Category Archives: FAIL

Star Trek Discovery Pilot = FAIL

star-trek-discoveryI caught the Star Trek Discovery pilot on CBS this past weekend.  …And I do mean caught because CBS allowed a highly anticipated series premiere of the biggest entertainment franchise in the world to be delayed by this week’s sports event.  Fortunately I anticipated their priorities and set my DVR to record the show after Discovery as well, and was able to see the second half of the show.

So here’s what a life long Star Trek fan and filmmaker thought of the Star Trek Discovery pilot.  (Obviously this is all a spoiler if you haven’t seen the show.)

It’s a Prequel

This is going to be the main problem with the show.  It has to fit in to a narrow slot a few years before The Original Series and that’s going to limit the stories that they can tell.  It will ultimately be their undoing as they make more and more episodes.  The continuity police are already having a field day.  The badges aren’t right.  The Klingons have a cloaking device before Kirk stole it from the Romulans.  Bla, bla, bla…  I’m not going to talk about any of that.  It’s a fatal flaw baked into the premise.  I’m only concerned with the characters and story of the pilot.  How well have they set up this new adventure?  Is it interesting?  How dramatic is it?

The Story

The story is slow, especially for something that seems like it’s trying to be a battle show.  What’s up with the first scene on the desert planet walking and talking with tons of exposition?  That’s how you start the pilot?  How about “Show Don’t Tell,” a basic rule of screenwriting?

Oh yea, and next time Star Fleet has to fix a water well, beam down right next to it so you don’t have to outrun a storm on foot.  Also, teach your first officers how to make a signal if you want to be rescued.  Who wrote this show?

In spite of the slow plot there still was very little character development on anyone other than the first officer and a little for the science officer.  That’s it.  The Captain is an enigma.  She’s an experienced officer who is not afraid walking in the desert, then she doesn’t want to explore the asteroid field.  No reason given for either.  Who the heck are these people on this ship?  What is their mission?  What is the show about?

The Klingons

OK.  So the Klingons look like the Drazi now.  I don’t care.  I care about the story and the characters.  There’s a lot of ceremony, posturing, and yelling – which is expected from Klingons – but what is going on?  One has a black face and one has a white face.  OK.  Who are these characters?  What do they care about?  We never really find out.  They’re just mysterious, angry, generic bad guys.  More chance for character development that was missed.

And who put the sub-titles in all caps?  Any graphic designer will tell you that all caps makes text much harder to read.  Subtitles should always be in sentence case because you have to read it fast.  Every filmmaker knows that.

Production design

Serviceable but meh.  The ship looks like every SciFi space ship we’ve seen in every modern video game we’ve ever played.  The same generic SciFi architecture, costumes, space suits, control panels, that we’ve seen a million times before.  The Original Series, The Motion Picture, The Wrath of Kahn, The Next Generation, and Enterprise, all went in bold new directions in regards to the production design.  The concepts were different form previous Star Trek and different form other SciFi design at the time.  Discovery looks like generic SciFi circa 2017.


Lots of eye candy, movement, flares etc. but is it really serving the drama?  I found it hard to focus on the people on the bridge.  We need to see their faces.  That’s where the drama is, not whipping around the back of their heads with the camera.  And what’s with the “Batman” tilt-o-vision every once in awhile?  Personally I LOVE tilt-o-vision, but it’s just thrown in for no reason in very brief shots.  It’s there and then it’s gone.  More eye candy for eye candy sake.  The bottom line is the cinematography is pretty but it ends up obscuring the very thin story even more.


The intro music is nice.  Much better than that “modern” abomination from Enterprise.

The music in the body of the show is plain and unassuming, which is what Star Trek music has been for some time.  I would like to see the show dive back into the exciting adventure themes like in the Original Series but given the bland state of modern film music these days, I think that is unlikely.

Dialog Recording

Normally I wouldn’t even comment on this but the dialog recording seemed distant and echoey in some of the scenes on the ship.  That’s OK for a fan film but not for a professional production.  Intimate scenes recorded on a sound stage, especially on the standing sets, should be perfect.  The dialog should be immediate and present to powerfully deliver the actor’s performance.  I think the set walls are the problem, though I think Star Trek has been in production for long enough that they should know how to build the sets for sound.

