Saturday, October 25, 2014

Computers Like Candy

So. Whumpus.
That's two computers in as many months. Big, bad machines too.
The PC we just lost had a Quadro 4000 card in it. 32GB of RAM. It is/was a fairly badass i7 machine from Titanus Computers (and of course even though it had a very generous 2-year warranty, we're at about 30 months with that machine so no such luck).
I'm pretty good at troubleshooting and I don't know what's wrong with the machine. Either a problem with the motherboard or the video card itself. Almost certainly a hardware problem.
So. We need to be back up and running.
My first thought was to just replace the machine with another big, bad-ass workstation. And I was all ready to do that when I'd finished being disgusted by my attempt at re-installing the OS on that machine when...
When I turned Artemis off.
And my studio got real quiet.
The Mac Mini I'd just got was still on. Running at 150 Watts. Quiet.

Apple disables the Mini. Because if they didn't nobody would ever buy another computer for high-end work. Apple makes sure the RAM maxes out at 16GB. And they make sure you can't output 4K even from the Thunderbolt port.
Ironically, the Mini will do 4K when running Windows.
I need 4K. But I only need it on a Windows machine. (This is because my audio editing software of choice, Samplitude, is a Windows application.)
I need Firewire for my audio interface, which the Mini has (it is shockingly difficult these days to get a Windows PC with a built-in Firewire port, but nominally one can install a port relatively cheaply.)

There is, for all practical purposes, no PC which is as quiet as the Mini. Certainly not for that amount of power. Looking at the benchmarks the Mini is at worst 1/3 the machine the top-of-the-line Mac Pro is. But even at about $1350, the Mini vastly outperforms the Pro which is somewhere at the $7000 range for that 3:1 performance advantage.

That said, man we do actually do all the things to computers people complain about on the Internets. 3D rendering, shockingly, is not the worst of it. After Effects and audio editing/mixing beat up our computers tremendously.

So the question is: do I get a cheap Mini? Or do I get an expensive Pro? Or do I get a PC? Right now I'm leaning toward getting a cheap-ish Mini and using it like a power machine. Of course that will only work if BootCamp works for me. Plus, there's the age-old issue of these new Macs not having any optical drives built in. I think Maduka has a portable optical drive. We'll see if that works for us.

Making the computer dual-boot is not for the faint-of-heart. (Or is that "feint" of heart? Because, you know, feinting. I dunno. I still have trouble with "barre.")




Friday, October 24, 2014

These things

Peggy Archer on set dressing.
§
We lost our audio mixing PC. Whump. This is gonna be rough.
Looking back on my life, the best computers I've had have all been Dells. Not Apples. Not home-builds. Not fancy boutique builds. Dells.
Huh.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Philadelphia Desert im Jahre 2532

I had not seen the German Blu-Ray version of Android Insurrection before. I kinda dig it:
That's an Ian Hubert robot marching over the world there.
Buy it now!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Just a Blog Post

It seems there is a consensus that Adobe Premiere is basically the way to go as a modern picture-editing program. Final Cut Pro 7 is just getting too long in the tooth. FCP X is just not suitable for long-form. Applications like Lightworks and DaVinci Resolve are kinda cool, but I am afeared of them for long-form projects (features).
I am still in post on three movies. Every time I deliver the robot in a highrise movie it gets kicked back for QC issues. So really do not listen to me when I talk about doing sound on a motion picture. I clearly have no idea what I'm doing.
Don't expect to see this forever.
I am quite frankly offended by how much faster this new Mac Mini is than my old Mac Pro. And how much more energy-efficient it is.
I haven't gotten one thing done this week I'd planned to actually do. This seems to happen to me every single week. We need to be shooting next month or I will cry. So just as soon as I can get movies rendered and out the door with all the post-production done, I'll be happy.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Zombie Frei

I sit on a lot of embargoed information. Buyers hate the notion of the producer divulging things. Or maybe it's just distributors who hate that.
Please tell me this armor didn't need to get re-set for each take. The elbows are amazing. Obviously based on a body-suit, the hips look fantastic.

I can, however, say some things. I've been hearing bad things about zombie pictures. With the exception of Walking Dead. But we've been hearing bad things about the zombie market for a looong time.
It seems that some distributors simply cannot do zombies. I know that SyFy was having a miserable time with anything zombie related even as TNT was going gangbusters. And we know that "international" sales of zombie pictures has been generally tougher than US sales.
Does this affect you? By that I mean does this thinking affect what you do? Mmm... not as much as it does me. I'm only making robot movies from here on out.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Merricam - No-Cost "Steadicam" DIY



Via Kangas.
Good grief. This is simple. And the footage looks great.
Good. Grief.

