Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wireless Conflict and Effects

The Apple AirPort Extreme card has a couple strikes against it. Firstly, it costs about 2.8 gazillion dollars. Or at least forty dollars.
Second-like, it's a major-league pain-in-the-tuchus to install.
Draper's Lamia.

So I went and ordered a USB wireless for the Mac Pro (and for my PC desktop) because I thought at our new place we'd only have wireless. Turns out we have hard-wired right in the wall behind (my) computers. Maduka brought in our router, Blair's gonna bring in his wireless, and it'll all be super sweet.
William Martell on making sure there's conflict in every scene. Oh man I couldn't agree more. When you have a scene without conflict the movie just dies. I think horror movies are especially guilty of that because there's that opening set of scenes where the teenagers are headed into the woods and they're all laughing and happy because the filmmakers want to show us how things were good before they got very very bad because of the man with the ax.
The Stylizer plug in for Final Cut from Luca Visual FX looks kinda cool.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Machine Churns Slowly

I can't really stomach paying over four thousand dollars for a video card. I mean, what the what? Update: this is the link.

And other than that I'm not really getting a whole bunch of work done and I really haven't gotten much work done since we moved. But we will. We have to. I just have this stupid cold which won't go away.
Of course, moving in has been hard work. We only just got power over to that workstation (where the music keyboard is... for now) over my right shoulder.
You'll note the bottle of vodka waiting there in case of hard times.
Oh, but there's actually a story to that workstation. I was walking to work and there on the corner of Reade and Church someone was throwing away a lot of office furniture. Most of it was/is pretty unusable. But the desk looked pretty good so I went and got a cart and a tape measure and sure enough, it's pretty good. There's a couple little drawers and a keyboard/mouse tray. 

Muslim DSLR's

First Blair gets his arm chopped off, then a giant robot kills him, in Solar Vengeance.
Our main man Blair Johnson is DP on this groovy documentary "The Muslims are Coming".

Philip Bloom's camera shootout includes a hacked GH2. I believe the "correct" answer for the stills is:

1 5D
2 NEX5
3 AF100
4 C300
5 D7000
6 F3 AB
7 F3 S-Log
8 FS100
9 GH2
10 7D

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Attack the Block

And there be spoilers here. Although really if you're reading this blog and haven't already seen any movie I talk about then you're only here for the pictures of naked people and cats.
You're welcome.
I thought Attack the Block was almost really good. There were a number of very nice and awesome things about it, but I felt let down by the characters. Of course, the fact that they spoke with such heavy working - class London accents made it so I couldn't understand most of what they said, so that might have a bunch to do with it.
But after the first 30 seconds I had a list of who was going to die because, lets face it, they should die. And they didn't die.
That's the sort of thing which would drive my sister nuts.
Indeed the head - count for it being a horror movie was pretty darn low.

The creatures were spectacular in a low-budget way. First of all, they (mostly) weren't CG. They're guy-in-a-suit with hand extensions. And the idea of making them blind but with glow-in-the-dark teeth is quite awesome.
If I were to re-make it it'd either have to be about a drug dealer who refuses to mug some girl, or it would be about a drug dealer who's in trouble with another drug dealer from the very beginning (when there's a shoot-out natch.)

Monday, December 26, 2011


I've probably made considerable noise of late considering on the fact that we absolutely must shoot and post a minimum of three pictures this year. Perhaps four. Well heck, if I'm dreamin' we should do five but them dreams ain't worth the hyper-paper they is written on.
What I have so far is Dragon Girl, then Joe Chapman's picture Alien Exorcism. After that we have picture called either "Alien Revenge" or "Alien Treasure" depending on the draft we're reading (written by Bruce Frigeri).
Before all that comes to pass, o'course, we must finish Android Insurrection. I have plans to do that in three weeks. Don't know if we'll make it. I expect we'll have a finished cut, tho' we'll want to clean up some visual effects before delivery.
The first thing I won't be makin' a deciding on is what to do with this whole Apple Final Cut Pro debacleation. We'll edit at least one more picture in FCP (that'd be Dragon Girl). And if things ain't be worked out by comes summertime, we'll maybe find ourselves on the side of the fence where Premiere doth grow all pretty and gentle-like.
Yes, I've been re-watching all of Firefly.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

