Sunday, August 31, 2008

Golden City Beyond

My parents believe they see a city off to the west of Princeton. Well, they know it's not a city, but they can't figure out what it is.

So I took this picture through my dad's binoculars and enlarged it.

I think it's just a line of dead trees.

Wicked Little Creature

Pushkin does not care that he's not supposed to be at the table. If he's interested in something then he's gonna take a look. That's all there is to it.

If you're making specific-sized images for web pages and the like, and don't want to break open Photoshop, Web Resizer looks like an interesting thing.

Am I really in pre-production right now?

I read an interview with Clint Eastwood once where the reporter said that a day from principal photography on Mystic River, Mr. Eastwood did not look like a director who was starting a film the next day.

That seems like a good way to live life. Just put actors in front of stuff with a good script and pull the trigger. Well, I'd like my movies to look (and sound) better than Mystic River but I think you know what I mean...

Artist Agreement

Here is the artists' agreement (actors' agreement) for 0802 The Uprising. The percentage which actors get is 2/10th of a percent for each day on the original schedule.

It's a bit arbitrary to base on the schedule rather than actual days worked, of course, but I believe it's fair. The percentage for crew (like the editor and so forth) is a set rate. The total payouts (starting with the first dollar above $50,000) will equal about 30% of the revenue.

We've yet to actually pay out with one of our revenue sharing agreements. I'm really hoping this time we will. Chance did with his movie Hide and Creep. I'm really envious!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Notes on Us

There are twelve active-duty Marines assigned to the 99th. Marines are kept in deep space for almost the entirety of their tour, hopping from mission to deep-space-mission. These Marines each signed up for an 8-year stint. In all likelihood about six of those years are spent in chem-sleep on their ship, the Ikarus.

Chem-sleep is the most dangerous means of keeping humans alive in hyperspace.

The Mobile Infantry have expensive cryo-sleep pods, Special Forces (being androids) just shut themselves down for the trip. But Marines can't afford such luxuries. In fact, they can't even afford their ship, which is a reconfigured MI drop-ship.

Word is that the 99th... er... aquired the ship, along with its bizarrely amicable AI, from a Mobile Infantry Secure Orbiting Platform. The MI, who are better equipped, better armed, better staffed, and better funded than the Marines, provide most of the "logistical support" to the Marines in that the Marines typically provision themselves, discretely, from MI stores.

Neu To Due

I've promised myself that I won't get all anxious or overly worked-up before we begin principal on the next movie. Of course, that would be easier to do if we'd got cast a little bit more than a week out (I think on the last movie it was even less than a week because of last - minute dropouts.) And it would be easier if we'd had all our costumes more ahead of time (we're waiting for a shipment which will come in the day before we start shooting -- meaning Tuesday). I haven't even met the lead (which makes this more like a Studio picture from the 30's ;-).

But we'll just shoot the picture. We've done that before. And we don't need to worry about the really difficult sets because they're already built.

Tomorrow I'm going to go over the script in detail, print out some stickers and iron-on patches, and print out some contracts.

Is This Even Necessary?

Longtime readers know I have nothing against our robot overlords in principal. But it's just a matter of taste.

What I'm saying here people is we can do much much better than what we're getting.

Stick with the 6th Ceylon and everything will be just all right. The others?


Friday, August 29, 2008

Prison Planet 101

This is not a great looking picture of me. The Warden says that's part of my punishment.

This is the prisoner uniform which was standard on Rove 12 before The Uprising. We just got 9 of them today.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

More PR

Julia from Venus Rises is vastly better at PR than we are. Here's an article from The Asbury Park Press which even mentions Solar Vengeance at the end.

Gotta Love Apple

So the G4 notebook Jang donated to Theatresource is cool. It can run QLab and it has a slot a P2 card can fit in. Unfortunately the USB ports will simply not power a portable, USB-powered, hard drive. So feh, I have to continue to use my Toshiba laptop in the field.

Thanks Apple!

In the meantime we got our helmets and flashlights for The Uprising. I need to get gaff tape and lamps before the shoot. We're almost all cast. From experience we'll have people drop out at the last minute because they'll suddenly realize their schedules don't work. What I mean is we'll have more people drop out at the last minute than have done so already today. Ahem.

Saw Tropic Thunder. Now I'm not going to be able to avoid writing "I don't read the script, the script reads me" on the call sheet.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Today's Big Tasks

The obnoxious thing about shoes and boots is that they can be so dang expensive yet in a movie you just never freakin' see 'em!

Today we're figuring out which helmet or flak jacket goes to whom. We have 11 Marines we need to outfit. Somebody, of course, needs just a bandanna because they're a badass. We have 9 helmets with the ones Brian lent us. Maybe we'll buy 1 more.

