Bruce McClure projection performance/three day seminar at Schule Friedl Kubelka in Vienna, October 2011

October 24, 2011

This is not-a-filmmaker performing

Two old school 16mm projectors each loaded with (a sandwich of) loops consisting of short pieces of “black” (basically non-transparent) emulsion and bleached (= transparent) emulsion arranged in rhythmical patterns are pointed to the center of the cinema’s screen where they create one single black/white flickering round corner 4:3 window-like shape – covering only something like 1/3 or so of the actual screen.

Two flickering strobe lights (during the first part of the performance) – positioned in front of the screen on the left and right – are pointed to the screen as well.

The what might be described (superficially) as hardcore avantgarde techno music (first part of the performance) is basically generated by what the optical sound head of (one of) the projectors makes of the rhythmically arranged non-transparent/transparent pieces of 16mm film, this sound being manipulated live by going through a series of  distortion pedals and other quite basic analogue sound (mixing) equipment.

Additionally the brightness of the projector’s lamps is being manipulated live as well.

That’s a rough (and possibly a bit inaccurate) description of the technical setup that Bruce McClure used for his “Smells Like Teen Spirit 1991? 2011?” projection performance at the Tonkino Saalbau in Vienna on October 20th, 2011.

This was not-a-movie cinematic experience

The actual experience as a member of the audience was nothing less than mind blowing. It was one of the best cinematic experiences I’ve ever had. Really. And there was no movie to see – at least not a movie in the classical sense.

Before the performance started earplugs were handed out. I ended up not using mine. Yet it was loud. Really loud. Think of going to a rock concert and being somewhere up front close to the speakers. With the difference that there is no band playing but you are watching those hardcore flickering patterns while the artist is creating his music sitting in the back of the room next to/underneath the 16mm projectors working on that old school analogue sound equipment as well as manipulation the brightness of the projector’s lamps.

Basically there were two things you would see: that what happens externally (the performance as described above) and that what happens internally. It’s hard to say which part was more interesting. In other words: think of something like a psychedelic experience while being 100% sober. I had not smoked anything that night. Yet when I left the cinema after the performance (first part 25 min., short break, second part 35 min.) I was pretty loaded. That is loaded with ideas I’ve had for my own project(s) that I’m thinking of at the moment:

This is not-a-classic-film school

Thing is I am back to film school. (I previously did the L.I.F.S., now just L.F.S. back in the early-mid ’90.)

Yes, that’s right, me being 40 years old and now having explored (some of) the basics of 3D/animation (using Blender) for the last couple of years I decided it’s time to go back to the roots of filmmaking – in order to come back later to what I do with 3D and hoping to find that unique combination of (minimal) 3D, (analogue/avantgarde) filmmaking and digital post production/compositing that I am looking for for my own future projects.

This is a new chapter in my filmmaker’s journey, my own quest in trying to combine all my skills and trying to create something that I am happy with and that others are willing to pay money for. Basically I still think I can make movies and sell art without becoming a prostitute. Maybe that’s (still) naive. But I won’t give up trying.

So last Wednesday was our first meeting at Schule Friedl Kubelka. We are only 10 students and everything here is close to no-budget and (at school) is happening in a rather confined space, Friedl Kubelka’s Atelier/flat. Projects are shot on either Super-8 or 16mm, we will be developing (and for 16mm) printing film ourselves using the filmkoop wien facilities. While editing may happen digitally (for Super-8) my plan is to avoid digital post production – at least for the picture – and  go back to the Steenbeck for editing (16mm) and then cut the negative myself – that I have never done before.

So while sitting in Bruce McClure’s projector performance last Thursday my inner eye was seeing that (possible) project to be made at some point in those coming eight months till the end of May 2012 when school ends. (I still live in Berlin and come to Vienna for the workshops, some key events etc.)

Following the performance at the Tonkino Saalbau last Thursday we had our seminar with Bruce McClure at film school on Friday, Saturday and Sunday last week:

This was not-a-workshop with Bruce McClure

There are a couple of things that Bruce McClure does not like: don’t call him a filmmaker. At least not after he told you he does not want to be called a filmmaker. You also might not want to call him an artist. And what he does is not a-r-t. Yet you might say he does t-a-r. He is much more happy with that.

