Friday, July 31, 2009

Kittens and Naked Girls

DUDE! I'm totally Extra Credit on Christopher Sharpe's blog!

Andrew Bellware’s site is a scrapbook/journal that documents his filmmaking process. He’s in the middle of making 5 science fiction movies in 2 years. In addition to behind the scenes production information, the blog gives some interesting details on distribution, film markets and foreign sales. It’s also a great place to find information on all kinds of camera and post-production gear (along with photos of kittens and naked girls).
I guess it's time to get back to the kittens and naked girls now!

Peacock is a nodal-based online effects editor.

Durian is a Blender movie.

Check out the Nikon D300S. Maybe the rolling-shutter issue is better with it in HD mode? Maybe it has manual controls?

Marvel Motion Comics

Starting with Spider Woman

And from.


Well it looks like Alien Uprising will be in at least some Blockbuster stores next week. When I asked if Alien Uprising would be available next week the lady in the local South Brunswick Blockbuster said "Yes" without any hesitation.

On our last deal with Blockbuster (which was 4 movies ago*) Blockbuster actually purchased the movie. My understanding is that they don't do that any more. They bought 4700 copies at $7.25 a piece. The distributor of Pandora Machine took $3 off the top of each unit for "manufacturing and distribution" and split the rest with us.

In any case, we don't see any additional money from Alien Uprising in North America. But the Blockbuster deal certainly means that the distributor will make some money.

I guess that means we should make pictures which can be marketed as action pictures.

*After Pandora Machine came out we released Millennium Crisis but Blockbuster, after assuring our distributor that they'd buy it, just didn't. Then we probably did a bad job of marketing Solar Vengeance because we never did haven't yet found a North American distributor.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Killing Susan

Killing Susan in Clonehunter. That's the kind of joint Greg runs you know.

This effect and composite were created by Alex Sherman.

And to me the funniest part is Jef Betz' reaction... and approval. ;-)

Of the Greatest Importance

Here's an incredibly important piece of information which everyone should know. I'm glad I have your attention.

Most Gibson Les Paul guitars have a 1 11/16" nut. A few guitars made in the 60's had 1 5/8" nuts. But more importantly, my guitar has a 1 11/16th nut.

I went and ordered an Earvana drop-in compensating nut from Guitar Parts Depot.

I'm experimenting with Save the Cat software. Example above.

Pegamoose II

Dude. I thought I was being all original and making-up-words when I came up with "Pegamoose" but there is a Pegamoose Games!

There is nothing better than mixing the mighty Pegasus with the mythical moose. This has really brightened my day.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Two Months Behind

Man, I just feel like I've been getting lots of work not done. I am fighting to recover yet another crashed hard drive. That's two in the last month and-a-half. It's not a disaster if I lose this drive but it sure is annoying.

Most of our bluescreens in Clonehunter were lit and photographed well. Not all of them though. The first few on the first day have a problem wherein they suck. So I'm working on one and I just can't get it to key out and it's really irritating me. I'm thinking "but Maduka got the previous shot to work, it's the same piece of footage (just earlier)." So I open up the AfterEffects file he used to get the matte and he's just done every little thing with a gazillion masks and keys to create the alpha channel on the footage. So I replace the footage he had with the footage I'm struggling with and viola. It works. Man, that keying nightmare must have taken him hours to deal with. Sorry!

Today's Quote(s) of the Day come from The New Yorker (I'm almost exactly 2 months behind, which for me is pretty good.)

From Outsmarted:

A common mistake of very smart people is to assume that other people's minds work in the same way that theirs do. This is a particular problem in economics. Its mathematically based models and assumptions of rational conduct can appear, to non-economists, like toys, entertaining but, by definition, of limited utility.

