Friday, November 03, 2006

so...
I've been spending most of my time on some random 3D stuff, playing with javascript in my nonexistant free time too. An interesting little browser gadget is StumbleUpon - gives me some pretty nice random websites that users have recommended regarding personal interests.
Ever heard of Criss Angel? I'm suprised at the amount of people who haven't, since I usually consider myself behind on these sorts of things.



His show, Mindfreak, is pretty popular - I think it's on A&E, so I don't actually get it via TV. (yay YouTube) He's a brilliant illusionist - I'll post some vids later when I'm off this stupid blocked network. Curse censorship.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Enter at your own risk

"My socks! It's as if they're glued to the spot!"

Yes, I'm starting up a random blog again, which is ultimately a stupid idea, but if anything it's for my own benefit so I can keep track of everything I'm working on.

Today's issue? HIGH SCHOOL IS A JOKE- that's it!

I'm starting a countdown not only for how much longer I'm condemned to River Hill, but another one for how many times I've watched Rocky Horror.

Rocky Horror w/o audience: 3 :with audience: 2

Why am I wasting my time? I'm incredibly bored. Today was work on the filmfest website, fixing up scholarship essay, and work. Met not one, but two people I know that were both away for school - one of which was on the other side of the world - a complete suprise, and if I was more motivated I'd calculate the probability of such an event occurring.

"I loved you!" WHAT? Do you hear me? I loved you!" OH SHIT

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

'Thirst for knowledge' may be opium craving...

JZ sent me this article link - quite a scary thought yet fascinating in its own right.

'Thirst for knowledge' may be opium craving
The brain's reward for getting a concept is a shot of natural opiates
Neuroscientists have proposed a simple explanation for the pleasure of grasping a new concept: The brain is getting its fix.

The "click" of comprehension triggers a biochemical cascade that rewards the brain with a shot of natural opium-like substances, said Irving Biederman of the University of Southern California. He presents his theory in an invited article in the latest issue of American Scientist.

"While you're trying to understand a difficult theorem, it's not fun," said Biederman, professor of neuroscience in the USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

"But once you get it, you just feel fabulous."

The brain's craving for a fix motivates humans to maximize the rate at which they absorb knowledge, he said.

"I think we're exquisitely tuned to this as if we're junkies, second by second."

Biederman hypothesized that knowledge addiction has strong evolutionary value because mate selection correlates closely with perceived intelligence.

Only more pressing material needs, such as hunger, can suspend the quest for knowledge, he added.

The same mechanism is involved in the aesthetic experience, Biederman said, providing a neurological explanation for the pleasure we derive from art.

"This account may provide a plausible and very simple mechanism for aesthetic and perceptual and cognitive curiosity."

Biederman's theory was inspired by a widely ignored 25-year-old finding that mu-opioid receptors – binding sites for natural opiates – increase in density along the ventral visual pathway, a part of the brain involved in image recognition and processing.

The receptors are tightly packed in the areas of the pathway linked to comprehension and interpretation of images, but sparse in areas where visual stimuli first hit the cortex.

Biederman's theory holds that the greater the neural activity in the areas rich in opioid receptors, the greater the pleasure.

In a series of functional magnetic resonance imaging trials with human volunteers exposed to a wide variety of images, Biederman's research group found that strongly preferred images prompted the greatest fMRI activity in more complex areas of the ventral visual pathway. (The data from the studies are being submitted for publication.)

Biederman also found that repeated viewing of an attractive image lessened both the rating of pleasure and the activity in the opioid-rich areas. In his article, he explains this familiar experience with a neural-network model termed "competitive learning."

In competitive learning (also known as "Neural Darwinism"), the first presentation of an image activates many neurons, some strongly and a greater number only weakly.

With repetition of the image, the connections to the strongly activated neurons grow in strength. But the strongly activated neurons inhibit their weakly activated neighbors, causing a net reduction in activity. This reduction in activity, Biederman's research shows, parallels the decline in the pleasure felt during repeated viewing.

"One advantage of competitive learning is that the inhibited neurons are now free to code for other stimulus patterns," Biederman writes.

This preference for novel concepts also has evolutionary value, he added.

"The system is essentially designed to maximize the rate at which you acquire new but interpretable [understandable] information. Once you have acquired the information, you best spend your time learning something else.

"There's this incredible selectivity that we show in real time. Without thinking about it, we pick out experiences that are richly interpretable but novel."

The theory, while currently tested only in the visual system, likely applies to other senses, Biederman said.

###

Edward Vessel, who was Biederman's graduate student at USC, is now a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Neural Science at New York University. Vessel collaborated on the studies and co-authored the American Scientist article.

PERCEPTUAL.PLEASURE.CM
-USC-
JUNE 20, 2006

Welcome

Welcome to my blog - hope you enjoy my posts and find them useful and entertaining.
On to the first topic of interest for today: AMV's.
I'm starting with amv's simply because I recently made one. For those of you who don't know what they are, amv is an acronym for animated music video. Many people make these as a hobby, and usually anime is used. Basically one edits an anime episode - taking various clips from one or more episodes in a series and compiling them into a video that's synchronized with a music track - for the one below I used the Samurai Champloo series and timed it to Limp Bizkit's "Rollin"- language warning on this song, the "f" and "s" words are used a bit- no offense intended.
My first AMV attempt:

Some videos are better than others for a few reasons, the first of which being that some are only comprised of various scenes rather than actual lip synching, which most people don't think very highly of. It takes a fair amount of skill to only use scenes and make an amv impressive.
Here is an example of an extremely well-edited amv- this is from the Naruto series timed to the same song as mine:

Amv quality is based upon how well synchronized the clip is, and how amusing it is - some, like the amv hell movie featured below, are created for the sole purpose of humor. Other videos are created as tributes to series creators or specific charactors. Mine was just an attempt to see what I could do - it's fine to just make the characters look cool too.
AMV Hell 1 (of 3 in a series- the second is slightly more inappropriate, though more amusing in my opinion)WARNING: some scenes in this are very inappropriate

There are also quite a few AMV competitions out there - some are hosted online, and others happen at conventions - one example would be Otakon. Competitions are fun for those who want to put in the time and effort and really hone their video editing skills - some of the amv's entered are truly amazing, and I'll try to include them and/or links to them in the next few posts.
As far as editing software goes...I just used Windows MovieMaker. I normally don't prefer it though due to the fact that it admits so few file formats for editing. Ulead VideoStudio is ok, but wouldn't be my first choice, especially because I have had some very bad experiences with it regarding presentations. More expensive softwares like Macromedia would obviously be your best bet - amv's can be made in flash, and if you have the cash- who wouldn't want Final Cut Pro (apprx. a $3000 price tag on that)?