Monday, May 28, 2007

Changing facial topography

I had many, many hours of sleep over the weekend. Many more than I had in the previous weekend (or any weekend since the holidays, I suspect). It was very, very good and it led to an interesting transformation.

I was yawning in the supermarket (even catch-up sleep cannot defeat the yawn-inducing power of waiting at the checkout), and I put one hand up to rub my cheek lazily and discovered that my face had subtly changed shape. Gone were the swollen, puffy lower eye-lids that are standard issue for Matt during term time. Gone was the palpable delineation between sleep-deprived eyelid tissue and cheek. I'd somehow de-panda-ised my eyes, through the simple technique of getting some sleep.

I am led to wonder what other changes might take place, were I to regularly get enough sleep? Might aches and pains that I have come to regard as chronic symptoms of aging in fact be signs of over-tiredness?

Sadly, it's not even 3pm Monday and I can feel that I've already refilled 80% of my tiredness batteries.

Le sigh.

I will await the long weekend with baited breath, and after that, the holidays! (where Debbie and I are pretty keen to make another 3 Moviefest films. Or more. After all, the entry fee is only $25 and it's soooo much easier than making a 48 film. yes, this will make me tired. but at least it will be the good kind of tired. apparently i have given myself a 'no capital letters' pass for this set of parentheses. i can type in lower case with impunity as i weild my 'get out of punctuation free' card like a monopolist intent on some free parking)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Late Nights, Spending $

Interesting stats from the 48 Hour Film Competition:

490 teams started nationally
77 teams missed the deadline
24 teams MIA (I think this means they registered, but didn't show up on Friday to compete)

That's a lot of short films! Our heat is on tonight, so I'll be having a late night. It doesn't start until 9.15pm. I'm looking forward to seeing (hearing) how an audience reacts to the film - Debbie reported back that there was a fair amount of laughter when she showed it at school, so maybe it's not as flat as I feared. I am curious to see how it's received.

On the spending $ front, Debbie and I have been talking lately about how it's awesome to save money for future plans, and yet be able to spend $ from time to time on things that make our daily lives more pleasant. There are 2 obvious examples - a heat lamp/extraction fan combo for the bathroom, and a big LCD TV that we've bought this year. It took me a while to get my head around the idea of spending large chunks of cash on nice stuff, rather than deferring spending for some future goal. It's awesome to have made that mental shift though. The stuff we've bought hasn't stopped us from saving, but they are awesome things that we use every day. I like trying to achieve a balance where we're saving regularly, but not missing out on the simple pleasure of a non-steamy house, or a cool big TV to watch shows on (mmm, Heroes is ready to be watched when we get back from the supermarket). Continuing in this trend of sometimes buying nice stuff, I've ordered a new computer. The old beasty we've been using was a low specced machine three and a half years ago when we bought it - it'll be nice to have a mid-range modern PC to use for the next few years. The old machine might make it into a classroom at one of our schools as an editing machine for short films - it's quite capable of handling Moviemaker.

I decided to spend the extra $ to get a 500gb hard drive in the new PC - I figure with video projects like the 160gb horror film, and the 150gb school production that I'm working on, 500gb is actually a reasonable size to get.

Now, to the supermarket, then back for Heroes. Then, on to Wellington for our heat...

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Post Mortem Post

So - how did we do in our first 48 outing with a Kapiti team?

* Ideas - good premise, some good scenes, but split focus between 3 groups (class of students, teacher, guidance counsellor): 7/10

* Humour - some good jokes, especially towards the end, but a slow (joke-lite) start: 5/10

* Technical Stuff - well, you can hear all the lines and see all the peoples. No interesting camera work, OK music, sound fair but not as good as it would have been if our microphone hadn't broken some time between Saturday 7:30 and Saturday 10am: 6/10

* Working to Deadlines - had a rough cut by 11am, a safety cut (perfectly hand-inable) by 3pm, and got the more-or-less finished version (computer crashed when outputting the final final version) handed in 45 minutes early: 10/10

Overall grade for the film itself? Probably 6/10. It gets better as it goes along (the worst 2 scenes are right at the start, and they're not bad - just not particularly interesting/funny), and I quite like the last third or so. Sadly, I think we did a much better job with our practice film than with this one. Of course, the practice film took us 49 hours to put together (without driving to Wellington to hand it in), so in that sense we did much better this time.

I am now very keen for Moviefest, as I wants to make more short films :)

PS: About 40 - 50% of our takes were unusable (had to call cut early) because of planes overhead. The fine weather sent hundreds of people up for gliding and flying around, and apparently a large number of them decided to circle around and around the school where we were filming!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

All done

Another film project complete. Our tape is on its way to Wellington (the driver left about 10 - 15 minutes ago, so even with traffic she should be there a good half hour ahead of the deadline).

It's very cool to have finished on time, and be into the relaxing/recovering part of the weekend. My folks happen to be in town, so I shall have to see if I can get hold of them and catch up.

