Tuesday, March 31, 2009
At the risk of pissing off our sales rep even more than I already have (which honestly I don't think is possible at this point) we're announcing the April 3rd release of Solar Vengeance in Japan. The movie is called "Terminator Planet" and of course the cover art by the Japanese distributor is spectacular.
Here is the press release (translated by Google into bad English).
We've been sitting on an older version of this artwork for a while now, just waiting for the distributor's site to go live with it. From what I can tell they've added lens flare and some sparks.
OK, my mad art skillz are again on display. My many, many years as a production designer are all about my ability to put on paper the thoughts I have in my head. Here is the concept for the hoverbikes.
Basically, they're a piece of 10" tubing which you ride. The tube itself is hollow with only a couple stirrups (if necessary) to put your feet in, and a couple handles to operate with.
Another option is that instead of motorbike handles, it just has a joystick for the operator. I kinda like that idea. It sounds cheap.
The hoverbike sequence is the center set-piece of the whole dang movie. It better work.
Monday, March 30, 2009
You could mount a manual focus Nikon lens to a Canon 5D Mark II. In any case, you need Nikon lenses.
I never know if
1. I've posted an image before or
2. If I'm posting
Sunday, March 29, 2009
In the meantime, scalloped guitar (which just makes me hungry):
Rather than create the content of my own blog, I'll use the comments from other people's blogs. We have done many experiments with explosive-less squibs. I like the idea of the actor actually controlling the squib's timing. Here's Bill Martell's comment on his own post regarding his movie experiment.
Because I saw THE WILD BUNCH at a tender age... buy some aquarium plastic tubing. Buy one of those lens cleaner bellows things at the camera store. Buy a piece of aluminum tubing, bend it at a 45' angle (you'll need one of those coil things to bend tubing - I built model cars and had stuff like that). Bellows to plastic tubing to aluminum tubing to and old belt with alum tube poking out belt hole. Fill with fake blood - you want thin blood, more water than syrup. Belt goes under costume - slice little hole for alum tube to peek out. Plastic tube goes down leg. Bellows is under acror's shoe.I don't really know what kind of aluminum tubing he's talking about here. But I dig the idea overall. I think we've tended to use blood that was too thick. That's been a problem. So we'll thin the blood now...
Now place actor out in the open - away from everything.
Take another actor with plastic gun that flashes - put them across from blood rigged actor - high noon style.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
The D90 is very hard to focus which shooting video. The little monitor on the back is very difficult to see focus on (and you can't look through the lens).
Modern scored printed with scoring programs look... well... crappity. They're practical but the music just doesn't seem all that musical.
That's all I have to say about today. So far.
Maduka is shooting something for The Onion today. Congolese French-speaking dude. Posting that will be fun.
I have to record Russian Chamber Chorus of New York tonight. And Blair wants me to go to DUMBO to help him shoot his reality TV/Documentary show today. I'm feeling plenty guilty about not going so I'll show up late.
We're arguing with our distributor today. He wants very expensive changes. He's not paying us enough money to cover those changes. I'll tell you how that goes.
I want to call this video "4 Ukranians, 1 Microphone". They are amazing.*
*Yes, it's actually 2 microphones (one on the bass) and the freakin' CHAIR is the best part about it!
Friday, March 27, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
The problem with the D90 is that it thinks it knows better than you what the ISO and the shutter should be when you're shooting video. It doesn't. But there's no way for you to manually set the shutter and ISO when shooting video. The only way to do that, apparently, is to swing the camera around until it sets the shutter and ISO to where you want it and then to hit the lock button. Sheesh. Otherwise the shutter (and/or ISO) will change during the scene.
Well, really annoying/depressing news on the Alien Uprising front: the U.S. distributor's lab Q.C. rejected the picture. Some of the items on the punch list I don't understand ("chroma lag on vertical bars") some of them are just stupid ("Reference Tones are set at +8dB" -- that's just stupid, it's digital -- the signal can't be more than 0dB. But video engineers are inherently stupid when it comes to audio so they just don't know that. Obviously they're looking at an analog meter). But yeah, now that I look at it on a scope there are some points where we slip below 7.5 IRE (I have trouble seeing how we go above 110 IRE anywhere, but I can't meter that anyway so maybe it did.)
