Friday, December 28, 2007

Life After Bit

Well, not really; there is no life after Bit. But there is life between bitting, which is what I'm doing at the moment. Getting lost in Brooklyn and the Bronx each night on photo missions. Catching up on long-lost writing. Reading, watching movies every night, getting my truck equipped with a deer bumper. I'll tell you what that means some other time.

And Meredith, from what I'm reading on the news wires and garnering from my sources in La Paz, Asuncion and Santiago, is brokering a global bad art non-proliferation treaty, doing rain forest research and putting out those damn fires in Tierra Del Fuego. Quite a handful, but not for a superbitter.

I am keeping the furnace stoked and the windows clean here at the House of Bit, and we resume operations in mid-January.

I must go now and take my shift at the watchpost in the Old Bit Tower.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

"Death by Pizza"

Oh my god, I think I'm going to die. This pizza made me sick. I think I'm going to need ten Tums.

Yes, this is the last day of "Food Month On The House of Bit."

One of us decided she wanted pizza tonight. One of us had already planned on getting pizza, so it seemed like the thing to do.

The pizza arrived - a medium pie from 2 Boots, half Tony Clifton and half Mild Margherita.

We ate with gusto, then resumed working. We were writing a scene tonight. Eventually, one of us seemed to feel sick, and declared it to be so. The night ended.

This will be the last food post for a while. Monday is our last day of work until mid-January.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

"Donuts have given me power..."

There are many other titles we could have used the past few days, but they were all too offensive or politically correct, so we are going with the latest twig that we just yanked from the stream of Bit consciousness.

A discussion on the relative caloric content and damage of certain foods - I arguing that pizza is light, Meredith arguing that donuts are good for you - has led to this "Donuts have given me power."

I do not doubt that, six and a half. I do not doubt that. But let me tell you, donuts can kill. I have seen it with my own eyes.

Anyway, here's an update:

Quesadilla, aka Not Blavatsky, is going really well. We pulled a fast one on a Turkish Grill owner the other day. Not really, but it sounds good, doesn't it? We had two great shoots the other day. Also, and this feels right, we are about halfway through shooting and are already thinking about our next project.

We are getting better by the second and are very excited, beyond very excited, about the next project, to be code named Nashville for reasons we will disclose one day. The Bithaus will be closing up shop for three weeks so that we can rest and rejuvenate, Meredith in the pampas and me in the hinterlands. Then we will reconvene in mid January, complete shooting The System, begin to edit and do the sound, then start writing the next great thing.

We also want to get going again with another doc. We may have some festival news soon on Lumia, too. More on that in January, hopefully.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

"Paul, you cannot judge the fear of dogs..."

I wanted to keep getting the process down here, on virtual paper for posterity, but we have been so busy that it has just been intermittent. I have left out the part about the Turkish Kebab place owners and their rapid acquience to our shooting request - more on that Tuesday; I have left out the part about the Israeli fabuloso store owner who took us into his heart and sold us his book, his CD, his DVD and his personalized line of towels; I have left out the part about the store owner on the Lower East Side who wanted to see our insurance. There is much I have left out, but I wanted to share today's process in the brief time I have before we have to set up the camera.

I was wondering whether or not the actor coming over was scared of dogs - we had one audition for us who was scared of Elko - and Meredith said she was not that one. I said, "but look at him..." and Meredith said "Paul, you cannot judge the fear of dogs..."

We have totally reconfigured this place for a shoot and it looks good. With time, anything is possible.

More later.

Friday, December 7, 2007

"I would be a much nicer person if I had not gone to summer camp."

I won't tell you which one of us said that - although I will admit that I never went to camp - but this is the kind of amazing nugget that comes up when you are deep in the zone.

We are doing a shot list for the next scene, the next shoot. It doesn't matter what shoot, it's *our* next shoot and it will be fabulous. We are working on shots, discussing, debating angles, what order we will shoot in, what happens during each take, what dialogue goes where and how much we get in each take. This is difficult, but actually very satisfying. It's, dare I be that trite, our roadmap.

Anyway, we are doing it now and just took a break to talk about things. One of us started to talk about time going faster the older one gets, and the other one was agreeing, leading to a story about "color wars" at camp. "Race wars?" "No, color wars."

Anyway, one thing leads to another and a story illustrates the point. And somewhere during the course of that story is the offhand comment about how "I would be a much nicer person had I not gone to summer camp." It's like life, you know? These little stories are all we have to share with each other on our pathtic, magnificent, brief fling upon the rapidly disintegrating planet. Shall I tell you about the Amazon?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

December - The Day Before Pearl Harbor Day

I am at school. I am "teaching." I am not slacking off because my students are working on their finals and I am typing this in between jumping up and helping them put out their fires. So I am doing this while on call. Had to get that out of the way first.

Meredith was waxing eloquent and philosophical the other day in a cab on the way to the shoot on Allen and Delancey. We had just consumed a whole Tony Clifton pizza between us from 2 Boots and I was talking about the horror of it all. She sincerely and vociferously defended pizza as a food, as a snack, as a cure-for-what-ails-you, and as a way of life. She meant it. She said some brilliant things, but I did not have time to transcribe them verbatim, a la Herodotus, so they are lost forever. No mind, the thought was enough, and I was privileged enough to have witnessed it.

The shoots are going well. The outdoor one was not perfect - it was very cold and the light was poor - but we can re-purpose that. The other ones have been going really well and we are excited as we begin to cobble together this, our first real narrative feature.

We are running ourselves to the bone. We are solving problems right and left - audio issues, post-production workflow issues, people issues and we are now in the tiring, but immensely satisfying shooting process. We feel grateful to be living the dream, as a little dog whispered the other day in front of the abandoned Gristedes.

More later. We love you all.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Social Networking Sites Make You Fat

I am not going to elaborate, but we have conclusive scientific proof. Really. No shit. Truly. we do.

