Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Thinking about basses

My Squire 5-string Jazz bass just isn't speaking to me the way I wish it would. I'm thinking it may be time to replace it. I'm interested in a short-scale bass.

The Epiphone EB-0 is cool. The Interwebs says it has a terrible stock pickup though. People seem to like the DiMarzio Model One as a replacement pickup for it. And, honestly, one might want to replace both the tuners and the bridge. So a $230 guitar becomes a $425 guitar. But still, short scale, and very nice looking (I have a bit of a "thing" for Gibson style rather than Fender).

What's likely even cooler is the Epiphone Allen Woody Wildcat bass.
People seem to like the pickups. And quite honestly they're in a more reasonable position than the pickups in many Gibson/Epiphone basses. People still like to replace the bridge, maybe the tuners. But they seem to dig the pickups. This is a $450 bass.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

DAW, Transcriptions, Microphones, and Spaceship Panels

Here is my workstation where I am editing dialog and sound effects and music on Carbon Copy. I actually ended up with two workstations. The other one is half-set-up in the bedroom.
My little apartment seems weirdly spacious in this view.

Rev via Kangas. $1/minute transcription. This is relevant to my lifestyle choices.
Sanken COS-11 microphones. Without accessories. With accessories. Honestly, with the relatively inexpensive Sennheiser "Evolution" wireless systems I'm fairly happy with the quality of the wireless transmission and reception. I'm not as excited by the microphones that come with them (sort of a cheap-o version of the Sennheiser MK2). And in most scenes one shoots the difference between good mics like the Sanken and bad ones like the MK2 knockoffs really isn't that big a deal. But every once in a while you have a microphone in a bra or elsewhere that the location isn't quite perfect and bleh. The little bit extra by paying upwards of $400 for microphones makes a big difference.
2 Coast Customs makes props including spaceships panels. Sometimes a man needs spaceship panels.

Monday, March 21, 2016

End Titles Things

A reference guide for credits. Most of the following text is by other people.

The order of credits is determined by guild rules -- SAG, the DGA, WGA and other unions. the list that follows is for opening credits.

The order in which credits are billed generally follows their importance to the film, just not linearly. First is usually the motion picture company, followed by the producer, then the 'a film by' credit. Then we see the Title followed by the cast. from there we reverse gears on the whole "order of importance" guideline and work backwards to the director...

a NAME LASTNAME production
Lead Cast
Supporting Cast
Casting Director
Music Composer
Costume Designer
Associate Producers
Production Designer
Director of Photography
Executive Producer

If the writer and director are the same person, or the director was also a producer, hold his earlier credit and pair it with the more prestigious one (in this case "director"). so you would place "Written and Directed by" or "Produced and Directed by" or "Edited and Directed by" where the Director's credit goes. if your Dp was also your editor, you'd have "Editor and Director of Photography..." falling in the position where the DP credit goes. et cetera.

Closing credits do not have any hard and fast rules that dictate how they need to be ordered. But there are conventions that have been established. If you intend to have no opening credits (something George Lucas left the DGA over) you basically put the Director, Writer and Producer credits first, then go down the line for the closing credits:

Executive Producer
Lead Cast
Supporting Cast
Director of Photography
Production Designer
Associate Producers
Costume Designer
Music Composer
Casting Director

***if you credited the above in the opening, closing credits begin here ***

Unit Production Manager
First Assistant Director
Second Assistant Director
Full Cast / Character List
Stunt Dept
Production Departments (Grip, Electric, Camera, Sound, Wardrobe, etc)
Post-Production Departments (Assistant Editors, Visual Effects, Colorist, etc)
Song Credits
Title Designer
Special Thanks
Camera, Lenses and Equipment Makers
Location of Final Sound Mix ("Recorded at...")
Copyright ©

special consideration is given for "name" actors, often they are credited just before the title comes up. and again, you have a lot of wiggle room with closing credits. some films credit the entire cast first, before the director. you have options here.

