stop motion, some thoughts...

I’ve been working on an insanely difficult project in my real job. It’s a huge undertaking that I’ve made even more difficult by adding in stop motion elements. I LOOOOOVE stop motion. To me it’s one of the really magical things of cinema. I love the problem solving, the designing, the building with real materials, the focus on details and the absolute tediousness of the work. One mistake and you’re starting that whooooole scene all over again. Period.

It makes me hold my breath, crawl around on the floor, lift heavy objects, get glue and paint on all of my clothes, sweat under lights for hours—for a few seconds of footage. But to see something that I made, come to life is incredible. I love it.

Having said all of that, I need to save it for my own projects because it’s incredibly time consuming. No one in their right mind can really fully grasp the time it takes unless they too are insane enough to do it!!!

Our very 1st film project was a silly little stop motion in 2005-ish. Mariela and I are a team with stop motion. Together we can do anything. A couple that has been together for 17+ years, that can bicker about the dumbest things, are calm and collected for 4 hours animating a 10 second sequence together. It’s like our zen place. Each piece moved in rhythm, we sweat, we barely breathed and we finished. No bickering. No arguing. It was pretty beautiful. We should do it more often…

32373891218_126b329a87_o.jpg
44430003160_741ac8a5d0_o.jpg

Silent Movie Silent Film Title Card: Free Download

Back by very popular demand...my free silent movie title card!  

by Farrin N. Abbott, CopyCatFilms
by Farrin N. Abbott, CopyCatFilms

 

Please note: I am a professional video producer and I do not appreciate major brands, networks and professionals using my design WITHOUT crediting me as a source. You see, I created this design because there was a lack of available options. I spent many days getting it just right and as a result I decided that something so common should be widely available. I decided to share, asking for credit when used. I would also appreciate a comment with a link to your work. It's not required, but I would like to see the creative ways it has been used around the web.

And as many people have over the years, please feel free to ping with links of use that you discover, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (s2 ep9) -- I'M LOOKIN' at YOU. Have some class.

Also note, I am not interested in helping you format this for a powerpoint or changing any feature--unless of course you are looking to hire me. I'm sorry but that's just reality.

Here are the links to download. And here is the link from 2010 with lots of creative examples where it's been used. Thank you all for sharing and making the internet a creative and inspiring place to work!

Photoshop Versions (AE version is too big for hosting these days):

Silent Movie Title HD

Silent Movie The End Title Card HD

Silent Movie The END Title Card NTSC DV Widescreen

With respect,

Farrin N. Abbott CopyCatFilms

the Sandman

This is a very personal story that gets to some of my roots. If you're interested in reading more of this story, I would turn to the internet. There's enough clues... I don't think we hear about the side of prison life from children going to prisons. I've watched in shock as the media and hollywood fell into the pit of prison life infatuation, romanticization or whatever you want to call it. I realize that people are trying to shed light on concerns that incarcerated people are treated unfairly and something should be done about it. Don't get me wrong, I applaud the intention. But I grew up seeing the world quite the opposite. I grew up going to prisons every weekend to visit someone. Life seemed better for them on the inside. It was bad for us when they were gone. My grandma would cry daily and work herself to the bone to send them money for "necessities." I was never allowed to join the school band even though I was obsessed with music. Instruments were too expensive. Holidays were sad and uncelebrated.

It was even worse when they returned. They would come home to large neighborhood parties with more stuff than I ever had -- tv's, fans, posters, music collections...and after only a short time they would have sold their stuff off for drugs or cash and turned to taking what little I had. My walkmans were turned into tattoo guns. My nintendos pawned for drugs.

They came back looking healthy, well rested and more muscled and bulkier than ever. Their release days were the darkness of my childhood.

This is just one of those "release days" that I wanted to tell. It was a way to get it off my chest, but as a result I really learned a lot about my mom during the making of this animation. I realize that I would have fallen right into this trap. He was like her Stevie Nicks -- shining up there on stage. A dream come to life, for her. And I realize that her life has just been absolute shit. None of it was my fault, but I'm sorry. I will always love her and always feel that it is my job to protect her. This is where that feeling started.

 

----------------------------------- Technical stuff: I wanted to make an animation project using my ipad and photoshop for a change, so I did. It started as an audio podcast, but I felt that it needed some visuals. It was meant to be quick and fast, but turned into months of work. Limited free time, moved to San Francisco and kind of a long piece to animate.