We are not fat, but we are concerned about the state of the world.

Other koans from the House of Bit:

"The sooner we become dated, the sooner we are classics."

"I have peed everywhere."

"Fuck MySpace."

Where do these sayings come from? And where are they going?

We have our theories.

Tumultuous, busy productive days in the Bithaus. Continuing to write. Getting the script into shipshape. Dealing with details of shooting, sound and logistics, in general.

Just went out location-scouting in Central Park. It was a successful mission. We found a sufficiently sylvan spot. Almost alpine in aspect.

(Meredith is now saying "there really is too much shit on the internet." she is mutting "techno tranny slut...oh god..."

Anyway, we are off to give a script to Sean.

Back later.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"Budgets are for people who have cash flow."

Meredith and I were just talking about the mechanics of filmmaking, how filmmaking is taught these days, and how WE make films.

We don't get caught up in things like detailed treatments and budgets. Not that we don't lay things out, not that we don't make plans, not that we are not responsible with our time, our ideas or our money.

But we don't sit about wasting time making detailed budgets. If we were perennial grantseekers, perhaps, but we're not. We are, at the present time, low-budget filmmakers who finance ourselves. If we need equipment, we buy it. If we were to hire someone to do field sound, well, we'd hire them. We don't need to lay it all out on paper.

We save our spreadsheets for things like casting, scheduling, how Meredith and her boyfriend are going to plan their Thanksgiving meal like a military campaign - THESE are the things that we use spreadsheets for.

Not minor things like budgets.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

How many "No's?"

There should be two nos - no three nos - no two nos. no no no. no no. This is a very important discussion paul and I were having as we were editing the script for Quesedilla.

Then we had another debate concerning three nos versus four nos. no no no no, no no no. The devil is in the details.

As I am writing this post, paul thinks that he can go and edit the script without me. But I see what he is doing, and I'm on to him.

Next to my mouse is my totemic advil. This week I was able to make a trip to the American Museum of Natural History, I've not been there since 95. I went to one of my favorite rooms - the room with the totem polls - I think it is called the Indians of the North Western US. I dont know - something like that. There is also a massive canoe in the adjacent room (go listen to m14a podcast #3 to learn more about the m14a planned podcast on canoes).

Anyway totem polls. What would the thirteen bit totem poll look like? Who is the 13 bit totem animal? Would paul and I have different totem animals and then 13 bit would also have a totem animal? These are all questions for the 13bit creation story which has not yet been posted.

Back to quesadilla.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Love of Spreadsheets

"You know, it's not always easy working for the man, but it's given me a love of spreadsheets."

What can I say?

It has come to this. Actually, the 13BIT machine is very lucky that The Big M has a "love of spreadsheets," as they used to say in the old country.

This film has come to rely MUCH more heavily on lists, organization and logistics than your average documentary. There's something very hunter/gatherer about a documentary. You go out and hunt down your assets; you collect them into your bushels for the long winter of editing that you know lies ahead. You subsist on those assets and bits of information, possibly gather in a few more as you go, then you are done. Organization is limited to folders, some lists, a few databases, and bins of tangible - well, tangible-digital - things.

This narrative feature thing, on the other hand, can I describe it? It's a little more like an organized assault on a grand idea. No, that's not good. It's a lot of spreadsheets so far. Well, it's a lot of cross-referenced tables, some of which I don't understand, but which I completely trust Meredith to translate for me when needed. It's organization in a discrete compartment - creativity in a discrete compartment - technical execution in a discrete compartment - dealing with people in a discrete compartment. What does this sound like? I am suddenly brain dead and cannot say. Perhaps the next post.

This also brings up the symptoms of my early Alzheimer's, which I won't discuss now, but it's pretty amazing the stuff I cannot remember.

Anyway, we found our dwarf. We now need a sound person.

Back to the pits.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

"God, I loved this game as a child..."

"It's, like, the greatest game ever."

Meredith is not yet drooling or hunched over in a rubber room - another bloody casualty of life in the financial sector - but I am worried nonetheless.

"God, I love this game so much."

She is watching some youtube clip of a ten minute run through all the levels of Super Mario Bros.: Lost Levels, and sort of drifting into an early senility before my very eyes.

I know she'll snap out of it. I know she'll come back to earth. I know that, as soon as the quesadillas arrive from Miracle Grill, we will begin working on Project Quesadilla and writing.

For now, though, she is a shell of her former self.

More later.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

"It's not nihilistic, it's realistic"

Advice I just had to give someone about a professional situation. Actually, that wasn't the advice, it was a defense of the advice, which was "Just keep telling yourself it doesn't matter," to which the reply was "That's so nihilsitic."

What does have to do with 13BIT Productions LLC?

Well, nothing and everything. But that doesn't matter right now.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

"I don't see letters, I see patterns..."

We are writing. It's good. It's going well. It is a back and forth process. We like it a lot. It involves spelling. I have a particular, almost pathological problem with people spelling "paid" as "payed." Everybody does it, including highly intelligent people. Including one of the most intelligent people I know. Anyway, one of us just spelled it that way and we had our recurring, endless 30 second loop of a discussion about how nobody can spell anymore, always with me concluding that we are all doomed because nobody can spell anymore.

This time, I added "But there is no excuse for you, Meredith (whose name means 'High Lord of the Seas,' by the way) because you read so much.

She responded "When I read, I don't see letters, I see patterns."

I lose this round.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Elevator of Doom

"My ego is being permanently damaged."

"Oh my God..."

"I want to kill this girl."

"I hate it here."

Okay, faithful readers. Guess what these quotes refer to. No hints, either, except to say that they have nothing to do with 13Bit, Project Quesadilla, or Lumia.

And The Elevator of Doom doesn't figure into it, either; it's where Meredith just was on her way from Mandarin lesson.

This is just an aside. We are taking the night off. I have work to do. She has to recover from her day, and 13Bit reconvenes on Friday evening, then all day and night, all weekend.

