Movies

How To Design Robot Overlords For "Robot Overlords" 16 16

Hallie Siegel writes: Ever wonder how they make robots look so awesomely real in movies? Visual effects expert Graham Edwards goes behind the scenes with the makers of Robot Overlords to take you through the development of the robots in this movie, from script development and sketches, to filming and post FX. Really cool to see how these robots come to life.
Government

Can New Chicago Taxes On Netflix, Apple, Spotify Withstand Legal Challenges? 186 186

Mr D from 63 writes: Today, a new "cloud tax" takes effect in the city of Chicago, targeting online databases and streaming entertainment services. Residents who stream movies and music from companies like Netflix and Spotify will now need to pay an additional 9% tax. This also applies to Chicago businesses that pay to use databases online. Chicago expects to collect $12 million a year as a result of the new tax ruling. From the 24/7 Wall St. story: "Also worth noting is that the city’s tax ruling in both cases avoids the issue of whether there is a close-enough connection (nexus, in legalese) to require providers like Netflix or others to collect either tax. International law firm ReedSmith weighs in on this point as well: '[O]nce the Department begins to audit and assess customers located within the city, many of those customers are likely to demand that providers collect the tax going forward. As a result, many providers will likely feel the need to register to collect the taxes, despite lacking nexus, and despite having strong arguments against the Department’s expansive interpretation of its taxing ordinances.'"
Movies

"Jobs" vs. "Steve Jobs": Hollywood Takes Another Stab At Telling the Steve Jobs Story 262 262

theodp writes: Didn't like Jobs, the 2013 biopic about the life of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs starring Ashton Kutcher? Maybe you'll prefer Steve Jobs, the 2015 biopic about the life of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs starring Michael Fassbender. "Steve Jobs is a tech visionary, total dick," writes Esquire's Matt Patches in his mini-review of the just-released Steve Jobs trailer. So, is inspiring kids to become the "Next Steve Jobs" a good or bad thing?
Movies

Movie Composer James Horner Dies In Plane Crash 66 66

necro81 writes: James Horner, the Oscar-winning composer for the soundtracks of dozens of movies, died Monday while piloting his aircraft in California. Horner, who had a long collaboration with directors James Cameron and Ron Howard, was behind the music for major blockbusters like Avatar, Titanic, Braveheart, Apollo 13, and A Beautiful Mind. Other scores notable to the /. crowd include Star Trek II, Sneakers, Deep Impact, Aliens, Searching for Bobby Fischer, Willow, and *Batteries Not Included.
NASA

Color Movie Made of Pluto-Charon System 41 41

VernonNemitz writes: Today NASA released a color movie of Pluto and its largest moon Charon, as the New Horizons probe approaches its July 2015 rendezvous date. "It's exciting to see Pluto and Charon in motion and in color," said New Horizons principal examiner Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) at Boulder, Colorado. "Even at this low resolution, we can see that Pluto and Charon have different colours - Pluto is beige-orange, while Charon is grey. Exactly why they are so different is the subject of debate," Stern said.
Transportation

Privately Owned Armored Trucks Raise Eyebrows After Dallas Attack 609 609

HughPickens.com writes: Manny Fernandez writes in the NY Times that the scores of military and police-style vans, trucks and cars offered for sale on Craigslist and eBay have raised concerns for some law enforcement officials, particularly after the Dallas attack on a police headquarters. Officials say the vehicles appear to be legal for the most part, so there is little they can do. Jeff Funicello, for example, is selling his black 1975 GMC armored truck on Craigslist. The body is armored, and the windows are bulletproof. It has sliding portholes to point rifles from and a sprinkler system inside. Long ago, it transported money, and it was once the target of a shootout in the 1980s. Of course, people have been driving reinforced cars long before the Dallas attack on a police headquarters. But the celebrities and executives who install bulletproof windows and other types of armor on their vehicles often do not want it noticed. Celebrity clients generally demand that the exteriors of their luxury armored vehicles look normal so they blend in. However those who buy and sell armored vans want people to look. And the popularity of apocalyptic movies and television shows has put a new twist and added a macabre cachet to such vehicles "This is America," says Funicello. "I should be able to have a howitzer or a bazooka if I want one. If I wanted to buy a fire truck, I could."
United Kingdom

