Friday, February 29, 2008

Beer drinkers unite.

If you live in Alabama and like good beer, please take a minute to call your senator and representative and ask them to vote "yes" on HB 196.

You can find the contact info for your senator and representative here.

Discs not dead yet.

Well-reasoned editorial over at the New York Times about the (slowly) growing discs vs. downloads debate.


Looks like Crewless Productions will be present at Birmingham's inaugural OmegaCon, including a midnight screening of Hide and Creep and a special Interplanetary preview. More details later...

Just when I thought...

...I was getting caught up, this week kicked me in the arse. Filming on Sunday, Cutters recording on Monday, a nearly twelve-hour day job shift on Tuesday followed by an Exhibit(s) band gig Tuesday night... whew.

First part of Sunday's filming went well, after a hurried change of location (the quarry location we'd picked out had been blasted and, therefore, did not exist anymore). The afternoon was rough due to technical issues (we were trying to film an in-buggy conversation, but the actors couldn't hear each other--guess we should have built real working radios into the space helmets). All the same, it was good to have the camera on my shoulder again, and we had a great crew for the day, including Justin, who'd worked on Michael Clayton and, most recently, NBC's Heroes. Clayton to Interplanetary--how's that for contrast?

After wrapping for the day, Justin, Sanford, Hilleke, and I went down to Matthew's bar for beers and to cheer on Clayton via the Oscar broadcast (yay, Tilda Swinton!).

Things don't look to be slowing down anytime soon. Another Exhibit(s) show tonight, a little filming on Saturday, and a Wilco show in Nashville on Sunday. I'm going heading out of town for the day job on Tuesday, but at least maybe I'll be able to get some blogging done in the hotel room.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

"Other Worlds Than These" episode 023.

023: "Start Dressing Like A Pro."

Today is "board day" at my day job, which means...

  1. All the good parking spots are reserved for "visitors."

  2. I have to wear a tie.

Here's some fashion advice for any other poor souls out there suffering the same fate as me, courtesy of

"Start Dressing Like A Pro"

Spring winter cleaning.

Stacey and I might have house guests for the next few days, so we've been trying to get the condo cleaned up. That includes organizing and packing up a bunch of Interplanetary props. We've acquired quite a collection of... stuff while making this movie. After it's finished, be on the lookout for lots of space suits and shit on eBay.

Continuing the cleaning motif, I just moved about 18 GB of music off the trusty MacBook to a 500 GB USB drive. Man, I love cheap disk space. And the MacBook is actually usable again (before the music move, it was down to about 1 GB of free disk space).

Trap's been teaching himself how to rotoscope, and I just rendered out his first three test shots. Rotoscoping is, basically, using a program like Photoshop to touch up movie footage one frame at a time (removing an errant mic cable from a scene, for example). You can read a detailed explanation on Wikipedia's rotoscoping page. I wish I could post the video, but the three shots are all kind of spoiler-y. I can say Trap's already got a good handle on the process.

I'm watching Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer as I type this. The problem with the FF movies isn't so much that they're terrible--they're just terribly mediocre. Especially as they were produced after The Incredibles and Sky High, two excellent movies about superhero families. I actually think they perfectly cast the Thing (Michael Chiklis) and Human Torch (Chris Evans). But Jessica Alba as the Invisible Woman? Really? And then the screenplay paints the Woman as a total shrew. And they still haven't figured out how to make Mr. Fantastic's stretchy effects look good. And I don't like the word "rise" in movie titles. Oh, well. Maybe somebody will make a good Thing and Torch movie with Chiklis and Evans someday.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

"Things..." episode 023.

023: DIY ADR.

I blogged a little about ADR a few weeks ago. I finally got around to the first rerecording session for Interplanetary last night, so I thought I'd post some details on the ADR setup (Mark I).

One of our closets is the "sound booth." The hanging clothes baffle one wall (to cut down on reverb), and blankets and sheets are hung to baffle the other walls. There is another blanket hanging in the doorway. The baffles also help insulate the closet from outside noise. Luckily, it's pretty quiet in our condo at night.

