Monday, May 23, 2016

Documentary Copy

The dude who made that documentary on Sriracha published an essay on his receipts. Now, as my dad would have said, dude is counting "profit" without taking out his own salary.
Ooh. Today was the last day of Cannes. We have a new movie, Carbon Copy.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Economies of Blurry Costumes Enloudened

The economics of a TV show. (It's not really the economics of a TV show, more general network economics. So. Like that.
Box blur. Is better than directional blur or gaussian blur or fast blur. So says Stu. So say we all.
I just steal all my content from Kevin Kangas.

Scene Sick is a company that makes post-apocalyptic clothes. Like Mad Max-type stuff. Reasonably priced and very sci-fi.
HideAMic is a series of products for putting the Sanken COS11 in clothes. I'm not entirely sure how they work or if they're better than the soft pads with tape on either side, but it's nice to have options.

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.

Friday, March 4, 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.

Wednesday, March 2, 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.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Costumes I like

There are things I like about The Expanse. Many of those things are set design. The chairs on spaceships. Spacesuits which are wetsuits and drysuits.
But then there's this costume.

Normally you'd think this kind of thick collar would not be flattering. But good grief it works.

She gets to wear a new costume in every scene.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Time Code and You

Let's face reality: in indy feature films there's practically no reason to use timecode. There just isn't. You can't really sync any sub-$100,000 camera with timecode on set, and so you can't really use it in post.
But because I was a sound mixer in a previous life, I have a fancy-pants timecode slate made by Ambient. Thing is, I've never fed it timecode. Originally I had one of those Fostex PD-2 DAT machines. That was a clunky thing. Expensive. Fiddly. But it could read and write timecode in whatever format you wanted, do pull-up and pull-down and whatever nonsense people used to do when shooting at 24fps, blah-blah-blah.
Then I went to a computer system. Metacorder. Way over-priced but fairly workable. That system would actually jam timecode too. Uh. Just on the output? I think maybe it just output timecode which the slate could sync to. I think. Wow. It's been a number of years...
But then we worked with non-timecode Sound Devices recorders for the last many years. And we use the slate because it comes down and makes a "whack" sound which is easy to sync up on the timeline (actually, I like the Ambient slate because there are these lights which come on when the slate actually hits and that makes finding the visual mark where the whack happens really simple.)
The slate here is twice as expensive as the 8-channel recorder. What you see here is the transmitter to the slate, a battery (top) and the Zoom F-8 (in stop so it's not transmitting TC), and an Ambient slate.
I found that as a production sound guy, producers loved the numbers going around and around on the timecode slate. They never used that timecode and pretty much nobody on set knows what they're going to do with anything you deliver anyway, but that's just how it is.
The timecode menu on the Zoom. Note that you can set the "user bits" to be almost anything you like. Here I'm experimenting with having it display the number code for a movie called "1601". The "auto mute" means that it only puts out timecode when the recorder is running, so the slate will only display moving timecode when you're in record.
So now that I have timecode available again, even though we'll never use it, I'm still going to make sure the slate receives it. Why? Who knows? It's completely irrational of me. But we can do it, so we're going to.
It's ten minutes of 8pm. You can see the record light is on and the Zoom is recording, therefore it is outputting timecode. When the slate is clapped, the user-bits will show up for a second or two but that is just about impossible to photograph with a still camera.

Sunday, January 24, 2016


So a thing which concerns me is that I think in the future we're going to start seeing demands for ATSC A/85 loudness standards in deliverables.
But we do care. We care so much.

