The collaborations between Colin and myself are sometimes brilliant and sometimes less than.  Whenever we get together (about once a year) there is a strong desire to shoot something, anything, and if a good story is not something we can brainstorm we resort to wandering the streets of Princeton and nearby Sourland Mountain with a kids bike and a couple of cameras.

More than anything else one could say this was a test of our SLRs, neither John or I had ever shot anything so long or intensive on our cameras so this was a good test just to see how they would hold up over the course of an intense shoot.  I have to say I am very pleased with the outcome.

I spent about three days editing this (with a week-long venture to Rome in between).


Remember our little films look good in 720 or 1080 HD! Check it out on Youtube.

Below are some behind the scenes photos (second only to cool guys not looking at explosions are cool guys riding a little girls bike):

Everyone’s trying to get Will to quit…

Last week when I noticed a colonie of ants all over my sidewalk I never intended for it to become a thing.  I wasn’t planning to make a video.  I just love ants, seriously; they exhibit a degree of sociality present among few other insects, let alone animals.   This also served a good test of my new SLR’s video capabilities.

After viewing the footage I quickly decided it was too good to waste and thought perhaps I could get some milage out of it.  I also drew a sweet doodle in my sketch book which served as a title.  About four years back I was at a popular Ontario Amusement Park once licensed to Paramount Pictures 😉 while standing in line with my good friend Talia; we saw a hill of ants so I pretended to be David Attenborough/”the voice of nature” whilst she filmed, I suppose this could be seen as a sequel with a sinister twist.

Enjoy.

This post is a continuation of Saturday’s which can be found here I recommend reading it first.

Ok so continuing where I left off Saturday night (Sunday morning technically).

Twitter has a few neat ways to contact people, if you are “Friends” with someone (meaning you are both following each other) you can send that person a “Direct Message” which will only be visible to them. You can mention somebody by typing the @ sign and then their name (like @tfantina), this tweet will be visible to everybody who follows you and the person you mention will also be notified even if they don’t follow you. The highest compliment you can give on Twitter is a re-tweet. If you like somebody’s tweet and want to show it to your followers just type “RT” then mention the person and paste their tweet ( “RT @tfantina ‘Somehow I always cross the border during rush hour.'”).

So far I’ve covered the basics of Twitter, however, it’s much more fun once you start checking the amazing apps that have sprung up around Twitter.

Some people will tell you to download a desktop app for Twitter like
Tweetie” or “TweetDeck” however I don’t use either of these, however if you are tweeting from a smartphone or an iPod Touch I recommend getting an app for it. When it comes to apps here is a list of ones that I could not live without (this is relative we are talking about a microblogging service);

Brizzley is a fun app that displays pictures and video in tweets (usually you have to click a link to see them), among other things it also allows you to organise people you follow into lists. I highly recommend it, it’s currently in beta however if you want an invite just drop a line in the comments and I’ll hook you up first come first serve.

Tinyurl is good when you have a super long URL that you have to fit into 140 characters or less (they usually shorten any URL to about 30 characters).

Twitpic allows you to post photos to Twitter from you cell phone or the web.

Tweetstats is cool if you’re geeky like me and want to know the statistics of your tweets (time of day you tweet the most, the day of the week you tweet the most, where most of your tweets come from, etc.).

There are hundreds of cool apps for Twitter, a good place to start looking is Oneforty.com they have organised most of the major apps for you to try, rate and review.

Sorry it took so long, Twitter’s a bit of a hard sell at first but I take it with a grain of salt and appreciate all the neat apps and trends.

Image: Pasquale D’Silva courtesy of Function

What is Twitter? It’s stupid! Why do you use it? Are you by any chance stupid? These are a few of the question’s I’m faced with when I tell people that I use Twitter. My goal with this post is to hopefully educate and enlighten readers about the wonderful world of Twitter.

What is it? Twitter a microblogging service, it allows users to convey short amounts of information (called ‘tweets’), in no more than 140 characters; this makes it compatible with SMS messaging from cell phones.

Once you join start following people. I know it sounds stalkerish but one has to assume that people aren’t going to post something on the public web that they don’t want everybody on Earth to see, if not why post it. This is not always the case but it’s their problem, not yours. Twitter makes it very easy to find people; you can search by username, first name, last name, business or brand. In addition to my friends, I follow several people whose tweets I find particularly interesting. With famous folk (like KevinSpacey and Oprah to name two) people like to create fake accounts in their names and post stuff, recently Twitter introduced verified accounts so you can tell if your really following Oprah or 14 years old in Santa Monica. As you start to follow more and more people you will get a feel for what tweeting style you like, some people tweet fifteen or twenty times a day others only once or twice a day. Some people’s tweets are more interesting than others, which brings me to my next point…

Don’t tweet useless junk!

