Documentary burn center

I’m going to have to make some new callouses soon, I know. The trailer has Ramsey Lewis’s “Dark Eyes” which I have not yet cleared but “it’s temp”…right? There’s the necessity of discipline to counter the time slippage, the motivation drain, the vampires, meteorites falling on your head. You keep on pushing because this m***rf**** ain’t going to push itself.

Pajaud: Art + Work

Three hours searching for rights holders of 5 images, I found 4 and the remainder remains mysterious. Fees range from $50 per to $499. Well… there only about 200 more to go through. Clearing audio, I started with audio from UCLA’s Special Collection Library. Audio of Pajaud being interviewed, $250 per incident. Let me tell you briefly about documentary productions as I’m learning on the fly: Pain in le’keister. I knew prior to seeing this through but now I know. I know. I know. See the copious amount of ointment and gauze making me look like a mummy?

My subject died in 2015, a few weeks before his 90th birthday. He was a cool old dude. His wife has been a cool dudette. Pajaud (William Etienne Pajaud, Jr. to be specific) got to see the skeleton of this before he moved on so everything else has been polish. That spit shine glow has yield a mountain of clearances and a pile of low resolution images that I need to replace to make it street legal: meaning I can’t do any commercial shit with it. No TV, license streaming rights, home video…


As an individual, you don’t do a documentary expecting a huge payoff. Big wigs have their payoff already on deck. My wig, not big. I would like to break even on the costs and get the doc out there on the widest platforms possible to give Pajaud and his intersections the greatest exposure. I’ve substituted some of the imagery with animation and for audio I’ve been sneaking my axes out of their coffins. You know I can’t replace the distinct sound of Dinah Washington. Oh the horror! Maybe around 2011 I’d asked Pajaud if there was some music he preferred. He said definitively, “Cristo Redentor” by Donald Byrd. I use the original on the front end and his later rendition on the tail.

Eyes On The Prize and Killer of Sheep, if I’m correct, were two flicks that didn’t see a home video release for years because of music clearances. You have to decide if the music is integral to the project. I haven’t made my decision yet as I haven’t gotten to the music phase of the cost research but don’t be surprised if the soundtrack reads “Crisco Repentor” by the time I’m done with the abacus.

513kbfsfmdl-_sx344_bo1204203200_Between boring the shit doing Google and Bing image searches I’ve been reading this Clearance & Copyright book to refine my understanding of the game. 100 pages in, I’d say it’s cleanly written. I should probably skip to the parts I need but I find the ancillary information interesting and helpful. For the 1st time I’m considering the whole crowdfunding thing for the clearances. My “I ain’t working on this anymore” deadline is end of August but if you look it up on IMDB it claims that the doc was finished in 2013. Incorrect. Hell, I’ve had at least two major hard drive and logic board failures between then and 2017 which required me to re-cut the thing from scratch. It actually has made for better versions.

Anyway, I need to prep for my eyelids to take over. Crisco Repentor can wait a few more days.

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.

Production Notes for Episode 2: A Cauliflower’s Lament

How much time does it take to make a carrot?

How much time does it take to make a carrot? Click the mofo and find out, mofo!

With Episode 2 launched into the internet ethers as of an hour ago I’ve pondered which things I’ve learned over the years still apply. Technically there are several areas that I can pay more attention towards as the repetition builds. Presently the productions are about the same time as the food preparation and the actual cooking. That makes my approach more eng-style but I have to find the balance with the beauty shots. The sound is less of importance to me at the moment because I KNOW right now I’m getting the best I can with what I have. I will be tweaking the approach but there does come a time when you know practical limitations.

As a producer, I’m running into far too many cancellations. Yesterday’s cancellation was the only legitimate one in the last four weeks. The penultimate one was 25 minutes or so before shoot time. When there is no leverage (agency pressure, remuneration, etc.) you really become reliant on the trustworthiness of anonymous people. That is probably not a successful model for goal attainment; Just ask the $4.30 head of cauliflower that didn’t get to make its onscreen debut because of said cancellation. Sifting through other methods of talent acquisition becomes a secondary priority.

