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Archive for the ‘Gadgets/Tech’

Shooting Video 101

May 29, 2008 By: admin Category: Gadgets/Tech, Video

First thing you’ll need to do is get a good camera. Now, “good” doesn’t have to mean expensive. Case in point: the Canon ZR800.


I shit you not, this $149.00 camera has everything you need in order to learn how to shoot: manual controls for focus, white balance, shutter speed and exposure; has an option for an external microphone to be added; has a built-in light; has a rockstar on-board microphone; and has a firewire jack so you can edit easily.

The thing about shooting (here’s my “the thing about shooting” soapbox) is that you learn how to shoot by learning how to edit. Example: go outside with your camera and find a “scene” happening. Let’s say you film a hot dog vendor making someone a hot dog. The effectiveness of your shooting will be determined in the edit. Did you get all the shots you needed, i.e. CUs of the hot dog, the vendor’s hands, the vendor’s face, the buyer’s face? Did you get a medium shot of the whole thing? Did you get a wide shot of the whole thing? Did you get reverse/interesting/’wild card” shots? The only way you’ll know the answers to these questions is by bringing the footage into the edit – which you should do yourself cuz it’s so damned easy. :)

As you take your class (the one you should take to learn about the details…), you’ll learn about ways to use the camera to express yourself better: exposure, white balance (so everyone doesn’t look blue all the time), shutter speed (this adds versatility to the “narrative” quality of a film)–but learning what shots to acquire will be discovered in the edit. Here’s what my teacher said are the key shots in any “scene”:

-CU of the hands
-CU of the face
-Wide Shot

Period. If you get those and hold them for 30 seconds each, then you’re good to go.


May 21, 2008 By: admin Category: Gadgets/Tech, Living, Music, Propeller, Video

Actually, I’m burnt out. I need a break. I’m hoping the move drive will give my mind a rest, and settling into Michael and Laura’s house for a few weeks will give me some time to just relax. I have too many irons in the fire right now and need to shove things off my desk. Some of that will happen this weekend when I finish an old, old project. That’ll feel GREAT. It’ll also give me a chance to play with my new editing toy, Magic Bullet Looks. By the way, yes, I know that not everyone is a video editing geek, but you would be if you played with everything I own for about five minutes. Cameras, software, G5–OH MY!

Anyway, so things have been very crazy pour moi. Shooting, editing, packing, making deals… It’s all very time-consuming and exhausting and reminds me that usually there are about 3-4 people doing the same amount of work I’m currently doing by myself. I know, I signed up for this, I have only myself to blame… Okay…

The good news is that two of my Big Projects for work are starting to get off the ground. I’m very excited about them and so will you be when I finally have a chance to show them off. Once will happen fairly soon — end of August. You’ll get links, don’t worry. The other one probably won’t launch until after Jan. 2009, but that’s okay. By that time I will have finished the Soma Girls film so the timing will actually be very cool.

Some other recent cool news is that Molly and I have a new friend who’s amazing. He’s a musician who just put out his first solo CD. He was with a very famous band for 14 years and now has gone out on his own cuz he wants to spend more time with his family. This I completely understand. Anyway, his CD is just beautiful. I listened to it all day yesterday and just blissed-out. It actually gave me a great idea for a screenplay. Actually, there have been 2 screenplay ideas floating around in my head for a while. Someone recently gave me a trick to how to write screenplays, so I might give that another go. It’ll be easier to do that in hotels during the move than to edit anything. I’ve been spending so much time on my big machine that it’s hard to go back to editing on a 15″ screen.

Hey, check out these guys called Stars of Stage and Screen. They KICK ASS. Listen to their cover of “Born To Be Wild.” It’s featured in the new movie “A Previous Engagement.”

I heard about the film and the band on KPFK yesterday as I was driving into the city. The one good thing about L.A. traffic, btw, is that it gives you a shitload of time to enjoy great radio. If y’all have not tuned in online to KPFK, I urge you to do so immediately. Best shows: “Democracy Now!,” and “Uprising.” For the more esoteric, there’s also “Inner Visions,” a very cool show about spiritualism.

Another Few Small Repairs…

April 09, 2008 By: admin Category: Gadgets/Tech, Happiness, House, Not So Big, SXSW, Video

My new office is all set up in the Temporary House and, through the process of moving again, I’ve discovered that the sum total of all of my stuff can comfortably fit in a Honda CRV pulling a 5×8 U-Haul trailer. I see this as good news because it makes me sustainable, but I can also see it as an indication that I don’t need to live so frugally all the time. In truth, I do buy one HUGE piece of equipment every year. Computer bit, camera bit, software. YA GOTTA HAVE SOFTWARE.

