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.
The video below features my musings on the cyclical evolution of cinema. It’s the same as anything. A never-ending cycle of inspiration and innovation.
I spend so much of my time on this blog talking about how hard it is to make this web series. Bitching about scheduling, people’s schedules, finagling everyone’s personal calendars, and the scheduling of it all. That’s really the main thing I complain about. But I do it a lot. Because, clearly, everyone’s lives should revolve around the show, as the planets revolve around the life giving sun. So…
It’s nice to finally be able to tell you that I’m having a really good time editing the episode. I’m a cheerful little showrunner as I’ve watched the first fifteen minutes of the rough-cut come together. Even as I already plot to re-shoot a section of it and come to grips with a heaping amount of ADR we’re going to need to do (more on that later), it’s so validating to see the story unfold in a visually satisfying way with your friends giving hilarious performances before your very eyes. It’s one of those This-is-the-reason-I-do-it kind of moments, and it’s nice to feel that way.
As for why we have so much ADR to do, I’m going to let you in on it. Three main reasons, file them away as cautionary tales for your own productions.
1: We have a whole new system of sound gear: a wonderfully specific shotgun microphone to go in our old-as-the-hills boom pole and a brand new Marantz field recorder. We started learning to use these on the production, so there was a learning curve involved.
2: Our old tried-and-true sound crew is scattered to the wind. We had them some nights, but most of the time we were calling upon the ears of fresh volunteers. They did a great job for just picking up the equipment for the first time, and a fantastic job monitoring the levels, but if you’ve never had your head in the earphones before you can’t tell the difference between a microphone that’s pointed directly and one that’s pointed slightly indirectly. You’re not trained to notice the slight bass’y muffling around the edges of speech.
3: This one is on me. I’ve been choreographing scenes with A LOT of foreground/background interplay. I’ve been packing a lot of actors into tableau frames with a variety of depth and speaking levels. It looks great, but as I’ve said, we have ONE microphone and it is perilously specific. So, placing actors on either side of a room isn’t the best plan for getting great sound. Even a superstar boom op would have trouble landing this one.
In other news, we have a lot of kids to cast. I’ve put out a casting call to several Chicago agencies and I’ll get some auditions lined up in a couple weeks. Only waiting that amount of time because of the availability of the free audition space. I’ve put out a lot of lines to a lot of locations, and I feel like we’re finally getting to a place where we can start shooting the rest of the episode. All it takes is time and persistence.
So, there you go. Another week, another blog post. I have a lot of work ahead of me and I feel pretty good about it. Not a usual state of affairs.
Also, my last video update was embedded on one of my favorite film craft sites, Filmmaker IQ, this week. They liked what I was saying enough to include it in their articles. Good week.
Thanks for reading.
The video below is all about how much presentation matters.
In similar news, I’ve begun wearing ties everyday. It’s like an adventure.
As I gear up to try and get us back on a post-holidays
shooting schedule, I realized that I never broke down shoot nights 14 and 15 of
episode 9 for the blog here.
Saturday, December 13. 6pm-11:30pm. Many people were very
ill. Suede, our resident bad guy looked like death between takes. Eliza was our
main sound operator and she was nearing the peak of a terrible cold. I put it
up for a vote where we should get dinner from and the Damon Team actors banded
together to make Chipotle happen. I think I may have an irrevocable line-cross
in one of these scenes. For those who don’t know, crossing the line is when
actor’s eyelines don’t match between edits. If one actor is looking to the left
of camera while having a conversation, their scene partner should be looking to
the right of camera in their shot. Having shot one scene over the course of two
nights, a little blocking got changed and one side of the eyeline changed. I
tried reshooting the other side the following night, but wardrobe had changed,
so I’ll probably have to go with the eyeline stumble. We rocked through our
shotlist, getting some really great performances and shots, stacked our gear in
the back, and called it a night.
Sunday, December 14. 5pm-10:30pm. Again, people were very
sick. Eliza came in at the beginning solely to bridge the gap until I had a
last minute sound team replacement show up in the form of our occasional helper
Miguel Franco. Nice dude. We had much less to shoot this night, got dinner from
a fantastic greasy grill place called Michael’s Hotdogs, where Eliza and I
allowed ourselves to have fried chicken fingers and melted cheddar with our
fries. Neither diet nor disease could hinder our high-caloric revelry that
night, my friends. We had much fewer pages to shoot that night and wrapped a
half hour early. It took me a little over an hour to get everything loaded up
and out to the car. I dropped the footage into our main and back-up externals
and glanced through some playback. This episode is going to be great.
