BloomBoom

It’s a temporary title, I might change it to “ From Amaranth to Zantedeschia”. The theme I had done in my slide-AV days, some people called it “Veg-City” after the big fruit + veg retailer. Scanning slides was not an option for this AV. BloomBoom is not a garden show, that will be a different Audio-Visual, more about home gardening with its joys and tribulations  ( mainly pests, sharing the fruits of one’s labour).

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That little spider on the Poppy I only noticed, once I had transferred the images to the PC.

Feb. 2018.  Presently I have my “BloomBoom” 70% finished. This 1-minute MP4 file is about 7.7 MB, resolution 800 x 450 pix. I extracted 3 parts, one for each section of the sound. Very slow beginning, medium-pace middle and a really fast end.

The clip includes the transition from medium to fast pace at the poppies.

The overlay on seven of the yellow coreopsis blooms you just saw briefly, coming in from left to right, synced with the beats: 1-2-3-4-5-6—7.  A special effect, not done with any of these “300 new effects in our new…………version”

7 coreopsis heads on blinking water

Just recently our (outgone) chairlady at the local photo club urged the dwingling membership to go into Audio-Visual making, after all “you will have thousands of images on your harddrive, so what’s stopping you to make AVs?”  That’s the same old ignorance, as long ago a viewer asked me after a slide-AV screening: “I got boxes and boxes of slides stacked away, will you help me to make AVs?”

AV makers will know that the above sentiment is certainly not the the right way to make meaningful AVs or Videos.

In the Harold Porter Botanical Garden

In the Harold Porter Botanical Garden.  

My idea of “50 /50”  means 50 meters – 50 km.   So far 80% of my subjects I find within our gardens and for more inspiration there is the Harold Porter Botanical Garden about 25 km from here. That’s where my motto “travelling light” comes in, photographically and environmentally. I keep my compact camera until it gives up. It’s the second one since 2006.

A 12 – second sequence took me really very long. Now I’m thinking up more complicated szenes. Some ideas work, others don’t.

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A "rare visitor" the book states, but this Cape Eagle Owl seems to like our garden.

Birds of a Feather – they all come together

I’m not a real birder…….not with my compact camera. But what if those feathered friends insist to be pictured?  I just oblige.

Here I tried the “coninuous” mode, which delivers 6 images in 1.5 seconds or  the faster setting, giving me 6 pictures in 1 second. After that, the processor has a break to store the files. With big cameras you get 8 images per second and you can shoot dozens in one go. Those machines also give you extreme super sharpness, detailing every minutest detail, which the normal eye cannot detect – wow!

With this Owl the medium speed was good.  I did miss the “stuka – attack” of a Bul-Bul (Bottergat) which dive-bombed the peaceful Owl. That’s more a matter of one’s anticipation and reaction, but a superfast on-going rapid-shoting mode would help.

The natural light in the eye in the close-up shots is perfect, but I’m not so happy about the sharp round light in some of the other shots at the end. No flash used, but a gold-colour reflector which enhanced the plumage, also created the “pin-prick” effect in the eye.

Thomas, May 2017

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Kamieskroon Hotel, venue of Photo-Workshops

AGAPE remembered

A short Audio Visual, mainly for club photographers  and especially as a leg-pull for insiders of that elite photographers’ group “AGAPE”.  If you stick around long enough in the amateur photo-scene you will notice these separate little clubs developing. Membership is by invitation only, I don’t know the criteria. The anointed ones prefer to keep their “club” a secret, but have the urge to manifest their superiority.

Being a bit annoyed by their behaviour, I thought of a short skit, still in the slide – days. AGAPE used the twice-yearly photo-weeks in Kamiskroon (Northern Cape) to meet up with the famous Canadian photographer Freeman Patterson.

I was not participating in those meetings, but a young friend went for one week and I gave him a shooting list for all the photos I needed. Robert owed me a little favour, he had moved to Cape Town from Namibia and I took him to various photo clubs for two years.  We also fed him up a bit and I helped him along starting his own AV making.  He first got inspired by a multi-projector open- air show in the desert near Windhoek, helping the organiser / photographer.

