Archive for July, 2008


Why not Cinelook?

July 31, 2008

I was thinking about this post the other day…

Stefan Sargent really hated using Cinelook (a plugin for After Effects).  And he was right, at the time.

Computers were slower back in those days – which would make the wait for each frame of the movie to render out slow death for anybody not acquainted with long render times per frame (as an aside – I seem to recall each frame of Starship Troopers animation needing 24 hours to render – not surprising at all, considering how many “passes” it takes to make a believable CGI animation.)

But as to discarding Cinelook as a tool, simply because it takes a long time to render out a movie?  I have to disagree with that!

Back in the day, I was preparing to use Cinelook to do a feature (this was before the advent of 24P video).  We low-budget filmmakers need to trade time for money often, and so this was “a match made in heaven”.  Shoot the movie in regular video, Cinelook the selects, then cut these into your final cut.

And even if you don’t like the time involved, Cinelook still has some of the best presets to make video look like film, in my opinion. Even moreso, if you consider people shooting HD video for their projects nowadays; with Cinelook, you could shoot (in theory) “Standard-Def” video, Cinelook it, then cut it into your movie. Same as you might cut a blow-up of Super 8 and cut it into to your 16mm film back in the day…

Look here…(and no, I’m not gay, that guy in the thong just was in the shot).  This is “normal” video – it might be hard to tell with YouTube’s compression…

And here’s one of Cinelook’s 35mm presets…

An 8mm preset without damage…

But film damage does have some use once in a while – Artistic License, flashbacks, & such… 

It’s even got some really fun presets…

So, Sargent doesn’t like the tool.  Doesn’t mean the tool it completely useless (especially nowadays).


On Mike Vanderboegh’s letter

July 26, 2008

To the Capital Times no less…

I’m aware of the storm of opinion that this letter has caused (see David Codrea and Kevin Baker for more, and more succinct debate).  I also agree with Billy Beck in a comment on the controversy:

Every time I ever see this discussion, I can count on a goodly number of people saying that “we’re not there yet”. The only only that they can really say with authority is that they are not “there yet”. Nobody can determine someone else’s threshold of outrage: the point where what could be lost in violence is not worth would could be gained. In the very same way that the socialists are wrong when they presume someone else’s values, it’s no good for some to say to others, “we’re not there yet”. This is an arbitrary presumption of what someone else should live with in the man-made arena of politics. (That last point is important: “life is not fair” platitudes don’t cut it, here.)

For my part (and I know that writing this here does meet with David Codrea’s contempt, as I blog here anonymously)

UPDATE – David Codrea responds (very graciously, too)

I do agree with Vanderboegh – people  must, from time to time, be reminded that they don’t speak of outlawing something like Jarts or trans fats – but weapons, obects specifically enumerated by the Constitution, and there will be some who will react to their banning with violent force should it be attempted.

And any God that may or may not exist grant that I do not have to respond in that fashion.

On the political wisdom of the timing of the letter, well, aside from the almost certainty that the Times will use the letter to paint us as maniacs – so what else is new, right? – such things need to be said.

I’d rather not spend hours out of my weekend and funds I could be using to make a movie on ammo and gas to get to the range.  But I prep anyway – because the time Vanderboegh writes of might be coming, sooner than I think, and I want to be ready should that horrible day come.

Thomas Berna


Review – Guardians (2006)

July 23, 2008

(In the interest of full disclosure – I know a couple of people who worked on this movie.)

Here’s another “near miss” movie for your consideration.  This one has a team of paranormal exterminators led by Alex Lovecraft (Shannon Watson) cleaning up bucolic Twilight Cove from the mosters unleashed by Dr. Strand (Bryce Lord).

The movie, written & directed by Drew Maxwell, has a script that’s a little clunky at times, but gets the job done – there was an interesting choice with one of the characters; the Guardians bring alond a bald, psychic kid (Nick Driessen) who they use as a human evil detector.  The Boy never gets much in the line of character development, just a few references as to who’ll take care of him.

The movie also has some kickass effects for the budget…

but the whole film (including the nice cinematography by Lance Catania) is hampered by the “video” look of the production itself.  I realize that 24P video is a relatively new development for the Indie filmmaker, but at this juncture, is not an option – everybody has to use it.  I believe that the feel of “video” will ultimately doom this production to something on the bottom of the CV of everybody involved.


I’m pretty sure that “warm liquid goo step” isn’t included in my reloading manual…


Wombah! Wotta rant!

July 21, 2008

More ammo for the film vs. video crowd –

One has to admire such staunch feelings in the war between film & video – but the bottom line should be: Will it get me closer to finishing my project?


Do not taunt Happy Funball…or Colorodo PoPo

July 17, 2008

How dare they?! Seriously, HOW DARE THEY?!



July 16, 2008

Every once in a while, I’ll see a film that was a near miss.  Could be something with a big budget (like Ang Lee’s Hulk) or something smaller.  Something that gets some of the broad strokes right, but misses on the little things that would make the movie a little more memorable.  Such is the case with Winterbeast.

The movie, by Christopher Thies, owes a helluva lot to Jaws and Poultergeist for its plot – ancient Indian evil fought by fish-out-of-water Forest Ranger. I could see faint glimmers of something good in the dreck: and what a lot of dreck there was.

I didn’t have time to listen to the commentary on the disc, so I don’t know all of the details, but I surmise that, due to a lack of money for film, they didn’t do a lot of setups.  Much of the cinematography seemed to be “set up the camera, and hopefully we’ll get around to getting insert shots when we find more cash.”  Not the best way to build suspense…

The special makeup and visual FX might have been better, had they not seemed to be tacked onto the film in order to pad the running time.  I have to hand it to Thies for having stop-motion in his film at all – back in the antediluvian days of 1991, CGI was absolutely out of the budget of anybody not working for ILM.

The thing is, you can see the stop-motion getting better throughout the film.  If Thies had just held off on some of this until later in the film, it would have been a welcome surprise.  As it stands, though, the work that appears in the beginning of the film seems like camera tests from somebody just getting their feet wet.

There was a genuine spooky moment in the movie too, thanks to the performance of Bob Harlow, as the rich townie who doesn’t want his lodge shut down due to the deaths in the forest – the quality of the film and what they have him do near the end of the movie plot-wise had some serious creepitude to it…

And Thies has an innovative way of disposing of Harlow’s character.  Is he done with his exposition? Excellent…then have his head burst into flames!!!

Which brings me to my final remark on the movie – it takes a real commitment to your vision to write something like this into your movie;

Actual Dialog:

“(The medicine man) said I might be needing this someday…”

Yes, that’s a rubber dildo in the box.


Appleseed Qualify 8

July 15, 2008


Just before things fell apart last Saturday – I keep this up, maybe I can go back to an Appleseed shoot after all!