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Two months later...

Nathan Strum


Well, it's been over two months since my last blog entry. I was going to go for three months, but since I'll be seeing Pixar's Up sometime this week, I figured I'd be posting about that anyway, and might as well post an entry now.


Mainly it's been work that's been keeping me out of the whole blogging thing. As with last year, the end of the school year at CalArts (where I work) keeps me extremely busy.


This year, we had some 144 animated films turned in, running just under 7 hours. Putting the whole show together, including turning the Main Gallery into an impromptu theater and taking it all back down again, takes a lot of work. I had some great help this year though, otherwise it simply would never have gotten done. (Even then, I put in nearly 100 hours during the week of the show.)


We were able to improve a couple of things this year. We rented a bigger, better sound system (four JBL Eon15 G2 speakers from Location Sound), and a much bigger screen. Last year our screen was 9' tall x 12' wide, but this year we rented a Da-Lite Fast Fold that was 15' tall x 20' wide. The screen reached above the railing on the second floor, and filled up most of one end of the Main Gallery. The rental company we used (American Hi-Definition) does set-ups for the Grammys, movie premieres and other Hollywood events. We were pretty small-potatoes comparatively, but it was still a big deal for us.




The larger screen helped us get the projector further back too, keeping it out of the way. Last year, we had to place it on a scissors lift in the middle of the room, but this year we had it on the second floor, clear across the gallery (about 100 feet from the screen).




This kept the floor wide-open for seats, and we had at least 300 people in there. (It was hard to get a decent photo of the entire crowd, since I couldn't get up high enough to shoot over the screen.)




The show went great, and all of the students were thrilled to have the bigger screen and better sound. Next year, I'm hoping to rent a subwoofer too, to improve the sound even more.


After that show was done, I had to put together our Producers' Show (about 90 minutes of faculty-selected films, shown at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Theater in Hollywood), including getting the program and posters printed for it, and various other tasks. So that made for another couple of busy weeks.


Then I put together the DVDs of our shows (including inserts and covers) and got them duplicated for the various animation studios out there. Most recently, I've been working on getting our new website off the ground, including encoding about 250 films so they can be viewed online. Hopefully we can have those up within the next few weeks.




The other reason for not blogging, is that there simply hasn't been much going on besides work.


There's very little happening at AtariAge that I've been involved with lately. I had been working on some manuals for a couple of homebrews for the "holiday sale", but I haven't heard much about that lately, so I have no idea when those will need to be finished up. I've also been mocking up some graphics for a proposed homebrew project (as yet unannounced), but I don't know when that will actually enter the development phase. I've gone about as far as I can though, until the coding begins.


I haven't seen any movies since Watchmen. I was going to go see Wolverine with a couple people from work, but just couldn't get all that worked up about "Adamantium" for some reason... ;)




I may still go see Star Trek, but as of yet, I haven't felt like it. It just looks like yet another brainless action film.


One thing I did do, however, was I signed up on FaceBook.


I was convinced by a couple of friends that this was the best way to keep in contact with some people I had been out of touch with.


However, if you go over there now, you won't find me. I deactivated my account.


Why? Well, let me explain FaceBook to you, in case you've never been over there.


FaceBook is basically a way for people to tell everyone they've ever known what they're currently doing.


And I don't mean, "'So and so' is currently working for 7-11 and living in Poughkeepsie. Here's how to contact me."


That might actually be useful. And although that's a part of what FaceBook is for, it's not the main function.


The main function is for people to post generally useless tidbits about whatever they happen to be doing, at any given moment of the day, whether anyone else cares to read about it or not. And then other people come along and can post insipid responses to them, or tag that they "like" what was posted (however, you can't tag that you "dislike" it).


I'll give you a hypothetical example...


'So and so' is eating dinner

Six people like this


Person 1
I luv dinner

Person 2
what r u having

Person 3
LOL! dinnner!!!!!

So and so

Person 1
I luv tacoes

Person 3
LOL! tacos!!!!!

Person 4
tacos make me sad :-(


Or, someone could start a political discussion...


'So and so' is worried about North Korea

1 person likes this


Person 1
north korea makes me sad :-(

Person 2
we should just blow them up

Person 3
u r so mean

Person 4
I luv MASH

Person 1
blowing things up makes me sad :-(

Person 2
LOL! MASH!!!!!


And so on.


This is pretty-much what FaceBook revolves around. Now certainly, it could be used for family members keeping in touch, posting real updates as to what they may be doing while away on vacation, or at college, or whatever. But more likely than not, you'll just end up being bombarded by all sorts of utterly useless flotsam.


As I see it, there are two big problems with FaceBook:


First, is the whole idea that everyone that you've ever met automatically qualifies as a "friend". I think there should be an "acquaintance" category too, so that you could filter out posts from one group of contacts, and only see those in another.


Second, you can't filter posts by subject. You get all or nothing. Message boards and blogs let you look only at areas of interest to you. FaceBook gives you everything. Updates about FaceBook games, photos, endless "top five" lists, working, politicking, eating, sleeping, drinking, barfing, pets, plants, books, TV, going to the bathroom, etc. It's endless. Really - I don't care about what people are doing every single second of the day. I want the ability to choose what's of interest to me.


FaceBook basically serves as digital crack to people who are obsessed with cell phones, chats, and text messaging. People who can't stand to be out of contact with everybody else for more than a few seconds at a time (and don't get me started on spelling and grammar). I can only imagine what a headache-inducing mess Twitter must be.


Anyway, I gave FaceBook a shot, and simply grew tired of slogging through it all. It ended up being more irritating than useful. And yes - I could probably turn a lot of that stuff off in the preferences if I wanted to take the time to do so. But that brings up the question - if I did that, what would be the point of bothering with it in the first place?


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BTW: Go and see Star Trek. I was very reluctant at first as well, but came out very positively surprised. The makers really love and know the original series, doing it no harm :ponder:

Yes, it was very close to original series from the 60ties. Kirk is using his fists quite a lot. :)

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That's quite a long throw from the projector to the screen. I'm surprised the projector could focus down that narrow.


A 4:3 screen and DVDs, so are the students still shooting standard def?


It reminds me of the time I got to see an Academy ratio movie in the theater (Wizard of Oz? I can't remember.) I just remember how big people's heads were and how I got a crick in my neck looking up at the screen. Very different framing than a modern widescreen movie.

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That's quite a long throw from the projector to the screen. I'm surprised the projector could focus down that narrow.

Long-throw zoom lens. About $2000. The projector (a Panasonic PT-D5500U) is designed for swapping out lenses, depending on the throw. It can actually throw farther than that with a different lens. This happened to be one we're using in a screening room elsewhere, and it worked perfectly in the Main Gallery, so it didn't cost us anything.


A 4:3 screen and DVDs, so are the students still shooting standard def?

Yep. The show was run off BetaCam SP tapes, so the quality was still very good. At the moment, we can't really support high-definition production. We're looking into it, but our infrastructure just isn't there. Not enough storage, not enough speed, and not enough money to improve either one.

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