How, all this time, have I missed Charlie the Unicorn?
Monday, March 23, 2009
Test -- cartoon Night Vision from Andrew Bellware on Vimeo.
And this is the "Comic Book" look:
The following are notes just for me. Pay no attention.
telekinesis only affects metal
who would do that? I don't know. Only Peck has access and I trust him implicitly
Make guy in alley armored
but there's a bomb on my ship -- no, it's a proximity actuation device
the satellites won't blow as long as either of us are alive on the planet
Gulliver 9 holds Rachel by using telekinetics on her hand -- making Cain agree to let them have the ship.
Cain reveals he knew all along that there was no bomb on his ship -- it was the trigger for the sat defense system
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Here are my initial design sketches for the Venturer-9 ship. I want a practical set which we would actually "land" by putting on a forklift and dropping down into frame or tilting down along with it.
I know we want lots of lights pointing directly at the camera as the thing moves. Why? Because lens flare solves all problems.
At the bottom I made a picture with a clip-art forklift. I used Open Office's drawing program. The note I got back from the set designer was "I don't know if this will work from an engineering perspective." That made me laugh because of course it would fall apart from an engineering perspective. But it was the concept of the idea which will eventually work which is what I meant to convey. ;-)
Joe Gage is like the gay version of me. That is, if I put fewer cats and more nudity on my website.
I'm reviewing the Blake Snyder five-point finale:
Step 1: The hero, and the hero team, come up with a plan to “storm the castle” and “free the princess” who is “trapped in the tower.”
Step 2: The plan begins. The wall of the castle is broached. The heroes enter the Bad Guys’ fort. All is going according to plan.
Step 3: Finally reaching the tower where the princess is being kept, the hero finds… she’s not there! And not only that, it’s a trap! It looks like the Bad Guy has won.
Step 4: The hero now has to come up with a new plan. And it’s all part and parcel of the overall transformation of the hero and his need to “dig deep down” to find that last ounce of strength (i.e., faith in an unseen power) to win the day.
Step 5: Thinking on the fly, and discovering his best self, the hero executes the new plan, and wins! Princess freed, friends avenged, Bad Guy sent back to wherever Bad Guys go when they are defeated (Two Bunch Palms?) — our hero has triumphed.
Oh heck. Watch the MST3K version:
Remember Cinemagic Magazine? Here's a torrent for it but you need a demonoid account.
Here are the instructions (from the sheet of paper they give you at Kim's Video) for making the Philips DVP-3960 DVD player region free:
1. Power up the set.
2. Open tray door.
3. Press SETUP
4. Scroll to "PREFERENCE PAGE" using the Right arrow key
5. Press the numbers 138931 into the keypad and a region code number will popup.
6. Arrow up/down to the number 0
7. Press OK
AND THE REGION WILL CHANGE TO ALL-REGION (REGION 0)
Yes, I did steal this image from Bill's blog. Why do you ask?
Pepsi Cola - Click here for the funniest movie of the week
We spend a lot of time thinking about effects and shots. We spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to do things cheaply. This Pepsi commercial is an example of an infinite amount of money being spent on a man, a soda, a sandwich, a dog, a cat.
At no time did anyone say "Nah, we won't do that, it'll be too expensive." That cat simply cannot be a live, un-composited, and practical cat for the duration of the shot. But somebody, somewhere, really did a detailed study of how cats actually move.
The dog actually does a double-take. Can that be done practically? If this is CG, man the fur looks great.
Oh, and the cat makes me laugh.
We have to start making some hard (as in "absolute", not "difficult") decisions with 0904 Clonehunter. Unfortunately, I've been waiting on Maduka to give me his notes and... he read the wrong version of the script. The QOM has been busy stage managing shows (in addition, apparently she has some sort of day job) so there's no way she's going to give me any notes. I guess I'll just have to make decisions like I'm the... the... director or something.
