Wednesday, January 14, 2015

You Should Quit That Fantasy of Being a Third-Rate Movie Actor

Enemy is a deeply weird movie. It totally makes Toronto into a Polanski - esque late 60's noir thriller.
It's somewhere just north of Eraserhead but not by as much as you might think. The Pendereski-like score really helps.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Fire and Fury

I'm a Harry Connolly partisan. Basically he could tell me he's doing a re-write of the phone book and I'd sign up for his Kickstarter campaign. So maybe there's something wrong with his writing that I just can't see. No, that isn't it. Everything he produces is perfect.
His previous series was the 20 Palaces series and it was just freaking awesome. Indeed, the first book of the series starts off in such a way that I think it should be used as a model for how novels should start.
Comparatively speaking, his new novel The Way Into Chaos starts out slowly. I think everything doesn't explode until about page 3.

I love the imperfection of the characters. They're just exactly wrong. Indeed many of the characters are written such that you instantly dislike them but then they grow, and grow on you too.
The magic "technology" in the book is pretty fascinating. And the story is structured such that the exact way the magic works is revealed in sort of a logical, rather than a pedantic, way.
Judging a Book by its Cover
I am not proud of myself for thinking this, but I sure do like the feel of this book. How nice books feel is one of the things which has kept me away from an e-reader all this time. This paperback has a particularly soft and silky feel which I really really like.
The Way Into Chaos, of course, ends on a cliffhanger.* Somehow, stupidly, I did not back the project such that I would get the entire trilogy, just the first book. So yeah, I could read the other parts if/when I get a Kindle Voyage, but I won't be able to pet the covers on the way to the studio and back.

*Uh. Spoiler alert?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Woe is E

With my trashy reading habits, or, at least my seeming refusal to read anything "literary" in the way of modern books, I should probably get myself an e-reader. I'm sure it would save me hundreds of dollars per year in buying Kindle books rather than paperbacks.
Thing is, I've never been into e-readers. But there are things I want to read that are only in e-formats (and I do so hate reading long-form stuff on either a computer or a phone-sized device).
So I look around. The fact is that the basic Kindle is totally reasonably priced. The Paperwhite is still reasonably priced and looks better (by all reports, including by those who don't care that it looks better.) But I know I'm cranky and prissy with my reading and I know I'm going to be unhappy with anything less than the 300dpi equivalent of the Kindle Voyage.
Yup. It's two hundred bucks.
But that's not even the most irritating thing about it. The fact is that the Voyage is unavailable anywhere -- including Amazon. At least for three more weeks.

How am I supposed to hold out for three weeks?

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Dance on Camera

I think this is awfully good. This is "The official video for "Elastic Heart" directed by Sia and Daniel Askill, featuring Shia LaBeouf and Maddie Ziegler. Choreographed by Ryan Heffington." Dance for camera is very hard to do. And they did an amazing job telling an emotional story with it.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015



I don't understand why Letraset doesn't make Eurostile.
"You'll never get any information from Netflix. You sell it to them for a certain window and you get X number of dollars. I'll ask and say 'how's it doing?' And the two answers you get are 'it's underperforming' or 'it's doing pretty well.'
So yeah. That's pretty much how that goes.
TouchDAW is a program for fiddling with your audio editor on a tablet.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Oh That I Would...

This plot generator tried to make a noir story for me.
This is a leather choker. Or a bracelet. You decide.
The Microsoft Band is two hundred bucks. It might tell you things.
Googling myself I found a number of books which mentioned me in some way. There are these books that list theater productions. I've probably designed several hundred shows but obviously they don't all show up in these kinds of books. Still, Ernest Abuba and Don Arrup. You can't go wrong.
So, I have this rack o'gear. This is (pretty much) everything turned on:
Things not turned on include a tube amp or two. But keyboards and psychedelic lights ARE on...
How much does that draw? Barely 120 Watts.
"But Ma, I'm tryin' to get to 120!"
The purpose of this was to determine my need for a UPS. But do I really need a UPS? I used to keep them on my gear almost religiously. Are they important really? (Would they have saved my last two computers? If so it ain't this rack which needs a UPS, it's my studio.)

