Thursday, December 30, 2010

Back in Action! The Marina, Video and More...

Thanks to everyone who participated so politely on the Marina Green today. It was a lovely bubble day, wasn't it? Let me know if you got any good pictures!

Natasha is in her 16th month!

New video is up at! If you've seen me in a park recently, be sure and check there to see what we can REALLY do when the weather is right and the participants are super bubble-skilled.... ;)

Took a bubble hiatus after a mega-bubbly Fall 2010 made the fun seem The horror!
But now, I'm back in action, planning Bubbling San Francisco to shoot all Spring with yet another bubble MAESTRO (the brilliant Brian Lawrence from San Jose) in addition to Sterling and (I hope) Rebecca, who were so fantastic in Bubbling Sutro Heights Park...and hopefully a bubbler or two from out of the area as she/he/they pass through town. The theme so far: hoop work. Stay tuned! I have a lot to learn in that area...

Also, I'm planning to bubble in parks by request (see the top of the page) once per month. E-mail me if you'd like me to stop by your way!

January 22nd: Antioch!

February is up for grabs!

Monday, October 11, 2010

A timid toe dipped into the murky waters of commerce...

Might wanna double-click over to youtube to get the full image.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Nastasha is one. Bubbles were clearly expected.

Boy what a week.
Art Opening was AWESOME! They made a video and you can see bubbles at the very beginning...
..Sterling's hands at 2:07 and my daughter in the middle of the pic at 2:32. So proud to be a part of this!!!! So much lovely celebration of such a lovely city in such unlovely times....


Somebody very friendly on SBF sent some bubble work my way...and I found myself briefly a startled member of the jet set, flying out directly from the reception in that video to shoot a commercial in Malibu.
I took enough concentrate (Thanks Bryce for telling me often enough that concentrates were the way to go that I finally listened...) in a dawn jug to make 8 gallons of juice. The concentrates are amazing and instant--I just mix my stuff up with a cup of warm water per cup of dawn and then bottle it. Two cups of this into a gallon of distilled water makes almost instant, excellent solution.
I almost hate to say this, but I've completely backed off of the glycerin. I now have three ingredients plus water and I can't seem to improve it.
I admit, the solution's super gooey...but that gooey self-healing saved my life in that shoot! It was TOTALLY pack-up-your-bubble-stuff-and-go-home weather--not worth a minute's time. I was stuck on the beach in high wind with money almost palpably pouring down the drain every second of this production they had going on...and I kept managing to launch these big floofy bubble-amoeba into the frame, and they would close...even though it took tremendous concentration. I suspect that (wonderful, friendly and ultra-professional) crew has no idea that it was only many, many hours of practice with the big poles that allowed them to get anything at all. They almost decided to have actors trained by bubblers to make the bubbles...that would have been disastrous in this weather!

TSA TOTALLY searched my bag in both directions, opened the J-Lube...but I had everything marked clearly and repeatedly, so all they really had to do was believe that I really do make giant bubbles...and things got through. The four foot duffle was not charged for oversize in either direction (United) though it came out the oversize baggage chute when I got home.

I felt a little funny having asserted that I would not do bubbles for pay and then taking this gig. But, really, I don't want to do parties--especially kids parties--for pay, because the unpredictability is to stressful and the I'm also very careful about doing-what-I-love for work. My brother's a professional musician and he has seen people's most beloved activity become drudgery once commodified. So...I fumbled around for a way to avoid the decision--looked up the client company's human rights record and they are pretty awesome on that score, actually. And I did the gig. And, I'd probably do it again. But bubbling for yet...I'll just do that for fun, when I feel like it. So, I changed the website to say that I don't do parties, but not that I don't perform for pay. Because that just became a lie. :) And I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity!

Watch for some new equipment designs coming soon...
And that pro-shoot shoot made me realize that I REALLY want to make my next video! So, coming soon....!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Celebrate San Francisco with me!

In this photo, Natasha is almost in her very last week of being zero years old!!!And I, of course am wearing my "Island of Hors d'oeuvres" t-shirt while we wile away the hours in Ventura, CA...

