Saturday, April 30, 2011

Day 4 of Android Insurrection

We wrapped today at 9:01pm.
We shot MOP (mit out producer).
Only missed two scenes!
We're cutting so much dialog in this picture a fear has been expressed that we're going to have a 45-minute movie.
I've promised to put in a big dialog-heavy scene.

Nat Cassidy, Virginia Logan, Joe Chapman, Tom Rowen, Juanina Arias, and Jeff Wills all want to kill you.
Without a producer I tend to laugh and talk and not get much done. But Tom (!!!) and Libby would scowl at me when I wasn't shooting, so we stayed mostly on schedule.
We missed out on one scene because we felt we needed a bigger set for it. And another shot or two we're going to get tomorrow when our android feels like throwing a German-speaking sniper with goggles over her back.
Sarah-Doe Osborne as Yurra-1.
There was Chinese food. Oh and I got some pineapple-infused Skyy vodka. Which I of course had with pineapple.
Later on Joe brought out some orange juice and vodka.

Two For Today

Underground Audio is a music and post-production studio in Brooklyn.
This is an officer's uniform of the Scots Guards.

Steambob Coming Along

There are two classes of robots in our Android Insurrection. One is the arachnidroid you've seen as the key art. And this here is the beginnings of the bipedal android -- the one that's used as the standard 'bot for almost everything else.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Why Firefly Sucks... and so do you (Part I)

OK, now many years ago two friends of mine who I won't name but have the initials Daryl Boling and Ato Essandoh got into a debate about the merits of the movie Kill Bill. Either party took fairly strong positions on whether the movie was "awesome" or it "sucked" and it got me to thinking.
If two people, people whose opinion on things dramatic I trust, can disagree so fundamentally, what in the world is going on?

Obviously, different people respond differently to the same dramatic presentation. Even non-crazy people may feel very different about a movie or a play or a book or whatever.

Now my idea is that different people weight different factors when they decide if they like something or not. Many people are story snobs. The story must be exact. Sometimes that means that the story has to work out exactly right. Other times it means the story can knowingly twist up the story. But story is ueber alles. (This, oddly, is the trouble most screenwriters -- myself included -- seem to have.)
But other people are all over the acting. They don't even care about the story as long as the moments are right. And many others are genre addicts. They'll watch every zombie picture or space adventure they can get their hands on.

Most people are a complicated amalgam of these things. They weight different parts of the dramatic experience differently. And perhaps the increase or decrease in quality of one of the parts of the dramatic experience also affects how important the other parts of the experience are.

I made some visual aids to demonstrate some ideas of what I believe some people might feel, and their relative strengths. I used Wordle.

 So when one sophisticated person says to another "I can't believe you liked Firefly. It sucks" we might perhaps do well to look into why they might say something suchwise.

In our particular case, a man who I will give the pseudonym David Ian Lee expressed the idea that he simply couldn't get into the Firefly series but he was aware that Nat Cassidy and I did, in fact, like it.

At first Mr. Lee dismissed us as (in essence) of having such a strong genre bias toward science fiction that we would overlook any of the other issues in the series. But I disagreed because clearly Nat and I watch many other kinds of things that do not have a sci-fi genre to protect them and we are largely too sophisticated to let a genre get in the way of our reason and judgement.

But something David said about his "not being able to get into it" reminded me of something Alex Epstein wrote on his blog about the Firefly series.

I'm convinced that FIREFLY failed not because it was a space western, but because Joss Whedon's storytelling might have been a bit too surprising for the broadcast audience. You just never knew where an episode was going to end up. And on broacast, that's not necessarily a plus.
From:
I was watching Firefly on disc. Is it just me, or do the acts sometimes just go flying off in an entirely new direction from the previous act?

I've watched maybe half the episodes, and I have no idea what the template is. No idea what a "typical" Firefly episode is. No idea what the flavors of the acts are.

That's good and I also see why that made it harder to get an audience. It's good because you really don't know what's coming. Even on Buffy you could figure out where the episode had to go. There were surprises (he killed Jenny Calendar!!!!) but the act structure was fairly normal.

