Monday, April 30, 2012

SG's and Me

Ethan is trying to convince me that an SG with dots is cooler than one with trapezoidal inlays. He's probably right even if I ignore him.
Fact is, I don't need an SG. I have two awesome electric guitars with which I can make a lot of records. But if one should fall into my hands with P90 pickups I could impress Ethan and Chance Shirley. That's probably worthwhile.

Here's a question. Is it relatively easy to flop the polarity on humbucker pickups?

Experiments in UV Mapping

So I'm experimenting with UV mapping. This groovy model came from Blend Swap. The artist is KHUNO362. I applied what we might think of as my default spaceship texture map to the whole thing. The process is somewhat complicated. Honestly, I don't understand it. But I did it anyway.

Could this be the Venom? It could be.

Free Credit Report (No, Really)

Hey, for Americans there's only one Federally - mandated free credit report website. And it's AnnualCreditReport.
Yeah, it's got a dumb name. And it sure would be a lot easier if it had a .gov domain. But that's the one you want.
Blendswap is awesome. It's the biggest repository for Blender 3D models on the web. And it's where we're going to put up all our models.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Day 4

We only did 76 takes today. Compared to last Sunday when we did 137 takes that means we're really slacking off. I think we did about 50 takes with sound. Joe Watson was with us today doing sound. We have a... unique way of slating takes which he picked up on right away.
Sarah-Doe Osborne as Artemis in The Prometheus Trap.
Today was very dialog heavy. Call was noon on set and we got everyone on the 7:09 train.
Michael Shattner as Finn in The Prometheus Trap.
Ramsey Scott did a super bang-up job on the costumes on this picture. All these tiny lights and a whole bunch of little gags (like androids having lit-up data ports and such) — it's a whole lotta work. And it's just beautiful. It makes shooting very easy.
Rebecca Kush as Captain Haskin.
 Did I mention how perfect the dog tags are in this movie? It's like Ramsey came up with the single costume piece which represented the visual aesthetic of the entire movie in one palm-sized thing.
James Edward Becton as Cornell.
Today we shot on Jason Birdsall's brilliant cockpit set. I just love this thing. Dig the groovy blue LED panel lights — those are Christmas lights we got off of Amazon.
James Becton.
My favorite moment today was when I was carrying a couple lights from one set to another and the Queen of Mars yelled at me "What are you doing gaffing!"
That amused me ever so.
Rebecca Kush.
I make a joke that I'm really just shooting everyone's Facebook photos but ya gotta admit there are some pretty sweet Facebook pictures in these shots.
Michael Shattner.
We're letting the flares get out of hand. I'm grooving to it. That pattern on Michael's jowl is actually flare from the LED's in the shot — it's not a pattern reflecting up onto him (although that would be awesome.)
Sarah-Doe Osborne.

To see how the day ended click here.

Cast and crew

This was a full bottle at the beginning of the day.
The train ride home. Note that it's still light outside when we broke the cast and crew.

I'm not even going to properly caption this picture. That's in order to protect the guilty.
You'll have to go over to the Pandora Machine blog to see the official pictures from today's shoot.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

David Frey on Day 3

I'm only now looking at stills from David Frey's camera. He has the Canon T2i which is arguably a better camera than the GH1. Especially now that I'm manually focusing.
Andrew Langton, Michael Shattner, and Rebecca Kush.
The Queen of Mars on sound.

Andrew Bellware directing Michael Shattner in The Prometheus Trap.

Day 3

Today we shot day 3 of The Prometheus Trap. The day was slightly wack in that we had to have people back on the train by 7:09pm when we had a call of noon on set (which turns into 12:30 because we have to make three trips to pick everyone up in the little Honda.)
Andrew Langton as Rhodes, Michael Shattner as Finn, and Rebecca Kush as Haskin, entering the Prometheus.
So we're both a little bit behind and a little bit ahead. It's hard to say exactly. But I'm blaming my producers for the fact that they had to get back to the city early today.
David Frey plays a dead man. 
David Frey came in and shot second camera for us. It'll be fun to color match! Woo. I amuse me.
We also had to shoot some bluescreen.

I have to send stills to our distributor.
I have to sit down with the schedule. Our sets are... different than we thought they'd be up until two days ago.
Michael Shattner contemplates the end of the world.
We shot many pages. I think that starting tomorrow we'll be exactly at the half-way mark of the movie.
Will people thing that Kate Britton (Trent) is an android because of this shot? 

Friday, April 27, 2012

The French Way

We: I wonder what shirt I should wear this weekend.
They: Shouldn't that word be plural?

The Economist realizes that two spaces after a period is ugly and archaic. And, interestingly, a single space after a period is called "French spacing". Similar, I presume, to French leave, French fries, and French kissing.

