Jun 29, 2010

Creature Comforts

Created by Aardman Animation, the same studio that popularized Wallace and Gromit, Creature Comforts is a brilliant stop-motion/claymation short that plays off the idea that animals have a lot to say - specifically those in the close quarters of a zoo. While there have been several spin-offs and sequels to this idea, this is the original 1989 short that won Nick Park the Oscar for Best Animated Short in 1990.

I've always been a huge fan of stop motion and took a few cracks at it myself back in high school and film school. Aardman is one of the best claymation studios out there (and Nick Park is an incredibly talented animator) so I guess if there was ever a good place to look for inspiration this was it. Have a look for yourself.


Jun 28, 2010

Whatever Works

It's now been just over two years since my university career came to a close. Tail between my legs I packed up my life in the dorms after 6 years to move back home to Alberta and into my folks' basement. The real low was feeling like it was all for nothing. Broke, no job leads, and a strong sense that I had failed those who had looked at me with such promise when I said I was off to film school, I was without question in a state of deep self loathing.

I don't know that I would be where I am now, in fact I think things would've been extremely different, had I not been forced to pull myself out of that low. Returning home forced me to re-evaluate. Basement living wasn't the best, but it certainly helped me attack my student loans head on and over the course of these last two years has allowed me to sling shot into a fairly enviable position.

The timing of this post is certainly no coincidence.

This month marks the end of my post-university transition - a term that's seen a lot of wear on this blog - I'm moving out, I've repaid substantial portions of my student debt, I have two unique film/media jobs that are creatively rewarding, and for the first time in my life I can say that I'm able to completely support myself and my ambitions without borrowing.

Still, it wasn't easy, there were a lot of questions and a lot of thinking that I needed to do to get myself out of my slump. I needed to figure out how I could approach film and video in a smaller city and find a way to connect myself to the right people. Using a connection that I made at the Medicine Hat Film Festival I got an interview, and eventually a job with Stream Media Inc. as a videographer and editor working in corporate video. This was a dream come true working on videos for so many diverse clients - and me, just a kid right out of university actually being assigned complete projects to act as sole editor on.

As the economy cooled in early 2009 I was forced to find more work and took a job as a copywriter for Weddingstar Inc. Working for this wedding website retailer actually became a blessing in disguise as the company saw the potential in my promotional videos. Over the course of my first 6 months I ended up establishing and running the in-house photography and video department for the website. This meant buying cameras, lighting equipment, a new edit suite, etc. and to talk about growth potential, the company has doubled its office space (building a new addition and warehouse) in the single year that I've been there. My position also officially changed at the start of 2010 from creative copywriter to web media producer.

I now balance my full time work at Weddingstar with my contract work at Stream Media. Both present unique challenges, and both positions didn't exist until I started working for each company. It just goes to show that sometimes we have more impact than we give ourselves credit for. There are also perks that become available when doing a job you love really well (sorry, couldn't help myself).

The lesson I've learned is to scavenge for opportunities that actually relate to what you really want to be doing - even when it may seem far fetched given your current location. Start small by just getting in touch with people who are in the field you want to be in. Reach out and ask questions. Search out growth potential by adopting new tasks in your current job. What has amazed me is how willing people have been to give me creative control because I asked for it - and then was able to prove myself. Passionate people appreciate other passionate people.

With everything that's come to pass in these last two years I can see how hard I've worked and just how lucky I've been. Don't kid yourself, to be successful and happy you have to learn to roll with things. I've learned to adapt, to step up, to be assertive and confident; I've learned to do whatever works. And with what university provided and then ultimately lacked, I've started a fresh chapter, a bit wiser than before.

Jun 24, 2010

Happy Up Here - Royksopp

A good music video, in my opinion, is more than just shots of a band or artist with quick jump cuts. What I love about the genre in general is how music videos make it acceptable to merge experimental art with mainstream audiences. You can focus on bold textures, colours, patterns, and imagery in ways that contribute to an overall emotion or visual theme - versus a traditional plot arch.

Happy Up Here is eye candy to me. Flashing lights, smooth computer transitions, and dated facades help to create an urban carnival/living arcade game with punchy logos and pop art thrown in for good measure. The depth and hand held ambiance of this chaotic environment creates a powerful framework for an otherwise 'open' musical arrangement. Strong stylistic choices really make the song for me - yet one more example of how a great music video has just as much influence as a great song.


Jun 23, 2010

Live With Chivalry: Chivas Commercial

This is one of those few commercials that you actually look forward to seeing on TV. It's the combination of music by the Cinematic Orchestra, the cinematography, and the uplifting message that really pulls you in. After seeing this Chivas commercial numerous times over the last year I'm still moved by it. In what's clearly a more sophisticated approach to the staple that has become the liquor ad, seeing this spot just plain makes me proud to be a man.

