documentary

The Art of Listening

This is a documentary about making music, from instrument making to playing to mixing, mastering, and listening. It was sponsored by Sony although there are only a few plugs in it for Sony gear, the rest is a variety of musicians and music producers talking about how they make and share music. It’s about an hour and 14 minutes long.

The comparison to photography is interesting:

Music: one needs a great song, well played on a decent instrument, well recorded and mastered and played on a decent audio player to channel what the musician laid down.

Photography: one needs a great image, well recorded with decent equipment, well processed and seen on a decent screen or a decent print to channel what the photographer saw and recorded.

In the photography world I like to think of Ansel Adams: he chose great subject matter (Yosemite), used a view camera (big negative, high definition), stopped down to small apertures (more detail), used filters (to get the dramatic look he wanted), and he took great care in developing his negatives and making his prints. If you’ve ever seen a large Ansel Adams print, in person, it’s a thing of wonder and you can feel that care in the print, very much like these musicians and producers talking about the care they take in making and sharing music.

[via Uncrate]

Lunch atop Rockefeller Center

The reason this particular construction project was so well documented was that it was Rockefeller Center.

No one, not even the photographers, is wearing safety equipment.

The subjects and the photographer are unknown, but the photo is one of the most iconic of all time. With Central Park in the background, 11 men casually have lunch 800 feet above Manhattan. In this short piece by Time Magazine, archivist Christine Rouselle explores the story behind this historic image.

[via Devour]

Ueno San

My friend and neighbor Christine Owen apprenticed in Japan with this potter, Ueno San. This process especially the wood fire piece of the video, is what my neighbor Joy Brown does every year in her anagama kiln in Kent, the next town west of me. Both Christine and I not only put pieces in her fires (the kiln is huge), we help fire it. The kiln takes a week to load, a week to fire, and a week to cool.

This is a terrific process video on ceramics in general and what the Japanese tradition looks like in particular.

The Last Steps on the Moon

Apollo 17 was the last manned mission to the moon in NASA’s Apollo program. It took place in 1972. No doubt we’ll go again at some point although at the moment its tough to imagine any single country or the world getting focussed enough to make it happen.

Some of us are old enough to remember the Mercury program and John Glenn orbiting the earth, the Gemini program and various astronauts doing the first space walks, and then Apollo and the moon landings. All of that was over in 1972, and then we had Skylab, the Space Shuttle, and now the International Space Station.

This entire arc of space exploration is incredible but nothing has caught my imagination like the moon landings. I’ll never forget Walter Cronkite taking his glasses off and looking awestruck as he announced that Neil Armstrong was on the moon. This video brings some of that feeling back. Zoom it out, its well worth it.

[via Devour]

The Next Rembrandt

This is fascinating. The Next Rembrandt is a project that deconstructed Rembrandt van Rijn’s paintings and used the data to construct a new painting.

Reminds me of the fascinating documentary: Tim’s Vermeer about Tim Jenison’s attempt(s) to copy a particular Johannes Vermeer painting.

Interesting that both of these guys were Dutch artists and both of them are famous for their depiction of light.

[via Devour]

Andrew Wiles and Fermat’s Last Theorem

I saw this headline this morning:

Professor Who Solved Fermat’s Last Theorem Wins Math’s Abel Prize

I’m not a mathematician (more of a mathephobe) but this is a fascinating story and years ago PBS’s Nova repackaged a BBC documentary on Andrew Wiles in a piece called “The Proof” which I have on VHS tape but which, no doubt because of licensing issues with BBS, never got transferred to DVD and sold through the PBS web site.

The entire video is embedded below and it’s simply amazing, watch it even if you’re not into mathematics, it’s just a fantastic story with great characters.

I love the interview with the Japanese mathematician Goro Shimura where he describes his late friend and partner, Yutaka Taniyama (around 11:15 in):

“Taniyama was not a very careful person as a mathematician. He made a lot of mistakes, but… he made mistakes in a good direction, so eventually he got right answers. I tried to imitate him but I found out it is very difficult to make good mistakes.”

This video is a treasure and I hope Nova and BBC make it available as a remastered DVD and/or a downloadable video.

Mike Nichols, an American Master

Mike Nichols, an American Master

This is a brilliant biographical documentary on the late director Mike Nichols done by his early standup improv partner, Elaine May.

Mike Nichols is best known as both a theater and movie director and he’s directed some incredible movies including: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf (his first film), The Graduate, Silkwood, Heartburn, Biloxi Blues, Working Girl, Postcards from the Edge, Regarding Henry, The Birdcage, Charlie Wilson’s War, and many more.

The American Masters documentary is based in part on an interview Nichols did with the producer Julian Schlossberg where Nichols tells the story of his life. May has taken the interview and added all of the relevant contextual information including interviews with many of the people Nichols knew and worked with, period photographs and video, and much more. It’s an incredible story of an incredible life and even if you’ve never seen his films or plays, my guess is you’ll find it fascinating.

This show aired on PBS in the United States January 30th (last night) and you can watch the entire thing here on the web at the above link. The web video will expire on February 27 so I highly recommend watching it soon. I’m not sure how and where this video will be available in the future.

Here’s a small tidbit on the making of the documentary: Filmmaker Interview with Producer Julian Schlossberg.

Ringo Starr: Photographer

Very nice piece by Rolling Stone on Ring Starr’s photography. His images of The Beatles are fantastic and worth watching this or alone.

The Beatles… wow, what a group. And, if you never saw the Concert for George at Royal Albert Hall, I highly recommend it. It’s a tribute to George Harrison a year after his death with an incredible cast of characters. I’m amazed the full concert is now on YouTube.

Update: I forgot to add a link to Ringo’s book up at Amazon: Photograph. Apple also has this book in the iBooks bookstore: Photograph. $36 at Amazon for the hardback, $9 from Apple on the iBook store made for iPad. I just bought the iPad version. It’s big, downloading now.

[via PetaPixel]

Pedro E. Guerrero: A Photographer’s Journey

Pedro E. Guerrero: A Photographer’s Journey

I thought I could embed it but it didn’t work, just follow the link above to see the full video on the PBS site.

This is a brilliant American Masters documentary on the photographer Pedro E. Guerrero who worked with Frank Lloyd Wright, Alexander Calder, Louise Nevelson and other artists as well as on Madison Avenue doing interior architectural photography for the advertising world.

It’s an hour long so give yourself time to watch it or, keep track of the time code so you can watch it in shorter segments and get back to the place you left off.

Everybody Street

Everybody Street from Alldayeveryday on Vimeo.

I blogged about this (before) but it can now be streamed from vimeo (link below) so I thought I’d post it again. I just bought it, will watch tonight.

Everybody Street is a documentary on New York Street photography by Cheryl Dunn.

“Everybody Street” illuminates the lives and work of New York’s iconic street photographers and the incomparable city that has inspired them for decades. The documentary pays tribute to the spirit of street photography through a cinematic exploration of New York City, and captures the visceral rush, singular perseverance and at times immediate danger customary to these artists.

Covering nine decades of street photography, “Everybody Street” explores the careers and influences of many notable photographers––a number of whom have never been documented, featuring: Bruce Davidson, Elliott Erwitt, Jill Freedman, Bruce Gilden, Joel Meyerowitz, Rebecca Lepkoff, Mary Ellen Mark, Jeff Mermelstein, Clayton Patterson, Ricky Powell, Jamel Shabazz, Martha Cooper, and Boogie, with historians Max Kozloff and Luc Sante.

Stream or buy Everybody Street at Vimeo on demand.