Sunday, June 30, 2013

Wrap on Principal Photography

Yep. We wrapped. A guerrilla style shoot.
At the Android Masquerade Jared Van Heel (as Tanner), Kate Britton (as Barbara Slade), and Ruby Thomas (as Janice 213).
 The white balance was set to 7000 Kelvin. Other than that there was no lighting done specifically for these shots. The only trouble I got into was the camera didn't always want to autofocus on Ruby. So I threw it into manual a couple times.

The thing is that the spa attached to our office is supposed to go home at 7:30pm. Tonight they never left. Which mean that the lights stayed on. Which meant that there was no playing with the lighting. We were expecting to bring in some extension cords and light the whole thing. But it was already lit. So. Uh. Who knows?

It would have been nice if we could have gotten the music turned off but instead we just had the actors play like they were in a loud store and we'll put some loud music in later.
We wanted the role of Janice to be as inappropriately touchy-feely as we could go.

We also went in a general way for "weird". I actually started using the word "creepy" as a direction.

We used a thigh rig on a mini Lectro transmitter on Ruby with the transmitter hidden as high as it could go. Luckily those transmitters are the smallest there are.

We did no dressing. We didn't exactly ask if we could use this location. But it's the place we have to walk through to get to our bathrooms. And we were very well behaved.

The crew was one. Me. I became quite shvitzig.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Wherein I find costumes

Here's Ruby Thomas trying on her new costume.

The Queen of Mars found those shoes for only 8 dollars. But the dress came out of my personal collection I ordered online.

Friday, June 28, 2013


Sometimes Caucasian writers are afraid to show any warts with Black characters because they don’t want to appear racist. It’s not about making us look negative, but about making us fully human.

Ato Essandoh interview on Copper.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

L'Historie du Aspect Ratio

This clears up a lot of things about the weird history of aspect ratios.

Thanks for making this, you making this dudes!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Six of Seven

On our penultimate day of principal photography we went out into the deep wilds of the Hickory Run State Park in Pennsylvania.
Kate Britton lines up a shot.
 Specifically we shot in the Hickory Run Boulder Field, which is this crazy field of (you guess it!) boulders.
Queen of Mars, Kevin Kirner, Joe Chapman. Those aren't extras behind them, nor are they alien robots (as far as we know). A surprising number of people were in this park on a Monday.
Thing one: it was hot. I mean like frying eggs on the rocks hot. I was practically burned out after being in the direct sun for 20 minutes. Good grief. It was hot out there.
Why does everyone think "Mad Max" when they see Kate's uniform? Is there like an Australian poster for the movie where he's wearing a similar helmet?
Thing two: the boulder field, while it looked cool, was impossible to walk on. You couldn't just move a few feet one way or the other without really taking your time not to break an ankle.
I cannot even begin to tell you how important ice cream break was.
The third thing about the boulder field is that we really didn't have the right kind of horizon. So the ground looked very cool. But the horizon was just green Pennsylvania trees.
The helmet makes it VERY difficult to sight through.
Lastly I almost had a coronary when the Panasonic GH3 decided it simply wouldn't play back any of the footage we'd shot in the latter part of the day. I just looked at it on my laptop -- it seems to all be there (in fact there are some stills above). But why did it do that? I have zero idea.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


I declare the Celtx call sheets to be actually usable. They populate automatically from the scheduling software right within Celtx.
My one complaint is that they propagate all the information like "location" and "contacts" populates both forward into all future call sheets but also backwards into previous ones. This is a bit of a pain in the tuchus if you're going back to previous locations.
Also it would be nice if there were a dedicated space on the call sheet for "nearest hospital".

