Iceland was one of those trips I set my mind to and willed company to follow. Thankfully, my brother was up for a very different kind of trip than his usual beach or city visit. And his daughter, my 8 year-old (now 9) niece. And finally my colleague and co-advisor from TGS. Somehow, our crew came together… different age groups, some strangers at first, novice and experienced travelers… and what transpired was truly enjoyable.Read More
While in Miami on official TGS business, I joined my friend Nick on a road trip to visit his grandmother in Boca Raton. We felt like doing something adventurous on our weekend off, and when a spontaneous trip to Cuba didn’t pan out (due to their visa restrictions, not ours), I decided to tag along for his mini-family reunion. The point of the trip wasn’t to craft a story or film anything; we were there to visit a lovely woman and enjoy some peace and quiet pre-Costa Rica. However, when we embarked on an exploration of the neighborhood in a retro golf cart, the inspiration flowed.Read More
One of my favorite weekends involved a road trip to the Coromandel to celebrate Nick’s birthday at the newly-purchased home of Andrew McLean. We had a complete blast making music with melodeons and djembes, rebuilding bonfires on the beach, and eating crazy amounts of barbecued meats and veggies. I have never witnessed such a unified affinity for nature by a country. Through the channel of our local contact, it felt like we got a taste of this focus on the outdoors and the joys of sharing it with friends. I endeavor to adopt a little of this and take it with me wherever I go next.Read More
Thought it wasn't my first choice to attend virtually, it was my only realistic option, as I was deeply embedded in school on May 1st, the day of the event. But this was a big moment for me, a first exhibition for an art major and with deep significance in location at that. I wanted to be able to absorb these factors viscerally and emerge from the experience enriched and with the sense that I had exhibited work always meant for others' eyes.Read More
I booked my ticket to St. Thomas a week prior to going, and one hour after I confirmed my flight, my friend from high school posted a photo of his current view from the same island.Read More
My "Spring Break 2013" does not yet resemble Harmony Korine's visions of debauchery, but I've been enjoying this week, one unlike the usual work week. I decided that during this two-week break from school, I would relax in Boston and then use the second week to get closer to the sun. During this Boston-based break week, I've been getting back in touch with this ole blog-o-mine, photography, and activities I rarely enjoy at work, like reading or going to events around the city. Though my attempt to see an advanced screening at a cool, old movie theater didn't pan out, I was successful in attending a speaker event at MIT's Media Lab.Read More
On Friday evening, I was captivated by the oncoming snowstorm called Nemo that blanketed the city of Boston. From a perch overlooking the State House and the Boston Common, I could watch the sky darken and the air become increasingly opaque.Read More
I like telling stories around the world: in written form, through snazzy visuals, and from both experiential and academic perspectives. I would do this of my own volition (ahem, Nomadderwhere), but thankfully my job allows me to do this for pay every day. From time to time though, I also make marketing videos to give more context of this visionary establishment that houses such endeavors. Here are the latest ones of note.Read More
Here's hoping border crossings are all fresh. Visiting Uruguay a few weekends ago reminded me how lucky I have been to see different countries. I wanted to reflect my appreciation for a new place with a new video technique: light leaks.Read More
It's time to navigate away from Indiana again. The school year is starting, and I'm about to move to a country I've never visited. Come Tuesday, I will have some new students, new co-workers, a new home with someone else's furniture, and a new culture to study...thankfully in a language I'm already comfortable with. Last year's school locations of Ecuador, Thailand, and Germany look to be replaced by some diverse locales, all brought to you by the letter "B".Read More
I spent my childhood in Wabash (and took innumerable visits in the last twelve years), and this was one of my top ten favorite mornings in my hometown. Maybe it had something to do with flying above the trees with the wind in my hair. Remember, I'm a converted adrenaline junkie...when the wind is just right.
This is a promotional video for the clean-up efforts of the Wabash River Defenders.
Some of my students called it "the best five days of their lives." That kind of statement carries a good load coming from kids who visited the Galápagos, the Amazon rainforest, and the Bavarian Alps this year alone. At the end of the academic year, my students were given the great opportunity by the school to live out their own Amazing Race through Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Austria.
