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Well, it seems that it is indeed a fantastic time to be interested in the Manned Orbiting Laboratory. We are beginning to see more and more new documents and first hand stories of the people who made the MOL come out of the “Top Secret” shadow. As has happened with several notable 1960′s government programs over the past few years, the MOL is finally old enough that people can start talking about it. This week Dwayne Day released a new article revealing many tantalizing new details about the craft and its camera. This appears to be the evidence required to finally settle the vertical vs. horizontal debate, unless they changed things later than these documents! It’s maddening sometimes…
As new documents are released, our picture of what the MOL astronauts were training to do becomes more clear, and honestly it was a very ambitious and somewhat dangerous mission. If they had flown the MOL, I’m not sure it would have gone smoothly- there were so many unknowns about human spaceflight at the time and the station was jam-packed with new systems. But that is the kind of things that good stories are made of
And yet, big important things about the program are impossible to get a definitive answer on. Case in point: did the camera on the MOL point out of a hole in the side or down at the Earth like a telescope? As you’ll see in that link, there is very solid evidence for both options, and nobody seems to be able to say which is the true final design.
“Why does it even matter!?!” I hear you say. Simple- if an astronaut is sitting in the Gemini B at the top of the MOL, what does he see out the window? The answer to this question is not just a matter of historical accuracy, it’s important to the story telling. If it is a ‘side shooter’ like the spy satellites that preceded it, then he’d be looking out at the majesty of the Earth as it glides underneath him. If it is more of a telescope like the Hubble that followed it then he would be gazing up into the incredible depth of space, at all of the places that mankind has yet to visit. At times he might even have a front seat view of the Moon, unobscured by the distorting effects of our atmosphere. Depending on what he can see out of the windows, the direction of his thoughts and his mood might vary from an introspective look at where he came from and who he left behind to flights of fancy about where we have yet to go.
For various reasons I am going with the Hubble theory, until someone steps forward with something definitive to prove otherwise. So you see, research for a project like this is more than just ‘trying to get it right’, it has a very direct affect on the narrative!
Our plans are based on the following information:
Now here is where you guys can help us. What do YOU think the MOL looked like? Do you know something we don’t? If you had to build this set, what would you do differently than what we are already planning? And most importantly, fellow space nerds- what kinds of systems would they have on board? What sorts of controls would the 12 equipment racks house? Chime in by commenting below, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Here are some of the better images we’ve gathered so far in addition to the ones in previous posts, for reference:]]>
This week’s update is a little thinner because the progress we are making now is in the one area I am not going to be blogging about: the plot. Yes, it’s story time, and while it is coming along fantastically, I cannot really share very much about it. The basics of what we are going to film remain the same- 2 men stuck in space on a secret mission. While the script work is in progress, the research is winding down somewhat and the focus is moving along to funding and preparations.
The planning for the interior of the MOL is shaping up, with basic ideas being laid down for how we will approach both the construction and the filming. We are going to be simulating a zero gravity environment, so there are a lot of big considerations that we have to juggle. The walls all need to either be “wild” (easily removable) or contain access points that we can use to sneak a camera or some rigging through. It is still to be determined exactly what techniques we will be using to fake weightlessness, so far it is looking like the set will be built in several pieces at different orientations. Some vertical, others at an angle or even lying down sideways. As the set building gets started, I will do a much more in-depth look at the technical approaches we are going to be using to make it all look real.
For the Gemini we are exploring all of our options. The capsule in Fresno is really great, but definitely not complete enough to film in. Our concern is that driving everyone up there to dress it with all of the panels and fittings required to look real would cost as much as just renting or building a custom setpiece here in LA and saving the travel. But it is definitely still an option, and the Folks at the Fresno Discovery Center have been fantastic to us so far. Here’s some pictures of it, should you ever be near Fresno you should go see it!
