Tag Archives: Video

Resolution.

Remember how the moon blew up in March?  Well I made a movie about that. Or…

Remember those two filmmakers who were going to team up and make a movie together?  Well I made a movie about that too. Or…

Remember those four larger film projects that I’ve had in post-production, some for around 8 years?  Well I made a movie about that too. Or…

Above all else, I made a film about failure.  I made the film below called “Resolution.”, and it’s below.  Let’s watch now, shall we?

Resolution. from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

So there’s a lot of things here to parse out, but first let’s look at some technical aspects.  I’ve been working on “Resolution” since February of this year when I decided to use it as a way of exploring the software “Resolve” as a new editing suite (I’m still using Final Cut 7 for most of my projects, and I feel like sooner or later I’m going to have to switch to something newer and more up-to-date).  Well, I tried using Resolve, but in the end I just didn’t like it for editing.  It’s good for color work, but not for editing (and it’s designed to be for color work, editing is just something they’re just now incorporating).  But was “Resolution” still a project that should be completed and shown? Yes, in fact now it was more than ever.

The relevance goes to why I chose the projects I chose: Tracy McKnightly, Stories From Sturgeon, and Superb Fire Space Laser Blasters (more on “Lun” in a second).  These are three projects that have been simmering for a long time, projects that are so close to being finished but won’t be because of small but significant things: Tracy McKnightly needed so much ADR work mostly because of a last minute drop-out of the main actor, but also because I had only completed one semester of school and I didn’t understand that sound was a thing; Stories From Sturgeon wasn’t able to get enough footage from the filming of the project itself and so with only interviews to go by there wasn’t much of a documentary I could make; Superb Fire Space Laser Blasters! needed lots of miniature work or animation work or something to get exterior shots of the spaceship, but also I was missing video and audio from when we shot, and even on set I had lost a lot of my ability to plan and work on a film set which resulted in a rushed schedule that didn’t quite work out.  Now I know that no one was waiting with too bated breath for these films to be completed, but I had failed them and I needed to make it right.  So, much like with “No!” before this (the most obvious predecessor, right down to having a punctuation mark in the title), I decided to fuse these failed projects together into one.  I fused them into one project that had itself failed on a small but significant level.

Now, let’s talk about “Lun”.  Right off the bat I realized that the biggest difference between “Resolution.” and “No!” was the projects chosen, particularly how they could communicate and function together.  You see, “No!” is made of primarily visual and experimental pieces, things that I thought would be neat to look at but never quite did.  Fitting these looser pieces into one narrative (“Death is a Corgi”) was just a matter of filling holes.  In “Resolution.” I was working with three pieces that had their own stories, three pieces that each had their own feel and their own flow, and fitting them together proved to be tricky.  So I decided I needed a framing device, and it seemed the best way to do that would be to latch on to the documentary aspect of “Stories From Sturgeon”, the discussion of the moon from “Superb Fire Space Laser Blasters!”, and the single image of a shining moon from “Tracy McKnightly” together into one piece.  This piece would end up being called “Lun”, and I decided that the framing device would be me going around and hosting interviews of one simple question: Why did you blow up the moon?  Lun quickly grew out of control and- as has been the case with many projects that I’ve wanted to complete these past four years- I ran out of the resources to make this happen.  What I was left with was a bunch of images of the moon (which I wasn’t even able to finish collecting, because the moon mysteriously vanished from the night sky.  Thanks, light pollution), and some title cards of Moon “puns” (as is said in “Resolution.”, these aren’t puns.  They’re not even plays on words).

We’ve already talked about “No!” being a predecessor of this piece, but I think the greater predecessor is “I Don’t Talk About Music: The Musical” (Another punctuation mark!  I use SO much punctuation!).  Soon, with my project on failed projects failing and everything not quite reaching the titular resolution, it became clear that this was to be another project based on failure.  More specifically, a project based on my failure.  I’ve since been treating this like a “IDTAMTM” Lite.  Whereas the previous film focused on a deeply personal sense of failure to belong and connect and all sorts of other messy things, “Resolution.” would focus primarily on a career-based failure.  So much of these past ten years have been about me growing into and defining myself as an artist, and now that I’m removed from my medium and have made the decision to move away from a career in cinema production, I can’t help but feel a certain loss.  The same loss I feel over the incompletion of Tracy McKnightly.

So I suppose that’s all why I made a movie about why I can’t make movies anymore.  Or maybe I made a film about why I can’t make films anymore.  It all depends on whether I’m One or The Other.  But at least one thing is certain: I shot for the moon and blew it all up.

