Friday, August 31, 2012

Don Dohler

"If we take the nudity out it'll cut our distribution by 70%."
This documentary is brilliant.  Actually, the question in Blood, Boobs, and Beast "What's it shot on, is there any nudity?" doesn't come up anymore. Nobody cares what a movie is shot on because all the formats look the same. And nudity is so cheap (and free on the Internet) that it just doesn't help sales.

Copter Cam

So I'm in the middle of mixing Prometheus Trap. Well, I say "middle" when really I'm just finishing up mixing it. Anyway.
Our next picture is this Dragon Girl movie.
My dad, out of the blue, sent me an article on flying robots. He said "Are you interested in flying robots?" I answered "Yes! Flying robots keep following me everywhere!" He did not respond.
In the article there was this sweet flying robot, the Parrot AR.


We could have dragon's eye view with the HD camera in the robot copter!
To be sure, the camera suffers from the shearing of rolling shutter artifacts. Which, you know, sucks if you're going to try to put a composite in it. On the other hand, if it's the dragon's view, you're not as likely to have to composite anything in the picture.
My older brother bought everyone (well, all the men) little RC helicopters for Christmas a few years ago. They're pretty cool. And these new copters are not nearly as crashy as they used to be in the olden days.
I do wish the lens on this weren't quite so wide. And I hear tell that it could be faced downward a bit rather than pointing straight ahead.
The Prometheus with the Venom. Yeah, it's dark because of the gamma difference and blah blah blah.
I'll ask my brother if he's played with one. The irony is I'll end up borrowing my dad's iPad to operate it.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Why Do I Love FCP?

I give up. Let's just make the whole movie look like this.
Why? How about because of crap like this? This is a frame from a part of a sequence which was supposed to be the closeup of somebody's eye, but instead would render like this orange matte. Thanks Final Cut!
I experimented with prerendering it without the Broadcast Safe limiters. I experimented with prerendering the video with NO plugins. Nothing would work.
Finally I went into the original sequence and re-rendered THAT. Then I prerendered with color-correction. And freakin' finally it behaved.
Turns out, FCP hated that the underlying footage had been slowed down. So that, with an additive dissolve, makes orange.
This, folks, is why we've pre-rendered the entire movie into small, flattened, chunks. And why we're keeping our fingers crossed that we don't have any trouble when we render the final version from that.
Sheesh.
+++++
The list of movie dialog clich├ęs.
++++
A list of illegal characters in file names.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Translated Man

I just finished The Translated Man by Chris Braak. It's a self-published sci-fi novel in the China Mieville - type of exceedingly gothic world. Although I think it's vastly more interesting than China Mieville's works in that it has a plot that goes through it. ;-)

I never cease to be amazed by the high quality of work by self-published authors. Sometimes I'm surprised by the low quality of work by published authors. Even when it comes to things like typos, the editing on some big-publisher titles can be squirrely.
One funny thing about The Translated Man is that it's a book about a somewhat different world than ours, but not entirely different. And the very first thing about the book (or at least the version I got) was that it starts on page two. That's right, it starts on the left page. Which is somewhat awesome because maybe in the world of Trowth books actually do start on page two.
The second thing I found amusing was that there are double-spaces after periods, which in our world we only do when typing, not when typesetting. But again, maybe that's how they do things in Trowth.
I really enjoyed the book. It's very well written (and edited). For me there's maybe too many things in it. Too many names, too many creatures, that sort of thing. But maybe that's not true for most people. And the plot doesn't get bogged down in too much much. After all, you follow the equivalent of a Blade Runner whose job it is to hunt down heretics who practice illegal math. Which is more exciting than it sounds.
Like a dope though I bought the wrong version of the book. I should have gotten The Translated Man And Other Stories. Like this one:


So I ordered this version and also another book in the same series, Mister Stitch.
  I really can't say too much about how cool this book was. Just can't.

