Thursday, June 27, 2013

Learn Final Cut Pro X TODAY at the New Media Center

Although Media Services is understandably a bit less busy during the summer, the New Media Center is still going at it. Our series of summer training sessions continues today with the popular Final Cut Pro X Bootcamp, a two-hour session that teaches you the ins and outs of one of the most popular video-editing programs.

The bootcamp session starts at 2pm today in the New Media Center. If you've ever wanted to learn how to edit videos with more professional software than iMovie or Live Movie Maker, now's your chance!

If you can't make this session, there will be a few more in the coming weeks, including a few evening classes. Check our schedule for a full list.

No RSVP is required. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Monday, June 24, 2013

Media Services at the Movies: White House Down

The summer blockbuster season is here! "Media Services at the Movies" will look at what big movie is coming out this week, then offer a few movies like it from our collection.

Okay, hear us out on this one.

There was once a time when summer blockbusters were not superhero movies. They were just loud and stupid. And for all their sins, they weren't based on any pre-existing property. You would pay $5 (yes, $5) to see an action hero blow things up for a bit, sometimes with very little plot, and that was it. Most of these movies were made by Roland Emmerich, schlockmeister extraordinaire and one of the highest-grossing directors of all time.

After a series of weird, boring misfires like 10,000 BC and Anonymous, Roland Emmerich has returned to his old wheelhouse for a Channing Tatum movie about the White House exploding. So, whatever, we're okay with that.

Given the insane/stupid nature of most of Emmerich's movies, we don't have too many like them in our collection. But every explosion counts!

The Patriot – HU DVD 347
Independence Day – HU DVD 3111
Lethal Weapon – HU DVD 3591
Point Break – HU DVD 6765
Face/Off – HU DVD 10655
Speed – HU DVD 10859

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Beyond Tony Soprano: James Gandolfini in film and television

No doubt you've read the news about the tragic, young death of James Gandolfini, the actor best for his powerhouse role as Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano. No one doubts that role is one for the ages. But even without The Sopranos, Gandolfini had a large and diverse career, including documentaries about war veterans and children's movies.

If you enjoyed James Gandolfini on HBO, consider watching these other films and television shows that he starred in and produced.

The Sopranos – HU DVD 14030-14037
The Man Who Wasn't There – HU DVD 365
All the King's Men – HU DVD 3662
True Romance – HU DVD 3820
Zero Dark Thirty – HU DVD 6211
In the Loop – HU DVD 7060
Where the Wild Things Are – HU DVD 7208
Romance & Cigarettes – HU DVD 9322
Cinema Verite – HU DVD 10180
Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq – HU DVD 10343
Wartorn: 1861-2010 – HU DVD 10384
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil – HU DVD 10438

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Slim Whitman, musician featured in Mars Attacks!, dies

Here's a sad movie trivia obituary. Slim Whitman, renowned folk yodeler, died today at age 89. Though not exactly a beloved or legendary musician, Slim Whitman has a small place in film lore. In the climactic scene of Tim Burton's 1996 movie Mars Attacks! (DVD 4555), Whitman's "Indian Love Call" is used by the military as the ultimate weapon to defeat the Martian invaders.

Maybe that's a silly legacy for a singer with a career spanning eight decades, especially considering the movie isn't that flattering towards Whitman's yodeling. But if there's a way he'll be remembered decades from now when yodeling is even more out of style, it's through Mars Attacks!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Media Services at the Movies: Monsters University

The summer blockbuster season is here! "Media Services at the Movies" will look at what big movie is coming out this week, then offer a few movies like it from our collection.

Who among us have never, at least once, loved a Pixar film? The Disney-owned studio has nearly two decades of bona fide classics under its belt, a legacy that will hopefully expand with Friday's release of Monsters University. Though Pixar rarely tackles non-Toy Story sequels, Monsters University looks to begin a new trend of continuing beloved movies from years past; a Finding Nemo follow-up is also in the works.

It's understandable that Pixar would want to capitalize on the success of its biggest properties, but the studio's recently spotty track record raises cause for skepticism about whether this is the right time to start franchising its history.

With that said, this week is a great time to re-watch your Pixar favorites.

Finding Nemo – HU DVD 836
The Incredibles – HU DVD 1901
Pixar Short Films Collection, Volume 1 – HU DVD 3341
Ratatouille – HU DVD 3814
WALL-E – HU DVD 4950
Up – HU DVD 6690
Toy Story – HU DVD 7768
Toy Story 2 – HU DVD 7769
Toy Story 3 – HU DVD 7770
Monsters, Inc. – HU DVD 8596
Brave – HU DVD 11021

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Spielberg joins Soderbergh in warning of film industry "implosion"

Pessimism loves company. Roughly a month after now-retired director Steven Soderbergh engaged in an epic-length verbal takedown of the movie industry, Steven Spielberg has followed suit; Hollywood Reporter quotes a foreboding Spielberg warning of the industry's imminent restructuring. The director predicts a number of changes, such as higher ticket prices for pricier blockbusters and the explosion of films through alternatives mediums such as television and video game consoles.

Though Spielberg was not as apocalyptic as Soderbergh, he notes that the industry only needs a few more John Carter-size flops to collapse the business. "There's going to be an implosion," he cautions, "where three or four or maybe even a half-dozen megabudget movies are going to go crashing into the ground, and that's going to change the paradigm." The director speaks from experience: Lincoln nearly would have been produced and released by HBO for cost reasons, and Spielberg is currently working on an exclusive television series for Xbox.

