Friday, August 31, 2012

Copter Cam

So I'm in the middle of mixing Prometheus Trap. Well, I say "middle" when really I'm just finishing up mixing it. Anyway.
Our next picture is this Dragon Girl movie.
My dad, out of the blue, sent me an article on flying robots. He said "Are you interested in flying robots?" I answered "Yes! Flying robots keep following me everywhere!" He did not respond.
In the article there was this sweet flying robot, the Parrot AR.

We could have dragon's eye view with the HD camera in the robot copter!
To be sure, the camera suffers from the shearing of rolling shutter artifacts. Which, you know, sucks if you're going to try to put a composite in it. On the other hand, if it's the dragon's view, you're not as likely to have to composite anything in the picture.
My older brother bought everyone (well, all the men) little RC helicopters for Christmas a few years ago. They're pretty cool. And these new copters are not nearly as crashy as they used to be in the olden days.
I do wish the lens on this weren't quite so wide. And I hear tell that it could be faced downward a bit rather than pointing straight ahead.
The Prometheus with the Venom. Yeah, it's dark because of the gamma difference and blah blah blah.
I'll ask my brother if he's played with one. The irony is I'll end up borrowing my dad's iPad to operate it.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Why Do I Love FCP?

I give up. Let's just make the whole movie look like this.
Why? How about because of crap like this? This is a frame from a part of a sequence which was supposed to be the closeup of somebody's eye, but instead would render like this orange matte. Thanks Final Cut!
I experimented with prerendering it without the Broadcast Safe limiters. I experimented with prerendering the video with NO plugins. Nothing would work.
Finally I went into the original sequence and re-rendered THAT. Then I prerendered with color-correction. And freakin' finally it behaved.
Turns out, FCP hated that the underlying footage had been slowed down. So that, with an additive dissolve, makes orange.
This, folks, is why we've pre-rendered the entire movie into small, flattened, chunks. And why we're keeping our fingers crossed that we don't have any trouble when we render the final version from that.
The list of movie dialog clichés.
A list of illegal characters in file names.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Mixing away

We have lock on the picture of Prometheus Trap. We have been going so fast that nobody has actually watched the entire movie in one pass from beginning to end.
But the big issue we're having is that Final Cut Pro renders... arbitrarily. Sometimes sections of the movie are just rendered with the highlights down about a stop or so. I suspect it's the way the broadcast limiter plugin works (or doesn't work). If we re-render the problem goes away.
This is pretty obnoxious. And it means we're making pre-renders with color-correction and broadcast limiting so that we can feel reasonably confident that when we render the pre-renders the movie will actually look right.
Turns out that putting the Proc Amp on the nested acts might help. We'll know better late tonight if that's actually true.

New thing we're starting to do: delivering in 24-bit. The digital audio is 24-bit 48kHz all the way from production sound through OMF through mixing to deliverables. Does it make any different to the quality of the whole movie? Not that anyone can hear I'm sure. After all, we're smashing the dialog into all kinds of limiters (after noise reduction). But it feels better to be doing 24-bit rather than 16-bit.

AfterEffects Easter eggs.

This movie goes in FedEx for Saturday delivery. Oof!

Saturday, August 25, 2012


The punchlist for Prometheus Trap is several pages long. But I have to be rendering out the final movie on Thursday night, probably Wednesday night to be safe. The Art of Dave Seeley: Publishing  The Burn Zone - Penguin ROC
So our focus is going to be "What will people really hate if we leave as-is?" Are there any visual effects which really bug us? Do we have every footstep foleyed? (Believe me, the buyers will pay attention to that -- even though a substantial part of the movie happens in a vacuum where theoretically you wouldn't hear footsteps.)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

My Office Environment

... is probably different from yours.
Drew Bellware, Tom Rowen, Rebecca Kush.
We have picture lock on acts 1 through 7. But 8 and 9 are "basically" locked. Act 10 lock will happen tomorrow (or it may have already happened) and act 11 (the penultimate act) may also happen tomorrow. Act 12 will be the end-title credits.
We still need to mix acts 1, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11. That's one act per day, right? It's all good. Right?
It's time to make some more renders. This grape vodka Rebecca brought in is very nice.
I wish I didn't look quite so deranged in this picture. Because I was trying to be all happily smiling. Ahem...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

