Archive for the ‘ Personal ’ Category

The South Florida Trilogy

Skye Falling

What is the South Florida trilogy, you ask? Glad you did! Back in film school in 1997, I was developing 3 films at once, first 9:04 AM, whose story was first developed in 1995, but I wrote the script in May 1997, then later I wrote, directed and starred in the short film Conversations…, then by the fall of 1997, I started working on the script for Skye Falling.

I once called it the Lost and Found trilogy (don’t ask), but now I dub it the South Florida trilogy. It’s basically the three films, interconnected by themes and stages of relationship loss (Skye Falling), recovery from a relationship (Conversations…) and finding new love (9:04 AM). None of the characters are in the other films, but thematically, the films are tied together.

9:04 AM

As the 10th anniversary of Skye Falling approaches on July 30, 2011, I thought it would be appropriate to show the trilogy, something I’d planned since around late 1997. I’ve even been listening to the Skye Falling soundtrack, by my long-time film partner Grant Balfour, who helped shoot and score Conversations…, co-wrote, scored and co-produced Skye Falling and co-wrote and contributed songs to 9:04 AM.

Part 1, Skye Falling. You’ll need to rent it from Amazon VOD, but it’s only $2.99, and you’ll be supporting an indie filmmaker!

Part 2, Conversations… This one is on YouTube:

Part 3, 9:04 AM. This is on ExposureRoom:

Apple Previews Final Cut Pro X

Final Cut Pro X

A semi-late update in early May 2011 (I forgot to add this in earlier), but here’s some video of the event:

I was up late last night following a couple of Twitter feeds last night to see what Apple was going to do at the 2011 NAB SuperMeet in Las Vegas. As we found out to be the truth, Apple bumped Canon, Avid and indie directing hero Kevin Smith from speaking, so they could preview Final Cut Pro X!

I’ve been a video editor since 1995, when I learned how to cut via 16mm film and tape-to-tape (essentially two tape decks with a control, a.k.a., linear editing), then I went non-linear in 1999, first with Adobe Premiere 5.1, then Apple Final Cut Pro 1.0. I never looked back, and even though I’ve used Premiere Pro, Avid XPress and Media Composer and even Sony Vegas Pro, I will stick with Final Cut Pro. 12 years and counting! I’ve cut a few feature films, numerous short films, commercials, music videos, corporate videos, etc.

Anyway, Apple has usually just evolved FCP; in 2003, I believe, they introduced FCP 4, which changed the user interface (UI) a bit, but more or less stayed the same. Most NLEs (non-linear editors) tend to do this, usually adding things “under the hood” and new features. Well, Final Cut Pro X is completely re-written, and I’m happy with it, but I’m also a little nervous… as an editor, I’ve become very accustomed to how FCP works, so a new UI can be intimidating. But, it’s time for a revolution.

However, some very welcome features, like background rendering and editing while still ingesting footage, was something Sony Vegas Pro has been doing for years. I remember seeing my colleague Douglas Spotted Eagle demoing just that during our HDV US tour, back in the fall of 2005. But I’m VERY happy Apple is bringing these and other brilliant features (scaling up to 4K? Yes please!) to Final Cut Pro X!

Here is a good write-up of the new features, and Larry Jordan, FCP expert and trainer, weighs in and provides some official Apple images, especially since he saw a similar demo back in February 2011. Regardless, it’ll cost $299 and will be available June 2011 from the Mac App Store! Wow! (To be honest, I had a feeling they’d lower the price point.)

Apparently this is just a “taste,” so I’m sure we’ll learn about the other Final Cut Studio apps, such as Motion, Soundtrack Pro, etc. I think elements of the apps are built-in, but Apple will probably release them, a la carte, in June. Hopefully very affordable, too, so us editors can really justify upgrading.

Stay tuned!

