The interfaces aboard the Rodger Young in combat are hard to take seriously. The captain’s interface, for instance, features arrays of wireframe spheres that zoom from the bottom of the screen across horizontal lines to become blinking green squares. The shapes bear only the vaguest resemblance to the plasma bolts, but don’t match what we see out the viewscreen or the general behavior of the bolts at all. But the ridiculousness doesn’t end there.
After Rico’s fatal mistake in the live fire exercise, he is disgraced, relieved of squad command, and subject to corporal punishment. At the time of his punishment, the squads stand at attention around the square as Rico approaches the pillory at its center. Sergeant Zim pulls the restraints down from housings in the frame and loops them around Rico’s wrists. Then, he activates the interface, which is a hand-sized chrome button on the side of the frame.
With a single slap of the huge button, the restraints pull up and hold Rico’s arms at their fullest extents, simultaneously disabling him and giving some adolescents in the audience feelings they would not come to terms with for years.
There’s a basic improvement that can be made, which is for the control to indicate the status. Yes, the status is apparent from a glance at the restraints. So it’s not an essential improvement. But as a general rule, you want to save the user from having to check some other place for the status of a system. Output where you input.
A more important improvement is related to the fact that this is a public event, a piece of fascist theater. With that in mind, a big knife switch with a loud thunk would add to the drama of the moment and make more of an impression on the audience. Which is the point. And, incidentally, it would solve the apparent-state problem from the prior paragraph, for a win-win all around. Except for the incredibly painful flogging that comes next.
Nothing we can do about that, right? Go, fascism.
After the capture the flag exercise, the recruits advance to a live ammo exercise. In this one, the recruits have weapons loaded with live ammo and surge in waves over embankments. They wear the same special vests they did in the prior exercise that detect when they are hit with a laser, flashing briefly with red lights on the front and back and thereafter delivering a debilitating shock to the wearer until the game is over. As they approach the next embankment, dummies automatically rise up and fire lasers randomly towards the recruits. The recruits shoot to destroy the dummies, making it safe to advance to the next embankment. Continue reading
The recruits practice their war skills with capture the flag games. Each participant carries visible-laser weapons (color coded to match the team color) to fire at members of the other team, and wears a special vest that detects when it is hit with a laser, flashing briefly with red lights on the front and back and thereafter delivering a debilitating shock to the wearer until the game is over.
After he is spurned by Carmen and her new beau in the station, Rico realizes that he belongs in the infantry and not the fleet where Carmen will be working. So, to cement this new identity, Rico decides to give in and join his fellow roughnecks in getting matching tattoos. The tattoos show a skull over a shield and the words “Death from Above”. (Incidentally, Death From Above is the name of the documentary detailing the making of the film, a well as the title of a hilarious progressive metal video by the band Holy Light of Demons. You should totally check it out.) Continue reading
7 P.M. Wednesday, 29 OCT 2014, $20
I’m thrilled to announce the second Sci-fi Interfaces Movie Night, again in the New Parkway Cinema in Oakland. This time it’s the amazing meta sci-fi and horror fest from the minds of Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, The Cabin in the Woods. (Kristen Connolly! Chris Hemsworth! Anna Hutchison! Fran Kranz! Jesse Williams! Richard Jenkins! Bradley Whitford!) Enjoy this amazing film the way it was meant to be enjoyed: With a bunch of other sci-fi nerds, on the big silver screen, with a pre-show, tables, couches, food, and a bar.
This one is going to be bigger, gorier, and better than the last, with sci-fi and a heaping helping of metahorror to get you amped up for Halloween later in the week.
Based on the feedback from the first one, there are some changes to the plans for this event.
- Some folks said things felt rushed. Fair enough. They were! So this time I’m actually renting the cinema so we can open the doors at 7:30, start the pre-show at 8:00, and start the movie at 9:00. This will give a little more time for setup and it will let me control the start time of the movie a little better.
