Final Project

Check out our final project!

For my final project Katrina and I are going to create a photo-blog together. Every day we will each post an image without the other knowing what image we are posting. The images will be posted side by side. One of the pictures featured everyday will feature something that the photographer feels has a positive connotation and the other will feature something with a negative connotation; the images, however, will not be labelled as to which they are supposed to be. It is our hope that the meaning of each image to the viewer will change in the context of the other. We also hope the combination of images will make you rethink what you previously thought about beauty. We would really like this project to become a conversation piece, so please check out the site and comment!

The initial idea and inspiration came from a post on the photo-blog Photojojo. The post was about other duo photo-blogs such as ours and it urged readers to try for themselves. Katrina and I thought it sounded interesting, so we checked out other sites.

One such site is The Minty Forest project. Each day for 365 days each of these two friends took a photo and posted them side by side, without letting the other know what they were working on. They described the combined images each day as “explorations of both creative and personal synchronicity — as subject matter, color palette, and technique are compared and contrasted anew with each day.” Unfortunately, their year is over, but all of their posts are still archived on their website. You can also use their random combination generator to come up with numerous thought-provoking combinations!

Another project, inspired by the Minty Forest, is a project called Don’t Wiggle. This blog has the same premise as Minty Forest – two friends who live across the country from each other post photos side-by-side in secrecy every day. Don’t Wiggle, however, differs in that each day has a theme that the photos are based off of. The photographers of Don’t Wiggle use Dictionary.com’s word-of-the-day as the inspiration for their daily photos. It is interesting to see in each day’s post the similarities and differences in how they each interpreted the word and decided to go about portraying it in a picture.

A final project (or rather series of projects) that serves as an inspiration to our own are the 3191 projects, consisting of a A Year of Mornings, A Year of Evenings, and 3191 Miles Apart. These two friends also live miles apart (3191 to be exact) and post pictures side by side every day. They are currently in their third successful project, and have turned the fruits of their first two projects into books.

We decided that having some sort of theme to our blog will help us find subjects for our photos each day. Spinning off the ideas of Errol Morris, we decided to contrast beauty and “bitchiness” each day – rather, the contrast between seemingly positive and negative connotation. We hope to continue this project for the duration of the year, as many of our inspirations did.

So please, check it out and comment!

Further and Further Up!

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That’s right folks, we’re back to discussing Disney-Pixar’s Up, however this time in a bit more depth. After doing some research, I was able to find out a little more about this masterpiece of a film: the meaning and thought behind it and the work that went into it. Frankly, after reading these articles (cited below) I am left more amazed than I was before.

Like many of Pixar’s films, Up had pretty modest  beginnings. The development of the story began after a Pixar animator was goofing around and drew a picture of a house floating with a bunch of balloons. Directors Pete Docter and Bob Peterson liked the idea, and began story-boarding around it.  They realized that a senior citizen had never starred in an animated film such as Up and were enchanted by the thought of a cranky old man flying around in a house lifted by balloons. During the next three years the remaining parts of the story fell into place. Other characters entered the picture to fill in the voids in each character, including the young, energetic, adventurous Russell, talking dog Dug, and oversized bird Kevin.

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Incredible amounts of thought then went into animating and voicing these characters. The animators decided to make Carl a very small man in an oversized suit with a square head, representative of the fact that he was slowly “boxed in” by other buildings when living in the city. In terms of animation, these decisions proved difficult in several ways. First of all, animating such a short man and still making him believable was difficult. For some body positions that Carl had to be in for the movie, the animators actually had to lengthen his arms in order to make it believable. Animating his suit was also difficult. The animators, used to making clothes look natural, still had difficulties making them look natural on a character with such a strange figure. Animating Carl’s facial features was also a new feat on a cubical face. Whenever he smiled, animators had to figure out how to naturally have his smile wrap around his face.

The voice of Russell, newcomer Jordan Nagai, was another experiment in unconditional methods. He was chosen from a casting call from over 400 voices because the directors smiled just listening to him talking about everyday things. Unfortunatley, Jordan wasn’t going to be so easy to work with because he wasn’t interested in pretending. To solve this problem, the directors didn’t make him pretend, instead having him run before saying his lines when he needed to be out of breath, or struggle against the grip of one of the directors when he needed to be pleading to be let go. In the end, not using a professional resulted in giving Russell a more human quality.

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However the largest challenge to the Up production was the creation of the key element to the movie: the balloons themselves. Animators found themselves trying to figure out how to animate thousands of balloons, where each had it’s own movement but was also dependent on the movement of the group. Hand drawing the balloons wasn’t an option. Even for Pixar, the masters of state-of-the-art computer animation techniques, weren’t initially sure how to handle this one. So they teamed up with the world’s leading balloon cluster experts (how’s that for a title) and found the answer: physics and computers. Using what is called procedural animation techniques, the animators were able to set in the computer variables such as the amount of wind, and then let the formulas run, moving the balloons as they naturally would. The only problem with this method is it rendered the animators relatively powerless over the behavior of the balloons, resulting in several times during animation where they virtually lost control of the balloons. One of these mishaps apparently appears briefly in the actual movie, when a cluster of balloons breaks of from the group during the initial lift-off scene. Honestly, I’m still trying to figure this one out. It seems to me that animators should have control over their animation, but I’m going to assume that they know more than I do.

So lets wrap up by crunching some numbers. Up was in production for 5 whole years. Figuring out the balloons alone took over 1 year. A physicist figured out it would take 20-30 million balloons to actually lift Carl’s house. Animators actually used 10,297 for the floating scenes, 20,622 for lift-off (I’m still trying to figure out who counted those). In the end, it all amounted to one, 96 minute movie that grossed $293,004,164 in its opening weekend, the second largest amount Pixar has raked in on an opening weekend, after Finding Nemo. One great movie.

Articles used for this post:

Robertson, Barbara. “To South America and Beyond.” Animation Magazine, v. 23 no5 (June/July 2009) p. 6-8. 2009.

Terdiman, Daniel. “How Technology lifts Pixar’s Up.” Cnet News, May 27, 2009, Geek Gesalt, http://news.cnet.com/8301-13772_3-10249396-52.html (accessed November 7, 2009).

Information was also found on the Up website.