Tonight, this morning, or in very very recent times, I have stumbled across that my innards are out to get me. Once iron clad with dirt eating, paint chips, deer, worms, and the occasional penny, my guts are failing me. Not literally of course. Well that I know of.
Within the last two weeks I’ve been wrecked twice. The second time happened tonight, or rather, right now. I can’t sleep. My stomach feels like I have an Irish tap dancing Leprecon going to town with an Irish jig in there. The back-story.
I had a meeting. I then left said meeting to eat dinner. We went to a place that I was told had good stir-fry. To me that means rice, eggs, etc. Stir-fry things. I suck at menus so I just have my good ol pal order. What comes, well, ironically enough. Guts. Intestines. That’s cool. I’ve had them before. No problem. I, armed with my two bamboo chopsticks, proceeded to gain weight by stuffing the rubbery little gut pieces into my iron clad chamber for digestion. Good stuff. I can’t eat it everyday but, maybe once in a while. What comes next? Oysters. Then, some green veggie of some sorts. Then, shrimp rice soup stuff. I eat, drink, and become a merry little man.
Fast-forward 5 minutes. My stomach is rumbling. I ignore it. 5 minutes later. Not good. I got the stomach cramps like, well, like if I had them once a month. I’ve felt this before. I can’t quite figure out why. I head home. I suffer.
At periodic intervals I unleash a reverse order and empty my stomach contents. Fast-forward now, 6 hours later. I got nothing left in there. I feel surprisingly better. Last time I went to the bathroom, I notice that my legs are really white. Upon coming to that conclusion it hits me. Last time I felt this way I ate oysters, this time I ate oysters. Occam’s Razor, Well by darn it you little hell devils. I’ve got your number now. Not to self, if host orders oysters, do not eat ordered oysters. Instead snack on animal intestines, wash down with beer.
Weird I actually feel better. Note #2 to self. If feel like Irish tap dancer is in stomach, blog at 330am, it soothes the soul
I haven’t been posting lately. I know. Last week I was super busy and this weekend I got some news. Haven’t really felt like posting anything. But today I thought I would share some thoughts about last week. So, I am currently doing some art direction. Basically I am at a photo studio on behave of someone who wants to make sure their products are looking good. They want an American there because the photos are for an American market. Not that Chinese photographers don’t know how to take a good photo, they do, however our tastes differ when it comes to lighting and styling. Thus I am there. So I would like to first show you an excerpt of a blog I usually read. It’s about creativity here. I may of said before that when it comes to in and out, part comes in do this, part goes out, the Chinese are masters. But when it comes to, if you think it looks good it’s ok, they can’t do it. Nor can they try new things. Not everyone is like this. I’ve seen some really awesome art from China. But the mass has a hard time.This talks about trying something new. I’ll tie it into my photo shoot later.
“For example, this week we had a hat manufacture that had (handmade) perfect samples but was now having issues getting some layering correct in mass production. They even went so far as to tell my QC that what we were asking for was “impossible.”
I went to the factory, they were politely embarrassed but agreed to build a hat with me. We walked through every one of the production steps with one of the hats, from cutting materials to final ironing and packaging.
Now I’m not a seamstress (seamster?) so I had lots of stupid questions about why they were doing it the way they were. They had answers for most of the questions and a couple times they were honest and just said “that’s just how we’ve always done it.” After we produced the same (wrong) result together (“See? This is just what we can do!”) I asked them to switch up a couple of the steps in the process and see what would happen. They wouldn’t do it. I finally told them I’d pay for whatever happens—the wasted sample, the material, extra bills. Just switch up the steps, please. They did, amidst a bunch of grumblings and comments like, “It just isn’t done this way” and “I don’t think that our machines will be able to do this” and “You’re not a professional” and “We’ve been making hats for 15 years and never done this before.”
What do you know? It worked! They were as surprised as I was and we solved the problem at no extra cost to me (which was the whole point). This wasn’t me solving the problem as much as it was just being in the factory and taking responsibility for trying out potential solutions, one of which happened to work out.”
Ok. So it talks about a problem. Someone has one. In America I would like to think that someone would try to solve it and try new things to do so. The author says in China that doesn’t happen. They don’t want to lose product nor fail in the process. Probably comes down to “Face,” which I have talked about before. I can’t fail because if I do people will think that I am stupid and I will lose face, thus I will not try anything that I might fail at, thus I can’t lose face.
