Monday, September 01, 2014

Vote for Comment of the Week

Voting closes Friday noonish...

Student #1 has left a new comment on your post " Here's What Sin City Looks Like Before They Add A...":

I'm always torn when it comes to movies that are shot mostly in green screen and are essentially made from bits and pieces in post production. On one hand, I think that it does take away from all the traditional film jobs that aren’t needed in this process. Most of the art department, stunts, “real” special effects, etc… see their roles get seriously diminished or even completely disappear. I imagine that it’s less rewarding for the actors to portray their character in the nebulous world of green screen.

On the other hand, it allows for a whole other set of artists and technicians to make the movie in another way. While some film professions are on their way to being considered antiquated and quirky, many other jobs are being created and there is a whole VFX industry that is now able to flourish and grow. I guess it really depends on how one feels about that, and which aesthetic they prefer onscreen. I think that both have merits and that we’re at a really great place in film right now where many movies are using entirely new techniques, while others are making a conscious effort to uphold traditions and do it the old-school way. The green screen approach is definitely appropriate for “Sin City” because the whole concept is that it looks like a comic book, something that is harder to achieve without extensive work in post.

In the end I think there is one thing to keep in mind. This is how movies are made. Piece by piece, shot by shot, in no particular order other than the one that is the most convenient. Often, what happens during filming looks very different from the final product. I spent a month as a PA on a film set this summer, and I honestly had no idea what the movie was actually about until I read the script a couple weeks in. Making movies is weird, disconnected, and post production is a very important part of the process. As such, it’s not that strange to see that phase becoming more and more dominant in certain movies. While I personally really appreciate seeing movies where the original footage is basically the final product, CGI has its merits and uses.
Student #2 has left a new comment on your post "Aurora Theater Should Have Predicted Mass Shooting...":
It's hard to imagine the grief that survivors of the victims of a tragedy like Aurora must feel. It is likewise difficult to imagine the audacity of the lawyers who would work to convince those survivors that a specious lawsuit and a bunch of money will make any of it better. This is clearly a case of the litigious streak in our society going after the entity on this grim scene with the most money. The worst thing this judge's ruling does is give the families involved hope that relief from their pain may be forthcoming, because it isn't, even if they were to win.

The argument that we should all conduct our lives and businesses as though the worst case scenario is inevitable, and be held accountable when the most unlikely events occur, is, as MS. Skenazy correctly points out, "not rational." It's the same reactionary argument that the 2nd Amendment lobby tries to make in support of everyone carrying guns all the time. The thing is, the more you think you need a gun, or armed guards at movie theaters, the more likely an event will occur when it seems like you need them. When armed guards are strutting down the aisle to shush unruly teenagers instead of zit-faced, butter-bespattered ushers, we are creating a power imbalance that will eventually lead to a tragedy. We know this, or at least we should by now. Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Michael Brown. And these are just the shootings that have caught the media's attention. Gun violence in this country is rampant, on both sides of the law. More guns, especially wielded by mall cops, is not the answer.

