Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tilt-Shift Photography: Minneapolis

Missing a good screen saver in my life, my mind went back to UNIQLO and I asked myself, Whatever happened to UNIQLOCK? A quick Google search took me right to the site in question and I discovered three new "seasons" of screen savers. If you don't feel like clicking these spurious links, I'll let you know you're missing out on six different programs of dancing Japanese girls.

UNIQLO is a clothing manufacturer and they produced an infectious series of screen savers featuring a little dancing vignette every five seconds as a clock counts down time in your time zone. The music is a very bright and energetic retro-lounge electronica style, kinda like Pizzicotto Five or Towa Tei, at times. The girls dance around like concept art students, modeling selected outfits of the company. It's really attractive and I don't know anyone who reacts adversely to it.

They've also created a calendar screen saver. It shows the local time and weather in your area (though Chicago is as close as they come to anything like Minneapolis, which is not listed) next to a fascinating sequence of clips from independent photographers throughout Japan. These clips are bird's-eye views of the cities and rural areas of Japan, but brightened in saturation and tilt-shifted in focus, then sped up with frames removed. The effect is that it looks like stop-motion animation of incredible detail, with tiny model people marching in parades or jogging in a marathon, tiny trains scooting through the countryside, or the sun and moon racing across the sky over a landscape. It's beautiful and arresting imagery.

Tilt-shift photography is profoundly interesting to me and it just struck me to learn how to replicate this effect myself. I'm not likely to make a video, but I did attempt a shot of downtown Minneapolis, doctoring it to look like a replica model of the city. I'm not entirely satisfied with the effect, but not entirely disappointed either.

I think this would be a fun effect to apply to Holidazzle, as a matter of fact. That would necessitate me attending Holidazzle, of course, and my dislike of this nonsensical event has been amply advertised by a certain local-cheerleading hipster, but heed this. Sometimes it's important to purposely do things we find distasteful for the purpose of keeping our minds open. As an editor, it's important for me to read a magazine entirely outside the realm of my interest (e.g., fishing, snowmobiling) to experience it in its own context, read the terminology, &c. In this vein I've agreed to watch the first Twilight movie with my wife, trying to keep my mind open and generous, which will be as much of a challenge as attending Holidazzle, but for the latter I can bring a camera and keep a creative project in mind. Kind of like crushing a distasteful pill and mixing it with strawberry preserves, to mitigate its passage and intake.

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