China builds high-tech cinema on disputed island with 1,100 residents

China builds high-tech cinema on disputed island with 1,100 residents

According to the official Xinhua news agency, the Sansha Yinlong Cinema, replete with 4K projectors and more than 200 seats, is the country’s southernmost theater, located on Woody Island — which China calls Yongxing Island — in the Paracel Islands chain. In May, the Philippines announced it was following China’s lead and militarizing its own territories in the Spratly chain, sending troops and supplies to Pagasa Island, with future plans to build an airstrip and improve civilian infrastructure. “I believe the Chinese are building up combat power and positional advantage in an attempt to assert de facto sovereignty over disputed maritime features and spaces in the South China,” Harris added. China called the action “a serious political and military provocation” and warned the US against “(stirring) up trouble” in the region. Beijing is engaged in a series of territorial disputes in the South China Sea, parts or all of which is claimed by China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and the Philippines. In 2012, China created the city of Sansha, based on Woody Island, to administer all its claimed territory in the region, including the Spratly Islands, Paracels, Macclesfield Bank and the Scarborough Shoal. Since then, Beijing has moved to encourage tourism and development in the South China Sea to help press its claim that the territories are unequivocally Chinese. Cruises regularly leave Hainan for the South China Sea islands, where Chinese tourists engage in ceremonial activities like raising the country’s flag and singing the national anthem.

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Tesla’s Model 3 and Apple’s iPhone have a few things in common

Tesla’s Model 3 and Apple’s iPhone have a few things in common

The question of whether, and to what extent, cars are like phones has been gently bubbling along over the past few years as we’ve watched the nexus of innovation shifting from the technology we carry in our pocket to that which carries us along the roads. One touchscreen, all your information and interactions on it. You’ll be adjusting everything, right down to the wing mirrors, via that display, though Tesla retains a couple of basic physical controls on the steering wheel just as Apple did with the iPhone’s home button. It’s alien to us as a car interior, just as it was once alien as a phone interface – how do you speed-dial anyone without buttons – but Tesla is betting that we’ll adapt to it over time just as we did with phones. It may seem perverse to allege that the iPhone, which has always been presented and perceived as a luxe phone purchase, has been a democratizing device. But if you think of it as lowering the price of an Apple computer from the MacBook’s four figures down to three, then it has indeed widened access to the latest technology. That’s the position of the Tesla Model 3 today: it’s not the cheapest or most practical car you can purchase, but it brings Tesla’s advanced technologies like Autopilot down to their lowest price. This isn’t solely a Model 3 feature, but Tesla has pioneered over-the-air (OTA) updates to its cars much in the same way that Apple made OTAs a feature of iPhone ownership. If you want to see a company doing its utmost to reduce the complexities of a car down to a familiar phone-like interface, you need look no further than Tesla and its new Model 3. This is the most affordable electric car in Tesla’s stable and it has the most aggressively stripped-down interior – from any manufacturer. What is novel about the Model 3 is that it streamlines the software even further by limiting itself to the one screen. Outside of fantastical concepts, this is the closest that a car’s interface has gotten to the single-screen software environment we know from PCs and their mobile counterparts. Imagine how much easier iterating on the Model 3’s user interface will be: software designers will only have to code for one screen instead of the usual multiplicity of screens and physical controls inside cars. Simplification isn’t easy, and Tesla is setting itself a non-trivial challenge in trying to create software equivalents for all the various buttons and dials scattered across a typical car’s interior. There’s a 15-inch touchscreen in the middle of the dash and a couple of buttons on the steering wheel and that’s it. Given how Apple’s iPhone was the phone that made this “one touchscreen to rule them all” interface paradigm familiar in the first place, I thought it’d be fitting to look at the similarities between the iPhone and this new Model 3, as a proxy for answering how similar cars and phones have become. Even with its so far limited sales, Tesla has grown to be a byword for electric vehicles as a whole, much in the same way as the iPhone has been for the smartphone category. The company needs to have the faith of its customers as it works to fulfill orders (and overcome any unforeseen stumbles that may arise) and that’s where a charismatic leader can be very helpful. Before Tesla is able to deliver actual cars to people, all it can sell them is a vision, and the 325,000 initial preorders for the Model 3 have shown that Musk is as capable of doing that as Apple’s Jobs was. At first, exactly as with the iPhone, the Model 3 is only resetting the interface paradigm by dispatching the buttons in favor of a streamlined touch UI. What we see today is the foundation for what Musk and his team at Tesla want to achieve: the future they envision is one where you wouldn’t worry about being distracted from driving because you wouldn’t have to drive. And when you do choose to put your hands on the wheel, voice controls and automated settings would keep the need for visual distractions to a minimum. All those are things that Tesla would look to develop over the longer history of the Model 3, much as Apple’s most transformative changes – the App Store and the iSight camera – came in the years after the initial iPhone launch. It’s certainly too early to know if Tesla will succeed, but if it does, it will be because of the Model 3. Like the iPhone before it, this car breaks with most of the conventions of its category and opts for a distinctly technological approach to a product that has until now been mostly defined by its mechanical qualities. Before the iPhone, phones had as strong an affinity to physical keyboards as laptops still do. The first Android prototypes basically looked like BlackBerrys, and the most advanced smartphones from Nokia (like the 9500 Communicator above) were awkward attempts at marrying the familiar with the new.

