a TigerRAWk Film

Friday, January 22, 2021

Shriven - A Promotional Clip


Shriven is a new project of the goth / death rock variety featuring members of Leper (Skot Shaw and Colleen Davick) and Anti-World System (Michael Perlmutter.

While new music isn't quite available to the public, Skot messaged me about creating a short promotional clip. The idea presented was having a coffin open with the look of a horror movie.

I sought out some free domain or stock footage but all the coffins I came across seemed too nice and clean. As I thought about how to make this work, I looked at a small coffin we had sitting on the bookshelf and it seemed as though it had the design and the less polished appearance I felt would work with the horror movie concept.

I had acquired this coffin from a Kickstarter project by "Steve Taylor And The Danielson Foil" and inside the coffin were pictures of each band member as well as a bunch of super balls and some other odd things. At first, I completely emptied out the coffin. It felt too empty though. I decided to add a picture and decided to go with the one of Steve Taylor. The pose was pretty perfect I thought. I ended up putting the super balls back in to lift the picture a bit so it wasn't quite so flat looking.

While I intended to keep the focus somewhat soft, which I did achieve on what would be the primary clip I used, one of the clips had pretty clear focus. I hoped the soft focus also would obscure the image enough for anyone who might recognize the coffin or who is inside.

I would be adding, the bad film, bad tv, vignette, and old black and white effects and so I figured it would be enough to obscure who was in the coffin. The coffin perk from the Kickstarter was a DIY craft so I don't figure there should be any real issue with regards to copyrights should Steve Taylor or any of the other artists in the band happen to see this clip.

I didn't want to open the coffin with my hand...that would reveal that it was not a real coffin as well as how small it was. I decided to tie a thread around the latch and pull it open. I did three different takes of this. I wanted to have a shot of when it fully opened that showed the entirety of the open coffin. At the end I made it slam shut as well using the thread. The coffin sort of jumps at that point. I tried to make it look like something inside was struggling while pushing its way out. I think I did achieve that. The thread I used was fairly thin, black thread. While it is mostly hidden, I can see it in the end result though I had hoped the effects would make it essentially invisible. Oh well.

After capturing the three takes, I began to work on the editing. I created two title files of the band name, "Shriven" and an announcement of "coming soon..."

The audio clip I was given was 25 seconds long. The video clip I chose to be my primary clip was set in place and I played the audio to get a feel for where I might want to position it with the coffin opening. As I got that figured out, I decided to layer from the other clips over the primary then adjust the opacity to see through it. I cut a bit from each then faded them out to be the primary clip a few seconds before the coffin opening. After the initial jerking motion to simulate the struggle of opening it from the inside, I added the band name text with its "ghostly" effect to appear as the door is opened. I moved the closing of the coffin to coincide with the end of the audio clip and set the "coming soon..." text to also coincide with the end of the clip.

At the beginning and end, I added the film sprocket stock footage for additional old horror movies aesthetic and with everything seemingly set in place, I began to add the effects. I used gradient colorize for the black and white appearance. Next I added the "bad tv" spaced out randomly through the clips also randomly adjusting the settings to make a different appearance for each use of the effect. I layered the effect usage as well making different setting adjustments at different levels. I added the "vignette" effect to give additional "blur" around the edges. When I added the "bad film" effect, I decided adjust the setting of the effect and semi-randomly switch it up as the clip goes along. Overall, that effect ends up being fairly subtle comparatively, especially once the file is compressed for YouTube or other online streaming.

In the end, I captured what was asked for. I showed it to Skot first and while he is pleased with the result, he had a slightly different idea in mind. I also shared with Michael who also expressed he was pleased with it.

So there is now a small taste of what is to come from Shriven.

Special thanks to Steve Taylor and the Danielson Foil for their Kickstarter perk which came in handy as a prop!

Filmed at home in Southside Chicago using a Canon Rebel T6. Edited using Final Cut Pro on a Mac Mini. Filmed and edited by Joel A. Swanson.

Friday, November 20, 2020

"Il Modo Che Tutto Si Svela (The Way It All Unfolds)" by Leper (Music Video)


This music video is for the song "Il Modo Che Tutto Si Svela (The Way It All Unfolds)" by Leper from the album "Beautiful Gray Day" released on September 11th, 2012 through Grrr Records.

The concept for this video came from a discussion a few years ago with Skot Shaw. We both work at Cornerstone Community Outreach and there was some sort of party going on this particular day. While eating and fellowshipping together, Skot brought up the idea of making a music video for "Il Modo Che Tutto Si Svela (The Way It All Unfolds)" using guests of the shelter and showing service to the least of these. I think that could have been a very good music video. At that time, I had one live clip of the song being performed by Leper and I figured that I could use that footage in the video. I realized though, we would need to have shelter guests sign releases if we were going to film them. I brought this up to Skot at the time. I also brought up an idea of having him perform the song with a group of shelter guests around him. I thought that might add to the concept.

Part of the purpose of creating this music video would be to bring awareness to the need for Cornerstone Community Outreach and the services it provides the least of these. It was also intended to bring awareness that Cornerstone Community Outreach also has needs. Needs for support to help cover the costs of the services provided. Needs for volunteer help (at least when there's not a COVID19 pandemic going on).

We did not discuss the idea all that much after this. Every now and then it would be brought up but nothing came of it. I was able to capture another performance the song some time after this during a fundraiser for Chicago Tiny Houses.

Like with "Spezza Spezza Spezza (Chop Chop Chop)," when we discussed making music videos again recently, I asked Skot about doing something with "Il Modo Che Tutto Si Svela (The Way It All Unfolds)." Skot had seemed to have somewhat moved on from this idea...not that he didn't care about it but was wanting to get some things out for the more recent music released by Leper.

After I finished  the music video for "Spezza Spezza Spezza (Chop Chop Chop)" I decided to take a break from the music video projects that are now on my plate so that I could finish editing the footage from a little trip we took over Labor Day. As I finished that project off, I decided to look at some footage I had sitting around so I could see what I could do to make something for "Il Modo Che Tutto Si Svela (The Way It All Unfolds)" before getting back into the other few projects Skot and I had discussed and started for other Leper videos.

I watched through the two live clips to see what, if anything, could be used. After cutting that which I definitely did not feel was usable, I worked on syncing up the live performance to the studio performance. This proved to be a bit more difficult than I had anticipated as the timing of the performances was different from the studio version. With Skot's veil, it's a bit more difficult to sync his lips to the lyrics but I think I was able to get fairly close. The clips with Jennifer Mercy singing were helpful in that regard. I also tried to sync the guitar playing to the music as best as I could as well. All of this required quite a bit of cutting. I did a little bit of re-arranging of pieces where either lyrics were not being sung or it wasn't so clear that it was obviously wrong. I had enough live footage to fill the entire studio track. Once I got this all set mostly in place, I began to try to balance the use of the clips so I wasn't relying too heavily on one over the other. While I initially had quite a few hard cuts, I smoothed most of them with transitions. I did even more of this later in the process after layering some of the other footage on top. While still working on the performance parts, I decided to some layering of clips making them somewhat transparent instead of cutting from one or the other. I watched through a few times and made a few more adjustments but when I was mostly satisfied, I added in more of the other footage. That other footage was intended to show "the least of these" and service to those in need.

I went through some previous clips I had used sparingly or didn't use at all. Most of these were filmed when I began thinking of making a music video for October Bird of Death for the song "Goons" but also had thoughts of using them for this song when it was originally discussed. I mostly used footage of the tent city under Wilson Viaduct that I had not used before other than maybe one or two short clips. I did re-use some footage of a Westboro protest but used less than I had in "Goons." It felt fitting to some of the lyrics of the songs. I used some recent footage from the CrossTour CR900 as I drove into work a few different times, capturing folks holding signs at the end of Wilson Avenue near the ramp coming off Lake Shore Drive. I also used some footage that captured folks waiting in line for the food pantry that Cornerstone Community Outreach also runs to serve the least of these in the neighborhood. Another clip captured a man on Damen Avenue on the ramp from I-55.

I took these clips and alternated them throughout the video, trying to fit them where it seemed most appropriate with the lyrics. I layered these clips over the performances of Leper playing the song live. The final clip I captured was an art piece Skot created on one of the doors of Cornerstone Community Outreach of a celtic knot with gaelic words written around the celtic knot. I think this is probably the most I have used the layering effect on one project ha!

