Monday, December 18, 2006

A Legend Dies, But His Work Lives On

Joseph Barbera died today of natural causes at 12:15pm at his home in Studio City. He was 95.

I have had the privelege of working at the same building as he did for about 5 years. (yes, he did still come into work!) I didn't have a lot of contact with him, but the handful of times I did speak with him, I'll always remember.

We are still producing spin-off shows based on the characters he created many decades ago. This year's variety is called "Shaggy and Scooby-Doo Get A Clue".

GO HERE to view a post I wrote about him in April.

Monday, December 04, 2006

My Trip To Outer Space

I have nothing new to report about the film industry right now, so I thought I'd treat you to some photos from a recent family vacation.

The view over Africa was spectacular.

Accomodations were provided by the Mir Luxury Resort.

We stopped off at a nearby moon. (light-side)

Even though there is just one set of footprints in the moon-sand, I know He's carrying me.

Me, going out to take some more pics.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


I saw this on a couple other blogs I read, and man this guy is awesome! He claims to not be able to play, but he is a composer just the same. Check out these editing chops!

Now that's a nice mixture of my two passions: drums and editing.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Go Speed Racer, GO!

I know this news is ‘sooo 10 days ago’, but I learned today that Larry and Andy Wachowski (writers and directors of “The Matrix” trilogy) are writing and will direct a live-action version of "Speed Racer".

Here’s an excerpt from the Hollywood Reporter article:
After years of idling, the big-screen, live-action version of "Speed Racer" is ready to zoom, this time with Larry and Andy Wachowski behind the wheel.

The Wachowski brothers are writing and will direct the movie, which will be produced by Joel Silver. "They are approaching these racing scenes in a way you've never seen before," said Silver. Silver also said that "Speed" would be family-friendly.

The plan is for the Wachowski’s to shoot in summer 2007 for a summer 2008 release.

I have been waiting for years for someone to get it together and make this film. “Speed Racer” was one of my favorite shows as a kid, so my level of anticipation is very high, and knowing what the Wachowski brothers are capable of, I also have a high-level expectation for quality .

I'm really looking forward to seeing who is becomes attached to play Speed and Racer X (Speed's estranged brother - don't tell anyone). More good news is that John Gaeta, responsible for the ground-breaking special FX in "The Matrix", is on-board as well.

It’ll feel like a long wait for this to come out, but I remember first hearing about the "Lord of the Rings" movies going into production. That felt like an eternity too, but now those films are already sitting on my shelf.

I guess I’ll have to figure out something to pass the time. Maybe I could modify my car to have a "Mach 5" steering wheel. My favorite button is "A". That's the one that deploys the 'jacks' that Sparky uses to work on the car, but Speed uses it to jump over just about anything in his path. "C" is a good one too. That one deploys the forward rotary-saws for heavily wooded terrain. I would use it to get through LA traffic faster.

Or, maybe I could modify my whole car into a working "Mach 5" replica. Honestly, who DOESN"T want one of these.

Summer 2008? I should be ready by then.

Go here for in-depth information and history of “Speed Racer”.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Drumming For A Lifetime, pt.5


Despite the focus on a sound design career and that silly "making a living" stuff, I have tried to keep my inner-drummer happy throughout the years. Since moving to LA, I've been fortunate to have several gigs and the occasional recording session.

For the last few months, the drummer in me has been screaming to get more slack in the leash. Luckily, I have a few cool playing opportunities coming up in the next couple of months.

In December, I will be reuniting for a couple of nights with a Dallas based band I played with several years ago. The band's name was The Calling. You can hear a few of the songs we recorded here. Some of the drum parts are a challenge, thus the bunker-down in the woodshed to get ready. (actually, it looks more like a small isolation booth in my studio)

When I played with The Calling, it was an era when I probably used "too many notes", as I criticized in my last "Drumming For A Lifetime" installment, but hey, it is what it is - and the music is fun to play, so I'll deal with it.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Here are a few of pics from (before) the halloween party we went to Saturday. Chana was a great (and fine-lookin') Poison Ivy. I was Henchman #17. (The previous 16 have been killed, thrown in prison or placed in long-term care at Arkham Asylum. I am hoping to have an extended run without having to face the Batman or any of his friends. I know that THIS time it's different for Ivy. She really cares about me...)

Micah offered Chana his snake Levi for the night, and it rounded out the costume perfectly. Most people at the shindig were happy to hang out with a live snake; something I wouldn't have been too keen on a few months ago.

A friend of ours was there dressed as Jesus, and I guess Levi recognized him, because when "Jesus" held Levi, he just contentedly wrapped around his arm and became very calm. Just goes to show ya, that Jesus really does hold dominion over all creatures, and they are naturally drawn to Him (or even a pretty good likeness).

