Saturday, December 31, 2011

Exploring Options

So I broke into an abandoned house on Douglass Street and stole a Glock from a drug dealer. I took the gun to midtown where I kidnapped a doctor and forced him at gunpoint to write me a prescription for an antibiotic. Then I wrote this post on Reddit.
I'm trying to design a partnership for three pictures which makes sense for four people. Ha! Like making movies makes any sense... Robbing drug dealers in Gowanus is more remunerative, and less dangerous.

Friday, December 30, 2011

How much does it cost to be me?

My rent is 983 a month ($11676)
My utilities are a variety of things -- lets say $50/month including Internet ($600)
My office is 275 a month ($3300)
Can I get a daily stipend? How about per diem? Ha! Seriously, how about $20/day? ($7300)
That's a total of $22,876 a year. Plus taxes. I have plenty o'plans for the use of more money mind you. But that's what I figure my minimum is.
+++++
I'm just writing down random words and number here you realize. Nothing to see here. Nothing to understand.

A movie, I've just calculated, thuslike, brings in seemingly on average about 20,000. Just a few years ago I was sayin' that it brought in 24K (and saying it with an honest face). But let's hope these numbers hold and only get better.

Withstanding Ambien Walrus Attack

If you like "storm at sea" porn you'll love this video.
Mr. Kangas has scores to listen to while screenwriting.
Another advantage of our new location is that the building across the street is clearly the most zombie-proof of all New York buildings.
Actually, no kidding:

As a vital communications link, the building was designed to resist nuclear blast and fallout and be self-sufficient for two weeks in wartime conditions.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Easier to Destroy It

It sure was easier to destroy Theatresource than it was to build it in the first place. All it took was the Board of Directors deciding they didn't want to have a theater anymore.
What used to be "DigitalSource" -- our studio and office for about eight years. 
The irony is that personally this has worked out pretty well. I have a new set of partners and we have a great new space. But no more theater.
Most of the lights are down but the grid is still in the air. Of course, a theater being dismantled doesn't look substantially different than a theater being striked between shows.
I stopped by today -- probably for the last time.
The irony here is that the theater from the outside actually looks warmer and more inviting now than it has in the past few years just because there's less stuff actually in the window.
If only the landlord had been willing to rent to someone else, a new organization would have picked up the rent and moved right in. It's too bad. This Board is just made of spectacularly destructive people. They took out Theatresource at 177 MacDougal Street in what, three months?

Goodbye theater!

Complaining Day

This dang cold is really irritating. I've had it since the 11th. I've gone to the doctor (said he couldn't do anything.) And now I'm just irked. So here is me, complaining to the world, that I have a cold.
+++++
Here's the funniest conversation from yesterday:
Blair: I don't want to do any more work.
Drew: Neither do I. But unfortunately I promised a movie to be delivered in the middle of next month.
Blair: Did you shoot it yet?

Monday, December 26, 2011

LED

Cats for Gold. That's right, turn your boring old gold into nice shiny new cats.
+++++
I finally figured out what I want for Christmas. An Arri L7-C. Gimme. C'mon -- it's like a fully color-timable 1K fresnel. Fully dimmable. Under three thousand bucks. Gimme six of 'em and I'll have a non-stop rock-out party. I could light any feature with that. Even exteriors in the woods at night.
Think of how much money you'll save on not having to replace lamps. Or those trips to the infirmary when you burn your hand from touching the barn doors. You can run four of 'em on a 10-amp circuit. You could put four of them on a cheap power strip!
Tell me I can shoot 2.8 at 1600 ISO and I can shoot anything with those.
Of course the joke will be we'll still have some of those 40-watt chicklet lights too.
Man, I can't wait 'till the price of LED systems plummet.
+++++
Is it just me, or did you use to be able to get onto Disapora with your Facebook account? Uh. I don't see that option anymore.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Anarchy and Mayhem

Do they even know it's Christmas? Do they know there is an explicit rule about "no paws on the table"? Where is the force of the State?

I was actually hoping to get a picture of him lying like a bear (cat) rug. But Winston lifted his head oh-so-slightly just as I clicked the shutter.

Shenanigans! I say! His eyes always glow in photographs. They're usually shut in real life.

Hunt for Red October

I do love doodling in math class.