Grand Island 07-05-15

 

I’m beginning to move into more exploration with my bends than the bending itself, this Grand Island glitch of a crab being an exploration of bending each color (RGB) separately.  The result is a fascinating bit that evokes a haunted security tape, that by glimpsing this crab on the beach we’ve somehow glimpsed into an extra-dimensional rift that’s destroying the fabric of reality itself.  The smattering of this reality boundary continues to be the thing I’m most interested with in these bends, and it’s something I hope to continue to explore.

The only regret that I have with this bend is that with all of the ensuing pixels, rainbow shatters, and freezes that the footage of the crab itself gets a bit lost.  With most of my other footage this doesn’t matter too much, as the footage for these bends is much like the footage for any other film, merely a tool for exploration and (in more narrative works).  The main difference for this ghost crab then is that I liked the little guy, I thought he was pretty cute.

I Don’t Talk About Music: The Musical

Let’s have a conversation!

Okay!

YOU.

No, YOU.

Okay… me.

For those of you who are following the journey of The Tape, the above was Andrew’s summation of what this “conversation” has been.  For those who have followed my analyses of the past entries, you know that for the most part I’ve been seeing them as a way of visualizing the internet itself.  Well, that is until “Missing“.  With Missing we started a new conversation, marked both by the overwhelming honesty of it and how deeply personal the film was to Andrew.  This was also marked because the old tape, the one with “I Got the Poops” to “Powerful Magics” on it that was inscribed with wacky magical runes and everything was destroyed.

This new conversation took me by surprise.  I had planned for a lot of thing in between Powerful Magics and Missing, but I hadn’t planned on that.  I hadn’t planned on something personal.  How would I respond?  Clearly a lot of the more wacky ideas I had come up with wouldn’t work, clearly I couldn’t just mirror and refract like I did before.  So then how?  By making something personal.

Before you watch the video below, I must warn you that it’s deeply personal and explicit.  For those of you who wish to watch my films and be interested in my genre explorations and digital experimentation that’s perfect and wonderful, but this is not a video for you.  This is a video for anyone who wants to truly know more about me as a human. You may continue at your own choosing and your own risk.


I Don’t Talk About Music: The Musical from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

I don’t like talking about myself, and the very idea that you’ve just watched half an hour that’s all about me is something that a part of me finds disgusting.  However to respond any other way but personally would be to disregard Missing, and it would be to disregard Andrew.  That was something I didn’t want.  But IDTAM:TM is more than a simple need to reply to a video that one person will see.  This correspondence, though presumably just between Andrew and I, has always been open and these videos are always available for anyone to see.  So why make a video that I find deeply uncomfortable and whose subject matter deeply bothers me if I know it will be seen?  1) I’m not 100% sure this will be seen; and 2) Because I need to say this.  I needed to make this video.  Now that it’s released I’m not going to lie and say that I’m Okay, but I feel like I can start moving forward.

So now, let’s move into looking at what this film is.  And it’s a bit of a mess.  I have hours and hours of footage related to this project on my computer, enough to probably make an entirely different movie about an entirely different subject matter.  Going into the reply I knew that I’d answer Andrew’s plea for “The Truth”, but for me there’s a reason I don’t like telling the whole truth: It’s painful.  It’s painful because the Truth, so much as it exists (and one of the things I’ve been coming to realize is that truth is something very ill-defined), is that as difficult as these past years have been for Andrew they’ve also been difficult for me.  Going back to CSF, graduating, working several minimum-wage jobs, getting shouted at and demeaned by 12 year-olds — things haven’t been going my way.  I don’t know if this is “true” or “false”, or rather I’m not sure how much of this is out of my control and how much of this is my own attitude towards events that have happened.   So life is messy. Life is complicated. Life is sad,  Life is something I haven’t really ever been prepared for.

So naturally I’ve been thinking about ending life.  This was the truth.  This was what I would look at. This would be my Self-Portrait.

So why the mess?  Part of this is the problem presented in the film itself: I’m tasked with replying to a film, so if I throw out everything about the previous entries and the means of communication that we’ve set up then I wouldn’t be replying to it.  But If I were to just copy the structure of Missing then I wouldn’t be staying true and I would lose the point.  It was a damned if I do, Damned if I don’t scenario, and as always when I come the clearing with two paths I decided to take the road never traveled and make my own.  I decided to do both.  After all, this is a Self-Portrait, and one of the things I can tell you about me, the true me, is that I’m a self-contradictory mess.  There are plenty of nods to “Missing” in this piece, from the very opening mirror (I had a better sync up where my face was exactly half of Andrew’s, but I think it came at the wrong part of the song? Maybe the camera ran out of batteries?), to the shot of Andrew walking around alone with headphones in, to the cinematic montage of exploration, to the very idea of having personal log entries scattered throughout.  This was a reply to Missing.  It’s also a companion piece to Powerful Magics.  Look at it this way: If Powerful Magics is the Great and Powerful Oz, then IDTAM:TM is the Man Behind the Curtain.  Powerful Magics was about, among other things, putting on a show and showing off expertise and- perhaps one of the main things- magic.  IDTAM:TM Mirrors a lot of the segmented nature and jumping around that Powerful Magics did, hell it even has a musical breakdown in the middle of it and an experimental deconstruction.  You can even go all the way back to the first pair of videos in this correspondence for references in IDTAM:TM with the reintroduction of Pokemon and Disney films into the discussion.  There are plenty of cosmetic and structural references to the prior pieces all over IDTAM:TM, to the point where it can very well be argued that I did nothing but remix and regurgitate everything that came before.  Gimmicks abound in this piece.

