Thursday, April 30, 2009

Electrogram Yourself

If you make genre movies you should sign up for Bill Cunningham's Electrogram. Sign up at the side-bar on his site.

Bill's writing a movie for us. It better be ready soon as we'll be ready to shoot in June/July. Oof. That means I need to get an air conditioner.

I'm totally rocking to Carly's costume design. Here's Angela in her "D" costume with her BFG for Clonehunter.

Flythrough Test

Here is an untextured test flythrough of the city of Tara 6. This was made so the actors would have some idea what they're seeing when on the spaceship set with a bluescreen out the window. On my PC monitor the image is a bit dark. The gamma is right on a Mac though. We'll have to keep that in mind when lighting.

0904 flythrough test from Andrew Bellware on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cat Videos

You -- yes you -- don't watch enough cat videos. And kung-fu porn (which unfortunately I cannot embed.) Do I need to mention that it's not safe for work? ;-)

The cat videos are watchable anywhere though. Watch them, study them. There will be a quiz.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Know your limitations

This version of Klimpt's The Kiss is from.

A review of the Letus Nikon mount. I got this mount. It seems to work pretty well. Although I can focus past infinity with these, I believe that does not indicate any backfocus issues and I should be fine. The flare seems to be a bit more than from the Canons though.

So I think I'm going to go with only two lenses on this whole movie: a 35mm f1.4 and an 85mm f1.4 (and an E2 extension for macro closeups.) Sometimes it's nice to limit your options and I love the idea of shooting a feature with 2 (or, arguably, 2.5) lenses. That's a nice limitation. It'll certainly make decisions about what lens to use easier! ;-)

We've been fitting people in costumes. Last looks are tomorrow and Friday night. Then we shoot on Saturday.

Looks like resetting the pram on the Mac did the trick and FCP is stable again. What a pain in the neck that was. The PC has been immunized against whatever virus was bothering it. I think I have like 4 anti-spyware/malware/virus programs running on it right now.

Golden Rhapsody

Rule of 3rds vs. golden mean. Yet interestingly:
"A statistical study on 565 works of art of different great painters, performed in 1999, found that these artists had not used the golden ratio in the size of their canvases. The study concluded that the average ratio of the two sides of the paintings studied is 1.34, with averages for individual artists ranging from 1.04 (Goya) to 1.46 (Bellini)."

Emphasis moi.

Singular Software's Plural Eyes automatic syncing software for multi-camera things in FCP. It might be a good idea.

Bohemian Rhapsody on an HP Scan Jet.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Max Decisions

OK, so I've decided that we're going to shoot with the Panasonic HVX and the Letus Extreme adapter (this will be movie #3 or #4 with the HVX and a Letus adapter). No jellycam, no weird stair stepping or compression.

I want the movie to have blues and greens in it. I'd love to pull out the red in the highlights and the blacks.

I'm printing contracts.

Lifehacker's top malware removal tools.

Max Raabe.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Via Bill, monetizing web content.

I so don't agree with writing in post or multi-camera shoots. Multi-camera is great for making TV shows. Writing in post is great for making bad movies.

And although Nikon is talking about manual control for their upcoming cameras, my fear is that we should just shoot with the HVX and Letus this time out and wait for Nikon to do its thing before we use it to shoot a feature.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What Am I Doing?

I have been fighting vicious viruses on my PC and a meltdown on our Mac where it's just refusing to make DVD's. I think I've solved both. We'll see.


You know, I realized that I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing. In a week we're going to shoot Clonehunter and I haven't made any storyboards, haven't really figured out how I'm going to shoot, haven't really visualized what we're doing specifically (in most cases) and... I'm OK with that.

My big concern is if we shoot with a D90, how to deal with the ISO and the shutter. It's very difficult. But the D90 will give us at least one more stop of light, which I could appreciate.

Either that or I'm borrowing Blair's light kit with his two 500W lights and blasting some light into each set from the outside.

