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Thursday, 14 May 2020


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I think what you are saying is that basically you want the effect of an unboxing video: The anticipation, the first impression, the initial joy with hopefully little disappointment.

I'd love to see you try an iPhone on a tripod, sitting across from you on a table, recording video as you look over and talk about the print. One take, no cuts, no extra angles. Just the most basic thing that could possibly work.

That and a jpeg of the image would likely give us everything we need to follow along.

My guess is that it would be lovely!

I see video making as a whole new imaging experience.

I remember making videos of kids when they were growing up. The tapes have all gone the way of the dodo or became fodder for fungal infestation.

Digital video should be easier to manage when you want to edit, cut, paste and join footages. Or shoot in B&W, wow!

Just sayin'only because, half the time, I also don't know what I'm talking about.

Maybe the people sending a print could be asked if they would supply a large image for display on the web. With a calibrated 26" monitor I would appreciate that opportunity. A watermark could help protect the image.

You're an introvert. A perfectionist. And you're worried about your perceived audiences reaction.

Pro tip Mike - make it for the joy of it. Make it for yourself. If you make it dry and wring out every word, it'll show and be all the less for the extra effort.

When you sing a song for your own amusement, you're doing it for your pleasure. Do the same thing with the video. Nobody's going to die. People won't stop reading TOP. Remove expectation and try try again. It'll eventually flow, just like writing does for you.

Hope you're brave enough to try something new. What's the worse that can happen? Not much.

I get it Mike. My father was an art dealer and loved the visual world. Time and again, I saw him go into a museum and spend long minutes looking at a painting while other patrons glided by. It wasn't until I started looking at photography critically that I realized how much work he was doing actively looking at a Matisse. I remember the first time I tried looking at a static image for ten minutes. It was hard! And I think the don't-blink-you'll-miss it Internet has done us no favors in term of developing discipline as art viewers. Our attention spans (mine anyway) are getting shorter, not longer with the promise of a new revelation just one more click away.

We, the TOP readers, generally know that you Mike, can look at a print for a while and grow to like it. That is something I have never got to grips with.
If a picture doesn't get to me the first time I see it, it is almost improbable that I will like it - ever!
And yet I can see some shots that grab me from the get-go and I love them.
It would be a boring old world if we all like the same stuff.

Since very recent times are what they are I find we are more verbally honest with each other
without judgement and with full understanding. I really appreciate this.

Having said that please note video editing scares the chit out of me. I have several cameras that do video well. As an ok enthusiast stills person I think I could take an ok video. But what am I going to do with it? Damn I'm old now. New learning makes my head hurt despite the desire to do so.

"the occasion of the gifting, you might say, and my response"

A wearable camera would cheapen the occasion, IMO. I mostly agree with Yoshi--medium shot of you and tabletop, though I'd prefer a three-quarter view. (For some reason I picture you standing while unpacking the print.)

I recommend a clip-on lavalier mic. An on-camera or camera-mounted mic may pick up too much of the unpacking and handling noise. And you'll want to turn off the auto mic gain on the camera and set the gain manually (some trial and error required, I'm afraid).

The being and becoming , the object and the process ...

I thought the Anglo-American is more Aristotle/Plato kind. Photo is too statics to trigger this unlike architecture I thought.

Treat art as an event. Interesting line of thought.

I think what you want to do is show the photo and then talk about. For me that sounds fairly straight forward.

My suggestion is to show the photo, not you, and talk about it. Put the camera on a tripod and point it at the picture. While the camera is recording the picture you talk into a seperate audio recorder. You could also use some kind of light pointer.

Then in a video editor you combine the two.

Sounds easy but believe me even this simple solution can be very frustrating to learn.

You didn't learn to make good prints in one session in the darkroom so assume it's no different with the project you have in mind.

Personally I think it may take several tries before you even think you know what you're doing. Then several more tries before you're kind of competent at it. Whatever IT is.

There is a photographer on YouTube that does videos on Photoshop and Lightroom. You NEVER see him just the computer screen with either LR or PS. His Youtube address is: https://www.youtube.com/user/AnthonyMorganti/featured. Take a look.

Please no JPGs. Just real prints.

I'd love to be printing, so I just thought I'd mention that the Epson P800 A2 printer is on special at my local dealer until the end of this month at A$1400 (US$896). I am mightily tempted, but a full set of new inks is A$610. Sigh. It just doesn't make sense. I can't afford this. I'll have to give a local office supplies store a try. Pity.

The thing about prints is that when people look at one they are all seeing the same object. Online images are not like that, everyone is looking at slightly different variations of the image, smaller or larger depending on screen size, different colours, different contexts, i.e., framed on a wall at eye level or on a phone's screen in the subway, contemplated over in a museum or ignored as a screensaver. I hope your project helps to revive the appreciation of prints.

I’m excited to see this. As a book editor who does quite a lot of critique—sometimes in front of an audience of other writers—I’m keenly interested to see your encounters, so thank you for taking the initiative on video.

(It’s a common programming practice at writers conferences for editors and agents to be placed on dais for an hour or more to react to and briefly critique first pages that they are reading and/or hearing for the first time. There’s a real hunger from the writers to see those first impressions.)

Your description of the print as an encounter is so well put. May I use a portion of your quote exactly as written, credited and linked back to you on my website.
Bob Hansen

[Sure Bob. --Mike]

+ 1 on using iPhone with Tripod. Easiest solution.