The trusty MacBook (perched atop a stepladder) serves as the actor's monitor. I'd pre-loaded the MacBook with QuickTime videos of the scenes the actor would be rerecording. The MacBook makes a good monitor because (1) the LCD screen looks so good and (2) it is virtually silent when playing QuickTime videos off the hard drive (as opposed to, say, a portable DVD player). Though it'd be on the small side, a video iPod would also make a good monitor for DIY ADR.

A headphone splitter attached to the Mac feeds audio to the actor's headphones so she can hear the dialogue she's trying to match. The same shotgun mic we use for production recording is attached to a small mic stand, and the mic's cable runs out of the closet to John's super-awesome Sound Devices 702 digital audio recorder. That headphone splitter connected to the Mac also feeds audio to the 702. My headphones are plugged into the 702, and I end up with the actor's new dialogue (from the mic) in my left ear and the old dialogue (from the QuickTime videos) in my right ear.

Both the Mac and 702 audio recorder can run on batteries, so no AC power is required.

After all that stuff's set up (which only takes 15 or 20 minutes), it's time to get the actor (Amanda Myers in this case) in the "booth" and start rolling. My first plan is to get Amanda to recite the lines in time with the original takes, so I can listen to the playback and get an immediate feel for how closely the new dialogue take matches the original. However, this is easier said than done, since it's tough for Amanda to figure out exactly where to begin the line.

On to plan B: Amanda hits "play" on the Mac, listens to a line of dialogue, hits "pause," then repeats the line. This seems to work pretty well, as Amanda is good at gauging the meter and tempo of the original dialogue.

The only downside of this method is I won't know for sure how well the new lines play with the original film footage until I get them all synced up. I'm not too worried about it, though. Past experience has shown that, as long as the looped lines are fairly close to the originals, timing-wise, there won't be any noticeable "drift" between the picture and dialogue.

I have an idea (Interplanetary ADR Mark II, maybe) for another setup that might allow immediate ADR plus picture playback, but I'll write about that if and when I have time to try it.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

It was a year ago today...

Happy birthday, Interplanetary. Production on what is becoming our Apocalypse Now began exactly one year ago, on February 17, 2007. I originally figured that we'd be shopping the movie around to distributors by now, but...

Anyway, we're looking to get back to production soon, maybe next weekend. And Trap and I got some good location scouting done today.

Maybe we'll be talking to distributors in February of 2009.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Just watched...

Just watched Eastern Promises on the new TV.

  1. I'm still loving the new TV. Maybe it's even better than DLP at the multiplex? More consistent, that's for sure.

  2. I think I like Promises even more than I did when I saw at the theater. It's a little pulpier (in a good way) than I remember. Definitely recommended.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Thursday, February 14, 2008


I have two weaknesses.

  1. Stacey. (What my baby wants, my baby gets.)

  2. High-def TV. (More for watching movies than actual TV shows.)

So I recently got a new LCD TV that I didn't really need. And I have zero remorse. This TV looks amazing, almost as good as going to the multiplex and catching a flick on a digital cinema projector.

Also got a Playstation 3, which does a very impressive job of up-converting standard DVDs to 1080p resolution. It also plays 1080p-native Blu-ray discs, which look even more impressive, of course.

Out-of-print. Seriously.

I think I've mentioned before that Hide and Creep is currently out-of-print, DVD-wise. I was poking around today, and it's starting to get kind of hard-to-find, especially new.

This is kind of a shame, since I want it to be easy for folks to see the movie. But it is kind of cool that people continue to buy the movie.

If you are looking for a "first edition" DVD, Amazon has a few copies for sale through their sub-merchants (try here and here).

I guess if we don't get picked up by another distributor in the next few months, we'll have to self-release a new Hide and Creep DVD.

Fango shout-out.

Effects maestro Jonathan Thornton told me Interplanetary got a tiny mention in the March issue of Fangoria magazine. And the movie ain't even done yet!

As soon as I find the issue in question, I'll post details.

Catching up.

I'm now only one week behind on "Things..." and "Other Worlds Than These" posts.


Just finally sort of getting caught up at the day job. And just about to finally get back on Interplanetary production.

We took January off so I could get caught up on post-production (didn't really happen--see previous complaints about day job) and so our pal Mike Harring could borrow the Crewless Aaton to shoot his first feature (did happen--see Mike's blog).

