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!

Friday, August 04, 2006

A Spotlight On The Ambience

In Film/TV sound, you place ambient sound effects (aka: backgrounds) in scenes to enhance the impression of the time of day, the scene's location, mood or feeling, etc. This would include effects like birds, wind, traffic, crowd voices, and many more, depending on the structure of the scene you're building. It is also the best way to describe many unspoken things in the scene subliminally.

If it's designed well, the movie fan won't give it a thought, but just accept that it was the sound that was picked up on location. There are times when background ambiences are supposed to play a more obvious role - to spook us with a scary drone, or overwhelm us with raging waters so we feel suffocated, etc - but 99% of the time, background sound effects are meant to be just that - background and invisible.

Another type of "background" in Film/TV production is the use of background performers. We don't think about them when we watch a movie, but if they weren't there, the show would seem empty. Just like background sound effects, they're vital, but we rarely notice them.

Funny that you DON'T notice something when it's there, but you DO notice it when it's not!

I'm going to be working on a feature documentary titled "Strictly Background" for about a week. It's based on ten career Hollywood extras. I found it fascinating and wanted to be a part. Hopefully Jason Connell, the creator and director of the doc will have success in getting it widely distributed. Watch the trailer.