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.

Indentured Euphemisms

I cover the waterfront… watching… ships come in

A bit of hearsay led me to recollection of one of my early jobs. I was a… cheap laborer, scrub, security, courier, henchman for a real estate company. The courier part of the job allowed me to know the streets of Los Angeles, the valley and Long Beach intimately – Thomas-Guide-A-Sutra. I figured out routes that cut travel time. Decades later, those paths no longer exist. One gig, my Celica (or 280zx) and I, and a 14oz cup sat 14.5 hours watching a construction site from half a block away to make certain no one absconded with building materials in the dark of night.

Later, after I fell 2 stories at another site where they had me doing spiderman crap on apartments they were moving, they let me go for fear that their shenanigans would finally catch up to them and they’d get sued to all hell. Being short-sighted they hired the preacher’s son and after months of late deliveries and compromised packages they came to see how exploiting me were their glory days ne’er to return. See, I never opened a single package. The Preacher’s son however had been opening the packages and skimming serious cash. Had I known the contents, I would have quit on the spot. They were using me for what they should have used an armoured car to do. It’s an odd thing for the people in a business to have zero interest in the safety and quality of your life. I’ve been railing on about internships lately as well as kids working for the Hollywood allure of having their name scroll by at warp speed in the end credits and another entry on IMDB.

“The sheriff is near?”

Last week I got a promo for a photo contest. Maybe I’m exaggerating but they appeared to have 30 judges… all white, equitable ratio male : female. The judges mirrored my last meeting where I felt like the Sheriff in Blazing Saddles (Which is not unusual). AKA The norm. The norm doesn’t always imply intention but it does display ignorance in its dictionary sense of word. Many times people just don’t know because they’ve never had to think about it. Some know and don’t care. They use terms like “fit the culture” which is a euphemism for exclusionary practices. My norm is that I have no choice but to observe the make up of the population of a company. I count the genders, the ethnicities, the offices vs the cubicles. It strangely is not a complaint. I mainly want to know how far away I am from “The Culture” (insert deep echo effect here).

Back at the house. Back to cutting.

(Typed on smartphone while waiting in a parking lot. Edits forth coming)

Slow… Production Notes 02

1st. Don’t underestimate how slow your web connection might be. I’m 310 minutes away (according to YouTube) from having this thing fully uploaded. With that I’m minimizing my web use aside from a couple of posts to minimize the upload failing.

2nd. Compressing files into MP4 for upload is #$%$ing slow as slow can be. ProRes took minutes for final plates. The MP4 (h264) took 2 hours or so to spit out the 1080 at a svelte 1.6 GB file size. What a bargain! I considered a 720 upload because that’s what the videos used to be resampled down to by YouTube (if I recall correctly) but I’m not certain if they do that anymore. Hubris, I call thee!!!!!

3rd. Don’t make one little change because it’s early in the morning. At 5:30 am I got the brilliant idea to add another section to the show. It was strictly a test. But each test needs an intro and each intro need a build before it is animated. “Bobby Jimmy, you a fool!” (For you old KDAY heads). One test begat another test. A whole lot of begatting got gatted until 11:30. But oh no, you have an appointment at noon. Fool. Anyway, 296 minutes until upload is complete.

Tests can become infinite tests. It can also be a sign of self-sabotage. I wasn’t sabotaging myself but this day’s timeline is blown.

4th. I would read a book but I’m damn near cross-eyed from mad dogging this computer for the bulk of today.

5th. Keep on trucking. The good parts don’t exist without the hard parts.

6th. I established a Youtube channel for Overcooked Vegan instead of lumping it in with Megafunk videos. I don’t know if that’s the best thing for SEO but I can’t know everything. Work in progress, baby bubba. 277 minutes.

Ok, radio silence until this thing is up.

Dig yourself out of the hole - Not deeper

Dig yourself out of the hole – Not deeper

Gears & Sprockets: Production Notes 1

June 1st is the launch date for OvercookedVegan, a vegan cooking show that I’ve had on the idea shelf for years. I started in earnest in pre-production in January 2015 after sporadically doing camera tests over the course of a year and a half. Given the budget of negative bazillion, I needed to figure out how to make every bit of gear that I had or could get could work. I already have enough personal projects choking because gear deficiency.

megafunk - bell pepper

Stuffed Bell Pepper

I’m fairly ignorant of cooking shows, even now, but I knew I wanted to do something that was different or at least a different spin than the individual personality on a set look that I had known since seeing Pasadena-born Julia Child on those shows in the 70s. That fact that I’m very low key about my diet led me to the natural course of stories that I wanted to show. The problem that came to me during I initial scheduling: It was taking multiple communication attempts just to get fake responses. “Sure. Let’s do it. I’ll call you back Wednesday!” I guess they didn’t specify which Wednesday.

After stewing in irritation for awhile I reached out to a caterer who I had met during an APA portfolio review. She enthusiastically agreed to do a segment and that got me started to at least get my feet wet and be able to assess what I could actually accomplish. Immediately I saw how I would need to change the narrative as well as the shooting style. I needed to keep everything as streamlined as possible. The lifestyle aspect of the show had to be tempered until I could guarantee more idealized talent and I needed to run and gun solo but not obsess over the light. The basic set up involves a camera on sticks (when possible) and 1 hand held, an audio recorder, 3 650 tungsten/halogens in the bag, assorted gels and diffusion material.


