Tag Archives: Film

Why Computer Animation Looks So Darn Real

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Walt Disney once said, “Animation can explain whatever the mind of man can conceive.” For Disney, this was animation’s magic — its power to bring imagination to life.

Disney died in 1966, 11 years before computer animation’s heralded debut in Star Wars, and he likely never imagined how life-like animation would become, or how pervasively it would be used in Hollywood. As viewers, we now hardly blink when we see a fully rendered alien planet or a teddy bear working the grocery store check-out counter.

Animation has largely stripped its reputation as a medium for children; it’s been used far too successfully in major films to remain confined to kids. After all, who hasn’t had the experience of going to an animated film and finding the theatre packed with adults? Who doesn’t secretly remember the moment they were a little turned on during Avatar?

Considering animation’s rapid evolution, it sometimes feels like we’re just weeks away from Drake and Chris Brown settling their beef via a battle of photorealistic holograms.

So how did we get here? How did computer animation come to look so darn real?

From the MoMA to Casper

Computer animation debuted in 1967 in Belgium, and soon after at the MoMA, with Hummingbird, a ten minute film by Charles Csuri and James Shaffer. The film depicted a line drawing of a bird programmed with realistic movements and was shown to a high art crowd, who probably weren’t fantasizing the medium’s potential to create a sassy talking donkey.

In 1972, Ed Catmull, future co-founder of Pixar, created the first 3D computer-animated human hand and face, which was incorporated into the 1976 sci-fi thriller Futureworld. Computer animation didn’t capture the mainstream’s attention, though, until the classic trench run sequence in Star Wars, which used 3D wireframe graphics for the first time. It was the product of a lot of guesswork and brilliance, particularly by animator Larry Cuba. If you have 10 minutes to kill, this old-school video of Cuba explaining how they pulled it off is fascinating:

The late seventies were a time, though, when innovation didn’t happen at the breakneck pace we’re accustomed to today. The next big moment for computer animation didn’t come until 1984, when a young member of George Lucas’ Lucasfilms team, John Lasseter, spearheaded a one-minute CGI film called The Adventures of Andre and Wally B, which pioneered the use of super-curved shapes to create the fluid character movement, a staple of future films by DreamWorks and Pixar, where Lasseter would serve as CCO.

1986’s Labryrinth introduced the first 3D animal — an owl in the opening sequence — and 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day introduced the first realistic human movements by a CGI character, not to mention Arnold Schwarzenegger’s obsession with voter demographics.

In 1993, computer animation’s reputation soared with the release of Jurassic Park and its incredibly realistic dinosaurs. The creatures sent adolescent boys into fits of delight, even though the film only used computer animated dinosaurs for four of the fourteen minutes they were on screen.

Then came 1995 and the release of Casper, which introduced the first CGI protagonist to interact realistically with live actors, though that interaction was predominantly Christina Ricci trying to seduce a ghost.

But Casper was just a warm-up for Toy Story.

The Toy Story and Shrek Era

Six months after Casper, the first feature-length CGI film was released: Toy Story. It was an incredible four-year undertaking by Pixar’s John Lasseter and his team; the film was 81 times longer than Lasseter’s first computer animated film a decade before. They faced two fatal challenges: a relatively tiny $30 million budget, and a small, inexperienced team. Of the 27 animators, half were rumored to have been borderline computer illiterate when production began.

“If we’d known how small our budget and our crew was,” remembered writer Peter Docter, “we probably would have been scared out of our gourds. But we didn’t, so it just felt like we were having a good time.”

They thrived. The animators began by creating clay or computer-drawn models of the characters; once they had the models, they coded articulation and motion controls so that the characters could do things like run, jump and laugh. This was all done with the help of Menv, a modeling environment tool Pixar had been building for nine years. Menv’s models proved incredibly complex — the protagonist, Woody, required 723 motion controls. It was a strain on man and machine alike; it took 800,000 machine hours to complete the film, and it took each animator a week to successfully sync an 8-second shot.

There are more PhDs working on this film than any other in movie history,” Pixar co-founder Steve Jobs told Wired at the time. “And yet you don’t need to know a thing about technology to love it.”

Jobs was right. Audiences loved the film not just because of the impressive animation and three-dimensional realism, but also because of a superb script and voice work by Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and Don Rickles. It sparked computer animated films’ reputation for pairing stunning visuals with compelling stories. That reputation was key, as computer animation’s evolution hinged on the willingness of studios to invest in it.

In 1998, DreamWorks’ Antz and Pixar’s A Bug’s Life maintained computer animation’s stellar reputation, while briefly terrorizing countless entomophobic parents. The flood scene in Antz received widespread praise, particularly from those who couldn’t wait for the bugs to die.

Computer animation’s next breakthrough came in 2001 with Shrek. Shrek delved into true world building; it included 36 separate in-film locations, more than any CGI feature before it. DreamWorks also made a huge advancement by taking the facial muscle rendering software it used in Antz and applying it to the whole body of Shrek’s characters.

“if you pay attention to Shrek when he talks, you see that when he opens his jaw, he forms a double chin,” supervising animator Raman Hui explained, “because we have the fat and the muscles underneath. That kind of detail took us a long time to get right.”

