Friday, December 30, 2011

Top Video Channels 2011 - In A Brooklyn Minute (Week 87)

Top Video Channels 2011 - In A Brooklyn Minute (Week 87) from Luci Westphal on Vimeo.

To close out the old year (as a thank you to all the creators and the viewers) and as a welcome to the new year (as an inspiration) here are 10 of my favorite video channels from 2011.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy, creative and productive 2012!!!

The channels from the list (in order of video not in order of any sort of rating): (Music - News and Reviews) (Film - News and Reviews - German) (Interviews - German)

Please do know that this is more random than science and that a lot of choices were difficult (and thus random). There are a lot more channels that I love and I would like to thank and which I'd like you all to check out. But you can only fit so much into 1 minute without making everyone dizzy.

IMPORTANT: I tried to get permission from everyone in the video to use a clip from their channel. This is supposed to be a tribute to these channels and also to the material they use to create their works. In no way do I mean to infringe on anyone's copyright.

Even though I watch videos (and like channels) on other platforms as well, e.g. Vimeo and Blip - I decided to just focus on YouTube channels for this because that's where most of you are watching. 

And for good measure here are a bunch more of my favorites. Please know this is not a complete list either. So please don't feel dissed if I overlooked mentioning you even though you know I watch and love your videos. I'm definitely sleep-deprived right now.

... and many more...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

überlin blog

One of my favorite personal blogs is the überlin blog by Berlin Brits James and Zoë who moved to Berlin a year ago and with whom I've connected via Twitter when I was still there. 

I can't quite remember how we initially "met" online - but I do remember that several times by pure chance we posted about the same things, e.g. the Computerspiele Museum . While I made my one-minute videos, they would display beautiful shallow depth-of-field and macro photographs with short write-ups.

Zoë and James have learned the "German stare"

We eventually met in person and it was amazing to see them in 3D and hear that they had British accents. But that's besides the point. 

Their simple and stylish blog is about living the expat life and their passions. James is into electronic music, Zoë is into fashion and photography - both are into design, Berlin and food. They have a wonderful sense of humor and two beautiful cats: Iggy and Otis

Their posts are short and to the point, often humorous and with lots of excellent photos. Instead of sharing my favorite posts, I recommend for you to just go exploring their sites.

Their blog is very inspiring to me and I'd like to aim for creating shorter posts like theirs more often, like just a photo and a short explanatory sentence... or a quick write up about a blog I enjoy. (Although I'm also trying to incorporate point 12 from 20 Life-Changing Habits That Will Make 2012 Your Best Year Ever and not expect myself to be active and successful on all social media platforms.) Also, I'm more than ready to give my blog a visual make-over. But because it's three columns and has tons of widgets it's going to be big time-suck...

Last but not least, the überlin blog and James and Zoë's adventures are some of the reasons that make me long for a return to Berlin in spring...

Monday, December 26, 2011

Music Monday: Four Dollar Wine

- Four Dollar Wine - We Gave It A Go -
This is the most excited I've been about sharing music on my blog ever: Four Dollar Wine has just announced the January release of their debut album "We Gave It A Go" and have released the first two songs.

You can now download for free the songs "Somebody New" and "Please Come Home" and if you pre-order the album you also already get the song "We Gave It A Go".

Check out the album trailers made by Scott Solary using nostalgic footage as visuals to these moody, dark and heartfelt Americana songs. 

"Somebody New" - Album Trailer 1

"Please Come Home" - Album Trailer 2

Currently the music is available through Bandcamp, but will be on iTunes, amazon etc. as soon as the album is released. Best way to stay updated is through the Four Dollar Wine Facebook page

Okay, now that you've checked out the music "without prejudice" I can tell you that the singer of this Brooklyn-Berlin band is my husband Scott Solary who started Four Dollar Wine with our friend and musician extraordinaire Thimo Sander (guitarist, Ich und Ich) in Berlin as a lark when I needed a song for my In A Berlin Minute Planking video. 

I had written those silly lyrics and just wanted Thimo to sing them in a kind of country-western style. Little did I know Scott would sing - and little did anyone know that the guys would enjoy this so much that they would get serious and record several moody alt-country songs in Berlin. A few months later when we had moved back to Brooklyn, Thimo came over and they wrote a few more gems. 

