Archive for February 11th, 2008

Entertainment bits

* What a stupid show “Terminator” is. So this guy had his house burned down and he lost his AI computer program that he was working for years. 2-3 weeks later (in the show’s timeline), he already had re-written from scratch the AI chess program and he was ready to compete at a Chess competition. Not only it’s not possible to write alone such a complex software “that learns” in 3 weeks, but even if he had done so, it would still be full of bugs and not ready for the competition. If the writers instead had said that the guy had a backup of the software in a safe location I’d believe them, but re-writing from scratch software in such a little time shows how the writers have no fucking clue what they are doing. It’s so fucking pissing me off having clueless people writing technology shows. You see, the people who watch sci-fi, are usually technologists and geeks. And that’s an audience that you can’t serve them shit. They’ll go elsewhere.

* “Prison Break” instead had a great episode tonight. Very intense. Too bad it will be canceled, I don’t think it will get lucky this time.

* Very interesting analysis from an MIT media professor about “Lost” and “Twin Peaks”. He claims that the puzzle factor of these series is what people want, and no matter how many people are crying foul and shout “give us answers”, in reality they don’t need answers, but even more deepen puzzles. From the moment you give them the ultimate answer that resolves the show, their interest is over for that show. This is what happened to Twin Peaks after the Laura Palmer murderer was revealed: the ratings went downhill. Not everyone likes puzzles, but everyone is intrigued by them, at least in the beginning. Because of this, such shows can lose as much as half their audience over the years, but the ones who will remain, will be fanatics.

* I’ve grown to hate John Locke. And on the upcoming “Lost” episode it will be shown what an ass he is, and that he doesn’t really know what the hell he is doing. Bleh.

* This is the story of Anonymous’ Los Angeles chapter against Scientology, in HD. I love their masks. “Remember, remember… the fifth of November…”

Buy a gray card

Gray cards allow you to set the right white balance, while at the same time they help the camera guess the right exposure, shutter speed, aperture and gain. Doing color correction in-camera with a gray card creates no artifacts & it’s more accurate that when using digital color correction on post. More information here.

While gray cards are mostly used indoors (very good to calibrate exposure on low light among other gains), you can certainly use them outdoors too if the light conditions are weird (e.g. snowy surroundings, shooting under shadowy trees, cloudy days). Buy an “18% percent” gray card for $4. The smaller ones (more convenient to carry, but not as good for outdoors) cost $2. I made a video to show off the capability.

Here’s how you use them:
1. Place the camera at the place you will be shooting from.
2. Place the gray card vertically (without an incline, facing at the lens) on the spot you will be shooting at. If outdoors, place it as far as you can, as long as it still fills the frame when you zooming-in to it.
3. Put the camera into the non-automatic mode, and select the “Custom white balance” setting. All Canon camcorders allow for custom white balance (even the cheapest ones), but most of the cheaper non-Canon cameras don’t have this feature. If that’s the case, then you can’t use a Gray card, you need a camcorder that’s more serious than a toy (sorry, I had to pick at JVC).
4. Zoom-in all the way to the gray card to fill the frame (nothing else should be shown in the LCD screen or viewfinder but a dark gray color). At that point, set the custom white balance (according to your camera’s manual).

That’s it, shoot using that setting and enjoy true whites that are not yellows or reds. If the lighting conditions change (e.g. you moved from a very shadowy tree to a less shadowy place, or if the sun changed position a lot, or if you moved to another room), you will have to redo the four steps above.