Our Tools

"We become what we behold. We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us." - Marshall McLuhan

Thursday, February 23, 2012


EffectsSpew from Aaron Johnson on Vimeo.

I took 2+ minutes of continuous video shot from a small park
along the river, where the Century Center sculpture and the Sample Street
bridge were visible in the shot. I then sliced the video up at about every 10
seconds or so. In each 10 seconds I tried to apply many different effects,
often with the same effect layered in multiple. The first 10 seconds were just
about the only time you can actually make out what the picture is. In the rest
of the clips I tried to distort it so greatly that it became unrecognizable
from its original form. I apologize, but I don’t have Premiere on the computer
I’m writing this from, so I’ll do my best to use the proper names of the
effects but may get some wrong. Many of the clips I had “finished” at some
point, but then I’d render it all, and realize I hated certain segments. I
could have kept playing, but I think my wife was ready to leave me (or at least
start drinking) because of how much time I was spending on it. Some of the
clips I’m still not pleased with. But several have become something entirely
different from what they started. I was able, in a few clips, to take a very
boring scene of water in a river, a static sculpture and bridge, with just a
few cars moving through, and turn it into something that makes me feel
something. That’s pretty cool.

The first clip uses 3D with varying distances, to make the “canvas”
on which the frames are laid appear to be a physical thing. With some waves and
progressive color changes applied to give it some more interest. I especially
like how at some points the sculpture becomes the only visible object in this
clip, and the background is black. The next 10 seconds I still used changed
perspectives, just not with the 3D effect, but with a different one (I forget
the name), as well as some more color changes and the twist deform tool to
create a warped image floating around. I wanted the twist to be in motion, but
I couldn’t figure out how to do this in the many hours I spent on the project.
The next clip has the image inverted and distorted—less with colors but more
with sharpness and blur in varying layers that give it some snow-like texture.
A slight turbulence layer gives its motion some depth. The next clip is
multiple different blurs, and a mirror effect, moved this way and that. This
one completely transformed the images into a sort of fuzzy, folded, waving thing.
Next up I played again with colors to varying degrees, as well as the Bend
effect and the corner pins effect to stretch the images to and fro. The next
clip is one I really like. I originally just added a generated lightning bolt
being shot from the top of the sculpture and progressing along the bridge—but I
wanted more. So I added a circle effect, and then multiple changing layers of
embossing. On top of this I put a large, moving, feathered magnifying circle.
The results are very cool, I think. The next clip is similar to one before, but
I applied a couple of different waves to it to distort it more. Next up are
multiple find-edges effects layered, as well as multiple turbulence layers.
This turned out well, except I wish I’d have slowed down the turbulence some so
its warping progressed slower. Following this is excessive use of the swirling
and mirror tools. I was kind of aiming for a Space Odyssey 2001 feel (the
obelisk sequence) but it ended up being more of a Beastie Boys video feel.
Still pretty cool though. The next scene I really like – my favorite. I flipped
another mirror on it so it made a symmetrical track, then applied different
color changes to highlight the sculpture colors, and played around with magnifying
circles moving in different sizes and speeds along the horizontal line,
following a vehicle on the bridge, etc. This one actually evokes an emotion in
me that I can’t really describe when I watch it. At one point it kind of feels
like falling… I really like this clip. Next I used the magnifying circle again
over a grid of heavily modified and progressive color schemes, along with the
one that multiplies the images into a grid-like pattern (duplicate I think?) with
different numbers. I didn’t like this one at first but now I do after I changed
the order of the effects around to make it better. Next is another heavily
distorted one. Lots of heavy waves, color changes, and then circles that grow
laid over that, with turbulence over the circles (all but one, and it pisses me
off that it escaped the effect). And finally the last one changes through
different layered waves and color changes again.

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