I Want My Old Flip Phone Back

My phone would never pocket dial.
When I ended a call, I was 100% sure it was over.
I could dial phone numbers without having to even look at the dialing pad.
My battery lasted 4 days, on average.
More than 70% of the chargers I encountered would fit my phone.
Service is $30 a month w/ unlimited US nationwide coverage.

I could text message just fine, assuming I was creative and didn’t have to write a novel.
I couldn’t “browse the web” with ease, though I did have access to email and maps in a limited capacity… so no emergency was too big for my phone to handle.
I couldn’t take super awesome photos… but I made sure my “real” cameras were never too far.

This phone is *not* a smartphone.

I’d even consider a text pager, if pager service was still $10 per month (how about, “less”)-

-but I digress…

In my Walmart online shopping cart right now, I see this phone is $24.85, including shipping. How much are these new iPhone devices?

Radial Menus

image via globalmoxie.com

Play games much? What’s your favorite way to choose your destination, toggle options, select items or swap weapons?

I prefer radial menus as the best way to turn “lists” of options into “branches” of option. Some say “touch means a Renaissance” for the radial menu and I agree! Unfortunately this leaves mouse users with the typical lists… which only get smaller and smaller with each increase in resolution. GAH!

I created a post on odforce.net about radial menus and how I’d love to see something like this in Houdini. Maya has something very similar that they call “Marking Menus”, which are great…  especially since they can be customized.

I’m a big fan of gesture based control as it helps eliminate mouse strain AND helps the digital artist stay more focused on the task at hand. I find lists to be very distracting, and I end up devoting too much energy into “searching” instead of “activating“. Radial menus create option gestures!

Speaking of gestures and radial menus, I just came across this update for the Leap Motion, where the artist is molding clay without getting his hands dirty. So much fun, though I’d have the weakest wrist of all clay sculptors. I can only imagine that UIs that are in development. Hopefully the big corps don’t pattent the ideas before they become widely available.

Efficient Cooking

I’ve been noticing more and more stoves with these new “radiant elements”, where the heating coil is embedded into the counter top, under a piece of glass, and wondering how efficient they are.  Are they more or less efficient than a standard heating element?  How about compared to gas?  What about when I’m boiling water, is it better to use an electric kettle where the heating element is right in the water itself.

These thoughts get fueled even more when I see inventions like the BioLite.

This is the old video that I saw two years ago, but it best demonstrates how this little efficient $129 camping stove works.

Now that you’ve seen that, you should see how you can now charge USB devices (camp with your phone often?). They also have larger scale models in Africa.

Next, we need to tackle this water problem. Oh! Wait! It looks like these water filters could help with that issue.

Budget Film Making with Gareth Edwards

A month back I was forwarded an interview with Gareth Edwards, the director of Monsters. In the interview he talks about making a feature film on a small budget. I haven’t yet found out the exact budget, but the $15,000 number has been thrown around.  I’ll spare my opinions on this exact number as there’s already plenty of debate that can be found online. In any case, I certainly believe it could have been pulled off for under $100k, which is still way cheaper than most films of this quality.

Gareth seems to have gained much of his visual FX experience while working for the BBC.  For example, while working on Attila the Hun, he locked the camera and used cycled animations from live footage in order to fill a battlefield with virtual cast of millions. Smart time-saving moves, for sure.

According to this interview, prior to Monsters, Gareth was having trouble making money as a director and he figured it was time to jump in and make a film on his own. He knew the gamble of going off on his own, but he says, “If you always put things off till it’s perfect, you’ll never do anything.”  Jumping in and “pissing” himself was what he knew he needed to do to progress his career. He feels like everything he had done as a director for hire was preparing him for this moment of creative freedom. The 48 Hour Sci-Fi-London Film Challenge was exactly what he needed to prove what he could do.

Gareth Edwards
Uploaded by SFLTV. – Classic TV and last night’s shows, online.

I’ve heard a quote from George Lucas, where he stated that his goal was to use computer graphics in order to put the paintbrush into the director’s hands. Gareth seems to agree with this dream…  and has apparently executed it, with the help of a 35mm adapter for his video camera and a laptop or two.  Gareth designed the creature himself, with thousands of sketches over the course of a year.  The cast consisted of himself, two actors (who were soon married, after shooting the film), two line producers and a sound guy. For the rest of the cast, he would film random citizens in the cities he visited, including his assigned armed bodyguards in Mexico.

First there was Neil Blomkamp’s successful District 9, and now there’s Gareth Edwards. Both are convincing me that I have to start putting some time into learning compositing. Visual effects compositing is the final line where the 2D image is created and the more you can avoid time-consuming 3D, the better.

Are you wishing you hadn’t missed the showing of the film? Don’t stress!! The Vancouver International Film Festival has another showing on Thursday, October 14th at 11am. However, you had better act quick and request that day off work before someone else does. 😉

My opinions on the film?  It’s a nice jaunt through central america while being chased by giant octupi. It reminded of Romancing the Stone, with more focus on the romancing. The effects range from subtle to not-so subtle. I enjoyed the film, as did everyone around me. Don’t worry, I didn’t ruin anything you won’t learn in the first 5 minutes of the film.

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