Below is an article that ran in the Vientiane Times last week and surely validates why we started Laos Essential Artistry. Above is a silk textile we purchased this summer in Sam Tai with a design that we think perfectly captures the Sam Tai mountainous landscape as seen in our photo at the very top that we took driving between Sam Tai and Sam Neua this last summer.
The unique and natural handmade silk of Laos has once again shone on the regional stage, this time receiving five first prizes at an Asean silk contest held in Bangkok last month.
Ms Manivone Keomany, who last year won the top award at an exhibition of Asean silk, also held in Bangkok, was this time awarded four first prizes at the Asean Silk Fabric and Fashion Design Contest 2010 held from August 22-29.
Six countries – Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, India, the Philippines and Laos – sent more than 300 silk products to compete at the contest held at the Impact Exhibition and Convention Centre, with Laos receiving more top prizes than any other country.
Twenty first prizes were on offer as Laos achieved the highest overall tally of 11 prizes, comprising five first places and four second places.
The handicraft leader of Xamneua district in Huaphan province, Ms Manivone, and other handicraft shops in Laos sent their products to compete on behalf of the Lao Handicraft Association.
“Last year's award was an inspiration for the group to create various unique designs to represent to the world,” Ms Manivone said.
One of the board committee members of the association, Ms Kommaly Chanthavong, who led the Lao team at the exhibition, said Lao silk has built a strong international reputation and many countries recognize the quality of the country's products.
“Even though our industries can't complete with other countries, our silks and our unique identity certainly can,” she said.
While other countries use modern machinery in the silk production process, Ms Kommaly said the quality of Lao silk is better because local producers still rely on handmade techniques, with all textiles hand woven on wooden looms and many using natural dyes.
“Our silks have become recognized because of our longstanding traditional values that we have preserved from generation to generation. Another major attraction of Lao silk is that we use a natural process,” she said.
She stated that the Lao handicraft groups working under the association have made great progress to present a wonderful image of Laos to the world through local silk.
Recently, representatives from Korea and Japan have invited the association to exhibit Lao silk in their countries.
We always love taking photos when we go to Laos and although we've taken hundreds of photos of That Luang, if we're in the neighborhood we'll take some more. This day we were nearby to visit our friend Steve, owner of Lao Mountain Coffee, whose roasting operation is within a quarter mile of That Luang, plus we were scouting for any khuts guarding the entrances to the wats surrounding That Luang. Above you will see a khut (garuda in Thailand and not as common in Laos) bolstering the corner facade of Wat That Luang with a nak guarding the stairs to the sim. Below are two photos we took of That Luang the same afternoon. One shows That Luang framed by the front gate with two naks perched above protecting That Luang, and the one below that was taken within the cloisters and we love the blue sky and clouds framing the that.
Bai was helping plant rice in one of her parent's rice paddies about three weeks ago and took the time to photograph this rainbow arching over one of the limestone karsts that surrounds Ban Na Ang. Isn't it beautiful! One Lao phrase describing a rainbow is "Ngeuak gin nam," which in English means "the ngeuak is drinking water."
Ngeuaks are a mythical/real water serpent and Patricia Cheesman writes that "“The serpent is the oldest symbol known to have been a totem of the ancestors of the Lao-Tai peoples and was shared by the Chinese in the Yangtze River basin over 6000 years ago. Whereas the Chinese told of the male serpent hunder god controlling rain, storm, earthquake, and flood, the Lao talked of their mother ngueak, a serpent goddess that had a human face and could turn into a human at will. She had the same powers over water, a crucial resource for growing rice and the source of life force and well-being of the people. The serpents guarded the treasures of the earth, living in caverns full of gems and crystal water and often ventured into the realm of humans, seducing and procreating with them. They are loved as ancestors of the Lao-Tai peoples in myths and legends. In the textiles these serpents are shown with colorful crests, bodies that curve into ‘w’, ‘v’ or ‘s’ shapes and appear to be spiraling in a criss-cross game or passing from one realm to another in procession. The crested serpent is the active, aroused form of the serpent mother."
Regardless of where we go in Laos, and regardless of how many times I've been before, I always am viewing everything as if I'm seeing it for the first time. There is always a sense of wonder in what I'm seeing, and so it is when we visit Wat Xieng Thong, probably the most famous wat in Luang Prabang. As is written in the book Ancient Luang Prabang, "Situated at the tip of the promontory of Luang Prabang, where the Nam Khan river flows into the Mekong, the site is, so legend relates, where the first boundary stone of the city was laid. The most magnificent of all Lao wats, the finest example of sacred architecture in Laos, it was built by King Setthathirat, who ruled from 1548-1571. The temple survived numerous raids by Chinese marauders and it was this temple that persuaded UNESCO to make Luang Prabang a World Heritage Site."
