a TigerRAWk Film

Monday, September 13, 2021

A Shared Life: Spring In Chicago 2021 - Apocalypse Edition Volume 2 Electric Boogaloo (April, May)

After our trip from the Midwest Sea to the Atlantic Ocean by way of the south, we returned to Chicago and our COVID-19 apocalyptic life with its restrictions on social events. Some things were beginning to be more open though...we even had the opportunity to eat inside a restaurant for the first time! This project covers just April and May. I figured the trip south at the beginning of April and the trip to the upper midwest at the end of May worked well as bookends to the season.

I continued with the apocalypse intro since we continued to live under restrictions due to COVID-19.

On Thursday April 15th, 2021 - Apocalypse day #396, Chicago prepared for potential civil unrest. A young boy, Adam Toledo, was shot and killed by police and the bodycam footage was being released. In Uptown, a plow truck sat near Wilson and Broadway as a precaution, apparently. On Sunday April 17th, 2021 - Apocalypse Day #398, Elphie got some clips of Stein bathing himself. On Wednesday April 20th, 2021 - Apocalypse day #401, I captured some clips of birds in the back yard including a robin and a mourning dove. I also captured what would be the last snowfall of the season. As I left work, I noticed a bunch of garbage trucks lined up along Broadway near Wilson and police activity. It seemed the city was once again preparing for potential civil unrest. Besides it having only been days since the release of the bodycam footage of Adam Toledo being shot and killed by police, the verdict came in for Derek Chauvin of guilty. On Thursday April 21st, 2021 - Apocalypse day #402, Elphie captured a clip of me rolling a toy wooden duck that my grandpa had carved. On Friday April 22nd, 2021 - Apocalypse day #403, I captured some footage of a memorial set up along the northbound lanes of Lake Shore Drive. coming home, I captured a wreck and at home, I captured some police activity next door...this became a bit of a regular occurrence. I tried to capture some good footage of the full moon on Monday April 26th, 2021 - Apocalypse day #407. The first clip was with my iPhone 8 and the other clips were with my Canon Rebel T6. The moon was so bright and there were tree branches in the way. I was trying to focus on the features of the moon but I was not successful on this attempt. On Tuesday April 27th, 2021 - Apocalypse day #408, there was a production being filmed in Uptown. This made it a difficult task to find parking. As I drove home, it appeared a production was being filmed on Lake Shore Drive going north just north of the ramp from I-55. This was blocking traffic. In McKinley Park, there was a protest going on at the Alderman's office regarding the police shooting and killing Adam Toledo. On Wednesday April 28th, 2021 - Apocalypse day #409, I captured low cloud cover over Chicago. On Thursday April 29th, 2021 - Apocalypse day #410, I turned 41. A second year of having a birthday in the apocalypse. At work, we went to Bad Apple to celebrate and I got some poutine. Back at home, I watched the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Washington Capitals! I found out it is Tristan Jarry's birthday too...and he got the win! On Friday April 30th, 2021 - Apocalypse day #411, I grilled venison steaks for another birthday meal.

On Saturday May 1st, 2021 - Apocalypse day #412, we decided to visit a few local Atlas Obscura sites we hadn't been to yet...at least not officially. First, we walked around near the Damen Silos. The gates are locked so we didn't get into it, though if we wanted to, I'm sure we could have found a way. We walked out to the river and back. After this we went to the Ghost Church. It is the remains of an Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church that had closed, been storm damaged, and caught fire. The facade remains but the rest is pretty much gone. Inside there is now a garden. The crucifix remains with a protective shield. It appears it had burnt in the fire leaving a charred Jesus. It looks pretty cool...kinda creepy too. We drove out to where the Lawndale Theater once stood but it is only an empty lot now. On our way back home, we passed several murals and other street art. When we got back home, we tuned into the Dropkick Murphys live stream playing their new album Turn Up The Dial and some other songs. On Sunday May 2nd, 2021 - Apocalypse day #413, I got a Chicago pizza from Falco's as another birthday meal. It was great! On Tuesday May 4th, 2021 - Apocalypse day #415, I found a stop sign that had been apparently hit by a car. Wednesday May 5th, 2021 - Apocalypse day #416, it was Cinco de Mayo and so folks drove around with Mexican flags on their vehicles. Thursday May 6th, 2021 - Apocalypse day #417, I encountered a wreck on my way into work on Lake Shore Drive. On Friday May 7th, 2021 - Apocalypse day #418, I moved myself into a new office at work. There were occasional conflicts with a co-worker (often over the air conditioner which happened to be right at my desk) in our small, shared office so two of us expanded into the next room. I spent the afternoon setting up the desks and getting everything moved in. On Wednesday May 12th, 2021 - Apocalypse day #423, we had helicopters circling near the neighborhood. On Saturday May 15th, 2021 - Apocalypse day #426, we celebrated Elphie's birthday by getting Pho at Dong Ky in Uptown Chicago. Kathleen joined us. It was our first time eating in a restaurant since the apocalypse began! On Sunday May 16th, 2021 - Apocalypse day #427, we joined Skot and Rachel and a couple other JPUSA folk on a trip to the Indiana Dunes. While there, I captured some footage to use in the music video I was working on for "Far A Bheil Do Gath (Where Is Thy Sting)"  by Leper. I captured more than I would need. Some of the footage I may consider for some other projects. I kept one particular outtake clip from what I shot for the video. We drove through Gary, IN for a bit but didn't explore, though I would like to do so again. We passed the City Church among other ruins of the city. We went to Furnessville Cemetery and an old Schoolhouse shop before having a picnic at the Indiana Dunes. I was able to capture the faint skyline of Chicago with my camera. After this, we found an old Swedish school and church called Augsburg Svenska Skola with a cemetery. This is where I captured most of what I used for the music video. Some of the graves were beyond the maintained part of the grounds. We went into another cemetery called Chesterton. There were some old gravestones there and one family had rats placed at their grave. Later, we tried to hike to another cemetery but couldn't find the road. We got ice cream at Bubbles then went out to a lighthouse in Michigan City, Indiana near what looks like a nuclear reactor. On our way home I captured some shots passing that nuclear reactor and other steel mills and the city from the Skyway.  On Monday May 17th, 2021 - Apocalypse day #428 I captured a shot of the CTA morning transit. I ended up riding the train to work due to the car having some trouble. In the afternoon, I met with Colleen to get some more shots for the Leper's "Far A Bheil Do Gath (Where Is Thy Sting)." We shot in Graceland Cemetery and I got to see a couple of the unique sites from Atlas Obscura. While there, we encountered a coyote! We got some good shots to use, including a couple shots by Eternal Silence which Skot made a painting of for one of the Leper album covers. I believe I saw the Inez Clarke Memorial as well but didn't get footage of it. Later, I got some shots of Justin playing synths in front of the boiler in the basement of Cornerstone Community Outreach. This same boiler was used in another Leper music video, 'Still I Crawl," that I shot and Skot edited. I did some close up shots later of myself playing bass in the backyard, which I used in the "Spezza Spezza Spezza (Chop Chop Chop)" video so this new video ended up having several throwbacks to previous Leper videos or releases. On Tuesday May 18th, 2021- Apocalypse day #429, I had the car back and as I left to go home from work, I encountered a guy who had rigged up his wheelchair with handles to pump instead of using his hands on the wheels! On Friday May 21st, 2021 - Apocalypse day #432 I captured a shot of the Demand Justice art installation along Lake Shore Drive across from the Buckingham Fountain. I hadn't noticed it before so unless I just missed it over the last year, it might be a recent installation. On Saturday May 22nd, 2021 - Apocalypse day #433, it was World Goth Day. We drove to Indianapolis, Indiana for some goth DJ sets including Naggaroth Wych and Gomez, our friends Natalie and Mark, as part of Dead Souls Gothic Lounge at Black Circle Brewing. The event was called Deadly Nightshade. It was nice to get out and be among other people again. It was an outdoor event. Since we were in Indianapolis, I decided I'd get Primanti Brothers...but found out that all the Indiana locations had closed. LAME! On our way back home we got dinner at Taco Bell then stopped at Meijer and found that they close at midnight. We thought they were open 24 hours. We had about 5 minutes! We sped shopped like Supermarket Sweep then headed home. As we came into the neighborhood we found that the Cermak Fresh Market parking lot was taken over by folks doing donuts and other silliness! On Sunday May 23rd, 2021 - Apocalypse day #434 we went out to Glendale Heights, IL to visit with Gale and see how we could help his moving situation. We thought we were going to help him by moving some of his belongings into our spare bedroom but he wasn't ready yet. We got to see a bunch of geese outside his apartment. This was our second visit...we had gone out earlier in the month as well to see what we could do to help him. As we returned home I got a shot of the cloud cover over Chicago. On Monday May 24th, 2021 - Apocalypse day #435, I got a clip of the Buckingham Fountain which had been turned on. Chicago did not turn it on during 2020 due to the pandemic and the attempt to keep crowds from gathering. On Tuesday May 25th, 2021 - Apocalypse day #436, we went to Tesfa Ethiopian Cuisine with Mikey and Christi for lunch. We met with them at JPUSA and that's when a decision was made to eat there. It caused me to have an extended lunch break! It was pretty good. The food was set up in such a way that you'd ordered and the entire table could share it. I tried everything. Some parts I liked more than others. On Wednesday May 26th, 2021 - Apocalypse day #437, the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey season came to an end in the first round of the playoffs. Bummer. Had they won on this night, it would have left me in a place of conflict as we had a visitor coming on Friday when Game 7 would have been played. Oh well.

