Archive for April, 2012

PoPS video update 112-Conquering VFX Fears

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

Talking Back

Posted in Hypothesis the 6th on April 25, 2012 by PoPS blog

This last week has been a rough one. I’ve been in touch with all of my post-pro posse and they’ve all informed me that they’re not even close to being done with their work. That’s everyone. VFX and music. This distressed me given that our original upload dates for episode 6 were this week. So I’m holding off on all of my finishing work, color correction and sound effects to work on as many VFX as I can to help get this thing to completion. At the same time we’re still looking at shooting episode 7 starting in late-May, early-June, so I’ve been sending out emails to locations and Eliza (my wife/co-producer) is going to start shuffling around shoot dates that don’t work for our actors and writing up character descriptions for the auditions we still need to hold.

So, while all of that is happening, our subscribership is getting more and more antsy. I certainly don’t blame them. We’re looking at 9 months without a new episode. We did a whole bunch of things to try and condense the time between episodes and it just made the process longer with everything we tried. Not great. Frankly, I’m surprised more people haven’t unsubscribed, but it brings me to what I want to talk about today.

It feels impossible to talk about this without seeming ungrateful, but I live on the edge, so here we go…

If a certain amount of time goes by without a new episode I start to get comments from people in the updates along these lines:

“SO MANY UPDATES, SO FEW EPISODES! Unsubscribed. You must suck at editing if it takes you this long.”

or

“If you don’t upload an episode soon, I’m going to unsubscribe. I didn’t sub for the updates, why don’t you put them on another channel?”

or, in one extreme example, someone posted on my YouTube channel comments saying something pretty close to this:

“You probably never even thought about making a new episode, just took everyone’s donations and sat on your ass wasting everyone’s time and money. What a waste of time. I hate your stupid f***ing show, I hope you get cancer.”

Now, sure, the last one must have had something else going on at which they couldn’t direct their rage, and just decided to throw it in my direction, because there’s NO WAY anyone could be that upset about a low budget show on the internet, but for the other ones I have a pretty standard response:

“You should probably unsubscribe.”

If they feel the need to threaten me with their subscription, I don’t want them around. Plain and simple. If they donated to the show on one of our fundraisers I feel like I really let them down, because they’re contributing to the show and wanted to actually help us, but most of these people are simply subscribers. Don’t misunderstand; I appreciate every single person who’s interested enough in what we’re doing to subscribe to it. I read every comment that comes in and I’ve taken to heart constructive criticism and genuine appreciation, but I also take the rest of it to heart. The people who think I’m jumping through these production hoops for their one subscription can take a hike. These guys seem to think if they unsubscribe, we’ll stop making the show. It’s the same jags who subscribe with a comment like, “That video just earned my subscription.” It’s like, “Finally! GarageArsonist5342 finally subscribed to us, guys! We did it! I gotta call my mom and tell her!”

A lot of other people on the boards back me up when I tell them to just unsubscribe, so I figure that’s pretty fair game. But sometimes someone just says something flat out like a hit and run. These ones are like:

“That fight scene suuuuucked.”

or

“This show could be great if it had a different director.”

or, even the people who are really nice can do it, like:

“I love the show! Great writing and I love all the characters, especially Donald, but can’t you guys make it faster? It can’t possibly take 7 months to make a half hour show.”

Most of the time, I just pretend to let these slide. Notice I say PRETEND, because every one of them bursts through the creative pride ventricle in my heart and out my back in a perfect, hollow-point, through and through. Even the low caliber negative comments are armor piercing. But if I can’t take it and I have to say something…like if someone insults a fight scene I’ll say:

“I went to your channel, where were all the fight scenes?”

or

“Give it a shot. I look forward to seeing what you come up with.”

It all basically amounts to: I’d like to see you try better. And whenever I leave that kind of response there’s at least one random commenter (not even the person I responded to) who comes back with:

“Hey, that’s not cool. You’ve got to let this stuff slide off your back, man. Learn to ignore it.”

And to that I say–Why? Why do I have to ignore it? They get to criticize me, I can’t criticize their critical expertise? They seemed to have it all figured out when they were talking about what I was doing wrong, they should be able to discuss their opinion a little further. That or learn to ignore my response.

