Exciting (and much needed) new developments are afoot at the DC Universe!
DC is heralding the overhaul of its Universe spanning movies, shows, animation, and games. Spearheading their efforts is Co-CEO James Gunn, a wunderkind producer, who has the resourceful Peter Safran by his side as the other Co-CEO. Together, they are working to breathe new life into what has mostly been moody, dark superhero films that have not found success at levels that Marvel Studios have (Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy should be considered a cut and a franchise in itself apart).
DC’s slate of awesome characters from the dark, moody Batman (and Bat family), the above-reproach overpowered hero that is Superman, the interesting Lanterns, the strong female hero Wonder Woman, the ever-witty Flash, and the rest – all need the storytelling prowess and overarching arcs that we have become accustomed to (even fatigued a little, perhaps) at Marvel.
Given that DC is owned by the Warner Brothers group, which also owns the HBO platform, so far DC’s forays have largely neglected and underutilized the platform that is admired for the quality of their content and the talent of their writers & makers. That seems about to change, and would surely be welcome.
We, as audience to the unfolding, competing superhero Universe shall truly be the beneficiary of these craftsmen’s machinations and imaginations.
In their new short “The Blue Umbrella”, Pixar Animation Studios outdo themselves. The animation is cutting-edge photorealistic to the point that is almost impossible to believe that the entire piece is Computer Generated (CG).
In order to render the magic of the city and the two main characters – a blue and a red umbrella, Pixar resorted to a number of new animation and special effects technologies, which the short fantastically showcases.
Among the various techniques used, prominent are – Global Illumination, Deep Image Compositing and Camera Motion Capture – all set against an enchanting backdrop of dreamy out-of-focus imagery.
Global illumination is “a simulation of how light is emitted and reflected off surfaces, not only the light which comes directly from a light source (direct illumination), but also subsequent cases in which light rays from the same source are reflected by other surfaces in the scene (indirect illumination).” These processor intensive scenes often took 20 to 30 hours to render an image for one frame of film.
Deep Image Compositing is where a scene is created by layering images with notion of depth data in addition to the usual color and opacity channels, giving greater depth of field. Finally, Camera Motion Capture is a technique of reshooting rendered scenes by recording the physical movements of a dummy camera to create a handheld feel.
An excerpt of the glorious culmination of these techniques and technologies is seen below. Just remember, it is entirely animated!
The United Nations (UN) is about to do something it has never done before. It is going to its first war.
The UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been on the ground since 1999 and over the years the maximum 19,815 personnel mission has seen next-door neighbor Rwanda’s genocide spillover to anarchy, has been silent witness to rebel forces’ taking over Goma, the country’s second-largest city and has recently seen the surging violence of murder and rape of innocent Congolese.
On 28 March 2013, frustrated and exasperated with recurrent waves of conflict, the UN Security Council (UNSC) decided by Resolution 2098, to create a specialized ‘intervention brigade’, with a mandate “of neutralizing armed groups and the objective of contributing to reducing the threat posed by armed groups to state authority and civilian security in eastern DRC and to make space for stabilization activities”, for which it is “authorized to use all necessary means to carry out its mandate.”
However, should Bangladesh not conduct censuses beyond 2021, we would be losing out on valuable information that indicate where our economy and our demography are heading, and help guide policy matters. The UK is also planning similar changes and researchers are worried at the loss of invaluable info. In a world of ‘denominator management’, a small population (i.e. a small denominator) makes most economic indicators seem rosier. But to truly know where we stand and where we need to be, we need such detailed information and regular censuses, no matter how politically unpalatable or logistically nightmarish the process may be.
We are, or more accurately, are compelled to becoming tach savvy to the point where we are becoming regular hackers. No, I do not mean hacking small everyday DIY stuff, like they teach at Lifehacker. I mean to hack into your gadgets to make it do things it wasn’t originally meant to, to build smart gadgets & robots with a $25 ARM Linux box computer, to use virtual currency that’s decentralized and encrypted, to go on networks that provide anonymous, untraceable exploration and communication – and the sorts.
Jailbreaking, rooting and hacking your devices has become so commonplace that often the choice of hardware depends on the ease of figuratively prying it open and gaining capabilities that are beyond the ‘official’ technical specs or above the approved apps list, be it your smartphone, your game console, your set-top box or even all combinations thereof.