Monday, September 15, 2014

How Should Your Android Look Today?

As we frequently do, we need an android.
At first I was down with this pseudo-nude look. Making the skin look like this would be hard. And the reflective metal pieces would make movement a nightmare.
Trying to figure out what an android in our next movie should look like. Oof.
This armor is hard but maybe not impossible? Perhaps with a base of motorcycle armor and foam-filled cloth pieces and rubber sections it would work. I particularly like the piece over the abdomen and the neck section.
The base mesh is, to me, the tricky part on this costume. Plus, of course, getting it to not gather and wrinkle at all -- that's very tricky. The breast pieces don't work for me, but I do dig the tank-driver's helmet and the way it connects.
I also particularly like the pieces on the upper thighs. Getting them to not gather and flop when the actor walks will be tricky but they look great.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Big Monitoring

I got a Seiki monitor off of Amazon http://www.amazon.co...0?ie=UTF8&psc=1
It's a 39" monitor for $340 delivered (to the US). The refresh rate is limited to 30Hz at "4K" resolution and I drive it with my Quatro 4000 video card.

So far I really like it. I've fiddled a bit with Windows font sizing and such.

All of my "professional" work is audio-for-video so it's really nice to be able to have the mixer up, with a reasonably sized video window, while having enough space to edit on. It's also nice to have a reasonable number of tracks to be able to see at one time. Oh, and the 5.1 meters show up too.

I'll probably do some massaging of the way the screen is set up as I live with it. The slow refresh doesn't bother me as far as working goes but NTSC video looks very, er, "video" to my eyes on this screen at 30Hz. So I slowed it down even further: 24Hz. There is lag, sure, but the video is prettier.

Here's the link to the screenshot via Imgur: http://imgur.com/JCIYobp
The image below is perhaps annoyingly large so feel free to look at the imgur link instead.

JCIYobp.jpg

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Please Vote

Click on this: Mission Main St Grant It'll take you to vote so we're eligible for this grant. I don't know what sort of chance we have, but I figure it's worth a try.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Melissa Schlachtmeyer

Melissa Schlachtmeyer, sister of Laura, passed away on August 6th.
There's a memorial service in New York for Melissa:

Sunday, October 19, 2:00 p.m.
Fifth Floor Theatre
Tisch School of the Arts at NYU
111 2nd Avenue
New York, NY

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Importing XML


As far as I can tell, the problem exists entirely within Final Cut Pro. Because even a straight-up import of xml causes it to freeze at 67 or 68%. Which is rude and ignorant of FCP.
The reason I figure it's Final Cut's fault is that I took an XML file and brought it into Text Edit. Then I found the following text in the XML:


3.00 : 1
7


7
And I changed the last value to "1" which should be the 1.66:1 letterbox. I did a search and replace. Very proud of myself, I was.
To no avail though. The import still froze at 68%.
So I quit. And I'm doing the changes manually. It's not as difficult as I thought it would be.

Today's Gonna Be a Long Day

On our latest movie we tried a 3:1 letterbox. The sales rep said "no way".
Now on most of our movies we've delivered a 2.35:1 letterbox and we ain't heard nuthin'. And we usually think of there being a letterbox on set when we're shooting. So if a boom creeps briefly in or what-have-you we don't mind so much.
But our rep would prefer full-frame 16x9.
Ugh. The letterbox is applied to each clip individually on the whole movie. That's a lot of clicking.
So searching around the Internet I found there's a thing called Edit Mule Filter Remover. It's got a 14-day trial and it's only $15 anyway. Perfect.
Except the company doesn't seem to exist anymore. Well, I better get all the work done in those 14 days. Except. It doesn't work.
It freezes on importing back into Final Cut Pro. I got no idea. I got nuthin'.
I will be doing a lot of clicking today. Oh, and I still reserve the right to letterbox to 2.35:1 because of boom lines and shadows. Luckily it seems that we actually rendered out all the effects at full 16x9.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Colors and cities

Color bars and how to use them.
Some Shutterstock city flyovers.
Lee filter 508 "Midnight Maya" is something close to what the opposite of the color of my florescent lights+the color of the walls in the office is.
The actual opposite color of my walls under light.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Two things are all I've got

You know that movie that you tried to make at your friend's parent's place Upstate? You know, where you have that great big house and you can shoot anywhere you want and it'll be that awesome noir-horror-thriller?
The Aggression Scale is that movie.
Ancillary Justice is... well it's just a terrible name for a book. But it's a smashing book.