A few weeks ago my friend Adam came to me with a video concept. He is releasing an album this February under the name Apt and wanted me to help him make some shorts to promote the show and release of the album. His concept for the videos was simple: Adam reciting a verse from his album acappella + different location for each song + black & white.
The project interested me because I felt like Adam had thought it out enough for it to have some substance, but still left me creative room to feel like I wasn’t just someone he knew with a DSLR that shot video.
Also because he said the magic words: Black & white. I love black & white.
A few nights before filming I scouted out some places around Provo. I wanted to stay away from an overly gritty feel, which I think would be disingenuous, but also wasn’t interested in filming anything that was too, for lack of a better term BYU-y. (Rap while hiking the “Y”, getting frozen yogurt or going on a scavenger hunt anyone?) Luckily there are enough places with character in Provo that I didn’t have to work too hard to find suitable locations to shoot.
The night that we filmed these was cold, cold, cold, so we rushed filming more then we probably should have, but I’m still delighted with the results. Adam is a performer and didn’t have any trouble nailing what he needed to do.
We thought about dubbing in audio after, but on review of the footage I found that I really liked what the ambiance the on camera audio brought. In these ads you can hear dogs barking, train horns, cars, footsteps and lots of other gratuitous city noises that would normally be considered unwelcome. In this case I think it works, since these videos are supposed to have more of a grassroots feel.
The thing I was most excited for was the color conversion. Why? Because Adobe has heard and answered my prayers, releasing Lightroom 4 Beta with the capability to do color correction on video. There is lots of software out there that can edit video beautifully, but the problem is that I don’t know how to use that software. I’ve been working almost exclusively with Lightroom ever since it came out and have been a pretty loyal user of the program. I’m really excited to see what I can do with these new tools.
There’s a learning curve involved because compressed video doesn’t have the natural color latitude that a raw photo does, but I’m learning to work within those bounds. It will take some getting used to however.
All things considered, I’m really excited with how these turned out. For the time we spent on these I think they turned out beautifully. Most importantly I feel like I’ve learned a little more about video after making these.
I’m definitely considering this work a success and am thrilled that I consistently get the chance to work with such talented people, who I often can consider friends.
Adam is releasing his album Do Yourself In on February 4. Preorder it here or get it after the release date here. If you’re in Utah and you don’t come to the show at Muse Music Cafe you’ll really be blowing it.
Next post is about shooting his album cover. Look for it soon.
These are some test shots I made of Cody Rigby yesterday. I asked him to model for me in the studio so I could try a few things out in preparation for my shoot with Adam Hochhalter. Adam, better know as Apt, is releasing an album February 4th and has asked me to shoot the cover.
I’m excited to work with Adam, but also a little apprehensive. I’ve never really been interested in shooting with flash (if you look at my other photography blog, you’ll see that almost every photo there is naturally lit) until I was recently encouraged to by Mark Johnston.
Tomorrow is a new year and one of my photography related resolutions is to get good at using flash. Besides, the vision for the cover that Adam has would be best served by me shooting him in a different way then I’ve shot anyone else before. I think that it’s important that I try new things, even if they don’t initially appeal to me. I should really be doing everything I can to improve my skill set as a photographer.
In addition to the photos I’ve been making for Back Chat, we’ve also decided to start experimenting with making a promotional video for each show. The format is a simple one, featuring behind the scenes footage of models getting painted and info about the show. The videos are meant to be fun & easily digestible, hopefully piquing the curiosity of potential attendees & fans.
This is the first promo video I made. Since I didn’t have the idea to make a advert for the show until after the shoot, this first edit is cobbled together with found footage, which is an aesthetic that I’m finding I like. I really love the audio in this video. Cody Rigby, the front man for Back Chat, does such a good job keeping momentum going.
My skill as a cinematographer is still very much in its infancy. The process of knowing what I need shoot and how to make a good edit with what I have is still very foreign to me. I don’t feel like I’ve nailed a video yet, but I think they’re getting better. To me, the important thing is that I’m learning something new every time I make one.
Marit Kemppainen is featured in my second attempt. I think the overall quality of the edit is tighter, but I feel like the visual excitement doesn’t quite match the mood of the audio. That probably has to do with the naked bass line, which is smooth like silk, but could probably use another musical element.
The reason we’re making these videos is two fold. The first is to entice people to come to the show, the second is to help raise the profile of the band. It’s hard to measure the success of things like this, right now we have no idea if they’re serving to do much of anything, but we learn something new from every idea we try and we’ll keep experimenting with new promotional avenues.
I count any project a success if I’ve learned something from it. I’d rather leave an experience as a wiser failure then a timid success.
