Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Stakeland in July

Man, Jim Mickle just blows me away. His latest movie is Cold in July. Jim's directorial style is what I would ignorantly call mannerist. All these very precise images assembled together for effect. Of course, his being able to do that makes him such an amazing horror director. Cold in July is not a horror picture as much as a thriller. A crime thriller I suppose. It's very Cohen Brothers in its deliberate and macabre humor. And sometimes very Kubrick-y in the framing.
This "looking at the bottoms of feet" motif is something that's in at least a few of Jim's pictures. This image really pays off when you see their POV. And not to get too precious about it but notice that the "bars" in this shot are on the far side of the subjects, unlike how (in this movie) they're frequently between us and some very bad people.
See, the lead character owns a frame shop. He's a "framer". And the movie has you looking through frames, frames that change, frames that hold different things. Frames.
The movie has this very specific aesthetic vocabulary what with repeated patterns and bars and obstructions between the audience and the subject. I mean it's just really well thought out. The frame shop and the locksmith shop are pretty awesome.
Nick Damici wrote the screenplay with Jim and again they get the tone of the movie just right.
I want, nay, need this owl lamp.

It is beyond my ability to understand how the economics of these kinds of movies works. I just wish he'd make more of them. In fact, I think they should have expanded Cold in July to be an HBO series. Because that's just how cool it is.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Robot Revolution March 2015

So apparently Robot Revolution is being released on March 10, 2015.

Order early. Order often.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Android Insurrection Australia

Coarse language!
Our Australian distributor sent along these pictures of the Australian version of Android Insurrection today.
Man's final stand 'gainst the automaton foe.
I dig the back cover. I think that's unique to the Australian version.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Indy Film Again

So Kevin Smith, who is an excellent public speaker, talks about how he wants to change indy distribution. This, to the Internet, is him "imploding" because he wants to distribute pictures himself.

The logic was that they made the picture Red State for $4,000,000 and whomever they would sell it to would probably put in another $20,000,000 in prints and advertising, so that ultimately the movie would have to make back about $50,000,000 just to go into "profit".
So he figured he'd tour around with the picture and sell out some movie theaters and do the distribution themselves.

Now we hear that we're going to finally break the mold, make a paradigm shift, and disrupt the dominant culture all the time. And in motion picture distribution it pretty much hasn't worked once.

Kevin Smith and his team are no spring chickens. They went in with eyes wide open. And they took a flippin bath on the movie.

Red State is actually Kevin Smith's worst-performing movie ever (at something like 1.3 million dollars worldwide.)

This does serve as a warning to all who are all "We got this whole indy VOD release thing figured out, we're gonna leverage our social networks into monetized actuarial pods with cash - based numberwang overflow."

You don't. Smith and company are rather sophisticated. And they've been through the process on pictures which made people money. If Smith (who can draw a fair sized crowd just by showing up) can't have numberwang, what makes you think you can?

UPDATE: As per Kevin Kangas below, Kevin Smith is saying that the picture is actually in the black due to $3M from non-theatrical North American rights plus $1M US theatrical and $1.5M overseas.
But those seem like gross numbers to me still -- surely the venues take a cut, no?
And note that this article speaks on being close to closing on that $3M deal. That was 2011.
So maybe they did actually see black on the books?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

144 Hours

Having just finished John Purcell's wonderful book on dialog editing I've come to a thinking. Suchwise:

I think the fundamental difference between the way dialog is edited on big features and the way we have to do it is that on big movies the M & E's come second, with the English-language mix coming first.
We really can't afford to work that way. Our M & E's have to really and truly sound just like the English language full mix -- just without any actual dialog in them. And they are a first deliverable, not something we can wait on if and when more money mysteriously arrives.
So for us doing a dialog edit is really doing the prepping for the Music and Effects mix.
What this basically means is that the dialog tracks themselves get stripped and noise-reduced down to their barest elements. Ruthlessly so.
See, normally a dialog editor works on making a smooth dialog track by fading in and out of each microphone, and leaving the tone up between pieces of dialog so the scene has no jarring cuts of background tone coming in and out.
Big crossfades between dialog tracks are fine, but how do you build an M & E out of this?