The Ending

It seems like the pilot episode was constructed to simply be a prelude to the second episode where the real story begins.  It’s a contrived cliff hanger to convince everyone to purchase CBS All Access.  The problem is a cliff hanger doesn’t work if you don’t care about the characters.  There’s a lot of heavy lifting that needs to be done story wise and the Star Trek Discovery pilot doesn’t do any of the work.  We’re left not really knowing the characters and not knowing at all what the show is about.  Yea, there might be a battle in the second episode, but who cares?  I don’t.

Goodbye Cruel World

Goodbye Cruel WorldThis image was created by mistake.  Occasionally while you are working in DAZ Studio the materials and shaders get screwed up, disappear, turn solid white, etc. and have to be reset.  This happened while I was creating I Spit My Last Breath At Thee.  I was trying out a wet body geometry shell attempting to make it look like sweat and as I was adjusting it the guy’s skin material disappeared.  The water droplets created a ghostly transparent shell and you could see the inner mechanisms of the mouth and eyes.  Creepy!  So I set up a camera close on the face and rendered it out at high quality.  A happy accident.

Created in DAZ Studio 4.8
Rendered with 3Delight
Color Correction in Lightroom

Figures used:
Gianni 6
Wet Body Geometry Shells
Kaylum Hair

Is Robert Scoble my friend? Facebook says NO!

Robert Scoble is a blogger and technical evangelist who also does something I know a bit about, web video.  My wife CAT and I met Robert in person at a podcasting conference called New Media Expo in 2008.  We were all speakers at that conference.

Earlier this year my wife, who is VP of Enterprise Architecture at a large well known company in NYC, had some dealings with Rackspace which is where Robert works.  Because we met at New Media Expo she was able to e-mail him and smooth out some business problems.  It’s crazy but that’s how this new social media thing works.  Because we do a knitting show, Rackspace got some potential business.  The connections are not always obvious.

I point out all the above so you can know exactly where I was coming from when I clicked “Add as friend” on Robert Scoble’s Facebook profile.  After I clicked I got this:

OK, I’ve met Robert personally so this is some kind of mistake.  I go to the help center to resolve the problem.  I get this:

Huh?  This doesn’t sound like a way to resolve the problem.  It actually sounds like a reprimand.  Let’s take this a step at a time.  I’m going to be very detailed about my personal Facebook account statistics to give the discussion the proper context, so please bear with me.  Facebook says:

Facebook is a place for connecting with friends, family and other people you know personally.

Is that what Facebook is for?  I’m not sure how fan pages, online games, corporate products, and companies, etc. fit into that limited definition but, OK… Let’s accept that narrow frame for the sake of discussing what follows.  I’m sure that’s the entire purpose of this introductory sentence.

If you’ve been prevented from adding friends on Facebook, it’s likely because many friend requests you’ve sent recently have gone unanswered.

I have a few friend requests (12 out of 173 total) that have gone unanswered but none of them have been even close to recent.  I actually forgot about most of them until I looked just now.  It’s also less than seven percent of the total, not even close to spammer territory so I doubt that’s the problem.

This may be because you’ve sent friend requests to strangers,

I haven’t but OK… Let’s figure this out specifically.  I just checked.  The last person I friended on Facebook was my roommate from collage.  This was maybe a week and ½ ago.  He accepted almost instantly.  I guess he remembered me.  Before that?  I don’t know.  It was probably two or three weeks ago.  I’m extremely conservative about who I friend on Facebook compared to other social networks.  If I had to guess I maybe click on “Add as friend” two or three times a month.  Out of my current 161 friends, I’ve met every single one personally except for nine.  Basically I don’t friend anyone unless we’ve met in person at least once.  The exceptions are, if we are likely to meet for some reason in the near future, or if we’ve known each other online for a very long time (like years.)

This brings up a deeper question though:

How does Facebook know if I know someone?

Does Facebook assume that if one of my friend requests goes unanswered for a period of time that I don’t know that person?  That’s a pretty big assumption on their part.  (Note to self:  I’ll have to remember to call my father-in-law on the phone and demand he respond to my Facebook friend request I sent three months ago.)

