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Comment An idea from Brazil comes to real life. (Score 1) 397

You can't play in our garden if you allow some Archibald Tuttle-like character mess around with the inside of our products. Even if he does fix for less what we will fix for much more.

I am so sick and tired of this "no user serviceable parts inside" attitude of companies nowadays. Especially when they take it to the "no technically-capable person serviceable parts inside" level and deliberately break something which, once you've paid for it, is not theirs to be breaking.

Comment Re:97% odds against either winning all flips fairl (Score 2) 634

True that. I have twice rolled three twenties in a row on a twenty-sider. In 35 years of game play. 20^3=8000, so I don't have a hard time believing a 1 in 64 chance.

(The first time, I was a guest player. The regular players demanded to inspect my dice, and when they found out they were normal dice, they were stunned.)

(The second time was with my regular group. They made me wash my smelly feet, and when I returned to the table, I rolled three twenties in a row. The stuff of legend... )

Comment Re:Physical CDs ... (Score 1) 105

That's because people over 40 remember when the record industry model was that you pay once buy a recording and can listen to it until you wear it out.

Now they're trying to change the model into pay per listen. To us onion-belters, it's just wrong. But my 20-something nieces don't think twice about it.

Comment 14 years ago I answered questions on /. about VFX (Score 4, Interesting) 232

It's fun re-reading the questions and my answers on Slashdot back in 2002.

Back then somebody asked how to get into the field -- I said it was a bad idea (and it was at the time!) -- and perhaps that's true again. I left the biz a couple of years ago.

That said, as people note about Mad Max: Fury Road just about every shot of complex films is a VFX shot. Mad Max had insanely complex, aggressive, and unique practical effects, but there were still 2,000 VFX shots -- and there had to be!

When I started in VFX back on movies like Terminator 2 I told my friends that the one of the big points of VFX was safety. You can support stunt people with heavy cables, and remove them in post -- or replace the heads of stunt people with the lead actors so that they won't be in danger. This is still true, and will always be true.

One of the most interesting films nominated for VFX this year (not mentioned in the article) was the spectacular Ex Machina. Hundreds of beautiful VFX shots, that were a vital part of the story. Among the things that makes that movie special is that the VFX team was integral to the design of the film -- the budget was so small, that they had to work together with the director, set designer, etc to come up with a way to tell the story beautifully and inexpensively. The VFX budget was only $1.5M, probably 2% of the VFX budget for Avengers: Age of Ultron (not nominated!) The VFX Oscar winner a couple of years ago, Gravity was similar in that respect, the VFX team helped plan, and then shoot, every shot -- and then shooting the movie was incredibly quick. Perhaps this will happen more in the future of VFX, I hope so -- as it allows the VFX team to participate more intimately in the filmmaking.

Another thing that's not mentioned in the article is that a lot of filmmaking is about cost. VFX is these days often a heck of a lot cheaper than practical effects. Not just the cost of building things, but the time it takes to shoot them (a typical movie these days costs on the order of $300K/day)

CG VFX are not dying, not by any means. They may get to be more seamless (I hope so!) and more about telling the story and less about flashy hoo-haw. Every significant budget movie has a huge VFX component, and that's just not going to change.

Again, reading my questions and answers from my relative youth were interesting -- and foreshadow a lot of what happened in the last 14 years. One of the questions, though, was curiously wrong. I had thought that patents would rip through the industry, as it did to early effects work back in the 60's and 70's, but that didn't happen. What did happen was the studios have found ways to convince foreign (mostly) governments to finance VFX work in those countries, this has pretty much wiped out a huge portion of VFX in the US.

A bit of sadness is that my old company Hammerhead Productions that I started (and discussed in the article) is closing down after 21 years...but most of the questions and answers bring a smile. Thanks Slashdot!

Comment Re:Morphing (Score 1) 232

The best morphing ever done was Michael Jackson's Black or White video. It was also one of the first pieces that was done, starting about four months after I wrote the morphing tool.

The thing is, it took about a woman-year to do the work, it was really a tremendous amount of detailed effort. Once it was done, and was so close to perfect, nobody wanted to spend that kind of money again.

Comment Re:What the heck is a 'threat to humanity'? (Score 1) 235

I took him to mean total extinction, with no specific prediction of how or when.

Forgot the attribution, but someone summarized it as "every day, we get closer to the day when one person can wipe out Humanity."

It's related to the Fermi Paradox... where are all the other civilizations out there? One answer is that they all went extinct before they could grow big enough to detect. And many of them may have done it to themselves.

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The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness. -- John Muir