Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Unloading some tabs again

The KWA KRISS Vector is an airsoft gun which runs on "green gas" and has a bit kick to it. The bolt ratchets back. Not a heavy amount of blowback like you'd expect with a real AR15 variant but a bit that might be enough to make it look good on camera.
Unfortunately it doesn't actually exist as of yet. They're still on "preorder". So uh, yeah.
Here's a post on Microsoft's hiring practices. From everything I've read about it, Microsoft is much much better at hiring than other people (especially Silicon Valley people) are.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Too Many Open Tabs

The Goblin Solo micro launcher.

Or the sexy Goblin Deuce kit.

They're both dual use airsoft and paintball markers with only one shot in 'em. Very sci-fi to me.
If you can read the Wall Street Journal then you can read this article about a local video store. They didn't have Feast III. Dude says to me "I know someone who was in it." I was all like "You know somebody in it and you don't carry it? Dude."
He was all like "I know."

Six Easy Days

I have no idea why exactly I'm doing this. But I'm on page 54 of a rewrite of "No Easy Day" making it into a sci-fi thriller about the Mobile Infantry.

Things that No Easy Day have in common with Starship Troopers include a complete lack of critical distance on the part of the authors. The absolutism in Starship Troopers is so enormous that you might start to question the reliability of the narrator. (The idiocy of the Fascism in Starship Troopers is, in fact, impossible to not parody when set to film.)
In No Easy Day they do things which the author doesn't even momentarily think about the ramifications of. Like when they steal some women's underwear from a house they're searching in Afghanistan. The SEALs think it's funny for them to parade around wearing some Afghani woman's bra. And it never occurs to "Mark Owen" that maybe some of the people who might be swayed one way or the other in Afghanistan might be swayed away from American policy because of that behavior. Or he never wondered what it would be like if soldiers came to his house in Alaska and did that with his sisters' bras. Or... well anything.
So anyway I decided to rewrite it. At first I was like "I'm going to do a word find and replace and turn 'helicopters' into 'landing boats' and turn AK 47's into 'SAG pulse rifles' and be done with it."
But of course that's not the way its going. I've gone and made the story much darker. And it's much more influenced by Dispatches. And it's not altogether pro-Mobile Infantry, but the narrator is. That narrator being very, very unreliable.
I'm also having most of the story take place in the Belt of Orion.
And the direction it's taking is much more grimdark than either Starship Troopers or No Easy Day.
Is it like I have nothing better to do with my time than write a Pride and Prejudice and Zombies version of No Easy Day? Not at all. I have to render dragons. Okay, so rendering dragons is its own reward. Or at least I need something to do while rendering dragons. But I could be prepping or next movie. And yeah, I am doing that. But just let me finish this dang book.

Dragon Renderer

My grandpappy was a dragon renderer. My daddy was a dragon renderer. Ah got my brothers, they're all dragon renderers. My momma used to render dragons 'till she got too sick to work in the dragon rendering mines. I got two cousins who are dragon renderers up in Altoona. I guess I got dragon renderin' in my blood.

C'mon. These LED lights are cool. Literally and figuratively. Yeah, seven-thousand bucks gets you the equivalent of a 2500-watt HMI. I really dislike HMI's. I mean I dislike them personally. They say mean stuff about my mom. I've been in more than one bar fight with an HMI. Let me tell you, those ballasts are heavy.

John Scalzi on the 1000 True Fans concept.

If I'd had this multiple-math-thing calculator in the 2nd grade I would have been much happier. 
1102: Callista the dragon watches Amelia (Julia-Rae Maldonado) eat a Choco Nom-Nom.
Nathan Vegdahl, who animated the above dragon, uses Dreamhost for web storage and Linode for applications.

If, in the next six weeks, you ask me what I'm doing, the answer will be the same.
"Rendering dragons".

Sometimes I blog for my parents

And this is one of those times.
Remember: the national Do Not Call Registry is your friend. Register your telephone numbers. Only use the ".gov" domain for doing stuff like that. For instance, if you're my parents, click on the link above and follow the instructions. You can add your home and cell phone numbers all at once.
Note that you will get a separate email for each phone number you enter, asking that you confirm. Make sure you click on the link in each email confirmation (and make sure the emails don't end up in your spam folder like they did with me.)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

C'est La La

Today I struggle with knowing if 24-bit or 16-bit is really better for recordings (not mixing) of rock bands.
In similar vein I wish to know if I should care about 96kHz.