This Friday four amazing bands (Back Chat, The New Electric Sound, Tighty Willis and Bus People) are going to knock the roof off Muse. Don’t be that person who missed out, that person is lame. Finals are over, have some fun.
(There’s going to be a new split EP featuring The New Electric Sound, Tighty Willis, Back Chat & Lynn Damien for sale at the show! That’s 7 songs for $ 5.00. A STEAL, MY ECONOMICALLY AWARE FRIEND.)
(Like this post too, the cool kids are doing it.)
Since getting a camera that shoots video, I’ve been working with some friends on more personal projects. Yesterday, my friend Chance Lewis released his debut rap album Underdogg. To promote yesterdays show & album release we made a video parodying the tropes and cliches often seen in Kickstarter videos.
We released the video about two weeks ago and received praise from a lot of people. The 100 Block Podcast (Listen for my shout out about 23 minutes in!) guys even came out and said they liked the video publicly, which is proving to be pretty ballsy, since we took on a rather well known artist in the video. It was cool to see that people got the joke.
Of course there is always a dissenting opinion with these sorts of ultra-controversial projects, and this one was no different. While local liker of music Andrea Fierro thought our parody was “Brilliant,” Tate Law was “confused as to why a hip-hop group has such a problem with a emo pop singer.”
If you think we have a problem with an “emo pop singer” (not my words), then you’re missing the point.
Let’s get real for a moment.
Neither I, or anyone else who helped with the project have any problem with Kickstarter (or the people who use it to fund their art.) Being an artist is expensive and often not lucrative, especially in the early days of an artists career. The problem with so many Kickstarter projects is the way that artists approach their fundraising campaign. Either they treat the life of their project as a do-or-die scenario, where there’s no possible way that they could actually fund their own album (“jobs are scarce! Give us your money!”) or they pretend that the work they’re making is a gift sent from above. It’s like project backers are supposed to be grateful for the chance to pledge.
I loath the idea that there are artist out there who are so sure that what they create is like, the most important thing evar. The beauty of Kickstarter is that friends and fans come together to show that they believe in someone so strongly that they’ll put money on the table, often before any work has been done. This is a great act of faith and should be treated as such. The people who back your project should be treated like gold, not thought of as receivers of a grand gift. As artists, we’re lucky when we can make a living doing what we love to do.
When your Kickstarter takes off and you’re making cash hand over fist, remember that the person being given the gift is you. Don’t fucking forget that.
So, we’re not making fun of raising money on Kickstarter, we’re just trying to say that it sometimes seems like there’s a dearth of humility in the air.
Ok, back to being a dick.
Apparently Tate didn’t think it was funny that we made fun of his band. Obviously we couldn’t let that stand, so Caroline has the idea to make these shirts.
Wassup dude, we take the jokes you can’t take and make meta jokes about your indignation, hype guy.
Like. This. Shit.
(Buy. This. Shit.)
Harriet Tubman And Some Virgins
Businessman, Mormon, conservative provocateur and artist, John McNaughton recently released a new painting. Via Dolorosa (Way of Suffering) follows the precedent his recent work has set, dividing all the world’s population into three groups: Republicans (good people), mass murderers (bad people), and Democrats (mass murderers.)
Among the figures depicted in Via Dolorosa are Fidel Castro, Leo Tolstoy, Joesph Stalin, George Bush, Mohmoud Ahmadinejad, Osama bin Laden, Barack Obama (second time!), L. Ron Hubbard, Kim Jong Il, Vlad the Impaler, Adolf Hitler, J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Darwin, Joseph Smith and in a fit of piety, the artist himself.
At first glance McNaughton’s work is vaguely humorous. The Forgotten Man features president Obama pouting in the center of the frame while leaders of our past past plead with him to “stop being so liberal. . . and maybe be a little less black” is an odd, surreal scene indeed. Then there’s another of his make-historical-figures-surround-someone paintings with Christ as the subject, a hardworking farmer on his right and on his left is a liberal professor, holding The Origin of Species and 50 Ways to Skin a Baby: An Abortionist’s Cookbook.
That’s a great book by the way.
The more I discuss and think about these paintings, the stranger I find them. Why is no one actually doing anything in these paintings? Why are there so few women represented in his work? (I counted seven, Harriet Tubman and some virgins.) How could someone think these paintings were a good idea? Why does he keep making such bad art? Who is buying this stuff?
In truth, I really don’t care about the answers to those questions. Not enough women in the painting? Whatever, it’s a dumb painting anyway. Who is buying these up? Old people.