Wired

The always-brilliant Nat Cassidy sent me this (somewhat spoiler-y) article on seeing microphone cables on costumes in Breaking Bad.
Drinking in Ireland is more difficult than you'd think.
Threat Quality Press.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Mixing away

We have lock on the picture of Prometheus Trap. We have been going so fast that nobody has actually watched the entire movie in one pass from beginning to end.
But the big issue we're having is that Final Cut Pro renders... arbitrarily. Sometimes sections of the movie are just rendered with the highlights down about a stop or so. I suspect it's the way the broadcast limiter plugin works (or doesn't work). If we re-render the problem goes away.
This is pretty obnoxious. And it means we're making pre-renders with color-correction and broadcast limiting so that we can feel reasonably confident that when we render the pre-renders the movie will actually look right.
Turns out that putting the Proc Amp on the nested acts might help. We'll know better late tonight if that's actually true.

New thing we're starting to do: delivering in 24-bit. The digital audio is 24-bit 48kHz all the way from production sound through OMF through mixing to deliverables. Does it make any different to the quality of the whole movie? Not that anyone can hear I'm sure. After all, we're smashing the dialog into all kinds of limiters (after noise reduction). But it feels better to be doing 24-bit rather than 16-bit.

AfterEffects Easter eggs.

This movie goes in FedEx for Saturday delivery. Oof!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

While Waiting For Renders I Blog

On the other side of things there's the red-band trailer ("R"-rated) for Neon Flesh.

And Branded, a They Live-type picture. Posting YouTube videos using the HTML using Chrome is... a pain. I almost think it's not worth it to get business cards. But a big counter card for the door to the studio sounds like a great idea. Nizu has some tutorial videos on Blender asset management. You think that stuff is boring but it is CRITICALLY important to do right. Everybody in my shop wants a different jacket. Oddly, I'm the only one who wants the expensive one. Is everybody trying to be nice to me by selecting cheap jackets? Ha! You don't know the people in my shop then! ;-) There's this nice slick women's windbreaker-y thing.
We're ordering jackets from okuniform. Their place is actually right around the corner from our office.
Plus this quilted jacket.
You know, it is entirely possible that it's Apple's own 3-way color corrector that's giving us trouble. We don't seem to have the problem when we use Colorista instead. Hmm... looks like I'll be re-rendering the entire movie. Again.

Fuzzy and licky body parts

A good boss is worth more than 1.75 workers.
Ear.
 Indo-European language. Nah, I don't get it either.
Tongue.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

QC

The punchlist for Prometheus Trap is several pages long. But I have to be rendering out the final movie on Thursday night, probably Wednesday night to be safe. The Art of Dave Seeley: Publishing  The Burn Zone - Penguin ROC
So our focus is going to be "What will people really hate if we leave as-is?" Are there any visual effects which really bug us? Do we have every footstep foleyed? (Believe me, the buyers will pay attention to that -- even though a substantial part of the movie happens in a vacuum where theoretically you wouldn't hear footsteps.)

Friday, August 24, 2012

This is How the Story Ends

Tom was afraid of a plot point and jumped in my lap. Luckily, Rebecca was on hand to take a picture.
But she didn't send it to me until today.
I've had cats that weigh more than Tom does.
Am I finished with rendering animations for The Prometheus Trap? I hesitate to say "yes" but I think I may be.
I have to build the end sequence in the edit. And there's a lot of mixing to do. Plus, also, too -- credits.

Whattup with the Whattup

Dan Harmon on what he tells new writers in his writer's room:
Please help me make this the best show it possibly can be. Please give everything you have to it. I promise when you bleed, it will mix with my blood. I can't guarantee you'll be directly rewarded for it by the system, but I promise you it's the right thing to do. And please come to Comic Con and stand in the audience and listen to what they do when the actors come on stage. That is our God, that is the thing for which we'll be suffering.
Brooklyn Bunny. Because, you know, Brooklyn Bunny.
Hey, remember how Finn blows the Hercules gun out of the airlock? How is there an atmosphere in the cargo bay for him to blow the gun out with? We go to a lot of trouble to establish that there's no atmosphere in there. But he's not even wearing his helmet. This is entirely my fault, not anybody else's.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

My Office Environment

... is probably different from yours.
Drew Bellware, Tom Rowen, Rebecca Kush.
We have picture lock on acts 1 through 7. But 8 and 9 are "basically" locked. Act 10 lock will happen tomorrow (or it may have already happened) and act 11 (the penultimate act) may also happen tomorrow. Act 12 will be the end-title credits.
We still need to mix acts 1, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11. That's one act per day, right? It's all good. Right?
It's time to make some more renders. This grape vodka Rebecca brought in is very nice.
I wish I didn't look quite so deranged in this picture. Because I was trying to be all happily smiling. Ahem...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

