Saturday, January 31, 2009

I Am The Supreme Dictator of the Planet Earth


These are my notes I made during the rehearsal run-through of Universal Robots. You are not interested in reading them. Other than to me, they make no sense whatsoever. Actually, now that I've re-read them, they don't really make all that much sense to me.



Universal Robots
notes
Dvorak 8th

Up through atomic bomb
Add over One on 17
One: "Jo lingers" about 8 seconds
8 seconds seems to be bumper
Last gasp pf the 19th century - animation is 20 seconds

Land squids... With legs...

Radius animation is close to light lock

Act 1 music only during One and play-within-play-within-play
Act 2:
After nancy: scene change
I'm not putting my address on the envelope
Into Avatar program
He just needed more time (and over One)
I don't know about the next "One"/scene change into Jo embrace Radius scene.
Not feelin it for One over transition to hospital.
One resumes story on 86
The Supreme Director of the Earth on page 97
After Sela activates One speaks- music
Isn't Rossum a robot who killed the original Rossums? When she recreates Helena they get "all the icore you need."
10 long and fearful months - One speaks.
"Every year that we tell the story.." One speaks.
Can we say something about robots doing "essential things" in act 1?
Robot assembly line sound? From inside the prison. Not digging putting a sound there. It's going to get irritating but quick.
"When the prayer is concluded." One speaks.
Gunshot "a gunshot" stylized
Gunshot
Gunshot
Radius - "Why would a living creature take its own life?" He already told them to take him to the stamping mill.
"Our mother Josephene" One speaks 25 seconds.
I wish Miss Jo was slightly more immediately motivated to kill Radius. Perhaps he should be more dickish to her. Or have the "heart" speech after she stabs him.
"Robots lower their pants" - One speaks
"The world is yours" One. More than a minute. Not during prayer!
Then curtain call.

Alien Uprising at Arrow in the Head

Arrow in the Head (joblo) has this to say (sorry that the formatting is grey on grey, click on the link to get the original):

Every once and a while there's a badmovie that just makes you smile. I'm talking about a B movie that has no right to be made, but you can't help yourself... you just want to see it. Why? You know it's going to be painful. You know going in that the acting is going to be terrible, the effects even worse, and the overall moviewatching experience will have you wanting to rather spend your time shoveling snow or something. But you just can't help it.

I came across a movie today that struck that chord with me. It's called ALIEN UPRISING and comes from Halcyon International Pictures. Prepare yourself, because this is bad. Just writing a story about this makes my stomach turn, but like I said... I just can't help it.

The movie is unoriginal and screams for suicide, but you should check it out anyway! The official site, found over here, has a poster, synopsis, and trailer available. The poster you can see above and the trailer you can check out right over here. Here's the synopsis:

In the future. Marines land on the prison planet Rove 12 in order to put down a suspected prisoner uprising. When the Marines arrive, they find most of the prisoners and all of the guards dead. Any survivors are hiding from a ruthless, blood thirsty creature. Now the prisoners and the Marines have to band together to get off the planet - ALIVE.

I'm not even going to bother comparing this to the countless movies it resembles. You just go ahead and enjoy that synopsis, poster, and trailer. ALIEN UPRISING is currently in post production so keep an eye out for a release date soon. Think this one has a shot at going theatrical?

Alien Uprising at Dread Central

Here's what Dread Central has to say (I can't get rid of the broken image link, Blogger isn't very good with copy and paste when it comes to html-formatted stuff):

Something Familiar About This Alien Uprising

Something familiar about this Alien UprisingCorrect me if I'm wrong but aren't we mere days away from the start of 2009? Isn't it a little late in the game to be producing blatant knock-offs of the Alien movies? I thought such films had died off about a decade ago. Now Halcyon International Pictures has a film in the pipeline titled Alien Uprising that is positively Alien-a-riffic.

"In the future. Marines land on the prison planet Rove 12 in order to put down a suspected prisoner uprising. When the Marines arrive, they find most of the prisoners and all of the guards dead. Any survivors are hiding from a ruthless, blood thirsty creature. Now the prisoners and the Marines have to band together to get off the planet - ALIVE."

So between the futuristic setting, the space marines, the prison planet, and the slime-drooling extraterrestrial nasty it would seem Alien Uprisingis shoehorning pieces of the first three Alien films all into one convenient cinematic confection. I take back my negativity. I want to see this. Haven't seen a good or bad Alien-esque hodgepodge in a long time. I’m ready to witness the uprising.

You can experience a taste of the Alien Uprising by viewing the teaser trailer Halcyon has on their website (in addition to that indefensibly awful teaser art). I encourage you to give it a look if only to take note of how manyAlien components you can identify in less than 60 seconds.

