Production Journal

April 2005 Archive

Bad Bluescreen

April.30.05 | 12:18 PM

Tomorrow is May, and thus will begin our production schedule of Roybertito's :60 Sec. Spot. To commemorate the occasion, I will unveil the first glorious image from the film. Quiet now - and you'll hear faint whimpers of anticipation emerge across the trembling audience. This will be a day long remembered.

Actually it's a photo of a Mexican restaurant that I doctored. Pee your pants.

I went into a photo supply store and purchased my first roll of bluescreen paper yesterday. Finally! Bad bluescreen: just what our films always needed. It reminds me of when I was in high school and I spray painted a good portion of my bedroom wall blue, sucking down aerosol fumes in a poorly ventilated environment, blindly striving to possess the elusive blue-screen technology I'd heard so much about. Did you see PATRICK SWAYZE'S HEAD pass RIGHT THROUGH that subway train in Ghost? Mother of God! Methodically I toiled under the conviction that surely, once coated with a rich, glossy patch of Krylon's Regal Blue, my textured bedroom wall would unlock the secrets of Hollywood.

A few years later I would try again with green and blue poster board taped all over the living room walls, and I managed to composite Jason's head semi-transparently over an image of the moon using primitive chroma key technology. Glory was mine. However, the effect was incomplete, and it wasn't until yesterday that I rediscovered the muse and decided that bluescreen would, once again, be mine. I'm to begin preparing wall space precisely at 3:00. I won't be taking calls.


Jack's pot

April.28.05 | 11:55 PM

Today we found our music. Good short film music is an element of great scarcity in these parts. Some projects might never get made if the right music never surfaces. For our fist cut of Beyond Grandpa we had a homemade, looped bongo drumbeat accompanied by some eager, fitful Radio Shack keyboarding. It wasn't until a trip to a local TV station spent combing the stock library that I found the right music.

Sound Designer Matt found the kick-assin'est royalty free music clip today, and it's given a much needed shot in the pooch to our little Spot. And it's catchy! I can't get it out of my head.



April.27.05 | 8:30 PM

Spent the day a-hunting resources. We might be able to use stock footage instead of shooting bits of live action ourselves, but stock footage appears to be fulgently expensive. And finding just what we need is harder than killing a man with your bare hands. Which is pretty hard. For me. Shooting this footage ourselves requires a lot of time finding locations, renting and setting up equipment and forcing everyone to sign their essence over to Lone Sausage Enterprises, Inc.

Roybertito's :60 Sec. Spot will employ the use of a narrator (as usual) who will be speaking throughout the short. In this particular case I don't think I'll be up to the task myself, so we're also in the unique position - to us, anyway - of having to cast voice talent.

Now I make soup.


April.26.05 | 1:30 AM

The title of the short we're toying with might be Roybertito's :60 Sec. Spot, but then that might not be the title at all. If it happens it will be a whirlwind project (when is it not?) that sits atop a pile of projects we have going right now. Among other things, we're trying to self-publish a book for the SD Comic-Con and we're in the process of developing Flash animated shorts for the web. And everybody is busy. Justin is in school, Christy is busy with freelance work, Rick has a regular gig, Jason is teaching in another dimension and I'm doing conceptual art for a film.

Come to think of it, Roybertito's :60 Sec. Spot will very likely be the title for the... thing. It denotes brevity. Sixty seconds of brevity, to be exact. It tells the viewer that the short is in the form of a commercial, and suggests that its creators cared so little about the project that they didn't bother to title it, which I like. I think that settles it.

I'll post an image or two soon.



April.24.05 | 12:34 AM

Complete system failure on my Mac. It's been an interesting week. Thankfully everything is backed up. On the plus side, I bought some lovely shelves at Ikea and my living room is so much tidier now.


I threaten the public at large

April.22.05 | 9:31 PM

Pedestrians: do NOT stand in the middle of the street on a median. Don't even stand at the edge of a curb while waiting to cross.

I was in a small accident this week. I was driving in the far left lane of a busy, three lane road, when the other two lanes decided to stop and let some idiot pull across all three lanes. Out of nowhere, he shot out in front of me and slammed on the brakes. I veered into the intersection, and instead of screaming off into oncoming traffic, I crashed up onto the median (basically a small curb in the center of the road), pretty much jacking up the underside of my car and popping out a side blinker.

