Hey, how ya been? Ready for another bushel of sweet tunes? Of course you are:
Lately – The Helio Sequence
My friend Henry turned me on to these dudes by dragging me to a show at the Bowery Ballroom last May. I really liked the show, but the album took a while to grow on me. Consider it grown now, though, since I’ve got two tracks in this episode. This is from Keep Your Eyes Ahead.
Heroes – TV on the Radio
A cover of David Bowie’s classic (Jakob Dylan’s version is also, I’m sad to say, pretty good). The original appears in a series of Microsoft commercials from the ’90s that are still some of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. This song has nothing to do with that, though, it’s from an interesting compilation called War Child – Heroes – Vol. 1 that also features folks like Beck, Franz Ferdinand, Lily Allen, and The Hold Steady, aka the most overrated band in the world.
10 Ways of Return – Marcel
This is from Nightmares On Wax Presents Wax On Records, a mix cd I’ve been sampling pretty liberally for use on the nurblecast. Pretty soon, with a little effort, you’ll be able to reconstruct the entire album on your own. Okay, a lot of effort. It would probably be better for everyone if you just bought it like a normal person.
Diego’s Theme – Boca 45
I don’t think Boca 45 needs any explanation, and I don’t think I could provide one if asked to. They’re just cool. This is from Vertigo Sounds.
Shakatakadoodub – Kruder & Dorfmeister
New K&D! From the Shakawakawhatever EP. These guys rule. Even at 7 minutes long, this track is incredibly chill.
Rewrite (Justus Kohncke Remix) – Sia
Huh? Sia? Never heard of her. I’m more of a Justus Kohncke fan, myself, the Sia is just a coincidence… This is from the Remixes 2 EP. In all seriousness, I’m sad to report that the other remixes of Sia’s stuff are pretty weak. Her production on her regular albums is so spot on that it’s really hard to improve the songs in any way. Maybe it’s a lack of imagination on my part, but I’d like to impose a ban on Sia remixes, and so help me if anyone ever covers Breathe Me or Distractions, I’m going to have them killed.
Exercise 3 – Bent
Weird and wonderful old Bent, from Everlasting Blink.
Ray Ray (Slope Remix) – Fat Freddy’s Drop
Just a cool funky track off of Slope is Dope, a Sonar Collective compilation from 2006. I live mostly in the past.
Live and Let Die – Duffy
Makes No Sense – Boca 45
Again, Boca 45 from Vertigo Sounds, still nothing to add.
Hallelujah – The Helio Sequence
And more Helio to wrap things up. I got nuthin’.
So I’ve been working my way slowly through Helvetica, the documentary about the font. I love it, it’s both geeky and rewarding in a way that not many things are, but it’s also kinda hard work.
Listening to designers talk about the mundanities of typefaces, and drone on about the philosophical implications of their work is only fun if you’re working on something, otherwise it’s a little like hanging out in a doctor’s waiting room when you don’t have an appointment.
The thing that got me was the level of revulsion professional designers still harbor towards David Carson. Says Michael Bierut just after Carson’s sequence in the film, “That was the rise of what’s referred to as ‘grunge typography’, that became an all-consuming aesthetic for about 2, 3, 4, 5 years as that trend worked its way down from the masters who originated it to anyone who had a tendency to make mistakes and all of a sudden found that they looked good now instead of incompetent, which is the way they looked the day before.”
A lot of Carson’s stuff looks dated now, a lot of it is totally chaotic, and some of it is straight up bad. Carson hasn’t done himself any favors by acting like a jackass in the intervening 15 years since he hit the bigtime, but flipping through my copy of “The End of Print” (as I do more often than is probably healthy), it’s hard not to see a kind of retarded genius there.
At the risk of stating the obvious, I think people like whatshisname’s reaction to Carson and to what they’ve dismissively titled the “grunge movement” can be explained simply by examining how each guy sees his role in the creative process, and by the social context of the time.