Now for them of us in the indy world, there's frequently some allowances for certain standards which exist in the big network TV world which we get to slide by. But I don't think the international loudness standards are going to be one of those things.
So I want to be ahead of the... 8-ball? Curve? Whatever it is one needs to be ahead of to make sure we're delivering masters which are compliant to CALM act and that sort of thing.
The high-end version of the audio mixing/editing software I use (Samplitude) is called Sequoia. It is comically expensive (almost $3000). But it has built-in tools for decent loudness metering.
There are cheaper LUFS meters, but not necessarily what one is looking for in the way of broadcast audio.
In any case, measuring A/85 or any of the other loudness standards is... weird. You're measuring an average of an average of a level but only within a certain frequency range and only when the signal is above a certain level. Right? Because loudness is a subjective thing and making a meter to measure it is a pain in the tuchus.
Dig this (from the above TC Electronics link):
Target levels are specified in various broadcast standards, but only vary slightly. For instance, the ATSC A/85 standard recommends a target of -24 and uses the LKFS term, whereas the EBU R128 standard sets the target level at -23 and uses the LUFS term. One of the reasons for this difference is that the R128 standard employs the above-mentioned gate, which in effect makes most measurements equivalent to -24 LKFS/LUFS without the gate - yet more useful for aligning loudness across genres.
Yup. The broadcast standards are sort of difficult to get one's head around. But it's doable. And if we can guarantee the deliverables (which I imagine might be important for VOD) it will help.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Thinking while Rotoscoping

In the indy world, anything which even remotely seems like it might be inexpensive has to be quashed right away. Shooting in HD is now the cheap thing to do so 4K is the new hotness.
Personally I'm not into the look of the giant-sensor cameras. That super-shallow dof reads "Oh, someone's got a Canon" to me.
 My buddy Chance Shirley thinks that the frame size of Super 16mm is about the sweet spot between narrow depth of field and not having an image so shallow it's simply impossible to focus. I have to agree with him there.
 So I like the micro 4/3ds format. It's, you know, about the right size for a sensor. The trick is finding a camera (which has to be 4K) plus a global shutter.
Global shutter. Dang nab it. We solved every problem -- we got big sensors which solved the un-film-like deep focus that those tiny 1/3" sensors had, but doing so we introduced a new and really annoying problem -- rolling shutter.
 The irony is that film, yes film, has an inherent rolling shutter. It's just a lot shorter than what these new big-sensor DSLR's have. And honestly you can shoot a lot of movie without seeing any artifacts. And also, the new cameras are getting their artifacts down to motion-picture "wet film" levels. But still, I'd like it to be gone.
 Filmmaking is a learning experience. One thing I learned is to NOT rely on rotoscoping out an entire scene with multiple characters from a background that does not match what you want.
Oy freakin' vey that's a lot of work.

Saturday, January 16, 2016


I've been told to never again put anything involving budgets on any blog post again. I listen. And obey.
Our budgets keep going up though. And we're getting better at certain things.
Virginia Logan modified these flight suits and Brian Schiavo built the masks (not seen) that the androids wear. It's actually quite a goodly bit of costume design. Ian Hubert is building background and yes, that's his robotic drone in the foreground (middleground I suppose).
Ian is also responsible for how smooth this composite is. I don't know what wizardry he does but oof. It's nice.

What else hath been dictated from on high? 4k. We're shooting in 4k from here on out. We might not even be delivering in 4K for a while but for the time being we need to finish in 4k because VOD channels on the interwebs are going to start demanding it.

We shot our last movie (not the above one) in 4K. So we'll be shooting 4K from here on out.
My fantasy is to get one of those Black Magic cameras, mount it so it feels like an Aaton, and get a 4K recorder for it.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Post Stuff

Kate Britton with androids in background. Also a post-apocalyptic refinery.
 Ian Hubert has been fixing my lousy camera work. And boy. Has he fixed it.
The Philadelphia Desert is a harsh environment. Luckily these androids (I believe this is Kathleen Fletcher) have facemasks made by Brian Schiavo.

This is dangerous because it encourages us to think we can just do any nonsense at all when shooting because the plates will be cleaned up and background elements will be added so beautifully.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Things on my Desk Today

Weller's post on distribution is excellent. I disagree with his look at LGBT and African-American films though: at this point those two genres are played out. They still exist but the audiences have gotten more discerning because the markets have tended to saturate so they aren't as open to indy filmmakers as they once were.
I would binge-watch all of The Expanse except that only episodes 1-4 are up. Here's an article on the development of the series.
The top and bottom 10 sci-fi and fantasy movies this year. I'm not sure I agree with every choice...
This spoiler-filled review of Star Wars 7 is pretty smart.