Posts Tagged ‘Video’

This summer, Luke Geissbuhler, the cinematographer behind the mokumentary-style movie Bruno and the upcoming film The Virginity Hit, masterminded a very different kind of movie.  With nothing more than a weather balloon, an HD camera and a GPS device, Gessbuhler and his 9-year old son created a homemade spacecraft and set out to capture its journey on video. The duo encased the camera, GPS and a parachute in a foam container, tied it to the end of the balloon and released it near their home in Newburgh, New York. Hoping to view the video once the balloon fell back to earth, Geissbuhler tucked a note inside the foam container promising a reward to anyone who returned the spacecraft to its rightful creators.

Turns out, the spacecraft was found in a tree later that night, not far from where it was released. But when Geissbuhler and his son watched the video they were amazed to find out that their experiment was a tremendous success. Their makeshift spacecraft had spent the afternoon in space!

To me, the video is a testament to the adage that anything is possible. With a bit of tenacity, research, and a few “flight tests,”  the duo engineered a device that overcame huge odds. Their tiny balloon made it through 100mph winds, reached the upper stratosphere of Earth in only an hour, and managed to land only 30 miles from where it was released! Oh yeah and the resulting film is pretty fantastic too.  Geissbuhler managed to tailor the spacecraft to keep it from spinning and the result is a steady and watchable short film.  When the balloon first breaks past the white clouds and reaches the blackness of space, the view is truly breathtaking. For all of you who wondered as a kid what happened to those birthday balloons that got away, you now have your answer.

-Julia Botero


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In 1969, experimental composer Alvin Lucier designed a simple project with a not-so-simple intention.   He sat in a room and made a short recording of his voice, which he then played back into the same room and re-recorded.  Lucier then re-recorded the re-recording, and repeated this process over and over again, making copies of copies until his voice became completely unintelligible. However, he found that the shape and size of the physical space emphasized certain frequencies over the course of the process – so what you’re hearing by the end of the actual “piece” is the room’s natural harmonic tendencies.  In effect, Alvin Lucier turned his room into an instrument.

The work was appropriately titled, I Am Sitting in a Room.  Last year, YouTube user canzona took inspiration from Lucier to begin his own project, I Am Sitting in a Video Room, which came to conclusion just last month.  canzona did the same thing as Lucier, only with a YouTube clip; he uploaded a video of himself, ripped it from YouTube, re-uploaded it, and repeated the process 1,000 times.

It’s worth noting that in the updated version, the project shows how the internet and all digitized information produce unexpected phenomena the same way physical environments do.  At work in canzona’s project are the “artifacts inherent in the video codec of both YouTube and the mp4 format.” Just as Lucier “played” a room, canzona “played” YouTube.

Each iteration of canzona’s video is available on YouTube.  A redux version of I Am Sitting in a Video Room is forthcoming, which should allow users to experience the gradual disintegration continuously from start to finish.  The effect may not necessarily be pleasant – but it makes you wonder if doing the same thing to another, more sonically- or visually-rich clip could result in something more beautiful than the original.  With an estimated 120,000,000+ on YouTube, the possibilities for this kind of experimentation are endless.

– Stephen Reader

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Finally, a YouTube time-suck guaranteed to delight you with repeated viewings.  If, by the end, your jaw is not scraping the floor, you will be sporting an ear-to-ear smile of gee-whiz amazement.

The band OK Go made viral video history back in 2006 with their goofy treadmill choreography. For one of their new tunes, “This Too Shall Pass,” they hired pals, who by day work for  NASA and the Jet Propulsion laboratory,  to execute a mechanical feat of genius inspired by Rube Goldberg contraptions. The vid was posted Monday after the band’s brief battle with their label EMI, which originally wouldn’t allow the video to be embeddable.

It’s extraordinary geekery with one potential setback: the mesmerizing visuals may just eclipse the music. As one commenter on YouTube posted today: AMAZING! but did anyone actually pay attention to the song?

– Michele Siegel

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The sequel to Oliver Stone’s 1987 film Wall Street is set to be released this spring, and Michael Douglas is back as the deliciously unctuous Gordon Gekko.  [Update – 3/11: The film’s release date has been pushed back to September.]

My favorite part of the trailer (posted below) is when a prison guard, returning Gekko’s possessions after he’s served a 20-year sentence, slides his mobile phone back to him. The brick-sized hulk of plastic is as unrecognizable to us as 1987’s fat and flourishing economy. Gekko is about to re-enter a world where the iconic Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers are no more.  Even Tavern on the Green, where the big climactic scene in the original movie takes place, shut its doors January 1 (with plans to reopen under new management next month).

A few months ago, Studio 360 talked to some of the screenwriters responsible for bringing Gekko into the 21st century:


How close did they come to getting it right? I’m looking forward to seeing the film and finding out.


