Jan 2, 2012

To Live and Slowly Spin in a Circle in LA

This time of year is always a bit weird for me. Due to the Christmas* and New Years** holidays occurring during the winter of the autumn and the spring of the winter (along with their corresponding 4-day weekends), I find myself with an abundance of unallocated hours to fill. To battle the onset of cabin fever, I usually start actively looking for projects around day 5. Something, anything, to occupy my copious free time. Things were especially cabin-feverish this year due to my timely acquisition of a nasty cold that kept me indoors even more than usual (the outside world is strange and frightening to me).

So, to stave off my slow descent into insanity, I decided to take on the task of going through the of hours videos that had accumulated over the last few years. Since I have this nifty 2TB NAS at home, I have gotten into the bad habit of just storing all my footage there...and promptly forgetting about it. Once I starting digging for videos the edit, I found most were just home movies from vacations and whatnot. But I did find a couple of really interesting things. One in particular was footage of the whirlwind trip my wife and I had taken around LA a few years ago.

Resistance isn't futile, but you probably won't remember it's here.

Work sent me off to attend the Adobe MAX conference a couple years back and, since it was being held in sunny California, my wife came along so we could see the sights together after the conference. We were put up in the Westin Bonaventure hotel in LA for the duration. You may have never heard of this place (I know I sure hadn’t). But I'd bet dollars to donuts that you've seen it before. It has been the backdrop in several big-budget movies including True Lies (remember the ‘horse in the elevator’ scene?) and Line of Fire (remember the ‘John Malkovich falling to his death from the elevator’ scene?). But, even cooler than that, is the 4-star restaurant and bar that makes up the entire top floor. We went there for dinner and got to see all of downtown LA in just over an hour. While most of LA is filthy and depressing, those few city blocks of gleaming towers was clean and, well, it was clean. At least I think it was...we went there for dinner so it was dark. I’ll just give LA the benefit of the doubt and say it was sparkling clean and filled with rainbows and the laughter of children. Sure, that works. But back to the spinny-aroundy restaurant...

While we ate, I thought it would cool to capture a revolution on film. My first choice was the American Revolution, but my wife said that one ended a while ago. That was kind of a bummer. However, since the restaurant was spinning anyway, I decided to file that revolution instead. So I set the camera on the table, pointed it out the window, and left it there until we were done. What I ended up with was an 80-minute video file. When I got home, I moved it to my NAS device -- having never actually watched the footage. That was the summer of 2009.

I just took a look at it a few days ago and found it fascinating. I was a bit disappointed with the auto-focus as there are sections where it would focus on the reflection in the window instead of the background. But most of the 80 minutes is razor sharp and looks really nice. I didn’t really feel like uploading an 80GB file to YouTube, so I ran it through Adobe Premier. I increased the speed by about 800%, bringing the total runtime to less than nine minutes (and drastically decreasing the size of the file). I took this with an HD camcorder, leaving it at its native resolution. This means you can watch it in 1080p if you want (i.e. looks great in full screen mode). My favorite part is watching all the cars buzzing around at high speed. It gives the whole thing a real ‘luxury sports car commercial’ feel.

*Contains less than 5% real Christ.
**Now with 25% more Janus!


Thaydra said...

I live in Washington, and the Space Needle does that- revolves around. If you go up to the top, there is a huge wrap-around viewing deck that is just awesome. I haven't eaten there, since it is entirely out of my price range, but we've been up top, and it's amazing. =) I didn't realize there was one in L.A.! I will have to make the attempt to check it out, now, next time I visit!

Etherknight said...

Interesting...I live in the area too and have also never eaten there. I daughter went there for a school field trip a few years back. She said it wasn't as cool as she thought it would be.