Saturday, June 24, 2006

Ireland- Dublin > Newgrange > North Ireland (Thursday)

This morning we got up early (7 AM), had our breakfast and drove down to Trinity College to look at the Book of Kells, an 8th century illuminated manuscript. Nice fonts. The college is also famous for Samuel Beckett, who (if you have ever seem him) looks like he just tripped a 220V circuit.

We then caught an "Its a truck, its a boat, its a truck" tour of Dublin and some of its waterways. Way cool...

We left Dublin and headed an hour north to visit Newgrange, built in 3200 BC, predating the Pyrimads. As cool as this was, I was deeply annoyed at the administration of the tour and the visitors center. It turns out that you can't but admission tickets at Newgrange, you have to drive 15 miles to the visitors center. Then you take a shuttle bus to Newgrange, see the sight, then take the shuttle back to the center. Very annoying. What should've taken an hour, took 3, but then while waiting for your bus you could always get something to eat at the visitor center coffee shop or shop in the gift shop...

We then headed up to Northern Ireland. I was unsure what kind of security check point they would have at the border, but really the only thing that you could tell was a slight change in the pavement quality and the prices for gas changing from Euros to Pounds.

I'd hoped to stop at a pub in Belfast for dinner, but our extended stay at Newgrange prevented that. So instead, we caught some mall food before it got to late. It was kind of wierd being in a shopping mall in Northern Ireland eating mall food listening to 80s classics by Lionnell Richie.

We made it up to the coast just as a storm started. Tomorrow is a big outside day, so we shall see...

Ireland- Dublin (Wednesday)

After breakfast and a bit of a nap, we walked down Oconnell Street and crossing the Liffey river we went to the Christ Church Cathedral to see Dublinia, medieval museum. Plenty of Monty Python material here!

After that we stopped by the Dublin Castle before catching dinner at a pub. The world cup is going on right now and everywhere there is a TV, it's on the game and there is a crowd about.

After dinner we went straight to O'donoghues Pub to listen to some traditional music. On the way back to the hotel, we passed the post office, the home of the 1916 uprising. You can still see the bullet holes in the marble columns outside.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Ireland Cork->Waterford->Dublin (Tuesday)

Today was our longest driving day of the trip. We had our breakfast and left Kilarney about 10am, stopped at a Texaco with a long slopping wall covered with grass and apark on top of where you pump ?!?

We drove to Blarney Castle just ourside of Cork in Southern Ireland. After a quick lunch we went to the castle. The castle was big, taller than bunratty, but rough and unrestored. It's a well organized tourist spot with Space Mountain sized lines, but instead of a roller coaster, you get to kiss a rock. I did. So did Siobhan. So did thousands of other people that day. Yuck. I'm just glad it was raining. The castle was cool, but even cooler was the walled garden. This place was magic, with sets straight out of of the Lord of the Rings, The Brothers Grimm, and the Princess Bride. Trees that seem alive, secret stairway tunnels carved thru solid rock, mysterious stone circles. Totally cool.

Afterwards we drove along the coast to the port town of Waterford. We visited the crystal factory before heading north to Dublin. This part of the country looked suprising similar to Norcal's Central Valley in the spring time. Lots of cows, oak trees, and gentle rolling hills covered in grain.

We arrived in dublin at 10pm.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Ireland - Killarney and the "Ring of Kerry" (Monday)

Please forgive any spelling or punctuation errors, as we are trying to type these in on the fly at internet cafes along the way, that plus the european keyboard is slightly different, causing \ when I should shift and # when I try to hit return...

The next morning we got up for breakfast, I had a hearty Irish breakfast of hash brown potatoes (everything comes with potatoes, it's mandatory), beans and a grilled tomatoe. We then went back to sleep and woke up at 2pm for a total of 16 hrs sleep! It made a world of difference to feel rested though...

We headed out to drive the "Ring of Kerry", a circular drive around a peninsula. The first village we came to was Killorglin. There we strolled through the town and had lunch.

We continued the drive, which ofcourse is amazing. What the 17mile drive is to Monterrey, the Ring of Kerry is to Ireland. Most of the Ring is comprised of about 7-10 major sights with and amazing drive inbetween each. However, along the route are numerous side-trips that can be even more amazing.

The next stop was Caheriveen. This was a side trip we took to see a pre-historic stone fort built about 900AD. It was a couple of miles off our main route, and along the way we took a wrong turn and found an abandon castle, not in the guide books or on the map. It looks to have been built about 1500AD, but it was half collapsed, and half covered with ivy. It was totaly out of "Highlander".

The rest of the day went like that, discovering hidden fishing coves, ancinet monuments, and quainter than you can imagine villages. Literally every kilometer is something to make you say "OMG" and get out of the car and explore. It got dark about 9:45 and we were able to catch a fish and chips place in a seaside village before they closed. We got back to the B&B about midnight.