Radiohead’s The King Of Limbs

What a week it’s been for big-time Radiohead fans like me. They announced on Valentine’s Day a new album set for release on Saturday February 19, 2011! Holy crap! What’s funny is I didn’t learn about it until I was just doing my “check for RH news every now and then” visit to Green Plastic Radiohead and Radiohead At Ease, two awesome fansites, and that was on Wednesday!

Then, as it turned out, you could get the album a day early on February 18, and since I’d pre-ordered the .WAV file and the “Newspaper Album,” I was all set.

The King of Limbs is more in the vein of Kid A and some Amnesiac, with a little bit of Thom Yorke’s solo album The Eraser, Hail To The Thief’s b-sides and In Rainbows sprinkled in. I dig it, even if there are only 8 songs. I wouldn’t be surprised if RH announces another album later this year. Seriously! Codex and Little By Little are my favorites so far; Codex is haunting, like Karma Police, Reckoner, No Surprises, In Limbo and House of Cards.

I can’t wait for this Newspaper Album set to come out (details here). Then there’s Thom Yorke’s crazy, crazy “dance” moves for the music video for Lotus Flower:

Pretty cool, huh? If you’ve seen Mr. Yorke live, you’ve seen him do crazy dances like this before, especially when they play Idioteque live! I think it’s awesome that Thom and Lotus Flower were trending yesterday on Twitter!

Radiohead is my absolute favorite band (with AIR, Soundgarden, Gnarls Barkley, Rush, Tom Petty following close behind, and Pantera, too), and In Rainbows was just an amazing album to me. Came out at just the right time, as did OK Computer and The Bends, for me on a personal level. If that makes sense. Kid A, too! And once again, Radiohead puts out a new album and it’s just great.

ps-Check out this article (and photo) about the real King of Limbs in England.

Busy

So I’ve been pretty busy these past few weeks, sorry for a lack of updates. I haven’t had much time to re-write Ambush, but that’s coming up. I’m also focusing on the DVD releases of December (which I co-produced) and 9:04 AM (co-wrote/produced/directed), so that’s taking up a lot of my time.

I’ve been pretty busy with TopTenREVIEWS, which is a great, great job! I also do video/social networking duties for Tattoo Blues, so with all of that, not a lot of time. And, in my free time, I’ve been watching the Miami Heat and playing some basketball or jogging.

Whew, that is a lot going on. Anyway, more updates soon. I’m also hoping to take a look at re-doing my MPS Digital Studios website, so any WordPress theme ideas, comment away!

I Bought A Used Nissan Rogue That Was Once A Rental Vehicle

My new (used) 2009 Nissan Rogue!

Happy New Year! 2011 is shaping up to be another great, productive year. I thought I’d start off by talking about how I bought a used Nissan Rogue back in December 2010, right before Christmas. As you may recall, I wrote about buying a 2007 Mitsubishi Raider that was once an Enterprise rental vehicle, back in May 2010. I didn’t know 100% it was a rental vehicle, but I had my suspicions, since it was used and I’d rented a couple of Raiders through Enterprise.

So why did I buy another rental vehicle? First and foremost, I didn’t know for sure it was a rental vehicle until I checked the CARFAX on the used car dealer’s website. Would I have bought it if it wasn’t once a rental car? Probably, but believe it or not, rental car companies really take care of their vehicles, and I trust them. That’s why I decided to purchase another one. Heck, my friend Wojo’s article on buying a rental convinced me it wasn’t a bad idea to do it again, and this time, I knew it was once a rental car, and I was happy to do so.

Anyway, I wanted to get out of the Raider due to the horrible city gas mileage, which was around 10-12 miles per gallon (MPG). I work from home, and I mostly drive around town, and rarely on the highways. I was spending about $200 a month on gas and barely driving anywhere! As a long-time Nissan guy (I owned a Nissan XTerra for years), I was happy to return to the family. However, the newer XTerras get 16 MPG city, or thereabouts, and I always liked the Murano and Rogue.

