John DeVeaux – Portfolio

May 17, 2009

To download a high-res PDF version of my portfolio, please click the link below (17 MB in size):

http://www.ecuad.ca/~jdeveaux/john_deveaux_portfolio.pdf

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John DeVeaux - Portfolio

About the Artist

John DeVeaux is a third year Film, Video and Integrated Media student at the Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Classifying himself as a Digital Artist with future aspirations to be an accomplished professional in either the film or video game industry, his work focuses on combining a wide range of media including crowd sourcing, data capture, film/video, installation, storytelling and internet blogging.

Artist Statement

clean   [kleen] -er, -est, adverb,  -er, -est, verb –adjective
1. characterized by a fresh, wholesome quality: the clean smell of pine.
2. free from all writing or marking: a clean sheet of paper.
3. complete; unqualified: a clean break with tradition.
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sim·ple   [sim-puhl] -pler, -plest, noun –adjective
1. easy to understand, deal with, use, etc.: a simple matter; simple tools.
2. not elaborate or artificial: a simple style.
3. not ornate or luxurious: a simple gown.
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ef·fec·tive   [i-fek-tiv] –adjective
1. producing the intended or expected result: effective steps toward peace.
2. creating a deep or vivid impression; striking: an effective photograph.
3. able to accomplish a purpose: an efficient secretary.
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de·sign   [di-zahyn] –verb (used with object)
1. to plan the form and structure of: to design a new bridge.
2. the combination of details or features of a picture, building, etc.: the design on a bracelet.
3. to intend for a definite purpose: a scholarship designed for foreign students.

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World of Warcraft: The Burning Addiction
Research Project – ECUAD Creative Process 2007

World of Warcraft: The Burning Addiction

For this project, I wanted to focus on what extent people would spend time from their real lives on their virtual ones. I then went to the Alcoholics Anonymous website and took their manifesto of questions that they ask potential addicts (ie: Have you ever missed school or work due to alcohol?) and then remixed the questions to ask my fellow Warcraft players (ie: Have you ever missed school or work due to Warcraft?) and was amazed at how honest their responses were.

Click the link below to download the full project PDF and explore the addictive qualities of video games in greater detail (1 MB in size):

http://www.ecuad.ca/~jdeveaux/addiction/addiction_print.pdf

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World of Warcraft: Haikus
Video Editing and Production – ECUAD Video Art 2009

This Video Art project required us to use found footage and splice it together within the theme of a haiku and I chose to focus again on World of Warcraft. Several different scenes from official game play trailers were used along with my own poem sequences in order to create its own unique storyline set to a haunting yet beautiful soundtrack.

I also received some additional publicity from a major World of Warcraft fan blog and as a result, have now had over 6,000 views on YouTube:

http://www.wowinsider.com/2009/05/12/wow-moviewatch-world-of-warcraft-haikus/

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Medal of Honor: European Assault
Poster Design – ECUAD Design Essentials 2005

Medal of Honor: European Assualt

With creative control to choose our own subject matter, I decided to create this poster for the soon to be released add-on of the popular Medal of Honor video game using World War II imagery and incorporating pertinent graphics and typeface layouts, with the centerpiece being this iconic image of the D-Day landing.

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Emily Carr Foundation Exhibition
Poster Design – ECUAD Digital Basics 2008

Emily Carr University Foundation Exhibition

In my Digital Basics course, our instructor challenged us to create our own poster design that would be submitted for that year’s Foundation Exhibition. The design that I chose focused on a clean and precise grid layout, with the typeface echoing this overall theme as well.

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Read Between the Lies
Poster Design – ECUAD Visual Communication 2008

Read Between the Lies

With an overall political theme required for this project for my Visual Communications course, I decided to focus on the ongoing tragedy occurring in Iraq. I wanted my critique to be bold and biting, yet symbolic at the same time by using George W. Bush’s own words being contradicted by documented facts on the ground within the layout of the American flag.

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The Starlight Express
Poster Design – ECUAD Design Essentials 2005

The Starlight Express

One of the first poster design projects that I worked on in the Design Essentials program at ECUAD and BCIT, I wanted the overall theme to reflect a bygone age in which the Royal Hudson train serviced passengers from Vancouver to Squamish. This was all tied in with the upcoming 2010 Winter Olympics along with using Futura as the typeface.

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International Campaign to Ban Landmines
Layout Design – ECUAD Design Essentials 2005

International Campaign to Ban Landmines

This layout design was created to reflect on the tragedy that landmines cause in third world countries by mirroring two family units. Where the Nuclear Family is shown with the requisite two parents and two children, the Landmine Family is shown with obvious limbs missing and the daughter being replaced by a tombstone due to a landmine explosion.

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Tribeca Film Festival
Layout Design – ECUAD Design Essentials 2005

Tribeca Film Festival

Tribeca Film Festival

Utilizing still images from the films playing in that year’s festival, a double-sided handbook spread was made highlighting film screenings and appearances in a clean and elegant design.

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Phoenix Rising v1.0
3D Design – ECUAD Design One 2007

Phoenix Rising v1.0

These sculptures were created for my Design One class as the project called for us to construct new and unique 3D sculptures by combining a singular object in a repetitive fashion so that the original object would get lost in the sum of the whole of the new piece. Version 1.0 is a freestanding structure and able to balance on the tips of plastic spoons.

Phoenix Rising v2.0
3D Design – ECUAD Design One 2007

Phoenix Rising v2.0

Version 2.0 was created as an alternative and two interpretations that I have with this sculpture are that of a Phoenix Rising out of flames (hence the title of the pieces) or of a frame-by-frame rotation of a high board diver tucking in as he falls to the water below.

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OBSCENE
Flipbook – ECUAD Digital and Interactive Arts 2008

OBSCENE

Wanting to play on my audience’s moral standards, this flipbook showcased a woman performing an otherwise overtly sexualized activity, yet because I enlarged and hyper pixilated the original video footage, the viewer is not able to immediately ascertain what they are viewing. On initial viewing, they may in fact realize what they are seeing, but due to their personal embarrassment, may not give in to such puerile thoughts.