As for the movie theatre and its responsibility to plan for every disaster, that's what we do to an exhaustive measure every time we build a public space in this day and age. Effective planning for a mass shooting, as awful as it may sound, should be no different than planning for a fire. Get people out as quickly and in as many different directions as we can to minimize exposure. Hey, and while we're at it, why not try to make guns at least as difficult to obtain as a driver's license.
Student #3 has left a new comment on your post "Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre offers up eclectic ...":
How encouraging to read about a theater actively supporting the needs of its community. Especially in a city like Pittsburgh that experiences artistic "brain drain," as young people pour into the city to study the arts and then leave for bigger cities, PPT's commitment to cultivating local playwrights could help make Pittsburgh a more attractive place to establish a theater career. Furthermore, PPT's support of Pittsburgh playwrights becomes particularly vital in a national theater climate that favors New York- or LA-based artists. These productions can help Pittsburgh playwrights earn credits and experience that they might have trouble finding in other regional theaters and cities.
I'm so curious about the eventual demographic makeup of the One-Act Festival's playwrights. If the festival were only open to minority playwrights, the playing field would be relatively equal in terms of which playwrights deserve an opportunity to be produced. By allowing white playwrights to submit work to the festival as well, PPT may face some resentment if they ultimately produce (a) white playwright(s). White writers already are more widely-produced in American theater than minority playwrights, often for various socio-economic reasons within the structure of our industry, rather than outright racism (which would take much more than a short Internet comment to articulate). At the same time, the inclusion of white writers is vital to their philosophy of bridging divides between all ethnic groups through the festival. Will audiences and fellow artists accept a diverse festival of writers when "diverse" includes white writers, who could be seen as taking opportunities away from minority writers?
Student #4 has left a new comment on your post "Fab10 – What If The Future We Want Is Built by Us,...":
I have to say that my favorite part of this article is the part about kids. Looking at the world like a kid opens up many different possibilities. I miss that ignorant phase where all the wonders of the world were mysteries and we could go on for hours describing these crazy contraptions. I remember going on about all the features of a "Fire Car" (kind of like a spaceship and the bat-mobile in one). It was totally made up but I went into so much detail that I started to believe it existed! Where I'm going with this is that as we get older and we learn about how things work and what things really are and our imaginations begins to shrink. I don't know about others, but I worry a lot that I'm forcing my imagination to DO SOMETHING and it's because I know things. There is a famous composer in South Korea (I don't remember his name) and he's known to be one of the best composers in South Korea. He was asked what makes him such an amazing composer and he answered "I don't listen to music". Alexander McQueen said that he never looked up to other designers to inspire him. They looked at their passion with a child's mind and they created art. So yes, I think if we use our child-like imaginations, the future would be made up of our true desires rather than the ones that we learn are socially acceptable for everyone.

I hope I didn't go off on too much of a tangent... I can go on forever about this because it's something that my friend and I love discussing!

I also like that their getting kids involved! (GET THEM WHILE THEIR YOUNG! Just kidding... but seriously, fascinate them when their young and the future is forever in their hands!)
Student #5 has left a new comment on your post "I understood gender discrimination once I added “M...":
I wish I could say this was eye-opening, but sadly I am not even surprised by this article. Discrimination in the work place is very real, be it against women or minorities. While I myself haven’t applied to enough jobs to have noticed any discrimination against me because of my gender, it has come up in circumstances other than job searches and never fails to anger and bewilder me. Whenever I think about the future, the ways in which our society and the entire world are going to keep evolving, I can’t fathom us going toward a positive course when so many people are still made out to be inferior because of their gender, ethnicity, origin, beliefs, etc…

I believe that it is so important for the performing arts industry, be it film, theater or other art forms, to use their extraordinary potential to reach out to people in a conscious, positive way. It is important to create plays, make movies, write books that not only include people from all walks of life but also tell stories where we see those people in roles or situations that are unusual, unconventional, unexpected. And having a token stay-at-home dad or successful business woman just isn’t enough. Little girls who want to be engineers can’t be a TV show’s claim to diversity anymore; they need to be characters of their own rather than quota requirements. I realize that we have come a long way in means of acceptance of diversity, but current events and continuing issus prove that there is an even longer way to go.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Worth a Look

Here are a few posts from last week's Greenpage that might be worth your time:

Aurora Theater Should Have Predicted Mass Shooting, Judge Rules

Hit & Run : Reason.com: The 2012 mass shooting in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, was "foreseeable," a federal judge ruled last week. That decision came out of an attempt by the theater's owner to demonstrate otherwise, thus ensuring that lawsuits brought forth by the attacker's victims would be dismissed.


North Carolina Film-TV Incentives Sliced Amid Conservative Tide

Variety: North Carolina legislators have ditched the state’s longtime film and TV incentives program amid a conservative push to cut back on such government support. “We knew that this would be an uphill battle and we were cautiously optimistic,” said Johnny Griffin, director of the Wilmington (N.C) Regional Film Commission. “The problem was that a lot of legislators were philosophically opposed to any incentives, period. So we were absolutely not surprised.” North Carolina has been home to 800 productions over the past three decades.


Rock 'n' Roll's Company Town

WSJ: This town of 9,400 people in Amish country tells the story of the modern concert industry. In 1968, when Frankie Valli and his group rolled in for a show, two young brothers who did sound for local dances turned the Four Seasons into one of the first music acts to tour with its own speaker system. The brothers built a reputation on the road, but they never moved out of Lititz. Their company became an anchor for a cluster of businesses that now supply the sound and spectacle for many of the world's biggest acts.


