Friday, October 2, 2015

The Martian

This is not meant to be a critic's review of The Martian, which stars Matt Damon, although it might read that way.

Hollywood is taking old music seriously, as Director Joe Gunn did with Guardians of the Galaxy, in Martian we are treated to old disco tunes, which are treated by the main character, Watney, as his backboard for what is supposed to be humorous self entertainment for Watney and witty repartee' for the movie viewer.

It didn't fall on my ears that way, probably because I have seen so many movies and so I expect something different instead of trite formulaic output.

It also is a rehash of several stories, not that this is bad, but it does become somewhat of a distraction when nothing new is offered. The old storylines in The Martian are: Robinson Crusoe (and I suppose to some degree Castaway), Herman Wouk's Caine Mutiny, which in and of itself is a retelling of a true story out of the US Navy, and probably out of old history in other naval settings, and the old story of "we never leave our man behind", which I suppose came out of some battle. Romantic and Hero, but not, for-the-most-part, reality based.

For myself, a somewhat nerdy, science kind of person, what I found interesting was the cobbling together of old tech to make it possible for the lost man to survive, and the creation of new ways to communicate were utilized to achieve the continuation of the rescue story.

The unexpected also came at a good time, spoiler alert, but I won't tell you when.

It also occurred to me how much of a blank canvas an actor has to be, repeating the lines as the script dictates and the way the Director wants them delivered. During the movie my thoughts went to Chris Carter's X-files and how Mulder and Scully deadpanned their lines. Whereas other Directors might ask people to go into a kind of hyperventilation of emotional output for the delivery of lines (think "YOU"RE NOT READY FOR THE TRUTH" as delivered by Jack Nicholson; implying that both characters are at the verge of coming to blows)(Has anyone ever seen lawyers duke it out? Please Hollywood don't do that. Thats just what our justice system needs.).

I have heard many of these lines before, which bothered me.

Kubrick didn't want that, he wanted deadpan line delivery and true tech speak, to achieve reality. And when Kubrick wanted to achieve real suspense he enhanced it with dead silence. Airlocks did not have a sound when it was in a vacuum environment. Hal wasn't going to open the airlock when commanded to (at the time a very different kind of mutiny), and when Dave blew the hinges, no sound was heard. That moment had an impact for the viewer because it was silent. Kubrick framed the beauty of space travel with The Blue Danube in the more laidback, we're-enjoying-flying-through-space scenes. So Kubrick generated a very real scene when Dave had to make his way in silence, silently into Hal's core to dismantle that Artificial Intelligence.

A very different use of audio to achieve the ends of the Director as opposed to The Martian.

It is like a line I read recently states, you can take the Stairway to Heaven or the Highway to Hell. One builds confidently towards an amazing end, the other steamrolls with a kind of pounding confidence. There isn't anything wrong with either, it is how it registers in the long term with the mind that either makes it a jack hammer endorphin laden remembrance to the brain or that we're going to hold our breath to hear the ending properly sung kind of neuron impulse on the grey matter.

I can find my way comfortably with either. But I expected more of The Martian.

And so I make a tangent comment about music today, it is all 4/4 timing. I can't recall the last time I heard a mainstream song in 3/3 or 2/3 timing like a waltz might be.

The Martian stays mainstream by following a typical movie output for a sci-fi genre movie.

The dialogue was also high school tough talk with expletives inserted here and there. As if tough people have to talk tough and use dirty language to make tough decisions and convince others to make tough decisions, and to elevate the importance of the moment with such talk as well.

I am not inclined to think NASA astronauts, let alone astronauts from any country, would do this. Maybe, in an aside moment. It made the movie seem to me to be appealing to high school male thinking.

The 3D was very good, except I now have noticed something about 3D, it seems layered, much like Max and Dave Fleischer created in some Popeye cartoons. This tells you how old I am that I see this. With each layer in The Martian, the layer itself appears to me to be 2 dimensional, as if several layers of 2D were layered together with proper spatial and temporal movement to give the appearance of 3D, but still not quite getting there, especially if you look closely at any given layer.

