“Being” at Vortex Immersion Media

A 360-degree immersive performance, experience developed at a month-long residency at the Vortex Immersion Media dome, Los Angeles. The audience is lead through a narrative by a performer where her gestures and movements guide the formation of monolithic natural structures, such as mountains, rocks, and clouds. The visuals are inspired by “emergence”, a phenomenon in which larger entities, patterns, and regularities arise through interactions among smaller or simpler entities that themselves do not exhibit such properties. Shapes of mountains, clouds, behaviors of large group of animals, and even consciousness can be associated with this phenomenon.

Music
ganeshrao.bandcamp.com/album/jiij

Ganesh Rao
ganeshnrao.com

Jonny Greenwald
jonnygreenwald.com

Vortex Immersion Media
vorteximmersion.com

Videography & Editing
leebacak.com

Event Photos
leebacak.com/morphos-2014/

Morphos 2014 Event at the Vortex Dome.

This was an excellent opportunity to meet a lot of really interesting artists and experiment with the new dome format. An artist in residence hosted by Vortex with creative direction by Ethan Bach, included the talents of such artists as Lawrence Curtis, Torie Zalben, Jakob LeBaron, and Marina Masic.  I was lucky enough to be a collaborator on a few of these pieces including that of my artist and friend, Ganesh Rao’s piece, Being. 

Many of the pieces explored the idea of creating an immersive space meant to incite the experience of shared consciousness. The initial concepts for Being heavily centered around creating an iterative and evolving flow of information between dancer, computer, and the audience. The above piece is a prototype of this idea which we hope to continue to build on and show at other domes across the United States. This piece showcases Ganeh’s continued interest in experimenting with new forms of perception as well as creating new forms of mythology. 

The dome is a 360 degree experience meant to immerse by encouraging a much more participatory response from the audience as they are invited to engage by craning their necks upward to look around them in order to fully experience the piece. The beauty of each piece in the dome format is that each person experiences a show from their own unique perspective. This flies in the face of traditional film where the experience is designed to be a uniform experience viewed on a flat surface and thusly many of the traditional methods of telling a story become obsolete or change drastically.

For me as a storyteller, I am intrigued by the possibility of creating a meaningful and interesting narrative in this format. The kind of stories that can be told and how they are told is unknown at this point, but that is half the fun of working in this format as we are literally creating the lexicon and workflow as we go. For me especially, I like this format in that it can introduce new perspectives in hopes to allow the audience a glimpse into that of another person’s or even object’s viewpoint. Immersion and losing oneself into a story is great importance to me and I think this format adds a new dimension to that. If anything working in the dome format is a good step towards the ultimate goal, which is to create a short film for 360 degree VR to be utilized by headsets like the Oculus Rift. 

Ganesh and I both hope to continue working in this format to see what we can do with it. I thank the Vortex Dome and Ethan Bach for allowing me to help on these projects and to hopefully become an official member of the dome creative community. This an exciting time to be a storyteller in the digital world.     

Photography by Lee Bacak Jr. To see more photos please visit his website here at http://www.leebacak.com

Funemployment Trailer

Here’s a trailer for an upcoming feature film which I was lead cinematographer for. This is my first feature film to be lead cinematographer for and it was a great learning experience. We were able to successfully fund it through Kickstarter, so now it’ll go through post-production and coloring to be released sometime next year. Here’s to seeing you at the premiere!

About

After getting laid off from his 9-5 corporate job, a regimented young man joins his best friend’s startup and is forced to rediscover who he is through the personal and professional turmoil of being an entrepreneur. To learn more: areyoufunemployed.com

Don’t Be A Monster Promotional - 2013

Edited by Jonny Greenwald
Original footage by Jonny Greenwald and David Lackey
Short Film footage from “Don’t Be A Monster”

Don’t Be A Monster is an anti-bullying campaign founded by Imagine Better Inc. to raise awareness of bullying by giving a free, 30-minute presentation to local middle schools.

dontbeamonster.org

"Do What You Love. Love What You Do" is definitely a mantra that I have been guilty of saying to myself several times in my life. In the article, it cautions that this particular mantra may be devaluing how we see work by allowing individual’s services to become merely expected and gives license to ignore acceptable compensation (i.e. money) in exchange for them. 

Being in the film industry, many of us are trying to grasp at the total-film experience by simply ignoring that working in film is indeed work. Sometimes, I have to bite my tongue when I hear someone exclaim “passion project,” because I know this generally means that there will be no money involved. This mantra seems to work in at least two ways that I’ve personally observed. Often you’ll see those in the industry who are enduring long hours and no pay as side effects of “Doing What You Love.” Or, there are also those who use this mantra to get the extra mile out of their crew while hoping that they’ll be okay with compensation “if we get the money” or at least with a lunch of peanut butter sandwiches.

I believe many people have been on both sides of the fence, especially when it comes to your own projects. I certainly know that I’ve been in both camps. It is incredibly hard to make something that one is proud of within the very limited means that we’re all dealing with and not be forced to cut corners. 

This paragraph from the article has helped to put a few things in perspective.

No one is arguing that enjoyable work should be less so. But emotionally satisfying work is still work, and acknowledging it as such doesn’t undermine it in any way. Refusing to acknowledge it, on the other hand, opens the door to exploitation and harms all workers.

For me, I would like to go forward by assuming that someone should always be paid in some kind of way regardless of what level you see yourself at: indie, no-budget, student, etc. How much and the terms should be fairly assessed and discussed between you and the person working for you. Above all else, any disagreements on value should no longer be brushed aside by simply doing it for the love of the craft. And for me personally, to treat what I’m doing as a business that should be subject giving those who work for me the respect they deserve.  

**Any moments of hypocrisy are now fair game to my being openly mocked for not sticking to my own personal epiphanies.**