I added a "gradient colorize" effect (without colorizing it) to get the black and white look Skot and I prefer (extreme black and white without much if any grayscale). I also added the "bad film" effect and randomly increased and decreased levels of distortion in this effect so none of the clips had exactly the same look in regards to this distortion.

I added just a little bit of "bad TV" effect at the very beginning and very end. I didn't want to add a lot of the chaotic appearance that I had done with "Spezza Spezza Spezza (Chop Chop Chop)" but I thought it looked good to fit at the beginning and very end along with the sprocket holes.

I created the title and other text screens on Motion 4. I decided to use the usual font style I do on most of my personal videos instead of the old classic looking font. I used black lettering, removing the outline, and tried to fit the words into a white area of the screen. I chose the Leper logo from the "Beautiful Gray Day" album cover which was black on a white background. While I'd prefer the background to be transparent, I do the best I can with what I got to work with. I found a Grrr Records logo on transparent background that I added to this project. The other text screens I used white lettering with black outline. I wrote a piece about Cornerstone Community Outreach with a link for those who may be interested in supporting the work of the shelter. I also added credit for my work at the end along with my usual credit clip I have used since 2011.

The video does sort of repeat similar looking clips a bit. I realize that and wish I had a few more different clips that I could have used instead. It was a pretty simple video to create. It really only took me a few hours over two evenings to create it. I think the general idea was presented. It shows "the least of these" and while there isn't any actual service shown, it does show folks in line to receive the services offered through Cornerstone Community Outreach's food pantry. I think this really was the best that I could do without having to get the releases of information from shelter guests...which we would have needed to attain the full concept that was originally discussed.

I am happy with this result. I also hoped to get it done before the holidays which is usually a "giving season." I don't know the impact of this video...I don't know for certain but I can assume this year is going to be more difficult for most than any before. Hopefully this video can bring about something good.

For more information on Cornerstone Community Outreach and the services this organization provides for folks experiencing homelessness and others who may need assistance, and/or if you would like to support the efforts to serve the least of these through this organization, please visit http://www.ccolife.org/.

Footage was filmed using an iPhone 6, Canon Rebel T6, and CrossTour CR900 in Chicago, Illinois between 2015 and 2020. Video arranged and edited using Final Cut Pro on a Mac Mini. Titles and other text created using Motion 4 on a Macbook in November 2020. Filmed and edited by Joel A. Swanson.

A Shared Life: An Apocalypse Trip to Michigan's Upper Peninsula (09.05.2020 - 09.09.2020)


The COVID-19 pandemic continued through the summer causing most things we would usually do to be canceled. Audiofeed was one of the casualties. It was originally rescheduled until Labor Day weekend then ultimately canceled as conditions failed to improve enough to safely allow gatherings of any substantial size. Without the music festival (or any other similar events taking place) and without our vacation to Russia that we had planned, there was a sense of restlessness. I had made a short weekend trip to Pennsylvania to take care of some documentation work but Elphie didn't come with me and hadn't had a chance to really leave the house other than appointments and groceries since the beginning of the pandemic. We did go out and about some in Chicago on our anniversary but it seemed she needed to just go somewhere. This apocalypse was taking its toll on her. We had other travel plans for the Labor Day weekend before the start of this year but we decided to shelve those as well. Those plans would have brought us back to the Northeast to hit a few states Elphie may have missed in her quest to go to all fifty states. So, with all else failed and/or shelved for an uncertain future, we decided to plan a short vacation. The border between the USA and Canada was closed to "nonessential" travel and there were also travel restrictions to certain states put in place by the city of Chicago which limited our options and we settled on essentially circling Lake Michigan by going into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. As has become tradition for our travels, we searched Atlas Obscura, making a list of things that would interest us and Elphie planned a route. I added a couple other ideas as well that either were directly on the route or wouldn't put us too far out of the way and I think we figured out a decent trip between us. It was not so busy that it wore us out but we weren't bored either. We decided that we would stay in Saint Ignace, Michigan so I booked a hotel through booking.com that fit our budget and had amenities that we would like. We chose America's Best Value Inn. We decided on staying in Saint Ignace so that we'd only pay the toll for crossing the Mackinac Bridge one time.


Before I got started on much of any other editing, I used Motion 4 on my MacBook to once again create the title sequence as well as animated maps that I put throughout the project as we traveled from one spot to the next. I chose the Papyrus font because I thought it had a sort of "sandy" look to it along with something of a decayed appearance as well. It felt fitting to me as we were along the lakeside throughout the trip and the apocalyptic state of things during this year of a pandemic that shows no sign of relenting any time soon. Though in hindsight I think I would have rather done something different with the lead ups, I decided to go with still shots from the trip sitting on top of each other like photos tossed on a table. I used the zoom lead in sort of out of laziness and now I wish I had some something different to make it look like the photos were tossed into a pile instead. I would have liked to have the pictures synced up to their locations better but my attempts didn't seem to quite work. Instead of spending a lot of time to make adjustments, I just left it how you see it and moved on to work on the actual footage. I tried to have the state flags change with the crossing of state lines as well. Overall, I feel I could have done this entire introduction/title a whole lot better than this. But there are things I do like. I like how the lettering looks and the effect I used to transition the titles in give a bit of a 3D feel to it. I also like how the photos do look stacked. I think adding a border to each photo would help the aesthetic a bit and that might be something I will consider for future projects as I feel it might be the biggest thing lacking in accomplishing the idea I have had with these titles. Again, I do wish I had chosen a different method of leading this photos in but chalk it up to laziness on my part.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOitsqYL-KU

We left on Saturday September 5th, around noon and headed into Indiana. This was the 174th day of the apocalypse. We stopped to get groceries, gas, and had lunch before heading into Michigan. I had nearly run the car out of gas. We stopped at the first gas station off the exit to get a little bit of gas to hopefully get us to my preferred gas station (due to rewards), Speedway. And we did make it to Speedway, though it felt like a close call. I got some Mountain Dew for the trip as we filled the car then we stopped at Taco Bell for lunch before going to Meijer to get some groceries for the trip. All of this took a lot longer than we anticipated and probably put us a few hours behind our plan but ultimately, I don't think it adversely affected the trip too much.

Once we got going and crossed into Michigan, our first stop ended up being in Benton Harbor, Michigan. It was the site of a cult known as "House of David." The community had a baseball team, amusement park, zoo, and restaurants besides the mansion where leadership lived and the modest, small homes intended for the rest of the community. There was some scandal, of course, involved with this community but seems things certainly could have been worse. We were able to see the mansion, the home where Mary Purnell lived and ran the restructured community after a change in leadership occurred due to the scandal involving her husband and the original community. We also saw Mary's restaurant, the various small buildings that appeared to be for housing members, an empty field that was once the baseball field, and I think we saw the old auditorium that may now be a museum. We didn't explore too much, we stayed on the roads and we likely missed viewing more of what remained of this community by not walking around but we did see quite a bit.

We headed to South Haven, Michigan next to taste Blue Moon Ice Cream at Sherman's Dairy Bar. I found it to be pretty underwhelming. At first I didn't really taste anything at all. Then it began to taste a bit like the milk leftover in the bowl after eating Fruity Pebbles. There was a slight hint of a fruity type flavor but mostly just the flavor of milk. We ended up waiting in line for quite a bit for this ice cream. It stained our mouths blue as well.

We continued on our way to Saugatuck, Michigan so we could see a park restroom painted like a Seurat piece. While there, we also saw the Saugatuck Chain Ferry which is one of the last of its kind. It uses a chain to cross the river from one side to the other to ferry folks across. I think we had just missed its last run for the day by a few minutes. We also saw a black squirrel as we headed back to our car. It was a busy downtown area, probably due to the nice weather. A lot of people were in the park.

The next part of our trip was the longest stretch of driving for the day. We passed through Grand Rapids, Michigan. I pulled off the highway to attempt to go to an Arby's for Elphie to get some dinner but the directions we were given did not turn up an Arby's. Thankfully it wasn't far off from our destination, a small chapel called the Rimwood Chapel in Hersey, Michigan. We were able to arrive there before dark and see this little chapel. Unfortunately, the possibly new property owner may have decided to no longer keep it as a chapel. The cross that had been on top in pictures we had seen was now missing and there was a sign that read "Parker's Place" on the from of the tiny building...but otherwise, it was indeed the same building. I assume it was meant for kids to play in. We didn't hang around too much...we didn't want any trouble for snooping.

