Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Thursday, November 15, 2021

Sword-and-sorcery geeks throughout the land are surely agog over tomorrow’s theatrical release of Beowulf.

From my first glimpse of the trailers, I got the same cold feeling that Manohla Dargis experienced:

To be honest, I don’t yet see the point of performance capture, particularly given how ugly it renders realistic-looking human forms. Although the human faces and especially the eyes in “Beowulf” look somewhat less creepy than they did in “The Polar Express,” Mr. Zemeckis’s first experiment with performance capture, they still have neither the spark of true life nor that of an artist’s unfettered imagination. The face of Mr. Hopkins’s king resembles the actor’s in broad outline, in the shape and curve of his physiognomy. But it has none of the minute trembling and shuddering that define and enliven — actually animate — the discrete spaces separating the nose, eyes and mouth. You see the cladding but not the soul.

In other words, it’s the plastic skin problem that’s plaguing otherwise progressively-robust videogames. In fact, Beowulf strikes me as more of a videogame-to-movie port than a literary adaptation, despite the source material.

But more broadly, the rendering techniques to make the film come alive has caused a crisis among more conventional animators, even challenging the perception of what constitutes an “animated” film:

Just don’t try telling [Ray] Winstone, who plays the title character, that somebody changed his acting. “To me, I can’t see where performances were changed,” he said. “We all played our parts.”

Winstone is credited on IMDB as the “voice” of Beowulf.

“No, I beg to differ. No way. That’s a performance,” he said. “It wasn’t just voice, believe me. I broke two ribs doing this film. Probably the most physical job I’ve ever done in my life on a film.”

This is all probably bridgework until all actors are replaced by wholly-generated avatars, playing out stories against digital backdrops. At least the writers will be safe…

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 11/15/2007 11:36:24 PM
Category: Movies, Tech, Videogames
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Last year, I offered up an alternative to the free-land schemes designed to combat the depopulation problem in northwestern North Dakota:

If people want to vacate, let them. And I can think of a replacement tenant far more reliable than burned-out urbanites from Colorado: The local Indian tribes… I propose reverting all that emptied-out land back to the Native American tribes that used to live off it. Why not? If the inheritors of Manifest Destiny don’t want the spoils, then give it back to the original inhabitants. They can expand reservations, economically stimulate the land into casino/tourism developments, etc.

North Dakota isn’t the only Western state trying to lure new residents by giving away acreage: Rural Kansas has experienced some success with its program, although some think there’ll be no lasting impact on the general downward demographic trends.

Similar to my thinking, those same naysayers have a solution that eliminates people altogether:

At the other end of the spectrum, a “Planning” article written two decades ago suggested that parts of the Great Plains should be allowed to return to their original economic and ecological systems — think buffalo and native grasses — and the idea still attracts supporters…

Why not have Nature liberate the land? Like I said before, the humans had their chance to make something of the God-forsaken terrain. If centuries of settlement by tribes and pioneers couldn’t make a go of it, then let the plants and animals move back in.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 11/15/2007 10:58:12 PM
Category: Society
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Unwittingly, today I wound up wearing a tie that happened to be an exact color match with my boxer shorts: Both deep purple.

That’s a first for me.

I made the observation myself, versus having someone else point it out to me. That’s both lucky and unlucky, depending on how you consider it.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 11/15/2007 10:24:44 PM
Category: Fashion
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