Sunday, June 30, 2013

Park That

As far as I can tell there's basically only one street in lower Manhattan which has single-day alternate-side parking. That's this little patch of Harrison Street.
There's probably a handful of other places but, like all things in New York, someone else has realized this. So you probably actually have to sit in your car at 8am on a Tuesday (on the south side) in order to get a spot (meaning, you move your car for when the street cleaning machine comes and then you go right back to your spot and wait out the meter maids*).

*Yeah, I know, I can only think of the Beatles song. But what are they actually called? They used to be called "brownies" because they had brown uniforms, no? What are they called now?

9 to 15 Months

So we're looking to the future. As one does. Our sales rep says we should look 9 to 15 months into the future at other big sci-fi features coming out. You know, on the mockbuster tip.
Not that we really do mockbusters, but if we can make a movie that can draft on another title, you know we'll do it.
So looking at movies. Sci-fi movies coming out in 2014.

Jupiter Ascending.
Our Robot Overlords (which, although I have no idea what it is, certainly sounds like a Pandora Machine movie, doesn't it?)
Untitled Blade Runner Project. Let's shoot some replicants.

Wrap on Principal Photography

Yep. We wrapped. A guerrilla style shoot.
At the Android Masquerade Jared Van Heel (as Tanner), Kate Britton (as Barbara Slade), and Ruby Thomas (as Janice 213).
 The white balance was set to 7000 Kelvin. Other than that there was no lighting done specifically for these shots. The only trouble I got into was the camera didn't always want to autofocus on Ruby. So I threw it into manual a couple times.

The thing is that the spa attached to our office is supposed to go home at 7:30pm. Tonight they never left. Which mean that the lights stayed on. Which meant that there was no playing with the lighting. We were expecting to bring in some extension cords and light the whole thing. But it was already lit. So. Uh. Who knows?

It would have been nice if we could have gotten the music turned off but instead we just had the actors play like they were in a loud store and we'll put some loud music in later.
We wanted the role of Janice to be as inappropriately touchy-feely as we could go.

We also went in a general way for "weird". I actually started using the word "creepy" as a direction.

We used a thigh rig on a mini Lectro transmitter on Ruby with the transmitter hidden as high as it could go. Luckily those transmitters are the smallest there are.

We did no dressing. We didn't exactly ask if we could use this location. But it's the place we have to walk through to get to our bathrooms. And we were very well behaved.

The crew was one. Me. I became quite shvitzig.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Wherein I find costumes

Here's Ruby Thomas trying on her new costume.

The Queen of Mars found those shoes for only 8 dollars. But the dress came out of my personal collection I ordered online.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Edit Payroll Busses 9v

Magix, the same people who make Samplitude, have had their own video editing program for a while. Now they call it Video Pro X.
Production payroll companies.
How to take a bus from New York to DC and back again.
The BeachTek 9v rechargable battery (I'm guessing these are specifically for Lectrosonics digital receivers which are power hogs.)


Sometimes Caucasian writers are afraid to show any warts with Black characters because they don’t want to appear racist. It’s not about making us look negative, but about making us fully human.

Ato Essandoh interview on Copper.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

L'Historie du Aspect Ratio

This clears up a lot of things about the weird history of aspect ratios.

Thanks for making this, you making this dudes!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Your things for today

Our own Betty Ouyong's movie Pie Head is being distributed by ITN.
Alana Jackler has a new YouTube channel, SciFiRiot.

Six of Seven

On our penultimate day of principal photography we went out into the deep wilds of the Hickory Run State Park in Pennsylvania.
Kate Britton lines up a shot.
 Specifically we shot in the Hickory Run Boulder Field, which is this crazy field of (you guess it!) boulders.
Queen of Mars, Kevin Kirner, Joe Chapman. Those aren't extras behind them, nor are they alien robots (as far as we know). A surprising number of people were in this park on a Monday.
Thing one: it was hot. I mean like frying eggs on the rocks hot. I was practically burned out after being in the direct sun for 20 minutes. Good grief. It was hot out there.
Why does everyone think "Mad Max" when they see Kate's uniform? Is there like an Australian poster for the movie where he's wearing a similar helmet?
Thing two: the boulder field, while it looked cool, was impossible to walk on. You couldn't just move a few feet one way or the other without really taking your time not to break an ankle.
I cannot even begin to tell you how important ice cream break was.
The third thing about the boulder field is that we really didn't have the right kind of horizon. So the ground looked very cool. But the horizon was just green Pennsylvania trees.
The helmet makes it VERY difficult to sight through.
Lastly I almost had a coronary when the Panasonic GH3 decided it simply wouldn't play back any of the footage we'd shot in the latter part of the day. I just looked at it on my laptop -- it seems to all be there (in fact there are some stills above). But why did it do that? I have zero idea.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Tovarisch Teatro

