Have at it, you vultures.

Go ahead, I can take it:

Posted at 8:25 am in Video |

40 responses to “Have at it, you vultures.”

  1. John said on March 22, 2008 at 8:55 am

    I like! Great looking actors and cute dog. Shot well too. Submit to youTube?

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  2. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 22, 2008 at 8:59 am

    Like the scream fading into the phone tone.

    Where’s the last scene, when he gets home, opens the case, and finds a Shania Twain cd?

    BTW, i’m not a troll, i’m the third billy-goat!
    OK, maybe the second goat. But not a troll.

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  3. Dorothy said on March 22, 2008 at 9:22 am

    I knew Chelsea would be a dog when the guy leaned into the camera after the phone call and talked to Chelsea! But it was a fun movie all the same! Great job.

    My niece has a female pug named Sydney. I’m gonna have to send this link to her.

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  4. whitebeard said on March 22, 2008 at 11:09 am

    What a great movie, that must have been a fun venture. We gave our grandson a video camera for his 11th birthday. He began making movies about World War Two and I was the tough drill sergeant. He could have literally used your scriptwriting talents.

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  5. Suzi said on March 22, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Crud! My old iBook won’t play the video, but just a word about vultures. They have returned to Hinkley, Ohio, so it truly is Spring, don’t let the fresh snow fool you.

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  6. MichaelG said on March 22, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Terrific little sketch! Amusing and well written. You owe yourself a victory lap. Nice and tight without unnecessary embellishment. Shots well composed — I liked the prisoner exchange set up. Good real sound. I hate that Foley shit. It’s ruined countless movies. I concur with John. ‘Tube it. More please.

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  7. del said on March 22, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    Best line in vid: “Any man would…”
    Jeff, in Michigan the term troll is reserved for UPers (prounounced “yoopers”) referring to those of us who live “under the [Mackinaw] bridge.”

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  8. MichaelG said on March 22, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    Great quote from Ken Levine’s wonderful blog:

    “I hate myself for laughing but KLAC sportstalk host Big Joe McDonnell said this about the Paul McCartney-Heather Mills divorce settlement: she made a lot of money for spreading her leg.”

    Made me laugh out loud!

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  9. Danny said on March 22, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    Michael. Hilarious!

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  10. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 22, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    del —

    50+ years, and long may she stand, high above all us trolls!


    Live webcam:

    (I’m inside thawing after herding 300 kids around a delightful if insanely cold egg hunt, where this year the Bunny did not complain once about having to wear the costume — now, it’s lo mein and “The Ten Commandments” for us tonight, with Anne Baxter uttering her immortal lines.)

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  11. Jolene said on March 22, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Not that there’s any comparison, but there are some other until-now-unsung artists whose work has, just today, been brought to the attention of the public. Enjoy.

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  12. basset said on March 22, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    >>she made a lot of money for spreading her leg.”

    yeah, and she hadda lean on all his property…


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  13. michaelj said on March 22, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    Chelsea’s really smart and she’s fairly attractive. Some disgusting bastard like Rush could make a joke while rubbing himself, but he couldn’t get laid unless about $5grand and some oxycontin turned up in his size 52 tightie whitey u’trou. That might be so horrifying ClarenceThonas might speak up, If he can still speak. All thse years,

    NANCY drama? Torn from the headlines. No totally spectacular and luminescent gorgeous ADA with perfect cheekbones announcing she’s gay and exits stage right. This would have been a stilted Angie Harmon episode, I guess.

    (An aside: who was the best female ADA? I’d say it’s a no-brainer: Claire Kincaid, who left the series by being killed by a DUI driver while saving Lennie Briscoe’s soul. It wasn’t Survivor, but it was pretty dramatic, and actually intelligent, and the characterization so popular with TV critics that the writers avoided characterization should have been 86ed about then. Actually, criticism of the entire Law and Order franchise by people that devote their lives to spouting about who Simon Cowell likes is depressing, lame, and dumbing down. But in the eternal interest of dumbing down, y’all aren’t abut to listen to Russell Mael, so we have John Mellencamp. So he turned down Raygun. BFD. The Boss had already done that and there was no comparison. ).

