8 posts categorized "Film"

July 18, 2008

Lessons from WALL-E

As the father of an (absolutely adorable) baby girl, I don't get to go to the theater much. Though I hope my little girl doesn't grow up too fast, I'm looking forward to the time when I can take her to the movie and not have to worry about whether she can sit through the entire thing. As such, I've never seen Pixar's latest movie, WALL-E, but today I read an interesting review that got me thinking about the way today's Web tools allow us to communicate without the closeness that personal contact affords.

"I wasn't trying to make the humans into fat, lazy consumers, but to make humanity appear to be completely consumed by everything that can distract you—to the point where they lost connection with each other, even though they're right next to each other." - Andrew Stanton, Director of WALL-E

The Internet allows us to reach out to a wider audience. However, more people, more companies, more products, more desires are competing for our attention and our time than ever before. It can be difficult to form and sustain meaningful relationships if we don't set eyes upon each other... if we don't talk to each other... if we don't, on occasion (even if you're not as touchy-feely as some) go see a movie together.

While in a way we are more connected than ever and some of the Web's tools, such as ooVoo and iChat, are meant to help provide more familiar and meaningful interactions than MySpace or Facebook currently afford, they can only take things so far.

I've witnessed warm conversations online, and some people are such excellent writers that they can suck you into their worlds and make you feel like you are there, feeling what they feel. But, as an old hand at online political debates, I've more often witnessed people talking toward each other online in ways they'd never even consider talking to each other in person. Online social media can sometimes be our decorum-dampener.

Let's not forget to peek up from our computers from time to time. It's easier to remind ourselves about how we ought to treat people if we are more convinced that they're human, because we've seen it with our own eyes. - Cam Beck

July 14, 2008

More Hellboy 2 Pod-Busting

Feed readers click through to watch videos.

American Gladiators on USA

Chuck on NBC (Part 1)

Chuck on NBC (Part 2)

Reality TV
Not sure what this is for, but it would work on a reality show like Project Runway or American Idol (though either of them would be more effective if they casted the actual judges).

- Cam Beck

Related Article: Supertargeted Television Advertising

December 18, 2007

Less is More

Last night my wife and I went to go see I Am Legend.  Now, I know what you're thinking, "Wow, John, last night was Monday, you must be living in the fast lane to go see a movie outside of Friday or Saturday." To which I reply, "I know, faithful reader, I know."

I think I started seeing trailers for the movie back in the summer and it quickly raised my intrigue.  I'm a sucker for mass chaos, military strikes and fear of the unknown, so this movie had three check marks in my book.  I think the main reason that I wanted to see the film was that the trailer gave me enough that I really wanted more. Take a look for yourself.

What  Warner Bros does really well is that they don't play their cards until you actually see the movie.  Less is actually more in that they don't let you see what is keeping Will Smith company in the trailer.  This tactic reminds me of the Microsoft iPod packaging spoof that reminds all of us that white space is not always a bad thing.  In fact, it can often help your product stand out and break through the clutter. - John Herrington

*For those of you wondering, I Am Legend is outstanding and worth the money to see it in a theater.

May 25, 2007

This Blog Has Been Taken Over by Pirates

Don't worry. I'm sure we'll be back by Monday. - Cam Beck


February 27, 2007

Truth in Advertising, Part II

I don't know that this ad is truly made by or for the benefit of Monster.com, but if it was, you have to wonder if it's a product of self-realization, contempt, or both.

Hat tip to Sean Howard for providing the link to the video. - Cam Beck

December 21, 2006

Jakob Nielsen at the Movies

Jakob_ok_small I am on the record as being a great admirer of Jakob Nielsen. However, there have been times where I have been critical of some of the things he has written. Whether I was being critical or doting, though, I openly wondered if he perhaps lacked the ability to express enjoyment of anything or if the language barrier was just a little too much for him to overcome. However, I had a lot of fun with his most recent article.

This week, Nielsen wrote about the "Top 10 Bloopers" of computer usability in the movies, where he describes how Hollywood mischaracterizes how humans really interact with computers in television and movies. As one on the forefront of usability testing, Nielsen would certainly know if mistakes are made.

When you know only a little about something, it's difficult to catch these mistakes. When you know a lot about something, the mistakes tend to stand out, and it's difficult to restrain  yourself from groaning out loud. You can't help yourself, but you do your best to overlook the snafu as an element the artists believed necessary to tell the story.

