"Outsider Art"

ahalpert

Well-known member
I had fun shooting and editing this little piece for the Outsider Art exhibition at Christie's. The producer showed me a video for style reference and I knew I was going to enjoy editing with the sort of lo-fi compositing strategy they used because you get to have all the fun of placing and timing a video collage with little of the stress or tedium of lining things up carefully or doing complex animations. A bit carefree that way. And the artists we feature are unusual and probably certifiable.

This is the video we produced:


And this was the video I was shown for style reference (which someone else made):

 
I like it a lot! The timing and movements are just perfect. I like the speed ramp in there too. If I had a quibble about anything, I'd choose just a slightly deeper dof on a few of the shots where the center is coming into focus as the edges are leaving. I did not view the style reference video.
 
Very nice work, Abe. Also cool subject.

Do you ever work with the 19th-century furniture dept at Christie's? I have a friend who's worked there for many years.
 
Yes, very nice work. I like the movement, the pacing, and the art looks great against the white background. Unlike Tom, I actually like the shallow DoF shots.
If I had to quibble about anything it would be the talent's eye line. I feel like she is usually looking too low, as if speaking to a really short person or someone in a chair. In fact, since the tone of her delivery and what she says sounds more like a "presentation", rather than sounding like she's being interviewed by someone off-camera, I would have had her make direct eye contact with the lens and speak directly to the viewer.
 
I like it a lot! The timing and movements are just perfect. I like the speed ramp in there too. If I had a quibble about anything, I'd choose just a slightly deeper dof on a few of the shots where the center is coming into focus as the edges are leaving. I did not view the style reference video.

Thanks, Tom. That's very encouraging. Yes, perhaps I should have stopped down for some of those off-axis ECUs... I'm not so used to cropping the shots like this and it's a client preference to get those off-axis shots where you look down a plane that goes in and out of focus. Perhaps because it helps differentiate the video product from the high-quality, high-resolution (but very straightforward presentational) stills that are produced of every artwork. Uncropped it usually works. But maybe it didn't work here, or maybe I should have animated the mask and cropping to try to stay centered on the focal plane better...
 
Very nice work, Abe. Also cool subject.

Do you ever work with the 19th-century furniture dept at Christie's? I have a friend who's worked there for many years.

Oh that's cool. I actually didn't realize they had a furniture department specifically for the 19th century... I was going to say that I've never worked with them but then I remembered that I shot and edited a video last year for an estate sale that included a lot of Biedermeier furniture, which I believe is 19th century stuff. I was happy with how the video turned out although I don't think it was stylistically distinctive:


What is your friend's name?
 
Thanks, Tom. That's very encouraging. Yes, perhaps I should have stopped down for some of those off-axis ECUs... I'm not so used to cropping the shots like this and it's a client preference to get those off-axis shots where you look down a plane that goes in and out of focus. Perhaps because it helps differentiate the video product from the high-quality, high-resolution (but very straightforward presentational) stills that are produced of every artwork. Uncropped it usually works. But maybe it didn't work here, or maybe I should have animated the mask and cropping to try to stay centered on the focal plane better...

I said "if" I had a quibble and I really don't. It's beautiful work, don't overanalyze my remarks I loved it!
 
Yes, very nice work. I like the movement, the pacing, and the art looks great against the white background. Unlike Tom, I actually like the shallow DoF shots.
If I had to quibble about anything it would be the talent's eye line. I feel like she is usually looking too low, as if speaking to a really short person or someone in a chair. In fact, since the tone of her delivery and what she says sounds more like a "presentation", rather than sounding like she's being interviewed by someone off-camera, I would have had her make direct eye contact with the lens and speak directly to the viewer.

Thanks, Doug. I appreciate that. Hmm, split decision on the shallow DOF between you and Tom.

Yes, talent's eye line. She's not always making eye contact with the interviewer, so that could have been improved. And maybe the producer needed a man-maker. She was standing. She's short although not radically shorter than talent. Direct eye contact with the lens would probably make sense. In general, Christie's prefers off-camera eye line for interview-based videos, I think because they try to avoid a presentational sales pitch style and instead aim for something more edgy. In theory. But sometimes they do direct-to-camera and I agree it could have worked well here.

