Cut cut cut, think think think

I have two scenes that need to be cut from the script, I know it.  I just… have to figure out how.  There’s some pertinenent information in them that I’ll have to move elsewhere.

Today went well.  Cleaved off a few parts that were superfluous.  Hopefully my sleeping brain can help me find a way to do the rest tomorrow morning.

Big thanks to the VPD who answered my 911 call about a guy screaming at 5AM… they came by and picked him up and I got to go back to sleep.  I wasn’t even sure where he was, but they found him.  I phoned later to followup and thank them.  🙂

…Did I say something about posting more food pictures?  Well these ones are of TINY food, made of candy.  They were all really fun to make!  Enjoy.



Link to the album!

Cheers guys.

Heidi out.

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Times When / Snowpocalypse

Times when I exclaim “What is this, the dark ages‽”
☐ When at a Renaissance Fair
☐ When India suspends its Polio vaccination program
☐ When the whole of Russia is in chaos over apocalypse fears
☑ When I am on a slow computer

Snowed a bunch here in Vancouver today.  I am continually amazed at how horribly the city handles it.  Traffic is a mess.  Whole intersections, like Cambie and Broadway today, turn into lakes.  Power was out to 50k people.  And the icing on the cake… our brand new bridge, the new Port Mann (2.46 billion dollar project), had to be shut down after it started raining down ice bombs on cars below, injuring 2, and causing 60 ICBC claims.

Thankfully I had the luxury of being inside for the day; I spent the morning at the cafe, leaving at 12:30 with a huge wordcount under my belt.  It’s going swimmingly.

Then I spent the afternoon doing Christmas present related things…  >:D  I love getting presents together.

Anyone playing Dragonvale (yes yes, I play Dragonvale) is likely just as excited as I am that currently *every dragon can be bought or bred*.  I can hardly decide which ones to try for first JK IT’S TOTALLY THE LEAP YEAR DRAGON GUYS.

Pictures today: what it looks like in an Amazon warehouse.

Hope everyone has a safe snowy time.  Stay warm and cozy, find something you love and get happy.

Heidi out.

26 Minutes.

26 minutes.

A lot can happen in 26 minutes.  Tomorrow, I do believe movie theatre audiences will be put to the test.

Is 26 minutes too long?

Are 26 minutes of ads and trailers too many?

The time from when my movie ticket says The Hobbit starts…

…to the time the The Hobbit starts.

Is 26 minutes.

The adverts and trailers will take 26 minutes.

26 minutes.

12PAX: Coming at it as a Writer

This was my first PAX.

For those not in the know, PAX is Penny Arcade Expo, a gaming convention.  It spanned the three days over the Labour Day long weekend, and had many things that interested me.

I went to a ton of panels with interesting people talking about interesting things.  I mostly tried to come at it from my perspective as an author.  It was nice; a lot of the talks really applied to writing, and not just in video games.

I wanted to share a bit about some of the writing related panels I went to, and the points I took away from them.  The speakers were engaging and humourous, informative and well thought out.

First up: Loving The Alien: Non-Humans in Fiction and Games.

This is extremely relevant to writers of science fiction and fantasy in particular.

The panelists were Erin Evans, author of Brimstone Angels and The God Catcher, David Noonan, lead writer of TERA, and referenced weekly in our D&D campaign, and Keith Baker, creator of the Eberron campaign setting in D&D, writer of two trilogies, as well as the creator/writer on a host of other RPG and computer games.

I know, right?  Writers makin’ it.  So good.

These good folks talked about non-human characters and the challenges faced by writers trying to flesh them out.  It was interesting, though I felt rather pretentious when I had the thought “I know all this.”  I DON’T know all this, but I guess it feels like that sometimes when you’ve spent time thinking about a topic.  …But then, I’ve been doing A LOT of thinking about this; I am in the throws of writing a novel where the main character is non-human.

The one point I hadn’t really thought about was, when you have non-human species, show them interacting in places where they’re forced together with other species.  You get to see all kinds of tensions, their differences, but also their similarities when you show where their borders clash.  Showing a non human character in their element is fine and dandy, but show them at odds with other species to really make them shine.


