Boing Boing 

BB Video: This Week in Space And Aviation, with Miles O'Brien


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Boing Boing Video guest correspondent Miles O'Brien checks in with us for an update on the scheduled launch of the Space Shuttle, and on new information about what may have led to the recent Air France crash, and finally, on the confirmation that geese -- yes, geese -- were responsible for the emergency conditions that led to the "miracle on the Hudson" emergency landing.

Follow Miles' coverage of Endeavor's scheduled launch at spaceflightnow.com, or follow him on Twitter: @milesobrien.

Update, 11:15pm PT: From Miles' live-tweeting at the launch site: the space shuttle Endeavour launch has just been postponed because of another leak in the gaseous hydrogen venting system between the launch pad and external fuel tank.

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Sponsor shout-out: This week's Boing Boing Video episodes are brought to you in part by WEPC.com, in partnership with Intel and Asus. WePC.com is a site where users come together to "share ideas, images and inspiration about the ideal PC." Participants' designs, feature ideas and community feedback will be evaluated by ASUS and "will influence the blueprint for an actual notebook PC built by ASUS with Intel inside."

BB Video: Maker Faire Selects - CandyFab, DIY Screen Printing, Electric Music.


(Download / YouTube) In today's edition of Boing Boing Video, Mark Frauenfelder and Boing Boing Gadgets editor Lisa Katayama profile three cool things found at the recent Bay Area Maker Faire: The Yudu personal screen printer, an interactive, collaborative, musical Tesla Coil, and a candy-fabbing device from Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories. Below, one of the freaky, free-form sugar creations produced (photo courtesy Windell of Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories)

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Where to Find Boing Boing Video: RSS feed for new episodes here, YouTube channel here, subscribe on iTunes here. Get Twitter updates every time there's a new ep by following @boingboingvideo, and here are blog post archives for Boing Boing Video. (Special thanks to Boing Boing's video hosting partner Episodic, and to Wayneco Heavy Industries!).


Sponsor shout-out: This week's Boing Boing Video episodes are brought to you in part by WEPC.com, in partnership with Intel and Asus. WePC.com is a site where users come together to "share ideas, images and inspiration about the ideal PC." Participants' designs, feature ideas and community feedback will be evaluated by ASUS and "will influence the blueprint for an actual notebook PC built by ASUS with Intel inside."

BB Video: Miles O'Brien on Technology Questions in The Air France Disaster


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In today's episode of Boing Boing Video, space/aviation/tech reporter Miles O'Brien speaks with me about the role of technology in the recent Air France crash.

He answers a number of questions posed here on Boing Boing by commenters on our previous episodes: how "black boxes" work, why they're not built to float, whether they would be more effective if they streamed data constantly while in use, and whether more training in the "lower-tech" aspects of piloting could have helped.

Since we taped this two-way conversation on Friday, recovery teams off the coast of Brazil have recovered some 16 bodies, and wreckage from the crash.

Here's a snip from his latest blog post about the disaster, over at True Slant.

The Air France 447 mystery may never be solved beyond a shadow of doubt, but there are some telling, tragic clues to consider based on what we know about the airplane systems and the extreme weather and aerodynamic conditions it encountered before it went down a week ago.

First, a bit of aerodynamics: The doomed Airbus A-330-200 was flying ever so close to its maximum altitude - in a zone pilots call the "Coffin Corner". It refers to the edge of so-called "flight envelope" of an aircraft. At this altitude, the air is much thinner and that significantly narrows the swath of speed at which the airplane can safely operate.

Read the whole post: "The 'Coffin Corner' and a 'Mesoscale' Maw." And speaking of True Slant, check out these two articles about the recently-launched site, a rare refuge for hardcore journalism in these hard times: Washington Post, and Associated Press.

If you're interested in this story -- or in aviation and space news in general -- you really should also follow Miles on Twitter to see his thought-stream unfold in real time.


Sponsor shout-out: This week's Boing Boing Video episodes are brought to you in part by WEPC.com, in partnership with Intel and Asus. WePC.com is a site where users come together to "share ideas, images and inspiration about the ideal PC." Participants' designs, feature ideas and community feedback will be evaluated by ASUS and "will influence the blueprint for an actual notebook PC built by ASUS with Intel inside."