I also declare that we will not be using Premiere to edit Android Masquerade. We're going to wait a few months to be ready to work in Premiere by using Final Cut Pro. The reasons for this are primarily that we need a better way to deal with color-correction in Premiere than the effects which are native to it. In other words I need to upgrade Magic Bullet and I'm using a pretty old version now.
Moving to Premiere has tremendous advantages for us. Now that we're shooting h264 Quicktime movies we can edit without transcoding in Premiere. In fact, we'd be able to edit even in AVCHD in Premiere. But Final Cut won't really work well with .h264 files. So it's ProRes -- transcoding using MPEG Streamclip.
What else do we want or need?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

1301 Day 5 (which is reel 4)

This is a British riot helmet. Probably used to put down a miners strike. In any case, it has much better use here as a helmet of the Terran Defense Force.
 I have not gotten the reel number to actually match the day number in several movies now. I really have to work on it.
Maduka Steady cops his best rock-star pose as Linus in Android Masquerade.
Kate Britton is suited up and ready to fight some robots.

Here's Kate geared up (but in front of a grey background.)

Over-the-shoulder I found this great reflection in the red-dot scope which Joe had put on our 11mm paintgun.

Jared Van Heel smiles knowing this was the martini of the day.
I've been experimenting with changing the color temperature of the white balance scene to scene. This, to me, is a bit interesting. We can swing to blue (I think the bulk of the day was shot at about 3300K) or very bronze (when making the color temperature more like 10,000K).
Man, the GH3 at the highest bit rate sure does use up hard drive space. I do hope it's worthwhile to shoot at a high bit rate. Hopefully that means the lowest couple of stops will be boostable cleanly. We'll find out.
I have to figure out if we want to edit on Premiere or Final Cut. One huge advantage for Premiere is that it'll edit the h264 files without becoming cranky. With Final Cut we'd have to transcode all the footage.
The GH3 does a weird thing -- the picture doesn't seem to come into focus until I go into record. I don't know what's up with that.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Day 4 (Reel 3B)

I do like that the GH3 names files sequentially AND doesn't seem to go back to "1" when one re-formats the camera.
But boy, shooting at a high bit rate takes up data like crazy. We only get about an hour on a 32-GB SD card.
Martian art. Created by the Queen, thereof.

Brianna June Tillo, Joe Chapman (er, "raising the roof"? I have no idea), Mary Hodges, and Jared Van Heel getting ready for the big operation.
 Call time was 12:30pm in Jersey City. We got back to Jersey City by about 1am. I need a nap.
Mary Hodges with a very wicked syringe filled with nanobots.

Mary Hodges.
 All 1600 ISO all f2.8 at a shutter of 1/50 all day long.
Brianna June Tillo waiting for her sister.
 I have a feeling that the high bit rate will help with the blacks. Keeping them from getting all grainy. I do have to figure out why the camera looks slightly out of focus just before we start rolling. I'm sure there's a reason.
One android against a nation of a million robots (to be inserted).

Day 4 (which is only the third reel) A

The Queen of Mars hangs her beautiful Martian artwork.
Shooting at a very high bitrate with the GH3. Trying to use the Wi-Fi as video tap did not work so well for us.
Kate Britton as Barbara.

Brianna June Tillo as Vicky.

Kate Britton.

Brianna and Julia Rae Maldonado as the android version of Barbara.

The Queen of Mars looks on as Julia and Brianna look to the mirror.

Barbara's squalid apartment gets messier every day.
Eating strawberries and popcorn beneath the alien art.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Rats of the Sewer

Our own Katie Hannigan on sewer rats.

Get More: MTV Shows

Friday, June 14, 2013

New Craigslist Ad

We still need editors. I just put up a new Craigslist ad. It'll get flagged because there are a lot of malicious flaggers on Craigslist and there's nothing to do about them.

 Video editor for feature (no pay) (TriBeCa)

This is a non-paid position. We're looking for someone who is willing to work on a feature for the experience and credit. So this is for someone just out of (or still in) school or who wants to be more comfortable working in Final Cut.
We're in the middle of shooting our 11th science-fiction feature. We need someone to help with editing the movie in Final Cut Pro 7.
Our website is
Here are some stills from the movie: (scroll down)
If you're interested, please contact us. The time commitment will be whatever you like to do all or part of the edit.
  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
  • Compensation: no pay

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Aesthetic Inspiration

Mayan relief in a Chipotle Downtown NYC.
So we're looking for some sort of thing above "Barbara's" bed. I'm imagining some sculpty and Mayan-maze-like thing.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Fixing Joe

The Art of Foley is a good and quick look into Foley.

