Simpsons Editing GIFs

Frinkiac is an amazing resource that combines transcripts of every episode of The Simpsons with screengrabs and lets you make animated GIFs out of them. Here’s a collection of editing and filmmaking related Simpsons GIFs. I could make these all day.

Tightest 3 Hours and 10 Minutes on TV

I say this one a lot when a show is too long.

Dad, there are other wipes besides star-wipes

In college I used to claim whoever used the most star wipes would get the highest grade.

Just tell me what's wrong with the freakin show!

When I’m waiting for notes.

Rustier

Trying to get the right sound effect.

Of course “Radioactive Man” offers endless material about making movies.

Modern editing techniquesSeamless your firedThat was perfect lets do it againDifferent angles again and againWell run that cable through here

Stupid TV Be More Funny

When you can’t make a joke work.

Worst episode ever

Free Countdown Academy Leader

I don’t know if this is still a problem that needs solving, but I always had trouble finding free countdown leader. Years ago I made this 1080p 23.98 ProRes Proxy QuickTime countdown by modifying the project that came with FCP 7. Feel free to download and use in your own projects. Click on the overlay pop-out icon to get the download link.

New Short Film “Strange Past”

This is my new film Strange Past!

A couple years ago my wife Maggie Lehrman was on a writing retreat and emailed me this screenplay she had written for me to direct. I loved it, but it has a very important scene involving a boat on the Gowanus Canal, one of the most polluted waterways in the United States. When I write for myself I always imagine how hard it would be to shoot, and I would never write that scene. But it was way too cool to cut out. Thanks to my old friend/sailor Randy Bell and Owen Foote from the Gowanus Dredgers canoe club, we got a boat on that canal and it looks amazing.

These days I am very happy editing funny TV shows and not directing movies. I assembled a whole new team in front of and behind the camera because I wanted a totally new challenge. I brought in Laura Elizabeth Wood to help me produce, recent AFI grad Stefan Weinberger on camera, and longtime Hal Hartley co-conspirator Richard Sylvarnes handled production design.

The actors are a bunch of pros. I first saw Lauren Lim Jackson in a play with Maggie in college and she is frequently a dancer on Broadway. Jill Durso was my student when I was a teaching assistant. She’s an Emmy-winning producer and has recently started acting. Dan Cozzens had a large role in the start of my relationship with Maggie and acts in all kinds of experimental theater. Will Reynolds went to high school with Maggie and has been in a number of high profile off-Broadway shows. Joel Perez is a friend of a friend who was a very welcome addition to our group, and can now be seen in Fun Home on Broadway. Kyle Gilman is usually an editor, but I thought it would be easy to act again since the role of Jack is mostly just standing and watching. Since I’d be doing that behind the camera anyway, I assumed I could just stand in front of the camera and it would work just as well. Let me write this down here to remind myself. It’s not possible to watch yourself act. Unless you have a lot of extra time in the schedule for playback, you really need to cast someone else, because the directing suffers.

I had to edit Maron season 2 and Ned Rifle before I could really take the time to edit Strange Past. I think it was a big help because it allowed me to get enough distance from the material. I was a different person when I directed the film. After almost a year I was able to see the things that worked rather than thinking it was all garbage.

Finally, I got my childhood friend Adam Schoenberg to write the original music for the film. Adam is one of the biggest young American composers for orchestras, and I am lucky that he is branching out into film music. You can hear one of the beautiful songs he composed for the film on Soundcloud

Strange Past premiered at the Monadnock International Film Festival in April 2015 and I had a fantastic time there. I got tired of waiting for the rest of the festival process so I’m posting the film online for everyone to see. Festivals are fine, but I really just want people to see the film. I hope you enjoy it.

Noindex Password-protected WordPress Posts

This plugin does one thing and one thing only. It adds the text <meta name="robots" content="noindex"> to the header of any password-protected post. Google and all other respectable search engines will leave your password-protected pages out of their search results. I don’t know why this isn’t standard practice and it’s possible somebody else has included this in another plugin, but I haven’t been able to find it.

Get it now from the WordPress plugin database.

