Archive for February, 2013

Drei Deutsche Kunstler…

February 26, 2013

Last weekend my good buddy Sebastian and I made the relatively short trek to Birmingham for the Alabama Clay Conference. I went last year for the first time and was very impressed by the conference as a whole and especially the artists chosen to present. This year was very much the same thing with three extremely talented and personable artists. Although I’m sure it was not intended, there was a certain Germanic flavor to the conference with Gerit Grimm, Kirt Weiser and Dirk Staschke. OK, Mr. Staschke might not be of German descent but still all those hard Ks and Rs really sound that way. Anyway, it was a whirlwind of events starting with a large clay sale by Alabamans to a symposium put on by the Birmingham Art Museum which included lectures by Magdalene Odundo and Garth Clark amongst others to the artist’s reception at the museum to the pint exchange at the local brewery. Here’s a piece of Magdalene Odundo…

odundo

Here’s some shots of the artists’ demonstrations…

alcc

alcc

alcc

alcc

The following pic of Dirk was an accident but I’m posting here anyway because the flames of the logo on the screen behind him looks like there’s flames coming out of his head…

alcc

I wish I had a pic of Gerit Grimm’s piece finished but it was very blurry when I downloaded it. Regardless here’s her pieces that were in the museum…

alcc

alcc

alcc

alcc

Next up are Dirk’s pieces. The first one’s a bit blurry too and there’s a much better picture of it here. It’s a very large piece…

alcc

alcc

alcc

Last but definitely not least are Mr. Weiser’s pieces…

alcc

alcc

alcc

alcc

alcc

alcc

All three presenters were very engaging and funny. Being a Decemberists fan, my favorite story of Kirt Weiser’s was about the Archie Bray and that Colin Meloy (the lead singer of the Decemberists) is the grandson of Peter Meloy who was one of the founders of the Bray. So all in all, the conference was excellent all round. And as I’ve said before the Birmingham Art Museum is a stellar museum with a fantastic ceramics collection. I’ll post a few shots of favorites but if you get a hankerin’ go here to see all the pics I took at the museum.

bam

bam

bam

bam

Advertisements

How I Ruined TV And Films Forever…

February 17, 2013

And maybe if you’re lucky, I’ll ruin it for you too. It’s actually quite doubtful that I could ruin it for you but you never know. So here’s the phenomenon in question. If you have any experience with video or film production you probably know already that it is much more expensive to have actors on the clock when all they are doing is standing with their back to the camera while the camera is shooting other people (or more commonly another person) in what’s known as an “over the shoulder” shot. So to save money the filmmakers shoot only the scenes where it’s absolutely necessary to see both actors. Then they have each actor come back separately and do the “over the shoulder” shots. Of course, for continuity’s sake, they put something in the lower corner of the screen thus giving the illusion that that other actor (who is actually not present that day) is hearing and reacting to what the actor whose face you can see is talking to. Here’s an example…

overtheshoulder

Now the red hair here could be the actual other person in the scene but more likely it’s either a crewmember with similar colored hair or it could simply be some hair inserted by a computer graphics specialist. There are all sorts of solutions like this one…

ots shot

I mean really, it’s just blackness and not difficult to approximate with modern editing equipment. OK, so onward. Sometimes (and it’s becoming more and more frequent), in scenes where they show two people conversing, they show both people/then over the shoulder (ots) of one/then ots of the other/then both again and on and on. What happens to me is I start focusing on the dark blobs in the lower corners of the screen eventually having to rewind the movie to hear what they said because I was paying too much attention to the blobs and whether not they are moving, that the filmmakers had taken the time to make the blob the correct color or even that the same objects are on a table in the background as there were in the scene that had both actors. I’d like to point out here that this problem of focusing has nothing whatsoever to do with cannabinoids. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. As the movie progresses and I’m thinking to myself… “stop stop stop paying attention to the blobs and pretend you’re not noticing them and immerse yourself in the movie”. At some point it seems almost impossible. The next plateau is now it becomes painfully obvious that the actor present in the “over the shoulder” shot is really a solo person on the set completely alone aside from the crew that has to be there to shoot the scene. Once this leap has been made, the acting loses it’s quality and the actor seems to be emoting or overdoing it (because you know the person they’re talking to isn’t present). Then I start thinking about the problems actors must have shooting all their scenes out of order and how they need to remember where they were to make the ots shot seamlessly attach to the surrounding shots. Maybe a better example is needed. The following stills are from a typical movie where a reporter is interviewing someone. I wish I had the video of the movie but I can’t remember the title. It’s amazing that I found these stills at all. Judging by the TV tube’s perimeter, this movie must have predated all this digital HD television rigmarole. I can’t remember the name of the movie but it was a mystery if I’m not mistaken. I will post the stills in order with blob comments when appropriate…

interview

This is not an “over the shoulder” shot.

