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Comment The Dam Busters (Score 1) 194

Go watch "The Dam Busters" a great film that gives a detailed account of how an individual inventor started with skipping rocks on in a test tank to and got to the deployment of a new kind of bomb which reeked havoc on the dams of the Reich.
Like all films, it condenses and simplifies, but it makes an effort to explain the science and show the unexpected and tortured path to success. The inventor has an uphill battle against the establishment, but he makes his case, and once the ball gets rolling (no pun intended) the bomber pilots also have their part in developing the complete weapons system.

"The WInd Rises", a film who's hero is a pioneering aeronautical engineer, could have had focused more on the technical challenges and triumphs of aircraft design. Every airplane, especially the Zero fighter, has a great story to tell, but Miyazaki held back out of a fear of alienating the perceived wider audience.

Comment The Most Magical Years (Score 1) 210

Were 1977-1980

George, constrained by a reasonable budget, gave us just enough. A deftly spare sketch of an entire universe. I started drawing, model making, and animating. Others started writing, painting, costuming, and composing. The true value and measure of Star Wars is that it re-kindeled the imagination of a generation. This amazing film got us doing and thinking. Of late, it has become a fundamentalist religion, with cannons, dogmas, sects, and rebellions. This is proof of the power it taps into, Use that power to create the future, not morn the past.

Yes, it would be lovely to have the original film back. Somewhere, somehow, somebody deep in Disney/Fox/LucasFilm has their hands on the 1977 CMY B&W separations. This is the only proven archival photographic material. Hopefully they have been cleaned and scanned to 4K. God knows what's happened to the audio tapes by this time.

When the agents and lawyers have circumscribed their pound of flesh (and maybe after a few more creators have died or sold out) the film will be restored. They usual marketing ballyhoo is: "See It As The Director Intended" Rather ironic in this case.

Comment Evidence To The Contrary (Score 5, Informative) 70

I had a chance to hear David Stork present his counter arguments to the 'Secret Knowledge' theory expoused by David Hockney and Charles Falco. He was focusing on Van Dyke, who's work is not as objectively realistic as Vermeer. His two main pieces of evidence were:
1. If you attempt to re-create the perspective in the a Van Dyke painting in the computer, it never quite lines up with spacial reality, even accounting for the distortions of the lenses or mirrors which might have been used to project the or image the scene.
2. If you put a capable artist to the task, they can create a highly realist scene, with better geometric accuracy than the 15-16th century artists using no optical aids whatsoever.

Vermeer is definitely a standout. I don't believe that any of his contemporaries were producing work remotely similar to what he was doing. So I almost believe he might have had something up his sleeve. It is know that he took a really long time to complete a painting. I wonder if he could have used optical techniques out in the open, and it would have been so unusual that others wouldn't have even understood what he was doing, and so not think it worth noting it down.

Check Out the counter-arguments at :
(Warning: drawings of naked people done without optical aids)

Comment Service Life for Digital Cinema Projectors? (Score 1) 236

From TFA:
..... Last year, Vincent replaced his five 35 mm projectors—which had been running smoothly since they were installed in 1957—for about $70,000 each........
Ya' wanna bet those 70K digital wonders aren't going to have a service life anything near 56 years? However I have to say the digital is image is hands down superior. I particularly appreciate the steadiness and lack of apparent flicker. I believe in some case the existing xenon arc lighthouse that was in place for the film projectors can be repurposed for the digital unit. I don't know the whole picture (sic) of how the brightness and throw distance compares to a similar film installation.

Comment Skilled Artists Help Explain Reality (Score 4, Interesting) 108

Yet another demonstration of how an illustration by a skilled artist can explain complex structures, mechanisms, and phenomena that cannot be readily photographed. Even computer rendering rely on modelers, animators,and lighters who can take messy, chaotic 3D scans and mocap data and clean up it , analyze and stylize it into a form that shows what's really vital. DaVinci's high accuracy renderings also serve as a prime example to refute David Hockney's outlandish claim that renaissance artists could not have achieve their results without the aid of optical projection tools.

Comment True Tech Greats Pay Attention to the High End (Score 1) 556

To earn a lasting place of in the pantheon of legendary technology firms, Apple should absolutely keep in the pro game.

Toyota supports a stable of motorsport and racing teams. Eastman Kodak is still a major name in motion picture imaging. The HP of old build their business on test, measure, and medical gear. Corning is in your kitchen, and in the lab. Sony headphones are on every head in studio/production/post

How can you claim your dogfood is really that good unless you let the top dogs take a taste?

We're in an amazing time where the damn near the best ever computers, cameras, sound gear, and shoulder fired missiles are available to just about everyone to get their hands on. I pay attention to what pros really use for their tools of choice. (Motion - who the heck uses Motion over After Effects?) Except for shoes - I can lace on those Air Jordans and still have no hope of sinking a free throw.

Comment The Show Was Produced at D1 Resolution (Score 2) 267

Most of TNG was shot on 35mm film, and negative was immediately transfered to D1 [720x486] All of the editing and visual effects compositing was done in D1.

I saw a little of the motion control filming for the show, and heard one story (don't know if it's true) that for one particularly tight deadline, they processed the VFX footage at a one hour photo place, since it was just headed straight for the pin-registered Rank - it didn't have to be perfect.

There ain't that much more actual resolutions to recover. I would be surprised if the film negative was even archived.

That being said, imaging technology and BluRay storage and playback might help bring out the best of what's there on the original tapes.

