Last Friday night, I was staying up late as usual working on my journal entry with heavy eyes and a sore mouse-finger, when I realised that my friend Cat had sent me three emails inviting me to a short-film festival at Federation Square – some of the short films were shown on Friday, some on Saturday. If I had checked my email a little earlier then I would probably have gone to that Friday session, because Cat herself had worked on one of the short films shown that night. But it was too late for that, so I thought, "Oh well, I'll go to that film festival tomorrow afternoon, even though Cat's film won't be shown then."
And so it was that I found myself standing outside Federation Square the next day. I was a little early. It was Buddha's Day and many multicultural things were going on in the forecourt – I saw some sculptures made of carrots and other vegetables, they were very finely crafted. I saw a covers band, and a big statue of Buddha where people were praying and making offerings. By and by it started raining, so I went inside the Federation Square building, which is one of those buildings on the "cutting edge" of modern architecture. Some people love it, some people hate it. Me, I like certain parts of it up close but not so much from a distance.
There I saw a couple of guys busking, and they were playing big xylophones. I looked at one of the guys and realised, that this was a guy who used to be a drummer in my band, back when the band was called "Gitchi". He recognised me and said hi, and he continued to play the xylophone with much skill and precision. After that I walked down the street and I thought to myself, "Wouldn't it be fun, to make a website entirely devoted to busker reviews? There are so many buskers in the city, and most of them don't get any recognition. I could leave my web-site address in their hat along with my donation." But, I thought, I don't really have time for that sort of thing.
At the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, there were free lollies near the entrance and they tasted very nice. I went inside the cinema and watched the films. These were not just ordinary films – they were all made in a very special way. They were all filmed and edited within a fifteen hour period on one particular day. Apparently, at the start of the fifteen hours the film-makers were given a line of dialogue and an object, and they had to include both the line and the object in their film. In this case, the object was an origami cat, and the line of dialogue was "Do not the tiger and the wolf love their children?" So, all the films that I saw today had that in them, and they all looked a bit rough as if they had been made in a hurry. Some of them were so bad, they would make you cringe. But some of them were good.
On the tram
Cat had said (in her email) that she thought perhaps I might be interested in entering this film competition. And when I read that, I thought, "No I won't." I'm not a film-maker – the only films I've made have been for school projects and I don't have access to the equipment anymore. I don't even have a video camera – computer animation is my medium of choice and that doesn't really lend itself to this fifteen-hours concept. I mean, my last project took fifteen weeks. "But wait, Stephen", I thought. "Maybe if you made something really simple, with nothing too time-consuming, you could make an interesting computer-animated film within fifteen hours. If you can make one minute of animation in one hour, then you can make fifteen minutes of animation in fifteen hours."
It was quarter to six when I arrived home. I had only one hour to spare before I went out again, to a gig with my friend Boris at the Laundry, so I decided to test my theory by turning on the computer right there and then, and attempting to make sixty seconds of computer animation using 3D Studio Max. I put in three-dimensional text ("Do not the tiger and the wolf love their children?") and made the text move around and stuff. In the end, I found that I did create sixty seconds of animation, but it took seventy-five minutes and I was late. Of course, if I was really making a film in fifteen hours there would be other time-consuming factors like the editing, the audio, the rendering and probably heaps of other technical things. So I don't know if it's possible.
That evening, I played a gig at the Laundry. Normally, when Boris and I play gigs, it's with a full band, drums and bass included. But this time, the drummer and the bass-player couldn't make it. So it was just a quiet gig – I'd call it an "acoustic" gig, but that's a bit of a misused word, as we were electrically amplified in every way. Anyhow, there we were, on stage as a duo. I played keyboard and sang along with Boris when he needed a bit of harmony-backing. The audience was tiny. Later on that night, two more bands played and they were extremely loud – I wished I'd remembered to bring my earplugs 'cause they were deafening. And meanwhile I became drunk. You see, when you play a gig at the Laundry you normally get a couple of free drinks, and I had wine. I also bought a third glass because Boris paid for 60% of it – he was especially keen to see me drink the alcahol so that I'd be happy.
The bands were all right, but not very.
According to the ads on TV, Mothers Day is just around the corner. So I decided that I'd make a little card, with pretty photographic images and computer-printed text. "But Stephen," I said to myself, "How will you do that, if you don't have a colour printer?" Well I examined my options and I decided to print the words in black and white, then photocopy them onto transparent acetate and superimpose them onto the photographs, then take them to a colour photocopy shop and ask the people there to enlarge them.
