Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Now I want one

Via Stu, the Canon 300

Canon EOS C300 = Awesome from Jonathan Yi on Vimeo.
No more jello-cam?
Gimme gimme gimme.

So This Is The Problem

So the thing with making a disaster picture is: what is the plot. Let's take solar flares. The sun is jetting out 1.6AU flares that come and lay some cities to waste. The Internet, shockingly, is still up (because it was, after all, designed to withstand a nuclear attack).
But that's not a movie. Here's a movie: A guy (gal/robot/thoughtful rabbit) has a problem that's hard to solve (especially because the world is blowing up). He's gotta solve his problem, even during this catastrophe. But then things get worse. They meet someone and that person gives them some more problems but also a different world view. Then things get even worse.. And shockingly things suck so much that there's not plan at all to fix the first problem, let alone the second problem.
But then the guy/robot/girl at the beginning remembers something that the person they met on page 20 told them. So they figure a plan.
The plan goes swimmingly. Until it goes dreadfully badly. And then it's all lost and there's no way to any good to come out of this except for -- that person from page 20. Whatever they did or said or gave to our hero can be used right now.
And the whole world is saved.
So. How do we do this? What could be so important that our protagonist is put into action even though the world holocaust is going on right now? It better be compelling, that's for sure.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Today in the Machine (part many)

We have a delivery date for Android Insurrection. Our sales rep has told us that our robots better look very good! ;-) I think they do. In any case, we're making delivery available by the 15th of January (that's an arbitrary date, and on a Sunday, but it's what I'm committing to.)
Today I visited a studio on East 19th Street as part of looking for a new home for Pandora Machine. It's listed here in this Craigslist ad. The ad, of course, will be gone if you're looking at this post after the beginning of 2012. ;-)
The space is very groovy and quiet. They have a little dining area and two "half" kitchens. Plus a small Pro-Tools-based recording studio, of course.
I'm not sure what we want to do about sound post-production. I could very well move all "sound" oriented things to my apartment (including the Whisperroom). That would include guitar amps and such. I just don't know. I'll have to ask my office-mates what they think.
Sometimes I can get a color-key to just work, and sometimes (most of the time) I have to use the roto-brush to go crazy with rotoscoping frame-by-frame. It's very odd.
Redneck Words of Wisdom has a nice list of things for your characters to say.
The top 10 Paradise Lost quotes.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Stu and Not Stu

Stu Maschwitz is the dude who keeps the DSLR camera world honest when it comes to shooting movies. We even named a character after him in "Battle New York Day 2". He puts in a very well thought-out and researched post on using any of the various DSLR cameras in the "super 35" world.
A great, great deal of what we do here in the Pandora Machine is done because it's what Stu says to do. Essentially, I've built the world's smallest motion-picture production studio on the DVRebel's Guide.
We only do two things which go against Stu's teachings. Two. I think. It's just the two. Everything else is straight - up Stu.

  • The first thing we do is that we do not color - grade at the highest bit depth available. Why? Because we'll never ever finish a feature film that way. We simply don't have the processing time or machines available to do a 90-minute picture, and then because mistakes were invariably made, do it again, and then (oh, look) we made another freaking mistake so we have to render out the whole picture again

We have enough trouble with Final Cut Pro failing to render using Beauty Box and Magic Bullet Looks. Usually those problems can be lessened by reducing the rendering bit depth down to 8 bits. Maybe with the extra RAM and the heavier-duty video card we have now we can move up to 10 bits. But we ain't gonna move color-correction duties out to AfterEffects, we just don't have the time.

  • The second thing we do is to not really get too frustrated either way with an APS-C sized sensor on our cameras. Which is ironic because in the DV Rebel's Guide Stu suggests that you not get one of those crazy 35mm adapters to slap on a "normal" video camera (this was before the DSLR's really started to be available for movie-making). And back in the day we did use a Letus 35mm adapter. 