The Foywonder

Alien Uprising from io9

Tom Rowen found stuff on the Interwebs about Alien Uprising. Although Brian Yuzna was not actually involved in the production (I've never met him), it's nice that we got these writeups! We have to credit Halcyon International Pictures.

Here's what was published by io9

Everything that producer/director Brian "Beyond Re-Animator" Yuzna does is carefully crafted to embody the perfect B-movie. Case in point is his production company Halcyon International's new flickAlien Uprising. This trailer makes the movie so uncannily similar to every other scifi horror movie that it transcends trash to become a kind of apotheosis of genre.

We've got everything here, people: An alien world with a prison, hot babes in cool armor, guns in enclosed spaces, a drooling alien, and a voice over that intones "FEAR THE FUTURE." How can you resist the pull ofAlien Uprising? From his cinematic castle in Spain, Yuzna pumps tons of these flicks out to my endless delight. He directed the late-80s masterpiece Society, going on to do several Re-Animator flicks, a couple of Dentist movies (yes, Corbin Bernson the deadly dentist!), and now his production company fills the world with B-movies the way the tooth fairy fills your pockets with little bloody teeth.

Alien Uprising [via Halcyon International]

Broken Robot Girl

Broken robot girl.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Guitar Friday!

This picture of "Mass/Person" (a production at Manhattan Theatre Source, translated and adapted from Ernst Toller's "Masse Mench" by the Queen of Mars,) was taken by John Watts.

Today is guitar Friday at the Monkey. I love my Les Paul. I do not play it nearly enough.

Erudite ferrets. The opposite of LOLcats.

The following is kitty porn. Don't say I didn't warn ya.




Costs more than $2000, Can't Burn a DVD in iDVD


... if you said "Dual-quad-core Mac" you'd be our new winner!

Yes. "Error rendering asset". That's it. No more.

Well, back to the pre-Intel Mac Mini. The only machine in my studio which can actually make a DVD...

Aretha Hats



Photoshopped Aretha hats.

Me on day after Inauguration: "Hey Maduka, did you see Aretha Franklin's hat?!"

Maduka: "That's not a hat, it's a head wrap."

Me, after looking up "head wrap" on Wikipedia: "Are you sure? It could be a hat."

Maduka: "It's a head wrap."

It's hand molded felt though. "[T]he inauguration was no big deal..." I dunno, I still think it's a hat.
*************

The Columbian Exchange. Yeah, it's weird that before Columbus, Italy didn't have tomatoes.

Conversations With Maduka


There are three desks in the small edit suite Pandora Machine is in. Three of us pay rent -- Blair, Mitchell, and me. For the last year or so I've been sharing my desk with Maduka. We have three computers on that desk. He's been cutting picture and doing visual effects, I've been doing audio and whatever else it is that I do. Frequently we spread out and start taking over Blair's desk. When Blair shows up we run and scurry to get out of his way.

Mitchell, however, just hasn't been around at all. Apparently he has two children and a house on Long Island. So eventually I'm going to have to take over his part of the rent. He told me that he liked the idea of having an office in Manhattan and that I could just set up my computer on his desk and he'd keep paying rent. This is pretty much "win win" except that I get both of the wins. I'm not exactly sure how this could go better for me...

I tell Maduka that we no longer have to sit on top of one another in order to work:

Me: "So I'm going to move my desk over to where Mitch's station was, but he's going to continue paying rent."

Maduka: "You know, when a man starts paying your rent in this town, there are certain... expectations..."

Me: "Well, Mitchell's pretty cute. I think I can handle it."

Maduka: "Which of you is older?"

Me: "I am."

Maduka: "Oh really? That's a first. It's usually the other way around."

*************

As I'm cleaning up I find two bottles of whiskey. One is a full bottle of 12-year-old single-malt scotch, and the other is a bottle of a "Product of Scotland" with just a shot or so left in it.

Me: "You know, we should really just finish this bottle of whiskey."

Maduka: "Most conversations which start like that end badly."


Baby weasel will steal your soul.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Blogging About Dogs and Cameras


Yes, I would move over to shooting on the 5D immediately if they fixed these things. Heck, I'd throw my old Canon S.S.C. prime lenses on the thing (I think I can do that now.) That would give me full manual control of the iris. But the camera simply has to shoot 24p (23.987p) before I get one.

This is Blair's puppydog Tuck.

You Shall Know the Truth in Hell

As it turns out, he will know the truth in Hell. It's Mario Bava.

*************

Alien Uprising goes to the lab tomorrow for output to DigiBeta.

