There are a lot of computer animated films out this year. It was inevitable, with Disney shutting down its 2d division a few years ago and all of Hollywood getting on the 3d bandwagon. Some will be successes, some failures — just like their live-action counterparts — and that’s fine.
I’ve seen Cars twice now. Perhaps it’s because a certain 2-year-old I know says “zooma!” more than any word in his limited vocabulary, but this little Pixar film is really growing on me.
Meanwhile, it looks like “2d is officially back at Disney”:http://www.laughingplace.com/News-ID510530.asp. Can’t wait.
I couldn’t let the 5th anniversary of September 11th pass without saying something. On Friday the Senate intelligence committee released a report showing that there was no link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11. That isn’t news. What is news is the details: that Saddam actually distrusted Al Qaeda and tried to capture Zarqawi. The simple truth is that terrorist organizations are a threat to any government, even ones we have disagreements with.
If that doesn’t make you sick, here’s another one that I haven’t heard mentioned yet. Sometime next year the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq will surpass the civilian deaths on September 11th. (September 11th = 2973, Iraq as of today = 2661)
The level of incompetence in our President, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and their advisors reaches new heights. What can we do? Five years ago we were uneducated and scared, and even two years later we could easily be led by fear alone. Now, just stay angry. Change starts in November.
My third podcast is about San Francisco. Download it here or subscribe to the podcast feed in iTunes.
» Download (MP3, 16.8MB)
» Audio-only RSS feed (drag to iTunes)
I had a lot of fun putting this together, recording sounds in and around San Francisco. I used my MiniDisc RH-910 and Audio-Technica AT822 microphone. Turns out the MiniDisc was a pretty bad investment, though. It has been a real hassle to use, and I am eyeing the new Edirol R-09 as a replacement.
Go buy the music used in this podcast from Magnatune: Cargo Cult, Phoebe Carrai, and Arthur Yoria. They are building a great modern label that embraces what the internet is about instead of fighting it.
Also special thanks to the Marin County Free Library for permission to use a portion of the Arthur Giddings interview. Check out their site on the 1906 earthquake.
Other resources: Point Reyes, San Francisco Police 9-1-1 Tapes, 19th-Century California Sheet Music, WWDC 2006 Keynote.
Update: How could I leave out a link to Sketchcrawl.com? Also: Eadweard Muybridge, Enrico Casarosa, and Dorothea Lange.
I received two great surprises this week. In the mail came the 9th issue of “Animation Blast”:http://www.animationblast.com/, Amid Amidi’s magazine on the art and history of animation artists. This started as a smaller quarterly magazine, but the latest issue has grown to over 100 pages. It’s an extremely high quality, ad-free book. I think I placed an order for Animation Blast #9 over 3 years ago, and it was continually delayed due to Amid’s other responsibilities. No worries, though, because the book is beautiful.
The other related surprise was a new episode of the “Animation Podcast”:http://www.animationpodcast.com/. The last one was over 2 months ago, but again, the quality is so high and the information so valuable that it makes my day when a new one drops into iTunes. The 17 episodes so far, if taken together, represent a huge wealth of animation history, rivaling most DVDs and books in my collection. They are probably the only podcasts I subscribe to that I would archive to audio CDs to make sure I always have access to them.
Copyright law is a major thorn in the side of creativity. Of course I knew this, and supported the work that “Lawrence Lessig”:http://www.lessig.org/blog/ was doing including the “Eldred case”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eldred_v.Ashcroft, but it wasn’t until I actually needed to _use copyrighted material that I realized just how horribly broken the law is. Several nights this week I’ve spent hours reading about copyright and making sure I have my ducks in a row, and the results are very depressing. Especially bad is that even very old works are automatically renewed. Some of the stuff I might want to use is impossible to find to begin with, so locking it under copyright with no revenue stream going anywhere is a huge disservice to society.
That’s not to say I don’t appreciate that we need protection for our creative works — of course we do — but the retroactive nature of some of the recent copyright extensions means that content is unreachable even long after it has been left to gather dust in the internet byte bin.
Anyway, hopefully this concludes my short series of rants, started last week about the void of good digitized archives of historical documents. This all comes from a podcast or two I am working on. The good news is that today I received permission from a web site to use a small portion of their audio, giving me new hope that given a chance people will usually act sensibly. I am still maneuvering through what is acceptable “fair use” for other sources, but I think I am generally making reasonably defendable decisions.
Unfortunately I made a big mistake in my first podcast, using commercial music. At the time I didn’t think much of it, because I was experimenting, but as I start to podcast more I plan to go back and remix the old show with licensed music. “Magnatune”:http://www.magnatune.com/ has done a very smart thing here, allowing use of their music for non-commercial podcasts. I use three tracks from Magnatune on my next podcast to be posted this Friday.
Wrapping this up, I should point out that this weblog has always been licensed under the “Creative Commons Attribute License”:http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/1.0. This includes any text, images, or audio I might post, except of course those I include or link to that were not created by me. The license is extremely liberal, allowing pretty much unlimited use as long as I am credited, even for commercial purposes. Enjoy!
When we use Google everyday and mostly work with technology and related topics that are well indexed, it’s easy to forget the truth: the web is horribly incomplete. I’ve been doing some research for an upcoming podcast and it’s very frustrating to encounter huge gaping voids in the internet where history, audio recordings, and photographs should be. Somewhere out there is an audio cassette tape recording that I’d like to hear, but it will probably gather dust in an attic for the next decade instead. It needs to be even easier for anyone to put everything they have online so that it can be preserved and shared. Already I think the current generation raised on instant messaging and the web may not realize that there’s a whole world out there that is outside the reach of our keyboards. At least I know I sometimes forget.
The other part of the problem is linkrot. And not just 404s, but old links to obsolete file formats that can no longer be accessed. I can’t even count how many links to .ram files I’ve clicked that result in an error. When your content requires a special server (RealAudio streaming server software, in this case), it’s only a matter of time before that content itself will die.
Now, the good news is that a simple MP3 file and static HTML file with JPEG images will be around forever. It requires no special server software, no dynamic processing of any kind, and client software is so widespread and open that it’s a guarantee you can access it 10 years later. The only missing piece of the puzzle is reliable non-expiring domain registration and hosting.
The bad news is the rise of centralized web applications and data stores. What happens when YouTube shuts down? Remember they burn through huge amounts of cash for bandwidth each month and seem to have few options for becoming profitable. I feel better about Flickr, because they get it, but “Yahoo! has been known”:http://www.manton.org/2002/07/yahoo_mail.html to not treat data longevity seriously.