be taking pictures of…

Take that project that you’ve pushed off… decided is “too difficult” or “too expensive” or “too [whatever]” and hack into it. If you can find step by step instructions on how to send a camera into space with a couple of mouse clicks, what else might you figure out how to do with a little elbow grease and that good, ol’fashioned get-off-your-ass-and-do-it attitude adjustment?

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