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Lance Aue (1953-2017)

PermalinkBy Paul Rudoff on Jul. 15, 2017 at 7:01 PM , Categories: Personal, Tributes
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(circa 2011, from the NassauARES.net website)

The person I will be memorializing today has no connection to the Ghostbusters fandom, though I'm sure he loved the original movie almost as much as the rest of us. I'm not intending on turning Spook Central into a tribute site (though there has been enough to have their own category), but it would not have felt right not doing this for Lance.

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Ghostbusters Presents of Birthdays Past

PermalinkBy Paul Rudoff on Jun. 25, 2017 at 12:00 PM , Categories: Personal, Fans
Although I've been running this website for 20 years, my love of Ghostbusters goes back much further than that. In honor of my birthday today, let's take a look back at a few of my past birthdays and the Ghostbusters presents I received for them.

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New Spook Central Audio & Video Players

PermalinkBy Paul Rudoff on May. 10, 2017 at 4:06 PM , Categories: Spook Central
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For the past 10 years all video and audio files on Spook Central were played using a Flash plugin-based multimedia player. That was the ideal way to do it at the time, but since then, Flash has fallen out of favor (to put it nicely). If you've been viewing Spook Central on a mobile device, you wouldn't have even seen the embedded media player because all Apple and Android devices don't allow Flash to be used. That meant that I needed to eventually find a new way to play and display the media on the site.

Raffaele Ruffaldi, the Italian Stallion from the land of the Smurfs and damn fine waffles, has worked his butt off these past few months to help me find a solution to the problem. After lots and lots of testing and trial and error, and me being a general pain in the ass, we have found something that seemingly works in nearly every situation. Only one older browser (Internet Explorer v8 on Windows XP) and mobile device (an iPod Touch using iOS v6) failed our tests, but it's not likely that anyone reading this is using either of those two. If for some reason you can't see the video, there's a "Can't See The Video?" panic link at the top of the floated box that links directly to the .mp4 file which should allow you to view the video file.

When I committed to using videos on Spook Central, I grabbed the tiny "Play Video" image from the DVD-ROM content of the 1999 DVD and blew it up to 320x240. It got the job done, but it wasn't very pretty, and I wanted something that looked a little better, wasn't tied to a specific background color, and was of a larger size (as a way to plan for future use). I asked my friend, the Ghostbusting' Guru Matthew Jordan, for some help to make a new image that was a homage to the old one. What you see at the top of this post is the masterpiece he created. Those of you on desktop or laptop computers will, likely, not see the image very much. However, those of you on mobile devices will become quite familiar with it. When you click on any video thumbnail on the site (and I hope it's obvious which thumbnails link to videos on the various pages), a desktop/laptop computer will auto-play the video floated over the page. On a mobile device, you will need to click/touch the "Play Video" image to have the video start playing.

It should be noted that all I did right now is take the small (mostly 320x240 or 424x240) compressed .flv videos I already had on Spook Central and re-compress them to .mp4 files. They are being displayed on the site, floated over the pages, at DVD resolution sizes of 640x480 or 852x480. There will be a certain ugliness when seeing those small files enlarged to those sizes, but they are still perfectly viewable. Maybe in a few years, if I can ever find the time, I want to go back to my original video sources and re-encode all of the videos at those larger DVD image dimensions and with less compression. That will probably happen when I get around to transferring my VHS collection to DVD-Rs. For now, what's on the site will have to do. Oh, and ignore the black box in the lower right corner of some videos. It covers up an outdated watermark I had on the original files.

There is one minor conflict on pages that use the audio player playlist in more than one tabbed section. Currently, the issue only affects two pages: Cast & Crew Multimedia and Ghostbusters Score. What happens is that when you switch tabs, the playlist(s) on the other tabbed section(s) is not opened. The workaround is that you will have to click/press twice on the menu button (three horizontal lines) for the playlist to be displayed. Once it's opened/displayed, it should stay opened, even if you switch between the tabs again. I have added a big bold note at the top of both of those pages, which I hope is noticeable enough for people to see and understand.