I probably should have mentioned in my first post that I did not light the artworks. I just lit the talent. Christie's has a talented team of lighting technicians who fly around on Genie scissor lifts all day lighting artworks with ellipsoidals and par cans on ceiling tracks and they do great work (although they don't light to a consistent stop around the building but what can you do). We do choose the background paint color for a shoot like this, although white is the default.
 
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Yes, really nice work. I love the complementary but different movement across picture frames.

It's easy to get into a routine of always doing things the same way. I was much more experimental 20 years ago than I am now. Maybe mid / late career is the perfect time to get some of that experimental moxy back.

Here in Asia this is considered the archetypal progression for artists btw. - you spend your youth and middle age rigidly following the conventions while you master the craft. Wildness, invention and self-expression is for the elderly. Or to put it another way, you're a craftsman first and only later an artist.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matsuo_Bashō
 
I think it is very interesting and well put together

---

"I've got to say he passed away in obscurity
And now all the vultures they're coming down from the tree

He's gonna be he's gonna be
In the gallery"

.
 
Casey Rogers, and apparently she's now head of that dept.

Oh that's funny. I met her briefly when she came to that apartment shoot. She seemed nice. For the rest of the project, there were 3 layers of bosses between us so I received feedback from her only indirectly.
 
Ha! What a funny coincidence. She is very nice (or at least that's always been my experience with her). I haven't seen her in ages but we were close back in college and for a while after, and sort of keep up with each other at arm's length via social media now.
 
Yes, really nice work. I love the complementary but different movement across picture frames.

It's easy to get into a routine of always doing things the same way. I was much more experimental 20 years ago than I am now. Maybe mid / late career is the perfect time to get some of that experimental moxy back.

Thanks, Andy. I credit the producer with deciding on the style and finding the reference video. But I really enjoyed it and hope to make more like this. I think they wanted this approach because it's sort of lo-fi or slapdash, a bit like the artists themselves. (We've done split-screen compositing befofe but usually it's more rigid in the layout.) That's generally the Christie's production philosophy -- to emulate something about the artwork we're selling in the video itself. But this was fun and different and I'd like to do it again.

One thing I've been trying to do lately is incorporate more barrel rolls into b-roll. I've been dutching liberally for some time, especially in wedding b-roll. But I don't usually think to do a roll. I tried to remind myself to make a pass on each artwork in "FPV" mode on the gimbal. ("POV" mode on some gimbals.) And then just kind of wave the camera around and see what worked. Those ended up being some of my favorite shots.

Here in Asia this is considered the archetypal progression for artists btw. - you spend your youth and middle age rigidly following the conventions while you master the craft. Wildness, invention and self-expression is for the elderly. Or to put it another way, you're a craftsman first and only later an artist.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matsuo_Bashō

It's interesting that an artist career in the west is almost the opposite, at least for the stars. You need to make a splash and break conventions to get attention. Then you can just repeat your style until the end of time.

That poet is interesting. Not sure I've heard of him before.

I like these poems:

古池や蛙飛びこむ水の音 furu ike ya / kawazu tobikomu / mizu no oto an ancient pond / a frog jumps in / the splash of water [1686]

いざさらば雪見にころぶ所迄 iza saraba / yukimi ni korobu / tokoromade now then, let's go out / to enjoy the snow ... until / I slip and fall! [1688]

旅に病んで夢は枯野をかけ廻る

tabi ni yande / yume wa kareno wo / kake meguru
falling sick on a journey / my dream goes wandering / on a withered field [1694][39][40]

It's interesting how Eastern poetry bears some relation to Americana. Such as this passage from "Dixieland Delight" by Alabama:

White-tail buck deer munchin' on clover
Red-tail hawk sittin' on a limb
Chubby old groundhog, croakin' bullfrog
Free as the feelin' in the wind

Or this bit from John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High":

His sight has turned inside himself to try and understand
The serenity of a clear blue mountain lake
 
It's interesting how Eastern poetry bears some relation to Americana. Such as this passage from "Dixieland Delight" by Alabama:



Or this bit from John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High":

Wow, yes they're great examples. It doesn't seem very fashionable at the moment to believe in cultural universals but they are all over art.

After reading your post I tried FPV mode on my drone for the first time - a slow roll will definitely be useful for some shots.
 
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