Camera Practice

June 25, 2009

H’lo –

Had a lovely drive yesterday afternoon with the EX3 carefully stowed in the trunk.  Stopped here and there to shoot some footage – and I must say, I am fortunate to be living in PEI, in one of the most beautiful areas of our Country.  I had a grand time playing with the EX3, pretending to be some great camera operator, shooting sea and skyscapes through lupins, trying to find my ‘style.’ This weird thing happens when you are out somewhere with a camera – all of a sudden, everything is a frame, and you totally wish you had unlimited memory cards because yup, you would shoot everything.  But then again, think how much footage you would have to go through later – so I guess there’s a reason we can’t shoot everything! So yesterday – the rain clouds broke just long enough for me to shoot for a good few hours – and I found myself playing with rack focus on a statue of Mary behind the iron fence at William Critchlow Harris’ stunning Indian River Church, spying on beef cows happily chewing their cuds with a view of the bay, cruising to French River to pretend I was a tourist, stopping at a lookout over the prettiest little fishing village on the planet, then – well, my addiction set in – looking for espresso in Cavendish. Only ’cause the sand dunes were too hazy to bother trying to shoot. And can you believe there is no expresso in Cavendish??? Like none that I could find, anyway! So, well, I settled for a Frosty Treat milkshake on the way home. Don’t tell Krista of Pump ‘N Burn…or Steve for that matter…

I missed one great shot. I am still regretting it, and may have to wander out later to grab it. Just waitin’ for the sun. It features a lovely red dirt road going…nowhere? Somewhere? Hmmmm…All up to the viewer’s interpretation. Watch for it in Drummerboyz. It has a place there.

Still trying to get my MacBook running properly, and editing going. Looking forward to the day when I can have a real editing suite, with many terrabytes of storage and everything working tickety-boo.  And -ahem- an Asistant Editor to help go through folders and bins and footage and all. To deal with techie problems. Someday! Yeesh. Can’t believe I used the expression tickety-boo. That is so not me. Weird.

Did some shooting at the Moncton Highland Games last Saturday – totally cool how the sky stayed relatively clear while I got some interviews, etc. Then when the Heavens opened, the set-up of the Games field actually allowed me to set up the camera in the beer tent and still shoot the bands. Then as luck or Providence would have it, Sam was on the rank I needed – got a great two shot of he and Gordie drumming away together, the rain dripping off their glens and drums. Got some cool shots to show how determined these young drummers are – they even play in the rain, seemingly undeterred. And believe me, it was torrential rain at one point. Their hands musta been slippin’ off of those drumsticks.

Last week did the PEI Screenwriters’ Boot Camp in Mount Stewart. Wow, it was mind blowing. My Instructor was Tom Shoebridge, who was fabulous – the tv people had Canadian Actor and Producer Jennifer Podemski.  I learned a great deal, and at the pitching session was invited to send my Treatment and a few scenes to Dreamstreet Pictures in Moncton. They are looking for family drama – we’ll see how that goes, but it sure would be nice to get a break in this business. Regardless, I will still cherish the moment when Tom leaned over my shoulder and told me I was a wonderful writer. It negated the moment when I opened a letter from Nimbus Publishing turning down my novel. (you’re not a real writer if you don’t get umpteen thousand rejections, right?)

For now, gotta lot to do today still – planning the short film shoot Labour Day weekend – Dreamers – and planning a promo shoot with Marlane for Beautiful Jane. (Marlane got a role in the new Thom Fitzgerald movie! Yippee! I am so proud of her!  Working with Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker (sp?))!)

I may go out to get some more scenics today – depends on the weather – but this time I will end in Victoria-by-the-sea and hope that their little chocolate shop / cappucino bar is open. Sounds like a lovely way to end the day after a fab afternoon of shooting.