As per Chance Shirley, although I've rendered out some 29.97 files for output, I've found it'll only take a couple hours to render the same pan-and-scan that I built (with Tom Rowen's help)* at 23.98. The lab says that coming out of their Kona card it will look a bit better but few people will notice.

I'm sure they'll notice how fuzzy my image is (in standard def, blown up like that) first.

Finding out the difference between DVCPro and DVCPro50 was a pain. But I found out. And it's a big difference. We want DVCPro50.

The problem is: it's easier to output DVCPro50 at 29.97 than at 23.98 from Final Cut. This is because DVCPro50 is not a default codec for NTSC in the pull down menu when you go to export. Bleh. I bet the difference in the codec will make a much bigger difference than the difference in the frame rate.

You shall know the truth in Hell.

*************

The Year Without Summer.

*************

*I did the "Wow, painting this fence is lots of fun!" thing. He did most all of act 2. And he got to pan-and-scan his own face.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

1K


Welcome to post number 1000.

I don't know if that's a good thing necessarily.

LinuxSampler for Windows is an open source Gigasampler/Gigastudio player for all your Gigasamples. It's a bit of a hassle to install but all of the files are linked to there.

I... don't quite... get it.

Crashing My Computer


Hunter Killer vs Cyberforce sounds like an excellent idea for a picture if the story is good. Maybe I'll have to pick up the comic. I bet that somebody has it in development.

I think this clip below has good music for a shootout. They go for very light percussion during the gunfire and instead do quick descending flute lines (could be synth, could be real flutes, dunno). Speaking of which, I want good free Mellotron flutes.

A manager for deleteing/creating/saving Final Cut Pro preference files -- Digital Rebellion's Preference Manager. They also make an app called Compressor Repair.

You realize that I only know this because FCP crashed during the night. Oddly, it only took out one render from Compressor as it did so. It seems to have partially re-launched FCP and is working on the next render. Interesting. We'll see what happens.

Google has an offline version of their webmail in "labs". We'll see how that is as a backup for Gmail.

We have just under 130000 frames in the movie. We're rendering RS422 at about 80 frames a minute. That gives us a little more than a day to render out this one version. I bet the DVCPro HD would have been faster if it hadn't crashed. Phoo...*

Alaska: The Satchel Boy from John August on Vimeo.



*Update: guess what render crashed? Hooray!

Another freeware Mellotron emulator, Tapeworm v2.0.

Posting More Redheads


A discussion about codecs. Well, a bit of instruction about codecs. Very relevant to my life. Right now.

Interestingly, I've kinda given up. We're just going to render out (export in Compressor) to DVCPro HD and to RS 422 (HQ) and see which we like better. We crash Final Cut way too much when we nest sequences within other sequences.

When I say "interestingly" what I mean is "not interesting at all."

I'm continuing to post redheads until I run out. I do it to anger the Commonwealth. This is America, dammit. Send us your oppressed redheads. We will love them for you.

This is a painting by the famous anti-semite Degas. Does "semite" have a capital "s"? Whenever anyone talks about the Dreyfus Affair I always think of Richard Dreyfus(s) and then logically about Jaws and how silly the shark looked when it ate Quinn and then I get all confused about French history and whether Amity Island is the same as the Amityville Horror and how could a shark get in the house anyway? And wait, the shark was Jewish? Are sharks even Kosher? Degas could paint but he was a bit of a jerktard. Understandably, this makes my head hurt and I have to lie down.

*************

We now know how to reliably crash Final Cut Pro. Oh boy do we. Nowadays, all it takes is trying to render the timeline of the feature for more than about 30 minutes. We can get "The application Final Cut Pro unexpectedly quit" as well as just a freeze up. So we have to keep rendering in tiny pieces to rid us of the "red line". Thanks Apple!

Harptallica. Metallica covers on the harp.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Done and Dunner

Well we're finished with Alien Uprising today. We, of course, thought we were finished yesterday but I came in to make the pan-and-scan version and decided that I had some problems with audio things in the first act so I spent a couple hours fixing them and then Maduka came in and wanted to change a couple things so we're about 12 hours behind the schedule I put on our calendar.

12 hours behind on the delivery of a feature ain't bad.

We have a lot of clerical work to do.

And I still have to make the pan-and-scan version of the movie. We've been having some technical trouble with creating that because it's hard to take the HD 24p (really 23.98) footage and get it into a regular old 29.97 standard - def television sequence.

So I said "forget it" and we're going to take another compression hit with the picture and render out the HD footage and then bring it into a new "intermediary" project to make the files which the lab will get.

Medium Large:

What lies beneath the packing peanuts:

Fun Night




Yet another fun night of theater at Manhattan Theatre Source.

