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hairy_hen

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27-Mar-2006
Last activity
19-Feb-2018
Posts
1785

Post History

Post
#1161889
Topic
Politics 2: Electric Boogaloo
Time

You know, it’s a sad day when my post using farts as a (surprisingly apt) metaphor for media bias is more on point than this predictably stupid backbiting some of you engage in on a regular basis. Seriously, don’t you have anything better to do with your time?

Post
#1161605
Topic
Politics 2: Electric Boogaloo
Time

My ass is biased in favor of emitting noxious fumes. People around me believe it is biased against the idea of breathable air.

In turn, my ass believes that these people have all ganged up on it in a vast conspiracy to unfairly curtail its freedom of expression. Furthermore, it has recently adopted the tactic of dismissing any atmospheric composition other than its own output as being fake.

I’m sure the truth is somewhere in the middle.

In other news, butt soup.

Post
#1161596
Topic
How many 'Bad' Star Wars movies could you take before you check out?
Time

Of course not having the original movies matters. Yes, people who frequent this forum, or others who are willing to plumb the depths of online file distribution, can watch good approximations of them any time they want now. But the general public is still not able to go to a store and buy them, as they should be able to do, so for all intents and purposes they do not exist. And yet in spite of this unacceptable state of affairs, Disney shows a great willingness to keep producing endless amounts of new content with the ‘Star Wars’ name attached to it. The true versions of the films that started it all are nowhere to be found, but they cynically exploit the name in order to keep churning out new films to form a perpetual revenue stream for themselves. That none of these new films are particularly good just makes it that much more galling.

The movies that got us all hooked on the galaxy far, far away have essentially died as far as official policy is concerned - that is my point. Disney has the power to resurrect them, but they are either unwilling to do so, or just can’t be bothered. Star Wars should have been allowed to die in peace, to just exist for what it was without having to be continually revisited. And yet the commercial exploitation continues and shows no sign of ever stopping. George Lucas, for all his infuriating stubbornness, at least had personal and artistic reasons for doing what he did, misguided though it was. Disney, on the other hand, doesn’t care about anything except money. So when I say Star Wars is a zombie franchise, I am perfectly sincere in my use of the metaphor.

I don’t sit around fuming about it (though for a few days per year I may get pretty annoyed); note that this is the practically the first time I even bothered to post anything on the subject since TFA came out. But I’m under no obligation at all to consider any of what they do to be significant. Unlike producing entirely new works, a long stream of sequels tends to become decreasingly relevant in comparison to the ones that started it. I also do not like having alternate interpretations of characters or events foisted on me years after the fact. And so, because it is clear that what Star Wars means to me has little in common with what matters to those in charge of it, I have checked myself out of any involvement with the new material other than passive disinterest.

@Catbus: I would eliminate it with a shovel if I could, but it would probably just keep coming back regardless. 😉

Post
#1161166
Topic
How many 'Bad' Star Wars movies could you take before you check out?
Time

I didn’t say I wouldn’t see the new movies - in fact, I’ve seen all of them. Some parts I even liked somewhat: Rey is an interesting character, Rogue One had its moments (mostly near the end), and there were about 20-25 minutes of The Last Jedi where I was kind of into it. I’m just curious enough about what they might do that it’s worth spending an afternoon to find out, though I usually wait until they’ve been out for at least a week to avoid crowds.

But as I indicated, I have little involvement in what I’m seeing. I had a visceral distaste for TFA, the result of which is that I don’t have much stake in how the story goes from there, because it has to build on such a shaky foundation. So when I see everyone arguing about how Luke’s character was handled in TLJ, I just shake my head from a distance because I wonder why they didn’t see it coming earlier, like I did. That isn’t “my” Luke Skywalker up on the screen (and it wasn’t Mark Hamill’s either, apparently), so it hardly makes any difference what the details are.

Like I said, checked out.

This post has been edited.

Post
#1160309
Topic
How many 'Bad' Star Wars movies could you take before you check out?
Time

I pretty much checked out a while ago and haven’t seen any reason to check back in. As far as I’m concerned, the whole thing can only ever be a zombie franchise until the movies that actually made it what it is - namely, the original unaltered films - are given justice. The longer it continues in this zombie state, the more irrelevant it becomes.