Helvetica in particular showcases designers who see their role in society as distillers of information, problem solvers, and (to some extent) turd polishers. Good designers take complex concepts and systems and make them intuitively usable, the New York subway map being a good example (and the supplemental bit in Helvetica with Massimo Vignelli talking about his failed map design and contrasting it with what’s in use today is a great distillation of the thought process) of not only how graphic design choices can have direct, daily impact on people’s lives, but of all the pitfalls that must be navigated in creating the work in the first place.
A lot of designers see it as their role to make the world more usable, simpler, more attractive, more legible, and Carson comes along and basically says, ‘No, my role as a designer is to emotionally interpret the subject and come up with something that speaks to the viewer on a visceral level, even if it means making it less legible.’*
I mean, he’s not designing bus signs or airline routing tables, he’s making magazines, and while he did, for a time, make it okay for every designer with a working copy of illustrator to start randomly dropping letters and fucking up their letterspacing, it’s hard for me not to look at a lot of that work and see something that speaks on a poetic level, rather than a literal one, something that designers specifically avoided, and continue to avoid.
The world in which Helvetica grew up was a crazy world. Nuclear war seemed imminent, Vietnam was raging, everybody was on drugs. Design needed to be calm and legible, because people needed something comforting staring back at them from the newspapers and subway platforms. By the time Carson came along, things were pretty much okay. We had Clinton, the Soviet Union had collapsed, and the scariest thing I remember worrying about was whether or not my friends were going to figure out that I didn’t really like Nirvana all that much. Graphic design got pretty fucked up for a time. Kyle Cooper was making crazy title sequences, Underworld and Tomato were making music videos out of flashing lights and weird scary words, Carson was designing for Levis and Knob Creek and Coke, but it was okay, because people had the presence of mind to look at it and interpret it.
Things are scary again now. Even the screensaver-chic of the early 2000s has been replaced by soothing 3d imagery and deathly literal design. Right now it’s all about context. Attention spans are shorter because people are fighting for every moment they’ve got, and advertisers are looking for every way they can find to purchase those moments and trade them for whatever pennies you have left at the end of the day.
As things improve, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see the pendulum start to swing back towards more impressionistic design. Right now we’re being assaulted by typography. Every commercial has captions and legal type and logo bugs, every tv show has lower 3rds popping in telling you what you need to stick around for. Billboards scroll. Everything’s a fucking jumbotron now. At some point, the overload will start to take its toll on the designers themselves. In some ways its already started with the phenomenon of billboard remixing that you see in the subways around New York, but you’ll start to see it bleed into street advertising first, then magazine editorial, then print ads, then TV. Will we ever return to the place where we’re comfortable paying eight dollars for a magazine that prints its articles in the symbols font? Doubtful, but as the cycle continues, pretty soon someone will make a title sequence with a bunch of four frame edits and we’ll at least be back in Dr. Moreau land.
I’m looking forward to it.
Even a documentary about fonts needs a villan, and I can’t think of someone more antithetical to the Swiss school of design than David Carson, I’m just amazed that fifteen years after Raygun hit its stride, people are still describing his work as incompetent.
*obviously not an actual quote.
From a New York Times article about South Park comes this interesting tidbit of TV history:
It brings to mind a similar arrangement made by another visionary, the sorely underestimated Desi Arnaz. In 1951, for “I Love Lucy,” the show he did with his wife, Lucille Ball, he suggested that CBS use three cameras and film the show in 35 millimeter instead of just the rudimentary technology they used to broadcast the show nationally.
The network balked at the $3,000 expense, reasoning that preserving it on film was pointless: why would anyone ever want to watch a show more than once? Mr. Arnaz said he would pay for the film as long as he got the rights. We all know how that turned out.