Also, does Facebook assume I don’t know somebody if they deny my friend request?  I don’t know how many friend requests I’ve had denied but it can’t be that many.  Different people use Facebook different ways, some restrict it only to family, or only friends from collage… Some accept everyone who clicks on their profile.  Certainly they understand this at Facebook, right?  A denied friend request simply means that you don’t fit the other person’s filter.  (Or maybe they just don’t remember you.  High School was a looooong time ago.)

Does Facebook think I’m a spammer?

I’m extremely conservative about who I friend, certainly when compared to many of my friends who are podcasters, web video creators, or otherwise on the vanguard of the social media scene.  They have thousands of “friends.”  I have 161 and make maybe two or three friend requests a month.  Spammer?  Not even in the same universe.

OK, let’s get back to Facebook’s message to me.  This is where it starts to get darker:

…or it may be due to other behavior that Facebook members have reported as unwelcome.

What the heck does that mean?  OK… I’m sure the last person I friended (my collage roommate) didn’t badmouthed me to “The Friend Police.”  But now I’m thinking.  Who of my friends would go behind my back and complain?  I look over the list.  Well there’s this one guy – I had a fight with him once in collage.  Oh, and then there’s this girl – She used to kick me in grade school.  Maybe one of them complained?

Shame on you Facebook.  This bit is downright evil.  “Other unwelcome behavior” should really be dealt with specifically and not as vague innuendo implicating my friends.

I want to know what the issue is!

If Facebook is going to scold it’s users for bad behavior, it doesn’t make any sense to make the issue vague.  Why treat regular users like spammers and then give them no way to resolve whatever the problem is?  It just doesn’t make any sense.

You’ll be allowed to add friends again soon.

Soon?  How soon is soon.  An hour?  A day?  A month?  When can I have new friends?

At that time, please remember to only send friend requests to people who you already know personally.

OK, now you’re starting to sound mean and arrogant, but you’re a big faceless corporation so I’ll try to ignore it.

Otherwise, additional limits may be placed on your account.

Wait a minute…  Did Facebook just threaten to cut me off from my friends online?  Based on what?  Because their pathetic algorithm says I’m a spammer?  And I have no recourse?  Are these people MY friends?  Or are they Facebook’s friends?

Is Facebook becoming too powerful?

Some time ago internet entrepreneur and blogger Jason Calicanis closed his facebook account in protest.   He did it live on episode #53 of his show This Week In Startups.  (Discussion of deleting Facebook starts at the beginning of the show, the actual process starts at about 13:45)

You can read about his reasons for doing this in his blog.

In the video at about 33:48, just as he finishes deleting his account Jason says something very telling.  He says, “How you write these dialog screens is how you get judged in this industry.”

I agree.  Which is why I went into great detail above.

Around the same time technology broadcaster, author, and entrepreneur Leo Laporte also left Facebook behind.

Recently however, Leo came back to Facebook mainly because he needed a Facebook account for his work.  He reviews software and sometimes needs a Facebook account to use that software.  (I looked for a reference link where Leo stated his reason, but couldn’t find one.  I think I heard him say it on TWiT Live in between one of the show tapings.)  Leo’s dilemma only illustrates the problem.  Facebook is a giant now.  I know many people (including myself) who can’t leave Facebook mainly because that’s where all the people are, especially non-tech people.  Getting all your friends to move over to another service would be impossible and Facebook knows it.  In the future I’m sure things will be more open but right now they aren’t.


Is Robert Scoble my “friend?”

I don’t know.  I guess that’s up to Robert.  Like everyone, I’m sure he has his own filter for who he friends and who he doesn’t.  If we both agree then we will be “Facebook friends.”

…and that’s the way it should be because:

Facebook should not be able to decide who can be friends!

What do you think?  Have you had trouble friending people on Facebook?  Are you dependent on your Facebook friend connections?  Leave a comment.

the emperor has no clothes

As someone who has been working very hard for four years to try and bring credibility to web video, I’m extremely disappointed in what I saw on the Streamy Awards Sunday night.

The Streamy Awards which is run by the newly formed International Academy of Web Television (IAWTV) touts itself as the “…most prestigious awards ceremony devoted to honoring excellence in original web television programming and those who create it.”  That’s what it says on their website and that’s what everyone was expecting during the months of publicity that led up to the award show streamed live on the internet on April 11.  What we actually saw during the award presentation itself however was a different matter.