One of the major stigmas surrounding Twitter is that it’s all really useless junk, people tweet stuff like “Eating breakfast”, “Going for a jog”, “Going to the bathroom”, “Washing my hands” and “Gross I touched my phone before washing my hands!”. True, all these tweets are under 140 characters, however, that does not mean they should be posted. A quick and easy way to become a Twitter outcast is to post lots of useless jargon nobody reads or cares about. Twitter should be used to share stuff that you find funny, cool, interesting or enlightening. When I stumble across a neat blog or a funny video on Youtube that not too many people have seen, I tweet it. If I see something cool or something funny happens to me I tweet it. I don’t tweet boring junk that everybody already knows I do (like eating), and neither should you.

So, Twitter is a fun and quick way to share links, quick stories, and see what famous people are doing. However, in my opinion, the real genius of Twitter comes from two features, “Trending Topics” and “Search”. Trending Topics takes all recent tweets and arranges them looking for patterns; so let’s say that the Yankees just won the World Series, a lot of people would be tweeting “Yankees” and “World Series” for instance. If enough people posted tweets with the words “Yankees” and “World Series” in them, they would both appear on the “Trending Topics” list. “Trending Topics” is a way to see what’s going on in the world as it happens. “Search” is also useful, but I don’t think you need that explained.

Click here to jump to part 2.

Image: Pasquale D’Silva courtesy of Function

My decision to see ‘Waking Sleeping Beauty’ was pretty last minute, I just got up at seven on Saturday morning and looked for tickets, I made the right decision; purchasing a ticket for ‘Waking Sleeping Beauty’.  It was one of my favorite films from the festival.

‘Waking Sleeping Beauty’ is a documentary about the revitalization of Disney animation from 1984-1994.  It chronicles a fascinating power struggle between Disney CEO Michael Eisner, Nephew of Walt, Roy Disney and head of animation Jeffery Katzenberg.   From the lowest point in Disney history, in the early eighties when the animation department was moved out of the original building that Walt built to a run down off-site location, most of the animators felt they would all lose their jobs by the end of the week.  It was even suggested that Disney get out of the motion picture business!  This dismal state of affairs is how ‘Waking Sleeping Beauty’ begins and it carries us right through to one of the many high points in Disney history: ‘Beauty and the Beast’ had just been released and ‘The Lion King’ was going into production.

‘The Lion King’ producer Don Hahn directed ‘Waking Sleeping Beauty’ and did a very good job at showing a non-biased look at the craziness of the Disney Animation world from 1984-1994.

I loved some of the very candid moments in the film, we see a young Tim Burton (he hasn’t changed much), we hear the voice of a young John Lasseter.  We are shown first hand the antics of a group of pent up, predominately male twenty-something-year-olds.  It’s a lot of fun and very informative.

[rating: 5/5]

2017 Update: I’ve taken most of my movie reviews off the blog because they no longer seem relevant (they never were), however, I’ve left this because it really was a fantastic film.

James Camerons Avatar, in theaters December 18th

Last night I had the privilege of attending one of a few extended preview’s in IMAX 3D for James Cameron’s upcoming film (his first in 12 years) “Avatar”.

Now I’m going to go into some detail about what I saw yesterday; before the preview began James Cameron came on screen to introduce it and state that all the footage was from the first half of the film so there were no major spoilers. However, if you are one of those people who really freaks out about even the smallest of spoilers I recommend you do not read on.

I’ll start out by saying it was beautiful, which is not really what I expected. The trailer shows a few shots of the beauty found on the planet known as ‘Pandora’ however watching a few scenes from the 16 minute preview we were really able to get a taste of just how lush, rich and beautiful the landscape on this planet, which was created with computers from the ground up, really is.

The first scene was almost completely live action, I’m not sure if there was, CG at all. It was basically in introduction to the planet ‘Pandora’ a crusty, battle scared head of security informs a group of incoming marines that his job is to protect them from the hostile world outside the perimeter fence. He says that, at least for some of the marines he will unfortunately fail in his duties. This is when Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) rolls down the isle in a wheel chair.

The computer animation is really top notch, there were moments in the jungles of Pandora where I found myself wondering if James Cameron had not just taken his revolutionary stereoscopic camera system into a real jungle.

