Friday, December 29, 2006

To Bleep or not to Bleep

To bleep or not to bleep, that is the question...

As I work on Classic Game Room: The Rise and Fall of the Internet's Greatest Video Game Review Show I go through stacks of master tapes. Master tapes can mean the master edits, which are the complete edited shows. Or the master recording tapes which are the actual tapes used to record me and Dave in the studio which were then mixed with the game footage in post-production to make the master edit.

Classic Game Room, Sucka!

One of our old slogans was "Game Room: We kill more dolphins before 7am than most people do all day!". The fact is, I've never harmed a dolphin. I've never even insulted one. Actually I rather like dolphins. They're much nicer than many people I've met.

Game Room, hooooooooo!

So, getting back to the story, I've got dozens of tapes of these master recording sessions with Dave and I giving our professional on-camera Game Room reviews of video games. These are great to watch in their raw, un-edited form, namely because Dave's outtakes are hilarious. But the takes that we ended up using in the edited Game Roome episodes are there in crystal clear video with uncompressed audio. So you can hear every subtle nuance of my conjested, dull performance and Dave's thick New Jersey accent.

However something caught my ear... as I was listening to the original recording of the Alien episode I heard "F#$@ this!" and "F*#@ that!" and "F@#& you!" etc... over and over. I forgot that I had bleeped all that for the production episodes we aired online.

Apple G5, sucka!

The Apple G5. The G stands for "Gandalf"!

To let out a little known secret, we only "bleeped" the swear words because we thought it was funny. Actually we bleeped some and left others in. We also mis-bleeped words so they came out like "F-ckBLEEP you Sh-tBLEEPa$$BLEEPho!". Very mature, I know.

I still think they're funnier bleeped, so I may re-bleep the master tapes. I don't think hearing me swear is terribly exciting. I do it most mornings after I realize I forgot to make the coffee the night before. The Game Room humor is what I'm going for... and that certain high-brow level of sophistication we always managed to achieve in our show.

Lord Chesterfield, I presume?

The Game Room dvd is progressing well. I'm getting to be a pro at Final Cut on the G5. I replaced the Macintosh mouse with my trusty Microsoft mouse and am much happier. I hated the Mac mouse. Most of the film is cut together, the new Yar's Revenge episode is awesome and we're shooting the interviews and new footage next week. A release date and packaging will be announced soon.

Feed me.

Stella waiting patiently for the new Game Room DVD. See you in 2007 with all kinds of information on Game Room and other documentary film projects. As for me, I'm gonna party like its 1989.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Adventures on the Editing System

Its Adventures on the Editing System Day today! But since I don't have any good pictures from today I'll be illustrating the story with pictures of my dog and her 1st Xmas with us.

Game Room Dog

She is so cute! (I'll be sure to write that in puffy paint later) She loves cheese, water, shredding tissues, long walks along the beach (of the Allegheny River) and Pedigree Breath Freshener dog treats.

I pretty much spend all my day on the editing system. I actually started out editing and found it to be one of the most enjoyable parts of filmmaking. Directing is the glamorous part but only takes about 1% of the time on a feature documentary. The other 99% is usually spent editing. I'm not including pre-production or producing because that's real work and who really want to talk about that.... that's phone calls and organization... I'm already getting a headache.

Stella the Wonder Dog

My past 4 films have all been edited in High Definition on an Avid Nitris DS Editor in 1080i. Considered the Lamborghini Countach of editing systems this was a bad-ass machine in its time. Gettysburg and Stories of Valor (2004), Expo: Magic of the White City (2005), Horses of Gettysburg (2006) and most recently, World War 1 - American Legacy (2006), were all edited in HD on that system. I use a Sony 32" CRT HDTV widescreen monitor for HD work.

Prior to getting the Lambo I was editing on a Media 100 back around 2001 and 2002. Johnstown Flood was edited on a Media 100. Its a pretty straight forward editing system that was fairly reliable for the most part. Nothing too exciting to tell. In fact I still use it for rough cutting.

New rope toy!!

We recently parted with our Avid. Today was an exciting day because for the first time I started to edit on an Apple Final Cut on a G5. Now keep in mind I've never never liked Mac, always loathed them with passion and was so embarrassed when I bought an iPod that I couldn't sleep for week. I feel like I was working with training wheels today. The commands were all different, the mouse was weird and it smelled nice. I'm still unsure how to close windows, copy, paste and generally do anything. I stumbled around on it for a while rebuilding the rough cut of Classic Game Room and fully expect to be up to speed by Friday. I'm not sure what to think of it yet. Its very different from the Avid but very similar in many ways as well. I'll keep y'nz posted. If it can win me over it can do anything.