The first photo below is the featured photo of the monk walking by the Sim. Below that photo you can see the promontory of Luang Prabang as mentioned in the quotation above, with the Nam Khan river flowing into the Mekong. I've placed a red circle around Wat Xieng Thong.
The wat is a photographer's dream, there's so much that beckons the eye, and one has to be quick to take advantage of when a monk goes walking by. For me there is a timeless quality to this shot that's reinforced by not being able to see the monk's face. I think a good photo leaves a lot to the imagination... Really, this photo could have been taken hundreds of years ago, except for the "modern" black umbrella!
In this post we are featuring a video we took of monks chanting at Wat Visoun in Luang Prabang. In the background beneath the large Buddha statue you can barely make out a green Buddha. After the chanting we took some photos (always bring your tripod if you want to get exceptional photos!) and the green looking Buddha is actually a replica of the Emerald Buddha now residing in Bangkok, Thailand at Wat Phra Kaew. Buddha is watching...
I can listen to these monks chanting forever. You'll never be the same after sitting in one of these wats during the evening chants and allowing the pali chanting to enter into your "soul." The first time I went to Laos in November 1998 and sat in a wat like this and listened to the monks chant, I was literally covered with goose bumps for the rest of my trip. I felt like every pore in my body was wide open (although it could have been the hot peppers in the Lao food I was eating!). Those monks and other experiences in Laos changed my life forever... Just play the video and look at the photo of the Emerald Buddha and while looking at the photo and listening to the monks chant, how do you feel? Unfortunately if you click on the photo to enlarge it the video will stop, but you can always copy the photo onto your computer and then open it up to view it in a larger format.
We've been working on our videos today and the good news is that in the new Mac operating system, Snow Leopard, QuickTime version X now exports video to YouTube that is of very good quality. Five years ago we began posting video clips to YouTube, but it was near impossible to upload good quality videos. About a year ago we began uploading video to our new Vimeo Channel. But beginning today we will begin upload video to both our Vimeo Channel and YouTube Channel. The reality is that a lot more people look at YouTube and in just an hour we received our first comment about the Muang Vaen Young Girl Weaver video!
We're also beginning to seriously promote our tour to Laos in June and always one of the highlights for previous participants of our tours is to visit a wat in Luang Prabang to sit and listen to the evening chanting. It's eerie and like stepping back into time. Can't you imagine yourself sitting here inside a centuries' old wat immersed in the sound of the monks chanting? It gives me goosebumps when I listen to it...every time. And what's fun is that the style of chanting varies from wat to wat and can vary if there are a lot of younger monks (we affectionately call them monklets), a small group, large group, small wat where the acoustics are good or a larger wat where there is more of an echo effect. Wat Visoun is famous for backing up against Mt. Phusi and for it's large "watermelon" stupa.
The articles in the Vientiane Times often have interesting titles and text as the Lao journalists enjoy being "creative" in the use of the English language. Right now, as we speak, Laos is hosting the 25th Southeast Asia Games, similar in importance to our hosting the Olympics, and so they are running a series of articles to help foreign visitors learn more about their country and culture. Thailand likes to market itself as the "Land of Smiles" and I think the Lao could market Laos as the "Land of the nop (a prayer gesture formed by holding your hands with palms together in front of your chest)." Of course most people outside Laos wouldn't understand what the nop is and this article does a good job in explaining the cultural importance of the nop. I've included two photos here. The first photo I really like is taken of a nun, a "mae khao" (white mother) with her expressive hands in the nop position. The second photo below the mae khao is of women holding their hands in the nop position during the That Luang Festival. If you join us on a tour in Laos you will have plenty of opportunities to practice your own nopping!
Manners maketh the Lao
"Different cultures have many ways of greeting
each other. The French kiss each other on the cheek. The Maoris of New Zealand
touch noses in a traditional greeting. While an Australian might give you a
hearty handshake and a “G'day mate”.
Lao people have a particularly gracious and beautiful welcome that involves a gentle smile, a polite and courteous bow of the head, a raising of the hands and the greeting “sabaidee”.
When a Lao person welcomes you with “sabaidee”, it literally means “feel good”.
