Scoring Session: The Picture of Dorian Gray

Aka “Too Many Hats!”  I wouldn’t consider these the absolute best pictures ever, but it’s hard to be the composer, conductor, and music producer, and also try to take a few pics on the side.  This is the recording session for a new ballet film based on Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray.  As a ballet, I had to compose the music and have it recorded by a certain date, without having seen any footage.  Now that it’s recorded, I’m hard at work mixing, mastering, and polishing, while my director Felicity works on the choreography.  While I’d like to say that I drew a great amount of inspiration from Wilde’s novel, reading it would have taken much time away from actually composing the music; I watched Albert Lewin’s 1945 film adaptation instead.

This marks the first time I have used the Canon 7 since Fall of last year, and I’m out of practice: there are one or two rather glaring focus errors, and while I think I would have been better suited with an SLR, I’d say that I really focused on the music first (pun intended), and only snapped a few here shots here and there when not actively recording.  The camera was lying around in a few different places and not all of the pictures were taken by me, as evidenced by the fact that I’m in some of them.  The main visual component was shot by the film director as a “making-of” documentary, so at some point there will be a video of the recording session floating around the internet.

The pictures are almost current, as the recording session took place just a week and a half ago, and a few days later I was on my way to the Durango Independent Film Festival.

Trump

Please don’t take this as an endorsement.  I’ve been waiting to post for a while, but thought it might be more relevant around election time.  Donald Trump held a rally at UCCS back in July.

We all found out about the rally two days before he was here; it happened to be my day off so I went down.  I can remember a lot of outrage almost at once, mostly individual outbursts on Facebook, but it does remind that while Americans talk a lot about valuing free speech, it’s usually only when it’s speech we agree with.  Word got out of a petition signed by 114 UCCS faculty (many of whom I know) which, as far as I can tell by reading the wording of the text, doesn’t condemn his appearance on campus as much as just declaring disapproval of Mr. Trump in general.  What that petition was supposed to accomplish besides putting on the record those professors who are likely voting for Hillary Clinton, I don’t really know.  Personally, I was excited that UCCS should gain the exposure brought by the rally and was happy to attend.

One could get a maximum of two tickets for the event, free on Mr. Trump’s website, and I saw a lot of suggestions on Facebook discussions that people sign up for tickets and then not show up.  Well, this didn’t accomplish anything at all because room was given on a first come, first serve basis; they didn’t even check tickets, but I did get junk mail from the Trump campaign for weeks after that.  I got on campus around 10:00 (Trump was scheduled to come on at 2:00), walked from a free parking spot, and got in line around 11, with the line already stretching East from the University Center, past Dwire Hall, down the hill and halfway around Centennial Hall.  It took 90min to get inside the building (great organization there) by which time I wished that I’d had some food on me–of course there would be no food served inside, but thank God there was water!

I learned later that only about 1500 people were allowed inside Gallogly Events Center (it’s where we have basketball games) and I must have been among the last few hundred let in.  Most of the bleachers were full already, I hung around on top for a minute before being told off by a security guard, and did manage to spot a friend of mine standing near the stage, so I went and hung out with him.  Trump was late by more than 45min, and I remarked at one point that it was no longer fashionable.

I’ve done my best to stay out of this most recent rat race, and hadn’t heard Mr. Trump speak before.  I have to say, he was quite entertaining, even if he didn’t have much to say.  I think he spent the first 20min or so cracking jokes about the DNC.  People would yell to him to talk about a particular issue, and he’d pause on that briefly before going off on some wild tangent.  He did have some strange fixation on our fire marshal doing his job, I hear he went back to that several times after I left.  I stuck around for about 45min (perhaps an hour), but my back was killing me and I was hungry.  I had heard that perhaps as many as 10,000 people had shown up looking to get in to the rally, and that the protesters had finally decided to roll out of bed and come down, so I went to take pictures outside.

I’ll admit, one of the main draws for me was the possibility of seeing some “excitement” break out among the protesters, but it didn’t happen.  Talking to a few of the photographers and newsmen outside, evidently there were many more protesters that left before I got out, but when I was there they were only 50-75 strong, talking loudly to about the same number of people on the other side of the campus road.  Nothing happened and with not a whole lot of people out there, I went to the on-campus pub and got some lunch, then played pool with a friend of mine.  Well, the day fizzled out so I then decided to go home.