If one of you has some sway with the California Science Center, maybe you can help us convince them to let us crack the airtight seals and use Gemini 11 ;)
We’ve had some progress on several other fronts, but they are still too tentative to talk about, so I’ll save them for a later post. For now, go watch Astro Spies if you haven’t already, it’s a great little doc, full of very inspiring ideas.]]>
Progress on the MOL project is picking up nicely, a lot is going on and a lot more still needs to be done. We are still deep in the research/story side of things, so most of the interesting things that we have done relate to that. Here’s the highlights:
Upward and onward,
This is the first of many updates on the newest project we are working on, henceforth referred to as “MOL”. It’s a working title, definitely not the real one, so don’t get attached to it
The goal is to make a short film, aiming for a 10-15min running time, about two military Astronauts in crisis on an orbiting space station. The seeds of this idea came from a documentary from NOVA called “Astro Spies”, viewable here. Our story will take place in an alternate timeline from the real history of the Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) – in our version the program was not cancelled, it was just pushed into further secrecy, and our film will tell the fictional story of the disaster that really ended the MOL program.
It’s going to take a lot of hard work, careful planning, and the generosity/support of a wide community of friends, family, and fellow filmmakers and space nerds to pull this off. We are scouring the world [wide web] right now to find information on the MOL, and to find available resources to create a mockup of the interior. The real program is still mostly classified, so there is not a lot of info, but we are finding a few choice pieces of information as we go. The above image is my favorite so far, and the only photo we have found of the MOL interior.
Come back for a lot more info soon; this thing is really only just barely getting started and there are a lot of updates coming up. If you want to get involved, drop a line in the comments here or email/twitter me, we are certainly looking for help on this one.
Here we go!]]>
Those who know me well have heard me mumble about a “Mars Project” over the past few years. I was slowly and carefully outlining a massive production that would follow the first manned mission to Mars. I had the project well detailed, having done my research (I watched something like 80+ documentaries, films, and TV shows and read countless books and articles on the topic of space exploration) and talked it through with a lot of people much more experienced in Space matters than I. I was carefully building a network of contacts, advisers, and allies to help actually put this idea into production, and it was really starting to get some movement. Then this happened:
Yeah. Those who have heard my pitch can agree, Mars One is almost verbatim what I was going to make, only they want to do it for real. Real trip to Mars trumps fake every single time. So, for now at least, I’m putting my idea down. So what does this mean?
It means that I need a next ‘big project’ to focus on. As luck would have it, I’ve dug up an old story that I wanted to tell before Mars took all my focus, so I have decided to re-visit it. I intend to update this site with posts about the project as it develops, for now here is the very basic gist of what we are going to be making:
A short film about two men stuck in space on a mission that doesn’t officially exist.
We are cranking on the story and prep already, more to come soon!
It is with extreme pleasure that I present to you “Holdin’ Me”, a new music video I directed for Darin Bennett and The Requiem‘s just released EP, Midnight Storybook. There is a lot to say abut what went in to making this video, but first, watch it so you know what I’m talking about. I’d recommend going to Youtube and watching it in its full 1080p glory.
All done? I hope you liked it! If you couldn’t tell, a LOT of work went in to this thing. We shot in late January in the Mojave desert, the main camera was a RED Epic, with Canon 5DMII and T2i HDSLR and GoPro HD Hero cameras for some of the b-roll. We had the Epic mounted on a 3 axis, gyro stabilized head from Filmotechnic, which was remotely operated from the back of the SUV you see in the video. This head was mounted on a low rig off the back of the pickup truck, giving us a full 360degree view of the action. Our main lens was an Optimo 15-40, which we were constantly zooming in and out on, especially at the beginning and end of the video- we used every millimeter of that lens.
It might not be clear the first time you see it, but there is one window of this video that never cuts- it’s one long continuous shot. Check it out, prove me wrong- go on, watch it again. Did you figure it out? It’s the window that starts out on the bottom left. The other windows are showing alternate takes and the footage from our other cameras, and at times it’s showing a different part of that main take. We rehearsed this shot over and over as the sun got closer to magic hour, and then once the light was perfect we shot several full speed runs, most of which you see in the final video. Once the sun gave out on us, we hopped out of the vehicles and shot a little bit of handheld band performance, high-fived, and went home. Well actually, we packed for hours and hours and then walked around in the dark looking for gear we thought we had lost in the desert. Turns out it were not lost, just misplaced.