The AGAPE skit is the only AV  using to 95 % my scanned slides, because most shots are “historical”. I replaced only a few slide-images  with new digital files, in order to retain the “grotty” look of the original, e.g. cut-up photos, illustrations from books and magazines etc. – nowadays one would set the scanner to de-screen.  And certainly one would not physically cut and paste as I had done at the start.

Experts know that Nikon never made a “F8” model, but the wording had to rhyme. So, I painted that over the original F-whatever it was, rather amateurishly, on purpose of course.

Writing lyrics was a first for me. The famous song ( Ag Pleez Deddy ) by Jeremy Taylor is known to every one in South Africa across generations. I arranged with a music student, who sung to her guitar playing, recording it in the studio of the Stellenbosch University, Drama Department.  She just checked my lines, chose the different keys and after two takes it was perfect, especially the very emphasised end.

Have a look at parts of the original text sheet.   ag-pleez-part-text-734x582

 

 

 

As usual for my AV making, the sound is either complete or planned in detail before I do the visuals.

Telling a personal story in song, one cannot freely interchange visuals. It’s ideal to plan sound and visuals in parallel.

Naturally I chose the plants growing in the areas mentioned or at least in the type of habitat. Finding and photographing them took a season or two.  When I screened the series at an AV Convention in Velddrif  (West – Coast ) there was “not a dry seat in the house”, as the saying goes.   VELDDRIF I remember at a later Photo-congress, where I started another AV, or so I had hoped. It did not work out with the pictures I made. Re-planning the show with video clips ( about wine-tasting ) will be quite involved in the making. More on that, once I have made some progress.  —-  Thomas   Feb. 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lake of Stars – MALAWI

Short as this introduction to Malawi is, it needs a different beginning and also the end I will change. Enough Ideas, but when do I get down to it ?  with all my (self-inflicted) commitments.

“M A L A W I – the warm Heart of Africa”   that’s how we first got to know that small, interesting, not-so-well-known country.

Our third visit to Malawi  was the shortest stay, just under a week. We meant to go onto the Lake Steamer again, but changed our plans and concentrated on a small area around Senga Bay. Livingstonia Beach Hotel rents out tents on their large informal area. The “Front of House Manager” Richard Mwase organized some local young mothers for a photo shoot as well as the “Kuche – Kuche Family Band” a group playing their traditional, acoustic instruments and singing of course. The introduction is a bit over 4 minutes long. If you watch it, you might realize, why it took me hours and hours to get this Audio-Visual / Video together. For the longer show I will sort out my previously captured images, slides and no Video then, or if everything goes well, we make another trip to that special country.

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PIZZA – the AV / Video

I am talking Audio-Visual with Video integration here, mostly to fellow photographers / AV makers and to those of my peers who want to produce good Audio-Visuals. Do I have peers? I don’t think so — the serious photographers I know all have larger and more cameras than I will ever have. Fine with me, I am “travelling light”. How would you know a serious Photographer?  No selfies!

Making a PIZZA  with ready-made dough?!  Did that once only, and that’s similar to taking other people’s  images from the Internet  – without checking CC or asking for permission – and make your AVs. If it’s impossible to check, the least AV – makers must do, give credit.

The music we usually borrow and of course we attribute our sources, don’t we?

Maybe one should try to get away from using complete CD tracks. In AVs we still experience sound crudely faded out at the end of the visuals, that’s just not acceptable.

I aim for more interesting, complicated and layered sound tracks, each tailored to a particular show.

My then local music friend (recording studio,) gave me a choice of 2 songs by JJ Cale, of which a Hermanus muso was recording his own cover versions. I could use his instrumentals with my words.
As I am not a trained lyrics writer this part of the show took me fairly long to do. A good method is counting the syllables of the original song, line by line, and writing your words accordingly. Time-consuming, but I don’t want to make AVs where you could just take any melody for your visuals.

Somebody had to sing my lyrics. The entertainer guy played hard to get. I tried a busker then, no go. Again, a lot of time wasted. Finally my music guy contacted a gospel singer – Zach. We did two takes and the song plus some words for the end were done.

That’s a year after starting the project.zach-with-soundtrack-large

Thinking up a variety of setting I tried several for each shot, fitting the words. For the final product I had a sequence to follow, e.g. rolling the dough comes after kneading, but sieving and mixing first.

