Big sets, big wait

Filed in Work

I'm currently sitting in studio 15 at TVB City. We've just had dinner and we're ready to continue filming tonight's scenes of 阿旺新傅.

Tonight's filming typifies some of the most difficult moments for an actor. The set is a fashion show involving six or seven primary actors, several supporting actors and more than thirty extras. To complicate things further, the fashion show involves twenty different sets of clothes. We've been filming for three hours and we've only filmed six sets of clothes with fourteen sets to go. It's going to be a long night.

The actor faces two problems under these circumstances. The first is boredom and consequently fatigue because of the frequent and sometimes long waits between shots. Fatigue is one of the actor's biggest enemies. When the actor tires or becomes fatigued or lethargic, acting well becomes very difficult. Great acting requires concentration and energy.

The other problem is that many non-contiguous shots are usually filmed together. It's faster this way because the lights and camera position don't have to change significantly between shots. It's a challenge for actors though because they have to maintain realism even though there's no acting prior to the shot; ie, it can be difficult to get into the mood of the moment.

We'll probably be filming until 4am while most people are sensibly sleeping in their beds, possibly with the sound of never-ending rain in the background (which by the way is one of my favourite sounds).

One last thing for you to think about. Five hours of filming this fashion show will probably produce just three or four minutes of television programming. All of tonight's filming will produce just fifteen to twenty minutes of programming. And people wonder why the industry is worried about piracy and BT!

(this article was written and sent from my Nokia phone)

Pushing too hard

Filed in Health

Sometimes, the harder you try, the worse everything gets. I equate this situation to pushing on a door to open it not realising that the door opens inwards toward you rather than away from you. In such a situation, pushing on the door will obviously bear no results no matter how much energy you use (unless you're superman and you break the door down completely). The only way through the door is to relax and give the door space. You'll then be able to open it (by pulling) and move through.

I had depression for two to three years. My father had a mental problem called burnout syndrome (a very general term) for a couple of years. In both cases, trying to overcome the problem only made it worse. My father had to stop all forms of work involving thinking for six months to a year. During that time, he worked on a potato farm. I wasn't there for that part of his life because I was studying at university so I don't know exactly what he was going through. This rest time however was the only chance he had of recovering. For me, relaxation was also imperative. If I ever exerted myself, my body would relapse into a situation worse than previously. I simply had to accept the situation and move on slowly.

Friends and co-workers at TVB didn't understand. They simply told me to 'buck up', 'encourage yourself', 'stop being so lazy' and other similar statements usually with good intent but unwanted results. Even my doctor didn't believe me. It's unfortunate but true. Until you've suffered this type of problem, you'll never understand its effects or its reality.

You're not the only one that suffers though. Everyone around you suffers too, especially your family.

What I realise now that I didn't understand then is that we're not in complete control of our emotions even though we'd like to think we are. The chemicals and hormones running through and controlling our bodies have far more control over us than our minds. Sometimes, there's nothing we can do about our behaviours.

There are many situations where it is better to stand back a little than to push forward. There are many people who you'd like to convince to behave differently but it won't happen just because you talk to them or encourage them or perhaps even try to force them. For example, one of our dogs is scared of oncoming cars. Every time a car approaches, he dodges off into the roadside grass and pretends to be looking for something. He hopes that the car won't see him and will consequently leave him alone. We tried desperately to change this behaviour. We tried yelling at him, comforting and reassuring him and even complementing him. Nothing worked. It's not a behaviour that's going to change overnight, if at all. It's a part of his makeup and we'll have to accept it.

People can be the same way. If you know someone with a problem that presumably they should be able to overcome by will power alone and nothing you've said has changed them in any way, don't try so hard. Instead, stand back and support them by simply being there when they need you. With the reassurance they gain from knowing you're there for them, they'll relax over time and they'll then have the ability to change for the better.

This is obviously very difficult to understand. I know because it's extremely difficult to explain. I can only hope that my examples helped you to understand at least a little.

Important. Not all depressions are the same. Not all depressions are mental although the symptoms might be. Not all depressions can be solved through psychology intervention. Most importantly; with depression, nothing is at it seems.

I've been there. I know.

「虛擬城市」 radio interview

Filed in Press

I recorded an interview with RTHK's Teen Power yesterday for their Virtual City 「虛擬城市」 program. We would normally conduct interviews live but it's impossible to know whether I'll have to work at TVB at the intended time so it's safer to record the interview ahead of time.

The interview will be broadcast on RTHK Radio 2 and over the internet next Friday, May 20, 2005 from 8 to 9pm Hong Kong time; ie, 12 to 1pm UTC time.

Thank you all.

Filed in Miscellaneous

My wife and I have been overwhelmed by the support expressed by the people of Hong Kong and of Chinese people around the world. I have received comments and emails from Hong Kong, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and other countries. The world wide web has really affected the way the world works and communicates. It's phenomenal.

Thank you to everyone who has left comments, written email messages or simply visited this blog. I truly appreciate the support. I'm still digesting everything and the final affect won't be fully understood for a long time to come.

Many people have commented that they are in similar situations to myself. They live overseas in a strange and foreign community. Some are students. Some are working, but they're all working and in some cases struggling to adapt and integrate.