But Trap's been making phone calls and getting things moving. So, with any luck, we might film some more before February's over.

"Other Worlds Than These" episode 022.

022: The Jaws Log.

If you care about Jaws (and you should--it is one of the great genre films), there's a fine making-of documentary available on the Jaws 30th Anniversary DVD.

After watching the documentary, if you're hungry for even more film-crew-versus-shark action, check out The Jaws Log, Jaws screenwriter Carl Gottlieb's memoir about the movie.

It's no surprise that Gottlieb knows how to tell a story. But I was surprised to find out that Gottlieb's tale of the troubled production is a real page-turner, even reading it with the knowledge that Jaws would become the prototypical blockbuster.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Hide and Creep internet radio review.

Casey and Colleen Criswell, hosts of the internet radio show "Irreconcilable Differences," discussed Hide and Creep on the air last night, and they had some very nice things to say about our little zombie flick.

If you'd like to hear the show, check it out at

Monday, February 11, 2008

"Things..." episode 022.

022: Four for filming.

Anytime you're out filming, know the location of the nearest...
  1. Radio Shack (cables, adapters, gadgets)
  2. Lowe's / Home Depot (extension cords, light bulbs, tools)
  3. Wal-Mart / K-Mart (sundries)
  4. Hardee's / Carl's Jr.* (breakfast biscuits)

Friday, February 8, 2008

Now playing.

Just watched Flight of the Living Dead,or, if you prefer, Zombies On a Plane Without, Sadly, Samuel L. Jackson. Like so many movies in the "disaster on a plane" genre, it's a bit slow to get going. After the titular living dead show up, though, it's a bloody good time.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

"Other Worlds Than These" episode 021.

021: The Assassination of Jesse James... on DVD.

Stacey and I were discussing the best films of 2007 with our good pal Erik Jambor. Stacey mentioned Jesse James, and Jambor replied, "Maybe it's good, but nobody saw it except you and Chance."

Now, gentle readers, is the time to remedy that situation.

Warner Home Entertainment released The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford on DVD and Blu-ray Tuesday. The acting, cinematography, music, editing, directing--everything that gets cobbled together to create a movie--are exemplary. If you are a student of film, or just a fan of mature, thoughtful storytelling, please rent or buy this movie.

I haven't seen either home video version yet, but I've read good things about the sound and picture quality, especially on the Blu-ray release.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

"Things..." episode 021.

021: The high cost of HDMI.

There are several ways to hook up your DVD player or cable box to your television. The latest and greatest connectivity method is known as HDMI. A single HDMI cable can carry all of a device's high def video and audio output to a digital TV in pure digital form -- the signal isn't converted to analog until it hits the display screen and speakers.

So HDMI is clean and efficient. Is there a catch? Oh, yeah. That'd be the retail price. Best Buy's "bargain" HDMI cable costs 50 bucks, and the cheapest HDMI cable I've seen at Wal-Mart is almost 30 bucks. Which wouldn't be an issue if you couldn't find them online for less than five dollars.

If you're in a hurry for an HDMI cable (as I was recently) and can't wait for shipping, check your local Apple Store. They carry an "XtremeMac" branded cable for $19.95. I wonder... is this is the first time Apple has undersold Wal-Mart on anything? Maybe they're hoping their HDMI deal will help them move more Apple TVs.

EDIT: Arik Sokol mentioned in the comments that he saw HDMI cables at Big Lots for $11.99. Thanks, Mr. Sokol!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

"Other Worlds Than These" episode 020.

020: Dangerous Days.

I've been making my way through Dangerous Days, a sprawling retrospective documentary about the making of Blade Runner. All of the major players, and many of the minor ones, show up to share anecdotes about their work on the seminal genre flick, but it's not just a talking heads piece--the documentary also features tons of behind-the-scenes footage from back in the day.

You can get Dangerous Days for free with the purchase the Blade Runner "Final Cut" DVD (there are several iterations, like this one, for example) or rent it stand-alone from Netflix.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Breaking radio silence.

January was really busy. Unfortunately, little to none of that busy had anything to do with Interplanetary.

I think I might be getting my head above water sometime next week. If so, I'll return then with a more proper post. And I'll try to put up those "Things..." and "Other Worlds Than These" columns I owe you.