Sunday, November 30, 2014

Ultra Electro Nostalgic Power

I regret not watching the movie Blue Bustamante on its regular showing in the Cinema One Originals film festival last year or on any of its few re-runs this year so I was so glad they showed it again on the Teatrino at Promenade. I grew up watching A LOT of sentai and tokusatsu shows as a kid (of course I don't know they were called as such back then). Team shows like Bioman, Maskman, Jetman. Solos like Shaider, Machine Man, Mask Rider Black. Or the Ultraman series and Magmaman. Everyday, after school at 4 or 5 pm, I will sit down and be glued to the TV set for an hour or so (they used to show them back to back). I would absorb them all. Mind you, we only have a black and white TV set back then so I would only identify the characters when they shout their name. In class, I was very envious when my classmates talk vividly how Blue2, Red1 or anyone from the team looks like. For me the characters are just Grey1,  DarkGrey2, LightGrey3 etc.



Anyways, if you are a fan, or even just a kid who grew up watching these shows, then Blue Bustamante is a movie for you. There were many callbacks to the old sentai shows like a character disappearing in the background with that sound effect (Saito...), or the sights of cardboard buildings serving as an arena of a big robot and kaiju deathmatch; or the crude but cool costumes of the team, the monsters and the henchman among others.

But more than, it's  a very funny and entertaining movie despite a supposedly very sad premise of that of an OFW father who needs to live apart from his family for a long time. The humor is mostly provided by Jun Sabayton who has quite a natural knack for comedy. (You can check more detailed reviews at Pinoy Rebyu.)

And then there's the nostalgia. From the lead character's blue jeans jacket (of the tito from saudi fame), or the Family Computer (which I only got to play with courtesy of a neighbor who has one), Yanyan eating. "Blue Bustamante" used nostalgia effectively, providing instant relatability to the audience without even trying to.

A show that used nostalgia to this effect is the movie "Guardians of the Galaxy". This time, music is the nostalgic element used. Old songs were used in the background as an old Walkman served as a mcguffin. In the unbeliveably alien environment and setting, audience could immediately relate to the main character via the song he plays on his walkman which are actually all very good.

Another one I can think of is the episode "Wild Horses" from the anime "Cowboy Bebop". The setting is in a far future with a society very different from the present. This time the nostalgia comes in the form of an old relic, the Space Shuttle, calling back the beginnings of the Space Age. This is the same aura being portrayed in the comic book by Warren Ellis,  "Orbiter".

Of course I wouldn't forget "Hugo", a homage to the films of old directed by someone who has a real passion for movies themselves. Add to that "The Wrestler", calling back the vintage independent wrestling circuit and "Pacific Rim" an action film about kaiju and mecha films of Japan.

Anyways, nostalgia when used properly is a very powerful element. Just look at the latest Star Wars trailer. The first few scenes are already awesome by their look. UNTIL THAT JOHN WILLIAMS' THEME PLAY WHILE THE MILLENIUM FALCON FLIES!!!

That's it!!! Tune again next time for another episode of...
[Play ending Credits]


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Project Proposal: Bullet-time rendering of the Ayala Triangle Christmas lights using Crowdsourced videos of the show

The Ayala Triangle Lights and Sound show is a yearly event, now on its fifth year, where about a million LED Christmas lights are arranged around the trees and posts in the garden and from 6:00 PM and every 30 minutes onward, the lights dance in sync with Christmas carols. More than 1000 people watch the show every day.

I watched it earlier tonight and I noticed that maybe half of the people watching are also taking videos of the show using their mobile phones or video cams. Each captures in a unique location. That would mean at least 200 video captures of the same event at different locations. And that is just for one 10 minute segment. The show repeats every 30 minutes until 10:00 PM. We would actually have about 2,000 unique videos of the event.



Those video materials can in theory be used to create a bullet time rendering of the entire show.

Bullet time according to Wikipedia "is a visual effect or visual impression of detaching the time and space of a camera(or viewer) from that of its visible subject". This effect, implemented most famously in the movie "The Matrix", was achieved by firing multiple cameras in an array at the same time or sequentially. Frames caught at a single time are then arranged to create a slow-motion, orbiting effect like in the scene where Neo moves as fast as a bullet almost dodging it (hence its name.)





