For the last few days, I've been biking up north further than I have for a while. It's been
nice. Though I like biking on familiar territory, not least because I know where the bumps are,
the occasional change of scenery is nice, too.
Not that things have changed a whole lot since the last time I'd been biking up in those
parts, but there were a few differences. One thing I'd never noticed before was that
someone had been going around spray-painting "stop vandalism" on things. That seems
like an interesting pastime, but I have to wonder whether this is some new plan instituted
by the municipality or whether some noble-but-perhaps-misguided freelancer has taken to
doing it on his own initiative.
It reminds me a little of a street not so very far from here where the medians have been
landscaped and groomed and covered with free-standing signs informing all within visual
range that the posting of signs is strictly prohibited.
It's very true that the occasional "lose weight/work from home" sign can be unattractive,
but I'm not sure that having twenty times as many "posting of signs is strictly prohibited"
signs of similar attractiveness and proportion is an improvement, at least as far as my
aesthetic instincts are concerned.
But today it's raining and I'm not in a rainy-day-biking mood. I'm also enjoying what is almost
certainly a temporary lull in the latest crisis-of-the-moment in which a fine film distribution
company which has been sitting on the master tapes of a fine feature film for a few perfectly
fine months has suddenly decided that There Are Problems With The Film and that They Must
Be Corrected Immediately.
Watching movies is definitely different when you keep ending up doing it frame-by-frame in an
editing suite. Plot? Was there a plot somewhere? I may not know about that, but I could tell
you a lot about the color shift at timecode 01:21:24:18 where the telecine operator was off a
bit on adjusting the color timing during the "best light" transfer.
It's funny; in science fiction movies, Star Trek, and anything like that, all the aliens and actors
in front of the camera all speak fluent English with a reasonable grasp of contemporary American
slang. Sure makes life easier. What I wish, though, would be if I could say that about more of
the people working *behind* the camera, so many of which seem to have evolved a whole
new language that's theirs and theirs alone.
So far, on the set, I've been able to figure it all out from context. Some directors seem to have
their own technical terms and ways of describing what they want you to do that, as far as I
know, have never been used by anyone else. Maybe that's part of their style; who can say?
In the case of the Problems With The Film (mentioned above; feel free to insert a quick flashback
to four paragraphs up if you like), I've got a list from a very fine film lab of all the problems they
found with the film while giving it a thorough Quality Check. What's slowing me down in figuring
out how fixable they are (and whether or not they should be "fixed"--more about that later) is that the
technician has his own personal language for describing defects in the film that, not only have I
never encountered before, they even fail to show up in a single hit when searching on Google.
Now that's an accomplishment. It's hard to come up with a nonsense word that
nobody has ever used on a webpage or document somewhere within Google's reach these days.
Coming up with new technical terms that don't appear anywhere in Google should probably
qualify one for writing a sequel to the Voynich Manuscript.
After a bit of quality time on the phone with said tech at said fine film lab, I've come to
understand his particular take on film terminology and was, in fact, feeling charitable
enough that I removed all instances of ", you idiot" from my response to the list of
Problems Which Must Be Corrected. Not because I agreed with him--the "Problems"
that inspired the ", you idiot" addenda were all the cases where someone was talking
on a phone, intercom, or walkie-talkie and the QC tech had complained that the dialog
of the person being talked to sounded "distorted"...as if, say, that person's voice was
coming over a phone, intercom, or walkie-talkie.
Now, as a matter of policy, if they're paying for it, I'll "correct" whatever a client wants
to have "corrected," no matter how stupid I think it is...but in this case they're *not* paying
for it, so...tough. The people you hear over the phone are just going to keep sounding like
you're hearing them over the phone. But since he was nice enough to explain some of his
more obscure terminological twists, I decided to be nice enough to omit ", you idiot" from
At this point I've gone through it all and am waiting for everybody else involved to take their
time thinking it all through and then decide it's a crisis again. I have digitally
fixed mistakes in movies frame-by-frame before, but I don't enjoy it. As a general rule of
thumb, whenever someone starts to say, "we'll fix it in post" during a production, you should
just hit them with a post. If it's a post that has a "posting of signs is
strictly prohibited" sign on it, so much the better. Good, clean original material is always
better than cleaned-up junk, and the tweaks and adjustments you have to do aren't always
better than the mistakes they're supposed to fix. Kind of like the "post no signs" signs and
spray painting "stop vandalism" across the neighborhood.