Can you say "burnt like a potato chip?"

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"The last thing I would spend money on is wallpaper."

Or, more correctly, "Let me tell you, the last thing I would spend money on is wallpaper."

So, how did this emphatic statement end up on the Mighty House of Bit Blog? Well, we are waiting for the next person to come by, the first person of the night, actually. We are down to about 20 more people to audition. The casting is going well; the writing is going well; the editing workflow prep is going well. We have a lot of work ahead of us in shooting and setting up locations, but we don't anticipate too many problems with that. So I'll be optimistic and say that's all going well, too.

We have been setting up the character grid the past couple of hours, deciding who is going to be whom. And we are now in a lull before the first audition of the night. So what happens in a 13bit lull?

Well, those of us who are sick to our stomachs take stomach palliatives. Those of us who are sick of our jobs go job hunting. Some of us head into the next room to trip fronds off the aloe plant that is threatening to engulf the bedroom. Others of us sit around purposfully chewing on our rawhide rings.

Well, one of us was looking at work while the other one was walking off to trim aloe leaves. The one perusing the job listings had finished looking at video and editing listings (we nixed them all today) and had somehow not gotten to her chosen field yet, when she somehow found a job for designing wallpaper. The soon-to-be aloe trimmer stopped dead in his tracks and we discussed the benefits and negatives of designing wallpaper, then of wallpaper in general. This prompted the statement that titles this post.

Back to the hard work that earns us the big bucks.

PS: We just found an ad that says "Artists and Spiritual Thinkers Wanted" Can you spell "13 Bits?" We think it's for a cult.

Monday, October 22, 2007

When Is Tomorrow?

No, it's not some long-lost Sun Ra album. Nor is it a deep philosophical essay - although it *could* be, now, couldn't it? It's actually what one burnt out person says to another even-more-burnt-out person after a long evening of auditions. I had wanted to know when the first person was coming tomorrow and that's what I actually meant to say. Actually, I was looking at Meredith's Magic Spreadsheet and trying to find tomorrow, but the words came out of my mouth as "when is tomorrow," not "where is tomorrow?"

Actually, "where is tomorrow" may be even better as a philosophical question.

Some people did not show today, nor did they contact us. For them, there is no tomorrow. There is only yesterday and the howling, endless wind off the steppes of eternity. We wish them well, but not in this production which, by the way, is going well.

Until tomorrow, which never comes.


Sunday, October 21, 2007


What is talent? My friend Alyssa says talent is a hot guy at a bar. "How is the talent there?" She asks. But we at 13Bit are interested in a different kind of talent. The creative kind and or the acting kind.

It is amazing how easy it is to spot acting talent when people read lines. But it not just about talent, but how they will mesh with the rest of the cast, what part will they play. Needless to say, we have been floored by how many talented people we have been able to audition.

Another reason why its good to be in NYC - lots of actors.

I need to stop posting now, we have another actor coming in to audition now.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Quantitative Bitch

Our newest T-Shirt design, coming soon to a store near you.

We Live to Bit and Bit to Live

"I'm a wreck," Meredith is saying. "I've got issues."

She keeps repeating "I'm a wreck." It must have been a hard day, week and month in field where she works while we're waiting for 13bit to go triple platinum.

Life goes on, though, and Meredith is young enough, resilient enough, and hungry enough to pull through. I know that, by Sunday, the day we continue auditioning people, she'll be in top form. Unfortunately, it will also be time for a case of the Sundays, as the work week is about to dawn, and her mood will evaporate as the day progresses.

As will mine. As will mine.

That's okay, the more we bit, the more immune we become to things like work weeks, the Sundays, the Mondays, and even the concept of working for other people, in general.

It's all just temporary. The mantra of the aspiring artist. We are just passing time here while we work, keep faith, and pursue our dreams. Just for today. Tomorrow the big ship comes in. Or does it?

No matter, we here at 13Bit can swim.

And we are too far from shore to turn back.


To the tops!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Casting Continues

The question of the day - is Anne Coulter just a PR whore?

Actually, that's not the question of the day, that's what's coming from Meredith as she free-associates and pulls up the 13Bit master database, reads the news, checks her email, and reinvents the wheel via spreadsheet - all at the same time.

We are in the middle of casting and it's going well. "Such talent," as my non-existent Aunt Minnie might have said in some alternate universe.

It is tiring, but exciting, this casting business. We are grizzled, seasoned, well-traveled documentarians, so we have never had to cast. The closest we have come to that is ordering takeout food. Well, actually, we did audition people for the voiceover parts in Lumia, but this is different.

We are still writing. We are still figuring out our HDV workflow. We are still scouting locations and planning the other billion and one details that go into a feature film shoot. So, I'm not really saying much here except that we are insanely busy. And that doesn't even include the new super secret project, which we are calling Project Hans Ringo. More will be revealed later.

Monday, October 8, 2007

"Do you know how easy it is to not look like a Schmuck?"

Meredith just gave me the okay to quote exactly what she said "because I truly believe that."

We are going through email for auditions. Most of the actors and actresses are very diligent, decent people who are trying to make it. We appreciate that so many talented people are trying out for us, that they are willing to work for free, and that they are taking the many risks that go with being an aspiring artist. We know how hard it is. We are right there with them.

That being said, every basket contains a few shmoes. In this case, it's someone who responded to us saying "please refresh my memory as to what your project is about?"

That sounds reasonable, doesn't it? Actually, it's not. How hard is it to go through your email and see when someone last emailed you, then to read the original email? How difficult is it to keep track of what you are applying to so that you don't come off as an arrogant, absent-minded yoyo? The answer in both cases is "not very."

We are dedicated filmmakers. We don't make any money. One day, we hope to, but all of our money, hopes, dreams and sweat goes into our work. We love what we do. We try our best to do right by people and all we ask is that people do their best with us. Most people do. We have been lucky so far in our career. We have worked with some great people. We hope to work with many more.