I put out a teaser for the Leper music video project for "Far A Bheil Do Gath (Where Is Thy Sting)" in the morning of Thursday May 27th, 2021 - Apocalypse day #438. The actual video premiered later that evening. There is a separate blog about the video available here.


We had a trip planned to North Dakota with Elphie's friend Debbie over Memorial Day weekend. She flew into town on Friday and the drive began on Saturday. This trip made for a natural season break between Spring and Summer.

Additional soundtrack includes "My Dear" by The Castros, "Maple Leaves" by The Uh Ohs, "Slow" by Starflyer 59, "Stutter" by Flatfoot 56, "Church Bell" by Low and Behold, "Church Song" by Seth Martin, Romanticistic" by Leper, "Parasites" by NYVES, "It's Beautiful (Once You're Out Here) by Stavesacre, "Heavy" by White Lighter, and "Cold Wind" by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.
This project was filmed using a Canon Rebel T6, CrossTour CR900, and iPhone6 and 8 by Elphie and Joel A. Swanson. Titles and animations created using Motion 4 on a Macbook by Joel A. Swanson. Edited using Final Cut Pro on a Mac Mini by Joel A. Swanson

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Midwest Sea To Atlantic Ocean: first trip post-vaccination (March 30th - April 11th, 2021)

 Due to COVID19, we did not visit with Elphie's family over Christmas as we usually do. We didn't visit with anybody. The last trip was Thanksgiving and hunting...only getting to see my immediate family. So we decided to make a trip at Easter to try to sort of make up for that. We were fortunate enough to get vaccinated prior to the trip which lessened the hassles of abiding by a quarantine upon our return to Chicago and my return to work. The timing of this trip being the very end of winter and beginning of spring creates a natural "break" in footage between winter and spring seasons as far as my video documenting goes. This trip, since it was longer than the usual Christmas visit, also allowed time for some other adventures. We took a drive to Florida through South Carolina and Georgia so I could collect a couple more states that I had visited. It was a nice visit and allowed after a very cold and snowy winter a chance to be in warmer temperatures...though the cold did somewhat follow us.


I decided to name this project Midwest Sea To Atlantic Ocean due in part to songs I could use for an intro soundtrack. Flatfoot 56 has a song called "Jungle Of The Midwest Sea" and Thrice has a song called "Atlantic." I wanted to attempt to mix them together for the intro/trailer clip. I chose the ending choruses of each song, spliced them together with a "record scratch" effect and layered "record static" effect over the entire thing using the Soundtrack app in Final Cut Pro. I hoped that perhaps it might stop the copyright block on YouTube. I don't think it helped as I did get a copyright notice, but thankfully I was able to upload and post it without being blocked.

For the intro clip, I added flags from the states and attempted another way of showing highlight pictures while again sort of attempting the appearance of the pictures being dropped onto a table top. I used Motion 4 to once again drawing our route on screenshots I took from Google Maps. This time, since it was a trip there and back along mainly the same route, I made two separate files of the trip...one going south and one returning north. I added title text over the ocean and picked fonts that had a bit of a pirate like look to them I thought. I added in effects to give it a misty look fading in as well. Next I changed the sizes of the flags and arranged them in such a way as to not interfere with the route motion or the title text. The last thing I created was the picture montage. This will cover parts of the travel and flags but it will fall in as I pause the motion of the route video. All of these different elements were edited to be separate video files so I could manipulate the timing independently.

I began the editing process for this intro clip on Final Cut Pro. I slowed down the route map then paused it at each stop where photos were associated. I placed the flags in as we passed state borders, attempting to not cover the route or the text. I slowed down the title text file then duplicated it from the point after the fade effect ends to cover the rest of the route map file. At each stop I added the photos. These did cover the route, some flags, and some of the text so I faded it out before continuing the route to the next destination. My initial plan was to leave the photos stacked but it didn't really work out to do it that way without leaving much of the route covered. So as to not have an absurd amount of layers (well more absurd than it was already), I saved a file once I finish putting the flags in. I did the same after adding the photo files. I reviewed what I had created and felt somewhat pleased with the result (it still wasn't quite what I wanted but I also don't want to linger on this so I can get the project done sooner than later), I got to work on the soundtrack...again as I wrote earlier, using the final choruses of each song and splicing them together with a "record scratch" and "record static" effects throughout. I adjusted both audio tracks to fit the timing of the video. I'm not completely  happy with it either, but felt it was good enough to move on from at this point. I created a still by pausing the project as the first set of photos from Florida began fading out. This allows the text and route which is covered by the photos to somewhat be visible while also showing the sunrise photos. This is the still I uploaded to YouTube.

I created more travel route video files using Motion 4 and Google Maps screenshots to show where we went with a little more detail that are used throughout the project. I am working to keep this clips brief. I think there have been times in previous projects where I made these clips a bit longer than necessary so brevity is the goal moving forward. These files are a bit time consuming to create but I like having them in these clips so, for now, I will continue to utilize them. I have an idea of a change I'd like to do to the process...but I will experiment on that at another time.


We left Chicago on Tuesday March 30th, 2021 - Apocalypse Day #380, after work. The plan was to drive to the Cincinnati area to spend the night at the Sheehy's before continuing to North Carolina. We encountered a significant traffic jam leaving the city before even getting to Indiana. There seemed to have been some sort of accident. We eventually got through that then taking the exit to get gas, we encountered a lot of police. I made my way into the Speedway to get gas...a lot more police came to the Love's gas station nearby where something had apparently happened. It distracted me so much that I pulled the gas nozzle out of my car before it finished filling so I spilled gasoline on the ground! Oops! We pulled into the Petro Truck Stop to get food at the Taco Bell/Pizza Hut. Elphie asked the officers who were standing outside what was going on at the Love's but they stated that they could not tell us. After waiting an obscenely long time, we got our food then made our way. The rest of the drive wasn't too bad. The GPS took us a strange way through Indianapolis where we ended up off the highway to get on the next one rather than merging where the highways come together...I think this is the second time at least this has happened and I'm not sure why but afterwards I researched what I can do instead of following this strange route. We arrived at 1:30am...we talked with Donna for a while then went to bed.

We woke, had breakfast and more chats with Donna, then left for North Carolina around noon on Wednesday March 31st, 2021 - Apocalypse day #381. We stopped at Meijer as we left to get some more Easter candy (we left what we had bought in Chicago, accidently) for Elphie's nieces and nephews. I picked up some Ale 8-One. I had missed this drink! The trip wasn't too bad. We encountered rain but nothing that really slowed us down. Headed into North Carolina, the GPS indicated a significant traffic delay so we re-routed a bit. Once we got around it (not sure if we saved time or not) we stopped at Blackwood's for some cherry lemon Sundrop and hoped to order a barbeque sandwich. We had thought we were told that the people who ran Blackwood's at one time worked with R.O.'s so we wanted to taste the difference. Turns out that we were mistaken in that belief (we were told of Black's) and they do not serve barbeque. R.O.'s happened to have a food truck sitting across the street so we got some R.O.'s then continued to Elphie's sister's house. It was good to eat some R.O.'s again! We settled in and relaxed the rest of the evening and spent time with family. That was good as well.