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Megan Ellison’s Big Hollywood Gamble: a Movie Studio for Grown-Ups

?Detroit? is the first film both produced and distributed by Annapurna Pictures. Hollywood?s newest studio doesn?t operate out of a majestic multiacre lot or a sleek office tower but an unmarked former art gallery whose lobby is decorated with thousands of VHS tapes arranged in a giant ?A.? Megan Ellison?s Annapurna Pictures has a distinct vibe that isn?t imposing like Twentieth Century Fox or Universal Pictures, nor high-tech like Netflix Inc. or Amazon.com Inc. Like its social media savvy millennial founder, Annapurna projects an image that is retro, artistic and bespoke, even as it is investing…

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On a disputed South China Sea island, Beijing unveils a high-tech cinema

On a disputed South China Sea island, Beijing unveils a high-tech cinema

Over 200 Chinese moviegoers attended a screening on Yongxing Island in the South China Sea on Saturday, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency. Beijing has dismissed international condemnation and instead worked to build up its presence on the tiny and often isolated islands it claims in the South China Sea. In 2012, China set up a prefecture-level city named Sansha on Woody Island, soon unveiling structures such as a school and a hospital and even setting up a 4G mobile signal network. Xinhua reports that the city “also has a stadium and has organized various cultural activities to enrich the lives of residents.” Gu Xiaojing, general manager of Hainan Media Group, told Xinhua that there will be “at least one film” screened every day, so that “residents and soldiers on Yongxing Island can enjoy films simultaneously with moviegoers across the country.” The plan is to screen blockbusters, and local authorities have also purchased mobile projection units that can be taken to other islands held by China in the area. It is a documentary about the life of a Chinese Communist Party politician who is said to have worked hard and honestly before his death in the 1960s and is now held up as a hero in state-sanctioned history, though critics say the reality of Jiao’s life is not clear. These islands are in a part of the South China Sea claimed simultaneously by China, Vietnam and Taiwan – part of a broader set of geopolitical disputes in the sea that also involve many Southeast Asian nations. China has long claimed much of the islands, reefs and atolls in this sea, pointing toward a historical claim known as the “nine-dash line.” The United States has challenged China’s sovereignty in the area and has sailed Navy destroyers through the contested waters as recently as early July.

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Work Hard, Play Hard! The 10 Best Cities to Launch a Career

