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October, 2005
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birthday cake

because ... well ... why not ...?

it's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it.

Friday, October 28th


I Don't Know Where I Begin:

A couple years back, Tane' McClure was telling me the story of the time she was on a shoot in India and, after she'd gotten settled in her hotel, she pulled back the curtains in her hotel room to discover that she had a perfect view of a billboard...with her picture on it, advertising a previous film.

That's got to be a good way to start out a visit to a foreign land. The closest I've gotten to that was the time I went to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and discovered that I was on all the posters and signs there. There were even some big ones, but nothing billboard-sized.

That, and the time a friend of mine went to Europe and happened to stop by an office where, printed out and pinned to the cubicle walls, were some of my pages from The Unnatural Enquirer

At this year's American Film Market, I'll be on posters displayed at two offices besides my own. With about three hundred sellers (including me) this year, that means I'll be featured in a whopping 1% of them.

Somehow, it doesn't sound real impressive when put that way, but it's a start. Everybody's got to start somewhere.

here's looking at you

I've got lots of posters to lay out and print up for my own office. This year I'd gotten an HP 9650 wide-format photo printer and, let me tell you, it's the most annoying printer I've fought with in decades. When it works, however, the print quality is useable.

It's also the most expensive printer I've used in decades. HP ink cartridges are the most expensive ones out there and, though the remanufactured ones I'd ordered by mail-order were slightly cheaper, they would only last through about four 13-by-19 prints per cartidge. I barely made it through a package of twenty sheets of super-B format (13x19) glossy photo paper on the five ink cartridges I'd bought for it, and that only gave me a dozen useable posters because eight got screwed up by the printer misbehaving.

That's an expensive way to make posters. I'm not sure how much Kinko's charges for these types of things, but if I had to do a bunch more of them, it'd be cheaper to buy a Kinko's franchise.

Another way to think of it is that the cartridges have 17ml of ink in them...and cost $35 in the stores. For the price of a soda bottle filled with HP-brand ink, you could buy the 37" LCD high-def TV I bought for the market *and* the video computer I built to drive it. Plus the HDMI cables. Plus some DVDs to play on it. Plus a two liter bottle of soda in any flavor besides "ink." Twice. (Yes, the whole kit-and-kaboodle, two times over.)

Good-O Diet Kola Champagne Soda

Good-O Diet Kola
Champagne Soda
(not ink flavor)
Syntax Olevia LT37HVE LCD TV

Syntax Olevia 37" LCD TV
model LT37HVE
Squid: The Definitive Guide


I think I'll just get a non-HP printer after the market. That, or train a team of enthusiastic squid to squirt ink appropriately. I figure I'll need at least six squid, since--as far as I know--any one squid is limited to just a single color of ink at a time.

I'm not sure what size squid I'll need to handle the large-format photo paper. And how well does glossy photo paper stand up to being immersed in salt water? Or will I have to get it in satin or matte finish instead?

Friday, October 21st


Fire, Indeed:

Besides the usual libraries of royalty-free graphics, music, and sound effects, I've got a small collection of video libraries, notably the Pyromania series from Visual Concepts Entertainment, which is pretty much the industry standard source for all your post-production fire and explosion needs.

I've used clips when editing trailers, movies, and DVD menus and I've ended up using the individual frames in a lot of graphic design projects, even though the resolution is a bit lower than ideal. It's more convenient--though generally not nearly as satisfying--as going outside and blowing something up every time you need a particular explosion sequence or graphical element.

American Film Market 2005 advertising

So once again, I end up browsing through all the video frames in search of that perfect design element for this year's advertising...and eventually decide to go with something simpler and more boring. So, no explosive ad campaigns this year either.

I'll still be relying on them when it comes to editing the trailer reel, which I really should get around to doing a week or two ago...except for the minor detail that I *still* don't have all the trailers I've been promised.

On the plus side, I'm hoping things will get hopping on the production end after the market: I've been having a serious run lately of people offering me movie roles. Almost all bad guys and one tenth-century Viking at this point. I can deal with that. It could make scheduling interesting when they start going into production, but the first one coming up on the calendar doesn't even hit pre-production for a couple of weeks. Just as well, since I still have all these completed movies to get sold. Not that "International Movie Salesman" isn't just another role, too; it just involves a lot less time in makeup.

