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UHD Spec Stomps on Current Blu-ray Spec, But Will Consumers Notice?

Thagg Re: The future is not UHD (331 comments)

Go to a friends house and turn on their flat-panel TV. 99% of the time, it will have frame-rate interpolation turned on; which basically means that any content they see on that TV will be at 60 or 120 Hz. Even movies shot at 24.

More and more often as I do presentations to executives, they don't understand why my TVs look so "juddery" compared to what they expect -- it's because at home they're watching everything at 120Hz.

So no -- most people are happy with high frame rate most of the time, and that percentage is getting larger quickly. I am a big 24fps fan, but I believe the days are numbered.

4 days ago
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UHD Spec Stomps on Current Blu-ray Spec, But Will Consumers Notice?

Thagg Re:Loudness wars become HDR wars? (331 comments)

No, we are not doing things that are artificial at all -- we are making things that could be far more real.

4 days ago
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UHD Spec Stomps on Current Blu-ray Spec, But Will Consumers Notice?

Thagg Re:I won't notice [actually you will notice HDR] (331 comments)

The Dolby Vision TVs will have reasonable controls to set brightness and contrast, but one of the selling points to the studios is that we will strive to maintain the artistic intent of the original. The blacks will be black, the whites will be white, and there will be an unprecedented (but realistic) amount of contrast.

It turns out that in high dynamic range content creation, the most important thing is not that the picture be brighter overall; but that there is an increased range between midtones and highlights. In current production, skin tones are set to about half the maximum brightness in the scene. This means that the brightest things in the image (say, a glint off of a chrome bumper) can only be twice that bright; where in real life it's more that 100 times that bright. So, leaving the midtones about where they are, and giving brighter highlights makes the image look better in a way that you have to see to understand. Or, you can just look out the window.

4 days ago
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UHD Spec Stomps on Current Blu-ray Spec, But Will Consumers Notice?

Thagg Re:I won't notice [actually you will notice HDR] (331 comments)

As the article states, two of the most important changes in this standard are high dynamic range (HDR) and wider color gamut (Rec. 2020) images. I have been working on this with Dolby Laboratories for the last few years, and whenever we bring in movie directors, cinematographers, colorists, or studio executives to see our ridiculously HDR wide-color-gamut display, their jaws hit the floor. The ability to reproduce the dynamic range and color gamut of real life is breathtaking. One of the studio executives, when asked if she could see the difference said "Do I look like a potted palm?"

You will see the difference, and you'll be able to see it from across the room. HDR and wide color gamut combined with UHD resolution is a revolution.

I know this sounds like a sales pitch (ok, it is!) but I've been working in the film business for 30 years before I started working on this; I know what creatives want, and this is it. I spent that time working on CG visual effects, and I think that HDR will have a comparable impact on filmmaking that VFX did.

The Dolby Cinema theaters opening in the next few months will have similar extreme dynamic range and wide color gamut. They look astonishingly better as well.

Wait and see. It's coming, and it's not far away.

4 days ago
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US Senate Set To Vote On Whether Climate Change Is a Hoax

Thagg Re:Remember this sort of nonsense (666 comments)

That is the point, of course. We're going to see more dramatic climate changes in the future, probably, and we'll be able to go back and point to these votes. Politicians can deny a lot of things, but the votes are on the record forever.

about a week ago
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US Senate Set To Vote On Whether Climate Change Is a Hoax

Thagg Re:They already have (666 comments)

Bruce,

Do you think it's possible in this 'big data' age to come up with an absolute, reasonably accurate, energy budget for the planet? We have storms, and shifting ocean currents, and a number of things that affect the temperatures that are easy to measure; but the net energy is surely growing as inexorably and smoothly as the CO2 concentration.

Now, of course, those kind of facts won't matter to people whose bread is buttered with oil money. Still, it could be useful for tracking our progress or lack thereof.

about a week ago
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Microsoft Outlook Users In China Hit With MITM Attack

Thagg Re:Encryption = same as an envelope for real mail. (35 comments)

Funny to see somebody complaining about the lack of a good encrypted email program.