“Technology has really helped boost job growth into some of these smaller metros,” says�Chris Porter, chief demographer for John Burns Real Estate Consulting. “These local economies are constantly evolving and are seriously attractive?especially since the cost of living is so much lower.” And Fort Collins offers some of the best that Colorado has to offer?the mountains, the gigs, the craft beer, the emerging legal marijuana scene?without the mile-high costs of Denver, just�over an�hour away. There are a myriad varied career�opportunities in this�city, from high-tech companies like Intel and Hewlett-Packard to a slew of local breweries and a major Anheuser-Busch facility. The local Colorado State University is increasingly acting as an innovation driver: Its CSU Ventures is helping spur growth in the biotech, energy, and natural resources industries. All that has driven down unemployment from 5.5% in the first quarter of 2014 to just 2.9% in the first quarter of 2017. “There are enormous numbers of small, high-tech companies ideal for people who really want to make a difference and have a creative lifestyle,” says Mary�Atchison, chief operating officer of the Northern Colorado Economic Alliance. “It’s just a great place for young professionals who want a laid-back lifestyle.” Charlotte’s metro area boasts the nation’s second highest�concentration of financial institutions (New York is No. 1), and nearly 40 colleges and universities. Job growth:�We measured�declines in the unemployment rate in the first quarter of 2014 to the first quarter of 2017, according to the U.S. Big-name brands like�Bank of America, Lowe?s, and Duke Energy are just a few of the Fortune 500 companies in the area. Charlotte has 37 miles of greenway trails and is a NASCAR hub. Many of the new millennial residents are becoming homeowners, thanks to the significantly cheaper�prices and lower cost of living in Charlotte compared to the nearby coastal cities.�Here, buyers on a budget can find a cute, two-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath house on a cul-de-sac for under $200,000. “People are able to earn and buy” homes in the metro, says Zach Brandon, president of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce. ?Here, you end up with disposable income. The median home price in the metro is less than a third of what it would cost in the way-more-established tech hub San Francisco (where it’s a heart-attack-inducing $907,400). The view of the 14,115-foot Pikes Peak and the Rocky Mountains from downtown Colorado Springs is reason enough to head to this metro area. Business growth:�Number of new businesses versus the number of businesses that closed in 2014, according to�the most recent U.S. “The Springs,” as locals call the city, has long been a military and defense center with Army and Air Force bases, the Air Force Academy, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), and others. There are more than 150 parks and 260 miles of trails where you’re likely to see some�Olympians strutting their stuff. Olympic Committee and one of the Olympic Training Centers are based there. If y?all want a place with affordable housing, better-than-average salaries, and plenty of cultural diversity, head to Dallas. So it’s no surprise that the region has one of the nation?s highest concentrations of corporate headquarters in the United States,�including AT&T, Texas Instruments, and Dean Foods. And generally speaking, Dallas is king of the job creation hill, adding jobs faster than any of the nation?s other 15 largest metro areas. High salaries:�Median salaries of the top 25% of earners of all occupations, using U.S. They’re a good mixture of millennials and mid-career buyers,? says Dallas-based real estate agent�Katie Tijerina of Rogers Healy and Associates. “And they’re always moving for�work.” Many of her clients hail from more expensive parts of the country, like California and the Northeast, and are thrilled with the lower real estate prices. When her clients aren’t busy climbing the corporate ladder, they can enjoy the area’s endless arts and sports attractions (go Mavs!). The quirky capital of Texas embraces its “Keep Austin Weird” moniker, while still being a hub for the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. The city is also home to the University of Texas’ flagship campus, which helps fuel its entrepreneurial spirit. This place is famous for its hundreds of live music venues, with an eclectic local scene of rock, blues, and country, and for its Austin City Limits and South by Southwest festivals. And there are still plenty of opportunities to buy, such as in new developments like Whisper Valley . The community, located just outside of Austin, is touted as the largest “net-zero” housing development in the nation, designed to send as much energy back to the power grid as residents use. Not to be confused with the other Fayettevilles around the South, the third largest city in Arkansas is nestled in the Ozarks, bordering the Boston Mountains. “It’s a very�affordable area with a lot of opportunity,”�says local career coach Patti Latta. “You can find employment in northwest Arkansas if you want to work.” Durham, in North Carolina’s Research Triangle, has undergone an economic and cultural revitalization in recent years, with a downtown renaissance and redevelopment of the area?s former tobacco districts. They?ll be in good company, with plenty of other driven millennials?with more than 100,000 residents of ages 18 to 34 living in the area. Kansas City?s core is undergoing a massive revitalization, with new residential, business, and entertainment options bringing an influx of new residents, jobs, and more entrepreneurs. You know of Kansas City?s jazz heritage and barbecue (mmm … burnt ends), but here’s something that might not be on your radar: It�was also one of the first areas to receive the lightning-fast, 1-gigabit Google Fiber network. But as in much of the rest of the country, “The market is growing crazy fast.” A surging technology sector and thriving creative class produce jobs in graphic design, marketing, and in fields such as accounting (hey, somebody needs to pay the bills). “You can live here, and you can afford a home,” says Courtney Ross, chief economic development officer for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, pointing out that many residents also have disposable income, because they are likely to have netted a great job.