In both cases I just want the cheaper one to be better. I'm just not sure if they are.

Meh. I'm pretty sure.

Also, I've learned that I do not care much about the difference between a film dissolve and a cross dissolve. Yes, there's a difference. I'm just not sure I care about it that much.
Did I get much actually done today? Not as much as I'd have liked. But I guess that's every day. We have this beautiful Steve Niles script which needs to be boarded out. Or at least scheduled.
At the same time I have to finish laying out all the visual effects we need in the dragon picture.
I'm about halfway through slugging and delivering plates for the animator. Can I tell you that John Dillon has been doing a simply bangup job on the post-production here?
Holy cats Seed&Spark seems to be poorly thought out. Although, I don't have a lot of positive things to say about the art-house indy film part of the industry. So maybe for movies made by people who don't know how to make movies, making movies that will never be distributed, it's a perfectly fine idea. But selecting G&E gear from a drop-down list is an absurd activity. I tried Justcloud but it seemed a bit... scammy. Their 15GB free account is limited... to 5MB. Right? I de-installed it. I use SugarSync (free) on all my computers, iDrive (for which I pay -- on my Mac), and Backblaze (for which I pay -- on my PC).

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wonderment and Suchlike

So you're wondering about my standing desk. You're thinking "I wonder if Drew wants to invade Iraq without assembling enough men or materiel to do it?"
The answer is no.
But as far as making my legs feel better, the answer is yes. At least so far. It's not a world of comfortable to stand and write. But the fact is that I go back-and-forth from the standing workstation to sitting down again at another computer a whole bunch.
Remembrest thou that the desk was supposed to only cost $22? And that since I didn't use the shelf it was even cheaper than that (like, theoretically $7?) Well, preemptively I got one of these standing mats for another 20 bucks. Click through. Buy one for yourself. Your knees will thank you.

 Those mats are impossible to photograph. So just trust that I'm standing on one.

You know what I've been buying like it's candy? These little portable hard drives:

We use them for deliverables. Our distributor yells at us if we give him anything other than 800 Firewire drives and these sexy little things have everything and they can totally be buss-powered.
Another thing they work great for is hooking up to a Sound Devices recorder in order to make a simultaneous hard-drive recordings along with the recording on the CF card. Again, no external power is needed.

My Things for Today

Apparently Lucy Liu is a terrible driver.
Mac wonders: my startup disc is/was messed up. But having been cursed by Baba Yar, very few of my DVD drives actually work. This means I can't boot with the OSX install DVD in order to repair the disc. To which I say bleh.
But there's a solution. Applejack lets you go into Unix and repair stuff automagically. UNIX. Because who doesn't like computing like it's 1982?

Our own Julia Rae Maldonado is in the Strawberry One-Act Festival with "When Greenland Melted". March 1st. Be there or be square.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Six Easy Days

Because, apparently, I have nothing better to do with my time (wait, uh...) I've been re-writing No Easy Day to be an Old Man's War/Starship Troopers book. This is an utterly absurd activity. I don't know if I'll finish it. There are so many more important things I should be doing.
Who doesn't love the -8003 error on Macs? It's just a helpful error code, isn't it? Anyway, I can't delete my trash, which means that my render failed to go onto an empty drive (because, you see, the trash isn't empty even if Finder shows no files on it). So I look up the issue.
Turns out that a company called Titanium Software makes freeware for OSX so that the operating system, you know, works. Because Apple couldn't be bothered apparently.
Considering that I was supposed to have this delivery made today this situation is... less than good.
And yes, if you're a PC person and you're reading this you'll say "Why don't you just get a PC so you can actually empty your trash?" Well, you'd be right, but then I'd run into some other problem and all the Mac people would be like "Why don't you get a Mac and then all your problems will be solved?"
Ooh. And it looks like Onyx by Titanium Software may have actually emptied the trash on the Mac. Oh frabjous day.
What's 135.76GB? The 1920x1080 version of Angry Planet.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

125th Street

Tom Rowen made a short, Uptown 125th Street, and here's an early cut.

It has everyone in it. Tom Rowen, Maduka Steady, Christopher Pope, David Frey, David Ian Lee, Dave Chontos.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Stand Up

Because the new big fad is standing desks, I made myself one. I went to Ikea and got myself the parts from this article on making a desk for $22.
The notion is that you're just putting a small desk on top of your regular desk. So that cheap little $7 Ikea desk is just fine.
What happened was that it turned out that on my desk, the Ikea side-table thing is almost EXACTLY the right size for me. So I did not add the shelf with the brackets. I did, however, have to raise the monitor a bit so I'm not looking down at it.
The keyboard seems to be at the right height for me. It feels pretty right at least. And it matches the diagram from the article above.
 The other odd benefit is the increase of desk space.

