Archive for July, 2008

Music video shot with the HV30

“Human Cannonball” by Evan Spade, shot by Dane Sigua. A 35mm adapter was used, on location. HD version here.

Great Expectations

A handful of people wrote lately online saying that they “expected more of me” in terms of video. They marked my latest video as “half-assed”, despite my explanation of the tiny timeframe we had to shoot it and the lack of locations.

Well, see, here’s the real problem. When you are a very public person, like I am, people expect from you more than they would expect from others. Even if I have never excelled, studied, or even offer suggestions in art. I offer suggestions regarding software problems and software tricks, which is where I excel. But I never wrote an article or forum thread to say “if you use this angle you will be able to achieve this”, or “if you use that shutter speed you can then get this look and then couple it with that scene” etc etc. My filmmaking advices are all software-related, and how to best use software to get an acceptable result, not how to put together an Oscar-worthy movie. Even my recent article on how I do travel videos, was just a description of how I do things, not necessarily how travel videos should be done.

But from the moment you get “known” in that small community and gaining some authority because of that side of knowledge, then the expectations go through the roof. They want to see you excel in places that you don’t really have much to do with (I am just an amateur filmmaker like most in that community, started shooting just a year ago), and they will crucify you if you release something imperfect. It comes with the territory I guess.

Make no mistake, I don’t mind critique of my work. But when they say that they “expected more of me”, me in particular, I find this to be unfair. It’s like telling me that “Joe Videographer can release an imperfect video, but you Eugenia, are not. We only expect the best from you”.

Random Stuff, Part 22

* I received an mp3 player for review last week. It came loaded with a… chinese song and with the Downloader.Banload.GZH trojan. Apparently, the device had an autorun.inf file in there, and a usb2.0.exe file. The autorun.inf file was calling the execution of usb2.0.exe during the mounting of the player. So you end up getting the trojan without even having to execute the file yourself. The interesting thing is that the usb2.0.exe file was NOT visible by Windows Explorer, but it was visible under Mac OS X and Linux. Thankfully, my anti-virus seems to have caught the file and removed it, although this happened only the second time I mounted the device, so I wasn’t sure if I caught any spyware or not. I later ran the latest AVG anti-virus, Windows Defender and Ad-Aware, but none of the apps found anything suspicious on my system. I have emailed the sellers of the device and I expect them to remove the whole range of these devices from their shelves. If you have any of these devices (1, 2, 3, 4) you might be in danger (it doesn’t mean that all the batches have the trojan attached, but many might). Update: The shop says that they found no trojan on their side, so this might have been a false positive.

* Today we went for the second round of shopping for my brother in law’s wedding. JBQ got two beautiful suits, I got a nice business suit too among others. Oh, and two new bras…

* After shopping we went to eat out. We decided to go to Menlo Park’s “Chillies”. I started crying when we arrived, I couldn’t stop. Reason? The restaurant is just across where the Be, Inc. offices used to be (20 meters away, across the street). I only visited the Be offices 3 times I think in my life, but remembering the whole “hope” around BeOS at the time and the effort the community and engineers put back then, reduced me to tears. JBQ became annoyed which I interpreted it as “don’t remind me please, I am trying not to care, and I do a good job so far”.

Twin Peaks

In many ways, “Twin Peaks” is the daddy of “X-Files” and grand-daddy of “Lost”. I have finished watching the series, and so I can write a bit about it.

“Twin Peaks”, is a surreal thriller, serialized for the TV, by acclaimed writer and director David Lynch. The show is seemingly about the murder of teenager Laura Palmer, but eventually it becomes apparent that it’s about good and evil and the duality of everyone, wrapped in a paranormal way. In many ways, “Twin Peaks” is a lot like “Lost”: people who are not what they seem but are interconnected, deep mysteries, and paranormal elements that drive their fans into theory frenzy! “Twin Peaks” did it first: it put people into theory mode, it’s just that unfortunately for it, the Internet was not widespread at the time, and so much of the glory was lost in localized conversations (aka the “watercooler show“) rather than becoming an international phenomenon.

The first season was almost perfect. It was up to the point, interesting, haunting. I have nothing much more to say about the first season, it was that perfect.

I regard the second season being split into two phases: the Laura Palmer investigation, which is a continuation of the first season, and the aftermath after the killer is found. The first phase of the second season is not too bad, but it’s apparent that things started to get a bit haywire with the writers, David Lynch having very little involvement with the show, and ABC trying to drive the project. For example, the Harold Smith outdoors-phobic and Japanese investor subplots where useless and silly. But you haven’t seen silly yet. In the second phase, 90% of the plot is downright silly. From the pregnant Lucy and her two silly men, to James and rich lady subplot which had nothing to do with anything else, to James in general being portrayed like a man whore having the hots of four women in 15 days time while at the same time he’s supposed to be level-headed (remember, 1 episode is 1 day in the “Twin Peaks” world), to Josie becoming a maid (what the hell?), to Ben Horne becoming crazy and then sane again, to Leo getting controlled by a dog collar (!), to Nadine and mayor’s stupid subplots, to David Duchovny guest-starring and appearing in woman’s dresses. Twin Peaks had become a ridiculous show by that point.