If you don't remember what the project was about when we call you in for an audition, please don't respond.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Casting for Quesadilla

13Bit has not been posting recently. Paul was hot springing in the west, and I - well I have been licking the man's boots. In between, we have been going through head shots and resumes for "The System" code name Quesadilla. Tomorrow we start auditions, and refining the screen play. I am tasked with becoming a master sound recordist. So I am going to engage in some boom exercises ... I am really looking forward to building some dollies.

Now I 13bit is separating I am going sailing and paul is going to practice with his band.
We will rejoin later or tomorrow

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

"I Hope I Get Paid Well For Being Abused"

Meredith said this last night. She said something else very funny the night before and something really true, but unpublishable tonight. Well, maybe it's not true. Anyway, what prompts all of this deep thinking? Sitting around and diligently reading many, many acting resumes and other info while casting.

The "being abused" part is about something else, not related to 13bit, but it's all about life, isn't it?

We need to redo the text on Lumia. We have our hands full with Project Quesadilla, creatively and technically. We are also wanting to work on "Letters to My Shrink."

What can I say? We have all four burners cooking. Elko is sleeping in the other room. Wow, we really need to find a midget.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

We Need A Midget

PAUL "I don't think it's going to be so easy to get a midget for this part. I think we may have to put up a separate ad."

MEREDITH "We'll get a midget."

PAUL "I don't think it's going to be that easy."

MEREDITH "We'll get a midget."

PAUL "Midgets aren't that easy to find. And we need the *right* midget. We need someone who fits the part."

MEREDITH "I'll get the midget."

PAUL "You'll get the midget?"

MEREDITH "I'll get the midget."

PAUL "I don't think it's going to be that easy."

MEREDITH "I'll get the midget."

PAUL "Okay."

So that's how another day at the compound starts. We need a midget - is there no politically-correct term for a very short person, a dwarf? It sounds derogatory, but maybe only because of usage, not meaning. It *is* a diminutive, after all, perhaps the mother of all diminutives. Anyway, we do need a real actor for this part, a middle aged guy with the right face and great acting ability. I don't think it's going to be so easy to find. The pool of talented tiny actors is very small.

I will trust Meredith, just for today, but I think we'll have to luck out.

Monday, September 3, 2007

There Will Be No People

What a dark thought. What a terrible future we may have.

I was lecturing Meredith on spelling, the one area of 13Bit's bailiwick where I happen to excel and hold primacy. Because of that, I get pompous and defend it with all my semantic strength. I was telling her that her misspelling of "privilege" in the previous post was a common error, that particular misspelling, and then I went on to lecture that even *I*, the master of spelling in the 13bit compound, had not learned how to spell that particular word correctly until I was in my 40's. In fact, I may have known the correct spelling, then forgotten how in the brain cell apocalypse of my 1980's existence. Anyway, I said, in my best condescending way, "You don't have to worry about learning how to spell that for another 15 years." to which Meredith replied "There will be no people [then]."

Sigh. It's so sad. We really need to finish our next few movies before that happens. Otherwise, who will watch them?

Is There No History?

That's what I was mumbling as I was working on the latest mini script for our new project, aka QUESADILLA, also aka "HH, Not Blavatsky."

Anyway, I had found something useful on that compendium of useless things, the world wide web, and then the window/page had gotten closed in the flurry of activity involving the script, as well as further research involving our subtitling adventures for "Lumia," which revolved around searches for XML and XSTL stuff - I cannot even articulate it, Meredith was telling me what to do. She discovered that there is no spec for something that Apple claimed there was a spec for....shoot, I am completely rambling and foaming at the mouth here, she can explain it in a few lines further down.

The point is that I could not find this page and I went to the history in Firefox and found that this version of it on this machine on this day in this lifetime on this planet has no history. So I said "Is there no history?" and Meredith said "That's a deep thought." And I realized that, yes, it *is* a deep thought, but I hadn't uttered it as a deep thought. Then I thought about what a deep thought it was. Still is, in fact, and that's why it takes more than just 6 and a half bits to make a movie.

She can explain more.

I (meredith) wanted to write a profound post about Paul's musing "Is There No History?" However, paul was logged in under 13bit and I was logged under meredith and since only 13bit has authorial priviledge - Paul decided that he was going to post first - since he was logged in.

that is all i can add because now paul must go back and "find that thing he couldn't find"

Does blogger have spell checking?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Some nights there are two posts

Paul wanted to title this post "We are soo good." This is our mantra. We are very self-satisfied after writing another scene for project quesadilla. Project Quesadilla was originally going to take a month, but it looks like we are going to extend it to six weeks. I really do not have anything profound to add to this post, all of my creative mojo has been spent in the service of the GREAT QUESADILLA. Paul is still worried about lyme disease.
paul asks if i am writing the gulag archipelago - i could not have spelled that without the aid of paul. I am spelling impared.

i am not writing the gulag archipelago - fyi

"This is New York, there are a lot of (fill in the blank)

We are getting ready to cast our first characters for Project X, code name "Quesadilla," and NOT "HH, not Blavatsky."

Anyway, we need some specialty characters. I don't think that naming what kind of people they are, or what kind of physique or other attributes they have, is really offensive, but Meredith tells me we have to exhibit the sensitivity we are famous for, so I will just say (Fill in the blank) and you will all see.

This *is* New York, though, and there are lots of everything here.

Still working on Lumia, incredibly enough.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Iron Goddess of Mercy

Today we are drinking iron goddess of mercy - tikuanyin. It is oolong tea - the finest in the world. I really like it - paul says he likes it, but it is not convincing. Paul likes black tea but is not drinking it for medical reasons. He has enough free radicals - or not enough - are free radicals bad or good. Paul and I are going to make a movie one day about free radicals and quantum entanglement - it will be a suspense thriller with lots of nudity. Just you wait

we are doing a little side movie before beginning HH (not blavatsky) we will code the name the side project Quesadilla. Paul and I were doing word associations and came up with that one after american flag, apple pie.