When we got back to Los Angeles, the edit began… and what an edit it was! Mike Merkwan cut all of the different sources together in Final Cut 7 (I would love to see FCX handle something like this!), cropping and placing the clips into rough compositions. It was a brain teaser to figure out exactly how to edit in this style, but thankfully Mike has a lot of experience with multi-window edits, and I’ve got a little experience myself. This edit took shape over several weeks, finding and refining the compositions and the timing of all of the elements. It was a little hard to be absolutely positive that what we were doing in the edit would translate to the final, but we were feeling pretty confident that it would by the time we laid it all out.
Once Mike had pushed the edit as far as Final Cut could handle, I pulled it in to After Effects using the now free and always incredible Automatic Duck plugin. All of our scale, crop, and positions from Final Cut came in perfectly, which probably saved me several days of work. AE is much better for animating layers that FCP, so we had intentionally saved that work for after the edit was done, but once I started this part of the process I realized that it was going to be a lot harder than just adding some keyframes. The edit had been composed of static windows with hard cuts from one composition to another, but now all that needed to be completely re-imagined and re-worked so that they smoothly animated from one to the other. If the edit was a puzzle, this was a lobotomy. It took a lot of long days and nights to get everything working properly, and then a lot more time to make it look good.
Once the windows were all doing what they needed to, the final puzzle began- how to get this massive nest of layers and subcomps color corrected. Doing it in AE was an option, but I’m not a colorist and the color correction tools in there are honestly the worst in the business. I got in touch with a colorist friend, showed him the current render, and he agreed to color it for us provided I could figure out how to get it to him. After a bunch of head scratching, I rendered out the source for each window (there are 5 total) and Phil colored those. It wasn’t completely ideal for him, and rendering it back out for me was a bit challenging, but in the end we got it all back into the final comp and rendered.
This was an exhausting project at every single step along the way, with an incredible amount of complexity to manage. The cast and crew worked so hard to make this possible, and everyone working on it in post performed miracles to make it happen. We are all incredibly proud of this video, and we are glad you took the time to check it out. On to the next one!
I have just returned from my first trip to Austin and SXSW Interactive. I work at a media production company on the digital content side. I worked at a major television network for 8 years. I love content. I love art. I love entertainment. I hate social media.
I went to South by Southwest for fun… tagging along with people from one of the most forward thinking production companies in the entertainment industry. I thought I was going for the parties, the alcohol and the meat (yes, there was a lot of meat!), but instead I have learned something so much more important. In a world that has become so fragmented, disconnected and technological, are we all substituting social media for art and innovation?
I am working to produce the album and help manage the career of an amazing musician. He is an artist. He likes to hole up in his house and watch Jack Bauer and write songs until 6 o’clock in the morning. Do you know what he has been doing lately? He’s been learning how to use Twitter. Is he working to write, create or make music that is the beauty in the world and what gives humanity to our race? His songs hit my soul every time I listen to them – even after the hundredth time. However, until he figures out how to captivate an audience in 140 characters or less, no one else will ever know or listen. And, yes, of course SXSW is in fact, also a music festival, but with acts like Bruce Springsteen and Jay-Z headlining this year, is it really going to be possible for the struggling lesser-known musicians to break through without first having an online social media presence? Can they even get booked or an audience at one of the less visible stages in one of the darks corners of the city unless they have already created any internet buzz? We’ll see, but I venture to guess, no.
Don’t get me wrong. I use Twitter, I use Facebook (I will not use Foursquare because, well, that just creeps me out) and I post my pictures. I use it to show everybody in my life what I am doing. I do not underestimate the power of social media and the effects that it has had on our culture. It has created celebrities, it has created relationships, it has created art, and it has become a forum for social activism in a society that has become very lackadaisical about any action to help a cause. It is easy. In order to feel empowered and help the Kony 2012 movement, you click a button. There are not stakes, there is only information. But where is the passion? The interaction? We have become so intent upon sharing our lives, are we forgetting to stop and live them? And what happens to those people, artists and causes that can’t seem to figure out a way to grasp and or figure out how to adapt? Are we really okay just keeping those voices quiet?
