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The first time I ever came to this city was a few years ago, when I filmed interviews in New Paltz for my first feature documentary.  On that trip, I had just turned 24 and was driving a Rent-a-Wreck down a NY highway when…BAM!  The hood flew straight up into the windshield.  By comparison, this trip was off to a much better start.  Now I was in New York with the same nearly finished documentary  in time for Week 1 of the 2012 IFP Independent Documentary Lab.

After a week of workshops with 9 other amazing projects, I came out with this list of what you should avoid during Post-Production.  I know, because I did them all!  Don’t do what I did, do what I say.

1.  Don’t edit the film yourself, you crazy clod

Documentary is the medium that involves the most frightening ratio of material shot to material used, so if you are mad enough to do it by yourself, it can take years, and you can lose your way.  For example, I waded through 40 interviews with 1960s/1970s rock climbers conducted over 30 days while living out of a 1976 VW van with my other 3 crew from LA to New York (that would be the 2nd time I made it to this city).   I thought I was crazy, until of course I met our friends & labmates For Thousands of Miles – for their intriguing genre-bending doc, they spent 3 months on a van filming one man on a bicycle!

The bottom line is that, after awhile, it becomes incredibly hard to see the forest for the trees.  If you feel you HAVE to edit it yourself, or if you can’t afford to do otherwise, I’d suggest what we’re doing: edit yourself, and then hand it over to a professional with fresh eyes to get you the last of the way.

2.  If you must edit it yourself, don’t skip vital information in lieu of Memento-styled twists and turns.

“You’ve spent 800 hours with your subject matter.  Your audience only has 90 minutes.  They’ll never know the nuanced story you know,” said Cindy Lee (Editor Hot Coffee) during the editing session with the striking Bronx-set Lab doc Lucky.  Cindy was speaking generally, but I took it specifically for our film.  Holy heck, I thought, that’s the bottom line – take out the extraneous attempts to encompass the meaning of life, and look at only your 90-minute slot.  A little simplification can go a long way.

3. Don’t forget what you learned in High School English.

Speaking of coherency, remember when you had to write an essay about “Julius Cesar” and your teacher insisted you write a thesis sentence at the end of your first paragraph?  Well that can be incredibly useful in a film, too.  If you start off clearly articulating a thesis, you can save yourself the painful revisions and cuts where you completely throw out segments of your story after realizing, in an editing session with Penelope Falk (Editor Joan Rivers: Piece of Work) on Day 2 of the Doc Lab, that one part of your film really has nothing to do with anything else.  This isn’t to say that you can’t make a great doc that does not follow conventional structure, but if you start off with a clear thesis, you will never unintentionally go astray.

4.  Don’t fall off the face of the planet while you edit.

Because believe me its going to take you longer than you think, and you can’t afford to lose all the work you’ve done connecting with your audience through social media channels.  (And stop rolling your eyes when people say ‘social media’).  So send out your newsletters.  Remind your Kickstarter backers that you haven’t taken their donations and run off the to Cayman Islands.  Update your blog.  You don’t need to post about your editing process because, frankly, no one cares.  In fact, it may be better not to post about your film at all!  As Gary Hustwit of Helveticasaid when he came to speak to the Labs, “the idea of your film is often much better than the film itself.”  It’s better to find interesting stuff loosely related to your subject matter, like the national progress of East Timor if you’re spy-thriller-love-story Lab doc Alias Ruby Blade or quirky pre-Beat poetry if you’re Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton.  That way your supporters will be engaged, your friends will stop asking you if you’re still working on “that film” and your mother will know you’re alive.

5. Don’t wait until the very end to get all your formal releases and/or a Lawyer.

Sounds obvious, but sometimes you can’t afford to license material until you know for sure you will be using it (like at Picture Lock, or beyond if you’re waiting to get into a Festival to get Fest rights).  Frustratingly, the licensor may change his/her mind, or may up the rates you thought you were going to get.  One suggestion in the Labs was to get a written agreement about the rate and/or conditions of your license beforehand as an assurance if you can’t license from the beginning.  And as entertainment law specialist Roz Lichter pointed out in the Labs legal session, don’t forget about crew memos too!  (Crew memos?  You mean I have to have a signed agreement with my cousin that by holding the boom mic he does not own any of my movie? Yes.)

Of course, don’t even start to edit without releases for your interview subjects. People change their minds and sometimes catastrophe strikes.  In my film, one of our subjects died in a tragic climbing accident a month after our interview; it was difficult enough to figure out what this meant for the film without having to worry about rights.  Be straightforward about your legal matters, and save yourself complications later.

6. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

One of the Lab leaders, Susan Motamed (Producer, Enron: Smartest Guys in the Room) said something like this, “Don’t spend money on something you can’t afford just because someone else said you had to.”  Especially when you’re making your first professional feature, it’s hard to tell what you really need to be competitive.  The truth is that each film needs different things.  Consider the post costs of eccentric Lab doc Our Nixon which is entirely archival (entirely!) featuring the first EVER transfers of 8mm reels confiscated from White House aides during Watergate.  Compare the needs of their telecine to the needs of the gripping Lab doc These Birds Walk which has  no archives but was exquisitely shot on multiple trips to Pakistan. Both may spend the same amount in Post, but on completely different things.

On day 2, we took a field trip to Final Frame Post, which was kind of like taking a group of Tiny Tims window-shopping for Christmas Dinner.  The talented people at Final Frame showed us samples of current docs they were working on (drool) but also pointed out that some projects could succeed having a freelancer do color correction in a living room and exporting uncompressed.  No two projects require the same treatments, and if you don’t need something you can’t afford to get, don’t go broke for it.

7.  Don’t obsess about how the people in the film will like the movie.

Ethics of representing your subjects is a salient topic in documentary.  Lab doc Where God Likes to Be had to first win over the elders on the Montana Blackfeet Reservation for their story.  Focusing on something completely different than previous docs about Reservation life, 3 young Blackfeet kids deciding their future, won over the Elders and comprised the core of their film.

There are other instances however when personal relationships work against the needs of the film.  In particular, you will eventually have to let go of something (or someone) for the good of the story.  Just remember that at the end of the day, the people who participated in your film will be prouder to have had a small role in a great film rather than a big roll in a film that wasn’t as compelling.  And, if you can’t bear to cut someone’s interesting tidbit, as Lab leader Maureen Ryan (Producer, Man on Wire) mentioned – though not a tritely as I am saying in this context — there’s always DVD bonus features!