Comment I Hacked together a Foot controller in 1998 (Score 1) 123

I hacked together a 3 peddles deal that was wired directly into a PS-2 mouse. Saved my hands when I was doing hours of 3D modeling. Drove my neighboring cube buddies crazy with the endless clicking. This was 1998, and I got the idea from a guy who did it at least three years earlier. In 2008 I bought an off-the-shelf 3 paddle USB foot input from a place called Fentech. This new device mentioned here might have directional control that will slew the mouse using four arrow peddles. Similar devices have been available on the assistive technology market for quite a few years.

Comment I Personally Experienced this and Complained (Score 1) 178

I went to see 'The King's Speech" (PG version) at the AMC in (undisclosed Southern California Suburb) Most decidedly and mercifully NOT a 3D presentation

The preshow commercials were running a little dim. At first I thought this was just the 'video' projector running the HD commercials before the show. I took a peek up in the booth and sho' nuff the polarizer assembly for the 3D is parked right in front of the cinema projector lens. It's a big rectangular glass in a sturdy frame - you can't miss it. I go and mention this to ticket taker up front, and I see some of the ushers poke their nose in theater - not the booth. No dramatic improvement.

It's not even as if this projector was bouncing between multiple movies. Is it too much to have someone check the rig - just once - at the start of the day?

Comment Digital Met Film - And Won - For the Moment (Score 1) 532

As someone who was fortunate enough participate in cinematic CG as it evolved to dominate film making, I've given this a LOT of thought and have come to a few conclusions:

1.LESS IS MORE: Absolutely true, not having enough money seems to always lead to tighter, more exciting, more engaged film making.

2. MIX IT UP: In the pre-computer era, you would always mix models, matte paintings, optical composites , and full size sets so that the audience's eye-brain wouldn't catch on to the weaknesses of any single technique.

3. TRUE MAGIC: My grandfather who worked on the original 'Fantastic Voyage' told me that for some shots the blood cells were Cheerios. Look carefully at Thunderbirds, Capt. Scarlet, etc and you'll recognize all kinds of household items which masquerade as ships and structures of that imagined future. Doug Trumbull recently revived paint mixing techniques from 2001 to create a swirling cosmos for a modern astronomy digital HD film. There is true alchemy in taking ordinary things and painting, cropping, and perhaps filming in reverse or up-side down to turn them into something else entirely. Cloud tanks are WAY more fun than running fluid simulations. Al Whitlock and some degree Peter Ellenshaw were masters at in-camera effects for perfect composites. See Coppola's "Dracula" - done entirely with in-camera effects. You have to PLAN these shots carefully to make them work.

4.TOO REAL: It struck me watching 'Voyage of the Dawn Treader' that everything is too real. This has been the holy grail of film making and particularly computer VFX. But this was a kid's fantasy (with deeper meaning) Everything about the ships, the swords, the locations, the costumes, the monsters, the spirits, was so fully material, that I was getting antsy about all of the make believe story stuff. How did we have battles without blood and nasty casualties? How did we get from point A to point B with no sensible navigation? Where the hell do people go to the bathroom? If you're going to give me absolutely real - I start wanting ABSOLUTELY REAL. Referring again to traditional matte painting - the best are very rough, just enough to trick you.

5. DIGITAL MET FILM - AND WON When we were struggling to render a few frames of a shiny box, a few people had the vision to see that digital imaging could make whole movies. I don't think that we quite envisioned that they could truly create alternate realities. Most people have no idea that most of what their watching is synthesized from nothing. No set, no model, no camera.

The true leverage is that now an unlimited number people distributed in time and space can contribute to the creation of an image. In the past, only so many people could build, photograph, an act in a film frame. Now, if need be, a thousand hands around the world can do their part, all pre-planned, orchestrated, and combined into an assembly line of dream-forging. If it doesn't feel real, it's because at some level it isn't.

The tactile, textural, visible film image is surrendering to the cool controlled perfection of the digital image. We have won the battle for reality. The next battle is to reclaim our humanity.

Submission + - 'Flying Pasties' Promise to Beat Airport Scanner ( 1

dynamator writes: These guys claim to have a stick on product that will mask your naughty bits from those TSA backscatter x-ray scanners. They claim that they will hide your privates, and show up with messages or symbols such as peace signs or happy faces. Some doubt that this product actually works. What if it does? How will the TSA react? The fun is just beginning.

Submission + - National Security Letters challenged, man ungagged (

An anonymous reader writes: For six years, the FBI has barred a New York man from revealing that the agency had ordered him to hand over personal information about clients of his ISP. Finally allowed to speak, Nick Merrill joins us in his first broadcast interview to talk about how he challenged the FBI’s use of national security letters. We also speak with Connecticut librarian George Christian. He and three other librarians also sued the US government after receiving a national security letter demanding information about library patrons. One of the clients of his ISP at the time was the Democracy Now! daily TV/radio program, hosted by Amy Goodman, who reports on this.

Comment Re:Age Test (Score 1) 599

Ah yes - about 10 thrilling seconds of Jenny. That was the first bit of screen nudity I saw in a movie theater. Even better, it was my first industry screening at MGM. I still have the souvenir copy of American Cinematographer with the lifeclock on the cover. Logan's Run is one of the few films that might actually benefit from a remake. The book is amazing - people were only allowed to live to 21. In the words of Tom Lehrer - "When Mozart was my age, he had been dead for two years"

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