Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It's a Trick!

The joke we make around these parts is whenever anyone does a cool move which makes the picture better "Oh, so movies are all tricks. I get it."
It's all about the tricks.

Irene NYC from Buffalo Picture House on Vimeo.
So I'm watching this nice little video about hurricane Irene. It's in black and white. It's very beautiful. The depth of field is very limited and there's all this nice bokeh and...
There's no grain.
It's no secret that video deals with shadow detail better than film. And film handles highlights like it's nobody's business.
But those inky blacks that we've always been searching for in film are now totally achievable in video. And... and I don't know whether I like it all that much.

So I'm playing with some color correction on Android Insurrection. We have this one scene which is getting hit with a mighty thwafth of color correction because it's in an office and... well just look at it -- we're shooting with overhead lights. How can this be a horror movie? (Note that this is the only scene in the picture being whumped this way).
So we're really kittywhumpusing this one scene. Still, the darks are inky black.
1101 Android Insurrection Juanita Arias, dead guy, and Tom Rowen.
 So I'm experimenting with adding a bit of film grain to the image.
Same shot with film grain added.
I don't know if this is just something that bugs me, or if it just bugs me because I know enough to look for film grain in an image, or what.
We have 26 minutes and 31 seconds of Android Insurrection edited. Maybe if I get my butt in gear we can be up to 30 minutes by the end of the week.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bein' Small

I keep saying that Pandora Machine is the smallest of the micro-studios in New York. So I kind of have to demonstrate there are other, larger, studios. Right?

Glass Eye Pix
Rebecca Kush in Alien Uprising

This is where we go

to complain about the Mac operating system.
1. The "open" window in an application doesn't work just like the Finder, letting you copy/paste/delete files when you're scooching around.
2. The default action for moving one folder to the same location of a same-named folder elsewhere is to replace rather than to merge the two folders. What? To do that you need to buy an application like MoveAddict for OSX. Right. I know.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Make Blockbuster for Spare Change

Label-mate Neil Johnson is teaching a course on making sci-fi blockbusters for spare change.
He and I have had pictures out on Halcyon for a number of years now. A while back Neil came down to visit the Pandora Machine in New York. He and I shared our prejudice in favor of Australian actors.

via Bill Martell

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Advice and Joseph

 "Disaster films work pretty much anywhere," Bales says, "But creature films only work in a few territories. In most of Europe, a big giant fish means nothing to them."
Actually, this is a pretty good interview with the Asylum guys. It's impossible to get anyone to write anything sophisticated and un-snarky about the Asylum. But as far as the steps to go to in order to make a mockbuster, it's pretty good.
Here is Joseph Beuerlein being his every-day sexy self. He's an editor on Earthkiller and on Android Insurrection. I was very surreptitious in the taking of this picture.

Apparently we sold out at Amazon.com. But also my distributor tells me they only order like 5 units at a time, but they did make a re-order last week.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pulling a Bozo

I royally derped it up today. I sent a small version of Earthkiller up to my distributor today but I hadn't checked the audio for it yet.
That's sexy Maduka in the Quicktime window. See how I've labeled everything? 
Turns out I'd accidentally assigned track 18 (the left side of the commentary track) to the full English stereo mix. Which meant that I made a stereo version of the movie with us yapping all over the picture. And uploaded it to our sales rep's server.
Smoove moove there Drew.
Ugh. I'm cursed by lousy QC.
And I'm working on the page for deliverables on the wiki.

Interplanetary Alternates

Remember kids, tomorrow Battle New York: Day II comes out.

In the meantime, groove to these alternate VHS and Criterion Collection images of an Interplanetary that would be (by David Cornelius).

Friday, August 19, 2011

I'm Glad I'm not Chance Shirley

Because if I'd made the movie Interplanetary my head would never fit through another door. I'd be all in a hot tub with gold chains around my neck smoking stogies while giggly skinny models bounced and played around me all day. Why? Because I deserve those things! That's why!
In other words, I'd become a class-A jerkbucket. Why?
Because I made Interplanetary. Class dismissed.
I will fight any man who dares a slanderous word about my buddy Chance's movie Interplanetary.
This movie is perfect. Not just because I'm drunk, no! Because it is BRILLIANT!
It's just marvelous. Heady. If you aren't digging this movie you just haven's ascended to the right plane, man!
Say then thou nothing wrong with this great work of cinema.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Unsex Me Now

Today I get an emergency email from our rep regarding seeing too much of our android in Earthkiller. So I'm scrambling to do things.
Android walks away.
You can just barely make out see the time code beneath the image. Have I ever mentioned that I really wish Final Cut Pro had an "adjustment" layer? No? Pity.
Android hears a sound. Irony? I like this framing better than the wide. 
The timecode needed to be manually "advanced" to make sure it reads properly through the whole movie.
This was what I in my innocent stupidity thought was a perfectly acceptable wide.  It's now been zoomed in.