8.  Don’t forget to look around.  

Between your editing cave, obsessive devotion to your film, and “film, film, film” tweets, you may start to feel isolated from the other creative people in the world.  Of everything we were exposed to in the first week of the doc labs, one of the best aspects was sharing experiences with the 9 other promising films at the Lab.  As IFP Senior Programmer Milton Tabbot mentioned on the first day, this year’s IFP Lab featured one of the most diverse collections of docs, and maybe this was why there was much interest and fraternity between our teams.  On the networking night with the general membership of IFP, the doc teams could be found excitedly swapping stories over beers one room over from the networking fray.  From braving Border Town outlaws in  Purgatorio or poetically preserving the ritualized traditions of the remote Haida in Survival Prayer, each of us had taken a long, bold journey with our films.  You could put together the most comprehensive “What-Not-To-Do” list from us, and somehow we had still made the films we’d set out to make.  So don’t forget to look up from your laptop once in a while to see what other people like you are doing, because it can be greatly rewarding.  And when you find them, consider buying the first round.

Article by IFM


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In South Africa economics is directly determinant. The evolution, structure and ideological complications of South African cinema begin in the context of the history and social contradictions that developed as a result of the mining revolution. This revolution in South African economic history occurred following the discovery of diamonds and gold in the 1860s and 1880s in Kimberly and Johannesburg respectively. The effect of this discovery was the industrialization of the country through the mining industry, and it had consequences nationally and internationally. Internationally, it facilitated British national capital’s deeper penetration into the country, where British exploitative ventures continue today protected by conservative ideology.

Nationally, the effects of this historical event were even more profound. It made possible the accumulation of capital from the surplus extracted from labor, particularly black labor. It transformed the demographic composition of the country qualitatively and quantitatively, shifting the population from rural areas to the cities. In other words, the economic revolution impelled by mining created the context in which British imperialism, supported by other European imperialisms, cemented its stranglehold on the many strands of cultural formation which were then emerging. It altered the country’s cultural coordinates in immeasurable ways. Specifically in relation to film, music halls changed into cinema halls, thus making way for the penetration of a new film culture.

The first serious theoretical formulations of the ideology and philosophy of apartheid, which has had horrendous consequences on South African film culture, found expression in mining publications.  Apartheid ideology completely shaped the structure of South African films. From the moment of its emergence, South African cinema has been obsessed with the ideology of apartheid — not in opposition to it but rather attempting to imprint it on the historical imagination and consciousness of black people (Africans, Indians and so-called Coloureds). In contrast, South African cinema in exile has contested such an imposition of cultural hegemony.

Although films were shown on a permanent basis in the country from about 1909 on, the first film was shown in Johannesburg, Monday, May 11, 1896.  The cultural formation of the audiences for early films had been prepared for indirectly by the mining industry. The cinema audience in mining compounds consisted of two large groups: a black peasantry in the process of being proletarianized into mineworkers, and white agricultural workers in the process of being transformed into an industrial proletariat. Miners had previously been entertained through the musical hall art forms. Film now destroyed the previous art forms and colonized that cultural space. Many immigrants also constituted a large portion of the audience, especially Jews from Eastern Europe fleeing constant pogroms who had come to South Africa seeking fortunes in the mining industry. In the major towns, the emerging white middle class patronized film; some of their wealth came from the developing manufacturing industries, industries which were given impetus by the diversification of expanding mining capital. In other words, it was the mining industry which gave impetus to the development of film culture in South Africa.

The mining revolution also led to the outbreak of a modern imperialist war in Africa. It was modern in the sense that it was not over land and territory but rather over who controlled the State and industrialization processes. The Boer War of 1899-1901 between British imperial interests and Boer (Afrikaans) national interests provides the historical context in which perhaps for the first time South African propaganda films were made. Major British film companies (British Mutoscope and Biograph Co., R.W. Paul, and the Warwick Trading Company) and various other companies (Pathé, Gaumont, Gibbons, Edison and others) were at the center of this propaganda warfare. As Elizabeth Grottle Strebel, social historian of films, writes, the British film companies were merely interested in perpetuating “the myths and symbols of British imperialist iconography.” Two kinds of films were made during this imperialist war: raw documentary films and staged propaganda films. As Strebel continues, these anti-Boer propaganda films had the same preoccupations as those present at the birth of cinema: the realism of Lumière and the magic of Mélies.

The early, marked influence of propaganda filmmaking has had profound consequences for the development and history of film culture in South Africa. First, this is a particular form of the imperialist transplanting of film culture. That is, if we look at film as the battleground of iconographic representations and interests, we will see that until recently film production in South Africa was never considered an artistic creative act but rather as a propaganda instrument against what one perceived as one’s enemies. If in 1900, imperialist British film iconography depicted Afrikaner people and culture as the very essence of “barbarism,” from 1910 (the date of the political formation of present day South Africa), the very same Afrikaaner people, now to defend white state interests, have developed a complex film iconography at whose center Blacks (Africans, Indians and so-called Coloured) are depicted as demons. In other words, South African film iconography has a history constructed on lies and falsehood, not on authentic representations. Hegemonic film culture in South Africa is currently controlled by the Broederbond, an elite cultural organization whose intent is to perpetuate the hegemonic control of Afrikaans culture and the dominance of white nationalism.

Not surprisingly, the “national culture” is one of mediocrity. No film of outstanding quality has emerged from imposing the ideology of white supremacy on cinema. Interestingly and paradoxically, the two most important film features made in the history of South African cinema, were made by two U.S. film directors. (They will be referred to in a moment, for they represent the two opposed extremes apparent in South African film history. They both indicate clearly that the history of our film culture is Janus-faced.)

The second major factor in South African film history is the penetration of U.S. and British film companies from the very beginnings of a national film-viewing culture. The transformations in our film culture mentioned earlier were effected by many of these foreign companies. Between the closing phase of the Boor War in 1901 and the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910, mostly by British companies made many short films, especially documentaries. South Africa was still in many ways a British colony, though the provinces of Transvaal and Orange Free State had already become independent republics in the second half of the nineteenth century. At this moment, the British film company, Warwick Trading Company, dominated our film screen through production, distribution and exhibition. The first feature film in South Africa, THE GREAT KIMBERLEY DIAMOND ROBBERY, was made in 1910 by the Springbok Production Company.  The film’s tide indicates the importance of the mining revolution to the then developing historical imagination in our film culture.

In fact, historical imagination characterized the film which begins South African cinema: DE VOORTREKKERS/ WINNING A CONTINENT. This 1916 film was produced by a South-African-owned company, African Film Productions Limited, under the directorship of I.W. Schlesinger. The formation of this film company and the making of this film were shaped by the historical conditions of the First World War. During the war period, because of blockages and shortages, Hollywood’s dominance in supplying films to the world market was seriously affected. In Russia the war created the material and cultural conditions which facilitated the emergence of the cinema of Dziga Vertov, Pudovkin, Kuleshov and others, however much they drew their inspiration from the work of Griffith.