Sabaidee (hello) is used when Lao people meet each other or visitors. If some one asks “how are you?” you can reply with sabaidee, which means I am doing well. If you are upset or not feeling well your answer may be “bor sabai” or “bor sabaidee”.
Sabaidee is lovely word that shows politeness and friendliness to people you respect, have just met, or can even say to passing strangers and foreigners to be hospitable.
Sabaidee can be used formally and informally. For example when you greet someone on the street, you do not have to give a “nop” (a prayer gesture formed by holding your hands with palms together in front of your chest), which is a more formal greeting.
In the home or office, you are often greeted with a “sabaidee” from your hosts, accompanied by a nop.
This shows appreciation and gratitude to relatives and friends for joining them for the occasion. In this case, you should return the greeting with a similar nop. You should also smile and bow your head slightly when meeting people.
Do not lose your temper with people or embarrass them, even if communication seems very difficult. Lao people respect calmness and do not act in response to pressure or anger.
Lao people like to be friendly and smile when greeting you; even in these more modern times they want to maintain this traditional greeting.
Children and teenagers are taught by their parents and their teachers to speak politely and to nop when greeting people who are older.
Young people should give the greeting first when they meet older people to show respect. If you attend important parties or events you should greet your hosts first with a nop and a “sabaidee”. Also don't forget, if you enter a stranger's house, you should first say “sabaidee”, before anything else.
How do you greet special people?
If you want to greet monks who are visiting your house or you encounter in a temple the nop is slightly different. This time you should use two hands joined together at the fingers but slightly apart at the palms like a lotus flower bud. Then place your thumbs on the bridge of your nose between your eyes and bow your head a little, before saying “sabaidee”.
You should put your hands together, and place your thumb near the end of your nose and bow your head a little when you greet your parents.
Students should sabaidee their teacher by using two hands placed together, with the thumb under their lips and a bow of the head.
When you see any of the country's leaders or older people, you should raise your two hands joined together, with your thumb near your chin and bow your head a little.
If you want to greet your friends or a person who is slightly older than you, you should position your hands in front of your chest and bow your head a little.
In another traditional gesture, Lao people will often serve you a glass of water when you visit their home. This is to show their friendship and hospitality."
By Ounkham Pimmata
(Latest Update December 10 , 2009)
When I travel to Laos my fellow teachers always ask how my "vacation" was. It's hard to explain that Laos is a landlocked country and definitely not the Riviera! And in the rainy season traveling on dirt roads can be especially tricky. Getting up to my wife's parent's village, about a four hour (with no problems) trip can be a challenge during the rainy season (our summer). I thought for fun I would post a few photos from my trip back from Bai's village to Vientiane. It's always sort of a crap shoot about what the bus will be like and this time it was one of the more run-down buses I've been on.
Just about ten minutes from Bai's village is this one hill that becomes very difficult to get up when it's been raining and the logging trucks, etc. have chewed up the road. You can see the bus I was riding at the bottom of the hill after it slid off to the side after trying to get up. The bus to the right tried to pull us out, which it finally did, bu then we then had to wait for about an hour until a logging truck came that somehow, when it went up the hill, compacted the mud so the bus could make it up.
And then, about an hour later there was a big pop and whesh of air as one of the tires went flat.
And here's one of our YouTube videos of a bus trying to make it up the same hill. If you watch the video you have to think of the book "The Little Train that Could!"
And both times it was lightly raining as we (the passengers) had to wait out in the rain until the bus finally made it up the hill.
But when you travel in Laos, you just have to be relaxed and the problems always seem to take care of themselves and usually something will happen that turns a "lemon" situation into lemonade.
For those of you who might be thinking of ever going on one of our tours, don't worry, we don't travel on buses as we rent vans for our travel groups! But when Bai and I travel on our own, it doesn't bother us to take the bus. It's just part of being in Laos...
In looking through some of our photos showing various rice activities I couldn't help but think of the classic Lao song, Yin Sabai Saonaa, "The Contented Rice Farmer." I'm not sure how many Lao rice farmers are truly contented, but if all goes well, no droughts, no floods, few weeds, few snails, few rodent/insect pests, plenty of labor to plant, maintain and harvest the rice, then I think there definitely is contentment. Rice, is life in Asian countries and to know in whatever way one is an important part of that cycle, can provide contentment. And of course the song celebrates Lao patriotism and reflects a socialist viewpoint, but regardless, the song has a great melody and is loved by the Lao people.