That means the story is more involving. You can't complete the story in your head. You really have to pay attention.

And from the comments:
Genre plots are so ingrained that you can’t really get rid of them. It seems like Joss & Co. were fond of the bait and switch: you think you’re watching a “submarine story” (stock scifi plot) when really you’re watching an origins/love story (stock wagon train plot); you think you’re watching Mal the reluctant husband teach his young bride to be a strong woman in the frontier (stock Dr. Quinn-type) when really she’s a black widow and the whole crew has already been caught in her literal net (stock spy intrigue, but it’s not what we thought we were watching). The stakes for each genre interpretation are different, and the act breaks you mention are the moment when they pull out the rug and tell us what we’ve really been watching. It’s a good surprise, but I have had a suspicion that it only really works with people who are similarly well-versed in what to expect from genre TV.


So... I'm not saying one person is right and another is wrong. That's pretty boring actually. But I am saying that one person really liking the way the structure is changed might lose someone who thinks "everything that happens here is random".

Which, if I were a better writer, I could explain better.

And so endeth the first lesson about Firefly, taste, and TV.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bunk

Our own Jeff Wills blogged about his experience so far making Android Insurrection. Anything good he has to say about us is of course lies brought on by a slight bout of Stockholm Syndrome. For instance he doesn't recall that he was actually attacked by a giant robot. Hopefully he'll keep those memories repressed.
Furthermore we're taking great delight in exploiting Jeff's skills as an acrobat to make him do fight choreography for us. And we've developed a new carry called the "robot carry" which you use when you need to carry a robot but want to look good while doing it.
Here Jeff Wills acts with a microphone on a boom.  
Please do not hit the robot's head on the door as you run through though.

The problem with Jeff Wills is his unrelenting and smoldering sexuality. You can't avoid it. Just look at the guy. He just oozes sex. It gets all over everything. We have to wash the set down after each take. I have to wear a damp towel over my head because I just get so hot and bothered.

I'll be in my bunk.

Nyuszi

My renders are taking nigh on 5 minutes a frame today. So I'm working on other things.

Like for instance, the Pandora Machine Wiki. The Wiki isn't quite ready for prime-time but it's getting there. And it sure has improved the content on the Pandora Machine homepage.
Via.

I'm going to go into more detail about this eventually but Plural Eyes is working for us! Woo!

Now to re-sync a pair of acts which got really messed up by one of our editors. Where they trashed the link to the original dialog. Right now I'm listening to camera dialog. I may end up going in there and re-syncing each clip by hand. Ahem.

Here's David Campfield's Dog Whisperer.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Me of Little Faith

I don't actually believe in shotgun microphones. Uh. That's actually a long and complicated subject.



Here's the thing: even the very best shotguns (and I'm talking Schoeps and to some degree Sanken here) sound somewhere between "meh" and "poopity" off-axis. When you get to editing dialog it's much easier to have a nice hypercardioid that sounds good off-axis (I'm talking Schoeps again, with the cheap exception of one of the good Oktava mics like we use.*)
So what do you get with a shotgun? Well you get less sound from off-axis. But that sound you do get sounds more yukkity. Will the airplane flying overhead be a bit quieter? Sure. But when you move the microphone from one character to another you'll get a little squonky "swish" sound.

The advantage to wireless lavaliere microphones is that they sound equally crappy all the time, so you don't have to worry about them getting "swishy". The biggest issue with lavs is that they're prone to clothing noise when you try to hide them under shirts. It's very difficult to not hear the damn mic rubbing against whatever jacket or jewelry the actor has on.

The main "Hollywood" boom mic is the Schoeps CMC6. They're good mics. They sound good indoors, outdoors, wherever-you-want. They're a bit sensitive to moisture, but that's probably just because like many "pencil" mics they have interchangeable capsules and a bit of schmutz can get in there if you keep removing the heads.

Now, I'll tell ya, I just looked up the price of those Schoeps and they're not as expensive as I thought they were. Less than a thousand bucks.