Three of the playwrights in the "InGenious" festival "Program B" series of one-acts are friends of mine.

The one who refuses to be named on this blog
translated and adapted Ernst Toller's "Masse Mench".

Vincent Marano and Ed Malin wrote plays based on Degas and Buddah. In that order.

And that's what I did today.

Oh, right, we finished Alien Uprising. There's still a bit of clerical work to do and we have to run some renders but now it's all just technical. To celebrate, Maduka left the edit suite. We haven't seen him since.

Maduka was born in Oxford, UK. So for him -- more redheads! (And R2.)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Kitty Cam II

OK, that's it. I'm not doing any work ever again.


Streaming Video by Ustream.TV

Kitty Cam II. Yeah.

(What happened to Kitty cam I... I wonder...

Untitleable

I don't usually blog about actual personal stuff. Blogging for me is a notebook -- a codex of all the stuff I find which I want to write down, but which is public.

But this is so important that I know there are some friends who haven't heard the good news. My dad has been suffering with esophageal cancer since August. But he's gone through chemo and radiation, and 12 days in the hospital for dehydration right around Thanksgiving, and has now been tested and tested again in the last week or so and is completely cancer-free.

Whew.

The level of relief for our whole family has been tremendous.

So many people have been so supportive, so many friends who are going through similar things have been so helpful to talk to, and it's just so wonderful to have this news that I can't even write a coherent sentence about it.

Idle


The official blog for the 2009 production of Universal Robots, which is a brilliant play I'm working on as a sound designer, if I can ever get the director to tell me what of the dozens of cues I've sent her are ones she's actually interested in using.




Look, I had no idea. How did I miss this? Alive in Joburg.

It's an alien apartheid short which was shot documentary style. There's plenty o' cgi in it but they were helped by the relatively low resolution of the picture. In any case, it's thought that the upcoming sci-fi flick District 9 is either the film version of Halo or Alive in Joburg. Is it worthwhile to make a Cops-style feature about aliens?

You bet it is! That sounds like mockbuster material!

If you're from the British isle of Jersey you apparently are a British Citizen but -- get this -- not necessarily an EU citizen. 


Wow. I am so idling right now. I wonder if Maduka has finished the movie? I told him not to stay up all night...

The British are just messing with us



OK, I finally figured out that whole thing I have about the British. I've decided that the British are pulling one over on us. You'd think that the "manifesto" page on a website called "Red and Proud" would be something vastly different. But it's not.

Julie Andrews broke my heart when I was very young. She never called. She never just stopped by to hang out. She never asked Drew if he wanted to play. Not even once.

And really, if you see her, tell her that I'm not even blaming the British in general or her in particular for what I've finally decided is the world's most bonkers issue about a given State. That's right. The Crown Dependencies

OK, so here in the US you go to school for a couple years and then you take a test and become a lawyer. How freakin' long do you have to go to school in the UK before you can even begin to comprehend the Crown Dependencies? And c'mon, "baliwick"? Really?

The whole thing is like if Staten Island decided it was its own country... sort of. They could print their own money. The Who would play there. But Obama was still their King. Or something like that. See? It doesn't even make sense! Why are The Who playing on Staten Island? Shouldn't Staten Island really be part of New Jersey? And speaking of Jersey -- what if we had our own banking system but it wasn't FDIC insured? And then people who banked there just lost all their money? What would happen then?
They'd blame beautiful seductive redheads, of course. 

Would you take your debts to the Queen and say "Yo, pay up!"? 

And these... these.. baliwicks -- they're not even members of the EU and although most of the time the UK does their negotiating with soverign states (which seems to mostly be France) sometimes they have to do their own negotiating for themselves just like big boys and girls.



OK the thing that I do not, can not, understand is the relationship between the Army and the people who live in, say, the ile of Jersey. Can you join the army if you're from Jersey? You're not in the commonwealth and the Army isn't part of the Crown. You could join up with the Royal Navy presumably.

But like Prince Harry, you'll be harassed for being a redhead by your troops. (I'm pretty sure that just one word from him and those guys would be beheaded, right? Yeah, that's how it works. I'm pretty sure.)

I don't even want an answer. I just want to know that someone understands this. That's all I need to know. . . Somebody does... right?

Here's a funny quote: "In 1939, South Africa and Canada declared war a few days after the UK did, so that George VI, as king of all three countries, was, for a few days, simultaneously at war and at peace with Germany." Which, of course, sounds like my dates.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Cute with Chris


Apparently I'm one of the three straight male readers of Cute with Chris.

This cat is beautiful.

