Films to Look Forward Too

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Just a follow-up to the last article with some new films. It’s been pretty exciting as some of the ones on the last list started rolling out, and hopefully most of these will make it as well. As always, I don’t knows if any of these will be any good, but they’ve captured my attention to the point where I had to make a note of them.

Let me know if I missed any.

Aaron Swartz – The Internet’s Own Boy
Documentary on internet pioneer and activist Aaron Swartz. Anticipated early 2014.

The Archive Documentary
Can’t find a lot of into on this one, but there’s a “part 1″ of it about the Internet Archive (which you can find hosted there for download). Release unknown.

Computer Chess
Interesting fictional film shot on black and white video about 80′s geeks programming chess computers. The technology behind the filming almost interests me more than the plot. Currently screening.

Downloaded
Documentary about digital media and the file-sharing generation. Currently screening.

From Bedrooms to Billions
Documentary on the video game pioneers located in the UK. Anticipated late 2013.

The Gamer Age (previously Beyond the Game)
Documentary exploring gamer culture from many different angles. Currently screening.

Hackers in Uganda – A Documentary
Documentary about hackers contributing technical education and equipment in Uganda. Currently filming, anticipated early 2014.

High Tech, Low Life
Documentary following two Chinese citizen journalists as they travel the country. Anticipated 2013.

Inside the Dragon’s Lair
Documentary focusing on the legacy and history of the groundbreaking LaserDisc-based ’80s arcade game. Currently filming.

The Space Invaders: In Search of Lost Time
Documentary about classic arcade game collecting, but also focuses on arcade culture. Recently released.

UNDER THE SMOGBERRY TREES: The True Story of Dr. Demento
Documentary about the legendary DJ, Dr. Demento. Anticipated 2014.

The Video Craze
Documentary focused on ’80s arcade culture. Anticipated late 2013.

Video Games – The Movie
Documentary about the video game industry and culture resulting from it. Anticipated late 2013.

We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks
Documentary about WikiLeaks and US government security breaches. Already has a large number of negative reviews. Anticipated 2013.

Documentaries I’d Like to See Before I Die (Or Everyone Forgets)

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

I’d like to think that I have something of a second nature when it comes to whether or not there is a documentary made or in production for any of my disjointed hobbies and interests. It’s not one of those skills you showcase in your job interview, but I seem to have this knack for religiously crawling the web in search for films I think I’d enjoy. Surprisingly, and to my great pleasure, a lot of these fringe interests I posses already have films about them. Awesome. However, there are a few that simply do not- or, have a film that doesn’t satiate my particular appetite.

So, for my sanity, I made a list of the topics I’d personally like to see filmed. And, in some cases, some topics I’d probably find gratification in filming myself.

Written below is that very list. Think of this more as a way of me getting the thoughts from my head to paper as opposed to a list of full-bodied explanations and fleshed-out ideas.

Demoscene. There are already a few demoscene documentaties out there. For example, The Demoscene Documentary is about the demoscene in Finland and Moleman 2 is a demoscene documentary focusing mainly on Hungary. While these are in fact good films, they each have a specific scope. From what I gather, the demoscene can be radically different from country to country, making it difficult to understand as a whole when only presented with a few of its parts. I’d propose an episodic piece showcasing the demoscene in a variety of countries – each country having its own segment. While these existing documentaries have touched on Finland and Hungary, there are still Germany, USA, Denmark, and Norway to consider (and probably others).

Bitcoin & Digital Currency. We’ve all heard of Bitcoin by now, especially as it makes waves at it’s current high value. However, Bitcoin itself has an interesting past and makes an interesting statement. If you do any detective work about how Bitcoin came to be, you will be sucked up into a mysterious story about how nobody knows the identity of the creator or what happened to him. The conspiracy theories are vast and plenty. We also touch on the interesting issue of an unregulated worldwide currency, governments attempting regulation, bitcoin-mining malware botnets, attacks on exchanges, etc. How about how crazy some people go with their mining setups? Dozens of caseless computers fillied with graphics cards- a cyberpunk daydream turned reality. How about using FPGAs and these new ASIC rigs? Now, that’s just bitcoin. There are numerous other digital currencies out there such as the newer litecoin, or even e-gold (Created in 1996). Digital currency has been around longer than most people think.