This is the furthest that the camera (handheld) "dipped down" in this shot. It only goes this low for a couple frames.

Burning android "zoomed in" and re-framed.

Burning android original. Note that we "Barbie dolled" her in post. Not the first time I've had to do that, but this time 'twas to no avail.

1102 Dragon Girl

So here's a screenplay. With dragons. And a girl with a crossbow. That opens as a .pdf link. There are right now still some issues with the script -- she's only supposed to have one dragon, we need to clean up the father's speech, we may need some more exposition. The number is 1102 and the title is "Dragon Girl". Unless, of course, you have something better.
It's a script. And we can lock it.

Amazon Studios

Libby Csulik lies dead on the floor (with a leather jacket draped conveniently over her) while Maduka Steady sweeps the room.
So. Amazon Studios. They want an 18-month exclusive window if you upload a screenplay to them. This dragon movie I've got needs to get produced in the next few months. Doesn't someone want to give us a chunk of money in order to make this picture?
It is, I think, the most commercial screenplay we've had. Dragon Girl. (That's a .pdf link to the screenplay). It needs a couple passes of cleanup but it's in pretty good shape.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

19 minutes and 57 seconds

Helen (Robin Kurtz) blows Mina (Katie Hannigan) out of the airlock in Earthkiller.
Joe Beuerleine, Rebecca Kush, and Tom Rowen have edited 19 minutes and 57 seconds of Android Insurrection. That's almost a quarter of the picture.

Friday, August 12, 2011

400 Hours

Keri Geddes in Earthkiller
Y'know, the IA is basically encouraging its members to work more dangerous overtime with the 400 hours-till-healthcare rule they're implementing.

Crumple Pop seems to think that magically everything will be OK with Final Cut Pro X.

"It’s tempting to speculate about the heated internet reaction to FCP X and the psychology behind it."

Right. What's not tempting, however, is to actually look at why FCP X isn't in any professional environments right now. Maybe I'm just getting tired of being told I have a psychological problem with FCPX rather than a logistical one.

What am I really doing? I'm avoiding writing a screenplay. I'm on page 42 of the rewrite. If this screenplay doesn't get finished this weekend I'm going to have a conniption.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Out the door!

Robin Kurtz with a laser.

This is the most nerve wracking time. We delivered Earthkiller to the lab. I hope there aren't any errors I haven't seen.
That being said, I'm very happy with the way the picture came out. Every new picture is the best movie we've ever made. And yup, Earthkiller is the best so far.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Family Video

We've learned that Battle: New York Day II will be available in Family Video stores. There are 735 Family Video stores. That's about half the size of Blockbuster inside the US. Blockbuster is owned by the Dish Network. And unfortunately it's much less "friendly" than it used to be to indy pictures though. Back in the day they would stock art-house pictures. I mean really! ;-)
But Family Video is tres cool. Unfortunately for me there isn't one within 175 miles of my house. But if you live near one you should GO CRAZY renting genre sci-fi from them.
The movie comes out on August 23rd. Rent, buy, run through the streets naked with a copy in each hand! I know I will...

Monday, August 8, 2011

So of Course

Today is Monday. I'm trying to get Earthkiller to the lab by Wednesday. And the computers are having a gay ol' time crashing.
Which is typical -- because just as you get to the end of the project, the computers are being forced to handle the entire show at once. And it tends to make them crashy.
And so that's the way things are.
I'm running a quality control on all the Music & Effects tracks. Basically I'm listening to make sure that there's no dialog in them. Because English-language dialog would be the most harmful thing possible in the M&E tracks. Even if a distributor found some issue with a sound effect that was on the English Mix of the movie that wasn't on the M&E Mix, they might tolerate it. But some English dialog in the dubbed version? That would be a disaster.
Which checking things I've discovered a couple... er... amusing things. Like, for instance, I'd been downmixing from 5.1 surround to, er, mono. Yeah. And I hadn't even noticed. So that happened.
I've also discovered, as my audio computer has been slowing to a creaky death, that sometimes the computer just renders out sound files... funny. And when I say "funny" I mean the render insists on placing a momentary DC offset and muting the audio. Which, let me tell you, is hi-freakin'-larious.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Play the Pandora Machine

Pandora Machine's friends have four plays with nominations for IT Awards this year. Congratulations all!