Jun 21, 2010

Inspired Singles: Issue 08

A single a day keeps your creativity in play.
Join me as I share some of my fav tunes in an effort to pay the inspiration forward.
Inspired Singles: Issue 08 by Luke Fandrich

This special issue of Inspired Singles features a handful of select tracks that were used in my Indio Outio edits from earlier this year. Enjoy!

Everything I Build by The Stills
Featured in Indio Outio: Introduction

It's a quiet energy that made this track the perfect opener to my series of edits. A sense of purpose and the unknown ahead is reflected in the haunting lyrics.


Send Me An Angel by Real Life
Featured in Indio Outio: Cabazon Dinosaurs

This campy slice of the eighties was just the track to inspire nostalgic flashbacks of a film that was just as dated, The Wizard. Driving through southern California to this makeshift classic helped add to the ambiance of dry heat, expansive desert, and novelty tourist stops. In short, this song became a theme for the entire road trip to Indio.


Walking On A Dream by Empire of the Sun
Featured in Indio Outio: Newport Beach

Energized with pure pop synth, a day at the beach and adding an ocean to a list of incredible sights required something overtly positive. This track, with its amped beat and echoing vocals, captures the excitement of that trek through greater L.A. to reach the shore.


Boarding Lounges by Windmill
Featured in Indio Outio: Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

With a simplistic intensity and a literal reference, Boarding Lounges was the perfect accompaniment to our cable car accent in this video. A motivated chorus fused with simple piano chords compliments the incredible views and height witnessed as the sun sank behind the valley that evening.


IO (This Time Around) by Helen Stellar
Featured in Indio Outio: Conclusion

Ambient and poetic, this tune easily merges the excitement and euphoria that surrounded our whirlwind trip through the desert, mountains, and to the sea. This song combined with the mosaic of film clips I shot helped to further emphasize the uniqueness and diversity of what was a much needed adventure - and now a defining memory.



Jun 19, 2010

Stick Around

You'll have noticed that Editing Luke is currently undergoing some renovations. I think the new look will really enhance the site. Already you'll find that the barriers and size of the site has increased and I've added the Linkwithin widget to my posts to make my old content even more accessible.

The last change really comes down to how I design my new header. With a long history of different and fairly unique looks, this isn't something I take lightly. Keep a close watch as the complete look is sure to debut within the next week. In the meantime, have a look at a few of the updates that have been made so far.

Jun 17, 2010

Self-Portraits

Just playing around here. I'm sensing another ambitious blog re-design on the horizon or, you know, ads for my new cologne?



Jun 15, 2010

Movie Review Sites (That I Actually Read)

While I'm generally quick to form a critical opinion of my own as soon as a movie trailer pops up, the truth is that I just don't have the time to see as many movies as I used to. So in recent months I've started turning to movie review sites for quick opinions on what's worth seeing when I do get the chance. Here are some of my favorite review sources:

100 Words or Less

I love that this site is brief, to the point, and generally highlights a specific reason that a movie was good or bad (in 100 words or less). That kind of simplicity is easy to digest, fun to read, and a refreshing gimmick in a sea of overzealous critics. For a site that's also relatively new and low-key, I think I like it even more because of the potential it shows.

Angry Charlie Reviews
What I like specifically about this site is (much like the first one) it's up-and-coming and takes an ambitious approach. Opting for a more traditional review format, it's been the recent introduction of video reviews that's really hooked me. There's also a nice balance between positive and negative reviews for some of the latest blockbusters, which adds a lot of variety to a fast growing library of original content.

The Rotten Tomatoes Show on Current
Whether you're out to watch funny clips, recaps, reviews, or the full half hour weekly show, The Rotten Tomatoes Show on Current is a refreshing take on the movie review genre. Witty commentary and numerous features about random aspects of cinema make this an easy show/site to dive into.

Jun 14, 2010

Guy With A Library Card: Issue 05


Weapons of Mass Distraction
Written by M

I like days like today. After a week of plus twenty and more, the weekend dropped ten degrees and spring rains have greyed our skies. It is a perfect weekend to edit video. Not because I will be inside all day, quite the opposite. I prefer to be out, driving around enjoying the sights, the sounds and the smell of rain. I know it's weird but I love this weather, it calms me and there is no better time to relax. This is why it is perfect for editing.

First, I want to paint you a picture. When I edit, I am in my basement. It's always cooler and I prefer that. In the north west corner of the room sits a sticker-ed up beer fridge. Beside it, sits my PC and on top of the fridge sits the monitor for this computer as well as various office and computer contraband. Next to all of this is where I sit. My desk hosts an assortment of equipment making everything fairly accessible as well as two more monitors that wrap me in screen. Beside my desk are where my Mac and hard drives sit. Moving on are two small filing cabinets. The grey one that hosts my paperwork also holds my printer. The rooms is then divided by the door and a small wall about two feet long. On the other side of the wall the room is set up to be more of a lounge. There is a futon along the north wall and at the foot of that sit a TV and PS2. To the right of the TV is a fireplace. It's actually a very cozy place to work any time of the year.

