Why the Hobbit movies were such a mess

peter jackson

tl;dr: they had no prep time, made real-time changes to the story as they shot it, and props and scenes were thrown together as they needed them. Jackson says that his winging-it—"making it up there and then on the spot"—finally fell apart when they came to shooting the big battle scenes. [via]

"I didn't know what the hell I was doing" — Peter Jackson.

The proposed narrative is that they paused shooting, got their shit together, then figured out how to make a great film. Read the rest

Footage of Paris cafe attack posted

paris attack

The day after authorities in Paris say they killed the suspected ringleader of last week's terror attacks, footage has emerged of one of the targeted cafés.

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Reuters bans RAW photos because they're easier to manipulate

Reuters, the news agency, has banned photographers from filing photos captured in RAW format, mandating in-camera JPGs instead. This, it believes, will cut down on processing time—and prevent photographers from editorializing their images.
“As eyewitness accounts of events covered by dedicated and responsible journalists, Reuters Pictures must reflect reality. While we aim for photography of the highest aesthetic quality, our goal is not to artistically interpret the news."

Filing RAW is the equivalent of handing unprocessed film, instead of a print, to your page layout guys. It shouldn't be their headache. So that complaint makes sense.

But the thing about photomanipulation? This strikes me as a human resources problem being misunderstood as a technical problem.

Whatever else you might say about the increased latitude for photomanipulation that RAW images provide, one can easily convert a worked RAW photo to JPG before filing it. Asking everyone to capture photos as JPGs won't make "arty" shooters more honest. Read the rest

Ban proposed for ads for drugs and medical gadgets


Studies are routinely hand-picked to make drugs seem more effective than they are, television constantly tells you to take drugs, and doctors prescribing drugs get kickbacks from phamaceutical companies. Maybe it's time to knock out one of these three problems for good.

On Tuesday, the American Medical Association (AMA) called for a ban on direct-to-consumer advertisements for prescription drugs and medical devices. Such ads drive demand and costs for expensive name-brand treatments when those drugs may not be appropriate or when clinically effective, low-cost options are available, the doctors group said. The announcement is part of a larger effort by the association to make prescription drugs more affordable.

From the statement:

“Today’s vote in support of an advertising ban reflects concerns among physicians about the negative impact of commercially-driven promotions, and the role that marketing costs play in fueling escalating drug prices,” said AMA Board Chair-elect Patrice A. Harris, M.D., M.A. “Direct-to-consumer advertising also inflates demand for new and more expensive drugs, even when these drugs may not be appropriate.”

The U.S. and New Zealand are reportedly the only two countries that allow direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription-only medication. There's a patent-abuse problem, too:

New AMA policy responds to deepened concerns that anticompetitive behavior in a consolidated pharmaceutical marketplace has the potential to increase drug prices. The AMA will encourage actions by federal regulators to limit anticompetitive behavior by pharmaceutical companies attempting to reduce competition from generic manufacturers through manipulation of patent protections and abuse of regulatory exclusivity incentives.

The AMA will also monitor pharmaceutical company mergers and acquisitions, as well as the impact of such actions on drug prices.

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Structural engineer unimpressed by suspension bridge collapse scenes in movies


Engineer Alex Weinberg reviews suspension bridge scenes in movies and finds their representation of structural mechanics to be wobbly at best.

Embedded above is the most accurate he found, from Final Destination V.

The origin of the structural failure in this situation is pretty absurd because the asphalt driving surface on a traffic bridge is non-structural. The road itself rests on a steel structure, which would probably not be seriously compromised by some sawing and jackhammering on the asphalt. Further, it’s hard to invent a scenario in which any of this could cause a failure at the top of a vertical suspender. But who knows, maybe there had been some plot-friendly corrosion in the steel. Regardless of the initial cause of failure, the collapse progresses in a halfway believable manner: The road deck falls, but the main catenary cables and the bridge towers remain. With no road to support, the vertical cables swing dumbly over the void.

Most scenes, however, are very bad indeed, like this one from The Dark Knight Rises. "I consider this the worst suspension bridge destruction scene in motion picture history," he writes.

His roundup serves as a nice overview of the symbolism of suspension bridges, too. Alas, our directors score only 2 unnerving metallic whipping noises out of 10. Must try harder! [via] Read the rest

Zoolander 2 trailer


At last. At last.

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Snail shell magnified 2500:1

© Eye of Science
This is apparently a 2500:1 shot of a White-lipped snail, showing its finery in the finest detail. Eye of Science is the source, and offers many more striking examples of nature photography. [via] Read the rest

There's nothing new about the 7-9 rating scale for video games


This amusing criticism of game rating inflation is doing the rounds. Who can deny that game ratings are inflated? And that if it gets less than 7, it's gonna suck.

But the suggestion that this inflation is a phenomenon of the 2010s; now, that is suspect. I cracked open a 1990s copy of ACE magazine—one of the more popular British general-purpose gaming mags of the 16-bit era—and it had the following scores. (They're normalized to "out of 10"; ACE rated games out of 1000)

Issue 15:

Operation Wolf 9 Joan of Arc 9 Powerdrome 9 Bombuzal 9 Rocket Ranger 8 R-Type 9 Space Harrier compilation 7 Typhoon 7 Menace 7 Hostages 7 Albedo 7 Action service 6 Mad Mix 5

The only game that gets less than 6/10 is a promotional merch for a drink mix. Basically, every credible commercial product gets at least 7/10. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose! Read the rest

Doctor Who's real name is d³∑x²


Honestly, some parents. What on Earth were they thinking?

