Movies

Dungeons & Dragons Is Getting a Film Franchise 143

New submitter IT.luddite sends word that Hasbro and Warner Bros. have announced Dungeons & Dragons will be getting its own film franchise. They already have a script, and they'll be working with production company Sweetpea Entertainment, but they haven't picked a director, yet. They'll have at least some of the people on board who worked on the D&D movie from 2000, which was a flop. The deal between Hasbro and Warner Bros. comes after a prolonged legal battle about who owned the rights to a D&D movie. They note, "All rights for future Dungeons & Dragons productions have been unified and returned to Wizards of the Coast, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hasbro."
Science

Tiny Black Holes Could Trigger Collapse of Universe—Except That They Don't 151

sciencehabit writes: If you like classic two-for-one monster movies such as King Kong vs. Godzilla, then a new paper combining two bêtes noires of pseudoscientific scaremongers—mini black holes and the collapse of the vacuum—may appeal to you. Physicists working with the world's biggest atom-smasher—Europe's Large Hadron Collider (LHC)—have had to reassure the public that, even if they can make them, mini black holes, infinitesimal version of the ones that form when jumbo stars implode, won't consume the planet. They've also had to dispel fears that blasting out a particle called the Higgs boson will cause the vacuum of empty space to collapse. Now, however, three theorists calculate that in a chain reaction, a mini black hole could trigger such collapse after all.
Piracy

UK Government Proposes 10-Year Copyright Infringement Jail Term 274

An anonymous reader writes: According to a BBC report, the UK government is proposing increasing the jail term for copyright infringement from the current two years to 10 years, which they say would "act as a significant deterrent." "The proposed measures are mainly targeted at the distributors of pirated content — the people creating copies of movies, sometimes before release, and uploading them to be downloaded by thousands upon thousands." Another reader notes a related court ruling in the UK which has once again made it illegal to rip lawfully-acquired CDs and DVDs for personal use. "A judge ruled that the government was wrong legally when it decided not to introduce a compensation scheme for songwriters, musicians, and other rights holders who face losses as a result of their copyright being infringed."
Movies

Famed Aircraft Designer James Bede Dies 28

linuxwrangler writes with a bit of news overlooked from last week, but worth noting: Prolific aircraft designer James "Jim" Bede has died at age 82. Although Bede designed numerous aircraft he is most commonly associated with the BD-5J, the "world's smallest jet", that was famously used to help James Bond escape in the movie "Octopussy." Bede's company currently has that aircraft for sale.
Movies

Marvel Tweaks Their Superhero Film Formula With Ant-Man 58

An anonymous reader writes: Over the past decade, Marvel has been rolling out superhero film after superhero film. They've found a successful formula, and each of the last half-dozen films has brought in over a half-billion dollars in ticket revenue. Today they added to the franchise with Ant-Man, based on a superhero who can shrink himself to the size of an ant (while maintaining normal strength), and control insects. But where the spate of Avengers-related movies only occasionally interjected humor into their world-preserving plots, Ant-Man focuses more on being funny and simply entertaining. Reviews are generally positive, but not overwhelmingly so — Rotten Tomatoes has it at 79%, with a 91% audience score while Metacritic has it at 64/100, with an 8.4/10 user score. The LA Times calls it "playful." Vox has good and bad to say about Ant-Man, but notes that its failings are very common to Marvel's other films. Salon says, "...in its medium-stupid and mismanaged fashion it's not so awful." Wired posted the obligatory physics of Ant-Man article, as did FiveThirtyEight.
AI

Which Movies Get Artificial Intelligence Right? 236

sciencehabit writes: Hollywood has been tackling Artificial Intelligence for decades, from Blade Runner to Ex Machina. But how realistic are these depictions? Science asked a panel of AI experts to weigh in on 10 major AI movies — what they get right, and what they get horribly wrong. It also ranks the movies from least to most realistic. Films getting low marks include Chappie, Blade Runner, and A.I.. High marks: Bicentennial Man, Her, and 2001: a Space Odyssey.
Television

Comcast Launches Streaming Service and Unveils Pricing For 2G Fiber 107

An anonymous reader writes: Comcast has announced the release of its Gigabit Pro service which offers speeds up to 2 gigabits per second. The service is $300 a month (agree to a two year contract and get the early promotional price of $159 per month) with a $500 installation and activation fee. The new service is only available in the Jacksonville, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Florida area. This announcement comes on the heels of the $15-per-month "Comcast Stream" launch. The live TV and streaming video service does not require a cable TV subscription, but live TV channels can only be watched on customer's home internet connections.
Movies

