It’s that time! The time for reflection, introspection and looking back at everything we did over the past 12 months. We somehow believe that on January 1st, many of our slates are wiped clean, and we can start fresh.
In truth, we’re going to bring 2021 with us into 2022. The same as we’ve brought every year past. We bring memory, experience, and lessons learned.
In film, wiping the slate clean just means it’s time to write something else on it. Next project, next scene, whatever. 2022 already has a large number of impending projects. If it’s anything like 2021, it’ll also be full of surprises. Let’s look back before our gaze is turned forward by the new year.
While this wasn’t technically in 2021, this is when we shot “Your Top 3” for the 100hr Film Race 2020. It was our first project officially as Barigord Studios.
We had entered the 24hr Film Race 2020 as Team FOMONoMo, and made a bit of a mess. One thing we suffered from was sound issues. Our equipment was lacking, and our personnel inexperienced. I had this (really stupid) great idea to do a film where all recording was done without sound, and things were dubbed in after. Amazingly, this is how we made Your Top 3.
I won’t say never again, but it was not a good idea for a competition setting. Especially when a strong narrative took over and left us scrambling to rise to it with dialogue. It kinda worked.
I personally love the film. I watch a lot of reality competition shows, and love the attrition – how they whittle the numbers from a group to one winner. In the later episodes we’ve followed these people for weeks, and watched them change and grow. Sometimes a tight-knit group emerges, and it’s hard to imagine that it’ll be broken up. Eventually, several favourites will fall, and worst of all, become mere footnotes to a winner who is likely merely a footnote themselves.
See for yourself. The trailer can be found here.
Why did I start with December 2020? Because in January 2021, we found out that Your Top 3 was selected as a Top 10 Finalist in the 100 Hr Film Race. Woohoo!
We were suddenly on the hook to make a poster, an IMDb listing for the film, and the trailer, and the film would be screened as part of the virtual premiere and awards presentation for the festival.
The best part of doing these Film Races, and the best reason to do them, is that you finish a film. It’s incredibly difficult to complete a film under any circumstances, and they can often languish for months while money is raised or while the footage waits for editing. The races are unlikely to produce your best work, but they can catapult you towards filmmaking competency.
While we shot Your Top 3 on what is now our Camera 2, a Canon Eos 7D, we had acquired a Canon Eos M50 Mirrorless in late December, and were now breaking it in. December also brought us a large green screen from my workplace (can’t do details – NDA) which we started using. And we’d begun looking at the potential of stop-motion, using Lego bricks.
We released the trailer for Your Top 3 on Feb 1st, which also launched our Youtube Channel. The film premiered, and we didn’t win any further awards or place in the top 3.
We joined Twitter as @barigord. You can follow us there.
We started posting some of our stop-motion experiments. You can see all of them here. My favourite is still this laid-back dance sequence over the Golden Gate Bridge. Which also means we did plenty of stop-motion using green screen backgrounds.
In order to have footage and music to use for videos like this, we explored the public domain. There are plenty of sources of free footage and music out there. Like this one that I’ve used for music all year. It’s important to credit the artists, too! They might not be getting paid, but it helps get their work out there.
February saw us take a first stab at commercial advertising, with a (long-form) ad for a certain large-scale football game. Our ad was for CandyHappy Stickers and CandyHappy Shop, featuring the artwork of our own Charlene Happy! We don’t know if the ad led to many sales, but you can buy her stuff here, at her online store on Redbubble.
On Valentine’s Day, it snowed, and one of the little hummingbirds we’ve been feeding decided to put on a show for us. Luckily, the camera was primed and ready. We ended up with this video. It was featured on vancouverisawesome.com, burnabynow.com, and the squamishchief.com. It has been without a doubt our most popular video, and inspired our logos and branding.
We also re-released our first film ‘My Ultimate Creation’ which was made for the 24hr Film Race 2020. To overcome the sound issues, we tried an old-time, silent film makeover. It’s still fairly hard to follow. See for yourself here.
