Ethereality News & Weblog

April 30, 2006

Wii. . .. Weeeeeeeeee!

Filed under: Computers & Gadgets,Photography,Video Games — Rob Chang @ 7:42 pm

While trying to hunt down James White’s website (one of my favorite photographers), I’m reminded of one of the reasons why I dislike flash websites–you can’t find jack shit in search engines. James White is the perfect case example–his website is actually part of a photographer’s agency site, but since it’s all in flash, there are no references to his section within the site anywhere in google. To make matters worse, there’s another photographer of dubious talent by the same name, and his site is what google spat out on top of the search results. The James White I’m a big fan of is lightyears better as a photographer, and I could only imagine in horror if someone had tried to look up James White based on my recommendation, then got that other guy instead. Anyway, the James White I adore could be found here–you’d never have been able to find him if I didn’t post that link. You can google for the other guy on your own, but he’s not really worth the trouble.

What I love about White’s photography is the pure opiate lushness–so deliberate yet not overbearing–opposite of David Lachapelle–who is the current darling of celebrity photography. I like that White never resorts to pretentious gimmicks, but is still imaginative and compelling–using purely composition, light, and colors. But then again, I’ve never been a fan of the flashy, tongue-in-cheek, “look at me I’m a rebel!” style of photography, as most walk right pass the line of inventiveness and fall right into the pool of crassness.

Nintendo Revolution’s official name has been announced, and it’s called. . ..

Wii. (pronounced like “wee”)

Did someone lose a bet? Gaming forums have literally hundreds, if not thousands of posts just tripping over themselves to make jokes about it. This is, without a doubt, the butt of every joke in the game industry at the moment. I’d love to have witnessed the meeting where this name was first suggested, and the look on everyone’s faces as they quietly considered the consequences for for laughing out loud.

The purple Gamecube was a bit fruity, but nothing you couldn’t live with. This, on the other hand, is like naming your son “Dilbert” or your daughter “Twinklet”–just plain cruel.

There’s gotta be something perverse in this. somewhere, but I’m drawing a blank. It’s a pretty cool technology though, and it’ll only be a matter of time before the webcam whores find some really creative uses for it.

April 28, 2006

Because they’re hardcore like that

One of the worst things about being in China is that I never get to see new films when they open–always months and months later, when everyone’s already seen them, talked about them, and then filed them away or posted tons of spoilers in forums for unsuspecting victims. Thank God in a couple more weeks I’ll be back in the good ol’ U.S. of A and never have to suffer that again.

I watched Match Point recently, and it was quite a surprise, as it’s not the kind of film I’d expect Woody Allen to make. The film is skillfully directed and taunt in all the right moments, and I for one, am glad he stayed behind he camera this time around; there’s something very unpleasant about watching him playing the same neurotic character for decades. I’m starting to get a bit tired of Scarlett Johanson as she’s not the type of actress with a lot of range, so when you miscast her, it’s painfully obvious. She’s certainly got her charm though, as demonstrated in Lost In Translation–one of my favorite films.

Got around to watch Aeon Flux recently as well. Everything that was cool about the animated series was gone–that eccentric charm in the visual style, the music, the directing..etc. I respect Charlize Theron as an actress, but she just doesn’t look anything like the main character. Of course, no one really looks like that in real life, but the feel is completely off. Aeon’s agile and slender physique is such a big part of visual style–Theron looked positively hulking in comparison–that’s something no amount of training could remedy. I don’t think the film’s as bad as the reviews say it is, but it’s certainly not good enough to become a cult favorite either. I could imagine Peter Chung shaking his head as he sat through the film for the first time.

While watching the bonus material about how the actors trained to do their own stunts, I thought about how that trend was set in the first place. Although action stars had regularly done their own stunts from time to time–particularly the ones who are known for their martial arts skills, it was really The Matrix that brought it to the forefront. It was one thing to watch martial arts action stars like Jacky Chan, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Segal..etc do their thing on the screen, as we expect it from them, but to watch guys like Keanu Reeves and Lawrence Fishburn do their own stunts was something the audience wasn’t used to seeing, and it created the current trend of having actors do their own stunts, because it simply looked better and more authentic on the screen. Now everyone in Hollywood proudly talks about how they trained for months to prepare for a role, and how they insisted on doing their own stunts because they’re hardcore like that.

How many of you have heard about Forbidden Archeology? Some pretty bold claims are made, with supposedly undisputed evidences that date human existence to far older than current scientific theory suggests, including objects that are far too advanced for any hominids in prehistoric times. The conspiracy theory is intriguing too, but what conspiracy theory isn’t? I didn’t find anything on the internet that disputed the evidences–most just chalk them up to “unexplained mysteries.”

Here’s something for you photographers out there. Read and find out which level of photographer you are. I don’t agree with all of it, but it’s a fun read.

My computer is now officially behind the times. I tried to play the demo for Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter today on the lowest settings, and it still grinded to a halt during the opening scene on the chopper, and then stayed that way and refused to go any further. I was surprised because I’ve had no problems with other recent demos. My machine really isn’t that ancient–it’s a P4 2.8 Ghz, 2 GB RAM, with plenty of hard drive space, and a GeForce FX5200 video card. The video card is the bottleneck for sure, and it’s probably about time I upgraded. I was going to do it when Half-Life 2 came out, but it ran fine on my system so I kept on using my rig as is.

More wacky news from China relayed from Elena’s daily newspaper reading sessions:

A young woman goes to the doctor for a checkup, and the doctor discovered twenty-six small needles embedded in the girl’s body. The girl has no idea how they got there, and her parents offered their guess. They think it might’ve been the girl’s grandparents (when they were still alive), and that they had done it when she was just a baby. The grandparents were probably disappointed in having a girl (since China allows only one child, everyone wants a son to continue the family name), and tried to kill her by sticking needles into her, hoping they would puncture organs or cause other complications. They probably figured since you can’t see the needles and had no reasons to search for them, no one would suspect foul play and just attribute the death to natural causes. The doctor said it’s been too long and would be extremely dangerous to try to remove the needles, as they are completely embedded in various parts of the body.

Here’s one I heard on the radio while riding in a taxi:

A traffic police angered a female taxi driver when he tried to give her a ticket. She went psycho on him and slapped him 20 times, but he did not defend himself. A crowd of around fifty people gathered and watched in disbelief as the traffic cop just stood there doing his impression of a punching bag. He was sent to the hospital with a swollen face and complained of a headache.

My guess is that she’s probably his girlfriend or ex and he probably cheated on her, then had the balls to give her a ticket.

April 20, 2006

Oh my, how much can a boy take?

I’ve taken the Zbrush plunge, and here’s a little something I did to test it out:

Zbrush is quite amazing for doing detailed organic modeling. It’s by no means perfect, but for time being, it has no real competition out there–something I hope will change very soon, as competition is healthy for innovation and improvement.

Somebody pinch me–Waldorf is back in action! I have long been a big fan of Waldorf synths–those delicious one-of-a-kind filters, and I find their ultra cool “We don’t need our synths to look like slick spaceships–they are industrial strength machines made for music” design sensibility admirable. Dig that sexy techno industrial orange and yellow. *drool* At one point I even corresponded with the then-defunct Waldorf about hooking them up with either a buyer or source of funding in China. I’m so glad the correspondences didn’t lead to fruition, because no Chinese company could ever do Waldorf’s vision justice. I have held off buying any Waldorf products because I knew support would be a problem with the company gone, but now that they’re back on the horse, I could hear my wallet weeping in fear already. I should hold off and see if they’ve got some new and innovative products on the horizon though. I really hope they dive deeper into the VST ocean and continue where they left off, as I’m not too fond of the idea of getting more hardware synths.

For those of you who played and loved The Longest Journey years ago, you probably have been keeping up with the development of the sequel, Dreamfall. The game is now out and Gamespot just did a review of it. If you don’t know a thing about any of this, then I’ll just say that The Longest Journey is one of my favorite game of all time–a fantastic and immersive sci-fi/fantasy adventure with a lovable heroine named April Ryan. It’s got one of the best written stories in the medium of video games, contains great voice acting, and the visual design of the world feels cohesive and very immersive. According to the Gamespot review, Dreamfall is just as amazing, except that it’s deemed too short. In fact if you watch the video review, it’s obvious that they feel if the game had just been a few hours longer, it would’ve been a stunning masterpiece. I’m all giddy like a little school boy now. I got to get my paws on it and play, but I’m completely swamped with a bunch of far more urgent things right now. I might not get to play it until months later, after we’ve settled down at a new place and me with a new job.

I’m fairly underwhelmed by the whole Origami hype right now. The concept feels flawed to me–it’s too big to have the portability appeal of a PDA, and it’s too underpowered to have the workhorse appeal of a laptop. Even if I received one as a gift, I would probably just turn around and sell it on ebay or something. I wouldn’t know what to do with it, as all the things I’d be interested in doing on a portable computing device are beyond its capabilities.

While trying to do a RGB to CMYK conversion for the piece I’ll be sending to Spectrum 13 for printing, I asked the guys at cgtalk for their input, which spawned a heated debate about how Photoshop handles colors in PC and Macs. You can read the thread here.

Here’s another wacky news from China that Elena relayed to me during her daily newspaper reading:

A teacher forced students to remain in their seats during the mandatory afternoon nap, and when some students who needed to go to the bathroom couldn’t hold it in anymore, they urinated in empty water bottles. When the teacher found out about it he was furious. The teacher then made the students mix all the urine from everyone together, divide it up into equal portions, and then had the students drink the whole thing. Some of the students couldn’t handle the revolting experience and threw up right there in the classroom. When the students told their parents about what happened, the teacher was immediately fired by the school. Parents of the students are now suing.

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