Archive for October, 2008

Color grading of the week, Part 3

I tried to emulate the look of Metallica’s new music video. Most red colors stay viewable, but everything else pretty much crushes to yellow (except the sky which is more or less blue depending on the shot). These videos are very low contrast, so it’s very difficult to get them right with digital camcorders. You would need a RED or a film camera to get this look right.

Before

After

I’ve used Magic Bullet’s ‘Curahee’ template but with lowered contrast, color corrector had a gamma of 1500 with the midtones and high tones leaning towards yellow. Finally, an unsharpen mask of 0.200 with a radius of 0.100.

Gaming the system

How convenient.

A previously unknown singer, Lady GaGa, is now on the front page of Youtube’s most popular, with her music video “Poker Face”. It’s her third single. But very conveniently, that music video got up on the front page the day her album came out. If that’s not Universal gaming Youtube’s algorithms when it’s required to, I don’t know what it is. At least they don’t seem to abuse it constantly, so they are clear from Youtube’s radars.

Same goes for Intel btw. They released their new Atom dual core processors, and the accompanied chipset can only support up to 1 GB of RAM (for market segmentation reasons, obviously). This makes DELL’s new 12″ netbook completely and utterly useless. This 12″ netbook would have been my No1 choice to replace my 12″ Powerbook (which is pretty much unusable browsing the web these days even with Flash/JS turned OFF). Therefore, both Intel and DELL can eat my shit now. Here’s a hot one.

Bah.

The best of Madonna

I am a rock girl. But Madonna’s pop music is my weakness and always has been.

Now, you are probably thinking: “but her music sucks, it’s just boring easy-listening pop”. And I must say: not so. When you think of Madonna you probably are thinking of “Like a virgin”, “Material Girl”, “Vogue”, and “Hung up”. None of these songs are among my favorites though. The kind of Madonna music I like is the kind of music that was never released as singles, and so most people are not aware of it.

Here’s my top 10:

10. Gone
9. Fighting Spirit (unreleased)
8. Sky Fits Heaven
7. Mother and Father (ignore the actual video, acoustic version equally good)
6. Future Lovers / I Feel Love (Live version only)
5. How High
4. Lament
3. Paradise Not for Me
2. You Thrill Me (original, unreleased version of “Erotica”)
1. To Have and Not to Hold

All but one of these songs (“Lament” is older) are from the “third era” of Madonna, her electronic era (I musically categorize Madonna’s career in 3 major eras: the pop ’80-’89 era, the ’90-’97 weird sex shit era, and the electronic/disco of ’98-today). Interestingly, no song from her brand new album “Hard Candy” (review) makes my top 10.

Random Stuff, Part 26

* An interview with the person that should have been the president of USA: Mike Gravel.

* We were driving towards our usual sushi restaurant with JBQ one day and there were people on the side of the road picketing with the message “Yes to Prop 8 means freedom of religion.” Now, how is the allowance of gay marriage means no religious freedom is a mystery to me. Except if what these people really meant was: “I am a religious fanatic and I want you to be one too. I want the freedom of removing your freedoms”.

* Ubuntu’s Shuttleworth: “I don’t think anyone can make money from the Linux desktop.” Well, duh.

* I was recently made aware of Always’ “Extra Heavy Overnight Maxi With Flexi Wings” panty. Best product of the year. What took them so long to stop our nightmares?

* Beyonce is a very beautiful woman, who has a very good voice. And she radiates in a good way, seems to be a really good person. However, for the life of me, I just can’t stand her music. From all the major female pop singers today, she is the only one that I can’t understand the melody of her songs. In fact, in some of her videos, like “B-Day”, she dances and sounds ridiculously. Are there really people who buy that kind of music?

* MTV launched a new site that looks like HULU, but it only has music videos. And I ask you: what was the point of this site? Every single of these music videos and a hell even more than these can be found on YouTube. The only reason for MTVMusic to exist would have been if they had VGA, 480p or HD versions of the said music videos. But all they have is the same — if not worse — quality than Youtube’s. In other words, they threw a pile of cash in the fire. For nothing.

* I might close this blog soon. I am getting tired of it all. I feel tired of everything really, and so this might be the first thing to go.

Android

The Android invasion at Google’s campus. HD version, download & comments here.

The Happening

I am dumbfounded. 90% of the reviews and comments about M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Happening” movie were negative. I watched the movie tonight on our Blu-Ray and I found it to be a brilliant sample of art. I loved its atmosphere and the message(s).

The problem is that viewers (including critics, from what it seems) don’t think hard. They thought that the message of the movie was “nature taking revenge on humanity — be kind to the environment”. And so by having plants releasing toxins to kill people, viewers found that plot ridiculous. While the nature stuff is the visible “message” of the movie (and it’s not even proven in the movie that nature was the culprit, it’s just the No1 suspect), it also had a second message that could only be seen if you look at the signs the director gives you. And that message is “don’t be lonely, don’t fear to love, trust others”.