Brian lent us 7 weapons and 4 helmets. That's going to help tremendously.

I've been tracking men's beards. And I've been moving around what characters are exactly where. The script wasn't writ with the exact sets we have in mind. So now we have a big ensemble where not everyone is in one giant room -- things are divided up on the spaceship. So I have to make sure the right actors are called on the right day for the right parts of the right scenes.

I like Under Armour. We're thinking that for some of the leads they'll basically Under Armour as their uniform top. Yep. Everyone wears underwear for the whole picture.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


My sister took this picture of Pushkin with her new iPhone. You will note that the cat is sitting on the kitchen counter with no consequences whatsoever. He's not supposed to be up on the counter. And he knows he's not supposed to be there. But nobody's saying anything to him. And he doesn't care.

There might be food nearby. That's how I interpret his look.*

*Update: Jean says he just wants to eat the flowers.

Sexual Harassment in Space

Over at io9 Venus Rises (on whose sets we shall be shooting) is.*

In the meantime, we're still a-casting for The Uprising (which I suspect will not be the name of the movie once distributors get a hold of it.)

I want to get a notice into Hollywood Reporter this week. Plus we need pants, underwear, shirts, and boots galore.

Whew, ensemble casts are hard because of the logistics. Remember: "In a World where (blah blah blah), one Man (woman/alien/android whatever)". Just one. One of 'em.

Plus, I need a sound "crew".

*Where is my editor?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Fighting 99th

I modified an actual Marine Corps graphic (which is in the public domain because it's a government image) to become the symbol of our Marines in The Uprising.

We're getting close to actually having a cast. That means we can get a listing in the Hollywood Reporter, which means we can get a listing on IMDB.

In the meantime here's the schedule and breakdown.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Less Blown Out

So one complaint which was pretty consistent was that this one particular scene was super-duper blown out in Solar Vengeance. On a computer screen (and as a .jpg rather than a very compressed DVD) the frame doesn't look so bad. But on the two occasions when we've screened the movie, the blown out picture was really blown out. It was doing a thing Laura described as the "Voltemort effect" because when a character was in profile the light would eliminate their nose.

So bleh. I fixed it.

Here is Jeff Plunkett with the blown out light behind him (using a lot of diffusion in Magic Bullet Looks Suite).

And here he is again, with less diffusion (a lot less diffusion).

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

End Title Disclaimer

You know, I usually just make up something silly to put at the end of the end title crawl. Something like "No Androids were harmed in the making of this Motion Picture". But I thought I'd go and copy what Sony puts at the end of their movies. Or, at least, the end of Starship Troopers 3.

"The characters and incidents portrayed and the names herein are fictitious, and any similarity to the name, character or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.

"This motion picture photoplay is protected pursuant to the provisions of the laws of the United States of America and other countries. Any unauthorized duplication and/or distribution of this photoplay may result in civil liability and criminal prosecution."

I do question how they used commas in the first paragraph.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Buying Underwear

I think we're going to end up buying a bit of underwear for this picture, The Uprising. We have a lot of soldiers who need to wake up from hypersleep. I guess I'm goin' to KMart for some white (preferably grey) boxers. Better sew up the flys...

We aren't actually cast. Heck, we won't be done casting 'till a couple days before we shoot. And then again a week or so after that. Ha! Welcome to the world of no-budget.

As far as uniforms go, I think we're going to have some helmets and then some... sleeveless T-shirts? I dunno. I'd love all mock-turtle "compression" shirts, both sleeveless and sleeveful. We might need some insignia. I have no idea how we'd make them and attach them though. I'm going to ask around.

Dov talks in more detail about windows. His article is a bit out of date, it refers to Hollywood Video as though it still exists. And his low-end numbers are a bit high for free cable. But his bottom-of-the-barrel numbers for direct-to-DVD seem about right.

Thank You Internets

The more you look at this picture, the weirder it gets. Have some LULZ. Actually, there's a Flickr page...

Today I must order up a rental van, get lamps for lights (which I probably won't get to), pick up a 32 GB P2 card from Abel Cine, and pay a $65 parking ticket (we got away cheap, actually), as well as take Maduka out to dinner for his Welcome Citizen dinner.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Comin' Round the Bend

There are still two delivery elements on Solar Vengeance for overseas -- the timecode script which has all the dialog and who says it and at what timecode, and the DVD of still images. Stills go out to our rep tomorrow. Script is almost done...

Where (some of us) are at.

This is Helen Mirren at age 63. Yeah, I know.