Classic Game Room: The Rise and Fall of the Internet's Greatest Video Game Review Show will be edited in Final Cut. From what I can tell the quality will be great, given that the source material was all shot in 4x3 Betacam SP and DVCpro. I'm also working with some old Super 8 footage and 16mm footage. I am remastering all the video where I have master tapes, remastering all the audio, music and sound and filming all new footage for interviews and new material. So if you liked Game Room back in the day on the computer over a 2800 baud modem you'll love this!

Classic Game Room: The Rise and Fall of the Internet's Greatest Video Game Review Show

Good dog!! Stella is a 1 year old German Shepherd/Chow Chow mix from the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society. Dogs are rad.

You can see the Classic Game Room trailer HERE.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Audio Mixing for World War 1

World War 1 - American Legacy was released on December 5th, 2006. Nearly a year of pre-production, production, directing, editing and finishing went into the film. Tens of thousands of photographs and newspapers and drawings were collected. Monuments were filmed, period songs were recorded and eyeballs were strained during weeks of editing. All in all it was a challenging film to produce but I think it gives a very interesting and entertaining look at World War 1 and the American men and women who served in "The Great War".

World War 1 - American Legacy

This film has one of the most robust audio mixes that I've had in my recent films and drops you right into the middle of the war. The music is fantastic and rich. The original score was composed by Gene Ort of GMP Music in Michigan. I used a lot of period 1917-1918 vintage 78's and Edison Cylinders as well. David Carradine's voice thunders through the mix so you can hear every detail of his performance and follow the exciting stories of Father Duffy, Joyce Kilmer, The Lafayette Escadrille, Nurses in the War, The Harlem Hell Fighters and more.

The DVD offers the mix in DTS surround sound and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound for those home theater buffs out there. A stunning transfer straight off the HD editing system as well.

Mixing the film

Here's a shot of our mixing session on 5 Mackie HR824 monitors with Digital Performer on the Apple G5. Gene also mixed the film and we polished the mix at his studio in Niles, Michigan back in September. Not only was it fun to see the final audio mix come together, but I also got to spend some time in Niles, Michican.

Niles, Michigan

I really enjoy getting out and walking around a cool small town. I'm also very proud to have worked with an all-American crew on my film. Everything was done in the United States, which is fitting for a film about America in WW1 I think.

The park in Niles

Niles has the best riverfront park that I have ever seen and I hiked it two days in a row. I cannot remember the name of the river at this time, but the park has benches all over the place so people can sit and relax, a great walking and biking path, a skate park and some other cool stuff.


There was a great bar in Niles called the Golden Nugget! I loved this place, this was a straight up BAR. Check out how awesome this place is. They did not have spitoons though or a place to tie my horse, "Nissan Pathfinder".

There be gold here!

I had a roast beef sandwich there that was out of this world. I also sampled some local Michigan brewed beer called Bells. They have a number of varieties, but the one I enjoyed the most was called Two Hearted Ale. I highly recommend it. And when I found it on tap at the Golden Nugget they didn't serve it in some wimpy 12 oz glass. They kept it real. I should have put a penny down for scale but this thing is the size of a truck tire.

Mug O' Beer

More news coming soon on Classic Game Room: The Rise and Fall of the Internet's Greatest Video Game Review show, a documentary film on the classic video game reviews broadcast on the Internet back in the day. More production photos on the Civil War Documentary series that I've been working on and this particular World War 1 documentary.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Upcoming Projects: Winters of War and Game Room

Classic Video Game Reviews and Beer

After completing World War 1 - American Legacy in October I've been working in pre-production on three upcoming films. To quote Professor Farnsworth "Good news everyone!"... especially fans of our Civil War Minutes documentary series and fans of The Game Room! Two films which could not be more different.

Civil War Minutes V is in production now with the working title Winters of War. The film is about the Civil War veterans who forged the modern United States of America after being involved and influenced by the conflict. The fourth film in the series was Horses of Gettysburg which has been very well received, this fifth film in the series is from the same writers and crew.

Presidents like Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield, Chester Arthur, Benjamin Harrison and William McKinley. Men who built the country like Grenville Dodge and the workers on the Transcontinental Railroad, Andrew Carnegie, George Westinghouse, Washington Roebling who engineered the Brooklyn Bridge and Brigadier General Charles Stone who built the base for the Statue of Libterty. The stories of dozens of other veterans like Adolphus Greeley, Wyatt Earp and Jesse James are in the film too, as well as those who did not officially serve in the war yet participated in it like Clara Barton, Winslow Homer, Mark Twain and Walt Whitman.

I am working with hours of stunning High Definition footage that we filmed on the battlefield of Gettysburg during and after a snowstorm, giving a very unique look to the film and showing the Pennsylvania battlefield like most people have never seen it.