Then they fill the spots in-between with room tone.
This doesn't work for me. Why? Because what happens when you mute those dialog tracks?
The scene's audio disappears. All you have left is your Foley and any sound effects you've cut in.
Now, there's a thing called the P-FX track. That's where you put all your production sound effects which the mixer may or may not use.
But the fact is we can't deal with waiting around to try to figure out how to make the mix work without the dialog after the fact.
So what I say is:
1. Strip that dialog clean with dead-on noise reduction and then add room tone to the entire scene.
2. Those "PFX" tracks? turn them into actual effects tracks. Make a decision then and there (during the dialog edit) what production sounds are going to be sound effects in the movie. Drag those production effects down to one of your sound effects tracks.
3. If you're going to use room tone from the actual scene and loop it, that's fine. Just deal with it right then.
4. Now, during the dialog edit, you need to decide on sound effects during the scene in order to make the scene work. Why? Because some of those sound effects will have to sit on top of the dialog. In order to know if your M & E's will actually work you have to deal with that immediately.
5. The PFX track gets a new function -- it (or they) is/are muted while running off the full English mix. This is because the only thing on the PFX track are sound effects which take place right on top of dialog where the dialog track already has the effect on it.
For instance, if you're happy with a line of dialog where the actor says his line but also scuffs his shoe at the same time, you'll need to put another "clean" shoe scuff at the same place on the PFX track. This way when you mute the dialog tracks and unmute the PFX track, the scuff will appear in the same place, just without any dialog over it.
Obviously this isn't the ideal way to handle dialog tracks so I try not to use any of these kinds of PFX tracks if I can help it.
As unbelievable as it may sound to someone who has no idea what I'm talking about, the above system actually does make sense. But what it means is that the person doing the dialog edit on a reel is also making sound effects decisions on that same reel. Because every edit in the dialog requires a careful consideration of the Music and Effects tracks (well, really just the Effects tracks).
This means that a "dialog editor" has to have a bank of sound effects available. They have to have a sampler and a keyboard available. They probably need to have a recording booth available. All to do the "dialog" edit.
Are there effects that can be done as a "second pass" or by another person at another time? Yes. Yes there are.
For instance, any noises created by a CG element like a dinosaur or robot can be presumed to not exist on the dialog tracks so one need not worry about them while preparing the dialog tracks.
Footsteps which don't exist in the production tracks (especially in scenes which were shot MOS.)
So, how many hours should this take? I'm glad you asked. The answer is 144 hours.
That's three days for all the dialog editing (including ADR), all the sound effects (including Foley), on each 10-minute reel for a 90-minute movie. Some reels will take a bit longer, some a bit shorter. And of course you'll schedule your ADR to happen in chunks so you will be spreading the ADR recording over a few weeks. But basically? 144 hours.
Me? I'm gonna write all of this up and put it in our Wiki.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Robots Will Invade

I could listen to William Martell all day long.
Kangas on his computer system, which has the cheapest Mercury - compatible playback engine (albiet with a hack.)
Kate Britton in the Philadephia Desert. This is a test rendering by Ian Hubert for an opening shot of the movie Carbon Copy (nee: Android Masquerade) by Steven J. Niles. The background city itself is temp and will be replaced.
Soon, robots will invade.

Naomi McDougall's new movie "Imagine I'm Beautiful" available on Google play.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Focusrite Scarlett 18i20

So, because every-single-thing has to be harder than previously imagined, we had to get a new audio interface for the new audio computer. We got this Focusrite unit. It is, I must say, really nice.
"Ice Nymph" is the name of the hard drive which sits atop. 

I don't know why so many people are into the RME units. They're quite pricey. May as well get Apogees*. But here's the thing: I've A/B'ed Focusrite vs. Apogee and they sound so close that when you invert the polarity the signal will oftentimes actually null-out.
Maybe I just like the red color that surrounds the unit (which you can see in the reflection of the wood support just above the converter in the picture above if you so care.)
But even the preamps are usable.

I haven't actually hooked up a 5.1 system to it. I'll tell you if there's any problems. But so far it's been very stable, which is critical (and maddening when things aren't stable).