I remember a non-Chinese lady I met outside the local ParknShop store one day last year. She had a baby in a pouch on her back, two doberman dogs on leash and three heavy shopping bags. She asked me to help her place the shopping bags on her arms because her hands were busy holding the dog leashes. She didn't drive. She chose to walk. I commented on her predicament and she answered, very wisely; "there are no shortcuts in life".

This statement stayed with me. It applies to all of us. Many people are having difficult times. I have friends who like myself have struggled for many years, especially so since the 1997/8 economic meltdown in Hong Kong. We don't give up though. We carry on, ever hoping that tomorrow will bring good news.

I'm pleased and surprised that my life is giving moral support to other people who are themselves struggling. This was totally unexpected and unintended. All I can say to these people is exactly what many people have said to me in recent emails; never give up.

The people of Hong Kong have faced many difficult times. Time and time again, they have proven how tough and resilient they are. This is one of the reasons I admire, respect and have a fondness for Hong Kong people, no matter where in the world they may be located. Hong Kong people are special.

I have a personal adage:
"Today's pain, Tomorrow's gain", or
「今天的痛苦,明天的獲得。」

(P.S.: 這個網誌所有的中文是我自己想,自己寫。真的!)

Take care; all of you.

Mac OS X “Tiger”

Filed in Technology

Many people know that I'm an avid user of Apple computers. I've been using Apple computers since around 1989 when I purchased my first Apple computer, the IIci. Actually, it wasn't my first Apple computer. The first Apple computer I ever owned was a IIe purchased, used and sold back in 1983 before the first Macintosh was ever released.

desklamp iMacThese days, I'm using a 'desklamp' iMac with a 17" screen, running Mac OS X 10.3 "Panther". It's very solid. Applications almost never crash and when they do, they have no affect on other applications running at the same time. At this very moment, I have only seven applications running, but there are usually in excess of 15 applications running at any time including email, web browser, text editors and photograph processing applications.

For two years, I worked with the SilverFast scanning application from Lasersoft Imaging so I know my way around scanners pretty well. I recently switched to digital photography when I purchased the Canon 350D. One of the reasons for this was that it simply takes too long to scan film. Scanning one roll of 35mm film can take hours, even with the latest Nikon Coolscan 5000ED film scanner (I own the Coolscan 4000ED). Of course, I'm extremely finicky about my photos so I take time to make sure that every scanned photo looks as good as possible.

Last month, just one day prior to my birthday, Apple released the next version of Mac OS X named "Tiger". I would usually update my computer almost as soon as the upgrades are released but I'm taking my time this time. Tiger is a big upgrade and I'm definitely going to upgrade. With the new version of iSync, I'll finally be able to synchronise my computer's calendar and address book with my Nokia 7610 phone (although I wonder how many of my customised phone entries will get synchronised). And the ability to search for and find anything anywhere will be a big efficiency boost with the use of Spotlight.

For now though, I'm going to wait. The first version of Tiger was rushed out the door, possibly to increase company earnings for the current quarter, and possibly to get broad public beta testing done before the upcoming developers conference. Whatever the reason, I don't think people should upgrade to Tiger just yet.

iBook_green I've read that update 10.4.1 is coming soon, possibly next week. I've also read that it only fixes three dozen or so known bugs. To me, that's not enough knowing the number of bugs reported on the Macintouch and Macfixit sites. I'll probably wait until 10.4.2 is released before I take the leap and upgrade my computers; including an aging but still totally usable green 'clam shell' iBook.

Since I'm talking about Apple computers, it might be prudent of me to mention that there is a Macintosh User Group here in Hong Kong. I was a member for many years and still attend their meetings from time to time. I have quite a few friends in the group, and quite vivid to me at this very moment is the memory of being at a HKMUG meeting when news of the 911 attack was broadcast on television. The meeting was stopped and all attention was cast to the television as we watched the second plane hit the towers. I'm very cynical when it comes to 911. I believe Bush shares much of the responsibility for the attack but that's a sensitive issue and one which I'll not discuss at this time.

In any case, hold off until 10.4.2 before upgrading to Tiger; if you can stand the wait.

An unofficial “Perfume” poster

Filed in Events, Perfume 香水 (2005), Work

I took quite a few photographs during rehearsals of "Perfume". While I was on stage, Gary would take control of the camera. One of his photographs was extremely impressive and I used it to create this poster. People attending the play might have seen the full A3 version just outside the theatre entrance. It looks great, especially at A3 size on photographic paper.

Perfume poster

Hill on fire

Filed in Photo of the Day

While processing a recent photograph with my favourite image software (Lasersoft SilverFast; I don't own or use Photoshop), I accidentally developed this photo. It's not what the original scene looked like but it left a big impression on me so I thought I'd share it with you. This version of the photo is too small to see but the small dot on top of the light pole is a bird.

Sun behind hill

「一周刊」訪問 (2005/05/12)

Filed in Press, 中文文章

上星期日,我給「一周刊」訪問了。記者和攝影師都十分認真,很明顯已經做好功課,知道想要甚麼後果。從記者得知,這個訪問應該有四五板。

這個訪問可能將在這星期的周刊刊登。密切留意。可能有一張照片能看到我們所有的狗狗。