Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Back to Life and a Trip in the TARDIS

Ah... hello life. It's me, Elizabeth. I'm BACK!

In case you were wondering, the Premiere went very well... I wrote all about it on -- with pictures!

After which we celebrated ReginaCon 2011 (also known as the 4th Fairy Tale Novel Fan Festival). This was a weekend of crazy awesomeness in which I got to hang out with some really, really cool people.

We even took a trip on the Tardis:

I want to write more about it, but the coffee shop I'm at has slow internet and I wouldn't dream of trying to load pictures here. So -- soon, my friends. Soon!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Confessions of an Accidental Sound Editor

I was never intending to be the sound editor on "The Shadow of the Bear."

Let's face it. I'm severally hard of hearing and have to wear the most powerful hearing aids on the market to function even close to the way hearing people do. So obviously I'm not the best person to do the sound editing, right?

Well when push came to shove, I ended up being the only person. No use complaining or sitting around feeling sorry for myself, I had to get to work and give it my best shot. And you know what? So far it's turning out all right. My awesome speakers give me very good accessibility and any glitches so far are simply in lack of material to work with (ADR missing in some places, or lack of ambient noise to pull a scene together). These issues will be resolved after the premiere, but we simply don't have time to do it all now.

My brother (who has fantastic hearing) has agreed to go over my work in the next day or two and double check everything. This is a big relief to me, because if there ARE any major problems in my work, I want them to be because we absolutely couldn't fix them in the time that we had, not because we didn't pursue all options.

So now that I've completely reassured my SOTB fans... I just have to say... I feel sort of proud of myself for what I've done. I actually was more capable than I expected and the sheer volume of work that I've accomplished is... *searches for the right word that doesn't come across as bragging and fails*.

It's been a really tough few weeks here. So it's a real blessing to have something I can really and truly feel pleased about. And I can't wait until we have time to polish the last rough spots properly after the Premiere!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart

I always do more than a bit of a happy dance when I find a Jane Austen spin-off worth reading. There are just so many horrible ones that finding a good one sometimes seems impossible.

"Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart" is one of the good ones. It certainly doesn't measure up to Jane's level, but it is a good deal better than most of what is out there, and certainly more original and interesting than most Christian fiction.

Oh yes, the Christianity is subtle, but they sell this in Christian bookstores and it's quite clean. Another (unfortunately) rarity among Austen fiction these days.

So what is it actually about?

When her sister's pregnancy complications prevent her from finishing her degree at a Jane Austen synopsim in Oxford, Claire agrees to go in her place. Along the way she discovers the first draft of Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" and learns the hardest way what women find so attractive about Mr. Darcy. But who is Claire's own Mr. Darcy? The answer is not as easy as she once thought.

A quick, but fun read, I finished in about two hours, unable to put it down. It may not be high literature, but it's a sight better than normal fare of this sort and I would quickly recommend it as a light summer read worth picking up.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Wedding Memories

I love weddings.

Okay, I've always loved weddings, although lately the planning aspects have become rather stressful. However the wedding I was a part of last week was WONDERFUL! I went down a few days early and got to know the whole wedding party and assist with preparation. I also got to spend a lot of time with my very oldest friends, which was a ton of fun.

First time in a rehersal was a blast! Apparently it took longer than it should have because the groomsmen were goofing off, but I didn't think so. Maybe it's just that I've been in so many plays and have had to wait around much, much longer? Plus, the groomsmen were SO FUNNY!

Day of the wedding was mostly us girls getting all dressed up. We had a hairstyler do our hair, which was cool, and I was kept busy helping with last minute sewing tasks. The bridesmaid dresses were two different shades of green, and we each got to pick our own style that flattered us best. The unifying theme were the pearl necklaces, bracelets and earrings that the bride had given us the night before. (They were gorgeous!)

The wedding was beautiful and very, very special. One of the most touching moments was when the bride and groom did a piano/vocal duet at the end. Another special bit? The fact that the groom composed the bridal march for his beloved. :)

They had an outdoor reception and the weather was absolutely perfect! Then we formed two lines and blew a cloud of bubbles for the bride and groom to exit through.

The honeymoon had been kept an absolute secret, so the moment the getaway car was out of sight, we bridesmaids rushed over to the mother-of-the-groom and begged her to finally enlighten us.

Personal happy tidbit? The bride and most of the bridesmaids went barefoot for the ceremony. NO HEELS! I was in heaven. (Plus I'm very tall and almost any heel at all would have made me taller than the groomsman I was walking down with. As it was, I was quite happily shorter than him.)

All in all it was a beautiful time of memories and blessings and I am so thankful to have had a chance to go, particularly in the midst of what has been a very difficult year for me.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

X-Men: First Class -- My Review

At long last I was able to see it!

First of all, I have to say I am SO glad that I waited to see it with captions. Yes, it was hard that everyone else got to see the film first, but I would not have enjoyed it nearly as much if I hadn't been able to understand what everyone was saying. So praise God for advancing technology that allows me to experience some films the same way others do!

