A scientist tries to solve world hunger only to see things go awry as food falls from the sky in abundance.
Genres: Kids/Family, Animation and Adaptation
Release Date: September 18th, 2009 (wide)
Distributors: Columbia Pictures
Starring: Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Andy Samberg, Bruce Campbell
Directed by: Christopher Miller, Phil Lord
Produced by: Pam Marsden
Monday, March 30, 2009
A scientist tries to solve world hunger only to see things go awry as food falls from the sky in abundance.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Everybody see the Planet 51 Trailer?
It’s pretty funny. I saw it with Witch Mountain last week.
Planet 51 IMDB page:
New directors, but the writer contributed to Shrek 1 & 2 (the good ones).
Done by Sony, so that’s Chubbchubbs, Monster House, Open Season, Surf’s Up, Beowulf, and the coming Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. (But all those were done in-house; this is a new animation studio and Sony picked up this film from them.)
Sony has yet to get their first 3D hit movie (Polar Express was a hit, but it was WB even though Sony animated it), but Chubbchubbs won the Academy Award for animated short and Surf’s Up and Monster House were nominated for best animated film. So I guess they’re remaining confident (even though they haven’t hit yet) and are trying new things with aliens (P51) and a children’s book (Chance of Meatballs).
Planet 51 (2009)
Captain Charles "Chuck" Baker must navigate his way through the dazzling, but bewildering, landscape of 'Planet 51' in order to escape becoming a permanent part of the 'Planet 51' Alien Invaders Space Museum.
Javier Abad (co-director)
Joe Stillman (writer)
20 November 2009 (USA)
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
So, we've been feeling a little too "normal" lately, and we wanted to be a little more bizarre.
So here are the actual lyrics to the first verse (and two choruses) of Vanilla Ice's hit song from almost 20 years ago, set to a beat with dancing 3D animated Lego characters wearing... underpants and a nurse outfit. And to top it off, there are also some weird sounds.
This was animated using the easy software, "xtranormal." It's good, but if you want real 3D software, pick up Blender. (It's very difficult to learn though.)
Monday, March 16, 2009
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Nintendo is in the unique position that it must produce a new hardware product every three years or so (including home systems and portable systems). As a result, some of its ventures have been more successful than others. Let’s take a look at some successful products and some less successful products to see how they did when attempting to overcome the new risks and challenges with each product.
Although it seems that videogame hardware would be fairly straightforward, as new technology progresses, the opportunities progress as well. Nintendo must take advantage of the latest technology, ideas, and innovations or else their competition will take advantage of them and have more success.
The first product we’ll take an in-depth look at is the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) from 1985. That was Nintendo’s first big console success (they’ve had a few successful arcade ventures before that). Atari had died down and the videogame industry was thought to be dead. Nintendo sought to do what Atari was doing previously, but they wanted to take it to the next level with arcade-like graphics (they do not compare to the graphics today’s games, but they were cutting edge for their time), scrolling environments (this was a new innovation at its time), games with many items and power-ups (also an innovation), a new innovative controller (they invented the cross pad for this system), innovative supporting peripherals (like the Zapper and Power Pad), and a large library that covered all the genres.
Along with a stellar advertising campaign that made the games look cool, Nintendo was able to overcome the high risks and investments to produce an innovative system and get people excited about games once again. One of the biggest opportunities that they took advantage of was covering all the genres. Because they had all the sports games, athletic types started playing videogames. The puzzles attracted the parents. The arcade games attracted their existing audience. And the new trailblazers like Mario, Zelda, and Metroid built new audiences. They had to truly look at their broad portfolio to make the biggest impact.
The NES succeeded because of graphics, game mechanics, controller innovation (the cross pad), supporting peripheral devices (including the Zapper), and a large library that covered all the genres and appealed to all audiences. Their next home console, the Super NES, also was the most successful console of its generation, and it succeeded because of having the best graphics (including innovations with 3-D scrolling techniques, the first 3-D polygon games, and 3-D rendered side-view games), game mechanics, controller innovation (the shoulder buttons), supporting peripheral devices, and a huge library (with new genres like Pilotwings).