SXSW Interactive is a Mecca for nerds, geeks and the cultural influencers to find out what is happening in the digital world; where they should invest their time, money and energy. I am one of those cultural influencers. Do you know what my favorite panels were about? Space. I’m not kidding. In my career I have worked with countless actors, musicians, and directors, and while I still get giddy while drinking a beer next to Willem Dafoe in the Austin Airport, do you know who I was the most excited to see? Astronaut Ron Garan. Why? Because he reminded me of a time when we cared about innovation, science and moving our culture forward in ways that we could not have even imagined as possible. Do you know what I learned? The space program has been responsible for medical imaging, firefighting equipment, and the very satellites that are used to watch the television content we all love so much. Do you know what I learned is the scariest part – because we as a culture no longer care, those programs are coming to a halt, and soon may be stopped. Space – could be our future, it could save our species from extinction as our population growth continues to use all of our resources, but what are 10,000 people getting together to talk about at a conference? The new app that will tell everyone in your life what time you wake up and go to sleep.
Make no mistake, in the same way that I hate social media, I see its value. I am not advocating for shutting down Facebook (gasp). I know I have connected with people that I love having in my life that I never would have without it. Throughout the panel on space people were tweeting to get the word out about what they were learning. I decided to watch Downton Abbey – which I now love – because I had to know why everyone was talking about a show that was on PBS. Social media does give the musician a way and a forum to reach his fans, and for them to interact with him. That is special. It makes people feel special, and the value of that should not be underestimated. I just have to ask – can we please also focus on other things? The new app Highlight is not going to create any new scientific breakthroughs. I wish it would, but it won’t. While it might create jobs, it is not going to create the many new industries that our economy desperately needs right now. A SXSW panel that I sadly missed because I was at aforementioned favorite space conference: “Social Media is a Bubble and SXSW is a fad”. Can we please make this bubble pop already? Move on to also putting together a conference of 10,000 people that come together and talk about how we can make NASA interesting and how people can actually discover great new music again? Please?
An End Thought: The irony is not lost upon me that if anybody were to read this, it will be through, and because of social media. I know you have to use the tools that are available to you. I also don’t claim that I am going to stop using social media to get the word out about the next project I am working on, nor do I have a true solution, because I am not providing any useful alternatives. However, I also believe that until we as a culture have these conversations, nothing will ever change. Thank you for reading – I have to go check my Facebook and Twitter feeds now.]]>
We did it again (made another entry for a video contest)! Here is our entry for Tongal’s Allstate DriveWise competition. Winners will be announced in a few days, so cross your fingers and toes for us.
UPDATE: We won 3rd place- $1500! We will use the funds to pay for more productions, so thanks Tongal!]]>
We also did this video last week, for Zooppa’s “AT&T Simplify Your Life Video Contest”. If you have just a quick moment to click through and “Like” the video, we stand to win $20,000, which we would spend on making more new videos, so please help us out if you can.]]>
UPDATE: This video won an Editor’s Pick award, thank you Poptent]]>
This is just a quick public service announcement for you web video fanatics: Ask A Ninja is once again making new episodes, and they are as great as they have always been. The new format is a little more of a late night monologue than their old episodes, and they are hilarious. If you are a big fan of the guys, check out their Kickstarter campaign to raise some funds to do things the right way. Go ninja go!]]>
We won 4th place in Amazon’s recent “Russell Wiley is Out to Lunch” contest with this entry. We are pretty darn proud of how it turned out, thank you to everyone who voted for us!
UPDATE: This video won 4th place, and we got some really kind feedback from Richard Hine himself, so we feel great about this one.
I was lucky enough to be one of the 110,000 people in Las Vegas for the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show this past weekend, and I had a somewhat unexpected reaction to what I saw. I expected to be surrounded by a dazzling array of innovative (if not bizarre) consumer products, on display for the world to see and fall in love with. What I encountered was thousands of products that showed little to no original thought, and a collection of giant companies continuing to refuse to work together to improve the lives of their customers. Here are a few observations:
