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28 Aug 00:47

Tesla Model S broke Consumer Reports' rating system

by Autoblog
The 2015 Tesla Model S P85D is officially the highest-rated vehicle ever tested by Consumer Reports. In fact, it's so good, it actually broke the magazine's rating system, achieving 103 points on a 100-point scale. The reviewers call the sedan "a g...
28 Aug 07:40

Tencent's kids smartwatch is both cute and connected

by Richard Lai
While there are already a handful of connected wearables for kids in the market, here's one with a more complete set of features. Courtesy of Chinese tech giant Tencent, this QQ Watch comes with a 1.12-inch 128 x 128 OLED screen, IP65 ruggedness, a...
28 Aug 03:30

In a first, over a billion people logged onto Facebook in a single day

This past Monday was special for Facebook as the social network saw over a billion people using it on that day, something that has happened for the first time in the company's history. The statistic was revealed by none other than Mark Zuckerberg himself. "We just passed an important milestone. For the first time ever, one billion people used Facebook in a single day," the CEO said in a Facebook post. "On Monday, 1 in 7 people on Earth used Facebook to connect with their friends and family." While Facebook has already achieved 1 billion monthly active users milestone, having the same number of people using the service in a single day is much more significant. According to official statistics, the social network had an average of 968 million daily active users and 1.49 billion monthly active users last...

24 Aug 12:16

Innovative new bike-mounted child carrier

by Jack Evans

File under: Latest News

Innovative new bike-mounted child carrier Photo credit: YouTube YouTube The number of people choosing to cycle has rocketed over the past few years, but it's one of the few activities that is difficult to do with very young children. Bicycle seats are available, as are attachments to the rear of the bike. However, these change the weight distribution of the bike and can spoil the enjoyment for the rider. continue reading

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25 Aug 13:46

The Day the Nightclub Died

by Captain Capitalism

Now, for the past 40 years this business model has worked. And using back of napkin statistics men have transferred roughly a trillion dollars worth of wealth to women in the form of drinks, food, cover charges (and flowers if you were stupid enough to fall for that gag where the guy is hocking roses in a bucket). But there has been an incredible game changer as of recent. One that completely obsoletes this model and has completely rewritten the rules for many other industries as well.

The internet.

25 Aug 12:07

Whistleblowers Band Together To Sue FBI, NSA And DOJ For Malicious Prosecution, Civil Liberties Violations

by Tim Cushing

This should be fun. A bunch of whistleblowers that were hounded, surveilled and prosecuted/persecuted by the US government are banding together to sue all the big names in domestic surveillance.

Thomas Drake, Diane Roark, Ed Loomis, J. Kirk Wiebe and William Binney have filed a civil rights lawsuit against the NSA, FBI, DOJ, Michael Hayden, Keith Alexander, Chris Inglis, Robert Mueller and a handful of others. They will be represented by Larry Klayman, who has some experience suing intelligence agencies.

The claims arise from the government's treatment of these whistleblowers after they started making noise about the NSA's surveillance programs. More specifically, the lawsuit points to the short-lived internet surveillance program THINTHREAD, which was ignored and abandoned in favor of something more expensive, but less protective of Americans' communications.

Plaintiffs worked in various roles on developing and perfecting a candidate program called THINTHREAD which was capable of performing the technical work desired by the NSA for surveillance of the internet efficiently, effectively, and at very low cost.
THINTHREAD was put into operation successfully but only on a demonstration basis. It was approved to demonstrate that it worked, but not officially commissioned for actual operational use.

Despite the Plaintiffs demonstrating that THINTHREAD actually worked, the NSA ignored THINTHREAD as a candidate for performing the desired surveillance of the internet and telephone communications, because THINTHREAD was inexpensive and highly effective, yet Lt. General Michael Hayden had made a corporate decision to “buy” externally rather than “build” internally the solution deemed necessary to harvest internet data.
$4 billion went into another program called TRAILBLAZER (THINTHREAD's internal development cost, by contrast, was only $4 MILLION), along with five years of development. In the end, TRAILBLAZER never worked properly and was abandoned by the NSA in 2006.

This wasteful "funneling" of funds to preferred government contractors was reported to the Dept. of Defense by four of the whistleblowers, under the heading of waste, fraud and misuse of taxpayers' money. The DoD wasn't happy. It issued a scathing internal report. But the NSA wasn't interested in having its faults pointed out. It sent the DOJ after the whistleblowers, using an unrelated leak of information about the NSA's expansive domestic surveillance programs to the New York Times as the impetus for a series of raids.

According to the filing, the raids were retaliatory. The government had already determined the plaintiffs had nothing to do with the leaks reported on by the New York Times. And it used faulty affidavits to justify the corresponding raids.
In fact, the affidavit for the search warrants are themselves based upon an illegal, warrantless phone tap and refer to a conversation illegally intercepted between Plaintiff Roark and Plaintiff William Binney, although misrepresenting the call’s contents. Further, the ultimate pretext for the search, a paper describing THINTHREAD at a high level that Binney had given the FBI, was falsely claimed by NSA to be classified. Thus, the search warrant affidavit is not only false but illegal.
The lawsuit also attempts to use the breadth and reach of known surveillance programs as proof the government knew the whistleblowers had nothing to do with the NYT leak.
Moreover, as later revealed by Edward Snowden, the NSA was even then, with the assistance of cooperating telephone and telecommunications companies, conducting mass interception and surveillance of all telephone calls within the domestic United States for the very purpose – at least so they claimed – of detecting both external and internal threats against the national security of the United States.

Therefore, through those phone and internet records, the Defendants had actual evidence at the time of the false affidavit and retaliatory searches and seizures that none of the Plaintiffs had communicated with the The New York Times or other journalists, except that Plaintiff Drake on his own had spoken confidentially with regard to public and /or unclassified information to the Baltimore Sun.
The end result of the FBI, NSA and DOJ's actions in response to whistleblowing (largely performed through proper channels) is a host of alleged civil liberties violations and other abuses, starting with the violation of 1998's Whistleblower Protection Act. From there, the whistleblowers allege violations of their First, Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights, along with malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional distress and abuse of process.

It will be interesting to see where this goes. The government likely won't be able to dismiss the suit quickly, but the plaintiffs are going to run into a ton of immunity claims that will be buttressed by invocations of national security concerns. Their lawyer -- Larry Klayman -- has occasionally displayed his inability to distinguish between actionable claims and conspiracy theories, a tendency that doesn't improve the plaintiffs' chances of succeeding. But of all the outcomes I imagined for the stories of Drake, Binney, et al, taking these agencies on directly in federal court wasn't one of them.

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26 Aug 10:14

Gross Suppression Of Science …Former NOAA Meteorologist Says Employees “Were Cautioned Not To Talk About Natural Cycles”

by P Gosselin

Note: This has been updated to a sticky post (hence the dark background). New posts are below.

Former NOAA meteorologist David Dilley has submitted an essay below that has 2 parts: 1) How the government has been starving researchers who hold alternative opinions of funding, and 2) climate cycles show we are starting a cooling period.

Readers will recall that David Dilley is a 40-year meteorology veteran and the producer of the excellent video: “Is Climate Change Dangerous?“, which first was presented at NTZ. Since then the video has been viewed more than 10,000 times and the NTZ story shared in social media over 800 times.
==================================

DilleySuppressing the Truth – the Next Global Cooling Cycle

By David Dilley, former NOAA meteorologist

For over 15 years an inordinate proportion of government and corporate research grants have been awarded to universities for a single specific purpose: to prove human activities and the burning of fossil fuels are the main driving mechanisms causing global warming.

Unfortunately agendas by strong arm politics and the suppression of contrary views have become the primary tools used to manipulate the media, local and state governments (and in turn the general public) into believing what they want us to believe.

Many former research department heads, such as Dr. Reid Bryson (known as the Father of Climatology), openly state that research grants are driven by politics, and in order to receive a government grant you have to play the game. Topics for grants go with the political wind.

In the mid 1990s government grants were typically advertised in such a way to indicate that conclusions should show a connection to human activity as the cause for anthropogenic global warming. The result: most of the research published in journals became one-sided and this became the primary information tool for media outlets.

