Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The end of June

In fabulous St. Albans Vermont, in a hotel a bit seedier than I thought the $100/night would have gotten me.

Thinking about getting Beauty Box.

My sister is making buttons for the reunion. Shirts are in the trunk.

The House of Humor is our favorite wig store. It's in California.

I slammed through a first mix of act 2 of Day 2 in only two days. That's pretty good. is a huge help. I put some of our own sounds up for others to use. Check out the sounds from user Pushkin.

Leaving for Quebec, Quebec

Apparently it's not Quebec City, but rather just Quebec. In, er, Quebec. You know, Canada.

I offer this family reunion my sobriety. In that I don't plan to be terribly sober during it. And I expect my cousins to do their part in helping me make this sacrifice. And knowing them, they will.
Finally got the temperature down (by ten degrees!) in our studio. Good grief that was a mess. Of course, the weather broke so that likely helped. But also a crash course in thermodynamics (as practiced) has brought us through a Journey of Discovery wherein we found we have to put the big fan outside the door.
Tyrannosaurus Mouse rehearsed. We're starting a new song -- which is actually an old Prague Spring song called "One Last Drink". Tyrannosaurus Mouse does weird things to songs. Or at least the Mouse does things I wouldn't expect.
But tomorrow must cart sister, ma, and pa, to St. Alban's Vermont as the first leg of our Great Journey.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

P 2K

Welcome to the 2000th ill-conceived, badly-researched, possibly written under-duress, post on this blog.

So really, don't even read this because at a really fundamental level I have no idea what I'm talking about.

On the other hand, if you would like to look inside my wee brain and see how I try to think, this is pretty well the way I take notes. Yup. This blog will be used at my psychiatric hearings when the insect overlords demand trials for miscreants.


You know, I get endless fun teasing the Great British about 1. their bad attitudes toward red-heads, and 2. their relationship to the crown dependencies. I mean, it's possible to be from a Channel Island and not be a British citizen (or is that not true anymore? It's possible you're not a member of the EU, that's for sure).

Anyway, understanding Crown Dependencies will give you a permanent headache. So I'm not going to try anymore. Well, between that and the fact that it's more amusing for me to make fun of my own hypocrisy because here in America, we have a similar weirdness. Although ours has a much darker past.

Tribal Sovereignty.

Yep, we have sovereign nations inside the United States. They are... in some ways... er... granted more rights... um... than states... but... uh...

And this is where I realize I can't possibly casually do enough research to have even the slightest idea what I'm talking about.

Yeah. It's incredibly confusing. Pretend I'm saying all kinds of insightful and erudite things about this whole subject. The American Constitution reserved for Congress the right to negotiate with American Indian tribes directly. As far as I know. So although the tribes were beaten up and mostly moved to the worst pieces of land we had for them, and although they kind of have to do whatever the US government tells them to do, they also have the right to do whatever they want as far as not having to pay attention to the local State government(s) that surrounds them.

That's why Indian nations are allowed to have casinos. Again, as far as I can figure out. There's no federal law banning gambling. There are plenty o' state laws banning gambling but they just don't apply to Indian land. If it weren't for federal drug laws I'd be seeing my way to an Indian coffee house right about now...

The relationship between Indian law and the rest of US Law is also... complicated. As far as I can tell, for the most part criminal law is handled by the states. Unless it's handled by the federal government. And all American Indians (apparently, according to Wikipedia -- in an article which I have since closed on my browser -- most native Americans prefer the term "American Indian") are indeed US citizens.

No wonder Kagan couldn't find a lawyer to specialize in this stuff...

Monday, June 28, 2010


So I'm on this jag of reading Moe Prager mysteries by Reed Farrel Coleman. And I get the book Redemption Street out of the library...

Peter Spiegelman writes about his own tastes regarding detective fiction in the foreward: "I draw the line at crime-busting vampires and talking cats".

And all I can think is:

I draw the line at crime-busting vampires and talking cats too.

The starting line.


Extra Crazy Cheese

The Big News is that my Les Paul is being a pain in the tuchus. It's at 30th Street Guitars right now and they're doing a fret-crowning-and-polishing job on it to make the frets more better. OK, I'll admit, I don't really understand what they're doing. But it should make the high F# on the E1 string better and also the first four or five frets on the E6 string better and maybe better other places too.

Problem with Gibson is that they cut a LOT of corners when making their guitars. But a few hundred dollars later with a good luthier and you've got a decent guitar.

Day 2
Now 'tis time to prepare ye for the DM&E's. This is, as far as I know, the thing which most filmmakers* hate the most. I have a scene where Tom Rowen is shaking paint cans to see if there are any worth huffing, while delivering dialog. So of course there's a can shake over a bit of his actual dialog.

Rather than ridding ourselves of the original dialog and having him ADR the take so that the dialog is clean, I've gone and found another of his can shakes -- from elsewhere in the take -- which has no dialog o'er it (neither his, anybody else, or the idiot director yelling while he shakes it.) So I'll just add this clean sound to his production dialog and then when we mute his dialog there's still the sound of the can being shook.

That's been the way I've preferred to deal with scrapes, scuffs, and such, during dialog. Anytime we shoot in my dad's shop (what has greasy and grimy concrete floors) I have a world of those kinds of sounds to deal with. Any my typical response is to make 'em louder.

