Browsing Refresh

Henrik Eneroth reimagines the web browser in the era of widescreen monitors and fullscreen apps:

Of course, screen sizes do still mat­ter when browsing the web. Since many web sites will be longer than your screen is tall, the less user inter­face we put vertically, the bet­ter. But most screens today are widescreens, so why are we not put­ting the left- and right-hand sides of the screen to better use, instead of for­cing everything into a bar on the top of the window?

His solution:

eneroth_browser

(Via Cameron Moll)

Apple Employees: It Gets Better

You know all those adjectives Steve uses to describe a new Apple product? They work just as well for this video.

After seeing Adobe’s video, my buddy Jon Nagle tweeted:

You know what company should put together
one of these videos? ESPN.

“U as in Eunice”

…or why you should hide your phone from yourself when you plan on drinking.

(Via Devour)

Academy Award for Least Deserving Score

I knew going into last night I would be disappointed about the outcome of the Best Original Score award. Last night’s outcome is added to the long list of the Academy awarding a lesser-deserving score.

Can you hum the theme from Midnight Express? No? But what about Superman?

Certain scores, like certain films that went undeservedly unrecognized, are now more appreciated as time has passed. That they weren’t Oscar-winning scores now seems like a mistake. Here are a few:

1978: Midnight Express over Superman
1979: A Little Romance over Star Trek: The Motion Picture
1980: Fame over The Empire Strikes Back
1981: Chariots of Fire over Raiders of the Lost Ark
1986: ‘Round Midnight over Aliens, Hoosiers, and The Mission
1995: Il Postino over Apollo 13 and Braveheart
1998: Life is Beautiful over Saving Private Ryan and The Thin Red Line
1999: The Red Violin over American Beauty, Angela’s Ashes, and The Cider House Rules
2000: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon over Gladiator
2005: Brokeback Mountain over Memoirs of a Geisha
2006: Babel (a mind-boggling back-to-back win for composer Gustavo Santoalalla) over everything else
2010: The Social Network over How to Train Your Dragon and Inception

How to Train Your Social Network 127 Hours after Inception of the King’s Speech

Five film scores are up for the Academy Award for Best Original Score. One is a safe-and-nice-yet-ultimately-throw-away score, one is a solid-effort-but-there’s-no-way-it’s-going-to-win score, one is a very-smart-and-not-a-surprise-it-was-nominated score, one is a slightly-more-useful-than-a-hangnail-on-a-hobo score, and one is a delightful surprise.

Let’s start with The King’s Speech, composed by Alexandre Desplat.

This is exactly the type of score that gets nominated every year by the Academy. The music is safe, undemanding, from a dramatic film, and driven by piano performances. The best thing I can say about this score it that it’s nice. Is that a compliment? Maybe. Is that a back-handed compliment? Probably. Desplat can write good music. This is okay music, but the Academy had to fill its piano-music quota with something.
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Really, though, this score probably shouldn’t be nominated. Or even eligible. The last two tracks encompassing pivotal scenes in the film are scored not by Desplat but instead by Beethoven. It’s always my fear that Academy voters get swayed by nice-sounding classical music. “Hey! Classical music! I will vote for this score! I will feel sophisticated!” Lame.

I imagine if The King’s Speech is sweeping all its other categories, Desplat will be going home with an Oscar, too—as in, Oscar voters won’t be voting for the music but instead for the movie. Also lame.

Moving on to A.R. Rahman’s 127 Hours.

Thus far known only for his Oscar-winning score and songs to Slumdog Millionaire, Rahman is still something of a newcomer to the Hollywood composing scene but no stranger to Bollywood. I suppose that makes him somewhat “exotic” to Academy voters something else they like. “Hey! Diversity! I will feel sophisticated!”

Rahman’s score brings a fresh voice to Hollywood film scores. This particular score is decent, sometimes difficult to listen to, but has some solid moments.
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A solid effort, but Rahman won’t be taking his third statue home.

But Hans Zimmer could walk away with his second. In a no-brainer move, the Academy nominated Zimmer’s Inception score. Absolutely deserving.
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Zimmer created a smart, driving, sometimes bombastic score with its roots firmly planted in the style he has been developing over the last several years with his scores from The Da Vinci Code, The Dark Knight, and others. Did the 2010 Zimmer go back in time and plant an idea in the mind of the 2007 Zimmer? BWAAAAARRRGH.
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I’m not saying his Inception score uses material from his other scores, but he’s been developing a particular style, and in this score, his style coalesced into something unreached in his previous efforts.
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Zimmer’s Inception score is smart and definitely worthy of a nomination.

