Wednesday, July 29, 2015

End of July

Felicia Hudson, Chester Poon, Sarah Schoofs. Everyone has at least one "o" in their last name. Most have "oo". Which sounds like they're really excited about something. Ooh! Or in Sarah's case, "Oof!"
Would you believe I never got around to syncing these scenes?
Lesee. I'm waiting on a robot and a spaceship from Ian. I've been mixing Carbon Copy but there are still three (new) scenes we need to shoot. Which means we need a rock quarry and an abandoned city.

Monday, July 27, 2015

What Will Be

I feel like the Blackmagic Ursa Mini will be the go-to camera for us. I prefer having the ability to shoot stills with the same camera we shoot motion picture with. But the thing is that we can certainly grab 4K stills off the Ursa if we have to but the global shutter is kinda a big deal.

Of course you need to spend the extra $1500 for the eyepiece. And there's a lot of fiddly pieces you need to get the signal up on a monitor. And power supplies. And of course a decent lens set. I really want an f2.0 (or so) lens which goes from about the motion-picture equivalent of a 35 to an 85mm lens (which as far as I know does not actually exist). I want a zoom because I fear changing lenses out in blowing sand (and I feel that much of my shooting will be out in blowing sand.) But unless the Panasonic GH5 comes with global shutter, I think that's just the way it's gonna be.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

This is pretty much my life right now

Massive renders take lots of time and processing power. Even better is when the computer crashes overnight. Those spikes are periodic and this one composite is being very cranky.
Also, mixing. Lots of mixing.
We're going to shoot two or maybe three additional scenes for Carbon Copy.
Most of my crashing problems seemed to have gone away because I no longer put exFat drives on my machine. Just NTFS on the Mac which runs Windows.
All this time at the new office (about a year) and I have never set up my speaker system. Sheesh. I am getting the 5.1 system together. The amp/subwoofer will go on top of the booth. I probably still need a couple small microphone stands for the left and right speakers. I don't know how I'm going to mount the surrounds.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

I'm Late

Which one is the robot?
I was supposed to have delivered this picture yesterday. But we just shot all this new footage with Kate Britton and now we know that the robots have actually tapped into her brain and taken over her mind. We've always known this. It just took until now to realize it.
I'm not 100% sure about this composite. It still needs some things worked out. GPU rendering crashes my computer in Blender. Switching to NTFS drives from exFat did not completely solve my random crashing problems.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Special pickup day

Backlight is the key to all things.
f3.5 maybe? 400 ISO? Fog. Lots of fog. Tomorrow is robot composite day in the Pandora Machine. In the meantime I have been hit hard by the tired stick. Maybe because I woke up at 5am? I don't know.
Kate Britton is amazing. I wish they'd had apple dumplings at the diner.

Monday, July 13, 2015

My To-Do List

I am a man who believes, deep down, that the reason his computer has been crashing is because for whatever reason it hates having exFat formatted drives attached to the USB buss. This is a bit of a bummer. I infer it is an issue with Macs which are running Windows. The reboots can happen after a few minutes or I can get more than a day between crashes. But this weekend I only had an NTFS drive plugged in and the computer lived from Friday through (so far) Monday.
So I'm making a copy of one of my data drives and I reformatted it as NTFS from exFat and now I'm copying the data back onto it.
We'll see how that goes.

Tomorrow is additional photography day for Carbon Copy. I want to do a shot of a couple embracing while looking into one another's eyes but, you know, one of them is a robot. Because that's how we do.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Real Numbers

So here is an analysis of the economics of an indy movie budgeted at a million pounds.

These numbers look real to me. And note that relatively speaking this is a freaking success story. The short answer is that it cost $1.3 million and of that it lost $700K.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Puppets and Something

I've totally forgotten what this sign says.
I'm supposed to be done with this movie in exactly one week. I'm not really confident I'm going to achieve that end. But I'm well on my way.
Honestly, we've got a day of additional photography to do. And we can't do that until a day before the whole picture is due. So yeah. We're not going to quite make it.
Otherwise I'm mixing. Mixing mixing mixing.

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.