We've been ordering flashlights and helmets, and making sure that we're getting weapons. We're going to need some medical supplies and hospital gowns. Maybe some blood, if we're getting low, a 32 GB P2 card, and a passenger van.

Oh, and rechargable AAA batteries. We're going to need quite a few of those.

Presumably we'll be cast soon. I'm not even really paying attention to that. Heh. Lanie will tell me (or not) who's in the movie with almost a week to spare before we start shooting.

The schedule is writ in stone though. And we start on the 3rd of September in fabulous Forked River, NJ.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Boris Kievsky

Boris, who was a longtime regular at Manhattan Theatresource and even translated and starred in a well - reviewed Checkov's Three Sisters for a production back in January of 2004, lives in LA now. He has been getting all kinds of interesting gigs since he moved there. This is a still of him from the Disney Channel's "Wizards of Waverly Place" in the episode called "Art Museum Piece".

Every once in a while we still have to call Boris to get help networking a printer...

4 Word Review

My four word review of the new Star Wars animated movie:

"Walk cycle. What up?"

Of course, only animators who have seen the movie will think that's funny.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


We had a screening of 0701 Solar Vengeance today. It was a lot of fun.

The only things I would change* would be to have Maleyna wake up in the shot** after she's been hit by the robot (and licked by the robot), and to reduce some of the guitar in the soundtrack.***

*Not including yet another pass on the dialog to clean it up.
**Which is, of course, impossible, because we didn't shoot that.
***Which is, I guess, something I should do. When do we get North American distribution? ;-)


Dov Simans explains"windows" in distribution.

16 Minutes of Love

Strictly for those really fascinated by foreground miniature photography:

Asteroid is a 16 minute short, shot on super 8mm, for $800, in 1981.
It's not a good movie, by any means, but it has some excellent compositing. Well, more exactly, they use foreground miniatures in a couple shots and it looks really good. They shot at F22 on a super-8 just to get the right depth-of-field.
The Flickr page with the articles from Cinemagic.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Comic Masterwork

From Backstage:

You're unfamiliar with Montserrat Mendez, you say? Oh my dear, then you must go off to your garrulous Google or your yappy Yahoo and absorb all you can about him! He is — and I say this with envy — a perfectly marvelous playwright, and his Thoroughly Stupid Things, a sequel to Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, is a comic masterwork.
I tol' you!

Little Lanilei Amp

So I got my 1/4-watt tube amp, the Songworks Little Lanilei all-tube amp. It's only a quarter of a watt, although that's not as little power as one might intuit, given the inverse square ratio of wattage to "volume" level. I can probably hit peaks of 90dB SPL (A) on the thing at one meter. I could check, I have an SPL meter right here... but nah. It just sounds good.

The sound of the amplifier is quite impressive. My Les Paul immediately perked up when plugged into it. It's like the amp is voiced for the Les Paul. The Les Paul "opens up" and the range of its timbre expands considerably when plugged in. It makes me want to play a whole lot.

My "Blattocaster" is a bit different. It took a bit of tweaking the (surprisingly many) controls on the Little Lanilei to make that custom-made guitar sing just right. The secret is to not have the output volume quite all the way up on the amp when using that guitar (which is something I've noticed on amp emulators, so that's actually a "plus" for amp emulators). But the Blattocaster always takes a bit of work, and it's always rewarding. Once you set up the Little Lanilie then the amp really performs -- it doles out that incredibly wide tonal range this custom guitar gives, with a timbre which is interactive and responsive.

There's only a 6" speaker in the thing and although it sounds pretty good and has good low end for a 6", I'm thinking I need a bit more. So maybe I'll plug it into my Fender Twin Reverb. And if I'm going to do that, why don't I replace one of the junky non-Fender replacement speakers in my Twin with a 12" Alnico speaker? (Well, one reason is that I'd be spending about as much on the speaker as I just did on the amplifier, still it might be worthwhile.)

It took 6 months to take delivery on this custom handmade amp, but it's worth it. (Just as it's worth it to have custom handmade guitars). You can't use the amp alone on stage if you're playing with a drummer, but it's perfect for me for recording and playing live where we put our backline in some acoustically isolated place.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

It's a fact

Zombies hate cats. They're really frightened of them. So make sure you stock up on cats before the coming Zombie Apocalypse.

I think I may have saved a couple characters from the cutting room floor in The Uprising. I'm sorting out the logistics -- we're basically going to shoot the whole thing in Forked River and Metuchen, NJ. 12 days.

What I need is a 15-pass van...

Monday, August 11, 2008

How Can You Not Be In Love...

... with this kitten?

From Cukisag, the Hungarian (and weirder) Cute Overload. Be advised, on occasion there are pictures of bugs and slugs and things. And the Hungarian language? Not a cognate to be found.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Internets Win

Why even watch the Olympics this year when you could watch... whatever this is.