I just dropped off the Bubble Project Loop DVD and player at the Mission Cultural Center! You should come see the show!
Thanks to Jeremiah for the great picture they used on the website!
And thanks to Sterling for being so understanding when I called him with my best Barry-White-swallowing-gravel imitation and said I was too ill to do our long-awaited video shoot in Sutro Heights Park.
I'm hoping for...mid-September to try again...?

The bubbles WILL descend from the Sutro Heights to the Ocean Beach. They will; I swear!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Revving Up the Bubble Doin's

Natasha is in her 12th month!!!

Finalllllly back in action here. Shooting starts for our next chapter SATURDAY! In the meantime, for those who've assumed I was musically challenged because of the videos' quietness, I made a teaser reel for which I whipped out a quick tune on the computer ('whipped out' meaning 'pulled my hair out learning garage band for 5 hours starting around 10pm').
And the youtube homepage has been gussied up a bit...
Had a wonderful time bubbling with fambly a few Sundays ago. Look at 'em go!
As far as me in this picture, well, white pants=laundry day, 'nuff said. ;)
More soon!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Video of GBP III and NMM I

Giant Bubble Party III from Mike L Miller on Vimeo.

Home movies from Lakeside Park on Fathers Day. Thanks to everyone who participated!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fathers Day GBP III

Natasha is in her tenth month! She is now affectionately referred to as Hurricane Natasha...

Thanks so much to everyone who participated in our third Giant Bubble Party--we filled the sky with all sizes of bubbles on a scale that I could only have dreamed of a year ago...
Video and pictures coming soon...

Monday, May 31, 2010

7 Down, 2 to Go!

Natasha is in her 9th month still....

And the Tank Hill Video is DONE!
(Gotta click the arrows to enlarge, hit play and then pause to let it pre-load...then after it's fully loaded, hit play and enjoy!)

Bubbling Tank Hill from Mike L Miller on Vimeo.

The whole Project was virtually complete--one last installment: "Bubbling San Francisco," involving multiple scenic vignettes, to go--when I trotted up Tank Hill last March and found a site quietly insistent upon its own segment. A singular City view and startling breeze patterns made it a must. Enjoy! Please comment!

^that text^ comes with the video...There are in fact two more videos to go.

I'm counting on my friend Django, who shot the telephoto bits in the Tank Hill episode, to help me focus on the bubbling by running all three cameras in Sutro Heights Park, where I plan to go full circle by making it all about GIANT bubbles, as much as I can, which may mean many trips back for good weather, good solution, good shots...

It's weird, I'm becoming disenchanted with the glycerine and retreating to the simple Dawn, Water, J-Lube and Baking Powder mix I used a year ago. My big bubbles just seem weighed down and quick-drying with the glycerine...which is totally counter-intuitive...but that's where I am now. I was watching the Spreckels Lake/ GBP II Warm-Up video--which was with that old, simple mix--- and thinking, heck, I haven't gotten consistency like that since I started adding ingredients....Harumph!... Also going to start experimenting from square one with some radically different mixes that have caught my eye over the past year. Stay tuned...

June Morley, purple-bucketed bubbler extraordinaire from the U.K. asked for some close-ups of the bubble equipment so, here's a picture and a video:

Also, I'm collecting location-scouting video with which I am going to make a very special video proposal to the SBF crew, see if I can get bubblers passing through my area in the coming months (years?) to contribute a moment at a site of their choosing for the final Bubble Project episode... Stay tuned!

Giant Bubble Party III June 20th. Don't miss it!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

slow as a Tank Hill

Natasha is in her 9th month!

The Tank Hill Project has involved multiple trips up the mountain, a whole ton of reject footage, some WONDERFUL help from friends (thanks Dad, Django and Ted!!!!) and now I must edit it viciously while living a very full life. So, maybe you'll see it in...June?

The Oakland Museum of California Re-opening event was LOVELY. Brian and Sterling brought lots of toys and solution which made the sheer variety of size, shape and quantity of bubbles unlike any event I've yet attended. They also helped me carry my stuff around, took some video, fielded was a really great time. Thanks Brian and Sterling!!!

