Construction Time Again

Well, back to editing. I've been putting together more and more of the short we shot. It has taken me a lot longer than anticipated with moving house, work, and everything else in between (that, and fixing the computer problems... I'm still waiting for the Corsair guy to stop trying to debug my system and just give me a goddamn RMA number so I can ship the bad stick back to him... still, can't blame the guy too much - he's just doing his job).

So it's all coming together now. Getting the right export settings from Premiere Pro is a bit of a pain, but I'm finally starting to understand After Effects and its slightly clunky UI. (One thing I'd really like to be able to do is create a matte on the fly over the top of the footage I'm compositing into, and see the result at the same time - either in a preview window, or on the image itself - maybe something like the Photoshop Mask tool, with its slightly pinkish hue to indicate what's showing through where. That, and being able to zoom in on the image and scroll around it would be nice - at least that way I could do fine detail work using the mouse).

One rough cut coming right up. I'm over halfway through the film now. The scene that pushes our homeless guy over the edge, and the final scene that comes after it are all that are left to put together. Alas, I managed to misplace my firewire cable in the move, so I need to go out and get a new one to capture the last of the footage to my system.

I'm also discovering that video formats really need some standardization. It should be possible for me to input my source material, output it to the DVD creator and burn it to a DVD without worrying about what format it ends up in. All I should have to say is "This project is for 24 frames a second" or "This project is 60 fps interlaced" and everything should automagically make it so.

(Yes, I know, it's not all that simple... and some people will need finer control over the elements and how they're conformed to the specified video settings... but still, I can dream, can't I?)

On the plus side, I finally got my compositing done on one of two sfx shots in the piece. I also added in a possibly completely overkill hamming-it-up lens-flare style "starburst" effect to one of them... that may need to be cut out. Might want something a bit more subtle in there.

So, it's getting there at least. I just wish we'd recorded clean audio... as it stands, I can't use any of it, so it's either going to be a huge job foleying the audio back in, or we'll just go with a purely instrumental soundtrack. Sheesh.

New rule: always capture clean audio, even if everyone is saying "we won't need it!" unless the people saying "we won't need it" are seasoned professionals with years of experience under their belts. Well, that and have confidence enough to tell people when you think they're smoking crack - before it's too late.

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Sleep and Relaxation make you work better...

Who'da thunk it?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,1297824,00.html

Apparently, getting enough rest, and not spending all your time working actually makes you more productive at work.

I sometimes wonder if the US isn't just working itself into an early grave. There are times when I miss England - mainly, whenever I think about vacations. Two weeks a year is kind of pathetic. Especially if the place you work for doesn't let you roll over vacation time, so the fact that you took only half of your vacation time over the first two years you worked somewhere doesn't automatically mean that they'll let you use that time later.

Still, at least I have two "floating holiday" days left this year. And if I need to, I'll just take some time off without pay to visit my folks back home while they're still around.

It's sad really... I never realized how much I'd miss my Dad if he was gone until I ended up living somewhere where the most often I can get home is every 4 years or so, just because of the travel time and jet lag.

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I am the moon...

Apparently, I’m the Moon. (My sister’s blog shows that she is The Devil… which is highly appropriate knowing her… so I thought I’d give this “Which tarot card are you?” online quiz a go and compare notes).

The Moon

![The Moon](/images/themoon.jpg =200x320)

You are the Moon card. Entering the Moon we enter the intuitive and psychic realms. This is the stuff dreams are made of. And like dreams the imagery we find here may inspire us or torment us.

Understanding the moon requires looking within. Our own bodily rhythms are echoed in this luminary that circles the earth every month and reflects the sun in its progress.. Listening to those rhythms may produce visions and lead you towards insight.

The Moon is a force that has legends attached to it. It carries with it both romance and insanity.

Moonlight reveals itself as an illusion and it is only those willing to work with the force of dreams that are able to withstand this reflective light.

Image from: Stevee Postman.

(The link to the quiz site which generated this which used to be here is no longer working - the site no longers exists.)

So now I’m beloved of Spongmonkeys everywhere. Woohoo!

(Note: I’m not a believer in random pseudo stuff like Tarot cards, but it’s fun at parties to get read by people)

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Living Close to the Bleeding Edge...

A short while ago, I decided that it was time to update my desktop system. I'd been using it less and less, having bought myself a Toshiba M205 Tablet PC in January... but then, we finished shooting The Good Samaritan, and it was time to edit it.

At which point, I discovered to my absolute horror that my 1.4GHz Athlon system just wouldn't cut it - because it didn't support the SSE2 instructions necessary to run the newest versions of Adobe Premiere - which also were the only versions which supported the 24P DV footage we were capturing using Miah Hundley's Panasonic camera.

(Miah, by the way, is really cool. I sincerely think that he's going to go very very far in his movie making career - certainly, if I were a betting man and the choices were me or him making it in Hollywood, I'd bet on him first)

Of course, because I still want to edit this film, I decided that... well... screw it. It's time to use those high credit card limits for what they're intended and upgrade the systems. At the same time, I went ahead and bought the full version of Adobe Premiere Video Collection Pro. Very cool - comes with Photoshop, Premiere Pro, Encore DVD, Audition and After Effects Pro. Basically, everything I'll ever need until I start shooting on actual real celluloid film and end up needing to Avid systems to do the editing.

To have a system to run it on, it was time to update my hardware. I already had 2x80Gb drives, a 40Gb drive, DVD+R burner, DVD reader, 2x512mb sticks of PC2100 RAM, and a firewire editor card. At the very least, I'd need a Pentium 4, so I went out to Fry's and went on a spending spree.

I walked out with a Pentium 4 3.2GHz CPU, a P4C800 Asus motherboard, 2x512Mb ultra low latency DDR Ram sticks, and two 250Gb 7200RPM Western Digital hard drives. (They ended up in a spanning RAID array for high speed access, so now I have over 1/2 a terabyte of space on my machine. This figure is mindblowing.... and I'd never have dreamed of having so much just a couple of years ago).

Well, the system was a little unstable. I've gotten about 3/4 of the editing done so far, but kept running into crashes, glitches, hangs and bluescreens. So I decided to start playing with this system to find out what was going wrong.

Ends up that it's a memory stick. What's amusing is that memory sticks have heatsinks on them now, they're being run so fast and hard. Only one of them is having a problem - the other is fine.

I remember when memory was really really stable. Chips which didn't function correctly used to be pretty rare. And these days, features are getting so small on memory chips that you're pretty damn lucky not to get memory corruption just from normal everyday background radiation which flies around all the time - and there's nothing you can do about it.

I think the next memory I buy will be error-correcting. We're riding very close to the edge, it seems. Expect things to be... flaky for a while. Unless we can figure out a new way of handling memory, that is. Maybe integrate it with the CPUs on a massively multi-layer 3D cpu die. Might even be lower power too.

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Farscape: Peacekeeper War Trailer Goes Online On Wednesday

Farscape - possibly the best science fiction show ever made (and I mean ever!) is coming back this fall with a brand new miniseries.

This is going to be big. This is going to be huge. Tell your friends. It's so big, that it's going to be on the Apple Movie Trailer site.

Tell your friends. Watch the trailer. Watch the show. If you've got Netflix, try getting a hold of some Farscape DVDs. If you don't? They'll be re-running the entire first 4 seasons of Farscape on the SciFi channel in October.

Patience is a virtue.

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