Production-Now.com Media Production Mentoring

Online film school designed with beginning filmmakers in mind.

1.31.2008

Think Different?

...just think, please.

I ran across the following today.


I laughed.

I've never bought into the Mac cult. I hope I never do.

Perhaps it's the fact that CTU uses Macs. Maybe it's my own personal experiences with Apple computers. It could also be the rantings of the cult followers just push me over the edge. But, whatever the case... ugh.

Don't get me wrong: I really like working with my G5 and cutting in Final Cut Pro. But I also happen to use a PC, enjoy XP, and have found Vista to be really nice; in fact, everyone I know who is actually using Vista likes it.

This post was going to be about story... but I think I got sidetracked. What I find that often stops people from making movies is not the technical difficulty, nor the time, nor even the lack of resources, but just the plain and simple lack of a story to tell. This happens for many artists and creative types. This problem is often referred to as "writer's block", but it happens to photographers, painters, filmmakers, as well as poets. We get stuck.

How does one keep creativity high? The few suggestions that I've heard include things like: Consistency (such as writing in the same place at the same time every day so as to create a "creative space") and Stimulation (placing yourself in areas where you can get stimuli that will spark your muse, such as reading blogs, going on walks, or talking with friends).

Those ideas are certainly good ones to incorporate, but in order to be creative, we have to think. Careful, we must not think too hard and so confuse ourselves or get bogged down, but we do have to think. That's why it's true that if you just start writing you'll often come up with something to write about: You forced yourself to think.

And, really, you don't have to think differently. Just think, please.

So, next time you feel like you should create something but are bummed out because you don't have any ideas, think back to the last time you actually sat down and thought about a story to tell. Odds are, you haven't for a long, long time.

...that is, if you're anything like me.

So, now that you're almost done reading this post, why don't you spent some time thinking?

That, or go to bed.

~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor

1.30.2008

SIGNAL Promo Video

Here's a little video I put together for my Church so more kids could find out about SIGNAL (a media mentorship program I have at my house on Friday nights). We've made a few little movies and such at SIGNAL, but I don't have permission from some of the kid's parents to post the videos yet, so this will have to do for now.

The video is 45 seconds long and is a mild spoof of Rob Bell and the Nooma videos. Hope you enjoy.


A short promo for SIGNAL, featuring me.

~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor

Peachy Preaching

I recently watched the film Kinsey, not sure what to do with a movie with a tagline: Let's talk about sex. Not one to shy away from such topics, I decided to give it a "go".

Why am I posting about a biographical flick about a man obsessed with sexual research? Because Kinsey does something that Christian films rarely do, and I'm not talking about broaching the subject of sex.

In the most profound and powerful scene (in my opinion, of course), Kinsey sits down to talk with a homosexual man about his life/sex history. The man recounts the tail of when he was caught by his father in the barn with another boy. His father gathered the rest of the men on the farm together and beat the two boys, breaking bones and ultimately killing the other boy.

"How old were you?" Kinsey asks.

"Thirteen." There is a pause, and then the man continues: "It's not that I mind being queer... I just wish it didn't put others off so."

Whoa. This film just preached at the audience. It just told me that I should let homosexuals be homosexual, not get "hot and bothered", and I certainly shouldn't tell a homosexual man that it is wrong. And I bought it, hook, line and sinker.

Why?

Because this kind of preaching in movies works. It has for a long time. Thinking this was important, Christian filmmakers have stepped up and started preaching too. ...But something is wrong. See if you can spot it.

[The following is based off my memory from a scene in the movie Facing the Giants.]

Rebellious football player sits in bleachers talking with Coach. The boy has just made some comment about how is father's a rather pathetic man.

Coach turns to him and says, "You need to respect your father."

"I know, but he just doesn't deserve any respect. He's not there for me, and he treats me like crap."

"Yeah, that's tough, but if you start to respect him, he'll start to show you more respect too."

I'm sorry that I don't have the actual words from that scene (my rendition made it even worse), but the point remains. This film has just told me I need to step up and respect my parents, and that will help the situation at home.

