San Diego Studies: Final Shoot At Green Elementary School

Many thanks to Craig Wilsie and the after-school-care team at Green Elementary School for working with us on this. We lucked out and got just the right weather to eliminate the shadow issues we had on the test shoot. A sincere thanks to Alex Graham and Oscar Velasquez who helped me grip this thing. The video below shows the set-up.

This project is being supported by the San Diego Foundation Creative Catalyst Fund and MOPA San Diego.

When the series is complete I want it to work like a mural. This piece will show the number of kindergarteners who ride the swings in a day. Broadly speaking, I’m interested in creating images of this city in our time. I can only imagine what this will look like to these kids once they’re grown up.

San Diego Studies: Test Shoot At Green Elementary School

Sequence 01.Still001

There’s a saying in film to never make anything with kids or animals but I disagree. I had a blast yesterday with a few kindergarteners who showed us how it’s done on a swing set. We were at Green Elementary School in Del Cerro (a San Diego neighborhood) to run through the set up for a new San Diego Studies video. The idea is to show the number of kids that use the swings over a period of days in a few seconds. I’ve started calling this idea/effect a Time Collapse Video. The picture above is a frame grab from a hasty post prod run to look at the various challenges. The shadows are really stretched out this time of year – that’s the dark blob you see on the right side of the frame. I have to solve that still.

I had no idea kindergarteners could get swings going so well. A big thanks to Mr. Wilsie for having us out to the school.

A quick look at the set up:

This project is being supported by the San Diego Foundation Creative Catalyst Fund and MOPA San Diego.

Mouse Paths.



Today felt like June in San Diego, just with a much lower sun. I’m making progress on the 3rd SD Study video, which reorganizes auto traffic on 163 according to car color. The abstract art above is my mouse path from three hours of After Effects work I did this afternoon. These are fun to look at – I’m always surprised  by the shear quantity of movement at a task the FEELS like it has no movement at all. A blow-up below:



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Green Elementary School Collaboration

I’m working hard this week to move my new San Diego Study vid forward. The new one will reorganized traffic on the 163 freeway according to car color to reveal the city’s preference. I’m still very surprised that so many people drive silver/gray cars in San Diego. It’s such a sunny town you’d expect a little more color. I’m in my fifth week of editing with a few to go. When I’m done will someone please throw a bucket of Gatorade on me?

I’m also excited to move forward with a new community collaborator: Green Elementary School. We’re just starting to work the details out but what I hope to do with the school is show the total number of kids that use a swing set over the period of five days. I visited a class recently and was blown away by the kids. They’re a savvy crew with big ambitions. There are a couple of girls who want to be pro football players, which is incredible. The princess narrative that’s laid on young girls is so unbelievably lame and limiting, it was really neat to hear these girls talk about their ambitions without limits.


Documentary Master Class with Scott Hamilton Kennedy

Scott Hamilton Kennedy whose film The Garden was nominated for an Oscar in 2008 will be in San Diego this Saturday November 2 to give a 3 hour master class at the Media Arts Center (10am-1pm). The event costs $50.00, which is a steal. Below is the trailer for The Garden. Click here for MORE INFO. Click here to REGISTER.

San Diego Asian Film Festival Artist Alley Exhibition

The Asian Film Festival in San Diego is fast approaching. Tag your Instagram vids with #SDAFFartistalley2013 #SDAFF #SDAsianFilmFestival and they may screen your work during the fest. Here’s one I made…wizard.

From the organizer:
“Participate in #NOFILTER the San Diego Asian Film Festival Artist Alley Exhibition. Join Pacific Arts Movement and use moving pictures to move minds! Follow @pacartsmovement on Instagram and tag your photo and video entries with #SDAFFartistalley2013 #SDAFF #SDAsianFilmFestival Selected entries will be displayed at SDAFF 2013 from 11/7-11/16 at Digiplex Mission Valley.

The Positive on Negatives

I’ve spent the last several days preparing for a photo review, something I’ve never done before. I needed to re-scan a few negatives, which inevitably turned into me doing a complete inventory of every picture I’ve made on film in the last six years. Many of my strongest pictures I took in Baghdad. I was amazed to discover that in the 16 months I was there I only took 250 pictures on film. Considering the number of images I like, I can’t believe the shot ratio. It’s a testament to analog. Yes, the quality of medium format is incredible but the value of being slowed down to a near stop and paying for every shot may be the real factor.

Midnight Oil


Working late putting a photo portfolio together for the Medium Fest of Photography, which is fast approaching. It’s a nice break from all After Effects work for the vid series.

The 163 Freeway: San Diego Study #3


I’ve been working for three weeks now editing a new piece for the San Diego Studies. I’m reorganizing traffic on the 163 freeway by car color. I had no idea how many people drive grey/silver cars and how few drive cars with color. The vast majority are either grey, silver, black or white. It surprised me. It’s a challenging piece to put together because of the numbers of cars but it’s coming along. It’s funny that it only took around three hours to shoot and will take a few hundred hours to edit.

I’ve found a companion while editing that I have never had before. Since these films have no dialog I can listen to audio books while I work. During this edit I’ve listened to Revolution 1989 by Victor Sebestyen, How Music Works by David Byrne, 1493 by Charles Mann and Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana. I’ve found that the better the book is the longer and faster I work. It’s a massive improvement over Pandora or my iTunes collection, which I erased recently…on purpose.

Two Years Before the Mast has been of special interest to me since this work I’m doing is about San Diego and much of the book’s account of a sailing expedition in the 1830′s takes place in San Diego when it was just a bay and a Spanish precidio. I’m amazed by his accounts of Sandwich Islanders, Russians, Italians, Native Americans, Spaniards and Mexicans all interacting in a distant wilderness called California. If they could have only known what the real estate values would be…

Below is a sample of what the final video will look something like. 163 was the city’s first freeway.