From the review of Terminator Salvation:

If you arrived late for “Terminator Salvation” and missed the name of the director, at what moment would you realize that you were not watching a Mike Leigh film? I would nominate the scene in which a rusty tow truck, armed with a wrecking ball, is pursued by a riderless robot motorbike, armed with automatic machine guns. A wrecked car falls into the bike’s path, at which point we are given privileged access to the display screen inside the robot’s brain. We get a blood-red projection of the obstacle ahead, and with it, for a second or two, the words “Analyzing alternatives.” Slide under the wreck, crash through it, or skirt around the side? I felt sorry for this anxious bike, which may have been having trouble at home, and it certainly delivers a more measured performance than some of the leading actors.
Nonetheless, that brief digital readout gives the game away. The business of the film is not to tell a cogent story or earn the devotion of our sympathies but to analyze alternatives, and, when in doubt, pick whichever is louder.


Manac is a Canadian company which makes... oh who cares what they make? -- They have a PEGAMOOSE as a freakin' LOGO!

Pegamoose is awesome.


Oh, so it turns out that I have permission from Sam Raimi to use 2D blood effects. Maybe they were 3D elements at one time, but they became 2D earlier than most 3D does. (Well somebody watched 300 here.)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Delicate Dogs

Horoscopes by Belle Epoque. How could I not?

John Scalzi got a Paladin XLC V2 computer.

Remember, Save the Cat seminar in New York City on August 15th and 16th. Be there and be square.
DATES: Saturday, August 15, 2009 and Sunday, August 16, 2009
TIMES: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm both days
LOCATION: Marriott New York East Side
525 Lexington Avenue at 49th Street
New York, NY 10017

Just keep thinking while watching this: "Yes, it will actually get weirder than it is now." Oh and "This isn't safe for work or children or even delicate dogs."

What happened to today?

Today started at 5am. And I have no idea what I actually did to be productive.


You have a small business? You need healthcare reform. Show your support.

Notes from Ethan:
Basswood and poplar are now considered "tonewoods" but once were considered junk.
Rio Grande pickups.
Kinman pickups.
GFS pickups are really inexpensive.
Here's a simplified forecast of how much money you can make from a web series. I'll cut to the end for you "not much" is the answer.
How to play the guitar solo in "Time".


William Shatner recites Sarah Palin's resignation speech.

Update: fixed broken link.

Monday, July 27, 2009


I declare the first 10-minute reel of Clonehunter to be picture locked. There are some effects missing. But it's locked nonetheless.

I've also made the command decision that our reels are 10 minutes rather than 20. Many computers will emit a sigh of relief at the fact they don't have to deal with 20 minutes at a time. In particular my post-production audio computer.

The top 40 things people are thinking about when they're having sex.

Andrew is visual effects supervisor on The Shriven. He's a Nuke guy. Good to know.

Information on compensating nuts.

Chronic Cellars Sofa King Bueno.

Earvana compensating nuts. I always have trouble getting a "D" chord in tune.

If you've forgotten where your screenplay beat calculator is, it's here.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Lock Me Amadeus

Just saw Rec, as recommended by Nat Cassidy. It's a first-person guy-with-a-video-camera horror flick. And it's pretty brilliant. The conceit of having a video camera as part of a reality-show that just happens to get caught in what we might think of as a "haunted house" actually works. I mean it works elegantly in the way that things like Cloverfield does clumsily.

The movie was remade as Quarantine.

So Apple has apparently (finally) put all their documentation online. Here's the section on Final Cut Studio workflows. This includes ingesting footage, a bit on data management, codecs, and "finishing" (color-correction and suchly.)

John Scalzi gives advice for teens.

Bill Cunningham writes about why Trajan is such an excellent font that it can be used on all films. "There's no need to reinvent good design" Cunningham says.

Print and photograph Shoelace dominating the world.

I'm trying to lock the first ten minutes of Clonehunter picture. I suspect it'll be lockable by the end of the day. I'm thinking we should move to 10-minute reels rather than 20-minute reels. I think that everyone who touches the picture in post-production will be happier.

Oh So Many Things

We have a composer for Clonehunter. Sam Reising is on board. He's terrific and produces orchestral scores very quickly. I wholeheartedly recommend him if you're looking for an excellent composer.

Tonerider pickups. They're cheap and well - reviewed.

