Wednesday, June 12, 2013

We Check Out the iOS 7 Beta for the iPhone

A new vlog is up! Last week we were horrible, horrible people and didn't get around to uploading a new vlog, but this week's is up and it's about iOS 7! I'll admit it, I'm an Apple Fanboy. I tune in to all of the conferences Apple has had over the years (even sometimes skipping class to watch them), I own countless Apple products, and I try to always stay up to date on the latest and greatest. So when the announcement for iOS 7 came out, I knew I had to get my hands on it.

Once I did, Kyle and I thought it would be perfect to do a vlog on. So in this video we show off some of the new things iOS 7 has and we do a little reviewing, keeping in mind that it's still just a beta and that some things are likely to change by the time of the GM release.

Without further ado! Oh, and please subscribe/like/comment on this video over at YouTube!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Arrested Development Season 4 and the Future of TV Thoughts

I've spent the past few weeks watching all three seasons of Arrested Development on Netflix in anticipation of the release of season four. Now it's out, and Kyle and I thought we'd do a vlog where we discuss our initial reactions to the season (we're still in the process of watching it all) and also commenting on where we think TV watching in general is heading.

Feel free to leave some comments to fuel a discussion!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

New Vlog About Lulu, a New App that lets Girls Anonymously Rate Guys

So I first heard about Lulu on Twitter because someone had tweeted randomly about it. Curious, I checked it out, and knew it would be perfect to do a vlog on. Kyle and I had a lot of fun making this one, and I think you'll find it pretty entertaining. After you watch it, comment either on this blog or over at YouTube letting me know what you think of the app. And don't forget to subscribe!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Worst Ninja Ever!

Kyle is the worst ninja ever! Look for our new vlog this coming Wednesday!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

We Review "The Great Gatsby" Movie

In this vlog, Kyle and I give our thoughts on "The Great Gatsby," out in theaters now. We had to film this vlog three times because for some reason, our camera (we were using a Canon 7D) would stop recording every now and then. So that was a pain.

It's a little longer than some of the previous videos, but we had a lot to say about this movie. Please, if you haven't done so already go and subscribe to us on YouTube!

PS - We are filming today for this week's Sunday skit!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

808 Originals Vlog 1 - Our Life Stories

Here's the first real vlog that Kyle and I made for our YouTube series. All in all, considering that neither of us have had much experience sitting in front of a camera in just talking, I think it turned out all right. Unfortunately, we talked for about 20 minutes but the camera only recorded about 12, so we lost a bunch of footage and I had to edit around that.

Look for the next vlog tomorrow! And please, subscribe to our YouTube channel if you like the videos and want to see more.

Monday, May 13, 2013

I'm A Lazy Poster (Introducing my YouTube series that started two weeks ago)

I knew this would happen. My class gets over and I would neglect my blog all over again. Well, I'm trying tuh-not-tuh.

Anyways, over the summer some of my roommates and I decided that we would make a series of videos on YouTube and post regularly. Every Wednesday, we are going to post a vlog, where my friend Kyle and I talk about, well, whatever we want to talk about, really. And then every Sunday we're going to post a skit that we made throughout the week. If you're interested in following along and seeing where this goes, please subscribe to my channel kmof1992 on YouTube. I'm going to post the videos here, too, but on YouTube you'll see it first.

And if you decided to skip the above paragraph, here's the first vlog video that explains everything:

I'm really excited about this opportunity, because I've always loved making short, fun videos with friends and this way I get to share them with everyone! Well, everyone who watches, that is.

I'm going to post everything we've done so far in a separate blog post, so look for that, and look forward to the newest video that will be up this Wednesday!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Amazing Race Audition Outtakes

Outtakes from Prescott and Ulysses' audition for "The Amazing Race." Our first Sunday skit. Look for more videos every Wednesday and Sunday!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

"My People" Photo Essay

Me, with the camera I used to capture these pictures, the Canon t4i

My people are filmmakers. We may have different interests and we may have different jobs but we all come together for the same purpose -- to make a film. This particular film is called "Open House" and it is for the Screen Arts 423 class at school, the largest production class that the University of Michigan offers. We started filming on March 15 and finally wrapped April 14 early in the morning, about 2 am. During that month, every weekend (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) I left campus and joined "my people" on set to make a movie.

Jackie Vresics, first assistant camera and camera operator, with the Sony F3

Although we had attended class together up to that point in the semester, we didn't know each other very well. Needless to say, over the course of that month I got to know everyone on our team, which numbered close to 30. Many of them are in the film department, but some were actors, some did art and design, and even a couple people were in business. We bonded over long shooting hours, pizza for dinner every night, broken equipment, and countless other challenges that we faced. In a way, they became my family. So when this photo essay was assigned, I knew immediately who would be the subject of my photos.

