Saturday, June 30, 2007

Blade Runner: The Final Cut Commercial

I just found it now, but this apparently played June 20 during AFI's "100 Years... 100 Movies" on CBS. (They rated BR #97, beating out Toy Story and Ben Hur, and only 3 spots behind Pulp Fiction) As should now be common knowledge, I love this movie, and have been looking forward to the Final Cut since I first heard about it.

It's up several times on YouTube, but Warner Brothers keeps taking it down. Hopefully the DailyMotion version I've embedded will stick around for a while. It has better quality than YouTube, in any case.

I can't say I'm terribly impressed by the herky-jerky, "look what we can do in After Effects" style of the commercial, and the audio cutting is downright sloppy. I guess it's a side effect of foolishly trying to make a film that came out in 1982 look "new."

(Listening closer, it sounds like the audio actually drops out for a split second at somewhat regular intervals. Very sloppy, and it makes the whole commercial feel "rough" and "harsh".)

Nonetheless, I'm still hyped for this definitive release, which has been a long time coming. (If you don't know, the studio politics surrounding Blade Runner were beyond messy, and it's taken most of the last 25 years to sort them out so that the film as Ridley Scott shot it can actually be seen fully)

The titles at the end indicate the Final Cut will be released on DVD, HD-DVD, and Blu-Ray, but make no mention of the rumored limited theatrical run. I'm still hoping though...

My Dad at "Jazz In The Meadow" 2005

My dad singing (yes, he can sing) at an event a couple years back. He was sitting in the audience, and he got "asked" to come up and do something. When I embedded the video on this page, I set it to skip all the other stuff before then.

This video was posted to my blog so that my mom could have a link to send people to where you don't have to "fast-forward" through all the other stuff first.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007 It's coming

Yes, I have a "Coming Soon" website for all my film/video work again. But this time, it's different. (promise!) I've given up on the rolls-off-the-tongue-slightly-better .net extension, and joined the rest of the world in .com-land. (Once the site truly goes live, the old will redirect to the new Before, I'd relied on donated, friend-of-a-friend, or otherwise "free" hosting space, but now I've got all-out paid-for shared hosting from Dreamhost, with effectively unlimited storage and bandwidth. (The only thing they really get ticked off about is CPU time, and I have no intention of running overly convoluted PHP-driven content management systems. HTML, CSS, and a spattering of PHP for menus and such is fine for me)

Now that I've geeked out about my new hosting (it really is rather cool) - what exactly will the new site offer? Before, the "Hanley Films Website" has usually just been a single page with a bunch of links to QuickTime files (see the current

The new site will be... just a little bit more than that. I'm planning, at the moment:
  • All my movies, from the North Hills stuff, to the 16mm short I made in VPA Film last fall, to my entry for the recent Modest Mouse music video contest. (If you really must see that, it's on YouTube). All in higher quality, and more formats than before.
  • Information on my freelance production work. Seriously. I've already paid for my camera doing this, and I just ordered a $150 microphone to step up my game for a job later this summer. Need a low-budget commercial/music video/help on a student film/etc? Call me.
  • Tips, tutorials, and other resources for up-and-coming (or so we wish) wannabes like myself.
  • At least one sweet picture of the editing suite setup I've got going in my room. ;)
The video and film stuff is obviously the important part. Before, as I've said, I've put a bunch of QuickTimes on a page - sometimes in various sizes, sometimes not - and left it at that. With the extra space Dreamhost gives me, I can offer more formats than previously - for now, I'm thinking QuickTime 7, Windows Media 9, and DivX should cover most bases.

In addition to more formats, the videos will also be much higher quality. Not just higher bitrate either: Back when I first encoded most of the "masters" for the North Hills Pictures, I didn't know half what I do now about digital video. They were deinterlaced poorly, and went through a lot of unnecessary scaling up and down. This time, wherever possible, I'm going back to the "source" and redoing a lot of that, to preserve as much detail as possible.

How much of a difference can this make? Well... (click image to see full size)

I'd say that's a difference! (Of course, this shot is the most drastic example I could find, but it's still an all-around improvement to one degree or another.)

So that's where the "one, true" Hanley Films website is for now. It should turn out pretty cool, I think.

Now if I could just do something about that day job... :-/

Monday, June 11, 2007

Apple Previews Leopard & Safari 3 - O RLY?

I am writing this bog entry on Windows XP. I also happen to be writing it in Safari.

Seems Apple has seen fit to release a public beta of Safari 3.0 not just for Mac OS X Tiger, but for Windows as well. Not only that, the new version of the browser has resolved the two nagging issues that I had with it on OS X: The rich-text editing boxes on GMail and Blogger now work, and it now asks "Are You Sure?" when you close a window with multiple tabs open. Nice - Safari's been my browser of choice on the Mac for a while now (it's just much more responsive than Firefox) and those were really the only two annoyances I had with it. (Well, along with the fact that ver. 2 kinda chokes up when you start having 4 windows open, with 8 or so tabs each, and keep the program running for a week solid. Am I asking too much?)

I should stress that Safari 3 for Mac & Windows is still very much in beta. Blogger's rich text form works, but I had to go into Firefox to add the picture to this post because that button seems to do nothing in Safari 3 beta. So don't go dumping Firefox 2 or IE 7 just yet, (Although you might do well to dump IE 6 if you're still using it...) but this is definitely something to watch over the next few months.

It's really interesting to see Apple's strategy here. Since the awesome software (OS X and iLife being the biggies) are one of the big draws go getting a Mac these days, making Windows software doesn't seem to make much sense on the surface. However, the plan becomes clear when you realize Apple is trying to get people used to using Apple software first, so that the thought of switching to a Mac doesn't sound so foreign. it started with Quicktime, especially once Apple got something of a monopoly on movie trailers. Then iTunes for Windows came bundled with everyone's favorite music player. (iTunes is even more important to "switchers" now, since Apple's taken a lot of cues from it in the design of the file browser in OS X 10.5 - "Leopard"). Now they want Windows users to see what an Apple web browser is like, aguably the most-used application on a personal computer today. It's all quite clever really. Although, to be honest, if they're really serious about this Trojan horse idea, they really ought to do something about the performance of Quicktime 7 on Windows. QT-haters do have something of a point on the Windows platform - it's nowhere near as elegant, fast, and seamless as it is on OS X (where it's my default media player for just about everything - even DivX).

There's a lot of other interesting things happening with Leopard too - and they aren't all making front-page news like Time Machine and the just-maybe-do-you-think-inspired-by-Vista new look to the familiar Mac desktop. I'm more excited by the changes to Boot Camp. Today, if you have an Intel Mac, you can dual-boot Windows on it - something I'm very interested in, as it could mean putting all my Windows games on the same Mac I use for Final Cut Pro, and I could finally give up lugging my giant PC Tower to college. In Leopard, you don't have to totally restart to switch OS's: Instead you can go to a menu item in OS X to put MacOS into "safe sleep" mode before switching over to Windows. Likewise, you can make Windows hibernate. That way, you never lose what you were doing in either OS, and you can jump between them in 20-30 seconds - each running totally native (I could use something like Parallels to make it wholly seamless, but Boot Camp gives better performance for gaming).

Update: Boot Camp's hibernating feature was mentioned on Apple's site at the time I wrote this entry, but the feature was later dropped. Pity - seemed like a good idea.

The Mac platform just keeps getting more interesting.