I picked up on this quickly when Richard Daniels opens the movie with his first lines and the way the camera pulls back, Mr. Daniels has a pasty-grey flat look about him.

But, on Hollywood's side of doing business, I think they choose some not so good repetition of old ways of doing business that they know still work, and sacrifice originality to make big bucks. I can't say I blame them, they are after all the experts; they are the machine.

I balance that though with movies that came out of original thinking like Sylvester Stallone's Rocky. I am sure there are others, but Hollywood has to keep the butter urn churning, and so original dialogue and story lines are few and far between.

I also think that non-sequiturs could have been put into the movie. I suspect Hollywood considers these distractors, and possibly money not wisely spent. Perhaps, or they might be foreshadows of what's to come in the future of a story franchise.

The Martian is a one off, there might be a future retelling of its storyline, but nothing tangent was introduced to tell us we can expect more that will continue this story.

For what its worth,


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

New Concept camera in the works from Canon

Check out this news blurb about a cinema concept camera in the works from Canon:

That red line around the lens is an indication that this is part of Canon's luxury - best line of lenses.

In my opinion the discussion about it being 8k is important. It is an indicator of the camera's range of ability, and the article talks about 300 pixels per inch [summarizing] -approaching the limit of human visibilty-.

It is the same difference between a 2 watt audio amplifier and a 500 watt audio amplifier.

The 2 watt will be audible but probably won't reproduce great sound at all ends of its range of audio volume. The 500 watt unit will probably have better electronics in it, if the engineer that designed it was looking to build quality, and a better sound through most of its range of volume.

What this means is that even on smaller displays, like a smartphone, you will have a better picture, even if your smartphone has a poor display.

And if you have an 8k capable unit, you'll get near film quality resolution.

Keep in mind the eye, and the human brain, combined, is the ultimate resolver.

Read this for visual acuity of the human eye,

I like the part about 180,000 rods per square MILLIMETER at the fovea.

That is about 116 million rods per square inch if my math is right, or about 387 thousand rods per pixel.

The eye then brings a lot of definition, or resolution, to each pixel.

And keep in mind, a pixel on a monitor is easy to see when one goes out. A pixel on a camera pickup is pretty small and may go un-noticed without careful examination.

Film on the other hand works at the chemical level. You can't get much smaller than a molecule of silver halide, which coats film.

Therefore to say this camera is reaching the limits of human visibility is an interesting comment. If I had to tell the difference between one rod being one color and another rod being another color I don't suppose I could tell the difference.

The question is what is the limit of human visibility? How small does a pixel have to be before the human eye and the brain together can't tell the difference between one pixel and the pixel next to it?


Monday, May 11, 2015

My other movie trailer submission.

The Senticus:

Check out this trailer from Project Imagination: The Trailer and get inspired to create your own.

One of my movie trailer submissions

Get Paid to Play:

Check out this trailer from Project Imagination: The Trailer and get inspired to create your own.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Furthering the discussion of making a motion picture film...

Today I asked Google what issues are present when working with motion picture film.

Here is one page that came back:

This page discusses many issues. It is worth the read, and clearly indicates how big the mountain is when trying to make a major motion picture.


Postscript to the above:


Saturday, March 21, 2015


I recently was listening to NPR radio and heard a piece of jazz music by The Maureen Choi Quartet:

Maureen Choi at Reverb Nation

They played "Feelin' Good".

I thoroughly enjoyed it, and when I heard the announcer give the name of the group I went and looked for it online and found the above website.

As well as being music I enjoyed, Reverbnation seems to be an interesting website for one specific reason, it appears you can get your music onto iTunes by being a Reverbnation member.

On the downside, Reverbnation has a lot of ins and outs and is difficult to figure out. There are a couple ways to promote your music, and this had me confused. I am not convinced that paying for promotion is the way to go, but Reverbnation has a pay to play angle.

Considering I heard the Maureen Choi Quartet on NPR, it appears it works, if this was the only way the quartet promoted themselves and ended up on NPR I'd say that is pretty good..