interview

This is an example of the ots shot and it’s apparent that the reporter is speaking to someone with long unruly red hair. This could be an actual person but I can attest that it’s simply some hair pasted to the scene.

interview

Now this ots shot has the dreaded black blob. This is the cheapest option and in this particular case the actor is sub-par because she’s not even looking in the direction of the other “person”.

interview

Here’s a darker version of the red hair blob from before. Takes a bit more time but the effect is better than the black blob.

interview

Here’s the black blob again but a bored graphics person gave the blob “person” a horn growing out of their head.

interview

Here’s a blurrier version of the red hair. The extra blurriness creates more depth of field.

interview

Here’s the bad actor again. She wasn’t looking in the right direction so the film editor must have decided to put the black blob up higher so that it wouldn’t look like she was talking to the ceiling.

interview

Sometimes other parts of the body are inserted. Here a fist is inserted to show that the other “person” in the scene is upset by what the actual actor is saying.

interview

Another black blob… it’s obviously not important what’s there this far into the scene.

interview

Red hair blob is bigger as if the other “person” is leaning closer to the reporter.

interview

Black blob bigger for the same reason as the previous shot.

interview

This is not an ots shot, the reporter has ripped the hair off the actress.

interview13

Just a touch of blob to accentuate the surprise and horror of the actor that’s really in the scene.

interview

Same here.

interview

Ditto on this one too.

interview

Final shot… no “over the shoulder”. That concludes the example section and I hope this gives you a peek into my mind’s inability to enjoy TV or films. Remember to repeat this mantra when viewing… Don’t look at the blobs, don’t look at the blobs, don’t look at the blobs, don’t look at the blobs.

4 Years Blogging…

February 4, 2013

Well, yesterday was the 4 year anniversary of this blog. It is interesting to look back at the stats and see how much time and effort has been spent on blogging. I believe in retrospect it has definitely been well worth it although I have gotten to the point where I’m unable to spend as much time as I used to. So here’s the obligatory picture of the bug compared to the first pic I ever posted of her…

sofia

1stpot

And while the subject of blogs is front and center, Sofia was given some assignment at school about picking a subject of interest and doing something about it and she decided to make a blog herself. The subject she chose was littering and although I helped her format the pictures, what the pics were of and all the writing was completely of her doing. If you get a hankerin’ head on over to http://litterbad.wordpress.com and leave her a comment if you like… she’s been coming home from school everyday wondering if anyone commented on her blog. I don’t have the heart to explain how traffic is garnered, etc. In other news, there’s the kiln. Thanks to everyone who had suggestions on solving my wee dilemma. I got the elements replaced and shelves kilnwashed and fired a glaze firing with a couple of refires I had lying around. The results, I’m embarrassed to say, have simply left me with a newer dilemma. The kiln went off in less time than usual (which I thought was a good sign and still do really) but I put a couple cones in there to make sure that it was getting to ^6. All I had handy was ^s 6 and 7. After the firing, ^7 was flat as a pancake…

cones

The embarrassing thing is that, although I don’t remember really, I think that years ago when I got the kiln that I never put cones in to see if the temp on the controller was really the temp in the kiln which begs the question now… was it always going to ^7 and beyond or not. I’m definitely not willing to risk 3 months work on the chance that there’s no difference. So, as we speak, I’m running a bisque test with some cones that my good buddy Sebastian gave me. I’ve got 06, 05 and 04 in there right now. I lowered the peak temp number half the degrees between what it was and the next lowest cone equivalent and after this if everything is copacetic, I’ll have to do a similar test at glaze temps. Then I can fire for real but I will be anxious either way and regardless of the results of the witness cones. A week or so ago there was another opening out at Mt. St. Francis. It was the work of Joy Tanner and William Baker. Here’s Joy’s blog if you get a hankerin’. After these years of blogging and being a regular visitor to Joy’s blog for some time, I was really looking forward to meeting her and William but alas they got iced in at home and apparently couldn’t even get out of their driveway. Here’s some shots from the opening…

tannerbaker

tannerbaker

tannerbaker

tannerbaker

tannerbaker

tannerbaker

And of course here’s the discerning eye of Sebastian…

seb

I’ve got three coats of shellac on all of these…

greenware

I’ve also been attempting to reproduce a bowl from a few years ago and it’s a bit more difficult than I thought it would be…

greenware

Last but not least, here’s a couple pics of the refire I mentioned above…

refire

refire

I really like this one and since it was in the load that went to a flat ^7, I’m not sure if the differences I see in this piece are due to a higher temp or simply because it was refired… or both. That’s all I have.