Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Happy Birthday William Shatner!

Cool Guys Dept.

Today is William Shatner's 75th birthday. He was born 22 March 1931.

I have been a fan of Mr. Shatner's for many years, and I actually met him, briefly and abruptly, in 1984, as I walked out of the Boys Market in Marina Del Rey, CA.

I emerged from the only door that wasn't taped off with yellow police tape, warning people a tv show was being shot outside, in the store parking lot.

They were filming an episode of Mr. Shatner's tv cop show, "T.J. Hooker." It was a chase scene, and Mr. Shatner was doing the chasing - running full-tilt across the parking lot, as fast as he could go.

I didn't see him, and he didn't see me. He ran right into me. Wow! I was considerably more massive then he, and he rebounded backward, and sat down rather quickly. His character hairpiece continued on, by itself.

I could see I was intruding into the shooting, and thought it a poor time to ask for an autograph, so I didn't. Mr. Shatner seemed to be all right, and others were tending to him, so I left. He didn't say anything, but just stared at me. I felt bad about it.

Some months later, at the Academy Awards, I was a properly-ticketed attendee. I had worked on two pictures nominated for Best Visual Effects, and attended to root for them. Meeting William Shatner (literally) was forgotten, at least by me.

Mr. Shatner was at the Oscars that year. In the lounge of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, I went up and asked Mr. Shatner for his autograph.

He signed, then looked up at me. He just stared, and changed colors a few times. I thought his reaction strange, until I started thinking about it, and I eventually remembered our earlier collision. Perhaps I had collision-induced selective amnesia.

In 1992, my cast and I did a radio show called "SIMUL TREK," where we dubbed new dialogue into the mouths of the cast of "everybody's favorite science-fiction show."

I dubbed for Captain Jim, not because I did the best Shatner imitation, but because his character was easier for me to dub, while directing our radio show.

The Captain had the fewest lines to say, usually just a few words, and then a speech at the end. It was fun!

I told you all that, so I can tell you this: I'm still a fan.

Whether playing the timeless Captain Kirk, or the original unhappy flyer in the classic "Twilight Zone" episode, or on "Kung Fu" or "Mission Impossible," performing "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds," or goofing through his "Priceline" ads, or his recent Emmy and Golden-Globe-winning turn as a lawyer in "The Practice" and "Boston Legal," or the History Channel's "How William Shatner Changed the World," (from his book, of course), or his latest music album, "Has Been," (a misnomer), only Bill Shatner is Bill Shatner. I think he's the greatest. Every part he's taken, he's run away with, and made truly his own.

Here is an article about him.

Here are some interesting quotes from Mr. Shatner:

“I am not a Starfleet commander, or T.J. Hooker. I don't live on Starship NCC-1701, or own a phaser. And I don't know anybody named Bones, Sulu, or Spock. And no, I've never had green alien sex, though I'm sure it would be quite an evening. I speak English and French, not Klingon! I drink Labatt's, not Romulan ale! And when someone says to me 'Live long and prosper', I seriously mean it when I say, 'Get a life'. My doctor's name is not McCoy, it's Ginsberg. And tribbles were puppets, not real animals. PUPPETS! And when I speak, I never, ever talk like every. Word. Is. Its. Own. Sentence. I live in California, but I was raised in Montreal. And yes, I've gone where no man has gone before, but I was in Mexico and her father gave me permission! My name is William Shatner, and I am Canadian!”

“Babies have big heads and big eyes, and tiny little bodies with tiny little arms and legs. So did the aliens at Roswell! I rest my case.”

“How do I stay so healthy and boyishly handsome? It's simple. I drink the blood of young runaways.”

“Remember - you can't beam through a force field. So, don't try it.”

“We were basically one and the same, although Jim was just about perfect, and, of course, I am perfect.”

“In my proudest moments, I think I had a real hand in the creative force of making "Star Trek." But most of the time, I don't think about it.”

-- William Shatner

Happy Birthday, William Shatner! You are great.

Bonus treat.
Maurice LaMarche proclaims "International Talk Like William Shatner Day."

Star Trek
William Shatner
Maurice LaMarche
William Shatner Birthday
William Shatner Runs Into Sam Longoria
International Talk Like William Shatner Day

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Oscar Numbers

Still not commenting, but "Chronicles of Narnia"
grossed more money than the top 5 Oscar
contenders, combined...

Numbers tell the story.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Form Over Content: Kung Pow!

If you've ever wondered what kind of
film makes me laugh, this is it.

Who cares what others think?
Not me.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

HD: Define your terms 3

Dots, dots, dots...I'm seeing dots....ahhh!

So we've defined much of the High Definition dotset,
and talked about how all this dot-management makes an
electronically-stored picture.

On the one hand, the HD pictures we see now are probably
the worst HD we'll ever see, because things will get
better and better, quality-wise, in dots-ville.

On the other hand, there is no way currently to miniaturize
an image chip element any further. Those are analog, and not
defined by Moore's Law.

Unless there is some unforeseen technology bump, the HD images
we see today are the best we're gonna see for a long time.
Maybe they are as good as it gets. Ever.

While film emulsions are getting better all the time. Really.

We will find even more dot info, as we dig deeper into
HD, HiDef, High Definition Video.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

35mm Editing Room: Patterson

Editing is the Maternity Ward where a film is born.
Cutting and snipping and patching and re-combining,
everything begins in The Editing Room.

In Florida, here's Patterson's.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Genesis Rough Beginning

Yes, the Genesis camera works, but
apparently not the same as a film camera.

Differently enough that it cost the new
"Superman's" budget $600k for a camera
mistake. Whew!