Animation, Sound and Design: Farrin N. Abbott

----------------------------------

Chrome Niko Camera Bag Sling In Action

I'm so thoroughly impressed with the Chrome Niko Camera Bag sling that I bought over a year ago that I absolutely have to share. I've used it more lately, and especially most recently for our gigantic European adventure over the Christmas and New Years holiday to London, Paris and Madrid. It was my only bag used for the 3 week trip (with a small rolling suitcase that held my laptop). It held absolutely everything that I needed and actually made the long haul home even better by protecting some beautiful artwork by a Parisian street artist! I am just blown away by how much it held, how great it worked, how the buckle made it easy to snap around the pull arm of my luggage...seriously incredible. This small camera bag is a must have for anyone traveling with camera equipment:

IMG_4296-Edit.jpg
IMG_4298-Edit.jpg
IMG_4300-Edit.jpg
IMG_4301-Edit.jpg
IMG_4304-Edit.jpg

ITEMS CARRIED, at the same time:

  • Joby DSLR Tripod
  • iPad Pro w/Apple Pencil (yay even the cap survived!)
  • Over the ear headphones
  • small moleskine reporter w/blackwing
  • gloves (flip over mittens with fingerless!)
  • Canon 60D
  • Shure Lenshopper DSLR shotgun (mounted!)
  • Osmo Mobile Gimbal (LOVE this thing!!!!)
  • Canon 24mm pancake lens
  • Zeiss 35mm lens
  • analog pencil case & sharpener
  • Peak Design camera strap (must have)
  • lens cloths
  • all the power cords ever (iphone, Apple Watch, Osmo, headphone)
  • charger and extra 60D battery
  • 2TB hard drive
  • California bear hat
  • Art from an adorable little man drawing along the river in Paris, outside of the Louvre.

The only small note is that I would like to see the heavy seatbelt Chrome buckle in black or even a smaller version for this bag--it got me stopped at several boarding gates because it makes the bag seem larger when over the shoulder because the chrome seatbelt is very prominent. They now offer a camo version with the black buckle but I would like the black on black option, I'm not into carrying camo at the airport, or really anywhere for that matter.

IMG_3666.jpg

Coming Out of the Darkness with Art

IMG_0858-1.jpg

Website is busted, again. I like to think of it as another robot in my life...roomba, hue lights, sonos...wordpress! I'm not losing another weekend to trying to fix our portfolio. I have another site for that anyway. It seems to work flawlessly, thanks Tumblr. I'm proud of myself for getting our podcast feed working again! We're terrible about making them and that's the only way to be successful at it, I know. But that's not our goal. Each one is a success to me. This is all a longer story, put together in various pieces of media. I won't limit myself to one. --But I've been inspired, a lot lately by a few remarkable podcasters and that does make me want to do them a little more frequently. However, I am trying to get a really long video edit done before we leave for EUROPE! I want to finish it for many reasons. Namely, my travel hard drive needs to be free!

The edit probably won't happen though. I have about a million things to do before we fly around the world. The point of this post is that I want to say what a horribly hard couple of weeks it has been for many of us. I've only found solitude in art. I look to artists to say the things that need to be said and with our support, they will. So support local art and artists!Support public media and real news sources. I am so saddened by the recent Pew research that said most people get their news from Facebook that I haven't even been able to return. There has to be more for us. I don't know about you, but I don't want my news curated by childhood friends from my hometown. Do you?

Don't get me wrong, I really miss hearing updates about the people in my life that are scattered through time and huge distances. The separation has added to the darkness of the days. But I don't want my worldview shaped by a tech company setup to share college stories on campus. I lived #startuplife and it's not for me. (A wonderful life experience, but it ain't me.) I've enjoyed trying to immerse myself in local culture and art, as part of my job, but it's so fulfilling for my life. What an incredible opportunity. California is more than I could have dreamed and we dreamed about it for more than 10 years!

I'm a Capricorn though. I like to be absorbed in work and the more I work, the more it all becomes a melding of what I love to do with my days anyway.  Speaking of, I bought the best book about hand lettering recently. I'll write more about that later. It's kind of for work, but I'll be sure to share any horribly drawn lettering projects here! :) I am a sucker for an artists story--the passion, the drive, the determination to never give up. It fills my heart with drive. I need to fill my wallet with money so I can afford font making software...where's the open source!?

