Monday, January 31, 2011

Within White Fences

As if I didn't already have enough going on in my life, I was asked by one of my friends David Murakami if I would DP his film. This dude knows his stuff, so I was more than happy to help him on his project. A few weeks later he sent the script out. Wow! Talk about ambitious. I have no doubt that David will put it off, but wow! Let's just say one of the scenes calls for a car crashing into a limo. I'm excited though to get the ball rolling.

To give you an idea of the caliber of David's films, give this a watch. Take into account most of these sidewalks were not empty when they filmed the scene.

This past weekend we had our first shoot. The scene followed the "hitman" character waiting at a bus stop. To say that the lighting conditions were horrendous would be an understatement. We had to rely solely on the one streetlight from across the street and the occasional passing headlights from oncoming traffic. It's times like these when I'm glad I traded in my HVX200 for a Canon 5D. I shot the entire scene at ISO 2500, 1/30th, and f/1.4. Talk about extremes. The final image is a tad grainy, but it has an almost gritty, urban feel to it.

Here are a few screen grabs from the footage.

Film still from "Within White Fences"

Our Hitman...

I'm very much looking forward to working with the very talented cast and crew of "Within White Fences" in the oncoming weeks!

Seeing Double.

I quite enjoy me some vinyl toys. No surprise. I check blogs like Spankystokes and Hello Vinyl daily to get the scoop on the newest vinyl releases. When Artist James Jarvis announced his Wisdom of Caleb series, I knew had to get one. The tricky part was deciding on which t-shirt design to get considering there were eight options.

I decided on the "Sausages" and "I Heart BM" ones. I couldn't get just one. My girlfriend found the BM hilarious, so that was that. I was lucky to get one of the "sausage" Calebs, which sold out pretty quickly afterwards. Not to mention the t-shirt poking fun at the infamous "Supreme" logo. Overall, really funny characters and top notch quality vinyl.

As with all my toys, I love photographing them. I try to find an environment that fits their character. So for my two Calebs, I put them in downtown Santa Cruz. I'd imagine they are both looking for the nearest public restroom to desacrate. These guys mean business.

Here are the photos.

Nighttime Stroll


I <3 BM

While out, I also brought along another vinyl toy I recently picked up. This one is called "Sweety." She's an oversized candy with braces. She was more than happy to show me her pearly whites for this photograph.


Some More Long Exposures.

Sort of addicted to the art form. You never know if you're image will come out good or not. Long exposures are guesstimation in it's truest forms. Here's a few captures taken at night on the UC Santa Cruz campus. Special thanks to Ben Bunch and Anthony Cote for hanging out!

The Infamous "Squiggle"


Study of a Space/Style.

For those that don't know, I'm currently a senior Film and Digital Media major at UC Santa Cruz. As with most students I have my qualms about the layout of the major, but my main concern is not getting into classes required to complete the major. I am also in what is known as the "production concentration," which basically means I'm focusing on the production aspect of filmmaking over critical analysis. I only have two more quarters left at this school, and I need to take two more production classes. Thank God I was able to get into the film production class I needed this quarter.

Film 172 is essentially an intermediate film production class. We are expected to have a decent knowledge of film terms and concepts. Making films is what I live for, so lectures for this class can get a bit dull. I understand the importance of the information, it's just a lot of redundant stuff most of us know already. Regardless, the focus of this class is to create one eight minute short film by the end of the course.

I had my idea for my short film even before the first day of this class. I've done a few stop frames in the past. Most notably "Sculpey the Slug" which premiered at that 2009 Santa Cruz Film Festival and "I-KAN Love" which won first place in IKAN's Short FIlm Contest. As an attempt to challenge myself, I wanted to raise the stakes. After seeing a few films online, I wanted to make a stop-frame with people.

Here are a few of the short films that inspired me.