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HDR Porteau Cove
HDR Photography – ECUAD Digital and Interactive Arts 2009

HDR Porteau Cove

On a very windy and cold January afternoon, my girlfriend and I drove up to Whistler from Vancouver and stopped briefly at the Provincial Park in Porteau Cove where I wanted to capture the incredible whitecap waves and this beautiful island in the distance. I took my original shot into Photoshop and digitally manipulated it in order to create this much richer and vibrant image.

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Oppositions
Design Exploration – ECUAD Design One 2007

Oppositions

Playing around in Illustrator for one of my Design One projects in 2007, I became transfixed in creating artificial 3D perspective illustrations on a digital 2D plane that draws the viewer in to mesmerize and make them dizzy.

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Compression
Typography Exploration – ECUAD Visual Communication 2008

Compression

For this typography exploration, I decided on taking words at their literal meaning and creating abstract illustrations out of the words themselves. Compression being a thematically delicious word to utilize in such a fashion, the word is repeated and imploded without end into itself.

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Poster Girl
Illustrator Project – ECUAD Design Essentials 2005

Poster Girl

One of my first major digital illustrations, this image has always been a favorite of mine and its title harkens back to the process of origination by using the Posterize tool in Photoshop to create the initial blueprint and then cleaning it all up within Illustrator.

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ROLEX Submariner
Illustrator Project – ECUAD Design Essentials 2005

ROLEX Submariner

Another of my digital illustrations, I spent over 20 hours on this perfecting every detail in order to match the precision of the original watch itself. Created entirely in Illustrator, this illustration could substitute for the original any day.

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Idris Salih Photography
Website Design, Identity, Logo 2005

IDRIS SALIH Photography

IDRIS SALIH Photography

One of my freelance web design clients back in 2005, I was originally hired to just design and produce his portfolio site, but after seeing the logo and identity that he had been using, I challenged myself to provide him with a new one which would reflect the high contrast and starkness that is representational of his b/w portraiture photography and he loved it.

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John Fortunato Photography
Website Design 2005

John Fortunato Photography

Another of my freelance web design clients from a few years back, his work reflected a lot of what my design philosophy entails as well: clean + simple + elegant = design. With that in mind, I decided to use a clean palette with a lot of white space and simple, yet intuitive navigation, in order to allow the photographs to stand out and have greater impact on the viewer.

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The Canadian Oil Boom – National Geographic Magazine

February 25, 2009
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Very relevant piece done by National Geographic, even more so after going to the Surrey Art Gallery and listening to Edward Burtynsky’s lecture on his photographic work done at the Oil Sands in northern Alberta…
– FlashAddict

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Scraping Bottom

Once considered too expensive, as well as too damaging to the land, exploitation of Alverta’s oil sands is now a gamble worth billions.
By Robert Kunzig
Photographs by Peter Essick

oil_sands_industry
Dust hangs in the sunset sky above the Suncor Millennium mine, an open-pit north of Fort McMurray, Alberta. Canada’s oil sands are layers of sticky, tarlike bitumen mixed with sand, clay, and water. Around a hundred feet of soil must be stripped off to reach many deposits.

One day in 1963, when Jim Boucher was seven, he was out working the trap­line with his grandfather a few miles south of the Fort McKay First Nation reserve on the Athabasca River in northern Alberta. The country there is wet, rolling fen, dotted with lakes, dissected by streams, and draped in a cover of skinny, stunted trees—it’s part of the boreal forest that sweeps right across Canada, covering more than a third of the country. In 1963 that forest was still mostly untouched. The government had not yet built a gravel road into Fort McKay; you got there by boat or in the winter by dogsled. The Chipewyan and Cree Indians there—Boucher is a Chipewyan—were largely cut off from the outside world. For food they hunted moose and bison; they fished the Athabasca for walleye and whitefish; they gathered cranberries and blueberries. For income they trapped beaver and mink. Fort McKay was a small fur trading post. It had no gas, electricity, telephone, or running water. Those didn’t come until the 1970s and 1980s.

oil_sands_vehicles
Squeezing Sand for Oil
At the bottom of a mine, a giant shovel devours sand and delivers it to trucks like this three-story, four-million-dollar Caterpillar, which muscle up to 400 tons at a time to extraction plants.

In Boucher’s memory, though, the change begins that day in 1963, on the long trail his grandfather used to set his traps, near a place called Mildred Lake. Generations of his ancestors had worked that trapline. “These trails had been here thousands of years,” Boucher said one day last summer, sitting in his spacious and tasteful corner office in Fort McKay. His golf putter stood in one corner; Mozart played softly on the stereo. “And that day, all of a sudden, we came upon this clearing. A huge clearing. There had been no notice. In the 1970s they went in and tore down my grandfather’s cabin—with no notice or discussion.” That was Boucher’s first encounter with the oil sands industry. It’s an industry that has utterly transformed this part of northeastern Alberta in just the past few years, with astonishing speed. Boucher is surrounded by it now and immersed in it himself.

Where the trapline and the cabin once were, and the forest, there is now a large open-pit mine. Here Syncrude, Canada’s largest oil producer, digs bitumen-laced sand from the ground with electric shovels five stories high, then washes the bitumen off the sand with hot water and sometimes caustic soda. Next to the mine, flames flare from the stacks of an “upgrader,” which cracks the tarry bitumen and converts it into Syncrude Sweet Blend, a synthetic crude that travels down a pipeline to refineries in Edmon­ton, Alberta; Ontario, and the United States. Mildred Lake, meanwhile, is now dwarfed by its neighbor, the Mildred Lake Settling Basin, a four-square-mile lake of toxic mine tailings. The sand dike that contains it is by volume one of the largest dams in the world.