Thursday April 1st, 2021 - Apocalypse day #382, we celebrated one of Elphie's nieces birthdays at El Patron, a Mexican restaurant. One of her cousins was playing with the helium from one of the balloons and it was pretty funny. The food was good and it was a fun time overall.

On Friday April 2nd, 2021 - Apocalypse day #383, we continued the birthday celebrations with Laser Tag at The Bunker. After the Laser Tag, we ended up throwing axes for a while as well. The Bunker also ran the Ax Throwing an apparently a space where you can shoot each other with Nerf guns. We went well beyond our time limit and some of the other kids got a chance to throw who didn't originally sign up. I started throwing right handed after a while of doing 2 hand throws and left hand throws. Left is my dominant hand. It was fun...kinda tiring as well.

On Saturday April 3rd, 2021 - Apocalypse day #384, we visited with Elphie's mom and stepdad. We got our Christmas gifts that they were excited to give us. We visited with the neighbors and their new dog then got Bojangles for dinner. I tried their Mountain Dew Southern Shock for the first time. It was like a fruit punch. We hung around a while then when we went back to Elphie's sister's house where they decorated some Easter eggs. Her oldest nephew had friends over and they watched Godzilla Vs. Kong.

On Sunday April 4th, 2021 - Apocalypse day #385, it was Easter! There was a nice dinner made and the kids did an egg hunt in the dark with flashlights. I decided it was a good time to wear some of my zombie clothes, ha!


Part of this trip was planned to be a road trip to Georgia and Florida so on Monday April 5th, 2021 - Apocalypse day #386, we took that trip with Elphie's mom. We headed south by way of Charlotte, crossing into South Carolina near the Carowinds amusement park.

We made our first stop at some Atlas Obscura sights in Columbia, SC that happened to be essentially in the same spot. One was Tunnelvision, a mural painted on the side of the building that looks like a tunnel through it. The optics could give a slight appearance that it might be a real tunnel and I tried to make it work with the camera. I also found that the camera had a lot of dust in it with these being the first shots of the trip using my Canon Rebel T6. I also took a shot of a tree that resembles that on the South Carolina license plate...but I'm not sure if it was the same species or not. On the other end of the parking lot stood the Busted Plug Plaza. It is a large fire hydrant. I also took a shot of another mural depicting farm work that was in the area as well. As we left Columbia, we passed a cemetery then stopped to pee at a gas station. I made a very slight detour to pass by the Never Bust Chain but we intended to stop there again on the way back through. It turns out we only missed one site from Atlas Obscura in Columbia. All of the sites we visited were created by artist Blue Sky.

After Columbia and a quick fuel stop, we visited a UFO Welcome Center in Bowman, SC. This is another Atlas Obscura site. It is essentially a pile of junk made to look like a space ship with a few other space related pieces around it. But mostly there is a lot of junk. Going into the UFO seemed a bit treacherous, but we did go in. I signed the guest book. The guy who maintains it was no where to be found. There was a sign requesting $20 tips. Perhaps had we given one, the guy would have appeared from somewhere. There was a television playing inside the structure and some snacks laying around. It was an interesting thing to visit.

We headed toward Georgia next, encountering a bit of traffic. We stopped in Hardeeville, SC at a Speedway for gas because the previous fill up wasn't a full fill up. We took US-17 into Savannah, GA which marks my 35th state visited. We crossed a high bridge and headed toward The Pirate's House in hopes to have a meal. We saw the mossy oak trees as we made our way through the town. Unfortunately, the wait at The Pirate's House was hours. We did some quick searching of other food options and ended up picking Spudnik - a gourmet twice baked potato restaurant. We all got the BBQ Porktato and we all seemed to quite enjoy it! We were fortunate to find free parking right outside the restaurant and it had outdoor seating as well. We decided to walk around a bit after. At first we had somewhat intended to go to the river but then decided to walk through the downtown area. We passed the First African Baptist Church which was organized in 1773 and has substantial history predating the United States and throughout the civil rights movement. In Franklin Park right across the street is a Haitian Memorial to those who fought in the American Revolution. We walked through the town for several blocks. We came across a statue for John Herndon "Johnny" Mercer which is a guy leaning on a fire hydrant reading the paper. He is a Savannah native music composer and founder of Capitol Records and the Songwriters Hall Of Fame. We walked on to Johnson Square and saw a monument for Nathanael Greene (Revolutionary general). In planning a trip later this year to Alabama, we found that Forrest Gump scenes where he is sitting on the park bench waiting on a bus eating chocolate and telling most of his life story were filmed in nearby Chippewa Park. I wish we had known this before! We decided after Johnson Square to begin to head back to the car. As we walked, our mind was on trying to find some dessert...but we were pretty full from the potatoes. We passed a cat cafĂ© along the way, used the restroom in an arcade bar, then got to the car and began our drive to Florida.

We crossed into Florida, my 36th state visited, and then hit a Spiral Interchange coming into Jacksonville as we made our way to the Best Western Oceanfront hotel in Jacksonville Beach. We arrived at around midnight. I transferred footage from the trip to my computer then planned an alarm to wake up for the sunrise on the beach.

With sunrise being 6:47am on Tuesday April 6th, 2021 - Apocalypse day #387, I woke to my alarm at 6:30am and got ready to head to the beach hoping to film the sunrise. I brought my tripod to keep the Canon Rebel T6 steadier than I was able to do with the sunsets in California a couple years ago. It was a bit cooler than I expected but not too bad. I set up the tripod and got a shot of the moon prior to the rising sun. As I was getting the camera adjusted on the tripod and aimed in the right direction, I tried to adjust something and ended up turning it lose and I wasn't able to get it tightened. I missed the very moment the sun crossed the horizon for this reason and the footage is a bit shaky as I tried to keep it trained on the sun and as steady as I could. A couple times I let it drift above the sun, I think while getting shots with my phone. Unfortunately this didn't end up turning out as I hoped it would. After the sunrise, I finally did get the tripod adjusted and got a steady shot of the sun and the ocean. I walked into the water, which was my first time in the Atlantic Ocean! I took a cup and filled it with ocean water. As I walked, I saw a lot of shells and a few dead jellyfish. I tried drinking the ocean water through the Life Straw...apparently the saltiness of the water doesn't get filtered out. I took a shot of the hotel from the beach, showing the renovation work that prohibited us from having an ocean view that we had selected, then I went back and tried to sleep for a bit longer. I don't think I ever fell asleep. We got up and got some breakfast. We checked out and headed into Jacksonville. Elphie tried to call in a reservation for The Pirate's House in Savannah but apparently they were full for reservations. That wasn't the information we had been told the night before.

Headed back toward Jacksonville, FL, we went through the Spiral Interchange again. I tried to save the video of this but apparently the CrossTour CR-900 deleted it anyway. We stopped in downtown at the Treaty Oak where it was said folks made treaties under its shade...but it turns out that wasn't true! Only a story to preserve the tree! It is a massive oak tree with branches that end up touching the ground, perhaps growing into the ground as well. We didn't feel we had a lot of time in Jacksonville so we didn't explore anything else, but as we left, I noticed that we weren't too far from the abandoned Annie Lytle Elementary School. We ended up driving right by it on the highway! As I did with the Spiral Interchange, I tried to save the video from the CrossTour CR-900 of it but either I didn't hit the button or it was deleted by the camera prior to us finishing the trip.

We made a quick pit stop in Yulee, FL at Florida's Citrus Center and saw some live baby alligators. We got some alligator jerky as well. We left and crossed back into Georgia, getting a much better sign picture.

We stopped for a restroom break near Townsend, GA. Across the road was an abandoned Citgo station. I looked at Atlas Obscura and found America's Smallest Church was a mile a way! We decided to go check it out. Unlike the child's playhouse in Michigan, this is a small church which folks could go in for services and is active. Apparently it is rebuilt after a fire some years ago. Elphie rang the church bell. This didn't stop didn't really make the trip too much longer but was a fun unplanned stop.

