This past week truly was a nightmare, but having a stop-motion project outside of my daily job made it all bearable. I feel like it's helped me to recognize that I'm not going to be stuck at a terrible job for much longer. Honestly, this animation project was the most fun I've had in years. Additionally, it's my first non-educational and non-personal related animation that I have made, and it helped me to realize that stop-motion is indeed something that is commercially viable even in today's tech-filled world.
Despite spending time and money on the old truck, I was unable to transition into being comfortable behind the wheel – literally. The last two months of driving, I experienced so much pain in my accelerator foot that I went to the doctor and he confirmed that I had tendonitis that was pressing against a nerve in my foot. I told him I was planning on selling the truck because of how bad the pain was, and he actually agreed. In short, I shouldn't be driving a car without cruise control.Read More
I imagined using an Eye-Fi for previewing work on the computer screen a couple years ago after reading about the Wi-Fi cards on a photo blog. The technology sounded promising, and I recently suggested to a fellow photographer that we might be able to utilize the technology at TEDxGrandRapids this year.
He ordered it and I gave it a shot. My results were less than spectacular... I can't really describe to you how much I dislike the product in written form, so let me show you just what I mean:
Cloudy days and bitter-cold nights plagued the city of Grand Rapids for weeks. As Monsieur Grenouille left the library, the clouds gave way to the sun and light filled the streets. As he stood by the steps, he raised his frigid, little arms to the sky and soaked it all in with pure bliss.
My heart breaks to tell you moments after I took this photo, Monsieur Grenouille fell head-first to the pavement below. This is the only photo we have of him...
I had been mulling over making a spoof of "Son of Man" ever since I saw it in the hall outside of my History of Art class at GRCC. It's one of those things that I couldn't really come up with the right person mixed with the right expression.
If there's one thing that I want to do better this year it's sculptures of actual people. My dad said he looks like Mr. Rogers, and I guess he does in some way. Rowan Atkinson just has one of those really distinguishable faces. While this guy has a distinct face, it's not really Mr. Bean.
I'm still not 100% happy with it, but it was a fun project that caused me to try something really different. Maybe I'll try again in January of 2016 to see how far I've come.
Here's some of the behind the scene shots
Upon stepping out of the rocket, Commander Chimp found himself surrounded by only sand and rocks. Still, he couldn’t help himself from drawing out his blaster at the sight of any humanoid shadow or the slightest sound of shifting sand in the wind.
After exploring for weeks without finding anything, he couldn’t believe that he wasted the majority of his life traveling in an uncomfortably small tin can of a rocket only to land on an unremarkably boring planet.Read More
While Alfalfa was scarfing down a pile of lettuce, his owner returned with a carrot in hand. He quickly pushed the lettuce behind him as the cage door opened. Although Jonathan had never taken away his lettuce the past two or three hundred times, Alfalfa saw him as a thief eyeing his lettuce.
"You're the person who steals my bedding along with my tasty poopers every two days! There's no way I'm letting you near my food!" Alfalfa squeaked.
Jonathan tried not to take it personally...
After the bad experiences that I've had dealing with moped repairs, I've developed an understandable distrust of mechanics. They have over-tightened my brakes, overfilled the oil, overcharged me, and always talked to me like I was some kind of sap. Perhaps that's why I have been so impressed with my last two repairs on my new mode of transportation, my [rusty] 2001 S10.
Last week, my engine light went off and I swung by for a free diagnostic at the local Monro Muffler. They said the secondary air injection pump had died on my S10, and it was going to cost $420 to replace (I wish I saved the invoice to show you). I said, "What's that going to do if I run with it, cut down on my gas mileage?" "Pretty much" was his response, and he said I could run it indefinitely with the problem. My truck only dropped to 20 miles per gallon, and seeing as I only drive about 80 miles per week, it wasn't really worth repairing.
Later in the week, the engine didn't seem just right, so I made a call to Frank, a retired mechanic in Byron Center who is the relative of a church friend. Frank and his son Sam replaced the clutch a little while back for a few hundred dollars less than the local brick and mortar shops were charging, so I returned to them for the repair.