*Traditionally considered the best converters for everyone but some classical music guys.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

After the Embargo

Now that the AFM has happened, we're after the embargo!
That's Maduka Steady with robots by Ian Hubert on all sides.

Note that if you look around this isn't the actual final art on this title. They changed the head. This is because by coincidence another filmmaker with the same sales rep used the same armor.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

See Why I Like This?

The book Dialog Editing for Motion Pictures by John Purcell.

Dialog editing
Actually begins a chapter this way:
"Picture plays a huge role in cinematic storytelling--almost rivaling sound in importance."

I am tremendously amused by that sentiment.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Lanie Zipoy's New Film Festival

Lanie Zipoy has started a new film festival called the DAMN Film Series.
Short films. No submission fee.
Do it.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Adventures with the new Mac Pro

So the latest version of the OSX (Yosemite) does not allow you to install Windows 7 on it via Boot Camp. Why? Oh who knows? Just because. (B/C FU that's why.)
So maybe I can get Parallels to work.
Of course, SugarSync hates the "Documents" folder in Parallels because it thinks the folder is on a network.
The other issue, and yes I feel dumb for not realizing it, is that there are no FireWire ports on the new Mac Pros. Why? B/C FU that's why.
So I guess we're at the end of Firewire for audio interfaces. Which I feel like is a lot of money down the drain. But we get one more chance with Thunderbolt to Firewire interfaces. Which are, of course, stupid expensive for a little adapter.
Parallels is $80. The upgrade to Windows 8.1 is somewhere around there. I really don't want to "upgrade" to Windows 8.1. I would really just like my computers to work.

Blenchmark is a Blender benchmarking thingy. I like it because it tests the thing that I actually do.

It turns out that Parallels has a terrible time dealing with GPU rendering. It turns out that Blender Cycles only works in GPU with NVidea cards. And the Pro of course only has AMD cards. That was a stupid mistake on my part to make. I should have realized that.
I am not a Windows 8 fan. I seriously don't know how you're supposed to surf web sites with it. I never did find Internet Explorer. I put in "" in the address bar of Window Explorer just because I knew that by legacy that would work. It launched Internet Explorer. I downloaded Chrome so I don't have to deal with IE (wherever it might be) anymore.
And of course the highest-end Mac isn't compatible with the Adobe Mercury playback engine. Ugh. It's all rather upsetting.
On the plus side of things the computer is very quiet. And it understands 4K monitors via HDMI without complaining. It boots in OSX very quickly.
I have no idea what complaints it will issue about audio hardware.

Saturday, November 1, 2014


In my effort to prove the Mac Mini is the device with which I can replace a power machine I have discovered a flaw.
GPU performance.
If you read the Internet, and I don't know why you would, you'd find that most articles poo pooh the very high end of computers because "What are you doing? 3D rendering? Ha! Nobody does that."
These helmets are all but impossible to make.

Oh. But we do. We do.
When all is said and done the Mac Pro makes a good deal of sense. Especially a refurbished one. Quiet. Low energy use. Very interesting. Still have all the issues with certain, ahem, hardware.
The Mac Pro is essentially unphotographable.

I think I basically have to move over to USB for audio hardware. Right now the best solution seems to be the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20. It has an adequate number of outputs.
Or I could just cheat. Somehow. Cheating is good.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


Every product I've owned from Letus has been really cool. By that I mean the 35mm adapters I've had from them have made things look nice. In an indescribable yet cinematic way. There's just a little bit of magic and art in everything they make it seems.
And now they've made their own stabilizer system called the Helix.
I can't even.

