When we last met, the sky was a simple blue color.
I then went in and painted cloud skeletons:
Then, with that as my guide, I mixed a small amount of raw umber with white to start building the clouds.
I stopped with one layer, because I wanted to step back and see how things were proceeding. I can’t really tell if I like it or not. We’ll see.
In the meantime, thanks for stopping by.
So, I haven’t done any painting in forever. There are a thousand excuses for this, and I could list each and every one of them, but that would waste everyone’s time, wouldn’t it? And I never do that.
Anyway, I decided to start painting, even though I don’t have any inspiration or anything. The muscles still have to be moved or they atrophy.
As opposed to most of the previous paintblogs, this one has a plan. It’s going to be a landscape. So:
We start as usual with a blank canvas. This time in “portrait” mode.
The colors chosen were titanium white, cerulean blue, and phthalo blue.
So, let’s start. Pretty much just white and cerulean right now. Sorry for the lack of light on this, but you know you shouldn’t expect quality!
Here’s what we ended up with–oh sorry, my thumb must have blocked the flash.
Let’s try that again, shall we!
Then I drank some beers, decided I didn’t like what I had so far–it seemed pretty automatic and not what I wanted. It was okay, but I’ve done it before, and I didn’t want to do it again. So I blue’d the whole thing again.
And that’s where we stand as of right now, which is June 6th. Where will this go? Or will it go anywhere? Stay tuned. Here’s a bunny! The bunny was in the back yard.
He (or she) ran away after I took this picture. You know how bunnies are, right?
Anyway, thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see what the future holds.
I think I may start this thing up again. Right now, I have a paintblog in the works, and it seems like the Island might be a good cleansing experience.
Well, it’s a new year. Lots of stuff happened last year, most of it rather unpleasant (at best). There were a couple of high points, but overall, it was a slow slide into what seems like a home stretch.
I grow less and less patient with the insistence of Facebook and Twitter. Yes, I’m on both of those, but they lost their luster for me some time ago. Whenever I sign on, I feel as if I’m walking into the local Mall, circa 1995.
So, I think in this new year of 2012, I’m going to return to the good old “blog” format. As a special bonus, I can pretty much say whatever I want to, since no one reads this anymore! Finally, a good use for that old devil, Time.
Anyway, thanks for dropping by, dear imaginary reader (I remember you from when I was a kid!). I hope to make more regular entries during the new year, including (I hope) the return of the PaintBlog.
Well, B-Fest 2011 is now concluded, and for the second time I was able to attend. I went last year and had a terrific time, probably the best bit of 2010—which is rather sad as there were still at least eleven more months in that year to go. (The year improved a great deal in December, in case you were wondering).
So I decided to go again this year. As in last year, it was a tremendous amount of fun; below is a summary of how the weekend unfolded.
My flight to Chicago was delayed slightly (30 minutes or so), but Ken (High Priest of Jabootu) was able to pick me up with no trouble. Jeff Witham was already at Ken’s place, so we turned around and headed out to meet the usual cast and crew for dinner at Jameson’s steak house, then back to Ken’s Inner Sanctum for a double feature.
First up was Destination: Inner Space, a TV-movie from the late 60’s. While slow-moving in spots, this one had an interesting alien spaceship interior and a really cool monster. The creature was well-designed and very colorful, a change from the usual dour-looking gray, green or dark monsters. The most memorable scene was watching Scott Brady trying half a dozen times to buckle his scuba-tank belt. (He finally managed to do it.) Also, Mike Road, the voice of Race Bannon, was in the cast. Also had an incredible soundtrack which I still can’t get out of my head.
Next up was a Jack E. Leonard/Jayne Mansfield/Phyllis Diller comedy, The Fat Spy. I say “comedy” because I’m not sure how else to describe it—“indescribable” actually fits better. “Unbelievable” also works. There’s also Brian Donlevy and a bunch of rockin’ teens. Some people do things, others wander around, occasionally someone stops and sings. In a bit of ironic foreshadowing, I mentioned that this reminded me of Skiddoo.
The day started with the traditional breakfast at the L & L, though later than usual because we weren’t meeting up with anyone. One thing you get a lot of at the L & L is food, so it was unsure if we’d be able to get to Superdawg for lunch. So we returned to the Ken Cave and saw the last half of the Jack Benny film, To Be or Not to Be (TCM was celebrating Ernst Lubitsch’s birthday. That’s what I call classy.)