I’ll admit, I feel a little bit like Les Blank on Burden of Dreams here, missing the best parts of an event by being in the wrong place and at the wrong time.  I missed more gigantic crowds outside, and also found out after the fact (from friends’ Facebook posts) that Mr. Trump walked the floor after his speech, so I missed out on getting up close and personal with my camera.  Oh well.  Here are a few links pertaining to the event:

http://www.kktv.com/content/news/Fire-marshal-responds-after-being-called-out-by-Trump-at-UCCS-rally-388720102.html

http://www.uccs.edu/trumpevent2016/index.html#july28

http://www.coloradoindependent.com/160419/donald-trump-colorado-springs-protest

http://www.csindy.com/IndyBlog/archives/2016/07/28/trump-event-at-uccs-stirs-controversy?showFullText=true

Completed

Well, I locked picture and sound today, a full 22 hours before the deadline for submitting to my school’s short film festival (not that anyone reading this is in Colorado Springs, but just in case, here).  So glad to be done with it, at long last.  There is still more to do, as I’m going to submit to film festivals (I allocated funds from my budget for this) but I don’t plan to start that process until next week.  Tomorrow I have a photography critique, then music composition jury, then I officially submit the film, then there is judging that night for the festival, which I will attend.  After that I’m going on a much-deserved 2-day vacation.

Film banner5d

May 1st, Overwhelming Majority will be unleashed on the world.

Edit: and nearly a day later, I decided I’d just remix a few things…just a few things…

In memory of the fallen

It’s been hard to write this, I get choked up a lot.  I didn’t actually know Officer Garrett Swasey, but as a member of the UCCS campus community his loss has affected me.  On Black Friday, I was out getting shots at the mall for my final project, and there turned out to be a lot less people there than I would have expected; I have no idea why.  I didn’t find out about the shooting at Planned Parenthood until 4:30 or so that night when I got home.  My roommate works at Panera and drove over to the blockade to serve hot chocolate to the police.  The next day I attended the press conference in Gallogly and the candlelight vigil outside the University Center.  In keeping with my ongoing projects, these pictures are inspired by William Klein.

I didn’t attend the actual funeral last Friday, but was on campus for the motorcade’s drive-by on Austin Bluffs Pkwy, just me, a few friends, and half the university.  In typical Colorado fashion, the motorcade was behind schedule by about an hour and a half, but we stuck around.  Many cars passing by honked in support and I am grateful to them.  The sun had already gone behind the mountains when the time finally came, and we surged across the road to the center island forming two long lines, silent, solemn, and dignified.  The procession itself lasted about an hour, so many police vehicles participated, and from all around the country, I’m told; many were sheriffs’ offices from counties I didn’t recognize.  There was a great showing from the police forces of Denver and its suburbs, and I did notice vehicles from: police departments of Laramie, WY, Albuquerque, NM, and the University of Wisconsin, as well as: the CO State Highway Patrol, US Mint, Homeland Security, and BATF.

Probably the most moving thing I’ve seen is pictures and video taken from inside the police cars showing just how many people came out to show their support.  I was a participant, I didn’t move much, and my pictures don’t do justice to the scale, but I’m honored to have been there, to give an insider’s perspective on national headlines.  A heartfelt thanks to all who serve and protect.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 (KJV)

#uccsstrong

Scoring Session: The Lady and the Phantom

The Lady and the Phantom is a short film made by the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Communications dept and scored by my friend and classmate, composer Joshua Aldrich.  A live orchestra was contracted to perform the music, and I am told that this is the first full-scale scoring session of its kind in the Colorado Springs area, which is pretty damn cool if you ask me and I’m proud to have been a part of it.  All the players are local musicians and some are current UCCS students.  The orchestra was conducted by UCCS Prof. Sean Hennessy in a room that I’ve had several classes in myself over the last few semesters.

As a fan of film music it was pretty awesome to be able to take pictures in the room while the orchestra was being recorded, and I definitely had the Scoring Sessions site in the back of my head when I was taking pictures.  It’s different from shooting a rock concert, as I can’t just take pictures whenever the hell I feel like: I was very conscious to make noise only when they were rehearsing a cue or other times when not actually recording, though I did get a few shots in right before they started the count.

If the exposure on these seems to vary wildly from one image to the other, it’s because my camera screwed up big-time, and it’s a miracle any of these images turned out at all.  I’d never used the ESII inside before, now I know not to do it again, there must be something seriously wrong with the meter.  I’m preparing to send the ESII to this guy because I’ve read lots of good reviews of his work and his prices seem to be pretty reasonable.

Though not strictly necessary with the light I had, I pushed these rolls of Tri-X 2 stops which allowed me to comfortably use my 135mm lens somewhere around f/4-5.6 and my other lenses at f/8 or so.  I experimented with a stand development this time, using D-76 1:1 for 13.5 minutes.  I don’t know if that hurt me or preserved what shadow detail was left, but it sure didn’t minimize the grain like I’d read, though I suppose getting correct exposures would help!

The F335 has really made this process speedy for me.  The recording session was 9AM-12, I had the film processed, dried, and in my bag by 2:00, and once I got back up the pass, I had everything scanned into my computer by 4:00.  If the exposures weren’t off so much I could have had them posted that day on Facebook, but as it was I wanted to get the most I possibly could out of improperly exposed negatives, which meant using Photoshop back down at school the next day.  Still, all in all, it took just a day to get everything corrected as much as possible and posted online, when before the Pakon it would have taken a week or more.

edit: To come full circle, I’ll plug the soundtrack as well.