The Art of the Film Score

Most people don’t really grasp just how important the sound and the music are to making a film a complete emotional experience. I think the original Star Wars is the poster child for this: without the wildly creative sound design by Ben Burtt and the rousing orchestra under John Williams the film comes out feeling rather flat.

Don’t believe me? Watch this first trailer, which was assembled before the score was done and has only some of the sound effects in place. (It also proves that the marketing department at Fox had no clue how to sell this thing!)

Here Nerdwriter gives you a seven minute explanation of how Howard Shore used variations of leitmotifs in his score for Fellowship of the Ring to support the development of the story and relationships of the characters in it.

If nothing else, it may give you an excuse to watch it again.

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Filmmaker’s Get Away With A Lot

When I was studying film production back in the 1980s, one of the things my teachers pointed out repeatedly was just how much you can get away with that an audience probably won’t notice. That was before IMDB, Wikipedia, and the thousands of obsessive web sites that delve into the most minute details of the carpet in a Stanley Kubrick, film, so theoretically audiences are more alert and aware of when the director is trying to slip something past them.

But…maybe not as much as we think. This post on FXRant points out something about the Death Star trench run at the end of Star Wars IV that most people hadn’t noticed. But even more interesting is the note at the end, comparing the computer rendering of the Death Star R2D2 presents to the Rebels…and the actual Death Star they attack. There’s a discrepancy there I never noticed, and it exists for the most mundane of practical reasons.

All in all, an object lesson about film: establishing a landscape through editing can be harder than it looks.

The Death Star and the Final Trench Run

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Other Hidden Figures in “Hidden Figures”

The limits of technology and the limits of people combine to create a problem. And people were the solution.

Hidden Figures and the IBM 7090 computer

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Why democracy is going to hell, in a nutshell

I think most people – not the technically literate people, or the socially aware people, but most people just going about their lives – really understand just how pervasive the filter bubble is. This article reflects on that, but I would also strong suggest reading Eli Pariser’s “The Filter Bubble”.

More and more Americans are using Facebook and Twitter as primary news sources. If you’ve spent any time on them, you will immediately notice that the noise-to-signal ratio on those services is unbelievably high, fed with a mix of sources ranging from the legitimate to completely fake news into a sausage casing of dubious origin and expiration date.

How social media is crippling democracy, and why we seem powerless to stop it

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Journalism vs. Trump-Somebody is doing it wrong, and it ain’t Trump.

There’s a lot of hand wringing over the idea that Trump will kick certain journalists out of the White House Press Corps, or even kick them all out entirely.

I think he should do it. Then, just maybe, journalists will start acting like journalists and stop kow-towing to an egomaniac who keeps threatening to take away their access. As John Marshall states in the linked article below, the really good stories – the ones that blow the lid off of corruption, lies, malfeasance, and general incompetence do not come from the White House. They come from outside reporters doing their job.

Journalists unearth factual information and report it. If Trump wants to turn America into strong man state, journalists should cover that story rather than begging Trump not to be who he is.

The Case for Not Being Crybabies

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The Emperor is naked.

Let’s be clear about this: there are multiple competing plans in the GOP establishment, but not one has traction. There is no replacement for the Affordable Care Act, no matter what they tell you. It’s vaporware worthy of 90’s era Microsoft. “Just wait for the next law, it’s gonna be great and solve all your problems.”

The solution to this mess is not a PR campaign. It’s legislation. But that takes real work involving other people.

Still no ACA replacement plan, but GOP ads say it exists and is awesome

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You Cannot Be Serious

iPhone app purchasers may sue Apple Inc over allegations that the company monopolized the market for iPhone apps by not allowing users to purchase them outside the App Store, leading to higher prices, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Thursday.

There are a lot of problems with the Apple App Store, but high prices isn’t one of them. In-App purchases have destroyed the value of most games (turning them in manipulative little bandits designed to keep you inserting coins and pulling the handle) while most developers of productivity software can no longer set an asking price sufficient to cover their costs without being accused of gouging customers.

Prices have done nothing but race to the bottom over the last several years.


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Don’t read the comments…

But do check out the new art.

Why Shepard Fairey’s inauguration protest posters won’t have Trump on them


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Andy Ihnatko explains why I (mostly) like Apple while providing a lesson in journalism.

Anybody who tries to use “Fake News” as a magic wand of Controversy Dispersal isn’t taking the issue of “trust” seriously. Or they’re trying to hide one hell of a huge problem.

“Fake News”

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2017: Why I quit Facebook, Part 2

In my previous post here I discussed why I was quitting Facebook, from the perspective of my objections to the site’s business practices and privacy concerns. These are external concerns that you either agree with or disagree with.

Today I want to talk about my personal reasons, which have nothing to do with Facebook itself and have everything to do with me and issues with social media.

It is hard to roll this up into a convenient sentence to display in bold below, but I feel as if I have to, and that right there is part of the problem.

If time and attention are the most valuable things in life, social media is the biggest threat to both.

Your time and attention are valuable commodities. It has always been true that you need to spend them in order to accomplish what you want, but in the connected information age it has actually become something commodified. Advertisers will pay to capture your attention, and as a result our daily lives are constantly under assault by competitors vying for your eyes and ears.

Naturally, you don’t actually get the money they’re spending for those things. The intermediary does – and that’s Facebook. You aren’t the customer, you are the product they sell to their real customers, the marketers.

In the industry people talk about making a site or a service “sticky”. To be more ugly about it every web site and social media service is trying to be a roach motel for your attention – you check in, but you never leave. They pander…I mean “personalize” to try to be more attractive to you.

So we end up firing up Facebook first thing in the morning, last thing at night, and keep it open or continually check it throughout the day. It is not addictive by accident. And you can tell if it is addictive if it ends up being the first thing you do when you have a free moment and you’re bored. Or you start to feel FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) – something is going on out there that you aren’t in on.

That isn’t an accident. That’s the “business plan”.

Now add in the near real-time nature of Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram, or whatever. It isn’t just important that you know, it becomes critical that you know right now!!!

But what is so important that you have to be in the loop and constantly up to the minute?

  • Your friend got a new puppy.
  • A politician said something stupid.
  • Somebody won an award.
  • Outrage! Get your outrage here!
  • Look at this cat/stupid human/music video.

This is symptomatic of a larger problem in society. At least that first thing on the list is personal and you might actually care. If they’re actually somebody you’re friends with. But even then, would knowing tomorrow, or the next day, or the next week really make much of a difference?

I don’t have a terribly good argument or answer here, but I have read more than one article about someone who gave up on Facebook and they rarely had something negative to say about it. If you are using that as a communication vehicle with your friends and family, there are other options that are more private (even if less convenient or timely).

However I can elucidate two benefits I hope to realize. First, I want to wean myself off Facebook as a pacifier when I have free time and nothing to do. By eliminating this distraction I have more time to devote to the things I’ve been putting off for so long because I’m too tired or don’t have the free time or whatever other excuse I can come up with. Second, I want to devote my time to things that reward the investment – reading long form journalism rather than meme photos, or even just spending a minute in line just being bored standing there in the real world.

Post Script

I want to be clear that my reasons here are my own – they say more about me and my personality than they do about the merits or deficiencies of Facebook itself. I also recognize that Facebook in particular is of value for many people. I don’t argue that against it.

What I suggest is that you take a long hard look at Facebook – what you put in and the value you get out of it – and decide for yourself if it is worthy of your time and attention.

A Better Argument

Cal Newport explains it much more eloquently. Then again, that is his job.

Quit Social Media


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