Nor is Syncrude alone. Within a 20-mile radius of Boucher’s office are a total of six mines that produce nearly three-quarters of a million barrels of synthetic crude oil a day; and more are in the pipeline. Wherever the bitumen layer lies too deep to be strip-mined, the industry melts it “in situ” with copious amounts of steam, so that it can be pumped to the surface. The industry has spent more than $50 billion on construction during the past decade, including some $20 billion in 2008 alone. Before the collapse in oil prices last fall, it was forecasting another $100 billion over the next few years and a doubling of production by 2015, with most of that oil flowing through new pipelines to the U.S. The economic crisis has put many expansion projects on hold, but it has not diminished the long-term prospects for the oil sands. In mid-November, the International Energy Agency released a report forecasting $120-a-barrel oil in 2030—a price that would more than justify the effort it takes to get oil from oil sands.

Nowhere on Earth is more earth being moved these days than in the Athabasca Valley. To extract each barrel of oil from a surface mine, the industry must first cut down the forest, then remove an average of two tons of peat and dirt that lie above the oil sands layer, then two tons of the sand itself. It must heat several barrels of water to strip the bitumen from the sand and upgrade it, and afterward it discharges contaminated water into tailings ponds like the one near Mildred Lake. They now cover around 50 square miles. Last April some 500 migrating ducks mistook one of those ponds, at a newer Syncrude mine north of Fort McKay, for a hospitable stopover, landed on its oily surface, and died. The incident stirred international attention—Greenpeace broke into the Syncrude facility and hoisted a banner of a skull over the pipe discharging tailings, along with a sign that read “World’s Dirtiest Oil: Stop the Tar Sands.”

oil_sands_waste
Squeezing Sand for Oil
Sand, water, and bitumen residues are finally piped to a tailings pond, where the water is extracted, cleaned, and reused in the mines.

The U.S. imports more oil from Canada than from any other nation, about 19 percent of its total foreign supply, and around half of that now comes from the oil sands. Anything that reduces our dependence on Middle Eastern oil, many Americans would say, is a good thing. But clawing and cooking a barrel of crude from the oil sands emits as much as three times more carbon dioxide than letting one gush from the ground in Saudi Arabia. The oil sands are still a tiny part of the world’s carbon problem—they account for less than a tenth of one percent of global CO2 emissions—but to many environmentalists they are the thin end of the wedge, the first step along a path that could lead to other, even dirtier sources of oil: producing it from oil shale or coal. “Oil sands represent a decision point for North America and the world,” says Simon Dyer of the Pembina Institute, a moderate and widely respected Canadian environmental group. “Are we going to get serious about alternative energy, or are we going to go down the unconventional-oil track? The fact that we’re willing to move four tons of earth for a single barrel really shows that the world is running out of easy oil.”

That thirsty world has come crashing in on Fort McKay. Yet Jim Boucher’s view of it, from an elegant new building at the entrance to the besieged little village, contains more shades of gray than you might expect. “The choice we make is a difficult one,” Boucher said when I visited him last summer. For a long time the First Nation tried to fight the oil sands industry, with little success. Now, Boucher said, “we’re trying to develop the community’s capacity to take advantage of the opportunity.” Boucher presides not only over this First Nation, as chief, but also over the Fort McKay Group of Companies, a community-owned business that provides services to the oil sands industry and brought in $85 million in 2007. Unemployment is under 5 percent in the village, and it has a health clinic, a youth center, and a hundred new three-bedroom houses that the community rents to its members for far less than market rates. The First Nation is even thinking of opening its own mine: It owns 8,200 acres of prime oil sands land across the river, right next to the Syncrude mine where the ducks died.

As Boucher was telling me all this, he was picking bits of meat from a smoked whitefish splayed out on his conference table next to a bank of windows that offered a panoramic view of the river. A staff member had delivered the fish in a plastic bag, but Boucher couldn’t say where it had come from. “I can tell you one thing,” he said. “It doesn’t come from the Athabasca.”

Without the river, there would be no oil sands industry. It’s the river that over tens of millions of years has eroded away billions of cubic yards of sediment that once covered the bitumen, thereby bringing it within reach of shovels—and in some places all the way to the surface. On a hot summer day along the Athabasca, near Fort McKay for example, bitumen oozes from the riverbank and casts an oily sheen on the water. Early fur traders reported seeing the stuff and watching natives use it to caulk their canoes. At room temperature, bitumen is like molasses, and below 50°F or so it is hard as a hockey puck, as Canadians invariably put it. Once upon a time, though, it was light crude, the same liquid that oil companies have been pumping from deep traps in southern Alberta for nearly a century. Tens of millions of years ago, geologists think, a large volume of that oil was pushed northeastward, perhaps by the rise of the Rocky Mountains. In the process it also migrated upward, along sloping layers of sediment, until eventually it reached depths shallow and cool enough for bacteria to thrive. Those bacteria degraded the oil to bitumen.

oil_sands_fish

Ronnie Campbell hauls whitefish from Lake Athabasca, downriver from Fort McMurray, to use as feed for his sled dogs. Locals say their catches are often covered in unusual red spots, and many no longer eat lake fish. While the cause of the spots is unclear, some believe toxic chemicals, such as those released during bitumen production, are leaching into Alberta’s rivers and lakes.

The Alberta government estimates that the province’s three main oil sands deposits, of which the Athabasca one is the largest, contain 173 billion barrels of oil that are economically recoverable today. “The size of that, on the world stage—it’s massive,” says Rick George, CEO of Suncor, which opened the first mine on the Athabasca River in 1967. In 2003, when the Oil & Gas Journal added the Alberta oil sands to its list of proven reserves, it immediately propelled Canada to second place, behind Saudi Arabia, among oil-producing nations. The proven reserves in the oil sands are eight times those of the entire U.S. “And that number will do nothing but go up,” says George. The Alberta Energy Resources and Conservation Board estimates that more than 300 billion barrels may one day be recoverable from the oil sands; it puts the total size of the deposit at 1.7 trillion barrels.

