Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Perhaps video gaming is good for a child’s mind

NPR’s Michelle Trudeau reports on a fascinating new study that suggests hours in front of the gaming console may be time well spent for developing minds.  What is not up for debate in the study are the consequences of exposing our children to an ultra-violent world of savagery and gruesome images such as CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS , a frame grab of which is depicted below.

Parents, the next time you fret that your child is wasting too much time playing video games, consider new research suggesting that video gaming may have real-world benefits for your child’s developing brain.

Daphne Bavelier is professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester. She studies young people playing action video games. Having now conducted more than 20 studies on the topic, Bavelier says, “It turns out that action video games are far from mindless.”

Her studies show that video gamers show improved skills in vision, attention and certain aspects of cognition. And these skills are not just gaming skills, but real-world skills. They perform better than non-gamers on certain tests of attention, speed, accuracy, vision and multitasking, says Bavelier.

Seeing Shades Of Gray

Vision, for example, is improved in gamers. Specifically, the kind of vision called “contrast sensitivity,” that is, the ability to see subtle shades of gray.

“And this is a skill that comes in very handy if you’re driving in fog,” Bavelier says. “Seeing the car ahead of you is determined by your contrast sensitivity.” Skilled gamers also are able to see smaller type size than non-gamers on vision tests.

But Bavelier wanted to know which came first: Is better vision caused by playing action video games, or is better vision a skill that gamers bring to the table? Perhaps, Bavelier wondered, gamers already have sharp vision, and are thus good at action games and vision tests.

To check this out, Bavelier recruited non-gamers and trained them for a few weeks to play action video games. “At the end of their training,” Bavelier says, “they’re told, go back home. No more gaming. They’re not allowed to play any games.”

Then they came back into the lab every few months to have their vision re-checked.

Bavelier found that their vision remained improved, even without further practice on action video games. “We looked at the effect of playing action games on this visual skill of contrast sensitivity, and we’ve seen effects that last up to two years.”

Gamers, Bavelier has also found, have better attention than non-gamers — they stay focused. She gave gamers several tests to measure attention and found that gamers get less distracted by what came before and by events in their surroundings.

Laser Focus

They are able to detect, for example, new information coming at them faster. So as a result, they are more efficient. And Bavelier also says that gamers can switch from task to task much faster than non-gamers, making them better multitaskers.

Body Moving Games

Gaming may improve children’s cognitive skills, but it’s not without drawbacks: There’s a lot of evidence showing a correlation between gaming and childhood obesity. New devices — like Nintendo Wii, PlayStation Move or Kinect for Xbox 360 — might help game lovers get off the couch, but do games used with these systems show the same potential to improve a child’s aptitude for tests and other challenges?

Not really, says Daphne Bavelier, a brain and cognitive sciences researcher at the University of Rochester. “Those games typically don’t have the same effect [on the brain],” she says.

At the same time, she said some studies have found that exercise itself can have an impact on the cognitive skills of older adults, but she says that we don’t know yet whether the same is true for the younger set.

“We see that typically in people that don’t play action games, their reaction time [on tests of multitasking] lengthened by 200 milliseconds, which is something like 30 percent,” Bavelier says. “But in gamers, it lengthened only by 10 percent.”

Closing The Gender Gap

Brain researcher Jay Pratt, professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, has studied the differences between men and women in their ability to mentally manipulate 3-D figures. This skill is called spatial cognition, and it’s an essential mental skill for math and engineering. Typically, Pratt says, women test significantly worse than men on tests of spatial cognition.

But Pratt found in his studies that when women who’d had little gaming experience were trained on action video games, the gender difference nearly disappeared.

After 10 hours of training, Pratt brought the women back to the lab and gave them the spatial cognition test again.

“And we found that the women improved substantially, and almost caught up to the men’s scores,” he says.

Pratt also investigated another area of spatial cognition called “the useful field of view,” which is essentially how much of the visual field a person can perceive at any given moment. In other words, as Pratt describes it, “How wide can you cast your net of attention?”

Typically, there are baseline differences between men and women on this test, with men performing significantly better. But Pratt found that training on action video games enabled women to significantly improve on this test of visual attention.