So I looked through my collection of photographic prints, but none of them were really suitable. All my best recent photographic efforts have been digital, including photos of Mum that I could use on the card. "Wouldn't it be nice," I thought, "if I could print out some of these digital photos?"
So on Monday, I selected twenty-four of my best images and burnt them to a recordable-compact-disc. Then I took the disc to a little shop in Acland Street which processes photos, and one of the things they do is print digital photos from disc onto the glossy photographic paper so that they look just like normal photos. It only took an hour and I was mostly happy with the results. One thing I learnt, though, is that the prints tend to have slightly different proportions in their measurements so the top and bottom of the photo are always cut off. And they are one dollar per print, which is not too bad I guess.
Flash animation – move your mouse over it and see what happens. Hmmm maybe I just got lazy this week and did some scribbles. Or maybe I was inspired by Federation Square's randomness.
And while I was down on Acland Street, I saw that guy again – the ex-band drummer guy who'd been playing xylophone at Federation Square – this time he was doing Tarot readings at his table set up on the pavement. Mmm that's a co-incidence again. Maybe I should've got him to read my future. But he was busy, and anyway I don't believe in that stuff.
Click to enlarge
I finished my Mothers Day card, and then I wrote a letter to Cat, telling her how much I'd enjoyed the film festival thing, and a bunch of other stuff. Cat is seeming more interesting day by day, the way she opens the lines of communication. I told her to call me so that we could arrange a time to meet in real life. Apparently, when she was much younger, she used to raise silkworms. And I did, too. That's a bit of a co-incidence, just one of the many things Cat and I have in common. I have some interesting photos of silkworms that I took when I had them. The silkworms got sick, so some of the photos are rather unpleasant.
But this one isn't.
I'm still working on the left side of my painting – you wouldn't notice much difference but this week I worked on the girl's face and hair, her t-shirt, and the guy's hand. It's coming along slowly and steadily.
I watched this movie called Hollow Man on TV last Sunday – it was absolutely terrible. I mean I've seen some bad movies in my time but this was really bad – I mean, it was so bad that it was good. It's about this bunch of scientists who figure out a way to make people invisible, and as an experiment they make the head scientist invisible. And then he starts doing evil stuff and killing people. This film has hundreds of scientific flaws, logic-holes and inconsistencies. The worst one, I suppose, is that the invisible man wouldn't be able to see, because the lenses of his eyes were invisible so they wouldn't be focussing light on his retina. And he gets invisible by injecting a serum into his bloodstream – how would that serum get into his hair and his fingernails, which are made of dead cells? But the special effects were pretty spectacular, I guess.
What's the deal with Celine Dion? I don't like her. But I probably would like her if she weren't so rich and phony.
I'm reading this book called "Something Happened." by Joseph Heller. So far, it's about this guy who has a really boring middle-management position in a big company. The way he describes it, it sounds like his life is unfulfilling and he's constantly living in fear of his superiors. When I read this, I think to myself, "I'm glad I don't work in an office job. My life could have been just like that."
Historical photo of the week:
Stephen Clark, eight years old
This week at the Laundry karaoke night I took lots and lots of photos – I tried to take photos of everyone who sang, including myself. The guy in charge is paying me to take photos, so it didn't feel as fun as usual – it felt like work. And I wasn't sure if he preferred photos with a flash or without, so I used the flash sometimes. I sang two songs – the first one was "Do Wah Diddy" by Manfred Mann and that was pretty easy. The second one was the theme from "Shaft" by Isaac Hayes – choosing this song was a strategic decision because it has an eighty-seven bar intro, and that gave me time to take a few photos of myself on stage using the timer. I even tried setting up the camera on the floor in front of the stage to take a photos of myself from there, but some guy messed up the shot by getting in the way.
the clown who messed up the shot
After the song was finished (I sang it really badly, but on purpose), some girl came up to me and said, "Get back on stage, so that I can take a photo of you with your camera." But I said, "It's too late." So she said, "Well, let me take a photo of you anyway, off-stage. I'm a good photographer." I didn't really care because if she was going to hold the camera then she'd have to use the flash, and I wouldn't have any use for a flash picture of myself, but I complied, anyway, 'cause she was so nice. Then, after she had taken the photograph, she said, "Now take one of me!" Well, I thought to myself, this girl is so nice, I wouldn't want to use a flash to photograph her because that would make her look flat and pasty. So I knelt down by the coffee table so that I could steady the camera on that, to take a long-exposure shot of the girl. But she took that as a signal of non-compliance, and she walked away.
I took sixty-eight photos on that night, though I later discarded more than half of them.