Post
#1159911
Topic
Politics 2: Electric Boogaloo
Time

The idiots on Fox ‘News’ were crowing the other day about how the exam results supposedly prove that he’s not mentally unfit for office. Like nearly everything else heard on that rotting slime mold of a channel, they completely missed the whole point. Meeting the bare minimum qualification of not being schizophrenic or having Alzheimer’s doesn’t mean you’re mentally competent, it just means you’re not clinically insane. It doesn’t say anything about not being a bloated narcissistic sociopath or a human wasteland who can’t be trusted not to actively ruin everything he touches…

Post
#1159896
Topic
To Canon or Not To Canon...
Time

Though it took me a while to disengage from my former way of thinking, I’ve developed a very simple philosophy about this sort of thing. I call it “selective nihilism”.

What it comes down to is this: if you like a work, and think the story makes sense, then it ‘counts’ as being a real part of the overall story of that fictional world. If you don’t like it, and think the story doesn’t make sense, then it doesn’t count.

Your position will be far more justifiable if you can articulately explain (as much to yourself as to others) why you think something shouldn’t count, but ultimately it is up to the viewer/reader of any work to decide if the story is worth anything to them or not. If it isn’t, it can be negated, and thus dismissed from existence.

For example, many here (including myself) have decided that the prequel films do not conform to the events or storytelling logic of the originals. We have therefore decided to dismiss them and say they do not count. I personally do not believe that any amount of retconning, invented explanations, fan-editing, or other mental gymnastics can be successful in making them fit with the original movies, and since they are generally bad and irritating, not only do I never watch them anymore, I have actively dismissed them from my mind to the extent that they no longer influence my thoughts about the original movies in any significant way. In fact, I have very nearly succeeded in forgetting they exist.

If you find that a work cannot be entirely negated in this way (it usually takes a while to disengage completely due to emotional involvement in the story and characters), then problematic storylines can be relegated to alternate universes, while the “true” story can continue in your mind unpolluted by the unwanted elements. I tend to think of the new SW movies in this way: they are tedious sequels that can be shunted into an alternate universe containing the prequels and special editions, while the Thrawn books by Timothy Zahn are to me the ‘true’ sequel trilogy that follows the original unaltered films.

I am still occasionally prone to feelings of resentment about the state of official Star Wars canon, but by adopting the philosophy I have described above, my enjoyment of the earlier works that I fell in love with can continue unabated and untarnished by the later foolishness. The only problematic thing about using this method is that it can be difficult to explain to other people: I usually avoid talking about Star Wars in more than a fleeting sort of way with people in real life (unless I know they hold similar views), because I dislike having to explain that while I love Star Wars a great deal, I am by no means a ‘Star Wars fan’. Just because something carries that name does not mean that it is automatically worthy of my time or consideration, or that I should have to think about any story concepts it may have introduced while thinking about the earlier works.

This post has been edited.

Post
#1156995
Topic
Good headphones suggestions?
Time

If you’re looking for a good balance of quality vs price, look no farther than the Audio Technica ATH-M40x.

I use these nearly every day in my capacity as a audio engineer. I’ve got two sets: one for home, and one to carry with me to work. Easily found for $99, they sound great and can be run on almost anything. Most of the time I listen through an Apollo Twin from Universal Audio, which is a high-end portable recording interface costing around $900, but they sound great even through a Macbook Pro’s headphone output.

If you feel like stepping up in a price a little, the ATH-M50x is a superb choice as well.

For an external interface to listen through, consider something like the Audient iD4 or a Focusrite Scarlett Solo. While these aren’t quite up to the level of the Apollo (which also contains built-in DSP chips for running audio effects only a professional or serious audio mixing hobbyist would need), they are much more affordable: $199 and $99 respectively. Either will get you great sound quality for headphones, as well as the ability to record if you need it and to connect to external powered speakers.