We continued on our way and returned to Savannah, GA and visited the Colonial Park Cemetery. Some of the grave stones are said to be desecrated by the Union Army during the Civil War though it's not necessarily verified. The desecrations included changing dates on the stones. Those stones are attached to a wall. There are also victims of the Yellow Fever epidemic buried here. There are lots of old stones and mausoleums throughout including a number of broken and otherwise badly weathered stones. Again, I wish I had known about Forrest Gump being filmed in Savannah...Chippewa Park was about a block from this cemetery and would have been an easy walk to visit. While in the cemetery, I picked up some fallen moss and got a shot of that. It was very soft. When we left, we tried to drive along the river but found that road was one way in the opposite direction. We went up a hill on cobble stone and drove along that way before leaving Savannah. We decided to stop for dinner at Sonic. While there, waiting on our food outside, a passing train hit a transfer truck. We found later that there were no injuries...we also found this has become a regular occurrence in this spot! We got ourselves through the traffic and headed north.

As we entered South Carolina, after passing the state sign, we passed a wall that made it appear as though we were entering a gated community. As though the state of South Carolina was a gated community from its southern neighbors. I stopped for gas at the Speedway again in Hardeeville, SC.  We hit some traffic again in a similar area we hit it coming south. I struggled a bit at this point of the drive. I felt very tired. We took a restroom break and that seemed to help a bit. We continued...this might have been the longest stretch of continued driving for this trip. We stopped at a rest area just before getting to Columbia, SC. In Columbia, we stopped to properly visit the Never Bust Chain. It was across from the art museum and I got some shots of the sculpture outside. We left by going south a few blocks to see the Statehouse.

We returned to North Carolina and could see some of Carowinds lit up a little bit as we crossed the state line. After dropping Elphie's mom off, we headed back to her sister's house and pretty much went to bed after the long day of driving.


On Wednesday April 7th, 2021 - Apocalypse day #388, Elphie wanted to have a day with her nieces and nephews. After some were playing in the yard with a hose to cool off on the warm day, she sent me to pick up some Domino's Pizza and Krispy Kreme donuts. I was confused a bit at Krispy Kreme. I was told to pick up a box of assorted...apparently I was supposed to pick what goes into the assorted. I figured you get what you get when you order assorted ha! Elphie's nieces and nephews played with their silly string - a traditional Christmas gift Elphie gives each year. It turned out that two of the bottles were colored hair sprays...they still had fun with those as well. Later, the decision was to watch a movie...it ended up being Godzilla Vs. Kong again.

Thursday April 8th, 2021 - Apocalypse day #389, we met up with some friends to have Hillbilly's BBQ. It was good. Elphie was able to catch up with a friend she hasn't seen in quite some time and others came as well that we typically see each year. I ended up sharing an Ale 8-One with one who got super excited when he saw the bottle. Later, we took Elphie's niece and nephews to get ice cream. We tried to go to Tony's Ice Cream but it was already closed. We ended up going to Cookout. I shared another Ale 8-One with Elphie's brother before taking his kids out.

Friday April 9th, 2021 - Apocalypse day #390, we went to the Scheile Museum with Elphie's mom to see a Planetarium show. The presentation was on the constellations visible in the sky currently in that area. It was interesting. After it was over, we went into the petting zoo area. I think we were meant to pay but we didn't. We went to R.O.'s after this and had a late lunch and their version of cherry lemon Sundrop. In regard to the cherry lemon Sundrop, I think Blackwood's is the best I've had so far. We hung out there for a while with Elphie's mom. We got to see an employee assist an older man who appeared to have a seizure before we left. I bought a tub of R.O.'s BBQ Slaw to take back to Chicago. After this, Elphie's mom got tired apparently and was ready to go home. We headed back to Elphie's sister's house and prepared for heading back to Chicago.

Saturday morning, April 10th, 2021 - Apocalypse day #391 we headed out to begin our return to Chicago. We loaded up our things, heated some leftover pizza to eat as we went (and the dog apparently ate it), and made sure we weren't forgetting anything. We had our R.O.'s BBQ Slaw in the cooler so I could enjoy it at home! The first stop we made as we hit some heavy rain was in Asheville, NC to see Steve Weese. He had moved from Los Angeles and was now sort of on our way so we wanted to get a visit in with him. He showed us around his apartment. He had built a sound space for recording voice overs. It was good to see him.

We continued north and encountered a little more rain but wasn't as bad as earlier. We continued through the mountains, stopping near Knoxville, TN for another round of Bojangles. I got some more of the Mountain Dew Southern Shock to drink as we went. We encountered another big traffic delay and decided to detour but the detour we took I think probably took as long or longer than the delay. We ended up on some dirt mountain roads that were quite twisty. We ended up back at the Sheehy's around 11pm. Some folks had planned to come hang out but it got to be too late. We sat and talked with Donna and Mike for quite a while before going to bed. It was good to catch up more and this time with both of them.

We had breakfast and hung a bit more with Donna then began to head home to Chicago on Sunday April 11th, 2021 - Apocalypse day #392. We stopped in Southgate, KY to see Lisa and hang for a bit with her. It had been quite a long time. It was good to see her and catch up on life!

After this, we drove through downtown Cincinnati by a different route than usual then stopped at Meijer on our way out to pick up some more Ale 8-One before we left the region. It had been quite a while since I was able to enjoy some Ale 8-One and was very happy to be remedying that situation! I now had a couple of my favorite southern food items: Ale 8-One and R.O.'s BBQ Slaw.

We stopped in Indianapolis, IN next to visit with Mark and Natalie for a while. It was a nice visit as well and good chance to catch up. We gave them goodie bags taht Donna made for them. At some point, hopefully they will be able to visit with us in Chicago and Natalie can enjoy some venison stew! We then made our way through the rest of Indiana, seeing the windmills, and stopping at Meijer (again) for groceries then Speedway for gas. I decided to get a car wash as well. We made it hope around 10:30pm and unloaded.

I decided to put most of the end credits over the car wash segment of the video. I included the soundtrack list which went into the rest of the drive home a bit.


It was a nice trip. It was good to get away for a while and see new places. After the winter, it was also nice to get out of the cold for a while. To do things more normally was refreshing. Mostly, it was great to see our friends and family again after a forced separation due to the pandemic apocalypse. Hopefully this trend continues rather than regressing.

I tried to pick a soundtrack representing bands from these states and songs that referenced the state, the south, or things the state is known for. While sorting through songs and bands, I ended up with a few more than I needed. I suppose that was a good problem, ha! I think what I used worked fairly well, overall. I tried to do better about mixing the audio in such a way as to not interfere with the audio from the video files and also not be so overbearing when I brought it back up at areas where the audio from the video files were not necessary.

The additional soundtrack for this project is "Jungle Of The Midwest Sea" by Flatfoot 56, "Atlantic" by Thrice, "Bird Song (Prayer)" by Jonathan Hape, "Carolina" by Bradley Hathaway, "Stampede" by He Is Legend, "Left With Alibis And Lying Eyes" by Emery, "The End Of All Things Will Be Televised" by Norma Jean, "Savannah" by The Castros, "Snowbirds And Townies" by Further Seems Forever, "Sunshine State" by Gasoline Heart, "Savannah" by Squad Five-0, "No Montage" by '68, "Peaches" by Presidents Of The United States Of America, "Peach Farmer" by 6'10, "Raised By The Tide" by Maylene And The Sons Of Disaster, "Southern Weather" by The Almost.

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

Monday, June 28, 2021

Regarding Blocked Videos And Copyright Claims

 It seems to becoming increasingly difficult to add other people's music into my videos. Copyright claims are cropping up for even the most independent artists which leads to videos being blocked on YouTube. These aren't necessarily causing "copyright strikes" against my channel...which is good. It seems to have less of an effect on live performances than it does when I add a track I like or feel is appropriate for the video clip I am working on.

While I don't see how anyone is losing out on earning money for my use of these tunes (I doubt there is someone out there choosing my video project as their way to listen to this or that track) I do suppose there are legal means and measures I could take to use these songs that I have not really done to this point. I have probably annoyed a couple friends with my complaining about their music causing copyright claims that result in a video being blocked. Sorry to those of you...

My hope is rather than taking away from any of you, that it brings awareness of your music to someone who may not have otherwise heard it.

Some good news on this front...YouTube has added a feature where I can mute the offending tune so (hopefully) the videos are viewable once I take that step!

My idea had been to perhaps upload projects without adding any music in...only do that for my own personal copies of the projects. Perhaps that will be what I do in the future if it becomes too difficult to navigate through the copyright claims and blockages.