It’s also one of the most outwardly honest and open pieces I’ve made and probably ever will make.  It’s a half-hour straight of a straightforward discussion of my insecurities as a filmmaker and a person and how those insecurities came to be.  It’s a discussion of the idea of friendship and connection and how it has been a topic of pain for me, especially in these past few years.  This film is where we finally confront the 800 pound gorilla that has always been looming around this discussion (at least for me), which is the closing of CSF and how exactly that effected me, in the short and long term.  The Closing of CSF is something I’m still working through, and it’s not because of the loss of the school.  It’s the loss of friendship I experienced as a side-effect of it.  It’s the painful reality that we all have to face sooner or later: People move on; and for me it seems like people move on a lot more often.  The point of this film is also to explore why this betrayal hit me so hard: because I’ve never felt like I belong in this world, even though by all accounts I should.  To tell the story of my isolation, the school closing, it’s reverberations to this day I had to skip over a few decades worth of explanations as to my actions.  But again, this is meant to be a portrait, not a biography.  But in terms of leading to the climax: my thoughts of suicide and finally going on mood stabilizing medication, the story is very linear and paced out rather well.

But this is also a self-portrait, shaped by individual style and how I see the world.  It’s a world of chaos.  A world where dominoes are carefully set up then stomped on and destroyed, falling in ever more complex patterns.  Mine is a world where I am the video game villain, the mastermind who has little motivation for wanting to ruin everything except for “Thing just didn’t work out”.  Mine is a world where reality can be ripped apart, and throughout the piece the moments of data bending, of sync errors, of dead pixels and duplicating images, they all come together in these moments of stylistic flourish.  They’re also all very deliberate.  True, the sync errors were a constant problem I ran into when exporting this project, but it was something that I could and did fix if needed.  But the dissonance between sound and picture and the removal experienced by the blinks to grey are there to communicate the delicate chaos of our world: One error and we blink to grey.  One blip of code and suddenly what you see as life and what you experience (hear) as life are out of sync, and you do what you can to fix it.  Every moment of pixellation and of bending also serve this point: peeling away layers and exposing these images for the conglomeration of RGB that they are.

Finally, we come to the Jellyfish.  This was come of the most beautiful footage I ever shot, and there’s always an otherworldly elegance to the Jellyfish.  Elegance, danger, and mystery all combine in the nature of the jellyfish in their movement, their sting, and their biology.  They are an ancient creature which has survived through millennia lacking the one organ that I feel defines life: The brain.  So do the jellyfish here represent stupidity, mystery, timelessness, beauty, reaction, survival, or danger?  It’s all that and more depending on where the footage is used and how it’s used, and yes this openness is very much planned.So with all this conflicting structure and conflicting ideas it’s no wonder that the final piece is a mess, and that’s okay.  It’s okay because I think in the end it accomplished all I wanted it to, mainly showing what these six years or so have been like for me in between Powerful Magics and IDTAM:TM.  Because these past few years have been messy.  But I’m starting to be okay with that, and putting this together was a big part in getting here.


So that’s that.  Look forward to a bit of a write-up on how exactly I went about crafting a package for this piece, and I promise that will be a bit closer to my usual analysis of form and how to incorporate references to prior packages and pieces in a meaningful way.  I may also do one final write-up on the state of The Journey of the Tape up until this point.

If you’re interested in Andrew’s thoughts on this piece, I will link to it HERE when it goes live.

As a closing remark, though, I can’t help but feel Andrew got his summation of our conversation wrong.  He’s been ignoring context and a lot of space around the pieces.  Here’s how it’s felt to me:

Are You Okay? (I Got the Poops)

Yeah, Sure! (In Fridge)

Well, Good. Things looked a bit bleak there. (Happy Birthday, Murderer!)

Of Course I’m Okay.  Maybe you’re not Okay! (Powerful Magics)

You’re right. I don’t think I am. (Missing)

Well neither am I.  Sorry. (I Don’t Talk About Music: The Musical)

 

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”.