Paul just gave me a lovely little book called "Novels in three lines" by Felix Feneon:
Here is a novel:

"Severely burned -- her skirt cought on fire -- Leonie Lefevre, 10, of Saint-Maur, died in Trousseau."

back to project quesadilla

Monday, August 20, 2007

Sumerian Linguistics

"House of" in sumerian is "BIT"

we think that is deep

"I don't think you should ever go to nowhere."

That's one of the pearls generated during this, today's session of "Remapping DVD Button Navigation 101, 13BIT Style."

Meredith and I are wonking away on the incredibly strange interface for Encore. After I had burned a bunch of test DVDs, we discovered that there was a too-healthy dose of randomness when our buttons were activated from a remote control.

We have plowed into the program and are doing what we have to do. I kind of like the idiotic little GUI interface, but Meredith is grumbling. She's a command-based woman, after all, and I prefer idiotic little GUI's, which is what makes us a good team. See "Why it Takes 13BITs" for more on that subject.

"There are a lot of ways to fuck this up," she is saying, as we use the little pick-whip widget to remap the buttons. Does anybody out there in blogland appreciate the gravity of this? Only those other few, poor pathetic souls who have found themselves in the sorry position of having to author their own DVDs. *THEY* will appreciate our pain.

Actually, for all my kvetching, we really like to make DVDs.

Our new top-secret project has the code name of HH. NOT for Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, I might add.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

So, what do you want to eat?

The real questions of editing and film work don't always revolve around cuts, frames, angles and lighting. They don't even center on plots or dialogue.

What it really comes down to most of the time is "What do you want to eat?"

Sometimes, these decisions have a greater effect on the outcome of a project than anyone would ever care to admit.

Ponder that, Socrates.

"Better Than Criterion"

The original title for this post was to have been "What Is A Plot?", which is what Meredith was musing on as she read a quote from Socrates in our preparation for the next project, our equivalent of a trek up Mount Everest. As we gird for that monumental expedition, we are wrapping up the loose ends of our lives here on the planet of documentaries, meaning we are still finishing "Lumia" and getting ready to get it out to festivals.

Though we are still possibly going to make some changes, we are working on a DVD. In fact, that's been the last few days. We were really high on Adobe Encore, but after today's many crashes and general pixel-mapping wonkiness and kludgy interace issues, we may be ready to return to our first love - DVD Studio Pro. Only the future will tell the end of this tale. Meredith is now muttering "Oh man, this is ridiculous" as we endure another restart.

Anway, she was just testing a menu page and saying "This is better than Criterion" when I decided it was time for another progress report. I think it will soon be time for the Little Pie Company or Miracle Grill. Then I must pray for the Yankees.


Thursday, August 9, 2007

People Find Cross Fades Magical

"What are we going to blog about today?" Meredith asks me.

"My shoulder hurts. What did I do? When will it end?" That's where *I'm* at. Well, not really. I'm as into the final cutting as she is, and we are getting close. It's funny how you can keep making edits every time you go through a version of something. The tweaking never ends. But that's as it should be. How could anyone trust themselves to be absolutely certain of every last thing they create? Yes, it happens sometimes, but I am much more suspicious of certainty than I am of "What do you think of that?" or "Do you like the way this looks?"

Anyway, my shoulder hurts. A wound I suffered in the Spanish Civil War many years ago, long before I invented the personal computer.

We had a long discussion about a particular graphic asset and the length of the cross fade. Meredith used to be adamantly opposed to any cross-fading, but I have slowly swayed her to the beauty of the occasional cross fade, just as she has convinced me of the beauty of the occasional freeze frame, something I had adamantly opposed. Who cares about this arcance detailing of our process? Well, we do, for one.

Anyway, my shoulder still hurts. Did I mention that already? Anyway, we are making progress. We are in good shape. We are going to wait until the new version of Encore shows up before we make the DVD. Horror upon horrors, but we like it better than DVD Studio Pro, which we have used in the past.

Anyway, we're listening to words in Danish that we do not understand. That's an inside thing that you'll get when you watch the movie.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


Tonight we are outputting a rough version of Lumia for authoring. Next step is to build the DVD. We are
Tomorrow we will beginning spreading the seed or in layman's terms submitting to film festivals As I write this we are compressing frame 2816. By the time I am done writing this post we will be on frame 8000. Frames are fleeting.

Monday, August 6, 2007

That Sound Edit Train Keeps On Rolling Along

Meredith is saying "I like the mouse."

I say "Oh yeah?"

She says "The keyboard is nice, but I really like the mouse. And you know what? I'd love to have kind of foot device I can operate, maybe at work."

And so it goes. This is a typical sound editing session. In the background, we are de-essing old Otto Piene. We are normalizing Mr. Glicksman. And we are plain old loving Chris Sidenius and his background waterfall which is impossible to get rid of. "Hell, it's a documentary," one of us will say whenever it becomes too impossible to fix some particularly egregious sonic disaster.

For the most part, though, it's going well. We are ploughing along. Just signed up for our third project on, and we'll be getting our promotional materials into shape soon.

Bit by bit by bit, thirteen times, to be exact.

Good thing we did not get the duck nachos tonight that they were trying to sell me at Miracle Grill. "Took nachos?" I would say.

"Duke nachos" he said.


"Duke nachos."



"Oh, DUCK nachos." I finally understood. "No thanks, I don't eat duck."

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Sound Edit

Audio is difficult. Even if you're not a perfectionist, as we are, sound is difficult. Color correction can be fun, even satisfying and filled with instant gratification. You correct a clip, it looks good, you say "ah, yes!," and then you apply the changes to other clips. Time passes and you steadily make the whole movie look better in a linear, measurable, tangible way.

