Sunday, July 12, 2015

Gender in Theater Design

These numbers for the gender parity of designers in theater seem pretty accurate to me, meaning that in my experience this is about the disparity. 
Sound is, and has been for quite some time, the freakin' worst.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


Automata is beautiful.
Automata is problematic.
It's beautiful though. Beautiful. The robots are mostly puppet-ed. The plinths in the wasteland. The dirigibles above. The design of so much of it is just lovely. The old-style fax machines with preforated paper as "email" -- just lovely.
That doesn't mean the movie doesn't have a lot of problems.
Dialog. Nose-hitting plot points. Embarassing teaching-a-robot-to-dance scene. Oof.
 But it sure looks great. And it has great provenience. Some Blade Runner, a touch of I Robot, a smidge of Dark City. I don't quite understand the stakes or why it takes everyone so long to figure out what everyone else is doing. But it's beautiful.

Friday, May 22, 2015


Ex Machina
The sounds she made were gorgeous. Very subtle organic-motor drive. Refrigerator logic: why didn't the older, dumb, model make those sounds?
I was envious of her robot costume. A fairly simple rig actually as they did a replacement of large sections of her body with rotoscoping and 3D models. But the base piece was that nice grey square rubbery material and then what was the costume equivalent of a disco ball. But with an added bit of 3D model underneath to create depth it worked rather well.
This is why we can't have nice things.
Why did they go for visual effect blood from the knife stabs? I have no idea.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

I'm the guy who didn't like Fury Road

I wanted to. I wanted to like it. But the screenplay is not that awesome.
Max has very little impact on the entire story. He makes no decisions. The titular character is figuratively and literally muzzled for half the entire movie.
The opening image is stunning. Spectacular. So full of potential.
Yup. The bar here is pretty high. That's because the bar is Mad Max II, The Road Warrior. Every single scene in that movie tells you about the characters. The first four minutes of The Road Warrior are wordless and a brilliant establishment of characters. We learn the entire world in one very simple car chase. We learn that fuel is precious, we learn that Max is smart (a better driver than others -- he never fires a shot and lets the bad guys shoot one another). We learn that Wez is a bad-ass dude who can take it as well as give it.
We learn nothing about Max in Fury Road. Maybe 3/4 of the way through the movie he makes a good strategic suggestion. Suggestion!
In fact, if you eliminated Max himself from this movie it would have been a vastly better movie. Actually, I suspect that there was a time in the evolution of the screenplay when Max wasn't in the movie. Because there is an active lead character -- one who makes decisions -- and it ain't Max.

 Furiosa, in fact, does some very Max-like things. After getting through the wall she puts her arms up, effectively "surrendering" to the biker dudes inside the wall. This sort of echoes the way Max approached the refinery with the injured man at the beginning of the second act of Road Warrior. And, of course, she makes the fateful decision to return (even if Max suggested it).
And, of course, the events of the entire movie revolve around the fact that she's rescued the wives and escapes into the wasteland. Max is shackled and strapped to stuff for the first hour of the movie so nothing he does actually makes any difference up through then. Like literally nothing. If he had just stood there outside the car in the opening of the picture when the bad guys came after him the results of the rest of the movie would have been the same.
Okay, the scene with the two dudes spitting gasoline into their blowers is great. Is it as awesome as the shot coming out of Max's blower at the top of Road Warrior? No. But it's pretty cool. The thing is, it tells us more about the character of the war-boy dude than it does Max or anyone else.
Also, I found myself memorizing 1, 1, 2, Black, Red (it may have been "Black, Red"). But that whole thing? Totally irrelevant. The switch on Max's V8's guzzoline tank from The Road Warrior? Vastly critical to the rest of the events in the movie.
So yeah. I compare Fury Road to a movie which has a perfect screenplay (note that the version of the Road Warrior screenplay on the Interwebs has a different, and less good, 3rd act than the final edited version.)
So. I'm that guy.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Food and You

There's an article on the awesome Cindy Keiter in NY Woman, with her favorite restaurants. Cindy gives culinary tours in Chelsea.
A recipe for flame-grilled mango margaritas.
There's a place called 25 Burgers in New Brunswick which my office-mate Kevin says has excellent chicken wings and fries.
Bertucci's is a chain but is supposed to have excellent rosemary chicken wings.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Pro Soccer

Last night I had an incredibly vivid dream about being on a semi-pro soccer team. My anxieties included the fact I didn't know the rules (I don't) as well as the fact that I knew I would just suck. But that wasn't my big problem in the dream. My big problem was that there was a mix-up with the uniforms and nobody really knew what our home or away kit was. We were going to play a British team and we knew we were going to be clobbered but we really did have to have the right jerseys.
So the dream was all about trying to figure out which shirt was which. At one point we thought the right jersey was actually a button-down shirt but then the issue was all about what sort of T-shirt could be worn underneath.

