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Monthly Archives: October 2014

Can the Megaplex Survive the iPhone?

While I still have a desire for Radio Accessory knowledge, I still take time for family and friends. I love fitness, going on cruises, family functions, and relaxing by a pool and serving people from my tiki bar which I built.

In an era where Video on Demand (VOD), near simultaneous DVD releases and now downloads to smart phones, the question is, can megaplexes survive the iPhone?

There are nearly 600 films released in the US every year. Many end up in the megaplexes. Some end up in your local art house or museum theater, some end up a VOD and some even can be downloaded to your iPhone, so you can see them while ignoring fellow mass transit riders.

Early last summer, the indie market was abuzz when prophets of gloom predicted the end of the independent feature film. Several small or boutique distributors either went belly or were swallowed up by their much larger brethren. The options for filmmakers were getting smaller.

Over at the megaplex where Hollywood’s latest popcorn films or chick flicks vie for the dubious and very transitory distinction of being the “#1 Film in America”, there is also a sense of gloom. Yes, gross sales are up this year. Many exhibitors are thankful for the recession They are convinced hard times make movie going affordable. Obviously they don’t buy their own concessions. But the studios and the exhibitors of all walks are on the same page. The way out of gloom is to look to the future and the future is digital. Economic well being will be assured and in the 3D. Despite the future bravado, actual attendance is at best the same. Inflation is the difference.

This is a quick view of the landscape. Both megaplexes and independent theatres see trouble on the horizon. They see VOD and even new platforms like cellphones as threats. The question asked earlier was, “Can the megaplex survive the iPhone?” The answer is simple, yes.

In the past Hollywood has fought television, then cable television, then the VCR, and then the DVD. They will fight anything new. Hollywood has more conservative thinkers than the last Republican. There will be many voices in La-La Land bemoaning the end of exhibition or the end of indie films, but nothing could be further from the truth.

When VCRs came around, not only did Hollywood find a new economic model spewing cash, new fans emerged. When DVDs established themselves, Hollywood found an amazing source of revenue, nearly twice as much as domestic exhibition with n near the cost. It was found money. They went from gloom to laughing all the way to the bank.

Both factors will come into play with new technologies – new audiences will be found and new revenue streams will flow. The megaplex will survive as will the independent theater. Both just need to be smart about what they do. One word of advice, embrace the new technologies. They are here to stay.
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Garen has been in the dark for years. As a film exhibitor, programmer and reviewer, he has seen thousands of films. Regularly on NE Cable News & NH Public Radio, he produces the Boston Science Fiction Film Festival. Besides film, he has a passion for being a Frugal Yankee.

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The Dead Actor’s Studio

What will you do if i said I had found a technological advancement article that is not only interesting but educational as well? I knew you would not believe me, so here it is the enlightening, excellent and fascinating piece

Imagine a young Marlon Brando starring alongside Johnny Depp, or Audrey Hepburn playing rival to Sandra Bullock as Marilyn Monroe stops by for a catty cameo.

Depending on how you look at it, this is either tantalizing ‘fantasy film making’ or else an utterly horrible, cash-in exercise in Hollywood excess. Whatever your viewpoint, it does seem likely that someone, somewhere will try this in the near future.

About three years ago, the news broke that George Lucas, the genius behind the ‘Star Wars’ merchandise (and a couple of related movies), was buying up the likeness rights to a plethora of iconic, yet deceased, leading men and famous actresses from Hollywood’s golden age. His plan? To use a concoction of existing footage, CGI and motion capture to create reasonable facsimiles of classic Hollywood stars and have them appear in future films, despite the notable handicap of being, well, dead.

Initially, it was just for one project, but it raised the prospect of other films being made, as well as a number of interesting philosophical issues.

The majority of critics reacted negatively to the notion of these ‘Franken-films’, some saying that the magic of an individual acting performance would be notably absent in the films, others upset that the actors themselves could potentially ‘star’ in projects that they may not have supported in life.

It really must be said, however, that blockbuster movies like 2009’s ‘Avatar’ and 2011’s ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ already received plaudits for their use of motion capture techniques and CGI ‘acting’. It is an accepted part of modern cinema, like it or not.

Lest we forget, George Lucas’ own ‘Star Wars’ films also featured a number of purely CG characters. In our era, we are becoming very used to CG characters; even CG versions of real actors are commonplace. It really isn’t a huge leap of imagination (or available technology) to foresee deceased stars headlining blockbusters once again.

We are also living in a world that specializes in the glorification of deceased idols and recycled imagery (take a look at this month’s music magazines and count how many times you see Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain or other dead stars on the covers). Look at the movie magazines as they feature young DeNiro as Travis Bickle, or Ray Liotta as Henry Hill. We, as consumers, are being conditioned to expect our stars to be able to do anything we can imagine, including coming back from the dead.

Why we want it:

The question here, to at least some degree, is ‘do we want it?’ but for now, I’m going to be positive and assume that we do…

Bringing classic actors back to ‘life’ would be a daring and controversial decision and would inspire all kinds of debates. It would also, no doubt, stimulate the film industry by providing literally hundreds of thousands of new prospects, pairings and casting choices.

On the downside, it would probably create an updated version of the old Hollywood studio system that would likely prove to be a legal nightmare involving no small amount of heartache for the families of the stars being featured. It could also have the negative effect of holding down upcoming talent.

However, many Hollywood actors do what they do for a shot at immortality and this is, frankly, the closest that they are likely to get to that goal. It would not surprise me at all if ‘likeness rights’ contracts started containing an ‘after death’ clause that specified use of the actor’s image in posthumous film projects.

Culturally speaking, in a world where dead musicians like Hendrix and 2Pac routinely release albums and where popular music is dominated by the ‘sampling’ (and in some cases, outright theft) of other works, or where film texts constantly, almost obsessive-compulsively, reference each other (in what has become the intertextual equivalent of an M.C Escher drawing), rehashing the stars of the past seems like an obvious choice.

Dead icons could spice up Hollywood by adding controversy, class and bankability to the summer’s contrived blockbuster selection. Plus, all their skeletons, secrets and shameful actions are already a matter of public record, so there’s no ill-timed revelatory ‘gossip’ that’s going to rear up and threaten the production.

Even those who oppose the making of such movies will still have to watch them in order to write the requisite bad reviews, this simply proves the old adage that controversy generates cash.

When can we expect it?

Oh snap, it already happened. In the year 2000, actor Oliver Reed sadly died during the filming of Ridley Scott’s ‘Gladiator’. In order for him to finish what would become his final role, the VFX team created a CG ‘mask’ of Reed’s face and used a body double to complete their film.

Remember that car advert with Steve McQueen? It has already begun.

Real, workable CGI stars are already a reality, but the technology does not yet exist to create a completely CG James Dean for a sequel to ‘Rebel Without a Cause’. I’d give it maybe 10-20 years before we start seeing the stars in respectful, tasteful cameo roles, or else old actors performing alongside their younger selves. After that, it’ll be 3-5 years before we see the screen idols like Errol Flynn, Clark Gable and Grace Kelly headlining movies again.

Cool factor 3/5 – It really depends on how these ‘stars’ are handled. The results could, potentially, be beautiful codas to a star’s career (which is how they could be sold to the audience), but they could also be horribly insulting, denigrating the work of great actors and actresses. Time is going to tell, as usual…

What is an Acoustic Transducer

Now then ladies and gentlemen, i have a different excellent headset piece of writing for you to read, i know, you do not have to thank me all, just add a social like to the short article to illustrate your appreciation.
An acoustic transducer is an electrical device that coverts sound wave vibrations into mechanical or electrical energy. They have various practical applications, including sound recording and sound playback. A specialized model, called an ultrasonic acoustic transducer, can be used to measure distance to, as well as the mass of, an object.

headphonesCommon types of acoustic transducers used in sound recording include microphones, headset, and guitar pickups. These create electrical energy when moving parts inside the transducer, such as electrical plates or ribbons, are exposed to sound vibrations. The electrical energy produced inside the transducer is sent first to an amplifier.

