Jobs Jobs Jobs

31 10 2005

I occasionally get requests for recommendations for editorial job positions. Two just crossed my desk for people with well defined skills.

One is for an assistant editor in LA for a Brazilian arts documentary. They say “assistant” but want a person with a laptop with Final Cut Pro 4.5 HD.

The other job is for a Portuguese Subtitle Editor with DVD Studio Pro or similar.

Anyone interested? It works for me if I know you so I could recommend without fear.

Flying By The Seat of…

30 10 2005

Years ago I suppose it meant something when they called them airliners, since the service they gave you reminded you of the service you got on ocean liners. They fed you, they entertained you, they let you walk around and bother other passengers.

In general, a good deal.

Nowadays, I’d use another word in there – airbusses. Because they remind me of busses, in particular the M5 bus that I used to take from Lincoln Center to Soho — that is, packed, uncomfortable, and without any of the amenities that those foolish overpaying people in limousines would have.

Having just spent two successive weekends on two airbus flights — one to New York and this past few days to Salt Lake City — I can tell you that anyone who says they enjoy flying is either on drugs or, more likely, on drugs and in first class. There is no food, no entertainment without tons of commercials, and there is no moving around the cabin, unless you want to fight the little food carts that fill up the teeny-tiny aisles and which seem to have no use whatsoever — since they don’t dispense food, only tiny packets with a few ounces of baked carbohydrates with salt inside them.

The only trick that I’ve discovered to help me out is to do your e-ticket check in at the airport and, when offered the opportunity to change seats, to press YES. This will usually give you a little map of the airbus with its empty seats all conveniently marked. I can then choose the aisle seat that is surrounded by as many empty seats as there are.

Of course, this only works if there are empty seats.

Oh, by the way, that picture at the top there is a shot of a little stream at the Sundance Resort where the conference I was attending was held (it’s taken by my very low resolution Treo phone, so I apologize for that). There is something very weird about getting off a crowded airplane, hopping a shuttle van and then ending up in a place like this. Weird, but definitely good.

High Def, USC and Me

25 10 2005

I’ve been out of commission for a week or so and will probably continue to be so for a bit because I’ve been back East for a long weekend to see my daughter at college (Parents’ Day is a pretty cool invention) and am going up to the Sundance Institute this Thursday to take part in a small symposium on HD in Education. Should we do it? What are the problems with doing it? What are the options?

At USC, we are slowly dipping our toes into the HD world. It’s an expensive proposition, even with two cameras that were dropped on us by Sony. The rest of world is still figuring out how best to deal with HD and even which flavor of HD they like. We’re no different, except with a hell of a lot less money.

For a bit, it looked like HDV would be one way to deal with it. Cheaper cameras, Final Cut and Avid both handle it sort of natively. But Sony’s 24p — frames per second — looks terrible, so it would be difficult to use HDV to teach a real HD workflow (for those of you who don’t know — “workflow” is the buzzword of 2005; last year it was “collaboration”, this year it’s “workflow”). We’d still have to invest in decks and upgrading most of the Avids we’ve got.

So, we’re back to looking at HD. The F900 type (for those of you who know what I’m talking about, congratulations, since I don’t). Maybe I’ll pick up some real knowledge this weekend.

In the meantime, don’t expect me to be very contributive. Just click on some of the good people’s links over there to your left.

I’m No Sports Fan But…

15 10 2005

As anyone who knows me can attest, I was born without the male sports gene. I like baseball (I even like going to games) but sports, in general, fails to grab me in the way that cause me anxiety if I can’t watch NFL games on Sunday (to wit, I’m driving to Palm Springs tomorrow to choose our new puppy!!!). (Yep, there’s that silly missing chromosome thing again).

So, I was at school today, participating in a rather great class in my television course (a working AD — from the late SIX FEET UNDER — came and walked the class through the actual blocking and set-up and shooting of a scene) and, as I was leaving, I walked through the lobby with the Big Ole Television Set, which was set to the USC/Notre Dame game. Notre Dame had just scored with two minutes left in the game and the crowd was going insane.

So, I hop in the car to listen to the unbelievable ending to the game and had to pull over to the side to listen as USC won with a touchdown in the last seven seconds, after the Notre Dame fans had been misled by a non-stopped game clock to think that they had won.

I’m still going to Palm Springs tomorrow, but I did feel a bit of either that missing gene or USC Trojan spirit in there.

Movie Cliches

14 10 2005

Do you want to read something funny? Do you want to read something sad? Do you want to read something true?

The Movie Cliches List presents almost every movie cliche that you’ve ever commented on while you staggered around inebriated after a debauched video party.

Some examples:

  • Evil geniuses who devise bombs to destroy things/people always have them detonate after at least an hour, giving the hero ample time to defuse it.
  • When you are alone in the back seat of the car, make sure you sit in the middle.
  • Asteroids are discovered by astronomers peering directly through their telescopes in brightly lit observatories. Whatever they see will appear on computer monitors, however.
  • A cup of black coffee/splash of cold water in face is enough to render the most inebriated person stone cold sober in a split second
  • Movie passengers either don’t pay cabs at all, or have the exact change. Same is true in restaurants. Checks are always designed to be 15 percent under the bills the male costumer has in his hands first.

There’s more, but it would be unfair to give them all away. Click on the link to the left in my section cleverly labelled “Links” to see the whole list.

