Posts tagged “film”

You say hello, they say goodbye

mflogo

More news about technology eating its predecessors:

Moviefone is shutting down its phone-in ticketing business to focus on its app, according to Jeff Berman, president of BermanBraun, which runs the declining movie ticket service. “The call-in service has been in pretty steady decline… Our customers are much more interested in our award-winning app, and we need to invest our resources in the future, part of which involves a major reimagining of Moviefone.” This weekend, callers were informed that the service would soon go silent. Once a dominant force in the world of movie ticketing and listings, the service is best known for the voice of “Mr. Moviefone,” provided by founder Russ Leatherman, that greeted callers.

It’s part of the human condition to see things go by the wayside. In many cases what is lost is replaced by something that is better. A dial-in voice-based movie-listing service is hardly the best solution available to us, and the usage numbers for Moviefone show that. So it’s disappearance makes sense in terms of utility (and business). But with many of these disappearances, what we might mourn is the cultural loss (yes, Moviefone was an element on Seinfeld), recalling the affection we have for the familiarity, even considering it as tradition. Sometimes this collective sense of loss is enough to produce an outpouring that convinces a company that there’s a good-will business case around preservation. While I don’t expect that here, these occurrences are common and are interesting to look it through the lenses of function, business and meaning.

Full story

Does The Dog Die?

Does The Dog Die_



Here’s a site that aims to address a single specific need. Does The Dog Die? helps helps viewers avoid (presumably) distressing pet violence in their film diet. While it’s far from exhaustive, it lists a number of films, and codes them as follows
Does The Dog Die legend



The site is simply an alphabetic list of titles, each coded with the appropriate legend.
Does The Dog Die3_



Clicking in to a title gives slightly more detail – “an explanation which will only contain spoilers relevant to the fate of pets (and occasionally other animal characters) in the film.”
DDD---Invasion-of-the-Body-

Cut the bowling scene if you want to make it big

In the 90s, conceptual artists Komar and Melamid used focus groups and opinion-polls (then-current tools used in politics) to identify the best attributes of a painting, then created works that matched those criteria.
perfect

So why not apply something similar to film? The New York Times tells us all about it (although this is more about correlating with sales data than opinion data, it pursues the same conclusion – without irony here – that a combination of the right elements assembled together will create a successful whole).

A chain-smoking former statistics professor named Vinny Bruzzese has started to aggressively pitch a service he calls script evaluation. For as much as $20,000 per script, Mr. Bruzzese and a team of analysts compare the story structure and genre of a draft script with those of released movies, looking for clues to box-office success. His company, Worldwide Motion Picture Group, also digs into an extensive database of focus group results for similar films and surveys 1,500 potential moviegoers.

“Demons in horror movies can target people or be summoned,” Mr. Bruzzese said in a gravelly voice, by way of example. “If it’s a targeting demon, you are likely to have much higher opening-weekend sales than if it’s summoned. So get rid of that Ouija Board scene.”

Bowling scenes tend to pop up in films that fizzle, Mr. Bruzzese, 39, continued. Therefore it is statistically unwise to include one in your script. “A cursed superhero never sells as well as a guardian superhero,” one like Superman who acts as a protector, he added.

ChittahChattah Quickies

Mice as Stand-Ins in the Fight Against Disease [New York Times] – Looks like this has been happening in some measure for a while, but some new methods are increasing the usage. The most science-fiction thing you’ll read all week.

In what could be the ultimate in personalized medicine, animals bearing your disease, or part of your anatomy, can serve as your personal guinea pig, so to speak. Some researchers call them avatars, like the virtual characters in movies and online games. “The mice allow you the opportunity to test drugs to find out which ones will be efficacious without exposing the patient to toxicity,” said Colin Collins, a professor at the University of British Columbia.

Australia 2012 [Flickr] – My complete set of pictures from Australia earlier this month.

Chinese families’ worldly goods in Huang Qingjun’s pictures [BBC] – We’ve seen other projects like this, but the focus on China captures a material culture in transition.