More Giving Space Building Done

More than you could possibly want to know about the Open EXR format.
I'm giving up on all you people and we'll just get some windbreakers.
I've got four single-spaced pages of notes. About half of them are done. About half again more are to come.
My building is directly across from that huge Verizon brutalist architectural abomination in New York City and I can't get FiOS. Gimme a break.
Note that "lookout for spaceship ballet" actually means something to me.
I just noticed that should say mix act 5. Because act 5 is locked. The top note is confusing because that's not a "to do" but rather "this is already done".


It doesn't get less weird from here

Sometimes.
More rendering for me today. I gotta get back at it.
I've pointed out that I have a tumblr, right? It exists almost solely to reblog stuff my cousins put up.
Color correction basics from Adobe.
Via.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Baggit

Best lookin' laptop bag evah.
My sister finished her laptop tote. Before you ask, she won't make you one.

Option B

Here's the one-color version of the logo.

See? It's reversed. Just one color: white. If you see this on a white background it will be invisible.

Theatresource is still stupid

So, Drew, I've noticed you haven't gone on through the remaining stages of grief over the loss of Theatresource. You're stuck at anger.
That's because those asswipes who closed it piss me off.
Don't hold back, tell me how you really feel.
I wasn't as royally ticked off at first.
Then what happened?
I thought of B.
B? Who's B?
Well, you wouldn't know him although he was volunteering for a couple years. He came in more than once a week and he did a lot of work. He put in a whole bunch of work on those "cleanup days" where the Board lied and pretended we were cleaning up to make the landlord happier with us when really we were just doing it so they could get out of the lease.
Did the Board really know?
Well, it's not like new information had actually come to light which made those idiots come to the stupid decision to close the theater. That being said, Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity, but don't rule out malice.
Uh. OK. I guess we could go either way there. But what about B? What about that makes you so irked?
Those jerks just took a dump on him. He'd worked freakin' hard and did nothing but make time for Theatresource and the Board of Directors did nothing to try to stay open (they did not even inform their Advisory Board) and basically said "F you" to B.
So, seriously, that's why you're still pissed off? 
12 years of hard work and six morons who didn't even come into the place very much just closed it down. And they're either so phenomenally stupid that they didn't understand that financially Theatresource was actually in better shape than it had been in years, or so lazy they just didn't feel like running it anymore and were too arrogant to let anybody else come in and be a new Board, or they're just douche canoes. Probably some combination of those things.
Who the hell is on the Board of Directors? They're not even listed on the website anymore. And the comments are all spam.
Yeah. There you go.
At least you get to pay now to submit your plays to Estrogenius. 
I can tell you who the Board of Directors of the 501c(3) were at least. When they decided to close Theatresource at 177 MacDougal Street. Courtney Birnbaum, Andrew Frank, Eric Laufer, Matthew Quint, Melissa Riker, Doug Silver, and Jennifer Thatcher*.
So you're not really interested in working with those people anymore.
Why would I work with asses who destroyed my theater?
Ah. Good point. I'll have another beer then.
The grape vodka makes for very good shots.

*Although Jennifer Thatcher signed her name on some emails as being a member of the Board, she probably wasn't. And the Board hadn't filed their paperwork with the State so New York has no record of the then-current members of the Board.


Eleven Grips with Color and Tasks

The Eleven Rig is just a rigged cartoon dude.
Dollygrippery has an interesting complaint about Arri Alexa cameras and how they're only connected at one 3"x3" point to the head, which makes them wobble a bit more than film cameras. Which is... interesting.
Do you like budgets? Here's a budget for a $100,000 picture. (H/T to Kevin Kangas). No post-production expenses are included though...

I am digging this one-color version of our new logo. See? One color. The "white" is whatever the under-color is. Even if the under-color is black it would be cool. Barely legible but cool. Or, you know, it could be two color but the second color is white.
Here's a color-conversion tool that will calculate RGB and hex values and CMYK. Knock yourself out.
I'm experimenting with Do. It's a project management web application. We'll see how it works out.

