Video Voyage

On Saturday, I made an unplanned trip to Hallettsville to visit a cousin who has fallen upon some hard times. Hallettsville is only about 1.5 hours away from my house, almost all but a mile of it traveled on the same highway. I-90 is road I travel quite often to get from point A to point B in my neighborhood, and I never gave any consideration to how far it might stretch across the state and what all I might find if I ever took it out of town. Not being the adventurous sort, it’s probably not something I ever would have done without a reason, but I noticed pretty early into the trip that there were a lot of little interesting stops that could be made along the way – only I hadn’t brought my camera as I didn’t think it appropriate at the time (turned out my aunt and cousin both asked me why I didn’t bring it, so I guess I could have and it would have been fine).

Anyway, I did have my iPhone with me of course, but I didn’t want to slow the trip down by taking pictures, so I decided to film video of the journey instead, both to remind me of places I’d like to get back to later with a camera in hand, as well as entertain myself while driving. I ended up with about 20 minutes of footage, but knowing I could never subject people to that much shaky iPhone video taken through a bug-splattered windshield, I narrowed it down to four minutes and added a pretty song to make it more entertaining. I worked on this video for hours Sunday when I got home, so please – ENJOY, dammit! It’s only four minutes! And if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to drive across Texas, here you go (even though really this is only 1.5 hours of driving across it. Still).

 

I also took photos with my phone once I got to Hallettsville; here’s a few I’ve had time to process.

Day 52
Hallettsville courthouse – also taken with the iPhone through a car window and edited with Snapseed on my phone. Not bad huh?

IMG_2492
One of my cousin’s dogs had puppies, and this is the only one they have left to give away. He’s adorable, but already spoken for, and he’s going to get big so I couldn’t have taken him anyway.

iRetroscope

So much I could say about work today, but I put off writing a blog post too long and am not up for all the typing. So – I thought I’d share a fun little photography/video app I have on my iPhone called iRetroscope.

My artist friend Deb Morbeto shared this little iPhone photo gem with me, and I often forget I even have it, but last Friday I went over to a friend’s house after work and her two little boys pounced on me as soon as I walked in the door, asking me if I would take photos of them jumping as I’ve done before. See collage below for reference:

collagecand
No toddlers were harmed in the making of these photos.

But of course, I did not have my Canon 7D with me as I’d not been planning on taking any pics, so I knew I wasn’t going to be able to get any decent jump shots that night. However, far be  it from me to deny some kids the opportunity to jump on the bed, so I got out my trusty iPhone and went to work. I did shoot video of them jumping around on the bed for awhile and threw together a video of the experience that I can also share, but it’s not the most thrilling thing ever, and actually does not use the iRetroscope app. I’ll throw it in here anyway – why not (and yes, I’m getting to the iRetroscope part, I promise):

Unfortunately, it wasn’t until after that bit of fun was over that I remembered the IRetroscope app and realized it would have been a perfect opportunity to use it. The app has several different era settings – from the 1920’s all the way up to the 1980’s – and does a pretty cool job of making either a video or a photo look dated. It’s a great thing to use when snapping iPhone pics that you think might not turn out all that great; as you may know if you’ve read my blog for any length of time, I am a huge fan of doing whatever possible to make quick, crappy pics look intentionally crappy so you can still use them. Aging a photo is a sure-fire way to turn blur and bad framing into something ‘retro,’ so I decided to give it a go while the kids basically ran around and screamed a lot to provide me with more camera fodder, as seen here (using the app this time):


I literally started filming and said, “OK, just run around or something.” And man did they comply.

I used the 1930’s setting for the first section and the 1970’s setting for the second. And no, there is no repeating of footage there; they actually did run back and forth that much. The music is from a compilation I found on amazon.com of silent film soundtracks, and man have I gotten use out of those tunes. It’s great for silly little videos like this one.

I actually don’t have any photos using iRetroscope that I can get my hands on at the moment, but you get the idea from the video, I think. And unfortunately, I thought that in order to fill the screen I needed to hold my camera in landscape/horizontal position like you do with the plain old iPhone video camera; sadly I was wrong so everything is squished. As I said, I haven’t used this app in forever so I forgot how to use it. Also, I know nothing about video editing and the only software I know how to use is MovieMaker, and that probably shows. Never was able to get into video editing like I did with photos.

Anyway, I can’t recall if the app is free, but if it costs money I’m sure it’s not much or I wouldn’t have purchased it. It’s a lot of fun and an easy way to fancy up your iPhone shots. You’re welcome!

Driving Home

This is the back entrance to my neighborhood. I’ve always loved this old twisty road. Years ago some local politician ran on a platform that involved re-constructing all these old roads with their hairpin curves to make them straighter and therefore safer for school buses and people on bikes. It was an utter failure. Hell, I think even school bus drivers and bicyclers were against it. To this day, when the weekend weather is nice, this road is swarming with bikers from all the neighborhoods nearby.