People don’t like having the fact that they’re not creating something thrown in their face when they’ve played critic. We critique everything around us every second of the day, it’s built into who we are. Therefore, people think they should be able to criticize without any repercussion whatsoever; they’ve had their say, mischief managed. The idea that they have to be able to better accomplish the thing they’ve just criticized becomes offensive enough that even strangers who happen upon the conversation feel like they’re being attacked, enough so that they’ll chime in a defend a random internet troll. I think it’s because we essentially become experts in anything we consume enough of. If we watch a ton of fight scenes, we have a high personal standard that any fight scene has to meet; it doesn’t mean we can choreograph and shoot one, just that we know what a good one looks like. That’s absolutely fair. If we were only allowed to judge the things we can do, we’d hardly be able to comment on anything, so maybe it is a little unfair of me, but sometimes I can’t help it. Drawing their attention to the difference between watching something and accomplishing it is sometimes the only card a lashing out entertainer has to hold on to. It always makes the critic feel a little worthless. And sometimes that’s the only way I can return the favor.

I guess what it comes down to is my desire to be treated the way I treat others. If I don’t like something, I don’t leave a comment or I don’t give it a good rating. If I stop being interested in a channel, I unsubscribe. I don’t tell them I’m unsubscribing. I should take solace in the fact that so many of my comments are good. I go to the comments section of Ain’t It Cool News and the unmitigated bastards in that comments section are unbelieveable. Every post has an outpouring of the worst kind of bile and hate that humanity has to offer. Good grief. Why do they even keep going to the site if they hate everything on it?

This is super long. Sorry. Blog-vent complete. Internet critics just need to accept that the comments section goes both ways.

Still working on the episode. I never stopped, no matter what they think.

Thanks for reading, guys.

–Jarvi

PoPS update 111-Lots of People

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

ADR and Internet Crossovers

Posted in Hypothesis the 6th on April 18, 2012 by PoPS blog

I don’t know what’s happening right now. Previously, if 6 months went by without an episode of PoPS coming out, people started going nuts on me. Not everybody, but enough to make it feel like I was making enemies. This time everyone is being really nice. I’m very pleased about that, but I don’t understand what’s changed as we plow through the eighth month without a new episode on the channel. I hope people remain this understanding.

The ADR sessions that I mentioned having to reschedule all came in, so I only need to make two more sessions happen before we’re totally done with episode 6 ADR. So there will be more of that footage in next week’s update.

There are plenty of effects shots that I have yet to see, and I’m starting to feel a little concerned with how much of the resolution of the episode is tied into massive effects shots, but I’ve almost completed the VFX for the episode teaser (intro, not trailer) myself, so I’ll be able to move forward on finalizing at least that section. More good news came our way in that one of the kids who wanted to volunteer his time on helping us with VFX was apparently not working on his first shot because his folks weren’t comfortable with him collaborating with people he met online. Fair enough, I say. But we just heard that his work ban has been lifted and he’s started tackling lightning effects. Good stuff. Welcome to the show, David.

I really really really need to start prepping for episode 7 shooting now if we’re planning on starting production at the end of May. Lots of casting that still needs to happen, a shooting schedule that’s been in need of reshuffling for weeks, and locations to find out about. If Eliza and I haven’t moved forward on that within the next week, I’ll be seriously disappointed.

This week’s random internet video comes from Max Landis. A couple of months ago, John Landis’s son and the writer of the runaway hit, superpowers flick, Chronicle, uploaded a video of himself comically rehashing the plots of the comics surrounding the death and return of Superman circa the early 90s. It’s filled with celebrity cameos and a ton of cursing, so buyer beware. It’s essentially a comics version of the drunk history videos found on Funny or Die. I just think it’s interesting that the writer of a hit film released his next thing straight to the internet via YouTube; probably while prepping bigger projects, but still, he followed Chronicle with a video he produced for fun for the internet. It’s a weird world we’re living in. Sidenote: I was originally terrified that Chronicle would totally be our show. Completely different things. So very completely. Here’s The Death and Return of Superman:

Thanks for reading.

-Jarvi

PoPS video update 110-Video 4 Life

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

Camera Phone Cleanup Responses

Posted in Hypothesis the 6th on April 11, 2012 by PoPS blog

I actually got quite a few people uploading videos as responses to my Camera Phone Clean-up. This week, instead of rambling on about post production, I thought I’d post a few of my favorite responses people sent me from their camera phones, mostly just a single clip uploaded straight from their phone, and one person that edited a bunch of their phone videos together like the one I did. I just think it’s interesting seeing what people want preserved. Probably none of these things would have been captured for posterity if it weren’t for the accessibility of digital video, but they were important to someone at some time and now they’re available online for anyone to find. I think that’s pretty cool.