Superdawg was still a variable at this time, but I pointed out that we’d probably get far hungrier far sooner if we didn’t make the attempt. So we packed up the cars and headed to lunch. There, we met a couple of other folks whose names, alas, I cannot recall. Then it was off to the theatre.
We hauled our coolers and snack tower and bedding in and grabbed parts of the first four rows, and settled in to have our senses wrung.
Puma Man. An Italian super-hero film, this one was silly, stupid and overlong, with some of the worst “flying man” sequences ever. Seriously, he looked like he was tumbling through the sky rather than guiding himself. Donald Pleasance plays an evil guy who does evil for unstated evil reasons. He’s always fun to watch. I do have to wonder why they chose “puma” as the animal; I know they’re big cats, but that’s all I could tell you. “Panther Man” sounds less silly and is also only two syllables; plus a panther is pretty well known to most folks. It’s like someone who had tentacles calling himself “Mr. Chambered Nautilus.” Also, once he became Puma Man, he never went back to being a civilian again.
Since this was the first film, it was pretty much drowned out by the crowd who were, I have to admit, more loud than funny at this point. Last year’s opener, The Crippled Masters, was so grotesquely startling that the crowd seemed stunned; I think next year should take a lesson from that. I know that crowd reaction is a big part of the fest, but this film gave them too many obvious targets. Not everything that one shouts is funny, y’know.
Top Dog. This is a weird combo of family dog comedy and Chuck Norris beat-em-up. Very professionally executed, and with a charming dog, I’m puzzled by the intended audience for this. Kids who would love the dog’s antics would be rather shocked by the brutal violence, while action fans would be impatient with the dog comedy. Maybe it’s a film for folks who are indiscriminate Chuck Norris fans. He’s not an actor but he does have a certain screen presence and does his couple of emotions (“confused” and “angry”) pretty well. The audience had fun with this one. Also, the police chief was clearly Asian, but his name was Irish. Were we supposed to notice that?
Mama Dracula. This one suffered from truly dreadful print quality—hello, Mill Creek!—as well as the fact that it didn’t really have a story, just a series of bizarre vignettes. (It reminded me in places of early Peter Jackson.) After a while, I stopped hating it and was able to enjoy it in a “Okay, what’s next” sense but this one was probably the worst film at this year’s Fest. Probably, I note. The audience remained baffled for the most part, and eventually became hostile, then finally resigned.
Next up was the yearly raffle. I didn’t win anything, but I was okay with that. The only item that really caught my attention was a DVD of Frankenstein Meets The Space Monster. Ooh, pick me!
Then came the two Fest perennials, The Wizard of Speed and Time and Plan 9 From Outer Space. I don’t think there’s anything I can really say about these two, though it was nice to see some little kids having fun on stage. The first 30 minutes or so of Plan 9 played without sound while the crew tried to fix the problem.
Blackenstein. A black Army vet has his missing limbs replaced through Dr. Stein’s new technique. He becomes a Frankenstein Monster, complete with brow ridge, and goes on a low-budget rampage. Aside from one loathsome male nurse, all his victims seemed to be random people. A strangely bland and uninvolving film, which left the audience somewhat enthused but clearly too tired to ramp up a lot of excitement.
Manos The Hands of Fate. In terms of film-making talent, or obvious lack of same, this was the worst film of the Fest, but I’d seen it a few times before so it didn’t affect me like I thought it might. The audience felt rather baffled and helpless. Watching the film is a bit like staring into the eyes of a cobra, only less cinematic.
Hot Stuff. A cute fire safety short from the National Film Board of Canada. Over and done before the audience really had time to build up anything.
The Manitou. Probably the best film at this year’s Fest, this takes a pretty unique premise and plays it pretty straight. Remarkably, for a 70’s film that delves into Native American mysticism, it turns out the white people were able to help, and not just there to be lectured. The audience was loud and, like Puma Man, rather obvious but I think they were too tired to sustain it.
Undefeatable. This would be my alternate nominee as Worst of the Fest, simply because it was really sadistic and unpleasant, two of my buttons. I suppose the film-makers could argue that the overlong and plentiful rape and torture scenes put the audience into the place of the victims, but c’mon—it’s a kickboxing film starring Cynthia Rothrock. When a person gets kicked in the face and starts screaming in pain rather than continuing the attack, you can talk to me about “realism.” The audience seemed to agree with my assessment, though the villain’s over-the-top comeuppance got a cheer.