At a lower level of intellectual inspiration and cultural richness, the war ended the dominance of foreign film companies in South Africa. The market for films was expanding while the supply of films was contracting. This was the historical logic in founding companies like African Film Productions Limited and making blockbuster films like WINNING A CONTINENT. Unlike in Russia, which developed intellectual capital in the process of building socialism, in South Africa, as capitalism consolidated itself, the capitalist market itself needed an absence of originality in our historical imagination.

This poverty of historical imagination is in full display in WINNING A CONTINENT, which defines our (both black and white South Africans) cultural origins in cinema. The film reveals the shortage of intellectual capital then which continues to the present. The making of DE VOORTREKKERS/ WINNING A CONTINENT necessitated importing a U.S. film director, Harold Shaw, who earlier had worked for Edison. The film itself has been a subject of many essays. The racist iconography blighting this film was modeled on Griffith’s BIRTH OF A NATION. Whereas for the Russians what was fascinating about Griffith was his invention of a new film grammar and syntax, our white compatriots were most fascinated with his racist iconography. This iconography would poison the whole film culture in South Africa for approximately four decades (until another U.S. independent film director was to overturn the terms of its dominance). DE VOORTREKKERS articulates the complex structure of South African history in Manichean terms, a Manicheanism so characteristic of the philosophy and ideology of apartheid. It assumes an unending struggle between the forces of civilization (read, white South Africans) and the demons of barbarism (read, black South Africa). DE VOORTREKKERS reveals the fragmentation and distortion of South African history, even much more than it reveals British imperialist ideology or Afrikaanerdom.

This fragmentation of South African history corresponds to the fragmentation of our social reality, in class and racial terms. The ideology of apartheid dictated that there should be separate and distinct cinemas for the “different” public spheres in South Africa. In this way we have a cinema which can best be designated as apartheid black cinema. It was founded in 1920 on the suggestion of a U.S. pastor, Ray Phillips of the American Board of Missions.  Black apartheid cinema was originally directed at the African public sphere in the mining compounds; it had the intent of “sublimating criminal tendencies.” The Chamber of Mines and the Municipal Native Affairs Department took an interest in developing this kind of cinema. With time the apartheid government was to fund it extensively through various ministerial departments.

Apartheid black cinema is made by white South Africans (directors, cameramen, editors, etc.) on the basis of the dominant ideology of apartheid and fed to the black public sphere. With the passage of time, it has extended its diabolical tentacles from mining compounds to black urban areas and Bantustans (Homelands). While the production side has been absolutely controlled by whites, who reap enormous profits, the performers are usually Africans. Recently, Africans have also entered the production side. These films are usually made in the Zulu language. The specific aim of apartheid black cinema is to corrupt and demobilize the historical and political imagination of black people. Such a cinema reveals another way in which the ideology of apartheid has spelled mediocrity and disaster for South African cinema.

Parallel with this making of apartheid black cinema was the making of Afrikaans-language cinema. On the whole, the structure of films in this tradition, as Keyan Tomaselli has convincingly argued, depends on a dialectic of insider versus outsider. According to Tomaselli, the fact that the gold mining industry was dominated by British imperial interests against Afrikaaner national interests, the theme of xenophobia pervades this cinema. With time, xenophobia became projected against blacks. Originating in the economic sphere (white versus white), this xenophobia moved to the political plane (white against black), where it remains. In its essentials, xenophobia was part of the ideological shield of Afrikaanerdom (white nationalism).

In contrast, thirty years ago a film was shot secretly in South Africa which, with the passage of time, has prefigured what an authentic national cinema in our country could possibly be. COME BACK AFRICA, by the independent U.S. film director, Lionel Rogosin, is undoubtedly the highest achievement of film culture in South Africa. The film was banned in 1959. It was indeed a momentous occasion on May 1, 1988, when Rogosin’s film made its first public appearance in our troubled country.

Lionel Rogosin’s first film, ON THE BOWERY (1955) depicted New York City’s skid row. It made possible the emergence of the New American Cinema of Jonas Mekas, John Cassavettes, Fredrick Wiseman, and the consolidation of the British Free Cinema of John Schlesinger, Lindsay Anderson and Karel Reisz. One has only to consult Basil Wright’s superlative praise of Rogosin’s first film at its premiere, even comparing it to Dovzhenko and Dostoeyevsky, to understand what a momentous occasion its appearance was.[12] Its poetic intermixture of documentary and fiction was a culmination of Flaherty’s documentary tradition as well the beginnings of a lyrical experimental documentary form that was to find supreme expression in the work of Santiago Alvarez.

One of the things that makes COME BACK AFRICA one of the serious documents of our cultural history is that it is the last intellectual snapshot of a brilliant literary generation before its destruction in the Sharpeville massacre of 1960. In the film we encounter Bloke Modisane, Lewis Nkosi, Can Themba, Miriam Makeba and others. Lewis Nkosi, who wrote the script of COME BACK AFRICA with Lionel Rogosin and Bloke Modisane, and who acted in the film, was always aware of the film’s historic importance. In an article immediately following the film’s international premiere, Nkosi, one of Africa’s foremost literary critics, praised it in the following terms:

“The film is not great by any standard. There are too many technical weaknesses in the development of the story. However, with all these faults, the story emerges as a powerful document of social truth such as no other producer’s camera has unfolded in this country.”

On the linguistic plane, as much as in its historical projection of reality, the film displays its certainties and certitudes. Linguistically, the film employs three South African languages which are at the center of our historical and cultural experiences. Zulu is spoken by workers in the mining compound. Afrikaans is spoken by policemen arresting Africans. And English is spoken by African intellectuals in a shebeen and also by businessmen. In other words, the film projects the Zulu language as the language of class solidarity, the Afrikaans language as the language of coercion and repression, and the English language as the language of commerce and intellectual exchange. Though in a sense the film’s imaginative designations are simple, they nonetheless capture an element of historical truth. For example, iconographically, the film opens with a silhouetted scene of the mining compounds to which the miners are coming. This opening reveals Rosogin’s intuitive brilliance, for as the present essay has attempted to indicate, the mining revolution was at the center of the South African historical experience. In other words, the film opens on the question of labour and capital. It is the dialectic between the two which determines the structural working out of the film.

Still on the iconographic plane, COME BACK AFRICA uniquely displays a positive image of Africans on the screen from beginning to end. It does not offer a romanticization or distortion of black imagery but concretizes Black cultural forms. From the first appearance of Zacharia, the chief protagonist, among a group of workers, to the closing moments of the film, when crying in despair at the death of his wife, he bangs the table, we sense the film is attempting to convey the sense and structure of South African history. The film equally attempts to draw attention to the tension between city and country, the latter supposedly the center of traditionalism and the latter the locale of cosmopolitanism. In the famous shebeen scene, if Zacharia represents the force of traditionalism, then Lewis Nkosi playing himself represents the pole of cosmopolitanism. Can Themba in the film represents anarchism; no doubt, Miriam Makeba represents spirituality. In other words, the film is a rich tableau of representations, of historical and iconographic contrasts. The true significance of COME BACK AFRICA is that since its making thirty years ago, and its first appearance on the public screens today back at home, it poses one fundamental question: What ought to be the nature and structure of an authentic South African national cinema?

