Monday, March 31, 2008

Saturday night/Sunday morning.

Night shoot in one of the crazy old buildings at Wade, started around 6 PM Saturday and ended around 6 AM Sunday. Not counting the time Trap, Sanford, and Taylor put in on set prep. The place was filthy, which will hopefully play well on film, but all the equipment (and cast and crew) ended up covered in a layer of dust, which ain't good. But we got several pages in the can, which is good.

A few photos...

Monday, March 24, 2008


I'm at the doctor's office. I fear I may die before I complete the paperwork. Of old age, I mean.

Anyway. If any of you guys have suggestions for topics for either of the weekly columns, please send them my way. As we (hopefully) ramp up production again over the next few weeks, I'll need all the help I can get to keep the blog up-to-date.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

"Other Worlds Than These" episode 027.

027: More on aspect ratios.

Continuing the aspect ratio discussion, two more resources you might want to check out...'s "Aspect Ratios Explained," Part One and Part Two.

"The Digital Bits Ultimate Guide to Anamorphic Widescreen DVD."

"Things..." episode 027.

027: Aspect ratio refresher (or why some movies are still "letterboxed" on your widescreen TV).

The vast majority of modern movies are filmed in one of two aspect ratios: 1.85:1 (also called "flat") or 2.39:1 (also called "CinemaScope" or simply "'Scope").

"Aspect ratio" refers to the relationship between the width and height of the movie image. An image filmed flat is 1.85 times wider than it is tall, and a 'Scope image is 2.39 times wider than it is tall.

A couple of examples...

Movies filmed in the 1.85:1 format include Juno, Pan's Labyrinth, and Eastern Promises (pictured).

Interplanetary and Hide and Creep are also 1.85:1 movies.

Movies filmed in the 2.39:1 format include No Country For Old Men, There Will Be Blood, and Jaws (pictured).

1.85:1 images are a good fit for high definition television. The HDTV aspect ratio of 1.78:1 is very close to 1.85:1, so any cropping or letterboxing of the movie image for video presentation is negligable, if even noticable.

2.39:1 images, however, are another story. Cropping them to 1.78:1 loses about 25% of the original content.

So, to keep the compositions as the filmmakers intended, some letterboxing is necessary. Even on so-called widescreen TVs.

"Other Worlds Than These" episode 026.

026: On Directing Film.

Renowned playwright and screenwriter David Mamet wrote a book on directing film, appropriately titled On Directing Film, after he made his first two features. As a director, Mamet is no Kubrick (hey, who is?), but he definitely has a style, and when it works (as in The Spanish Prisoner, State and Main, and Spartan), it works like gangbusters.

I don't agree with all the ideas Mamet puts forth in On Directing Film, but, at worst, they provide some good food for thought. And several of his suggestions, such as studying good animation for ideas on shot composition, are quite valuable.

"Things..." episode 026.

O26: DVD-R of choice.

When you're making home-grown video DVDs, you have to choose between two formats and several brands of recordable media.

The format decision, whether to use DVD-R ("DVD dash R") or DVD+R ("DVD plus R"), is easy: DVD-R all the way, as that format has been around longer and is, therefore, compatible with more older DVD players. Do note, though, that some (usually really old) DVD players can't play back any recordable media.

As for which brand of DVD-R, I've had the most luck with Verbatim discs. Compared to other brands, I've found them less prone to errors during the recording process and more compatible with various makes and models of set-top DVD players. And I know Jimbo agrees with me on this one, so that's two votes for Verbatim.

(In a pinch, Maxell DVD-Rs are my second choice.)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"Other Worlds Than These" episode 025.

025: What Just Happened?

I don't often agree with Sean Penn, but his blurb for the book What Just Happened? Bitter Hollywood Tales from the Front Line is right on the money: "[Author] Art Linson sings of Hollywood in a low, guttural, animal wail, alternately hysterical, biting, humiliating, and wise."

Okay, maybe that blurb is a little flowery.

But no matter. Linson knows of which he writes. His production credits include The Untouchables and Heat, but most of What Just Happened? concerns his less successful projects. The book is fascinating from cover to cover, but Linson's take on Fight Club is a high point. Short version: that first screening for the studio executives didn't go so well.

"Things..." episode 025.

According to this link I found on Google, the purpose of a DVD jacket picture is twofold:

1) When the disc goes to the "stop state," a full-screen image appears on the monitor. This image is usually a logo or text which is unique to that particular title/movie.

2) On certain DVD disc changer machines, the user can search through the titles loaded into the machine. In this case, a listing of all the titles loaded into the machine will appear on the monitor, with each title being denoted by a smaller image. Again, this image consists of a logo or text, which is unique to that particular title/movie.

A few months ago, I stumbled across the jacket option in Apple DVD Studio Pro and started adding jacket images to my own DVDs. If you'd like to do the same, check out this how-to from ProMax.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The OmegaCon Preview.