Amid China’s tumultuous dash to become rich, one man’s photographs of families posing with their worldly goods will soon seem like records from a distant era. Huang Qingjun has spent nearly a decade travelling to remote parts of China to persuade people who have sometimes never been photographed to carry outside all their household possessions and pose for him. The results offer glimpses of the utilitarian lives of millions of ordinary Chinese who, at first glance, appear not to have been swept up by the same modernisation that has seen hundreds of millions of others leave for the cities. But seen more closely, they also show the enormous social change that has come in a generation. So the photo of an elderly couple of farmers outside their mud house reveals a satellite dish, DVD player and phone.

Four Big Things, a phrase dating from 1950s for most sought-after goods for newly married couples: sewing machine, bicycle, watch, radio. It’s since come to refer to whatever is most fashionable at the time. By 1980s the four big things were: TV, washing machine, rice cooker, fridge. Now, consumer goods flood China’s cities, it tends to be used to describe people’s aspirations for the latest thing.

Must-See Video: How a Woman With No Arms Dresses Herself. What Assistance Can Design Provide? [Core 77] – I love the reaction; that excitement of discovering how current solutions could be improved. Designers are so great at bringing that creativity and know-how to bear to make change for the good. But let’s remember, we don’t need videos to be posted by users to uncover what things aren’t working for them. Are designers waiting for broken products to appear in front of them so they can spontaneously improve them, or are they out there looking at current behaviors and solutions in order to proactively find opportunities. Designers: you don’t need the disabled (or anyone) to post their own videos, go and shoot your own!

I hope that more folks with disabilities make videos like this, not just to share with others what their particular trials are, but to enable us designers to improve upon the objects they use.

FILMography – a Tumblr with an incredible series of images where a printout of a still from a film is held up in the actual location where that scene was shot. It’s a “trick” I’ve seen before but mostly as a one-off; the breadth here is fascinating.

FILM + photography = FILMography.

Well, thank you for joining us

For a little Friday Fun, here’s Mike Birbiglia‘s new short film from This American Life LIVE (if you are in the US, Canada, or Australia, I highly encourage you to find a screening near you for this next Tuesday; truly a wonderful entertainment and storytelling experience).

In this short and gently comedic film, Birbiglia pokes fun at some the norms of interviewing (and being interviewed).

ChittahChattah Quickies

P&G gets innovative [Cincinnati.com] – The process behind Tide Pods includes lots and lots of research such as “talking” to 6,000 consumers. It appears this research was all done in simulated environments. I am bemused by the willing self-deception that if you put a couch in a lab, it makes the research contextual. I’d like to see P&G watching people do laundry in their real, non-idealized, messy, distracted, semi-functioning environment. Because then maybe you’d get takeaways richer than “Most laundry-doers are looking for a way to get it done faster.”

Inside the Beckett Ridge “home,” P&G researchers interviewed regular people as they sat in the comfortable couches of a mock family room or at the counter of a mock kitchen. They did the wash in a fully functioning laundry room. Through it all, they were videotaped and audiotaped, so P&G can capture how the wash gets done in a real-world setting…Back at Beckett Ridge, researchers worked on the packaging and the store display. Inside the “grocery store” with its six aisles, two checkout lanes and a self-scan lane, cameras are everywhere, recording how shoppers shop. The video feed can be streamed to any P&G Intranet site so questions and comments can be called in.

Never Too Early Movie Predictions – Sure, if we care at all, we’re still digesting the most recent Academy Awards. But forgot about 2012, this site has predictions through 2017. Sheesh, I haven’t seen any of these movies! Another moment where the corners of the Internet remind you that everyday life is filled with some genuine science fiction moments.

2015 Oscar Best Picture predictions
1. Noah
2. Citizen Hughes: The Power, The Money And The Madness
3. Churchill And Roosevelt
4. Avatar 2
5. The $700 Billion Man
6. The Color Of Lightening
7. Serena
8. Americana

Young Women Often Trendsetters in Vocal Patterns [NYT] – I had missed the original “vocal fry” hubbub a few months back, but I also enjoy how this article reframes young-female speech into a positive, leading-edge anthropological act.

