I recently had the pleasure of staying at The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove in Miami, Florida. Within the pages of one of the magazines in the room was this ad for The Ritz-Carlton. I love the visual suggestion of a cityscape created out of vintage and retro style product placement. It’s a strong and very masculine visual instantly recognizable as a skyline before your eye is able to deconstruct the image into it’s various parts of bottles, clocks, paperweights, flashlights and all other manner of recognizable and non-descript elements. The imagery is so powerful I kept flipping to the page with the ad just to decipher more of what made up the various forms. This was my favorite ad in the series, but not the only one that included the clever use of forms. Check out more here.
Though not a fan of vampires, werewolves or zombies over the weekend I saw “Song of the Living Dead” at the Promethean Theatre in the Black Box Theatre at Nova Southeastern University. This “Musical about love” “play about zombies” actually surprised and entertained me. We were warned ahead of time about two things: it’s raunchy and there will be blood. So with not much more than the title of the play, a little warning and clothes that could get bloody we set out with a group of friends to see the show.
The play opens with George and Judith on a beautiful day as they are getting engaged. Unbeknownst to them there has been a viral outbreak that’s reanimating corpses and of course all they want is brains! …except for the dyslexic kid zombie who wants “brians”. Intertwined in this mix is Harry Hardman, the over-the-top executive who is obsessed with the newly-engaged Judith. Harry is definitely a stand-out in the play providing such gems as the song “I’m F*ing Awesome” while wearing a double breasted suit with comically large shoulder pads (think of a business suit designed by the Romulans). As the zombie virus spreads Judith, George and a now commando version of Hardman end up trapped in a Party City with a small collective of other refugees.
A parallel storyline to the triangle of George, Judith and Harry is the Reverend Seabrook, a fire and brimstone preacher who leads his choir in “The Lord God Hates Them All”. Seabrook fears and holds in contempt anyone who is different than him and his faith all whilst encompassing the parable of the man in the flood. This leads to some very funny scenes involving him and the gay couple consisting of an Orthodox Jew and a Muslim – a hilarious trifecta of Rev. Seabrook’s hatred.
The play delivers on the promise of blood, there’s a “splash zone” in the first row, but the blood hit all the way back to the fifth. There is indisputably raunchiness, a zombie gives birth to a zombie fetus and there’s a scene about “Going Gay for Jesus”. The play is worth seeing and I hear rumors that the play might be extended through September 10th.
The final South Florida performance of Cirque Eloize iD was a visual feast. The technical direction and set design of the show are flawless. As for the story, I’m not sure I followed it. In fact, I’m not sure there is one. The show begins with a love scene that involves some very nice floor based gymnastics and lifts along with an act on a Chinese Pole and some break dance fighting. After that the plot is not really present and seems to be a jumbled mess of incongruent story lines. The only way that I picked up on this being like West Side Story is that it says so in the promo: West Side Story Meets Hip Hop. I definitely got the hip hop vibe. Although it added to the story, they used break dancing for filler every chance they got, sometimes needlessly. I personally think that their “fights” would be much more dynamic if they incorporated more capoeira techniques instead of trying to make break dancing look like fighting.
Story aside it was a beautiful show. The acts included traditional Cirque performances – aerial lyra, strength acts mixed with choreography, balancing acts, juggling, a contortionist, Cyr wheel and aerial silks. Newer performances were incorporated like jump rope, rollerblading, powerskips and BMX stunts (including audience participation). The one act that really seemed to impress the audience was the trampo-wall act, which involved the entire troupe. This act worked seamlessly with the stage decor, which incorporated trap doors, moving platforms, and digital imagery across it’s various surfaces as each performer did tricks and stunts up the many surfaces of the wall. Throughout the show I could pick up that the performers were tired – and rightfully so, they’ve been performing a rigorous schedule over the last month plus here in South Florida.
Coming from more of a backstage and technical background, the set design is what really impressed me. At any given time nearly every face of the stage design had digital imagery on it. This was accomplished through 9 projectors that must have overlapped with seamless edge-blending or overlapping projection and some major keystoning. The effect allowed for scenes to change while keeping the projection from being fully eclipsed by a performer’s body or other set piece. This is quite an accomplishment as the performers were up against the projection surface for much of the show.
Miami was the last leg of the US tour schedule, but if you have a chance to Cirque Eloise iD, I would take it. The visual experience of the technology behind the show along with the cirque acts is worth it. They even encourage audience participation through live lobby and house video along with constantly updated twitter and text feeds projected on stage.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon, the third installment in the Transformers trilogy is much better than the second movie. In fact they glance over so much of Revenge of the Fallen that it’s like the movie never happened. Seeing as how Fallen was not a good movie, it might be best to forget its existence. Megan Fox is mentioned maybe twice in the new movie and her absence explained as a break up. The racistly stereotypical ghetto twins are passed over as if to erase them from the franchise. Beyond the holes in the thru line this movie actually followed a story and the fight scenes were kept to a tolerable length that don’t cause seizures and confusion like the second film.