Neither of which are true for Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s The Social Network score.

I cannot for the life of me understand why this score is even for a fleeting moment considered one of the best scores of 2010. Impossible. Ridiculous. Inconceivable. This score is the film-music equivalent of Sarah Palin: An undeserved, controversial hack mucking up the landscape while mind-blowingly winning attention and a following of supporters that makes me say “what the fuck.”

This score, and I use that term very lightly here, is nothing more than ambient electronica. I have no doubt this music has a place somewhere. In a film is questionable. Nominated for best score is dumbfounding. This is nine-inch nails on a chalkboard. It’s the music you might hear in your head after you are mugged, beat over the head, dragged behind a car, dropped from a bridge, and left for dead as buzzards are picking your eyes out.
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A musical theme is nothing more than a collection of notes strung together in a coherent musical fashion. The theme from The Social Network really is nothing more than a collection of notes strung together.
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I can’t imagine this music was composed specifically for scenes in the film. There’s just no way. More plausible is that Reznor watched the film, started composing some ideas afterward, and that music was then edited into scenes in the film.
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I don’t think I would have as much hate for this score if it hadn’t been nominated for Best Original Score by the Academy just after winning the Golden Globe for Best Original Score. As with The King’s Speech, if The Social Network sweeps the Oscars, Reznor and Ross will be Oscar-winners—undeservedly so.

Perhaps I’m being too harsh. Music, after all, is highly subjective. But my point is this: the Oscar for Best Original Score should in fact be decided amongst the best original scores. This score is nowhere near the best and nowhere near original when tracks from the score are reworkings of previous Reznor material. If this music wins Best Original Score, I will set my hair on fire.

The good thing, though, is that I wouldn’t need to actually light my hair on fire. I’ll be so angry from John Powell’s How to Train Your Dragon score losing that I’ll likely combust automagically.

I’ll combust from rage because Powell’s score is so good, so original, and so deserving.

John Powell has a knack for composing scores for animated films. He crafts music that is as frenetic as it is heartwarming, as serious as it is jovial. Because of the layered complexities and frenzied nature of his compositions, I often wonder if he has a touch of ADHD. Unlike most everyone else who graduated from the Hans Zimmer school of composing, he has been able to branch out on his own and forge his own style. And with How to Train Your Dragon, he brought all this together to construct a masterpiece of a film score. The score’s opening:
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Powell created a musical world with a rich thematic integrity throughout. While certainly not short on heroic music, the score also includes some lighter fare.
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But it’s the big, bold bombast that makes this score. Not only is Powell’s How to Train Your Dragon my favorite film score of the year, it contains my favorite track of the year.
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You can listen to the whole track here.

How to Train Your Dragon is easily the best score of John Powell’s career, and surely one of the best animated scores in some time. Given its originality, its thematic cohesiveness, and its likeability—no, lovability—this is easily the best film score of 2010.

Will John Powell go home with his first Oscar? I won’t hold my breath, but I’ll be sure to keep a bucket of water handy to extinguish my hair. But when I douse my head, I guess I will have to hold my breath.

There are a few composers that won’t be holding their breath either on Oscar night. Because their names aren’t in an envelope. Because their scores weren’t nominated. But they could have been. No, should have been.

For starters, there’s James Newton Howard’s score for The Last Airbender.
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It’s a shame that the movie was so awful that it tainted the score’s chances at a nomination. This is a score that doesn’t get written much these days, and it evokes fantasy scores of the past.
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Howard created a vivid and thematic score for The Last Airbender, and it’s easily one of his best scores.
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Then there’s James Horner’s surprise score for The Karate Kid. He was a replacement composer, but he created a masterful work. I wrote more about the score  last year.
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But one score deserves to be on the list if only because of how well it worked within its film: Daft Punk’s Tron: Legacy score. The film really should have been billed as “Tron: Legacy, starring Digital Domain and Daft Punk (and also starring everyone else).” Daft Punk’s score was an additional character in the forefront of the film driving the narrative.
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Just like Trent Reznor, Daft Punk are novices in the film-score world. But unlike Trent Reznor, Daft Punk competently scored their film and brought a fresh yet somehow retro sound to their film.
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Any of these three scores could have replaced one or more of the nominated five. But they didn’t. And life will go on.

I just hope life for John Powell goes on with a shiny, golden statue. Perhaps then he can say, “Hey! An Oscar! I feel sophisticated!”

Huzzah!

espn creative services layer tennis

This week, the ESPN Creative Services department held a development day giving employees opportunities to share, learn, and develop new skills, techniques, or ideas. One of the sessions was an all-day creative development session called “Layer Tennis.”