Girls and women in their teens and 20s deserve credit for pioneering vocal trends and popular slang, adding that young women use these embellishments in much more sophisticated ways than people tend to realize. “A lot of these really flamboyant things you hear are cute, and girls are supposed to be cute,” said Penny Eckert, a professor of linguistics at Stanford. “But they’re not just using them because they’re girls. They’re using them to achieve some kind of interactional and stylistic end.” The latest linguistic curiosity to emerge from the petri dish of girl culture gained recognition in December, when researchers from Long Island University published a paper in The Journal of Voice. Working with what they acknowledged was a very small sample – recorded speech from 34 women ages 18 to 25 – the professors said they had found evidence of a new trend among female college students: a guttural fluttering of the vocal cords they called “vocal fry.” A classic example of vocal fry, best described as a raspy or croaking sound injected (usually) at the end of a sentence, can be heard when Mae West says, “Why don’t you come up sometime and see me,” or when Maya Rudolph mimics Maya Angelou on SNL.

Plastic Surgeons See iPhones Increase Demand for Cosmetic Procedures [Austin-Weston Center for Cosmetic Surgery] – It’s hard not to be cynical about this “press release” in which plastic surgeons tie the need for their services to a particularly hot tech brand. If you do this (the wrong way, at least) in China, you can get into trouble!

“Patients come in with their iPhones and show me how they look on [Apple’s video calling application] FaceTime,” says Dr. Sigal. “The angle at which the phone is held, with the caller looking downward into the camera, really captures any heaviness, fullness and sagging of the face and neck. People say ‘I never knew I looked like that! I need to do something!’ I’ve started calling it the ‘FaceTime Facelift’ effect. And we’ve developed procedures to specifically address it.” (via Kottke)

draw me in – Jeff Johnson’s quest to become a comic book extra. The best summary of the project – yet another example of the collapsing gulf between producer and consumer comes from this Wired article (quoted below).

Popping up in nearly 30 comic books, he has become the industry’s Waldo-a lurking stowaway who has managed to hijack the unlikeliest panels. “It’s the ultimate bragging right to go into a comic store and pick up a book you’re in,” says Johnson, a 30-year-old Kmart electronics clerk from Leavenworth, Kansas. His infamous glasses-and-goatee mug has been zombiefied (The Walking Dead), digitized (Tron: Betrayal), and placed alongside Sinestro (Green Lantern Corps), thanks to his ceaseless lobbying and the cooperation of artists. The idea sprang from a 2006 FHM contest in which entrants sent pictures of themselves in homemade costumes of villains; the winner (if you want to call it that) was drawn into Ultimate X-Men. Johnson didn’t want to dress up, so instead he handed out DrawMeIn flyers at Comic-Con, after which penciler Ryan Ottley worked him into Invincible.

Omni Quickies

Not Quite Smart Enough [NYT] – Smart appliances are back, yet again! Engineers are crammed atop happily dumb products because, well, because they can. The classic of course is the Smart Fridge, the result of jetpack-denied technologists channeling their rage. We’ve heard the use cases over and over again, we aren’t that interested (are we?) but comically, that doesn’t seem to stop them. From past work, I believe there some wonderful opportunities for technology to have a meaningful impact in domestic chores, but this repetition of an undesirable product just isn’t it. Bonus funny/sad: Mike Kuniavsky’s 2008 blog post looks at the history of these ridiculous things. /SP

Still, there are differences in what is offered this time around – especially in the role of smartphones, which were not widely on the market a decade ago. In addition, even if the idea of a connected home, controlled by a smart electrical grid, is years off, it is more than just a pipe dream. For now, though, manufacturers are promoting the high-tech gizmos on their smart appliances, rather than focusing on the potential for being a cog in a smart grid. Samsung offers a French-door refrigerator with an LCD screen and its own apps, allowing consumers to check the weather, browse the Web for recipes, listen to music and keep tabs on what is in the refrigerator. The 28-cubic feet, four-door refrigerator costs about $3,500. LG is introducing a refrigerator that allows consumers to scan a grocery receipt with their smartphone so that the refrigerator can track what is inside. So if you buy some chicken, for instance, the refrigerator will keep tabs on when you bought it and tell you when it is about to expire. If you have chicken, broccoli and lemons in your refrigerator, it will offer recipes that include those three ingredients, even narrowing recipes based on specific dietary needs and goals. Several manufacturers are introducing washers and dryers equipped with Wi-Fi that alert consumers on their television or smartphone when a load is done, and gives them the option of fluffing towels for another 10 minutes or adding a rinse cycle. LG’s robotic smart vacuum can be told, again, through a smartphone, to clean up the living room. And since it’s equipped with a built-in camera, its owner can secretly watch what the nanny is doing, too.

