Roger Ebert and other film critics remember Stanley Kubrick and discuss his films highlighting his last film “Eyes Wide Shut”.
David A Price chronicles how writer/director Michael Crichton’s 1973 Westworld pathed the way for modern special effects by using “Pixelation” and developed by none-other-than John Whitney Jr. the son of John Whitney who introduced computers into the design of Vertigo.
Nearly every studio film at the multiplexes this summer will have been created, at least partly, by a computer. The digital origins of some effects will be easy enough to guess: starships and rocket-suited men in flight, giant fighting robots, ancient naval battles. Vastly more of them will be subtle enough to pass by the average moviegoer—casual, dialogue-driven scenes shot in front of green screens and placed into digital streetscapes, or wires and buildings digitally removed.
The rise of the pixel in cinema may feel like a recent development, but this year actually marks its fortieth anniversary. It began in 1973, with the release of a low-budget science-fiction film, Michael Crichton’s “Westworld.” The movie’s use of a digital effect for a total of two minutes—a now-routine process called pixelization, commonly deployed on Gordon Ramsay cooking shows to obscure a contestant’s cursing mouth—was the unlikely launching point of this revolution.
Crichton both wrote the script and directed the film. Inspired by the Disney theme parks, he imagined an adult vacation spot called Delos, made up of three resorts: Medieval World, which offered a fantasy version of life in thirteenth-century Europe; Roman World, which promised the “decadent” morality of the Roman Empire at its peak; and Westworld, which re-created the lawless frontier of 1880. For a thousand dollars a day, visitors lived their fantasies, interacting with characters of the period—in reality, robots programmed only to serve. As the film begins, two professional men in their mid-thirties, played by James Brolin and Richard Benjamin, are heading to Westworld for a bachelors’ adventure. A recorded female voice assures the new arrivals that the technology of Delos is “highly reliable.” Of course, it isn’t. Partway through the visit, the robots turn on the guests; the staff in the control room tries to halt the mayhem, but is rendered helpless by a power shutdown. A robot gunslinger, played by Yul Brynner, kills one of the men and coolly, relentlessly stalks the other to a final showdown. (If the plot sounds clichéd, it is only because its ideas were later excavated by the “Terminator” films and Crichton’s “Jurassic Park.”)
The New Yorker | Read the Full Article
It turns out that being creative also involves a healthy dose of dishonesty.
The first use of the U.S. Postal Service was to sell products that didn’t exist. Spam dominates global email volume today. Hoaxes and pranks have been ritualized in everyday culture. And yet, we tend to believe that dishonesty and fraud are confined to “bad people,” of whom there are far fewer than the rest of us “good people” — that immoral behavior, as social psychologist Philip Zimbardo puts it, is a case of a few bad apples in an otherwise good barrel.
Behavioral economist Dan Ariely belongs to the rare breed of scientists who are both actively engaged in empirical research, running all kinds of fascinating experiments in the lab, and keenly skilled in synthesizing those findings into equally fascinating insights into human nature, then communicating those articulately and engagingly to a non-scientist reader. That’s precisely what he has previously done in Predictably Irrational, in which he demonstrates through clever experiments that even our most “rational” decisions are driven by our hopelessly emotional selves, and The Upside of Irrationality, where he explores the unexpected benefits of defying logic. Now comes The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone — Especially Ourselves, in which Ariely asks himself a seemingly simple question — “is dishonesty largely restricted to a few bad apples, or is it a more widespread problem?” — and goes on to reveal the surprising, illuminating, often unsettling truths that underpin the uncomfortable answer. Like cruelty, dishonesty turns out to be a remarkably prevalent phenomenon better explained by circumstances and cognitive processes than by concepts like character.
Brain Pickings | Read the Full Article
Visual Effects guru and a man who has designed the template for Vfx in films, Doug Trumbull is a true genius. Known for his ground breaking work on Kubrick’s epic future forward film “2001,” Doug Trumbull is a fascinating man to listen to and certainly holds court when he speaks about his craft. The SOC presented a Technical achievement award in 2009 for Trumbull’s development of the Slit Scan process of motion picture cinematography.
Shane Hurlbutt offers some insight into how professional shows deal with lighting their day exteriors.
I have received many requests for information about how I light day exteriors. I thought I would break it down for you. Lighting day exteriors is as much about choosing the right time as it is about your manipulation of the daylight. Sometimes you can choose the time that you shoot. Many times, you are locked into a schedule that doesn’t necessarily work for your lighting approach. If it is not the right time, you have to go with it and do your best.
On Need for Speed, we have a location that takes us 2.5 hours to get there. The location should be shot in the morning, but because of the crew’s turnaround the night before, we cannot get there until 8am. Sunrise is 6am, so we do the best we can to work with it. You have to say, is the location worth it? This one is absolutely worth it. You compromise the light to gain the big picture, a location that the audience will be blown away by. You do not worry that the light is not exactly how you envisioned it. Making a film is about compromises. Period. If you don’t approach a movie this way, you are being a little naive. It is all about making those compromises and turning them into a positive, every time!!!
I use a variety of apps to educate me on where the sun is no matter where I am shooting on this wonderful planet. My first choice is Helios, but it is pricey. This is a very advanced program. I have not been able to figure out all of the uses yet because there are so many.
Shane Hurlbut | Read the Full Article
The minds behind Peep Show and Fresh Meat pick apart their creative process and give their top tips on writing successful comedy.
In the 40s psychoanalysis was all the thing. Hollywood mogul David O Selzneck pressured Alfred Hitchcock to use psychoanalysis as a driving plot point for a film. The result was Spellbound and who else could they turn to for crafting a bizarre dream sequence than the master of surrealism himself: Salvador Dalí.
Panasonic has developed a unique technology that doubles the brightness of color photography, by using micro color splitters instead of conventional color filters in the image sensor.
Unaired Woody Allen interview from 1971 for Granada TV in Manchester. Woody refuses to give a truthful answer to any question, yet continues the interview for nearly 40 minutes (perhaps longer, given that other footage aired).
A half hour documentary with Channel 4 from 1993 on controversial director’s youth, growing up in the early 60s and what made him such a polarizing figure in film.