And for some reason the pacing on this movie is easier than any of our previous pictures. For some reason I was able to get through my first swipe at dialog, music, and effects on (ten-minute long) reel 2 in only two and a half days.

There will be future cleanups and notes and such but that's pretty good.
I had dinner the other night with Maduka, Greg Bodine, Nat Cassidy, and the Queen of Mars. All the sexiest people at Theatresource (plus me). Nat's all kingly in Hank 6 Part 3. And he's in a podcast 'bout it. Maduka just did a reading at 59 E 59th, which I totally missed. And Greg is collecting a lot of guns. A lot of guns. I don't know why...
*Those that get distribution, at least.


This fire actually happened in my apartment building last year. And I didn't even know about it.

Glad nobody got hurt.

Yay Me

We're blasting fans like crazy around here in order to keep it cool enough for hard drives. And we've gone to all kinds of effort to make sure that nothing is on which shouldn't be on -- normally a person in our shop will run more than one computer -- doing one thing with one, something else in the background on another. But not this summer, no way. The only computer on is the one in front of you. The only drives turned on are the ones you're working from. If we put some red lights in here we could pretend we're in a submarine.
Mostly, a new post all about moi! I am "utterly shameless or utterly clueless".

For the record, I object to the word "or" there. "And". "And" is the word.

I do hope Nancy publishes the email exchange. That would be super-awesome.

--UPDATE-- She did! (Go ahead and click on the link. Just make sure you wipe off the crazy afterwards.)
I guess that it takes roughly a week to do about 20 minutes of dialog, music, and effects editing (creation) and mixing. That's my guess. So it'll take about 4 weeks of me working full-time just on that. I expect Day 2 to be finished sometime long about August. Of course, we haven't heard about any sales of the picture yet, and when we do it'll be an emergency and we'll have to get the movie finished in a vastly foreshortened amount of time. But that's just how things are.
By popular request, the calendar for Earthkiller. Allegedly we start shooting on July 17th.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Guitar... Monday

You'll recall this blog essentially acts as my notebook on the Internet. Sort of an advanced, yet not-quite-as-useful "bookmarks".

Is there some rule about not blogging when you're drunk? But Vinnie gave me some limoncello and... well you know how it goes.

Because this post will otherwise bore my friend Ed McNamee I've included a picture of a naked girl on a lion with the explicit intent of amusing Ed.

Now, onto the boring part of this post.

Trinity amps makes an AC15 clone head for $1250.
Vox makes a very flexible head of their AC30 for $1300. The trouble with Vox is apparently their quality control is pretty miserable.
For $500 Vox also makes the 15-watt "Night Train" which will switch between pentode and triode modes. Fargen makes a mod kit for the Night Train for the low, low price of... infinity dollars. Actually, I have no idea how much the mod kit is because I don't see anyone selling it.
Fargen also makes the AC Duo-Tone for $1500.
Trinity makes their TC15 which even comes in a kit form for $380 without tubes or transformers.

Spoiler Alert

Treasure Island. Ending will be revealed here. Ye have been warned.

I always find it funny when I read some famous book I ain't never read before, like say "Treasure Island", to find "Hey, this is a pretty good book!"

I'll admit there were some passages which were thoroughly incomprehensible to me. There may as well be a passage which reads "The nay da'k fo'c's'kend the black-lace fool and you can lay to it, I say. And we all knew what he meant." But I have no idea.

The character of John Silver is a weird one. He kills honest men in cold blood. But we, and the characters, find it hard to hate him. The only guy we really want to go down is a fellow by the name of Israel Hands. I had to re-read the paragraph where it happened about four times but he gets shot in the head. By Jim, no less.

And I didn't understand what they were saying about John Silver's wife the first time the characters mentioned it, but the narrator brings up again right at the end of the book that she is a "negress". Of course, in modern American politics, our way of looking back at the time period of the book could make that a very interesting detail about John Silver (we never meet her, the only woman in the book is Jim's mother).

The thing which surprised me the most is that John Silver gets away. This book would be totally "pre-code" if it were a movie. But he's a bad'un who done wicked things, and yet he steals three or four hundred guineas and escapes in... what is modern-day Georgia (I think). Four hundred guineas -- that's what, the equivalent of about $20,000?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Make the Invaders Wish They'd Never Heard of the Planet Earth

It's time to make the invaders wish they'd never heard of the planet Earth.

That's so the tag line of our next movie.

(The same comic is produced here twice -- once bigly and once not-so-bigly.)


Started mixing act 2 of Day 2. Well, started the dialog, music, and effects edits anyway. This movie has a lot of different and specific elements. There's this whole thing where there are voices in the protagonist's head. And then there are zombies. And then there are these giant whirley monster robots.

Act 2 has every one of those things.

Plus music. I'm doing a bit of adding Video Copilot scores to some stuff I'm making up on the fly through the trusty Roland JV1080. Lucky for me when my friend Ed McNamee originally bought the Roland, he got the classical expansion pack with it. That JV1080 has got to be 20 years old at this point but it has some very usable sounds in it. I keep seeing film composers list them in their studios.

I'm not entirely sure I'll be able to keep up doing the whole score myself without getting really irritated with the process, but it's the quickest way to go, that's for sure.

Protagonist Suffers the Most

Because of the damned heat, I've installed Speed Fan on my computers. And... another program on the Mac.

