Monday, December 21, 2009

Avatar - the movie

Firstly WOW!

Avatar is an amazing movie, the attention to detail is immense. I mean they production team created not just a world, a language and a culture from scratch but they immerse you into this place called Pandora from the start. There is a short no intro to the story form the main character but the rest you learn as the movie unfolds.

I have tried to leave any big story line bits out of this, but if you haven't seen the film, trust me it is good and stop reading now until you have seen it.


Some small things I think made the movie;
- Real pandorians have 3 fingers, human avatar clones have 4 (guessing its because of the genetic mix)
- Every breathing animals breathes through openings on their body, not through their mouths
The Hallelujah mountians.... cool (glad to see earth physics doesn't have to follow humans around the universe)
- The big tree - it is BIG, I mean BIG
- The scene where 'Jack' walks for the first time.
- Sigourney Weavers Avatar was 6 yrs younger than anyone elses as hers was the first to be created

A couple of things that got missed during the edit;
- One of the human avatars gets killed then appears in the closing sequence?
- Where humans can and cant breathe the 'air' on Pandora needed to be explained a little as sometimes they could other times they needed breathing masks.

My thoughts;
Okay I did think having an 'Aussie' with a blue face getting the crowds riled up to go to war was a little too braveheart, but who cares really at that point of the film you are so immersed in the story that it does not matter. But maybe as a kiwi I am biased.

The story behind Avatar is not a brilliant one, however if any more time was spent on explaining this and that it would never have got finished and would have ended up a bit like The Lord of the Rings films - a lot of film for a single story - keeping everything in one film was a big project on its own, I wonder how much footage we will get in the directors cut?

So many times during the film I found myself going 'cool' or 'wow' or 'awesome'. I realise it is being pencilled in as the most expensive film of all time and I dont care if it is because you get to see all of the money being spent. In every scene there is something hapening on the edge of the shot, moving, changing colour.
I am a geek but even the computer termail workstations in the human complex with their curved translucent touch/hologram screen were cool - and unlike other SciFi films you can see these being built soon with the current technology we have now.

Okay Avatar is set in 50-60 years in the future, but all of the cool military kit would fit in now to our world now, it was all 'petrol' powered, it looked real and sounded real, it fired bullets, not laser beams etc.

Avatar had some amazing scenes, but everything was so (and I say it again) immersive that you had no problems believing that what was happening on the screen wasn't impossible.
The film has something for everyone, even the girls get a hidden chick flick romance in the background. For the guys there is a bit of "murder, death, kill" and the kids get cool plants animals and ofcourse loads of blue people.

All in all an amazing film that I will happily see again, probably in 3D.

Monday, December 07, 2009

realisation - its all about knowledge

Last week I attended the - codefest event, Matt Lacey set us all a task to build a competitive Connect4 player to compete against each other and a 'Random' player he wrote, we had 2 hours.

Seemed like an easy task, use visual studio to build a .dll that can beat the pants off the other developers attending - simple, bring it on.

This is when I realised, that after 7 years of programming, that I had forgotten a lot of my windows forms days (desktop software).

Web vs Windows
Now if the code is the same, the data is the same and the architecture is similar (more so now than when I started), what was the problem? - one too many pints before we started (nope).

Using a stateless environment (the web) to run my systems has made me far too reliant on session variables, view state bits'n'bobs etc.
The fact I had no data source of any kind to store any data in threw me, how would I know where the connect 4 pieces were, let alone who owned which piece. How would I count to 4 in any direction ... aaarrgghhhh I need a session.item()!

After much playing and re-coding, all while running the clock down, I ended up fudging the code to play a set stratedgy of moves, all dependant on where the last piece was played. Not good code and well embarrassing. With everything hardcoded I was a sitting duck for an intelligent player.

I lost by the way, full credits went to someone who knows far more about desktop software than I do!

The blackhole of knowledge between web and desktop publishing is not a big one, however I think to hop from one to the other without thinking about the two is something I am gong to try and tackle over the next few months.

It is so easy to get into a comfort zone of code, I know all of my code and what is possible to do within a web environment, but throw me a windows app and I really have to think about what I have to do and what can and cant be done in that environment.
There is no easy step-by-step to make this transition easy, it is hands-on process, you make a mistake and fix it.

I found it really interesting to hack my way through Matts project, I do think that I have forgotten more about developing for windows than I would care to remember.
A humbling experience, it's the small things that make you sit back and think!

Thanks to Matt and everyone else who thrashed me at devevening, look forward to seeing everyone next year on Jan 28th!