Ireland- Shannon Airport to Killarney (Sunday)

After an overnight flight with about two hours sleep, we landed at Shannon Airport in southwest Ireland. It is better for jetlag ans scheduling to fly overnight, but it is always a jolt to stumble groggily out of the airplane, over to the Avis desk, pick up the car, then find yourself driving down a high speed freeway is some foreign country. I still can't believe that they let you rent a car, without giving some kind of driving test. On our first honeymoon, we drove all over England and Scotland, so you would think that I would have it down, but how far did I make it before driving down the wrong side of the road? Less than 1 km! The car coming at us just kind of stopped and looked.

We rented one of those micro cars, literally a nissan "micra". Its a four-door that is smaller than any US two-door. Although, I'd love to have my Discovery here, this car makes it a lot easier to park and take super tight turns.

The weather here is overcast with occassional rain, with highs in the low 60s, as opposed to Sacramento which is in the high 90s.

Our first stop in Ireland was Bunratty castle, a refurbished castle and a recreated village. I thought that it might be cheesy in a 6th grade field trip kind of way, but it was totally cool imagining life here before the industrial revolution. We ate lunch on site and got back to the car when jet lag caught up. Siobhan and I took an unplanned 45 minute nap in the parking lot. Something about a warm car...

We stopped at a grocery store to buy snacks. Its interesting to note that not only are you expected to bag your own groceries, but you also have to pay for the bags.

After about an hours drive, we made it to our B & B. It was quite cute and clean. We unloaded and headed into the town of Killarney, where we found a pub and grabed dinner. I had Irish Stew and Siobhan had a baked potato stuffed with chicken and mushroom. After that hardy and delicious meal, we made it back to the hotel and crashed for the night.

Flight to Ireland

We left early this morning and took a combination trip that layovers in Salt Lake and NYC. JFK airport is HUGE. Our connecting flight was on the opposite end from our arrival, and as we took the moving sidewalk of the future, you could discern what era each section of the airports were built. It was a rainbow cascade of 60's-70's-80's-90's-2k architecture.

This place is so huge, there are colonies (exageration) of birds flying about. There was one large pidgeon that would fly about 1' over people's heads. It looked like it was having fun. I certainly was having fun watching it. There were also 2 finches stealing moss from the pot of a large fake ficus plant. They were taking turns picking long strands and flying off to some unseen nest within the building. Imagine getting trapped and lost inside JFK airport (Tom Hanks), then finding someone else (of your same species) and hooking up to start a family...

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Lanphier and Associates

This spot was for a bankruptcy attorney center. The client provided a script that… well, read like a lawyer wrote it. It hit as many bullet points as possible that the :60 and :30 second versions would allow. I took their main points and wrote a script with a more emotional appeal. Instead of featuring a spokesman, it featured a young mother who got herself into financial trouble. The idea being that any potential clients would identify with the more “human” character.
Here are some storyboards from the livingroom scene:

Now on to the 35 adapter… I’ve been working on a 35mm lens adapter (static design based on Edwierdo and Marleen’s designs) for the DVX for a couple of months now and I finally have a working prototype, although it has a few flaws. I only used 5 micron aluminum oxide to grind the ground glass. 3 micron is preferred, but at the time I ordered parts I couldn’t find any online. I was worried about the grain, but after checking the footage on a hi-res monitor, I’m very happy. The problem I have is with vignetting. Part of the problem may be caused by the lack of a condenser lens, but the main problem is due to the +10 diopter. It’s an achromat which is nice, but it’s not strong enough, and only 42mm wide, as a result, I get some hard edge vignetting around the corners. I have plans to use a 50mm +16 or +20 achromat, but that will be a little while before I can make that modification. Once I get a decent working unit, I will post about it. The lens is a 50mm f1.7 minolta, and tests show that the frame matches the 35mm sill frame closely. I really wanted to use the adapter for some of the shots in this spot, the “dark moments” as the main character is faced with financial problems. Fortunately the vignetting plays into that feeling, the dark corners make it feel like her world is closing in. Also, the spot will be letter boxed, so most of the hard vignetting will be blocked out. Here are a couple of screen grabs from the living room scene, one is a slow dolly in, and the other is a rack focus (love that shallow DOF!) from the actor to the phone. Both of these were lit only with shiny boards from outside the windows.

Here is the lighting diagram for this scene:

This next still is from the lawyers office. It’s shot clean, without the lens adapter. Lighting was natural light from the windows and modeling with 2 500watt PAR64s with full CTO, and a back light with a 75watt reflector bulb in a Lowell light with full CTO and on a dimmer to dial it in. Also below is a behind the scenes still that shows the parcan set up. We were on a second story location, so shinyboards were not an option.

This set still shows the ambient light and one of the PAR64s with full blue.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Top of the World Update


Here is some of the time-lapse footage, it is ~1 meg and 5 seconds long. The image size in the camera was set for ~1000x700 pixels, so the option exists for a slow push in or push out as well as a pan, but here is the footage with no color correction or movement in post: