Discovery Sues Hillstrands

I just saw an interesting article on Yahoo. The Discovery Channel is suing Deadliest Catch personalities Andy and Jonathan Hillstrand for failing to complete their obligations for a spin-off show called Hillstranded. Basically, the production team completed principal photography, but the Hillstands decided they did not want to come back to complete the interview segments needed to finish the show. You can see the full article on Yahoo here.

This just struck me as very odd. Why would these two guys say they would make this show and just stop? If you read the article, it says the brothers did not even directly respond to the Discovery Channel when they tried to contact the brothers to set a date for the interviews. Their lawyer did, simply saying it would be wise to not contact the brothers again. There has to be a deeper story here. The interviews would take a day or two at max. Probably not even that. So why not do it? It can’t be laziness.

Motives aside, I have pretty mixed feelings about the result of this. I don’t think the Discovery Channel is necessarily wrong in attacking these two. They said they would do the show, and they did not fulfill their obligation. There’s no telling how much money the Discovery Channel spent on production up to that point. It could very well be a few million. In that sense I definitely think the Hillstrands have an obligation to repay what they cost the Discovery Channel by turning their back on the show. I guess my mixed feelings come from the fact that it could cost the Hillstrands their boat and crew if they end up having to pay $3 million dollars, but at the end of the day I really don’t have much sympathy for them. They said they would do the show; I would imagine they signed a contract, and they did not go through with their promise. If there was some deeper reason, they should go public with it, or at least say they have personal reasons, not just break off contact and hide.

So what do you think? Is the Discovery Channel going too far in suing them, or are the Hillstrands asking for it? Discuss.

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A Story of Production

In an effort to push the ‘Go to Church’ video to 1,000 views (we can do it people!), I thought I’d write a little behind the scenes snippet about making the video.  So, here goes.

The Song

Obviously the backbone for any music video is the song itself. All credit for even having the idea of doing this parody goes straight to Wes Scheidt. Nic Beidel ended up making the beat for us, so you’ll have to go to him if you want the specifics of that. Once we had the beat, a group of us got together at church one Friday night to record the lyrics. As for technical details, were used an iMac hooked up to a mic using an Apogee One. Sorry, didn’t catch the model of the mic. We recorded using Logic. It was a very smooth process. I think the most takes we had on anything was three, maybe four. Granted it was a slightly lengthy process, as we were writing our lyrics on the fly, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable process (if you know my group of friends you know why). By the end of the night we had our song. The amazing Taylor Ronne did all of the final mixing later on while I did the video.

The Video Shoot

Ahh the video… This step was obviously a little more involved. Initially we planned to start the video by having Kyle walk in and throw a Pokéball yelling, “Mr. Bob, I choose you!” and having Mr. Bob popping out. Obviously that didn’t work out so well, but we did know that would require a green screen shot, so that was the first step. I learned the hard way that setting up a green screen by yourself is not among the easiest things to do in the world. In any case, we got a nice collection of generic shots of people dancing in front of the green screen, some of which came in handy (Bob on white at the beginning, Wes and Jacob w/ fake Anson, and the iPod style shot). After that we moved on to other various shots all over the church. If I remember right the next shot was the one outside with the cross.

We learned right then that the biggest challenge was going to be having the music available for every shot. In that case, we ended up playing it off of Kamyron’s iPhone which was barely audible anyway; throwing in the wind made it even more exciting. I believe at one point Mr. Bob just started giving them a ‘finger point’ beat instead of relying on sound. Thankfully we had an iPod tower for most of the inside shots, although it was fairly cumbersome to carry around. Nothing else out of the ordinary happened after that honestly. We journey around the church shooting the various people and scenes. Though exploring all of the extremely random bit in Caleb’s truck bed was pretty interesting. Time did become an issue towards the end and we had to scramble to get our last shoots, and even missed a few we had originally planned, but it all came together and we got what we needed.

Post Production

I suppose I could write all day about editing, since it was easily the most time consuming part of the project, but it honestly wouldn’t be that interesting. I actually spent a good bit of Sunday and Monday afternoon editing the thing that week (cutting Sunday, coloring and effects Monday), but it all came together and I must say, I’m quite pleased with it.

Admittedly some things were different from our original plan, but in hindsight I think everything worked out for the better. From what I’ve seen, people seem to really enjoy it, and that’s the best reward of all.

Without further adieu, here’s the video, in case you haven’t seen it yet!

The 3D Craze… Is it too much?

It seems like every other movie that comes out these days is in 3D, a technology allowing things to seem more real and occasionally pop out of the screen. It is not a new technology. Amusement parks and the like have had 3D attractions for years, but they were often gimmicky, for the most part seeming like a regular movie with objects occasionally popping WAY out of the screen just for the sake of it, to prove it was possible. Now filmmakers are using 3D in a much more practical way, simply making the film more immersive and realistic.

The human eye is used to seeing the world in three dimensions. Movies are, by nature, two-dimensional experiences. Cameras record them through a single lens. We are able to see three dimensions because we see everything through two lenses (our eyes). Our brains then compare the differences between them to figure out how far everything is. Now cameras with two lenses exist and filmmakers are rushing to utilize this new technology.

No one can deny that 3D movies feel more immersive. It some ways it is a more natural way to look at things, and the gimmicky touches of old-style 3D movies are mostly gone, with a few exceptions. Computer animated films such as those from Pixar are especially impressive in 3D, though live action films look that much better as well.

