Category Archives: Vvinni’s Adventures Through Art School

VATAS: Lastisode 16

Here we are at the end of the adventures, folks.  After the school closing I never quite got back into making VATAS episodes, although it wasn’t for lack of ideas.  I had plenty of ideas for VATAS episodes (and I’ll include them below), but I either got busy with classwork or it just didn’t seem the right moment to shoot the episode.  But, once I graduated I decided to pick up my Hi-8 camera, dust it off, bury it in sand, and shoot one last episode: The Lastisode:

Lastisode 16 on YouTube

It’s a bittersweet ending, and even now I feel sad to see VATAS go.  It’s a final episode that encompasses the uncertainty that I had about the future in 2011, and that I still have nearly two years after graduating.  I feel like the location of the arroyo does wonders for setting up a sort of lost and lonely feeling, but also one of discovery.  Now, again this is vastly different from other VATAS episodes, I suppose the final two years of film school finally taught me that I don’t need candy-color correction to make a video worthwhile.  Also, much like other later episodes, this one is very straightforward.  We no longer have the random jumps like we did in Episplode 3 or Westisode 9. However, it still feels like a VATAS episode. It feels like a much more grown up a mature episode, one that is the logical conclusion from the very first VATAS (okay, maybe not logical because who’d have thought I’d go through all the insanity with CSF and that I’d eventually return, but… it’s an ending that makes sense).  Finally, this is the most self-referential episode.  Which I feel okay about, but how about you? Are you tired of me plugging Delicious Pound Cake yet?

And now, to truly end our time with VATAS and as I promised above, here are the ideas of other episodes I had that never came to be:

Wherein Vvinni buries three turnips (it was going to be a bizarre quest episode where I buried three moldy turnips in the mountains)
Wherein Vvinni returns to Santa Fe (It was going to be my jailbreak episode from Boulder)
Wherein Vvinni travels back in time (This was going to be the sci-fi equivalent of Westisode 9)
Wherein Vvinni does laundry (This one is self-explanatory)
Wherein Vvinni gets lost in the desert (Again, self-explanatory)
Wherein Vvinni drives (An episode following me on one of my drives from Santa Fe to Colorado)
Wherein Vvinni designs (an episode following me as I design a poster/book cover/ etc.)
Wherein Vvinni goes back to Episode 1 (A re-edit of Episode 1, which was going to be created as the 20th episode anniversary)
Wherein Vvinni finally talks about Tracy McKnightly (An episode where I confront the biggest failure of my filmmaking career: Tracy McKnightly)

Well. That’s it. Thanks for joining me for this YouTube adventure, and I hope my seven readers have enjoyed this at least somewhat. Now go. You’re free now.

VATAS: Epostode 15

This episode of VATAS was already featured on the New Henceblog when we were talking about Andrew’sHappy Birthday Murderer” segment of THE TAPE.  But, when it was posted before it was only available on the Henceforth Vimeo not (as we all can plainly see now) on the Henceforth YouTube.  So, let’s go ahead and watch this Epostode again and see how it holds up when compared to the other fifteen episodes of VATAS:

Epostode 15 on YouTube

Okay. So first, let’s clear this up: This isn’t an episode of VATAS.  It fits much more into the realm of the Complicated Web of Papers and Lies, and  there’s not much to link this episode to the others.  Which is a strange thing to say, as VATAS episodes have been shown to be surprisingly versatile, however what I feel separates this from other episodes is that it’s surprisingly focused and straightforward.  We don’t cut around as much, the titles aren’t as obtrusive, and  we don’t have many off moments of “THE TIE IS FAKE”.  This is much more of a documentation, a way of showing a package that would soon be torn up and capturing my reaction to said package on video, much like THE BOX earlier this year.  So Epostode 15 is a very unVATAS VATAS episode, but does that detract from the enjoyment of the video?  No. I don’t think so.  I think my palpable excitement over the package comes through, I think even though the video is pretty dark all of the important pieces of the package were featured well, and the sound is also a massive step up from some of the other episodes we’ve seen.

Thus, although Epostode isn’t very much like a VATAS episode, I still rather enjoy it.  But what about YOU? Do you think this deserves a place among the ranks of VATAS?

VATAS: Episode 14.

So once the College of Santa Fe closed I went to school at the University of Colorado- Boulder.  The campus setting and the educational philosophy of a massive university like CU versus the small and fiscally troubled CSF was vastly different, and this shift had to be shown in VATAS (Also, I was entering my third year of college and, by extension, the third year of VATAS). So let’s see how I did:

VATAS 14 on YouTube

If the point was to signify a shift, then Episode 14. does it greatly.  I never expected to stay long at CU Boulder, thinking instead that after a few semesters of introductory classes (which I had already taken at CSF but CU wouldn’t accept because CU only accepts credits from CU) I would transfer to another school.  At the time that I made Episode 14. I had already started to notice all of the issues that would later cause me to move back to Santa Fe and finish out my schooling there: A campus that was too big with too many people, they were too focused on getting as many new students as they could and not keeping the students they had, class sizes were enormous and professors didn’t have a personal connection to their students, etc.  This is all leading to the point that when I was at CU I felt like I had entered into some kind of Bizarro cult world where we were expected to Love CU for the very nature of being CU, even though it’s entire academic philosophy was flawed.  And I feel like this feeling comes through well enough in the video: The overexposed lighting and the low saturation make this into a very white and blank episode, the fact that “THE UNIVERSITY” is always repeated with an echo and louder than everything else helps lend an air of brainwashing to the piece, and the piece is also kept very simplistically written.  There are a few problems with this episode, though. Firstly: This is the first episode where the art direction is incredibly distracting and takes away from the idea that this place has stripped away all character and replaced it with UNIVERSITY.  Second, and more importantly: YOU CANNOT HEAR THE EPISODE.   During my stay at CU I had four roommates and one person was almost always home, and as we all know I was (and still am) terrified of someone walking in on me filming a VATAS episode where I’m biting the head off of a stuffed chicken, so I spoke quietly to make sure no one knew what I was doing.  Still, YOU CANNOT HEAR THE EPISODE.  As such, I find myself wishing that I had paid greater attention to sound recording throughout the filming of these, as it would have solved the sound issues here, in number 8, and in number 11 as well.

But, such is life.  Especially at THE UNIVERSITY where you’re not allowed to take out good equipment unless you’re an upperclassman and even if you are the equipment has to be used for a school project and not a fun side project.

VATAS: Ebicyd 13

Finally, an episode that delivers on a promise made in the very first VATAS: This is an episode about bicycles.  It’s not one of the most important episodes, it’s not revolutionary, but I like it. But what about you? Will YOU like it?

 

Ebicyd 13 on YouTube

As I said above, I like this episode.  It has a meandering feel that never makes it too long, and there are some great shots of bicycle gears and valves (although by the end of the episode everything is pink, and I certainly could have done a better job rigging the camera to the bicycle to  get a clearer shot of riding.  Ebicyd 13 is in many ways the end of VATAS proper, and I feel that it’s a good episode and a strong marker for slightly above the middle of the road.  It occupies a similar space as Number 5 did, but it significantly improves on the formula, and although the titles don’t feel necessary in the episode they also don’t feel all that intrusive.

Even though VATAS proper is more or less over, there are still three more special episodes left.  So look out for those!

VATAS: Eggisode 12

A few years ago I had a problem: I was obsessed with scenes where people cooked eggs.  I thought it was the single greatest thing one could write, and I tried to shoehorn it into everything I wrote.  As I said, it was a problem. A big problem.  I had to get it out of my system, I had to go into an ideological steam hut and sweat out all of the Egg-scenes I could.  And so I made Eggisode 12. A VATAS all about me cooking eggs for breakfast. Let’s take a look at it, let’s see if I was right in thinking that egg-cooking scenes were the single greatest scene in the history of scenes:

Eggisode 12 on YouTube

Yes. Yes I was completely justified in my belief, and I’m surprised that an entire religion hasn’t been made off of this video.

Okay, fine, that’s a bit hyperbolic, but I do enjoy this episode- sorry EGGisode, and part of that is because it starts right off out the gate with Egg puns.  It is unapologetic about its focus on the mundane task of cooking and eating eggs, and there’s something  wonderful about it.  Much like the focus  in Westisode 9 helped it, so does the focus here.  Also, much like Wesitsode 9, number 12 has a lot of fun with titling and editing. First: The titles.  The jumping around of EGG into various parts of the frame adds plenty of whimsy to the titles (which at this point are obligatory, but they had lost a lot of what made them so much fun in the earlier episodes), and the constant reminder of what part of breakfast we’re looking at is also very enjoyable (Sizzle, Bread, etc.). And then there’s the editing!  Because I had a lot of footage, and because the focus of this episode was so simple, I was able to  to do a lot with editing (for  a prime example, look at how I edit around the drinking of that coffee. It’s excellent, or should I say EGGcellent?).  But never does it seem flashy of too scattered, everything has a focus, everything lasts for just the right amount of time, and despite the jumps in cooking time there’s still a wonderful flow to the piece.  Finally, any VATAS that shows you how to draw on a piece of toast has to be  something special, doesn’t it?