So I figured out a radical thing that's very different from what's in the script. It's basically what was in the script. But different now. I'm really going to have to walk the editors through this because... the way things work is different. But it'll be good.
I'm also going to have to teach myself UV wrapping. Sigh. I'm just going to have to do it. OK knowledge, get into my brain.


So, there's this movie called Lockout which has gotten like zero publicity. Like much of Luc Besson's stuff it seems like it's almost a parody of American action-movie making. But there are parts of it that look extremely cool. And obviously Guy Pearce can act (which is a huge plus in these action pictures.)
Are you writing spec scripts for TV shows? This is a fascinating "What is Hot and What is Not" article about what shows to spec:
Remember how there used to be a theater called Manhattan Theatresource? The building it was in has been sold. The Theatresource space is totally unusable as a retail space (which is why it sat fallow for over a year — way back in '99 when the real estate market was at its highest point.) So if you want to start a theater, call up the new landlord!

Nicolo' Zubbini is a Blender artist. He's working on the Mango project with Ian Hubert. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012


So this is me thinking out loud about my signal path.

I do not like anything pedal-wise between my guitar and my amps. And I specifically do not like any buffering. In fact, I like the sound of fifty feet of guitar cable between my guitar and the amp. And then I want to jumper the two amps together to drag down the signal even more.

Peter Cornish would not agree that's a good idea.

And I won't even say that listening back I could tell you that my guitar sounds less good with a nice little buffering thing in the signal path. Indeed my MSR Analog Delay sounds fantastic. I mean except to me, while I'm actually playing the guitar. I'd say that my biggest issue is the way the guitar feels when the signal is buffered. I've done a bunch of experimenting and really for me I just don't like the buffering and I do like the sound of long cables.

There's a lot of Internet complaining about passive volume pedals when you add a tuner to them. Not having to pass your signal through a tuner is another good reason to get those cheap little tuners that clamp onto the headstock. (That, and the fact you can read them without your glasses on in the dark.)

What my issue is that I'm totally incompetent at changing the volume on my guitar to get from a cleaner to a dirtier sound. I mean, I can't do it during a song while playing. And it's hard to get to the clean place on the knob(s) consistently. It's hard to see where the knobs are. And it's difficult to make the changes in the 16th-note that's the pickup to the verse (while you're playing.)

So talking to Ethan I had this idea to use a passive volume pedal with a "minimum volume" modification made to it. Now, because I'm dumb, I figured I'd just take a volume pedal and put a little shim or a bottle cap or something on it to make a physical "stop" at a level which I'd carefully calibrate to be the "verse" level of the guitar. Then with the volume pedal turned up all the way I'd be at the "chorus" position.

Ethan suggested that I actually mod the volume pedal with a couple resistors. I think it might be better to use a pot for that just so that I can more easily find the value I want it to sit at.

I'm not entirely sure I understand guitar wiring. In fact, I don't understand it. I get confused about where the ground wire should go. I dunno what kind of potentiometer to get for this project. It's not like they're terribly expensive.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Light, Fog, Crew, Bodybag

I just bought 40 of these tiny LED's. I ordered them on Sunday night and they arrived today (Wednesday).
We're clearly using them everywhere. Costumes, weapons, helmets. It is, apparently, the look of this movie.

We need some anti-fog spray. For space helmets. Apparently baby shampoo is usable too. Nobody is going to spit in the helmets.

Chuck Hartsell of Crewless has a new sci-fi short called "Transfers". Check it out.

TRANSFERS - Teaser from Chuck Hartsell on Vimeo.

We're flopping back-and-forth about cryo chambers or clear body bags. Right now the clear body bags are winning.

Three things from here today

Betty Ouyang's latest movie, POP-U-larity is available on Amazon as a DVD and streaming video.

 Libby Csulik is using ShotList on the iPad. Shotlist is misnamed -- it's actually a stripboard application. I actually wish there were a way to run it on a Mac or a PC. I'll admit that it looks almost useful enough for a dedicated iPad. But if they get XLS import/export it'll really be something.
The price is an absurdly low twelve bucks.

What makes the Internet so amazing? There's a whole website dedicated to shoelace tying. I'm using Lock Lacing myself.

North American Deals

The movies Earthkiller by Montserrat Mendez and Android Insurrection by David Ian Lee and Nat Cassidy — even though David and Cassidy used absurd pseudonyms for their screen credits — have North American Distribution.
Yes. They'll be coming out on DVD and VOD in the US and Canada. And relatively soon, too.
I know that for many of our people the most important part of this news is that means these movies will get IMDB credits. ;-)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Upside-Down Guitar Day

This is the best version of Jimi Hendrix doing Sunshine of Your Love that I've seen on the YouTubes:

You know, he gets all that sound from his Strat by seemingly going straight into his amp. Well, a second look shows a wah there on the floor.
I'm kind of digging that old-school drum sound too.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Picks and Ups

Today is the last day of the Clayton Custom pick sale. Use code APR12.