I think the videos can all be seen bigger by clicking on the Vimeo link...

Ode to the Turntable Crew from Michael L Miller on Vimeo.

More bubble backstory. There's some nifty reject bubble footage at the end...

And its short...

And I really want to thank Ted and Dad for getting so lovingly caught up in my near-miss vision. I learned a TON and got to spend some lovely quality time...

In fact, I can further thank Ted--and hopefully you'll thank me for it too--by sending folks to peruse with joy and wonder his alternately lovely and hilarious (often both) photography and captions (seriously, the captions are a big part of the joy for me...) over here:

Oh and Doy, there's video from the Oakland Museum...

OMCA Clips from Michael L Miller on Vimeo.

Home movies of the OMCA bubble shenanigans.

Teaser: Bubbling Tank Hill from Michael L Miller on Vimeo.

Someday I will edit again...someday....

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Soooo Much coming soon!

Sutro Heights Park!
Tank Hill!
New Bubble Makers!
Technological Innovations via Joyous Collaborations!!
Bubbling by invitation at the Oakland Museum!!
A Baby that says "Buh! Buh!"
Blogs with Complete Sentences!!

All in progress or coming soon!!!

Look, the Baby!

And just so you know that I've actually been working on this stuff, here's the first test video for the process I intend to use on Tank Hill...hopefully to much better effect and without some of the first-try glitches you'll see here...but you'll get the idea...

Carousel Cam Test 1 from Michael L Miller on Vimeo.

The view at Tank Hill really puts the PAN in Panorama, so I became obsessed with making a turntable for the cameras...After countless planning e-mails, trips to Fry's, Home Depot and OSH and several delightful hours in the workshop with Dad and Ted...I stumbled upon a model display turntable that seems to work and have begun the video test phase. I have much to learn but there appears to be hope that the thing just may be do-able! Woohooo! Stay Tuned!


Monday, March 15, 2010

Lazy Blog with just pics and video

Oy vey so much to say
So much to do
and no time today

I'll post the pictures and the video then
tell you more later when I'm back again :)

Natasha is in the first week of her 7th Month:

The Bubble Project has descended upon Buena Vista Park for the last time.

For Video: FULL SCREEN and HD Highly recommended! (You may need to click 'HD on,' then the full screen arrows and then click pause to load, for smooth playback)

Bubbling Buena Vista Park from Michael L Miller on Vimeo.

Mike and a very special guest join the bubbles converging on Buena Vista Park and see what they can add to the mix. Episode 6 of Mike Miller's Bubble Project.

The was fog and there were dogs and there was a special guest and I have to sleep now... Please comment or let me know you were here in some special way...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Natasha is in her 24th week:
The Bubble Project is in it's 14th week, Buena Vista Park II!
Yes, I've actually bubbled in the park twice already, and the views, near and far, inspired me to try to get some top-shelf help for one more trip back...the video may be epic...we'll see... I'm now super portable, with detachable loops so that I can carry a single set of wands and bubble up a storm. It was incredibly foggy last Monday--it felt like the park was taking revenge on me for joking for years that the park's trees make the 'Buena' Vista not-so-Buena. The views are incredible, when the fog isn't thick enough for a goldfish to swim through. But I had a lot of surprised, happy passers-by picking up my cards and a lot of worried dogs cocking an ear and whining at some giant spheres. Oddly, the solution that worked quite well for the big bubbles this time just wouldn't support the little ones. So baffling!
Please come help me make a SEA of BUBBLES, of all sorts, this Saturday at Dimond Park in Oakland, near Fruitvale and MacArthur (google map link at the top of the blog page until it's moot) at Noon!!
More next week!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I Snooze I Win!