Cypherpunk. The cypherpunk movement does for cryptograhy what the cyberpunk scene did for personal computing. While cypherpunks have been around for decades, the interest within the scene has been renewed and pushed towards the mainstream more recently. Going back to “A Cypherpunk Manifesto” and the cypherpunk mailing list, we see early discussions of online privacy and censorship, paving the way for Bitcoin, Wikileaks, CryptoParty, Tor, 3D-printing of weaponry, etc.

Usenet. Started in 1980, Usenet is a system for users to read and post messages. Usenet can be seen as the precursor to internet forums, and is much like a Bulletin Board System in theory except it is distributed among many servers instead of a central authority. As time goes on, Usenet continues to grow in bandwidth usage, now generating terabytes of traffic a day. This is mostly through binary file transfers as opposed to messages. Despite many main ISPs deciding to remove Usenet access from their internet services, many still seek out paid access.

Pirate Radio UK. While Pirate Radio USA and Making Waves do a fantastic job at covering pirate Radio in the US, I haven’t seen much of an effort to show off pirate radio in the UK. From what I’ve gathered, there are an uncountable number of pirate radio stations across the pond, and it’s a different game when compared to the US. At the peak of pirate radio’s popularity, there were near 600 stations active in the UK while there are presently 150, mostly based in London. Here’s a mini piece from Vice.

Darknet. Not in regards to file sharing. More covering the darknet as a blanket term for an independant or ad-hoc network with some sort of disconnection from the internet. Considering topics like Hyperboria and CJDNS, Tor and the Deep Web, Meshneting for fun or necesity, Tin-Can, and so-on. As the hardware becomes less expensive and more devices have networking abilities, creating a scalable network becomes a more achievable task.

Dyson. I feel that James Dyson doesn’t get as much credit as a revolutionary engineer as he deserves. Dyson focuses on improvement: taking the wheel and making it better. No pun intended, but his first success was the creation of a fiberglass wheelbarrow that used a ball instead of a wheel. Afterwards, he famously created over 1000 prototypes for a new vaccuum cleaner using cyclone technology after noticing problems with his Hoover. Dyson repeatedly uses creative thinking and pulls inspiration from unlikely sources.

Raspberry Pi. While the Raspberry Pi was not necessarilly a unique and new concept, it was certainly one of the most well executed. We have seen other incarnations of plug computers such as the Beagleboard or the Sheevaplug, but the Raspberry Pi’s addition of integrated video sets it apart. And, at the price of $30, makes it incredibly affordable. Many would argue that what makes the Pi so special is the community that has formed around it, and not necessarily the hardware that ties it together. Everyone stretches their imagination and expertise: if it can be on the Pi, it should. Aside from the community, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has been done an incredible job at cultivating the technology and inspiring the next generation of young programmers and hardware hackers.

Kickstarter. There have been documentaries in the works that focus on crowdfunding, but I’m not as interested in the crowdfunding movement as much as I am in Kickstarter the company. While Indie GoGo has been around for a longer time, they do not seem to be held together as tightly. Kickstarter seems like not only an interesting company, but one that holds itself, and those who utilize its services, to a high standard.

QUBE. Here’s an odd one for that likely nobody has heard of. QUBE was the first interactive TV station, started in 1977 in Columbus, Ohio. Residents who subscribed to the cable service received a device that looked something like a calculator that allowed them to communicate back to the station during shows. Aside from the interactive feature, QUBE was on the forefront of pay-per-view programming and special interest content. QUBE soon went bankrupt and dissolved in the early 1980s. As a bit of an aside, I think I actually tried contacting the webmaster of that site a while back to ask if I could get a copy of the “QUBE DVD” for archiving but didn’t get a reply. Let’s hope he/she runs Webalizer or Google Analytics and sees some referrer traffic. Maybe it’ll be enough to spark a conversation.

So here ends my list. While the majority of these ideas are feasible, I can’t help but think a few might end up slipping too far and too fast into obscurity before their time. Other ideas on here might be too early in their lives. Doing something now, or even within the next decade, would only show a small part of the eventual picture.

Do I expect any of these to be made? Not particularly. But you never know.

Everyone gets lucky once in a while.

Rethinking Video Part Three

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

Been a while since I’ve done one of these. You may remember in the last part of this series of articles, I hinted at a documentary I was doing (It’s posted below, but you can check it out here if you don’t want to wait). This was April, seven whole months ago.