Rida the Caregiver


Today I thought I'd blog about Batman. Or the English (which we're allowed to make fun of because everyone loves them and they aren't oppressed). Or California (which we're allowed to make fun of because they're California). But I decided not to.

So instead: a font which isn't Trajan.

I laughed out loud in the subway today when I saw the "Rida the Caregiver" poster.

Today we were going to do the commentary track. And then this morning I found this note on a sticky on my desk:

Suggested Commentary --
"poop"


Yeah, I have no idea. I don't even recognize the handwriting.

Smartpants the movie. Robots playing Paper Rock Scissors.

Commentary Day

Today is take the parents out for Moroccan food day.

I am trying to read The Watchmen. I really cannot read comic books. There are sections of Watchmen which is simply prose and when I get to those my wee little brain is all "Oh thank the Lord." because I can get through it. And luckily for me, unlike the Battle Angel Alieta series, there isn't much action so I don't have that "What the hell is going on?" feeling as much. Still -- what the hell is going on?

I'll probably like the movie better. The premise is certainly quite on the cool side.

Reading comics for me is likely to be like what watching movies is for my dad. He just doesn't get them. He can go to plays. He can read epic poems. Ballet, concerts, no problem. Movies? He just can't figure them out. My stepmom and I took him with us to see The Sixth Sense once. The dinner conversation finally came to my dad asking "So wait, he was dead?"

For him, watching a movie is like watching fish in a fishbowl. Which of course, if he were watching The Dark Knight, it would be. Hee! See what I did there?

In any case, today is commentary day. Although I have to stay away from the studio because Maduka is finishing up visual effects and he thinks my visual effects works sucks.*

The image here is part of a theme which involves Miro and my next album but I'm not coherent enough about it yet to explain it.

*He's right.

Why Californians Are Dumber Than Regular People




It's sad. Sad but true. Californians are dumber than regular people. And I'm not just talking about Proposition 8 or their tendency to elect B movie actors as governor (although either of those things would suffice as ample evidence for a "Californians are dumber" argument).

No. What I'm talking about is the mindless xenophobia toward Mexicans.

I stipulate the following: hands down the most stunningly beautiful people in California are Mexican.

It's like Aztec-princess-ville. And yet the Californians are all "Proposition 187" and "Save our State" and blah-blah-blah.

And why?

Well it's obvious. Californians are dumber than regular people.

"Please please don't let the beautiful people who actually look good in the daylight come here!" they scream.

Californians. It's a wonder they haven't all died off, wondering if rocks are edible.

Overall, California is divided into two types of people. Those who secretly know that New York is cooler, but are afraid of it because there is weather in New York; and those who hate everyone and everything, wish they had more guns, and live in Orange County. Then there's the fact that those who live in the northern part of the state refuse to admit they're in the same state as those who live in the southern part. If you're from San Francisco you can tell people you're going to New York, but if you tell anyone you're going to Los Angeles they say "What? Where's that?"

Plus, they think their food is better. It's not. For a (long) while (when anyone in America who didn't overcook their vegetables was considered a gourmet) San Fransisco acted as a beacon of hope for those Americans who wanted this thing called "flavor" in their food. Those days have, however, come and gone (unless you still live in the South.) If you want flavor you can go to a Vietnamese sandwich place in Minneapolis.

*************

Hmm... what is it that's making me so obnoxious? I have no idea.

British Are Dumber than We (Sorry)


Today, drunk, I am going to increase my popularity (with the Irish.) Plus, I'm feelin' patriotic. Why? Because my President is better than any of your Presidents (or Prime Ministers, or sticks in the sand or what-have-you.) Now it's always been true that my President could beat up your President. But we're not on the schoolyard anymore. Now it's time to show you who is mutherscratchin' cool. And that's my President. Of the United Stizzy. 

We were looking pretty low there for a while, what with chimpy McFlightsuit running around. But now we're back. It's like we got the President which Lincoln and Kennedy wished they were. 44. His game is on. 

************

Anyway, here's the gist of this whole thing:

The British. They're just dumber than regular people, right? That's what I thought.

I have two proofs.

1. Why would they be prejudiced against redheads? That's like saying "I hate girls with green eyes because they're so beautiful." With the British though, they have to be racist against... people who aren't even another race. That's like being clinically insane most places. In Britain, though, it's just what people do.

You redheads from Britain: you're sick of the crap you get in Britain? Just come here. Americans think you're sexy. Because you are. Here you'll be called a "redhead" and everyone will be charmed by your accent. Being called a "ginger" is just stupid (so is cockney rhyming slang but that's a whole new order of stupid I don't have time to go into.)