Germanback

Joe Chapman turned me onto the back cover of the German DVD of Android Insurrection. Dig it.
You know that the whole idea that there's the "Philadelphia Desert" is Montserrat Mendez', right? And I've just stolen it and used it in other movies because I'm evil.
Kampfroboter!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Why I Am Cooler Than You

Is it because I'm so thin? No.
Is it because I'm richer than you? I measure my riches in friends and family so... er... no.
Is it because I have the new Delicate Cutters album on vinyl?
Yes. Yes it is.
Drew. Cooler than you. 
You can see the cool just drip off of me. Plus also too I got to experience the amazing sound of playing a vinyl album for its first time. The first time is always the best because they vinyl begins to degrade after the first play. But it does sound pretty good that first time.
My record is signed! By the whole band no less. And let's face it, the cover art is pretty awesome.
My innate coolness cannot even be defeated when I try to eat the record.
I hate to be that guy but boy, 12" vinyl is nice. Big artwork on the cover. The funny and persnickety way the needle drops down on the record. It's just fun to hold.
Spinnin' at 33 RPM.
I'm going to relax and listen to this record now. Because being this cool is just so tiring I need the break you know...

To Do Today

Fix up act 1 from the notes we have.
Clean up the dialog that Tom Rowen someone who shall remain nameless messed up by putting camera sound over an entire scene rather than the actual sound from the second system recorder.
Make the end title credits.
Try to figure out what our running time is. Right now we're at 76 minutes but we're missing some scenes and the end-title credits aren't built yet.
James Edward Becton looking a little bit like an elf, with Rebecca Kush in the foreground. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Your Goings-On This Weekend

Dolf Veenvliet has a new project where you can design your own cross pendant online and have it made in sterling silver. It's called Shapewright.

Groove to Colors in Movie Posters Since 1914. Spoiler: there's a lot more blue now.

I'm incapable of not blogging with pictures of my sister's cat Pippin. Here he is overseeing my sister's work making a computer bag from batik fabric. Which will be awesome.
Pippin has his own collection of pens and pencils he keeps under your desk.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Noise Reduction for Dialog

There's a couple things you can do. One is to use a broadband noise reducer. This would be like the Waves Dynamic Noise Suppression. It helps eliminate fairly "steady state" noises like fans and traffic and rain and such. 

Another noise reducer is a Spectral noise reduction. I have one of these built into Samplitude. This is good for bumps, hits, and crackles (even footsteps). But it's a fairly tedious thing to use.

I actually cheat and I assign all of my dialog to a buss with (fairly heavy) noise reduction slapped across it. Then when things get really noisy I go in and add even more noise reduction to the passages which are a problem. Then I turn up the Foley or other background noise beds. 

Barriers to Somewhere You Don't Want To Be

I disagree with almost everything in the New York Times "Room For Debate" How Can Women Gain Influence in Hollywood.

To start with, as you might imagine my ideological bent considering what I do, I just don't care about "Hollywood". Like the old slogan for Film Threat: If you don't like movies, make your own.

So I certainly don't care about anybody gaining influence in Hollywood.

If you're waiting for someone to give you permission and a lot of money to make movies, then you aren't a filmmaker -- you're a waiter. Bring me my coffee.
I'm irritated. You're going to need this bunny.
There is something very close to zero barrier to entry to making a feature film. You can do it with an iPhone and a laptop (although, please, for the love of all that's holy, rent a nice microphone and a recorder if you're going to do that.)
"Leadership is required to recognize that “When Harry Met Sally,” "Bridesmaids" and "Lost in Translation" are not outliers, but clear indicators of vast communities of underserved audiences."
If that's true, why can't indys make those movies? Because I'll tell ya, those three movies were cheap to make. If someone could make a living drafting off of, sheesh, "Lost in Translation", believe me they would. The Asylum would be making "Bridal Party II" right now.

And, you know, for all intents and purposes and as far as you're concerned, I'm some sort of communist. I make fun of the theoretical existence of the "free market" all the time. But the fact is that every third Thursday of the month there's a massive free market experiment that happens where the actual video rental habits of Americans is used to determine what Americans want to see movie-wise.