According to some university researchers who were former heads of their departments, if a university even mentioned natural cycles, they were either denied future grants, or lost grants. And it is common knowledge that United States government employees within NOAA were cautioned not to talk about natural cycles. It is well known that most university research departments live or die via the grant system. What a great way to manipulate researchers in Europe, Australia and the United States.

Disinvited, views suppressed

Not only governments manipulate, but so do some universities in order to protect their grants. A perfect example happened in 2012 when I contacted the Eagle Hill Institute in Steuben Maine USA to see if they would be interested in a climate change lecture. It should be noted that the institute has very close ties with the University of Maine. So I indicted that my lecture would involve information on natural climate cycles, and they responded saying, “That is fine.” Then In May of 2013 they asked me to speak at their lecture series on June 29th – an invitation that I accepted. They even consequently advertised the event and posted it on their online calendar.

All seemed well as I prepared for the lecture. But then came the manipulation and suppression of views. Just four days prior to the lecture, three people from the University of Maine viewed our web site (www.globalweatheroscillations.com). The next morning, just 3 days prior to the June 29th lecture, I received an email from Eagle Hill stating that my “lecture is canceled due to a staffing shortage”. Upon checking their web site, the calendar did show my lecture as being canceled, but carried the notation that “we hope to have a different lecture on the 29th”.

So what happened with the staffing shortage? A news service called “The Maine Wire“ interviewed the President of Eagle Hill, and he said that the University of Maine “felt some people in the audience may be uncomfortable hearing Mr. Dilley’s lecture”.

What did they want to hide from the public?

The IPCC and most anthropogenic believers want to maintain the belief that global warming during the past 100 years has been caused by human activity alone, and this is why most of their climate talks and lectures do not even mention prior global warming cycles.

The politically driven United Nations IPCC and United States global warming ruse will likely end up being one of the greatest scandals of the 21st century. If left unchecked it will continue to lead the world down a dangerous path that could jeopardize the lives of millions of people. Many have been led to believe the earth is heading into catastrophic global warming. Is this a political ruse, and will it likely blindside governments within the next few years? When it comes to climate, history does repeat itself.

Cooling has already begun

Alternating global warming and cooling cycles have historically occurred and ended like clockwork every 220 to 230 years, with nearly 4000 cycles occurring during the past half million years. The last global cooling cycle began around 1795, or about 220 years ago. If the time clock strikes on time as it has over and over again throughout history, the upcoming cooling cycle has already begun in the Arctic and Antarctic, as shown in my video, “Is Climate Change Dangerous?

Dilley_1Earth has experienced 5 global cooling cycles during the past 1,000 years (soon to be 6). The initial 20 to 40 years of a new global cooling cycle are historically the coldest period, and associated with the most rapid cooling (see attached graphic). If a large volcanic eruption occurs during this period, large amounts of sulfur dioxide will be emitted into the atmosphere with the cooling cycle being exacerbated by sulfate aerosols floating in the upper atmosphere (www.cas.org/science-connections/volcano). The sulfate aerosols are highly reflective and can cool the earth for 1 to 3 years, with the end result being a year of no summer in some regions of the world.

Major volcanoes during cooling periods

Of the past 5 cooling cycles dating back to 900 AD, 4 were associated with strong volcanic eruptions during the initial 15 to 25 years of the cooling cycles. The volcanic explosive index (VEI) for these eruptions were between 5 and 7 on a VEI scale ranging from 1 to 8. The last occurrence was in 1815, when VEI 6 Tambora erupted. The combination of this massive volcanic eruption occurring some 15 to 20 years into the new global cooling cycle was instrumental in causing the year of no summer in 1816. During the next several years, nearly one third of Europe perished from famine, plague and civil unrest. Back then the earth had a population of 1 billion to feed; today there are 7 billion.

Similar cooling cycles and eruptions occurred in the year 1600 when VEI 6 Huaynaputina (Peru) occurred about 20 years into the new cooling cycle. In 1350 Rangitoto (New Zealand) about 25 years into a cooling cycle, and in the year 834 Eldgja (Iceland) a great VEI 6 eruption occurred about 25 years into the new cooling cycle. The current global warming cycle is now ending.

Shouldn’t governments around the world be preparing for a major event that is by far more dangerous than any warming cycle could possibly be?

26 Aug 20:54

Star Wars Scores 4-Week IMAX Monopoly

by Michael Martin

IMAX has scored a deal to screen only Star Wars: The Force Awakens on all of its North American and most of its European screens for four weeks when it opens this December.

According to Hollywood Reporter, this means any other films opening at that time won't be able to compete with the Disney release. "Warner Bros.' In the Heart of the Sea, set to open Dec. 11, will get only one week in Imax. Fox's The Revenant, set to go wide Jan. 8, might get a crack at Imax screens by the Jan. 15 weekend," claims THR.

The last time IMAX committed its screens to a movie for a month was for The Hobbit and its sequels. No other movie has had a similar deal since.

Continue reading…

26 Aug 20:55

Mr. Robot Season Finale Delayed Due to Virginia Shooting

by Eric Goldman

USA Network has announced they are delaying the season finale of Mr. Robot, which was set to air tonight. The finale will instead air a week from today, on Wednesday, September 2nd. USA explained that the shocking on-air murder of journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward in Virginia this morning was behind the decision.

Said the network, in a statement, "The previously filmed season finale of Mr. Robot contains a graphic scene similar in nature to today’s tragic events in Virginia. Out of respect to the victims, their families and colleagues, and our viewers, we are postponing tonight’s episode. Our thoughts go out to all those affected during this difficult time."

Christian Slater and Rami Malek in Mr. Robot. Christian Slater and Rami Malek in Mr. Robot.

Continue reading…

27 Aug 02:40

LG made a solid, roll-up keyboard for your tablet or giant smartphone

by Mat Smith
To the untrained eye, LG's new Bluetooth keyboard looks like a (very long) mobile battery, but that's because it's all bundled up. Unfurl the Rolly and you'll get a "full-size" keyboard that automatically switches on and connects to your nearest (LG?...
26 Aug 20:26

Facebook's entry into the virtual assistant space is called M, lives in Messenger

Roumen.ganeff

Not sure if creepy or genius

After Apple, Google, Microsoft, and a few other, smaller companies, Facebook is now jumping straight into the virtual assistant space. The social network's newly revealed competitor for the likes of Siri, Google Now, or Cortana is called M. It lives inside Facebook Messenger. M is for now getting a very limited release, with just a few hundred people in the San Francisco Bay Area being lucky enough to be able to use it. It will be quite a long time before every one of the 700 million monthly users of Facebook Messenger will get M as an option in the app, especially because of how M is said to pair AI with actual human input. That will be its biggest differentiating feature, Facebook thinks. On one level, M works like its competitors - you can ask it stuff, and it will answer. It can also plan things for you, but it's capable of pulling off stuff out there 'in real life' too. For example, it can complete certain tasks, from organizing dinner parties to "tracking down an unusual beverage in New Orleans", or redecorating your office or whatnot. It will even call your cable company and endure through the hold times and various automated messages you hear before you can actually speak to a customer rep. All of this is possible thanks to "M trainers", Facebook employees who will make sure that every request made to M is answered. You won't know whether what M outputs comes from its AI or from actual humans working behind the scenes, however. At the moment, M is only using the data in Messenger to base its answers and suggestions on, not the stuff in the main Facebook app. That may change in the future, though. Source | Via 1 • Via...

25 Aug 18:18

Kylo Ren Of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Was Inspired By Nazis ... Sorta

by Erin Whitney

"Who is that guy with the crossguard lightsaber?," "Star Wars" fans wondered when the first "Force Awakens" trailer debuted. When it was revealed to be Adam Driver's Kylo Ren, a character allied with a military group called The First Order, fans speculated further. Who is Kylo Ren? Is he a Sith? What is The First Order? 