So the cheapest route here is the M40’s and the Focusrite. That will set you back about $200 altogether for both headphones and interface. Audient with the M50’s would go up to a maximum of $350, or feel free to mix and match to get a total price somewhere in between. Either way, you’re looking at some serious sound quality here.

I highly recommend buying on Sweetwater for anything audio related. The customer service is superb (be ready for them to call you to confirm the order, and then again later to ask if you are satisfied with what you got!) and you get free shipping along with it.

Post
#1114377
Topic
Politics 2: Electric Boogaloo
Time

Every single one of husezni’s posts made me want to punch babies.

Actually, just one baby in particular: the one with his face on it.

Post
#1114373
Topic
The Stoned Thread
Time

About three and a half years ago I was going through a bad time and was feeling reckless, so I tried pot for the first time. (I interned at a recording studio for a year, so I was constantly around musicians, and those folks always have some around.) I overdid it and ended up standing in a corner for a few hours, somewhat afraid for no reason and completely forgetting how to talk. It was rather odd, to say the least.

I tried it several more times over the next few months, but it never quite agreed with me the way it does for other people. In general I found using it to be slightly unpleasant, so after a while I just kind of stopped. Thankfully it has no addictive qualities, so there’s absolutely no compulsion to keep going if you don’t want to.

The one thing about it that is rather remarkable is that if you’re really stoned and involved in creative activity, it puts your mind into places it wouldn’t ordinarily go. That first time, I was sitting in the room with my audio mentor as he worked on mixing a song (he himself gets high on a regular basis and loves it), and I had the rather extraordinary feeling of being ‘inside’ the music. It quite literally felt like my mind was inside the song itself, and everything about the way it was written, performed, and mixed just made so much sense, in a powerful way I can hardly describe. When that happened I began to understand why musicians use it so frequently, and I have to admit I’d probably use it more if I didn’t dislike the physical sensation of breathing it in. I’m not sure I could actually function as an audio mixer if I were that stoned, though!

Post
#1109665
Topic
Video Game Thread
Time

I can’t really be all that arsed about texture packs… they can be kind of nice but I don’t regard them as essential. I love Twilight Princess HD (in fact I got a Wii U specifically so that I could play that version of the game, having already loved the original), but the Gamecube/Wii era lends itself to that sort of thing much better, because the 3D models are more sophisticated. With N64 stuff, it takes you into a weird franken-zone of having detailed textures pasted on top of blocky and simplistic 3D models. And running the whole thing at 1080p or whatever makes the popups and switches between hi- and low-res stuff extremely obvious, when they should not be. To me that looks much more bizarre than simply running the game at its original resolution.

Yes, playing it from the real system with only 320 x 240 resolution does look soft and not very detailed, but it also doesn’t present any of the weirdness that results from running in ways it was not designed for. And using scanlines really does break up the pixelation and render it almost unnoticeable. The Framemeister’s image can be made very close to how it appears on a CRT… and the thing is, playing them that way 20 years ago was just fine. I wasn’t sitting around fretting about how crappy and soft things looked in 1997, I was enjoying playing the games. If I enjoyed it then, I can enjoy it now the same way. I don’t require massive upgrades in the picture to think something can continue to be relevant.

One game I do run with hi-res textures is Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight. But the reason that works is because all of the 3D models can be replaced with versions that have a much higher polygon count, as well. You can’t do that with 64 stuff.

Another thing with emulation is that the timing of events in the games is often not right due to it running at the wrong speed. People tend to complain about frame rates and such, and when seeing a version that runs without slowdown will pronounce it superior, but I’m starting to believe that this is not always a good thing. If a game ran at a certain speed, then eliminating the slowdown completely makes it feel ‘off’, in an almost indescribable but significant way. The first time I noticed this was in GoldenEye: at the end of the Runway level, a brief fanfare plays as Bond flies off in the airplane. When emulated, this scene happens much faster than it does on the actual N64, with the result that the fanfare is always cut off before it is heard to completion. I’m becoming increasingly convinced, too, that the speed of the gameplay was designed around the amount of slowdown that the N64 produces, because many levels just don’t ‘feel’ the same in their pacing as they do on the console, and the slower version ironically seems more natural. It’s definitely easier to keep Natalya alive in the Control Center on the real N64 than on the computer, because the enemies aren’t shooting as quickly or as often.

