Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Have We Taken This Technology Too Far?

I saw this short, and it was pretty eye-opening. Tell me what you think about it.

Click here to see the short film. (it's about 1 minute)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Sigur Ros - Glosoli

I have been wanting to share this with you guys for some time now, but have never gotten around to it. I won't describe too much and let you form your own opinion.

Please allow yourself 7 uninterrupted minutes and wear good headphones if possible. (If none are available, then crank it up!) When "the Triibe" played in Spain last year, we used this as our opener.

I am continually inspired by this video.

The Sigur Ros official site

Here is a page you can go to and stream a very good quality version of this video (much better quality than the youtube link too). You can choose high quality Quicktime or Windows Media under the "streaming links" heading. Choose the highest and wait for it to load in - it's worth it. While you're there, you can read the Q&A with the cinematographer, it's very interesting.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Oscar Nominations Handed Out Today

This morning, the Academy released it's list of nominees for the 79th Academy Awards show. You can see the complete list of nominees here.
Best Picture nominees include, "Babel", "The Departed", "Letters from Iwo Jima", "Little Miss Sunshine", and "The Queen".

I will reserve public judgement until I have seen all of these (I have only seen two of the five nominees). I really enjoyed "Little Miss Sunshine". "Babel", not so much, though Cate Blanchett is fantastic in it. I hear the three remaining films are incredible, so I will see them as soon as I can. Then I can adequately root for my fave.

There seem to be no real surprises here, other than a couple disappointing omissions in the Sound Mixing and Sound Editing categories. (go figure I pick that category to pick apart) Actually, the sound categories are full of great sounding films, and the nominees are all deserving. I was pulling for "Superman Returns" (Craig Berkey) and "Cars" (Tom Myers) to make it, but there's only SO much room I guess. I would have a hard time choosing the two films to remove from the list to put these on, so why not make it a seven nominee category??? Dream on.

In case you would like to know, here's this year's sound nominees:

Achievement in Sound Editing:

“Apocalypto” - Sean McCormack and Kami Asgar
“Blood Diamond" - Lon Bender
“Flags of Our Fathers” - Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman
“Letters from Iwo Jima” - Alan Robert Murray
“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” -
Christopher Boyes and George Watters II

Achievement in Sound Mixing:

“Apocalypto” -
Kevin O’Connell, Greg P. Russell and Fernando Camara
“Blood Diamond” - Andy Nelson, Anna Behlmer and Ivan Sharrock
“Dreamgirls” - Michael Minkler, Bob Beemer and Willie Burton
“Flags of Our Fathers” -
John Reitz, Dave Campbell, Gregg Rudloff and Walt Martin
“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” -
Paul Massey, Christopher Boyes and Lee Orloff

So what do you think? Any nominations take you by surprise? What category do you focus on when you watch?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Two Genres Collide in "Firefly"

I don't usually do reviews, but this one is worth the time. I have written about my love for the Western and Sci-Fi genres over the past year. I have always been a Sci-Fi fan, but over the past couple of years, my appreciation for the Classic Western has grown tremendously.

One failed TV series from 2002, "Firefly" has recently caught my attention thanks to the growing trend of major studios releasing just about anything they have EVER produced into the DVD marketplace. In this case however, it was a winner that just didn't make it, probably because of a lack of one or two network exec's support.

Joss Whedon (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel: The Series) has created in "Firefly" a curious blend of 'western meets sci-fi' that works great in my opinion, plus the writing is "shiny" as they'd say. (that means good)

Show creator Whedon (L) and part of his cast.
Miraculously, a movie based on the same show was funded and released in 2005 under the title "Serenity". It might be the first time a failed TV show spawned a moderately beefy-budget movie (~$40 mil)

I really liked this movie, even though I knew nothing about the TV series when I saw it. It definitely stands on it's own. I thought it was well cast, and there were no "stars" in it. I found this pretty refreshing. I could get into the characters immediately. My only gripe is that it lost a bit of the Western feel from the series. Maybe this was intentional because they thought the multiple genre thing too confusing. No matter, it's still a lot of fun.

The movie wasn't really a financial hit, though I don't think it did poorly either, but it's buzz has certainly kindled interest in the "Firefly" series and now the DVD sales can benefit. I doubt that it will be revisited, which is a shame, but at least we have this one season of "Firefly" to enjoy.

If you haven't seen either the TV series or the movie, check 'em out.
(FWIW - I don't recommend the series for under 14 yr olds.)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Another Loss for the World of Animation

Iwao Takamoto, a legendary animator and character designer, passed away one week ago today.

He worked at WB Animation, and I saw him almost everyday. Unfortunately, our direct paths never crossed in work because of our specific duties, but I always took notice of him when he was around because he was a living legend.

He created many beloved characters such as Scooby-Doo, Astro ("The Jetsons"), and Muttley ("Wacky Races"). He also was an animator for Disney in the golden era, having worked on "Cinderella", "Peter Pan", and "Lady and the Tramp". His credits include many more classics.

Here is a more thorough perspective of Iwao's work thanks to Jerry Beck's animation blog. It's a really interesting read.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Miscellaneous Happenings

As promised, here's some images from recent days.

Chana's parents, Lynn and Glenda celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary last month. I did a tribute video made up of old pics and family video footage. It was a lot of fun to see extended family and friends that day.

Sky lost both front teeth on our Christmas trip. When the first one came out, he kissed the chicken strip that knocked it out and yelled "money, money, money!" Apparently, the charm of the Tooth Fairy is held only by her ability to fork over the Washingtons.

theCalling got together right after Christmas for a show. We worked hard to get the old material ready. It was a blast, the crowd went wild - well, they said they liked it.

Finally, last night Chana and I went to "An Evening With Lost" at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Almost the entire cast of the show was there, plus the creators (including J.J. Abrams) and producers, and the event was hosted by late night talk-man Jimmy Kimmel. There were no secrets revealed, but there were some good stories told. Obviously, the little digital camera I took is lame. I also need to talk to the guy who's supposed to clean the lens. (go to the link for more info)

Dominic Monaghan

Matthew Fox

More later...

UPDATE 01-31-07 - Some (MUCH better) pics from the Academy site:

Monday, January 08, 2007

Drumming For A Lifetime, pt.6

I have carried a drum key on my keychain for as long as I can remember. If you’re clueless about drums, a drum key tunes the drums by tightening the rods and hoops that attach the drumheads to each drum shell. (see fig. 1)

When I first was learning, I carried one because it was cool to be a drummer, and cool to have a set of keys (for a car, I mean). I liked the fact that I could appear as a serious drummer who needed to tune so many drums, that I kept a key ready at all times.

Later, I did it out of necessity. During and after college, I was playing constantly, and the pouch in my stick bag was unreliable, so I had it where I always knew I could find one.

Today I keep one on there for all of the above reasons, plus I don’t think I would recognize my keychain without one. It is as much a part of my DNA as my hazel eye color, so I’m sure I’ll forever carry a drum key. It’s truly one of those lifetime habits I hope to never break, ‘cause if I did, it might mean I’m not playing anymore.

I think it looks nice with my Millennium Falcon charm too.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Tales From the WB Lot

Working on the Warner Bros. Lot is fun, for no other reason than it's cool to be around soundstages and sets. My normal WB audio suite is across the Valley in the WB Animation building. About once a week, sometimes more, my duties take me to the Lot, but it's infrequent enough that I still think it's a treat when I drive on.

Every once in a while, you see someone famous walking between stages, etc, but for me it happens so rarely, I'm never able to prepare to be looking as cool as possible.

Today I had a session set up to layback audio for a handful of Looney Tunes shorts to new D5 masters. This is the last step I take in restoring the soundtracks for the DVD volumes. Once they're on the D5, the DVD authors take it from there.

I got a call from scheduling just before the session, asking if it's okay with me that they reschedule because a director had an emergency fix to make to a reel in his movie, and they would need the same room and operator I use. I jokingly said
"yeah, it's okay, but no one below the level of Steven Soderbergh."
The woman in scheduling said she didn't know who it was going to be. (I picked his name out of the air because I had recently seen his name on one of the same parking-place signs they put my name on when I come.)

Later on, Rick, who works on the picture side of the Looney Tunes restorations told me that it was Al Pacino that took my slot.


Okay, he qualifies.

So, does this mean that on Monday when I sit in the same chair I have always sat in, will now have the essence of Mr. Corleone? I'm feeling tougher already.

I wonder if he took my parking space too...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year

2007 promises to be a remarkable year. There are many exciting projects, both film and music-related, that are going to take off this year, so it might be overwhelming at times too. Chana's novel will be making it's debut as well. At least it won't be boring!

I'll be back soon to talk about these projects, including the reunion concert theCalling put on Dec 29th in Dallas. It was a smash.

For now, I have to kick this cold... :(