We drove another relatively long stretch to Indian River, Michigan. As the sun set, we stopped for Elphie to get some dinner at a McDonald's. As we drove along a lake, we were able to see some fireworks going off in the distance. Elphie was able to capture some of it with the camera. We passed a 45th Parallel sign along the highway. We stopped again for fuel and passed signs for Cheboygan, Michigan. I was reminded of John Candy, as Gus Polinski, in Home Alone speaking of how his band, the Kenosha Kickers, were "very big in Sheboygan." I thought it was in Wisconsin though. I'd realize later that Sheboygan is in Wisconsin and this was Cheboygan. I suppose the band could have been big in both cities. They were the polka kings of the midwest, afterall. We arrived in Indian River a short time later to see The Cross In The Woods Shrine. This was claimed to be the largest crucifix in the world. It seemed there was a bit more to see in the area but we were feeling a bit pressed for time. I walked up to the cross then down behind it. There were signs for the stations of the cross meaning it was likely a walk that goes with it stretched around us. I found a statue of Saint Francis then we decided to get driving again so we could get to the hotel before midnight. We did accomplish this by about a half hour!

We drove through Mackinaw City, Michigan then onto the Mackinac Bridge and paid a toll to enter the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. As we drove through Saint Ignace, Michigan to find our hotel, we noticed most of all the hotels were full with "no vacancy" signs. We arrived at our hotel and it was packed as well with a lot of motorcycles and old timey cars. We got checked in at America's Best Value Inn and found our room. I moved the car closer to the room. We picked a room with a hot tub because, why not? It was a different type of tub than we had previously encountered. It was an elongated heart shape with jets that shoot up from below. It was also quite noisy. We came to realize we had no microwave as well so we had to go to the lobby to heat our food. We didn't utilize it but there was an indoor pool as well. Once we got settled in, I decided to try to get a shot of the moon with my camera. I got out my longer, more powerful lens and I was able to get a couple decent shots!

On Sunday September 6th, apocalypse day 175, we drove to a park on the north edge of Lake Michigan. I came up with a fun little plan to try to drink out of each of the Great Lakes because we now had a Life Straw! Up until this trip, I had touched the water of all the Great Lakes except Huron so I thought it was be interesting to be able to say I have had a drink from the waters of each lake! I got down to the water's edge and put the straw in the water and tried to suck up some water. It didn't work out as well as I had hoped. I didn't really read the directions either. I eventually was able to get enough water to have a decent swallow from the straw. I learned it didn't quite work like a conventional straw. It was more that one had to tip the straw toward your mouth and drink it like more like a sippy cup. I captured a few shots of the Mackinac Bridge from here as well as some other lake shots.

We drove up to Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan. We figured that even though we would not be permitted to cross the border, we'd get as close to Canada as we could. We also found that there was a Tower of History in Sault Sainte Marie and headed to see that. It was next to a church and apparently at one time property of the church but now serves as a sort of history museum for the city. There was an admission cost so we did not go up into the tower. We drove alongside of the Soo Locks and through the touristy downtown area then went over to a bay of Lake Superior to use the Life Straw to get a drink of water from that lake. I got a shot of the Sault Sainte Marie International Bridge and Canada while we were there as well. After getting this drink, which proved more difficult that the first time in Lake Michigan, we headed to finally get Arby's for Elphie then we headed to Kitch-iti-kipi...a natural spring. As we drove we experienced some early leaves changing and then some stormy weather. I captured a couple lightning bolts really but only one really showed up well on the camera.

We arrived before dark at Kitch-iti-kipi. It is a natural spring that has been preserved in a state park. There is a chain ferry that crosses back and forth operated by a wheel. We did not end up riding the ferry due to a large group of people. One is not permitted in the waters either. It had an eerie appearance with calcification on the trees that have fallen into the water. It is also very clear so you can see pretty far down into this deep spring. I used the Life Straw to get some water from the spring and we were able to take a taste of the water! Even though it was kind of out of the way, it really is a pretty cool place to check out if you are in the area. I am glad we took the time to visit.

We drove back to Saint Ignace in the rain. I pulled off to get a shot of the Mackinac Bridge at night before continuing back to our hotel.

On Monday September 7th, we decided to go to Mackinac Island. This would be the 176th day of the apocalypse. We had originally figured on going there on Tuesday. We figured it would be less busy and less crowded since Monday was Labor Day and it turned out there were quite a few tourist. Unforunately, the forecast for Tuesday did not look so good so we went on Monday. We drove down to park and found out, despite signs indicating otherwise as well as the information we had found online, that there was a parking fee. Free parking, it turned out was across the road. We decided to pay. We then bought our boarding pass for the Starline Ferry to cross to Mackinac Island. It was a bit packed but we made it on board and were able to sit not too terribly close together. I got a shot of the Mackinac Bridge and a little bit of the island as we approached from my aisle seat.

Once on Mackinac Island, we got some shots of the downtown area and someone making fudge...because apparently that's a big deal on Mackinac Island. We ended up getting some poutine to-go from Great Turtle and ate it in a picnic area by Lake Huron. I also went about getting some water from Lake Huron with the Life Straw. I had trouble again really getting water into it and after reading the manual the day before, I tried just getting a cup of the lake water and it worked much better. We had water as we walked. With this, I have now touched the waters from all five of the Great Lakes and drank from three of them. I am pretty certain getting to Lake Ontario and Lake Erie shouldn't be too much of a problem in the relatively near future to drink from them as well.

After getting the water from Lake Huron and getting some scenic shots of the water and Mackinac Bridge, we began to explore Mackinac Island a bit more beyond the town. We decided to walk where fewer people were on the back roads. As we walked we passed a Bark Chapel such as that which was set up by early missionaries to visit the island. We walked up a steep road, passing Fort Mackinac as we made our way to Skull Cave. Skull Cave is a place where natives placed their dead long ago. The skeletal remains have since been removed. Apparently at one time, this cave was at sea level and was created by the waves crashing against it. Skull Cave was one of the Atlas Obscura sites we definitely wanted to make sure we could visit. We walked a bit further up the road and visited Saint Anne's Cemetery where we walked around for a bit. We saw some native related artifacts on the edge of the cemetery as well as some of the oldest headstones to exist on the island. We also happened upon a relatively fresh grave. We didn't go further but apparently there were a couple more cemeteries just up the road a short walk.

We made our way through the woods to the east side of the island. As we walked we had to be careful not to step in horse dung as horse drawn carriages carted tourists around the island. We headed to Arch Rock but as we arrived on foot, so did multiple horse drawn carriages. Instead, I walked up a set of stairs to the Nicholet lookout and got a panoramic view looking east at Lake Huron. We walked into the woods a little ways on a rocky path and remarked about how it would be quite the tumble if one fell down the side of the hill. We went down to the Arch Rock. There was a crow on the rock. This was another place where the ancient waters once reached in a time long ago creating this spectacle. I went out on the viewing platform and got some more panoramic shots of Lake Huron.

From here, we walked back toward downtown, passing residences and mansions along the way. One was tucked in the woods away from everything. As we walked, I saw the Pirate Ship coming in to the port. We heard music playing as we walked. It turned out to be a concert going on in the park in downtown but it could be heard all through the island it seemed. We took a staircase down to an alley and walked passed a church, more homes, and other buildings as we entered the town area again. We saw the Pirate Ship and a model of the Statue of Liberty. At this point, we decided to get fudge. We went to a shop advertising the best fudge called Ryba's. Elphie got actual Mackinac Island Fudge and I got Mackinac Island Fudge ice cream. After we ate that, we decided to board the Starline Ferry back to the mainland. We were about a half hour early. We got to see the Pirate Ship leave the port. As we rode the ferry, I got shots as we passed by the western side of the island as well as of the waters. We arrived at the port in Saint Ignace and went back for another night in the hotel.

On the 177th day of the apocalypse, Tuesday, September 8th, we decided to have a more relaxed day. We went to the Mystery Spot and took the tour of the illusions and oddity that it is known for. We also played some minigolf then solved the Fort Maze. I think we could have done it quicker but we made it through in about five minutes. While working on another project I learned that I could add a timestamp to video and decided to do that with the clip of us going through the maze. I got some footage of the tour which shows a bit of the illusions of the Mystery Spot. It was a fun little activity.

After this, we stopped a Lehto's Pasties to try this food. It was on Atlas Obscura. A Pasty is something like a hot pocket. a breaded pocket stuffed with meat and potatoes. It was meant to be a portable meal for workers and I can see how it would serve its purpose.