Tenured Professor Departs Stanford U., Hoping to Teach 500,000 Students at Online Start-Up [The Chronicle of Higher Education] – Last week we explored the innovative physical learning environment at the Swedish Vittra school. This week we learn that the future of educational institutions may involve abandoning the halls of the academy entirely in favor of virtual pedagogy and entrepreneurial ventures. Is the university destined for obsolescence? Freelance online classes challenge the value proposition (and often prohibitive cost) of a university degree by offering affordable alternatives that connect teachers who are motivated to share knowledge with students who are eager to learn and apply it, regardless of location. This reminds me of a recent Kickstarter project I funded called Don’t Go Back to School: A handbook for learning anything. For $25 I am getting a whole course and textbook on independent learning. Bargain! /TC

During his talk, Mr. Thrun explored the origins of his popular online course at Stanford, which initially featured videos produced with nothing more than “a camera, a pen and a napkin.” Despite the low production quality, many of the 200 Stanford students taking the course in the classroom flocked to the videos because they could absorb the lectures at their own pace. Eventually, the 200 students taking the course in person dwindled to a group of 30. Meanwhile, the course’s popularity exploded online, drawing students from around the world. The experience taught the professor that he could craft a course with the interactive tools of the Web that recreated the intimacy of one-on-one tutoring, he said.

Interactive film, Bear 71, blurs lines between wild and wired [Montreal Gazette] – News articles on this work, currently showing at Sundance, have difficulty classifying it. Is it a film? A documentary? An interactive experience? Multi-media project? All-encompassing digital experience? An interactive film? Akin to Steve’s comments on smart-appliances above, the interactive multi-media experience has also been around for awhile – remember ye olde CD-ROM? This project, however, is doing more than just using technology to give viewers some ownership and direction in the story-telling. The film-makers seem very tuned in to the philosophical implications of inserting all this technology into a very natural environment, and conscious of the irony of their ambition to use technology to bring us closer to our animal state, despite their claims that technology is the very thing drawing us away from that state. Bear 71 official site. /JN

Enter Jeremy Mendes, a Vancouver-based artist and three-time Webby Award winner with a special talent for interactive work. “I drove out to Alberta and met Leanne [Allison], and when I saw these images, I knew right away that it was bizarre: It was surveillance equipment, essentially. These are the same cameras we use on ourselves. They’re the same cameras in Times Square and 7-11,” says Mendes. “I thought, ‘This is a technology story about us and this bear.'” “We prepared an outline and did all the research, and realized this was a story about communication. It’s about the communication humans use, and the communication animals use,” says Mendes… Call it the natural bulletin board, or deciduous Internet, but the scents tell each animal’s story to other animals – very much the same way we use Facebook of Twitter to keep tabs on other humans. “Humans probably had the same ability to understand that information before technology removed us from the natural world,” says Allison…It’s such a different approach to filmmaking and art, that it may take a while for the average Joe or Jane to take it all in, but that’s kind of the point: We’re only half-awake to our animal nature, and all our ambient technology only serves to shove us deeper and deeper into a state of instinct denial.

Street Art Quickies

Kilroy Was Here, our column about street art, was recently published in interactions. In the time between finishing the article and its publication we’ve found a range of articles and links that go with it.

‘Gold Mountain’ history mural marred by graffiti [SFGate] – Murals, a legitimized and desirable form of street art are still vulnerable to others with spray paint. We call one “street art” and the other “graffiti” or worse, “tagging.”