This stabilizer looks awesome. It's around $5000.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Just look at this nonsense. Look at it.
The back of a MOTU Ultralite (the original "Mark I" version) over-patched from here until eternity.
This is because Mark of the Unicorn (MOTU) makes the "digital mixer" inside their Ultralite box only mix inputs. You can't also mix the so-called "software returns" inside the box. So what have I done here? Routed six analog outputs right back to the analog inputs.
The whole purpose of this mess here is to make it so I can monitor a 5.1 surround mix in stereo on headphones. That's the whole thing I'm going through all this rigmarole to do. And I have to make this huge inelegant cable mess just to do it.
So right, the only multi-core I have is this nice Canare 8-channel snake with TRS connectors on each end. It's sixteen freaking feet long. For a six-inch jump. Oh but wait. There's more!
Look carefully at those bottom two connectors. See how they're slightly canted away from one another? Yes! That's because the Neutrik connectors are fatter than the distance between the jacks on the back of the Ultralite. So I used a couple smaller cables with Switchcraft ends (the silver-ish connectors) to try to keep the entire PCB on the MOTU from being split apart simply by having things plugged into it.
And I would be using the M-Audio Profire 2626, which has a rather elegant mixer with which to do this thing, except that it simply does not work in Bootcamp on a Mac (it does, however, work in the latest version of the Mac OS.)
Am I irked? Yes. Yes I am irked. Do you have any idea what I'm talking about? No. No you do not.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Grand Experiment

So. The notion on the table is blowing off buying a huge and powerful PC and instead getting a Mac Mini and running Windows off of it. And if I get really complainy we go ahead and get two Minis so one can be rendering while the other does other work or whatever.
That's the notion.
Thing number one: M-Audio is apparently not a big fan of updating their drivers. This is too bad as the M-Audio 2626 is a fine A/D converter with really very serviceable microphone preamps.
This becomes a doorstop then.
So that's too bad. Very sad really. Boo.
That said, I'm getting irritated in general with FireWire. I just wish I didn't have to deal with FireWire anymore. I can't understand why it's no longer available on laptops and it's really difficult to... wait a minute, I'm just whining.
What else is wrong with the Mac? Well, like with any modern Apple it doesn't come with a DVD drive. Now in reality there is a curse put on my studio wherein I cannot make DVD's anyway. All our drives are broken all the time. Okay, that's not really true but actually right this minute it is.
A portable optical drive is about thirty bucks. And honestly we just don't need one on each computer at all times. That is overkill. But right now I do not have a working DVD drive in my studio with which to load software. That is a bit of a pain in the tuchus.
Resolution. Apple disables the high-resolution output from the DisplayPort on their Minis. Why? Because they hate you. Now, I need 4K because my eyes get all blurry otherwise. Apparently the problems with outputting 4k using the appropriate DisplayPort to HDMI 1.4-compliant adapter works perfectly fine when running Windows on the Mac. This is because Microsoft is greedy for your money, not arbitrarily hostile to you as a person.
Thing is, I don't have one of those adapters (the "HDMI 1.4-compliant" part is what is somewhat rare). Apple doesn't even have an overpriced one in their stores and B&H doesn't have them. So I'm waiting for Amazon to deliver. Is it worthwhile to go ahead and order an optical drive? All for this grande experimentia in running a Mac Mini as a powerhouse audio-editing and 3D computer?
Heck. I dunno.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Computers Like Candy

So. Whumpus.
That's two computers in as many months. Big, bad machines too.
The PC we just lost had a Quadro 4000 card in it. 32GB of RAM. It is/was a fairly badass i7 machine from Titanus Computers (and of course even though it had a very generous 2-year warranty, we're at about 30 months with that machine so no such luck).
I'm pretty good at troubleshooting and I don't know what's wrong with the machine. Either a problem with the motherboard or the video card itself. Almost certainly a hardware problem.
So. We need to be back up and running.
My first thought was to just replace the machine with another big, bad-ass workstation. And I was all ready to do that when I'd finished being disgusted by my attempt at re-installing the OS on that machine when...
When I turned Artemis off.
And my studio got real quiet.
The Mac Mini I'd just got was still on. Running at 150 Watts. Quiet.

Apple disables the Mini. Because if they didn't nobody would ever buy another computer for high-end work. Apple makes sure the RAM maxes out at 16GB. And they make sure you can't output 4K even from the Thunderbolt port.
Ironically, the Mini will do 4K when running Windows.
I need 4K. But I only need it on a Windows machine. (This is because my audio editing software of choice, Samplitude, is a Windows application.)
I need Firewire for my audio interface, which the Mini has (it is shockingly difficult these days to get a Windows PC with a built-in Firewire port, but nominally one can install a port relatively cheaply.)

