Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Two Thoughs On The "No More" Ad

During last night's MNF beat down of the Patriots, this ad or something like it ran:

Two thoughts:
  1. Who are these people? Am I supposed to recognize them?
  2. Every time I see this sort of thing on TV, in my daughter's classrooms, in editorials, or wherever, all I can think is that we're trying to recreate Judeo-Christian morality from scratch with no first principles. Good luck with that. We've been trying that since the libertines took over in the 70s and we've now devolved into ad campaigns like this. If it was going to work, it would have worked by now.

Monday, September 29, 2014

My Favorite Team Has Always Been

The San Diego Padres
The Green Bay Packers
The New Orleans Saints
Newcastle United
Mississippi State*! Go Bulldogs!

You know it's a bad sports year when less than a third of the way into any particular season, watching your team makes you feel like this:

* - I've never been a big fan of college football. I've never been a fan of Mississippi State at all. With my other teams falling to bits, I turned to LSU, who I follow only slightly, and watched them lose to the Bulldogs. I'm not a front runner, having been a Padres, Packers and Saints fan through some terrible years, but this year the teams have all been universally unwatchable.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

In Cave Man Days

... did all the men have ZZ Top beards? How did they shave before the invention of the knife?

Gormok, middle, has discovered the use of sharpened rocks for shaving. Krondar and Oorf, left and right, respectively, have not.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Utilitarians Aren't Happy

Well, not the ones I know.

I've got a friend who is a true Utilitarian. He's always working hard to maximize pleasure and payoff and working hard to minimize pain and effort. He's never happy because he never reaches the maximum and there's always some kind of impediment he has to overcome. Nothing is good enough and every setback is a major annoyance.

Pleasure, I think, is an asymptote.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Restoring Old Movies, Part 2

Here's Part 1,

Definition: Dynamic range is the difference between the whitest whites in a picture and the darkest blacks. In some old videos, like the one I showed from The Adventures of Richard the Lion Heart last time, everything has mushed towards a middle gray, muddling contrasts. Contrasts are what give you discernible features in an image. Without sufficient contrast, everything blurs together into a blob.

Last time, I played with modifying brightness and contrast. I've since found out those are tools for illiterate savages. Brightness takes your pixels and makes them lighter or darker. That may sound fine, but it has a tendency to saturate your extremes. Saturated colors show no features at all since they're, well, saturated and can't get any whiter or darker. Here's an annotated color analysis from one still of that scene where I blundered about with brightness and contrast.

A graph of light intensity on the left and the still image on the right. I left this large, so clicking on it will make the situation more obvious.
Increasing the brightness did indeed give me more dynamic range in the image, but it also smashed the lady's dress right up against the stops. You can see the folds of her gown in the original image, but not in my "improved" one. Dittos for King Richard's hair and clothes on the far right, although they fare a bit better.

You want to increase the dynamic range of the scene so you can get every last drop of contrast out of it and clear things up, but there are better ways of doing it than boosting or quenching every pixel identically. The link above takes you to a tutorial that shows you how to do it with more finesse using Adobe Premiere. Adobe Speedgrade has even better tools than those shown in that tutorial.

Instead of crudely changing every pixel, you can modify them based on where they are in intensity. That is, the bright ones can be modified differently than the midrange ones and differently from the dark ones. Nothing needs to be saturated unless you want it to be, I'm still playing with it and hope to show off some cleaned up video from this scene in the near future. So far, I really like what I'm getting out of it.

What To Look For In A Manager Of Scientists And Engineers

Scientists and engineers can be very sensitive creatures. You need just the right sort to manage them.

Friend and commenter Tom knows where this comes from. ;-)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

3rd Place Out Of 3

I'm playing around with Adobe SpeedGrade this morning, but while perusing the news and drinking coffee, I came across this interview with Matthew Van Dyke recently back from Syria, talking about the airstrikes on ISIS.
“Syrians on the ground are surely laughing at it,” VanDyke said. ”My contacts in Syria don’t take this seriously. They’re very concerned. They don’t want to be fighting the Assad regime’s battles for them by only going after ISIS.”
So we're backing the weakest members of a 3-way civil war with air strikes while being supported by 5 Arab countries and no one else? I'm glad we're doing something, but I can't quite figure out just what that something is supposed to accomplish.