Director J.J. Abrams clarified some details about his new "Episode VII" character in a recent interview with Empire magazine. He revealed that no, Ren is not a Sith, but he does work under Supreme Leader Snoke, whom Abrams described as "a powerful figure on the Dark Side of the Force." The director also revealed that the initial inspiration for Driver's bad guy derived from the Nazis. Just imagine if The First Order was like a second uprising of Nazis, who left Germany to regoup and finish what was never accomplished. Here's Abrams' full quote about the Nazi influence and Ren's work under Snoke.



That all came out of conversations about, what would have happened if the Nazis all went to Argentina but then started working together again? What could be born of that? Could The First Order exist as a group that actually admired The Empire? Could the work of The Empire be seen as unfulfilled? And could Vader be a martyr? Could there be a need to see through what didn’t get done?



In a sense, then, Ren is like a Nazi of another galaxy, only much worse. Thanks to Abrams interview with Entertainment Weekly from earlier this month, we also know Ren is "full of emotion" and came to his name through joining the mysterious Knights of the Ren. Could that group have Nazi inspirations as well? We'll have to wait to see just how evil Ren is when "The Force Awakens" hits theaters on Dec. 18.


For more, head to Empire.


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25 Aug 13:52

eSports gets its first major UK bookmaker

by Matt Brian
Ignore it all you like, but eSports is booming. There are now million-dollar payouts, doping scandals and even official ways to put money down on your favourite squad. While gambling on eSports is still a relatively new concept, it's just been give...
25 Aug 17:48

Stephen Hawking believes he knows how information escapes black holes

by Andrew Tarantola
Stephen Hawking announced during a lecture at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden on Tuesday that he has potentially solved the Information Paradox. The paradox a conflict between the quantum mechanics and general relativity...
26 Aug 07:11

Self-driving trucks to be used for highway construction in Florida

by Mariella Moon
Autonomous trucks will soon be used at highway construction sites in Florida, and unlike Daimler's big rig that still needs someone behind the wheel, these ones are completely driverless. The truck was developed by Pennsylvania company Royal Truck...
12 Aug 00:00

How Greece Can Rise from the Ashes: The Kiwi Plan

The signs of floundering entitlement democracies are everywhere these days — from poster child Greece to bankrupt Puerto Rico.

Runaway deficit spending, calamitous monetary policies, bloated public employee payrolls, incentive-killing welfare programs, confiscatory taxation, unfunded entitlements, dishonest government accounting, corporate cronyism, and job-killing regulations have mired most Western democracies in such a deep quagmire of voters’ own making that one despairs of finding a cure.

And yet, a cure has not only been found but has already been put into practice with great effect, offering practical lessons for any reformist who cares to look. New Zealand today stands as a beacon of freedom and prosperity, ranking number three in the Legatum Prosperity Index.

It wasn’t always so. In fact, few know the story of how that country transformed itself from a socialist basket case into one of the world’s most prosperous nations.

That story is updated and retold, with practical advice for activists, in my new monograph published by the Antigua Forum, New Zealand’s Far-Reaching Reforms: A Case Study on How to Save Democracy from Itself.

Two prime movers stand out, finance ministers from opposing political parties who made common cause to rescue the country they loved: Sir Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson. It was a privilege to interview these elder statesmen in depth, capturing their remembrances, recording their advice, and putting it all in the context of the voluminous legislation they championed together.

The story of how they defied their own party leaders and convinced voters to endorse a radical overhaul of New Zeala...

20 Aug 20:42

Drunk Driving Is Down in California (Thanks to Uber)

by Greg Ferenstein

There were only two drunk driving arrests last New Year’s Eve in San Francisco, the lowest it’s been since 2009, according to crime statistics from the San Francisco Police Department given to the Ferenstein Wire.

This recent data comes on the heels of a new study revealing that the introduction of Uber’s low-cost service, UberX, reduces drunk driving deaths all over California.

Temple University’s Brad Greenwood and Sunil Wattal put out a new paper which finds that (not surprisingly) cheap taxi-like options make it easier for people to make the decision to call for a ride, when drinking.

If the benefits of Uber in California were extended to the entire country, ridesharing would save billions of dollars and hundreds of lives. The study states that,

“Economically, results indicate that the entrance of UberX results in a 3.6 percent – 5.6 percent decrease in the rate of motor vehicle homicides per quarter in the state of California. With more than 13k deaths occurring nationally each year due to alcohol related car crashes at a cost of 37 billion dollars, results indicate that a complete implementation of UberX would create a public welfare net of over 1.3 billion to American taxpayers and save roughly 500 lives annually”

The overwhelming benefits of ridesharing apps makes it hard for local politicians to keep Uber out of their state or city with regulations.

Last month, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio faced backlash when he proposed the cap the number of ridesharing cars that could be on the road in NYC. Eventually, he conceded his plans, but it was after Uber put forth a massive public campaign with costly political operatives.

This latest evidence makes the case that Uber isn’t just a battle with local taxis, but a battle against drunk drivers.

Previous attempts at estimating the reduction of the number of drunk driving deaths due to Uber were fraught with controversy. When Uber teamed up with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) for a previous study, Uber ended up claiming that the conclusions of the research were much more convincing that MADD was willing to admit. There was just too much noise in the data.

This latest study uses more sophisticated statistical analysis and leverages a common economic trick to estimate the effects of Uber.

The decision to enter a market is often political. Uber will start hiring in a city if they know they won’t face overbearing regulation.

This decision is often unrelated to other reasons why there might be reductions in drunk-driving accidents, such as a “city’s population, bar scene, and tougher enforcement,” note the authors.

California is uniquely important in the study because the state has been part of UberX’s rollout since it first began in 2012. This means research can look at what happens when the Uber, or other rideshare companies, can saturate a city with enough of its drivers to change consumer behavior.

California is also large enough so that the economists can estimate the differences in how Uber affects cities within the same state as it slowly enters adjacent markets.

Today, Uber and Lyft drivers are all over San Francisco. As a resident, I can say that using ridesharing apps in the city has just become part of the culture.

Last New Year’s Eve in San Francisco, there were so many Uber and Lyft drivers on the road that users didn’t experience the dreaded “surge pricing”, which, in the past, have cost over 100 dollars for a short ride home.

There was little excuse for anyone to drive on New Year’s Eve with such a plethora of cheap alternatives.

Although the data on San Francisco DUI’s during New Year’s Eve makes it impossible to know if other factors helped cause the reduction in drunk driving, it does make the case that Uber was likely a significant, if not the primary, factor.

Evidently, Uber, Lyft, and other disruptive transportation services are not just saving people time and money, but are also saving lives.

The post Drunk Driving Is Down in California (Thanks to Uber) appeared first on The Daily Signal.

24 Aug 12:25

Experts Have Been Imagining Climate Change Since At Least 1871

by tonyheller
24 Aug 12:59

The Brink: Season 1 Finale Review

by Amber Dowling

Warning: full spoilers below.

Well, that was a crisis averted. For now, anyways. The Brink brought the impeding war with Pakistan and Israel full circle in Sunday night's finale, "There Will Be Consequences," with not as many actual consequences as one would have thought given the events leading up to the closing episode.

With Walter finally in control in the war room and the President in lockdown with his Neiman Marcus purchases, things were finally getting done in regards to taking down the rogue bomber. Zeke and Jammer had quite a drunken ride in their jet while Alex Talbot attempted to get inside the head of Zaman with bloody results. Of course, even with the bomber down, it only took seconds for Walter to figure out that there was a second bomber, forcing the fighter pilots to be "Batman" and take it down in another glorious plane crash.

Continue reading…

24 Aug 19:28

Vin Diesel Says xXx 3 Starts Filming in December

by Evan Campbell

Actor Vin Diesel has stated that xXx 3 will begin filming in December.

The Fast and the Furious star announced the production timetable on Instagram and even reminisced a bit about the original 2002 film. "While I was filming xXx, guys on set called me Air Diesel," he said.