So it's a tad ironic now that we use the Panasonic GH-1 which has a smaller-than-APS-C sized sensor. It's not as small as one of the old video cameras (like the venerable HVX200) and it's actually a bit bigger than Super-16mm. But it ain't got the bokeh the bigger-sensor cameras have.
And it's true that I'm not that big on the limited depth-of-field. Citizen Kane is just alright with me. But for commercial purposes we haven't heard a peep from buyers or distributors about depth-of-field for years. Because this problem has been solved -- heck some of those Canon cameras have shallower depth-of-field than a regular old Panavision shooting Academy.
And that's interesting. If you want shallow, shoot shallow (and have a great time focusing there, champ. ;-) And if you want deep, you can go with deep. The buyers don't seem to care anymore.
The debonair Jeffrey Plunkett in Clonehunter. This is shot with an HVX200 with a Letus adapter and (probably) an 85mm Canon at f1.8.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Output and Intermediary Formats

Did you know that AfterEffects will cycle mask colors? Why isn't this the default? Sheesh.

More conversation between me and Nathan Vegdahl regarding delivery formats.

Me: I worry about legacy issues. In 10 or 15 years, will a movie I make today still be in a readable format? I dunno!

Nathan: The more open the standard, the more likely it is to be readable in the future. h.264 and AAC in an mp4 container is good, because it has open-source implementations. Worst-case scenario: someone has to pull up old source code and use it to convert your movie to a new format.
OpenEXR is also open source, so same deal.
The formats you have to worry about are proprietary formats, because if the companies behind them stop supporting them, you're out of luck.

Me: The main trick for our lab is: will they be able to take the file we give them and make a DigiBeta tape out of it? Because we still need to deliver DigiBetas.

Nathan: [editor's note: TL;DR: use Handbrake and/or skip to*] Hmm... I don't know if ffmpeg can encode for digital beta. I'll look into it. I use currently use ffmpeg 0.8.5 on Linux for all of my final encoding. I do everything from the command-line, because it gives me more precise control over the encoding process, and I get to play with all kinds of weird settings. But for the most part I keep it simple.
If I want to encode to a nearly (but not quite) lossless H.264 file that is widely compatible with other software, I use this command-line:
ffmpeg -i input_file -vcodec libx264 -vprofile baseline -crf 1 output_file.mp4
Where "input_file" is the name of your input video file, and "output_file.mp4" is the name of the file you want to create. Ffmpeg auto-detects what container format you want from the output file extension. In this case, it knows that .mp4 means the mpeg4 container.

The "-vcodec libx264" tells it to encode the video as H.264. The "-vprofile baseline" tells it to only use the most widely supported H.264 features, for maximum compatibility. The "-crf 1" tells it to encode nearly lossless (0 would be lossless, but isn't supported in the baseline profile; higher numbers are more lossy).

Sometimes you also need to tell it what pixel format to use, especially if you're encoding from an image sequence (I'll get to image sequences in a moment). You can do that with the pix_fmt option:
ffmpeg -i input_file -vcodec libx264 -vprofile baseline -crf 1
-pix_fmt yuv420p output_file.mp4

For fully lossless encoding, we drop the profile specification and use crf 0 and 444 chroma:

ffmpeg -i input_file -vcodec libx264 -crf 0 -pix_fmt yuv444p output_file.mp4

The resulting file, however, will not be widely supported, including by Apple's h.264 support.

You will also probably want to use AAC for your audio. Ffmpeg uses aac by default with the mp4 container, but we can specify it manually to be certain:

ffmpeg -i input_file -vcodec libx264 -vprofile baseline -crf 1 -acodec
libfaac output_file.mp4

And if we want to specify the bitrate of the audio (for example, 320kb/s):

ffmpeg -i input_file -vcodec libx264 -vprofile baseline -crf 1 -acodec
libfaac -b:a 320k output_file.mp4

If you have separate video and audio source files, you can specify them both, and ffmpeg well merge them:

ffmpeg -i input_video_file -i input_audio_file -vcodec libx264
-vprofile baseline -crf 1 output_file.mp4

When I render anything from a 3d application (for example, Blender) I always render to an image sequence. When I'm ready for final encoding of the animation, I render to png's, which are lossless, and then use
ffmpeg afterwards to manually encode them into a video file. To do this you need to tell ffmpeg where in the file names the frame number is. You do this with "%d" and some variants thereof.