We returned to the hotel for our last night in Saint Ignace. I decided to document on video the strange heart-shaped hot tub in the room. We wanted to have a more relaxed day because the next we would be driving a long way with some long stretches.

On Wednesday September 9th, the final day of our little vacation and the 177th day of the apocalypse, we began by leaving our hotel in Saint Ignace at check out time to head toward Gladstone, Michigan. Along the way, I got some shots of Lake Michigan from the road. We passed the Top-Of-The-Lake Snowmobile Museum in Naubinway, Michigan but we didn't stop. It was one of the longer stretches of driving for the day for us. In Gladstone, Michigan, we made a short visit to Hoegh's Industries - a pet casket and crematorium company we found on Atlas Obscura. It was technically not open to the public but the owner allowed us a short time to look around and told us a bit about the company. He had recently taken over ownership it seemed.

As we left Gladstone, Michigan, we passed a train and I got some shots of Green Bay, the water, not the town. We crossed into Wisconsin through the towns of Menominee, Michigan and Marionette, Wisconsin. After passing Peshtigo, Wisconsin, we arrived at a pull off where a marker was placed for the 45th Parallel. On the plaque, it would seem that the actual 45th line is some distance to the north.

We continued on our way and made a stop in Green Bay, Wisconsin, the town, not the water because I wanted to see Lambeau Field, the home of the Green Bay Packers. We did not try to go in but I wanted to see the stadium anyway. It is interesting in that it's surrounded on three sides by what would appear to be a typical residential neighborhood once you get off the highway on Lombardi Drive.

After Green Bay, we continued to Manitowoc, Wisconsin where a piece of Sputnik IV crashed. We arrived at the intersection as it was listed on Atlas Obscura. I got a bit turned around directionally and we looked on the wrong side of the street. It turns out that the street the piece crashed on is quite busy now....especially during "rush hour" which is about when we arrived. We did find the plaque and the ring in the road and got our shots of both then headed back on our way. I also got a shot of a strange sculpture outside the nearby art museum which apparently has a replica of the piece of Sputnik IV on display. It was rainy and cold at this point so we didn't stick around long.

We got some food then made our way to Kenosha, Wisconsin. Along the way, we passed Sheboygan, Wisconsin. I began to realize this was likely the Sheboygan that John Candy, as Gus Polinski, is referencing as the place where his band, the Kenosha Kickers were "very big in Sheboygan" in Home Alone. We were able to pass two towns that are pronounced the same, nearly spelled the same, and at least one of them is a pop culture reference, ha! As we continued I also got a shot of a huge flag then we "found" Waldo, Wisconsin. We drove through Milwaukee and arrived in Kenosha at the Mars Cheese Castle before it closed. There had been civil unrest in Kenosha during the weeks before this trip and apparently there was concerns of possible looting so the Mars Cheese Castle was boarded up. I was informed that my face covering was not permissible in the Mars Cheese Castle and was offered a medical mask to switch to. I complied. We got some shots and looked around a bit then I purchased some cheese curds.

We began our trip home. As we approached Chicago, the fog obscured the view of the city a bit. We made pretty good time and upon our arrival, we were greeted by Stein. I added a credits screen and the soundtrack list over the footage of our return after we passed downtown Chicago.

The trip went well, overall. Not too busy but we kept it interesting. I may have pushed a little bit with the trip to Kitch-iti-kipi but I think it was worth it. We may have been able to add it into the last day instead of driving out of the way to see it. Oh well. I enjoyed myself and I think Elphie did as well. We saw a number of interesting things and ate a couple interesting foods thanks to Atlas Obscura (and Gastro Obscura). That's often the goal of our trips so mission accomplished. In the video project for fall, we took some time to drive around to a few Atlas Obscura sites that were relatively near to us on the Southside of Chicago. We also made a special trip to Par-King Minigolf as we did not have the time to fit it in during this trip. Even amidst a global pandemic apocalypse, we were able to relax and have a good time and get away from home for a bit!

The additional soundtrack includes "WestDownRightUpLeftEast" by The Soil And The Sun, "Water" by J. Navarro And The Traitors, "Black Roses" by The Trigger Code, "Walk Around The Lake" by Isaac Joel, "Season Of Rain" by Josh Garrels, "Passing Islands" by Enlou, "Thunder Island" by Pomegranates, "The Silence Of The Sea" by Cut The Red Wire, "My Island" by Starflyer 59, "Downpour" by Black Swift, "Bootstraps" by The Uh Ohs, "In Time" by Silent Tongues, "Outta Here" by Lo Tom, "The Golden Age" by Joy Electric, and "Spring And Fall" by Seth Martin.

On a couple of previous projects, the Soundtrack portion of Final Cut Pro seemed as though it was no longer avaiable on my Mac Mini. While working through what I wanted to use for this project, I tried to open the program and it opened so I was able to return to the much easier and quicker method of making the audio files compatible to Final Cut Pro on my Mac Mini.

It was a similar thing with the Compressor program as well. I am thankful both are back to working on my Mac Mini. It works much faster that way.

This project was filmed using iPhone 6 and 8, Canon Rebel T6, and CrossTour CR900 by Elphie and Joel A. Swanson. Animations, titles, and maps created using Motion 4 on a Macbook by Joel A. Swanson. Edited using Final Cut Pro on a Mac Mini by Joel A. Swanson.

Friday, October 30, 2020

"Spezza Spezza Spezza (Chop Chop Chop)" by Leper (Music Video)

"Spezza Spezza Spezza (Chop Chop Chop)" by Leper (Music Video)

Leper released the album "Beautiful Gray Day" in September of 2012 on Grrr Records. I'm not exactly sure when I got my copy of the full album (I received two different promo copies) but I think it might have been roughly a year later. The entire album is really good but one track stood out to me from the rest. There are several quite unique tracks on this album, but one song had a harsher, more aggressive, even unsettling sound. It was one of the shorter tracks that, to me, always felt like it was over way too soon.

That track is "Spezza Spezza Spezza (Chop Chop Chop)."

While "Beautiful Gray Day" has been out now for over eight years and Leper has had another official album along with several other independent albums and projects released in the years since, I felt a desire to create a music video for "Spezza Spezza Spezza."

Songs can sometimes inspire a concept in my mind. I will get something like a visual idea that fits the song for one reason or another...at least it does for me. I have had that happen with entire albums as well. This was the case for a band I often worked with while in Cincinnati, Still Pioneers, but I never followed through with the idea I had to create the concepts I had in mind in video form. Perhaps I will some day.

"Spezza Spezza Spezza" is one such song that had inspired a concept for a music video. I had an idea in my mind of what a music video for this song could look like for quite some time. I think earliest concepts I had were probably in 2013 shortly after obtaining a copy of the album. I began to sort of formalize a plan for what the music video could actually look like in 2014. I had captured some footage during the hunting seasons in Pennsylvania in 2014 that I thought I could use to bring my ideas to life on video. The footage I captured were mostly simple shots of the wooded area I hunted in but I had also captured footage of the game I had successfully hunted and figured to incorporate it into the "chopping" concepts that would be in the video. I figured I could add to that shots of Skot performing the lyrics. Since it was all I really knew then, I figured I might add live Leper performances as well. Additional ideas I had beyond that included filming someone making chop motions and more "gorier" concepts such as, again, using part of the game I had hunted to be chopped.

I moved from Pennsylvania to Chicago shortly after hunting had finished. I had actually moved a good portion of my things earlier but officially my move was a week or so after the hunting seasons ended. Since filming and editing the video I capture is a hobby, and I work a real job full time, there was footage from that time of the moving, other hunting season clips, the holidays, and footage capturing life in general that would be used in other projects. After settling into life and work in Chicago and embarking on the editing of these other projects, somewhere along the line I lost the footage I had in mind for use on "Spezza Spezza Spezza." My best guess is that when I had finished the other projects, I deleted the raw footage, forgetting about saving and/or moving the clips that I had intended for "Spezza Spezza Spezza" into another folder. I tried to find or or see if I could salvage it but that footage was lost. While I had captured a few images in October 2015 that would work for the concept I had in mind, I think the realization that I had lost all the other footage sort of derailed me and caused me to lose the motivation and inspiration to create the project. I have returned to Pennsylvania to hunt a couple times since, though without success and without capturing footage to replace what was lost. This video concept remained in the back of my mind but I never started to actually work on it using what I had or filming anything new to replace what had been lost.

