University of Missouri Kansas City Gallery of Art Sonance II Show
Cologne Short Film Festival New Aesthetic Series
Artfutura, 22 City Tour
NHK television Tokyo, Japan
TOKYOVISION television, Japan
Gestalten, Berlin based international Arts and Design Publisher
San Diego City Beat magazine
The Fargo Film Festival
San Diego Art Institute Mass Attack and BYOB (Bring Your Own Beamer) art shows
The Torrance Art Museum
I made a quick making-of video for folks who are curious about the post process for the kite video. I have a bad cold – very sorry about the mumbling hoarse voice.
This new video was shot on June 28, 2015 in an area of San Diego County called the Tijuana Slough. It is the most southwestern corner of the continental U.S. where the U.S. meets Baja Mexico. The landmass in the bottom left of the frame is a neighborhood of Tijuana called Playas de Tijuana and just before that area is the international border. The area is historically rich and politically complex. During the 80s and 90s the border exchanges, of Mexican workers, drugs and sewage became central topics in heated local and national debates that continue today. In the national dialog the border is always depicted as a simple binary system but this is not at all the case. The exchange between the environments, the communities and economies has always been nuanced. Any dialog that reduces the relationship to simple “us and them” is suspect.
Is this a metaphor about the complexity of the border? No. I’m just trying to make something I’ve never seen before that says something about the region. I injured my shoulder last summer and couldn’t surf or swim all year so I started flying kites at the beach for fun, that’s the source of the idea. In the previous videos I looked for large scale events but for this one I was curious to see what could emerge from something really simple. We shot at the border because it has predictable wind and the area doesn’t attract crowds, so it’s serendipity that I made a video about hidden complexity in a place with an enormous amount of hidden complexity.
A note on the gray sky, these weather conditions are called June gloom by Californians. Throughout late spring, low altitude stratus clouds are produced over the ocean and brought inland, usually late at night, by prevailing winds. For people from more intense climates, these weather conditions are very mild but for many southern Californians it’s like deep winter and there’s an art to complaining about it. The clouds are a sign that our waters are cool, not warm like much of the east coast. The cool waters make it impossible for hurricanes to reach us and produce an incredibly stable climate, for now.
Tech notes, the video was shot on a BMCC camera in 2.5k RAW with an 80mm full frame lens and cut in After Effects. The kite separations were done with a combination of the Luma Key, key framed masks and the Soft Matte effect to clean up the edges. The most difficult tech problem was finding the right shutter angle to balance strobing and motion blur. For this particular kite speed we found a shutter angle of 72 degrees (1/120) at 24fps worked best. In the near future, you will be able to make a video like this with computer vision. You’ll just tell the computer to separate the red kite while you eat a sandwich. If I were you, I would wait till then to make one cause they take forever my way.
A big thanks to Alex Graham for his time and expertise on the camera. Thank you Danie Darisay, Bear Guerra and Freerk Boedeltje for putting your eyeballs on it.
The San Diego Studies is a series of short videos that manipulate time to reveal otherwise unobservable rhythms and movement in the city. There are no CG elements, these are all real kites that have been separated from their original shots and compiled together.
The rest of the San Diego Studies videos:
To request permission for distribution and licensing contact: firstname.lastname@example.org (the skateboarding video is owned by Micosoft corp)
If you enjoyed the flocking visual then I recommend you watch Dennis Hlynsky’s work, it’ll blow your mind: https://vimeo.com/102399221
copyright © 2015 Cy Kuckenbaker
I spent the summer working with Vimeo, Microsoft and the talented Cory Juneau to put this new video together; what an amazing opportunity. A very big thanks to Alex Graham, Melissa Cabral, Preston Swirnoff, Dave Gallegos and Danielle Darisay for helping me out! Hope you like it:
“The sea has never been friendly to man. At most it has been the accomplice of human restlessness.” Joseph Conrad
When I was 17 I got lost on Mount Moffett on the island of Adak in the Aleutian chain. Adak is where I went to high school and my friends and I had great adventures snowboarding there at a time when the sport was brand new. No one knew how anything worked, we were just figuring it out from pictures we saw in magazines. When I was 17 I got lost alone late in the day during a white out. I slipped off a ridge and during the slide dropped my board, which I never saw again. A half hour later, lost and blind in the storm, I had became a committed, practicing, believing animist as I begged the clouds and the mountain to let me out before the sun went down – and they did. The only time in my life since when I’ve felt similar and even greater fear of the environment is while surfing. Cold mountains can be incredibly frightening but big surf is, for me, even heavier: cold mountains that move.