I'm happy with how the whole thing went down, as accidents go. The less eventful the better. The Count pulled over (I've decided he was a Count) and we exchanged insurance info, contact numbers and a couple of blows to the head and upper body. And then on the way to the mechanic, I started thinking about what would have happened if someone had been standing on that median. There could have been a kid there, or a woman with a baby carriage. There could have been a tiny blond girl with a tiny little crutch, saying a prayer for her sister in the hospital with the rare blood type who can only receive blood donations from the wee, limping angel about to become road-splash.

Do me a favor. Stop assuming cars won't hit you. Because they might be flying right at you on the sidewalk through no fault of their own, and they'll feel really bad when what's left of you dies gorily on their windshield while you make direct eye contact with them as if to say, "you will be punished, you godless horror." Just back up and stand behind the convenient heavy metal poles that adorn most street corners, and let cars smack into other cars like they're supposed to.


Thursday sketch

April.21.05 | 1:54 PM

Tran Sketch

I am 8-bit

4.20.05 | 1:26 AM

I'm sweating because I just spent an hour crammed into a tiny room with a hundred way-cool art screws and their way-too-hot girlfriends.

I woke up a bit late this morning and ate cereal while watching the second half of Psycho. Then I took a brisk walk on a hill near Universal Studios where I got a pretty good view of the back lot. Near the big, empty movie lake is a plane crash set for War of The Worlds. This is a picture a friend took late last year from said hilltop while the thing was still being built:


They've got it all set up for the tour trams to drive through, and every time one rounds the corner it triggers smoke machines to make the wreckage look steamy and freshly deposited. That's the cue for this one pathetic guy who emerges screaming from the debris to harass the tourists on the tram. It's embarrassing. I couldn't hear him from up there but I hope he had something pretty great to say.

Then I spent a couple hours writing Dr. Tran ideas. This little book concept has me inspired but mindful. I love the character and I just don't want anything done with him that might seem half-assed or wasteful. I feel like I know this kid really well, and there's more for him to do than just complain about horse buttholes.

Then Rick called and I dropped everything to go to the I AM 8-BIT show of retro video game art, held at Gallery 1988 in the glamorous, alien land of Hollywood. The showing had a lot of work by past and present Spumco artists and people in the animation industry.


The attractive in-crowd got me wondering why hot girls often seem to be imbeciles. I've decided it must be part of the delicate balance of nature. If most hot people were also of superior intellect, there'd be nothing left for the ugly people to claim as their own. When you're ugly, you can't do much about it - but you can strive towards smart and funny and interesting. If all the hotness-havers claimed those qualities too, then us ugly folk would be forced to unite and throw hot people maiming parties, or just start pushing models into the fire or something.
I'm tired.


Monday doodle

April 18, 2005 | 3:07:59 AM

Tran Sketch

Talk of Publishing

4.17.05 | 3:30 AM

Last night was the FLIGHT 2 gallery show at Nucleus in Alhambra, CA. The store was packed with stuff - art related books, toys, shirts and other all-around pointless things filled with people's hard work and inspiration. Rick and I started talking uncontrollably about putting together a little book for the 2005 San Diego Comic-Con. We're sorting through all the details - what size to make it, how many of us should contribute, etc. - but I think I like the idea.


Thrilling news

4.16.05 | 3:59 PM

Now this is exciting. Outside one of my windows has long lived a thick green pod about the size of a large pear that hangs from a usually barren tree. For a few weeks out of the year this tree sprouts flowers that quickly die, and all that's left to look at is its thorny trunk and a few clinging leaves. But for over two years now a lone pod has been the sole burden of one flimsy, straining branch too stubborn to let go. Daily I would check the pod for changes, wondering when it might give up the ghost. Dinner parties are often derailed as rapt onlookers vie for position at the window. "What the hell is it?" they'd scream. "Is it a flower that never bloomed? Why only one? Will it ever fall off?"

And then today I noticed:

Pod photo

Apparently following all the rain in L.A. during my trip to San Diego, our little man growed up. I still don't know what it is.

