Aspect Ratios

It’s short film competition time at work again. This year, in an attempt to prove how social-media-savvy and cloud-friendly we are, the decision was made to have the entire competition on Instagram, which meant a 15-second limit across the board. This was fine by me, although I’d never used Instagram before. I made a few films, downloaded the app onto my tablet, then immediately began cursing the name of Instagram and anyone who had anything to do with it.

In a holdover from its hipsteriffic origins, Instagram seems to think it’s too good for the rest of the Internet – it wants you to do everything via its mobile app, which makes editing and uploading anything other than a few seconds of shaky crap shot on your cellphone a chore. And it’s square. Fucking SQUARE. Who the fuck shoots square movies? After making a few, I copied them to my tablet and went to upload them, only to realise that I was going to have to go back and reformat them all.

You can see the original entries here, but I’ve put them all up on YouTube in HD widescreen format as God intended. Below are the “real” versions of each film, with a bit of director’s commentary.

How to Tie a Tie

Not a lot to say about this one – just a couple of sight gags finishing on a sweet, sweet 80s reference.

The music at the start is the delightfully-named “Moondots and Polkabeams” by Podington Bear.

Bobble Cats

The bobble cats were a gift brought back from Japan by a friend. They are fairly maddening to watch and I’d had the idea to do a short just alternating between zooming in on them and zooming in on my reaction for a while. Then I was browsing through the Free Music Archive and came across “Caliente! Caliente!” by Mam Patxanga and knew I need to find an excuse to use it for something. It seemed a good fit here. (I used Audacity for the distortion at the end.)

This was the only one I couldn’t crop to a square for Instagram, so it had to get letterboxed, with the exception of the final shot of the diabolical cats. I’m not sure if it works better or worse like that.

Sad Phone

Every year, the competition results state that you can’t use anything that would violate copyright, and I try to be a good boy and comply. (Yes, the How to Tie a Tie one uses “Oh Yeah” by Yello, but fuck it, it’s only three seconds.) The submitted version of this one used another track from the Free Music Archive (“There’s Probably No Time” by Chris Zabriskie), but we all know that when it comes to a shot of someone staring wistfully at rain on a window, Sarah McLachlan is the only real choice.

The “rain” was actually me spraying a hose on the window, or, for the shot taken inside the house looking out, my five-year-old son spraying a hose on the window. He had fun. The rain sound effect was added later – do you like how I used different sounds for the outside and inside shots? And made it quieter for the sad face close up? Little details amuse me.

(More than one person mentioned that they didn’t realise the image on the phone in the last shot is a sad face with a tear – guess I didn’t make it distinct enough.)


Sticking with tradition here – every year has featured a film that involved me writing at my dining table, so I figured I should do it again for this one. The banana puppetry was supplied by me and my wife (for the shots where you can see me as well as them). Every one who sees this lot seems to have a different favourite. I think I like Bobble Cats the best, myself – I think this one is the weakest.

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