If your files are named like this:

Then you specify the image sequence as "image_%d.png". The "%d" goes wherever the frame number is. Ffmpeg will then find all the files matching that pattern.

If your files are named like this:

Then you specify the image sequence as "image_%04d.png". The "04" (that's zero four) between the % and the d tells ffmpeg how many digits long the number is.

So, using this in an actual ffmpeg command-line:

ffmpeg -i image_%04d.png -vcodec libx264 -vprofile baseline -crf 1

The problem with images sequences, though, is that they contain no information about frame-rate. So we need to tell ffmpeg what frame-rate they are supposed to be in. You must specify this _before_ the image sequence on the command-line. This, for example, would give the image sequence a frame-rate of 24fps:

ffmpeg -r 24 -i image_%04d.png -vcodec libx264 -vprofile baseline -crf
1 output_file.mp4

You can also specify the frame rate with decimals and fractions:

ffmpeg -r 29.97 ...
ffmpeg -r 30/1.001

If you plan to use the file for video editing, make sure to set the GoP to 1, which means that every frame will be encoded on its own without reference to other frames in the video (such frames are called "intra frames" or "I-frames"). This makes the file size much larger, but it means that a video editor can pull frames out at random very easily, which is good for scrubbing etc. You do this by adding "-g 1" to the command-line:

ffmpeg -i input_file -vcodec libx264 -vprofile baseline -crf 1 -g 1 output_file.mp4

So there you go, that's a quick-and-dirty tutorial on how I do my video encoding. Although, internally I usually use Matroska ( as my container format instead of mp4. But... then again, I use an open-source pipeline, where mastroska is well supported. I always use mp4 containers when sending material to other people.

If you don't want to use command-line ffmpeg, you can use Handbrake (, which is a cross-platform GUI-ified version of ffmpeg. It exposes most of these options, though sometimes they can
be hard to find.

*Come to think of it, ffmpeg has an open-source ProResdecoder as well. So, for example, you could use ffmpeg to convert from pro-res to h.264 if you wanted to. I don't recall if it supports ProRes422 yet, though. But presumably it will in the future if it doesn't already.

Is this testing whether I'm a replicant or a lesbian, Mr. Deckard?

Apache Wave is an open-source Google Wave application. Briefly I thought Wave would be a good project management/project co-ordination application for us. But then they closed down Wave.
We're using DotProject right now. Of course, now that the Queen Herself hath spake to us regarding project management, I'm not entirely sure what to do with it.
Moo mini-cards are kind of sexy little business cards.
It's the day before Thanksgiving and we have to expedite a PAL copy of Battle: New York Day 2. That's OK, I'm hiding from traffic before making my way to my parents'.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Maduka Vs the Friendly Skies

The all-too-sexy-for-you Mr. Maduka Steady plays a very dangerous man with a gun* in this clip from Pan Am.

*Which is just like the time we met in the jungles outside of Bogota -- remind me to tell you that story sometime.

Nathan Vegdahl's Demo Reel

Groove to it. Nathan is helping us out on Dragon Girl. His animation and rigging is beautiful.
You want a full-res version? He's got that too.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Labor Laws and Social Media

So here's a funny thing. As an employee in the US you do not have some sort of 1st Amendment right to free speech. You just don't.
Your employer can fire you for any stupid thing you say, Tweet, blog, etc.
I mean, unless it's especially protected speech. That is to say, speech which is protected by the National Labor Relations Act.
Posting a Facebook status where you say "My boss is an ass-monkey" can get you fired. But a post that says "My boss is an ass-monkey for not giving us better wages and working conditions" is protected.
"Candidly discussing wages, hours and working conditions" is something that's allowed under the NLRA. So get over it.

Plus, here's a fantasy ninja sword.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Word From On High

So, the word from the mountaintop, writ large upon some stone tablets is:

Make Disaster Films

Disaster kitty says "make disaster movies".
That's the word from on high. Disaster pictures.

Project Management

Do you know what's really exciting? Project management.
Trello isn't working for me. Basecamp doesn't allow for dependencies.