I consider the Rogue to be a mini-Murano and I did a ton of research on it, read reviews all over the place (like Consumer Reports) and checked up on Cars.com every day for price changes and new listings of used vehicles (I like buying used because I save money). I double-checked the value of my Raider on Kelley Blue Book, and even checked out possibly using Hertz Rent2Buy, based on Wojo’s positive experience (read his review and make sure you read the other related posts, if you’re interested in trying this used rental car buying model, which is still new and likely buggy), and even Enterprise Car Sales, but ultimately I went back to Autoshow Sales and Service outside Ft. Lauderdale.

They had two models, one black and one white. The black model went fast (it had around 32,000 miles), but the white one didn’t move for a few weeks. I test drove it on Black Friday 2010, and started making some serious moves in December, and right before Christmas, I was able to drive away with it! It’s been great to me so far, and even though white isn’t my favorite color, this is more of a cream/eggshell, so it’s grown on me (and it isn’t that nasty orange color). Down the line, maybe I’ll have it painted a different color.

I also bought an extended warranty, and the local Nissan dealership confirmed I’m good to go on all repairs, from engine to A/C to electronics, and everything in between! I like the security, but Consumer Reports doesn’t always recommend one. Wojo talks about it on his Fiscal Fizzle website.

So, am I happy? Yes! I love the looks and style of the Rogue, I get better gas mileage, I have a REAL backseat and while the cargo area isn’t as big as similar crossover vehicles, it’s perfect for me. Groceries, luggage and lightkits and pro videocamera gear seem to fit just fine, but maybe not all at once. Also, the rear window is slightly narrow, due to the style of the car. I also would eventually like to buy some cool accessories down the road. One last thing… while SUVs are usually built around pickup trucks (for example, the XTerra and Frontier are very similar), the Rogue crossover is built upon the Nissan Sentra. Interesting.

Heath’s 2010 Wrap-Up

As 2010 winds down and 2011 is peaking from around the corner, I thought I’d do my annual year-end wrap-up. I did this every year on the old HeathMcKnight.com, so I thought I’d do it here, too.

January: The beginning of the year was quiet, with a Blue Moon on December 31, 2009. I also tried out Krav Maga and enjoyed it very much. I’m currently (as of December 2010) an orange belt/third level.

February: I had a nice birthday when we went to a cool seafood-style restaurant, right on the water in North Miami. Very busy at my old job as a video producer (and shooter/editor/writer) at Bluwave.

March: Very cool month, especially when I went to see my second favorite band AIR. What a show! At the end of the month, TopTenREVIEWS.com called me up and offered me a job as Senior Writer! And, I get to work from home in South Florida! WOO-HOO!

Me in the snow in Ogden, UT at TechMediaNetwork, April 2010.

April: I winded down my time at Bluwave/Comcast Spotlight and the Comcast gang threw me a little going-away party in west Pembroke Pines. It was great! By that Sunday (mid-April), I flew out to Ogden, Utah and met the crew at TechMediaNetwork and TopTenREVIEWS. I was ready to begin my new career as a full-time senior writer/reviewer, specializing in Apple software/hardware, A/V gear and more. Love this job! Frank Lee at Tattoo Blues started an Iron Man Mark 5 armor on my inner right arm, and it was finished in August.

May:

Me at the midnight screening of Iron Man 2!

An interesting month, to say the least. Iron Man 2 opened, and of course I went to the local Regal Cinema to watch the first film projected digitally (I only saw the first one in theaters once, believe it or not), then the second in IMAX. I loved it. I also got a new (used) truck, a 2007 (gas-guzzling) Mitsubishi Raider pickup truck. My Dad, who had been very ill, surprised everyone with a trip to North Carolina to see my sister, brother-in-law and his Grandkids. My best friend Alex and his wife had their first baby, Sofia, on May 4. Very cute baby!

My Dad, Gordon McKnight, circa mid-1990s.