This is the Oktava you want. It's nigh on $300, which is a little less than 1/3 the price of the Schoeps. I've done tests on both mics. Off-axis I'd say they're both equally as even - sounding. In other words if you're turn the microphone just as someone starts a line you won't hear a "swish" in the sound of their dialog -- they'll just get a little louder as the microphone turns toward them. The Schoeps has a little "rise" in the upper mids which can sound "better" on a lot of voices, but ironically the Oktava is more "neutral" sounding. In either case, you're not going to immediately notice that one sounds "better" than the other.

*You need to buy from the Sound Room. They have the "good" Oktava mics. The difference is in the quality control -- the QC of the Oktava mics you get elsewhere can really suck.

How Do You Know When I Am Rendering?

The answer is, I blog like this.

So, the other evening I drunkenly emailed James Knapp, the author of his pretty brilliant "zombie" trilogy: State of Decay, The Silent Army, and Element Zero. You see, he killed a character I liked. So, being around midnight and these Pear cider bottles in the 'fridge colluded in in the act of my writing the author of those books an email. I, at some point, threatened to put "Leichenesser plasma flechettes" in Android Insurrection. James Knapp countered that they should be "laser-guided leichenesser plasma flechettes" which is, of course, patently ridiculous and overkill. Unless, of course, you don't want to deal with wind velocity and gravitational force affecting the trajectory of your flechette rounds. I'll have to talk to our cast about that. I kind of like not having to take the curvature of the Earth into account when I'm taking out a Mark IV combat drone...

Lookit Jeff Wills' blog. He talks about Chinese food. Plus apparently he's making some movie.

Via.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Whoa!

I can seriously watch this baby elephant all day long. The way his ears make like air brakes makes me laugh every time. And check out his fishtailing as he goes back into the grass...
Math Babes is a good idea. But it could be better. Like doing math actually calculates the volume of breasts or something. Unfortunately it does not help with my Serenity problem. I even asked on Reddit and got good answers... if I knew math.

ect>

Monday, April 25, 2011

Hoping for a Replacement

Anybody else convolve Elton John's "Beyond the Yellow Brick Road" with Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush"?

I mean, they're both about gold. Sort of.
They both mention replacements. One a replacement for a lover, and the other a soldier.

Neil Young's is a lot more poignant. The line "and I felt like getting high" always gets a big round of applause at his concerts but it's one of the most tragic lines in rock and roll.

I Have Decided to Become King of England

But you have no legitimacy.
I have an army.
You can't do that. The British Constitution clearly states...
States what? I don't see any Constitution.
OK, maybe I went off half-cocked about that "Constitution" thing but you can't just go declaring yourself King.
Yes I can.
How do you go about doing that?
The way everyone else has. By declaring myself the lawful King.
And what if no one believes you?
Remember that army I was talking about?
So you plan to use military force to take the crown from its present owner?
That's been the plan every other time someone who wasn't a son or daughter of the previous King or Queen has done it. How do you think their ancestors became King?
I suppose there is a precedent...
I'm thinking about invading from Normandy. Sort of a reverse WWII.
Or... a Norman invasion?
Hey, it worked once.
And what do you plan to do with the present royal family?
I'm thinking Australia. Maybe New Zealand.
So, exile?
I'm ruthless, but not without mercy.
And what about the Magna Carta and all that?
I didn't sign no Magna Carta.
So you're just going to march in there and tell everyone you're King and that's that, huh?
What part of autocratic dictatorship do you not understand?
Any special laws you intend to enact as the new Monarch?
Anybody calling a redhead a "ginger" will be smacked by an officer of the Crown. Also, I'm going to eliminate the aristocracy.
Um. Er.
I'm the King. I can rule as I like.

Video Songs

So I dig Jake Conte and the video song and Pamplemoose and everything, but it just occurred to me that the video song is technically a copyright violation unless they've gone and gotten the picture synchronization rights from the publisher and composer. Which I doubt.



Our copyright law is really from the pre-MTV age. I don't actually know how MTV handles sync rights in the videos it shows, I'm kind of under the impression they've knocked out deals with the record companies and the publishers -- and those publishers and record companies have also (by this point) forced all their artists/writers to conform to letting MTV use their music (at least in the US) for no additional fees.
But I seriously doubt that Jake Conte has negotiated with the Gaga legal team. And so far, nobody probably cares too much because they figure it just works out for Gaga and company just fine.
Although the question I've been asking for nigh on 20 years now is why does Weird Al Yankovic seem to have to ask permissions of artists to do their songs? It seems to me that a parody is pretty much right in there with fair use. Is it the sync rights he needs to get the song on MTV? Who knows?
Finding out this information is spectacularly difficult. That's mostly because the copyright law is so complex that even reporters who (vaguely) understand it can't put it in simple enough terms to write factual articles about it.
And there we are.
As it turns out, I like Jake Conte's version of Judas better. It's very Nine Inch Nails, surprisingly...
UPDATE: Weird Al, apparently, just wants permission from the original artists. He realizes he doesn't need it. But it also makes it easier for him to get credited (read: "royalties") as a writer. Which is interesting.

Answer the Question

So, apparently in our cast and crew we are divided by gender in respect to who has seen Blade Runner. Sigh. Where did all the girls go?

Anyway, we ask that cast fill out a questionnaire for the contact list and such. And at the end I usually put a funny question. Or at least a question I think is funny. Here's the question, and the (randomly ordered) responses:


Q. The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over but it can't. Not without your help.*


  • Robot turtle will eat me.
  • i'm busy blowing shit up, little girl!
  • Am I wearing sunblock
  • What do you mean, I'm not helping?!
  • I don't want salmonella
  • Because I can't get to it or something.  Otherwise I'd help it.
  • 1100110011111010110
  • Bellware has me tied up? How the hell am I supposed to Flip the tortoise?
  • I'm in a committed relationship. That slut turtle's just gonna have to wait.
  • it owes me 100 bucks
  • Wait, what desert am I in?


*Note that I messed up the question a little bit 'cause I was doing it from memory.

Stake Land Box Office

The box office for Stake Land is in at Box Office Mojo. One screen, $6900. That's pretty respectable, ain't it?
Hooray!
The movie is pretty sweet. It's certainly one of, if not the best, horror pictures you'll see in a theater this year.

New Battle: NY, Day 2 artwork

The evolution of the name of this picture is a bit unusual. Our working title was "Day 2" and that came from Montserrat Mendez saying "Day 1; aliens take over the earth, Day 2; we take it back." That logline really stuck (and we have to thank Mozz for that.)
But then the Battle: LA movie came out and, well, clearly our movie is "Battle: NY". But I think "Battle: NY, Day 2" is even more amusing.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Stacked against us

Welcome to the exciting world of low/no-budget world of independent filmmaking! Whee!
So, New York City is charging $300 for a permit application. At least they're still not charging for police and street closures. I love how all the people they interview are like "that's just a drop in the bucket". Yeah, for a multi-million dollar picture it is. But for a micro studio like us that's upwards of 5% of our budget.
Of course, the entire system is stacked against us. The big soundstages made sure the law giving filmmakers tax credits doesn't apply to productions that don't use their soundstages. Which, of course, we cannot afford.
So yeah, it's hard being a small business.
Oh, and on that same vein, we've discovered of late that cable VOD stations are insisting on closed-captioning of movies. For an outside company to do that for us, it looks like that'll be $900 to $1500 out-of-pocket money to get those done. Which economically makes the deliverable requirements of closed-captions  them simply absurd -- we can't make any money with VOD if we have to spend a thousand more dollars just to get them the movie. There's a slight chance we could figure out how to do this in-house, but I'm sure that 1. it'll take a long time to figure out and 2. we'll expend a lot of hours only to have to make a DigiBeta tape (hello 1995) and make a mistake on it somehow and we'll end up owing the VOD service more than we get paid.

OK

Who re-patched the output to the speakers on the Mac?

You realize you patched the speakers into a 1/8" audio input, right? No?

