Sunday, October 31, 2010

Restoration of Sanity

Now, it's interesting that the "Rally to Restore Sanity" was way bigger than Glen Becks rally to "Restore Honor". In all fairness, the Jon Stewart rally probably skews demographically younger, so they might be more likely to show up at a big rally.


But what's really weird is that you have 215,000 to show up at a rally which is held explicitly for the purpose of moderation.



Now of course I, like any other rational person, can't figure out what the Tea Partiers are all about. They're mad about a bunch of things like taxes (which have gone down under Obama) and "out of control spending" (which they weren't mad about at all when G. W. Bush was in office). Which is why many people think "oh, this is just code the American Right uses to mean they hate the fact that a black guy is President". And honestly, that's probably true for a significant portion of the Tea Partiers. The rest are just... well insane.

But over two hundred thousand people showing up at a rally to support not being crazy? That's kind of heartening really.

BONUS: best signs from the rally.

16 Feet

I have this fierce-some look but I just want you to pet me.

So my parents, through a series of what we might call cat-tastrophies, have ended up with (at least temporarily) another cat. Luckily, the cat is not aggressive at all, because Pushkin really wouldn't be able to handle that (although the last time I checked he was hiding under my parents' bed.) This chat noir has been named Winston and he's really quite nice. He's easy to sleep with (he mostly stayed in my bed last night) and he's very purr-y and nuzzly. And he's the appropriate color for a Halloween cat.
Pushkin doesn't seem to be doing so well lately. He's gotten a lot slower and just seems old. Poor kitty. We have this pain medicine which makes him feel so much better but it's simply impossible to get him to take it.
All of the cats are what we might call "tolerant" of the giant labradoodle. Somehow all the animals are in my parents' apartment right now. That's 16 feet plus whatever number of human feet are around at the time. And what is that, like 4(?) tails? It seems like more tails quite frankly. I'm going to have to go check.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Funniest thing at the Rally to Restore Fear

When the Mythbusters guys were on stage there was a wide shot in the back of the Mall and someone had a sign that said:

"Birthers for Hawaii Statehood"

And it made me laugh a whole lot.

Friday, October 29, 2010


I got a complaint from our distributor that I've been sending him USB drives when they're so dang slow. I don't think they're that bad -- an 80 gig file seems to take about an hour to transfer. But he wants Firewire 800. So eventually I'll get some Firewire 800 portable drives.

But that's not the weird thing I've found.

We've shot two features with the Panasonic GH1 camera, transferring the footage to ProRes422 "SQ" ("standard quality") using the Neoscene software. The first movie (Day 2) we did with a stock GH1. The second one ("Earthkiller") was with a cracked camera with a 30Mb/s data rate.

Now, when we first did sync tests and the like, we found we could edit just the way we always had. I've been using USB2 drives to edit HD movies. You're not supposed to but that's what we've been doing and it works (and the USB drives are cheaper.)

For some reason we simply could not edit Day 2 without playback stuttering and hiccuping on a USB 2 drive. I had to order a more expensive Firewire 800 drive. And (knock on wood) it's performed just fine and flawlessly. My buddy Mitchell, who has edited dozens of projects from his GH1 (transferred via Neoscene to ProRes422) thought that going to Firewire 800 was just nuts -- he'd never had to do it.

Robin Kurtz as Helen in Earthkiller
But then one day he had a project which simply would not play back smoothly from his USB drives. Just the one project mind you.

And our movie Earthkiller doesn't seem (again, knock on wood) to have any problems at all playing back from a USB drive. Remember, this was the movie which started out at a higher bandwidth.

So yeah. Who knows? Just some ghosts in the Pandora Machine.
Giant among men, Ian Hubert publishes a tutorial on lighting for outer space in Blender. The "sun" lamp with some ambient lighting is the trick. The man knows how to light in 3D.

Schtick in Indy Rock

Back in the early 90's I remember hearing "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana for the first time. It was on an alternative rock station in New Jersey. I liked the song enough to buy it. I figured there was no way this band was going to be terribly big, but they'd be some indy darlings for a while. Play some theater-sized venues if they're lucky. That sort of thing.
OK, so I was way wrong about that. They became HUGE.
Milestones even.
And they had a specific shtick. That pianissimo verse to the fff chorus. It's a good shtick. And it seemed that it was a riding trend of some indy bands. In fact, without offering any examples I will say that the quiet verse with the loud rockin' chorus was an indy trope at the time.