Vin Diesel as Xander Cage in xXx Vin Diesel as Xander Cage in xXx

Continue reading…

24 Aug 19:33

Microsoft's prototype keyboard cover has an e-ink touchscreen

by Billy Steele
Tablets are becoming more useful for getting real work done. Looking to further bridge the gap between slate and laptop, Microsoft Applied Sciences built a prototype device it calls the DisplayCover: a keyboard cover that houses an e-ink touchscree...
24 Aug 17:27

CW Stars Tweet Their Congratulations To Stephen Amell On His SummerSlam Win

by Jessenika Colon
After months of feuding on social media with WWE Superstar Stardust aka Cody Rhodes, ARROW star Stephen Amell made his WWE debut last night at SummerSlam, joining up with Neville to take on his newest foe and his partner, King Barrett. Although Amell took a beating for most of the match, he demonstrated some impressive […]
24 Aug 17:00

Movie Week: The 15 best superhero films of all time

by Stephen Lambrechts
Movie Week: The 15 best superhero films of all time

The 15 best superhero films of all time

Best superheo movies

Here at techradar, we love our superhero movies. When you look over the evolution of the superhero genre, from the first major Hollywood superhero film, Superman, to the multiplex-dominating films of today like Avengers: Age of Ultron and the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, it's easy to see just how far comic book movies have come. Superhero movies are not only extremely popular, they're also some of the most technologically advanced movies of our generation.

In celebration of the genre, we've decided to list the best 15 superhero films of all time. We think these films encapsulate much of what the superhero genre has to offer, from the big budget blockbusters starring well-known characters to the small indie films which take the concept of superheroism and approach it with a unique outlook.

1. The Avengers

The Avengers

Seen by many as the culmination of the entire superhero movie genre, Marvel's The Avengers brought together several characters from their own franchises to create a team-based mega-franchise. While superhero team-ups have been happening in comic books for decades, The Avengers proved to be first real time that the notion would be properly realised on film, allowing audiences to buy into all of Marvel's movies as an overall cinematic universe. The Avengers went on to become the highest-grossing superhero film ever made, and the fourth highest-grossing film of all time overall, inspiring all of the other major film studios to start coming up with their own cinematic universes. Without The Avengers, we wouldn't have DC Universe movies like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Justice League and Suicide Squad to look forward to.

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOrNdBpGMv8

2. The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight

A major turning point for the genre, The Dark Knight saw the concept of a superhero film grow up significantly, with director Christopher Nolan approaching the material like a genuine crime film in the vein of Michael Mann. Gone were the days of cartoonish villains in a fantastical setting – Gotham City finally felt like a real place that was being held under a veil of terror by a genuinely frightening psychopath. Which brings us to Heath Ledger's Oscar-winning performance (yes, this is a superhero movie that received an Academy Award for acting) as The Joker. Easily one of the most memorable performances of the last decade from any movie, the character instantly became one of the greatest villains in cinema history, cementing Ledger's legacy after his untimely death shortly after completing his work on the film. Jared Leto sure has some big shoes to fill when he takes up the role in the upcoming film, Suicide Squad.

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXeTwQWrcwY

3. Iron Man

Iron Man

It's hard to believe now, but the prospect of an Iron Man movie was initially considered to be far from a sure thing. Iron Man had been unable to get off the ground in Hollywood for a long time, with Tom Cruise at one point attached to play Tony Stark in what would have been a very different take on the character. It would eventually take comedic actor/director Jon Favreau to bring Iron Man to cinematic life, with a fresh and unique approach that would see Tony Stark become the charming and hilarious lothario we know and love today. We can also thank Favreau for the inspired decision to cast Robert Downey Jr, an actor once considered to be box office poison, in the role of a lifetime. Iron Man was an enormous success, officially kicking off the Marvel Cinematic Universe and cementing Downey Jr as one of the highest paid actors of all time. The rest is history.

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hYlB38asDY

4. Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy

Leave it to Marvel Studios to take Guardians of the Galaxy, which is one of its most obscure superhero properties, and spin it into box office gold. Director James Gunn infused this space opera with a colorful, punk-rock attitude, making audiences totally buy into (and eventually love) a superhero team consisting of a talking raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and a monosyllabic tree-person (voiced by Vin Diesel). But of all the film's casting choices, it would be Chris Pratt (most famous for his role as the endearing nitwit Andy in Parks and Recreation) that would prove to be the film's biggest asset. Pratt brought an infectious sense of swagger and likeability to the character of Peter Quill (a.k.a Star Lord) that made him an instant star, landing him the lead role in the colossal hit Jurassic World.

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d96cjJhvlMA

5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America The Winter Soldier

In the same year that brought us Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel Studios also redefined what a superhero movie could be with Captain America: The Winter Soldier. This sequel could not be further from its WWII-set predecessor, placing Captain America (Chris Evans) in a modern day setting, entangled in a paranoid spy-thriller plot that would see him re-evaluate his allegiances to S.H.I.E.L.D. and go head-to-head against an old friend. Marvel Studios was clearly pleased with how the film turned out, handing its directors the Russo brothers the keys to its enormous-sounding sequel, Captain America: Civil War, as well as the next two Avengers films.

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SlILk2WMTI

6. Batman Begins

Batman Begins

The importance of Batman Begins cannot be understated, as it is the bat-film that put director Christopher Nolan on the path of creating one of the genre's greatest achievements, The Dark Knight. Nolan did the unthinkable – he rescued Batman from rubber nipple oblivion. A more serious, adult approach, coupled with a great leading man choice in Christian Bale, helped re-establish Batman as the coolest superhero of all time.

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=neY2xVmOfUM

7. Spider-Man 2

Spider-Man 2

One of the greatest superhero movie sequels ever made, Spider-Man 2 took everything audiences loved about the first Spider-Man movie and amped it all up significantly. Director Sam Raimi dialed up his trademark zany energy and delivered a follow-up with more drama, bigger stakes, and incredible action. Spidey's battle with Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina) atop a New York subway train showed us how huge and awesome a superhero battle can be, topping anything that occurred in the original film. Easily superior to either of the films from the already abandoned reboot series, Spider-Man 2 is a true classic of the genre.

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enmFqm_N_ZE

8. The Incredibles

The Incredibles

Pixar's only superhero film to date (a sequel is on the way), The Incredibles is a fantastic movie that makes us wish there were more computer animated entries in the genre (Big Hero 6 is also wonderful). Directed by Brad Bird (who would go on to make Ratatouille and Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol), this breezy flick features a loveable family of super-powered people who are struggling to keep up appearances as a normal family, while keeping their powers under wraps. Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) is drawn back to his superheroing ways, eventually dragging his whole family back with him. Feeling like James Bond meets Fantastic Four, The Incredibles is... well, incredible.

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYYt3nOrSkY

9. Super

Super

Before he made Guardians of the Galaxy, director James Gunn made the low-budget indie superhero flick, Super. Playing like a darkly funny comic book take on Taxi Driver, Super is about a sad sack loser (played by Rainn Wilson) who turns to crime-fighting after his wife (played by Liv Tyler) leaves him for a total scumbag (played by Kevin Bacon). He develops a superhero persona known as the Crimson Bolt, who runs around violently cracking criminals (and jerks in general) on the head with a pipe wrench while yelling his catchphrase, "Shut up, crime!" Similar in theme to the film Kick-Ass (only way darker), Super is recommended viewing for anyone who loves superhero films.

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLj_Bzw8n90

10. Unbreakable

Unbreakable

Possibly M. Night Shyamalan's best film, Unbreakable sees David Dunn (Bruce Willis) slowly come to the realisation that he was born to be an invincible superhero. After coming away from an enormous train derailment as the sole survivor (with nary a scratch on him), David is contacted out of the blue by comic book aficionado Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), whose wild theory about David and his powers sets him on a path of discovery. Expertly crafted with a cracker of an ending, Unbreakable is the kind of superhero movie we want to see more of.

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YfkoFvARU6E

11. Kick-Ass

Kick-Ass

Kick-Ass is a superhero film that asks the following question: what would it actually be like to dress up in a costume and fight crime? That's exactly what high school kid Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) attempts to do – only to get stabbed on his first attempt. Okay, so maybe he'll need a bit of help from Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and his pint-sized, potty-mouthed daughter, Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) – a pair of bad-ass vigilante killers on a quest to rid the city of its mob infestation. Hilariously profane and wickedly violent, Kick-Ass really does kick ass.

