Jason Porath

has a website, i guess

Month: February 2004 (page 1 of 2)


I’ve been posting on a forum lately about the Casshern trailer (linked several posts ago), and someone responded to one of my lengthier posts by saying “Dont u luv it wen ppl think they are film critics…”

I responded:

Um, I am a film critic. I’ve been studying cinema critical theory for four years. I’m writing a twelve page paper on the use of sound in King Kong, The Birds, Diva and several other films right now.

Mu hu ha ha. Do not meddle in the affairs of film majors, for we are know-it-alls and quick to show off.

Revolution Through Recycling

Just a question to all my friends in other states: Do you ever walk out your door and have some crazy homeless person on your lawn, digging through your trash, taking all your recyclables?
I have two or three, they usually show up on Sunday afternoon (pickup is Tuesday morning). They’re pretty territorial, though, so it’s generally just this one Vietnam vet guy who keeps screaming to himself about bringing down the government. How digging through my trash accelerates his plans, I don’t know.

I can’t help but think my mom would be concerned if I told her about this.

Thank You Jesus! But Our Salvation is in Another Castle!

Photoshop contest for surprise endings to The Passion of the Christ. Some funny stuff in there. I particularly like the “lifting Jesus at Iwo Jima” one.

That’s why you get superpowers when you’re older

Girl born who feels no pain. Ahhh. Read through this, some nasty stuff in there. Just because she doesn’t feel it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen…


Okay, so I know a lot of my friends from KY may have no idea of what in the world I’m up to nowadays. So here’s the skinny of the day-in, day-out:

This is my last semester, and the first one I’ve taken anything less than the maximum number of units I can without paying more money to USC. My classes are:
1) CTCS 473, Film Theories
This is a high-theory cinema class, dealing with people like Bazin, Kracauer, Munsterburg, etc. Goes fast, in depth, fairly intense. If USC hadn’t spent the past 3.5 years teaching me everything they’re going over in this class, it’d probably be pretty difficult. But because they teach the same things over and over again in all the classes, well, it’s pretty easy.
2) CTCS 411, Sound Theory of Film
This is pretty interesting. It’s a class taught by my friend Bill, who is a rockin’ dude and an SCFX alum, at that. It’s cool because the last time anyone really wrote about sound in film was in the 30s, and it was mostly saying “The coming of sound will destroy film.” So yeah, nobody thinks of film as, wow, a construction. Since starting this class I’ve already started noticing stuff — for instance, if you see Kill Bill, whenever Go-Go Yubari’s morning star flies straight at the camera, they layer in the Godzilla atomic breath-scream sound. Gotta love Tarentino.
3) Japanese 6.
Yes, I am in the 6th straight semester of Japanese. I’m alright at it. It’s funny, because I’m one of the class’s resident smartasses — the other day, Tamanaha-sensei asked the class, “What sort of things make someone appear rich?” and I answered, “If one wears a lot of bling-bling, one appears rich.” Tamanaha-sensei looked puzzled and asked, “Buringu buringu tte nandesuka?” (“What is bling-bling?”) I answered, “Mimi ga itaku natte akarusugiru yubiwa touka eapiisu no youna koto desu” (“Things like earrings and finger rings that are too bright and hurt your eyes.”)

I’ve also been doing computer graphics (as usual) in my spare time. Latest example is here.

Jesus, I need a hobby

One more thing — this movie’s trailer is awesome.

On a roll

Daniel Maas is teh p1mp.

This guy actually worked with my Uncle Frank on an “entomopter” project. Basically, Uncle Frank knew of these army guys who were trying to make fly-shaped robots that would be able to spy on enemies and whatnot. Problem was making them small enough. He also knew some NASA guys who were having problems with their Mars probes — basically, they were launching cameras into space that would spiral around Mars and take as many pictures as they could until crashing into the ground and dying. They needed something that was capable of independent action and was self-sustaining in harsh environments.