I went along for the ride.Read More
The last three months of living in Berlin have been culture-filled indeed. One of our guest speakers this term expressed his belief that if Paris, London, NYC, and other global cities had their heydays in past decades, Berlin is having hers right now. While it's harder to find a contributor to culture living in New York City than it is a financier or business person, in Berlin the culture contributors are the vast majority and the makers of the dough. If you're going to study art today, this is certainly a place to witness a present movement gaining definition.Read More
Though I'm not processing my own experiences in video form as of lately (due to lack of time), I'm really please with what I've been able to crank out in Berlin. There are moments when what I've documented for work has impacted me, mostly at Wannsee Haus where the Final Solution was created. In this great city of culture and history, cinematic moments abound. Here are the ones I've caught thus far.Read More
I first heard about the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in an art history course called The Medieval City. Dr. Diane Reilly made it sound rockin' - an historic route through France, the Pyrenees, and Spain that devout Catholics took to reach one of three cathedrals with the remains of an apostle, in this case St. James. Traditionally the pilgrims trekked barefoot and penny-less through the mountains and vast expanses, accepting hospitality from churches and homes on the path.
Between the 12th and 14th centuries Santiago de Compostela grew in importance and prestige, at times even eclipsing the pilgrim routes to Jerusalem and Rome. It is remarkable that tens of thousands of pilgrims chose to suffer the hazards of this route every year during the Middle Ages. A combination of the relative accessibility of the route and the miracles associated with the relics of the Saint beneath the magnificent cathedral were certainly contributing factors in its popularity. (Camino Guides)
Sheen plays the protagonist of this story, as a mild and conservative father who finds out his son died while attempting the historic trek. In an attempt to fulfill his son's goal and to process his own grief, Sheen treks the entire length, picking up comrads in a Wizard of Oz-esque fashion.
My parents watched this film at the Heartland Film Festival and felt it was one I needed to see. My mother reflected after our shared screening, "I got choked up on that car ride to the airport, when the son tells his dad he has to go because it's there. That sounds like something you've said."
We've shared many a ride reeking of the same sentiment.
A co-worker and friend from Ecuador is planning on traversing this route in September by bicycle. I've even heard murmurs at work about doing this famed trek and the powers of the introspective journey. I'm mostly fueled by visuals, which is why even though I'd learned about it in school and chatted about it with friends, it took a feature film with some of the Sheen men to make me add 'the way' to my bucket list.
“The Way” is at the very least an exquisite product placement for the Spanish Tourism Board. (Shockya)
I've decided that, these days, if I can produce a blog post a month, I'm a lucky gal. Lucky to find breaths between beloved jobs to do similar work of my own volition. Lucky to be able to reflect on experiences and milk what value can be gathered. I doubt the cafe I edited in today for four hours felt lucky to have a table occupied by a one cappuccino gal, but I'm lucky I found that space this month to process my August road trip through New England. What was meant to be a longer trek through areas of Maine and Vermont had to be cut short due to the panic surrounding Hurricane Irene. The trip had no conclusion in real time. It felt like a rush job of a trip, even more so the documentation of it, but what resulted is a video exalting the thing I studied most - the water that I feel sources so much of the grit and character of New Englanders.
I was surprisingly unfocused on my fleeting dollars being allocated to gas, the pile of money I dropped for the rental car, or my lack of accurate driving instructions or lodging reservations. The nausea I usually reserve for typical tourist activity - the expensive kind - took a vacation as well. Instead, I felt loosely propelled by the desire to consume miles of coastline and smell a breeze conceived hemispheres away.
Like gulping sweet water in the middle of the night, driving was refreshing after my nine month car-fast, a guilty binge on air, music, and speed with a known expiration. And with this limited excursion, I caught wind of what a conventional adult vacation smells like - not bad at all, in fact pleasantly normal, if infrequent and savored for its rarity.