Anyway, for the videos that were previously unable to be viewed due to copyright claims bringing about a block, most of my videos are once again viewable in most places. I am still sorting through videos and finding where I may need to mute but I think I have taken care of most. If you there was a video you were dying to see, it may now be available to you!

Thanks to whoever may watch! I appreciate it!

Friday, June 25, 2021

A Shared Life: Winter In Chicago 2021 - Apocalypse Edition Volume 2 Electric Boogaloo (January, February, March)


As the calendar turned over to 2021, the apocalypse continued into the new year. COVID19 took the life of my grandpa, after taking a few others from our family and would take at least one more early in the year. This was a harsh winter. A lot of the video was taken from the CrossTour CR-900 commuting to and from work, showing the harsh weather. There was little else to do during this time since the apocalypse remained upon us. Most everything remained closed to public gatherings so really, go to work, get groceries, hang at home...that was life still for this season. This footage documents our Winter in Chicago 2021.

There are a few "sloppy" edits on this project. As I was working on the editing, I ran into issues with my external hard drive. I'm not sure the extent of damage (if any) but I took what I had edited of each day and made it into its own clip. When I was adding in the soundtrack, I noticed a few things here and there that I didn't edit as well as I try to normally do...also it looks like I may have left some clips in I had intended on deleting and deleted what I would have preferred to have left in. In all cases, this didn't turn out to be that big of a deal...but nonetheless, there were mistakes that I noticed. I guess I just didn't care enough to correct them in the end...I'd rather just get it done and move on.

I continued with the apocalyptic themed intro that I created last year. I found some still shots that sort of tell the story of the season and added them in while putting title text over the final photo I used of us at the Green River. I used drip and intermittent continuous effect on the lettering. My old Macbook disconnected from our network cloud  as I created the intro and titles in Motion 4 so I used the new hard drive I purchased to move the files once I finished them onto the Mac Mini and into Final Cut Pro. I noticed a couple of the shots didn't turn out as I had planned for some reason or another so I took an alternative approach to fix those...they ended up being a bit different than the others but, again, I decided to be done and move on.

On Saturday January 2nd, Apocalypse Day #294, I decided to document some changes and general organizing I had done throughout 2020 for my "studio" space. On Sunday January 3rd, Apocalypse Day #295, my Grandpa passed away. He died after contracting COVID19. My family was told he seemed to be in recovery and would likely be returned to his normal room in his normal wing of the nursing home but then things turned for the worse and Sunday was his last day. Some of my family were permitted to go in to see him over his final days. Unfortunately, with the COVID19 situation being around its worst point, I would not be able to go to the funeral. My Grandpa was a great man. He more or less raised me, teaching me to play some sports, to hunt, to drive, etc. I took some video of the wood carvings of his I had around the house along with a picture he took when I got my first buck, some antlers, and the last picture we had together in the nursing home around Thanksgiving 2019. I recorded myself saying a few words. He had a good life. He had a long life...he wasn't going to live forever and it didn't seem he was all that happy having to be in the nursing home, though he understood why. I wish he hadn't gone this way, I wish I could have seen him again before his end...the last visit was during the pandemic in the summer outside in the rain while he was in a makeshift cell to protect him from contracting COVID19 from any of us. I'm sure this past year was even worse than just being in the nursing home. I will miss him dearly.

On Monday Jaunary 4th, Apocalypse Day #296, I returned to work after taking a few days off for the holidays. It was another snowy day. We'd come to find that this winter would be a rather snowy one. I cleared off the car and drove in. The clouds covered the city from view as I drove in. I found it interesting so I captured it on my CrossTour CR900. While at work on Wednesday January 6th, Apocalypse Day #298, a strange thing occurred that I witnessed through computer screens. People who had spent the greater part of the last six months (and probably their lives, really) claiming the need for "Law and Order" rallied in protest of the election, listened to Donald Trump speak (and incite), then marched on the Capitol, attacking police and smashing out windows to invade the building. Some expressed desire to hang politicians who were not going with their plan to keep Donald Trump as President. It was a strange thing to watch. It didn't seem the people were particularly well organized once they got into the building. They more or less seemed content looting and being destructive...some seemed content taking photos as though they were on a tour. Joe Biden went on national television calling for this to stop and asking Donald Trump to get his followers to stop. Donald Trump got on Twitter and told his followers he loved them but asked them to "go home" after reportedly being quite excited watching the events unfold in the White House. It was quite the thing to watch take place. Ultimately, Congress got back to work that evening and Joe Biden was determined the winner of the Presidency. On Friday January 8th, Apocalypse Day #300, I wore a 'Believe' shirt, believing in a better result for the Steelers than we would get on Sunday.

On Tuesday January 12th, Apocalypse Day #304, I stayed home from work to attend Grandpa's funeral by way of "Zoom." I wish I could have been there in person, but I am glad my family figured out how to broadcast it on "Zoom" for us who could not make the trip. Thankfully, they were also able to provide the file later that I could download and save along with many pictures and a slideshow that had played before the funeral. That evening, I worked on cleaning the skull of my deer some more. I tried to boil it and work off more skin and other tissue. I finally was able to break up the brain for the most part. I worked on it for several hours. The container I used to boil it wasn't quite big enough to fit the entire skull in but it worked well enough. Eventually I decided to let it sit in the sink for a while, full of hot water, then I put it in the compost outside hoping if warmer weather came, perhaps bugs and things would consume the remaining tissue off of the bone. I returned to work on Wednesday January 13th, Apocalypse Day #305 and watched the first hockey game of the NHL season at the end of my work day. They decided to have the game in the early evening for some reason. There also were no fans permitted in the arenas so broadcasts had fake crowd noise, ha! This game was the Penguins versus Flyers. It didn't go so well.

Driving home on Tuesday January 19th, Apocalypse Day #311, I noticed the city was lit in orange as I drove home. I decided to capture it with my CrossTour CR900. It turns out that this lighting theme was to honor those who have died from COVID19. At work, on Wednesday January 20th, Apocalypse Day #312, I watched as the Trumps left office. I watched with some level of morbid curiosity to see if any more unrest would come. The city lights were of a patriotic theme as I drove home. There was apparently a heightened police presence as well, in case of unrest. On Friday January 22nd, Apocalypse Day #314, Heartland presented information to Cornerstone Community Outreach staff and residents regarding the COVID19 vaccine. We were eligible as a congregate setting to receive vaccinations starting the next week. This was an informational session and getting the vaccine was optional. I decided to take the option. Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare front line workers had been receiving the vaccine for the previous several weeks...this made it feel less like a guinea pig scenario.

As I drove to work on Monday January 25th, Apocalypse Day #317, I noticed ice on the lake and the way it moved I hoped my CrossTour CR900 would pick it up. At home that evening, the winter storm began several weeks of snowfall. On Tuesday January 26th, Apocalypse Day #318, I captured the newly fallen and still falling snow from the storm. I captured it outside our apartment and as I commuted to work. This would become a theme going forward of documentation of snow and ice between where we live and where I work. On Wednesday January 27th, Apocalypse Day #319, I got my first dose of COVID19 vaccination - the Moderna version. I captured a short clip of the process at Cornerstone Community Outreach. After, my arm was a bit sore for a few days but nothing worse developed. On Friday night January 29th, Apocalypse Day #321, I captured as best I could with my phone, the full moon...I should have used the Canon Rebel T6.

On Sunday January 31st, Apocalypse Day #323 the next winter storm had begun. I went out to shovel some so to make it easier to leave for work the next day. I had to shovel out the end of the driveway after the plow came through and pushed a wall of snow, ice, and slush into the end of the driveway. On Tuesday February 2nd, Apocalypse Day #325, it was Groundhog Day...again. Boy, the last year, this seemed like it's been Groundhog Day. And now these winter storms added even more to it! Either trying to get out of our driveway or trying to park near work, I punctured a rear tire in the sidewall. I decided to order tires online and had to wait for them to ship. In the meantime, I went back to riding public transit. It seems that the CTA got much worse during the apocalypse. On Thursday February 4th, Apocalypse Day #325, I captured a neighbors snowman on my way home. It was quite tall...as the snow continued to fall, it sort of became a snow mountain rather than a man.