[Now, don't comment to show me all of the obvious theological holes in my previous paragraph. But you can comment and tell me what your costume was this year!]

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Get the money. Get the girl. Get it all for free.
The mail came yesterday, and with it came a copy of my friend's new novel.

Adam Palmer just recently had his novel "Mooch" published and released. Back when I lived in Tulsa, we had many musical adventures together; many live ones, and some when I recorded his band's demos in my recording studio.

He's one of those guys that is funny, who is just naturally cool, and has potential running out of his ears. Refreshing thing is; he's one of the few guys like that who's actually doing something with those gifts.

I was allowed to read the book before it was printed, as I was asked to give an endorsement. Why me? Because I'm known the world over as an authority on good writing. No, that's not it. Actually, I have no idea why I was asked, but I'm glad that I was.

At first, as you can probably imagine, I was nervous to read it. I have become accustomed to Adam's writing talent and know what he is capable of, but what if my friend's book stunk? Not surprisingly however, my worry was short-lived, because the sideways humor paired with the inspiring story grabbed me from start to finish.

I became happier for Adam the further I read, knowing that his great talent was about to be released to the masses. Good for the masses.

Get a copy of "Mooch"for yourself HERE.

Other books by Adam include:
Taming A Liger: Unexpected Spiritual Lessons From Napoleon Dynamite, and Cracking DaVinci's Code, Student Edition.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


I found a great article on It's about prolific photographer Philippe Halsman and his book called Philippe Halsman's Jump Book.

Apparently, he photographed everyone noteworthy in his day, and during a six year period from '52 thru '58, he asked his subjects to jump at the end of their session and he would shoot it.

The pictures really inspire me in several ways. He probably had no trouble getting the Hollywood crowd into the act, but he also had people like Nixon, Churchill, and Einstein jumping for him.

People who were not thought of as the playful type were jumping for a photograph.

Deep down, I have to believe that no matter who the person was he had jumping, they HAD to feel like a kid again, even if just for half a second.

That thought makes me smile just as much as the pictures do. It makes me want to jump too ... there, that was fun. Unfortunately, no one got that one on film, but the cat sure looked at me funny.

There's something about the single act of jumping, or playing in a simple way like that, that I feel if I can do that, I can look at my "grown-up" work in a fresh way, no matter what I'm approaching. Sound, film, music.

Maybe it can change my approach when playing with my own kids? Who knows.

When is the last time you did something that made you feel (in a good way) like a kid again? Have you recently played with a toy, or skipped a stone, or watched a cartoon, or eaten Bugles off the tips of your fingers?

Whatever it is, go ahead.

It might feel weird at first, but I'm sure you'll enjoy that familiar feeling.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Skywalker Sound

I just learned that Skysound has totally revamped their WEBSITE. Now you can take a virtual tour of the Technical Building (below), which is where most of the editing and mixing takes place. Unfortunately, I can't link you straight to the tour, so just go to the website link above, then click on "About Skywalker Sound", then select "Technical Bldg. Tour". You'll need quicktime player to view the tour. The rest of the site is cool too, so enjoy.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Winter Sports in SoCal

A few weeks back, our oldest son, Micah (13), went to a LUGE tryout. They are going around the country looking for the future athletes that will populate the sport. Funny. Why don't they just start with mental tests? I mean, you can hit 85+ mph on these things.

In my head, it plays like this on team selection:
Luge guy with clipboard stands in front of group. "Okay everybody, raise your hand if you are nuts."

"One, two, three, umm... good." (Scribbles down a note on his clipboard)

"Okay, raise your hand if remaining in one piece is NOT important to you."

"One, two... right." (More notes onto clipboard)

"Okay, raise your hand if you are willing to fly down a mountainside Luge track that has a vertical drop of 30 stories at almost 90 mph laying flat on what feels like a 2 by 4 on a kitchen knife while grinning the whole way...

Alright Micah, welcome to the team." (Final scribble: 'note to self, watch out for tall skinny kid.')

The course was on a hill, using a sled with roller-blade wheels, and the driver had to steer down the hill using only their shoulders, legs, and guts. Micah did well, and they seemed impressed by his quick abilities to learn how to control the sled. If he's selected among 50-60 other potentials across the country, he will have the chance to go to a Lake Placid training camp. There they assess further, etc.

The local newspaper did an ARTICLE about the tryout. Of course, they interviewed my wife 'cause she's pretty. Who knows? Maybe one day we'll have an Olympian in the family. I never would've guessed it would involve the LUGE though.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Films of Mitchell Rose

Here is a website full of hilarious short films. I met this man at a Final Cut users group meeting last night. Go to Mitchell's site and see his stuff.

