Archive for September, 2010

Best Laid Plans And All That Crap

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

I’ve been trying to get a bunch of things done these past couple of weeks – one of which is a project we want to launch on the crowdfunding site Indie Go-Go. The launch should have been last week and then was postponed to tomorrow. While I’m still going to give meeting that deadline the ol’ college try you’ll all have to remember – I didn’t finish college.

But I am gonna finish this, dammit. I just need to catch a couple of more shots and then finish the edit. Piece of cake. Yeah right. Famous last words.

To give you some idea of the nonsense I’ve gotten myself into here’s a glimpse at the script and my usual thumbnail scribbles for storyboards. I use these to keep track of the multiple elements that have to come together within any given shot and it serves me well in the edit too.

storyboard thumbnails

When we were shooting the Ruffus television series I’d often make up these thumbnail sketches on the studio floor – between shots. What a dickead! Shot list? What the fuck is that?

An average moment during the shoot went something like this: “Stand over there and pretend you’re looking at a door. Perfect. Roll tape. Cut. That’s a keeper. Moving on. What? Whaddaya mean: What just happened? Keep up for fuck’s sake. Next set up!”

It was actually a little more organized than that – but not much – and certainly not by me.

This Indie Go-Go pitch is the last of these multi-role videos I’ll be making for a while. It hurts my brain – and my arm. I’m getting old. Next time will involve a lot more people – and a lot more talent.

Hopefully it will all be done before the end of tomorrow.

We shall see.


Theft: A History Of Music

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Cory Doctorow posted this on BoingBoing and I thought I’d share it with you. James Boyle, Jennifer Jenkins and Keith Aoki – the same folks who brought us “Bound By Law” – have another treatise on copyright in comic book form coming out called: “Theft: A History Of Music”.

Here’s a sample page:

theft a history of music

Can’t wait to read the whole thing.

Meanwhile – the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) is slathering on the brown lipstick for a lobbying trip to Washington where they’ll dance like a self-pleasuring monkey to the lying tunes of the US music industry, conveniently ignoring the actual facts about Canadian copyright law as so deftly explicated by Prof. Michael Geist. I’m so fed up with this bullshit – let’s just toss a nickel in Graham Henderson’s tin cup and kick him down the stairs.


Limor “LadyAda” Fried Keynote At Open Source Hardware Summit

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

Limor Fried aka “LadyAda” of AdaFruit Industriesgave the keynote at last weeks Open Source Hardware Summit.

Ostensibly it is about the core reasons why she, and others, are pursuing the growth and development of the open source hardware movement – but her talk touches on much deeper concerns we all share with respect to personal creativity and our quest for community. Whether you are a Maker geek or not it’s a great talk to watch and share with others.


Where Good Ideas Come From

Friday, September 24th, 2010

I found this over at BoingBoing – It looks like one of those extraordinary RSA Animate works that visually distill a talk and embed it securely into the depths of your brain – but since it’s not on the RSA site proper I suspect it’s actually just a promo for Steven Johnson’s book done in the same style.

Regardless – it’s pretty good and worth 4 minutes of your time just for the nifty drawings:

Or – you can just watch his great TED Talk and get 13 minutes more of Johnson’s good ideas.


What A Package Hears As It Travels Across Europe

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

I got this from Gizmodo:

What’s does being shipped sound like? A student at the Royal College of Art in London shoved a dictaphone inside a parcel and sent it off to Helsinki to find out.

Dictaphone Parcel from Lauri Warsta on Vimeo.


Fuck You James Moore

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore gave a speech on Bill C-32, Canada’s copyright reform bill, where he referred to opponents of the over-reaching proposals as “radical extremists”.

Watch this great annotated video of the speech – produced by Tamara Winegust & Michael Geist – where each of his fatuous, inaccurate and loathsome statements are rebutted by a myriad of voices from across the country who are far from being radical extremists.

And once you’ve had your fill of James Moore’s brown lipstick toadying to the U.S. media lobby, give a call or send a message to your own MP – and to douchebag Moore himself – letting them know you will not tolerate having your legally purchased content held ransom by digital locks. See the UPDATE below for their response to me.

Fuck them. And fuck you, James Moore, for being such a dickweed.