California Incentives Bill Urges Tariffs to Curb Poaching of VFX Jobs

Variety: An amendment to proposed legislation to expand California’s film and TV tax credit urges trade action as a response to countries that have lured visual effects firms away with the promise of generous subsidies. The amendment calls call for a strategy that has been previously opposed by Hollywood studios, which have benefited from the availability of post-production subsidies in Canada, Great Britain and other countries. In late May, for instance, Sony announced that its Imageworks special effects facility would be moving to Vancouver, further eroding the once-thriving visual effects industry in Southern California.


Metropolitan Opera Reaches Settlement With Last Unions

NYTimes.com: The Metropolitan Opera announced Thursday night that it had reached labor settlements with the last of its unions, including those representing its costume and wardrobe departments, hair and makeup artists, scenic artists and designers, camera operators and others.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Boom! It's a Deck

Like a watched pot it seems like all the guys needed to motivate them to finish our deck was for me to stop posting about it on the blog.  Poof:


It was raining this afternoon or I would have taken more photos.  I haven't done a final walk around either, but seeing as how at the end of the day yesterday I had MANY craftsmanship complaints today I appear to be much more satisfied.

So it is huge, and it is high up in front - almost like having a balcony.  It really changes the look of the house from the street.  I think it changes it for the better; a real estate agent might use the word "specific."

We're going to have to rethink the lighting on the front of the house now.  The prior owners left us with this industrial security lamp that lights up the porch, the driveway, and some of the street with a distinct orange/yellow glow.  So that's gotta go.  We're also going to be in the market for some deck furniture I think, although I am having trouble wrapping my head around leaving things out in the front of the house.

I'll have to get over that probably.

So... Most of My Resume is Pointless

The fall semester brings with it the PTM Professional Practice class and the jumping off point for that class is a professional resume.  I like to think I know what I am talking about.  I have 20 years of revisions on my own resume with advice from a good stock of mentors.  I must see a dozen resume articles per week doing the Greenpage.  The last revision I made to the resume section of the class was to start the students into Infographic Resumes.  I've been toying with the idea of video resumes.  But really what I want to do is come up with something interesting on traditional resumes.  Today I think I came up with something.

If you search the tubes for articles on how long recruiters spend on each resume you may discover that (when it is a living breathing person at all) the total time before decision could be as little as 6 seconds.

Based on that I thought I would do an experiment.  I printed up 10 copies of my most recent resume (2012, oops) and set off around the halls of Purnell.  I recruited 10 people to give me 10 seconds each.  I decided I wouldn't use 6 seconds because when I piloted it in my office I only saw one entry in 6 seconds.  I gave each person a short set of instructions - I wanted to make sure that they knew it wasn't supposed to be a speed reading test - the resume and a highlighter.

Then I counted to 10 while they marked up what jumped off the page.

After I had all ten marked up pages I went back to my office and converted the stack into a composite heat map.  Here's what I found:

It's a small sample size, but I think it is representative.  Given a very short exposure time almost nothing on the page turns out to be significant.

It does make sense that since people read top to bottom and left to right that the things called out by the most people are the things on the left margin and toward the top of the page.  I have a separate markup showing the things I most wanted people to see and it turns out that most of those things are items identified by the trial.  But there were 3 or 4 things I valued as very important in those black blobs in the bottom half of the page.  So I guess in the next revision I need to find a way to move those things up and left.

Two other fairly interesting take aways:

1. People don't read too far into blocks of prose.  In the top section of the page it seems clear that once someone sees what the gig is they move on to the next gig rather than read the details.  This is obviously a speed reading thing, but if the "fit/no fit" decision is made at that speed it would be worth thinning out those blocks and making for damn sure the highlight is at the beginning of the block.

2. The readers appeared to see the headings of the lower sections but not the contents.  In terms of job seeking, the headers are useless.  It's the content under the header that matters.  So a rule of thumb for composition would seem to be that what goes against the margin ought to be content rather than organizational text.

With this under my belt I think I have a new assignment.  Tomorrow we're going to do a round robin of mark ups in class and then I'll have each student tabulate their personal heat map.  Then I am going to have them match the results against what they were trying to get across.

I'll let you know if it works out!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Exercise in Futility

So it's the day before classes start for the fall and that means what?  Regular readers will know.

So, yes, the copier was apoplectic.  Truth be told it might have been salvageable, but I didn't have it in me (it would have required at least one power-up cycle optimistically and that cycle is like 20 minutes).  Tomorrow I have one class and of course I need copies of the syllabus.

The syllabus is 8 pages and there are 10 people in class, so running it out of a printer isn't monumentally wasteful but I decided that if I am going to run them that way I ought to at least try to print them double sided - even if that means I have to staple them myself.

The laser-writer doesn't have a duplexer, but the driver has a "manual" mode for double sided printing.  Basically it runs half the pages and then you reload the pages and it prints the backs.

How hard can it be?

On the first attempt the printer mixed my job with another print job.  It is possible a third party was involved in this screwup.  40 pages in the recycling.

Second attempt the printer didn't stop for me to reload and ran 40 fronts and then maybe 20 backs before I saw the SNAFU and cancelled.  So here I learn that for this to work, for some reason Tray 2 has to be empty to force the pause.  60 pages in the recycling.

Third attempt I get the 40 fronts and the pause.  I reload into the previously emptied Tray 2 in the configuration shown in the instructions and... I get 10 backs printed on the fronts.  Fair enough, even though the instructions say print side up, the print side goes down.  40 pages in the recycling.

BTW, did you catch the wrinkle there?  If I have to turn the pack over it also reverses the page order.  But the printer doesn't want the order reversed, just the position.  So during the pause before reloading I have to re-stack the whole packet by hand.  Not quite as bad as having to collate, but certainly not user friendly.

Attempt four, I think I've got it: 40 fronts, pause, re-stack, reload, 40 backs on the back!

Upside down.

:-(  40 sheets in the recycling.

Attempt five: 40 fronts and 40 backs.  Off to my office to staple.

Final score:

10 syllabi, 8 pages, one side per page: potentially 80 sheets.
10 syllabi, 8 pages, two sides per page: actually 220 sheets.

So much for saving some resources; and let's not even talk about the toner.  At least I'll know for next time.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Deck Day Three Ellipses...

Today it rained so the guys didn't show.  I hope it doesn't keep raining...  Syllabi done for two of three classes, well four classes really.  Still that's down from last year's seven classes...  Really heartbroken over the coverage from Ferguson.  I wonder what will happen when they decide not to charge the cop?  I hope we don't find out...  Beginning to think of AC as being more about humidity than temperature...  I see we're back to killing Americans in Iraq.  So much for "treated like liberators"...  I tried to get work done for school today, I really did...  It's amazing to me how much of a Yinzer I've become.  These first Steeler games don't seem like they're early in the year at all...  Cannot get my iCloud photos to sync up on my laptop.  I sense a conspiracy to get me to buy a Mac.  Or I would if they weren't syncing fine to my office PC...  Had dinner in the Strip tonight.  Feels so trendy.  Of course trendy now would probably be Lawrenceville or Downtown...  With several days of thinking in I still can't come up with a good assignment based on a semester's blog comments.  Everything I come up with is either something I won't care about or something they won't care about...  Feels strange to have not been tagged for the whole Ice Bucket thing.  Warm & dry, but strange.  Guess there's nothing stopping a donation anyway...  Fed the baby mashed green beans today.  He now has a more diverse diet than I do...  Mulling over an iPhone upgrade at the next release.  Not that I'm unhappy with my current phone, but it keeps telling me it's full...  If you've wondered, I've concluded that having Amazon Prime does make you buy more stuff.  Jury is still out on whether it actually costs more money...  Fairly certain I've broken my toe.  Fairly certain there's nothing to be done about it...

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Deck Day Two

Another bizarre geometry from the panorama photo.  Check out what it does to the car driving by:


Good progress today.  Looks like the thing is mostly framed in.  They found the ugly spot they made with the change they inadvertently made yesterday.  I think one of the carps came up with a reasonable solution.  The solution will mean a change to the railings that I think they aren't anticipating, so again it will be wait and see.