I shot this swell twice. First on a holiday and again on a weekday and the level of surfing was much higher on the weekday presumably because the regulars were in the water. To them – hats off. There are a lot of good surfers on this break and I was especially impressed by the stand up paddle board riders. If you look closely you’ll see the same rider two or three different waves owning this spot. Here he is right behind himself:
There are no CG elements in the video. It’s all documentary footage arranged and collapsed together with After Effects. Compositing water is difficult. The basic strategy I worked out is to have the clips roll behind one another with the leading edge of the hind wave fitted frame by frame to the contour of the wave in front of it. The compositing was done using masks in After effects, which are key frame animated. Here’s a peak at the process:
And a sample of the raw footage:
I call this idea of removing the time between events without altering the speed of the subject(s) a Time Collapse video. Many people were calling the earlier videos in the series time lapse, which is similar but not totally accurate. Hopefully time collapse will make sense to others.
Making these videos has given me a hint at what animators do and the extraordinary discipline it takes. During the process of assembling this one a new thought began to occur to me about perception and how quickly it breaks down. I got some great insights from a fellow video artist/filmmaker working in Berlin named Gabriel Shalom (@gabrielshalom) that got me thinking about contemporary art’s connections to cubism and the deconstruction of imagery but the place my mind really went to was Dali and surrealism. This was a surprise to me because I was never very attracted to that movement. Somehow I associated it with psychedelia and Dali’s anteater walking made me tick him off the list of possible role models. Now older and wiser, I spent some time reading about the movement and looking more seriously at what Dali and his contemporaries did and found it deeply resonant. The piece that really blew me away is Dali’s Crusifixtion (Corpus Hypercubus)
With it he transforms a motif that’s been repeated endlessly by pressing a new dimension into the composition and the result is an incredible combination of old nd new. By this time in his life he’d become interested in math and science and I feel like he would be fascinated by the code art that’s emergent now. More personally, I feel like I’ve begun to understand what the surrealists were aiming at for the first time, which is the fragility of human perception and the proximity of dreams and…not-dreams.
This project is supported by MOPA San Diego and The San Diego Foundation Creative Catalyst Fund: Individual Artist Fellowship Program. If you don’t know MOPA be sure to check them out on Facebook + Twitter and more importantly stop by the space in Balboa Park. Something I didn’t know until I started my residence with MOPA is that they have an incredible library of photo related books and journals that you can easily access by appointment, here’s the link.
Big thanks for the valuable feedback from Danie Darisay, Bear Guerra, Pablo West and Freerk Boedeltje.
Shot on a Canon C100 + Atomos Ninja in CLog, with a Canon EF 100-400 f/4.5 L lens at 24p. The post work was done in After Effects. I don’t usually hype gear since that conversation is so dominant already but I have to say the C100+Ninja is remarkable.
Update Sat May 24th:
The Youtube version is up:
Designboom.com made a nice gif:
The rest of the series:
I think I’m finally making progress on a new time collapse video that condenses two hours of surfing into a couple minutes. The two waves above were actually minutes apart.
Well it’s been a very exciting couple of days. It’s rewarding to have my work noticed and shared on all these great sites, by commenters and by facebook friends new and old.
While the traffic is still high I’d like to make a shout out on behalf of a friend. Without a small non-profit called New Media Rights that’s based here in San Diego there’s no way I’d be able to complete my projects. NMR has become a really critical player in our online ecosystem by ensuring that small players like myself have access to legal advice and support that is otherwise out of reach.
Please check their website out. Follow them on twitter or facebook. They do great Youtube legal guides so you can follow them there as well. If you’ve got a little more, make a tax deductible holiday donation. It took me five minutes to give a couple hundred dollars to NMR earlier this month. I gave because they’ve helped me tremendously but also because I think they’re doing very important work for all of us.
A great example of the work they’re doing took place earlier this year when Lionsgate took Johnathan Mcintosh’s (rebelliouspixels.com) remix video down without warning or regard for Johnathan’s careful adherence to Fair Use. NMR got involved and Johnathan’s amazing work is back up where it should be. We have to have players like NMR in the system to keep this thing healthy, to let creators create and keep the internet open.
Youtube version is up:
AND engineering student Steven Buccini (@StevenBuccini) from Cal Berkeley found the Gatorade bottle in the video. Nicely done Steven! Steven’s prize is 25,000 chest bumping pixels that will bring Oski the bear out of hibernation.
And here are those pixels I owe:
Give a hoot.