Technology

Pixar Character Logo

If there’s any outfit that celebrates the team sport aspect of filmmaking, it’s Pixar. What began as the Graphics Group at LucasFilm has evolved into its own behemoth of wonder and magic. Not just pioneers of technology, they’ve sought to invent in order to put stories out into the world – using computer animation for the ancient purpose of spinning tales and crafting characters. Led by Ed Catmull, the production house (which was bought by Disney in 2006) boasts luminaries like John Lasseter, Brad Bird, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich and many more. There newest film, Brave, is in theaters this week, so here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from RenderMan and company.

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Ridley Scott on Alien Set

Of the directors we’ve covered in this feature, Ridley Scott might be the most forward. He’s brash an unorthodox, and when speaks, you get the sense that he threw his filter in the trash years ago. At this point, brass buttons are well-deserved. Alien, Blade Runner, Black Rain, Thelma & Louise, Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven, Black Hawk Down, and a popcorn bucket-full more prove the man’s vision as a storyteller. A movie fan from a young age, Scott first found success as a commercial director. His first flick, The Duelists, was hailed at Cannes but made it to few screens beyond. It was a science fiction journey featuring a seven-member crew woken from stasis to explore a strange signal that made him a major name, and this weekend he dives back into that world with Prometheus. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a bloke from South Shields.

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Criterion Files

David Cronenberg’s Videodrome is the Network of participatory media. Where Sidney Lumet and Paddy Chayefsky’s celebrated 1976 masterpiece rather accurately predicted televised sensationalism and infotainment, Videodrome’s ideas about media’s dissemination and our relationship with it continues to reveal its incredible foresight nearly thirty years after its initial release. Just as Network is now hardly satire, Videodrome seems less and less a work of science fiction. Sure, digital technology has brought many of Videodrome’s ideas into stark realization more so than the analog technology depicted throughout the film (a disconnect literalized by Criterion’s clever faux-Beta DVD packaging of the film), but the film’s many astute (and foreboding) observations about our evolving relationship to media technology is nothing short of profound.

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While our darkened theaters are under threat of text messaging hordes, an app called YEAH is attempting to alter the way we watch movies at home. The concept is born out of the hope that movie fans will love watching classic movies with Pop Up Video-style trivia, polls, behind-the-scenes interviews and (since it’s all done through Facebook) the ability to share what you’re watching with friends and strangers. Essentially, it sounds like watching a movie and the DVD special features all at the same time. It’s an interesting pitch, but I’ll let YEAH try to sell itself with this video:

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? Because if you send text messages or use Facebook, someone is making a profit off your information. This short, in the vein and style of last year’s Stuxnet: Anatomy of a Computer Virus is as informative as it is shocking, and as educational as it is visually impressive. Perhaps it’s even more important on a day like today, or maybe it’s the kind of information we should all be armed with no matter what. What will it cost? Only 3 minutes. You’ve Got Time For More Short Films

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We all know the story. In a panic to find a spectacle that could provide a bit of magic and a higher ticket price for the cinema, the studios turned again to 3D. Thanks to technological advances and a long vacation from the third dimension, it all seemed fresh and new again (even if the bulk of it was put together with rushed post-conversion). Whether you believe it’s just a fad that’s on the way out or believe it to be grand revolution of the art, time is the only one who has the final word on it, but for now the truth (like in all things) probably lies somewhere between those two extremes. And it’s a lack of extremes that make Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese the wisest public speakers on the subject. Here’s Spielberg at Comic-Con last year: “I’m certainly hoping that 3D gets to the point where people do not notice it, because once they stop noticing it it just becomes another tool and an aid to help tell a story. Then maybe they can make the ticket prices comparable to a 2D movie and not charge such exorbitant prices just to gain entry into a 3D one, with the exception of IMAX, where we are getting a premium experience in a premium environment, but to show a 3D movie in a similar theater in a multiplex next to another similar theater showing a 2D movie. I’m hoping someday there will be so many 3D movies that […]

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Why Watch? The future was three years ago, and this short film can prove it. As a promotional tool for the video game Deus Ex: Human Revolution, director Rob Spence (who goes by the name Eyeborg after a shooting accident left his eye replaced by a camera) decided to find out where technology stands today in relation to the science fiction of the game by meeting with some real-life cyborgs and the scientists behind the tech. This slick documentary, clocking in at a brisk 12 minutes, will astonish. What does it cost? Just 12 minutes of your time. Check out Deus Ex: The Eyeborg Documentary for yourself:

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Why Watch? Because we should challenge how we define a film. Most of the shorts featured in this column are either easy to spot as stories or completely experimental. Even when a documentary short is in the spotlight, it tells a clear tale of people doing things. This short, is none of those things. Stuxnet: Anatomy of a Computer Virus is an informational film made entirely of voice over narration and motion graphics. It’s distilled knowledge about a new weapon that might be threatening a governmental computer near you, but it raises the same questions that all documentaries do. How accurate is it? How well can we trust the information? Isn’t it delivered in a sleek and shiny enough way that we buy it wholesale? It’s beautiful, compelling, and it does tell a story, but it’s nothing like most short films. What does it cost? Just 10 minutes of your time. Check out Stuxnet: Anatomy of a Computer Virus for yourself:

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Thanks to companies like MasterImage, we will soon be able to watch 3D movies without having to put on those bulky, pesky glasses. They’ve come up with something called “cell-matrix parallax barrier” technology, which sounds like some sort of Lawnmower Man or Johnny Mnemonic-esque immersive Internet world, but is actually just a display screen that projects 3D images. They’ve already started licensing out their work, as Hitashi has used it to create the Wooo, the first ever glasses-free 3D mobile phone, and if VP and GM of 3D display Roy Taylor has anything to say about it, we could be seeing MasterImages’ 3D displays all over the place in coming years, including in cars and airplanes. “We weren’t looking at (airlines and car makers) initially,” says Taylor, “We were focusing on smartphones and tablets, but there turned out to be strong interest.” While cycles of production on cars aren’t quite as fast as cell phones and tablets, and production on new airplanes is even slower, it could be a year or so before we start seeing these 3D screens showing up in luxury automobiles, and a couple years before they’re installed by full service airlines.