"Geez, there's this billion dollar opportunity here that nobody is taking. Oh well, I'll just go back to reading Facebook." Come on man! Do it!

about two weeks ago
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Why We're Not Going To See Sub-orbital Airliners

Thagg Not strictly true (300 comments)

I've done some research into hypersonic technology, and it's not strictly true that hypersonic flights are necessarily less efficient per passenger mile. Sure, up to this point it has been the case, but we haven't explored in detail.

The US currently has tested a hypersonic glider that goes a heck of a long way, with a surprisingly good glide ratio, above Mach 20. Apparently it was to glide for thousands of miles, while only descending maybe 20 miles, implying a tremendously high glide ratio, over 100:1. If that's true, then you could have extremely efficient flight at Mach 20.

These "waverider" planes use radically different aerodynamics, so the old rules don't apply. They're nothing like the Concorde.

about three weeks ago
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Apple Pay For the UK

Thagg Re:Typical "Big Lie" (75 comments)

There is no "card". The chip in the iPhone generates a unique ID for every transaction, and that is all that is transmitted.

about a month ago
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Apple Pay For the UK

Thagg Re:Typical "Big Lie" (75 comments)

Do you honestly believe that the banks are selling credit card info, and that apple isn't sharing any of that info with anyone?

I don't know if the banks are selling credit card info; but I know that merchants are. Apple Pay prevents them from doing that, which is one of the big reasons that so many merchants in the US have stopped using NFC for payments, as this earlier Slashdot story describes.

A friend of mine was deeply involved in NFC payments at significant companies (not Apple) and says that not only is Apple not sharing the info; they can't. It's just not available. The NFC chips in the phone don't send out identifiable information.

about a month ago
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Apple Pay For the UK

Thagg Typical "Big Lie" (75 comments)

What the banks are really concerned about is not that Apple is collecting information, but that their customers will realize the opposite -- that using Apple pay is far more secure than other systems. If people start waking up to the fact that all of the information merchants are getting from credit cards can and will be used against them; then systems like Apple Pay are going to destroy the status quo.

What better way to try to stop this then by spouting a Big Lie? The banks are saying that they are worried that Apple is collecting too much information. If they can seed doubt into customers for long enough, then they may succeed in killing it.

about a month ago
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New Snowden Docs Show GCHQ Paid Telcos For Cable Taps

Thagg Why is encryption not standard? (90 comments)

It's astonishing that all communication is not encrypted. If you are sharing information over a common carrier, you should expect that somebody is going to be grabbing and examining the bytes.

So, somehow, it is just not the norm to encrypt communication. One reason might be that during the eighties and nineties as the internet was going wide, ITAR and patents on systems like RSA made people and companies nervous and unwilling to go there; that was definitely a missed opportunity.

Perhaps another problem is that there's no money to be made in encryption; and there are real (small, but real) costs in establishing it.

Still, though...

Why is there no encrypted "WhatsApp"? It would not be hard, it would be trivial to deliver through Google Play, and there would be a immediate market. If the connections were truly peer-to-peer, the infrastructure to support it would be almost zero.

How has the world convinced people not to encrypt all communication?

about 2 months ago
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After Four Days, Philae Team Gets to Rest

Thagg Re:the dire equations (88 comments)

Sadly, while the "weight" is very small on the comet, it's mass (and therefore inertia) is substantial. You're not going to blow it over.

It wouldn't surprise me if they land Rosetta on the comet toward the end of the mission.

about 2 months ago
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Comet Probe Philae To Deploy Drill As Battery Life Wanes

Thagg Re:two bounces (223 comments)

1) There is/was a significant risk that drilling would push Philae off the comet again. Still, it's a risk worth taking; without the solar recharging ESA has only until Saturday before the batteries run out.
2) The challenge is that either the lander is on its side, so the solar panels can't see the sun; or that the lander is up against a wall blocking the sun most of the time. They are considering possible ways of reorienting Philae; but it doesn't seem too likely. Also, without the harpoons or ice screws, it's likely that Philae will be pushed into space by gasses escaping the comet as it gets closer to the sun; so the extra sunlight is a double-edged sword.

about 2 months ago
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Comet Probe Philae To Deploy Drill As Battery Life Wanes

Thagg Re:two bounces (223 comments)

It is fascinating that you can see stars and the comet surface at the same time; it shows how far from the sun they are. In no pictures from the moon can you see any stars.

