Avatar: The last film I will see in 3D

I saw Avatar last night in RealD 3D and, I have to say, it is a very pretty, rather fun, awesome to watch movie. The 3D for Avatar was incredibly well done but it gave me such a bad headache and nausea that it almost wasn't worth it. Luckily, I was able to immediately go home and go to sleep, thus not dealing with the discomfort much. Needless to say, I think that I'm going to stick to 2D movies for the foreseeable future.

Diatribe about 3D aside, Avatar is a pretty great movie. Sure it's Dances with Wolves in space but Dances with Wolves was a good movie so why not put it in space. Actually, more than that, to me Avatar was Dances with Wolves meets Dinotopia in space. The color palettes of Avatar were vibrant and pretty in much the way that the palettes of Dinotopia were; furthermore, the creatures and world were sufficiently realized to make it seem like a place that one might really want to go. In fact, I think Avatar has provided me with the first artificial setting that I have had a strong desire to visit since Dinotopia.

So, having discussed the pain (literally) of the 3D, the adequacy of the story (adequate being the right word), and the beauty of the world, let's talk about the special effects. For quite a while, I have been adamantly opposed to the use and overuse of CGI in the film industry. Certainly, some studios do CGI correctly (Pixar, DreamWorks) but when mixed with live action, I tend to think that the Jurassic Park or Aliens approach of relying primarily on live action, puppets and robots is a much safer and more visually appealing approach. The clearest example of where real is good and CGI is bad is to look at the original Star Wars trilogy in comparison to the new Star Wars trilogy. Somehow, thankfully, James Cameron has not fallen in the same way that George Lucas has; Avatar beautifully mixes the real with the CGI and I did not once feel as though things had fallen into the uncanny valley.

Hopefully Avatar will end up profitable in spite of its truly ludicrous budget (officially $237M + $150M marketing) and James Cameron will be allowed to keep making crazy as heck science fiction stuff (it was at >$232M after its opening weekend so odds are pretty good). The outstanding question now is whether he's going to make a sequel to Avatar or whether he's going to make Battle Angel Alita like he's been talking about for a while.

So yeah, overall, I am inclined to recommend the Dances with Wolves meets Dinotopia in space movie, otherwise known as Avatar but I do not recommend it in 3D unless you've got some Dramamine to take beforehand. Actually, that's an idea; maybe I'll pop a couple Dramamine and try seeing it again, you know, for science.

Unsticking Stuck LCD Pixels: A Script

As I just recently suggested I might do, I have made a script for automatically generating color cycling animations of arbitrary sizes and speeds.

The script can be used at: http://blog.gwax.com/files/rgbanim.php

The script accepts the parameters height, width, and delay, so it can also be used in more interesting ways. Feel free to play around (if you crash it, let me know).

Ex.: http://blog.gwax.com/files/rgbanim.php?width=100&height=100&delay=7

Or, better still:

- Width
- Height
- Delay

For the curious amongst you, the relatively simple code follows:

if(isset($_GET['delay']) && is_numeric($_GET['delay']))
    $delay = max((int)$_GET['delay'], 1);
    $delay = 10;if(isset($_GET['width']) && is_numeric($_GET['width']))
    $width = max(min((int)$_GET['width'], 1920), 1);
    $width = 320;if(isset($_GET['height']) && is_numeric($_GET['height']))
    $height = max(min((int)$_GET['height'], 1080), 1);
    $height = 240;$out = new Imagick();
$out->newImage($width, $height, '#FF0000', 'gif');
$out->newImage($width, $height, '#00FF00', 'gif');
$out->newImage($width, $height, '#0000FF', 'gif');
$out->setImageDelay($delay);header('Content-type: image/gif');
echo $out->getImagesBlob();

Unsticking Stuck LCD Pixels (Redux)

My previous article on Unsticking Stuck LCD Pixels having been rather a hit and having been asked for an alternate gif image, I figured I should revisit the topic briefly.

The animated gif images were created with ImageMagick. Having long since forgotten how I did it last time, I reacquainted myself with ImageMagick and have developed this little one liner:

convert -delay 20 -loop 0 -size 100x100 xc:#FF0000 xc:#00FF00 xc:#0000FF rgbanim.gif

This command will generate an animated gif to use in attempting to fix stuck pixels. Key parameters are:

Image size can be changed by changing the size parameter. ex.: -size 640x480

Cycling speed can be varied by changing the delay parameter. ex.: -delay 7

So, if my original images don't serve your purposes, go grab a copy of ImageMagick and make one of your own. (If I feel ambitious, I might hack together a script to auto-generate these gif images)

UPDATE: Apparently, I was sufficiently ambitious.

A post-apocalyptic beginning

I just came up with what I think is a good first line for a book and a not quite so good second line:

"Our parents used to ask each other if they remember where they were when a man first walked on the moon or when the Berlin Wall fell; we used to ask each other where we were when the World Trade Center fell; now, if we can find anyone to ask, we ask where we were when the world ended."

"I remember where I was when the world ended; I was in a McDonald's, and I didn't even like McDonald's."

Griffon Sketch

A sketch of a griffin standing in watch over a savanna

A sketch of a griffin standing in watch over a savanna

This is further art sketched on my N810 while idle in life. I've always found griffins (which I apparently can't always spell correctly) to be fantastically cool mythical beasts, right up there with hydras, I'd say. This image is of a griffin up on high observing its savanna hunting grounds. I kind of feel like griffins, were they to exist, would have been native to Africa; you could say that my landscape in this image has African savanna influences (ish).

SkyzCastle Sketch

Sketch of a mountain top castle under siege from flying machines

Sketch of a mountain top castle under siege from flying machines

First off, I have to admit that I don't know why I decided to give this file a filename of "SkyzCastle" except that it must have seemed appropriate at the time that I made it. I'm about a month behind on posting images so I really can't say what my motivations were at the time. This sketch is, I would say, ok at best, but I am trying to adopt a policy of posting my art here. In case it isn't clear, this is a castle on a mountain top that is under siege/assault from balloons and ornithopters.

Lighthouse Sketch

Sketch of a landscape with lighthouse made on my N810

Sketch of a landscape with lighthouse made on my N810

Another image from the department of sketches that I've made on my N810 while passing time *cough*in meetings*cough*. This, as should likely be obvious, is a sketch of a lighthouse on a cliff above some rocky waters near some relatively peaceful ocean waters. Enjoy.

Further spyjinks

I am not currently at liberty to discuss where I have been or what I have been doing, which is not meant to imply or suggest that where I have been or what I have been doing is of sufficient importance or noteworthiness as to warrant or justify its serving as the topic for a discussion were I to be at liberty to discuss such matters, which I am not.