A while ago you had a chance to ask composer George Sanger about making music and sound effects for games, television, and film. Below you'll find "The Fat Man's" answers to those questions.
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
samzenpus writes "Writer and comedian Harold Ramis has passed away at 69. Ramis had a hand in many classic comedies but is especially loved for playing the ghost-hunting Egon Spengler in Ghostbusters. 'His creativity, compassion, intelligence, humor and spirit will be missed by all who knew and loved him,' said his family in a statement."
An anonymous reader writes "The Canadian federal court has released its much-anticipated decision in Voltage Pictures v. Does, a case involving demands that TekSavvy, a leading independent ISP, disclose the identities of roughly 2,000 subscribers alleged to have downloaded movies without authorization. Michael Geist notes that the court was sensitive to the copyright troll concern, noting that 'given the issues in play the answers require a delicate balancing of privacy rights versus the rights of copyright holders. This is especially so in the context of modern day technology and users of the Internet.' In order to strike the balance, the court required full court approval of the content of any demand letters and bold warnings that no court had found a recipient liable for any damages."
KentuckyFC writes "The technology behind the T-1000 assassin in the Terminator movies might as well be science fiction as far as modern manufacturing is concerned. But we're making progress — thanks to some work by Chinese engineers who have perfected a way to make liquid metals assume various shapes and switch from one to another with the flick of a switch. These guys placed a thin film of gallium-indium-selenium alloy (melting point 10.5 degrees C) in water and applied an electric field. The balance between the surface tension of the metal and the electric forces on its surface then caused the metal to form a ball. They can move the sphere around, combine it with other spheres, and even use it to rotate the water. The engineers say this is the first step toward smart liquid machines that can assume almost any shape. And since the alloy is biologically benign, these machines could be used with, and even inside humans. Their next goal is to create a set of parallel electrodes that cause the metal to form into an undulating worm-shape that can propel itself along."
Zothecula writes "The Oculus Rift has carved out a sizable reputation for itself among gamers, but virtual reality has many applications beyond playing video games. Now one production studio is preparing to release the first movie shot specifically to be watched through the VR headset. The upcoming film, called Zero Point, will focus on the history and development of virtual reality technology, while allowing viewers the freedom to look around each scene as the movie progresses."
First time accepted submitter EwanPalmer writes "YouTube is threatening to remove the account of a scientist who made a series of videos debunking claims made in an AIDS denialist movie over copyright infringement disagreement. Myles Power is claiming the producers of controversial 2009 documentary House of Numbers are attempting to censor him by submitting bogus DMCA claims against him. He says his movies do not breach copyright laws because his films are educational and therefore fair use. The 'AIDS denialist' documentary makers say they instead amounted to 'propaganda.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Nearly 30 years after Super Mario Bros., video game graphics have advanced to heights that once seemed impossible. Modern sports games are fueled by motion capture of actual athletes, and narrative-driven adventures can seem more like interactive movies than games. But gaming's increasing realism brings a side effect — a game can now fall into the 'uncanny valley,' a term coined by robotics professor Masahiro Mori of the Tokyo Institute of Technology in 1970. Jon Brodkin talked to game developers, engineers, motion scientists and a variety of other folks about the 'uncanny valley problem,' in which (some) people feel revolted when confronted by a robot or digital character that doesn't quite look real. In games where human-like characters are necessary, the uncanny valley can be an even bigger problem than in animated movies; gamers control characters rather than just watching them, creating more opportunities for the illusion of realism to falter. New and better tools can help developers and animators deal with some of these issues, but crossing the 'valley' successfully still remains a challenge. Or is crossing it even possible at all?"