I cannot express how surprised and charmed I am by this music that these guys created together. I knew Thimo was good - but Scott had never sung before. Suddenly I find myself in love with a musician... does that make me a groupie? 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Cat Wishes - In A Brooklyn Minute (Week 86)

Christmas Cat Wishes - In A Brooklyn Minute (Week 86) from Luci Westphal on Vimeo.

Multi-lingual, multi-culti expat cats in hats Jarmo and Lynch Kater wish all of you a Merry Christmas, Frohe Weihnachten, Buon Natale, Feliz Natal, Feliz Navidad, Joyeux Noël, God Jul, Boldog Karácsonyt and Prettige Kerstdagen. 

If I wasn't restricted to the 1-minute format and hadn't reached the limits of how long a sophisticated cat can wear sparkly antlers, they would also have wished you Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, Mutlu Noeller, Veselé Vánoce, Veselé Vianoce, Bon Nadal, 圣诞快乐, Καλά Χριστούγεννα, Nollaig Shona, メリークリスマス, Lorem Nativitatis, Wesołych Świąt, Crăciun fericit, С Рождеством, Vesel božič, Glædelig jul, Nadolig Llawen, Sretan Božić, Срећан Божић, jwaye nowèl and on and on... 

Happy Holidays to all!  

- Santa Jarmo -
I'd like to thank Lynch Kater and Slow-Mo Jarmo for their cooperation, Scott Solary for making this video together with me,  Teddy, the talking porcupine for the inspiration and last but not least all of YOU for watching, subscribing, commenting, rating, favoring and sharing!

The featured song "Jingle Bells" was written by James Lord Pierpont and produced and performed by Kevin MacLeod (, who is making tracks available for free through Creative Commons License. Thanks, Kevin. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Music Monday: Alternative Christmas Songs

Still from last year's Christmas Market video

Christmas is less than a week away... Have you done your holiday shopping, decorated your living room and baked some cookies? How about getting in the holiday mood by playing Christmas songs? 

Here are few of my favorite (alternative) Christmas songs for this season. 

Please let me know if you have other favorites. I'm always eager to discover new music!

Because not all songs were available on Groove Shark, here is the complete list with links to downloads. 

Christmas Day (I Wish I Was Surfing) - Emmy The Great & Tim Wheeler
Black Christmas - Poly Styrene
Last Christmas - Florence & the Machine
The Christmas Waltz - She & Him
Silent Night - The Kills (free download)
Blue Christmas - Sharon Van Etten
Are You Coming Over For Christmas? - Belle and Sebastian
No Christmas For Me - Zee Avi
Christmas In Prison - Emmy The Great & Lightspeed Champion
Christmas Reindeer - The Knife
Is This Christmas? - The Wombats
I Wish It Was Christmas Today - Julian Casablancas
Merry Christmas, Baby (Please Don't Die) - Dum Dum Girls
Christmas (Baby, please come home) - The Raveonettes
Silent Night (Noapte De Vis) - Glasvegas

Friday, December 16, 2011

Ghost Bikes - In A Brooklyn Minute (Week 85)

Ghost Bike for Elizabeth Padilla

Ghost Bikes can be found all over Brooklyn, New York City and most of the world. They are memorials to bicyclists who have been killed on the street. A bike painted white is locked to a permanent fixture at the nearest location to the actual crash - oftentimes there is a plague with the cyclist's name. It is a somber reminder of that individual person who died and a call to make our streets safer for everyone.

Ghost Bikes - In A Brooklyn Minute (Week 85) from Luci Westphal on Vimeo.

The video features three Brooklyn Ghost Bikes in memorial to Jasmine Herron, Elizabeth Padilla and Julian Miller. May they rest in peace.

The 2005 accident that killed Elizabeth Padilla sparked the arts collective Visual Resistance to make Ghost Bikes in New York City. The project was inspired by similar efforts in Pittsburgh and St. Louis, where the first bike was created in 2003. By now 460 Ghost Bikes have been created in over 170 towns, including Berlin.

On the website (set up by the NYC Street Memorial Project) you can find a list and a map with all the bikes - although I have to say that several listed on the map were not actually there (anymore?).

Ghost Bike for Julian Miller

Bike riding has been part of my life since I was 4 years old. One of my happiest memories is getting my red bicycle for my 4th birthday. I grew up in the flat countryside of Northern Germany where biking is quite safe and a beautiful mode of transportation and relaxation at the same time.

It's a great way to commute and explore. You move fast enough to get to places - but slow enough to feel connected to the geography you travel through. I especially loved getting to know Berlin on my "Dutch Bike".