Nowadays there seems to be this nice trick of stompy 1/4-note rhythms. The Franz Ferdinand example is pretty obvious, but the Arcade Fire takes a while to develop into it. The other interesting thing (for rock 'n roll especially) is that there are actually ritardandos built into the songs.
Both the stompy "four on the floor" rhythm and the ritards are actually really nice tricks to have in your pop song toolbox. Those are the kinds of tricks which might actually frighten Top 40 radio programmers. At least those used to the Katy Perry-type acts.
So there might actually be a difference between so-called "Alternative" and "Mainstream" acts. Alternative allows for changes in dynamics and tempo.
That doesn't sound like that big of a difference.
And besides Arcade Fire and Franz Ferdinand are both pretty big acts. So aren't they "mainstream" now?
One thing that Tyrannosaurus Mouse can do is play dynamically. I'm not going to take too much credit for it but a lot of a rock band playing with dynamics is the result of the damn guitar player not playing too loud all the time. Because guitar players tend to do that. But if the guitar can just quiet down (or better yet, shut the hell up) the bass player and drummer can do their jobs and make things louder or quieter as their will dictates.

Cruise the Galaxy

This dude David McRaney talks about why we should be making genre movies rather than art-house pictures. Well, no he doesn't.  But that's my take-away from his blog. He talks about subjective validation and confirmation bias.

I'm sorry I'm going to be missing the Rally to Restore Fear

Thursday, October 28, 2010

And Other Things

The Asylum explains why they title their movies with numbers. They're not kidding. That's why our movies have names that begin with "Alien", "Android", etc. Or at least they will with greater propensity.

Video Copilot is giving away a free stock pack of movies for you to composite with.

Ian Hubert is building our space station for Earthkiller.

Someone's Been Sleeping in MY Bed

So my sister sends me this picture of her dog, Chien, and titles it "Someone's been sleeping in your bed." Right, just like Goldilocks and the three bears. But instead of a bear, a big fuzzy dog.

With a nose.


I screwed up. Maybe not "big time" but not "small time". I'd say "medium time".
I did everything -- got all the visual effects uploaded we needed to get up. Shot all the stills we needed. Dotted "i's" and crossed the "t's". But...
I forgot to make the screener master for Day 2. And the screeners are the things which will make the buyers go from "What have you got there?" to "OK, we'll buy it."
So the priority of getting those screeners made is pretty high. Especially if my kids cats want to have Christmas this year. The screeners are the things which actually make the sales. So I'm on it. Rendering now.
In the meantime here's another un-color-corrected picture of Tina.

Funniest Cat Video Ever of the Day

Japanese cat in a McDonald's bag. What is that cat? A Scottish fold or some such?

My favorite part is how you can still see the end of the cat's tail even when he/she thinks she's hiding in the bag.

Music Licensing

So Tyrannosaurus Mouse will likely sign some music licensing deals. I've made like 27 cents for licensing my music so far through Pump Audio. That's the "Getty Images" of music licensors. But actually there are quite a few services out there.
It does occur to me we might be low-balling our music by going through these services. And it does occur to me we should license at least some thing via non-commercial-use Creative Commons licenses. That sounds like a band discussion which will take place over french toast or waffles.
So we might want to be selective with whom we license commercially.
And note too that the link to the above EM article is just for and about publishing rights. There are other rights which will be addressed by another post at another time.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

John Steinbeck and Freddie Mercury

Yes? No?

I'm not sayin'. I'm just sayin'.

Tina Tanzer in the Avengers

We shot many and multivarious stills of Tina Tanzer today, for use with key art. You know it's really all about the Facebook.
The structure on the dress she wore is amazing. I know, I spend the whole day shooting a beautiful woman and all I can talk about is the structure of her dress.

Holographic Dead Sister

Robin Kurtz and Lucy Rayner as Helen and Raze in Earthkiller.

Lucy Rayner as Raze.
Today we had to shoot the lovely Tina Tanzer for to be the holographic dead sister of the character Raze (played by Lucy Rayner). Maduka thoughtfully sent us these reference stills (because the scene was shot in two parts with a greenscreen) and we looked at these pictures... er... after we shot the other side of the scene.

