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> SEPTEMBER 24: The Wizard of Oz

> SEPTEMBER 17: 4K Encounter
> SEPTEMBER 17: Coming Attractions
> SEPTEMBER 10: Marketing Reality

SEPTEMBER 26, 2013: Inventions & Predictions

You should always be skeptical when listening to experts, because their opinions may be the most egregious (outstandingly bad). For example, Charles H. Duell (an official at the US Patent Office) said back in 1899, “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” I guess he didn't see the microchip coming.

Twenty-three years earlier, after receiving a personal demonstration of the telephone, Rutherford B. Hayes (the 19th President of the United States) remarked, "It's a great invention, but who would want to use it?" He went on to be the first President to have a phone at his disposal in the White House.

William Thomson, ist Baron Kelvin, who was a mathematical physicist and engineer is best known for determining the value of absolute zero (-273.15 Celsius). In 1895, he said, “Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.” I guess he didn't see the turbine jet engine coming.

A few years later, a lawyer for Henry Ford visited the Michigan Savings Bank regarding investing in the Ford Motor Company. The President of the bank told him, "The automobile is only a novelty - a fad." I wonder what he would have thought of the Apple iPhone? In 1946 Darryl F. Zanuck said television “won’t be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.” Little did he know they would put televisions and telephones into heavier-than-air flying machines and automobiles.

Although Thomas Watson (Chairman of IBM) said, “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers” back in 1943, it was Ken Olson (President, Chairman & Founder of Digital Equipment Corporation) who said in 1977, “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” I guess he didn't see the Internet coming (or Grand Theft Auto).

All I can say is, pay no attention to anyone dismissing innovation or radical new ideas. Who knows? Maybe someday there will be robots who can play golf better than humans . . .

SEPTEMBER 24, 2013: The Wizard of Oz

With a hint of anxiety mixed with honest exitement, all I could think about all day Monday was seeing The Wizard of Oz on the big screen for the first time. It was originally made for "the big screen." That's the way it was meant to be seen. Unfortunately, I was born quite a bit later than 1939, so I had to watch it on black and white TV for my first time. All the same, I still loved it and watched it over and over. As time went by, I bought the VHS video, the DVD, the big anniversary DVD box, the Blu-ray and I will buy the new 75th Anniversary remastered box set that comes out October 1 later this year, too.

By way of introduction, however, nothing I can say will prepare you for seeing this film in IMAX 3D. There are details no one has ever seen before, but it's not as if they had to invent them. They were always there. You just couldn't see them before. After making dupes of dupes, the clarity of the original camera negative had been reduced, but now with an 8K scan, cleanup and restoration that took a year and a half, we can see how it really is . . . absolutely perfect.

The scarecrow's burlap makeup on his face was a revelation. The rust on the tinman's face is incredible and the creased old eyes of the cowardly lion are wonderful. The green face of the wicked witch is spectacular! Then there is the marvelous colour of every scene and all the amazing special effects now back the way they should be. They took as much care with the multi-channel, sourround sound for the film as well. The background music makes every moment rich with atmosphere and excitement. 

Warner Bros. calls it "Ultra Resolution" for good reason. The 8K scan produced hundreds of terabytes of information and so it should. This film must never be sold "short." It is truly a national treasure. The incredible creativity and care that went into The Wizard of Oz makes it one of a kind. I never noticed all the foliage and plants constantly in motion in the background before. It is true movie magic. No wonder it is one of the most protected films in the history of cinema. I wish I could go every day. It is in IMAX theatres for only one week (until Thursday September 26). Do not miss it.

SEPTEMBER 20, 2013: 4K Encounter

As I walked around one of my favourite retail outlets (Canada Computers), I was just checking out hard drives, wireless rodents, RC helicopters, CPU cases and domestic appliances. Deep inside the store (it's one of those big box locations), I noticed a home theatre setup - big soft couches, surround sound, and a monster TV.

Only a few feet away, I was surprised I couldn't see the subtle dot grid you normally see when you stand that close. It took me a minute to realize how incredibly high the resolution was, but even then I had no idea what I was looking at. There were these goofy vector graphics animating on the screen like a kaleidoscope, but they were zooming up and down and the edges were absolutely perfect (as vectors should be). At that point I decided to try out the couch.

Even though I wanted to look around for pricing information, I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. It switched to still photographs - but the kind of images they use to trick you into buying an HD TV in the first place. Only HD shot with an HD video camera looks that good. Film has that soft, lovely grain we're all used to, but a digital video image has that sharp vicious look that reveals every freckle, crease and flaw. Flowers and rocks look great, but when you can count the hairs in an eyebrow, it starts getting a little creepy.