Getting oil from oil sands is simple but not easy. The giant electric shovels that rule the mines have hardened steel teeth that each weigh a ton, and as those teeth claw into the abrasive black sand 24/7, 365 days a year, they wear down every day or two; a welder then plays dentist to the dinosaurs, giving them new crowns. The dump trucks that rumble around the mine, hauling 400-ton loads from the shovels to a rock crusher, burn 50 gallons of diesel fuel an hour; it takes a forklift to change their tires, which wear out in six months. And every day in the Athabasca Valley, more than a million tons of sand emerges from such crushers and is mixed with more than 200,000 tons of water that must be heated, typically to 175°F, to wash out the gluey bitumen. At the upgraders, the bitumen gets heated again, to about 900°F, and compressed to more than 100 atmospheres—that’s what it takes to crack the complex molecules and either subtract carbon or add back the hydrogen the bacteria removed ages ago. That’s what it takes to make the light hydrocarbons we need to fill our gas tanks. It takes a stupendous amount of energy. In situ extraction, which is the only way to get at around 80 percent of those 173 billion barrels, can use up to twice as much energy as mining, because it requires so much steam.

Most of the energy to heat the water or make steam comes from burning natural gas, which also supplies the hydrogen for upgrading. Precisely because it is hydrogen rich and mostly free of impurities, natural gas is the cleanest burning fossil fuel, the one that puts the least amount of carbon and other pollutants into the atmosphere. Critics thus say the oil sands industry is wasting the cleanest fuel to make the dirtiest—that it turns gold into lead. The argument makes environmental but not economic sense, says David Keith, a physicist and energy expert at the University of Calgary. Each barrel of synthetic crude contains about five times more energy than the natural gas used to make it, and in much more valuable liquid form. “In economic terms it’s a slam dunk,” says Keith. “This whole thing about turning gold into lead—it’s the other way around. The gold in our society is liquid transportation fuels.”

oil_sands_boreal_forest
Beneath a green sweep of fen and forest in northern Alberta lies a promise of wealth—vast layers of hydrocarbons that can be refined into petroleum products like gasoline. Undisturbed until now, these trees may soon fall: This land has already been staked out by prospectors.

Most of the carbon emissions from such fuels comes from the tailpipes of the cars that burn them; on a “wells-to-wheels” basis, the oil sands are only 15 to 40 percent dirtier than conventional oil. But the heavier carbon footprint remains an environmental—and public relations—disadvantage. Last June Alberta’s premier, Ed Stelmach, announced a plan to deal with the extra emissions. The province, he said, will spend over $1.5 billion to develop the technology for capturing carbon dioxide and storing it underground—a strategy touted for years as a solution to climate change. By 2015 Alberta is hoping to capture five million tons of CO2 a year from bitumen upgraders as well as from coal-fired power plants, which even in Alberta, to say nothing of the rest of the world, are a far larger source of CO2 than the oil sands. By 2020, according to the plan, the province’s carbon emissions will level off, and by 2050 they will decline to 15 percent below their 2005 levels. That is far less of a cut than scientists say is necessary. But it is more than the U.S. government, say, has committed to in a credible way.

One thing Stelmach has consistently refused to do is “touch the brake” on the oil sands boom. The boom has been gold for the provincial as well as the national economy; the town of Fort McMurray, south of the mines, is awash in Newfoundlanders and Nova Scotians fleeing unemployment in their own provinces. The provincial government has been collecting around a third of its revenue from lease sales and royalties on fossil fuel extraction, including oil sands—it was expecting to get nearly half this year, or $19 billion, but the collapse in oil prices since the summer has dropped that estimate to about $12 billion. Albertans are bitterly familiar with the boom-and-bust cycle; the last time oil prices collapsed, in the 1980s, the provincial economy didn’t recover for a decade. The oil sands cover an area the size of North Carolina, and the provincial government has already leased around half that, including all 1,356 square miles that are minable. It has yet to turn down an application to develop one of those leases, on environmental or any other grounds.

From a helicopter it’s easy to see the indus­try’s impact on the Athabasca Valley. Within minutes of lifting off from Fort McMurray, heading north along the east bank of the river, you pass over Suncor’s Millennium mine—the company’s leases extend practically to the town. On a day with a bit of wind, dust plumes billowing off the wheels and the loads of the dump trucks coalesce into a single enormous cloud that obscures large parts of the mine pit and spills over its lip. To the north, beyond a small expanse of intact forest, a similar cloud rises from the next pit, Suncor’s Steepbank mine, and beyond that lie two more, and across the river two more. One evening last July the clouds had merged into a band of dust sweeping west across the devastated landscape. It was being sucked into the updraft of a storm cloud. In the distance steam and smoke and gas flames belched from the stacks of the Syncrude and Suncor upgraders—”dark satanic mills” inevitably come to mind, but they’re a riveting sight all the same. From many miles away, you could smell the tarry stench. It stings your lungs when you get close enough.

picture-9

On the banks of the Athabasca River, Suncor’s upgrader plants refined an average of 235,000 barrels of petroleum products a day in 2008. A narrow dike separates the river from ponds that hold water used during the industrial process, which will be cleaned before being reused.

From the air, however, the mines fall away quickly. Skimming low over the river, startling a young moose that was fording a narrow channel, a government biologist named Preston McEachern and I veered northwest toward the Birch Mountains, over vast expanses of scarcely disturbed forest. The Canadian boreal forest covers two million square miles, of which around 75 percent remains undeveloped. The oil sands mines have so far converted over 150 square miles—a hundredth of a percent of the total area—into dust, dirt, and tailings ponds. Expansion of in situ extraction could affect a much larger area. At Suncor’s Firebag facility, northeast of the Millennium mine, the forest has not been razed, but it has been dissected by roads and pipelines that service a checkerboard of large clearings, in each of which Suncor extracts deeply buried bitumen through a cluster of wells. Environmentalists and wildlife biolo­gists worry that the widening fragmentation of the forest, by timber as well as mineral companies, endangers the woodland caribou and other animals. “The boreal forest as we know it could be gone in a generation without major policy changes,” says Steve Kallick, director of the Pew Boreal Campaign, which aims to protect 50 percent of the forest.

