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.