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Pac-12 Media Days: Graham raves about new coaches, experienced Sun Devils and high tech facility

Pac-12 Media Days: Graham raves about new coaches, experienced Sun Devils and high tech facility

We have a lot of experience on both sides of the football, so the whole key for us is getting back to playing discipline hardcore football. I like that,” Graham said. “I think they’re a veteran bunch and I like the maturity of our team.” When a reporter asked Graham how badly he missed Sam last season, he turned straight to his new facility to speak on injury recovery and prevention. With a nutritional shake bar, underwater treadmill, barber shop, strategical rooms for each position and a team wide movie theater-like team meeting room, Graham believes his new facility may be the nation’s best. “I have looked all over the country and I believe there is not one that is better than our facility for teaching and training and innovation as far as the technology.” Going into his sixth year at the helm of Sun Devil football, Graham seems to be the most constant figure in the program. “Probably the most important thing I did was hire the coaches that work with our players and the personnel,” Graham said. They’re all great teachers as well,” Graham said. “We gotta get back to running the ball and playing with speed, physicality and to finish every play with passion. So that’s what you see with guys like Rob Sale and Slater and Bennett and Rob Likens.”

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Four North Shore artists to show at the Ogden for Louisiana Contemporary show

Four North Shore artists to show at the Ogden for Louisiana Contemporary show

I was recently told that any day an artist is invited to show his or her work in a museum is a good day. That good day has come for four North Shore artists, whose work soon will be on display at The Ogden Museum of Southern Art. For more information, call 985.789.6889 or visit www.paintpaletteandbrush.com. * Louisiana college and high school students now can enter their shorts films, which must be 15 minutes or less, in the sixth annual Pontchartrain Film Festival’s Student Short Film Showcase competition. The festival will present awards for best high school film, best college film, and an audience award in the high school and college categories. 4 at 2 p.m at the Mandeville Trailhead Depot, 675 Lafitte St. at 2 p.m. Validation helps the artist have confidence to push to the next level and experiment further to test the viewer’s eye again.” “My favorite spots in my paintings are the ones that aren’t so perfect. When that magic happens, I leave it in, hoping that the viewer will see it too,” he said, adding that pieces may look chaotic up close but more realistic from a further distance. “Most of my paintings are so engaging to me that I drink my coffee in the morning and am almost entranced to the point that I can’t leave the chair. While Santopadre’s piece was influenced by the historic context of Preservation Hall in New Orleans, Newkirk’s artwork, entitled “Trumped – Two,” was inspired by “weathered billboards that reveal layers of disjointed text from past advertisements,” he said. The non-representational digital print on rag paper with acrylic painting mounted to a board “explores a geometric visual language, utilizing modern and post-minimalist visual constructs in an intuitive methodology,” said Newkirk, who has a Masters of Fine Arts degree from Ohio State University and moved to the North Shore to take teaching position at Southeastern Louisiana University. He currently is an Associate Professor of Art + Design and the Director of the Southeastern Contemporary Art Gallery, where he has curated 100 exhibitions. As a artist, Newkirk as been part of 22 one-person exhibitions, four two-person exhibitions, and 75 group exhibitions. “Trumped – Two” comes from a series where Newkirk starts “with the text of a word or group of words that are currently in the media,” he said. “Using the font and the shape of the individual letters as a point of departure for creating the artwork. This artwork started with the word TRUMP; other works in the series have been used have been SYRIA and CUBA.” The pieces by Pechon and Zygarewicz, a native of Chile who has called the North Shore home for 20 years, use everyday items to explore larger concepts. “Double Standards,” Pechon’s mixed media piece that combines a broom and newspaper, “questions the constructed standards attributed to gender roles as seen through American history. By dividing the stereotype of the ‘housewife’ in two parts, I intend to explore equality in gender roles, questioning the concept of the ‘ideal woman.’ In doing so, it exposes the long lasting effect of the construction of the feminine gender role on women’s identities, which is still having an impact on the women of today,” he said. Pechon, who is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Art degree at SLU, said “it is a great honor and privilege to participate in the ‘Louisiana Contemporary.’