Shrek brought a new age of realism. Hair, skin and clothes flowed naturally in the elements; the challenge of making Donkey’s fur flow smoothly helped animators render the realistic motion of grass, moss and beards (and other things hipsters like). Shrek grossed nearly a half billion dollars, won the first-ever Academy Award For Best Animated Feature, and established DreamWorks as an animation powerhouse, alongside Disney-Pixar.

Advancements in Photorealism and Live Action

In computer animation, there are two kinds of “realness.” First, there’s the “realness” of Shrek, where the animation is still stylized and doesn’t strive for photorealism. Then, there’s photorealistic animation, which aims to make computer animation indistinguishable from live action.

In the same year Shrek was released, we also saw the release of Final Fantasy: The Spirit Within, the first photorealistic, computer-animated feature film. It was filmed using motion-capture technology, which translates recorded movements into animation.

1,327 live action scenes were filmed to make the final animated product. Though the film flopped, the photorealistic visuals were a smash success. The film’s protagonist, Aki Ross, made the cover of Maxim and was the only fictional character to make its list of “Top 100 Sexiest Women Ever.” Aki was a painstaking advancement in photorealistic animation; each of her 60,000 hairs was individually animated, and she was made up of about 400,000 polygons. Entertainment Weekly raved that, “Calling this action heroine a cartoon would be like calling a Rembrandt a doodle,” while naming Aki Ross to its “It” girl list.

The advancements in photorealism and motion capture animation kept coming. In 2002’s The Lord of the Ring: The Two Towers, Gollum was the first motion-capture character to interact directly with live-action characters. Two years later, Tom Hank’s The Polar Express ushered motion-capture films into the mainstream.

Photorealistic animation’s quantum leap came in 2009 with Avatar, a project James Cameron had delayed nearly a decade to allow the technology to catch up to his vision. Cameron commissioned the creation of a camera that recorded facial expressions of actors for animators to use later, allowing for a perfect syncing of live action with animation. Cameron demanded perfection; he reportedly ordered that each plant on the alien planet of Pandora be individually rendered, even though each one contained roughly one million polygons. No wonder it took nearly $300 million to produce Avatar.

Cameron’s goal was to create a film where the audience couldn’t tell what was animated and what was real. He succeeded. Now, the question is, “What’s next?”

What’s Next

Most people think that the animated rendering of humans hasn’t been perfected yet; Cameron’s 10-foot blue animated Na’vi aliens in Avatar was seen as an easier venture than rendering humans, but Cameron doesn’t think that was the case.

“If we had put the same energy into creating a human as we put into creating the Na’vi, it would have been 100% indistinguishable from reality,” Cameron told Entertainment Weekly. “The question is, why the hell would you do that? Why not just photograph the actor? Well, let’s say Clint Eastwood really wanted to do one last Dirty Harry movie looking the way he did in 1975. He could absolutely do it now. And that would be cool.”

Cameron has repeatedly emphasized that he doesn’t view computer animation as a threat to actors, but rather as a tool to empower and transform them.

And if that means we get to experience 1975 Clint Eastwood’s career again, well, that would just go ahead and make our day.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/07/09/animation-history-tech/

Let’s Talk About ‘Edge of Tomorrow’: It’s Great, But We Got Gripes

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Tom Cruise in a scene (and another scene, and another) from "Edge of Tomorrow."
Image: Warner Bros.

Every week, Mashable presents “Let’s Talk About…”, a Monday-morning look back at the biggest WTF moment from the weekend’s most talked-about new movie. If you haven’t seen the film, be warned: This doesn’t just contain spoilers — it’s ALL spoilers.


This week: Let’s talk about Edge of Tomorrow.

Tom Cruise may have gotten the box office tar knocked out of him by a sickly teen girl, but Edge of Tomorrow is still a rock solid success for the international A-lister.

More importantly, Doug Liman’s crafty and clever film (based on a novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka and adapted by Christopher McQuarrie, Jez and John-Henry Butterworth) is a terrific bit of blockbuster summer cinema. The action is terrific, the performances have zip and the idea — even if it really is nothing but Groundhog Day Space War — feels fresh.

Edge of Tomorrow is such a delight that we almost feel bad mentioning the aspects we can’t wrap our heads around. And yet, that’s what we’re going to do. Keep in mind, this is the type of movie that could have had dozens and dozens of infuriating story holes and inconsistencies. The fact that we only have five things to gripe about is, unquestionably, a major win for #TeamTomorrow.

1. This guy look familiar?

In a surgical strike of opening exposition, we learn all about the attack of the Mimics and Humanity’s fight for survival. In addition to quick glimpses of known individuals (was that President Hillary Clinton?), we meet three important personalities: General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson), the leader of coalition forces, Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) the “Angel of Verdun” and/or “Full Metal Bitch” and Major William Cage (Cruise), the spin doctor tasked with disseminating the coalition’s talking points.

I’ll allow that Bill Paxton’s Sergeant Farrell, warned of Cage’s “desertion” and tricks, would stay stone-faced, but wouldn’t someone at the base say, “Hey, that’s the dude from Meet the Press?”

2. Where the non-white women at?

Emily Blunt is as badass as it comes in Edge of Tomorrow. She uses a helicopter blade as a sword, for heaven’s sake. She’s gorgeous, with shades of Catherine Zeta-Jones in Entrapment in that “worming up from the floor” move we see repeated 600 times, and she’s also quick-witted. We see the gears turning as she and Cruise try to use the time loops the movie to defeat the bad guys.