Jamaican Vegan Plate

I try and keep each recording down to a little more than the prep time and the cook time. Also, I’m only buying the food same day if I don’t have history with the person or 1 day in advance if I have good history with the talent. Talent has been an issue but I’m using the web more for better or worse. My non-internet contacts have been exhausted but I feel talent problems will be alleviated as the first couple of episodes release.

Social media is a problem. I barely have time, interest and concern for megafunk’s entries. Now I’ve added twitter, facebook, etc. for Overcooked. It’s the natural of today’s beast but I admit I’m slacking. The past two weeks have been determining a workflow. I’m still putting together a proper folder structure and figure out FCPX’s wrangling of different projects without having to render out project plates to re-import. FCP X (TEN!) does not seem to handle sequential tifs with burns me up a bit given that they were supported in 7. I started cutting the trailer in Premiere Pro just for variety but I needed the speed and I can cut much faster in X.

Anyway, somewhere around midnight barring snafu I’ll upload episode one. More notes to follow. Trailer 1.

No Critters in them Fritters

I need to eat instead of post.

I need to eat instead of post.

Launching next week is a food project that I’ve been strategizing for awhile. Overcooked is a vegan cooking/lifestyle show. I’ll get more into depth on the production end of things on this blog whereas the entertainment end of it will be localized to the site. It is a bit of soft launch as things come together.

On the production end, the theme, title treatment and a bunch of other things have to be put together. It’s possibly more than I can finish in 8 days but time will reveal. Back to the bricks.

Technology doesn’t age well

My knees haven’t either. I kind of suckered myself to upgrade the main machine to Mavericks and to no fault of the software, the nightmares commenced.

Why can't figure out don't mess with $Hi+?!?!?

Why can’t you figure out don’t mess with $Hi+?!?!?

It’s been a stabile OS but some of the little things are driving me up a wall. Multiple AVCHD files got compiled into one generic QuickTime looking file with the plebeian moniker “AVCHD. It crossed my mind to right click it to “Show Package Contents” and there were all the little nasties that I had expected. Apple has yet to care that I cannot stand them forcing their sense of file management/order onto my heretic views. Dragging the SD card onto the paperwork machine (running Lion), every process was what I was use to seeing.

This was probably the first time that a system upgrade burned me but deadlines and a long neighborhood power outage forced me into it as my patience wouldn’t allow me to make my deadlines. So I made those immediate deadlines with great struggle but now the new deadlines are suffering. It’s nothing that a proper maintenance day won’t cure but I should have a figured out a way not to get into the position in the first place. Until this time, I always throughly checked software compatibility and nuances like that AVC wrapper thing. Circumstances, man, circumstances…

By the way, experts: It’s OS Roman numeral TEN not ECKS. Bugs the hell out of me. Final Cut TEN not ECKS, mofos.

Going through storage, I hoisted out a Beta SP deck, a U-Matic deck, a Laserdisc player, and a VHS player for some necessary video transfers. Man, those tapes are ill. Tracking is jacked and changes through the tapes. I found a clean copy of the item on LaserDisc online (shiver me timbers, matey), and I’m still scrubbing these damn tapes.

Old tech was new tech and all tech is a pain in the posterior.

Manatee of Insanity v.2

“You’re So Vain” has been in my head for a few months. We all filter our observation through our own biases and depending upon our stuffing, we gauge the conclusions accordingly. I saw my son awaken Saturday with zeal in his eye. “Dad, I want to animate now”. It was 7am and he hadn’t yet drained the weasel but he was fired up to have Godzilla destroy Mechagodzilla and collateral damage be damned. So he set upon animation monster test #4 while I prepared his monster fuel (breakfast).

A month or so ago I had come across a sale price on a better camera for him that was too good to pass up. We had done a test animation a year and a half ago but now it seemed like he was finally ready to focus and submit to the madness of animation affliction.”It shocked me when I saw how long it took,” he says but the thrill of doing it himself is great. After learning the ropes, test 2 and on have been primarily without my help. He even did some of the visual effects by himself. It’s a cold glimpse into the future of a father’s obsolescence as adolescences stalks along the periphery.

Using your imagination to animate and make movies has to be a burning desire (at least when it’s for intrinsic reward). It’s not that he doesn’t enjoy other things, it’s that he maintains the zeal throughout the day and works on his movies everyday at this phase. He had come prepared with storyboards for test animation #4! I wasn’t expecting that. After 2 months of rubber stamped nonsense from other entities, it’s good to see this particular routine established for however long it lasts. The determination to your end goal is displayed by the discipline of pursuit.

As it is, I want my boy to be able to do everything on his own and his efforts rewarded solely onto him. The key element of vicariousness for me is only in remember the manic energy that I used to put into animation. I’m appreciative of that reminder.

Olympic Animation

It doesn’t look like I’ll make it to the London Olympics this year. My spreading arthritis and lack of skill leave me ineligible for the steeplechase yet again. Le sigh. However, none of those present afflictions disallow me from viewing the BBC’s opening sequence. Animated by hand then converted to CG, this is something that I’d like to see more of in narrative. As it is, I like the music choice also. It’s almost compelled me to finish my animation from the U.I Series.

Click for article and video.

Click for article and video.

More info at Creativity.