John August has a post: The protagonist is the character that suffers the most.

I can dig it.

Wanna see some scary pictures? (Really, don't look if you don't want to.)

Magnum Edit Detector, the script that takes footage and splits it automatically onto different layers in an AfterEffects project, has an update.

The new beta of PluralEyes is out. I've never gotten PluralEyes to work on our system but lots of people presumably have. PluralEyes automatically syncs double/single-system audio (like audio from the camera's yukkity built-in microphone and the good audio your sound person got.)

How Did Paul Volker End Up On the Left?

No, seriously. When did this happen?

Paul Volker is now Obama's economic advisor. And the Volker Rule caps banks being able to do... something.

You gotta remember that Volker was Reagan's Fed Chairman. Although he always seemed independent of Reagan (didn't he at one point say something like "We're the only anti-inflationary game in town*"?) he was most famous as an anti-deficit crusader and...

Oh. Right.

Here's a little history lesson for you youngins. Back in the day, in the 1980's, before REM but after Soft Cell, Paul Volker was the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States of America. At the time one might bon mot that he was the second most powerful man in the world, or maybe the most. In that dark and distant past I may have briefly fancied that I'd major in economics, or cultural anthropology, or drop out of school and form a rock band (I'll let you guess which one of those things I actually did).

Now at the time, Reagan-esque Republicans liked to bash Democrats with the "reduce the federal deficit!" line. "We can't afford it, it's irresponsible! Yada blah blah". The Nation properly construed this line of rhetoric to mean "take away all social services and fund the military like crazy", which is largely what Reagan did -- running the deficit up to unprecedented heights while somehow (and, at the time, effectively) blaming the Democrats for the deficit.

Then a fellow named William Jefferson Clinton won the presidency and actually lowered the deficit in that 1990's run when Internet millions were to be had and life was good and money plentiful.

So then came the Big Reversal with George W. Bush. In the 2000's deficit-reduction became a big no-no in the Republican party. Because, um, I guess because that's what the Democrats were doing under Clinton. Which is just the awesomest way to make policy. Reminds me of Theatresource in a way. But anyway -- I forget -- was it Paulson or Snow who had to resign from that balanced-budget organization to become Secretary of the Treasury under GWB? Well, anyway, none of this is my point...

Sometime in the late-ish 1980's I was up at Bard College visiting friends and Volker was speaking. So my friend Todd and I went over hear him. Funny thing was, this was the middle of summer and nobody was there -- there were probably less than 20 eggheads in the audience, Todd, and me. and Paul Volker (this was just after his interview with Interview magazine. Remember that thing? The interview is stupendous. If you find it online you'll see what I mean.)

Todd and I joked about how we were going to ask him questions like "Uh, the bank told me I'm overdrawn -- could you help me balance my checkbook?" But I swear to you, these PhD's in the audience just asked, essentially, for stock tips from him. Todd and I were not allowed to ask questions (they were moderated by Leon Botstein and there was no way he was going to let either of the two of us ask his distinguished guest any questions, probably thinking we'd go on some long socialist rant.) But I had a serious, although perhaps too theoretical-level question regarding the whole ideology of economic thought (so maybe Leon was right.) My question was going to be: "Why do you care so much about inflation?"

Which is a question worth going into some depth for, just not now.

*"We" being the Federal Reserve Bank, which was keeping interest low.

Hacking a GH1

Media Blasters is a distributor, mostly of anime-type stuff, here in fabulous New York City.

Rutger Hauer has a YouTube channel that has fun little interviews and lessons and such on filmmaking. Here's his DP, Christopher Gallo, on shooting with Canon DLSR's:

Go to part 2 to hear the DP say the smartest thing any DP will ever say "I'm a cameraman and I know that good sound is more important than good picture... audiences will put up with bad picture... but they won't put up with bad sound."

Right now we don't have an art director or costume designer for Earthkiller. It's not like we haven't done that before -- not had designers -- it's just a pain in the tuchus.

I've been looking at the costume design for this short movie Razorsharp. There are some very nice ideas. We're going to need to make some decisions about boots soon I think.

I went and hacked my GH1. Now I don't have to force a pull-down before editing with the footage. And presumably the compression is less than an unhacked-GH1. I better test the heck out of this before we shoot our next movie. Oh heck, you know I'll never do that. We still have a couple pickups to shoot on Day 2. We'll do our testing then! ;-)

Actually, today I did some long-ish shooting with the GH1. The Panasonics apparently don't have problems with their sensors overheating. So you can shoot with them for a long time.

Heck on Earth

It's intolerably hot in our studio. The air conditioning at Theatresource has traditionally been overly powerful, even so; we in the back studio have always fought the heat in summer with exhaust fans.

But now the AC is much weaker. Which is better than it was a few weeks ago when it didn't work at all.

So we're going to extraordinary efforts to do something about the temperature. Like for instance I bought a thermometer. Now when I say "It's 90 degrees in here" I can show that I really mean it's 90 degrees in here.

It's melty hot. Now, Maduka will actually wear a jacket when it's 90 degrees out (or in). But Blair and I can't stand it. But what I'm really worried about are the computers and the hard drives.

In the doorway you can just barely see the fan I've hung as an exhaust fan. With the AC on maybe we can make the temperature go below 80 in there.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Clonehunter Preorders

Ooh! Lookee here. You can pre-order your very own copy of Clonehunter from Amazon.

