Overcooked Vegan 8: Production Notes

I had to sneak a show in before the year expired. Overcooked Vegan 8: Okra StEwww. It was shot one-cam on the fly except for one halogen 650. For whatever reason it took me a while to get a rhythm on the edit. In part, I believe the child expected to do a solo episode so she came out a bit salty and took a bit to thaw (sounds vaguely cannibalistic). Cutting around the low energy got the edit down to 4 minutes. It’s been in the can since late September. I held onto it under the premise of adding the new intro and editorial elements but time dictated that I push them back until the next iteration. Ultimately, I preferred having this segment out now and working on getting the new flow grouped under volume two in 2017.

The audio was heinous (the unfortunate norm) because I couldn’t afford to test the mic gear in a timely manner. So for audio post, I enlisted Songhay System to use its copy of Sound Forge but I wound up getting a better version out of Izotope RX3.

In terms of talent, as I’ll employ some of the original ideas that I have yet to try, I’ve expanded my search to attempting to bring more people in who should have a greater network than myself. I’ve also cut loose the online sites for talent as they haven’t yielded any decent results for me over the last couple of years. I’ll probably use Backstage a couple more times then I’ll determine the ratio of public service to business of this endeavor.

In typing the URL for this morning while updating the web site I came to find out that there is now a video game called “Overcooked” that launched August 2016. I’ll delve into that deeper down the line as I’m curious as to what that might mean to this production. Now, I need to figure out how to embed video via URL in this new WordPress interface.

Testing… where’s the damn preview option?

Found the preview. Ok, keep the URL on its own line. No more going through the media URL.

Overcooked Vegan e7: Production Notes – 2015’s Aftertaste

2015 was intended to be a 6 week old memory by now but its dirty sock stench is still wafting about. Episode 7 is a symbol of will to power and serendipity AKA “I’ll take it”. 4:00 am, January 1st my production computer decided that it no longer needed its logic board. I had shelfed all other projects to finish chopping a feature that would have been done by end of day.

My Overcooked Vegan footage and assets reside on a 6 TB RAID thunderbolt port only. None of my re-purposed machines have thunderbolt nor can they push the software. My friend David at Sixor12 offered me time on his trashcan Mac and I did a quick tune and render of what was to be “episode 7”.

This segment was also a bit of happenstance. My son had changed his mind (again) about doing his comedic cooking segment. It turned out that his brother had learned to cooked something and he wanted to try it out. Upon arriving to his brother’s father’s pad, I realized I hadn’t charged the camera, didn’t bring any other gear, so by the end of the cooking I had to use my phone to finish – Hence no money shot of final dish. Plus those boys lit into that food milliseconds after the stove top cut off.

I had held out 3 months or so from uploading another episode for reasons that I’ve mentioned before now. Briefly, fatigue, improvement of audio/video, experimentation… Given the necessity of social media and the general use of targeted forms (tutorial, single personality, etc) of Youtube, I’ve had a bias against the medium and wanted to find a broadcast medium to utilize. At worst, it would be a prototype that also pushed some useful options out there for viewers.

So as I crawl towards a new computer rig I have to stay creative. Pencils and paper have made their presence even greater. My searches have led to some inlets for (American) public broadcasting and I’m in the cursory stages of figuring out commercial broadcasting and streaming mediums. I’m looking to upload 3 to 5 new segments so that I can cut down to 6 24 minute episodes. Next chance I get, I’ll pull from all footage and put together a pilot to show it closer to my vision.

In the interim, those looking to do their own shows might check out jokeandbiago.com. They do podcasts and are a production company that picks up projects they like to see if they can get them on air. Their forté are reality shows but they write that they are open to good ideas. Another thing I’ve learned is to search through people’s crowd funding campaigns. That provides a range of understanding of inducements and expectations.

Tired of typing all this on the phone so I’m pulling the plug on this one. I’ll have to figure out how to get phone WP drafts over to desktop WP but that’s a battle for a different soldier today.

Pre-production notes: Overcooked Vegan Episode 7

It's just some damn food.

It’s just some damn food.

I hit a wall just before episode 6. Overcooked Vegan is research and development for me and I was having difficulty with my progression in technique. I guess I’ve been documenting that in the production notes. After ep 5’s unnecessary hurdles and mounting scrambling before ep 6, I declared a two week OR SO hiatus. Basically, for September I’m only doing intermittent pre-pro and maybe some animations but I don’t look to go back into production until early October.

To explain the wall, I’ll have to say it’s not just time and energy. There is logical return. You do art because you’re compelled to do so. Personality might dictate how much of that art is satiated with intrinsic versus extrinsic reward. You might also throw in a quasi-social awareness angle which ideally is intrinsic when authentic. Business is all extrinsic and always in need of a return. The blood of business is money. As I said Overcooked Vegan is R&D. The immediate return is constant information from testing. The long term goal is broadcast or cable, if not overcooked then something else. But I started getting a lot of knuckle-headed return.