There are kinks to work out. With the monitor so high I end up looking into one of the light sconces in the office. This is less that good. And speaking of light, I managed to cover up the sconce over my desk (while simultaneously looking into the light -- good trick) so we need more light in the office.
And the audio monitoring situation is a mess right now. I have to get that worked out. Mixing while standing -- it's going to be interesting.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

This is Why I'm Not Asleep

Apparently, Kathryn Bigelow's piece of agitprop irritates me. At least that's what I've been told. And then I write things on the Internet about it. But so many people are better at writing about it than me.

However compelling the heroine’s determination to find bin Laden may be, the fact is that Bigelow has bought in, hook, line, and sinker, to the ethos of the Bush administration and its apologists. It’s as if she had followed an old government memo and decided to offer in fictional form step-by-step instructions for the creation, implementation, and selling of Bush-era torture and detention policies.

Bigelow and her supporters seem to want to turn the debate into a strawman -- that people object to the depiction of torture itself and not the made-up consequences that Bigelow's movie says it has (getting real, actionable intelligence from suspects.)
Bigelow's claim that "depicting" torture is in no way the same as "endorsing" is particularly disingenuous given that her critics have clearly argued that it's the lack of accurate context in which it occurred, not the depiction itself, that is so problematic. Similarly, her argument in defence of her focus on the use of torture - that it was a part of the "history" the film explores and thus had to be represented - only works to the extent the film accurately reflects the actual events and conflicts surrounding torture's use, which it does not do.
Right. You gotta pick one, Bigelow.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Kaleb Lechowski

Here's a groovy little short film by a guy named Kaleb Lechowski. It's all CG. Note how much the robot looks like a more complicated version of the robot Ian Hubert built for us in Android Insurrection.

Brutal Budget

So. I'm thinking to myself "I gotta make our next movie look like it cost forty-million dollars."
Question is, how are we going to do that?
Now, we have this awesome script. The trick is making it look like a lot of money. I think the place we need to work on right now isn't necessarily CG but rather new sets.
Much of this screenplay takes place inside an apartment in NYC in the future. So I'm all thinking, you know, Fifth Element.
Let me tell you. I am not the first person to think about this apartment set. You look up "fifth element apartment" on your interwebs and you're going to see that a lot of people have gone and replicated it.

Here's a Maya rendering of the apartment. It's helpful, actually, for some of the detail. We don't care specifically about what-goes-where, but rather it's inspiration for making alcoves and suchly in our own set.
Sure, it would be helpful to have Milla Jovovich in the picture.
And I'll admit to having a thing for fluorescent lights (and, according to reviews of my movies, redheads.)
I might go for a somewhat more "brutalist" look. Mostly because it's easier to photograph humans against a more burnt umber color. But it could be the inspiration of the Brutalist building across the street from our studio.
This is not brutalist, but is kind of cool.
I'm also somewhat inspired by the look of this Dredd movie. They did have some expensive sets, which we can't afford, but they did some interesting things with cityscapes and wide shots, some of which we can do.
I want an APS-C camera that will shoot 3200 ISO with at least 6 stops above and below exposure. I want no rolling shutter. I almost don't care how compressed the image is. Almost.
Don't worry, this image is gratuitous.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Just Notes Folks

If you want to see my notes on a screenplay you can't read then please, keep going. Otherwise nope. There's nothing to read in this post.
I thought way back in the day (meaning two days ago) that Barbara should be a ground operator for mechs. That makes it so she's like a team leader for the good robots. She has an implant on her skull which gets destroyed. It's goo enough to control an android if she replaces herself with it, but not to actually control a drone platoon. Does that even make sense? I thought that way she could be seen more easily in the Philadelphia Desert. (Comically, the "Philadelphia Desert" is an idea that Montserrat Mendez came up with on Earthkiller and I think we've used it in three movies so far.)
Barbara and Vicky seem more like sisters than friends. They get into a political spat so quickly -- friends wouldn't tend to do that but sisters would. Especially if they're on such opposite sides. Kind of like the story about the two brothers -- one who became a Green Beret and the other took asylum in Canada during the Vietnam War.
Are we going for the Supreme Leader also being an A.I.?
When the gang first meets up with Android Barbara I think it would be awesome if one of them really hated her and smacked her without warning. Smacks her. Kisses her. Smacks her again. I figure Alvarez for that part. She's jealous of both of 'em. Love triangle!
In the first scene -- what if Barbara hears an order to let some enemy robots go through to the city? She objects and Mission tells her to not pay any attention to the order she just heard.
Instead of calling it a Holocaster, how about just a "jack"? Or something like that? I think we'd get it, the audience would get it, and that's how people familiar with the technology would say it.
Maybe the kind of android she is isn't a combat-capable model? That would explain how they could have restrained her.

Scene 30 -- lets keep these locations in the same room. They have the jack right there.
32 -- I think Barbara has a one-room apartment like The Fifth Element. Somebody want to build that for us?
If the doctor makes house calls and a gang just shows up at her apartment it means a lot fewer sets we need to build. I figure he has a crew of techs. Or heck, they don't even use a doctor, it's just a bunch of low level medical plumbers (including Ryan) who show up, do the work right there, and leave. Not having a hospital means one fewer target for the robots to try to hit, know what I mean? Everything's mobile.
40 -- if we're going to do the whole thing in her apartment then it's possible she could have been in the shower when he comes in or something.
I feel like we're missing one bit of intrigue here. Barbara shouldn't trust Ryan. They should mistrust one another in every scene. I think they should start to get evidence that the Supreme Commander is another AI and that there's a whole

I'm Going to Ramble Now

There are partial spoilers about the recent Judge Dredd movie in this post.
This post is a list of random stuff which came out of my brain.
I'm glad we're all on the same page now.

Dredd is a surprisingly interesting film.
The slow-motion in it, which is beautiful, is also integral to the story. There's a drug which makes everything slow down. So the slow-motion is actually a part of the plot. Not a super-duper important part of the plot, but a part anyway.
There is no B story. And honestly you can feel it missing. There were a million different possibilities for the B story. In, like, the third scene Dredd is described as someone in control, but behind that is anger, and behind that is something else. We never went there. The villain had a potentially engaging story but we never went there either. And, of course, there's the inherent problem of the neo-Facist police state (which was addressed in the first movie but not in this one.)
The story isn't Dredd's. It's mutant psychic girl's. But her powers end up having relatively little effect on the story.

You finally get to see that Lannister get her comeuppance. Honestly she's such a good actor I couldn't recognize her but I was all like there's something familiar about her. So I looked her up on the imdb's and was all like oh, it's her.
I've seen so many movies lately, Jack Reacher or Zero Dark Thirty, which are shot un-artfully.  So it's kind of relief to see a movie where they actually care what the frame looks like.

I'm going to go out there and admit that I kind of like 2D blood. I like 3D CG blood even better (I don't mean a stereo visual effect because I hate 3D, I mean I like it when it was generated in a 3D animation program.)
I feel like Django Unchained used quite a bit of CG (but not 2D) blood. I say that because I'm under the impression that getting those long spurts of blood in a squib are very hard. 
The color in this movie is just beautiful. It's mostly an amber-and-emerald movie.
I find it amusing that Brutalist architecture is such an easy signifier for Fascism. I want someone to make a 3D model of that AT&T switch across the street from my office so I can use that building in all my movies from now on.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Torture and You

Naomi Wolfe makes excellent points in this article.
Zero Dark Thirty is a gorgeously-shot, two-hour ad for keeping intelligence agents who committed crimes against Guantánamo prisoners out of jail.
G. Roger Denson makes spectacularly incoherent rebuttals. Apparently because Leon Panetta says we got good information from torture, it's true. Not because Panetta has any vested interest in trying to prove it's true. Also, if we just knew and understood that Kathryn Bigelow was a "semiotician" then, well, we'd know that the movie itself couldn't be justifying torture. No sir. Not us.

Do you know what movie is less pro-torture than Zero Dark Thirty? Dredd.

I'm gonna let that sink in for a while.