I use these. I got the different clamp because I can set up phone in both landscape and portrait orientation. If you only need to use the phone in landscape, then the clamp that comes with the tripod works fine.



You put it very clearly. I still can remember with emotion walking in the exhibition of Salgado's Workers in Mexico City. My feelings toward his work haver changed a lot, but that was my first big photo exhibition, and I can remember even the light of that day.

I can remember vividly the first time I step in front of the Mademoiselles d'Avignon in the MOMA. I have read a lot about that painting, being famous as it is, and looked to many reproductions, never feeling a thing. But there I stood transfixed many minutes, my eyes moving slowly all over the picture again and again.

The same has happened with less famous art, once in the Bellas Artes Palace in Mexico, in a room with the work of Rothko, Duchamp, and other very famous global artists a piece by Manuel Felguerez grabbed my entire attention, unforgettable, for me.

Maybe its in that momment of encounter, of confrontation, that art really exists. As in our own lives, that we live mostly by intuition, and rationalize afterwards.

The point robert e makes about a mic is worth paying attention to. Poor sound diminishes a video, and the closer the mic is to your mouth, the better, within reason. As I recall, your son has experience making YouTube videos. You might ask him for advice in setting up.

I've done a lot of videos, some lectures based on PowerPoint slides or still photos with my narration, some looking "over my shoulder" as I demo equipment or show how to perform a task in the installation of fiber optics. People must like (or at least tolerat the format to get the content, last time I looked I had a total of over 3million views of my lectures.

Here are a couple of suggestions.

For the over the shoulder or from above view, I have a Manfrotto 190 tripod with an offset arm. On the arm I mount a simple digital camera or an iPhone on a substantial mount. Manfrotto Universal Smartphone Clamp, Pro Version (MCPIXI)-$20 on Amazon. This setup has enough offset to get over a table and high enough to look down on a table when you are working, or if you want to mount a print on the wall, it can still still look over your shoulder.

If you want to use still photos and just add voiceover, take a picture with the iPhone, scan or get a digital version, copy the stills into iMovie on your MAC and add voiceover. If you use stills, you might want to take closeups, add arrows or fingers pointing, etc. so you just add another still to the iMovie video.

Get a decent mike if your record voiceover on the MAC. Find some old photofloods to get enough light. I like to bounce off the ceiling.

Lest you scoff at using the iPhone, remember that the video you create will be equivalent to a couple of megapixels with little dynamic range and so-so color. Even HDTV.

For the lecture type of video,

A print is indeed an occasion, and this is exactly why video would be, in my opinion, a terrible approach to looking at a print.

I can't say how anyone else looks at prints, but here's what I might do (I'm going to pretend I'm in a gallery – and actually a specific gallery – rather than looking at a book or a print l've bought/made/been given, because it's easier). I'll look at it fairly quickly then move on to something else. Then I'll come back and look for longer. Then after another break I might come back again I'll come back and try and work out where it wants to be looked at from – this particularly matters for the kind of giant prints that you often get in galleries now where you often need to dig a hole in the far wall to get far enough away. Then I might go downstairs to get a coffee and spend some time thinking about it & also, if there's a book, look at that to see if I like the version in the book. Then I might come back and spend some time trying to look at technical details of the thing. Finally I will probably go around everything once again (backwards, if there is an obvious order to the show) and then, for the prints I am most interested in, I will take a good last look, from the right distance, at them all, and go (maybe buying the book if I like it enough and am feeling well-off enough).

So, now, let's assume you are a gifted video maker: let's assume you're Carol Reed levels of good, and your videos are modern equivalents of The Third Man. So every scene in your videos is this perfectly-composed visual poem, and the viewer's eyes are being guided through the video. In the scene with the cat and the doorway the whole thing is put together in such a way that the viewer knows where to look and who to look at: Lime's face, seen for a moment before the camera moves on.

Now compare these. You were probably thinking in my description of looking at a print 'but that's nothing like how I look at prints'. But if I got things right, my description of the doorway scene will have bought that scene powerfully to mind (probably I will have failed in this: it's a long time since I saw the film and I'm not Roger Ebert. But it made me want to watch the movie again).

And that's the thing: a print is an occasion, but it's a different occasion for everyone who sees it, because everyone looks at it differently while it just sits there, inviting people to find their own way into it. A movie is also an occasion, but it is a much more guided occasion: the film-makers, if they are good, are guiding you through the movie in a much more (but far from completely) deterministic way. A movie is not the same occasion for every viewer, but it is much closer to being so than a print is.

Or, to put it another way: what do you learn about what Vienna is like from The Third Man? Almost nothing.

You can create a pan and scan video of a still image in just about any NLE. Add music and a voice-over. Publish.

Mike, you’ve expressed your idea very well. I like it very much.

I agree with Yoshi that the best approach, at least initially, is to use a tripod-mounted iPhone. Perhaps positioned obliquely so that we can see and hear you describing your reaction. Perhaps with a second camera located over your shoulder so we can see the print as you hold it. Then a few simple intercuts between the two. Best wishes.

By the time I got to Rod S.'s comment, I was already thinking of two cameras. I would have one facing you, because it's more engaging to look someone in the eye while they talk to you (maybe for a short introduction), with the other camera pointing over your shoulder while you talk about the print. Then go back to the first camera for a wrap-up.

Lots of things to try here; remember you're among friends, so you can't go wrong.

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