New Desks Apocalypse

Laiva desk from Ikea is only $20.
But it's a bit too tall, the HealthyComputing says that these are the ideal heights:
Writing: 28-30 inches

Mousing: 27-29 inches

Typing: 26-28 inches

The Laiva could be cut down. That would be the cheapest way to get a couple new desks. I'm gonna guess we should be at 27 inches. I wish my parents had a tape measure. How can they not have a tape measure? Oh, I know -- my dad always keeps his in the car. Anyway, their desks are at a pretty cool height.

Tell me Law & Order: Baldur's Gate wouldn't be awesome.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


We should probably make a mockbuster of Prometheus. Oh wait, we are making one.

The trick is remaining friends with Joe Chapman as I hound him to finish his Alien Exorcism picture. Because I'm going to be one giant pain in the butt. Because that picture is going to be awesome and I want to see it. I want to see it now!
You know what we need? Spacesuits. And lots of 'em. I want helmets that fog up like crazy. Do we like spherical helmets? Or would we dig some that are like three plates of glass? Anybody?
We finally (mostly) assembled the Whisperroom (which we now simply call the Tardis). And I think everyone is in agreement that the desks we have are just exactly too large. When we get slightly smaller ones we'll be able to fit five people in our studio without feeling any more on top of one another than we ever did before.
Irony 1: I actually pay $25/month less at the new studio than I did at Theatresource.
Irony 2: The commute is so much shorter that I've blown through my stop going home twice now. I'm going to get a lot less reading done.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

New Digs

We've moved into our new place. We're renting office space from Michael Mailer Films. We found the space on Loose Cubes.
Here's a pretty appalling picture of Maduka and me waving at the camera. I look fairly deranged. Maduka is fairly blase.
Amazon sent me the wrong adapter for my phone. But I just discovered that J&R is only 4 blocks from our new office.
We need another desk. Like 4' x 4'. And we need a throw rug. Oh, and we need this movie we're working on to get finished.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Harlem Rage

Our boy Tom Rowen wrote and directed this. Stars our own David Ian Lee (the man with America in his blood) and the continually more frightening each and every day Maduka Steady as the badass.
This picture looks nice boy.
Who shot it?
This should be a feature.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

First of Us

Peggy Archer says funny things about lighting instruments.
We have, on occasion, tried to build our own "chicken coops". I can't say they've been terribly successful. Honestly, a couple cheap scoops with 300W lamps in 'em seems to do a similar thing. Those florescent lights we call "chicklets" do a somewhat outstanding job of smacking a whole lot of pretty (and uncontrolled) light on people.
The fact that I don't even own a light kit is simply absurd. Luckily I'm partners and/or friends with people who do own light kits. But have I mentioned how absurd it is we don't own one of our own?
The Last of Us. Teenage girl. Zombie-esque.

Reminds me of Jim Mickel's Stakeland too.

Friday, December 16, 2011

To Do or Not To Do

Here's a kind of neat video tutorial for lighting "talking head" - type videos. And it's exactly the opposite of what we do when we light.
Us? We start with the back light. Then we fill underneath. That's the Mitchell Riggs way.
If there are any lights left we might hit the face with some, maybe get some kick light in the eyes.
Lastly make sure something fun is happening in the background. If you did it right it's probably that rim light you set up at the very beginning.
I know. It's just the opposite of what everyone else does.
Speaking of what everyone else does, here's David Ian Lee on Funny or Die. Spectacularly not safe for work.


So, we're going to have a regular Skype line in our office. Were's still waiting on the little interface-things for these handsets we have that have 4-conductor plugs on 3.5mm.

Please, for the love of all that's holy, don't call it and leave weird prank creepy messages on it at 7:30 in the morning. (+1 212 461 4887)
The cost was only $30 (half price for the year) plus a subscription -- $3/month unlimited to North America. And then there's some sort of discount on that. I think it was 15% if I paid for a year up front.
We're gonna need new business cards.
So that's how things are.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Interplanetary Free Locks

Interplanetary is one of Steve's Top Ten favorites of the year.
Video Copilot is giving away free smoke stock footage.
We have locked picture on acts 1, 3, 4, and possibly 5. Although there is a whole lot of cleanup which needs to be done on composites in Android Insurrection.

