David, meet Goliath
Photography is currently undergoing it’s third renaissance in the last two decades. The 1st brought us digital cameras and immediacy to the photography world. The second came via the smartphone, granting hundreds of millions of people to ability to play photographer at any moment in time. Today’s renaissance on the surface is not as bold, but for some perhaps just as important. Mirrorless cameras are not just smaller and lighter verisons of the cameras we already have, they’re smarter, faster, sociable, and in many ways lens agnostic. My main camera is a Nikon D800, has been for almost three years now. It packs an incredible Sony sensor, which until it’s succcessor the D810 produced the best image quality in the DSLR space. The problem I have with my D800 is it’s fat. Not only is it fat, but it’s fat and dumb. My D800 doesn’t feature things like built in Wi-Fi or GPS. It doesn’t sync to an app on my phone that allows me to operate it remotely. It doesn’t have one of those spiffy new EVFs either. It can’t fire silently like a GH4 or Sony A7s. It certainly doesn’t have IBIS (In-Body Image Stabilization) like the A7II. It’s just a tank. A highly effective tank, but a tank nonetheless. In a market now swarming with Teslas, rolling around in a tank can be frustrating. You would think that when you own a $3,000 camera and numerous multi-thousand dollar lenses you would want to shoot everything on them, but that’s rarely the reality. Lugging a D800 around for hours at a time is a neck workout the likes of which would exhaust even a top athlete. Camera manufactures don’t make things any easier by shipping their products with the worst camera straps in existence, coarse, thin, hard-edged loupes that just meet the requirements. As capable as an iPhone is it is no replacement for a full frame camera, but thanks to Sony and many others, you can now fit a DSLR-quality image maker in your coat pocket. View full post »
KITTY! Ang Lee’s Life of Pi
The cinema was everything growing up. I practically lived there. It seemed like every week there was something interesting to go see. I want to stress the word interesting, because not all of it was good, but most of it gave you reason enough to go. Hell, even when the trailers weren’t so good we would go, because why not? $8 bucks is all you needed, double it if you wanted popcorn and soda, but only suckas bought treats from AMC. I gave everything a shot back then because it was just so cheap. I saw more bad movies than good ones, but it didn’t matter, until it did.
The 1st time I second guessed seeing a movie I was in college. My wallet wasn’t exactly stacked, but I wasn’t starving. I was making use of my artistic abilities, scraping some pennies together. I wasn’t about that Ramen diet life. It was awards season 2012 and I jetted to the cinema to catch Ang Lee’s Life of Pi. I remember sliding up to one of the spiffy new (at the time) self serve kiosks and zipping through the UI only to come to a grinding halt at the end. $17.50?! You cats charging $17.50 to see Life of Pi? At Kips Bay?! Kips Bay wasn’t a DUMP, but it wasn’t Lincoln Sq IMAX. At the latter prices had ballooned to $21.50 for 3D affairs. I felt a little guilty at first. Life of Pi was a great film, but I threw it in this “less than” category. I didn’t think twice about paying $20 bucks to see Avatar in IMAX 3D in 09’ but for some reason Life of Pi’s $17.50 struck me as egregious. Combine this with being hoodwinked by IMAX’s new digital theaters and my love affair with cinema was dwindling. Now that I had to think about the cost of the ticket, I was going to be real choosy about which films I went to see. View full post »
Timothy Evans’s brilliant drawing sums up my evenings.