So, I feel like Eggisode is horribly underrated.  I enjoy it. After watching it again after years away (and I have given away my obsession with egg-scenes, but I may have just re-ignited it), I still feel the same glee and wonder that I do when watching the Westisode.  So tell me, seven readers, why don’t you all like Eggisode 12?  Am I still just blinded with Eggs? Or… okay, there’s no way I can put in an egg pun there. None that I can think of, at any rate.

VATAS: Ethisode 11

Ethisode 11 isn’t nearly as pivotal or fun or experimental as the previous three, but it’s still a decent enough episode.  The most interesting part of Ethisode 11 is that I was surprisingly focused on one project: the creation of the animated short “Disfigurement Man: The Fear Wake”.  The result is a mixed bag, and before going deeper into the criticism, let’s take a look:

Ethisode 11 on YouTube

It’s a good thing that I took a close look at how one singular project is put together, and I do feel like the process of “Disfigurement Man” was worth exploring (because, as with any animation, there are thousands of tiny steps along the way).  I’m not sure how effective I was in communicating each step, though.  This combined with some sound issues make for an episode that could be very interesting but ends up being mostly unintelligible.  But, for all I know it ended up reading well and was a useful and intriguing look into the creation of a popular animation.  Unfortunately, because I made the project, I already know each step, and so most of this episode is all unnecessary review.  But for you, my seven readers? Maybe this was useful, and the sound isn’t even all that bad (especially when compared to Deadisode 8).

VATAS: 1dspEioe0

I wanted to do something special for Episode Number 10, and I also had been wanting to begin exploring new ways to put together a VATAS episode that broke the mold of what we had seen.  So I decided that this would be my experimental episode, and that I would use the previous ten episodes as a building block and experiment further with Final Cut to create something that could function both as an episode of VATAS and an experimental tribute to it (Also, despite the success of VATAS as a whole, these episodes did help me become more comfortable with editing and really forced me to understand and utilize the software I had).  This is also the last of the “Big Three” episodes of VATAS (which, for clarification, they’re named the “Big Three” because they’re not only some the most seen episodes, but I feel they also capture the series at its best), so let’s enjoy it, shall we?

1dspEio0 on YouTube

This isn’t my best experimental work.  In fact, I’d put it pretty low on the list.  But, I think we hit a nice fever pitch by the end of the episode, and it’s a nice way of looking back at VATAS.  But looking back at this episode now, I’d say that I didn’t go far enough.  The episode still follows the same formula as most of the episodes, and although that’s an interesting choice I feel like 10 could have benefited greatly from being complete visual chaos.  I feel like if I took more risks (like I did closer to the end of the episode with the frame-by-frame cuts and the overlaying of “Hello”) then this episode would have been a stellar installment in my experimental line, but as it stands it’s merely one of the better episodes of my unsuccessful video blog series.  Although, it’s also important to note that this was really my first venture into purely experimental territory, with the closest thing prior to this being “Hallway Is“, which is terrible and no one should watch it.

VATAS: Westisode 9

One of the criticisms I had for Episode 2 was that it tried to shoehorn a full video into the video-blog format.  It didn’t work in Episode 2 and I wanted to drift away from ever doing it again in a VATAS episode.  And yet, here we are in Westisode 9, where I not only put in a full video into the middle of the episode, but it somehow worked better than I could have imagined and it has become of the most viewed episodes of VATAS on my Vimeo.  Even stranger, is that even though I stand by my rule of not doing this, I largely feel that Wesitosde 9 works. In fact, I’d say that is has rightfully earned its place amongst the “Big Three” of VATAS episodes.  Also, in defense, the video inside of this episode (A re-edit of a Gunsmoke episode) couldn’t really be featured on its own due to copyright restrictions (although, because it was used solely for education and no money will be made off of it, I do believe that it falls under the umbrella of Fair Use).  Anyhoo, let’s go ahead and take a look at the episode before dissecting it further:

Westisode 9 on YouTube

This episode works, and I enjoy it.  So the question is: WHY does it work?  I feel it’s partially because the entire episode is centered around the nested video, and that after showing the video we have a bit of a discussion afterward about the assignment and my thoughts on it (Still not much of a discussion, but still a discussion).  The other reason this works, is because it’s ridiculously fun. After the previous apocalyptic news of my school closing in Episode 8, Number 9 is mostly just me playing “Cowboys and Indians” by saying things like “Let’s go plant a cactus farm!” and “I got to- I got to gather up all the chickens!”.  These interspersed bits of oddly understood genre conventions help cement this episode as “The Cowboy VATAS”, as well as help tie everything into the Gunsmoke project.  I also think it’s a good step into figuring out a way to talk about school projects that I otherwise wouldn’t have, while keeping it interesting and useful for supposed spectators.