Life was also pretty busy in other ways. While I am sure there were times I could have focused in on creating this project if I had wanted to, a lot of other things were happening in life and I just didn't think much about creating this project for "Spezza Spezza Spezza" all that often. There were so many shows I would go to. When I go to shows, I usually capture footage that I share afterwards. The editing process for this is pretty minimal but it does take a little time to do. I regularly attend music festivals as well. Music festivals or similar events take a bit more time in regards to editing and whatnot in the process of getting them ready to be shared to others. Also, there have been trips in the time since. I like to capture footage of the places I go and the things I do so these projects take even more time to create in the way I'd like to present them. All that, not to mention just life, it put the creating this music video on a back burner.

There had been times where I was spending more time on these editing projects or going to shows than I was devoting to my wife. I have tried to be more mindful of this and try to create a balance that keeps us in a good place while allowing for my creative output through video.

I revisited the idea of making this video sometime in 2016 after Nate Allen asked me if I wanted to work on some projects for him. He had most of a tour captured on video from 2012 and wanted to share the footage on his YouTube account and website. He also wanted a video showing the crowd participation for the song "Vegetables" from the album "With Our Powers Combined" by Destroy Nate Allen. This took a few months to complete and a whole lot of listening to "Vegetables" in particular, ha! In that time, Josh Robieson was going to make a movie with some friends and asked if I wanted to help on that as well as help create a trailer for it. While making this trailer, I had some ideas for editing and effects but didn't know how to execute the idea. I looked through all the tools in Final Cut Pro while not necessarily knowing what many of them did in hopes of figuring out how to do what I wanted. One example was a double exposure effect or to take multiple shots, layer them, and make it somewhat transparent to show through the other clips. The need to do this on that trailer led me to seeking out answers as Josh sat in the studio with me. Previously, often situations like this would frustrate me into giving up the idea and moving on. Unfortunately, I've had done this a number of times before. Not this time. Josh would eventually leave to go home...I figured out what I needed to do pretty much immediately after he left the room, ha! Figuring out that effect led to my using it often ever since. For the "Vegetables" video, it was the first time I utilized it for a music video or music performance clip and I felt it really worked well in how I used it. I tried to match the footage to sync up with lyrics as much as possible. I probably could have done better in that regard but it turned out ok. It was released by Destroy Nate Allen as the official music video for the song after completion. Here is a blog regarding the making of "Vegetables." Here is another blog regarding the process of working through all the tour footage for Destroy Nate Allen.

Prior to "Vegetables" I had made a promotional music video using "Death Made Its Offer" for October Bird of Death to help promote their EP of the same name. On that, I did basic simple editing of cutting the song then making it appear black and white. Not a lot had to go into that one. I didn't even have to sync it up to the studio track because, at the time, I didn't have a studio track to work with! Here is the blog for that project.

In 2012, some friends and I did a short lived punk band called Crash Cap Hooligans. I documented pretty much the entire existence of this band and uploaded something of a documentary on the band as well as both live shows in their entirety (the sets lasted less than 10 minutes). I also created a music video for our "single" "(Who Are You) Queen City Punks" which was compiled of the live footage as well as other clips used in the documentary and some that didn't get used. I tried to keep sync up the clips to fit the song and lyrics as best as I could. This is the blog that highlights these projects.

In 2010, I decided to try to make a music video for the song "Apollo" for Brian Beyke. He renamed his music project Ancient Mariner later. If I recall correctly, I told him I planned to make this video. I'm not sure how he felt about the final result because I don't recall him telling me. It was my first attempt at creating something like this. Originally, I tried to sync the footage to the studio track as much as possible but the live performance has moments not captured in the studio where drums are used. I decided to keep one of the live audio tracks and then sync to that instead. I used two clips of live footage of Brian performing the song. At the time, I wasn't knowledgeable on properly obtaining stock footage nor on how to download footage from the internet so I filmed my screen as I had footage from Apollo 8 streaming. I chose Apollo 8 because Brian had an audio track from that mission incorporated into the performance of the song. I used that footage along with the live footage of Brian to make this video. Looking back now, this was one which I wish I had known how to layer clips and make them transparent. I worked with what I knew instead. I suppose it isn't too bad for a first time attempt at something like this.

I had figured out how to sync video and audio a bit from some of the show footage I shot and collected especially during the Covenant Shows era.. I often would have multiple cameras at the shows so I could have a full stage shot and zoomed in shots. When I would create a "trailer" I would usually take a clip of a song from one of the artists who performed then sync "highlight" clips to that. It would play when one put in the DvD if they decided to watch the show.

At the beginning of October, I released a music video that I decided to create for October Bird of Death for the song "Goons" off of Death Made Its Offer. I decided to do this without really asking the band if they wanted it or even telling them I was going to do it. This was a song that I had a concept in mind from the first time I had heard it as well. This was early on in the history of the band so like about five years ago. The band announced it break up so I decided about a week before the official "funeral" of the band that it was now or never to create this video. So I did. I had a self imposed deadline and met that...I released the video the day of the "funeral" for the band. You can check out the blog for that here.

Upon completion of that video, once again the idea to create something for "Spezza Spezza Spezza" came back to the forefront of my mind. There has been discussion to create music videos for other Leper songs as well with Skot but there was never follow through with some of the ideas so it was never done. More often than not, the lack of follow through was on my part but there is one concept that a lack of communication caused for it to never get started. Last year, I filmed some footage that Skot edited and made into a music video for the song "Still I Crawl." Skot, after I showed him the video for "Goons," asked again if I was interested in working on some other videos for Leper. We discussed the previous ideas some more and he sent me footage for a song off of the last recording to make into a video.

The idea to do "Spezza Spezza Spezza" remained at the forefront of my mind. I discussed some differences that I had thought up from what I had originally with Skot. Ideas that would be less "gory" but hopefully unsettling nonetheless. I wanted a horror film feel to this and often "less is more" when it comes to that. I got started on the project with the footage that Skot sent me but kept thinking about the ideas I had for "Spezza Spezza Spezza."

On Saturday, October 10th, 2020, I woke up with lots of ideas swirling in my head for "Spezza Spezza Spezza." We had invited friends over for a bonfire. Skot and Rachel Shaw and Anastasia and Josh Robieson and Sid Duffour. It was to be a small gathering, outside, and socially distant. The day was fairly warm and had good weather so I decided I wanted to try to get some filming done as well so I could create the idea I had. I also figured I could recruit these friends to help with some of it when they arrived! I had Elphie help with some filming and used our yard as the setting since it's a bit overgrown in parts and has an alley going through the overgrowth. I also used wooden cabins that my grandpa created as a prop along with an ax, hatchet, and some knives. The cabins are small and like models. I was filming them up close to make the illusion that they are full size and livable. I had Elphie film me as I walked through the alley. I filmed walking through as well shooting straight ahead and then shooting down towards my feet and the ax. I got shots of the hearse in our driveway and used the props to make "chops" in various ways. I also walked around a bit with the props. I captured a couple shots of the yard as a whole as well as shots of the neighboring tree that looks like its dying. As I got that shot, a mourning dove landed on the power line so I made sure to get a shot of that as well. I played around with the focus some with these shots. There are some gargoyles in the yard as well and I took some shots of those, adjusting the focus for added effect. I also had Elphie film my mouth from both sides and centered saying the word "Chop" multiple times and multiple ways. I filmed her as well in the same way and later, during the bonfire I filmed Anastasia and Josh, again in the same way. Skot, Rachel, and Sid couldn't make it, unfortunately. I also took a few shots of the fire with the skulls in the fire ring and the smoke after putting the fire out.

The next day I decided to get some shots of the lamp outside our door and shots of the skulls without the fire.

I began to arrange the pieces I had and looked into what I had on file from 2015. There had been a Leper show in the basement of JPUSA on Halloween that year. While down there, I captured some footage of the lightbulb as well as the light with a red plastic bag over it. I captured footage of the floor, some pipes, some holes in the wall, and a boarded up window. That same weekend, Elphie and I consumed the heart of the deer I had shot prior to leaving Pennsylvania. Before cooking it, Elphie held the thawed heart and I got a couple shots of that. I got some shots of her hand with blood on it as she washed it off. I had also got shots of her chopping the hatchet into a moldy piece of bread and an overcooked liver. At some point around that time, I dumped a red slushy into a sink and filmed that figuring it would give a decent blood like effect.