The Doctor's real name revealed in 1980 comic book. Credit to u/swanzie for image. [r/doctorwho] Read the rest

Formeowla One


This preview of next season's engines reveals categorical differences with the current specifications. (Reddit, amazingly, found the original.) Read the rest

Famous entreprenuers' hits and misses visualized


If you think the recent Steve Jobs movie was oversimplified, wait until you get a load of The Careers of the Founders, a visualization of famous entrepreneurs' hits and misses.

How did the greatest entrepreneurs start out? What were their biggest successes? What failures did they have to overcome along the way? We’ve charted the careers of 33 inspirational company founders, from the man behind Heinz beans to the woman behind Ultimo bras, to show that there’s more than one path to success.

Though it invites editorialization, at least in this context, I like the timeline visualization a lot. Sadly, the code doesn't seem to be available. Read the rest

Some Mormons angry at church plans to shun children of gay parents


Proposed rules in the Mormon church would deny baptism to the children of gay parents until they are 18 years old, and mandate that they denounce homosexuality in order to receive it.

The BBC reports that the plans have triggered a threat of "mass resignations" among less bigoted Mormons.

Both liberal and conservative Mormon groups have criticised the changes.

"The surprising impact has been the amount of people who are confused and troubled and disturbed and, frankly, repulsed," Mormon scholar Patrick Mason told Reuters.

"And these aren't just progressives and LGBT advocates. They are saying, 'This doesn't feel right. This doesn't square with me.'"

The church had seemed to become more comfortable with same-sex relationships after this year's Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage, supporting anti-discrimination measures and statewide LGBT protections in Utah. But it has since reaffirmed its position that "sexual relations between people of the same sex are sinful" and unacceptable to the church.

A rally was held over the weekend in Salt Lake City to protest the rules, despite last-minute promises to "tweak" them.

On Friday, LDS Church leaders attempted to tweak the policy in advance of the protest. They clarified that the policy only applies to children whose “primary residence” is with same-sex parents. If, for example, they only visit a parent in a same-sex relationship on weekends, they can still receive the same various blessings as other Mormon youth. The policy is also not retroactive to children who were already baptized but now live with same-sex parents.

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Listen to all the strange music on the internet, randomly


Metaratr serves up the unlistened-to work of amateur and prospective musicians on Soundcloud. Who knows—maybe you'll be the one to discover the next Justin Bieber!

M E T A R A T R is a site where you find songs you've probably never listened or wanted to listen to. pick a name and password and click one of the five buttons below over and over again! there's even a leaderboard, maybe.

You can ask it to give you only terrible music, if you like. You may also assign favor, as the name suggests. The first item served up for me was Stop Bringing Me Waffles by caj formal, which seems exactly the sort of thing the internet was invented for.

Top o' the Metaratr chart, though, is a lovely bloopy synth track, SC009 Maxo - Eddy Vancouver by Activia Benz.

Metaratr doesn't seem to work in Chrome, but maybe it's just having some trouble today with all the hits. Firefox worked fine for me.

Photo: Shutterstock Read the rest

What exactly is hidden in the pyramids?


They're described as "anomalies," reflecting the nature of the non-invasive technology used to try and see into the stone of the Egyptian pyramids.

But what exactly do the temperature differences reveal? "Unknown internal structures and cavities", reports CNN: voids that could be hidden chambers within the ancient monuments.

The investigation has found one "particularly impressive" anomaly at the Khufu pyramid -- the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still standing and the largest Pyramid ever built.

The results have come just two weeks into Operation Scan Pyramids, which will last until the end of 2016. The scientific mission uses "noninvasive visualization techniques," including 3-D scans with lasers and drones, to see inside the pyramids.

Maybe it'll be full of grain. Read the rest

Watch the ultimate 5-minute 1980s nostalgia video


A video remix of Flock of Seagulls's I Ran and a whole bunch of NTSC-haloed TV ads, uploaded to youtube by g1MisterBo, The 80s.mp4 features much that is good and very little that is bad about that decade. [via r/videos]


You'll probably be listening to vaporwave all day, now, for which I offer no apology. Read the rest

Violin performance accompanied by moaning plumbing


Behold the Triple concerto for faucet, water pipes and fiddle, by the Altra Volta String Quartet.

Jacek Dzwonowski performs both the traditional instrument and its postmodern counterpart.

Here is another example, apparently shot in a Russian dormitory.

May the plumbing of the former Eastern Bloc never be repaired. Read the rest

Protesters march in Minneapolis after police shooting


Officers reportedly shot an assault suspect who hindered EMS access to his victim in Minneapolis on Sunday, but many locals are unhappy with the force's version of events.

The man was handcuffed at the time he was fired upon, according to eyewitnesses, though police chief Janeé Harteau said Sunday afternoon that the man was not handcuffed when police shot him.

The Minneapolis NAACP identified the man as Jamar Clark, whose medical condition is unclear.

The confrontation began about 12:45 a.m. in the 1600 block of Plymouth Avenue N., according to police. Authorities have yet to reveal the identities of the people involved or elaborate on the exact circumstances leading up to the assault.

Nekelia Sharp, who lives across the street, said an ambulance was called after the suspect and his girlfriend got into an argument. While paramedics were taking the girlfriend away, the suspect tried to talk to her. Sharp said that’s when he was handcuffed and then shot.

Bystanders swarmed as emergency vehicles were responding. In a video posted on Facebook by a witness, one woman was repeatedly shouting, “Y’all just killed that man!” Others nearby were pointing at police and taunting them.

A protest formed and marched on the police station, writes The Associated Press.

Jason Sole, chair of the Minneapolis NAACP's criminal justice committee, said many black residents of north Minneapolis are upset.

"We have been saying for a significant amount of time that Minneapolis is one bullet away from Ferguson," he said referring to the shooting by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri last year of black 18-year-old Michael Brown, which sparked nationwide protests.

Read the rest

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