Archive for February, 2012

VFX Considerations

Posted in Hypothesis the 6th on February 29, 2012 by PoPS blog

Below is a picture someone found on a tumblr page called “YouTuber Confessions.” The photo was from a shoot we did a while ago, someone downloaded it, added the in-picture captions, and re-posted it. I love stuff like this. LOVE IT.

That's me and my friends!!!

I saw that a while ago, but it felt weird looking at my blog post on NexTV last week with only words on it. This last week I’ve completed a draft of Ep6 Act 2 with temp score and all. I really like the way this episode is coming together.

I’ve also been corresponding with the VFX guys this last week. There are SO MANY effects shots in this episode. The real situation isn’t the amount of effects (okay, maybe it is a little) but that the effects last for such a long time on screen. They’re not quick shots. There are dialogue scenes that have effects stringing through them over the course of a conversation. I love the idea of that. It’s kind of a very distilled version of what appeals to me about our show; that powers wouldn’t always be used in intense situations. People would actually use them while hanging out and when they’re bored. Using them wouldn’t be any big thing. And taking a character who uses them out of hand and taking a really long time getting him to a place where he’s realizing their true potential. I feel like this episode really addresses that core idea nicely.

But back to my point. We’ve been watching a lot of Supernatural recently and that’s an amazing looking show that really uses effects about as well as anybody can, in my opinion. Great stuff. There’s no way an episode of PoPS could have as many per-episode effects in it if it was a show on TV. The budget per episode would be ridiculous and the length of post-pro would be impossible for a weekly show. We do this ourselves and it takes 6 to 7 months an episode. Of course it could happen faster with a professional FX team splitting up the work and if everyone was doing it 10 hours a day every day instead of fitting it in around paying work, but it still wouldn’t work out. Watch any episode of a typical VFX heavy show and then think about how many ACTUAL EFFECTS SHOTS are in it. Smallville, Heroes, Supernatural, etc. A regular episode—maybe 4 or 5 big ones, 10 to 15 small ones, or a combination of the two. An episode of PoPS has between 20 to 40 effects shots in it depending on the storyline and episodes 6 and 7 have an insane amount of VFX shots in them. They’re more like little movies then they are episodes of a TV show. I’m can’t wait to see some of these shots coming in. It’s going to be amazing.

Thanks for reading, guys.


PoPS update 103-Two Acts Down

Posted in Hypothesis the 6th on February 26, 2012 by PoPS blog

Accolades or Audience?

Posted in Hypothesis the 6th on February 22, 2012 by PoPS blog

So this is going to be a little strange. As a blogger for NexTV, it feels weird to talk about what’s on my mind this week. I’ve been thinking a lot about the voting for the “Straight to the Finals” competition currently underway. Given that it was winning the “Straight to the Finals” voting in the web series competition last year that resulted in me blogging for NexTV, I thought it might be unfair for me to mobilize the audience again when I entered the Directing Competition. Randy told me to go for it and reminded me not to get too cocky just because we managed to win the vote last time. Fair enough. I jumped in. The new website has a very handy feature that shows you how many votes each entrant has accrued if you hover the cursor over their name. That’s just awesome. And really really addictive. I suddenly found myself checking everyone’s numbers and watching the content of anyone who had more than 25 votes. There’s some really good stuff in there. Some of it was so good that I had to investigate further and soon found myself reading other web series blogs and finding out about all sorts of festivals I didn’t know existed. It ended up really crystallizing some things that have been in the back of my mind for a while.

We have a staggeringly amazing audience for PoPS. They watch and re-watch the episodes; they comment, converse, and draw fan art; they gave us over $15,000 to make our latest episode; and they always come out to vote for us when we’re in competitions like this. Some of them even repost on Facebook and Twitter on our behalf trying to rally their friends who haven’t seen the show. They’re awesome. The first wave of voters is drying up right now and we’ve got 1,858 votes, currently putting us about 1,300 ahead of everybody else. Now, it’s still really early, so there’s plenty of time for everybody else to destroy us, but this is what got me thinking—

In going around looking up everybody’s stuff, I found this Nathan Atkison dude who’s also in the Directing Competition. Awesome stuff! Looks gorgeous, paced great. Dude’s an award winning director at other festivals and his show has won multiple awards including friggin’ Streamies—currently, 77 votes. What? So I check their YouTube page. Why does this awesome, award-winning show only have 1,000 subscribers?