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YqLOoxsMwc

12. Watchmen

Watchmen

Long thought to be impossible to adapt for the screen, Alan Moore's classic superhero graphic novel Watchmen has nevertheless inspired its share of attempts by many different directors, including Terry Gilliam and Paul Greengrass. However, it was Zack Snyder, fresh from his successful adaptation of Frank Miller's 300 comic book, who would eventually get the movie made. While his adaptation is seen by many as a surface-level reading of Moore's groundbreaking book, it is perhaps the best live-action version of Watchmen we could have hoped for, outside of a television miniseries. Its powerful imagery and terrific performances make it a one-of-a-kind superhero movie experience worth savouring. Oh, and it has the best opening credits of any comic book film we can think of.

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUjMO_k9IF8

13. X-Men 2

X-Men 2

Director Bryan Singer is arguably responsible for bringing superhero films back into fashion with the first X-Men movie, so you can imagine how much pressure was on him to not screw up its sequel. Thankfully, X-Men 2 wiped the floor with its already excellent predecessor, greatly expanding its scope, drama and action. The film's opening sequence, which features a mind-controlled Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming) teleporting around the Oval Office and attacking the President of the United States is a particular highlight. Too bad its sequel, X-Men: The Last Stand, sucked royally.

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xF9FW5_yDxs

14. Superman

Superman

It's the superhero movie that started it all – Richard Donner's Superman made audiences believe that a man could fly. The late Christopher Reeve was perfectly cast as the man of steel, effortlessly convincing as both Clark Kent and Kal-El. Featuring memorable performances by Marlon Brando as Superman's dad, Jor-El, Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor and Margot Kidder as Lois Lane, Superman was a tremendous success, spawning three sequels and paving the way for Hollywood's current obsession with superhero movies.

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grO4OcJ6cgY

15. Batman

Batman

Tim Burton took the world by storm with his hugely successful Batman film, which was the first film adaptation of the character since the swinging sixties era of Adam West. Back in 1989, the film acted as a revitalisation of a flagging genre, rescuing superhero movies from the stagnation caused by the abysmal Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, made only two years before. Burton applied his trademark dark and twisted visuals to the property, changing the way people view Batman forever (no, not the Val Kilmer movie), while Jack Nicholson's scary take on The Joker made an entire generation of children afraid of hand buzzers and chattering teeth.

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgC9Q0uhX70
  • TechRadar's Movie Week is our celebration of the art of cinema, and the technology that makes it all possible.









24 Aug 01:00

Movie Week: A brief history of film

by Nick Broughall
Movie Week: A brief history of film

1. The history of film

History of Film

Back in the late 1800s, entertainment on a Friday night was noticeably lower tech than today. But that wasn't so much an obstacle as it was an opportunity, which saw the birth of the cinematic art form.

Over the 120 years or so since those first attempts at creating moving pictures using consecutive still images, films have come a long way, both in terms of storytelling and in terms of technical achievement.

So as TechRadar kicks off its inaugural Movie Week, celebrating the majesty of films, it's appropriate to dive into the history books to see just how we got to the point where we can travel to galaxies far, far away or ride motorbikes with velociraptors.

Image: Flickr

2. Technology vs narrative

History of film

The truth is, finding the exact birth of what we consider to be cinema is a rather challenging task. Back in the late 19th century, inventors across the world were all racing to be the first to create not only the hardware to record and display a film, but also the films themselves.

While there is evidence that much of the technology to create moving pictures had been invented as far back as 1888, for many people it was a pair of French brothers named Antoine and Louis Lumiere who gets the credit for the birth of the cinema in 1895.

Lumiere, like a 19th Century Steve Jobs, managed to pick up on an expired patent for a device called the Cinématographe, which they improved to turn into a device that acted as a camera, film processing unit and projector all in one.

In the same year, the brothers created their first film, La Sortie de l'usine Lumière à Lyon (or Workers leaving the Lumiere factory in Lyon, if your French isn't up to snuff), a 46 second documentary about – you guessed it – workers leaving the Lumiere factory in Lyon.

Image: WIkimedia Commons

3. Edit this

History of film

But really, film is about so much more than just a static camera pointed at something happening. Arguably, what makes modern filmmaking possible is the editing of multiple shots into a single film in order to create a narrative.

And the first examples of that started cropping up back in 1900. In the short film Grandma's Reading Glass by George Albert Smith, a series of close ups of items are intercut with footage of a young boy looking through his grandmother's reading glass.

This is the first real example of films using different cuts to help tell a story, something that we now take for granted in modern cinema.

YouTube : youtubeurlv=6ho05y9IMr4

4. The first feature film

History of film

For the first decade or so of movie making, creators generally focussed on short films that ran on a single reel.

The first example of the standard feature film that we've come to know and love today can be traced back to 1906, when a young Australian man named Charles Tait created The Story of the Kelly Gang, a film about notorious Australian bushranger Ned Kelly.

The film lasted well over an hour, and was both a critical and commercial success for the time. It's also one of the movies about Ned Kelly that don't star Mick Jagger or Yahoo Serious, so that's got to give it some bonus points, doesn't it?

YouTube : youtubeurlv=oYGdLcFJm6k

5. The talkies

History of film

While the early movie scene was all about black and white moving images on the screen, the technology for pairing it with synchronised audio came much later. Early films were generally accompanied by a live musical performance, with occasional commentary from a showman.

But that all changed with 1927's The Jazz Singer. While previous films had tried to accompany the film with a proper soundtrack, The Jazz Singer is widely regarded as the first film to combine a synchronised audio track, despite being mostly silent.

But what the film did do is change cinema forever. By 1929, almost every Hollywood film released was considered a "talkie", replacing the live musical backing with a synchronised audio track of dialogue, sound effects and music.

YouTube : youtubeurlv=LkUKloVCzcM

6. Colored in

History of film

It's a little bit surprising to know that color came to films in the first few years of the 20th century. These earliest colorized films were colored by hand, which meant that the majority of prints were still in black and white. In 1903, the French film La Vie et Passion du Jesus Christ used a process to add some color to its film, but leaves a monochrome appearance.

In 1912, a UK documentary dubbed With our King and Queen through India was the first example of a film that captured natural colour instead of using colorization techniques.

But ultimately it was the 1930s before color films became the norm, as Technicolor released what it called Process 4, which combined a negative for each primary colour and a matrix for better contrast.

The first feature to use this colorful process was a Walt Disney animation called Flowers and Trees in 1932.

YouTube : youtubeurlv=CWEzHE7wn7U

In 1934, The Cat and the Fiddle featured the first live-action sequence using the Technicolor Process 4 technique.

YouTube : youtubeurlv=tQB1WJZpKL0

After that, color quickly became the norm for Hollywood, starting with Becky May, the first movie to use Process 4 for the entire feature.

YouTube : youtubeurlv=fcrfnyFU3y0

And since then, color has been all the rage – minus some artistic black and white films (like Kevin Smith's Clerks) of course.

7. Fantasound

History of film

The man behind Mickey Mouse did so much more than just simple animation. Walt Disney is also credited with being one of the founders of modern day surround sound.

Back in the 1940s when he was working on Fantasia, Walt wanted to somehow get the sound of a bumblebee flying around the audience during the "Flight of the Bumblebee" section of the film.

Disney spoke with the engineers at Bell labs, who took to the challenge like bees to honey and created what is known as "Fantasound".

But while Fantasound was one of the first examples of surround sound, it was also prohibitively expensive, costing $US85,000 to install. As such, only two theatres in the US had it installed, which is probably why you've never really heard of Fantasound before.

Of course, surround sound has come a long way since then, which we'll get to shortly...

8. Cinemascope

History of film

By the time the 1950s came around, movie studios were starting to turn to technology to try and bolster dropping cinema tickets sales caused by the arrival of television.

The first of these technologies to launch was called Cinemascope, launched by 20th Century Fox, which made its debut with 1953's release of The Robe.

YouTube : youtubeurlv=3lrZM4gE6GQ

Essentially a refinement on a 1926 idea, Cinemascope used anamorphic lenses to create a much wider – and subsequently larger – image. The aspect ratio of Cinemascope films was 2.66:1, compared to the 1.37:1 ratio standard of the time.