Oddly, the first priority is the same one with any business: Marketing, promotion. I soft launched episode one with the biggest pillow possible. I might have sent 2 or 3 tweets and a couple of posts from here or there. Maybe a couple of emails went out to a couple of people. My dilemma was proper launch or get it out then play catch up. They arguably will cost the same amount of time but the immediate effects are different. Getting an episode into the world meant that people who didn’t understand the premise, now understand it better and have made verbal commitment to participate. It doesn’t necessarily stimulate a timeliness to their participation. That is like watching a cold molasses run versus paint drying in a thunder storm race. Launching also means I have to show hit reach and whatnot to whom it might concern sooner but that’s closer to speculating with Santa might bring me for Flag Day. I’m more of a peddler than a pitch man anyway but that helped facilitate the decision.

So, things are coming, it’s just uphill both ways. I have to get my jet packs fixed.

Overcooked Vegan ep1 is up

The episode is finally uploaded. It took about 7 or 8 hours. I’m too cooked to tweak the web site however I guess I can post the link here to the video. I have a couple more close to ready but I need to figure out the proper release window. First, I’d like to get some reaction so I’ll stumble along for the moment.

YouTube obliterated the pixels. Maybe it’s a bandwidth thing on my end. If not, I’m going to have to upload elsewhere in the future. My prior post’s comment about YouTube signal degradation/recompression to 720p might be in play which means reassessing compression necessities and/or where the show is to be hosted. Thoughts for a different day or at least a different time.

Let me link this thing up before I forget.

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.

Dino Cop & Other Law Enforcement

My god son used to go a filmmaking program at UCLA as a preteen through his early teens. The first movie I saw of his was an animated non sequitur of clay titled “Dino Cop”. The highlight of which was an earthquake on the set that split the city streets revealing what everyone suspects: Lava flows immediately once you penetrate the asphalt and the thin layer of the Earth’s crust. As I think about it, my first or second clay animation was an abhorrent monster movie with stylized giant monsters. My son’s first solo animation was the visionary exercise “Clash of Monsters”. Monster blood is deep.

Kid brains don’t think the same as adult ones. With ignorance of story structure they can deliver some bat-shit crazy creations. While listening to the Major Spoilers Podcast, I heard Matthew reviewing Axe Cop. I had never read the comic nor seen the show so it sparked my interest that he said that the comic originated from two brothers. The older brother (mid-20s at the time) would listen to stories from his 5 year old brother and made a graphic novel out of it. As you would expect, it’s sheer madness. Numerous decapitations, dinosaur with machine gun hands, villains that shoot fruit from their body, etc. represent Axe Cop’s world of disorder. That’s the platinum fruit of the barbarian (as all little boys should be). Once civilized (hopefully), the adulterated stories need a “love interest”, targeting, branding, pretension, cliché and acknowledgement. The conflict is to evolve the thought and focus the wild streaks. A kid makes stories to have fun and nothing should get in the way of it.

“And my father told my mother, ‘Let that boy boogie woogie. It’s in him an’ it gots ta come out.’ And I felt so good, I just boogied all the same.” – John Lee Hooker, Boogie Chillen

As it is, I’ve only seen this Axe Cop: The Beginning youtube-thing.  It has unicorn babies, family time-travel homicide, giant robots, etc. It might not be the greatest flight of nuttiness that I’ve seen but I’m glad that it’s primarily from the mind of a child. A lot of the modern cartoons that I’ve seen clips of seem to originate from weed heads scratching themselves between wars of flatulence. Re-inspired, my new animation should hit production in the next few units of time. My goal will be to let the wild notions go loose. But if that doesn’t work, I’ll just lift ideas from my son and he can sue me in civil court after gaining his emancipation. Oh yeah, he’s been in production on his new animation over several months. The completion date is hard to determine, though. Adios.

Side note: For those who haven’t yet seen the glory:

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.