Right now the spacecraft is about 3x as far from the sun as the moon is from the sun, so the sun is only 1/9th as bright there. I suppose the cameras might have a bit more dynamic range than the film cameras of the late 60's. The comet nucleus might also be quite dark, but the moon is very dark as well (about 10% albedo.)

about 2 months ago
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Comet Probe Philae To Deploy Drill As Battery Life Wanes

Thagg two bounces (223 comments)

Philae bounced twice, the first bounce was about two hours, the second one 7 minutes. If the gravity on the comet is 1/200,000th that on earth (a reasonable estimate, it varies around the comet because it's *way* not round) then the first bounce was about 1,000 feet off the surface, but the second one was only about three feet. Seven minutes to fly up and down three feet; that's almost impossible to imagine.

about 2 months ago
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Will Lyft and Uber's Shared-Ride Service Hurt Public Transit?

Thagg Re:should be banned or regulated (237 comments)

In a city like NYC or perhaps London, I agree that the number of daily rides is a pie that will be subdivided differently. In a town like Los Angeles or even San Francisco; not so much. The number of Uber rides in LA will exceed the pre-Uber number of taxi rides soon, if it hasn't already -- it's a real game changer. Many more people are taking Uber rather than taxis, yes -- but even more people are taking Uber than used to drive.

In LA, the taxi service will suffer; but also (and maybe more so) the rental car business. It's cheaper to UberX around the city (especially if you use mass transit when you can) than renting a car; and more convenient too because you don't have to worry about parking.

about 2 months ago
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Will Lyft and Uber's Shared-Ride Service Hurt Public Transit?

Thagg Exactly the opposite! Enhances Public Transport! (237 comments)

I use Uber in Los Angeles; as many people do.

Los Angeles has very limited subway service. It exists, it's pretty quick, but it doesn't go too many places. So, I use Uber to get to and from the subway stops closest to where I want to go; and use the train for the bulk of the transport.

Now, if I was going with a group of people instead of by myself, I'd Uber the whole way; the subway charges per person and Uber per car. But for traveling by yourself; Uber and mass transit is a great combo.

about 2 months ago
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Elon Musk's Next Mission: Internet Satellites

Thagg Re:A global network of high-latency torrent server (74 comments)

These will not be high latency. If you have 700 satellites more-or-less evenly distributed around the globe (say from 60S to 60N latitude) and you want a minimum of 45 degree elevation to the nearest satellite, they can be lower than 400 miles altitude, or 600 miles away. Assuming that the system will bounce signals from the satellites to a distributed network of fiber connected ground stations, latency should only be 10ms more than a pure cable transmissions.

Previous satellite internet to geosynchronous satellites are nothing like this.

I agree with other commenters that this is pretty unlikely, but SpaceX and Tesla were quite unlikely to succeed as well.

about 3 months ago

Submissions

Thagg hasn't submitted any stories.

Journals

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Late 07 update

Thagg Thagg writes  |  more than 7 years ago

In Catholic Confession, you start out by saying how long it's been since your last confession -- fortunately, I gave up being a strict Catholic some time ago, so I don't have to say how long since my last journal entry.

I'm starting now at Visual Effects Supervisor for Fast and Furious 4, we're bringing back Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, and a bunch of the other characters from the first three movies for one more run around the track. I've been involved in the first three as a VFX supervisor for my own company, this time I'm involved from the production side, and it's a whole different deal. Very exciting, a lot more responsibility, a million more things to keep straight. Fortunately, I have a good producer, Lori Nelson, and the work is similar to what I've done in the previous three movies, so I've got a bit of a running start.