You know, Fralin P90 pickups are only $180/pair.

On my Blattocaster I would like to swap out the middle single-coil for a reverse-wound single coil. That guitar has Seymour Duncans on it. I'm not 100% sure of what model they are though.

St. George's Day

Brea Grant on things she learned in the editing room.

OK, c'mon. On the subject of script readers, this quote is hilarious:
"I know interns and assistants are doing all of the reading," he says, "so I think about what is going to appeal to a girl in her twenties from a small liberal arts college before I send it."
If you worked in my office you'd think this was funny too.

I would suspect that sending out spec scripts for TV writing would be more profitable for a writer.

I'm a fan of Singular Software. They have some new products for audio synchronization coming up. I think we're a beta tester for them. That means we'll get to try PluralEyes on The Prometheus Trap and certainly for Dragon Girl.

Prometheus Day 2 (part 4)

Maduka Steady came today to fight direct for us. I always feel safer with him around. The Queen of Mars bloodied up some noses.
Rebecca Kush has been in a lot of bar fights.
Maduka designed a couple nice, simple, safe, and photogenic fights.
The lovely and talented Kate Britton collapses to the floor.
My parents made me take a chocolate cake to set. It was a cake someone had given them. So it was a chocolate cake that was unfortunately very good which was being passed around and around to avoid caloric intake. Luckily our crew is appallingly thin, so they needed the cake.
The delightfully photogenic Rebecca Kush does not always win her bar fights however.
We were handheld 100% of the day. My arms ache like crazy.
Kate Britton peers around a corner.
Today we used various pieces of sets we had around. We also used a couple parts of Tale of Two Cities. Yes, the Broadway show. The sets are being stored at the warehouse. And yes, they did actually tell us we could use them a couple years ago but we could never figure out how. Until today.
Kate Britton (Trent) with absurdly photogenic Fight Director Maduka Steady.
Right this minute I'm not feeling like we want much color-correction in post-production. I don't know what anybody else will say but that's where I am right now.
Rebecca Kush is about to whump you.
The rest of our sets were really hard to put together. And structurally they would have been a lot more sound if only we'd found some clamps to hold them together. Luckily with the length of the lens, the shallowness of the focus, and the number of flares, we didn't really notice that on-camera.
Kate Britton having been whumped.

Prometheus Day 2 (part 3)

So far we're shooting this movie on the GH1 with a Canon 50mm lens at f1.4. That's about the equivalent of a 35mm motion-picture camera with an 85mm lens as far as the field of view goes. I set up a color temperature for the movie but I don't know how to write it down. It's stored as "user 1". I should figure out how to write it down.
Andrew Langton.
The Canons take flares in an interesting way. And we're shooting at 1600 ISO with that camera so wide open so we can get the pretty kick in everybody's eyes. This means that any sort of traditional lighting we might do has to be very subdued unless we just want it to blow right out (which we frequently do).
The Queen of Mars in her own lighting but without LEDs on her.
Michael Shattner. Yeah, we're all JJ Abrams with the flare in this picture, but we kind of like it.

Michael Shattner.
Andrew Langton.

Kate Britton with LED's on her collar. I think she's about to shoot an android here.

Prometheus Day 2 (part 2)

The Queen of Mars is the best gaffer. I know some terrific gaffers. But when our producer comes in to move a light, just get out of her way. The whole scene will be much better with her subtle hand.
Andy Langton operates his butane torch. 
Rebecca Kush is all about the flare.

We also did a version of a scene but with space helmets still on. These were built by Anthony Jones.
Andrew Langton as Rhodes.

Michael Shattner as Finn and Rebecca Kush as Haskins.

Prometheus Day 2 (part 1)

We did a bit of a "proof of concept" of shooting characters who all lit themselves. Yes, we do put a little bit of fill light in there, but the key and hair lights are all actually attached to costumes. Ramsey Scott set the lights so that they would trace the contours of the faces.
Michael Shattner, Andrew Langton, and Rebecca Kush as Finn, Rhodes, and Haskin.

Rebecca Kush.
Andrew Langton.
The very blue character of the LED lights offsets nicely with the warmth of fluorescents. And yes, I did just call fluorescent light "warm". But on this set, they're the only thing to give us skin tones.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Prometheus Trap Day 1

Today we started principal photography on The Prometheus Trap.
Michael Shattner as Finn.
We had Michael Shattner and Ramsey Scott on set. The spaceship is by Jason Birdsall.
Michael Shattner at the end of the movie (different light from above).
Ramsey did quite an extensive costume build for this picture.
Here's Michael with the lights on his spacesuit in the "on" position. Ramsey shaded the lights so they don't blow out the camera (as much). 
And the one decision I made was that the actors should be lit by the lights on their own costumes. We shouldn't hardly light them at all. That's going to make tomorrow's fight scenes interesting! ;-)