So these are the unused reference images for the scene. Tina will be "in" the greenscreen (which otherwise is an image of the earth below them). Robin Kurtz as Helen is also in this scene.
Oh, and in battery news the big Sony NP-F960's are both dead. One won't take a charge and one acts like it isn't charged even when the charger says it's charged. We use those on the Sound Devices 702 recorder. I don't know what the issue is. Looks like I'll have to blow a hundred bucks in replacing at least one of the batteries.

This Is Desire's End

My very important housekeeping notes:

I've come to the conclusion that cleaning the floor to my bathroom is a Sisyphean task. It doesn't matter how much I clean it today. Tomorrow it will be equally as dirty. Well, I'm using hyperbole here. It'll be a good week before it's right back to being dirty.

Thing two (and this is very important for everyone to remember) the washing machine on my floor and the machine on the 4th floor don't "spin" properly so your clothes just won't dry after they're washed in those machines.  Keep that in mind.

Thing three:
Medium Large.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Republic of Greenland

Why isn't Greenland a continent? Answer: no reason. Apparently Australia is on the same tectonic plate as India so you can't even use the tectonic plate argument. I suspect the real reason involves distances to the nearest penguins.
The Republican Party just called me and left an (unintentionally) ironic message about "out of control spending". Wasn't the deficit on its way down during the Clinton administration and didn't we have a budget surplus which was squandered by G. W. Bush administration's tax cuts and the Iraq war?

Jack Conte on Microphones

Jack Conte likes the TLM 103. He says that the TLM has a high-mid boost... er but then he says the mic is very neutral. Uh. OK. (It has a high-mid boost.) But I like the sound of his recordings.
Maybe I'm just used to people who experiment a lot but I can't imagine that there's really this sense in the music industry of what's the "industry standard" to mic anything. Who would say that? "Oh we can't use that microphone on the snare drum, it's not industry standard." An engineer I'd fire certainly.

But the real question is: what are the mic preamps you're using? My feeling is that the preamps are more important than the microphones (once you get mics with higher quality than Radio Shack* mics). I'd rather have an SM57 with a Neve than a U47 with a junky Teac preamp.

[A friend of mine, Eric Rachel, recorded a band's lead singer once where the singer sang into a pair of headphones hooked up to a Marshall amp. Of course, he mic'ed the amp and used a Neve preamp to get the signal to tape. It actually sounds surprisingly good. The record was on the Billboard top 100 albums for a while. And no, even though I own the record, I simply cannot remember the name of the band.]

The fact is that the quality of the instrument and the playing vastly outweighs the quality of the microphone. I'd say the quality of the preamp would be next in importance. Then the quality of the microphone and the quality of the A/D converter (in a digital recording). And I suppose I should say this is just my opinion except that I'm right. So there.

*Although Radio Shack used to make a nice omnidirectional dynamic. Mine got destroyed after a couple years being used at Theatresource as the stage manager's "monitor" microphone.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Those Who Can, Don't

I have mixed feeling with the argument that script consultants are a waste of time. Now

1. a It's true that my favorite screenwriting books are Save the Cat by Blake Snyder and Crafty Screenwriting by Alex Epstein.
b. Both those guys were/are working screenwriters
2. I frequently get irked by people who think they know how to make movies when they've never had to make a DM&E before (and if you've ever been responsible for a DM&E you know what I'm talking about).
3. But there are occasions where being able to teach does indeed make you better as a teacher than being someone who can do the thing you're doing.
4. I've been a teacher too. Sometimes I was OK at it but most of the time I was somewhat sub-par.
5. We have in the past used Paul Cooper to analyse our screenplays. Now you should note that
a. He's not terribly expensive.
b. He gives great notes.
c. He does actually have some credits.

OK. So far I'm pretty much batting on the "you have to work to know what you're doing" team as far as teaching anything about the movie making business. But I also have some affection for Dov Simens. He's really pretty strictly a teacher, whatever film credits he has are pretty minimal. But I did learn a lot from his 2 day class back in the day.