1. Where Is The Magic Black Box?
photo credit: nDevilTV
One of the few items that I thought was a genuinely good idea is the announced inclusion of Skype in several TVs from Panasonic and LG. This will bring video conferencing into the living room and off the laptop, and will probably become a great way for families to stay in touch. But why don’t we have Youtube and Hulu on our TVs by now? Why is it 2010 and I cannot order and stream every TV show, movie, or song that I want instantly and on-demand? The technology exists- Boxee is by far the closest to what I’m talking about, but why didn’t the Apple TV ever get there? It’s been around for 3 years now, and still doesn’t do as much as it could or should. I saw a Boxee equipped box called the Nuu that adds skype and bluetooth and a few other apps (it is basically an Atom powered custom linux box). But why do I need a box to do this? Where is my God TV with a built in camera, on-demand everything, internet browser, Pandora/Last.FM/iTunes/etc. music, Youtube/Hulu/Vimeo/etc. fullscreen playback? Why do I need a computer still to consume media? I don’t particularly want to read on my TV, that can stay on the computer (or better, eBook or tablet), but I do want it to easily display all the video and audio I want. The technology to do this 100% exists, so why don’t we have it?
Because nobody wants to rock the boat.
There is a lot of money to be had in selling a bunch of gadgets that together serve the consumer’s needs, and not as much in Übergadgets that do a whole lot of things at once. The first major brand to make a TV that provides almost all of the media serving needs of a common home, wins. Nobody wants a clunky, hard to use, harder to wire up box (or worse, a series of boxes) that all somewhat do what you want. ‘Convergence’ was a big buzzword a few years ago, but it has quietly been put away in favor of incremental improvements in the ways that devices can work together, instead of making new gadgets that do more. This is not innovation, it is exactly the opposite, and CES showed that everyone is on board. So don’t hold your breath, Boxee and Nuu will get neutered, access will be blocked to content that is available on your computer. For various reasons, they don’t want you watching whatever you want whenever you want it; they want you watching on the devices they choose, on the schedule they want.
2. Imitation ≠ Innovation
photo credit: © 2010 CEA
There were so many small companies selling pretty much the same product that it became a running joke for us. Anyone who was at CES will appreciate this. How many flat-panel TV mounts did you see? We didn’t keep count, but it must have been 40+. That is over 40 companies that are built on manufacturing and marketing the exact same product. I saw one company that added butterfly wings to theirs, and a few that were motorized, but on the whole, there was absolutely no reason that one was any different than the others.
What the hell are they thinking? Would you dedicate your career to doing exactly the same thing as dozens of other people, without changing a single thing? There were other products that fell victim to this total lack of imagination: headphones, LED lights and iPhone cases were high on my list, but they are far from the only ones. Why isn’t anyone thinking big and outside the box and trying to make products that actually have a chance of standing out?
I find it incredible that so many companies not only spent so much money making their lazy copycat products, but that they flew to Vegas and rented booth space right next to each other to try to pitch them to the World! By the end of the show I was just giggling every time I saw an LCD wall mount, with marketing materials surrounding it touting their revolutionary ‘new’ ideas.
3. 3D Is Going To Change Some Things, But Not Everything.
photo credit: [kerwin]
The word of the show was “3D”. Every major exhibitor had at least something in 3D, be it a TV, projector, computer monitor, BluRay player, or some other gimmick, and everyone was drinking deeply from the Kool-Aid. I really liked this op-ed post from James McQuivey on the reality of 3D adoption in the home. Basic gist: it took 10 years to get people to buy HD, it’s going to take a while to get them to buy 3D TVs, and not everyone is going to want one. I completely agree with his assessment that video games are going to have the biggest impact on the adoption of this tech in the home:
3D viewing requires focused attention, and only a few people can do it at a time because the ideal 3D experience can only occur with a fairly direct view of the TV (don’t let TV makers kid you about viewing angles—you can see the 3D effect from an angle, but it’s distorted and not nearly worth sitting through a 2-hour movie for). Gaming is the ideal environment for 3D—gameheads stare straight at the screen in immersive gameplay for hours. That’s why gaming will lead in 3D. Sports content is the best broadcast content suited for 3D, and movies are next in line, probably delivered via Blu-ray for the next few years. Total hours a week you might want to watch in 3D? From two to five hours for most, up to 10 for a real serious gamer. That’s between 10% and 20% of viewing time, and that assumes that content is available, which it’s not. Would you be willing to spend the extra thousands in order to enhance 10% of your viewing time? Probably not.