+++++

OK, that's not what's important, what's important is that I wrote an IMDB review of Stake Land, which I saw again last night. For some odd reason I ended up in the Special Thanks. No idea why. But I stand by my review in any case. The movie is very cool.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Android Insurrection

The new art has been created.
And that's the overly-handsome Joe Chapman with his very own BFG. We couldn't show his face because his handsomeness would be all distracting.
This makes me think that maybe these big 'bots can fly. Or at least drop from the ceiling some some creepy spiders or something.
Ian Hubert designed the robot (yes, that's the actual robot in the movie).
I don't know exactly who did the art but Ray Haboush at Halcyon was in charge of it.
And yeah, I really wanna see this movie.

Lifeform

 Here are some creepazoidalicious pictures of props from Brian Schiavo's new movie Lifeform.
 Brian and Christine have been sculpting away like mad. Looks awesome.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Depth of Field

You know what I don't hear about anymore? Depth-of-field.

There was a time when distributors and buyers would complain about people shooting on video vs shooting on film because of the noticable difference in depth-of-field (in other words, how out-of-focus the background is) in 35mm. Shallower focus is "better".

And distributors and buyers could actually recognize that video "look" of an all-but-infinite depth of field caused by the tiny imagers the video cameras use(d). They prefer(ed) the look of 35mm where the subject is in focus and the background falls out of focus.

So then a whole bunch of companies like Letus made adapters so you could use 35mm still lenses with video cameras -- with similar depth-of-field results. Those things were clunky as all get out to use, but they looked great. The result was big portrait-like looks where the background and lights would get soft and bloom in a way that cinematographers (and buyers) liked.

And then Nikon and Canon and everyone and their grandmothers made DSLR's that had the same (or even larger) imagers than 35mm motion-picture cameras. And those cameras look even more awesome.

Here's a picture of Pushkin. Taken with an iPhone.
And the end result of all these advances? Nobody cares about shallow or deep focus anymore. Nobody cares if you shoot on a Red, or a four-thirds, a Canon 7D, or a Panavision with Kodak 500T. No buyer or distributor cares what you shoot on anymore. Sure, if you shot on a video camera from the late 1990's they might say "this looks like poo" but other than that, you can pretty much do what you want.

Which is good, because pulling focus is a major pain in my chops on set. Shooting with deeper depth-of-field makes the picture look a little more in-focus all around. I mean, even when I miss a focus mark, it's still in focus. And the slightly smaller four-thirds imager on our Panasonic GH1 (slightly larger than 16mm motion picture film) works out great for that.

Now we have the best of both worlds -- a nice balance between shallow depth-of-field and blowing focus all the time. It also means a lot fewer retakes. Just ask our actors how many times I have to do another take because I blow the focus. Probably no more than a half-dozen times a day. Right?

OK, maybe a dozen...

While waiting for clothes to dry

I am not being stalked by a Russian stripper.
There are five editors, not including me, working on Earthkiller.
It looks like the movie we're shooting now is going to be called Android Insurrection. Even though if it were up to me we'd call it "Android Insurrection 3020 AD: The Fall of Mankind".

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dual 6-core

So, it turns out that if you really want dual 6-core processors, you're still talking somewhere near $5000 if you go PC or Mac. But as PSA points out in the comments below, there's a lot of value in building a Hackintosh. The approximately $1000 hack-n-tosh described in that article is about the equivalent of a Quad-core Mac Pro.
But I want a whole lot more computer than that.
And, as it turns out, my theory that as the machines get much more expensive (like $5K expensive) the Macs and the PC's start to be about the same price (even if you build one on your own) seems to be correct.
I guess this is a bomb disposal suit but the helmet is awesome.
For five thousand bucks the computer sure as heck better last me five years.
But it does look like getting a Mac in the $5K range is about the same as getting a PC in the $5K range. With the advantage that the Mac will dual-boot (for the PC applications I use, running Windows in a "window" is probably not practical.)
But oof. I don't want to spend that kind of money.
Actually, all of this is academic. I don't have that kind of money.
Via.