Elsewhere in the camp is Nance (Charlotte Riley), a crazy-eyed warrior part of Sergeant Farrell’s team. (Think of Amy Winehouse in a mech suit.) Clearly, this is a modern-day army in which women fight alongside men. But weirdly, these are the only two women we see. Like, anywhere. I think maybe a secretary brings Gleeson a folder. It’s odd that a movie that does such a good job of incorporating women into major roles would have such a jarring lack of representation elsewhere.

3. Killing me bluntly

There aren’t multiple timelines in Edge of Tomorrow, there are restarted days: loops where one reality winks out of existence and starts over depending on whether or not Tom Cruise survives.

Emily Blunt’s character knows this because it used to happen to her. (The explanation: if an “alpha,” a rare member of the alien breed, dies, the “omega,” the Queen Bee, will restart the day. If, as the “alpha” dies, it gets its blood on you, you inherit this rebooting ability, too. You lose this ability if you get a blood transfusion, lucky for the Mimics, I suppose.)

Anyway, to Cruise’s character, dying is a hassle (and likely a little painful), but not a big deal. He will always wake up again with a drill sergeant’s boot in his back. Whether or not the Cruise experiencing these loops needs to sleep or eat or even age isn’t really addressed.)

Here’s the thing, though. It is curious to think that Blunt, the only other person who can really understand what is happening, has no qualms about killing Cruise. Not because she should be worried about a court martial, but because she knows that in doing so she is, effectively, erasing her own life.

When Cruise dies, her experience ceases to exist. She’s basically killing herself, because from her point of view, reality will just vanish. A version of herself will live again in the next cycle, and she and Cruise will be able to steer that destiny — but the one right here, right now, will blink out as soon as she pulls that trigger.

She’s a badass, but she’s also a survivor. It’s interesting that she’s so willing to start over each time.

4. Get to the choppah!

At the farmhouse, Cruise tells Blunt that no matter how many times they try, she ends up dead when they fire up the helicopter. Eventually, he decides to go it alone to the dam in Germany, without even approaching her.

I suppose the idea is that near-infinite trial-and-error eventually gets him past that hurdle. Doesn’t quite make sense. If he’s able to do it alone, then why wasn’t he able to do it with Blunt by his side? In fact, wouldn’t it be easier with two fighting bodies?

A possible answer, and one that I like, is that Cruise simply couldn’t take the emotional impact of watching this person he now cares for die over and over again. I’m willing to take that, and I’m also willing to accept that with all his training, Cruise was able to get off the beach by himself — even though at first, he needed Blunt as an extra set of eyes and ears. But the movie does sort of blaze past this point with some quick cutting. My guess is that Liman and company were hoping no one would notice.

5. And, in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make

Edge of Tomorrow is so great that I can hardly get annoyed by the ending. But I don’t think there’s anything in the text that explains what happens other than “Hey, that’s how it works.” Same as Groundhog Day.

Killing an “Alpha” means a restart on the day, and if, by some glitch, you get the blood on yourself, you can do it, too. Okay, sounds good.

Killing an “Omega” means, um, what exactly? That things work out nicely and the good guys win, but with enough vagueness that a sequel could be ready to go.

Maybe this is the perfect ending.

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Jordan Hoffman

Jordan Hoffman is a writer and critic in New York City whose work appears in the New York Daily News, VanityFair.com, ScreenCrush and Times of Israel. Follow him on Twitter at @JHoffman.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2014/06/09/edge-of-tomorrow-movie-review/

Top 10 Unproduced Film Scripts Revealed on Twitter

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The Black List, an annual ranking of most-liked unproduced screenplays, unleashed its top 10 scripts one-by-one in tweets this week. A Twitter chat to discuss the selections is scheduled for Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET.

Among the topics for the scripts are the NFL draft, Dr. Suess and Hillary Clinton (pictured).

Films that have made previous year’s Black Lists include such critically acclaimed titles as The Social Network, The King’s Speech and Slumdog Millionaire.

This year, organizers revealed the Black List inclusions on Twitter and then tweeted the top 10 in reverse order (see tweets below along with each screenplay’s description; full list here).

Scott Rothman, a writer for the top-mentioned script, tweeted his reaction to earning the number one spot for his screenplay Draft Day: “@theblcklst Holy crap! Thank you!”

More than 290 film executives submitted their top choices for the 2012 Black List, with each script needing at least six mentions to enter the list.

Screenplay description: “On the day of the NFL Draft, Bills General Manager Sonny Weaver has the opportunity to save football in Buffalo when he trades for the number one pick. He must quickly decide what he’s willing to sacrifice in pursuit of perfection as the lines between his personal and professional life become blurred.”

Screenplay description: “Based on true events. Inspector Geoff Harper conducts a forty year search for the Beaumont Children, three siblings taken from an Australian beach in January of 1966.”

Screenplay description: “As a young man, Ted Geisel meets his future wife Helen, who encourages his fanciful drawings, and in the 1950s when Ted is struggling professionally, Helen helps inspire the children’s book that will become his first big hit, ‘The Cat in the Hat.'”

Screenplay description: “During the height of the Watergate scandal, rising star Hillary Rodham is the youngest lawyer chosen for the House Judiciary Committee to Impeach Nixon, but she soon finds herself forced to choose between a destined path to the White House and her unresolved feelings for Bill Clinton, her former boyfriend who now teaches law in Arkansas.”