As I got ready to start while organizing the video footage, I ran into a complication. The Soundtrack Pro from my Final Cut Pro Studio was no longer functional on my Mac Mini for some reason. I have the program on my MacBook so I just used that to get the studio track of "Spezza Spezza Spezza" converted to use in this project.

I dropped the audio track about 20 seconds into the project timeline. I did this so that I could adjust the footage with a little extra space before as I began to arrange it to the music. The first parts I worked on was where the word "chop" was used. I had to brighten up the clips with Anastasia and Josh because of how dark the footage turned out. I'm not surprised as I didn't use any lighting on them. I felt like I got a pretty good idea of what I wanted with that, leaving space for the eventual clips of Skot as well. I began to work out how the beginning could look and arranged footage in that. I decided to leave probably about 10 seconds at the beginning to put in the title. I ended up only using five seconds for the title but I liked the lead in as I had arranged it so I left a silent 10ish seconds to open the video.

Skot and I met up to got some footage for yet another song he would like to have a video made for on Saturday October 17th, 2020. After we finished that, Skot came over to our house so I could get some footage of him singing the lyrics. We did a few different takes in different locations and expressing the words in different ways. I also took a couple more gargoyle shots. As I began to fit these clips into the project, I felt like there was still something missing. I went back outside, I walked through the alley in the dark with my iPhone 8, filming with the light on. I also thought the handheld props, the knives and hatchet sitting on a table would be a good shot for this. I filmed that and got a couple shots of me reaching for the props. I felt that maybe I had everything I needed at this point. I then remembered a shot I had of a spider. It wasn't in focus but I thought it might work well. I think it did. Those shots of the props on the table and me reaching for them ended up being used in different ways over the lines "words are weapons."

The intro clips ended up being the trees with the mourning dove, walking passed the fence at our house and layering in the cabins, and Skot standing in front of ivy on a wall.  I sort of used a bunch of the clips at the end, parts I hadn't already used and layered Skot into a couple places of that as well. While it was sort of a drop off of  unused or throwaway pieces...there was purpose for it still and I do think it fits well.

A main part of the vision for this was to make it unsettled as much as possible...I felt that included somewhat chaotic cuts, including going quickly in and out of focus. Initially I had the front and back of the video filled in pretty much. In adding in Skot's parts, it looked like there might not be room to "fit" him into those spots without deleting clips. I didn't really want to do that. I rearranged a few things here or there but mostly just adjusted opacity on clips for overlaying them for visibility of both the clip and the shots of Skot. There were other areas that seems like it might be a bit too Skot "heavy" because I hadn't figured out anything else to put in there that was easily remedied. I had a lot of shots of chopping I could use...some never did get used. I decided to add different gargoyle shots over the line "you're the beast" and I went to Wal*Mart to get shots of chains and rope to fit to those lyrcs. I had various shots of Skot that I could switch between as well as the walking through the alley shots which I utilized in a few different ways. I think a good balance was struck. One pleasant surprise ended up being used on the line "maddening voices in my head" where I could use shots of Anastasia and Elphie by adjusting the speed a bit to add to the unsettled feel to their movements.

Throughout the video there are various speed adjustments, pieces cut out to make a "jump" effect, some use of reverse...all to help add that unsettled feel. There was quite a bit of layering of clips adjusting the opacity for the same reasons. I wanted to have the entire project be in black and white that had high contrast. Once I had everything mostly in place, I added that effect. I had to go through and make some other adjustments here and there in hopes to have the appearance pretty uniform. I used gradient colorize effect to achieve this. I realized that the enhanced brightness on a couple of the darker clips added a lot more grayscale so I removed the brightness and increased a feature called "repeat" in the gradient colorize effect on some of it that seemed to bring the brightness up while still in high contrast. I made a few other adjustments where necessary and felt pretty good with that appearance.

Next effect I used was "bad tv" where it added wavy-ness, lines, split the screen, and other effects of an old television with bad reception. I did some amount of manipulating of that effect so that it would be a bit different each time it was used.

Finally, I added a "bad film" and "vignette" effect to further distort things. One thing I hoped would be available in the effects that come with Final Cut Pro is something that would appear like the sprocket holes on the sides of old film slipping into the frame. I looked into how to create this and it seems that I would have had to buy an effects pack. Instead, I decided to download some stock footage that had that appearance. I ended up only using it at the beginning and the end.

I'm not really sure what else to explain of the process. I'm sure I may have missed something interesting...maybe not. Overall, I feel that I achieved the goal of making this an intense, chaotic, and unsettling music video. I even started to wonder if I might have done too much but the feedback I have had reassured me that it wasn't too much. After showing it to Skot, he was pleased with the result. Are there things I could change? Sure. Are there things I will probably think I could do differently? Of course. Already I can say that...the bad film effect wasn't as strong as I had hoped. I also wasn't happy with the compressed file for upload in that it seemed to pretty much remove that effect and just added some blurriness instead.

But as of now, this is done and out for the world to see.

The main change from my original thought really was taking out blood (mostly) or meat (mostly) or other gory elements. Just a lot of chopping...what is chopped? You just don't know because you just don't see it.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems I have had a bit more time to work on projects like this due to the lack of activities available and the absence of in-person live shows. I will be working some more on other Leper videos (at least) in the coming months. Perhaps other projects will come as well. I am enjoying doing this so I am thankful for the opportunity.

Footage filmed using an iPhone 6 and 8 and Canon Rebel T6 in Uptown and Southside Chicago in October 2015 and October 2020. Video arranged and edited using Final Cut Pro, Soundtrack Pro, and Motion 4 on a Mac Mini and Macbook in October 2020.

Video concept by Joel A. Swanson
Filmed by Elphie and Joel A. Swanson
Edited by Joel A. Swanson

Extra "Choppers" are Anastasia and Josh Robieson and Elphie and Joel A. Swanson.

Special thanks to Skot Show for allowing creative license and participating in the filming. Thanks also for the patience in waiting all these years for me to get this done!

I decided also to compile all the music videos I have created (or helped to create in some way) into one playlist.


Friday, October 2, 2020

"Goons" by October Bird Of Death - Music Video & A Farewell

When October Bird of Death was starting out in 2015 and onward through the next few years, they played locally in Chicago, their home base, quite frequently. I like their sound and also like the guys in the band so I often would go to the shows to watch and hang out I captured footage as well. Sometimes just a clip and other times the full set. I booked one of their first shows at the Wilson Abbey Catacombs, filming and sharing that entire set. Wiley Willis asked me to create a music video using "Death Made Its Offer" to promote the release of the EP of the same name using the footage from that show but making it black and white so I did. Wiley Willis made a suggestion to put live versions of all the songs from the EP together in order so I created a single video file that had one performance of each song and they all happened to have occurred in 2016.

I had thoughts of trying to do this for the Assemble EP as well but there was one song, "Outlier," which I'm unsure if I ever saw performed live. While I intended to do that, it never was accomplished.

The final show I caught live was Audiofeed 2019. There had been a lineup change and plans to get things going again in 2020 but it would seem those plans were likely derailed somewhat by COVID-19.

It was announced in September 2020 that October Bird of Death was coming to an end after 5 years. There is to be a funeral on October 3rd to mark its end.

While October Bird of Death was very active, besides capturing the footage I've already shared on YouTube, I captured some other live footage that I had not uploaded or shared. I captured that footage with the idea of creating a music video for the song "Goons" in a more traditional sense than just the sharing of a live performance with some minor appearance editing to make it all black and white as I did with the "Death Made Its Offer" promo video. I never got around to doing this though the idea remained in my mind. Between trips, music festivals, other shows, other projects, and life in general, I just never set aside the time to create the concept I had in my mind. My intentions were to use the previously unused  live clips along with some previously unused footage of Chicago and unassuming folks going about their life, including some "working class" folks doing their work. From what I take from the lyrics, The song's message is a tribute to the working class segment of the population as well as those in the punk/hardcore scene. I wanted to take live clips that had some good energy, synced up well with the music, and seemed to represent the band well and mix it in with the footage that showed some working class sentiments as well as Chicago, the home base of the band. The live clips ended up coming from two shows at The Burlington Bar and one from The Chop Shop. My end goal was to create something that could somewhat tell the lyrical story of the song. Appearance wise, in my opinion, this type of music and these types of videos seem like they should be done in black and white so that is what I have done with this as well.