Cheers –

Susan 🙂

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One of those days

June 3, 2009

Hi –

There are so many things I need to be doing right now, but alas I have to dump some of my techie frustration somewhere to cool myself off enough to work, so here it is…if anyone’s actually reading this blog, please accept my apologies for doing a little venting! The thing is, I ordered this awesome MacBook Pro for the main purpose of dumping raw footage from the Sony EX3.  It’s this beautiful little streamlined system that allows you to simply pop the Media Card into the PCI Express slot, and away you go. A simple file conversion, and you’re into Avid Media Composer and organizing folders and bins, ready to edit. HOWEVER, the MacBook had resolution problems right off the bat. So, feeling like an idiot, I sent a few hasty emails to people who edit, including a VFS Instructor, and I figured out a few little things that might help with the resolution issue. After all, I have the most incredible High Def camera, and fuzzy images are not acceptable! (And no, these shots are not in soft focus, I got the highest score as a First AD at VFS that my teacher, Ricky Choi, who had been there for 25 years, had ever given a student, according to him personally. I did not EVER have a soft shot on any of the films I pulled focus on)  SOooooo, I go out and buy this nice high-resolution monitor for half price at Staples, great deal, but the Mac won’t pick up the res. Looonnngggg story short, turns out the Mac is a dud, a lemon, the logic board is toast for that series of MACs, and a few weeks and many many lost hours of work and research later, a replacement arrives. Only now:  still won’t pick up the monitor’s res, and yes it is totally supposed to, I’ve done all the research, even Mac agrees it should….and 2, the resolution on the Mac itself STILL bounces back to an old res after setting the high res on its own display….it takes five minutes to boot up – five minutes!!!! No word of a lie….and….get this….IT WON”T READ AVID!!! The other lemon did….this doesn’t…dunno why, unless all the diagnostics the APPLE folks ran me through somehow changed the operating system, cause it turns out that the operating system is the issue here, so hey all you filmmakers, do not get the OS X 10.5.6, Avid will not run on it! So now I have this new replacement MacBook Pro, which is supposed to be the best laptop in the world for visuals and editing, and I am about to throw it out of a window. And worse, I don’t know what to do  – just switch to another or give up on Mac altogether. Perhaps this is one of those times when patience really is a virtue. There are other components I need for editing, but at this point I just need to get a simple system up and running so I can make some dollars doing some corporate web promos, music videos, etc. I tried to explain to MAC how much money I am losing as I waste time trying to fix this problem, but let’s face it, Corporate Apple type folks don’t really need to lose sleep over the fact that I can barely afford a coffee at this stage of my new business. Doesn’t look like getting to Vancouver and Scotland to finish Drummerboyz will be financed by my own business income, at the rate things are going. I sure would like it if Apple would step up to the plate – the worst part is that my regular tech guy (Tony from Texas, a real nice guy) is on holidays and no one else is following through on the ‘we’ll call you within 48 hours thing’.  Guess I should stop blogging and call their regular number again! Sure would like a single grande mocha frappe right about now. That would solve the problem. Or at least give me a breather.

On the plus side, Marlane O’Brien and I are making some headway with Beautiful Jane, one of my feature scripts. She has some connections and we are optimistic that we will have some Development Funds to get started with from private sources by the end of June.  In other good news, I was selected to attend the Screenwriters’ Boot Camp coming up in a few weeks  – I’ll be working on “A Time To Drum” – so I am excited and hopeful about that. I tried to get in a few years ago and wasn’t chosen, so I am really happy about getting in this year. More good news – finished my novel, A Certain Kind of Freedom.  I think it is a bit short, 56 000 words, but I will continue to work at it and expand dialogue, etc, to bring it out a bit. It of course will be re-written a few times anyway, so I am sure it will grow. However, I love it and am really proud of myself and my writing, regardless of what anyone else thinks. There are a lot of things I am not good at, ha ha like tech stuff, and I may not be an exceptional writer, but I do think that I am at least capable of telling a nice story.

No other big news, I don’t think. Except that sailing is good with Steve. Just sailing a Tanzer 22 right now, but it’s sweet, close to the water, and heels over beautifully. Sunday we sailed for three and a half hours, playing in the wind and the waves, almost had the winch in the water at times, then barbecued in the marina cause it woulda been a bit rough otherwise, and it was great. A perfect day. Oh, and I will add that last night was the Mixed Class Summerside Karate Club belt test, and it was a great workout and congrats to all of my friends who moved up a notch and showed the endurance of the human spirit and earned their belts. For me, well, my next belt is brown, so can’t test that in class, has to be a special day with the Moncton crowd, and this was a messed up year for me in terms of karate, being two months into the season to start, and then having to be off for multiple eye surgeries until March, squeezed in a Boot Camp Jan-Feb to train for Karate, then ended the season with an ambulance ride after a day seminar due to Exercise Induced Anaphlaxis (yup, a whammo of an allergy attack, induced by crazy exercise and lots of heat)…so although I got a few more classes in after the allergy attack, I have to admit that it didn’t feel really right last night. Kinda sad. I love karate, even sparring with the guys, which often hurts! But something was missing last night, maybe because I had missed so much of the season and everyone else bonded without me, plus I was away all the year before, or because I was still feeling embarrassed and kinda scared, to be truthful, after collapsing at the seminar, then there’s the fact that I can only see well out of one eye, because I can’t wear a contact lense in the eye with the hole in it, so everything is always blurry on one side and it makes me feel cross-eyed and gives me a headache…plus I wasn’t testing, and I kinda missed that whole adrenaline fuelled exhausted bruised for a week kinda experience. Something about taking your body to its physical limit, to the point where your mind has to take over and finish the job for you. It really is an incredible high. Anyways, hopefully next year will be better, I have a prescription for an epi-pen and plus have some tips to help me stave off another allergy attack like that one…don’t think I can do anything about the eye except learn to live with it, but I am hopeful that if I train real hard, at the gym, pump ‘n burn and karate, that I will go for my brown belt in a year.

In the meantime, good luck to Lesley, who is testing for her black belt this Sunday. 🙂

I am off to call Apple back and follow up on a huge list of to-do’s for Beautiful Jane. I am happier now. Thanks for listening (reading).

Cheers –

Susan