Don’t Know What You’ve Lost ‘Til It’s Gone

I find it’s amazing how quickly the internet has become a integral part of my life. Today at work our internet connection was down most of the day and it was remarkable the number of times I was frustrated because I couldn’t go online. I have two editors working out of their homes and the picture department is on the other side of town. So it is certainly easier to exchange certain files over the net than it is to drive there in a car. Recently we’ve had some ADR sessions in Toronto and Montreal. With an ISDN hookup to a local stage we were able to get immediate recordings of those lines but with the internet I was able to download the original files within an hour or so of finishing the session. Even faster than FedEx overnight.

Plus Dana and I tend to have many pop culture-related conversations while we are doing our work.

“‘Dance Fever USA’? That sounds a lot like that movie with Sarah Jessica Parker and Helen Hunt.”

“‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’?”

“Exactly. What was the name of the dance TV show on that?”

“I don’t know. But Shannon Doherty was the younger daughter.”

“Yes, but who was the geeky little brother?”

“Little brother? I don’t remember that one.”

“‘Tune-in Tokyo’? No? Jonathan Silverman.”

“Oh yeah!”

Of course it’s not always that easy to remember all the names or the movies so we’re often going online to look at IMDB or All Music Guide or Google searches. So without the internet today, the conversations tended more towards the oblique.

“You know. The guy. That one who did that thing.”

“The guy? What thing?”

“You know, in that movie with the woman with the hair.”

“Most of them do have hair.”

“No. But she married that other guy.”

Much less fun.

I first got on the internet when I started college in 1992. Twelve years is certainly a long time to be online. However back then it was with my 2400 baud modem—not even comparable to a 512kbps DSL connection today. I don’t think I had a dedicated broadband internet connection in the office I worked in until 2000. Obviously I used the internet a lot in those eight years but it was really only sometime in the last four that it has become so pervasive, so much a part of my life that I feel a sense of loss when I don’t have access to it.

Figure Out When Things Are Good Enough

Sometimes it’s best just to leave well enough alone. Things might not be perfect but they’re good enough. Sure, you’re sitting there. Taking stock of things and you say to yourself, “Hey! I know I can make this better.”

The problem is that intent does not always equal success. Good intentions are certainly good. We all like good intentions. However, when those good intentions lead to failing miserably, you have to ask yourself, “Was it really worth it? Are good intentions all they’re really cracked up to be?”

I have a goatee. I’m one of those “trim around the edges” kind of goatee guys. It can get big after a while if I don’t cut it back. Initially, years ago, I started growing it out because it didn’t come in very full—kind of the comb-over equivalent to facial hair. Now it comes in much better.

This morning I had the brilliant idea that I might finally be able to set my trimmer to #2 and just buzz over everything. Much faster and probably cleaner looking in the long run. Easier than the trim around edges.

Unfortunately I now have a couple of bare patches on my upper lip thanks to some over-zealous clipper work. Thankfully it grows back. I’ll just have to suffer through looking like an idiot for a couple of weeks until I can even it all out.

“Hello. I’m Jon. Big dummy.”

“Troll Bridge” Update

After much sleeping on everyone’s part, I got the final word from Daniel about the screening of “Troll Bridge” for Terry Pratchett, well, I should let Daniel say it in his own words:

Overall reaction from him?

I think he was pleasantly surprised. I did hear him chuckle a couple of
times – so that’s always a good sign. He had a few suggestions here and
there, and was certain to tell us about the stuff he did like. From Felix’s
illustrations, and the stand-in footage of the troll – he’s very keen to see
the completed Mica. He’ll also be scripting some very short dialogue for
the guards to be speaking around the lake. So I guess – all in all – it
was a success. Especially considering the screening of Troll Bridge we
showed him, had a lot of stuff only half done (or not even done at all).

So I think we’ve done good. I know I for one was a nervous wreck those last couple of days as Dana who shares a room with me at work can attest to. It was, at least in my mind, a big undertaking for me. I was providing all the sound for something that I really cared about.

I’ve been working in the sound industry for just shy of nine years. I know how to use the software, in fact I know it quite well. I know how to do a lot of the functional parts of editorial like converting picture to usable formats, sample rate converting sounds to get them in sync, and doing changes from change notes and worktracks. But for nine years I’ve been an assistant sound editor. I know that job really well. I haven’t done a lot of actual cutting—a lot of sound editing. I know what I like when I hear it. I can use the sound database better than most people but that process of cutting and positioning and combining and stretching and processing, I haven’t done a lot of it. So this is a big step for me.

I’m glad I’m taking it. I hope everyone is pleased with the end product.

