Editing: Built my first sequence in Final Cut Pro today, 3:45 at the airport (the opening scenes of the movie). I must say, it's too long, and there are some cheats in it, but I kind of like it. If I could get my infrared working on the Powerbook, I'd post the draft version. But as I'm finding out (the hard way), what I don't know about Mac connectivity can fill several books (and costs me precious time).


Exposure and lighting from cut to cut is a huge factor, or at least it's very distracting to me right now. I'm hoping we'll be able to finesse some of it away with color balancing and other post effects. In the mean time, I'm just trying to assure at least some kind of complementarity, if not actual continuity, in the light of abutting cuts.


Music: Once again, SoMa FM proves a great editing companion. This morning they streamed LTJ Bukem's Inward Journey, a drum-and-bass CD set that has a couple of really chill, contemplative tracks on it. What I didn't know about ambient, jungle, and drum-and-bass could fill... etc., etc.


What else happened today: My friends' newly renamed memorial to the World Trade Center went live tonight. We watched from the Hudson River as the switch was thrown. From our first angle, the two beams overlapped almost perfectly. From other points, though, including Canal and Greenwich Streets, 6th Avenue & West 4th, and other stops on my way home, the beam were perfectly delineated. John et al had paid special attention to the proportional spacing and the crisp edge between the towers, and the lights communicate that amazingly well. In fact, I just found Gustavo's comments on Slate: "...in effect, we're not rebuilding the towers themselves, but the void between them."


And while there was a sense of sadness building up before the lighting, I surprise myself by how comforting it is to see something again in the skyline. That something there--again, still--could be an unexpected solace for people who worried that only the buildings themselves are being remembered.

March 11, 2002

"Please join me in a

"Please join me in a moment of silence. The second plane has just struck the second tower." -NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg


Is remembering reliving?

Is it inspiration or masochism to watch a movie like Robert Altman's brilliantly acted (and interwoven) Short Cuts while editing your first short? Whichever, it's a little late now, since the credits are running.


Problems getting the firewire hub to work meant I've had to log and capture all the footage in 10Gb batches, filling up the G4's hard drive and then swapping the camera for the external drive. And since I only learned of Final Cut's "Move Media" command today, I've been dragging all the media files to corresponding folders on the big drive. THIS means having to relink each media file through FCP, since the file location and path has changed. Extra needless work, lots of it. But I'm gaining a familiarity with the footage and the software that'll speed along decisions over the next few days as we assemble the first sequences.


Rough schedule for the week:

  • Build sequences for the first half of the movie, including the airport, phone conversations, early driving scenes, and the gas station stop.
  • Purge a lot of media that doesn't have a chance of making it into these sequences. Fill this disk space with more options for the middle and end sequences (the encounters in town, visit to the crater and the memorial).
  • By Thursday Assemble rough sequences and alternatives for these scenes, creating the first complete cut of the movie.
  • Go over these sequences with Jonah, doing real edits
  • Weekend: Status check and review full cut with Connie Walsh, another video artist and editor, with whom I met Saturday.
  • Also on tap: Meet with graphic designer for poster/photo, DVD, tape and press kit design.

    In the mean time, Elliot Gould is trying to fool his cat by putting cheap cat food into the expensive can in The Long Goodbye. Sorry, but four hours of Altman a night is my limit.

  • March 8, 2002

    Log log log log. It's

    Log log log log. It's not making for much weblog weblog weblog weblog, though. After 1) a powerbook, 2) an external drive, 3) a new charger/AC cable for the camera, 4) a new Firewire connector for same, 5) a Firewire hub, 6) Final Cut Pro software, and 7) the FCP for Idiots manual, I've been logging in and capturing media (i.e., video and audio) at an increasingly rapid pace.


    As of this evening, half the tapes have been done, taking up slightly less than half the space on my new hard drive. I'm much more selective of what gets captured from the third tape on, I notice; even though I log nearly every shot, I'm only taking the ones I really want to try using (emphasis on the really). That means there's a huge pile of driving shots from the first tape I did that won't get used. Live and learn. While the Mac captures video, I search for music on my PC. Thomas Tallis' 40-part motet, Spem in Alium, is a candidate now; I wrote about it around the genesis of the project, and it was on exibit in NYC in November, when the script takes place.


    Meeting with an editor/artist friend tomorrow to discuss next steps. Will keep the posting posted. Meeting with a branding friend Monday to discuss press kits, posters, video/DVD's, website, etc.

    FINALLY. It's taken almost all week to get the system set up properly, but I started capturing and digitizing the tapes into Final Cut Pro. One thing after another: firewire 4- vs 6-pin, extensions for firewire hubs, replacement AC cable for the camera, the right hard drive (settled on the QPS M3, a truly portable 80Gb 7200rpm one).


    In the mean time, there were taxes, joint brokerage account problems to deal with, and (happily) my wife's birthday (now that she's 16, I can openly call her my wife. And I won't have to drive her everywhere anymore.). Jonah had an installation in a show that opened tonight, so I ran over to see it. Looks amazing. Reminds me (as does the footage I'm logging in) how attuned he is to light. Gotta get the next batch. seeya.

    March 5, 2002

    Has it been that long?

    Has it been that long? Jet lag's lasted longer than normal. Fall asleep during The Daily Show, up before NPR Morning Edition.