Bonne Terre Mines 5/30/14

So this is a data bend from a while ago, but currently the last one I have finished.  It’s from the Bonne Terre Mines in Missouri, the largest man-made underground cave structures (although most of the mines are now underwater).  Back in the day they were lead mines.  Now they’re a tourist attraction. And now it’s also a data bend:

 

Even for a series of experiments, this one is much more abstract than some of the others (due in large part because, surprise surprise, there’s not a lot of light underground).  The shimmering and jumping effect, then, becomes even more noticed, as does each extra pixel and splash of “missing green”.  I like it.  I’m also a big fan of the cameo of my brother-in-law Hector at the end as he turns around and is almost stuck in a pixelized time loop.  It’s like a monster from a J-Horror movie about a monster that attacks video pirates.

I’m Tired and My Head Hurts

Here’s a seldom seen one from my time in Boulder.  Part of that is because I’ve never thought very highly of it, part of it is because it’s completely made up of copyrighted material that I don’t necessarily want to break the copyright on. At any rate, it’s a “Film Essay” that I made about the themes of loneliness and alienation in “Meshes of the Afternoon”, “The Cool World”, “Ornette: Made in America”, and “Jeanne Dielmann 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles”.  Let’s take a look at it and see if I’m right about it being sort of boring:

I’m Tired and My Head Hurts from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

No I’m not.  The disjointed nature of the film not only helps keep something like this interesting (I had never heard of film essays before, since then I’ve seen a few and so I know it’s a thing and something that could be sort of neat), but it also helps convey a lot of the ideas on these films and how they can connect visually and metaphorically in a scattered but understandable approach.  Outside of the realm of Video Essay, though, I also think that if nothing else this is a good study on alienation through information, as I included so many layers of video, audio, and text, that it overwhelms the viewer when they can’t keep up with everything (plus, the minute in complete blackness is a nice touch).  So in the end, I suppose I learned today that one of the films I had previously thought was pointless is actually sort of nice.  What did you learn today?

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?

Shrimpocalypse!

I had to make a video exploring the post-apocalyptic landscape.  It also had to have something to do with zombies, maybe?  To top it all off, I was in Boulder with limited resources (I wasn’t an upperclassman, even though I was, and so I didn’t have access to good equipment.  Thanks, University) and I didn’t know many actors around Boulder.  What was I to do? What could I do?  I could create an apocalypse of images. An apocalypse of sound. An apocalypse of Shrimp.

Shrimpocalypse! from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

This is still surprisingly powerful.  It’s connection to the Katrina tragedies (Both before and after the levees broke), it’s connection to the feeling of encroaching doom I had recently experienced (and anyone feels when they’re facing their personal apocalypses), and this is all tied together through image (Mostly photos of water damage acquired through the Wikimedia Commons) and Andrew’s reading which is both simmering in rage and resigned to doom.  I do think the narration and the film goes on a bit too long, and we don’t need much explanation for why or how this happened (also, I don’t think many of us would know or care why the world had ended).  Still, though, I’d say this is another strong entry in the Henceforth filmography.

Once Upon a Time in Wisconsin

I hate Kraft American Singles.  They are not cheese. They are some sort of hideous amalgamation of chemicals that taste horrible, just awful.  So I decided to animate a story on them.  This came form a writing warm-up I did on my own time, I can’t even remember when or what larger piece I was working on at the time, but I remember that I just wrote this quickly in an afternoon.  Later I decided to adapt it for a class on narratives; I’d tell you the exact assignment but I can’t really even remember that anymore.  But I do remember this piece, and I do remember the horrible smell of cheese as I scanned each horrible sliver.  Was it worth the torture?  Let’s take a look:

Once Upon a Time in Wisconsin from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

Yes. Yes it was.  I enjoy this piece immensely, and I’d put this in my “under-appreciated and unseen classics” category.  First I actually enjoy the weird effect the paint on cheese has, as it gives it a strange bit of depth, like acetone sheets if they were yellow blocks of maybe-milk.  I also think the narration adds a nice touch to the story (I have a love-hate relationship with my performances, but this one is alright), adding a menacing twilight-zone-esque feel to the tale of Marty turning into cheese.  I’m not sure if there’s anything I’d change about it , it’s far from perfect, but for a project made for an unknown assignment it turned out just fine. It’s also a style, the photomontage, that I’d like to revisit with another story.  I think it’s a form that could use another go around and certainly something easy to do now that I’m all on my own.  How about you, internet?  How do like this odd little cheese-story?  How do you like Kraft American Singles?  What do you think the title of this piece should have been, because I’ll admit the title is pretty terrible?