That is, Blockbuster has to decide what videos it will buy.*

Now let's get real. They really don't care about the ideology of what sorts of genres they're selling. And yet still if they have a choice between buying some low-budget crappy romantic comedy and some low-budget zombie picture they will choose the one which people will rent more. And guess which one of those people will rent more? Think about which movie you'd rather see tonight. Take your time.

And "leadership is required"? You know what? No. Leadership is not required. If you can get off your ass and make a movie rather than whining that the big six studios aren't making the kinds of theatrically-released feature films you want to see then leadership is not required. You just have to make that movie. Without whining about it.
"Although women are more than 50 percent of the filmgoing public, predominantly male decision makers focus on making movies for boys and men, while systematically failing to support stories for women and girls."
What the hell are stories for women and girls? And why do we think that female filmmakers will make them?
"Hollywood is one of the only industries that does not take the female consumer seriously."
Well, I gotta say that if that's true it sounds like an opening for the 7th studio to come in and soak up all that money. See? There is actually a point to capitalist theory. If there's this great untapped market, I say you spend your money to finance the entity that will lose 100% of its investment take over the entire system.
Oh. But wait. You don't actually believe that enough to put up your own money.
"I am hopeful that the excess of leisure options will dictate that we all reduce our impulse buys and move toward informed choice of what we actually desire."
Oh I get it. I don't actually want to see the post-apocalyptic robot movie. I actually desire some other thing made by women but I just don't know what that thing is because I'm just sooooo impulsive.

Bite me.

And that's not even to say "Why can't women make post-apocalyptic robots movies?" Because they can. And do.
"Young women should believe successful directing careers are within their reach."
Wait, what? "Within their reach?" Do you have any idea how few directing job are out there? You know what careers are within your reach? Doctor. Financial Planner. Engineer.

Director? Not so much.

You're asking yourself "How few jobs are there out there as feature film directors?"
"According to the latest Celluloid Ceiling study, women accounted for only 18 percent of the directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers working on the top 250 domestic grossing films of 2011."
Wait. Seriously? You're talking about 250 gigs out there? We have a population of 300 million people in the US and you're worried about what might be a thousand jobs? Yeah. No.
"As a culture, we should embrace women in command. We should accept their eccentric behavior, and at times, the tantrums that come along with the extreme pressures of producing great work."
No. No we shouldn't. Tantrums come along with being an ass, not the "extreme pressures of producing great work".

I'm way not a fan of hierarchical structures (even though I'm at the head of one). But even where a hierarchy has practical advantages I'm way not a fan of ideologically celebrating them. They're stupid.

If you want to make a movie then make one. Stop not making a movie. It takes a phenomenal amount of work to make a movie -- get over it. And your first few movies will likely suck. So make some more until they don't suck anymore. (In my case that's "make a lot more until they don't suck anymore"). But just make 'em. Don't whine that someone else isn't hiring you. 

*Note that Blockbuster has hundreds of stores. They're still a decent sale.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Whoa

The price of movie-making cameras just keep plummeting. This Sony EA-50 looks like it might make a very nice shoulder-mount camera. And crumble buttons! It's less than $4K with a lens!

Standard Machine

Today is Standards and Practices Day in the Pandora Machine. We need a standard way to give our logo to distributors and buyers and suchlike.
Here is a standard for the three kinds of logos for us to create:
two color = logoname_2c.eps
black only = logoname_1c.eps
for reversing out = logoname_reverse.eps
UPDATE: my sister also suggests a 4-color CMYK version of the logo in .eps which I think is very smart of her.
I've noticed that some places specify the size of an .eps image -- as in the size that it prints. But that's not the point of the .eps, right? The point of the .eps is that it'll print from really tiny to 9 feet tall. Right?
UPDATE: my sister, who has all the actual brains in the family, pointed out that a big-sized logo in Illustrator would be irritating to a designer trying to put it in their DVD box or whatever because the big logo would obliterate the image behind it when you import it.
Andy Langdon looking dreamy in the engine room of the Prometheus.

Standard Mouse

Welcome to Standards and Practices Day in the Tyrannosaurus Mouse.