More Giving Space Building Done

More than you could possibly want to know about the Open EXR format.
I'm giving up on all you people and we'll just get some windbreakers.
I've got four single-spaced pages of notes. About half of them are done. About half again more are to come.
My building is directly across from that huge Verizon brutalist architectural abomination in New York City and I can't get FiOS. Gimme a break.
Note that "lookout for spaceship ballet" actually means something to me.
I just noticed that should say mix act 5. Because act 5 is locked. The top note is confusing because that's not a "to do" but rather "this is already done".

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Option B

Here's the one-color version of the logo.

See? It's reversed. Just one color: white. If you see this on a white background it will be invisible.

Eleven Grips with Color and Tasks

The Eleven Rig is just a rigged cartoon dude.
Dollygrippery has an interesting complaint about Arri Alexa cameras and how they're only connected at one 3"x3" point to the head, which makes them wobble a bit more than film cameras. Which is... interesting.
Do you like budgets? Here's a budget for a $100,000 picture. (H/T to Kevin Kangas). No post-production expenses are included though...

I am digging this one-color version of our new logo. See? One color. The "white" is whatever the under-color is. Even if the under-color is black it would be cool. Barely legible but cool. Or, you know, it could be two color but the second color is white.
Here's a color-conversion tool that will calculate RGB and hex values and CMYK. Knock yourself out.
I'm experimenting with Do. It's a project management web application. We'll see how it works out.


Joe Chapman turned me onto the back cover of the German DVD of Android Insurrection. Dig it.
You know that the whole idea that there's the "Philadelphia Desert" is Montserrat Mendez', right? And I've just stolen it and used it in other movies because I'm evil.

Monday, August 20, 2012

To Do Today

Fix up act 1 from the notes we have.
Clean up the dialog that Tom Rowen someone who shall remain nameless messed up by putting camera sound over an entire scene rather than the actual sound from the second system recorder.
Make the end title credits.
Try to figure out what our running time is. Right now we're at 76 minutes but we're missing some scenes and the end-title credits aren't built yet.
James Edward Becton looking a little bit like an elf, with Rebecca Kush in the foreground. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Noise Reduction for Dialog

There's a couple things you can do. One is to use a broadband noise reducer. This would be like the Waves Dynamic Noise Suppression. It helps eliminate fairly "steady state" noises like fans and traffic and rain and such. 

Another noise reducer is a Spectral noise reduction. I have one of these built into Samplitude. This is good for bumps, hits, and crackles (even footsteps). But it's a fairly tedious thing to use.

I actually cheat and I assign all of my dialog to a buss with (fairly heavy) noise reduction slapped across it. Then when things get really noisy I go in and add even more noise reduction to the passages which are a problem. Then I turn up the Foley or other background noise beds. 

Friday, August 17, 2012


The price of movie-making cameras just keep plummeting. This Sony EA-50 looks like it might make a very nice shoulder-mount camera. And crumble buttons! It's less than $4K with a lens!

Standard Machine

Today is Standards and Practices Day in the Pandora Machine. We need a standard way to give our logo to distributors and buyers and suchlike.
Here is a standard for the three kinds of logos for us to create:
two color = logoname_2c.eps
black only = logoname_1c.eps
for reversing out = logoname_reverse.eps
UPDATE: my sister also suggests a 4-color CMYK version of the logo in .eps which I think is very smart of her.
I've noticed that some places specify the size of an .eps image -- as in the size that it prints. But that's not the point of the .eps, right? The point of the .eps is that it'll print from really tiny to 9 feet tall. Right?
UPDATE: my sister, who has all the actual brains in the family, pointed out that a big-sized logo in Illustrator would be irritating to a designer trying to put it in their DVD box or whatever because the big logo would obliterate the image behind it when you import it.
Andy Langdon looking dreamy in the engine room of the Prometheus.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Things Which Are In My "Mind"