Layer Tennis mashes-up the excitement of organized competition with the skill and precision of graphic design. Participants volleyed with an opponent throughout the day using Photoshop and wit as their equipment. If you haven’t seen the real Layer Tennis, check out Coudal Partners http://layertennis.com/.

The ESPN Creative Services Layer Tennis proved equally creative, funny, witty, and full of smack-talk.

Check out all four matches: http://outsidethecage.org/.

(Image by Justin Linde in Match 1)

Dean Walton’s “Oscar Nominated 2011” Posters

…are beautiful.

Dean Walton the social network poster

Dean Walton True Grit Poster

Check them all out here.

(via /Film)

“Are You Fond of Ukrainian Ladies?”

From my spam box:

Hello honey!! I am for a good mature man.

As for myself, I am a pretty Ukrainian lady.
Are you fond of Ukrainian ladies??

We are not just pretty and clever, but very tolerant as well..
Ukrainian ladies? esteem family and tend to be with their beloved ones a great deal of right time..

It’s right time to meet each other!
I’ll be waiting for you on international marriage site. Bye dear!!

Hmm, she could be my dream girl… if only she knew ellipses had three periods and not two.

“Give My Regards to King Tut”

President Obama this week gave a speech in Schenectady NY. And apparently he also opened the Stargate?

(Photo: http://www.timesunion.com/).

Re: WORDS

Everynone’s original video:

…and their follow-up using only clips from YouTube:

(via Devour)

She’s Always a Woman

(via Devour)

The Eagle Has Landed… Far From Home

While driving through Verona, NY (between Syracuse and Utica), I noticed this campaign sign for Mike Hennessy, a “fiscally conservative Democrat” running for the New York State Senate:

Here’s a better rendition of his logo:


(Photo source)

Patriotic, no doubt. The problem is, this logo was used once already. By a Republican. Running for president:


(Photo source)

Even the same color scheme. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any more information about the logo or any mention of it being a rehash (theft?) in any news article. Seems strange, though, that Mike Hennessy, a Democrat, is using Mitt Romney’s logo from his failed 2008 presidential campaign. But that’s politics, I guess.

35MM

Sarah Biermann, Torsten Strer, Felix Meyer, and Pascal Monaco simplify 35 movies into their most basic visual representation and pack them into a slick, two-minute motion graphics piece. Brilliant:

How many did you recognize?

(via /Film)

The Island

If only our favorite LOSTies had one of these from cartographer Jonah Adkins:

lost island

Check out the full-sized version. And order yourself a copy here.

(Via FlowingData)

Olly Moss

Using three colors and a minimal approach, Olly Moss created a posters for each of the films scheduled for the 2010 Rolling Roadshow tour.  Terrific work.  Check them all out here.

Olly Mosss Dirty Harry

(Via Daring Fireball)

Ghosts of World War II

Russian photographer Sergey Larenkov has captured ghosts of World War II haunting the present-day world.   Well sort of.   Larenkov overlayed and blended WWII photos onto modern-day photos of the same location and perspective producing a hauntingly powerful result:

larenkov

larenkov

Stunning.   Check out his entire collection here.

(Via Core77 via Gizmodo)

Sic Semper Disappointment

/Film this week reported something very disappointing:

For years Steven Spielberg has been developing a biopic of Abraham Lincoln, and Liam Neeson has long been attached to the title role. But the film has failed to come together for various reasons […]. “I’m not actually playing Lincoln now,” Neeson said to GMTV. “I was attached to it for a while, but it’s now I’m past my sell-by date.”

I hope this changes, because Liam Neeson as Lincoln would be spectacular.

Counting the Vote

The Massachusetts state legislature today passed a bill that would force its state electoral votes to be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes nationally.  Having done my graduate school thesis project on Electoral College reforms, I had to jump on this.

Forcing the Electoral College to follow the national popular vote effectively renders the Electoral College moot.  The winner of the national popular vote would automatically be the winner of the Electoral College—at which point the Electoral College serves no purpose.  But without a constitutional amendment, the Electoral College has to exist is some bastardized form of a LOST-esque purgatory.

A national popular vote, while seemingly popular, probably wouldn’t change election outcomes much; candidates will still likely campaign the same or similarly to how they do now.  The Democratic candidate still will not campaign in Massachusetts, California, or Illinois, and the Republican candidate will still not campaign in Texas, Georgia, Utah, or Oklahoma.  Who most voters in these states will vote for is all-but determined before the election season even starts.   Instead, both candidates will still campaign in the battleground states of our existing electoral system in an effort to secure as many toss-up votes as possible.   Why?  Because this is where the majority of toss-up votes are.  They’re battleground states for a reason.

