New Hard Drive

I currently have 10 external hard drives hovering around my computer. One of them used to be an internal hard drive, but it was PATA, and my Jmicron PATA controller does not play well with OS X when memory usage goes over 3GB. Don’t ask me why. It causes regular kernel panics. So now it’s an external drive.

I was getting frustrated with having system drives full of junk and having to constantly shuffle stuff between drives, so I went to J&R yesterday intending to get one of the new crinkly 1 TB Lacie D2 Quadras.

But instead I was seduced by the Western Digital My Book Studio Edition II
It’s a RAID 0, with two striped 500 GB hard drives inside. I’ve never had a RAID of my own before and I wasn’t anticipating the ridiculous speeds I would get. Using the AJA Kona System test I get 125 MB/s on the eSATA connection. That’s fast. I have firewire 400 drives that go around 20 MB/s. And it was really cheap: only $280 for a terabyte!

I’ve been suspicious of the My Book drives in the past. They’re so aggresively priced it makes me wonder what they’re skimping on. But Western Digital has been making hard drives for a long, long time. Sure, I’ve had several of their internal drives fail on me, but never without any warning, and it was probably my fault for having bad case ventilation. I never ended up losing any data.

Now I have room to organize everything the way I want it. Naturally with a RAID 0 I’m not putting critical files on there, but I have all kinds of HD media that often needs temporary storage and that’s where it will live. Copying from SATA or eSATA drives to this new one is extremely fast. As far as I’m concerned, eSATA is the future and everyone needs to embrace it right now. Firewire: you’re on notice.

Now I just need a few extra eSATA ports. 4 isn’t going to cut it much longer.


I did an interview with Rob Feld for Editors Guild Magazine a couple months ago, and had my picture taken by John Clifford on my lovely Brooklyn roof about a month ago. Today I got a copy of the July/August issue and there’s a big picture of me on the cover looking squinty yet casual.

Sorry for the bad quality, I don’t have a scanner and it’s not online yet. Also, note that Pineapple Express didn’t get the cover photo. Someone at the magazine has a warped sense of priority.

The article is quite extensive and I’ve definitely been paraphrased and edited for brevity. I just hope I don’t come off like a jerk.

More Commedia

The LA Times reviewed La Commedia a few days ago and in addition to loving the opera, they included a great photo of the show. You can just see the tiny “Screen E” in the upper left above the yellow construction office.

In the foreground, that’s the devil holding a soul. He’s about to rise up on that platform. It’s all very dramatic.

As the LA Times says at the end of the article, the show was recorded so we can make a DVD. It’s all in HDCAM and I’ll be combining it with the HD footage I edited earlier to make a single-screen version of the show suitable for home viewing.

OpenCut Final Cut

Here’s the final cut of my OpenCut project. Go to Vimeo to see it in 720p HD. This was a very fun experience. I learned a lot about the Red workflow. It turns out at this point it’s about as easy to use as P2 media. I’m still a little unsure about how I would finish it on a large budget project. I’m perfectly content to finish the project in 2K ProRes, but given the option I know it would be better to do a 4K assembly and color correct from the original files.

It was very unusual for me to work on a script I disliked and have the opportunity to change it beyond what any director would let me. Since I had no contact with the writer/director on this project, it didn’t matter that I thought his script was trite and boring. I wasn’t collaborating with him, I was stealing his footage. The downside of the isolation from the production was that I had nobody to yell at when crucial shots were missed or delivered without sound. I only received one take that had blood on the wall after the gunshot and it was MOS. I used it, but I would have liked some better options. There were several shots covering the end of that scene that included the ear and wall without the blood, but I didn’t use them because the blood would have disappeared. And I didn’t get a lined script, which would have been nice.

I tried using Color to do the color correction, but even as I started to get the hang of it I realized that it was way more control than I needed or had the ability to take advantage of. So I stuck with good old 3-Way Color Corrector in FCP. And I mixed in FCP too. What can I say? I stick with what works.

Commedia Premiere

I arrived in Amsterdam last Wednesday morning and promptly slept until the early afternoon. I got up in time to attend the full dress rehearsal of La Commedia at Carré, which was very exciting. I sat very high up in the theater, which is shaped like half a bowl. The video I edited looked terrific. The HD projection on the main screen looked as good as film as far as I’m concerned. And it wasn’t even a particularly fancy HD projector.

Then the next day I slept until 2pm, walked over to the Vondelpark, walked back, and got dressed up for the premiere. I got to sit in the Queen’s box, which are of course the best seats in the house. The Queen was in attendance, but it wasn’t an Official Visit, so she didn’t sit in her box. Some of the people involved in the show got to meet her afterward, although I did not. Of course, she’s not my Queen anyway. I certainly didn’t vote for her. I got to go up and bow at the end of the show. I heard a few boos when Louis (the composer) came up, which apparently he was quite happy about.

