Compositing In Media Composer

11 05 2009

As an old-fashioned “film editor” it’s taken me forever and a day to really start to investigate the possibilities behind creating visual effects on a timeline.  I began playing around with Motion and Final Cut and then moved to Boris on the Media Composer  But, as Oliver Peters describes in his Digital Films blog, it is very possible to create very complex effects in the Avid simply by layering and nesting.

His article on this, Compositing With Avid Media Composer, is now up on his web site and aside from a desire to be able to see the images in a much much larger form, it’s a great intro to those concepts.  I’d recommend that you hop on over there Right Now, and read it.

Awareness Test

11 03 2008

The Transport For London has an online test that’s part of their campaign to ‘look out out for cyclists.” It’s a video of two teams of four basketball players passing a basketball around. You’re asked to count the number of passes that the team dressed in white makes.

I’ll let you go away and watch the video. Then, come back here for my point (which will be continued by clicking on the “Read The Rest of This Entry’ link below).

Click here for the video.

Read the rest of this entry »

iTunes and Wal-Mart

7 03 2008

No, Apple and Wal-Mart haven’t merged, but I was intrigued by a Billboard piece yesterday (here is the Yahoo News link) that reported on Wal-Mart proposing a five-tiered pricing structure that, according to the piece, “would allow the discounter to sell albums at even lower prices and require the labels to bear more of the costs.”

According to sources, the Wal-Mart proposal would allow for a promotional program that could comprise the top 15 to 20 hottest titles, each at $10. The rest of the pricing structure, according to several music executives who spoke with Billboard, would have hits and current titles retailing for $12, top catalog at $9, midline catalog at $7 and budget product at $5. The move would also shift the store’s pricing from its $9.88 and $13.88 model to rounder sales prices.

Not only is this an acknowledgment of the decline of the sales of physical products (CDs and music DVDs) but it is also a further nail in the coffin of allowing the labels to fix their retail prices in whatever way they’d like.

You may remember that the biggest beef that labels like Universal Music had with Apple’s iTunes was that they couldn’t force Apple to sell with a pricing structure that the labels wanted.

“I don’t think this is a Wal-Mart discussion,” one top executive at a major label said. “I think this is a future-of-the-business discussion. Right now everyone is paralyzed.”

As I’ve already pointed out, Apple seems to finally be moving in the direction of multiple pricing.  It is intriguing that their huge success in music distribution (they seem poised to overtake Wal-Mart as the biggest music retailer in the US by the end of this year) is putting pressure on others to adapt their sales model as well.  If you have to sell pieces of plastic with more than one song on them, you have to offer the customer something more than iTunes does.  In this case, Wal-Mart seems to be offering much lower cost.

Simplifying Things Using Technology

5 02 2008

Steve Cohen has a great object lesson in … well … reality on his blog today. Entitled Priesthood Still Needed, the piece details an entire day spent with tech support trying to figure out why the picture dailies for his new film were stuttering like a misaligned A-frame (don’t ask, don’t ask).

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Tom Cruise’s Impossible Mission

9 05 2006

I don’t know why I seem to be stuck on posting videos recently (and I haven’t even been on YouTube recently) but this one is too funny.

Note: Because of slow loading times on some of your browsers, I am just putting this in as a link. Click right here.

VD Is For Everybody

28 04 2006

This is a PSA (Public Service Announcement) from 1969 that’s meant to let you know that, well…, VD is for everybody.

Seriously, the stuff you can find on YouTube is staggering. The studios don’t have a fucking chance!

Las Vegas Stories

24 04 2006

When I first arrived in Los Angeles in the Seventies, it was very typical to hear New Yorkers like myself comment on the unreality of it all. I remember saying myself that I spent hours looking behind every building, looking to see if they were propped-up false fronts.

Okay, so I wasn’t very original.

But all of this palls completely when faced with the complete unreality that is Las Vegas.