Can you tell I’m in a really foul and venomous mood this morning? Chum bucket arrogant bastards like Moore and his buck-toothed boss always bring out the best in me.

Have a nice day.


UPDATE: Later today I received this auto-response email from the offices of Tony Clement and James Moore with respect to my sending them my views on Bill C-32:

Thank you for your correspondence regarding Bill C-32, An Act to amend the Copyright Act.

This legislation will bring Canada in line with international standards and promote homegrown innovation and creativity. It is a fair, balanced, and common-sense approach, respecting both the rights of creators and the interests of consumers in a modern marketplace. The Government of Canada is working to secure Canada’s place in the digital economy and to promote
a more prosperous and competitive country.

The popularity of Web 2.0, social media, and new technologies such as MP3 players and digital books have changed the way Canadians create and make use of copyrighted material. This bill recognizes the many new ways in which teachers, students, artists, software companies, consumers, families, copyright owners and many others use technology. It gives creators and copyright owners the tools to protect their work and grow their business models. It provides clearer rules that will enable all
Canadians to fully participate in the digital economy, now and in the future.

For more information, please visit


Tony Clement
Minister of Industry

James Moore
Minister of Canadian Heritage
and Official Languages

It is now going to take me weeks to wash all their bullshit out of my computer. You never expect to hear any kind of real discourse from a politician when you send them a letter or an email. What’s galling is the bald deception of these fuckers, adhering to their talking points, reciting the same deliberately misleading, lying and hypocritical garbage they spout in question period, during press conferences and at their much ballyhooed – (and subsequently ignored) – public consultations. I figure if someone is going to act like a thieving prick they’d better own up to it and not pretend they’re doing me a favour.

Yo, Tony – Hey, Jimmy – fuck you.

Making Another Ruffus Promo

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

A little while back I posted about Making A Ruffus Promo where I described a little bit of the antics involved in shooting and editing a short promotional video to announce new episodes released on the Ruffus The Dog web site.

Well – I did another one:

This time it involves 3 characters and so was, naturally, just a tad more time consuming to make than the previous one. But not because there was an extra character.

The excess production time was caused by me fucking up.

I thought I was being clever in this little exercise of quick and dirty shooting – set it up, knock it in the can, cut the fucker together and throw it out on to the interwebs. Ta-dah! Piece of cake. Yeah – right.

My son helped me with the shoot – operating camera and performing the right hand of the pig character. Took us less than an hour to get all the shots we needed. It was fun – even though we shot the scenes on one of the hottest days of the year and my sweat was dripping on the computer keyboard the whole time.

My sweat wasn’t the problem. It’s because I’m an overly confident lazy bastard that caused the problems. I have old hard drives – they need to be updated – yeah, yeah, sure, someday maybe. I back things up – sometimes – when I get around to it – maybe later when I’m not so busy – just let me get this one thing done first.

You get the picture.

Nothing too complicated.

Nothing too complicated – and it only took me 2 hours to cut and composite the whole thing.

That’s when I noticed we missed a line and had to set up all the lights and camera and shit – again – to get this one integral little fucking line from the pig. Geez.

No worries. Shit happens. Got the shot. Imported it into the edit. I’m feeling pretty cocky at this point. In a couple of hours the render will be finished and I’ll post this puppy and gloat it about it on Twitter and Facebook. I am too cool for school.

I got all the way to the end of the final edit on this shit and was just going to do one last pass to tweak the audio a bit when suddenly Final Cut Pro started telling me I had files that were off-line. That’s how FCP describes something important that just isn’t fucking there anymore. Off-Line.

What?! How is this possible?! Of course the files are there. I put them there. Right there – there – where there is now n-o-t-h-i-n-g.

The screams were heard all through Parkdale – and across the Twitterverse – that night.

Where did they go? I have no fucking idea. For all I know they just floated away with all the sunshine I’d been blowing up my own ass.

I proceeded to spend over 12 hours attempting to recover the files – even tempting the fates by going into the Terminal in a desperate bid to reconstruct the files via command line. Eventually I had to admit defeat and a few days later – this time without the help of my son who had returned to school – re-shot the entire thing.

