Render Unto D-Cinema


So I haven’t raised enough money to make a 35mm film print (yet). But I did raise enough to make a Digital Cinema Package, because the Stuttgart International Animation Festival offered a deal. And I borrowed enough to buy a new computer to re-render the entire 82-minute feature at a suitable higher resolution.

See, when I started Sita Sings the Blues, I couldn’t afford the processor power or disk space to work at the ideal resolution: 1920 x 1080 pixels. Instead I compromised at 1280 x 720 pixels, which in spite of being half the ideal resolution looks almost as good. The 35mm film test I did of Battle of Lanka looks great, anyway. But film has a natural grain, plus film floats around the screen a little, a result of analog frame registration (aka sprockets), both of which mask and “warm up” digital flaws. D-Cinema, however, has rock-solid registration and no grain, making it potentially less forgiving than film. Meanwhile computers and hard drives have gotten predictably cheaper since I began the project, and December is a “lost month” in New York anyway, it’s not like I’d have any freelance gigs or make any headway on promotions, and everyone gets lazy at work or leaves town, so… here I am, watching little blue progress bars for hours and days on end. Boring? You bet! But it will make the movie look infinitesimally better, so it’s all worth it. Also, D-Cinema supports 6-channel audio, so my sound designer is planning a super-duper surround-sound experience, which will make the picture look a lot better.


Eats For Endorsement – San Francisco Edition

An ongoing feature in which I recommend the work and websites of people who buy me dinner. Today’s entry: Amandeep Jawa!

Amandeep Jawa says he’s “gregarious,” which I learned, in the few hours I got to know him, is an understatement. As we walked through Deepistan – a neighborhood comprising both Dosa, where he bought me dinner, and Bi-Rite Creamery, where I could only sample tastes lest I explode – random passersby paid their respects to their unofficial mayor. Or is that Supreme Dictator? Rumor has it part of the region may split off and re-name itself Amandesh. You can keep abreast of Deep’s political activities here, and his gregariating (new word! no google results! I win!) at his blog Deep is also the official Bay Area Director of Fundraising for Sita Sings the Blues, so if you want to give me a pile of money but need to preview the movie first, contact him.

Would YOU like to be featured in Eats for Endorsement? Then buy me dinner. My email address is at the bottom of the middle column, the one with the pictures linking to my movies and cartoons and stuff.


Next stop: San Francisco


Whooee, last night’s “friends and family” sneak preview in NY was good times. Such a sweet, kind, supportive audience! But then what kind of friends and family wouldn’t be?

Now it’s time for me to pimp the next “Sita” event to all my “friends and family” in CA:

Saturday, December 1, 8:00 pm
Oddball Film
275 Capp Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
$10 donation
RSVP 415.558.8117 or email info at

They’ll add a second screening at 10 if 8pm fills up, so rsvp if you want to guarantee a seat at 8. Oh, and I love you all!



UPDATE 2: So many people have RSVP’ed we’re adding a second show at 9pm. 7pm is full. If you show up at 7 and your name’s not on the list, you can still see the preview at 9. Or there may be some no-shows you can replace.

UPDATE: if you want to attend the New York screening, please RSVP with “Sita NY” in the subject, to:nospam.jpg
Space is limited, and priority will be given to those with names on the list. This is just a sneak preview; the bigger and better genuine premiere will happen in 2008.


New York:

Saturday, November 17, 7:00 pm and 9:00pm
NYU Tisch School of the Arts, room 006 (lower level)
721 Broadway, between Waverly Place and Washington Place
New York City

We’ll screen the whole 82-minute feature on DVD, then the 3-minute 35mm film test of “Battle of Lanka,” so you can see just how gorgeous it looks on film.

San Francisco:

Saturday, December 1, 8:00 pm
Oddball Film
275 Capp Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
$10 donation
RSVP 415.558.8117 or email info at

See the whole 82-minute feature on DVD. We’ll have samosas, T-shirts, and GOOD TIMES.

Both screenings are excellent opportunities for those of you who wish to contribute to the making of the 35mm film print to see what you may be supporting. And hopefully I’ll have fiscal sponsorship by then, meaning any donations (as opposed to loans) will be tax-deductible! Of course I’ll be there, answering questions, hawking art prints and begging for money. FUN!



Why Film?

Ms. Laaw-yuhr asks a good question: why go through the trouble and expense of putting Sita Sings the Blues on 35mm film?

1. The most prestigious and important film festivals still show only film, not video. The next deadline for the first of these is Berlin, November 1st. If Sita is accepted, she’ll have to be on film by the end of January.

There’s been a huge proliferation of film festivals in recent years, and many do screen video and DVD. But the “big five” (Berlin, Cannes, Venice, Toronto and Sundance) retain a strong preference – if not outright requirement – for film.

2. Professional distributors prefer film, and I hope to attract a distributor.

3. The digital projectors in mainstream theaters use a proprietary codec, as deigned by the Motion Picture Association. Obtaining the license for that codec is expensive.

4. Art houses, the likeliest theatrical destination for “Sita,” seldom have the fancy new digital systems anyway, relying instead on inferior tape and DVD projectors, or good ol’ gorgeous film.

5. Film looks great. And I have designed the entire production with film in mind as the final destination. Everything is 24 frames per second, at a film-worthy resolution.

6. Film is a universal platform that works around the world. Video standards differ from region to region, and digital projection technologies are ephemeral. Since “Sita” is likely to be seen overseas in a variety of countries, including many places that can’t afford the latest digital systems, film is the best vehicle for her.

7. Add your own reason in the comments.