Courtesy of edit ninja Ted Speaker (and VO ninja Kyle Holman), here is the Interplanetary preview we showed at OmegaCon Saturday night.

EDIT: Link removed (see below).

This is kinda massive for a trailer (three minutes plus), so I'm only posting it for a limited time (let's say through April 1). After that we'll trim the running time to something more reasonable and re-post it. In the meantime, enjoy the long cut!

Now playing.

Neither of these flicks are reinventing cinema or anything, but they're worth a look if you like 70s-set crime capers or 70s-set Will Ferrell movies (respectively).

The Bank Job


"Other Worlds Than These" episode 024.

024: The Grip Guide.

Grips, as Wikipedia explains, are lighting and rigging technicians in the film and video industries. Whatever your job on a movie set, it is worth learning the whats, whys, and hows of grip work.

So it's handy that is producing a new podcast called The Grip Guide, which promises to deliver "all the essential information you need for life on a film set." The Guide is off to a good start. I like to think I know something about gripping, but the first three episodes of the Guide have already schooled me on a few things.

"Things..." episode 024.

024: Go tapeless.

Way back in episode 001, I talked about ditching videotape for Interplanetary. A few months ago, John purchased the awesome Sound Devices 702 audio recorder. As the 702 records to compact flash media, Interplanetary is pretty much tapeless at this point.

It's a good thing. I am much happier now that tape is mostly gone from my filmmaking life (we still occasionally employ the DVX100 as a video tap, and the DVX uses MiniDV cassettes). The only disadvantage I can see, as also mentioned back in episode 001, is the need for more backups. But tapeless means faster transfers of picture and sound from device to editing machine (via FireWire and/or USB 2) and less equipment (goodbye DigiBeta decks!).


So OmegaCon was kind of a bust as far as Hide and Creep was concerned -- the midnight screening didn't happen due to a scheduling mix-up. But we did get to show off the kick-ass Interplanetary preview that Ted Speaker put together, and local artist Katie McClung finished the awesome Interplanetary poster just in time for the Con.

Like I said, awesome.

Since they're printed one-at-a-time from a four-color silkscreen process, each poster is unique. Katie signed and numbered the first 25, and I'm considering selling a few of them for $20 each to help recoup some printing costs (silkscreen technology is old-school, but not inexpensive). If you'd like your own poster (the first official Interplanetary collectible!), let me know.

I'll post Ted's righteous Interplanetary preview for a limited online engagement sometime soon.

Also, as I'm way behind on "Things..." and "Other..." articles, I hope to post several of those this week. Stay tuned.

Thanks also to Mia for posing for Katie's poster.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I'm watching...

... No Country For Old Men on Blu-ray. Man, it looks amazing.

I need to talk to Roger Deakins about shooting my next movie.

So I finally got an iPhone.

Now I'll be even more obsessive about checking email.

(Blogged from iPhone, of course.)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

OmegaCon movies.

Courtesy of Lee Thrash, who put together the OmegaCon film fest, here is the Saturday Con movie schedule.

  • 8:00 AM: Frankenstein vs. the Monster From Blood Cove

  • 10:00 AM: Point of Fear

  • 12:30 PM: Shorts (First World, Subject J, Heartbeat)

  • 2:00 PM: Torment

  • 4:30 PM: Yesterday Was a Lie

  • 7:00 PM: Scream Farm

  • 9:00 PM: Like Moles, Like Rats

  • Midnight: Interplanetary Sneak Peek

  • 12:04 AM: Hide and Creep

Monday, March 10, 2008

More on OmegaCon.

I gave OmegaCon the briefest mention a few days ago. I can't tell you much about the Con you can't read on their web site. Which kind of sucks, since they don't really have any info about the Con film festival. I do know they're showing Hide and Creep around 11:59 PM on Saturday, and it will be preceded by a 3 minute, 12 second Interplanetary preview that I am rendering out to DVD as I type this.

I'm very excited about the preview. Ted Speaker edited it, and it makes me smile. To say any more would give too much away.

Looks like passes are $15 for a day and $40 for the whole weekend. The day pass is a bit expensive just to see our new preview. But if you catch a couple of other movies and other fun Con stuff, it's a bargain.

I'm also hoping to unveil the Interplanetary movie poster, courtesy of awesome local artist Katie McClung, at the Con. Katie has been working like a madwoman on this thing, and it's looking to be pulp-o-riffic. Barring any complications with the silk-screening process (old school!) we'll have a few of the posters with us this weekend.

If anybody makes it to the Con, email me and I'll try to catch up with you for a drink (hopefully we can find a bar within walking distance).

Photos (finally).

As any regular readers out there might have guessed, I never got enough time at a proper computer to do any blogging in Vegas. However, I did get some excellent photos of our first shooting day of 2008, courtesy of actor (and gentleman) Michael Shelton.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

In Vegas.

in vegas for day job. Blogging from iPod. More when I have time at proper computer.