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June 2016
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VR 360: Inside the Large Hadron Collider

This 360 degree VR formatted video from BBC News takes you on a brief tour inside the Large Hadron Collider, which is pretty much the most complex machine in the world. The folks over at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, have done a lot of excellent science with this installation. Since I probably won’t get to visit the place in person, it is nice to have a virtual visit to play in the headset.

Gravity Wave Astronomy

Gravity Waves have finally been observed, not once, but twice, and the era of Gravity Wave Astronomy is now here. So far our detectors can only pick up really powerful events in the form of black holes multiple times the mass of our sun colliding together, but as the science matures we should be able to detect less energetic events. Why did I say finally been observed? Because they were predicted by Albert Einstein right around 100 years ago as part of his General Relativity Theory, and it took us until last year to begin to detect them.

CW DC Returns in October

The DC Comics shows that the CW Network runs are favorites of mine, and they return with new episodes in October. The Flash kicks off its new season on Tuesday, October 4th, followed by Arrow hot on its heels on Wednesday the 5th. Also on Wednesday the 5th they roll out the new sci-fi show Frequency, which is a spin off from the movie rather than based n a DC Comic, but the trailer on that one looks really good. Supergirl joins the CW lineup with the season 2 premier on Monday, October 10th, and the trailer includes a quick peek of the Flash chatting with her about the other DC characters on that channel. It could have started on CW rather than CBS, because two of the three developers created the Arrow and Flash TV series, and I am looking forward to whatever crossover stories they come up with. DC’s Legends of Tomorrow has its season premier on Thursday, October 13th, and it gets followed be the season premier of another non-DC favorite, Supernatural. You can see the various trailers at their web sites, linked here; thanks to THR for the heads up on this one.

SIGGRAPH 2016: Computer Animation Festival Trailer

SIGGRAPH 2016 is coming up on July 24th through the 28th in Anaheim, California this year, and one of mt favorite tracks is their Computer Animation Festival, so I had to post the trailer for it. The name is from their original newsgroup identifier from the Internet’s early days, Special Interest Group, GRAPHics. This gathering is the 43rd international conference and exhibition on
Computer Graphics & Interactive Techniques, in case you were wondering how long ago those early days were, and they didn’t hold these every year during the first decade. How important this event is to the creators of these excellent animations can be explained by saying it has been their version of the Academy Awards since the late 70s. How important it is to the rest of us is best expressed by this quote from their web site:

The Computer Animation Festival is recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as a qualifying festival. Since 1999, several works originally presented in the Computer Animation Festival have been nominated for or have received a Best Animated Short Academy Award.

It is not too late to make this year’s gathering; the deadline for registering and getting the discounted registration fees is July 1st. Entering your creations to the event is already over, though, but there is always next year!

Something to Do: Movies

The Anthem of the Heart at JICC, Independence Day: Resurgence, The Neon Demon, and The Call Up gives us a wide range of cinematic goodies to select between this week.

Topping the list from a box office perspective is Independence Day: Resurgence, taking place 2 decades after the original film. Based on the trailer, it looks like the aliens once more manage to wipe out a sizable percentage of the Earth’s population during their attack, but you know I will be in the theater for this one. If nothing else, the trailer also makes it obvious that some of the visual effects, especially the combat scenes, will require the big screen to see them fully and completely they way they were intended. The Call Up is a British movie where a group of gamers are invited to try a new VR game, only to discover some of them will die before they can get out of it again. At least one reviewer compared it to Gantz, so I may have to check it out, although I will probably wait since the trailer on this one did not look like it needed the big screen. While I am not a horror fan, The Neon Demon looks stylish and interesting enough (complete with a visual referent in the trailer to another stylish horror/thriller I dearly love, the 1982 remake of Cat People) that I may need to see it as the thriller it started life as. This is also the first Amazon Studios project I became aware of that will be available in theaters before you can stream it online. That isn’t to say there aren’t others before this, but only that this is my first time to notice one.

