here come the busys

Metalocalypse is my new favorite show.
Frisky Dingo has my thumbs up, too, and I assume this past Sunday's episode covered the entire season's budget. All the money's on the screen, too, people, in the writing and the artwork. Adult Swim's experiments thus far with product placement have been pretty successful in that the episodes sacrificed to Sponsorship tend to be no less funny than any of the others (the pathetic "Boost Mobile" episode of last season's Aqua Teen Hunger Force being an exception), but I can't help but feel a little sad that Matt & Adam didn't bust out Grizzlebees.

Man I am busy as hell starting now. Old projects at work are overlapping, and tomorrow I start cutting a music video for a Don Omar1 song (featuring Beenie Man2[...I wonder if I now have beef with Bounty Killer?]) titled "Belly Danza". Sadly, Tony Danza does not appear in the video.

Anyway, there's that and then two weeks from now I will devote all my off-clock hours to editing for the 2006 RipFest project. Pros: meeting cool people who do good work, doing something that'll be seen, high probability of at least passable quality given the restrictions (two weeks total to write, shoot, post-produce and score), fun challenge. Cons: I will be living at my office. Hey, I have a couch.

Having accidentally blown off a sunrise shoot for Night Grinders last weekend I will arise cheerfully and do my duty this coming Saturday morning.

1. My favorite part of this Wikipedia article is this: "Don Omar was also able to beat the in-store appearance sales record at Disneyworld's Virgin music store previously set by pop star Britney Spears."
2. My favorite part of this Wikipedia article is this: "as he has explicitly said in lyrics 'I'm dreaming of a new Jamaica, come to execute all the gays'."


politics, art... you know, the usual

Yesterday I saw a neon sign along 10th Avenue with some broken letters. The remainder read "SUPPORT OUR OOPS". I could only wonder how long it had been left in that state, and lament that we were driving by too fast to get a picture.

Kudos to the state of New Jersey whose activist judges have legislated from the bench in their war on people of faith and delcared that the state must create a legal status for homosexual couples that is equivalent to marriage. The state is not required label such a union "marriage" but it must be legally equivalent to heterosexual marriage. As proof that there's no pleasing some people, the chairman of Garden State Equality told the New York Times that "Those who would view today's ruling as a victory for same sex couples are dead wrong," and that "(h)alf-steps short of marriage — like New Jersey's domestic-partnership law and also civil union laws — don't work in the real world."

These are the hilarious vicissitudes of Federalism. A state can attempt to expand the freedom and liberty of its citizens while the Congress has taken steps to completely eliminate our so-called Republic by passing the Military Commissions Act of 2006. People, we now live in an overt tyranny which has done away with habeas corpus (the right to challenge your detention). The Executive now has the power to declare anyone, citizen or non, to be an "unlawful enemy combatant" and thereby strip them of all rights and confine them indefinitely to a secret prison. In that prison, nothing which will happen to them will be deemed torture, because as of now the President has the ability to decide what is and is not torture.

But it'll never happen to you, right? Well, according to a speech Sid Blumenthal delivered at the Center for American Progress on Oct. 23rd, Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's former chief of staff, believes there are approximately 35,000 people around the world secretly imprisoned by the United States and that only 5% of those prisoners "might" have something to do with terrorism. Obviously there's a lot of verification and fact checking required to support those statements, but I'm (unsurprisingly) inclined to believe them. Last month the AP reported there were at least 14,000 secret prisoners out there... so it's not terribly farfetched.

Finally, I had the pleasure of touring artist Alex Grey's gallery called the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors. For only $5 one can wander around take in his (generally) enormous and incredibly detailed "visionary" paintings. I recommend taking a look.


reggae update

Heads up to those of you in the New York City area: Thrillamatic Sound System will be spinning vintage and roots reggae at the Southpaw Down South Lounge on Thursday 10/26 starting at 10PM. This man is good, people. Very good.

I, myself, cannot go as I have a class on Thursday nights... it's been a shame lately that a whole bunch of good shows and friends' bands' performances have been on Thursdays. I'm missing out.


roll camera

Last night my friends Cristian and Farid and I started shooting some footage for our short film Night Grinders. I was pleasantly surprised by the complete lack of hassle given us by the police/MTA/whoever on the Staten Island Ferry, because I had assumed we'd be told not to shoot any video. All of this stuff will be available to use as transitional devices or establishing shots in the movie and we got a few cool things. Our original plan was to get some sunrise shots on Sunday morning, but we decided to put that off. I haven't seen any of the footage yet, but it's all night exteriors so everything will be all wackycolored.

