Volume: 25 Issue: 8 (August 2002)
Star Wars Flaws
I'd also have to list digital projection as a major, major step backward. I haven't found any statistics on the native resolution of the film or whether all theaters with digital projection are using the same resolution, but at the theater where I saw the movie, aliasing and pixelation were so severe as to actually distract from the film, even for non-computer graphics specialists in the audience.
In addition, the frame rate was completely insufficient for a number of the fast-pan scenes; it was impossible to follow a feature as it whizzed by, not because it was a blur, but because it was an incredibly jumpy blur. Since digital projection need not be bound by the old 24hz film standard, I would have liked to have seen at least five times the frame rate in those scenes. (Whatever frame rate was used was fine for the "less whizzy" scenes, however.)
Another question the survey poses has to do with inconsistencies, inaccuracies, and anachronisms in the story and with the graphics. The biggest flaw is the most pervasive one: Namely, in a technologically advanced culture where nearly every vehicle floats and half of them can attain escape velocity, energy must be essentially free-in which case mud huts, subsistence farming, and slave labor make little or no sense. In addition, a slave who has the knowledge and resources to create an AI from scratch (C3P0) and to build a jet-powered hover pod from spare parts must be stupendously valuable-yet he's allowed to wander around in a dangerous locale, one in which his mother is eventually kidnapped and killed. Under what economic model does any of this make sense?
There is also an error in the physics of the "missing" stellar system. A pair of one-solar-mass stars separated by one light-year (our sun's nearest neighbor is about four light-years away) would produce so tiny a net acceleration on each other that the cumulative effect over 10 years would be a mere half a millimeter per second. Snails crawl faster than that! I can conceive of no possible way that such a tiny discrepancy could be measured by any technology, current or imagined. The "signal" is much, much smaller than the "noise"-stellar oscillations, variations in the density of the galactic dark-matter halo, maybe perturbations due to the interstellar medium, etc. And unlike the snail, who has a nice, immobile sidewalk as a reference, there are no fixed reference points in space and no solid surfaces against which to do laser-ranging or the equivalent-which presumably would be subject to speed-of-light limitations.
What if the star were in a much denser cluster, so that the missing mass would be noticeable after all? In that case the planet would not have a night sky, and the perturbations on it due to the other stars in the cluster would tend to make its orbit unstable and its surface uninhabitable.
San Jose, CA
Editor's Note: To view the survey and readers' responses to it, go to www.cgw.com, choose "Web Exclusives" from the menu bar on the left-hand side of the page, then select "Opinion."
Eye Candy for the Coffee Table
On pg. 4 of your April 2002 issue, Richard A. Bucci, a 3D artist featured in your January 2002 issue, writes how much he enjoys looking at 3D graphics and his desire to "see an actual glossy-paged book with lots of cool pictures in it." You mentioned in your Editor's Reply that "there was no glossy coffee-table book in our future."
I want to let your readers know that such a book is now in production. It took almost three years to get a publisher to back the idea of a book filled with incredible examples of 3D art at its finest, but Rockport Publishers gave us the green light late last year. The Best of 3D Graphics is scheduled for release in early 2003. Rockport Publishers (www.rockpub.com) is known for producing graphic books such as The Best of Brochure Design and Letterhead & Logo Design on an annual basis. So, take heart. With a little luck, The Best of 3D Graphics will also become an annual series, providing 3D aficionados with page after page of awesome eye candy and inspiration.
President, epic software group
Editor, The Best of 3D Graphics
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