Monthly Archives: October 2005

iPods, videos, and U2

Steve Jobs in yesterday’s special event, discussing the white iPods:

“It’s been a huge success for us, and therefore it’s time to replace it.”

The new iPods look great. At first I was disappointed by the $1.99 price for music videos and TV shows, but when you do the math it is only a little more than buying DVDs. And what about the small quality, only 320×240? In the name of science I dropped $2 to test it.

Last week, thanks to eBay, I became the proud owner of 2 tickets to see U2 in Houston at the end of the month. I’ve seen every U2 tour since ZooTV over a decade ago, so I wasn’t about to let little things like “too busy” and “money” stand in the way this time. Our seats are fairly horrible, but the price was right and all that matters is that we are there.

So buying a U2 music video was a natural choice. The download time was reasonable. I clicked it to full-screen on my Cinema Display and sat down 6 feet away. It actually looked good. 30 frames per second doesn’t hurt either. I could definitely watch TV shows this way.

Another interesting tidbit from the Apple event. Disney’s new CEO Bob Iger was introduced quite warmly by Steve Jobs, and Iger even joked that he still hoped an agreement could be reached between Disney and Pixar for continuing distribution of their films. Sounds like that could happen after all.

Wallace and Gromit

Art blogs screenshot What a great film. To prepare I dusted off my old Laserdisc with the three original Wallace and Gromit short films, but the feature equals and surpasses those films in every way. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Aardman Animations fans should also seek out Creating 3d Animation, a combination behind-the-scenes and how-to book out a few years ago with great stuff on model construction and movement. In the age of computer animation it takes some passion to break the mold and work hand-drawn, but even more rare is the artist who wants to follow in Nick Park’s footsteps. It’s great to see the art-form of stop-motion come alive again to hopefully inspire a new set of filmmakers.

Speaking of old school, just today I saw that Hans Bacher has a weblog. I’ll never forget seeing his art from the Mulan book years ago. The man is a master at composition and effortless landscapes.

And like a lot of animators new to blogging, he uses Blogger. If you look at my NetNewsWire subscriptions (right), you’ll see an interesting trend of Blogger and LiveJournal icons. I’m not sure what that means, if anything.

Corpse Bride

Finally I had a chance to see Corpse Bride last night. Caught it at the Alamo Drafthouse, which is the only theater smart enough to show short films and other theme-appropriate clips before shows. Last night they played Vincent (Tim Burton’s stop-motion film before he left Disney), and Devil Went Down to Georgia, among others we probably missed.

Corpse Bride is thoroughly Tim Burton. And while it may not become a classic like The Nightmare Before Christmas, it is still an enjoyable film and contains some really great moments. Interestingly the Corpse Bride herself probably has the most depth of any of the characters.

Next up to see is Wallace and Gromit, which was number one at the box office this weekend. I bet the execs in Hollywood are wondering how there could be two back-to-back stop-motion successes when everyone else “knows” computer animation is the future. (Yawn.) In related news, the Aardman Animations studio appears to have burned down! Tragic. Not sure what the extent of damage really was yet, but it doesn’t sound good. Update: BBC has the story now.

Hurricane Rita

Blue sky clouds They warned of 70mph winds, massive flooding, and loss of power, but in the last days before landfall Hurricane Rita shifted north and Austin didn’t receive even a drop of rain. The organizers of Austin City Limits Music Festival were so proud of themselves for waiting to cancel the weekend concert series, but the evacuees were less pleased — stuck in Austin at shelters because the hotels were booked for an ACL in limbo.

Meanwhile, people panic and grocery store shelves are almost out of canned food and bottled water. The less than 3-hour trip from Houston becomes a long full day of gas shortages and frustrated evacuees.

Cars are not an efficient way to transport large numbers of people, but the rail and public transportation infrastructure in this oil state is pathetic. Nightline’s Ted Koppel asked the obvious question to someone from Homeland Security, but they acted as if they didn’t even understand there was a problem. If you can’t get out of a major city with a week’s notice, how can you get out in a real emergency?