BB Video + PopSci: Frozen on Video - Theo Gray Sculpts in Solid Mercury, with Some Help from Liquid Nitrogen


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Boing Boing Video teams up with PopSci and Theo Gray to bring you today's episode -- in which the MAD SCIENCE author shows you how to make delicious mercury-sicles shaped like fishies and turtles!

Okay, okay, you're not supposed to eat them at all. In fact, the safety precautions in the production of this episode were probably more extreme than in any video we've ever published, because even the tiniest amount of mercury is incredibly toxic to humans.

I don't want to spoil the surprise here, so -- hop on over to PopSci.com for the whole story on this dangerous but beautiful experiment in how to work with mercury as a solid: Frozen on Video: Theo Gray Sculpts in Solid Mercury, with Some Help from Liquid Nitrogen.


Where to Find Boing Boing Video: RSS feed for new episodes here, , subscribe on iTunes here. Get Twitter updates every time there's a new ep by following @boingboingvideo, and here are blog post archives for Boing Boing Video. (Thanks to Boing Boing's video hosting partner Episodic, to Paul Adams and Mike Haney of PopSci, and to Theo Gray and photog Nick Mann!)

BB Video: "Olé Cordobes," a 1966 Scopitone (via Oddball Film + Video)


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Today's episode of Boing Boing Video, via Oddball Film + Video, is a 1966 Scopitone that tells the romantic tale of a Spanish bullfighter, with help from an Amy Winehouse lookalike and mustachioed Flamenco dudes bearing overwrought facial expressions. The song is "Olé Cordobes," the credited artist is Miguel Cordoba.

Wait -- what's a Scopitone, you ask? Well, basically -- 1960s video jukeboxes. As Pesco blogged earlier this year on Boing Boing, "Scopitones and Cineboxes were first introduced in Europe in 1959-1960 and came to the US a few years later. The coin-operated machines were quite popular but were swept into the dustbin of dead media by the 1970s."

More required reading, if you're interested in the history of these primordial music video jukeboxen:

* Scopitone Archive
* Wikipedia entry
* NPR: Rise and Fall of the Scopitone Jukebox
* Scopitone of the Day

The video comes to us as a special courtesy of Oddball Film + Video, a San Francisco stock footage company that maintains a truly amazing and extensive archive of weird old moving images. They do regular screenings in San Francisco. BB Video will be bringing you more from their superbly surreal collections in the weeks to come.

Where to Find Boing Boing Video: RSS feed for new episodes here, , subscribe on iTunes here. Get Twitter updates every time there's a new ep by following @boingboingvideo, and here are blog post archives for Boing Boing Video.

(Thanks to Boing Boing's video hosting partner Episodic, and to Robert Chehoski and Stephen Parr of Oddball Film + Video)

BB Video: "Tank Tour" - One of World's Largest Collections of Historic Military Technology


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In today's edition of Boing Boing Video, guest-host Todd Lappin explores a massive collection of historical military vehicles tanks collected by an eccentric Silicon Valley multimillionaire. The recently-departed Jacques Littlefield amassed one of the world's largest and most significant collections of this type, and his collection is now overseen by the nonprofit Military Vehicle Technology Foundation. Snip from their description:

Our goal is to acquire, restore, and interpret the historical significance of 20th and 21st century military vehicles. Domestic and foreign combat vehicles such as tanks, armored cars, self-propelled artillery, and other technically interesting mobile platforms are the focus of the collection. We also maintain an extensive technical library that describes many vehicles down to the part level. Aside from the vehicles, there are towed artillery, antitank, and antiaircraft guns. Military support equipment, inert ordnance, and accessories round out the collection.
The foundation is supported by public donations, and you can make one at their website if you dig what they do. To make arrangements for tours, you can email tours.mvtf at gmail.com. To arrange access to the collection for commercial purposes: permissions.mvtf at gmail.com.