McEachern, who works for Alberta Environment, a provincial agency, says the tailings ponds are his top concern. The mines dump waste­water in the ponds, he explains, because they are not allowed to dump waste into the Athabasca, and because they need to reuse the water. As the thick, brown slurry gushes from the discharge pipes, the sand quickly settles out, building the dike that retains the pond; the residual bitumen floats to the top. The fine clay and silt particles, though, take several years to settle, and when they do, they produce a yogurt-like goop—the technical term is “mature fine tailings”—that is contaminated with toxic chemicals such as naphthenic acid and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and would take centuries to dry out on its own. Under the terms of their licenses, the mines are required to reclaim it somehow, but they have been missing their deadlines and still have not fully reclaimed a single pond.

In the oldest and most notorious one, Suncor’s Pond 1, the sludge is perched high above the river, held back by a dike of compacted sand that rises more than 300 feet from the valley floor and is studded with pine trees. The dike has leaked in the past, and in 2007 a modeling study done by hydrogeologists at the University of Waterloo estimated that 45,000 gallons a day of contaminated water could be reaching the river. Suncor is now in the process of reclaiming Pond 1, piping some tailings to another pond, and replacing them with gypsum to consolidate the tailings. By 2010, the company says, the surface will be solid enough to plant trees on. Last summer it was still a blot of beige mud streaked with black bitumen and dotted with orange plastic scarecrows that are supposed to dissuade birds from landing and killing themselves.

oil_sands_bird

Floating among mats of leftover bitumen on a thousand-acre tailings pond, a radar device scans for incoming birds. The fake falcon flaps its wings, and predator calls blare to scare off waterfowl that would die if they landed on the surface and their feathers became soaked with sludge.

The Alberta government asserts that the river is not being contaminated—that anything found in the river or in its delta, at Lake Athabasca, comes from natural bitumen seeps. The river cuts right through the oil sands downstream of the mines, and as our chopper zoomed along a few feet above it, McEachern pointed out several places where the riverbank was black and the water oily. “There is an increase in a lot of metals as you move downstream,” he said. “That’s natural—it’s weathering of the geology. There’s mercury in the fish up at Lake Athabasca—we’ve had an advisory there since the 1990s. There are PAHs in the sediments in the delta. They’re there because the river has eroded through the oil sands.”

Independent scientists, to say nothing of people who live downstream of the mines in the First Nations’ community of Fort Chipewyan, on Lake Athabasca, are skeptical. “It’s inconceivable that you could move that much tar and have no effect,” says Peter Hodson, a fish toxicologist at Queen’s University in Ontario. An Environment Canada study did in fact show an effect on fish in the Steepbank River, which flows past a Suncor mine into the Athabasca. Fish near the mine, Gerald Tetreault and his colleagues found when they caught some in 1999 and 2000, showed five times more activity of a liver enzyme that breaks down toxins—a widely used measure of exposure to pollutants—as did fish near a natural bitumen seep on the Steepbank.

“The thing that angers me,” says David Schindler, “is that there’s been no concerted effort to find out where the truth lies.”

Schindler, an ecologist at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, was talking about whether people in Fort Chipewyan have already been killed by pollution from the oil sands. In 2006 John O’Connor, a family physician who flew in weekly to treat patients at the health clinic in Fort Chip, told a radio interviewer that he had in recent years seen five cases of cholangiocarcinoma—a cancer of the bile duct that normally strikes one in 100,000 people. Fort Chip has a population of around 1,000; statistically it was unlikely to have even one case. O’Connor hadn’t managed to interest health authorities in the cancer cluster, but the radio interview drew wide attention to the story. “Suddenly it was everywhere,” he says. “It just exploded.”

Two of O’Connor’s five cases, he says, had been confirmed by tissue biopsy; the other three patients had shown the same symptoms but had died before they could be biopsied. (Cholan­giocarcinoma can be confused on CT scans with more common cancers such as liver or pancreatic cancer.) “There is no evidence of elevated cancer rates in the community,” Howard May, a spokesperson for Alberta Health, wrote in an email last September. But the agency, he said, was nonetheless conducting a more complete investigation—this time actually examining the medical records from Fort Chip—to try to quiet a controversy that was now two years old.

One winter night when Jim Boucher was a young boy, around the time the oil sands industry came to his forest, he was returning alone by dogsled to his grandparents’ cabin from an errand in Fort McKay. It was a journey of 20 miles or so, and the temperature was minus 4°F. In the moonlight Boucher spotted a flock of ptarmigan, white birds in the snow. He killed around 50, loaded them on the dogsled, and brought them home. Four decades later, sitting in his chief-executive office in white chinos and a white Adidas sport shirt, he remembers the pride on his grandmother’s face that night. “That was a different spiritual world,” Boucher says. “I saw that world continuing forever.” He tells the story now when asked about the future of the oil sands and his people’s place in it.

A poll conducted by the Pembina Institute in 2007 found that 71 percent of Albertans favored an idea their government has always rejected out of hand: a moratorium on new oil sands projects until environmental concerns can be resolved. “It’s my belief that when government attempts to manipulate the free market, bad things happen,” Premier Stelmach told a gathering of oil industry executives that year. “The free-market system will solve this.”

But the free market does not consider the effects of the mines on the river or the forest, or on the people who live there, unless it is forced to. Nor, left to itself, will it consider the effects of the oil sands on climate. Jim Boucher has collaborated with the oil sands industry in order to build a new economy for his people, to replace the one they lost, to provide a new future for kids who no longer hunt ptarmigan in the moonlight. But he is aware of the trade-offs. “It’s a struggle to balance the needs of today and tomorrow when you look at the environment we’re going to live in,” he says. In northern Alberta the question of how to strike that balance has been left to the free market, and its answer has been to forget about tomorrow. Tomorrow is not its job.

oil_sands_grave

In the small town of Fort Chipewyan, Emma Michael stands beside the grave of her sister who, like her mother and brother, recently died of cancer. Michael herself is a breast cancer survivor, and the family is among the victims in a cancer cluster that includes, among other forms of the disease, cholangiocarcinoma, a rare malignancy attacking the bile duct. About 1,200 people live in Fort Chipewyan, an isolated community more than a hundred miles downstream from Fort McMurray and its massive mining operations. For several years residents have wondered if pollution from upstream could be causing local health problems. John O’Connor, a physician in Fort Chipewyan for seven years, was among the first to report the high cancer rate. He says the government has not done enough to investigate. “How could such a small community in such a pristine place have such illnesses?” O’Connor asks. In late 2008 the provincial government completed a cancer study, but Fort Chipewyan community leaders rejected the results before they were made public, complaining the study was poorly done.

