Winter Is Coming

Coming from Hawaii, there is something to be said about this time of year when seasons change, leaves start falling, and trees become naked as the winter approaches. This past weekend while working on a documentary project, I came across a peaceful scene where leaves were set to burn in a front yard of a countryside home just outside of Auburn, NY. Watch the newest video fragment posted to my site, along with two other scenes from this weekend's Central New York Veterans Parade held at the New York State Fair Grounds in Syracuse, New York.

View Fall Fire, Side Stepping, and Flag Waving


The Fall Workshop: Cut Time

This past weekend, 50 students from Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications descended on the village of Liverpool, about 15 minutes North of Syracuse, NY. Over the weekend, students would produce photo stories, video, and even radio pieces about the community and landscape of this town of about 2500 for The Fall Workshop. Broken up into small production teams, I had the good fortune of being placed on the A-Team with coaches Brad Horn, a freelance multimedia producer, and Keith Jenkins, Supervising Senior Producer for Multimedia at NPR, and fellow graduate students John Liau, Kristina Subsara, and Pete Caty.

Initially, I began shooting a story about the Maurer Funeral Home family business. However, two days before the kick-off of the workshop, the Maurer family decided that they would no longer allow me to film. In the next two days, I managed to connect with one of the two drum majors of the Liverpool High School marching band with the help of Mr. David Perry, director of the Fine Arts department. I was introduced to Kevin Coldren, 17, a senior and fifth-year marching band student, and his mother, Connie, the staunch supporter of her son and die-hard band mom. Unlike the marching bands I grew up with in Honolulu, the LHS marching band is predominantly a competitive field band, and rarely performs during football games.

For two days straight, it rained. It rained, it rained, it rained. It never stopped raining. I was thoroughly impressed that my Canon 5D MKII camera and audio gear all made it through the inclement weather. A bit of gaffers tape over exposed audio ports, and a constant wiping down of the gear made all the difference. The rain sure makes it harder than ever to focus when there's water on the front element of the lens, the LCD screen, and the eyepiece all at the same time. The band's homecoming performance was canceled on Friday, and so I was left with Saturday afternoon and evening to shoot before the 10 a.m. deadline on Sunday.

Everything worked out. Brad and Keith were champions, supporting us through the process and staying up the entire night with the A-team. I came away with a 3-minute video that explores the unique relationship between Kevin and his mother, and the uncertain future as they both prepare for the end of their final band season.

Check out the temporary workshop tumblr site for additional videos and photos from The Fall Workshop, and "Cut Time" on my Vimeo channel.

Thanks for reading.

Shifting Reality

I'm in my final semester at Syracuse University as a Masters student in Photography. Over the last year I had the fortune to study photojournalism, photo illustration, and multimedia production under the direction of Bruce Strong, Tom Kennedy, and Seth Gitner, to name a few professors in the Multimedia Photography & Design department (although Gitner is in Newspaper). It has been an intense experience leading up to this semester. During these last few months in Syracuse, I am actually not taking any courses in our department, and instead am taking a course in analytics, and two courses in the Television, Radio, and Film department, one of which is After Effects.

After Effects is a powerful software that allows you to manipulate video, animate illustrations, add special effects to movies, or, well the list goes on and on. As one of our first assignments, we had to animate a composition of still images. I elected to animate one of my first photographs from Cuba of a mother with her child on a payphone in front of a brilliant red wall. In addition to that, i wanted to bring in two boys on a scooter of a different picture, though of the same series from Cuba.

The Process:

I cut out every shape and body part that i wanted to animate. This included the fan blades, the gears of the fan motor, the mom's arms, her head, legs, torso, ankles, slippers, and the same for the young girl. Likewise, i cut out the two boys on the scooter, cutting out and separating each of their distinct body parts that I wanted to animate. Once I created a composite of each of these images, I brought the scooter boys into the payphone picture. In a very tedious process I animated each body party separately, rotating and placing them in space and keyframing them over time. Finally, I added in sound effects of a the scooter wheels rolling across pavement, the dial tone, and key tones of the keypad.

The Result:

Over a couple days I came away with an acceptable composition where the scooter boys flew across the sidewalk while the mom dialed the phone and the young girl danced next to her with the handset to her ear.

As a journalist it is always an odd experience to dabble in the world of fiction and illustration. To be able to combine two distinct moments in time, captured in separate places in Havana, that for 4 years existed in my life as separate entities, and animate them into a single event in time, was something of a conundrum. I now have a completely different experience with the payphone picture that hangs on my wall. I almost want to see the two boys fly across the sidewalk in tandem. I almost no longer wonder what the mom and daughter are thinking. Bear in mind, I'm not saying this is a brilliant work of art, rather it is of interset to myself to observe the intersection between journalism and illustration.