One wishes that this film by an independent U.S-Jewish film director had been made by Lionel Ngakane, the father of South African cinema. A film like COME BACK AFRICA compels us South Africans to pose to ourselves a critical question concerning Lionel Ngakane: Why has he been unable in exile to establish the guideposts of the South African cinema, despite the fact that he is its unacknowledged father. What are the historical blockages which have prevented Ngakane from constructing a solid historical vision in our cinema! We cannot answer this question right now for we do not possess adequate intellectual instruments with which to unravel its intractable complexities. With the passage of time, however, this question will become crucial in our cultural history.

In the meantime, within the past decade, an independent film culture has been flourishing in South Africa. Undoubtedly, still more outstanding things are still to be expected from the post-Ngakane independent filmmakers like, Barry Feinberg, Harriet Gavshon and others. The new film culture’s defining center is its unmitigated hostility to the cultural politics of apartheid. With the unbanning of COME BACK AFRICA and its historical rendezvous with that film, this emerging independent film and video movement will find its cultural history mirrored in this older work. Judging by the quality of films and videos shown in Amsterdam in a two-week festival, “Culture in Another South Africa,” from December 8 to December 21, 1987, in a few years time an independent film culture in South Africa will command world-wide recognition.


Source Code,  the second film by British director Duncan Jones, opened on Friday, and like his debut feature Moon it offers a lot of food for thought. As with Moon, its protagonist is a loner: Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a former helicopter pilot, already a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, who finds himself on a commuter train with a beautiful stranger (Christina, played by Michelle Monaghan). Through painful experience, Stevens learns that he is part of an operation to relive history – enabled by the ‘source code’ of the title – which allows him to experience the last eight minutes of a dead schoolteacher who was killed when the train was destroyed by a terrorist bomb.

As an action movie, Source Code delivers plenty of breathless, race-against-time thrills. But there’s plenty more to Jones’s film than fistfights and fireballs – indeed, as Kim Newman noted in his glowing four-star Empire review, “This is the sort of clever-clever picture which requires multiple viewings to put all the pieces together.” But where do you need to be looking? To shed some light on just a few of the secrets, in-jokes and twists hidden within, we asked Jones himself for some clues that would help our readers crack the code. And, somewhat fittingly, he came up with eight…

1. Pay attention to the opening title graphic for an early clue.

2. A little nod to Moon. Check Christina’s ringtone.

3. If you listen very carefully to Colter Stevens’ father, you may find you recognize the voice.

4. Look closely at the “bean sculpture” as the camera tracks in on Colter and Christina.

5. Notice that director Duncan Jones makes a cameo in the film – in the form of a coffee and doughnut shop.

 Keep an eye on Captain Goodwin’s eye-line, for an important hint that will pay off later in the film.

7. Colter follows a man on to the train platform only to get into a fight. Perhaps he might have done better to look at the man sitting on the roof of the van in the background behind him.

8. Remember the shape of the cockpit window.

If you’ve already seen the movie, did you get them all? If you’re seeing it this week, let us know how you get on. But if you need to see it again, well, don’t let us stop you…

Article by EMPIRE 

Directed by: Paul B. Cummings & Tony Fiandaca

Tony vs Paul info and FAQs:

A stop motion battle between two friends turned enemies.


1. The video took two months to film and edit.

2. The music is available here:…

3. Nothing is fake and no green screens were used. The only computer animated part was the letters falling on the page.

4. Yes, we really did jump all those times.

5. I edited it with Final Cut Pro

6. The camera we used was a Canon GL1 with both digital stills being taken, and footage being shot.

7. It was filmed in Massachusetts in the following towns: Arlington, Medford, Upton, Gloucester

8. There are 4,000+ still shots in the video.

rate & leave comments on imdb:

Written & Directed by: Paul Cummings & Tony Fiandaca
Starring: Paul Cummings & Tony Fiandaca
Edited by: Paul Cummings
Music by: Chris Donovan

Wildstyle is a complicated and intricate form of graffiti. Due to its complexity, it is often very hard to read by people who are not familiar with it. Usually, this form of graffiti incorporates interwoven and overlapping letters and shapes. It may include arrows, spikes, and other decorative elements depending on the technique used. The numerous layers and shapes make this style extremely difficult to produce homogeneously, which is why developing an original style in this field is seen as one of the greatest artistic challenges to a graffiti writer. Wildstyle pieces are also known as “burners”, meaning “hot” as fire. Wildstyles are seen as one of the most complicated and difficult tags and are often used to get an artist’s work seen (rather than to put a political message or any other kind of message across).


Pioneers of Wildstyle

The original pioneers of wildstyle were Tracy  168 and Stay High 149, and later such notables as Zephyr and Fate 170 advanced the highly personalized style.





Styles of the Wildstyle

Wildstyles commonly include a set of arrows, curves and letters which have been so transformed as to be rendered arcane to the eyes of non-graffiti artists. It has also been common practice to incorporate 3D elements into the pieces, and even transform the whole letter structure into three dimensions, to add to the depth of visual perception of the work. Many artists have different elements to add to their wildstyle that gain that writer a good deal of respect within the graffiti scene, especially if one creates his own style and stays original and creative. Veteran artists tend to go for more complicated forms of wildstyle in which the types are hard to read but broad in creativity. Getting one’s style mastered is key to achieving this success.







Wild Style 1983

Wild Style was the first hip hop motion picture. Released theatrically in 1983 by First Run Features and later re-released for home video by Rhino Home Video, the movie was directed by  Charlie Ahearn (director of the feature films Deadly Art of Survival and Fear of Fiction) and featured  Fab Five FreddyLee Quinonesthe Rock Steady CrewThe Cold Crush BrothersPatti AstorSandra Fabara and Grandmaster Flash. The protagonist “Zoro” is played by the legendary New York graffiti artist “Lee” George Quinones. An early version of the ‘Wild Style’ logo appeared in the Fall of 1981 when Charlie Ahearn hired graffiti legend Dondi to paint the ‘window down’ subway car piece that appears in the film . The Dondi piece was the inspiration for the animated title sequence designed by the artist Zephyr in 1982 . The ‘Wild Style’ logo was designed by Zephyr and painted as a huge ‘burner’ mural by Zephyr, Revolt, and Sharp in the Summer of 1983 (3). The film is unique in that many of the actors’ roles were written to express their real-life personalities.

Article by Popular Mechanics

Humans have feared a robotic uprising since the machines first appeared in science fiction. Today, experts caution against a more insidious threat: We might like living with them too much.