Natasha is in her 22nd Week:
And the Bubble Project has been destroyed by the President!
No, not really.
Actually, Sunday morning I woke up exhausted and thought to myself in an internal voice between Droopy and Beaver Cleaver "Oh nooo, I have to get up early tomorrow and do bubbles with cameras and..." And I startled completely awake and thought, "What?! Hey! Mike! That's not what it's about! Do you want to go Monday? There's no rule; you don't have to go..." Droopy Cleaver shook his head slowly. "Okay. D-do you want to do bubbles without cameras...?" Droopy shook his head. "That's okay, buddy, do you want to do bubbles somewhere simple like Lakeside Park...?" His lower lip trembled as he shook his head again a little faster. "Awww, that's okay, buddy. It's for fun! Did you forget it's for fun? No one will mind if you take a week off. Because...check this's just for fun! That's right! You sleep or watch TV or whatever you want, okay, big guy? Okay. And, wait now; never forget that you're great, even if you don't bubble every Monday (chuckle). Yeah, of course you are!" Droopy half-purses his lips, half-smiles, blushing a little as he nods...
Welcome to my internal landscape. I'm good with kids because I am a kid, to whom I try to be nice.
Had a client cancel this week and did a reconnaissance mission into Buena Vista Park. I was running around like Francois Truffaut, holding my hands up in a frame shape, planning where to put cameras NEXT Monday... It was really fun! So incredibly beautiful, 360 degrees of views with wonderful trees in the foreground and the whole city spread below...This project has really broadened my ability to see. And I came up with something like 20 great set-ups I'd like to do, so I'm really hoping I can get some help from someone who can be seduced by the possibility of playing with my bubble toys...or who just would like to be part of the project. This Monday is a holiday for many, so, maybe...? Please share the videos with people who like sparkly things! And invite me to a park near you, so I don't forget how to have fun. That would be lame! I mean bubbling a park near you would be GREAT; forgetting how to have fun would be lame. LAME! :)
Since I have no video of my own this week, I'll share some of my all-time favorites with you:

Half a minute me goosebumps.

Every time someone is amazed by my bubbles in a bubble, I think they oughta see THIS!

The bubbler who invited me back into the fold after I foolishly spent a few bubble-free years. He also designed, built and then LENT ME the giant 20ft bubble wands you see in the Bernal and Mt Davidson videos. The Bubblesmith, indeed!

This guy is ENDLESSLY inventive, and he suggested the design for the garland multi-loop I use to make those flurries of medium-big bubbles!
Inspiration for my project, for sure!
A fantastic old school bubble act.

This gent has given me TONS of free advice...perhaps he deserves a credit on the project, too!
The one and only.

There are SO many that I could post!!!

Cheers all.
Let me know you're out there!


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Holly Park Shenanigans

Natasha is in her 21st week.
And the Bubble Project is in its 11th week: Holly Park!
OK so, those of you who grew up with Sesame Street maybe singing, "One of these things is not like the others..." and you'd be right: Holly Park involves far fewer steps, far less elevation and lovely but much more humble views than the previous spots. Frankly, I was tired of walking so far up, I have a new client at 8:50 Monday mornings so I didn't want to be pressed for time...and I really wanted wide open spaces to allow for some revealing shots of the amazing bubble conglomerations that are produced by the bubble arrays I've made (following first a design of Keith Michael Johnson's and then elaborating on that by increasing the scale from 1 yard loops to 3 yard loops, and, finally, adding more rows below the top one as suggested by Bubblesmith Sterling Johnson--whose giant tri-string can be seen in the Bernal and Mt Davidson videos btw. Thanks guys!)

I arrived late--had only about 30 minutes to bubble--and was startled by a wind shortage. That's what I get for not going up very high. Yet when I arrived home and looked at the footage, I was stunned to see sights I've never seen before. It's important to me to assert that none of the bubble colors are altered in the videos--I don't even mess with exposure except in establishing shots of locations, which sometimes are less than stellar because my only camera with a zoom lens is not HD but old school digital tape, so it can look a little washed out. But if I use bubble footage from it, washed out it stays. I use that one to capture the more glassy, ephemeral stuff where the shapes of the bubbles themselves are more striking than the colors. The HD cameras are great for the amazing intricate hues we see in the sort of honeycomb conglomerations of bubbles that come out of the arrays. I practically choked when I saw the low-angle vivid bright green and yellow kaleidoscope revealed in a few of the shots with Eucalyptus trees behind the bubbles. That was a new one for me and I hope other people enjoy it, too. It was also fun to stumble on an ending piece when I noticed the oddly satisfying bubble bombs descending into the grass in the last shot. Next I have to find a better way to mount a camera on the wands or mount one high so bubbles can avoid the ground but I can still get a shot from right next to the array, with kaleidoscopic effects in the foreground and huge lazy bubble clumps slowly descending in the background. The pole-mounted camera in this video is just too darn shaky and the footage doesn't really fit the aesthetic--I discarded about ten times the amount you see in the movie, which was sad because it was breathtaking...and nauseating, so...hadda go.