Also, if you're a writer or some such, you may find that some other books or teachers really speak to you in a way that maybe Snyder or Epstein don't (or maybe in addition to Snyder or Epstein). So I'm not ready to dismiss the non-working-writers with one swell fiat.

I'm just inclined to dismiss them.

But obviously if someone says something that's malarky but they have a lot of experience, that doesn't make what they're saying not malarky. Conversely, if they have never make a feature film in their life but they say something right, they're still right.

Wow. That's a pretty big blog post for me to actually say nothing.

What Has Over 3000 Views?

Bill Cunningham, the man on the cutting edge, pointed out that Maverick (the North American distributor for Alien Uprising) has posted the entire movie on YouTube. Watch for free!
The comments there are exactly what you'd expect from YouTube.

Hungry Zombies and Crashing Shuttles

Hungry zombies eat David Ian Lee while a space shuttle lines up to crash into the Earthkiller station.

Watch Clonehunter Online

Well it turns out there are other places to download Clonehunter. But those sites are illegal! You don't want to do that. You want to watch instantly on Amazon!

Steal Clonehunter (No wait! Video on Demand!)

Oh look, Clonehunter is available on illegal bit torrent! I'd advise not trying to download it though, who knows what kind of yukky virus your computer will get?

I suppose someone should send a takedown notice. How is this movie at 23.98fps? The original files were that bit rate but the only way anyone would have had access was via a DVD of the picture (which was 29.97). Did the movie get RE-converted to 23.98?

Actually, I can't even download the movie. I can't figure out where the link is. And, well, I don't really care.
That's not what's important. The important thing is that now the movie is available as video-on-demand from Amazon! Wahoo!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Two things, four feet.

The Internet. There is a whole site dedicated to bad tattoos in Hebrew.
Obama. Lowered taxes, reduced the deficit. But nobody pays attention so it doesn't matter.

The Japanese

must have their tongues firmly implanted in their ironic cheeks. Made with Vocaloid, Japanese cartoon characters have been on tour.
The audience in this video is rocking out so hard to the cartoon character that you gotta suspect they're all in on the joke.
If not, then the Youth of Japan are in for some major psychological setbacks as they get older.
But I suspect it's just a lot funnier to treat a rock star like an anime character like a rock star.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


What's the difference between "Alternative" and "mainstream"?

Well lessee... not the rhythm, it's practically all music in 4/4 with an accent on the 2nd and 4th beats.
Not the melodic system, they both mostly use tonal melodies with a blues influence.
The chord systems are the same.
So it's not rhythmic, melodic, or harmonic.
Uh... what else is there?

They're actually different charts. They each have their own "Top 40" on Billboard and CMJ. But musically they're identical. And honestly pop music has musically not changed at all for almost 50 years now. Unlike the differences between, say, Ragtime and 20's jazz-influenced pop, popular music now is essentially the same thing that it was in the early 1960's. It seems odd that popular music would become more conservative over time but that seems to be the case.

Arguably there's been no real change in music in the Western world since sometime after the turn of the last century. That's the whole Schoenberg argument: we've exhausted all the melodies available in a tonal melodic system. And although that's factual, it doesn't mean we don't all like a good melody.

This is Why I Have a Blog

Yes, this is why I have a blog. So that my friends can tell me about things like this (see comments on previous post).

Here is the key art out rep will be using at this year's American Film Market in order to sell Earthkiller.

Did I have a half-dozen back and forths in email with my distributor over the last two days about a variety of topics about the marketing of these two pictures (Earthkiller and Day 2)? Did any of those emails coming from my rep include the words "we have the provisional artwork up on our site for Earthkiller"?

Nope. But luckily Joe had my back and sent me (via comments in post below) to my own distributor's site to find this piece of artwork. Ha!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Title Unknown

Maduka Steady as Mach in Earthkiller.

Yes, those are the dreamy bedroom eyes of Maduka nee Henry Steady. The actor and the editor/vfx supervisor.
Today we spent $79 at FedEx getting a hard drive overnight to Beverly Hills from New York City so that the trailer editor would actually have material to edit. To which I say hoo with a waa in front of it.
Doing a big ol' render in Blender 3D now. Some of the frames in this 250-frame sequence take 12 minutes a piece. Others are shorter -- like 6 minutes. But there's a LOT of movement (and the resultant motion blur) for each frame to render so hopefully it'll all be nice and dynamic and interesting looking by the time we're done.