So the photo shoot. It was similar to the above authors hat episode. Why do you light it this way. We can’t do it that way, people in America don’t like the way that looks. Lets do it this way. No it’s not impossible, not it’s not I’ve done it before. So the way we light a scene differs greatly. In China, or most of the work I had seen before from the studio, was just blasted with light. Make it bright. Americans want a feeling. An atmosphere. I want an airy feeling the resembles blah blah. They didn’t understand this. I also have to ask them multiple times how many suns we had in the sky. Because the way you are lighting it it makes us have two of them. Doesn’t look natural. Oh and maybe in China you have 1000watt bulbs in you house but in America we don’t, it’s too bright inside. Basically it comes down to the consumer. In America we want realism. We notice if it looks fake. We have a sense of style. In China, a bad Photoshop, a bunch of shadows, something that looks like it was taken in a studio and not a real house is ok. Interesting.
The way they work is different also. Say a shoot in America we would have one camera, it wouldn’t move, we would have a computer next to it. Snap a photo, view, discuss. Not here. Try to find a camera, the studio only have 2. Find it, 5 minutes to set up, take photo, walk to computer room, wait for computer, look, talk, walk back, camera gone, try to find camera, fix lighting, set up exactly like before, want to take photo, are you sure, yes just take the photo, but your wasting a picture. No I’m not it’s digital.. Take it…. ah…..
I think that it comes down to the above mentioned hat factory. The studio wasn’t used to doing work this way, and thus didn’t want to try new things for the risk of failing some how. I didn’t care. Change something take a photo, doesn’t look good change it back. Not that hard. But it’s something that they didn’t understand. Beats me. By the end of the week and with enough yelling in bad Chinese, I finally had them kinda trailed as to what I wanted. Yelling in China isn’t the same as yelling in America. In fact yelling is pretty normal here.
I began to document what happened one day. Mainly because I didn’t want it to be my ass if this crap took to long. It’s pretty funny. I hope if gives you an sense about what it’s like to deal with China. They lacked equipment and did things a different way. They have taken some excellent photos, I saw them hanging on the walls.
Somethings are super efficient, while others, take forever. Somethings they won’t change. Because, if we make this one thing efficient, it means that, I will have to work twice as hard and I don’t want to do that. For example. If I have a computer next to the camera and can see it instantly, the photographer is going to have to work faster fixing the lighting. He can’t just take his time walking to the computer lab, talking, then walking back. It makes him work harder and that, we can’t have. Maybe we get three shoots done in one day instead of two.. Can’t have that, I planned on billing you for two day and making some money but now that you want things to go faster I loose a day making money.. Can’t have that.
Anyway here’s my notes.
Arrive 9:45 am:
Things still set up but they are moving lights to where they were. Assistant is doing this. They were told to setup before I arrived.
10:15 am: Not sure what is happening. I explained the feeling of the photo to girl who can speak English. She tells photographer. Background light not set up. Nor is the background.
10:30 am: Waiting for something. Lighting or something similar.
10:45 am: Photographer is actually here fixing lighting. I tell them to copy the revised photo. I change curtain.
11:00 am: They are fixing product.
11:07 am: They have to find camera and photographer to take a photo. Tell them shadows are too hard. Also tell them there can be no hard shadows and everything has to be soft.
11:15 am: Photographer comes fixes lighting.
11:25 am: Still working on lighting.
11:40 am: Camera is ready to take photo. Take photo. Tell them parts of the product are too dark.
11:50 am: Take another photo. This time it goes to the computer. It’s lunchtime. Everyone leaves. I take photo and put comments on it. Will show to them after lunch. Need to crop in and etc..
Lunch is an hour and a half.
1:30 pm: People start to wake up and start moving.
1:40 pm: Assistant is doing something.
1:50 pm: I would like another photo. Tell Assistant. Photographer no where to be found. Apparently assistant is now the photographer. I deal with him the rest of the day.
1:55 pm: They move product for some reason. Not correct, tell them it’s not correct. However they tell me that to copy the photo it has to move. I then tell them that it doesn’t. If the product moves and something is screwed down, what do you think moved? Not the thing that is screwed down. Also use perspective angle to illustrate this point. Also other product as reference. He agrees.
Move product back. Another assistant breaks prop. Other assistant spends 5 minutes lining 4×5 camera up. Waste of time if we don’t shoot with it. Tell him, he understands.
2:00 pm: Prop comes back glued. Some guy steals tripod. Lose angle. Must adjust.
2:05 pm: Camera shows up.
2:10 pm: Have new photo. Stroll to photo room. Maybe will skip to computer room next time.
