Sunday, January 31, 2010

More Ridiculousness


OK, so I'm a bit freaked that Final Draft has crashed twice over the weekend -- taking out the last saved version of the script with it. Doesn't matter how much you save, unless you "save as" and make a new version number, it can go down and gobble that script right up. It's almost like it's not saving at all.

So I dunno. Do I go to Celtx? Do I go to Open Office?

*****

Eurotubes sells... well... tubes. And Weber speakers.

*****

My sister posted this rabbit on Facebook for me. It's from this Huffington Post ... um... er... post.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Rationality


Movies that open "cold" or without reviews tend to do 15% better at the box office than movies which open after being reviewed. It's true. I read it in a .pdf. From the New York Times. In a blog post by the Freakonomics dudes. Check it out, it has sentences like this:
Therefore, we proceed with the maintained hypothesis that complete unravelling should occur in theory, if distributors and consumers are perfectly rational.
Yeah! Rationality in economics, bitches!

*****

Still playing with Cineform's Neoscene. We had a couple auditions today -- out of 7, two showed up. They were both very good. One of the ones who didn't show up wrote to say she had to go to the hospital. We'll reschedule her for later. Fighting epic battle with Final Draft wherein even though it says it's saving, it isn't really and so I lost all of yesterday's work. Eef. Am experimenting with various software issues -- Magic Bullet "Looks" won't render in 10-bit YUV in Final Cut Pro? Also, the GH1 "hunts" for focus too much in Auto Focus Continuous mode. Am I done yet? Man, I need some sleep. It's nice to have Ganesh looking over my studio. Blair put up a figurine of Max from Where the Wild Things Are to keep Ganesh company.

I Want to Start a War for No Reason

I don't understand it. I just do, that's all.

http://www.myheritage.com/collage

MyHeritage: Celebrity Collage - Ancestors - Family tree chart



Yes 1. It's just simply awesome that George W. Bush is my #1 look-alike and 2. in Firefox they wanted me to download some toolbar so I had to do this in Chrome.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Guitar Friday II

Marlon Brando with a kitty.

Hot Chicks with Stormtroopers
. Look, I don't make this stuff up. It's on the Internet. Really.

Letterheady has amazing letterhead designs. We should totally cop some of those Art Deco designs when it comes time to do a letterhead. Via.

Hey. Are you over 40? Have you wanted to write for TV but never had the chance? You've been discriminated against and there's a settlement for you. Via.
*****
The Radial Tonebone power boost is an interesting buffer pedal in that it allows you to introduce "drag" on the signal (which I interpret to mean that it lets you lower the impedance to do various things to your guitar.)

Now, isn't it Friday? And doesn't that mean I can bore you even more with guitar-related things? OK then.

So far I'm trying to figure out the best way to drive two amps plus the Echo 600 in such a way that the repeats keep going after it's switched off. I think that means I have to split going into the delay and have three different amps (or three amp channels). At least that's where I am so far. I might end up with four amps if I have to have one for leads/overdrive. We'll see.

Here's my Lehle passive splitter and A/B switcher with the Malekko Echo 600 on top of the Fender Twin Reverb. I'm just plugging in things willy - nilly nowadays to see how the impedance is affected by what-have-you. Hey, on that amp the "reverb" part doesn't work anymore, I wonder if it can be used as an effects send?

You know I still want a Hagstrom Swede (recent issue) guitar in Natural Mahogany Gloss. Because I want one.
*****
Oh man, it's almost next month. Paying rent is such a gas.

A God Came in the Mail Yesterday


No kidding -- from Ganeshmall.com.

Cinderella Fell

A video directed by Mitchell Riggs, Margaret Bernstein's Cinderella Falling. I DP'ed. We shot with three cameras - all in one day (Nikon D90's). Click through to embiggen.

Cinderella Falling from LifeNow Video on Vimeo.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Kenyan Speakers and Straps

Maduka Steady as the Kenyan in Race in Sports.

I've been looking at application schematics from Jensen Transformers. Because, apparently I like it. OK, no, not because of that at all. I just don't understand how the impedance of something on the isolated output of a transformer in a splitter box affects the sound of something on the direct output of the splitter.

The Weber 12a100. I'm thinking now of loading my Fender Twin with one of those and with my Celestion Alnico Blue. But I'll drive the Celestion with my Little Lanilei amp. My feeling is that the Fender cabinet is nice-sounding so I should put both speakers in it. The Fender amp will drive the Weber and be my "clean" sound. I get to have both at the same time. Because I do, that's why.

Wide Rides Guitar Straps. Because I have to bore you with guitar straps once my cache of guitar bag articles runs out.

You know, for You Tube, this is a pretty good sounding version of the Danse Macabre:


Today I am reading scripts. I'm writing scripts.

Smoke


From via.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wot's Cool on the Internet Today

Yes, that's Madonna.

You know what's cool on the Internet today? The International Music Score Library. Cantorion also has music scores.
Today I was faced with a great and immediate need to look at .pdf the score of Saint Saens' Dance Macabre. Whew. That's where it's at. (Be advised, that's a link to a .pdf). Now if I could only learn the violin part on guitar and get my band to play it...

**Ooh -- update! Newman (below) points out the Indiana University Score Project also has scores. Now I can really learn the Queen of the Night aria for guitar (another thing my band will have to be convinced to play. Cookies usually work...)

Arthur Kade makes me laugh.

Apparently the manager at Theatresource is telling people we're "booked through February" in our audition space, when in fact there are no bookings at all until February.
We start scheduling people to come in on Saturday, but we're just using our own studio so we ignore most of that nonsense. It's just unfortunate because I found out another film company was told no. So they're going up to Theaterlab instead.

No.