I don't buy this for a second. Why? Because it doesn't ring true at all. The kids I've talked with who have trouble respecting their parents come from homes where respect is demanded from really lousy adults (who happen to be pretty terrible parents to boot). These people find it hard to get respect anywhere, and so try to stroke their egos at home where they can wield authority like a mace. The solution is not to show them more respect (though they still need to be respectful, but in a completely new way).

So what's the difference between these two scenes? How come non-Christians promoting all sorts of immoral things get away with preaching and Christians trying to make people into better humans fail?

Well, "Kinsey" never says a single word from the message I got from the sermon. "Facing the Giants" told me, verbatim, what I was supposed to believe. Christian filmmakers have got to learn that to make a message meaningful, we have to stop preaching to the choir.

The choir already believes this rubbish, no one else does. If you want someone to believe what you say, you tell them a story that is true and leave the conclusion up to them. A scene that would tell me that respecting my parents will lead to a better home life would look like this:

Older man: So how'd you end up with a good relationship with your father?

Young man: Well, he was a total jerk, always yelling at me and telling me how much of a disappointment I was to him. I had stopped responding years ago because it only led to more lectures on how I needed to respect him more and how I shouldn't talk back. One day I couldn't take it anymore more so I told him where he could put it and stormed out of the house.

A pause while the young man tries to regain his cool by taking a drink of water.

Young man: I went to Jane's house and yelled at her for an hour. She gave me a hug and told me that I needed to go back and talk with my father. I told her that wouldn't work. She said that I needed to present my thoughts calmly. That I needed to start the conversation by telling my dad that if he interrupted or started yelling that I would walk out again until he cooled down. It took me two days to get up the courage to do that. But it worked. For the first time in my life, he listened to me.

Older man: Did things get better?

Pause.

Young man: Eventually.

Maybe it's because people with "messages" feel like they need to tell others the truth. They forget, however, that stories hold the most power to sway minds and opinions. Tell people a story that rings true, and they will believe. That's how you get to preach in a movie.

But we already knew this: The best preachers tell the best stories from real life to communicate (not illustrate) their point.

Doesn't the Bible do that too?

~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor

1.29.2008

The Move to Analog

Remember back to the days before CDs? (It's okay if you don't.) Well, I grew up listening to records, which were a truly Analog format. People have told me that tapes are analog as well, but that's a little more of a stretch for me. But that's beside the point.

We are now in a very Digital age. I make media in an almost completely digital workflow. Computers allow us to do some absolutely incredible things, but things are changing.

I've used a keyboard almost my entire life. Same with a mouse. Those are very digital type inputs: Buttons, tracking balls, and clickers. But for over a year now I've been using one of these babies:


My Wacom tablet.

I absolutely love "interfacing" with my computer via a pen. It is amazing. It is also, in a way, incredibly analog. When I put my pen in the lower right of the tablet, the cursor is in the lower right of the screen. My pointer motion is now completely analogous to the motion of my pen.

And this isn't the only place where we are shifting to a more and more synthetic analog model for our digital age. The Nintendo Wii (not to forget the DS as well) also operates on a analog level completely different from the buttons and toggles of other gaming systems (including Nintendo's own consoles of the past).


A couple "old school" (and rather digital) Nintendo controllers.

What does this mean for the media of the future?

I really have no idea. I'm really bad at predicting the future. However, I wouldn't be surprised if we become more and more tactile in our media interaction over the new few years. The iPhone has already shown how popular digital-analog systems can be. Who knows, maybe the next big thing after HD will be D-A: The system of faking an analog experience in a digital world.

~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor

1.28.2008

Know Thy Tools

In media production it is important to "Know Thyself" (and so avoid the pitfalls of being overly confident and not accepting help or becoming self-conscious and giving up), but it's also important to "Know Thy Tools". With a little knowledge of how your equipment and software works, you can pull off some pretty incredible things.