…I would like to thank The Helis Foundation and everybody involved in organizing this every important event.” Zygarewicz, a Talented Arts teacher, will participate in the exhibition for the third time. Given that there were 290 applicants and over 890 artworks submitted, it is a highly competitive show to get into, so I am absolutely thrilled,” she said. Her piece, “Nesting Flight (a thousand wishes),” is “about my daughter taking flight into womanhood-leaving my nest to make her own,” she said. “Comprised of hundreds of emptied tea bags from tea I consumed, the shape and length were designed to reflect the color of her wedding dress and the long veil she wore. Wishes for her new life – or for anyone – are written in white ink on translucent strips of papers that join the tea panels held together with pins…. “It was my way of dealing with the sense of loss on one hand, and the sense of joy and celebration I felt at the same time,” added Zygarewicz, who has a Bachelor of Art from Loyola University and a Master of Fine Art from San Francisco Art Institute. Zygarewicz collects what she calls the ephemera of everyday life, such as used teabags, discarded twigs, lint and more. Through this process of collecting, I record both the passage of time and the intimate moments of daily life,” she said. I tend to suspend elements in my work as a way of ‘suspending a moment in time’ while also exploring the concept of balance,” Zygarewicz added. “I am about the process…and I find ways to distill that into a visual experience elevating the mundane to a place where the viewer can pause and see the materials and ideas in a way that creates new relationships.” While Newkirk and Zygarewicz have careers in the art world, Santopadre is pursuing his passion in his off time. He’s studied with Gretchen Armbruster of Armbruster Artworks in Covington and will display his latest pieces at the gallery during the Covington White Linen for Public Art event Aug. “I love my job and usually start my day at 3 a.m., so that I can paint for a few hours before the phones start ringing,” he said. Two – Dale Newkirk and Luba Zygarewicz – are veteran exhibitors, while two others – Trent Pechon and Robert Santopadre – are first-timers in the noted statewide exhibition. The Ogden Museum’s hours are Mondays to Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with Thursday hours from 1o a.m. to 8 p.m. when the Ogden After Hours weekly entertainment series occurs from 6 to 8 p.m. Museum admission on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. is free for Louisiana residents, courtesy of The Helis Foundation. * Mark your calendars for the opening of “Healing Journey,” the latest exhibition presented by the St. Tammany Hospital Foundation’s Healing Arts Initiative. The juried exhibition, located in designated gallery spots in St. Tammany Parish Hospital, will feature pieces by Catherine Camp, Dolores Crain, Michaela Howell, Carolyn LeBlanc, Pio Lyons, Marianne Angeli Rodriguez, Glinda Schafer, Linda Shelton and Pam Soileau. 3 from 4 to 6 p.m in the hospital’s front lobby and will include a short program and artist introduction at 4:30 p.m., guided tours and refreshments. It was established in 2012 to promote contemporary art practices in Louisiana, to provide exhibition space for the exposition of living artists’ work, and to engage a contemporary audience that recognizes the vibrant visual culture of Louisiana and the role of New Orleans as a rising, international art center, according to the Ogden Museum’s Web site. 26. For more information, visit www.sthfoundation.org/healingarts. * The St. Tammany Art Association has announced new pottery wheel throwing classes for ages 18 and up with instructor Vanessa Hock at STAA’s Art House, 320 N. Columbia St., Covington. Classes are offered Thursdays from 6 to 8:30 p.m and Saturdays from 9 to 11 a.m. For more information or to register, visit www.sttammanyartassociation.org.* “Four Corners,” an invitational exhibition presented by Olde Towne Arts Center, will be on display until Aug. 4 at the Cultural Center at Slidell City Hall, 2055 Second St. Designed to give viewers a new perspective each time they turn the corner, the show will feature Slidell artists Keith Dellsperger, John Fridge, Corinne Capdepon Harbison and Candace Page. Gallery hours are Wednesdays and Fridays, from noon to 4 p.m. and Thursdays from noon to 6 p.m. For more information, email info@otacenter.com or visit www.otacenter.com. * Abbey Art Works is accepting registration for “Learn the Art of Illumination,” where students will learn the medieval techniques of manuscript painting and gold leafing on paper by selecting their own theme and images to produce a unique story of their life journey, spiritual quest or favorite poem. 5, 12, 19 and 26 at the art school’s building on the St. Joseph Abbey campus. Don’t miss “Hot Art in a Cool Space,” the 15th annual fine art show and sale, Aug. 5 and 6 from noon to 6 p.m at the North Shore Unitarian Universalists, 28662 Krentel Road, Lacombe. The nod from the Ogden means that I’m not wasting my time hunting for my masterpieces….An artist sometimes feels the need for validation. Featuring 34 pieces by artists from around the country, it will end with a closing reception, featuring talks with selected artists, from 6 to 9 p.m. during Covington’s White Linen Night. Gallery hours are Tuesdays to Fridays from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to the receptions and gallery is free and open to the public. For more information, call 985.892.8650 or visit www.sttammanyartassociation.org.* Abbey Art Works will present “Arts at the Abbey,” a day-long spiritual and immersive art experience Aug. 25 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the grounds of St. Joseph Abbey, 75376 River Road, Covington. The day will feature a talk, entitled “Invisible Things Clearly Seen: The Spiritual Dimension of Art,” by Prof. James Patrick Reid, M. Div., artist and former instructor at the New York Academy of Art and the Art Students League. Reid currently is a faculty member at the Fashion Institute of Technology/SUNY. Other activities will include a tour of the Abbey’s beekeeping operation and a honey tasting, a hands-on art opportunity at the Abbey Art Works building, lunch in the Student Refectory, a tour of the de Wit murals, and a reception.