While Cinemascope was largely made redundant by newer technologies the aspect ratios it created are still roughly the standard we see on films today.

9. Cinerama

History of film

At the same time as Cinemascope was starting to take a hold of Hollywood, another technology was offering the widescreen format in a different way.

Instead of relying on anamorphic lenses, Cinerama required cinemas to feature three synchronized 35 mm projectors, projected onto a deeply curved screen.

The end result was a picture running at about a 2.65:1 aspect ratio, but one that had some obvious challenges, especially where the projectors overlap.

By the 1960s, the rising costs associated with filming on three cameras simultaneously led to the technology being tweaked to record using a single widescreen Panavision camera lens, which was then displayed using the three cameras.

Cinerama also brought with it one of the first instances of magnetic multitrack surround sound. Seven tracks of audio (five front, two surround) were synced with the footage, with a sound engineer directing the surround channels of audio as necessary during playback.

Today, there are still a limited number of Cinerama theatres scattered around the world, offering the full experience, if you're wondering what all the rage was back in the 1950s.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

10. VistaVision

History of film

Hey! If everyone else was going to experiment with widescreen cinema technologies, then there was no way Paramount Pictures was going to be left behind.

VistaVision was Paramount's answer to Cinemascope and Cinerama. Instead of using multiple cameras or anamorphic lenses, VistaVision ran 35mm film horizontally through the camera gate to shoot on a larger area.

The obvious benefit of this approach was that it didn't require cinemas to get all new equipment. With the competing technologies though, VistaVision films were all shot in a way that they could be displayed at a variety of aspect ratios.

Launching with White Christmas in 1954 and used in a number of Alfred Hitchcock films over the 1950s, ultimately VistaVision was made obsolete by the arrival of improved film stock, and the rise of cheaper anamorphic systems.

11. 3D

History of film

If you think the rise (and fall) of 3D cinema started with Avatar, then you're mistaken. 3D actually goes back to the very beginnings of cinema history, with a patent filed in the late 1890s, with two films screened side by side and made 3D through the use of a stereoscope. It wasn't very practical, and so ultimately failed to take off.

But that didn't stop people trying, all through the early decades of cinema, 3D was tried using many of the technologies we still see today. In 1922, a film called The Power of Love was shown using anaglyph glasses (the red and blue ones).

But it was in the 1950s that 3D had its first real wave of success. Led by the release of Bwana Devil in 1952, the first color stereoscopic 3D film, and with releases across most of the major film studios, 3D took cinema by storm.

For a couple of years, anyway. While 3D films continued to be produced throughout the 50s and 60s, competing technologies like Cinemascope, coupled with the rise of television and the expense of having to run two projectors simultaneously for 3D meant the format never really took off.

YouTube : youtubeurlv=Qa8wiw9z6cU

Of course, more recently the technology has seen a resurgence, largely thanks to James Cameron's Avatar. Opinions are pretty divided on the technology, but it is definitely seen as a drawcard for the more recent trend for blockbuster releases.

12. IMAX

History of film

In an attempt to show that bigger is better, back in 1970 a Canadian company showcased the very first IMAX film, Tiger Child, at Expo 70 in Osaka. Using a special camera that supports a larger film format, IMAX films offer a significantly higher resolution than that of standard film counterparts.

With dedicated IMAX cinemas launching from 1971, the increased resolution means viewers can typically sit closer to the screen. Typical IMAX theatres have screens 22 metres wide and 16 metres high, although they can be larger – in Sydney Australia, the world's largest IMAX screen measures 35.7 metres wide and 29.7 metres high. It's pretty awesome.

While many of the films shown on an IMAX screen are either documentaries or upscaled versions of 35mm films, there has been a growing tendency for filmmakers to shoot parts of their Hollywood blockbusters using IMAX cameras.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

13. Dolby sound

History of film

While it's natural to associate the history of film with the visual spectacle, it's important to remember the importance of sound.

And while we've already seen that surround sound made its way into cinemas as far back as the 1940s, it was during the 1970s that a company called Dolby Labs began having a very significant impact on cinema sound.

From the release of A Clockwork Orange – which used Dolby noise reduction on all pre-mixes and masters – Dolby has fundamentally changed the way we hear our movies.

In 1975, Dolby introduced Dolby Stereo, which was followed by the launch of Dolby Surround (which itself became Dolby Pro Logic) which took the technology into the home.

With the release of 1992's Batman Returns, Dolby Digital introduced cinemas to digital surround sound compression, which was reworked as the Dolby AC-3 standard for home setups.

While there are other film audio technologies out there, Dolby has no doubt led the way, and become the international standard for surround sound, both in the cinema and the home.

14. DTS

History of film

Four years after Dolby started work on Dolby Digital, another company came along to try and revolutionise cinema sound.

Initially supported by blockbuster director Steven Spielberg, DTS made its cinema debut in 1993 with the release of Jurassic Park, roughly 12 months after Dolby Digital's launch.

Jurassic Park also saw the format's debut in a home cinema environment' with the film's laserdisc release offering the technology.

Nowadays, there's an abundance of DTS codecs available, for both cinema and home theatre releases.

15. THX

History of film

Oh, George Lucas, we can't stay mad at you. Sure, you absolutely ruined our childhood memories with your Star Wars prequels and your Crystal Skulls, but we can't forget that your legacy extends beyond mere Star Wars and Indiana Jones Credits.

You were also instrumental in the creation of the THX certification for audio. While THX is often confused as an alternative codec system for audio to the likes of Dolby Digital, the truth is that THX is more of a quality assurance certification. With it, viewers could rest assured that the sound they were experiencing was what the sound engineers who created the film wanted them to.

So while the fundamental credit for THX actually goes to Tomlinson Holman, the fact Lucas introduced the standard to accompany the release of Return of the Jedi means that we can be a little less angry at him for Jar Jar Binks.

16. CGI

History of film

While people were playing around with computer graphics on screens as far back as the 1960s and 70s, with examples like Westworld showing a graphical representation of the real world, things really started taking off with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

YouTube : youtubeurlv=Qe9qSLYK5q4

In the film, the Genesis Effect sequence is entirely computer generated, a first for cinema.

Again, we can partially thank George Lucas for this trend, as the effects were created by his company, Industrial Light and Magic. From here, the trend for incorporating CGI elements into cinema cascades, with hundreds of developments over hundreds of films.

Notable examples include Toy Story as the first CGI animated feature, Terminator 2 for the T-1000's morphing features and The Matrix with its bullet time sequences.

Oh, and the Star Wars prequels for the extensive use of CG support characters and backgrounds, Avatar for mo-capped virtual characters and The Lord of the Rings trilogy for introducing AI software for digital characters.

CGI has completely changed filmmaking, and it continues to get better.

17. Digital cinematography

History of film

We take it for granted with our iPhones and digital cameras these days, but the truth is that recording digital video is a relatively recent phenomenon. In fact, while Sony tested the waters in the 1980s and 90s, it again fell to perpetual pioneer George Lucas to take the technology mainstream.

With (groan) The Phantom Menace, Lucas may have ruined Star Wars, but he also managed to revolutionise filmmaking by including footage shot on digital cameras. The film also saw the arrival of digital projectors in theatres around the world.

By late 2013, Paramount had moved entirely to digital distribution of its films, eliminating 35mm film from its lineup entirely.

That said, film isn't going away – even Star Wars Episode VII director JJ Abrams professes his love for shooting on film, while Quentin Tarantino has confirmed that he is shooting his latest film, The Hateful Eight, in 70mm film specifically to avoid digital projection. But despite these setbacks, the trend to move to digital is continuing to grow.

18. High Frame rate

History of film

While film has matured a lot over the past 100 years or so, it's interesting that the framerate of 24 frames per second has stayed fairly constant throughout.

While early cinema experimented with framerate, ever since 24 frames per second was adopted as the standard, it has largely been left alone.

That is, right up until an excitable filmmaker named Peter Jackson decided to film his return to Middle Earth – 2012's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – at the high frame rate of 48 frames per second.