Audio clips of Fralin pickups compared to Fender Custom Shop pickups.

Yeah, I don't get it either.

Louis Electric makes amplifiers.

Why are the videos for Kaiser Chiefs protected against embedding?

Below are just more notes:

So Genocide creates sleeper agents -- they aren't even aware they're in his command. The amp up is that our hero realized that he might already be a sleeper -- maybe that's what Genocide did to him back on Earth.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Delight Me

Over the past year I've seen some very good customer service. Blue Sky has replaced the amplifier, twice, on an EXO system, free of charge and by FedEx'ing the part with a return label to return the original. Now obviously there is/was a design problem with that amplifier, but they are on it as far as customer service. And it seems to me they've changed the design somewhat, perhaps to deal with the problem.

Also this year I lost a part to a set of Grover Imperial tuners I bought and Stew-Mac just sent the part to me, no charge. It was totally my fault but they just put a new part in the mail and sent it out because I told them I lost it.

I ordered the new Action Essentials 2 DVD's from Video Copilot and before I even got the DVD's they announced on their blog that some people were having trouble with the DVD's and that they were changing their manufacturing process. Sure enough, I've had a bit of trouble reading from the DVD's and not only did Video Copilot make a special secret download site available for getting files immediately, they're mailing me new DVD's this week. Plus, of course, they have some of the best tutorials around.


David O'Gara is a visual effects artist doing some work on The Shriven.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Mischa Barton was in this movie called Homecoming which was produced by a friend of mine, Austin Stark. Henry Maduka Steady did some visual effects work on the picture.


Abel Cine has an HDSLR store.

I think this is the shirt my voiceover booth ripped. I'm not sure.

Supersound Music seems like a kind of neat boutique guitar store.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wanna Know Some Numbers?

So do I.

Thinking more about advertising and revenue with web Video On Demand. According to this article, Hulu charges from $25 to $30 for every 1000 impressions. So that means Hulu makes about $25K to $30K for every million "impressions" per ad.

On the Hulu FAQ they suggest that they have one ad per ad break -- as it would be on television -- for "long form" content. I infer this means something like 7 ads in a regular feature film.

I bet the way they count views is counting views of commercials. So if you watch the first few minutes of 10 different movies that counts as 10 "impressions". Of course, not only don't I really know, I have no way of really finding out. Feh.

Notes on another script

Cat cafe. You go there to pet cats. Of course. Bring tuna.

AfterEffects has been flakey lately. Tried rendering where AE would suddenly shut off a layer in the render, even though I could see the layer on screen. Had to render out 150 frames with "save frame as" by hand and then re-import as a Photoshop frame sequence to then export as a Quicktime. It was a load of fun.

Today I found that adding motion blur knocked out a lens flare effect. No. Idea. Why.

Maduka's in Geneva for the next couple weeks. I think I talked him out of over-working himself before he went but still the only major sequences in Clonehunter which haven't been edited yet are the hoverbike chase and the fight at the end -- so he's certainly put in a lot of time on this edit. Whew!


The following are notes on a script. Don't bother reading them, they won't make sense unless you've read the script:

The debate: I think Luke is so freaked out by Genocide that he doesn't want to get in a position where he can be pushed again. Genocide is a pusher.
We get to Scaramanga's too quickly. We get to the "not on the payroll" idea too quickly.
Luke goes from "do stuff the right way" at the beginning to "I'm gonna break your fingers anyway" in the 2nd act. Is that a natural progression for him? Zeke implies that Luke had gotten soft -- if so that's two character changes. Is there a moment when Luke decides to kick a lot of ass? Is it when he sees Zeke's wife?
He should be afraid of Genocide... unless... they put a chip in his brain to make him resistant to Genocide's pushing. Maybe they make Luke cybernetic so he's one step closer to being an android himself? That would be the debate and we'd lead into act II being his arrival on the planet. Of course, the stakes have to amp up in order to get us into act III -- like if Genocide were setting up an android army to invade Earth.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Communism: Good For Business

As a business owner, I desperately want a national single-payer health plan. The amount of pain-in-the-ass reduction by us having a decent system will be spectacular. I won't have to worry about employee's (or my) health care. I won't have to add health care to the cost of doing business compared to our German and Japanese (and good Lord, Canadian) competitors.

