The Return (and Random Epic Music)

Wow, I’ve been pretty terrible about blogging lately. I fell into the trap of telling myself “it’s been a while since my last blog so I’d better make the next one worth the wait…” and I don’t come up with anything so then more time goes by and it quickly spirals into lots and lots of nothing. So, here I am listening to epic music on youtube and it’s motivated me to break free of my slump and at least post SOMETHING something (bleh, I can’t find the right way to accent “something” the way I would vocally… oh well, you can figure it out).

So… what is epic music you may ask? I suppose it could have different definitions, but I’m talking about fate-of-the-world-hangs-on-what-happens-next orchestral music, the type that accompanies big-budget Hollywood movies where there’s some hero/heroine rising up against all odds to meet some impossible challenge. You know the type of movie I’m talking about. Armageddon, Lord of the Rings, Transformers… each of these trailers use epic music combined with fast paced action to pull the audience in, seeking to raise your pulse and leave you with the thought “I have to see that!!!”.

Epic Music is pretty awesome imho. I like it so much I just listen to it sans-trailer. What’s funny is that most times the awesome music from the movie trailers isn’t actually included in the movie. Movie teasers and trailers generally get released before the movie is done, and since the musical score is usually one of the last things to be added, it’s not ready in time for inclusion in trailers. This dilema could potentially cause terrible trailers. In many cases, the music is an integral part of the movie. Take it away and you get something completely different… case in point, The Original Star Wars Trailer. This trailer is what aired in theaters in 1977 before John Williams had scored any of the now iconic soundtrack. They realized the need for music in the trailer so they added SOMETHING something (bleh…), but it’s absolutely NOT epic music.

So… somewhere between 1977 and now, the trailer makers of the world have discovered the need for epic music. In response, a number of music production companies were formed focusing specifically on creating music for theatrical trailers, television spots, and commercials… basically they compose, perform, and record short (usually only a few minutes long) epic music. X-Ray Dog , Immediate Music, Two Steps from Hell, and Future World Music are just some of the production houses that deliver the music for the movie trailers you know and love. While most of these companies don’t sell their albums to the general public (they sell exclusively to movie and television production studios), they do allow us to listen to their tracks on their websites. Additionaly there is also a slew of epic music available on youtube.

For your listening pleasure, here are a few epic music playlists on youtube that I’ve compiled:

  • Epic Motivation (the one I’m listening to right now… it worked! It gave me the motivation to write a blog, woohoo!)
  • Epic Emotion (sometimes sad, sometimes uplifting… for when you want to just feel SOMETH…)
  • and then there’s just good plain ol’ Epic Music (accept no substitutions)

And that’s all she wrote… “she” being “me”… except I’m a guy… …um, yeah.

…and on that note. So what do you think about epic music. Does it matter that music in movie trailers doesn’t actually appear in the movie? Can you think of any examples where the trailer music might have been better than the music from the movie itself? Worse? Any links to other epic music that should be on my lists? Feel free to post these and any other thoughts you may have in the comments below.

S0m3th1ng …bleh

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Tech621 – Internet Culture Topics/Assignments

In our Social Internet class tonight, we brainstormed on topics having to do with Internet Culture. During our April 5th class, each student will present on a topic from the list below. Professor V. has said we need to follow this structure:

1. Definition – what it is, brief history
2. Major examples
3. (optional) Big ideas / Values underlying
4. (optional) Implications

Topics/Assignments:
Natasha – Wiki Pages
Kenie – P2P File Sharing
Nara – Viral Videos
Jackie – Internet Urban Legends
Adam – Gaming Communites
Andrew & Scott – Internet pranking
Jack – Vidding
Sergio – Mashups
Rachel – Porn
Anish – Geek Culture
Amanda – Ecommerce/Marketplace
Brandon – YouTube
Israa – Internet Bullying
Michelle – Internet Celebrities
Sarah & Laura – Linguistic Culture
Brandon, Vanessa, Adam – Memes

Some details still need to be discussed:
– presentation order?
– length of each presentation?
– grouping topics/teaming up for presentation?
– other issues?

Feel free to discuss in the comments below!

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The Best of PhD Comics (Part 1)

If you are now or have ever been a grad student, you absolutely MUST become familiar with PhD Comics (that’s right, I used bold, italicsunderline, AND CAPS). I came across this comic strip during my 2nd year of grad school and it has seen me through many of my hair-pulling, stress-inducing, frustrating, confusing, fubar and wtf times as I’ve continued this long… long…* journey through grad school. It’s the little ray of sunshine that let’s me know I’m not the only one… there are other grad students out there going through the exact same thing.

Here are a couple of my favorites. I’ll post more on occasion, but if you don’t want to wait, you can view Every PhD Comic Ever Created right now. If you can relate to any of these, don’t worry… you are not alone. Feel free to comment below. Enjoy! =)

Why? Why?

Why? Why?

Infinite Loop

Infinite Loop

Newton's Third Law of Graduation

Newton's Third Law of Graduation

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Research Topic – AR’s Teen years

I’ve been thinking about possible research topics for my Social Internet class over the last couple weeks. While I was batting around several ideas trying to find the right topic, my topic seems to have found me. It emerged through the increasing number of tweets I’ve been receiving about various happenings with augmented reality (AR).

I’m currently following several very active users and developers of AR and have noticed even over just a short period of time, that the rate and significance of their tweets have increased. While it’s possible this may just be a temporary spike, it got me thinking about how AR has evolved since I started following the technology approximately 8 years ago. I’m now quite interested in the relationship between how AR has evolved as a technology and how it is perceived by the public. The public is now receiving multiple jolts of AR through various marketing campaigns and the technology is now seeing experiments in commerce. Both popular media and social media are each playing a part in disseminating the latest and greatest of augmented reality.