I never again tried to nest a video into another episode, and I think that’s smart. But, Westisode 9 does show that it can be done much more effectively than in the scattered episode 2.  That’s what I think anyways, but what do you think seven readers? Does it work? Or I’m just too much of a cock-sure gunman?

VATAS: Deadisode 8

Oof. Now we’re into the big three VATAS episodes, starting with the one that brings to the light one of the biggest ordeals I’ve had to go through: My school shutting down and everyone leaving me.  This time was stressful, no one really knew what was going to happen or what they were going to do, and everything seemed completely hopeless.  So I did what anyone who had an unsuccessful video-blog would do; I made an entry all about the death of CSF:

Deadisode 8 on YouTube

I’m still dealing with the aftermath of this, and I realize that in the grand scheme of all of the world a school shutting down is small, but this was the destruction of a place I had finally grown to call home, it was a crumbling of not only everything I had believed in in terms of education (which, in turn, was everything I believed about life at that point) but also everything I thought I knew about friendship and acceptance and home.  It was hell.  And I think this episode is a fantastic visual artifact to help people understand exactly what this moment felt like for me.

I chose to film this episode in one of the strangest parts on campus, which was right next to the library and even before the school shut down it was a little pocket of the apocalypse.  The concrete was peeling everywhere in pools, all of the plants were dead in few lonely bench-planters, and there was a constant metallic drone of the generator/monolith. The place has an unmistakable feeling of being a nice hangout place years before, but decay and time took its toll, and now it is nothing but death.

The editing and color correction also help place the feeling of this episode.  The yellow wash over the entire episode gives it a distinct sense of decay, and almost all color except for the grating, jaundice yellow has all but disappeared.  The Vocal track is nearly inaudible, drowned out by the incessant drone of the Monolith.  Instead, all we have are unhelpful subtitles and a growing sense of unease.  This unease is made all the worse with the constant jarring cuts to the Monolith, to me all alone in this dead landscape, and to one of the most straight-forward and saddening Tracy McKnightly Hours ever (“There is nothing”).  This is an episode about failure, the only VATAS to be defined by what doesn’t happen, and the most atmospheric and sad episode to date (Save for the last, but we’ll cover that one in due time).

Episode 8 is also one of the more watched VATAS episodes.  I’m not sure why this is, but I’d like to think it’s because of the sense it conveys. The creeping hopelessness and doom of the situation of CSF is communicated rather well visually, and the story of how the school’s administration kept on shooting itself in the foot is certainly an interesting one.  Also, it even garnered mention on Andrew’s much more successful EXG Blog. Things got very heavy here, and this was an undercurrent for a lot of the work I produced at the time.  But, never fear. Things will get much more lighter in Westisode 9.  Or they can get much lighter now, if you want to jump to another VATAS episode. Either way, stay tuned for next time.

VATAS: Erpisode 7

Now we’re improving a bit and getting back into the sweet spot of a VATAS episode: In Erpisode 7 we have a simple task that’s rather boring (It was recycling day, the second most exciting day behind laundry day), which has been chopped up and interspersed with stranger segments (like me eating paper, singing a song about recycling and failure, and the constant refrain of “Recycling!”).  It’s still a bit tedious, but it’s an improvement over the previous two episodes.

VATAS 7 on YouTube

Despite the tedium of Number 7’s recycling sequence (I feel like it could have been pared down, and that this could have been an excellent 6 and a half minute episode rather than 7 and a half), there is much more confidence in this episode and what it’s doing (and I think the previous two rather unremarkable episodes helped me get that confidence).  There’s also a sense of unraveling beneath Number 7 that I rather enjoy, and come Episode 8 we’ll see why. Also, I think the one-liner of the episode (“This is a hat rack. This is MY hat rack”) worked a bit better than it has in the past (although I think my favorite one-liner is still “The Tie was FAKE”), and some more intelligence in what to cut and how to streamline an episode is beginning to form.  In short, Erpisode 7 is a solid improvement, I think, and an important episode (Among 3 and 4 in it’s way of showing the growth of the VATAS experience).

We’re going to be coming up to the three big VATAS nuggets next, so come back in about a week for Deadisode 8.  Or, you can watch them all on Vimeo. As always, it’s completely up to you.