When Latin tattoos go bad.

As if by magic, I'm in the Reddit 2-year club.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

L'Elephant


XBMC is an open-source, multi-platform, multi-media playback uh... software... thingy...

Stu on flattening a 5D camera. I don't know why he makes such a big deal about it, I just run it over with my car. All of this leads up to Stu's post about color-correcting on one of these cameras. We have a slightly harder time because we have a GH1 and the compression is slightly more "smashy" with the GH1, but at least our images are in focus. Ahem.

But more importantly: Neat Video makes a video noise reduction plugin. It's a hundred bucks and I think you need a separate license for After Effects and for Final Cut. Normally we've been using Too Much Too Soon plugins because, well, they're free. Actually, I think I donated $20 for them. Anyway...

Who's supposed to be working on a screenplay? Me? Oh, why? Does it look like I'm avoiding working on a screenplay? Dude, I don't avoid working on dialog editing in post-production the way I avoid working on a screenplay. Writing (and reading) screenplays is seriously my least favorite part of the entire enterprise. That and not getting sales. OK, not getting sales is my least favorite part. Then reading screenplays. Then writing them. I don't mind writing on my blog though. Nope. I can do that all day long. Just watch. See? I'm still writing. I can keep going too because I don't have to worry about how this affects my third act. Because there is no third act. See? I can stop anytime I want.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Fifty degrees in January


On the GH1 it looks like "nostalgic" is the setting for me. Maybe with the preset incandescent white balance. I like staying with one white balance for the whole of a picture. It seems to make post-production color-correction easier/better.

Required reading: the Video Copilot Optical Flares plugin. If you take the 40 minutes to watch this video you'll realize that 1. these guys have done this kind of work before and 2. "keying" flares to the luminance of a layer and dynamic triggering are unbelievably teh awesomes.

Brooklyn Film Labs is Dexter Taylor's school. Over the years Dexter and I have worked for one another on various movies.

How to use a semicolon; it's not as easy as it looks.

Verizon data access via prepaid plans.
Verizon data access via regular plans.
Their MiFi is only $50 with a two-year contract.

Everybody seems to charge 60 bucks a month for 5GB of usage. Feh on them and both (or all four) their houses!

78 Pages

A new breakthrough in the screenplay to Day 2 via Maduka Steady's notes. As always, he comes up with a note and then I realize from trying to do his note that there's an even better way to deal with the screenplay than either my original version or his note. Indeed, it solves many other problems with the picture (especially the "who is this picture about" problem.)

**

I just spent the whole day making a 12-minute reel of nudity in Pandora Machine films. The Queen of Mars wanted it so she would have something to show to actors who are auditioning for roles which have nudity.

It's pretty tame stuff really. Contractually we're obligated to be able to get an R-rating or lower. But I'm happy with the love scenes in Angry Planet.

The funny thing I discovered is that because we tend to have creepy love scenes we tend to reach for the same piece of music I wrote for the love scene in the movie Pandora Machine. It's a tad comical when you string all the love scenes together and we're using the same lovecreepy music in them.

**

For pictures of Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls naked with stuff written all over her, you have to go here.

Oh and speaking of that there's a whole article on Neil Gaiman in the New Yorker.

**

Dapper Cadaver has all the body parts and such that you'll ever need.

**

Via Chance Shirley: Wooden Finger (who sound to me like a cross between Steeleye Span and perhaps early Renaissance, but you know, with more "bluegrass" and Gentle Giant). I like the vocalist a lot, and believe me I get very cranky about female vocalists I don't like. She has nice dynamic control and her phrasing isn't just a shtick -- like so many femvoxes -- she has a pretty and wide palate of sound. Also: Delicate Cutters and Loud Quiet Loud a film about the Pixies.

How many times should a writer be kicked in the pants per day?


There was some talk on these kind Interwebs a few weeks ago about The Asylum paying $1000 for a writer to turn out a screenplay based on their specifications. I should look up Bill Cunningham's post on that issue but the fact is that I'm writing this blog post in order to avoid doing work (which, in this case, is re-writing the Day 2 screenplay) so why would I do more work to find links? Oh. OK, here's the link. (And incidentally, I'd last heard a number of years ago that they paid more than $1K, but that was never verified in any way.)

Now remembering that I'm a producer and that my standard response to people wanting more money is that "You'll work for two dollars a day and a kick in the pants" I have to say: one thousand dollars to write a screenplay for a picture budgeted at one hundred thousand dollars is just too low.

I'm not saying you shouldn't take the work if it's offered you. No no no. I'm saying that as a producer you should really be thinking 4% of the budget up to a budget of a million dollars. You will likely be paying about that for your production sound crew. Now, when you're doing the kind of nutty no-budget pictures we make, then expect -- well -- $2 a day and a kick in the pants. We'll throw in the kick in the pants for free, because that's the kind of awesome people we are.

But seriously -- OK, for a picture made for less than $100K you're eating into the real budget of the picture to pay the writer -- everyone is doing this for their imdb credit or their reel. Everyone.

But after you cross the $100K budget threshold it's really not a big sweat to start paying more like $4K for the writer. And go ahead, think of paying up to $40K if your budget is a million bucks (which, incidentally, starts to get you into a place very similar to a WGA contract).

You'll still need to add the kick in the pants. After all, you're the producer. It's your job.

And I'm saying this not just because it's morally right to pay more for the person who'll be sweating over creating a draft in 30 days. Not just that. You'll also be able to hire higher-quality writers. Heck, they might even work for you again. And you can justify them taking a month off from doing other things if you're paying a thousand dollars a week. They can justify it too. Everybody wins.

I'm avoiding work. That's why I'm bloggerating. I have to re-do Act I so that Act III makes more sense.