In the first week of March, we entered the 72hr Horror Film Race. We were better organized, and planned to use our own studio as the primary location. We’d planned to use the green screen in some aspect as well, because we didn’t want to do traditional blood and gore. Mainly because we didn’t want to have to clean it up.
To be frank, none of us like horror movies. None of use would watch them under most circumstances. We have minimal knowledge of tropes and such, outside of pop culture rehashes, like The Simpsons. We also didn’t want to do anything we couldn’t look at.
Head Case was a result of that sort of thinking. I landed on true crime as the most horror-like genre I knew much about, and drew inspiration from a pair of former coworkers of mine. They were siblings, and one was a huge true-crime buff, who loved podcasts. We’d discussed the podcaster-broken Golden State Killer case at work a bit, as it was current events at the time.
Podcaster characters made a lot more sense than anything more official, because we couldn’t do law enforcement costuming or locations. Or even a proper private detective’s office.
We also wanted a real ‘horror’ angle, and while my initial plan was severed limbs, and actors wearing green sleeves and such, a severed, stationary head for the podcasters to interview made a lot of sense once I got writing. The framework fell into place fairly quickly, and after that it was a matter of turning exposition into dialogue.
I had time for a single draft of the script, so that’s what we used. A single edit after a night’s sleep would have been glorious, but it was not going to happen. It’s long and wordy, but it is what it is.
Our Executive Producer for Head Case, Ramiro Cuenca Sr., is the father of our own Ramiro Cuenca Sabido, and lives in Mexico with most of their family. It occurred to me that we could have them as part of our cast if we used green screen technology. We wouldn’t be able to use much more than a still shot, but that was more than enough, and we were able to have a truly international production, with 5 Mexican performers!
Since we wouldn’t find out about Head Case’s awards status for a while, we tried out some other stuff.
I Love the Open Road is one of my favourite things we did this year. A weird old toy that so many of us had growing up, done in stop motion, plus green screen, public domain backgrounds, and all sounds made by mouth. Watch it here.
Bad Food Meal Kits is another favourite. I love parody commercials, and it was great fun making one. Meal kits are everywhere these days, even at the studio. I have to point out that I broke a tooth later this year on some junk food similar to what’s depicted in the video. Snack with caution!
In April, a family friend of our own Andrew Wade gifted us with an Oyster Mushroom Growing Kit. We took it as an opportunity to do time-lapse photography. While our camera has a time-lapse setting, it maxes out at 45 minutes. We went 3+ days. How? We took the pictures every hour or half hour, whatever it was. In shifts. All day, all night. The video is here!
We also found out that Head Case was indeed selected as a finalist in the 72hr Horror Film Race. We had to do a poster, an IMDb page, and a trailer, just like Your Top 3.
The trailer can be found here! It’s all original content!
In May, Head Case premiered, and also won Best VFX at the 72hr Horror Film Race awards screening. Well done Ramiro!!
We also made this cheesy video in May.
In late May, I finally changed this website over to barigord.com. It had been the ‘Self-Taught Commander’ blog, a vehicle for reporting on the card game Magic: The Gathering. I play Commander, a variation of that game for the casual crowd (in theory). I don’t play much now, as events were shut down for the longest time, and I wasn’t ready to rejoin them when they reopened this fall.
It’s funny, the day before I changed the blog over, I wrote what has turned out to be the most popular post on the site by a wide margin. It’s a bit of rant on Garth One-Eye which is a Magic card. Most of the hits on the site are from that article.
All the M:tG posts are still on the site, so if you’re looking for Commander info, like decks and staples, a lot of it is still relevant. Pre-Modern Horizons 2, though.
In June, another Film Race was already upon us, the 24hr 2021. We ran the race, and (sort of) completed our film ‘The Avian Cipher’ on June 5. We were not finalists, and to date, have not released the film.
At the time, it seemed like a home run of a film, and I’m still quite excited about it, but there were a few technical flaws that really stuck out, including one in a really bad spot. It’s on the priority list for one of our editors, and hopefully will be available soon.