If the purpose to switching to a national popular vote is out of anger at the Electoral College, the anger is misplaced.  The thing is, a close election will be a close election no matter how the vote is counted.  Take 2000 as an example.  Of the roughly 105 million votes cast, less than 540,000 votes separated Bush & Gore—roughly 0.0052 of the total.  In 1888, another year the popular-vote winner lost the presidency, out of 11 million votes cast, less than 91,000 votes separated Harrison and Cleveland—roughly 0.008 of the total.

Close elections will remain controversial.  The nightmare scenario with a national popular vote would be a recount of every vote in the nation.  What would the recount threshold be?  0.01?  0.005?

A far more interesting Electoral College reform to explore is a proportional allocation of each state’s electoral votes.

As a review, whichever candidate in a state receives the most popular votes in the state also receives all of that states electoral votes.  If the candidate receives 1 more vote or 1 million more votes, that candidate gets all of the electoral votes.  This process is in effect in every state but Maine and Nebraska (these two states award electoral votes based on which candidate wins each congressional district and two for the winner of the state’s popular vote.  Maine adopted this method in 1972 and has never split its vote; Nebraska adopted this in 1992 and only split its vote once: 2008).

The proportional allocation plan splits a state’s electoral votes according to what percentage of the state’s popular vote the candidate won.  So if a candidate wins 60% of the state’s popular vote, the candidate receives 60% of the state’s electoral votes.

With a proportional allocation plan, no disbanding of the Electoral College would be necessary.  State results are still state results—thus retaining the federalist aspect of presidential elections.  And, switching the Electoral College to proportional allocation wouldn’t require a constitutional amendment; rather, each state would pass a law directing their electoral votes to be proportionally allocated (there isn’t anything in the Constitution on how a state’s electoral votes be allocated; only that they must exist).

More than anything else, though, the best aspect of proportional allocation is the likelihood of increased voter participation.  Suddenly, every vote matters. Candidates would have to alter their campaign strategies.  California’s 55 electoral votes and Texas’s 34 are up for grabs more so than they are now.  John McCain would have won 20 electoral votes in California and Barack Obama 15 in Texas.  Republicans in decidedly-Democratic states and Democrats in decidedly-Republican states who might not vote in the current system because “their vote doesn’t count” now have more relevance and have more purpose to vote.

And that, is the point.  Increased voter participation is the real issue.  So whether proportional allocation is the method or a national popular vote, if more people vote and vote smartly, everyone wins.

If you’re interested in how reform proposals might have changed past presidential elections, check out my thesis project where you can apply a reform proposal to a past election and see the results both nationally and state-by-state (mouse-over each state for further breakdown of results).

Sacred Honor

us flag

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
The 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence

Happy Independence Day.

GOOOOOLden Graphics

I’ve talked about the music of ESPN’s World Cup coverage, but what about some of the graphics?   Motionographer recently posted a montage of Prologue’s graphics package for ESPN.   Great stuff.   Check it out!

prologue espn

NBA Free Agents

On SportsCenter yesterday, my NBA free agents touchscreen graphic debuted with NBA analyst Chris Broussard:

I still have a few tweaks and updates to work on, so the graphic isn’t finished, but after spending two months working on it, finally seeing it on TV is a great feeling.

What’s special about this graphic is the on-the-fly calculations of NBA team salaries based on several factors: signed player salaries, free agent cap holds if they have Bird rights, and team roster charges if the team has less than 12 players.   Each time a player is moved to or from a roster or a team renounces all or individual free agents, the graphic runs through a series of calculations to determine the team’s new salary total and their available cap room.

Because of this graphic, I now know more about the NBA free agency process than 1.) I care to know and 2.) I ever thought I would all thanks to this year’s big story: LeBron James.

Here was my view in the studio yesterday:

free agents graphic

free agents graphic

Waiting for Superman

Watch this.   You won’t be disappointed.

Created by the people at Buck who were also behind those fantastic Sherwin Williams paint chip commercials here and here.

(Via: Nagle)

AT-AT Day Afternoon

In case you haven’t seen Patrick Boivin’s “AT-AT Day Afternoon” yet, check it out. Terrifically well-done and cute idea.

Sonofabitch

I can’t get my hands on an iPhone 4 yet, and this effing guy is BLENDING one?! Sonofabitch.

(via TUAW)

Title Sequence: Human Target

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a title sequence, so here’s one for you.

Designed by: Jeremy Cox (check out his other great work!)
Year: 2010

(Via Motionographer)