The Problem With Theatresource

I'm there every day seeing what a mess it's become (and over the last 10 years I've seen quite a few messes, but none on the scale of the present non-management.) Artistically the place is a disaster. We can't get volunteers because organizationally (and artistically) it's such a trainwreck. And, of course, we're in greater debt now than we were when the Artistic Director was pushed out a year ago.

So many people I talk to complain about Theatresource and say "Yeah, I don't bother coming around there anymore." The problem with this is that as the only founding member of Theatresource who's still there every day, I tend to be the only one complaining.

Of course, the absentee Board of Directors won't respond to my emails anymore.

Essentially they have found themselves in the position of "If we ignore Drew, we can continue to do nothing" because rather than complain, everyone else has been simply dropping out.

The shows are getting no support. The Source is close to being openly hostile to theater companies coming in -- the entrance is dark and unfriendly, music is played in the main space while rehearsals (and even shows) are going on because the manager "needs to hear it" while she "works". I see these poor actors trying to work on lines and such while irritating techno hip-hop has to be played all day long. The space is frequently without anyone on duty, but unlocked and just left open. Security is apparently of no concern whatsoever. (Or the opposite happens, the incoming theater company is left out in the cold with no one to open the space for them. In November and December that happened six times when I showed up -- although I wasn't coming in early in those two months. So you can imagine how much more often it happens and I wouldn't know.)

But the Board isn't interested in hearing any of this. Which, as far as I know, makes them personally liable if anything goes wrong. In the past we indeed have had crazy people come in, thefts of laptop computers, even assaults. I mean, it's New York City. We should at least look like we're being careful.

In my office in the back we have a camera uploading images to a server, but that really only tells me if anybody is messing around with my stuff.

And all of this is too bad. The In-genious Festival, which is a surviving remnant of the previous Artistic Director's legacy, is a popular festival. There are some excellent writers involved in it. The production this year is an utter mess. I mean, we've had we've had exciting crazytime festivals before, but this is just a mess brought on by passivity and nonchalonce on the part of the "Producing Artist" who is by far the least competant (and, honestly, the least caring) General Manager that Theatresource has ever had.

My feeling is that most of the old regular volunteers and people who used to make Theatresource was it was are just "waiting it out". They figure the present regime can't hold on forever. I would really rather not wait it out. I would really rather go forward. It sure felt like we were going forward until now.

So please, if you are feeling all "O forget this place" don't. Sure, I'm being ignored, and the management is filled with dissimulation galore (good luck finding out what the balance sheet is by our new Executive Director). But if you want what Theatresource was for 9 years you simply have to start complaining to the ED and the Board (complaining to the General Manager will simply result in her blaming a volunteer, whatever volunteer is convenient -- and she certainly won't mention it to anyone who might have the power or interest in firing her.)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Whither The Asylum

I hereby declare Pandora Machine to be the smallest micro-studio in the land.
*****
We look to our great-uncle, infamous big brother, The Asylum for (some) inspiration. (The Asylum distributed our "first" movie, which was called "Pandora Machine".)

As noted in an earlier post, The Asylum is estimated (by Wired magazine, so take that information for what you will) to have revenues of about $5 million a year. That's something like almost exactly two zeroes more than I've made in my best year so far. But here's the thing: The Asylum gets a lot of Internet grief -- they're widely hated and the press just makes fun of them.*

So they 1. are successful (and wildly so, considering this economic environment) and 2. are hated (and wildly so, considering both journalistic laziness and Internet anonymity). And the big question is: "How did they get that way?"

I think the answer to both questions is "They listen to their buyers." And although their buyers aren't saying "Make a movie with clumsy dialog and a loose plot with mediocre dialog editing" what they do say ends up making movies which almost have to fall down on some aspect of filmmaking.

Now, what the buyers want is
1. a movie to their specifications (must have shark eat the Golden Gate Bridge, must have dinosaurs and explosions, etc.)
2. delivered on-time (within, say, 6 months) and
3. At a reasonable (read: "cheap") price point.

This means they want the movie to be fast, cheap, and good meet their specifications. Normally the rule is "Fast, Cheap, Good, pick 2." In this business formula "good" isn't even a factor. Oh yeah.

The trouble is, and I get this from reading their blog as well as articles I've read about them, is that although they clearly love making movies and are having a great time with it, they seem to be -- on a personal level -- a bit hurt by both how they're treated and by their own thoughts about the quality of their pictures. That seems a bit sad to me.

*****

We're experimenting with actually talking to our rep before shooting too. His idea of the market leads him to desire very specific sorts of things. For instance, the idea for doing an apocalypse picture (which we're doing as "Day 2") came from him.



*Unlike, say, Roger Corman who is Internet cool (and no, I'm not really comparing the two but even the most Cormanphilic of us would agree that in addition to some very cool pictures, he's made a lot -- a lot -- of crappity movies.)



Image from Inspired Minority Pictures. They seemingly had something to do with this movie (below), although their website is just the still image above. Oh wait, they're more information on the official "Pumzi" website. I do love their logo.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The blood of my vanquished foe


stains my ripped and filthy tunic. It mixes with my own blood on the ground where its sinewed and gnarled body lies by my aching feet. The teeth of the horrible gristled creature painted in the gore of my own flesh. But I hath redeemed myself and my ancestors for I have finally freakin' installed OSX 10.6 "Snow Leopard." Many others have tried and failed where I have found victory. I had to use the pre-Intel Mini and start it up in "target" mode with the OS install disk in it. Yeah, right? Who knows why.

Now I must retire from the field to lick my wounds and prepare for whatever the heck it is that this "Snow Leopard" wants to do with us now that it's on our computer.

Snuggly bears. Just think about the snuggly bears.