One would only need to do a few things to compile the videos. Stabilize the videos so that each capture would be fixed capture. Normalize the brightness and colors of all videos so that each image would have same tone with others. Normalize the resolution of the videos.

Once done, run an algorithm to analyse the location of the camera based on a baseline camera and the distances between reference points (also Christmas lights ). As reference for the timing, we will use the background sounds.

After all processing is done, we could, in theory, freeze the show at any given time then zoom our perspective to a hundred multiple viewpoints as if you are flying around and between the lights. Anyone can then enjoy the show from multiple vantage points like seeing in everyone's eyes.  Now that would be a very different and amazing way to watch the show.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Interesting Concepts Interspersed into Stellar Imagery

Interstellar is a movie I just can't wrap my head around completely. It is film that I just can't sum up into a cohesive synopsis. So I won't attempt to. Instead I'll describe the aspects of it that I can more or less describe.

Probable spoilers ahead.



***

Einstein's twin paradox would make for a very good dramatic story. One twin stays on Earth. The other twin travels on a spaceship zooming at speeds approaching the speed of light. Then after the other twin's journey to space, he travels back and meets the twin who stayed on Earth. The space twin gets does not get older, the Earth twin ages very much. Space twin is still on his twenties. Earth twin is on his sixties or even older.

Make it a story about a father and his much loved, spoiled daughter. Make it a story of abandonment, rejection, solitude. This concept alone would make a very touching movie. (An honest, typical drama in the backdrop of a scientific concept similar to movies like "Another Earth".)

The realization that 20 to 30 years have passed by on Earth. The daughter has aged, the father stayed young.  The realization that the father missed a lot. Then the eventual reunion of the father and the daughter, now on her deathbed as an old woman, the father on the bedside.


***

The concept of gods as our highly advanced descendants have long been explored in many stories of fiction. Our future selves giving "tips", "clues" or breadcrumbs as to what path our present selves should take. I was immediately reminded of the movie "Contact". Who are the aliens who sent the blueprints to Earth? Could they be our future selves, discovering more advanced technology and sharing this knowledge to the primitive humans?

In "2001:A Space Odyssey" a construct arrives at our most primitive ancestors, the apes, and gave them that gift of knowledge. That's the very needed boost for them to evolve. To become the creature that would give them that gift. Ouroborous. It is a very mind-boggling paradox just like Einstein's twins.

We could look back in our history and search for advanced technology; Pyramids, Stonehenge, Moai. Or look into old religions and their miracles, Noah's Ark, Buddha's Enlightenment, Christ's resurrection and like that weird-haired guy from History channel, we would proclaim "Aliens!". Or ancient astronauts. Or our children in the far future.


***

Astronauts world-jumping in space on a special mission. I heard of the concept in the the Cartoon series Ulysses, where a group of space travelers journey in space for some important mission.

Step it up by adding wormholes into the mix. Instant teleport device to another universe. Sort of like "Sliders" but in space. Or Star Trek. Or Stargate.

***

Finally, a mission to find a new home to Earth when the planet is diagnosed dying. Stories like "Space Battleship Yamato 2199", "Wall-E".

***

All these and more are the concepts that Christopher Nolan juggled in his latest film, "Interstellar". All challenging concepts, not usually scene in mainstream cinema especially on blockbuster billed movies.


***

Now let me tell you something about the scenes. A world covered with knee deep oceans and mountain-high waves. A world covered in snow with frozen clouds hanging in the atmosphere like stalactites. A spherical wormhole that reflects all space around it like a magical, heavenly mirror. A giant black hole swallowing light all around it forming a ring of light around a dark, round abscence.

An amazing docking procedure with both the station and the capsule rotating in sync as they fall into the gravitational grasp of the black hole. A breathtaking view of the spaceship as it floats silently in space. An eternally recursive image of a bedroom as a 5-dimensional representation of our existential plane. And finally, a surprisingly funny robot transforming into  rotating, speeding wheel almost instantaneously to save another crew.

Watching in IMAX is probably the best way to go.



***

And more:
 - All our food soon becomes dust.
 - Governments just gave up on fighting and wars.
 - NASA is now defunct.
 - Higher education is unnecessary. People just need food.
 - Gravity as a means of communication.
 - And many more that flew over my head.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Live Blogging the NLEX journey

Liveblogging the NLEX journey
Aboard a first north luzon bus with route Caloocan to San Simon. Sent from my iPhone. 