I do, however have a real problem with Via Dolorosa and work like it.
– – –
Good art contains nuance and perspective. It teaches and compels and shows us how to see in new ways. Religious art is about becoming closer to your God and having a renewal of faith. It should inspire and broaden and teach values like compassion and understanding.
McNaughton’s art does none of that. It tells you what to think, leaving no room for outside opinion or discussion. It’s uncreative, ham-fisted, bigoted, judgmental, self indulgent and most importantly, most of all, it’s blasphemous.
John McNaughton makes paintings of Jesus with Republicans. He creates propaganda masquerading as religious work. He uses his God as a political vessel, profiting off of the fear and distrust that partisan politics breeds.
I grew up in the LDS faith, but no longer believe. I consider Mormons my people, but not my religion. I have always felt welcome (if misunderstood) in LDS settings and I don’t look to be offended. Most people, most of the time want to do the right thing.
But I truly do not understand his work and his goals. It makes me feel hated. I feel belittled and diminished for my liberalism, for my Atheism, for my attitudes towards gender, marriage and government.
I don’t understand how someone could possibly claim this to be a religious piece of art.
Religion is about compassion and forgiveness and understanding. After all, Christianity is based upon the idea that we are all sinners and that no man is above any other. Understanding and compassion are integral to leading a healthy life. Without such traits, the world becomes a much darker place.
– – –
Now, I spent some time trying to think of a snappy one-liner to end this essay with, but nothing would come. Instead I’ll throw a gauntlet.
Mr. McNaughton, the art you do is tasteless, trite and without depth, but it would be unfair of me to say those things without my being willing to listen. So here’s the deal. Call me up, we’ll go to lunch and you can tell me why I’m wrong.
For an example of good religious art check out work by Brian Kershisnik.
I guess I never linked to John McNaughton’s art, so here is a very SEO conscious link to some of his dumb artwork. Click the first verse of 99 Problems by Jay-Z to be whisked away to that site.
I got the rap patrol on the gat patrol
Foes that wanna make sure my casket’s closed
Rap critics they say he’s “Money Cash Hoes”
I’m from the hood stupid, what type of facts are those
If you grew up with holes in ya zapatos
You’d be celebrating the minute you was havin’ dough
I’m like fuck critics you can kiss my whole asshole
If you don’t like my lyrics you can press fast forward
I got beef with radio if i don’t play they show
They don’t play my hits i don’t give a shit SO
Rap mags try and use my black ass
So advertisers can give ’em more cash for ads, fuckers
I don’t know what you take me as,
Or understand the intelligence that Jay-Z has
I’m from rags to ritches niggas I ain’t dumb
I got 99 problems but a bitch ain’t one
I try not to be a stranger to Lynn’s Basement.
The barely-there, bare bulbs and crunchy, melodic couches are a perfect fit for the venue. There’s a certain unfinished, je ne sais quoi to the place. Big enough for band practice, intimate enough for cuddling while watching Short Circuit 2, Lynn’s Basement is everything it should be.
Venues often run the risk of creating a homogenous atmosphere. They are either filled with too much homeless, old world kitsch or bound and gagged by what a bunch of hardcore idiots think is ironically down. Picture stop signs, door mounted basketball hoops and lava lamps.
There were two main events at Lynn’s Basement this evening, pizza and Nintendo. We started late because Lynn had to work that night and wasn’t off until 12:00. Before any hanging could commence, I had to pick up Martin, who would subsequently pick up Pizza.
If you’re not already on to Domino’s, you’re missing out. Even though the piercing-but-vacant stare that all the employees inexplicably share made me uneasy, I still rep $5 pizzas. The catchy, bet-you-can’t-eat-just-one hooks keep you going and the greasy pepperoni that just refuses to quit will keep you coming back. I’m going to say it now, pizza in Utah is here to stay, look for it in the future because it’s just going to get bigger.
By the time my group arrived at Lynn’s Basement, a discussion of 90’s era things was already in full effect. I sat on the floor and started eating while the less frequently seen members of our party made astute observations about how infrequently they all see each other and how quaint it was to be back in the realm of Tijuana Bible. At some point I made Martin laugh by insinuating that Emily was trying to change me (a feat many women have tried.)
After I conquered all pizza that was within eyesight, I challenged any and all fools to a round of Mario Kart. Since all were sorely afraid of my wrathful red turtle shells of destruction and vengeful lightning bolts of character shrinkage, I was forced to play alone.
