Now that Alex has let the cat peek out from under the bag, I’ll mention it too.

A cable network has paid for three more scripts on one of the shows he’s been developing. Experience-free Webs is not going to be part of the little writing staff he’s putting together, nor would I expect to be, but with a little luck I’ll have some sort of industry job in six months.

Filmmaking in the 21st century

Some of you may have seen this already, but I’ll post it for the rest because it’s technically amazing.

The BBC series Timewatch analyzes and historical events and recently looked at the D-Day’s Omaha Beach. The episode itself tried to spin unoriginal conclusions out of a whole lot of nothing, but that’s not my point here.

The show uses recreations. Most TV documentaries about battles do. But these usually involve fewer than two dozen participants and use narrow shots to keep the empty battlefield hidden. Timewatch went another route, sort of. The show’s CGI crew of three, with the help of some manual labour, invaded Omaha Beach to recreate the landing.

Show researcher Georgina Leslie explains in the show blog:

One of the most fun parts of filming is for the computer graphics (CGI) sequences. Timewatch has its own team dedicated to CGI (Neil Wilson, Steve Flynn and Colin Thornton) who have come out to Normandy with a car laden with Rangers’ uniforms and fake plastic guns. They are here for two days to film some basic drama reconstruction sequences that will form the basis of their D-Day landing scene. In order to catch low tide when the beach is at its widest, we head for the beach at dawn whereupon the three boys spent several exhausting hours dress up in the uniforms and run up and down the sand, as I operate the Z1 camera. They carefully plan it so that each run is in a different part of the frame. That way, when they are back in the office, they can layer these frames up in the computer until it looks like there are hundreds of men landing on the beach – rather than just three. Later they will drop in beach obstacles and landing crafts, based on images they have gathered from books – and also small explosions, filmed separately again. As well as the beach landing scene, they have to film a sequence of cliff climbing at Pointe du Hoc – to illustrate what Ike and his fellow Rangers had to do on D-Day. We find a small 10ft sand dune which the boys clamber up head-on into the camera. I help hold up the green screen making sure it fills the frame behind the boys. The green screen means that when it comes to the edit, they can drop in a different background – in this case, the sea and Pointe du Hoc cliff-line.

Colin Thornton, one of the CGI guys, posted a behind-the-scenes look at the process on YouTube:


Now, this does not match the quality of “Saving Private Ryan” despite claims that it does. The result falls short of most movie work, I’d say, but it is leagues ahead of the standard TV military documentary. But imagine where this process will take us. Don’t think of it in terms of studio movies, though. Those already use computing power to replace extras – look at the Lord of the Rings trilogy of movies.

This technology is so fascinating not for what it can do for major productions, but for what it can do for the hobbyist. The line between pro and amateur in camera and editing tech has already blurred, although the hardware and software remain a tad pricey. These guys devoted four days to the show’s recreation. What could someone do with a dozen people and a week? What will they be able to do in five years? Expect a great leap forward for homemade short films.

Hockey update

Game number ten went into the books this afternoon, with Child Three in goal.

He stopped a good chance early, but got lucky on the rebound as he turned his back on the play but the shooter put it into his pads. We ended the first period up 1-0.

Child Three has two tendencies that really drag his game down, and I had a little chat with him during the break. He ignores or swings out his stick and he goes down on one knee. The one knee stance is fine if he’s trying for a toe save that he needs to reach for, but Child Three uses it as his default and as a result he lets in more goals than he should between the legs. I told him to pay attention to those errors, and he listened.

He made some good stops in the second period, and got a bit of help from his crossbar once, but the period ended with the score still 1-0.

Our guys scored three more goals in the third, and Child Three made one or two more decent saves, but the team fell apart. The last three goals all came on dekes. Our player went to one side, the opposing goalie went down, and our player would take the puck to the other side and pot one. The other goalie (the second as our opponents split the game between two goalies) was not bad – he stopped everything else and even stopped that move a third of the time – but our team collectively sensed the weakness.

Unfortunately, some of the skill players decided that scoring more goals was more important than backchecking and they got lazy. They waited for clearing passes instead of going in and helping the defense strip the other team of the puck. With four minutes left, I told my forwards to play defensively. The line went on and gave up a breakaway within 30 seconds – and watched the opposing players rush toward our net instead of skating back to intercept (we have some fast players who might have caught up). Child Three did his one-knee drop and the puck went in. It was a total breakdown.

That became an extremely short shift for that line.

WIth two minutes to go, one of players received two minutes for slashing, and the other team scored an almost identical goal. Breakaway, one knee, puck in net.

I’m not a big believer in the momentum cliche, but I do believe in motivation. The goal motivated the other team and they had us back on our heels, but we withstood the pressure and took the 4-2 score into the locker room.

The other coaches and I had more to say in today’s debrief than we did last week after the 10-0 win. We’re playing the team we beat 10-0 next week, and they are much better than that score indicates. My Panthers better be more ready to play and work for the entire game if they want to stay in first place.