Here are some interesting ones from Nielsen's list:

  1. Access Denied / Access Granted. Whenever someone tries to crack a security-enabled system, we are treated to one of these two messages, when in reality, we would normally just be granted access without the message.
  2. Big Fonts. Usually in conjunction with the point above, but always big enough for the audience to read.
  3. You've Got Mail is Always Good News. (Bruce Almighty notwithstanding) In reality, we get so many emails that answering them can be a chore, especially when we have to sort through all the spam to pick out the ones that may be of interest to us.

Movies are full of such errors and implausible plot details. Nielsen cites one of my favorites, "[Y]ou'd imagine...that the ability to shoot straight might actually be a primary job requirement of Imperial Stormtroopers."

Are these errors really important? Surely, the movies are a little easier to follow, but Nielsen observes that people have a tendency to believe that, if they can't find or do something on a computer system, it's their fault, not the program's, and movies that inaccurately portray a usability utopia further ingrain the psychological willingness to keep plugging away instead of demanding systems that are easier to use.

All of that may be true, of course, but filmmakers are in the business of making movies, not solving our problems. It's our job to make the systems usable. - Cam Beck

October 06, 2006

What Can't Google Do?

For those who have been living in a cave, Google is reported to be in talks to buy YouTube for about $1.6 billion. Although I know their accounting wonks have to do a cost-of-capital analysis, it has to be comforting for them to know that, with $10 billion in the bank at the end of June, they could pay cash for the online video gorilla.

Now, as a personal maxim, I will never feel sorry for billionaires who get outsmarted in the marketplace, but this move has me thinking that Bill Gates can't win for losing. I mean, besides having a net worth of $48 billion. Besides that, the guy is the Bad News Bears of business.

First, he's known to have been upset that Apple beat Microsoft to the marketplace with a media player and music download service. Second, he's also known to covet consumer Internet applications. Practically owning the word processing and office application suite market, he realized such pricey options would become outdated and that Internet applications are the future of computing. Yet Microsoft had to watch helplessly as Google purchased a great word-processing Internet-based application, Writely, and further encroached into Microsoft Office's territory with free online spreadsheet, e-mail, and calendaring applications. On top of that, Microsoft had to undergo lawsuit after lawsuit around the world as well as a public "brain-drain" as some of its top talent bolted for Google.

Just when it looked like Microsoft might get something right with the release of its media player, Zune, and its corresponding media download service (which would include, one presumes, movies), Google is looking to change the rules again, and Microsoft has to be afraid of what that means.

Why? YouTube holds almost half of all traffic for online video sites. Google video holds 10%, but Google, as the dominant search engine, is perfectly poised to be top video distribution network simply by virtue of the fact that nearly everyone visits there. Apple has about 3/4 of the music download service market. With these ubiquitous services, what compelling benefit can Microsoft possibly offer to get people to change?

I don't think Microsoft will be satisfied if it is only able to capture a 10% share of the video download market, but as they have surely noticed by now, Google is nimble enough to dance circles around Microsoft, but too big to be pushed around by the software giant. Which such strengths, is there anything Google is incapable of doing? - Cam Beck

April 07, 2006

You know all about my serious @#% problem with pirates ...

A friend, knowing what a fan I am, not just of the pirates but also of workplace shenanigans, sent me this link the other day:


It wasn't until I came across the video featuring the Abraham Lincoln impersonator, though, that I TRULY appreciated the site.

I would probably best describe it as "The Onion" meets "Office Space." It's a humor site for the laddies, basically - like FHM or Maxim, with the boobie quotient ratcheted down to an almost safe-for-work level - with videos, ribald jokes, links to other sites. office shenanigans, etc.

So I googled the term "Office Pirates" -- cause that's the kind of guy I am (and I'll google you too if you're not careful) -- to see what I could find out about this site.

Imagine my shock and awe when I discovered that this is a Time, Inc. venture. (It feels very un-Time Inc.-ish -- note the office shenanigans, pirates and Lincoln impersonators previously mentioned.)

Seems Time Inc. has hired Mark Golin, a former editor of Maxim magazine, to head up this 'net-only venture, aimed at that young male demographic that Maxim tapped into so successfully back in the first half of this decade.

Among the advertisers on the site: Dodge, Best Buy and ... who'd have thunk it? ... beer.


Time Inc. has just pared its staff on the traditional side of the business by 200 or so, but they've also said they plan on investing more online (Is it hot in here? Or is it 1999?). This seems to be one of their first efforts behind that thrust.

And I see they're using Vignette Storyserver to manage their content. Hmm ... Interesting ... Provacative ...

On a side note: Research for this article led me to do a You Tube search for videos featuring "Abraham Lincoln," which, while it probably won't be "officially" "sanctioned" by your "workplace," I would still "highly recommend." - Harley Jebens