We attended an art event at the Embarcadero last night. Well, it was really a maker event -- people building really cool shit with crazy tools. It was terrific! We are so anxious to move to the city now. There's so much to do. The opportunities are endless. But I have some anxiety about leaving this gloriously soft life. It's a process that is going to take me some getting used to. Until then, I will continue to hack Waze to give me the rich people routes to the city. I'm serious. They route me to 101 every day, but I can beat their time by taking 280...stop pandering to the Teslas and let me drive! I'm Waze royalty damn't!

Speaking of royalty, if you're in the market for a good show about a woman's rise to power and a country that supported her, please check out Netflix's The Crown! That gave me a lot of comfort about the state of women (in other countries anyway). Great Britain has had something like 6 or 9 queens...I'm scared I'm going to love London too much...*God save the queen!

*whatever God that you may or may not believe in.

Settling In-PR Dreams

Well life is once again a whirlwind and half the time I think I'm still dreaming, but then I wake up on the highway and realize I'm driving one of the most beautiful roads in the country on my way to SAN FRANCISCO...again!!! Yeah, I just finished my first month at...are you ready for this: a TV & Radio station! Don't worry I'm not on TV (yet) but I have an amazing new job doing what I love -- media production. But I'm not writing about my job. I just want to write about the fact that I was told not to chase my dreams in media production. It was never malicious or hurtful, it was real, solid, sound, careful advice that I should pursue something that would enable me to find stable work. The truth is, I wouldn't be here without that stable solid education that I will be literally indebted to until the day I die! But it was never what I wanted to do and that's okay too. It made me have to really work for my media making skills and I'm grateful. I'm grateful that I didn't spend 4 years studying a medium that would change by the time I graduated. I've seen too many "classically trained" filmmakers rest back on their education like it's a card to never have to learn anything new again. Well wake up, this is a digital medium changing faster than software. This isn't the history of the Ming Dynasty...No, I'm actually really glad I studied a whole range of stuff that still interests me. I didn't study one thing.  I spent the longest amount of time in engineering and the skills that I took from that are absolutely invaluable.  The systems and processes thinking and problem solving curiosity never leave. But all along the way I've been trying to tell stories with new mediums and I'm never going to stop.

I spend a lot of Saturday nights working on silly graphics and production workflows but I know that eventually it's going to give me exactly what I want:

  • freedom to work at home in my studio
  • a house with an amazing private pool (think Chelsea Handler's pool)
  • a new black convertible Porsche (911 Carrera, not a Boxster).

I know, it's the little things in life, right... --But wait. Before you go judging me just remember that I grew up an orphan in a cockroach invested shack in a terrible neighborhood. My grandma used to work her hands to the bone for pennies left from your pizza tables. We lived hand-to-mouth every single day. I'm not sorry for wanting more. I work for it. I'll never quit working for it.

By the way, here's the damn puppet that I worked on forever until one day I just decided I was going to write a script and produce something with it and I just did it! So glad I did.

http://vimeo.com/177238092

Stranger Storytelling

I'm sorry but I really don't get the fascination with Stranger Things. I think it was just an algorithmic assessment of what we should all like and find novel from the 80's slapped together in a terribly shoddy storyline with an obnoxiously screaming Winona Ryder...made by a couple of guys that had only just been born at the time it was set. We didn't say douchebag, we didn't chill in cars, we didn't have cordless phones in poor homes in the Midwest just yet, fellas.  Shame on you, Netflix. Do your research and stop marketing this kind of quasi-storytelling. But smooth move using a Stephen King font and almost making it look like its his name in the intro. Clearly it's working. (For some.)

Now go back and pay rights to Stand By Me, E.T., Stephen King, Stephanie Powers (that mom!?)...the list, I'm sure was generated for you before this even began.

Illustrator Storyboard Template Download

I love finding holes in the internet that I can fill. I searched for an Illustrator template after discovering that is precisely what keeps causing me such huge delays in the design process when moving to After Effects.  In my efficient obsessions, I keep trying to skip that step and then my projects immediately become:

  • a tangled web of graphic files that are hard to visualize at one time
  • impossible to create a more cohesive style
  • hard to reuse elements

Sure I create color schemes and burn through post-its like a monster, but I want to be able to see them all together.  I know others do this and quite well I should add, but I've really been researching the workflow of others as well as my own and realized today that I just keep skipping it...

