Category Archives: Services

Bob Potts Kinetic Sculpture

Bob Potts is an artist in Trumansburg, New York. He contacted me in 2009 to document kinetic sculptures he’d made and post them, along with an earlier film which had been shot by Peter Carroll. The layout and the format were to match that previous film and the same musician, Peter Dodge, was to do the soundtrack. So my job was to light, shoot, and edit, which I did. I also designed his YouTube Channel which has thousands of subscribers. 
Bob is soft-spoken, intense and multi-talented. He’s a poster child for what a good video can do for an artist. Since he posted his work on YouTube his art career has taken off with shows all over the world and a gallery in Switzerland. The films we made were also featured on the website Colossal.

Related Images:

Fine Art Painting

After art school I stopped painting and focused on filmmaking for seven years or so, and ended up going to graduate school for film. I graduated from The American Film Institute with a degree in directing and, needing money, I quickly landed in the art department, where, among other things, I did a lot of scenic painting for rock videos, TV, commercials and film. When that work got slow I housepainted.

After computer and electronics-based film and art making the tactile quality of plaster and paint is like comfort food.

Big empty wall
Big Wall, Tiny Painting

After many years having my creativity “mediated” by machines that demand updates, bug fixes, and a maddening and endless search for technical know-how, I have started painting again, partly out of a desire for a more immediate and direct creative experience and partly because someone I owe a lot of money to had a big empty wall in his waiting room and a tiny little painting to put on it. 

The purpose of this post is to advertise this service to prospective clients. 

My first client agreed to consider a trade with the stipulation that he didn’t have to take my proposed large-scale painting if he didn’t like it. That seemed reasonable. Looking at his taste and with the direction of “abstract with texture, and pow colors,” I started with some photoshop mock-ups (below):

Through this process I established:

  1. That he didn’t like circles, or too much red.
  2.  That he wanted something bright.
  3.  That he kept coming back to a section of my second proposal (2 of 4) which, despairing of finding the right photoshop brush to do good paint splatter, I had pasted a Jackson Pollock painting into the mockup and threw some filters on it to make it match the floor.

So I decided on Jackson Pollock. It’s what I wanted to do anyway and the final result can be seen at the top of this page or the end of the slide show. The still image doesn’t do it justice. 

Having limited my filmmaking to art projects and regular clients, I have been looking for a new way to earn money. I have already begun doing house painting and carpentry, why not fine art–made to order? 

An All-Inclusive Presence

Filmmaker/animator, Bryan Root, artist, Fernando Llosa, and musician, Peter Dodge, are working on an ambitious 70-minute animation for which we are raising money. 

When we have a kickstarter or gofundme page the link to that site will be here.

The title of the piece —An All-Inclusive Presence— was originally given by Fernando to a limited edition book containing an essay and a set of images selected from a large body of ink paintings made between 2004 and 2013. There are two essential and intertwined observations at the heart of that work. One is that our long-standing identification with limited, contradictory, and extremely divisive forms of personal and tribal consciousness has alienated us from the mystery of life, the fundamental source of the human presence in the cosmos. The other is that, unless we somehow manage to overcome this alienation from our natural common ground, we will continue to live in increasingly worse forms of the same cultural fragmentation and interpersonal conflict we have already suffered for thousands of years.

Early in 2016, Peter accepted Fernando’s invitation to compose the original score that would accompany a video animation of a new selection of that same group of paintings. Peter had composed and performed music for  films Bryan had done for another artist and recommended him to Fernando.The fact that Fernando’s paintings had been made on glass with the express purpose of digitizing them for the production of large-scale prints, made that particular body of pictorial work ideal for the kind of detailed animation that Bryan likes to do. He agreed to participate. 

Below is an initial fundraising video done almost a year ago. 

Since then we completed the first of three sections of the film, a five minute excerpt of which is shown here: 

(COMING SOON)

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Some information about the three artists collaborating in this project

Bryan Root

Bryan studied painting and film at Tyler School of Art and graduated with a BFA in 1986. His post-graduate filmmaking got him into the directing program at The American Film Institute where he made 4 short films in two years, won a scholarship, and attained his MFA. He spent the next 15 years working in the Los Angeles film and television industry.