Note that after the match proper this video actually gets... weirder.

Here's a couple stills of Yin Ling:

Anime Eyes

So there are these extra wide contact lenses for making you look like an anime character. It would amuse me to make the hologramatic AI in The Uprising more cos-play-y like that.

Not that the rest of the picture is anything like that aesthetically. Which is sorta the point.

Hopefully the movie will be cast soon as it looks like we actually have a schedule to shoot it. We begin principal photography on Wednesday the 3rd of September. As we can't shoot on weekdays at my dad's metal shop, we'll be shooting for 4 weekends in a row starting on the 13th and ending on October 5th.

We'll be doing quite a bit of documentary-style handheld work on this picture. I suck at handheld so I'm gonna have to get much better very quickly. We'll likely be shooting on a 50mm and a 35mm for most of that.

I gotta find someone to pull focus.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

A Dangerous Thinge

Jonesy Port. It's a chilled Port wine from the land of Australia. It has a number of problems, like being really good and really cheap.

Vinnie, of course, is responsible.

Theramin Cat

It's the very last few frames which make this video so perfect.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

In Backstage

Lanie Zipoy is quoted many times in this article from Backstage this week. She has great advice for actors and you can see in the print edition our own Clare Stevenson (star of Millennium Crisis), and Steve Deighan from the Daryl Boling directed (and Vinnie Marano translated) Mandrake.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

I'm not the most articulate

... but Mac Rogers sure is. I just can't talk. So when you listen to the commentary track on Solar Vengeance just wait for Mac to come on, he's much better than me.

Pushkin is just as soft as he looks here.

Monday, August 04, 2008

All the Rage

The play I sound-designed (and did a little composing on) for my man Daryl Boling, got a rockin' review in The New York Times.

We got all kinds of people we've worked with over the years on this one. Daryl, of course, directed. We got Ben Sulzbach stage managing, it stars Ben Jaeger Thomas, Jeff Plunkett, and Steve Deighan (all from Pandora Machine movies), and Greg Stuhr from Mitchell's movie Tahoe (Greg also went to school a year or so ahead of Maduka). Carrie Brewer fight directed.

There are still tickets available for the next few weeks. See the show.

Timings (One)

The total running time for the overseas version of Solar Vengeance is 1 hour 42 minutes 28 seconds and 9 frames.

The reason the overseas version is different from the English-language North American version is mostly because we tack onto the end of the overseas version any picture which plays under any superimposed titles in the movie. That way if the distributor wants to substitute English language superimposed text with, say, Thai language superimposed text, they have the underlying footage to work with.

All of this makes me want to never do front-title credits and to do end-title credits as white text on a black background. Which is what we do. But because we credit people at the end of the movie, with a still of them from the movie, we need to include those still images as part of our deliverables.

Next step is to compile all our still images and our "dialog list" which is the dialog as it occurs in the movie along with timecode so that distributors can replace and dub as they like.

Got to go

OK, so the movie really has to go out tonight. I'm doing the final render right... now.

Here's a reworked spaceship...

Friday, August 01, 2008


I've been searching long and hard for a floorplan to the Shermerhorn House, where I've been "pre-approved" for $635/month rent, and found this rendition. The information on that page seems a bit dated (for instance, it thinks the place will be completed by Summer when I've been told the opening will be in October). But at least it's something. I was really hoping for an "L" shaped studio but hey, what can you do?
A slightly larger artist's rendering from the architect's site makes me think "will I have to buy those shoes?"*

*It also makes me think "Aren't we looking through the apartment, through the open door into the hallway, and through the apartment across the hall?"

I think we are.

Putting it to Bed

Today, apparently, our sales rep got paid for both Millennium Crisis and Solar Vengeance from the distributor in Russia. This is good news, seeing as how I'm broke.

It also means we're puttin' this puppy to bed. I'm done with mixing and with tweaking. I'm rolling off the "flattened" version of the movie -- the pan-and-scan (non-letterboxed) version of the picture which they seem to insist so much on overseas. They also only want a stereo mix, none of this 5.1 mixing which I spend so much time on.

We're sending the movie to the lab next week -- where they're going to make DigiBeta copies. And we'll try to figure out what we're doing for North American distribution (where we have a little more ability to insist on widescreen letterboxed version with 5.1 mix.

Here is a better version of "I Love Sarah Jane". Spencer Susser is the director, apparently he is a commercial director and editor.

What I love most about this short is how the kids interact. Man, I knew all those kids growing up. Plus, we had a zombie in the backyard too. I don't remember what my dad did with it though...