Editing is tedious and, to some degree, boring. You sit at a computer for hours and meticulously rip apart your camera work. You play around trying things out and trying to figure out what works best for this specific instance. You try to remember/guess what you had in mind for edits while shooting. It is affected by the pace of your entire project, the shots before and after, the sound scape and so many other slight differences, it is hard to wrap your head around what you are doing. And you do it over and over and over again. It really is a black art. For anyone to say they understand it, I believe it is a lie. It's always changing and is dictated by trends and technology. It is impossible to truly know if what you are doing has some sort of mass appeal at this stage. It is frustrating and for these reasons it could very easily be one of the hardest aspects of what I do.

However, because of the challenge, it is often the most rewarding aspect when things turn out or are better than expected.

This is why I prefer days like today to edit. I am calm and the weather helps with that. I prefer to work in the dark. It makes the screens pop making visual adjustments easier, the clouds provide this all day. I also find that my eyes are fairly sensitive to light, so having the dark room prolongs the time I can work. This light issue also helps with relaxation. Thus, the weather has the profound effect of making the process a little more enjoyable. I understand this is likely not for everyone but for me, today, is money. My productivity will go way up, while the day feels like I haven't worked at all.

Part of the reason it won't feel like work is because of the process. This is where the library and my room set up comes to play. This week I picked up a few movies from the library. Before I start to cut, I run to the nearest 7-Eleven and grab myself a Dr. Pepper Slurpee. Today I will cut for a bit when I get bored I will pop in a movie and watch part of it. Then cut again while drinking my icey goodness. Sometimes I will keep a movie on in the background just so there is something that can take my mind away at times. At this time of year, often, it is the playoffs. I will continue to work and break all day with the many things I have to distract myself with. Before I know it, I'm tired and ready for bed. Things get done but it feels like I had a weekend to hang out at home. I accomplished some work, watched some movies I wanted to and possibly souped up my Subaru in Gran Tourismo. That's a decent weekend. Calm, relaxed and accomplished.

If you're wondering what kind of movies I watch, well, it's usually a mix of things. Most often, it will consist of a documentary and an action film. This weekend I have at my disposal an Imax movie called Everest, Shaun White's First Descent and a very acclaimed documentary called Trouble the Water. With these, I also got The Last Boy Scout and Over the Top. So by the end of the weekend I will have learned something and it will be confirmed that Bruce Willis is the coolest action hero of all time, football and I mix well for movies and Sly had his time with this classic. I am pumped for it.

The bottom line is that inspiration is overrated. I go through great lengths to keep myself pre-occupied. Editing in this way keeps my mind going, the wandering off keeps it fresh, and when you mix this in with a long period of time it keeps your outlook and critical thinking sharper. Plus, at any given time, these aversions can offer some practical use as far as how you style your edit, pick and pace your music and visual effects to try out. Throughout film school, I used major distractions to keep me fresh, like playing hockey and associating with people not in film. This tactic works for large scale creative formation. Your creativity is defined by being open to all aspects rather than only being a complete film dork or 'what ever it is you do' dork. A one track mind will be a one trick pony. It's taken me a few years to find what works for me and everyone will have a different strategy, but I believe the aim is all the same. A good distraction will keep your mind open, your ideas fresh, your eye for detail critical and make the process as relaxed as possible. And if you ever watch Over the Top you'll want to put a weight set by your computer.

Jun 11, 2010

Jaguar XJ8

The timing to replace my infamous Buick was due to one of the cars that I had been scouting out in Calgary actually popping up locally. It's no secret anymore, the car is this 1999 Jaguar XJ8 - my new ride. If you would've told me just a couple of years ago that I'd be able to own something like this I wouldn't have believed it. It's practically too good to be true! Who knows the cameos that this new car could now play in some of my future projects.


 

Jun 10, 2010

Requiem For A Buick

And so the decade of the Buick has come to an end. The car that I started driving when I was 16, to my first job, that I took to high school graduation, to university and back, that I made numerous films with, and that I started my post-uni career with is now bowing out for good.

It was by choice that I said I'd rather find another car before the Buick actually died on me, but the decision certainly comes with mixed feelings. In all seriousness, from 2000-2010 I've been driving this car and before that it was the 'family' car. It's not just my teenage and university years, but a chunk of my childhood that was spent on the road in the old '89 Park Avenue.

For viewers of this blog you'll have recognized it numerous times in shorts like Educated Detours and the Buick to the Future series. I really did grow to love that car over the years, and the switch just several weeks before I move is simply one more bit of excitement in a year full of unforgettable changes.