Who’s That Tramping Over My Bridge?

Terry Pratchett is one of those truly gifted authors—someone who just “gets it”. With a few words he can make the most cutting and incisive comment on modern life. And all of his Discworld stories are set in a fantasy realm. I don’t think he’s as widely known in America as he is in England and Australia. The typical response I give to the inevitable query “Who’s that?” is that he Douglas Adams of fantasy novels.

Unfortunately even that leads to another question by the lesser informed of my countrymen. “Oh. Who’s Douglas Adams?”

“You know, ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’?”

“Oh yeah! Never read it.”

“Well, it’s satire of modern life and pop culture told in science fiction novels. Douglas Adams, that is. Terry Pratchett does a similar thing with fantasy. Kind of a literary Monty Python.”

Thankfully most Americans are at least passingly familiar with Monty Python.

A little over a year ago, I was delighted to read about a intrepid group of Australians who decided to make a live-action version of one of Terry’s short stories, “Troll Bridge”. After a little investigation I found their website and starting reading about their undertaking.

As it turns out they got in touch with Terry and he agreed to allow them to make the movie. Terry’s stories have been turned into plays, mostly in England, and there are even two cartoons available on DVD and VHS of “Wyrd Sisters” and “Soul Music”. But there hasn’t been a live action version. Until now.

My immediate reaction was “Wow! Wouldn’t it be great to work on a Discworld film?!” So I sat down a wrote an email to Daniel Knight, the director, offering my services as a post-production sound guy. For some unknown reason, he was actually impressed with my resume and said “Sure.”

And for the better part of a year that’s been it. This is a mostly volunteer movie. People offering their services because they, like me, wanted to work on a Terry Pratchett movie. Or they just wanted to work on a movie period. But most of us have day jobs. The things that pay the bills. So it’s taken time.

About 2 weeks ago, I got an email from Daniel asking if I could help him out with some sound. Terry himself was going to be sitting down to watch some scenes and he wanted to make it as cool as possible. Of course I agreed and that’s what I’ve been working on in my spare time. This weekend has been the big editing session for me. They’re meeting with Terry Pratchett on Thursday. Work for me seems to have gotten extra busy recently. And Daniel is 19 hours ahead of me in Australia so this weekend is really my last chance to get the majority of the work done.

It’s been a lot of fun. I’m continually amazed at what I can accomplish on my laptop with an Mbox, Pro Tools LE, Soundminer and a good sound effects library. Of course this isn’t even really a temp dub. When it comes time to really do the sound, I’ll be working on my full-blown Pro Tools system because there will be a lot more sounds to carry and I’ll try to work out a deal with a local dub stage for mixing.

But with that little setup, a fast internet connection, some online storage space, email and instant messaging, we’ve been able to make this happen. It’s been an exciting time.

Eat Your Heart Out, Jonathan Swift

This is one of the funniest damn things I’ve read in a while. Funny because it’s so true.

By C. B. Shapiro

I feel bad for the Red States.

Yes, they won the White House, Congress, the Supreme Court and most of the state houses.  But they still can’t have the country they really want because the last few Blue States won’t roll over.  So I am making a simple proposal:

Secession.  Divorce.  Splitsville.

Personally, I think we made a huge mistake not letting them go when we had the chance back in 1862.  Well, no time like the present to correct an old mistake.

Then, they would finally be free to have the kind of society they’ve always wanted; church and state can be fused so they build the kind of theocracy they’ve dreamt of, with Jesus at the helm.  Then the new USAR (United States of America Red) can ban books, repeal civil rights, persecute gays and have all the wars they like. They want prayer in schools?   More power to them.  They can ban abortion and post the Ten Commandments in every federal building in their country.  Bring back slavery, if they want.  We’ll be free to live with our like-minded countrymen who believe in science, modernism, tolerance, religion as a personal choice, and truly want limited government intrusion in our personal lives.  Why should each side be driven mad by the other any more, decade after decade?

Call the Culture War a tie and everyone go home.

Of course, we in the U.S.A.B. get the Gross Domestic Product, businesses and universities of California, New York, Massachussetts — basically the whole Northeast and Northwest (plus Illinois and Michigan if they want to come along).  They get Wal-Mart and Duke and most of the Nascar tracks.  But they can feel free to import movies, TV shows, financial services, and defense technology.  We’ll import country music, bibles and Confederate flags.

The two countries will by necessity have open immigration policy: anyone who feels they are living in the wrong country can just move across the border, no questions asked.