This video has been passed around quite a bit (I found it over at The Editblog) and with good reason: It's absolutely incredible. Give it a little watch:



How did they do this? Well, first, they had a very good idea (story) and a very solid idea of how they were going to pull this off. This means they spent a ton of time in pre-production getting ready for the shoot. But they also knew how to use their tools. Without the technical know-how they have, this wouldn't have turned out at all.

How does this relate to me?

Well, I know the few tools I use quite well. However, whenever I encounter problems that must be dealt with outside my software comfort zone, I tend to get bogged down. That's one of the reasons I've built Production-Now.com: So other people can benefit from the many hours I've spent (and continue to spend) trying to figure this all out. It also is a great reminder that there is more to learn, and hopefully serves as an inspiration for us to learn.

I've spent several hours the past couple of days trying to find some viable free video editing software. There's quite a few options out there, but thus far I have been unable to figure them out. In short, I don't know these tools, and so can't recommend them or write tutorials (and the tutorials that exist are terrible... really).

So, yes, I can relate to the frustration of learning new tools (which is easy to forget when you've been using the same software for five years). I wish there was more helpful information out there as well.

If there is anything you wish there was more helpful information on, let me know about it over at the Production-Now.com Forums and I'll see what I can do.

~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor

1.27.2008

TV-Links and DRM

I try to stay away from political issues here, but this is just ridiculous and has severe implications for us as media producers and media consumers.

I utilized the incredible (free) service that TV-Links offered before it was shut down. TV-Links included links to and embedded video files from various sites around the world that had pirated content on them (most notably Google). This allowed us English speakers to watch movies that were hosted in China because it told us what the films were in a language we could read. The quality wasn't great, but if I just felt like watching a flick it was awesome! Sure, I didn't watch all of Transfomers because the only thing about that movie was the special effects and those didn't come through so hot at 25Mbs.

The issue of "piracy" is too big to get into here (and DRM is plain ridiculous as many people have noted far more eloquently than I could). The real issue is web-based media distribution and consumption.

Is it illegal to link to other sites? If so, this blog post has already committed several infringements to the law. But FACT seems to think that it is. As Rich [NB: He swears] over at The New Freedom blog points out, "This effectively makes the entire internet illegal."

He's absolutely right.

Now, to be fair, I don't think people should be making copies of DVDs to give to their friends, and they certainly shouldn't be selling them. In fact, I'm even okay with stopping "piracy" online. But, seriously, TV-Links did not "pirate" anything. If anything, that should have been the site that was hailed as the heroes of the anti-"piracy" police. Why? Because that site listed in detail exactly where "pirated" material was being hosted. In other words: TV-Links was the number one resource that could have been used to bring the "bad guys" down.

I love Google. I think Google is great (and I'm typing this blog from Blogger). But in this whole mess, Google is one (or, more accurately, two) of the "bad guys". Guess whose servers didn't get raided? Guess who didn't get thrown in jail?

Why? Because Google will win the argument because they have the money.

So who do these pesky DRM people go after? Moderately small nobodies who weren't doing anything illegal (and I hope it stays legal to link to things on the internet).

If this has you indignant and you wish there was something you can do, there is one thing worth trying: You can sign a very poorly constructed petition asking for the release of TV-Links' founder (I think he was the founder) and the reinstatement of the website. Do I think this will do anything for real? No, but it is a way of seeing how many people out there have their heads on straight (I was petition 8037).

Okay, I didn't mean to rant. And if you have a counter to any of these points, I would love to hear them. Please, let's not forget that some really dumb things are being done around us, and may we have the wisdom to choose our battles wisely and fight them well. ...but just to be safe: You'd better not link to this blog, just in case others haven't learned the lesson of McCarthyism yet.

~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor

1.25.2008

Scrapping Scripts and Audio Woes

I'm getting really close to having a "final" draft of MathTacular2 done. As I was nearing the end of one of the final activities I came across this line: Subtract the larger number from the smaller number... 6 minus 4 is 2!