So instead of animating an inanimate object or some clay sculpture, I plan to animate a human. Obviously, it would be easier to just film it like live-action, but that wouldn't quite get the look I'm going for. Also, I plan to tap into the imagination realm by including the animation of random household objects (i.e. iPods, pillows, slippers, etc.). The story I have planned is a bit elementary in terms of content, but this is more so I can focus on the style of the film.

Eli Hollinder, our professor for Film 172, gave us the assignment of studying a space/style. He recommended that we shoot in a space or in a style that we planned to use for our longer film. This was the perfect opportunity to try out the "style" of my film, because up until then I had never experimented with it.

After waking up one morning to catch the sunrise via timelapse, we set out to film everyday actions, but by taking bursts of photos. When we were all done, I think I had somewhere around 2400 photos. I then spent the rest of that day editing together the photos with sound. It was not always easy to pick the best sounds for each action, but I like the way the sound design turned out. Sound has never really been my forte, so I hope I can change that with this assignment!

After showing my class my work, they seemed pretty impressed. This was a big ego boost for me. Sometimes when you sit down with an edit for so long, grueling over the small, minute details, you can quickly lose focus of the piece as a whole. Many of the students asked how I did the intro timelapse/dolly shot. The teacher seemed pretty impressed with the work too. I'm happy with the overall outcome of the study and can't wait to get started on the real project! Check back in a few weeks and I should have the film online. For now, you can check out my tests below.

Cookie Monster NOM NOM

Ever since I started using Instagram on my iPhone, I've made it a point to follow people I find interesting. I recently started following a user who constantly posts photos of their baking endeavors. I think her name is something like "artiki." Anyways, the other day she posted a photo of her "cookie monster cupcakes." Once I saw those, I knew I had to make them. Because my baking skills are way below average, I relied on the aid of my girlfriend to help out. We got all the necessary ingredients and began concocting our sugary little morsels of sweet confection. We let them cool over night and then in the morning Jenny and I decorated them in the image of the notorious "cookie monster."

They turned out delicious. We brought them to my girlfriend's friend's house who was having a party that night. That was the last we ever saw of them. I made it a point to snap a few photos to remember our tasty escapades!

Cookie Monster.

Day or Night?

I've been meaning to do some long exposures for awhile now. I've tried out a few beforehand, but nothing I was really too excited about. Long exposures alway seem more fun in theory. Actually being out in the frigid night air, blindly composing a shot, and then waiting several minutes to see your image is quite deterring.

With all that aside, the moon has been ridiculously bright these last few days. Ben, Jenny, and I headed out to the scenic bluffs on West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz. Ben just got his new intravalometer, which allows one to take longer exposures than the cameras preset shutter options. I was down for the idea so my girlfriend and I put on every sweater and jacket we owned and headed out into the night.

When we got there, it took a moment for our eyes to adjust to the darkness. As mentioned earlier, the moon was so bright that it illuminated the ocean and surrounding coast. There were even a few brave surfers out in the ocean catching some waves, mind you it was nearing 12AM.

We all set out to take our photos. Ben with his GH2, Jenny with her Mamiya, and me with my 5D. I threw on the fisheye hoping to get some cool results. Focusing was a bit hard so I had to guesstimate. I set up my first shot, set the ISO to 800, the f/stop to 5.6, and the shutter to 30 seconds. As I waited for the image to finish exposing, I was convinced that this capture was going to be awful. When the LCD screen illuminated with the photo that was just taken, I lit up with joy. The exposure was spot on and the composition looked nice. Because of the moon, the sky looked blue as day, and the lighthouse in the distance looked like the rising sun.

At the end of the earth.

I took about a hundred images that night. I was extremely pleased with the results. When I returned home about 2-3AM, I was so excited I began editing my photos. I only selected a handful out of the batch that I would upload. Here are a few of my favorites.

While Santa Cruz sleeps.

Day for night.

Lunar flares.

I also, shot a timelapse while I was there. Not too exciting, but whatever. I wish the photos were taking at longer intervals to show more of the clouds moving. Maybe, next time.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

"Never Stop Rolling": An Autobiographical film.

