Voice of God

With the Aspen Center for Physics film almost completed (see several earlier posts, e.g. here, here, and here), various things get set in stone once and for all, so that other things can be built on top of them. At some point, I had to be certain of the final form of the voice over, so that Dave (the editor) can lay it in and time various transitions around it. This was done on Friday along with a huge rewrite of the whole film script, and lots of work on picking b-roll footage and other material to illustrate the film and create atmosphere. Once my co-producer/director Bob had glanced at it and made some helpful remarks (always good to have more eyeballs to spot any mistakes that could get frozen in) I was ready for Monday’s exercise – recording the final voice work. No turning back, no second chances, since we need to deliver the film this week.

While I’ve directed a bit before, I’ve not ever had the chance to direct a hugely experienced star actor, so this was going to be a blast! A while back, over food and drink at a party, my friend Harry Lennix (who loves contemporary physics – that’s in fact why we met, years ago) had generously agreed to do the voice narration for this project, and I was very pleased since it was his voice I had in mind since late August […] Click to continue reading this post

Metropolis II

Chris Burden’s Metropolis II, on display at LACMA, is a lot of fun. I was at LACMA recently, catching up with an old friend, hanging out and chatting for a while on the lawn. It was a pleasant afternoon to spend a bit of time talking about life and work outside, wandering into the museum to look at at an exhibit for a bit, and then resting outside in the late afternoon sun again, before going to see something else.

Anyway, the Metropolis II installation was fun, and very interesting. I can’t help […] Click to continue reading this post

Time for Superstring Beans

Yeah, I’ve made this joke before but I am always impressed when these begin to show up at the market, and they’e been showing up the last few weeks.

They’re very tasty, so I’m pleased to see and buy them… but I do suspect that a tiny part of the reason I get them is that I get to write a blog post with Superstring Beans in the title once again (see earlier posts on this here and here).

Click for a larger view, if you wish.

Anyway, there it is. Some are going into a pan tonight for my evening meal…

-cvj Click to continue reading this post

Speaking of Time…

Just finished a complete redo of a nine (plus one) panel page of the Arena story that was the prototype outing for the graphic novel project. (See some earlier posts, e.g. here, about this redo process.)

I shudder at the horrible drawings on the page it replaced.

To the left are some parts of the new page… Click for a larger view.

In other news, I met our new Dean (of the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences) today, during a short session where a few of us had a conversation with him while someone filmed us. I think it is some film they are doing about the new Dean taking up the reigns, or something similar. He seemed a nice enough fellow, and he seems to be coming with definite ideas for interesting changes… I’m looking forward […] Click to continue reading this post

Monster Drawing Rally!

Yesterday was the Monster Drawing Rally for 2012! I’ve reported to you on this event before in previous posts (see here and here, for example) and was pleased to go again this year. It was in a different space again, now co-sponsored (with Outpost for Contemporary Art) by the Pasadena Armory Center for the Arts, and hosted there.

Again, it was lovely to see people fully engaged in the business of drawing, sketching, and a variety of related activities, in shifts lasting an hour each…

There was even a father-daughter team or two, given that it was Father’s Day.

My favorite thing though, I must admit, was the fan mechanism at the top of the room that elegantly converted a rotating motion into a gentle side to side motion, moving a large fan […] Click to continue reading this post

H4 Project – Kickstarter

I’d like to draw your attention to an exciting project that my dear friend Harry Lennix is working on. It is called H4, and combines the two parts of Shakespeare’s Henry IV into a film. I have mentioned it in previous posts once or twice, (I did a few vista to some of the locations), and now it is post-production. There’s an effort to raise extra funds to allow the film to be completed and find its way to audiences where I expect it will be both entertaining and educational, given the goals that Harry has for the project. Have a look at the film below to have it all explained to you, and then head over to the kickstarter page if you want to help out!


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Je Suis un Rock Star

20120612-183800.jpgSo out of the blue the other day, I got an email with this photograph in it, and an explanation for its appearance. It seems that some old friends from my school days (who I’ve not heard from in a long, long time) were discussing it on Facebook, and one of the people reading the comments who lives near my mum in Preston, the town where I went to school, realized that I was one of the people in the picture…!! Since I am not on Facebook* (despite some misleading pages that sometimes send people astray – sigh) (**Update 27th Dec. 2014 – actually, now I’m back on FB as of 10th November 2014.) he contacted me the old fashioned way via finding my email address on my website. Nice and quaint, the way I like it.