Is this going to happen sooner rather then later? With the international market, even failures in the US are picking up plenty of money abroad to recoup their costs. But keep an eye out: upcoming mega-blockbusters like The Lone Ranger are high-risk gambles that might cost studios more than a couple million dollars.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

IWDRM is a mesmerizing tribute to iconic film images

I've been looking for an excuse to post this for a while, but no good one has come up. Consider it a little Tuesday pick-me-up.

IWDRM is a blog that posts animated stills of famous movie scenes. That sounds confusing, and the results are somewhat confounding too. Pictures on the site combine animation with still photography, lending them a surreal quality that accurately captures the look and feel of each scene. It's difficult to describe, but you'll be hooked. Click the sample picture above to go to their blog and see more.

Sadly, the site has not updated as frequently recently. But there's still hundreds of fascinating GIFs available for viewing right now. See you tomorrow!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Media Services at the Movies: Man of Steel

The summer blockbuster season is here! "Media Services at the Movies" will look at what big movie is coming out this week, then offer a few movies like it from our collection.

Seven years have passed since the last Superman film – 33 years since arguably the last good Superman film. We didn't expect them to get it right this time. Not with a darker tone, and not with the director of 300 in charge. But here's the thing: Man of Steel looks great. Dark superhero movies may be falling out of vogue, but producer Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder's unique, mature take on Superman may have finally nailed down the most intriguing and exciting aspects of the character's story. Henry Cavill might go down at the definitive Superman, which might lead to a lucrative new franchise for Warner Bros.

Superman is one of the cornerstone franchises of DC Comics. We've already hawked for Marvel movies with Iron Man 3, so let's turn an eye to the DC and Zack Snyder films in our collection...

300 – HU DVD 2788
Batman (1966) – HU DVD 4288
Batman (1989) – HU DVD 4701
Batmen Returns – HU DVD 4702
Batman Forever – HU DVD 4703
Batman & Robin – HU DVD 4704
Superman – HU DVD 4877
V for Vendetta – HU DVD 5558
Watchmen – HU DVD 6080
Sucker Punch – HU DVD 10038
Batman Begins – HU DVD 10790
The Dark Knight – HU DVD 10791
The Dark Knight Rises – HU DVD 10792

Thursday, June 06, 2013

"Fitzcardboardaldo" will make any Herzog fan's week

This might be best to share without much context. Experimental artist and puppeteer Robin Frohardt recreated Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo in cardboard. We see creative tributes to movies all the time, but the sheer audacity of this project and its unusual choice of subject are laudable. And ironic, given Herzog's tendency to make movies about impossible dreams and struggles against nature.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

"Slow TV" will test your patience, calm your nerves

When we think about critically acclaimed and popular television, we usually turn to gripping procedurals like Game of Thrones and Mad Men. Compared to other popular sitcoms or dramas, these shows tend to be tense but protracted, using their episodic nature to develop characters and events with chess-like methodology. Many complain that these shows tend to be slow.

Those critics better brace themselves for the birth of "Slow TV."

In the last few years, Norwegian broadcasters have experimented with long-form television broadcasts, using video to broadcast live moods and images rather than plots or characters. They're unlike anything else on TV, but they aren't just experimental provocations. Audiences are responding positively; a recent show about a burning pile of firewood enthralled 20 percent of the country. In a great article about "slow" programs, mental_floss says that "the shows induce both calm and excitement, turning tiny moments into revelations by their contrast with monotonous repetition." In other words, they achieve the same sort of feeling you might get from listening to the ocean, taking a long walk, or reading Walden.

It's doubtful that this genre will make it stateside outside of YouTube videos for obvious reasons, but it's exciting to see artists experiment with the television format. If you want a taste, have a six-hour program about a train ride.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Would you stream your own DVDs? UltraViolet thinks so

As we continue to grow our streaming video collection, the world of digital media continues to evolve. Video service UltraViolet took a bold new step in that direction today by opening a first-ever DVD-to-digital copy program.

That sounds crazy – how can they put every DVD in the cloud? – but it makes more sense than you'd expect. Using some mystical DVD recognition software, the Wal-Mart-sponsored service identifies your movies and allows you to purchase the streaming versions at a discount (typically $2 per movie). This probably will not work with movies outside the UltraViolet collection (including all Disney films).

This isn't exactly a revolution, but it's a notable step in the direction of some sort of digital-physical media convergence. As sales for DVDs continue to sag while new Netflix-style models like the Warner Classic Archive are catching on, studios will no doubt be looking for ways to cater to both experiences. We already see that to some extent with download codes being included with DVDs. But perhaps a future, a DVD will just be a key to accessing videos online.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Media Services at the Movies: The Internship

The summer blockbuster season is here! "Media Services at the Movies" will look at what big movie is coming out this week, then offer a few movies like it from our collection.

No pretenses here: sometimes we're suckers for dumb comedies. Though our staff tends to be split on this, we're frequently okay with movies like Dodgeball and Anchorman (their negative tendencies aside). So naturally, we're greeting a new comedy from schlocksters Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson with... not quite enthusiasm, but maybe lazy acceptance. It'll do. At the least, we're intrigued by its semi-endorsed use of employment at Google as a MacGuffin. Can the guys from Zoolander really work well in a movie about a tech firm?

Just writing this post has brought up some good memories about stupid movies starring the Frat Pack. If you're looking forward to The Internship, you've probably seen these already. But you should see them again!

Bottle Rocket – HU DVD 1449
The Royal Tenenbaums – HU DVD 1937
Rushmore – HU DVD 3856
Tropic Thunder – HU DVD 4985
Wedding Crashers – HU DVD 8445
Night at the Museum – HU DVD 8589
Old School – HU DVD 8779
Anchorman – HU DVD 9144
Zoolander – HU DVD 9766