Screenplay description: “Based on the short story by Ted Chiang. When alien crafts land around the world, a linguistics expert is recruited by the military to determine whether they come in peace or are a threat. As she learns to communicate with the aliens, she begins experiencing vivid flashbacks that become the key to unlocking the greater mystery about the true purpose of their visit.”

Screenplay description: “A Mossad employed father and his CIA agent son team up to hunt an escaped Nazi.”

Screenplay description: “Based on a true (and ultimately surprising) story, a promising young law student fights an oppressive legal system and growing public scrutiny when his routine traffic stop snowballs into shocking criminal charges, imprisonment, daring escapes, and ultimately acting as his own attorney in a nationally televised murder trial.”

Screenplay description: “When three friends go missing on a camping trip in a forest rumored to be haunted, the two left behind discover clues that lead them to a safe deposit box containing video tapes… showing exactly what happened to their friends.”

Screenplay description: “Based on Andrews’s eponymous novel, a quirky high school student who enjoys making films sparks a friendship with a classmate dying of leukemia.”

Screenplay description: “In the Soviet Union in 1937, a worker of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs finds a list of traitors, which he thinks is going to be his way out.”

Image via JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images

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Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/12/18/2012-black-list-twitter/

Mashable Weekend Recap: 65 Stories You Might Have Missed

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The weekend started off with a bang, thanks to the dazzling opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games. That was spectacular enough to get everyone super-ready for the athletic competition involving our entire planet.

There were plenty of stories about the Olympics, and at the same time, your intrepid Mashable team discovered so much more — happenings in the digital world, tech innovations that felt like they were from a future world, and GIFs, comics and weekend fun that seemed to be from another world entirely.

Best of all, we’ve gathered all those stories here for you, in one big easy-to-peruse package. So take a look at the latest Weekend Recap, where you can catch up with the entire weekend of delightful news and views, right here:

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Top 10 Twitter Pics of the Week

Mountain Lion Vs. Windows 8: Which One Is Better?

Best Pics Yet: This Could Be the Real iPhone 5

How to Watch the 2012 Summer Olympics Online

Spoilers: Angry Olympics Fans Tweet Their Protests, NBC Responds

Top 10 Tech This Week [PICS]

News & Opinion

Marissa Mayer Brings Free Food to Yahoo, Eyes Acquisitions [REPORT]

MTV’s ‘Teen Wolf’ Facebook Game Is Feast for Fans in First 5 Weeks

Where to Get Back-to-School Deals on Tablets, Computers

How Dictation Tools Can Help Speed Up Your Workflow [INFOGRAPHIC]

Russian Cargo Spacecraft Docks With Space Station on 2nd Try

Olympic Check-Ins: Hot Foursquare Deals and Badges for London 2012

Record-Setting Electric Plane Flight Almost Didn’t Make It [VIDEO]

Mysterious Billionaire Commissions World’s Largest Yacht [VIDEO]

Twitter Jokester’s ‘Bomb Threat’ Charges Dropped [VIDEO]

Olympic Popularity: Starcount Reveals Which Olympic Athletes Are Trending

Amazon Sales Tax — What it Means for You

Down to the Millisecond: All About Olympics Timing

Trioh! The Flashlight You Can See When The Power Goes Out

On Reddit, Rapists Say They’re Sorry

Latest Apple Ads Take a Turn for the Worse

Why the London 2012 Olympics Is the First Real-Time Games

The 9 Most Important Tablet Mysteries of 2012

Device Turns Eye Movement Into Handwriting

Apple Considered Investing in Twitter [REPORT]

Hidden Genius Project Provides Tech Mentorship for Young Black Men

What Higher Education Will Look Like in 2020 [STUDY]

Why Do We Keep Going Back to Mars?

This Is What the Olympians From 100 Years Ago Looked Like

Shedding Light on Mitt Romney’s Unexplained Twitter Surge

New Leaked Pics May Hint at iPhone 5 Design

Chick-fil-A PR Chief Dies as Company Battles Controversy

Hacking the Olympics Opening Ceremony

Romney Advisor Tweets ‘Follow Friday’ List of Potential VPs

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Weekend Leisure

This Cute, Cubed Bamboo Speaker Packs Crazy Sound [VIDEO]

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10 Stylish Onesies for Baby Geeks

12 Pictures of Animals Being Forced to Marry

It’s Official: This Is the Cutest Picture on the Internet

Twitter Doghouse Lets You Temporarily Dump Annoying Tweeps

Top 10 GIFs of the Week

Boys Will Be Boys In This ‘Girls’ Parody [VIDEO]

10 Brits Snubbed from the Olympic Opening Ceremony

You Have Upset The Tetris God [VIDEO]

Sneak Peek: Justin Bieber Teases ‘As Long As You Love Me’ Video

If ‘A Space Odyssey’ Were Remade as a Hollywood Blockbuster

Forget Traditional Tours; Vayable Helps You Discover New Ways to Travel

Listen to Talk Radio on Your iPhone? You’re Probably a Liberal

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Get a Bird’s-Eye View of 25 Olympic Stadiums

Top 6 Comments on Mashable This Week

Helpful Resources

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Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/07/30/weekend-recap-64/

Can Children Really Be Raised By Animals Like In “The Jungle Book”?