On Tuesday February 9th, Apocalypse Day #332, I captured the ice forming at our steps leading out the back of our apartment. I captured it in daylight on Wednesday February 10th, Apocalypse Day #333 as well as more snow from the continued snowfall I also captured ice that had formed on a truck under the CTA tracks on the west side of Chicago. On Saturday February 13th, Apocalypse Day #336, I captured a clip of virtual Nocturna. The last one that had occurred in person was in February 2020 so this marked a year of virtual club nights.

On Monday February 15th, Apocalypse Day #338, the worst of the winter storms began. It had started as I made my way to work...but the time I was returning home, the roads were in pretty bad shape. At home, the car was pretty covered and it continued all night. As I woke on Tuesday February 16th, Apocalypse Day #339, I captured a shot outside our front door as well as through the front window to show how much had accumulated. I never had to walk through so much snow getting out the backdoor and up the few steps. It only got worse! The car was mostly buried. The snowdrifts were to my waist. There was a random car in the driveway with drifts all around it too! I made my way to the CTA transit station at 35th, and Archer while walking through snow at least knee high and up to waist high in spots. Once I got to the station, I had to wait nearly an hour for a train. I got to work quite late. I captured some footage during my commute to work. At least there were Paczkis! I also went to McDonald's to get my first Shamrock Shake of the season...hoping perhaps it will bring an end to this apocalypse! On Wednesday February 17th, Apocalypse Day #340, I captured more footage during my commute on the train of the frozen river and a guy playing guitar on the train. On Wednesday February 18th, Apocalypse Day #341, a record for most consecutive days with snowfall and/or temperatures below freezing was broken and set. On Friday night February 19th, Apocalypse Day #342, I captured more ice on the side of the neighbors house. On Saturday February 20th, Apocalypse Day #343 I captured the view of the snow out our front window while watching the beginning of a outdoor hockey game that would be suspended due to the ice conditions deteriorating in the sun. This was the beginning of the thawing of Chicago as well.

On Wednesday February 24th, Apocalypse Day #347, I was able to get my second Moderna dose of COVID19 vaccination. There were some left over after everyone at Cornerstone Community Outreach who wanted it were able to get their vaccinations so Elphie was able to get her first dose! That night I had some aches and perhaps a bit of a fever...I didn't sleep well so I got up, took Ibuprofen and Nyquil and took the day off of work. The Ibuprofen seemed to work pretty much immediately with the aches and the Nyquil helped me get the sleep I had been missing. I was back to work on Friday February 26th, Apocalypse Day #349. As I made my way to get another Shamrock Shake, I captured some demolition in Uptown Chicago to make way for more gentrification as supported by Alderman James Cappleman. On Saturday February 27th, Apocalypse Day #350, I captured a creepy looking full moon through the bloody hand clings on our window while watching some hockey.

I finally got my new tires in the mail. I had to take them in to get mounted on the wheels. I ran into issues getting the flat tire off of my car. It seems the place I took it to be checked out initially overtightened the lugnuts. Bob Theissen helped get it off the car (thanks BOB!), however it was somewhat stripped so I got a few new lugnuts at Autozone. I decided to take just the tires to be mounted and balanced rather than have the shop put them on my car. They put the wrong type of weights on and when I went to put these tires on my car, the weights were hitting the brake caliper. I put on a set of "summer" tires on the front and moved the front "winter" tires to the back and drove like that for a bit. I heard another noise that didn't seem good so I put the new "winter" tires on the car and took the car to a mechanic the next morning. Unfortunately that mechanic wasn't equipped to deal with the weights on the tires but did tell me the problem of the weights hitting the brake calipers. I found a couple of those weights on the driveway after. The mechanic fixed the other issue and on Thursday March 11th, Apocalypse Day #361 I took the car back to the tire place to have the proper weights put on. On the way, I encountered a Scabby, the rat mascot that is placed where non-union work is taking place. Unfortunately, the tire shop tightened the lugnuts a bit too tight again. I was able to get them off when I needed to, however, one is stuck in a socket wrench! ha On the way home from work on Friday March 12th, Apocalypse Day #362 I captured the lighthouse's light beam from near Drake Hotel and Soldier Field lit up in green. On Saturday March 13th, Apocalypse Day #363 Elphie and I decided to drive downtown and look at the green Chicago River. At home that evening we watched a livestream of The Real MacKenzies.

On Tuesday March 16th, Apocalypse Day #366, after dropping Elphie off at her friends to cat sit, I captured the city lights on my way home in Saint Patrick's Theme. The apocalypse had passed a full year. On Saint Patrick's Day, Wednesday March 17th, Apocalypse Day #367, I got one last Shamrock Shake, had the Flogging Molly livestream on while at work, got home for the Dropkick Murphys livestream, capturing a shamrock on the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel as I drove, then watched the Flatfoot 56 livestream after that. It was a busy day for celtic themed punk livestreaming ha! On Thursday March 18th, Apocalypse Day #368, I captured some Lake Michigan waves near North Beach on my way home. On Saturday March 20th, Apocalypse Day #370, I saw a few strange folks crossing Western Avenue in some sort of costumes which appeared to include a WWE championship belt. I don't know what their story is, but I captured them anyway.

On my way into work on Monday March 22nd, Apocalypse Day #372, I captured some graffiti that has been up in the neighborhood for a while. It appears it was commissioned. I am thankful I did capture it then because it changed a few weeks later to something else. On Tuesday March 23rd, Apocalypse Day #373, I captured the Mexican restaurant that burnt across from the 35th/Archer CTA transit station. On Thursday March 25th, Apocalypse Day #375, as I walked through Uptown, I encountered evidence that some filming was taking place in the old Uptown Theatre. I also captured the sign at The Riviera commemorating a year "dark" without shows due to lockdowns. Back home, there were helicopters...it turns out a robbery incident occurred at the nearby Home Depot possibly also including a shooting.

On Sunday March 28th, Apocalypse Day #378 I decided to try out my Excalibur Bulldog 440 crossbow on a makeshift target I built out of a Styrofoam cooler and hay. The bolt went right through the cooler and embedded into the garage wall behind it. It didn't come out when I first pulled on it...I did eventually get it to pull out. I thought I might have to hit it from the inside with a hammer. Oops! On Monday March 29th, Apocalypse Day #379, I saw a hole in a building near Burger King on Western and Archer. It appeared someone had crashed their vehicle into the building.

Having now been vaccinated, we decided to take a trip south to end the winter. We would spend Easter and a week after with Elphie's family in North Carolina. We would also take a quick road trip through South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida to knock off a few more states for me as well. We took her mom along. We were not able to do our usual trip to North Carolina at Christmas due to COVID19 concerns...this was a much needed trip and break after the winter.

The soundtrack includes "Far a Bheil Do Ghath (Where Is Thy Sting)" by Leper, "1 Corinthians 15:55" by Johnny Cash, "My Father's Body" by Over The Rhine, "The Wind" by Demon Hunter, "Winter Sun" by Glenn Kaiser Band, "Blizzards and Bygones" by Five Iron Frenzy, "KPM" by Flatfoot 56, and "I Wish You Were Here" by Dropkick Murphys.

Filmed using a Canon Rebel T6, iPhone 6 and 8, and CrossTour CR900 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

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

LIVE Music Is Back!

 I hope this isn't one of those "too good to be true" times in life...but LIVE music seems to be coming back as society "opens" again following the COVID-19 pandemic.

I'm not sure that I'll make a new blog post every time that I am able to attend a live event, but I decided I would at least this time. In the past, I believe I included videos from my attendance at live events in the seasonal collection of videos rather than do a post every event because that would likely get a bit overwhelming. I'm pretty sure that's what I will go back to doing, with exceptions here and there.

Saturday June 5th, 2021, was the day that I got to attend a LIVE music event in person in the same room as the artist and others who also attended for the first time since March 2020. That's somewhere in the neighborhood of 16 months. I did watch a number of live streamed performances over that time. But it was really nice to be in the room again with the artist and other folks.

This show wasn't exactly a public show. It was a free event at JPUSA in the Garden Room in Uptown Chicago, which seemed to have been closed as a gathering space for that community over the pandemic. The show featured Teel Short, The Ghost Servant, and Leper.