If I get inspired, I suppose I could just cut the missing trailers myself. I could even add some of those explosions I didn't get around to using in this year's display advertising. That's not a bad idea at all. Nothing livens up a slow-moving, socially relevant, introspective drama like a few random gratuitous explosions. Hmmmm....

Wednesday, October 19th


Nights of Thunder:

Got up a little early today to start working on some last-minute magazine ads. ("So why aren't you working on them?" "Oh, ah, um....") I had a couple of magazines offer me some last-minute deals on unsold advertising space they wanted to fill up before going to print. The catch is that you have to make up your mind, pay for it, and crank out the ad in a day.

Kind of how I usually end up doing it anyway, except that in *this* case it isn't due to my own procrastination.

That's okay; I've got some ideas. Some of them even for advertising. Check back with me in a few hours and I bet I'll have come up with something.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon out on the bike trails, riding along some of my usual paths, but I ended up finding another loop up north of downtown where there had been just a dead end the last time I'd checked.

It was a perfect day for biking, just the right temperature and the leaves had all changed to their fall colors but were only just starting to fall. There's one section that was like riding through a tunnel of fall-covered foliage, with just a dusting of dry leaves on the trail itself.

No strange encounters this time around, either, though there were quite a few people out on the trails, perhaps because today it's supposed to be much cooler and rainy.


And so it is--just a soft rain falling outside this early morning with the rumbling of thunder in the background.

An appropriate morning for me to be working in front of a toasty fire...even if it's only on the monitor. Gotta keep in tune with firey themes when your company name is "Inferno."

Monday, October 17th


Shopping List:
  • 200 sheets heavyweight glossy 13" x 19" photo paper
  • 1 Syntax Olevia LT37HVS 37" LCD TV
  • 33 assorted inkjet cartridges for photo printers
  • 6 assorted HDMI cables 3' to 15'
  • 1 Samsung DVD-HD950 upconverting DVD player with high-def HDMI output
  • 32 rolls gaffer tape, assorted colors and widths

As you can see, the day's purchases make for an eclectic list. I figured I'd better get serious about getting in the supplies I'll need for this year's American Film Market. I like to do a slicker show each year, so this time of year is worse than the pre-Christmas shopping frenzy for me. Still, when you think of the cost of just attending the film markets at all, the day's purchases put together wouldn't even qualify as "small potatoes"; at most, it's barely a spudlet.

All told, it's less than I'm spending on one ad, and today was a good enough day in the stock market that I can't feel *too* bad about spending a little of it on ways to perk up my displays.

There's still a bunch more I have to track down, but fortunately the bulk of what I need for the market I already have on hand, either because I'm reusing it from the last market, or because I'd picked it up already in recent months.

october 2005 snowfall
waking up to a snowy morning at the treehouse

I still have lots of video work to do and more than a little dinking around with hardware to upgrade the equipment I'll be bringing. I can't complain that the world has cooled off a little since this summer; sharing a room with a few terabytes of disk space and a couple of xeons adds a more welcome warmth than they did when the mercury was topping a hundred a few months back.

Evenetually I'll have to figure out what to do with all this new equipment *after* the market. Unfortunately, things like the upconverting DVD player and the video cards I'll be putting into the media servers are pretty much guaranteed to be obsolete by this time next year, but I'm sure I'll be able to come up with *something* between now and then.

Saturday, October 15th


Sweetest Day:

In case you didn't know, today is "Sweetest Day," which is sort of a second Valentine's Day, aimed at bolstering the sales of candy, greeting cards, and flowers during what is otherwise a lackluster period for that particular retail segment.

Considering how rarely relationships last a whole year, having semi-annual "Valentine's Day" observances makes a lot of sense. Quarterly, in fact, would probably be even better.

Give it a few more years. I bet it'll happen.

This year, I've once again avoided the temptation of surrounding myself with chocolate (and, horror of horrors, eating it). Instead, I've been observing it in my usual way--fixing computers. But, then, I celebrate a *lot* of holidays that way.

candy hearts

If you don't have a backlog of computers in need of repair, there's plenty of other ways to celebrate that are at least as appropriate. You can, for example, buy yourself a package of BitterSweets, from Despair.Com. Those come in Banana Chalk, Grape Dust, Nappy-Citric, You-Call-This-Lime?, Pink Sand, and Fossilized Antacid flavors, so they have the distinct advantage over chocolate that you probably won't be overcome with the urge to eat them all yourself. one sitting, anyway.

