31 August 2010

Interesting Thought

"I think it is unwise to say you do not believe in anything when you can't prove that it is either true or untrue. There is so much in the world which is always new in the way of discoveries that it is wiser to say that there may be spiritual things which we are simply unable now to fathom. Therefore I am interested and have respect for whatever people believe, even if I can not understand their beliefs or share their experiences." -- from "This I Remember" (1949) by Eleanor Roosevelt, quoting her husband Franklin.

24 August 2010

They're Also in Color!

A couple weeks ago I wrote about a web site that has really cool photographs from the Depression in color.

Today, Matt turned me on to a fantastic early color film test by Kodak from 1922, which you can see below. It used Kodachrome, the first film stock that utilized dye to create real color film (films in color were achieved earlier using colored filters).

You will notice the limited color range. This is due to the fact that only two strips of film were used (one red, the other green). Much later this type of process was replaced with the highly successful three strip color system used by Technicolor.

As an added treat, can you identify the female actor who appears last (in the red cape)?

22 August 2010

Nearly Perfect

Is it just me, or is this house (pictured) gorgeous? I have long been drawn to mid-century-modern design -- whether it is art, furnishings, or the buildings themselves. I love the clean symmetry, the spare use of color, the neatness of the whole thing.

This house, designed by architect Steve Hermann and built in Montecito, California is just another example of the continuing influence of the great mid-century design aesthetic.

Of course, the house is not perfect: it's too big (nearly 14,000 square feet), wastes a lot of space with an indoor "garage" (that would be much better suited to an indoor swimming pool) and has a kitchen that is much too big. Those aside, I like it. What really sells me are the glass walls and the 360-degree view of nature from within. Gorgeous!

You can read more about the house here.

07 August 2010

3D: The Wave of the Future?

"Avatar" was a great film-going experience (while not a great film) and the 3D format was fascinating -- so long as you did not tilt your head slightly sidewise, which I have an unfortunate tendency to do.

I am amazed how everyone is acting like 3D is some new breakthrough. Really? The 3D process was being experimented with as early as 1915, with the first actual feature length film ("The Power of Love" at five reels in length) coming out in 1922. Filmmakers dabbled in the 3D process in the 1930s and 1940s, but the format did not meet with any kind of real success until the 1950s -- and even that was short lived.

Along came "Avatar" and Hollywood panicked. It panicked just like it did in 1927 with the success of the partial talky "The Jazz Singer" (itself not the first sound film) retooling cinemas around the world with sound equipment; and with the advent of the widescreen CinemaScope process used in "The Robe" (1953, itself not the first wide-screen film) insisting cinemas needed to show wider films to combat competition from television.

Sound stayed with us, as did wider (but not as wide) films. As for 3D, it remains to be seen.

For one thing, there are higher costs associated with shooting a film in 3D. Then there are the limited number of screens that can project a film in 3D. Then there is the audience expectation about the experience -- which, judging from the recent slate of 3D releases that have bombed at the box office, may be the biggest hurdle of them all. But then, there is the issue of light. Until recently, I had no idea that the loss of light is the biggest factor working again the 3D process. (Lower light levels mean a darker screen.)

So, will we see more and better films made in 3D? Only time will tell.

You can read more about the issue of light here.

The box office figures for recent 3D films will be found here.

You can read the Hollywood spinmeisters working their logic on the falling box office here.

05 August 2010

They're in Color!

I am always amazed by color photographs and film from the 1930s and 1940s. I mean, we watch so many old movies and read so many histories and biographies that feature only black-and-white photography that one can forget they actually had color back then.

My totally awesome friend Brad in Massachusetts sent me the link to a fascinating web site that features color images by photographers of the Farm Security Administration / Office of War Information. They are some of the only color photographs known to exist that show people living during the Depression.

Of course, they are fascinating in themselves; but I am so intrigued to see that dresses were actually in color, and buildings were not just gray. Of course, I know they were in color -- but what colors were popular in the late 1930s? What colors were buildings? Cars? Shoes? Airplanes (like the B-25 bombers, pictured)?

It's a really engaging site that you can find here.

02 August 2010

Texting = Death

Everyone agrees that driving while distracted is bad and dangerous. A study by AAA and "Seventeen" magazine polled about 2,000 drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 and discovered that even though 84% understand driving while distracted is dangerous, they do it anyway.

Unfortunately, teens are not the only offenders: adults do it to.

No matter who does it, driving while doing something else is a very bad idea -- and in some cities, it's also illegal.

You can read more about the study here and here.

Better yet, you can view this totally awesome public service announcement from the UK:

Then, just for fun, you can watch a short explanation of how the special effects crew created some of the accident shots:

01 August 2010

Lucky Thursdays

Mondays won't be quite as fun, but now Thursdays will rock!

BTW, the third season of BBT is now available at Amazon. Buy yours by clicking here.