Even though I like the black and white vibe and how it fits with some music styles, I tend to steer away from manipulating the appearance on footage that I share that I had shot live as I like to keep to the original appearance and experience as much as possible. In fact in my editing process, I really do try to change as little as I can on live video, trying to keep the content as close to what I originally shot as I can. Again, my hope in those cases is to capture some of the experience as well, if I can. Often my live footage is one shot from one camera source. The editing process becomes more involved when I have had the opportunity to use multiple angles from multiple camera sources. Still, I tend to not manipulate the appearance too much if I can avoid it and try to keep true to what I originally captured and experienced. The times I have manipulated the appearance has been in very dark settings where I try to overexpose a bit to bring up the image captured better. Really, in those cases, I'm ultimately not sure if I have helped or hindered the viewing quality and experience.

With the opportunities I have had to create punk "music videos," I usually like to go with the black and white vibe. It makes the most sense and just feels right to me. I suppose that's personal preference but it is what I like to go to when I can in these cases. I don't feel the need to try to stick close to the original content in these cases and so I am free to experiment some as well to get the look I want. I actually wanted to have greater contrast of black and white with very little gray but the dark lighting in one of the venues sort of limited how much I could do in that regard. Still, I am happy with how it turned out and feel the mood is set somewhat by the black and white appearance I was able to create.

While this idea had been in my mind over these past few years, I guess the announcement of the end of October Bird of Death and the immediacy of it coming up pushed me into trying to create this music video over this week leading up to the funeral on October 3rd. I did not tell anyone in the band that I was going to create this, I just decided to do it and do it now. If I don't do it now, I probably wouldn't ever get around to doing it. Even if I did, it probably wouldn't have much reach to the intended audience.

While I figured and "budgeted" a few hours after work over the course of several days, it actually only took me one evening over a period of about six hours to complete this music video project. I took one of the live performances and cut what I wanted from it then synced it up to the studio recording as well as I could. I kept Wiley's introduction of the song, adding to it an introduction for the last song of the night. I thought it seemed an appropriate way to introduce the song as though it is the last song in that it is the last project I would be making for October Bird of Death. I also created a little title screen to go with the introduction. I cut a few other clips from some other songs that seemed like they might fit well with the song and the previously picked footage. I then started cutting clips out of the footage I had of the city and people of Chicago and placed them where it seemed appropriate with the lyrics. I realized I had one more file of  an unused performance clip of "Goons" and a few other songs so I went through those as well and cut some more clips out to put into the project. I made a few more adjustments, filled in a few more gaps with other Chicago and people footage. I watched through it, made a few more adjustments then I looked it over one more time and felt it was finished. As is usually the case, I expect at some point I might look at the finished project and think that this or that could have been done differently. But with the self imposed deadline upon me...I am happy with what was created. I am happy to share it.

In a way, this could be viewed as my tribute to October Bird of Death and my way of saying thank you for these few years of music, fun, and good times I included a short clip to express my appreciated at the beginning. I hope you dudes in the band and you who are fans enjoy this! Thanks again! Rest In Peace.

"Goons" by October Bird of Death - aTigerRAWkFilm music video:

All the other October Bird of Death footage can be found below.

A TigerRAWkFilm playlist of all The October Bird of Death video footage:
"Death Made Its Offer" by October Bird of Death Promo Video


October Bird of Death "Death Made Its Offer" EP LIVE Video Collection 2016:

October Bird of Death LIVE @ Wilson Abbey (12.06.2016):

October Bird Of Death LIVE @ Wilson Abbey (10.30.2016):

October Bird of Death LIVE @ Wilson Abbey's Catacombs (04.17.2016):

All footage filmed & edited by Joel A. Swanson.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

A Shared Life: Summer In Chicago 2020 - Apocalypse Edition (July - August)

The apocalypse continued into and through the summer of 2020. Restrictions on gatherings remained in place and wearing masks continued to be an expectation if one were to be in public places. Things continued to be canceled, postponed, or modified in ways that limited large crowds. It seemed the only way one could gather in a large crowd would be if one were to protest. This, of course brought its share of criticisms as life during a pandemic continues to be politicized so every little thing carries greater weight and significance based on one's chosen political affiliation. In Chicago, domestic travel restrictions were put in place to try to keep the infection rate in the city down as much as possible while infections rose in other areas of the country. Sports returned! Well, sort of...at least to be watched on television but with some (baseball) changing the way the game is played supposedly in the name of safety regarding COVID-19. Live music events remained as online broadcasts and Audiofeed was first postponed until Labor Day weekend then ultimately canceled for 2020. We were able to do a few fun things in spite of the restrictions. I made a weekend trip to Pennsylvania, and we planned an extended weekend get-a-way to end the summer because we had become a bit restless. We planned this with as much care taken against possible infection as we could.
On Wednesday July 1st, the 108th day of the Apocalypse, with more bars and restaurants opening to give more options of food, I decided to celebrate Canada Day with some poutine take out from The Bad Apple and it was very good. This is one of two places in Chicago I have found that produce poutine. The other is D-Men Tap. I enjoy both places and I'm not sure if there is exactly a favorite at this point. The Bad Apple seemed more easily accessible to me so that's why I got my poutine there. This day would have been the start of Audiofeed. Later in the evening, Stein got scared while playing and because it was funny, I captured it on video.

Since around Memorial Day there has been fairly constant fireworks going off in our neighborhood. If there is anything I have learned living here, is the folks really enjoy fireworks! I captured a little bit of it on Friday July 3rd, Apocalypse day 110. There seemed to be a lot more going off just prior to my going outside to capture what I did get which included a helicopter passing by. Since we were not at Audiofeed, we decided to invite some friends over on Saturday July 4th, the 111th day of the Apocalypse, to partake in the neighborhood fireworks spectacular, or war zone, depending on your point of view, that we have really only heard about but never fully experienced due to Audiofeed. I purchased some fireworks from Phantom Fireworks as well to join in the fun. We started with a bonfire out back to cook some food. I shot off a few bottle rockets while it was still daylight. All around you could see and hear explosions of fireworks while it was still daylight and into the twilight. It continued to increase. We moved to the front of the house to set off our fireworks, joining the neighbors a couple houses over. I set up my Canon Rebel T6 next to the gate on the sidewalk. My hope was to capture as much of the fireworks as I could using that camera and just let it record while I lit off various fireworks and captured more direct shots using my iPhone 8. The Canon Rebel T6 was not quite in focus. Though I do wish I had gotten it in focus, the effect that resulted wasn't too bad. The twelve minute limit of course kicked in and I had stopped it a couple of times as well as I tried to adjust where I had it aimed a couple different times. While I feel I could have done better in the filming of all this, I am satisfied with what I got and will just try to do better next time. We shot off all our fireworks...some were pretty cool, some were surprisingly better than they appeared that they would be, others didn't quite live up to expectations. All in all, it was a fun night. I captured footage of fireworks going off all around using both my iPhone 8 and my Canon Rebel T6 both during and after setting off our own fireworks. When I had shot off everything we bought, I went in the back and watched the much better fireworks being shot by a neighbor to the west of us. Later, we decided to walk to find out where exactly these fireworks were being shot from. I captured some footage once we figured it out after seeing a huge pile of the spent fireworks. On Sunday July 5th, the 112th day of the Apocalypse, as we went to Indiana to get groceries, we noticed the large number of billboards for firework sales and one that sort of mocked the other companies excessive billboard ads and captured that on video. Our landlord's kid shot off some fireworks that evening and once we realized it was him, we came outside to watch and captured a bit more footage to finish off the holiday weekend. While I would have loved to be at Audiofeed and not restricted by quarantine rules in a pandemic apocalypse, I think we made the best of the weekend and it was fun to experience the neighborhood and its fireworks. If the Audiofeed 2021 schedule holds as is planned, we may be around for it next year as well!

On Saturday, July 11th, Apocalypse day 118, we visited "Shit Fountain." It is a site on Atlas Obscura that we had intended on checking out for a while. The weather wasn't too hot and we had already gone out and about to get something at Costco so I figured why not take another little trip to check this thing out. It is pretty funny. It was created as a reminder to dog owners to clean up after their dogs, apparently. On Sunday July 12th, Apocalypse day 119, we decided to go to Haunted Trails to play mini-golf. We saw it was open and figured we could probably keep social distance while playing mini-golf. We checked to see how busy it was when we arrived. There were a lot of cars in the parking lot. The mini-golf part wasn't too busy so we played a game. Elphie and I both had multiple hole-in-ones, including on the final hole. We got some Andy's Frozen Custard afterwards. This was also quite busy. The cars were out on Harlem Avenue waiting to get in for the drive in service. We parked in the next lot and walked in to place our order and enjoyed our custard.

