Your 5 star review

Random thoughts on cinema, business and why we go to the movies.

 

Seeing the latest Mad Max installment I have completely lost my faith in humanity as well as any interest in the mainstream cinema.  Of course, it is boobs, explosions and all that jazz which sell the movie out to the masses but somewhat disregarding such an amazing lore this franchise gave birth to (fallout, which keeps getting more popular with every subsequent game, is one but not sole example) feels just rude.
The movie which claimed to be the blockbuster of the year ( and certainly was, at least according to the hype) introduced nothing but the shallowest of the plots and a 90-minute-long car chase sequence.  To quote one of the reviewers, watching the trailer on loop for 2 hours would not leave you behind too much. The voice of reason told me not to bother after two trailers came out, but at the same time I had some hope left – they surely have to know that the Road Warrior was not only about the car chase right? As cool as it looked, it also gave a memorable portrayal of solitude,  sparsity and morale after the world had ended.
They had to pick something up out of it.
But why bother.
The movie scored over 8 on imdb and close to 90 on meta-critic at the time I checked before my screening.  Not bad right? Which furthers my ‘butthurt’: even though meta-critic is meant to be relatively… well, critical (contrary to Radio 1 which bases the recommendation on budget and the amount of ‘omg’ repeated by the hosts), it gave a hands down recommendation. There were a few voices claiming that the cinema is coming to an end and how rubbish it was but at that point I thought of them just like the dirty-crazy Woody harrelson type of people who preach the world’s end. Now I’m joining their ranks. In short, if you stayed out of the big screen duringthe Max Hype, you are most certainly not a looser.

But this long discourse brings me to what motivated me to write this post in the first place: it does not pay to give bad reviews even to shittiest movies as long as there’s money behind them. Think about it.
When a movie comes out or goes to DVD, there’s one element you can be sure to see on the posters: the stars.  Bloody, shiny stars. We don’t like to be told what to do, but we like to be kindly suggested what’s better for us (as long as we figure it was us who made the call, not the other way round). Movies love to have someone tell the public that it’s worth your 10 pounds.

But is it?

In the overall decline of expectations and devotion to the plot, the major opinion-makers might attempt to keep dignity and not give Mad Max 5 stars. So is Mad Max going to list…uhm… 2 stars from The Times on the poster? Well,  it would ruin the composition, so of course not. So it goes further. If it’s not The Times, maybe it’s Empire. If not, probably Daily Mail seen some hidden messages in it, right? Worst comes to worst Zoo or Front writers just had a quick break from looking at the boobs and drooled over some special effects. Here you go.

It pays of for non-leading opinion-makers to give good reviews, because when the movie sucks (and the big names are aware of it and can willfully express this opinion), it will be their name which appears on the poster or dvd cover next to the 5 stars. It’s like a free commercial for magazine or a website

Same applies on the Internets: if you are an indie video-maker and you express opinions, do you think an ‘average, not thought-through, super-shallow’ review of a movie is going to interest your audience and give hits more than ‘OMG YOU HAVE TO WATCH THIS!!!!!1111one’ kind of headline?

 

To sum up, if there is anything to sum this up, no review except for a leader in the industry, is worth anything. Meh.

Call to action? Be critical. Want more. You will get more. The sheer definition of mainstream cinema is that it relies on the public and is designed to meet the public needs. So uhm, yes, it’s our fault that movies suck. If you think that movie is bad, don’t go watch it. Maybe it will send some kind of a message.

 

Gibberish.

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Conquering tumblr!

Well all big stories start out small, I just managed to get my first small social network victory.

My photo from recent road trip via Scottish highlands has been liked/shared over 60 times now. As silly as it is, it tickles my ego a little. Or maybe just a happy coincidence, whichever happens, thanks for watching.

Here’s a link to the post

http://pkuncewicz.tumblr.com/post/113540536175/island-of-skye

Skye

Skye

Thanks for watching.

Thank you, technology.

 

As I was browsing the Internets today as usual, I noticed how much like to moan about the long years of research and development devoted into everyday stuff we are so lucky to enjoy. Bending iPhones, unintuitive user interfaces or ‘the fact that I  have to click again’,  you name it.

It struck me how lazy and spoiled we are and thus I thought it would be in place to say ‘thanks’ for once.

Here’s my thanks to all programmers, researchers and developers out there somewhere, you made a hell of a good job. A few things I wanted to mention.

1. Portable inspiration

We finally do not have to carry a pen and a notebook everywhere to jot down the eureka moments – thanks to the capacity of smartphones and the most basic of the solutions we can take notes on the go in cloud apps and access them back home to dwell on them. Genius.