We should/could do some gags where the light is obscured by gobos (or hands) which go past to indicate buildings going by. That might be cool.

How to deal with the Nikon D90.

Keep Going Past the Gorilla

Just... keep going past the gorilla. It becomes... just brilliant (how many times in life do you get to say that?)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Mitchell has been doing research today. Which is good, because I want to shoot the spaceship interiors of Clonehunter with a Nikon D90 because I want the interior lights built into the set to blow out more. I don't want to light the set(s) in Forked River at all. I want to use the built-in lights the way they were designed (for a faster camera). We'll see if that's possible with the D90.

Here's how to enable multicore processing in Apple's Compressor.

This is a Too Much Too Soon fix for the Nikon D90 "stairstepping" issue. I'm a fan of the TMTS plugins.

Now someone might just fix the D90's "jellycam" issues.

It's 87.6 miles from NYC to Forked River, NJ (according to Google Maps). They say it'll take an hour and 44 minutes. That sounds about right from our experience.

If you need your mind blown, check out these pictures of Saturn and moons.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Kangaroo Court is Now in Session

I need to figure out a way to remotely backup files -- like a terrabyte or two of files.

You suck at seeing blue.

This kind of thing just makes me want to have mock trials and speedy executions. "This year, of course, entertaining our crowd at our usual multi-star Michelin hotspots would simply not do"

The guillotine was invented for a reason.

Using Restore to create a multi-platform backup server. It would involve setting up a Linux server and I can't figure out where the files go or what kind they are. Unfortunately the Restore site is down so I can't read the FAQ.

I wanna make a post-apocalypse movie. One day.

Monday, April 20, 2009


I picked up a Nikon E2 extension tube from Adorama on Sunday. 15 bucks. I have no idea yet how close that'll let us get to a subject with the Nikon.

Also, I don't know what codec we'll use for the next movie (Clonehunter). I'm thinking DVCPRO HD. One advantage is that if we shoot any of the movie with the HVX200 then we can keep the codecs all identical-like.

If I wanted to use my new Nikon lenses on the HVX with the Letus adapter I'd have to get a Nikon mount. That would be another hundred bucks.

I'm in a very complainy mood about how our government hates small businesses. For instance, the State of California just created some production incentives in the way of a 20% tax break for films with a budget over $1 million. Thanks CA -- way to screw the little guy!

New York's tax incentive programs were all written to ensure that no micro-budget programs could partake -- specifically by requiring a certain number of days which the productions must spend at one of the few big sound stages in New York.

Pride and Prejudice the comic. Er. Without zombies.

Various numbers

They won't mean anything to you, but I wanted to get them off of my google widget notepad-y thing.

kitchen stools
dust buster
scotch brite pads
bedroom alarm clock
reading light?

The Boston Molasses Disaster.

JC Penny online or IKEA for curtains.

More whining about theater. Interestingly this is from an actor's perspective. Most of the online whining I see is from the writer's perspective. In this case, strangely, I find myself agreeing with the artistic director the writer is against. Unfortunately, the article the artistic director refers to is not linked.

U O Me 3993.95
11731 MC
8580 SV
8845 AU

ring 5 1/2
middle 6

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Clonehunter designs.

We begin production of Clonehunter in two weeks. First up is all the stuff on the Clonehunter's spacecraft. We're shooting in Forked River.

We'll be using some models and such from Team Dystopia.

We should still come up with a pizza box of the future. I bet they'll still say "You've tried all the rest, now try the best."

And hey -- does anyone remember the cyro-bed in the cargo bay set? Don't you think that'd make a nice bomb which was put on the ship? It needs to have a blinking light.

Stop motion with wolf and pig.

Weekend Movies and Food

Soul Flavors. I think this is my new favorite soul food place. Anywhere.

This seems to be the season of zombies/monsters/killers in the snow.

Dead Snow, which like One Eyed Monster I haven't seen yet; looks like it got an IFC on-demand deal (which means, as far as I know, a very bad deal for the producers.)

