Tag Archives: film

It’s now the future again

So one more landmark in the impossibly far-off future has passed. 1997, when Skynet became operational? Last millennium. Year 2000, when our technological society was destroyed because all the computers had the Y2K bug? Check. 2001, the year we find the monolith on the moon? So last decade. 2010, the year we make contact? In the past. It’s 2015 now. October 21st 2015, about 4:25 pm Pacific Time as I write this. At 4:29, Marty McFly arrives in a flying DeLorean having come directly from 1985.

Now, obviously the Back To The Future movies were never meant as serious predictions of future events. I mean, really? Cubs win World Series? Come on. The BTTF movies’ creators depicted a fantastic future, one they could have fun with. It’s a comedy, after all.

That said, I’m writing this post to explore the technologies shown in BTTF 2 and the possibility that we might actually have them by now.

So here are the ones that stand out in my mind, in no particular order:

  • Flying things. Cars, hoverboards, dog walkers.
    • Cars: Flying cars have actually been around for a long time, they just never became very popular. Depending on how one interprets the word “car”, one could say that 1917’s Curtiss Autoplane fits this description. References: Wikipedia (yeah, I know it’s not a reliable source but I don’t feel like looking up the actual sources) 1, 2, 3
    • Hoverboards: Definitely not cheap enough that you’d build these into a hoverboard and give one to your little girl, but I’d say this quantum levitation video is close enough. Plus the video’s from 2011; we’ve had some time to improve the tech since then.
    • Dog walkers: Yes and no. I say “yes, we have these” because quadcopter drones have become cheap enough that I can imagine somebody hooking theirs up to a dog’s leash as a joke. I say “no, we don’t have these” because those cheap little drones would never be able to resist the dog’s pull. It would be as if the dog were just allowed to walk free.
  • Fax machines everywhere, even in our mailboxes: While I will give some credit for predicting the prevalence of electronic communications, the movie specifically showed fax machines. Nobody uses fax anymore. I have a machine – actually a multi-function printer – but it’s not hooked up to a phone line. That’s a far cry from the McFly family having machines all over their house all printing the same fax at the same time.
  • Big TVs: They’re here. Obviously not as comically over-sized as the wall-covering screen Marty Jr. uses to watch six channels at once, but today’s TVs are really huge compared to the ones in 1985. Also, bonus points for predicting flat-panel display technology and widescreen video.
  • The Scene Screen: Speaking of TVs, this I think is one of the more plausible technologies BTTF 2 demonstrated. Roll-up window shades have always been passable projection screens. Now we have projectors so tiny they could conceivably be hidden inside a nearby table or something. Combine that with a Kinect to identify the screen’s location and effective dimensions (which may change as the screen gets rolled/unrolled) and a Raspberry Pi to run it all. I think this is doable.
  • Robot trash cans: Not exactly commonplace, but they do exist.
  • Head-mounted TV/telephones: We’ve got better ones. Better because ours can fit in our pockets and can run apps (they are actually computers, after all).
  • Dust-repellent paper books: Who cares about protecting books from dust when you can coat them with superhydrophobic spray and then just wash the dust off? I don’t know if superhydrophobic coating would actually be good for the book’s pages (has it ever been tried? Would it make the pages stick together?) but I like this idea.
  • Instant sleep-inducing devices: As far as I know, we’ve got nothing even close.
  • Instant food hydrators: You want your food hydrated? Just pour some water on it.
  • Home nuclear reactors: While nobody’s yet build a reactor into something the size of a coffee grinder (the actual Mr. Fusion prop used in the BTTF movies was a Krups coffee grinder), home nuclear reactors can be built. See, for example, this Popular Science article from 2007. Cold fusion is still not a thing though.
  • Holographic sharks: Not quite as unrealistic as you may think. Still impossible though.

So what technologies, from these or other movies, stand out to you? How probable do you think they are? Let me know in the comments!

Stay happy, stay free, and don’t forget that you don’t need to be a consumer.


Libraries like The Pirate Bay are useful

So I’m big into dragons. Really love them. It’s why I use this dragon icon everywhere.

I’m also into movies. One of my favorite movies is 1996’s Dragonheart. It had a well-written story, great acting, and a CGI dragon so realistic that this 20-year-old movie could easily compete with modern movies, visually speaking.