Man I love the movie Hunt for Red October.
When I was maybe 23 years old I worked as a sound operator at the New York Shakespeare Festival and the director of this Macbeth (starring Raul Julia) was Richard Jordan. The sound designer on the show took off before the show opened and more work needed to be done so Richard Jordan called me in and worked with me directly for an afternoon to finish designing the show.
You have to realize that I was absolutely the lowest of the bottom-feeding proles on the show. Absolutely the lowest dog on the crew. There was nobody less experienced (by like 10 years) than me. And he treated me like a equal and a professional. I mean, I remember that at the time. I thought to my self "wow, he so doesn't have to be this much a gentleman to me". And, you know, I'm a communist. I think that everyone should be treated equally yet I was still impressed. He asked me about my background and I told him about my composing and such. I brought every bit of my top game to that show (you know, as much as a 24-year-old has).
I had no idea who he was until after the show opened. I can't tell you how many times I saw Logan's Run when I was young.
At the opening night party for the show I ran into him and he said hello and introduced me to some movie producer who was his guest -- introducing me as a "composer", which was waaaaay out of my pay grade and really impressed me even at the time because, I mean, he knew I was the lowest-level guy in the entire freakin' room. And he treated and introduced me as an artist not just a bottom-feeding prole. So, that really touched me.
Plus, he told me a great story about the cool guns they used...

Variosity

This bunny has a bad attitude.
But these are some very sketchy bunnies (via Harry Connolly).
Do you need a groovy BNB when you're in New York? Stay with our own Alana in fabulous Jersey City!
Ergonomics guide from Cornell. We need a couple new computer desks.
Phillip Bloom reviews the Canon C300.

More of What I Must Put Up With

The cats have taken turns conquering my coat on the sofa. "I shall dwell in the flesh of my enemies!" says Winston, not realizing that the fabric is all man-made. Or, maybe he did realize that...

Meydl absolutely loves the little wrist-strap on the camera. Unfortunately she loves it too close for focus. Her butt is in focus at least.

Meydl hath also conquered the wilde-coat. She didn't do it without me shaking the camera though. It was fear. Fear of the great beast which made me shake so.

Friday, December 23, 2011

A wealthy scoundrel seduced and betrayed me.

Every once in a while I watch the movie Ronin just to remember how awesome it is. I love the way it's shot and I love the performances in it. And that's despite some kinda big flaws in the picture. I mean, wait, what's that about Russians and ice skating? That's really just to lead up to the literal and figurative (ahem) denouement -- I mean snipers and ballet dancers, what's there not to like?
The voiceover at the end -- the news reports -- they're pretty dumb. But you know you can't have everything.
Man, every moment is played so well. And listening to the director's commentary I learned all about four-wheel-drift.
My big question is Jean Reno's character. If he's the last one standing, then he's the Ronin. I mean the whole point is that [look, if you're going to get "spoiled" by my talking about the ending then you've stumbled on this blog by accident] DeNiro is not a Ronin. Right? And what was his motivation for all of the last act? Why was he sticking with DeNiro in order to get that case?
It certainly seems like there's a story there. Jean Reno is clearly not ex-military. One would presume that a native French speaker hearing "rendezvous point" would know that's a military term in English.
It's terrifically well written. But it's the shots and the performances that blow me away the most.

This is what I have to put up with.

Meydl will typically sleep on her back. Winston on his belly. Lookit Medyl's sproingy feet.

Look, I can't help myself. Waking up cats is hilarious. I know history will judge me badly. But I can't stop myself.

Harassing cats. It's what I do. I figure that my punishment in the eternal hereafter will be that cats will walk on my head when I try to sleep. Hey, wait a minute...

You shoulda seen the OTHER guy

The only reason this is funny is because nobody actually got hurt or even, for that matter, felt any pain.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Adieu

Well, it's official. Those morons on the Board of Directors of Theatresource killed the place. They didn't lift a finger to keep it going, nor would they get out of the way to let people in who would work to keep it going.

My piece of business advice? Don't hire any of these people unless you want your organization destroyed.

Courtney Birnbaum - Andrew Frank - Eric Laufer - Matt Quint - Melissa Riker - Doug Silver

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Aragnaronk

Over on the T-Mouse Blog are pictures of me playing with the City Samanas at their last gig at Theatresource.
That window-box is probably the best acoustically-sounding part of the entire venue. There ain't a parallel surface in the whole joint, that's for sure!
_____...
Hey, if an employee works overtime, and you don't know it, do you still have to pay overtime?
Sometimes.