Huh. Never knew that. Very cool.
via nick douglas
Well, I have obtained a PDF copy — you can read the whole thing right here. And it’s really a striking read, because it demonstrates two things. First, how much the current GOP strategy seems to echo the strategic objectives Kristol articulated 15 years ago. And second, how much worse off the GOP is now than it was then in terms of being able to achieve those objectives. Here’s the crux:
Passage of the Clinton health care plan, in any form, would guarantee and likely make permanent an unprecedecented federal intrusion into and disruption of the American economy — and the establishment of the largest federal entitlement program since Social Security. It’s success would signal a rebirth of centralized welfare-state policy at the very moment we have begun rolling back that idea in other areas…
The long term political effects of a successful Clinton health care bill will be even worse — much worse. It will relegitimize middle-class dependency for “security” on government spending and regulation. It will revive the reputation of the party that spends and regulates, the Democrats, as the generous protector of middle-class interests. And it will at the same time strike a punishing blow against Republican claims to defend the middle class by restraining government…
Its rejection by Congress and the public would be a monumental setback for the President, and an incontestable piece of evidence that Democratic welfare-state liberalism remains firmly in retreat.
As Greg says (and his post is good and succinct so you should probably check it out), this is amusing mostly because liberal ideals are anything but “in retreat”.
The issue is now, as it was then, much more about thwarting the President and making Democrats look ineffective than it is about real ideology. Healthcare is a winning issue, not because it’s a craven “chicken in every pot” giveaway, but because people need it and only government can assure that it’s provided properly. Believing that government can’t do healthcare is akin to believing that truly good healthcare can never be achieved by average people.
Republicans like Kristol also know that for them to win, Democrats need to lose, and lose big, on core issues like this, regardless of what the actual outcome will mean for you and I. It’s scorched earth politics.
“Obama Confronts a Choice on Copters” read this week’s New York Times . The President soon “will have to decide whether to proceed with some of the priciest aircraft in the world — a new fleet of 28 Marine One helicopters that will each cost more than the last Air Force One….The choice confronting Mr. Obama encapsulates the tension between two imperatives of his nascent presidency, the need to meet the continuing threats of an age of terrorism and the demand for austerity in a period of economic hardship.”
This is a gross misrepresentation of the choice Obama faces. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn) and others have alleged that the contract for 28 Marine One helicopters was awarded to the Italian firm Finmeccanica as a thank you for Italy’s participation in the Iraq War. The evidence, however, indicates that the contract was more specifically a payoff to the Italian government for supplying the forged documents showing Saddam had obtained weapons grade uranium from Niger. President Bush famously used this fraudulent “yellowcake” intelligence to justify launching the war.
Um, wow. First of all… 28? Second… One helicopter costs more than Clinton’s Air Force One? Really nice, and I mean really nice civilian helicopters cost between $10 and $15 million. The famous UH-60 Blackhawk “only” costs around $6 million, and the decked-out Apache gunship costs around $18 million. I’m either suprised that Air Force One cost less than that, or that we’re spending $400 million for a single chopper. Not sure which is worse. Third… We apparently spent less than a million on the new Presidential limousines, and that bought us 3 of ‘em.
I really hope I’m not the last person to write about this.
It’s not a pretty time to be a digital cinema camera manufacturer. There’s a crisis in the economy, film and tv production are down, reality television is supplanting dramatic content at an alarming rate.
And then there are the sensor wars.
In one corner, we have Panavision. Panavision probably needs no introduction to even casual sentient beings, but their reputation has been cemented on good old fashioned film gear, and their success in the new world of digital cinema seems to have as much to do with inertia and laziness as it does with superior camera design. Panavision makes a CCD-based camera called the Genesis, based more or less on the same technology powering the Sony F35, and all recent video cameras.
In the other corner we have Red. I have at various times called Red a fraud, the iPhone of digital cameras, and the most useless object I would probably still buy if I had the money. Red’s camera is based on CMOS technology, the same thing that powers most consumer digital still cameras and, apparently, most spy satellites and Mars landers.
Other contenders include Arri, most notably, as well as Thomson’s Viper and the aforementioned Sony F35 and F24 CineAlta cameras, and Dalsa, who have recently exited the digital cinema market and have stripped their website of everything cinema-related except for this article entitled CCD vs. CMOS.
