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The Fall of Traditional Entertainment Conglomerates 204

Advocatus Diaboli writes "We no longer live in the era of 'plantation-type' movie studios or recording houses. However large private companies still have considerable power over content production, distribution and promotion. Technology has been slowly changing this state of affairs for almost 30-40 years, however certain new technological advances, enabling systems and cost considerations will change the entertainment industry as we know it within 5 years."

Are 10-11 Hour Programming Days Feasible? 997

drc37 writes "My current boss asked me what I thought of asking all employees to work 10-11 hour days until the company is profitable. He read something from Joel Spolsky that said the best way to get new customers is to add new features. Anyways, we are a startup with almost a year live. None of the employees have ownership/stock and all are salary. Salaries are at normal industry rates. What should I say to him when we talk about this again?"

Comment Special vs. Visual (Score 1) 532

Obligatory pedantry:

Special Effects are practical: makeup, pyro, animatronics.

Visual Effects are what we think of as "CGI" which can include all sorts of 3D, 2 1/2 D and 2D imagery.

Ok, now that that's settled: I work in the industry. I have a rather VFX heavy film I spent the last year of my life on opening this weekend, in fact.

I miss practical sets. I miss DP's that can light worth a shit. I miss having somewhat original scripts (hell, I'll take a script that *wasn't* cobbled together from marketing research for a franchise/reboot) to work on. Most everyone in the biz are huge fans of Guillermo del Toro who has been championing a hybrid approach: CG augmentation of as much real stuff as possible.

That said... the best effects are invisible, or you're so engrossed in the story that you don't notice them. With the exception of films that are supposed to be stylized/fantastical/unreal, if you notice that you're watching an effect, I haven't done my job properly.

I'm tolerant of bad CG as long as there's a decent story. If you don't have a decent story or a somewhat original idea, you're wasting my time as a filmgoer.


Your Computer Or iPad Could Be Disrupting Sleep 351

Crash McBang sends in a CNN report on electronics and sleeplessness and asks, "So, what do Slashdotters do to get a good night's rest?" "More than ever, consumer electronics — particularly laptops, smartphones, and Apple's new iPad — are shining bright light into our eyes until just moments before we doze off. Now there's growing concern that these glowing gadgets may actually fool our brains into thinking it's daytime. Exposure can disturb sleep patterns and exacerbate insomnia, some sleep researchers said in interviews. ... Unlike paper books or e-book readers like the Amazon Kindle, which does not emit its own light, the iPad's screen shines light directly into the reader's eyes from a relatively close distance. That makes the iPad and laptops more likely to disrupt sleep patterns than, say, a television sitting across the bedroom or a lamp that illuminates a paper book, both of which shoot far less light straight into the eye, researchers said."

Comment Re:3D (Score 1) 145

Speaking of expensive parlor tricks...

About half of the stereo features hitting theaters this year will be last minute planar projection fake conversions in effort to jack up the ticket price. Offshore stereo conversion companies are sprouting up like weeks in the VFX industry currently.

So, you've got stuff like Up and Avatar that actually start driving demand for theatrical stereo, soon to be followed by an avalanche of headache inducing cashgrab.

The industry seems intent on sabotaging itself.

Aside: I'm a VFX artist these days, and I get to work with headsets and stereo monitors on occasion. Save your cash and preview depth with anaglyph glasses for short periods. The tech just isn't there yet for a working "3D" display that is easy enough on the eyes for you to last an entire workday. Maybe soon, but not just yet. But even then, the user won't have a director tweaking inter-occular depth etc to prevent strain.

Comment Re:Doublespeak (Score 4, Insightful) 400

Wow, got a flamebait in record time for that one.

No offense to the OGG crew and developers, but what you're not getting is that the battle is already lost. The future of web video isn't really in the browser. It's on low-powered appliances like XBoxes, iPhones, iPads, Playstations and the like. And that's now. People are already building libraries in h264 and divx because of this. It's an insurance policy against your media not becoming obsolete like VHS and DVD.

Divx just slides in because most devices will play it hardware assisted even though you need to install the codecs on a desktop.

Without hardware decoding on those low-powered devices, and the ability to play your media anywhere you damn well please with no software installs necessary and no transcoding required, you may as well not exist.

OGG's a fine set of codecs, but if I have to transcode out of it to play on anything but a desktop, basically, I have no use for it and neither does the consumer other than the idea behind it is a quite appealing one.

