Thursday, March 27, 2008

Three Car Jam

1. As I careened out of the Target parking lot on a Sunday morning, apparently I went through a red light. I didn't realize it at the time, but the authorities were kind enough to send several pictures at different angles of me and my car taking a left through the intersection while the light was clearly red. Luckily I wasn't doing anything incriminating like picking my nose, or like the episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm where Larry is photographed going through a red light while looking at his passengers ass, which was up in the air because she was reaching into the back seat. The little series of pictures will only cost me $380 plus another $50 for the privilege of spending some time at traffic school.

2. About two weeks later on my way to our new abode, I had the sensation that the car wasn't handling well - like it had a flat tire. I got out of the car at the nearest intersection to inspect the situation and unfortunately I was right about the tire. Torn sidewall. Fortunately I was close enough to our old abode to change the tire in our driveway. To get at the spare tire, I removed all the crap out of the car trunk: Bottles for recycling, grocery bags, a skimboard.

The resident homeless guy that we like to call Burnout - because he can spend days reclining in the sun, and his black clothes and hair appear burnt - came up to me and asked if I had seen a guy he described as looking exactly like me. The guy apparently took a grocery bag (which Burnout said looked like a grocery bag that was sitting next to my car with the flat tire) that was full of money. Burnout would have used this grocery bag full of bills to go somewhere around Christmas. Burnout repeatedly asked me if I saw the guy around anywhere, and I repeatedly told him I hadn't seen anybody (who looks just like me).

I put on the spare, and lowered the car with the jack, only to find that the spare was flat. I figured that the spare isn't much bigger than a mountain bike tire, so I grabbed my bike pump and got to work. My triceps hadn't seen a workout like that in months. That afternoon I went to Big O Tires and spent $380 for 4 new tires because the 3 working tires probably didn't have much longer to live.

3. Last weekend we went to the nearby Sherwin-Williams paint store to buy one more can of white semi-gloss for the interior of our new abode. Because Lily had been choosing all the paint to this point, she went into the store while Judah and I waited in the car. It was hot, so I pressed the buttons to roll down the windows. The rear driver side window had some trouble going down, but it eventually made it all the way down. When Lily came back I rolled all the windows up. That is, all but the rear drivers side window, which didn't come all the way back up. It sounded like it wanted to close, but the crunching noise led me to believe that it wasn't gonna. I still haven't taken it in to the shop for that one, but my guess is that it's probably going to cost $380.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

It's like that, and that's the way it is

Moving on Monday, Taxes on Saturday, Clients in all week. See you next Thursday.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Third Eye

Walking back from the Third Street Promenade, I approached the intersection at the post office and I noticed a blind woman with a cane. She tapped the white cane around the edge of the sidewalk, seemingly unsure which direction she wanted to go. She looked flustered. She did a 180, then stopped and did another 180, and she seemed on the verge of a panic attack. Several people walked by without offering any assistance.

I walked up to her and asked "do you need help?" She took a deep breath and said yes, thank you. She said "I need to find 5th street". I looked up at the sign at the intersection and it said 5th Street. I told her she was on 5th Street & Arizona. Then she told me "Can you point me in the direcction of 4th Street?" I turned her in the direction of 4th Street and told her "now you're facing toward 4th Street, toward the beach."

She said "Thanks so much" and tapped her way toward 4th Street. As I turned and continued on my way, I realized that probably nothing going on in my little world was as bad as what she just went through.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Pac-Man Fever

On Monday night a work project fell into my lap at around 5:45 pm. The project was the video component of one of those newfangled rides where you're sitting in a movie theater in a small group of theater seats that move in relation to what you're seeing on screen. Luckily for me, I was stoked to work on the project because it features a character from a TV show who says "Doh!" starring in it.

The "Doh!" part was about as good as it was gonna get. Because then the real work began. Taking a series of still frame rough animation files and putting them together isn't really what I consider "editing", but it falls under editor duties and thus falls into my lap at 5:45 pm on a Monday night.

I was to take a sequence of still images and compile them into a 5 minute movie, and then attach the existing sound bed so that it was in sync. Sounds simple, right? Too simple? Too simple. It wasn't in sync, and the production manager and I spent the next three hours trying to figure out why.

We slipped the audio this way and that until it was about in sync as it was going to be for this stage of the animation, so that the sound designer/mix people could do their job and then the whole thing could move forward again. At 9pm we were laying off to tape and I assumed I was done. And I was, until the next day at noon.

One of our production coordinators walked into the editing suite at noon and told me that a two-minute chunk of the sequence with revised animation was being sent over the network. All I had to do was import the sequence, cut it over the existing sequence and lay it off to tape. The Executive Producer of the TV show that this "ride" is based on with the character who says "Doh!" would be waiting for this tape on the studio lot at 3 pm. Sounds simple, right? Too simple? Too simple.

I import the new animation into the edit system (Avid) at around 1 pm. I line up the spot where the new animation goes over the old stuff, and I quickly realize there's a problem: The new piece goes way longer than the old piece. And then I quickly discover that every 5th frame is a repeat of the 4th frame.

So I call our producer for this "ride" and tell him what's up. We talk tech mumbo-jumbo (different than this tech mumbo-jumbo) for 10 minutes before he decides to get off the phone to see what he can do on his end. The clock is rapidly ticking toward 3 pm, so I start trying different compression techniques to see if that'll work. The producer calls me back about 45 minutes later only to tell me that it will take 2 hours to recreate the animation correctly. Hm. Two hours plus 1: 55 pm equals pissed off Executive Producer of a ride and TV show with character who says "Doh!" DOH!

I tell the producer that I'll take care of it, and we hang up. If you know anything about how editing works, then you know that there are a few very basic commands: Mark In, Mark Out, and Cut. And probably the last remaining thing that Avid has going over Final Cut Pro is a little routine where you can punch in plus or minus then a number on the keypad then Enter (i.e. +5 Enter), and you'll go that number of frames ahead or back. Then every time you just press Enter it'll go that same distance. Every 5th frame a duplicate? No problem.

I remap my keyboard so that it'll be Mark In, Mark Out, Cut - using the ring finger, middle finger, index finger (in that order) on my left hand. After that left handed sequence I'm pressing Enter (for the +5 frame advance) with my right index finger. Repeat ad nauseum. I knew playing all those video games back in the day would pay off.

I'm cruising through this little 5 frame edit exercise (and I'm amazed at how the Avid can keep up with this insane tapping), and I get the slightest tinge of carpal tunnel. Every now and then I take a break to check the frame numbers to make sure I haven't gone astray, and every now and then I have gone astray, so I stop to fix it. After a few minutes of speed metal finger tapping, I'm grimacing and letting out the occasional scream because nobody is supposed to edit like this. But I'll be damned if that deadline is missed.

My fingers thoroughly fatigued, I finally get the cutting done and I'm ready to lay off to tape. But some stupid Golf commercial is using the tape deck I need to lay off to. Looks like Mr. Executive Producer of the TV show with a character who says "Doh!" in it would have to wait. At least he wouldn't be waiting because of me. DOH!