The next day, a panel that caught my eye was called Making Magic Work: Designing Magic Systems for Games and Books.  I was, unfortunately, behind the last person admitted.  :/  The Tabletop Theatre was consistently too small for the number of people that wanted to see the panels there.  I saw tons of people turned away from every talk there!  I hope next time they have a bigger venue for such interesting panels.  I found an interesting read if you’re into magic systems.

One good thing happened there, even without me actually getting into the panel: a girl in the line got a game going.  It was a simple game to learn, and a lot of fun.  It drew strangers together.  I purchased it post haste!  I ended up proliferating her idea, and started a game of it while waiting in another line up.  It was just a fun social interaction that left everyone feeling great.

The game is “Spot-it” if you’re interested.  Colours and shapes; you’d think it was easy.

Anyway!

Later that evening, I attended “Setting the Mood”, on what makes a good RPG.

I was pleased to see Keith Baker again; he had a lot of interesting things to share about his experience with RPGs.  Also on the panel were Will Hindmarch and Logan Bonner.

These guys had a lot of RPG experience between them. They went over many great ideas, from using music as an aid, to party cohesion, to dealing with problem players. It was all about steering the story in the direction it should go, helping players play their characters, and just having a good time.

Ok, not explicitly about writing, but it was about storytelling.  It was a lot of anecdotes, some good Q&A, and just a lot of fun.

On the third day, I went to a panel called “Sympathy for the Devil: Creating Killer Villains for Games and Books.”

This was a lot of fun too.  It was hosted by, again, the fantastic Erin Evans, as well as Susan Morris (author of Writers Don’t Cry, five books, and D&D for kids!) and Philip Athans (author of several of the Forgotten Realms books).

What this panel made me want to do was just talk with them about vilains.  Interesting panels have this effect.  It sometimes causes the Q&A to get a little dumb (we’re here to hear the panelists, not you, random audience member).  But my friends, who were also listening with me, and I had some great discussions afterwards about villains and villainy.

It was interesting hear the panelists talk about their favourite villains; my friends and I made observations about them based on which villains they identify most with.  I completely agreed with Erin Evans, who said the her favourite, Ozymandeous, was not actually a villain.

One of the most interesting points they made was to have someone trusted turn out to be the villain.  Guy keeps supplying you with weapons?  Arms dealer bent on destabilizing the region for his master plan.  Sometimes it’s easy to have a stereotypical view of villains.  But the best villains have good ideas, make you want to join their cause, help them carry out their grand plans.  It just so happens that they’re going to kill millions of people in the process.

The more human you make your villains, the more compelling they are.

So, that was PAX from a writer’s perspective.  There were a lot of other interesting things going on, and I think in my next post, I’ll write about it from the perspective as a gamer.  Good times.

…Especially when the creative team from Ubisoft joined our gaming session in our hotel on the last night.  Wow.

But more on that in my next post!

Thanks for reading.

Heidi out.

When it’s Not Hip to be Square: Aspect Ratio Madness

It’s everywhere, and it causes me physical pain.  Yes, Projectionists around the globe are being tortured every day by being exposed to incorrectly formatted aspect ratios.

Sports bars are the worst for this.  Many broadcasts are not meant to be viewed in widescreen format, but the widescreen TVs stretch the program to fit its dimensions.

Absolutely terrible.

A brief warning: if you continue reading this, you too will see the atrocities being committed in plain sight on TVs around the globe.  You might not be able to unsee.  However, I feel like if enough people know about this, we might be able to change it, and get all TVs displaying programs in the intended aspect ratio.

That out of the way, let me begin by sharing one of my favourite frames from a film.

This is from Fight Club, and it depicts Tyler Durden, the most famous Projectionist, pointing up at a “cigarette burn”.  These are markings on the film that tell the Projectionist when to ‘changeover’ and switch between the projectors that are showing the film.  They are at the beginning and end of every reel of film.

Now, let me show you the image as it is printed on the actual piece of film running through the projector:

Notice that, while it’s width is still the same, the height is greater?  Notice that the previously squashed and oblong cigarette burn is now (almost) a perfect circle?  Notice how Tyler Durden’s anatomy is grotesquely deformed and stretched?

I am Jack’s bursting aneurism.

See, film comes in two formats (mostly- there are others, but odds are, if you’re at a regular theatre, you’re seeing one of these two): flat, with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 (for every 1 unit tall, it’s 1.33 wide), and scope, with an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 (often called ‘widescreen’).