The communists over at the Green Room Blog are demanding a union for interns. Soon there will be an armed uprising and interns around the world will o'erthrow their chains.
Are you ready? I am.

Although I don't really understand the purpose of interns. Now, let's be mightily clear here, everyone working at the Pandora Machine is uncompensated. At least monetarily. I like to think that we are at least nice to everyone.
But "interns" are nominally spectacularly un-useful. There was a saying back at the Wooster Group: "never give an intern an intern's job"; because they'd always screw it up.
Okay, so interns are less helpful than "volunteers". We ran a theater for 12 years with "volunteers" and only had the occasional and intermittent intern. At the same time interns in most organizations are typically oppressed as well as useless. So essentially everyone loses. How can this be?
Supposedly interns are supposed to be learning. Typically they're just making photocopies and answering telephones.  I don't really know that one is learning much from either the phone or the Xerox. There might be some interns -- law offices maybe? -- where interns do actually gain some small amount of insight. But uh. Not really.
The irony is that an intern's union would be likely good for employers too. Some actually organized group of interns might both make for more competent interns as well as a better experience for the interns.
What I'd really like to understand is how student unions work in Europe.


I declare the Celtx call sheets to be actually usable. They populate automatically from the scheduling software right within Celtx.
My one complaint is that they propagate all the information like "location" and "contacts" populates both forward into all future call sheets but also backwards into previous ones. This is a bit of a pain in the tuchus if you're going back to previous locations.
Also it would be nice if there were a dedicated space on the call sheet for "nearest hospital".

I also declare that we will not be using Premiere to edit Android Masquerade. We're going to wait a few months to be ready to work in Premiere by using Final Cut Pro. The reasons for this are primarily that we need a better way to deal with color-correction in Premiere than the effects which are native to it. In other words I need to upgrade Magic Bullet and I'm using a pretty old version now.
Moving to Premiere has tremendous advantages for us. Now that we're shooting h264 Quicktime movies we can edit without transcoding in Premiere. In fact, we'd be able to edit even in AVCHD in Premiere. But Final Cut won't really work well with .h264 files. So it's ProRes -- transcoding using MPEG Streamclip.
What else do we want or need?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Blog, Biz, Buh

You are aware, aren't you, that there are a selection of blogs here for you to choose from, right? This blog is my "personal" blog which can have any random thought in it at all. The official blog for Pandora Machine is at and has pictures from our movies and links to trailers and things. The blog for music (at least in my world) is and has links to music and such.
The nonsensical infographic we use to create a business plan. You're welcome.
In any case, I'm going to work out some things in my head now. The movie business is... well it's a simply terrible business. In this Salon article the studio business is basically one that had a 10% profit margin before the collapse of the DVD market, and now has a 6% margin.
And the interesting thing is that so goes the big studios so, in some way, goes us. Now it's true that small businesses tend to run higher profit margins than big ones -- otherwise they couldn't stay in business. But it's also true there's a lot of unpaid labor involved. Most of the unpaid labor is mine, but in our case there is quite a bit done by others. Although not paying people can work for a while it is not sustainable. At some point one needs to get paid.
"The loss of DVDs for our business had created a desperate need for a new area of growth. This was why the international market has become so important a factor in creative decisions, like casting and what movies the studios make."
This is certainly true of the micro-studio. Our domestic sales are maybe a third of our total sales. Sometimes they're as low as just a few percent of the revenue on a movie. North America is very hard to sell to.

The Asylum made 11 pictures last year.  I'm going to go and guess that their budgets are around the $100K mark. I'm sure some of their pictures come up on the quarter-million dollar price point but not all of them. But maybe that's just costs without overhead. I'm just making up numbers now. But 11 pictures. That's a real number. And they can stay in business that way.

I'm thinking 8 pictures a year for Pandora Machine. Whew. That's going to take a lot of work. We're not up to 3 right now. Maybe we should shoot for 6. But we really need to make 8.