Just after the Film Race, we were inspired by the TV show Lego Masters to make this video, a stop-motion Lego tribute to our own film, Head Case! The opening challenge of season 2 of Lego Masters was to build a parade float that shows your skill and identity and displays some kind of motion. We took that challenge to heart. Boy are we glad we did!
In late June, we pitched an idea to the Steveston Salmon Festival, using our parade float video as a sort of teaser, or ‘proof of concept’. They were going online, with a ‘digital parade’ instead of one on a crowded street. We took it literally, and proposed an entire stop-motion parade, even though we’d never done anything of that scale before. We promised a five minute video, and a 1 minute trailer.
The week before the festival, we were approved. We had 7 days. That included purchasing the Lego we needed, designing and building the floats and models, and the full shooting, editing and producing of the video. Plus sound and voices, etc.
This turned out to be the week we had something in BC called ‘The Heat Dome.’
In hindsight, I have no idea how we did it. Here’s the video, delivered on schedule, plus the trailer.
The Salmon Festival was July 1st. Here’s the whole digital parade with all the artists and opening statements. We’re at the end.
July was pretty hot, and we rested a lot, and planned our next move.
In August, we hammered out the logistics of a project for BC Culture Days that would be executed in late September.
I personally acquired a new computer, geared for editing, and promptly downloaded DaVinci Resolve, a free online editing suite. I spent a big chunk of August learning the program and experimenting with stop-motion.
In early September, we released this video, which made use of a set we’d bought for the Culture Days project. The set is called ‘Everyone is Awesome!’ We wanted to make sure we used it for a video, because it was almost entirely consumed by the Culture Days project.
Through September, we posted some videos of local outdoor wildlife during the summer days, and then some indoor wildlife! Forij Mushrooms sent us a free pink oyster kit after seeing the time-lapse we did earlier in the year. We made 3 versions of the pink oysters: with fun voice over and music, with just fun music, and with contemplative music.
In late September, we did Culture Days! We sent our little crew down to the Richmond Library and Cultural Centre and showed off our Lego models from the Salmon Festival video, as well as provided a build-your-own minifigure buffet for visitors. We gave away 75 minifigs! When each one was assembled, we got the makers to take their minifigs over to our mini Lego green screen, and got them to make a few poses. We had examples. Things like waving, walking and some freestyle dancing.
It was a lot of fun, and we hope all of our participants loved the experience!
Once the pictures had been taken, we took them into the editing suite and put them to music. Here’s what we did.
We also created a stop motion short film, ‘Reconnecting.’ The script was written by our own Andrew Wade, and we all worked on it in multiple capacities. The film takes place at and around the Richmond Library and Cultural Centre, including at a model we built of that very building. You can see it at the start of the video, here.
The model is now under a protective plexiglass, on a plinth, in the Richmond Library and Cultural Centre. You can see it if you go there. The ‘Everyone is Awesome’ kit was instrumental in recreating the pride mural on the building, and used up almost every piece.
Creating a public art installation was never something we would have considered. Why would we? Needless to say we’re all so proud of this. Extra props to Charlene Happy, who painted two tiny paintings that ‘hang’ in the tiny art gallery on the back side of the model. With real paint!
We actually didn’t submit and upload the Culture Days stuff until October, so yeah. It was months of planning and a short window of execution, but it turned out pretty well.
We added a couple of key pieces of equipment over the summer, including a macro lens for the camera and a remote trigger for taking pictures remotely. These allowed us to get in closer and sharper on the little figures than ever before. We also were able to get much better camera stability, taking the shake out of our work.
With the practice, editing know-how, and better equips, we made a couple of shorts with Lego Star Wars guys. This one and this one. They’re funny! I’d like to produce more stuff like this on a regular basis.
We also created a massive racecourse in the studio, entirely of Lego and other bricks. It’s still in use, for a short while longer. After releasing this test video, we decided to do a larger project with the racecourse.
