Category: Video

IFFR 2024

I am terrible at keeping news up to date. This is a retrospective post…

Trees of Rotterdam, the short film I made with Alice Ladenburg, premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in January. It was paired with Carel van Hees’ beautiful documentary Berichten uit de Hunkerbunker, a moving portrait of a city through the eyes of an elderly woman living in the RVS apartments on the Beukelsdijk in Rotterdam. I absolutely loved Carel’s film, and it was a pleasure sharing the stage for the many Q&A sessions.

Overall, there were six sold-out screenings of the programme. The film will also be shown at a few more venues later in the year, to be confirmed.

Here are some photos. As ever, I’m not great at documenting things as they happen.

Artists Alice Ladenurg and Ollie Palmer pointing in disbelief at their own poster at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, 2024 Art x IFFR The cast and crew of Trees of Rotterdam: Jens van der Zee, Alice Ladenburg, Ollie Palmer, Kees Moeliker, Adriaan Wormgoor First scene of Trees of Rotterdam as seen in Cinerama cinema The audience at Lantarenvenster Alice Ladenburg anwering a question at a cinema Q&A session Carel van Hees anwering a question at a cinema Q&A session Still from Trees of Rotterdam on the screen in Lantarenvenster cinema, Rottedam

Trees of Rotterdam

Trees of Rotterdam

About

A breathtaking journey through the skies, streets and trees of Rotterdam, telling the story of past, present, and possible futures of trees in the city.

Filmed in a single shot, captured using high-tech point cloud scanners, the film takes the audience through the cityscape from a series of unique viewpoints. The camera moves over, under, and through the urban environment, whilst narration from experts (an architectural historian, a tree advocate, a naturalist and the city council tree expert) offers insights into how the urban and natural can co-exist.

In these times of environmental catastrophe, what can we learn from nature that already surrounds us? This film asks the audience to question their own relationship with trees: When’s the last time you really looked at a tree?

A collaboration with artist Alice Ladenburg. Full project information and press pack available at treesofrotterdam.com

Short film, 12 minutes; 4k UHD Apple ProRes file.

Credits

A film by Alice Ladenburg and Ollie Palmer

Written, produced and directed by

  • Alice Ladenburg
  • Ollie Palmer

Cinematography, editing, scan post-processing

  • Ollie Palmer

Original concept

Scanning and scan processing

  • Jens van der Zee
    Laboratory for Geo-information Science and Remote Sensing, Wageningen University
  • Scans originally for Fourteen Trees of Rotterdam (2021) by Alice Ladenburg

Voices

  • Herman van Bergeijk
  • Charlotte van der Heiden
  • Ronald Loch
  • Kees Moeliker
  • Adriaan Wormgoor
  • Phoebe Ladenburg

Voiceover recording

  • Ollie Palmer
  • Phoebe Ladenburg

Location audio recording

  • Alice Ladenburg

Supported by

  • CBK R’DAM
  • Wageningen University

2021.10.13 Quick video: Walking in Den Bosch

This is a sketch video I made a year ago, but didn’t get round to posting. There isn’t much to say about it – the footage is of the walking section of my commute – besides that it wouldn’t look the same if it was someone else who’d filmed it. This is what it feels like to walk around in my body, looking for patterns.

2022.10.11 Quick video: IMG_2596

Not so happy with this, but only had a little time to make it today. Making an old video of running in the snow into something abstract – and playing with the idea of Shepherd Tones, but somehow falling short of the mark. These things are all just experiments, and sometimes they don’t go so well – but no matter, the joy is in the doing.

2022.09.29 Quick video: wide journeys

I made three quick experimental videos the other day with footage from train journeys in three different countries. Note, they are all extremely wide, so it might be hard to make them play on a phone. On a computer, you can make them fullscreen by double-clicking somewhere in the video.

France

The first video I made was from France, taken sometime in 2016. I think it’s just outside Paris:

Link to the video

Stills from the video:

Sunsine on the French countryside Sunsine on the French countryside Sunsine on the French countryside

England

The second video is from an old video of a train journey across England, about 2013:

Link to the video

Stills from the video:

British countryside, as seen from a train window British countryside, as seen from a train window British countryside, as seen from a train window British countryside, as seen from a train window British countryside, as seen from a train window

USA

And finally – and perhaps most successfully, a longer form train journey across Chicago, from 2015. Note this is the only version with sound:

 

Link to the video

Stills from the video:

Compilation image of Chicago skyline from 10 videos Compilation image of Chicago skyline from 10 videos Compilation image of Chicago skyline from 10 videos Compilation image of Chicago skyline from 10 videos Compilation image of Chicago skyline from 10 videos Compilation image of Chicago skyline from 10 videos Compilation image of Chicago skyline from 10 videos Compilation image of Chicago skyline from 10 videos

Why?