I'm getting to a really low place if I have no pictures to post with this.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Diaspora

So why isn't everyone jumping on the Diaspora bandwagon? It's the only Facebook/Google+ that is open source for cryin' out loud.
I suppose part of it is that Facebook has, in fact, gotten easier to use with the last couple small changes it made. Especially easier is the "use Facebook as" to change to being, say, a band's administrator and such.
I have exactly two Diaspora friends. Of all my friends on Facebook only two of 'em are also on Diaspora.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wanna Piss Off a Bunch of Chinese People

Try to tell them they speak a bunch of different languages. China is funny -- as a state it's been around for a thousand years. And frequently "Chinese" is the word used for what we might laughingly call an "ethnic group" which presumably spans all of mainland China as well as Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and other sovereign and not-so-sovereign states.
In many ways this is like all Europeans calling themselves "French". "Sure, I live in Norway, but that's just a dialect of French. And although my family is opposed to the present French government, which is why we formed the Norwegian government, we look forward to the day when we can all be one country again."
OK, so it's not quite that bad but it's in the ballpark.
And no, this ecard has nothing to do with the rest of the post. I have a cold, that's all.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Everything I Saw Told Me That Kurtz Had Gone Insane

So, I actually have one complaint about Apocalypse Now. We don't really see what Chef and Willard see when they get to Kurtz' compound which convinces them he's evil and gone insane (respectively). I wonder if that's because I'm looking at it on a TV. Maybe in the movies the heads and bodies were bigger?
Yeah, there are some heads in the background -- but you don't really notice them 'till Dennis Hopper mentions them.
The man is clear in his mind but his soul is mad.
You know, some of the dialog is way way stilted. But the actors use those otherwise-clumsy turns to act in -- and they use the changes of subject to act like they're thinking about what to say next. It's kind of neat how every single performance in it is as stunning as they are.
From Phillip Drawbridge.
So the Google Voice thing isn't working for me. And I have Vonage at home but I never ever use it. I'm thinking about just buying a number from Skype and leaving it at that. I mean as long as I don't get any more deranged voicemails from David Ian Lee it might work.
"And with a whimper, I'm fucking splitting, Jack!"

I AM NOT A WEASEL!

NOT! I am NOT a weasel!
You sure look like a weasel.
I am an ERMINE! Sexy and svelt.
You look like a weasel. A 13-year-old girl's pet.
I'm a freakin' PREDATOR, baby! Top o' the food chain.
I so bet that's not true. I be owls take you and your weasel friends out all the time.
Oh MAN, you make me so angry. I'm a-gonna come down there and open up a can of...
What? A can of weasels?
I AM NOT A WEASEL!

Man Cold Manifesto

I have a Man Cold. And these are my demands:

1. A cute pet-name. If you can't think of one on your own I'll accept "snuggle bear".
2. Mango bubble tea. I deserve some.
3. A cat. Sleepy. Gimme one.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Absurdity

Wow, we actually had bookings on the calendar at Theatresource all the way 'till May. Aren't you excited about Pandora Machine moving to TriBeCa next week so you don't have to hear me talk about this? I mean, this is worse than my endless guitar case discussions.
Here's my favorite new absurdity: an email was circulated today looking for volunteers to help clean out the theater on Sunday the 18th and to take down the grid. I have no idea where they're planning to put all the pipe or how they intend to transport it, but it gave us all a good laugh.
+++++
Google Voice isn't quite doing what I want. But hopefully soon it will. Soon. It will.
+++++
Vinnie Marano found the 12-year-old Scotch that Mitchell had left in our office. I was going to drink it when we moved in to the new place, but I hadn't realized that it had been opened -- four years ago. So Vinnie blew the dust off the box (dust -- everywhere -- all over my computer, ahem) and we imbibed. Me, I'm feeling a cold coming on so I drank strictly for medicinal reasons.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Where the Rats Go

It seems that many of the writers, directors, and performers who've lost a home at Theatresource are moving over to the Workshop Theater. Workshop seems like a groovy joint. I've never been there myself. I should stop by and see a show.

The biggest thing I think I'm going to miss about having our studio in the theater is how people would and could just stop by. I don't know if there's another theater in New York which is as situated toward people just coming and hanging out. At the new place the Pandora Machine is going to you have to get buzzed in, and you'll probably need to call first as you really can't just stop by and see if we're there.
So that's too bad.
Greg Bodine in Poe Times 2.

