Univision 3-perf
Light-based media

Univisium: Vittorio Storaro’s universal 2:1 film format

I’ve recently binge-watched the first two seasons of House of Cards on Netflix and one of the first things I noticed was the black bars showing on my 16:9 television. Why would such a modern show be filmed in anything but the most common modern aspect ratio?

'House of Cards' aspect ratio

This odd aspect ratio turns out to be the brainchild of a famous cinematographer:

Univisium (macaronic Latin for “unity of images”) is a proposed universal film format created by cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC and his son, Fabrizio, to unify all future theatrical and television movies into one respective aspect ratio of 2.00:1 (18:9).Wikipedia

Storaro writes:

Vittorio Storaro In the jungle of different aspect ratios in today’s Cinema and Television, the upcoming advanced High Definition Video system will introduce yet another one, an aspect ratio of about 1:1,79.* For a while, we will have three different visual proportions, and therefore three different compositions, of the same movie.

I don’t know who made this decision for a new aspect ratio, since it doesn’t resolve any past, present or future problems for a common composition between different media. I am not aware of any Directors or Cinematographers who have been asked for their opinions about the possible new area or new composition for future audio-visual systems.

[…] Considering High Definition and 65mm, I think it would therefore be sensible to propose a new standard for both. A new aspect ratio that will fit future, present, and past compositional needs. Currently 65mm is set at an aspect ratio of 1:2,21 and High Definition at about 1:1,79, so, if we remove the 0,21 from the 65mm, and if we add the same number on top of High Definition TV, we will have a perfect balance between the two: that is, 1:2.

Though this new standard doesn’t seem to have taken off yet, House of Cards is far from the first the first film or television series to adopt Univisium. The first seems to be 1998’s Tango and the first television example is 2000’s fascinating mini-series of Frank Herbert’s Dune. Storaro was responsible for the cinematography of both.


Will Stephen: How to sound smart in your TEDx talk

In a hilarious talk capping off a day of new ideas at TEDxNewYork, professional funny person Will Stephen shows foolproof presentation skills to make you sound brilliant — even if you are literally saying nothing. (Full disclosure: This talk is brought to you by two TED staffers, who have watched a LOT of TED Talks.)


(via @ianisted)

Wooden Enterprise by Michael Kretschmer

This 36 inch wooden model of the old school Starship Enterprise is made of maple, black walnut, padauk, osage orange, ebony, and yellow heart.

Kretschmer has also written about the making of this model: The main hull is made of maple. All major components were turned on a wood lathe. The saucer is 16 inches in diameter. The warp engines are made of maple as well, with black walnut and padauk pieces glued together.

Also: Take a good look at the original Enterprise shooting model, currently being restored at the Smithsonian and check out this amazing 68″ Lego Enterprise model!

Craft and creativity

Gorgeous wooden USS Enterprise model

The goal was not only to create the epic vessel, but to do it in original style not seen anywhere else… exploiting the natural grains and colors of the woods used. There is no paint or stain in this. It is coated with clear gloss polyurethane and rests on a 3/8″ stainless steel rod fixed into the black walnut base sporting the starfleet emblem.


Flipped Iceberg: Shooting in Antarctica

Alex Cornell: This is a behind-the-scenes video of the flipped iceberg photos we shot in Antarctica. The video includes an overview of the gear used, a Lightroom editing screencast, some unreleased video of the iceberg, and a brief rundown of press outreach and monitoring viral analytics.

Flipped iceberg in Antarctica -- Alex Cornell

(via Daring Fireball)

Blue Snowball
Life on the Internet

Making podcasts: Great advice from the professionals

Various professional podcasters talk about how they make great podcasts…

Jason Snell is a tech writer who hosts several podcasts while guesting on many more. He has written several excellent blog posts about podcasting, starting with some general advice: Don’t be intimidated.

“The great thing about podcasting is that anyone can do it. You don’t need to have access to a broadcasting company’s radio transmitter and studios packed with equipment. You can reach people with your voice right now.”

