Tuesday, September 29, 2009

You Tube Tuesday: Rendezvous with Rama

Description of the film from YouTube:

A short student film inspired by the Arthur C. Clarke novel. Directed and animated by Aaron Ross, Tisch School of the Arts, NYU in 2001.
Best Animation, Marin County Film Festival, 2003
Best Animation, NYU First Run Film Festival, 2003

Pretty impressive for a student film, especially one made in 2001.  Here's a making-of video:

Incidentally, I'm pretty sure that's the same spacesuit we used the next year on A Can of Paint.  So that's two adaptations of classic stories it's been in.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Saturday Matinee: Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe, Chapter Eight

I know... six months is a hell of a time to wait to see a cliffhanger resolved. Won't happen again. However, Part Nine will probably be two weeks, despite what it says at the end of Part 2. What can I say? I have family in town next week and stuff.


When Hollywood Cared About Grammar: Note the (all-too-obvious) sound edit at about 1:00 of Part 2 to remove the redundant and ungrammatical last word of "Where did these people originate from?"

I wonder how many young boys felt odd stirrings around 2:40 of Part 2.

Odd Music Editing Department: Does the sequence beginning about 3:05 of Part 2 really warrant the triumphal music? Seems like a real bad development for our side, actually.

Speaking of that sequence, I like the uncharacteristically understated way Charles Middleton delivers the line "You traitor." Makes him seem so disappointed.

I wonder how many gay young boys (or straight girls) felt odd stirrings around 3:53 of Part 2. I somehow suspect gym socks were involved.

This week, the audio in the DVCam version was extra-chirpy, so I used the audio from the AVI version throughout (apart from the stock opening and the text crawl).

That's not as simple as it sounds, because the AVI version is sped up. So I needed a lot of trial and error to find out just how much. At a speed of 95.9%, it would seem fine for a while, then suddenly go out of sync.

When I superimposed the picture of the AVI version on the DVCam, I found out why:

1) A film break at about 2:40 of Part 1. (I dropped the AVI video in for two shots to cover it.)

2) Some frames of black removed during the segue where I ended Part 1. (I dropped in the two remaining frames of pure black several times to cover it.)

3) Another film break at about 1:38 of Part 2. (I dropped in one shot from the AVI.)

4) Yet another film break at about 5:31 of Part 2, apparently patched imperfectly in the DVCam copy with an inferior print. (I had to replace that shot and the two previous ones from AVI, since they're linked by wipes instead of cuts.)

I realize this probably doesn't interest anyone, but I enjoy writing about it anyway.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Radio: Donovan's Brain (Suspense)

NOTE: My file host (HotlinkFiles.com) recently had some hacker trouble, and as of this writing, they're still picking up the pieces. So if you can't get the players to work, please try again later.

Based on the novel by Curt Siodmak, originally published 1942.

Originally broadcast on CBS, May 18 and 25, 1944.

For our first Friday Radio back from hiatus, I decided to shoot the works and do a two-parter!

Part One:
Part Two:

Although he wrote thirteen novels, Curt Siodmak (1902-2000) remains best known as a screenwriter. And although he worked in many genres, it was in science fiction and horror that he made his mark. Here are just some of his credits:

Transatlantic Tunnel (1935)
The Invisible Man Returns (1940)
The Wolf Man (1940)
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)
I Walked with a Zombie (1943)
Son of Dracula (1943)
House of Frankenstein (1944)
The Beast with Five Fingers (1946)
The Magnetic Monster (1953)
Riders to the Stars (1954)
Creature with the Atom Brain (1955)
Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956)

As it happens, though, he didn't write any of the three screen adaptations of Donovan's Brain: The Lady and the Monster (1944), Donovan's Brain (1953), and The Brain (1962). Nor the 1955 television adaptation on Studio One.

Suspense adapted the novel twice: this 1944 version, starring Orson Welles, and a one-hour version in 1948.

Speaking of Orson Welles, is it my imagination, or in his role as Dr. Patrick Cory, is he imitating George Coulouris? (Coulouris played the banker Walter P. "I think it would be fun to run a newspaper" Thatcher in Citizen Kane.) To me, Welles sounds so much like him that when I first heard the first episode, it took me a good five or ten minutes to realize Wells was playing Cory.

And speaking of this adaptation, when it was released on LP in 1982, it won a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Well, We All Shine On

...And then, after saying how much I love science fiction, I started reading the SF news websites again, after neglecting them for a couple of months, and almost immediately, I got that depressed and futile feeling again.

Why is that? you may ask. Have you read much science fiction lately? I counter. If you haven't, let me sum it up for you: we're doomed, there's nothing we can do about it, and we deserve it, anyway. There. I've now saved you vital time you can spend doing something more helpful and energizing, like drowning yourself in the bathtub.

But, of course, I exaggerate. Not all science fiction is like that, thank goodness. But enough of it is that when I hear about a project like Shine, I heave a mighty sigh of relief. Shine is an upcoming anthology of... well, hell, go back to the source when you can, I say, and the press release says it so well:
SHINE is a collection of near-future, optimistic SF stories where some of the genre's brightest stars and some of its most exciting new talents portray the possible roads to a better tomorrow. Definitely not a plethora of Pollyannas (but neither a barrage of dystopias), SHINE will show that positive change is far from being a foregone conclusion, but needs to be hardfought, innovative, robust and imaginative. Most importantly, it aims to demonstrate that while times are tough and outcomes are uncertain, we can still bend the future in benevolent ways if we embrace change and steer its momentum in the right direction. Let's put the "can" back in "We can do it," and make our tomorrows SHINE.
The creator and editor of Shine is Jetse de Vries, for four and a half years editor of Interzone, which isn't one of your more fluffy and escapist magazines. So you know this isn't going to have starships zooming around all over the place, like... well, a lot of what I publish, actually. Nonetheless, I can assure you I'll be reading it with great interest when it comes out next year.

(There isn't an entry for it yet on Amazon. But I'm sure I'll be posting again about this anthology once you can pre-order it.)

In the meantime, check out the Shine blog at http://shineanthology.wordpress.com/. It has updates about the project, and intellectually/spiritually nourishing information about just now not-necessarily-doomed we all are.

(The blog is also where I got the illo, above, but I don't have the information to credit it more exactly.)

Gosh, a future that's worth working to achieve. Imagine that.