Jimmy Wales: London Is Better For Tech Than "Dreadful" Silicon Valley 410 410

Mickeycaskill writes: Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has praised London as a tech hub, saying its cultural assets make it an ideal place to do business and superior to Silicon Valley as a place to live. “I meet people around London and they ask ‘when do you go back to San Francisco?’ assuming I’m here for a few days, but I live in London,” he said at the launch of Tech.London. “There’s always this bit of British self-deprecation about ‘oh well, things are so great in Silicon Valley’. But I can tell you, things aren’t that great in Silicon Valley. London has all these incredible advantages of a tech scene, but it’s also a place people want to live. Nobody wants to live in Silicon Valley – it’s dreadful out there. London is this incredible cultural city, it’s at the crossroads of the world. In the US you have San Francisco for tech, Los Angeles for movies and Washington for politics. In London you have all these things. It’s a great place to do business.”
Networking

Cuba's Answer To the Internet Fits In Your Pocket and Moves By Bus 78 78

HughPickens.com writes: Susan Crawford reports on "El Paquete" (the package), Cuba's answer to the internet, an informal but extraordinarily lucrative distribution chain where anyone in Cuba who can pay can watch telenovelas, first-run Hollywood movies, and even search for a romantic partner. The so-called "weekly package," which is normally distributed from house to house contains the latest foreign films a week, shows, TV series, documentaries, games, information, music, and more. The thumb drives make their way across the island from hand to hand, by bus, and by 1957 Chevy, their contents copied and the drive handed on. "El Paquete plays to Cuban strengths and needs," writes Crawford because Cubans are great at sharing. "And being paid to be part of the thumb-drive supply chain is a respectable job in an economy that is desperately short on employment opportunities." Sunday the "weekly package" of 1 terabyte is priced at $ 10, then $2 on Monday or Tuesday and $1 for the rest of the week.

The sneakernet is still in use today in other parts of the world including Bhutan where a sneakernet distributes offline educational resources, including Kiwix and Khan Academy on a Stick to hundreds of schools and other educational institutions. Google once used a sneaknet to transport 120 TB of data from the Hubble Space Telescope. "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of magnetic tapes hurtling down the highway".
Movies

Adam Nimoy "For the Love of Spock" Documentary On KickStarter 43 43

New submitter Yohannon writes: In November of 2014, Adam Nimoy, son of Leonard, began talking with his father about creating a documentary regarding the late actor's most iconic role for potential release on the 50th anniversary of the premier of Star Trek. With the actor sadly passing in late February, the project has become more of a celebration of Leonard Nimoy's life as a whole. To fund the project, Adam has turned to KickStarter to raise the relatively modest 600 thousand dollars (US) to complete the documentary.

[Full disclosure: I am the husband of one of the models Nimoy used for his "Full Body Project", and she might be interviewed as a part of the documentary; However, cutting room floors being what they are, even virtually, that's not a guarantee she would actually be IN the doc.]
Youtube

Ghost Towns Is the First 8K Video Posted To YouTube -- But Can You Watch It? 181 181

Iddo Genuth writes: 4K videos and movies are still far from common and now 8K seems to start making its appearance online. A few days ago, what might be the first 8K video entitled "Ghost Towns" was published on Youtube and you can now watch it for yourself in its full 7680 × 4320 pixel glory — that is if you happen to have access to a 8K display (or projector).

The video was created by cinematographer Luke Neumann who used a 6K EPIC DRAGON camera using some advanced and complex techniques such as shooting in portrait orientation and then stitched the video together in Adobe After Effects. Some shots simply scaled up by 125% from 6.1K to meet the 7.6K standard and handheld stuff was 6K scaled up by 125% and sharpened up.