The movie is apparently "Clone Hunter" in America. And no, I don't know what (Ws Dol) means. Now you understand the distance from producer to distributor.

But I'm a-gonna order mine today. And if you order at least $2.51 more you get FREE SHIPPING!

You know you want to see the sexy Ben Thomas and the talented Angela Funk. You know you want to.

Wanna Sees

I wanna see the movie Triangle and Black Death (both directed by Christopher Smith). I think that Black Death isn't available in the US yet. I want to see Pontypool too. I got the idea to see those pictures from this post at SF Signal.

For whatever reason, Abel Cine has never heard of the Gearnex lease-to-own program.

John Saterineross' "Church":

CHURCH from john santerineross on Vimeo.

Hot Robots Do Your Work For You

Wordpress autoblogging amuses us today. Lean back and let our robots blog for you.

I can't wait 'till the day we get Lean back and let our robots make your movies for you. Movies... about robots.

Because I'll totally let them.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010


I'm using Google Sketchup. Can you tell I'm not the modeler in my shop? As the son of an engineer I am a great disappointment as far as drafting goes. Still, this will give you an idea of what I'm trying to do. But they ain't engineering drawings, that's for sure.

I want a freestanding airlock structure with a working door. I suspect the door is going to be lifted by someone off - camera because I'll take what I can get with that.

The most important thing is that the airlock be light enough to be able to be moved without wailing and gnashing of teeth but to be rigid enough to not fall apart while being moved. I'm imagining a wooden frame -- much lighter than the frame for the spaceship which Mike Kessell designed for Millennium Crisis. Indeed, imagine Mike's design but shorter.

Today is Sing Along Day

The Invisible Dog is a bunch of things including some big ol' spaces in Brooklyn. If we shoot there you know our lunches will be great because that neighborhood is the dining capital of New York City.

AGM Labs (via Turbosquid) modeled Arthur, below.

I'm avoiding my studio because it is so freakin' hot there. But I gotta go do things. So I will.

On today's agenda is designing an airlock.

Video Copilot on creating an in-camera rack focus and turning that into focus data for AfterEffects. How he did that blew my mind. It's pretty brilliant.

Bang For Changes

Probably my favorite Zambri song.

Tyrannosaurus Mousketeer!

Thanks to Lindsay.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tyrannosaurus Mouse Album Recording Booked

For the first T-mouse album we have a little bit of time booked in August at Trax East. I've been working with Eric at Trax East for... well since the 80's certainly. He is the best.

I haven't been to the studio for a while so I asked what kinds of amps & instruments they have as well as what kind of hard drives to get. Eric answered:
  • Amps; 1964 Vox Cambridge, 1970's Marshall JMP 50 watt, 1980's Marshall 800, and many others
  • Organ- Hammond XB-2 with leslie
  • Any drive with firewire 400 or 800 Mac formatted.
  • Drummer will need to bring a snare, cymbals and his foot pedal. We have all the rest.
I don't know if I'll just buy a mess of drives or what I'll do (as we always need hard drives). I am really looking forward to recording this record!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Arthur is Ticked Off

Arthur test 01 from Andrew Bellware on Vimeo.

Arthur here is trying to find out where they're holding auditions at Theatresource. We're kind of glad he didn't make it -- he's a yeller. One time he broke a chair.

Sometimes when writing you should just go ahead and have all the damn characters say all their subtext. If it's the difference between them not saying a darn thing or saying everything right on the nose, just go ahead and have them say it on the nose and fix it later.

For instance, I got to complete my "to do" list today by making a bunch of bad dialog. But ultimately the screenplay is better for it. Hooray for me!

Nooz You Can Use

If you're a filmmaker and you read this blog, you wade through a lot of crap before you come to some actual information. Well today's your lucky day. Actual information. The word on the street from the Cannes Film Market.

Vampire pictures, even the romantic Twilight-mockbusters, are all played out. Nobody wants 'em anymore 'cause there's a glut.

Overseas they don't want zombie pictures. They still do well domestically but the overseas buyers hate 'em. I did notice that Dead Snow was picked up by IFC and you know IFC doesn't get into bidding wars.

So what's left? Disaster movies and giant monster movies. Cloverfield/The Host - type pictures but without the verite elements (buyers think that when no-budget outfits do that "documentary" it makes the movies look cheap).

In light of that, here is an early version of Arthur, the Pandora Machine monster.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I Want to Work the Word Narwhal into a Headline

Mozz, who wrote Thoroughly Stupid Things as well as Earthkiller, has a new play: Billy Carver and the Children in Mind.

make custom gifts at Zazzle

I don't know if this widget will ever work but you can order a Tyrannosaurus Mouse T-shirt from Zazzle now.

Mack Guitar Amps. You know, from Canadia.

I actually Googled "prefabricated spaceships". My results were disappointing. ;-(

Tyrannosaurus Mouse is recording our first album in August at Trax East.

Add Religion, Last Lines, and Countdown

Jon Scalzi on Joe Barton. Jon amuses me. His calm analysis always seems dead-on to me.

Spreadshirt's T-shirts are a bit thin for my taste. A tad scratchy. The printing on them looks nice though.

Printfection's T-shirts are also a bit thin for me.

Zazzle has an embroidery designer which we might try.