Here's another interesting blog from the "Film Industry Bloggers". It's the "British Film Director" blog. I think the British thing is by and large irrelevant, he lives and works in the U.S., I suppose they just wanted to differentiate him from other directors on the site. He has an interesting $500K budget. That budget is off by two decimal places for us. Yeah, and I don't mean we're working at $50 million...
Lastly, it seems that we're going to have to shoot (at the very least) some exterior night plates in Gowanus Brooklyn. The HVX with the Letus Extreme adapter is too slow (ISO of about 200 maybe?) So I'm going to have to use a Nikon D90. I bought a Nikon 35mm f1.4 lens for it via eBay. And now I need an 85mm lens. Do I:
- Keep searching on eBay for a used Nikon
- Just go and buy a Vivitar f1.4 85mm for $350
- Bite the bullet and get a Zeiss f1.4 85mm for $1033
I suppose I'm just going to go into Adorama and say "Convince me to spend an extra $650 on a lens." I'm afraid that they will.
Friday, March 20, 2009
We used my new apartment for reshoots/inserts on The Shriven. The apartment works well for that. It's easy to get to, there's lots of space, there's 80 amps of power.
I thought I had to send a picture of myself to Inktip.com to announce Clonehunter. But it turns out that I only had to send in our logo. Oddly, the first time I did a "save as" in Photoshop it came out this very very blue. I did a "save for web" and it's the correct colors. No idea why.
This is Christine and Christina getting makeup ready to shoot.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
OK, so today was the big move. Basically, last year my parents moved about 20 miles south of my hometown of Metuchen on Route 1 and today I moved about 20 miles north of Metuchen on Route 1.
Driving U. S. Route 1 is driving a what they thought a "highway" was in 1926.
But with more stoplights.
It's 40.7 miles on Route 1 from their house to mine.
Takes an hour-and-a-half to drive.
Monday, March 16, 2009
You know, in my little world of being and independent movie studio (and it's, er, a very little world), I find that ironically I have a lot of sympathy for the big studios. There is a lot of whining and complaining (frequently from writers) on the Interwebs and on various blags about how the big studios are run and how movies get made. But none of that whining is from people who actually have to manage the business of selling movies (or, in the case of television, selling audiences to advertisers).
There are a lot of factors which are tremendously counter intuitive even to the average professional in the industry; because the average professional isn't actually concerned with making sure the programs/movies get sold. There are so few of those people -- through whom all the money flows, and so many of all the rest of us.
I am obviously not one of the people who has to sit and listen to the buyer from Japan gripe about his distribution problems and how hard it is to sell such-and-such material to his own market. Nope. But I do get the emails forwarded to me from those people. Oof.
And it's rough out there.
Frequently decisions made by studios which the bystander might think "stupid" are actually quite wise and reasoned within the vastly complicated picture of their own situation. I know the boys at SyFy have had some real problems with the way that Neilsen decided to "count" TIVO watching for instance. Big problems. Their ratings plummeted because their audience was perfectly fine with TIVO'ing a program and watching it weeks later. This caused big problems which affected NBC/Universal's bottom line which is presented at their shareowner's meetings at the end of the year. (I wonder -- is that why they now quote numbers from SNL Kagan? I'd never heard of that company before.) But we in the rest of the business tend to not be responsible to those who have to report to those who have to stand up there in front of analysts and explain why the stock price is plummeting even though lots of people may/may not be watching the shows on our networks.
I love these SSL compressors. I know they're expensive. I'd take an Alan Smart instead then. OK?
Here's a quote from my favorite (so far) review of Watchmen. It's from Bill Martell.
The big problem is one of adaptation. The reason why Dr. Manhattan’s big blue dick swings through the frame is because that’s what happened in the comic book - if they had made him wear underpants the fans would have screamed that the studio wasn’t being faithful to the source material. If they had streamlined the plot and gotten rid of all of the soap opera crap and made Rorschach the only lead, they wouldn’t be faithful to the source material. If they had made any changes that made it a *better film* the fans would scream that they weren’t being faithful to the source material. Hey - that thing we see in the cinema is not a graphic novel, it’s a *movie* and must work as a movie! If that means you have to change things to make it work as a movie, that’s what has to be done.
Well it looks like the Sci-Fi Channel is rebranding itself to become...