Now back in Brooklyn I'm reminded every day how dangerous it is. The bike lanes (if there even are any) are on the streets, mostly just marked by a white line which is often ignored by car and truck drivers. 

Ghost Bike for Jasmine Herron
NYC has an atmosphere where everyone seems in a hurry and everyone seems to look out just for themselves. But we can't live like that. We have to look out for one another and we have to make the streets safer for cyclists, pedestrians and also motorcyclists and drivers.

The haunting song featured in this video is "The Same Way - Part 3" by the Italian band Spleenveil.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Music Monday: Girl Walk with Girl Talk

Awesome music dance viral video new media campaign!!!

Jacob Krupnick directed the epic video series "Girl Walk // All Day", which follows three dancers throughout New York City as they dance along to the entire Girl Talk album "All Day".

Girl Talk aka Greg Michael Gillis specializes in mash-ups and sampling and making everybody dance. I've seen him perform live and thousands dancing along.

This wonderfully executed modern dance adventure through New York City seems like a perfect match for his songs (excpet that he's not from New York). Apparently he didn't have anything to do with this production. Funds for this creative endeavor were raised via online fundraising site Kickstarter.

The album "All Day" can be downloaded for free from the website of record label Illegal Art. 

Personally I was quite charmed to discover the kick-ass charismatic dancer who many might recognize from the TV show "Good Wife" (and others from the All Day precurser: girl dancing on Staten Island Ferry): Anne Marson.

The online magazine Gothamist releases new episodes every Tuesday and Friday.

Below are the trailer and the first four episodes.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Alternative version of "Riding across the Brooklyn Bridge" - In A Brooklyn Minute (Week 84)

The technical difference is in the codec used within FCP, which was ProRes instead of h.264. Then in the export I chose high quality for this one (h.264) and just best quality (h.264) for the official one.

The visual difference: the official one almost looks like an impressionistic stop-motion video while this one is closer to a realistic video with regular motion. Both videos are time-lapse videos.

The same is the great song "Bruce Lee" by Jason Matherne.

Please read the posting of the original video for more information and links. 

Biking across Brooklyn Bridge

Riding across the Brooklyn Bridge - In A Brooklyn Minute (Week 84)

On Monday late afternoon I rode my bike across the Brooklyn Bridge and filmed it with a GoPro for you.

Instead of the usual smooth moving GoPro look I messed with the footage until it got this "impressionist painting stop-animation" effect.

"Riding across the Brooklyn Bridge" - In A Brooklyn Minute (Week 84) from Luci Westphal on Vimeo.

First of all: the Brooklyn Bridge is still under construction. So sped up that footage 10x times - while the other parts before and after the construction are only 3x my biking speed.

Before I get to the technical stuff: I LOVE the Brooklyn Bridge. I love walking across it, riding on it (if no one steps into the bike lane in front of me), driving over it, stopping for a drink, taking photos, taking a boat under it, gazing at it from Brooklyn or from Manhattan. I think walking across it is the absolute "must do" for anyone visiting NYC. It's a great way to approach the city - but also a lovely way to leave the noise and claustrophobia and people of Manhattan behind and cherish the wide open space on your way to Brooklyn.

The driving song is "Bruce Lee" by Jason Matherne.

Thank you to Sanity Productions for lending me the camera! 

Now the techie stuff:

When I first looked at my footage the result was nothing like I expected. It was a bit bouncy and had some issues with the rolling shutter.

The GoPro was strapped to the handlebars of my bike. And the actual bridge part is made of planks of wood. The resulting footage is tremendously jerky. Not to mention that my handlebars swerve back and forth as I fight my way up the incline.

Jerkiness wouldn't have been the worst but due to the CMOS rolling shutter situation, the image keeps getting elongated and shrunk with every bump which creates a jello or wobble effect. It's where this becomes surreal.

Using a stabilization filter in iMovie (before bringing the footage back into FCP for editing) made everything blurrier.

When I exported the h.264 timeline as is in a high quality this strange stop-motion effect was created.
When I first converted the timeline to ProRes before exporting at best quality, it becomes a smoother forward motion, but with a lot of jitters.