He made a web-based narrative farce, spacerex.com, which he set aside in 2003, to make “Dirty Habit,” a low budget feature he wrote, directed, and edited. He has made short films for musicians, artists, and scientists and worked freelance for National Geographic, The Smithsonian Network, PBS, and Action News.

His collaboration with kinetic artist, Bob Potts became a YouTube sensation and led to worldwide exhibitions and sales of Pott’s work. Bryan’s animation of paleo-artist John Gurche‘s busts of human ancestors went viral and received 32 million views in just 3 days, and has since permeated to the utmost backwaters of the web.

For more information, please visit Bryan website at this address: https://www.motherlode-pix.com/

Peter Dodge

Peter has been a professional musician for more than 50 years and a composer for 30. He graduated from Ithaca College in 1975 with an Applied Music degree (performance/trumpet).

He began performing his own music in the early 80’s, utilizing synthesizers and tape loops to create multi-layered soundscapes.

He has collaborated with choreographers (Nancy Gaspar, Lonna Wilkinson, Judy Brophy, Bernadette Fiocca, Jill Becker); performance/ritual artists (Cly Boehs, Dinosaur, Watchface, Leeny Sack); poet/storytellers  (Peter Fortunato, Katherine Blackbird, Regi Carpenter); filmmakers (Jay Craven, Gene Katz, Photosynthesis, Peter Carroll, Bryan Root); and music ensembles (Spirit Horses, Wonder Cabinet, Cloud Chamber Orchestra); on the internet, his music accompanies illustrations of the kinetic sculptures of Bob Potts filmed and edited by Bryan Root.

Peter’s work ranges from dense noise collages to high altitude salon music, and usually features some combination of piano (grand and toy) and various wind and string instruments. 

Fernando Llosa

Fernando is an artist, writer, and bookmaker who lives and works in Trumansburg with Kim Schrag, his accomplice in life and art. The possibility of a radical revolution in human consciousness is his central concern. You can find out more about him and his work here: https://unboundart.com/

Rongovian Embassy Poster for February 2015

Rongo-150129Poster4
footer logo designed by Q Cassetti

I’ve been fascinated by the timeline of history on the wall of the Rongovian Embassy since the first time I went there in the early eighties and that became the concept.

Q Cassetti designed the footer for the poster, which gave a strong foundation, and  set the bar very high for whatever I had to come up with. The Rongo is the most famous landmark in Trumansburg (See Wikipedia) and the public house of my own community. It is a legendary destination dating back to my infancy. So there was no pressure whatsoever. _R2_3472Babel

I drew the Rongo building in the style of the tower of Babel–from whence, according to the Timeline of History, many of the bloodlines of humanity are traced.

TimelineOfHistoryHankRoberts

I felt the need to bring back a little of the clutter and patina of the old Rongo. The place needed (I just have to say it) a high colonic. And it got one. Which is good.  But I am very sentimental about nicotine stains, yellowed paper and other visible signs of human habitation.

I cast around for a few days for concept to hang a poster idea on. Of course this required putting some time into “getting the vibe” of the newly-renovated bar. I’m pleased to report that the Rongo is in very good hands. It’s a very very nice place to hang around in. The beer, mixed drinks and food are excellent and affordable.

Video

The greater part of my adult life has been taken up with the task of making video look like film. With the advent of the Digital Single Lens Reflex camera making video look like film got a lot easier. With my first DSLR I was able to use lenses that my father bought in the 1970s with stunning results (see below).

The chips that gather the image data inside the DSLR cameras are almost as big as a traditional 35mm camera which gives the shallow depth of field (some things in focus, other things out of focus) that is the defining characteristic of real film.

Smart-Brothers
Smart Brothers, from The Green Room Lounge.

I own 2 matching DSLR cameras and can shoot both sides of an interview or do multi-camera coverage of an event. I can hire additional cameras as needed.