I mean, the consensus is that “Twin Peaks” lost its audience because the killer was revealed, but the truth is, it’s lost its audience because the show lost the plot entirely, all by itself. I could barely sit through and watch the second season’s second phase. I would pause it every 10 minutes and go eat something, or check out my email, or go pee. I just couldn’t sit through an entire episode anymore. The only good episodes in the second season were the two final ones, and guess why: because David Lynch came back for these last two episodes, trying to fix the freaking mess the ABC writers left him with. But it was too late.

The truth is this: “Twin Peaks” should not have had more than 16-18 episodes. It should have ended when the murderer is revealed, and should have replaced some early unneeded subplots with some of the (rarely good) points found in the second phase, like the Lodges, Cooper getting possessed by BOB after Laura’s murderer dies, the army’s involvement & Major Biggs etc. And after the series’ run, the three movies should have been created, just like Lynch wanted it. Only one movie was shot at the end, because by that time, the peaksmania had died down, exactly because of that disastrous second phase, and so the movie didn’t do well in the box office. Maybe these movies should have been tele-movies.

In conclusion, “Twin Peaks” failed because no one could take the step “Lost” writers took with ABC in February 2007: to give an end to the series and not let it go on and on forever like that. If Lynch was to strike such a deal with ABC before he started shooting, then “Twin Peaks” could have become the ultimate series today (both TV and cinema). It’s a shame really.

Consumer AVCHD caught up with the HV20/30

As I have said many times in the past, the HV20/30 are the best consumer cameras in terms of picture quality. Various high-end AVCHD models (HF100, SR11/SR12, SD9) tried to compete this year with the HV series, but they were still lacking that bit of extra quality that you can squeeze out of the HV20/30.

Well, that’s all the past now.

Canon has just announced in Japan two new models, the HF11 and the HG11, which can record in 24mbps AVC, which is the highest bitrate that the AVCHD standard is asking for (higher bitrate is used by some prosumer camcorders, but that’s not part of the official standard).

With the HF11 and HG11 recording at full 1920×1080@24mbps MPEG4-AVC, the HV20/30 with its 1440×1080@25mbps MPEG-2 has no chance in hell to keep the reigns any longer.

Today the tape died, as far as I am concerned, with this fall of the HV20/30.

The HF11 is largely the same camera model as the HF10, but the HG11 was completely reworked compared to the HG10. It has a brand new body, better lens, better usability, 120 GB drive with ability to also record in SD card, 12x zoom instead of 10x. I would have considered the HG11 if it wasn’t for the stupidity of Canon of going down to 37mm filter thread, and not staying with HG10’s 43mm. I have a gazillion accessories for the HV20 that would have work with any 43mm camera. Step-down rings are not good in my case as large and heavy lenses and adapters would break the step-down ring and the camera’s filter thread if I was to mount them in the HG11. It sucks to be stuck in something as trivial as a filter thread.

Cleaning up the office

I am trying to clean up the office so I have 4 machines to give away (I won’t bother trying to sell them): an AthlonXP 1.6 ghz, a Duron 1.3ghz, a dual Celeron 533 mhz, and a Pegasos 1. From all these machines, only the Duron works properly and the Pegasos only when used with Morphos 1.4 and not with 2.0. I installed Ubuntu on the Duron and it’s ready to go, while the Pegasos could actually land me at least $100 if I could install morphos 2.0 (the CRT monitor goes out of sync when loading the installer CD). The AthlonXP and the dual Celeron are completely dead, they don’t start at all. It still is weird to see a machine go completely dead while it was working the last time I used it (granted, about 2 years ago).

Update: Today is not my day. One of my PDAs died too (well, just the battery, still works when plugged in).

Dolorata’s drummer

Just a clarification for those who don’t recognize the drummer of my latest music video, Dolorata‘s “You’ve Gotta Want It“. Dawn Richardson used to be the drummer of “4 Non Blondes”, a band that had a big hit back in early ’90s with the song “What’s up“.

Random Stuff, Part 21

* I watched the indie film “First Snow” tonight (trailer) and it is one of the best movies I have seen lately. It has a rather low rating on IMDb, in my opinion it’s vastly underrated. The movie is the epitome of “character development”. First time director Mark Fergus does an excellent job, and cinematography is great too. No wonder it’s a good movie, as Fergus also co-wrote “Children of Men” and “Iron Man”. Great talent and one writer/director to watch for.

* I managed to upgrade my iPhone to 2.0 firmware and unlock it last night. This wasn’t easy. I had to try 2-3 times to get it in to the right “restore” mode.

* This article says that Indie music is dead. It reminded me what the older people tell to younger ones: “in our generation, we did things better”. The article is just wrong in so many ways that is not even funny.

* Google’s Jeremy Allison blogged about LinuxHater (thanks for the link Dimitar). He gives a lot of good points, but he ends up saying that the problem with FOSS is “just a few bugs”, while the problem really is leadership, culture, and project management.

* This is why I am an atheist. Because cults, mysticism, dogmas and all that shit, don’t make any sense whatsoever.

* Larry King has hosted UFO-related shows many times, and the most recent one was a few days ago. I feel that he is a believer even if he will never admit it publicly.

“You’ve Gotta Want It” by Dolorata

My second music video:

Maya ho ki yo

For the last two months I’ve been in correspondence with Chandra from Nepal. Chandra has a band, and he had just bought the HV30, so we exchanged a few emails about how to shoot a slowed-down music video etc. His very first video, is now ready to be seen. For a first video, it’s a really good effort and the song is nice too! HD version here.