This time I backed up the files. This time I saved everything – twice – and on different drives. This time I did it right. And it worked – sort of. It doesn’t possess the verve of the first shoot and the edit isn’t as finessed as the first one, largely because I was bored and pissed off with myself for wasting so much fucking time.

But I wasn’t just going to give up and do something else. Oh no. To me it was more important to actually get the thing done. It’s all part of a larger plan of mine that involves certain guerilla production techniques that (often) fly in the face of common sense. Backing Shit Up is now part of the plan.

Something else I did this time around was actually script the whole thing. I mean properly script it. I write scripts all the time for our shows but usually when I’m shooting something small like this I’ll just scribble down some notes and then wing it. It’s fun – what the hell.

This time I wrote it all down – just like a real shoot.

Script - Page One

Script - Page Two

Script - Page Three

Script - Page Four

If you’re into that sort of thing you can download a PDF of the script. It’s not terribly clever – it’s just an exercise in production technique and an attempt to keep some original content flowing through the web site to maintain traffic.

The script is 4 pages for 2 minutes of screen time. There are some producers and broadcasters who live and die by page counts, refusing to even read scripts that defy their ironclad belief system in how long a script must be. Those people are pinheads. The running time of a script is based on how it plays. The little numbers in the corners of the paper don’t mean shit.

You’ll notice I wrote out each and every shot as it appears – with the exception of a couple because I fucked up the timing with the different characters speaking and had to fudge the edit to make it work – c’est la vie. When making the original Ruffus episodes – and for most of the shows I’ve produced and directed – I’ve always done this. It makes sense not to include all that kind of specific production detail when you’re just a writer-for-hire or trying to sell something on spec – then it makes sense to leave things open for readability and to let the other collaborators contribute their own vision to the process of crafting the finished story.

So should my script for a chintzy little 2 minute video have been only 2 pages long? No. Fuck that. Like I said: die hard page counters are pinheads.

Common wisdom sez a feature film script should be no more than 110-120 pages. Ever read a Hitchcock script? 250-300 pages. Of course, his scripts were detailed blueprints of exactly what he wanted to shoot and he was a freakin’ genius – and I’m no Hitchcock – but I do know if you toss one of those on an executive’s desk these days – they’ll plotz.

But, when you’re doing shoots that involve puppets and blue screen other stuff like that, and you don’t have a creative team on hand to figure shit out for you, and you don’t have a budget or the time to stand around with your thumbs up your arses trying to figure out the best way to accomplish the finished visual effect you desire – that’s when you simply write it down and say: “Shoot the fucker like that.”

Works for me – when I take the time to back shit up.

The next installment of this drivel will focus on how much crap I keep in my head as I work. That’ll be fun.


P. S. My friends and colleagues are, thankfully, telling me things like: “You know, if you ever need any help – all you gotta do is just call.”. I know! I appreciate that SO much. And YES – I will call. But first there’s still a couple of other things I need to mess around with before we move into a more collaborative frame of reference. Bear with me. And thank you so much for your support. :)

Harlan Ellison – Dreams With Sharp Teeth

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

I watched this documentary about Harlan Ellison yesterday and I’m going to watch it again. Like Ellison’s writing Dreams With Sharp Teeth deserves to be experienced as often as possible. The man is infuriatingly brilliant, endlessly entertainingly venomous and the most pointed of sticks in the eye of banality, hypocrisy, ignorance and greed.

If you’ve never read any Ellison your life is incomplete.

Find it. Read it.


Talking Trans-Media With Jill Golick

Saturday, September 4th, 2010

The ever generous Jill Golick, who’s currently held in thrall with the production of her new web series Ruby Skye P.I., took some time during their shoot to hang around outside and talk with an old fat guy a visitor to their set about Trans-Media and some obscure online kid’s show called Ruffus The Dog.

Our friend, Mark Achtenberg, shot this outside the Dragon Academy where Jill’s series was shooting. He used his spiffy new Canon Eos 5D Mark II camera and all I wanted to do through the whole interview was yank the delicious bundle of tech from his hands and dash off down the street. Fortunately for all concerned I was too preoccupied talking with Jill and helping to prop up the building behind us.

Big thanks to Jill and Mark for the coverage and promo on Ruffus. Be sure to check out the ongoing work on and release of Ruby Skye P.I.