Wednesday, July 1, 2015


I'm about 1/3 of the way through the mix on Carbon Copy. Well, maybe more like 1/4 the way. There are a whole lot of little details to be dealt with.
This is, however, a relatively easy scene with only two characters so the extra 4 tracks were deleted in the picture edit and never got dragged over to the audio edit in Samplitude.

Since we moved to recording 6-tracks of audio for all dialog, it's a bit more of a pain in the tuchus to deal with big dialog scenes. At the same time we're more likely to have good dialog in those scenes.
I cannot tell if I'm doing the right thing with music.
In my mind the whole thing, meaning the whole movie, is in the mind of the lead character. So what is the soundtrack of her mind? I have no idea. Well, I mean I have an idea. Is it too much? I really don't know.
This is one of those thing where, as the director, I really should have a clue. I'm going for an electronic kind of sound with pulses and grooves mostly. I really dug the James Newton Howard score to The Bourne Legacy. So I'm trying to cop some of those feels (uh, phrasing Drew?) in the Carbon Copy score.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Last day

Chester Poon, Sarah Schoofs, Felicia Hudson. (Chester isn't in full costume during this rehearsal.) We're green because Laura, the True Queen of the Marsians felt it should be green (remember when we thought that back on Millennium Crisis while shooting against a greenscreen? Yeah, live and learn. No screen (looking in this direction) on this picture.

Travis Pilar let me take a picture of his groovy shirt. I told him my sister was making a deck of cards based around house cats.
Felicia Hudson, Chester Poon, Sarah Schoofs, inside Varl's ship watching the sun rise.

Felicia Hudson, Chester Poon, Sarah Schoofs.
 We shot over an hour. The slate was up for a bit over 8 hours. We used a LOT of lights on this small set. Laura insisted on hitting us with a 650 Fresnel, two chiclets, and a pair of LED lights. There was a lot of whumpus on set at 400ISO.
Sarah Schoofs new dating profile pic.

Felicia and Sarah looking out on the desert plain.

Laura did this very pretty vertical line of whumpus on Chester. Jason Birdsall's set really held up.

Felicia gets shot twice in this movie.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

So many things

Bulletproof is no more. Everything Stu says about this makes sense. I know the feeling of things just not working out. Oof.
Creating a force field in After Effects.
Reloading the AMD drivers in Bootcamp did not solve my crashing problem. But. Oof. Seems like my Focusrite Scarlett might be the problem. That is a bummer.
It's a bit of a process to restart Windows 8.1 in safe mode.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Revolutionary Robots Review

This review of our movie Robot Revolution by The Movie Guy on Amazon is a pretty good review. I mean, I think the review is thoughtful and reasoned and dude didn't even like the movie.

I'm taking this time to comment on a review to see what we can learn from it.

In this case it is best to read the DVD cover prior to watching the film so as to understand some of the background.
 Oof.  If that really is a consensus opinion then we did do too bad a job explaining the backstory. That's a rough line to toe because you can come off way too heavy-handed and "on the nose" if you over sell the backstory. But if you under-explain the backstory it'll irk a lot of people (interestingly, not all people).

There didn't seem to be a message or theme to the madness, possibly because the story was poorly developed.
 The whole idea is that the bad guys don't exist -- they're created by the government in order to keep people in line. Granted, that's explained very briefly at the end of the movie. So I don't know if that was a mistake on our part or if The Movie Guy just missed it.

The film wasn't half bad up onto the point they had 7 people in a room basically doing nothing for a far too long period of time. After this the film lost me as far as entertainment value and continued on a downward slide.

Dang. I felt that part worked in this movie. It's always a problem in low-budget pictures like this that you have a quiet part in the middle. But I thought we'd earned enough with these characters to have that 7 people in a room talking scene.

This is a somewhat low budget film, that used some decent effects, including a cleaner robot that didn't seem to be CG. The shooting was framed well, the sound was good, I never saw a microphone.