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Feature Article Links:

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2009/03/canadian-oil-sands/kunzig-text

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2009/03/canadian-oil-sands/essick-photography

Peter Essick’s website:

http://www.rolphoto.com

Additional Links:

http://www.surrey.ca/Living+in+Surrey/Arts/Surrey+Art+Gallery/Exhibitions/Exhibitions+-+Current.htm

http://www.edwardburtynsky.com/


Commentary: How Bush botched war on terror – by Peter Bergen

January 9, 2009
I found this commentary a very compelling read given the fact that Peter Bergen has personally interviewed Osama Bin Laden – if anyone were to have an insight into the method behind his madness, it would be Bergen…
– FlashAddict
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By Peter Bergen
CNN National Security Analyst

Editor’s note: Peter Bergen is CNN’s national security analyst and a fellow at the New America Foundation in Washington and at New York University’s Center on Law and Security. His most recent book is “The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of al Qaeda’s Leader.”

Peter Bergen says it's crucial to correctly frame the nature of a war before beginning it.

Peter Bergen says it’s crucial to correctly frame the nature of a war before beginning it.

WASHINGTON (CNN) — President-elect Barack Obama and his foreign policy advisers and speechwriters are wrestling with one of the most important speeches of his presidency, his inaugural address.

One of their toughest conceptual challenges is how to describe and recast what the Bush administration has consistently termed the “war on terror.”

The dean of military strategists, Carl von Clausewitz, explains the importance of this decision-making in his treatise “On War”: “The first, the supreme, the most decisive act of judgment that the statesman and commander have to make is to establish…the kind of war on which they are embarking; neither mistaking it for, nor trying to turn it into something that is alien to its nature.”

Clausewitz’s excellent advice about the absolute necessity of properly defining the war upon which a nation is about to embark was ignored by Bush administration officials who instead declared an open-ended and ambiguous “war on terror” after the United States was attacked on September 11, 2001.

Bush took the nation to war against a tactic, rather than a war against a specific enemy, which was obviously al Qaeda and anyone allied to it. When the United States went to war against the Nazis and the Japanese during World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt and his congressional supporters did not declare war against U-boats and kamikaze pilots, but on the Nazi state and Imperial Japan.

The war on terror, sometimes known as the “Global War on Terror” or by the clunky acronym GWOT, became the lens through which the Bush administration judged almost all of its foreign policy decisions. That proved to be dangerously counterproductive on several levels.

The GWOT framework propelled the Bush administration into its disastrous entanglement in Iraq. It had nothing to do with 9/11 but was launched under the rubric of the war on terror and the erroneous claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

The theory was that he might give such weapons to terrorists, including al Qaeda to whom he was supposedly allied, and that he therefore threatened American interests. None of this, of course, turned out to be true.

The Bush administration’s approach to the war on terror collided badly with another of its doctrines, spreading democracy in the Middle East as a panacea to reduce radicalism.

It pushed for elections in the Palestinian territories in which, in early 2006, the more radical Hamas won a resounding victory, propelled to power on a wave of popular revulsion for the incompetence and corruption of the Fatah party that had dominated Palestinian politics since the 1960s.

Imprisoned by its war on terror framework, the Bush administration supported Israel in a disastrous war against Hezbollah in Lebanon in the summer of 2006. Hezbollah is not only a terrorist group but is also part of the rickety Lebanese government and runs social welfare services across the country, yet for the Bush administration its involvement in terrorism was all that mattered.

As is now widely understood in Israel, the war against Hezbollah was a moral and tactical defeat for the Israeli military and government. Events in the current Israeli incursion in Gaza will determine whether history repeats itself.

Under the banner of the war on terror, the Bush administration also tied itself in conceptual knots conflating the threat from al Qaeda with Shiite groups like Hezbollah and the ayatollahs in Iran.

In 2006, for instance, President Bush claimed that “the Sunni and Shiite extremist represent different faces of the same threat.” In reality, Sunni and Shiite extremists have been killing each other in large numbers for years in countries from Pakistan to Iraq. The groups have differing attitudes toward the United States, which Sunni extremists attacked in 1993 and again on 9/11, while Shiite militants have never done so.

So, how to reconceptualize the GWOT?

Contrary to a common view among Europeans, who have lived through the bombing campaigns of various nationalist and leftist terror groups for decades, al Qaeda is not just another criminal/terrorist group that can be dealt with by police action and law enforcement alone.

After all, a terrorist organization like the Irish Republican Army would call in warnings before its attacks and its single largest massacre killed 29 people. By contrast, al Qaeda has declared war on the United States repeatedly — as it did for the first time to a Western audience during Osama bin Laden’s 1997 interview with CNN.

Following that declaration of war, the terror group attacked American embassies, a U.S. warship, the Pentagon and the financial heart of the United States, killing thousands of civilians without warning; acts of war by any standard.

Al Qaeda is obviously at war with the United States and so to respond by simply recasting the GWOT as the GPAT, the Global Police Action Against Terrorists, would be foolish and dangerous.

What kind of war then should the United States fight against al Qaeda? For that we should learn some lessons from the conceptual errors of the Bush administration.

Nine days after 9/11, Bush addressed Congress in a speech watched live by tens of millions of Americans in which he said that al Qaeda followed in the footsteps “of the murderous ideologies of the 20th century…They follow in the path of fascism, Nazism and totalitarianism,” implying that the fight against al Qaeda would be similar to World War II or the Cold War.