Another downside to Reverbnation is the webpage has en embedded player system. Chrome does not initialize the player correctly so I had to listen via Firefox and/or Explorer. fyi.


Saturday, March 14, 2015


Hi everyone,

I am looking for some help.

I want to enter this contest to create a trailer of this storyline:

Here is the contest site:

A 60 second trailer is the end result. And about 45 days left to produce it in.

I am looking for someone pretty good at CGI to create a couple clips.

The first scene will be a dorm room at night with two guys drinking beer that aren't supposed to be drinking beer after hours (and they are too young as well), and they are carrying on a conversation with a third guy who is asleep and talking in his sleep.

I can produce this part.

The next clip is this same talking-in-his-sleep guy looking up into the sky and seeing a mother ship appear in the clouds along with earth based aircraft (the bigger and more intense and dominating looking the better). He glances around to see a few other people also take notice of the ship arriving, and then a flurry of activity when other ships also arrive.

I will need help here. I have not done this kind of video editing, compositing or CGI creation.

Cut to the next scene where people are running, and then some aliens walking about malevolently.

...then the end clip, which will involve a climax of some sort, I haven't figured this out yet. Input is welcome.

What do we get?

The opportunity to get to know each other and perhaps create a team that can do more in the future as well as entry into this contest.

Here is the contest link again:

My email is :  crystalcityacademic    (at)    gmail   dot   com.



Tuesday, March 3, 2015

As I keep working towards making a feature film...

As I keep working towards making a feature film I keep learning new aspects of how to, and I keep learning more about myself. For instance I found out yesterday that I can discern 36 of the 39 colors present in this chromatograph from a story by LinkedIn:

LinkedIn article

It is interesting as it brings back an old discussion of whether or not we all see the same thing. Clearly this diagram above indicates we don't see the same as each other. Additionally women can also hear a different range of sounds than men.

I also don't hear the same range of sound as most of you reading this. I can hear old analog TV sets when the sound is turned off. My belief is I hear the actual buzzing of the electronic color guns in the back of the tube racing across the TV screen forming the image. All I know is when I walk into a room with an analog TV on, and no sound is audible, I know the TV is there.

And I read a statistic recently of how the movie business is now predominantly male oriented. That the majority of people acting, around 70 percent are males, and women make up about 30 percent.

How do you feel about that?

As I was watching the Robert Relyea produced movie Bullitt starring Steve McQueen over the last few days I was looking to see how the color of the film creates the world the story takes us into. From there I did some research on Arriflex cameras.

Arriflex cameras are making the claim now that they have such high rez on their cameras it is better than film (I believe it is referred to as double hi-def). That is backwards thinking. The ultimate resolver is the eye. And the rods and cones on the retina, and the subsequent transfer to the brain. Film has always been king because it resolves at a molecular level chemically which obviously is smaller in detail than rods and cones.

I was part of a Master's degree seeker's exploration into this neck of the woods about 15 years ago. I made the comment/conclusion that people are going to prefer to live in the composed reality of the digital rather than live in the real world. Max Headroom stuff.

Now though with Photoshop and digital imaging, histograms and such color can be manipulated in amazing ways.

Where is the line between the real and the unreal of virtual reality?

"Ship in a Bottle"

My brother concluded about 20 years ago that we will soon be able to place ourselves into movies as any character we want. In many ways in the world of the gamer this already exists.

I once predicted that our video phones will be answered by avatars of ourselves that we create for the times we don't answer. But I am mistaken. Once upon a time the answering machine was just what one needed to catch messages left when you weren't able to get to the phone. Now though, no one leaves messages anymore, let alone listen to them if you do leave one.


One last thought, check out this set of responses to a google search I just did about Vinyl making a comeback:

The Week, Vinyl comes full circle

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Cameras Used by Sundance 2015 Filmmakers & Why They Chose Them

This is of interest to anyone making a production. I repost this for you to read:

lately, for myself, I have been looking into the purchase of the Sony A6000 mirrorless Digital SLR, and Sigma lenses to put on it.

