Quote of the Moment

"It's never wrong to hope, Byx," said my mother. "Unless the truth says otherwise."
- from Endling #1: The Last, by Katherine Applegate

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Break Eternal

This morning, I showed up bright and early for work.

I cleared my e-mail. I submitted my hours. I even finished an online training quiz I'd been putting off. I was ready to go, waiting for 9:00.

At about 8:30, the power flickered.

It flickered again.

It died.

So, we sat in the break room, waiting for the lights to come back on.

We waited a very, very long time. Long enough to nearly finish the break room puzzle.

It finally came back on shortly before noon... but then the various machines needed to be reset. (For some reason, they don't like power outages. Go figure...)

How long did that take?

Check the time stamp... and we're still waiting.

(At 2:00 the point becomes moot.)

Oh, well... at least I'm still getting paid. And there's a new puzzle to work on...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Visiting Pandora

The Sci-Fi Museum downtown has a special Avatar exhibition this summer. In honor of a relative's recent birthday - and because Avatar was far and away the most immersive sci-fi world I've ever experienced on the silver screen - we decided to swing by.

It had nothing to do with the many projects I'm dutifully procrastinating on. Really...

Our wet summer weather managed to melt the iconic Space Needle; here it can be seen in the process of oozing down the wall of the EMP building.

A helpful exhibit map explains where we are. The entire lower floor of the Sci-Fi Museum had been cordoned off; I expect that they needed all the power they could get for the Avatar exhibition's many interactive displays. One room had a motion-capture booth where one could act out a short scene from the movie and see oneself digitized as a Na'Vi in real-time. (I was too cowardly to attempt it.) Another had a virtual camera where one could attempt to film a sequence from the movie; moving the screen around rotated the camera, and buttons zoomed in and out. (I did try that... didn't do too badly keeping track of the action. Very, very, cool...)

Plant specimens display the bioluminescent properties prevalent in the Pandoran forests.

Numerous pieces of Avatar conceptual art were on display, many of them on interactive computer tables and screens. This one let visitors build their own Pandoran plants. The screen I poked at was a bit buggy, but it was still fun.

One of three main character busts on display, exacting down to the smallest detail. A short video loop described the process of creating the Na'Vi from motion-capture cameras - upwards of 170 per actor - and the breakthrough methods that allowed the crew to actually see the simulated characters and sets in real-time while shooting a given scene. Impressive stuff...

Props such as this were not only designed on computers, but built in real life to help the artists capture the look, feel, and movements of various materials.

The many animals (and plants) of Avatar were made as biologically plausible as possible. Several had their own motion-capture actors (animals, occasionally) to give them life.

A life-sized military walking suit replica. The humans didn't get as much display time as the Pandoran flora and fauna, but then they weren't really the focal point of the experience...

On the way out, we stopped by a large projection screen in the walkway. It looked just like ambient scenery from the Pandoran forests, but if you stood still for a while, you realized that you had visitors...

Yes, they did respond to movement. Yes, it was exceptionally cool.

And, yes, I'd still give any of various organs for a ticket to Pandora...