If you have a greater flair for the dramatic--or an unnatural fondness for plastic surgery--another gift you could get for yourself or that special loved one is the soon-to-be-available MP3-playing Breast Implants that British Telecom's "Futurology" division has come up with.

Personally, I think that stylized silhouettes of happy women enjoying their new iBoobs would be one of the more pleasant ad campaigns I can imagine being subjected to.

I'm sure you can think of lots of other advantages for the iBoob, though it wouldn't be without its challenges either. Selecting your desired playlist could be quite time-consuming, especially considering that you have only two control buttons. Until you got the hang of it, you might need to have someone else help out. When operating just on internal breast power, I imagine the volume level would be pretty low, but as long as you'd gotten one of the larger models, they would at least work nicely as headphones for a friend you wanted to share some tunes with.

It's an interesting idea, though. I'm sure there must be other body parts that could stand to have something useful implanted.

Or you could just give someone flowers. Those are lower in calories than chocolate and (usually) have a faster recovery time than plastic surgery.

Thursday, October 13th



It was a good day and a bad day for biking. Good because it was one of those days when I felt like I could all but fly with hardly any effort. Not so good because of the adventures along the way, and it left me feeling sadder at the end than I'd felt before after a ride.

Most mammals get moving when they see you racing in their direction on a bike. Almost all of them at least have the sense to protect their young. Humans are a notable exception on both counts: a remarkable number of them will stand in the middle of a bike trail and just stare at you blankly as you approach.

Today there were hardly any cyclists (at least ones who were in motion), but there were plenty of people standing around like so many stuffed penguins. Years ago, when exercise was the "in" thing to do, I kept seeing people who would go out to the trails with their brand-new bikes and logo-encrusted bikewear, none of which showed any visible sign of wear or even use, stand around looking cool for a while, eat a foil-wrapped "energy bar" or two, and then go home.

I hardly ever see that any more, but the current trend is for people to head off to the trails, stand in the middle of the bike path talking on a cellphone for a while, and *then* head back home.

It's a lot like the way people stay fit by purchasing gym memberships and not going, just cheaper.

Today's Darwin Award hopeful was a woman who'd found a spot where the trail turned as it came up from under a bridge, so there'd be a minimum of visibility. She was standing on one side of the path, talking on her cellphone and holding onto the handle of an infant-laden stroller that she'd parked sideways across the rest of the path(!). I managed to get her attention as I approached, but she just looked at me, quite unable to come up with any pro-active response like, say, pulling or pushing the stroller to one side of the path. I went off to one side to avoid hitting them and continued on my way as she continued her conversation, unperturbed by any awareness of the impending doom that she and her child might shortly be facing from the cyclists riding behind me.

The scariest thing is that this isn't the first time that's happened. What is the attraction of trying to turn your offspring into a speedbump?

Well, okay. I've met some kids where I could definitely see the attraction, but that's still a temptation best left untasted.

I don't usually have much personal involvement with the wildlife along the trails, except for my stint as a "turtle taxi" some years back when a herd of baby turtles had decided to migrate down the bike trail (and I thought that speeding up the journey for them was a fine way of keeping *them* from ending up as speed bumps). Today's wildlife adventure wasn't nearly as successful and it left me feeling sad.

Most raccoons develop an acute attack of stage fright when they see that you can see them; they try to hide, squoosh themselves flat (and think you won't notice them), or run off. I passed one on the path today who didn't do any of these things. We just looked at each other as I pedaled past.

He didn't look happy, though, and when I was heading back that way, I pulled over and got off the bike. He looked really sick. Still, you'd think even a sick raccoon would have rushed off into the underbrush, but he came up to my feet and looked at me like he wanted me to do something.

So of course I end up talking to him and trying to sound sympathetic--a lot of good that's going to do, but you have to do it anyway. He just looked at me like he hurt; I could have picked him up, but then what? Not a good idea, despite any urge to the contrary.