I make short experimental videos quite regularly (see here, here, here, here, here, etc), as a way to sketch an idea, and keep developing my video editing skills. For years, I’ve been taking videos of places I’ve been, looking out of various vehicular windows. I’ve got scores of them (and other footage) stored away on various hard drives. And whilst I enjoy the process of taking films, quite often I find the videos themselves are a reduction of the experience of being somewhere, as if you have to perceive the environment you’re in through a very thin rectangular cardboard tube. There is so much in a journey that doesn’t come across in a film; a wider field of vision than a smartphone camera can capture, the sounds all around you, the lingering smell of a stranger’s fried dinner further up the carriage.

I’ve been reading Ed Yong’s book An Immense World lately, and thinking about the myriad ways in which animals perceive the world, and how our umwelt is so specific to our physiology. I’m on the part about vision at the moment, and it is so much stranger than you might think. Jumping spiders have multiple types of eyes with different functions; scallops distribute their vision throughout their body; there are so many ways to see. Yong argues that the mode of vision we take as ‘normal’, i.e. two eyes in the front of the head, is anything but. Take, for example, birds of prey:

Many birds of prey, like, eagles, falcons, and vultures, actually have two acute zones in each eye – one that looks forward, and another that looks out at a 45-degree angle.

– Ed Yong, An Immense World

 

All of which caused me to think about vision, and memory, and how the films that I take regularly always fail to capture the entirety of an experience; that cameras are made not to capture reality, but to frame an aspect of it for a screen. I wanted to make films which capture the texture of experience, so that you experience the texture of a place on a journey; rather than focusing on individual things in the journey, my intention is to show textures and patterns in movement. I think they’re getting towards what I’m trying to do – there is too much to focus on any one thing, and so instead of watching a video, you can see similarities between them, how parallax movements shift into and out of logical sync, and so on.

This is not an articulate definition of this stuff – it’s hurriedly written, and these are sketches, rather than exhibition-ready things, posted here in the spirit of sharing my experiments in progress.

2022.09.09 Quick video: moving through an image

Very quick video made in Blender, moving a virtual camera through a field of semi-transparent video planes at high speed. This is an incomplete sketch of a project from years ago, which I’ve just started to play around with again. The video itself is not anything special; it’s just the output of a fun process.

2022.09.08 Quick video: Chicago State St

Another quick video, this time playing with displacement on an archival image of Chicago, plucked from the Flickr Creative Commons. The setup for animating the displacement is a bit finickity, but I like the overall ability to dive into a spatialised version of an image.

I recorded the audio pretty quickly too, a five minute recording session and about fifteen minutes to edit. The rendering of these things still takes quite a while, though – this one took 16 hours to render at 4k resolution. I’m sure there are some variables I can edit to make this better, but for now, I set these things up quickly and wait to see what they look like slowly.

2022.09.06 Quick videos: Chicago skyline, projected videos

This is a set of quick sketches in Blender. I’m intrigued by the ability to project images and film onto surfaces, which is especially interesting if the original movie contains movement.

I started with a video that I took from an L train in Chicago a few years ago. A simple shot, not much happens, but there’s some parallax movement, and a tiny bit of camera shake:

I then projected this onto a surface, so that the video moves at the same speed it was moving in real life. The camera effectively mimics what my real-world camera did. Then I projected the textures of this video onto a load of randomly placed cubes and circles. The camera moves, and the projected video moves, but the objects remain in place; the effect is that there is weird video displacement in unexpected places.

Here are various results:

Note that videos are mostly square for Instagram.

Here’s what the setup looked like behind-the-scenes:

2022.09.01 Quick video: driving in Iceland, again

It’s been a while since I posted any of my quick video experiments. This month I’ve been learning a load of new techniques in Blender, which is just incredible software.

First up, here’s a video of the shot I seemingly always use to test new video editing techniques. Over the 15 seconds, the video transforms from a 2d screen to a weird 3d shape, thanks to displacement based on the colours in the video. The virtual camera looking at the screen moves too.

Note that the looping isn’t perfect, this was just a quick experiment to play around with this technique.