I remember this 1983 event, but had no idea a picture was taken! Since it is all over […] Click to continue reading this post

Peek Over My Shoulder

Been splitting my time between being a physicist and being a filmmaker making a film about physicists. It has been an interesting time. Recall from earlier posts (see e.g. here and here) that I am working on getting a film made for the Aspen Center for physics in celebration of its 50th Anniversary. I’ve got rather sucked into the process – a lot more than I intended – and so find myself putting together the script that will guide the editor in cutting the film. This means that I’m reviewing acres of footage of interviews and picking out some great quotes from my awesome cast of interviewees. You might recognize some of them (feel free to try to name them, and their field…).

What you’re seeing in the picture is a screenshot of some of the windows I have open […] Click to continue reading this post

Before and After

The last several sessions on The Project have been an exercise in revisiting some older pages. In fact, in the sample you can see to the left the subject is the very first page that I started experimenting with seriously for developing and learning production techniques.

Back then I was doing my inking digitally, and I ended up with work that I did not like the look of. I hate the clean straight lines that resulted. Also it was too slow on the computer to control the brush with the fidelity I wanted…various other things bothered me as well, which I won’t trouble […] Click to continue reading this post

Science Fiction Special

Just as I left for my shooting trip last week, I had a moment of indecision. I wanted to take something to read during airport and airplane downtime, but wanted to travel light. The books I wanted to take felt a bit big in my bag, somehow, largely because I could not decide what I was in the mood for and so was in danger of bringing more than one. Then I remembered that I was behind on New Yorkers, and was taking my iPad anyway. So I made sure the New Yorker was updated on it, and what did I see waiting for me to delve into on the plane? The special issue on Science Fiction!

It is an excellent issue, with contributions from lots of authors, including several short reflective pieces from legendary authors like Ray Bradbury, Ursula K. Le Guin, Margaret Atwood, and William Gibson and newer authors like China Miéville and Karen Russell talking about things like how they found their way into fiction and science fiction, and its role as a gateway to the larger literary world. Of course, there are also the usual reflections about the snobbery and separation into high and low culture that existed in the early days (and that still persists today) for literature as well as film and TV when it comes to science fiction (see a related discussion here), many of which are humorously done, and will be familiar to many readers from their childhood…. I strongly recommend getting that issue if you do not already subscribe. It may well still be on magazine stands…

In related news, Ray Bradbury died on Monday, I heard on the radio yesterday. This is […] Click to continue reading this post

Don’t Forget the Transit of Venus!

Hot on the heels of the annular eclipse of a few weeks ago, we’ve another giant body passing in front of the sun tomorrow. Venus! This time the giant body (roughly the same size as the earth…just a bit smaller) is much further away from us, and so is dwarfed by the sun. It’ll be a tiny dot on the disc of the sun that takes several hours to pass across. This’ll give you plenty of time to look. (In the US, for example, it’ll start at about 6:06pm EST and about 3:06pm PST…) You won’t get another chance (at least, not from earth…) until 2117, so have a go!

In fact, you’ll be doing something that is vital for modern astronomy right now – observing the effects of a planet on the light of its parent star as seen from afar. This is the principal method for detecting planets moving around distant stars, the “extra-solar” planets you hear so much about in the news from time to time. Here, we’re seeing it happening for a familiar planet around a familiar star. Although both objects are quite familiar, this transit is still worthwhile to study, since it helps planet hunters learn more about how such processes can help deduce things about the planet doing the transit. So study it many will, I’m sure.

You can just look at it for fun, but remember to be careful. Do not look directly at […] Click to continue reading this post

Containment Cube

No, not some geometrical artifact of immense power… It is the containment for my next batch of compost. Click for a larger view. I made it last year out of PVC pipes and chicken wire, and it was a huge success (see recent posts with pictures of the produce that has been appearing from that compost batch….) with one design flaw: It was a bit high so that digging in it to turn the forming compost over and so forth was tough on the back – I put my back out for days one time. So I’ve cut it down to a smaller height and now it […] Click to continue reading this post