Within less than a century, easy consumption and screen-based activities have replaced using the hand in a deliberate complex manner. For some people though, using the hand to make and fix stuff is the secret to a happy life. Being a tinkerer and DIY type of person, I understand that feeling. But what I do for a living is telling stories with my camera.
From Rocks to Radar
will be a collection of short documentaries. I have already made a number of short films as part of my research that were self-funded and some of them are more subject based. The documentaries I want to do now will focus on characters and letting the subject matter come naturally from the stories. I am partnering with a producer to help find proper funding and a suitable platform.
The name for the series From Rocks to Radar
is based on the two short documentaries that will bookend this collection. The first one will likely be shot at the Paleolithic Technology Laboratory
which studies toolmaking in order to understand the evolutionary history of the human mind and brain. Professor Dietrich Stout will demonstrate for us early tool making. We will see through his experiments that during the period of almost a million years from when man made sharpened stone flakes to making more sophisticated rough hand axes brain size also increased.
The last documentary of the collection will be filmed in a Google research lab. Project Soli
has been experimenting using radar to capture subtle movement of fingers and hands to control devices. The short film that you can watch on their website is very informative. But it is a good example of the type of film I don't want to do. I would prefer to focus on the Project Soli founder Ivan Poupyrev. He has an obvious passion for the idea behind the project. He knows that the human hand is powerful and he will show us how they learned to make use of that power in the virtual world.
Some NOTES about aesthetics and production techniques
The subject matter of hands inherently has very rich visual potential. My style will be to have the visuals tell the story as much as possible. Interviews will be more like conversations and my questions will sometimes be heard off-camera. I like to use interviews predominantly as voice-overs so content can be tightly edited. I will do the narration although that will be minimal. Information that is necessary to convey, but has not been covered during the interviews, will be shared through narration or title cards. There won't be outside experts speaking, only people involved in the activity.
A 4K camera will be used for interviews and demonstrations, Being able to crop the image in post-production gives more choices in the editing. This also gives me more freedom in my role as a director/cameraman.
Virtually all the music used for the sound track will involve hands and the performances will briefly be seen on screen.
In Touching the WORLD
, the short film shown below I have employed some of the techniques I've mentioned above. You can see the advantage of using a 4K camera with the children. They were less inhibited since I could leave the camera unmanned. You can also see how I used music performed with hands to enhance the production. I also have my subject speaking a lot in voice-over which was very tightly edited.
What has been done so far . . .
Since starting this project I have done seven short documentaries. Here is the list organized from newest to oldest, If you click the film's name you will be sent to a blog post that has the embedded video along with a write-up about the featured event or activity.
Touching the WORLD
is the story of children in a Montessori pre-school. They show how using their hands by working with Montessori designed materials stimulates learning and development.
Tammy the Tumour
is about healing after having a cranial tumour removed. It's about what playing the piano does to the brain.
OMMF 2014 - Four years and growing
is a short documentary done on the Ottawa's Mini-Maker Faire.
FAIRE for the very first time!
was not my first time visiting a Maker Faire but it was for these participants. This took place in Montreal in June 2014.
Maker Junior - Inspiring the next generation
is exactly what this Ottawa-based organization wants to do. Its founder explains to me the why and how. Filmed at MMMF 2014.
The Need to MAKE!
seemed to be quite strong with the people I met at Montreal's first Mini-Maker Faire in September 2012.
Skilled for LIFE
is a story that shows a skilled trade is more than just a job. This was filmed in 2011 at a Skills Canada National Competition in Québec City.