Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I'm in love

Oh my god... I just saw the most beautiful woman in the history of all that is or ever shall be... Her name's Shoshanna and she's a singer from Michigan. She's absolutely gorgeous and has the voice of an angel... in fact, I'd say she has the most beautiful voice I've ever heard. Kind of like if a flock of turtle-doves and a choir of angels got mushed up together in a blender...

anyway, check her out -

I swear, one day, that lady will fall in love with me and I'll make a movie or something about it.


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Please be upstanding...

In a last ditch attempt to get some sort of 'exercise' into my life, I have followed the examples of some dude on the Monsters Inc extras DVD and someone whose office I saw at the ABC last week and have changed my working space based around standing at my desk.

I have my laptop opened to 180 degrees and propped up, a new keyboard in front of it and everything on a chest of drawers so it all sits around waist height. Day one of the experiment went well, with a few twinges from my nearly repaired left medial ligament, but nothing serious. True, I only spent half a day standing, before going to the library and a more traditional desk arrangement, but you've got to build up to these things, especially since I've done almost no physical exercise since tearing up my knee in January*.

Day two is progressing ok, with my core muscles screaming out for a bar stool, but on the whole, I think I'll be able to keep it up for the day.

As a lifelong nerd who spends godawful amounts of time in front of my computer, I think it's a plan that will at worst bring me a little short term leg muscle building and at best be a generally healthier way to use these infernal machines without screwing my spine. I'll definitely keep everyone updated on this one with daily blog posts, no excuses, 2:45pm daily updates...

See you in a few months then :)

* ok, I haven't done any physical exercise since that one time back in 2002, but hey..

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Combustion + Premiere

A match made in... well, some place where a crude pidgin is spoken and the inhabitants, while all being kind of the same shape, are nonetheless wildly different in their outlook on the world.

Hmm... did I just compare digital film post production to being some kind of Dutch East India Company Trader doing business with the natives of some exotic land? Is there no subject into which I cannot inject some form of oblique reference to pirates, or at the very least, the world of their romanticised heyday?

No, there is not.

Anyhow, what I'm actually here to talk about is doing low budget digi film making, and specifically how not to lose quality as you export your DV footage from Premiere, import it into Combustion, then out of Combustion, back into Premiere, then out again to your DVD authoring tools.

I've been doing some stuff on this for the last few months, and I was losing colour depth at every step of the way it seemed, so by the time I got to watching a DVD, any shot I'd done any sort of vfx work on (down to colour grading) stuck out like a sore thumb.

I tried different codecs, I tried changing the 3:2 pulldown modes, I tried switching the upper and lower fields' firstness... everything looked just not quite right.

The solution? (or at least - my currently workable solution - I'm sure there's a real, correct way, but I'm a self-taught compositor/grader, so bear with me) is this:

Use TGA's.

It's actually been that simple for me - exporting from Premiere as a sequence of TGA files, then importing and exporting from Combustion as the same (I use 32-bit even though at those stages, I'm not actually screwing around with alpha) then finally re-importing into Premiere, I don't lose/change the colour quality I'm after, and the shots look infinitely better.

There are size issues - a shot exported this way seems to be a little bigger than a DV file, but it's not huge, and hell - if you're dealing with digital video, you'll have enough storage/bandwidth to deal with it!

I hope this helps anyone who's been bashing their head against a similar problem, and if there's anyone reading this who can tell me the correct method for doing this stuff, I would be most pleased to learn how.

At this stage, it's very rudimentary, and the footage on show doesn't have the benefit of being put through any of the above described process, but this is what all this is heading towards:

The Course!

Neeeeeaaaarly finished!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Blast from the Past

Inspired title eh?

Apparently, once upon a time, long before man had crawled out of the swamps and invented the electric toothbrush, the government used to run, well, anything that actually needed running. Post Offices, Roads, Education, Telecommunications, the Arts... that kind of gumpf. If it was expensive, but necessary, they made sure it got done.

Now it appears one of our partial government departments has decided to return the heady days of yore and go into the 'business' of taking physcical items from one location and getting them into the hands of, that's right - you guessed it - citizens at home. And who might be making these bold moves? Why - our very own one third owned Telstra -bless 'em. What more do I need from my national telecommunication provider than a damn dvd I should be able to download in a fraction the time it takes them to stick it in the damn post*?

I know, I know, this is old news, and in a moment I'm going to go over the 'economic rationalism' of selling off Telstra in print in the hopes that the stupidity of it stops kicking around in my head after all these years.

So instead of doing something useful with my tax dollar and two dollars of some stock market gambler, like, oh, I don't know - laying enough cable so that people in the bush can A) not pay $100+ a month for blistering 256k 'broadband' and B) maybe make a phone call to a flying doctor or two when one of their relatives is dying - the powers that be have decided that it makes sense for Telstra to become an entertainment content provider. What gives? Well many things, but I discovered something the other day that points to that old saying: "Never ascribe to malice what you can put down to incompetance"

They're just plain stupid.**

So, there's this dude. Greg Winn they call him. According to this article on ZDnet he is "considered Telstra's second-in-charge and oversees most of the carrier's big product decisions."

Fine. All well and good. I'm sure he's got an MBA*** so he must be suitable to run a company, er, semi-former government department. So what pearls of wisdom does Mr Winn have to share with us about Apple's new iPhone?