Monday, December 12, 2011

New Space

We have a new address.
81 Worth Street
New York, NY 10013
Sarah Doe Osborne as Yurra-1 in Android Insurrection.
We also have a new phone number, although I haven't tested it yet.
(718) 306-9696 [UPDATE: This is NOT our new phone number.]
It's Google phone. So supposedly it'll ring directly to my computer. I'm not 100% sure of that yet.
But we have a new home and we're very excited!

Libby Csulik at the End of the World

 The awesome Libby Csulik made this groovy matte. Post-apocalypse here we come.

Original plate.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Melissa Schlachtmeyer in The Brooklyn Rail

Friend of the Pandora Machine Melissa Schlachtmeyer is interviewed in The Brooklyn Rail.
I think I want a sense of the world it physically inhabits, which is usually a discussion referencing some wheres and whens, either portraying a recognizable historical time and place or incorporating visual references to one or more, but could also just be pure visual invention
For $80,000 I'd expect not only a whole lot of camera, but a general lack of abuse from the manufacturer. Philip Bloom's experience with the Red isn't entirely like that.
For $80K you can rent a whole lot of camera and lenses and hire a 1st AC to babysit it all for you.
I don't get what the whole cult is over 4K shooting. I'd much rather have higher ISO on the camera. Shooting in low-light is very groovy because the "painting" with smaller lights is so much easier (plus shooting night exteriors without lights is, let's face it, awesome.)
The Penelope wants to be a high resolution camera. I wonder if it'll still "purr". I sure hope so. Ooh look, it has a name, the "Delta". I sure wish it would do 1600 ISO.
Either that or we just slap one of those Canon 300's onto an Aaton XTR. Because c'mon. You know you want it.

Feng Shui

So the Feng Shui of our new office has some issues. Yes, I know it's not actually "Feng Shui". And I also know that we have these 63" wide desks and we're moving into a room with these pillars and bases which make it hard to put things up against walls.
So this is my first plan. It's not pretty. But we have to get up and running within a day so it's the plan we've got. I have a month and 5 days from now to finish Android Insurrection so you know we're going to be rendering right away.
Joe, however, will have vastly better ideas for how we should use the space.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Shooting, then Scoring

The outside of our door.
I need some decent percussion sounds -- orchestral big sounds for scoring with. So I'm thinking about True Strike. It's only $419.
I may also end up needing some decent orchestral strings. But the awesome thing about percussion is the way it stays out of the way of dialog.
In the meantime I still have my Roland JV1080 to get me through the day. I've got the orchestral expansion pack.
Do these posts belong here, because I'm talking about music for film? Nobody knows. I could put them in Pleasure for the Empire or Tyrannosaurus Mouse.
Have I mentioned lately how awesome the Creative Commons site for sound effects is? Because it's awesome.
Videoguys has DIY recommendations for a hex-core PC for AfterEffects etc.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Our New Home

Across the street is the most amazing Fascist piece of architecture in NYC -- this AT&T building.

This is the door to our building. My skills as a photographer plummeted upon reaching TriBeCa. Maybe I'm just more committed to my art. Yeah, that's it. I'm making art now.
 The building is concrete-chic. It makes us very cool.

When you first walk in -- the top foyer -- movie posters everywhere.
Go down the first set of stairs.
Then you come to this door.
And go down the second set of stairs.
Our office has two doors.
There's really only one right corner in the office. And there's a window there.
There are two brick pillars which are slightly inside the room.

Here you can see how the pillars terminate into concrete blocks.

Here's a closer picture. I guess those are granite blocks.  We'll have to make our desks go around those.