Geetar Friday


I'll make some attempt to put all my guitar - oriented ramblings on a Friday post, but I'm not promising anything.
*****
This is the original Guitar Friday. Well, when I say "original" I mean the "re-runs" of the original.
*****
OK, so it goes like this: I got myself a Lehle 1@3 guitar switcher which will run one guitar into three different amplifiers simultaneously. I spent some extra scratch on the "simultaneous" part of the switcher. But... but I made a big mistake.

You see, Lehle makes a number of different products. The Lehle Dual is a "1@2" switcher but the outputs are transformer isolated. The unit I bought, however, the 1@3, is not. I kind of feel stupid (like three hundred dollars worth of stupid) for making that mistake. The whole point of my guitar rig is to be able to do this:

I want to use two amps. One is a fairly "clean" amp -- think Fender Twin Reverb. In fact, it'll likely be my Fender Twin as soon as I put a decent replacement speaker in it. My guitar will feed that amp pretty much all the time. The amp might break up a little if I really lean into it, but mostly it's a clean sound.
The second amp is set up to distort. I I generally prefer output distortion so I want a smallish amp with the output turned all the way up. This will likely be my Little Laneli amp, feeding a Celestion Blue speaker which is housed in my Peavy Vypyr amp. All of that is cool and everything but the trick is -- I want to be able to switch my feed to this amp on and off.
Then, I have a delay pedal. I only want the delay to go to the clean amp. The delay (being an analog delay) distorts very well on its own thank-you-very-much and I don't need it muddying the distorted amp sound. The delay pedal will hard - wire bypass on its own. There's a big ol' switch on top of it that does that.

Now, this system actually works. I mean it actually works sound-wise. I don't have it working switcher-wise. But the sound it makes is quite satisfying. For distorted sounds the clean adds to the overloaded to make the guitar "big" but also "clear".

However I'm going to have to take advantage of Amazon's generous return policy and send back my 1@3 switcher. I'm replacing it with a Lehle Dual. I don't have pictures of this because sending the package back to Amazon is actually easier to do that it was to talk about.

*****
So in the meantime look at the trailer for The Asylum's new Sherlock Holmes. The cinematography looks rather good. Could use more dinosaurs of course.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I am, of course, filled with jealousy


that someone else is adapting Jeff Somers' The Electric Church as a movie. Actually, I just finished the book last night, having read the series out of sequence (which was a bit of a mistake, it's a lot easier to read them in order).

The Bloggess respectfully submits a suggestion for decorum while at a public viewing of a film presentation.

And I'm fighting with my Mac trying to get Snow Leopard on it. Wish me luck...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My Predjudices


-- toward (in favor of) Australian actors. My prejudice is that they're good, professional, and friendly. I've just had good experiences with Australian actors.
-- away from (against) models as actors. Heck, that's not just me -- models are prejudiced against models as actors. Some model/actors won't even say they've modeled professionally. But I've had some very good experiences with models who are actors and so my prejudices are being chipped away.
-- toward women with headshots where they wear their hair short. Long hair tends to make the face go bland -- anybody can have long hair. It's a trick. Short hair shows confidence in your face. You're probably more confident as an actor.
-- away from graduates of Yale. Now it's not an absolute that if you went you Yale you are necessarily an asshole. No, not at all. Indeed, I even know some Yale graduates who are nice. Perfectly reasonable people whom you wouldn't think went to Yale at all. But I was brought up (in the theater world) to think that "Yalies" are dicks. And let's all face reality, that's for good reason. I've worked with people who went to Yale and when they inadvertently revealed where they went to college would immediately say "But I wasn't in the drama department." without prompting. Or (and I'm not kidding, I've actually heard this) "But I'm not an asshole." Yeah. So even they know. What that means is that I'm keepin' that prejudice. So unless you prove yourself otherwise Yale, you're on notice.

Will You Shut Up About Guitar Cases Already?


Key art design from the "Hollywood Wizards".

Metropolis Music is the only guitar store in Jersey City.

*****

So, I wrote to InCase about whether their guitar case would be available again and I got this somewhat cryptic reply:

Thank you for contacting Incase Designs Corp. Usually it can take one to two weeks till we have more products back in stock once it is sold out, however since we do not have an official restocking date that time frame may vary. Best thing to do is keep an eye on our website for any possible updates. For further assistance please contact us between our normal business hours Monday through Friday 8:00 am – 6:00 pm PST or toll free at 1.888.283.8288

So I went ahead and called them and was told by the guy on the phone that they won't be making the guitar Slim Bag anymore. Uh. OK.

Although, oddly, they do seem to have their Dub Bag available. It's 300 bucks, and presumably is a "bass" case. But. That's interesting. Here is their compatibility list. It would seem that some time in the dark, distant past, they used to make a "dub bag" specifically for "guitars".

Planet Bass believes they have some bass bags. I don't know if I believe them.

*****
Looks like the Sadowsky Portabag ($189) or the $170 Reunion Blues Continental are my only real choices. Oh, and the Mono M80 ($190). I wish this SKB soft case would fit a Gibson Les Paul. I've written to them to find out.

Oh. They wrote back, it's doesn't. Instead there's this case for Les Paul's from SKB. One thing I hadn't noticed before about this SKB soft case for Les Paul guitars is that there seems to be a pocket under the neck. I do wish the picture had a closeup. Hmm... That case is only $80.

I do wish these cases were about half the price that they are. But that SKB seems reasonable. And I like all the rest of my SKB cases, that's for sure.