I Accuse My Parents. Rather staid social problem film about drinking, mostly, with descent into crime and then turning around and ultimately taking responsibility…sort of. It turns out that the title means the lead character didn’t get enough hugs. Grandfather of today’s “it’s not my fault” attitude. Easy to mock—a little too easy, since the audience never really got worked up. The only black and white entry apart from Plan 9.
Night of the Lepus. Introduced charmingly by Liz, this is actually a pretty decent giant monster film. The acting is good and the tone is serious, and there’s never a moment when someone says, “Wait, wait, what if it’s giant carnivorous worms?” The effects work is really first-rate, especially blown up on a big screen. The problem, as you probably know, is the nature of the monsters. It is really, really hard to make giant bunnies menacing, tomato paste on their teeth or not. For the first time, both doctors from the original Star Trek rode in a helicopter together. Well received by the audience because, well, you gotta love it.
American Ninja. All the elements of a typical rock-em sock-em action picture are here, and the film works really well as a well-oiled machine. It’s a lot of fun, and it had the audience eating out of its hand.
Skiddoo. Wow, talk about ironic foreshadowing! I’d seen this one decades ago and hated it; I was preparing myself for a return engagement. However, the film turned out to be “better” than I remembered it. Instead of looking for a plot that never materialized, I started to enjoy the little bits and the performances. The audience got into it, and loved my favorite bit: the singing credits.
Cool as Ice. White rapper Vanilla Ice’s only starring role. It’s a typical 1980s musical plot—he’s from the rap world, everyone else is too stiff and proper to appreciate how he is “from the streets” and thus “authentic.” In the end, he proves himself to the girl and her father and defeats the bad guys. Oh, spoiler alert. Sorry about that. Aside from the ridiculous hair, he’s a handsome guy but it’s hard to tell if he has any acting talent. If you’re a gigantic Vanilla Ice fan, well I’m sorry to hear that, but this movie is definitely one you should see. Otherwise, he plays a colossal self-centered jerk—in other words, he could easily be the villain in another 80’s musical. I honestly don’t remember the crowd’s reaction, except that they found Ice’s attire and coiffure as ridiculous as I did.
Next up was some dumb black and white film with dirty hippies in it. This one stopped after a few seconds, and there was much rejoicing.
Mighty Peking Man. The last offering this year was a pretty decent King Kong knock off from Korea. It hit all the proper tropes and had an adorable jungle woman in it. Nicely done effects, though the attempted rape scene was pretty unpleasant and set Liz off on a rant about how all men are evil, etc. I’m glad there were no sharp objects around.
After that was the post-event party and Paul and Holly’s house. I had a couple of shots of something called “Kraken” and I don’t remember any of the rest of the evening. I’m sure I was witty, charming, profound and insightful, however, as Ken and I were up until nearly 3:30 AM talking about films of all stripes.
After an enormous breakfast, we all returned to Paul and Holly’s and watched the jaw-droppingly amateurish Birdemic – Shock and Terror (to give it its full title). The special effects in this one would have fit right into The Fat Spy. In fact, watching those rockin’ teens get dive-bombed by falcons would have been a highlight, especially occurring as unexpectedly as it did in Birdemic – Shock and Terror. The guy who made the film is doing a sequel (in 3D), so maybe they’ll be rockin’ teens this time.
After that, off to the airport where Chicago security proved to be not quite the ordeal I was expecting. I slept briefly on the plane and when I got back, decided to watch Army of Darkness as a fitting cap to the experience.
With any luck, and a kind economy, I will endeavor to be back next year.
Hello! I’m actually not dead, believe it or not. Well, I guess that’s self evident since I’m typing and I think brains taste terrible.
Anyway, using DreamWeaver, I finally updated my “Oil on Canvas” page. It’s got (with a couple of old exceptions) everything I’ve done in oils over the past couple of decades.
Right here. Some of the images are rather large so their thumbnails might take a moment to load. But that’s everything…everything in a finished state, that is. There are still a couple of others that aren’t done, and won’t be added until they are.
Oh, and there’s this.
That’s done, and actually owned by a “private collector.” It hasn’t been officially announced, though, so I’m not adding it to the page until it is. Consider yourselves privileged!
