Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Upcoming Production (The Bag)

thebag.gifTHE BAG is a short film in production in southern Oregon from a festival award-winning team, local to the area. THE BAG is a simple yet disturbing story of an elderly woman who has grown tired of living. The film is scheduled to go in to production in late October 2009.  THE BAG will be directed by Ray Nomoto Robison and was written by byMarlyn Mason. The film is set to star Peggy Stewart.
Robison and Mason previously teamed up on a short film, Model Rules, which has won a Grand Prize Best Screenplay Award at the 2008 Rhode Island International Film Festival and Northwest Emerging Artist "Best Short" at the 2009 Salem Film Festival.
Investors are welcome to contribute to the film, here.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Film Scheduling Workshop DVD in Progress

Sid is editing video right now. We've got a big DVD project coming out for our good friend and client over at Film Producer Tom Kane teaches a 3-day intensive film budgeting and scheduling workshop. The workshop is not just for film students, though it is a great benefit to those just starting in the industry of film and motion picture production.

Tom Kane's Film Production Workshop is also a great resource for people who work in various departments of film production, but would like to pursue the roles of Assistant Director (AD), Unit Production Manager (UPM), and/or Line Producer. Tom has years of in-the-field experience, on feature films including Taxi Driver, Kramer vs. Kramer, Prizzi's Honor, as well as producing record-breaking original cable features such as Crossfire Trail, Last Stand at Saber River, and Girl in Hyacinth Blue (filmed in Holland).

The DVD package is going to be an alternative to taking the course, and will be multi-disc set of the key points of the workshop. Included on each disc will be bonus anecdotes and '"jump-to" menus during playback, for the viewers to pause and jump to an extended scene in which Tom talks "Behind the Scenes" about real production challenges and experiences working on the pictures mentioned above. At least that is Sid's vision and goal. At the moment, Sid is still whittling down the final edges of the rough cuts from a 4-day version of the Film Production Seminar shot in Denver, CO earlier this summer.

So far the challenges have been minimal, and easily foreseeable. For instance, Sid knew that with a 4-day, 3-camera shoot, there would be a lot of media to manage. So, planning on capturing to 1TB hard drive, and then backing that one up to another HD before editing, which would itself be media managed down onto a third 1TB hard drive for final touches and MPEG-2 export. Technically, all the media would have fit onto the 1TB drive, leaving about 200 MB free, which is just a touch under the recommended 5% of free space theory (which says, leave 5% of your HD space free to act as "bonus RAM").

However, it proved to be even better to capture 1 days footage, from all 3 cameras, and edit a rough cut of that footage. Because Sid had to render what became about 4.5 hours w/ timecode and export that for he and Tom to individually review, the project created an additional 12+ GB of render files from just the first day's sequence, and then Sid was able to export a low-bitrate MPEG-2 export at about 4.2 GB more for the DVD burn. So, if all the media had been captured, with just under 5% of HD space remaining, Sid wouldn't have had the space to render and export any tests. It actually worked out, that we were able to capture and edit 1 day. Then render and export review copies, delete these render & media files, and capture the next day, and still had just enough space to do that again for the fourth and final day.

Unfortunately, the project had an early stall, because the capture drive crashed during a backup of the 2nd workshop day's capture media. Sid lost only 4 hours from 1 camera, but waited 1.5 weeks for a replacement drive before continuing on. The process continues quite nicely. There has only been 1 hour of footage that was incorrectly white balanced, and 1 camera on day 1 had to have it's light levels adjusted slightly, but the content itself is clean and the audio is solid, if just a little heavy on the low bass.

But again, Sid is just now finishing the rough chopping on Day 4, and then will media manage that down to just the good bits onto his extra HD. Then the additional visual components, animations, and audio editing can begin. By the time this thing is packaged, Sid will have gone through the course so many times, and so concisely, he might just have to teach the workshop himself. Just kidding, Tom. That's not our thing.