I don't think I've ever made T-shirts from Cafe Press. I'll try them.

Who makes the best - quality POD T-shirts?

Tomorrow's tasks include: bring Les Paul to 30th Street Guitars to get re-set-up (it's being cranky due to the high humidity), call about studio time in late August, play with animating the monster in Blender we're thinking about using in Earthkiller, script re-writes in Earthkiller with the following notes:
  • add religion origin
  • fix last lines
  • add countdown at beginning

Saturday, June 19, 2010

What I Want

I want an airlock. If it were up to me the doors would go up into the ceiling (like the doors on the Death Star in Star Wars.) There would be a door which leads into the lock. The lock would only be about 4x6 or 6x6 width and length. There would be a second door to the outside. Beyond the second door would likely be a bluescreen.

And I want maybe forty or sixty feet of additional hallway/corridor. Pricing out some materials it looks like it'll be about... um...

Well these spaceship sides are only $2.38 each. Two of them make an 8-foot high wall section. But that section is only... 18? inches wide (once you overlap the little "wings" on the side). Then you need the vertical pieces of wood(?) which will hold up the frame. I'm thinking we might go for pieces of PVC and staple the sides to the PVC pipe. The 90 degree elbows are 48 cents each and if the pipes themselves are about a buck(?) each then we're at about $8 for each section (once you include tax.)
So three feet is about $16. How many feet did I say I wanted? Eef. 20 sections will end up costing about $320. We better be able to make a lot of movies with these corridor pieces...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Cinema is Dead

I think... I think... I'm quitting the movie business. Why?


Ooh, this turtle movie needs a groovy soundtrack.

A turtle. Made a movie.

I know, I know, some people will say "See how easy it is to make a movie? You have no excuse now, a TURTLE can do it!"

I love this turtle movie. I think that all my movies should be homages to this turtle movie. Some of you will say "They already are."*

How will I make a movie as good as this turtle's movie? Fish. Sun. It's brilliant.

"Except the turtle's movie is in focus."

Screenplay Induced Madness

So I finished the polish of Earthkiller. I need to add two more bits of dialog before I call it done though.

I've sort of given up on Final Draft. I've been working in Celtx now, mostly because I end up working on so many different computers and if someone wants to do a re-write it's vastly easier for them to get the open-source Celtx than Final Draft (in whatever version of whatever operating system on whatever computer they may be using.) But Celtx does have some scary issues where it sometimes pretends it can't open a saved file. So far I've been able to close Celtx and open it back up and retrieve the file, but it is a tad frightening.

Stu posts that Final Draft is the standard in Hollywood because of its revision modes and how easily it imports into scheduling software. The revision management is actually pretty good (but we in the Pandora Machine never care about maintaining page numbers, I really only care about maintaining scene numbers).

But nobody actually imports Final Draft into scheduling software do they? I mean, not without significantly massaging the data. I haven't worked with outside AD's in a couple years now but back in '07 nobody could print call sheets from any scheduling software -- they just typed them up in Excel. And you certainly can't use the script to schedule automatically because the script is usually a lousy indicator of who is actually in the damn scene.

If you have a series of scenes cutting back-and-forth between, say, the heroine breaking into the glue factory with her alien android while the hero is tied up in the bad guy's office between the two goons (one of whom is the hero's best friend from elementary school) listening to the bad guy tell him how the world will be destroyed; you won't see the goons or the android in the schedule for most of those scenes. This is because only if someone talks do they get listed as being in the scene. So I don't know how anyone else does it but I just go through the screenplay page-by-page to see who is actually in which scene and put it in the schedule.

(So if you scroll down Stu's post you can see in his screenshot of Scrivener the beat-sheet of SAVE THE CAT SAVE THE CAT SAVE THE CAT!!!!) Apparently I'm insane.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Accidental Posting

This post from composer Jonathan Newman reminds me that I'm incredibly bad about registering my music. I don't think of myself as a composer so it's sort of surprising how much music I end up copyrighting in a year. But not only does it need to be copyrighted, it (typically) has to be listed on cue sheets, and then submitted to my performing rights agency (which is BMI).

But now I discover that there's yet one more thing to register. That's the performance rights to the artist(s) and the owner of the recording. Sound Exchange is apparently the only PRO in the US for that purpose. And only for digital transmission (sattelite radio and Internet.) But hey, I'm no lawyer. As far as you know. Anyway, I really should think about registering with Sound Exchange.


Andrew Kramer continues to knock these tutorials out of the ballpark. Holy cow, this is a great way to learn After Effects. This tutorial is all about making a still image animated. He also covers faux camera movement and particles. Oh, and importing real camera movement and faking rack focus.
The Princess Bride - My Name Is Inigo Montoya! -
Swordfighting in The Princess Bride.
I finished Altered Carbon. It's a great idea -- about a hard-boiled dude investigating a suicide at the behest of... the guy who committed suicide. There's something on the order of about six times too many characters, but the ideas in the book are great.
This 4th of July I'm going to be in Canada for a family reunion. And I'll also be a victim of mass insobriety perpetrated by my Canadian cousins who are (mostly) women, who cuss like sailors, sexually harass men in bars (thankfully I'm exempt because I'm "family"), and drink like fish.