*****

There's an interesting article by this fellow Blair Erickson, who worked with Uwe Boll on the movie "Alone in the Dark". What's interesting to me is that the article is all about bad-mouthing Uwe, but it's done my someone who had and, (as as far as I can tell), has very little experience in film. He proceeds to castigate Uwe for the story notes Uwe sent in emails to him and his writing partner. But the actual story notes he uses as examples? They're pretty good. Here is part of Boll's critique of the screenplay they submitted:

The story doesn’t go from A to B, which is unavoidable for a genre-flick. Your story is an author’s piece, a drama, where we spend time with people!!! With a video game adaptation what is more important than ever: hero needs to have a goal, that the [Uwe here uses the term “08/15 Zuschauer” which basically means the no-name, loser audience] understands and the hero needs to be interesting.

Yes, Uwe is right. Absolutely. If the hero has no goal, then I'm bored. And so is everyone else. That's true if we're staging Hamlet or we're making Die Hard VI. The hero must have a goal.

So reading between the lines it seems like Blair turned in a pretty awful screenplay. And he thought that just because he didn't like Boll's movies that Boll's advice to a fledgling screenwriter (has Blair written any other movies? I can't find an imdb credit for him) it must be because of Boll's incompetence, not his own. Hmm...

Werner Herzog

reads Curious George:

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Patrick Stewart, Clowns, and the Decade


Katie West, photographer. With an unhealthy Patrick Stewart obsession. It's OK, she's Canadian.

This dude, David Kronemyer, has a lot of esoteric interests. But many of them I share with him. This blog post is about AC power in recording studios.

Fear of Clowns is number 12. And with Lion's Gate. This post explains why (to both issues.)

Hmm... Lion's Gate and Sony aren't in a bidding war for any of my pictures. Gotta do something to rectify that...

Chance Shirley reviews the decade.

I want to go somewhere cool to make a movie. We had a lot of fun in the California desert when shooting Millennium Crisis. And hopefully I'll have a couple sales coming up soon which I can talk about (effectively there's an embargo on outstanding deals so I just won't talk about 'em 'till they're "actual" deals and then I'll just say how awesome they are because there is no profit in badmouthing anyone -- besides, what am I going to say? "They didn't use my 5.1 mix or my commentary track in the Urdu version of the movie!!!"? C'mon.)

Gig Bags and Pussycats



This gig bag from Sadowsky's Guitars looks pretty cool. But I'm afraid it doesn't have shoulder straps -- and that's a deal-killer.

I have a list of script notes to apply to the Day 2 screenplay. I should have gotten on them today. But instead I went to the vet with a sick little Maydl. The vet spelled her name "Meydl". Oy vey. Anyway, she has pinkeye and an upper respiratory infection and, egads, fleas. So we got drugs for Maydl, and flea medicine (for both cats).

Protec also makes a nice seeming gig bag
. Although I'd really like a big ol' square gig bag to hold lots o'stuff.

We put a notice on Actor's Access for a couple roles in Day 2. We're starting to get the pile o' submissions one gets for that. Remember, we're non-SAG, no pay. Some nudity.

I'm convinced that the GH-1 can take adequate still photographs. But I'll be damned if I really have a handle on how. Or at least how consistently. I keep setting it sort of randomly and sometimes it works out. These pictures are with my Canon S.S.C. 50mm f1.4 lens. To a still photographer that's the equivalent of a 100mm, but in my world (motion picture) that's the equivalent of an 80mm lens. At least, that's what I understand. Just look at the pretty bokeh blur of objects in the background.

There's also the InCase Slimbag for electric guitars. It's made to hold your laptop too, which I find amusing. I can't quite see how the pocket under the neck works, it seems like it might be kinda large, which is also cool.

Oh boy, Pushkin just sneezed. I hope he isn't getting Maydl's sinus problem.

And of course the $170 Reunion Blues Continental.

Phooey. The gamma between Photoshop (where I brightened up the midrange and sank the blacks in these two pictures) and Windows is just way off. Meh. That's just annoying. I'm going to upgrade our dual-quad-core Mac to Snow Leopard just because it supposedly fixes the gamma randomness from application to application.

The InCase Slimbag would seem to be the winner for me but they aren't made anymore. Of course.

This is a cheap LED light-ring

and I'm thinking that for $58 you can't do that badly. Mitchell send me a link to it. If you're shooting stuff for EBay, etc., it would seem like a pretty good deal to have one.

You're stuck shooting closeups of whatever you're shooting, but you should be able to actually get them well, and softly, lit.

Remember kids, FAT 32 has a 4GB file-size limit. Lucky for us the screener output from Final Cut of Clonehunter is only 3.6GB. That's a 1280x720 h264 file with two audio tracks. The 4-channel DVCPRO version is 31GB.

But that's not what's important right now. What's important is that I got the second-to-last Malekko Echo 600 "dark" analog delay pedal. If this pedal were sold in the 80's everyone would be all like "Oh man, that sounds terrible, I'll never play New Year's Day on it." But older and wiser, we, now know that the way the echo gradually distorts and turns to mush is AWESOME.

The pedal is also remarkably quiet.

I never did get an answer from Malekko as to what the difference is between the old "Dark" pedal and their new 616 is. Oh, and the LED on it (which is, unfortunately, un-photograph-able) is super groovy.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The new cat







is sweet, adorable, and a complete pain in the ass. Keeping her off this keyboard as I type requires a level of discipline which I don't seem to have. If any l;kam;lkjihu cat like typing is detected, don't blame me.

The little fuzzy-butt also has this whole "Hey, did you know I'm nocturnal? Hey -- are you guys nocturnal? Because I'm nocturnal. Yeah, that means it's time to run around. Hey -- why are you guys going to bed, don't you want to pet me? Hey -- you look funny when you're asleep. I think I'm going to sit on your face!" thing going on. And, unfortunately, she has a cold and sneezes.

