Thursday, February 5, 2009

Captain Collected

So I assume you've all been listening to Christian Bale's much publicized rant against the director of photography on the new Terminator movie. I think that, in addition to betraying a certain lack of impulse control, it may indicate a lack of understanding about how movies are made. Let me lay it out for you, Mr. Bale.

You see, there are these things called cameras that you might have heard of. They, together with those bright, glowing objects called lights are under the control of a man called, variously, the cinematographer or director of photography. The important thing to realize, Mr. Bale, is that this is not a live stage play. The audience doesn't see you in all your glory. They see pictures. Pictures that the DP takes. So, you see, it is best to treat him with respect. Unless you want to find your nose hair the best lit and in-focus part of a close up, one day.

Now the DP didn't walk into the shot and spoil a take. He walked around in the background. Perhaps it was a slack-ass move on his part, perhaps he was trying to get the next shot set up so that Mr. Bale wouldn't have to wait or the movie could stay on time or within budget. Who knows.

Today I found another piece of audio. Now you all know that I since the events of US Airways flight 1549, I (along with the rest of the aviation community) have been doing everything possible to hallow Captain Sullenberger and his crew. Well, here is another way to do so: compare temperaments between Capt. Sullenberger and Mr. Bale. Here is an audio recording of the (brief) flight. Don't worry if you don't understand the combination of New York accent and aviation-speak going on for most of the recording. The important parts are clear enough.

Ok, so let's compare Bale with Sullenberger.

One is irritated because some one moved around on set. Now granted, I'm sure this threw off his acting, but you know, it happens all the time that I'm at work and someone comes over and talks to me, throwing off my mojo just when I'm really in the zone.

Now listen to the airplane. They are going to crash. It is not a "we might crash" situation, but a "how bad will we crash?" situation. Will we all freeze/drown in the river? Will we be burned to death in a fireball? Smushed in the impact? Or some sort of more graceful crash?

Do we hear "What the F&*^ are you doing, geese? What are you doing flying in my way? I mean F*&(^, you call yourselves professional?" No. We hear "unable..." repeated over and over.

Someone should take cool lessons, I think. On the other hand, there might be a sort of "Dark Knight" curse. Like Poltergeist had. Or not. Bale could just be a jackass.

Oh, and going back to the airplane, I have a few amusing notes:

I like the guy (he's the tower controller at LGA) who asks for confirmation of which engines failed. What part of "both" don't you understand?

I also wonder if, at some point when the main controller asks "what do you need to land" or some variation, the thought occurred to one of the men in the cockpit "two new engines!"

And even though the controllers get a little confused (briefly talking about flight 1529), it is remarkable that, for all they know, this airplane just ended up a smoking hole in the ground, but they keep shuffling the rest of the airtraffic around.

One final Flight 1549 note -- this incident has been big news in the aviation community. It is rather interesting to think about why. Why do I think everyone is so interested? Because no one died. Since everyone made it off, and the overall tone was one of heroism and miracle, there is no finger pointing going on.

A normal crash investigation is very much of a blame attribution situation. And if there was any serious loss of life or property, then that blame could end up having huge financial and legal consequences. If the NTSB or other investigative agencies report that an engine or aircraft component was substandard, or that maintenance was ill performed, then that report will have obvious influence on the inevitable post-crash legal actions.

But this time, everyone was OK. Some luggage was lost, or at least ended up quite wet, but I don't hear anyone whining about that.

And since the results of the investigation are free of any legal consequence (and therefore there is much, much less of a place for political and industrial pressures to enter into the investigation), those working to understand what happened can focus on understanding what happened. What worked, what didn't, what should be done the same next time and what should be changed.

Besides, it is a hell of a lot less morbid!