This picture from Android Insurrection amuses me greatly. That's David Ian Lee and Jeff Wills.
I'm also putting together information about where we might move. Nobody will come to Jersey City. It doesn't matter if it's actually easier for them to get to than other places. But frankly, for Rebecca and Maduka, Williamsburg and Greenpoint actually are closer for them.
Wix has a free space in Union Square. A free open-space office?
Greenpoint Coworking is $350/month.
Work At The Yard has private offices for $400/month
Missionfifty is in Hoboken. So except for the fact that not one of my editors will ever come there, it seems cool (they also have about zero information on their own website so I was looking here.) has space in midtown.
Projective Space is worth visiting. They're in Soho.
Imrey Culbert also rents space.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Reports from the West

The word from the front lines is that AFM was better this year than last. Of course, last year made for a low bar. ;-)

Just because it's kind of cool, dig Ironbound Studios in Newark, NJ.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Gabi's Video

Our own Gabriella Willenz directed this beautiful music video.

I'm really digging the amber and emerald color palate.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Earthkiller Machine

I'm neither an Apple nor a Microsoft partisan. Nor do I advocate Intel over ATI. Heck, I don't get spittin' mad over Neve versus SSL. Wait, what blog am I writing?
Anyway, as I sit and wait on renders, I think more upon having a simply earth-killing computer machine.
Macs have traditionally offered us the advantage of interoperability of their files with labs and other studios. But I'm deeply afraid of Apple's ability to be total buttheads and trashing professional support.
The dual hex-core from Apple is $5649 while the dual hex-core from Dell is, oddly, $5420. The big difference between the Apple and the Dell is the video card. But the "Apple tax" isn't terribly high on the very expensive machines.
But I have no way to compare video cards to one another because video cards are a dark science of occult which burns the souls of all ye who dare approach.
The other strange thing is that the Dell actually comes with no real operating system. FreeDOS is what it has. I don't know what that's all about.
An Apple dual quad-core is $4149. So it's .73 the price of the hex-core and (theoretically) .66 the number of cores. Right? Who knows? My math is fuzzy.
These Apple machines are both spec'ed with the better video card that Apple has.

Dell's dual hex-core with 12GB of RAM.
The last two facts here are that Apple makes a (generally) stable machine. And the 24 months 0% financing is like... well it depends on what you think of interest. A couple hundred bucks? A thousand bucks?
Who knows?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cats, Tracks, and Hacks

VooCAT is a motion-tracking package which works with Blender. I haven't tried it. It's only a hundred Euros.
The "non-commercial" version is Voodoo Camera Tracker. But to use it with a modern version of Blender you need this import script (the instructions for installing are here).
My goal with the above paragraph was to bore you until you cried. Did it work?
Do you find that sometimes you want to paste onto a specific track in Final Cut Pro? And FCP doesn't want you to do it the way you do? Here's how to tell FCP what track to paste into.
Allan Mackey reminded us (in the comments below) about Trello. So I'm working in Trello to schedule. I'll tell you how that goes.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My Three Pandora Machineries

So we doubled the amount of RAM in our Mac. It was, for some reason, only 4GB and that kind of sucked. I bought two more 2GB sticks and put them in.
For a while the computer was reading 10GB of RAM but that there were ECC errors on one of the old sticks. Then the computer decided it only has 8GB of RAM with no errors. Which is what I thought it would do. Still. Weird. But it renders a LOT faster now.
Firstwise Part II.
Then I quadrupled the amount of vRAM by installing a new video card.
That project has gone more weirdly. I do not, nor can I, understand video cards, what they do, and how they work. In the fantasy world of computers that my little mind lives in: one video card for each of two monitors should be better and faster. Right? That's how it works. Right?
Anyway, of the three video outputs on the new video card, only one is DVI. The other two are the tiny proprietary connector which costs another $100 I don't want to spend.
I have the old ATI Radeon HD 2600 the computer came with in slot three
I have the new fancier ATI Radeon HD 5700 in slot one
Right away everything seemed to work. But Final Cut Pro will not absolutely will not no way no how use the right-hand monitor (from the 2600) as a "Digital Cinema Display". FCP will gladly use both monitors otherwise though.
So I've set up a custom set of windows where the "Canvas" window is in the right-hand monitor. Which is essentially how we used to work with the "Digital Cinema Display" anyway.
And yeah, the "Digital Cinema Display" will work on the primary (center) monitor -- but when you do that you have no tools or anything because the display takes up the whole screen. This is, apparently, a known issue. But maybe I don't care about it because this seems like a perfectly reasonable way to work.