The Battlefield of Gettysburg

It was very, very cold in early January, 2005 when I filmed this shot. I usually like cold weather, but this was so cold and windy that it still hurts just thinking about it.

Cannons on Pickett's Charge

Cannons on the Pickett's Charge location at Gettysburg. It looks amazing in HD, this picture hardly does it justice. But I'm working on the rough cut of the film with downconverted footage which explains the timecode on the screen. Winters of War will be distributed by Inecom Entertainment Company and should be released in late 2007.

The 2nd film I am currently editing is Classic Game Room: The Rise and Fall of the Internet's Greatest Video Game Review Show. This is a fun documentary on the rise and fall of The Game Room which was a game review show back in 1999 and 2000 that I co-hosted and co-directed with David Crosson.

Mark and Dave keep it real

The story of the show mirrors the boom and burst of the Internet business model as our success looked so promising in early 2000... Anyway, I won't give it all away. But we did produce about 75 episodes back in those days wayyyyyy before YouTube and this DVD (the first of many!) is slated to contain 11 classic episodes along with our dramatic story, interviews, outtakes, new footage and the remastered episodes from the master tapes. I expect it to be released in 2007, also from Inecom.

Yars' Revenge for the Atari 2600

The DVD will also include the never-before-seen review and episode of Yars' Revenge for the Atari 2600.

The episodes I am planning to include on the DVD are:

Duck Hunt for the Nintendo Entertainment System
X-Men for the Sega Genesis
Joust for the Sony Playstation
Sega GT for the Sega Dreamcast
Frogger for the Atari 2600
Missile Command for the Sony Playstation
SeaMan for the Sega Dreamcast
Perfect Dark for the N64
Contra for the Nintendo Entertainment System
Yars' Revenge for the Atari 2600
Alien for the Atari 2600

SeaMan for the Sega Dreamcast episode

A trailer for Classic Game Room can be seen HERE.

The third project I'm working on has not been disclosed yet, but it is a historical film and very cool. More details on these films to be posted in the future.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Horses of Gettysburg and Visit to Leesburg, VA

It has been an exciting year for my documentary film on horses in the civil war, Horses of Gettysburg. Many people thought I was crazy when I proposed this idea years ago. After spending so much time in Gettysburg working on Civil War documentaries I became very interested in the statues and monuments. What really caught my eye were the equestrian statues like General Hancock on horseback or General Lee on Traveller. I thought it would be a great idea to learn about the horses and their role in the Battle of Gettysburg and in the Civil War as a whole. You can buy the film at just about any online retailer and many stores nationwide. You can get it at Amazon or Deepdiscountdvd for instance.

Horses of Gettysburg

Writers Michael Kraus and David Neville penned stories ranging from General Custer vs. J.E.B. Stuart on the East Cavalry Field to the slaughter of the horses in front of the Trostle Barn to general information on the million or so horses involved in the Civil War. And estimated 5000 horses and mules were killed during the battle of Gettysburg alone. The estimates for horses killed or wounded during the war are staggering. There is a beautiful monument in Middleburg, Virginia that honors them.

Monument to the horses who died in the Civil War

I was fortunate enough to visit Middleburg and Leesburg, Virginia in the early summer of 2006. I took this picture of the statue and wished I had used it in this film but did not learn about it until after production had wrapped.

Ronald Maxwell and Mark Bussler in Leesburg, VA

The film is narrated by Ronald F. Maxwell, director of the movies Gettysburg and Gods and Generals, among others. To celebrate the release of the film we had a DVD signing at the Leesburg Bookstore in town. Clips from the film were shown at the Tally Ho Theater down the street followed by a Q&A which I really enjoyed.

Tally Ho Theater

The Tally Ho Theater with an ominous sunset the night before the screening.

Leesburg, Virginia

My wife and I standing on a streetcorner in Leesburg. I like small towns and said that if you can tell the quality of a town by the quality of its sidewalks that Leesburg must be second to none. The residents of Leesburg did not disagree.

Ball's Bluff Tavern

One of my early films, Shot to Pieces, depicted the Battle of Ball's Bluff. So this bar was a fitting place to visit. I'll post some more detail about that film soon.

Leesburg is a beautiful town in Northern Virginia and everyone was very friendly, excited about horses and a lot of fun. I'm glad that we were able to celebrate the DVD release there in the heart of "horse country". Especially considering we were Yankees from Pennsylvania!

Civil War Horses

Horses of Gettysburg groupies! Thank you to everyone in Leesburg and all of those who showed up for the events surrounding the release of our film.