Ultimately, why should I have to convince my fellow countrymen that Darwin may have had a point and that the word “liberal” is not equivalent to “godless communist?”  And why should they be forced to live in a country with morally corrupt non-believers?  I’ll stay in the messy, free-thinking U.S.A.B.  And to the U.S.A.R. I say…

God bless you all, and see you at the U.N

I Woke Up Early The Day I Died

You know that part in horror movies where the hero is chased by some crazy murderer and attacked with a knife or an axe or some other implement of death and just before the killing blow lands, the hero wakes up screaming? And just as relief starts flooding through the hero’s body the crazy murderer comes crashing through the door or the window or the wall and you realize that the nightmare isn’t over? It’s just beginning.

I woke up this morning and walked into my own horror movie when I saw the electoral votes on the TV.

Dealing With -37 Errors In Pro Tools

Pro Tools 6.4.1 is the pinnacle of achievement on the Mix|24 hardware and you’ve just finished cutting the most amazing piece of sound effects work in your life. Now it’s time to layback your session to another drive for dubbing. So you select “Save Session Copy In” from the File menu, choose the other hard drive, check the box to copy audio files and your cranking away. The only problem is that part way through, the copy craps out with a -37 error. WTF?

A -37 error usually happens when you try to copy two or more pieces of media with the exact same name into one folder. You’ve got duplicated audio. Two files have the exact same name sitting in two different places on your master cutting drive(s). They are both referenced in your editing tracks in the Pro Tools session. When you try to combine everything under one Audio Files folder with a “Save Session Copy In” the copy quits when it tries to copy the duplicate file and returns the -37 error. Those two files might be identical in every that counts for Pro Tools—name, Unique ID, length—but they don’t have to be. They could be completely different sounds but have the same name. Look back over all the shows you’ve cut. How many “Applause 1” or “Footstep 27” do you have in you library?

Thankfully there’s a pretty quick fix.

  1. Open the master session. This will set things like timecode and I/O’s to the settings you’re looking for. It’s also your chance to double-check that all your fades are created and that you’re not missing any audio files.
  2. Save and close the session.
  3. Create a new session on the layback drive using whatever settings you need—16 bit or 24 bit, 44.1KHz or 48KHz, etc. Make sure that “Last Used” is selected for the I/O.
  4. Select “Import Session Data” from the File menu.
  5. Choose your master session from the other hard drive.
  6. Make sure to choose “Copy media” from the audio pull-down menu.
  7. Highlight all tracks for import (or at least all tracks that you want to layback—you might have more in your master session). Make sure that you’re importing “All” data and that it’s from the master playlist.
  8. Click the “Import” button.
  9. Wait while all your tracks and media are copied to the new drive. You can watch the process in your Task Window. Any duplicates will show up as -37 errors at the bottom of the Task Window. The regions will still show up in your tracks but they will be blue because there is no online media associated with them. Everything else will be copied to the new drive.
  10. Save and close the layback Pro Tools session.
  11. In the Finder, open the layback hard drive and open the folder of the layback session you just closed.
  12. Rename the “Audio Files” folder to something else like “Audio Files 2”.
  13. Reopen your layback session in Pro Tools.
  14. Pro Tools will warn you that there is missing audio. These are just the files that are now in the “Audio Files 2” folder. Select “Manually Find” and check “Rebuild Fades” if necessary.
  15. The duplicated media that didn’t copy the first time will be found on your master drive. A new “Audio Files” folder will be created and the duplicates will be copied into it.
  16. In the Relink Window, only check your layback drive. Even better, only check the layback session folder in the layback drive. Highlight all missing audio files and click the “Fink Links” button. Click “Commit Links” when all files are found.
  17. When all the copying and relinking is done in your Task Window, save and close your session.
  18. Reopen it to make sure that everything was copied. Be sure to choose “Select -> Offline Regions” from the Audio menu above the Region List to make sure that you’re not missing any files.
  19. You might have to repeat at step 10 if there are 3 or more files with the same name in the session. Go ahead and repeat as many times as it takes to get all files copied to your layback drive.
  20. Your “Audio Files” folder will probably only have a few files in it while “Audio Files 2” might have hundreds. This doesn’t really matter, but for the look of things, you might want to rename “Audio Files” to “Audio Files dupes” and “Audio Files 2” to “Audio Files”. It’s all up to you. If you rename any folders, you should probably reopen the session one last time and “Manually Find” any files that are now “lost”.

Yes, it’s a lot of steps to describe, but I think you’ll agree that it’s not very hard. This definitely works with Pro Tools 6.4.1. I would imagine that it’s the same under 6.4 with HD hardware but since I don’t have that, I’m not 100% positive. If I remember correctly 6.2.x and lower always asked you where to save audio and fade files on import. In that case you could just create a new folder in the Save Window and save things there.