Now, I’m not an image scientist, and I don’t really have a dog in this fight. I will admit up front that the arguments of those who back CCDs (Panavision, Sony) make more sense to me than those that back CMOS. I will also admit that I would not be surprised to find out that I am not only wrong, but an idiot. It would not be the first time.
CMOS cameras (Red, Arri, Canon, Nikon) market themselves primarily as high-resolution machines. Red’s literature in particular screams increasingly large numbers followed by ‘k’, seemingly placing pixel count above any other consideration. They achieve their resolution at film-friendly speeds by using a Bayer pattern, spacing an irregular number of red green and blue photosites in a pattern and then assembling an image out of that data further down the line. I italicized assembling because the war has gotten so prickly that I had to sit for a little bit to think of a word to use there that wasn’t “reconstructing” “interpolating” or some other loaded verb. People fly off the handle at such terms, as you’ll soon see.
This assembling is the chief weapon against CMOS technology, as employed by the CCD crowd. CCDs use an identical number of RGB photosites and thus (they claim) do not have to assemble anything. John Galt, creator of Panavision’s Genesis and the “Star Wars” F900, has an interesting and useful article detailing his perceived shortcomings of CMOS technology and disparaging Red and Dalsa. He throws a lot of chaff up because he hates the Dalsa people and, I assume, is quite threatened by the Red people, but his description of CMOS and Bayer from a technical perspective is fairly, um, illuminating. Also of interest is a periodically updated post called Red Facts that takes aim at Red’s megapixel count, color fidelity, and general worthiness compared to Panavision and Arri.
I am pretty amazed at the Red camera. It produces very large attractive images and it is downright cheap even compared to a Viper, which is basically a video camera. However, pulling keys from material shot on green or (heaven forbid) blue screen with a Red camera is unpleasant at best. You can get very satisfactory results pulling keys in Final Cut, which leads people to say lots of things that they can’t possibly prove, but at full resolution and with the goal of it looking good, things get dicey. Quadruply so for the Dalsa camera, which billed itself as an uncompressed, no-compromise 4k camera. I attempted to pull a key from green screen material shot BY THE DALSA PEOPLE, and was confronted with weird edges, random blocks, and things that reminded me of the sort of compression you’d see on HDCAM or YouTube. I might be willing to accept that I was doing it wrong, but as pulling keys properly is basically my job, the argument for my failure in this matter would need to be pretty compelling. These tests, brief as they were, did not make me like either the Red or the Dalsa cameras, and have colored (hee hee) my perception of CMOS cameras in general ever since.
CCDs are not without weirdness of their own, and if you take John Galt at his word, then the weirdness is a lot harder to explain. The original Genesis cameras were fraught with problems. In Superman Returns Adam Sandler’s Click, one scene featured backlit miniblinds separated by 2-inch dividers (sills? what are those called?). The light streamed across the dividers, creating the illusion that there was one large window. This was not a flare, or a lens anomaly, this was a sensor error. Apparently these kinds of things have been ironed out, but still, without the excuse of interpolation or, ahem, assembling, I’m left to wonder what they’re doing in there that would cause something like that. Additionally, Star Wars looked like absolute shit.
Nevertheless, Panavision’s Genesis and its sister the F35 have become pretty popular for filmmakers. I see them constantly in New York now, particularly on commercial shoots. The workflow is pretty straightforward, Sony now makes a deck that can accept HQ HDCAM-SR tapes, allowing people to shoot with very low compression to a tape format, which is still a lot easier to deal with than piles of hard drives and millions of dpx files. The Panalog LUT system is well documented and hasn’t really changed at all since its inception, so there’s a great deal of confidence there. Its easy and it works, two things that make them very popular with people like me.
By contrast, the Red post workflow is a screaming clusterfuck of massive proportions. Rather than decode the Bayer data on the camera, which would be practically impossible, Red leaves it to post production to deal with translating the raw image data into visible, usable pictures, a process that happens at about 3 frames per second on a good day. It is a testament to the marketing prowess of Red that they have invented a camera that requires such effort to get images from the camera to the screen, but that people are still lining up to use.