Due to rapidly growing dissatisfaction with Facebook, I hope to start updating this blog more regularly in the coming year. I look forward to resuming your acquaintance!
No, I didn’t participate this year, just as I didn’t in the last two years as well. But last night while trying to fall asleep, I was thinking about it. And I had a rather…uncomfortable revelation.
I can remember my first NaNo project. I can remember the storyline, the characters, how the style kinda sorta changed somewhere between the first quarter and the rest of the book.
I can remember my second NaNo project. Again, characters, story, even dialogue. I remember how that one was more mapped out before I began, and how that started to bite me when I was going through the storyline and running out of words. Had to invent a few diversions to pad it out.
I cannot for the life of me remember anything about my third and (so far) final project. Nothing. Not a damned thing. Out of curiosity, I logged into my NaNo account, but of course I’d forgotten that they don’t keep info for previous years. I looked over my entries for that year and of course I divulged nothing of plot, character, or dialogue. Interestingly, I did seem to think the piece was working well.
I’m sure I have the piece somewhere, and should I find it, I’ll instantly remember the details. But it does give me pause in thinking about my writing abilities. When even I can’t remember it, it must not have been terribly good.
Well, given the subject matter–guys wakes up one day, and his right hand now sports (instead of the expected five digits) a tiny girl who loves him–I thought that this was going to play to a number of Freudian themes. Hey, there’s a GIRL on your right hand–what are you going to DO on a Saturday night?!? Amirite? Guys?
Turns out I was wrong. The girl and the guy are, if you’ll pardon the phrase, bigger than that. Yeah, sure, there are some breasts here and there, but they’re not the focus of the story. This is a definite Top Ten in my anime realm. The characters are great, the situations move the story forward, and the ending is just what you (or at least I) hope it will be. Of course, I’m a sucker for the Big Romantic Ending, especially if the show’s been shooting in that direction, so that’s not a surprise. It’s just remarkable how they tied up all the loose ends so well. I was expecting to endure this series, given what I’d heard, but instead it was one of those shows that told me, “Keep going, there’s still some anime stuff out there that will surprise you, in a good way!”
Recommended, if you can find it.
This one insists on calling itself “Voodoo Death God” but I’m even sure if there is such a thing, so I’m thinking that was a lie to sound impressive or something.
Still, I do have to admit I like the way this is going.
I’ve tried several consumer-grade video editing software packages, and I’ve discovered something they have in common: they all suck.
Just to define, I mean software allowing you to assemble video clips into something you might want to upload to YouTube. And by consumer-grade, I mean something you might pick up in the local Best Buy for (generally) less than $100. What I would like to do is place a few short clips next to each other, perhaps with a cross-fade between some of them, apply some simple special effects here and there, and add a soundtrack. I tried three major packages and all three had problems doing some of these basic processes. Why they should all fall so short of what seems to me a minimum acceptable level is beyond me; perhaps my own impatience and/or incompetence might be factors, but I’m not that incompetent.
So, let’s meet our contestants.
First up was Pinnacle Studio HD Ultimate Collection 14 and before you ask, they all have names like that. (And it’s important to give them their full names–you’ll see why when we get to the next package.) This is a pretty powerful software package, and it’s backed up by a massive number of plug-ins you can buy. It does video overlays really well. The layout is pretty basic and logical, with everything laid out pretty much where you would want it. So what killed it? Well, it’s very fussy about video drivers, and apparently my Intel something-or-other is not well liked. Some of the effects you could add you could not preview; you had to render it and hope everything worked out the way you wanted it to. That’s not a big deal, you could always go back and adjust, but it was something of a hiccup. However, that wasn’t its worst lack. That would be the inability to cross-fade between clips.
Yes, fading is something that the package knows about, but doesn’t do. A web search reveals that there are work-arounds, but really, work-arounds for something elementary like this? Argh.
So, with Pinnacle shot down in the night, we next turn to Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD 9. This is pretty nice software, very flexible with a layout a little more extensive than Pinnacle. And yes, it will do fades. So, problem solved, right? Alas not. I put together a somewhat longer series of clips and rendered it and…there were problems. When one clip would switch to the next, whether through a fade or just a cut, the video would pause
noticeably. (You see what I did there?) Again I went to the web. I found no information about what might be causing this; I did find a post from someone who had a similar problem. His solution? He upgraded to the next higher package. That sounds a bit extreme, doesn’t it? Damn it, Sony.