Here is a standard motion picture disclaimer...

"PERSON'S NAME OR PRODUCTION COMPANY" is the author of this motion picture for the purpose of copyrght and other laws.

This motion picture is protected pursuant to the provisions of the laws of the United States of America and other countries. Any unauthorized duplication, distribution and/or exhibition of this motion picture may result in civil liability and criminal prosecution.

Characters and incidents portrayed and the names herein are fictitious, and any similarity to the name, character or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.

No animals were harmed in the making of this film. [Drew note: isn't this a copyrighted statement held by SAG?]

if you have an Animated Production Company Logo, place that at the very beginning, before your credits. it's the first thing we see. some studios/production companies will tag the logo on at the very end too.

Here's sample text for the 2257 compliance notice:

2257 Compliance: In compliance with United States Code, Title 18, Section 2257, all models, actors, actresses and other persons appearing in any visual depiction of content whether actual sexually explicit conduct, simulated sexual content or otherwise, displayed in the Picture were  at least eighteen (18) years of age at the time such depictions were created, and all other visual depictions displayed in the Picture are exempt from the provision of 18 U.S.C. Section 2257 and 28 C.F.R. 75 because such visual depictions do not consist of depictions of conduct as specifically listed in 18 U.S.C Section 2256 (2) (A) through (D), but are merely depictions of non-sexually explicit nudity, or are depictions of simulated sexual conduct, or are otherwise exempt because the visual depictions were created prior to July 3, 1995. Records required to be maintained for such materials pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 2257 and 28 C.F.R. 75 are maintained by Licensor (“2257 Compliance”).

Friday, March 18, 2016

To Do

Today's goals involve mixing act 9, working on the end-title credits, and making some android walking in act 3 on Carbon Copy. Also: vacuuming behind my couch.

Thursday, March 17, 2016


The 500 series Blundstone boots, made in Australia, are supposed to be quite comfy.
The only union-made American boots are Thorogoods. These roofer boots are snazzy but I don't like the color of the soles.

When do you use large-diaphragm vs small-diaphragm mics?

When do you use large-diaphragm mics? When do you use small ones?

I have no "rule" to answer this with. It always seems arbitrary which one is chosen for which instrument. But those choices seem to be fairly consistent once they're made:
Close-miked voices? Large diaphragm.
Choirs and distant-miked voices? Small diaphragm.
Violins? Small.
Cellos and basses? Large.
A very weird and specific (albeit reasonably-priced) collection of microphones.

Snare drums are inevitably small-diaphragm if you're gonna mic them (which everybody does but for me it doesn't work that great), but overheads become a matter of taste between whatever large or small diaphragm mics you have.

Acoustic guitars -- man, I don't know. I can go either way.

Electric guitar amps -- typically the close mic is small, but a mic 3' to 25' away? That one will typically be a large (if you use a distant mic on your guitar amp which I typically do not). 

Large diaphragm mics are more sonically colored.
Small diaphragm are more accurate.

Voices get too strident on small diaphragm mics.

Are these rules? No, they're just my general prejudices and opinions. There what I intuit when I go to mic things. And it troubles me that I don't have any more a firm grasp on the why and wherefores of using a particular microphone type on a particular instrument. But that's all I got.

Etymotic Pro High Fidelity first impressions

These are my first impressions of the Etymotic Music Pro High-Fidelity Electronic Musicians Earplugs. The short answers are:
  1. They sound great. 
  2. And they're worth the $300 and the pain in the tuchus of having to replace batteries like hearing aids. They do what they're supposed to do.
  3. Just having them in your ears is not like not having them in your ears. You can hear pretty much the same volume level but the frequency response is not like having nothing in your ears. 
And then these were my impressions as I thought of them.