Somewhat low budget? I think we spent $8000 on the picture altogether. I'm glad he liked the sound and the framing. Ha! I painted out most of the boom mics but the dialog was almost entirely with wireless lapel mics. But saying the cleaner 'bot didn't look CG? That's quite a feather in my cap. It's a CG robot -- it's in the creative commons even -- made by Ian Hubert.

Friday, June 5, 2015


So. I've been working in Blender for a number of years now. And I just discovered something pretty basic.

See, we render frame sequences. This means that each frame is a new file -- typically a .png image. This is better than rendering out a movie in .mov or .avi format because if/when your computer crashes or otherwise stops the render it doesn't automatically destroy the whole render -- you can pick up the render at the last frame the computer was working on.
All this time, though, I was looking in Explorer or Finder for the last frame rendered, and then I would set the first frame to start rendering on that frame, and start up the render again. But it turns out, I don't have to do that!
If you don't check the "overwrite" box in the render panel the render will automatically skip the already rendered frames. The way I thought it worked was that it would render all those frames but put like a "_1" at the end. But no, instead it just does what you want it to do.

Does it make up for the fact that you can't render out shadows without making the thing the shadows are on visible in Cycles? No. No it does not. But it's something.

Under things I must do this weekend:

Render Robot Swarm B
Render Robot Swarm C

Monday, June 1, 2015

Shadows and you

Ugh. So it turns out you can't just do a shadow-pass on an otherwise invisible plane in Blender anymore using Cycles. This is apparently because Cycles only understands "light", not shadows.
If you enbiggen the image above you'll see that our little robot does cast a shadow. But that square thing is sits on does not belong there. So I'm gonna have to render out all this nonsense and then so a crazytime job of creating an alpha channel and blah-blah-blah. This is really annoying because that's a major bit of functionality which is gone from Blender.
The environmental lighting seems much better in Cycles. But I really wish there were an easier workaround with this dang shadow issue.

Friday, May 29, 2015


Notes you really don't care about:

Act II in 1301 is ready for mix. OMF and reference .mov have been built.

In 1401:

  • the merc ship ground and takeoff is rendering Blender rendering on the mac
  • the 01 drone scope series is being Blender rendered on the PC

I seriously and fundamentally do not understand how to render an object with only z-transp in Blender Cycles. I'm going to need some emotional help with that.

Our neighbor Keith at is leaving.

Seriously, why is rendering a shadow-only on an object so freaking difficult in Cycles?

Dark Side of the Moon

Making a Gas Giant is 57 steps. 57.
It's actually a very good tutorial.
I didn't follow all the steps exactly though. Firstwise, Adobe changed its scripting language somewhat since that tutorial. You need to put in a semicolon between all kinds of expression stuff and the time variables. ;*-1 and suchlike.
The other thing is that it's actually our moon -- just that in the intervening time it's managed to turn all the way around. So that's the far side of the moon. And now it has rings. And two satellite moons of its own.
In the future, the world is rough.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Motors on Boys Day

Camera-less rig -- motorized dolly and motorized pan and tilt head. Tony Travostino in the background.
My buddy Brian Dalthorp of PopStudios lent me his Revolve slider system (vastly more advanced than mine). The advanced e'en more portion is a used Bescor 101 remote pan/tilt head. Also, we can use a nice Manfrotto fluid head instead. Sometimes you want a motorized dolly and a manual head. Sometimes a motorized head and a motorized dolly, sometimes a motorized head and a manual dolly.
Could not get the slider system to work at all, we just got slipping on some of the gears, so we went back to skateboard wheels on a flat board.
Libby ran this system mostly. On a couple shots it took two operators. Man I wish we had like Bluetooth focus pulling as an option.
What else, what else? So many things. I write these blog posts as I'm practically passed out from a day of shooting so I have no idea what I'm saying 'till I read them (and don't edit them) in the morning.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

And then.