Eva Marie Saint tells the story.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

35mm Editing Room: USC

The Editing Room is a sacred place, where image
elements combine in secret ways, to create a film
that is more than the sum of its pictures.
I love Editing Rooms. Here's the one at USC.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Happy Birthday Eva Longoria!

Date: 15 March 2006 (3 days after mine.)
People ask lately if I'm related to Eva Longoria.
According to Esme, her devoted sister who wrote me,
and has researched such things, the answer is "yes."
I had a small role on "The Young And The Restless" a
decade before Eva was on it, (so I doubt nepotism was
involved, in either direction), and I'm glad the public
loves her. She's very talented, I think she's great.
Happy Birthday Eva, and "Hi" to Esme!
(Write her yourself, or tell ABC you like her.)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Linux Video Info

If you've got a Linux box,
among your many godlike powers,
you can do video.

Here's some info you need.

Monday, March 13, 2006

HD: Define your terms 2

More about those dots...

In addition to SD (Standard Definition) video, with its
525 lines (reduced by housekeeping to 480 lines of 640 dots),
there are several other video systems as well.

PAL and SECAM (768 x 576) are still with us, they are
Standard Definition in their respective countries.

If you must do video, it should be High Definition, I say.

There are several HD formats, 1280 lines of 720 dots,
and 1080 lines of 1440 dots (4:3 HD), but "real"
HD is 1080 lines of 1920 dots (16:9 HD).

No small HD camcorder currently records "real" HD.
What? Never mind.

We will delve into this, as we discover
HD, HiDef, High Definition Video.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Happy Birthday To Sam!

Many thanks for the many nice email
birthday wishes. It feels good to
take a day off, and you are great.

Hollywood Game: Best Now Broke...

Hard to explain to non-Hollywood friends how a
celebrity with his own tv series now, will be
forgotten by the public in only two years.

Or how certain people keep making movies, even
though the ones they make don't ever make any

Or those talented Hollywood friends who have
done great work and won prestigious awards,
and are still not financially solvent.

Not commenting on the Oscars this year, but
here's a story you just have to read,
about a certain "Big Winner."

If you have questions about the sanity
of all this, join the club.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

HD: Define your terms 1

Wouldja know it, my screen is covered with dots.

In film, the dots are very, very small,
and they change from frame to frame.
The picture is put on the screen all at once.

In video, the dots are big, and
always appear in the same place.

The picture is drawn, one pixel after
another, making one line after another.

In HD video, same thing, just more dots.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Film Books: Bergman by Steene

I typoed "Reverence Guide," and realize that's exactly what I mean.

This is a wonderful book about a revered cinema artist, and it's written by a favorite Cinema Professor of mine from college.

I remember absolutely loving her classes, and it didn't hurt that her teaching assistant was intelligent, articulate, knowledgeable, and a knockout.

Good show Ingmar, Good book Birgitta! Keep up the good work.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Why Digital: That Panasonic...

It's not 35mm yet, but for an affordable
digital camera, it's in a class by itself.

Even looks like it's fun.

Panasonic HVX-200

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

In Praise Of Sam Fuller

There Was A Man Dept. - In Praise of Sam Fuller

This was a guy who knew how to tell a story. Sam Fuller would grip you by the throat, from the first word of the first line of the first page. His movies were wonderful.

Do his movies make sense? Sometimes they don't while you're watching, but later they do. For the most part, that isn't an issue, his movies MOVE!

One of the weirdest westerns ever made is also one of my favorites.

Barry Sullivan and Barbara Stanwyck in "Forty Guns."


If you don't know, that is an almost unbelievably dangerous scene. Galloping horses, right around rearing horses, so much could go wrong.

Barbara Stanwyck did her own stunts, by the way. So often, that she was made an honorary Stuntwoman.

Mark Hamill does the best imitation of Sam Fuller I've ever seen, 
I could watch him do it all day.

Mark was great in Fuller's 
"The Big Red One," which I'll describe better another time.

That classic also starred the great Lee Marvin, and

Robert Carradine, another favorite of mine.

Sam Fuller, I know somewhere, you're still writing. 

Forty Guns
The Big Red One
Samuel Fuller Film Collection
All great Sam Fuller pictures

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Format: Super 35mm

What's so old, it's new?

The full silent aperture of
Tom Edison's 35mm film.

Scope or tv come off
the same frame.

Super 35mm.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Sound: Stinky Tracks

Indy films can be edgy, clever,
outrageous, pushy, entertaining.

For the most part, though,
their sound stinks.

(That's a technical term.
I don't expect the Layman to
understand it.)

Indy film tracks set them apart,
in the manner of a bum's
filthy clothes.

Fix your stinky sound.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Oscars: Not This Year

There is no Sam Longoria Oscar Report
this year. I am not attending, nor
even watching the broadcast.

My best wishes go out to Nick Park,
who I hope wins his category, (Go, Gromit!)
and the other worthy nominees.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

35mm Editing Room: Zoetrope

Editing is where a film comes together.
It's the most creative part of filmmaking.
The Editing Room is what makes all the other
parts work. Here's Zoetrope's.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Gear: Tobin Cinema Systems
Milliframe Controller

From the fertile mind of the great
Clive Tobin, the Milliframe Controller.
Make your camera do what you want it to!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Why Film: DV to 35mm?

Yes, you can get a small, light, quiet video
camera, with sync sound. Can you show your video
in a theatre without anybody asking what video
camera you used? No. Reasons.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Labs: DuArt

They've got great BW, great color,
all the processes you could want,
best quality, and they're
Woody Allen's lab. Du Art