Make sure you see at the very least, "Case Studies from the Groat Center for Sleep Disorders" and "Learn To Speak Body: Tape 5". Though all of his stuff is great.

Have fun!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Mr. Mangy Rabbit

When you drive through Hollywood, you see many interesting things.

This was taken by Chana from our car (please forgive the phone-camera quality) at the corner of Hollywood and Highland, in front of the Kodak Theatre. He was sitting on his duffle bag and waving to people as they walked by. Most people gave him (it?) a wide berth. I've seen him (we'll call him "Mr Mangy Rabbit") down there once or twice since then, and his act has been pretty much the same everytime.

It doesn't add up, since all of the other street performers stationed there are doing amazing feats. Maybe I'm catching him during breaks all the time? Maybe he has special tricks he does. Perhaps he juggles, twirls fire, or has a team of trained pomeranians in his bag. I may never know, 'cause he's always sitting on that duffle when I'm there. I could speculate for hours, but no one needs to read that.

Next time you're in Hollywood, drop by to see Mr. Mangy Rabbit and tell him I said "S'up Doc?"

Sunday, September 24, 2006

One Day...

I sit in an Aeron chair (like the above) everyday at Warner Bros. It's funny. They seem to have them everywhere except in the bathroom stalls. I'm used to them, and I think I love them.

Unfortunately, my home studio furniture budget ran out when it came to the chair, and since I'm sitting in this "Office Depot Special" at least as much as my WB chair, my body thinks it's being punished half of the time.

One day my home studio chair will be put out to pasture, and I will graduate to the Aeron dream chair 24/7. (Problem is, I haven't figured out how to sneak one home yet.)

My chair at home:

Friday, September 22, 2006

Drumming For A Lifetime, pt.4

Too Many Notes

When I was starting to learn the drumset, I was proud of every cool new beat or crazy fill I learned (either from lessons or from drummer-friends). At the age of 16, I thought it was important everytime I sat behind the drums that everyone hear them ALL, without regard to what the other musicians happened to be playing. It seemed understood that they were there only as a vehicle for me to showcase my stuff.

Thankfully while playing with many musicians through the next few years of high school and college, I learned that this style wasn't necessarily what everyone was looking for.

"What? If you've got the chops, flaunt 'em", I thought.

Soon enough (and to the joy of all who played with me), I started learning what PLAYING FOR THE MUSIC was all about, and how it began to shape my style and approach. I grew to love the concept behind having the ability to go nuts, and the control over knowing WHEN, IF EVER, to do that.

PLAYING FOR THE MUSIC - v. The act of playing one's instrument in a manner suitable to the musical style of a song or arrangment, without drawing attention to one's self by adding supposedly impressive musical embellishments in an non-supportive way to the other players during the song or arrangement.

This does not include the sometimes called-upon act of playing an instrumental solo (a.k.a. "taking a ride") during a pre-arranged portion of the piece.

The point: What does the song need? What is it asking for? Meat and potatoes, or salsa and jalapenos. If the part you're playing is too boring for you, then spice it up with some good timing, or a zesty portion of feel. Just how fat can you make that backbeat? What is (or what should) your hi-hat be doing right now? Are you and the bass player locked in? Not all of your parts have to cook in the same way. Sometimes the most impressive thing you can do is stay out of the way of everyone else.

Don't think I'm not any fun, because when the song calls for big fills and heavy chops, then you better deliver or you'll be out of place all over again.

The trick to learning good drumming 'taste', is by listening to great drummers - a lot. What are they doing in the song? How are they treating it? Are they putting down a good foundation and playing fills that match the style of the song, or are they in their own world, filling every possible space with a flurry of meaningless fluff. It's not really that hard to tell if you pay attention. Sometimes, when I am out listening to a band, the only phrase that goes through my head is "Too Many Notes".

Important: Making me think this is not your goal.

As I get older, my chops aren't what they used to be in my 20's and 30's. (though, they ain't half bad either) But, I do feel like I'm a better player because of 'taste'. For me, it's something that I hope to nurture 'til I can't play any longer.

If you think you may be an offender of these rules (and we all have at some time), just remember there are legends that have also been accused of using "too many notes", so there's hope for you.

(however, Wolfie can do pretty much what he wants)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Inspiration For Editing

I double-checked, and I was actually surprised to find that I have not blogged about "The Cutting Edge - The Magic of Movie Editing" yet. I first saw this documentary around Christmas '05, have watched it a few times, and have since then bought several copies of it and given them away.