While the diagnostic machine confirmed that the the pump was the current problem, Sam looked from the top and the bottom of the truck to see where all the pipes and wires were going and the current condition. To the Monro mechanics, the signal that the air pump was out was enough to replace it completely.
Sam gave me a call a short while after I had left to let me know the air pump was perfectly fine – rather the wire connected to the electric pump was broken due to corrosion.
He replaced the wire and cleaned off the corrosion. The simple fix worked perfectly. As Frank has said in the past, "I don't replace anything that doesn't need fixing." I could have had Monro replace the pump and pay $420, but instead I wound up paying $55 for the parts and labor.
I owe Frank and Sam a big thanks for saving me over $600 on the last two repairs made to my truck. Unless my engine is about to explode while out of town, I refuse to go to a different mechanic. It feels good knowing that I can go to a mechanic that I can trust, and talks to me like a human being.
If you need to have something fixed on your ride, I'll give you their number!
All I can say is I enjoyed documenting ArtPrize more than being there as an artist. I had no intention of documenting SiTE:LAB when I signed up for ArtPrize this year, so perhaps I neglected my exhibit and lost out on some of the fun. Whatever fun I missed out on at my own exhibition, I made up for at SiTE:LAB.
Next year, I'm either going to have a sculpture installation or stay out of it. I'm sort of tired of doing the same old same old. I'm proud to announce I will be graduating from college this winter, so I hope to work really hard to make something terrific for the coming ArtPrize.
Evidently, I made the cover of the Grand Rapids Gallery Guide this year. Last semester, all the students in Professor Filippo Tagliati's class submitted a cover for the Gallery Guide. The selection was narrowed down to Julia Kessler's and my work.
I was a bit disappointed when I learned that the association chose my least favorite of the three photos I submitted. To be completely honest, it was a filler photo for the assignment. In addition to choosing my least favorite, they weren't 100% onboard with the either of our designs, so we both were paid to go out and create similar works.
Once I finished, I waited and waited to hear whose work they had chosen. I kept asking Filippo if he had hear the final results, but to my dismay, months later they still hadn't announced it.
This past week, I bumped into Filippo in the Paul Collins Art Gallery, and he told me I had made it on the cover – after I had completely forgotten about it altogether. It was a pleasant surprise to end my school week.
The photograph is a composite of the Grand Rapids Art Museum, Kendall Art Gallery, the Grand River, and an inverted mask of myself from a photo.
In years past ArtPrize has been nothing but a source of anxiety for myself. Last year, I didn't even attend my venue as I was treated rather poorly by the venue coordinator. If it wasn't for being the photo editor of The Collegiate this year, I wouldn't have gone out at all, but having a mission and a camera in hand makes it enjoyable.
Though I am critical of ArtPrize because of the sheer size of it, I was blown away that my work was made a Curator Pick by Joel Zwart on ArtPrize.org. You hear me right, I'm now "Critically Acclaimed Artist, Jonathan D. Lopez" (this is now a meme at the office...). I'm truly honored to be recognized at all among the 1,500 entries.
Evidently, I made it on a second curated list by Nathan Kelmer as well!
This Friday, I found myself photographing for five articles after waking up for work at 4 in the morning. I photographed for GrandCon, a retirement (TBA), GrandLAN, the Annual Sugar Pull, and the Faculty Recital. It was nothing short of a miracle that things went so smoothly.
To top it all off, Jordan and I got our photographs put up for ArtPrize at Morton House for SiTE:LAB.
I had the opportunity to watch Chef Gilles Renusson and his team do a trial run of a sugar pull this past Friday. There were so many things that went awry, but honestly, it made the story much more interesting.
Get assignment. Take the photos. Process them. Publish them. Write cutlines. Send off to editors. Archive files.
