tl;dr: be very careful when using AWS. Their UX can be highly inaccurate and it might cost you money. If it does, don’t expect any support or sympathy from them.

After this experience, I cannot honestly recommend using AWS unless you have a professional sysadmin operate it for you, even if you think you know what you’re doing.

We trusted the UX. Big mistake

We believed it would be an accurate representation of what was happening under the hood. We were wrong.

In November of 2019, I set about using AWS to back up 24TB of raw video files from our feature film shoot + some…


This year, several threads tied together my Burning Man experience: a resolution to create love rather than seek it, to tell those around me that I love them, and that for me, the burn is about learning and practicing to be a better human.

Another theme presented itself over and over: bewilderment and frustration any time I walked near Center Camp.

Here’s Center Camp on a map:

Current map

Its glorious circular pendant sits atop the heart of the city, suggesting a vital community gathering place. Strolling along its promenade evokes a sense of importance amid information bureaus, administrative services, and purchasable…


Man I love color correction. I just finished a video, and it’s always remarkable how much a color grade can do. Check out the comparison below. The first image is a log image, so it’s meant to be flatter and capture more dynamic range. The second is the fully graded image.

debbyframeoriginal

On Tuesday we dropped the #Catquarium. Check it out, two hours in a 360º cat cafe which you can watch on just your cell phone. No headset required!

Click to watch the #Catquarium

• It’s a 360º Cat Cafe

• It’s two hours long

• It’s 1 trillion pixels big
• It’s in 3D with a Google Cardboard, which Amazon has for $10

Check out the 2500-word article in Nofilmschool about how it was made, and some of our press:

“The Catquarium is our favorite by a fluffy mile.”
- Gadgette

“What better way to blast through Wednesday than spending…


thinkingcapwhoa

I’m hosting a discussion on Jan 7 at The Embassy in San Francisco called “Planning and Flaking: Can We Do This Better?” Here are some thoughts to start the discussion:

The year is 1957. You’re sitting on the couch, eating a string bean casserole and finally getting around to reading the day’s paper, when the tele-phone rings. You race across the living room to answer it. “Hello, it’s me, George! (Oh hello George.) Would you like to have dinner to-morrow at six?” Of course, you say, penciling it in your datebook. …


I love Facebook. Never before in the history of the human race have so many people been organized so well. Within seconds I can find reach out to almost everyone I’ve ever met, creating the start of a powerful hivemind. The UX of the site is generally well-done, and there’s almost no friction in using it.

I also loved Facebook’s graph search, a tool introduced several few years ago which allows custom, specific searches of people on the site: friends of friends who like rock climbing and live in San Francisco, people who have taken photos in Thailand, for example…


The Nametag Day Kickstarter ends today, and I’m experiencing a mix of excitement and relief. It’s not very much fun to be in a position of holding your hand out for money. I also would much prefer sending a single message: “Volunteer with us! It’s free!” rather than the mixed messaging of “volunteer and give money.” At the same time, those who have given have done so with excitement, and we are providing fifty people with the opportunity to feel ownership as this idea spreads across the world. It’s continuing to grow bigger than me, which is a wonderful feeling.


Here it is! Free at last!

After a year of work and over twenty film festival screenings, I am exhilarated to tell you that today, Lily in the Grinder becomes free on Vimeo and YouTube.

Watch it again. Watch it for the first time. Ponder existence.

Less than 5,000 people have seen the film so far in a year of festivals, and we want to double that in its first week on the internet. Word of mouth is the only way a film like this spreads.

Can you help by sharing the film?

You can also see it installed…


As part of the Lily in the Grinder release, I’m making available a before-and-after comparison which will give you a sense of the weeks of work that happened between the raw camera video and the finished product.

Broadly, the video went through several stages during this time:

  1. Reframing: During shooting, cinematographer Judy Phu (one of the most talented people I’ve ever worked with) and I developed a language around composition in the video. So much of the meaning exists in the comparison between frames, and we wanted some compositions to match exactly. …

I built a website with a large image in the center and a CSS3 gradient behind it. It’s kind of silly that I’m spending 880kb on a PNG file just to get transparency, I thought. Transparency is just RGB channels plus an alpha channel. While JPEG doesn’t support it, there’s no actual reason that it can’t be done, and with so much use of transparency on the web, we’re piping giant images onto mobile devices all the time.

So I found this post by Jack Turner which explains how to accomplish it. As expected, it’s conceptually simple, and HTML5’s Canvas…

Michael Morgenstern

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store