Actually, today's issues involve putting Prague Spring music up on Bandcamp so that our friend Ed can have his "Best Of" album. This work is being done while other machines are rendering.

Ripping music from my own CD's is not quite as easy as I'd hoped. But now I'm using Exact Audio Copy. Nevermind the spammy ads on their website, it comes well recommended. And although it won't actually fix the little glitches I'm getting in the song "Real World", at least it'll tell me that Real World needs to be fixed (and since the glitches appear in different places each time I rip the song I can edit together an unglitched version.

I've been trying to figure out the best naming scheme for ripped songs. There is advice on the Internet about this:

Artist/Album/track* - tracktitle

if the album is multidisc (like Beatles white album), I like:

Artist/Album/Disc 1/track* - tracktitle

[and I replaygain the entire album (all discs) as an album so the album gain is the same for all the discs....e.g., a 3 disc grateful dead show which is a single concert

If album is compilation disc, I use:

Compilations/Album/track* - tracktitle

(with /disc 1, etc. after album for multidisc sets)
Via.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Best of Prague Spring

Ed McNamee wants me to make a Prague Spring "best of" album. It would go like this:


Retrograde
the best of
Prague Spring

  1. Hold You Forever d
  2. What Will Be  y
  3. A Few Delicious Kisses  f
  4. Dona Nobis Pacem  y
  5. Real World  y
  6. A Fountain of Tears  d
  7. Give Me a Sign  y
  8. October River  f
  9. Another Wasted Afternoon  d
  10. Kyrie Eleison  d
  11. One Last Drink  f
  12. World Without End  y
All Songs by
Andrew Bellware
y   A Handful of Quietness - 1992
d   A Garden of Kisses - 1993
f   October River - 1995
I think I have to make a Bandcamp.com account for Prague Spring and put that music up first. "Retrograde" is, of course, my name for the record as Ed had suggested "Perennials" which to me doesn't exactly sound like Prague Spring. But who am I to say what Prague Spring sounds like? Oh. Right. Exactly.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Things Which Are In My "Mind"

The Copyright Office stresses me the heck out. Time was they would just take your money and your materials and file them away in case somebody decided to subject you to a lawsuit, or vice-versa. Nowadays they harass you for anything that seems wrong on your submission. Fact is that the only reason we file with the Copyright Office is because the distributors insist on it (so that their Chain of Title is clear and clean.)
+++++
We have locked acts 2 through 5 6 of Prometheus Trap. We are very close to being locked on the rest of the movie. A little color correction and off we go.
++++
We want Pandora Machine jackets. The problem is that everybody in this shop wants a different style of jacket. I have no idea what to do.
+++
Stu has a great post on shooting "flat" for grading later. We shoot as flat as we can with the GH1 (the blacks are still kinda sunk). But the fact is that we do a whole bunch of things to un-flatten any image we shoot. We have lights smash right down the lens -- blowing it up with flare. We let other parts of the frame sink down into the depths. And, as I pointed out, the GH1 does it's own job of sinking blacks.
++
Here's an important note for me to remember. The "motion logos" at the top of our movies go like this: Halcyon, Still Night, Pandora Machine. I do wish I knew what the actual Hollywood term for a "motion logo" is.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Day in the Life

A hundred drops in 90 days. I rolled to the bottom of Hill 623 only to find my Sergeant kicking the alien equivalent of a jeep over and over again. There were a half-dozen aliens lined up on their knees with their long hands clasped around their heads.
I ask the sarge what's wrong and he just keeps kicking the jeep over and over again while the aliens look at one another. Sarge just starts yelling in Spanish, which I can't understand.
One of the aliens looks at me and I look back. The alien says "Do you say 'he says' or 'he said'?"
I tell him that the sergeant is still yelling at the jeep, so probably "he says" is correct.
"He says he does not like the matriarch of..." The alien breaks off in confusion. "I'm not sure if he's talking about the vehicle, me, or you."
"All three of us, I'd guess."
The sergeant starts to smash the windows on the side of the jeep with the butt of his flechette rifle. The metal-laced safety glass splinters but doesn't really do anything that satisfying, which only makes him angrier with it.