Writing is a soul crushing exercise that I launch myself into on a daily basis. I’ve slowly come to the realization that I am not a writer, at least not one who likes writing. Do not be mistaken, I love creation. Creating worlds, characters, situations, those that resemble the ones we know and those that don’t fills me with glee. But transplanting those ideas to the page is akin to pushing a boulder up Mt. Everest. Jonah Nolan, Christopher’s gruffer, more American kid brother, spoke about this recently in this year’s THR Screenwriter’s Roundtable. Everyone tells you writing is hard work, but I’ve always felt guilty for actually not enjoying it. Writer’s block is an endless road I’m walking down in the dead of the winter with no shoes on. Quitting seems like a possibility at every instant until I remember I’m not good at much else and I’m forced to carry on. Every line I write I read as I’m moving onto the next one thinking “fuck that last bit is shit, I’ve got to go back and fix it”. How can you ever move on when your constantly looking back and futzing? It only gets better when I get closer to the end. When I can see the puzzle pieces of the climax forming into a recognizable image. It’s only then that I start to remember why I started on this journey. The thrill of having 90+ pages of my imagination to share with others and have them take it and turn it into something grander than I could have imagined. It always seems worth it in the end, but the finish line is never close enough.
The Xbox One: Day One Edition
Last week I gave you some early impressions of the PlayStation 4, this week I’m here with the Xbox One. I had no intention of buying this box so soon, but my impulses got the better of me. So here we are. The Xbox One is the most ambitious product Microsoft has put out in a long time. Microsoft has been beat to a lot of markets, most prominently the smartphone and tablet markets, and they’re aggressively trying to make sure that isn’t the case with the living room. The Xbox One is a jack of all trades device. Its part gaming system, part Roku 3, part Windows 8 machine, and large part GoogleTV. Microsoft has made a lot of the inclusion of Kinect, their secret weapon in the battle for living room supremacy. The Kinect reads faces, is always listening for your commands, and is the preferred method of navigation inside the Xbox One UI. The One is banking big on voice control being the killer app for their integrated box hoping to excel where Tivo, Google, and others have failed. Is the Xbox One the All-In-One device we have been waiting for or is it the best GoogleTV ever made?
Let’s start with the easy stuff, hardware. The Xbox One is huge. It is clear that Microsoft isn’t trying to relive the RROD nightmare that plagued the Xbox 360, there are vents everywhere. It’s almost as if Microsoft is using vents as some kind of design aesthetic. The box features a two-tone black color pattern. One side is full of gloss, the other is a more textured matte finish, very similar to the Playstation 4. However, next to the PS4 the Xbox One seems terribly lazy. The PS4 is svelte and tries to do something interesting with the black box motif, more importantly it packs the power brick INSIDE THE BOX. For as large as the Xbox One is, it still doesn’t accomplish that feat. Madness. It’s not tremendously egregious, it will blend in perfectly well with the rest of your home theater setup, just don’t expect it to win any beauty contest.
The Xbox One controller is kind of a mixed bag.
The Xbox 360 controller was wisely regarded as the best controller in gaming last gen. It was nearly perfect, great stick placement, not too big, fit well in the hand, but the DPad was awful and the battery pack bulged from the back center of the device. The Xbox One’s controller solves those two issues and also adds Impulse triggers. The triggers now have rumble motors in them and they are AWESOME. Forza Motorsport 5 is really the only game I’ve played that utilizes them, but they are integral to the experience. You can really feel the cars and gauge how much trouble you’re getting into. Microsoft has also messed with the shape and size of the unit. The new controller is flatter and narrower than the previous. It’s not so much smaller that your hands feel cramped after prolong usage, but I did find myself missing the spacious layout and feel of the DualShock 4. Like the DualShock 4, the Xbox One’s controller features a nice grippy texture though one different from the DualShock’s. Your hands just wants to stay on it, but Microsoft seems hell-bent on you leaving it down for most of the time. View full post »
It’s been 7 years since the Playstation 3 stormed into living rooms across the world. The hotly anticipated PS3 came with a lot of baggage, including a high price tag, a funky system architecture, and a woeful launch lineup. The Playstation 4 is a different beast. It is the cheaper of the next gen consoles, uses a well known x86 architecture that is more powerful than it’s competition, and it has a decent launch lineup. The Playstation 4 represents new Sony; a Sony that has an ear tuned to its audience and a seemingly insatiable desire to appease them. View full post »
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