The new Jungle Book movie is now in cinemas, and once again it features the century-old tale of Mowgli, an orphaned boy raised by the inhabitants of the jungle. Apart from the astoundingly awesome fact that Bill Murray is voicing Baloo, the soft-hearted bear, the movies story will never fail to win viewers over thanks to its fantastical take on a human living among a menagerie of exotic animals in the wild.

Although such a complex collection of animals makes for a piece of visually resplendent fiction, you may be wondering if theres any truth behind a boy being raised by wolves. There are various mythological or literary whisperings about babies being reared in this way, including Tarzan looked after by great apes and Romulus and Remus, the supposed founders of Rome, who were also tended to by wolves.

So is there any evidence or science at all behind the tales of the so-called feral children, or is it all just the stuff of legends? Lets take a look.

Once Upon A Time In Ukraine

Oxana Malayas story. Animal Planet via YouTube

Oxana Malaya, as the story goes, was abandoned by her parents in the village of Novaya Blagoveschenka as a 3-year-old child. She was left outside in the cold, so she moved to where there was warmth and food, which in this case was a hovel sheltering dogs eating raw meat. She supposedly joined them and spent five years gradually losing human linguistic and behavioral traits and adopting far more canine ones.

When she was found in 1991, the eight-year-old Oxana was more dog than human, and nowadays she is assigned to a foster home for the mentally-disabled, where she helps out on the farm. Multiple documentaries have been made about her, and although she used to frequently bark, ran around on all fours, slept on the floor, and ate like a dog, she is now able to suppress such behaviors.

The problem is that theres no documented proof of any kind that she lived with dogs in this way. Although her behaviors seem real, this could all be the result of her being mentally impaired, and there would be no way to tell the difference.

Raised By Wolves

A captive Indian wolf (Canis lupus pallipes). Pavan Kunder/Wikimedia Commons; CC BY 2.0

Of the other feral children stories drifting around, one of the most intriguing is that of a boy named Ramuwho, just like Mowgli, was raised by Indian wolves or so it seems.

In 1976, he was said to have been found by wolf cubs, behaving as they did; he even had claw-like nails. The missionaries that adopted him noted that he learned how to bathe and dress, but never to speak. At night, hed raid the nearby chicken coops. He died in 1985, and his obituary made the front page of the Times of India.

An investigation by the Los Angeles Times found that the story began to unravel with weird parallels to the Rudyard Kipling collection of stories the Jungle Book first written in 1894. People at the missionarys retreat, including an elderly lawyer, spoke about another wolf boy called Bhaloo who was found running alongside aggressive wolf cubs, who was adopted by another person in a nearby village.

Ultimately, the tales of Bhaloo and Ramu could not be confirmed. It seems that there are plenty of legends of feral children out there for anyone to peruse, but few of them have documented evidence of their occurrence.

Adoption In The Wild

Chimpanzees are like us in many ways so would they adopt a baby that isnt theirs? Gudkov Andrey/Shutterstock

In any case, the crux of the matter here is not that children can be abandoned and survive in the wild because this does happen but whether animals of completely different species would want to share their resources and even protect someone who isnt one of their own in any way.

Chimpanzees, with their remarkable genetic, social, intellectual and behavioral traits, are seen as the closest living evolutionary cousins to humans, but this doesnt mean theyd adopt a human child. They certainly show empathy and kindness, but theyre also documented as engaging in both murder and warfare, either to displace another male rising up the social hierarchy or to defend their territory, respectively.

Theyre also known to engage in infanticide, as are types of monkeys, bears, penguins, and a whole host of animals. Nevertheless, chimpanzees have been known to adopt other orphaned chimps, both in captivity and in the wild.

Speaking less horrifically, even though they may not kill you, if you dont serve a use to some animals like cats, who see humans as inessential landlords they may simply discard you entirely, leaving you to fend for yourself. These things considered, it seems pretty unlikely that animals would be willing to adopt an alien-looking, resource-swilling human child.

However, there are plenty of cases of animals actually adopting or at least befriending members of other species. Captive dogs have nursed baby squirrels and owls, and one particular captive gorilla has a penchant for adopting kittens, for example. Even the wild has its share of adoptions, including a pod of sperm whales that took care of a deformed bottlenose dolphin.

Researchers have noted that one of the main forms of animal adoption is when a creature adopts a member of its own species, something known as instinctive adoption. Looking after your own is a way to ensure DNA that is at least somewhat similar to yours is passed on to the next generation.

Mutual benefit also helps; in the case of the deformed bottlenose dolphin, it was likely adopted because it made the group stronger overall. As long as you arent taking up too many resources, youd likely be fine, it seems. In many cases, adoption of an individual occurs when a new mother takes on a young orphan, perhaps due to their temporarily higher levels of oxytocin, a hormone known to promote social bonding.

Youre Either With Us Or Against Us

In the wild, mutual benefit may be the answer to this tantalizing question. Peter Batarseh/Shutterstock

With respect to mutual benefit, one tale of feral children stands out: Between the ages of 4 and 6, Ivan Mishukov befriended some wild dogs on the streets of Moscow. He eventually gained their trust completely and became their pack leader; they protected him like he was one of their own, and they all shared food together.

Although its still difficult to verify the truth of this story, theres less skepticism floating around the Internet than usual when it comes to tales like these. So perhaps a young human could be adopted by a wild animal, as long as they pulled their weight in their new society we just havent seen verifiable, convincing, documented evidence of it just yet.

