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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Don’t discount the old skills…

I work in Video Production in my day job, when I’m not writing my fantastic mystery series, and feeding Big Willy. 

It’s a fun career, where I get to play with lots of interesting toys, including High Definition Cameras and Green Screens.

Sounds cool and futuristic, right?

Well, Gentle Reader, let me throw back the curtain and reveal a long held secret. All the new and cool toys, they are just a better mousetrap. They are cool to look at and play with, but all the skills that you need to know, are pretty much the same skills that were used back when everything was shot on film and the cameras were wound by hand.

Don’t believe me? Let me break it down for you:

High Definition, or HD as everyone in their Mom knows about it, is a high-tech way to capture an image digitally. Most of the time, the image is either stored on tape or on the camera, and is transferred to a computer for editing.

However, image wise, HD has still not been able to achieve the beauty of film, a process where film (obviously) is exposed to an image using light, and that image is burned onto the film strip in sequential images. (This is the HIGHLY CONDENSED version). And yes, it’s exactly the same process as your camera. 

Because there’s only so many ways to invent the wheel.

Green Screen, or that technology that you use when you’re a weatherman. Also used to pretty much do anything you want in TV or movies. I mean, literally anything. Watch this video and have your mind blown!

But here in lies the rub! The basic concept of a green screen, ore more specifically matte screen: Using a flat screen of one color, shooting actors against it and separating them from the background, and then marrying that image to a separate image. Yeah, its been around since at least the 1930s.

Don’t get me wrong, computers make Matte shooting a heck of a lot easier, but the basic concept is still there.

Which, the long and short of what I’m saying is, don’t discount the old skills just because we’re living in the 21st Century. A wheel is still a wheel, there are only so many ways to frame a shot when you’re using a camera, and when you’re writing don’t forget that above all, your readers want is to be told a good story!

So go tell a good story! And win one for the Gipper!

Play me out Richard Dean Anderson! I love me some MacGuyver!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Most songs don't make sense...

Gentlereaders, is it just me or do songs often make no sense if you think about them?

I remember, years and years ago, arguing with my then girlfriend about the romantic nature of a song. Now, sadly this song was not in fact “Every Breath You Take” which would have been hilarious for this blog post. No, it was “Take a look at my girlfriend” which as near as I can tell was covered most popularly by Gym Class Heroes, and according to Wikipedia is called Cupid’s Chokehold

Yes, I do research these things. 

The song, in a nutshell, has as its main lyrics the singer madly professing his love for a girl, and how over the top in love he is. The lyrics, however, are, and I quote, “Take a look at my girlfriend, she’s the only one I got. Not much of a girlfriend, I never seem to get a lot.”

Look ladies, that’s not romance. That’s settling. That’s not even good settling. That’s “I’m going to stay in this relationship until something better comes along. 

If you want a humorous look at waiting for something better to come along, then watch this clip. It’s Kermit the Frog and Rowlf the Dog singing “I Hope That Something Better Comes Along”. 

There are many songs that don’t make a whole lot of sense. In fact, I could do a whole post about how “The Christmas Shoes” is the most incredibly horrifying song of all time. But that’s not what this is about. 

This post wants to ask the big, burning question.
Who calls their bodyguard Betty? 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Who makes that kind of commitment to a shoe?

So, Gentle Reader, I’m an unabashed fan of movies. And TV. And comics. Pretty much any visual medium, I’m a fan. 

Except, for some reason, modern art. Not sure why, but it never connects with me. 

I did want to point out, though, that what looks like a really fun movie is coming out this year, in the form of Arthur. It’s a remake of the Dudley Moore movie of the same name

The new Arthur stars Russell Brand as Arthur, Helen Mirren as his nanny and friend, and Jennifer Garner as the wealthy heiress….you know what, just watch the trailer: 

Alright, back? Great, so this movie looks hysterical. Which can pretty much tell you my kind of sense of humor. 