And to point out a very dramatic and obvious example in Zelda, when firing a Light Arrow at Ganondorf, the huge flash of light that results from hitting him causes the system to slow down by a huge amount for a several seconds until the flash has dissipated. The visual effect of this is rather stunning, because it causes the impact of the Light Arrow to remain onscreen for far longer than it otherwise would, turning it into an awe-inspiring moment. When emulated, the flash runs at full speed without any slowdown at all, with the result that it is over and done with before it can really call any special attention to itself. It’s still a nice-looking effect, but it lacks the majestic grandeur of the slower version. (Apparently in the 3DS re-release they actually intentionally added the slowdown back in for this scene, though I’ve never played that one.) I’d actually forgotten about this for a while, having been so used to playing it emulated on the faster Gamecube version, that going back to the real thing was kind of shocking, in the best sense of the word.

I can hardly even begin to talk about my frustrations with the sound problems of N64 emulation. Crackling and dropouts abound, and the audio often visibly lags behind the image by quite a bit. Not good.

I seem to have spent quite some time complaining about these things on here… I didn’t really mean to come in here ranting and raving about how emulation sucks or whatever. I don’t mind emulators when they actually work properly–all of my SNES playing for the past few years has been emulated, mostly on the Wii Virtual Console but sometimes on homebrew, since my sister has the SNES we grew up with and hasn’t sent it back to me yet. The few N64 games they they have on the VC tend to work pretty well for the most part. A few years ago I was trying to convince myself that I could set the real system aside and just emulate, since my controller joystick was busted and I thought my cartridges didn’t work anymore (I didn’t realize that cleaning them with rubbing alcohol could work such wonders in getting them going again!), but after running into so many problems with games not running right, graphics glitches and sound problems and crashes and the constant grind of changing settings, I got sick of it and made the effort to start using the real thing again. Once I got a suitable replacement joystick (I currently use the Gamecube-style stick with a custom-made replacement circuit board, which calibrates the sensitivity to accurately replicate the original stick), it was like a reunion with long-lost friends. I tend to divide my time equally between playing on a CRT and using the Framemeister, and it looks great on both through S-video cables. Really it depends whether I feel like sitting in a chair and playing on a larger screen, or sitting on the floor and using a smaller screen, like we did back then. I’m just happy to be able to keep using my N64, rather than having to give it up and get rid of it like I thought I would.

In a few days my new Everdrive should arrive in the mail, and I suspect that I’m going to enjoy the hell out of that thing. I’m okay with using the Wii VC for SNES games for now (it can be set to output 240p, meaning they look really good over component cables on the Framemeister and CRT both), but someday I do want to get back my real SNES too, because I’ve been missing it lately.

This post has been edited.

Post
#1108362
Topic
Video Game Thread
Time

So a few weeks ago I played through GoldenEye on the N64 and finished the entire thing on 00 Agent difficulty, something I’d only ever done once before (about a year ago). A lot of the levels are perfectly doable, but man, those last few are crazy. The Aztec on 00? Holy crap! It can take several tries just to make it out of the first room alive, let alone surviving the rest of it. The enemies are so insanely fast and have such good aim, you have to be really careful to stay on top of it and not make any mistakes, otherwise you’re a goner…

Now I’m playing through Perfect Dark, on Perfect Agent difficulty; and as hard as GoldenEye is, this makes it look like a walk in the park. Most of the tricks that could be used in GE to avoid taking damage from enemies no longer work, enemy gunfire depletes your health much more rapidly, and the whole thing seems to have been designed to appeal to people with a masochistic need for punishment in their games. Last year I did manage to get through all the regular levels (though not the bonus levels), but many of them required multiple attempts before I could pull it off. I’m pretty sure I must have tried and failed to beat the Skedar Attack Ship at least 35 times before finally managing to scrape through with almost no health left. It is brutally unforgiving, and if you make more than one mistake in the beginning, you pretty much have no chance of completing it. I want to see if I can beat them all again, but I’m not entirely convinced I’ll be able to manage it this time!