So I apologised and headed off to the park ranger station...which was closed and nobody was there. After that, I spent about half an hour talking to the animal control departments of various jurisdictions, each of which would pass me on to another. Eventually the state patrol said that they were the ones to talk to, but there was nothing they would do under such circumstances except to put down an animal they thought was aggressive or dangerous.

Which didn't surprise me; that's pretty much what I'd expected, but I thought I ought to try anyway.

Still, that won't stop me from remembering how he looked at me.

Thursday, October 13th



The adventures in advertising continue. As much as I like the artwork Lions Gate came up with for War of the Planets, I can't use it myself. Well, I can *here* because I'm talking about it--and linking to its page on Amazon--and that falls safely within the realm of "fair use," but I can't use it for my own nefarious promotional plans for selling it internationally.

War of the Planets

However, I *can* rip it off to my heart's delight as long as I'm not copying it. And I can even spell the tagline correctly, if I feel like it, and I assure you that I do. I'm into the whole spelling thing, actually, even just on general principles.

Ripping off anybody else's ideas--just making them different enough to avoid any unpleasant legal challenges--is what Hollywood is all about, after all.

I don't know what you think, but my guess is that Lions Gate didn't change the title of the film to "War of the Planets" because they wanted something original and distinctly different.

Speaking of things original and distinctly different, I tried to come up with a design for this year's elevator banner that was original and distinctly different, but failed completely. One problem is that if I come up with a layout that's too exciting, it takes attention away from the movies, so I fell back on the design I did last year, updated with the latest crop of movies. It looks like this, only much, much bigger:

American Film Market

Now I need to get back to work on the trailers and DVD masters.

- or go biking. Hmmm....

Friday, October 7th


The "N" is Only the Beginning:

I was a little short on a few things this week. Operating tables, for starters.

Originally, I had a shoot scheduled for last Saturday at a hospital, but the location didn't end up working out. That happens sometimes.

So it got rescheduled for last Wednesday, but something came up again and the production company had to find another location at the last minute. This location happened to be a nearby veterinary hospital.

I've known some number of people over the years who worked at veterinary clinics, but this was the first time I'd actually been in one. They certainly have some similarities to hospitals designed for us two-legged types, but they have some differences, too, like the size of the operating tables and other equipment.

In this case, the operating table was about four feet long. In case you weren't aware, I'm considerably longer than four feet myself, so lying down on the table with half my back and all of my head extended over empty space was an effective way to exercise my abdominals.

Lots of people go into the hospital these days for a bit of tummy-tightening; nothing wrong with that.

For a while, anyway. It actually didn't take all that long before my tummy felt quite tight enough, thankyouverymuch.

So the set dresser came up with a wheeled chair and balanced a foldable plastic carrying case on top of that for me to put my head on. The wheeled chair could have benefitted from some brakes, but as long as I didn't move, it stayed put most of the time, too, and it all worked well enough for the camera.

A few feet of operating table isn't the only thing we're short on: Lions Gate is releasing one of the films we represent, War of the Planets, on November 15th (Amazon is taking pre-orders already), but they're doing it with one fewer 'N' than I would have expected. Probably due to budget cuts or something.

At least they did get the title spelled correctly; that's the most important part, I'm sure. They're doing better than some, like the movie I was working on recently that managed to spell Mark Grove's name wrong in a new and different way in each version of the credits.

War of the Planets

War of the Planets, now available for pre-orders

Tomorrow I'll be on a shoot for a different film, and with luck (um, a *lot* of luck), the production won't be short on anything.

I'll gather up a bag of extra 'N's, just in case they run out. You ever kow whe you might eed some.

Tuesday, October 4th


Picture This:

It's not exactly new (or even recent) news, but if you haven't checked out the satellite imagery available on Google Maps and Microsoft's Virtual Earth yet, they're both worth a peek. After spending quality time with them both, the Microsoft offering wins the prize for better and higher-resolution pictures, but they're both pretty amazing tools.