So this is my new workflow plan:

Workflows-storyboard

 

Anyway, I decided to make a 1080p video size animation Storyboard Template for Illustrator to force myself into this habit from now on. Thought I'd share.  Maybe someone will find it instead of spending their Saturday night formatting a grid with script notes!

If anyone finds this helpful, I'll be back with an update on using a variation on this workflow to work with Keynote animation projects...soon.

By the way, I put the scripts on one layer and backgrounds and swatches also on their own layers in the template setup so that the export to After Effects or split to their own files will make it all a little cleaner. That is THE goal in this life, right.

Use the Illustrator export "Save as" feature to split the artboards into individual scene files to make animation within After Effects possible (because the damn dynamic link is still 10 years away from dynamic).

Cheers, F

 

Stirring Around Our Workspace

I do this often. Stir the furniture in our apartment...I think it drives Mariela crazy. But it's how I was raised. My granny still moves her furniture around every few months. I just thought that's what normal people do! So I've taken it to the next level...and modified most of our furniture to add wheels. It's quite handy.  I think the needing to stir comes from our Native American roots. We can't move the tribe, so we shift stuff around. It gives a new feeling to a familiar place. Makes sense.  But she also kept a large knife stuck in the door because we lived around really scary people--within our house and the neighborhood.  So I've modified her model by using a magnetic knife rack by the door--but it holds keys, wallets, little dyke tools, camera remotes...etc. etc.

The latest stirring episode is because I've been frustrated with my photography lately. But I'm chalking it up to a few things: 1) I haven't really found my place here yet. Like a job or community involvements, but I know that will happen. Spring is in full bloom in Northern California and it's magnificent. 2) I'm used to photographing dingy urban stuff--usually weird & dark. Exactly the opposite of here. It's bright and sunny all the time and  much more suburban. I know that riding my bike on daily missions will kick me over into the groove again. And that will happen when I find my place/job, too. I just have to be patient and diligent with my own projects in the meantime.

The biggest projects we have going now:

  • pilot script
  • creating 2D puppet animations for storytelling
  • editing our cross-country move to Cali video

I've been hard at work on a video for my family that is finally complete! Mariela and I learned so many new effects and techniques, but the content is personal, but maybe I'll do a rough cut of some of the footage to share here. The time lapse of the family cottage is pretty terrific--if I do say so myself.  I had stayed up so late the night before--drinking wine at the dining hall, an unexpected nap, and then more ukulele playing and singing with the fam. But it was 4am and the sun was a'comin. I scurried to gather my gear and ran out to argue with my new time lapse settings in Magic Lantern. I got it. It's beautiful. It's quiet and serene. All the colony kids and vacationers fast asleep...I even managed to get the sun rising over the colony pool. Luckily, I had the forethought to get the cottage first and move downhill for the pool. So maybe a short cut to come soon.

We had a terrific weekend and really didn't get anything done on our projects, but sometimes it's nice to just enjoy the sunshine.  So we joined some new friends at Half Moon Bay for a fun day at the beach. I'm just still so stunned that the OCEAN is that close!  Luckily, my midwestern hickness is wearing off and I haven't referred to the Pacific Ocean as a LAKE in quite a while now. ;-)

 

 

 

Is My Blogger Broken?

I kinda hate writing again. I liked blogging for my previous job, but it just never felt like my voice. So, I have to ask, is MY blogger broken? Perhaps with Google trying to kill RSS--they are in fact sabotaging the little people on the Internets. The geeks, present company included, that setup their bedroom as a radio/tv station 8 yrs ago--a station/podcast that they could only dream of having in 6th grade, will be crushed by the lack of readership that comes from RSS publishing.  But I'm not one to get my panties in a bunch over the latest internet sensations.  I know that those of us with real stories & real skills will always have a place at the table.

