he New Yorker is arguably the primary venue for complex contemporary fiction around, so I often wonder why the cover shouldn’t, at least every once in a while, also give it the old college try? In the past, the editors have generously let me test the patience of the magazine’s readership with experiments in narrative elongation: multiple simultaneous covers, foldouts, and connected comic strips within the issue. This week’s cover, “Mirror,” a collaboration between The New Yorker and the radio program “This American Life,” tries something similar. Earlier in the year, I asked Ira Glass (for whose 2007-2009 Showtime television show my friend John Kuramoto, d.b.a. “Phoobis,” and I did two short cartoons) if he had any audio that might somehow be adapted, not only as a cover but also as an animation that could extend the space and especially the emotion of the usual New Yorker image. I knew that Ira was the right person to go to with this experiment in storytelling form, because he’s probably one of the few people alive making a living with a semiotics degree.
Thames Valley police has launched a YouTube campaign to raise awareness of sexual consent that uses an analogy about making tea. The campaign, Consent: It’s as Simple as Tea, runs for almost three minutes and features stick figures making, accepting or rejecting cups of tea in various situations.
A few weeks before the warm Christmas of Southern California, the writers of The Simpsons — the longest-running sitcom in the US, starring everybody’s favorite family: Homer, Marge, Lisa, Baby Maggie, and their son Bart — take a retreat. The rest of the season, the team breaks scripts in the sterile writers’ rooms of the Fox studio lot, but the creative process always began in a home or the big conference space of a nearby hotel. Each writer brings a fleshed-out minute or so episode pitch, which they deliver with gusto to a room full of funny people. They laugh, take notes, then co-creator Matt Groening, executive producer James L. Brooks, and showrunner Al Jean — a portion of the braintrust from the earliest days — provide feedback.
Terry Gilliam is arguably best know as a director of films that inspire millions of dorm room posters: Time Bandits, Brazil, Twelve Monkeys, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and a perpetually in-development, never completed Don Quixote project. But before those films, Gilliam served as the animator for British comedy troupe Monty Python, eventually becoming a full fledged member. Forty years ago, he co-directed what’s become one of the most beloved cult films of all time, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Today, 14 minutes of lost animation from that film have been resurfaced on the official Monty Python YouTube page.
Path tracing is a method for generating digital images by simulating how light would interact with objects in a virtual world. The path of light is traced by shooting rays (line segments) into the scene and tracking them as they bounce between objects. Path tracing gets its name from calculating the full path of light from a light source to the camera. Light can potentially bounce between many objects inside the virtual scene. As a ray of light hits a surface, it bounces and creates new rays of light. A path can therefore consists of a number of rays. By collecting all of the rays along a path together, the contributions of a light source and the surfaces along the path can be calculated. These calculations are used to produce a final image. In many versions of path tracing (including the approach Hyperion takes), paths are started from the camera and shot into the scene to find connections to light sources. This is the opposite of how light behaves in the real world, but by doing this backwards, it is much easier to find light paths that will actually hit the camera.
Inside Out is the story of a young girl named Riley who moves to San Francisco from the midwest with her parents. To some extent, the story is about how she adjusts and how her relationship to her family changes along with their locale. But, in parallel, there is an internal story being told about her emotions — Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust. Emotions which influence how Riley feels, acts and reacts to events in her life — as reflected by some very clever construct building that I won’t spoil here. This dual story led to some sticky issues when it came to representing and differentiating them in ways that contributed to the story. I spent some time at Pixar recently, watching just under an hour of Inside Out and talking to some of the creative people behind the movie. Though there were dozens of anecdotes, a couple of them stood out to me as unique examples of Pixar’s ability to solve technical and creative problems through tool building.