Pratt says playing these video games changes your ability to learn, and to find and integrate new information.

“Video game players are able to pick up very subtle, statistical irregularities in environments and use them to their advantage,” Pratt says. “And these same irregularities in environments are the things that help us guide our behaviors on a daily basis.”

Game Console Artists

To better understand how gamers acquire these non-gaming skills, neuroscientist Lauren Sergio, of York University in Toronto, looks inside the brain. She’s found an important difference between gamers and non-gamers in how and where the brain processes information. She likens skilled gamers to musicians.

“If you look at professional piano players, professional musicians, you see this phenomena where they don’t activate as much of their brain to do very complicated things with their hands that the rest of us need to do. And we found that the gamers did this as well.”

Skilled gamers mainly use their frontal cortex, according to Sergio’s fMRI studies. That’s an area of the brain specialized for planning, attention and multitasking. Non-gamers, in contrast, predominately use an area called the parietal cortex, the part of the brain specializing in visual spatial functions.

“The non-gamers had to think a lot more and use a lot more of the workhorse parts of their brains for eye-hand coordination,” Sergio says. “Whereas the gamers really didn’t have to use that much brain at all, and they just used these higher cognitive centers to do it.”

So the next time you despair that your child is immersed, yet again, in an action video game, remember: Gaming can improve some important skills.

Bavelier hopes that more action video games will be developed that train these skills without the violence found in the typical games available today. And all the researchers suggest that parents should limit their kids’ time on video games. Moderation, they say, is the key.

Location Filmmaking 2011 Finalists Announced

Dodge College of Film and Media Arts announced today the finalists for the new Location Filmmaking program.  During the month of January, two films will be shot, one a live action 3D film lead by Bill Dill, A.S.C. and the other a film combining live action and visual effects lead by Scott Arundale.  The completed films will be presented in the Folino Theater on Friday, April 29th at 7pm.

The two teams selected for either 3D or VFX film projects will be announced November 20.

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3D Location Finalists

Cottontail by James Humphreys

Director:  Rob Himebaugh

Producer: Natalie Testa

Cinematographer: Scotty Field

Editor: Arica Westadt

Sound Designer: Sean Yap

Production Designer: Ryan Phillips

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Gift of the Maggie by Ben Kepner

Director:  Chris Bryant

Producers: Jane Winternitz & Samantha Price

Cinematographer: Greg Cotton

Stereographer: Tashi Trieu

Editors: Chase Ogden & Matt Kendrick

Production Designer: Jeanette Sanker

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The Harvest by Turner Jacobs

Director:  Alexander Gaeta

Producer: Missy Laney

Cinematographer: Trevor Wineman

Stereographer: Andrew Finch

Editor: Ryan Kaplan

Sound Designer: Cody Peterson

Production Designer: Christy Gray

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A Smart Fly by Brandon Wade

Director:  Brandon Wade

Producer: Zach Mason

Cinematographer: Jason Bonninger

Editor: Sean Yap

Sound Designer: Andres de la Torre

Production Designer: Scheherazade Dadci

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VFX Location Finalists

A Good Man by Gary Alvarez

Director:  Gary Alvarez

Producer: Ayelet Bick

Cinematographer: David Rivera

VFX Supervisor: Alessandro Struppa

Editor: Jonathan Melin

Sound Designer: Affan Tanner

Production Designer: Micah Embry

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A Nervous Wreck by Jonathan Thompson and Norm Leonard

Director:  Jonathan Thompson

Producer:  Renee Mignosa

Cinematographer: John MacDonald

Editor: Andrew Carney

Sound Designer: Jeff Brown

Production Designer: Lauren DeWitt

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Prey by David Thompson

Director: Jack Brungardt

Producer: Ian Dalesky

Cinematographer: Michael Althaus

VFX Supervisor: Bryan Chojnowski

Editor: Alex Griffin

Sound Designer: Derek Beamer

Production Designer: Kaitlin Kubiak

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Time Capsule by Ira Parker

Director:  Shane McCarthy

Producer: Samer Imam

Cinematographer: Jared Wheeler

VFX Supervisor: Nader Owies

Editor: Affan Tanner

Sound Designer: Chris Mastellone

Lori Jane Coleman A.C.E. is coming to Dodge College

If you want to make it as an editor than you have to assist and one person knows what it takes to make the cut.

