Containers, Coltrane Ballet, and Pink Floyd

coltraneIs this just an LA thing? I spent some time at the Container Store in Pasadena recently, and it’s this massive two story building with the largest elevators I’ve ever seen and aisle after aisle of containers. It seems sort of, I don’t know, decadent? Not that I am not grateful for their existence- I am. My lady and I each left with a new set of wire mesh drawers. I’m using mine for client material storage, and the way things have been going at work I’ll probably be back again in a month to buy another set of those mesh drawers. Yeah, we’ve been busy at work.

We’re starting a new project on Monday, which is why I’m in the studio today- time to clean up the mess from the last project, do my archiving, etc. This new project will involve website, database, middleware integration, motion graphics design, and video production. The client is on the ball and knows that they have a shot at setting a new standard for their industry. I love that. In the meantime, I’m also working with my fellow filmmaker friend Erica’s XL2 to get a handle on how that baby reacts in different situations. I think we’re shooting that in a month (early November?). And I’m also working on a new commercial for another client. Cool stuff.

Last night I got to finally check out the Ford Amphitheatre in LA. That place is amazing, it’s the oldest one in Los Angeles. A fire destroyed a lot of it in the late 1920s, but it was rebuilt in the early 1930s. The reason for my attendance- a ballet performance done to the music of the late jazz great John Coltrane.

I absolutely loved the music, the band was truly awesome. The dancing? It was cool. I’m definitely not a ballet guy, though. What was really interesting was the fact that the Hollywood Bowl is directly across the freeway from the Ford. And Pink Floyd was playing. I’d never been to a Pink Floyd concert. Now I feel like I have been. I could hear ‘The Wall’, ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ and ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ very clearly between the jazz numbers. I can’t help it, I do like Pink Floyd.


What Is Gear?

This is the Canon XL2 I’m gonna be using to shoot a short drama in a month, to be directed by my friend Erica. I’ve never used an XL2 before, although we did use a Canon H1 (Canon’s next gen camera) on Melissa and Brandon’s PSA a month or two ago.

Why am I posting and talking about the camera and not the project here?

Simple, because the way a lot of so-called filmmakers talk you’d think the latest and greatest gear makes all the difference in the world. And the XL2 is not exactly obsolete, but it’s a couple of years out of date. An eternity, for those indie filmmakers who talk about high def. No, who talk about 1080p. Or of even higher resolutions. Maybe 4K like the upcoming RED camera system. To those indie filmmakers, shooting with a standard definition camera like the XL2 just isn’t worth it.

Funny, ’cause most of those indie filmmakers seem to talk and talk and never actually produce any content.

I’m not saying HD isn’t awesome. I’ve done a lot of HD and HDV projects now. And the flexibility it has given me in post- being able to zoom in, pan, reframe, etc- is awesome. But I keep thinking of The Beatles and how they and George Martin created some of the best ever songs and recordings using 4 or 8 track audio recorders that have much less horsepower and flexibility than the audio circuitry found in a common laptop computer these days. Or of Phil Spector, and how he did all these great songs… in mono.

The idea is, yes technology matters to a point. But without creativity, technology is really just a bunch of stuff. Useless. Hollow. Of no use.


My Office v4.0Beta

office 2.01My first office was a leaky basement in a cold midwestern town. The second was an apartment in Atlanta. The third was a room in a cool house up in the hills of Los Angeles.

This is version 4 (Beta), which lives in a bitchen’ high rise apartment in Los Angeles with a view to forever. Sure, my Mackie speakers aren’t installed yet and you can’t see the audio mixer, microphones, guitars, etc. But the basics of my office are up and it works for me. I’ve got wireless networking, 3 Macs and one PC. I’ve got all my editing and visual effects software running. Each of my monitors is a 23 inch LCD, and the one on the left can accept high definition signals for display. The music studio is fully operational, too. I’m fully equipped and able to tackle any project that is thrown my way.

If you look, you can see the very edge of my bulletin board. This will soon be filled up with storyboards and index cards for my next projects.

I’m actually a big believer in ergonomics, hence the stupid cheap Ikea tables (yet with adjustable legs- the better to get the right keyboard height!) but the money well spent on a damn nice chair. After all, this is a place one spends an awful lot of time working in.


HeadHunting, Inc.

HHSmallerThis is a 13 minute comedy short film that I made last year, and which has played at film festivals and is now available via Cinequest’s online service. It was shot by Stacy Steinkuller, written by Rick Bourn and myself, and I edited, did the visual effects, ran the steadicam, and directed the movie.

We shot it with a Sony Z1, and this was the first movie I worked on using Shake for visual effects. I also used After Effects, Lightwave, and a bunch of plugins.

Check it out


New Deliverance Pizza Mobisode: Urine, First!

Episode 5: Drug Testing comes to Deliverance Pizza. Check it out on YouTube or view the high quality QuickTime version.

Written, Directed and Edited by Patrick Ortman
Director of Photography Stacy Steinkuller
Starring Bryce Raney, Ben Blair, Bob Bielecki, and Carol Goans
Featuring Matt Thornton and Sara Cravens

This is my latest mobisode (mobile device sitcom episode), and it is #5 in a continuing series about the Pizza Dude. You can find out more about Deliverance By The Slice at www.deliverancepizza.com. You can also find episodes on BlipTV, YouTube, and Google Video.

We shot these episodes with a Sony Z1 HDV camera, and original artwork is by Rudi Liden.


Apple Shake Work: Pain Awareness PSA with Academy Award Winner Laszlo Kovacs

pain2I was asked to do the post production work on a PSA directed by Melissa Balin, edited by my pal Brandon Balin of the Brookturn Company and shot by oscar winning DP Laszlo Kovacs. Sure, Laszlo’s won academy awards… but what I love him for is his work on the John Cusack movie “Say Anything” back in the 1980s. Sorry, Laszlo.

The Brookturn Company needed my help because they shot this PSA with the Canon H1 in 24F mode. The problem is no editing system supports this format (until 2 weeks from now when the new Final Cut Pro comes out). This PSA had to be shown at IBC in Amsterdam at the Canon booth and is also being shown at a big european conference on pain management next week.

Brandon and I realized that while no editing system supported this new format yet, we could output the raw HD signal in interlaced, 60i format. We ingested the footage via a Kona 3 and I then took this raw footage into Shake, where I applied pulldown and smart deinterlacing to get those original 24 frames a second back into Brandon’s timeline in FCP.

It worked like a charm, and everybody’s thrilled. Check it out in QuickTime format.

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