In Mowglis case, it could just possibly be true: wolves have been observed adopting other pups. Tiny humans, though, may be seen as little more than a tasty amuse-bouche.

Main image: The Jungle Book, Disney via YouTube

Photo Gallery

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/can-children-really-be-raised-animals-jungle-book

‘Gravity’ Trailer Will Leave You Gasping for Air With Sandra Bullock

Take a deep breath — you’ll need it.

The official trailer for Gravity is the longest and most unnerving look at Alfonso Cuarón’s space thriller, starring Academy Award-winners Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.

Previous trailers gave audiences a peek at Bullock’s character, Dr. Ryan Stone, helplessly tumbling through the dark voids of space. The new trailer builds upon the action, using Stone’s desperate breaths to echo throughout the footage.

The trailer also adds emotional depth to the plot. Clooney’s character Matt Kowalsky asks Stone, “Is there somebody down there looking up, thinking about you?”

“I had a daughter. A little girl with brown hair. Tell her that I’m not quitting,” Stone responds.

The film arrives in theaters on Oct. 4.

BONUS: 55 Astonishing Images of Earth From Space

Young Steve Martin Was a Turtle-Riding Drag Queen

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Steve Martin has come a long way as a comedian. Before becoming a big screen star known all around the world, he started small (as most comedians do) and was known for smaller parts.

Luckily for us, his first TV special, Steve Martin: A Wild and Crazy Guy, is hilarious. Martin promises his lover that he will wear something from her as good luck. Unfortunately for him, it’s not just a “pin or something,” as he expected.

Watch the video above to see this classic and hilarious turtle-wrangling version of Steve Martin in one of his first comedy videos. Thanks to Official Comedy for sharing the throwback.

5 Modern Movie Trends Peter Jackson Started

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In honor of The Hobbit‘s wrap, we found five prominent modern movie trends that can be traced to Lord of the Rings. Not all of these started with the Trilogy of our generation. However, their sudden popularity surged after Peter Jackson’s team retreated to New Zealand. Here’s a loving look at some of the things that are wrong (and some that are just alright) with the modern blockbuster as we’ve come to know it beyond the aughts.

1. (Almost) All Movies are too Long

Lord of the Rings proved a lot of things to movie producers. But beyond a shadow of a Ring-made doubt, it proved that audiences were willing to plant their butts in multiplex seats for three hours at a time.

Well, sort of.

Actually, this conclusion is a violent misconception about our patience. We were willing to sit for three hours and watch the LOTR trilogy. But Pirates of the Carribean 4, for example, may not merit that kind of attention. Rising (and rising and rising) ticket prices might make you say that you’re getting more bang for your buck, but when the average mind-numbing rom-com or action flick is as long as it takes to hike to Isengard, there’s something wrong with the editing process.

These monoliths roll into the theaters, obliterating the usual available time slots. They also take up multiple screens so theaters can offer as many showings as possible, a practice that can knock smaller films off the distribution roster.

For example, The Avengers is not such a tremendously complicated story that it should require two-and-a-half hours to watch. Similarly, upcoming box office juggernaut The Dark Knight Rises clocks in at 2:45, according to industry sources.

2. We Have Incredibly High Expectations for DVD Features

It’s hard to believe from the perspective of more than a decade later, but when the first Lord of the Rings was released for home viewing, we were still getting a handle on the whole idea of DVDs. The year 2001 was basically still the late 1990s by pop culture’s clock. Forget about Netflix Instant — plenty of homes didn’t even have a DVD player yet.

So when Peter Jackson put extra special loving care into something called the Extended Edition, we didn’t realize what was going to happen.

There was nothing to compare it to, and, to a large extent, there still isn’t. The Extended Editions, those lovely book-looking boxes that probably still have a proud place near your home viewing system of choice, set the bar very high. They contain cuts of the films that run nearer to four hours apiece. It also includes what seems like 100 hours of bonus production footage.

There are four discs for each film with packaging covered in beautiful drawings by Alan Lee and John Howe. This lavish, extensive evidence of the whole event made viewers feel even more attached, besotted and generally obsessed with what by all accounts seemed like the best filmmaking experience in the history of movie-making.

3. It Triggered the Rise of the Ensemble Cast

Before Harry Potter made good on its bid to hire every stately English actor, LOTR was stuffed to the brim with everyone else, and a few more. LOTR re-defined massive. It’s not just a matter of numbers, though the series has got that more than covered. It’s a matter of names, and largely one of chemistry.

Having a large cast of notable and semi-notable actors isn’t entirely new. It’s an old-fashioned Hollywood trick, and one our generation wasn’t particularly familiar with when LOTR played its hand. But with a Shakespearean cast to match its epic scale, and a deft directing eye to pull it all together, the old idea had new legs. Suddenly, it seemed like a much better bet to have as many main actors as possible to pull in viewers. The tired-and-true method of having a single star carry a major motion picture has lost a lot of traction in the last 10 years, but the solution, at least from Hollywood’s perspective, started right at the millennium’s turn.

While we haven’t seen the death of the single-star vehicle, if Brad Bird’s well-received fourth Mission: Impossible is anything to go by, the single-star vehicle might be getting an assist (or three), for now.