Next, Nintendo made a few critical mistakes. They abandoned a console they paid Sony to make, which used a CD-based system. They foresaw the troubles of CD-burning piracy and wanted to stick with cartridges for the Nintendo 64. They also continued to ignore online gaming because they didn’t see how it would profit the company. As a result, Sony released the technology themselves in the form of PlayStation, and they took over the industry. The CD technology was preferred by game companies (in addition to PlayStation’s better graphics), and PlayStation ended up with the larger, well-rounded library. For the first time, Nintendo didn’t adopt the latest and greatest technology. Despite that huge bump, Nintendo fought hard and secured a solid second place due to game updates to 3-D (most were masterfully done), controller innovation (analogue control stick and rumble feedback), and a large library of fun games (including games that opened new genres like Goldeneye and Smash Brothers).
However, in the next round Nintendo slipped even further. The new console Xbox came on the screen and Nintendo’s GameCube slid just under the Xbox in sales, making it the #3 system. Nintendo finally upgraded to a disc technology and more competitive graphics, but they didn’t have the game library that turned heads (most of their sequels were seen as inferior to previous versions), they still didn’t invest in online features, and they didn’t get as much support from other game companies, which made their game library even more lacking. Despite these issues, they still performed well enough and included controller innovations (analogue buttons and radio-controlled remote controllers).
Meanwhile, after the NES was released, Nintendo also released the first portable system in 1989 (Game Boy) and created a new product industry. Nintendo never had the best graphics, but they managed to stay on top of the portable industry every time since, including releases of the Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, and Nintendo DS. This was mostly due to having a huge library (where they keep re-releasing previous games), the most innovative games, and the lowest-cost system. Also, with the Nintendo DS, they took it to higher levels with hardware innovations (using two screens and an optional stylus) and new genres (brain training and virtual pets).
The next example is Nintendo’s least-successful product, Virtual Boy. Nintendo took a huge risk by releasing a product that utilized new technology to create a unique 3-D experience. The Virtual Boy was a mask-like viewer that you put up against your eyes to see a virtual, 3-D world. It might have started out like a great, innovative idea, but technology, costs, and usability issues took over as they developed it. First and most importantly, they couldn’t get enough memory and power into the unit to support multiple colors and to get the graphics competitive with the 3-D graphics on home consoles at the time. That meant that they were left with red and black graphics that weren’t visually impressive. Second, they didn’t have a solution for how to make it truly portable, so it was released as a portable system, but you still had to stand it up on a table when you used it, thus limiting your experience to using it with a table and chair combination that was the correct height, and thus making it not portable. As a result of these two issues, there weren’t enough third party games released for the system, and so the system didn’t have the library of titles that the successful Nintendo systems have had.
The Virtual Boy was doomed from the start, before it launched. It seemed to be a case where it was a product that seemed like a great, innovative idea when it was first conceived, but the technology, costs, and usability issues limited the value too heavily. Nintendo was moving forward because it was a great use of new technology, but they didn’t stop before launching the product. They should have researched and re-evaluated the product before launching it, to make sure the product they made was valuable to the consumer and not the product they originally imagined (because they didn’t end up making the product that they originally imagined).
The final example is Nintendo’s latest and arguably greatest success, the Nintendo Wii. After releasing their least successful home console, Nintendo GameCube, Nintendo went back to the drawing board and took a look at what made them innovative with their previous systems. What they ended up with is still astounding. As with their previous successes, the Nintendo Wii included controller innovation (motion controllers that you can move to control the games; this opened up new audiences and made everybody a potential gamer), supporting peripheral innovation (Nunchucks for two hands, Zapper, Wheel, and Wii Balance Board), updates to the popular franchises, and a large library that opened up new genres for non-gamers (Mii custom avatar characters, casual sports and games, brain training, casual music-playing, and physical fitness). They also rolled out a marketing plan that marketed the devices to families, parents, and grandparents, people who normally don’t play games. As a result, the sales broke every type of record even though most of the games are purposefully simplified in graphics.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
In 2009, DreamWorks only has one movie…
Monsters vs. Aliens (3/27/09)
To compete with 3 from Disney (& Pixar) in 2009:
A Christmas Carol (11/6/09)
The Princess and the Frog (12/25/09)
And one from Fox:
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (7/1/09)
And two from Sony:
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (9/18/09)
Planet 51 (11/20/09)
In 2010, DW currently has 3 movies:
1. How to Train Your Dragon (3/26/10)
2. Shrek Goes Fourth (5/21/10)
3. Master Mind (11/15/10)
To compete with 2 from Disney (& Pixar) in 2010:
Toy Story 3 (6/18/10)
Rapunzel (Holiday 2010)
And one from Sony:
In 2011, DW currently has 2 movies:
Crood Awakening (2011)
Kung Fu Panda Sequel (6/3/11)
To compete with 2 from Disney (& Pixar):
Cars 2 (6/24/11)
The Bear and the Bow (Holiday 2011)
Only Disney is already thinking of 2012…
King of the Elves (Spring 2012)
newt (Summer 2012)
Sunday, March 08, 2009
Filmmakers would often set out to make an animated film for a specific audience, not realizing that the audience they need to appeal to is mothers and women. The reason is that boys aren't making the decisions to see the films. The moms are making the decision, and if the mom doesn't want to see the film or she also has a daughter who doesn't want to see the film, then she'll tell her son to go watch cartoons and to wait for DVD to see the film. (This is supported with data that shows how popular action cartoons are on TV but not in the theaters.)