Better Earthkiller Morgan

You know who's better than I am about publicity? Project London, that's who. Look at how many followers they have! I can't wait to see the movie.
I have an Earthwar question:
When his wife turns to him and tells him "I'm so hungry" should we jump-cut to her attacking him, jump-cut to her tied in a chair, jump-cut to outside the building and we see a flash of light and the report of a blaster set to Full?
Or does Morgan show up and restrain her?
It'll determine how we go merrily into act III. And yes, another movie with a dead wife in it. She isn't holographic this time.
I suspect there's too much stuff in this movie. We might get rid of the Android. Heck, we might get rid of the witch and just make her a soldier. Or the other way around. Or both. Simplify simplify. We're keeping the digital cat though...

My New Favorite Artist of Right Now

This dude became Internet Famous TWICE. Once for just being who he is. And the next time for... well... this. Witness, Brothers and Sisters:
【けいおん!!】GO!GO!MANIAC FULL 8弦ベースで演奏してみた【パン○ラ】
Is he just speeding up pop songs to they become hard-core/fusion tunes and leave room in the low end for his bass?


The Earthkiller Station is being built by the always amazing Ian Hubert.

Juan Williams

So, uh, this Juan Williams debacle seems a bit ridiculous. He gets fired from NPR for comments he made on that blockhead Bill O'Reily's show and the interesting thing is that it seems to me that what Williams was saying was the opposite of the truncated and out-of-context version the press gives about his remarks.

The reports usually go something like this. Juan said "Look Bill, I'm not a bigot" [to which all editorialists sigh a collective "uh oh"] and then goes on:

But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.

OK. So he sounds like a jerk. But wait! The sound bite is truncated!

He goes on to point out that we're not castigating Christians after Timothy McVeigh blew up the Federal Building. Which intellectually refutes his earlier statement. He was using it as a lesson. We're focusing on people in Muslim "garb" (when they are statistically the least likely Muslims to be committing a terrorist act) and we're ignoring white chino-wearing men who, although he did not go on to say, are the most likely people to be committing a terrorist act (the 9./11 hijackers were shaved and wearing Western clothes.)

And furthermore admitting to being racist -- and feeling sorry about it -- is not the same as "making bigoted remarks". It's talking about race up-front. And that's to be lauded. You know, when you say to yourself "Hey, I'm thinking one thing or another because of the way someone else is dressed, or the color of their skin" then you're at least examining that thing.

And the fact is that Juan Williams is against profiling Muslims. So... what was the big deal?

Hmm... when has this happened before? Oh right, with Shirley Shirrod -- fired from her Agriculture position because a right-wing website had edited the video of making a speech she gave sound like she wouldn't do as much work for white people as black people (editing out her conclusion that such thinking was wrong and how she changed her mind.)

Thanks NPR, for being exactly the way the Right says you are!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Today is Stupid Day

Today is a day where I'm making up for things I should have thought through before. "Thought through" looks like a typo, doesn't it?

I'm just going to put Guilliaume Seignac pictures wherever I want.
In any case, I have to get the footage to Earthkiller to my overseas distributor so that his trailer editor can get a trailer cut before the American Film Market (which is less than two weeks from now so the distributor is understandably anxious to get the footage). My stupid is that I just looked this morning and discovered that the camera footage, converted to ProRes Quicktime movies, is over 600GB. And I don't have a portable drive that's that big. So I went and splurged on a 1TB rugged drive for $115 at J&R.

But that isn't the big decision made today based on me not thinking through something I shoulda thought through many months ago. No, rather this is what happened: I was mixing the first act of Day 2 and realized that "OMG!!!11 Dis Iz BORINGZ!" We have to get into the action of the picture faster than we do. But we need that long scene where we open the movie and we need the sequence where our heroine walks through the empty streets of Brooklyn.

So what do we do?

We insert a new first shot into the picture! Wide on the planet Earth, a GIANT EVIL SPACESHIP enters the frame. Two more ships enter right and left. The invasion has begun.

Yes, we're going to add a 10-second visual effects shot right at the top of the movie. I'm rendering it right now using the Whirleydoomer model (one of the big wheel-like robots). Which, you know, kinda makes sense because where else did those things come from anyway?