For the Bush administration, painting the conflict in such existential terms had the benefit of casting the president as the heroic reincarnation of Winston Churchill and anyone who had the temerity to question him as the reincarnation of Hitler’s arch-appeaser, Neville Chamberlain.

But this portrayal of the war on terror was massively overwrought. The Nazis occupied and subjugated most of Europe and instigated a global conflict that killed tens of millions. And when the United States fought the Nazis, the country spent 40 percent of its gross domestic product to do so and fielded millions of soldiers.

In his inaugural address, Obama should say that the United States is indeed at “war against al Qaeda and its allies,” but that as Roosevelt said in his inaugural address in 1933, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. If Americans are not terrorized by terrorists, then the U.S. has won against them.

Al Qaeda and its allies are threats to the United States and Americans living and working overseas, but they are far from all-powerful. Barring an exceptional event like September 11, 2001, in any given year Americans are more likely to die of snake bites or lightning strikes than a terrorist attack.

Despite the hyperventilating rhetoric of Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda’s amateur investigations into weapons of mass destruction do not compare to the very real possibility of nuclear conflagration that we faced during the Cold War. There are relatively few adherents of Binladen-ism in the West today, while there were tens of millions of devotees of communism and fascism.

Obama should also make it clear that instead of the Bush formulation of “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists,” the Obama administration doctrine will be, “Anyone who is against the terrorists is with us.”

After all it is only al Qaeda and its several affiliates in countries like Iraq, Lebanon and Algeria and allied groups such as the Taliban that kill U.S. soldiers and civilians and attack American interests around the globe.

Everyone else in the world is a potential or actual ally in the fight against al Qaeda and its affiliates, because those organizations threaten almost every category of institution, government and ethnic grouping.

This is the first of two commentaries on the war on terror. Read the second piece, Peter Bergen’s commentary on what principles Barack Obama should follow in waging war against al Qaeda and its allies, Friday, January 9 on CNN.com

http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/01/07/bergen.war.terror/index.html


Flipbook project compilations…

October 10, 2008

Here are two videos that I made showcasing the concepts I developped for the flipbook animation project that we were assigned for our DIVA 200 course:

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? OBSCENE ?

ob·scene (adj.)

1. Offensive to accepted standards of decency or modesty.
2. Inciting lustful feelings; lewd.
3. Repulsive; disgusting


WARNING: ADULT THEME – DO NOT CLICK PLAY IF YOU ARE EASILY OFFENDED!

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From Booty Bay to Quel’Danas in 2 minutes

I recorded this film for my DIVA 200 (Digital and Interactive Arts) course at the Emily Carr University of Art + Design (ECUAD). The clips were taken from the online video game World of Warcraft and features a hyperspeed flight from Booty Bay to the Isle of Quel’Danas.


Reading the Screen – class notes from last Friday (animation)

October 2, 2008

“The Humorous phases of funny faces” – J. Stewart Blackton?
FIRST ANIMATION EVER 1906


– done with chalk so it was erased with each frame

“Fantasmagorie” – Emile Cohl

– first true animation in August 1908
– graphite on paper

“Walking” – Ryan Larkin

– was nominated for an academy award in 1970, but Ryan lost his way and fell into drugs and despair
“Ryan” – Chris Landreth


part 1

part 2

– a 2004 Oscar-winning animated documentary by Chris Landreth about the influential Canadian animator Ryan Larkin (see above – he did “Walking”), who in later years lived on skid row in Montreal following a history of drug and alcohol abuse.
Earl Heard 1915 – invented celluloid animation – all studios had to pay him a royalty until the patent ran into the public domain

“The Old Mill” – Disney

– tricks of the trade – multi-plane camera
– special effects animation from back in 1937 – old school cgi hand drawn and hand painted (very labour intensive)
– editing is so important, it’s how you move an audience
– as the storm builds, the shots get closer and closer – cutting/editing make the film
– Walt Disney spent only 12 years to refine animation from Steamboat Willy to Fantasia

– Disney either created or refined modern day aspects of animation
– Leonard Maltin has published numerous animation history books, including “Of Mice and Magic”
– 1937 – Snow White – used multi-plane camera up to Little Mermaid – last time it was used
– now they use D Canvas or Caps and computers to simulate 3d and distance
– “Minnie the Moocher”


– opening with Cab Calloway Hidy Hidy Ho!
– Cab Calloway was the man back in the day!  Max Fleischer vs. Disney studios
– Betty Boop was one of the first fully female animated characters- early example of rotoscoping with Cab dancing – precursor to Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly plus the iPod commercials as well – music video by The New Pornographers
Waking Life – Trailer

A Scanner Darkly – Trailer

New Pornographers – Myriad Harbour

Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (The Adventures of Prince Achmed)

– 300,000 cut outs to make this film – Lotte Reiniger – made in 1927
– very first animated feature film – she was the only one who did the cut outs – silhouette animation film

The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello – steampunk animation

The Old Man and the Sea – Alexander Petrov

part 1

part 2

– hand painted on glass (finger painting)
– wow – incredible paintings – clouds turn into elephants – lions – the sailing ship
– amazing detail in the oar slicing through the water and having the drops drip down
– the swordfish leaps several feet out of the water and keeps puling the boat further out to sea
– phosphorescence at night is beautiful – the crowd of people on the beach is incredibly detailed
– in the credits, it shows the director Alexander Petrov hand painting each individual glass frame

Peter and the Wolf – Suzie Templeton (also did a film called “Dog”)
– stop motion puppet animation

MISC CLASS NOTES:
lots of cutting edge animation happening in music videos
international film festival – should check it out
the story of pixar – director leslie was grand-daughter of the guy who helped do steamboat willy
– the man who planted trees was roger lassiter’s inspiration – he played it to introduce his festival
– not an actual true story – was fiction – frederick back

animation = bringing life out of something static
– animation is about drawing movement
– is it possible to make a bad film with beautiful drawings (star wars 1-3, final fantasy…)
– can you make a good film with bad drawings (rejected, simpsons, don hertzfeld)

Welcome to the Show – Don Hertzfeld

– DAMN THE ILLUSION OF MOVEMENT TO HELL!!!!!

