Insert Aphorism About Rain Here

Today was a very busy day at work. Sometimes I wonder why we even bother to plan things out ahead of time. It always changes. Of course I’d rather be organized about my job and have to modify my plans, then rely on total chaos. Chaos theory makes good quirky movie characters as played by Jeff Goldblum. It’s makes real life a pain in the ass if you have deal with it.

Yesterday the plan was that we had to turn over our work by early Saturday morning for a screening on Monday. About lunch time today we found out that now the screening is Friday so the editorial is due Thursday at noon. Ouch.

Cameron’s been cutting away like a mad man. I got all those new sound effects we recorded yesterday mastered and added into the library. They worked out great with this picture. I spent a large chunk of the day today auditioning sound from the library ahead of Cameron and handing him lists so that by the time he got to areas he needed to cut, I had already narrowed things down for him. Trying to speed this whole process up.

Tomorrow we’re in early for more. I hope I don’t have to miss the Sleater Kinney show tomorrow night.

15 Minutes

In celebration of my going back to work, I’m going to let you in on a little secret…

I’m on the “S.W.A.T.” DVD. Yeah, you know the movie. Colin Farrell, Sam Jackson & LL Cool J. You can see me out in the desert recording guns for the movie.

  1. Pop in the DVD
  2. Select “Special Features”
  3. Select the Next Arrow “>>>” for the second page
  4. Select “Sound & Fury: The Sounds of S.W.A.T.”
  5. Select “The Sounds of S.W.A.T.”
  6. Select the Headphones
  7. I first show up at about 1:28.

Jon & Cameron preparing to record guns for S.W.A.T.

That little featurette tells you a little bit about what we do. Plus there’s some cool scene breakdowns where you can listen to how we divide up the sounds for predubbing. (It’ll work in stereo, but a 5.1 speaker setup really shows off our stuff.)

Men At Work

I had my first day back at work today. It was exhausting. Not that a ton of stuff happened. The first day after a chunk of time off is always tough. Inevitably during my free time I slip in the habit of staying up as late as I want and sleeping until whenever I feel like getting out of bed. When I’m working I usually follow a strict regemin of getting up at 6am and going to bed somewhere between 10pm and 11pm. These two schedules clash hard those first few days back to work.

We spent a couple hours in a spotting session for the movie we’re working on. The picture editor wants us to punch up the sound a bit before he shows the cut to the director on Monday. So a lot of it was fast forward through sections. “This is fine. Our temp FX are working here.” That kind of thing. Then there’d be moments like, “This car chase is ok, but it’s not great. See if you can help it a bit.”

It’s a 7 reel show right now. Typically reels are no more than 20 minutes long. Most dramatic features are 6 reels at release and most comedies are 5. It’s not uncommon early on for a show to be a little long while they figure out what’s working and what’s not.

I got the videotapes and loaded the first 4 reels in the computer. And I converted the OMF exports of the editor’s audio tracks to Pro Tools sessions. (Tomorrow morning I’ll have to finish loading the other videos.)

We set up a Pro Tools system at Cameron’s house several months ago, and moved certain things from the office there because we weren’t working for awhile. We knew we had to bring some of that back to get this job done so we took off about 3pm to go back to his house and gather those drives and CDs up.

We also had to record some sound effects that the editor wanted after the spotting session. So we spent several hours in the afternoon rolling cans along the floor, making hinges squeak, and bumping luggage around on the sidewalk. Tomorrow I’ll load that DAT into the computer and master the sound effects we recorded.

It’s good to be back, and tomorrow will be fun. After getting all that new material into the computer, my job is to figure out all the backgrounds that are necessary and cut them into place.

Damn Damn Damn

I just finished reading “Crossroads of Twilight” by Robert Jordan, the tenth book in his Wheel of Time series. Damn! This series is really good, and there aren’t anymore books to read yet. I’m having a hard time figuring out how large it will be by the time he’s finally done. At this point it would seem that it could easily reach 20 books. Massive.