Honestly, a better time simply couldn't be had.
In a chat with Ian Hubert last night we talked about CG monsters and I had shown him the dinosaur from a previous post. He said "I could put robot parts on that dinosaur." And now I'm all obsessed. Robot parts. On a freakin' dinosaur.
That sounds like a movie.
If we have to make another destruction-of-earth picture that's totally what we're doing. Like Cloverfield meets The Host. But with robots!

No One Flies Around the Sun

I'm all about stealing content from other blogs but I lost my notes on which blogs which things came from so I could just lie and say I discovered all this stuff by myself but really I'm just procrastinating about finishing a screenplay polish. Ooh! Maybe I could have a cookie.

Like an attention deficit squirrel on PCP.
50 Most Challenging words. Actually, I still have trouble with "the".
This image is presumably from a Pink Floyd series of dates at the UFO club. I don't really see it but maybe that's the point.
Hey, Brian Schiavo! I don't post these things for anyone other than you. You're the only one I know who cares. How to build a vacuum former using a toaster oven.
The only good fights this blog generates are about Batman and guitar players.
A review of Love Me, a play written by Jason Grossman, directed by our Daryl Boling.
Today I'm busy wondering if Helen in Earthkiller should have high boots or boots with shin/knee guards. Wearing knee pads as part of one's costume makes it easier to take a fall on concrete, that's for sure.
You know what's funny? You can easily unload more money on your unloaded speaker cabinet than on the amplifier itself. Here's a 1967 - era replica Marshall cabinet. $1400. Although there's probably no real reason to blow more than a thousand bucks on a 4x12 closed-back cabinet.
That being said, Jim from Li'l Dawg has (whether he knows it or not) pretty well convinced me to get one of his Deluxe clones. Modded slightly.

Biological Research

So, I'm watching the documentary It Might Get Loud which stars The Edge, Jimmy Page, and Jack White and... What?

It stars a rock icon whose name is spoken in the same breath as Eric Clapton and Jimmy Hendrix, some guy from an 80's/90's band that's most famous for their lead singer speaking out on social issues, and that kid who lives down the street who plays guitar really good you know and he's in that band that's playing at the middle school dance...

So wait, really?

Jimmy Page and... those other two guys? OK, OK, what if I even give you The Edge (meh). But Jack White? Why is he even in the room? How about B.B. King? He's still around. Or Jeff Beck. Or, for that matter, Eric Clapton? I mean... David Gilmour! What about him!? No, instead it's... Jack White? What? For cryin' out loud, Les muthurscratchin Paul was alive when they shot this.

And I'm sorry, even if I sit right in the demographic for U2 (generationally Jimmy Page is too old and Jack White is too young) it's just that... Jimmy Page is the only one of those three players who is culturally important at all. I mean seriously, let's compare all three of these guitar players to Paris Hilton.

Jimmy Page? Vastly more important than Paris Hilton as a cultural figure. No question. Next:

The Edge? Oh, I dunno. Maybe about the same. Or maybe more. Maybe I'm being too mean because I'm irritated. OK. The Edge is more important than Paris Hilton but not even in the top 20 electric guitar players who are alive.

But Jack White? C'mon. There's no way to deny it. Jack White: actually culturally less important than Paris Hilton.

But the thing is, more than that -- Jimmy Page is the only one of the three of them who can actually play the guitar. Now I realize that's an obnoxious and elitist thing to say, but, well, I'm obnoxious and Jimmy Page is the elite. I mean, maybe I'm being too hard on The Edge. He did develop that whole 80's digital delay sound. So OK. That's one for The Edge. But Jimmy Page can actually play the guitar.

You and I know plenty o' guys who play just as well as The Edge and Jack White. They play in the local bars all weekend. We don't know a guy who's as good as Jimmy Page (unless we know Jimmy Page.)

Also: bonus material. Jimmy Page played on Goldfinger. Yes, that Goldfinger.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Blender Monsters

Today I'm thinking about CG creatures. Should there be a CG creature in Earthkiller? It could be a big PITA. It could also make the movie much more sellable. We could buy a dinosaur for Blender and then hot-rod it a bit.

I really really really do not want to be getting us into rotoscoping trouble. I don't want to have to cut live-action people out so that the CG monster can appear behind them. I went to a great deal of trouble to keep that from happening on Day 2 and still we're roto-ing out some people.

So that part of the whole experience will have to be well-thought-out.
Art Frahm. Apparently celery makes an appearance in more of his pin-ups than you think it would.
Windows is actually better now as Windows 7. Certainly it's less annoying than Vista is/was. And they finally got the "documents" folder naming such that it isn't infantile ("My Documents" Get it? Hee hee! Squee!) and is fairly usable -- Libraries is divided into "Documents", "Pictures", "Music", "Movies". Whew.
Remember kids -- titles and ideas aren't subject to copyright! The Asylum, getting better press recently, knows!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Chord Doubling

More and more about the GH1 hacks. Ninofilm and Escobar weigh in with more video and stuff.

And another Tyrannosaurus Mouse T-shirt! This one you can buy yourself!

Last night the Mouse had a rehearsal and I decided to break all convention and be the jerkiest guitarist evah. I put my amplifiers on either side of the drum kit. Ha! Ethan passive aggressively aimed the amp on his side of the stage away from him. Finally I got the guys to agree I was too loud. I negotiated that I would turn down if the bass amp were turned up.

I think that if we double the number of chords we use in a given song we'll be in good shape.