Fritt Velt or Cold Prey is OK. Maybe I'm just not into the slasher genre.

I had a good time watching Sleep Dealer. Finally it seems someone's made sense of the Gibson Neuromancer - type "my life is in the matrix" dystopian future world. Workers from Mexico log in to operate robots in the US. America gets the work done without the workers. That is a "jacked in" dystopia which makes sense to me.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Now We Approach the Font

Here's a link to the shockingly counter intuitive way to make embedded YouTube videos play in high quality mode.

And how to make them start where you really want them to.

Gotta Love the State

So, the brilliant minds at the State of New Jersey have for us a $900 bill. Oh, it's not a "tax" (because all taxes "flow through" to the partners in an LLC) no -- they call it a "filing fee".

The stupid filing fee for an LLC in the State of New Jersey is $150 per partner. So for the 4 partners we have in Bloodmask LLC that's $600. Thank you State of New Jersey!

Now what could be more awesome? Oh wait, I know! How about the State insists that we pay half of next year's fee in ADVANCE? Now that would be freakin' awesome.

Yay! $900. Just to file our taxes. Because, of course, we don't actually owe any taxes -- the taxes flow through to the members. Who pay taxes.

Oh -- you know there has to be some bitter irony right? I mean let's just think about this. What could make all of this even more awesome? Oh wait, I know! How about the fact that if we were a freakin hedge fund or an "investment club" we wouldn't have to pay the fee at all! Wouldn't that be awesome?

So to recap: we grossed (GROSSED mind you) $19,300.00 last year. And we have to pay $900 of it in "fees" to the state. So the State gets to just lop off the same amount for us they'd take for some multi-million dollar operation. Thanks for the regressive tax structure you guys!

Remind me, how do small businesses actually operate legally? I see how the big boys do it -- it's actually easier for them -- but how do you stay solvent with a small business and not break any laws? I better get right on with breakin' some laws because at this rate I'm gonna be non-existent. I hear you can do well in prostitution...

Right now the Republicans ain't doin' crap for the actual small-business owner. The Democrats might do something but the reality is that the lawyers who write these laws have never had a sub-$100,000 business so they have no idea what it's like. When you and your partners are raking in millions of dollars a year and you have to pay this $150/partner fee you all have another toast of champagne while you do it.

And don't get me started on Joe the freakin' Plumber. He knows nothing about actually running a business. Aargh. I need another drink. Let these rabbits run the company.

Tomorrow morning I'm throwing all my partners out of the company. Including my dad. If the State is going to eat our trickle of money which is coming in then it's just not worth it to have the LLC exist for more than two years. PTHHTHHth and poo.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


So I was talking to our brilliant and fashionable costume designer Carly yesterday and she asked if I had a particular image in mind for the movie.

And good grief. I don't.

I think I used to do that. But then I gave up and just let the designers design.

But I really should have something over-arching. Heck. We should design the poster art first. Good enough for Hammer Films, good enough for Pandora Machine.

Somebody... get on that.

Here is the mecha-hand for Rachel in Clonehunter, built by Brian.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Angels Have the Phone Box

So... wiser people than me realized what the "blink" reference was to in this previous post.

The reference is to one of the most brilliant Dr. Who episodes ever and, really, one of the best written little sci-fi/horror stories ever.
I mean, it's off the hook. It's run the idea train off the rails. It's over-the-river-and-through-the-woods good. These creatures can move incredibly fast -- but only when you're not looking at them.

This is some amazing stuff. Apparently I'm not the first person to think that.

Furthermore, it being the Internet and all, you can get your The Angels Have the Phone Box T-shirt. Heck, Google it. There are a million of them out there already.

I Don't Need My Own Content

Because I can just steal it from Bill. The artist is Tom Chantrell.

I'm done with filing taxes. Yeah. Thanks.

How does that helmet attach at the neck?

I have to secure some locations for Clonehunter. Some of the sets are going to have some very out-of-focus backgrounds, that's for sure. I plan to light the "bar" with lights that point down and the "club" with lights that point up. Yeah. Planning.

