The video update below contains my musings on the gender
stereotyping perpetrated by the performers of audio books. And I didn’t mention
it in the update, but my favorite audio book readers are probably Edward
Hermann reading Scott Turow books or Jim Dale reading the Harry Potters.
Hermione’s a little too whiney, but other than that, he does a smashing job.
As a young upstart, you think—I’ll just develop my skills as a storyteller. Writing and directing. If
I write and direct really well, someone will pay me to do it and take care of
the hard stuff like scheduling.
Then you get a little older. Well, I can’t show that I can write and direct unless I have something
I’ve written and directed to show people. I’ll just make something.
After trying that a couple times by just throwing things
together with a couple days notice and seeing who’s available this weekend—This all feels so slap-dash. I better figure
out how to actually schedule this thing. I hate scheduling… But nobody’s
volunteered to do it. Okay, let’s try this.
Now we live in the age of crowdfunding and my hobby has
sprouted a lot of paperwork to boot. When I was a kid, I never thought I’d be
saying—Man, I love making movies with my
friends! Except during tax season.
We forgot to send out 1099s to the people we paid over the
certain amount, and I guess we could face financial penalties or something? I’m
not really sure, but it’ll probably all work out. It’s just crazy to me how my
after-work hobby has given way to so many other responsibilities. When going to
work is more relaxing than going home, something has taken a turn.
Thanks for reading.
The video below features Eliza and I talking about how
social media has us interacting with modern celebrities on a whole different
level, and an explanation of one of our favorite audition spots in Chicago.
You guys know that I Google search our show every once in a
while to see if anyone is saying anything new. I did that this week because we
didn’t get into a web series festival I submitted us to. I wanted to look at
what people we don’t personally know have said about our product to see if I
could get a little insight into why we wouldn’t be accepted. I probably would
have just let it go, but I saw a few shows on their acceptance list that are
unimaginatively rehashed generic web-blah with a fraction of our audience.
Seeing that I was like… Ooooooookay. Now, I may be just overthinking it. Maybe
they’re tired of web series about super powers, or maybe the voice of the show
isn’t their cup of tea. These are entirely possible. It’s also possible that I
think too highly of our storytelling, given my very intense personal investment
But one thing stands out in every review of our show, even
from the people who apparently like us a lot and are reviewing it to try and
get there friends interested. Phrases like “It’s not the best looking show,
but…” or “It may not be very professional looking, but…” or “Despite the look
and the questionable VFX…” or, allow me to quote directly from one I found
“I will say the acting and special effects are not award
winning (although the show has won numerous awards). But what would you expect
from a show where all the people making it are doing it for love not money and
really all the shows pitfalls just make it all the more love able like a
scruffy dog who has a penchant for rolling in mud.”
is the equivalent of a scruffy dog that likes to roll in the mud. And this is from
someone who is trying to get people to watch it. In that same review:
genuinly funny and has some actually really intense story arks…”
So… I’m going to say we get passed over for some
competitions because of the fact that no matter how much better we make the
visuals and the VFX, it’ll never look pro. Let me tell you why.
It’s my fault.
Even if my director of photography sets the exposure levels
perfectly so the darks aren’t noisy and whites aren’t blown out, I color
correct the episode. Unfortunately, I do it quickly. Meaning, in order to get
the actors to where I want them, sometimes I pull up the overall levels too
much, blow out the whites, or overcompensate in contrasts. If I sat there for a
long time, dicking around with power windows, isolating sections of the frame
and specifically adjusting three or four distinct grades within one shot, I
might be able to make it look as good as it should.
Conversely, if I wasn’t moving the crew at a thousand miles
an hour during production, they might have more time for switching out bulbs,
flagging hot walls, key lighting the actors, and generally sculpting those
frame isolating elements on set. But I can’t spend people’s time like that.
I’ve always wanted to keep set moving. That’s why I so intensively plan ahead.
We got this shot, boom, next is that shot. We’re seven shots
You don’t like something about the lighting for this set-up?
Can you fix it in less than five minutes? No? Well see how far you can get in
five minutes. It looks great, let’s shoot it.
Always. It’s only gotten worse as our crew has gotten
busier. I want shoot days to be as short as possible, and I want there to be as
few of them as can be. I don’t mind spending copious amounts of my own time on
my projects, but I don’t want to impose too much on the lives of others. That’s
why I do so much of post by myself.
That’s why I try to spend as much of our crowdfunded money
on the time people spend on set. Because set is hard and I NEED them. I
appreciate the time they spend on set so much, I want it to be as financially
rewarding as I can make it.
Time spent on set is so much harder than sitting in a
comfortable room by yourself, on your own timetable, doing VFX, editing sound,
finding music, color correcting, all of those post production things. So, even
though I’m not a pro, and I’m not going to make it look as good as a pro, I
feel like throwing a big chunk of the budget at any portion of post-production
isn’t right. That’s why we’ll never look pro. That’s why PoPS will always be a
muddy mutt. Because of me.
The update below features a visit with our big donor,
Harris, who donated $6,000 to help us reach our Indiegogo crowdfunding goal. A
part of his perk involved flying him out to appear in the episode, which we did
last weekend. We also got what are purportedly the best burgers in Chicago,
mine and Eliza’s favorite pizza in Chicago, took him to experience the
bar-arcade renaissance currently sweeping Chicago, and his flight was the last
to leave our airport before a complete and utter airport shutdown thanks to a
blizzard. It was flippin’ eventful. And A LOT of fun.
Every once in a while we’ll have a production day shooting
strictly visual shots. No dialogue. Just a series of beautifully framed
vignettes for sequence building. It’s so awesome.