And How Do You Like Show Biz Now?

14 10 2005

Peggy Archer writes a blog that, despite her protestations, is an interesting look behind the scenes at the way that film and television is actually made. She is a crew member (electrician) who floats through shows like BONES and GREY’S ANATOMY and features.

In today’s entry she reminds people that filmmaking isn’t really as glamorous as everyone thinks it is. She talks about the endless waiting that is involved in filmmaking. A quote –

I blog about stuff that happens to me – but there’s a lot of time in between that stuff, and most of it’s spent waiting.

Waiting for talent.
Waiting on camera.
Waiting on lunch.
Waiting to see if they’re going to move on.
Waiting for the AD’s to call ‘cut’ so I can turn the page of the newspaper.
Waiting on the sun to go down so we can light the night exterior.
Waiting for no fucking reason at all.

Even rigging (setting up for the shooting crew) involves waiting:

Waiting to be let into the location.
Waiting for equipment to be delivered.
Waiting on the truck to show up so we can load it.
Waiting for the rigging gaffer to tell us what to do.
Waiting for the guys ‘up high’ to send the rope back down so we can tie on another load of cable.
Waiting on paperwork from the rental house.

I’d say that, on average, about 70% of my day is spent waiting.

This difference between perception and reality comes up even in the editing room. There is, in fact, usually one moment during the course of the post production process when we’re sitting in an editing room or outside a lab at 2am, waiting for something to happen… or hauling a print of a film out of a preview theatre in Bumfuck, Ohio at midnight after we’ve sat around listening to the brilliant filmgoers tell the focus group leader just what was wrong in Act 3… or whatever…

But there’s usually one moment where I turn to the director or producer or studio person or my assistant and say “So, how do you like show biz now?”

Zone Out Time

13 10 2005

There’s this great reverse fountain that sits right outside of the Norris Theatre here at USC where the water doesn’t shoot up in the air, but gets sucked down into a vast cavernous somewhere. I know that there’s also one like this at UCLA, but I’ve never hung out around that one. I do hang out at the USC anti-fountain at times when I’m looking for a great introspective moment.

At times I wonder if this isn’t some giant metaphor for the film business or for the education business (you take your pick). You know, things start out visible and within reach. But then, as things progress, they inevitably recede further and further from view, down and down into some unknowable anus-like pit.

Hmmm, maybe I should be introspective a bit less.

In any case, it makes me wonder just what the point of the fountain is. I’ve always considered water a rather magical element. I’ve spent an absurd amount of time staring at waterfalls and watching the patterns of the cascading water. I often drive over to the Pacific Ocean, a few blocks from my house, just to look out at the water from the Santa Monica Bluffs. I love the sound and the visuals of moving water (and it pretty much always moves — even when it’s sitting in the bath). If I sit at the painfully uncomfotable concrete top of the anti-fountain I can hear the rustling of the water. But if I sit a short distance away, I can neither hear it nor see it.

Now, maybe, THAT’S the metaphor.

File This Under "Say What?"

10 10 2005

Walking onto campus this morning I saw a student stroll by, cell phone in hand, wearing a down jacket (a very nice, clean white one to be sure). Now, this strikes me as a little puzzling in 60 degree weather. However, maybe she was just cold. That’s possible.

If so, though, why was she wearing flip-flops? Am I missing something here? Do toes stay warmer longer than our torsos?

Panoramio — Cool Photo/Mapping Site

9 10 2005

Panoramio is a site that uses the extremely cool Google Maps function (you can actually see maps and satellite photos of the Earth using Google Maps) to create a link between people’s uploaded pictures and the location that they were taken at.

I haven’t yet found a way to make the site very accurate (I haven’t been able to put separate IDs for pictures taken in Amman, Jordan versus Petra, Jordan for instance) and I’m not sure how it’s going to work when there are thousands of pictures. But I’m still experimenting.

The possibilities for location scouting are huge.

Go… uh… Trojans!

8 10 2005

I’ve been serving this year on the Executive Board of the Academic Senate, which is basically the group that serves as representatives for all of the faculty at USC. We meet every week and deal with all sorts of issues which, while they take two hours to go through, would generally bore you to absolute tears.

So I’ll skip that description.

It’s not all work though. As an Executive Board member, I keep on getting invited to USC events, which explains why I am up at 7:30 on a Saturday morning, getting ready to go to the USC/Arizona football game.

Now, I should probably explain that after the World Series is over, I pretty much retire from caring about sports in general. Hockey? What the hell is that? Basketball? Yeah, that’s the one with tall people, right? Football? Oddly shaped ball being tossed about by genetic mutants.

College football? See ya.

The joke is that at the USC Cinema school the only time we know when there’s a USC football game is when we find it impossible to park on campus.

Now, I’m not a complete ignoramus about the unfortunately named Trojans football team. It would be hard to stay that way since they have the most unbelievable record since Moses. But I’ve never been to a Trojans game. In fact, I’ve never been to a football game of any kind in my entire life.

Until today.

I’ll keep you posted. I’m told the seats are good (I am, after all, on the Executive Board). I’m hoping that it will be fun, and one of the Provosts has told me that she’ll give me explanations about the strategy. So I’ll learn as well.

I just hope that they win. It would totally suck if my first game jinxed them. And this is the USC 125th Anniversary game weekend!!