    Jonah came back Sunday; picked him up at JFK (a very non-NYC thing to do, I know. Getting a car >> encroaching suburban mindset). He shot some more airport stuff on his own. He kept the camera through the weekend, partly because I had to carry back some precariously wrapped art I'd bought nearly two years ago from Chantal Crousel. Of course Chantal and Niklas were in NYC for the Armory Show. Alice gets back today; we're meeting to go through all the shot logs, expenses, etc.


    Been logging our rushes, generating time code lists which we'll use to digitize the footage in a day or so. For audio, we mapped audio tracks to each take while on location. After we edit using the camera audio, we'll go back and lay down synchronized MiniDisc audio just for those scenes that make the cut. Right now it takes me about 90 minutes to log a 60-minute tape. It could go a little faster if I could get time codes to show up on my monitor. Any Sony VX-1000 experts out there who can tell me how to do this?


    Music: Jonah and I talked about it again, and the current idea is for "pensive ambient carpeting." Anything too immediately identifiable is frowned upon right now. Saturday was Bjorkfest, where I filled in my CD collection and listened to all her albums straight through. Here's what I've found so far (in addition to the Morricone and Orozco songs mentioned below:

  • A couple of tracks on Debut
  • Visur Vatnsenda-Rosu, an Icelandic track not on any US album [will add links later]
  • Downtown, Bjork's cover of Petula Clark's classic (haven't found it yet, but I want to hear it and see)
  • Ambient/trance tracks from Planet Soma's Drone Zone stream on Shoutcast, like TUU's Shiva Descending
  • Circular 1's Drifting, and
  • DJ Food's Kaleidescope


    Purely for editing purposes, you understand (and to avoid driving Jonah crazy by camping out on his Mac), I thought I'd better cross the front lines myself and get a Mac. And a 100Gb external drive to walk the whole project around. Promptly seduced, I know own a G4 Titanium. I may never watch a DVD on my Thinkpad again. Oh, and I hate the new lamp-style iMac. Sorry.

  • Did I mention that Dodge, the main actor in the movie, was not, in fact, the main actor? I was at the airport in NYC, preparing to leave, and to meet Dodge the next morning at CDG, when he called from a military airbase. He's been stuck in Afghanistan, held there by his various employers (CBS News, Discovery Channel, etc.) and the US military for (it turns out) the launch of Operation Anaconda in the mountains near the Pakistani border.


    So, I ended up playing the American man in the movie, directing myself in the screenplay I wrote, based on an experience I had two years ago. Me, me, me, me, me. I think Greg has earned the right to talk about himself in the third person now. Besides, it'll be good practice for the press junket.

    March 1, 2002

    I'm home and damn tired.

    I'm home and damn tired. And I carried this sculpture back on the plane; it's been at the gallery in Paris for almost two years. It's six feet tall. Good night.

    February 28, 2002

    France Location Day 5: Fred

    France Location Day 5: Fred and Thomas went back to Paris Wednesday night. The rest of us stayed until Thursday morning. We got up at 7:00, checked out of our Twin Peaks castle, and rushed off to reshoot the approach to Thiepval. I wrote earlier that God was our co-pilot? Wrong. He was our key grip. The sun was at the exact height, with no clouds at all. As we drove up the empty hill, it came straight in the window of the car (Weíd sent the light kit back earlier, so as not to get hit with another dayís rental.). One take. Then we just popped over to the Memorial to see if we missed anything. Took a couple of fixed shots, on axis, very basic but very important.

    As we finished, the caretaker for the Memorial came over and asked if we were filming for TV. Technically, no, so we didnít need permission from the War Graves Commission. Then he offered to take us up to the top of the arch. (We had to leave the big camera behind, but I took my Elph digital camera, which shoots AVI movies.) A million spiral stairs later, we got to the top, where the whole countryside came into view at once. Crystal clear, with maybe 15-20 other memorials and cemeteries in view.

    The contrast between this pastoral landscape and the hellish condition it was in during the four years of fighting was amazing, but hard to visualize. Farmers and villagers moved back to pulverized villages within months, and restoration, reconstruction, and recuperation of the area took place on a massive scale. The resemblance between wartime accounts and photos and todayís rural farmland is extremely faint. Just as the red zone in Manhattan shrank and the skyline reset itself in peopleís minds. Do peopleís accounts and memories themselves become the real markers when the site of a cataclysm is reclaimed?

    With questions like these, I feel like Iím writing a combination of Band of Brothers and Sex in the City.

    The day ended there, basically, as we jammed back to Paris to settle up, get equipment back, etc. Everything will cost 50-100% more than you first thought. The Gursky show at the Pompidou was much nicer at first because it was more spread out than at MoMA. But it became apparent that it was smaller and less satisfying, too. The Madonna picture he did has a monitor with the NY Skyline in it, a seeming homage to the city he shouldíve been shooting on September 13.

    Music possibilities: Tough. So much is uncertain for me. Right now, Iím considering Gabriel Orozcoís ìClinton is Innocentî and Ennio Morriconeís track, ìMichelangelo Antonioni,î by Caetano Veloso, which WNYC said was for the soundtrack of Le Professionel, starring Jean Paul Belmondo (but it's not). Last night at dinner, a friend suggested Bjork, which seemed an immediately excellent and natural option. Weíll take a listen. Any suggestions? [That spate of namedropping ought to lure a few people from the search engines.]

    Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

    Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

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