But lighting is what separates the seed from the chaff. Many of your less experienced camera people (videographers/not cinematographers) think that an expensive camera is all they need to make a good image. But if it’s not lit, and you can’t love the way the thing that you’re selling looks, no amount of editing is going to fix it.  A sense of composition helps too.

Lizzy-Ross-Band
The Lizzy Ross Band from The Green Room Lounge

I have Arriflex and Mole Richardson (industry standard) lights and stands. Apart from my feature film, Dirty Habit, I shot everything you’ll see here on this site. I have contracted others as a second and third camera persons at times but I have always done the lighting myself.

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Motion Graphics

We've gone on at some length about the importance of other services we offer and why you should hire us instead of an undergraduate film student or hobbyist, but when it comes to motion graphics and animation, twenty four frames a second is worth a thousand words. Have a look at our reel and I think you'll find that the four words. "this is so cool," pretty much sums it up. And sometimes that's enough.

Most of the films you'll see on this site have our motion graphics in them, generally at the beginning and/or the end.

This reel also features a Blu-ray menu, and a character morphing excerpt from an evolution animation we did of John Gurche's artwork. All the work here is done with Adobe After Effects and Photoshop. We also shot and recorded the accompanying musical performance by Woody Pines at the Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival.

Custom animation is our top-of-the-line product and can be very time consuming, but we may just have something laying around the shop that we can retool to fit your needs.

Concepts

Concepts are the visual ideas that give structure to design and help define your brand. It’s more than just a logo. It’s your story. It’s the detail about you or your company that all your design decisions will be based on.

Motherlode pictures headslate

The concept for my company, for example, is that the family posed in front of their home  (my actual ancestors) are the propietors. It’s an idea that resonates with me personally because  I made my first successful film, Wishing Well, on an optical printer I built from equipment my grandfather left me along with a box of old home movies.

The concept started to evolve  when I saw this picture in a shoebox at my grandmother’s house. Now my fonts, my textures, my visuals, and even my vocabulary is based on the time period of this picture.

I no longer have to  ask myself “how does this leaf and berry flourish on my business card express who I am and what my business is all about.” I just ask, “what would They do?”

badge-shop_petrune

The concept for the petrune commerce site came out of an afternoon’s wandering around their store. The next day I collected all the materials and shot the backgrounds.

This is a Blu-ray menu for my film, Dirty Habit, which is about a nun and crack-addict getting stuck on an elevator together.

Finding a story that resonates is not easy, but it’s worth it. Because once we know and love our concept, all the design decisions practically make themselves.

When you hire me to make a film for you I can throw some concepts out and see what what sticks. If you’ve put your heart and soul and your kid’s college fund into your business venture, don’t scrimp on this step.

It’s the difference between a brick house and pile of straw.

 

Art Direction

I use a broader definition of art direction than the guilds in Hollywood.

I could call it Production Design, but honestly, we’ll call it that when it’s appropriate. Art direction is what they called it back when movies were “pictures” and the credits only lasted three minutes.

I use the term to describe everything you see in the frame of the finished film that isn’t a human being. For example, if I decide we need to shoot your film in the conference room because I like the potted plants, that’s art direction.

 

 

Branding

It’s not just for cows

...but it's the same idea.

Immediately recognizable as yours. That's branding. Successful, publicly traded companies have all, at some time or other, paid an ad agency genius to distill their company's identity down to a few strong brush strokes.

It's a chicken and egg question as to whether successful businesses have good logos or good logos make successful companies. Either way, the importance of a simple, immediately recognizable symbol that is pleasing to the eye, appropriate to the company and easy to fit on a box or business card, is incontestable.

"What is this film about?" my professor at AFI would ask in his eastern European  accent. "What is the premise?" ("where is moose and squirrel?") he'd press. If you couldn't tell him he'd send you away to think on it some more. No one was allowed to talk about anything technical until the seminal questions were answered. It was great. This disciplinarian approach has guided me ever since. And it's applicable to more than just film making.

Take a look at some of the the branding ideas I've come up with and logos I've designed and read my post on Concepts--which are the foundation of a brand. I'd love to help you find your brand and how it fits into a film and anywhere else you want it.