Vuze Trouble

I use Azureus quite a bit when I want to download something quickly thanks to the bandwidth of thousands of my friends. In an effort to become legitimate, Azureus has launched a streaming service called Vuze that encourages distribution of HD content. I don’t have any HD content to share right now, but on the web, 640×480 is pretty high-res. So I decided to upload a few things and try it out. I started with Getting Laid Tonight. Everything happens very quickly. Upload is as fast as you can make it, and the download is too. But the audio was a few seconds out of sync. I’ve had trouble with Getting Laid Tonight in the past because the fully cropped video is a non-standard size. That might have been the problem. So I tried the Brad Wood music video. The sync was fine, but the compression destroyed the music quality. Everything sounds over-modulated. I’ve removed both videos from the “content network” but I’ll try out a few other things. I’m mainly interested in this for the distribution of my animated series. I’m going to create it in HD, so this could be a good way to distribute the HD video.

Avid Xpress Pro: Good Riddance

Ever since Media Composer was released as a software-only option (no longer requiring expensive Avid hardware) I’ve had a hard time understanding why it cost so much more than Xpress Pro, considering the complete compatibility between them, and the large overlap in features. I didn’t see much need to upgrade to Media Composer myself. Well, apparently Avid is done with Xpress Pro, and they’re slashing the price of Media Composer. I think this is a great move. It puts Media Composer much closer to the price of Final Cut Studio, and removes the vestigial Xpress Pro line. It’s getting so cheap, I might even buy a Mojo some day.

Uncle Gary Breaks The Burro

Every once in a while I go through the various unlabeled and ambiguously labeled DV tapes I’ve been collecting since college, mostly in the hope that I’ll find the long-lost rehearsal tape that I shot with Jennie Tarr before we started shooting Camera Noise. I remember it being quite good. But I also think I taped over it.

Luckily, I found this little gem. Uncle Gary Breaks The Burro is a 4-minute story that my uncle told me for a class called “Life Stories.” This was the warm-up for my later project The Life Story of Kyle Gilman as Told to Him by His Mother Mary.


Last week Jennie Tarr and I did a photo shoot with Jenny Woodward for what I hope will eventually be a very quick photo animation technique. Here’s a preview.



Film & FCP

Film lists. Like film itself, they are on the way out. When we did Lake City we shot on super-16mm and transferred all of the negatives to HDCAM-SR with 10-bit log color. We edited with downconverted DVCAM tapes, then did an online using timecode. Since it was edited on an Avid, and I used ALEs from the lab to batch capture the DVCAMs, keycode was also tracked automatically. It was good to have around, in case for some reason we had to re-transfer something from s16, but in the end the HDCAM-SR tapes were our master tapes. And obviously if you originate in HD you don’t have any film to track. So believe it or not, in all the modestly budgeted films I’ve worked on, I’ve never had to deal with film lists before.

There are still some times when you need to track film. If you shoot 35mm, you might cut negative and make a print the old-fashioned way without a DI. In that case you’re going to be using keycode like crazy. You’ll probably conform a workprint before you cut your negatives too. Or if you shoot 35mm and do a DI, you’ll benefit from the increased resolution of 2K and 4K. At the moment it is not cost-effective to scan in all your dailies at 2K, and certainly not at 4K. So in that case your DI facility will have to scan the negatives from a film list that you generate.

But I’ve recently been working on a movie shot on s16 and transferred straight to DVCAM. It was then edited in FCP. I was not involved in the project until they brought me in at the hand-off to the sound editors when it became clear that there were problems. Final Cut Pro is a great piece of editing software, but it’s so flexible that if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, you can get in trouble fast.

The first problem is working with film shot at 24 fps and telecined at 23.98, and trying to synchronize it with BWFs (Broadcast WAV files, which are WAV files with timecode) from a digital sound recorder. One way to avoid this hassle is to conform all the video to 24.0 fps using Cinema Tools. But it’s really best not to do that. Sound editors don’t like it, and you’ll have some trouble viewing on an external NTSC monitor or outputting to tape. It’s best to keep everything at “video speed.” Read more

The End of an Era

rayprivett.jpgThe Two Boots Pioneer Theater on Avenue A and 3rd St. in Manhattan is one hell of a cool theater. For 4 years, Ray Privett has been the man behind the curtain keeping it the weirdest and most experimental of New York’s first run-theaters. I first met Ray when he gave Richard Sylvarnes’s The Cloud of Unknowing a week-long run, guaranteeing a review in the New York Times. At the time I was the brand-new head of distribution at the brand-new company The Possible Films Collection. Only after weeks of emailing him did I learn that he was my friend Randy Bell’s new roommate. We went on to do a sold-out screening of Hal Hartley’s short films, where we sold a ton of DVDs, a two-week run of The Girl From Monday, and most importantly, an evening of my own short films called “Kyle Gilman: Some Success but Mostly Failure” which featured the world premiere of Two Night Stand. I’ve never screened my films together like that at any other time, and it was really gratifying to do it with such a surprising and appreciative audience.

And just to connect me to The Pioneer even closer, The First Sundays Comedy Film Festival moved there a few years ago. They were the first people in NYC to show any of my films. They even showed the Bad Webcam Sex video as part of The Pioneer’s online video series (after some other online video series decided they didn’t want to share their screening slot earlier in the week).

But after 4 years of a job that never seems to take a break, Ray is leaving The Pioneer. He will be missed. I hope he has a great time with his new projects, and I hope The Pioneer doesn’t suck without him.