(BTW -- if you or a friend have a hearing impariment and you want to find a captioned showing to attend, simply type your location in at and it'll give you all the captioned showings in your area)

Anyhow, back to X-Men. What's the verdict?

Having gotten over all of the changes long ago (and done plenty of ranting about it!), I am able to say now that I loved the movie for what it was. Were there changes I would have made were I the director? Yes, of course. Yet it is amazing how well everything fit together in this film. The script was extremely well written and all the pieces fit together perfectly. If one accepts the movie as belonging, not to Earth 616, but to a parallel universe (think along the lines of "The Ultimates") it is a lot easier to enjoy the film.

Magneto and Xavier were fantastic. In fact, while Magneto fully met my expectations, Xavier exceeded them. McAvoy was even better than I was expecting --- perfectly cast in the role of Professor X. This was the role (imho) that he was born to play.

Mystique (usually called Raven in this film) was delightfully re-imagined as an adopted sister of Xavier. While I will always miss her obsession with protecting her adopted daughter Rogue, this version of her is equally compelling and perhaps even more fun to watch. The love triangle between her, Hank and Magneto was also perfectly written, and there is definitely room in the future for Azazel to become Nightcrawler's father.

Moira McTaggart was a pleasant surprise. While her backstory and occupation are 100% different than her comic history, her personality is spot on. I really believed I was watching Moira (even though the 616 Scottish Scientist Moira would have been appalled at the thought of being a US CIA agent.)

Beast and Banshee were also marvelously done. Endearing, sweet, and - (apart from Banshee's lack of Irishness), quite faithful to their 616 counterparts (which was really nice to see).

Havok is the one First Class member that I would have liked to see more of. We got the least of his backstory and his character felt very underdeveloped. Hopefully this will all get fleshed out more in the sequels.

Darwin's appearance is so short that I wish they had kept it a secret. I suppose that wasn't possible, but I have high hopes for seeing him again. (Don't believe me? Pick up a copy of "Deadly Genesis")

The one character that made less than no sense to me was Angel Salvadore. A strange choice from the beginning, her defection without any prior foreshadowing was perhaps one of the weakest links of the film. The actress was quite good, however, and I hope they give her more to do in a sequel.

Sebastian Shaw was fantastically played by Kevin Bacon. His motivations were exactly what were needed in a villian for this film. My only problem? His character seemed far more like Nathaniel Essex (Mr. Sinister) to me than Sebastian Shaw. I mean, Essex was the geneticist, he was the one who was actually alive in WWII, he was the sadistic scientist... and so on and so forth. So while I LIKED Shaw's character, I suspect that they only named him Shaw instead of Essex because they wanted Shaw's powers and his connection to the Hellfire Club.

And of course, they wanted the Hellfire Club so that they could bring in Emma Frost.

Ah Emma Frost. I'd heard so many disappointing things about her ahead of time that I went in with very low expectations for her (Those of you who know me will remember that Emma is one of my absolutely favorite Marvel characters). To my surprise, she didn't bother me quite as much as I expected. Of course she was hardly the awesome Emma of the current comics, but I rather felt she wasn't supposed to be. This was young Emma, back when she was completely under the sway of Shaw. There is plenty of time for her to become the "Ice Queen subject to no one witch with a b" that we know and love her as now. And I felt the ending completely set up that possibility. I just hope that both Mystique and Emma are allowed to be full-fledged characters capable of running their own plans, and not just Magneto's toadies.

Azazel and Riptide? Their powers were cool to watch, but I definitely got the sense that the filmmakers picked them solely because they wanted villains with the powers of Nightcrawler and Storm. Azazel makes chronological sense... but Riptide again makes me wonder why they had Shaw and not Sinister, as Riptide is best known as one of Sinister's Marauders.

But all these little things are nothing when one considers how well the film was executed. The plot, the humor, the dialogue -- I loved it all. This is the first film that I actually feel really captures the tone of "X-Men."

And I am delighted with their explanation of how Xavier ends up in a wheelchair. It is PERFECT. They don't show him bald yet, but a joke earlier in the film gives us a hint as to how the hair loss might happen in a later film.

What about age appropriateness?

There are several scenes with women clad in lingerie. One very brief scene of a sexual nature and another that has a sexual context. There is also a lot of violence that is for the most part fairly bloodless. However younger viewers would probably find the scenes between Magneto and Shaw disturbing, as Shaw used some very sadistic and horrible methods to activate Magneto's powers and Magneto later takes revenge in a way that could bother some. So I suggest parents or older siblings seeing the film first before showing it to the rest of the family.

Overall I was far happier with the film than I first thought I would be. It was fun, it was intellectually and emotionally engaging, and was excellently made. Well worth the $6 ticket and I will absolutely buy it when it comes out on DVD.

Furthermore, if they can get Matthew Vaughn to come back, I think there is every possibility that a sequel would be even better than the first.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Road Trip!