The movie was good, not as good as the first, but a strong film for the genre. A few elements were added that I was not expecting. Civilians are actually shown being killed, and the transformers have a lot more fluids spewing from them like spit, and blood – or is that transmission fluid? Once again many of the characters that have been in the other movies have few, if any, speaking lines. Ratchet and Sideswipe barely speak and Barricade is only seen during a panning shot of one of the fight scenes.
I didn’t see the movie in 3D, but the 2D version was worth a look. I hear that the 3D was done well and not an afterthought like it has been in so many movies lately. If you are a Transformers fan or like action movies that have a plot go see this one. If you have yet to see the second one, don’t bother. Let that one sit in purgatory to think about how bad it was.
Imagine a structure 164 feet tall, that uses 120 trucks to move and several days to assemble. Now imagine that same structure surrounded by 50,000 to 300,000 people per tour stop; pretty impressive, right?
June 29th U2 landed their space ship like stage in Sun Life Stadium. This monster stage – the largest touring stage ever built – looks like a giant claw or a structure built by NASA. The stage has four legs that support a center column of LCD screens, speaker stacks, and even four aerial lighting platforms that 12 crew strap in to and get hoisted into positions within the legs. A giant spire looks as though it’s been thrust through the whole apparatus, and the stage has two concentric circles of performance platforms. There was a lot of buzz about both the stage and the tour when I went to LDI in 2009, but even with the advanced knowledge I couldn’t grasp the magnitude of this concert.
The idea of the stage, as the “360” tour name suggests, is a concert in the round. Instead of the traditional stage flanked by speaker stacks and fans only concentrated in one direction, the fans literally surround the stage. This stage did everything functionally and SFX wise that I was hoping for. Whenever I’d say “it would be cool if…” all of sudden that very thing would happen – smoke, LCD screens moving, elevator systems for bringing equipment on stage, even the ramps that span from the inner circle to the outer circle moved! With 432 speakers distributed between eight speakers stacks the sound quality was excellent no matter where you sat. This was truly a feast for the eyes and a massage for the ear drums.
U2s songs reverberated through the stadium and the crowd was so in tune to it that you could feel it. Yes in the way you do at a normal concert where you feel the bass and the music, but there was more than that. As people were clapping, stomping, and jumping I could actually feel the vibrations through the steel of the prestressed concrete of the stadium. This was both really cool, and a little disconcerting all at the same time. My mind kept bouncing between enjoying the show and worrying about the stadiums mechanical resonance and how that affected the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Obviously the fans did not cause the stadium to shake itself apart, or you would be reading about somewhere else than my blog.
This was one impressive concert. We left the stadium visually stimulated, physically resonated, and all over tired. If you want to check the tour out, there are only 10 stops left of the 109 scheduled on the tour. So get your tickets or watch it online!
Imagine being able to truly refocus your pictures after they have been taken. Imagine a day when you never have to complain that the auto focus captured the wrong part of a picture. Imagine a single image where everything is simultaneously in focus and out of focus. You probably won’t have to image for much longer.
Mountain View, California based Lytro is claiming to refocus the photography market with cutting edge light field technology. This new technology captures the entire light field upon snapping a photo allowing the photographer or viewer to manipulate the focus and other dynamics of the photo after the picture has been taken.
I’ll be interested to see how the technology progresses and what the consumer response is. The interactive samples that they have on the website are fun to play with, but I see a little bit of odd artifacting between the in focus parts of the images and the bokeh. This is something that the everyday consumer may not mind or even notice, but for professional applications it could be a problem. I’m sure this is an issue that will be worked out in subsequent generations of the technology.
I definitely see potential for this technology not only in the civilian market, but also in the military, intelligence, and police sectors. Nearly every CSI type of cop show has the squints manipulate some ridiculously out-of-focus or damaged photo into some crystal clear image. Being a design professional with nearly 8 years of professional digital image manipulation experience I used to scoff at the ability to enhance a photo that much with so little information, but now it seems possible in the not so distant future. If security and surveillance systems were outfitted with the technology they could really analyze the subject matter to it’s fullest. The technology of this camera may even go a step further from the omni-focus video cameras introduced last year.
This will be an interesting camera system to watch. I can guarantee I won’t be trading in my Nikon anytime soon, but I might pick up a Lytro lens if one comes out with a Nikon mount.