I've managed to compile myriad jobs and hobbies that complement each other, one absorbing skills to improve the other, making me feel like I'm ascending Penrose steps. I spent the day researching ways to improve filmmaking skills that don't include paying for or attending film school, a theme I'm covering for Matador. While doing so, I ran across this gem of a video, which attracted me with its RJD2 soundtrack alone. Also, I'd give 'the art of...' anything a chance (even that horrible Art of Travel movie).
Perusing the many videos highlighting brilliant title sequences in film and TV, I'm immediately jazzed about learning animation and advanced graphics. My previous practice with titles in online video is to produce the title within ten seconds of its start. Aside from some stylistic guidelines, that's all the thought I've applied. With this study spanning decades of filmmaking, I'm inspired to pay closer attention to my video introductions, more than just watching the timeline and using a provided Motion template.
Perhaps the most intriguing comparison with past and present concepts is the affinity for an aged appearance. It's comforting and pleasantly dusty, and it gives me more ideas for vintage effects. Do you have any favorite video motif that you rely on the title sequence delivering?
If you like or produce film, I encourage you to find some of your favorite movies and title sequences on Art of the Title and read the thoughtful copy and interviews below them. The post on the 2011 Emmy nods for best title is especially great.
I took a vacation for myself, and it was evidence enough that the casual weekend away should be more of a priority. It was close by, surprisingly economical, and equivalent to a routine enema - a metaphorical flushing of habitual activity, not your bi-weekly bowl of Colon Blow. Here's a vignette of my weekend with friends in Boston, Massachusetts.
I'm overly focused on the long-term trip, when really there are far more people (especially in America) poised and prepared to go somewhere for a couple days than there are people raring for an RTW. Are there any weekend trips you've always wanted to take but haven't yet? Tell me about it, and then go book your Megabus ticket.
Video Editing Note: In this vignette, I wanted to play with the idea of aged, albeit timeless, summer footage, which matched perfectly with this Peanuts-reminiscent soundtrack by Jeris. Of course, I had to include the beautiful capacity of the DSLR video during most of the video clips. I also did a lot of research on how to create the 35mm slide projector look. If you're pining for the HD version, head to Vimeo. Any tips or feedback?
If you get a little tired of waiting for my posts on Nomadderwhere - which I admit have become incredibly random and sparse - I'll give you a little supplementary material. Recently, I wrote a feature for the Matador Network entitled 'Why the obsession with time lapse video?' Have you ever wondered this yourself? What's your reasoning?
I'm reposting here some of my points, but be sure to check out the full post on MatadorTV and provide your own commentary.
Why time lapse for storytelling?
As a member of the MatadorTV triad, I appreciate the whole spectrum of travel video production, from the cinematic to the gritty. Video is an accessible vehicle for storytelling that can avoid the obstacles ever-present with language. And even though written word can facilitate a sensory experience, the combination of visual and audio elements is powerful on fleeting attention spans.
In browsing TV’s most popular posts to date, time lapse comes away a clear front-runner of stylistic and technical approaches, and these videos tend to follow a different editing pattern than most. Cuts are longer. Static shots are still dynamic. The resident audio is usually stripped from the footage and replaced by a soundtrack, and people still manage to follow a storyline and maintain focus on the evolving subject matter. Warped time appears to keep viewers engaged.
If you haven't been keeping up with MatadorTV, I suggest you check out some of the amazing recently-featured content, like this month of nature footage in Iceland, Ross Ching's time lapse of roads not traveled, and his version of 'carmageddon' with tips on how to create the effect.
Believe it or not, I did some journalistic research for this feature. For real! Home girl went to Wiki!
Why time lapse the subject matter?
Among the most popular subjects for the time lapse technique is nature, as evident by Terje’s work. This isn’t a shocker considering time lapse was made most well-known by Dr. John Ott, a photographer who documented growing plants. From the first time I watched a bud morph into a full blossom and added my own soundtrack of “whoaaa,” it seemed clear we could forever capture these natural elements and continue to amaze virtually everyone.
Of course, simply pointing the camera and tripod at any old vista won’t make for a viral, compelling, and timeless video. Ross Ching, a filmmaker in Los Angeles, stipulates, “There needs to be originality. There needs to be pioneers. There needs to be something more than beautiful shots. There needs to be a human element. There needs to be a story.”