Filming Horses of Gettysburg with Panasonic Varicam

Horses of Gettysburg was filmed in 720p High Definition with the Panasonic Varicam. Editing was done in 1080i High Definition and the dvd was a direct, digital transfer and looks stunning. I'll have more information on the production of the film in a later post.

Thank you to everyone who has reviewed the film, two of my favorite review sites in particular enjoyed it.

Thank you Betty Jo Tucker at ReelTalkReviews for your review of the film HERE.

Thank you Nicholas Sheffo and Nate Goss at FulvueDrive-In for your review of the film HERE.

More information on Horses of Gettysburg and my other documentaries will be coming soon so stay tuned. My wife snapped the following shot on the Pennsylvania Turnpike on the way home from Leesburg. Dear PennDot, these are my toll dollars at work.

Pennsylvania Turnpike Route 76 Toll Road Excitement

By the way, May 2nd, 2006 was declared Horses of Gettysburg Day in Pittsburgh!!!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Classic Game Room - The Rise and Fall of the Internet's Greatest Video Game Review Show

I've been working on a new documentary today. No, not a Civil War or World War 1 documentary, but a documentary on my cancelled video game review show, THE GAME ROOM.

The working title of the new film is Classic Game Room - The Rise and Fall of the Internet's Greatest Video Game Review Show.

Game Room Classic Video Game Reviews

It was a great show, and oddly enough its actually a really interesting story on how we went from that to producing documentary films.

We started the show in late 1999 on the Internet and it ran until October 2000. These were the days way before YouTube. We reviewed new and classic games, everything from the Playstation to the Atari 2600. Including such classics as The Empire Strikes Back, Bionic Commando, Contra and Xevious.

The Empire Strikes Back for Atari 2600

I just wanted to let everyone know that the DVD is in production and keeps the spirit of The Game Room alive. And that's all I have the time for today.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Father Duffy 69th NY & the Double Shack Burger

World War 1 - American Legacy features the story of Father Duffy from New York's 69th Infantry, the Fighting Irish. My wife and I shot the pictures of the Father Duffy statue in Times Square in New York City this past May 2006 along with the painting of Charles Whittlesey of Lost Battalion fame in the Williams Club a few blocks away.

Father Duffy from World War I

I often wonder if he would have liked all the commercialism surrounding him?

Father Duffy from WW1

Me in front of impressive Father Duffy statue. The next time you are in Times Square make sure to take a moment to read his statue.

The Empire Strikes Back

The Empire State building photographed from somewhere nearby. Framed so nicely by a monster robotic arm.

The Shake Shack

I've grilled some great burgers in my day but none as good as the Double Shack Burger from the Shake Shack. Thank you to Christian, Rocco and Tara for taking us out on the town. Makes filming all more fun.

Manhattan is a hell of a town

Manhattan as viewed from my friends' patio in Jersey City. I've enjoyed many trips watching the little boats circle the Island and Statue of Liberty nearby. If you've never been to NYC you should go. And hit the Shake Shack while you're there.

Father Duffy Statue NYC

Hope to see you again soon, NYC.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

World War 1 - American Legacy release and other news

My newest documentary film, World War 1 - American Legacy, was released on December 5th, 2006 from Inecom Entertainment Company. The official website can be seen at It is a 2 hour documentary film narrated by David Carradine about the American men and women who served in the Great War.

For the technical gurus: We filmed the live footage of WW1 statues in high definition on DVCproHD with the Panasonic Varicam. Still pictures were captured in HD and come from a variety of period sources like the French L'illustration magazines and personal photographs. The DVD is produced from a direct digital transfer in anamorphic widescreen with DTS and Dolby Digital surround sound. The DVD is available nationally and at all major online retailers like

World War 1 - American Legacy DVD

You can view the 100 second trailer for the 2 hour documentary film here.

A very special thank you to Betty Jo Tucker and everyone at for the following review of the film and for the interview opportunity:

ReelTalk review of World War 1 - American Legacy here.

Betty Jo Tucker interview with Mark Bussler here.

GAME ROOM update.

There has been a recent surge in interest in the Classic Game Room episodes that I produced for the Internet way back in 1999 and 2000. We are in the planning stages to release the episodes on DVD from the master tapes. These were originally filmed in 4x3 on Betacam SP and DVCpro with a variety of camera equipment and game review systems like Atari 2600, Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Genesis, Atari Jaguar, Sony Playstation and N64.

Classic Game Room

The trailer for Classic Game Room is on YouTube HERE.

I will keep everyone posted about the Classic Game Room DVD details as they become more clear. More documentary film information is forthcoming.

...And it Begins...

The blog of documentary filmmaker Mark Bussler will appear... Information on films and The Game Room coming soon.