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    Archive for the 'Work' Category

    Armenian Genocide 100 Year Protest

    Friday, April 24th Los Angeles was the scene of a.huge protest march on Wilshire Blvd in the heart of Los Angeles. (And right past my work!)

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    It was the protest in commemoration of the 1915 Armenian genocide committed by the Turks and only spottily recognized by the nations of the world.

    I heard a lot of calls by the protestors for Turkey, the United States and other nations that haven’t to officially recognize the genocide.

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    There was a staggering amount of people. It took some of my co-workers an extra hour and more to get to work thanks to the blockage of Wilshire Blvd.

    Once I finally got to work I went out to watch the march and snapped a few photos.

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    Opening Title Ripoff

    Back in the late 90's I was an assistant director on a show for the BBC called "Stressed Eric". I was asked by the show's producer to edit together and time out the opening title sequence and as often happens with my job, given some pretty wide leeway. My contribution of note was picking the audio track "Novacane" by the artist Beck; I cut it up and used it in my rough cut of the opening title for the series.

    Novacane by Beck:

    The idea, as with most music, is that it would be replaced by the show's composer. We sent the show off to England and I was on to other things. A few months later, we got to screen the first finished Stressed Eric episode fresh from London, and to my great surprise, the BBC composers really liked most of my music picks and kept the exact spirit of them throughout the show's soundtrack. Most astonishing for me, is the total dupe of "Novacane" that remains as the show's opening theme.

    The complete Stressed Eric DVD Collection. (I'm not sure if it's available in the States, but I want to try and get my hands on a copy. I haven't seen these shows myself in years.)

    Odd bit of Stressed Eric trivia: The show was mildly successful on BBC Channel 2, which isn't too odd, since it's a very uniquely British show. But for whatever reason, NBC (which in my business long earned the name Not Buying Cartoons) decided to pick the series up, re-dub them using American actors, and air the show in prime time in 1998. It was the first animated series since Mr. Magoo in 1965 that NBC had run prime time.

    I admit, I thought it was a dreadful idea from the start- but it was exciting to see something I AD'ed air prime time on a major broadcast network. The first hint of awful came from the re-dubbing. Hank Azaria was cast as Eric, but the whole show just didn't have any charm without the cool Brit accents. Just as bad, and probably for copyright reasons due to all the barely-disguised rips, the music soundtrack was just stripped right out of the show and replaced with…. silence! It played just horrendously silent, whereas the music had played a major role in the timing of sequences and buildup of Eric's stressful overreactions to everything.

    I think three episodes of the butchered US version ran on NBC before it was mercifully canceled.

    200th Episode Table Read

    Recently we had the 200th episode table read at work. (A table read is where all the actors and principals of the show gather around a table and do a read through of the script with the production team in attendance.) This one was a party event with members of the press and lots of celebs and guests in attendance. 

    Clockwise around the table from the far left are: Scott Grimes (Steve), Wendy Schaal (Francine), Matt Weitzman (Co-Creator/Show Runner), Seth MacFarlane (Stan, Roger), Brian Boyle (Writer/Producer), Rachael MacFarlane (Haley),  Dee Bradley Baker (Klaus),  Kevin Michael Richardson (Principal Lewis).  Not in attendance was Patrick Stewart (Deputy Director Bullock).  

    My copy of the 200th episode script. 

    Champagne and a Roger-shaped cake to celebrate the event. 

    Full 22 Episode pickup

    TBS gives Speedy Renewal to AD

    The Hollywood Reporter, 11-18-2014:  TBS is going all in on American Dad. Less than a month after it started airing original episodes of the Seth MacFarlane cartoon, which aired its first 10 seasons on Fox, the cable network has ordered a new 22-episode season of the 20th Century Fox Television series.

    American Dad got off to a solid ratings start on TBS and is averaging 3.1 million gross viewers for premiere episodes this season. TBS' acquisition has also brought over the series' handsome catalog of old episodes.

    "We are thrilled with American Dad’s American Dad’s performance to date and are confident the show is going to continue its tremendous success," said Turner executive vice president, head of program acquisitions, content strategy and licensing Deborah K. Bradley. "By ordering a new season while the current season is early in its run, we're ensuring that Seth MacFarlane and his team will have the freedom to take the misadventures of the CIA agent Stan Smith and his family to a whole new level."

    American Dad is doing really well on it's new home, TBS! 

    Our recent champagne toast at work. For us, the celebration was really an additional 7 episodes on top of our initial 15 episode pickup. 

    TBS has been going gangbusters advertising the show. This was in Times Square this summer.

    About 10 shows in this season, I will edit the 200th episode of the show. (I've worked on pretty much every episode except the 2004 pilot.)

     

    My Feral Lady

    Show within-a-show- an episode of the talk show "Leeza" within the show Duckman. I'm seated right behind Leeza in this clip (wearing glasses and a backwards cap) around November, 1996. One of many episodes of Duckman I was the assistant director on.

    Work Contruction

    This is the front courtyard of the office I work in. Every day, even on the 4th floor of this building where the FTA offices are, we've been subjected to the most mind-numbingly loud jackhammering and contruction noises for the past couple of weeks. A few unlucky people have their offices litterally shaking all day. (Thankfully for me, I don't have that problem in my office). Luckily, the front fountains are now pretty much demolished and the worst annoyances should be over. 

    The view from above. Both sides of the courtyard are under construction (East and West), this is the East side. The West side barricade can just be seen. The pyramid water fountain structure is still standing in the photo above- it has since been demolished completely. 

    It used to be a very nice courtyard. Frankly, none of us who work here can quite understand the need for replacing what we already had. I've heard that it was just that the water fountains were too much trouble to maintain. 

    This was the old courtyard in its heyday. Very nice, if you ask me. 