J.J. Abrams On "Star Wars" Cast's Racial and Sexual Diversity 504

Yesterday at Comic-Con, director J.J. Abrams held forth on the racial and sexual diversity of the actors portraying the characters of the Star Wars franchise. From CNET's article: For Star Wars, it's a complex debate. The franchise has included prominent and strong female characters, like Princess Leia, as well as central characters played by black actors, such as Cloud City administrator Lando Calrissian, played by Billy Dee Williams, and Jedi Mace Windu, played by Samuel L. Jackson. On the other hand, Jar Jar Binks, a computer-generated alien in 1999's "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace," drew fire from some critics, who said he called to mind demeaning black film characters such as those played by Stepin Fetchit in the 1930s. (Not to mention other cultural stereotypes that pop up in Episodes I, II, and III.)
Star Wars Prequels

Han Solo To Get His Own Star Wars Movie Prequel 227

New submitter alaskana writes: According to Starwars.com, Han Solo will be getting his own movie prequel. The film will purportedly tell the story of a young Han Solo and how he came to be the wily smuggler that shows up in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. The film is set to be directed by Christopher Miller and Phil Lord (of The Lego Movie fame) and written by Lawrence and Jon Kasdan. Get your popcorn and tickets ready, as the movie is set to debut May 25, 2018.
Movies

How To Design Robot Overlords For "Robot Overlords" 17

Hallie Siegel writes: Ever wonder how they make robots look so awesomely real in movies? Visual effects expert Graham Edwards goes behind the scenes with the makers of Robot Overlords to take you through the development of the robots in this movie, from script development and sketches, to filming and post FX. Really cool to see how these robots come to life.
Government

Can New Chicago Taxes On Netflix, Apple, Spotify Withstand Legal Challenges? 188

Mr D from 63 writes: Today, a new "cloud tax" takes effect in the city of Chicago, targeting online databases and streaming entertainment services. Residents who stream movies and music from companies like Netflix and Spotify will now need to pay an additional 9% tax. This also applies to Chicago businesses that pay to use databases online. Chicago expects to collect $12 million a year as a result of the new tax ruling. From the 24/7 Wall St. story: "Also worth noting is that the city’s tax ruling in both cases avoids the issue of whether there is a close-enough connection (nexus, in legalese) to require providers like Netflix or others to collect either tax. International law firm ReedSmith weighs in on this point as well: '[O]nce the Department begins to audit and assess customers located within the city, many of those customers are likely to demand that providers collect the tax going forward. As a result, many providers will likely feel the need to register to collect the taxes, despite lacking nexus, and despite having strong arguments against the Department’s expansive interpretation of its taxing ordinances.'"
Movies

"Jobs" vs. "Steve Jobs": Hollywood Takes Another Stab At Telling the Steve Jobs Story 266

theodp writes: Didn't like Jobs, the 2013 biopic about the life of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs starring Ashton Kutcher? Maybe you'll prefer Steve Jobs, the 2015 biopic about the life of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs starring Michael Fassbender. "Steve Jobs is a tech visionary, total dick," writes Esquire's Matt Patches in his mini-review of the just-released Steve Jobs trailer. So, is inspiring kids to become the "Next Steve Jobs" a good or bad thing?
Movies

Movie Composer James Horner Dies In Plane Crash 66

necro81 writes: James Horner, the Oscar-winning composer for the soundtracks of dozens of movies, died Monday while piloting his aircraft in California. Horner, who had a long collaboration with directors James Cameron and Ron Howard, was behind the music for major blockbusters like Avatar, Titanic, Braveheart, Apollo 13, and A Beautiful Mind. Other scores notable to the /. crowd include Star Trek II, Sneakers, Deep Impact, Aliens, Searching for Bobby Fischer, Willow, and *Batteries Not Included.
NASA

Color Movie Made of Pluto-Charon System 41

VernonNemitz writes: Today NASA released a color movie of Pluto and its largest moon Charon, as the New Horizons probe approaches its July 2015 rendezvous date. "It's exciting to see Pluto and Charon in motion and in color," said New Horizons principal examiner Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) at Boulder, Colorado. "Even at this low resolution, we can see that Pluto and Charon have different colours - Pluto is beige-orange, while Charon is grey. Exactly why they are so different is the subject of debate," Stern said.
Transportation

Privately Owned Armored Trucks Raise Eyebrows After Dallas Attack 609

HughPickens.com writes: Manny Fernandez writes in the NY Times that the scores of military and police-style vans, trucks and cars offered for sale on Craigslist and eBay have raised concerns for some law enforcement officials, particularly after the Dallas attack on a police headquarters. Officials say the vehicles appear to be legal for the most part, so there is little they can do. Jeff Funicello, for example, is selling his black 1975 GMC armored truck on Craigslist. The body is armored, and the windows are bulletproof. It has sliding portholes to point rifles from and a sprinkler system inside. Long ago, it transported money, and it was once the target of a shootout in the 1980s. Of course, people have been driving reinforced cars long before the Dallas attack on a police headquarters. But the celebrities and executives who install bulletproof windows and other types of armor on their vehicles often do not want it noticed. Celebrity clients generally demand that the exteriors of their luxury armored vehicles look normal so they blend in. However those who buy and sell armored vans want people to look. And the popularity of apocalyptic movies and television shows has put a new twist and added a macabre cachet to such vehicles "This is America," says Funicello. "I should be able to have a howitzer or a bazooka if I want one. If I wanted to buy a fire truck, I could."
United Kingdom