WordPress Plugin v4.3

I’ve been hard at work on my WordPress video plugin since I got back from editing Maron season 2 (premieres May 8 on IFC!) in LA a month ago. I finally tackled some things I had been putting off.

First and most important, I internationalized the plugin. When I first started cobbling this plugin together in late 2010 I had a very specific goal in mind, and that was to make it easier for me to post videos with thumbnails. I had a frequent need to show clients work-in-progress videos and I didn’t want to wait for Vimeo to transcode my perfectly good videos, so I used my existing WordPress plugin to share password-protected videos. It always annoyed me that I had to save a thumbnail file and upload it separately if I wanted to have an image show up in the video window so I thought I could save myself some time.

Of course it did not save me any time and since I’ve been working on productions with actual money lately I usually have an assistant who uploads videos to fancy services like DAX. So the plugin became a thing to improve just for the sake of improving it, which led to expanding its scope way beyond what I originally planned.

At this point the plugin has been downloaded over 164,000 times and we can assume that a number of those people are not native English speakers. Over the years I’ve seen those __( 'Some text' ) things in code examples but I never really understood what was going on with them. I had taken a look at the I18n for WordPress Developers page and it kind of baffled me. I had never used the sprintf function before and that seemed complicated. But it’s actually really simple, and when I finally sat down a couple weekends ago and went through the whole program to add those __() things, it wasn’t so much hard as it was incredibly tedious.

But now it’s done, and if you’re interested in translating the plugin, please let me know. I already have Spanish, French, and Danish volunteers.

The other important and actually more tedious issue was adapting the plugin to multisite installations. I had never used WordPress Multisite and I assumed it would just take a little adjustment to fix the problems users had alerted me to. It was not little, and I wish I had never started working on it. If the plugin is network activated, all the individual sites encoding queues are visible on a network encoding queue, and you can set the major FFMPEG settings on a network level. You’re welcome multisiters.

There are a whole bunch of other things, including a re-written gallery pop-up system and the option to use JW Player. Check out the changelog for the full list. And if you have any questions, please create an issue on Github.

Kickstarter for Henry Fool Part 3: Ned Rifle

Two years ago Hal Hartley successfully raised completion funds for his film Meanwhile through Kickstarter and now he’s trying to finance a whole film. It’s called Ned Rifle and it’s the third and final film in the Henry Fool trilogy. The script is awesome, and the idea of making three films over nearly 20 years with the same group of characters and actors is wonderful.

Part 2 of the Henry Fool seriesFay Grim, was the first feature film I worked on in the post production department. I was Hal’s assistant editor for Fay Grim and if we raise the necessary funds I will be the editor for Ned Rifle. Here’s a fun video in which I recount some details of the previous films’ plot along with the rest of the crew and the actors who will reprise their roles from the first two films.

Really Cool New Feature in My WordPress Video Plugin

Choose From Video

I’ve always been annoyed that my WordPress “Video Embed & Thumbnail Generator” plugin required FFMPEG to make thumbnails. Most people are on shared hosting and aren’t allowed to install software like that on their servers. And even if they are allowed, configuring and installing it is a pretty substantial hassle.

I started my most recent coding burst with the inspiration that I could show the video in a little player in the browser and use it to find the exact timecode a user wants to generate a thumbnail. I planned to send that number to FFMPEG in order to get the image, but when I saw the video in the browser it looked exactly like a thumbnail. I wondered why I couldn’t just grab the image that the browser had gone through all the trouble of decoding already. It turned out I could do exactly that, and it was surprisingly simple.

So as of version 4.2, you don’t need any special software on your server if you want to turn a frame of video into an image. There are some limitations though. Your server needs to have either ImageMagick or GD. Most servers have one of these enabled, so that shouldn’t be a problem. Your browser also has to provide native support for your video format. Plugins will not work. That means this doesn’t support FLVs, WMVs, AVIs, or MKVs. Browsers have built-in support for H.264 MP4s, WEBM, or OGV. There is a helpful chart on Wikipedia that details the array of browser support for these formats. The short version is if you use H.264 MP4 videos in Chrome then you should be fine.