Projectors have two lenses.  The flat lens shows the film as is, no stretching or distorting. The scope lens stretches is to the proper widescreen aspect ratio.  The images above would represent scope film; the first image as seen projected through the correct scope lens, the second image projected through the incorrect flat lens.

Right!  A few more fun examples before I move on now:
        

The image on the left is how the film actually looks in real life.  The image on the right is adjusted to show how the lens would stretch it, creating the correct widescreen aspect ratio.

Huge difference, right?

Right.  So, back to TVs.  Seems there’s quite a mix of formats being programed.  TV used to be filmed in 1.33:1, the aspect ratio of old cathode ray tube television sets.  Almost a perfect box, right?  A little wider than it is tall, but not by much.

But now, programming is being filmed in widescreen to take advantage of the successor, the widescreen television.  This is great!  Widescreen presentations shown on widescreen televisions are wonderful!  Widescreen TVs are 16:9, or 1.77:1.

The problem comes in when non-widescreen programming is presented on a modern widescreen TV.  Then you get things like this:

        It’s not so bad, right?  WRONG!

The original image looks like this:

As you can see, the ‘stretched’ version grotesquely deforms the actors in the frame, squashing them down, distorting everything.  Check them out side by side:

Booooo!

In most cases, the solution is as simple as pressing a single button: the “zoom” or “wide” button on the remote is the one you’ll need.  Press it, and it will cycle the TV to display another format.  Keep pressing it, and it will take you through all the aspect ratios the TV can display.  Many TVs have this set to widescreen, and what they should be displaying is auto.

TVs know what to display things in; let them do their damn job.

This way, 1.33 content won’t get squashed.  It’ll have black borders on the left and right.  2.39 content will get black bars on the top and bottom, because widescreen TVs are 16:9, an aspect ratio of 1.77, not quite as widescreen as scope films in the 2.39 format.

Oh gosh, this seems like a lot.  Basically: hit the zoom/wide button until people don’t look squashed.  You will be doing all viewers a favour.  If anyone protests, please step on their face.  Aw, that seems a little mean now that I’ve said it.  Perhaps whip out a pen an paper and illustrate what you just learned?

Nope, stepping on their face is easier.

You made it to the end!  Bonus pics for you, and you, and YOUUUUUU!

Note: no film prints were harmed in the making of this blog post; I used my collection of trailers.

PSA Image! (Large version here.)

Thanks for reading.

Heidi out.

My Journey to Becoming an Entomophage

I’m going to just go ahead and post this.  There’s a huge negative bias towards eating insects in our western culture, but the reality is that they are nutritious, packed with protein, and, as I recently discovered, *delicious*.  Over 80% of the world are Entomophages!

Would you like to know more?

So, below is my journey to becoming an entomophage.  I hope you’ll be inspired to take the plunge; if we can get over our squeamishness, the whole world can benefit from eating insects.

My package arrived after being held up with Canadian Boarder Services.

I put my grasshoppers in a container and froze them.

I was making tortillas, and decided it was a good time to take the plunge.

I fried them up with butter,

heated up my tortilla with some cheese,

and added the Main Event!

Tortillas assemble!

After everything was ready I dug in.

If my face is confusing, it’s because this is perhaps the most conflicted meal I’ve ever eaten…  It was a mix of “oh god this is good” and “oh god dont’ think about what you’re eating.”

It was delicious!  The hoppers tasted nutty and nice.  The texture was a little… different.  It was a little crunchy, but not in the hard or sharp sort of way.

The biggest thing to get over was that I was eating bugs.  I was a little squeamish, but I got over it pretty quick when I tasted how good it was.

My husband, Aaron, and our friend Matthew came home shortly thereafter from a workout at the climbing gym.  I told them of my adventure, and Matthew was pretty enthused about it.  I cooked up another batch of hoppers, and he tried a Grasshopper Tortilla too!  He really liked it.

…Aaron is not there yet.  He tried one grasshopper hot out of the pan, and liked it.  But it goes against his “not eating things with faces” guideline.  We’ll see.  Matthew’s boldness and subsequent enjoyment of the dish was really an inspiration.

Hope you get to try some some time; it was a neat experience I will be repeating.