I just love submarines crashed on the desert floor. Love. Them.

This "matrix tone generator" has taken up too much of my time today already.

And look, a reasoned look at the Columbine massacre. Sorry reality doesn't fit into the story each interest group had ready for it! They weren't bullied, they weren't going after "Christians", they weren't on anti-depressants. Just psychopaths.
Audrey Hepburn's English parents were fascists. But she was sent to live in the Netherlands while England was being bombed and ended up living in the Netherlands under German occupation.

I told her that Holden character had a vasectomy and was no good for her but did she listen?

Wait, seriously? This site says this movie was never made. Dear Lord, man! We have to make it!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


We've been madly casting people for Clonehunter.

The role of Rachel will be played by the beautiful and talented Angela Funk.

The role of Peck will be played by the dashing and handsome Jeffrey Plunkett.

The role of Althea (the Hostesss) will be played by the lovely and brilliant Medina Senghore.

They will all look much more glamorous and un-sweaty in Clonehunter.

Those three actors happened to be in our last movie, Alien Uprising.

The Japanese distributor for that picture apparently wants closeups of the creature's mouth and eyes. Unfortunately the creature has no eyes and we don't have any stills of its mouth because the thing really only exists in camera. But I'll figure out something... tomorrow.


I always say that my west window has all the exuberance of Chaucer without, happily, any of the concomitant crudities of his period.

Christine Keeler

Christine Keeler.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Oh man, this is what we shoulda done about a year ago...

Clonehunter Calendar

Here is the production schedule calendar for 0904 Clonehunter. May 2 through June 7.

The Answer

The real question isn't 'What would have happened if Superman was with the Nazis?' but rather, 'What if Superman were a kinky bu...?' -- oh wait, that question's been answered...

Knowing Things

Now we know things. Specifically we know how many days each character has on set. You'll notice that on a scheduled 16-day shoot that the first two characters have 15 and 16 days respectively. The next character has 11 days. And the character(s) in fourth place have four days on. 

Do I believe this schedule is infallable? No. I believe that we're going to ask our two main characters, Cain and Rachel, to come back once or twice to shoot some little thing we hadn't gotten. 

But we can estimate our food budget now. We know we're going to have about 75 actor/days for the shoot plus about 50 crew/days for a total of 125 man/days (that's better than the 160 man/days we had on Alien Uprising even though AE was only a 12-day shoot). 

I suspect we're going to do some fancy tricks with lighting and possibly bluescreen for the bar and club scenes and otherwise just shoot them in my apartment. (I better get curtains.)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter for You

Happy Easter

Gotta love the armor. 

Put 8GB of RAM in the Mac 8-core. It had had only 2GB. Gotta figure that's gonna make a big difference. $180 for 8 Gigs. 

Figuring out details of schedule for Clonehunter.

Need bubble tea.

Plus also too, Muppets versus Zombies.

A Lack of Width


Sometimes it's surprising just how relatively small the British Isles are. Hadrian's Wall, which is popularly thought to have been built to protect the Romans from the Scots (it was actually to protect the Romans from the Picts, who were -- it must be said -- much more dangerous than the Targas or the JPegs) was not quite 80 miles long. That's from (Irish)sea-to-shining-(North)sea. 

But wait. That's not all. The Antonine Wall is just a bit further north and that bad boy manages to go from end-to-end in under 40 miles. 

Friday, April 10, 2009


OK, so maybe Moon will be OK. I'm going to be really annoyed if he just turns out to be dead, or on an operating table back on Earth, or if this is a remake of Solaris -- otherwise it could be cool. Either that or I'm just going to watch Darkstar online...

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Clonehunter Post Meeting

Production and post-production meeting conclusions:

Color will tend to be blues from black up through midtones -- then color will go gold up to white.

We will try to get Maya on the Mac so we don't have to hop between Macs and PCs in the picture department.