Someone has written “easy girls” next to the group of 1940s Forbidden City cabaret dancers. The Chinese Telephone Exchange pagoda is obscured by spray-painted green scrawls. The likeness of 9/11 flight attendant Betty Ann Ong that was added to the mural in 2004 is almost covered by a bright orange tag. In 2004, it cost $25,000 to restore the mural. Even as the artist repainted the mural, taggers continued to mar her work. Security cameras were installed in 2008, but new graffiti appears nearly every week. Now, officials at Chinatown Community Development Center, which owns the apartment building on which the mural is painted, say they’re considering re-creating the mural somewhere else. So far the nonprofit has been cited for the graffiti, but has not paid any fines. “It’s impossible to keep up with taggers, and we don’t have the manpower or the funding,” said Cathie Lam, the center’s senior community organizer. It was “determined not worthwhile and too labor-intensive” to restore it a second time, she said.

Vigilante Vigilante: The Battle for Expression – We attended the first screening of this film. The movie, despite its extraordinary bias towards street art, was extremely thought-provoking. The screening itself was dramatic and intense, with the post-film discussion devolving into shouting, name-calling, and some gang-related threats.

A new breed of crime-fighter now stalks the urban landscape: the anti-graffiti vigilante. These dedicated blight-warriors stop at nothing to rid their neighborhoods and cities of street art, stickers, tags, and posters. Yet several of these vigilantes have become the very menace they set out to eliminate. In their relentless attempt to stamp out graffiti, they have turned to illegally and destructively painting other people’s property. VIGILANTE VIGILANTE is the story of two filmmakers who set out to expose these mysterious characters and discover a battle of expression that stretches from the streets to academia.

Graffiti Taggers Turn to Trees, With Some Possibly Harmful Effects [NYT.com] – Another disturbing example; where self-expression triumphs all other considerations.

Outside Elixir bar in the Mission district of San Francisco, graffiti taggers have left their mark – not on the wall, but on the living. Every tree on that 16th Street block has been spray-painted in shades of purple, red, white and black. “I can’t imagine why anyone would think that’s O.K.,” said Shea Shawnson, the bar manager. “What do you do to clean up a tree without messing it up?” In a city where graffiti abatement is swift – property owners are fined if graffiti is not immediately removed, and the city spends $20 million on the problem – taggers have discovered a way to ensure that their mark has staying power. Graffiti, taggers believe, is not easily covered or removed from trees without harming them. The vandalism has angered residents, and possibly threatened the health of some trees, which are remarkably rare in San Francisco because very few tree species are indigenous. The tagging also appears to violate one of the tenets of the graffiti subculture: it is supposed to be a reaction to urban life, not an attack on nature.

Street Art As Provocations To Change The World [design mind] – frogdesign documents a couple of powerful street art examples driving towards awareness, and ideally social change.

JR is a photographer and artist that describes himself as a “photograffeur.” He flyposts large black and white photographic images in public locations-in a manner that is similar to the appropriation of the built environment by graffiti artists. The idea is to show the world its true face by pasting photos of human faces across massive canvases. One of his most famous projects is called “face2face.” For this, he worked with Palestinian and Israeli citizens to explore the similarities of their daily lives, rather than focusing on the divisions; he highlighted fundamental human emotions. Israelis and Palestinians doing the same job-such as taxi drivers and teachers-agreed to be photographed crying, laughing, and making faces. Their portraits were then pasted without authorization from the local authorities in eight Israeli and Palestinian cities as well as on two sides of the wall that separate the two countries, demonstrating that art and laughter can challenge stereotypes. He explained his concept, by showing two portraits (one Israeli, one Palestinian) and asked them: who is the Israeli and who is the Palestinian. Most people couldn’t answer him. That’s when they understood that behind their cultural differences, they are very similar, and remain human first and foremost, and human with similar values!

Brian Barneclo painting “Systems Mural Project” [SFGate] – Yet another example of street art crossing over; here with an official authorized sponsored ‘landmark.’