I would be a better photographer if I could only remember f1.4 f2.0 f2.8 f4.0 f5.6 (then 8, 11, 16, 22). I always have trouble remembering that f2 is the next whole stop up from 1.4. There's no excuse for me to not have these numbers in my head.

Rebecca Kush, ladies and gentlemen:

"Fixing Joe" is a new web series. I totally want Rebecca to come to my doctor's appointments. Here's part II: And part III: Rebecca looks great in glasses!

Alien Uprising Parte Deux

Ooh look, somebody else has a title called Alien Uprising. I think it may have been named U.F.O. at one time.

Big ol' tip of the hat to Maduka for finding that one.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Moar on GH3

Okay. So the slow motion is very cool. It works the opposite way that I expect ("40%" means overcranked, not undercranked) but it does work nicely. It sure is nice to be able to shoot in slow-motion again.

Furthermore, high ISO's work well. A 6400 ISO seems actually usable. And the close focus on a f2.8 zoom lens is pretty phenomenal.
I still have to get the HDMI transmission to work. I ordered a mini-HDMI cable when I needed a micro-HDMI cable. Or, maybe that's the other way around. In any case, I ordered the other kind.
The noise performance seems to me to be very commendable. This particular brick wall is the sort of thing that drove the GH1 to distraction.
We're shooting here wide open at 6400 ISO, f2.8, with a shutter at 1/50 (which is the rough equivalent of films 180-degree shutter at 24fps).
One of the other big improvements the camera has is that apparently (at least when shooting in Quicktime/.mov format) it assigns unique file names to each shot which don't get reset until the camera is deliberately told to reset them. This is a big deal for our file management as having all these dang files named exactly the same thing is pretty frustrating. We'll see how that goes.
The video image is still not happy with very low light. It gets grainy, and not in a good way. So, you know, we'll still have to actually light stuff.

Looking for Editors, GH3

We've posted an ad on Craigslist for the non-paid position of editor. The first posting got flagged, primarily because editors who aren't working get all angry that we aren't paying.
So as long as the ad doesn't get flagged, it's here.
This is a non-paid position. I know, we don't like it either, but we don't have the cash money to pay you. It's a gig primarily for someone just looking for credits or material for a reel, etc.
We make science fiction feature films, straight-to-video. There's a blog where you can find all our previous movies along with trailers: (the blog and many of the trailers are rated R so they're not necessarily "safe for work"). 
We edit in Final Cut Pro 7. We have a cozy little edit suite in TriBeCa where we do all our post-production. We're looking for a serious and focused person to work on the picture edit of our 11th feature. 
Our schedule is flexible and we're are serious about getting this film completed speedily. The time commitment is also flexible. Typically we have more than one editor work on a project (each editor handling a different "reel".) But we're open to someone wanting to edit a small amount or a large amount of the movie(s). 
Interested? Do you think you can carve out some regular time each week to edit? Hit us up! 
Got the GH3 with the Lumix 12-35mm lens. The first thing I hadn't realized is that the camera will shoot in .mov format directly. We only get about an hour of footage on a 32GB SD card that way but otherwise it sure is less work and hassle.
3200 ISO, f2.8, 1/50 shutter
Good grief this lens will let you focus closely. In the regular motion-picture format (which I haven't set stills to yet) it'll look even closer because the aspect ratio will be 16:9 rather than the 3:4 which you see above.
With the GH3 Panasonic has changed some things from the GH2 back to the way the GH1 had them. Things I think were better on the GH1. Like flipping from AF to MF is a bit easier on the GH3 than on the GH2.
I'm eager to try the slow-motion on the camera. And I'm kind of curious to see where the ISO gets too noisy to use.
But getting back to the "shooting in Quicktime (.mov)" thing again. Boy, that makes using Final Cut Pro less annoying. We'll see.