Another thing that Bruce McClure does not do is give workshops. So what we had was not a three day workshop with BruceMcClure who is not a filmmaker and not an artist. Now that’s the short version.

The slightly longer version is this:

For three days we slowly, very s-l-o-w-l-y, went back exploring – opening one thread after the other, maybe coming back to it, maybe not – for three days we s-l-o-w-l-y went back exploring the roots of what a (presumably) moving (think strobe lights and a hand and its shadow) image is, for three days we s-l-o-w-l-y went back exploring – while freely associating and drifting to a new topic that came up and then coming back, for three days we s-l-o-w-l-y went back exploring the roots and fundamental basics of (re)producing (live) a (presumably) moving image in its most radically reduced form (loops consisting of rhythmical patterns of (non-)transparent (“black”) emulsion), we s-l-o-w-l-y for three days, sometimes painfully s–l–o–w–l–y went back for three days to our ancestor’s caves, their paintings and fire flickering, while we had two strobe lights and one single projector, one loop of found footage plus on top of that those loops Bruce McClure designs (sandwiched/laced up on top of each other, going through the 16mm projector), for three days we s-l-o-w-l-y kept going deeper, and deeper and deeper back to the roots of what a cinematic performance/moving images – and sound – may consist of in their very basic and reduced form.

There also was quite a lot of theory text reading. Excerpts here, a quote there.  S-l-o-w-l-y. Chewing one sentence after the other. Sometimes almost word by word. And then starting all over again after the first paragraph. Reading the same text once more. Chewing one sentence after the other. S-l-o-w-l-y.

Partly it was painful. At one point on the first day in the afternoon I had an impulse to just get up and go. And maybe come back the next day – or not. Yet having seen the performance first I knew I could/should trust Bruce McClure, who is not a filmmaker and not an artist and who gave not a workshop for three days.

So in the end I stayed (and so did everyone else). Going through what happened – both externally and internally – in those three days was definitely worth it in the end. Not everything was pleasant and that’s how it seems Bruce McClure wanted it: “I like to make people suffer” he said more than once. Yet I would question that. Here is my theory, be it something he did consciously or not: due to the s-l-o-w and often repetitive process of getting to a point via freely associating, going one way, coming back another and so on you end up being tired and your mind may drift to a more dream-like state. Just like at the performance at the Tonkino Saalbau. And possibly just like that state of mind where your brain is happy to learn new stuff, that state where you are open for new ideas or prepared to go deeper, and deeper, and deeper and deeper…

I should add that Bruce drew a lot of sketches to make a point. So the spoken/written word was translate to an image/icon for us to see. The workshop that Bruce – who is not a filmmaker and not an artist – did not give was, while minimal, still done with a multisensory approach.

Once in a while Bruce said a couple of other notable things in between our discussions like: “At home I eat shit every day.”

Did I mention he is not an artist and he did not give a workshop for three days…?

So in the morning of the second day of that workshop that Bruce McClure – who is not filmmaker and not an artist – did not give he was sitting outside in the courtyard waiting for us to arrive. (Wearing shorts while it was pretty cold. To make those who are late “feel guilty”.) When I arrived I had a short conversation with him and I said something that – seemed to – upset him:

Bruce: So you think I’m a jerk…?!

Me: Yes.

Bruce: Thank you!

Me: You’re welcome.

We then all went to church. That is we tried to get in but the actual entrance inside the building was closed. Bruce McClure’s former day job used to be the one of an architect. Hence the interest in that small church close to our school. Later in the afternoon when Bruce set up one of his projectors – using a compass and pointing it North our visit to that church was mentioned again, in regards to the geographic direction of how it was built. The found footage loop we went on watching – each time for 10 minutes – without sound, with sound and with one of his loops laced/sandwiched on top showed pelicans. One of them just took off and flew away. As one of us observed the bird was flying exactly South – that is in relation to Bruce’s projector/the screen that was pointing exactly North.