It made the whole thing feel like a crap shoot. Sure, we have an amazing audience of over 35,000 subscribers, but the only festivals that have ever accepted us have been ones with an audience voting section and we’ve never been nominated for any kind of award. Then I went to their website and saw the section they created called For Your Consideration, where they highlighted everyone’s contributions with quotes and clips to back everything up. It’s gorgeous. They’ve created an amazing awards-consideration package as one tiny part of a beautifully comprehensive website. Our site is bare bones by comparison, but when we’re not making the show we’re working on building the audience. [Side note: I was just about to email our web designer a copy of their site with a note like: “Can we copy this?” But then I realized if he started working on our site he’d stop working on VFX for Ep6 and I REALLY don’t want that.]

So I guess if you’re not The Guild, it’s going to come down to one or the other. My question to you is this: If you can’t have both, which would you rather have: The accolades or the audience? I’ve never had the accolades, but as much as I desperately want them, I’d find it hard to give up even a single watcher.

If you can handle the violence, check out Compulsions, y’all. It’s a hell of a good piece of work.


PoPS video update 102-Directing Competition

Posted in Hypothesis the 6th on February 19, 2012 by PoPS blog

Click here to follow the steps and vote!!!

The Dawn of Favor Death

Posted in Hypothesis the 6th on February 15, 2012 by PoPS blog

Well, it’s finally happened. I couldn’t complete a favor video in a timely manner. Every no-to-low-budget filmmaker is intimately acquainted with the favor video. Hell, it pretty much knocks on the door two minutes after you know your way around an editing program. There might actually be a hidden protocol buried inside every pro-sumer editing suite that sends an email to your address book the first time you successfully figure out how to export an H.264. It’s just how it goes. And that’s great, I’ve had a lot of fun working on favor videos. I’ve been doing favor videos for 18 years now and I’ve always been good with turnaround times and people have been happy. Now that PoPS has become kind of a thing, all of my favor projects have been stacking up. I’d shoot something for somebody and then get involved doing PoPS stuff instead of editing it. There’s always something PoPS related to do when I get home from work and it’s time to start working on not-work work.

What about that video I shot on one of the most impressive antique furniture collections ever assembled? Nope. It sits there unedited. There’s easily 20 hours of footage collected there and I haven’t touched it in months. And three months ago I agreed to shoot a video for a friend of mine who always does favors for me. PoPS favors even. He’s actually heavily involved in the show. Three months after shooting it, I still haven’t cut anything together. That’s when the text messages start to take on a different tone. Every communication that touches on the subject has that perfect barb of disappointment attached to it, waiting for me to snag my nicely woven friendship on it. Whether it’s my friend’s disappointment or my own disappointment with myself is impossible to say. I HATE being the guy that flakes. I despise it. I always want to think of myself as being better than that. But now that I have a project with a little bit of buzz on it, everything else gets backburnered while I turn up the heat on the thing that people are watching. Does that make me a bad friend? Yeah, I think so.

I have about 20 hours a week that I can spend working on video projects outside of my 40 to 50 hour real job before I start to go crazy. Lately, I’ve been finding it pretty impossible to muster up the enthusiasm to work on anything other than the show during those 20 hours.

Hell, I did a favor video for an area public library that runs a wonderful program for children from a low-income school system, put it on YouTube as a part of a charity video day, and that thing went crazy. It had 120,000 views 3 days after it went up. Right now it has 218,516 views. I’ve attached it below for the curious and charitable:

That video had everything going for it: Cute kids whose library is in danger, an amazing regionally created program that can serve as a fantastic model for similar communities across the country, and twice as many views as my show has ever gotten. I should have been crazy-fulfilled. It’s still like pulling teeth getting me to work on anything other than PoPS.

The fact that I finally have an active community engaged in my passion project has finally made me a friend you can’t trust to do you a favor. Even if you’re a low-income child whose literacy is being threatened, I’m more interested in my made up super powered slackers. Oh, the internet, the horrifying things you’ve taught me about myself.

Catch you next week, readers.