I got busy. That happens with life and I wish it didn’t. On top of that, my computer couldn’t handle the high definition video that I wanted it to. I wish it could have, but it couldn’t.

The documentary in question is about my friend and his barn. For a little background, he lives in a house that was built around the time of the American Civil War, and the property also includes a barn from the same era. Back then, my whole town was farm land (apparently my property 30 seconds away was part of an orchard) but now the original properties have been substantially broken down for housing. From what I’ve seen, his is the only one in town to include the original barn. Anyway, I called him up and asked him if he’d be interested in letting me do some filming to test out my camera. He agreed.

Now, it’s important to note that this filming had no plan. I came over and told him to just start talking. We didn’t hash out too much of a story, there wasn’t any logic to the way the footage was shot, and we concluded filming when there wasn’t enough light to go any further. Having said that, don’t expect the resulting documentary to follow any logical flow. It was more an act of shooting as much as possible, and then seeing if I could somehow work all the footage together in a way that made sense. In this regard, I think it came out well.

Let’s talk about where I messed up. For one, lighting. I brought a measly halogen light when I went to film, but quickly abandoned it. It made absolutely no difference whatsoever in illuminating the room. I probably could have produced better footage had I handled the ISO settings better, so that’s something to take into consideration for next time. Really though, it’s difficult to get a good sense of things when you have only a two inch screen to look at and adjust with. On top of this, I also purchased an inexpensive NEEWER LED lighting rig that sits on top of the camera. Though off-brand and cheap, it’s particularly bright and comes with several gels so it should help out tremendously. A smaller mistake I made was where I had my friend looking when on camera. While I tried to follow the rule of thirds as best as I could, I didn’t know about having the subject look to the far side of the camera. If you have him look at the edge of the screen he’s on, it’s as if 2/3 of the screen is wasted. Unfortunately, it’s something that you cannot unsee after it is pointed out to you. Lastly, I had some problems in audio. While I did monitoring with headphones, it was difficult to gauge the sound quality when I could hear everything from outside the headphones as well as through them. Ultimately, I’ll probably get a pair that do noise cancellation. I’m also interested in getting an inexpensive shotgun microphone for something a little more directional.

For editing, I ended up completely building a new computer from scratch. The process and all the little details can be found here, so give that a glance if you have not already. While I did a rough edit on my laptop, it would frequently crash and I could not get an fine edit because the playback was so choppy. This new rig does the job nicely and cuts through the video like a warm knife. Now, I started editing this in Sony Vegas and that’s what I finished in. For future projects, I am hoping to switch to Adobe Premiere. I’m a bit sick of Vegas at this point, especially after finding a glitch wherein I cannot render using the beefy GPU I got for the build. Anyway, I feel the editing went well. I’m not fantastic at color correcting. I did some minor correcting and light balancing, but some of the footage was hard to do anything with since it was so dark.

Below is the final edited video if you care to check it out. I originally planned to do a few of these mini documentaries, but it took so long to do one and I ultimately ran out of time to follow through with anything else. While I had some problems with this project, I can say that few of these issues would effect how I do Obsoleet or any similar tutorial-based segment. I recently created a segment for The New Tech which will pop up soon with any hope, and I can now turn my attention more towards this type of content once again. Let’s just hope real life tones it down a little.

Films to Look Forward To

Saturday, October 13th, 2012

I often have a hard time finding movies to watch these days. I’m a big fan of documentaries, but even my long list of niche interests doesn’t always help me find something to watch that I have a genuine interest in. Fortunately, we live in a fantastic age when viewed from a media-centric perspective. If you look at the number of independently produced films from ten or even five years ago, you probably will not find as much as you could hope for. With low cost, high quality video equipment and crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter and IndieGogo, even someone with a shoe-string budget can pump out a fantastic picture.

Having said that, I’ve been trying to throw some money at these crowd-funded film projects to reserve my copies for when the  films are completed. I’ve been closely following others which are produced without this aid. At the end of the day, I have a big list of films I’m anticipating and I thought I’d toss them all up in one page for those that may have similar tastes.

Now as I said, many of these films are crowd-funded. Crowd-funded projects do not always stick to schedule, and do not always get finished. It’s sad, but it’s the way of the world. With that little disclaimer out of the way, I try not to put my faith in anything that looks fly-by-night or generally poorly executed. Anything I have listed here appeared solid enough for me to trust them with a little bit of my money.

