Monday, April 26, 2010

HK Film History Lesson

Recently I stumbled upon a DVD store, of which my having knowledge of is extremely perilous to my wallet/bank account, it's called $5.99 DVD Funhouse and it's a store full of DVD's for $5.99 or less. Now most of these are movies bought in bulk from places like BlockBuster when they went out of business and are resold at a liquidated price. Actually, most of these are DVD's that have been used as rental DVD's have have merely been put back into their cases and repackaged and sold as though they're new. I actually have no problem with that because, hey, it's $5.99, they were at some point in time real and all the ones I bought worked, some were even legit new, even if the casing for The Dark Knight had a French version. I, however, digress, because that is far from the point.

At this DVD store I bought John Woo's "Hard Boiled," a movie I've seen before, (about 2 years ago) and a movie I decided to re-watch recently (meaning today). Watching it again I realized something I noticed last time but couldn't quite put my finger on; the entire movie is ADR'd.

Now, for you not film people, ADR, or "Automated Dialogue Replacement," is a process by which you call your actors back in, after shooting, into a studio to re-record their lines, which is done by their staring up at a screen playing clips of themselves and trying to match their lips from whenever they shot those scenes. This process is done when you have un-usable production track or no production track, and a lot of Hollywood movies insist on redoing the entire movie in ADR if one scene was done "for the sake of continuity," but I think that notion is kind of silly, especially if you have a good sound mixer, both for production and post.

Anyway, I wondered why they might do that for "Hard Boiled,". I mean, aside from the obvious scenes (explosions and guns and water and etc) there are plenty of scenes that are in places or shots where ADR simply is not needed, and, from my ability to notice the inconsistencies in audio anyways, other, more recent productions have not ADR'd the entire film. This is when I remembered something my Camera II teacher, John Crawford, told me last year.

"The Arri 353 was the workhorse of the HK movie industry." Now again, for you non-film people, the Arri 353 is a film camera that shoots 35mm film and is extremely durable and versatile, only one thing; it's MOS.

MOS, again, for you non film people, is a term that started appearing thanks to our German brethren, who would say, for scenes without sound, "Mit Out Sound," just imagine a heavy German accent saying that and it makes a lot more sense and becomes quite amusing. So, as a joke, we started saying "MOS" and it just kind of stuck.

Back to the Arri 353, for those of you who don't know, the camera is "MOS," not because it doesn't record sound, (though it doesn't) on film sets, picture and sound is recorded separately and married together in post (which is why you see a clapper; so the assistant editor, apprentice editor or post house (or whomever's doing it) can sync the sound with the clap later). No, the 353 is a silent camera, paradoxically because it is NOT a silent camera, it is actually quite annoyingly loud, sounding like a blender when its running. (Yea, try and get that out of your production track).

Anyway, I bring this all up because I began to wonder; hey, if these guys could ADR this entire film, how difficult would it be for me to ADR an entire film. I wonder if I should try it.

Then I decided that I would wistfully ponder that question until I actually had to sit in those ADR sessions, at which point I would just want to kill myself for being so dumb. If I did, however, I would at least make sure to get reference track.

Besides, its not like we really care about what the people are saying in this film, it's John Woo, not Wang Kar-Wai (though we don't really care that much about what people say in his movies either, but it's slightly more important).

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Friend: I don't know your situation, but it sounds like you were holding out for something better then something came along.

Me: Story of my life.

Friend: That's a terrible idea, because everything always leads somewhere.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Midnight Musings

Riding on the highway I stared blankly into the darkened sky. Through the night a hint of clouds poked through the darkness, their usual pure bright white now a muddled grey. Their ever transient faces read clearly of cartoon friends made a childhood ago. Images of desires too late to ever be realized flash through my mind as these nostalgic friends from a lifetime ago gradually dissipate to nothingness. I want to preserve their nebulous forms; a reminder of a past life for all eternity, yet I am reminded that one of the greatest mistakes of man is trying to make last forever what was never meant to.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Things worth Checking Out

Secret of Kells made an appearance as the other animated feature nominated for an academy award this year that no one knew anything about/heard about.

Recently I've had the opportunity to catch a screening of it with a friend of mine and here's what I thought:

If you get the chance to see it it's worth checking out. The story is pretty decent, though it could use some work in various places, but one needs to keep in mind that this film, although it heads in that direction occasionally, is not an action film, which is a significant point because I kept wanting the main character to discover some secret magic powers and defeat the wave of impending doom. This film is probably a lot more poignant as a book or written story than as a movie as the complex internal conflicts of each character are more easily explored on paper than it is on screen.

The animation is pretty good, though the animation student in me winces at some movements and reactions that suffer from poor timing, but it happens and is a side note/me being picky. The design on the other hand, is phenomenal and a wonderful throwback to traditional 2-d animation and watercolor backgrounds. That alone is enough of a reason for me to check it out, which i recommend everyone do.

On another note, one thing that is significantly more exciting than Secret of Kells is that recently I had the opportunity to go out and finally buy the "Wallace and Grommit Complete Collection," which includes the movies "A Grand Day Out," "The Wrong Trousers," "A Close Shave," and "A Matter of Loaf and Death," all 30 minute movies and all wonderfully brilliantly British -- and amazing. I recommend that everyone go out and buy this collection and plop themselves down for 2+ hours of amazing comedy that just works. If you're not familiar with Wallace and Grommit, you're missing out and you need to go out and become familiar with them immediately.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Unpaid Internships Illegal?

According to a New York Times Article written last Friday, most unpaid internships are illegal. (This article is worth reading, especially since it'll go into the details much better than I will even attempt to.

This being said, all the internships I have done have been unpaid and I am currently in an unpaid internship right now and I can say easily that there are things that make them worthwhile and things that don't. Having discussed this with several of my peers, we have all come to the conclusion that internships have strayed far from the path they were originally on, most now having their interns go out and get coffee or answer phones; all menial tasks. I have experienced this easily in past internships and even now in my current internship I occasionally experience it.

At the same time, however, I still believe that, especially in my field, it's vital to have such internships (because there are few, if any, paid internships) because the mere networking opportunities are, in and of themselves, valuable. I was fortunate to make one of those connections through my current internship, though it is difficult to make those connections in all internships; my previous internship I made no valuable connections, so in my opinion, unpaid internships are a shot in the dark in terms of good or bad. Sure, I'd like to make money doing what I do, but the way I see it, no one else is hiring and it's always better to do something than nothing.

I would love to hear opinions on this though.

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Note On Cakes

Cakes are only enjoyable when you're making them for someone who deserves it, otherwise they're just a sour reminder of how you're an idiot.