Thursday, February 26, 2015

Must. Unload. Tabs.

Ryan Lock. Sort of the Royal Marines version of Jack Reacher.
What Wikipedia thinks is the order of credits in a motion picture.
Jasmine Lord is a DP in LA.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Oblivion Bible

Obviously from an Aliens video game. The details on the far right wall are interesting to me.

You know, just to remind you

A nice ship interior but I don't think it's for us.

Kinda cool. Way too big though.

For a medical room this looks pretty sweet. We just need all that tacked on stuff.

For a white and circular corridor design this is actually pretty nice, no?

This image is the most inspiring. How do we do those panels on either side? This is what I want. Those panels could go over flats and it would look like total rock and roll. How do we build those?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Quote of the Day

This conversation happens at least once a year:

We: We're going to need a robot for our next movie.
They: What kind of robot?
We: It's a killer robot.
They: Does it kill people with swords, or guns?
We: Guns.
They: Laser guns, or like, bullet guns? 
We: Yes.

Although based on live action I believe that no part of this shot is, actually, live action. The whole thing is CG by Ian Hubert.

Friday, February 20, 2015


Peggy Archer on how over/under makes electricians cry. (Although personally I will tend to wrap electrics cables they way they want to go, rather than doing a barrel roll with them. That said, you do anything other than over/under with any of my expensive mic cable and I will become visibly upset, so I can understand.)
I want a lighting source that does not obey the inverse-square law. I'm tired of this so-called "physics" which oppresses me. I want a big instrument I can put in a shot which casts its light evenly along its throw.
A Fresnel can sorta do that. Not really but the "source" of the light is essentially thrown back by the lens to a virtual point somewhere behind the lamp's physical location. So even though the light itself obeys the inverse-square law of falloff, it "begins" further away to the change is less dramatic.
So then I started thinking I wanted a Fresnel LED instrument but those things are freaky-deaky expensive. Sheesh.
The Coast Guard publishes a list of "PROWORDS" to be used in radio communications.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

In Memory James "J.J." Johnson

J.J. and I worked together at the Wooster Group in 1992. Later he recorded sound for my Hamlet. We did a couple other jobs together at Rutgers, mixing some TV shows. Then he moved out to LA and I only saw him a couple times -- once out there and once back in New York.
J.J. in May of 1992 in Zurich.
I always thought of J.J. as a "professional aesthete." His aesthetic sense was preternatural.  J.J. wasn't really an "Internet" guy, so when he moved to LA we were mostly out of touch and I hadn't heard he'd passed away until last week.

J.J. taught me so many things. How to actually work together to back one another up on a team. How Lone Star was a unheralded classic. His affection for a nice, old Schoeps microphone.
Eating at French and Italian restaurants was a joy with J.J. because of his encyclopaedic knowledge of continental cuisine. I was with him in Bordeaux when the change we got from the restaurant was in the old currency the government had just discontinued and therefore was useless (so they pawned it off on American tourists.) We laughed it off. Listening to J.J. talk about his love of jazz was better than listening to jazz.

He is missed.
His obituary.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Production Notes on Robot Revolution

Production notes on Robot Revolution
by Andrew Bellware (Director)

The script, a screenplay by Steven J. Niles, is written as a POV tale of woe and hardship as a police officer and her Robot partner try to track down a terrorist who unleashes a nanobot virus in an apartment building.
The initial idea is that the movie is told in flashbacks, primarily from the robot's onboard camera. Which is a stunning idea that Steven came up with. But we didn’t do the entire movie in POV shots, we shot between POV and a more traditional “angle” of handheld camera. The intent is to keep the energy of the action and being “you are there” but with a somewhat heightened reality of a mobile camera.
Virginia Logan as Constable Hawkins.
I tend to think of movies as either being “ensemble” pictures or “Alice In Wonderland” pictures. That meaning either we follow a single character or an ensemble throughout the movie. This particular movie has a strong point-of-view character in Constable Hawkins, played by Virginia Logan, but she ends up with a large gang of undesirables and miscreants whom she must save from the nanobot plague. So photographically we go (gently) between the literal point-of-view of her robot partner, and her subjective point-of-view. The idea of shooting the movie from the robot’s POV was one that was supposed to have made shooting it easier. But that was not always the case.
One tricky thing which the script called for was a rear-view mirror which our robot, ARGUS, looks into. And as the camera is supposed to be Argus’ eye, he’s supposed to see himself. I couldn’t think of a good practical way to do this shot until I saw a monitor for a vehicle backup camera. Of course, there aren’t rear-view mirrors in their vehicle, there’s a rear-facing camera and he sees himself in that. The irony is that the shot where that happens doesn’t make it into the final cut of the picture.
Another shot I wasn’t sure we could get did come through. At one point a huge and menacing robot walks down the hallway, stops, and deploys a cleaning brush. I was prepared to cut the cleaning brush from the shot but our visual effects supervisor, the extremely talented Ian Hubert came up with a cleaning brush! (As well as a 30mm cannon from the top of that robot in a later shot.)
Jeff Wills as ARGUS
One issue with a full face-covering helmet is that typically means the actor inside cannot hear. Usually they cannot see either. So whenever Argus was on set, the actor needed a “babysitter” to chase after him and lead him “back to one” at the end of each take.
1202 hawkins shoots2.png
We tried, as much as possible, to use practical effects. Although most guns cycle faster than a film frame, we’re so used to seeing them rock back-and-forth that we did what we could to make our guns “flashy” yet safe. A liberal amount of baby powder on the inside of the barrel helped.