Youtube is now offering an 8K option and according to Google: "8K video has been supported since 2010, but that labeling for 8K video (the 4320p/8K quality setting like pictured above) was added "earlier this year — but presumably there was noting to view — until now...
Businesses

Bell Media President Says Canadians Are 'Stealing' US Netflix Content 408 408

iONiUM writes: Today the Bell Media president claimed that Canadians are "stealing" U.S. Netflix, saying the practice is "stealing just like stealing anything else." She went on to say that it is socially unacceptable behavior, and "It has to become socially unacceptable to admit to another human being that you are VPNing into U.S. Netflix. Like throwing garbage out of your car window, you just don't do it. We have to get engaged and tell people they're stealing." Of course, I'm sure the fact that Bell Media profits from Canadian content has nothing to do with these remarks.
Advertising

Netflix Is Experimenting With Advertising 318 318

derekmead writes: Netflix is experimenting with pre-roll and post-roll advertisements for some of its users. For now, it's just pitching it's own original programming. However, many are concerned that they plan to serve third-party ads, but the company says they have no plans to do so. They told Mashable in a statement: "We are not planning to test or implement third-party advertising on the Netflix service. For some time, we've teased Netflix originals with short trailers after a member finishes watching a show. Some members in a limited test now are seeing teases before a show begins. We test hundreds of potential improvements to the service every year. Many never extend beyond that."
Movies

Tron 3 Is Cancelled 205 205

Dave Knott writes: Tron 3 won't be coming to a theater near you. Disney had been developing a sequel to Tron:Legacy since the movie, made for $170 million, grossed $400 million worldwide. But now they have chosen not to move forward with a third installment in the sci-fi series, sources say. "Disney has had strong success with its live-action properties recently, including Maleficent and this year's Cinderella, which earned $527.4 million worldwide. But it recently had a stumble with the $180 million live-action film Tomorrowland, which underperformed at the box office this past weekend with a $33 million U.S. debut."
Media

Android, Chromecast To Get HBO Now 39 39

An anonymous reader writes: Google's I/O 2015 conference opened with a surprise announcement: that Chromecast, Android TV, and other Android devices will soon be able to offer HBO Now. "The announcement marks the end of a 7-week exclusive that Apple had on HBO's stand-alone streaming and on-demand video service," reports Digital Trends, and it also further weakens the exclusivity of cable TV packages. "Traditional TV subscriptions are slowly starting to slip," one newspaper reports, "as more people watch online video." Other online streaming sites are already confronting the popularity of HBO's "Game of Thrones" series, with Netflix already experiencing a 33% dip in their online traffic during the new season's online premiere and Amazon rushing to discount their "Game of Thrones" graphic novels, and the turmoil seems to be continuing in the online video space. "Shortly after the premier of the new season, HBO Now seems to have taken the top spot when it comes to internet traffic," reports one technology site, "causing a huge dent in Netflix's attempt to make it to the top."
Google

Cute Or Creepy? Google's Plan For a Sci-Fi Teddy Bear 102 102

HughPickens.com writes: Time Magazine reports that Google has designed and patented an "anthropomorphic device" that could take the form of a "doll or toy" and interact both with people as well as tech gadgets echoing the "super toy" teddy bear featured in Stephen Spielberg's 2001 movie AI. This could be one of Google's creepiest patents yet — especially if movies like "Chuckie" still give you nightmares. The patent filing diagrams a stuffed teddy bear and a bunny rabbit outfitted with microphones, speakers, cameras and motors as well as a wireless connection to the internet. If it senses you're looking at it, the fuzzy toy will rotate its head and look back at you. Once it receives and recognizes a voice command prompt, you can then tell it to control media devices in your home (e.g. turn on your music or TV). According to the patent filing: "To express interest, an anthropomorphic device may open its eyes, lift its head, and/or focus its gaze on the user or object of its interest. To express curiosity, an anthropomorphic device may tilt its head, furrow its brow, and/or scratch its head with an arm. To express boredom, an anthropomorphic device may defocus its gaze, direct its gaze in a downward fashion, tap its foot, and/or close its eyes. To express surprise, an anthropomorphic device may make a sudden movement, sit or stand up straight, and/or dilate its pupils."