In related news, scriptwriting is brutal. We're hard at work to finish our pilot script for a web series. However, our planned web series is about lesbians--but it's not a lesbian web series, per say. Yet some of the scenes absolutely must be graphic! Ha--it's hard to pitch the pilot without including the graphic parts in the first episode, yet it doesn't quite fit. Eh, if we have to produce it ourselves, we'll do what we want (animation if need be--and you'll all be glad for the graphic parts). It's the age old dilemma. If you let others in...they will likely take it OVER. But with the help of others, our stories can finally be shared.

Lastly, my iPhone is dead all the time now. If you know me, in real life--please don't hesitate to email me your phone/text messages. Yes, it's true that you can also continue texting--but only if you have an iPhone--cuz I'm an Apple whore like that. (I can still gettem' on my iPad.) And I'm no longer participating in the stalking pleasures of Facebook. People don't really share. They come to gawk. I'm not tryin to hide--I've always been right here. But when ignorance starts filling my day (people posting racist images, tormentors of my past showing up in "likes," then of course my judging of everyone else's lack of judgement, and all the other dumb drama) I just have to walk away. Sometimes you just need a break--to really see what it was doing to you.

And then it reminds me why I liked blogging in the first place!  I don't give a shit if someone clicks a like button, most of the time without even reading what I'm saying.  This is a place that I'm free to be me.  I can post what I want.  I don't have ads for ridiculous crap in my face. And further, the content I share can actually be reviewed, saved for scripts, or produced in one of our videos.  When I put stuff on Facebook...it might as well be added to a consumer database of what I like to do and then just immediately deleted.  Ain't nobody gonna go back and deal with FB's weird, controlling ways of showing you even your own content!

So I'm back to the bloggin board...where it's beautiful, ad-free, and just what I want it to be.

P.S. Happy Birthday M.C. I still think about you all the time. I read through some of our final stories together this weekend--you always knew how to laugh.  And you always believed in me.  I'll never forget that.

Puppet Intro: Real HouseDyke

:: work in progress :: A first puppet…brought to life with a little 90's inspiration (song remix by yours truly). I'm still working out some of the kinks before I can launch the full puppet project, but I'm addicted.  All of the images are hand-drawn from photos. Can't stop, won't stop now! Being a "day person" has taught me that I'm a terrible housewife, but I'm a pretty good HouseDyke…typically capable of fixing just about anything.  "Just about"..."Most of the time."

Even if there's a struggle...

Web Series at SXSW 2013!

I Hate Tommy Finch, a web series, that I helped shoot is getting some play at South by Southwest in Austin this year!  So, if you're in the area, check out the #OUTlanders program at #SXSW.  I'm excited that it's roaming around out there, gettin' more exposure.  It's a great story that was lots of fun to work on.  The live play was absolutely amazing, and it's incredible to see it molded into video & music as a web series--really artistic, transmedia storytelling, fast forward thinkin' of Tellofilms and the lovelies, King is a Fink.

Lets watch the video sneak peek together, again:  Sneak Peek--I Hate Tommy Finch Episode 3

The music of Sami Grisafe and Shannon Nicole was out-of-this-world perfect. You can listen to the incredible tune, Atlantis, on Spotify!  I like to think of it as a little song-story about our recent adventure to California.  I was scared to swim, but my fearless Mariela convinced me that she would teach me how.  We're workin out the details after getting here, [to Atlantis].

And, eh hem...I must admit that one of my greatest film shoot moments, yet... eating sandwiches during a break with Nicole Pacent at the bar...in her bra. I couldn't formulate one intelligible sentence and I was too nervous to finish my sandwich. What can I say:

"I am at heart, a gentleman." --Marlene Dietrich

IHTF-poster

Frame BY Endless Frame Time Lapse

I started thinking...what has been my favorite thing to film? I mean, so far. I have to say that filming time-lapse in Maine on vacation with my hilarious extended family. Sure, maybe it's because it was such a quiet, clean, calm morning at the colony--one of my very favorite places on earth.  It was my love of purist, photography --brought to life with motion. It's superb, while not true "frame-by-frame." So zooming in for higher resolution isn't an option! Fast forward to this week, I started in...fighting with Magic Lantern on my Canon 60D again. The problem has been audio with my Zoom h4n using the Sescom cable. I found the breakthrough that I needed (this helpful audio forum) and we set out for Treasure Island to record actual frame by frame time lapse (using the intervelometer of ML)!

It was the perfect end to a perfect day @ the Treasure Island Flea.

20130131-161435.jpg