I wasn't even stressed by the fact that I'm not a soccer player. I just couldn't figure out the clothes.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Armor Image Dump

Today I am presumably prepping. There is so much sand in my house. I don't know what to do. Can one wash sneakers? I'm going to find out. All of my 15-minute chargers and all my 15-minute batteries are... dead. So I'm switching over to lithiums. So much for the environment. Actually, at less than $2 a piece for the vastly improved number of hours they run they might be better for the 'viron. I dunno.
My sister is designing a deck of cards I want these so much so much want now.
You'd have thought that for five thousand dollars we'd have got something that looked this good.
I gotta pick up a Helix today. I gotta figure out how to use it.
The new Kindle works fine.
We need a log book and stuff to put on the wall for a shrine. Dog tags, pictures, that sort of thing.
I want to create a new numeral system for a number system that goes to 12

(box with vertical line through it)
(box with horizontal line through it)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Other Stuff Learnt

Having got back from Colorado last night I'm jet-lagged to the point of incoherence.
We shot about 520GB of 4K Quicktime movies. That's about 220 (or so) individual shots.
Marijuana doesn't actually do that much for me. I'm not saying it does nothing to me, it just isn't exciting enough to eat more granola bars or smoke.
I think I brought back about three-quarters a ton of Colorado sand back from the dunes in my knapsack. Right now it's hanging upside-down over my tub in an attempt to dry it off after multiple rinsings.
Un-color-corrected screen grab android in the desert. did a very nice job of dealing with our rental. They sent us that Pelican with the BlackMagic 4K inside. And all the other (seemingly infinite) bits and pieces you need. We did the trick of putting a paintball gun inside and declaring a firearm in the baggage. The theory is that makes it harder for baggage handlers to steal your luggage. I don't know if it worked. We got everything we checked (and carried on) back at the end of the flight, so maybe it worked (Southwest Airlines lets each passenger check two huge bags for free.)
The altitude affected me. I became very achy. I know, I know, marijuana can help with that -- ha ha. But seriously, I needed more time to acclimate.
The script and the call sheets were all on my Kindle. This worked out vastly better than flapping sheets of paper all over the place. But the screen on my Kindle got a divet in it. I contacted Amazon about that (admitting that it probably got scratched against something in my pocket) and they're sending me a new replacement for free, which is some excellent customer service.
We're done shooting with the Blackmagic for this shoot though. The rest of the movie will be on the GH4. It should be interesting.
You know, it would only cost like $38,000 to fly cross-country on a private jet...

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

What's next?

So, what are you doing?
We're getting ready to shoot our next movie.
How's that going?
Well the schedule is up in flames.
What's up?
You know, art, set, that sort of thing.
Doesn't this happen on every. single. movie. you. make?
Why yes. Now that you mention it. It does.
What are you shooting first?
It looks like we'll be shooting on sand dunes in Colorado first.
Really? You're flying out to CO?
Yeah, we're staying in a house.
Wait, marijuana is legal in Colorado.
I was not aware of that fact.
My NSFW street cred was having some trouble lately.

What are you shooting on?
We'll be using the Blackmagic Production 4K. We'll be shooting on sticks as well as handheld with a brace borrowed from Libby Csulik. We're shooting at 400 ISO just like all the blogs tell us to, but we're using a .9 ND filter to drop the light down 3 stops.
What about tap?
Right now I have this ridiculous notion that we'll take the SDI output from the Alphatron eyepiece and feed a second Alphatron eyepiece because the sunlight will just be too bright for a regular monitor. That way two people will be able to watch through the camera without setting up some obnoxious tent to cut down the light suitably to look at a monitor.
So what about the shooting in the studio?
I don't know. One thing I feel is that we need to use the Letus Helix because we have to emulate having a huge dolly on set. Oddly, the Blackmagic does not work perfectly with the Letus because of the optical center -- it means there's a big motor right where the monitor on the Blackmagic camera is. You have to put another monitor on the Helix.
At the same time, there is a kind of merit to using the Helix with a Panasonic GH4 (at 400 ISO) because of the flip-out monitor. Now, the Panasonic, like the Blackmagic, gets noisy above 400 ISO. And the Panasonic has more rolling shutter. But the interiors do not need composites the way we'll be compositing out in the desert (my problem with rolling shutter is the way compositing works, or doesn't work, without global shutter). Also, the smaller sensor size of the GH4 gives us a bit more depth of field which helps our lives when we have a moving camera and are desperately trying to follow focus.
You seriously have no idea what you're doing, do you?
I do not. I am, however, desperately trying to find out.


Montserrat Mendez has directed a new play called Unmentionables.

Get tickets.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Like, Goo, Altitude

Watch David Ian Lee and Karen Sternberg's "Pinecone". Then click the "like" button. Heck, you don't even have to watch. Just click like. How to make white goo. I love this girl: The street outside my office is at about 28 feet.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Tabs Must Go!

Via Caitlin Cisek, a pretty thoughtful article on appropriation. The line between "appropriation" and, you know, just wearing a Canadian Mounty costume is kinda fuzzy.
Staying on the right side of the inspiration/appropriation divide requires individual awareness and attention to three S’s: significance (or sacredness), source and similarity.
The author is Susan Scafidi. She wrote a book called "Who Owns Culture? Appropriation and Authenticity in American Law" which seems kinda interesting.
HFSExplorer is a free program for reading HFS discs on a PC.

And for those of you playing along at home, Caitlin Cisek's Tumblr.