Posted on 03. Aug, 2010
Victoria Taylor-Gore‘s art has been highlighted on planet5D Cinema – “Colored Dust” and we’re honored to show off her latest creation “The Drive” – and she’s given planet5D lots of exclusive behind the scenes information. The thing I love about Victoria’s work is that she’s combining multiple art forms and technologies to tell stories.
Not only does she create beautiful pastel artworks, but now she’s combining that with movement both with the camera (a Canon EOS 7D (reviews) of course) moving thru her images but also by incorporating moving objects with the art. People continue to amaze me with what they’re doing with these new HDSLR tools that give them so much freedom.
Before I hand it over to Vicky, let me just thank her for the effort she went thru to share all of this… she created the BTS video and stills just for our planet5D readers!
Over the past year I’ve developed a new passion for video. As a fine artist, it’s been a challenge to balance this new passion with an old love – my own artwork. So I decided to join my two passions by including my pastels in some videos – first by making a few art demonstration videos of my work. Then after seeing Primavera (lonely robot) by Metron on the planet5D blog, I was inspired to do The Drive (2010) using my own pastels as backgrounds with real objects filmed in front of them. I decided my black antique 1950′s style toy car that I had painted in many of my pastels before would be the perfect “star” of the new short film. I’ve done my Route 66 Series in pastel for years – the open road and Southwest landscape sprinkled with lonely motels rooms from the 1940′s – 60′s. The work from the Route 66 Series doesn’t involve a literal narrative, rather they evoke a mystery. They convey the feeling an event that just occurred or is just about to happen, and all that was left is the evidence…a suitcase, a single high heel shoe, an awaiting car outside. I rarely put people in my paintings – the inanimate objects in the paintings became the “stars” of the show. The Route 66 Series was originally inspired by Edward Hopper’s Western Motel artgallery.yale.edu/pages/collection/popups/pc_amerps/details22.html . I loved the Western Motel’s composition and the sense of loneliness and ambiguity.
I actually tried to plan out the shots and story for The Drive with detailed thumbnails, but most of them had to be adapted or abandoned to the creative process along the way. As I filmed the first scene I realized that my compositions would have to adjust to the strengths and weaknesses of my camera, lenses, and the gear that I have.
Choosing a black, highly reflective antique toy car that became a light magnet and mirror of everything in the room proved to be a major drawback. I had to improvise with lots of diffused colored lights and keep the light sources low and indirect. I had to live with a level of “noise” in the video, but decided to integrate it as part of the texture of the film. I tried to get the light to reflect the colors in the pastels back on the toy car so that it seemed more integrated in the shots.
As far as creating the movement of the toy car, most of it was me pushing and pulling the car back and forth in front of the pastels or moving the pastel background from side to side behind the stationary toy car. Many times my hand or fingers had to be cropped out of the shot. I shot the entire film at 1080p and edited the final video at 720p with a cinematic overlapping border so that I could play with the compositions of each scene and have room to hide my hand and fingers moving the car.
The most creative gear I used was using a Lazy Susan and a Kessler Crane Pocket Dolly to move the toy car. I covered the Lazy Susan with black velvet cloth and set the car on top of it and placed it against the pastel background. Then I just slowly moved the Lazy Susan as I filmed the car at close range with a macro lens. I also employed my Kessler Crane Pocket Dolly in an unusual way – I taped the toy car to the Pocket Dolly carriage and turned the crank handle so that the toy car glided by in front of my camera.
Scenes where the video of the car plays outside of the motel room window, door, and in the TV were done by taking a photograph of the pastel into Photoshop and cutting out the areas where I wanted the video of the car to show through. Then I took the photograph of the room into Premiere Pro CS4 and layered it on top of the video footage of the car. I added noise effects from Premiere Pro CS4 and Digieffects Aged Film effects to the photographs so that they would blend into the video footage behind them.
Some of the shots were created by playing with the perspective in the drawings themselves. I used a “bird’s eye view” perspective in one of the first shots in the video and was able to set the toy car on top of the pastel and shoot from above and at a slight angle. I took multiple shots from different angles and distances to get different perspectives and scale relationships between the car and the background as well as play with the depth of field.
There was some color and value correction done in Premiere Pro CS4. I added some lighting effects in post like the lightning (created with a sequence of photographs that were added to the video frame by frame). I also added some lighting effects in Premiere Pro (like adding a light to illuminate the lamps in the motel rooms). The black and white sequence was created by making the video black and white and then adding Digieffects Aged Film effects (what a great set of effects).
The best part of this project is that I came up with fresh ideas, new perspectives, and more interesting points of view in my pastels. I’m starting to paint like a director, which strengthens my compositions for my pastels and future videos. This all reminds me of two of my all time heroes – Alfred Hitchcock and Edward Hopper – and how their work related.
The lenses I used were a Tokina 16-50mm f2.8 and a Tokina 100mm f2.8 macro – both of which I love dearly. And of course, the whole video was shot with the love of my life…my Canon 7D. Thank goodness the 7D is so dust proof and was safe from all the pastel dust in my studio!
(Photo credit: snap from Victoria’s sketches)