I double checked the script. Yep, that's what it said (If you're confused as to what is wrong with that, don't worry, I didn't catch it until I was building the Title Card for the equation). I showed the problem to my writer/director. She looked at me and said, "That's what you get when you're rushing through pre-production. I probably wrote that in three seconds."

She's absolutely right. This was a quick scene added after it was decided to split MathTacular2 into 2&3, and was shot during MathTacular4. It's not her fault. There were three intelligent people (including me) on set who heard the actor (also an intelligent guy) read the line at least three times. Did any of us catch it? Nope.

So now what? What do you do with a line that is wrong, the actor is gone, and the project needs to be done in the next week or so?

I've heard of sound guys who can take individual sounds from words an actor says to make up new words. That would be awesome, but I can't do that. It was suggested that I merely flop the words around: Subtract the "smaller" number from the "larger". That would work, but the voice inflection is way off and sounds positively ridiculous. Besides, it doesn't match the lip motion.

This is one of those moments in Post where you can't just "fix it". So, honestly, on a Friday night, I don't know how I'm going to fix this problem. That's one of the joys of being an editor... you get to figure out how to fix the problems. It's a very creative and technical job that, if you do it right, no one will even know you did anything.

My plan, for the moment, is to bring in some audio recording equipment on Monday and try to voice match the actor myself with the proper inflection.

Here's hoping.

~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor

1.24.2008

"New" Blog Look!

I've spent the past couple of days working on making this blog look like Production-Now.com. This is important because when you followed the Blog link from Production-Now.com it felt like you were going to a new page, rather than a sub-part of Production-Now.com. Well...

No more!

After fighting the XML (of which I know nothing) and giving up on CSS (of which I know a bit), I finally hacked my way though HTML to get this blog to look right. I had to call in my friend Mike Caskey to make the new look work with IE7. Awesome!

[As an aside: If you're using Internet Explorer, allow me to suggest you switch to Firefox. It burns the competition.]

I've got other things to post about, but I'll leave this post at that.

~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor

1.23.2008

Updates: Unwanted

I've been using Google Reader now to try to stay on top of all the great blogs on media production out there. This morning I read a post from Shane's blog: QuickTime 7.4...Do Not Update. In short: Apple has done it again: Released an update for QuickTime that makes editing difficult, if not impossible.

This is hardly the first time such a thing has happened. It will hardly be the last.

Why? Because Apple likes to keep things secret until they are ready to "let it out of the bag". This means they don't tell anyone, even other developers who rely on their code, anything about what they are doing. This means that the updates hit everyone, causing everyone to reel for days and weeks while people scramble to fix the mess. In fact, a notable update once put Final Cut Pro (Apple's own software) out of commission for over three days.

Hence the adage splashed across Apple's video forums: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. In other words: Do not update your Apple software if you don't absolutely have to.

I was not hit with anything of this nature because I have not updated my edit bays for quite some time now.

But I have released the very first E-Note in my quest to help more and more people make media. I'm still trying to figure out the best way to go about this, but eventually you just have to try something. So I did. Will this be an unwanted update like Apple's? I hope not.

~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor

1.22.2008

PC MPEG Streamclip and DAZ

First, a quick update for you MathTacular fans. I had our web guy fix the broken "Buy" link which went down when the company through which we were selling MathTacular changed. (Thanks to Jason for letting me know about that issue)

We have one more scene to shoot for MathTacular4... and I'm excited about it, but we're not going to be shooting it for a while to give us time to finish up MathTacular2&3. I hope to get those to the replication house by the end of this month so I can begin to cut MathTacular4.

I'm also working through a cool tutorial for DAZ Studio. I've never been good at 3D stuff, but this is really interesting. If I ever make a cool looking character, I'll post some pictures. Right now I'm just playing with it and learning how it works. If you've ever been interested in 3D animation, check out DAZ... it's free (scroll down for the DAZ download).