Okay, so I’m aware that this also isn’t an original statement. Every tourist in the world seems to be taking pictures of the fake Statue of Liberty outside of one casino/hotel, or the fake Sphinx outside of another one. The really impressive thing about all of this is that they seem to be taking picture of it to preserve the touching memories, not because they are totally cynical about it.

It boggles the mind.

Yesterday I checked their Yellow Pages. There are almost twelve pages of check cashing (called “Payday”) and Pawnbrokers. It’s a place where it seems that if you aren’t giving your money away to someone else, you are being positively Unamerican. Is it simply lack of access that prevents Al Queda from blowing the place to smithereens? Or do they secretly harbor the desire to get that big casino payoff, or ride on the Monorail past the Paris Hotel and stare at the fake Eiffel Tower?

The town completely creeps me out.

On the other hand, since I’m here in Lost Wages (sorry sorry, old joke there) to attend the NAB convention, I don’t really see much of the town. I’m too busy in the middle of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Much interesting here at NAB. I’ll report on that some other time.

Tell Me this Isn’t Cool!!

22 04 2006

Every minute of every day. Someone has taken a picture with the time in it — 3:39, 4:26, etc. Some of them are really clever. Some are very straightforward. Doesn’t matter. It’s a pretty cool clock.

Easy Shot

13 02 2006

In regards to Dick Cheney shooting his hunting partner, the easy joke is that “If this is how he treats his friends, just don’t get on his bad side.”

The real comment, though, is that when you’re the second most powerful man in the USA (some might claim that he’s the first) then you can pretty much do whatever the heck you want and then deal with the consequences later.

I remember this really trashy movie years ago, called THE BETSY. As I remember, it was about a Detroit auto family (back when that meant something) and how they could get away with anything because they controlled the town — sorta like the Ewings in Dallas, right? [A diversion — I saw the film in Times Square, and there’s one scene where a husband comes back unexpectedly and starts walking up this huge sprial staircase to his bedroom where his wife is screwing around with her brother or some such thing. With each step, the audience became more and more restless, calling out to the screen: “Oh, no. Don’t go up there. DON’T GO UP THERE!!!”]

In any case, the point was that those who were in power operated with a different set of rules than the rest of us. That will, of course, be of no surprise to anyone who has lived in a monarchy or a dictatorship. The big deal, however, about a democracy is that ain’t supposed to happen.

Sure. Sure.

In any case, Cheney continues to demonstrate that he believes that the rules are for other people, and that hunters who run countries can do anything they want (he paid his missing hunting stamp after the fact, by the way). Just like a monarchy. Or a dictatorship. Or reality.

You Know You’re Busy When…

16 01 2006

There’s nothing I like more than wasting my time doing blog entries. It’s such a wonderfully wasteful use of my time. It’s not like there are more than ten or fifteen of you who actually read these entries, but I love doing them.

It’s so much more interesting than finishing reports or grading papers (not that I actually assign papers, but never mind details; this is a world where fiction can pass for fact in the halls of publishing, so don’t worry).

So, you know you’re busy when you can’t find time to do a blog entry in two weeks during winter break!!

Nothing gets done in Los Angeles from Xmas until New Year. In fact, very little gets done in all of December!

I did see a few movies and I did fly back and forth to New York to bury my Dad and help my Mom. I did try and juggle some reports and hire some teachers. But I spent over a solid day of flying time and didn’t find the time to read one book??? Whazzup with that?

An interesting thing happened to my Mom as she was cleaning up my Dad’s drawers — cleaning out old socks and the like. She found an envelope with some cash in it — not much, just about fifty bucks. But she didn’t know that my Dad had stashed it there.

Then she found another one.

And another one.

Then she found one behind the bed end table.

And some more in the sock drawer.

By the time she was done, she had found $1900 in a ton of envelopes.

I’m told that one of the things that is not uncommon in Alzheimer’s patients is that they will squirrel things away — money, change, keys, etc. I don’t know if this is true, but he must have been doing this for years.

In any case, the good thing is that my Mom’s got some money to help her through these times when the paperwork for pensions and life insurance etc. take forever to go through.

$1900. Out here, you could easily go for… oh… two weeks on that.