Help my business: show your support.

Here's an irony: any kind of national or "socialized" medicine in the US is going to kill union organizing efforts. Right now the strongest tool an organizer has for trying to get shops under a union is to ask the employees "do you have health care benefits?" If workers no longer care about getting health benefits because they already have them, there's going to be a lot less incentive for them to join a union.

Here's a Reddit discussion on credit card processors.

Three Words for You

Cookie Cake Pie.

HP OfficeJet all in one network printer.

Should I get Lace Gold Dome pickups for my Squire Strat? I know -- it won't be as "spanky" as the stock pickups but I don't have any indy cred anyway.

I think I need a Hammond player for my new "band". I have to record a new album. I also need an opera singer and a cellist.

Pando lets you send 1GB files to people. Anybody doing video knows those needs.

Marche du Ugh

So it's going to cost you 4,460 Euros to get a booth at the Marche du Cannes. Did you want a DVD player with a video screen and speakers? Just go ahead and add another 1,000 Euros. I'm not entirely certain you even get a chair and a little table, to put your 1-sheets and such on, at these rates.

Plus you gotta get there and have somewhere to stay.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Saw Blood, the Last Vampire. Almost good. Suffered from the "push every line of dialog" school of filmmaking. But actually had an interesting plot. And, of course, it looked gorgeous.

More 2D blood. Similar to Mutant Chronicles in that regard. Actually, a lot of 2D effects -- clearly AfterEffects -- in The Last Vampire. Whereas Harry Potter obviously created their own particle "ink" effects for the death eaters, I thought that Blood used the Trapcode Particular particle effects. Still looked pretty good.

I'm thinking that those 2D blood effects are the way to go. Not messy or dangerous or a pain in the tuchus like squibs are.

Looks like I'm going to attend a Save the Cat seminar on August 8th and 9th here in New York. More details as I know them. I think I gave away my last copy of Save the Cat (again.)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Ugly, but it gets you there.

The minimum cost to be an exhibitor at the AFM is $8675. Of course, you and at least one other person have to be put up in Santa Monica for the week, you have to make lots of posters and 1-sheets, and you have to convince a whole bunch of people to buy your movie(s).

Me? I really don't want to go into the distribution biz. I'd much rather partner up with someone who does want to do that, or preferably who is doing that.

Saw the Half Blood Prince. A very un-homophobic movie wherein teachers could spend time with students and there wasn't that whole "Oh noes!" of them being alone together. The screenplay was excellent too.


Oh look. New Horizons is making a movie called Dinoshark. It's exactly what you think it is.

And Ted Raimi is teaming up with Mary Lambert (the director of the movie The Attic) to make High Midnight, a zombie western, on Peak Global Entertainment's label. What frightens us about making a western is the fact that one of our best movies, Solar Vengeance, got kind of beat up by distributors because it was a western.

Anyway, according to The Film Catalogue it's: "A broken-down sheriff is forced to join forces with an obsessed Victorian vampire hunter to defeat an undead force consuming a small frontier town in 1892 New Mexico."

Gawker Gets It Right

This week Amazon deleted 1984 and Animal Farm from customer's Kindles. I read about that numerous places, but only Gawker got the headline right:

Deleting is Publishing, And Amazon Never Removed 1984 From Your Kindle

Friday, July 17, 2009

Me me me

Things I want for my birthday.

Hi-fidelity ear plugs.

Another Stratocaster.

Some dang curtains.

An air conditioner.

The Ocean's 13 soundtrack.

A new flat-bottomed short-sleeve shirt to replace the one which was assaulted by the doorhandle of my voiceover booth yesterday.

I'll be happy with the curtains.

How Much Money is TV?

So I'm trying to figure out how much a network "charges" per hour -- for a person watching a TV show -- to an advertiser. It turns out that information is very hard to come by. It depends on who Neilson (or whomever) says is watching (is it the coveted 18-to-35 year old male?), when (late night?), and where (NY metropolitan area, South Dakota?)