3D is going to really shake things up, and I do think the technology is going to have a big impact on consumer electronics, and on media creation and consumption. But I think it is very important for everyone to stay level-headed about it, and to not outpace the consumers’ desire for it with their own enthusiasm for it. People do not buy things because they are told to, they buy them because they feel that they need them.
At CES it seemed like the pitchmen were not as focused on convincing the consumers that they need 3D as they were on convincing themselves that this is the Next Big Thing (TM). 3D gaming is going to be big, it was the most impressive application of the tech that I personally saw on the floor, and the one that is most likely to succeed. So why were almost all of the displays showing clips of “Avatar” and “Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs” and not games? Gamers are going to lead this trend, they buy new displays and computers more often than families buy new TVs, and their experience is genuinely improved by 3D. Please, everyone, eyes on the prize: pay the most attention to the people who are most likely to want your technology.
4. True Innovation Sometimes Gets Overlooked
photo credit: © 2010 CEA
In 2009, the promise of laser TVs was all the rage at CES, and this year Mitsubishi had their LaserVue on display, but even they were focused more on 3D than this potentially game-changing technology. I missed the LaserVue, and I’m sad I did, because the promise of 2x the brightness, 25% the power consumption, and 80% of the human visible color gamut are all my kinds of features. I am sad they chose to shout “me too!” and tout their 3D displays instead of putting this one front-and-center.
Pico projectors were in full force this year, but almost nobody seemed to notice the laser pico projector Microvision was showing off. I loved this product. With no lens required, the image is always in focus and the color and brightness were much better than anything I saw from the other pico beamers at the show. At 10 “laser lumens”, it was still dimmer than I know this technology will need to get to for people to fall in love with it, but it was a huge step in the right direction. And apparently their goal is to license the technology to cellphone manufacturers, so who knows what will happen next. Not to get too punny on you guys, but I think there is a bright future for laser projectors, and I saw a lot of promise in this little device.
The most fun and wiz-bang product I saw was the AR Drone from a French company called Parrot. It is a 4-rotor helicopter controlled using an iPhone app with 2 video cameras and some brilliant augmented reality intelligence. You can fight them against each other or computer generated enemies, all while watching a live video feed on the screen of your phone. It was crazy to see, really stable and responsive and smart (they were pushing it around the booth, slapping it and letting it self-recover over and over). This is the best remote controlled toy I have ever seen, and it was exactly the sort of thing I expected to see in every corner of the convention halls. If more companies thought like this, my entire view of the industry would be different. [Interesting that a company called Parrot is the one not parroting everyone else's incremental "innovations"]
One of the silliest products I saw, and the only one that I actually took a sample of, is AdWipes. These things could not be any simpler: a small microfiber cloth you can print your logo or message on with a “suction material” on the other side to stick it to the back of a phone, laptop, etc. I took one for my iPhone, and it works fantastically at cleaning my screen and obviously does its intended job, because here I am remembering the name of the company that gave it to me. Useful for me, useful for the advertiser. Win-win. I wish more companies (especially ones handing out free schwag at events) would start with something that is genuinely useful and then add their marketing to it. The last thing I need is to be handed a cheap yo-yo or blinky magnet or other piece of barely-recyclable trash just so that some company can try to get me to buy their products.
5. So What Have We Learned?
photo credit: © 2010 CEA
I would say that CES 2010 highlighted a few important problems in the consumer electronics industry. The refusal or inability to converge existing technologies into truly useful gadgets is hurting everyone. Media companies are not helping matters- trying to firewall their content into different areas to try to control revenues (as they understand them) as tightly as possible. If Hulu were on every TV set, it would be able to charge ungodly amounts of money for its advertising, which unlike TV advertising is target-able and track-able. The few companies that are trying to create convergence will probably have their products handicapped, blocked, and otherwise disabled, as happened to Boxee with Hulu.
There is a lot of bad business sense in the Industry. Many of the biggest manufacturers were demonstrating absolutely identical products, with no significant reasons provided that would indicate why anyone should choose one over the others. This was not just the LCD wall mount army, this was the BIG companies, all showing off the same large flat TVs and 3D displays and LED backlights. Any smart businessman will tell you that you don’t make the big bucks by copying what everyone else is already doing; you have to come up with something new to really hit it big.