In short, it is a terrific history of the profession of movie editing. It discusses the first editors, and the risks they took to push forward the craft. It talks about the studio system of old, and how editors have come from the chop-shop cutter, to the director's right hand in post-production. Today, film editors have unprecedented say and creative input in the making of a movie - but it wasn't always so.

(Disclaimer: there is a shot showing too much of Sharon Stone from the movie "Basic Instinct", and though it made it's point about the editing of that scene well enough, I thought you deserved a heads-up. So, screen it before you decide to put it on for the high school film class.)

That said, I still highly recommend this film as an 'editing history and techniques primer', as well as a look at today's best editors and directors giving their insights into movie making and the working relationships they share. Check out this documentary if you haven't already seen it. It will inspire editors to further greatness, and compel those who aren't editors to become one.

Friday, September 08, 2006

A Cool Site For The Percussion Enthusiast

I used to be a member of PAS (Percussive Arts Society) when I was in school at North Texas. It was a great resource for information, but I really liked it because we took the NT drumline to the conventions every year to compete. Those were some fun road trips.

One year, my friend Dale Baker and I drove the equipment van up to St Louis. Good times. We won that year for an unprecedented four titles in five years.

(BTW: the only reason it wasn't four out of four is that after the third year, they told us we couldn't compete the next year, only be exhibition. After that year we were allowed back in the competition. Basically we ruled, but we were also extremely humble for a group of college students. Right.)

Anyway, It's been forever since I've been on their website. I went tonight and found some really interesting stuff that took me back to my college days. THIS PAGE is full of links to drumset, marimba, snare and timpani patterns similar to what we used to play for warm-ups on those instruments.

The music is written out and there are nifty audio files you can play right from the page to hear them played down. They are created with cheesy keyboard samples, but the exercises are still good and challenging.

There is also a page with all 40 standard drum rudiments (there were just 26 in my Jr. High days). They are the cornerstone of all drumming; as they deal with stick control and precision.

So, get out your practice pad, your metronome, and your marching sticks.
Remember to keep all your fingers on the stick.
Bend mostly at the wrists, not the elbows.
Play in the center of the head, and play through the head. (conceptually, of course)
When possible, count out loud.

Now, doesn't that sound nice?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

“Hoodwinked” Opens At A Theater (not) Near You

One of the most fun projects I have been a part of to date, "Hoodwinked" is opening in the United Kingdom on Sept 29, 2006.

[Above] I found this UK “Hoodwinked” poster. I immediately noticed the simplicity in comparison to the US version [below]. There are no actor’s listed, no production credits, and there’s a lack of background graphics clutter like in the US poster.

I also noticed that Twitchy’s camera flash is flashing in the UK poster. Not to give away anything, but that happens in the movie. His flash does go off. Maybe that is an attractive element in UK advertising? Again, I admit marketing ignorance here. The UK poster is less fun than the US version, but it is definitely more to the point. (I realize that there could be many versions of the UK poster however)

**Side note: I don’t understand the distribution process for a movie, but it seems strange to me that they would wait until AFTER the movie is already out on DVD in the US before releasing it in theaters in another English speaking country like the UK. I know that the two countries use different DVD standards, but that can be gotten around. Piracy doesn’t seem to be any respecter of formats. **

Anyway, it’s a very fun movie, so if you never got to see it in the theaters in the US, and you can’t find a Walmart to buy the DVD, then just go and see it “Brit” style with all those jolly chaps and bonny lasses across the pond. It’ll be worth the cost of your airline tickets, security probes, and sodas sans ice.

The director, Cory Edwards, went to the UK and promoted it for about ten days or so. Check out HIS BLOG to read about his adventures there. Also, consider showing him your support by going to one of the theatres in Britain on opening weekend. I would go, but I’ve seen it and I have the DVD too, but I still think you should go and stuff.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Back At WB

Well, I'm back working at Warner Bros. Their slow summer is at an end, and now there are more shows to cut. I'll be working at WB Animation on two returning animated shows: "The Batman" and "Loonatics Unleashed", and on two new shows: a group of young teen super-heroes form the "Legion of Super-Heroes", and a new look for the Scooby crew debuts in "Shaggy and Scooby-Doo Get A Clue".

I'll also be beginning the audio restoration process on Volume 5 of The Looney Tunes Classics DVD's. So, there'll be 60 more vintage shorts to do.

We finished Vol 4 in June, so look for it to be coming out this November 14. It's a great collection!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Great Summer Summary

So many things have been going on this summer, that I've had an opportunity to blog about only a few of them. So, now that summer is coming to a close, here are a few highlights of what we've been busy doing.

