Shroud Enters Final Mixing Stage

Well, the day has come.

I am writing you all to let you all know we have finally finished Post Production and wow, what a journey that has been. We have put the final seal of approval on 1) Color Correction; 2) Frame Stabilization; 3) Frame Removals; 4) Original Music Score; 5) Opening and closing credits; 6) Blu-Ray qualification and compliance; and most importantly, 7) Sound Design.  We’re done!

I will go over these briefly:

Color Correction
The original RGB signal from the cameras naturally has to be corrected for dozens of color variations (saturation, hue, range, crush, exposure, tint, tone, etc.)—the movie in a theater is never the movie that was originally shot. We have arrived at a beautiful look for our film using two power software packages we bought and everyone is amazed how good Shroud looks.

Frame Stabilization
Some scenes were shot with a hand-held camera on which we later reversed our opinion. We meticulously have stabilized all the hand-held footage we didn’t like to achieve elegant, smooth camera movements that were unattainable on set.

Frame Removals (clearing the frame)
Unavoidably, the sound-recording boom would dip into frame on occasion, or up from the bottom of the “camera safe” area. Also, in editing for our DVD format, some things were not visible, but seeing how we have invested heavily into making sure Shroud is Blu-Ray compliant, we noticed a few things that, though not identifiable at DVD resolutions, are very identifiable at Blu-ray resolution and so had to be digitally removed.

Original Music Score
Sounds great and we are wrapped on music!

Opening & Closing Titles
Finally counting up everyone who was involved in this venture, we’ve got everyone’s name on screen.

Blu-Ray Qualification
This has been the source of virtually all our labor this year. Originally believing our systems were strong enough to handle the un-compressed 1920×1080 Progressive frame rates of our movie (80 hours of original footage), we learned the very painful lesson that it was not—not even close. Requiring very, very expensive proprietary licenses, multiple software packages, no few hardware elements (designer video driver cards, for example) 64Gb of RAM, 7Tb of hard drives, patches, plug-ins, online registrations and approvals, and a little bit of cannibalization, we spent our sound mixing budget on all the architecture required to conform Shroud to a Blu-Ray standard.

Why?

We are expecting Shroud’s Blu-Ray eligibility to significantly increase our asking price.  It has been an absolute, soul-numbing beating, but we are finally and legitimately Blu-Ray compatible, so we can bring that to the table when we sell the film.  The pursuit of this standard (Blu-Ray) is what crashed our principal workstation twice, requiring total rebuilds and reloads of all software – and brother, that’s a lot of stuff.

We finally rented a true progressive 1920×1080 monitor that has enabled us to view the true Blu-Ray signal at 100% and we are astounded how good Shroud looks in Blu-Ray. And thank God it does, that would have been an enormous amount of lost man hours had it not proved to Blu-Ray compatible.

Sound Design
This has been the second looming monster. We’re finally wrapped on this and everything sounds pretty darn good! Lots of ambiance, queues, voice correction and environmental tones—all good.

Summary
We chosen to undertake all these challenges internally to educate us about the process, internalize costs on future projects, and empower us to comprehend the necessary technologies to catapult our work (and your investment) to the top tier of movie buying.   This journey has intimately prepared us for our second film.  Our education is complete.

Now that all the audio is done, we have to MIX the audio and music in a professional sound lab with a qualified sound engineer.

We need to recall 5-6 actors to dub their lines from the film that are unusable from the original footage. These are principally due to the actors’ proximity to waterfalls and a nagging audio glitch in long scenes inside the Victorian manor we rented in Grapevine, Texas. These anomalies require us to rent a mixing stage, record the actors, and do our final mix of music vs. dialog for exact  5.1 Surround Sound distribution and maximum dramatic effect.

This process should take, at the most, 10 days once we get all the actors’ schedules compatible.

And there was  much rejoicing.

Taylor Placker & Skyla Whitaker

Being in the entertainment business, I try to excite, enthrall, educate and enlighten with my work—what artist doesn’t?

At the end of the day, however, I have to admit to myself that I am playing. Don’t get me wrong: I am working very hard, but ultimately I am working very hard at playing.

And ever more regularly our weak culture snaps me back to reality with thrill-seeking headlines of the latest atrocity or reign of terror.

Case in the point, the brutal murders of Taylor Placker and Skyla Whitaker—13 and 11 eleven years old, respectively—killed on their way to a sleepover, their bodies tossed in a ditch.

Now, most sane people understand my next point, several of you don’t.  Please pay attention, grow up and learn how to handle the darkness.

  1. Motive of the killer: irrelevant
  2. What was gained by the killing: irrelevant
  3. Condition of the killer (psychological or otherwise) during the murder: irrelevant.