The technology wasn't universally loved – criticisms included the loss of the "cinematic" feel of the movies, as well as resulting in a sharper image that feels more like a video game than a film.

But with James Cameron planning to film his Avatar sequels at 48 frames per second, the technology isn't going away.

19. Atmos

History of film

As we've already discovered, Dolby has a long history of revolutionising cinema audio. In 2012, the company did it again with the launch of Dolby Atmos.

Atmos enables 128 channels of synchronised audio and metadata associated with the panning image to create the most lifelike surround sound solution to date.

What makes Atmos truly magnificent is that it renders the sound based on the metadata in real time using whatever speaker system is in place, rather than having a sound engineer dictate which sounds are playing through which speaker.

The technology, while originally destined for cinema use, has also made its way to home theatres, with compatible AV receivers that is.

20. The future

History of film

With technology developing at an exponential rate, the future of film is sure to be an exciting one.

Already, with the arrival of VR devices like the Oculus Rift, filmmakers are beginning to dabble in 360 degree filmmaking.

Others are experimenting with interactive cinema, turning film into a choose-your-own-adventure type experience.

One thing's for certain: Movie making has come a long way in a relatively short period of time, and it's undoubtedly going to advance even faster as we roll deeper into the 21st Century.

  • TechRadar's Movie Week is our celebration of the art of cinema, and the technology that makes it all possible.









24 Aug 09:00

Movie Week: The evolution of the Batmobile

by Rob Edwards
Movie Week: The evolution of the Batmobile

Evolution of the Batmobile

Evolution of the Batmobile

Bat-finned, black, and powered by a single jet engine, the Batmobile is the most iconic vehicle ever to grace our screens. But despite its unique styling, the Dark Knight's ride has seen a utility belt's worth of variations over the years. What started as little more than a standard Cadillac convertible has transformed into a formidable tank, packing a billionaire's ransom in gadgets and firepower.

With every version boasting a unique array of weapons, functions, and impracticalities, we're analysing the evolution of Batman's wheels, from its first cinematic appearance back in 1943 to the Batfleck-mobile, set to make its debut in next year's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

The Batman (1943)

Batmobile 1943

Batman's first cinematic outing wasn't exactly a big budget affair. Sadly, what limited funding there was couldn't stretch far enough to include the really important things, like bat-wing detailing and an afterburner for the Caped Crusader's wheels.

Instead, Bats stalked the streets of Gotham in a 1939 Cadillac convertible with the roof up, while Bruce Wayne could be seen cruising around in an identical 1939 Cadillac convertible with the roof down. Coincidence?

Fortunately Batman's smarts in relation to protecting his secret identity improved dramatically in later cinematic incarnations.

Batman and Robin (1949)

Batmobile 1949

Ticking even less of the boxes required to pass for a decent Batmobile, Batman's ride from this 1949 serial wasn't even black.

A maroon Mercury convertible, Bats took the same lacklustre approach to protecting his secret identity this time around, simply dropping the top after returning from a night of crime fighting – as far as we can tell he didn't even go to the trouble of masking his licence plates.

While the Mercury was certainly a powerful car, its considerable weight meant cornering was a problem. As a result, the "Batmobile" was frequently wrecked, and the production made its way through six of them by the time shooting was completed.

Batman: The Movie (1966)

Batmobile 1966

Now this is more like it. Arguably the first proper Batmobile, the 1966 incarnation is instantly recognisable, and for many it remains unsurpassed in terms of sheer cool.

Built around a rejected 1955 Lincoln Futura prototype, the car that raced onto screens with Adam West behind the wheel was so perfectly realised – bubble canopies, long fins, and an added afterburner – you'd be forgiven for thinking it was custom-built from the ground up.

Throughout the movie – and the TV series that followed – the Batmobile demonstrated an impressive arsenal of bat-gadgets, including a chain slicer built into the nose, an array of lasers and rockets, and a dashboard monitor and rear camera that were way ahead of their time. It also featured a telephone with the compulsory bat-motif styling, although that made it look unnecessarily awkward to hold.

The car's atomic turbine engine (actually a Ford V8) and afterburner made sure acceleration was always a big event, and a pair of rear-mounted parachutes helped the car perform a 180-degree spin whenever a villain took an unexpected turn.

Batman (1989)

Batmobile 89

If you thought Ben Affleck's recent casting as everyone's favourite vigilante was controversial, clearly you don't remember the public's response to the news that funnyman Michael Keaton would be donning the cape and cowl for Tim Burton's bat-movie.

All that changed when the film's first trailer was released, revealing a dark tone, foreboding Gotham City, and the most kick-ass Batmobile anyone had ever seen.

Long and sleek with a pair of bat fins at the rear, this was a new breed of Batmobile: intimidating, powerful, and black from tip to tail.

Keaton's ride was crammed with gadgets and weapons, many of which were deadly – much to the chagrin of Batman purists everywhere. Twin machine guns popped out of the bonnet, the hubcaps contained grenades powerful enough to destroy the Joker's entire Smilex factory, and a system of shutters encased the car in a cocoon of protective armour while the world brooding champion was off prowling rooftops.

The car could also navigate streets autonomously, use a grappling hook to perform particularly tight turns, and we're sure it had a killer sound system worthy of Danny Elfman's score, too.

Batman Returns (1992)

Batman Returns Batmobile

When the world's most maladjusted billionaire returned, his car came, too, packing some impressive new tricks.

As we're sure Alfred heard Batman complain many a time, the trouble with driving a vehicle as big as the Batmobile is that its turning circle is rubbish – a Fiat 500 it ain't. Batman solved this problem with a clever new piece of tech.

The installation of a retractable rotating platform in the base of the car enabled Batman to get out of any tight corner or dead end without making a 1,000-point turn. Activating the platform saw the Batmobile lift off the ground and turn on the spot. Handy for Bats, but unfortunate for any goon suddenly face-to-face with the Batmobile's fiery exhaust.

Batman Returns also introduced a trick that would later be adopted in Christopher Nolan's films: an ejectable escape vehicle. Called the Batmissile, it required the Batmobile to jettison panels and parts that don't make up the central fuselage. The wheels then shifted into place in a single file, creating a narrower, more rocket-like form.

Sadly, while it certainly helped ol' pointy ears to evade the police, it also made it harder for Mr Money Can't Buy Happiness to deny he was compensating for something.

Batman Forever (1995)

Batman Forever

After two gothic outings with Tim Burton at the helm, incoming director Joel Schumacher clearly felt that the world of Batman – and the Batmobile in particular – had been missing a key ingredient: neon.

With a more organic design reminiscent of something H.R. Giger might concoct, the new Batmobile was certainly visually impressive. Glowing neon blue at its core, the car was encased in a black ribcage-like structure. Naturally, the new look didn't get in the way of some impressively improbable tech.

Prior to its untimely demise at the hands of the Riddler, Batman Forever's Batmobile had shown off a new technique for avoiding incoming RPG fire. Locking its wheels perpendicular to the chassis, the Batmobile was able to strafe out of the way of incoming projectiles – much like the Arkham Knight incarnation – leaving pursuing gang members to deal with the rocket's explosive repercussions.

More impressively, the Schumacher-mobile was able to drive up the side of buildings. Rolling back on its rear wheels while still in motion, the car fired grappling cables onto nearby buildings, which it would then use to support itself as it continued to drive at full speed, except, y'know, vertically.

Batman & Robin (1997)

Batman and Robin Batmobile

The Batmobile was arguably the only halfway decent thing about the film that almost killed the Batman franchise.

Making the neon-tinged Batman Forever incarnation appear positively subtle, Joel Schumacher's second stab had a nose that looked like a hurricane made of Christmas lights. Fiery orange side panels appeared to house a raging inferno, while a neon Batman logo sat behind the driver's head just in case the giant wings bringing up the rear weren't a dead giveaway as to whose car it was.

A single-seat affair this time around – keeping Chris O'Donnell's excruciatingly whiny Robin trailing on his motorbike – the car had a distinctly retro shape, taking inspiration from vintage racers like the Jaguar D Type and Delahaye 165.