I think I found another ugly spot today.  We were talking about the joint between the fascia and the ground.  I think we came to an ok conclusion there, but when I looked at it again tonight I discovered that the front carrying beam and the fascia are going to do something weird.  I think the beam will have to carry out past the end of the front fascia in order to pick up the end joist.  It'll happen on both ends.  Not sure I like it, not sure there's anything to be done really (also, a little bit I think both of the side fascias are a little odd).

But this isn't their first rodeo.  Maybe they'll surprise me.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Deck the Yard

Mrs. TANBI and I have decided that we're adding a deck to the front of our house.  Maybe it's not a deck, maybe it's a porch.  But it feels more like a deck.  When we started the project we thought it was going to happen mid-July but it turned out that it would have to be mid-August.  That was supposed to be late last week, but it turned out to be today.

So here's day one:



Footings and support beams.  That near beam is not bent like that - we're seeing a panorama artifact.  Mostly it looks like good work so far.  They guys do appear to have made a design change.  The top of the deck was supposed to be one step down from the stoop and they appear to have roughed it in flush.  Strangely that was a change we were planning to give them anyway, so no harm done.  There are two potential ugly spots that domino out from that change.  We'll have to see how it develops.

I thought about doing Baby TANBI's footprints in the footing as it set, but the concrete is buried in soil.  Oh well.

So now the next question is "Will they be back tomorrow?"  Makes me wonder about writing a "Contractor Customer Protection Agreement" for future projects.  Item #1:  If I'm not going to show I will call to let you know ahead of time.

Watch this space.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Over the Line

I may have crossed a line of sorts last night.

Having a baby gives you the opportunity to get back to singing - if you were a singer and now are not.  Conventional wisdom is that babies are soothed by their parents singing to them.  I'll buy that I guess, although I would also imagine there's some quality and content issues involved behind the baseline of just hearing your parent's voice.

One of the first things I discovered here, or rather confirmed what I have always suspected (and what is frequently a pop-culture joke): I don't really know the words to that many songs.

Actually this is a little bothersome because I think the real statement is that I don't know the words to that many songs out of context.  Put me in the car with the radio on an 80's or Classic Rock station and I'll be fine.  In context, with the music, I remember a staggering amount of content.  So much so that from time to time I have wondered if there wasn't something better to use those engrams for (triple integrals comes to mind).

But it's all different sitting in that glider in semi-darkness holding the baby.  Suddenly the repertory shrinks substantively.

One of my first tries was "You Can Sleep While I Drive."  But the words weren't there.  That's too bad because I really like that tune and I think it has real potential as a lullaby.  #manfanfail

Sometimes what I do remember is even more interesting than what I can't remember.  Off the top of my head I can do passable versions of "This Train" and "Make Room for Marty" from a Limelighters LP my dad gave me when I must have been just old enough to work a record player.  The album "Through Children's Eyes" was one of my favorites, I don't really know why.  I have mp3s of all the tracks now.  I went back to try to find the words to "Lollipop Tree" a little while ago.  The last track on that album is "This Land is Your Land."  I could not believe the amount of lyrics I had completely spaced from that song.

Although its not like Baby TANBI will notice.  For a while anyway.

I can do a word and melody perfect "William's Doll" from Free to Be You and Me.  I must have done hundreds of runs through that song with the Traveling Troupe.  In this case not only can I remember the words and the tune, but I can also hear people I used to sing with in my head.  I also remember the title track and "Brothers & Sisters."  I can't remember the tune for "It's Alright to Cry" and there's some disagreement in my head about the lyrics to "When I grow Up."  Part of me wonders if those lyrics were changed somewhere along the way - or maybe if my mom made some kind of artistic executive decision all those years ago.

Anyway, the line.  Out of what I can only assume was a desperate attempt to find lyrical content appropriate to my goal of calming a truly spastic child, last night I found myself recalling word for word and note for note "Comfortably Numb" from The Wall.  There are two problems here.  First, I really wonder about the content appropriateness.  There's a lot of hard living behind the story of that song.  Probably a good thing Leo has no English (that I know of).  On further recollection, perhaps The Eagles "Take It Easy" would have been more appropriate.  I might have all of that in RAM somewhere.

The other problem with "Comfortably Numb?"  The last third is a wicked guitar solo which I cannot in any way reproduce.