Crowdfun

Nominally I'm not such a fan of cloudfunding things. But when it comes to, say, somebody making a watch or something which takes a bunch of pre-order for them to make, it does make sense.
The main cloudfunder, Kickstarter, is an "all or nothing" model. "All or nothing" is the traditional way to fun feature films too -- you start "getting" money from investors in the way of promises that if you get enough promises for the entire budget, they'll go ahead and put the money in.
This is also how movies lose their financing at the last minute -- investors pulling out.
But the advantage to the investors is that you don't start spending their money on foolishness without all the funding in place, potentially losing all their money and never raising any more.
Here's a chart from here.

Rockethub is the seeming newcomer in this area. But IndieGoGo has slightly lower fees (if you make your "goal").
But you see, Pandora Machine doesn't have a built-in fan base. Everybody in my office insists there is one, but half of them will also insist that unicorns exist (the other half say the werewolves chased them all away). So I'm not so sure that putting up some animations of dragons will really get a bunch of people to donate twenty bucks each to us.
Maybe naked people will do the trick...

Friday, December 09, 2011

Why I'm Annoyed

The Board of Directors at Theatresource are stunningly blase about shutting down the theater.
The President, Courtney Birnbaum, just came into my studio.

Me: "Why are you destroying my theater?"
She throws up her hands.
CB: "We don't have any money."
Me: "We never have any money."
Conceding:
CB: "Well you know that better than most people."
Annoyed:
Me: "So why didn't you step aside to let someone else run it?"
Defensive:
CB: "Nobody stepped up to do that."
Irked:
Me: "You never gave anyone a chance to step up before you scuttled it."
CB: "Well we'll just have to disagree on that."
Me: "No we don't. Get out of my office."

And these people are wondering why I'm annoyed. They destroyed my theater and I'm supposed to be friends with them? No, I'm going to move on to work with people who aren't destroying things but instead are creating things.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

It's Not Easy Being Me

After
The exposure from the webcam is actually pretty good for the chat noir Winston. And although he's very affectionate I don't think he likes being picked up so much. He pretty much weighs like a bowling ball.
Before

Snortling

So I go to Princeton to have dinner with my parents. After getting the Chinese food I walk into the kitchen and there on the kitchen table is a brand new Magellan GPS in its box. Tactfully, I pretend I don't see it and pick up the bottle of seltzer next to it.
So of course Iona sees all this.
At dinner she announces that I've seen my Christmas present.
Dad: Oh, well that's good because we were thinking about giving it to you early.
Iona: And borrowing it for our trip to Georgia over Christmas.
Yep. That made me almost snortle General Tso's chicken.
Here's an early Christmas weasel for you.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Apologizing

You know, and I realize that I'm cranky at this, but the incredible level of arrogance it took for this Board to stomp out all the hard work and energy that so many hundreds (thousands really) of people put in over the last 12 years is simply vile and atrocious.
Sure, I'm the last survivor of the founding members who never left to take a "sabbatical" and who has been inside, and remained inside, from the very beginning. But I'm going to be perfectly fine.
But all of those people -- even those who have been away for a while -- those people put a tremendous amount of work and heart into this place, making it what it is.
And they did it with a faith, with a trust, that the rug wouldn't be pulled out from under them by people who are either too lazy to do the work to keep the theater going, or to arrogant to admit that anyone, anyone could do a better job then them.
This Board, these dunderheads, few of whom ever even enter the building more than once every few months, are scuttling it. Selling it off for spare parts and walking away, as though they have no responsibility to any of the people who have put so much blood and sweat into the place.
Some of the people on the Board I'd considered friends. So I'm a little stunned at the spectacular level of destruction they're in the process of wreaking. It's destructive, arrogant, and deceitful. They're tearing down what has become an institution in New York Theater. They're doing it because they won't simply resign and let better people take over. And all this time they smiled and told everyone that they were working in the best interest of the theater, they were lying.
That's Courtney Birnbaum, Andrew Frank, Eric Laufer, Matt Quint, Melissa Riker, Doug Silver. I would also include former Board member Fiona Jones and Executive Director Jennifer Thatcher as they have done much to ensure the closing of the theater.
How much contempt do they have for the volunteers? Obviously so much that they don't care enough about the volunteers to even try to keep the theater open. The patronizing attitude toward the real people who have worked here so long is just sickening.
I think that each one of these people should apologize to every volunteer at Theatresource. They should apologize for abrogating their responsibilities to the public trust that is this fine and wonderful theater.

