I’m A Fiddler Crab! Why Don’t You Shoot Me?! It’s Fiddler Crab Season!

In honor of the new Blacklist 2.0e, it’s open season on comments over here at MFTI. I’ve turned off moderation. I’m hoping that will encourage more people to join in the discussion. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Blacklist will be able to keep out most of the spam. Of course by signing up for a TypeKey account you can post comments to this weblog and many others around the world, quickly and easily bypassing the spam protection. So it’s up to you.

Christmas In August


Toys, toys, and more toys. And version 2.0 toys at that!


Not only do I now have the new MT-Blacklist 2.0e installed on my server, but I’m also writing this entry with the new ecto 2.0b3 software. Adriaan was kind enough to choose me as one of the select 50 commandos to put his software through its paces. I will admit that right now it feels like I’m sitting atop a strange beast. I’m normally a “type it up in BBEdit and paste it into the web form of Movable Type” kind of blogger. I’ve never used ecto before. I really have no preconceived notions of what it’s supposed to be like. I have been interested in finding a way to keep a local copy of posts. I was considering whipping something up with Filemaker Pro and AppleScript. Something to make finding and linking to previous entries, since I do that a lot, was the idea. I think I can do that with this program, but I’m not sure yet.

So never having used this software all these windows and drawers seem a little unwieldy at first. But it’s also an exciting beast. For one thing it seems to already figured out that I have Markdown and Smarty Pants installed on my server. It’s giving me the option to choose them as formatting options. That’s very slick.


Ok, I’m already getting a little weirded out by the way these images are getting inserted into my post. Obviously I need to spend a lot more time playing. It will certainly be an interesting few weeks!

Update: 11pm —

I’m having problems posting with this. I’m still testing it.

Update: 11:45pm —

Another test with some new settings. Again. Again.

Update: 11:55pm —

It’s now working properly. So here’s the deal: I was trying to post using ecto but it was giving me this error:

Parsing failure!

Could not parse response for “metaWeblog.editPost”. Please check the console log for more information.

The weird thing is that the posts were showing up on my website. It seems to have been related to the fact that I’m running my CGI scripts in a security wrapper. I followed the steps on a page that Adriaan directed me to and now things are working correctly.

Never Forget

The Shoah Foundation is set up in the building I’m working in. They’re all about documenting the Holocaust through survivor testimonies. It’s a remarkable undertaking.

Shoah Foundation Plaque

They have this amazing robotic video server behind glass in the lobby. A rotating high-density tape storage system holds thousands and thousands, probably tens of thousands, of 8mm tapes. Videotapes? Data tapes? I’m not sure.

High denisty tape storage

A robotic arm grabs tapes from the storage racks after scanning its barcode with a laser.

Robotic arm grabs a tape.

A then turns around a places it in one of several tape drives and gently taps it in.

Robotic arm inserts a tape in the drive.

There are also several racks of enormous SGI computers. I’m assuming that someone sits down at a computer and calls up a particular testimonial. The robot is then told which tape to retrieve, grabs it, and places it in the appropriate drive.

If every tape contains the testimony of one survivor they have a lot of stories archived. If there is more than one per tape, they have an enormous amount.

Say ‘Hello’ to Mr. Murphy

Tape wouldn’t print. Pro Tools kept crashing on “Save Session Copy In”. The copier decided it wanted to smear the right half of all pages so they’d be unreadable. The printer overheated so we couldn’t even print things outside of Tape. The narrow SCSI drives refused to mount. A crew member’s grandmother suddenly got deathly ill. And even though someone was nice enough to give us the left-overs from Brett Ratner’s dub stage for dinner, it was all Chinese food and I don’t really like Chinese food.

Yes, it definitely was the night before Temp 1.

What Up With That?

So I’m over here at Universal Studios working away. This place has to have the absolute slowest internet connection I’ve ever seen! And it’s a major film studio! I don’t know if the IT guys are throttling things back so that employees can’t waste bandwidth with streaming internet radio or something but it can absolutely crawl at times.

The picture department of the show I’m on is down in Hollywood. In traffic it can take a while to for a runner to get there and back with things. So we’re using an FTP site to exchange things like change notes, EDLs and composition-only OMFs. Yesterday it took me 45 minutes to download 37MB!

I’ve got one word for that: lame. Ok, how about two? Lame ass. Actually, maybe that should be hyphenated: lame-ass. So does that make it one word or two?

You Gotta Love The Mbox

My regular digital audio workstation that I use for my job is a Pro Tools 24|Mix Plus. It’s the old hardware, I know, but I haven’t really needed to upgrade to HD. (Though that support for breaking timecode in the 6.4 software makes it awfully tempting. Loading production sound roll DATs would be much easier.)