Sound editing, on the other hand, is a tedious, thankless slog through the trenches of unfriendly waveforms, odd filters, subjective calls and unidentifiable background noise. It's a relentless riding of the meters, endless small tweaks to levels - I'm talking ENDLESS small tweaks to the levels; it's what you must do in order to have a professional-sounding film - reviewing music, creating music; it's hours spent working in the timeline, only to discover that you got ten minutes of the film done.

It's a bitch. You lose objectivity and need to stop a while. You need sugar. If we go too long without sugar, our brains cease to function, we lose energy and, even worse, we end up arguing about things. When we did "Video Out," we both felt that the first employee 13Bit would hire one day, when we finally have money to hire someone, would be a sound editor. At the same, time, it's hard to trust anybody to do it right, but I suppose that will be a leap of faith we'll have to make when 13Bit is a massive player one day in the cinema industry. If we don't learn to delegate these things, we'll never be the nimble monolith that we would like to be. At the moment, though, we are working on sound and need to stay focused.

We cut the entire section we had made on "Greenewalt versus Wilfred." We kept the part on Mary Hallock Greenewalt because she's an interesting color artist and contributes to the understanding of the art form, but the section that we made about their feud finally got cut, at the eleventh hour. We had trimmed it back in previous cuts, but we decided to eliminate it. Color and audio correction have a way of narrowing your focus, sharpening your critical senses, bringing out the ruthless axe-wielding inner editor.

We decided to skip a trip to the Little Pie Company or Tasti-D-Lite and used the time, instead, to repair some kind of demonic negative pop/click in a piece of music that the men and women of The Analog Orchestra had kindly composed and recorded for us. All we can assume is that their engineer screwed up or intentionally left it in there. We fixed it, though.

Anyway, Meredith has started t to surf the web, so I must stop blogging and crack the whip again.


Thursday, August 2, 2007

Maybe not a total cliche

Today we are putting the final credits on Lumia. Paul is driving and I lending moral support my playing andean lute music on garageband and surfing the internets.

Tomorrow we start the final step: sound correction. Sound correction is very painful.

happy thursday

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Thou Shalt Not Spill

I broke one of the editing suites's cardinal rules just now. I had an open bottle of Smart Water - very smart - and tipped it into the keyboard of the B machine. No big deal, I'm sure we'll salvage it - it's cooking now under a compact fluorescent lamp - and the machine didn't short out, but it's just indicative of my day. Luckily,the other 6.5 bits is here and Meredith is steering the good ship "Color Correction" at this moment. We are getting closer.

We do love color correction and we will almost miss it when we're done. We'll do the sound all week, finish the end titles, then we will have a final cut. After that, we'll build the DVD and start to enter the festivals. And after that, we will start working on the next project...or two.

While we both want to finish "Lumia," some part of me will probably feel the absence of it. We have lived with this project for over two years now. Still, there is always more lumia news on the horizon, and I'm looking forward to actually seeing one of Wilfred's original Claviluxes in action after they have restored them up in Seattle.

Shout out to Joelle!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Quick Bits v.02

This is Meredith again with quick bits. Today we continued watching/editing where we discovered the ideal antidote to moving photos - freeze frames. We are freezing frames like mad. Now paul is watching the baltimore / yankees game which is some sort of baseball anomaly - more bits on sunday

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Bragdon, Brice and Brevity

We sat down tonight to watch the whole movie, just to get an overall sense of things we wanted to do. We had not watched it once through since the last cuts, over six weeks ago, before we took a break, then did the new intro and began color correction.

As always, we were unable to get more than a few seconds before we decided to mess with it. That's the way it is: you never achieve perfection. You hit a point where you can agree that, yes, it's good enough to release, but we are not at that point yet.

And it's especially important that we get the beginning to our liking. Most of the movie falls into place fairly tightly and we are happy with it but, since we have made so many changes to the start, it's natural that we needed to do a bit more editing.

Or maybe we are just hopeless perfectionists. I recall the immortal words of Stan the Hat and Tommy Train, who once told me "Anything worth doing is worth doing badly." Still, we want this to be good.

So, to that end, we rearranged our bold, superlong shot of Kathy at the start, moved the credits past her, and then moved on to the second section. The section on Wilfred's childhood is fine. We like that. The very early days needed some cutting, though. Specifically a little bit about Claude Bragdon and the Brice estate, on Long Island. We're not talking about much here, maybe 10 seconds, but we got it done. It took moving five or six clips around, rearranging this, cutting that, stretching that. The usual.

I hope it's good enough now. We got about three minutes into what was going to have been an 83 minute session.

When we are done, if I have the stomach for it, I want to go back and watch the initial 130 minute first cut, just to see what we cut. Hell, it may be a good idea, anyway, just to make sure that we didn't sacrifice some gem along the way.

Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Why It Takes 13 Bits - Take Two

I was going to have a nice, long entry here, but Meredith is trying to hijack the timeline in Final Cut and I need to keep a close watch on her.

We have been ploughing along with "Lumia." We finished the title music much the same way we did the video - one of us doing some grunt work, then the other tweaking it.

She's raving like a delirious person about our secret new flicker-reduction method - bringing down the whites instead of using a flicker filter. These details are not really that important - at least not until we forget them and need to remember them for the next movie - what's important is that we are figuring it out now and getting it done.

Halfway through the film with color correction. The sound comes next. Then the end credits and the publicity materials. We could probably edit it forever, but we need to say "enough is enough" and lock it in. The we move on.

Found out today that at least one person is reading our blog. Hi AJ!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Why It Takes 13 Bits

And not just 2, 3, 6 or even 8...

We did the titles yesterday. We had been mulling it and prototyping it for a while and had both gone in a completely opposite direction from the one we ended up with. I had been visualizing one thing for a long time and we had been working on that, Meredith in Motion and I in After Effects.