Being hacked by a robot requires much less hardware than I expected. There’s no need for virtual-reality goggles or 3D holograms. There are no skullcaps studded with electrodes, no bulky cables or hair-thin nanowires snaking into my brain. Here’s what it takes: one pair of alert, blinking eyeballs.

I’m in the Media Lab, part of MIT’s sprawling campus in Cambridge, Mass. Like most designated research areas, the one belonging to the Personal Robots Group looks more like a teenage boy’s bedroom than some pristine laboratory—it bursts with knotted cables, old pizza boxes and what are either dissected toys or autopsied robots. Amid the clutter, a 5-foot-tall, three-wheeled humanoid robot boots up and starts looking around the room. It’s really looking, the oversize blue eyes tracking first, and the white, swollen, doll-like head following, moving and stopping as though focusing on each researcher’s face. Nexi turns, looks at me. The eyes blink. I stop talking, midsentence, and look back. It’s as instinctive as meeting a newborn’s roving eyes. What do you want? I feel like asking. What do you need? If I was hoping for dispassionate, journalistic distance—and I was—I never had a chance.

“Right now it’s doing a really basic look-around,” researcher Matt Berlin says. “I think it’s happy, because it has a face to look at.” In another kind of robotics lab, a humanoid bot might be motivated by a specific physical goal—cross the room without falling, find the appropriate colored ball and give it a swift little kick. Nexi’s functionality is more ineffable. This is a social robot. Its sole purpose is to interact with people. Its mission is to be accepted.

That’s a mission any truly self-aware robot would probably turn down. To gain widespread acceptance could mean fighting decades of robot-related fear and loathing. Such stigmas range from doomsday predictions of machines that inevitably wage war on mankind to the belief that humanoid robots will always be hopelessly unnerving and unsuitable companions.

For Nexi, arguably the biggest star of the human–robot interaction (HRI) research field, fame is already synonymous with fear. Before visiting the Media Lab, I watched a video of Nexi that’s been seen by thousands of people on YouTube. Nexi rolls into view, pivots stiffly to face the camera and introduces itself in a perfectly pleasant female voice. If the goal was to make Nexi endearing, the clip is a disaster. The eyes are big and expressive, the face is childish and cute, but everything is just slightly off, like a possessed doll masquerading as a giant toddler. Or, for the existentially minded, something more deeply disturbing—a robot with real emotions, equally capable of loving and despising you. Viewers dubbed its performance “creepy.”

Now, staring back at Nexi, I’m an instant robot apologist. I want to shower those clips with embarrassingly positive comments, to tell the haters and the doubters that the future of HRI is bright. There’s no way seniors will reject the meds handed to them by chattering, winking live-in-nurse bots. Children, no doubt, will love day-care robots, even if the bots sometimes fail to console them, or grind to an unresponsive halt because of buggy software or faulty battery packs. To turn today’s faceless Roombas into tomorrow’s active, autonomous machine companions, social robots need only to follow Nexi’s example, tapping into powerful, even uncontrollable human instincts.

That’s why Nexi’s metallic arms and hands are drifting around in small, lifelike movements. It’s why Nexi searches for faces and seems to look you in the eye. When it blinks again, with a little motorized buzz, I realize I’m smiling at this thing. I’m responding to it as one social, living creature to another. Nexi hasn’t said a word, and I already want to be its friend.

As it turns out, knowing your brain is being hacked by a robot doesn’t make it any easier to resist. And perhaps that’s the real danger of social robots. While humans have been busy hypothesizing about malevolent computers and the limits of rubber flesh, roboticists may have stumbled onto a more genuine threat. When face to face with actual robots, people may become too attached. And like human relationships, those attachments can be fraught with pitfalls: How will grandma feel, for example, when her companion bot is packed off for an upgrade and comes back a complete stranger?

When a machine can push our Darwinian buttons so easily, dismissing our deep-seated reservations with a well-timed flutter of its artificial eyelids, maybe fear isn’t such a stupid reaction after all. Maybe we’ve just been afraid of the wrong thing.

Robots began scaring us long before they existed. In 1921, the Czech play R.U.R., or Rossum’s Universal Robots, simultaneously introduced the word “robot” and the threat of a robot apocalypse. In a proclamation issued in the play’s first act, the robots, built as cheap, disposable laborers, make their intentions clear: “Robots of the world, we enjoin you to exterminate mankind. Don’t spare the men. Don’t spare the women.” The origins of the evil robot can be traced back even further (see page 59), but R.U.R.’s new species of bogeyman was all the rage in the pulp sci-fi of the ’40s and ’50s—well before the actual research field of robotics. In fact, I, Robot author Isaac Asimov coined the term “robotics” at the same time that he began developing ethical laws for robots in his short stories.

By the time Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800 gunned down an entire police precinct in the 1984 movie The Terminator, the robot insurgency had become one of pop culture’s most entrenched clichés. The film has since become shorthand for a specific fear: that artificial intelligence (AI) will become too intelligent, too obsessed with self-preservation. The Terminator colors the way we think about robots, AI and even the booming business of unmanned warfare. The Office of Naval Research, among others, has studied whether ethical guidelines will be needed for military robots, and in a 2008 preliminary report the authors tackle the bleakest possible endgame: “Terminator scenarios where machines turn against us lesser humans.”

But according to Patrick Lin, an assistant professor of philosophy at California Polytechnic State University and an ethics fellow at the U.S. Naval Academy, the need for ethical bots isn’t restricted to the battlefield. “Social robots probably pose a greater risk to the average person than a military robot,” Lin says. “They won’t be armed, but we will be coming face to face with them, quite soon.”

That, of course, is precisely the kind of quote reporters work hard to publish. The media homes in on juicy details about the hypothetical danger of self-organizing AI, and the prospect of amoral robots gunning down civilians. But the real threats posed by robots may have nothing to do with the Terminator scenario. Because compared to even the dumbest armed insurgent, robots are practically brain-dead.

Take Nexi, for example. Considered to be one of the most advanced social robots in the world, Nexi can understand only the most basic vocal instructions. During my visit, it couldn’t even do that—it was in the process of being loaded with behavioral software developed for another MIT robot, the fuzzy, big- eared Leonardo. Now in semi-retirement—its motors have gone rickety—Leonardo learns from humans such lessons as which blocks fit into a given puzzle, or which stuffed animal is “good” and which it should be afraid of. The implications are of the mind-blowing variety: a robot that listens to what we say and learns to crave or fear what we tell it to. Programmed with Leonardo’s smarts, “maybe in a year Nexi will be able to have a conversation with you that’s very boring,” MIT’s Berlin says. “But it may be pretty interesting if you’re trying to escape a burning building.”