In the Animoto video we made above using some of our photos from Laos we use Yin Sabai Saonaa as the musical track. Do you like it?
You can ss our set of photos from Laos showing a wide variety of rice activities on our Flickr channel here.
In reading the book Rice in Laos published by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research I came across the lyrics to Yin Sabai Saonaa and will include them in this post along the a popular version of the song. Enjoy!
Yin Sabai Saonaa (The Contented Rice
We are rice
We take plows and buffaloes to the fields.
We look for food in the forests.
We look for food in the forests.
After sunset, we go home.
Everyone in our village is very happy and contented.
Very happy, very contented.
In our village, there is rice and there are fish in the rice fields,
When the wind blows, we have fresh air,
Contented, contented farmer; contented, contented farmer.
In the afternoon, we ride wild buffaloes,
We sing songs, dance, and play the “khaen.”
We urge everyone to come together to play, work, and develop the nation.
Contented, contented farmer; contented, contented farmer.
The direction of our lives is a happy thing.
In the fields, our skin becomes dark, but we are still happy to work for our nation.
To work to fight hunger and poverty.
Contented, contented farmer; contented, contented farmer.
We are proud to use our work to develop our nation,
We have buffaloes as powerful friends,
Our leaders direct us on the right path,
Contented, contented farmer; contented, contented farmer.
We often get asked if we have sinhs pre-sewn and ready to be worn. Unfortunately that's not the way it works. Yes, in the old days women would wrap the sinh (material) around their waist and then tuck it in or wrap a cloth belt around the sinh to hold it up. An example is in the photo above of Bai dressing in the traditional clothes (sinh and blouse) of a Tai Wat woman, a small tribal Tai group located in northern Huaphan Province (somewhat similar to the Tai Dam style).
But for many, many years sinhs have been custom sewn and it is crucial that the seamstress has to take three measurements of the woman who is going to wear the sinh so the sinh will fit correctly and look stylish, without wrinkles and mis-matched patterns. You can see in the photo we use on our Lao Sinh Section that the sinhs of the two young women on the right display perfectly, while the one on the left shows some wrinkles, which ideally, if sewn correctly, will not show.
In the three photos below you see Bai being measured for a sinh that the woman will sew for Bai. The three crucial measurements are the waist, hips and length, which vary of course with each individual.
Our hand-woven silk fabric is beautiful in its own right and the fabric doesn't just have to be used for sinhs. The average sinh fabric length is call in Lao "pheun neung" with one "pheun" being about 30 x 70 inches. But if you want the sinh fabric to be sewn into a sinh for you then you'll have to locate a seamstress that will sew the sinh for you
We had a manual for sewing sinhs translated into English this last June in Vientiane and will be referring to it in future posts.
We recently sold the above storycloth and the person who bought it
asked if we could describe what was being depicted in the storycloth so
we decided to define areas and activities within the cloth we thought
needed explanation, numbered them and below we provide an explanation of
what's happening within each numbered area. Of course we encourage you to check out the variety of Hmong storycloths we carry on our Yahoo store site.
Area 2: Collecting wood. Here a Hmong man is collecting wood, though often it is children and especially teenage girls who are given the responsibility to go out and collect wood. Sometimes it means collecting dead wood on the ground, while often it means chopping down small trees or splitting small logs. Wood is collected during the dry season, from about January through early May, or whenever the rainy season begins. Even where there is electricity, almost all cooking is done over wood fires (food tastes better that’s cooked over wood fires they say).
Areas 3, 5, 16: For the Hmong their mountain rice fields and gardens are often one to three hours journey by foot and so they spend a lot of time on trails and will carry back harvested vegetables, rice panicles, etc. in bamboo packs on their backs and sometimes on horses. In area 5 the Hmong are obviously traveling to their gardens and mountain rice fields and in Area 3 and Area 16 they are coming back to their villages with their baskets/packs full.
Area 4: Planting rice. The Hmong and most rural Lao living in mountainous areas (80% of Laos is mountainous) plant rice similarly to what one sees on this story cloth. Traditionally the men will have a pole where they poke holes into the ground and the women will drop in a handful of seeds. Sometimes there will be a large group like this, sometimes just a couple by themselves. On some of our storycloths you can see the fallen trees they’ve cut down and after burning the cleared land (cut and burn/swidden agriculture) the bigger trees and stumps are just left in place and planted around.