A big highlight was our trip to San Diego. (Above: Chana and Maddie on the west side of Coronado Island. Below, Chana at the Hotel Del Coronado.) We spent a lot of time playing around on that Island.

Touring the USS Midway...

This is the HMS Surprise. It appeared in the movie "Master and Commander". We could've toured it, but the kids were starting to melt down. Another trip I suppose.

A trip to Sea World...

We took the 'Behind the Scenes Tour'. I don't know what was uglier; the squids or the eels we fed the squids to.

Back home, we went to a few concerts. A U2 tribute band played locally. (Notice Chana's hat on "Bono" for this song. The kids felt like they really saw U2, so I won't rub it in to them of how great the U2 "Joshua Tree" tour was in '88.)

If you ever get the chance to see the Spazmatics, do it. They're a really good band on top of being hilarious.

Wrap that up with a trip to the Ventura County fair (watch out for that cabbage smell), and then we locked the kids up at Six Flags.

And last but not least, Maddie celebrated her 4th birthday Aug 15th.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Drumming For A Lifetime, pt.3

One Day, Two Conversations

Most of the time, you don’t realize how pivotal moments are when they happen. This is a story about one of those times.

As I was relating the story to my 13 year-old son of how I got into playing the drums, I thought about the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the events. Not to mention the repercussions.

Setting: Bowie, TX. Population ~5,000 people. Jr.High School.
August, 1978.

All through our 7th Grade year, my friends and I had dreamed of starting a rock band just like “KISS”. (don't ask, but we were into them)

So, the first day of school of my 8th Grade year, I decided to break through the impenetrable barrier from full-time jock to legendary rock-and-roll drumming god… in the school band.

This is where the “two conversations” thing comes in:

Conversation #1

Jr. High Band Hall -
The band was sitting in normal half-circle fashion, rookies (including myself) were sitting along the side while the director, Mr. Gray, was giving short interviews in order to find out what the new members wanted to play.

Mr. Gray: (looking at me like I was lost) “So, what would you like to play?”

Me: “Drums.”

Mr. Gray: (looking over his shoulder at the long row of drummers already in his very small band) “Oh boy… well, it looks like I’m already overloaded with drummers.”

(He thinks for a second, then looks over his other shoulder.)
“I could really use a tuba player though.”

Me: “Um, no thanks, I just want to play the drums.”

Mr. Gray: “I’m sorry Mark, but I just can’t take on anymore drummers right now.”

Bummed, I leave and decide that I will be an 'air-drummer' for the rest of my life.

Conversation #2

At the end of the day, I was running late for the bus, so I was hauling-it down the stairs from my locker to the first floor. Seeing no one in sight, I almost blind-side none other than Mr. Gray walking down the hallway at the bottom of the steps.

Mr. Gray: “Whoa! Hey there Mark.”

Me: “Oh, hi. Uh, sorry.”

He turns.

Me: “Um, Mr. Gray? If any of the drummers quit, will you let me know?”

Mr. Gray: (thinks) “If you want to play that bad, show up tomorrow.”

Our lives are SO linear - in that one experience leads to another, and to another, and so on. And as I told this story to my son, I realized a great many things might not have happened had I not seen Mr. Gray at the end of that day:

1) I might not have ever stuck my neck out again and tried to join a band, therefore I might have never learned the drums.
2) I might not have gone to college and gotten a music degree.
3) I might not have grown in my faith, 'cause I grew as I played drums at church.
4) I might not have met my wife, since we met at a gig where she was opening for the band I was playing in.
5) I might not have had the opportunity to travel to many cool places in the world and play.
6) I might not have opened up a recording studio.
7) I might not have transitioned my career to post-production sound, and eventually moved to California.
8) On and on, etc, etc.

I was so moved by this line of thought, I looked Mr. Gray up, and thanked him for being at the right place at the right time, and for giving me a chance.

Maybe there was more than one road to where I am and what I’m doing today. God only knows that, but I’m glad I almost ran over Mr. Gray that day.

Friday, August 11, 2006

World 3-D Film Expo II

I just heard about this recently. If you're in the LA area, you should think about taking in part of this festival. It's taking place at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, Sept 8-17th.

I'm planning on going on the 16th. The line-up that day is incredible.

For instance: there is an animation segment showing lots of 3-D classic cartoons, and one of the special guests will be the one and only Jerry Beck. He is one of the foremost authorities on classic animation alive today.

Also, the movie "Charge At Feather River", where the "Wilhelm" scream got it's name, is showing. I can't wait to see (and hear) that!

Thanks to Steve Lee for informing me of this great festival!