At around 8:18 pm we arrived at the NLEX tollgate. Gate N16. Steel ladders and metal gates guard our way in. Our bus driver transacts with the toll personnel. Exchange of money. And we're in. 

Speeding through the concrete road. Pass under a bridge. A black van overtakes on the right. I scratch my nose. A red car overtakes on the left. 

I create another entry but time flips to...

Concrete roads roll  on and on below the wheels of our bus. Countless vehicles pass by on the opposite lane. 
On and on it goes. 
On and on. 

Concrete roads as before. Is there nothing else?

Still concrete roads ahead. I look forward and see the rear lights pf the vehicles before us. Red like the angry eyes of the devil. 

So there are trees lining the aide of the road. I didn't notice initially because of the darkness. 

Since when was the onboard movie playing? It's Hercules starring the Rock. 

We overtake a truck. Now a car. Then a van. We are speeding through. A pickup truck travels beside us for a moment. Then we overtake  it. 

We pass a billboard for Ganador Max. Whatever that is. 

A few minutes after i started this live blog, i realize the futility of this endeavor. Am i to miss all the monotonous sights just to type them for whatever reason? And do I give justice to the amazingly plain concrete road by converting the view into a bunch of short unimaginative words? Does my reporting give any value to any reader? And if i feel these way during the liveblogging of a     Massively uninteresting event, then what more for truly historical events like an eclipse or a boxing match or a very good massage?

Maybe livebloggers have other reasons why do it but for me i think i'm out. 

I stopped this live blog and enjoy the ugly view of roads and endless roads.   

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Pinoy Cinema Characters who don't need Halloween Costumes

Thought I'd do a short post about Halloween. So here it is.

Here's some characters in Philippine cinema who don't need costume on Halloween. Mind you, it's not because they are ugly or scary looking but because they have personified the horror creatures they are portraying.

1. Nonong Bangkay, the personification of an undead or Death himself.

 Alyas Bangkay is known for his portrayal of Kamatayan, or as a zombie on a lot of mostly comedy films including the Enteng Kabisote film series. Just one look at his appearance and you'll know why he is always offered to take such roles.



He has been managing a beach resort owned by the town mayor for eight years now

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1388155/



2. Lilia Cuntapay, the scary and old white lady herself.


She starred in countless horror films including the Shake, Rattle and Roll series. She is also the lead star in the indie film "Six Degress of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay" which is actually quite good and gathered a lot of awards.

At first look she's just you're typical grandmotherly grandmother.

Until she opens her eyes and mouth wide.


She used to teach Primary School in Tuguegarao.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lilia_Cuntapay



3. Palito (RIP), the embodiment of a living cadaver.


Palito mostly played comedic roles as a walking dead person on many Filipino slapstick films. He also had lead roles in action films (believe it or not) as Rambuto (A pun on Rambo and "buto" or bone) and James Bone (not the porn character).

For his characters he usually just put cottons wads in his nostrils or just wrap a white cloth around his head.

He was a musician and used to play live in stage shows in a casino in Sta. Cruz, Manila.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palito

Monday, September 15, 2014

Approach as One: Technological Resonance and its Natural Progression to Singularity

     The fast paced outing of various technological giants will make your head spin. Here we have a new OS version, there we have a new screen configuration, a new device, new functions. All in Gatling gun speeds. 

     With the quantity of new releases, one might wonder about the quality of the same. Apple's newest offering in particular, garnered a lot of noise from the tech republic. Many say Apple is just presenting things that have been done many years ago by other companies.

     One might think that Apple has lost its sense of innovation and creativity that it has been brandishing ever since the companies creation. That the tables have actually turned 180 degrees. What used to be an icon of originality is now taking cues from the companies it once sued for stealing its product ideas. 


Recycling now a thing?

     If we present the facts alone, it really seems like there is no real new idea presented by the iPhone giant this time. The idea of the Apple Watch has been existing way before. Large screen phones are definitely around for a longer time. Same with health monitoring apps and NFC payments.

     To be fair with Apple, they have always been good at marketing their products and making sure the users maximize their capabilities. Like it or not, these products will still sell to the public who loves easily understandable UX and cool and elegant designs on their gadgets. But that is beside the point.