The goal was to capture lotsa big bubble structures and I think mission accomplished! So it's on to Buena Vista Park (back to trekking up hills, sigh) where I'm not sure what I'll do...but it'll probably involve soap and water.

Onward! Upward!

Friday, January 29, 2010

MD Wrap!!

Natasha is in her 20th Week:
The Bubble Project is in its 10th Week: Mount Davidson 3!!!
Longtime friend and hikebuddy Jeremiah (seen here at a distance), asked me months ago if we could get together and he could shoot pictures of some fancy bubbles...and we finally calendared it for last Saturday. We had intended to go to Lakeside Park by the bandstand where the air is PERFECT...but then I saw a weather report and realized that Saturday might be the only break in the storm for a number of days, and perhaps we should go to Mount Davidson instead, since Monday might be stormy again (and I'd have to carry all my own equipment!). Luckily for me, Jeremiah was game and we headed across the bridge at 6:30am last Saturday. It rained like crazy all the way there and then stopped just as we arrived, only to start again in earnest just as I began packing up the gear after playing for a couple of hours. I can't wait to see his pictures and I'm grateful that he asked to do this because if I hadn't gone until Monday I'd have been rained out AGAIN! Thanks Jeremiah! (He carried a lot of my stuff, too!)
My solution seemed overly gooey, the bubbles didn't last, and I became so enamored of giant arrays of bubble tubes that I made hardly any smaller, free-floating conglomerate bubbles with the new arrays. (BTW I have Sterling Johnson to thank for that design--he saw the previous video with the four-loop wand and suggested I add more loops below, so of course I made a monstrosity that is very hard to lift when wet, but so stunning to see in action.)
It seemed only right to acknowledge the location's significance, so I added a note at the end of the movie to say that I mean no disrespect by bubbling at a memorial site; in fact, I hope it can be taken as my own best sort of tribute.

It is very exciting to me to feel like I'm edging toward a reasonable video facsimile of the joy of in-person bubbles. It's quite a puzzle, but I feel like I'm uncovering a surprisingly apt formula:
*Still backgrounds to emphasize the dynamism of the bubbles
*Actual distant city soundscapes to emphasize the quietness that, I now realize, is an important part of my love of bubbling
*Multiple angles to hint at the startling variety of sights to be enjoyed in a single bubble passing through a lovely space, morphing, refracting, reflecting and transmitting colors and images...
There's a lot more thought about imagery and repetition and such, but I'll let folks notice that as they watch... :)
I hope people will share the videos with friends and family, so the people who, like me, see this stuff and are absolutely captivated, all get to see it. I'm also imagining musicians being inspired to write some bubble music with which we can collaborate on a future short, or maybe a best-of meta-short, when the project is done or moving on from San Francisco.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Escape to Mount Davidson...Ad Infinitum (Sigh)

Natasha is in her 19th week

The Bubble Project is in its 9th week: Mount Davidson 2!!!

AND contrary to the last post, with a little luck I will be heading to Holly Park a WEEK from Monday, because next Monday I have to go back for a third attempt at Mount Davidson. This morning it was dark, windy and lovely in a very non-bubble-friendly way (the video is actually the beginning of an ongoing reel of bubble dues, starting with this past November's lonely start to the Giant Bubble Party II at the Exploratorium):

Bubble Dues from Michael L Miller on Vimeo.

