Tag Archives: Greens

Vanitas

Huh.  Well I’ve realized that I’ve been a bit behind on posting up-to-date films.  Sure, I’ve been putting up all of the short experiments that are on my YouTube Page, but what about all of the more important films on my ever-popular and beginning in a much better letter Vimeo Page?

If it weren’t for every major newspaper covering my life as front-of-page news, none of you would know of the slightly longer, more put-together experimental shorts that I’ve been making!  Well, I’m going to fix that. I’m going to fix that today.  Here,  Watch my latest.  Watch Vanitas:

Vanitas from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

Wow, that was fun!  So let’s first take a look at how this was all put together.  Firstly, I wanted to try my hand at time-lapse filming, so for every ten minutes or so for one afternoon I took about 15-30 seconds of video of the same still-life in front of my Cactus: Okonkwo.  Once I put all of the clips together I had about six minutes of video, far too long for an experimental piece, and so I got to work speeding everything up to get it within the typical 1 minute these data bends are (Also: The longer the video, the greater the chance that my Data Bending program, Audacity, will fail to load everything).  After that I took the sped up video and transferred it into Audacity, where you’re able to manipulate the data inside of the video file and get the resulting glitches.  I repeated this about six times, each time exporting a new video file with the already-bent video files in it, sometimes these were overlaid on top of the original file, sometimes there were two bent files overlaid on top of each other, and I would also alternate the speed of the video (sometimes the file would be 1 minute, sometimes 2, sometimes 30 seconds).  Finally I had the completed video, I did a bit of color work (mostly to get the dead grey space resulting from numerous manipulations of data to be something a bit more interesting), and there we go.  The product is above. You should have seen it by now.

BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN? The title, set-up, etc. of this film is based around the Flemish painting style of the renaissance, which features heavy themes of futility, inevitability, and death.  All the fun things.  I wanted to do something a bit more involved than using vacation videos, and I figured the best way to explore this (as well as using it as a focus on light, time, and interactions of form) would be to make a still life, and when I think still lives I think of the Vanitas.  Vanitas also feeds into what I’m exploring through these data bends: Using the essence of a digital video against itself.  There are two large camps of digital filmmakers: Those who use the digital medium and try to make it look “film-like”, and those who don’t try to make the digital video look like film but don’t try to do much to differentiate it from what has come before.  With my data bends I try to look at what makes shooting digital unique and explore the aesthetics of the digital (so pixels, frames bleeding into each other, freezing, etc).  Also, with digital works there is no physical record of what you’ve done.  Instead everything exists in a series of ones and zeroes on a hard drive somewhere.  So, in the end, a lot of what this piece plays with is the transient nature of the digital image and how soon (maybe in a week or so) this piece will be lost to memory and time and, as such, reach its “death”.

Spam 3: Spam Rising

I’ve been pretty lax about looking at Spam comments.  But now a few are starting to catch my eye again.  Let’s go back into the vault of that which should never be seen:

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Vvinni Gagnepain’s “The Shining”

Directing class, 2010.  The assignment was to direct a scene from a film we hadn’t seen, using only the original screenplay and our own ideas.  I chose Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining”, and I had about two weeks to get the whole production up and running, three or four weeks to finish it.  The result is below.

Vvinni Gagnepain’s The Shining from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

In my mind I always go back and forth on whether I like my adaptation or not.  I had the most people working under me for this shoot and on top of it I had my directing professor looking over my shoulder the whole time (who was a very kind and non-judgmental person, but it was still terrifying).  I had a limited cast pool and I’m not sure how my actors did with my idea for how the movie went and just generally how they were as actors.  I wondered about my set, I wondered about my decision to use the tracking dolly, I worried about a specific edit that doesn’t work at all.  Mostly, I was worried about living up to this:

Upon this viewing I was pleasantly surprised by how not awful it was.  The dolly track isn’t as obtrusive as I remember it being, Tim Maloney as my Jack Torrance works surprisingly well (Despite it being a line flub, I really enjoy the way he says “I’d like to hear those things”. I also like how the reading and wording of that line only adds to the psycho-sexual feeling of this scene), and I think the sudden re-appearance of the ghost ambiance works well to cover up the terrible edit I was talking about (which was my plan, I’m just never sure how well it works).  In the end I like this scene, and since directing this I have seen Kubrick’s version so I can answer that question that’s burning in your mind: Yes, I do think my version of this movie could be better, and I do think that the general ideas I’m working with are better in this scene (And, to a certain extent, I do think the set design in what I did come up with is better than Kubrick’s).  Now is my scene better than “The Shinning”?  No. Oh my no.

Lincoln Park 5/14/14

Another glitch, this one of birds at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.

I like this one.  I tried to be a bit more experimental with it by layering two separate glitches of the same video file on top of one another, and I think the colors are a bit brighter and the glitches a bit more pronounced because of it.  Even the glitches themselves worked out much better than ones in the past have, perhaps it was the movement (and lack thereof) of the birds, perhaps it was  the colors or lighting, but I this is the first glitch I’ve done so far that I think could stand on its own.  What do you think?  What’s your favorite so far?