    In the heart of the Los Angeles Miracle Mile, our office complex was used as a 'futuristic' backdrop in many movies over the years. Most notably, the 1993 movie "Demolition Man" starring Sylvester Stalone, Sandra Bullock and Wesley Snipes. 

    Above and below are renderings of what the new renovations are going to look like. Basically no more fountains, but we'll have a sort of enclosed-gardens look. 

     

    The Seasoned Professional

    An electronic Christmas Greeting that I did with my friend Mike Milo 24 years ago at Sierra On-Line. This was sent out on floppy disk to all of Sierra’s customers at the holidays. Our boss, Bill Davis (Sierra’s creative director) designed the characters. As I recall, Mike and I wrote and animated it; I did the groundhog and cupid scenes, as well as background design.

    Of course, keep in mind this was for computer technology of 24 years ago!

    HAPPY 2014!

    Temp Office

    One great thing about freelance work for me is the ability to work anywhere I want rather than being chained to a desk. This was one of my many offices last week, the Westfield Mall in Culver City.

    My 15" Retina Display MacBook Pro* headphones and a mouse and I'm editing show episodes anywhere I want. 

     

    *I loved my Hackintosh HP ProBook (as of this writing a YouTube video I produced with/about it has 35,000 views and counting) but I was really in need of tax writeoffs this year. So a MacBook fit the bill perfectly.

    There's a few things I don't like about this laptop: Being a very hands-on hardware hacker type, the MacBook is about the opposite of an obvious hardware choice for me. It's a solid block of aliminum, which makes it sleek and stylish, but pretty much the pinacle of user-non-servicable. I can't change the RAM, can't add or change any drives (technically the internal flash storage drive can be upgraded, but it's so non-cost effective as to be ridiculous). My previous HP could be tweaked in every way, from dual SSD's to added RAM, to even changing out the screen.

    But I will say, the Retina screen is what I love about the MacBook Pro. It's such a high resolution (2880×1800) that it doesn't even run in native res, otherwise you practically need a magnifying glass to view an icon. The surplus of pixels means that text is ultra-sharp and photographs look the best you'll ever see them. I've gotten so spoiled by the screen that it's dificult for me to even look at standard monitors now. The Retina dispay makes you realize most computer monitors are really just a blurry mess, we've all just been putting up with it.

    Vintage Games

    Recently, I was reading some article online that mentioned a vintage video game called "Jones in the Fast Lane". I thought, "Oh yeah, I remember that game." It was made by Sierra On Line, a video game developer in Northern California that I worked for over twenty years ago.

    Then I remembered… "Wait a second, I was actually IN that stupid game!" I had to track down some screenshots of it, and sure enough there's a digitzed me from twenty years ago.

    At the time, (1990) I worked as a digital animator at Sierra. We made video games for the PC market- in those days, many years prior to computer based compact disc drives, a PC video game shipped on as many as 30 floppy disks! I did animation for Sierra's very popular quest series of games: King's Quest, Hero Quest, as well as Leisure Suit Larry. As obscure as these titles are today, they were massivly popular back in the late 80's and early 90's. 

    So anyway, the company did the Jones in the Fast Lane series and I was one of the employees asked to do a guest appearance in the game. I recorded my lines in the studio and had my likeness digitized on the company's soundstage which at the time was state of the art for the fledgling field of 'motion capture'.

    At the time, a school of thought said the future of computer video games was in digitally capturing the motion of human actors, the captured data then re-worked digitally into animation.  Another school of thought said the future would be fully computer generated 3D graphics, concieved and manipulated entirely by animators. The motion capture crowd scoffed at this. Computers simply weren't powerful enough, and wouldn't be for many, many years to generate the subtleties that a human actor could. Turns out, they were wrong about that, and 3D graphics won out. But mo-cap is still widely used today in films like Avatar.

    At any rate, I now look back on it as a privildge that I got to be a part of an industry in its infancy, sort of like working in silent films before there were talkies. Today's computer software industry is nothing like the seat-of-the pants industry I worked in back in 1990, as computers have evolved many generations since then.

    At the time, these terrible 16-bit graphics were state of the art. 256 colors was revolutionary. A computer with 8MBs of memory was a hot-rod. Your browser had to download more data to load this blog than the amount of PC memory we had to cram entire video games on!

    The game's graphics depended on your PC. If you had a decent video graphics chip, you got full motion and 256 glorious colors. (Today's computers display millions of colors). If a lesser graphic card, your PC defaulted to the 16-color version. I remember being horrified having to create 16-color versions of my artwork and animation. And audio? In order to hear me spout: "Hello, welcome to QT clothing!" you needed a seperate Sound Blaster audio card. (Cost about $100 at the time). And to hear the music soundtrack as other than 8-bit bleeps, you needed a Roland MT 32 synth module which would run you as much as a decently spec'd computer does today.

    The packaging the game came in. At the time, Jones In the Fast Lane was available for the IBM PC (running MS DOS) as well as Radio Shack's Tandy 1000 and 2000 line of computers. (Yes, for a brief moment in time, Radio Shack actually sold its own proprietary computer competing against the IBM PC.) 

    As I vaugely recall, loading a copy of the game onto your PC took a few hours of swapping out floppy discs! (Please insert disc 18…)

    Moving to TBS

    The show I work on is switching networks for the 2014 season (11), from broadcast on FOX to cable on TBS. 

    AD Movin' to TBS- Hollywood Reporter

     

    As much as I know so far, it'll be the same crew, same studio, same location and I'll be doing the same job- just now the end result going up on a different network. I'm pretty psyched- the show has done well on FOX for nearly a decade now (season 10 will still air on FOX finishing out 2013-14) and now moving to a new network is like a reboot. With any luck, we'll run another decade. 

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