Though this one borders on just plain fast rather than time lapse, here's my personal dabbling into the speedy film realm with my 'Nomadderwhere's 2010 in a Minute' video. My experimentations are more successful with work footage, which will soon be visible to the public.
Maybe our obsession comes from relating the natural world to our own human interaction with it at an altered speed, warping our day to day, minute to minute perceptions of being present and active with the surroundings.
On occasion, I feel the perspective time lapse affords me is akin to a mini-spiritual awakening, an out-of-body experience while armchair traveling...
Time lapse is one of the many vehicles through which filmmakers and storytellers have learned to transmit concepts from the world to the world effectively. And with the amount of attention we give these works today, it appears to be an approach that works.
This is a two-pronged post - conceptual and practical - so before you hate on cats, read the first half and reap the benefits. This week officially marked my sixth month living in New York City. Spending $100+ on shipping boxes was a cost I happily incurred, in the moment and in hindsight. Transporting little things on quick trips home was a breeze, especially since I've already weeded through and prioritized my material things in life. But the last step in this transition and relocation was the transportation of my 10 year-old feline, Alli.
Owning a cat at this stage in the game is one of the few things that goes against my potential nomadic ease. Three years of college in dorms and sorority houses weren't conducive to hosting her, and post-college travels only had me in her vicinity for 49% of that time. For nearly ten years, my parents were wildly flexible and tolerant to house my shedding ball of love. And when the decision to move to New York called for a serious analysis of my pet ownership, I was overwhelmed at the extent to which I couldn't live without her.
We suburban Midwestern gals tend to grow painfully attached to our household animals, and I assume this touches on a maternal reaction to a dependent's reliance, which we embrace with fervor. We hear and respond to 'the call' - whether it's directed at us or not - to serve other beings. And it hits us with a glee/glum one-two punch; the latter only for the inevitable life choices or threat of loss an invested pet owner must face.
Though I find it a ridiculous debate and one that deserve zero airtime in any arena, I know not everyone enjoys cats, hearing about cats, justifying the existence of cats, etc. And though I am scribing and cutting video with those feline travelers in mind, Alli has been an obstacle to one half of my lifestyle and a beloved necessity to the other.
Dare I say we all have similar parallels?
I know a man named Jase who could easily steal the "Most Interesting Man in the World" title away from the bearded Dos Equis gent. Though I'm not completely clued in to the inner workings of his life, it appears he has very few factors hindering him from living the life he does: one of unconventional exploration. When he's not driving across continents, he's bartending for first class flyers. Jase is one of the few people I know that can actually live a nomadic existence without a desire for the opposite. He's the exception.
As my dad likes to diagnose, I have a tendency to be a contrarian, not only in the sense that I follow an unconventional job path but that I lean toward what's underrepresented in any sphere. I was a grungy nomad with a Blackberry, a sorority girl in art school. I summon a Devil's advocate response to any topic, but I don't put on black lipstick and call myself a nonconformist. These aren't conscious decisions. I keep my emotional eggs scattered in many different lifestyle baskets, to stay balanced and maintain the ability to relate to diverse people. My cat acts as my personal weight toward a more stationary and conventional path, for which I do have lingering desires. And I think most of us do, if not for that then something else.
Individually, we all tend to dabble, desire what we don't have, and wish to do it all. If you live a committed and routine life, you probably have the occasional hunger for wildly-dangerous spontaneity. And I've met plenty of travelers who can't silence the impulse to nest. Had I given Alli away in the move, I would have lost the sometimes necessary 'ball and chain', not to mention something I love. And had I merely left Alli where she was in Indiana, my move would have seemed an uneasy balance of two lifestyles: a nest with a false bottom or a trip that lasted too long. I desire a lifestyle that doesn't overindulge or invest in one way but moderates with many, because things change quickly and constantly.