|Square|

One of the last films I made of my sophomore year of college was meant to be a documentary project (I don’t remember the exact assignment, but at that point it didn’t really matter).  Mind you, this was when my school had gone completely bankrupt and had, for all intents and purposes, closed down and so this was also looking like it’d be the last film I’d ever make at CSF.  So I decided to make a documentary on carpet. I also wanted to merge this documentary with my own growing form of non-linear story-telling to create something as scattered as the square patterns on the floor.  Let’s take a look at what I did, shall we:

|Square| from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

So that’s that.  The reason I chose this carpet, if you didn’t catch it, is that it was  not only something unique to the school (the place) but it was also a suitable enough anachronism to fully capture every bit of  my time in New Mexico and at the College of Santa Fe.    To the extent of capturing a time and place, I’d say the film is a success.  To the extent of capturing a bit of what makes this carpet so interesting, I’d say it does half of the job.  Having three people talk somewhat confusedly I’d say sort of captures the confusion of it, and the movement over the carpet was a good idea in theory.  However, once again, my tendency to play fast and loose with color correction sort of ruined the psychedelic  scheme of the flooring, which is one of the things that makes it most interesting (I’m also not sure if I was sold on white balancing yet.  I am now, don’t worry).  The sound also sounds rather muffled, and I’m pretty sure it has to do with my technical lack of understanding (this is just one step in the journey that showed me its better to work with a crew of people who knew what they were doing, rather than alone).  It’s still a neat piece, and currently its the last documentary I made (though there are some others I’d like to make eventually), and after returning to CSF I was told that many people thought this documentary should be required viewing (and I’d also say that the larger and more immersive you can get this piece, the more spectacular it will be).

Lamplight Breakfast on a Burning Kitten

Ladies and gentlemen, this is it. This is the greatest film I ever have and ever will make. I hope you enjoy it.

Lamplight Breakfast on a Burning Kitten from Andrew Gingerich on Vimeo.

I enjoy this piece mostly because of the odd manic energy it manages to exist in.  It’s a movie about High School, first and foremost, and I don’t think it ever takes its concept of Prom or its characters as seriously as the characters themselves seem to take it, which I feel is perfect for a movie about high school.  This is also the piece that has a cartoon frog spitting on the protagonist’s shoe, one of the most half-hearted and fantastic song-and-dance sequences ever, a character who enters and exits by exploding, a character who enters and exits by pelvic thrusting, a character played by a stuffed wombat, and several dance sequences that aren’t so much dancing than a  surreal glimpse into these characters minds.  To top it all off, it’s shoddiness, it’s location work of all being shot inside and outside of Andrew Gingerich’s grandmother’s house, and the putrid color work all make this into one of the most oddly surreal pieces about a kid falling in love with a wombat ever.   As I said, it’s the best thing I ever have or ever will make.

Also, I really enjoy the line “This absolves Teff of all his previous social faux-pas”.

Skin Removal Cream Ad

Many times during the summer when both Andrew and I were out of Film School we got bored and decided to make a movie.  One of those turned out to be “Plastix Ultimate Meets his Maker”, a story of a person who is unstoppable and indestructible and under the advising from the dark lord of finance.  At some point, he decides to watch and/or invest in Skin Removal Cream (although Pepsi Throwback is really where it’s at), at any rate we needed an ad for Skin Removal Cream.  So, We shot the ad on wonderful VHS, I edited it together, and here we are: Skin Removal Cream.

Skin Removal Cream Ad from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

I never get tired of this piece, and apparently neither do a lot of other people as  ever since it was released into the digital realm it has been one of my top viewed videos and I am more than happy to be known as “that guy who did Skin Removal Cream”.  I think the piece is a fantastically surreal version of a late-night infomercial ad, and the VHS and yellow bland typeface only add to that.  The VHS also did a great job of picking up the sickly green cream and  the bright red poppies, and Andrew got wonderfully into the role of this mysterious Skin Removal Cream Salesman, demanding that I continue to film him as he washed out the horrid cream from his teeth (which is where we got the astute observation that “…you can really taste the pepper”.

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.

Teh Cld Wr

Here’s another old Henceforth Classic, from my high-school/basement days: Teh Cld Wr.  Although, interesting fact, Teh Cld Wr (though shot my senior year of High School in 2007) wasn’t completed until I was in my second semester of College (winter of 2008).  Another interesting fact: Teh Cld Wr was the first film that I’m credited as directing on my IMdB Page (the film that got me my IMdB page was Andrew Gingrich’s Wholesale Souls, though).  So, Teh Cld Wr occupies an interesting place in the Henceforth mythology and chronology: A bridge between the years I discovered my craft and the years I honed it, and for the longest time throughout college I was known for making Teh Cld Wr.  That’s the preamble and history for the video, so now let’s take a look at the film itself:

Teh Cld Wr from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

The early henceforth films were plagued by a number of problems, many of which are found in every film people have made with their friends in basements: Sound quality, a lack of expertise in editing, general low-quality.  So these are given problems, and even among those the only glaring issue is the sound (I was rather ambitious with editing, and I do think it’s a notch above most of the other films that my fellow high-schoolers were making).  The early henceforth films can also be marked as having a bizarre grasp on color correction.  Part of this was intentional, as was the choppy nature of the film, but even so… it gets a bit tiresome.  Also, because of the choppy nature of the project, many of the best gags are cut out (and because of general disorganization, an entire segment on the Vietnam War was cut out.  Oddly enough, the Vietnam War segment was the reason I decided to make this project).

But there are also some good nuggets in here, and I don’t think it’s completely a waste like some of the other early films are.  The part about the arms race (1 apple, 2 apples, don’t use the apples) is still one of my favorite scenes ever, as is the part regarding the Berlin Wall (“I can’t until the late 80’s” is a gem).  I also think the acting is remarkably decent, given how old we were and how little experience I had with directing.  So, although this isn’t my best work, and I’ve grown by leaps and bounds since the creation of this (or at least I’ve gotten better at hiding my mistakes) this will forever be attached to me and for a good amount of people it will be the earliest film of mine they can see.  And I think it’s a fantastic film for that purpose.

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.