“It will be a new landmark,” Barneclo said, pointing out that the painting near Seventh and Townsend streets will be the first thing commuter train passengers see entering San Francisco and the last thing cars zoom by as they take the Interstate 280 on-ramp from Sixth Street. “There’s nothing else like it.” Using large-scale icons, the piece aims to illustrate the many relationships between man and nature – from the nervous system to the solar system, computer operating systems to the ecosystem. “I’m just intrigued by how the world works,” Barneclo said. “It’s complicated, but I’m trying to boil it down and make a groovy mural.”

ChittahChattah Quickies

Hollandia Produce Launches Squircle Packaging [The Packer] – I was thrilled to come across the term squircle the other day, in the context of this packaging redesign. Of course, Wikipedia has something to say about it and the name has found its way to content and design firms, too.

Hollandia Produce LLC is launching a clamshell redesign – called the Squircle – for its Living Butter Lettuce. The design incorporates features of both a square and a circle, optimizing space and enabling automated packaging systems. On the shipping side, it gives a 20% increase in units per pallet…Consumer and frequent-user focus group studies showed the new design maintains brand recognition while attracting first-time buyers.

Thirteen movie poster trends that are here to stay and what they say about their movies [Oh No They Didn’t!] – Compilations of visually similar, to put it gently, movie posters. In the way that the entertainment industry has created tropes within the content of the film that engage us in actively creating the plot at the same time as are following it, the marketing of film has established its own set of visual memes and cultural cues. Repetition and familiarity establish shorthand, and while we may decry the lack of originality, the predictability seems to work financially. Bonus from All This ChittahChattah years ago: Good ideas never go out of style.

Run For Your Life – Apparently all action heroes run through the same blue-lit, narrow alleyway when trying to escape/catch the bad guys. It’s also possible that graphic designers just re-use the same stock image of the running guy over and over again. The movies themselves are pretty similar to the Black/Orange ones except that all the explosions have been replaced with angst.

Hunk Gets Chunky: Personal Trainer Vows to Get Fat [ABC News] – While at one point in the article this is dismissed as a publicity stunt, the idea of producers experiencing what their consumers experience is compelling. From Black Like Me to Patricia Moore and now Fat Like Me. It seems unlikely that this trainer can replicate the motivational, cognitive, emotional, gustatory and many other issues that affect body image, diet, and exercise, but at least mechanically trying to lose weight as his clients are should be revelatory. I hope he does something with this experience.

The 32-year-old former underwear model has ballooned from about 180 pounds to 233 since last month. He has given himself until the end of March to get to his goal of 265 pounds, a weight he intends to keep for a few months. “A lot of my clients have been skipping classes,” he said of the motivation behind his burgeoning pudge. “I decided I really didn’t understand what they were feeling and their emotions.”

Dinosaur bones an untapped market for luxury set [SF Chronicle] – The recent story about the blinged-out iPad made with crushed dinosaur bones is obviously part of a larger trend towards dino luxe. I really love days when you can’t tell the real news from the fake news.

“Market value comes down to what a person is willing to shell out for a dinosaur,” says the 60-year-old dino dealer, who has been in the business since 1985, selling Jurassic ribs for $350 each, Cretaceous toes at $295 a digit and a 16-foot-long Camarasaurus tail for $20,000. Wall Street recognition will be fast and furious once he can supply the market with dinosaur genitalia, says Prandi…Hollywood stars Nicolas Cage and Leonardo DiCaprio in 2007 entered into a spirited bidding war at I.M. Chait auctioneers in Beverly Hills over who would go home with a 67 million-year-old T. rex skull. Cage’s $276,000 bid won the day. “Whether a Brontosaurus looks good in your salon is a matter of taste, Lajotte-Robaglia says, “but these customers are young wealthy people who grew up mesmerized by Spielberg’s ‘Jurassic Park’ and find the aesthetics of a dinosaur more interesting than a Picasso.” Prandi says confirming a dinosaur’s provenance is just as tricky as verifying the authenticity of a work by the Spanish master. “A lot of people call me up from all over the country and say, ‘I found a dinosaur in my backyard,’ but it turns out to be a rock that looks like a dinosaur,” Prandi says. Even so, the United States remains the world leader in mining luxury dinosaurs.