Mario Kart 64 is a great game. It’s Nintendo’s Sophomore release for the franchise and they really outdid themselves this round. Plug this cartridge into your system and you’ll find an explosive, captivating ride from start to finish, with just enough grit to keep any player, young or old hooked. My favorite tracks on this release are Toads Turnpike (it feels like you’re really on the freeway!), Moo Moo Farm (simple, fast and in your face) Bowser’s Castle (FAST) and Royal Raceway (mega air dudes!) Mark my works, Mario Kart is going to be one for the ages.
But this night, like any other, had to come to an end. Mr. Wiberg informed us that he had to get up when it was still morning, which meant that we had to vacate the premises. Knowing Lynn’s charitable nature (and being the master negotiator that I am), I bargained for one last race between Landon, Martin and I (despite their better angels urging them to not take on such a foolhardy task, Landon and Martin were eventually compelled to join me in multiplayer.)
Rainbow Road! The longest track in the game! How did you “accidentally” end up being chosen?
The night ended with a pleasing whistle as I, Yoshi, was the first to cross the finish line.
All things considered, I give this night of hanging out a solid 8/10.
Maybe I’ll write a real essay next week?!?
This is sort of supposed to be a parody of that dumb Provo Music Blog, so if you thought this article sucked, pretend it’s because you don’t like that blog I’m supposed to be parodying.
I should say that I think it’s important that Provo have an online place to rally our music scene around and I applaud anyone who has gone to the effort of trying to make that happen. I do not, however, think that Mike Lewis Barker and provomusic.blogspot.com have added any value. Yet.
Lynn sent me a text a few hours after this posted. Apparently he and his fiance were watching Short Circuit 2 as they sat down to read this post. Nailed it.
I could write a space adventure fan fic.
Trevor Christensen: Intrepid Space War Photographer.
Um. That would be the coolest job.
Although, I think it would be pretty risky.
I feel like the dangers of space would mess things up pretty quick.
Well look at war photographers right now
You’re either embedded or on your own.
If you’re embedded, you still don’t like like the solders. And in the wars today, big bombs aren’t being dropped.
It’s snipers, pot shots and IED’s.
Which are relatively easy to avoid VS. space battle.
Which, traditionally is big explosions.
(I mean, it’s hard to compare since one of these things aren’t real.)
Most solders try not to hit journlists.
Well, of course things would explode bigger in space.
Because they don’t have guns. You want to kill the guy with the gun.
But say I’m embedded in space.
That means I’m on the ship.
There’s no real going on patrol where we leave a craft.
And become individuals.
There are more things that can go wrong.
Trevor. Write about this.
Space photography sounds pretty boring.
You’re pretty much done.
Because you have to use your telephoto.
Almost all of the time.
There’s not running around behind bunkers.
It’s just sitting on a ship, taking photos of cadets pushing buttons.
“Why I Don’t Want to Be A Space War Photographer”
by Trevor M. Christensen.
I got nothing.
I’m just going to post this conversation.
You just wrote the whole thing!
Alex Pow is a Hamster Master.
I was going to write this thing about nostalgia and be really deep and stuff, but whoops, I didn’t actually write the piece. I just thought about writing it.
So that’s why this weeks post is a half-assed list about a full-assed song.
A List Of Things I Like About LOSTPROPHETS – Last Train Home.
1. Photography brings them together.
2. I listen to things like the Arcade Fire and The Social Network soundtrack. So I need to make it clear that I could listen to this song every day, without irony, for the rest of my life and completely enjoy it.
3. I don’t think I’ve ever had a day nearly as frantic OR punk as this in my entire life. Where do I have to move to have a day like this? Portland? Seattle? LA? WHERE IS MY CITY FULL OF PUNKFRIENDSHIPGLORY?!?
4. If I started wearing wristbands would people think it was funny? Are we far enough away from them that it would be taken as ironic?
5. Some keywords that aren’t important enough for their own numbers. Keyboardsinger. Wristbands. Cute-shy-female-protagonist. Bleach-dreadlock-girl. Dreadlocks-headphone-chill-skate-guy.
6. I only spot a train in this video a few times. That’s surprisingly subtle.
7. Broke-ass car, but we have each other.
8. Gratuitous use of BMX.
8 1/2. All use of BMX is gratuitous.
9. Hella bros backin you up.
10. You know what illustrates non-conformity more then any other pattern?
Fuckin’ black & white striped socks, that’s what.
11. Spikes are a close second though.
First of all, lets go over some assumptions and history about the show, Dino-Friends.
- I’m assuming that dinosaurs, using a dino-time machine, have traveled through time to befriend me. None of this frog DNA crap, these are real dinosaurs.
- In this scenario I live in a city, the city is New York City, but because of 9/11 the name is never explicitly stated. (Shows set in suburbia are boring, everyone knows that.)
