Monday, February 27, 2006

Working with images

I know I can be a little behind the times. For instance, I use an amazingly limited photo editor program called LView. The old Windows 95 version, not the latest and greatest. If I don't treat it carefully, it triggers that old "Program Not Responding" error that XP users find so endearing.

There are some image filters though, and by adjusting the HSV controls, you can change the Hue, color Saturation, and color Volume of the image. And get some cool results, like the photo below.

I'm going to use this effect to create unique backgrounds for my videos. Should be fun.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Creating music on my PC

One of the most important tasks in making movies is finding soundtrack music. There are several options available:

- Hire a composer/band to record original music
- Pay a licensing fee for commerical songs
- Buy a CD of royalty-free music
- Find public domain/non-copyright/Creative Commons music
- Purchase and install "virtual studio" software

The first two options are too expensive. Royalty-free CDs aren't cheap either, and the selection on any particular disk is limited. I've used public domain music in my videos, but again, they're limited and certain licensing rules may prohibit a "for-profit" situation.

I'm currently working with the last option. "FL Studio 6" is the most complete virtual studio currently available. You'll be creating .wav, .mp3 or midi songs or loops only minutes after launching it. There are so many cool features available it's going to take weeks just to discover them all.

The program is very useful for creating instrumental riffs for background soundtrack music. The ability to create something like a 30-second snippet of music as background for an action scene is really useful. And the tone and mood of the music can be subtly tweaked for maximum effect.

I'm still learning how to use it, but eventually I'll create some .wav samples and post them online. I realize that I'll never be a Mozart, but with a program like FL Studio 6, at least there's a chance I'll eventually advance to somewhere between "absolute hack" and "earnest beginner".

One thing I've learned is to always set realistic goals.

Two great TV shows

One is soon to start it's new season, and one may be gone for good.

First, HBO's "The Sopranos" will begin it's sixth (and final?) season next month. This is one of my favorite shows. The writers so far have done a pretty good job, although there have been some unresolved loose ends from prior seasons. If this is the last season, you can pretty much count on a lot of wiseguys getting wacked; including T. himself. You just know there can't be a happy ending to this series.

And then there's "Arrested Development", the oddball sitcom that recently finished it's third (and probably last) season. Which is a shame, because the writers of this show were pretty much given free reign to be as wacky and outrageous as possible. Perhaps the show never gained a popular audience because of the frenetic pace of the jokes. And the fact that there's so much going on at any particular time that the typical American viewer (who's used to being spoon-fed the plot and having the jokes all but diagrammed for them) can't keep track.

There's some talk of the show moving from Fox to Showtime, but it's a longshot. Fox has already passed on renewing, so we may have seen the last of "Arrested Development". At least there's the DVD box sets of season's one and two available, and almost certainly we'll see season three sometime soon.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Chewey's got a blog!

Our favorite wookie has got his very own blog now. And from the looks of things, he's been keeping busy since the final Star Wars episode.

Read about his latest adventures at:

It DOES help if you can read and understand wookie.

David Lynch's weather report

The major works of director David Lynch are well known: The Elephant Man, Blue Velvet, Mulholland Dr., Twin Peaks, Lost Highway, etc. He's earned awards and recognition for a long list of projects.

Here's one you might not be aware of:

The David Lynch Daily Weather Report.

On most mornings (L.A. time) you can click on that link and get a video reading of the current weather in the Los Angeles area, videocast from what appears to be Lynch's breakfast nook. He usually has a cup of coffee in front of him, and if it's a nice day you can see the sun streaming in from his skylight.

Click on the link for the weather report, and if you happen to live in greater L.A. you'll know if you'll need to take an umbrella with you today.

And if you're wondering about the weather here, just about all the snow from last week has melted due to sunny and mild weather, but temps are back down into the 40's. No new snow expected for the immediate future. My snow blower is still working fine as far as I know.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Just so you know... snow blower is fixed!

I can imagine how worried you all must have been, so here's a photo of it back in action.

Got it fixed just around the corner from my house, so I was able to walk it over there. Bruce did a bang-up job, too. If you're in the Milford (CT) area and need any snow or lawn equipment repaired, call B&B Power Equipment, at 203-874-6748.

Of course, we're probably not going to get any more snow this year now that it's working perfectly, but such is life.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Winter wonderland


Now that the driveway and sidewalks ("footpaths" for you foreigners) are cleared and the sun is shining, I've officially gone back to liking winter again.

But please, no more snow until I get my snow blower fixed!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Buried alive!


How's the weather, you ask?

Does THIS answer your question?

Usually I enjoy a good blizzard...except, of course, when my Sears Craftsman 5HP Snow Thrower decides to take a nap. And no amount of pleading, cajoling, or threatening will wake it up.