Fewer Batmobile gadgets were utilised during Batman & Robin's runtime. The cockpit featured a two-way video call function – keep your eyes on the road, Bats – and Batman could also kill the engine of Robin's motorbike with the flick of a switch – cueing yet another bout of self-indulgent sulking from the Boy Wonder.

Batman Begins (2005)

Batman Begins Tumbler

And now for something completely different...

When Christopher Nolan rebooted the Batman franchise in 2005, there was a conspicuous absence of neon and bat-related detailing. What we got instead was a tank. A 9 by 15-foot tank with an afterburner bringing up the rear. This entry took Batman's wheels to a whole new level.

Called the Tumbler (no one in the movie ever referred to it as the Batmobile), the car was designed by Wayne Enterprises as a military bridging vehicle that used its jet engine to launch over rivers with cables in tow – a function later employed to launch the car across rooftops.

In reality, the Tumbler was built by movie car engineers Chris Corbould and Andy Smith, who aimed to make it as practical as possible. Weighing in at 2.5 tons and powered by a 500hp Chevy 350 V8, the batty behemoth boasted four 44-inch Super Swamper tires and could hit speeds up to 177km/h. It could also make the dash from zero to 100km/h in under six seconds, which is impressive given its size and weight.

There was no room for cheesy gadgets this time around, but the Tumbler's new "attack" mode was quite nifty. It saw the driver's seat shift from the left side of the car to the centre, repositioning the gravel-voiced guardian in a face-down position between the front wheels.

Lying prone protected Batman with more armour plating during a firefight, and reduced the forces placed on him (or whichever stuntman was behind the wheel at the time) during extreme manoeuvres. It also helped with aiming the guns mounted at the front of the vehicle – always non-lethally, of course.

The Dark Knight (2008)

The Dark Knight Batpod

The Tumbler remained unchanged for its second outing, but Batman had clearly put the car through its paces since Batman Begins, and demonstrated a firmer grasp of exactly what it was capable of.

Operating the car remotely, everyone's favourite bad-guy batterer was now able to navigate the Tumbler and fire its weapons, distracting his opponents. Using pre-programmed routines such as "loiter" and "intimidate", he could appear as if he was behind the wheel, giving him an opening to move unseen to a more favourable vantage point.

Unfortunately, the heavily-armoured ride met its match in the form of a Joker-fired RPG, which sent the Tumbler, er, tumbling end-over-end through brick-walls and barricades. But just when it looked like it was all over for the Bat-tank and its pointy-eared occupant, shifting plates on the front of the vehicle suddenly burst open, as Batman shot from the wreckage atop the Batpod.

Like Batman Returns' Batmissile, the Batpod provided Mr My Parents Are Dead with a means of escape from a doomed Batmobile, and it continued as his primary form of transport for the remainder of the film. More than a mere bike, the Batpod packed machine guns, cannons, and grappling hooks, and its wheels could spin sideways, resulting in an impressive level of manoeuvrability.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Batman v Superman Batmobile

While we're yet to see Batfleck's wheels in action, they look as if someone welded pieces of the Tumbler onto the frame of Burton's '89 edition.

With looks only a black-obsessed vigilante could love, we wouldn't describe this as the most attractive ride Batman's ever had. But when you're going up against the Man of Steel, it's fair to say that a car with clean lines isn't going to be a priority.

Anyone who's seen the movie's trailer will know that the new Batmobile's canopy isn't Superman-proof, but hopefully we'll get to see what it's capable of before Kal-El turns it into a tin can.

  • TechRadar's Movie Week is our celebration of the art of cinema, and the technology that makes it all possible.









23 Aug 19:35

Boston Police arrest two armed suspects as they enter Pokemon World Championships

by Ozzie Mejia

The Pokemon World Championships in Boston were held this weekend, but the fun and festivities were very nearly halted in a tragic manner. Two suspects from Iowa had threatened to rain down violence on the event and had brought several guns from their home state of Iowa. Boston police caught wind of the plot and were able to stop the two men on Friday night, days before they attempted to enter the Hynes Convention Center.

Accoring to the Boston FOX affiliate, the two suspects had issued their threats through social media. Police were notified of the threats on Thursday and were on the lookout for the two throughout the weekend. Upon searching their vehicle, authorities recovered a 12-gauge shotgun, an AR-15, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and a hunting knife. The story has been updated to identity the suspects, 18-year-old Kevin Norton and 27-year-old James Stumbo, both of whom were set to compete on Saturday under the Masters Division for the Pokemon Trading Card Game.

These are the weapons that @bostonpolice found after plot to attack #PokemonWorlds. http://t.co/aGLlBYI7Jp #FOX25 pic.twitter.com/f827INspPX

— FOX 25 News Boston (@fox25news) August 23, 2015

Meanwhile, context continues to come in quickly. These tweets were taken on Thursday, showing Stumbo and Norton arming themselves for their trip. The Pokemon Worlds tournament organizers swiftly kicked the two out of the competition and it may very well be these posts that caught Boston PD's attention:

A known disgusting asshole of a TCG player just got kicked out of and banned at Worlds because of this: pic.twitter.com/xgd4qrDz2Y

— King of Cluckers (@faiarrow) August 21, 2015

The comments that followed were also very gross. It was classed as a terrorist act by Pokemon. pic.twitter.com/JsCE2IZsPw

— King of Cluckers (@faiarrow) August 21, 2015

The Pokemon Company issued the following statement to the FOX station in Boston:

"Prior to the event this weekend, our community of players made us aware of a security issue. We gathered information and gave it as soon as possible to the authorities at the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center who acted swiftly and spearheaded communication with the Boston Police Department. Due to quick action, the potential threat was resolved. The Pokémon Company International takes the safety of our fans seriously and will continue to ensure proper security measures are a priority."

23 Aug 10:53

Breakfast at Giraffe Manor

by RJ Evans

Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, Kenya was built in the 1930s but today its main purpose is somewhat different to its original design.  It serves as a sanctuary for a herd of Rothschild’s Giraffes, a highly endangered species and the manor has been involved in their conservation since the 1970s.

Photographer and author Robin Moore captured these wonderful shots of the giraffes – seemingly in their element and completely at ease with the tourists around them.  In fact, to the giraffes, the presence of a few people seems to be just a minor complication in their quest for food!

It just goes to show that conservation takes many forms. In a perfect world, perhaps, there wouldn’t be a need for places like Giraffe Manor yet with their numbers declining rapidly, anything which draws attention to their plight has to be applauded.

The video was produced for "This Happened Here" on the Seeker Network from Discovery featuring Robin’s images and video from Giraffe Manor.

18 Aug 17:25

Evangeline Lilly Has Already Been Fitted for a Wasp Costume

by Cassidee Moser

Apparently, Marvel is planning to make good on Ant-Man's teasing post-credits Wasp scene.

In a Facebook Q&A with Evangeline Lilly, the Hope van Dyne actress revealed she had previously been fitted for the famous Wasp costume at Marvel. Since that time, she explains, she's been pregnant and unable to try it on. Still, the fitting has taken place, and she's ready to put it on as soon as possible.

"Let's hope I fit it again!" She joked.

Fans asked Lilly a wide number of questions, ranging from her take on Hope's wardrobe to whether or not Hope would return as Wasp in future Marvel Cinematic Universe films.

Continue reading…

18 Aug 19:32

Japanese Airlines Debut New Star Wars Airplanes

by Cassidee Moser

Japan's Nippon Air is feeling the excitement for Star Wars.

The company recently revealed two airplanes painted to look like some of the franchise's most popular characters; the astromech droid R2-D2 and the spherical droid BB-8 from the upcoming The Force Awakens.

Each plane will also feature various Star Wars decor and amenities, from themed headrests to all six movies on demand. The R2-D2 plane will take to the skies this October.

airplanes

Continue reading…

21 Aug 17:39

MIT figured out how to 3D print using glass instead of plastic

by Andrew Tarantola
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology unveiled a new 3D printing method on Friday that employs transparent glass as precursor instead of plastic. The method, called 3DGP, works basically the same way that conventional 3D printing...