"You can pretty much be assured that Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and ZTE and others will be coming out with devices that have similar functionality."
"Will be coming out with..." Will be? Ok, so, I'll forgive the guy for not being a Mac tragic and not watching the keynote address where the iPhone was announced, but please - Steve Jobs said it himself - all these other so-called 'smart' phones have this functionality already. They're not going to follow Apple's lead by putting web browsing on a phone because they simply don't need to - they already do it. All Apple have done is create a phone that people will actually be able to USE these existing functions on.

If the 2IC of our national carrier doesn't even know about the current state of the industry, how the hell can he help lead it into the future?

Ok, enough ranting from me. But before I go, let's throw some numbers around, with regards to 'making money by selling Telstra'

Let's say, pre-sale, Telstra was a fantastically elaborate work-for-the dole scheme, that employed a lot of people, and made approximately three billion dollars a year and just about kept to its mandate of allowing all the people who live in our country to talk to each other. Let's say that you wanted to sell it off - to make more money. So you ask for fifteen billion dollars. Wow - that's a lot of money! Great. So, after a year, you're ahead - even after two or three. But, wait - six years have passed (and because someone somewhere hates us all, that same government is still in power) and now we get no more money from them. For ever. How on earth does that make sense? If someone can tell me how, I'm actually quite curious to know.


* I should say at this point, I do love Australia Post - sure, they're not the fastest in the world, but for some reason I actually really enjoy going into post offices - I actually had to post something to Beverly Hills - that's 90210 - the other week, and damn did it feel good!

** I would have also accepted 'uninformed' or 'They just plain don't give a flying rat's monkey'

*** I'm sure it's like lawyers with this bunch - the 99% giving that 1% the bad name. Ok, to be fair, people I've met with MBAs have all been fine. MBA students, particularly the ones I sold books to over 5 years, can all go to hell

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Argh, or, How I learned to keep motivated when at my wits' end.

Ok, doubtful placements of apostrophes in the title aside, and inspired by jim's new blog, I have decided to resurrect this old blog thing and start griping again. Actually, this isn't so much a post as a query of my loyal readership (who I am sure have all moved on to bigger and better blogs by now, but be that as it may be)

How the hell do you keep yourself motivated to do stuff that should be fun, but has long since lost all its enchantment?

You know how it is, you start a project - it's new, it's cool, and you love every aspect of it. You work hard, and then you work harder - it's going gangbusters and you're loving every sleep deprived minute of it. Then time moves on. The project continues. People's roles in it finish, and they move on to other things, and there's still a million things to do. So you do them - gotta get it finished - and then there's more things to do, then more, then more, plus you're getting committments on other projects - more fun things, more pressing things... technical issues are getting in the way of doing what you set out to do, and you seem to spend more time fighting them than creating your vision...

I often wonder if really amazing creations, like Jaws or the Sistene Chapel roof went through such periods of slog, and assuming that they did (which I hope is an accurate assumption) - how the hell did Steven Spielberg and Michelangelo keep themselves going through the perspiration times.

By my nature, I am disorganised and am a creature of the start of projects - ideas are fun and easy to bounce around and play with. But an idea without completion is worth nothing and I sure as hell don't want to be the proud producer of a whole lot of nothing. So, I'm trying to improve my completion outlook and decrease my procrastination coefficient. I have only two methods that I can really point to as successful ones.

The first I stumbled upon by happy chance, and that is to work with two other people. If you're working on something day in, day out, it actually takes three to keep everyone motivated. It's easy for two people to get sidetracked and for heaps of not work to get done. I don't know what the upper limit on this is, but I'd imagine it wouldn't be that large a number - probably less than a dozen working on a single part of a project. This technique seems to work pretty well, as evidenced in Exhibit A.

The second is to set a deadline. This has been imparted to me by many people. Some call it 'goal setting,' others don't. Basically it boils down to the old saying "If it weren't for the last minute, nothing would get done." Unfortunately, the nature of some of my projects is to not actually have last minutes, so you have to artificially create them, or find them somewhere. This can be difficult.

Deadlines, working with other people, cups of tea and updating your blog... no, wait... that last one doesn't help. Damn!

So... if anyone has any ideas on how to get yourself re- re- re- re- re- re- re- re-motivated, let me know!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Fifthlist is here!

That little list above is coming straight from my account over on, the latest and greatest web service from the people who brought you and pretty much any aussie band site worth mentioning in the last decade.

Head on over, grab yourself and account and start putting your lists in your blogs/myspace things and google homepages!

Nice work Harman!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

in ol' melbourne town

Hi all who still remember this thing's here (it seems I'd forgotten until just recently)

I'm back in melbourne to do the edit and composite/vfx work on our film. It's just like catching up with old friends, seeing all the brilliant performances from everyone in the cast and remembering all the good times on set... ahh, the party scene...

anyhow, more on the wonders of low budget filmmaking later, this post is mainly to link to a couple of blogs that need mentioning...

First up, we have Rockran's new blog of his Japanese adventures, which can be found here: RockranRollTokyo

Then we have cuzz'n Piptoi's gestation blogation... well, I'm not sure really... I'll post that one a bit later when I've worked out where it is!

and finally we have Save The Austin! Dad's blog of the restoration of his 1929 Baby Austin 7 in time for me big sister's wedding. Go Dutti Go!

join us next time, when we'll discuss how to solve cutting room arguments between the director, writer and editor ;)