GoldenEye and Perfect Dark are one of the main reasons why I eschew N64 emulation in favor of using the real system (and was willing to spend $400 on the Framemeister to get acceptable picture quality from it). There are far too many graphics glitches and emulation inaccuracies when trying to run these on the computer, to the point that it often hardly even feels like playing the same game. Using a non-N64 controller for games designed with a six-button layout in mind is also really irritating, and trying to dial in the joystick sensitivity to allow the weapon aiming to work the way it’s supposed to is an exercise in frustration. Much better to just use the original version, which ‘just works’, and skip all that other garbage.

Post
#1107696
Topic
Politics 2: Electric Boogaloo
Time

What is this, Be Reasonable In The Political Thread Day?

Where’s the name-calling and mindless bickering over nonsensical things that don’t really matter?

Come on guys, I’m disappointed. :p

Post
#1105557
Topic
Video Game Thread
Time

Game systems that originally rendered in 240p resolution (ie, everything Nintendo 64 and earlier) should always be viewed on a CRT display if at all possible, or with something that mimics what a CRT does to the image. It’s the only way for it to look right, and to see what the game designers would have actually seen at the time the game was made. Anything else–whether it be horrid blocky pixelation, or destructive smearing filters–just looks wrong and ruins the intended presentation.

The CRT effect preserves all the resolution the game produces while smoothing pixelation in a way that our eyes naturally respond to. Blocky edges are rounded out very nicely, and the visible ‘scan lines’ (which are actually blank space in between the lines of resolution, and appear due to the nature of the 240p signal) break up the harshness of the pixelation, tricking our brains into seeing a more detailed image than what is actually shown. In a way it’s similar to how film grain can trick us into thinking we see a sharper image than we really do–even though it’s an illusion, it is one that fits very well with our perception. In contrast with this analog goodness, digital displays are very unforgiving and show only the harshness of the raw image, ruining the illusion the low resolution art is trying to create unless it can be brought back as a post-processing effect.

Just recently I took the plunge and ordered the XRGB-Mini Framemeister upscaler, which excels at turning 240p signals into HD resolutions and can add convincing scan lines as well. The experience of playing classic games through this unit (using S-video, component, or RGB connections) far exceeds the results typically experienced by plugging an old console straight into an HDTV. Almost entirely without fail, modern TV’s misinterpret the 240p signal as 480i, applying unnecessary deinterlacing and ruining image detail, as well as adding a significant amount of input lag. The result is thoroughly unsatisfying, and nothing at all like the original experience. The Framemeister brilliantly restores the image quality and playability of classic games on modern displays, and I’m thrilled to have it. Last year I did pull my old CRT out of the closet and I’ve played a bunch of old games on it since then, and nothing can really beat the experience of using the real thing (that analog ‘glow’ it imparts on the image cannot be entirely replicated by any digital display, although CRT shaders are becoming quite nice), but since CRT’s are no longer made, I like having the ability to use my old systems on newer TV’s as well.

A couple years ago I spent a lot of time messing around with emulators, but lately I haven’t been all that interested in them. With some systems, like the SNES, it has become good enough that I don’t mind it, but others like the Nintendo 64 continue to be unsatisfying. I became very frustrated with the ubiquitous graphics glitches and inaccuracies, the near-constant need to mess with settings, and my progress being hampered by crashes. Once I got my controller fixed and started using the real N64 again, the experience was so much more satisfying that I never intend to go back to emulation if I can help it. Playing on a console is just better than doing it on a computer; it feels more ‘real’ somehow, and in the near future I want to get an Everdrive so I can play a wider selection of games than I’ve been able to find actual copies of.

This post has been edited.

Post
#1102217
Topic
Random Thoughts
Time

Excardon me, miss; could you help an old wintergreen pick up his spectacles?

Protuberances abound, Regilith…

Post
#1095776
Topic
Empire Strikes Back audio/70mm Dolby mix
Time

Nah, the 1993 versions are mono surround only.

