“Life After Pi” is a short documentary about Rhythm & Hues Studios, the L.A. based Visual Effects company that won an Academy Award for its groundbreaking work on “Life of Pi”– just two weeks after declaring bankruptcy. The film explores rapidly changing forces impacting the global VFX community, and the Film Industry as a whole.
This is only the first chapter of an upcoming feature-length documentary “Hollywood Ending,” that delves into the larger, complex challenges facing the US Film Industry and the many professionals working within it, whose fates and livelihood are intertwined.
Creative people thrive on serendipity, spontaneous interactions, moments of ribald humor, intense debate or just simple eye contact, and I felt as if I was losing myself. I decided that it was time to act. So I tried an experiment. I just stopped saying yes and started saying no to things.
Actually, there was a bit more method to my madness. I started a ritual that I still use today: I sit down and look at my calendar every Sunday night, pore through my coming week’s meetings and cancel a bunch of them — redundant ones where I don’t need to be “in the loop,” ones where there is an opportunity for someone else to make a decision, ones that don’t particularly inspire me, or ones where I can’t really add value. My overarching goal right now, wherever possible, is to give myself more time to simply be.
I have a similar ritual on Sundays as I prepare for the week and I make as many decisions as I possibly can for the week on Sunday so I don't have to think of the day-to-day and can focus my attention on relevant details. And speaking of details, don't miss an early TED Talk by Bennett on the small details.
Comfort-seeking missiles, we spend the most to minimize pain and maximize pleasure. When it comes to technologies, we mainly want to make things easy. Not to be bored. Oh, and maybe to look a bit younger.
Our will-to-comfort, combined with our technological powers, creates a stark possibility. If we’re not careful, our technological evolution will take us toward not a singularity but a sofalarity. That’s a future defined not by an evolution toward superintelligence but by the absence of discomforts.
The sofalarity (pictured memorably in the film “Wall-E”) is not inevitable either. But the prospect of it makes clear that, as a species, we need mechanisms to keep humanity on track. The technology industry, which does so much to define us, has a duty to cater to our more complete selves rather than just our narrow interests. It has both the opportunity and the means to reach for something higher. And, as consumers, we should remember that our collective demands drive our destiny as a species, and define the posthuman condition.
To gain advantage on this leveled playing field, there’s one powerful branding tool that has been generally overlooked — or perhaps undervalued — by most marketers: sound. With of our increasingly audio-enabled media environment, the strategic use of sound can play an important role in positively differentiating a product or service, enhancing recall, creating preference, building trust, and even increasing sales.
Called audio branding, sonic branding, sound branding, or acoustic branding, cognitive studies show that relevant sounds and musical cues can truly influence people in ways marketers want. According to research presented at the 2012 Audio Branding Congress, congruent sound cues can increase the speed of a visual search for products (a key for success in both online and retail settings), as well as improve the perceived taste of food and wine (PDF).
Some marketers have long employed sound and music as part of their brand experience, including the familiar chime of an Apple Computer launching, the pop of the Snapple lid, and the aggressive howl of a Harley in rev mode.
A few years ago, at the beginning of Lady Gaga's ascent in pop music, I was at the gym with a friend. I found myself mindlessly singing along to one of her songs. My friend pointed this out to me. I didn't own any of her albums, didn't own the song, had never seen the video for the song and yet her sonic presence was so ubiquitous that I had managed to learn all the lyrics of the song totally unconciously. That kind of earworm quality is what makes sonic branding such a powerful tool that few people are utilizing.
The app, simply called “Ken Burns,” allows the user to surf an overarching timeline year by year, seeing how clips from each film line up chronologically with – and, as Burns says, “speak to” – each other. Zoom in on 1869, for example, and a cloud of clips from The Civil War, The West, and The National Parks orbit in parallax formation around one another; swipe to 1930, and it’s clips from Jazz, Prohibition, Baseball, Huey Long, Thomas Hart Benton and The Dust Bowl. You can also watch its six playlists straight through – they range in length from 20 minutes to an hour long – or select individual clips à la carte.
The concept came out of a conversation Burns was having two years ago with MacKinnon, who is the music entrepreneur behind Hear Music and has known Burns since they worked together on music components for 2001′s Jazz.
“Ken and I were talking about how his films were in the search engines of iTunes and Netflix, and they’re always the top-rated thing when they run on PBS, but there wasn’t a digital place where all of his films were presented as one thing, as an integrated body of work,” says MacKinnon. “Then he paused for a second, and looked at me and said, ‘I really love my iPad.’”
Download the app but only if you are prepared to lose your day to it.