Area 6: I don’t
think the Lao or Hmong could live without hot peppers. Most rural Hmong and Lao
rarely eat meat and hot pepper provides a spiciness to otherwise “bland” rice
when it is made into some kind of jeaow (a mortared mixture of hot pepper and
salt at its simplest and then often with added ingredients like cilantro, fish
sauce, tomatoes, mushrooms, etc ). Hot peppers are grown in these remote
gardens and if they plant enough of them then they might be able to sell the
extra for a little extra cash. There are lots of different hot pepper varieties
grown in Laos, but most are similar to what we know in the states as the Thai
Area 7: Chicken or Pigeon House. Chickens are raised most
often for use in ceremonies and as a source of meat to be offered to special
guests. And occasionally they're butchered for an average family meal. The
Hmong also like to raise pigeons, but I'm less sure about how they're used. My
wife says we’ve eaten pigeon meat in her village (she’s Lao).
Area 8: Raised wooden
storage unit to keep rice or corn dry and safe. Sometimes the legs are made
from cluster bomb canisters in regions where the bombing was heavy during the
Area 9: Hmong
houses are built on the ground with dirt flooring. Mien houses are similar,
unlike Lao and Lao Theung houses which are built on posts, with enough space
underneath the houses for women to weave, or to keep their animals at night.
Area 10: Here a
Hmong man and woman are grinding corn on a grindstone to make a gruel they can
feed the pigs or they will use it to cook for a meal. Most Hmong villages will
have at least one grind stone like this and I’ve also seen them grinding soy
beans and have some great photos taken in a remote Hmong village in Luang
Prabang Province I’ll post on our blog sometime.
Area 11 and Area 14 are connected: In Area 14 they are using a rice pounder to
separate the rice hulls from the grains of rice. The woman in this storycloth
keeps turning over all the rice until all the hulls are separated. They then
take the rice and rice hulls that are now mixed together and the woman in Area
11 is sifting the rice so that the hulls fall on the ground and then the rice
is left in the tray. They also are able to make the broken rice grains gather
toward the front of the tray where they are removed to a bowl and later fed to the
chickens as the boy is doing next to the woman.
Area 12: Feeding pigs: Here the Hmong woman is probably
pouring the mixture they’ve cooked with the tubers they’ve grown in their
gardens and dug out of the ground when they’re up to 18 inches long and three
or four inches wide, plus they will add rice hulls. Most Hmong and Lao families
have pigs which they will use for sacrificing for ceremonies and parties and to
sell when they need money.
Area 13: Here the Hmong woman has dug up tubers
that she is cutting up to be put in a pot where they’ll cook the tubers in the
afternoon over a fire and then when it cools they’ll add rice hulls and feed to
Area 15: Pineapples: Pineapples are raised best in mountainous areas of Laos, and although they can be picked anytime, the main harvest season begins in the rainy season around June. Pineapples grown in Southeast Asia are incredibly delicious and sweet, with none of the sourness Americans are used to with pineapples shipped by air from Hawaii.
Area 17: Mother
taking care of child in field dwelling. Because rice farms and gardens are
often far away from villages the Hmong will build small structures that provide
shade and where they can rest and eat while taking a break from the demanding
work out in the field. Often time older siblings will take care of any babies,
but perhaps here they’re out weeding, or helping plant or harvest the rice…
Area 18: Here a
man and woman are hoeing weeds in a mountain rice farm and/or garden. Once the
rainy season begins the weeds grow as fast as the rice plants and the Hmong
have to be vigilant in keeping the weeds at bay so the rice can grow tall. A
mountain rice field will be weeded usually two times during the growing cycle,
sometimes three times.
Area 19: Feeding
horses. Horses don’t seem to be as common as they used to, when roads were
non-existent or mud tracks at best and the easiest way to transport goods was
by horseback. Here the horses are
being fed stems from rice that has already been harvested or some kind of grass.
Area 20: Here a
man and woman are in their garden picking long green beans that you can see
that are grown next to a pole where they can twine around the pole as they grow
just like our green bean plants do here in the states. The Hmong and Lao like
to pound them in a mortar with fish sauce, hot peppers, garlic, and lime juice
and then a variety of other ingredients can be added depending on the season,
availability and taste preferences, like small tomatoes or carrots. And if they
let the beans stay on the plant they’ll turn yellow and then they will take the
seeds and steam them (like rice is steamed) and eat them. They are considered
very delicious, sort of like eating peanuts.