QuickTime Player

QuickTime Player is a great podcast recording tool, and it’s on every Mac.

Jason then followed up with How I podcast: Recording and Editing, two posts full of practical advice.

“Not to get all philosophical on you, but editing audio is a lot of work, and depending on what kind of a podcast you’re producing, most of it is probably not necessary. Just because you can edit a podcast within an inch of its life—clearing out pauses, removing every um and uh and awkward pause and spoken digression—doesn’t mean you must.”

Marco Arment has some strong opinions on the importance of improving the technical quality of your podcast:

“Making your podcast easy to listen to is worth some effort.”

“Just as blogs need sensible fonts, colors, layouts, and spacing to be comfortably readable, podcasts need to be listenable. And you can’t make easily listenable podcasts without at least basic equipment and production.”

Dan Benjamin is founder of the 5by5 podcast network and has shared a great deal of information at podcastmethod.co. There’s a comprehensive equipment guide, a series of podcasts (of course) and this video on proper microphone technique

Alex Blumberg is a public radio producer known for his work with This American Life and Planet Money. He recently co-founded Gimlet Media, a podcast network. Alex documented the early days of his new company in the network’s first podcast, StartUp).

Tim Ferriss interviewed Blumberg for his own podcast: How to Create a Blockbuster Podcast. It’s a special two-part episode, and the second part is a 40 minute excerpt from a masterclass Alex taught on creativeLIVE, on the art of the interview, what to ask, the power of the right question, and more.

Amongst other things Blumberg advises that you don’t ask yes or no questions, instead ask “tell me about the time when…” or “tell me the story of…” questions.

Those links again:

See also: How to script and record narration for video.

Shape of things to come

Anti-paparazzi dazzle scarf

The Flashback Collection: garments made from highly reflective thread — perfect for anyone who doesn’t want his or her picture taken, or for photobombers who really want to make a lasting impression.

A collaboration between DJ Chris Holmes and Betabrand, where this Flashback range is currently being crowdfunded.

Unisex Reflective Scarf



In this exclusive interview, TrekCore sits down with Smithsonian Air & Space Museum curator Margaret Weitekamp and chief conservator Malcolm Collum to discuss the ongoing conservation project to preserve the original “Star Trek” USS Enterprise filming model for future generations.

This video, and the gallery on Trek Core, contains some of the best reference material I’ve seen of the original Enterprise model. I’m suddenly itching to try my hand at building another CGI version of this classic starship.

See also: this incredible 1.5m USS Enterprise made from LEGO and other posts tagged ‘Star Trek’.

Light-based media

The USS Enterprise at the Smithsonian

“Thanks to the generous access provided by the Smithsonian team, TrekCore went behind the public barriers to get some of the most detailed imagery of the starship available.”


This is without a doubt one of the best promotional videos for a Kickstarter project! NSFW.

STRAFE® by Pixel Titans, on Kickstarter

STRAFE ® is a unique singleplayer 3D action experience where the player can pick up a gun and shoot hordes of things in the face. Sounds crazy right? WELL IT GETS CRAZIER, WE PUT YOU IN THE EYES OF A DIGITAL PERSON! YUP, RIGHT BEHIND THE GUN.

We’ve created groundbreaking technology that changes the levels everytime you play for endless replayability! There are BILLIONS of experiences to be had with crazy secrets to find! We give you the levels, you paint them red.


Also, definitely check out their gloriously retro official site, strafe1996.com and developer blog.

Strafe - Glutton


Doves ffl ligature
Use your words

Recovering The Doves Type from the bottom of the Thames

Creative Review: In 1916, the Doves Type was seemingly lost forever after it was thrown into the River Thames. Almost 100 years later, and after spending three years making a digital version, designer Robert Green has recovered 150 pieces from their watery grave…

Doves letters

The Doves Type was commissioned by Thomas Cobden-Sanderson as a bespoke typeface for the Doves Press, the London printing company he co-founded with Emery Walker in 1900. A modern take on a Venetian serif, it took two years to create and was used in all of the Press’s publications, including books of verse by Shakespeare and Milton and the Doves Bible, which featured drop caps by Edward Johnstone.