3D displays are going to change video games significantly; the industry needs to realize and focus on this fact. The simple truth is that gamers want 3D, home theaters might want it someday, but right now there isn’t enough content in 3D to justify the expense. The big push needs to be games initially, as the 3D TV channels and 3D BluRays increase and the glasses and displays get better and cheaper on the backs of those video gamers. This is the only way their grand vision will come to pass, and hopefully somebody in a position of power realizes it soon.
The truly innovative products were hidden, drowned by the buzz of the “me too!” chorus coming from almost every booth. The few products that really jumped out at me were the ones that took existing ideas and built on them, or combined them in a useful way. The lessons they hold for both inventors and businessmen are pretty clear, I just hope they got some notice.]]>
I got this email from Facebook the other day, and a couple of thoughts struck me as I read it (the bold is my emphasis):
Facebook is sending you this notice of a proposed class action settlement that may affect your legal rights as a Facebook member who may have used the Beacon program. This summary notice is being sent to you by Court Order so that you may understand your rights and remedies before the Court considers final approval of the proposed settlement on February 26, 2010.
This is not an advertisement or attorney solicitation.
This is not a settlement in which class members file claims to receive compensation. Under the proposed settlement, Facebook will terminate the Beacon program. In addition, Facebook will provide $9.5 million to establish an independent non-profit foundation that will identify and fund projects and initiatives that promote the cause of online privacy, safety, and security.
For full details on the settlement and further instructions on what to do to opt out of, object to, or otherwise comment upon the proposed settlement, please go to: BeaconClassSettlement.com.
If you have never heard of Beacon, or the lawsuit against it, check this information out. Not only did they have to shut the service down, but they have to now do the corporate equivalent of Bart Simpson’s chalkboard punishment? This is really great news, but I wonder how effective a deterrent/punishment the ruling really will be. It is one thing to rule in favor of the customers in a large class-action lawsuit and award massive damages in order to prevent a company from engaging in invasive or abusive behavior. But this strikes me as a slap on the wrist, and the punishment of having to fund a non-profit company that essentially duplicates the EFF‘s incredible efforts will probably be about as effective as having Steve Ballmer write a two page essay on why monopolies are bad. I doubt Facebook learned a lesson here, in fact the lesson learned might very well be “next time, don’t get caught”.
As more and more ‘private’ information is moved online, it is going to be those companies that demonstrate an unswerving loyalty to the privacy and security of their customers who will be allowed to continue doing business. You had better believe that the day Google is caught exposing or misusing user data, it is going to find itself in deep, troubled waters. Personally, I don’t really put anything on Facebook or other sites that I would be embarrassed or endangered by, were it to leak out. But this case has served as a reminder that you can’t really trust any company to put your rights and expectations above their own need to turn a profit in order to survive.]]>
Team A.P.O.C.A.L.Y.P.S.E. is a half-hour comedy series set in post-apocalyptic America. Ghostbusters meets Children of Men. Four “men” are forced to search the barren wasteland for women to help save mankind. No one on Team A.P.O.C.A.L.Y.P.S.E. (American Planetary Objectives Committee Avoiding Life’s Yesterday and Preventing Society’s Extinction.) wants to be there, but since the only alternative is death…they’re giving it a shot. They have limited supplies and even more limited brain capacity.
Written and Directed by: Nick Armstrong
Starring: Nick Armstrong, Kevin Ford, Ryan Gaul, Adam Jefferis, Jeff Kriese, Amanda Ohly, Douglas Sarine]]>
Ryan Reeb is working on an animated short film called “Lillith & Thatch”, and he needs your help to complete it. They’ve run up against a wall and they need some funding to push through and find the talented artists required to finish the project. They made a Kickstarter page for the project so you can find out more about it and donate a little or a lot and make this dream a reality. Please pass this info along and get the word spread far and wide, we’re trying to get Ryan out of his VFX artist’s chair and into a Director chair where he belongs!
This video is simple, beautiful, and very well done, which are my three favorite things to see in motion graphics work. Just goes to show you how far good 3D tracking and clear ideas can take you. It is a thank you to the sponsors of the AICP Southwest Festival that happened earlier this month, and was created by Corgan Media Lab . I was not aware of these folks before, but I’m a solid fan now! Discovered via Designcollector TV.]]>