Well there is one more book, “New Spring”, which came out in hardcover in January. That one is a prequel novel though. I still want to read it, but it takes place 20 years or so before “The Eye Of The World”. There was a lot of frustration from readers over Jordan’s release of this latest book, and I can understand. He’s left nearly every major character in a cliff hanger at the end of “Crossroads” and then he goes and releases a novel that doesn’t continue the story.

I’ll just have to be patient, but it’s difficult. It will very likely be a year before Robert Jordan releases another book. And it could be much longer.

set mt3 to “good” as string

(What can I say? I’m more of an AppleScripter than a programmer.)

I’ve been playing with the new Movable Type 3. It’s pretty great. For those of you who haven’t seen this yet, Six Apart has changed their licensing plan for the software from what was announced a few days ago.

Old Plan

  • 1 author / 3 blogs / Free
  • 3 authors / 5 blogs / $70
  • 6 authors / 8 blogs / $120
  • 9 authors / 10 blogs / $150

New Plan

  • 1 author / 3 blogs / Free
  • 5 authors / 5 blogs / $70
  • 10 authors / 10 blogs / $120
  • 13 authors / 13 blogs / $150

Plus you can add 1 author and 1 blog to any paid license for $10.

It’s pretty friendly now. After seeing this new plan and thinking about it, I’ve decided to stick with Movable Type. In fact I’ve already paid for my license. I haven’t updated this site yet. I’m testing the new version out in the background first and will bring the new version online when I’m ready.

The whole Export entries and Import entries function works really well. I’m able to work with an exact copy of this site in my test site with those functions. Maybe these functions have always worked well. I don’t know. I never had to use them before. I’m impressed that it brings over Comments as well. I’m guessing it would do the same for Trackbacks but no one’s ever done a Trackback ping to my site so I don’t know.

The new Comment Management is exactly what I was looking for. It makes me very happy.

I’m also glad that they’ve switched to XHTML. There’s actually a few bugs with the default templates. They don’t validate as XHTML 1.0 Transitional. I’ve already put in a report about this to Six Apart along with a couple of other fixes they could do to make it possible to do XHTML 1.0 Transitional, XHTML 1.0 Strict, or XHTML 1.1 right out of the box. All the end user would have to do is put in the appropriate DOCTYPE in the template.

One other important point: they consider a weblog to be the actual site that you’re looking at. So if for example you’re using another weblog to feed a blog roll to your weblog, that’s still only one weblog as far as licensing is concerned. That’s very cool of them.

Ok, I’m off to do some more playing. Plus I have to finish reading “Crossroads of Twilight” this weekend. I don’t want to be distracted when I go back to work on Monday.

Good News

Back to work on Monday. Woohoo! Bad news. We’re on a week to week basis. So I’ve got one week of work guaranteed and we’ll just see from there. Hey, work is work. I’m not complaining. And since I can make as much in a week doing sound as I can in a month on the state’s unemployment, it’ll be a nice little cash influx every once in a while until we can get on another show fulltime.

I wish the unemployed versus employed timing was a little better with this extra super bonus hardware trade-in from Digidesign. The offer ends on June 30. I might have to bite the bullet and bring my Mix Plus up to an HD 2 Accel.

MT3. Is It For Me?

The thing that everyone who has one of these websites was talking about yesterday is the new version of Movable Type. Six Apart, the company that makes the software, unveiled Movable Type 3.0 Developer Edition complete with a new licensing scheme. The uproar began.

There’s a few issues here. The first is that Movable Type has sort of been free for personal websites. They strongly encouraged you to donate $20, but basically free. The version was not stripped down in anyway. You could have basically as many blogs as you wanted with as many authors as you wanted all on that one piece of software running on a server. This is no longer the case.

Now they have a licensing plan for personal websites as such:

  • 1 author / 3 blogs / Free
  • 3 authors / 5 blogs / $70
  • 6 authors / 8 blogs / $120
  • 9 authors / 10 blogs / $150

Now add to this the fact that prior to yesterday, Six Apart always maintained that MT3 would come in a free version and a Pro version. The Pro would obviously have many more features. Based on the information that they now have out about MT3, this no longer seems to be the case.

Many people were using Movable Type to publish many different weblogs with many different authors and now they’re seeing that if they want to upgrade they’re going to have to pay $100 or more to be able to do the same thing.