The "tank tour" BBV shot for this episode was organized by BB pal Karen Marcelo and Dorkbot SF. They put on interesting events like this every month! Karen says,

June, 2009 is the 7 year anniversary of dorkbotSF. We have two cool events coming up, hope the some of the Boing Boing readers will come out for them! First one is jun 3 - at Greg Leyh's lightning lab. A live demo of scaled-down model of greg's 12-story Tesla coils, debut of Marc Powell's new software, and cool light printer from Jonathan Foote.

Then Jon Sarriugarte is hosting a big bash on the 20th! snail car, muffin cars, tesla roadster makers, fireworks, omega recoil's tesla coils, blacksmithing, etc. and he said more surprises he doesnt want to mention in advance!

Where to find Boing Boing Video: RSS feed for new episodes here, YouTube channel here, subscribe on iTunes here. Get Twitter updates every time there's a new ep by following @boingboingvideo, and here are blog post archives for Boing Boing Video.

(Thanks to Boing Boing's video hosting partner Episodic, and to shooter-producer extraordinaire Eddie Codel and to our host Todd Lappin.)

BB Video - Boiler Bar: Oilpunk Creations + Sexy Burlesque Gyrations


(Download / Watch on YouTube) Today's Boing Boing Video episode is a special pre-Maker Faire warmup extravaganza: the oil-punk creations and sexy burlesque gyrations of the Boiler Bar. Creator and host Jon Sarriugarte (who I first met through SRL) explains:

Oilpunk: is Punk, Hot Rod, Geek, Blue Collar, and Maker Culture mixed together with the Petroleum Golden Age of the last century. It's the intersection of petroleum products, art, and science. It harkens back to a time when hard work, combustion engines and industry shaped us, yet it speaks to the future. It's taking the castoffs of modern industrial culture and objects from the last decade to reuse today. Dirty, greasy, sweaty, it's a work hard, play hard style.

The Boiler Bar is what blue collar out of work down on their luck Bay Area artist decided to do with their spare time and last dollar. Come by and share our delight of the sparkle in the dust of this golden age of petroleum. Drink our hooch and watch the girls sing and dance their way to you heart, then be dazzled by the labor of men spent in seconds in glorious aerial and earthly displays of plenty. And as always ravers and DJ's are welcome to talk.

They'll be at Maker Faire this weekend, and Dorkbot very soon. Here's the Golden mean fan club on facebook for our email list for upcoming shows.

Also in this episode: The snail car! a real-live blacksmith! Who also happens to be a chick! And the Neverwas Runabout, cousin to the giant Neverwas Haul! All of this and more awaits this weekend at Maker Faire Bay Area 2009. Image below courtesy dharmabum90: the Neverwas Haul, being towed by a 90-year-old steam-powered tractor.

Where to Find Boing Boing Video: RSS feed for new episodes here, YouTube channel here, subscribe on iTunes here. Get Twitter updates every time there's a new ep by following @boingboingvideo, and here are blog post archives for Boing Boing Video.

(Thanks to Boing Boing's video hosting partner Episodic, and to Shannon O'Hare of the Neverwas and Jon Sarriugarte of Boiler Bar. And big thanks to BBV guest host Aaron Muszalski and our field producer and shooter Eddie Codel.)

BB Video: BIG YANK, a Weird '70s Jeans Ad (Oddball Film)


Today's episode of Boing Boing Video is a vintage 1970s television ad for a brand of jeans called "Big Yank." When I first watched it, I was immediately convinced that this ad was all about the giving of wedgies -- to one's self, to others, no matter! Wedgies, wedgies, wedgies. Or maybe the ad was about something even more inappropriate. At any rate, I thought it was funny.

The video comes to us as a special courtesy of Oddball Film and Video, a San Francisco-based firm that maintains a truly amazing and extensive archive of weird old moving images. They do regular screenings, too. BB Video will be bringing you more from their superbly surreal collections in the weeks to come.

Where to Find Boing Boing Video: RSS feed for new episodes here, YouTube channel here, subscribe on iTunes here. Get Twitter updates every time there's a new ep by following @boingboingvideo, and here are blog post archives for Boing Boing Video.

(Thanks to Boing Boing's video hosting partner Episodic, and to Robert Chehoski and Stephen Parr of Oddball Film + Video)

BB Video: "Dance Dance Revolution. With Flamethrowers. Pointed At You."