I'm really keen to see what other teams have put together - this year's Jenni's Angels film sounds very cool indeed. Unfortunately our heat is a 9:15er, so I shall have a late night in the middle of this week. I keep waiting for a quiet week, and forgetting that down-time exists aplenty - it's called the middle of the holidays. I don't think we'll make it to the 9:15 Jenni's Angels heat (also a weeknight), so we shall have to make cunning arrangements to see their film (or go to the regional finals to see it, or wait for the national finals on C4 ;) )

Lastly, does anyone want 2 tickets to see High School Musical on Tuesday at 7.30pm? We have 2 spare tickets, and could fastpost them to you if you're keen.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

48 - Another Update

Well, it's 8:30pm on Saturday night. We've had one or two hitches (microphone that was tested and working at 7:30am not working on set 2 hours later, for no identifiable reason*; computer refusing to boot up at 10am despite having been fine 2 hours earlier**), but things have gone relatively smoothly.

We have finished shooting stuff, and have captured most of the footage. I'm now going to attempt to get an assemble edit put together before I get too tired/brain-fried to function: I figure that gives me no more than 3 hours.

So far, so good.

* We had a backup microphone - sadly not with us, so I had to drive home and get it.
** Computer now working, problem unknown.

Friday, May 18, 2007

48 So Far

Genre: Unnecessary Sequel
Character: Gerry Reid, a hypochondriac
Line: What do you call that?
Prop: A rope


2 Miss With Love

Sydney Poitier, a young female teacher, has just started work at what she believes to be a rough school. However, her father taught at the school a long time ago and completely changed the student body. There are no rough students, no bad behviour any more. Poitier tries to 'change' the students, but finds it disheartening as she is not really making a difference.

Eventually the students realise what the problem is, consult the guidance counsellor, and hatch a plan to make their teacher feel better. Bad behaviour ensues, and Poitier finds her purpose in life again.

Script = 75% written, and looking quite filmable.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

More Quotage

Robert Anton Wilson again:

What the alpha males had forgotten was that the science of weaponry had already evolved to the point where even a small minority of angry, rage-filled people could blow the whole planet to hell.

Even if they had understood this, it is doubtful that the alpha males would have tried to create a world in which it was impossible for anybody to get that angry. Such a goal would have seemed Utopian to them. They could not guess that it was actually a necessity on any advanced technological planet.

Reading en route to work continues to be the knees of a bee. At the current rate, I should be able to finish a couple of books per term just in the time it takes me to walk to school and back. That is awesome (and environmentally friendly!).

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Successful Screening

Last night's screening of our wee short film went pretty well. At least, the second screening did. Somehow the disc we had (DVD) had gotten really badly scratched between 8am and 6pm, so at the first screening there was much skipping in the second half of the movie. Luckily we had a back-up disc, so we swapped it out (with a short delay), and the film finished OK. We still don't know how the disc got so badly scratched, given that it was in a cover all day, but at least we had a backup (3 backups actually).

The second screening was to about 50-55 people (in the 60 seat cinema I was in - there were also people watching it in the 30 seater), and there was a very positive response. People laughed at (most of) the jokes, and even seemed a little creeped out by a couple of the death scenes. It was a great way to finish a project - with some positive feedback - and I'm very, very glad that I no longer have to work on that film. It ended up being 46 minutes long - we cut it back quite ruthlessly to get it as fast-paced as possible. We even cut out a whole scene at the start, just to get things moving more quickly.

Anyways, I am much relieved to have that over and done with. I am looking forward to watching some of the cast and crew interviews that some enthused students recorded last night, and deleting the ridiculous 170gb project off the hard drive.

Oh, and I've changed the blog to black, since Mundens wrote about Blackle. Small steps, but positive ones.

Monday, May 14, 2007

It's Monday!

That means 5 days to the weekend!

Yes, I have just about recharged my tiredness cache, after only 3 weeks of term. This means that I will be working at maximum tiredness for another 7 weeks.

I suspect that the 48 may not help on the tiredness front, but might be a good boost on the creativity side of things.

Now I must race to the staff room to drink water - having taught 3 lessons and run a detention already today means I haven't had much time to myself. And I ate a bunch of quite spicy bujah mix. Mmmm, spicy.


Friday, May 11, 2007

Friday's Quote

From my walking-to-school reading, Robert Anton Wilson's 'Universe Next Door' (Schrodinger's Cat):

"Right Wingers?" astronomer Bertha Van Nation was trilling. "We've got real Right Wingers out in Orange County. Let me tell you about the Committee to Nuke the Whales..."

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Awesome t-shirt

I got a pretty kick-ass present in the post yesterday - a t-shirt from the Christchurch Art Gallery with the image "From Mickey to Tiki tu meke" by artist Dick Frizzell printed on the front. My brother has good taste in t-shirts.

Reminder to self: leave school early enough to get home, collect mother's day present, and get it in the post. Posting the present is essential to it arriving.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Square Eyes


Spiderman 3 - Loved it. Laughed a lot at badass-emo-spidey.

Picadilly Jim - an enjoyable Wodehouse-based film which came out recently on DVD. Some minor modernizations, but wonderfully fun and quite 30's in feel.

Thirteen - a rambling tale of 'good girl gone bad'. Wasn't fun to watch, and didn't really open my eyes to much of anything - but I work with teenagers, and they aren't shy about talking about their escapades in class (to other students, but loud enough for the whole world to hear). Not a bad film, and one that I'd been curious about for a while, but not one I'd recommend to anyone either.

- a surprisingly fun French/Japanese action film starring Jean Reno. I was expecting action and crazy outfits, and the humour was a pleasant bonus.

Star Wars 3: Revenge of the Sith? Rise of the Sith? Something of the Sith anyway - there were parts of the film that I had no recollection of, since I saw it late one Friday at the cinema, and may have actually slept through some bits. On the whole, I quite liked it, but it was a weak, weak script in places, and some of the action scenes went on longer than was interesting for me. Still better than Phantom Menace.

No parent teacher interviews, evening shows, or other disruptions this week. Just a regular week of school. It's a little surprising how appealing this is - though I guess I was out and about on school business 2 evenings in each of the first 2 weeks, which is quite a time commitment.

Friday, May 04, 2007

One more quote, 2 more classes

"When marriage is outlawed, only outlaws will have in-laws"

Wonderfully silly stuff.

In other exciting (for me) news, I only have 2 classes between now and the weekend - one in a computer lab, with students beavering away on creative writing and reassessments, and one with my Y12 class looking at Shawshank Redemption. Neither of these should contain unpleasantness, and then it's weekend time for 2 glorious days. I expect to do a modicum of work (editing, gardening, laundry etc.), and a lot of not-doing-work. I suspect a trip to Porirua to see Spiderman 3 is on the cards too (most likely a morning session, as they're less crowded).

I walked to school both yesterday and the day before, in spite of forecasts of rain and yukkiness. I carried an umbrella (actually I wore it between my bag and back, sticking out to either side), but was pleased not to need it. I've read close to a hundred pages of the novel I'm reading this week during the walk to school. This is fantastic.

Lastly, I'll mention the fact that once people know you can do something, the chances of you being asked to do it increase dramatically. Far too many people at school now know that I'm reasonably good with technology (ie I can plug in a VCR), and I can edit and film stuff. Today some students asked me to edit a video-record of the school ball. This could get burdensome quickly - I think I need to train me a team of students to do the work for me. On the other hand, mulitcam editing in Premiere Pro 2 is apparently quite easy (real-time display of up to 4 cameras, with switching between them done by clicking or keyboard). This will make mixing cameras for live events much easier.

Now I go to tidy my office - it's looking a little embarrassingly messy. It's been a hectic couple of weeks, what with major production, Shakespeare festival (which was neat), and parent teacher interviews. But time has come to get tidy, dammit - or to get tidy enough that I don't feel ashamed of my workspace :)

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Because it's there

Today I spent 2 or 3 minutes trying to balance my umbrella with its tip in the palm of my hand. Because I happened to have an umbrella, and 2 minutes walking to do.

It was a surprisingly pleasant endeavour. Purposeless, slightly challenging (my umbrella-balancing skills leave a lot to be desired), and simple. I wonder whether I ought to do more pointless tasks, as there is a purity to the enjoyment derived from them.

I would generalise about boys here, and say that boys love setting themselves silly challenges for the hell of it. I would suggest that there's a charming simplicity to some male minds, and the entertainment that they can generate. But that would be me projecting my simple mind onto others, and reading their behaviour in a way that supports my own view of the world. And it would fail to acknowledge that girls share the same grey-matter as boys, and also participate in challenge-for-challenge-sake activities.

I have been reading the Historical Illuminatus trilogy on the way to and from work (one of the joys of walking - it allows an extra 10 to 15 minutes reading time each way). I am up to the wilderness diaries of the main character - fragments of thought from a character who has built a log cabin and taken to meditating and being, in isolation. There is much goodness in this section of the trilogy, and I will quote two small parts here:

"I am as unimportant to the ants as a man in China is unimportant to me. More: I can imagine the man in China. I doubt that the ants can imagine me."

"Today, suddenly, I encountered a quite large brown-ish bear in the woods. I was careful not to do anything threatening (I had my rifle, but did not want to be forced to shoot so noble a beast). Some ancient instinct told me not to run away. I pretended to ignore the huge animal, as if I had more important affairs on my mind. Then I saw out of the corner of my eye that the bear was doing exactly the same pantomime: he was using identical body signals - the same body "language," I might even say - to signify that I was not of any concern to a bear of his royal stature. We moved off, in opposite directions, all the time signaling that we were too busy to be bothered with lesser creatures. I would call this a case of Mask as body language."

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Progress made: a long way still to go

Show number one is about 70% assembled - actually, it's about 50/73rds assembled, whatever that works out to as a percentage.

Show number two may possibly go faster, as I should be able to get Adobe Premier Pro 2 installed on my laptop (my school's discs showed up again - now all I need is the serial number (which is neither on the discs nor the case).

Short film has been watched again, and notes made. Managed to tidy up the first 20 minutes to near-presentation level yesterday.