More Spook Central pages that contain the new audio & video players include, but are not limited to: RGB Soundtrack, EGB Score, EGB Multimedia, GB1 Deleted Scenes, GB1 Stock Footage, GB2 Deleted Scenes, GB2 EPK, GB2 Multimedia, GB3 News, Paul's Music Videos, RGB Alt Episodes, RGB Bumpers, Making of RGB, RGB Pilot.

Even the Spook Central blog has been updated with the new audio & video players. Here are a few selected posts on which they are being used: Wilhelm Von Homburg Speaks As Vigo, More Love From The Cross The Streams Podcast, Shanna's Siren Song Stolen From She-Ra!, Silent Night, Deadly Night, South Park Uses Ghostbusters 2016 Review Quote.

Okay, so that about covers it all. Raffaele and I would appreciate it if you would use the comments section below to provide feedback, so we'll know if there are any issues we need to address, or if everything is running as well as expected.
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Subtle Secrets of Ghostbusters 2016

PermalinkBy Paul Rudoff on Apr. 8, 2017 at 2:00 AM , Categories: 2016 Parody Remake
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I spent a lot of time working with Paul Feig's 2016 parody remake of Ghostbusters (Don't Answer The Call - It's Coming From Inside The House!) for reviews here on Spook Central and multimedia on the Ghostbusters Wiki. In doing so, I discovered a lot of subtle secrets that you may not be aware of. I'm not talking about the obvious Easter Eggs, like the original actor cameos, the Twinkie ad in Times Square, and the other overt pandering...err, references to the original movies. Some of the secrets I will be presenting today may be known to some, but there are a few that I personally discovered.

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Spook Central's April Fools Day 2017 Prank

PermalinkBy Paul Rudoff on Apr. 2, 2017 at 1:16 PM , Categories: Spook Central
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I don't do April's Fools pranks every year, lest you be able to predict it coming. This year I decided to do one after seeing the site for the band Spook (located at SpookBand.com) pop up in search results for "Spook Central" because their main page carries that title. I thought it would be fun to replace MY Spook Central with theirs for the day.

On the Spook Central Facebook page, I gave a little hint that the prank was coming when I posted that "Spook Central v4.1" was coming this Saturday. The version number is, of course, April 1st - April Fools Day. I tried not to make the hint too obvious.

If you came to Spook Central on April 1st and saw the website of the band Spook, I hope you clicked around to the other pages. I copied over the seven main files that make up their website. For the most part, I left the pages alone, to make the prank look real. However, if you clicked over to the Contact page, the prank would have been revealed to you.

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I don't know how many people I fooled with my prank, though I know that I got a few people. I hope those of you who saw it, enjoyed it.
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Ghostbusters 2016 Soundtrack Artist Annie Stoll Interview

PermalinkBy Paul Rudoff on Mar. 19, 2017 at 3:22 PM , Categories: Music, 2016 Parody Remake
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Last year, when I reviewed the soundtrack to Paul Feig's 2016 Ghostbusters parody remake, one of the things that I overwhelmingly enjoyed about it was the album artwork. Between July and September of 2016, I exchanged several e-mails with Grammy-nominated artist Annie Stoll about her work on the album. The idea was to post a mini Q&A on Spook Central at the time. Yeah, I'm quite late in posting this, but better late than never - right? Along with the Q&A are little tidbits of information from the e-mails that she has given me permission to share. I'll call these "Anne Anecdotes" because I love alliteration.

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Hurricane Sandy - Destroyed East Rockaway House Demolished

PermalinkBy Paul Rudoff on Mar. 10, 2017 at 11:26 PM , Categories: Personal , Tags: hurricane-sandy
Updated on June 14, 2017

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UPDATE - In an effort to make the photo documentation of the house trips easier to find, here are the quick links to all Facebook photo galleries about the East Rockaway house.