I took a shot with my iPhone 8 of the flyer. I didn't realize it but I shot it in the slow motion setting. I had an idea to make a short title intro to each clip I captured and posted from this event using that shot of the flyer. I put the clip in Motion 4 and maneuvered the "camera" setting to zoom in on the cut out images of each artist then zoom to the artist name. I had the text type out using the "American Typewriter" font the song title for each clip and my filming and editing credits. The slow motion setting caused for a flickering light effect to be in the shot. I had ideas of adding "Bad TV" and "Bad Film" effects but didn't end up doing that. Actually, I sort of forgot about it until after I had begun to compress the rendered and finalized files for uploading.

I shot the live footage using my Canon Rebel T6. I'm thinking of using that when I can going forward, rather than just my iPhone 8. This will depend some on mode of transportation to the venue and venue rules.

Teel Short was the opening set. I captured the song "Real Thing."

The Ghost Servant was next and I captured "Think Of The Sparrows."

Leper closed the night playing a different sort of set list of mostly older songs. I captured "Non Ho Piu Paura Di Dormire (I'm Not Afraid To Sleep Anymore)."

Again it was really good to be in the same space as the artist performing with other folks again. Looking forward to this occurring regularly again!

Filmed using an iPhone 8 and Canon Rebel T6. Titles created using Motion 4 on a MacBook. Edited using Final Cut Pro on a Mac Mini. Filmed and edited by Joel A. Swanson

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Far a Bheil Do Ghath (Where Is Thy Sting) by Leper (Music Video)

In October 2020, Skot Shaw and I discussed some ideas that could become music videos for Leper. These were ideas for songs off of "This Next Song Is About Death" which had been released the year before. It would make sense to make some videos for songs of the newest album, even though at the time I had begun to work on one video and had the idea for another video from an older release. I went ahead with both of those videos prior to beginning to work on any of the ideas Skot had for songs from "This Next Song Is About Death."

On Saturday October 17th, 2020, we met up at the University of Chicago to shoot some clips around an area that had intrigued Skot. He felt the old stone architecture of the buildings had a sort of European feel. Most of the shots were in or around a stone corridor. Skot did not tell me which song he intended to be used. He pulled out his guitar and set up where he wanted to me to shoot then began to play a track on his phone. It was then that I realized he intended this to be a music video for "Far A Bheil Do Ghath (Where Is Thy Sting)" from the album "This Next Song Is About Death." That first shot I remained stationary. We did another shot that was similar and in the same area, just another side of the structure. In this one, I moved around Skot to get different angles. In both of these shots, Skot played through the entirety of the song.

One thing I had to try to avoid was getting Skot's phone in the frame. While I tried my best, during editing I noticed the phone in the shot on occasion. Some clips I cut while others my hope is that the phone will be somewhat hidden or disguised when I add in the effects. Another thing I worked to avoid while filming was that various paper signs hanging around (often COVID-19 related) and other modern things that I felt sort of took away from the old world castle appearance that I think Skot was trying for.

We shot several clips in front of a door as well on a building covered in ivy. I took a few extra shots here of the gargoyles and the building itself. I figured these clips could be added in or layered over some of the performance clips. I shot these clips from different angles to hopefully give different perspectives to use throughout the project.

We also shot a couple clips on the other side of the same building, then a couple clips in a sort of courtyard or garden near the door. This ended up being a performance clip as well, however, Skot didn't go through the entire song. We were nearly finished when we decided to utilize the stone corridor some more to get some clips of Skot walking. We did a few of him walking toward the camera, one of the camera following him, and I did one other shot just walking through the walkway with the camera.

I took a few other shots of the buildings and windows of the surrounding architecture that I wasn't sure if I would use in the project or for some other personal work and once again got ready to go when Skot had the idea to shoot some footage through a window. I got a couple different clips from different sides of the windows. We did not get inside the building but shot directly through the windows.

After this, Skot met me at my house to get some performance shots that would be used for "Spezza Spezza Spezza (Chop Chop Chop)."

The next week on Saturday October 24th, 2020, we returned to the University of Chicago to get a couple more clips. This time, Skot brought his scythe with him to use as a prop. We got a couple more shots in front of the door of the building with the ivy using different perspectives and angles and a couple shots of Skot standing in front of the stone corridor. We also did a couple more shots of Skot walking the corridor with the scythe. This day, we spent much less time shooting. These shots ended up being more auxiliary type shots to be added in to where they feel that they fit.

It took me some time (months, actually) to get to really work on the editing process because I wanted to get some other personal projects done and had other matters to attend to in life. I also did not have as clear of a vision for this one as I had on the previous Leper videos that I finished.

In the meantime, another Leper video was created with Juan Carlos and put out officially by Grrr Records. It was also shot at University of Chicago in a lot of the same spots we had previously used. I tried to take note of the shots so that it wouldn't look too similar. I wasn't sure how I felt at first of making a music video using the same setting. I didn't want to use the same shots and have it looking too much alike. As I thought about it, I sort of liked the idea of having some clips from the same setting. It would turn out to be a theme as this project went along that various images or settings from other Leper related works would make appearances in the video.

The first thing I did when I got to work on editing this project for "Far A Bheil Do Ghath (Where Is Thy Sting)" was sync each of the performance clips I shot with Skot to the music. I watched through each clip, cutting footage that didn't feel it would really work. The next step I took was to sync each of the performance clips together. I had to make a couple small adjustments at this point but I was able to get the three different clips to be pretty closely synced together and to the music...at least to my eye.

Once all the performance clips were in sync, I watched through and tried to mark or take note of where I hoped to make cuts to switch between clips. I didn't want to be too repetitive with the shots or stay too long with one of the shots if I could avoid it. I watched through some more and began to make the cuts, finding at times that the shot I hoped to use originally wasn't as good as another shot so I adjusted as necessary in these places. It was in this early process I added one of the scythe clips, syncing it to the music rather easily. After a few times of watching through, making a few more adjustments here and there, I had what I would consider a rough draft of the project so that I could then work with adding in the auxiliary shots as they fit or taking out more of the performance clips that may not look or feel quite right. I finished up the opening and closing minutes of the project and felt fairly confident that these parts were basically done. I felt there was little more to be added or taken from these parts regardless what else I would do with the project. I synced a shot of Skot knocking on the door to the drum sounds as part of the opening. I added another similar shot at the end. I choose to make a sequence of clips of the buildings and gargoyles at the beginning. Then I decided to make a sequence of clips in the stone corridor during a musical pause toward the beginning then did another one toward the end. In the one near the beginning, Skot is carrying his guitar and the one near the end he is carrying the scythe. These were sequences I did not wish to change much as I progressed on the project.

There was one thing that kept coming back to mind as I worked through this early editing process...while I could probably finish the project with the footage I had, it would feel like something was missing, in my opinion. The song has a gang vocal throughout...it would seem that perhaps adding a few other people might be needed. Also with some of the other instrumentation of the song, the flute and synth...perhaps even the bass, it might be good to try to add in at least some footage of the other band members. I didn't think the additional footage necessarily had to be shot at the University of Chicago...I thought maybe a cemetery might make sense with the song being about death and all. There happened to be Graceland Cemetery nearby to JPUSA where most of the members lived and thought it might be a good setting. I also knew that "Eternal Silence" was in the cemetery and Skot had made a painting of it which was used as a Leper album cover for "Goodbye Cleveland."

In the meantime, I went back to work with what I had. I adjusted a few clips to fit into a backing vocal track and moved a few other unused clips that fit into the chorus. I tried to lessen some of the repetitiveness as well by moving some other clips around or adding more of the auxiliary clips I had available.

After speaking with Skot about the ideas to get some more clips with other band members and people willing to participate with doing the gang vocals, it seemed this might be difficult to get done, due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, even though most if not all the people that would be involved had been vaccinated. I decided to I put this project on the shelf until it was possible to get the other shots with other people to fill in where needed. I was not interested in putting it out when I knew there was more that could be done believing it would add more to the finished project. It wasn't a long pause, I had another conversation with Skot and it resulted in getting the shots I would need but it also added other locations for shooting.

On Sunday May 16th, 2021...about seven months after the initial footage was shot, during a trip to the Indiana Dunes, I captured a few shots in three different cemeteries including some gang vocals clips. The cemeteries were Furnessville, Chesterton, and an unlisted one near the Augsburg Svenska Skola. The gang vocals were shot at that unlisted one but I used footage of the entrance to Furnessville and some shots of the group walking through Chesterton.