She had had her reservations, but was gamely working on it. I think I actually had a good thing going with After Effects, but eventually I yielded to her doing something on Motion while I went to work on the title music.

At some point, I looked over and, instead of using the Lumia light art, itself, as background, she had somehow incorporated one of Wilfred's seminal flowcharts about what Lumia is. Beautiful and strange work done in his own hand. I instantly liked the idea and told her so. We then set out to run with that.

We switched seats and I gathered more of his drawings and graphic detritus - none of which we used in the final titles, but all of which confirmed to us that we were on the right path.

We switched seats again and I put down the music to backseat drive for a while. I suggested that we just animate the document in our top-secret motion graphics program, which I cannot name now. She liked the idea. We did that together, both of us tweaking this and that, Meredith at the controls. We finally exported it and then brought it into Motion.

The rest of the process was our usual back-and-forth of "I like this color," "what do you think of this?" "let's do this," "change that," "make that move faster," "make that stay longer" for a long time. Between the two of us, we came up with something that we both really liked.

Then, there the inevitable small glitches. Meredith fixed some, I had to pull up an ancient Photoshop trick to fix another.

We finally had some cool titles, ones that we hadn't intended to do at all, but which we like much better than the original idea.

The moral of this tale? Stay flexible. Stay openminded. A little creative arguing can be a good thing, just so long as it's civil.

And don't forget to add some huevos rancheros and breakfast burrito from Miracle Grill to fuel the whole process.


Sunday, July 8, 2007

La Lucha Continua

I was really inspired before to write an incendiary post about our current struggle with "Lumia," but the struggle continued and I forgot what I was going to say.

Today has been about watching the narrative video we shot the other day and rejecting it out of hand. Great stuff, but not for Lumia, even though it is about the making of Lumia.

We decided to do it strictly via audio, along with visual imagery over it. We are edging our way to an answer. That is the way to go. The world doesn't need to actually see us talking about this stuff. The world is not ready for that yet. Neither are wel.

So we laid down some audio and now we are editing it. We will then insert it into the film and try to finish this thing up. It is good to be working again, bitting, making films.

It will be great to move on to the next film, as well.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Quick Bit

Today we stretched our canvases for snice. They look hot! I am very excited dot com. Paul is saying "I know you(Meredith) are back when you have 50 tabs open (in firefox)." Yes I like tabs. Paul is now giving me some flashlight show and tell. He has a flashlight that blinds people and then can be used as a weapon.

It is hot and our brains are melted. But hopefully they will become solidified for our final lumia push!

that is quick bits - we love you all

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

House of Bit Dusts Itself Off For Bitness

We only have two days to work this week - between my return and Meredith's annual 4th of July mega-bash, which has menu preparations like I have never seen before - we will not really get up a good head of steam until next week, BUT, that being said, the Bit House is open and we are preparing for the summer season.

We are using these two days for our show at S'nice, which features truly gorgeous, large-format prints on canvas. We entered "Video Out" into another festiva because we would love to go to Greece this December. We are planning and plotting on the "Lumia" end-game, the final shoot which we decided we must do in order to streamline the film, then one quick shoot at the Whitney.

Then we finish editing, do the color correction, sound and titles, the endless PR and promotional preparations, then hit the festival circuit. It's a mundane part of the business, but it's satisfying in its own way.

And after that, we begin the narrative feature.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

6.5 Bits

6.5 Bits here keeping Gotham safe. There is always a void in The City when the full 13Bits are separated and only 6.5 bits remain - or even worse 0 bits.

But a division of bits lets the individual bits meditate and grow strong. It lets them pose deep questions to themselves without the constraints of producing an answer.

Questions like:

1) If NYC was flooded by a hurricane could one canoe up the Hudson river. With a dog?

2) Why did the Anasazi leave hand prints on the walls of the grand canyon? And more importantly why did they disappear?

3) Why is Finnish a linguistic isolate? Is it a language brought to earth by benevolent space creatures?

4) What does a 1/10 of a second feel like?

You O patient reader are welcome to ponder on these eternal questions as well - as we wait for the reunion of 13Bits.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

On The Road

Oh how I miss the House of Bit.

We, the people of Bitland cannot live happily without our great, esteemed, benign Bit, the great entity that shines on our lives and illuminates all the dark corners of our otherwise meager corporeal existence. The desert is nothing compared to Bit. The sky is small with no Bit. The mighty Pacific is a puddle next to Bit.

My tribe - all two of us out here - prays for a safe return to the Land of Bit.

Great Bit Gods, please grant us safe passage back through these mighty States of America as we make our way home to the House of Bit!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Down the River

Meredith is somewhere in the Grand Canyon right now. The House of Bit is shuttered for the High Bit Holidays and I leave in a few days.

It is hot outside, but cold in the House of Bit right now. The air is musty and a cold wind is blowing through the small slats in the window at the top of the spire on the west side of the building, the one that faces west, across the Hudson.

In the distance, a pair of ravens that once followed me back from the desert are making their cawing sounds. They want to travel out west again. I will oblige them.

We will have one brief board meeting over the weekend - possibly - and then the Bit Booster Rocket will launch me and Elkobit Fuzzbot into the stratosphere, to return and resume full operations at the end of June.

Monday, May 21, 2007

What to do?

Today is an in-between day at the 13bit compound. We were aiming for a final cut today, but since we are going to add two more scenes, the final cut will have to wait.
The two scenes will serve to place lumia in a wider context. I dont want to give too much away. Anyway this is my first post - I think it is distinguished from Paul's posts by the use of - , ) poor spelling, passive verbs and dependant clauses.

In any case, our most recent discussion was about using a narrator. I was against. I believe you have to have faith in the film and faith in the director that she has a vision and she will deliver you to a destination. In this heated discussions, I always invoke the immortal image of Michelangelo Antonioni. His movies dont exactly move like "The fast and the furious" but I sort of appreciate a director that makes you work for your movie.