Propaganda for the New Reich

Kathryn Bigelow as Dick Cheney's Leni Riefenstahl.
The first guy the protagonists torture in the movie doesn't give them any actionable intelligence until they stop torturing him. The characters, however, don't seem to notice this chain of events and simply complain how (under Obama) the secret detention program was closed down.
And then there's a whole montage of confirming the intelligence they got with people who were being tortured and people who didn't want to be tortured any more.
So even after the events in the narrative of the movie showed that torture didn't work, the movie itself continues as though it did.
Um. What?
So, according to Zero Dark Thirty, torture worked in the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. It didn't. But there are a lot of people who'd like to think it did and now they have a nice little piece of propaganda to show that it did.
I'm not the only one here who thinks this.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013


Today is the day that's all about reading about expendables.  At a buck a piece there are powder rounds for .68mm paintball guns. There's also sparking, grease, dust, and paint balls.
I'm also experimenting with Maduka suggested them because they'll transfer files up to 2GB. And you know, we need to move files that size all the time. So we'll see. I've got a file just a tad over 1GB and so far it says I've got 3 hours remaining to upload. The slowness is, without a doubt, the fault of my own ISP.
Rebecca brought me pounds of gingerbread cookies from Germany. This is not, nor can it come, to good. I gotta unload these cookies on people or I'll never lose any weight.
She also likes this sci-fi movie called Love.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Things in My Brain Today

Of the things that are happening, Adobe is giving away CS2. Here. Maybe. Right now the site is down.
This is a really funny list of things about making a film. Here is my favorite quote:
40. To get a job a director must persuade the producer that they will do a better job than their previous work suggests they will.
An article about making a standing desk. With just, you know, twenty bucks of shelves from IKEA.
Would a standing desk irritate the hell out of me? Maybe. Would it be good for me? I have no idea.

That's pretty much it for what's in my brain today.


Up until yesterday my only experience with the DMCA was fake requests placed against my own YouTube videos from slimy European licensing organizations (who were looking to put ads in or next to our videos, claiming that they owned the videos -- I've contested and won all of those.)
But two nights ago I was contacted by an actor who was upset because a clip from one of our movies showed up on a porn site. The videos on this porn site are uploaded by users so I logged on and filed a DMCA complaint. The site had a decent form for doing that, actually.
And by Sunday night the video was down. Whew.
So, that was a new one for me.

Friday, January 04, 2013

The Internet, She Is My Notebook

Make the opening more like a Power Point presentation with bullet points.
Call the test something cool like Voight Kampf. But you know, not actually Voight Kampf. Maybe the "Csulik Niles test".
Point out that the Crossworlders speak our languages natively.
Point out the suspicion that Crossworlders are responsible for everything bad that's ever happened to us.
While they are able to experience emotion, they are unable to articulate it in words, lacking the capacity to express abstract concepts or use metaphor or symbolism.
That's freakin' brilliant.
Do we think the alt-humans would call us something like "alpha-humans" or "omega-humans"? Maybe one of the students calls us "omega-humans" and Megan stops them, saying that referring to them as "omegas" marks you as an alt-human right away. So "we don't use that word".
Scene 25 -- should the number of alt-humans that have been eliminated be more like fifteen thousand or such?
Should we establish that people get tested when they're "denounced"?
We shouldn't have anything written down that would need to be subtitled. Overseas distributors hate text on screen.
Scene 36. You know I hate news reports. Ha!
39 -- establish that Pundo sold them out so he could get more drugs.
We keep needing observation rooms. How do we build an observation room?

Hear Hear!

Voice mail is annoying. Especially on cell phones, on which it seems designed by the furies to punish everyone, not just the people who mock the gods.
-- John Scalzi

Thursday, January 03, 2013

So Yeah

I found this funny.
The caption reads "I rented Prometheus and found this in the box".
Saw Jack Reacher. It was "workmanlike" both in the writing and directing. Neither was that big a deal, a couple clunky scenes, but otherwise well... workmanlike.

Book Report

I read No Easy Day, the firsthand account of the killing of Osama bin Laden. It's a pretty good read.
The pre-release criticism of the book was all around the book having classified information in it.
It so does not have any classified information in it.
Here's what you learn if you're a terrorist: if the US government knows where you are, and decides to send in DEVGRU to kill you, you're going to be dead. There. That's the secret knowledge you will get. Also: you will learn that the guys killing you are allowed to select their favorite guns to kill you with.
One thing that's kind of funny is that "Mark Owen", the author, is very anti-Obama. And he has zero ironic distance.

He complains endlessly about Obama but then talks about the complete mess that the 2007 Tora Bora hunt for bin Laden went.
Then he mentions that the SEALS were given almost carte blanche in training for the actual mission that killed bin Laden in 2011 and points out that they'd never had that before.
Hmm... so what was the difference between 2007 and 2011?
Oh wait, I know. But... that can't be it.
So. Special Forces. I guess they don't select for distance from your ideology.