Thanks for checking in, guys.

–Jarvi

PoPS video update 109-Camera Phone Clean-up

Posted in Hypothesis the 6th on April 8, 2012 by PoPS blog

Festivals and the Internet

Posted in Hypothesis the 6th on April 4, 2012 by PoPS blog

I am a relic of the pre-internet age. At 31, I’m not that far out of the loop, but I still instinctively react to things like I did pre-internet. Streaming video and people garnering online audiences for creating video content was popularized with YouTube and YouTube is only 7 years old, but that sucker was a fast-moving game changer.

Like, 9 weeks ago I had the core PoPS contributors over for the filming of the video update and we all reminisced for a bit. It was a lot of fun, but during discussions I mentioned that I submit every episode of PoPS to a couple of film festivals. There are a few film festivals that I always submit to, Fantastic Fest—the geek Mecca of festivals in Austin, TX, The Burbank Film Festival—because their screenings are on the Warner Bros. lot and I just want to go back there (I LOVE LOVE LOVE backlots, I’d love to screen on one and just hang out there), and, of course, the NexTV ones, because of the simple fact that industry eyes are on your content and I’ll take that pill as many times as I can. But after we stopped recording, my buddy Craig was like, “Why do you submit to festivals? You already have an audience.” That blew my mind. It got me to thinking.

People at one time submitted to festivals in the hopes of getting selected so that people would watch their stuff. Prior to the internet, it was one of the only routes open to everyone who wanted the eyes of strangers on their passion project. Pay an entry fee and at least SOMEONE is going to consider your work, if they liked it, they’d project it on a bigger screen for more eyeballs. Damn it, that sounded beautiful. I’ve had stuff in some smaller festivals and I’ve familiarized myself with that crowd. The folks dropping their rent money into making stuff just because they want to tell their story, the actors performing for nothing but credit who shake your hand after a screening with that little glint in their eye that just wants to hear someone say they did a good job, the one guy who sold his mini-dv opus straight-to-dvd and barely makes eye contact because he’s sure that he’s now a luminary (and to us, he was). I’ve been in the aspiration trenches with all of them, man. I went to my first film festival with a pocket full of business cards that had perforated edges that my mom designed and printed off for me at work. I’ve been the guy slouched so low in his seat while his movie tanked in the room. I’ve been the douche bag who groaned at some serious low-budg writing without realizing the filmmaker was sitting behind me. There are a thousand small festivals and million big dreamers at every one of them.

I run into the same folks today on the local scene. People just looking for a break, who are acting, directing, and writing their hearts out with whatever they can afford. To them, our show is a huge opportunity.  It’s a series with a guaranteed audience of thousands of strangers who will finally see their work. When I think about it like that, it’s outstanding. But they’re coming at it from a place I tend to forget about. Now, I know the kind of numbers that other people and projects draw on YouTube and suddenly I forget that 35,000 subscribers is a great number for a guy whose largest audiences previously ran about 30 people in a room at a festival.

So why do I still submit to festivals now that I have what I wanted out of them? A few reasons: One, the withoutabox submission IMDB page clause. Outstanding. Two, I still long for the eyes of the actual industry to land on the flickering pictures I made up. Three, all of those people that watch our show do it in the privacy of their own homes. I’m unbelievably grateful that they spend their time watching us and that they enjoy it enough to leave comments for us, but I still want to sit in a room with them and hear them experience it as it happens. I want to feel the energy of it working in the room. That’s why.

Since I always include a bunch of embedded videos on the blog when we’re in post production on an episode, I thought I’d include a different example of how a webseries keeps their audience entertained between seasons. Why not use the example of the most successful webseries ever, The Guild. Whereas I do weekly updates that get around 4,000 views compared to the 30,000-ish regular views the episodes get, The Guild’s episodes get somewhere around 500,000 to 700,000 views and their in-between-seasons music videos get MILLIONS of views. They just put out another one this week. A very catchy tune that their core gaming audience can relate to with a great video directed by Jed Whedon, Joss’s very talented brother. It’s awesome:

And because we were talking about seeing things play in the room, The Guild practically broke the internet with their awesome “Do You Want to Date My Avatar”video, but even before it was launched online it killed in a room at Comicon. Someone posted a video of the audience’s reaction to it. I just love it.

Thanks for reading, guys.

–Jarvi

PoPS video update 108-Fandom

Posted in Uncategorized on April 1, 2012 by PoPS blog