There is, for all practical purposes, no PC which is as quiet as the Mini. Certainly not for that amount of power. Looking at the benchmarks the Mini is at worst 1/3 the machine the top-of-the-line Mac Pro is. But even at about $1350, the Mini vastly outperforms the Pro which is somewhere at the $7000 range for that 3:1 performance advantage.

That said, man we do actually do all the things to computers people complain about on the Internets. 3D rendering, shockingly, is not the worst of it. After Effects and audio editing/mixing beat up our computers tremendously.

So the question is: do I get a cheap Mini? Or do I get an expensive Pro? Or do I get a PC? Right now I'm leaning toward getting a cheap-ish Mini and using it like a power machine. Of course that will only work if BootCamp works for me. Plus, there's the age-old issue of these new Macs not having any optical drives built in. I think Maduka has a portable optical drive. We'll see if that works for us.

Making the computer dual-boot is not for the faint-of-heart. (Or is that "feint" of heart? Because, you know, feinting. I dunno. I still have trouble with "barre.")

Friday, October 24, 2014

These things

Peggy Archer on set dressing.
We lost our audio mixing PC. Whump. This is gonna be rough.
Looking back on my life, the best computers I've had have all been Dells. Not Apples. Not home-builds. Not fancy boutique builds. Dells.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Philadelphia Desert im Jahre 2532

I had not seen the German Blu-Ray version of Android Insurrection before. I kinda dig it:
That's an Ian Hubert robot marching over the world there.
Buy it now!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Just a Blog Post

It seems there is a consensus that Adobe Premiere is basically the way to go as a modern picture-editing program. Final Cut Pro 7 is just getting too long in the tooth. FCP X is just not suitable for long-form. Applications like Lightworks and DaVinci Resolve are kinda cool, but I am afeared of them for long-form projects (features).
I am still in post on three movies. Every time I deliver the robot in a highrise movie it gets kicked back for QC issues. So really do not listen to me when I talk about doing sound on a motion picture. I clearly have no idea what I'm doing.
Don't expect to see this forever.
I am quite frankly offended by how much faster this new Mac Mini is than my old Mac Pro. And how much more energy-efficient it is.
I haven't gotten one thing done this week I'd planned to actually do. This seems to happen to me every single week. We need to be shooting next month or I will cry. So just as soon as I can get movies rendered and out the door with all the post-production done, I'll be happy.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Zombie Frei

I sit on a lot of embargoed information. Buyers hate the notion of the producer divulging things. Or maybe it's just distributors who hate that.
Please tell me this armor didn't need to get re-set for each take. The elbows are amazing. Obviously based on a body-suit, the hips look fantastic.

I can, however, say some things. I've been hearing bad things about zombie pictures. With the exception of Walking Dead. But we've been hearing bad things about the zombie market for a looong time.
It seems that some distributors simply cannot do zombies. I know that SyFy was having a miserable time with anything zombie related even as TNT was going gangbusters. And we know that "international" sales of zombie pictures has been generally tougher than US sales.
Does this affect you? By that I mean does this thinking affect what you do? Mmm... not as much as it does me. I'm only making robot movies from here on out.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Merricam - No-Cost "Steadicam" DIY

Via Kangas.
Good grief. This is simple. And the footage looks great.
Good. Grief.

Monday, September 15, 2014

How Should Your Android Look Today?

As we frequently do, we need an android.
At first I was down with this pseudo-nude look. Making the skin look like this would be hard. And the reflective metal pieces would make movement a nightmare.
Trying to figure out what an android in our next movie should look like. Oof.
This armor is hard but maybe not impossible? Perhaps with a base of motorcycle armor and foam-filled cloth pieces and rubber sections it would work. I particularly like the piece over the abdomen and the neck section.
The base mesh is, to me, the tricky part on this costume. Plus, of course, getting it to not gather and wrinkle at all -- that's very tricky. The breast pieces don't work for me, but I do dig the tank-driver's helmet and the way it connects.
I also particularly like the pieces on the upper thighs. Getting them to not gather and flop when the actor walks will be tricky but they look great.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Big Monitoring

I got a Seiki monitor off of Amazon
It's a 39" monitor for $340 delivered (to the US). The refresh rate is limited to 30Hz at "4K" resolution and I drive it with my Quatro 4000 video card.