     The question is, has Apple really lost its magic? Has it lost its ability to create innovative and groundbreaking products that captures the worlds' imagination in a beat? Or more generally, are IT companies now just relying on obtaining the next product idea from the best thing the other company is offering in the market?

     Is the lack of innovation and creativity becoming widespread on the corporate level nowadays?


A Burst of Resonance?

     Let's take a step back. If you look at Apple's capability, it would seem that these latest technological offerings are really a breakthrough in terms of their products. Could it be that it just took them longer to achieve this level, maybe not because of lack of innovation but due to some limiting factor introduced by some "technological deity" somewhere? And could it be that this "technological deity" is simply rationing or guiding the advent of new technology to achieve a certain end goal?

     No need to nail me into the cross for that statement though. Because there is no such "deity". There is no need to inject a supernatural entity into the development of a purely logical endeavor.

     However, there is indeed some end to all of this innovation. Futurists call it the "Technological Singularity". Some define it as a hypothesis that states "that accelerating progress in technologies will cause a runaway effect wherein artificial intelligence will exceed human intellectual capacity and control, thus radically changing or even ending civilization in an event called the singularity. (Wikipedia)"

     My conjecture though is that to reach this point, there is another milestone that should be achieved first. Call it "Technological Resonance". I'd like to think of it not as a specific point but more of a period or range. Technological Resonance in its broadest term is a period in the future wherein all technological innovations from every inventor everywhere no matter how independent they work from each other, would result to very, very similar end products at the same time. It is the period as if technological innovation is being driven independently of every other factor like market share, corporate rivalry or technological espionage.

     It is possible that what we are witnessing is just the beginnings of the Resonance. Like how calculus was developed by two independent thinkers coincidentally at the same time period. (Actually, who knows if there others who developed it at the same time.)


What drives it?

     The scientific explanation of resonance would involve natural frequencies and the fact that just a small driving frequency would result to higher amplitude of the oscillation.

     In the case of Technological Resonance, what I have are just theories on what could drive this resonance. First possible driving frequency is the market. Initially, the law of supply and demand could start the resonance, what the market buys, the big companies manufacture the supply and advertise the products which will increase the demand which will start the cycle again. I'm not quite warmed up on this theory though as we've seen some aggressive marketing on various technological inventions which did not take flight like the Google Glass or the Windows mobile OS.

     I'd like to think that this driving force is more innate to human nature and to the real definition of technology itself. The most basic definition of technology is the development of tools to be used by humans. Technology is the way to improve what humans can do.
It would be more feasible to have the evolution of technology to follow the same path as that of human development, only difference is in the pacing. What human can do, they can do better and faster with technology. We can build houses faster, communicate more effectively, travel more efficiently live better with technology.

     Hence, the evolution of technology will be guided by how humans behave in our society. Take the most basic human necessity or societal needs and technology will naturally wrap itself around those activities to make them more efficient.

     Taking cue from Maslow's hierarchy of needs, new technology will be developed to cater to humanities' physiological, safety, belonging, esteem and self-actualization needs. Can we find a pattern? (Pop quiz: Which technology caters to our need to Belong? How about Safety?)
Technological resonance now becomes defined as the period in time wherein all technological innovations are all independently oriented towards providing for the most fundamental human needs. As such, in that period, technology would not be an alternative to living anymore. Technology would be another characteristic of life akin to Adaptation, Procreation and Growth.

     (As an aside, if you need to change your basic life processes to adapt to a new technology, then it is not bound to last long. Technology should adapt and improve life, not the other way around.)


Approaching Singularity, as One 

     If you think about it, Technological Resonance is a natural step towards singularity. Artificial intelligence will only achieve autonomy if it has full grasp of all human activity and processes. And the best way for that to happen is if humans become fully dependent on technology. During Resonance, all our Technological breakthroughs are on improving or even replacing human needs. That kind of symbiosis is the best way one learns from the other which is a very convenient shortcut to a learning AI. But more importantly it gives Technology some level of control to the human user.

     Some futurists believe the Singularity will come in a hundred years time. And that if it does come, it will happen rapidly without warning. The "ending the civilization" part seems too extreme and grim but shouldn't be ignored.

     Going back, Apple's supposedly 2 year backdated "innovation" would not seem like outdated at all. It might just be a spurt of the aforementioned Technological Resonance.