Jimmy Wales: London Is Better For Tech Than "Dreadful" Silicon Valley 410

Mickeycaskill writes: Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has praised London as a tech hub, saying its cultural assets make it an ideal place to do business and superior to Silicon Valley as a place to live. “I meet people around London and they ask ‘when do you go back to San Francisco?’ assuming I’m here for a few days, but I live in London,” he said at the launch of Tech.London. “There’s always this bit of British self-deprecation about ‘oh well, things are so great in Silicon Valley’. But I can tell you, things aren’t that great in Silicon Valley. London has all these incredible advantages of a tech scene, but it’s also a place people want to live. Nobody wants to live in Silicon Valley – it’s dreadful out there. London is this incredible cultural city, it’s at the crossroads of the world. In the US you have San Francisco for tech, Los Angeles for movies and Washington for politics. In London you have all these things. It’s a great place to do business.”
Networking

Cuba's Answer To the Internet Fits In Your Pocket and Moves By Bus 78

HughPickens.com writes: Susan Crawford reports on "El Paquete" (the package), Cuba's answer to the internet, an informal but extraordinarily lucrative distribution chain where anyone in Cuba who can pay can watch telenovelas, first-run Hollywood movies, and even search for a romantic partner. The so-called "weekly package," which is normally distributed from house to house contains the latest foreign films a week, shows, TV series, documentaries, games, information, music, and more. The thumb drives make their way across the island from hand to hand, by bus, and by 1957 Chevy, their contents copied and the drive handed on. "El Paquete plays to Cuban strengths and needs," writes Crawford because Cubans are great at sharing. "And being paid to be part of the thumb-drive supply chain is a respectable job in an economy that is desperately short on employment opportunities." Sunday the "weekly package" of 1 terabyte is priced at $ 10, then $2 on Monday or Tuesday and $1 for the rest of the week.

The sneakernet is still in use today in other parts of the world including Bhutan where a sneakernet distributes offline educational resources, including Kiwix and Khan Academy on a Stick to hundreds of schools and other educational institutions. Google once used a sneaknet to transport 120 TB of data from the Hubble Space Telescope. "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of magnetic tapes hurtling down the highway".
Movies

Adam Nimoy "For the Love of Spock" Documentary On KickStarter 43

New submitter Yohannon writes: In November of 2014, Adam Nimoy, son of Leonard, began talking with his father about creating a documentary regarding the late actor's most iconic role for potential release on the 50th anniversary of the premier of Star Trek. With the actor sadly passing in late February, the project has become more of a celebration of Leonard Nimoy's life as a whole. To fund the project, Adam has turned to KickStarter to raise the relatively modest 600 thousand dollars (US) to complete the documentary.

[Full disclosure: I am the husband of one of the models Nimoy used for his "Full Body Project", and she might be interviewed as a part of the documentary; However, cutting room floors being what they are, even virtually, that's not a guarantee she would actually be IN the doc.]
Youtube

Ghost Towns Is the First 8K Video Posted To YouTube -- But Can You Watch It? 181

Iddo Genuth writes: 4K videos and movies are still far from common and now 8K seems to start making its appearance online. A few days ago, what might be the first 8K video entitled "Ghost Towns" was published on Youtube and you can now watch it for yourself in its full 7680 × 4320 pixel glory — that is if you happen to have access to a 8K display (or projector).

The video was created by cinematographer Luke Neumann who used a 6K EPIC DRAGON camera using some advanced and complex techniques such as shooting in portrait orientation and then stitched the video together in Adobe After Effects. Some shots simply scaled up by 125% from 6.1K to meet the 7.6K standard and handheld stuff was 6K scaled up by 125% and sharpened up.

Youtube is now offering an 8K option and according to Google: "8K video has been supported since 2010, but that labeling for 8K video (the 4320p/8K quality setting like pictured above) was added "earlier this year — but presumably there was noting to view — until now...
Businesses

Bell Media President Says Canadians Are 'Stealing' US Netflix Content 408

iONiUM writes: Today the Bell Media president claimed that Canadians are "stealing" U.S. Netflix, saying the practice is "stealing just like stealing anything else." She went on to say that it is socially unacceptable behavior, and "It has to become socially unacceptable to admit to another human being that you are VPNing into U.S. Netflix. Like throwing garbage out of your car window, you just don't do it. We have to get engaged and tell people they're stealing." Of course, I'm sure the fact that Bell Media profits from Canadian content has nothing to do with these remarks.