The patent adds that making the device look "cute" should encourage even the youngest members of a family to interact with it. But Mikhail Avady, from SmartUp, said he thought it belonged in "a horror film", and the campaign group Big Brother Watch has also expressed dismay. "When those devices are aimed specifically at children, then for many this will step over the creepy line," says Avady. "Children should be able to play in private and shouldn't have to fear this sort of passive invasion of their privacy."
Canada

Canadian Piracy Rates Plummet As Industry Points To New Copyright Notice System 224 224

An anonymous reader writes: Canada's copyright notice-and-notice system took effect earlier this year, leading to thousands of notifications being forwarded by Internet providers to their subscribers. Since its launch, there have been serious concerns about the use of notices to demand settlements and to shift the costs of enforcement to consumers and Internet providers. Yet reports indicate that piracy rates in Canada have plummeted, with some ISPs seeing a 70% decrease in online infringement.
Star Wars Prequels

Learning About Constitutional Law With Star Wars 121 121

An anonymous reader writes: In an upcoming paper (PDF) for the Michigan Law Review, scholar Cass Sunstein draws on Star Wars to make a couple key points about how constitutional law evolves. He writes, "Human beings often see coherence and planned design when neither exists. This is so in movies, literature, history, economics, and psychoanalysis—and constitutional law. Contrary to the repeated claims of George Lucas, its principal author, the Star Wars series was hardly planned in advance; it involved a great deal of improvisation and surprise, even to Lucas himself. Serendipity and happenstance, sometimes in the forms of eruptions of new thinking, play a pervasive and overlooked role in the creative imagination, certainly in single-authored works, and even more in multi-authored ones extending over time. ... The misdescription appears to respond to a serious human need for sense-making and pattern-finding, but it is a significant obstacle to understanding and critical reflection. Whether Jedi or Sith, many authors of constitutional law are a lot like the author of Star Wars, disguising the essential nature of their own creative processes."
Sci-Fi

On the Taxonomy of Sci-Fi Spaceships 90 90

An anonymous reader writes: Jeff Venancio has done some research that's perfect reading for a lazy Saturday afternoon: figuring out a coherent taxonomy for sci-fi spaceships. If you're a sci-fi fan, you've doubtless heard or read references to a particular starship's "class" fairly often. There are flagships and capital ships, cruisers and corvettes, battleships and destroyers. But what does that all mean? Well, there's not always consistency, but a lot of it comes from Earth's naval history. "The word 'corvette' comes from the Dutch word corf, which means 'small ship,' and indeed corvettes are historically the smallest class of rated warship (a rating system used by the British Royal Navy in the sailing age, basically referring to the amount of men/guns on the vessel and its relative size; corvettes were of the sixth and smallest rate). ... They were usually used for escorting convoys and patrolling waters, especially in places where larger ships would be unnecessary."

Venancio takes the historical context for each ship type and then explains how it's been adapted for a sci-context. "Corvettes might be outfitted to have some sort of stealth or cloaking system for reconnaissance or spec ops missions; naturally it would be easier to cloak a smaller ship than a larger one (though plenty of examples of large stealth ships exist). In some series they are likely to be diplomatic vessels due to their small size and speed, particularly seen in Star Wars, and can commonly act as blockade runners (again; their small size and speed makes them ideal for slipping through a blockade, where a larger ship presents more of a target)."
Star Wars Prequels

Rediscovered Lucas-Commissioned Short "Black Angel" Released On YouTube 121 121

eldavojohn writes: Youtube now offers Black Angel, a short film shown in UK theaters before ESB. What was once thought lost is now found; enjoy. This may be the best half-hour you spend today, even if you must "set your clocks back 34 years," as writer and director Roger Christian advises. (Christian is also known for directing 2000's Battlefield Earth .)
Piracy

Film Consortium Urges ISPs To Dump Ineffective "Six Strikes" Policy For Pirates 186 186

An anonymous reader writes: The Internet Security Task Force, a group of businesses working to protect content creators and consumers from the negative effects of piracy, has called for an end to the Copyright Alert System, saying the anti-piracy initiative is not only ineffective but actually makes things worse. The group suggest that it be replaced with a new system based on Canada's Copyright Modernization Act. Mark Gill, ISTF chairman and President of member company Millennium films, says "We've always known the Copyright Alert System was ineffective, as it allows people to steal six movies from us before they get an educational leaflet. But now we have the data to prove that it's a sham." The Copyright Alert System (CAS) is set to expire early July.