Tuesday, May 4, 2021

The Book of Life by Susan Lea Murray (aka Serene Murray-Denton)

A song written by my mother for me when I was small and she was young. (lyrics from memory)

Audio of me singing it on Soundcloud:

It's about my mother's awakening to the fact that women don't have to live within the confines of ristrictive gender roles. That they could branch out and make their lives about what mattered to them without any limitations. It was an important lesson for me to get when so young.

I read the book of life,

as it was given to me.

And in many ways,

I was the princess.

I saw the dream.

and I was in it.

And in many ways,

I was the princess.

Now, you ask me,

to read you this book.

One I thought I knew so well,

One I should should believe in.

One that I should want to tell you,

When the only way I'm different,

from you, my lovely one,

is to know.

To know to throw that book away,

and go live your own.

Go do your own smiling,

and go make your own play.

Why play a lonely princess,

with only one line to say.

Go do your own smiling,

and go make your own way.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Cloud kitty made sure I knew she was always in charge of the production.
I turned around to see her perched on set like this and it made me laugh.

Cloud was a real all-grey beauty.

As far as I know, Cloud was the world's only ladder-climbing cat.
She would climb up and down by herself!

Back at the old loft, before the new kitties arrived, Cloud was my dearest love. And she loved it.
I kissed one dark night while she was sound asleep and startled, she lashed with sharp claws
at my smooching kisser. Stitches were required and a scar is still visible in photos.

In the new house, we rescued two kitties off the street and Cloud was forever angry over it.


It got more and more difficult to care for her as time went on. Many hours a day cleaning up big messes, Trying to treat her with special diets, keeping the cats apart so the younger ones weren't bullied by her, etc. When she was too aged to jump, we would escort her in the backyard to sunbathe which helped. 

I came into the studio to find Cloud lounging on the bug party set even though she knew she wasn't supposed to be there. I took it as a most definite message of her displeasure with me. 
I had to laugh.

Cloud in healthier elder days May of 2019. I took other photos and videos of her as she
lost substantial weight and became disorientated after seizures, etc.

When it seemed as though she was truly at her life's right and proper end, we called in a wonderful service that provides euthanasia via house call. We preferred not to take her into the vet's office as home would be less stressful to her, a bit warmer, quieter, we could give her her favorite food.

She was 17 years old and infirm so we didn't feel extensive medical intervention would be best in her case. When it seemed passing away would make more sense than living in the state she was in, we made the call for the vet service.

She actually collapsed from the first injection while eating. And then was gently made to stop beating just a few moments later. We made our goodbyes. And thanked her for being our dear friend.

Cloud, it matters where you are.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Jeff's Magical Workflow

Now that I've tried it out, I can outline some of Jeff's Magical Workflow in general:

1. Shoot frames to memory card (shoot high res native raw)

2. Open as library in Adobe Lightroom (this is the amazing key tip from Jeff-- so effortless)

3. Modify frames as a batch within Lightroom (snatch still frames from Lightroom and take to PS for further edits for books an posters) Non-destructive.

4. Export to Adobe Premiere Pro on HD per Jeff's settings (shown in screen shot)

5. Open new project with preset Arri>1080p>Arri1080p 23.976 (for proper resolution and frame rate).

6. Import frames from HD folder --but select first image only and then check "Image Sequence" in the dialog box (this will import all the images into a single clip.

7. Drag new clip from project window to timeline--and you are done! (edit further as you like there before exporting to Apple's Pro Res 422 Codec in H264 format at 1080p (or whatever size you like to post.)

He also recommended Crash Plan for Cloud backup ($60/year and excellent speed) and to link it to (my soon to be) External RAID enclosure for Firewire 800mb, 2-bay, 3.5" HDDs/s with (2) 3 TB drives as my local back up.

Let me know if you have any questions and I'll try to answer. And please report back how it works for you if you try it!


Tuesday, May 31, 2016


Halfland has but one rival for my love, focus, and time. Ballet. Permit me to explain why.
(Last Sunday, during my second class of the morning, one of the extremely talented young male dancers, Roman Frey (portrait below), asked me to work next to him at barre. Stills taken from stolen quick clips of class barre work.)

My 42 Year History With Dance.

My first ever in life ballet class was at age 11.5 with the very man who teaches me today. The man is an absolute Master Teacher of Classical Dance. I am smart enough to know he has no equal on earth. I watch his every move and word to every student and am regularly in awe of not only his extraordinary grasp of body dynamics and mechanics, music, artistry, and meaningful expression at every level of experience, but also his wisdom about living life.

When I was a little girl, he took me into his world and shaped me as a dancer. I was shy and quiet, utterly intimidated by everything, but he saw a quality in me that was worthwhile and was the first person to elevate how I saw myself. Forever after knowing him I was a dancer. I studied with other teachers in other places as my houses kept moving but he was always the one that made enormous impact for the better in my life.

At 18, I was in a small ballet company in Santa Barbara when they ran out of funding. I objectively looked at the circumstances and determined that I didn't have enough drive, looks, or talent to pursue a career in dance further. I decided to quit completely and see what the rest of the world lived like. I learned and danced a bit of Jazz but no ballet classes or performances at all for 25 years after that.

