Archive for movies

Skynet Symphonic

Posted in movies & series, music, sci-fi with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2010 by ph1at1ine

Comprising nothing but small sounds recorded from the James Cameron masterpiece ‘Terminator 2: Judgement Day’, ‘Skynet Symphonic’ is my tribute to one of the greatest action features of all time!

Each section is composed entirely of sounds from a major scene in the film. For example, the Terminator pounding on the fire escape door is used as a kick drum. Bones breaking play the role of a snare. Electrical disturbance acts as a crash cymbal.

Turn up your cones and enjoy!

Top ten science-base sci-fi movies

Posted in movies & series, sci-fi with tags , , , , , , , on January 9, 2008 by ph1at1ine

Mike Brotherton – Every top ten list is biased, and so is this one. My particular biases are that the movies have to strive for, and achieve most of the time, scientific accuracy. At least nothing too grossly wrong, and some instances of, “yeah, that’s not intuitive but that’s how it would work!” I’ll limit my list to the physical sciences and space-oriented movies. There are many fine movies that won’t make the list simply because they skimp on the science in one way or another, or I’ve never seen them. Apollo 13 was very scientifically accurate, but that’s a historical movie, not science fiction.Here’s the list in chronological order, with a few words of explanation.

Destination Moon (1950). This movie was made with the involvement of the space community of the day and Robert Heinlein who wrote the story it was based on. Special effort was made for scientific accuracy and they got a lot of things right. Probably the biggest mistake was proposing that only private industry, not the government, would make it to the moon.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). A classic, and probably the film closest to error free in terms of the science. There wasn’t any sound in space, and gravity was supplied by rotation in a realistic fashion. Lots of good details that were right. Credit Arthur C. Clarke and Kubrik for listening and caring.

Alien (1979). Let’s give this one credit for also knowing that “In space no one can hear you scream.” This film isn’t heavy on the science, but we have slower than light vehicles that take many years to travel between the stars requiring humans to use hibernation. A planet with an unbreathable atmosphere requires air masks, as used, and not full space suits.

2010 (1984). Not as visually stunning or powerful (or slow) as 2001, but good science throughout, particularly with respect to working in freefall and vacuum environments.

Aliens (1986). This movie gets a lot of the same things right that the original did, along with having a smart plot and appropriate use of technology. One of my favorite films to boot.

Predator (1987). There were two great things in this movie. No, not future governors! Two nice science things. The first is the idea of an alien that sees in a different part of the electromagnetic spectrum, and having that actually play a role in the plot. The second was the camo suit, which is a technology we’re likely to develop this century at close to that level of effectiveness.

The Abyss (1989). This fine movie takes place underwater rather than in outer space, but it’s an alien contact story. A lot of the details of this exotic environment are treated correctly and play roles in the plot. I first watched this in Greg Bear’s basement at a party and it was fascinating to hear him give his commentary on some scenes. Another great Cameron film (but be sure to see the director’s cut).

Contact (1997). Probably the second-best movie on the list in terms of scientific accuracy. There are a few minor errors in it, but it gets so many things right including some concepts tough to convey to an audience. Credit Carl Sagan for helping here.

Deep Impact (1998). OK, this movie I didn’t love. I mean, we’re supposed to find sympathetic an annoying reporter vying for the first question at a presidential press conference? Some minor scientific errors here, but they tried and succeeded in getting a lot of things right, too.

Red Planet (2000). I was kind of surprised to see this movie on my list. While this isn’t a bad movie, it just goes to show how few movies out there are really based in science and make it part of the story. In any event, they did a good job with gravity on the space craft, fire in freefall, Martian gravity, and more. Taking along a robot with a “military mode” is just kind of dumb, but not bad science.

The much longer list of science fiction movies with bad science includes almost every space-based movie I haven’t mentioned, and most others. Armageddon currently holds a special place in my heart for its mind-numbing scientific ignorance and I use it for instruction in my Launch Pad Workshop. I’d like to recommend Phil Plait’s great website Bad Astronomy for reviews of science in some of these movies and many others.

Special effects in 2008 will all involve gases and fluids

Posted in sci-fi, science & tech with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2008 by ph1at1ine

io9 – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences handed out their “sci-tech” achievement awards today, you know the ones that they blur through during Oscar night with someone like Jennifer Garner saying “I was forced… er, had lunch with these amazing people last month, and here are the highlights” and so forth. We noticed that there are a heck of a lot of awards for fluids and gases being given out here. Does that mean every single visual effects shot in 2008 is going to involve water or billowing clouds? After all, we’ve already seen The Mist. Check out the slippery winners below.

  • Victor Gonzalez, Ignacio Vargas and Angel Tena for the creation of the RealFlow software application. “RealFlow was the first widely adopted, commercially available, easy-to-use system for the simulation of realistic liquids in motion picture visual effects.”
  • Jonathan Cohen, Dr. Jerry Tessendorf, Dr. Jeroen Molemaker and Michael Kowalski for the development of the system of fluid dynamics tools at Rhythm & Hues. “This system allows artists to create realistic animation of liquids and gases, using novel simulation techniques for accuracy and speed, as well as a unique scripting language for working with volumetric data.”
  • Duncan Brinsmead, Jos Stam, Julia Pakalns and Martin Werner for the design and implementation of the Maya Fluid Effects system. “This system is used to create simulations of gaseous phenomena integrated into the widely available Maya tool suite, using an unconditionally stable semi-Lagrangian solver.”
  • Stephan Trojansky, Thomas Ganshorn and Oliver Pilarski for the development of the Flowline fluid effects system. “Flowline is a flexible system that incorporates highly parallel computation, allowing rapid iteration and resulting in detailed, realistic fluid effects.”
  • Dr. Doug Roble, Nafees Bin Zafar and Ryo Sakaguchi for the development of the fluid simulation system at Digital Domain. “This influential and flexible production-proven system incorporates innovative algorithms and refined adaptations of published methods to achieve large-scale water effects.”
  • Nick Rasmussen, Ron Fedkiw and Frank Losasso Petterson for the development of the Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) fluid simulation system. “This production-proven simulation system achieves large-scale water effects within ILM’s Zeno framework. It includes integrating particle level sets, parallel computation, and tools that enable the artistic direction of the results.”