2. The British don't even know the name of their own country. We've proved this before. It's still true. Stop looking at your passports to find out, you already lose. Move to somewhere that's simpler to say. Like "Luxembourg". Or "Lesser Antilles." If you're just not smart enough to know the name of your country then I'm not going to tell you. Plus you were totally lapdogs under Bush the II. And that was dumb on top of dumb.

The British, of course, who live in America (and their families still in that place where they hate you because of the color of your hair) are perfectly lovely and smart and charming people. As ex-pats often are the most interesting people in the room. But that's another story.

*************

Now for all the Irish who were amused by the above, but who like comic books. I must alienate you at this time:

I'm one of those people who thinks that the Batman movie The Dark Night was, well, crap. Now I can argue that the movie:

  1. had completely unmotivated characters (warning -- spoilers) because of things like
  • a. The Joker. He of course was deliberately unmotivated, the movie says he does things just to do them. OK. I'll take that for one of the characters.
  • b. Two-Face. Now get this: The Joker kills Two-Face's girlfriend (and burns half his face off) leaving him in pain and misery (but giving him a good super-villan nickname). So what is Two-Face's response? Not to kill the Joker (even when the Joker hands Two-Face a freakin' gun and puts it to The Joker's head.) No. He wants to -- now get this -- kill the children of the guy who mistakenly put The Joker's henchmen in charge of protecting his girlfriend. What? That's not motivation. That's "Oh, but if he kills the Joker then the movie is over and he can't fight Batman for no reason whatsoever." Bleh, I say.
  • And the whole city turns against Batman for no reason because... well because it makes Batman seem more heroic as a character or whatever.
These characters do what they do because it's what keeps the movie going forward. It has zero to do with what any characters would actually do. This is why I like Frankenheimer and you like Batman. 

OK. I get that. You like unmotivated characters. Or you like to think the characters were super motivated and I somehow just don't understand. Fine. Everybody's got their opinion. I'll live with that.

But now I've seen some people talk about how "great" the movie looks. I'm sorry. There is no argument to support that at all. The movie looked like crap. If you think it looked good then you are wrong. Definitively and absolutely wrong. There is no argument that it looked good. 

How do I know? How did we cross from subjective and into objective analysis? 

This is how:

The movie was not in focus.

I'll say that again in case you missed it.

The movie.

Was not.

In focus.

And when I say "in focus" I don't mean something subtle about the characters maintaining any kind of consistent blah - blah or the story retaining its wah-wah-wah. I'm talking about the knob which is on the left side of the camera NEEDED TO BE TURNED TO THE FREAKIN' LEFT.

The knob.

On the camera.

Was in the wrong place.

Sure, it's hard. And shooting in IMAX is probably a pain in the ass because you can be a hundred feet away from your subject shooting at f16 with a 28mm lens and STILL you only have three-and-a-half millimeters of depth of field but still...


Not in focus = doesn't look good. There are episodes of Law and Order which have better focus. Hell, my last movie had better focus and I was 8 days into it before I realized my back-focus was off. 

Your Batman. He is unmotivated. His focus puller didn't not have accurate marks. That's probably not his fault. It's yours Batman. 

*************

Mixing hi-def and low def images to create hi-def relatively cheaply (if impracticably).

*************

I might need a Mellosoft Mellotron emulator. This one is free and a VST instrument.

************

You might be wondering "Why is Drew being so obnoxious?" He doesn't know. His life has been going pretty well lately...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Leverage


I finally saw an episode of Leverage. I saw the plane one. I'd seen some complaints about Leverage being cheesy. Complaints directed at the writers. Those complaints are entirely wrong. So say I. So say we all.

I like the show. But I see what people might be talking about as far as "cheesy". However, it's not with the writing or the shooting, or the editing, or the acting.

The entire tonal problem with the show is the music. The dialog and the performances are spot on. On a show like that though, the music must comment very seriously on the picture. But somebody decided that on Leverage the music would be tongue in cheek. I think that was a mistake.

With, for instance, the Oceans 11 (12, 13) movies, they went for that sorta 60's hip but they did it seriously, not campy. It's something of a fine line to walk but it's a real line. The super-example of this kind of music -- the hipster spy action genre -- is of course Mission Impossible.

Many years ago I read a book on music for film which influenced me because just about everything the author said was wrong. He was of the "Stanley Kubric is evil/ the movie should serve the music/Westerns should be scored with 12-tone" school.* He railed on and on about how horrible the music choices in 2001, and The Graduate, and Mission Impossible (the TV series), were.** I can't remember the name of the book or the author but obviously he was a bozo with an axe to grind and completely unable to see the forest-for-the-leaves as far as music and picture went.