And last, but not least, and the first item of this post's title: MPEG Streamclip for the PC. I've been using Streamclip in my Mac edit bay for years now, but I had never really had the opportunity to try it out on a PC because my $700 PC editing machine died after I cut a 45 minute documentary on it in college. So yesterday one of "my kids" (a mentee of mine) came by with a problem. He needed to compile a group of clips from different DVDs that people had made with them talking. Granted, it would have been better to go straight from tapes, but we did not have that option (ah, the joys of working with amateurs). So, it was time for MPEG Streamclip.

On my recommendation he had purchased a very nice Dell and the Adobe Production Bundle. However, when we installed Streamclip it didn't work. So, last night I followed the directions and removed QuickTime, installed QuickTime Alternative, and got Streamclip up and running. Now, I don't have his software, so it will take more testing to see how well this works for a PC, but the program does work, and it only takes 10 minutes (assuming you've got fast internet) to get it up and running. And I can still watch trailers online.

Sweet!

~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor

1.18.2008

Post Begins... Again

We have one more half day of filming tomorrow, but today we didn't have to shoot anything. That meant I could go in and edit a bit.

It's been a few weeks since I was actually editing anything for MathTacular, so it was a little hard on the re-entry. Even though I have everything carefully arranged and sorted, I still have to search for a little while to find what I'm looking for in the midst of over two thousand files. And I just keep adding more as we go along.

So, while we've been pushing really hard to get production done for MathTacular4, now that we're almost done filming, it's time to go back and finish up MathTacular2 and MathTacular3. It has been a long haul that began last summer with shooting MathTacular2 which was then split into two DVDs in post. This meant that while we were shooting MathTacular4 we also had to shoot a few more activities for 2&3 to make it all work.

So I spent this morning "Logging", but gone are the days when I would have to start and stop the tape to capture each bit I wanted one at a time. Nowadays I simply capture the whole tape and then cut it up into the pieces I want to keep and tell the computer to get rid of the rest. It's awesome! Tedious still, but so much better than before.

~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor

1.16.2008

Cold, Powerless, but Good

When we first stepped out of the car when we got to our location this morning a freezing gust of wind greeted me and I thought, 'Oh no! This is going to be terrible!' Even with all my snow gear, it was cold. We also learned that we didn't have power (good thing I charged the batteries before we got there). Two strikes against us.

We took a thermometer just for the fun of it:


However, by the time we got set up, the wind had stopped. That was really a very good thing because without power for my microphones I had to use the "on board" mic built into my camera (not good). Only a few times did the wind cause problems for my camera... the highway just down the hill didn't do much to improve the audio, but that will have to wait until post to see what I will need to do.

Knowing that today's shoot was going to be in adverse conditions, our actors spent four hours yesterday memorizing their lines. This meant that what typically takes us 7 or 8 hours only took two and a half because we didn't have to stop for them to go over their scripts. Awesome!

Brittany happy with our progress:


It's actually a little unnerving for me when we shoot that quickly. I feel like we are more prone to miss something because we just walked in, shot the scene, and walked out. Truthfully, however, we didn't get any less coverage than we have when we shoot a scene for 10 hours, but it just feels worse. The fact that the audio was less than ideal didn't help things either.

How did everything turn out?

I won't know until I get to that point in editing.

~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor

Into the Fray

As we wait for the team to assemble, I'm going to "scribble down" a quick post.

I didn't sleep well last night because I was worrying. It is currently 15 degrees, no snow, and windy. We are dressed like we're going to the moon and have more computing power with us than the first mission there. The nice thing is that we have a cloud cover so we won't have to worry about the lighting shifting during the hours we're on location (a flat cloud cover makes for great diffusion for the sun).

Clouds acting as diffusion on our set today:


The current hurtle is procuring a check to pay for our location. Unfortunately I was tardy in submitting the paperwork, and now we have to scramble to get one.

So, we're hoping for no snow, warmer conditions (but we're ready for the arctic), and no snow. Here's hoping!