Finally the decision was made (thanks Scott for your input!!!) to upload the low-quality happy accident "impressionist painting stop-animation" version as the official video. I will upload the other "higher quality" version as an alternative as well. [coming later today]

Maybe in the future (when that stupid construction is gone) I will experiment with the GoPro further and try the chest mount or other frame rates.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

"In A Berlin Minute" in Cyprus

Audience at Moving Silence event

This past weekend ten of my "In A Berlin Minute" videos were screened in Nicosia, Cyprus, as part of the 3rd X-Dream Festival. The videos were accompanied by live music written and performed by Marco Brosolo, who is one of the organizers of Moving Silence. Last week I already wrote a post about these organizations: Moving Silence in Cyprus.

Today I want to share the photos Marco sent me from the event - and the ten videos he chose with the titles he gave for each pair.  

Marco plays along with Holocaust Memorial video

I cannot express how amazing and also surreal it is to see a photo of my video with a guy in front of it playing live music - and I wasn't there to watch it and applaud him (actually I've never even met Marco).

Expats: German in the USA - Italian in Germany

Now I'm hoping Moving Silence can come to New York City. Maybe something for the NYC Goethe Institute...?

Moving Silence

Marco Brosolo wrote the following in the libretto: "I choose 10 from the 70 videos about Berlin which Luci Westphal did with the intention and hope to show the controversial nature of this fantastic city I'm living in and I felt in love with…"

Thank you, Marco, for choosing my videos for this fascinating performance!

1 - a cold warming-up to cool down

2 - action - reaction - rebound

3 - grey and green

4 - one of the many double-faces

5 - topsy-turvey


Monday, December 5, 2011

Music Monday: "Stay Gold" - The Big Pink

The Big Pink

With "Stay Gold" The Big Pink made another great sing-along-while-driving-into-the-unknown song - or you can just sing or dance to it - and all that with a wonderful meaning.

The "Stay Gold" expression is one that I take to heart. I understand it to mean "stay young-at-heart, fresh, pure, open-minded and follow your dreams" - basically don't let the rotten world bring you down and change you.

It comes from "The Outsiders" written by S.E. Hinton in which the character Ponyboy recites to Johnny the poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay" by Robert Frost.

Ponyboy recites the poem in the 1983 movie directed by Francis Ford Copolla,

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Later on Ponyboy finds a note from Johnny explaining why he, Johnny, will die proudly after saving the kids from the home, and requesting for Ponyboy to "stay gold".

For various reasons I'd like to dedicate this song to Elke, my dad (Happy Birthday) and Marilyn! 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Relaxing Beach - In A Brooklyn Minute (Week 83)

This relaxing beach is (yet again) not in Brooklyn, but Vilano Beach near St. Augustine in North Florida.

Florida is where I went for Thanksgiving (coming straight from that trip to Atlanta, where I filmed the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial) and this beach is where Scott and I had a few minutes of just relaxing. Actually I obviously did some filming - but in a relaxed manner.

The song is  called "Butt Naked" - written and performed by my talented Florida friend Jason Matherne.

Vilano Beach, Florida

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Moving Silence in Cyprus

I sure wish I could be in Cyprus this week so I could attend a special Moving Silence screening and concert that will include 10 of my "In A Berlin Minute" videos!

Moving Silence was started by Marco Brosolo, Matthias Fritsch and Federico Bassetti to create events that connect cinematography with live music and new technology - with an emphasis of working with people of different cultural backgrounds. They've organized several events throughout Europe already.
From the "Moving Silence" website: 

As part of the 3rd X-Dream Festival, ARTos foundation in collaboration with Goethe Institut present for the first time in Cyprus the Berlin based platform 'Moving Silence' and they organise a special two days event on contemporary "silent" moving image and experimental sound.

On Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd of December 2011, musicians from Berlin, Nicosia and Athens will meet in ARTos foundation in order to perform live soundtracks for  "silent" video and film works by contemporary creators.

I feel very honored that Marco Brosolo chose my videos for this special presentation. It's a huge compliment if someone else is inspired by your work. 
Since a lot of my videos are edited to music, I would think that their rhythm should work out with other music. 

Marco has come up with a really cool concept of always juxtaposing two videos at a time under one theme, e.g "action-reaction" (Wall Victims + Berlin Street Art 2011) and "underneath & above" (U8 + 360 Berlin From Above). 

I  really wish I could be there to hear Marco perform live and to experience this concert movie screening!  

By the way, I've never actually met Marco even though we both lived in Berlin at the same time. This is just another example of how cool it is to share your work online where other people can discover it and you can meet virtually.