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Sunday surprise — Ok it always bugged me

Sunday, August 14th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — is the universe geocentric? — a movie question ]
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Okay, last Sunday I talked about the opening credits for Damages and House of Cards: in this post I turn to studio logos.

It has long bugged me that the universe is portrayed by Universal as consisting of one planet, with the occasional space-y feel behind it —

— so I thought I’d mention how much I prefer the Orion logo —

— which doesn’t even claim to be universal, but is certainly nebular, nebulous.

Okay, I feel better already.

**

If you want to dig more deeply into the Universal logo, there are eighty or so screenshot versions here, of which one at least suggests awareness of other worlds —

et

— although it’s a bit strange to see the Amblin bicycle with ET in the basket traversing the earth, when we’re more accustomed to it crossing the moon.

And okay, I have to admit this one is more cosmic than most. I warn you though — it will play itself full-blast if you click on the link.

Sunday surprise — cows, laws and enforcement

Sunday, August 14th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — in India, cows are a vigilantism issue, in California it’s manure, flatulence, & methane ]
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Behold:

Tablet DQ 600 cow police

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In India:

Indian police have launched a “cow protection” force and a 24-hour hotline after a spate of attacks related to laws governing consumption of beef and the religious status of cattle.

The 300-strong team in Haryana will enforce some of the toughest laws in the country shielding cows. Haryana imposes jail terms of up to ten years for illegal slaughter and smuggling but Hindu officials in the northern state are concerned about a rise in cow-related crime and are determined to protect the animals.

In California:

First they came after the oil producers, then manufacturers, and now they’re coming for the cows. Having mandated emissions reductions from fossil fuels, California’s relentless progressives are seeking to curb the natural gas emanating from dairy farms. [ .. ]

“If dairy farms in California were to manage manure in a way to further reduce methane emissions,” the board explains, “a gallon of California milk might be the least GHG intensive in the world.” And the most expensive. Many California dairy farms have already been converted into nut farms, which are more economical amid the state’s high regulatory costs.

Around the globe:

Cows are still chewing the cud.

**

Sources:

  • The Sunday Times, Holy cow! Police protect sacred cattle
  • The Wall Street Journal, California’s Cow Police
  • Sunday surprise: Damages and House of Cards

    Sunday, August 7th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — two opening credit sequeces that rhyme, also sheep & starlings ]
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    As you know, I’m interested in twinnings of various sorts — the sound twinnings we call rhyme, visual twinnings in films we call graphic match, the contrapuntal twinnings of melody in canons and fugues, the twinnings when history “rhymes” — oh, and the ever popular plagiarism. Recently I’ve been watching the TV show Damages — an old friend is in it — and having the eerie feeling every time the opening credits rolled that they were just like the opening credits from House of Cards. So I thought I’d look them up, and see if they’d been put together by the same team.

    **

    Damages:

    House of Cards:

    I didn’t get as far as finding out who put them together, but I did run across a blog post by Alicatte from 2013 titled House of Cards Opening: Deja Damages which more than amply vindicated my far less detailed intuition.

    **

    And while it’s still Sunday, let’s take a look at another couple of videos that have some twinning to them. A friend of mine, Bob Crosby — ecological engineer par excellence — of Biorealis, posted them on a private group with the fake names I’ll give you above each one:

    An aerial view of the American electorate being herded by corporate media pundits…

    and:

    An EEG video of neurons forming a thought...

    Have fun..

    Sunday surprise: peering digitally around corners 2: Blade Runner

    Sunday, July 31st, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — moving from a consideration of Holbein’s Ambassadors to a celebrated scene in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner — and thence, wide-angle, to Kumbh Mela ]
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    Here’s the Bladerunner scene:

    What Ridley Scott depicts is a camera with the ability to see around corners — a fantastic piece of science fictional cinematography, demonstrating a sufficiently advanced technology with a skill amounting to wizardry.

    **

    How close, though, can state-of-the-art cameras come to seeing around corners? Here’s what Nature has to say:

    Andreas Velten, Thomas Willwacher, Otkrist Gupta, Ashok Veeraraghavan, Moungi G. Bawendi & Ramesh Raskar, Recovering three-dimensional shape around a corner using ultrafast time-of-flight imaging:

    Abstract:

    The recovery of objects obscured by scattering is an important goal in imaging and has been approached by exploiting, for example, coherence properties, ballistic photons or penetrating wavelengths. Common methods use scattered light transmitted through an occluding material, although these fail if the occluder is opaque. Light is scattered not only by transmission through objects, but also by multiple reflection from diffuse surfaces in a scene. This reflected light contains information about the scene that becomes mixed by the diffuse reflections before reaching the image sensor. This mixing is difficult to decode using traditional cameras. Here we report the combination of a time-of-flight technique and computational reconstruction algorithms to untangle image information mixed by diffuse reflection. We demonstrate a three-dimensional range camera able to look around a corner using diffusely reflected light that achieves sub-millimetre depth precision and centimetre lateral precision over 40 cm×40 cm×40 cm of hidden space.

    Here’s another illustrative video:

    **

    Okay, seeing is simple, but we’re Zenpundit, so there’s gotta be a military angle we can see around, no?

    Here are two possibilities — the first is called CornerShot:

    while the second is called ShotView:

    **

    We’re still pretty far from Ridley’s Blade Runner, but the idea of seeing / shooting around corners has clearly caught the imagination of others.

    Okay, those last two videos are for those interested in matters martial.

    Kumbh Mela

    For my own sake, and for the possible interest of blog-friend Pundita, let’s take a look at a video of Ramesh Raskar, head of MIT Media Lab’s Camera Culture research group and one of the authors of the Nature paper quoted above.

    Here Dr Raskar is talking about that most fascinating of Hindu festivals — and largest of human gatherings? — the Kumbh Mela

    Talk about wicked problems — and crowd-sourcing solutions — and genius — and the manifold intersections of the secular and the sacred!

    Sunday surprise: peering digitally around corners 1: Holbein

    Sunday, July 31st, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — a saunter through London’s National Gallery with Holbein’s Ambassadors, a skull and a psalter ]
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    Let’s begin with Hans Holbein, The Ambassadors:

    Holbein Ambassadors

    **

    First up for consideration is this anamorphic skull detail:

    Holbein detail anamorphic skull

    The very oddly misshapen object in the foreground is in fact a skull, visible as such from the right position vis-a-vis the painting. It has puzzled countless people for ages, and no doubt considerably increased the painting’s fame in the process. The simplest explanation I’ve found is this one:

    It has also been hypothesized that the painting is meant to hang in a stairwell, so that a person walking up the stairs from the painting’s right would be startled by the appearance of the skull. From such an angle, the skull appears in its correct aspect ratio.

    Here’s the skull, resolved — to show it as it appears from the correct viewing angle — an angle from which the rest of the painting makes no sense, mark you:

    Holbein_Skull

    **

    That’s the most striking detail in the painting, but also of interest is this Psalter detail:

    Holbein psalter detail

    The psalter is depicted in the painting in the same perspective as the two figures, globe, carpet and so forth, but it’s at an angle to the viewer — and an enterprising fellow therefore decided to work computationnal magic and show us the psalter rectified, as we might see it if we were in the room, went over, and looked down at it:

    Ambassadors_Lutherian_Psalms

    **

    All of this reminds me of another brilliant work of art, featuring an analogous shifting of viewpoint: Ridley Scott‘s Blade Runner, which I’ll explore in Part II of this two-part post.


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