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Continuing the Cotillion of Conquest

So far this week I have improved on defeating my bad habits. One of the things about recognizing my obsessive-compulsive behavior results in trying to out maneuver them. Tricking one’s self can be tricky, but possible. Retraining your mind to erase decades of reinforcement is never easy.

The worst thing for defeating my productivity is the OCD need to want to have enough time to complete an entire job, when it is and has never been a job that could be done in a single day anyways. It’s a mindset, and a destructive one. I have the hardest time getting started on big projects because you are facing the mountain before you make any progress and it’s easier to just say…..”Tomorrow…. tomorrow…. Tomorrow…..

Specifically, I am look at 2 edits for short films. Knowing I have close to 4 hours of raw footage to go through, which will take at least 6 hours to do, my sub conscious mind says I need and entire day to just slug the takes I like and jettison the rest. If I have even 45 minutes of paid work in between, then getting back into that mindset is broken and I can justify procrastination.

So what I am doing to defeat this is to just set aside two 30 minute time periods to start slogging through the work. If I just get rid of a bunch of the gunk, and make the raw footage a more manageable amount, then I can just work towards getting to the edit. This seems so obvious, but I have years and negative reinforcement to work against.

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Apr 1, 2011 at 11:47:03 am

Operation: Procrastination Obliteration

Sometimes a plan works. In my last blog I described a technique to force myself to get things done by setting a self imposed embargo on the fun narrative work until the various day job and TV work is completed. So far, so good. I’m now 75% done with another episode of FRAMELINES, caught up on outstanding day job work, and well on my way to getting to the personal project.

In other ways I’m trying to force myself out of bad habits. I sometimes surf the web and read pointless articles with research instead of reading the many many books on my shelf from another addiction, which is Half Price Books ™. Unfortunately, I have no interest in curing that bad habit as I love my books; tactile and solid, books are not mean to be read on some device. I’m now leaving the computer and sites like Facebook earlier and reading in my bed, cats purring on my lap as I turn pages.

I’ve re-arranged my living space. When you want to change habitual behavior, sometimes it is as simple as moving your environment around to change your perspective literally. Tomorrow I inherit a new recliner from my father, and another one from my brother-in-law. I am forgoing the mighty futon we watch movies on in favor of two easy chairs from which we can battle for control of the remote in between us!

Next week I start to panic as I am way behind on marketing a screening. Me, the marketing whore, has failed to capitalize on the timings to get attention at the maximum potential. Please check the Weather Channel, as it might be snowing in hell. I have less interest in attention than I used to. The scepter has clearly passed on to others in the Columbus Filmmaking scene, and that sits very well with me. I just want to make my movies and shows. I have lost all interest in the players and their games. I am so entrenched in my work that I cannot spare the time or energy at pettiness, even for some of those I have helped that do not return the favor. Others do, and I do not do what I do for credit or return favors. I do it because I feel I must.

By Monday I’ll have another episode of FRAMELINES done, and I can start work on the new web series….maybe getting these two complete will inspire me to get the rest going too…. So now,

I must return to my reading. I’m on my 4th book in 5 days. Of course that sounds more impressive than it is because the books are “The Art of ________” or photographic journals on Behind the Scenes, so they aren’t very word heavy. The book on BABEL by Inarritu was amazing. The Art of IRON MAN provided insight into pre-production too.

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Mar 24, 2011 at 8:05:14 pm

Gesticulating, and not in a rude way…

About 7 months ago I started a project, a new web series of short short movies. We shot the majority of one of them, but always intended to shoot the last shot on the next one. Life intervenes and here we are more than half a year later and finally getting that shot and doing another short for the series.

This isn’t a series as in one continues storyline or anything; merely a series of vignettes with a similar concept. I don’t want to make a big deal of these because they are simple ideas with elementary execution.Today we shot with the new Panasonic AF100 as an experiment.

We used my Glidecam Crane to get a cool shot, but after being so nice and loaning it out for free to several people it’s now barely functional and several key pieces are missing. Generosity has its downsides.

The AF100 is meant to be the DSLR buster. In low to no budget indie films, the DSLR still cameras have video functions and make pretty images for filmmakers with shallow depth of field. Cameras like the Canon 5D, 7D, and T2i (now T3i) make some great digital films. We used the 5D on the first one of this series, but they are not ergonomic for film work, so you have to trick your camera out with a rig to make it video-friendly. The new AF100 is a video camera based on the same technology.

The biggest difference is in the video CODEC (Compressor/Decompressor) software which is vastly better on the Panasonic AF100. I’ve already started to conform all the video and audio. Even though one of the appeals of these cameras is “tapeless” using SD cards or CF (Compact Flash) media drives, for me to edit with the footage, I prefer to conform them to our Matrox codec for editing and effects. So I save no time removing the “digitizing from tape” benefit of tapeless workflows, but I am happier to have files that work in 1080P in real time with effects and color correction, so I save time on the back end.

I promised myself that I’d get back to this series once I got further along on FRAMELINES and then the re-do of BITTER OLD MAN got in the way. Speaking of which, I submitted the revised BITTER OLD MAN short to a film festival that has rejected my 1 submission a year for a solid decade now. This is my 10th entry that I have no hope of getting into. Every year I also promise myself I won’t submit, but because it has no fee, I always send something anyway.

Call me Sisyphus.

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Mar 18, 2011 at 9:16:02 pm

Oscillating the Scintillating Conversation

Got a great message last night about the Sonnyboo.comsite of mine. I am always proud of what my little site has done in terms of helping filmmakers with paperwork, free music, and now video and sound effects for free.

So here’s what I was sent:

I was on a panel of producers for "Eat, Drink, and Be Indie" an event sponsored monthly by the Atlanta Film Festival. We had a decent crowd about 100 folks out to listen to myself and two other producers share our thoughts and experiences about producing features.Well, the question was what sites would be helpful and before my turn one of the other producers on the panel Terrisha Kearse ("10-20") mentioned "" as a great site for beginning filmmakers to check out and use as a resource.So, congratulations on the great site (and yes, I've been there before and found it very helpful myself over the years) and getting some Atlanta love.

Pretty damn cool. My secret plan to destroy all the real artists and trick people into enjoying mediocre films is coming to fruition! The evil Sonnyboo plot to take over all and abolish artsy fartsy nonsense can now begin! ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Mar 17, 2011 at 8:01:17 am

Supercilious Superstitions

How things change on a dime! We have our air date in Columbus for FRAMELINES. It will premiere here on April 24th at 2:30AM in full HD on Channel 34.1 with repeats to follow (on better time slots I assume) on 34.3 the “Create” extra digital channel. To help promote the show, I wanted to do a live presentation sneak preview with more of a Super Show at a theater. That’s now officially booked at Studio 35 on April 16th, Saturday at 3:00PM. The biggest difference there will be that we’ll show entire short films before the segments about those films or filmmakers.

The screening should be a fun time, as I’m still ironing out the details, which segments of the show to present, etc. So far, I have most of my picks. This event might also make our local sponsors happy, as it’s yet another chance to see their logos in front of the niche audience. We aren’t going to charge to go to the screening, but we will be asking for donations to support the production. The cool thing is that donations will be tax deductible thanks to our fiscal agent being a 501C3 non-profit.

In the last few days, the stars lined up and I’m doing a short film shoot next week. It’s another in my series of shorts that I started last year, but have not completed. I wanted to work with another editor to make them a different style than what I normally do, but it looks like I’m on my own. As I have said recently, it feels like I’m waking up from a groggy state and wanting to be fully creative, at least my own definition thereof, again.

One of my biggest stumbling blocks remains the writing part. It doesn’t come as easy as it used to; in fact I rather procrastinate quite a bit when it comes to writing. Not this time. I knew what I wanted, and it nearly wrote itself inside of 20 minutes. I had the luck of relying on a semi-true story which made it substantially easier than most. Just putting the final touches on the cast on this bad boy will shoot before the end of the week. Then my series will have more than 1 short!

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Mar 11, 2011 at 9:22:51 pm

Extenuating Webstats

I like to see how well a marketing push does. It determines if my ideas are hitting with the intended audience. That helps me shape goals and informs me as to a realistic expectation of how my work is received. It’s my mini non-studio version of test marketing and thanks to a few tools, it’s completely free. Like all demographic information, the results are subjective and all you really have are hypothesis and conjecture, but in some things the numbers do not lie.

For over 12 years I’ve been doing stuff online as “Sonnyboo”, the name that means little. The one thing I have learned with absolute certainty is that in most people’s minds, the Internet means “free”. The most popular things online are when people get something for nothing. Knowing that, I have used things to my advantage in that way.

First and foremost, I started as a musician. I wrote songs and did multitrack recordings from the time I was 16 years old playing multiple instruments. I wanted to pursue that as a career, but I did not have the skills. I know that and accept that without regret. I wrote well over 200 songs and I’ve put some of the “best” of them online for free for anyone to use in any way they want ('Best' being incredibly subjective since they are beneath the quality in every way from music I would use today).

Along with contracts and paperwork that makes filmmaking easier, I made a section of exclusively as a free site that anyone can use to do whatever with the things and tools I have acquired over the years. Now my webstats flourish because there is free material. As you can see what a single day can do to the unique viewers on my site. That’s a lot. It’s overwhelming. Probably 90% or more just get the downloads and leave, but the other 10% or so look around. I can track it and see. They look at the movies, read on the blog, etc. That is effective marketing to me.

Other tools like TUBEMOGUL paint a great picture as to what people like to watch and what sites offer the most viewers, find things via referral, create niche marketing plans, etc. I can upload once to TUBEMOGUL, then track everything from one site. I can see how a single video does on multiple sites or I can see how all of my videos on a site are doing in comparison to the other sites.Without a doubt, YouTube is still the king. With little to no effort, most of my views in the last 10 years are on YouTube. It’s just the site Du Jour for random people finding and watching things. Vimeo may have the best looking video, but it’s got a fraction of the viewers.

Right now, Sonnyboo videos get more and more views online. Combined between all the sites, I have well over 2 million views for all my videos. I have not yet gone “viral” as it were, as in no single clip has exceeded much more than 100,000 views, although I did on a site that no longer carries the videos. I don’t make the kind of movies that will go viral per se. If I wanted to, I could try to do something with “V” my cat just to see if one of my :30 second clips might go that route, but that is not my goal. My eyes are set on something a little different…

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Mar 7, 2011 at 2:17:38 pm

AIDAN 5, sci fi web series

I believe in karma. There is too much evidence of it in the positive and negative for me to deny its existence. So in that vein, I am going to promote a project with as much passion and energy as I would my own, although I had nothing to do with said project.

AIDAN 5 is a bold and amazing web series. They have been in production and post production for 2 years trying to bring to life the ambition and style that it promises. Now, they are releasing the episodes one every two weeks. Episode 2 is now online.

Part Blade Runner, Part Sin City, AIDAN 5 comes from John Jackson the director, Ben Bays the producer, Tim Baldwin a writer and editor, and Vidas Barzdukas (that is spelled correctly, as I had to check with the Lithuanian embassy). Starring Bryan Michael Block and Maya Sayre, against an almost entirely greenscreen world that was then put in by artistist like Ben Brown. Here are the first two episodes and a trailer for the entire 15 episode first “season”.

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Mar 4, 2011 at 11:53:08 am AIDAN 5

sneak preview II : Lost in New Albany

As work continues on FRAMELINES, our PBS filmmaking show, it tests my limits of NOT being able to show the vast majority of our work until it airs on TV. Now we have our air dates. April 26th, 2011 FRAMELINES will begin to air in the Columbus market on WOSU the local PBS station. It will premiere earlier in the month on PBS in North East Ohio from Cleveland to Canton to Kent to Youngstown.

Here is a sneak peek at the ROUNDTABLE segment I host, this one on screenwriting:">Roundtable - Screenwriting Part I from Framelines TV on Vimeo.

I am mired in my own bile at the moment. For the past several months I have been living in a self imposed exile. My attitudes have not been conducive to human contact. I have a great deal of cynicism towards people. Strangely, my overall attitude towards “filmmaking” and even our local scene has never been more positive. What an odd contradiction that I have lost faith in many people, but not what they can achieve!

As the weather melts the frost, as does my darker thoughts. Of late, my endeavors seem to be achieving their marks; my own motivation increases on various projects. As I begin to work out my obsessions on outstanding projects like BITTER OLD MAN and finish more and more of the episodes of FRAMELINES; I find it curtails my cynicism and erodes the cobwebs of negativity.

Perhaps this spring might see even more positivity increase? Mayhap, more ambitious projects may come to fruition?

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Mar 1, 2011 at 9:30:51 pm

Mitigating Impatience

Still tinkering with the FX work on the re-do of BITTER OLD MAN. I indulged by obsessive-compulsive side quite a bit, working until past 11:00PM after work tweaking and experimenting. The thing about FX work is that you need to try things out, audition them in real time, which means a long “render” then look at it in context. This means tinkering, then waiting 20 minutes to see if it works, and then go back and adjust settings minutely.

I do not have the matte paintings yet, so in my impatience, I created some temporary ones. That way I could audition some virtual camera moves, particle effects, and blurs. I’m very happy with the things I’ve made so far and the overall “look” is achieved, but without the final artwork and style. When I put the current drafts against the original shots; I feel ashamed for what I did 10 years ago. I learned so much in the last 10 years about not only FX in a practical sense of HOW to do it, but my interest in a style and framing are much better. I’m sure there are other directors who are much more visual than me and would even direct this in ways I cannot conceive, but alas, I am me and not them.

I’m thinking of abandoning the 5.1 surround mix. Already this project has taken a great deal more of my time than I anticipated. I do not want to spend this much time in my past with old works. I want to move forward, move the new works forward. I have added some new sound, tweaked the overall edit, and remastered a lot of the sound as it was. The cleanup of 10 year old audio is easier now, but not easy. Some all new audio effects have been applied and a new score added to the end section too.

On my plate exists another project shot months ago that I have not edited myself since the assistant editor did a pass. I need to get to that too. Moreover, that is a new piece and has a stellar look, so it represents my more current cinematic aesthetics. As for OPENFILM.COM and the GET IT MADE CONTEST 2, I still have no word. I have no doubt getting James Caan, Robert Duvall, Mark Rydell, and Scott Caan even on the phone together at the same time is a scheduling nightmare. No one is handing out $500,000 without a great deal of consideration. I do not think ACCIDENTAL ART will win, though. The competition and bar is pretty high. Most of the other entries are substantially longer, and I chose to go short and sweet.

Also, I represented myself as more of a professional, someone who has made a feature film in distribution already. Some of the other entries went with the “never made a feature, have never worked with a budget” which may be more of what they want to have win the chance to do so. But then again, no one really knows or could know what they might think or decide? Let’s just say, I’m moving on because I don’t think I have the kind of luck to win this kind of opportunity.

Maybe I’m obsessing over Bitter Old Man Redux to keep from thinking about the contest….

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Feb 26, 2011 at 1:36:57 pm

Something’s in the Water

My old video on the 180 Degree Rule has been featured in VIMEO’s VIDEO SCHOOL, a project where they highlight the best videos to demonstrate making your videos better. The views spike from 1,200 to over 12,000 in less than 3 days. I love as a site, but I hadn’t been able to get the # of views I sought. Now I am seeing bleed over into the hits on the other videos too.

Upon my return from a week long shoot for a friend, the first thing that nagged at me was getting back to the 10 year old short Bitter Old Man. I promised myself I wouldn’t work on it more until I finished Episode 3 of FRAMELINES, and I didn’t get that done until 10:00PM before leaving for the shoot.

I began by tweaking the picture lock and made some tweaks. Then I started on the new shots done also the day before I left. Adding these into the mix and making the dolly shot work took some After Effects noodling, then I decided to blend that into the 3rd shot as well, which meant creating a CGI element in 3D to gel it all together.

I want to have all the FX done before I do a final sound mix, but in the original rough cut 10 years ago I used a Vangelis song from the Blade Runner soundtrack called “One More Kiss Dear”, which in itself was a major homage to the 1930’s music. In the end, I went with a sound design intro sans any music then. Now I found a truly royalty free song with no copyrights that happens to be very much in the style of that temp track. I’m going to use it for now and see how it works in the mix. I may go back to the simplified, no music aspect, but why not try it out?

Started compositing and FX work on the shots that don’t need matte paintings, just get ahead a little. I’m so glad I took notes in Google Docs because I forgot to add some elements that I notated to myself weeks ago, so already all 3 shots need to be re-done come Monday. Or Sunday depending on if I can stave off my OCD.

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Feb 19, 2011 at 7:19:35 pm

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