I’ve also been the owner of an Mbox for a while now but I never used it very much. I bought it with the thought that I could do work at home if I wanted to, but the situation never arose where I decided to do so. I also bought the DV Toolkit to unlock the timecode and feet+frames options so that Pro Tools LE is nearly identical to my full system in the office. Plus at $1450 ($450 for the Mbox and $1000 for DV Toolkit) it’s a far cry from $16K+ for a TDM system.

This job I’m working on over at Universal has me away from my main Pro Tools system that’s set up at Fox. So since my Mbox and a pair of Sony MDR-7505 headphones don’t take up that much more space in my bag, I’ve been bringing it to Universal and using it a lot and I’m really impressed. My zippy laptop is certainly a factor in this. I have a 15″ Aluminum PowerBook at 1.25GHz. But still, I’m amazed at the amount of things I’m able to do as an assistant sound editor with an Mbox.

I can’t load digital picture from videotapes since the editors use various MJPEG A cards (DC30+, Fuse, and Igniter) but if we were using DV picture with a box like from Canopus, I could. I can’t print cuesheets because I can’t get stupid Tape to work in OS X and my laptop doesn’t boot into OS 9. And I can’t deal with SCSI drives, but most of our editors I cutting off Firewire drives. (And if I really needed SCSI support, there are various SCSI PC cards I could use, or maybe even a Firewire to SCSI interface.)

But I can do everything else. It’s really fantastic. Titan 3 works great. The DigiTranslator that comes with DV Toolkit converts my OMFs to Pro Tools sessions. Soundminer runs well. It is a viable alternative to a full-blown system.

Of course I could always do all the paperwork-related assistant things with Excel, Word and BBEdit. I’m reallying digging this.

In Dreams You’re Mine All Of The Time …

What is it about horror and oldies songs? There’s something about the sugary sweet melodies of late 1950’s, early 1960’s teen pop and romantic crooners that makes horror movies and television even scarier.

There’s a horror movie in post-production right now that I recently saw part of and it has the same thing. Bubble-gum music from when my mother was a little girl and it’s eerie. It got me thinking of how that kind of music really sets the tone—even though it’s seemingly the exact opposite. A soft ballad from thirty-plus years ago in a dark and creepy house will make your skin crawl.

I’m reminded of the absoluate scariest episode of “The X-Files”—that one from season 4 with the weird inbred family, “Home”. They play Johnny Mathis’ “Wonderful! Wonderful!” a few times it makes me squirm in my chair. Or how about the William Gibson episode from season 5, “Kill Switch”, with it’s use of “Twilight Time” by The Platters?

Steven King understands it. He’s always quoting song lyrics in his stories and his movies make use of the same thing. Of course “Christine” is probably the perfect example of this since the the demon car is from that era. But even a really bad King movie like “Sleepwalkers” makes use of Santo & Johnny’s “Sleepwalk” and it’s spooky.

But perhaps the scariest of all is David Lynch and the “Candy-Colored Clown” of “Blue Velvet”. The psychotic Frank, played with perfection by Dennis Hopper, gets a very effeminate Dean Stockwell to lip sync to Roy Obison’s “In Dreams” while holding a light to his face like a microphone—casting ghoulish shadows.

A candy-colored clown they call the sandman
Tiptoes to my room every night
Just to sprinkle stardust and to whisper,
‘Go to sleep. Everything is all right.’

If that doesn’t want to make you keep the lights on at night, I don’t know what will.

Hate The Tape

This program is the bane of my existence. Ugh! Tape is the worst piece-of-crap software I have ever had the misfortune of using. And I’m forced into it. There’s just nothing else for printing cuesheets from Pro Tools.

The whole “OS X” support is a big effin’ joke. I have tried on 4 different computers and cannot get it to work. Full of bugs, never out of beta and I have to own it. It totally sucks.

For years I used this other awful piece of software called Track-It. Thankfully it is no more. Why can’t anyone write a real cuesheet program that works with Pro Tools?

Well today I discovered a handy little trick for Tape. Tape finally supports Pro Tools 5.1 sessions. (Don’t blink or look at it wrong or it might stop working. Crap ass software.) I forget when that was added in. Sometime in the last year I think. Even though Pro Tools 5.1 has been around for something like 3 years. Whatever. It’s bullshit. Anyway, Tape only works properly with SD2 Pro Tools sessions. Well, maybe it works with AIFF but it certainly won’t deal with Broadcast Wave—even thought it’s a perfectly legit sound file for Pro Tools 5.1. Like I said crap-ass software.

So here’s the way around it.

  1. Take your BWF Pro Tools 5.1 session. Open it and make sure it’s all set for cuesheets. Save if you need to and close it.
  2. Make a new Pro Tools session with SD2 as the file format. Make sure the bit depth and sample rate match your BWF session.
  3. Select “Import Tracks” (Pro Tools 5.1) or “Import Session Data” (Pro Tools 6) from the File menu. Highlight all your tracks for importing.
  4. Make sure you choose “Reference original media” for the audio. (Or whatever that pull-down menu says. I can’t remember the exact wording off the top of my head. Don’t use “copy” or “consolidate”.) And click “Ok” or “Import” or whatever that button is labeled.
  5. No audio should have been copied. If media was written, you probably didn’t use the same bit depth or sampling rate as the original. Start again at step 2.
  6. Save and close the session.
  7. Open it in Tape and print away.

Basically, it seems that Tape can’t deal with the “BWF” header in a Pro Tools 5.1 session. It only likes ones with an “SD2” header. However, you can mix and match supported audio formats in Pro Tools. So as long as you have an “SD2” session at the same bit depth and sample rate, you can import BWF audio into it without having to rewrite the media and Tape will print your cuesheets.

Stupid program.

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together

Sometimes the serendipity of things startles me.

After my recent exploits into the world of the Motorola V600 cellphone, bluetooth and my PowerBook, imagine my surprise to go online this afternoon and see that Apple has released iSync 1.5 which supports lots of new phones from Motorola and Sony Ericsson, including the V600.

Now it isn’t quite as cool as it could be. You do need a USB cable to sync any Motorola phones. It’s part number SKN6311 and available from Motorola for $30. So no cool bluetooth syncing there. (I do find it interesting to note that the bluetooth setup for the V600 I talked about in my earlier post needs to be configured to “Support Non-Conforming Phones” and that iSync doesn’t support bluetooth on Motorola. Is there a connection? Is there a problem with Motorola’s implementation of bluetooth?)

Thankfully my previous phone was a V60 which I’d set up for iSync so I already had the cable. It works great.

iSync 1.5 and Motorola V600

See that “Cellphone” group I had you make in Address Book comes in handy now. The contacts come over “First-name Last-name” via iSync instead of “Last-name First-name” like with the “Send This Card” method in Address Book. Make sure you go into “Options” and tell it which email address and fax number to send (if any). It’s too bad you can’t get all. You might also want to uncheck “Only synchronize contacts with phone numbers” if you’ve setup any email-only addresses.

Syncing with iCal works as well. Unfortunately it doesn’t correctly handle multi-day all-day events. They show up as colored bars across two or more days in iCal. I use lots and lots of these for work. On the V600 they show as being all-day but only on the first day. Nothing for any other days. The phone supports multi-day all-day events. When you’re editing an event on the phone, set the duration to “Custom” and you can choose how many days it lasts.

So we have iSync with the V600 and it’s good.

There are still a few things that don’t seem to work correctly between the phone and my PowerBook. In Address Book if I click on the Bluetooth button, it wants to Pair with my phone—even though it’s already been set up. And if I tell it to pair with my phone, the connection is immediately dropped. So I’m unable to use the “SMS Message” and “Dial With Cellphone” options in Address Book.

Also the whole “file sending” thing doesn’t work in every way I’d like it to. I’ve been able to drop MP3s into my audio folder on the phone ok and copy pictures that I’ve taken with the phone camera back to my computer fine. But other things give me errors. I’ve read about others using other phones who can select a chunk of text and use “Send File to Bluetooth Device” from the Services menu to have it sent to the phone and show up in the message inbox. Or taking J2ME applications and send them to the phone to install. In the Device Browser the error is “The file transfer failed: unsupported media type.”

It’s a little annoying because in the information about the device pairing in the Bluetooth Pref Pane, it claims the phone supports OBEX Object Push and OBEX File Transfer. From everything that I’ve read, this is the key to making certain files go where they should. It would really be nice to be able to quickly leave text files like driving directions or other notes on my phone. And even though installing Java software by FTPing it to a directory on my website and downloading it with the phone isn’t hard, it would be much easier if I could just drag and drop.

So if anyone has been successful with any of those things I would love to hear about it.

Monkey Hate Clean

Who can forget the Bathroom Monkey?

“Now my bathroom’s monkey clean and monkey fresh.”

Koko on the other hand, doesn’t hate clean. As recently mentioned by Boing Boing, Koko asked to see the dentist for a tooth ache. Feel better, Koko. Maybe the doctor will let you pick a goodie from the jar.

And while I’m on the subject of monkey business, we should all take a second to mourn the passing of Fay Wray, the beautiful blonde damsel-in-distress from King Kong.

(Sorry about the Windows Media file of “Bathroom Monkey”. I know it totally sucks. I have another copy that’s a muxed MPEG1 (VCD format) but Quicktime Pro was refusing to acknowledge the audio tracks when I went to convert it to MP4 and I didn’t want to spend the time now looking for a demuxing program.)