So stay tuned for updates on the DVD's release. Any readers who are in film or video production and feel like they could benefit from additional skills on budgeting and scheduling feature films, documentary films, or cheap indy films, would be wise to check out this workshop. Sid actually took it back in 2002. (of course we weren't gonna say that at the top ; )

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Celluloid Cheese - Inside the making of a Godzilla meets Ed Wood meets Euro-space meets Chinese Kung-fu Movie

Check out this article in the Mail Tribune from writer Chris Conrad.

Director Randy Granstrom admits "First Men on Planet 9" is his most political film to date, a piece of cinematic mayhem he describes as a post-colonial critique of Manifest Destiny in which he takes Western culture to task for exploiting native cultures and the environment in its push to dominate the New World.

All he has to do now is get the damn firecrackers to blow up the miniature spaceship so he can wrap the opening scene.

Granstrom and his small but dedicated crew are at work Wednesday night inside Land Mind Productions, a studio on South Fir Street, toiling amidst thick smoke and strobe lights to bring the right amount of realism to the crash landing that kicks off their film.

The scene involves a spaceship smashing into a miniaturized landscape — built with Granstrom's last bit of potting soil, tiny plastic trees and plaster cloth — and erupting into flame.

John Foote, executive producer and owner of Land Mind Productions, fastens fishing line to the top of the ship and dangles it over the crash zone.

The crew busts up when they see the fishing line stand out on the initial takes.

"In my grand vision I had this awesome spaceship flying in — but no," Granstrom says.

Foote was reassuring.

"If you saw the last Bruce Campbell movie, you saw more fishing line than in 'Deadliest Catch,' " he says.


The Magnum 800 fog machine floods the set, as does smoke from Granstrom's leftover fireworks. Explosions. The original plan was to tape a road flare to the end of the ship to simulate rockets, but logistics proved daunting.

The ship nosedives onto the set and plows a trench past a plastic tree, which catches fire after the firecrackers do their job.

"Don't destroy the trees," Granstrom says. "I paid $8.99 for those."

Camera operator and "Planet 9" actor Levi Anderson, moving from one end of the set to the other via wheelchair, captures the chaos on a small digital camera.

Afterward, the crew gathers around the camera to review the footage. They love it.

Read the whole article here.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Babysitter Wanted in Limited Release

Babysitter Wanted Film PosterHOLLYWOOD, CA--(Marketwire - January 29, 2009 ) - Big Screen Entertainment Group (BSEG ) is very excited to announce that "Babysitter Wanted" will open at Coming Attraction Theaters in the Pacific Northwest at Mt. Shasta Theaters , Movie 6 Grant's Pass , Pelican 10 - Klamath Falls . The film will roll out to more theaters over the next several weeks.

The company has also reached an exclusive deal to provide Premium On Demand subscribers of Dish Network, the film "Babysitter Wanted." Dish Network will put the film into over 20 million homes.

"Babysitter Wanted" has garnered tremendous critical acclaim. The film is being featured in this month's Fangoria magazine in a four-page spread with the new movie "Friday the 13th" on the cover.

The stars of "Babysitter Wanted" are receiving attention for their other projects as well, including Matt Dallas, (3rd season of ABC's "Kyle XY"), Nana Visitor (The new "Friday the 13th"), Bill Moseley (Lionsgate's "Repo - the Genetic Opera") and Sarah Thompson who had two films at the recent Sundance Film festival alongside Ethan Hawke and Richard Gere in "Brooklyn's Finest" and with Kevin Bacon in HBO's "Taking Chance."

"Babysitter Wanted" was filmed in Mt. Shasta, Yreka, Weed and Montague, California.

To check out "Babysitter Wanted" trailers go to:

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

iTunes DRM Free, but Still Tracking You

Although iTunes Plus files feature no copy protection, files downloaded still contain the email address you have registered with iTunes. So although files can physically be shared with, and played by, friends and family, any of your purchases that end up on file-sharing networks, for example, can be traced back to you.

