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Google Glass Filmmaking Is Coming, Like it or Not
Adam L. Brinklow | Photo: Courtesy Creative Commons | March 20, 2014
Is Glass the future of indie filmmaking—and do we want it to be?
Amid the teapot-sized tempest over Google Glass, it's fair to wonder if the high-tech specs are good for anything besides courting controversy. So Varathit Uthaisri, a filmmaker at Google's Creative Lab, made a stopmotion movie with his pair—basically just to see if it could be done. The short film Catch, premieres at San Francisco's Disposable Film Festival tonight. (Or you can watch it on youtube.)
Catch is only a little over two minutes long but it took a dozen people four days of shooting and 10 weeks of post-production. Uthaisri strung 1,000 Glass-photographed illustrations together into a quirky cartoon about a guy who writes an important number on his hand only to find that the digits have a mind of their own. "Glass is meant to seem like part of your body and to be hands-free, so we thought it was natural to do something with the hands," Uthaisri says.
Uthaisri's little flick is one of the first of its kind but probably not the last. Five film schools (four of them in California) partnered with Google to put Glass into classrooms last year so that student filmmakers can experiment with it. Adult film star James Deen made the inevitable Google Glass porn flick last summer for the tech-themed porn site MiKandi. (MiKandi's Jennifer McKewan insists that theirs, not Uthaisri's, is the first true Glass movie, citing the, ahem, "hard work" the cast put into the film.)
Uthaisri admits Glass isn't great for shooting movies. For one thing, it's nearly impossible to frame a shot because there's no viewfinder. But the point, he says, is to experiment. Once you strap it onto certain people's heads there's no stopping them from at least trying to shoot something, so best to get a feel for it now.
Will the anti-Glass crowd give movies a fair shake? "I probably shouldn't comment on that," Uthaisri says. "I do work for Google, after all." An anonymous spokesman via email for anti-Glass site Stop the Cyborgs says it's a mistake to let the device's features distract from its potential for insidious surveillance. But Daen de Leon of GlassholeFree.com says he thinks Glass movies are a neat idea—provided the actors know they're being filmed. The Disposable Film Festival's Carlton Evans says how people feel right now probably doesn't mean much.
"I remember when just having a cell phone meant you were a horrible yuppie," Evans says. If Glass proves its merits then it'll stick. "Besides, I think the movie is charming."