This past quarter I took an autobiographical film production course at UC Santa Cruz. I wasn't crazy about it, but it was the only production class I got into.

Just as the title makes it sound, it was a class where we had to make films about ourselves. As many of you who know me personally know I'm a pretty shy guy. So making a movie about myself, you know, starring me, freaked me out a bit. Just as with all film assignments, I put in a huge amount of effort forward on my projects. It was weird doing voiceovers and editing footage of me, but after the fact I quite enjoyed it. Filmmakers so often already include so much of themselves in their films, that turning the camera on themselves doesn't feel so unusual.

The film below was my second assignment for this class. Our prompt was to make a film about a memory experienced three different ways or times in our life. I decided on making a film about my memory of skateboarding. According to the teacher I didn't quite follow the prompt, but she still gave me an "A" for all the effort I put onto it.

So check it out, "Never Stop Rolling."

Also, every week we had to do vlogs (video logs) about ourselves. I had some fun with them. Most are just whatever.

iPhone app OCD and my new love affair with Instagram.

I honestly think I have iPhone app OCD. I'm always checking online and in the app store for the newest and greatest apps. Right now I've been really getting into photography apps. A few months ago, I strictly stuck to Plastic Bullet. It was great, but the randomization of the post process got a bit annoying. If I had a particular style in mind I'd often have to wait 10-20 refreshes until i got exactly what I wanted.

The two camera apps I've been using as of recent are Camera+ and Instagram. Camera+ needs no introduction. It's simply a great way of taking photos and making simple tweaks to them. Instagram is a nice little gem I discovered while in Hawaii. Let me just say that I'm loving it!

So the appeal of Instagram is that not only is it a photo manipulation app, but it integrates social networking amongst other photographers and instagram users. The app square crops your pictures and allows users to choose over 10-20 filters to add to give it an aged, vintage look. But what I really love about the process is after you take your photo and decide on a filter, you upload it with a caption and a gps location point. In short it gives a context for all your random phone photos. It is very similar to Facebook's news feed, in which photos from people you follow are updated in a real-time list.

Gizmodo did a recent article on it that I found hugely enlightening. One of their main points for why this app is so great is simply because big time corporations and companies can't really get in on it. It's a very specific social networking site that calls upon its users to create the content for others to see. My only qualm with it is that more of the people I know aren't on it. Hopefully it will catch on, but for now, I'm having a blast using it.

FIND ME! Username @kmper02

Here are some recent Instagram photos.


Cliche lines


Mermaid Cafe

Balsamic Oil Hearts

Quite a collection

Mahalo Xmas.

Christmas time has always been a semi-weird time for me. I love giving and receiving gifts, but it always feels so forced. Why does there have to be one special day a year where we give our loved ones things we think they'll like? Is it to simply let them know we care? Maybe it's because my family is so spread out across the US, I've never really had a big family gathering. Either way, the days surround xmas are a great time for catching up on much needed rest. Also, Starbuck's has those awesome peppermint mochas. So for this xmas season I just hung out with the girlfriend and her family in San Jose.

Saner Santa

On the 25th of December, instead of opening up presents, we were booking it down to LA. My girlfriend and her mom wanted to visit their daughter/sister. While they were doing that, I drove down to spend some time with my mom in Orange County. It all worked out quite nicely. My girlfriend's sister was even sweet enough to get my dog and I a little Hollywood star of fame with our names on it. Thanks Jyoti!

On the 26th of December we drove back to San Jose. Normally we would have taken our time, but we had to catch a flight the next morning out of the San Jose Airport. We were heading off to the beautiful garden isle of Kauai. My girlfriend's mom, with the recent passing of her father and an overbearing work load, needed some time to relax, and what better place than Hawaii. Kauai is great because of its lack of modernizations we take for granted. They probably had two or three traffic lights on the island. Jenny's mom agreed to pay for my airfare as an xmas present to me, which was extremely thoughtful and unexpected. Luckily I had a $250 United voucher that I could help her out with. The only downside was that we had to leave our pug Coco at home with one of Jenny's cousins.