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In today's episode of Boing Boing Video, we experience the funky flaming glory that is DANCE DANCE IMMOLATION, a pyro-parody of the popular arcade game in which one jumps around on touch-sensitive pads underfoot in rhythm with music. With DDI, you do this inside a flame-retardant suit. Miss a step, you get torched with a giant flamethrower.

Dance Dance Immolation combines video games, music, and propane. You play DDR. A good performance wins you acclaim from flamethrowers. A missed step gets you a face full of fire! Yes, the fire is real. Put on a fireproof suit and give it a try!
The contraption was created by the clan of happy mutant makers known as Interpretive Arson. We shot this at "How to Destroy the Universe," a yearly Industrial culture event which this year honored Throbbing Gristle's reunion tour. Laughing Squid has a related blog post here.

We hear they're next performing at the "Smukfest" art confab in Denmark.

(Update): Nicole Aptekar of Interpretive Arson pops in with more on the upcoming .dk gig:
DDI next heads across the pond to burninate the Scandinavians, where we have been gleefully booked for the Smukfest music festival in Skanderborg, Denmark, August 5-9. It's a beautiful setting for our first European run, within a lush green forest. However, trees are flammable so DDI will run on a custom-constructed raft floating in the middle of a lake. We've had to skip our normal West Coast circuit to do it, but it might just be worth it if we get to shoot Kylie Minogue with fire.

CREW NOTE: About this episode's host, Aaron Muszalski (aka SFSlim): He's a Burning Man builder, visual effects artist and educator, and a wandering polyglamorous anarcho-Dada Buddhist biker punk. He's on Twitter. In this episode, you'll also see our delightful recurring guest host Charis Tobias, who is all of 18 years old if memory serves. And thanks to our SF-based shooter-producer Eddie Codel who did a fine job capturing the madness on this piece, yet again.

(Photo below by Kristen Ankiewicz, courtesty Interpretive Arson)



Sponsor shout-out: This Boing Boing Video episode is brought to you in part by WEPC.com, in partnership with Intel and Asus. WePC.com is a site where users come together to "share ideas, images and inspiration about the ideal PC." Participants' designs, feature ideas and community feedback will be evaluated by ASUS and "will influence the blueprint for an actual notebook PC built by ASUS with Intel inside."

BB Video: This Week in Space, with Miles O'Brien


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In today's episode of Boing Boing Video, I catch up with our guest video contributor Miles O'Brien for an update on the space stories he's following this week.

The esteemed space, science, and aviation reporter brought us a story on an astronaut climbing Mt. Everest -- who just reached the summit! Then, Miles literally dove in to a floating "tool time" session with NASA astronauts tasked with repair of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Today, he brings us up to speed on these and other sci-tech stories he's following, and we hear what he'll be digging into next.

The former CNN anchor and reporter is exploring what independent online journalism is all about. In this episode, we learn what life is like for a 26-year broadcast veteran who has become a freewheeling freelancer. The short answer? Pretty good.

Catch his reports at True Slant, and follow him on Twitter: @milesobrien. Catch his space coverage at spaceflightnow.com.



RSS feed for new episodes here, YouTube channel here, subscribe on iTunes here. Get Twitter updates every time there's a new ep by following @boingboingvideo, and here are blog post archives for Boing Boing Video. (Special thanks to Boing Boing's video hosting partner Episodic).


BB Video - Diving into Space: Miles O'Brien in NASA's Neutral Buoyancy Lab


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Boing Boing Video guest contributor Miles O'Brien brings us this special report on the same day NASA astronauts complete their final space walk -- and zero-g repair job -- on the Hubble Space Telescope Servicing Mission #4.

Miles says:
Astronauts spend a lot more time training for missions than flying in space. But I wouldn't feel sorry for them as the training is an amazing adventure unto itself. They practice in airplanes that fly a roller-coaster pattern to give them brief stints of weightlessness (the so called Vomit Comet); they get to zoom around in supersonic T-38 training jets; they fly approaches to shuttle runways in a Gulfstream jet rigged up to fly (or more accurately, plummet) like a real orbiter; they get time in high-fidelity full motion simulators; they use virtual reality goggles to practice tasks they will perform in space - and if they are a spacewalker, they get to spend a lot of time in a huge swimming pool in a former hangar at Ellington Field - near the Johnson Space Center in Houston - learning the nuances of working in the void.