Mission Impossible's music track (other than their very famous theme) was primarily percussion. Percussion! Now that's brilliant.

One of the smartest things ever said to me about composing for film came from Jonathan Newman who said "Make sure there's a groove." Yes, that's important. It's easy to write and record, which is one reason why film composers do it, but it also makes a scene move along much better.

Now the think about music for picture (or for stage for that matter) is that it frequently doesn't work as music. In other words, it doesn't stand-alone very well. But that's OK -- because you have the picture. It seems it's taken film composers a long time to collectively learn that.

And that all brings me to another specific problem with the music cues (or at least the ones I was paying attention to) in Leverage: there were melody lines over dialog.

For most intents and purposes your dialog is the melody. Good film music frequently sounds like there's a big hole cut in the middle of it. There's no melody line. That's because the frequencies you'd use for the melody are right where the dialog is. And if you are going to choose whether you're going to hear the melody or the dialog -- guess which the mixer for a show for network broadcast is going to choose.

So the music in Leverage is mixed fairly low in order to not compete with dialog. And the music being so quiet diminishes the intensity of the action by a shockingly large amount.***

They have the groove thing down. They just need grooves which are 1. serious and 2. melody-free.

So say I. So say we all.

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All this being said, my musical analysis of my own movies really really sucks. I just can't figure out what to do when I'm looking at my own picture which I've been working on for months. I really really shouldn't be composing for my own movies.

Somebody please stop me by doing the work for me. For free.

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All you need to know from this article in the New York Times is that "the men's minds and genitals were in agreement."

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Can you tell that I'm not allowed to work on the picture portion of the movie right now?**** And that I'm waiting for visual effects to come in? And that I'm done with the 5.0 music and effects mixes and have rolled off the full 5.0 mixes as well as the stereo full mixes and M&E mixes? And finished the pan-and-scan version of the movie.

Can you tell?

Hey, at least I'm not on an extended rant about Nader.

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Kitty from. Via Cukisag.

*Ergo, an idiot.
**I mean, a big freakin' idiot.
***The music sounds very music-library to me. But the composer has been around for a long time, started on Evil Dead. Odd...
****Picture editor has a shotgun.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Fly, Monkey, and Bunnies


An open letter from Doc Brown to Marty McFly.

Today is Guitar Friday at the Monkey.

Spec Me




Yes, these are actually my notes for today.

Google Apps competitors:

Zoho

Yahoo's Zimbra

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The important specs for Alien Uprising as far as we're concerned include:

We're creating NTSC DVCpro50 standard-def files for the purpose of output to DigiBeta.

Min. 30 seconds of Bars and Tone followed by slate.
• Slate to list Title, Running Time, Audio Specs, textless footage any additional footage noted with specific timecodes (, music video, trailer, etc).
• Begin feature at time code 01:00:00

Don't exceed 100 IRE with setup at 7.5 IRE

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Because you want to see the Barbarella open title sequence. (Via DisContent.)

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Obama lifts funding ban for groups which provide abortion services abroad. In late 1999 I argued with someone who voted for Nader that Bush was going to ban funding for such groups. She said "No, no, Bush has been running as a moderate."

So thanks a lot, Nader voters. And shutup "Greens". You gave us Bush. You don't even make any sense (the argument on this web page is un-followable.) The fact is that there were more votes for Nader in Florida than the difference between Gore's and Bush's votes. And for that, we got 8 years of torture, reduced funding for family planning overseas, endless war, a beat-to-hell economy, and post-Katrina New Orleans.* Your arguments that the Democrats and the Republicans are "exactly the same" is simply idiotic. Between you idiots and the Religious Right unspeakable evil has occured. So just shut the hell up.

Furthermore, for those of you playing along at home, we don't have proportional representation in the US.

Wow. That's a lot of irritation I just got off my chest.

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An article on deal memos. It's primarily aimed at mixers for movies (that is, the person who records dialog on set for movies.)

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*And remember, those things are just the tip of the iceberg.

Veteran Fabricator


My dad is all over the new issue of Fabricator magazine. For those of you who don't already subscribe to Fabricator, here's a link to the online edition.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Darth is going Down


While rendering, I went and googled myself and found a good review of Millennium Crisis.* Our distributor for Millennium Crisis did a good job of getting the picture out to reviewers.

Here's a site which tracks Obama's campaign promises.

Yes, that's an Obama doll. I don't understand it either. But Darth doesn't stand a chance.

*The review actually says the movie isn't good, but it's a good review nonetheless.

NIFFF


We're off the hook for textless elements (for now) on Alien Uprising. That was only slightly a problem. We don't have a front-title credit sequence and most of our text is just white text on black background. But matching the timecode would have been a hassle. Of course, for our PAL delivery we're still going to put the textless at the end -- even if the timecode doesn't match.