Two summers ago, when the drought here was at its worst, a woman’s head and one leg were found in the creek that runs through this area. A couple had killed the woman in North Carolina and driven to this neighborhood with her body in a cooler. They stayed with some relatives along this road, and during that time they cut her body up and dumped it in the creek. For about a year after that, anytime you drove by the area that she was found it would be covered in flowers, signs, and other memorials for the dead woman.

If this little video doesn’t make you motion sick, then nothing will. I am not good at filming with my iPhone while driving, but I did my best. And the fabulous song is from a children’s album recorded in the late 1950’s called “Space Songs” by Tom Glazer and Dottie Evans, and it is awesome. They Might Be Giants recorded one of the songs, “Why Does the Sun Shine?” in the 90’s. I am fairly certain, however, that conservative Republicans banned this album at some point in the past 20 years due to its pro-science, anti-Jesus bias (and yes, the song skips).

Departure – New Videopoem

This is partly in response to the weekly prompt at We Write Poems, but I’d been toying with it for at least a month already. The poem text is below the video, as well as process notes.

Departure

When the nurses wheeled you away
on the shuddering gurney, your simple body
steering down the corridor, your toes
pointing back at me like a little constellation

of stars, you gestured a goodbye
I didn’t recognize until later, and it was like
you’d already died, and I’d missed my chance
to honor that soft instant of your disappearance,

like a pilgrim slipping over a dark border.
And I realized I’d spent my life in avoidance
of such moments, never traveled with you
to the airport, or stood on a porchfront waving,

or looked in the rearview mirror while you stood
on a porchfront, waving. And that now
I’m more than halfway through my life,
and perhaps have done the most I can

of sweeping aside the crawling hours
forward towards conclusion, the end
not what I expected – no black bag of bones,
no hissing river spitting on an empty shore –

just a dusty shelf where your photographs
are stored, a dog-eared ottoman where I rest
my feet when I get home alone at the ebb
of another gentle, merciless afternoon.

Notes: My limitations – no decent video camera with which to film my own footage, my lack of decent video editing software, my iPhone Voice Changer app as my only source of recording audio – are starting to effect my level of satisfaction with the final product. Perhaps it’s time to get down to business and commit to learning new things, but for now, please forgive the highly pixielated spots in the video and go with the concept of it.

Finding the footage for this one was a bit of a bear, as it always is at the Internet Archives because their method of categorizing and organizing material doesn’t work with my brain. I found the video of Saunders dancing first, and “Romance Sentimentale” came along a few days later. Once I had those two pieces it was just a matter of splicing them together. Music was another matter, as I changed my mind twice when putting the visuals together, then two more times when I layered the poem audio over that.

Recording the audio was time-consuming, because this is a longer poem than I normally take on; as always I created the video first then fit the poem to the footage, and then recorded my reading in one take while watching the visuals to fit the poem into them. That doesn’t sound too hard until you screw up ten or fifteen times, or read the whole poem before realizing you forgot to hit ‘record.’ I’ve found that splicing together different readings or sections sounds uneven, so I always start completely over when I screw up. EVEN SO – I realized this morning I left out an entire line. It’s in the text, but I tried to splice it into the audio and it sounded out of place, so that line is just gone for now. It works without it anyway, even though I’d prefer it stay in there – I just wasn’t up to recording the whole poem again.

New video – departure

This is the video portion only of a new videopoem I’m working on. In full form, with the spoken word, it will be about 4 minutes long.The footage is from two public domain films I found at the Internet Archives; the dancing, believe it or not, was filmed as supplemental footage for a movie called “Blood Bath,” and all the other footage is from a film called “Romance Sentimentale” by Sergei Eisenstein. The song is “Good Friday,” by CocoRosie.

I noticed after uploading that the “colors,” such as they are, are different. I’ll be sure to correct that before completing the spoken word version.

Self Portrait – New Poem

This is in response to Joseph Harker’s prompt at We Write Poems. The prompt was to try and capture a moment in a poem, and I thought immediately of my self-portraiture, as it is literally a captured moment on (digital) film. The poem went waaay out there, but I think it still speaks to the prompt.

Self Portrait

I am convicted
in what I do
and pleading
for conceit I want

to tell you
about it. It’s easier
to show. You don’t know
I am blind
to the mirror. I like
what I see. So begins

this poem. When faced
with story, editing
is necessary. Entire lines
to be removed. To know what
leaves out. To choose.

What is necessary but
the beautiful. Reflect
what is separate yet.

Single dimension. Denomination.
Domination of one
over other. Why can’t I be
an image always?

I lay them out like a count
of damaged furniture after the flood.
Wrung to dry, like laundry
on a wire –

intimates exposed. Indelicates out
where they should. A teacher

once told me a poem should end
with a moment of surprise
followed by of course.

I want to end
like that. A row of expressions
in a line of story. Every one
an exclamation.

Fine Moments in Feminist History

I did a photoshoot the other day that was full-on Dynasty in appearance if not in scale (photos taken in my office with a white wall for a backdrop, as usual) but it got me thinking about the fabulousness that was the ongoing deathmatch between Krystle and Alexis Carrington throughout the show’s run. Yes, these are the feminist touchstones of my generation. I am so proud *sniff*.