Lost vs. The WGA [Update]

In a strike update report, we’re told that we only have 6 more episodes of Lost this season, but that 6 more could possibly be recorded before the end of the season. That’s a total of 14 of the promised 16 episodes. Considering Lost is fast becoming the best thing on TV ever, I find this quite disturbing. I, for one, would have loved a season cliffhanger mindfuck like that of season 3.

Update: The Lostpedia blog has an update. The good news is that we’ll get the same amount of episodes (48) for season 4, 5 and 6. The bad news is that they’ll be scrambled, so that season 4 will only be a total of 13 of the 16 episodes we were promised. Now let’s just hope they can muster up some good writing for those episodes.

Do We Like Being Lost?

Yesterday I managed to see Lost season 3 episode 11, entitled Enter 77. Having followed Lost intently since the very first episode, it’s now becoming clear to me that there are two types of episodes. There are episodes that reveal tiny tidbits of “Lost mythology”—those are the episodes that deal with what’s actually going on. Then there are the “fleshing out” episodes, episodes that mainly elaborate on the stories of each of the Lost characters. In that way, Lost is very much like Star Trek, which might indicate that Lost is here to stay for a while.

That almost brings me to my point. Like the two types of episodes, I think there are two types of viewers. There are those who are lost and have no idea what’s going on and love it and those who are lost but despise it.

While I’m slightly annoyed at having zealously watched three seasons, having had to drop countless theories, I’m still firmly in the first camp. I love Lost, even if they’re milking it this season. What camp are you in? To put it in another way, would you like the producers to announce an end date to the series? Or would you (like me), like the series to continue for two or three more seasons (as long as they do end the series at some point)?

While I’m at it, I might as well dive into that whole Lost mythology. If you’re averse to spoilers, you might not want to read on. There’s been talk of the island being some sort of buddhist Shangri-La (Dharma is a buddhist concept, by the way), so right now I’m holding on to that as my best bet of an explanation. What’s your best bet?

The Lost Pixels

lostpixels

Since Lost – one of the most worthwhile TV shows since Twin Peaks – is taking a break until February next year, I’d like to spend the time inbetween discussing one of the issues that really annoy me about that show.

No, it’s not the fact that they’re milking every episode, postponing the ultimate revelation one season at a time. It’s not the nagging feeling that once that revelation is upon us, they won’t be able to explain all the myriad of threads they’ve torn the story into. No, it’s much simpler. It’s a visual glitch.

See every time the show starts, right after the opening sequence, the Lost logo comes into focus and zooms past the camera. Freezeframe! There, a glitch in the 3D shape. The face of the logo doesn’t connect properly to the sides.

If you, like me, know just a tiny smudgeon about 3D modelling, this glitch is a symptom of an utterly crap 3D modeller. It bugs the hell out of me. What about you? Are you just sitting there, taking it?

Caprica: New Battlestar Galactica Spinoff

Sci Fi Channel has announced a new Battlestar Galactica spinoff entitled “Caprica”.

Caprica would take place more than half a century before the events that play out in Battlestar Galactica. The people of the Twelve Colonies are at peace and living in a society not unlike our own, but where high-technology has changed the lives of virtually everyone for the better.

But a startling breakthrough in robotics is about to occur, one that will bring to life the age-old dream of marrying artificial intelligence with a mechanical body to create the first living robot: a Cylon. Following the lives of two families, the Graystones and the Adamas (the family of William Adama, who will one day become the commander of the Battlestar Galactica), Caprica will weave together corporate intrigue, techno-action and sexual politics into television’s first science fiction family saga, the channel announced.

Press release

Stream of Consciousness #3

The last few weeks have been packed with exciting things, waves of (interesting) work, and lots of inspiration. Yet somehow, sometimes, life gets in your way. This sunday I got the flu, and it’s been years since I’ve been nailed to the bed quite like this for so long.