Bruce was quite thankful for that observation because this was the way he intended it to be – the bird flying South while the projector was pointing North – he simply had forgotten to actually mention it.

P.S.

If you are reading this and were there in those last couple of days feel free to comment and possibly let me know if I got e.g. some of the description of the performance at the Toonkino Saalbau wrong, if you feel something important is missing, if you disagree with what I write, you just want to add your own thoughts or link your own related blog entry etc.

This blog is published under a Creative Commons license – BY-NC-ND 3.0 – that e.g. allows you to copy/republish this text for non-commercial use as long as you give me credit.

Comments belong to their authors.

This blog currently gets around 600-700 hits/months. The unique visitors number may be quite a bit lower. A large part of the traffic comes via Google and people searching/reading only specific blog posts. Yet depending on how much I write etc. there may be about 100-200 (unique…?) visitors checking out the blog’s main page each month. Most of those might be interested in 3D, video and/or film. It’s a small platform but over the years I think I am able to reach at least a part of that audience that this blog is meant for. Why I mention this…? If you have something to say and comment there is a chance that – over time – those you may want to reach will actually read your comment. They might never contact you or let you know that they have read what you wrote. But your thoughts are out there and – over time – become part of a wider discussion about independent and/or avantgarde filmmaking etc.

Thanks for reading.

Update 25.10.11:

As usual when writing a longer blog post I now went through the text once more after publishing it and found/got rid of a couple of (minor) spelling etc. mistakes. English not being my first language and blessed with a dyslexic talent writing these things takes hours, sometimes days.

Also when thinking of that short projector/pelican story I’m wondering if something here may be 90° the wrong way round – or not. Maybe I’m misquoting directions, maybe not. Yet the essence of that story is still 100% true. So I leave it the way it is. Also: mistakes can be a true source of inspiration for new discoveries. That’s simply how we learn.

Underneath I now uploaded three pictures I took this morning of Bruce McClure’s program he handed out before the performance at the Tonkino Saalbau. I publish those images under traditional copyright since I am not the author of that program. I only took those pictures.

The third one may be the most interesting since it shows a sketch of those loops that Bruce McClure used for his performance and I have not mentioned those details in the text.

Update 26.10.11:

I just realised Bruce McClure’s performance at the Tonkino Saalbau took place on October 20th, 2011 (an not on October 25th as it says on the program – the location was Flachgasse 25…). So I changed the dates in my text even though the images say something different.

Additionally I also made it clearer where those two strobe lights – description performance beginning of text – were actually located.

Click the images (“open in new tab”) to see a larger version:

Detail (from page 1 out of 4) of the program for Bruce McClure’s projection performance at the Tonkino Saalbau in Vienna on October 20th, 2011

Page 4 (out of 4) of the program for Bruce McClure’s projection performance at the Tonkino Saalbau in Vienna on October 20th, 2011

Detail (from page 4 out of 4) of the program for Bruce McClure’s projection performance at the Tonkino Saalbau in Vienna on October 20th, 2011


Blender 2.60 is here: open-source 3D, Compositing and Video Post are about to take off now…!

October 20, 2011

From Blender 2.5x to Blender 2.60

Yesterday the Blender Foundation released Blender 2.60:

Download for all platforms.

While the previous Blender 2.5x series was all about making Blender ready for a wider user base (switch to an intuitive User Interface, a new Animation System, Color Management/linear workflow and much more) the Blender 2.60 series now focuses on upgrading Blender in some key areas important for those looking for a free and open-source all in one video post, compositing, special effects/3D package:

VSE Proxy Support now and Motion/Camera Tracking coming soon…

Sequence editor proxy support (missing in 2.5x) is now restored:

“Proxies are lower resolution versions of image or video files, that can be used instead of the full resolution for faster editing. Additionally to the way Blender 2.49 worked where you could make proxies for individual strips, you can now select several strips at once and build proxies in the background.”

Basically this means that Blender 2.60 is not only a platform independent NLE (edit/share your .blends across Linux, Windows or Mac), but Blender 2.60 with Sequence Editor proxy support brings high-end free and open-source video editing to almost any PC you might be using: the Blender VSE (Video Sequence Editor) works quite well even on older hardware recycled with e.g. Linux Mint.