Original Short Script
Vincent Marano, My Baby, Ingenius Short Play 
Vinnie is a great guy and he's been improving my taste in Whiskey. He's also a brilliant playwright. He plays an evil man in Clonehunter.

Solo Performance
Nat Cassidy, Things At The Doorstep: An Evening of Horror Based on the Works of H.P. Lovecraft, Manhattan Theatre Source, Greg Oliver Bodine, and Nat Cassidy

Nat Cassidy and Greg Bodine are both awesome. They've been in our last few movies.

Actress in a Featured Role
Lauren Roth, Billy Carver and the Children in Mind, OptiMystics

This was a Montserrat Mendez show. 'Twas great. Mozz wrote Earthkiller and starred in Clonehunter.

Our producer, the Queen of Mars, stage-managed this show:

Performance Art Production
(un)afraid, New York Neo-Futurists
Sound Design
Christopher Loar, (un)afraid, New York Neo-Futurists

In fact she stage-managed Things at the Doorstep and the "encore" version of "My Baby".

An another Pandora Machine regular:
Heather E. Cunningham, David Ian Lee, Matthew Semler and Kristen Vaughan, Benefactors Retro Productions

David Ian Lee has been in our last three pictures and he wrote (with Nat Cassidy) the movie Android Insurrection.

Do I take credit for all their nominations and fantastic work? Why yes, yes I do.

Slurring Through Quality Control

I gotta batch convert some screen grabs. A lot of screen grabs actually. Our rep wants 300dpi images at "8x5 / 9x6 horizontal or vertical.
A 1920x1080 image is indeed 6.4 inches wide. But graphics designers tend to hate 72dpi images. Apparently this is just a change of metadata but the only way I know of to do it is to change the "image size" in Photoshop.
I'm doing a quality control listen to the M&E tracks of Earthkiller. I'm making sure there is no dialog on the track 'cause that would suck. If there were, we'd have to re-do the movie and that would cost money.
Yesterday Maduka, Robin Kurtz, the Queen of Mars, and I did the commentary track for Earthkiller. I have no idea what happened to me but not having eaten beforehand and then drinking too much alcohol is not good for one's ability to speak clearly. Apparently. So I slur through the whole thing.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Neuro-Gen 6

Friend of the Pandora Machine Jeff Hippolito made a teaser for his animated TV-series, "Neuro-Gen 6". This is done all in Blender at Jeff's groovy mo-cap studio in Midtown.

If the above version doesn't work, try this one:

Friday, August 5, 2011

Battle: NY Day 2 Comes Out This Month!

And this is what our distributor, Vanguard Cinema, told us to tell the cast and crew to do:

  • Rate the film on IMDB.com and “link-list” the film as distributed by “Vanguard Cinema”
  • Rate the film on Amazon.com and Yahoo.com/movies and write positive notes
  • Tweet release alerts via Twitter; frequently and with different information
  • Become a fan of our Facebook page, facebook.com/vanguardcinema and the films’ and cast and crew Facebook pages as well, we will do the same
  • Send notices of the release, via Facebook and Twitter with links to the film
  • Queue the film on Netflix for those who are subscribers
  • Share the film’s website, and the Vanguardcinema.com website with friends.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


As we're desperately scrambling to finish Earthkiller, our distributor is beating on us to upload still images to him.
I made a wiki page on stills. Note that this makes me no expert on still images. Our distributor so far HATES what we've sent him.
Maybe it's 'cause most of our stills look like this:
That's Maduka slating for us. Why is it a still of Maduka holding the slate in front of his very handsome head? Because I some idiot keeps forgetting to put the camera into "movie" mode after taking some stills, and when I call "roll camera" I that same dork bucket snaps a high resolution still instead. Derp.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

From North Carolina

Here I am on the tiniest jet I've ever flown on. Each row was 1 seat and then 2 more. I'm in the 1 seat. It took many hours for us to get on the plane, but once we did the flight was relatively uneventful. I'm just somewhat out of it 'cause it's so early in the morning... Or... late at night...