Monday, August 30, 2010

Mini-Indi, I want residuals!

I came up with this term the other day and I think I'm the first. It's hard to tell but if I am and it catches on I want residuals...

I started using it because there is a whole class of films that have no name. You have major films with budgets in the $100 mil + category. And what Hollywood calls ow budget (under $30 mil. Then there are the "Indi's" at somewhere from say $3 mil to $40-$50 mil. And then you have "no-budget" films, that all have some budget but generally not enough to pay people.
But in between there are a LOT of films being made. They have a budget usually in the $30K to $150K range and occasionally get close to "Indi" range. They are not student films (usually), they are by folks who have some experience (often) and are designed to be potentially commercial. The idea generally is to use it as a calling card. Some are shorts and some are features but the thing they have over most "no budget" films is that they have a focus on quality. Now all to often that focus is way off, they usually don't have "enough" experience to aim correctly. But the idea is to produce a professional film that would not be embarrassing if shown to a paying audience (that is not relatives and friends and crew).

The technology has come down in price and made it possible to make a film that looks great on a big screen for a small fraction of what it took to make a crappy looking/ sounding 16mm film. For all you 16mm fans, 16mm can look good but not when blown up to a full sized movie theatre screen. And it always sounds crappy. Mono, non noise reduced optical track. It's noisy has very limited range and no bass.

Back to the point.
Indi's are usually shot on 35mm, now probably more are shot on RED cameras. Either way your looking at $30K+ of camera and a lot of support gear. Mini-Indi's were born in HD video, one could argue the case for DVX-100's really being the start. But are growing up with HDSLR cameras.

My guess is that it is THE growth area in filmmaking. And what is great is that these cameras force the filmmaker to work in the traditional way. Shorter takes, double system sound, etc. Their fantastic low light capabilities means you can save a fortune in lighting and the fact that they use high quality 35mm lenses and have about the same frame size as a 35mm film means that all the creativity with focus and framing that you didn't have with "video" cameras is at your disposal.

You can make an excellent film that CAN look really good on a big screen. Of course it takes more than a camera to make a great movie, but it's a start. And because of the quality of the shots other weak areas are more apparent. I've already seen a general improvement if films coming through. The weakness of video, for narrative films, was it's strength for doc's. It was dead easy to pick one up and "just shoot". You have to think about what your shooting and how much more with HDSLR cameras and making the director think before "action" is a good thing.

So long live the Mini-Indi.

And when Sundance makes it a category I want a check!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Nobody - and life... If it's a game, we won.

Nice title but what does it mean? Well NOBODY is the title of the new Doobie Brothers album and life is what it makes me think about. I should say right off the bat that I really like this album.

Why the Doobies and life well hard to say. They have been around a long time and the insights are just as fresh as they ever were. They are older and of course experience influences, but I'm older also and I like to think a bit wiser. May be not but at least more experienced. The one thing I have noticed is that there are people who lift you up and those that bring you down.

Warning politics!!! It's not a Red or Blue thing but GW was a bringer downer. It was all about paranoia and "us VS them". Whether you liked him or not it was not a philosophy that up lifted. You know the people, you have met them, worked for them, god forbid, been attached to them. They are just down, down, down. But lets face it if we really felt that down on life we wouldn't get up in the morning. There is the other side the "yes there are problems, how do we fix this?". I think it is what got Obama elected, it's basically what he campaigned on.

So how does this connect to an album by "rock stars" from the 80's? Well they are most certainly "lift you up" people and the album reflects this. It's not a ignore it and it will go away album its a "yes there are issues, but do what you can" philosophy. If you can look your self in the mirror and say you have done more good than bad your on the right side. I know that seems like a low bar, but really think about it. It's not really that low a bar. If you are a totally ethical always do "right" person your probably not that far over the bar. It's hard to not do bad to someone. All you can really do is what you think is right and what you believe in. Ironically this is a very old thought, "to thyn ownself be true", but how many live it every day? Probably nobody, but you can try. This is only my interpretation so I'm not speaking for anybody but myself but I have generally figured that if you can manage to stay on the positive your doing good.

I'm getting philosophical... With the economy what it is it's easy to get into the $$$ is all that counts. And certainly it's harder to get and getting a lot bigger part of everyones life. BUT if that is what you get up for every day, stay in bed. You HAVE to get up for more than money. I was told recently on finishing a project "now you can get a check". Well yes that is true and an important factor in keeping a roof over ones head BUT that is not the #1 reason I did the gig. If you are doing art just for the check your not doing art. I don't think everyone gets this.

So how does this get back to the Doobies?

Well they have plenty of green. So yes they get paid nicely for what they do but they don't do it for the $$$ They could probably make as much with a LOT less effort investing in those things you can only invest in with stacks of green. The point is that touring is hard work. You stay in nicer hotels if your a name but it IS A HARD living. So I appreciate that they are still putting out art and it's a lifting up art and I feel like going out and doing good!

Guess I'm just trying to win the game ;~)

Buy the album, you'll get the reference.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sounds on the WEB

I get asked a lot about where to get sound FX. There are a bunch of places on the web some are free like Free Sound and others are commercial like Sound Dogs.