The saddest three days of my life started on May 14th when my Mom called me twice early that morning to tell me my Dad was in a coma. I met my sister in North Carolina, and we flew to St. Louis. I got to see my stepfamily and my dad’s closest friends, but nothing prepared me for seeing my Dad in ICU. My two Aunts (Gail and Jane) flew out to say goodbye to their brother. I’d like to think he could hear us. Early on the 15th, we made the decision to take him off life support, and my stepmom Nancy held him while we gave him back to God. On the 16th, there was a memorial at Ari’s Greek Restaurant, where his best friend and brother-of-another-mother Tim and his family and friends all said their goodbyes to Cheffy. My Mom and her sister Aunt Peggy flew out to support us. And special thanks to my friends and family for the love and support over the phone when I needed it most. I wrote a eulogy on my Blogger page. Here’s a photo of the table at his memorial from my cell phone:

A photo of the table at my Dad's Memorial, May 16, 2010.

My Dad inspired many people, including a former student of his from an inner city high school where my Dad taught cooking. He was inspired by my Dad to go to college and cook, and he came to the memorial to remember my Dad:

My Dad's former high school student, who graduated college the night before and drove to St. Louis to remember him with my Dad's friend (left)

Tim put the photo of my Dad up above the door to the kitchen at Ari’s. He’s Cheffy to his friends and family in St. Louis:

A picture of the photo of my Dad, above the door to the kitchen at Ari's Greek Restaurant in St. Louis.

Thanks to Tim and his family, Nancy, Aaron and his family, Kelly and her family, Richard and EVERYONE that knew and loved my Dad.

June: I was busy working for TopTenREVIEWS.com this month. Can’t remember much else, other than just working hard. :-)

July: This was a cool month, when I bought a new kitchen table, 46″ 1080p LCD HDTV and TV stand! We also hung out a lot with her oldest brother Tony. LeBron James announced he was going to join Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade in South Beach with the Miami Heat, and I became a sports fan practically overnight! I swear, this long-time movie/comic book geek (who is doing Krav Maga martial arts) had the sports-loving spirit of my dad take hold of me!

August: On the first of August, a new puppy came into my life. In the local newspaper and in the classifieds, I saw someone was selling three Lhatese puppies. I went and looked at the two boys and one girl. I ended up picking up the female and within two days, she was named Jolie:

Jolie, the Kyi-Leo (Lhasa-Maltese) puppy on her first day home.

Jolie is just a cute puppy, born on June 4, 2010, and is a big part of our family. Lhateses are also considered their own breed, and are called Kyi-Leo. She and Peanut play all the time. Later in the month, I had a conversation with talented Director of Photography and 3D guru Tim Dashwood and was inspired to finally get serious about my next film, Ambush. Either this month or September, I bought Syd Field‘s two books (like I did in early 1995 to write my first screenplay), Screenplay and Screenwriter’s Workbook, and started developing my 3D superhero script.

My Iron Man Mark V tattoo, on my inner right arm.

Frank Lee finished up my Iron Man Mark V tattoo at Tattoo Blues. Here are the other Iron Man tattoos on my right arm:

Iron Man/Iron Monger and War Machine tattoos, my right arm.

Old one from 2004, gonna get re-done by Frank:

First Iron Man tattoo, on my right forearm.

September: Had a few days off for Labor Day, so I went and visited my friends at Comcast Spotlight in Miramar. Good, busy month. Still working on the development of the screenplay for Ambush. I put my second feature film 9:04 AM back online for free for “9:04 AM day,” 09/04/10, and it was a big hit! I also saw the Rutgers Scarlet Knights play and beat FIU in Miami, with my best friend Alex and his family. My neighbor’s son is a linebacker on the team, Marcus Thompson! How cool is that? Too bad Rutgers and my alma mater FAU Owls didn’t do too well. Let’s pray Eric LeGrand walks again!