2. Open knowledge for all

The days of stacking secrets in libraries are long gone. It’s not just about Wikipedia, which I am sure is (off the record, naturally) the biggest reference source and supports a lot of degrees handed out to students worldwide, but we can see the brightest academic minds on free online courses.

3. You get to see the latest movies in the comfort of your own sofa… or a plane seat.

Netflix – yes. But have you thought how great it is to be able to watch the latest releases in the long-haul flights? I remember when I was 14 or so and travelling via a coach to Italy for a summer school trip. The journey was to take more than 20 hours, and as a form of entertainment there were two 14-inch TVs hooked up to some battered VCR and the pilot had some 3 cheesy productions we could choose from. I still enjoyed that.

These days I have access to the movies which just left the cinema and i get to see them while some pretty lady serves me neatly packed lunch. Awesome.

4. Auto-correct

Yup, as I am writing this, my dear friend Google drive is working a lot harder than I am to make sure is ‘dear’ not ‘dera’. We get the comfort of not looking stupid (unless we really want to). Oh yes, we still can’t have Google differentiate between ‘you’re’ and ‘your’ which puts majority of English-speaking natives in a pickle, but I’m pretty sure some geniuses out there are trying to get that sorted for you too.

 

5. Games are beautiful.

We get to immerse in 3d-models resembling real life and have an impact on magnificent in-game stories or simply wonder virtual realities for no reason at all just to enjoy the view. The games are not that expensive and in majority of time provide HOURS of entertainment. Well-made games also teach, expand vocabulary and hopefully make us better people.

 

6. A fiver gets you legal, unlimited music

We ripped music.

Unless we were filthy rich, we all did rip music at some point.

But the technology stepped in, first we had last.fm to explore new frontiers, then there was a breakthrough and spotify got us an all-you-can-eat option where we get to pick our snacks. Spotify also skips out the greedy record labels so that aspiring musicians can have greater control and for once indie artists can have their share of bread too.

 

7. Connected.

There is still a debate going on on how much damage social media have inflicted on their users (tip: a lot, probably), but overall we can finally keep in touch. We can get connected on a lot more complex level than just skype calls with people from different continents.

 

8. Digital art

‘Undo’, that’s all.

 

9. On-line shopping
Although it did kill a few businesses on the way, the consumer ultimately benefited. It started off with hardware but these days you can enjoy anything from second hand books to groceries delivered at your front door.

10. Matchmaking system in starcraft

Yup, if you lose a few games in a row it would give you someone from lower league, just to cheer you up. ; )

 

So what are you grateful for? Let’s take a moment to think about all the good stuff tech has brought us rather than the drawbacks.

the IT tales.

Asked to do the timelapse, s et up in another office.
Go set up the timelapse, with laptop and everything, ask for remote access to copy files over to network, and retrieve back in main office.
Timelapse working.
Can copy photos over network.
Awesome
Network shift.
Timelapse not working.
Ask a guy in another office to fix timelapse.
Timelapse working.
RES call – ask to bring in a secure shelving unit around laptop (security)
Bring in the unit, lock it up. Have the only key.
Timelapse working.
IT shift network.
Timelapse not working.
Take taxi.
Open locker.
Timelapse working.
Close locker.
Take taxi.
IT call.
Can we check if laptop charger is tested and not dangerous .
Ok.
Take taxi.
Open locker.
Laptop not dangerous, timelapse working.
Close locker.
Take taxi.
IT call.
Laptop out of date, need different windows. Take Laptop 2.
Take taxi.
Open locker, take out laptop, use Laptop 2 that IT gave.
Timelapse working.
Close locker.
Take taxi.
Send laptop 1 to IT
Receive laptop 1 from IT
Buisiness trip, need laptop 1
Laptop 1 not working and locked off.
Call IT.
5hrs later Laptop 1 working.
Leave for business trip, timelapse working.
Return from business trip, timelapse not working.
Check email.
IT email.
Laptop 2 need different windows, I can update remotely for you! ->
No answer, away on business trip -> Reset laptop.
Call IT
Can you get my laptop back on the network?
Just enter this IP, you will get back on network.
Enter IP. Not my computer. Not lose hope.
1hr later IT call
Can you log out of this IP as it belongs to a MANAGER.
Log out of IP, timelapse still not working.
Take taxi.
Open locker.
Timelapse working.
Close locker.
Take taxi.
Get back to my office.
Call from client ‘we think we should find better options, you know?’


The best way of spending your 150 bucks is…

Google Nik.

I have been using photoshop for over 6 years now and my belief was there is no need (or room) for any other graphics software as everything is covered. That was until yesterday where I came across Google Nik collection.