Thu. March 9, 2017
Tue. May 30, 2017
Fri. June 9, 2017
Wed. June 14, 2017
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Cartoon All-Stars To The Rescue VHS Review

PermalinkBy Paul Rudoff on Mar. 1, 2017 at 3:43 PM , Categories: Real Ghostbusters, Home Video
Over at The Corner Penthouse, I've been porting over all 100+ reviews that I've written over the past 15+ years on various other sites. A new retro review will be posted on every even-numbered day for the next four months, with some truly new reviews slipped in on some of the odd-numbered days as I get them done. This one is more appropriate to post over here at Spook Central.

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This review was originally written on March 10, 2011
Awesome Crossover Special, It's A Shame It'll Never Be Released On DVD

Cartoon All-Stars To The Rescue was a half-hour animated drug prevention special starring many of the popular cartoon characters from American Saturday morning television shows, which was simulcast on April 21, 1990 on all three major American television networks (ABC, NBC, and CBS), most independent stations, as well as cable networks Nickelodeon and USA.

Cory (voice of Lindsay Parker), is worried about her older brother Michael (voice of Jason Marsden, who would later voice Garrett in Extreme Ghostbusters) because he's started acting differently. When her piggy bank goes missing, her cartoon tie-in toys come to life to help her find it. After discovering it in Michael's room, along with his stash of drugs, the various cartoon characters proceed to band together and take him on a fantasy journey to teach him the risks and consequences a life of drug-use can bring. The villain of the story, besides the drugs, is Smoke (voice of George C. Scott), an anthropomorphic cloud of smoke with a mafioso-like appearance and personality.

The "Cartoon All-Stars" that appear in the special, from 10 different franchises, with their original voice actors, are:

* The Smurfs: Papa Smurf, Brainy Smurf, Hefty Smurf (though Smurfette is seen on the poster and VHS cover, she does not appear in the special).

* ALF The Animated Series: Alf.

* Garfield and Friends: Garfield.

* Alvin and the Chipmunks: Alvin, Simon, Theodore.

* The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: Winnie the Pooh, Tigger.

* Muppet Babies: Baby Kermit, Baby Piggy, Baby Gonzo.

* The Real Ghostbusters: Slimer.

* Looney Tunes: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck.

* Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Michelangelo (although he appears in the special, he is not shown on the poster or VHS cover).

* DuckTales: Huey, Dewey, Louie.

The special was distributed on VHS videocassette by Buena Vista Home Entertainment (Disney), but it was only available for free rental, not for sale. This is probably due to the PSA nature of the special and the legal issues with the licensing of the characters for profit. Make a video for free rental only, no profit; sell it, and there's profit. Video stores were given a poster featuring the VHS cover art (you can buy a 11"x17" reproduction) to display in their windows or on their walls to advertise that they had the tape available for free rental, hence the "Rent It Here FREE!" banner in the upper left corner of the poster. I saw the special when it aired back in April 1990 and secured one of the rental VHS tapes from the "previously viewed" section of the video store that used to be in my town. I still have that tape, and will never sell it.
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Official Ghostbusters Creative Assets

PermalinkBy Paul Rudoff on Feb. 20, 2017 at 11:30 PM , Categories: Ghostbusters 1, Ghostbusters 2, 2016 Parody Remake
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It was all supposed to be simple. It was never supposed to be a lot of work.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, back in October 2016, Ghost Corps and Sony released a bunch of "creative assets" for the Ghostbusters franchise on the official site at ghostbusters.com/creative-assets/. Thankfully, I stumbled upon that page just a few weeks ago, because it's since been taken down.