October: The month of Halloween! I put up a few decorations and we had a great Halloween at a wedding. I also caught up with an old friend, Terry, whom I haven’t talked to in close to a decade. It’s been great being able to see and hang out with him. Peanut celebrated his 7th birthday early in the month:

My dog Peanut.

Still working on the development of Ambush‘s screenplay, when I can find spare time. I’ve seen or heard most of the Miami Heat’s games so far! Lovin’ it!

November: This was a pretty busy month at TopTenREVIEWS.com, and I was happy to get a few days off for Thanksgiving! I do believe this was the month I started writing the script for Ambush after a couple of months of development, mostly due to finding time to write.

December: What a whirlwind month! Shopping, work, etc. Plus, I got a new (used) car, a white 2009 Nissan Rogue. I had a Nissan XTerra for years, so I was happy to drop the cool, but gas-guzzling Mitsubishi Raider in favor of this car. I did a lot of research and was able to get in for a good price. I’ll be writing a new post on buying another used car that was once a rental car soon:

My new (used) 2009 Nissan Rogue!

Christmas!

Peanut and Jolie wish you a Merry Christmas!

Christmas was great–I got a lot of great stuff, like clothes, a fishing rod, a basketball and more! I’m hoping to head up to Tennessee and North Carolina to see my Mom, Stepdad and my sister and her family in early 2011. I also hope to finish the final act of the Ambush screenplay and get it over to my long-time film partners-in-crime Grant A. Balfour and Jeremiah Hall for review before the next drafts. Grant and I have been working together since 1995 at film school, and he’s scored most of my films, had small roles in them, and/or co-written them (Skye Falling and 9:04 AM).

Film of the Year: I didn’t see a lot of movies this year, but of those I did watch, I enjoyed Iron Man 2, Inception, Toy Story 3, Monsters (which inspired me also to work on Ambush) and Predators. I haven’t seen The Social Network yet, so hang tight while I watch on Blu-ray or VUDU or Netflix or iTunes.

Album of the Year: Broken Bells‘ first album, just incredible. James Mercer and uber-producer Danger Mouse knocked it out of the park. That came out in March, but in January, I had Gnarls Barkley in my head (Cee Lo Green and Danger Mouse), so I dug up the first album (St. Elsewhere) and just kept playing it. I also bought their excellent second album, The Odd Couple. Listened to those two albums a lot in the beginning of the year, along with most of AIR’s albums, especially Love 2. Cee Lo‘s solo album rocks, and his singles F–k You and What Part of Forever were great, too. Danger Mouse is the producer of the year, and they need to get back together for a third Gnarls Barkley album and tour. Cee Lo hinted at it at EW.com!

Book of the Year: Definitely Steve Alten‘s scary Grim Reaper: End of Days. Some of it I didn’t agree with (politics), but he respects our U.S. soldiers and he writes a great novel! I also dug Iron Man: Femmes Fatales, a fun book, even if it came out in late 2009/early 2010.

That’s about all I can think of this year. I can’t believe I got into sports so hardcore. Go Miami Heat! Have a safe and Happy New Year, and a great 2011!

Would You Buy A Used Rental Car? I Did

Back in May of this year, I bought a used Mitsubishi Raider from a local used car dealer. They had bought it at auction from Enterprise Car Rental. Well, I get terrible gas mileage, but it’s an otherwise great truck, so I’ve been thinking about selling it privately and getting myself a used Nissan Rogue. I used to own a Nissan XTerra.

My 2007 Mitsubishi Raider.

I’ve done a ton of research on Cars.com, AutoTrader.com, Edmunds.com, Consumer Reports and others. I found Hertz Rent2Buy on Auto Trader’s site, and their Rogues had sub-30,000 miles, though the price is higher than used car sites. I did a Google Search and found a review of Rent2Buy on Fiscal Fizzle. Read the comments to get an idea of how Rent2Buy is a mixed bag so far, though Wojo’s experience was overall pretty good.