~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor

1.14.2008

The Importance of Mirth

We shot Saturday until we came across a script problem that we couldn't fix. It has been resubmitted for correction. While it was nice to go home after only five hours on set, it means we will be shooting next Saturday as well.

Today went very well, all things considered, but it definitely felt like a Monday: Everything was sluggish. We shot until just before 5pm when we lost our light. Even though we were in my kitchen, the light from the kitchen window shifted far too drastically when the sun dropped behind the mountains. We considered blacking out the window with a trash bag, but we liked the "blown out" look of the sunlight coming through the window. This gave us a better look but limited our time. This is a trade-off whenever you are in production. These choices must often be made in moments but must not be taken lightly. I knew lighting the kitchen was going to be difficult, but I didn't expect it to be that hard.

Me thinking:


I considered posting a list of the equipment that we're using for MathTacular4 because that's the kind of thing I'm curious about. However, I'm guessing that isn't quite as interesting to others, so I'll refrain for now. (If you'd like to know, please say so and I'll be happy to post it.)

While going through the pictures we snapped on set(and I added a couple to previous posts), I came across a great one of our actors laughing. We often laugh on set, and the posted Rule #1 is "Have Ridiculous Amounts of Fun at All Times". This isn't always obeyed, but we do what we can. One director, in the BTS of one of his movies, said something to the effect of "If you're not having fun making the movie, then why do it?"

Have fun on set, or go home.


~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor

1.10.2008

The Meltdown

Shooting long hours takes its toll on people. Currently the whole team is ill or barely staving it off. We get up and start filming, got home and eat something before falling into bed and then get up and repeat it the next day. We'll even be shooting this Saturday. This kind of non-stop pressure to perform has led to things not being quite as pleasant as would be enjoyable.

Last night we had to formally admit that it would take us more than four days to shoot MathTacular4. This wasn't surprising to any of us, but it was nice to see the new schedule that wasn't as totally daunting. This reschedule required that we find a new day to shoot at our one awesome location. Thankfully they were really gracious and happy to accommodate us. That was a big load off my mind.

We were doing really well today until our steam ran out. We became aware of a problem within the script and set to work trying to figure out a way around this issue. Our small team of four came to an impasse and we stopped for the night. This illustrates the blessing and curse of working on a small crew: Everyone has the ability to offer input and ideas which can move the project forward, but if someone gets stuck in "their way or the highway", the whole system derails. This is rather reminiscent of the experience of "When It's Better to Work Alone".

Tomorrow we get to get up and begin again. Hopefully with a few more hours away from the project we will all be able to approach filming with a fresh perspective and renewed energy.

The lesson? If it ain't going well it is often a good idea to stop. Beating your head against a concrete wall does nothing but give you head trauma. It's better to keep your head and rework your schedule.

~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor

1.08.2008

Two Camera Shoot

I made a huge jump forward today: I shot with two cameras.

This is a picture of one of our sets with both cameras set up:


Sure, this is a far cry from the 26 cameras that Howard Hughes used for "Hells Angels", but it's a step in that direction. I've never used two cameras to shoot a scene before and was truly unsure as to what it would be like and if it would help or not.

Since MathTacular4 is such a huge project that we have to complete in such a limited timeframe, we were able to procure another Canon GL2 to go along with the one I already own (and love, and that has been the camera behind every educational video I've done). Now that we can shoot the same scene from two angles, we only have to go through the whole scene twice instead of four times to get the shots we want (a Wide, a Two-Shot, and a Close-Up for both actors). This hasn't made us shoot any faster, but it has cut down on how many times we have to shoot, which is great.

So our current strategy, which we figured out as we went today, is as follows:

1. Shoot the scene with one camera (Camera A) Wide so we can see the whole scene and all the action and the other camera (Camera B) on a CU (Close-Up) on one of the actors.

2. Switch so Camera A is now on a CU and Camera B is on a Two-Shot of both actors.

3. Move on to the next part of the scene instead of running through the whole script and then going back through with the second setup. This is how we were doing it initially, but it makes way more sense to do it a segment at a time. That way, if you have to stop, you just start up with the next part of the scene rather than having to try to match your settings exactly to the day before.