Today I head off for a very special out-of-state wedding. I get to drive down with some of my very oldest friends, and then be in the wedding of an even older friend. ;) I'm so very excited!

In other news --- I more or less finished the fine cut of "The Shadow of the Bear" last night! There are still a few shots to tweak, but other than that we've achieved picture lock. Considering that I did over half of the work in the past 11 days I am thrilled and more than a little blown away. I rendered it all out last night and watched a bit of it on my computer this morning... I can hardly believe I've gotten to this point!

My co-producer is working on securing the ADR from our actors, which I will lay in when I get home. We're still working on finding someone to help with audio tweaking -- otherwise we may have slightly incomplete audio for the premiere. We have one composer signed on, but we've had little luck getting a second to help her with the work --- not sure what's going on there but it's pretty frustrating so prayers would be appreciated. As it is we are definitely not going to have all the music done for the premiere -- final music will have to debut on the DVD. I also have to create the credits and get as much color correction as possible done before the premiere, but that should be fairly manageable.

However I'm not worrying too much about any of that until after the wedding. I'm definitely in need of a wee break and some social interaction. (oh yes, and I get to wear a gorgeous dress!)

Monday, June 6, 2011

My film project is in need of some audio help!

We have a new cry for help today! Do you or anyone you know have any experience with (and the software for) audio clean-up? After we get the ADR, there is still a lot of tweaking to do and we just don't have time (or in my case -- practical ability) to do it. Could you help us or direct this to someone who could? You can find out more details here:

Thursday, June 2, 2011

This cool thing called Freegal

Free, legal music. Sounds like Christmas, right?

Freegal is a service that libraries can sign up for, that allows their patrons to download a limited number (my library does 3) free songs every week. Once downloaded, the songs belong to the patrons --- forever. No fees, no deadlines, no expiration dates.

I discovered freegal on my library's website about a month ago and so far have downloaded nine songs. I'm currently working on getting the "Little Women" musical soundtrack. The website is not extremely well organized so you DO have to dig to find what you want, but they DO have a LOT of options --- there were very few musicals, for instance, that they didn't have. And they have tons of popular music too.

The music doesn't download directly to iTunes --- you have to download it, then use the iTunes function "add file to library" and select the music files from your downloads folder. It only takes a few seconds though and you can save yourself quite a bit of money this way.

So check and see if your library subscribes! If not, put in a request! Then, get the word out!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What I'm looking forwards to seeing in X-Men: First Class

X-Men: First Class releases in the US tomorrow at midnight. I'm trying to restrain myself from impulsively going to it because I KNOW I'm going to regret not waiting to see it with captioning. It's just not the same if you can't hear what everyone is saying.

But MAN... am I ever excited! Despite all the character problems Fox has thrown into the mix, I really think it's going to be a good movie.

What am I looking forwards to? (SPOILERS TO FOLLOW!)

  • The relationship between Xavier and Mystique. Early reviews say it's of the brother/sister type and I hope that's true as it would be an interesting dynamic. Plus I always just love brother/sister relationships.
  • James McAvoy as Xavier. I really like McAvoy, but I have not absolutely loved him in a role since Narnia. I have a feeling this could be the changing film.
  • Michael Fassbender as Magneto. I've never seen Fassbender in anything other than the X-Men trailers, but between those, the pictures, and all the interviews I've read with him I can tell he's going to be FANTASTIC!
  • Jennifer Lawrence's take on Mystique. Even though I feel this spin is really going to be NOTHING like the comics, I still think it will make for a VERY interesting character to watch.
  • DARWIN! Prior to reading X-Factor and "Rise and Fall of the Shi'ar Empire" I had little interest in Darwin. But now that I actually know who he is, I'm pretty excited!
  • Havok! It's high time we had a proper young hothead in these films!
  • Young Hank/Beast. Beast is one of the most adorable and lovable X-Men (after Nightcrawler and tying with Kitty and Peter). Seeing him as a young nerd has so much 'awww' potential!
  • Moira McTaggart and her relationship with Xavier. She actually made a brief appearance in X-3, and their early relationship has a big effect on later events in the comics. However we've seen very little of any interaction with them in the trailers so there is a LOT still to learn.
  • Sebastian Shaw. Shaw's never been one of my favorite villians (SINISTER ALL THE WAY) but he is better than most. He's got more elegance and wit than most (I'm looking at you, Apocalypse), and is actually interesting to watch. And it looks like Kevin Bacon is going to do a fantastic job.
  • Grown-up Emma Frost (as opposed to the teen in Wolverine). So far I've been less than impressed with January Jones' acting, but there is still potential for coolness...
  • Telepathic battle between Xavier and Emma. C'mon. Why put Emma in the film if you're not gonna have a telepathic battle?
  • Banshee learning to fly. We've seen clips of this in the trailers and it looks like it'll be fun.
  • Wolverine's rumored cameo.
  • Other rumored cameos.

That's everything that comes to mind! So you can see why I'm having trouble controlling the impulse here... ;)

Okay, back to work on the SOTB movie editing!