1301 Day 5 (which is reel 4)

This is a British riot helmet. Probably used to put down a miners strike. In any case, it has much better use here as a helmet of the Terran Defense Force.
 I have not gotten the reel number to actually match the day number in several movies now. I really have to work on it.
Maduka Steady cops his best rock-star pose as Linus in Android Masquerade.
Kate Britton is suited up and ready to fight some robots.

Here's Kate geared up (but in front of a grey background.)

Over-the-shoulder I found this great reflection in the red-dot scope which Joe had put on our 11mm paintgun.

Jared Van Heel smiles knowing this was the martini of the day.
I've been experimenting with changing the color temperature of the white balance scene to scene. This, to me, is a bit interesting. We can swing to blue (I think the bulk of the day was shot at about 3300K) or very bronze (when making the color temperature more like 10,000K).
Man, the GH3 at the highest bit rate sure does use up hard drive space. I do hope it's worthwhile to shoot at a high bit rate. Hopefully that means the lowest couple of stops will be boostable cleanly. We'll find out.
I have to figure out if we want to edit on Premiere or Final Cut. One huge advantage for Premiere is that it'll edit the h264 files without becoming cranky. With Final Cut we'd have to transcode all the footage.
The GH3 does a weird thing -- the picture doesn't seem to come into focus until I go into record. I don't know what's up with that.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Day 4 (Reel 3B)

I do like that the GH3 names files sequentially AND doesn't seem to go back to "1" when one re-formats the camera.
But boy, shooting at a high bit rate takes up data like crazy. We only get about an hour on a 32-GB SD card.
Martian art. Created by the Queen, thereof.

Brianna June Tillo, Joe Chapman (er, "raising the roof"? I have no idea), Mary Hodges, and Jared Van Heel getting ready for the big operation.
 Call time was 12:30pm in Jersey City. We got back to Jersey City by about 1am. I need a nap.
Mary Hodges with a very wicked syringe filled with nanobots.

Mary Hodges.
 All 1600 ISO all f2.8 at a shutter of 1/50 all day long.
Brianna June Tillo waiting for her sister.
 I have a feeling that the high bit rate will help with the blacks. Keeping them from getting all grainy. I do have to figure out why the camera looks slightly out of focus just before we start rolling. I'm sure there's a reason.
One android against a nation of a million robots (to be inserted).

Day 4 (which is only the third reel) A

The Queen of Mars hangs her beautiful Martian artwork.
Shooting at a very high bitrate with the GH3. Trying to use the Wi-Fi as video tap did not work so well for us.
Kate Britton as Barbara.

Brianna June Tillo as Vicky.

Kate Britton.

Brianna and Julia Rae Maldonado as the android version of Barbara.

The Queen of Mars looks on as Julia and Brianna look to the mirror.

Barbara's squalid apartment gets messier every day.
Eating strawberries and popcorn beneath the alien art.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Data Dump

The Zoom H6 will be a portable 6-track recorder for only $400.
I also realized that I can get 10 analog inputs with my Focusrite 18i6 and the Apogee Mini-me.

RCCNY June 19 2013
The Amateur Mind
Professionals are never satisfied.
T226 movement 3 take 1
(Note to Drew: Gain at 36.1, Oktava mics)
T232 movement 3 take 2
T235 take 3 w/pu ("with pickup")
T243 take 1 w/pu
T245 movement 2 take 2
T247 take 3
T248 last chord take 2
T250 take 4 (noises over beginning)
T253 Movement number 4 take 1
T254 movement number 4 take 2
T256 pu ending
T257 pu take 2
T258 pu take 3
T260 number 5 take 1
T264 take 2
T227 pu
T269 with marker for video w/repeat of number 2 (and others) w/ number 4  w/ number 5
T270 w/ 2 "claps" (multiple takes)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Fiddly but cheap

Basically there are no portable little desktop workstations which will record more than 8 tracks at a time. As far as I can tell. And Yamaha seems to simply be out of the market.
But here's the thing: I have a Tascam 680 (six-channel) portable recorder. And I also co-own a Sound Devices 702 which has very nice preamps. And then Greg has a Fostex 2-channel machine. So if, and yeah it's annoying, but if we used all three machines we'd have 10 channels of pure love.
The Tascam US-2000 is the only sub-$1000 box that'll help. I mean, it needs a computer but at least it's USB. Yeah, there are some standalone 16-track machines at about $500 but meh.