I can understand the anger and frustration. But I’m also a firm believer in paying for software. I own two copies of all my software for my two computers. Microsoft Office, Filemaker Pro, Toast, Pro Tools, etc. And having to buy lots of software for Post Production Sound, I definitely know that specialty stuff can be very expensive. Some of these companies might only sell 1000 copies of their software and they have employees to support with that. I’ve bought several pieces of audio software that are more than $1000 each. That’s just the way it goes.

However there is a bit of a personal impact on this new Movable Type development. Literally a month ago I switched this website from iBlog to Movable Type. Right now it’s setup with 1 author (me) and 1 blog (this one). Pretty easy. I’m clear to use the free version.

When you’re developing changes to your website, really shouldn’t play with the site itself. It’s better to do a test mock-up and when that is correct, apply the changes to the original site. So you need 1 more blog for testing. 1 author, 2 blogs. Still clear.

Right now I have a fairly basic configuration of my website. I’ve always planned on adding in more functionality. If you look at a lot of Movable Type tutorials, you’ll see that a lot of those say something like, “Make a new blog and delete all the templates.” A lot of the ways that people have made Movable Type do what they want is with multiple blogs all being used by the main or actual blog itself. So I can do one of these and still be free.

And then comes in the question of multiple authors. I thought that one day my brother might want to run his own. Or maybe some friends would get together and do something. Or maybe we resurrect Right Turn Clyde. Who knows. The point is that suddenly I’m not sure if 5 weblogs is enough or 6 authors. Yes, it’s not now, but do I want to lock myself into a piece of software when I find in 6 months that I need to support 20 authors and suddenly I’m looking at paying $600 for that.

I’m not quite sure what to do. I do know that when I switched to Movable Type, I had to set up a massive redirect page to handle the differences in filenames and directory structures. And that was with a site that got maybe 10 visitors a day and had about 50 entries. Now I’m getting about 40 visitors a day and I’m at nearly 90 entries, and to have to move that to a new system with new filenames and directories is a bit daunting.

I have a few things that I’d really like to be able to do with Movable Type (or with whatever my weblog software finally ends up being).

The first is better integration with BBEdit. If you’re a Mac user and you haven’t used BBEdit, you’re missing out. Big time. (There’s a piece of software I can say is completely worth the asking price.) I use BBEdit to write up my entries, check spelling (if I remember), and add all my XHTML markup. Then I copy and paste that into the MT New Entry webpage. It would be nice if it could be a bit more seamless. I already have an AppleScript in mind that would cut down on things a bit but it’s not really integration. If anyone knows of something, I’d love to hear about it.

The second is a full comments management page. Having moved from iBlog, I was using Haloscan for comments. They had a page you could log into that showed all comments from all postings. You could make replies right from that page. You could also quickly make changes to many different comments from many different pages. Much easier than the page by page system that’s in MT2.6.

The third would be dynamic sections. These could be blogrolls (lists of other blogs you like), books from Amazon, quotes of the day, whatever. But something that’s easier to go in a change quickly. Maybe it means more Bookmarklets. I don’t know. This is one area in particular where people used separate blogs to make it easier to update content.

And the fourth thing I would like to see is static pages. It’s great that MT makes all this dynamic updating and commenting easy, but everyone needs static pages too. Again, people got around this with separate blogs, and again it starts cutting into the chance of a free MT3.

Maybe my hopes and desires are in the new Movable Type 3. I haven’t downloaded it and tried it out. But another huge thing that’s missing is the “Here’s what’s new in version 3” page that every other software publisher would have up. If Six Apart had that, I might know the answer to my question.

It seems that they do have a “What’s New” page. It’s just buried under Support instead of a big shiny link on the main page. According the the “What’s New” page, they do have the comment management page I’m looking for. Yay! Not sure about the rest yet. (And I know that BBEdit integration really doesn’t have anything to do with Six Apart themselves. I’d just like to see it.)

Looking At Iraq Through A Soldier’s Eyes

I stumbled across this very interesting weblog written by a female soldier in Iraq. It’s cool to find someone in an extraordinary situation doing something that many of us would have trouble imagining ourselves doing, and yet talking about life in a very ordinary way.