Take What You Need

So the "fire sale" of everything at Theatresource has made the entire place a huge mess. It's too bad, because we were making the place look so much nicer before the Board decided to dump it. And dump they did. The level of destruction of a place that so many hundreds of people have put 12 years into is sort of appalling.
It looks like we've got a new place to move to though. By "we" I mean we guys in the back office which used to be known as "DigitalSource". We're looking at a nice little film office and post-production suite in TriBeCa. I'll take some pictures soon, but this is the joint. We're going for the biggest of the three offices, which is a couple hundred bucks (in total) more than I though we'd want to spend, but it's only costing me $50/month more than what I've been paying up 'till now.
Hey, here's a thing you should note -- if you've been getting mail/packages delivered to Theatresource, you should change your address with the USPS.
This picture via my friend Jennifer Fay.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Dream Opera

Plagiarism. I don't get it. I can't even spell it. There are passages of this book cribbed from other books.
Maybe I don't care about what's called "plagiarism" because we steal the structure of other things outright. In fact, we say, "Oh look, this has the same structure as Man of La Mancha" or whatever. To me the "blah-di-blah" in-between is the relatively easy part. I mean, I just wrote the book to a musical where I stole from Apocalypse Now, Blade Runner, and Escape From New York.
And even if I hadn't overtly stolen from them, I would have stolen the structure from one of those things and still threw in some lines from my favorite movies.
And speaking of which, Blade Runner the Dream Opera or whatever it is now has been altered to accept the notes I've gotten on it. It's pretty much entirely cribbed from (obviously) Blade Runner, Escape from New York, and Apocalypse Now. There are lots of helicopters.
Also, I have a version of Alien Treasure which I'm not 100% sure how to shoot yet.

Oh Look

A video editor "mixed" this promo for Saturday Night Live. How can you tell? Because the mic for the guy on the left is in the left channel. The mic for the guy on the right is in the right channel. Just like the way it was recorded into the camera.

The production mixer (they're not really called that in TV -- I don't know how SNL does it but the position is likely called the "A1") is the person who was responsible for recording the dialog. And if you have two people, like this, you slap a lavaliere mic on each of 'em and send the mics to separate channels.
Very pro. That is, in fact, the pro way to do it.
But that's assuming that the person who will be touching the audio last (meaning, before it goes out to air) knows what they're doing with audio. And if you have a picture editor working on it, then it's likely they don't. Have pity on them. They're just simple picture editors. They don't know any better.
In Final Cut Pro the tracks that the two channels of camera audio would be dragged onto are, by default, panned hard left and right. But do you really want Bill panned hard left and Steve panned hard right? No, of course not. you want them both in the middle.
You can even hear Bill switch channels as he turns toward Steve. That's because as he turns toward Steve he's talking into Steve's mic. And he ends up (momentarily) being louder in Steve's mic than his own.
As the job of assembling all these takes and then putting them up on Hulu is probably one of the lowest-priority edit jobs on the show, it's probably thrown at the lowest-level editor they've got. Heck, the producers may have even lied to the editor and told 'em that someone was going to actually do the audio mix so they "don't have to worry about it". But the fact is, that as long as the audio seemed minimally acceptable to whomever uploaded it, that was the end of caring about it.
The trouble you get into when you do something like this is when somebody watches the dang video with (say) a speaker unplugged. If that happens then you lose one of the hosts. Either Bill or Steve will sound distant (because you'll only hear their feed from the other guy's mic.)
And mixing in FCP is no picnic. But it can be done. You just need to pay attention to what audio is bussed where.

Notes on the Musical

We're coy about the incept date for Plissken being changed back when he kills Batty. Somebody should go ahead and say that.
It is more of a dream ballet. It's a remix and interpretive-y. But the word "musical" sets the wrong expectation. "Musical" just brings to mind "Momma Mia" and I don't think you want that. You can call it an "Imaginary Opera".
Now I think we need puppets.

(We're looking at the latest version here.)

Friday, December 02, 2011

Because

Because I want my intermediate and delivery formats to be the same, that's why.
And I want my delivery formats to carry an alpha channel.
The best deals I've found for dual hex-core computers seems to be from Titanus. Those are PC's of course.
I've actually gotten a request for delivery of ProRes versions (in PAL) for a couple pictures. We can deliver that, of course, but I'm wondering how long ProRes will remain as the standard file-delivery format. Maybe Apple will turn around and continue to support FCP, like a version 8 which would be split off from their dumbed-down "X" version? Who knows?
I only need three things for a blog post, right? Exactly.