I ignore him as his rant breaks into shouts "Madre madre madre!" or something like that (like I said, I don't know Spanish and he was wearing his helmet with comm off). So anyway I break out the rings we use to throw around the necks of the prisoners -- they have little transmitters on them which supposedly keep any of us from shooting at them for about 15 hours until we're off-planet. Which would be a real good trick except that even at this range the xmits aren't showing up on my grid and I'm right on freakin' top of them.
+++++
The pale green sun of this planet (X01556 — I had to look it up) made everything look like it was in a hospital. But you know, with a dirt floor and a sky instead of ceiling. I just started to wonder where my own squad was when two blue blips showed up on the HUD and it's Johnson and Russell.
"You see Ozawa or Martins?" I say to them.
Johnson, who used to be in my squad but ended up in Sarge's because they kept losing heavy weapons guys, looked at me like I was the insane one. "What the hell is Sarge...?" He just stops and doesn't know what to say.
"He's angry with the bug Jeep." I say, like it's obvious.
Russell walks over to the Sarge. I can tell he's going to open his big mouth and say something stupid.
"Sarge -- you want us to blow up this Jeep?"
The Sergeant stops yelling for a moment and stares at Russell, slack-jawed. Russell, like a buffoon, actually reaches around and grabs one of the big thermal grenades he likes to carry — like he's going to show it to the Sergeant and Sarge will say "Yeah, that's a great idea, let's do that!" Instead Sarge predictably turns back to the vehicle and starts to kick it again, and again, making big dents in the side of its ceramic armor.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Pleasure for the Empire

I figure the soundtrack-arm of the Pandora Machine should be a band called "Pleasure for the Empire". So far it is me and my cousin Jaime-Jin Lewis (who was drafted, she didn't volunteer.) And this is the remix of "Sucre"
This is music for our upcoming movie Prometheus Trap. File under "difficult listening hour."

Kitteh Post

Here's my brother Dave's cat "Sugar". She just went blind a few days ago. She's fairly old, doesn't seem to be hurtin'. Just can't see anymore.

The Most Terrible Thing Ever

Can we start talking about my first world problems?
My favorite bubble tea place is closing.
Now that doesn't mean that there's another store from the same chain that's equidistant from my office. Because there is.
But my favorite Ten Ren Tea shop on Lafayette Street is closing.
I expect frequent and sincere missives of condolences for this great tragedy which is happening to me.
Here is a picture of a bunny.

Recording Soundtracks

Jaime-Jin Lewis on violin.
Today was "bow the tailpiece day" in the Pandora Machine. We got some great tailpiece sounds, some great col legno sounds. It was a non-stop rock-out party with my lovely and talented cousin Jaime-Jin. She knocked this out of the park.
Groove to the sexy guitar amplifier behind her. Mmm.... Tyrannosaurus Mouse.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Education

So, I have a political blog which mostly exists because of one political observation that I have about the radical departure of US foreign policy toward Central and South America since President Clinton's election.
And when I became interested in the science of pedagogy I ended up posting stuff about it on my politics blog because for whatever reason "education" is a topic for a freakin' political firestorm here in the United States.
So I was going to put my pedagogical theory on my political blog but then I thought no, that's dumb. So it'll go here. Under this picture of a rabbit.
This rabbit is very interested in listening to your pedagogical theory.

This is a theory. I'm using made-up numbers.

You can teach 20% of the students pretty well with the system we have now, using about the same costs and personnel.
To get similar results from the next 20% of the students, you're going to need to double your resources.
The next 20% will take another doubling of resources. (4x)
And to get the next 20% of your students in the "general population" you're going to have to double again. And those students will not do quite as well as your top 20%. (8x).
If you go for 16 times the resources we have now we can substantially alter the academic performance of the bottom 20%.

And so sayith my theory for which I have no statistical evidence. Yet.

Moar Cats

Here's moar pictures of Five.
A closeup of Five with Ed.

V gets pettings from Todd

Moar pettings by Todd for Feivel.

Hanging With Childhood Friends

This week was about hanging with childhood friends Todd and Ed. No pictures of Todd really because, well, mostly because it was his camera.
Todd's picture of me. We're south of the Irish Hunger Memorial. It's like a chess temple. My only instruction to Todd: make me look thin.

