In between rendering the “1923 remix” of The Artist and continuing work on The Templetons, Diane and I shot a quick entry for a contest related to the upcoming movie adaptation of The Watchmen, due for release summer 2009.
One of the characters, Adrian Veidt, “the smartest man in the world”, was once a costumed hero but now is a captain of enterprise. He has many businesses, and one of them is a scent called “Nostalgia.” The producers of The Watchmen provided a number of assets (including green-screened product shots) for a bunch of different products, including shoes, the Veidt airline, and the Nostalgia perfume. The contestants post onto YouTube and a few entries will appear in the background of the movie.
Happy Happy. He’s this old Chinese man with thick glasses and a grey moustache, wearing a straw coolie hat. He says repeatedly “happy happy happy!”
He is usually seen standing on a stepladder holding an enormous sign. The sign is made from a thick posterboard, like you’d use to make a project in grade school. It’s generally covered with all kinds of incoherent ranting about news stories.
Happy Happy used to hang out on Sproul when I was at Cal. For some reason, he and a number of other “street personalities” moved to San Francisco (including Frank “12 Galaxies” Chu). Nowadays Happy Happy stands on Grant in the middle of Chinatown.
Back in those days (the late 1990’s) he’d switch between “Happy Happy Happy” and “*evil celebrity* no good for America!” Example:
HAPPY HAPPY: Tonya Harding– no good for America! Michael Jackson– no good for America!
BRAIN: you may have a point there.
So the other day I was walking around Chinatown and I saw him there, so I thought I’d say Hi.
HAPPY HAPPY: Happy happy happy!
BRAIN: Happy happy happy!
HAPPY HAPPY: Happy happy happy!
BRAIN: Tonya Harding no good for America!!
HAPPY HAPPY: ?!?
BRAIN: Do you remember Tonya Harding?
HAPPY HAPPY: Yes!!! Tonya Harding!
BRAIN: Tonya Harding no good for America!
HAPPY HAPPY: Tonya Harding no good for America!
HAPPY HAPPY: Good to see you again! Happy happy!
He was beaming– I doubt he actually recognized me, but he seemed to key that phrase with something he’d said in the past.
Maybe he was just thrilled someone remembered what he was saying over ten years ago.
I have spent 25 of the last 30 hours editing two new shorts I’m turning in to Scary Cow Round 5, to be screened June 1st at at 3pm at the Victoria Theater. Tickets are available for sale here for $5.
A couple notes on the headaches:
Workflow for Sagar:
Shot on HD DV
imported and edited into Final Cut Pro (FCS2) (rendering up to 20 minutes for a single section, an hour for the whole thing)
written out to Quicktime 720p30 intermediate with all the “hints” for the renderer(2 hours per render!)
sent to Compressor to convert to MPEG-2 (another 90+ minutes)
burned to DVD-R with DVD Studio Pro (FCS2) (another… while… to compress. Burning was fast though!)
The painful part was for about 6 hours there I was getting video that was ever so slightly slower than the audio… by the end it was over a full second late. This is BAD mmmkay… The solution was to go to this QuickTime intermediate, which has hints in it (there’s a dialog that talks about “markers”) to keep the audio in sync with the video.
Workflow for The Templetons trailer:
Shot on miniDV
imported and edited into Final Cut Pro (FCS2) (rendering typically 5 minutes tops)
written out to Quicktime intermediate with all the “hints” for the renderer (10 minutes per render)
sent to Compressor to convert to MPEG-2 (~20 minutes)
burned to DVD-R with DVD Studio Pro (FCS2) (Like 10 minutes tops)
These were projects that were roughly the same length! Ghastly. I’m going to need a faster system if I’m going to be editing any more HD.
The thing that made the Templetons render so slowly (for miniDV) is the crazy effects I came up with to make them look like drawn comic book characters. Originally I had a workflow that included filters in Shake, and also using Adobe Bridge as a renderer with Illustrator… that would have sucked, because I would have had to separate every single clip out of the project for rendering, and re-assembled them afterwards…
Anyway, now it’s entirely in Final Cut Pro, but still uses a whole pile of video filters, typically 4 layers of video for a simple shot with around a dozen filters.
I’ve been running into a lot of people in independent film who are so incompetent that they are completely oblivious to their own incompetence.
There are a bunch of things a director can say that make the editing process for a 4 minute short take hundreds of hours. Unfortunately this is not a hypothetical situation.
“I know you said you needed us to use a slate, but the shoot was really crazy and we just didn’t have time”
“We didn’t (ever) white balance because there wasn’t enough time.”
“I couldn’t make a shotlist because I don’t have any editing equipment”
“I can’t tell you which is a good take because I have to see it and I don’t have any editing equipment”
“I couldn’t make a storyboard because I need jump cuts and they are too fast to write down”
“I know the actor’s face is completely dark there, but you can fix it in post and add some more colors”
“There’s a hair on the lens in this shot, but you can fix it in post”
“I know you said to get a tape cleaner last time because the camera wouldn’t sample our footage, but I heard it’s bad for the heads to run a cleaner on them”
“Just make this shot we filmed at sundown less grainy, ok?”
One shot had the actress standing against the crashing waves of the ocean. Her direction was to turn and consider the ocean, and then walk into the waves. The cameraman’s direction was to execute a slow and constant zoom. What he did instead was zoom in about 20%, wait 2 seconds, zoom another 10%, wait another second, and then zoom the rest of the way. The waves are in the shot the entire time. DIRECTOR: “Can you change the time so the zoom is constant?”
SHAC: putting on warm jeans straight out of the dryer is better than sex
BRAIN: woah there
SHAC: you should try it
BRAIN: it’s too hot these days
SHAC: put some jeans in the dryer then have sex
BRAIN: in the winter that’s pretty good
SHAC: then as soon as you’re done run over to the dryer and put on the jeans
SHAC: just dont tell your wife what you’re up to or that i suggested it
BRAIN: I think a double blind experiment is in order
BRAIN: we’ll take two identical twin porn stars
BRAIN: and one will have sex
BRAIN: and the other will put on jeans from being stark naked
BRAIN: and then we’ll ask them both questions while they are just fucked
BRAIN: and only wearing jeans respectively
BRAIN: and we will film all of this
BRAIN: it will be very scientific
SHAC: make it so
SHAC: but i already know the answer
BRAIN: that’s not good science there shac
SHAC: its not always about the science
SHAC: its a spiritual thing
BRAIN: the church of pants
BRAIN: I think danh is part of that one
DANH: let’s play guess how many days I’ve been wearing these pants
ERIN: he could be an elevator girl with those gloves!
BRAIN: or one of those dudes who pushes you into the train
LISA: wow, i already had a headache… but now my teeth hurt…
LISA: i’m going to have to listen to some waaaay mellow music now
ANISA isn’t it great that you can use copy and paste to maim your friends?
ANISA: do i need to watch it all or can the horror end now
BRAIN: it doesn’t change if that’s what you’re asking
BRAIN: this reminds me of Blipvertisements in Max Headroom
ANISA: i am in pain brian
BRAIN: yeah amazing isn’t it
ANISA: you are definitely getting a few bad karma points on your record for that
BRAIN: Lisa said something like that as well
Do not ignore me please,
I found your email somewhere and now decided to write you.
Let me know if you do not mind. If you want I can send you some pictures of me. I am a nice pretty girl. Don’t reply to this email.
Email me direclty at
I imagine what looks like a girl with only her face remaining of her head, and a ton of cables and optical fiber coming out the back… the cables end in a server in the corner.
She sits, slumped in a chair, smiling attractively at the ceiling.