In the end...

     It's good that there are a lot of companies ejecting a lot of products into the market for human consumption. But the thing is, which companies develop which product does not really matter. In the end, every manufacturer works independently towards a common goal whether they are aware of it or not. That goal is to provide, improve or even replace the most fundamental human needs. What happens after that phase might be good or bad. But the good thing is we'll be approaching it as one.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

MRT: A horror story

From the imaginative minds behind "OTJ", "Rigodon" and "Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles" comes the most terrifying movie based on a true story to be shown in Philippine cinemas.

More terrifying than all the movies in the Final Destination franchise combined.

More exciting and pulse-raising than Speed (first movie).

More emotional and heart-wrenching than Denzel Washington's performance in "Unstoppable".

You will scream at the real-life terror. You might faint with disbelief at the worst circumstances that await the characters. You will swear for the horrors of all things going all wrong all at the same time.

This summer, prepare to watch in terror as you think that it might actually happen anytime on any of your commutes.


No one is safe. Even behind the yellow line.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

I X Hate X This: The Rise of Conjunction X

I've been seeing a lot of usage of the X symbol recently on websites, posters etc. I can't help but get annoyed with this new 'fad'. I mean I see titles like:

Artist X Musician
Abstract concept 1 X Abstract concept 2 (i.e. Love X Art)
Band X Location

What the hell does the "X" mean? "Versus"? "And"? "With"?, "In"? I don't really know. I think it's a hipster way of saying this not an ordinary combination of two things. This is an X of two things. X is a conjunction of two entities related or otherwise which makes the sum of the two separate entities appear much, much better.

As if one entity would magically get the redeeming traits of the other if the Conjunction X is used instead of say And or With or Versus.

 When did this new trend even began?

X already means a lot of things, some even quite cool. X marks the spot for Pirates. X is a prize worth aiming for by inventors, scientists and engineers. X is a generation used to be thought of as cool and forward-looking (that is until generation Y came.) X is a gene that gives cool powers. X indicates an unknown/classified project. X are files referring to mysterious and unexplained events.

But Conjunction X is fairly new. I see this on events where a designer would partner with a comic book artist for a line of clothing with comic book characters printed. Or when a symphonic orchestra performs with a rock band. Or when a electronic band performs in a trendy restaurant.

Googling "X" does not return anything useful. I find a band named X, a manga titled X, the xprize etc. Googling "Conjunction X" is the same. I find the real mathematical and grammatical definition of conjunction and X as a cross-product of two vectors. Google fails me this time.

In any case, I think conjunction X is here to stay to symbolize something that materialized from the hipster generation of today, like YOLO, or selfies or expensive ice cream.

End X Rant

(Hey look! My username has an X!)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

God's eye view

NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman just posted a short clip in Vine of a lightning storm over Houston from the ISS point of view.



This reminded me of a small project run by a group in Germany called Blitzortung.

http://www.blitzortung.org/Webpages/index.php?lang=en

The project monitors all lightning strikes all around the world in real-time using a network of sensors in different locations in the globe.

You can see the lightning strikes as dots on the global map. Places with a lot dots would mean ther is most probably lightning storms occuring in the area.





Another project simply named Earth, shows a real-time visualisation of the global wind map.

http://earth.nullschool.net/

Here you can see the winds flowing, circling, spiraling probably following some unknown patterns or maybe just going on chaotic paths to noone knows where.



One would think some higher beings up above is really monitoring these things using far more advanced technology than ours. Or perhaps these beings are controling the flows, the strikes using their high-tech or magical powers to maintain some balance or to achieve some unfathomable goal.

To them everything looks deterministic, even calm. To us below everything looks far chaotic and destructive.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Gravity of Just Being



You don't know me. 
But you will soon.
For I possess the most powerful weapon of all. 
More powerful even than death.
More powerful than non-existence.

I give you the Just-Life Equation.

You will be under the state of Just-Living. 
You will be just waking up everyday just to go to work just to eat just to go home and sleep and wake up again.
Then you'll just do the same thing over and over again.

You will just be living.
Like a clock just ticking.
Or a candle just melting away.
Or a river just flowing.

Endless. Aimless.
No goal or ambition.
No hopes or dreams.

Just living.

My name is Justexist.
Soon this world will be mine.


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