Ed's cat "Five" (which could be "Cat 5" or "V" or "Feivel", which is what I called him.) He's sleeping in a bowl on the kitchen table. 

Five hangin' with his main bud Ed. He calls this "chillaxin". 

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

That Which Then Therefore

Tarantino Smith stars in Snow White Zombie (featuring live performance by Nat Cassidy and the Nines) as part of this year's Fringe Festival.
In Final Cut Pro when the sequence loops and it irritates you the "looping" checkbox is under the "View" tab. You're welcome, past self.
Clearly I need a Belstaff waxed jacket.
The S Icon Racing Jacket is probably my favorite but the Roadmaster is probably the way to go.
I usually don't like cake. But the ChocoBolo cakes are pretty good. I want one. Now.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Against Sarcasm

Or: unfinished thoughts.
+++++
So apparently I have a reputation for being sarcastic. I have what, if I were an 11-year-old, would be called "a mouth on me." This is troubling.
The thing is that sarcasm renders a fellow unable to communicate. Well, certainly unable to communicate sincerely. "That's a nice dress" gets retorted with "Bug off, jerkface." Which, you know, if you really do go around being sarcastic about the way people dress you probably should be told to bug off.

++++
I've been looking for a real analysis of Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel since I read it at the behest of my older brother a few years back. And boy it's hard to come by. Here's a survey of thoughts on the book. 
I gather that the political agendas of some academic departments are not served by GG&S. But the book is clearly (at least to me) written from a geographical viewpoint which discounts things like climate change and the possibility that different cultures might evolve differently even given the same resources. 
For me the big question has always been China. WTF China? Why were you guys all up on gunpowder, printing, and inventing pizza* a thousand years ago and then you came to a halt. Diamond spends very little time on this issue but the short version of his argument is that China became a single nation where Europe did not. So hierarchical decisions could be made by the Chinese government which would eradicate diversity of (say) exploration. The example he used was the... oh just read it.
+++
You know, if I didn't enjoy eating so much I'd lose weight.

*The "pizza" thing is, I believe, an urban myth.

ASCII Cat Day

Today is ASCII cat day.


    (\__/)
    (='.'=)

    Zzzzz  |\      _,,,--,,_        +-----------------------------+
           /,`.-'`'   ._  \-;;,_    | Why is there always a cat   |
          |,4-  ) )_   .;.(  `'-'   | on whatever you're editing? |
         '---''(_/._)-'(_\_) 
Here's my niece on Machu Picchu:
This needs to be an ASCII avatar but I can't find the ASCII version of it:


Sunday, August 05, 2012

Painted Skin

OK. I'm digging this:
 
Painted Skin 2. It's actually coming out in US theaters on August 17. And if you live in New York, LA, or San Francisco you'll be allowed to see it.
I mean leastwise before it comes out on video.

Poof

So a thing I like about Pamplamoose is how the kick drum sounds like a real kick. Or at least on this song it does. I kind of appreciate that orchestral/band bass drum sound. The trick is of course to get that sort of sound to work without the entire mix sounding like mud.

To Be or Otherwise

Friends of mine moved to Portland Oregon recently. And I'll tell you the truth, it looks like heaven.
I've done quite a bit of thinking about why I'm in New York City. It's expensive. It's noisy. It's expensive. It's dirty. It's expensive.
And many of the people we work with are from all over the world: Birmingham UK, Birmingham AL, The Netherlands, Seattle, Los Angeles, Melbourne. As far as those people are concerned it just doesn't matter where we are. We could move to some pleasure palace outside of Sedona, AZ or Ashville, NC, or even Portland OR.
The biggest problem is finding actors in those places. And yes, I'm including Los Angeles. And other than LA, all those places are easier to shoot in -- people are actually happy to have you come and shoot in their bar or drug store, etc. -- but you have to import your actors.
Also we really do need to have people come into our office and do ADR and edit and suchlike. That is really helpful.
So every once in a while I do a long hard think about what we're doing and where we should be. And each time I come to the conclusion that we should be where we are doing what we do. There's a lot of things which would be easier to do in (say) Bedford Pennsylvania, but for us right now this is the place to be.
Via.