Astronaut John Grunsfeld, who is an astronomer and a huge fan of the Hubble Space Telescope, invited me to join him during one of his 6 hour "runs" in the big pool - officially known as the Sonny Carter Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory. I watched him as he practiced the most challenging spacewalk of his long career - the resuscitation of the Advanced Camera for Surveys. Worried as he was about accomplishing this intricate task - not designed to be done by the thick, gloved hand of a spacewalker - when he did the real thing the other day (Saturday) it went of without a hitch - unlike the other 4 spacewalks of the fifth and final Hubble Repair Mission.

The spacewalks are now over - and a shuttle crew has left Hubble behind for the last time. The telescope is in the best shape it has ever been in - Hubble's "Perils of Pauline" tale now mashed up with "Benjamin Button". The eye above the sky will begin a new phase of scientific discovery making astronomers pretty happy right about now. But for those of us who are passionate about sending human beings into space, and have enjoyed watching this adventure unfold over the past 19 years, it is the end of a great era - a wistful moment.

Miles is the only reporter who has ever dived in the NBL.

Hubble crewmember Mike Massimino, shown above doing Hubble telescope repairs today in the Atlantis cargo bay, is on Twitter: @Astro_Mike. You can follow Miles O'Brien on Twitter, too: @milesobrien. His features at trueslant.com are here. Catch his launch coverage at spaceflightnow.com. Official NASA STS-125 mission page is here.


RSS feed for new episodes here, YouTube channel here, subscribe on iTunes here. Get Twitter updates every time there's a new ep by following @boingboingvideo, and here are blog post archives for Boing Boing Video. (Special thanks to Boing Boing's video hosting partner Episodic).


BB Video - Guatemala Protests: Eyewitness Cellphone Video from Twitterers


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This past Sunday in Guatemala, tens of thousands of people gathered in the capital city to protest the assassination of an attorney who blamed president Álvaro Colom for his imminent murder in a posthumously-released YouTube Video.

Boing Boing Video viewer (and BB blog reader) Maria Figueroa (@thevenemousone on Twitter) was there with friends, and she sent us this eyewitness report captured on her cellphone.

Twitter has played a central role in this still-unfolding crisis: protests have been organized on this and other social networks, and Twitter user Jean "@jeanfer" Anleu went to jail last week for having posted a tweet related to the scandal. Authorities released him to house arrest, and he was forced to pay a $6,500 fine (for which he is now in debt).

The video featured here was shot on Maria's phone just as the protest was assembling. Her photos from Sunday's protest are here on Flickr. Here are more video clips documenting the protests.

BB Video - Miles O'Brien Reports: An Astronaut Climbs Everest


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In this episode of Boing Boing Video, guest contributor Miles O'Brien, the veteran space and science reporter formerly with CNN, speaks with astronaut Scott Parazynski as he attempts to summit Mt. Everest.

Parazynski and his team are scheduled to actually attempt the summit within the next day or two, as I understand their current plans.

They are using a personal satellite tracking device called "Spot" as a security measure. The GPS device has the added benefit of providing digital breadcrumbs of data that can be used to generate real-time maps of exactly where they are on the trail.

More of Miles "1337" O'Brien's work at True/Slant, and you can (and should) follow him here on Twitter.

Astronaut-turned-climber Scott Parazynski's Everest climb blog is here, and you can also follow him on Twitter, live from Nepal.

Below, a screengrab of their current coordinates -- and a snapshot of Scott at rest on Mount Everest. After the jump, more photos.

(Previously: Boing Boing Video: Welcome, Miles O'Brien!)



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Boing Boing Video: "To," an ambient animation by Bob Jaroc and Plaid


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Today's Boing Boing Video episode is an ambient animated short by filmmaker Bob Jaroc and the band Plaid (Warp Records). Best enjoyed with stereophonic supersonic headphones, so you can appreciate the shift from one channel to another, while you watch thousands of starlings take flight in a burnt sunset sky.