This will be fixed, eventually. Or at least dealt with. As a result of its popularity, or its buzz, equipment vendors like Avid (the editing giant) Autodesk (of Flame fame, the funnel through which 90% of all commercials are pushed) and Baselight (the hippest color corrector on the market) have been racing to integrate Red decoding into their software, so the problematic little r3d files spit out by the Red cameras can be read in without having to go through that annoying and messy 3fps transfer process.
My question is, why? The Red camera is an achievement, but is it better than the Genesis? Is it even better than its CMOS cousin, the Arri D21? I do not actually know.
Like I said at the outset, the pro-CCD, anti-CMOS arguments make logical sense to me, and my tests have only reinforced my confidence in non-Bayer images. It was this inclination that led me to send an article about a Dalsa/Panavision/Arri shootout in 2005, along with a catty little message, to a friend who knows Alan from Dalsa (who is no longer there), and would, I thought, be amused by what sounded like a very bad day for him.
Subject: dalsa and panavision
I’m casually looking into digital cameras at the request of my superiors, and ran across this article that seems to be having a bit of fun with your pal Alan:
“the algorithms will take care of it” appears to be his new mantra.
My friend then forwarded my email to Alan.
For being so annoying, I was rewarded by an email back from Alan, via my friend, which, after some unkind words aimed at me, went like this (before you even try, I’ll warn you that the Dalsa links are probably dead):
More to the point Geoff Boyle is a fuck-pig. Having said that look at Boyle the fuck-pig’s tests here that proved our point:
then take a look at our own disclosure which takes it a step further:
then we go even further:
Nonetheless lets look at the facts:
1. The ZODIAC movie, was shot on a Viper. It might be beneficial to understand that DALSA makes the fucking CCD sensor in the VIPER. We consider it a “B-grade” video CCD, nothing more. Not to say great images cannot come from the camera; indeed they can. However even in “Filmstream” mode you top out at about 9+ stops of exposure latitude and VIPER shoots ONLY at 1920×1080. Great if you are doing video, but not the schiz for features. Oh, and did I mention that WE MAKE THE FUCKING SENSOR?
2. There is no compression whatsoever coming out of our camera. None. They are 16 bit linear uncorrected HDRI DPX files in RAW Bayer format. I do not understand what “error correction algorithms” you are referring to. Hopefully not anything Boyle the fuck-pig said, as he does not understand even the basics of what was told to him. The camera has a great deal of ‘correction’ going on internally: tap balancing, crosstalk correction, etc., but nothing Kirk would have to worry his pretty little head about. It is all done in real time in the FPGA.
3. “Are you ‘reconstructing’ part of the image data ‘lost’ in the bayer pattern?” you ask…I say shame on you! SHAME I say! Exactly what image data is “lost” in the Bayer pattern? This is one of the great fucking myths about CCD’s, propagated by sniveling, ignorant little fucks on the internet. Look, I do not for one minute propose to be an expert in CCD design; on the other hand I have actually met experts in CCD design, including the guy who actually wrote the book on CCD’s: Albert Theuwissen, who coincidentally works for DALSA.
Also I actually have had to study CCD architecture very closely in order to understand how our camera functions. Navigate to this page:
and read the document:
Technical Paper on Image Resolution of Camera System
What it basically tells you is this: the way we do Bayer sampling DOES NOT LIMIT EACH PHOTORECEPTOR SITE TO ONLY THE FILTERED COLOR! All of the photoreceptor sites capture all the spectra of light falling on the image plane, they are just BIASED toward a certain
frequency based on the Bayer mask. We make the goddamn CCD, the microfilters, and we WRITE THE GODDAM IMAGING
COEFFICEINTS!!!!! Don’t people think we might have done our motherfucking homework? If anyone wants to come in and test this, tell them to have the fuck at it. Bring color charts, High MTF samples, anything that can be thrown at the test. This is the single most misunderstood point in all CCD imaging: color reconstruction is not interpolation!