It reminds you that we’re all people–whether we’re soldiers or Iraqi civilians or people back home reading about stuff online. We all have similar hopes and dreams. We all have things that annoy us or make us afraid. We’re not all riding old ladies like donkeys or chopping people’s heads off. Most of us are just regular people trying to live our lives the best we can.

Plus she’s a Buffy fan! (Did I mention that I saw Sarah Michelle Gellar and her husband when I went to see “Hellboy”? They were sitting a few rows behind me.)

My “To Hit Armor Class 0” is 12

Some time around third grade, probably about 1983, I had my first encounter with Dungeons & Dragons. My friend Dave, his older brother John, and I would play it after school with some of the other kids in the neighborhood. I still remember the day my mom took me to the local hobby shop and I bought my very own copy of the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set in the red box. John was the person who introduced me to J.R.R. Tolkien, and that year I read “The Hobbit” for the first time. We used to spend hours making characters–using the lists in the back of “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Silmarillion” for names–and playing adventures.

My brother and I had a babysitter, Tom, the one who first introduced me to MTV, who was in high school. He played but decided he was getting a bit old for the game so he sold me his copies of the original Dungeon Masters Guide, Players Handbook, and Monster Manual for $10. (In fact they’re still packed away in a box in my mom’s attic. Very recently she called and said, “I have this box of D&D stuff here. Can I get rid of it?” I practically choked and said, “No, I’ll get it next time I’m back east.”)

My mom was never very comfortable with me playing the game. At the time it was very much in the news as a stepping stone for kids to get into Satanism and eventually killing themselves. She had the book “Mazes and Monsters” in her room and at one point she even sat me down to watch the TV movie. Even a few years later when I started to get more into music and starting listening to bands like Motley Crue on the radio, she would leave newspaper clippings on my desk about kids who’d commited suicide supposedly because they listened to too much heavy metal or played a Judas Priest record backwards or some other nonsense.

She never stopped me from playing but we did have to have our “talks” every once in a while to make sure I was never taking things too far. I always told her that it was a learning experience because it taught good math skills. It wasn’t much fun if you couldn’t add up a bunch of numbers or figure out percentages in your head quickly. “Ok, the orc is attacking you and… uh… 2 and uh… rolled a 13… uh…”

Eventually I got too old for the game myself. Not in my heart really. But junior high is a tough time for anyone, and playing D&D with nerds was a good way to get beaten up. A lot. Thankfully SSI released their first gold box Dungeons & Dragons computer game “Pool of Radiance” about the same time. And that’s when I switched from being a pen and paper player to a computer player. I’ve played pretty much every single D&D computer game that’s come out since 1988, and a lot of other role playing games as well. (Knights of the Old Republic, totally sweet.)

Recently I’ve thought more about my time with D&D, and the controversies surrounding it, and was it really good at teaching math? A lot of it is because my friend Cameron has a son who’s now 11. A few years ago he was way into Pokemon. Not too long ago it was Yu-Gi-Oh. And now he’s been showing me websites with a Superhero action figure game. It made me think about the huge scare that tended to surround Dungeons & Dragons. Yu-Gi-Oh and these other battling monster games are not that different on a basic level. And yet they have mainstream acceptance. The main difference with D&D, at least the way that I see it, is that it is all about story telling, creative immersion, and most importantly about choices of morality. Those kinds of things are probably what really scared people, even if they hid behind denouncements of Satanism. (I found a lot of Christian websites talking about the evils of D&D while looking up links for this post.)

Weird Stuff I Found On The Net

There’s a Kikkoman Soy Sauce commercial on TV here in the US which is totally insane. A mother yells “Kids! Dinner!” and they all come running from where ever they are playing. Except it’s some bizarro “Crouching Tiger” thing where they run across tree tops. It can’t hold a candle to this one. (Thanks to Neil Gaiman for pointing it out.)

And speaking of bizarro… I was kind of hoping this guy was doing an absurdist website–a Real Ultimate Power ninja kind of thing. Unfortunately the more I read, the more I think he’s just crazy.

Getting off with Game Controllers. I’m not sure what else to say. How come I never thought about this with the rumble packs and whatnot?