The big question is why do I have this measuring tape clearly labeled with another theater companies name? 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Don't Work Too Hard

Peggy Archer complains about 14-hour-days and 6-day weeks.
I complain about them for different reasons.
If G&E is working a 14-hour day then the director and producers are working 18 hours. If G&E is doing 6-day weeks then the director and producers are doing 8-day weeks (you do the math).
Now, the exhaustion that happens is mostly felt to be physical -- dragging cable up and down hills and that sort of thing. But physical exhaustion is bad, mental exhaustion is dangerous. With G&E that means you can have accidents -- mis-patching feeder cable can actually kill you. With everyone else (especially in California) it means people are driving while tired -- and that can kill a lot of people.
But the strange thing (to me) is that there is simply zero advantage to the director and producers to working that hard.
After about 8 hours you just stop thinking. For a lot of departments it doesn't really matter "bring sandbag over there, hold microphone over head, press big red button on camera". But for the director and producers not thinking clearly means bad decisions.*
So all that shooting you're doing after hour 10? It's junk. You could have done it four hours ago and then the stuff that you're going to be shooting later in the week will be that much better to.
I can't tell you how many shoots I've been on in New York where they go to do an 18-day shoot and they start losing locations so that by the end of the shoot the entire crew is literally standing around waiting for the director, the 1st AD, and the producers to go scout locations for us to pick up the rest of the shots. Scouting. While the entire crew waits in some park or something. Maybe I shouldn't use the word "literally" there because as a sound mixer I would surely be sitting down by that point. But you know what I mean.

So don't work long days. Long days will actually cost you time. I realize that every once in a while there's going to be a day where (say) the camera breaks at 10am and you have to wait for 4 hours to get a new one.

But as a rule, don't work long hours every single day. And take breaks. So say I. So say we all.

*Yes, we're all aware that many directors and producers are going to make stupid decisions long before getting to set when they're well-rested, but it gets worse when they're tired.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Takeover

Juanita Arias, Jeff Wills, Joe Chapman, Tom Rowen, and Virginia Logan in Android Insurrection.
Via Stu there's this Russian-language short

I suppose I don't really understand the purpose of a trailer for a short, but the work by Big Lazy Robot looks nice.
The Underwater Realm is a Kickstarter project. They're shooting some dry-for-wet and a bunch actually underwater.
Don't tell Joe but I'm totally planning a takeover of his new feature film. The trick is getting onboard without anybody noticing that I'm directing it. Maybe I just won't tell anyone.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


So, in the coming year, it's going to be all about increasing revenue. We must increase revenue. It doesn't even matter if we increase debt at the same time, we must increase revenue.
I think that our costs are dragged about as far down as we can possibly make them. We shoot on a GH1 and I do all the post-production sound (and music) myself nowadays.
We need to shoot three scripts this year. Gee whiz I wish we had a disaster picture which was magically shootable. ;-)
I don't know if moving to another studio is going to end up costing me more or less than what I'm paying right now. I'm not sure where we're going to move to. There's this one space we've found which would be awesome but it may already be taken.
Juanita Arias, Virginia Logan, Tom Rowen, and Joe Chapman in Android Insurrection.
A quote about John Rodgers at John August:
John Rogers (@jonrog1) at Leverage is a productivity nerd, so he likes to use his writing staff to try out new processes. A lot of what we did there has stuck with me: working on a story for 48 minutes, then resting for 12. That one’s inviolable. You can’t fool around too much during a 48, you can’t discuss work on a 12. If caught, John would stop you — “Respect the 12!” — thus inculcating the idea of an earned rest period.
Productivity. 48 minutes on. 12 minutes off. Interesting.
This is one of the reasons I'm becoming a fan of the "cigarette break". That's the 12 minutes/hour you shouldn't be doing anything. I'm not suggesting you smoke, I'm suggesting you go stand outside for 12 minutes. Or maybe 9 minutes outside and 3 on Facebook. You get what I mean.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Lookit! More Real Numbers

Over at John August there are some real numbers on the residuals for "Go".
I didn't really know which blog to put it on but I made a whole post on "synthestration" for film scores.
And Brian Schiavo says: "Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if our mutating heroine grows a giant bug arm and kills a hooker with it?"
This still is from a movie called, obviously, "The Drill". I can't figure out if the picture is complete, or if they're still in pre-pro or if they've gone to festivals or if it's a short or a feature. I wish they'd spent more time on the production dialog. But the mattes look pretty cool. (Via Joe Chapman.)