Before we knew it, we were in the air. It rained on an off when we got there, but the weather was great. A bit humid, but honestly what can you expect. We went kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, played with sparklers, took photos, you name it. The island is so small you can drive across it in about an hour. One thing I will miss is the honeydew melon italian ice and the kona coffees we got each day. One thing I won't miss is all the roosters everywhere. Kauai is overrun by hens and roosters. According to our tour guide on the kayak trip, there is a 5:1 ratio between roosters/hens and human. Seeing a rooster roaming the parking lot of a Costco is just simply something I never thought I'd see.

I wish I had more to say, but honestly we spent most of the time just relaxing and doing touristy things. Thanks Jenny and Laurie for an amazing trip!

As always, here are some photos from the trip.

I Love Her



Work in Progress



Lens-babe-ified Tree

Explosions on the Beach

Fun with Light

Electric Shock


WRX+ ecstasy=WRXtacy

Sometime around December, I decided enough was enough. I had to shoot something. I figured my car would make a good subject, and it was something I've been meaning to do for awhile. So around 8pm in the pouring rain I drove up to the UCSC campus in search of a covered location. Because most of the students were away for winter break, I had the campus all to myself. I ended up pulling into a vacant parking garage on the north side of campus. I parked my car and began shooting. What you see below is the result.

The Happiest Car EVARRR!

My girlfriend used to roll around in BMW 325i wagon. It was her dad's, but because he had a company car, he let her borrow the wagon. Well long story short, he lost that job and had to take back the beamer. This left my girlfriend without a car. I don't mind driving her around, in fact I love driving my car, but it begins taking a toll. When I have to drive up to the UCSC campus multiple times a day, it puts a lot of mileage on the car. It also doesn't help that I have to put premium gasoline in my car.

My girlfriend knew this was bumming me out. So on began the car search. The thing about her is she can't just buy any old piece of junk car. She wanted to find a car that fit her personality and that she would enjoy driving. She was also very adamant about getting a manual despite the fact that she's only had one lesson ever. I mentioned awhile back I thought Mazda Miatas were cool, but figured it would be out of our price range. A simple craigslist search proved otherwise. Miatas are dirt cheap. From that point on that's the only car she was looking into.

We checked out one or two before we finally settled on an awesome little white one. The owner was a huge Miata enthusiast, which is always a good thing. The car had aftermarket springs, O2 sensor, new wheels, radio, roll bar, and a front strut brace. This was the one. A few days later the dude dropped it off her mom's house in San Jose and we signed all the paper work. She was now the proud owner of 1993 Mazda Miata MX-5.

Oh joy!

The next day, we took it out for a spin. As I mentioned earlier, my girlfriend and I had only received one stick shift lesson. We weren't so great at it to say the least. We stalled numerous times, but it was loads of fun switching the gears. My girlfriend ended up picking it up quickly and in three days time she drove it over the treacherously windy Highway 17, back to our home in Santa Cruz. I drove behind her just to make sure nothing crazy happened. Just our luck, it began pouring on the way home, but my girlfriend drove on like a trooper.

All in all, she loves the car. It can be a bit of a bummer driving on the UCSC campus or in traffic, but otherwise she's loves driving it. This is also good for me because it means I can let my Subaru rest more often. I also find it funny that my girlfriend is getting the "mod bug" as they say. She has plans to paint the car graphite gray and get some wider wheels for that aggressive stanced look. For now though, she rocks a mustache decal on her front bumper. 'Stache Power!



New car

Makin' Munny.

So, I've already done a post about vinyl toys, and my fascination with them. What's cool is a company that goes by the name of Kidrobot has a line of DIY toys that you can draw on. Essentially you can make your own vinyl toy. Over the past few months I've been dabbling with this medium. I really like the idea of creating art on a 3D canvas. They have templates to practice your design on, but I prefer just free-handing it.