Unfortunately the technology has its downsides. The ubiquitous cheap plastic glasses come to mind.  3D films work by projecting two different images at the same time that are slightly different, just like the two slightly different images our eyes see. The glasses serve as filters to force our eyes to see only the correct image. Unfortunately they usually are not very comfortable, and they often limit the field of view of the movie goer. Ironically, IMAX glasses tend to be the smallest of them all. These glasses can also cause headaches, as they do cause a sort of optical illusion that tricks the eyes, straining them.

The other obvious downside is that right now watching 3D movies at home is not very practical, though that may soon change. Several television networks, including ESPN and the Discovery network, are in the process of launching full-time 3D networks. No details exist yet explaining how they will work, what they will cost, etc, but they have promised that they are coming. Presumably it will still require the glasses however, perhaps even the older red and blue ones that do not work as well as the newer polarizing ones.

The 3D technology is impressive for sure, and it certainly has its uses, but I think filmmakers might be taking it a little far at this point. For one thing, no one wants to wear a special pair of glasses every time they sit down to watch a movie, much less TV. On the whole I still prefer a traditional movie. 3D has its place in the entertainment industry, but it should remain in the minority and be more of a special treat than the norm.

*Note* I pre-wrote this as my article for my iGeek article in next month’s issue of the Talon, so it may seem to be a slightly different style than what you are used to seeing from me… so yeah.

harman/kardon Soundsticks II

Yay! I’m finally following through on one of my “promised” reviews haha. I’ve had the speakers a couple of weeks now, so I’ve had time to get a good feel for them.

I’ll just start by saying these speakers are absolutely incredible. I have absolutely no regrets whatsoever. They are gorgeous, for one thing. I know they were designed to fit in with older Macs (the G4s, I think?), but they still look great. But at the end of the day, they are speakers, meant for audible rather than visual pleasure. And in that respect, they more than deliver. I’m listening to Celtic Woman on them as I’m typing this, and the voices are amazingly clear, while the drums and bass notes and pure and booming. I won’t claim to be an audiophile (more of a  wannabe audiophile haha) or to know the intricacies of good speakers, but I do know of all of the different speakers I’ve ever heard, these sound the best. Heck, on that note, I haven’t even really played with the EQ at all, and they still sound amazing. They may not be at their best, and they’re still the best I’ve heard. In fact, I know they aren’t, because 90% of my listening on them has been MP3s, and the only super-high quality sample I’ve been able to get my hands on is the free nine inch nails album they release, which, frankly, sounds terrible (sorry to any NIN fans out there). Overall, I could not be more pleased and I would not hesitate to recommend these to anyone willing to pay a little for their speakers.

STOMP!

So I learned Stomp was in Atlanta this past weekend when I got home from school Friday. About an hour later, we had tickets! I’ve wanted to see Stomp since I was like 5, so, needless to say, I was very excited. It was a little chilly in Atlanta that night, but we were able to park across the road at the Georgian Terrace for just $10. We wandered around in the VERY nice historic hotel for a few minutes, then went over to pick up our will-call tix. ‘Twas time to head in. Continue reading

Satriani vs. Coldplay

Last week Joe Satriani filed a lawsuit for plagiarism/copyright infringement against Coldplay regarding their song “Viva la Vida.” He has a pretty good case if you ask me. The music for the verse of Viva la Vida is pretty obviously exactly the same as the sort of “theme” for “If I Could Fly” by Satch. Of course, nobody except Coldplay themselves can say if they intentionally copied it (though I definitely wouldn’t put it past them), but if it’s the same thing, it’s copyright infringement either way. It’s definitely a case of a judgement call. I’m on Satch’s side in this one, but I won’t deny that that’s partly because, even though I enjoy both of them, my respect for Satriani as a musician is much greater. In any case, it will be interesting to see how it turns. My guess is Coldplay settles out, though I imagine that’s not what Satch really wants to happen. Knowing him, he isn’t making this lawsuit for the money, he’s doing it because he wants to be recognized as the original writer of the piece.

The one bad thing about Bluray?

So I’m still loving watching Bluray movies on my PS3; they really are amazing. Unfortunately, I have been bugged by one thing: they only work in Bluray players. No I’m not like just realizing this or anything; I knew that was the case, but I’ll admit I didn’t foresee how often that would be an issue. My dad walks on the treadmill a lot, and he likes to watch movies while doing so, but he only has a DVD player down there (it’s an old TV too,s o there wouldn’t even be a point in a BD player). Because of this, he still wants to get movies on DVD, yet I want to get any new movies on BD. We actually own Iron Man on both, but that’s just because it was so amazing.

Thankfully, a few companies are SORT OF helping compensate for this. I just got Get Smart on BD, and it included a free “Digital Copy” of it, essentially an iTunes download of it. What I want to know is why they didn’t just put a regular DVD of it in there too. I guess it might be some licensing thing, but if that’s the case, well that only upsets me more with the movie industry. You can bet I’ll be trying to figure out a way to unlock that iTunes file and burn it to a DVD… anyone? I might also look into the legality of downloading a regular file from Bittorent and burning that; I mean, I own the movie right? I don’t see why that should be illegal. If someone has any info on that please do leave me a comment or shoot me an email or something.

Anyway, just my observation on the matter.