Then by chance, 10 years ago, I saw my first teacher on television. He was alive, teaching still, right near where I lived. I was floored. I had been repeating stories about him to my husband for decades to the point that the teacher became a mythological creature, like a unicorn, to us. Yet here he was. I convinced my husband, whom I had met in my spiritual group, who was then aged 55, never having in his life taken any dance classes, to come and experience for himself a True Master for the enriching experience. Just once, I said.

Well, I'm somewhat bewildered yet thrilled to report that one class turned into a decade of profound transformation in every way for both of us. The teacher lived up to every anecdote from my history and continues to exceed them again and again. (Can you imagine the cosmic collision it was for me to witness my ballet world and my spiritual and personal world coming together?!) It was surreal and yet this second epoch with our teacher has proven to be even more transforming (and longer) than the first!

I have spent the last 10 years taking the teacher's basic beginning classes so I could attend with my husband, Paul. It was he who asked me such astute questions, I was forced for the first time to observe the correct placement of every part of the body and figure a way to explain it to him and other beginning students of the teacher's (with his express permission). I attempt to slowly break down the teacher's technique, like a translator for those with no prior experience and help them to take better advantage of their classes with the master. I aspire to explain his dynamics and form, repeating his wonderful metaphors and stories, taking extensive notes in every class and doing whatever I can to support him in his work.

(The barre behind us held the other two fantastically talented future stars of dance, one of which, Larkin Miller (with the blonde head; clip linked below of his audition video from a year ago), is my favorite dance artist to study where I do ever. He has become one of the warmest, sweetest people I've met. And even before I knew that about him, was the finest, most devoted artists I've seen. A total inspiration in every movement. Being liked and accepted by these boys for my work makes me feel strong and right in step with them, even at more than twice their ages.)
The thing you should know about this teacher and the profound impact he has on myself, my husband, and every one of his other thousands of students he has taught over the decades is that how you dance ballet is only the beginning. And here's where we get into some deeper matters.

How We Move Reveals Who We Are.

Recently, my teacher lectured me privately that it was time for me to move past the level on which I was working. It was time for me to stop seeking some sort of perfecting of the technique and learn instead to dance at a more professional level. He suggested I take his more advanced classes, once again calling me forward into a new world. I needed to expand my understanding of the more complicated combinations that make up the center work in the longer, more advanced classes. And, as I'm now finding out, to also exceed my limitations of expression on the physical, mental, and emotional/psychological levels.

It isn't enough for me to get the combinations right, or to master the technique of a difficult step. The challenge before me now, the one I am taking up, is to fundamentally change how I react to life. Where I have been tense and nervous, I am to be relaxed and at ease. Where I have been convinced I am inadequate, I am to know I am wholly enough. I am to express a greater sense of well being as I move. And when I think that I can no longer do any better, I am to once again excel further regardless.

So that's what I've been doing since I have recovered my health (largely thanks to the ballet again, but that's for another story, perhaps for another time), Taking class nearly every day and napping to help recover from the physical exertion. Helps me get to bed before too late too.

The challenge isn't comfortable but it's an opportunity for an authentic revolution of who I am and how I navigate in life. And as a rising tide raises all boats, the new way I think and operate are bound to affect how I can get Halfland truly done.

Thank you for listening to this underground tale of things. I thought it appropriate to try to explain where my attention has been divided and why to my Halfland followers.

*I don't name my teacher to keep our location/wherabouts private/secure.

**A year old clip of my favorite inspiration in classes right now, the blonde that can't been seen well above, Larkin Miller.

***Roman Frey (the beautiful dancer in the striped shirt and mauve leg warmers next to me above.)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Power of the Press

When Robert Ito saw something worthwhile in Halfland and crafted a story about those of us who are crazy enough to love building tiny worlds, via a tedious photographic process's known as Stop Motion, he showed me the power of the mighty pen. Even in our Internet universe, the Greg Lady packs a punch to a huge volume of eyes. People who barely knew my last name came up to me at ballet and asked whether I was the Shelley Noble mentioned in that Sunday's NYTimes edition. Tons of people saw it and heard about the project that wouldn't have otherwise. There's something about that power of large numbers.

Since then, I moved to an entirely different sort of space, in many senses. No longer in a huge loft, the whole production is shoehorned awkwardly into a standard-sized room. And what was once an intention to make the film like any other animation for entertainment has now been further defined as hoping to be something else altogether.

It's now about pure art. Art that is admittedly an overindulgent pleasure of creation. But I'm learning to reign in the impulses to execute the ideas that flow out in favor of greater direction of my energies and time in order to get the film made.

At this point, it's all about getting scenes in the can. To get any sort of footage, with what's built as it is, with some things unfinished fully, get the clips into After Effects and get to cutting, enhancing, finessing, etc. There's a danger that all that's been made to date could be lost and it's my ferocious focus to get what ever possible on film. If this were a major test at school, my current state would been known as, "pencils down. Hand in by paper "


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sky Kiss

Crude Pre-Viz on how I hope to paint the back sky layer. It's a Half Sky, Night kissing Day, but it isn't drawn on half, more like 1/3. Still, we can imagine the scene carries on to the left thereby making it always half if you were standing at a different angle.
There's also now built a starry constellation-ed "Night Hoop" but that's a different story.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Cool Find: Christina Spangler

My favorite Stop Motion clip of all time so far, this by Christina Spangler This clip strikes deeply at the core of what I'm after with Halfland. The natural sunlight, the lack of narrative, the simple doable movement performance, the rack macro focus that mimics our observant eyes while in nature. Did we see what we saw? Yes, we did.