The line inputs on the US-2000 can only handle +20dBu. And the mic inputs are even worse, only being able to put up with +12dBu before they crap out. For those of you playing along at home the "instrument" level inputs will only do +16.
(Ugh. I hate typing "+" in blogger now because it apparently wants me to link things to some dumb Google Hangouts thingy. Bleh.)
So, getting back to recording on three separate recorders. It's very fiddly. And one has to line up the tracks all by hand. Truthfully I end up lining up tracks by hand much of the time anyway.

Okay but I still have to figure out how we want to split out the tracks. We'll be recording at 48kHz and 24-bit. We're doing that just... because. I don't even want to have to justify it anymore, it's just the way things are.

Kick -- Lindell preamp 1
Snare -- Lindell preamp 2 to Fostex
OH L -- Neve 1
OH R -- Neve 2
Tom 1 -- Sound Devices 702 Left
Tom 2 -- Sound Devices 702 Right
Bass -- Aphex tube preamp 2
Greg's guitar -- Neve 3. Or. Or we could use a Lindell preamp (because we did one recording with the Lindell and it sounded pretty good) is a possibility. If we were to do that we could flip one of the Neves to the kick (which also tends to work as a room mic.)
Drew's guitar -- Neve 4
Adjunct bass -- because what band doesn't need two basses? This would be a Countryman or an Aphex channel to the right channel of the Fostex

So that's 10 channels of recording. Three recorders -- the Tascam, a Fostex, and a Sound Devices. We have 8 outboard mic preamps (two Lindell, four Neve, two Aphex). This will work. And it'll only be slightly annoying to set up. And slightly annoying to re-align and mix.
The other option is some other sort of recorder. I don't know. But now you don't know as much as I don't know. So there.

Why I Love Dick Francis

Page 137. The lead character in Smokescreen (Francis almost always writes in the first-person) meets up with a hipster in 1972 South Africa.
His flat was small but predictably full of impact. A black sack chair flopped on a pale olive carpet: khaki-coloured walls sprouted huge brass lamp brackets between large canvasses of ultra simple abstracts in brash challenging colours: a low glass-topped table stood before an imitation tiger skin sofa of a stark square construction; and an Andy Warholish imitation can of beer stood waist high in a corner. Desperately trendy, the whole thing; giving, like its incumbent, the impression that way out was where it was all at, man, and if you weren't out there as far as you could go you might as well be dead. It seemed a foregone conclusion that he smoked pot.
Naturally, he had an expensive stereo. The music he chose was less underground than could be got in London, but the mix of anarchy and self-pity came across strongly in the nasal voices. I wondered whether it was just part of the image, or whether he sincerely enjoyed it.
Apparently Francis wrote his books very closely with his wife. So who knows, maybe she's the one who put together these brilliant sentences. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

BazQux Flags

So far I've only found one web reader which works for me the way Google Reader did/does. That's the weirdly-named BazQux Reader.
So in and of the coolest flags:
Cambodian Flag under Japanese occupation.
And then:
Maryland State flag actually looks better in real life than it does as a flat image.

That then, which what.

You want random notes that don't make sense to anyone but me?
I can give you those.
I visited a studio recently. They had a pretty complete preamp collection -- including 8 channels of API, some Great River, even a pair of the same Neve 1272's by Brent Averill that I have. Funny thing was that their monitors were those Mackie Genelec knockoffs and a pair of the "new" Yamaha NS10's. Which, you know, is so not how I'd go about outfitting the end of an otherwise class-A signal chain.
But you know, that's just me. 
I'm still going back-and-forth in my own head about whether to separately mic the toms or not. Maybe we should just do it and I'll complain about it later? I think that perhaps my biggest complaint is the rattling of snares whenever any other freakin' drum is hit. Why can't the snares just shut up when the kick is smacked? Sheesh.
Preamp list
1. Aphex L
2. Aphex R
3. Lindell L
4. Lindell R
5. Neve 1
6. Neve 2
7. Neve 3
8. Neve 4

Er, so if that's Kick, snare, OH L, OH R, Tom1 and Tom2... that's six channels right there.
So guitar, guitar, bass... that's nine channels altogether.
If we add an adjunct bass then we're staring down the throat of 10 tracks.
Is there a portastudio-like thing that'll record 12 tracks?