The one for the first movie was made by using the four main channels of the 70mm mix (L, C, R, S), combining it with additional bass derived from a separate sfx-only master, and then adding new sound effects on top of it in certain places. The mono surround of the 70mm is presented as is with no modifications, aside from some of the new additions also appearing in the rear from time to time.

For ESB, they did not use the 70mm version, but instead took it from the original four-track master conformed to the 35mm edit, adding in bass using the same method. Minor differences exist between this version and both theatrical mixes, but they are very small and the overall sound is very close to what the 70 would have been (when the film was slightly re-edited for 35mm, the entire mix was not re-done but only given minor modification, mainly for the new edits). Again, the surround effects are mono.

Unlike the other two, RotJ '93 is a new mix from multitrack stems, and so does not reflect what the 70mm would have sounded like except in the general sense. However, it was done in the same way, and again has mono surrounds. Since these were only made for home video viewing and intended to be decoded by Dolby Prologic (stereo surround decoding did not yet exist in any Dolby product), there was no reason to do them in any sort of 5.1 style. No 4 or 5 channel version of the 1993 versions was ever made; they were matrixed stereo digital mixes only.

When decoded with Prologic II or other stereo-surround capable algorithms, it is true that these mixes will show separation between the derived surround channels. However, this content consists only of crosstalk from the front. The actual surround effects themselves are mono; they are equal in level between both rear channels. Discrete channel 70mm versions would not have had such crosstalk, so a decoding scheme that allows for the least perceptible amount of it will most accurately reflect what the source would have sounded like prior to matrix encoding.

This post has been edited.

Post
#1093529
Topic
5.1 surround sound on Despecialized Editions?
Time

junh1024 said:

If you’re upscaling to 5.1 just for the purpose of including the LFE, I wouldn’t bother as it’s a lot more trouble than it’s worth. Maybe mix in the LFE @ -10dB.

Or there’s a more elegant way of delivering stereo+LFE - direct bitstream configuration.

AC3 & DTSMA can support 2.1 natively, and encoders are readily available.

If you’ve actually heard what my 5.1 mixes sound like with the LFE, it’s unlikely you’d say it wasn’t worth it.

As for encoding in 2.1 format, I did try that a long time ago, but I won’t do it again. 2.1 is out of spec for AC3, and only non-Dolby encoders allow for this channel configuration. DTS does allow it, but receivers can be quite unreliable as to whether they’ll actually play it back properly. Some of them will, but others will treat it as a stereo signal only and ignore the .1 altogether. Upmixing to five channels and combining with LFE in order to create a standard 5.1 format was the only way I could reliably obtain both the surround audio and the enhanced bass response together in one mix.

This post has been edited.

Post
#1093092
Topic
Return of the Pug (ROTP) - webpage and screenshots
Time

I just got CatBus’ PM about this, and have downloaded the file posted by Puggo. Since I’ve been rather swamped with work lately I might not get to it right away, but I will investigate this mono version for any possible differences to the stereo mix.

Without having heard any of it yet, it seems likely to me that it would be a separate mix, but with only minimal differences in content. If the other two movies are anything to go by, there might be a few minor discrepancies in which sound effects are included, but probably nothing particularly significant.

Post
#1082783
Topic
How Does Princess Leia Remember Her Mother in Return of the Jedi?
Time

If you read the RotJ novelization, it states clearly during the Obi-wan scene that Leia was taken to Alderaan by her mother, and that her mother lived there with her for a while, dying when Leia was a few years old.

In this context, Leia’s ability to remember her is suddenly much more plausible. It also says that when Vader turned to the dark side and joined the Emperor, he had no idea his wife was pregnant — indicating that his turn happened for quite different reasons. And before anyone tries to discount the validity of the novelization as a source, remember that it was based closely on the film script and contains quite a bit of dialog that was written by Kasdan and Lucas but never actually made the final cut of the movie.

So even though these details aren’t in the movie itself, they are nonetheless quite important to the backstory context the film-makers had in mind while working on it. I’ve been aware of them ever since reading the novelization when I was 9. I fully expected that the prequels would adhere to them, and was extremely disappointed when I realized the extent of lazy revisionism that was going on.

This post has been edited.

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