Editing in Final Cut Pro. That's Virginia Logan on the left/center and Jeff Wills on the right.
Groove to the sickly orange glow of the incandescent lights in my studio.

Thing number two.
I tried Manymoon for project management. It doesn't have task dependencies. I wanted to set up project management so that we could schedule, say, the mixing of an act to be dependent on it being edited first. But Manymoon doesn't work that way. So I'll be doing something... else.

I'm considering formatting the camera drive for Dragon Girl using ExFAT. The advantage to exFAT is that both (modern) PC's and (modern) Macs can read and write to it using large file sizes. I'll tell you (you'll probably hear me screaming) how that goes.

Today in the Machine

Today is "plot all the post-production out on a calendar" day for Android Insurrection. Which is kind of a pain because so much of the picture edit is dependent on visual effects. Which means we have to do one of two things:

  1. Cut the picture and put a text-slug in that says "insert effect of [robots shooting] here" and hope that the timing is right or
  2. Pre-build the visual effects so that the editor can cut them into the edit.

We end up doing both of those things and pre-building some effects which have to be changed and inserting effects the picture editor wanted and finding they change the timing of a whole sequence.
And all of that means we keep locking and unlocking the picture. Which is a hassle because it means we can't get started on the audio mix.
A Steve Burg painting. There's a link to his site in the sidebar, right?
One answer to all of this is to deliberately do some sloppy animation. Well, maybe not "deliberately" as much as "incompetently". Essentially that work in the big-budget world is called creating an "animatic". But we're doing animatics only because the least-capable animator (me) is doing the work. In any case, we do some crap-tastic animation and at least we can see how things time out. Then hopefully we can get Maduka in there to make the animations better.
I have a month and a week to finish this picture (by my own self-imposed deadline).
Also, today is the last day of the AFM. Which means that tomorrow I'm sending an email to our sales rep and saying "What kind of movie should we make?"

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Rendery Sunday

Automatic Duck. It's free now. We'll be using it... soon.
Looking at spaces, there's this place in Gowanus. I can't figure out anything about them. I guess I'll have to call.
The Brooklyn Artist's Gym and Room 58 all look very cool.
If we wanted to rock-out to really sexy post-production offices then Bitmap NYC would be the place to check out.
We need to vastly increase revenue. And we're in the independent film business. I can just say those two things over and over again and get the same response. So we're waiting for the response from the AFM. Not only about what sales we'll make, but what pictures we ought to make.
I've we're going to make more movies, and I believe we'll have to because that is the key to more revenue, we absolutely must get faster computers. Yup. That's a decision I just made in the last five minutes.
But as for money?
Meh. I'll go into detail over on the Pleasure for the Empire blag.
Dual-boot is not really a problem anymore. You can even build a PC that'll boot Mac OS. But I need a world-destroyer. I need 12 cores because I'd use them. Heck, I'd be getting so much work done I wouldn't be writing this blog post because my renders would be finished.
My one quibble about buying a world-destroying dual hex - core Mac over the same kind of PC is that the Macs for whatever reason top out at 1GB of vRAM on the video cards. I don't know that will make a difference to me. I don't. But it might. Even at only 32 seconds/frame.

Louyi Tang

Louyi Tang is a filmmaker I met a while back and she's making this pretty amazing picture called "Martin, Our Teacher" in China. Dig the Kickstarter page.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Headless Arizona

Project London releasing their beautiful models into Creative Commons is a huge thing for indy sci-fi filmmakers.
It's big. You can make movies with their CG models -- change the colors, even make structural changes.
We needed a secondary robot for Android Insurrection and Ian suggested using his Arizona model.
The robot we need is about human-sized. And the Arizona is over 20 feet tall. So I took off its head to make it scalable as a smaller robot.

More free stuff:
Gimei has free fire and explosion footage.
The first wave of Project London Blender 3D models.
The second wave of Project London Blender 3D CC models.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Nathan Vegdahl on Delivery and Intermediate Formats

You know, if you make features and (bless your little heart) are actually able to sell them, you're going to run into these issues at some point. How the heck do you deliver your movie?