Maybe I its because I'm a masochist.

A film does not have to appeal to all audiences. I am ok with that.

I would also like to share with you a piece of Lumia that we cut last week. It involves Thomas Wilfred - the father of light art in america - and his early career as a lute player. All music is by fleabye and the bogus beats and sort of remindes me of kings quest circa 1984.


Sunday, May 20, 2007

People Will Accept Anything If It's Before the Titles

So we had our other showing today. Part of me wishes we hadn't done it, but ultimately I am glad that we did. It confirmed what we have been thinking the past two screenings: that we need to make a few larger changes. The trick in this life is to remain flexible. We could release this almost the way it is now and it would be a good movie, but we got very good feedback today and are going to incorporate some of it.

Cordy suggested a narrator - someone to give us a meta-view before the story really starts. A bit like the rule of journalism to "tell them what they're about to see, tell them while they're seeing it, then tell them afterward what they just saw." Well, not exactly like that, but something similar. While we do not want to underestimate the viewer's intelligence and we are not afraid of making them work, we also don't want them sitting around and wondering about certain things when it would be equally easy for us to tell them early on.

So the questions we are grappling with today are to use a narrator or ourselves. Meredith is *adamant* about us doing not using one. And, while I am proud that we have so far managed to make this movie and the last without having to resort to the crutch of a narrator, I am still not certain this is the way to go. At the same time, our doing it enables us to inject some things into the film that we could not in any other way.

Another question is where do we put it, hence the title of this post. She is starting to read over my shoulder, so I am going to post and finish this later.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Art is Our Only Excuse For Existence

Meredith is trolling the job ads and saying "I want to see 'Stupid People Wanted for a Job: Must take a Test to See How Stupid You Are.'"

We just finished making changes in our 5th cut of "Lumia" and we are very close to final. I mean, you're never really finished, but you know when you get close enough that it's there. A "release candidate," as they say in the software world. It is looking good.

We are at the point in the movie where we can quote statements from the film in our conversation and they are really applicable to whatever we are discussing. In other words, we are fluent with the film. At the same time, we are already looking ahead. Not that we haven't had plans and ideas for the next film - obviously, we can't talk about them here - but we have even more now. It's part of the grand cycle of things, at least when you're dealing with art.

And, as Chris Sidenius says, "Art is our only excuse for existence."

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Full Lotus

So, tomorrow is now today and we are here, ready to screen "Lumia." After that, we have another test screening on Sunday, make the cuts and then decide whether or not we have a final cut. Most likely, even if we do, we'll watch it one more time in 6 weeks, when we re-convene, just to be sure. It's also nice to have a little time off from it to get some perspective. Much as we like to all believe in the immaculate conception when it comes to art, our experience has been that it actually takes work, editing, difficult decisions on what to cut, what to leave, risks and perseverence. I have sounded very stern today and yesterday when talking about what it takes to make good work, but that's the way it is.

Yes, sometimes, it just flows and there it is. With a long form, though, such as a feature movie or a book, there is more involved than just letting it all come out. Of course, "On the Road" proves me wrong again, but that's okay. Perhaps our next film will just come out in one long take, of a piece, with no cuts or editing needing.

Anyway, one of the true stars of Lumia is Christian Sidenius, perhaps the last of the analog Lumia artists still alive. This is an outtake from the film, and we are thrilled that we can use it here. By the way, can *you* sit in the full lotus position?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Project X

The House of Bit always has many irons in the fire. Our mainstay is filmmaking, but we also create other things.

Tonight, we finalized our order of giclee prints for our July show at S'nice. We are super excited about these large format prints on canvas and we intend to show smaller prints there, as well.

In addition, we spent time tonight on what I'll call "Project X." Not a creative name, I know, but it doesn't really matter what we call it. We just don't want to talk about it in public yet. It's not art-related, but we are hoping it will buy us the time to make art - the eternal struggle.

So that is all to report, but it is enough.

Tomorrow we watch "Lumia" again and on Sunday we have another test screening. It is close to a final cut.

To paraphrase the immortal Sun Ra, it's all about discipline and sacrifice. Mainly discipline, though.

Hail to all chopniks.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Amazing Bread Wrapper Device

After almost three years of toil, joy, dead-ends, major discoveries, and thousands of miles logged; along with a lot of tea drunk, quesadillas eaten, and some kidney stones passed, we are on the verge of a final cut for "Lumia: The Story of Thomas Wilfred and Light Art." (working title).

We think it's an amazing movie, and we think it can go further than our initial effort, "Video Out" (

We are each taking a trip in the coming month and, when we return in late June, we will finish titles, credits, color correction and sound. We'll keep you posted along the way, partly for your entertainment and partly so that we remember what we did and can return to it for the next film. Do you really believe anything I say by this point? It's all true.

Anyway, in the spirit of wide-eyed innocence, discovery and sharing, we wanted to start posting short clips and outtakes from "Lumia." This is a little edit of Craig Antrim, a brilliant artist from San Pedro, CA, and the nephew of Charles Dockum, whom we feature in our film, describing his uncle's first experiments with light art.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

You Can't Keep Everything

The web is ephemeral. Like sand slipping through your calloused fingers. Like rain running down the tip of your nose into the sewer. Like a piece of pie at a 13bit editing session. All things disappear.

So went Meredith's Def Dictionary. It is gone. From the summer of 98 until some poor server's lights went out, it was there to illumine and guide the world, to spread HER word, the word of MER. But it is gone. We looked for it. What can I say?

The moral is: if you don't back it up, it never happened.

Welcome to the House of Bit

Welcome to the House of Bit - home of the legendary 13BIT Productions, the obscure but brilliant POPELKO, M14A holding corporation, the Amazing Superbitter, the original shittogold generator, the Original Bullshit Machine, lair of Flea Byte and the Bogus Beats,, the Robot Parade and more than you could ever imagine.

We love you all.