The director masterfully starts the movie in Central Park, and we later see that “the happening” is happening in the metropolitan area, which is where millions of people live. As the movie progressive, the heroes find themselves to smaller and smaller groups of people. In fact, through their panic, they start to think that the smaller the group they belong to (and lonelier they can be), the safer it is. But as we will see later with Mrs Jones’ death, this is not necessarily true.

Tell-tell signs about the “loneliness” message in the film is when Julian says “don’t hold my daughter’s hand unless you mean it”, the ring that changes colors depending on the emotion of the person that wears it (do we need a device to tell us what we feel?), and it’s very clear when it shows how lonely modern people are when the two heroes are communicating via the sound tube (which is a separatative kind of communication). Only when they overcome their loneliness and fears, start to trust each other, get together and show true love to each other, they become unaffected from the toxin. Mrs Jones died because, even if she was alone in the field and therefore shouldn’t have been affected, she had such a poisonous mind that she didn’t feel love for anyone. She was the epitome of loneliness. She didn’t trust anybody. In fact, Mrs Jones’ character is like the “bad boss” at the end of a computer game level. She was everything that’s wrong with modern society, even if she was living all alone far away from the society (a very artistic way to show that if you hate society for what it is and so you don’t contribute to it, you contribute to all that’s wrong in it, so nothing gets fixed in the end).

Basically, what the director wants to say is that our society sucks. But it’s not going to get fixed if we remove ourselves from it or from our loved ones. Fixing starts with the person closer to you.

Finally, it’s very possible that the “crazy” plant-owner guy and his wife lived too, although we don’t see that in the movie. If we have seen that, maybe it would have been more obvious to viewers what the movie is really all about. I believe that the director could have made a few things more clear for more bozos to understand, so I will take a point out of my final movie rating for his shortsightedness: 9/10.

I expect this movie to hit cult status in 20 years or so.

Why I hate the prosumer/pro market

This is why I hate it. Instead of giving you free firmware updates for your camera that you can easily install via USB, they ask you to send the camera to a service center and they charge you crazy money for the new firmware — that usually just fixes bugs that were there in the first place. The prosumer/pro market milks people like crazy, and it’s usually over-priced. I guess it’s the prerogative to make money, but I just don’t agree with such tactics. At least RED gives their firmware updates for free.

Android open sourced

Google’s Android is finally open sourced, and my baby’s code can be found in it. Here’s a recent git change that my baby did. How cool is that?

HV20s in the National Geographic Channel

The producer of a National Geographic TV show says that he used $150,000 cameras on the following police chase video, but if you look closely (look at 00:12), these are at least a bunch of HV20s mounted in the car. Their rolling shutter effect itself is giving them away too. Regardless, it’s great to see these little gems appear on TV. Discussion about it here.

In other filmmaking news, check this music video (password: andy), shot with the Nikon D90 DSLR. The best D90 video I’ve seen so far online.

UIQ is dead

Best news of the day. I have being blogging and reviewing for over 2 years now in various cellphone articles about how bad UIQ’s performance and UI was and is. Sony Ericsson said that UIQ “didn’t attract the operator, manufacturer or consumer interest needed to stop it from failing.” Well, how was it supposed to do that when consumers were ready to throw up on the phone with that appalling UI?

Update: Ooooh! Look at the fanboys! My blog post made them angry! Bwahaha!

Well, look guys. What I wrote above is what comes out of my heart. I don’t lie. I don’t try to make things sound better than they are just so I be more likable. I don’t care if you like me or not. I simply write exactly what I feel. Please be advised that I’ve owned not one, not two, but THREE UIQ devices over the last 2.5 years. The UI just sucked and I always regarded it as the worst of the major phone OSes. The UI felt like it was designed by 10 year olds. The usability simply suffers at all levels compared to most other touchscreen smartphones.

And you know what was the last beating UIQ took for me? Let me tell you. For a year now my brother in Greece was asking me for a touchscreen phone. I told him I had the P990 (with the latest firmware in it and some additional commercial software in it too) and that I would give it to him. He couldn’t wait for it. In August, at last I reunited with my little bro and I gave him the phone. Two days later, his reaction was this: “Eugenia, you wouldn’t be angry if I give the P990 to my friend Alex, would you?” I asked him “why?”, and he said that he would have preferred either Windows Mobile or PalmOS. And get this, my brother was already familiar with UIQ (he used to own a UIQ 2.1 phone in the past), so this wasn’t a bad initial reaction on his part. He just didn’t like the interface.

This was the last nail as to how unfriendly UIQ was. At this point it became apparent that it wasn’t just my idea anymore, it was real, and it was spreading. Others hated its suckiness too. UIQ just didn’t inspire anyone to use it religiously more than a few hours after the initial curiosity. The UI just never felt right. And so I write about it. Deal with it like grown up men, instead of how Ares, owner of the UIQblog, deals with it. He wrote on his blog that I “need serious treatment”, and he earlier wrote on my own blog that I am a retard. Yep, that was his insightful reply, that I am a retard. My guess is that Ares hates seeing his little pet blog project going down because Sony Ericsson is killing the product. It pisses him off. And he takes it on me. It’s easier that way instead of facing the truth about UIQ I guess.