Here's Nathan Vegdahl's notes to me:

"Just read your blog entry here:

"OpenEXR is great as an intermediate format but it's not really a delivery format. OpenEXR is intended for cases where you are still going to do further image processing on the content (e.g. compositing, color grading, etc.). But as a final delivery format it is quite excessive.

"A closer equivalent to ProRes would be h.264. In fact, if we look at the complete standard supports everything ProRes does and more. If you use only
intra-frame encoding then h.264 is a fine choice even for video editing, and you can do not only 4:2:0 and 4:2:2, but even 4:4:4 (i.e. full color information). In fact, h.264 can even be completely lossless(!).

"Unfortunately, most software only supports subsets of the larger standard, and so advanced features like lossless compression and 4:4:4 chroma are not widely supported (e.g. Apple's h.264 support does not handle lossless compression or 4:4:4 chroma). But even with just the baseline profile (which is supported freakin' everywhere), it can still make a decent delivery format. You just have to know what you're doing with the encoding parameters.

"Anyway, food for thought. If you'd like to know more about my encoding workflow, I would be happy to go more in-depth. I use ffmpeg to do all of my final delivery encoding, because it gives me precise control over the encoding process."

Drew: Boy, I wish h264 supported alpha channels.

"Technically it can, through use of an "auxiliary color channel". But decoders are allowed to ignore it in all of the profiles, so for all intents and purposes it is indeed unsupported.

"But if you really needed to, you could always encode a second video in 4:0:0 (a.k.a. grey-scale, which is also supported by h.264) that represents the alpha channel. Then in any decent compositing app you could re-merge the two streams. However, that's precisely the kind of situation where you would want to use OpenEXR anyway.

"IMO, neither ProRes nor h.264 should be used as intermediary formats for compositing. So I don't think it's a biggie that they don't support alpha channels, since that's not the stage of production they should be used for anyway. ProRes is an NLE codec, h.264 is a delivery format."

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Projection Londontown

Project London has a new trailer.

And also, new Creative Commons models!

And Then This

The American Film Market starts today.
Now, I blew it. I made a big mistake. I should have had something of Dragon Girl ready for the AFM. Bah. I really should be where we are now about two months ago. But we were late with the delivery of Earthkiller and that pushed everything back. Nerds.
Now, that doesn't necessarily mean that  my cash flow is going to somehow suck more because we don't have a new picture at AFM. Because we're not going to get sales of that new picture 'till Cannes anyway. And hopefully we'll get AFM sales of our titles Battle: New York Day 2 and Earthkiller.
But it's personally irking to me because I'd committed to myself to have a new picture for each market.
That being said, in the long-term (or longer-ish-term), we'll have Dragon Girl and Android Insurrection complete and out-the-door by Cannes 2012. Actually, Android Insurrection will be complete on December 15th. So maybe our cash flow won't be terribly impacted. But as it's our goal to do three pictures a year it ain't sayin' I'm doing what I want to be doing.
And, of course, while this is all happening, the Board of Directors at Theatresouce has given up and is closing the doors of the theater. Which means we have to move our operations.
What sort of options are out there? A whole bunch. Moving into another theater amuses me. But that might be like after breaking up trying to find someone who's just like your ex. Another option is real production offices like at Eastern Effects.
The only "noisy" part of our operation is sound mixing. We could move the booth and my mixing system to my apartment and just get a couple desks at one of the gazillion of funky arty office rental places.
There are merits to all of these ideas. The one thing we know for certain is that nobody but nobody will come and edit in New Jersey. Even if Gowanus is further away and takes longer to get to, they'd rather stay "in New York".
Lastly, we're re-delivering Earthkiller. I think this is the third time we're delivering it. There's this one shot which drove me nuts at the screening. The framing was terrible. Also, a giant dinobot is chasing after people -- where are the noises of its feet? Well, I at least figured out why I made that mistake -- there were no CG effects in the version of the movie I was looking at while mixing. Oops.
Also, I need a Cedar DNS 1000. Or I have to be much less lazy about mixing and editing dialog. I'll let you guess which is more likely. I need a Cedar DNS 1000.