And nobody wants that information public. The networks want to protect their pricing, the advertising agencies want to protect their proprietary metrics, everybody is nuts.

1. So, let's say national TV spots might be (in the cheapest) about $5 for 1000 pairs of eyes for 30 seconds.

2. And let's pretend that a show like TNT's Leverage gets (at this point in the lousy advertising market)... $50,000 for 30-seconds? Does that jibe with the $5/1000 viewers stipulation above? No, that would imply ten million viewers. I think the best they've done is 3.5 million viewers.

But I'm going to stick with the $50,000 for 30-seconds number because... well because it's an even number.

Anyway, if Leverage is an hour-long show then there are about 12 minutes of "national" advertising (and 4 minutes of local ad revenue which the network doesn't get.) So TNT grosses about 1.2 million dollars on the first airing of the show.

I bet there's a formula for figuring out how much money they make in the first year of a TV program's debut. I bet it's something like 2x the first airing's revenue. Who knows? Maybe they figure the total revenue to be something around 3x to 5x the first airing's revenue. Who knows? About 40 people probably know the real numbers. I'm not one of those people.

Anyway, this was just some thinking begat by the notion of paying $1.99 for an episode of a TV show on, say, Amazon. Right now, with commercial television, we "pay" something like 12 cents(?) (plus the fact that we have to watch when they air the show), (plus the cost of your cable/satellite if you're watching a cable-only channel), to watch the show. We don't pay that money directly as the advertisers are sold, well, us. But if we buy their stuff then we can think of the cost as a tax on us.

Anyway. 12 cents vs a buck ninety-nine. As long as I didn't make a mistake in the decimal point. If I did, maybe someone will tell me.

OK. I'm tired of thinking about this. Look at the nice bunny.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Rusty Walls

How to spot a counterfeit Gibson Les Paul. My Les Paul only has two screws. Whew.

Dragon stop-motion animation software.

One thing that has always bothered me, in a typical rock band, when the guitar lead happens then a rhythm guitar part drops out and there's a big hole in the sound. So just as the song is supposed to be getting more exciting, it becomes less exciting. The Who's Pete Townshend seemed to manage to get around that somehow. Mostly by not playing typical guitar leads. The song "Sparks" from their Live at Leeds album is a good example of lead/rhythm playing. I can't do it myself.

Via Lost in Schlock, weathering props with a rust effect. How to make drywall look like a rusted steel wall. I need a lot more rusted steel walls in my life.

Fear Agent

It would be double-plus cool if they actually developed Fear Agent. Now that's a movie I could get behind making a mockbuster of. It'd need a name like Fear Brigade or some such. But it's the sort of thing we could do which would be cool.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I Hate TV

I hate TV. No really. I really hate it. When I was recovering from food poisoning I watched a bunch of TV at my paren't house. Digital cable. Blocky, yukky, artifacty, digital cable. I mean the video quality of standard-def digital cable is terrible. And even worse when there's a football game on. It's really annoying. I swear the quality of TV got worse when it went all "digital" a few months ago.

So why is the quality so much better when I watch the last episode of Leverage online (via Matt Dentler)? I mean it's a HUGE amount better. Boy, if ever anything were going to kill regular TV for me, better quality Internet-TV would be it.

A movie called Homecoming, which Henry Maduka Steady did some visual effects work on, opens on July 17th.


Look. I'm a shill for my own theater company:

The Estrogenius Festival will hold its auditions from July 24 - August 16 at Manhattan Theatre Source (177 MacDougal Street, between Waverly Place & West 8th Street). The sign up for Week One is already available. Since there is no double casting in Estro, the sign up for subsequent weeks is available the Monday before auditions.

Check the Source website for hours of operation:

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Today is not the last 72 hours

Recover(ed/ing) from food poisoning. Cast party for Clonehunter. Soon will upload the cast party teaser video. Somehow I only managed to get these pictures of me today. And saw a play. I think this was when Danny Thompson said "The sea of crap accepts all rivers."
I need some sleep.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

To Win You Gotta Quit

Autotune the News. These guys are amazing. Sarah Palin sounds better autotuned. Still, #2 is my favorite.