I did not go to MIT. I am not smarter than Alan, or Jim Jannard, or even Geoff Boyle. But this sounds like semantics, and the proof is in the images. Red images, properly processed, look great but are at best difficult to work with in a vfx environment. This is because they are compressed and have undergone some level of ‘color reconstruction’ or interpolation or assembling or whatever. Dalsa images, even when shot by Alan himself, were very difficult to key properly, and a lot of discussion at the time centered around the basic logic of looking at a file browser containing a directory of Dalsa frames and saying “the images have to be good, look how BIG they are!”
I do not care, ultimately, what camera people use as long as the images are acquired properly. I would prefer people continue to shoot film, and I would prefer that film be scanned at as high a bit depth as possible through the best lens available. This will not continue, however, and people will continue to ask me, as a post production professional, which camera I think is best. At the moment, I would tend to say the Genesis, because I and my colleagues have had the most luck with Genesis images. Further testing may swing things toward Red, who knows.
One thing will always remain, however, and that is that I will always enjoy annoying Alan Lasky.
As if by magic, look what showed up on todays shoot:
A while ago I announced that I was going to move to New York, and put up a surprisingly (to me) honest assessment of what that involved, practically and emotionally.
Now that I’ve been here for nearly 9 months, I want to start reflecting on that decision. Needs to be done.
I miss proper Mexican food. I do miss driving, though I moved mostly to get away from my car (which I was convinced I would die in sooner or later). I miss In ‘n’ Out.
I also miss my friends. Not a single one of the people who swore we’d hang out all the time has come through since I’ve been here (which I’m told is pretty normal, nobody wants to hang out with the new guy), and very few of my LA friends have come through with promised visits. I’ve met some cool people since I’ve been here, but making lifelong friendships obviously takes longer than 9 months, so I’m left missing the ones I’d already made.
Most of all, and this is the troubling part, I miss feeling comfortable. New York requires a tremendous amount of effort just to maintain a basic level of happiness. It’s a hard city to live in. It’s also expensive, particularly for a spoiled brat like me. So going out to eat every night and hitting up bars and spending tons of money on booze and snacks just isn’t possible the way it was in LA. So doing all those things and going to all those places that I referenced as reasons to move in the first place, well, they’re suddenly just out of reach because I’m fighting to tread water.
This can all be remedied by making some tough financial decisions. I probably don’t need to live in my fuck off apartment in Tribeca, but coming from a comparable place in Santa Monica, I just wasn’t ready for a $1500 a month hovel, and we didn’t have a lot of time to comparison shop.
At any rate. This is still a work in progress. Anyone thinking of moving here could do worse than read this amazingly prophetic Consumerist post by Ben Popken called “How to Move to New York City Sane and not Broke“. The bit about saving up 5 months rent before finding an apartment literally saved my life. Literally.
Via BoingBoingGadgets comes the supposed pitch book for the new Pepsi logo. Having worked in design firms, this all looks very familiar…
This 6MB PDF that is purported to be the pitch used by design group Arnell to sell executives at Pepsi on a new logo design is perhaps the most brilliant example of puffed up design faffery I’ve ever seen. I think the final design of the logo family, each slightly modified on each Pepsi product, is weaker than its predecessor, but the bolstering quasi-science used to justify the recalibration of a few bezier curves is art of Timecubeesquemagnificence. [via]
Some choice excerpts:
“1929 Pepsi Geometries: Perimeter Oscillations”, giving me a new favorite term to trot out the next time I’m criticizing the shape of a design.
My favorite bit of their favorite bits:
There is supposedly some equation underpinning the ratio of each of the logo curves, which, well, duh. It’s as if the designer took off his chunky glasses, peered around around the conference table, and stared into each Pepsi executive’s soul. “Gentlemen, we will make these lines…with math.”