Monday, June 10, 2013

While Waiting for UPS to Arrive...

So it turns out that Apple actually is going to update the horribly outdated Mac Pro line. My question is: what software are you going to run on it? Looks like the hardware designers at Apple have been busy working on their high-end but not their software engineers. Because really the only software that's going to take advantage of that power is all made by Adobe.
I suppose Maya, Blender, 3dsMax, and the like will be happier with an updated Mac Pro. Not any happier than with my i7 liquid-cooled Windows 7 PC, but happier than with my (at this point) ancient dual-quad-core Mac (which I'm typing this on.)
For straight-ahead editing though I don't know if we really need much more computer. I know that my PC (using Samplitude) can handle whatever audio I realistically want to throw at it. We've finally found the practical limits of data bandwidth (that being 48kHz, 24-bit per channel) as my exhaustive and completely subjective testing have demonstrated that we don't get any benefit from higher sample rates or bit depths.
As for picture, yeah I suppose we'll end up with 4K resolution -- if only to have the option of re-framing shots -- but we can edit that kind of resolution now. So newer and faster machines aren't that exciting to us yet.
3D effects, and even 2D compositing can and will slow any machine down to a crawl. So yeah, we can always use more power there.
If that Adobe Anywhere service actually, well, actually starts to exist, we might be very interested. As we're shooting in .mts formats it sure would be easier for us to edit in the same format rather than converting to Quicktime and taking up much more drive space.
It seems to me that the video world is sort of catching up with what we've been doing in audio since the practical advent of 32-bit float, and that's going ahead and processing the video image in whatever the highest bit depth the editing system can handle (no matter how low a bit depth the video may have been shot in.) I mean, it's high time for that, isn't it?
Well, it's after 8pm and although UPS says the order is out on the truck, I just don't believe it. I'm going home.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

D-Day in the Machine

Kevin Kangas interviewed about his Kickstarter campaign.
I was going to shoot a short for Rebecca Kush this weekend.
Unfortunately, most of my sound gear is in Allentown at Joe Chapman's studio.
Fortunately, Rebecca had a sound guy all set.
Unfortunately, the sound guy fell through.
Fortunately, I have just barely enough sound gear in order to do the shoot.
Unfortunately we don't have an experienced boom operator.
Fortunately, we ordered the new GH3 camera to show up on Friday.
Unfortunately, UPS tried to deliver before the office was open.
Fortunately, I could drive back into the city in order to pick it up from the UPS service center.
Unfortunately, when I drove through the incredible storm to get there, UPS didn't actually have the camera yet.

So that shoot has been postponed. Sheesh.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Pandora Around the World

I just thought this page was kinda neat. So I took a screenshot of it.
Japanese versions of Pandora Machine movies.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

More Costumes

Caitlin set us up with moar costumes!
"Android outside wear". Surely this is Vicky's outside wear, no? Because the android costume already exists. Right?

Barbara's "hospital" wear.

Doctor Lake's uniform.

Linus' uniform. Nice long coat.

Ryan Tanner's medical uniform.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Day II et Jabon

Here's a thing for me to keep in mind. My name is typically transliterated into Japanese as
アンドリュー・ベルウェアWhich is good to know if/when I'm ever tying to look up artwork for our movies online.
Although I don't quite get what that ・ is all about.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Reign o' Dragon

Check it out, there's a little write up of Dragon Reign on Dread Central. This write-up is based on the trailer.

Here is my favorite quote:

"I had to do some Google searching to try and find any other information about the film since it does not yet have an IMDB page and Halcyon couldn’t be bother to list any credits on its website. I do believe my Googling turned up confirmation that Dragon Reign is directed by Andrew Bellware (Prometheus Trap, Android Insurrection, Alien Uprising). As for the cast, I’m sure they’re all fine people whoever they are."

I can assure you, the cast are delightful people.