Saturday, September 15, 2007

Making history...

It was an emotional morning as the entire faculty, staff, and administration of Flashpoint Academy gathered together at our new home, 28 North Clark Street, for one final meeting before opening day. Through the welled-up eyes, thank you's, and appropriate applause for all those who have done so much hard work to make Ric Landry's dream a reality, there was an underlying vibrancy and excitement the likes of which I have never felt before in 17 years of education and 25 years in the audio industry. It was truly moving and I am so proud to help carry the torch of that vision to the people it was meant for, the students of Flashpoint, The Academy of Media Arts and Sciences.

In less than 48 hours, the inaugural class will not only walk into the best media arts college in the world, they will engage in what Paula Froehle rightly describes as the changing face of media arts education. We have said it many times in many ways, but come Monday it will begin—total immersion, learning-by-doing, hands-on, PRODUCTION-IN-ACTION. September 17, 2007 will be a defining moment on the timeline's of film, game, visual effects, and audio training, and soon it will be hard to imagine how it was done before Flashpoint.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Technology timeline...

3500 BC - Written expression [cuneiform script] in Sumer
100 BC - Parchment in Pergamon
105 - Paper, Cai Lun
800 - Feedback controller, Banu Musa
1011 - Camera obscura, Ibn al-Haytham
1450 - Alphabetic moveable type printing press, Johan Gutenberg
1672 - The Magic Lantern, China
1700 - Piano, Bartolomeo Cristofori
1711 - Tuning fork, John Shore
1793 - Optical telegraph, Claude Chappe
1826 - Photography, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce
1837 - Camera zoom lens, Jozef Maximilián Petzval
1856 - Celluloid, Alexander Parkes
1876 - Loudspeaker, Alexander Graham Bell
1877 - Phonograph, Thomas Alva Edison
1877 - Microphone, Emile Berliner
1880 - Roll film, George Eastman
1891 - Kinetoscopic camera [motion pictures], Thomas Alva Edison
1892 - Color photography, Frederic E. Ives
1893 - Wireless communication, Nikolai Tesla
1895 - Radiotelegraph, Guglielmo Marconi
1902 - A Trip to the Moon, George Méliès
1906 - Humerous Phases of Funny Faces [animation on standard film], J. Stuart Blackton
1916 - SMPE, Society of Motion Picture Engineers
1917 - El Apóstol [first animated feature], Quirino Cristiani
1919 - Theremin, Leon Theremin
1922 - Technicolor, Herbert T. Kalmus
1923 - Sound film, Lee DeForest
1923 - Television, Philo Farnsworth
1935 - Hammond organ, Laurens Hammond
1947 - Polaroid camera, Edwin Land
1947 - Reel-to-reel tape recorder, Jack Mullin
1948 - Long playing record, Peter Carl Goldmark
1951 - UNIVAC [first commercial electronic computer], J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly
1951 - Nagra I, Kudelski S.A.
1952 - Floppy disc, Yoshiro Nakamatsu
1954 - FORTRAN, John Backus at IBM
1955 - Hard drive, Reynold Johnson with IBM
1956 - Videocassette recorder, Ampex
1960 - Laser, Theodore Harold Maiman
1961 - Optical disc, David Paul Gregg
1962 - Light-emitting diode, Hick Holonyak
1962 - Spacewar!, Steve Russell
1962 - Compact cassette, Philips
1963 - Computer mouse, Douglas Engelbart
1965 - BASIC, team at Dartmouth College
1967 - Hypertext, Andries van Dam and Ted Nelson
1968 - Video game console, Ralph H. Baer
1970 - RAM, Intel
1970 - SMPTE color bars, Al Goldberg at CBS Laboratories
1971 - Email, Ray Tomlinson
1972 - Pong, Atari Inc.
1973 - Ethernet, Bob Metcalfe and David Boggs
1973 - Personal computer, Xerox PARC
1975 - Microsoft, Bill Gates and Paul Allen
1975 - Digital camera, Steve Sasson
1975 - Industrial Light & Magic, George Lucas
1976 - Apple, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak
1977 - Cellular mobile phone, Bell Labs
1982 - Compact disc, Philips
1983 - Camcorder, Sony
1983 - Internet [first TCP/IP network], Robert E. Kahn and Vint Cerf among others
1984 - Macintosh, Apple
1985 - Windows, Microsoft
1987 - Digital light processing, Dr. Larry Hornbeck at Texas Instruments
1987 - Digital Audio Tape, Sony
1987 - Photoshop, Thomas Knoll
1987 - The Simpsons appear on The Tracy Ullman Show
1989 - Sound Tools [original name for Pro Tools], Digidesign
1989 - World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee
1989 - MP3, Motion Picture Experts Group
1990 - SVGA, Video Electronic Standard Association
1991 - ADAT, Alesis
1991 - Linux, Linus Torvalds
1992 - Power PC 601, Motorola, Apple, and IBM
1992 - DA-88, TASCAM
1993 - Doom, id Software, Midway Games
1994 - PlayStation, Sony
1995 - Java, Sun Microsystems
1995 - Toy Story, Pixar
1996 - Quake, id Software, Midway Games
1997 - Pentium MMX, Intel
1998 - iMac, Apple
1998 - MiniDisc, Sony
2001 - iPod, Apple
2001 - OS X, Apple
2001 - Xbox, Microsoft
2004 - Firefox, Mozilla
2005 - Disney closes all hand-drawn traditional animation facilities
2006 - Vista, Microsoft

September 17, 2007 - the convergence of all the above at FLASHPOINT ACADEMY


Thursday, September 13, 2007

A voice called collaboration...

Perry Harovas [FP Chair of VFX] described in a recent post how The Collector is coming alive as we head toward picture lock. It's true, a few layered ambiences go a long way in creating a willing suspension of disbelief. What we hear is beginning to resemble what we see in a believable way. But there's a funny thing about postproduction; in practice, it follows somewhat of a logarithmic scale. That is to say, what appears to be the last 5% of the process actually requires 100's of times the effort, finesse, patience, and above all, feel.

One of the most satistfying moments in postproduction is when the film finds its voice, both pictorially and sonically. Paula Froehle [FP Academic Dean and Director of the film] worked yesterday with Ai Lene Chor [Editor], placing the narration recordings we did on Monday against picture. There are many small changes. Most are counted in fractions of a second [frames]. Cutting and extending shots, changing lengths of dissolves, and maybe even rearrangement of order. These changes have a dramatic impact on the timeline of the soundtrack, which now needs to be conformed to the new picture cut so that everything remains in sync. Picture work, sound work, picture work, sound work—it seems like minutia, but it's a necessary back and forth as the director creates the voice of the film.

Independently, Perry is digitally crunching 0's and 1's, meticulously designing, creating, and rendering the visual effects, which, in an inverse relationship to my crickets and dogs and street noises, brings to the picture an incredible life that was once just an idea on a storyboard. It's all part of locking it in, and a necessary component for Simeon Peebler [FP Chair of Game Development] as he begins his part of the journey, designing and creating a complimentary interactive game version of the film.

None of this could happen without intense collaboration, and to be sure, none of it is painless. It demands focus and discipline and perspective. Not coincidentally, that's Flashpoint Style.