Obama Disses iPod, iPad, Xbox, Playstation

Obama Disses iPod, iPad, Xbox, Playstation.

We refer to our current crop of students where I teach at Chapman, as the “millenials”.  They have mastered the social networking scene, they want their information 24/7 and up to the minute, and it is easier to raise them on Facebook then have them pick up the phone.  After four years, it is our goal to have shown them how visual storytelling is an effective tool to communicate and I think it is working.

I continue to canvass my students to get a sense if they are “distracted” or have short attention spans.  I’ve notice the abbreviated term “ADD” is something we all use but it was never known to be a common ailment until today. I think we can all admit that multi-tasking is required to get through the day and brevity in terms of communicating is always welcome.

We can look at this time and place and compare it to the beginning of the last century when the countryside was being electrified and the telephone was becoming a common appliance.  How did the advent of technology affect society then?  How did we manage to get through the day before without a phone answering machine, fax machine or pager?

- Scott Arundale

Amazon recognizes that education is the key

A whole new set of educational videos and tools popped up recently on Amazon and are intended to help the consumer understand why they need to trade in all that newly acquired HD gear in favor a 3D Home Cinema display system and software.

3D Digital Summit Day 2

Digital Cinema (including 3D) Roll-out:  A Status Report

Moderator, Michael Karagosian (MKPE Consulting) reports we are in year 11 in digital cinema rollout.  This year 33 titles will be in 3D.  All current growth in screens in the U.S.  is currently fueled by 3D.  But Asia and Europe are seeing the most expansion of 3D screens. Michael Lewis (RealD) warned that “Bad 3D” could really slow down the movement.  AMC, Cinemark and Regal Cinemas have formed a consortium (DCIP) and raised $660 million towards the deployment of 16,000 new 3D screens. Oleg Berezin (Neva Film) described the Russian exhibition paradigm where less than half the Russian films released on 35mm did not recoup their P & A while digital and 3d releases are considered  the golden goose. Peter Wilison of the European Digital Cinema Forum (EDCF)  portrayed the European theatrical system as healthy and growing, despite the fractious nature of the EU community.  There are 31,00 screens across Europe (excluding Russia and Ukraine) of which 8,000 are 3d equipped.

Technical Issues for 3D Digital Cinema

Richard Welsh of Dolby Labs talked about the essential nature of metadata particularly when cueing subtitles, although they must be rendered or baked into the picture.  Subtitles should to be placed in front of the action so as not to clash with the action plane.  However when there is a dynamic move as shown in the Alice in Wonderland segment with the Cheshire Cat floating towards the audience, so too must the subtitles shift to match the plane. Clearly reading subtitles are going to be a son of a bitch in 3D, however the two multi-depth credit cards looked really hot in the Alice trailer.

Production and Projection Techniques for Immersive Media

Siegfried Foessel talked about panoramic cinema featuring about to 12 x 2K cameras shooting in a half circle.  He also showed one of the most stunning short clips featuring a Peregrine attack above the city of London and co-produced by the BBC.

The Keynote Speaker, John Honeycutt (Discovery Channel) was the high point of the day as he unveiled Sony’s new 3D camera which I am sure will cause a sensation on the floor of the convention this week.  Some of the specs were outlined such as 3-inch CMOS sensors per eye, Full HD (1920×1080), interchangeable lenses, convergence control and full metadata support. Discovery will be conducting field tests of  the “Concept” prototype this July. The reaction from the house was palpable.

Can there (ever) be a Common Worldwide 3D-TV Broadcast Standard?
When the SMPTE engineers came out after lunch to repeat everything we had been hearing for the last two days, I started to nod off. So I will leave it to Debra Kaufman to fill us in on the details.

3D Digital Summit Day 1

Eye strain goes with the territory when sitting in a darkened conference room and donning the RealD glasses every half hour for  most of the  day.  But the footage was worth it!  We looked at U2, Dave Matthews, NFL football, Alice in Wonderland and Clash of the Titans, as well as a Praying Mantis eating the head off a fly.  Much of the material was breathtaking, but why do they have to play the music at 100+ decibels?  Do they think it makes the images look better?