Then a young woman in a long purple dress walked into a garden. I looked around at the green leaves and blossoms framing her. It now dawned on me this was no ordinary hi def TV. I was finally witnessing the ultimate entertainment technology our ancestors have been dreaming of for 10,000 years . . . 4K. This was an 84 inch 4K LED and it was available for me to purchase for $19,999. The only trouble is you need 4K media to play on it. So then I was looking at a Sony F65 CineAlta 4K camera and it was $65,000. So next  I went looking for a Lamborghini Aventador (LP700 2 door all-wheel drive roadster) and the MSRP was $441,600. That's when I decided to fly to Italy for the VIEW Conference (October 15 - 18) in Turin. John Knoll (co-creator of Photoshop and Chief Creative Officer of ILM) is the Keynote speaker there. Other guests include the absolute royalty of digital artists and special effects. Take a look at the lineup. I would sincerely love to be there.

. . . and that's when looked down at my feet to see if I was wearing ruby slippers.

SEPTEMBER 17, 2013: Coming Attractions

Apart from the big films coming up (Hobbit #2, Meatballs #2, Thor #2, Hunger Games #2), there are still some "other" films this fall that are not sequels, but should not be missed. Mark these on your calendar for coming attractions . . .

October begins with a Rosencrantz & Guildenstern-style, back stage story of people who were involved in the events of the JFK assassination November 22, 1963 including Abraham Zapruder who photographed one of the most famous pieces of film . . . ever. The movie is called Parkland and stars Zac Efron, Marcia Gay Harden, Paul Giamatti and Billy Bob Thornton. It opens October 4.

A film about the WikiLeaks controversy debuts on October 18 with Benedict Cumberbatch called The Fifth Estate. On the same day Kill Your Darlings opens starring Daniel Radcliffe. The story takes place in the radical literary world of William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. A week later, the new Ridley Scott film opens called The Counselor. Starring Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem and Michael Fassbinder, this ought to be a unique lawyer movie (just because it's Ridley).

Martin Scorsese's new film opens November 15. The Wolf of Wall Street stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill. On the same day there is supposed to be a documentary about Bill Watterson - the creator of Calvin & Hobbes. What is interesting is that this started out as a Kickstarter project. It reached its funding goal in July 2012. Apparently, it is not a quest to find Watterson. He prefers absolute privacy, but it explores why C & H became one of the most popular and dominant comics of all time. Check out the project specs here.

Alexander Payne has a new film coming up November 22 called Nebraska. The Coen brothers have a new film called Inside Llewyn Davis. It opens December 6. It takes a look at the Greenwich Village folk scene back in the early '60s. That would be a good double feature with Kill Your Darlings. December 18 George Clooney's new film The Monuments Men opens. George is directing. It stars himself, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Paul Giamatti, Bob Balaban and Daniel Craig (whew! what a cast!). Stephen Frears' new film Philomena opens December 25. It stars Judi Dench and Steve Coogan from the hot distrib co The Weinstein Company. These are all "don't miss" movies. Enjoy the show!

SEPTEMBER 10, 2013: Marketing Reality

There are so many places that say they are going to help you, but just give you a new list of stuff to do. They tell you what you already know. You are very aware at how long it took to produce your book and that it's taken years, but now you have to promote it and market it. There are immense opportunities, yes. Unfortunately, as everyone in the advertising business knows, you really can't do it all for free, although there are folks who say you can.

You go on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Blogger, Tumblr, Google + and any other free social service you can sign up for. You spend hours a day trying to create useful and interesting information to make people want what you have to say and then the folks who say they want to help you tell you aren't doing enough or you aren't doing it right. They tell you they know how to do it and all you have to do is pay them a modest fee and they will turn it all around and increase sales. See? There's the money again.

You may as well buy an ad in the local paper or on TV or radio or use Google AdWords, but come on! Who can afford that? I'd rather just borrow $120,000 and do a 10,000 print run and hit the convention road (that's $12 cost per unit in 4 colour). The only trouble is, no one is going to risk $120K on a beautiful little book no one has seen. If it already sold 10,000 or 20,000 units, that would be different, but then you wouldn't have this problem of risk. It all comes down to risk.

That's why the players on the playing field are big international book publishers and corporately owned movie distribution networks. They can afford the risk and they can handle large losses as well as large profits by having large volumes of entertainment properties. Self-published authors are not on the same "level playing field" even though the social networks say they are. We can all make a web site and gain a little awareness, but unless you get lucky and go viral, you may as well buy a lottery ticket where the odds are only a few hundred billion to one.

All the same, I live by the creed of Commander Peter Quincy Taggert (Galaxy Quest) who says, "Never give up. Never surrender." By the way, he's not real, you know. He's just a character played by Jason Nesmith. Hey, wait a minute. He's not real either!


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