4. Motion Capture Is King

For years, the dubious technology known as mo-cap (or motion capture) had lived on the fringes of movie production. Consisting of sensors adhered on a bodysuit, referred to sometimes as “ping-pong balls,” the points covering an actor or a stuntperson would pick up their performance and send the data back to a computer. A team of engineers and animators then relate the data to CG models, translating a real performance, in real space, with real actors, into a form that could not be realized through complex prosthetics or camera trickery.

But for the longest time in the F/X world, what we now take for granted was costly, clunky and just didn’t come off well. Attempts to replicate human performance in a humanoid fabrication tumbled fast into the uncanny valley.

But the team at WETA made a better example than we’d ever seen before. Gollum, as an equal creation of CG and Andy Serkis’ memorable performance, was a big gamble. No one had attempted an extended, interactive motion-capture character at that level. WETA and Serkis did more than create an iconic character. They proved that mo-cap could be effectively used for large portions of major motion pictures.

Today actors and extras suit up in mo-co rigs at the drop of a hat. Now that we know motion capture can be done to great effect, it should become another tool in the arsenal, not a de-facto solution. CG alone is not a magic wand that can be waved to solve all your production problems. Prosthetics, animatronic builds and other physical effects still have, and deserve their place. Or, are we excited to watch the newer Star Wars movies all over again?

5. Everything Is a Trilogy

Lord of the Rings cost a lot of money. But, given what was turned out, it was comparatively cheap when you think about single movies since that have spent two-thirds as much for their one outing. Jackson managed this by shooting all three back to back. In due time, LOTR’s cumulative box office communicated something that isn’t true without the Jackson & Co. context: You can make more for less, and that audiences will always, always want that “more.”

“Trilogy” is one of those fantasy-genre casualties that brings to mind a certain importance or grandeur. What it means, theoretically, is there are three of these because there’s really that much to say. Thanks to LOTR, we shall forever have three of everything. No matter how small the chance of a sequel being made, it is now standard practice to sign actors to trilogy contracts at minimum. Combine ever-growing overseas receipts and record-busting midnight openings with the industry’s worsening scaredy-cat syndrome regarding new properties, and we’re looking down the barrel of a boring moviegoing future.

Image courtesy of The Hobbit Movie on Facebook

This article originally published at The Mary Sue
here

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/07/18/peter-jackson-movie-trends/

James Bond’s 50-Year Love Affair With Space

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James Bond, the fictional British spy who celebrates the 50th anniversary of his film franchise this year, has done quite a lot of sleuthing in space as well as on Earth.

The latest Bond movie, Skyfall, opens tomorrow (Nov. 9). From the first film featuring the debonair MI6 agent, to the newest, the 50-year arc of James Bond has paralleled, in many ways, the progression of the U.S. human spaceflight program.

Mercury program astronaut Alan Shepard made the first U.S. manned spaceflight on May 5, 1961, just one year before the Bond franchise began.

In fact, the stakes of the first 007 movie itself — Dr. No, which was released in 1962 — were no less than the U.S. space program. In that film, evil genius Dr. No aims to disrupt a NASA Mercury space launch using an atomic-powered radio beam, and it’s up to Bond to stop him.

James Bond was the first hero of the space age,” said Bond expert John Cork, author of the book James Bond: The Legacy. “The Mercury 7 astronauts were being trained right as Dr. No is coming out.”

Another Bond movie, the 1967 flick You Only Live Twice, opens with a scene where an astronaut is killed in space. That movie was filmed two weeks before three NASA astronauts died in a ground fire during a dress rehearsal for the Apollo 1 mission on Jan. 27, 1967, Cork said. “There’s a real dovetailing there.”

In You Only Live Twice, the villain kidnaps U.S. and Soviet astronauts in the hopes of seeding tension to start World War III. Later, in the 1971 Diamonds Are Forever, Bond’s antagonist develops a satellite to be used as a space-based weapon, and 007 himself escapes danger at one point by stealing a moon buggy from a research laboratory.

One of the most overt, and memorable, references to space in a Bond film was in 1979’s Moonraker, which saw James Bond himself travel to space.

By the late 1970s, the space program had moved on from the moon-based Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs and into the space shuttle era; Bond had moved on too. This time, Bond must find out why a space shuttle was hijacked during a space mission. To save the day, 007 works with brilliant and beautiful NASA scientist Dr. Holly Goodhead, and ultimately, he launches into orbit to visit a space station that sets the scene for the movie’s climactic end battle.

That film was even originally planned to coincide with the first space shuttle launch, according to IMDB, but the debut of the real-life shuttle was delayed until 1981.

The James Bond film producers “were always smart enough to look at the latest advancements in technology and take advantage of them,” said film critic Bill Desowitz, author of the book “James Bond Unmasked.” “The hardest thing is finding greater and more interesting threats. After introducing all this globetrotting around the world, it made sense to delve into outer space.”

In later James Bond films, the franchise’s relationship with space shifted from human space travel to dealings with robotic spacecraft, much as the country delved further into unmanned solar system exploration along with its manned space program.

GoldenEye (1995), Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), and Die Another Day (2002) each dealt with satellites or space weapons. And scenes for 2008’s Quantum of Solace were shot at one of the world’s premier telescope sites, the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile.