Comment Doublespeak (Score 1, Insightful) 400

Installs in Silverlight but doesn't require additional software?

Huh? That's full-on doublespeak.

I'm not sure that the words "standards" and "just works" mean the same thing to some folks. Developing an open source project that uses Silverlight as a platform, while admirable, is pretty suspect on the philosophical front unless there's an angle here.

Just like Adobe, MS wants Silverlight as THE web platform of the future too. And while some folks might deride Apple for lacking plug-in support of any kind on the iPhone/iPad, it's achieved more in the uptick of standards-compliant sites in the last few years than all the other guys combined.

Silverlight's as bad as Flash, long-term, for the web. Worse in-fact because it supports DRM out of the box and can't be cached locally. Yay for big media control and zero benefit for the consumer other than streaming Netflix sucking less than the competition currently. Now if they'd only do something about having decent stuff available to stream.

H264's patent encumbered, but is a supported, documented standard. Ogg will never take off. MKV files don't work on bloody anything reliably except VLC, even though they're theoretically an h264 variant. Then you have various other mpeg4 flavors, and that's pretty much it in terms of getting HD content out there at reasonable bandwidth.

We've been using wrapper plug-ins as a dirty, hacky path to web video since the launch of the web proper. Enough's enough.

So TLDR: no, no, no, no no

Comment Re:Adblock (Score 1) 197

I prefer not to use adblock extensions, personally. When a site crosses the line and starts getting in my face with talking / content-covering ads... say with close button trick-throughs... I pull up my activity menu in Safari (there are analogs for other browsers, or you can just comb the source code), and I just nuke the offending ad servers in my hosts file.

I've found that only a small percentage of the ad servers out there carry the nasty stuff (I define nasty as making noise without my consent or covering content and forcing a clickthrough) -- so generally just two or three hosts entries can clear you right up.

Comment Re:New and more disgusting DLC abuses... (Score 1) 452

No, I'm using the version 100% legit off of steam, purchased "standard edition" -- not "collector's".

They're making a sales pitch for DLC on launch week via the quest givers in-game... on the day of launch. There's a questgiver in your camp that gives you about 3 minutes of dialog tree before "you don't have enough bioware points" -- and another at a mountain pass.

One unlocks the only decent tank NPC in the game, while the other gives you a party chest and an upgraded base with vendors that alleviate the mana potion scarcity in the base game.

It's really, really, really sleazy.

Comment Re:New and more disgusting DLC abuses... (Score 1) 452

I've got to say that the two quest givers that I've run into so far who ask for real life money in order to take some of their quests are about the sleaziest thing I've ever seen in a game.

From what I understand, each of the initial DLC packs are fully integrated into the main campaign, with dialog, new characters, character interaction, etc.

That means more than likely that they stripped side quest stuff out of the core game and decided to sell two chunks as DLC, in effect making a $60 game an $85 game.

I'd be more upset if the game itself wasn't huge and really well done for the most part. I'm enjoying the hell out of the game, but DLC available at launch -- with in-game paywalls soils the experience a great deal.

If this was a "finish it in a single sitting" game like Fable that tried to pull DLC this aggressively, I'd be pretty irate.

That doesn't excuse the strategy that they're using, but it does soften it a bit because there's more than enough game there without the add-ons. I'm pretty sure I haven't seen a game this long since Baldur's Gate 2.

Comment Re:No coop or multiplayer? (Score 1) 452

The lack of co-op is likely due to the fact on tougher battles in the game (at least on the PC version), you'll quite literally need to pause every single round to micromanage your troops to keep them alive. The AI's good, but it's not particularly great at:

1. Not standing in fire
2. Spell interrupts
3. Healing intelligently / pre-healing / mana conservation
4. Positioning for backstabs and staying out of caster cones / dragon breath

Pausing isn't any fun at all in co-op, but I can assure you that the depth of strategy required for the combat system outweighs bolting on a multiplayer aspect for this particular title. It has the most punishing/unforgiving combat design I've seen in an RPG in many years... and I like it that way.

When I came across my first "real" dragon in the game (near some plot-related ashes), I must have reloaded that battle from scratch for around 4 hours before I beat it, pausing every 1/2 second each battle. That's no fun at all multiplayer.

If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error. -- John Kenneth Galbraith