If David Hanson, the founder of Hanson Robotics, has his way, the Texas-based company’s latest social robot, Zeno, could be talking circles around Nexi by the end of this year. At $2500, the 23-inch-tall humanoid robot would be a bargain, not because of its hardware but because of the code crammed into its cartoonish head. “The intelligent software can be aware of multiple people in a room,” Hanson says. “It builds a mental model of who you are, what you like and what you said. We’re getting to the point where it can hold an open-ended, open-domain conversation.” Hanson plans to roll out a $250 mass-market version in 2011 or 2012, with the same facial- and vocal-recognition capabilities. His goal is to provide a powerful testbed for researchers, while also harnessing AI algorithms to make a robot toy that’s actually fun for more than 15 minutes.

But for all of Nexi’s and Zeno’s social skills and painstaking simulation of emotional life, the bots are creatures of instinct, not introspection. Tracking software finds the human who’s speaking, a keyword triggers a scripted response, and when you leave the room, they don’t imagine where you’ve gone, whether the conversation helped or hurt you, or how to overthrow your government. “It’s very difficult for an artificial intelligence to project in a physical sense,” says Kevin Warwick, a professor of cybernetics at the University of Reading in England. “A robot can think about eventualities, but it can’t think even one step ahead about the consequences of its decisions.”

There are, of course, researchers who foresee rapid progress in computational neuroscience leading to inevitable “strong AI,” or artificial intelligence that’s not simply finishing your sentence in a Google search box, but mimicking human thought. IBM’s Blue Brain Project, for one, is energizing doomsayers with its goal of creating a virtual brain, potentially as soon as 2019. Still, without a neurological map of our own sense of consequence or morality, the breakthroughs that would allow for a truly power-hungry or evil robot are nowhere in sight. Contemplating them is a little like debating the ethical pitfalls of unregulated teleportation. Until someone builds the Enterprise, why worry if Scotty is going to drunk-dial himself into your house?

Robots will not rise up en masse anytime soon. Nexi won’t be e-mailing Zeno the “exterminate all humans” flier from R.U.R. to distribute among the world’s Roombas, Predators and assembly-line welding machines. It’s a fantasy, or, at best, a debate for another century. And like many robot fears, it threatens to drown out a more rational debate, one that stems from the fact that robots fall through nearly every legal and ethical crack. “If an autistic patient charges a robot and tries to damage it, how should the robot respond?” asks Lin, who is also planning to develop ethical guidelines for social healthcare bots.

“Should it shut down? It’s an expensive piece of equipment—should it push back?” When the robots arrive in force, are we prepared for the collateral damage, both physical and psychological, they could inflict?

When our eyes see a robot, one that we think is autonomous—moving, acting, functioning under its own power—our mirror neurons fire. These same neurons activate when we watch another animal move, and neuroscientists suspect they’re associated with learning, by way of imitation. Mirror neurons could care less about a wax statue, or a remote-control drone. It’s the autonomous robot that lights the fuse, tricking the mind into treating a mechanical device as a living thing.

And yet, like many aspects of human–robot interaction, the full repercussions are unknown. Science-fiction writers may have spent a half-century theorizing about the long-term effects of living with robots, but science is only getting started. While the field of HRI goes about the business of collecting data and sorting out its methodologies, drawing solid conclusions can be impossible, or at least irresponsible. Take those mirror neurons, for example. Neuroscientists can watch them flip on, but the exact purpose of those neurons is still up for debate.

Another, more common example of the brain’s mysterious response to robots is often referred to as the uncanny valley—a poetic way of saying, “robots are creepy.” Proposed in a 1970 paper by roboticist Masahiro Mori, the uncanny valley describes a graph showing that humans feel more familiar with, and possibly more comfortable toward, humanoid machines. Until, that is, the machine becomes too human-like, tripping the same psychological alarms associated with seeing a dead or unhealthy human. At that point the graph collapses, and then rises again with the response to a real human being, or, theoretically, a perfect android. Whether this is a distortion of our fight-or-flight instincts or something more complex, Mori’s word choice was important—the uncanny is not naked fear, but a mix of familiarity and fear, attraction and repulsion. It’s a moment of cognitive dissonance that the brain can’t reconcile, like encountering a talking Christmas tree, or a laughing corpse.

By academic standards, it’s evocative, exciting stuff, describing what appears to be a widespread phenomenon. Nexi’s unnerving YouTube clips seem like textbook examples, and the robot has plenty of unsettling company. The Japanese social bot CB2 (Child-robot with Biomimetic Body), with its realistic eyes, child-like proportions and gray skin, evokes near-universal horror among bloggers and reporters. Another Japanese robot, KOBIAN, features a wildly expressive face, with prominent eyebrows and a set of fully formed, ruby-red lips. It, too, was instantly branded creepy by the Western press. The designers of those social bots were actually trying to avoid the uncanny—Asian labs are packed with photorealistic androids that leap headlong into the twitching, undead depths of Mori’s valley.

But just as the Terminator scenario withers under scrutiny, the uncanny valley theory is nowhere near as tidy as it sounds. Based on those YouTube clips, I had expected my meeting with Nexi to be hair-curling. Instead, I can see my grin scattered across computer monitors in the Media Lab. Nexi’s forehead-mounted, depth-sensing infrared camera shows my face as a black and gray blur, and the camera in its right eye portrays me in color. I watch as I slip from the monitors, Nexi’s head and eyes smoothly tracking to the next face. I am not creeped out—I’m a little jealous. I want Nexi to look at me again. “There are some very practical things that we do to make our robots not creepy,” Berlin says. The secret to Nexi’s success, apparently, is within arm’s reach of the robot: a slightly battered hardcover book titled The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation—required reading for the Personal Robots Group. “We’re making an animation, in real time,” Berlin says. Like many animated characters, Nexi’s features and movements are those of exaggerated humanity. When it reaches for an object, its arm doesn’t shoot forward with eerie precision. It wastes time and resources, orienting its eyes, head and body, and lazily arcing its hand toward the target. Nexi is physically inefficient, but socially proficient.

How proficient? In interactions with hundreds of human subjects, including residents of three Boston-area senior centers, researchers claim that no one has run screaming from Nexi. Quite the opposite: Many seniors tried to shake the robot’s hand, or hug it. At least one of them planted a kiss on it. “It interacts with people in this very social way, so people treat it as a social entity in an interpersonal way, rather than a machine-like way,” Cynthia Breazeal, director of the Personal Robots Group, says. “In studies with Nexi, we’ve shown that if you have the robot behave and move in ways that are known to enhance trust and engagement, the reaction is the same as it is with people. You’re pushing the same buttons.”

That principle has proven true for CB2 and KOBIAN as well. The research leaders of both projects claim that the apprehension directed at their robots online and in the media never materializes in person. With the exception of one Thai princess, everyone who encountered CB2 liked it, according to Osaka University’s Minoru Asada. A Japanese newspaper brought a group of elderly to visit KOBIAN. They were “deeply pleased and moved,” Atsuo Takanishi, a professor of mechanical engineering at Waseda University, says, “as if the robot really had emotion.”