Back to the drawing board, I searched for “video software cross-fade” or some damn thing, and found a package called VideoPad. This is a pretty bare-bones freeware package, and you know what? It does fades beautifully. You can adjust the duration of the fade across one or both clips. Very nice. So I rendered a short little sequence, and yeah it had great fades. So what was the problem? Well, each time a transition began, there was a brief pattern of diagonal lines that was superimposed over the image. Just there for a fraction of a second, but noticeable. Sigh. A search of the package’s forums found no solution, and I tried to join said forum so I could post the question, but I never got a confirmation. That’s not a good sign.
Whilst trying to keep my sanity through all this testing and re-testing, I took a break and drove to Best Buy. Just for fun, I looked in their video software section. Same stuff I already had as well as a package by Magix. Do I want to buy more software? No. I’ve used some Magix stuff and it was decent software, but not the sort of thing that made me think they’d licked the problems I was seeing. But as I turned away–
Adobe Premiere Elements, hm? A bit pricey, but I thought I’d research it anyway. I mean, if Adobe can’t do it, we’re all in trouble, right? After reading some reviews I bought it directly from Adobe as a download. (They were offering a rebate which made them cheapest.) Installed and fired it up and…argh. Problems. I could not see a single clip, either on the dashboard or in preview. I suppose it, too, hated my video card (though I met the requirements). My frustration level was fairly high at this point, and after a fairly brief attempt to solve this issue, I initiated a return/refund with Adobe. To their credit, they processed it without any fuss.
So where did that leave me? I didn’t want to try another package to be honest–I knew I was only going to discover more unexpected holes in utility. And three of the folks I tried have very expensive professional versions used by Hollywood–Adobe Premiere Pro, Sony Vegas Pro, and Avid Systems (who bought Pinnacle). So clearly these people must know what they’re doing? Yes?
I was pretty close to abandoning the whole process as a bad learning experience. I had one option left before I did that, and that was to upgrade the Sony to version 10.
Follow me here for a moment. I’d owned the Sony software for perhaps two weeks. Now, generally upgrading from a 9 to a 10 would be free in that time-frame, wouldn’t it? You might think that’s reasonable, but you’re wrong. You see, version 10 was actually Sony Movie Studio HD Platinum 10. Apparently that word “Platinum” meant that it was an entirely different product, so it wasn’t so much as an “upgrade” as a “cross-grade” or something. Too tired to argue, I noted that the price wasn’t too horrible, so I ponied up. Total cost for both, around $120.
And mirabile visu, the video no longer paused between clips! Hoo-hah, I was on my way at last. I assembled a somewhat larger array of clips and rendered them, and found…the next problem. Which is that some of the clips just did not render. At all. I would have a stretch of black that lasted however many seconds the clip ran, then the next clip would pop in as if all were well. Well, all sure wasn’t well.
I couldn’t figure out what might be causing this. I thought it might be the clips with special effects, but a few more runs showed that the unrendered clips were a random mixture of effects shots and straight footage. (Each run would have a different clip that failed, though they were usually in the latter half.)
After trying to think, I went with my first thought: I’m straining the software. I’m asking it to do too much at one time. Now, it might seem funny that software designed to do these things was having trouble doing these things, but I’d pretty much abandoned logic (as well as sanity) by this point.
So I carefully constructed my final project by making smaller projects. If I applied an effect to, say, clip06, I would render it as clip06effect. Then I would start a new project and use the rendered effect clip rather than make the software do too much. Believe it or not, that worked. Finally, I had a complete 3 minute movie. I figured adding the soundtrack would be the start of another nightmare, but it was surprisingly trouble-free. I guess maybe Sony figured I’d suffered enough, or perhaps it hadn’t had time to think up some new problems to throw at me.
So in sum, I don’t know how many of you might take up video editing (you fools) but I hope my journey might help you through some of the pitfalls. I would like to close by thanking you for your patronage, and to tell Pinnacle, Sony and Adobe to shape up.
PS: All of the above packages had rather difficult trimmers, which one would need to cut out unwanted frames. I ended up with yet another package for that, SolveigMM AVI Trimmer. This little freeware editor is excellent, and highly recommended.