So we're sending finished shots for Day 2 as well as a couple visual effects shots for Earthkiller to our distributor's FTP site and you just know that the new trailers are going to have some of the two movies mixed up, right? ;-)

Office Style

From a posting for a job at Bandcamp:

There is no Bandcamp office. Most of us are in San Francisco, but we also have people in Seattle and at major ports in Vermont. We get together all day and night on IRC, design and document everything imaginable in a wiki, do a daily skype call that is exactly like the start of Hill Street Blues, and meet in person a few times a year for strategizing, working head-to-head and blowing things up. If the thought of setting your own work hours and environment makes you think of laundry and masturbation more than eight times a week, we're probably not for you.

Interesting that there is no office. And the Hill Street Blues briefing is an interesting idea. I bet it means you can get up later if you live in Vermont than Seattle.

Not having an office seems like one of those ideas someone would have come up with in 1995 which would end up just never really working. But it turns out that it's possible. Here in the Pandora Machine we even have some work farmed out to people far away.

But the Hill Street Blues daily Skype -- that's an interesting idea. I think we'd have to pay people though. I swear I don't think about laundry and masturbation together more than 6 - 7 times a week tops.

Theater that could work

There's an adaptation of "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" by the Untitled Theater Company #61. I've never heard of the company before. But this sounds like the sort of theater which could actually make some money. Er. I mean if they hadn't signed an Equity contract they could have made some money. I wonder how they got the rights?

The only successful off-off Broadway theater model I've seen (from a financial sense) was Joe Tantalo's A Clockwork Orange, Fahrenheit 451, and The Third Man -- all plays based on the original books, not the more famous movies.* But because of the famous movies they got people in the door. So that worked.

Now honestly, I don't think, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" is a very good book. Philip K. Dick has a little problem with dramatic sense as far as I'm concerned. Blade Runner's screenplay is brilliant. And it's very different from the book.

There's a moment in the book where... well... and of course here be spoilers but... well there's another android (Mary?) who's not terribly relevant... And um (trying to remember) oh yeah. But the thing is that the android Deckard is in love with looks exactly like Priss (who he has to kill). The moment leading up to Deckard killing Priss isn't very loaded though. Dick just doesn't use that dramatic tension. We don't build up to it, it's no big deal that he shoots her.

And when Deckard kills Roy it's also not terribly difficult for him and he says something like "Androids are stupid" and just goes on about his day. No big deal.

The screenplay for Blade Runner is just brilliant though. Have I mentioned that?

*These plays were also really good. And I may have some of my facts wrong as I'm just saying all this from memory. At least two of these plays were produced at Manhattan Theatre Source. I may have done some work on one or two of them -- I honestly don't remember. I wasn't the sound designer on any of them but I may have helped the set designer, Maruti Evans, with something or other. I do remember it was the production of The Third Man which turned us on to Le Maitre hazers over using fog machines.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

View from my apartment building

That's the moon above (with a jot of Jupiter nearby.) The lower skyline of New York. The lights were lavender tonight. I forget what that's for but I love everybody so it's OK by me.
This is not the view from my apartment, oh no. But up on the 5th floor on the east side of the building you can see through Jersey City to lower Manhattan. I took this picture from a stairwell.

Blogging drunk is the best.


The guys at Figure 53, the brilliant company which brought us Qlab for playing back sound effects in theater, made a program called Streamers which exports... well... streamers for ADR and composers.

A still from Clonehunter.
Using streamers is kind of old-fashioned but there's a lot of merit to the method, especially if you're already used to working with them. That's so not the way I tend to work though. We tend to not even do ADR -- we will just match up other dialog takes or dialog takes we do in the field as "radio versions" of scenes instead of having actors come in and doing the dialog in the studio.
If we did do ADR, streamers might be nice.
And if you're recording with an orchestra and no click track, streamers are also the way to go.
But I don't even do audio on a Mac so I'm out of the loop anyway.

[Am on page 62 of Earthwar.]

What I have learnt

What have I learned from watching Caprica on Hulu?

Don't put the mind of a petulant teenage girl into the combat chassis of a military robot.