Area 21: In
area 21 the rice is being harvested with a sickle (everything is done by hand)
and then is laid out in small groups in the field to dry. After a few days the
rice is then thrashed in a wide variety of ways, sometimes the panicles are hit
against board set up in the rice field where the grains come off the panicles and
gather in a pile on the ground (probably some kind of burlap-type fabric they
make by weaving bamboo strips together is laid down first). The rice grains are
then put in a basket and when there is a moderate breeze the men will climb a
ladder and pour out the rice and the empty hulls will float away and the solid
grains of rice encased in the hull will fall straight to the ground. These are
then gathered to be hulled as seen in Area 14 using the rice pounder.
Area 22: In this
area the woman is picking eggplant. There are many kinds of eggplants that are
grown in Laos. They have purple and green eggplants, some long and narrow like
cucumbers and some that look like our traditional eggplants as seen in this storycloth.
Actually most eggplants grown in Laos are the size of small and medium-sized
tomatoes. They can be eaten raw or cooked. They are really good when they are
made into a jaeow as explained in Area 6 with hot peppers.
Area 23: Cooking over a fire. For the Hmong and most Lao, cooking is always done over a wood fire. Sometimes they’ll use charcoal that’s made by villagers, and if they had electricity and the money to buy a small stove, they could cook on a stove, but most Hmong and Lao will tell you that food tastes very different when cooked on a stove and they prefer food cooked on a fire.
Area 24: Here
they are picking corn and cucumbers. In Laos this is what they call the “farm
cucumber.” It’s grown and picked when it’s big and people like this one because
it has a lot of flesh and the skin is not too thick. They love to eat it raw
and like to dip the slices in salt and it’s also used in the kind of salad
where the ingredients are mortared similar to the papaya salad once can get
easily in Thai restaurants.
Area 26: Here the man is cutting a bunch of bananas. The bananas are grown in people’s gardens and one tree will yield one bunch of bananas and then you cut it down and many small banana trees will sprout from the base of the big banana tree. The Hmong and Lao prize the banana tree just not for it’s fruit, but the leaves are highly valued for cooking and wrapping food and using in ceremonies.
Area 27: Here the woman is stacking the harvested rice panicles in a rounded pile to dry before the next process of threshing the rice as seen in Area 21.
If anyone has anything to add please leave a comment. We're always ready to learn more!
Favorite photo time! I think all photographers get goosebumps when they see monks and constantly are seeing one compelling composition after another. And often when you look at a photo, like the one above, the viewer doesn't know the story behind the photo, and there usually is one, and one of the advantages of this blog is being able to tell the story! In this instance, this photo was taken in a small wat in the village of Muang Vaen where some of our most beautiful Lao textiles are woven.
Sometimes it's difficult to find the time to actually leisurely walk through a village when you're there for "business," but we always try to find the time because you'll never know what you will see and discover. It's really what I enjoy the best. When we walked by the building above, the sleeping quarters for the couple of monks for this wat, I saw this monk look out the window opening and then disappear. My wife was talking to the other monk who was on the porch by the front door where this monk then joined the other monk. I kept thinking, wow, that window opening is a great frame for the monk, but how am I going to get him to come back? Sometimes it's easy to just let it slide and move on, but I couldn't pass this up so I asked Bai if she could ask the monk if he would come back and peer out the window. Sometimes they are shy or just don't want their photo taken, but most monks will accommodate to "visitors" and this one quickly went back to this window where I took several shots. I would have liked to see him smile a little, but he wouldn't "nyeem" (Lao word for smile), but I still really like the shot.
I wonder what is he thinking?
Animoto videos are pretty darn cool. We see great potential with the videos for the work we do. And while most of the process is automated in an intuitive way, there's enough flexibility to let someone creatively control some of the process. I like being able to add our own music tracks and iTunes makes it easy to convert music tracks to mp3's. As long as the track is not protected you'll be able to convert it to MP3format which is required by Animoto. And for the video beneath this one featuring our Hmong storycloths we extracted the audio from a video we took in Xieng Khuang Laos of young very talented Hmong girls singing Kwv Txhiaj, a kind of sung poetry. We did that in iMovie exported the audio as an AIF file, imported it into iTunes and then converted it to an MP3 file. We will soon be experimenting with adding some video clips to the video too. Lots of potential, so look forward to more Animoto videos from Laos Essential Artistry!
Like/love photography and want to take photos like these in Laos? Or even better? Think about going on our tour to Laos next June. Limited to six people. The tour will provide plenty of fantastic photo opportunities, count on it. More info on our Yahoo store site here.