It's pretty awesome. However, it is hardly perfect.

Since we are using two Lapel Microphones and nothing else, I'm only getting good audio into one of the cameras. This means that I'm going to have to figure out how I want to sync the audio for editing. This could make this whole deal a nightmare on that end. However, I'm pretty sure I can figure out a good way to approach this problem, and if I can keep my brain engaged while I capture the media, I should be fine.

The other big problem is that, in attempted to keep the two video files fairly in sync, I have to start and stop the cameras at almost exactly the same time. This is a level of stress that I would rather not deal with, but I'm not shooting on cameras that are expensive enough to allow for timecode syncing through Genlock.

Hopefully this additional camera will make the final product not only executable but also increase the overall quality of the video. Only time will tell, but it was a very exciting (albeit long) first day of multicam shooting.

~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor

1.03.2008

Insurance Costs

I was shocked. Literally.

For an upcoming MathTacular4 shoot day I needed to get insurance that would name Bandimere Speedway "Additionally Insured" for a million bucks. This isn't a big deal if you already have insurance coverage from a company. However, I only had personal insurance (typically stuff like house and car) which wouldn't work for business equipment and other locations. So I had to call up my insurance guy.

After doing some research (he doesn't have many filmmakers among his clientele) it turns out that I can get a year's worth of insurance (the million in liability and a little bit for my stuff) for only $301. What's more, $300 is the minimum price of business insurance, so I'm maximizing my return. How cool is that?

If you don't know, it's pretty cool.


So how is the rest of MathTacular filming going? Today was quite successful because we were done by lunch (a late lunch, but lunch). This means we have only two more activities to shoot before next week when we go back into MathTacular4.

There's also some really cool news about that coming up, but I'll save that for a more opportune time.

You'll just have to check back to find out.

~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor

1.01.2008

Batteries and Planes

This is the blog for media related posting, so I will try to refrain from getting on a soapbox. I reserve my other blog for that. But, seriously, the following new rule from the FAA deserves at least some comment:

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Effective January 1, 2008, the following rules apply to the spare lithium batteries you carry with you in case the battery in a device runs low:

  • Spare batteries are the batteries you carry separately from the devices they power. When batteries are installed in a device, they are not considered spare batteries.
  • You may not pack a spare lithium battery in your checked baggage
  • You may bring spare lithium batteries with you in carry-on baggage
  • Even though we recommend carrying your devices with you in carry-on baggage as well, if you must bring one in checked baggage, you may check it with the batteries installed.

  • -------

    The FAA also recommends that you "ensure that devices remain switched off, either by built-in switch/trigger locks, by taping the activation switch in the 'off' postion [sic], or by other appropriate measures."

    First, we are starting 2008 off to a such a start that we get a new word and a new restriction from the government. Typos I can understand, but misspellings? Even when I pasted that into my blog it got underlined. And if the government can't afford Word [cough], they could at least use Open Office or Google Docs to spell check.

    Second, this is going to have some major implications for anyone traveling with technology (computers, cameras, camcorders, and even .mp3 players). My little brother has one of those cool "extended life" battery packs for his computer. I don't know if he brought it home with him for Christmas, but it will be confiscated by TSA if he tries to take it back to school. 25 grams isn't much.

    Third, I tend to be concerned enough with my video equipment as it is, but now I have to consider what batteries I have where? Shoots that require travel are becoming less and less viable. This is one more detail that must be taken into account by any Producer now that it is 2008 (Happy New Year, by the by).

    Forth, I am always amazed at how life is interconnected. The rules for checking baggage onto a plane could affect your ability to make a movie. Sure, space limitations and cost have always made it hard to travel with equipment (not to mention customs if you're going out of the country), but now batteries. I didn't see it coming.

    So now your toothpaste and water bottle won't be home alone while you travel, I just hope you don't need an extra battery for your projects.

    ~Luke Holzmann
    Your Media Production Mentor