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Watching the watchers: The high-tech tools behind Hollywood test screenings

Watching the watchers: The high-tech tools behind Hollywood test screenings

View gallery – 6 imagesEver since the business of movie-making arose in the early 20th century, big studios have incorporated some kind of test screening routine into the production process. It’s easy to imagine how this data could lead movie studios to think their films aren’t working properly if the wrong type of audience were to view a film. Survey error also haunts the test screening process from response bias in the framing of questions, to the effects an interviewer has on a respondent’s answers. In the early 2000s, a psychology professor from Princeton began to study what actually goes on in a viewer’s brain while they watch a movie. For example, Sergio Leone’s classic spaghetti western The Good, The Bad and the Ugly was shown to demonstrate similar brain activity across all sampled viewers. Work from master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock was also found to be exceptionally effective in activating similar brain activity across a wide variety of test subjects. Hasson’s later studies examined brain activity across other forms of screen media and found that the more unstructured the media, the less synchronous brain activity was observed. So a single static shot of people standing in a park resulted in less synchronous brain activity compared to a tightly edited suspense scene. The fundamental idea behind Hasson’s work was that there may be a way to objectively measure how engaging a film is. A way that doesn’t rely on audience’s subjective likes or dislikes. The recent influx of wearable technology is now allowing Hollywood to get this kind of audience engagement data without resorting to impractical fMRI machines. In late 2015 tech company Lightwave joined forces with 20th Century Fox to try to find a way to quantify an audience’s psychical engagement with the film The Revenant. The statistics gathered allowed the filmmakers to look at the effect of their film on the audience from an entirely new perspective. The technology calculated the film contained 15 fight-or-flight responses, 14 heart-pounding moments, 4,716 seconds where viewers were transfixed and rendered motionless and nine moments where the audience was startled. “Through biometric data, we no longer need to rely solely on subjective and biased measurements to determine the impact that the content is having on the audience,” said Lightwave CEO, Rana June. Using EEG caps, thermal imaging cameras and other sensors the company has been amassing a trove of data to examine how certain video and sounds can best create a physical effect in viewers. For every film that has been reportedly “saved” through extensive test screenings, you could find another to show that they’re a complete waste of time. Hasson demonstrated that nearly 70 percent of the cortex in his subjects were firing in sync while watching the clip. Another study on showed that the brain activity in viewers watching a certain clip resembled patterns seen in patients diagnosed with schizophrenia. Blockbuster director Jon Favreau, also present at the event, noted the limitations of this kind of data, “How do you use all this to smuggle in something that’s a little more transformative? A team at Caltech has been working with Disney to try and develop a way of tracking audience facial reactions in real time, while they are watching a movie. Less intrusive than any kind of EEG or MRI, this method is underpinned by a new deep-learning neural network that was produced by the researchers. The team created a new algorithm known as factorized variational autoencoders (FVAEs) and the system breaks a person’s face down into 68 different “landmarks”. Using multiple infrared cameras trained on the audience in a cinema, each face can be captured at two frames per second and an audience of 400 can be analyzed simultaneously. “It’s more data than a human is going to look through,” says Disney research scientist Peter Carr. “That’s where computers come in – to summarize the data without losing important details.” These results are still broad – and not applicable to those more stony-faced viewers perhaps – but the most frightening part of the study came not in how the system was interpreting audience engagement, but its ability to begin to predict an audience’s future engagement. The algorithm swiftly became able to accurately predict an audience member’s facial response to an entire movie after just observing that face for the first 10 minutes. It learned quickly and could ultimately tell if someone was going to enjoy the film sooner than the person in question could. When a film’s efficacy can be tracked in such minute detail it’s not hard to imagine future studio notes to filmmakers asking for an extra heart-rate rising set piece or suggesting certain scenes be cut as test audience’s attention can be seen to drift across particular stretches. It is easy to approach this kind of data-managed production process with a cynical eye, but it is worth remembering that Hollywood has been doing this for almost 100 years. In many ways it is preferable that some of these decisions are being made based on real data instead of the subjective opinions of a small test screening audience. Of course, a reasonable fear is that this kind of analysis will lead to a homogenization of cinema where all movies are made for the lowest common denominator and any harsh edges are shaved off before a product gets a commercial release. Either way, Darren Aronofsky’s comment regarding the future of test screenings being held inside an MRI could be less an offhand joke and more a prophecy. After all, if $200 million dollars is being spent producing something that needs to return a profit then its almost silly to not do all you can to maximize the product’s chances. Fincher and the production team subsequently had to battle the studio to keep the fittingly bleak ending, and the final result spoke for itself. The film was a hit, both critically and with the public, ultimately delivering a worldwide box office of US$327 million.