The CG was amazing, however, I felt it took some getting used to. In the second scene they showed the paraplegic vet Jake Sully is first taking on his na’vi body (This is where the title ‘Avatar’ comes from, basically his brain is transfered into the body of Pandora’s indigenous species), I was not too impressed. This may have been because I had never seen a picture of the Na’vi before so perhaps I was expecting something different. I felt the CG Na’vi mixed with the live action humans was just a tad fake looking however this initial feeling may pass after watching even more of the film (December 18th!).

The next scene was high adrenaline chase which began as Jake squares off against a strange creature indigenous to the jungles of Pandora, the creature is frightened away by an even larger and scarier beast which Jake runs from. Although the chase was impressive the two creatures struck me as kind of plastic looking, and my disappointment began to mount, until…

The Next Scene, Jake is rescued from a pack of scavenging beasts by a Na’vi woman my mind really began to think that all this CG was real! The best was yet to come.

The Pandora jungle by day, as I said, looks pretty much like a jungle here on Earth, however, come night fall the Jungle plants are illuminated with a beautiful and mysterious phosphorescent glow. My expectations for this film were gone, it was something I had never imagined. I no longer wanted to see James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’, no, I wanted to take a space ship to Pandora and actually walk around in this beautiful jungle (despite the beasts which rip you to shreds and hostile native peoples).

The final scene shows Jake along with some other members of the local Na’vi tribe trying to tame some kind of flying creature that resides high in the cliffs on the outskirts of the jungle. The Na’vi tell Jake that the beast will choose him, and he’ll know because it will try to kill him. Once again I found my self blown away during this action packed scene by how real the animation looked.

After the final scene, we were treated to about thirty seconds of epic battles, flying machines, military gunfire, explosions and all the makings of a great trailer. Today I watched the actual trailer for the first time thinking that it would be mostly a collection of clips from what we had seen in the preview. While there were certainly a lot of repeat clips, the trailer actually contained a lot of material not in the 16 minute preview.

“Avatar” looks amazing and well worth the wait, however as I said the whole experience takes a bit of getting used to, I worry that a 2 minute and 30-second trailer just won’t be enough to get people thirsty for more. Which is part of the reason I think Twentieth-Century Fox and James Cameron decided to have an event like “Avatar Day” to generate positive word of mouth?

“Avatar” hits theaters on December 18th and also stars Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez, Zoe Saldana, and Giovanni Ribisi

Be sure to check out the trailer

 

My Latest Purchase

My Latest Purchase

In June I made a life changing decision, I decided to never again (never is a long time, but I’ll try my best) purchase music or movies on the iTunes store. I don’t have cable so I may still purchase a TV show or two just to keep up, but music and full movies are out.

Why? What is the method to my madness?

Well, it all began a few years ago when iTunes started releasing movies. It was cool and novel but tragically iTunes could just not match the glory of a DVD or Blu-Ray case, a hard disc and all the special features that went along with them. Perhaps for some, the movie is all they want, but I can’t bear to forego my making of, still gallery and director’s commentaries. So I decided I would not buy any movies with the iTunes store. (Back when they first added movies I got ‘Clue’ and ‘Rocky’ just to test it out).

However, recently I have been thinking more and more about the music component of the iTunes store. I like it, but quite frankly it’s too easy, I just sit on my computer and get music, I feel like if I want music I should walk or drive (easier then walking not as easy as sitting on the computer) down to the local music shoppe and actually buy a CD which spins in my disc drive and scratches when I drop it. I guess you could say then that my main problem with iTunes is the lack of hard media, you know, CDs, DVDs, and Blu-Ray discs. That is one of two major issues that I have.

The other issue I have is something that I had been sitting in the back of my mind for a while but I really started thinking about after reading J.J. Abrams article in the May issue of Wired. It was an amazing issue and J.J. Abrams’s article was the crown jewel of the issue. Be sure to check it out. Basically J.J. basically stated that our lives are becoming too easy, you can get all the music you want without leaving your house and experiencing something new, you don’t hear music you haven’t heard before (maybe you don’t even like), you don’t see strangers flipping through CDs, you just sit at home and stare at your download’s progress. It’s easy, and the problem with that as the old saying goes “no pain no gain”. However that’s even becoming archaic because downloading music on your computer is just the opposite it’s “no pain all gain”, which is sort of a shame because if everything in life was free and easy people would become fat hermits who lived out of there beds (we’re not too far away from that). We have no social stimulus of any kind when we buy music online.

Now, please dear reader, don’t take this hate for purchasing media from the iTunes store as hate for iTunes. In my opinion, iTunes is possibly the best program of the last ten years. I know there are a lot of haters, but I am certainly not one of them. It is really the best program to organise and listen to your music collection. And if I had to buy a song from the iTunes music store a month to keep iTunes I guarantee I would.

So in the interest of actually working up a sweat, smelling nasty smells, being stuck in traffic and occasionally getting a headache, I now purchase all my music at Borders and The Beat Goes On (which is a great place for cheep used CDs in the Kitchener/Waterloo area). It’s obviously not as easy or as convenient but I get a hard disc with album artwork and personal credits, I get fresh air and a chance to experience something I otherwise would not have.

Abrams, J.J. “The Magic of Mystery”. Wired May 2009: p76

Image: brucespringsteen.net

2017 Update: Netflix, Spotify, and half a dozen other services have drastically changed the landscape. I still hit up the Beat Goes On when I can but I have to admit I subscribe to Spotify Premium and still use my parent’s Netflix account haha. Also, Borders Books is dead.

Sorry for the sporadic, er- total lack of, posts this month I have been very busy prepping for my latest short film “Initiation”.

“Initiation” is the story of a gun-for-hire who is hired to retrieve some diamonds, he botches the job and has to report this back to his boss who has the power and authority to kill him if she wishes, basically your worst day at the office times 10.

We shot on June 9th, it was a very, very fast shoot, too fast really and I wish we could have taken two days one for each location but that was not the case.  Despite the hurried pace, I am quite happy with what we got.  I am almost finished with the rough cut now and it looks great. Photos from the shoot (click to enlarge):

Shoot 1

‘The Gang’ prepping for a scene.

Shoot5

Emily.

Shoot 3

James pre squib.

Shoot6

James post squib.

 

Shoot 2

Camera protected from blood spurting.

Shoot 8

Working out lighting.

Shoot 7

Directing.

Shoot 4

Me with camera protected from blood spray.

 

All photographs are the property of Bekky Gibson.

 

 

2017 Update: I learned a ton doing this, but unfortunately it wasn’t very good, your first few films are always your worst.

I’ve been very busy lately, however for about the last six months I’ve been trying to fix the ‘movies’ section of my website good news is: I am making some progress.
I am still very busy shooting music videos, working on a short film and writing tons of scripts. When I find a free moment I will try and edit together some of my more recent work (Stuff I shot this year), and post it online for all to enjoy.

Anyway as far as Other Mysteries go, about a month ago I posted a pretty elaborate and special effects heavy video of unknown origin. Sorry for not posting sooner, but the origins of the above-mentioned video have been revealed to the world.
/film has the scoop, turns out the popular theory that it was just some very, very smart people playing around with a video camera and some software is correct.

I understand that re-branding is important if your company has some bad stigma associated with it. If you manufactured a product that kills people, like Altria that was a re-brand which was good for business.

However, if your company has never done anything to demand public outrage why re-brand? There really is no point especially if your logo is a classic piece of Americana like Dairy Queen or Pepsi. Was it really necessary for DQ to italicise their logo and add two coloured vector shapes to the top and bottom?

And I don’t think anybody knows what’s going on with this:

Who said: “well we have an internationally recognised logo, let’s change it so people won’t recognise it and it will look like a cheap knock-off.”

“Yes sir we’ll get our best designers on that”.

Perhaps I’m being too harsh maybe there was something seriously wrong with DQ and Pepsi’s logos, maybe they did something demands a re-brand which I am not aware of. If you know please let me know and I will blog a retraction.

For more specifically 2008 re-brands (the DQ logo was 2005) check out Brand New.

2017 Update: I did eventually find out what the Pepsi logo means, the white band is thinner or thicker depending on if it’s diet soda or not.
Several years after I posted this I found this gem which sums up my feelings of the Pepsi logo:

Unfortunately, that’s how I see it.

( I can’t source this image, other then “Lyang” if you know who created it please let me know.)

A further caveat: the longer I design logos the more I bite my tongue when I see logos that repulse me, usually there was a good reason and it’s very difficult for anyone, even the best of the best in the upper echelons of popular design, to take a beloved logo and change it for any reason at all. It’s not an easy job because logos carry a lot more than a brand, they carry our collective experience with the brand. When I think of Tesla, for example, I think of technology, innovation, sustainability, but inevitability I think of that iconic “T” logo, if they ever changed it would drastically effect (at least temporarily) my perception of the brand.  So rebranding is always difficult and dicy,  that said, 12 and 9 years on respectively, I still like the old Dairy Queen and Pepsi logos better.  Perhaps someday, in the near future, I’ll write a more in-depth article on this with years of perspective now behind me.