Dragonheart 3 got released earlier this year. I was vaguely aware of there being a Dragonheart 2, but never heard anything about 3 until I happened to do a search for it on IMDb just to see if anything would come up.

I am considering buying all 3 movies. I have #1 on a letterboxed DVD; I would prefer it in high-definition widescreen. I torrented 2 and 3 a few nights ago to see if they’re worth buying.

IMDb currently has the following ratings for these movies:

Movie Rating
Dragonheart 1 6.4
Dragonheart 2: A New Beginning 4.5
Dragonheart 3: The Sorcerer’s Curse 5.1

So none of these movies are that great. Fine. I’ve already set my heart on re-buying the best of the 3. I figured if I watch the worst one and like it, then I’ll get all of them. On the other hand if I don’t like A New Beginning, I should still give the latest movie a try.

so I watched A New Beginning this morning… and I loved it. Granted, it didn’t live up to the quality of the original, but then sequels rarely do. Plus the original had Sean Connery.

I’ve probably mentioned before how I think of The Pirate Bay as like one giant library. I am not exaggerating when I say that I think they are the best, largest library on Earth. You can check out movies and books and other things for free and never have to return them, though you are asked to seed the torrents which I guess is a bit like returning stuff in that it enables others to then check them out. My point is, without this massive free library at my disposal – had I been forced to rely on reviews and ratings – I would have passed these sequels by, never giving them a second thought.

IMDb movie ratings are useful to me as a quick-and-dirty way to judge a movie without wasting my time and money watching it. I find that the ratings fall into these general categories:

  • 8.0-10.0: Buy it. Sell your house if you have to.
  • 7.0-8.0: “So good it’s bad”. The movie is truly great, but it’s just got so many little problems – so many things that you think could have been done better – that it actually loses some entertainment value because you just keep concentrating on how it should have been made.
  • 6.0-7.0: Good movies. Definitely worth buying, provided they’re not too expensive.
  • 5.0-6.0: Probably worth spending a little money on (like $5 or so), but try before you buy.
  • 4.0-5.0: Probably not worth spending money on, but I’ll give these films a chance if I can do it for free.
  • 3.0-4.0: “So bad it’s good” territory here. These movies may actually be worse than those in the 1-3 range, but they are so inadvertently laughable that they gain some entertainment value. “The Room” would fit in this category in my opinion.
  • 1.0-3.0: Bottom of the barrel. Avoid these movies. Pretend they don’t exist.

The Blender Foundation wants to make a Free movie.

The Blender Foundation has announced that they want to make a movie. They’re crowdfunding it with the hope of reaching €1.9 million (that’s $2.626 million US dollars calculated using DuckDuckGo). €1.6 million with their own resources, for a total of €3.5 million ($4.837 million). That’s the minimum amount they would need to make Project Gooseberry, as they’re currently calling it.

The best part is, this being the Blender Institute (makes of great shorts like Big Buck Bunny and Sintel), they’ll release everything Free under the Creative Commons Attribution license. In fact, they’ve already started doing that.

Misc. Filmmaking Tips and Resources

Anyone who’s read my previous post on this blog knows that I’m currently working on a short film based on Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘The Raven’. I thought I’d write this post to share some miscellaneous tips and ideas that I have found useful during the filmmaking process. They’re organized (very roughly) in order of when you will probably need them, earliest being first.

-The Idea/Script

Often, for me at least, the hardest step in the filmmaking process is the first step: coming up with a good film idea. I like to film, I get the urge to pick up a video camera, but I have no idea what to do with it. Here are a few solutions. Continue reading Misc. Filmmaking Tips and Resources

The Raven short film

My friend Jack and I are currently working on a short film based on Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘The Raven’. Our basic idea is to have the raven not be a literal raven, nor a model or statue like in other short film interpretations, but actually played by a human actor. The same actor as plays the man. The raven is, at least in my interpretation of the poem, actually a representation of the darker parts of the man’s soul.

The costume design will be fairly simple. The raven will wear dark clothing, preferably all black, with newspaper or cloth ‘wings’ hanging from his arms, and probably a paper or paper mache beak. His hair, assuming it’s ever visible, I imagine being so slick and oily it lies flat on his head, not a single strand sticking up. He’ll be lit dimly, and may even be out of focus in some shots, so his costume will not need much detail. The acting for that character I imagine will involve mostly using different postures with little actual movement during shots. Continue reading The Raven short film