    Wait. Was it supposed to be The Wire? What The Wire tried to do more than anything was recreate Pembleton, Bayliss, Moses Gunn as the Araber, the Box, and the corpse of Adena Watson.

    Nothing on cable, maybe nothing in movies, ever got closer to parsing evil. I think The Wire is great. Moral ambiguity? Alright. How about moral certitude? Saw and Order got that sometimes. So did The Wire. The unsolved case of Adena Watson is the best thing, for acting and writing, that’s ever been on TV.

    Mild-mannered Jeff. When I was a kid, living on the banks of the Tug River in Kentucky, there was a pretty lady that lived on a hill in a mansion and she had an egg hunt every Easter. I’m not making this up. I found the prize basket, including Eisenhower silver dollars in a decrepit outbuilding.

    A month later, the shed was torn down and there was a nest of copperheads. Shit, that would have put a damper. But why wasn’t I bitten? Chosen? Doubt that seriously. Pure luck? I doubt luck is ever pure.

    So I don’t think there are chosen ones. I’d like to have been. Muad Dhib, you know? Meantime, I think John Donne pretty much got things right, and nobody’s in this alone.

    Sometimes shit happens. Sometimes adults (or arely formed idiots) make them happen. And they meant to get rich, or somehow aggrandize and falsify their roles in history. Or both. Well, I mean Cheney. Is there a conceivable excuse for the six deferment piece of shit that questioned Kerry’s patriotism over several decades?



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  14. sue said on March 22, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    I can hear the Oscar speech now: “…and Bassett, and Jolene, and Mild Mannered Jeff, and – oh, who else? I’m so excited I can’t remember all of you… and Connie, and Del, and Danny, and …”
    Very nice, Nancy.

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  15. Kafkaz said on March 22, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    Nancy–I like it! Good transitions and use of music all the way through. And, of course, the squeak toy moment is wonderful. A lot goes into making even a brief film like this. I bet you bring a whole new angle to watching professional versions, now. (Even advertisements, annoying as I find them, are wonders of editing.) Gives you a feel for the ins and outs of collaboration, too, huh?

    The most fun day in Horror Film was always the day students screened their projects. Oh, gosh. Some classics! (One group almost got arrested filming theirs in a local park. Their special effects were uncannily good given how rudimentary the tools they had to work with were.) One student-made horror film involved a gold fish in a blender. Still makes me laugh to think of it. The students were definitely on the edge of their seats for that one.

    The actors were really good, too! Looks like this was a blast to make.

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  16. Dexter said on March 23, 2008 at 12:55 am

    I called my brother last night…he screamed “I have to go! Riptyde is into the Chinese!” Rippy is a pug , and they have had many pugs…they’ll love it.
    1) Great musical score
    2) Great actors.
    3) SO MUCH better than the average YouTube video.
    4) Well written , concise, just what you needed to be.

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  17. nancy said on March 23, 2008 at 9:02 am

    Well, thanks to all of you.

    Here’s what was eye-opening about this experience for me:

    ** It underlined a lot of what we were taught in Screenwriting 410 (rewrite), most of which boiled down to — pare away. You’d think, in a four-page script, there wouldn’t be much to cut, but I did four rewrites, and each one got tighter. I dropped an establishing shot of the house, one of Butch leaving the bedroom with the blanket trailing over his shoulder, a couple of others. Even with no money involved, on video, with a small camera, each setup was amazingly complicated. We found ourselves asking: Do we need this to tell the story? And most often, the answer was no.

    Which is only interesting to you folks if you’re a movie fan, and haven’t figured out Roger Ebert’s Rule of the Seemingly Insignificant Closeup yet. Which is: There are no insignificant closeups.

    ** Collaboration is magic. I wrote this with two whey-faced 20something slackers in mind, imagining a shallow, silly couple who would hold dogs and video games hostage — lots of irony and arch snark. Swifty and Teresa showed up at the audition and played it like this was the Lindbergh Baby, Part Two, and it was the missing piece; of course, this is the story. We did have one guy audition who played it like the 20something slacker prototype, and he was wonderful. But no woman could match him, and the thought of casting him with Teresa was ludicrous; you never would have seen them as an ex-couple. So the teacher told him to keep his phone on, because her next class would write something just for him.

    ** Happy accidents are your best friend. Two classmates, Raphael and Thiago, found the music on a Creative Commons website, and when I first heard it I thought it was a bit heavy-handed (ever the fan of underplaying, I wanted something like a single cello note, very low). But when we laid the second piece over the scream, it rose to a crescendo with the push-in shot, and everybody laughed, so that settled that. And now I see the music, which is over-the-top but not by much, sells the story as a kidnapping but has just a note of humor in it.

    ** Finally, it’s not a real production until someone says, “We’re losing light!” You never notice how fast the sun moves until you’re trying to match shots on a day when it’s 25 degrees, the batteries are failing, the sound keeps cutting out, and clueless people keep driving and walking through your shot. Don’t get me started on airplanes.

    It’s imperfect, but it’s ours.

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  18. nancy said on March 23, 2008 at 9:23 am

    Oh, and by the way, this was the inspiration. If only we’d had $100,000, we could have made one just like it.

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  19. Harl Delos said on March 23, 2008 at 9:52 am

    Thanks, Nancy, for letting this be a learning experience for us, as well as for you. A couple of months ago, I would have thought your film was a fun project. These days, I’m impressed. I’ve found how how “fun” video production can be!

    I thought it would be, yes, “fun” to do a series of “3 AM” commercials. In one of them, an answering machine would respond, saying “Please leave a message, I’m out trying to find my husband. I suspect he’s in bed, but I don’t know whose.” In another one, a guy says, “Hello”, and you can hear a toilet flushing in the background. “No,” he says, “I was up, anyway.” And so forth. I had about a dozen different “ads” in mind.

    But I wanted to start off using the first part of Hillary’s ad at the start of my joke ads. I finally figured out how to capture the original 3 AM ad off YouTube, and I was about ready to learn how to edit video, when a guy walked into my (“my” meaning “the one I shop at”, not “the one I own”) supermarket in the nude, and started throwing chairs, refrigerator cases, etc., all around. It eventually ended up making “Joe in the Morning”, and CNN, and the “Today” show, but the story on the local NBC station was exceptionally funny. I wanted to post it on my website.

    Did I mention that I live in Lancaster, PA? The county is overwhelmingly Republican, but because of the large Amish population, the community is far more liberal about nudity and sexuality than most places I’ve lived, so the local TV station felt free to “play” with this story, far more so than the national coverage did.

    And I will mention that the scene was not sexual or sensual at all, the guy was just unclothed? (They said he was drunk. I think he was stoned on something else as well, and he took off his clothes because he was hot. But the poor guy is known to have had psychiatric problems in the past.)

    Anyhow, I always TiVO the 11 PM news, and watch it when I go to bed at 2 or 3 AM. Now, how do I get the video from TiVO to the puter? I finally figured out how to transfer the TiVO recording to my Handycam.

    But I can’t transfer from the Handycam to my computer, because I bought a “second” that has no working USB port. And my wife systematically screws up any computer she lays her hands on, and when I tried to install the Sony driver to her computer, it wouldn’t initialize. And it’s getting to be time to reformat her computer, but I’m holding off on that because I can’t find all the CDs from software she uses.

    So the “3 AM” ads will be untimely by the time I would get them completed. I’m still working on figuring out video production, though, because I want to be ready for the next project I come up with.

    It’s imperfect, but it’s ours.

    This is no time to be modest, Nance.

    They spent $175 million filming Kevin Costner’s “Water World” and that was 13 years ago, when a dollar was still worth about 35c. These days, it costs half a billion dollars to film a big flop!

    And you came up with something enjoyable, entirely with donated labor and borrowed equipment!

    I agree; you ought to upload it to YouTube.

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  20. Danny said on March 23, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    Nancy, I too thought it was very good and it looks like great fun.

    “Do we need to tell this story?” Yeah that is the question and along with the complexity and time constraints, voila, you have some problems on your hands that need fast and creative solutions. Two favorite DVD packages I own are “Lord of the Rings” and the “Alien” series. When I was sick a few weeks back, I checked out the making-of extras disc for the original Alien, directed by Ridley Scott (this is when he was young and green still). The talent and effort required to pull this sort of stuff off is amazing.

    Your airplane comment got me to thinking of Zeppelin’s recording of Black Country Woman. In the beginning you hear the airplane and someone’s indistiguishable comment to which Robert Plant replies in sort of an exasperated tone, “Not even.” I’ve always wondered if they were having environmental noise problems with getting that track down and Robert and the boys were like, “screw it, let’s record this even with the stupid airplane in the beginning.”

    Edit: One other thing. When you were writing the script, did you toy with the idea of having Teresa’s character yell into the phone, “Give me back my pug!!!” You know, like Mel Gibson.

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  21. basset said on March 23, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    >>I can’t transfer from the Handycam to my computer, because I bought a “second” that has no working USB port.

    get a Mac, export through the Firewire port. problem solved.

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  22. Harl Delos said on March 23, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    get a Mac, export through the Firewire port. problem solved.

    Oh, sure. Why do you think I bought a manufacturer’s second in the first place? I’m too cheap to pay $200 for a new computer, but I’m going to get something that costs $129 every year just to keep the operating system updated?

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  23. jcburns said on March 23, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    costs $129 every year just to keep the operating system updated?
    Hah, good one!
    You could be running your Mac with version 10.3 (from 2003!) and it would do video capture and editing just fine–and run the most current Safari and email without problems.
    But yeah, sure, if you want Leopard fanciness…

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  24. Harl Delos said on March 23, 2008 at 10:44 pm

    You could be running your Mac with version 10.3 (from 2003!) and it would do video capture and editing just fine–and run the most current Safari and email without problems.

    Which part of “keep the operating system updated” do you fail to comprehend? You need OS X 10.4.9 in order to run Final Cut Studio. You need OS X 10.4.10 in order to run Final Cut Express. You need OS X 10.4.11 in order to run Aperture.

    Let’s see. Reformatting a hard drive is free. Replacing a motherboard is about $100. A new computer from walmart.com is $200. A mac that can hold four 300GB drives starts about $2700, and I’d also need to replace my color laser printer (beautiful printing) and b/w laser (very fast and less than 1c a page), a web-cam, and a digitizing tablet, because none of them are Mac-compatible. My Dymo 330 is compatible, but it’d be useless, because stamps.com isn’t.

    Gee, I guess switching to Mac is absolutely the right choice for someone who admits to being a cheapskate. Thanks for the suggestion.

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  25. nancy said on March 23, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    And if you had a Mac, you’d have a free program called iMovie, which will do video editing up to the very-advanced amateur level, and have no need of Final Cut or Aperture.

    More to the point, you’re missing J.C.’s point. You don’t need to keep your OS updated to the minute to run the vast majority of programs. I haven’t gone to Leopard yet, my siblings haven’t found their way to Tiger, and we all get along fine.

    If you like all your peripherals that much, well, that’s the reason not to switch. But not because the OS is some ravenous beast, because it isn’t.

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  26. Harl Delos said on March 24, 2008 at 1:17 am

    More to the point, you’re missing J.C.’s point. You don’t need to keep your OS updated to the minute to run the vast majority of programs.

    And you’re missing my point. If the cigarette lighter wasn’t working on your car, and you needed it to keep your cellphone charged, you wouldn’t replace your VW with a new Maserati. Even if the car was free, you wouldn’t want a car that gets 8 miles per gallon.

    And even if the Mac were free, I wouldn’t want a computer that costs a fortune every time I turn around. It costs more for Mac software because there’s very little choice. It costs more for Mac peripherals because there’s very little choice. And there are things you just can’t do on a Mac.

    Running “the vast majority of programs” is like having a tire that’s round, everywhere except the bottom.

    For instance, if you want to mail a 2-pound book, you have several choices.

    Since it’s over 16 ounces, if you use stamps, you have to go to the post office across town, and stand in line to hand the parcel to a USPS employee. That’ll take 2-3 hours. You can use Media Mail (which runs about $1.65) but it’ll cost 45c extra for Delivery Confirmation.

    You can go to USPS.com with Safari, and use their desktop shipping, saving you the trip across town; you can drop it in any mailbox. You get Delivery Confirmation for free. However, you can’t use Media Mail. You have a choice between Priority Mail (about $6) and Express Mail (something like $12-15).

    Or you can use Slipstream Manager from Pitney-Bowes. You can ship by Media Mail, get free Delivery Confirmation, and drop it in any nearby mailbox – except that you can’t do it on a Mac, even if you pay hundreds of dollars for VMware. It’s strictly Windows only.

    If you like all your peripherals that much, well, that’s the reason not to switch. But not because the OS is some ravenous beast, because it isn’t.

    Well, this *is* a peripherals issue. I didn’t say the OS was bad, I said it was expensive to keep updated. Just as a Maserati isn’t a bad car, but even if you win one in a lottery, the cost of gas and insurance is a killer.

    So if the cigarette lighter on your car didn’t work, and you wanted to charge your cell phone while you were driving, wouldn’t it make more sense to replace the cigarette lighter than to replace your VW with a Maserati?

    That’s what we’re talking about. I can (and will) eventually find all the CDs I need so I can reformat my wife’s hard drive. That will be free (which is the kind of price I like.) Alternatively, I could spend about $100 to replace the motherboard on my PC so that the USB and IEEE 1294 ports work, or I could simply move the 4 hard drives to a new Everex GPC, which is $200 at WalMart.

    But while moving to a Mac might be an interesting option for someone who only surfs and emails, it’s not for someone who depends on his PC to do the wide variety of jobs I use mine for.

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  27. Kafkaz said on March 24, 2008 at 1:22 am

    The Spike Jonze ads sure do count as art. I hopped from the inspiration link over to quite a few examples of his ad work. Destruction seems to be one of his best things, but I like the dream sequence ad for the sneakers even more. Captures dream logic perfectly.

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  28. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 24, 2008 at 7:04 am

    Harl . . . eat the pod . . . go ahead, it won’t hurt you . . . just eat the pod, Harl . . . we’re waiting for you . . . eat the pod . . . time to eat the pod . . . Harl, the pods are calling you . . . eat the pod.

    [Yes, i’m typing this on a MacBook. Lovely Wife’s dissertation on a Mac LC in 92 was our first bite of the Apple, which device still works*, as does the printer it came with; my father-in-law uses it to print the calendar pages he likes, even though he bought an iMac G5 last year. We’ve all eaten the pod, and we’re so happy . . . so very happy. Just eat the pod, Harl, you can be happy, too.]

    [*A semi-serious observation, while conceding the Mac-itude is a bit much from we who are the Elect — in various contract/free-lance gigs i’ve been given to work with three laptops of various PC brands, and they’ve all died of short/wiring/major failure causes (HP, Dell, Gateway). The LC of 92 vintage is still working, the tangerine clamshell iBook my wife wangled as part of her first job back in Ohio in ’99 is now on our ten year old’s desk, having only replaced the battery on it, and my MacBook is sublime. Durability and compatibility over time makes Apple cost-effective as my home base choice, while i work with the products of the Antichrist elsewhere with relative equanimity.]

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  29. basset said on March 24, 2008 at 7:21 am

    Harl, I don’t give a shit what you use, and I don’t need to hear you going on once again about how absolutely right you are and everyone else can just shut up.

    I’m telling you what works for me; if you don’t want to listen, that’s fine, but don’t pull an attitude (“what part… do you not comprehend?”) over it.

    First thing I thought when I saw your post was “hmmm, wonder if he’s trying to use the Firewire port and thinks it’s the USB?”

    I have four Macs, including the LC in the attic, and a day job with a government agency which uses only Dell PCs. The Dells are a constant source of trouble and aggravation (“Program is not responding…”), the Macs… just work.

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  30. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 24, 2008 at 7:36 am

    See how painless it is? Eat the pod . . . the pods are good, they make you feel good . . . eat the pod, Harl.

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  31. brian stouder said on March 24, 2008 at 7:51 am

    loved the movie; it caught Chloe’s attention, too, and stopped her in her tracks – so, in addition to appealing to us Friends of nn.c, we have independent confirmation that it has real hooks.

    Harl lost me at the bakery when it comes to OJ/inappropriate behavior in front of children, but I agree with him on Mac versus Windows. I’m firmly in the Heaven’s Gates sect

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  32. Connie said on March 24, 2008 at 9:30 am

    Loved the movie, but Mitzi’s hair looked awfully nice for someone who just got out of bed.

    In other news, I am more appalled every day at the things men are willing to say about women, most particularly Hillary and Heather Mills (see disgusting woman hating comment about Mills above).

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  33. nancy said on March 24, 2008 at 9:54 am

    Spike Jonze’s shorts/commercials/music videos are so good, it almost makes me forget he was the inspiration for Giovanni Ribisi’s neglectful husband in “Lost in Translation.” Of course, if my wife had been Sofia Coppola’s character in that movie, I’d have neglected her, too.

    The Gap ad is fabulous. Never ran. It scared the company, or so I’ve heard.

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  34. jcburns said on March 24, 2008 at 10:19 am

    The need to have the “latest and greatest” is a compelling one, and I’ve certainly succumbed to it, but with any product (Apple, Adobe) one oughta take a breath before plunking down a credit card merely because it’s new. If you run Mac OS 10.3 (2003) you can run Final Cut Pro HD (the predecessor to Studio) and Adobe After Effects 6.5 and Photoshop 7 and frankly, there’s nothing you can’t do with that trio in terms of creating television—DV to HD—that requires an upgrade. That’s all I was sayin’.
    Absolutely the newer stuff has nuances and workflows that may be more efficient or faster (color correction, all the stuff that Aperture offers) but I’m hard-pressed to say any of that is must-have…and when you have older hardware, especially stuff that doesn’t have fancy new graphics-card processing, the newer OS can be a pain to slog through…when on even a low-end new machine, it flies.

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  35. John said on March 24, 2008 at 10:41 am


    Now that you have had a day to bask in the glow of the accolades, can you address the lighting issue at 33 seconds in? It appears the camera was left on auto-adjustment and opened up as Swifty entered the door. But the light from the fixture floods the frame. Did the filming crew have a discussion about this or was it discovered in post-production?

    Also, Swifty’s head was shining pretty bright during the phone conversation. Was there a discussion about applying more (or some) pancake makeup?

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  36. nancy said on March 24, 2008 at 10:58 am

    Well, we definitely talked about his shiny head. We decided to leave it alone because we thought it fit the scene — he was in a kitchen with an overhead light, and that’s the sort of thing overhead lights do. Eventually we thought it was a mistake we could live with.

    As for the sneakin-through-the-doorway shot, that was a pain in the ass from the get-go — the camera operator on his belly, the camera propped up with a stack of paperbacks, etc. No one mentioned the aperture adjustment, so THANKS A LOT, JOHN, for giving me another flaw to focus on. What I remember about that was the light on his face, which was accomplished with two hand-held flashlights. I held one of them, and yet, I didn’t insist on a credit; there is no end to my generosity.

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  37. brian stouder said on March 24, 2008 at 11:13 am

    I held one of them, and yet, I didn’t insist on a credit;

    I think that makes you a ‘gaffer’ or a ‘best boy’, or some such

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  38. John said on March 24, 2008 at 11:45 am


    It is obvious that your five minute film has 100s of man-hours invested in it. The production quality is apparent. I merely asked because I want to know what the filmmakers’ thinking process is, especially during the time critical shooting of a scene. Details like these make me appreciate truly magnificent films. I watched “The Third Man” yesterday morning (my Netflix movie of the week) so I have been spoiled.

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  39. nancy said on March 24, 2008 at 11:51 am

    I know, darlin’. I’m just funnin’ ya.

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  40. basset said on March 24, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    that’s exactly what I was doing, JC… Final Cut Pro HD 4 on a 2004 G5 with 10.3.9, cut audio on Soundtrack, fiddle around with still pictures in Photoshop Elements (my needs are small there), everything worked fine and stable.

    then I got that damn iPod for Christmas. requires 10.4 so I said what the hell, upgraded to Leopard and bought some more memory while I was at it.

    gonna repartition the drive Wed. night so it’ll still start up in 10.3.9 and I can have Photoshop and Studio Pro back. assuming I can find them, along with the original system disk, or cruise eBay for cheap out of date versions.

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