Sky conditions - clear
Temperature - 68.0 F (20.0 C)
Relative Humidity - 46%


Complaints welcome

4.15.05 | 10:30 PM

On an average day I might receive two or three emails regarding the Dr. Tran DVDs. Usually someone is curious about getting a tracking number, wants to know why the DVD hasn't arrived just yet or wants to know how to kill the crotch-eating bacteria contained in a select number of polywrapped packages. Yesterday was different. I got two emails in one day informing me that our shipping rates were too high. The first one went something like this:

<From: Somebody
Subject: You go eat some shit, sir.

Dear people at Lone Sasage,
It costed to much for shipping so I'm angry and not going to by it. I'm in Canada. You should no that you are not getting my money. Be sad.

Somebody bitter>

(Or something like that - I'm paraphrasing.) Now, I realize our shipping rates are a bit high, especially for shipping to Canada. I understand if it's not worth it to you, disappointed and very very sad as I may be. However, later that same day I received an email from a real fan - a doggone trooper if you ask me, that went more like this:

<From: Nicole
Subject: want to buy the Dr. Tran dvd...
...but $6 for shipping? That's crazy talk. Any other options?>

--- B Burns answers:
<Hmm. Well, at the Con the DVDs were $15 and now they're $13, so then you could look at it as $4 shipping! But if you don't want to look at it that way, I'm not sure what to say. There are a couple comic shops in LA that sell it for $10. Maybe you're near LA?>

--- Nicole the wonderful sweetheart responds:
<Unfortunately, no, I'm 400 mi or so north of there. Don't mean to sweat you over a couple of bucks, it's the just the price-to-shipping ratio that gets me. The DVD'll still be funny as hell, ten kids of wrong, and totally worth the price.>

--- B Burns sympathetically writes:
<Sorry about that. Our shipping price includes handling, which is basically some friends doing me a big favor. Also, our Paypal shopping cart is so primitive that we have to charge one price for everywhere in the U.S., so naturally that defaults to a higher price for anywhere in the U.S.
It sucks.>

--- Our favorite lil' angel Nicole lovingly replies:
Eh, whaddayagonnado. Such momentary inconvenience is the still small price you pay for wanting something original like Dr. Tran instead of something easily found and shippable from, say, Walmart. Really do love the agro-absurdity of your work, btw. Thanks.


Now that's the attitude. Just a splash of "I'm Ok, you're Ok," to make up for that Canadian who emailed us the stinkeye.


What I see when I wake up

4.14.05 | 1:50 PM

...Nothing. I see nothing when I wake up, because my bedroom is sealed shut like a metaphor for something that's really sealed shut pretty impressively. When I'm working on a project, I have the unhealthy tendency to stay up later and later until I'm sleeping during daylight hours. Then I started reading about melatonin, a very special juice that your brain squirts into your bloodstream at night. It's the hormone responsible for healing our bodies while we sleep, and is rich with cell repairing antioxidants that prevent cancer.

And then I found out that, though our bodies heal faster while we sleep, melatonin only likes to come out when you're in complete darkness. If you're not sleeping in the dark, your special juice just don't squirt as good. Natural law - what a trickster.

So I did this:


Extreme, you say? I actually bought their third album, but nothing beat the acoustic ballad, "More Than Words," that launched Extreme into the national spotlight. Why did you bring that up?

Yes, I layered my window with insulation and duct tape and now I sleep in a subterranean troll habitat. I can't see my hand in front of my face in there. I've taken note of a subtle lack of pigment in my skin lately, along with a slow degeneration of eyesight. Yesterday I noticed the acuity of my other sensory organs increasing, and I've taken up the practice of coprophagy (which is frowned upon in polite society). Maybe I need me some mini-blinds.


Chinese Dr. Tran

4.13.05 | NOON

I came across this fan drawing on the internet. It's entitled 'Chinese Dr. Tran.'

Fan Image

Tran kind of got older and sprouted fingers to better defend himself. I'd link to the site that hosted it except that it crashed the shit out of my friend's computer. Anybody know what the text says? And if it says something terrible, remember I DIDN'T MAKE THIS THING.