In all, I am waiting for 27 films to come out (mostly documentaries). Since this is a weird number, I’ve listed three more films which have already come out this year as a “bonus” to give the list a push to a more respectable count of 30.

Hopefully you can find something you’ll want to pursue.

The List

The 6502
Documentary about the 6502 chip and assembly programming. By Jason Scott. In Production, anticipated late 2015

8 Bit Generation
A documentary about retro computing and retro gaming, complete with interviews of some key players. All information about this film seems to have stopped last year, and nobody knows the current status. The domain stopped resolving a little bit ago, and many of the pre-orders are being automatically refunded as they are timing out. Possibly completed, originally anticipated late 2012.

Adjust Your Tracking
Documentary about modern VHS collecting and the VHS collecting community. In production, anticipated early 2012.

Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie
Long awaited movie for the Angry Video Game Nerd, based off the web series of the same name. In production, anticipated Summer 2013.

Arcade
Documentary about arcades (the places, not the video games in them). By Jason Scott. In production, anticipated lat 2015.

Arcade: The Last Night at Chinatown Fair
Documents the last week of Chinatown Fair, NYC’s last arcade. In production, anticipated 2012

Capital C
Documentary about the crowd-funding phenomenon. In production, anticipated early 2013

Cassette
Documentary on the past, present, and future of the cassette tape from a musical perspective. In production, anticipated early 2013.

Code 2600
Documentary about the rise of the information age and the people who shape it. Currently Screening, no DVD release date yet.

Ctrl+Alt+Compete

Microsoft produced documentary about the start-up scene, focusing on five companies and their founders. In post production, no release date.

DEF CON Documentary
Documentary focusing on the DEF CON conference and the people who make it up. By Jason Scott. To be available as a free download or purchasable physical copy. In production, anticipated late 2012

Hackitat
A film about the politics behind hacking and freedom of the internet. In production, anticipated early 2014.

Here Come the VideoFreex
Documentary about the 1970’s video collective and their archive of tapes. In production, anticipated late 2013.

The King of Arcades
Documentary about Richie Knucklez and his arcade. In production, anticipated early 2013

Minecraft: The Story of Mojang
Documentary about the Mojang studio and the development of Minecraft. In post production, anticipated early 2013.

Persistence of Vision
Documentary about Richard Williams’ lost film, The Thief and the Cobbler. Currently screening, anticipated 2013.

Pure Pwnage – Teh Movie
Feature film based off of the Pure Pwnage web series. Set to pick up after the original series. In production, no current release date.

Reboot
Short cyberpunk film about a female hacker who will die if she cannot figure out the code on the iPod strapped to her hand.Currently screening, no DVD release date yet.

ReMade
Documentary about the maker movement and hackerspaces. In production, no release date.

Rewind This!
Documentary about the home video revolution and our relationship with media. In production, anticipated 2013.

Tape
Documentary about the medium of tape. By Jason Scott. In production, anticipated late 2015.

TPB AFK
Documentary about the founding and members of The Pirate Bay. In production, anticipated early 2013.

Two Hands Project
Documentary about hackerspaces. Being edited by Jason Scott. No release date.

Viva Amiga
Documentary about the Amiga computer. In Production, anticipated 2013.

We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists
Documentary about the Anonymous movement. An unfinished version has leaked on the web. Currently screening, digital download and physical copy anticipated late 2012.

The Wireless Generation
A documentary about how people are taking jobs that are solely online and travel the world. In production, anticipated late 2013

Zero Day
A documentary about cyber crime as seen by the security team at Facebook. In production, anticipated Summer 2013.

Bonus

Ecstasy of Order: The Tetris Masters
A documentary about competitive Tetris playing. It’s actually much more interesting than it sounds. The whole documentary follows tracking down the best players, and culminates with one definitive competition to name the master. Currently available for digital download and DVD.

Indie Game: The Movie
A documentary about independent game development. I happened to really enjoy it, though some people thought the interviewees were pretentious. It still gives an interesting look into the world of independant game development. Currently available for digital download, physical copies are available for pre-order.

Video Game High School
Okay, it’s not a film but Freddie Wong co-produced this comedy/action web-series this summer. The story takes place in a video game dominated version of the present day, and revolves around a high school student who gets accepted to the prestigious Video Game High School after killing a top player in an FPS.  The episodes are available streaming online in high definition for free, and DVD/Blu-Ray is available for pre-order.