For episode 6 I had two people who had originally committed to participate want me to sing and dance them back into their commitment. Fuck that. Go walk your puppies, ________ (You know what fits). So I went back into my 20 some odd remaining submissions to my casting and from the two emails got my first zero response and a response that I will describe as “that’s the internet for you”! Despite having a fairly detailed casting notice AND episodes that can be surveyed for examples ANNND the show title, I was asked two inane questions: “What kind of personality are you looking for?” ANNNNNND “Would I have to cook vegan food?” Come on now. What the %64#2D is wrong with you?!?

So the wall represents the cracks in my patience and I have to repair the wall. There’re more issues but I don’t write this to vent to the public. (I’ve been led to believe that production notes help some people who are interested in getting insights into various levels of production and I don’t mind passing on information if it’s of value.) I guess I mean to say, I’m not that dude taking pictures of every thing I do and posting it online. I already have two feature-length documentaries that I have to find a working time machine to finish before certain deadlines and tomorrow an additional one is coming my way. I can’t even write about my irritation on those projects alone.

Beyond the complaining, I do have more headspace to slowly make changes to the format so that cutting it to the half hour will make sense in flow and instill more humor into it. Of course pre-pro has to be met with proper pro. I also have to work on publicity. Very few people know the show exists. It’s taking a preposterous amount of time to get the word out via the method I had been waiting for so it’s time to return to the responsibility of self. Except I hate doing publicity. In the words of Gil Scott-Heron taken totally out of context, “Home is where the hatred is”.

Production Notes for Overcooked Vegan Episode 5

Eat my weekend up.

Eat my weekend up.

Overcooked Vegan Episode 5 is live on the web as of Tuesday afternoon. I missed by morning launch because of Monday’s time management.

I had wound up booking the two shoots that appear on Saturday. Finalizing the times became weird but it worked out. Fortunately, April and Kelly wanted to do their shoot together so I didn’t have to do 3 that day otherwise I’d still be editing. To make the time, I basically ditched the b-cam footage. But I think I finally figured out how off the LCD is in its luma reproduction so I should be able to eyeball it better. With that I probably overcompensated pulling down the whites in post and tweaking the color. I had zero time to watch the episode before I uploaded it. If fortunate, when I review it, I won’t feel compelled to dive back in and re-upload it.

I took a couple hours off Sunday to watch the finale of that disaster called True Detective Season 2. One thing it did help was re-raise questions about the structure of this show. The integration of story, cooking and culture isn’t as fluid as I’d like it to be. But time leaves me again to call it a work in progress.

Monday led me to Olga’s Naturally. Whereas the restaurant overviews are not remotely the most important part of the show, I didn’t like the omission in episode 4. For background, I walk into these restaurants cold. I’ve only been rejected/put on pause once and only one place held any history for me as a customer. Olga’s was a spot I came across on a Yelp search. The location is impossible to find through casual driving. I stopped in post lunch rush and had the place to myself. Two sentences in my explanation the owner was all in and offered to give me a sample (full order) gratis. I negotiated that I’d pay for an entree so effectively it was a buy one get one free. This was the first time that someone saw the value in what I was doing to make such an offer and subsequently it became the 1st time that I shot the food on site. Cool. It felt like some progress in this time of growing pains.

Ultimately, the next camera needs to at least have zebras. The audio recorder needs to perform better than the on-camera mic. The monitor should kind of allow me to calibrate it. And on and on…

Production Notes for Overcooked Vegan Episode 4

Episode 4 is live as of 5 am or so my time.  Episode 3 was supposed to be the last bit of lemonade however this episode went up without a restaurant overview because it was delay another day (I try to launch early Tuesday mornings) while I get footage today or get it out. I’ve adjusted the compression settings so the compression is 8x faster but it takes 5 to 6.5 hours to upload the thing. That would have meant another Thursday launch and I don’t want to feel that burn again.

Because I launched ep 3 on a Thursday before a holiday weekend, it got lost in the throng. Subsequently, I don’t understand YouTube‘s counter because it fluctuates browser to browser and if I look at the analytics from Google, there are massively more views than what the tube admits. Oddly enough, I don’t really care about the view count aside that it poisons a viewer into thinking it’s not worth their time. My main goal is to make steady gains in the production technique and package it all longer format later.

I’ve been up all night making certain that the upload went successfully, so I’m cooked right now and should keep this short. Reigning myself in now.

Pre-production: Given that I had to animate a doll for ep 3 because of the quantity of flakes, I opted to go through Backstage.com and pull some actors. One was vegan. One was not. Both showed up early. The problem that arose was the location people… chose… non-communication as communication. I am not going to go any deeper than that. I’ll just say that it led to the clusterf**k that this episode became. And not that the episode is all bad but I wanted every episode to be a building block not a further display of crisis management skills. Que sera… or wutEVaaa.