Avatar in 3D

Posted in movies & series, sci-fi with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 4, 2008 by ph1at1ine

SF Signal – You probably know by now that James Cameron is hard at work on his new movie, Avatar. We have the supposed teaser poster to the right, and our Bevy of Blue and Green Babes post even has a picture of the Avatar alien. But did you know that Cameron is filming Avatar in 3D? Yes, 3D.Not the crappy red/blue 3D of yesteryear, and not even the new fangled polarized 3D you see every now and then. No, Cameron created a brand new 3D camera, that works like a pair of human eyes, and shot the entire thing using this new camera. You’ll still have to wear polarizing glasses though. You may wonder how/why this is different. I know I did. Then, thanks to the magic of the Internet, I found this explanation on

From a technical standpoint, this is really cool, watching the camera in action is interesting. Of course, we can’t really see how the film looks because the Internet isn’t in 3D. Yet. Now I’m even more curious about this movie, aside from the SF-nal aspects and is Sigourney Weaver the hardest working actress in the SF genre? Although, since I wear glasses, I hate wearing yet another pair over them to get the 3D effect. Summer 2009 seems quite a ways off though. Must be all the post-production work.

Has anyone seen Cameron’s Titanic documentaries that are in 3D? I’m assuming they use the same 3D camera as Avatar. Maybe the new Imax theater down the street will show them when it opens.

Star Wars and Simpsons

Posted in books, movies & series, sci-fi with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 4, 2008 by ph1at1ine

Star Wars blog – SW blog lists references from the movie Star Wars in The Simpsons.

“Bart the General” (2/4/90) Bart accurately declares the only “good wars” to be the American Revolution, World War II and the Star Wars trilogy.

“Old Money” (3/28/91) Among the Springfield residents in line for Abe Simpsons’ money is someone dressed as Darth Vader.

“I Married Marge” (12/16/91) In a flashback, Homer and Marge are leaving the theater where they just saw The Empire Strikes Back when Homer marvels, “I can’t believe Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker‘s father,” ruining the surprise for everybody in line. Later, Homer declares his love: “Marge, you’re as pretty as Princess Leia and smart as Yoda.”

“Bart’s Friend Falls in Love” (5/7/92) Milhouse appears to have an X-wing fighter poster on his wall.

“Lisa the Beauty Queen” (10/15/92) Lisa goes to a caricature artist who displays a caricature of Darth Vader. In a montage, she sports the corn-rows of Bo Derek, the beehive of Marge Simpson, and the legendary double-bun ‘do of Princess Leia.

“Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie” (11/3/92) A landspeeder-type vehicle cruisers by Homer and Bart.

“Marge vs. the Monorail” (1/14/93) Mayor Quimby attempts to ingratiate himself to Star Trek‘s Leonard Nimoy, who’s in town for the launch of the Springfield Monorail, by telling him, “May the Force be with you.”

Syndication Promo (fall, 1993) In a commercial to promote reruns of The Simpsons, we see actual footage of Luke’s X-wing entering the Death Star trench, with Bart animated into Luke’s uniform and firing the shot that destroys the Death Star.

“Homer Goes to College” (10/14/93) Mr. Burns leaves his office in an escape pod similar to the one used by C-3PO and R2-D2 at the beginning of Star Wars.

“Burns’ Heir” (4/14/94) A THX trailer is so loud it shatters glasses, teeth, and heads to the astonishment and appreciation of a packed house of moviegoers.

THX Theatrical Trailer (6/94) Slightly different version of the THX spoof from “Burns’ Heir.”

“Lisa’s Rival” (9/11/94) Principal Skinner can barely contain his joy upon seeing Ralph Wiggum’s diorama project, “Pre-packaged Star Wars characters still in their display box? Are those the limited edition action figures? Why, it’s Luke, and Obi-Wan, and my favorite, Chewie! They’re all here! …We have a winner!” Also, Ralph drops his Chewbacca figure and whines, “I bent my Wookiee!” Earlier in the episode, Lisa’s rival Allison (guest voice Winona Ryder) easily offers this apropos anagram for “Alec Guiness:” Genuine Class.

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Star maidens 1975

Posted in movies & series, sci-fi with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2008 by ph1at1ine

Star Maidens was shown on UK TV 1976
It’s about a planet called Medusa ruled by women that used men as slaves…Two of the men escape to earth and give those gals a terrible time trying to catch them

Galactica scripts and more at charity auction

Posted in sci-fi, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2008 by ph1at1ine

SF UniverseFans4Writers is running a charity auction to benefit the WGA Solidarity Fund.  Most of the items currently up for auction are from Battlestar Galactica and include more than a dozen autographed scripts, and three autographed soundtrack CDS.Not into Galactica?  You’ll also find a fun Serenity cast photo, autographed scripts from Numb3rs (I want!) and Lost and even a shot at the Two and a Half Men 100th Episode bike!

Some of the items are closing as early as this Friday, so visit the auction at today and place your bid.