Today at the cat show / adoption event at Madison Square Garden I saw none other than Mr. Ricky Gervais walking around with some friends checking out the cats.

Also I took these pictures (not at the cat show):

LEGO Break 1

LEGO Breakin' 2

I would love to do a little stop motion animation thing of that LEGO man breakdancing on the record as it spins, but I doubt I could pull it off.


slave to brand loyalty

Well not really, but I do find it amusing that my digital point-and-shoot camera and my video camera are both Panasonic.

Speaking of the video camera, I spent an hour or so shooting some tests in Astoria Park. I wanted to try out the "24p Advanced" mode, which creates (supposedly) the most filmic look possible and is also the easiest way to ensure compatibility with tape-to-film (or dv-to-24p-HD). The 24pA thing is a cute trick... a clever way to pull 24 discreet frames from 60i video. They mess with the 3:2 pulldown in such a way as to allow an aware application, such as Final Cut Pro, to do away with the blended frames and provide true 24fps. I also threw the Gamma mode onto the CineLike-V setting and set the Matrix up for the "Cine" mode. All those "Cine" faux-prefixes should add up to purty pitchers, right?

Well pretty much, yeah.

After shooting I captured the 15 minutes of test footage into Final Cut Pro (using the Advanced Pulldown easy setup), then exported 24fps Quicktime movies (unnecessary step, actually... coulda used the captured clips directly) so Compressor could squeeze them down to a highish-bitrate MPEG2 file for DVD. I used Toast 7 Titanium to author the DVD and viewed it on our set-top DVD player.

To cut to the chase: the Cine gamma settings make the shadow areas slightly luminous, as if you were looking at projected flim. Soft light is this camera's forte, and the contrast added to the scene by the video has the effect of improving what seem to the eye to be flat lighting. It's fairly easy to achieve one of my favorite looks, which is a very hot rim or back light with beautiful, soft modeling on the subject's face. On the flipside, it's extremely easy to blow out the highlights and it appears that controlling contrast on the bright end is much more critical than the shadow. The settings I was using have some automatic, default Knee setting (Knee is highlight compression) and I dunno if I can fiddle with it but I'll give it a shot.

Regarding the 24fpsishness, I could see some slight stuttering when playing back the DVD but my snap analysis is that the DVD player is not doing a great job of adding in the pulldown frames on the fly... I'll need to check it on different players.
Next up will probably be some low-light tests.

Oh Studio 60, you keep dangling quality in my face. They let Timothy Busfield direct this one, which I assume was justified by it being good for his character (oh, and also he's directed a whole bunch of television). He did a completely adequate job, though fell prey to the desire to show off the set and his choreography with a very long Steadicam shot that, in its defense, allowed Nate Corddry some screen time. But I am already tired of being reminded exactly what the tension is between Matthew Perry's character and the Christian. Seriously, people... we're four episodes in and the preview for the next episode (and by the way, whoever is in charge of the previews for dramas on NBC should be axed because they ALWAYS make the show, and this was true of the West Wing as well, look about thirty times more overwrought and hackneyed than it actually is) featured the promise of yet more unearned emotional commitment to the Relationship Story. The plagiarism thing was good, but resolved in a bit too cute a manner for my taste.

Here's hoping YouTube's userbase is worth $1.6b of stock to Google.


time to get going


I have fulfilled a long-standing desire and purchased a used Panasonic AGDVX100A from a guy I've been working with for a while. Finally, tools! But to what use to put them?

My friend Jeff suggested an idea he'd been tumbling around for a while, and that is a documentary about Everything2. More specifically, a documentary about the unique and unexpected emergent social aspects of what began as a pseudo-encylopedic content management toy inhabited by writer geeks. Now that the general public is familiar and comfortable(ish) with the idea of internet-based social networking, we feel there could be serious interest in a story like this. We plan to spend a lot of the coming year traveling around the country (and possibly to other countries) interviewing people.

For my part, I'm happy to have a project that I can believe in.



Eddie Murphy, once-legendary American comedian, has finally* made his contribution to the emergent "Black Male Comedian Crossdesses as Fat Black Woman" subgenre with his new film Norbit. I imagine he will receive hearty handshakes from fellow pioneers Martin Lawrence and Tyler Perry.

Eddie's fatsuit is of the highest quality, as one would expect from a comedian of his stature.

If any of you cinema studies freshmen over at Tisch need something to write a paper on, you can guess what I'd recommend.

*Silly me, how could I forget his earlier work in the Nutty Professor movies?