The amplifier then sends this energy to its final destination, usually a loudspeaker or recording device. The loudspeaker reproduces the sound at a level that the human ear can hear. A recording device will retain the electrical signal information. The recorder will send the stored signal to a loudspeaker during playback.

An ultrasonic acoustic transducer can be used to measure distance or the mass of an object. The most common type is the piezoelectric acoustic transducer. These include a piezoelectric ceramic element that creates and distributes ultrasonic sound waves.

Sound waves travel to an object from a piezoelectric transducer through material called a couplant. The couplant is usually water. Sound waves bounce off the object and return to the transducer in the form of an echo. The time it takes for these echoes to return to the transducer is used to calculate the distance to the object.

Underwater sound navigation and ranging (SONAR) is a common use of an ultrasonic acoustic transducer. SONAR uses directional beams of sound waves. This enables the SONAR operator to determine the direction and distance to an object.

SONAR systems can be active or passive. An active system sends out sound waves and listens for echoes. A passive system listens for noises made by ships, fish, and landmasses.

An electromagnetic acoustic transducer (EMAT) is another form of ultrasonic transducer. Instead of a ceramic element, an electro magnet is the main component of an EMAT. This is a type of non-contact, or non-destructive transducer. Unlike piezoelectric transducers, EMATs do not need a couplant to carry sound waves. Instead, two electromagnetic fields are generated to disburse ultrasonic waves.

EMATs can easily be used almost anywhere since no liquid is needed. For example, EMATs can be used to check for flaws in underground pipes. A downside to EMATs, compared to piezoelectric transducers, is that EMATs create weaker sound fields.

Could you Recommend Some Waterproof Headphones for me? Asked by Betty from Hammersmith

earpieceWhen we found this informative article we were so excited, having searched for over a year for this, finding it on this blog was an thrilling day for yours truly.

Hi Betty,

I take it you’re a newer reader and you therefore aren’t aware of my dislike for recommending specific sets of headphones. In a usual case, (like when one reader asked me to recommend sweat-proof headphones) I have to answer with “it depends on a multitude of factors, such as how often you use them, how important sound quality is to you or even (in that one case) how much you tend to sweat. However, I’m not going to let you down, Betty, because waterproof headphones are actually a bit different…

There are several companies that specialize in designing totally waterproof headphones, some of which I’ll be glad to recommend to you. However, at this point, I really must stress that I have never owned, borrowed, or even reviewed a pair of waterproof headphones, so although I am happy to point you in the right direction, I (metaphorically, of course) wash my hands of responsibility if they don’t quite work. My advice to you is to try Amazon first and read the customer reviews (especially the negative ones), before making your purchase.

Anyway, now that’s over and done with…

A company called ‘Swimmer LTD’ specialize in all things swimming related, with special emphasis on watertight cases for iPods, smartphones and even iPads. They also sell headphones, of course and their site features customer reviews for most of their products.

Another company called ‘H20 Audio’ also makes waterproof headphones and FINIS have a set called the ‘SwimP3’ which, dopey name aside, seems to be rather well-regarded by swimmers. The ‘SwimP3’ utilizes bone conduction technology, which is probably the best way to go if you’re planning on listening to music whilst swimming.

Bone conduction, in case you don’t know, simply bypasses the outer ear and stimulates the tiny inner ear bones (called ‘ossicles’), just as an organic sound would, your brain then interprets this sound exactly the same way as it would if you’d heard it in your ear, only, because your outer ear is not directly being used, you are free to wear earplugs (which some swimmers like to do).

These suggestions are by no means your only options though; there are a veritable ton of companies out there all manufacturing products exactly like the ones you want. So, whilst I can’t give any of them a personal seal of approval (sorry about that), I can at least offer a helping hand. Is that enough, Betty?

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