Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Exciting Weekend

Dom had a very exciting weekend featuring:

A too-cool day at Belmont which led to being very deeply asleep by the time we got home. He stayed asleep from the car to the bed, and didn't wake up until 1.30am :-)

Vacuuming with Dad - all kinds of fun, but murder for his dad's puny arms.

Storytime with Henry and Lily, while video editing for an assignment took place in the office. Dom was very impressed with all Monday's visitors, and enjoyed many rounds of hide and seek.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Top 5 Youtube Evil League of Evil Applications

OK, so I definitely haven't watched all of the Evil League of Evil applications on youtube - I've really only dipped my toe in. There are hundreds of videos, so this list is really a top 5 of the ones I've personally watched. I have left out our entry (Baby Hurricane), which would have taken out my top spot for obvious reasons :-)

Number 5: Grayscale

A simple setup, and not the only entry from this user, I put grayscale here for two reasons. Firstly I enjoyed the deadpan performance, and secondly the list in the song made me giggle. When I looked back over all the entries I'd watched, this one stood out as having both a memorable schtick, and a fun song.

Number 4: The Destroyer

Who doesn't love evil cats? This video uses a similar approach to ours - film a cute family member and record suitable voiceover. I particularly enjoyed the quality of the voice (acting and recording), and the sidekick Fat Cat.

Number 3: The Pint Size Pirate

Cute kid pirate raids the community for booty? Mayor kidnapped and forced to work as cabin boy? This was awesome. Lovely to see what appeared to be a whole family getting involved in an entry, and a very charismatic character.

Number 2: The Evil Robot

Loved this costume - a brilliant look, awesome evil eyebrow attachments, and very well timed execution of gags in the cutaway shots. The Evil Robot would make a great member of the ELE.

Number 1: Baby Hurricane
Oh, wait, I said I wouldn't include our entry. Sorry.

Real Number 1: Pocket Paradox

A very charismatic lead actor, some amusing gags with a banana, and a brilliant ending made this an early and enduring favourite. I think it was one of the first few entries I watched, and I was highly impressed.

Those are my current 5 favourite youtube entries for the ELE. There are a lot of entries I haven't seen, and some of my all-time favourites are on vimeo so not listed here (The Embezzler obviously, plus Vagabond, Tur-mohel etc). But these early gems are ones I have a lot of time for. Well done and good luck to the creators :-)

Monday, October 20, 2008

We made a top 10 list!

Twice :-)

Both Embezzler and Baby Hurricane are on there (in the writer's top 10 Vimeo applications)

Friday, October 17, 2008

More on making Evil League of Evil Applications

Morgue has blogged about the process of making The Embezzler, and I thought rather than leaving any more lengthy comments on his blog I might write a little about it here.

Jon had written an excellent though slightly long script for a short film, and had arranged for several people to help out with the filming. The script had several scenes - an initial interview, a song, a heist and a final interview. None of the scenes was overly long, but it looked like it might run to 6 or 7 minutes rather than 3. Debbie was going to play one of the characters, which was very exciting, but it also meant that filming would have to be very quick so we could get back home in time for Dom's bedtime routine.

As Morgue has said, people arrived at Jon's at 10am, read through the script, and started looking at ways to simplify it to get it down to 3 minutes. When Debbie, Dom and I arrived just after 11am this process was still underway, along with prop making. We chatted, checked out Jon's apartment with its awesome balcony, and looked for useful things to do.

Green Felt
The first useful thing we found to do was help construct Jon's costume. As we'd learned from making With Mighty Power, it's possible to make pretty cool superhero logos from sticky-backed, coloured felt. We'd bought 4 different colours when we did that film and had only used two, so we threw the leftovers into our bag o'stuff to take to Jon's. He'd been meaning to spraypaing $ signs onto his suit, but the silver hairspray he wanted to use wasn't thick enough on the day to effectively $ sign up his suit. While Dom crawled all over the place, played with Debbie, Morgue, Margie, Cecile and Ming, and generally got really excited about being in a new place with new people, I started cutting out green felt $ signs. I did them freehand, and they didn't turn out too hideous :-) After showing Jon the first one and getting approval I got some help from Ming and Cecile, who'd finished making the paper shield (which ended up being cut from the script).

Script Doctoring
Morgue and Margie were already deep in thought when we arrived, trying to come up with a way to stay true to Jon's vision but simplify things down to 3 minutes. It's not an easy thing to do, and Debbie and I started making suggestions to further complicate matters :-)

As I said on Morgue's blog we were helped by two significant factors:

1. Jon's script was cool. We were just trying to simplify it.
2. Jon really owned the project - his character, his script, his apartment :-) We all knew our job was to make Jon happy, so that was going to be our ultimate measure of success.

Going through the major beats of the script, trying to hone in on what was essential, and having some back and forth on how to get where we needed to go was an interesting process. Both Margie and Morgue then went away and wrote their own cut-down versions of the script, which I thought was an excellent idea. Having two takes on the idea was great. I went and got some Subway (a LOT of subway) for Debbie and me to eat.