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Now I have to figure out what codec we're going to render the flattened FCP files to for output to DigiBeta.

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Notice that there are no best pies in Greenwich Village. That is a crime. A crime, I tell ya. That being said, I may in fact be secretly in love with Emily Isaac of Trois Pommes Patisserie. Don't tell her!

She makes the best jelly doughnuts.

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The order just came down to shut down CIA prisons, Guantanamo, and the use of torture. So to all the Nader-voting, whiny Left: shut the hell up. Thank you.

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Just a reminder, the deadline for the Neuch√Ętel International Fantastic Film Festival is May 22.

Getting My Money's Worth


With this President, I already have.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Oh, 30K

So this blog has had over 30,000 hits on it. I think half of those were from people looking for nude pictures of Milla Jovavitch. Have fun finding them!

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Some days I really don't know how to mix. Mixing movies is weird because most broadcast standards insist that the levels never go above -12dB (fs) which is, well, 12 decibels lower than the computer says they can go. So you lose a bunch of signal-to-noise ratio.

So I have limiters on all 5 outputs of my surround mix situation.

At the same time the dialog should be "averaging" about -20dB. I have no idea how to actually measure that. It's silly. It's a standard called "dialnorm" which nobody can really define.

And then, because of our little edit suite being the way it is, I end up mixing on headphones. That part sucks. I've mixed a lot of things on headphones (when I used to do corporate broadcast work) and even if you could get used to it, it still sucks. You end up hearing too much detail and you just get a wrong wrong wrong idea of what things sound like. Plus, normally, the low-end is somewhere odd.

Furthermore, I mix in 5.0 but to the two speakers in headphones (I usually put the "center" channel on the left side of the 'phones) and then render out the 5 channels of the mix; only to bring those 5 tracks back into a new project and mix them down to stereo (I double the center channel so it appears 6 dB louder.)

At least the dialog is clear when I do that. But I wish I could get the hyperspace jump to sound better. I'm still working on it.

Other than that, we in the home stretch of Alien Uprising. The contracts and the incredible amount of paperwork (which is primarily so the distributor can cover his butt legally for the buyer) have been partially done, but there's plenty more to do.

As I've said before, this movie was the easiest of ours to shoot. Mostly because the script by Josh James was so good. Everyone knew in each scene what needed to be done -- we just had to point lights at them. Sure, that's a bit of hyperbole, but it sure felt that way.

Maduka's done some very nice and creative things in the edit. In fact, I'm looking over his shoulder right now and he's way over-thinking a transition. That's good, actually.

I figure that if our big problems are coming out of hyperspace, we're in fairly good shape to have the movie off to the lab by next week.

We have mixes for all four acts. We have an appropriate running time. I'm not really irritated with the movie. That's pretty much all we need.

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Hey, what web short cost $25000 to shoot over 3 days? What on earth did they spend the money on? Not making it look good, that's for sure. They had 15 non-actors on set. Unfortunately, not one of those people was a painter. The idea is pretty good, and the performances are adequate. But you wanna see some flat white walls? We got 'em:


The Remnants from John August on Vimeo.

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That being said, John August is writing the film version of The Preacher. If I weren't so deathly afraid of shooting another Western again I'd say we should do a mockbuster of it. (Those distributors, they hate them some Westerns.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Notes of Sundrytude

Oh man, this is a part of the PA Turnpike which is 1. abandoned and 2. close to where my sister lives. Tell me we're not shooting part of our zombie post- apocalypse picture there!

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They sent me the 1. wrong size in the 2. wrong color (but that's OK because they were also) 3. the wrong model:
piratemerch.com
2809 NE Martin Luther King Blvd.
Portland, OR 97212
20609639364

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Somewhere a computer might be saying this: "Uncharted planet is M class atmosphere nitrogen 780,840 ppmv oxygen 209,460 ppmv argon 9,340 ppmv carbon dioxide 383 ppmv neon 18.18 ppmv helium 5.24 ppmv methane 1.745 ppmv".

Backing Up Blogger


Living, as I do, in continual fear that Google will suspend its service (or just suspend my service), I've been looking at various methods with which to back up. I'm playing with BlogBackupr right now. (There's a Blogger Backup app but it doesn't yet backup images. It's all about backing up the images.)

We'll see how that goes.

Do I need a cookie? I might need a cookie.

Happy Birthday Jean!


Today is my sister's birthday. To celebrate, we had a big party in Washington.

Aretha Franklin sang.

And wore this hat.

Happy Birthday!