Rajan Sosale, the assistant director
Julie Vis, key grip, sets up a light on set
For these photos, I chose to do them mostly in portrait, so I could better capture the personalities of everyone on set. I also thought portraits would be good because on set we were dealing with mostly low lighting (since we were filming at night) and I figured portraits would come out better than wider shots. I used the Canon t4i DSLR camera with a 17-55mm IS lens attached to take all these photos, but I had to mess with settings quite a bit.

Quinn Scillian, actor, hamming it up for the camera
Phillip Maxwell, actor
Nick Skardarasy, actor, gestures during the filming of a scene

Again, lighting was fairly dim on the set, so I took the pictures when people were standing near the lights. I tried to avoid flash as much as possible, because it tended to overexpose the whole image. I turned up the ISO a lot, which accounts for some of the grain in these pictures, shot with the aperture wide open, and adjusted the shutter speed as necessary.

Trend Hibbard, one of our sound recordists and boom operators, with boom
Kasey Cox, second assistant camera. She was responsible for the slate.
One of the biggest issues I ran into when shooting these pictures (I have a lot of outtakes) was focus. Because of the low lighting and the lens I was using, getting the right part of the frame in focus proved to be very difficult. Sometimes I used the auto focus, but when it didn't work quite right I adjusted focus manually. 

Putting up a tension pole to hang lights from is a group effort
Everyone was so talented, and really wanted to do a good job, and were fun, nice people to be around, so although we worked long hours and things could get a little tense, I looked forward to heading to set every weekend and seeing the whole crew. Everyone has a unique personality, and there are a ton of jokers and comedians on set who loved to mess around, and I wanted these photos to reflect everyone's uniqueness, even though we were all together to accomplish the same goal. The actors, predictably, put themselves on display when the camera turned towards them, but so did some of the other crew.

"My People" are the filmmakers who came to set every weekend, sometimes at 7 or 8pm and prepared to work until dawn, excited and ready to work. We had a lot of fun together, but we also worked really hard and the product of our work, "Open House" is a half-hour short film that will premiere at the Lightworks Film Festival in the Natural Science Auditorium next Friday and Saturday, the 26th and 27th of April.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Conflict in a Frame

Conflict between subjects

Conflict between textures

Conflict between colors

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Weekly Summary: Digital Storytelling

This week in class we started working on our final in-class projects. I'm working on a documentary video that follows the rest of the class as they work on their own in-class final projects. It's going pretty well, I've got some good footage.

Outside of class, I did the seven daily shoots and watched and posted a response to a documentary about Diane Arbus.

Daily Shoot: Photo With High Contrast
Daily Shoot: A Portrait
Daily Shoot: A Self-Portrait
Daily Shoot: An Extreme Close-Up of A Recognizable Object
Daily Shoot: A Photo of Something's Shadow
Daily Shoot: A Photo of Something Normally Considered Ugly
Daily Shoot: "Rooting for Your Team" - Universal Theme
Response to "Masters of Photography" Documentary

Response to "Masters of Photography" documentary

Holy crazy hair Batman.

I really enjoyed looking at all the photographs in this documentary, most of them pictures of people, while hearing quotes from Diane Arbus, as well as hearing other people talk about her who knew her.

One thing in particular that stood out was Marvin Israel talking about how for Diane, it was always about the experience of the photograph was important rather than about the photograph itself. That really stood out for me, because I feel like a lot of people are really obsessed with taking really great technical pictures, of taking really beautiful pictures, but for me that's not what it's about at all. It's not about taking a photograph and making it as beautiful as possible, it's about capturing the beauty of the moment itself as it occurs. The spontaneity and the experience itself makes the photograph beautiful.

Another thing I found interesting that was mentioned was that Diane liked "photographing freaks." It's interesting, again, because so often people are caught up in photographing a beautiful subject, but Diane found something beautiful or interesting in people who were maybe not objectively attractive, or were somehow different from the norm. It's a different kind of beauty, but I still find it very interesting that she chose to photograph those kinds of people.

Daily Shoot: "Rooting For Your Team" - Universal Theme


Daily Shoot: A Photo of Something Normally Considered Ugly


Daily Shoot: A Photo of Something's Shadow


Daily Shoot: An Extreme Close-Up of a Recognizable Object


Daily Shoot: A Self-Portrait


Daily Shoot: A Portrait


Daily Shoot: Photo With High Contrast


Monday, April 8, 2013

Weekly Summary - Digital Storytelling

This past week we finished up our last design projects and dove into photography with several daily shoots. I started the week by making a couple minimalist posters and a GIF, as well as responding to the short story "Jon." The daily shoots were several different types of photographs. Lastly, I posted about 3-point lighting, something I've been learning a lot about lately in my production class.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower Minimalist Poster
Zou Bisou Bisou GIF
Response to "Jon"
Daily Shoot: Create a photo that features a repeating pattern
Daily Shoot: Take a photograph that emphasizes the sky by placing the sun very low or very high
Daily Shoot: Make a photo that looks better in black and white than it did in color
Daily Shoot: Take a photo that pays special attention to the rule of thirds
3-Point Lighting Setup

