Sunday, September 27, 2015

At the Intersection of Props and Costumes

Brian Schiavo over at Strangewerks is building out these terrifying masks he designed for the combat drones in Carbon Copy.

This is what he says about these pictures:

First there are pics of the sculpt sprayed with crystal clear, so that the clay will come out easier of the mold when it's done. The tubes are in the eyepieces so that resin doesn't fill them when it's poured.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Additional Photography

We're gearing up for some additional photography on Carbon Copy. Brian Schiavo is building some (5) masks for the androids.
What we need is a rock quarry -- preferably in Pennsylvania (because we'll have airsoft and paintball guns which look like real firearms).
What would be even better is if there was some sort of abandoned steel mill there.
We're shooting in the "Philadelphia Desert" and in post-apocalyptic New York City.
First sculpt.

The eyes will have lenses.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


There aren't that many science fiction movies which actually get me lost, but the criminally underrated Infini has some moments where I'm just confused. I get that we have to make the reactor think it's going critical in order to get command override but... what is on that conveyor belt? No idea.
But it doesn't matter.
We're seeing off the set here aren't we?

The movie has a strong script, is well-acted, and was obviously made for several million dollars. It looks great. Sure, they use the same armor we used in Prometheus Trap, but they have awesome space helmets and some decent weapons. The aesthetic design is there. Even the computer interface is a nice meld of Alien, and 2001 (flat panels), and straight up hexidecimal (even though he claimed it was binary but, you know, space insanity will do that to a fellow.)
Rebecca Kush made me watch it. She said I had to drop everything and watch it right now. Which is better than when she told me that I had to watch Luther because she kept hitting me every time she said how yummy Idris Alba is. So, fewer bruises this time.
Her point was, it's a Pandora Machine - like film. And it really is. Ensemble-like cast. Fog. You know. That stuff.
I cannot fathom the movie making money. But my goal is to make movies that look this good but for under $50K. That's reasonable, right?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


Have I mentioned recently how offended I am that my refurbished MSI Dominator is the fastest machine I own?
I'm offended because my Mac Pro isn't completely paid off yet. And the Dominator was only $1300 from eBay.
So offended.

Making a sand material in Blender. I have no idea how to apply a material to an object. So I have no idea how to attach nodes to a material. The whole thing confuses me beyond all reason.
Credits are Due is an After Effects script for doing end title credits.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Zoom F8

The Zoom F8 is an 8-input portable recorder with time code for a thousand dollars.

Now let's face reality, nobody actually needs timecode. But people love seeing timecode slates on set with their pretty numbers going around and around, so you may as well sync to something. Traditionally that extra feature on a portable recorder (having timecode) jacked up the price like crazy.
But the Zoom F8 has a huge feature set for a cheap recorder. There's even a switch for a slate mic and tone. 8 inputs all go to different tracks. You can even control the sucker with your iPad. That's a lot for a thousand bucks.
This thing is designed for what is a relatively small market which has been dominated primarily by Sound Devices and Zaxcom. Does this mean everyone will have to drastically lower their prices?
Maybe we'll end up selling our Tascam and get one of these. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Pixel Plow

So I did an analysis of how much it costs me to render. I was surprised about how expensive it is. And now I am rethinking my experiment with Pixel Plow.
Pixel Plow is the cheapest rendering service for Blender 3D. Cheapest by far. And it is super-duper fast. Even at the slowest speed it is way faster than my fastest GPU accelerated machine.

Unless I put my i7 with Quadro4000 GPU in a place where electricity is "free"*, it's actually fairly inefficient for me.

Now in order to do that I'd certainly have to get Logmein Pro which is $250/year.

And all that brings me back to Pixel Plow.

They make it relatively easy to render with them. The frames come down to you automatically as they're created. And now that we're in 4K it makes a much bigger difference to get those frames done so that a fellow can get to actually finishing the dang movie (whichever movie that might be.)

So today I am pro Pixel Plow for big renders.

*The morality of such use is up for grabs but those places where one has/does pay a single rate for electric no matter what the use does/do exist.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Back of the Envelope

If a frame takes exactly one hour to render in Blender (in 3D)*
If my computer's power draw is 240 Watts**
If electricity is $.31/kWh***

Then each frame costs about $.0744 (a little over seven cents).

Our movies must look this good at a minimum from here on out.
That's more than I thought. A thousand frames is nigh on $75 in electricity costs alone.  We do several thousands of frames of CG animation. And then rendering out all the movie and such, it's actually several hundreds of dollars.

*Renders take all kinds of different time. At 4K I'd say an hour a frame is about average, even optimized. Some are more, some are less. The one I've got running now is 49 minutes a frame.
**That's what the big i7 with the Quadro4000 video card is drawing. That does not include the monitor (which is usually off during a long render).
***This was the commercial rate at my studio, not my home (where my i7 is right now). The home rate should be something less. But add to this any additional fan or air conditioning I might have to/want to run when this computer is running.