+++++

According to our man in the field, Maduka Steady, the 12-core really is significantly faster than the 8-core we have. The fact is that the computer we'd end up getting would be about $6000. That's $500/month for a year, which is more than we pay on rent in our office.
So option B is to build a simple hackintosh for about a thousand bucks. Hoof. We've managed to get away with not having to buy a computer for at least 4 years now (we got the dual quad-core for Alien Uprising I think...) but we're just going to have to.

Stake Land

This is my buddy Jim Mickle's second feature.

I thought his Mulberry Street was pretty brilliant. And I was fortunate enough to get to see a work-in-progress cut of Stake Land (I actually took David Frey as my date -- man, I gotta get out more --). So I'm very excited to see Stake Land in the theater.

Remember, it's all about the first weekend. The picture plays on Friday through Sunday at the IFC in New York and then goes on to a limited theatrical run.

Stakeland

My buddy Jim's new movie is coming out.

I yabber about it more here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

So, I screwed up

I was supposed to be finished with Earthkiller by now. And I'm not. And that puts our distributor behind for Cannes. And I feel bad.
We're working very hard on getting visual effects shots up on the server. But we're behind. And it's all my fault.

Sara-Doe Osborne and Virginia Logan in "Android Insurrection 3020 AD: The Fall of Man".
I've been told that I should be more proactive with forcing all our post-production people to communicate with me. Maybe each Monday and Friday will be "What have you done, what are you doing?" Day.
It's just that I feel like that jerkbucket producer who's always harassing the writers and the post-production people. Of course, that may simply be the producer's job. So now I'm gonna be that guy.

Now: everybody. Get back to work.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Computerized Things for your Ears

http://www.earslap.com/projectslab/otomata?q=8k656s4r6b Chance Shirley made that bit of music. It surprising how many directors are musicians, no? And ha! Yes, I called Chance a musician even though he's a drummer! Get it! Drummer jokes! Whoo. I slay me.


Q: How do you make a banjo players car more aerodynamic?
A: Take the pizza delivery sign off the roof.

Whoo hoo! That pear beer has gone to my head.

Q: What do you call a guitarist who breaks up with his girlfriend?
A: Homeless…



Now. There are other cool electronic instruments around and about. This Korg is kind of beautiful.
Q: What’s the difference between a guitarist and a pizza?
A: A pizza can feed a family of four.

Look, I've had a hard day and now I'm stoked on all kinds of wonderful modern medicines including a small amount of alcohol. 


Did you know I had a  =whole point about all of this? Yes, I did. The scale I usually play is 
E,F, G#, A, B, C, D#, E -- I don't know if it has an official name.
But the thing Chance did at the beginning of this post -- the notes are presumably Hang Drum based --  D A Bb C D E F A C 
Cool, huh?


I took too many drugs to stay awake. I had a stressful day. Feel better now. 

Cost of Computers

Now, I suppose one could argue that working on computers is what we do here. So there's a good argument for having a top of the line machine at my desk, if only to keep me from yelling at it.
But really, a 12-core Mac is $5000? Somebody better pay me a lot of money for one of our movies then!
Here's my dilemma -- I need a second Mac for editing/compositing and I need a new PC because my PC's are dying. So a big option for us is to simply get a bad-ass Mac and run it dual-boot.
But then again, you can get a pretty bad-ass PC for about $2500.
+++++

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Robowar 3010 AD: The Fall of Mankind