Sunday, April 7, 2013

3-Point Lighting Setup

Right now I'm Gaffer on a short film for my 423 class. The Gaffer is in charge of setting up all the lighting on the set. As a result I've been reading a lot on lighting, and one of the first things that is mentioned is 3 point lighting. It's a basic lighting setup, but after being on set for about a month now, I'm realizing how crucial learning this setup is. So that's why I figured I'd talk about it now.

The name is kind of misleading because often in this setup more than 3 lights are used (I'll explain in a moment), but there are three variations of lights used. The first one is the key light. It's typically placed between 60 and 70 degrees from the camera, and it causes shadows on the opposite side of the face because it's a harder light (the closer the key light is to the camera, the flatter the lighting).

A key light from the side.

This is why a softer fill light is used, to fill in some of the shadows. The fill is placed on the other side of the camera at a similar angle as the key, although while the key is usually about eye-level, the fill light is usually raised a little higher so that any shadows it makes fall on the ground rather than onto the background. A double shadow is not generally something you want in your image. The fill light is not usually as bright as the key, but it varies because you adjust the brightness of the fill depending on how much contrast you want in your image.

A key light with a little fill from camera left.

The last light used is the backlight, and it goes, predictably, behind the subject. The backlight is raised up high, though not directly overhead, and is used to separate the subject from the background by throwing light onto the back of the head and the shoulders (if the subject is a person).

Just the backlight; also called a hair light.

As I mentioned before, most of the time more than 3 lights are used because although the subject should now be lit, the background isn't. So one or more background lights is used. There are also a couple other kinds of lights, like a kicker. A kicker is similar to a backlight but it's usually placed at an angle and throws light across the side of the face from behind.

Key, fill, and backlights in one image

On set, we use variations on the 3-point lighting setup all the time, simply because it works. The subject may be placed in a different place in the frame, and the lights may need to be adjusted slightly, but the 3-point lighting setup provides a good foundation for understanding lighting.

Daily Shoot: Take a photo that pays special attention to the rule of thirds

Daily Shoot: Make a photo that looks better in black and white than it did in color

Daily Shoot: Take a photograph that emphasizes the sky by placing the sun very low or very high

Taken over Spring Break in Florida

Daily Shoot: Create a photo that features a repeating pattern

The rug by my front door.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Response to "Jon"

What a crazy story.

The most compelling and memorable thing about "Jon" is the way it is written. It sounds like it's written by a child, or someone who is uneducated, because there is a certain disregard for conventional sentence structure, the word "like" is used a lot, there aren't quotation marks... there are just a lot of errors that you might see a child just learning to write make. This makes it hard to understand the story sometimes, but it also provides a unique, interesting voice.

The story itself was compelling, though very strange. I found myself drawn in by the protagonist's voice, empathizing with his desire for real connection with a person rather than with, well, his hand. I can also understand the desire to exit his situation as a product tester (?). In today's consumer society, sometimes it feels like that's what the consumer is.

I enjoyed reading the story, though.

"Zou Bisou Bisou" GIF

To do this gif, I followed this tutorial. It took me a really long time to do, and I'm still not too happy with it (I think most of it has to do with the file size of the original video.) I skipped over the sharpening section, which maybe is why there is less color and more grain in the gif than in the original.

But I chose to do this because I love 30 Rock and I love Mad Men, and I remember laughing out loud when I saw this happen on the live 30 Rock episode, since I had just seen the corresponding Mad Men episode.

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Perks of Being a Wallflower Minimalist Posters

These pictures were relatively easy to make. I just found the images online, used the magnetic lasso tool to get just the typewriter and just the 45 single, added the text (courier new bold) and then filled in the green background. To get the right color I opened the original movie poster in photo shop and then used the color sample tool.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Weekly Summary: Digital Storytelling

Lots of posts this week. We dove right into designing images. After learning some Photoshop basics in class, I used what I had learned to practice with the roller coaster swap and the album without sound, which I chose for my choice design assignment.

For the other assignments, I did the color splash, minimalist poster of a location, and Ted talk image. Finally, I found a minimalist image from the web that I thought was compelling, and shared my reasons for that.

I'm looking forward to next week's assignments!