Screaming at Lint

I think that the other guys in the band should back me up every time I "mistakenly" refer to the band as "The Tyrannosaurus Mouse Sound System" because I "remember" back in the day when that's what we were called.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Answers about Writing

A writer asked about my "pool" of writers. Here was my semi-lucid response:

The best writer in my "writer's pool", I'm afraid to say, is me. And I'm not the best because I'm the best at writing or have even the most experience writing screenplays -- I've just done a number of them, very quickly, and produced them, so I tend to know what works. And I'm able to do it quickly.

Did I mention the "quickly" part?

Our last movie, Day 2, I wrote entirely. The movie we're doing now was re-written from page one (although ironically contains more of the older versions of the script the same writer who had handed in). The movie before that had an extensive rewrite done by me. I'm a very good re-writer. I'm the rewriter you want on your script.

I'm also an almost religious follower of Blake Snyder's "Save the Cat" books and especially the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet. The one place in writing where I fall down is in story structure. That's most writer's problem too. Blake Snyder fixes that problem. Almost any other problem can be fixed on-set (although it's better to fix beforehand).

We need creature features and big monsters. That's what everyone has been clamoring for.

What I specialize in is science fiction -- usually with a big political subtext.

The sign outside the writer's room.
What I don't like about what we do now is the relative slowness of writing. We really need to find ourselves in a position where we can have a finished, polished, screenplay in 30 days. I can do maybe 60 days now, but it's gotta get down to 30.

And just to publicly shame myself I'm on page 52 of the Earthwar script.

Arthur is Tired of Yowling

This is the third version of him. Ian Hubert correctly pointed out that the light behind him didn't raytrace. That's because it was a "hemi" light in Blender. So I added another light which did raytrace (hemis don't for whatever reason). I like the look of the hemi light so I didn't just change it to another source. I just turned it down a bit and added a sun.
Arthur goes "Aargh!"

0801 63.60 v3 from Andrew Bellware on Vimeo.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Three Things

I know a number of people who've quit Facebook. Mostly because of the ridiculous privacy issues. Here's an article on how to protect yourself.

My wicked stepmother keeps over-feeding me. It's her fault, not mine, that the pesto she makes is so good. And that she makes me take a second and third serving. Remember: her fault. Not mine. Evil. It keeps me from losing weight.

My parents leave the door to the closet by the front door open now because little Meydl, for whatever weird cat reason, loves to jump in and out of that closet. I mean loves it. It seriously becomes the most exiting thing she's ever seen in her life (whenever she feels like it). If they close the door they will inevitably lock her inside. If they close it and she ISN'T inside she will clamor to be inside. Cats are weird.

Making a Business Plan part 9 (I think it's 9)

Hi. I don't really know what I'm talking about but I write stuff in my blog. And as much as I'd like to use some real numbers I just don't know them. I've been going over and over the numbers and working out just what makes sense for us and figuring out a sustainable business plan (which may, in fact, be impossible -- all business plans have to be in flux). And I've come to the following non/half/part-conclusions:

SyFy. It would be nice to be one of their approved producers. It ain't gonna happen anytime soon. Sure, we could blow a couple hundred thousand dollars (of, er, somebody's money) on making two or three movies with some name talent and a giant dino-cobra. "Cobrasaurus", I suppose. And if we could then sell a couple of those movies to SyFy for, what? $35,000 each? And then hope that they like the pictures so much that they decide to let us produce Cobrasaurus IV and V. So we're only at a loss of maybe a hundred thousand dollars or so and we have a chance at maybe getting a deal to produce for one network.

Egads! That's a lousy business plan.

The problem is that I've yet to see a better one.

OK, so what else do we do?

Well, we can keep plodding along.

I mean it's not like we're not going to make movies. So maybe just making some more movies is what we need to do 'till somebody figures out (or lucks into) how we can make money at it.

But here's the thing: that's not a Debbie Downer concept. Plodding along and continuing to do work is a business plan. Sure, at any moment we could just say "This is too hard, forget it". Because having a business is very hard. Running (for instance) a theater is hard. Running a fabricating shop is hard. Gee whiz, life is hard! ;-)

But we're still alive when many companies aren't and so we'll just keep making movies better and better. There's no real magic golden-egg-laying goose that we'll stumble upon. Or at least we won't rely on stumbling upon one. We'll just keep on making movies that don't suck and we'll cut more corners and make them cheaper and be nice to the boom operator and everyone will have fun.


