Movies in miniature:
Part 1: a visual essay

by Midi Onodera

1. 365 Movie A Day project (2006-2007).

Starting in late 2006, I created 365 short videos, one a day for one year. In 2007 I launched an elaborate website based on a Circular Slide Chart design that featured all 365 videos. This website was active for the year. In 2008, I re-published the videos on my website. Although all 365 are no longer available online, the complete collection is available on DVD through Art Metropole.

Links provided here to online videos, each about a minute long. Click on each title to see the video.


the end of summer
Summer is just a memory.

“The end of summer” was the first vidoodle or mobile video I created in Nov. 2006. I had just received a new toy camera (the Mattel Vidster) and was eager to test it out. As I was reviewing the footage, I thought, what if I challenged myself to make a movie a day? Could I do it?

Some cats are just like that.

As anyone who knows my work can attest, I like to include cats in my videos. “Kitty” is in honor of Daisy, a bold independent spirit who started life as a stray, tossed out of a pickup truck with her siblings. “Kitty” was shot on my beloved, VCam Now toy camera.

It’s all in your point of view.

I loved the look of the locker area at the gym and through the process of adding different color and movement treatments in post production, I decided that perhaps I saw these utilitarian forms in another way entirely from other people.

Singing In The Rain
Everyone loves an old favourite.

Paying homage to “Singin’ In the Rain,” an MGM masterpiece from 1952, this short video was recorded with my VCam Now which I waterproofed in a Ziploc bag for a quick shower shoot. The soundtrack consists of an old recording of “Down By The Old Mill Stream”.

I’m a private person but I have a public persona.

Privacy was shot through the peephole of an apartment where I was staying temporarily. I had never lived in an apartment before and was fascinated by the ability to spy on my neighbors. Although I waited for someone to walk by they never did.

A gentle wave of emotion

My mother and I were visiting the Butterfly Conservatory in Niagara Falls. At first I thought it would be quite boring but I was instantly struck with the delicate beauty of the butterflies. The humid conditions made for risky shooting.

2. Movie of the Week project (2009).

I was deeply influenced by the pop culture living room entertainment of my youth. Way back in the early 1970s, the ABC network took the concept of big screen entertainment and repackaged it for the prime time TV audience in the form of “The Movie of the Week”. For 2009 I decided to pay tribute to this golden age of TV and make my own movies of the week. In contrast to the larger than life entertainment moments, my versions were designed for today’s iPod audiences, quick, easy to consume and hopefully a tiny distraction from our everyday routines and obligations.

Links provided to online videos, each about a minute long. Click on each title to see the video.



my buddy
I hate to admit this, but this is a true story.

Buddy came into our home as a pal for Daisy, but they never really became friends. As a kitten, Buddy “danced” on the stove only once and fortunately I was there to capture it. I thought Buddy would become the next YouTube cat star, but sadly he remains undiscovered.

The horror of war doesn’t understand
the boundaries of time.

While travelling in Japan, I was haunted by a past disconnected to my contemporary being. After visiting Hiroshima, I began to see things as they might have been, before the destruction of the A bomb. What would happen if the unthinkable happened today? Moments suddenly became “before” and “after.”

kitchen heat
You know what they say, if you can’t stand the heat…

In the trend-setting neighborhood of Harajuku, there was a restaurant that had a closed circuit monitor of the kitchen instead of a menu in the window. I wondered if this was supposed to entice prospective customers by somehow reassuring them that their food was being properly treated. In any case, it reminded me of my part-time job as a sous chef.

cultural adaptation
We need to look at alternative methods of survival.

I don’t recall where I shot this video, all I remember is that it took quite some time to achieve the look I wanted. On a creative level, producing miniature movies allows me to take more risks with the footage and experiment more freely.

snow drifts
Even in the spring it still hurts.

I was headed to the recording studio in the middle of winter when I spotted these colorful chairs and a small table out in the snow. It was a lonely scene.

the joy of eating
La Grande Bouffe, American-style.

I love food, but I’m not a big fan of food courts. This vidoodle comments on consumption and over-consumption while paying homage to the old Alka-Seltzer commercials of the 1960s.

3. Baker's Dozen project (2010).

After making 417+ online movies I felt the need to step back, take a deep breath and look ahead to different challenges. So for 2010, I made 13 shorts posted monthly, a Baker’s Dozen.

Links provided to online videos, each about a minute long. Click on each title to see the video.



This is what happens when you push all the buttons.

While working in Times Square in NYC, I stayed at a hotel with a glass elevator. The hotel corridors were designed around an open concept rotunda, but they had added safety partitions on each floor, blocking off the view to the elevator. Later I found out that before these barriers had been erected, a few people had decided to end their lives by jumping to their death.


recurring nightmare
Rational or not, everyone has their fears.

The London underground is famous for its deep cavernous stations, Angel tube station has the longest escalator at 60m/197ft, with a vertical rise of 27.5m/90ft. There is nothing more to say other than, I don’t like heights. Shot with the Canon Power Shot SD1400 IS.

A simple misunderstanding can lead to disconcerting consequences.

In Hawaii, near Waimea Bay, I spotted a young Asian man photographing the waves. Nearby a young woman was doing the same. Although they appeared together, there seemed to be an emotional distance between them. I shot some footage using my Canon Power Shot SD1400 IS and a pair of binoculars. In editing I superimposed two images together.


Who knew he could predict the future.

New York’s Time Square is the obvious mecca for advertising. Warhol recognized that celebrity-striving was a social disease before we became digital.

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