New edit of Washer Woman

Since the last post a couple of months ago I have had to totally re-negotiate the raw material and edit for the work we shot on this project. Having edited quickly using Lightroom to export mp4 timelapse pieces at 15 frames per second and then Premiere to edit the sequences together, and integrating video shot on set, I have discovered that this workflow is a complete disaster! Firstly, I have had to take all the array sequences from Lightroom to Photoshop to align them all against the grid background (long story, but we aligned the cameras to the centre of the set but the array sequences were really jittery with the gridded background almost strobing across the back of the set) and then re-export the individual frames as Tiffs. These were then sequenced at 8 frames per second in After Effects and the film was edited in layers with adjustments to levels and colours to try to match up the various cameras and capture styles represented as well as I could. I know there still needs to be a lot of work done on the grading and the movement needs a final edit with osound, but I thought I'd post this as an acknowledgement of the re-thinking of the workflow and as a semi-final edit.

I am meeting with Carol wellman Kelly (choreographer) this afternoon to talk about how the piece works (or doesn't) as an exploration of movement from a choreographic perspective so am looking forward to her notes about what we could consider for the final edit. I am also in discussion with a sound compoer about ways of approaching the sound, so it's good to finally start to get the bal rolling on this side of things.

Credits - Thanks to Clelend Jones for editing advice in terms of workflow, and instruction on how to use After Effects! Also thanks to Mira Soulio to assistance on the alignment as well as editing.


A VERY rough cut of Washer Woman. This includes the raw array 'footage' which needs to be aligned. I am currently working on the alignment - trying out various processes including using 'Viewsalign' software vs Photoshop auto align layers - neither really does the job so far, so I am doing it manually which is incredibly time consuming. I'm also starting to think about sound. I'll post a new updated version as soon as I have something a little more polished. BUT the journey most certainly continues well beyond the project development phase!

More to come...


HLP Day Thirteen :: Bowden Creative Space

We finally got to set up a more impressive array of cameras today. We were aiming for 16 cameras (the maximum the Breeze software will allow using a single computer) but only managed to wrangle 14. Still, more than double the number we have worked with before.Needless to say it took quite a few hours to log & check each camera, rig it and then check & manage the synchronisation. I had 2 MAPS (Hamilton College) students with me to manage the array (Mik & Mira) and they were absolutely brilliant. I basically let them get on with it and they did a brilliant job of coordinating everything & problem solving as required. Peter Stanley was also on set to connect up his more developed (fancier) controller, with switches for various functions, and the ability to manage the firing of 16 cameras. Anyway, by 2pm we were ready to start testing and I think we started shooting around 3pm. We had a glitch in th ematrix as a result of shooting such Hi-Res files, with bottlenecking dropping frames in the array on the first take. So we decided to shoot at a smaller Raw file and had less problems after that. It was still a carefully managed timing system which was a bit restrictive, but we are starting to warm up to working with the array.

Here is a crew shot we took using the array at the end of the day..

Thanks to the crew for a great day!We would never have managed to gather the number of cameras we had if it wasn't for the imcredible support and generosity of Pete Hall from Urban Cine, who scoured the film industry for people with 5Ds that were available for us to use. Not only did he arrange them, with lenses and batteries etc, but he also ran around town to collect stray gear and dropped them off for us. Really wonderful - thanks Pete!!

I also need to thank the following people for their gear:: David Zhu, Ben Liew, Leanne Rovray, Carradean Farley, Des Berwick, Taryn Brumfitt, Sara Huffen & Clelend Jones. Thanks again guys!!

14 cameras on the arrayOK, will post more later, including array outcomes..


HLP Day Twelve :: Bowden Creative Space

We shot a final scenario today (I still don't really know what to call these 'vignettes'). Looking at the schedule for the next couple of days we decided we didn't want to put ourselves under too much pressure when we have the array set up, so we looked at the scenario least likely to benefit from the array and shot Isadora again. This time we resolved to shoot with the black panels, and explored the 'wrap' sequence backwards. Here are a couple of shots..

