Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Your three things for today

The Letus Helix. It's one of those new camera stabilization systems. And you know it's going to be awesome. I can't even remotely afford one right now, but it's going to be very cool. I've loved everything Letus has made.
Natural Reader is a pretty cool text-to-voice thing.
The Headzone Pro was a thing Beyerdynamic made a while back. It's the only surround-sound monitor for headphones system I know of. You can plug in six channels and it does some psycho-acoustic thingy to do surround out of the two speakers in headphones. Which if you have problems getting your room quiet or sound-isolated enough, might be your best option. Problem is they only make a vastly more expensive system anymore.
Oh, and it's made to follow your head around although that sounds like it would be terrifically annoying.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Mixing too quiet means mixing too loud

If you're not trying to be really obnoxious to your office-mates you might think that it would be better to mix with your monitors turned down to a reasonable level. It's not. Indeed it means you have to mix over again.

In film there is a standard for how "loud" you should mix. Specifically, your monitors should be at 85dB SPL (measured in noise bands) from each speaker at the mix position with the meters at -20dB Fs. Does that make sense?
This is actually pretty loud. Louder than what you should be doing with music actually (my rule with mixing music is that you should be able to talk over it comfortably. That's how you know you're at about the right level.) Now the other thing with film mixing is that you typically have to hard-limit each channel at -12dB Fs. This may be more of a broadcast issue actually. But considering that -12dB Fs is 93dB SPL from each speaker it's a good idea to not go above that level anyway.
As an aside (isn't this entire post an aside?) I've often wondered why they fellows at Dolby or whomever decided to lose 12db of headroom from mixes. My only guess is that if all six channels of a 5.1 mix are limited to -12dB it becomes very hard to actually go above 0dB Fs when you mix all those channels together, even if you do it clumsily. That's my guess.
Anyway, remember about how 85dB SPL should equal -20dB Fs? Well even when I'm mixing "correctly" I don't even go that loud. I set my system to 72dB SPL at -20dB Fs. This makes mixes "louder" than if I'd done them at 85dB because I'm pushing the faders up more to make up for the fact that my monitors are turned down.
But this whole complaint is that I'd mixed the first pass of the Dead Residents movie even quieter than 72dB (somewhere around 60? Maybe?) and all of those mixes just slammed into those -12dB limiters way too often and too hard, losing any sort of dynamics in the mix and actually making it a bit distorted.
So, mixing quieter means mixing louder. Right?
Somebody re-write this so it makes sense.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Angry Planet on DVD

Angry Planet, the Mac Rogers-penned sci-fi picture we shot a while back, is out on DVD in North America.

Fun fact, by searching for "Angry Planet movie" I found that the design was come up through 99Designs.
There were some nice designs submitted. Some were based on an older piece of art for the movie (the art used for the streaming version of the movie.)

Those different versions of Daryl Boling are pretty amusing.
Order yours on Amazon or what-have-you. Buy some for the kids! (You know how the kids are always wearing through DVD's -- buy plenty of extras for 'em.)

Setup, Tears, Dastoli, Time

Okay, Michael Arndt on the setting-up of a story.

I really dig the Dastoli Brothers. They do some very nice visual effects work. And not just CG either, they have some very sweet miniature work too. The "tutorials" they do are super-advanced. I can only barely keep up with what they're talking about.
Sydney Australia is like 14 hours ahead of NYC time. Scheduling a mutually agreeable time to live-record a commentary track (especially when most of your people on NY time are doing day jobs with evening theater) is quite an achievement.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Whew, Finished

So last night around ten o'clock I "finished" Dead Raid (the new title for Dead Residents.)
Immediately, of course, I found an error -- some missing bullet hits and ricochets in the first act. But there's a whole movie, color-corrected, with 5.1 mixes in both full English and with the Music and Effects split out.
At this point in the movie-making process I'm usually pretty annoyed with the movie I've been working on. And no, I don't typically blog about that. But this picture I'm still feeling pretty good about. A lot of the effects the writer, Steven Niles, was going for worked. Those can be hard for a director (me) to pull off but I think that somehow we did.
We're late on the delivery for this movie. Originally we'd promised February 1 (and you'll notice it's early April now). But we created a new prologue (and postlogue) which are kinda fun. The movie will be delivered by Cannes.
There's still a tremendous amount of work to do. First there's the quality-control checks. New mixes, new renders of effects, all that sort of thing has to be dealt with -- all in an effort to make the movie better. A complete transcription of the audio, along with timecode, has to be created. And just for fun, a copy of every single contract has to be double-checked and scanned and made into .pdf files. Then there will be a load of other paperwork -- mostly me signing pieces of paper which say how long the movie is, what the aspect ratio was, and a notarized form promising that the movie was made in the United States. 
I'd love to say I'm going to take the weekend off. But we have two more movies lined up for this year and somebody's got to get on the pre-production train for 'em.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014