There’s also Enterprise Car Sales, and it seems to be a little better in terms of having an actual office dedicated solely to selling used Enterprise rental cars. Hertz Rent2Buy is a separate company from Hertz Rental, and I’ve read you pick up the vehicle from the rental place, but they don’t always know it’s for a potential sale. I’m not sure if Enterprise Car Sales offers the three day cheap rental as a test drive, like Hertz Rent2Buy does.

You should also check out Wojo’s article (and tons of positive comments) on buying a rental car. In fact, you should read the whole seven part series (that’s part 1–you’ll find links to the other parts at the end of the article) Wojo wrote up about his experience of using one car between he and his wife, selling his car on Craigslist, new vs. used, extended warranties, etc.

I’m also looking at regular dealerships’ used cars, and off-lease or other used car dealers, and making sure I check the local Better Business Bureau (BBB) website to make sure the dealership is rated well (that and Google ratings). You can find the local brance on the BBB website via Google.

I have very little problems with my (former rental) truck, aside from some issues with the left blinker, the headlights sometimes staying on and the wipers sometimes slowing down on their own. Good news, the Raider came with a 5-year, 60,000-mile warranty, so that’s a covered repair.

My goal is to sell the Raider privately (it’s a re-skinned Dodge Dakota), since it’s an affordable truck compared to others in its class. MPG-wise, it’s similar to other vehicles. Besides, most people aren’t like me, working from home and driving only locally, which can sap gas out quicker.

I hope to get a used black, gray or silver Nissan Rogue in the coming months. I’ll let you know soon!

2010 Wrap-Up Coming Soon!


On the old HeathMcKnight.com, I’d try to write up a blog post that went through that year’s months, summing up the good and bad of everything. So I thought I’d do that here. It’s gonna take me a little bit of time, but I promise to have it up before 2011! I’ll say this about 2010: it was the year I got to work for a great company (TopTenREVIEWS), got back into filmmaking/screenwriting (via Ambush) and just finally start enjoying every day.

Radiohead’s Kid A Came Out 10 Years Ago Today

I love Radiohead, but for years (1998 to around 2007), I was OBSESSED. Nowadays, I still love them, but I’m not quite as bad. Anyway, I was so pumped for Kid A to come out, much like the rest of the world. It debuted October 3, 2000 and was just incredible.

I was in a weird place in my head at the time, and I was heading out on the road from Colorado back to South Florida. I stopped somewhere in Kansas for the night, and the next morning, I went to a K-Mart and bought the CD. I must’ve listened to it 16 times when I rolled into St. Louis about 10-12 hours later. I stayed there a week, because my head was swimming! I had a great time hanging out with my stepmom, stepsister and the rest of my friends and family out there. It helped me heal and get back onto the right path when I returned to South Florida 9 days after Kid A came out. I also remember my cousin Chad downloaded In Limbo 2 weeks before the album came out–what an amazing song, we were blown away!

It was a completely different album, but like I said, I loved it immediately.

I haven’t thought about all that stuff in a long time, because I could just sit back and listen to Kid A without thinking about it. But it was… an interesting, strange, sad, exhilarating time. Check out this blog from Radiohead fansite, At Ease.

ps-Seven years later, Radiohead released In Rainbows and became my favorite album by then. Before that, OK Computer was.

Iron Man 2 On Blu-ray, DVD, etc.!

Man, I’m pumped to get the Iron Man 2 Blu-ray tonight at the midnight Movie Stop party! Two years ago, I was there for the first movie to go on sale. At the time, I had a single Iron Man tattoo on my right forearm, and it won me the big prize, a 12-inch Iron Man figure.

Well, now I have more Iron Man tattoos, so hopefully I’ll win the poster! I’m a huge Iron Man fan, plus I love tattoos. All the new ones were done by the brilliant Frank Lee at Tattoo Blues.