Here is one of my recent DIY vinyl toys.

Custom "Mr. Nice Guy"

Also, here is one the my girlfriend Jenny made.

Polaroid Munny

And here's a short video of me free-handing a Munny with Sharpie.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Gift for a Photographer.

My girlfriend and I have been together for two years (on November 20th). I'm writing this post a bit late, as with all these recent posts. Life has the tendency to consume me so I rarely have time to update a blog. I'm trying to change this for the new year. No more of this updating my blog with posts that should have been written 6 months ago!

Portrait of a woman

Back to my girlfriend. She's awesome. Truly one of a kind. She loves trying new things. When we started going out, she told me she had an interest in photography, but had never really done it. I set off to teach her all I knew. She learned on a good ol' 35mm film camera, which is the way everyone should learn. DSLRs are just too easy. Film is much more exciting, plus it's what all the present day DSLRs are based on! She picked up everything so fast. Eventually we began researching other formats (i.e. medium and large format). So for our one year anniversary, I get her her very first MF (Medium Format) camera. A Yashcia-A Twin Lens Reflex. This is one of those old vintage cameras that is just awesome to look at.


So for our 2nd year anniversary, I decided I had to outdo my last gift. Since we had a photography theme going on, I decided to do some more research. I eventually stumbled upon a company who goes by the name "Mamiya." At one time, these medium format cameras were the top dogs. They held their own against Bronicas and Hasselblads. But because of the digi-craze, no one wants a film camera anymore. This means exponetially lower prices on pro film gear. I lucked out winning a Mamiya RB-67 camera and kit on eBay. I won't say the price I paid for obvious reasons, but let's just say I got everything (camera, 2 lenses, prism viewfinder, shutter cable, 120 back, 220 back, polaroid back, and 6 rolls of 120 film) for less than the price of a entry level DSLR. Not sure if that made sense, but I got a great deal on it.

I let her have the camera a few days early and she loved it. The negatives/positives are teck sharp. Not to mention the camera is a beast. At least 5 pounds, which can get tiring to handhold. Either way, the camera is great for any analog lover.

Here's some recent photos taken on the Mamiya.

Snail Trail

I love our pug



Oh, Cock

Autumn colors


If you care to take a look at my girlfriend's lovely photos, here's her Flickr

Somebody got some new wheels.

Wheels are expensive. Luckily for me there's a brand called Rota that makes replica wheels. These wheels use popular designs and tweaks them to resist infringing on existing patents and copyrights. I finally got the funds to buy me some Volk TE37 replicas, known as the "ROTA Grids." A lot of people hate on Rotas saying they're structurally weak wheels, but for the price, you can't really complain! Plus, I got mine used for $900 and they came with tires. The Grids normally cost around $999 plus the cost of tires. I later found out that the tires I got retail for about $340... EACH! They were in perfect condition too. Apparently they're "run-flat" tires, meaning that if you get a flat, you can still drive up to 100 miles at 60mph. WOAH!

The only downside was that when I got them, they were white and a bit scratched up. I figured that since I got such a good deal, I'd get them professionally powder coated. Big mistake! You see, I wanted a dark gray gunmetal-ish color for the wheels. The guy at the paint place gave me a pamphlet with hundreds of different colors. I went with the color I thought most closely looked like a dark gray. Turns out the gray I chose had a very noticeable blue tint to it. In the sun these wheels looked like a pastel blue. I was not stoked. I drove around with them for a week hoping I would change my mind, but it only got worse. Finally I said enough was enough. I headed down to Autozone and picked up some flat black wheel paint. I spent the next weekend re-painting the wheels. It took all day, but I'm really happy with the finished product. Not a huge fan of the "murdered out" all black look, but it's better than it was before! Overall I'm excited to be driving in a aggressively stanced car. Not slammed, but riding "practical low." I can still make it over speed bumps just fine.

New setup


From behind