On Wednesday July 22nd, Apocalypse day 129, I drove to Warren, Pennsylvania so that I could try to renew my drivers license and purchase my hunting license. I had run into difficulties on the drivers license and had tried to apply for my renewal online but it could not process. The COVID-19 quarantine and societal shut down caused more delays and other problems so I had been driving on an expired license for a couple of months. My understanding of the expiration extension was that I would have until the end of July to renew my license. This weekend also happened to be a graduation party for my cousin Brynne's oldest son, Gerrit so it was as good of an excuse as any to travel to Pennsylvania. Chicago had just begun to set travel restrictions to certain states about a week before this trip but Pennsylvania, while it saw an uptick in COVID-19 cases, did not fall onto the restricted list. In Warren, the numbers have remained fairly low compared to other, more urban areas...but there was a bit of an uptick in cases there as well at that point in time. I left work after a half day in hopes to avoid some traffic and get the drive over with before it was too late. Traffic hasn't been terribly bad in Chicago during this time of quarantine and restrictions anyway but I hoped to avoid "rush hour" if possible. I did end up encountering some slow traffic headed south through the city on the highway but I did eventually get out of Chicago and made my first stop for gas in Indiana and got some food for the drive. The weather was pretty good but windy going through Indiana. As I entered Ohio, I saw a cloud shaped like a bunny that I sent to Elphie. As I continued through Ohio, I saw a rainbow then got caught in some storms the rest of the trip to Warren and arrived around midnight. On Thursday July 23rd, Apocalypse day 130, we visited with grandpa at the nursing home. He was wheeled out into a cell type structure and we had 20 minutes to visit with him. It somewhat felt like visiting someone in prison. Even though he was placed behind a barrier, we still had to keep a 6 foot social distance. It was hard to hear and the face coverings didn't help in that regard either...neither did the storm that came in during the visit. Earlier in the day, my mom and I visited the office of the local State Representative, Kathy Rapp to see if there was anything she could do to help expediate the drivers license situation. There was little she could do. On Friday July 24th, Apocalypse day 131, a letter arrived stating that the state of Pennsylvania could not process my request for renewal but to visit a Drivers License Center. I drove to the one in Warren and was told there that I needed to go to a regional office in either Erie or Bradford. That evening, we drove to Clymer, NY to attend Gerrit's graduation party and visit with extended family. I had some good talks with my uncles ranging from the difficulties of obtaining my drivers license to thoughts on government in general, COVID-19, and the civil unrest going on. I captured a toad on video as well at the sunset as we left besides a couple clips during the party. On Saturday July 25th, Apocalypse day 132, I drove to Bradford, PA to attempt to get my drivers license and...thank God! I got it! As I returned to Warren, I stopped by the Dairy Delite for a Hot Fudge and Cherry malt then drove to Wal*Mart to get my hunting license and I sent in for my anter-less deer license as well and then made a little visit to the woods I have often hunted in. On Sunday July 26th, Apocalypse day 133, I returned to Chicago and most of the footage from this day is from the drive including some large clouds building up as I neared Chicago with a little bit of lightning.

On Sunday August 2nd, Apocalypse day 140, we went to Meijer in Highland, Indiana. While dropping off Elphie so I could get gas, a man stopped in the middle of the parking lot to eat some M&Ms. He stopped where the parking lot traffic would have had to wait on him to consume those M&Ms. It was strange. On our way into Chicago, we captured footage of the storm clouds seemingly consuming the city. On Monday August 3rd, Apocalypse 141, I captured some low clouds as I drove into work and a strong rain storm as I drove home. On Friday August 7th, Apocalypse 145, the Pittsburgh Penguins were eliminated from the restarted NHL season playoffs before they really began. This was a sad day. On Sunday August 9th, Apocalypse day 147, Elphie bought an ice cream cake and decorated it herself with the provided materials. On Monday August 10th, Apocalypse day 148, the northside of Chicago was hit by tornado while the rest of the city had hurricane force winds from a derecho that pushed through during the early evening. I was still at work and parked a couple blocks away. As I watched the radar and received the alerts about the storm as it approached, I considered moving my car. I went outside and watched the clouds for a bit. I noticed how dark it had gotten and the eeriness of the storm. As the wind picked up and the rain started I went back inside having not moved my car and helped co-workers who were trying to get in and out the door as this storm hit. I went back to the office and watched the radar and storm coverage for a while. As I left, I captured some clips of the downed limbs, trees, and other debris I encountered walking to my car and driving out of Uptown. On Tuesday August 11th, Apocalypse day 149, Jeremy, my boss, and I went downtown to deliver some mail to some of our shelter clients who had been relocated from Cornerstone Community Outreach to Hotel 166 as a precaution regarding their health and COVID-19. While there, we decided to drive through the city and Magnificent Mile to see the damage done on Sunday night/Monday morning during an episode of civil unrest, rioting, and looting after police had shot a young man on the southside on Sunday afternoon. Once again the downtown and Loop areas of the city were under a curfew and closed off to the rest of the city with restricted access. We drove around a bit and I included what I captured on the CrossTour car camera during that drive. We also drove by a homeless tent city before heading back to Uptown and to work. As we entered back into Uptown, I captured some more of the storm damage from the previous evening. On Wednesday August 12th, Apocalypse day 150, I captured some police activity in McKinley Park as I drove home from work. That evening, Elphie visited with her friend Kathleen on the northside of the city. On my attempt to return to the southside, I was blocked by the police enforcing the curfew on Lake Shore Drive. I had to detour through the northside of the city over to the interstate so I captured footage of my getting around the blockade of the city.

I decided that this will be the end of the summer portion of A Shared Life: Summer in Chicago 2020 (Apocalypse Edition). The other footage I captured over this period was or will be used for a project where I mess with phone scammers, cold callers, etc. or some other phone related pranks. It's been a fun thing to do instead of just getting angry about such calls.

Over Labor Day Weekend, we took a trip into Michigan's Upper Peninsula and that will be used to divide from summer into fall for video purposes. While the fireworks section is a bit long, the rest of the season ends up not having a whole lot of substance. Probably the biggest reason would be due to lack of activities being available under the current circumstances.

I included songs into the soundtrack with perhaps a bit more of a focus and purpose on what I picked and why. I don't feel like getting into all those details but I will say that songs included were intentional...not just thrown in to fill space (which I have done at times). The additional soundtrack includes "Oh Canada" by Five Iron Frenzy, The Holiday Song (Some Christians are Nazis) (4th of July cut) by The Homeless Gospel Choir, "Breathe/Sleep" by Eugenius, "Vanity, Remember The Peacock" by Sophia, "American Sheets On The Deathbed" by ZAO, "American Psycho" by White Collar Sideshow, "I'm Afraid Of Americans" David Bowie with Nine Inch Nails, "Street Vs. State - Global Tribal - Reconstruction" by The Dingees, "Life Won't Wait" by Rancid, "Zen And The Art Of Xenophobia" by Five Iron Frenzy, "Battle Hymn" by FBS, "The Olde" by Flatfoot 56, "The Fighting 69th" by Dropkick Murphys, "General's Boombox" by Street Dogs, "Havana Affair" by Ramones, ""American War Machine" by Huntingtons, "Hey America" by Headnoise, "American Dream" by Crashdog, "Stars And Stripes" by Officer Negative, "Contemplating The Demise Of Western Civilization And Its Consequences" by Desiring Dead Flesh, "Bye American" by Squad Five-0, "Anarchist" by Destroy Nate Allen, "Anarchist Reprise" by Insomniac Folklore, "Moonshot" by Steve Taylor And The Perfect Foil, "Some People" by Low & Behold, "There Will Be Fire" by EVP, "Kill, My Darlings" by Stavesacre, "US Government" by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, "Eye Of The Storm" by Blindside, "Uproar" by October Bird Of Death, "Englewood" by Flatfoot 56, "Gentrified Ghetto" by 2Minute Minor, "Da Boss" by 6'10, and "Better" by Good Saint Nathanael.

This project was filmed using an iPhone 6 and 8CrossTour CR900, and Canon Rebel T6 by Elphie and Joel A. Swanson. Titles created using Motion 4 on a Macbook by Joel A. Swanson. Edited using Final Cut Pro on a Mac Mini by Joel A. Swanson.