Software geek interlude…


This bad boy is something I call Mama’s Little Helper. I started my love affair with Red Giant‘s original “Magic Bullet for Editors,” then–at SXSW–bought Stu Maschewitz’s genius book “The DV Rebel’s Guide” that teaches you how to add visual effects to your film on the cheap! Soon I’ll upgrade to the”Looks” package and have my way with the 100 new presets!!!

Anyway, when starting to live “Not So Big,” you have to stand on your head. That’s what my movement teach used to say in acting school… her point was that you’d never learn how the world looked upside-down unless you flipped yourself over. She then went on to extol the virtues of seeing old things in new ways… She was a very good teacher…

SO, in searching for the right home, the first thing to do is to ask myself: “What do I love?” What do I love to do, what do I love to see, how do I love to feel? Well, after only a few pages of Sarah Susanka’s incredible book (“The Not So Big House”–link above…) I know that I LOVE natural light in a room, LOVE to cook, and LOVE to interact with guests while I’m cooking. This implies that the home I’m looking for either has to have a kitchen that’s open to the main gathering room, or one that’s re-modelable to be so, and comes with HUGE or PLENTIFUL windows throughout. Sounds like a good start…

“I Sat In Front of God And Listened To Him Speak”

March 13, 2008 By: admin Category: Gadgets/Tech, Propeller, SXSW


So, I was in Austin, TX from 3/7 to 3/12 and had a wonderful time. I was at the SXSW (South By Southwest) Interactive conference which included a lot of great panels and exhibits about everything related to web interactive issues. The whole Propeller team was there: developers, anchors, and a few scouts and it was awesome getting to know them. They’re all SOOOOO smart and creative, and so I’m psyched to be able to pick their brains about future videos. On that note, actually, while at SXSW, we shot a short film to introduce the whole team to the users. I’m doing it in film noir style and shooting everyone against a green screen so we can have some flexibility about the background. What everyone has come up with for themselves is HYSTERICAL. Funny, funny bunch of folks…


For three days I was at panels all day. Mostly panels about mobile technology and video. Everyone at this conference was so smart and creative that it was a really exciting environment to be. Easily the best work trip I’ve ever been on.

Stu Maschwitz

The first day I started off with the panel “Digital Effects and Animation on a Budget.” Incredible. One of the founders of The Orphanage was on the panel. His name is Stu Maschwitz, but I call him God. He created Magic Bullet, an incredible film look filters program that I use on everything. It’s kinda the reason I get up in the morning. Stu also has a killer book which I bought: “The DV Rebel’s Guide,” and have already used some of the tenets from in my first fiction film, “No Comment,” the film noir for Propeller. If I’m anything in the realm of filmmaking, it’s a DV rebel. I never use lights, I always do things quickly (and usually handheld), and always only shoot as little as I possibly need. This book was MADE for me… :)

More later but I wanted to get this post up before too much more time had passed…

Bull In A China Shop

December 06, 2007 By: admin Category: Angus, Gadgets/Tech, General, iPhone, Living, Randomosity

How many times have you dropped YOUR iPhone…???


This is why the phrase “resale value” has no meaning for me. I’m a dropper, and a slammer-into, and a glass breaker. M and I have a joke that’s no joke at all: I’m not allowed to touch the wine glasses. ANY wine glasses, actually. And I wonder, since he always drank wine from a square-bottomed “water” glass, if my father doesn’t also suffer from The Affliction. I wonder, but I don’t think so. My father is the parent who gave my brother his coordination. You can literally not knock Michael over. Ever. He’s a stone. Or a cat. Whatever, he has SICK balance. (The same, actually, can be said for his spirit and psyche, but that’s another post altogether….)

So, I’ve dropped my iPhone a lot. Just now it was in a Starbucks in Los Feliz. I’m all the way in the back, sitting comfortably in a cushioned chair, with my feet up, listening to ranchero music and drinking really good coffee. My life is AWFUL. Thank god I drop my iPhone, otherwise things would be too perfect.

I actually don’t have shitty balance at all. I’m not the acrobat my brother is, but I’ve got some game. My problems come with forgetting–like that I have my iPhone in my lap when I stand up and not in my pocket–and with impulsive passion. I swing my arms around or throw them up into the air when I’m excited.