Sweet Suite

So on a less than awesome note re: the economy. I have a credit card from Sweetwater, a company which sells musical instruments and such. GE Financial just closed the card.

Now just to be sure, I've been a nightmare customer of theirs. I'd buy stuff with a 12-month "no interest" promotion and then pay it all off by the end of the promotion. And I had no money on the card now. So they weren't making any money with me. (And let's also be sure that my credit record ain't that good, I have other cards with... let's just say... balances...)

But really right now is the time these banks should be getting looser with credit, not tighter. This short term credit simply has to be loosened up across the board.


This might be enough reason for me to get an iPhone 3G:

Football vs Handegg

FXPHD is a site which offers courses in visual effects.

So first off, I never knew how to actually open a banana. In retrospect I feel kind of dumb really. Luckily I have this informative and instructional video to show me how to do it.

Do you remember Margaret and Helen -- the octogenarian bloggers who became cranky Internet famous during the last election? Re: Sarah Palin.

"My God that woman is an idiot. I have said this before, but I feel the need to say it again. Her problems did not come because the media was against her. Her problems come because every time you stick a microphone in front of her mouth a whole lot of stupid falls out."

Friday, July 10, 2009


From Johnny Quest. I like how compelling an image this is. You really have to stop and look twice.


I've been suffering from food poisoning. Paella, don't you know. Anyway, my friend Todd sent me this to cheer me up. Mr. T. Treat your mother right.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Funny Economics

OK so we, or I should say Pandora Machine, are in the sci-fi movie business. The reason we specialize in science fiction is because that's a market with relatively few other producers compared to the number of buyers. We didn't know that when we'd made our first couple o' movies, but it turns out that compared to the straight-up horror/slasher market (for instance), the giant crash in sales over the last 18 months didn't affect us as much. Besides, I like science fiction.

Now what's funny about the market is that by far most of the producers out there make movies which cost them way too much. The manner in which they cost too much can be in two ways: either they get some rich person who doesn't know, or doesn't care that there is no feasible way to get his money back from a particular picture (which is how the bulk of the art-house film industry works); or it's one of these "we only spent $400 making this movie" to which you can say "yeah, but it's a 7-minute short and it took you three years to complete it."

So many of our "competitors" have product in the market which they absolutely and positively cannot make money with. And they typically don't care. For someone like me that's a real "Yikes!!" because I absolutely need to make money 'cause I gotta pay rent.

And it's all, of course, because of the fact that we're in a "glamour" business. If we, for instance, made handrails (ahem) we wouldn't have these problems. Of course, we'd also be making handrails, so that's the tradeoff.

Now on the other hand, because it's a glamour business, there are a lot of people willing to do a lot of work for us for free. I'd love to say "that's no way to run a business" but sometimes you just have to. I'd love to be able to pay people some sort of miserly pathetic salary, but until our pictures start making around $100K I just can't.

United Breaks Guitars

United breaks guitars. The problem with acoustics is that they're too big to hide as carry-ons. I guess cellists just get an extra seat.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

We're Goin' Arbitrary

40 frames of pure love. A somewhat spoiler-y (like you care) Gizmodo article about a three month long project to make a couple seconds of picture on Transformers 2.

I finally saw Lawrence of Arabia. Yeah, I know, I'd just never seen it before. It lives up to the hype, that's for sure. There's just some things that a thousand men on horseback and camels can do which CG can't.

Just read Freakonomics. It's a pretty good book.

As an aside, I tried to read an article in the Atlantic Monthly and it was just so infuriating how badly written it was. Look, I'm an elitist, I read The New Yorker. And you know what that magazine has that others don't? Editors. Good ones. Ones who aren't afraid to tell writers that the writing needs to get better. Editors who make the writing better.

