George Zimmerman… Sort of Free

The verdict just came down that George Zimmerman was found NOT GUILTY of shooting teen Trayvon Martin. My opinion was that Florida law and burden of proof on the prosecution forced this conclusion, but that the jury made the right decision based on what it was compelled to by Florida law. I don’t agree it is the right and just conclusion, but that the jury didn’t have too much of a choice if it were to have followed the law… a law that’s going to need a review soon!

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Why the Mental Health Argument to Curb Gun Violence is Crazy

In the aftermath of the Newtown shooting tragedy, I am hearing and seeing a lot of social media about needing to provide more mental health support to stop incidents like that. Well, talk about a crazy argument, pun doubly intended! And I didn’t pun because I’m insensitive to those needing mental health. Rather, the argument of better mental health support for gun violence in America is that ludicrous!

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TED 2011 Ads Worth Spreading, Part 2 of 3

This is part 2 of 3 posts showing all the ads TED deemed worth spreading. (Part 1)

The TED (Technology Entertainment and Design) community just released its 2011 Ads Worth Spreading contest winners, and the ads are better than the ones I have seen for the Super Bowl in any year! But what did you expect from a brilliant group who’s moniker is “Ideas Worth Spreading”?

Now these ads aren’t like ones in the Super Bowl lasting 30-60 seconds. These ads are much longer, often being the full version of the shortened ads for TV time slots. However, with ads like these, I could watch commercials in place of TV shows because I don’t notice how long or short they are. I’m actually a little sad once it’s over, alongside whatever mood the commercials left me in.

I have posted a bunch of the ads here because I have found higher quality versions of the ads than the ones available on the TED website. Otherwise, I’d have just posted links to them all on TED’s site.

The link for Part 3 is at the end of the post.

Enjoy and be prepared to be wowwed!!!

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Halifax Skating Oval Could Be Kept for 50 Cents to $2 per Use (A Cost-Benefit Analysis)

Halifax Skating Oval

For about $1 of tax per person per year, or a $2 (toonie) charge per use, the Halifax Skating Oval can be sustained, at the highest cost estimates. It could be as low as 50 cents per use. I’m not encouraging this, but if paying for use of the Oval were a last resort, it could be very affordable and definitely worth its value!

There’s a big debate on whether or not to keep the Canada Winter Games Skating Oval on the Halifax Commons (CBC, Jan 4 2011). A lot of the public is enjoying the facility, but the worry is the cost of maintaining the Oval after the Canada Games are over. The hope is that business support can be found to pay the costs, rather than increasing taxes or having to charge skaters. However, that’s a political solution. This analysis looks at the business case of keeping the oval if the public had to pay for it.

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Tabloid Style Photos of Brad Pitt Filming Benjamin Button

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Brad Pitt at the spa getting a facial. JUST KIDDING! Though they reminded me of stuff stars don't want to get out in the media. Brad was testing out facial expressions, covered with phosphorescence for the camera to capture just the important parts accurately for the entire face. The computer then mapped his expressions on to another face to transfer his input into an older character's facial expressions.

Brad Pitt at the spa getting a facial. JUST KIDDING! Though they reminded me of stuff stars don

In the newly released (Feb 23) 18 minute video below, Ed Ulbrich demonstrates the technology of his Digital Domain team which allowed Brad Pitt to act out Benjamin Button‘s face throughout the movie, at all ages of Benjamin’s life. That way, all of Brad’s nuances and unique acting skills were able to be applied to the character throughout the movie, not just the part where the character resembled Brad and he could play him. It was almost like unspecial effects, if common effects did not convey something far less worthy, where the special effects were meant to be as unnoticeable as possible.

The video is far better than I can explain it. However, I’ve given you some interesting, albeit less than flattering photos of Brad at his work, with brief descriptions of their roles in the process. The photos were screen captured and compiled from the video to give you something to hang on to, put on your blog or whatever. Video is not the same as photos and these leave a few lasting memories of Brad Pitt like you’ve not likely seen him, like him at 80 years old below.

On the inspiring side of the talk, and as a mind blowing subplot, is the courage Ed’s team had to walk away from the state of the art technology of the day to come up with this technology since the best wasn’t nearly good enough. You’ll see in the video why it really wasn’t really nearly good enough.

The courage and ingenous outcome to “stew-pot” existing technologies as a foundation on which to build the new technology was what got Ed (for his team) the invite to the Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) conference where he gave this talk.

High-powered as TED may be, though, the talk was easily understandable, enjoyable and jaw-dropping, as one category for ranking TED.com videos went.

Enjoy!

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 10.0

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Brad Pitt being filmed from four angles to make sure the right shot was captured. The phosphorescence on his face does not show on this regular film.

Brad Pitt being filmed from four angles to make sure the right shot was captured. The phosphorescence on his face does not show on this regular film.

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Brad Pitt's Projected Look at 80, from which they created Benjamin Button's 80 year old looks onto which to project Brad's expressions above.

Brad Pitt's projected look at the age of 80, from which they created Benjamin Button's 80 year old looks onto which to project Brad's expressions above. They use this sort of technology to predict what criminals would look like years later, and you can see it on shows like Cold Case Files.

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Brad Pitt's phospherence image to the computer is at left. A starting head model for movement purposes is in the centre. The aged version based on Brad's older projected look is at right. The fine details are left out to get all the movements right first.

Brad Pitt's phospherence image to the computer is at left. A starting head model for movement purposes is in the centre. The aged version based on Brad's older projected look is at right. The fine details are left out to get all the movements right first.

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Brad Pitt's expressions mapped to Benjamin Button's face. This shows how as Brad moves, the computer face also moves.

Out of the darkness and computer simulation environment, with some basic facial details added, a basic Benjamin Button comes alive simultaneously with Brad's acting.

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1. An actor plays a body double, with a blue hood to take out the head for computer substitution.  2. A "dead head" computer model is put in to simulate movement.  3. Brad then acts in the facial details.  4. Lighting, hairs, eyes, tongue and such facial details are added for the finished movie version.

1. An actor plays a body double, with a blue hood to take out the head for computer substitution. 2. A "dead head" computer model is put in to simulate movement. 3. Brad then acts in the facial details. 4. Lighting, hairs, eyes, tongue and such facial details are added for the finished movie version.

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Wait. Speaking of tongue, this is a model of Brad Pitt's mouth and tongue model, worked on by a guy to get it right for 9 months! I heard he was pretty popular! Probably not sexy in this context, but just use your imagination and think what Angelina Jolie's been getting! ;-)

Wait. Speaking of tongue, this is a model of Brad Pitt's mouth and tongue model, worked on by a guy to get it right for 9 months! I heard he was pretty popular! Probably not sexy in this context, but just use your imagination! 😉

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Ed Ulbrich: How Benjamin Button Got His Face

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