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Comment What's going to happen? (Score 2) 440

People aren't looking very far ahead. Immediately all the GOP leaders said that they won't confirm a nomination, and many have asked Obama not to make a nomination. On the other hand, Obama immediately said that he will make a nomination. So, that's likely to be the first public thing to happen.

Obama will likely pick somebody with impeccable credentials, but more importantly, a toughness to survive 11 months of vitriolic attacks -- because he's going to insist that the nominee maintain his or her determination to be confirmed. If he nominates somebody who pulls out after a few months, that would be devastating to Obama and the Democrats. And while that might limit the number of nominees to 10% of what they would be in normal (or, perhaps, historic) times, Obama will find somebody. It will likely be somebody who isn't strongly politically polarized.

And the GOP will immediately insist that they won't confirm him or her. Little question about that. That's when it gets interesting.

Obama will likely use the fact that the GOP Senators are blocking a reasonable candidate to attack them, and likely attack the ones who are at most risk to lose their elections this year. If Obama can make these senators look more like jerks -- and I think he probably can -- then things may change.

I think that the most politcally reasonable thing for the GOP to do would be to vote on the nominee, and just vote him or her down. Obama can probably nominate three or four people during the next eight months, the GOP taking a few months to evaluate each one would be typical and easily defensible.

I don't like it, but that's what I think will happen.

Comment Re:6178 acres? (Score 1) 289

This is in California, where the land is probably 10x as valuable. Also about 10 square miles of space, maybe 5 square miles of solar cells. Another three of four square miles of solar cells 5 miles ESE of this spot.


This is desert. Deserts will be covered on solar cells within 20 years.

Comment Re:Serious question (Score 1) 1310

Slashdot supported Unicode for some time in the old days. Then someone figured out that they could leave a dangling RTL marker in a comment and reverse the rest of the comment section. Rather than trying to sanitize the Unicode the Slashdot team took the nuclear option and just stripped everything down to 7 bit ASCII. Now there is nobody left who feels qualified to touch the code anymore and the problem has festered for over a decade.

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.

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