tecznotes

Michal Migurski's notebook, listening post, and soapbox. Subscribe to this blog. Check out the rest of my site as well.

Jul 31, 2009 7:51pm

published author

My first copy of Beautiful Data arrived in the mail today.

This is the first bound-and-printed book-looking thing I've been a part of, thanks to an invitation from Toby Segaran and Jeff Hammerbacher. I'm in the middle with a chapter on Oakland Crimespotting, straddling the color plates and tucked in amongst such luminaries as Jeff Jonas, Aaron Koblin, Jeff Heer, Nathan Yau, Peter Norvig, and others.

The book available now from O'Reilly and Amazon. Author royalties from the sale of this book are being donated to Creative Commons and the Sunlight Foundation.

Jul 11, 2009 11:37am

open paper maps

I'm at State Of The Map, the OpenStreetMap conference. I just finished up a talk that's a little about printed maps, and a lot about Walking Papers.

Here are my slides, now back to the conference:

Jul 2, 2009 2:50am

blog all clipped passages: what was the right speed?

These are excerpts from an article sent to me by Sha after I made an offhand comment about projection speeds of old silent films, thinking of this old view of San Francisco in particular.

Normally I blog all dog-eared pages in books that I read, but now I'm a Kindle owner so I have to use the built-in clipping mechanism to get the same page-marking outcome. It's better to read on, but not as good to mark books with. Possibly this is a moot point, because I haven't actually purchased a book for the Kindle yet - most of all I read things from the web, via Instapaper's Kindle feature.

The most interesting new thing I learned from this was the existence of a tug-of-war between cameramen, projectionists, and theatre owners, all of whom had a variety of ideas about what looked good on screen, what constituted a correct speed, and what was economical to show. I recommend you read the whole thing, but here are a few good bits.

One transfer to media with invariate speeds:

We used a variable speed telecine machine called a Polygon. Because they are virtually obsolete, suitable Polygons in Britain exist only at the BBC- which has both 16mm and 35mm models. Fitted with a 28-sided prism- 'The Flying Ashtray'- the Polygon enables you to transfer film to videotape at any speed from 4 fps to 35 fps.

On differences in equipment:

An Edison film of 1900 will generally project satisfactorily at 24 fps. Edison's rival, the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, used a camera which weighed 1700 lbs. This camera had a motor, and it turned at a speed of 40 fps. ... During the Nickelodeon period, films were projected at whatever speed suited the management. The standard was supposed to be 16 fps.

(Holy shit, what a name: The American Mutoscope and Biograph Company)

On competition between exhibitors and producers:

Projected at the 'correct' speed of 16 fps, a full 1,000 ft. reel of 35mm film would last 16 1/2 minutes. The Essanay Film Company of Chicago tried to beat wily exhibitors by printing the running time of the films on the posters. The exhibitors retaliated by pasting a strip of paper over the line. Some unscrupulous theatre managers could get through a full reel in six minutes! Ten minutes was acknowledged to be 'more usual'. Yet, even today, on standard 24 fps sound projectors, 1,000 feet takes eleven minutes.

On the active role of the projectionist:

A 1915 projectionist's handbook declared- in emphatic capitals- 'THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A SET CAMERA SPEED!' The correct speed of projection, it added, is the speed at which each individual scene was taken- 'which may- and often does- vary wildly.' And it declared: 'One of the highest functions of projection is to watch the screen and regulate the speed of projection to synchronise with the speed of taking.'

On getting used to a higher speed:

While filming Annapolis in 1928, cameraman Arthur Miller received a wire from the studio to crank at 24 fps. He did so, and everyone complained that the speed slowed everything down too much- it was particularly noticeable in a dress parade scene of midshipmen.

On optimization for higher projection speeds:

Talking about comedies, Walter Kerr writes: 'Silent films chose, by control of the camera and through instructions to projectionists, to move at an unreal, stylised, in effect fantasised rate.' And he quotes as examples the last two silent Chaplins- both films designed to be shown at sound speed, but photographed at silent speed (whatever that was!). 'The least glance at Modern Times reveals instantly that all of Chaplin's work in the film... has been filmed at a rate that puts springs on his heels and makes unleashed jack-knives of his elbows. This is how the films looked when they were projected as their creators intended.'

The last excerpt in particular makes me think of tuning for low-end media, such as mixing Beatles songs with shitty AM radio speakers or testing hip hop through cell phones. Where will your work be encountered, and what will it feel like when seen or heard there?

December 2017
Su M Tu W Th F Sa
     
      

Recent Entries

  1. planscore: a project to score gerrymandered district plans
  2. blog all dog-eared pages: human transit
  3. the levity of serverlessness
  4. three open data projects: openstreetmap, openaddresses, and who’s on first
  5. building up redistricting data for North Carolina
  6. district plans by the hundredweight
  7. baby steps towards measuring the efficiency gap
  8. things I’ve recently learned about legislative redistricting
  9. oh no
  10. landsat satellite imagery is easy to use
  11. openstreetmap: robots, crisis, and craft mappers
  12. quoted in the news
  13. dockering address data
  14. blog all dog-eared pages: the best and the brightest
  15. five-minute geocoder for openaddresses
  16. notes on debian packaging for ubuntu
  17. guyana trip report
  18. openaddresses population comparison
  19. blog all oft-played tracks VII
  20. week 1,984: back to the map

Archives