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Hyper-Reality imagines the hell of our Augmented Reality future

Augmented Reality (AR) is the mixing of the world as we know it with the digital world. Fittingly, it has long blended with videogames. In the popular rhythm game series Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA, if playing on a PlayStation Vita, the player can enable an AR Mode and carefully orchestrate where Miku and her Vocaloid pals are placed in the “real world.” But know this: Miku is not a person. She’s a purely digital pop star, and even plays live concerts as a projected hologram—what some might call the ultimate AR experience. Alongside some odds and ends in miscellaneous Nintendo 3DS…

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The software behind Lord of the Rings’ giant battles now has a playable demo

There’s a reason The Lord of the Rings film franchise took home the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects three years in a row. While many films fall flat in a matter of years, The Lord of the Rings trilogy and it’s approach to CGI still stand firm more than a decade letter. While there were many breathtaking moments throughout the series, the enormous battles with armies thousands strong were consistently glorious, thanks to the simulation software Massive. And now that very same software is available to anyone for a 30-day trial. Watching a short demo video quickly illustrates how…

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Feature

High-Rise; a very British psychopathology

The first time I saw the Barbican Estate in London I was entranced. The layered terraces of pitted concrete, the crisscrossing walkways, those monolithic towers that seemed—as with Petra or Al-Hijr—like they might have been carved out of natural stone. It is rare, especially in a city like London, as layered and complex as a geological event, to walk into such a large space that feels so designed, so ordained. Yet, setting foot in those 20 acres of roughened concrete, I somehow felt that I was stepping into an idea, or an ideal, and out of reality entirely. Even now,…

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Hitchcock’s Psycho is getting a horror game homage

Legendary filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) is a classic. Psycho made waves in a magnitude of ways: like killing off its female lead in the shocking first third in the pivotal shower scene, displaying sex and violence interchangeably within a mainstream film, among other, ever-shadowy film motifs. Psycho is a pure symptom of its time—it was one of few films that combatted the conservative Production Code that stifled Hollywood until 1968. Psycho’s influence is eminent on any modern thriller. In fact, it’d be fair to say that it’s hard to see a thriller that wasn’t influenced by Hitchcock’s seminal film. Shockingly,…

The Little Mermaid
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New study outlines gender inequality in movie dialogue

When film critics discuss the limited types of roles available to women, it can be tempting to try to debunk their arguments by listing counter-examples. “What about Ellen Ripley?” one might say. “What about Furiosa?” Unfortunately, a few well-written roles cannot make up for an overwhelming systemic disparity. The difficulty with this type of counter-argument is that it assumes an all-or-nothing mindset, as if feminists are claiming there are no positive roles for women at all. Rather, feminist critiques often focus on disproportionate lack of opportunity, something that becomes clear in Polygraph’s latest study of how dialogue is distributed among…

idra8
Feature

The loneliness of the professional gamer

If you haven’t heard of Jonathan Sutak, producer and director of The Foreigner, a new documentary about professional StarCraft II (2010), you can take solace in knowing that you’ve probably seen some of his work. Not, mind you, the two independent dramas—Up The River (2015), a romance, and Don’t Worry Baby (2015), a comedy—he’s produced; you haven’t seen those. What you have seen are the many trailers and TV spots he’s edited, for films as far afield as Everest (2015) and Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015). If not exactly a Hollywood insider, Sutak nevertheless approaches filmmaking from the perspective of…

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Feature

Twilight of the Superheroes

In his review of X-Men (2000), Roger Ebert begins with an evocation of the mythological gods of Ancient Greece, and ends with a plea to die hard comic book fans, whom he wishes would “linger in the lobby after each screening to answer questions.” Sixteen years later, viewed from a cinematic present overrun by the cape and cowl, Ebert’s words read as both prescient and portentous. The rise of the superhero blockbuster, beginning in earnest with the release of Spider-Man, in 2002, is comparably bifold, driven by two dissimilar but potent cultural forces: a civilization’s ancient, collective need for a…

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Documentary outlines how Cities: Skylines is being used to plan real cities

Having enjoyed a brief sneak-peek at Austin, Texas’ SXSW art and technology festival last weekend, My Urban Playground is an upcoming documentary from game publisher Paradox Interactive that tells the story of popular city-building game, Cities: Skylines (2015), and the fans who are using it to plan real-world architecture projects. Set over the two years leading up to and following the game’s release, the documentary is planned to cover how architects, politicians, and fans of the game have come together to create new real-world building initiatives. Additionally, the film will also feature interviews with United Nations development group UN-Habitat, which helps struggling…

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Feature

What the hell is Cloverfield, anyway?

It all stands out to me as clear as yesterday. A scrawny, bright-eyed teenager circa ‘07, sat across the aisle with his friends, popcorn gripped between thighs, the SMS touchpads of flip-phones being thumbed impatiently. It’s the opening weekend of Michael Bay’s Transformers and we are ready to see some gigantic robots. Our excited chatter is quickly hushed with the operant cue of the dimming house-lights and the sound of a worn projector sputtering to life. Images of an upscale house party fill the screen—a scene so far removed from our expectations that the question as to whether we were…