So far I really like it. I've fiddled a bit with Windows font sizing and such.

All of my "professional" work is audio-for-video so it's really nice to be able to have the mixer up, with a reasonably sized video window, while having enough space to edit on. It's also nice to have a reasonable number of tracks to be able to see at one time. Oh, and the 5.1 meters show up too.

I'll probably do some massaging of the way the screen is set up as I live with it. The slow refresh doesn't bother me as far as working goes but NTSC video looks very, er, "video" to my eyes on this screen at 30Hz. So I slowed it down even further: 24Hz. There is lag, sure, but the video is prettier.

Here's the link to the screenshot via Imgur:
The image below is perhaps annoyingly large so feel free to look at the imgur link instead.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Please Vote

Click on this: Mission Main St Grant It'll take you to vote so we're eligible for this grant. I don't know what sort of chance we have, but I figure it's worth a try.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Melissa Schlachtmeyer

Melissa Schlachtmeyer, sister of Laura, passed away on August 6th.
There's a memorial service in New York for Melissa:

Sunday, October 19, 2:00 p.m.
Fifth Floor Theatre
Tisch School of the Arts at NYU
111 2nd Avenue
New York, NY

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Importing XML

As far as I can tell, the problem exists entirely within Final Cut Pro. Because even a straight-up import of xml causes it to freeze at 67 or 68%. Which is rude and ignorant of FCP.
The reason I figure it's Final Cut's fault is that I took an XML file and brought it into Text Edit. Then I found the following text in the XML:

3.00 : 1

And I changed the last value to "1" which should be the 1.66:1 letterbox. I did a search and replace. Very proud of myself, I was.
To no avail though. The import still froze at 68%.
So I quit. And I'm doing the changes manually. It's not as difficult as I thought it would be.

Today's Gonna Be a Long Day

On our latest movie we tried a 3:1 letterbox. The sales rep said "no way".
Now on most of our movies we've delivered a 2.35:1 letterbox and we ain't heard nuthin'. And we usually think of there being a letterbox on set when we're shooting. So if a boom creeps briefly in or what-have-you we don't mind so much.
But our rep would prefer full-frame 16x9.
Ugh. The letterbox is applied to each clip individually on the whole movie. That's a lot of clicking.
So searching around the Internet I found there's a thing called Edit Mule Filter Remover. It's got a 14-day trial and it's only $15 anyway. Perfect.
Except the company doesn't seem to exist anymore. Well, I better get all the work done in those 14 days. Except. It doesn't work.
It freezes on importing back into Final Cut Pro. I got no idea. I got nuthin'.
I will be doing a lot of clicking today. Oh, and I still reserve the right to letterbox to 2.35:1 because of boom lines and shadows. Luckily it seems that we actually rendered out all the effects at full 16x9.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Colors and cities

Color bars and how to use them.
Some Shutterstock city flyovers.
Lee filter 508 "Midnight Maya" is something close to what the opposite of the color of my florescent lights+the color of the walls in the office is.
The actual opposite color of my walls under light.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Two things are all I've got

You know that movie that you tried to make at your friend's parent's place Upstate? You know, where you have that great big house and you can shoot anywhere you want and it'll be that awesome noir-horror-thriller?
The Aggression Scale is that movie.
Ancillary Justice is... well it's just a terrible name for a book. But it's a smashing book.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Prometheus Trap Japan

Prometheus Trap Japanese artwork:
 So it's "Starship Invasion".
The beautiful Rebecca Kush commands the mission.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Monitor, color

The time has come to change my picture monitoring situation on the PC. We'll see how that goes.
  Seiki Monitor 39" and apparently takes some tweaking to work, but the price sure is right.
I'm not altogether down with the light and the color of the walls in the new studio.
There's a groovy app on Android called ON Color Measure which uses the camera to take color measurements. Which is very cool. And the color that's opposite of the institutional color of the walls is this.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Failure Groupies

Here's a trailer for our own Mandira Chauhan's Failure Groupies.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Render Order

Oftentimes in my life I have wondered what order effects are rendered in Final Cut Pro.