Henry will start with shots of the defense satellite system and the city flythroughs.

I gotta get a couple 1TB hard drives and a bluescreen.

Art Coming In

We're getting art coming in for Clonehunter.

Here is Rachel's unpainted and undetailed cyborg hand, designed and built by Brian Schiavo.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


So I've finished "boarding" Clonehunter. Surprising things about the story frequently arise when you board a picture -- that is, to arrange all the scenes with all the characters and see who has how many scenes and how many days that translates into.

For instance, when I shot my first feature Hamlet, an agent tried to get second-billing for our Ophelia. But Ophelia is actually a relatively small part in that play even if we think of her as being the love-interest. The love story in the play (if it's there at all and no I'm not getting into that) isn't very important. Her brother Laertes has a vastly bigger part (if only because he lives longer.)

In the case of Clonehunter we find that Rachel is actually a slightly bigger part than Cain. Well if there's any argument about who's "point of view" most of this picture is from, that piece of information will make good ammunition. (But the action in the finale is clearly from Cain's POV. So I dunno. Ooh, I'm the director right? I better figure that one out pretty soon.)

Now I have to start putting all this together on a calendar. The trick is always what scenes will be shot where. I think that anytime the spaceship lands it'll have to be at my dad's metal shop. But there are other things we want to shoot in fabulous Gowanus. And I have zero idea where we're going to shoot a couple things. Those will need to be figured out.

Oh and if you're wondering about a couple names on this breakdown that you haven't seen before (having read the script), I named some characters who didn't have names before.

UPDATE: you'll noticed that I flipped the x and y axis of the board from what they usually are. Normally the rows are for characters and the columns are for scenes. But in Excel it's much easier to do it the other way 'round. Plus the added benefit is that you don't end up with a single sheet which is three feet long (wide). This is the way I'm going to board pictures from now on.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Festival du Film

You know, it seems we can't get into a film festival to save our lives. We've got a stack of rejection letters around here somewhere from European fantastic film festivals. Don't know why. We've never been too good at being cool enough to get into any film festivals. So I think we're just going to give up on them.

Which is too bad. It's a bit irksome to me because I can say pretty definitively that Solar Vengeance is the best independently produced off-world science-fiction movie made last year.


But still, no dice. Well, we'll see what the Japanese think about it after it comes out. Oh wait, it already came out. I wonder if there are any Japanese reviews.


Moviehouse is a sales rep (or "producer's rep") which reps the movie Hunter Prey.

Monday, April 06, 2009

The Cat is Sitting on the Couch

Here's a video on pre-production for post-production from Eric Escobar of the Orphanage. Bill sent this to me. I do as I'm told.

Interestingly the video starts out by saying to not fix things in post but Eric goes on to say that you should shoot silhouettes "flat" and create them in post.
From John August, this is about screenplay action and making it better. Personally, writing that's in a passive voice (which Josh James also talks about) is something which drives me nuts. I've blogged about that before. And oh look, John does a follow-up on that subject and even has the correct grammatical term for it.

No, this looks kind of like my cat but the only thing it has in common with Pushkin is the attitude.

Eats a Bowl of Cereal

Don Arrup on the real-estate market.

Thumber is for making multiple thumbnail previews at one-second intervals of entire movies. I'm not yet entirely sure why you'd want this but it might be nice for looking at the color palate(s) of movies.

Also via Stu Machwitz is "Color Theory For Cinematographers."

Michael Bay eats a bowl of cereal.

Sunday, April 05, 2009


I saw Splinter last night. What a brilliant little movie. The rules for a picture like this are: keep the number of locations down. (Check -- a couple exteriors, a road, and all the rest of a movie in a remote gas station.) Have no practical way for the characters to get out. (Check --monster moves faster than they do.) Make the characters interesting enough to last the whole show. (Double-check!) Make them die horrible gristly deaths. (Check. And mate).

The screenplay is terrific. The character of the convict is just brilliant. To me, a screenplay this good just says "This movie could direct itself." Sure sure, who knows what kind of input the director had? He is, after all, actually listed as a writer.