Here is a review that makes me a believer as to why this is a good choice in a camera.

The problems I am now faced with are:

1 - I am not working in my field of expertise, and so I am not making enough money to afford one of these.

2 - I also want a drone setup. Despite the issues with laws and people taking a poor attitude about drones, here are some videos that show how wonderful having a drone photography/video system can be:


How can you not love the perspective the drone has from above?

I have been thinking I might ask for help and do a Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign to ask for the funds to purchase BOTH systems.

That's about $6 thousand dollars worth of help. And then I have to learn to use them to their BEST advantage so they will pay for themselves.

Wish me luck,

- Chuck

Furthering our abilities...

My friend in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Ethan Bach posted this link to rebusfarm.

More and more it is becoming possible for the smaller art interests to make BIG productions. The above link is to a server farm that anyone with a few dollars can rent and put to our own disposal rendering high end pieces of work.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

In the previous post I mentioned I would contact the publisher of Led Zeppelin's song Stairway to Heaven about licensing to create a DVD of a local band playing Stairway to Heaven. Superhype referred me to Warner-Chappell.

Here are the contents of the emails:

Monday November 3rd, 2014

Good morning,

I am writing to inquire regarding licensing of Superhype Publishing
Title Stairway to Heaven by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant.

The end product, for retail, would be a DVD video disk with a local
band performing this song.

Around 200 copies of this single title. What will the licensing fee involved be?

-Charles Baldwin


Monday November 3rd, 2014

Hi Charles,

I'm forwarding your request to David Costa in our Licensing department for handling.

Best regards,

Jeremy Blietz


Monday November 3rd, 2014

Hi Charles,

Unfortunately this use is denied, not only is Led Zeppelin VERY tough to clear but this song is absolutely off limits.


Senior Coordinator, Synch Licensing
Warner/Chappell Music
10585 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025
AIM:  supitsdav1d
 +1 (310) 441-8799


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Thoughts on the music business...

I have been doing a lot of research to try and learn more about producing a DVD that has, in one case, a movie on it for retail release, and in another case, the one I will talk most about here today, a music DVD containing a local band playing an old rock song which will include an audio and video performance.

What has haunted me is being ethical. Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead is alleged to have stated: "Choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil." And to back that up, As I have been out learning the area around me, I happen to take the back way into Treman State Park outside of Ithaca, NY, along Thomas Road, and when one gets to the entry point, a little cottage of a house is there, and on the mailbox is a Deadhead sticker, and a Princeton University sticker. This sticks with me when I think about this DVD disk effort I am involved in.

I made a pretty good three camera shoot of a local rock band in July of 2013. I volunteered to do this. I paid to rent a stills camera since I didn't have one at the time. I paid for another camera person to be present and shooting, and used the third camera as a lock down head on shot of the stage and band.

The band was nice enough to allow me to do the recording. And I was provided space at the sound booth to record and plugin for electricity.

I am not going to write more about the production itself on purpose. The blog today is about dealing with royalties and copyright and how difficult I have found it to get an answer on a direction to take, so ultimately I am not going to end up making a choice, that results in choosing the lesser of two evils.

I made a youtube video, click here to view and listen to it, which are primarily my picks of the music I wanted to edit from the event. I have every intent of putting the whole event together as a "feature" length piece, but I also have an interest in creating a DVD of one single song. I am already getting a request for a BluRay disk of the whole event by one of the band members. He has asked twice now for it. I have replied that ethically it is not correct for me to simply hand off a copy of the show as it is someone else's copyrighted music the band performed, and for him to be patient as I go through the learning curve of royalty fees and copyright, and heading towards making a DVD/BluRay disk for possible retail sale.

The first leg of this trip was doing a Google and finding this blog (here is another take on the same discussion by the same blogger (Click Here) that addresses for the indie music maker two available companies that make it possible for retail of downloads and other types of media. The discussion the blogger addresses is which of the two companies is better for the indie music maker to utilize for their own ends. You make music, you want to make a buck off of it, he gives his input on which of the two seem better.