Never letting the dust settle doesn't necessarily mean movement. It means variety. It means evolution. I'm not dedicated to being a nomad or a cat-wielding spinster, I'm just open to being influenced by the things, beings, and experiences that matter to me over time.
Guide to Flying Stateside with a Carry-On Cat
For those of you who don't like cats, stop reading. This is the practical part where I cringe over the amount of bad websites on this topic in existence and my subsequent call to make my own wee guide. This being a strenuous experience for human and feline alike, the only thing that will make you feel more comforted and secure is preparation. Don't take this situation lightly. The following relates specifically to flying with Delta, but most airlines will require some variation of these steps. And obviously, these were my steps, but everyone has differing opinions over big or tiny details. Ask your vet for reassurance.
When booking your ticket, ask to reserve a spot for your cat as a carry-on in the cabin. Each seating area only allows a certain number of animals on a flight. Do yourself and kitty a favor and book a non-stop.
Flying across state lines is surprisingly a Department of Agriculture issue. Research what is required of the destination state in terms of pet inoculations and documentation. Frequent your veterinarian to receive a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (or a health certificate), and expect to pay $30+ for these pieces of paper along with any necessary shots (often rabies). These are only valid within 10 days of travel, so schedule this visit a couple days before the flight.
Purchase a soft kennel to ensure its fit under the seat in front of you. I dug into the airline's website to find out the specific model of airplane I was flying and the measurements of the foot storage. First shopping online makes finding specific measurements and reviews easier than at a physical store, but before I bought the kennel, I had my cat 'try it on for size' at the store. Some may frown on that. I smiled at it. After purchase, stick one of the health certificate carbon copies in the kennel pocket.
Leave the kennel out for a couple days prior - to make travel less of a shock and give kitty more time to familiarize with her carrier. I lined the bottom with an old mat that she recognized, along with a maxi pad to make me feel a little better about potential accidents. Packed in my other carry-on were additional mats and pads, along with food and a copy of the health certificate.
Arrive 90 minutes early for check-in, pay your animal carry-on fee, and to ensure getting the best seating arrangement. Having an empty seat beside you is optimal. And make sure you pass through security during a lull. One TSA agent asked me if I wanted do the screening in a closed room, in case she breaks loose. I felt confident I could hold onto her and take her through the metal detector. At these low traffic times, someone should be able to help you return the cat into the kennel, if that's usually a struggle. Thankfully, Indianapolis' TSA agents are wonderful people.
When at the gate, appeal to the attendant (if you haven't already at check-in) to make sure your seating situation is that which will provide the least amount of discomfort for fellow travelers.
Take-off and landing are both awful, because kitty will be hyperventilating and without your assurance that everything is okay. During the flight, put the kennel in your lap, make sure enough air is hitting her, and insert your arm through the flap to hold her close to you, petting the entire time. This works for my cat, who clings to me at the vet's office. And don't be surprised if she slobbers excessively. Mine wouldn't accept any water or food.
Upon disembarking, be prepared for someone to pull you aside to inquire about your cat's health certificate. Though no one asked for mine, I think we'd all rather pay $30+ for nothing than get pulled in by the USDA.
Once at the final destination, make sure before the cat is let free that she knows where to find her water, food, and litter box. I recommend trying to maintain as much continuity as possible from her pre-flight norms - litter brands, food type, bowls, comfort toys or blankets. My cat needed a serious wipe-down out of the kennel, as she urinated a tad and slobbered her mat damp. Post-travels, it will take a while for kitty to feel comfortable and recovered from the traumatic experience. Thankfully, it's all over now.
Kitty ended up having to relocate back to Indianapolis because I got another traveling gig. On this leg, I consulted with a vet about giving her a mild sedative, which she took right before leaving for the airport. We tested the drug on her a couple nights prior, and it hit her like a brick within 20 minutes. Unfortunately, when it came to flying time, the pill didn't dissolved quickly, and its effects hit her five hours later back at home, swerving like a drunken sailor.
Crush up any sedative you give your cat into soft food she will easily digest. Test this practice a couple nights prior and make sure she has supervision the entire time. She will try to jump, and she will not be coordinated enough to succeed.