New Blender versions are coming out every two months now and while 2.60 is great news the truth is that there are many now waiting for Blender 2.61 – expected to be released mid-December: Motion/Camera tracking (!) as well as Cycles, the new render engine, will be added.

You can always check out unofficial builds and test/use the new features months ahead of a release via those builds available from GraphicAll.org.

Extend Blender, Mango and links for new users

Blender can be extended via Add-Ons (scripts), either write your own in Python or get those from the Blender 2.5 Scripts Catalog (learn how-to install an Add-On). For new users e.g. the Compositing Presets or for editors the Jump to Cut Add-On may be of interest…

The Blender Foundation’s current open-movie project (previously Elephant’s Dream, Big Buck Bunny, Sintel) is called Mango, a “Sci-fi in Amsterdam” and “with real actors, 3-5 minutes”. Basically this one is about upgrading Blender in the SFX department.

For documentation see the BlenderWiki.

For community support see the Blender Artists Forums.

For “Fresh Blender News, Every Day” see BlenderNation.

For “Developer musings on Blender” see the Blender developer Blog.

For more about Blender and video post production see the Blender’s VSE blog.

You can also still check out my old Blender 2.4x Presets for editing and 2D titles via my tutorials page. (Learn the basics using the old/classic Blender 2.49b and then switch to Blender 2.60.)

If you want to report a bug here is a good place to start.

Blender is a truly amazing piece of software. Blender means high-end 3D, video editing and compositing for everyone. On every platform. For free.

Blender is Power to the People.


Pirates, Wall Street and World Revolution

October 5, 2011

8,9% and I am one of them

8,9% of Berlin voted for the Pirate Party last month and I’m proud to say that I was able to contribute to that outcome: while being an Austrian living in Berlin I am allowed to vote in my district. For the first time there was the candidate “Piratenpartei” on the ballot and that’s where I made my cross. And So did many other. And news that close to 10% of Berlin is now in Pirate Party hands spread quickly around the globe (blog.p2pfoundation.net).

I was actually a bit surprised about just how wide that news travelled: it seems people have been waiting for this (blog.p2pfoundation.net). Those 8,9% for the Pirates in Berlin are a signal for others: if Berlin can do it your city, your country can do it too.

And guess what, now after the success in Berlin the German Pirate Party gets around 7% in polls – that is 7% Germany wide: should there be general elections next Sunday we’d had the Piratenpartei sitting in the German Bundestag.

And there is still much more potential for sure: I would not be surprised at all should Pirate Parties around Europe get two digit results in elections within the next five years.

People this is it, this is the time to get out and vote for the Pirates. And if you can’t vote let your family know, your father, mother, brother, sister, grandfather, grandmother, uncle, aunt etc.:

Let them know why you want the Pirate Party in your (local) government, explain to them why the Pirate Party is like “a patch for Democracy” as I read somewhere.

Let them know why (software) patents are truly evil and why Copyright is in fact Copywrong.

Let them know about the Patent Trolls and Copyright Thieves.

Let them know about h.264.

Let them know that Apple, Microsoft, Sony, Samsung, Frauenhofer Institute and all those others h.264 patent holders are S-T-A-E-L-I-N-G everyone’s video footage using software patents (you do not own your own h.264 video footage, not even after transcoding to e.g. an open format: licensing fees for any “commercial” use will need to be paid to all those thieves hiding behind the acronym MPEG-LA).

Let your people know the truth about why a Bill Gates or a Steve Jobs could “achieve” what they did in those last 30 years:

Gates, Jobs etc. are a simply a special kind of breed of thieves who (while now retired used to) organise, set up and run a wide range of (in the US legal, in Europe for sure quite illegal) extortion schemes based on software patents and related “legal” constructs. Latest examples: the Samsung tablet that Apple tries so hard to block via court orders or the fact that Microsoft will make money with basically every Android phone you buy ($5/phone Protection Money for the IP lawyers thanks to software patents).

Or maybe there is something else that makes you angry…? Maybe it’s the RIAA or the MPAA (better know as MAFIAA)…?

