Archive for the 'photography' Category
I just finished my first music video. I shot it last Summer in West LA for the band Coastline Apparition with a Canon 5D Mark II and a Black Magic Pocket camera. I color graded and cut it in DaVinci Resolve and finished it in Adobe After Effects.
The piece features Swedish model Chloe Cole trying to find a future in a place that has a lot to offer but wont give anything away. This seemed to be a perfectly appropriate subject matter to frame the song with a visual narrative, and it gave Chloe a canvas to perform a fictional character that was close enough to her real self.
Some time in the nineteen fifties a serious attempt was made to bring stereoscopic photography to the masses. Stereoscopic photography faces similar adoption challenges to 3D movies and Virtual Reality because up to this point there is no easy way to experience any of them without attaching a contraption to your face. An interesting note is that while 3D movies and Virtual Reality are fairly recent, stereoscopic photography has been around since the eighteen fifties, and even commercial viewers were mass produced back then.
In my quest to learn how to make my own Virtual Reality work, I got interested in the display of stereoscopic photography in VR. Inspired by the idea that properly placed in VR space, a stereoscopic photo can feel a lot like a VR sculpture of VR hologram, a moment frozen in time with a large potential to make the viewer feel “there with it” as opposed to just looking at a flat projection of it in a two dimensional picture.
While I was looking for cheap and easy stereoscopic camera systems I came across the historical mid twentieth century consumer cameras, and it was easier for me —or at least more reliable/fun/interesting— to get my hands on a couple of film cameras and start taking pictures than to find a digital solution. Eventually I came across a smartphone solution in Kickstarter that worked fairly well, but not before I was already shooting stereoscopic 35mm film all over the place. Here is an inventory of my stereoscopic gadgetry:
- Revere Stereo 33 35mm Camera Released around 1953. In perfect condition. Works great.
- Stereo Realist by the David White Company, available from 1947 to 1971. In perfect condition. Works great.
- Poppy 3D for iPhone via Kickstarter. This works great too. Except it’s a little painful to manage the files. Overall easier than shooting film, developing it, scanning it and putting it together for digital viewing, but it could be easier on the viewing/playback aspect of the product.
Once I had my pictures, the next step was to build a program that could let me look at them through a VR headset. Since I have no time or interest to learn how to use a game engine, I was left with only one option: the web browser and WebGl/ThreeJS. I already knew there are experimental builds of Firefox and Chrome that are compatible with the Oculus Rift DK2 headset, and I also wanted something that could run on a mobile browser for Google Cardboard viewing. I knew where to get sample boilerplates from the VR Chrome team and Mozilla, so all I had left to do was to find a way to feed two textures onto the same piece of geometry while rendering for each eye. Luckily I found a code example that did just that, and it didn’t take me long to adjust it to my needs. You can find the code here (Stereovision).
My Stereo Realist after a photo session
Stereovision for Cardboard on my iPhone. Featured photo taken with the Stereo Revere
Stereovision screenshot. Left and right images are rendered for the corresponding eye
I just obtained my own Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera from Black Magic Design. What a beauty. In spite of all it’s limitations, and how difficult it might seem to achieve The Perfect Shot with it, I have been completely seduced by the detail and depth of RAW video, and what it does in combination with hardcore professional optics.
In addition to this, I learned that Black Magic Design offers a free version of DaVinci Resolve, their state of the art color correction software. This has kept me awake more than a few nights lately, and I suspect it will continue to do so.
I can’t help but find it fascinating that extremely sophisticated digital technologies like RAW video and high end color correction software have already become available to the average consumer. This is nothing new; in the past ten years it’s happened all around us in all aspects of industry, but I still stand in awe every time a new digital milestone has been reached. Coming from a background in film, and having personally struggled with digital post production technologies through the nineties, I sometimes find it hard to believe that I can sit in a coffee shop and run software like DaVinci Resolve in my little laptop while I enjoy my espresso.
I will be uploading Black Magic Experiments to my flickr feed on a regular basis.
I don’t like to be forced to grant a permanent all purpose license over my content, so I decided to stop posting photos on Instagram after the recent update to their terms of service.
I will not delete my account, and I might change my mind about this, but I don’t plan to take any more photos on Instagram. This makes me a bit sad, because there is definitely no substitute for me to post casual descriptions of my life to share with many of my close friends.
From now on, I’ll probably limit myself to use Instagram the same way I use facebook, to keep in touch with friends, leave occasional comments, and “like” some of their stuff.
Two years and 3023 photos. I was two pictures short from having 55×55=3025 Instagram photos. Who cares, perfection is always elusive. On the other hand, 3023 is a pretty sweet prime number.
[Update: This work was just published in Estrella Cercana].
A pretty disturbing event was taking place in Puebla next door to the location where I gave a talk in the Gira TelmexHub two weeks ago, some kind of family weekend entertainment put together by the mexican military, where you and your kids were allowed to play with guns, bazookas and all kinds of other weaponry. Strange days indeed. Lots of grandmothers, toddlers, machine guns and helicopters. My friend Gabriella and I spent some time taking pictures of this event. The following contact sheet features some of the pics I took.
I cant help but wonder if turning the childhood playground of a nation’s generation into a militarized carnival is the right answer to the escalating criminal violence Mexico has been experiencing lately.