Here, for example, is a satellite picture of the missile base we shot at in August (at about a quarter of the highest resolution available from Microsoft's Virtual Earth). Besides being interesting in and of itself, you can figure out things that ordinary maps don't help you with, like where to park.

aerial view of missilebase

aerial view of missilebase

It'd be nice if you could find out when a particular image was aquired (and, thus, know how out-of-date it is), but sometimes you can figure it out. It's pretty obvious about what time of the morning it was in this shot of the treehouse, but it's also apparent that it was taken after June 29th, 2001, but not long after.

aerial view of the treehouse

aerial view of the treehouse

The giveaway is the row of trees a little back from the road in my yard. Those got planted in the middle of the night of June 29th, and unfortunately didn't survive very long afterwards. (They'd had a hard life before I ended up with them and the two that didn't die immediately were torn to bits by the elk shortly thereafter.)

If it had been a little later in the day, it would be easier to identify the car that's parked by the front door. As impressive as this much detail is, it's still not possible to zoom in enough to identify people. Most people, anyway, though there might be some people who are distinctive enough to be identifiable from just a few pixels.

If you're a typical single guy like me, you're probably familiar with online dating/matchmaking sites, though my personal experience with them dates from well before there was a world-wide web. (Obviously, things didn't work out between me and either of the single women who were on the net at that time.)

Nowadays, it looks like the online dating scene has gotten more sophisticated; you can put up pictures, for starters.

But, if you're not more sophisticated, using those more advanced systems may not help.

Fortunately for you, in this post-information-age era, you no longer have to rely on your own personal traits and abilities to attract the appropriately-sexed person of your dreams., for example, offers to write your personal ads for a fee, and Evan Marc Katz will not only write your personal ads, he'll tell you how to answer your email, when to meet in person, and let you know when it's time to go to bed together(!).

I haven't perused these sites deeply enough to tell whether this gets done by cellphone. Maybe they have a 900 number you can call when it looks like things are picking up:

"If you want to know what to write in your personal ad, Press 1 now.
If you are trying to answer email of a romantic nature, Press 2.
If your date has just told you that she loved what you wrote in your personal ad and emails and wants to go straight to bed with you, Press 7 and hand the phone to her. I'll take care of giving her the directions to our state-of-the-art facility and let you know tomorrow how the rest of your date went."

If you spring for their premium package, maybe they give you a discrete headset they can use to give you instructions so you won't have to keep interrupting your evening with all those mood-destroying cellphone calls.

"...lower, lower, a little to the try it a little harder..."

It used to be that if your own picture wasn't as attractive as you wanted, you had to resort to using a picture of yourself from way back when you still looked good--as, you'll note, I've done at the top of this month's blog thingie--or just use someone else's picture in your profile. Now there's another option with who specializes in making ordinary people look like ordinary people with better lighting and their hair combed.

Or at least that's what I gather from looking at their before-and-after examples. I think it looks like they put more effort into making the "before"s look bad than making the "after"s anything to write home about. (Or to write to your online matches about.)

Nonetheless, they are a little more ambitious in their own ad copy:

For a low one-time investment of $129 you'll get 12 outstanding and natural-looking photos that will deliver emails, date offers and fantastic matches.

I suppose if that comes with a money-back guarantee, then it might not be such a bad deal:

"Hey, you guys took my picture and nobody's offered me a date or a fantastic match; I want my money back."
"But did you get *email*?"
"All I got was five hundred and thirty-one ads for mail-order pharmaceuticals and a note claiming that a recently deceased Nigerian relative I'd never heard of wants to sell me stock tips."
"That's email. Thanks for calling. Have a nice day."

Dunno. Based on their examples, $129 seems a little steep, especially when Google's Image Search is always free.

But, hey, if you're worried that your date would eventually be bothered by the minor detail that your profile picture is of somebody else, then maybe you should use a satellite pic from Google Maps instead. Your date probably won't ever suspect that those three pixels aren't really you.

"...If your date did not go well and you would like to schedule a visit from Big Jim Slade, Press 8 now."

Saturday, October 1st


Pulp Fiction:

There's a lot of revenge going on out there. A quick search on the word turns up no fewer than 577 titles on IMDb.

But eggplants are far more rare in the film industry. A title search (as of today, at least) turns up only one:

Oranges:  revenge of the eggplant

Oranges: Revenge of the Eggplant

Oranges: Revenge of the Eggplant

And I have the honor of representing this, the only film about an Evil Eggplant, at the upcoming American Film Market

(And many other fine films, too, but this is the one with by far the most fresh fruits and vegetables--and you know you need plenty of those in your entertainment diet.)

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