For this short clip I did not have to listen to the beat for synchronising my movements as the music was ingrained in my head. That happens when you make involved AVs.

The video clip with the large clock face indicates the 15 minutes kneading the dough.  “900 seconds…” fits smoother into the text than “15 minutes”. Both clips are very small, 250 and 400 KB.


I asked the singer about syntax and we changed some words slightly. I show the almost finished product at the beginning where the rhythm is just made for that sequence- decorating the dough. The end is a revision to round off the whole process, also repeating certain points, which might have gone too quickly or not noticed by viewers in detail, because the rhythm is fairly fast, 180 BPM.

Experimenting a lot throughout the series was time consuming, but good for learning. Olive oil directly on the flour looks dull, I even tried oil drops on top of the LEDs, but finally settled for oil on a hollowed brass ring.

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bring some live / light into the bottle

brightening the liquid in bottles is an old trick


Most of my special effects are not program-based, the first three credits I wrote in the Title Editor, but how to let them vanish? The shadow at the bottom of the roller helped a lot combined with carefully chosen dissolve times. The upper side was too bright.

Camera? My one and only is a compact type, Nikon Coolpix P 7700. Naturally I use tripods, an old one hangs permanently suspended in my studio / store-room, a home-made copy stand is indispensable for me, a spare camera shoe I mounted to a ceiling beam in the kitchen. A fully articulated camera monitor is essential, and a little remote control eases the work. If you look very closely you can see this in my first shot of grating the cheese.

I hate the question about the programme; usually this comes first after an AV show. So I tell you now: It’s the German “m.objects” by Steffen Richter. It works with multiple tracks and that suits me, because I was used to that track-based program for slide-AV: One track per analogue projector; if you needed more tracks for complicated programming, then you had to get more projectors.m-objects-programme-1280-x

My picture to video ratio for this AV is a bit more than one third video, 120 files all together including sound. The projection version I saved as 1920x 1080 pix. size 165 MB. The monitor version is much smaller.

Tomatoes

Timing was important on certain shots, my tomatoes were plentiful and at their prime in mid-summer. My favourite ones are Oxheart – in the center. I also tried Romans – on the right.

To get all the planned shots, I made about six Pizzas , all of them we enjoyed.    yeast-cu-with-textPhotographically this type of AV is not demanding. You take all your photos at home and in the garden – at least in the neighbourhood. No travelling time and expense, because you need better pictures of a landscape in certain light and weather conditions in a particular region.  My idea of “travelling light” is not just to do with photographic equipment, my footprint should also be light.


Coming back to my heading: “ AV – Video ”. The digital age allows us to incorporate video with ease, so it seems. What I see on YouTube and other channels is to 70% gruesome – we need a lot of education here.

Some photo-clubs and Audio – Visual competitions want to restrict you to a percentage of video within you AV production, really!

My standpoint is: If you need Video in your Audio – Visual, use as much as necessary. Reserve stills for static objects. When digital came to force out traditional slides, just about everybody let those stills turn and twist like crazy on the screen. And ZOOM! Everything has to be zoomed without rhyme or reason – dreadful. I hope that those special effects will lose their appeal eventually and Audio – Visual with or without Video is getting better amongst discerning amateur photographers.

Thomas, first version finished in 2014, last update June 2018

 

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Venice – a week of bliss

 

Venice intro-clip, 11 MB from niemolens on Vimeo.

 

A work in Progress, very much so, as I only learnt recently, how to determine the Video file sizes. I will render Videos in the various Projects as 800 x 450 pix and replace the one above as soon as I continue.

Of course all photography and video is my own work, I don’t beg, steal or borrow from the internet. Google Earth Pro is a different matter. I have seen an AV where the maker used historical images, acknowledged them and produced a superb series. I strongly recommend to PSSA (our head organisation for Photo Clubs in South Africa) to introduce a “PRODUCTIONS” category for AV contests.

The present “V E N E Z I A”  is an intro to a travel Audio – Visual, comprising stills, video clips and sound of course. A trailer in commercial video would have the most outstanding scenes, blink-of-the-eye type. These 80 seconds show the actual beginnings of an estimated 12 to 14 minutes feature on Venice, which is only a fraction of what one can experience there.

February, 2017

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