According to this search result it is indeed from top-to-bottom.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Solve that Roll

Via Kangas is this kind of brilliant tutorial on correcting for rolling-shutter problems. It's a very wonky solution, and I bet you could do it such that it corrected for each and every line of video which would only drive you very slightly insane. But it's quite brilliant. Yeah, you're not gonna want to do that for a whole feature, but man there's always a couple shots you wish you could do some handheld with that doesn't get all jello-cam on you.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Distortion in ADR

So my new thing is putting some distortion on ADR tracks to make them fit better.
The amp simulator plugin in Samplitude works really well for this. But all by itself it's a bit too much. So I feed an aux channel from an ADR channel so that I can blend the inserted distortion all I like.
Like so.

Where did I get this idea from? I got it from this brilliant book on dialog editing. Oh man. This book is good. Read it. Live it. Ignore all the ProTools-centric stuff. ;-)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I only got the two things

Eric Ian Steele on writing loglines.
Although not the best-written article, here's a comparison of what's needed for film sales in different genres. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Today in the machine

So today I took a pair of black pants, put a robot armor calf piece inside them, and shoot them with a paintball gun loaded with dust pellets. I shot it overcranked. I have no idea what it's going to look like.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Do these blog posts ever make sense to anyone else?

Today's questions include things like: Do we need a closeup of Hawkins' leg being hit by shrapnel during the robot shootout?
The magic solution to the inherent problem in ADR (that the new, dubbed, dialog sounds too "clean" and "dry" compared to the natural noisy and an ambient way dialog recorded on set -- even well-recorded dialog -- sounds) is this one reverb setting.
The 1.1-second "garage" impulse response in Samplitude has changed my attitude towards ADR.
One of the many impulse responses which comes in Samplitude is the thing. It's just a junky enough sounding room* that it sounds like an actual acoustical space. And it matches practically everywhere from a long hallway to a tiny anteroom. I realize that doesn't make very much sense but it just works. It sounds like the reverb one would record in a not-terrible room using a boom mic right over the actor's head. It's magic. I dunno.
Okay. Saturday we recorded the last of the scheduled ADR on Dead Raid. And I've re-mixed everything. New thing: when making the stereo masters off of the 5.1 masters I pull the levels on each channel down -12.144dB. This way the stereo mixes don't get additional limiting and yet the peak level never goes about -12dB.

The answer to the question is "probably not".

*"Junky" here doesn't mean engineeringly-bad-sounding. It just means small and, well, garage-y.

Friday, July 11, 2014

10 Hours

"Northern Ireland's work laws limits the work days to 10 hours a day."

Heck, Game of Thrones shoots that way. And you know me, I'm totally down with that. Like a mystery, limiting the number of hours you work simply makes you more efficient. It's amazing.
Just try it. Commit yourself to 80 setups in 8 hours. (I know, GOT only does 15 setups). But you'll like it. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014


We had a couple noisy locations on this picture and there really wasn't any option other than some ADR to deal with them.
Sarah Schoofs doing ADR in the studio.
 I've been using an Oktava 012 microphone -- the same we'd be using on set (except that this movie was almost completely recorded with wireless lavalier microphones). And there's a bit of distance on the mic (you can't even see it in the picture above.)
It seems that for most people, seeing the picture while they record isn't terribly helpful. So we've abandoned having a picture monitor in the booth. I'll play the line three times and then go into record. No bloops or leader or anything.
I think this makes it easier. You just need to memorize the cadence of the original and you're not distracted by picture.
I do try to line up each line for sync immediately after they record the line. Just to, you know, make sure.
There's a standard impulse response in Samplitude -- a 1.1 second "garage" reverb. I've been using that to give a bit of controlled distance and room on the ADR. Honestly I've lost all perspective -- literally and figuratively -- but it seems like the right sort of sound for ADR. The tail of the reverb doesn't do weird things the way the tail of a reverb which is more appropriate for (say) guitars and pianos would be.
We have two more actors we need ADR from. And then (hopefully) we will deliver final picture.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Dead Raid art and trailer

Whew, embargo lifted! Now I can show you the art and trailer for Dead Raid.

Dead Raid trailer from Andrew Bellware on Vimeo.

This is Maduka in the robot suit.
 I kinda dig the tag line.