With Extra Grooviness

Brian Schiavo's Lifeform is featured in Fangoria. Dig it. Pictures. Everything.
That's Christine Russo with the lovely Virginia Logan and makeup artist Ciara Rose Griffin.
Fangoria, dude!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Where To Move To

Shockingly, band rehearsal studios are cheap and (allegedly) quiet. I'm listing those places over there on the Tyrannosaurus Mouse blog.
I'm just listing places we can look. A hundred square feet would be fine for us. I would like to see daylight just poking its head in somewhere. It would be nice if it were quiet enough to mix in.
New York City has scads of front-office small spaces and desks. Those tend to be more expensive than what we really need. We're strictly back office. Which is why a small and unusable office in a theater is kind of perfect for us.
It's likely there's going to be a couple months that Pandora Machine will be in my apartment in Jersey City. The editors will hate hate hate that. Unless I provide premium treats for them.
Another option is that we leave all of the sound gear and sound mixing in Jersey City and only do picture editing at an outside office. This idea has merit and is worth considering.

A New Place to Be

The studio is a mess since we had to clear out of deep storage.
What with the Board of Directors of Theatresource deciding to close the place by the end of December, we need to find a new place for our studio.
Yeah, as a stop-gap I could move the studio to Jersey City. That sure would be the cheap option. But would anyone actually take the PATH to Jersey City in order to edit? Maybe once. Twice. 
So I'm looking for either a theater or a post-production house to set up in. 
Right now we're paying $500/month for a windowless back office without HVAC (it's November and we still have a 22" fan blowing air into the studio because it's so hot in there.)
We actually don't quite need the amount of room we have. We're in a (I think) 12' by 13' room. Later today I should double-check. (Update: it's 11' by 12' 6" -- and yeah, those are inside to inside measurements and the world of real estate measures outside to outside but it's not terribly practicable for me to measure that way. Anyway, it's about 120 square feet).
It would be nice if the place were quiet -- at least quiet during some schedulable part of the day in order to mix. Other than that we're all very used to working with headphones. 
I think I'd prefer a theater because it's more fun. Of course Theatresource is/was special, so it was more fun. 

Ram Me

It is beyond my meagre ability to understand why on earth the RAM in your video card should make any difference to your renders. But it does. Big time. I've been getting the "The effect 'Looks' failed to render..." and so I've had to unplug one of the monitors and render in 8-bit.
It's also beyond my understanding how my dual-quad-core Mac has a paltry 256MB of vram in it. Or... wait a minute... why does this computer only have 4GB of regular RAM? Crap. That means something happened. There should be at least 8. I thought I bought 12...
I bet those problems are related.
Here's an article on upgrading the video card on a Mac.

My dual-quad-core Mac is serial number NQ83601AXYK
It has an ATI Radeon HD 2600 with only 256(!) MB of VRAM.
CoconutID says my Mac was built in 2008. But the model identifier says it's a Mac Pro 3,1 which this site claims will not work with the ATI Radeon HD 5870
So the ATI Radeon HD 5770 is it.
The Apple versions of that card are, of course, upwards of twice as expensive as the PC versions. But we can't render out movies in 10-bit with Magic Bullet Looks without a better card. So that's $250 right there.
The other major issue with this dang computer is that I've always had trouble with the RAM. System Scanner tells you what sort of RAM you need.
In my case it's DDR2 PC2-6400 • CL=5 • Fully Buffered • ECC • DDR2-800 • 1.8V • 512Meg x 72
That's another $250 for 8GB of RAM.

Today in the Machine

Dig some still's from Brian Schiavo's Lifeform. Our man David Frey is DP on this feature. I'm digging the contacts.
Our man Will French here at the theater pointed out that you can't actually make a dual-socket computer with the Intel 970/980/990 computers. You have to use Xeon. Which explains the Mac's being built with Xeon processors, don't it?
Today's goal was to have another act of Android Insurrection ready for export so that we (I) could start mixing it. I don't know that I'm going to make my goal. I'll try though. Still have some visual effects to complete...
Also, looking for a new space to be in after the 1st of the year...