- In this scenario I’m ten. I live with my down to earth mother and eccentric inventor grandfather in the Bronx. I have an undying, insatiable love for the in-show snack, Cheez Popz. My Dino-Friends and I will do anything for Cheez Popz.
- Spike Jonze directs one episode which is nominated for an Emmy. It loses to Foul Play, a show about a penguin ninjas baseball team.
- After season 5 things start to go down hill because head writer goes to rehab for his cocaine addiction. That, and a failed spinoff about the origins of Dino-Friends brings both shows off the air. The original Dino-Friends goes into syndication on Adult Swim, but due to low ratings is quickly put back on the market.
And now I present to you: The Pros and Cons of Being Friends with Dinosaurs.
Cons. Inevitably, if dino-friends have traveled through time to befriend me, someone is going to have to learn a few lessons along the way. Depending on how the character structure is laid out, I’m either going to be the dumb kid who keeps stealing petty good, hitting girls and disrespecting authority. Later on I will learn to deal with my anger, but forget as soon as those 21 1/2 minutes are up.
IF my Dino-Friends are the characters learning the lessons instead of me, then inevitably \ no one will ever listen to me. I’ll end up being the 10 year old who TOLD YOU TO NOT STEAL THAT CANDY BAR, DUMBASS.
My choice is to be the center of attention (but dumb), or smart and never heard.
Pros. Inevitably, if dino-friends have traveled through time to befriend me, some pretty cool things are possible. I’m talking about xtreme-flaming-robot-moon-travel-friendship things.
Cons. Inter species marriage, Jurassic Suffrage, zoning laws. Being a dinosaur in a world meant for humans is going to be hard. I’m not really in the mood for a story arc about claiming my T-Rex as a dependent. Our legal system is not built for this sort of thing.
Pros. 1st dinosaur president.
Dealing with Bully’s.
Cons. Litigation, lawsuits.
Pros. Eat the prosecution.
In conclusion, a show about me being friends with dinosaurs is a good idea.
This is the piece Landon wrote.
Here is the Twitter conversation between me, Alex Pow and Landon Young that led to the birth of this essay. Tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet.
Illustration by Martin Bradshaw.
On a women’s forum I posted this question:
“What is the most thoughtful thing your significant other has ever done for you?”
I didn’t expect every story to be candle-lit dinners and public proclamations of love, but I still found myself surprised at how little those traditionally romantic acts were represented.
One girl described how when her elderly mother was coming to live with them, her boyfriend placed nightlights all over the house. Another cited a heartfelt letter her boyfriend had written her. One woman talked about her SO getting up earlier then his schedule required to make coffee for her.
My favorite is the the guy who made a two-story cat house out of the packaging a steam cleaner came in. I know, right? Romeo.
Even the larger gestures mentioned weren’t really the traditionally romantic kind. Driving long distances and helping out with rent. Great things to do, but not really what we as a culture think of when the word “romantic” is brought up.
That’s because rose petals and fancy dinners and boxes of chocolate are all terribly romantic, but at their core they are also deeply impersonal. Yes, they can be markers of love, but they represent love without personality, gestures that are completely interchangeable.
– – –
A friend once told me that I was “always thinking.” This is, perhaps, one of the nicest things that’s ever been said about me. I was completely touched (and pleased) that she had said that.
The interesting thing about that complement is I would never have guessed that phrase would have meant so much to me, but on that night, with that girl, in that car, I was floored. Had she said that to someone else, on some other night, it almost certainly would not have had the effect it had on me. Context is meaning.
Which I think is interesting.
Meaningful gestures carry so much weight, not because of the action alone, but because of what it represents. A sole act is just that: alone. Only through a long lens it it possible to understand the true shape of the relationship. Love, trust and friendship don’t exist without a history. Only as time passes do these acts take meaning.
– – –
I like to write letters.
It’s a nice thing, to take a hard look a relationship and understand the value I find in my friends. It’s a nice thing to try to put the culmination of the relationship into words. The letters that I write help me understand myself as much as the people they are addressed to.
To me, the most important thing about a letter is its inherent intimacy. A good letter, a really good letter, is for one person, from one person. At its core it is about love and friendship and history.
– – –
My point is, Valentine’s Day is a good because it gives us a reason to look at the other 364 days of the year.
Grand gestures are good and have a place. They don’t happen every day, though. Early morning brewing and nightlights and cardboard cat houses, that’s what love looks like.
“You’re always thinking” is one of the best complements I’ve ever received. Another favorite is when I was referred to as “the Batman of the Internet.”