It’s a set of plugins that transform photoshop tools to simplify them further and squeeze out the best they have to offer. Naturally, if you are the ‘trigger-happy’ cross-processor like myself, you are likely to cause more damage than help out, but once you get the hang of it and apply in moderation… I dug through some of my photographs from a not-so-recent trip to Cameron House in south of Scotland, well, some effects below.

Everything withing a couple of mouse clicks, incredible.

I think the most notable of all are the attempts on wet plate techniques – to my knowledge this has always been considered impossible in the digital realm. Not anymore; this time a perfect blend of smart blurs and high-res textures get it just about right.

It’s free trial for 2 weeks, go wild.

http://www.google.com/nikcollection/

We are not swans, we are sharks.

 'Unexpected'.

…Yet you had it coming.

We are not swans, we are sharks

We are not swans, we are sharks

I never considered myself as someone with a mission to convert people and force things upon them, but if I were to recommend one film to watch, that would be it. I don’t write reviews either but that’s not strictly a review. It’s a round up of life lessons, I’d say probably as much as one can learn during the time of a cinema screening.

Up in the air is about Ryang Bingham, a man whose job is to tell others they no longer have a job. His company sends him all over the globe to provide the unusual service. He’s good at it, he likes it and he’s happy.

There are different ways to interpret Up in the Air, to me it is a story about a person who knowingly and willfully rejects; being a slightly more opportunistic version of your everyday coach or motivational speaker, Clooney’s character refuses to function within the society as we know it. 40+ successful first class traveler, self confident and who could address a crowd and expect an answer, but no family, no mortgages, no permanent location. The fact that his job is to tell people they are no longer needed has a slight touch of sarcasm (I have no idea how much real the concept of such job is, but I would not be surprised if something similar exists).

Bingham rejoices his life in motion, and life of solitude. A perfect example of your ‘single serving friend’  (Fight Club?)

He decides to change his ways, and gets burnt.

When under too much influence from his joyful fellow traveler, he decides to abandon his fortress and connect, well. It is a little pessimistic. But it’s as real as it gets. As seen on TV

I think Up in the Air is meant to give hope to people who assume unusual paths in their life, and to empower them. We all fought our parents, got piercings, dyed our hair, dressed dark or done some other funny shit to showcase our rebellion. But 9 out of 10 times the notion of detachment and non-conformism dies out rather quickly – finish high school, get educated, find someone, get engaged, marry, get mortgage, get promoted, get kids, get to dance on your platinum anniversary. And so.

This is the case number 10.  Clooney’s  character was let down not when he walked his path, it was when he decided to revert to the standard. An unexpected turn on that road, that’s what brought the despair. 

Moral of the story? If you consider yourself happy with nothing binding you to places,  in the constant move, not bound by your backpack, by family and relatives, then stay happy. It’s selfish, yes, but so is charity (at least according to some thinkers).

That’s an uncommon decision, but there is nothing wrong with that.

It gives me hope that one day I will be able to live without the constant reassurance of the crowd. That whatever we do is right.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/12/11/daily-prompt-unexpected/

Sony RX100 Field test

So not long after I declared my temporary war on digital SLRs I had a chance to lay my hands on a relatively decent compact camera: Sony RX100.


Since the camera has been out for some year and a half now, I’ll skip the technical details as there are some detailed reviews out there. What I was interested in the most was to see how the camera performs without processing photographs externally, the results are quite spectacular, see below:

 Built in processing (‘toy camera’) filters

 

 High tonal range from intelligent HDR

 

 HDR effect – although this is the most dramatic version, middle and low are also applicable

 

 Comparison between a single image and extended tonal range above

 

 The built in panorama mode processes images in less than 30 seconds and 3 out of 5 times my panoramas were correct despite rather dynamic image in front of me (if you zoom in close enough you will see some mild discrepancies but if used for landscapes I am sure this will not be visible).

Compared with processing several 20mb RAW images in Photoshop – pretty good I might say.

 

 Good tonal range (note how the details in the black areas are still visible


Another HDR examples. Although the statue looks like badly overdone Photoshop , I am more than happy with the Marischal college building (this was done using the medium-detailed hdr instead of high).

 

The image below is an example of the built in filter which attempts to mimic the tilt-shift effect. Far off from the real thing but a good alternative for everyone fond off the Instagram filters.




So picking up where I left previously: this camera would not stand a chance in replacing a dSLR in studio environment, but it’s more than capable of producing decent images on the go:  no need for Photoshop.


The current price is somewhere around £350 which might be a little expensive for compact camera but still nowhere close to getting a decent lens with good focal length for a DSLR. More tests to follow.