I’m painting kind of a circus-monkey image of myself, aren’t I…??? Oh well… what is is what is.

Fun With Photoshop

October 19, 2007 By: admin Category: Gadgets/Tech, General, Randomosity

I recently met a young woman Photoshop guru. She taught me how to load brushes from this killer site called Aethereality.net, but also how to make my own brushes… The below photo is my most recent attempt at this kind of genius. Clearly, one needs an actual EYE for graphic design, but this shit just makes me so freakin’ happy I’m gonna keep on doing it anyway. :)


Crossing Over

October 16, 2007 By: admin Category: Burning Man, Gadgets/Tech, India, Music, Video

No, I’m not going to write about that guy on TV who talks to the dead. I’m going to write about L.A. You won’t believe this, but I love it a little. I’ve crossed over to loving it. How did this happen? Maybe it’s because M is finally having some of the life she wants and it makes me so happy to see her living it. Maybe it’s because I have a job I enjoy and and am in a location to do some great work for it. Maybe it’s because we’re finally meeting people who make us feel connected to meaning. Recently, we’ve been spending a lot of time with Burners, and they just — well — fucking ROCK. Two weekends in a row we’ve partied with these crazy, creative, kind folk and had the time of our lives. We have growing new best friendships, and are working with motivated, active people, not the usual all-talk-and-no-action “I came to Hollywood to find my dream and I’m still waitressing” types. Seriously. I’m on a people high. WTF???

Anyway, so things are great, and I’m loving what I’m doing. I finished up a kick-ass short version of the Shadhika promo film–with Usha’s help–and am so excited about the upcoming b roll shoots for the sustainability series. It’s good that I let that one sit for a bit to simmer. There is SO MUCH to cover I actually have to know it all so I can see how best to cut it down.

So…. I’m babbling. *thumb twiddle…* Started watching “Heroes” again. Loving that. Bought a fancy new audio recorder for India and am PSYCHED about it. Actually, I should put up a picture of it, shouldn’t I? Well, here’s the sales picture anyway:


Meow, right? Edirol R-4: 4-channel recording to an 80 GB hard drive. I can’t even believe I have this thing!!! It’s first test will be M’s show in Ojai. Rockin’!!!!

Thanks for reading if you got this far. Really. This was the dumbest blogpost ever. You RULE for still being here. Wish I could give you a cookie. :)

Casualty 2.0

August 03, 2007 By: admin Category: Body, Gadgets/Tech, Health, Living, Web 2.0

It’s official: I have sciatica. Which, if you read anything about it, means that I have symptoms that my sciatic nerve is being pinched, pressured, compromised. Two days ago I developed shooting, tingling, “foot & leg asleep” pain. It came after a long, uncomfortable plane ride back to L.A. and a full day of sitting and editing. I was so excited to edit the healthcare forum piece that I completely ignored everything I’ve ever learned about ergonomics. Although, to be fair, this isn’t the first time I’ve felt this. It’s just the first time I’m freaking out about it. Turning 40 will, I think, do that to you. Make you body paranoid about every little thing. And so, here we are…

As preventive measures, I’ve re-taken up yoga, have an alarm that beeps on the hour reminding me to get up and move, and make sure to sit upright and only at my desk–not on the couch doing the laptop thing. Truly, though, since I got the Griffin Elevator, I rarely use my laptop by the couch. Just sometimes in the morning when I watch the news for anything breaking so I can post it to Netscape.

So, there you have it. If you do web work and don’t have one of those $10,000 ergo-chairs, keep your senses peeled for tingling. It won’t be excitement over some news find, it’ll be sciatica.


July 02, 2007 By: admin Category: Gadgets/Tech, General, Web 2.0

I’m a little punk bitch. I’m going to buy an iPhone today. Don’t look at me like that… I KNOW I went on camera and said I would wait — I KNOW!!! BUT HAVE YOU EVEN TRIED THE THING????? Everything the nay-sayers have issues with–WRONG. If anyone disparages the iPhone rest assured that it means they haven’t tried one and you should now back slowly away. Back slooooooowllllllyyyy aaaaaawwwwwwaaaaaaayyyyyyyy from the negative iPhone people!!!!!

It turns out that the local Cingular and Apple stores are out of stock on the iPhones. The Apple store will have more in stock tomorrow morning. The guy at the Apple store said: “Get here early.” “How early?” “We open at 9. I’d get here at 7.” No kidding, I’m GOING to do it.