First time accepted submitter Kreuzfeld writes "For many years, astronomers have suspected that brown dwarfs — 'failed stars' with masses between those of planets and stars — have cloudy atmospheres. Our recent paper in Nature presents the first global, 2D map of the patchy clouds in the atmosphere of a brown dwarf: our neighbor, the 6.5 light-years-distant Luhman 16B. Eventually, astronomers will use this technique to make weather movies of global cloud patterns on brown dwarfs and extrasolar planets."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Jon Healey writes in the LA Times that a new lawsuit against the Gawker Media site Defamer for linking to an infringing copy of an unreleased screenplay should send chills down the spines of every reporter who writes about copyright issues. Tarantino had kept the script for his ensemble western The Hateful Eight unpublished, but someone obtained a copy and posted it online. In its piece, Defamer quoted only a brief excerpt and a short summary published earlier that day by the Wrap. But it also included two links to the leaked screenplay on a file-sharing site called AnonFiles. In a complaint filed in federal court in Los Angeles, Tarantino's lawyers say they repeatedly asked Gawker Media to remove the links, to no avail. John Cook, Gawker's editor, responded with a post that rebuts the complaint's most damaging allegations, saying Defamer had no involvement whatsoever in the leak or the script's posting online. Cook also quotes Tarantino's comments last week to Deadline Hollywood, in which the filmmaker said he likes having his work online for people to read and review. 'Reporters often assume that providing links to items of public interest is perfectly aboveboard, even if the items themselves aren't. If this case goes to trial, it could help clarify what links simply can't be published legally, regardless of the news value,' writes Healey. 'I'm not arguing that what Gawker did was legal — that's a judge's decision. I'm just saying that there's a journalistic reason for Gawker to do what it did, and those of us who write about copyrights struggle often with the question of how to report what seems newsworthy without crossing a line that's drawn case by case.'"
Lucas123 writes "A new report shows that if movie production houses charged a $15 monthly fee to just 45% of the world's online subscribers, they could rake in just as much cash as they currently do through TV downloads and disc sales. That equates to $29.4 billion. 'Movie producers have little to fear from online distribution in the long term,' the report states. 'It is the distribution part of the movie business that should be worried because online distribution will replace a sizable portion of their current industry.' According to the report's hypothetical model, the $15 fee would offer open access to all movie content — meaning instant online access to all movies that have been ever produced, 'along with new releases as they come out.'"
rueger writes "We live and breathe Netflix, but sometimes want to watch programs downloaded from the 'net. I've been carrying them downstairs on a USB stick, but would prefer to run a small media server on my Mint Linux box. As usual, I thought this would be simple. Install a package on my PC, and use our Netgear NeoTV Max box to play stuff off of the server. Plex was highly recommended, and installed easily, but will see some .mkv files, but not others, for no obvious reason. The one file that does show up plays fine, except that subtitles don't work. And it completely refuses to see the partition full of music. A quick tour of the Plex forums suggests that making this work would take more hours than I'm prepared to spend. Serviio looked good too, and 'sees' my music, and sees the movie folders that Plex couldn't, but won't show the actual .mkv files. And again, it looks like configuring the thing could consume half of my life. So I'm asking: is there a fairly simple, works-right-out-of-the-box, fairly resource friendly media server that will just allow me to play movies that I download without a lot of headaches? (One obvious issue is that movies and TV shows downloaded can be in a any of a dozen formats. I'd love it if the server dealt with that. I'm also open to suggestions for a Roku style box that does Netflix well, but which will also play nicely with a media server. And if any or all of these things can also let me play streaming video off the web (like BBC iPlayer content), I'll be in heaven.)"
An anonymous reader writes "The New York Times reports that an argument over texting ended in a cellphone user's death when a retired police officer in the audience shot him in a theater near Tampa, Florida on Monday. The report notes that 'cinema executives acknowledged during a trade conference last year that they debated whether to accommodate younger viewers by allowing text messages during some movies.'"
rjmarvin writes "Someone is finally pausing TV shows and movies to figure out if the code shown on screen is accurate or not. British programmer and writer John Graham-Cumming started taking screenshots of source code from movies such as Elysium, Swordfish and Doctor Who, and when it became popular turned the concept into a blog. Source Code in TV and Films posts a new screenshot daily, proving that, for example, Tony Stark's first Iron Man suit was running code from a 1998 programmable Lego brick."
DavidGilbert99 writes "Fantasy fans are clearly among the most prevalent downloaders of pirated material if the 2013 lists of most pirated films and TV shows is anything to go by. The Hobbit beat Django Unchained and Fast and Furious 6 while on TV, Game of Thrones saw off competition from Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead as the most pirated TV show. While this is clearly losing money for both industries, the US box office doesn't seem to be suffering too much as it is about to record its best year ever."