“Three of the four Pierce Brosnan films have strong space elements,” said Cork, who recently worked on the special features for the 50th Anniversary James Bond Blu-ray set. “They deal with the idea of manipulation of satellites. They’re really are dealing with the way the space program works now: We’re sending up incredibly sophisticated satellites.”

Cork traced some of Bond’s affinity with space back to the film’s origin, which is the series of books by former British naval intelligence officer Ian Fleming.

“Ian Fleming was fascinated by rocketry and space,” Cork told SPACE.com. “He even communicated with [sci-fi writer] Arthur C. Clarke.”

Though the latest Bond entry, Skyfall, doesn’t overtly relate to space, it grapples with Bond’s close relationship to technology, which is a constant theme throughout the films.

“Bond was a character who was a master of technology,” Cork said. “This was something that was quite revolutionary for a film series. The notion of Bond being the first hero of the space age all goes back to technology.”

This article originally published at Space.com
here

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/11/08/james-bond-in-space/

Mashable Weekend Recap: 60 Stories You Might Have Missed

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You might think mid-summer is kind of quiet here at Mashable HQ, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. This weekend was rip-roaring, rollicking and all those other “R” words — full of news, views, ballyhoo and woo woo, and we gathered all of it together right here, just for you.

So start your week right, check out all of our posts we did over the weekend here on the Weekend Recap, and then go out there and make it your best week yet.

Editor’s Picks

Sneak Peek: iPad 7? Features Unicorn Horns, Levitation [SUNDAY COMICS]

Advertisers Need to Pay Attention to Connected TV [INFOGRAPHIC]

Next iPhone Will Debut in Fall, Japanese Blog Reports [VIDEO]

Richard Branson Announces Satellite-Carrying ‘LauncherOne’

Top 10 Pinterest Pins This Week

6 Apps You Don’t Want To Miss

Top 10 Tech This Week [PICS]

News & Opinion

Nokia Knocks Lumia 900 Price Down to $50

How to Watch ‘Breaking Bad’ Premiere Live Online

770,000 Users Demand YouTube-to-MP3 Conversion

Top 6 Comments on Mashable This Week

Watch the Soyuz Lift Off for the International Space Station [VIDEO]

Cutest Thing You’ll See All Day: Man Proposes To Anchor Girlfriend On-Air [VIDEO]

HTC Working on ‘Unique’ New Tablet [REPORT]

NASA Releases Awesome Images of Massive Solar Flare Heading Toward Earth [VIDEO]

Mysterious Photos of a Super Slim Playstation 3 Leaked [VIDEO]

The Real iPod: Elon Musk’s Wild Idea for a ‘Jetson Tunnel’ from SF to LA

Non-Profits to Reap $10 Million From Facebook Settlement [REPORT]

RIM Loses $147,200,000 in Patent Verdict

LEGO Version of ‘Portal’ May Be Coming to a Store Near You

Solar Flare Heading Toward Earth, Could Result in Beautiful Sky Show [VIDEO]

The Chosen One: Meet the Man Who Sparked the Reddit Mystery [VIDEO]

Golden Google Doodle Honors Austrian Painter Gustav Klimt

Fast Food Loves Facebook: Restaurant Chains on Social Media [INFOGRAPHIC]

Amazon Game Network Launch Hints at Kindle Smartphone

Woman Goes to Extremes to Sell $35 Million Mansion

Are FBI’s Android Data-Sharing Apps Hacker-Proof?

Mobile Users Are Checking In as They Check Out of Town [INFOGRAPHIC]

Amy Poehler Gives Fantastic Makeup Advice [VIDEO]

Windows 8 Gets Unboxed

Bieber Hits 25 Million Followers, Twitter Employees Dance [VIDEO]

Are You Afraid of Mobile Phone Separation? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Weekend Leisure

How to Watch ‘Breaking Bad’ Premiere Live Online

Watch the Gruesome Trailer for The Walking Dead’s New Season

5 Fascinating Things We Learned From Reddit This Week

Kickstarter Project: Bring Ancient Artillery into Your Office [VIDEO]

The 10 Most Awesome Breaking Bad Finds on Pinterest

Watch London Cops Pull the Plug on Springsteen and McCartney [VIDEO]

‘Call Me Maybe’ Meets Star Wars: Forced Parody? [VIDEO]

Pack The Perfect Pinterest Picnic

Workout Gadgets Will Soon Be Battery-Free and Powered by You

Top 10 GIFs of the Week

Screen Time: How Much is Too Much for Your Kids?

10 Epic Trick Shot Stunts on YouTube

Who is the Superhero of the Social Web? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Half-Time at Comic-Con: Thursday and Friday’s Featured Films

7 Cosplayers to Follow on Social Media

7 Classic Harrison Ford Movie Quotes as Memes

Who Should Replace Departing ‘American Idol’ Judges?

This Robot Can Express Frighteningly Human Emotions [VIDEO]

Modern Day Heat Wave Problems [COMIC]

Helpful Resources

Reserve These 5 Web Properties for Your Kids Now

Why Analytics Matter to Small Businesses

3 Online Tools for Finding the Perfect Job Candidate

50 Digital Media Resources You May Have Missed

Can We Stop Bullying in the Gaming Community?

This Website Uses Social Media to Find Your Dream Job

A Flash Sales Site for Modest Fashion

How to Tell if Your Ad Is Terrible

12 Jaw-Dropping Booths From Comic-Con

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/07/16/weekend-recap-62/