There is also an Anime in extremely limited release this Friday that was nominated for Best Animation at the 2016 Japan Academy Awards: The Anthem of the Heart. Once a very happy girl, Jun said something when she was very young that tore her family apart. The Egg Fairy (more of a Kami really) appeared before her and sealed away her words in order to stop her from hurting anybody else. Years later she finds herself in a situation which gives her the strength to fight her way back to communicating with the world again. The author, Mari Okada, was awarded the 16th Animation Kobe Award (Individual Award) for her output in 2011, which included such titles as Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day and Fractale, among others. She has two Anime shows currently streaming from Japan, The Lost Village and Kiznavier, and if you are a fan of anime I guarantee she has written for at least one of your favorite shows over the last few decades. When I said this was in extremely limited release, I wasn’t kidding; you will only be able to see it at the Japan Information and Culture Center theater, which is part of the Embassy of Japan in Washington D.C., at the moment. It has played at a number of other theaters in the US in the past (maybe 20 or so nation wide) and it will no doubt be available to stream or buy sometime in the next year in North America for those like me who can never afford to buy the imported disc. If you do make this showing, perhaps we will get a chance to chat before or after the program.

Something to Watch: Discs

In Movies Midnight Special has a father and son running from everyone from religious extremists to federal agencies because of the boys special powers. The Criterion Collection is re-releasing a special edition blue ray of the classic European animated feature film Fantastic Planet. In Anime Cross Ange: Rondo of Angel and Dragon, Collection 1 brings the first 12 episodes of the story of the princess turned combat killer who may be on her way back to her former kingdom to serve up a little justice. And that appears to pretty much be it for this week; hopefully we will do better next.

OLDCODEX

OLDCODEX is one of the bands playing the Anisong World Matsuri in just two weeks, so this seemed like a good time to share some of their music. The first track is Walk, the ending theme from the Anime Kuroko’s Basketball, the second is Aching Horns from the Anime Feature Film High Speed! -Free! Starting Days-, and the third track Feed A isn’t in an Anime, I just like it…

VR: BBC Click 360, First Comlete Episode

BBC Click put together the first ever TV episode recorded entirely in 360 degrees for VR headsets, although it can also be viewed on the desktop or with a mobile phone. They have a bunch of good content, like a helicopter ride to a glacier, a glimpse of computer game SUPERHOT, and a visit to the world’s largest physics experiment (CERN, of course). But I particularly liked the bit where they told us how they made the show, with some ideas about how the rest of us could get into creating our own 360 videos.

What’s Overhead?

Yes, I am going to add an Orbital Report here, and this is my first attempt, embedding it in a page rather than inserting a widget into the sidebar. If I get this part working properly, I will go for the widget. Assuming I can compress it down enough to fit without losing the raw data or the readouts.

Track ISS, everything is default, except the NORAD id:

Track ISS, Hubble, NOAA, small widget (use the drop-down to select the satellite:

Track Funcube, large widget, don’t care if next pass is optically visible or
not:

Anisong World Matsuri

The Anisong World Matsuri takes place July 2nd and 3rd as part of Anime Expo, pretty much North America’s most intense Anime Con. The musical line up is amazing, with 9 artists including:

Eir Aoi (Fate/Zero, Sword Art Online, Kill la Kill, more)
Flow (Naruto, Eureka seveN, more)
JAM Project (MACROSS 7, One Piece, Yu-Gi-Oh!, over 100 more)
Luna Haruna (Sword Art Online I and II, Monogatari, more)
Minami (Haruka Suzumiya, Infinite Stratos, Mobile Suit Gundam Age, more)
OLDCODEX (GODEATER, Free, more)
Sphere (Demon King Daimao, Class of Heroes 2, more)
T.M.Revolution (Rurouni Kenshin, Bleach, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, more)
Yoko Ishida (Ah! My Goddess, Sailor Moon R, Strike Witches, more)