There's not much, oddly, in the way of visual or special effects. They keep the movie rockin' primarily with (egads) character development along with plot development (so you aren't hit over the head with any "I think we've learned our lessons here" moments.)

But dude -- their boxoffice gross is less than we've ever netted for North American (I'm sure their DVD sales are much sweeter though.) I wonder why they had to get an art-house release for the picture? Four screens, really?

Splinter Trailer (2008) from Toby Wilkins on Vimeo.
Combat ear plugs (earplugs).

CG Stuff

Cinegobs makes a freeware keyer (Windows only) and a spill suppressor (which is available as a Photoshop and After Effects plugin for Mac and PC).

He also has some explosion stock footage effects which are free.

Moebius87 has Dystopia stuff for sale at DAZ.

This is a render from Moebius87 -- showing his money (which I can't find the download for to save my life.)

Holy Cow -- The Spirit

The Spirit.

It's a bad movie.

The performances are spectacularly bad. I mean Jr. High School level bad. And these aren't terrible actors to start with -- not at all. So it has to be completely tone-deaf directing. Where the hell was everyone who's supposed to keep this from happening?

Holy cow.

Seriously, this has to be one of the worst pictures by a major studio (well, major independent) in many many years.

The story is bad too.

I couldn't even figure out where things "amped up" and the stakes got higher. Maybe that's because I was so bored I was reading reddit or something. I guess it had something to do with The Spirit drinking some blood but by then I just didn't care because the flashback sequence, which I swear took 30 minutes, just bored me to tears.

Try Bill Cunningham's review.

Visually the movie is very interesting though. I almost wish it stayed in that look it started in -- the extreme black & white.

Saturday, April 04, 2009


So it seems our distributor will NOT be backcharging us for the masters which didn't pass QC. He still won't talk to us (specifically me). Is he not backcharging because I yelled? Nobody knows.

And the most worrysome thing: is there any distributor/sales rep who does talk to their clients? I've heard horror stories about everyone.

So let's look at Australian independent pop music, shall we?

Megan Washington (see? MySpace is still good for something.)


Friends of Blair's made this*:

*On the Canon D5.

More Robots Please

From the Swedish Kaktus Films. (Thanks to Angry Robot Books.)

To Do List

On my "to get" list are:

Monarch of the Moon (I'm going to try Kim's video, should I fail I'll just have to go to Amazon.)

Sin City -- either Blockbuster (or some such) or I'll just buy it used.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. A beautiful looking movie. As I recall I wasn't that excited about the plot.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Empire Zeppelins

In and amongst other things I'm doing is collecting some images for 0903 Fly By Night. I really should be posting them in our aesthetic "bible" but instead I'm posting them right here.

More and more

Here's a brilliant little article on running a software business. Not everything applies to all businesses, but there's some fascinating insight here from Joel (of Joel on Software.)

He also has this article in Inc magazine on pay transparency.

And this is a somewhat older piece of artwork for the Japanese version of Solar Vengeance.

Tomorrow I begin scheduling 0904 Clonehunter. My mouse-hand is all cramped.

I think we're on day 4 of our distributor petulantly not getting back to us. We'll see how that goes.

Court Blood

The Hudson County Courthouse is this amazing beaux-arts building around the corner from my new apartment.

I'm thinking a little Photoshop and this thing becomes Kafka's castle on the top of the hill...

My big question is: how much would it cost to shoot in it?


Here's a pretty decent tutorial on making bullet impacts on things. Love the baby powder video overlay to make dust puffs. We need a turkey baster, a black board with a hole cut in the center, a piece of glass to protect the camera, and a bunch of blood and baby powder. Then the party gets started...

Dark Star

Tony Basil vs. The Knack vs. The Ting Tings. Thanks to Joe Gage.

AMC has its own B-Movie site.

Specifically they have Dark Star:

That's thanks to John Scalzi.