Sarah Schoofs recording ADR.

We had a couple noisy locations on this picture --  like the fact that the furnace had blown out and a temporary one was installed that was amazingly loud -- right next to where we needed to shoot. There was no option to turn off the furnace so we just ploughed ahead.
Today we get to solve some of those sound issues! We’re replacing dialog  using an Oktava 012 microphone -- the same mic we used for boom on set (although this movie was almost completely recorded with wireless lavalier microphones). And there's a bit of distance on the mic, it’s not right up on the actor’s face when re-recording the dialog. This tends to make the dialog “fit in” better with the rest of the movie.
One thing I’ve discovered about doing dialog replacement is that it seems that for most actors, seeing the picture while they record isn't terribly helpful. So we've abandoned having a picture monitor in the booth. I'll play the line three times and then go into record. No bloops or leader or anything. It’s much easier to get back into the space you were in as an actor if you just listen.
The visual effects were a fairly straightforward part of post-production. And except for a couple last-minute location changes the structure of the picture pretty followed what Steven J. Niles wrote.
For music, the Australian-based Hurry brothers created a rhythmic and driving score to maintain the tension through the picture. We experimented with a couple different “moods” for the ending of the picture before we decided on the arch-dark version we have now. At the last minute we flopped the open and end-title credits, which also changed the mood and worked well with the new ending. Now that the picture is completed I have to find a place to put all the robots parts!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Sharon Fogarty's Bride of Frankenstein

I saw Sharon Fogarty's Bride of Frankenstein tonight. I saw her original version way back when at Theatresource. It begat in me a love of the second movement of Beethovan's 7th Symphony.

My thoughts about the show are disjointed. I suspect that was the intent of the production. Meaning, that it was created to confuse me. You know, I wrote that just now to be amusing but there is something about Sharon Fogarty's work which has always spoken to me, like it's work that is just for me. And I have to presume that is true for much of her audience. It seems like "oh look, she made this for me" even though any rational person would have to conclude that she's doing it for her.
Catholic, identity, women, image, monster. I don't even know what it's all about. Mary Beth Schroeder is simply un-human as the monster. From the very opening when she is nothing but an open mouth, a baby gurgling, perhaps a nascent Elephant Man but of the horror by human and not divine creation. Her mouth becomes limbs, becomes speech, becomes understanding other people and/or understanding herself. I don't know. Her physicality was the descant over which the music and the story played.

There's a fairly large chorus. Sharon has always done something with casting that's consistently blown me away. All the actors were very interesting to me and they made me want to know so much more about their characters. Dangerous territory, eh? When every chorus member who trots onto stage can be so fascinating and yet have such depths and secrets that one wants to follow them home, live in their worlds and their works -- it is then you are opening up beyond the simple four walls of the stage, into worlds you cannot control. It is beautiful.

You know, one thing about Theatresource is that our space was always difficult for dance. My recollection of the first version of this show is that Sharon had choreographed the dance to be rather restrained. I felt this show opened somewhat, could be played somewhat wider (the floor at Theatresource was never a good dance flooring and I always worried about dancer's feet on that deck.) But still the "restraint" is actually a part of the tension of the piece. Mary and her beloved monster can run outside chasing cars but their souls are constrained to such small spaces. As they are.
As they are.