So Uncle Frank put two and two together and put forward a proposal to NASA put giant robotic insects on Mars. Daniel did the computer-generated previz for it. It was really quite astounding, I wish I had a copy of it somewhere…

…really need something else to do other than post to this thing while my frames render… maybe I will keep up with production sketches for my forthcoming webcomic…

Oh yes

Everyone should take a look at this.

Grey Fat Tuesday

Grey Tuesday, if you haven’t heard of it, is the first major act of purely electronic civil disobedience I’ve ever heard of. It is the mass mirroring (against the wishes of record companies) of The Grey Album, a remix of Jay-Z’s Black Album and The Beatles’ White Album. The artist behind it is named DJ Danger Mouse, and only pressed 3000 copies of the album before he was told to stop — most of which were given to friends and family. The remix has become a phenomenon, with rave reviews in Rolling Stone and The New York Times.
EMI, the copyright holders of The Beatles’ works, were, predictably, upset by this.
They issued cease-and-desist orders to Danger Mouse, an act that was met with great hostility by informed netizens everywhere. So they organized mass hosting of the Grey Album for free download. Almost every site was issued cease-and-desist orders by EMI, but kept it up anyways.

Now. Let’s think about this.

The shape of the future is being decided at this very moment. Consider, if you will, the infrastructure of the internet. Everyone’s identity is determined by their IP address, a simple number with no additional information attached to it. It is easily spoofed, and more easily hidden. It is because of this that it is nigh-impossible to tell who is who on the internet. The closest equivalent that has been established is “cookies,” which are user-optional.
Now, large corporations want user accountability. They want to know who is using what and when. To this end, they are implementing a new infrastructure whereby all their content will be fed through a meta-internet, where one is assigned a sort of user ID, a super-IP address. I don’t know what sort of information will be attached to your super-IP, and I’d bet that the architects of the metanet are not going to be forthcoming about it. While this would be an optional usage of your internet capability, it would be the one most people would use — as movies, television, and phone services, at least, would be served only through it.
This would mean that you would only be able to use Digitally Copyrighted media files supplied through the metanet, and thus unable to, say, remix copyrighted material into a fan music video, or use a soundtrack in your student film, or create the Grey Album. It means that large corporations would know what music you listen to, and how often, and be able to hoist compatible bands at you, and just you. With the next generation of computers, they would even be able to dial into your computer and turn it off remotely, were they to, say, find cracked software.

Of course, the implications of the current internet TCP/IP scheme thus becoming the seedy underground of the online world (with usenet, IRC, and newsgroups becoming the dark alleys) are also fascinating.

There is a great fight brewing for control of the online world, and this is the first firm stand I’ve seen by the informed netizens. It will be extremely interesting to see how this plays out. The more I learn about this, the more I believe that this will be one of the major battles of my generation.

Tardy Genius

Well, let’s set the tone of this journal with something appropriately geeky and incomprehensible. It’s a cute story, skip to the end if your eyes start to gloss over. I’ll forget it if I don’t write it down.

A couple weeks ago, while I was at the LA SIGGRAPH February meeting, I was struck with this interesting idea for facial/performance capture on CG models. Essentially, you would get a decent scan of someone’s face using a micron scanner, then you would record their facial performance from several angles using HD cameras. You would then input the footage into boujou or Realviz Matchmover and track their face, thus constructing a 3d point cloud about their face. You would match each point in the point cloud onto a 2d point on a UV texture map wrapped about the CG micron scan head, and then project data from the point cloud onto the UV map.
What this would get you:
– an animated displacement map, using the RGB channels of each pixel in the UV map to represent the XYZ vectors of the points in the point cloud for -that frame-
– the magnitude of the move in each frame, stored either in an alpha channel, or, more likely, an accompanying 16-bit image file, tapered off by a magnifier
– real-world data on the actor’s face appropriately mapped onto a deformed CG model
The displacement would have to be aggregated from frame to frame, building on top of itself, so you would need some sort of blending with manual keyframes, as it would no doubt get skewed the further into the sequence it got.

So I explained this complicated idea to my friends on the car ride home.
They informed me that I had, in great detail, without having ever read the papers, described The Matrix’s Universal Capture technique.

…so I’m a genius, just a little bit slow.

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