As of the timestamp on this blog post, there was no content at the above site.
According to the NYTimes article linked above:
"According to SNL Kagan, a media research company, Sci Fi had 95.2 million subscriber households last year, compared with 93 million in 2007 and 88.2 million in 2006. SNL Kagan estimated ad revenue for Sci Fi at $423.9 million last year, compared with $392.7 million in 2007 and $394.6 million in 2006."That's good news, actually. Just a few years ago they were pretty frantic because their Neilsen numbers had been plummeting.
Interestingly, this is mentioned in that Times article:
"No discussion of change affecting consumers could ignore what Mr. Howe called the “Tropicana debacle” — the recent decision by a unit of PepsiCo to abandon a major package redesign for Tropicana orange juice after shoppers vociferously complained."
I thought those new Tropicana containers made them look like they were the "generic" brand. Honestly, when I saw them in a bodega I thought they were some bootleg orange juice.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
I just love reading The Genre Director by Brian Trenchard-Smith. In the linked post he talks about a variety of things including making notes on a low-budget script and actresses rewriting their lines.
From our new screenplay, Clonehunter, here's my favorite descriptive line:
"Raglan smiles behind his goggles. A praying mantis in leather and rubber."
My intent is not to shoot, post, and finish one movie at a time. No, rather I plan to be in constant production. We'll be working post-production on a picture while shooting the next one. And pre-production for the one after that. I think that's what we have to do.
I don't think we can be shooting multiple pictures simultaneously. That would be a logistics nightmare.
A fascinating documentary on a musician -- Art Officially Favored. Just listen to the music which plays in your browser.
There's a whole bunch of stuff on race and science fiction. There's more here: O HAI RACEFAILZ. Oh no, we're not even remotely done -- here's specific advice on writing characters from different ethnic backgrounds than the writer.
In addition, apparently there's been much noise on the Interwebs with people getting all yelly at one another about race and science fiction. I can't really make heads or tail of it. I mean other than: "Really? On the Internet? Crazy people?" Hmm...
Tomorrow is the Ides of March. I'm just sayin'. Be careful out there.
Speaking of the Internet. It's just weird.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Now it's true, you could watch the "rape/torture fantasy" remake of The Last House on the Left. Or you could watch Sunshine Cleaning. The advantage to Last House? It's executive produced by our sales rep Ray Haboush. Plus, I'm not afraid that the ending won't actually be an ending. I do have the fear that with "Sunshine" the last act will just sort of... meh. Similar to how the last Sunshine (as in "Little Miss") didn't actually have an ending.
A problem Save the Cat would have solved.
In any case, our personal finances overshadows any kind of "art". Feh! See the Last House! ;-)
But the HD looks vastly better than an SD DVD. The compression scheme is of course much better than DVD's but the data rate must be a fraction, no?
So I've been watching a couple things:
The Blade series is... well... brilliant. It is very well written, with excellent dialog, a great storyline, looks great, and the bad guys are complex. How do you not love it?
Angel of Death looks great. I mean really great. There are some shots in it which are pretty stunning. There are some decent plot twists. But I do wish that more than one of the actors would work on their diction. (Not Ted Raimi though -- he has no lines! ;-)
One thing which doesn't work for me about Angel of Death is that they play the "what happened last week" (which they call the "Prologue") for 2 minutes at the head of each 7-minute episode.
Also, the dialog edit is OK but the mix is a little... well "low budget". On exteriors when everyone's clearly on wireless lavs they didn't really EQ the tracks so that the mics don't sound like they're under clothes.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Anybody every used Avant Electronics? Should I be using their stereo mic for the choir? Can't somebody make a mic which sounds like a Neumann U47 for about $600?
I'm editing a script. I'm about halfway through. Whenever any writers here that they think: "Oh, we're gonna do that script next. I can relax."
NO YOU CAN'T RELAX!!!! AHHHHH!
I'm stoned on Ambien. That stuff is AWESOME.
Bill Cunningham sent this to me. Somebody tell me how the glowing glasses happened. I want eyes that do that.
From Josh James
Elmo vs Ricky Gervais (I couldn't figure out how to embed.)