Even if the uncanny valley ends up being more of a shallow trench, one that’s easily leveled by actually meeting an android, the success of Nexi and company only raises a more profound question: Why do we fall so hard for robots?

“It turns out that we’re vulnerable to attaching, emotionally, to objects. We are extremely cheap dates,” says Sherry Turkle, director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. “Do we really want to exploit that?” Turkle has studied the powerful bond that can form between humans and robots such as Paro, an almost painfully cute Japanese baby-seal-shaped therapy bot that squirms in your arms, coos when caressed and recharges by sucking on a cabled pacifier. She has also documented assumptions of intelligence and even emotion reported by children playing with robotic dolls. The effect that Paro, a therapy bot that’s little more than an animatronic stuffed animal, had on senior citizens only reinforced her concerns. “Tell me again why I need a robot baby sitter?” Turkle asks. “What are we saying to the child? What are we saying to the older person? That we’re too busy with e-mail to care for those in need?”

To researchers like Turkle, the widespread deployment of social robots is as risky as it is inevitable. With some analysts estimating a $15 billion market for personal robots by 2015, the demand for expressive machines is expected to be voracious. At the heart of Turkle’s argument—a call for caution, essentially—is the fear of outsourcing human interaction to autonomous machines. Even more alarming are the potential beneficiaries of robotic companionship, from children in understaffed schools to seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s. Enlisting an army of robots to monitor the young and the elderly could be a bargain compared to the cost of hiring thousands of teachers and live-in nurses. But how will the first generation to grow up with robotic authority figures and friends handle unpredictable human relationships? Without more data, a well-intended response to manpower shortage could take on the ethical and legal dimensions of distributing a new and untested antidepressant.

One possible solution is to scale back the autonomy and use social bots as puppets. Huggable, another robot from MIT’s Personal Robots Group, is a teddy bear whose movements can be controlled through a Web browser. The researchers plan to use it to comfort hospitalized children; family members or doctors would operate it remotely. When I see Huggable, it’s actually a teddy bear skeleton. The furry coat, which will eventually be replaced with one that includes pressure- and touch-sensitive sensors, sits in a heap next to the bot as it fidgets. An open laptop shows the operator’s view through Huggable’s camera and a menu of simple commands, such as raising and lowering its arms, or aiming its head at my face.

For now, Huggable has no identity of its own. It’s a high-tech ventriloquist’s dummy channeling the voice of its operator, not a full-fledged social creature. In a recent paper describing the dangers of “parent” modes in Japanese robotic toys and the temptation to use robots as nannies, Noel Sharkey, a professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Sheffield in England, cited Huggable’s lack of autonomy as a selling point. “Such robots do not give rise to the same ethical concerns as exclusive or near-exclusive care by autonomous robots,” he wrote with a co-author. Semiautonomy might not cut payrolls, but it could be a safer way to roll out the first wave of social bots.

Sharkey’s and Turkle’s ominous point of view overlaps uncomfortably with the climate of fear that has always surrounded robots. And yet, nearly every researcher I spoke with agreed on a single point: We need ethical guidelines for robots, and we need them now. Not because robots lack a moral compass, but because their creators are operating in an ethical and legal vacuum. “When a bridge falls down, we have a rough-and-ready set of guidelines for apportioning out accountability,” says P.W. Singer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of Wired for War. “Now we have the equivalent of a bridge that can get up and move and operate in the world, and we don’t have a way of figuring out who’s responsible for it when it falls down.”

In a debate steeped in speculation and short on empirical data, a set of smart ethical guidelines could act as an insurance policy. “My concern is not about the immediate yuck factor: What if this robot goes wrong?” says Chris Elliott, a systems engineer and trial lawyer who contributed to a recent Royal Academy report on autonomous systems. “It’s that people will go wrong.” Even if the large-scale psychological impact of social robots turns out to be zero, Elliott worries that a single mishap, and the corresponding backlash, could reverse years of progress. Imagine the media coverage of the first patient killed by a robotic surgeon, an autonomous car that T-bones a school bus or a video clip of a robotic orderly wrestling with a dementia patient. “The law is way behind. We could reach a point where we’re afraid to deploy new beneficial robots because of the legal uncertainty,” Elliott says.

The exact nature of those guidelines is still anyone’s guess. One option would be to restrict the use of each robotic class or model to a specific mission—nurse bots that can visit with patients within a certain age range, or elder-care bots that watch for dangerous falls but aren’t built for small talk and snuggling. In the long run, David Hanson believes AI should be explicitly programmed to cooperate with humans, so that when robots self-evolve they have what he calls the “wisdom” not to harm us. Cynthia Breazeal’s take is more hard-nosed. “Now is certainly the time to start hammering things out,” she says. “People should have a serious dialogue before these robots are in contact with vulnerable populations.”

Philosophers, ethicists, lawyers and roboticists have only begun the hard work of fleshing out Asimov’s early code of robo-ethics. In the meantime, if there’s a way to dismantle our long-standing, irrational fear of robots and head off any risk of a Luddite backlash, it might be up to robots such as Nexi.

While I’m eyeing the gears and servos along Nexi’s exposed back, a tour group shows up in the Media Lab unannounced. A crowd of kids, maybe fifth or sixth graders, approaches the robot. Nexi is tracking their faces when one of the boys gets a little too close. The robot’s eyebrows swivel inward. The eyelids narrow as the head tilts down. And the worm motors that control Nexi’s fingers whine like electric drills as its fists clench.

“Whoa!” the kid in the lead says, and they all backpedal.

“Is it getting mad?” one girl asks the researchers.

Then Nexi’s face softens and, instantly, they’re laughing.

“So do you give robots emotions?” another girl asks.

I remember something Breazeal told me earlier: that for kids who grow up around robots, the uncanny valley could be irrelevant and The Terminator little more than a quaint story. Vulnerable or not, children interact with these machines differently.

Understanding the limits and strange potential of robotics might be as simple as letting them meet the models most like them—the ones built to live at their sides. Maybe Nexi could act as that first, limited exposure, a vaccine against the wild fears and warped perceptions the rest of us have grown up with.

The kids provoke Nexi’s anger response again, laughing more this time. When its eyebrows level, the lead boy jabs his friend and points at the robot’s impassive face.

“It’s smiling at you! It’s smiling!”

The Associated Press reports that toy company Hasbro is set to unveil a new device called “My3D” that will allow iPhone and iPod touch users to view 3-D content on their devices.
It promises three-dimensional content that offers a 360-degree experience in gaming, virtual travel experiences and entertainment content. It’s aimed at both children and adults.