- I’m thrilled to announce that the actual designers of the interfaces seen in the movie, Chris Kieffer and Coplin LeBleu, have agreed to try come and engage in a Q&A as part of the pre-show if we can sell enough tickets to get them up here and they aren’t on location for a shoot. Ever wanted to ask a sci-fi interface designer something? Now’s your chance. (If they can’t make it in person, we will try a remote digital Q&A.)
- The trivia will not be as difficult, and hopefully if I can figure out the tech, everyone will be able to participate in at least part of it.
These two changes partly explain the increase of the ticket. It costs money to bring these guys up from L.A. The other thing is that The Cabin in the Woods is a much more recent film, and so rights become more expensive.
The major change not happening: A few folks had asked if we could move into the smaller cinema at The New Parkway. We could, but there are two problems with it. First, it would have raised the ticket price even more since there’s less seating. Second, that cinema can not connect to a computer for any pre-show visuals. So, we’re sticking with the large cinema.
As before, I’ll make a short presentation deconstructing and analyzing one of the interfaces in the movie, as well as running a trivia contest with at least The Cabin in the Woods sci-fi interface t-shirts as prizes. I’m working on a way to let everyone in the audience participate this time, via their smart phones or something.
If you attended the last one, and you have other ideas about how it can have its awesome quotient increased, contact me or leave a comment here.
How many is enough people? >120
As mentioned above, this more expensive, so we’ll need more tickets sold to pull the trigger. But hey, we sold out last time and even had to turn away some folks at the door, so a) this shouldn’t be a problem and b) consider this an object lesson in purchasing tickets early. At $20 tickets, we need at least 95 to have the show. (And at that point I’ll charge pre-sales.) After that, we’ll need at least 120 sold to to get Kieffer and LeBleu in for a Q&A.
So please tell friends and fans (and maybe make an offering to an Old God or two) to make this happen.
What is the cutoff date? 19 SEP
We need the 95 sold as soon as possible so we can secure the cinema and the rights, etc. Also I want to give Kieffer and LeBleu as much warning as we can so they can set their schedule. So I’ve set the deadline as end of day, Friday, 19 September. But of course, everything goes smoother the sooner I know.
To be clear, if I can’t get at least 95 people, the show won’t happen and you won’t be charged. But once those 95 are sold, the thing’s happening, and we make a concentrated push to get to our stretch goal of the Q&A. You ready? Head over to https://www.trycelery.com/shop/cabin to back the event. Then share this page, tweet it, social media share it (FB, G+). Do what you gotta do.
Apologies to anyone who pre-purchased tickets to The Fifth Element earlier this year. I went to the sales vendor (trycelery.com), and marked the tickets as shipped. What I didn’t know is that when I did so, it would email each and every one of you a “Great news! Your order is on it’s way!” without warning me it was about to do so. But don’t worry. Nothing is on its way. It’s just confirmation of that ticket long ago. I’m writing them a sternly worded email now.
[Editor's Note: Knowing nothing of sportsball, I invited fellow Cooper designer Brendan Kneram to bring his considerable skills in both sportsball of design to write a review of this scoreboard seen in the movie. -Chris]
The Big Hurrah for students before they graduate Starship High is a game of Jump Ball followed by a Jump Prom. For the contemporary viewer, Jump Ball strongly resembles American Football with the occasional gravity-defying maneuver added for good measure. This similarity is further emphasized upon closer inspection of the scoreboard, making its first appearance when Johnny Rico finishes his first of two scoring plays (I hesitate to call it a “touchdown” because Rico is awarded only five points instead of the six given in American Football). The first impression is of its underwhelming high school aesthetic—it looks like something found in the 20th century, not the 23rd—and even the information conveyed is insufficient to make sense of the sport. It’s possible that the threat of invasion by giant killer-insects caused some sort of civilization-wide regression in scoreboards, but I do find it hard to believe that such an advanced civilization would fail to innovate anything for the design of a physical scoreboard in over three hundred years.