The files included a whole slew of images, sound effects, and effects video files, most of which have been used on official Ghostbusters merchandise and as part of the style guides for both the original movies and the 2016 parody remake. These were high-quality, print-ready, multi-layer files in .psd, .eps, .wav, .pdf, .mov, and .tif formats. Here's the blurb from the page to explain why they were so gracious to make these assets available to the fans.
Hi Ghostbusters fans and content creators! Over the past years, we have noticed and loved all of the amazing videos, art, stories, and more that you have created out of sheer passion for the Ghostbusters franchise. We wanted to say thank you and add some fuel to the fire by providing official source materials to help you create even more amazing Ghostbusters creations. You can explore the containment unit below that includes official Ghostbusters art, graphics, sound effects, 3D effects, and more! Let's see what you've got by using the hashtag #CreativeGB! Brought to you by Ghost Corps.
Being that I'm not graphics-proficient, I asked my compadre, Matthew Jordan to convert the images from the print-ready formats (.psd and .eps) to something more accessible to the average computer user, like me (such as .png or .jpg). I thought he could batch run them through one of his programs and have them outputted lickety-split. I thought wrong. Here's Matt to explain more...
Probably the most stunning thing is finding errors in one of the files. (I'm looking at ga_ca2.psd) Little dots towards the top going across. And a minute later I find more dots. All in the two base layers. I hope to god this was only a mistake for the website and not the whole campaign. There is a lot of money on the line, it would be BS to see this as the standard.

I must say this was one heck of a project. It turns out that really at the end of the day, you're are going to have to find someone else if you want the 4 large psd in actual size. I struggled at 3200 X 2--- size. The main image was made rendered at full res in jpg form. I then shrink them down and then made them tif files (to save them as transparent) as png's can't be in color setup cmyk (Photoshop won't allow me to change it to rgb either). I then cheated them into a blank png file in rgb by dragging them in. So yeah, it was a weird bitch. Had photoshop crash a large number of times while figuring out that it can't save those files as rgb pngs.

Had one computer freeze as well at the end. Mostly from over working it and running out of hard drive space (those things require many gigs if you want them in full size).

Weird little treasure I found in the one file, they had the video game version Logo in there in a turned off layer. Had a bit missing on the left side of the logo, but I fixed her up with the cloning tool. Both Slimers (one without any work, the other with a bit of work) have movable iris' so yeah if you want his eyes a different way it can be done.
Okay, so after a tremendous amount of work, Matthew made them into space-saving transparent PNGs. I then figured that I'd share the images by tossing them up on the Spook Central Facebook page as a gallery. Transparencies were lost, which is not a surprise, and no great loss for Facebook viewing. Unfortunately, the nicely formatted gallery description I included, turned into a big jumbled mess of text. I noticed Facebook doing this months ago, but I thought it was just a problem on my end. Matthew confirmed that it's one of Facebook's many screw-ups.

Since my gallery text was a mess, and since the original images are still available on Sony's servers (even though the Creative Assets page has been deleted), and because Matthew has made his transparent PNG conversions available on the Ghostbusters Wiki, I felt it would be best if I put in a little effort and wrote a Spook Central blog post to help straighten this all out and point you to everything.

Matthew deserves a BIG ROUND OF THANKS for going above and beyond the call of duty to do these conversions.

ORIGINAL FILES - Direct links to the files are in the list at the end of this post. PLEASE BE AWARE that these files are VERY LARGE! You will need over 2 GIGABYTES of space and bandwidth if you want to download them all.

TRANSPARENT PNGS - On the Ghostbusters Wiki, on the Ghostbusters Official Website article. For a VERY LIMITED TIME, Matt uploaded the entire set into this 413 Mb rar file. This file can, and likely will, be deleted without notice. For permanent access to the assets, visit the Ghostbusters Wiki.

PREVIEW IMAGES - On the Spook Central Facebook page.

GHOSTBUSTERS 1 & 2 ASSETS
GHOSTBUSTERS 2016 ASSETS
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The Real Ghostbusters Volumes 6 to 10 Sony 2016 DVD Review

PermalinkBy Paul Rudoff on Jan. 30, 2017 at 11:50 PM , Categories: Real Ghostbusters, Home Video
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Last year, Sony released 10 volumes of The Real Ghostbusters on DVD, which were completely different from The Real Ghostbusters: Complete Collection 25-disc DVD box set TimeLife released back in 2008. I already reviewed Sony's Volumes 1 through 5, and today I will review Volumes 6 through 10. Before I begin, it is important to note that, unlike the first five volumes, these volumes are currently NOT available in a box set. You can ONLY buy them individually, though I will be reviewing them as a whole.

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In Loving Memory of Joel Richard Rudoff (July 28, 1944 - January 20, 2014)

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