Anyway, Feakonomics could have used a better, or stronger, editor. Especially in the "names" chapter. By the end of the dang chapter I was all "I had to read through all that crap just to find out names don't matter?"

Fun facts about abortion: 1 in 4 pregnancies end in abortion (this has been true in the US for about 30 years.) But overall "When a woman gets an abortion, for the most part it is not changing the total number of children she has; rather, it is shifting the timing so those births come later in life." Apparently the impact of abortion on the total number of births is small.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Only For Costumers

Something Awful Apologizes for Making Sarah Palin Resign.

A quote:
"Brutalized by eight years of Bush prosperity, the American people experienced a fit of sanity and elected the center-right corporatist and his goofball sidekick instead of the warmongering economic neophyte and the winking, know-nothing, hockey mom hate shit he took on the face of America. The outcome wasn't even close. Indiana voted for Obama and voting Democratic in presidential elections there is actually a fineable offense."
Seriously, it only gets funnier from there.

This tutorial on 3D camera projection in AfterEffects kind of blew my mind. I know one can do these sorts of things in regular 3D programs but boy, doing everything in AE would save a lot of time and headaches. I know, I know, I keep going on about these Video Copilot tutorials, but they're really fantastic. But I'm waiting on delivery of the photo-real explosions and muzzle flashes which I need for the compositing which is sitting on my desk.

Oh wait, the second 3D camera projection tutorial is even more amazing. Oh no... the vanishing point tutorial is the best.

No actors, electricians, carpenters, or (Lord help us all) assistant directors. Costumers only buddy. You got a problem with that? You wake up in the morning with a hat pin where the sun don't shine.

Only in the lower 48

Bill Cunningham points to a discussion over here about "lo-fi sci-fi". This would be movies like Primer or these Neill Blomkamp shorts:

There's movies like Infest Wisely (I haven't watched it yet but it seems like a good idea.)

Although ideologically I favor such pictures, not one of these has actually made any money.

This tutorial on building a 3D room in AfterEffects has inspired me as far as making a "comic book movie". My feeling now is that we do virtually everything in AfterEffects: with all the prep of images in Photoshop. That's actually kinda exciting.

I do really wish I could get an effect which makes the live-action footage look like drawings or paintings. So far none of the tests I've done has created what I really want. We can certainly make the visual effects look like cartoons, why can't we do that with the live action? Maybe we just go to super super super-duper high contrast?

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Independence Day Update

There have been a number of news reports about my dad's handrails the opening of the Statue of Liberty, featuring my dad's handrails.


My dad let us shoot our most recent picture in his shop on the weekends.

Just after he gave us permission, he got the contract to build railing for the helical stairs which go up inside the Statue of Liberty to its crown. This was a major job, one which would have normally taken 6 months to complete. They had 6 weeks.
So obviously the shop was working on the weekends, and so were we. All of us tried to share space with one another (many sound takes were ruined, we accidentally trampled over a template for the stair -- which we didn't replace exactly correctly -- eeks!). But we all got done on time.

The crown of the Statue of Liberty has been closed since September 11, 2001. Today, July 4, 2009, it reopened.

This is my father's description of the finished stair (he went about halfway up just as they completed the work and decided that his "octogenarian knees" shouldn't go any further and came back down.)

"The staircase is such a tight helix, and unbelievably steep - almost like a circular ladder. Getting accurate measurements is absolutely impossible. The detailers spent many long hours (at night) trying to make templates. Then the shop would fabricate a piece shaped to the best guess of the detailers. Each piece had to be trucked to the dock, loaded onto the work boat and taken to the island. It then had to be hand carried several hundred yards, passed through security and up a flight of stairs to reach the elevator. The elevator could lift only to level 5P (5th floor of the pedestal). The rails then had to be carried to level 7P. Then the hard part began - getting them up the spiral stair and trying to fit them into their proper place. When a rail didn't fit, which was frequent, the transportation process had to be reversed to get it back to the shop so as to make the corrections and repeat the trek the following day."
They finished two days ago. And now the crown is open to the public.