There surely are many good reasons to be very angry these days (WikiLeaks censorship, youngsters/hackers who defend Democracy put in jail, Greece looted by the Banks, …) and each reason is a good one to turn your anger into real political change by voting Pirate Party!

This is our chance to get rid of those governments that have been corrupted be the Content and Copyright Mafia.

This is our chance to get rid of ACTA and all future attempts by the Content Mafia who is trying to undermine Democracy in order to save their dying business model, a model that never was right in the first place, a business model that is based on stealing but never giving back to society. One of the best examples being The Walt Disney Company and the Micky Mouse Protection Act from 1998.

Occupy Wall Street and World Revolution

“I see Corporatism, Fascism, chronic Capitalism. I don’t see a free market. I see a police state, I see an American Empire, I see 700 military bases in 135 foreign countries. I see 5000 dead bodies in Iraq. A welfare warfare state which gives out billions of dollars in foreign aid for dictators (…).”

(From the Voice Over/interview at the beginning of the embedded video about the current Occupy Wall Street movement:)

Nobody Can Predict The Moment Of Revolution (2011), 8:01

by Martyna Starosta & Iva Radivojevic, CC BY-NC 3.0

Video’s page on Vimeo.

One more thing…

Now that we have Freedom from Steve:

Steve Jobs,

You personally may get away with this and keep making your dirty money for quite a while. Yet not forever.

Thing is you are old and I am so much younger than you. Chances are I’ll still be around when you are long gone. And I’ll make sure the world will hear the true story about h.264. I’ll make sure that people get a chance to remember Steve Jobs for who he really was. You are no innovator, your are no inventor. At the end of the day you are simply that: a thief.

And Fuck You for that.

FUCK YOU STEVE JOBS FOR H.264.

FUCK YOU.

FUCK YOU.

FUCK YOU.

And FUCK YOU.

Update (06.10.11) :

Steve Jobs died this morning. Here the discussion on Slashdot.

Yes, it’s always very sad when someone dies and I’m sure many including his family will miss him. Yet death does not mean you have to be dishonest. The man may have done a lot for the Apple shareholders and may have pushed the industry in the directions he wanted, but for me personally he is one the biggest disappointments when it comes to role models:

I used to watch his Apple sales shows back in the ’90 on a Performa 5200, connected to the internet via modem. He was a brilliant sales person. He really was. Unfortunately he was not honest about his products shortcomings and he betrayed a whole generation of artists, film makers and young ones who bought his h.264 pitch. Steve Jobs choose to betray and steal from everyone (h.264 video footage) so that he could build a monopoly around/by using the moving image:

* He tried to push h.264 as the only legal video codec for distribution: when you already own an online store for movies (iTunes) as well as parts of a Hollywood film studio (Disney, before that Pixar) this simply is extremely greedy and shows you do not like competition at all. For over ten years open-source audio/video codec developers were severly bullied by all those who stand behind h.264. In his own words (blogs.fsfe.org):

“All video codecs are covered by patents. A patent pool is being assembled to go after Theora and other “open source” codecs now.”

* At the same time, knowingly, just as all the other h.264 patent holders, he was happy with stealing your and mine h.264 video footage: I got an h.264 camera and went out shooting footage, for weeks, months. I was planing to use that footage commercially until I found out about the scheme that Jobs etc. had set up/were happy to make their dirty deals with: the MPEG-LA.

Jobs not only wanted a monopoly on distribution but he also wanted to control independent content, e.g. accepted – and never communicated – the MPEG-LA’s rules e.g. about how long (!!!) your h.264 online video can be before you have to start paying fees to them. Steve Jobs was prepared to and did sell his user, did betray those artists who trusted him and who supported his company in all those years when Apple almost went out of business.

Steve Jobs betrayed us with h.264. I won’t forget that. And I will make sure that this story reaches as many people as possible, now and in the future.

A monopoly on the moving image is simply a very, very dangerous thing. It would be highly irresponsible not to let future generations know about this. Basically what Jobs opened up/promoted is a road to Fascism. People need to hear the h.264 story so that something like this can never happen again!


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