On the upside, I’ve been catching up on the latest season of Simpsons. Is it just me or did that train derail at season 14? I can’t remember any good episodes of late. Maybe it’s just welcome competition from Seth McFarlane’s Family Guy.

March installment is coming, and although it’s not looking quite as good as I’d have wanted it to, it’s statistically probable that you win some and you lose some. It’ll be interesting to see if I can keep up this “tiny monthly redesign”, or whether I should cave in and work on the real redesign which is in the cards. One positive thing is that I’m sticking tightly to the manifest I wrote a while a go. Indeed it seems I’m better at pressing pause.

Fauna Beta 3.1 was supposed to be out a few days after Beta 3. That didn’t happen, fortunately now it’s called Beta 4 and it’s going to be the best release of Fauna yet. I suspect this’ll be the final beta before I go RC.

Khaled has unveiled some screenshots of Shuttle, the admin redesign for WordPress. Shuttle has come a long way, and is a huge improvement over the 1.5 interface, and especially over the 2.0 interface. The work Khaled has done these last few weeks have blown my mind. Essentially he has taken all the hundreds of hours of chatter and mockups and combined it into something that a) works, b) we (the shuttle team) can all support.

Chris, my favourite ambassador of America, has unveiled his Canvas redesign. While simple on top, it’s scalable, and ready to be filled with more witty banter. I can’t wait for him to write a book, on stuff.

Speaking of America, the news is booming with news with the shortcomings of George W. I can’t say I’m surprised, and I find myself thinking about those who voted for him: do you now realise what a mistake it was? I wonder how this world would have looked today if Al Gore had been elected. I only hope the next president will be female; the White House is in desperate need of estrogen.

I should wrap this up and get back to bed. Have a nice day and stay in school.

On Blown Highlights and Digital Grading

Since getting intimate with Photoshop, I’ve noticed how various digital effects affect imagery. I’ve especially started to become very aware of the digital grading that happens with nearly all video produced for television or the big screen.

From Wikipedia:

Digital grading is a process through which celluloid film is transferred into a computer, manipulated by changing colors or smoothing effects shots, and transmitted back onto celluloid.

Remember Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers? I always remember that film as “blue”. A bit too graded for my taste. Remember CSI: Miami? With all the yellow and orange you’d think “wow it must be hot on Miami”. Having been tainted, I just think “damn, another orange layer set to hard-light @15% to hide that blown-out sky”.

Warning: If you love the show, you may not want to read on.

Well, the problem is understandable: your camera isn’t quite up to par with the human eye, and when filming a location with a lot of sky-light you’ll have to choose: a beatiful sky with a dark ground or a properly lighted ground with a blown-out sky. While not quite like Miami, here’s an example:

Blown-out sky:

blown

Dark ground:

blown-dark

Which is better for television? Well, since actors can’t quite fly (yet) I suppose it would make sense to be able to see what’s happening on the ground. Ideally, the camera-team would come back earlier in the day to get a better shot, but they probably have a tight deadline and have to do with what they have. I imagine it goes like this:

Director: Damn, I wish we had some sky in there. There’s just too much whitespace now. What can you do?

Digital grader: Well, we could kinda even out the sky and make it look like it’s just really hot right now… that way the whitespace wouldn’t be white… rather.. uh, yellowspace.

blown-hardlight

Director: Wow, yeah, much better! It looks kinda creative too… man… this is great! Hey, could you go even further? Like, could you create a digital sky or something?

Digital grader: Digital sky huh? Well… I might have a trick up my sleeve. Ever heard of gradients?

blown-hardlight-gradient

Director: There, that’s it, right there, don’t touch it! Perfect! Wow, if we add some icelandic music to this shot I might even win an emmy this time!

Digital grader: Yeah, gradients are pretty great.

While I’m not going to declare a “war on digital grading”, grading doesn’t always help out television. I would personally just want some moderation at times.

Did you ever notice the TV sky didn’t quite look… real?