Again though, I don't find what I am looking for. How to take a video recording of a band doing someone else's famous song (Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin), and turn it into a DVD Blue Ray for retail, and pay appropriate royalty fees to the original artists (Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, and btw there is a lawsuit against Led Zepp as of the date of this writing because a band of the same era called Spirit used the same chords in one of their songs (Taurus), and now believe they are entitled to royalty fees as a result, Such is not uncommon in the world, people want their due if they believe they are entitled to it, from industry to industry it occurs over and over.

And you want to be an artist?

In hindsight I'd recommend you become a chemical engineer, it pays better, and the hours are a lot less difficult or it seems that way to me.

The most recent email request from the same band member who now ramps up the energy a little, and at the same time downgrades what he termed in a previous email as "nice work" down to a "home video". The idea being to get me to make a BluRay disk for him so he can have it to play, and copy to give to family and friends. And then the problem begins, if I do this for him, I have to do so for everyone else.

Which is what I suspected would happen when I started this, project. I also keep thinking back to my project management class and recall that conflict is a good thing, and I should expect it to get worse, not better, until the end of the project and the end product is finally available, or discarded.

My next effort at research I found the Harry Fox agency. Let me add to this one of my professors in college was Ron Morriseau. He sat on the 17 member commission that formed the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, CPB, aka PBS. When they created that entity they basically lifted the Pacifica model and made it their own, and gave it to the American public. I LOVED having him as a professor. I was relentless about asking questions, and he always gave me answers.

I worked briefly for KPFA, which is Pacifica. Its in Berkeley, CA. Amazing facilities, and people dedicated to an interesting mission. The mission is the reward, if you are wealthy you probably can afford to work there, if you are not wealthy and can work there you will meet amazing people and learn a lot about what isn't in the mainstream media.

From Professor Morriseau I got the term "needle drop fee." This term has been updated into several new terms, a mechanical fee, a synchronization fee, and some others.

And lo and behold I find the Harry Fox Agency. And in that website I find a database called Songfile. From what I have researched this is the company that accepts fees for limited runs of copies of copyrighted music.

  Except that...

Except that they don't do anything that will be a commercial, retail, run. Instead, in reading from the HFA website I believe what I learn is that for a commercially available BluRay disk of a band doing someone else's copyrighted music, you have to go back to the original publisher. So I find a Google image of the original publisher and it is Superhype Music.

A Google of this takes me to the ASCAP website. I have been there before years ago to license my own website for video playback capability. Click here if you wish to visit my website. (No it isn't there presently for reasons this entry in my blog won't go into).

In the ASCAP website it essentially says if you want to do a video you don't need to pay them a royalty fee, just pay the sync fee, and they give the Harry Fox Agency as the collector for this fee.


Breathe a little.

In doing all this research I also learn an interesting little project management formula about trust. Trust equals rapport times competence all over level of risk. This formula can be applied to many areas of anything you may do. Relationships, Facebook posts, etc...

So now I have ASCAP, and I have the Harry Fox agency. And I have my sister-in-law who is an intellectual property attorney, I ask her about HFA, she has never heard of them. Her line of business may preclude her from having ever heard of the Harry Fox Agency.

I emailed ASCAP. And received an email back saying my question is being forwarded to another person, I presume one who is better equipped to answer my question of: What is the royalty fee that has to be paid/accommodated in order to create a BluRay disk/DVD of a local band performing Stairway to Heaven? A limited run of about 200 disks.

And here is another issue. Even if I get an answer from this new person with ASCAP, who is to say I have the CORRECT answer to this question?

There isn't a guidebook on the net that answers this in a nice, easy to follow set of instructions.

Maybe this blog will have the answer someday, and I can get on with making a DVD.

I will keep you posted.


In the meantime...

I have recently created these two videos for the Doritos Crash the Superbowl Contest, please view them, and share them if at all possible as I hope to win this contest, thanks in advance (the rockets red glare video was rejected, no fireworks allowed):

HEY.  ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)