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Comment Re:Stargate Lesson (Score 1) 304

I didn't work it on it directly (though I got to help out on some of the mecho-morph shots in Stargate), but my software was used a lot in Contact. That also was one of my favorite shots in the film, and a perfect example of something I noticed and people I was watching with didn't. "Did you SEE that? What? She opened the cabinet from the opposite side of the mirror! You're an idiot." That kind of stuff.

Another favorite scene was the long, "continuous" sequence where Ellie is driving in from the radio telescope array and then runs into the building, up the stairs, and into the control room and you can see the dishes out through the window. Since they couldn't shoot inside that building, there is an "invisible cut" when she opens the door and then they transition to a set, with the dishes composited in through the windows. Excellent! There are a bunch of effects shots like that, and Forrest Gump is FULL of them. I think my favorite effects shot in Gump was when Lt. Dan is on the floor on New Years Eve after falling out of his wheelchair. He shifts his legs around and gets back up in the chair, the entire time with that spool table in front of him. But when they shot that scene that table was never there, because his legs would have hit it. They did the same thing with the side of the boat when he swings around and jumps in. An entire section of the side of the boat was removed so he could do that in a "natural" way. Love that stuff!

Comment Re:Stargate Lesson (Score 5, Interesting) 304

I've been writing software for the visual effects industry since 1992, and software I've written was used extensively in both Stargate and Forrest Gump (among hundreds of others). Having gotten into digital film post production since the beginning, I've always had a keen eye for visual effects, especially the "invisible effects" that my software was used heavily for. I would go to movies with friends and occasionally exclaim "wow, did you SEE that?" when clearly they didn't think anything "special" had happened. I once overheard a lady complain during Forrest Gump that it was a shame they made that poor actor with no legs run around and stuff for most of the movie on fake legs - he must have been very uncomfortable. I'd routinely watch a movie twice in row - the first time to check out the effects and the second time to actually "watch the movie".

As the quality of visual effects has increased, especially their exponential use in invisible effects, it is quite a bit more difficult to "see" effects in most movies these days. I still keep an eye out for bad composites (matte edges, grade matching, DoF/angle matching, grain matching, etc) and unrealistic CG, but I'm always really happy at the end of many films where I forgot to look for effects at all and just get sucked into the movie. Sometimes I'll just say "that movie SUCKED. But the visual effects were AWESOME!". It's been fascinating to watch (and be involved with) the evolution of visual effects over the past 25 years.

Comment Re:You will pry my Sound Blaster (Score 1) 62

They did - I mentioned that they intercut code to do sound with other processing, so sound effects had somewhat "tinny" sounds because it could only "play" a few ms of sound at a time, then let the CPU do other things, then played more sound, etc. There was no threading or specialized sound hardware to do both simultaneously.

Comment Re:You will pry my Sound Blaster (Score 2) 62

Back in the era of the original IBM PC and its clones (I had a Sanyo MBC-550, which had upgraded graphics from the IBM and could do *8* colors at once, at 640x200, instead of just the usual 4), the PC speaker had to be pulsed directly by the CPU to make any noise. Pulse it at 440hz and you have middle A, etc. While it was making noise, the CPU couldn't do anything else. To make music or sound effects you kind of had to split up whatever sound you wanted so the CPU had a chance to "do stuff". There was a magazine for the Sanyo at the time where someone had written some assembler code (that you could call from BASIC) to make the CPU make any pitch for a specific duration. I wrote a sequencer based on that code that would call the function with .128s "pulses", leaving time to monitor for key-presses so you could change the pitch. Then I got an Amiga and everything changed!

Comment Multiple layers? (Score 0) 89

Are they already designed using multiple layers? I'm no photovoltaics expert, but with 20% efficiency per layer couldn't they combine 5 layers to achieve "100% efficiency" per window? Seems like with enough windows a building could theoretically get all of its power from solar - at least on sunny days.

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