I love writing dialogue, and I love watching great dialogue
scenes. A passionate exchange over conflicting perspectives can be absolutely
riveting. The Social Network, Lincoln,
Gone Girl, Clerks, Before Sunset, Before Midnight, The Breakfast Club, A Few
Good Men, Reservoir Dogs, Swingers. Just a few of the more modern examples.
But dialogue scenes aren’t particularly fun to film.
A good performance can be captivating to watch, but for
shooting, give me a day of camera moves, cool angles, and action. Not
necessarily action scenes, either. I’m talking more about sequences. Back in
episode five of PoPS, we had a day of shooting all of the Super Sorority
sequences, seeing them in their environments and learning about their
personalities. We did a lot of camera moves on a slider, focus pulls, and
tableaus. It was a lot of fun and every shot looked really cinematic and
We just had another couple of those days over the last week.
On Friday, we found ourselves shooting at a college campus in an amazing
looking lab classroom and around campus. On Saturday, I picked up Harris, our
big donor, from the airport and we headed over to a water treatment plant to
shoot a quick dialogue scene. He did a great job and we wrapped within an hour
and a half of arriving. Then on Monday night, the day after the big blizzard of
’15, we went to our friend David’s apartment to shoot 13 highly visual set-ups.
One after the other. They all felt so cinematic and cool. They told a story and
looked amazing. We shot for about two hours before packing up all the gear and
rental props and heading home. That was one of those nights where we were a
totally barebones operation. Three crew members, one actor, knocking down
amazing shot after amazing shot. It’s nights like those that really remind me
how much I love the medium. Sequence filmmaking is the absolute coolest.
Thanks for reading.
The video below breaks down how there are still plenty of
original voices working today. They’re all just under contract to turn vintage
toys and board games into action franchises.
been posting regularly on this blog for over 4 years now, and in my
first entry I talked about how people were starting to realize that
YouTube had more than cat videos. Now, this week, I’m surprised to see
that the US White House understands that more than George Lucas and the
news media at large.
last week, three YouTubers had the chance to sit down and interview
President Obama. They asked questions of their own devising, and
questions that had come from their YouTube audiences. It was a solid,
respectful conversation and Obama got a chance to address many more
millennials than I’m guessing he has in years. The reaction of the news
media at large was to attack the process, calling the interviews weird,
and attempting to marginalize the people asking the questions. Hank
Green, the YouTuber I most follow wrote a piece about it which is really
excellent and which I’m linking here:
onto George Lucas. Now, I can’t find any audio or video of the actual
quote, but I’ve cross referenced a few of the online trades and when
George Lucas and Robert Redford sat for a chat in front of a Sundance
audience, he supposedly said something to the effect of—I never thought people would sit and watch cats do stupid things all day. Maybe
he was making a joke. Lord knows I’ve dropped the odd cat video
reference myself on the occasional podcast. It’s shorthand for the
absurdity and specificity of internet interests. But it can be
interpreted as patronizing the new format. Kinda like—Nothing of quality can come from that cat video box. That’s
the way the internet has been interpreting it at least. And it just
makes him sound so out of touch. I mean, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer are
partnering up with popular YouTube creators to make original web
content. Admittedly, they’re launching that content on Vimeo, so I guess
they don’t want anyone to see it, but it shows that recognized
Hollywood heavyweights are aware of what’s happening on the web. And the
Obama administration can see it too.
of this just makes Lucas and the big news conglomerates seem wobbly.
Hank Green’s article said it all. It’s just sad to see people threatened
by conversation and a format they can’t easily buy and squash. I’m not
saying people like me are a part of this conversation. I’m just saying
it’s happening, and the old guard are trying to wish it away by
marginalizing and calling it ‘weird.” They’re like the popular crowd who
left high school convinced of their legacy. Then they’re surprised when
they go back to the high school and none of the kids have any idea or
care at all who threw a game-winner or was elected to prom court 20
Thanks for reading. And you should definitely check out that piece by Hank Green.
Many kinds of photography require you to go out to a specific location to get your shot, such as landscapes, wildlife and architecture. But, there are a few styles that let you work from a controlled studio environment. Product photography is one of these styles that can be photographed in a spare room.
Any room can be turned into a studio given enough space. One of the largest benefits of working in your home is that you can control the environment. For example, choose a room where you can control the lighting through a window or with overhead lights. If it's possible, find a room in your home where there is enough space on either side of the window to take images comfortably. Having room on either side is important for being able to shoot multiple angles.
After you pick where your studio is going to be, it's time to start setting it up. The first item you need is a table to help you elevate your product. It also gives you a place to set up other equipment.
Next, you need to set up your background. Product photography often uses an infinite backdrop, which is a long piece of material with a curve instead of a corner. These backdrops keep shadows from forming behind the subject that can be distracting. The easiest material to use is paper because it is cheap and can be found in many different sizes. Cloth also can be used, but it has some disadvantages. Cloth is generally more transparent than paper in situations like these, so make sure to use fabric with a dense weave. Wrinkles are the other main disadvantage, and if you can see them, then your camera can pick them up, too. Ironing the cloth can keep wrinkles to a minimum; however, wrinkles can be used as an effect if that is the desire.
Once you have completed these steps, you need to focus on your lighting options. Your window can be used as the key or main light, which means you need to shape the remaining light to fit your needs. Keep in mind that you may need to manipulate the light coming through your window if there are any hard shadows. You can soften the lighting with blinds or drapes if shadows are a problem. Furthermore, if the product you are shooting becomes dark on one side or casts its own shadow, you will need to bounce in light. This is called a fill light, which can be made with another piece of white paper that is taped to a flat surface and can be moved wherever the light needs to be filled. Get this fill light as close to your subject as possible without it coming into frame to give the lighting across your subject a more even and attractive tone.
Finally, it's time to start shooting. Building your own studio is a lot faster and less daunting than most people think, and this is doubly true when photographing small objects.