Pushkin isn't super happy. He sits in a protected (and usually high) position in my parents' grand livingroom and will hiss and growl at Maydel (who has had her name changed to "Maydel" or "Meydl" or something... apparently) when she gets too close. She's apparently too dumb to understand and just trots around with her tail in the air.

Here she is as sweet, alien demon from another dimention, and fierceome (and meow-y).

Pushkin in medium and closeups. I'm using the 50mm f1.4 lens on the Panasonic Lumix GH1. Who knows what color temperature the camera decided on? And exposure is still a matter of me staring quizzically at the histogram display on the camera.
*****
We put out an ad on Actor's Access because we have at least two movies to cast and we want to see some sort of pool of people to talk to.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I'm "A-Train"


The Jersey Shore nickname generator. Via the Mad Pulp Bastard.

Cukisag. Still no cognates in Hungarian. There don't need to be.
*****
Welcome to Martin Luther King day in these United States. My favorite State holiday.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Kitty At Home


Little kitty Madel arrived in Princeton. Word on the street is that she and Pushkin haven't actually met, he might be waiting out my sister's dog (I just made a typo where I spelled it "god" -- ultimately that might make more sense) who is big and fuzzy but of whom Pushkin is not usually afraid.

We, of course, want the cats to be great pals. They probably will and that's why we're keeping them in separate rooms 'till they're used to one another.

Kitty On Her Way


I bet she can't wait 'till she's out of this cat carrier. It's almost a 4 hour drive.

So I'm on the train

sittin' down and minding my own business when a mom, her sister(?), and young son in a stroller, come and sit next to me. I didn't get up because there was plenty of room for them on the train. And I figure "OK, I'll just sit here and read this book." Because, you know, you don't want to be that guy on the train sitting next to a little boy in a stroller and being all paying creepy attention to the kid, right?

So the kid is drinking one of those pink Nestle Quicks which he's managing to get all over himself and down his jacket and onto his own pants and on the floor, narrowly missing my shoes. OK, that's fine. I'm reading. But then he gets all squirmy while the mom is talking to her sister (or whatever) and is trying to move around and in order to do so puts his hand on my knee.

He thinks "Hey, I'll put my hand on this guy's knee. That's what people do. That's what I want to do right now. I'm somewhere around two years old. That's what I'm going to do."

OK, great. I'm soooo not being the creepy guy on the subway and now your son is inappropriately putting his hand on ME! And not just for a moment, no not for the "Oh, I just tried to lift myself up by bracing myself against the 44-year-old dude on the subway who's reading his dorky science-fiction book and probably still lives with his parents just moved out of his parent's house less than a year ago and now I'm going to realize that it's a STRANGE MAN I have my hands on."

No.

Instead, it's all "I've decided that the best place for my hand to be right now is not the stainless steel pole, not my own stroller, not my mom (who is, technically, behind me) but on the big white dude who needs a haircut (and probably, a job) and I'm just going to keep my hand on his knee for three or four stops. I LIKE the F train!"

So, while I'm being harassed on the subway by this 18-month-old I'm trying to read my book and forget about the automatic announcements they make these days "A crowded subway is no excuse for unlawful sexual conduct" and somehow I just know that I'm going to be blamed for this even though all I'm doing is reading this book. Heck, I don't even like boys -- I like girls, generally 30, maybe 40, years older than this kid -- who is, at this point, feeling my knee up like a banker feels up a showgirl underneath his regular table at the Russian Tea Room.

OK, so he's actually just trying to lift himself up out of his stroller. Finally, the child wrests himself into a standing position on the floor. I am intently staring at my book. And, of course, the train lurches and the kid, who probably wasn't too steady on his feet to begin with because he's only freakin' two years old, goes falling forward and the guy sitting in the seat across from me catches him.

"Thank you" the mom says to the guy who caught the kid.

The mom, the "sister" or whatever, and the kid get off at the next stop.

And I'm left there on the train all used up like a dirty rag.

Friday, January 15, 2010

GH1 Test

GH1 Nighttime test from Ralph Boswell on Vimeo.


This is a GH1 with a Canon SSC 50mm lens. We're at 1600 ISO and I suspect I'm at f4.0 here.*
Note the bit of jellycam warble and the flares.
Footage transcoded with NeoScene into ProRes "SQ" and brought into FCP where I hit it with some Magic Bullet color correction and a 2.35:1 matte.
All natural light. Note the blowouts from the car headlights.
Welcome to Brooklyn.

Neoscene issues are fixed. It turns out we were still running Final Cut Pro 6.0.5 and the codec needs 6.0.6 at a minimum.

Update: Things I don't like about the GH1 are yes, the codec isn't very robust and yes, the jellycam is annoying but moreover: I don't like the way the zoom breathes in autofocus mode. That might be a killer for us (you can't see it in this footage because I'm not using a zoom, it's a manual-focus lens.)
Things I do like: being able to shoot at night without lights.

Note that the real compression squonkiness is all Vimeo, the footage is more of a PITA to work with than breaky-uppy like it does in the video. Uh. Maybe if you click and go to the Vimeo page it's better. I dunno.

The Foundry makes RollingShutter which might help with jellocam ("jellycam" -- that's what Mitchell calls it) issues. But it's $500 freakin bucks!

*I dunno. Maybe I'm open all the way to f1.4? Or maybe I'm at a 2.8/4.0 split? I don't remember, it was last week.

I've been told that I don't have enough naked girls on my blog

Also, in other news:

I have a feature screenplay which is 73 pages long. That's much too short. But I know that once the re-write happens at least 10 more pages will come into it.

It totally looks like a screenplay I would write. It's way too complicated because the scenario which plays out at the end requires a kind of logic which takes the whole damn movie to explain. And I think we change point of view at the end. Heck, I know we do. We just never realized who our Horatio was.