And with that I present my quickly cut farewell - my Requiem For a Buick. Stay tuned to hear what's replacing her very soon.



Jun 9, 2010

American Beauty (1999)

At first I hated American Beauty. I saw it as a depressed, ego driven, modern fairytale about lives meandering out of control and the hopeless unfulfilled desires that make up the human experience. It's exactly what the movie is, but I thought what kind of view is that?

Blame it on the optimism of my 15 year old self, but at the time I didn't want to view life like that. I still don't. The funny thing is that when I did end up watching the film again I was able to see the wit that really makes American Beauty such a joy to watch. Depressing only as a dark comedy can be, the core message of the film is really about shaking ourselves of the daily apathy we comfortably surrender to. I think I had to grow up a bit to really appreciate this.

To me, American Beauty is still one of the best cinematic examples exploring themes of desire, image, and perception. The need to hide, cover up, and lie are fundamental to the illusion of perfection. It's no wonder that when we strive for this we end up continually hurting ourselves. American Beauty sets up numerous brilliant scenes with this notion in mind - the scene at the drive thru window for example.

The hilarious dramatics of the characters are essential to both building up and then destroying the barriers that we all create. The core meltdown that takes place within American Beauty is really about bringing the complexity back into the 'image' of modern life, and as explored literally in a scene between actors Thora Birch and Wes Bentley, standing naked for the world to see us for who we really are. Thinking of yourself in these terms can be frightening, but it's also what makes the film so poignant.

It's not all so heavy though. As much as the concept is captivating, the strength of American Beauty is wrapped up in the impulsive comedy that keeps the film fresh. The family dynamic is wonderfully chaotic thanks to the performances by Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening, whose relationship in the film fluctuates between forced civility, contempt, and brutal honesty with some of the best dialogue in recent memory. The discussions around the dinner table are priceless.

Ultimately, I feel the need to come back to the fairytale of it all. Looking at this film realistically tells a depressing story about the state of things, and even though I'm not crazy about that post-modernist 'everything sucks' mentality, there is a light at the end of this tunnel. We're made to realize just how precious our own existence is and that it really is largely through our own choices and perspectives that we learn how to appreciate it.  The greatest upsets are the things we deny ourselves in the face of who we really are. While the superficial fantasy can be fun, beauty simply has to be more than what's on the surface to be truly fulfilling.

I don't think I could actually stand any of these people if they were real. However, in this bubble they all play off of each other like fire and gasoline, which is pretty exciting to watch. They're all perfectly messed up in an 'aren't-we-all' kind of way, and for the sake of my own delicate emotions, I think it's something that we should all get a little bit more comfortable with. Imperfection is the one thing we all have in common.


Jun 7, 2010

Another Fresh Start

It's now been just over 2 years since I came straggling back home, exhausted from a 6 year stint in university to take up residence in my parents basement. Just like I did when I Lost That Student Feeling and said Goodbye Residence I'm now perched on the edge of another fresh start, this time with the resources to take a more abrupt step up.

That post-university daze that became the fodder for numerous blog posts is now almost completely evaporated. With my student loans shrinking, my personal finances healthier than ever, and the details for moving out now finalized, I'd say things have taken a dramatic turn for best - and it's not just because of the sweet loft apartment :)

There's a lot to be said about being able to do things your way. With two media related jobs keeping me busy, it's one thing to finally say that I can support myself and my ambitions, and it's another to say it's because I'm getting paid to do the kind of work I'm passionate about.

Yes, this time around, I'm not making a mad dash to escape the dorms. This time I'm investing my own hard earned savings to give myself the fresh start I really want.
Somehow all of the little challenges from the last couple of years have culminated into this - or at least it seems that way right now. I can't help but feel anxious to see what comes next, this feels pretty incredible!

July 1st is going to be the start of a new chapter - here was the preview for the one previous.


Jun 3, 2010

Singapore Photo Book

In the same style as my Indio Photo Book and the smaller snapshot books that followed it, I've finally completed my coffee table photo book from my trip to Singapore in April this year. My goal was to create something that felt really stylized, personal, and varied. I was keen to make it feel a bit like a scrap book of the locations we saw.  I think I accomplished what I was after in creating something that doesn't seem amateur, but also doesn't seem so polished or staged that it doesn't seem genuine.


After completing my Singapore edits soon after getting back, I took my time in going through the photos. It actually proved to be a very relaxing way to remember the trip and to try and contextualize the experience.  For as much as we did, I had to remind myself that it wasn't technically a vacation.  What a business trip though!


In any case, this 200 page photo book was one pricey souvenir at over $100 to publish, but I know it's something that I'll look back on for years to come. Luckily, you can preview the entire book for free online by simply clicking the Blurb link below - same goes for all of my previous photo books.

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