Saturday, December 27, 2014

For Me, Your Bear is Pretty

Among things going though my head are Bei Mir Bistu Shein. Interesting things about the history of this song. Composed by Jews, performed by African Americans, made into a hit by the then-unknown Andrews Sisters, popular in the Soviet Union AND Nazi Germany. This particular artist, doing the "original" Yiddish version, does some phrasing things which I feel are really quite special. Probably this is Katica Illényi. This all started because of watching A Christmas Story, looking up something about Jean Shepard, and finding the parody version of "The Bear Missed the Train" which, as a parody, still cracks me up.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Sound Design Tips and Tricks for Stage and Screen s1 ep05

Here I introduce the mixing board (very introductory) to the reluctant sound designer.

Ooh. The name of this series really should be "The Reluctant Sound Designer" shouldn't it?

Monday, December 15, 2014

That's all I got

Via John August Marco Arment's podcast guide, Dan Benjamin's podcast guide.
A wooden keyboard for your Chiclet-style keyboard.
As much as I made fun of font nerdery, the Typeset in the Future blog is pretty darn sweet.
Here's a free version of the Eurostile extended bold.
Weller's Words of Wisdom is a great blog on prop and art techniques.
Eric Ian Steele on the best screenwriting books.


So we have a screening of the movie and I just can't sit through it without the excruciating pain of seeing every single mistake.
That's right. It's all about me.
There's a whole act which needs a pass on the audio to smooth dialog transitions. Meaning that every time somebody speaks, the background hiss jumps up. Then it cuts off when they're done. It's entirely my fault and I don't know how it got through.
Then there are some render errors. Final Cut Pro does not always appreciate multiple layers of video being composted atop one another. We go to great lengths to avoid this by making lots of pre-renders but somehow there were a handful of shots which had that strange "overwhite" look where the bright patches in the frame actually go black because they're so bright.
And also a couple boom shadows which I had at one time dealt with by putting a "tunnelvision" effect on the robot's point-of-view. My guess is that we lost that effect when we put the movie in 3:1 aspect ratio but then when we pulled back out to 2.35:1 I didn't put the effect back on.
So I spent Sunday re-editing dialog and re-rendering picture to send out again.
My distributor's exact words when I told him I was sending him yet another version of the movie were "You're killing me."

I said "I know, I'm killing myself too."
Of course we didn't just have rendering errors. The dumb DVD took a dive in the middle of the movie. Luckily we got it started again off a computer (which is what we should have done in the first place.) I told people that if the DVD doesn't work we all have to go and act out the entire movie for the audience.
Apple killed DVD Studio Pro. Adobe has abandoned Encore. Honestly I don't know how professional houses make DVD's anymore. I am hoping that I never have to make one in-house ever again.
That said, dramatically the movie almost works (this is the director talking). There's always a problem in these small indy pictures where one misses a bit of the action, the impacts, that sort of thing. And I feel like we still missed some of those. But not all of them. Some of those moments we got right. Even though we had to shoot a lot of this picture where different angles of the same scene were not shot on the same day. Or month.
The movie is very well acted. It gets laughs where it's supposed to. And I think the story makes sense. The music is great. I dig the costumes. It looks different from our previous pictures. Steve Niles banged it out of the park on his end. And we have a couple good cg robots.
This movie is the least excruciating picture of ours for me to watch. Faint praise is all I've got for myself. But it's a step in the right direction.
I got the latest picture to UPS today. Hopefully it's the last version. It's been more than a year since we had shot the movie. That's a long time for us.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Type and Such

Rules for creating UI's. I'm totally down with being against this whole "flat" interface design too. Why do operating systems have to keep changing so much? No reason, it's just the fashion of the day.
Beautiful web type.
Proxima Nova is a sans serif typeface.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

sdttss s1 ep03

That's right, it's the third episode of Sound Design Tips and Tricks for Stage and Screen.

(Click through to embiggen.)

Shout-outs to Ien DeNio and Kia Rogers.