Above is our humble home, just 20 hours ago...


That's Joyce out there, shoveling. We're up to maybe 14" or so, and we're getting about 1-2" per hour. I expect this to be over by 6PM, and we'll have a total of maybe 18-20" on the ground.

Like I said, I usually like snow. Except when I'm forced to actually pick it up and move it somewhere else...

Then, not so much.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Midweek ski trip

We just got back from Vermont, where Joyce and I took a couple days off from work to ski.

Here's Joyce at the top of Killington. It was cold; only about 5 above that day. And that's Fahrenheit, fella'! None of that European centigrade crap's AMERICAN degrees, or NOTHING for me!

This is me, just a few moments later. It's still cold. Can ya tell? What happened to my gloves, anyway?

Joyce is enjoying a lunchtime beer in the sweltering heat of the summit lodge. Yeah, it was warm enough in there to require a beer, even though it was frigid outside. Plus, they had a fresh-grilled hotdog platter, with two dogs and a large order of fries, for $8.95. I've eaten at dozens of ski lodges, and believe me, this was a phenomenol deal. It was enough for the two of us (plus 11 bucks for the brews).

The view from the lodge was amazing, but the batteries on my digital camera crapped out just then, so you'll have to take my word for it. Or you can go there yourself and see. Either way, I don't care. Just so you know.

The next day, a little sore from our woeful lack of physical fitness, we hobbled over to Pico Mountain. It wasn't much warmer, but we got a couple inches of snow the previous night so we enjoyed a bit of powder skiing. Pico has some great steep, flat runs, where you can really get the wind roaring in your ears. If your ears weren't completely covered, that is. Because mine were. But I knew the wind WOULD have been roaring, if I could hear it.

We're home now, and after two days of wicked awesome skiing we both have some extremely sore leg muscles. A little while ago I was sitting here in the den and was able to determine that Joyce was walking down the stairs, because I could here her going, "Ow...ow...ow...ow...ow..." etc. I'm similarly afflicted, but a bit of scotch to wash down my Advils, and I'm feeling better.

Apparently a massive Nor'easter is careening up the coast, and all the local TV stations are predicting a blizzard! Not a chance of snow, or even a winter storm, but a BLIZZARD. It should hit later this evening. If you don't hear from me by tomorrow night, send out a search and rescue team. And make sure they have a reasonable supply of beer with them.

Because, you know, we might be snowed in.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006



This picture was taken last weekend at Silver Sands beach. I like the way the boardwalk looks like it goes nowhere, with the clouds layered above.

Whenever I carry my digital camera with me these days I try to take pictures of anything that looks interesting, because it helps me see what the scene would look like in video. The human eye can be deceiving at times.

When I get back from a walk, I look at the images and see what I can use for future projects. This way I'm compiling a library of potential shots.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Warning: Political Content


I know I said that I wanted to keep my personal politics out of this blog as much as humanly possible, but I just read an article on "FireDogLake" that I feel compelled to link to. Because it states everything I feel about the current state of the Bush administration in a very straightforward manner. Click ON THIS LINK to read it.

Then, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. Because I'd honestly like to hear the opinions of the (few) people who read this blog. And maybe it'll open some eyes to what's really going on. Don't forget to visit firedoglake often for more fascinating observations.

And now, back to our (ir-)regularly scheduled blog.

I promise.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Mid-winter funk

Lately the blues seem to have taken hold...not that I have anything to be gloomy about. Things are quite good actually. It must be a case of the winter doldrums. Summer seems like it's a million years, I survived another birthday. They don't seem to cheer me like they did back in my youth...or in my early 40's, for that matter.

Anyway, here's what I've been up to. I've been researching a couple of documentary ideas recently. Probably one of them will be another "rail trail" doc. Those are fun to do, because I get to mix history and present day when telling the story. And I've been listening to some public domain/creative commons music from It's gotta love the Internet! As I get farther along with my doc ideas I'll post some details.

This is what I should be doing right now. Skiing with Joyce. But I can't. Because there isn't any snow. We just finished the third warmest January in history here in Connecticut. Damn, it's February and I still haven't been able to do any cross country skiing. Next week we're going to bite the bullet and drive to Vermont for some downhill; hope we get some cooler weather by then. At least, no rain please.

Today is Groundhog Day. Following tradition, George W. Bush pulled his head out of his ass long enough to see his shadow. That means three more years of criminally inept leadership. Tough luck, kiddies!

Sorry about's just that I'm so pissed at Lieberman for not putting up more of a fight to keep Bush from seating that rotten little fascist Alito on the Supreme Court. What's it going to take to get reliable leadership back? Aaarrgghh!