Morning Session

I’m a morning person but they managed to run out of coffee by 8:30am (ouch!) when the session was due to start.  Strangely, the organizers had not anticipated such a huge turnout as many were left standing without enough chairs, but not having caffeine in the morning was a cruel hoax, courtesy of  Sony and NAB.

Understanding Stereopsis and 3D Image Capture

Peter Lude’ and Steve Schklair kicked off with an illuminating and sweeping explanation of Stereopsis.  We began to grasp the concepts of divergence, floating windows, edge violations,vertical alignment and the “wow” factor.  We also began to appreciate the difference between side by side cameras and beam splitters.

3D programming:  Lessons learned

Al Barton, Patrick Devlin (Evergreen), Thomas Edwards (Fox Technical Group) and Jason Goodman (21st Century 3D) each took turns explaining their approach to 3D.  The Fox sports reel was the most annoying and in your face, but Tom brought up an interesting dilemma: where does the ever-present score box go?.  Evergreen’s production of the Dave Matthews concert was most exciting to watch.  Jason Goodman (Call of the Wild) has been tearing apart and re-building the Panasonic DVX cameras and creating lightweight 3D rigs which work great on the steadicam.  Their 3DVX 3.5 444 2.75″ 10 Bit Uncompressed rig warrants further investigation.  The Red dual camera setup looks just plain big and unwieldy.

3D Conversion

Warren Littlefield (formerly NBC) gave the sales pitch for 3D describing when in 1987, Third Rock from the Sun created a special 3D episode as a lead-in for Gulliver’s Travels. As the “yes man” for 3D he was the used car salesman of the day,  advising us that we should go out and stereo retro-fit all original content from the last 20 years. Chris Bond’s story was the most harrowing as he described the 2D/3D conversion of Clash of the Titans during which they had a mere 8 – 10 weeks working on an unlocked picture.  The word on the street is the final product looks like a quickie, but the upside is Prime Focus has developed the know-how to turn around features under a tight deadline.

After lunch, Mark Schubin gave the Keynote address and reinforced many of the concepts we were introduced to earlier.  He described all the 3D technologies past, present and future including the concept of POOT, which is “plain old ordinary TV” which I am starting to miss at this point.  There is always something comforting about the format you know and grew up with.

A Case for Quality in Production and Post-Production

Buzz Hays (Sony Technology Center)  talked about the importance of education and getting the D.P.’s. Directors, Game Developers and Editors on board.  Based on their credits, Sony is clearly an industry leader in 3D and I look forward to dragging my students through their learning center.

After the Capture – What other Tools Exist?

Matthew DeJohn (In Three) described Dimensionalization as the patented process created by his company for 3D conversion. By this time, my eyes are hurting and every demo reel seems to feature converted and original 3D material and quite frankly, I am having trouble telling the difference.

So now it is time to quote, Jeffrey Katzenberg:

“All 3D is not created equal.  It is first and foremost a very, very powerful creative storytelling tool”.

Stereography and Storytelling

I started reading the Bernard Mendiburu book, this morning entitled 3D Movie Making and I my review will post shortly. I enjoyed his rather flip examination of the creative process.  Chuck Comisky (Avatar) is clearly a 3D god and lives and breathes this stuff 24/7.  Phil Streather’s (PLF) reel was gorgeous but uneven.  The bug footage was startling.  Clearly you can shove a 3D camera into a macro nature scene and still achieve great results.  By the time Phil, the indie filmmaker got up to speak, it was the end of the session. I was spent and so was most of the audience.  The scene he showed with the clown in the elevator was painful to watch but this guy is someone we should keep our eye on.  When micro budget filmmakers post their 3D films on youtube, I think this is a game changer.

How 3D Works

This infographic easily illustrates four common types of 3D display.

http://www.onlineschools.org/blog/how-3d-works/image.jpg

The first is anaglyph (red/blue) 3D which has been the standard for many years for both theatrical and consumer electronics displays.

The second is polarized 3D, which is one of the many emerging technologies prevalent in many theaters around the world.

The third and fourth are home-video technologies.

–Tashi Trieu

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