ChittahChattah Quickies

The Saddest Movie in the World [Smithsonian.com] Describes the rigorous process of choosing clips that will reliably evoke various emotions for clinical research purposes, and how the use of movies to elicit unpleasant emotional responses is considered humane and ethical. It’s incredible that a Ricky Schroder scene from the rather obscure The Champ has been scientifically deemed sadder than, say, Bambi’s Mom dying or Old Yeller. Can’t argue with science! (But I’d bet that the first 5 minutes of Up would beat them all.) Another gem here: the two clips that are proven most effective in generating feelings of disgust – yes, I’m on about disgust again! – are an amputation and… Pink Flamingos!

The story of how a mediocre movie became a good tool for scientists dates back to 1988, when Robert Levenson, a psychology professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and his graduate student, James Gross, started soliciting movie recommendations from colleagues, film critics, video store employees and movie buffs. “Everybody thinks it’s easy,” Levenson says. Levenson and Gross ended up evaluating more than 250 films and film clips. They edited the best ones into segments a few minutes long and selected 78 contenders.

Scientists testing emotions in research subjects have resorted to a variety of techniques, including playing emotional music, exposing volunteers to hydrogen sulfide (“fart spray”) to generate disgust or asking subjects to read a series of depressing statements. They’ve rewarded test subjects with money or cookies to study happiness or made them perform tedious and frustrating tasks to study anger. “In the old days, we used to be able to induce fear by giving people electric shocks,” Levenson says. Ethical concerns now put more constraints on how scientists can elicit negative emotions. Sadness is especially difficult. How do you induce a feeling of loss or failure in the laboratory without resorting to deception or making a test subject feel miserable? “You can’t tell them something horrible has happened to their family, or tell them they have some terrible disease,” says William Frey II, a University of Minnesota neuroscientist who has studied the composition of tears. But as Gross says, “films have this really unusual status.” People willingly pay money to see tearjerkers-and walk out of the theater with no apparent ill effect. As a result, “there’s an ethical exemption” to making someone emotional with a film, Gross says.

To win, deliver relevance

HP recently ran a series of full-page newspaper ads for its TouchPad. The different ads trumpeted different aspects of the product. Here’s one:

This particular ad focuses on the movie-watching benefits. Unfortunately, they ad begins poorly: The all-new HP TouchPad with the HP MovieStore powered by RoxioNow(TM).

The classic tech marketing mistake: brand soup (with a base of presumed relevance). Who is Roxio? Yes, readers of this post probably know, but let’s agree that most people don’t, and those who did haven’t heard of them for 5 years. What the heck is RoxioNow(TM)? We can infer that HP has struck a deal for some ingredient technology. Wonderful. But they shouldn’t presume that adds credibility to their offering. In the same way “HP MovieStore” is not a known brand and isn’t exactly dripping with credibility. At least you can figure based on the name that it’s somewhat like that other Pad company’s SomethingStore.

But it gets worse. Here’s the promise

It’s Hollywood’s recently released big screen movies and current TV episodes on your HP TouchPad. Catch up on something you missed or get hooked on something new.

But in this ad, where they can show whatever they want to highlight the compelling benefits, what movies do they display?

The highlighted films: Knockout, 8 of Diamonds, Being Michael Madsen, 3 Backyards, 30 Years to Life, Baby on Board, Mistaken Identity, and Kalamity.

Okay, anyone? 3 Backyards is a very recently released indie film. IMDB tells me 30 Years to Life is from 2001. Where are the recently released Hollywood big screen movies (note: direct-to-video doesn’t count) that I can get from the HP MovieStore powered by RoxioNow(TM)?

Next time you are sitting in a meeting and someone brings up Apple and wonders how it is they are so darn innovative, remember this example. This is how their competitors behave. This is their advertising – where they actually promise a wonderful experience; what does this portend for the actual delivery of the experience in the product itself?

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] Kraft Dinner mentions must stop, teacher told [CBC News] – [Kraft Dinner is a Canadian-specific brand for packaged macaroni and cheese, known among the pastacenti as KD.] Kick the KD teaches students how to avoid convenience foods and eat healthier. Clapson received a notice from Kraft Canada demanding the name be changed and any references to Kraft Dinner be removed. "We understand that the focus of the cooking program is to encourage students to prepare meals which are healthy and delicious. Please note that Kraft Dinner macaroni and cheese is a nutritious food that can be part of a balanced diet. In addition to being delicious, it is also a source of calcium and iron and a good source of protein." Clapson said he didn't know "KD was trademarked and personally enjoys the occasional bowl of Kraft Dinner." Clapson said he intends to keep running the classes and has taken suggestions for a new name. The most popular one so far has been "Kick the Crap Dinner."
  • [from steve_portigal] ‘Cinema Verite’ review: ‘American Family’ revisited [SF Chronicle] – [Fascinating article on how a recreation bio-pic of the filming of the original reality show reveals shifting cultural contexts and the challenges of authenticity] In 1971, Craig Gilbert and Alan and Susan Raymond, set out to document the lives of an everyday American family. Viewers may have subliminally understood that reality was somewhat altered through editorial choices, but they more or less accepted what was on their TV as life as it actually and naturally happened. But was it? That's the question posed by "Cinema Verite" directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini as they look back at "American Family." Did Gilbert direct the Louds' actions to make his film more dramatic? In "Cinema," Gilbert (James Gandolfini) is shown inserting himself into a scene and telling the family what to do. We also see the Raymonds (Patrick Fugit and Shanna Collins) revolting when Gilbert begins to cross the boundaries of documentary filmmaking, perhaps because he's developed a crush on Pat.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from julienorvaisas] Top 40 Hand Gestures Of Silvio Berlusconi [BuzzFeed] – [A thorough taxonomy; includes "The Mr. Burns" and "The Hey Gurrrrl." Yesterday Wyatt shared a great observation here at the office about how hand gestures, and the ways in which people handle objects can communicate so much about their emotional state and personality. It's something specific to notice in research as a "tell." This collection of Berlusconi's gestural expressions provides ample opportunity to practice your interpretation!] Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is a man of many gesticulations.
  • [from steve_portigal] The Inflatable Crowd Company – [Wonderful niche service with a crystal-clear positioning statement. Another business out there doing something cool, crazy, and curious] We have 30,000 realistic, inflatable torsos that are used to economically expand the scope of any crowd scene at any venue worldwide. We create custom crowds that are dressed and accessorized to match the look of your real extras. It is this texture – real clothes, wigs, etc. – and attention to detail that can make the illusion seamless. We provide all materials from the stock at our warehouse. We are able to create crowds for any type of scene – from a formal theater crowd to fans at large sporting events.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] Marvel faces mighty foe: publishing world uncertainty [New York Times] – ['Prototyping with comics' usually refers to a UX method on smaller scale, but as Marvel grapples with its own massive scope in both comics and film, they have natively derived an analogous method, or at least mindset] Though Marvel’s publishing side does not directly control the content of Marvel films, Kevin Feige, the president of production at Marvel Studios, said the storytelling in the comics had a strong influence on the movies “because it’s a hell of a lot less expensive to take a chance in a comic than it is take a chance in a movie.” Repeating a phrase he said he had heard from Quesada, he added, “It’s the cheapest R&D there is, but the best R&D there is.”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] My Year Without Star Wars [io9] – [Screenwriter/producer reflects on the lessons learned from stepping back from his beloved Star Wars] How many modern blockbusters seem like cargo cult versions of that childhood inspiration? How many times do I have to walk out of a theater thinking "I just paid to see a laundry list of beats that "worked" in Star Wars" before wondering if our collective doorway to archetypal storytelling hasn't become a Trojan Horse? Star Wars may have taught the Hero's Journey to entire generations, but it is our responsibility to use the paradigm and to forge something with its own emotional integrity. All creators imitate, emulate and steal. All maturing artists engage in a dialogue with what came before… but I can't think of a single instance in history when so many of us are so actively engaged in paying homage to a single work of art. Bluntly: we are all cribbing our best moves from the same two-hour movie and it has to stop. There just isn't enough meat on the carcass.

Series

About Steve