– Cary Barbor

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Ladies and Gentlemen…

Greetings from Studio 360’s home base in New York City!

After weeks of listening to tape and mixing (and remixing) our stories, we’re proud to post the first sounds of our trip to Japan. On this past week’s show, we broadcast an interview with the writer Pico Iyer in Nara Park (remember Bad Bambi?), a lesson in Japanese tea ceremony, and Pejk’s trip to a mysterious forest at the base of Mt. Fuji.

Also, with the help of Matthew Cavnar, we present the first of three Studio 360 high-definition shorts. The first is from Kurt’s conversation with Pico in Nara Park:

We’ve got a full episode of material from Japan in this week’s (upcoming) episode. Hope you’ll tune in!

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More great design solutions that I wish we could bring back with us to the US:



Say you’re shopping in a department store with your toddler and you need to go to the bathroom… where do you stick the kid? TOTO, maker of the world’s most amazing (and complex) toilets offers another great product, attached to the corner of the stall.


The Japanese are known for being extremely considerate — but sometimes, even they need reminding. Or perhaps they’d like to politely remind their visitors? This public courtesy campaign is in train cars and stations. This is not your brain on drugs — rather, it’s a gentle, rational reminder not to be stupid:


"Texting while walking means putting a blind-spot in the center of your field of vision."


We’ve enjoyed staying 20 stories above Shibuya, one of the busiest pedestrian intersections in Tokyo. So busy, in fact, that they’ve done away with crosswalks: at the signal, hundreds of people cross every which way, then clear out completely to make way for the cars. The wash of people — like four dark waves, crashing into each other and then receding back onto the sidewalk — takes my breath away every time. Especially since I know we’d never be capable of sharing the street so efficiently and gracefully in Times Square.

– Jenny Lawton

(Frustrated Writer/flickr)

(Frustrated Writer/flickr)

(Shibuya on a relatively light day)

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Meanwhile, back at Studio 360…

Kurt Andersen and most of the staff are in Japan. Who’s minding the shop?

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Revenge of the nerds

Holy Geekdom! The DENPA party Sunday night was euphoric. Two floors full of happy nerds, dressed up as their favorite manga/anime/computer game characters, dancing to extremely loud computer game music, drinking, smoking and taking pictures of each other in studied poses. Takero Mimura, one of the producers of the night said that these parties are rare gatherings for kids who spend most of their time at home alone in front of their computers absorbed in some virtual obsession. But for all the talk about otakus as reclusive socially awkward shut-ins, this was quite a social ordeal. And they’re getting bigger and bigger, the first party earlier this year had 200 guests, this fourth party had over 700 people. Just to get a sense of the scene here is a very dark, very distorted one minute video from the dance floor (turn down your volume):

One funny thing: Even though booze was flowing and the dance floor was dark, I did not see one single couple making out. This is not because we were at a nerd party. It is a general Japanese social code; you very rarely see any public display of affection. Anywhere.

I’m posting some pictures of the costumes here, more on flickr.

– Pejk Malinovski




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Pico Iyer and Kurt

Pico Iyer and Kurt

Yesterday the whole team was in Nara (30 minutes by train from Kyoto) to meet with the writer Pico Iyer — we’ve turned to him several times on the show for his keen, beautifully expressed observations of life in various corners of the world. Pico first came to Japan 20 years ago — and although he has long lived near Nara with his Japanese wife, he explained why he is and will always be a foreigner there. Yet his insights about language, politeness, rebellion, and deference (and a ton of other Japanese things) revealed so much to us about the art we’ve seen (as well as our own experiences) thus far in the trip.

We taped Kurt’s conversation with Pico in Nara-koen — a giant park that covers the east side of the city. It’s home to several famous temples and shrines — and 1200 deer that roam free throughout the park. (Suddenly I was five years old again and had the urge to scream “Bambi!” But I didn’t.) In days of old, the deer were considered to be messengers of the gods — today they’re official national treasures. And noisy ones: they kept making this eerie whining sound to each other — some a high-pitched screech, others a low moan (mating calls?). After the interview, Pejk wandered around the park to get more of those sounds. The deer weren’t as friendly as the ones drawn by Disney.

– Jenny Lawton

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On the streets of Shibuya today: drum circles, drumming lessons, and breakdancing. We met a young radio reporter (Pejk spotted his DAT recorder) and he told us it’s the third annual Shibuya music festival, called Shibu-on.

Some video highlights: first, breakdancing unplugged – to hand drums, pan flute and didgeridoo. (No patchouli or hacky-sacks sighted.) These guys were actually pretty cool. The female dancer is probably the least girly girl I’ve seen in Shibuya so far.

And here’s a sampling of the drumming:

That was the World Rhythm Summit, the Drum Circle Facilitators Association, and Taiko Master in an arcade down the street.

– Leital Molad

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