Tissot's Augmented Reality watch application

Tissot's Augmented Reality watch application

It seems to me that AR as a technology has now entered into its figurative teenage years. Up until now most AR applications have been child-like, showing promise but by-and-large they have been cute gimmicks rather than useful applications (GE’s AR SmartGrid for example). Now, the technology is still a bit awkward and misunderstood by many, but it’s also becoming capable of useful applications in the real world… getting part-time jobs after school if you will. Ray-Ban’s Virtual Mirror and Tissot’s AR Watch application are good examples showing how AR can actually provide benefit to the user, allowing them to try on products and see how they look on the user through the companies’ websites.

However, knowledge of these applications is still limited. Potential customers don’t go to product website expecting AR functionality… rather these new applications are revealed through popular and social media, ad campaigns, and word of mouth. For the purposes of my research project, I intend to look at how the public is becoming aware of AR and its applications. Reading about AR is significantly different from seeing it in video, which is also different from experiencing it first-hand. Do perceptions of the utility of AR vary based on how and where the public gets its information?

Comments and suggestions are welcome. Just post in a comment below.

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Vlog #1 – The Jack Moreland Show!!!

Check out my first pass at a vlog where I cover random topics that caught my interest today (The Virtusphere, An English translation of “The Last Ring-Bearer”, and Zelda turns 25!!!)

Does this format work? Is the pace too slow? too fast? too random? What’s missing? I had fun making it, so please let me know your thoughts in a comment below!

The Virtusphere – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=929pUx3Afjk
“The Last Ring-Bearer” – http://ymarkov.livejournal.com/270570.html
Zelda turns 25! – http://www.1up.com/news/legend-of-zelda-turns-25

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Visualization and Time Travel

Let me tell you about a little online journey I just completed. What started in the realm of entertainment (science fiction and time travel), ended up taking me to some faimiliar areas of visualization with some funny tie-ins, touching on the work of Tufte, and introducing me to a new web comic in the process.

Let me begin by saying that time perception is one of my research interests. My master’s thesis was on time perception in virtual environments, looking at elements that make time seem to pass more quickly/slowly. This being the case, I’m also interested in how time is described and perceived in various works of fiction. So, it shouldn’t be a suprise that one of my favorite television shows is Doctor Who, a british series revolving around characters who have adventures traveling through time and space. So, while youtubing various clips from the show, I came across a vid that referenced this Metacritic Article on the Best and Worst Time Travel Movies of all time. I checked out the list and recognized most of the movies, but number 15 on the “best” list was a film titled Primer that I’d never heard of. After doing a little research, I found that Primer was a 2004 independent film that had a $7,000 budget and won some awards at the Sundance Film Festival. I was intrigued, and decided I needed to watch the movie (available for purchase from the Primer website).

I don’t wish to turn this post into a movie review, but let me just say that I enjoyed Primer immensely. I really liked how it depicted the process of innovation, showing some guys trying to develop and improve an existing technology, finding some unexpected side-effects of their work, and eventually abandoning their original idea to develop those side-effects into a new technology. Positive comments aside, Primer is definately one of those movies where you need to watch it more than once to really understand what’s going on. I found myself going to the movie’s forum to see if anyone could shed some light on parts of the movie that flew over my head. It was here that somebody referenced this xkcd comic that shows a graph of character interactions through time in several movies. In addition to Primer, the comic also showed charts for Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, and 12 Angry Men. It was the chart for Lord of the Rings, that really caught my attention. Figure 1 below shows Sauron’s Army, while Figure 2 shows Napoleon’s army.

Sauron & Napoleon's army size over time

While these two charts depict differ in some respects, there are unmistakeable similarities. Both are able to merge and display multiple types of data in a coherent manner  (army size, time, geographic location…). I find it simultaeously both great and hilarious that essentially the same visualization that Edward Tufte called “Probably the best statistical graphic ever drawn” is being used in a web comic.

…and in case you’re interested enough to see the movie that brought me this point, [spoiler alert] see Figure 3. Character Interaction Chart for the movie "Primer"

…and to wrap things up, let me ask you internet, what are your thoughts on all of this? Are there any important time travel movies missing from the list? Should I be suprised to find renowned visualization practices finding their way into comics? Are there other good examples of informative visualization being used in entertainment? If you know of any good ones (or very poor ones on the opposite end of the spectrum), or if you have any other thoughts, please post them in a response.

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Convenient Blogging Test #1

Test, test… Is this thing on? Wow that actually worked I spoke the words, and… And it turns them into the symbols only annoying part is it doesn’t do anything for my voice pauses . Oh well, I guess I will just need to start speaking my population. Uhhuh there’s that type so I was waiting for . Oh man the type those are racking up now. First word should’ve been punk situation . Punk situation. Oh, forget it you get the idea. Another down side  is this is only letting me speak in short phrases and then it means to translate so I need to wait in between paragraphs . Oh well good first try. I will keep testing.

…and cut. Okay, now I’m typing on my phone’s keyboard. Everything in that first paragraph was spoken aloud and converted to text with the  ShoutOUT app and then copy/pasted into the WordPress app. Definately not perfect, but that was with no voice training. Supposedly I can train the app to recognize my voice better. Will give that a try later to see if it does any better.

Test #1 done. It worked better than I thought it would, but probably not usable yet. More testing needed.

Random thought, if I find a method that works pretty well, we can do a modified Turing test… see if people can tell when I typing vs when I’m drive-talk-blogging. Hmmm…=)

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