(PDF Version) This was my first foray into Vectorworks. While I made this, I picked up a lot of tricks, but was also left with a lot of questions about the best way to do things:
- I’m not totally clear on how to combine and difference shapes, it’s still a bit of trial and error.
- When I send something behind something else, how do I select the object in the back?
- When I want the convex side of an arc to be the interior of a shape, how do I do that?
- I only needed to see part of the gear for the film winder. How do I slice the gear? To workaround, I covered it with other polygons.
- How do you measure the arc on an object?
Here’s the object:
Given the challenge of telling a very short story in three shots with a fixed camera, I made the video above, entitled “Commit / Repent.” The story came about organically over the process of shooting it. I originally wanted to make a story where the first two shots didn’t make sense until the third shot, that of a book cover. So I headed up towards Strand Bookstore to to find a book cover that might tell a story about the person who owns it. On my way to Strand, Grace Church caught my eye. I have never set foot inside this beautiful building in the ten years that I’ve been walking by it so I went in to check it out. Inside, I saw that it was such a beautiful location and I started taking video with my phone. I sat down at one of the pews and managed to stick my phone up towards the beautiful ceiling.
There, a foggy idea for the story above started to materialize. Getting the angle I wanted for the “repent” shot took a lot of trial and error since I could not see how the framing looked. When I had a shot I was satisfied with, I continued up Broadway to Strand Bookstore, where I shot the first shot in their basement. To do that, I used the friction between the books on a shelf to hold my phone in placed while I walked the aisle. Since I was already acting suspicious and figured their security already had their eyes on me through their CCTV, I decided to do the “commit” shot at home.
When I got home, I looked over my books to find one that was appropriate. I thought The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins was appropriate not only because of the title, but also because Dawkins is well-known for being an avowed atheist. After cutting the shots together, I felt a little dissatisfied. I thought I was trying too hard and that I could be more clever by somehow telling more story with less time. But I really liked how the church ceiling and windows in the last shot tell a huge part of the story. I really wanted to keep that. I hoped for inspiration to strike me, but it didn’t happen before the assignment was due.
Especially at museums like The Metropolitan Museum of Art, I’m a bit of a “streaker” in terms of how I take in the museum. I rarely read text, and I just like to look around at what’s on display. If something catches my eye and I want to know more, I might read its description. I never walk out of these sorts of galleries feeling like the people who designed it had some sort of “thesis” or idea that they wanted to impart to me about the subject matter. That being said, I spent a little more time experiencing The New Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Here are my impressions:
- The main idea of the exhibit is to show how the spread of Islam had a widespread effect on the art and culture of Middle East countries (and even beyond) from the 7th to 19th Centuries.
- The exhibit conveys this through large blocks of text mounted on the wall. The text is very easy to understand and some of the captions next to the pieces point out how the particular piece relates to Islam and about the techniques used at the time.
- The content of the gallery is organized geographically and by period, with areas of overlap. It roughly starts with the earliest Muslim influences on art in Iran and Central Asia and ends with the most recent Islamic art in South Asia, Spain and North Africa, giving you a sense of the spread of Islam and its influence on art.
- The designers have interpreted a heavy influence from Islam through calligraphy, illuminated manuscripts, and treasured objects like urns, jewelry, and tapestries.
- I felt the design of the galleries was mostly effective. There’s a definite logical flow to the content, but the gallery itself does not force that on you if you just want to browse. I presume an audio tour or guided tour gives you better cues as to how to move through the galleries. For me, I had to study the map to determine what direction I should move in.
- A few very special rooms differed greatly from most of the other galleries and made the experience special. Specifically, the Carpets, Textiles and the Greater Ottoman World and The Damascus Room. The former gallery is immediately breathtaking because of its high, vaulted and adorned ceiling and a long carpet running the length of the gallery under (amazingly even) lighting. The Damascus Room sets the tone with the sound of a fountain, which according to the interactive display, was used for both practical and aesthetic reasons.
- Lighting was critical to this exhibit and was carefully planned. This was especially true in the tapestry room and the area with the manuscripts. The lights were very well disguised and lit everything well. Another effective design element was the use of stools in front of the illuminated manuscripts. After a long day of walking through the museum, seeing those stools in front of the cases was incredibly inviting. You could sit down and have something interesting to lean over and look at.
- The only thing I would change about the exhibit is to make the map of the region a recurring element. There’s a very large map outside the entrance to the gallery, but I think it could be incorporated into each room so that the visitor gets a better sense of how the effect of Islam on art and culture spreads geographically.
- Design in The Metropolitan Museum of Art takes a supporting role to the art on display. I think everyone would agree that this is a sound decision.
Videos made according to The Lumiere Manifesto:
Music video for Hot Chip’s “I Feel Better.” – I love how this music video begins like a boy band video, but ends up messing with those expectations in a creepy and humorous way. The thumbnail (not sure if intentionally chosen) gives a small hint of the weirdness before the viewer hits play.
“Dueling Cameras” – I like this video because it’s simple and charming. The timing and sound design are its strongest elements.
“CHOP No. 2” – Slow motion brings beauty to seemingly simple actions. This video is particularly compelling and beautiful because of its contrasty lighting and discordant, intense score.
“Dictaphone Parcel” – Bookending a chalk-drawn animation with stop-frame animation is effective here. I like how it starts with a “what if” (i.e. what if you mailed a tape recorder, what would you hear?) and we see how the animator chooses to visualize a sample of the sound collected during the package’s journey. It made me think how I would visualize things based solely on audio.
“LIAM” – I stumbled onto this self-proclaimed “smutographer’s” work recently and became so captivated by the videos he posted to his Vimeo account (much NSFW). I feel like there’s a narrative ready to break through here, but it doesn’t quite come through to me.
I decided I wanted to use the Z axis to set the size of the hand to make it a little more realistic as it moved to and from the camera. The next step is to rotate the hand so that if I wave it back and forth, it doesn’t stay upright (which looks a bit weird). I would have to know the position of the elbow as well in order to do that. Code below: