This is not a top # list of movies for ’17, but my favorite recent film that I saw on the big screen (it’s flaws aside) was Colossal (which actually came out in ’16). The best viewing experience I had was seeing Vagabond on 35mm during the Olympia Film Festival. The best movie I took a photograph of while watching was Eyes Wide Shut. I hate dissolves as transitions, but I’m rethinking them now (the picture I took is below). The worst movie I saw was Valerian. Though, it was entertaining in an awful way. That translates to the possibility of me still buying it on Blu-ray and using it as a TV screensaver. You can read my reviews of Colossal and Valerian right here on Protozoic. Happy ’18.
In the oncoming glare of 2017’s swift approach, it is hard to believe that this blog is still going. It’s not updated as frequently as it used to be, but it is here, alive and well.
In part, the lack of posts are due to the fact that when Tim and I set up Protozoic, it was meant to be a clearing house for post-Chook projects. As the years passed, the smorgasbord video heyday became harder to do because the gang got dispersed all over the U.S. Additionally, my avocation of filmmaking slowly became my vocation. The things I’m involved in now seem to drag on for years – scripts, films, ideas, etc. This summer I am planning on shooting a short film with some colleagues here, and one day – who knows – there might even be an H.P. Thomcraft III, a Delmarva Dawn. After all, the Russians had a compound on the Eastern Shore. Times sure are weird.
Until those limbo projects materialize, I thought I’d set myself another goal of seeing 12 films in the cinema this coming year and then post about them here. Admittedly, that is not the most lofty and soaring of goals, but I don’t get to the theatre that much; I never have. Most of my watching has always been confined to home-viewership.
We have two very good theaters here in Olympia, WA. The first is the Capitol Theater, run by the Olympia Film Society, which shows international and independent films, movie retrospectives and rereleases, and hosts an assortment of other events. Over this past holiday I caught Joe Dante’s Gremlins (1984), arguably the best Christmas movie ever committed to celluloid. In January they are screening Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm (1979) in 4K, which will be incredible, and could prove to be the best thing J.J. Abrams has touched in recent memory. The other theater is the Century Olympia run by Cinemark, which would otherwise be an unassuming multiplex in a mall if for the fact it didn’t have electric reclining seats.
See you in the new year.
I’m not going to write much about this other than to say it’s pretty cool. A new Super 8 camera from Kodak! It looks pretty neat with a lot of modern features.
Looks like it will in the $400-750 range.
H.P. Thomcraft sojourns to a cloudy living room in an undisclosed location of the nether-regions/places to weave three hazy tales of mystery and murk while playing a most deadly game of death. “H.P. Thomcraft’s Game of Pawns” is the sequel to the water-logged “H.P. Thomcraft’s Box of Tales.”
I will be pulling the post down this coming Sun. in order to submit to festivals. I just wanted participants and readers of Protozoic to get a preview.
*** This video will be back on Protozoic soon! ***
Some years ago, the very end of 2010/beginning of 2011 to be exact, we filmed1 a sequel to H.P. Thomcraft. H.P. Thomcraft II was the incredibly original working title. Mike and I decided to ‘go big’ with HPT II (as I will refer to it from now on) and shoot it on 16mm film, with a Super 16 ARRI and a Zeiss lens2. Not only were we going to shoot it on film, instead of just getting it converted to video and color corrected, we were going to get it scanned and get the raw frames delivered in DPX format3. A couple weeks later, I got a drive in the mail with 270 gigabytes of files which contained our 20 minutes of raw footage. I posted some quick frame grabs to Protozoic 4 years ago, with the following text:
Here are a couple screen grabs from H.P. Thomcraft II. More soon.
Boy was that a lie.
The plan was for me to color correct the footage after Mike edited it using a process involving conforming the raw footage to the final edit using EDLs. If that sounds like a mouthful, it is. I eventually tested out the process and it seemed like it would work, though the color correction software, Color, had some stability issues. This was sometime around May 2011. I then waited for Mike to edit the footage.
Mike was pretty busy with things. I don’t recall with what, but it was some significant time before he got to editing together the short. So long that I forgot the process I had worked out. So long that the new version of OS X no longer supported Color, so I had to hold off updating OS X, which is the first time I had ever really done that.
I have an email from July 2012 from Mike stating that he was going to finish editing the footage soon. He finished a few weeks later. Around that time, I quit my job and moved to Ohio. I put off color correcting the footage because of that, and because I really wasn’t looking forward to trying to figure out the process again. Particularly since Mike had done a reasonably intricate cut with a lot of edits, which would make color correcting that more annoying. So I put it off for the rest of 2012. And 2013. I even managed to put it off all of 2014.
All through this time, I’ve held off updating OS X. I’m still on 10.7.5. I think OS X is on 10.10.2 now. That’s a lot of updates and it’s caused me no end of problems with a lot of my software. Moral of the story: Procrastination can have some unintended consequences. Don’t do it.
So I was talking to Mike this weekend that I should really get on it. I told him my worries about the complicated workflow we had planned and he said, “Color correct the raw footage. I’ll just re-edit it.” Well in that case… I had the raw footage all corrected a few hours later. We are in the process of transferring the 47 gigs of files over the internets as I write this. Mike thinks he’ll be able to edit it again in a couple of days, so H.P. Thomcraft II will actually get done shortly. I will take most of the blame for it’s incredible delay.
Maybe I can finally update my fucking computer now.
And when I say ‘filmed’ it, we did indeed film it. It was shot on Kodak Vision 2 50D and Vision3 200T on a Super 16mm camera. While digital is amazing, these are really some beautiful films and represent the pinnacle of the technology. Yes, I know Vision3 50D was released. I’m happy that I got to shoot something on these film emulsions before they all go away. ↩
Zeiss lenses are universally acclaimed, but the Zeiss Super 16 conversion zoom lens we shot this film on was less than spectacular. Granted, a 16mm frame is pretty tiny and 1080p can really highlight some defects. Despite that, the Zeiss really broke down at the wider focal lengths. Of course, I tend to gravitate to wider focal lengths, so there a few shots which are mighty fuzzy. Also, one scene has a nasty flare right in the middle of the frame. I tried to correct it in post, but it was a pretty clumsy fix. I think it was a 10-100mm T2.2 lens, but I don’t fully recall now. ↩
The DPX file format is pretty cool. It’s pretty old too—over 20 years old. Someone pretty smart came up with the idea of fitting the huge dynamic range available in film into just 10 bits using a logarithmic scheme instead of linear to store values. ↩
Dangers of Honesty is a movie that I was involved with a year or so back. It tells about a young man struggling with drug addiction and coping with the loss of a loved one. The movie was produced and written Jonny Gillis, who also appears in the lead role as well as a couple other movies here on Protozoic. (Take a look at Jugular, written and produced by Andrew Salerno, who was responsible for the cinematography in Dangers of Honesty.) The movie was shot on location in Chestertown, MD (at Thom’s house) and in Harper’s Ferry, WV.
Here’s another short film shot on the Jazz DV151. It is about sending Fred a postcard. My shaky camera work aside, the film gives a better sense of the camera’s capabilities, especially in low light where the gain gets cranked up. I noticed at times that the camera has a mild sound sync loss. I would also note that about an hour into recording the footage, I finally had to switch the batteries (and I’d been using it a couple days prior also). The camera runs off of double A’s.
For interested parties, Megan will be posting the video on Melodic Insomniac also. She’ll probably have some different comments on it than I.