Man. Isn’t it always the way? A fancy car, a pretty girl, and then someone goes and sets a building on fire. So much for the carefree atmosphere!

UPDATE! October’s Vote Incentive is up! The popular “Sith Marissa” image, now pristine without word balloons or distracting foreground elements!

UPDATE 2! Max-the-Artist’s donation page now has last month’s vote incentive “Marissa – Blowing Kisses” image available for download in high-resolution formats.  Show Marissa your love and toss a shekel Max’s way while you’re at it.  Thanks! More below!


Trouble In the Distance

I’ll bet you’re not particularly surprised to learn that I can (usually) tell when fire trucks are approaching. And I mean I can tell even before I see them, and even when they’re not using sirens. Sometimes when you’re trying to grab a quick effects shot that’s not worth a run out to the desert — such as some flame work with a choked roofing torch or a sawdust burst — you just set up a camera and a backdrop and grab it. And while the neighbors are alerted and don’t mind as long as it is quick and quiet, it’s still not something you want to be doing just as a fire truck drives by. And as it happens, we have a fire station just up the street, and the boys in red trucks go by a LOT. Most of the time they’re just making as store run or going to lunch, or coming back from the same, so they’re not blaring their sirens. They’re a tolerant bunch for the most part, but setting off a billow of flame right as they’re driving by would be disrespectful. You don’t want that. So you learn to listen for the distant sound of an approaching fire truck before you cut loose. Fire trucks have that big diesel sound that almost any heavy truck has — garbage trucks, dump trucks, pretty much any eight-wheeler. On a road like ours, there are a lot of such trucks, and there would be numerous false alarms — but fire trucks have one distinctive difference. They’re perfect. Fire trucks are some of the most pampered big diesels in existence. Fire crews take incredible care of their equipment — no surprise, their lives depend on it — and so the thing you, as an effects guy, learn to listen for is that big diesel sound and nothing else. There is no sandy grind in the gears. The brakes don’t squeak. There’s no sputter, no clatter, no chuffing. Just that diesel engine, gears shifting smoothly, and well-maintained tires on the roadway. Once you learn what to listen for, you can tell a fire engine’s stealth approach from a half-mile away. Plenty of time to shove everything out of sight and wave nonchalantly as they drive by. I’m glad they’re there. And I appreciate what they do. But I also appreciate that they maintain such excellent care of their big rigs. Makes life better and safer for all of us. Especially me. –Bob out