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Apple may finally be ready to pull the trigger on 4K HDR iTunes movies

Apple may finally be ready to pull the trigger on 4K HDR iTunes movies

While the likes of Netflix, Google and Amazon forge ahead with 4K HDR movies, iTunes is still offering content in piddly 1080p. However, that might finally be about to change with news the company is seemingly preparing to offer movies in 4K HDR. One iTunes user has discovered the company has started to list certain moves as 4K HDR in his purchase history. In a discussion on the MacRumors forums, Tomas Jackson explains how he discovered the 2016 movie Passengers is listed at the greater resolution and in high dynamic range (see below). A 4K HDR content launch through iTunes is likely to coincide with the release of that model and give Apple a shot at competing with Amazon’s Fire TV and other new-gen set-top boxes. Not only is it missing the 4K compatibility, but the Siri interaction is sub-par, the tvOS App Store has failed to develop sufficiently, and the new TV app that aims to bind on-demand services together still feels incomplete.

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Crispy Jellyfish Are The Next Weird Food Source Proposed by Danish Scientists – ScienceAlert

Crispy Jellyfish Are The Next Weird Food Source Proposed by Danish Scientists – ScienceAlert

“In the course of a couple of days, the alcohol replaces the water in the jellyfish. The team thinks that the method could be appealing at a commercial level both because of its efficiency and the fact that there’s no need to use aluminium salts. But since the end-product is different from the delicacy as it’s commonly found in Asia, it probably won’t replace the centuries-old techniques in favour there. But the researchers are more interested in enticing the locals, which is also why they experimented on A. aurita – this species is becoming invasive in Nordic regions such as the Baltic Sea, and some think that eating the animals might be a good way to tackle this ecological problem. In China, jellyfish from the Rhizostomae order have been consumed for more than 1,700 years, and you can find them in salads and soups in many Southeast Asian countries – but the practice has never really caught on in the west. Typically, a jellyfish aimed for your plate is caught fresh and immediately – while still alive – steeped in a specialised mixture of table salt and alum, a potassium-aluminium compound commonly used in leather tanning and baking powder. Over the course of a month, the steeping process goes through multiple steps as the treatment reduces the water content of the jellyfish, preserving it and rendering it into a somewhat rubbery, chewy product. Most recipes for the steeping liquid are a trade secret, and the chemistry behind the process is not well understood, so a team led by gastrophysicist Mie Thorborg Pedersen from the University of Southern Denmark ran some experiments to investigate. They collected a bunch of Aurelia aurita jellyfish along the Danish coast and subjected them to several preparation techniques – both a traditional Chinese method they found in the literature, and other solutions they thought might work based on the cellular composition of the creatures.

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