The Los Angeles Times:

"The move was seen as part of President Obama's attempts to distance the administration from the policies of his predecessor that critics said had hardened America's image since Sept. 11. The Bush administration contended that the attacks and the deaths of hundreds of people in the collapsing World Trade Center towers underscored the potential dangers to crown visitors in the event of another attack or other emergency.

"Reaching the crown involves climbing a narrow double helix staircase, with no option of turning back because of the inevitable lines of people snaking their way up. There are 146 steps in the crown climb, said Darren Boch, a National Park Service spokesman. The total steps from the statue's base, which was reopened on 2004, to the crown number 354."

Friday, July 03, 2009

Japanese Reviews of Solar Vengeance

A review? I think. In Japanese. Of Solar Vengeance. It's hard to tell. They use an old teaser that we'd made -- I have no idea how they found it.

Here's another one.

Furthermore: Planet of the Apes takes place in New Jersey, right? The astronauts land in, what, Delaware? The Apes must live somewhere between Washington and Philadelphia. Or maybe Camden. So that when you go along the shoreline you end up (sorta) at the Statue of Liberty considering that the land between Jersey and Liberty Island filled in after the nuclear war?

The Statue of Liberty. That leads me to my next post.

Venus Upon the Sun

Apparently, all knowledge is stored at Wolfram Alpha. (Via John August.)

Auto Focus lenses to think about: will these do autofocus on a Panasonic four thirds camera with an adapter?
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM (about $1300 -- the cheaper and slower version is the Canon EF 35/2)

Canon EF 85mm f1.2L USM Mark II (about $2000 -- the cheaper and slower version is the EF 85/1.8 USM)

Here is a list of lens adapters for four thirds cameras.

Thursday, July 02, 2009


I never have understood Keylight. Here's a tutorial on it. He makes it look easy. Hmm.... we'll see...

Speaking of Video Copilot, I just ordered their Action Essentials 2 DVD. I need to start putting muzzle flashes in Clonehunter so I'm gonna need that DVD soon.

I think I gave away my last copy of Blake Snyder's Save the Cat. I gotta get more copies. He's actually going to have a seminar in New York August. I don't know if I'll be shooting then...

Guitar Strings

Cal Arts makes a strong showing here. The Happiest Monster:

I have a big announcement to make, one of vast importance. The "Blattocaster" guitar now has Light Top/Heavy Bottom 10's strings on it. Those are the best playing and the best sounding strings for that guitar. Ethan was right (and of course, he set up that guitar.)

.010 to .052's.

I've been reading some almost good scripts lately.

Life Size Entertainment is a sales rep. They haven't updated their site in quite a while.

I ordered another (smaller) bluescreen from

Oh and please stop sending me idiotic political screeds. I'm really over the secretmuslimimmagrantseverwhereblackhelicoptersblahblahblah.


I guess the crazies are so upset by their being a black President or whatever that they've even gone back to sending me their stupid diatribes. After 9/11 the portion of my own family which would have a tendency to do that has learned not to. But lately I've been getting this emailed crap from other people I know (people who aren't as out-and-out stupid as the stuff they forward would have you believe.)

I used to like InkTip. Heck, I even made a movie off of them. But then Jerrol LeBaron started sending me this stupid political crap. Real namby-pamby 2nd graders in a schoolyard crap. So I may just have to get my account cancelled.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Busying Giddy Minds

Soundcraft has a whole series on mixing on their YouTube channel.

I'm friends with much better directors than me. Chance Shirley's brilliant Interplanetary is getting reviews.

Remembrest thou the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet calculator.


A methodology for using PluralEyes when shooting with the Canon D5.

Right now I'm not seeing much of a down side to the Panasonic GH1 for making movies. It's going to cost me $2K with the batteries and the FD to four thirds adapter (so I can use my Canon S.S.C. lenses). Looks like Adorama and B&H won't have them 'till sometime in July.

We'll still need the Panasonic HVX to shoot slow motion though.

David Latt of the Asylum can't get laid, but he's firmly entrenched in the pop culture world. (Warning: link is to a Sally Forth comic.)