But there's giant robot mayhem. And some fun characters who do either evil or heroic things. Sometimes both.

I can't find the correct link to credit this picture, it's from a naked-girls-smoking site of some kind (which I suppose you'd expect). Somehow it came through The World's Best Ever.

Scalzi's, Twitter's, and Pages


God, I must be almost exactly John Scalzi's age. Funny thing about our generation is we don't seem to complain that "you kids got it so much easier!" -- 'cause, well, you just don't (good luck finding a job BTW), and we don't complain "things used to be so much better back in the old days" -- because vinyl records cost so freakin' much.

I do have loads of stuff to say on the analog vs digital debate, I just don't feel like saying it right now. A lot of it involves RAIA equalization curves and transistor radios. Most of it has to do with mastering.

A $30 camera dolly (via a Bill Cunningham tweet.)

What would happen if a city - sized asteroid crashed into the Earth (via a Chance Shirley tweet).

I'm on page 70 of the new screenplay. The whole thing needs a dialog and detail pass. Heck, our lead character's "six things that need fixing" has to be made more clear. I suspect that's 20 pages of added stuff (well, at least 10) which will help flesh out the story. Then I gotta start shooting plates of New York getting itself blowed up.

Guitar Fridays


I was thinking that maybe I would stuff all my guitar-related things on a Friday post. Maybe not, but maybe.

Tyrannosaurus Mouse had a rehearsal on Wednesday. We learned things like:
  • The Traynor guitar amp is awesome
  • I don't actually know how to use it

I couldn't get the "dirty" channel to sound any good at this rehearsal. But I realized that there are about 4 too many knobs on the amplifier for me to actually understand its gain structure. I was trying to use it as a two-channel amp (by plugging in a Fender reverb/vibrato foot pedal which... almost worked... ) and I couldn't figure out how to get channel 1 to work for me. But I could make the "clean" channel distort beautifully. A nice big fat warm beautiful sound. Ethan suggested that if I wanted to have a clean sound all I needed to do was "turn down the volume at the guitar". I looked at him like he was insane.
Still, I need to figure out how the Traynor amps work so I can consistently get a good overdrive and clean sounds from one. I suspect it was the fact that there are something like three different "master" volumes. Maybe I should read the manual.

Nah.

Furthermore:
  • Lou, our drummer, is an illustrator. Ethan totally ratted him out to me after our first rehearsal when we realized we needed a "Tyrannosaurus Mouse". There are two illustrations which are super awesome which Lou will be rendering out so we can have copies of them (and make T-shirts). I can't wait to show them off.
  • Lou needs a web site.

And also
  • We are very good at being a pompous and giant band. Which is exactly what Tyrannosaurus Mouse is supposed to be.
*****
Here are my notes about gig bags suggested by Ethan:
Mooradian (small company, nice guys, Carmine Street carries them)
Levys (Carmine Street Guitars carries them)
Reunion Blues (costs about twice as much as Mooradian -- see update below)
findcases.com
David Gage on Walker street, is a Mooradian dealer
*****
My leaning/interest however is in an SKB rectangular soft case with "backpack"-style shoulder straps. Canal Hi-Fi and Amazon carry SKB. I'm thinking rectangular would be easier to carry effects, cables, and sheet music in.

Here's a recording we made in the rehearsal studio of our song "Jabberwocky". It begins with us trying to remember figure out who starts the song. That's pretty much how all our rehearsals go.


*****
I think I've decided that I don't actually want MIDI pedals, I want a keyboard player. The only reason I wanted MIDI pedals is because once in the mid-80's when performing at a club in Dover, NJ, I played with pedals and afterward the pretty bartender made a point of tell me I was a "really good musician".
*****
Update (via the comment below): The Reunion Blues Continental case actually looks pretty cool. And it's $170 most places it seems. Also, Carmine Street Guitars carries them. I still kinda wish it were square because then there'd be even more room for effects and things.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

In Today's News --


Andrew Kramer shows off his new 3D flares plugin which we're going to need if we're going to blow up New York City in Day 2.

You know what's hard? Making movies for under $10K. Whew.

Today I threw away the orange juice I bought last March. Proving that I am, indeed, a bachelor. Having orange juice in the refrigerator. From March. It's now January.

Serving you --



I'm just here to help you. I know you've been sitting all alone wondering "What about Drew's 1980 Hagstrom Viking? Did he ever do anything about his bridge problem?"

Well yes. If you'll recall, my bridge wouldn't let me set the intonation of any kind of normal strings -- it just didn't have enough play in it. And, unfortunately, it wouldn't just let me slide the bridge because of the way it's made -- with little collars which need to fit into holes in the guitar.

Ethan lent me a Tune-O-Matic bridge and I set it up on the guitar and now it sounds great!

Here are two pictures of the guitar with the new bridge on it. You can see the holes (which go into the solid part of the guitar and don't affect the sound) for the old bridge.

And lastly, the old bridge (with an apple for reference.)

The guitar plays perfectly in tune from top to bottom. The bridge seems to have formed itself perfectly against the guitar.

And that's that!

Bitch Slap

via Bill Martell:



I think the use of blatant bluescreen/greenscreen compositing interesting. Completely from the "don't hide it just do it" school.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Madel


The thinking now is that the new cat's name is Madel which is Yiddish for cute little orange cat young girl.

To Vary-ize My Sundriness

On page 66 of this Day 2 screenplay. I don't have the "five-point-finale" worked out but it turns out the love scene, which I didn't think was going to be in this movie, shows up on page 62 or 63, right where it belongs.