I can't even remotely finish any shots these days. Do you know how many more elements belong here? Neither do I. There's a giant robot. Some evil drones. A force-field. And probably something else in the distant background. Do I have those things? No. No I do not.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Day 8

Amanda Sayle Rinzel as Delta and Sarah Schoofs as Sagan
 Today's innovation was to have a real tripod head atop the skateboard dolly. It tood a bit of practice to work dolly and pan&tilt at the same time. Once you added pulling focus there was too much for Libby to do and someone had to pitch in. But it totally looks like a Fisher dolly, just not with a Worral head.We did two scenes in single shots which moved around very nicely.
Joe Chapman looking sexy with the slate.

It's all about having lights in the deep distance.

The set painter made some beautiful "rusty" walls.

Sarah Schoofs in a pensive moment.

The robot rests.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Eric Ian Steele writes a gorgeous guide to writing a logline. Part I. And Part II.
I'm still working on this.
A secret to boom operating is to:

"...[Y]ell out “Stand by for speed,” in [your] most professional voice, to let people know that [you are] not ready, and speed has not been called."

It's a secret. Don't tell anyone. Although personally I'm a fan of saying "Flying in!" and then proceeding safely and apace with whatever you were doing when someone calls for something on set. Just don't say "Wait". Drives everyone nuts.
Andrew Kramer's 40-minute tutorial on making a blown-up city in Aftereffects (in 2D yet) is... amazing. Amazing I say.

What I like

Things I like better about Adobe Premiere than Apple's Final Cut Pro

  • The ability to import frame sequences as footage. Good grief that's annoying in FCP
  • The fact that if you make a mistake in your sequence settings it doesn't mess up the size of all the footage inside it, you can just fix the settings and all the footage doesn't need to be manually resized
  • A single button to export a frame grab (this has irritated me about FCP for years)
  • Not having to transcode every bit of footage before bringing into the project

An advantage FCP had was that the playback cursor would snap to objects just like objects snap to objects when, you know, snapping is on. But the deep dark secret is that Premiere works that when when you hold the shift key. Premiere actually has the advantage there as it means one doesn't need to keep flipping from snap-on to snap-off as much.
Like this picture, I have no idea what's going on here. That's Amanda Sayle Rinzel and Laura, Queen of Mars (and two hikers in the background). But it's a frame grab and that's fun.

The Lumetri Looks in Premiere? I find them disturbingly helpful. Like "I don't even use Magic Bullet anymore" useful. And when I figure out how the tracking works on mattes in color-correction, it'll be all over but the crying.
Now I did set the hot keys in Premiere to be much like the ones in FCP. So "a" is the selector tool instead of "v" for instance.
The human eye. ISO of 800 (will auto-set to as low as 1 ISO during daylight). Resolution of about 75 megapixels. F-stop of 3.5. Focal length of 22mm.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Day to Murder Chester Poon

Chester seemed like he came back to life though. That happens.
We shot the big fight scene today. Actually, I think three characters died today. We used cushions to break a fall!
First thing in the morning what did I do? Drop the camera. In the hallway of my apartment building. Shockingly, all it seemed to do was to pop a little clip inside the strap holder on the right side. Whew.
We shot three scenes but we took a while to do it. Tony insisted that we get three whole tubs of french fries (he was right to do so).
Huh. I coulda sworn I'd set the Tascam to record 6-track interleaved but I'm still getting multiple stereo tracks from it. Sigh. I'll look at it again next week.
Oh! And I broke the HDMI connector to the camera! Joyeaux! Whee! I have to order a new one.
Sarah Schoofs and Tony Travostino cower from the influence of the evil android.
We did some re-shoots and additional-shoots before lunch though. Queen of Mars had to do a Blade-Runner-y moving light gag.
Poor Bob Teague had to be dead all day. But he looked good doing it. And at least I had him be dead on the couch. ;-)