Uwe and Me
May 31st, 2008

Posted by Graham

Well, what can I say about that video?

Initially, I thought it’d be hilarious to interview Mr. Boll, so when forum member Tank_Girl told me she would be at a preview screening of Postal and he’d be there at a Q&A, I wished I could go. I couldn’t sadly, but I asked if she could pass on a request on our behalf. I believe she described us as “Local Filmmakers”.

He said yes, obviously, and now I have “Uwe Boll” in my mobile phonebook.

Clearly, we have a history with Boll. We’ve done 5 or so videos on him and his movies over the years, and we’ve said some not very nice things about the man. I know he’d seen one of the videos because I submitted myself to his “fight the critics” event. Gotta say, thank goodness I didn’t get picked because he mopped the floor with those guys, but I hoped he wouldn’t recognize me. Which begs the question… how do I do this? How do I conduct an interview with a man I’ve very publicly been rude to?

The chance to interview him was something I couldn’t possibly pass up though. No matter who I told about the video, the reaction was the same: stunned.

After talking it over with Paul, we decided just to do it straight. Just, you know, treat him like any other human being and ask reasonable questions without trying to attack him or be confrontational. So, that’s what I did. I wasn’t sure going in if he’d actually be a reasonable person, or as crazy as he seems online. Either way, we had a video!

The directions he gave us to the Starbucks weren’t totally clear, so Kathleen and I went for a bit of a wander around Kitsilano, on a very hot day, lugging the camera. When we finally got there we leapt right into the interview. We were then kicked out of the Starbucks patio after two questions. I’m okay with that because the audio was way better in the park, and it looked nicer too. I tell you though, my ass was numb by the end of all that. Kathleen’s nose was running the whole time because she had an awful cold, and to her credit, rather than ruin the shot to blow her nose, she resorted to wiping it on her shirt. I’m sure she’s thrilled I told you that.

The video’s end result was totally not what I expected when I went in. Very much unlike his online persona, Uwe Boll is a reasonable, well-spoken, intelligent businessman. He brings up a lot of stellar points (like why Kung-Fu Panda is screening at Cannes) and it made me look at him and his movies in a totally new light. Admittedly, I still think they’re not good, but I don’t think they’re terrible, and I know why they are what they are. Also, I intend to watch In the Name of the King and Postal before I pass judgment.

All in all, as I said in the video, I have a much, much greater respect for the man. He was honestly fun to hang out with, and I enjoyed talking to him immensely. I hope we get a chance to talk again sometime.

He sent me this photo from the set of Postal, thank Uwe!

Keep making movies, I wish you the best.

LRR Server config
May 18th, 2008

Posted by Paul

So, this started out as a reply to a question on the forums, but I realized that it might actually be informative for our audience at large. If there is interest, I might do a separate write up about the software that powers LRR.

LoadingReadyRun is currently, and has been since the beginning, hosted by HostforWeb.com. Over the years we have had to upgrade from their budget $4.95/month shared package to the VPS we are currently on. Our hosting has not been without hiccups, but on the whole they have worked quite well. It would be cool to be using a local host, but Canadian hosts (at least locally) are way more expensive then their US counterparts. I believe HostforWeb is based in Chicago.

These days LRR pushes about 400GB of bandwidth/month consisting mostly of plain html/images, the podcasts and really old, non-revver videos. In actual fact, since we switched to Revver for videos, our main issue has been with processor usage, rather then bandwidth. When Talk like a Pirate got huge, we got taken offline because we were using 100% of the CPU time on our server and preventing everyone else from loading. Oops. As of the 5.1 update to the site design, we use lots of caching to speed up the site and reduce load on CPU.

We used to host everything ourselves (LRR started before youtube), but that gets old fast when you get the kind of traffic spikes we do. All the really old, archived videos are still hosted from our server, but everything in the past couple of years is served from Revver.

We originally went with Revver to host our videos because of the whole rev-share thing, but as a happy coincidence, they also happen to be one of the best video hosts period. They encode all videos in both flash and quicktime (which is needed for older computers) and their flash player is very customizable to match your site layout.

On top of that, Revver has, from what I have seen, the most complete API interface of any video host. Not only can you query their database for videos based on any criteria you want, but you can actually build an entire white-label video sharing site using their infrastructure. As an example, The Iron Stomach Challenge website is built entirely using their API and doesn’t actually have any database of its own (other then the forum).