Drop.io is another file-sharing thingy. But you can share video edits live (I think) with it which is potentially very interesting.

More information about MIDI bass pedals than you want to know. Most of it is so far out of date it has Compuserve links.

A rational Google response to Chinese attempts to hack the accounts of human rights activists.

The Asylum's take on the reviews they get. The unfortunate thing about them is that they seem to be resigned to making "bad" movies, they don't really care. They certainly enjoy making the pictures but they don't really care if they're good or not. I would have figured that by now they'd have made a good one or two. Just by accident if for no other reason. ;-)

Scalzi, on Obama, is right again. He might be right about Conan O'Brian too but I don't care about late night talk shows so phpthth.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sic Transit Gloria Kittycat


This picture was taken by my sister. She wrote "In Transit" as the subject line. I'm not too sure where this picture was taken. Possibly in my sister's living room. That is clearly her dog, Chien, in the background. Obviously kitty is not too freaked out by being near big fuzzy animals. That's good because Pushkin can do all the freaking out for the two of them.

Oh look, she has an "M" on her forehead, just like Pushkin. Maybe they both like Fritz Lang.

It was Decided


That Pushkin needed a kitten. Now technically I suppose this means my parents are getting a new cat but that's not how it's being advertised.

At present she is nameless. My first thought is "Polenta". She seems soft and squishy. ;-)

Neoscene Update


So Neoscene still doesn't work for me, although it works for Mitch. But Jake from Cineform wrote back to me:

"We're working on a new build that will iron out these issues. Stay tuned. I will let you know when it is ready."

That makes me feel better in that now I know I'm not the only one. It would be nice to be able to test our post-production process using ProRes422 Quicktimes before we go into production.

I would be showing you examples of how nice the low-light photography is with the GH-1 and a 50mm Canon f1.4 lens. On the street in New York you can't shoot at night at 1600 ISO with that lens all the way open because everything will blow out. Which is a nice problem to have.

Flares are not as pretty as with the HVX200 though. So we're going to have to watch that. The look of the HVX with that Letus adapter is very very nice.

The 50mm is similar to an 80mm lens in 35mm motion picture film. So it makes a nice (and, incidentally, cheap) and fast portrait lens.

The Song Lyrics Generator


Strikes again.

Sat alone bleeding into the sun
A song by Drew

Verse One:
The blue daytime of the cloud occluded air
There's nothing else to compare
Golden witch whose kisses turn to ashes in my mouth
Where all but love is grey

Chorus:
Sat alone bleeding into the sun
You're not the only one
Her hair blotting out the daytime light
Your tv tonight

Verse Two:
Eyes like knives, skin like armor
Trying to keep an eye on you
A hollow shell of a man, shall never love again
It dried a stain.

Chorus Two:
Sat alone bleeding into the sun
Come back and bite my faceI think you realize what I've done
Her hair blotting out the daytime light
Many times I couldn’t think of the right things to write

Chorus to Fade

Look, I'm not the only one to rip off Video Copilot

No, here's a teaser for an unmade "steampunk" picture (via SF Signal) called The Marionette Unit.

The Marionette Unit - Inception Trailer from Fun Size Studios on Vimeo. The title treatment? Same background that Clonehunter has. Video Copilot shows you how.

So, of course


after we delivered the final movie to the lab we discovered two devastating problems with the picture. Ugh. Two composites which three QC checks hadn't brought up. And they were ugly too. In one, a portion of the background in a bluescreen shot simply disappears, and in another the garbage matte protecting someone's face -- remains when they exit stage left, leaving a neat little blue hole in the middle of the screen. Bleh.
So I fixed and re-rendered those things and then Final Cut decided it didn't want to connect to the new footage properly so I had to go back to an earlier autosaved version of the project and blah...

Miep Gies died. Still, nobody knows who betrayed Anne Frank.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Another Monday

I delivered the master of Clonehunter to the lab today. I hope there aren't any problems with it. That always makes me very nervous.

*******

I finally got a computer to make DVDs. I don't even remember what I did but it involved AfterEffects, some mpeg 2 files, a shotgun, and a bottle of whiskey.

*******

I'm working on piecing together some musical sections to make what will be a 20-minute piece of music for Tyrannosaurus Mouse.

*****

Neoscene still doesn't work. I've uninstalled and re-installed it. I've trashed the preferences to Final Cut. This is really annoying. I just want to make ProRes422 files and bring them into Final Cut Pro without crashing.

*****

I'm up to page 50 on the screenplay for Day 2. I'm trying to follow the beat sheet as well as I can but as you know, that can be hard. So I'm changing the beat sheet to reflect changes. Already people who should have been killed have lived and people who were to live have been whacked. We're about to get into the section where we kill off most of our main characters.

Will there be a love scene on page 65? I doubt it. I think things are just a bit too tense for that right now. There may be a "love" scene but it'll probably be a guy giving a gal a gun. That's so romantic.

Does the script make sense? I'm not sure I've illustrated exactly what happens but I'm tryin'. I'm tryin'.

*****

Another kitty is coming to my parent's house. So far her name is "Pushkin's kitten". Hmm. Apparently someone told my dad the new cat was coming. Glad I wasn't there for that. ;-)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

What Am I Really Doing?


Tomorrow I deliver Clonehunter to the lab.

I'm also up to page... 36? on Day 2.

I am fighting the computer gods and trying to make a DVD. Seriously, my studio can't make a bloody DVD. We have what... upwards of six computers and none of them can reliably burn a DVD? Eef.

I'm also fighting the Neoscene gods and trying to make it so that my GH1 will actually work.

But the most important thing is that we have both Day 2 and Earthkiller ready for Cannes.

You know what works? Sugarsync. I keep copies of screenplays on multiple computers and it really helps.