The Copyright Office stresses me the heck out. Time was they would just take your money and your materials and file them away in case somebody decided to subject you to a lawsuit, or vice-versa. Nowadays they harass you for anything that seems wrong on your submission. Fact is that the only reason we file with the Copyright Office is because the distributors insist on it (so that their Chain of Title is clear and clean.)
We have locked acts 2 through 5 6 of Prometheus Trap. We are very close to being locked on the rest of the movie. A little color correction and off we go.
We want Pandora Machine jackets. The problem is that everybody in this shop wants a different style of jacket. I have no idea what to do.
Stu has a great post on shooting "flat" for grading later. We shoot as flat as we can with the GH1 (the blacks are still kinda sunk). But the fact is that we do a whole bunch of things to un-flatten any image we shoot. We have lights smash right down the lens -- blowing it up with flare. We let other parts of the frame sink down into the depths. And, as I pointed out, the GH1 does it's own job of sinking blacks.
Here's an important note for me to remember. The "motion logos" at the top of our movies go like this: Halcyon, Still Night, Pandora Machine. I do wish I knew what the actual Hollywood term for a "motion logo" is.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Recording Soundtracks

Jaime-Jin Lewis on violin.
Today was "bow the tailpiece day" in the Pandora Machine. We got some great tailpiece sounds, some great col legno sounds. It was a non-stop rock-out party with my lovely and talented cousin Jaime-Jin. She knocked this out of the park.
Groove to the sexy guitar amplifier behind her. Mmm.... Tyrannosaurus Mouse.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Painted Skin

OK. I'm digging this:
Painted Skin 2. It's actually coming out in US theaters on August 17. And if you live in New York, LA, or San Francisco you'll be allowed to see it.
I mean leastwise before it comes out on video.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Mentant Patches

How to get "save as" back as a menu item in Apple's simply wonderful OS update (could you feel the sarcasm there? I can't tell.)

Cinefex is available for the iPad. Comically, I don't actually own an iPad but my parents each have one.
Scott Frizzle has some nice (and free!) plugins and scripts for AfterEffects. Like Quaker and Novaticular.

Kris Fremen writes a review on his blog of our movie Battle NY: Day 2.
He has an awesome name, like somebody out of Dune.
Anyway, his opinion of the picture is in almost direct opposition to mine. I mean it's like the 180degree polarity-swap of opinions. The parts he liked (the opening) are, to me, the weakest parts of the movie. I just hate the opening and if I could do it again I would probably just jump off a cliff. Yes, I dislike it that much.
The acting, however, I thought was very good. And I thought the big whirleydoomers worked great and looked very photoreal.
And oh. Look. He sub-heads his blog with "A mentant's ramblings" so... maybe the Dune reference was there all along.

I'm looking at jackets. The Clique Ladies jacket. There's these embroiderable windbreakers. I also dig the notion of lapel pins, or maybe just get some patches and get them sewn onto whatever we want.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Goings On in the Machine

I have no good way of determining where we are in post-production. The thing is that we can have 8 out of 10 acts almost locked, but until they're actually locked we can't really see how close we are. We have to be finished in three weeks with Prometheus Trap so it's really quite exciting.
Now that we have our new logo I have to figure out what to do with it. Ha! No really. Here's the black-and-white version of the logo.
And this is a color version of it.
I don't understand Adobe Illustrator, the format, or even the open-source versions of Illustrator. I just don't get it.
We also want to get jackets. Much discussion has gone into what kind of jacket to get. To tell the truth, I've been so freakin' hot for so long now that I can't fathom it being cool enough to wear a jacket. Maybe come Autumn it'll be cool enough to think about it.
I'm rendering out some visual effects as "quickies" or, at least, not quite as "finished" as they ought to be. The advantage to this is that we're able to edit them in and then figure out what they need to do in order to be better. Better is better.
And I have to score the movie too. I'm er... working on that. I wish I just happened to be a virtuoso violin player.