  • The active part of them is a tad disorienting at first. And yeah, when they're in and stuff is happening at normal (quiet) volumes around you it doesn't sound quite as good as real life.
  • There's a switch on each ear to go from "enhanced hearing" (which is basically it acting like a hearing aid) with 9dB of protection, to "normal hearing" with the regular 15dB mode. I wish that switch would actually be an "off" and then "on" (15dB mode) so that you don't have to pop the batteries to keep them from draining.
  • Because the two earplugs aren't connected electrically the loss of "stereo" happens whenever a loud sound happens on one side of you but not the other. This is because one earplug turns stuff down while the other doesn't. This is why stereo processors for broadcast and the like are always "linked". In any case, it takes a bit of getting used to when one ear shuts down because of a train's brakes squealing or whatever.
  • I wore them for 3 hours straight and my ears were feeling a bit itchy. That's when I realized that I was wearing them for vastly longer than I usually wear earplugs -- because they weren't really dulling anything when I was out on the street. 
  • When they kick in they are smooth. You do not hear them "compress". Loud drums don't make them pump the way I would expect a regular compressor to do. It's sort of surprising to go from electric band in full-on rock-out mode (I won't say I dimed the Bassman I was playing through but I definitely had it on 8) to just chatting in the rehearsal room without noticing the changes in volume. They work great.
    I'm gonna imagine that in an acoustic situation where you want just one ear to shut down because there's a freaking trombone just a few feet away but you also want to hear your own violin, the Music Pro are the way to go.
  • On the way home from practice I was tired of having things in my ears so I put on my Howard Leight for the ride back. 
  • I may want to experiment with the fit and the placement because the Pros come with a million options. Nominally I try to avoid the foam kind because I find they're more fiddly, but those are an option as are different sizes of rubbery inserts.  I do appreciate the cleaning brush.
  • My impression is that they might be a bit more irritating because it's not one's instinct to immediately take them out when in a "non-dangerous" environment.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Musical Hearing Protection

I saw Turangalîla the other night. The New York Philharmonic can really play. After the performance I was talking to some of the musicians and they were complaining about how loud it was on the stage and that they had to wear hearing protection. I asked what kind and they said "Oh, the yellow kind." I was like "What?"
And they pulled out a pair and showed me.
I was aghast.

The cheapest, most awful, industrial earplugs are what they're using.
I mean yeah, I'm fairly vigilant about steering clear of hearing damage and I do, in fact, carry three entirely different kinds of hearing protection with me. So I showed him my inexpensive "musician's earplugs" which are vastly more musical than the yellow foam things.

One player pointed out that a thing about hearing protection is that they have to be able to put them in and take them out quickly. But even the cheap musician's ones have a thing you can grab to pull them out -- and the fact is you don't need to as much because your hearing is "flatter" than the high-end pillow the industrial plugs put in your ears (as well as the fact that you have to wait a moment to be sure they expand and start working).

I used to have custom Etymotics but my ears changed shape over the years and I went to soft ear plugs rather than the hard custom kind. I could go back and get a custom mold made again but I do sort of like the softness of the regular kind. But then...

Etymotics makes the Music Pro, which are like the musical, active version of Peltier shooters earplugs. $300 -- so they're even pricier than the custom-molded passive ones. But for musicians they look pretty amazing. I'll tell you more when I know more.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Got Tabs?

Last week's pizza was excellent, but it was not the pizza I remembered.
Victorio's is a possibility.
Also, Frank's.
Unity is a game development platform.

Image Dump Day

 I've posted these images before.
 But I'll do it again.
 Because I can.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

The Angry Ear

I wrote a children's book.
It's called The Angry Ear.
I illustrated it too. Yes, that's about the quality you're gonna get from it.

You can get the hard-copy (softcover) version
Or you can get it on Kindle It's only 24 pages. But it amuses me.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

The Residents - One-Minute Movies

If I'm to be honest, the Residents don't do much for me musically. But the visual aesthetic can be fascinating.