After falling out with Walker, however – their partnership was legally dissolved in 1909, after the business encountered financial troubles – Cobden-Sanderson spent nine months tipping 2,600lb of it into the Thames in secret, ensuring that if he couldn’t use it, nor could anyone else. Disguised by darkness, he made around 170 trips to the Hammersmith Bridge to tip small parcels into the water at night, the splashes concealed by passing traffic, before announcing that it had been “bequeathed’ to the Thames.

Doves Bible

Read more about The Doves Type revival.


How Green Screen Worked Before Computers

Tom Scott: For those of us who grew up in the age of CGI, green screen is just “a thing that computers do”. But how did effects like this work before the age of pixels? With the help of some suitably shiny graphics, here’s a quick summary.

Light-based media

Making your first game

An excellent video series from Extra Credits on how to go about making (and marketing) your first computer game…

How To Start Your Game Development

Making your first game can be difficult. Remember that your goal is to make a game, any game, not necessarily a complex game like the ones professional teams of game developers in a studio can produce. By starting small and focusing on the basic gameplay, a new game designer can learn a lot about their skills and build on that for their next game (or the next version of their first game). That way, you can actually complete a playable game instead of getting stuck on the details as so many first time game makers do.

Watch parts 2, 3 and 4 →


LEGO Enterprise by Chris Melby

The ship is 68 inches long, 29 inches wide, and stands about 32 inches on its base. The wood base is 22 inches in diameter, and the saucer is 29 inches in diameter. Build time was about 8 months, including the holidays, and I figure the entire model came in around 18K bricks.

“Was it worth it? 8 months, tons of coin, tons of bricks, a few major headaches, more than a few internal explosions… Yeah it was. It was the build of a lifetime. It was one for my ‘bucket list’.”
Chris Melby

See also: The bridge of the JJ Enterprise and The NSA’s Star Trek room

Craft and creativity

Incredible 1.5m USS Enterprise made from LEGO

An impressive stud-free LEGO build of the new USS Enterprise by Chris Melby.

Raspberry Pi 2
Shape of things to come

The new Raspberry Pi 2

Raspberry Pi 2 on sale now for $35, featuring a 900MHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 CPU (~6x performance), 1GB LPDDR2 SDRAM (2x memory) and complete compatibility with the Raspberry Pi 1.

Raspberry Pi 2 board

Because it has an ARMv7 processor, it can run the full range of ARM GNU/Linux distributions, including Snappy Ubuntu Core, as well as Microsoft Windows 10. Says Eben Upton:

“I think it’s a usable PC now. It was always the case that you could use a Raspberry Pi 1 as a PC but you had to say ‘this is a great PC in so far as it cost me 35 bucks’. We’ve removed the caveat that you had to be a bit forgiving with it. Now it’s just good.”

Compared to the Model B it has:

  • More GPIO. The GPIO header has grown to 40 pins, while retaining the same pinout for the first 26 pins as the Model A and B.
  • More USB. We now have 4 USB 2.0 ports, compared to 2 on the Model B, and better hotplug and overcurrent behaviour.
  • Micro SD. The old friction-fit SD card socket has been replaced with a much nicer push-push micro SD version.
  • Lower power consumption. By replacing linear regulators with switching ones we’ve reduced power consumption by between 0.5W and 1W.
  • Better audio. The audio circuit incorporates a dedicated low-noise power supply.
  • Neater form factor. We’ve aligned the USB connectors with the board edge, moved composite video onto the 3.5mm jack, and added four squarely-placed mounting holes.

In-depth with the Raspberry Pi 2

Make interviews Eben Upton of the Raspberry Pi foundation about the new board and all of its technical details.

Windows 10 for Raspberry Pi 2

In addition the Raspberry Pi 2-compatible version of Windows 10 will be available free of charge to makers.

See also: Other posts tagged Raspberry Pi.