The tone of the entire ceremony was crude, vulgar, superficial, and unprofessional.  There were multiple masturbation jokes in the host’s monologue, a scripted bit with an actor playing a vulgar porn producer that goes on and on and on, presenters in nothing but underwear, not to mention unplanned events like two male streakers and people rushing the stage to molest the presenters.

@streamyawards This is insulting & not funny. Gay jokes & dick jokes are not funny when Vanity Fair called you the Oscars of the internet.

@Destini41 Destini

Sorry to any of our fans who watched and were offended by the raunchiness at the Streamys.The tone of humor was not honoring the evening IMO

@feliciaday Felicia Day

There was a point in the show that I was like “Is this really happening?” I can’t even imagine how the brands and sponsors felt being a big part of the event. This is one of the biggest hurdles in online video is getting brands to trust the content they are advertising against. Now, they can’t even trust a show ABOUT online video!


Worse, the bulk of the prepared jokes played off the stereotype of Elitist Hollywood v. Web Show Wanabe.  From the host’s introductory monologue:

Tonight we have 35 awards to give out but let’s not forget the real winners, the 4 people who actually made money on the internet.

One or two of these types of jokes would be OK but it really seemed like this was the theme of the evening.  You can’t make money on the internet (not true, we do, and so do others) and nobody watches shows on the web (also not true.  We’ve had a thriving and growing community watching our show for years.)

About a third of the way through there was a pre-recorded “man on the street” video that I found particularly insulting. The host repeatedly asked random people on the street what their favorite web show was.  Of course no one they asked even knew such a thing existed, leaving the impression that the industry is a complete joke.  This meme went on and on through the evening…

My biggest personal issue with the show was that it disrespected the professional industry that I (and many others) have been working so hard to build over the past 5 years. The constant jokes about lack of funding in web series, lack of viewers, etc. cheapened our hard work, especially when a lot of the attendees ARE making money and have more viewers (and less publicists) than cable television shows.

Casey McKinnon

All of the technical problems were one thing but it seemed like the jokes were picking on the internet – not CELEBRATING what we do.

@buckhollywood Michael Buckley

The @streamyawards were a complete joke. I felt so bad for the people who make their living from the internet, to be ridiculed all evening.

@ConwayJamie Jamie Conway

To be fair, there were a few very positive moments, mostly by the award recipients themselves, like the Auto-Tune the News gang who sang their acceptance speech in four part harmony.  Amazing.  Or Felicia Day who, in spite of having to take the stage only moments after what happened in the picture above, managed to deliver an extremely uplifting, generous, and authentic acceptance speech.  Very classy.

The Streamy’s could have been about the pioneering spirit of the creators, the excitement of doing something different, the possibilities of the future, but no.  Instead it was about snarky, crude, superficial, mean spirited jokes.  They spent the evening making fun of what I’ve been successfully doing for the last four years of my life.  In short the newly minted IAWTV has brought the absolute worst of stereotypical Hollywood snobbery to my industry and frankly I resent it.

Telling a thousand people that their jobs, content, livelihoods, and dreams are a joke, and that the only way they’ll amount to anything is to beg their “betters” (read: “celebrities,” but the unstated implication was made very clear) to slum it in their crappy webseries…well, that’s not gonna go over well. Repeatedly joking that it’s subpar quality, or that there’s no money, future, or reason to get involved only hurts us all.

Barrett Garese

I can’t fathom what the producers of the show were thinking during the months preparing for this broadcast.  How could they get it so wrong, insult their own membership, and frankly tarnish their own brand on purpose like this.  The producers have posted an apology and have promised to do better next year.  Fine… I don’t think simply trying harder is going to resolve the issue though.   The problem goes to the basic core values of the IAWTV.  What kind of organization do they want to be?  Do they represent all types of web video?  …or only those that try to mimic broadcast television?  Do they truly support all web video creators?  …or are they only interested in getting the attention of a few large studios?  Are they going to be inclusive and truly international as their name suggests?  …or only cater to the worst superficial stereotype of LA based “Hollywood.”  Time will tell…