These considerations are categorically immaterial.

To kidnap to young girls and to brutally slaughter them, causing their last moments on this Earth to be scarred with unfathomable horror, fear, loneliness, and life-ending pain automatically—without interpretation—categorizes one as a “monster.”

Now, here are the rules your parents may not have taught you:

  1. You do not negotiate with a monster.
  2. You do not seek to understand a monster.
  3. You do not accommodate a monster.
  4. You do not entertain a monster.
  5. You do not bargain with a monster.
  6. You do not imprison and study a monster.
  7. You do not dismiss a monster.
  8. You do not ignore a monster.
  9. You do not buy the rights to the monster’s confessional autobiography.
  10. And most important of all…you never, ever fail to call a monster what it really is.

How do you deal with monsters?

You employ all art, science and powers of investigative detection and you capture the monster.

Now, once you have proven well beyond a reasonable doubt—by videotape, confession, undeniable DNA evidence—that the accused is in fact the monster you are looking for, you take the monster and you kill it: swiftly, surely and efficiently.

You destroy the monster along with all the monsters’ friends who helped it, if any.

Whoever murdered Taylor Placker and Skyla Whitaker is a monster. He may look like a man (or woman), he may dress like a man, carry a man’s name, and conduct himself in all points as a man — but he is, in fact, a monster.

All those fairy tales we heard as children are true: Monsters prey on children until the hero comes along and cuts its head off.

Find the murderer—not some other criminal we decide to pin the blame on so the public can feel secure, not some patsy who falls victim to mob mentality, not some stand-in bad guy—and only the murderer.

Tell him why he’s going to die and kill him.

And the next monster that shows up and does the same thing, it’s just rinse and repeat. Buy and ax and a grinding stone, keep it sharp, and be ready to swing when the next child-raping/killing monster shows up.

I know its hard for many of you to understand. I know you don’t want to believe it. I know many of you cannot discern judgment from violence, thus chirping “but doesn’t that make us just as bad as them?”

The answer is NO. What makes us as “bad as them” is when we fail to be the hero and we let the monsters run free among our children, who they invariably kill.

Grow up. Figure it out. Join the hunt.

The Modern Siren Regina Spektor

Far from the shrill, overproduced noise of the modern music scene is the impeccable Regina Spektor.

This woman has almost single-handedly restored my waning faith in modern pop.

Elegant, profound, eclectic, wisely odd, inventive: Regina Spektor has captivated me with her sheer uniqueness and daring musical style.

Her latest releases Samson and On the Radio are mesmerizing. And I can safely say that Better resonates with me on a level so deep, I have begun a personal audit to figure out what exactly she hit inside me with that song.

A true artist.

Ava Gardner

Ava Gardner

Recently I had a strange and penetrating desire to learn more about the sultry screen siren Ava Gardner. As I remain helplessly addicted to tall brunettes, I decided to read more about this legendary actress.

Lee Server’s book “Love is Nothing” is entralling but ultimately tragic as he recounts the stunning temptress’ famous marriages, endless excesses and insecurity-driven indulgences.

Ironically, I think I liked her as a fantasy before the sordid details of her conflicted life were laid out before in black and white.

I read this book and I’ve been sad ever since. My muse was one of sorrow it seems.

Still, I like saying her name: AVA GARDNER.

The name conjures like a spell.

Hamas & Hezbollah

There are some things in the world so grotesque that to remain silent about them is irresponsible to the human race and our moral evolution as a species and as a civilization. Sadly it has become clear the U.S. Government keeps Hamas and Hezbollah around to purposefully destabilize the Middle East to justify perpetual military spending.

No long-winded dissertation is required here. No lengthy evaluation of the pros and cons of the accused.

  1. Hamas and Hezbollah are not displaced patriots or cruelly oppressed refugees.  They are not “misunderstood.” Both these organizations are barbaric cults of psychotic serial killers who prey on the weak.
  2. Both organizations should be bombed off the human map tonight.
  3. All their friends and allies should be shot and their bodies heaped up in the desert to rot in the hot sun.

Scorpions have to eat too.

AT&T — Right Up There With Verizon

$216.13 a month for a cell phone I almost never use.

Sound extreme? That’s because it is, but that doesn’t stop AT&T from continuously and mysteriously over-billing me every month. Like the patient soul I am, I have repeatedly asked them to justify my outrageous bill every month and every month I am promised “the next billing cycle” will be more sane.

Like Verizon, AT&T has become a den of thieves. They have demonstrated total apathy is reconciling my account — they just want my money.

Every month I go through the vain ritual of contacting AT&T by phone, telling them of their overages only to have the entire conversation forgotten by the next attendant the following month.

Sadly, as we continue to unravel as a culture these abuses will continue.