One of the things holding me up from scheduling shoot days
since we’ve returned from our holiday travels is how much I still need to
locate. I need to come up with 12 new locations, of which I’ve so far found 2,
and 23 new actors for very small parts, of which I’ve so far cast 4. It’s just
a lot to think about. I think I’m going to call upon our network of actors to
see if anybody has leads on enthusiastic potential participants and location
loaners. I feel like I’ve already almost exhausted my knowledge of places I
know. But I’m slowly working on it.
In the meantime I’ve been editing a little bit. There’s a
really long glidecam shot that I’ve been wishing was steadier, so I tried
running it through an After Effects stabilization process called Warp
Stabilizer. Did not do a good job. It’s usually pretty good, but this time
there’s too much motion in too many directions. So I’ve been going through and stabilizing
it myself. It’s a long process, but I think it’ll look a lot better at the
other side of it.
Thanks for reading, y’all.
The video update below is an annual Year in Review video my wife and I do every year, reflecting on our favorite entertainments of the year.
So, I’ve been off the blog for a couple weeks. It usually happens this time of year. I get whisked down the holiday hole, and for a couple of shining weeks my ambition takes a backseat and I hang out with my wife and various configurations of family and friends. It’s really nice.
Now, it’s the beginning of a whole new year, so let’s take stock of what happened over the last year.
We won the Studio 360 #scaryshorts competition with our short …JACK and I got to talk to Wes Craven, a personal filmmaking hero of mine. It was a project with a quick turnaround, which we were able to accomplish because of the skills and equipment we’ve gathered over the years for the show. It was a thrilling beginning to 2014.
We launched episode 8 of PoPS in the middle of the summer with the shortest time yet between completion and release. I finished it, put up aTRAILER announcing the release in 3 days, put up an awesome 30-second PREVIOUSLY ON the day before, and launched EPISODE 8 the day after. The reactions were overwhelmingly positive and immediate. It was a thrilling week of reading comments and I never expected so many people to think it was the best episode yet. Awesome.
We traveled to GenCon in Indianapolis to attend our Best Series of 2013 screening. Though we only had about 10 people turn up for the screening, it was a lot of fun watching it with them, handing them PoPS buttons and cards afterward, and it turned out to be an absolutely pivotal moment for the production of episode 9. We also just had a fantastic weekend exploring Indianapolis.
Then, Project Greenlight comes back. Just like with ...Jack, I come up with a quick script, we go out and shoot WHOOPS over 3 weeknights, and, in a competition with thousands of entries, make it into the top 200. In that same period of time, PoPS gets nominated for Best Indie Series for the Streamy Awards. So Eliza and I spent an insane 3-day weekend driving around shooting a BIO VIDEO for Project Greenlight and a CAMPAIGN VIDEO for our Indiegogo campaign as we set out to raise funds for episode 9 of PoPS. I got those edited and put up just in time to head to LA to attend the Streamy Awards. I love getting the chance to go to LA and roll around in the sunshine, the landscape, and the feeling of being in the beating heart of the entertainment industry. We didn’t win the Streamy for Best Indie Series and I progressed no further in the Project Greenlight competition. It felt like a double smackdown, and I entered a period of time when I didn’t feel much like doing anything creative.
However, our INDIEGOGO CAMPAIGN was a huge success, thanks to the arrival of our largest donor ever. After first seeing PoPS on a whim at the GenCon screening, he donated $6,000 to help us reach our fundraising goal. We shall be seeing him in person pretty soon as we fly him out to actually appear in episode 9. Outstanding.
My annual October nightmarathon this year was a 21-hour endeavor watching all 12 films currently in the FRIDAY THE 13TH FRANCHISE. It was a lot of fun to put together—these always are—and this time we ended up getting featured on several horror blogs and the Friday the 13th-the franchise website. It was a blast.
We spent the last two months of 2014 neck deep in production of episode 9, Eliza spent the last week trying to pay a lot of people out for the first 20 evenings of filming before the end of the tax year, and now we just need to focus on shooting another nine pages of tiny, one-off scenes in a ton of different locations. It looks daunting right now, but as soon as I sit down to hash out the scenes one at a time, it’ll all come into focus.
That’s a look at my video-year. 2014 had a lot of ups and downs. But all of it has given me a pretty good perspective as I head into the last two episodes of the series. Pulling off all 10 episodes of PoPS will be quite an accomplishment. It hasn’t turned into the springboard-to-Hollywood that I always hoped it would be, but it’s brought me so much more success in ways I’d never imagined. And even when I’m down on how hard production gets, it’s nice that the on-set rush of it all coming together still makes it feel imperative.
Thanks for reading, and for another great year.