2:12 pm: Photo is too light. Too flat. No mood.
2:13 pm: Walk back to camera. Camera is gone. I liked angle and height, but camera gone. Start to sternly talk to them, or girl so she can sternly talk to them about why we can’t have the camera move. They understand. Place cheesy sign on tripod, that states, “please don’t move.” Something to that effect.
2:25 pm: Work on lighting issues. Fix bed fill lights.
2:30 pm: Still fixing lights.
2:40 pm: Camera returns. Newly positioned soft box while I was in Bathroom messes things up. I have to babysit.
2:45 pm: Camera disappears.
2:50 pm: Looking better.
3:00 pm: Finally take another photo. Wonder to computer room. No computers, wait, wait, finally one opens up. We look and I tell him what it needs best I can.
3:09 pm: Coffee arrives. It appeared like magic. Real coffee not instant. Oh a treat. Awesome, reminds me of Starbucks Breakfast Blend. Maybe it’s a little strong. I’m not complaining.
3:10 pm: I think photo is good.
3:16 pm: Enact a Chippewa paw wow to tell the assistant turned photographer (maybe he was the photographer after all?) and English speaking girl what has to happen next. We break and go do work.
3:30 pm: Cleaning is completed. Ready for final shot.
3:50 pm: Take final photo. Meander to computer room. Good, then the dude starts his color correction by eye. I leap out of my chair and tell him to stop. Ask English girl if they have a grey card. They do. I see them blowing the dust off it when they walk to the set.
3:53 pm: No camera again. Wait.
3:57 pm: Take photo. Mosey to computer room.
4:00 pm: No computer.
41:00:30 pm: Computer, use grey card to white balance from. Good, I tell them to Photoshop but don’t change the light or darkness. They tend to do everything by eye and the thing ends up looking like it was over lit to begin with. Doesn’t help that not a single monitor is calibrated here.
4:05 pm: They look perplexed.
4:20 pm: Explain new shot. Argue to get camera for set up. He can better understand what’s going on. He finally sees the light and steals camera. Good man.
4:35 pm: Lighting adjusted. Ready for digital capture to commence.
4:40 pm: Houston we have a problem. Something has changed.
4:45 pm: Find out someone else has a light that’s spilling onto our set. Fix. Shoot.
4:46 pm: Trot to computer room, wait, no computers.
4:48 pm: Get computer. Look at photo. Adjust with grey card. Not right photo. I’m confused. Mention to him to double check to make sure it’s the new one. It’s not. Search for file. Found. Open. Need to move products closer.
5:05 pm: Move products and have a look through imaginary camera on tripod.
5:09 pm: Assistant wiggles power cord to turn light on. It flickers then works like a charm.
5:12 pm: In the few minutes we were gone our background has moved off set. Someone stole it. Move it back takes a few minutes.
5:15 pm: Remember I have left my phone by computer. I am tempted to leave it and just get an Iphone. But remember someone is supposed to call.
5:16 pm: Take photo.
5:17 pm: Ponder the thought of walking backwards to computer room. Bad Idea, arrive. Computer free, hooray.
5:25 pm: Guys struggles with Photoshop. Girl comes and shows him what’s up.
5:40 pm: Tell girl that wall color is not correct. Check my computer, then hers. Not sure what is going on. Pantone color is not the same. Will take some investigating but it probably has to do with color spaces and nothing being calibrated and what not. Have them go with their Pantone. It’s from a tiff. Mine is not. Color is really close. Try to explain about info pallet and numbers, it fails. It’s really close.
Comment on her monitor being dark. English girl comes. Yes her monitor is broken. The re toucher’s monitor is broken. Not surprised.
5:50 pm: Fix shadows. Making them the same. Weird techniques. They seem to work. Better than North Koreas Photoshopping anyway.
5:51 pm: Someone calls. Wants me to do something with another product. I tell her to send it to me and I will send it to someone.
6:05 pm: Move to different monitor, I can already tell it’s not the right gamma. Give up.
6:20 pm: Get copies of photos. They will send the second photo to me done. I then try to explain to them where I live. I use funny car noises that resemble an F1 car. They laugh but understand.
7:00 pm: Arrive home. Proceed to cook noodle. Check email, and crack open a, soda pop.
Being precise, doesn’t matter too much I guess. I have to explain color correction and so on to them. Of course, how do you do this in English, it’s a hard theory to understand, along with how to do something in Photoshop. Now try to explain it in Chinese.. Probably one of the most difficult things I’ve done thus far here. Anyway, such is life.