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As the only literate Reject, it’s my duty to find the latest, the greatest and the untouched classics that would make great source material for film adaptations. I read so you don’t have to. As we all know, robots will eventually take over the planet and use our bodies for the precious fuel that they need to survive when they’ve run out of old people’s medication. As humans who love movies, it will be of paramount importance to document that rise so that robots will have something to watch and laugh at. It’s true. Documentaries need love, too. However, when we think of finding source material for a movie (as this column does weekly (stop laughing)), it’s natural to assume that movie is going to be fictional. After all, it’s based off something, right? Fortunately, there is still investigative journalism going on out there in the big bad world of media that can and should act as inspiration for the documentarians of the world. All it takes is a fascinating story. So what’s the fascinating story here? “Mind Vs Machine” is the first-hand account from writer Brian Christian of the time when he had to convince a panel of strangers that he was a human. He had to make them believe he wasn’t a computer or risk being a part of one more battle won by our future robot overlords.

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Ray Kurzweil believes that by 2030, machines will have attained something like a consciousness and that distinguishing between human and robot intelligence will be nearly impossible. This isn’t the logline for a science fiction thriller or a gimmicky Jeopardy! appearance. It’s the honest belief of an incredibly intelligent inventor, technophile, and habitual vitamin popper. You’ve got to keep your body strong if you want to live forever. So, yes, with his belief that humans may one day be able to live eternally by merging with machines (and having nanobots swim around inside our blood), Kurzweil seems pretty out there. The new trailer for Transcendent Man – a movie about Kurzweil and his ideas – seems equally as out there. Fortunately, it also seems at least mildly fair-handed unlike most documentaries these days. Check it out for yourself, and hurry up. You’re not going to live forever, you know:

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Criterion Files

Landon and Adam usually have the lock down on all things Criterion, but lately I’ve been inundated by the important films of old times and new. First it was the package I received from my good friend Travon who took advantage of the Barnes and Noble 50% off sale and his last few days before heading back to Iraq to fight for our freedoms to send The Red Shoes, Paths of Glory and House my way. And, no, there’s nothing ironic about an American soldier sending me movies from the UK and Japan. That’s what this country is all about. In addition to that bountiful harvest, I was also invited to blather on inanely for the Criterion Cast – the podcast whose title is incredibly self-descriptive. That Criterion Cast gang and I were talking Videodrome – one of the best films of all time featuring a chest vagina. Of course, the conversation covered our fears of technology, the future-casting from Cronenberg, and the likelihood that we’ll all grow new VHS-compatible sex organs (hint: we will). Even with my inclusion, the episode is a fascinating one, and I highly encourage you to check it out over at the Criterion Cast site. Then bookmark the site to further bask yourself in the warm glow of film love with future episodes.

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Like many of you out there in the world, we here at Reject HQ are always on the go. Mostly going to and fro between the couch and the refrigerator, but on the go nonetheless. And even those shortest of distances (don’t even get us started on the walk to the bathroom), we like to stay connected. One of our favorite little tools for a while has been the Pulse News Reader. It can be found in the app stores of your iDevices (iPad, iPod and iPhone) and the Android marketplace for your robotic Google phone. With that in mind, you can imagine our excitement when we found out this week that we are now a featured news provider in Pulse’s app. Now you (and many others like you) can see our content in an even sexier mobile version. We’re told you can also read other movie websites as well, a fact that hadn’t even crossed our minds until this very moment. We would urge you to check it out, if you’re into being hip and cool. If you’re not, do it as part of the anti-hip and cool movement. You’ll show the man that you can’t be controlled. Either way, just get on it. [Pulse News Reader]

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Robert Fure types at a blistering 134 words per minute as he eviscerates the lack of accurate typing in films. Yeah. Seriously. Typing. This is about typing.

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Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Tolerate 3D.

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With the launch of the iPad coming soon, I have to ask a fundamental question about Apple’s latest gadget: Will it toast your bread while you slice it?

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A sci-fi epic seems like the logical choice, but an intimate character study would have been a far better choice. Hear me out.

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hulu-iphone

It looks as if the folks at Hulu are once again looking for ways to keep me from being productive. Now I might be able to ignore work and watch old episodes of Doogie Howser, M.D. on my iPhone.

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sxsw09-onditimoner-weliveinpublic

Part one in our one part series with director Ondi Timenor examines the world of the internet, the proliferation of technology, and the way our lives are being changed as we continue to live more and more in public.

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culturewarrior-performances

For better or for worse, filmic performances are often determined by an unavoidable cultural weight as well as increasingly mediating technological factors that go largely unacknowledged or unrecognized by critics or audiences as an actual part of the performance.

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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