My sister made this T-mouse shirt. It's a one-of-a-kind.

Causation Without Cessation

I updated the screenplay to Earthkiller (.pdf link). It'll go through another cleaning before we go into production. Mostly what has to be done is to make sure the lead's motivations are clear and right.
Gearnex got back to me. Their heads can be rented from Du-All Camera (ironically their Worral head is $10/day cheaper than the Gearnex on their price sheet.) Heads can be leased from Abel Cine (although Gearnex isn't listed on the Abel Cine website.) Just think, if we make 10 movies with it -- it'll pay for itself! ;-)
It's weird this whole being in a band thing again. I feel like a teenager (well, luckily not the worst part of being a teenager). Remember what it was like to plateau as a player? All of a sudden you're just better... and then you sort of sit there for a while. And then you start to think you kinda suck. Then you practice a whole bunch more and nothing happens, you still feel sloppy and unable to do even the most basic things. And then (if you're lucky) you plateau again. Yup.

Or, you come up with a music idea and either 1. you think it's awesome or 2. you think it sucks.

Two weeks later you come back to that same musical idea and you have the opposite opinion of it.

I have no idea what causes that.

Spreadshirt Market Place Design

Dear Tea Baggers

I'm sorry, but I passed my 2nd-grade history class. The Act which the Boston Tea Party was all about was a lowering of taxes.

That's right. The British government lowered taxes and it pissed off colonists so much they threw some tea in the harbor.

Get it right.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Big Questions of the Day

Are England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the only non-states which participate in the World Cup? Or rather, are they the only recognized clubs which geographically do not cover an entire state?

What do we call England, Wales, etc? Sub-states?

An English guy once tried to argue that England was a sovereign state because it played in the World Cup. I think I said "So if me and a bunch of my friends went and convinced some of the guys from Manchester United to come out for a game of footie, we'd be a country too?"

In any case, I have no idea. The UK's relationship to... er... itself is what Facebook would call "Complicated".

Sunday Sundries

Via Lindsay, a buncha stuff:

Firstwise, the GH1 just went nuts as a camera. Here's the wiki on hacking it. Here is the camera at 50MB/sec.

Nobody has fixed the rolling-shutter issue (and I don't think anyone is expecting them to). And the Canons tend to have a leg up because their imagers are bigger and people like the reduced depth-of-field because of that. But these advances for the GH1 are pretty exciting. I plan to hack my camera next week.

Weirdly, Gearnex hasn't written me back about leasing one of their geared heads. And in the meantime, the company Quick Set has been found. They have a series of geared heads in their Hercules line.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Cat Rescue

Pomodoro Technique.

I got a shout-out in the Save the Cat blog because apparently I mention the Save the Cat book a number of Save the Cat times in my Save the Cat posts. Save the Cat.

Did I mention Save the Cat?

Queen of the Early Afternoon

PFC (Plug Fire Cartrige) guns. Prop weapons where you screw "caps" into real-sized cartridges. So if you need the blast and the blowback, but don't want the power of a full load (and you have a lot of money to pay for the guns), this might be the way to go for realistic prop weapons. The only seeming downside (outside the price) is that they eject the entire bullet rather than just the shell. Not that many people would notice. But you could even use them in theater as they aren't as loud as regular automatics.

Here's a video of an M4A1 with grenade launcher(!)

My man Greg Bodine turned me onto these.

Moby Dick guitar video lesson (DADGBE)from Bob's Guitar Lessons:

Comfortably Numb guitar solo:

As it turns out there are a lot of on-line lessons for both these songs:

For whatever reason, half of the rhythm section of Tyrannosaurus Mouse has an extreme prejudice against Mozart opera so we're not allowed to do the Queen of the Night aria no matter how much I want to.

Today I had to reacquaint myself with the use of multiple tracking points in AfterEffects. Luckily, Video Copilot shows you how to track when your tracking points go off the screen.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Splatterking the Oogledaddy*

It occurs to me that perhaps the out-of-focus shots I've been seeing during my 30 Rock marathon are the result of the editor choosing takes based on acting rather than technical merit. In other words, they did indeed shoot the shot again with better focus, but the out-of-focus shot had a better or more appropriate performance so they figured that was better than the in-focus shot.

It's really hard to get that kind of handheld work in focus. And I understand from someone who's worked on the show that they take a looooooong time shooting it and go to a lot of trouble to get the technical aspects right. That would drive me nuts. I could never do comedy, it's just so-not-fun on set.
I think I should learn the guitar to Zeppelin's Moby Dick and the guitar solo to Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb. Those would be two very different things stylistically which are very outside what I normally do. Learning them might be good for me as a guitarist.
Whenever I read a scene in a script that has no conflict in it, the whole screenplay just dies for me. Sure, the other thing that's annoying is characters arguing for no reason. But it's vastly better to have characters in a bad argument than no conflict at all.

Horror movies are particularly vulnerable to the no-conflict scenes. Usually it's the scene where the teenagers are in the friggin' car on their way to the remote place where the headcount will be (at a minimum) n-1, where "n" is the number of speaking roles.

And you just know that the filmmakers wanted this scene because it shows how happy and great everything is with the characters before everything goes to pot. But it never ever works. At least have them arguing about what they're wearing or music or something. Sure, it would be better if they were arguing about stuff that had to do with their characters and what they were going to need dramatically later when n=.5 but I'll take anything at this point.
*The result of blogging after having a drink.

