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ATPM 6.01
January 2000





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On a Clear Day, You Can See the Hollywood Sign

by Mike Shields,

I Can Still See It

Many of you may remember that back in May when I got hired by the fine folks at Rocket Science Central, I thought I might have to change the title of my column yet again. After all, I don’t have a good view of the Hollywood Hills from my cubicle here in Pasadena. However, all is not lost. For those of you not from Southern California, to get from my house in Redondo Beach to my cubicle in Pasadena, we have this great equalizer of a freeway, Interstate 110. Of course, it doesn’t really go between states, it barely makes it from Long Beach to Pasadena in one piece. But while travelling northbound in the morning, I do have a great view of the above mentioned Hollywood sign on a day like today, when it’s clear. This will save our graphic designer much heartache, as he won’t have to create yet another logo for me.

Well, he will, but he doesn’t know about that one yet. :-)

The MacDV List

In my continuing effort to keep you up-to-date on all things related to digital video and how it affects you the Mac owner, I stumbled onto the MacDV list. I joined as soon as I discovered it, and I already have a lot of good info. I also participated in the list’s one and only flame war, as the ‘listmom’ kinda frowns on these things. So, I promise not to start anymore. Unless of course some yahoo, starts spouting off about making movies that no one else will see, while at the same time changing the paradigm about how the rest of us will make movies.

You can join the list by heading over to this page. For those of you unfamiliar with mailing lists, this would be a good one to start with; the traffic is light—only about 30 to 40 messages a day. If that’s still too much for you, a digest mode is available, giving you one big message file a day. The coolness factor of Woz being a member and an active participant is enough for me. There’s a wide range of experience levels on the list, from me who knows just enough to get into trouble but has no practical experience, all the way to the CEO of, who offers turnkey DV solutions for sale or lease. And as the name implies, it’s all Mac-based. Lots of discussion about digital video cameras that I’ve discussed here previously as well. Currently, we’re talking about whether or not iMovie should be made available to other Mac users. Good discussion from both sides on this one. Check it out.

iMovie vs. Final Cut Pro

Ok, before I start my rant, a disclaimer. I have no practical experience with either of the above mentioned products. However, as the Hollywood Guy, it is my unique talent to create something out of nothing. With that in mind, read on.

If you own a TV, or, better, you’ve been to the Apple Web site, and seen the commercial of a kid riding around on a tricycle, shot on a DV camera, feeding an iMac DV, being edited with iMovie, you’ve seen movie making for under 2K, right? Well, maybe. Just don’t expect to be able to show it at your local cineplex anytime soon. After a while, you’ll find that being able to work with only nine clips at any one time is too severe a limitation. So, then you’ll wanna get Final Cut Pro. After a while, the limitations of your iMac will get in the way, so, you’ll wanna splurge on a G4 with an Apple Cinema Display.

Though version 1.2 of Final Cut Pro may be available as you read this, you may not be able to get ahold of it because Apple might announce something nifty at Macworld Expo. And you haven’t gotten your production financing yet, anyway, so, you wait. But as I was fond of saying in my salesman days, “If you wait for the technology to get to where you want it to be, you'll never buy anything.” What to do?

My solution: Buy both. I even got a quote from the fine folks at Promax mentioned above. And 20K later, you’ll have a full-blown editing suite, with a machine to connect yourself to the outside world on the side. Ok, most of you can’t afford this. And most of you don’t want to make the next big romantic/comedy/mystery coming to a theatre or drive-in near you like I do.

In which case the iMac with iMovie will be enough.

For now. :-)

Howard Hughes Was Wrong

Long time readers will remember that I’ve worked at Huge Aircrash not once, but twice in my illustrious career. Although I couldn’t find the quote after following the links at the above referenced URL, (I even searched the IMDb), he’s famous for saying, “Never spend your own money on a film.” Of course, he said this after doing exactly that on not one, not two, but three films himself. Tell that to the makers of The Blair Witch Project, not to be confused with The Blairwich Project, a fine film in its own rite, as my esteemed editors did last time, among others.

With the above mentioned editing suite, you too can be the next Daniel Myrick. Or Eduardo Sanchez. Of course, they used older Macs as discussed, but you get the idea. And if you believe the publicity, they spent only $11,000 more than the above mentioned suite to make the entire film. Out of their own pockets. Flying in the face of Hollywood tradition to be sure. How Hollywood finances a film these days is out of scope for this column, the e-zine, and maybe even Hollywood itself. Suffice it to say, if you wanna make your own film, Sturgeon’s Law is in full force. But at the same time, you may just come back with a 10,000% return (or more) on your investment. And you can only do that if you spend your own money.

Anyone got a mil?

appleDisclaimer: Mike is an award winning screenwriter currently seeking other people’s money to make his first film, he can be reached at And the above is not to be construed as a public offering, SEC rules being what they are, ya know...

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