So we've been shooting shorter days than I was expecting. Yeah, we may have front-loaded the picture schedule with shorter days, but that's not entirely the case. I was expecting set building to take longer than it has. But few of the sets require much "special" stuff (like working ceilings you can crawl up into). So the builds have gone quicker than I estimated.
Also, because we're shooting in what I ostensibly think of as a looser and more "documentary" feel, I'm not doing as many retakes for focus issues.
Virginia Logan with her BFG and pleather pants. What more, exactly, do you want?
Are we getting all the dialog in closeups? Yup. Are we getting all the coverage? I think so. But, for instance, we only did 40 takes of picture yesterday. And no more than a dozen sound takes. We even did reshoots of a closeup from an earlier day.
But we're still finishing pretty early.
And that even includes a day like yesterday when we spent a considerable portion of the day doing something else entirely -- taking still photos for our sales rep to make the key art with. He (and his artist) had/have something very specific in mind so we were actually taking pictures early in the day, uploading them to his server, and getting notes at lunch time so we could shoot more stills to upload to him.
As we all know, actually making the movie isn't what's important. Delivering stills and properly formatted DM&E tracks is what's important.
It's critical that we get stills to our rep for this movie by the end of yesterday, and that we get as many visual effects shots for Earthkiller by Wednesday, and that we get visual effects and footage for this movie by next Tuesday, and we get screener DVD's of Day 2 to our North American rep by tomorrow.
So I can't really complain when I'm being harassed for our movies. Nope. Karma police will pick me up and gimme a ride downtown if I do that.
Sara-Doe Osborne as the lazer-sword wielding android Yurra-1.
And the one thing I've learned to be thankful for is how incredibly prepared our actors are. Even when we pull really jerktard moves like removing pages and pages of dialog just before we go to shoot. Everyone's really en pointe and it means the only time we have to cut in the middle of a take is my freakin' fault (usually because I "cut" rather than push the shutter button down halfway for autofocus.)

Joe Chapman as Hammermill with an EMP grenade in one hand and a BFG in the other.
It also helps that all our actors are gorgeous.
I don't know what he was referring to in a recent email, but Joe used the title "Robowar 3010 AD: The Fall of Mankind" which is basically the best title of any movie ever.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Awesome Libby Csulik

The awesome Libby Csulik shot some inserts of our art director Joe Chapman as Hammermill in Alien Robot Holocaust today. And, like I usually do, at the very top of the first take she snapped off a still instead of rolling. And here is that still.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Today in the Pandora Machine

I quit Buzz. You can too.
Tom Rowen's puppy. She's cute, but farty.
Tom Rowen edits Earthkiller.

If you buy this book you get two free cookies. Unfortunately that deal is totally worth it. I wish it were a further walk to Milk&Cookies because then I'd get more exercise.
The talented and handsome Vinnie Marano tries to prevent Tom from getting any work done.

Puppy Falls Down

If we're going to be honest with ourselves "Puppy Falls Down" is what we should call the entire internet. That, or "Hampster With A Grape Dot Com."

I'm a wee bit excited about software subscriptions to the Adobe suite. Our man in Birmingham, Chance, gets the old hat tip for that one.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Your Things for Today

David Frey shows us the unpainted BFG that Moony parties with. We've had to move Sunday's shoot date, which makes everything easier on everyone.
David Frey rockin' the BFG. Hey ladies -- notice the wolf on the wall behind him!
SLAM is a circus place in Brooklyn.
Circus Warehouse is another place in... LIC?
Alex Epstein's TV writing FAQ.
Image Entertainment is releasing The Asylum's Mega Python. Which is... interesting.

Bunnity Video

This little bunny rabbit is a good relaxation video if you're feeling a bit stressed.

Arion pedalboard for sale

I'm selling my old Arion pedalboard.

It hasn't been used very much in the many years I've had it. It does work though, and it's a nice case for effects. Plus, it comes with three effects: a distortion (the "Metal Master"), chorus, and flanger.

As far as I know, Arion no longer makes the pedalboard/road case anymore. It has a 110v (2-prong) input and 6 DC outputs. It's made so you have have your effects pedals all powered from the wall and pre-patched so that you just open and remove the top and you're ready to go.

The effects sound pretty good.
The way the pedalboard looks on stage.

With top attached.
Closed top.
The Metal Master. Two outputs: the second can be "soft" distortion or clean.
Flanger bottom

Metal Master bottom.
Stereo flanger top.

Stereo chorus top.

Chorus bottom.
Here I am playing the effects. For the "Metal Master" I start out clean and go back and forth with the pedal engaged and disengaged. I'm playing a Les Paul Custom guitar going through a Celtic Edana amp (which is a clone of a '65 Marshall JTM45) into a Celestion Alnico Blue speaker. I'm recording mono with a Shure SM57 microphone through a Neve 1272 mic preamp and an Apogee Mini-Me A/D converter. There may be a little bit of analog limiting at the A/D converter but otherwise there are no additional effects.

I start out "clean". You can clearly hear the pedal kick on. Yes, the clean sound is somewhat "dirty" all by itself, but nothing like the pedal. I then go back and forth with the pedal on and off. And yeah, it's kinda noisy as a pedal.



I start out with the flanger on. You can hear a bit of noise as I turn it off -- I don't think that's the switch, I think it's my guitar cable. Then I play with the depth turned up.


With the chorus I start with the pedal engaged, then I turn up the "brightness", then I play the same faux-reggae with the chorus off. Then I turn the rate up to "crazy" and come back down again. Same setup as above otherwise.




What's good: it all works. It's a pretty cool pedalboard with a soft top which keeps your pedals from bouncing around in the back of the van. The 9v outputs will power most pedals. You can show up pre-wired at a gig and just plug a couple cables in and be ready to go.
What's bad: the "depth" knob on the chorus wants to pull off easily. I was thinking about gluing it on to stay tight but then decided I'd leave that up to you. The unit is old -- probably bought sometime in the late 80's. There are no audio cables and just the four power cables.
What I don't know about: I never unstuck the velcro strips and cut and placed them on any pedals. So I don't know if they need more glue or anything.

Dialnorm

Dialnorm is like a briefcase full of bunnies. 
You are having trouble with Dialnorm, aren't you? Yes. You are. You're mixing for TV broadcast and you have questions about these new silly standards. You say "why can't we just make sure our peaks don't go above 0dBfs and be done with it?" Silly girl, you can't do that.

So... dialnorm. The idea is that we want to have all the dialog levels be the same across all kinds of television programs and stations.

Here's a thread about it.
Dialnorm is just the averaged perceived loudness over the course of the program. Dolby later refined their measurement method with the "Dialogue Intelligence" algorithm, but every program, with dialogue or not, has a perceived loudness.
You can use Audioleak to find the A-weighted Leq. This will be your dialnorm.

You want to know what LAeq is, don't you? Heck, Answers.com even has an answer:
LAeq is pressure level measurement parameter. Full form of LAeq is " Equivalent continuous A-weighted sound pressure level". It is widely used around the world as an index for noise.LAeq = 10*log[1/(t2-t1) * Integration of (P2A/P20) between interval [t1 t2]]
where
LAeq = equivalent continuous A-weighted sound pressure level [dB]
p0 = reference pressure level = 20ยตPa
pA= A-weighted pressure [Pa]
t1 = start time for measurement [s]
t2 = end time for measurement [s]

Read more: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_a_LAeq#ixzz1HWm0D8BO

None of that is particularly helpful, is it now? No. It isn't. I tend to mix my dialog slammed into hard multi-band limiters peaking at about -12dB FS. The real question is where is the average level in the program? And that isn't something I bother to measure. I'm not saying it's good that I don't measure it. I'm just saying we don't do that here.

Check this out

Here's a short that was shot (mostly) at Theatresource. It's from the "Corrupting the Classics" series.



This episode was written by Naomi McDougall Jones.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

TV series

We made a big schedule change today, moving back one of our days of exterior shooting in order to gain the possibility of shooting in a rock quarry.
You could argue that's a wus-bucket move on my part so I shoot less this weekend.
But that's not the real question. The real question is: why isn't this a television series?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Lines in the Show

Ghost in the Shell makes me physically tense to watch. The dialog is so on-the-nose that I become agitated. Both the writing and the performances are excruciating. And I mean that literally.
I may have inadvertently forgotten to post this picture of my sister's dog.

Which is odd, because I'm sure the actors aren't actually that bad.

We've been doing a lot of dialog reduction on the movie which will likely be called "Termination" but is now "Alien Robot Holocaust" just because, well, don't you want to see a movie called "Alien Robot Holocaust"?
Anyway, every time there's a line and we think "Why do we need to say this?" we just cut the line.