An anonymous reader writes "An article at The Verge got me thinking. Parents and those of you who plan to become parents: will you introduce your kids to the games you played when you were younger? Those of us who grew up playing Pong, Space Invaders, and Pac-Man have had a chance to see gaming software evolve into the enormously complex and graphically realistic beast it is today. I've begun to understand why my grandparents tried to get me to watch old movies. I'm also curious how you folks plan to teach your kids about computers and software in general. When teaching them Linux, do you just download the latest stable Mint or Ubuntu release and let them take it from there? Do you track down a 20-year-old version of Slackware and show them how things used to be? I can see how there would be value in that... the UIs we use every day have been abstracted so far away from their roots that we can't always expect new users to intuitively grasp the chain of logic. How do you think this should be handled?"
Esther Schindler writes "The big screen has always tried to keep step with technology usually unsuccessfully. Peter Salus looks at how the film industry has treated computing. For a long time, the 'product placement' of big iron was limited to a few brands, primarily Burroughs. For instance: 'Batman: The Movie and Fantastic Voyage (both 1966) revert to the archaic Burroughs B205, though Fantastic Voyage also shows an IBM AN/FSQ-7 Combat Direction Central. At 250 tons for each installation (there were about two dozen) the AN/FSQ-7 was the largest computer ever built, with 60,000 vacuum tubes and a requirement of 3 megawatts of power to perform 75,000 ips for regional radar centers. The last IBM AN/FSQ-7, at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, was demolished in February 1984.' Fun reading, I think."
Last week you had a chance to ask "Chairman Bruce" about the state of sci-fi, dystopian futures, and the modern surveillance state. Below you'll find his answers to those questions, including who would win if he fought William Gibson and Neal Stephenson in a no-holds-barred battle.
Esther Schindler writes "It's certainly fun to pretend to find work inspiration from our favorite SF films. That's what Carol Pinchefsky does in two posts, one about positive business lessons you can take away from SF films (such as 'agile thinking can save many a project (and project manager) in a crisis' from Robocop and team motivation lessons from Buffy), and the other, 5 Project Management Horror Stories Found in Sci-Fi Movies, with examples of the impact of poor documentation on Captain America."
An anonymous reader writes "A 28-year-old man in Sweden has been fined 4.3 million SEK (~650,000 USD) for uploading one movie. 300,000 SEK of that was added because of the upload's low technical quality (Google translation of Swedish original). The court ruled that the viewer watching the pirated version of the movie had a worse experience than people watching it legally, thereby causing damage to the movie's reputation (full judgement in Swedish)."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Dennis Overbye reports in the NY Times that two years ago Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss set off on a barnstorming tour to save the world from religion and promote science. Their adventure is now the subject of The Unbelievers, a new documentary. 'If you think a road trip with a pair of intellectuals wielding laptops is likely to lack drama, you haven't been keeping up with the culture wars,' writes Overbye. The scientists are mobbed at glamorous sites like the Sydney Opera House. Inside, they sometimes encounter clueless moderators; outside, demonstrators condemning them to hellfire. At one event, a group of male Muslim protesters are confronted by counterprotesters chanting, 'Where are your women?' 'Travelogue shots, perky editing and some popular rock music, as well as interview bits with such supportive celebrities as Woody Allen, Cameron Diaz, Sarah Silverman and Ricky Gervais, shrewdly enliven the brainy — but accessible — discourse,' writes Gary Goldstein in the LA Times, 'but mostly the movie is an enjoyably high-minded love fest between two deeply committed intellectuals and the scads of atheists, secularists, free-thinkers, skeptics and activists who make up their rock star-like fan base.' The movie ends at the Reason Rally in Washington, billed as the largest convention of atheists in history. Dawkins looks out at the crowd standing in a light rain and pronounces it 'the most incredible sight I can remember ever seeing' and declares that too many people have been cowed out of coming out as atheists, secularists or agnostics. 'We are far more numerous than anybody realizes.'"