July 14th, 2007

Wired writes a little about Nigeria’s film industry. It is nice that technological advances allow for local movie production to flourish. Might be also a little bit of wishful thinking on Wired’s side: Nigeria has allot of sketchy aspects in it’s economy. 419ers aside the country makes around fourty billion a year in oil revenue, but manages to keep most of that money away from it’s 150 million inhabitants.
Compared to those oil revenues the 250 million film industry dwarfs in size.

maxtor sucks?

July 13th, 2007

“Storage Mojo” is usually pretty scientific, this ‘analysis’ about consumer hard drives is a bit more creative. Counting google hits with BRANDNAME sucks is a bit of a short cut. However, the results seem to come up with a winner. And the margins are definite enough to have some meaning. And with this kind of result I like a creative way of using google.


July 12th, 2007

It might have a weird looking name, but otherwise I like lsscsi

It gives you a good idea about the state of your linux scsi devices.

acco air conditioning in Los Angeles

July 10th, 2007

When you are planning on doing a buildout in Los Angeles, do not use Acco. They suck beyond believe. There are not many things you can do wrong with AC. One of them confusing in and out on a system. Certainly that’s what happened at a quarter million dollar job.

fxguide about transformers

July 10th, 2007

fxguide interviews Michael Bay

I hope for selfish reasons that many people will
digg it
: I have an ad on fxguide right now.

and I don’t even own their stock!

June 25th, 2007

the mac’s I had

the original

The SE was great. 2,500 Deutsche Mark, even after buying it via a student friend of mine, was allot of money. But it was a computer that you could buy books about. It was actually documented. That I had only seen like this for a Sun.

The LC and Newton I bought in an impulse. I lived 400 Meters from a Mac dealer back in the day. Which there were like 5 or so in the whole god damn country. Played a little bit of Myst on it. Started to develop for the Newton. But it was so odd and different from any API I cared about that I declared it a waste or time. And money I might add.

Power Macintosh I got a work. Slow like hell.

Powerbook Titanium I got at work as well. My boss brought it in one day. And I was very very very happy. Then, after the while, the hinge just snapped off. Apple pretended that that would never happen. Machine got hot, but was nice otherwise. Miss it.

iBook I got for my wife. Old CPU rev, real cheap. Worked great. I think she made the mistake of opening and
closing it though: the backlight display failed

iPod 1st Gen. Failed by now. Was ok though.

PowerBook Al 12″. Nice. But hot.
PowerBook Al 15″. Smoothest Mac I owned. Had to leave it when I left that job. Which was a shame.

iPod 3rd Gen: Broken. Those 4 buttons in the row are such a bad idea!

iBook G4. Mac I bought in 1995 working on my own in the US again. (I had in Germany before 1997). Nice machine. Real nice. Would still use it, would it’s keyboard not have failed.

iPod Shuffle: refurb, started to listen to podcasts on that one. Not ideal.
iPod Nano: Nice. Refurb, which made it an awesome deal. Left the connection cable in Germany last week though. So I will probably pay alsmost as much for that then I paid for the nice.

MacBook Pro: Tis ok. First Gen. Get’s hot like hell. Disabled spotlight and it helped somewhat.
MacBook: For the wife. Unusable with 512MB or memory. With 1.5GB I have not have heard any complaints. About the computer. (joke that is not true, but was unavoidable in a way)

iPod Hifi: emberrassing. Only used it one day, scaring kids with it during Halloween. Expensive for what it is. Can not even find a tuner for it, which would make it a decent looking kitchen radio. Seing it in the store the other day I was shocked how much I had paid for it.

NTX: First laser I owned. And loved. Got it as part of payment in a job back in the day. Still runs and makes ozone. Is entirely yellow by now.

How odd that I can recount my life by Apple products I used / owned.

Will I buy an iPhone? Certainly not. I am looking forward to it’s release. So that I go publish with the Interdubs-iPhone features, and since Razr prices will go down. It’s an ok phone, that works and that I am used to. If I want more I use a computer. There is no room for an intbetween. I never used a PDA or Blackberry. And UMPCs still make me laugh.

My life in Apple. How weird.

vfx coder par excellence

June 24th, 2007

Andrew Bell has made a website with a couple of in depth how-it-has-dones on projects of his. Very nice.


June 14th, 2007

This brief intro to zfs I had linked to in the last entry already. As it turns out, I was a bit naive in thinking that Apple would just implement zfs in leopard. If I understand this clarification correctly then ZFS will be READ ONLY in Leopard. Which makes it pointless for all real life uses I had in mind. Or that most people ever would have had in mind. Why bother? Apple is an odd company, certainly not one that behaves logical in some areas of it’s efforts. Sometimes it just behaves like a spoiled Trust-a-fari. Who needs reason if the iPod sales just keep the ATM filled up for you?

In the meantime Sun’s Jonathan Schwartz invites Linus Torwalds to dinner in response to his post about Sun.

What I do like about this story is how much of it happens in the open for everybody to see. In a more upbeat perspective there seems to be one big global “Forum Romanum” these days.

Photoshop and the Knoll Brothers

June 9th, 2007

A brief story about the beginnings of Photoshop. Interesting, I had no idea that Pixar made computers. Which is a bit embarrassing, considering what I do for a living. Well, now I know.


May 13th, 2007

Just finished one phase of a bigger network job. The client probably did spend more money on engineering time than on what those ten network switches would cost. Yet, it was worth it. The guy I was working for is probably one of the most gifted engineers I have ever met. That of course was 90% of the reason of the success of the project. In the end we were able to get a gigE backbone in place, where there was none before. Despite the fact that the hardware existed, connections simply were done in such ways, that there were a couple of gigE islands (many as small as one switch) inside some very convoluted hundred base T soup. Valueable lessons I have learned:

- working with good people makes everything fun. Crawling up on racks @ 3am in the morning is perfectly OK under those circumstances, since the job will be finished

- the mess that accumulates over time in network topologies is huge. And damaging. Network switches are actually very brave in dealing with circular routes and all kind of crazy and unintended ways to connect things.

- snmp can be a great tool. It’s worth getting managed switches just for that. Apple’s Airport Base Stations require -of course- some extra care and work. All other network gear I used behaves very much alike. No matter which vendor. Of course Apple thinks they need to ‘think different’ even when they shouldn’t.

- Dell uses cross over serial, while Linksys uses straight ones. Xon/Xoff in Zterm on Mac does not work as advertised. Linksys latest srw2024 firmware will break the switch. It simple will no longer boot. (see comments) Linksys support is trying to help but is in general a clueless waste of time. Managed Linksys switches like the srw2048 or srw2024 I can not recommend.

- Hardware cost is in no relationship to the cost of configuring things. There are ample parameters to configure and tune your network. I doubt that the knowledge how to do this widely exists. I understand maybe 5% of what a 600 US$ managed switch can do and how it really works. Applying what happens with network to cars would mean that people drive around without tires. On their rims. It’s loud. Traction is lousy. So they buy a Ferrari (without tires) since the Porsche did not do so well (since it missed tires) and the rims were grinded down. And, yes, with a Toyota and some rubber around your RIMs you can be the fastest kid in town.

- crawling around racks I realized how much wire their used to be for Video and Audio. And just a couple of Cat5e cables can replace so much of it. What a concept that you need a different piece of copper depending on what kind of content would flow over it! Sure, realtime and all. But at what cost? Converter boxes, routers, distribution amplifier, patch panels, spliters. And then you are locked into, let’s say NTSC. It’s ridicolous, and much of it will go away. Writing a telegram was a great way to communicate. Once upon a time.

With managed switches, snmp and the dns database we had before we can now find the port / switch for every machine in the building. There are ample uses and applications for this. Looking at network traffic. Finding uptime. Hell, one could even track peoples work hours by that. Or at least give them access to it, so they can use their MAC address’ existence in the network as evidence for them being at work.

this is nice

May 7th, 2007

of course, it has 4 million views, so chances are you saw it already:

I miss BlogsNow. I used to see this kind of thing when it had 4,000 not 4 million views. It’s nice either way.

And I can reply with ‘thank’s that’s cool’ to emails that send me nice things, instead of having to say “knew that one” over and over again.


May 7th, 2007

So, you would think that calling something testDontShare would be kind of a strong hint what not to do with it. And of course, since I am typing this here, that’s exactly what happened. Funny, since I caught it before it really got shared. But should be a lesson for me: there will always be a bigger idiot. Always design things so that even the President of the USA could use it. I know, it’s hard. But that’s how foolproof things need to be.

Nigel Dick about Music Videos

April 28th, 2007

Nigel Dick wrote in 2004 about Music Videos. It’s an interesting read. He does write in the present tense. Although it feels very much that he describes the scene of the 80s and 90s.

hd tv on the cheap

April 28th, 2007

I don’t watch TV. Don’t have a set. Scott had pointed me to the ‘eyeTV hybrid’ USB adapter from Elgato. Finally I got around to get one for around 150 US$. Recently I also had extended the screen real estate of the MacBook Pro via an Acer AL2216W. Not an amazing monitory, but 1680×1050 for 250 US$ is a great value. So for 400 US$ and change I have now the ability to watch TV. HD or SD, analog or digital.Which is not bad at all. In this configuration NTSC resolution commercials fall on their nose inside of a HD broadcast: I am watching Red Sox vs. Yankees in 720p right now. I will never understand Baseball. But the picture looks great. An alternative would be some icehockey game in 1080i. Which does not fit the screen. And with interlacing that is kind of a problem. I don’t understand how anybody could consider an interlaced format: It was made for Glas Tubes, and glas tubes for TV are on their way out. And especially for HD there haven’t been many around in consumers homes. There are ways to deinterlace etc, but that’s a hack. Any hack will degrade the image. More or less.

where the money goes

April 17th, 2007

The LA Time has a simple yet interesting breakdown of the costs and revnues of Sahara. I must have lived under a rock when it came out, since I had not heard of it. Sounds like I didn’t miss much.
Looking at those number I wonder how ‘revolutionary’ the Red camera actually is. Or rather isn’t. The Jackson scoop is of course yet another move of brilliant PR. And the tech world would definitely less interesting without the red-bubble-cam-project.

Apple NAB 2007 Final Cut Server, Final Cut Studio2, Color

April 15th, 2007

Mike Curtis did a great job in writing a point by point list of todays announcement

Here my comments to these Announcements from Apple:
It is nice that all that has been shown is actual product. I am sure that Discreet will tease us this afternoon with ‘technology demos’ that actually look exciting. But their track record of making products out these bits is mixed, to say the least.

Apple did go close to the line -if not over it- in a couple of ways themselves: The new multi resolution / multi frame rate timeline in FCP is amazing. Nothing short of that. It needs computing and gfx power. It would have been nice to mention how much of it you actually use.

The Soundtrack pro demo used Zodiac footage. Which is nice. What was not nice was that they converted the footage all wrong. I never saw the pictures of that movie being that ugly. It’s a soundtrack, not a color or fcp demo, but still. Apple can not use their own tools it seems.

Motion 3 looks amazing. It has tracking and a 3D environment. Bullet point featurewise Final Cut Studio2 is up to par with Flame in the year 2000 it seems. Not bad. Motion did always demo extremely sexy, but it’s uptake in the real world has been limited. Maybe Motion 3 can change that. Apple did a typical Apple by claiming that they now have solved 3D tracking and made it easy to use and just work. That remains to be seen. The demo track was actually kind of pointless. Some Text hovering around in space, nicely far way from the object to be tracked. This would have been a good day for Apple with the real product they had to show for, I do not understand why they had to exaggerate certain things so needlessly.

The quality of the content usedof the demos was actually, well, dismal. On Zodiac they did the dpx conversions wrong, and the other material was really really bad.

I think that Apple should detach their applications from the content section. Have one DVD for all applications!
Then if people like to have demo presets, footage etc, they can
go into the ‘content manager’ (I dreamt that up, it does not exist). Ideally this one would be able to load and manage all those sound loops (god! they even were proud of those free 150 tracks that you get with Soundtrack Pro) Motion Presets (those are as hiddeous as you average default gif collection on the web) etc etc. Either from 27 Data DVDs that apple can provide or that people can / will copy. Or content from a website. Were people can share their loops, clips, fx you name it.

The upside would be that the application install would go fast (like it does for shake) and would not put all that bloat on the disk. And the people that like to have these collections they
can get even more by subscribing to those for instance. Everybody would be much happier.

Compressor 3 looks interesting. It can do lots of nice things by now. Final Cut Server is a product where there is huge need.
Now you would think that they interact with each other. Actually
Compressor3 should be just a function of the media management tool. You would think. Well, apple thinks differently right now. The Compressor3 demo did not mention Final Cut Server3 once. Apple might need to do a bit more integration there. I am not holding my breath in term of “Server”. But then again the Red camera might as well exist tomorrow, and a year ago I said that there would be no way that it would.


April 12th, 2007

variety on actors on digital, not film not that much substance in that article.

More interesting was Robert Rodriquez on Elvis Mitchell’s KCRW show “The Treatment”.

One of the podcasts that I follow. Others are:

NPR: Movies
The VFX Show
Avid Podcast
KCRW The Business
KCRW Film Reviews

Sometimes I can’t even spend enough time in the car. :-)

fanta in 30 seconds

March 3rd, 2007

Many spots feel long and lost @ 30 seconds. this one does not

zodiac articles

February 18th, 2007

about the Camera
Local news in Napa Valley
the NY Times

Saw it today in it’s final form. Well, as a 35mm print. Which was kind of sad. On a projector that has serious focus problems. I liked it. It will be interesting how the general public will react. It is certainly not what people expect when they mention “Fincher” and “Serial Killer” in one breath.

zodiac screening

February 15th, 2007

There will be 2 screenings of ‘Zodiac’ on 2/18 in Los Angeles. The movie opens on March 2nd.
The flyer from Camera House who organizes the screening since they provided the camera and capture system. You will have to rsvp I believe. Angus, Wyatt and myself will be part of the panel discussion at 4pm.

good review

February 12th, 2007

good review for Zodiac

The posters are all over LA. It is kind of weird, not having a credit. But I had enough time to get over that. More important is that it did work: All frames ended up where they should be. Which makes me very happy.

faster than you think

January 26th, 2007

I just looked at the download speeds of interdubs and am surprised, and then again, not surprised how many people have fast connections these days. And how many actually have really really fast connection. It looks that fios is a big hit for the people that use interdubs from the client side. And a couple of bigger companies have indeed pipes that are as wide as you would think they are. It must be an interesting experience to use the internet with 45Mbit: Lot’s of slower sites and some that are pleasantly fast. Nice that interdubs is one of them. Very nice actualy.

Los Angeles Final Cut User Group Meeting

January 23rd, 2007

Tomorrow we will talk again about “Zodiac”.

he is dead, alright

January 16th, 2007

Crispen Porter and DD camp out in the uncanny valley

some better coverage at stash.tv

If I would be Michael Bay I would be worried.

Here how people reacted to it:
(random, unbiased sampling, there simple was no single positive voice, except of the the press release that the makers pushed)

just creepy
it doesn’t get more unoriginal than this lifeless horror sequel
To me, it looks more like Dana Carvey made up to look like an old man.
“kinda creepy” doesn’t do a thing for my appetite
It’s a desiccated undead zombie-mummy in a bowtie, and it will steal your soul.
.This is so horrifying, it makes me want to hide under my desk
It was so completely believable that I threw out all our popcorn so that zombie Orville wouldn’t tempted to visit.

a corporate flash site that does not suck

December 19th, 2006

ILM’s Pirates 2 show and tell

Usually VFX companies have a hard time telling the world about their work. Either they keep their ’secrets close to their chest’ or they simply lack the skills to communicate well. Lately a certain diss-interest of the public can be added to the list: The fact that something is not real in a movie is not worth mentioning anymore. The bar is much, much higher now. And -of course- ILM in Pirates2 reached it big time with Davy Jones. Their site about the fx is surprisingly good, informative and fun.

While looking at the blogs that link to the ILM page I found this 80’s TV piece

at Visual FX blog.
I had no idea that Lasseter / Disney did try to make “Where the wild things are”.

DI workflow for the departet

December 17th, 2006

The ASC has an interesting article about the DI workflow used on “The departed”. It is interesting, yet not surprising, that Michael Ballhaus watches HD dailies and is happy with them. Only a few short years ago it seemed a sacrileg to abandon film dailies.
Interestingly there has not been any technological breakthrough since then. HD is still 1920×1080. But people probably know now better how to do these things, and creatives are more comfortable with a digital aspect, since their final product will be created digitally anyway in the DI suite.

As for the rest of the “Departed” workflow it might have made sense at the time to procede as described at each step. But after a cursory read I am left with the feeling that the movie bounceds in and out of lots of formats in the process. I have not seen it, but it looked good from what I heard. Ballhaus’ movies usually do.

what’s michel doing?

December 15th, 2006

flash video sucks

December 15th, 2006

yeah, yeah,

youtube. Everybody talked about all that money g paid for it.
Next one on the list of things to mention is the ample amount of content.
And then -of course- people mumble about DRM. Lawsuits. All that stuff journalists like to write about.

But, did anybody ever look at it???

It looks like shit - curtesy Flash video. 95% install base made this format an instant winner.
And it still looks like shit. When MTV appeared it at least had the same TV quality than the rest.
The sad part is, that it seems to be good enough. People don’t seem to mind.

two divided by two plus one plus allot still makes zero

December 15th, 2006

Once about a time Amanda and Andrew (2) made rocketboom. And it was alright. Had a couple of ideas, was fresh, delivered in iTunes daily. Overall it was worth watching. Then they broke up (divided by two). Andrew got a new leading lady (+1). I never started watching again (=0). She tried to much to be like the old rocketboom AND try to find her own style in the same time. Amanda went to LA. She signed with a talent agency. And now ABC picked her up (+allot):
ABC’s “page” for Amanda Congdon

Just watched the first installment. It it dull, boring. No content. Nothing of interest. More visual treatment but nothing that mattered or that was original. She still does the signature swing into the camera thing. But not even those worked. Timing is indeed crucial.
Perceived production value on the original rocketboom was definitely higher than it is now. Which is ridicolous, since ABC probably spends between five hundred and thousand times more per second than the original did.

Another sad part of the new presentation is the whole “breast in your face” action. No, it is not me. I have watched her for hours, daily on Rocketboom. Yes, she never was ugly. But it was a good mix, with her looks not trying to center stage. Which is almost always horrible boring. It seems ABC never understood her or the whole concept. They tried, and failed dismally. It could easily be that ABC will loose around hundret US$ per viewer per episode on the web. Nobody would care to watch this.

I hope that ‘zefrank’ is really only one guy. So he can not split up, and leave us with no decent content left in the those video feeds.

camera contrast range

December 13th, 2006

A very interesting overview of the different response curves for the Arri D20, Thompson Viper, RED and some other cameras.

Panavision as seen by the LA Times

December 4th, 2006

Panavision in an Article of the LA Times

According the LA Times Panavision does well. They are planning to make twenty more Genesis this years. Sounds like allot, but their own subsidary “Plus-8″ has added that many of the competing Viper cameras to their rental inventory last September.

looks like I will go to Macworld

December 2nd, 2006

Just forty days left to overcome the fear to speak in front of crowds.

HD for Indies did a roundup of articles around Zodiac.

could not get much cheaper

November 19th, 2006

quick howto

how to turn old PC into something useful.

I like the idea of putting the boot CD back into the tray upside down for keeping it handy, for whenever it should be needed.

ERs of the world prepare

November 16th, 2006

Wii Commerical

Lots and lots of views on the good ole youTube. Who needs to buy airtime if its lingering around for free.
For about one out of thousand commercials that people do care about enough to seek them out.

virtual vacation and entourage

November 15th, 2006

Running a postfix server with virtual mailboxes. It’s all pretty nice. Vacation however was sketchy. So say the least. One thing that breaks “Virtual Vacation” (implemented via virtual.pl in /var/spool/vacation, and, yes, googlebot, I am writing this for you) are < > brackets around the recpients email address. Entourage does that for instance. I do not think that there is anything wrong with that. Postfix does not deliver the ‘out of office’ reply in those cases though the mysql table called vacation gets the name of the sender added. Tricky and odd bug. My fix was to add:

if($from =~/< ([^\s]+\@[^\s]+)>/){$from = $1 ;}

right after the line:

if ($from =~/([\w\-.%]+\@[\w.-]+)/){$from = $1;}

which was already in there.

Free and open software is great. Just sometimes it’s the odd things that get you.