The only thing to remember about Revver is that, because of the ads, everything you put up has to go through an approval process to make sure you are not using copyright material. You shouldn’t be doing this anyway, so I don’t really consider this a problem.

The LRRcasts are just totally normal mp3 files hosted on our server. It is possible that we might move to an external hosting service for them at some point in the future, but so far things have been ok.

Since the beginning, our main domains have been registered through DirectNic, who happen to be based in New Orleans. Did you notice that when Hurricane Katrina hit and New Orleans was flooded, LRR didn’t go offline with a “Cannot find host” error? That’s because the DirectNic crew never left. They kept their servers running with backup generators and defended their expensive equipment with guns from looters. For that kind of dedication, I’ll let them host my $15/year domain name.

Three Video Catchup
May 14th, 2008

Posted by Graham

Hey all, thought I’d fill you in on some of the video we missed talking about recently.

Firstly, the Uwe Boll video. The actual shooting of this video was pretty much exactly the same as other similar videos (WGA, Max Effect, etc). Essentially it was setting the green screen and the lights, and then letting people do their lines.

Impressively, Morgan managed to do that one big line all in one go. As with everyone, his ability to remember lines has improved greatly since, say, Season 1.

The GTA IV Trailer took a lot more effort. The step-o-meter on my mobile phone tells me I walked 14,000 steps that afternoon. We basically just walked around lower downtown Victoria looking for interesting backgrounds to shoot against. James drove us around and carried all our goofy hats for us. More importantly he told when I was about to walk backwards into something. The real trick was all the shots of Paul walking towards the camera, to get them as close to one another as possible. I think I did pretty well, considering it was handheld. The rest was fixed in post.

We totally lucked out to get the shot of the boat at the beginning. Victoria’s industrial port (such as it is) isn’t really something we can get to, so finding a boat like that, and somewhere we could shoot was a huge boon for us. Apparently that dock isn’t supposed to be public access, but the gate was wide open so… guerrilla film making ftw.

Finally the most recent video, Son of a Bitch. All I have in the way of pictures is some toothpaste in our kitchen sink. The video was actually shot over a couple different days, due to scheduling conflicts. In fact, the bits with Matt and I were shot on Sunday morning, then re-shot on Sunday night, just before Matt had to go out. This meant that the shot of me reading the Cardboard Man comic book (which you guys noticed, right?) I had to shoot by myself.

Shooting it all in little bits meant Matt could concentrate on the delivery (which he nailed) rather than remembering lines. For the fast-forwarded footage, Matt just went nuts with various props and hats and the like. Look for an extended outtakes segment on the Season 5 DVD.

Finally, there’s some photos I wanted to share of a can of Coke Zero that Matt exploded by leaving in the freezer. Smooth move, dude.

I Am Cardboard Man!
May 7th, 2008

Posted by Graham

Which would have been the title of this week’s video, if it didn’t give away the best part about it.

So, I’ve been making that costume for the past several weeks in the back room at my job. Originally it was just out of boredom, and I never intended it for a video. Even when I finally realized that of course we would use it, I didn’t immediately think of Iron Man. And then… oh yes.

We shot everything on a Saturday. We got a great location for all the Cardboard Man shots, and shot those first. I’m really happy with how the lighting turned out. It was also my first time putting the entire costume on at once. Previous I had sized all the pieces for myself, but I’d never had more than a couple on at a time. I was at work after all.

Then we shot the scenes in Kathleen’s car, standing in for a Humvee. Originally we had planned to replace the view out the back window with some desert footage, but it didn’t work out, and the black worked fine anyway.

That evening we shot my green screen footage for the rocket gag, and around 10:30 that night we went to a club downtown to shot the “party” shots at the beginning. We only had to deal with one drunk! Yay!

Later, I took pictures of every box that comprised the costume, from every angle, and made a 3D model of the whole thing for the final shot, which, in my opinion, was the button on the whole thing. I couldn’t stop giggling whenever I explained that joke to one of the crew.

Finally, I layed in a Commodore64 version of “Iron Man” and recorded the “Cardboard Maaaaan” clip in Garageband.

All in all a fun time, and I’m really pleased with the result.