I'm finally going to go over to the white side (as opposed to the dark side) and am getting a Macbook Pro to help with this movie. I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Linux zealot, but at some point you just want to share information and movies and databases with the world of Mac users...and it's difficult to do that legally under Linux. So, we'll see how it goes! OSX has become closer to Linux over the years, so it's not such a radical a leap as it was.

In other news, my daughter's off to college at Washington University in St Louis, and my boy is in fourth grade, still struggling with autism, but having a pretty good time while doing it. We're still persuing the ABA therapy paradigm, it really seems to be the best program out there. He's taking Lexapro as well, in a very small dose, and it just seems to make everything in his life 100% better, so if you're a parent of a kid with autism, you might try it out.

I promise to update this journal sooner next time. Really.

Thad

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Every 2 years, whether I need it or not, I update my journal

Thagg Thagg writes  |  more than 10 years ago It's been a wild couple of years. We've done a lot of work on some big films, but the biggest one was The Chronicles of Riddick. For that film, we had to grow the company to 60 people, and some 150 computers. It was by far the best work we'd ever done, but it was also by far the hardest project we've ever done.

We're now looking at a bunch of new projects, some big and some small. It's a pretty quiet time in the FX industry right now.

I'm excited about the new 2.6 kernel and all that comes with it -- it seems to address many performance issues we've had with Linux in the past -- especially in terms of disk and filesystem performance. Right new we're using Fedora Core 2, which has its good and bad points. It is very cutting edge, and has all the latest whiz-bang features -- but it also changes very quickly which can be scary in production.

Thad

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Thagg Thagg writes  |  more than 12 years ago

Well, we've finished work on Blue Crush, the surfing movie. The challenge here was to replace the face of the world-class surfer Rochelle Ballard with the face of the actress Katie Bosworth; the star of the movie. It was one of the biggest risks that I have taken in FX, as I have never seen face-replacement done well in these kind of challenging action situations.

Now we begin work on The Core and The Fast and The Furious 2. The former presents artistic rather than technical challenges, and the second has the primary challenge being the acquisition of the photographic material without killing the stunt people.

I'm looking forward to building a small gyro system to track the rotations of the cameras for tFatF2. The Systron Donner GyroChipII seems like the best sensor for this application, although it has been suggested to me that there are new gyros being used in the underwater ROV market that I should look at.

Because it's such a big part of my life, and because journals should reflect that, I'll add a short bit about my son with autism, Thomas. He's almost five, and it's been an interesting three years since his diagnosis. For the first nine months we had him in speech therapy plus preschool, thinking that speech was the primary problem. In July two years ago, we were fortunate enough to have Thomas accepted into the program at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD), an Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) program; through which he gets about 35 hours a week of behavior-modification type therapy. We've also tried various biomedical interventions, on the chance that they'd work; primarily a gluten-free, casien-free (GFCF) diet and a moderate course of chelation for possible heavy-metal poisoning. For some unknown combination of reasons, he's become remarkably better over the last three months or so, becoming more verbal and socially apt. We're desparately hoping (and planning, and working) to keep him in preschool one more year at the spectacularly good program that he has been in for the last year. Another year of therapy and preschool very well might allow him to go to kindergarten a year from now with minimal assistance.

Aside from work, and taking care of Thomas, there's not all that much more going on -- althogh taking care of Thomas is becoming more and more delightful as he shows signs of recovery.

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Academy award for visual effects

Thagg Thagg writes  |  about 13 years ago

Well, I've got another week to get our packet together for the visual effects bakeoff. I think that I'm going to write mostly about the shot fx6, the 'hinge shot', going across the street to then into Paul Walker's car. The whole idea of course is to show that we can do a bunch of really cool stuff, quickly, inexpensively.

We'll see!

Of course, I have my real work to do in the meantime, on Showtime, Surf Girls, White Oleander, The Tuxedo, Final Destination 2, ...

Hmm.

thad

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