If you're interested in an easy way to check your own files, find an iTunes Plus file on your computer. Then choose to open it with a text editor (Windows Notepad works fine). It'll take a while to open and will appear to be full of nonsense text, but if you choose the 'Find' option and type in the email address you have registered with the iTunes Store, you'll find that your DRM-free music is not personal information-free.

Ah ha! Still tracking you, wherever you go, even through their new iTunes Plus tracks.  Sid actually played some comparisons last night while downloading some music from eMusic and iTunes.  Sometimes Sid can't find the tracks he really wants on eMusic so he'll take a peek in iTunes, which has amassed quite the collection now.  It used to be hard to find the obscure or underground hits, but now iTunes is ruling the music distribution world. However, eMusic has a billing system similar to NetFlix with their low monthly charges to download just as much as you think you'll use. In fact, often on eMusic, Sid will always get the tracks that are 6 min. or longer, but for albums like Beat Konducta Vols. 1 - 6, full of 1 - 3 min. tracks, it is about the same price to grab the whole 28+ track album for $9.99 at iTunes, as it is by track at eMusic.  

But, the point here is Sid couldn't find "Calypso Blues" by Nat King Cole on eMusic, so went to iTunes to check it out and found (3) different versions - all in this new iTunes Plus (AAC+) format.  Sid went with the track from "The Nat King Cole Story" album. It was longer by about 30 sec. and had more life than the other recordings.

Wa ooo wa ooo oo wa oo wa oo wa oo whyyyy... me throat she sick from necktie, me feet she hurt from shoes, me pocket full of empty - I got calypso blues.

- Nat King Cole

Sid also grabbed "I'd Love to Change the World" by Ten Years After on iTunes when he couldn't find it on eMusic.  But then he stumbled upon some new Black Crowes.  A review by moose56 claimed "It's official. There's two great rock n roll bands left, Pearl Jam and the Black Crowes."  Sid humbly nods his head.  Point well made.  Too bad Pearl Jam will tour almost any country worldwide except the U.S. these days. 

So, The Black Crowes have a live album called "Freak 'N' Rool... Into the Fog," from 2006, available on both eMusic and iTunes. And since noticing the iTunes Plus status of the "Calypso Blues" track, Sid gave a sample listen to each version - the .mp3 on eMusic and the AAC+ on iTunes.  At first, it was a clear win from preview mode. With iTunes, it seems you get to preview the actual AAC file, whereas the previews on eMusic aren't the quality you get when you download. At least if felt that way. It is great how eMusic will let you preview a whole album through with one click on their flash player, whereas iTunes only lets you preview one track at a time, but the previews are often quite flat and unappealing, where iTunes shows off with dynamic, clear, and hard-hitting previews.

But after downloading a full .mp3 of "Jealous Again" and then grabbing the same track via the AAC+ from iTunes, Sid tried a real comparison.  Now, mind you, this experiment utilized a limited stereo system and has not been conducted with any Dolby 7.1+ Cerwin Vega home theater setups, and simply runs through an old Altec Lansing stereo speakers w/ subwoofer setup that Sid's had since the college dorms in '98-'99.  Judging from the output on these prized antiques, both versions of the track hit equally hard.  Sid wants to think there might be a little more clarity from the AAC+, but it's not enough to avoid the following conclusion:

Sid still likes .mp3 as his preferred audio file format.  They play standard on all Digital Media Players, in most automotive CD players and settop DVD players, and you can rip around 10-12 albums to one disc for like 8 cents and store your entire music collection for a fraction the cost of an iPod.  And the eMusic billing structure makes their truely DRM-free tracks more affordable overall for the frequent downloader.  Sid used to suggest that iTunes lower their track prices to a much friendlier 29-39 cent range, but after the supreme tanking of the U.S. dollar, soon to be additionally inflated by all the Government and Federal Reserve Bailouts, this 99 cents a track is probably already close to 19 cents in circa 2000 currency.

Although, not to discount iTunes, the new AAC+ tracks are more media friendly than previous iTunes formats. This will open your iTunes downloads to the Zune, Zen, and more creatively named media players.  So that's good.