Saturday, January 31, 2009

My 50th Birthday-- **** January 30th, 2009

What a nice day! Turned 50 years old. The morning started with a pancake breakfast then off to school next door, where i had my scheduled Friday visit to Mrs. Reid's (and Jack's) Second grade class. We are gearing up for a Shakespeare reading exercise, starting next week. We have been working with words and random associations, and today each child went home with a Kennedy 50 cent coin, as a momento and of course a random association story!

After watching a nice race from Santa Anita online, i licked my wounds with a pub lunch at
Ye Olde King's Head in downtown Santa Monica where my friend, and fellow actor, Raul Dourado (a Irish Spaniard) tends bar. I gave him one of the Kennedy half-dollars. The gals next door at the Store gave me a UK/US lapel pin for my birthday, thanks very much, then i rolled home for a coffee. After loading the family in the van, we headed south to Playa Vista for a 4:30 set visit and final prep for Tintin.

What an interesting, cool, stage. It's a big room, the size of a small high school gymnasium. On the floor is the set: actors, props, cameras. Courtside is the village-- and about 20 cameras all synched to the director's (Steven S.) handheld console. I don't understand how but, seemingly, all the angles are routed, in real time, to a single control and what appears on the monitor is an animated (enhanced) version of what the cameras see. For example, a cage holding black-suited actors Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis and Cary Elwes becomes a biplane with full suited characters.

My camera helmet was fitted, and my facemask marked with the motion capture dots which the camera recognizes and adjusts from--it's really the most marvellous technology, with all the digital information rendered as it goes by a bank of computer "engineers" sitting, looking thru the plexiglass to the set. At first glance, the places look is part sports competition and part bond trading floor. They wrapped around 5:30 with Steven saying "why don't we stop here." He drew the Friday night raffle prize of almost $600 which went to our greeter and minder, Cochet. That was a bit of luck, allright and kind of neat that he was the first guy we met on set. I gave him one of the Kennedy half-dollars. As Steven was leaving, i greeted him, thanked him and introduced Jack and Shelly to him. He was most warm and welcoming. Saw a couple of friends, Andrew the Stills Photographer (who commented that "this was a really big thing to be a part of" which was nice, and Larissa the sparky. An added treat was meeting Peter Jackson, Steven's partner on the project, who was flying back to New Zealand .

We were there until almost 7pm, when we joined our friends Elisa and Alec Rose for dinner at Casablanca. What a great family, friends and movie day. Thank you. Punch

NY Post: Page Six

January 30, 2009 THAT Andrew Giuliani and other golf pros will play miniature golf against amateurs tonight on 27 holes set up at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in White Plains to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Societies . . . THAT Alex Hyde-White - who worked with Steven Spielberg in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (1989) and "Catch Me If You Can" (2003) - will appear in Spielberg's "Tintin," filming in LA . . . THAT Armani Exchange ordered a quarter-million condoms to use in window displays nationwide for its "Get Your Heart On" Valentine's Day campaign.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tintin: Molding

Jan 27, 2009: Had a silicone mold cast today for the helmet, which acts as a camera dolly on the day. Below picture tells the story of the 6 minutes one sits while the gel hardens, creating a mold of the head. This is the work helmet, with the mold acting as a shock absorber. On picture days, a small camera is mounted on the helmet front, capturing the actor's face. The character is then built digitally, as is the background. All information that eventually appears on screen, other than the actor's "motion captured" face, is created digitally. How, or even if, the actors body factors in to the performance remains to be seen, as this is my first encounter with this magnificent technology. For while this manner of film-making even exists is entirely a marvel of science and technical mastery of many brilliant minds, it is the human element: the skillful hands of the 1) helmet farrier and special effects puppeteer -a S.A.G. category- in creating the mold, 2) wardrobe and tailor measuring and altering the black, Spyder like- wet suit; 3) the Trailer of Capture engineer, and finally the range of facial (e)motions captured by the camera that together deliver the information used to tell the story.

The Trailer of Capture (also pictured) is where the 3D facial scan, a procedure similar to that of Lasix Surgery except that you can drive home, renders almost instantly the (my) face, glowingly opaque; a Disneyland Haunted Mansion ghost. Met with my friend Nickolai Stoilov, a fine London-trained Bulgarian actor who appeared in our production of Yeat's The Resurrection last Spring for a coffee and cigar. Had a good actor's day; hope yours was good, too.

Friday, January 23, 2009

"Steven Wants You"

A rainy day at home here, with Mom sick in bed and with little to do except help out at the school next door... After which, while watching the Bob Hope Desert Classic on TV and nodding off, my cellphone rang. My friend of over twenty years, and agent for seven or so, Richard was on the line. "Well, Punch" he said, "Steven wants you for a role in Tin Tin." Happy news for this actor, as it will be my third time with the master of American film. In a career spanning just over thirty years (thirty-one in May) i found myself immediately celebratory by saying, "So my agent is calling me to offer me a role in a Spielberg's next film." "Yes i am," he said.

Back on Line: Musings for the New Year and Time

All sorts of things:

My personal website has down for over a month due to a few letters on a server address, for one. Glad that it is not further evidence of our infrastructure needing critical care, just an example of having too many web-chefs. Am with a very inexpensive yet attentive group for webhosting and server, Oklop. I recommend them highly. For any re-design work and larger corporate needs try old friend Ruth's outfit at McCartney Marketing, in Playa Del Rey.

Cashed in our lone Christmas present of 3 Phantom tickets and spent a beautiful afternoon at the Pantages Theatre yesterday (Jan. 22) for the first matinee of the six-week run. Must see for fans of the show, which i first saw in NYC mid-80's. Spent a couple of months in 1999 shooting a horror version in Budapest.....

Have enjoyed seeing many of our friends and much of the photographed Nation celebrate the assumption to power of the new Obama administration. Was chagrined in the moment of handoff when the oath fumble occurred and, as a showman, lamented that perhaps they hadn't bothered to rehearse that part—which really is the only necessary business of the day. In the end though, seeing and hearing such re-affirmation of faith in our American Spirit is heartening and long-overdue. With the majority of sentiment gathered in this direction I hope for three things: 1) No terrorist attacks on our soil, 2) Credit relief for individuals, 3) Clear-thinking when it comes to such terribly important matters as State Government such private-sector health services as the Motion Picture Country House, which is threatening closing it's most needed long-term critical care wing and displacing over 100 patients and almost 300 employees. My Dad, Wilfrid, spent his last few years there before dying in relative peace in 1991 and I remain grateful to so many of the nurses who enjoyed his wit and great character. Even then, there was an emphasis on "ability-to-pay" that may have felt at odds with their we take care of our own motto. If there can be a way to close the $10 Million annual gap and keep this service to our aged industry veteran, it would be a wonderful step in the new age of Can do, Must do.

Some good news on the creative front: am creating the role of Thomas Jefferson in Franklin and Jefferson written by James Gabler, of Palm Beach and Vic Bardack, of Beverly Hills. We started Spring 2008 with a one-night read in NYC, at the Coffee House in mid-town and have now committed to Feb./Mar./Apr. dates at Greystone Manor just off Doheny and Sunset. It's a new play about two fact-based meetings between the irascible Franklin and the complicated Jefferson, with plenty of wine, innuendo and free-thinking. As any new play, it's forming each time it's is played but, it does have the feel of something that can travel long and well and I am certainly enjoying being in on the founding of it. For a Georgetown boy (who left at age 17) with intimate knowledge of Harper's Ferry's "Jefferson Rock" it's feels like a triumph.

With best wishes for a graceful time I remain sincerely yours, and am turning 50 on Jan. 30.