I have wonderful new toys and am quite excited to go back because the summit area in front of the enormous cross is tree-lined and, as I'd hoped, makes a wonderful wind-break. The rain actually HURT when it was hitting me at as I stood at the unprotected lookout point, but just 50 feet away between the trees the winds were reduced by a good 70%! This bodes well for whenever the weather decides to be kinder! Stay tuned...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Blustery Goodness

Natasha is in her 18th week.
The Bubble Project is in it's 8th Week: Mount Davidson!!
Guess what! The highest point in San Francisco is also a very windy place! I could only use the high-wind garland but it was a joy to watch the evolving shapes zip up and over the easternmost overlook and down the other side into the woods. I got some truly lovely video with my new tiny, flexible tripods but I suspect I'll get more, so I'm saving it... My tarp was too lightweight to drain drippings effectively back into the bucket as I'd intended so I ended up just cramming the whole soaked thing into the backpack as I left. Still it was nice to be extra respectful of this Natural Areas Program soil.
I'm going back this Monday (holiday!) to try and get more bubble variety and break out the NEW garland, based on a design suggested by Sterling Johnson, which made passers-by and me gasp and shake our heads in wonder when I tested it at Lakeside Park (not in the video from New Years--this is a WHOLE different animal). Actually, I'll have all my toys and could really use some videography help and/or co-bubblers! One never knows what the elements will have in store...but even if bubbling doesn't work out, what a lovely way to start the day. Message me if you'd like to participate! Holly Park the week after!


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Crazy Wonderful Progress

Natasha is in her 17th Week:
And the Bubble Project is in its 7th Week: Corona Heights Park!

I e-mailed two folks at the city of SF's Natural Areas Program as well as the Nature in the City Project to see if they would comment on that pesky (vital!) environmental impact question (see two blogs down) and I haven't heard back yet but I hope to volunteer some time to one or the other, no matter what they might say about my current project; I've been hiking these hills avidly for years now and I'd like to help keep them vibrant and healthy for Natasha's generation.

The video is a head-and-shoulders above anything else I've done so far. Finally I feel like I'm getting close to capturing a tiny hint of the wonder and loveliness one experiences when in the presence of the real thing. I could seriously put my Quicktime viewer on repeat and watch it all day. I hope it makes you as happy as it does me! Share it with a friend.

Of course, Full Screen HD viewing HIGHLY RECOMMENDED(it may help to pause it and let it load for awhile). Also, I noticed on my Dad's Apple the embedded video shows up chopped in half. If this happens, just double click and it should take you to youtube. Actually, to go straight there, just click HERE.

Thinking about my four-loop wand and last summer's and November's lovely bubble parties, I'm beginning to envision a whole group of us with multiple-loop wands of various sizes--Wow, we could turn some heads! June, Lakeside Park, Oakland! Be there!!

I'd love to hear from you if you enjoy any aspect of this craziness.


Friday, January 1, 2010

A Pause... + New Years at Home in O-Town

Natasha is in her 16th Week.

I wanted to take a full two weeks to allow everyone who might have thoughts to respond to the environmental impact question (see previous entry, below), so I didn't head for a hilltop this week. So far, it looks like:

The Project Will Continue!

with a few adjustments

a. I will check with the USFWS to make sure I am never planning to bubble in protected habitat.

b. Though it appears environmental impact is almost completely negligible, I have set up a monthly donation to in the spirit of offsetting (and surpassing on the green side) any negative effects of what I do.

c. Again, though the impact is probably negligible, the most likely location for any ill-effects is right around the buckets where the most drips fall, so I will set up absorbent material there and, whenever possible, rinse the area with water just before I go.

d. I will add environmental impact Q&A to the info card I hand out to folks with questions.

e. As I continue to learn more, I will alter my activities accordingly!

This week I rung in the New Year bubbling in Lakeside Park, my favorite bubble spot, by the bandstand (here's what you can do there in the wee hours of the morning: 'mike's best bubble video') and I put together an absurdly long (but lovely) video because it was so nice to have a camera person! Thanks Tontra!

If you want to know when you can catch up with the bubbles in person, send me a note!

Come out and play!