June 17 2013 Notes

T122 mvmnt 6 open 1 stick
T128 closed - False Start
T129 "take 2"
T130 - last chord
T132 "take 3"
T137 "take for Misha"
T139 "take 4" long false start
T140 "take 5"
T141 pickup from previous take
T147 addition 1 page 24 (w/fs)
T149 addition 2 piano only
T155 number 5 take 1
T156 addition take 1
T159 addition no. 2
T161 addition no. 2
T162 addition no. 2
T165 number 5 take 2
T167 addition 6
T192 number 4 take 1
T193 number 4 take 2
T194 addition (w/fs)
T198 number 4 take 3
T211 number 1 takes 1 and 2
T212 take 3
T213 take 4 (w/fs)
T215 pickup 1

(w/fs) = "with false start"

Friday, June 14, 2013

Tubular Diatoms

Here's an acoustic guitar arrangement of Tubular Bells:

Plus, I'm finding some diatoms have reasonable CC licenses. Spiralia

New Craigslist Ad

We still need editors. I just put up a new Craigslist ad. It'll get flagged because there are a lot of malicious flaggers on Craigslist and there's nothing to do about them.

 Video editor for feature (no pay) (TriBeCa)

This is a non-paid position. We're looking for someone who is willing to work on a feature for the experience and credit. So this is for someone just out of (or still in) school or who wants to be more comfortable working in Final Cut.
We're in the middle of shooting our 11th science-fiction feature. We need someone to help with editing the movie in Final Cut Pro 7.
Our website is
Here are some stills from the movie: (scroll down)
If you're interested, please contact us. The time commitment will be whatever you like to do all or part of the edit.
  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
  • Compensation: no pay

Diatomaceous Earth

We've come to an agreement to name the new band Diatomaceous Earth. Because our commercial instincts are so well honed.
As it turns out, diatoms are psychedelic.

This week we played a 40-minute jam I named "Chimerical Weathervane". Yes, this will have to be edited down considerably. And mixed (because right now it's all over the place). But basically this is what we sound like.

The Ghost of Arthur James

Groove to The Ghost of Arthur James.
I own the vinyl.

Because I am so cool.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Your Things For The Day Which Is Now

As far as I can tell there are only three PADI dive schools in New York City. I think that Pan Aqua is the most convenient one for me. The joke is that everyone does their "open water" dive at Dutch Springs PA. (And if you find that "open water" is an ironic term for a dive in a quarry, well, join the club right there buddy.)

Four words for you: Hickory Run Boulder Field.
Word on the street is that Blue Ribbon has the best collard greens. We. Shall. See.
Joe Chapman says:
Scubapro Aladdin 2G Dive Computer (although I believe he means the wrist-band version).

Also the Oceanic Vortex V16 fins (make sure to get the kind with the spring heel.)

And the Scubapro mask:

How's Your Sight Reading?

Dig Jonathan Newman's Blow it Up, Start Again.

(Click through to embiggen, make sure you watch clear through to the last frames).

Aesthetic Inspiration

Mayan relief in a Chipotle Downtown NYC.
So we're looking for some sort of thing above "Barbara's" bed. I'm imagining some sculpty and Mayan-maze-like thing.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Fixing Joe

The Art of Foley is a good and quick look into Foley.

I would be a better photographer if I could only remember f1.4 f2.0 f2.8 f4.0 f5.6 (then 8, 11, 16, 22). I always have trouble remembering that f2 is the next whole stop up from 1.4. There's no excuse for me to not have these numbers in my head.

Rebecca Kush, ladies and gentlemen:

"Fixing Joe" is a new web series. I totally want Rebecca to come to my doctor's appointments. Here's part II: And part III: Rebecca looks great in glasses!

Alien Uprising Parte Deux

Ooh look, somebody else has a title called Alien Uprising. I think it may have been named U.F.O. at one time.

Big ol' tip of the hat to Maduka for finding that one.

The Accidental Album

So. I think City Samanas accidentally made an album. I really like it. Maybe there should be some interstitial, maybe some things could be edited down, maybe a bit of tasteful mastering, but it's a cool album.
Eric Clapton's guitar in While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Isolated.
I am unnecessarily amused by a television commercial.

I know, right?