On Monday May 17th, 2021, I was able to get some shots with Colleen Davick playing her flute in the Graceland Cemetery in Uptown Chicago. We got some shots by some crypts, by a sculpture with an angel, a Celtic cross stone, and at a stone with a sculpture of a mourning woman. I also decided to get shots at "Eternal Silence." I thought it would be fitting to add that image to the project as it was the subject of a painting by Skot that was used for the Leper album cover art of "Goodbye Cleveland." That evening I was able to capture some footage of Justin Filizola playing synths. It was decided to shoot those in front of a boiler in the basement of Cornerstone Community Outreach which Skot crawled out of in the video for "Still I Crawl." I liked using that setting as well as another sort of Easter Egg to a previous Leper project. As I wrote before, this unintentionally became a bit of an underlying theme,

After capturing this footage, I decided to get a couple shots of bass playing on Wednesday May 19th, 2021. I set up the camera in the back yard of our house and tried to figure out the focus to really just get the guitar and its neck and me playing the notes. Elphie ended up helping a bit to get the shots right. I had it shooting up the neck as well as down the neck. I didn't intend to use much but wanted to include some bass shots here and there as they fit.

I had reached out to Jennifer Mercy about getting some footage of her singing her parts. She ended up sending me a short clip she had done in the fall dancing and singing the chorus in a graveyard near her home in Michigan. Her husband, Bill Geeseman, shot the footage on an iPhone, I believe.

I began adding in the gang vocal clips, trying to avoid repetition in these clips or to remove repetition of the clips I had in place already. I synced the audio to the video then made some other adjustments with the footage. With Justin's parts, we had him play through the entire song twice to get the shots I hoped to use so I synced it up with the studio recording of the song and began to trim out the pieces I wanted to use. I did move a couple parts around when Justin sang some of the vocal parts to sync them where I thought that they might work best. I added in clips with Colleen next, trying to sync up to the flute sounds as best as I could to what she appeared to be playing. Then I added Jennifer's parts into places where they seemed to fit well and finally added in the bass clips in a few places to finish the editing of the musical performance clips.

As I watched through, I added a couple of the other cemetery shots here and there where it seemed a shot was too repetitive or perhaps ultimately didn't quite fit...maybe even felt a bit forced. I felt I had a finished project so  I watched through what I had and felt satisfied with the content of the project.

At this point I decided to add in some of the "Bad TV" effect on Final Cut Pro. As I watched through, I added this effect in spots with some transitions and a few other randomly chosen spots. On a couple of occasions, the effect fit really well with the music completely by chance. This was a pleasant surprise. I rendered the project then watched through and felt satisfied once again. I decided to finalize the project at this point, full color, with only the "Bad TV" effect edits.

Once processed, I put the newly created video file back into Final Cut Pro and started to work on other effects. My hope was that when I started using the effects on the appearance to adjust the color, contrast, and other things, I wouldn't have to go through each and every clip and attempt to match up the effect levels all the way through. I started with the "gradient colorize" effect to try to obtain the extreme contrasted black and white appearance with very little gray. I wanted to change the white to red but didn't seem to find a way to make that change within the parameters of that effect on my version of Final Cut Pro. The reason I wanted to change it to red was I wanted to it to look like the album artwork on "This Next Song Is About Death." I was able to change the color with the "color corrector" effect which I used in addition to "gradient colorize." I thought I had achieved the red color I wanted but there was some variables in the color I hoped to get rid of. I began to adjust the "white' levels which seemed to do the trick, however some of the detail and texture was lost. I played around a bit with the "mid" and "black" levels but chose to leave them at default. When I tried to add in the "Bad Film" effect, it seemed to also affect the color as I tried to adjust the elements in the effect to hopefully get it to look the way I wanted.

The color ended up turning out pink.

At this point, I decided to temporarily scrap the "Bad Film" effect and finalize the project with the red and black look. I sort of started over, removing the "gradient colorize" and "color corrector" effects and then added "Bad Film" effect back in and finalized the project that way. I wanted to try different things to see if I could achieve the desired outcome one way or another.

When I played back the file with just the color/contrast appearance edits, the video still appeared pink. This was definitely not what I wanted. I began to experiment with the color settings but created short clips rather than the entire project to see how things appeared after adjustments. This way I wouldn't have to wait as long for rendering. Unfortunately, the appearance continued to be pink rather than a good full red color. I decided to scrap the "gradient colorize" and "color corrector" effects again and try with a "sepia" effect just changing the color to red rather than brownish. I tried picking a very dark red but the final appearance remained pink. There also lacked the contrast I wanted so I scrapped the "sepia" effect. I reinstated the "gradient colorize" and "color corrector' effects and put all the settings pretty much back to where I had them set previously. I adjusted the hue a bit which did seem to help to some degree but it still wasn't quite the color that I wanted. I added a "brightness/contrast" effect, adjusting the contrast and that finally solved the color problem! I thought that the "gradient colorize" effect had done enough with the contrast when I utilized it previously, however, this led me to see that I could have had even more contrast had I decided to utilize this "brightness/contrast" effect to give me the power to adjust those aspects! The sample file I created to test the playback looked the color I had hoped it would.

It was now time to get back to adding the "Bad Film" effect as well as "Vignette." The "Vignette" effect looked fine as it was in the default. I considered adjusting it slightly, even gave it a couple tries. First adjustment had the effect taking over way too much. At some point I had adjusted it to be a bit more apparent to viewing then it is in default but in the end, I decided to just stick with the default setting. This was after temporarily scrapping the Vignette effect to try to figure out the issue I was having where the effects seemed to be changing the color I had achieved in the previous efforts I had made and wrote about above. It turned out that it was the "Bad Film" effect  that continued to give me trouble though. I was wanting to adjust the scratch, hair, and dust elements to be at the maximum level. When I set it that way, it didn't seem to do much different than the default. After tinkering with this effect for several hours, after changing the brightness element, it finally occurred to me that issues with the color was it was being saturated out but the saturation element. I adjusted that to zero and consequently, I seemed to have found the solution I was looking for all this time! At this point I decided to adjust some of the other elements in the "Bad Film" effect such as scratch, hair, and dust and various points throughout the project, occasionally also adjusting the jitter and grain elements. I moved the "Vignette" effect to be the last to take effect. I had also added a "noise" effect throughout picking the "Gaussian" film grain option but ultimately decided to scrap it. I scrapped it prior to realizing that I needed to adjust the saturation to zero (thinking it might have been a culprit in the color issues) but I ultimately felt that the noise effect wasn't necessary and wasn't adding a real value to the project. I finalized a clip to see how it looked. I was satisfied with what I was seeing so I decided to go ahead and finalize the project so I could then compress it to post it to YouTube after adding the text files I created using Motion 4 on my Macbook.

On my MacBook I downloaded a "bones" font file then installed it in place to use with Motion 4. I used the newest Leper logo and used the bone text to create a title. There is a Leper t-shirt using a similar text style that was the inspiration for doing this. I thought it also was the text on the album "This Next Song Is About Death" but I found I was incorrect in this assumption. I also used the "bones' font for credits at the end. I think it turned out pretty good. I decided to keep the text in black and white. I thought it would likely get lost in the footage if I also changed it to red as well. I went through a couple different variations of the text before settling on what is in the final project. I also added some "Bad TV" effect to transition between credit texts at the end using different levels on this. I added "Bad Film" effect as well adjusting the elements at different intervals and I added "Vignette" effect on the credits but not the opening title. I had the "noise" effect used on all of the text video but I decided again to scrap it as it didn't feel like it was necessary or added real value.

Video concept by Skot Shaw and Joel A. Swanson.

Filmed at University of Chicago, Graceland Cemetery in Uptown Chicago, Chesterton Cemetery, Furnessville Cemetery, Augsburg Svenska Skola and its cemetery in Indiana, our backyard in Southside Chicago, the boiler room next to The Crypt in Uptown Chicago, and wherever the cemetery is that Bill Geeseman shot Jennifer Mercy's parts.

Filmed using a Canon Rebel T6 by Joel A. Swanson and an iPhone by Bill Geeseman.
Edited and effects added using Final Cut Pro on a Mac Mini by Joel A. Swanson
Titles created using Motion 4 on a MacBook by Joel A. Swanson