Posts for January 2007

That's quite a mess

Proceeding with the good housekeeping I promised myself to look into in January, here's — finally — an update to the Land of Shapes, my design & photography portfolio. The site itself may be the exact opposite of webdesign correctness this century, containing all major offenses imaginable (a pop-up window, frames, iframes, table layouts, etecetera), but I like this design so much I once again will stick with it, and I can't be convinced to waste my time replacing tables with divs since in the end, as the site proved to be working in every browser I tested it, nobody cares. It's meant to be experienced by people, not digested by Google, after all.

Chris Jordan's Running the Numbers, where statistics, photography and Photoshop collide with spectacular (and a bit overwhelming) results. (via Kottke)

The filters

After playing for some time with the Filter Forge beta (the nodal filter creator for Photoshop I mentioned before), I came up with two color correction filters. Behold:

Little Bullet aims to emulate the Magic Bullet Editors color correction plugin for Adobe Premiere. It doesn't feel exactly the same, but does get similar results.

Little Room, although not nearly as comprehensive, does the color manipulations I use most when playing with Develop panel in the Adobe Lightroom beta.

Of course, you need Filter Forge to play with these. In a perfect world, Filter Forge would compile self-contained plugins for Photoshop, along with plugins for After Effects and every other app that does image manipulation via plugins. Of course, that would render Filter Forge worthless for everyone but the odd geek while destroying the whole software plugin market as it got flooded by free Magic Bullet clones made by people with a somewhat basic knowledge of image processing and a few hours' spare time. But then again, the filters I did are just like about 50% of every commercial plugin that exists (and 90% of color manipulation plugins, including the Magic Bullet for Editors color corrector): they just present things the main application already does in a more convenient interface. So there. Filter Forge is fun to play with (if you're into that kind of stuff, mind you), but I imagine one day Adobe will revamp the Actions functionality in Photoshop properly and will render FF irrelevant.

Information ruling the nation

The Internet. Graham was in good form today.

A very big and comprehensive list of video plugins for multiple editing and effects apps.

Very large resolution images, viewable with a Google Maps-like interface. The urban subjects images are quite astonishing, you zoom in and zoom in and zoom in...

Public domain music. "Like iTunes, only better"? They could use a better slogan, though.

Say 'blogosphere' again! Should have bought one of these a few of years ago.

Even though I'm quite suspicious of the whole Dale Carnegie cult, these things are just like a road accident you just can't ignore and look away: How to Network, For Introverts. Advice that might improve your life.

This is why BibliOdyssey is a wonderful wunderkammer of illustration: The Motifs of Understated Architecture. And you thought you were living in a new baroque age... (In related news, here's that belt buckle found at the Castelo de Tomar.)

Some closure

During 2006 I saw 65 different movies at the theatre, excluding festivals. 2005 was an interesting year in which my favourite three movies included a Hollywood film (which would then go to win the Oscar for best movie of the year — perhaps the first time a favourite of mine ever won), a French film and even a Portuguese film. The same thing didn't happen in 2006 though. There were many good American movies, but the European production I got a chance to see here was disappointing when compared to previous years. Here are the three movies I enjoyed the most in 2006:

Me and You and Everyone We Know, by Miranda July. It's such a rich film it's hard to describe in few words, but had me taken by the second minute, in a scene in which the kids are doing ASCII art in front of their computer. In its skeleton, is a simple boy-meets-girl story, but rendered in an delightfully artistic way. Exhibit A in the case to prove narrative and Art in film aren't — and can't — be mutually exclusive.

Children of Men, by Alfonso Cuáron. I believe it'll be seen as the Blade Runner of the next twenty years. Once you get past the somewhat silly main premise you'll see it's just a pretext for one of the most nightmarishly believeable visions of the future ever shot on film. Because it's about now.

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, by Tommy-Lee Jones. In contrast with the other two, here's a straight simple story about a cowboy's quest to bury his friend. But done so very right, touching at times, outrageously funny at others.

Other great movies of 2006 include:

- Match Point, by Woody Allen;
- Munich, by Steven Spielberg;
- Breakfast on Pluto, by Neil Jordan;
- The Departed, by Martin Scorsese;
- Inside Man, by Spike Lee;
- Volver, by Pedro Almodóvar,

So as you can tell, it has been a good year for big-name directors (Spielberg, if you recall what I said last year, once again proves his carreer is one sinewave alternating between genius and utter shit), with an exception of note I'll write further down. But it was also a very good year for some people who are bound to also join the Pantheon of Directing Niceness:

- Good Night, and Good Luck, by George Clooney;
- Marie Antoinette, by Sofia Coppola;
- The Secret Life of Words, by Isabel Coixet;
- Babel, by Alejandro González Iñárritu.

Therefore it seems 2006 is the year of Mexico Triumphant. Don't forget that The Three Burials... is also written by Guillermo Arriaga, Babel's screenwriter. Interesting that the two Spanish movies I did see during the year got both my personal five-star rating.

What about the worst? Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Da Vinci Code, Unknown, Dejá Vú, and The Black Dahlia were the year's canned turds. Let's not forget, these are movies actually worse than X-Men III. I never expect anything good from the likes of Brett Ratner or Ron Howard, but Brian de Palma is 2006 equivalent of Terry Gilliam in 2005.

An aside, I saw Catwoman the other day on television. I couldn't take my eyes off how bad it is. The editing is perhaps the worst I ever seen in a movie.