Production: Having to split locations and alter the time frame, I gambled that I could get away with on-camera mic only. Master class of WRONG! Audio sounds more hellish than normal. I had to bounce light to the ceiling for flat, whack light. And for the coup’deville to the coupe de grace, I didn’t get a proper money shot on the first food item. Is youuu CRAZY?!! Time crunch like a mofo, man.

Post Pro: Minimal color correction. The first segment took over a day to edit because it had the most going against it. Having to deal with the producer part of the production had sapped my energy and I didn’t push the guy properly. He did a good job on his own but I fell flat as a director in both instances, I feel. So that led into a messy edit and me choosing not to re-cook the dish to cut in. Time was most important so I felt it best to take the hit and put it in the wind. The 2nd segment cut in under two hours. That’s probably because it was more cooking show formulaic and the weight of the location shift had already passed. I normally render segment plates then add music and bugs for the final output but it was more expeditious to copy and paste the edited elements into the output timeline then export it all to Compressor. After that, drag to YouTube, alter the web sites, post to social media, sleep for an hour then type this then hit the streets hunting.

Pre-pro 5: Don’t let the same mistakes occur. Start integrating the plotted elements. Lock down one more participant. Practice the beauty lighting speed. Get the lavaliere working. Keep on pushing.

Production Notes for Overcooked Vegan Episode 3

You might notice something a little fake about one of the presenters in episode 3 of Overcooked Vegan.

episode type is too damn small

episode type is too damn small

I had joked with a friend that I would start animating a doll if I had anymore no shows. That became a planned segment I was preparing for episode 5 or 6. I wanted it to be smooth animation and build a nice set. As I alluded to in the last production note, I had a person cancel 34 minutes before the shoot and she has never been heard from again. I’m fine with that. However, the cauliflower was blameless and aging. I then I had several more cancellations and someone no show/no call that I would not have expected to do so. So, I frankenstein-ed a segment for Episode 3.

Initially, it was to be Spicy Curry Potatoes, Cauliflower and some asparagus thing. I’m not big on asparagus. It went bad (rotted) so only the 1st two dishes were possible to salvage. I called some people whose numbers I hadn’t tried in many years. Voicemail. Bah. That turned my Sunday into a cooking day. Neither dish takes over 20-25 minute to cook. Prep time isn’t too bad… UNLESS YOU’RE #@$%*! ANIMATING A FAKE BARBIE DOLL ON THE FLY! This lovely knock off from Jieyang has almost no weight to her. Under a proper set up, I would have added weight in areas and shot metal into her feet or used modeling clay.

I had to bumrush the animation. The doll was held in one hand. I made certain to leave one finger designated as the shutter button. Of course that certainty immediately dissolved and I was washing my hands every couple of minutes. I purposely left the camera on autofocus because I needed less to do. What would have taken an hour had the talent arrived those weeks ago turned that Sunday into a 3+ hour production. I ordinarily attempt to have the dishes cooking simultaneously no matter who is cooking. You can’t do that with a doll in your hand. And the funniest thing to me is that the manufacturer molded protruding nipples. Strange.

I don't set up light during the regular shoot. Think I did with tumeric and paprika stuck to my hands?

I don’t set up light during the regular shoots. Think I did with tumeric and paprika stuck to my 9b$@3-ing hands?

The other task was writing for the voiceover. Circumstances were not ideal but I do appreciate Batani-Khalfani coming through and laying down the overdub. I was juggling several projects so I omitted some things that I thought were funny and that might explain the root of the jokes better. Things that I obvious to me, as I strained to overdo my normal dry humor, might not translate as well without the proper set ups. I have no invite to write for any network comedies so I guess I can keep playing with dolls.

The name of the character had to be that way. 17-20 years ago I had a meeting at Mattel®. I had stripped all offensive items from my portfolio… except the one of with the pile of bleeding Barbies™ being stepped on. Total oversight. Totally haven’t gotten any work from them EVER. It was humorous. Head nodding in approval for everything then BAM! I’m not the world’s best designer, anyway. So, Barbéi’s tatoo says “Made in Jieyang, China”. Just because she’s plastic, does it make her a liar? From there, I was going to have her “exoticize” herself by claiming she was part this, part that in percentages that don’t add up. That slipped my mind. What you get is that her family history is a bit too close to too many things. I was trying to go the McDowells’ Coming to America riff. Shaw Bros became Shawz. Run Run became Walk Walk. Bruce Li, Bruce Le, Bruce Lie, became Bryce Léi. I mixed two different readings so that it seemed like she didn’t know what accent she was doing moment to moment.

Overall it wasn’t too difficult since I was going in for the hack job style. The 3 hours of standing was a bit arduous. I had a wall of things to do so that compressed post-production and brought me to releasing the episode on a day that no one will probably see it. I had to cut some animation out because I didn’t have any extra dub. But it’s all cool. I think it’s ok. I haven’t watched it yet as an entire show, just pieces. Work to do now. Gone.