Monday, December 15, 2008

perched on the edge

One of the curiosities that comes with living close to Smith College is the periodic screaming that I get to hear. I'm not talking about individuals, nor a little post-party crew making its way back to a car parked near our house. I'm talking about the whole quad lighting up with the shrill and fierce yells of what can only be women in serious pain or pleasure. Since it's the heart of final exam time, it could be a little of both.

Anyway, tonight I feel a bit like joining in the chorus. The pleasure part. 'Cause as the shrieks rail out I'm finalizing the festival screener DVD for Tower 37. The last touch for the DVD was the credits, which now seem pretty firmly in place. Tomorrow I should be trying to convert the HD Apple PRORES version into something watchable on a standard def DVD.

By the way, in the interest of full disclosure, we're going with "The Incident at Tower 37" as the official title.

One other interesting thing going on these days (now more on the pain front): I've been following the release of Delgo with serious fascination. Here we have an independent animated feature out of Fathom Studios in Atlanta that took somewhere between 9 and 12 years to make (articles online seem unable to concur on the date the film was begun, ranging from 1996 to 1999 in what I've read).

Since I've of course thought a hundred times over about how the Tower 37 production process would scale to a feature (yes, I'm considering it), the fate of Delgo is one I will follow closely. The biggest issue I see is that while Delgo is an independent animated feature, it had a production budget (according to wikipedia, today) of around $40 million. So independent it may be, but it's heavily dependent on a massive box office revenue if it wants to recoup its costs. As of today, that's not looking very likely (boxofficemojo reports a half million on opening weekend, despite it appearing on over 2000 screens).

My latest back-of-the-envelope calculations (based on Tower 37) project a production budget an order of magnitude lower than Delgo's for a 90-minute feature of the same quality and complexity of T37. Yes! So, agents and production studios, if you're looking to invest in an independent animated feature that doesn't have to win the lottery at the box office to succeed, you should contact me. Bitfilms is your spot.

And if you don't contact me, please don't hang up on me when I try to contact you.


Unknown said...

Congrats Chris!

How are you planning to compress the show for SD DVD? I used Apple's Compressor and can't say that I'm at all pleased with the results. Their encoders (whether for H.264, MPEG-2 or anything else) really just aren't competitive... especially with open-source alternatives. x264 is MUCH better than compressor, but I haven't found a comparable MPEG-2 encoder. I've been meaning to do a shootout between Compressor, Media Encoder CS4, ffmpegX and mencoder but haven't gotten to it yet. The best MPEG-2 encoder that I've seen is CinemaCraft (; too bad about that price tag...

Chris Perry said...

So far, for the festival screener DVDs, I've been using Compressor. I tweak their defaults a little bit (generally upping the bitrates), but that's all I've been doing.

The results looked pretty good on the big LCD screens at the Paradise City Tavern the other night (we had kind of an impromptu screening there), but they look awful on my old TV at home. I suspect it's my old box that's the primary culprit here.

Haven't had anything else to compare it to. Let me know what you learn from your shootout!