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So, for something lighter and a bit more amusing to inject into your life, here's some music.

Now, it's hardly a secret that I like video games. Sometimes I even cop to liking video game music. Video game music is a weird field. First, it's very much like movie soundtracks, in that the music is supposed to evoke a set of emotions, and hence a game will contain a number of pieces with a completely different feel. Even action games with very similar settings will often create several different-sounding pieces with similar roots in order to emphasize differences between different levels. Second, they have to fit a much wider variety of circumstances than even movies, as the number and type of different scenarios in video games makes for more that you have to fit your music to.

RPGs tend to have the most widely varied music (IMHO) simply because they have the most varied locations, and exploring their exotic nature is often part of the game. In contrast, many action games stick to variations on one or two themes. But you can do a lot on variations. For an example, here's the theme to the Ace Combat series spread over three games.

Ace Combat Theme )
danalwyn: (Default)
I've put up some time lapse videos of cities before. It's quite a well developed genre by now. People are used to the brilliant glittering spires of the ultra-new cities, the rising titans of Asia, Seoul and Shanghai, Bangkok and Beijing, the glittering spires that now dominate the world economy. Of course, other cities have reinvented themselves into modern marvels. Abu Dhabi in the Middle East now rises like a glittering star over the Persian Gulf, alongside the new buildings of Lagos, of Rio de Janiero, and of ... Chicago?

In the American imagination (and the world when it gets thought of) Chicago is still the city of Al Capone and Upton Sinclair, of gangsters and communities of poor immigrants clinging to their new life in the browning brickwork of cramped housing. It is narrow lanes and darkened buildings, old factories and warehouses, corrupt politicians and smoke filled backrooms choking with gangsters. It is New York without the redemptive glitz and glitter of America's cultural capital. It is the Gotham of Batman. It is a city of perpetualities, the immigrants will always stay immigrants, dark alleys will always be dark, crumbling buildings stay crumbling, the mob will always be the mob, the wind off the lake is always cold, and the Cubs will always finish the season with disappointment.

But Chicago has been reinventing itself. Slowly, surely, and stumbling for an entire decade at a time, Chicago is doing what the rust belt cities wish they could, slowly changing what it is. It is a city of glass skylines, of open parks and glittering lights, well-lit sidewalks, and cozy cafes. It is cutting itself free of twentieth century roots it will never escape. It is, in the way of cities, becoming something both old and new.

And they sure know how to make a spectacular light show (HD recommended):

Video )


Dec. 18th, 2012 10:10 pm
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Most ads are exercises in name recognition or quick self-promotion. Amidst the ton of ads featuring flashy product shots and actors explaining to you why exactly this product is worth your time, some companies try to create a more memorable experience.

One way to do this is by trying to portray the world as a great place, an inspiring place, and imply that somehow this company is involved in making it that way. Sports apparel ads are famous for this kind of thing. So are beer ads. Usually it's sappy and overbearing and annoying.

Sometimes it does okay.

Since this is the Christmas season, the season where we are supposed to interpret crass commercialism as heart-warming affirmation of our moral virtues, here is this year's attempt by Google:

Google Zeitgeist )


Dec. 12th, 2012 08:57 pm
danalwyn: (Default)
Hardly anyone will be surprised to learn that I like cities.

A lot of people like cities, but they have trouble expressing what about the city they find some fascinating. They have tried to capture its essence, in photography, and patience, in music, but it is hard to capture the sum of a city without the city in its entirety.

A city moves, a city lives, it breathes. It is a moving part made of moving parts, a machine constructed from other machines. It is a clock with a million hands, each beating at its own unique beat. What is the heartbeat of a city? Is it the time it takes for a person to walk across the street? The time it takes a car to drive the length of a block? A single working day? The time it takes the retail clerk on break to smoke a cigarette? From sunrise to sunset? A season? The length a skyscraper takes to rise from pit to pinnacle? What is the city's heart? Where are the lungs? What are its eyes? We all are. We are all the city's heart, and each of us beats at the city's own beat.

One of the best mediums to show this, in my opinion, is the time lapse video. It is one of the few mediums that can, in an instant, step from one concept of time, one pulse, to another, letting the viewer instantly transcend their own frenetic life and enter the slower pace of the cogs of the city. There's been something of a renaissance of them with advances in video technology, so here are a few of my favorites.

All of them should be watched in HD:

Time-lapse Cities )


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