4.12.05 | 12:50 PM

When we make a film, I typically flirt with the idea for a long time before I commit to it. I create images and we toy with ideas and voices, and most of the time we put the idea away and forget all about it. Dr. Tran was actually just a webpage before it was a film. Part of what I responded to about the Dr. Tran idea was that I'd get to make a website that had a slick actiony theme when I would otherwise have no excuse to. Fonts I had never touched (out of fear of offending some unseen font-purists' delicate sensibilities) were getting exploited with an abandon I can only describe as devil-may-care. But afterwards, we put the idea aside for a month or two before coming back to it and launching into that marathon production process.

That's where we are on this new short. Got one thing done for it -- stoppin' to think about it. This stupid, stupid film idea is really going to have to catch us in the right mood if it's going to squirm it's way, wet and screaming, into the world.

I'm back in LA, and boy are my feet sunburned.


What is that creepiness?

4.10.05 | 6:23 PM

What follows is a correspondence between myself and Dr. Tran Editor Christy Beckert regarding the photo of me in the left margin of this webpage:

--- C Beckert writes:
<...I really gotta know about the small asian frowning head in that picture of you. What is that creepiness?>

--- Befuddled, B Burns studies the picture closely and replies:

<that's funny
you mean the tiny white frowning head with the black bowl cut and the orange glasses, in profile? Don't ask me, you took the picture.>

--- Clearly spinning in disbelief, C Beckert responds:

<What the fuck IS that? I took that picture? where were we?... I'm gonna look at that again.....hold on......I still don't know how a cartoon character can go into the real world. Maybe you can only see them in photographs. Maybe they are all around all the time! invisible crazy asians in cool sunglasses fucking up our shots.>

This photo of me was taken right around Christmas, 2004. I personally cropped it and posted it here a few days ago without subterfuge. There wasn't any frowning white head in it when it was taken. You be the judge.


Because live action is easier

4.8.05 | 6:01 PM

I've got exactly one thing finished for the new short: a digitally altered photograph of a building. This is one of my favor-ite things to do. Oh - and also a logo, but it's part of the same shot.

The live action segment in Here Comes Dr. Tran was always supposed to be a lot bigger and more impressive. All those people talking about Dr. Tran were supposed to be on their way out of movie theaters having just seen the film (for like the 5th time), and the walls were to be littered with Dr. Tran one-sheets and product tie-in ads. Of course there's no movie theater in LA that would even allow us to come within 150 feet of it with a camera, so we opted for nondescript locations instead. That was still a challenge. Some of those shots were cracked off only moments before mall security sped up in their darling little golf carts to shut down our criminal goings-on. Big ups to the stone wall of the Burbank Best Buy at midnight for being so cool to us. You're the unsung hero of no-budget live action, buddy.

The one crowning remnant of that whole idea is Producer Rickorey Smoked SCARLETT JO-MEXIFLASH's glorious composite shot of the lit up theater marquee featuring Dr. Tran - a shot that took him a couple of nights and $10,000 worth of free work to complete.

So I've been out photographing elements and it can be very satisfying to spend a few hours in Photoshop and watch reality warp to your specifications. This time I'm shooting in a tiny village in Southern California called San Diego where the mean men don't come out screaming and lashing at you with wet leather whenever you have a camera in your hand. What the hell is a "film permit" anyway?


Mandatory high school viewing

April.7.2005 | 12:04 AM

Jason and I are spending some time in our home town writing a "script" - I use that term loosely - and we recently went to speak at our old high school. The seniors there have all seen Dr. Tran in film class. I'm not sure how that's ok considering the dickings, but no one's been fired yet. I have concluded with some certainty that NOBODY likes Dr. Tran more than 17 and 18 year-olds who get to see it in a public school classroom. I've also learned that I like public speaking more than I thought I did. Next time I hope to be a little more prepared.

Uncomfortable silence. Cough.

Some more silence.

I'm giving this journal thing another try. Our days here at Lone Sausage are focused on cartoons and new film ideas and internet Flash stuff, and it's mostly just talk at this point. We do have a cool little project we're trying to finish for the 2005 San Diego Comic-Con. Nothing fancy, just a really stupid idea that I'm compelled to see projected on 35mm film. I'll let you know how it comes along.


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