When Jon and Jarratt got back from their props run Morgue and Margie pitched their takes on the script, I mumbled a few comments, and Jon and Jarratt gave their feedback. There was some discussion around how to move into the final section, and then someone mentioned the idea of 'speak to my lawyer' being a phone call, and it all seemed to fall into place.

Costuming, learning lines, ordering pizza and tidying up the apartment ensued. It was later in the day than I'd hoped, but momentum was building up. Jarratt started unloading camera gear, and Dom enthusiastically climbed over all the bags and cases.

When filming started Dom was looking pretty wired, but was more than due for a nap, so I took him down to the car and grabbed the stroller, and he was asleep within 5 minutes of starting on our walk. I didn't want to stray too far as there were ominous clouds overhead, so I prowled about the neighbourhood sending encouraging text messages and pushing my own personal script agenda (getting Jon to say 'I'm getting in on an evil technicality' and do a little dance). When it started spitting I headed back to the car, and Dom woke up as I transferred him to the car seat.

We went out and did a little shopping, then returned to base. I hung out with Morgue and had crawling races with Dom in the corridor, then caught up with the crew for an ETA on finishing Debbie's shots. They were close, so I took the wee one out for a bite to eat, then returned to pick up Debbie and head home. Dominic was really excited by the whole day, new people and places and his fun afternoon with his dad. We thought he'd probably snooze on the way home, but he was far too full of smiles and energy. He did eventually get to sleep when we got home, but he still gets really excited whenever he watches the Embezzler :-)

Jarratt both shot and edited the film, and was a fantastic person to work with. Debbie was impressed by his speed and the confidence he instilled in the team. When it came to editing, I naggingly suggested he make an itty-bitty version of the film (a compressed wee file) that he could send through for feedback. Using a cool website (yousendit.com) he sent through at least 4 versions of the film, from the second day rough cut (3 minutes 17 without song) to increasingly polished versions of the film. Morgue, Jon, Debbie and I all made suggestions, Debbie made the Lairs logo, and it really felt like a team effort (with Jarratt doing all the work, but being very open to suggestions).

So, it was a very cool experience which Dom, Debbie and I all loved. Not something we could do often, but very satisfying. And I'm very proud of our little movie!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Friday, October 10, 2008

Debbie is famooser!

Debbie, Jon and Morgue all rock in this awesome ELoE application video we helped make - The Embezzler!

Evil League of Evil Application: The Embezzler from Jarratt Gray on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Hurricane Dominic on the loose

Dominic's application to join the Evil League of Evil is now up on Youtube. We will probably post it on vimeo soon as well, so interested parties (ie grandmothers) can download the file, should they wish to:

EDIT: http://www.vimeo.com/1909232 - downloadable version

We had to cut a bit of backstory which didn't really fit in, about a fight between The Hurricane and Father Time, accompanied by his sidekick Baby New Year. Baby New Year, without a nappy on, unleashed his 'fountain of youth', which turned The Hurricane into the baby seen in the video. It was a cute joke, but too slow to set up/explain. The pictures I drew for it are kind of neat though:

And the revenge plan:

Monday, October 06, 2008

Fixing a window latch

Over the past year and a half I've been making small steps towards replacing a missing window latch. It's a long time to take, but now that it's fixed I am a very, very happy camper.

It's a latch on an aluminium frame, and what was there when I started was:

- two holes in the outer frame where a spacer thing used to be.
- the bottom bit of the handle, rivetted in place. The handle itself was nowhere to be seen, just the housing.

How I fixed it:

- bought the wrong kind of latch. Swapped it for another wrong kind.
- Let 6 months pass
- Let a year pass
- Looked up how to remove rivets on the internet. Found out that you get a drill, and drill the head off the rivet. The remainder can then be pushed back through the hole to fall out the non-head side
- Drilled the head off one rivet. Success! Drilled the head off the other rivet
- Used a flat-headscrewdriver to prise the old latch-housing off the frame. This required more force than I expected
- Used a voucher to get the right kind of latch
- Realised that the aliminium frame is a closed frame with two parts screwed together, so you can't see the backs of the rivets
- Discovered that the rivets were wedged in like crazy anyway and not about to be pushed anywhere
- Unscrewed the bottom of the frame only to find that it's not just screwed together. There's something else holding the two parts together (something I didn't want to break and then be unable to put back together)
- grabbed pliers and twisted one rivet vigorously, trying not to break the window or bend the frame. It loosened up
- snipped most of the shaft of the rivet off with brute force and some cutters, then poked it back through the hole. This means there's a little rattly bit of metal inside the window frame, but window frames don't move around too much so it's no big deal.
- Repeated for the second rivet
- Discovered that the screws that came with the latch were the wrong size for the rivet holes, and that none of the screws I had lying around the house would do the job
- Bought an assorted pack of screws from the $1, $2, $3 shop - and was pleasantly surprised to find some that fit really well!
- Screwed on the new latch
- Put a new spacer on the outside frame (with a self-adhesive backing strip, so really easy)


Saturday, October 04, 2008


Dom usually has showers with me or baths with Debbie, but with grandma helping he had a solo bath last week, with a photographer on hand to document the occasion with tastefully composed shots :-)