Well, what I had been posting with my phone is true. I have spent this week working on creating a DVD based delivery system for my albums. This turned out to be a particularly engaging and ultimately rewarding process. As I indicated earlier, several album can fit onto one DVD. Of course, it is easy enough to burn audio tracks onto a DVD-R, but the trick is being able to play the disc in any DVD player. This new program I have allows for that.
The first disc I successfully completed (I don't have an instruction manual for the program and the program's help is completely useless) was the one I posted about earlier, with five of the mixes I am most proud of. I am currently converting my Thomas Newman 3 disc set into a single DVD.
The way that I do it is easy enough to navigate: the main menu takes you to a submenu for each album. From there, you can either play the album or go to the track listing. You can go to tracks directly from the track listing. I placed a subtitle track on the discs that shows the music information and credits at the beginning of each track. The trick is to come up with an image to show as the music plays (in order to minimize the amount of space the video requires, I have decided that what is displayed on screen would be a particular still image for each album, so I can set the video to maximum compression and free up space on the disc for more music); I have found that you don't really want a terribly busy image, but you do want something attractive. For the disc I have already created, I used my pre-existing album artwork as the basis for the menu themes and album image.
The program I am using has an option to record in linear PCM (which is what I tend to use) or Dolby Stereo... and Dolby Digital 5.1! I have no idea what will happen to the stereo audio tracks if I should choose to encode them into 5.1 Will it just put the material in the front two channels and the subwoofer, or will it Pro-Logic II matrix it out into a 5.1 signal? Is the bit rate 384 or 448 kHz? I suppose I could burn a test disc, but the rendering takes a long time.
According to William Goldman, there are three kinds of movies: those that try to be good and succeed, those that try to be good and don't, and those that weren't meant to be any good at all (National Lampoon's Dorm Daze, which I also rented, was one of those; there's a reason I'm not writing anything further about it). When a movie that is attempting to be good doesn't end up working, it is depressing partly because it isn't working, but also because sometimes it's really apparent that the filmmaker is really trying to do something interesting.
Director Austin Chick is attempting to do something very engaging here, and he almost pulls it off. The first half of this movie, which is set in 1993, is fantastic. The characters are interesting and flawed, and the way that they interact with one another is consistently engaging. The film is shot in a kinetic, loose style that emphasizes the outlook of the characters. It really does feel that anything can happen.
The second half of the film is set ten years later, and here is where the film begins to fall apart. While the idea is certainly valid (it is actually quite similar to something suitboyskin and I had been kicking around recently), unfortunately from here on in it becomes terribly predictable. Some of the establishing ideas are very good (of the three leads, the most unstable in the first half, Thea, has since settled down and become the most well-adjusted), but the "maturing" of the characters has the side-effect of dulling them.
This is not the fault of the actors. Mark Ruffalo, Maya Stange and Kathleen Robertson all do the best with what they have, Uta Briesewitz's funky photography and the interesting score by the Insects are quite good. This film is a very interesting failure, and I am interested to see Chick's next film, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, due out next year.
Waiting for Guffman
If I'm such a big fan of This Is Spinal Tap, why did I wait so long to get around to seeing this film? Pure idiocy, I guess. The faux documentary style that star and director Christopher Guest uses in this, Best in Show and A Mighty Wind with fellow Spinal Tap alumni Harry Shearer and Michael McKean (who do not appear in this film but worked with Guest on the musical numbers for the featured play) is a great forum for comedy. Waiting for Guffman is bitingly funny, its pathetic characters played by a fantastic group of actors, including Guest, Eugene Levy (who co-wrote), Fred Willard, Catherine O'Hara and Parker Posey.
The funniest moment on the DVD is not in the film, however, but rather a deleted scene consisting of a hilarious character bit in which O'Hara shows that she is one of the most brilliant yet underrated comedic actresses working in film today.
I am starting to realize that I really like the films of Richard Linklater. I had seen and liked Slacker, I loved Dazed and Confused (a film which gave me a lot of perspective on my suburbanite friends), and enjoyed School of Rock.
I approached this film with some trepidation, only to find myself wrapped up in it as soon as I started watching it. Much of the film consists of vignettes as an observer (Wiley Wiggins, who was another Linklater alter-ego in Dazed and Confused) meets various colorful characters and absorbs their various theories on philosophy, evolution and the whatnot. Even if you aren't particularly engaged by a particular speaker, the film moves on shortly afterwards, in a Slacker-esque fashion. The style of animation changes often, sometimes several times within a scene depending more upon the intellectual content (and, later, emotional emphasis) of a scene. Over the course of the film, a story begins taking shape.
The film was shot on DV, and animated in post-production by Bob Sabiston. While I am not neccesarily a big fan of traditional rotoscoped animation (although I admit it has its place), I found that this system worked beautifully for Waking Life. No matter how surreal the images may become, there is always that strange connection to naturalistic movement.
I am planning to catch up on my Linklater pictures. I didn't see Before Sunrise because it looked sappy, but I kind of trust him now, and Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy are great screen presences (they both appear, briefly, in Waking Life); if I like it, I may also go see the sequel, Before Sunset, which is out now. I never got to see SubUrbia, but I loved the play. Apparently, this movie isn't on DVD yet, but I'm curious.
"None for you."
I had the luxury of being able to watch the first three seasons of Buffy and Angel all at once, thanks to the fact that my friend Tim lent me his DVD sets. Unfortunately, he has just gotten the fourth season box set, and is doling out discs to me as he and Patsy finish them. This means that I have to wait a week to find out what happens, just like everybody did when they were being aired.
I hate waiting.
I am finding an aspect of this show (and Buffy) interesting... I didn't used to like television, mostly because of commercials, but also because television series had an annoying tendency to meander and not go anywhere. It is vitally important that Gilligan, the Skipper and company never get off the island. Both Buffy and Angel, however, use the episodic medium to the best advantage, combining its strengths with larger mythological structures in order to produce something that works on both an intimate and epic scale.
...which formerly meant to me that the central office was at fault for a T-1 trouble, now means a test I have to take in order to graduate. It is on Thursday.