Twas a Rough Night

I'll pretty much watch any version of Macbeth. The Fassbender Macbeth is kind of interesting. The witches are rather reluctant. They're not the chatty, happy sort of witches.
The show starts with the Macbeths burying a child. This is an implication in a lot of productions -- that they have a dead kid. Lady M talks about nursing, but not actually having had (and lost) a baby. But here they make that more explicit. Although I think in this production they have several kids. There's a lot of brown-haired white boys in this movie so I start to confuse and conflate many of them.
But I think the older son motivates the "handle toward my hand" speech when he returns as a ghost. Which kinda makes sense. 

Man, Lady M doesn't need a lot of persuasion to go over to the dark side does she?
The issue with Macbeth is always that we don't see his change so much from good guy to bad guy. But what about a Macbeth: Portrait of a Serial Killer? Just make him a psychopath who goes in and out of lucidity. Honestly that sorta makes sense with the witches and all but it doesn't account for Banquo.
Most of the humor in the text in this production is drained right out. No drunk gatekeeper, that sort of thing. They keep it dark.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Various Night Gods issues

Music Makers is a rehearsal studio in Manhattan. We'll be doing a thing with Night Gods of the Sleeping Earth. I have to learn the words to Glory Box. I have trouble locating the first notes of that song. I think it's A to B when playing in Em.

We're going to try a cover of Superstition too -- as an instrumental -- and again in Em.

Sunday, March 06, 2016


The Metrograph is a new, groovy, art-house cinema in New York that Chance Shirley turned me onto.
Speedramp is a very cool tool for changing speed in Premiere. It's a Stu Maschwitz plugin so you know it's good. I really ought to do stylistic things like speed ramping.
Back in ancient times I had a friend in Bloomfield and he used to get us pizza from this amazing place. He encouraged us to get the white, spinach pie -- and although that sounds counter-intuitive it was delicious. So I tried to find that place again and I think it's Zi Zia Pizza in Bloomfield. I'll go there today.
Sir! No Sir! is a documentary about the soldiers who refused to fight the Vietnam War.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Handheld Presets

With a hat tip to both Kangas and Ian Hubert, Jarle's Deadpool Handheld Presets. I know, right? These kinds of things are not perfect -- they won't handle images which have extreme foreground and background where the parallax would mess you up. But for most images with a relatively flat plane they can be lifesavers.
I've been using some footage I shot where I was trying to be as still as I could with a handheld camera. But I'm definitely going to check out these presets.
I'm selling a bunch of stuff on the eBays. Some production sound gear -- a bag, a computer audio interface, a power distribution thingy. You know you need these things. Bid now!
Am diligently working on Carbon Copy. The number of details in post is quite astounding. All sorts of picture things and all sorts of sound mix things has me with machines rendering all the time.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Sandwich Day

There's a 30 Rock episode called "Sandwich Day" all about how the Teamsters get sandwiches once a year for the cast and crew of the show -- but they won't reveal where in Brooklyn these magical and delicious sandwiches come from.

So of course lots of people have searched and sleuthed and found that the actual sandwich place is in Hoboken -- Fiore's Deli.
Now it turns out I live 2 miles from the shop. So today, rather than doing the work I need to be doing, I drove there.
There's no menu on the wall, or anywhere as far as I can tell. And like Katz' they cut off a piece of what you've ordered. Today, being Thursday, it's apparently roast beef and mozzarella day. So I was handed this enormous piece of mozzarella cheese while the guy made my sandwich.
And my life is changed. I am a new person now. I may even be a kind of god. Or a loyal servant to those gods whose ambrosia I have tasted. You may kiss my ring. The ring upon my hand that has held the sandwich.
Bless you, child. Thursdays and Saturdays are roast beef and "mutz" in gravy days.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Hap and Leonard

Jim Mickle's new TV series on Sundance airs tonight (March 2, 2016). Hap and Leonard.
I'm gonna watch the heck out of this.