The device, which resembles a pair of binoculars with a slot in which users insert their iPod or iPhone, will be priced at $30. It will be available starting next spring at stores where Apple’s iPhones and iPod Touches are available.

According to the report, Apple assisted Hasbro with development of the My3D accessory, which will require specialized apps to support display of the 3-D content. Hasbro has teamed with Dreamworks Animation, as well as a forthcoming 3-D TV network backed by Discovery, Sony, and IMAX, to produce content for the device.

Banksy is the pseudonym of a prolific British graffiti  artist ,  political activist and painter, whose identity is unconfirmed. His  satirical street  art and subversive epigrams combine irreverent dark humour with graffiti done in a distinctive stencilling technique. Such artistic works of political and social commentary have been featured on streets, walls, and bridges of cities throughout the world.

Banksy’s work was born out of the Bristol underground scene which involved collaborations between artists and musicians. According to author and graphic designer Tristan Manco, Banksy “was born in 1974 and raised in Bristol, England. The son of a photocopier technician, he trained as a butcher but became involved in graffiti during the great Bristol aerosol boom of the late 1980s.”Observers have noted that his style is similar to Blek le Rat, who began to work with stencils in 1981 in Paris and members of the anarcho-punk band Crass who maintained a graffiti stencil campaign on the London Tube System in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

” We can’t do anything to change the world until capitalism crumbles. In the meantime we should all go shopping to console ourselves.”

— Banksy, Wall and Piece

Banksy’s works have dealt with an array of political and social themes, including anti-War, anti-capitalism, anti-fascism, anti-imperialism, anti-authoritarianism, anarchism, nihilism, and existentialism. Additionally, the components of the human condition that his works commonly critique are greed, poverty, hypocrisy, boredom, despair, absurdity, and alienation. Although Banksy’s works usually rely on visual imagery and iconography to put forth his message, he has made several politically related comments in his various books. In surmising his list of “people who should be shot”, he listed “Fascist thugs, religious fundamentalists, (and) people who write lists telling you who should be shot.” While facetiously describing his political nature, Banksy declared that “Sometimes I feel so sick at the state of the world, I can’t even finish my second apple pie.

The term Street Art has evolved to define the more visual and engaging aspects of urban art, as opposed to simply text-based graffiti and tagging. This film follows such notorious cult figures as: Blek Le Rat, Nano 4814, Nuria, Sweet Toof, NoNose, and Eine, as they work upon the pavements of Paris Londonand Madrid During the film we pursue these characters as they create new pieces and discuss the varying approaches to Street Art in these three diverse cities.

We also meet some of the artists taking part in the first ever Street Art exhibition at Tate Modern, and explore the rapidly expanding commercial market that’s turning street artists into big earners at the auction houses. What does this newfound profitable aspect mean for this formerly underground and anti-establishment scene?

TOOL hasn’t licensed its music since 1996, allowed for the inclusion of three of its songs in World Tour as long they were involved with the artwork and tracking of the songs for the game, leading to the creation of the art-like Tool venue created by Adam Jones.

Guitar Hero World Tour is the first game in the Guitar Hero series to feature drum and microphone controllers for percussion and vocal parts, similar in manner to the competing Rock Band series of games. The game allows users to create new songs through the “Music Studio” mode, which can then be uploaded and shared through a service known as “GHTunes”.

The Universe looks like a pretty tranquil place to live, doesn’t it? During the day the sun shines steadily, and at night the heavens are reassuring and unchanging.

Dream on. The Universe is filled to the brim with dangerous, nasty things, all jostling for position to be the one to wipe us off the face of the planet. Happily for us, they’re all pretty unlikely—how many people do you know who have died by proton disintegration?—but if you wait long enough, one of them is bound to get us.

But which one?

Death by Asteroid

Of all the ways we might meet our untimely demise, getting wiped out by an asteroid is the most likely. Why? Because we sit in a cosmic shooting gallery, with 100 tons of material hitting us every day. The problem, though, occurs every few centuries when something big this way comes. If you could ask a dinosaur, I’d imagine they’d tell you to take this seriously.

And we do. The B612 Foundation is a collection of scientists dedicated to making sure we don’t end up with our bones in some future museum. Their advice: no nukes! Instead, slam a spacecraft head-on into a dangerous rock to move it in a hurry, then fine-tune it with another spacecraft by using its gravity to pull the rock into a safe path. It sounds like sci-fi, but models show this is in fact our best bet to save the Earth.

Death by Exploding Star

When a massive star ends its life, it does so with a bang: a supernova, which sends death sleeting across space in the form of high-energy radiation. Numerous studies indicate that a supernova would have to be closer than about 75 light years to do us any harm. The good news: no stars that close are capable of the deed. But in the past things were different; there’s evidence we got caught in a blast 2 to 3 million years ago. Of course, the fact that we’re still here means we survived. And it’ll be some time before another such event occurs. That’s good: there’s not a darn thing we could do about it anyway.

Death by Dying Sun

The sun is kinda important to us; without it, we’d freeze. But the sun is also middle-aged: At 4.5 billion years old, it’s already halfway to running out of fuel, swelling into a red giant, and cooking us to a fine crisp. Even long before then—in less than a billion years—it’ll warm up enough to raise our average temperature and cause a runaway greenhouse effect, boiling our oceans.

Happily, that’s a long time from now. I’ll let my great-great-great-great-great^nth grandchildren worry about it.

Death by Black Hole

Black holes are misunderstood. They don’t wander the galaxy looking for tasty snacks in the form of planets and stars; they orbit the Milky Way just like the hundreds of billions of other stars do. But it’s possible that one could wander too close to us. If it did, planetary orbits would be disrupted, causing the Earth to drop into the sun or be tossed out into deep space. It’s unlikely the black hole would swallow us whole, but given the alternatives it might be a blessing.

Note, though, that any object with lots of mass would be a problem, including normal everyday stars, and they are a lot more common! Given that it could be trillions of years or more before even that happens, we don’t have to worry too much about rogue black holes.

Death by Ennui

All good things must come to an end, and that includes our Universe itself. It’s 13 billion years old, but what will happen in a trillion years? A quintillion? A googol?

That’s a seriously long time from now. By then, all stars will be long dead, and (if modern quantum theory is right, and we’re pretty sure it is) even black holes will have evaporated. Not only that, but matter itself will have fallen apart: protons, long thought to be utterly stable, may disintegrate after about 10 ^39 years. So in that long distant future, the Universe may be nothing more than an ultra-thin soup of electrons and low-energy photons bumping around an eternal nothingness.

And while that’s inevitable, it’s so far in the future it makes the current age of the Universe seem like one beat of a mosquito’s wings. There are certainly more pressing needs to attend to.

My advice? Go outside, look up, enjoy the sun, the moon, and the stars. They may be there forever as far as any one of us is concerned… and forever is a long, long time.

Article by Popular Mechanics  (