That means I gotta get back to writing this screenplay.

Here's Arthur again. There's a mistake in the animation. Oops. But overall I like the composite.

Arthur Yowls Again from Andrew Bellware on Vimeo.

Very important science-fiction news

Maria De Aragon played Greedo.

I have nothing to hide but plenty to fear

New rule: no eating after six pm. I haven't actually succeeded in following this rule since I instituted it. But it's the new rule.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Question and Answer Time

Is there any sound funnier than the sound of two cats galloping?

No. The answer is "no".

Oops. Sorry.

Jersey City pooped all over Brooklyn last night. Sorry!
I must have been upwind of it 'cause I was fine.

There Was a Mouse in the Studio Today

Gaspare Traversi's La leçon d'écriture
He was itty-bitty. Very kangaroo-y. With a long tail. But otherwise very small. I tried naming him but didn't know if it was a boy or a girl. Maybe "Michelle" if it's a girl or a French boy. Michelle the Mouse. Boing.

I'm looking at works of art it would be amusing to emulate in our official band photo.

And don't forget Rembrandt

Reynolds, Joshua (1723-1792) - 1777c. The Dilettanti Society

Salimena, Francesco (1657-1743) - 1715c. Self Portrait (Uffizi, Florence)
At least it wasn't a mouse...
Traversi, Gaspare (1722-1770) - 1754 The Sitting (Louvre, Paris)
I suspect some details of the poses in this Boilly painting might be just what the Mouse ordered.

Today's Pornography Winner

Thanks for the water, here's some pearls.
This Piazzetta of Rebecca at the Well is simply the most pornographic thing I've seen on the Internet all day.The beautiful luminescence of her skin is just ravishing. And she looks like such a real person too. With a good hairstylist. Anyway, she's my third-favorite thing about this painting.

My second favorite thing about this painting is the camel in the background. He has some attitude, man!

But my favorite thing is the disinterested cow lookin' almost straight at camera.


There's another hi-rez version on Flickr.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Yowling Robots

Dig Edward Jay Epstein's blog:

The deal-breaking issue for these strategists is not the intrinsic merits of the film but whether it contains the necessary elements to attract a target audience in seven-days of intensive30-second ads on TV programs leading up to its opening weekend.

Arthur Yowls from Andrew Bellware on Vimeo.

Here's a test video of Arthur as he yowls at Helen in Earthkiller.We're playing around with the gamma and with various kinds of occlusion -- just trying to get him to fit into the background. I think I'm going to make him open and then close his mouth in the final version (which is due to the trailer editor next week.)
Friday we'd planned to shoot at the Shore in order to fake a "desert" but we got rained out. And tomorrow (Sunday) we were supposed to shoot the sequences inside the Earthkiller gun itself but logistically it just didn't pan out. So we're rescheduling both those dates.

OK, James Knapp

... if that's what your real name is. I've read your books. I bought The Silent Army and State of Decay. And now I have to wait for the third book in the series?


You better be hard at work writing the third part of the trilogy.
I'm sure that somebody's already picked up the rights to the story. It's hard to turn into a screenplay, for a couple reasons. One is that there's a bunch of mind-control and stuff that goes on in people's heads. But that's the lesser of the problematic reasons because sometimes it's easier to show stuff like that than not. So that's no reason. Don't pay attention to me. Please, disregard this paragraph.
The bigger issue is that there are three or four great ideas in the books and you'd probably have to strip that down to two great ideas for a screenplay. There's the notion that there are three tiers of citizenship -- which is an awesome critique of Heinlein's Starship Troopers. There's the notion of the State being in a permanent war (wonder where THAT came from?) There's the idea that certain people have the innate ability to see events in the future and also control people individually -- making them do things and forget things. Then there's the idea of the revivors themselves -- the State will allow you to go up one tier of citizenship if you allow yourself to be used as a zombie soldier for the war after you die.
It would be difficult to make a 110 page script which adequately addressed those issues to enough of the audience that it would be successful. A TV-series, sure, as long as it looked good enough. 
In the meantime the characters are even more compelling in the second novel than the first. Which is why I want to know what happens to them. So James Knapp, get that book finished!