We have a new co-producer joining us.
Mallory Anna Wood is a 27 year-old trans lesbian feminist activist and writer. She’s also a tabletop and PC gamer, a cartoon and horror film fanatic, and a huge science nerd. She graduated from Grinnell College, class of ’11, with a degree in anthropology, has served three terms in the Americorps, and is currently on leave from a full scholarship to Northeastern Law School.
Mallory’s involvement in the film began as a friend and general cultural consultant, and has slowly metamorphosed into her current role as co-producer. She adds a critical transfeminine perspective to the production team, as well as keeping the project aware of and involved in trans youth culture and activism.
Our friend, and the producer/assistant director of TransGeek Movie, Sayer Johnson, was named as one of the 2015 Trans100 last night!
Sayer is a parent, partner, artist, social worker, and lifelong activist. He proudly identifies as a queer transgender man. Sayer sits on the board of the LGBT Center of St Louis; and is President and Co-founder of the Metro Trans Umbrella Group. Sayer worked with MTUG and The University of Missouri St. Louis, to help create the first conference on transgender issues in the St Louis Metro region. He has a screenplay called “Intentional” in pre-production. Sayer has also helped to bring the stories of trans people to NPR’s acclaimed “StoryCorps.” He spends as much of his time as he can with his family and working to help create power for transgender people in St. Louis and the metro east regions.
Without Sayer’s friendship, encouragement, and patient guidance; their would be no TransGeek Movie. He has guided every step of production; schmoozing with potential participants; and gently guiding my understanding of the cost and rewards of living an authentic life. Sayer is a fierce and loving advocate in all he does. This film is only a small part of his amazing work. I am very lucky to count him as a friend and creative partner.
Congratulations Sayer on a well deserved honor. You are awesome and we love you!
From the nightly news, (does anyone watch that anymore?) to mocumentaries, directors have found it necessary to identify the person speaking on camera. The typical device that is used to do this is the “lower third”. So named for it position, (occupying the lower third of the frame, below the image of the speaker).
For TransGeek Movie, I wanted to design a lower third that was visually interesting, distinctive, and easy to reproduce It should not, however, disrupt the viewer’s experience of the voice of the person on camera.
I have not settled on a final design yet, but I think I will be using an animated lower third that emulates an old school, 17 segment, alphanumeric display. This is easy to read, and adds a bit of geeky eye-candy.
There will be many lower thirds throughout the film. Composing and animating each would be far too much work to do manually; and prone to error. Automation is a lovely thing.
I designed a template in Inkscape, an open source vector editing package. I then wrote a bash script that modifies the template with the appropriate text. It outputs the individual customized frames, using Inkscape’s command line interface; and then strings it all together into the final animation using avconv. ImageMagick is used for creating the key channel.
I am currently using Kdenlive as my editor and compositor.
The result is satisfactory. At least until I get a real graphic artist and editor on board.
It doesn’t hurt that my test clip features Mattie Brice sharing some wise insights.
Edited 16 Dec. 2014 for clarity.
While we work on our trailer, we thought we would show a few of our interviews in more depth.
Here we are a few selections from our interviews with Anna Anthropy, Alicia E. Goranson, Mattie Brice, Cheryl Morgan, and Tab Kimpton. The footage is uncorrected, and the edit is rough, but the interviews speak for themselves.
This is the clip reel we showed at GaymerX2.
I‘m getting ready for GaymerX2 and the Kickstarter. That means editing; a lot of editing.
CC BY-SA 2.0 by lu arembepe
Editing is hard. Yes, the mechanics of editing are hard; but much harder than the technical aspects, are the decisions about what will not make the cut. Reviewing so many interviews for material for the finished film, and more urgently, the trailer; I am struck by how many powerful, eloquent, and important words are not going to get into the final documentary. I have an embarrassment of riches. So many people have been so generous with their time, and thoughts. Every decision I make hurts.
Alicia Goranson quipped at the end of our interview, that she would be happy to see 30 seconds of our one hour interview on screen. I think she will get more screen time than that in the trailer; but her comment does give a sense of the enormity of the task.
My goal is to launch the Kickstarter campaign very close to GaymerX2. The vaugeries of moving halfway across the country, the day job, and Kickstarter’s approval process may have negative influences on those plans; but I want to start sharing some of the awesome footage we have recorded.
See you at GaymerX!
The weekend of March 28th-30th, Sayer and I drove to Chicago to film at Trans*H4CK.
The hackathon, which took place at Dev BootCamp, is: “A hackathon and speaker series that radically shifts the ways trans people live by creating technology that economically empowers, improves access to social services, promotes gender safety and community sustainability, while bringing visibility to trans led startups.” The winning team of developers, RAD, got to present their project at the Trans100 that Sunday night. Continue reading
I only have a few more interviews to sync. The new render rig running Pluraleyes is a great time saver. This is a screenshot of my Linux box with an RDP session connecting to the Windows box.
Up to this point, all of the post-production of Trans*Geek Movie has taken place on my venerable ThinkPad T61P, running Ubuntu Studio 12.04 LTS. This continues to be my main machine, but I find myself in need of some more horsepower and flexibility, to pick up the pace of production.
There are two issues I keep bumping up against with the laptop machine: First, render time for video is painfully long. Secondly, the few tools that I must run in a Windows environment are not very happy in the VirtualBox installation of Windows 7 that I run.
For this reason I have repurposed a retired 8 core 2.0 GHz Xeon server mainboard as my new post-production box. It takes up residence in a repurposed SparkServer chassis. (I know, this is IT sacrilege.) I have configured it as a dual boot machine; Windows 7 and Studio Ubuntu 13.10. At this point, it has no sound card, and plain vanilla VGA, but the reasonable power of the CPUs means that PluralEyes runs smoothly, and I can offload rendering from Kdenlive while continuing to edit.
I will be adding an HDMI capture board, reasonable GPU, and sound support in future; but this is a good start.
Last year was not the most auspicious year for me. I will not bore you with all the details of my life, this is not the forum for that. Suffice it to say, what was supposed to be a minor, routine surgery, turned into a major health challenge, (thankfully behind me); and a contract for the “day job” ballooned from a three month commitment, to a year-long slog.
Fortunately, the production of TransGeek Movie has not been as neglected as the blog.
I was able to fit a few individual interviews into the family travel schedule, and undertook a major interview trip.
I interviewed Danielle Krassner early in 2013. She spoke about how she became interested in electronic engineering, hardware hacking, and the opportunities for building community online. She also spoke compellingly about the challenges of transitioning in the work place. Continue reading