Wednesday, August 25, 2010

New England Aquarium Education Video!

New England Aquarium Field Trip Orientation Video from New England Aquarium on Vimeo.

This past spring and summer, I worked with Untravel Media and the New England Aquarium to create this 8 minute video for school children and their chaperones to watch before taking a field trip to the aquarium. The purpose of this video was not only to build excitement around the animals and exhibits, but to clarify the rules and logistics, and give helpful hints and ideas for getting the most out of your aquarium visit. The script was written by Michael Epstein, music by Nick Vandenberg and the video, design and animation created by yours truly.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Hansel and Gretel: Consumed

About a month ago, Andrea Zampitella and I decided to create an installation for the event "Hansel and Gretel: ReImagined" put on by our close friend and VJ artist Zebbler. Our connection to Boston’s electronic music and VJ scene opened our imaginations up to the idea of using live video projection in our own artwork. Andrea is a multimedia artist who is very talented in the areas of sculpture and conceptual art, and I have experience in the areas of animation and documentary storytelling. So with our powers combined we created this cut paper sculpture that comes to life when mapped video/animation feed is projected onto it with sound. Check out this documentation of the finished product (keeping in mind that it was much better in real life with sound and without horrible blogger compression).

We learned a lot while creating this piece, and there are many more possibilities that we haven’t yet explored. For example, we’d like to take this video sculpture technique and use it to tell a more complex story. We think it would be really interesting to have a gallery show where you can walk around the room and experience parts of a story with each sculpture/installation.

Artist Statement - Hansel and Gretel : Consumed

“Our kids don't choose to make food products with tons of sugar and sodium in super-sized portions, and then to have those products marketed to them everywhere they turn.Michelle Obama, “Let’s Move” Campaign February 2010
Hansel and Gretel: Consumed combines the traditional Grimm’s fairy tale Hansel and Gretel with a modern day commentary on childhood consumerism. In the US, research from the American Psychological Association (APA) shows that children under the age of eight as unable to critically comphrehend televised advertising messages and are prone to accept advertiser messages as truthful, accurate and unbiased. This can lead to unhealthy eating habits as evidenced by today’s youth obesity epidemic. The Journal of the American Medical Association has said that children between the ages of two and seventeen watch an annual average of 15,000 to 18,000 hours of television, compared with 12,000 hours spent per year in school.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The True/False Film Festival

Last week I was given the opportunity to attend the True False Film festival in Columbia, MO. I don’t get to travel very often so any chance I get I’m out the door... but to be completely honest, as far as places I’d like to go, Missouri never even crossed my mind. I was traveling with Untravel Media collaborator/director Michael Epstein (originally from St.Louis). Michael was invited to speak about our Walking Cinema project on a panel about New Media and the future of documentary storytelling, and I was invited to tag along and film the amazing Timothy “Speed” Levitch (Waking Life, The Cruise) as he gave an off the cuff walking tour of the city of Columbia for the festival. My trip got off to a rough start - waiting 5 hours in the St. Louis airport while Michael got a root canal at his local dentist, and then spending a night in a cockroach infested Travelodge motel. Luckily I was able to switch hotels, and the festival itself quickly made it all worthwhile. I found downtown Columbia – a college town - to be a very quirky artsy community that I quickly warmed up to. The people were exceptionally welcoming and the folk- indie music scene was really fun.

Most importantly I found the quality of the films shown at True/False and the depth of the panel discussions to be really inspiring. What struck me about many of the films we saw was how free they were from the more traditional and overdone aspects of documentary production – talking head interviews with lower thirds, long montages of photographs, reinactments etc. Some of the films we saw were character studies - such as ridiculously funny "Invention of Dr. Nakamats" which followed a Japanese inventor or the more subtle “When we were Boys” which examined the everyday interactions of prep high school boys. Other films followed intense stories such as the heartbreaking "As Lilith".

The most traditional film I saw was the documentary “Waking Sleeping Beauty”which gave a behind the scenes look at Disney animation from 1984 – 1994. As an animator I was obviously completely psyched to see that film. What I loved most about it was the way they juxtaposed emotionally charged clips from Disney animated films with archival footage documenting the highs and lows - struggles and successes of the people who created them.

I also got a chance to view the work of two of the other filmmakers who Michael shared his panel with and was very impressed with their innovative approaches to documentary storytelling. Sam Green performs a live voiceover and music with documentary "Utopia in Four Movements" bringing a more poetic touch to his work .

Adam Curtis’s documentary “It felt like a Kiss” was part of an experiential theatre production put on by England’s Punchdrunk theatre company. Similar to Punchdrunk’s recent production

"Sleep No More" which took place in Boston this fall – audience members are set loose to explore a building filled with intricately constructed rooms – sort of like a sophisticated haunted house. As an audience member you are able to touch anything you like. Sporadic performances by actors add intrigue and encourage the audience to further explore their surroundings. Curtis’s "It felt like a kiss" a documentary video played as a part of such a theatre piece in England, but screened by itself at True/False - I would have loved to have seen the whole piece.

All in all, I got to see some amazing work and meet some really interesting people. So thumbs up to the True/False film fest in Columbia, MO. I’d recommend it in a heartbeat!