Festival Dates:
Monday, February 16 @ 6:15 PM
Friday, February 20 @ 9:00 PM
Sunday, February 22 @ 4:30 PM

Robert Moss Theatre
440 Lafayette Street, 3rd Floor
New York City, U.S.A.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Real Numbers

Do you like real numbers? If you like real numbers, our man Kevin Kangas will hook you up. VOD numbers. Yeah, VOD numbers. There ya go.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Why Live Music Sucks B/W The Electric Bass Guitar

There is no target audience for Dude In Hat Spilling An Entire Beer On You, and yet that’s what we built this entire discipline of art upon.

This essay is hilarious.
You know what instrument is hard? The electric bass guitar.
Just to back up for a minute, one odd thing about be bass is that there is no centuries-long established technique for it*. As an instrument it is very roughly similar to the upright bass but has a vastly different scale (length), is held differently (more horizontal like a guitar than upright like an acoustic bass or cello) and has only been around for what, 80 years? Maybe not even that long. But one can easily see why it became as popular as it did -- large, acoustic, double-basses are a huge pain to lug around and let's face it they're never as loud as you really want them to be.
But while I feel that I might have the most tenuous grasp on what I don't know about playing other standard rock instruments like guitar, or keyboards, or even drums; the ability to even think about how to play a bass guitar simply escapes me. I don't even know what I don't know. The electric bass guitar is rather uncontrollable. Getting the dynamics to be even is a nightmare. Even with a pick it's just not something legitimate humans want to become involved with.
Mouse seems to use a left-handed technique.

Now I realize that much of this is prejudice. I've not put in as much time as I should, certainly, on the electric guitar, but I've put in enough time to have some remote and conceivable (if not achievable) sense of control over the instrument.
But the bass is flippin hard to play. I simply cannot make it sound professional at all when I play it. Rather than do something rash like practice, I'm just going to quit. No more bass for me.

*This is also true of the trap kit (notice that there are "traditional" style drummers and "two-fisted", or whatever they're called, drummers) as well as the Hammond organ and electric guitar. But with organ and guitar there are some older traditions, and with drums... well I don't know if I would qualify this whole thesis of mine with drums. Let's just pretend that everything I say is true and leave it at that shall we?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What's in my head today

First of all the Predestination soundtrack was my favorite part of that movie which I also thought was great. Music composed by directors is a scary category. But sometimes it works. Here's an example. Also, a compendium of robot and robot-esque costumes.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Todays things

Naiant Studios makes a bunch of neat audio adapters. In particular they make inline attenuators. As I'm having an obnoxious time dealing with the outputs of preamps being too hot for my Focusrite A/D's. With 24dB of attenuation I think I'll be able to push the preamps any way I like. I look forward to that.

Delano is a bass pickup manufacturer.
Peter's is the best chocolate manufacturer in the world.

Alas, the Alien Mind

Marc has been blowing up with great musical motifs. And it's all stuff I wouldn't have thought of in a million years. Thursday was fretless bass night. In order to not embarrass me, Marc had lines painted on his fretboard. But he also brought a little digital multi-effects pedal. You can hear the impact of such things in the following recordings.
It's interesting to me to see what happens in creating a band. In this case we fall into a particular sound. Obviously we go in the acid rock direction with little or no prompting. Hard but psychedelic. Marc is a remarkably controlled player. I mean, he plays bass as his job so you'd think he got plenty of practice in all this time but really, his dynamics are very smooth. I'm liking the languid yet clearly "rock" direction we're taking. There are, surprisingly, no keyboard overdubs.

The drums are either played by me or they're MIDI version of other songs or Oddgrooves. These are both "laptop mixes" but I suspect we're going to want to expand on these musical ideas in the coming weeks. Dm to F to Ab to E. Man, that is just awesome. To me at least.
The chords to Any Color You Like.
Nick Mason makes his own drum sound library.
Presumably a whole MIDI library of Pink Floyd songs can be found here.

Monday, February 02, 2015

This is a junk post, just ignore.

Seriously. This is just junk that was taking up space. Don't read.
My biggest problem was in figuring out the train system. I understood that they had these carriages on wheels, but I was afraid for the longest time of being on one because I did not understand how the train-roads (I learned later they're called "tracks") worked.
Things that surprised me? Well, many things. How easy it was to come by clothing, for instance
100 best free fonts.