Bob Jaroc explains how this lovely, evocative avian work took form:

They were real starlings, not digitally-generated. They were filmed over a few winters here in Brighton. I was lucky enough to have access to the then-abandoned and now destroyed West Pier, and got them down on tape as they were coming in to roost. I then extracted them from the background and edited them to the track, often going back and trying to capture a certain motion to go with a certain bit of audio.

RSS feed for new episodes here, YouTube channel here, subscribe on iTunes here. Get Twitter updates every time there's a new ep by following @boingboingvideo, and here are blog post archives for Boing Boing Video. (Special thanks to Boing Boing's video hosting partner Episodic)


BB Video: "Sebastian's Voodoo" - Vote for it, for Cannes!


In today's Boing Boing Video episode, we revisit "Sebastian's Voodoo," a beautiful animated work by UCLA student Joaquin Baldwin.

We're returning to this enchanting, dark, fanciful work today because... drum roll... it has been nominated for a short film award at the Cannes Film Festival, which opens today! It's really exciting to see the work of a young, talented animator like Joaquin get this kind of recognition. I am voting for Joaquin right now, and if you dig his work, I hope you will too.

And after you vote for Joaquin, here's some related reading: New Scientist has an interesting article up today about the "science of voodoo" -- well, more accurately, the science behind people who believe they've been "witched" or cursed, and end up becoming ill or dying because their believe in that "reverse placebo" is so powerful.

I like to remind people that voudun, or "voodoo," is more truthfully a broad, deep, and very misunderstood religious tradition that originates in West Africa. Voudun doesn't really have anything do with sticking pins in dolls, or convincing people you don't like that they have cancer. While ad hominem "witching" does exist, to say this defines voudun is unfair and uninformed.


RSS feed for new episodes here, YouTube channel here, subscribe on iTunes here. Get Twitter updates every time there's a new ep by following @boingboingvideo, and here are blog post archives for Boing Boing Video. (Special thanks to Boing Boing's video hosting partner Episodic)


BB Video - $5 Cover: Craig Brewer's New MTV Series on Local Indie Music Life


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In today's Boing Boing Video (brought to you in part by WEPC.com), director Craig Brewer (Hustle and Flow , Black Snake Moan ) talks to us about his latest project: the MTV online series $5 Cover, which chronicles the internet-age lives and dreams of struggling musicians in Memphis, Tennessee.

$5 Cover is described as "a rough-and-tumble show set in the clubs, bars, and all-night cafes of present-day Memphis," and follows "young musicians as they fight for love, inspiration, and money to pay the rent." These are real people, but this is not reality schlock.

When I first saw clips of the series in production during a visit to the MTV offices, I knew it was going to be great. I grew up an MTV teen, but am not generally a fan of MTV's present-day on-air programming. I've felt for some time like the network no longer produced stuff I'd find interesting.

But this is different. Maybe part of what allowed something this authentic and engaging to incubate at MTV is the fact that this is primarily an online series.

And then there's the fact that Brewer is at the helm. I'm a big fan of his big-screen work, and he clearly loves the stories at the heart of $5 Cover -- the lives and art of musicians who are his own community, in Memphis.

Boing Boing asked Brewer how the internet is changing what it means to be an independent artist, and how technology is changing the nature of what "local music" means. He talks to us about why he created the show, how this is different than directing for film or television, and why all of this matters so much to him.

When MTV sent us a DVD of the completed episodes, Boing Boing Video's editor and I watched them all, back to back, and then vowed to buy some of the music online. I'm not kidding, it's that great. We went particularly nuts about Amy Lavere, an artist featured in the first part of the Boing Boing Video episode. She's from Memphis, by way of TX and Louisiana. Al Kapone was another personal fave.

More about $5 Cover: New episodes premiere Friday nights at midnight on MTV and at Fivedollarcover.com throughout May. There are mini-documentaries about what went on in each week's episode here, and Flipside Memphis gives you an even deeper dive into the Memphis culture. The entire video series, along with music videos and other related video, is available on iTunes for download to own. The soundtrack is available digitally through services including iTunes and Rhapsody, and I've been googling my way to the artists' websites and myspaces and discovering lots more on my own.