Favorite Cover from "Albums Without Sound"
Roller Coaster Face Swap
An Album Without Sound
Design Assignment: Black and White Picture
Minimalist Poster - Jack Rabbit Slim's from Pulp Fiction
Ted Talk: Britney Spears on "How to Go Bald"
Minimalist Image Design

Minimalist Image Design

By Hengki Koentjoro, from here

This images is so compelling to me because of its simplicity. Of course, for it to be a minimalist image it must be simple, so that's no surprise. When I look at this image, I imagine that the dock represents my life, and I am continually stepping forward, out into the grey, the unknown. I can't tell what's in the distance; only the next few steps are clear to me. And I find that thought relatable.

This image kind of takes advantage of some of the concepts Williams discusses. There is some contrast between the edge of the dock and everything else, but the water and the sky would be completely indistinguishable if not for the faint line along the horizon.

The lack of color is repeated in the image, the color grey is everywhere, albeit in different shades. But being a minimalist image, there aren't a lot of different components in the image that can repeat themselves.

The dock is aligned in the bottom-middle of the image, and gives the impression of a point of view shot, which contributes to what I mentioned earlier.

And I'm not too sure how to apply proximity to this image.

Again, because this is minimalism, and the focus is on simplicity, the key to a good image is delivering a message using as few elements as necessary for it to still be effective. So the design has to reflect that.

Ted Talk: Britney Spears on "How to Go Bald"

This one was pretty fun. I'm not sure how the idea came to me, but I knew it was perfect.

1. I downloaded the Ted talk template from here (scroll to the bottom of the post), and opened it.

2. I found all the images that I wanted from the Internet, downloaded them, and opened them into Photoshop.

3. I used the magnetic lasso tool to select the parts of the images that I wanted, then I copied and pasted them into the Ted template.

4. I used transform (control+T) to resize and move them to where I wanted.

5. Next I used the rectangle tool to draw out the plus and equals signs.

6. Finally, I used the rectangle tool to draw the blue background. I used the paintbucket tool to make it blue. Then I used transform again to maneuver the rectangle into position.

And it's done!

Minimalist Poster - Jack Rabbit Slim's from Pulp Fiction

My process:

1. I found an image from the Internet with the text and logo, so I downloaded it and then imported it into Photoshop.

2. I used the magnetic lasso tool first to draw out the rabbit, then I created a new project and made the poster dimensions 5" x 7" (because the images were already small). I copied the rabbit and pasted it into this new project.

3. Next I used the quick selection tool to select the text (it also selected some parts of the image I didn't want), and copied and pasted the text into the new project as well. I then used the magic wand tool to select the extra parts that I didn't want and deleted them until I was left with just the text.

4. Finally, I clicked on the background layer and used the paintbucket tool to fill in the purple color.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Design Assignment: Black and White Picture

This one was actually really easy to do. I put the photo into Photoshop, used the lasso tool to draw out the shoes, then copied and pasted them onto the original image. I made the original photo the top layer, then decreased saturation until it was black and white (the filter needs to be applied only to the top layer, not the layer with just the shoes), and then lastly I erased the shoes on the top layer, revealing the color underneath. And viola!

An Album Without Sound

The idea for this comes from here, a blog called Albums Without Sound. This is how it works (from the blog):

1) Go to wikipedia and select "Random article". This article gives you the names of the band

2) Go to and click on "Random Quotes". The first or last four or five words of the very last quote on the page is the title of your album.

3) Go to flickr and click on "Explore the last seven days". The third picture-- no matter what it is-- will be the album cover.

So I did that and put everything together using Photoshop. Really all it entailed was opening the image in Photoshop and then added text using the text tool, moving it around and changing the font to my liking. I think it turned out pretty well!

Roller Coaster Face Swap

This is what I did in class the other day for practice in using Photoshop. First I imported the original picture into Photoshop, used the lasso tool to draw around the funny face, and copied and pasted it onto the image for as many faces as there are in the picture. Then I dragged the faces over to the other faces, used transform (control+T) to resize them, deleted the face underneath, and then blended the new face with the rest of the old face. And BAM, here it is.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Favorite Cover from "Albums Without Sound"

Courtesy of:

I love this album cover. The past few weeks I've been obsessed with minimalism, so I'm a huge fan of the simplicity of the cover. The text on the top right is small and unobtrusive and colored with simply colors. It also strangely seems to fit with the picture. "Mass Flow Rate" makes me think of the movement of the water, and the title "It Goes On Forever" fits because the water and sky on the horizon seem to continue on forever as well.

The color are also awesome. Those shades of purple and yellow complement each other perfectly. The image is just a beautiful picture, one of the best sunset pics I've seen.

The album cover also makes me think that if this band actually put out this album, it would be maybe atmospheric, electronic, indie, that it would sound somehow nostalgic and emotional. It would be mellow, soothing music, and I'm a fan of that. So that's why this album cover stood out.