I also moved my development onto Github, which I am loving. It’s much easier to keep track of everything, and it allows for savvy users to offer their own code to merge into the plugin. If you’re having any trouble with the new release, please post it in the issues section.

Where’s my $48 Kozmo.com?!

Kozmo.com is coming back and I couldn’t be happier because they’ve owed me $48 for 13 years.

In the summer of 2000 I lived in a $400/mo SRO in Chelsea. I assure you it was even worse than you’re imagining. I had an internship at CourtTV and was making minimum wage. I got my internet from NetZero, which at the time was one of those brilliant dotcom ideas where you got free dial-up internet in exchange for looking at ads. I had started using the Kozmo.com delivery service while at school that year and it was perfect for my solo lifestyle in New York. I spent a lot of my money renting DVDs online and getting them delivered to my door within the hour. Of course now I can hardly be bothered to go through the effort of putting a disc in my Blu-Ray player when there are so many instant streaming options available, but it was really cool at the time.

One night I rented Blue Velvet and watched it on my computer because nobody had stand-alone DVD players back then and I didn’t have a TV anyway. I enjoyed it very much. A day or two later (I don’t remember their rental policies, but it was within the acceptable time frame) I returned the DVD to the drop-off box in a donut shop on 23rd St, where I frequently returned DVDs from Kozmo.com. A few months later a $48 charge from Kozmo.com showed up on my debit card. I checked in with their customer service and they explained that I had never returned the Blue Velvet DVD and so was being charged $48 for the privilege of keeping it.

At the time they were having financial trouble, so I figured it was a scheme to stay solvent, but it was an unacceptably large percentage of my net worth so I was unenthusiastic about my part in this scheme. I explained that I did not keep the DVD and that $48 was a bit much for a DVD anyway. They apologized and promised to return the money. Months went by and I was frequently assured that I was going to get that money back. Then in April I learned that they were going bankrupt.

I found this in my archives:

From: Kyle Gilman <gilman@fas.harvard.edu>
To: custserv@kozmo.com
Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2001 02:58:00 -0500
Subject: Still missing $48

Hi there Kozmo people. I guess you’re going out of business, but I thought that before you completely close up shop that maybe you could give me back the $48 you wrongfully charged me. I’ve been trying to get it back since January, and have been promised several times that it would be credited to my credit card and it’s never actually happened. I know you guys have money problems, but I never had anywhere close to $280 million to blow through.

Anyway, my username is ********, and I was incorrectly charged for “purchasing” an overdue DVD of Blue Velvet even though I returned it on time.

–Kyle

I never got a response and I never got the money, but I bet they have all kinds of cash on hand right now. How about a store credit or something?

Chromecast is Great But There’s a Big Feature Missing

I ordered a Chromecast as soon as I heard about it. It was $35 but came with 3 free months of Netflix streaming, which I would be paying for anyway, so it cost me about as much as lunch in Manhattan. It arrived on Friday and I’ve already given up streaming from my clunky Panasonic Blu-Ray player.

Streaming from apps that support Chromecast is fast, high-quality, and easy. Netflix, YouTube, and Google Play media show up on my TV with two taps. I ordered Europa Report from Google Play and had it on the TV in three taps on my Nexus 4. The movie was OK, but the purchasing and watching experience was as simple as I can currently imagine it. Casting a whole tab from Chrome is a different story. It’s really no good for video. It might be fine if you want something a little more static on screen but there was visible video stuttering when streaming from my MacBook Pro.

Here’s the big missing feature: on iOS if you have an Apple TV you can send any HTML5 video to it by pressing the AirPlay button in the video controls. Is there a good reason why every Chrome browser can’t send any HTML5 video to Chromecast today? I know that Chromecast works differently, and requires a receiver app, but it seems to me that Chrome could provide a generic HTML5 video receiver app without requiring every content provider to register as a developer and make their own, since every receiver app would be essentially the same. Maybe this is coming in Chrome 30 and I shouldn’t expect things to move so quickly, but I haven’t been able to find any discussion of it so far. I would love to incorporate it into my WordPress video player plugin as soon as possible.