PoPS video update 101-Settling into Post

Posted in Hypothesis the 6th on February 12, 2012 by PoPS blog

The Phenomenon of the Internet

Posted in Uncategorized on February 8, 2012 by PoPS blog

Sitting around talking about ourselves in the last update sure was fun. Afterward, when the cameras were turned off and the footage was safely pulled off the card, backed up, and started converting, we really started talking about the last three years. About how lucky we’ve been, how circumstances change, and the guys talked at me about expanding my expectations at a consistently mushrooming volume until my wife had to use her stern librarian voice on us. It was a great night. One provided me by the power of the internet.

The first NexTV blog post I ever wrote was about how it feels to suddenly find an audience for your work without ever getting a studio gig or an agent or an internship or any of the many steps that used to have to happen first. I used to write and direct shorts and small series projects in the hopes of getting them into festivals so that SOMEONE would be watching what I was doing. Now I know that the thing that I’m working on is going to be seen by tens of thousands of people, publicly discussed by at least hundreds, and looked to as a source of inspiration. Oh, man, I would never say that out loud. That sounds so pompous, but I’ve received many “PoPS is my inspiration” messages and emails. That’s just unbelievable. I love that. But I’ve written about that before.

Today I’d like to address the other phenomenon created by the internet: Donald Glover syndrome. Donald Glover is an actor on the show Community. He’s a really funny, charismatic guy. He’s also a writer. He does stand-up and he was a writer on 30 Rock before he was on Community. He was (is?) a member of Derrick Comedy, a comedy trio that made internet videos and the indie movie Mystery Team. All of these things say comedy. Then you hear that Donald Glover is also a rapper by the name of Childish Gambino. What do you expect? Comedy rap, right? Nope. Dude is a real rapper. His stuff isn’t geared to be comedic. It’s only funny because it’s very cleverly written, but it’s not there to make you laugh. Here he is talking about his success and what he raps about.

What he’s talking about was practically impossible before the internet. Someone who had branded themselves as a comedian wouldn’t be able to simultaneously re-brand themselves as a serious rapper. But he was releasing his own music on the internet for years before that, so it wasn’t like there was this TV comedian and his ill-fated vanity project. It flew because he had been working on it for years and people were listening. He showed everyone that he could draw an audience with just himself and the internet, so imagine if someone threw a marketing campaign behind him. I call it Donald Glover syndrome, simply because Donald Glover is awesome. It’s just another way of saying that once you’ve created a presence on the internet, you’ve really opened up your options for what you can explore. It’s a weird time. It’s badass.

Speaking of badass:

How’s about that for some sound design? Go, Joss, go!

Happy Whedon Wednesday, everyone. Thanks for reading.


PoPS video update 100-A Look Back

Posted in Non Ep Specific on February 5, 2012 by PoPS blog

Back to the Editing Room

Posted in Hypothesis the 6th on February 1, 2012 by PoPS blog

I’m a little pressed for time with this week’s blog post, so please excuse the brevity. In the last video update I mention a long interview with me and my lovely wife. I thought I would include a link to that article for those interested in such things:

Interview on International House of Geek

I’ve done a couple interviews for the show at this point, and though I’m frequently on the other side of this process for my job at the magazines, I find I feel quite inept when it comes to being interviewed. I bet it’s one of those skills that people pick up through experience, but I find myself sometimes answering questions that weren’t asked of me and having to loop around to focus in on the interviewer’s actual question. It’s probably just a matter of being overexcited.

I’m now trying to segue back into the post production process of working at least 2 hours a night. After a day at work, I mostly find myself wanting to do nothing but watch Supernatural or Downton Abbey and snack on everything I lay eyes on, but once I make myself sit at the computer and open up the EP6 project file, I get wrapped up in it pretty immediately. I’m very excited about this episode. I’ve cut together the 5-minute teaser with a temp score, isolated the effects shots for uploading to Ryan’s FTP, and moved on to Act 1, of which I currently have two minutes assembled. Good grief, that sentence sounded so technical and professional. I think mostly because it concluded with a phrasing that was very aware of front-loading its preposition. Yikes. When I write a blog post too quickly it gets very stream of consciousness.

Sorry about the brevity. Next week marks the 3-year anniversary of us filming EP1 of PoPS. That’s some crazy noise right there.

Thanks for reading.