For example, Final Fantasy, Sinbad, Treasure Planet, Quest for Camelot, The Iron Giant, Osmosis Jones, The Road to El Dorado, and Star Wars: Clone Wars were all animated action films that failed to find success. What all those films had in common is that they didn't appeal to women.
However, Pixar has the idea right. They can do any topic they want, including toys, monsters, bugs, super heroes, rats, and robots. These topics don't sound like they'd appeal to women, but they make sure the heart of the stories do.
Saturday, March 07, 2009
Thursday, March 05, 2009
Pixar was originally an unsuccessful company, but it had a secret weapon. Not many people know that the owner of Pixar (the 3D animation studio behind Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and more) was actually Steve Jobs (the founder of Apple). It does not make a lot of sense why Jobs was the owner until you dig into the origin of the company. Pixar started out of George Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic as the company that created and owned the hardware and software used for effects. The first animator, John Lassetter, was hired secretly as an interface designer (to hide his true role from George Lucas).
In 1986, Lucas needed to sell Pixar to pay for an expensive divorce, and Steve Jobs bought the company as a hardware and software company. He intended to turn the hardware and software into a sales machine. However, he was never able to get that business going; the demand did not exist. Meanwhile, the company had a lot of success with animated shorts, which led to a movie project (Toy Story). Jobs was about to sell the company to Microsoft when he saw the early tests for Toy Story. He then fought hard to come up with the money to keep the Pixar and continue the Toy Story project. He came up with the money by licensing hardware and software patents to Microsoft and by selling Pixar’s services to make TV commercials (Listerine bottles, Hershey kisses, and dancing Life Savers).
Pixar attempted to build a new industry by releasing software and hardware for the effects and animation industries. However, the companies had their own internal software and hardware, they didn’t see the value of digital effects as early as Lucas and Jobs did, and eventually, similar software was developed for lower costs to be used on a common PC. Although Jobs’ mistake turned out to make him one of the richest men in the world (he sold Pixar to Disney in 2006 for $7.4 billion), he didn’t research the market needs and demand before investing in the market.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
We’re constantly inventing new vehicles to publically transfer information and entertainment, yet the old vehicles remain as a value. Sure, they become less popular and the industries shrink down in size, but they stop shrinking and remain at a sustainable level as new vehicles continue to be created and formed.
For example, here are some of those vehicles used to publically transfer information and entertainment we’ve had in the past that still exist today:
• Theatrical Plays/Musicals
• Theatrical Films
• Albums (CD, Record, 8-track, etc.)
• Arcade Games
• Home Videogames
• Home Videos (VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, Betamax)
• Web Sites (text, images, videos, etc.)
I mostly find it interesting because there are people out there who do use all of these “vehicles” still, even though they all overlap now.
Those are technologies/inventions created by people to solve the problem of communication. The point is that new ones are added, but the old ones don’t go away. In other words, newspapers might cut back, but they won’t go away altogether. The industry has evolved into getting more money from ads than subscriptions (they practically give away the papers now).
I believe touch computing could harness a few of these vehicles and help blur the lines of communicating information by teaming with existing technology to transfer written, audio, and video-based information.
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