Life in Hollywood, below-the-line

Life in Hollywood, below-the-line
Work gloves at the end of the 2006/2007 television season (photo by Richard Blair)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Just for the Hell of It -- Episode Twelve

“Of course, the only people who think that practicals are important are the DP and the gaffer.  Everyone else just sees them as crap that’s making the toolbelt people have to get in their way.”
That quote is from another fine post at Totally Unauthorized, where the terse, punchy prose of Peggy Archer describes the morning panic that invariably ensues when an executive producer, production designer, director, the writing staff, or someone else high up the food chain on a sit-com has the brilliant idea to significantly alter the layout of a set the night before Shoot Day.
It doesn't matter why such a decision is made, only that it's happened.  And when it does,  this fucks the set dressers in a big way, forcing them to scramble and then -- as surely as an avalanche of shit rolling downhill -- it fucks the set lighting crew, forcing us to work up a serious morning sweat as we scramble to accommodate the sudden changes.  
Meanwhile, the rest of the crew is hoovering up all the good stuff at the craft service breakfast buffet.
I’ve been on the wrong end of that equation more times than I care to recall, and it pisses me off each and every time -- but such is life on a sit-com, where our job is to shout “how high?” when Those Who Must Be Obeyed conspire to make us jump.
It’s a good post, so check it out.
The photo above is a distinctly odd example of a "practical fixture" in that it's not actually on the set, but mounted on the unpainted wooden stairs backstage from which actors enter and exit the kitchen set.  But with a patio set on the other side of those curtains (which cover a window-to-nowhere built into the set wall), the lamp was put there by the Set Decorator back in Season One, and there it remains -- a very abstract light in the window that I doubt anybody in the viewing audience has ever noticed.  
Or ever will.
I'm not sure I've seen a practical like this before -- one that we powered up and burns in every show, but isn't actually on set.  I've inadvertently kicked the damned thing a dozen times over the past four years while traipsing up and down those stairs during our lighting days.  
But still it burns, like an eternal incandescent flame, impossible to snuff out


And now a question for you, the readers.  An e-mail recently came in from a someone who stumbled across this blog while searching the wilds of cyberspace for something else -- and as luck would have it, he liked what he found enough to start skimming though the posts from the very beginning.  

That much is good, but this reader reports that the white-print-on-black-background design is very hard on the eyes, and turns reading more than a quick post or two into an ordeal. This is something I wondered about back in 2007 when the blog came into being, but I liked the visual drama of those tattered gloves emerging from the surrounding black void. Besides, it never occurred to me that this effort could last longer than a few months at most. Since nobody would be reading it, I'd eventually get bored with shouting into the infinite void and that would be that.  

But it didn't go down that way, and seven years later, there's a lot white print on that black background.  I've considered changing the layout to a more traditional black print on white background format in the past, but never followed through.  It didn't seem to be an issue, and being an old stick-in-the-mud, I rarely embrace change simply for the sake of doing something new.  

This being an election season, I'm asking for some feedback here. If you have any feelings on this, please leave a comment or send me an e-mail at the link above.  Cast your vote as  you see fit.  Although BS&T is hardly a democracy, I remain a benign and benevolent dictator here, and will take your thoughts into consideration. 

Over at The Hills are Burning, AJ recently abandoned the black background for a more eyeball-friendly format, and it looks good. Maybe it's time for a change here as well, just to shake things up.

Or maybe not -- you tell me.  


Phillip Jackson said...

I've been a fan of the darker color theme since I found this site however many years ago (it's been a while). It sets the mood well. But a new coat of paint can do a lot for a site. The site does feel older in design but that's not always a bad thing. You come here for the stories and not the frills.

Anonymous said...

I like it as is personally. Looks different, fits the mood and style. Of course, anyone can change it to how they want using color changer on chrome or a myrid other accessibility approaches that are out there. I happen to use the clearly addin from evernote. You can right click the page, click clearly and it gives you a nice clean sidebar and other distraction free reader, with black and off-white text by default.

Anonymous said...

The guideline I've always heard is that light text on a dark background is easier to read on a screen (less bright light coming at you overall), while dark text on a light background is easier to read on paper. By that reasoning, you're doing the right thing.

Brian Munroe said...

I like the dark background. In fact when I went to post this comment it switched to a dark text on a light background and it was a glaring difference.

Just don't go with one of those pastel text on another pastel background theme. Us color blind folks thank you.

A.J. said...

Honestly, I liked your light text/dark background theme enough to mirror my original blog design on it.

However, I recently changed it a more "eyeball-friendly format" because I noticed my eyes straining as I'd constantly jump from the dark page to a much whiter one (ie: between the preview page and the compose page; between the blog post and the comment page; etc). I have no problem with reading light text on a dark background. It was the jumping-to-a-bright-white-page-after-staring-at-a-dark-one part that was hard on my eyes.

But that could just be me getting old. ;)

Michael Taylor said...

Phil, Anonymous, Anonymous, and Unknown -- Thanks for the feedback.

AJ -- Welcome to my world… although your frame of reference re: "getting old" is a bit different than mine -- but hey, it's all relative.

It was your blog's format change and that e-mail (mentioned in the post) that got me to thinking about making a switch. It's something I've been pondering with some regularity over the years, but not to the point of actually doing anything about it.

Inertia is a powerful force...

Anonymous said...

While I like the black design I do find it difficult on the eyes. But, my eyes are shot out anyway. If I'm reading several posts, or a really long one, I tend to highlight the text so that it's blue as opposed to white.

It's a great blog though, so it doesn't put me off reading.

Michael Taylor said...

Anonymous --

Thanks for tuning in.