The past couple months have been a test of my skill and organization. In addition to working at the GRCC Collegiate as the photo editor, I have been working with SiTE:LAB project at Morton House. Both jobs require me to have lightening fast turn around, publishing, and archiving.
I cannot comprehend how any professional photographer (or creative for that matter) could survive without a rock solid system. Jonathon Russell, Grand Rapids photo legend and former professor at GRCC, always reminded us how important it is to have a system. Have a system for organization and a standard for how you present your work.
I could go on a rant about this, but I'll refrain from doing that. I cannot show you documentary photographs from Morton House until after ArtPrize. However, you can see my photographs in various articles – click here.
If you are thinking about getting into photography and are unorganized, you might be able to get through college without a system. Here's mine if you're looking for a start:
Jon's Archiving Method
Year.Month.Day – Title of event
ex., 2014.9.6 – Grand Rapids Balloon Festival
Why is it so important to have the title like that? When cataloguing, it makes it easier to sort through, especially if you export the folder and are moving it about in Finder (Windows Explorer for PCs). All you have to do is "Sort by Name" and it will place your folders in chronological order.
Individual File Naming
Shortened event name 001
Some websites are finicky about file names containing spaces (e.g., Wordpress). Using underscores (or dashes) makes it fairly easy to read in your Finder while preventing this problem.
I use "Batch Rename" in Adobe Bridge to change file names. Other programs like Google Picasa only allow you to rename files while exporting photos which can be a bummer if you have to find a RAW files for a JPEG.
Yeah, tagging. It's a living hell to tag photos AFTER you export them, because then you don't have tags on the RAW files. At the very least, tag your select shots. Don't tag the photos on your computer up the wazoo or else it will be a lamented chore that you never do. Make it worth while. I generally tag people and specific locations (in addition to cities if cities are relevant). As you might be photographing things completely different from me, you'll have to come up with useful tags. Create a core set of tags in Bridge, Picasa, or whatever program you use and use it to batch add tags.
The longer you use tags, the more cluttered tag banks can become. Make sure to keep your core tags separate from one time use tags. Use tag folders as much as possible.
When collaborating, it can become incredibly difficult to differentiate who shot what from a glance when you are dumping large quantities of files to a common place before anyone even edits (this happens at events). Just about any SLR and most cameras above $200 will let you change the file naming. I have my D800 save files automatically to _JDL0000. Using your initials can make it easy to spot your photos out of a group, especially when all the photos might be arranged by date and time, mixing shots from different photographers.
Even if you rarely shoot with other photographers, it's a wise idea to make your filename different than factory defaults.
There's no better feeling than coming up with something that looks expensive, but costs pennies. Check out my short tutorial on how to create color lighting effects:
I'm sure that plenty of people are wondering how I used FCPX for the latest claymation. This is a quick run-through of my workflow.
It’s been a while since I invited people to add me on LinkedIn. I’m sure plenty of you roll your eyes at LinkedIn, but I’ve come across some really phenomenal artists on it.
Feel free to add me and ask questions. That being said, ALWAYS feel free to ask me questions on any social media site.
For the past two months, I've spent just about every day working on the claymation for the Collegiate. Now that it is all finished, I can't help but feel accomplished that I animated something that took longer than a day. Seriously, nothing else that I have animated (and published) has taken me more than a few hours. The years of doing only stills has spoiled me as I had a finished product in sometimes as little as eight hours.
We hope to get this animation some attention during the first week of school. Every time that you make something, it's a gamble. There is always the possibility that what you have worked on isn't received well, or that simply, you didn't publicize it at the right time. When I was in-tune with Tumblr, I had a better understanding of when things would get traction. Although I highly despise Tumblr for the massive amount of porn, it's still a valuable tool that I try to remember to post to whenever I finish a clay project (especially since I have over 100,000 followers).
Many YouTubers ask me how to make armatures. What they don't realize is how difficult it is to make even the most simple armatures. I hope that this video gives you an appreciation for stop-motion animators who take the time to make characters with armatures seeing as mine is very crude in comparison.