Plus, for some reason, I just really enjoy Russell Brand. He has a high energy and likability that appeals to me. Helen Mirren, meanwhile, just exudes class and sexiness. 

And yet, I really feel like Jennifer Garner is completely wasted in this movie. I will, at the risk of losing my man card entirely, loved 13 Going On 30. It was adorable. Jennifer Garner is an awesome actress. But, lately no one seems to be giving her roles that, I feel, play to her adorableness. 

Or maybe that’s the roles she’s going for, breaking free of the adorable mold in favor of something completely different. Like being trapped against a magnetic bed wearing….a corset? I don’t know what she’s wearing. 

Ladies, help me out here. 

So yes, there are many great movies coming out in 2011, Arthur is definitely one I’m looking forward to. And, hopefully, there will be a far more extended version of Dame Helen Mirren wearing a Darth Vader mask. 

Because seriously, I would watch that movie just by itself. 

Play me out Queen and David Bowie!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bizarre Confession

As a writer, I’d like to give you a helpful tool for writing better-than-flat characters: Give them a quirk. 

It doesn’t have to be a big quirk. I realize Adrian Monk, one of the best characters in television, is one giant quirk. 

But so was the cast of Friends. And they were, for the first few seasons, reasonably grounded characters. But, they all had quirks. 

I’m a huge fan of author Terry Pratchett. I’m finishing up (for the umpteenth time) one of his books Reaper Man. Death (7 foot tall skeleton, carries a scythe) is full of quirks. He doesn’t want to die, for one. And this book is about discovering life through the other door. The Exit, if you will. 

I love that. I love that Death has no real concept on how to talk to people, or how to handle someone with no attention span, or that he is fond of cats. Its just a bizarre thing that makes the character endearing.

I say all that to say, gentle reader, I have a thing about open doors. I want them closed. I don’t know why. It’s a very strange quirk, and something I have never figured out about myself. But, last night, I couldn’t sleep until I shut my closet door. 

Was I afraid that Mike Wazowski was going to come out and give me a stand-up routine? No. I know, contrary to what Doctor Who tries to tell me, there are no monsters in my closet. 

I just can’t stand an open door. I’m weird. It’s a personality quirk. 

So, if you are looking for a personality quirk to give to your characters, feel free to take that one. I have no interest in using it anytime soon, and I think its enough of a shared experience that anyone could relate.
Also if you’re wondering, I have a phobia against statues. But that’s entirely justified. They do in fact move when you’re not looking. 

Right Doctor?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Making it up as I go along...

I’ll be honest gentle reader, more often than not, I’m making things up as I go along. 

I’ve been teaching, closer to three months now, than 2, and only have a few more weeks before the end of classes. And in all that time, absolutely nothing has gone according to any normal plan. 

For those who don’t know me, I’m teaching Video Production, in a start-up program that is a bit closer to the start-up side than it is to the program side. We don’t have equipment or studio space yet. In fact, all we have is a bunch of hungry students, most of them seniors. It can be quite frustrating to try and teach them the myriad of life lessons and skills that I learned, mostly through hands on experience. 

However, this also applies, I feel, to my writing. Not to the story, believe it or not. I have a very clear design for what I want to do with my book series, which revolve around private detective Dan Landis. No, how I want to go about publishing is where I’m making it up as I go along. 

On the one hand, I would love the validation that comes with being published by a major, or heck even a minor, publishing house. That would just be FANTASTIC! But, honestly, I would be very surprised if anyone wanted to take a chance. Because publishing is a tough row to hoe, and unless you are a super-seller its hard for a publisher to make money off of you. 

On the other hand, I don’t know if I have the confidence to be a self-marketing guru who sells a super-amount of books. Right now, there is the potential to self-publish, and to be able to sell both paperbacks and e-books over the internet. The technology is there, and it would be fantastic to be able to get my story into the hands of readers. 

So, if you’re the praying sort, say a prayer for me gentle reader. If I am successful, I promise you can come swim in my pool in the shape of Dan Landis.