I have to say, this may look like it was thrown together out of bullshit and, who knows? It may have been. I can attest that the designers I’ve worked with, particularly the logo designers, have been known to overthink things to a shocking degree. Making something that just looks cool is pretty easy for designers, but making shit up to justify it isn’t all that easy, since most designers are not creative writers. Thus, it’s usually easier to design something with a philosophy behind it that you can stand on. It makes presentations go a lot more smoothly since you’re not just pulling answers out of your ass, plus it’s often the only way to sleep at night given the tremendous fees one gets for designing corporate identities. Finally, as much as it may look like these things are mostly improvised, the guys that make them take their jobs pretty seriously. Often annoyingly so. Go watch Helvetica if you want to see what I mean.
That said, there’s a quote out there by rockstar designer David Carson that I can’t find at the moment, but it goes something like “Sometimes you just want to make the logo you want to make, so you go in there and say ‘I researched the history of your company and noticed your commitment to environmental sustainability and that’s why I made your logo green.’”
Amusingly, when I went to go find the link for the movie Helvetica, whose ugly mug was up there? David Carson! Weird, since he’s the person I least associate with that font.
I’m old enough to remember when there was only one photograph of David Fincher on the internet, and maybe one interview. Now he’s everywhere. Via Defamer, here’s a transcript of a talk he gave at a BFI Screening in England somewhere, where he gets surprisingly frank about lots of interesting stuff.
My favorite bits:
MS: Talking of fist-fights, we’re going to skip The Game, which I think is a fantastic film, and talk about Fight Club. Clearly you were reticent to go back to Fox after your Alien 3 experience, but they supported your thing.
DF: But they were all fired, that’s the beauty of it. [audience laughs] Every time somebody comes and says, “You’ve gotta scratch our backs,” I say, “Why? You’re not going to have this job in 11 months. I wanna talk to your assistant.” [audience laughs]
On digital cinematography and his reputation for doing lots of takes:
DF: It’s not the camera. There are certain things that digital doesn’t do well – but it’s more about the workflow to me. It’s about the way that I’m able to make my movie. I like the idea that the first three takes, you’re just rehearsing. I like the fact that actors never have to stop in the middle and watch somebody take $1,000 worth of film out the top of a camera and put another $1,000 worth in. I like the fact that there’s no guilt, you can just delete stuff. If something’s not worth the time that it took for everyone to say it, you can just go beep and it’s gone. So I like the plastic nature of how I’m able to work in digital.
[...] And also, I hate voodoo. I hate the whole thing that you’re going to see seven out of eight takes that are out of focus, and somebody’s going to say, “But that last one’s pretty good.” And you can say, “When you’re directing your movie, you can get one out of eight takes.” No, as a way of working, I prefer having dailies in your lap, rather than waiting to see how much you hate everything you did.
MS: And in terms of takes, you are renown for doing a few.
DF: This is bullshit. Look, you’re spending $150m, unbelievable amounts of money to ship period vehicles from Illinois down to Louisiana and get them working. There are teams of people making these cars work, all this stuff. So you get there and you’re going to shoot three takes and then go home? Why? This is the whole reason we’re here – we’re here to do what’s in front of the camera.
True story. I was once thrown onto a phone call with David Fincher because I told my new boss that I knew about feature film DI. He has a reputation for being an asshole, which I think is somewhat unfair, the sense I got is that he just really doesn’t like having his time wasted, and probably 75% of the questions he asked me were for the purposes of determining whether or not I was wasting his time, which, in fairness, I kind of was.
Also, for the record, Christian Bale got a raw deal on the whole “recorded tirade” thing. It’s obviously up for debate whether or not the DP was the good guy or the bad guy in that particular situation, but I bet lots of people would like to see the sound guy or assistant editor who recorded and leaked that voted off the island. Totally unprofessional.
Normal people don’t make movies. Normal people certainly don’t act in movies. I can barely finish reading a magazine article, much less steer a $150 million movie through production for three years, or wake up every morning, commute to work, spend all day pretending to be a completely different human being while 80 people watch, then go home and resume my life. You have to be crazy to even be capable of that shit, and you have to be twice as crazy to be good at it. You want shitty on set tirades? Spend a day with Michael Bay.