The Weather Channel’s amazing new “Immersive Mixed Reality”

The Weather Channel this week introduced new technology that will add astonishing visual effects to their broadcasts. Check out this Co.Design article, with video, where you can see a demo in which the anchorman barely escapes being crushed by a flying car and struck by a downed power line during a tornado. It’s startlingly realistic.



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Homage in The Shape of Water – Monsters who like candy

Colonel Strickland, the cruel government agent who pulled the amphibious fish/man out of the river muck in South America, continually crunches on green (lime?) hard candy throughout The Shape of Water.

Strickland isn’t cinema’s only early-’60s  antagonist with a sweet tooth, though. Who could forget Psycho‘s Norman Bates, the mama’s boy with a taste for candy corn? (shown here nervously chewing away as he disposes of Marion Crane’s car, her freshly-showered body in the trunk)

Candy adds an intriguing dimension to these two tormented monsters. It makes them somehow vulnerable, possibly even childlike. The line separating the truly evil from the rest of us becomes a little more blurred.

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Homage in The Shape of Water – Odessa Steps

The last movie we watch in my film studies class every spring is always whatever has won the Academy Award for Best Picture that year. This year we’re watching The Shape of Water. This is a really brilliant movie, and I have so many things I’m thinking about in response that I want to write a longer essay/article this summer. In the short term, just to give myself an outlet right away, I’m going to post small items I’ve noticed and am mulling over.

One thing I want to look at in this film is homage. I’ve written about “homage” before; you can read that post for additional background if you like (here, for example). If you read reviews of The Shape of Water, you can see that others have noted some of the more direct film references (like Elisa dancing with her mop à la Fred Astaire dancing with the coat rack in Royal Wedding). I’ll probably talk about those, too.

But today I just thought I’d post some screenshots of a little thing I noticed. Below is a screenshot from the Odessa Steps scene in Battleship Potemkin, Sergei Eisenstein’s 1927 classic portrayal of a real life massacre of innocent civilians by government troops as punishment for feeding the starving sailors out on the ship just beyond the docks. This is the mother whose baby carriage careens down the staircase after she is shot in the stomach. Note the close-up of her hands and the blood oozing out as she clutches herself.

The second is a screenshot from the last scene in The Shape of Water, where Elisa has been shot in the stomach by Colonel Strickland for trying to help the creature escape the torture he’s been enduring under the government’s (Strickland’s) authority. Note the placement of Elisa’s hands and the blood emerging from her wound as she presses against it with her fingers.

A really small thing, possibly coincidental but appearing quite obvious to me, especially when you consider the similar themes of the two films.

So that’s today’s post, nothing more than a snippet of something I’m thinking about as I continue to ruminate on Guillermo del Toro’s masterpiece. Thanks for reading and thinking about it with me 🙂

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Fog rolling in off Lake Michigan

A foggy start to the day in Milwaukee yesterday morning. Looking east up State Street from the Grohmann Museum.

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Mesmerizing music visualization

I’m reading paper drafts from students in my film studies course, and one of them is writing about baptism/assassination montage in The Godfather. I was pretty sure the music playing through that scene is Bach, but I looked it up just to make sure.

Check out this cool video I found of that music, Bach’s “Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor,” (BWV 582), posted several years ago on YouTube. I love being able to watch the music move through the bars like unscrolling player piano rolls.

And, of course, one can never hear this piece of music again without thinking of that masterpiece of a scene from The Godfather. So here it is, to save you the trouble of searching for it yourself 🙂

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Hemmed in, but still a beacon

For decades Milwaukee’s favorite weather forecast has been the flame atop the Wisconsin Gas Building. It changes color and flashes to announce rising/falling temperatures, snow/rain, or a steady state (no change from current conditions). There’s even a little poem to help you remember:

When the flame is red, warm weather is ahead.

When the flame is gold, watch out for cold.

When the flame is blue, there’s no change in view.

Where there’s agitation, expect precipitation.

The farthest-off white building has been around since the early 1970s, and I think it remains the tallest building in Wisconsin. But the other skyscrapers are new, built within the past 5-10 years. Makes it harder to find our trusty beacon, but it’s still there for all those willing to seek it out.

Looks like we’ll continue warming up. Temps are in the eighties this week. Hard to believe we got several inches of snow and ice just two weeks ago. That’s life in Wisconsin, I guess  🙂

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New Milwaukee Bucks arena changes color as light shifts

Street construction on my usual route to work has me driving past the new Milwaukee Bucks arena from different directions and at different times of day than usual. These literal shifts in perspective have led me to discover something kind of cool: the walls of the arena change color depending on the light.

Here’s a picture from last week Wednesday morning, taken from the west, heading east.

Here’s a picture from last Thursday evening, taken from the north, heading south.

Last night I drove past, from south to north, around 7:20 pm, and that gray was an even more mellow, creamy shade, like a dove’s breast. Traffic was too heavy for me to get a photo. I’ll try if I get another chance.

Clearly the shifts in color have something to do with the light, but I’m not sure exactly what’s going on. Nonetheless, it’s pretty spectacular. Reminds me of how Lake Michigan also constantly changes its appearance, with a different look every single day.

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