Sunday, November 11, 2012

When Life Gives You Lemons...

In my high school yearbook, my quote beside my graduation photo was

"When life gives you lemons, you make orange juice.”

To my knowledge, I made this up, though others have probably thought of it. I almost forgot about this phrase, when recently it crept out of the deep banks of my memory and proved to be relevant again. 

Years ago I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis, which is actually a very common disease but not so common amongst teenagers. In some degree or another it does affect my day to day life, but I’m very used to living with it. I really don’t put that much thought into in, but it’s about to be at the forefront of my life.

Unfortunately I have to cut my time in Chicago short to go to Edmonton for surgery to reconstruct my temporomandibular joints. I received a call this past week offering me the surgery on December 7th, I said no immediately, not wanting to pause all the exciting things in my life for this less exciting experience. Then I was informed that if I didn’t take the date, the next opportunity probably wouldn’t be until the late spring.  The surgery requires me to be in Edmonton for a minimum of two months afterwards, so I figured that it’s probably better to be there for the winter and just hibernate my way to health than to miss out on summer fun.

I’m not thrilled about spending that much time in freezing cold Edmonton, or about the side effects of the medications I’ll be on, or that they’ll shave the sides of my head to perform the surgery. HOWEVER, I’m so incredibly fortunate to be receiving this procedure for free under healthcare! And fortunate that my parents are in Edmonton and are willing to take care of me in a very needy state for two months! And fortunate that I get new joints and won’t have to live with the pain and restrictions of my condition (at least in that part of my body) for much longer!

And this is where the orange juice comes in. If I’m stuck in Edmonton for two wintery months then I’m going to cherish the unique situation I'll be in. I've been really busy for the last year, so living with fewer distractions and using my days to work on satisfying side projects could be wonderful. In days when I’m too drugged out to work, I’m going to read that stack of graphic novels that have been untouched for too long. In days when I can work, I’ll have two photobooth animations that require hundreds of hours of editing. And days when I’m feeling better I have a book that I need to finish writing and lots of artwork for it that I’m so excited to tackle.  And on top of all of this, I’ll have endless quality time with my family cat.

I only have fifteen days left in Chicago, which makes me terribly sad, but I hope to be back in the new year. And before I go back to Edmonton, I’ll be making quick stops in New York, Vermont and in Montreal for interviews for my book. It should be interesting. 

B&W Photobooth Animation

I shot a stop-motion animation in a photobooth at Auto-Photo's warehouse in Montreal this May. (You can see details about this here and watch my first two animations here.) I've been slowly chipping away at the huge task of editing it over the last few months. And even though I'm not finished editing, I decided to take advantage of my situation here in Chicago and shoot another.

At A&A Studios there's a beautiful Model 11 photobooth that I use almost daily. I have access to the interior of the booth so it allows me a lot of control over things like paper type, filters, exposure, chemical temperature and strength, which all significantly impact the photos. The booth can run on both black & white and colour chemistry but I chose to shoot this one in b&w, as my others have all been in colour.
In preparation of the animation, today I spent two hours removing the old chemistry, troubleshooting problems from the last batch and mixing new chemicals. I won't lie - this is disgusting and potentially very hazardous work. There is absolutely nothing glamorous about this task, I will equate it to changing a baby's diaper. You love that baby but it doesn't mean that you love handling their poop.

Another advantage to shooting this animation at A&A is that I'm not rushed to shoot it all at once. So I've already started on the simpler parts that I can do without assistants. I'm about 10% finished the shooting and probably 2% finished the overall work that will go into it.

Here are some frames from the first strips I've taken. Some are tests and others will be in the finished film.  

Sunday, November 4, 2012

In Spirit of the Season

Halloween is one of my very favourite holidays and I was excited to celebrate it in a new city this year. Unfortunately, a nasty cold+flu combo has been dragging me down lately and put a halt to my plans on the actual night of Halloween... meaning I have a costume that has gone unworn. However, being sick didn't kill my love of the season.

A couple weeks ago I went pumpkin picking with some friends (and their vintage film cameras) at a nearby farm. We even had some adventures in a corn maze.

 I have a very tiny bedroom here in Chicago but that's no reason to not make it feel like home. I found some items I really like at a rummage sale and at a nice stationary store so I whipped up this focal wall.