Archive

Art & Technology

“Everything about Jupiter is extreme; it’s a planet on steroids” — Scott Bolton, Principal Investigator, Mission Juno

This illustration depicts NASA's Juno spacecraft at Jupiter, with its solar arrays and main antenna pointed toward the distant sun and Earth. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

This illustration depicts NASA’s Juno spacecraft at Jupiter, with its solar arrays and main antenna pointed toward the distant sun and Earth. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

July 4th is a day of celebration, and not just for Independence Day!  It is also the day that the spacecraft Juno will finally reach its destination Jupiter after a 5-year voyage.  Juno should reach the planet’s orbit by tonight (July 4) and will then spend 18 months studying what lies beneath Jupiter’s thick cloud cover.

From NASA:

“During Juno’s orbit-insertion phase, or JOI, the spacecraft will perform a series of steps in preparation for a main engine burn that will guide it into orbit. At 6:16 p.m. PDT (9:16 p.m. EDT), Juno will begin to turn slowly away from the sun and toward its orbit-insertion attitude. Then 72 minutes later, it will make a faster turn into the orbit-insertion attitude.

After the main engine burn, Juno will be in orbit around Jupiter. The spacecraft will spin down from 5 to 2 RPM, turn back toward the sun, and ultimately transmit telemetry via its high-gain antenna.

Juno starts its tour of Jupiter in a 53.5-day orbit. The spacecraft saves fuel by executing a burn that places it in a capture orbit with a 53.5-day orbit instead of going directly for the 14-day orbit that will occur during the mission’s primary science collection period. The 14-day science orbit phase will begin after the final burn of the mission for Juno’s main engine on October 19.”

I had the great honor of filming some early interviews with Juno’s scientists and engineers leading up to the launch for the official Mission Juno website.  In honor of this momentous occasion, I’m reposting a piece about the project.

Read More

Birdman (2014) Fox Searchlight Pictures

Birdman (2014) Fox Searchlight Pictures

In cinema, the Long Take is one long uninterrupted shot lasting several minutes and usually requiring careful and complicated choreography.  It’s a technique that is almost as old as film itself, yet over the years the technical aspects of the long take have evolved as directors and cinematographers rise to the challenge of pulling off even bigger and better “oners.”

Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu’s Birdman, which won an Oscar for best film this year, is a recent example of a long take – in fact the entire movie is intended to have the effect of one long tracking shot.  But this is nothing new.  Alfred Hitchcock employed same device with his 1948 film, Rope.  Hitchcock was limited by the technology of the time. Because reels of film were only 10 minutes long, the director was required to hide the cuts; many of the takes ended on a nondescript surface so the next roll of film could pick up right where the last one left off.

The use of the long take is often a spectacular display of technical acumen, but it also risks breaking the film’s spell with a flashy moment for the filmmaker to shout “look at me!” when it doesn’t serve the story.  It is most successfully executed when we don’t realize that it’s happening.

While this is by no means comprehensive, check out a select list of my favorites: Read More

Photo: Ariel Zambelich/Wired
Photo: Ariel Zambelich/Wired

This and other gems are what one will hear when delving into the digital medium of podcasts.  Alec Baldwin elegantly articulated the line above during a conversation with David Letterman, and it made me giggle out loud, much to the amusement/alarm of my fellow subway riders.  These days I have a dreadful commute from Brooklyn to a production company in Newark, and there are only so many New Yorker magazines that one can read while navigating three separate trains over the course of an hour and a half each way (while barefoot in the snow uphill?  No?  Well, it’s almost that bad).  To make the trip more bearable, I’ve started loading podcasts onto my smart phone, and now the ride is actually enjoyable.  Read More

The Juno spaceprobe in front of the planet Jupiter (Artist's Concept). NASA/JPL 2011

The Juno spaceprobe in front of the planet Jupiter (Artist’s Concept). NASA/JPL 2011

Exactly two years ago today, I was heading down to Cape Canaveral to direct a number of short films about the Juno project, NASA’s mission to Jupiter.   Juno is a spacecraft that will spend one year orbiting Jupiter, making scientific observations of the planet’s gravity, magnetic fields and composition.  I conducted interviews with the scientists and engineers who worked on the project, and we filmed the launch on Aug 5, 2011. Read More

The Beauty of Nureyev at the de Young Museum

Rudolf Nureyev rehearses for "Marguerite and Armand" at Covent Garden in Britain in 1963. Photo: Michael Peto, The University Of Dundee The Pet / SF

Rudolf Nureyev rehearses for “Marguerite and Armand” at Covent Garden in Britain in 1963. Photo: Michael Peto, The University Of Dundee The Pet / SF

When I was a kid growing up in the 70s, there were few things more magical than when my parents woke me up late at night for something they didn’t want me to miss: a lunar eclipse, a fire truck screaming down the street, or Rudolf Nureyev dancing on PBS.  Through the gauzy veil of memory, I can still picture this man leaping impossibly high and landing with such elegance and joy that I could hardly get back to sleep.  And so it is fitting that I recently accompanied my parents to the de Young Museum exhibit, Rudolf Nureyev: A Life in Dance, in San Francisco.

Read More

photos courtesy of Bill Winters

Not only is the Intrepid an aircraft carrier, it’s a working museum and a film location.  The aircraft carrier Intrepid (CVS-11) first served in World War II, became one of the primary recovery vessels for NASA, and served three tours of duty during the Vietnam conflict.  It is now a national historic landmark and one of the most unique attractions in New York City.
Read More

I have no memory of why we are laughing, but I suspect Uncle Tim is involved. Newport News, VA 1982.

This week I attended a presentation by the digital magazine, the Atavist, an e-reader app for long-form narrative journalism. The panel discussion “Memoirs in the Digital Age” featured two memoirists: author and professor Cris Beam and journalist of science and culture David Dobbs. Clive Thompson, contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine who has written about how technology has affected our collective memory, joined them. Both Beam and Dobbs have recently authored their own memoirs, which focus on stories about their mothers.

Like the rest of the media community, I’m quickly becoming fascinated by the potential of tablet storytelling and the sense of discovery that interactivity can provide. I was curious about nuts and bolts topics like: what did the authors think were their most successful “moments of interactive discovery;” how were the stories developed differently for the tablet app; did the tablet format provide any specific challenges, etc. However, the panel discussion and following Q&A turned much more philosophical than I had anticipated, which left me considering how memory & technology inform my own process.

Read More