Intermission – Don Hertzfeld

End of the Show – Don Hertzfeld

Rejected – Don Hertzfeld

– animation = just for kids?!?!? nope, it is much much more
– film screenings on wednesday help showcase the various techniques

STOP MOTION
– claymation (chicken run)
– paper cut out (south park, adventures of prince achmed – first animated film ever) aka silhouette animation
– puppet animation (nightmare before christmas)
– pixelation (neighbours, space jam, white stripes hardest button to button
– object animation – stop motion (joanna priestley)

– experimental (painted glass, the street, norman mclaren)
– pin screen animation (very rare – use pin screen – NFB animations – do research – each shot is unique – cannot be recreated – alex alexsov)
– rotoscope (waking life, a scanner darkly)
– cell animation (disney, looney toons, duck amuck)
– limited animation (simpsons – all you get is mouth/hand being animated vs. disney where the entire body is animated)
aka illustrated radio because the shots are reused 1960’s cartoons like spider man)

Additional Animation clips:

The Animatrix – Final Flight of the Osiris


Wednesday @ ECIAD – Reading the Screen class

September 11, 2008

Notes from my morning film screening – we watched the following films:

Chicken Run – Directed by Peter Lord and Nick Park of Wallace and Gromit fame – here is the trailer:

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Film, Film, Film – Directed by Fyodor Khitruk

Film, Film, Film – Part 1

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Film, Film, Film – Part 2

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Questions to be answered:

“Chicken Run”
1. Chicken Run was inspired by two famous escape movies. As you watch the film, pick
out conventions (rituals) or icons (visual images) that tell the audience this is an escape movie.

Answer: Prison camp setting / guard dogs / watch towers / fences / shovel = a spoon / music soundtrack = just like, “The Great Escape” / Mrs. Tweedy = like a Camp commander / military drumming symphonic score / head chicken Ginger put into solitary confinement / mini-railway inside escape tunnel / egg beater used to tunnel through ground / chickens dressed up in a human costume with stilts / Ginger sees the geese flying away, yet she and the other chickens cannot fly / Mr. Tweedy says, “They’re organized…she’s their leader!” / disguised a teapot as a chicken / Rocky Rhodes (aka Mel Gibson) is the Lone Free Ranger / yells out, “FREEEEEEEEDOM!!!” like in Braveheart / secret walls and hideouts in the camp cabins / “It’s Raining Hen!!!” / camp goes from being a prison camp (egg production) to a concentration or death camp (Mrs. Tweedy’s Home Baked Pies) / chicken knits a noose out of wool / Rocky uses a clothes hanger to slide down the telephone wire to rescue Ginger / Tarzan rope spoof inside the pie machine / Fowler hides buts and bolts inside his pants, just like the prisoners hiding dirt in, “The Great Escape” / “WE’LL DIE FREE CHICKENS OR DIE TRYING!!!”

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2. This film is essentially a co-production between a small successful British animation
studio, Aardman, and a large successful American (Hollywood) studio, Dreamworks. In what
way was America (Hollywood) represented in the story?

Answer: America is pretty much ridiculed throughout the film due to the main male leading character, Rocky Rhodes, voiced by Mel Gibson (aka The Lone Free Ranger). The entire plot development of having an American living, cavorting and pretty much stealing the show in front of English women (all of the chickens) was a commentary on how much British became jealous of the “Yanks” coming in unannounced, acting boorishly and hitting on their women. The elderly British rooster character, named Fowler, is very harsh with Rocky when he first appears and his role of authority within the chicken farm is threatened due to this young, good looking and charming American rooster. In essence, the British didn’t want the Yanks to come to their home and tell them what was, “What, What.”

“I’m not even certain he was even an American!” – Fowler

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“Film, Film, Film”
3. In your text pp 8&9, Bordwell and Thompson talk about patterns that filmmakers use to
emphasize story points. What patterns does the Russian animator, Khitruk, use to
illustrate his view of the industry of making movies?

Answer:
– Screenwriter – neurotic and struggling to find inspiration, which hits him every so often, yet interspersed with more struggle and head banging

– Director – waits for script to be finished by the screenwriter / once completed, he kisses him

– Scipt Re-Write – long, long, long process / many, many stages to get approval and have everyone sign off / too short / too long / RED FACED DIRECTOR + Screaming + Valium / tries to throw script away / gets to the final door, the studio president, who green lights the project / passes out / APPROVED!!!

– Film Studio – a lot of running around from set to set, office to office, having everyone on board / Production Designer, Cinematographer, Composer, Sound Engineer, Set Decoration…

– Location – they finally arrive on location, set up the stages, get the lion out…WTF, we need a bull not a lion!!! / hurry up and wait essentially as everyone has to wait for the animal wrangler to take the lion to the city and then drive back with the bull!

– ACTION! – hose = rain, but they ran out of water / now they have to wait for more water to come / all the extras go to sleep / ACTION! / thunderstorm / everyone including the bull gets an umbrella

– Child Actor – Director gives step by step instructions to the young girl how to perform for the scene and she nods her head / ACTION! / she does nothing / several iterations and everyone gets angry as the girl still doesn’t act / Overtime Bill + Schedule + Over Budget / as all of this is going on, the young girl finally grabs the flowers and everyone scrambles back to get the shot

– Funeral Scene – everyone is performing according to script and direction…all of a sudden the phone rings / TOO DEPRESSING / funeral then becomes a party scene!

– Editing – Director slowly becomes buried by the sheer amount of footage that was shot…

– PREMIERE – Director, Screenwriter and crew wait with baited breath for the audience’s reaction…nerves start to fray / Screenwriter tries to jump out of the window!

STANDING OVATION = WHEW!!!