I started a list of best underrated films. I didn't bother to do much more with it.

Lone Star

Kansas City

Death Race
No, not Death Race 2000.

Love and Rockets

This is probably the biggest-grossing of all the movies I've mentioned. But it is simply brilliant. The screenplay is stunning. It should have won an Academy Award.

The Train
This Fankenheimer picture with Burt Lancaster is, I believe, the last big action movie shot in black and white. There are many awesome scenes, one of my favorite is the lady who corrects Lancaster's character when he calls her "Madame" by growling "Mademoiselle" at him in French.
The Banality of Race-Based Casting
Hi y'all. White guy here. To talk about race. Yup. That's me.
I'm talking about race in casting.
And I'm going to talk about it from a white, male, producer's point of view. Which, I know, is shocking. But it's what I've got to work with here.
Now me. I'm a progressive guy. I'm cool, right? Right?
And better than that, casting a multicultural cast is an inherently good thing to do -- the greater the morphological differences between your characters, the easier it is to distinguish between them. So yay! Multi-culti-cast! With as many genders and you can fit in there! Hooray
Obviously, it doesn't work that way.
Let me start again. I'm watching this new TV series, Grimm, and I'm thinking to myself "I'm really sick of the good-looking white cop and the 'black guy' who is the partner."
And it's not like the "black guy" is any sort of stereotype in Grimm. He's just bland. There is (so far) zero tension between him and the lead (Grimm). It'll get better, they'll flesh out the other characters when they get picked up. But the problem is that there's an awesome character in the show -- a naturally ironic character -- a werewolf who helps our lead dude solve crimes.
But he's another white dude. Sure, he's another dark-haired white guy (who does, incidentally, look different enough from the lead to be easily distinguished). Why can't he be played by (say) an Asian guy or a Black guy?
Well, one issue is the fear of hearing "Hey, why are the only Black [or Asian] characters werewolves? What, they can't be human beings on your show?"
And remember, we got into this trouble all because in the rulebook the lead must be played by a White Guy.
Basically, actors are chosen by ethnicity and sex. Hell, the industry deliberately and overtly discriminates by sex and race. And then there's age, but that's for a post on another day.
OK. Let's look at how we might cast a show based on race for non-nefarious reasons. Are there any? Why yes, yes there are.
Say you're making a show and you have two dark-haired white guys in it. They're 30-something. And... I don't care what you say they look exactly alike. You cannot cast those guys together (the two dark-haired white guys in "New Girl"? I have no idea which is which). So you're going to look for ethnic diversity not just because you're a progressive producer and you want the broad range of humanity represented in your cast, but also if you don't your audience will get confused.
So, OK, that's cool. You're going to get an ethnically diverse cast for no other reason than simply because you can't have all your cast looking alike.
But how does that play out?
Well, it all starts with your white, male, lead. Why o why must the lead be white and (usually) male?
Oddly, the pressure to put a white guy in the lead role probably comes from overseas buyers more than anyone else. Americans (really) are more open to a variety of ethnicity in their leads.
But buyers from other countries want to see typically handsome (white) men when they buy an American show. "Why is this guy Asian?" is the response you get from Asian buyers of your show. They're buying from America. If they wanted Asians they'd have just bought something made locally.
OK, so where are you? You're starting with a pretty, white, male, lead. Sometimes you're allowed a pretty, white, female, lead -- but don't get your hopes up.
Now the easiest way to make characters interesting is to make them evil. But oops, black and Asian evil people can be racist stereotypes. So, we think, OK we'll make them the opposite of the stereotype. Asian dude won't be evil and conniving. Instead he'll be... physical, yeah that's it! And... oh poop. Now we're in Bruce Lee territory. Sigh. Maybe that's a stereotype too. So let's make the character kind of bland then.
The August 6, 2001 President's Daily Brief has a two-page report titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US."

In fact:

[A]n unnamed CIA briefer who flew to Bush's Texas ranch during the scary summer of 2001, amid a flurry of reports of a pending al-Qaeda attack, to call the president's attention personally to the now-famous Aug. 6, 2001, memo titled "Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US." Bush reportedly heard the briefer out and replied: "All right. You've covered your ass, now."

Sunday, February 01, 2015

This is awesome

Crumbs is an Ethiopian post-apocalypse surrealist movie that looks freakin' awesome.