RSS feed for new episodes here, YouTube channel here, subscribe on iTunes here. Get Twitter updates every time there's a new ep by following @boingboingvideo, and here are blog post archives for Boing Boing Video. (Special thanks to Boing Boing's video hosting partner Episodic)


Sponsor shout-out: Boing Boing Video is brought to you in part by WEPC.com, in partnership with Intel and Asus. WePC.com is a site where users come together to "share ideas, images and inspiration about the ideal PC." Participants' designs, feature ideas and community feedback will be evaluated by ASUS and "could influence the blueprint for an actual notebook PC built by ASUS with Intel inside."

BB Video: "Ninja Assassin" - John Gaeta on Hybrid Entertainment Merging Film and Games.


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In today's episode of Boing Boing Video (sponsored by WEPC.com, in partnership with Intel and Asus), Academy Award winning visual effects guru John Gaeta (Matrix, Speed Racer) offers a sneak peek inside his newest project, Ninja Assassin.

Along the way, we explore a broader realm of questions about the future of games, movies, and interactive entertainment. Will movies become more like games, offering new ways for us to insert ourselves inside the stories? Who will create them, using what tools, and how will the experience be different? Will computer-generated actors replace human actors, or stunt persons -- or will the two realms overlap in ways we can't yet predict? All of this we ask of the guy who invented "bullet time."

Due in theaters this fall, director James McTeigue's Ninja Assassin follows the story of Raizo (played by Asian mega-popstar Rain), one of the world's most deadly assassins. As Gaeta explains in this video, the movie merges blindingly badass Bruce-Lee-esque martial arts stunt work with tastefully integrated post processing work.

Below, and after the jump, a partial transcription of the longer conversation we had about the future of interactivity and "hybrid entertainment" -- and why Hollywood is, in Gaeta's words, "like a mule."

This interview took place during our live coverage of the 2009 Game Developers Conference, and many of the questions I pose were taken directly from our live chat audience.


Xeni Jardin: John, your involvement in "Ninja Assassin" was a little different than in "Speed Racer" and the "Matrix" films, where you were the lead visual effects designer.

John Gaeta: Ninja Assassin was directed by James McTeigue, who directed "V for Vendetta." It's sort of a family tradition of the Wachowskis to help James in parallel with other odd films. After "Speed Racer" was completed, we went back to Berlin and decided to make this super psycho horror ninja movie. Supremo stunts and martial arts. We're friends with the action design firm 87eleven, they've worked alongside Wu Ping for many years, after the "Matrix" Trilogy they did "Kill Bill," "300," they're fantastic. It was really their show. They were told they could be very creative and so they were. Lots of inventions!

Xeni: What was your role?

Gaeta: I didn't want to miss it because it seemed like it would be very fun. I was only helping out with some special unit directing, but no visual effects for me personally.

"Ninja" is surprisingly invisible on effects work, and intentionally so. No virtual humans in this one. The only real post processing comes from heavily stylistic color grading, think graphic tones like "Se7en," compositing and some CG weapons and blood augmentation. But this film shines brightest for the martial arts team. To put it another way -- it's old school.

There is far more going on in this movie with respect to "stunts technology" and innovation with respect to specialized and "next gen" rigs and flying machines.

Xeni: You are known for visual effects in motion pictures, but every time you and I have spoken, there's this idea of hybrid entertainment that comes up. Can you tell me more about what you're doing there?

Gaeta: I'm curious about possible destinations where there's crossover with regard to simulation cinema, "sim cinema," ways of creating elaborate trapdoors and portals between different mediums. Also, over the years, there are strange subgroups from the visual world like Douglas Trumbull -- I used to work for him many years ago -- their passion went beyond cinema to immersive content. Virtual reality, perhaps games, are a step toward that -- so are other methods of surrounding people with an experience. There are a lot of interesting progressions going on with immersive cinema, immersive entertainment, hybridizing the two.

(Interview continues after the jump)

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