I’ve managed to find two English reviews of the show. One from Bloomberg, who says that there were television crews and red carpets and whatnot. I think I arrived late, or early, because I didn’t really see anything like that going on. The other is from some sort of music blog. Both reviews are pretty positive. They both mention the extreme difference between what Louis says is going on during the show, and what Hal says is going on during the show. I thought that was what made the show exciting. There were two lightly connected stories being told at the same time. They were both inspired by Louis’ music, and they relate to each other, but they aren’t the same thing. Update: I found a blog post in Dutch from someone who (according to the Google Translator) didn’t understand a bit of it, but loved it anyway. That’s the only way to experience it in my opinion.

Now I’m back in Brooklyn, although I might be off to Rome in a few weeks to edit a feature! More on that if it happens.

OpenCut First Cut

This past week I’ve worked a bit on my version of the OpenCut 1.0 project. As I said earlier, I did not care for the script, so I decided to make a few important changes to the tone. I’ve finished up my initial cut, and done a bit of sound work. I’ll probably polish the edit when I’m back from Amsterdam, and do some color correction. I’m hoping to learn how to use Apple’s Color program with this project.

You can see the cut below, or go to Vimeo to watch it in 720p HD.

“Susannah” 06-09-08 from Kyle Gilman on Vimeo.

Return to Amsterdam

Tomorrow evening I’m headed back to Amsterdam to attend the World Premiere of La Commedia, the opera I edited video for in April and May. Here’s a neat little promotional video on the opera company’s website that I did not edit, although I did edit the movie-looking footage they show sometimes.

Red TC Fixer

Scott Simmons at The Editblog has noticed a serious problem in the Red post workflow. There are two timecode tracks in R3D and their associated QT proxy files. One is known as “edge code” and is generated as rec run. It is continuous from the end of one shot to the beginning of the next. The other track is time of day. If your camera is set up to display edge code during shooting, QT will display edge code. If it’s displaying TOD, QT will display TOD.

I did some peeking under the hood, and it seems that the QT proxy files generated by the camera have two timecode tracks. The first track is whatever was displayed during shooting. If you delete Timecode Track 1, QT will now display the other type of timecode. If edge code was turned on in your clip and you delete Track 1, you’ll see TOD.

Unfortunately, right now it looks like there are a number of applications that are only looking at the TOD, so if you’re going to do an assembly it seems to make sense to work in TOD. If your production wasn’t aware of this problem and had edge code display turned on in camera, and you still want to work with proxies, I’ve made an AppleScript to delete the first TC track for all the QuickTime files in any directory and its subdirectories. Use with extreme caution. The script will permanently delete the first TC track from any QT file in its path. If you want the track back you have to regenerate the proxy files. I’ve done limited testing with this, and I’ve never worked with AppleScript before, so please be careful.

Download “RemoveTCTrack” 0.1

Expelled & Fair Use

One of those things you pick up pretty quickly working in commercial filmmaking is that you are never, ever, ever, nerver, never, ever allowed to use music in your work without getting permission, and generally paying through the nose for it. Producers also generally tell you not to have any visible brands, artwork, or any copyrightable material without getting permission from the proper authorities first. Basically that means people in movies don’t live in the real world, because that stuff is everywhere. But that message didn’t reach the producers of Expelled, the documentary about the so-called Intelligent Design theory and its allegedly unfair treatment by the scientific establishment (unsurprising given the theory’s lack of… science). The producers of Expelled actually used 15 seconds of John Lennon’s song “Imagine” without paying for it, and expected to get away with it.

AND THEY DID!!!!! This seemed to me like an open-and-shut case of copyright infringement. Yoko and John Lennon’s sons (owners of the publishing rights) sued. But the judge in the case decided yesterday that the filmmakers were commenting on the content of the music, and refused to grant an injuction. I’ve read the decision, and it makes a lot of good points. The film is directly commenting on the lyrics and general message of “Imagine” and in order to make that point, you need to play some of the song. Just as you generally need to quote a portion of a book in order to write about it. Why shouldn’t filmmakers have the same ability to discuss works of art?

This story seems destined to grow more complicated. EMI owns the master license to the song and they’re still waiting to hear from the courts. I think it’s very important, and it’s unfortunate that I’m finding myself starting to agree with the makers of Expelled. Then again, the last big fair use case I remember involved 2 Live Crew and lyrics like “All that hair, it ain’t legit / ‘Cause you look like Cousin It.” Just because it’s crude doesn’t mean it’s not legal.