Watching the footage through tonight I realise I am still needing to warm up to this piece - it's strengths are in it's art references, and I really love the Venus de Milo pose and how it is used in this work - another of Carol's great ideas. We have a quirky and rather menacing scene where the character goes through a complex evolution before becoming our Isadora, and although I understand where she came from in terms of discussions and developments I'm not sure how she 'sits' with me. I think I'm not used to embracing the awkward, and this piece really does that in a few moments - this is exactly what we felt it needed though, after reviewing where it was part-development, so I think I need to work on the edit and see how the flow of the piece functions. The nudity is conceptually rigorous, and it's great that we are able to explore that in this piece. Having worked a lot with the nude in my 'early' years creating figurative work, I haven't done so in many years, partly due to a shift in my work after portfolio reviews in the UK which really challenged me to reconsider the figurative. Working in dance has been my pathway back to working creatively with the human form.

There were a few rather hilarious moments today - like watching Carol crawling around the studio floor to avoid being seen by the various cameras, and during the scene where Lisa's horse tail swishes (don't ask) Carol managed to pull the tail right off. Classic. A fun day with outcomes that need lots of downloading and then a rough edit will follow!

I plan to insert a few 'behind the scenes' pics here soon..

It's rather late and we have a big day tomorrow - first proper array day - aiming for a shoot with 16 cameras! We'll be shooting washer woman first-up. Exciting!

OK, here is a very rough draft of Isadora!


HLP Day Eleven :: Bowden Creative Space

I am The Midnight Blogger. Home late after teaching a digital photography class. Tonight I'm getting through it with a nice glass or red wine and dark chocolate.

Today we eased into the studio session with re-setting the grid onto the windows, this time using thick double-sided tape, which works a lot better but is less forgiving. But at least I know we can shoot a scene without bits falling off the background. We worked on fine-tuning the ending of the Isadora piece, considering using the fabric to wrap itself around the subject in a crazy auto-drapery session. It works quite well and reflects many of the themes of the piece in a simple strategy. I think the fabric needs to be more tightly wound perhaps, but I'm not sure that would be very comfortable for Lisa, who started to suffer a bit even in the 10 or so minutes it took to shoot. Lisa is incredibly precise and is able to hold positions between takes so well it's incredible - and I really feel for her as a 'mover' that this project has demanded so much stillness (anthropometric 10s scans included!). The irony is that the footage is absolutely frenetic!

We re-shot Isadora and this is the rough result. We need to fine-tune some of the fabric work and some movement details, as well as problem-solve the background. We have lost the lovely pale fragility and freshness of the white windows (see yesterday's blog video), but at least we have subject definition.This work is filled with postmodern references to photography (obviously), cinema, dance history and painting.

When Carol & I reviewed the footage at the end of the day, Carol suggested that we try black frames against the edges of the stage area to consolidate the background, so we played around with the flats that Cirkids have loaned us (thank you Cirkidz). Suddenly the stage area looked like a proper environment rather than a hovering specimen table with no functional context. Afer much fidding and discussion about impacts on lighting etc, we settled on a roung arrangement to start thinking about tomorrow. What I like about this solution is that it starts to function as more than a flat backdrop (which doesn't suit the array at all), and more like the shaped environment I was hoping to achieve when I designed the low-budget version of the set. I am really interested in this process - I had designed 5 blackboard flats to create an anthropometric set that could be shaped to match the array, and abandoned that when we decided to work with the windows. But I missed the potential of the side flaps to create shape - and these flats have been sitting in the studio for days as a potential solution, but I just didn't see it. As soon as Carol suggested it I thought 'of course!' - funny how things can sit under your nose without being seen.  It means, too that the array captures at the end of the rods aren't looking at distorted shapes, potentially. But it needs a lot of work to get it right and then it means we'll have to reassess the other background ideas. But I like that about this project - constantly shifting but around the same material. It may yet be abandoned, but here it is as we left it at the end of the day..

Carol propping up black fabric

considering all the elements

something to consider..Also on our agenda was to clarity the tennis layer metamorphosis, and to try to create the links in this work. We shot this tiny little sequence:

Tennis Characters

We also had a go at considering Washer Woman and the idea we've been discussing about her washing in sand. The sand idea came from the first test shoot we did to promote the idea of the project, and I really like the irony of the sand in the washbasin - simple. I wanted to try shooting the sand action on a slower shutter speed to see how the movement looked. BUT the sand was a real issue for Lisa to work with (as it was the first time), and when Carol looked at the packaging details on the sand packet (bought from a hardware store without a thought about any sand-related hazards) it had all these warnings about skin contact etc. Not friendly stuff at all. So after a slight panic and vigorous washing in real quality Bowden water, Lisa felt (I hope) better. We will have to revisit the sand idea with natural sand bought from Semaphore Beach tomorrow.