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Winter Hoop Dance

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I joined a group on Facebook called The Hooping Game. Players are assigned songs, then have 48 hours to make a hoopdance video and post it back to the group. I got my song yesterday morning and braved the almost freezing temperatures at Yoyogi park to make my video.

You may notice the orange-hatted preschoolers passing by but you can't hear their little voices shouting "Sugoi!" as I danced near the fountains. Also not in the frame are the two dozen workers raking leaves around the trees. I added some interest to their morning, based on the stares and smiles.

I like this video. I haven't made a hoop video in a long time and The Hooping Game is going to give me some incentive to step up my game and dance more with evidence to prove it.

Hello Tokyo 2006

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Hello Tokyo's had a facelift, new voiceovers and some updated details. I ended up doing the voiceovers for the transportation section while I was still stuffy. I did my best, but my voice sounds a little strange.

If you'd like to see it, all 11 minutes are available now for free via Google Video:

Despite a few remaining flaws, I premiered it to an audience of 48 newcomers at Tokyo Here and Now this morning, followed by a presentation about some other basic Tokyo bits and bobs, and a long Q & A session. The fun thing about presenting such a general topic is that I always learn something. Did you know that there's a dog taxi service in Tokyo? It's called Angel Buggy

Or that the subway wickets marked with the bright pink labels will accept two Passnet cards at once? I thought they were only for commuter passes + Passnet, but I was wrong. They let you use up the spare change on your Passnet cards, or you can insert a regular ticket and a Passnet card so you don't have to fare adjust. It works great; I tried it this afternoon.

So now I have even more updates to do on Hello Tokyo. Watch for a new version in...2009?

Chasing the Director

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chasingHanako.jpg
On location at Narita

I'm involved in a film project but this time in front of the camera instead of behind the scenes. It's really difficult not to compose the shots in my head and think about how everything will be edited together. But all I have to do in this film is act like a bossy big sister--and it's shockingly easy.

Our most recent shoot was at Narita airport. While the director did some paperwork, I grabbed the camera and went outside to try to film planes landing. She came out to see what I was up to and I chased her around the observation deck. She snapped this picture as she tried to hide.

I think the "making of" clips might be more fun than the actual film.

Lip synching

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This week I've been reworking Hello Tokyo for a presentation that I'm giving later this month at Tokyo Here and Now, the twice-a-year orientation program hosted by the Tokyo American Club. It was high time for a Hello Tokyo update as a few things have changed since the original version.

And now that I've got a few more years of Final Cut Pro experience under my belt (Hello Tokyo was my first project after I switched from Premiere to FCP) , I can fix some of the problems that thwarted me. But one thing I can't do is reshoot the footage. So I decided to re-record sections of the audio in the studio and see if I can't improve it that way.

Have you ever tried to lip synch to yourself? It's harder than it looks. Not only it is a challenge to watch your lips move and say the same thing again, but after you're recorded the dialogue in the studio, you lose all the background sounds. No more noisy traffic, wind, or restaurant plate-clattering. The result sounds a little thin.

So I have to do some foley work to put back the sounds I got rid of and to make the voice fit into its setting. At least this time, I can control the background noises and make them quieter than in the original shot.

So that you can see and hear what I mean about synching and foley, here is a short clip showing three uncompleted versions of the same segment of Hello Tokyo.

playicon.gif ADR & Foley Example 2.7 MB 25" MP4

Carrot Flowers and Starred Shiitake

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recipe thursdayIn preparation for next week's recipe--a Japanese winter stew--here's a video to show you how to do some of the decorative cuts that make nabe as lovely to look at as it is delicious to eat.

playicon.gif Simple Japanese Decorative Cutting 3.7 MB 1'41" MP4

Evanston Lakeshore

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A slideshow with audio captured on a brief visit to the shore of Lake Michigan in Evanston, IL.

playicon.gif Evanston Lakeshore 2.5 MB 24" MP4

Population facts

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I'm working on a film project now that represents the entire world's population - 1 pixel per person - in just under 10 and a half minutes.

To fill the time and make the pixels more interesting, I'm creating brief mini-features of facts on world population, growth, development, density and other things. It's not as dull as it sounds...

Here's a sample from the film. It compares ten seconds of the film (about 103 million people) to various groups. I was surprised at the facts I dug up. Did you know there are more AIDS orphans than there are Mexican citizens? That the number of coffee drinkers in America is equal to the number of people with Herpes worldwide?

Have a look for yourself. This is a draft version--the narration has a glaring error and will be re-recorded later. And the footage is still under review. Comments and suggestions welcome, but please be kind.

playicon.gif Ten Second Facts 7.5 MB 1'10" MP4

Tokyo Snow

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Pretty flakes all morning long. It's such a rare event that I ran around filming it and set it to music. The snow is still falling--if it keeps this up we may see a centimeter or two on the ground by nighttime. I'll have to go out to shoot snow at night.


playicon.gif Tokyo Snow - small 711 K 0'49" MP4

playicon.gif Tokyo Snow - medium 1.7 MB 0'49" MP4

playicon.gif Tokyo Snow - large 4.8 MB 0'49" MP4

Anatomy of a slashdotting

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Last week's Gingerbread CPU post was noticed by popgadget, then engadget then Boing Boing. It's funny how these things get passed around. I even made the Daypop Top 40:

daypop.jpg

Then it got translated by a number of non-English website in Japan, Iceland, Hungary and Sweden. The number of visits increased to more than 5 times my usual daily rate. I was having a lot of fun looking at my stats, though a bit disappointed that I wasn't being recognized for something I'd done myself. Such is the trouble with reporting on things.

By Day 3, [H]ard|OCP and Blue's News picked it up and traffic went up further. I was seeing more than 10 times my usual traffic.

On December 23rd, five days into this increase in popularity, Slashdot noticed what was going on. Tod & I had just returned from stocking up on cookie-making ingredients. While the butter was softening, I checked my mail to discover a comment from the blog: "Haha! You're getting Slashdotted!"

slashdot.jpg

Hahahah! Wow!

Oh, hell! This was going to be trouble. We host my website on a server here at home.

Rhythm Train

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play videoRhythm Train 0'18" (2.3 MB MP4)

I shot this froma Tokaido line train heading towards Tokyo. I love the syncopation of the windows, doors and travellers' heads going past. I attempted to score it in Soundtrack, but didn't get the effect that I wanted--creating music is yet another area for improvement.

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