I just discovered a really nice site Hiss And A Roar that is a little of both. These are the kinds of sounds most people who don't work on films with budgets never get to use. These are recorded by a pro for his use and he also is making them available to the public. This is the kind of foundation sounds that get used all the time to "layer up" tracks in the post world. And are the building blocks if your "designing" sounds for something. You won't find a few thousand cuts of vegetables being tortured in Sound Ideas libraries because folks would ask "why would I need that?". I on the other hand start looking for my check book. I have recorded a fair amount of vegetable violence but it's really messy so one usually limits the amount you do because of the amount of cleanup afterword. So it's great to be able to get it with out the mess. You won't find any "Dinosaur Roars" or "Car Crashes" or other silly stuff.

Right now he has four collections, Fireworks, Seal Vocals, whooshes, and vegetable mutilation. They are sold at higher sample rates and lower sample rates. The lower sample rates generally have fewer sounds. The prices range from $49 down to free. There is a also a $99 version of the Fireworks with multiple tracks and positions of the same sounds and at 196/24. But you can get a sampler of each collection that is free and it's at 44.1/16 not some wanky MP3 file. I downloaded all the free ones and will be upgrading as the budget allows.

Friday, August 13, 2010

UPS - Not for a shipper fo the rest of us

I had an interesting distraction today, and a greatly disappointing exchange with UPS.

A little app I use fairly often for shipping things and general mail functions sendIT abandoned UPS support. THe reason was UPS refused to let them include UPS. The "take down" letter from UPS

"UPS has reviewed your application and has made the decision not to provide you access to our tools at this time.

The UPS Developer Kit is designed primarily for end-user customers to utilize when creating their own customized UPS shipping solutions. As such, we do not allow the use of our technology in multi-carrier and/or rate-shopping applications.

UPS is very selective about the companies we authorize to use our technology, as we view them as an extension of our brand. Therefore, we screen applicants and seek to understand both their business model, and how UPS will be represented in their applications/platforms, as well as attempt to gauge the sustainability/customer support capabilities of the company in question.

Thank you again for your interest in the Program.


UPS Ready(r) Program Management"

Makes it pretty obvious they are not going to allow third party integration in shipping apps that supported more than one shipper.

I was a bit pissed so I wrote UPS and they politely said they support third party integration and I must have misunderstood.

I replied that they had quite clearly said that they did not want third party integration IF other shippers were also available in the same app.

They said "Where did we say that?".

I quoted the letter and they replied that just because sendIT didn't meet their requirements did not mean they didn't support integration and gave me a link to a site that had all their "approved" applications. For the Mac there was one app from some company. It only supports UPS (unless you make your own shipping app in Filemaker and use their UPS integration to add UPS support) and it's $20 - $40 PER month.

The "requirements" seem to be that you are a large company that can write your own software. Ironically I probably could write a FM app to do the shipping. But I BOUGHT an app so I wouldn't have to.


My point was that for a small business, at a minimum you are going regularly use the mail and probably at least one shipper.

I find it offensive that they don't want me "rate shopping" when you know damn well they "rate shop" on everything they buy.

Who does this hurt? Well it doesn't hurt the mega corps, they can make their own shipping app and "rate shop" all they want. It hurts the small business who is forced into online hell to use UPS, or pay a monthly service charge.

Their guy says "all the shippers do this", no I didn't ask the "just because everyone else was jumping off a bridge..." question.

But it has soured me on using UPS and that bums me out because I pretty much like the service. The tracking is better than USPS and the rates are better than FedEx. Plus FedEx also has a cumbersome and buggy (last I used anyway) web interface. The reason I bought sendIT in the first place is so I could have something that integrated with the address book and billing etc. And it works great.

But if you want to change the world you have to do what you can do. What I can do is not use UPS when I can use USPS instead.

If your bottom line isn't in seven digits then maybe you also might move a pebble and just say no to UPS.

I'm not an extremist. I will certainly use UPS again, but not if I can use USPS or ???

If enough pebbles get shifted you can change a mountain and who knows maybe UPS will decide that the small people are worth working with again.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Doobie, Doobie, Do

Just finished posting and mixing a short film that will be included with the new Doobie Brothers Album. Another really good film from Daron Ker (Water Buffalo Pictures). Now this is FUN. Even Monty (the sound dog) wanted to hangout and listen. And no, I'm not posting samples! Go buy the album.

Sometimes this gig is a grind and sometimes I have to laugh that I get to do this for a living ;~)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Boom Recorder is BACK!

In a world where your favorite tools get abandoned and you have to learn new ones, that often don't work as well, I am incredibly happy to discover that Boom Recorder is back, tanned, rested and ready for action.

Take Vos, the genius programmer behind BoomRecorder got persuaded to update and put it back on the market by the user base, and all those folks we kept recommending BR too.

It's been updated and works with Snow Leopard, so I can finally update my laptop!.

I'm not going to do a big review, there are plenty out there. Go to the site and get a copy.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010