Here’s the trailer for that larger project, The Monster Grand Prix.
We also snuck in coverage of a Thriller Flash Mob for some friends in need. We filmed at the nearby Spirit Hallowe’en store! Boo-ya!
Right near the end of the month, we got some truly awesome news. I’d looked into submitting our films to festivals, and it seemed like a more ‘year 2’ thing, but decided one submission couldn’t hurt. Especially as Jeffrey Macabre sent a message inviting us to apply to Shockfest. I don’t really care if it was a bulk send-out, which it probably was, because it rose above that, and felt personal anyway.
The application fee was a pittance. I’d do it again, especially as we were an official selection of Shockfest 2021 (Head Case), and everything about the experience, including communicating with Jeffrey, was top-notch and totally validating.
In mid November, we released the first heat of the Monster Grand Prix. It has a bit of a pilot feel to it. We’ve got 7 full episodes planned, and might retouch this one a little.
In late November, we found ourselves in the midst of an Atmospheric River. While these are not new phenomena, this one was rather intense. The storms took out some of our major roadways here in BC.
Not to make light of that, or anybody who lost anything to the flooding, but we were able to get out and film during the storm. We met up with Aaron, who designs and builds robots!
Here is his rowing robot, ‘Noggin,’ at Richmond City Hall. We captured a full interview and enough footage for a micro-documentary, which is in production!
In the first few days of December, we once again ran a Film Race. This was the 100hr Film Race 2021. We were finalists the previous year, flying by the seat of our pants. Could we do better?
Well, we weren’t chosen as part of the Top 15, but that did allow us to release the first cut of the film we made! And so we did! Here it is.
I could say a million things about the film, ‘Learn,’ but I’d rather you just watch it. FWIW, I love it!
While we were recovering from a crazy 100 hours, Head Case played Shockfest 2021! I hope it got plenty of groans!
After the rest, I took stock of what would be the most useful thing to focus on before the holidays descended and focus would be fleeting.
I landed on this, a tutorial for families and teachers on how to get into using DaVinci Resolve for stop-motion filmmaking. It’s what I use, and I also use it for all my other filmmaking. It’s complicated, but pretty easy once you get into it.
DaVinci Resolve is free, and if you can get your feet wet in it with stop-motion (and you can) you can use it for all your filmmaking too.
I put together an exercise, too, based on cars and driving. Walking is really difficult with stop-motion, so why not use wheels?
I’m actively looking for feedback from families and teachers, so please feel free! Here’s the central ‘Stop Motion for Teachers and Families‘ post. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
So that’s our first year. It really snowballed.
I’m currently sitting here amid a lot of snow that’s unusual in Vancouver. Our most recent example of extreme weather. We managed this year, but it’s scary to think about what could be on tap for the future.
The same goes for Covid. We were lucky. Barigord Studios production was possible because we have a small bubble that was easy for all of us to maintain. We used distancing for filming, and tried to keep all non-bubble performers silent or dubbed so they could be safely apart and not have a sound tech shove a mic on them somewhere. We kept things small and lean, and used stop motion to tell bigger stories than we could do with people.
We’ll be able to do a lot of this going forward. Most of what we do won’t be affected by things like lockdowns, and as long as the weather stays outside for now, we’ll be okay.
We’d like to thank everyone who helped us this year for their generous support, love and patience.
Thanks to everyone who gave us even a second of their time and watched something we made, or looked at the model and the paintings in Richmond. We worked damn hard for all that, and it was for you. We hope you enjoyed it.
For 2022, we’ve got some plans. The rest of the Monster Grand Prix. The Noggin Doc. A plan to do one of Andrew’s scripts called ‘The Lookouts’ which is sci-fi and serious, and would be done in stop-motion with Lego. Some other scripts, a music video, and lots of little things.
Getting support would be ideal, but as long as the production pipeline holds, we can produce content at a very low cost. We’re very sustainable, and hopefully built to last.
Watch out for us this year! You never know what we might get up to! Thanks for reading!