Railgun News

Today in Railgun News, an Earthkiller gun -- poised to destroy Terra -- makes it's debut.

This is Ian Hubert's render of his superweapon for Earthkiller.

Hope we can make the interior sets look this good. ;-)

Bit My Rate

You can get a Roger Linn Adrenalinn for only $399. As far as I know, the Linn Drum was the only drum machine which would actively close the hi-hat when you went from open to closed hi-hat. You'd actually get that little "swish" of it closing. No other drum machines do that.
If I had a pack-a-day cigarette habit and a pack cost five bucks, I'd be spending $1825 a year on cigarettes.

Since I don't smoke I feel I should give myself a bonus of $1825 a year in amplifiers and guitars. Or computers. Or transvestite hookers. Again.
I don't really understand yet how to use this GH1 hack. Hopefully I will because it'll make the GH1 vastly more usable.

Zacuto's camera shoot-out includes greenscreen. I've been looking forward to this test for a while because I felt that keying was a bit harder with the GH1 than it was with the trusty HVX (although the HVX seems to have an issue with its detail seemingly always being "on" even when you turn it all the way down.) They don't talk specifically about the GH1 and its issues with color-keying but they do pull an adequate key. I wonder if the higher bit rate at acquisition with the above hack will help. I bet it will.
Today's question involves whether I get a Bassman or JTM-45 clone. But I need to buy a new computer. Arrgh. I guess that's where this year's $1825 is going.

The Plural of Anecdote is Really Crappy Data

They: So, uh, WTF happened this morning?
We: Apparently nobody was here to let the people for the Writer's Forum in for their auditions.
Are they doing that to deliberately muck with the Writer's Forum production?
I... don't think so. But I'm nominally a big fan of showing up on time so I don't know.
How is Theatresource staying alive when there are so many dark nights?
Well, there's the grant from the State for the Writer's Forum.
What is that, like eight thousand bucks this year? But that's to be use to support the Writer's Forum, isn't it?
Well, in theory just paying rent "supports" the Writer's Forum.
But, doesn't the Writer's Forum show pay for itself? They're guaranteeing ticket sales and Theatresource gets 100% of the ticket price.
So that State grant is just some free money?
Well, it's money that helps make up the difference for not renting the theater every night. Well, maybe not entirely.
What if we had that money and rented the theater every night?
I dunno. Maybe we'd get new dimmers.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Renaming Rocks

Welcome to the bulk renaming utility. It's a PC program, freeware, and your best friend when you've mis-named 550 of your favorite files to the wrong shot number.

Not that I anyone in my shop would have done such a thing.
Everyone keeps trying to turn me on to CS5. Yes, there are some super cool things about it. We'd have to do things with some plugins we have, I don't really want to be upgrading them to 64-bit. But eventually we'll have to. It's a bit scary to upgrade in the middle of a project but the fact is we're always in the middle of a project.
I've been getting 30 Rock episodes out of the library (that place is like communism -- does the government know about it?) The show is very well written. There are a shocking number of shots out of focus. Even more than Law & Order. I mean, we don't even have that many out-of-focus shots. (I mean, we don't without softening up all the shots immediately before and after the shot so it doesn't stand out.)
I'm using now because Spinvox (which I'd been using for years for free) has seemingly died. Of course, I hate the telephone anyway so I'll never be available if you call. Email, however, is a completely different story.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Building the Earthkiller

Ian Hubert started this base of the Earthkiller itself. It's pretty cool looking. We're going to have an awesome space station.
The City Samanas are one of the best bands to come through Theatresource. Actually the material on their MySpace doesn't really adequately portray how good they really sound live.
Up to frame 422. I was just saying, while knocking on wood (seriously) "Surprisingly, the computer hasn't crashed once doing this render." And guess what happened? No, go ahead, guess. So I restarted. Now we're off to the races again.
I'm going to have to get a new main PC. I suspect I'll end up getting a Dell in August, as August is a cheap time to get them. My last Dell was quite a fine machine and I still use it for audio editing. But it's only a dual-core and it's starting to get cranky.

My New Nickname

Boo Drellware.

"Smoove Drew" is cool and all, don't get me wrong. But when it's late at night and I'm workin' in the studio, the only way to get me to stop is to say "Yo, Boo. You gots ta chillax. Bring it down. Live a little."

Just try it.

Oh, and for those keeping track, we're up to frame 400 of the 550 frame render. Smooth sailing from here on folks!

Amps and Amps

Playing at rehearsals studios is a terrific way to learn about amplifiers.

At tonight's Tyrannosaurus Mouse rehearsal, I played a Peavey Classic 50 and the good ol' standby Traynor YCV50 (or... YCV80? Maybe?).
The Peavey was the "clean" amp and the Traynor was the "dirty", I blended them together with my A/B/Y switch. Worked very nicely. I was freakin' loud and both Ethan and Lou complained I wasn't loud enough. Told Ethan that if I turned up he had to turn up. We're the only band in the history of mankind that has ever had that particular argument.

Anyway, I have to say that my favorite amps of the mass-produced kind are now Peavey and Trayor and, er, Blankenship. Which is funny because those three amp brands beat out not only Fender and Marshall but a LOT of boutique brands.