Director Rian Johnson says upcoming ‘Star Wars’ films will feature more practical effects and less CGI
As if it wasn’t clear already, it sounds like the next trilogy of Star Wars films is going to do its best to distance itself from the derided prequel trilogy of the last decade. We already knew that director J.J. Abrams planned to shoot Episode VIIon film (both 35mm and IMAX) rather than in digital, and it sounds like he’s also planning to use more practical effects in the next film in addition to the inevitable CGI effects that will surely be necessary for a film of this scale.
“They’re doing so much practical building for this one. It’s awesome. I think people are coming back around to [practical effects]. It feels like there is sort of that gravity pulling us back toward it. I think that more and more people are hitting kind of a critical mass in terms of the CG-driven action scene lending itself to a very specific type of action scene, where physics go out the window and it becomes so big so quick.”
This isn’t the first hint we’ve gotten that the new trilogy will pull back a bit from the CGI overload in the prequels — last year, details emerged that the film would feature plenty of on-location shoots and models from Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light and Magic. More recently, Abrams has posted several on-set videos — one of which showed off some live-action alien costuming. Still, these are high-budget fantastical blockbuster films, so we’re not expecting them to be entirely free of CGI. But if it can be tastefully mixed with more real-world effects, fans may warm to the new trilogy’s aesthetic more than they did of the prequels.
Sprint attacks T-Mobile with $60 unlimited data plan
On Thursday, Sprint unveiled a $60 Unlimited Plan for individual customers. The new service offers unlimited voice, text messaging, and data for $60 a month. Sprint is marketing the new plan as the cheapest around, beating T-Mobile, its only national competitor offering unlimited data by $20 a month. AT&T and Verizon abandoned unlimited data plans more than two years ago. Today, AT&T and Verizon only offer new customers their shared plans, which include unlimited talk and text messaging and different tiers of data per month that can be shared among family members or devices.
The new unlimited pricing plan along with a new Family Share Pack introduced on Monday are meant to kick-start Sprint’s competitiveness in the market and help right a ship that has been going off course for several quarters. Sprint — which has fallen to last place nationally, according to recent RootMetrics network testing — has been struggling to keep customers. In the last quarter, it lost 220,000 customers. A new CEO came on board less than two weeks ago and has already started to shake things up. Priority No. 1 has been to reposition Sprint’s pricing so that it not only adds more value for customers but also is easily compared to plans offered by rivals, such as AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile.
On Monday, it introduced new family share plans that look very similar to plans offered by AT&T and Verizon, but include twice the amount of data for roughly the same price. It also introduced promotions to entice new subscribers to abandon their existing carriers and come to Sprint. These include offering a credit of up to $350 for any new customer switching to Sprint as well as a break on device access charges for more than a year and 2GB more of data for every new line added to the Sprint Family Share Pack.
T-Mobile has already responded to the the assault. Today, the company launched a promotion that will give customers fleeing Sprint (as well as AT&T and Verizon) unlimited data at no additional charge for one year. It will also provide this promotion to any existing T-Mobile customers referring new customers to the service. The promotion starts August 29 and will be available for a limited time. To get the promotion, existing customers will need to provide their phone numbers along with the person they are referring to the service.
August Xbox One system update brings 3D, remote downloads
Good news, Xbox One fans! This month’s system update is rolling out today, and it adds some long-awaited features. 3D Blu-ray support, remote game downloads, and improved notifications are all being added. These frequent additions and refinements certainly aren’t a panacea for the Xbox One’s public perception problems, but these monthly updates go a long way in reassuring existing owners that Microsoft isn’t resting on its laurels.
In a post on the Major Nelson blog, Larry Hryb details all of the new features we can expect to see in the August update. There are six bullet points on this list, but it can be simplified to three major changes. First and foremost among them, this update adds in the 3D Blu-ray support we were promised last month.
Hot on the heels of the release of 3D Blu-ray support on the PS4 last month, the Xbox One now supports this feature as well. If your TV is 3D-capable, you’ll now be able to enjoy 3D Blu-rays like Gravity and Avatar. Of course, stereoscopic 3D gaming remains possible on both the Xbox One and PS4, but neither company seems interested in pursuing that angle. Considering that many Xbox One games struggle to hit decent frame rates at 1080p without 3D support, rendering two different perspectives at once would only make matters worse.
Secondly, remote game downloads are now functional on the Xbox One. If you purchase a game or DLC on the Xbox website or through SmartGlass, you’ll now have the option to automatically download that content to your console. Similar functionality exists with thePS4 and Sony’s website, so it’s nice to see Microsoft keeping pace in that regard.
Finally, this update dramatically improves notifications in a number of ways. When your controller’s battery is running low, you’ll now receive an on-screen notification. If you browse your friends list, you’ll now see how long it’s been since any individual has logged in — very useful for pruning your list. Tired of seeing notifications while you’re watching a movie? Now you have the ability to silence them during video playback.
However, the most dramatic change to notifications is the addition of Facebook-like social networking. Besides the simple “SmokeDawg420 is playing Call of Duty: Ghosts” messages in your activity feed, you can also add text posts in the style of a tweet or a status update. Of course, the Facebookification wouldn’t be complete without the ability to “Like” these posts as well. I’m sure this is useful to someone, but it just seems like superfluous “me-too” functionality in my eyes. Regardless, this update packs in enough new functionality to satisfy any Xbox One owner — for now.
Xbox Deals With Gold Call of Duty/Rockstar Pub Sale
- Call of Duty: Black Ops – 50% off
- Call of Duty: Black Ops II – 50% off
- Call of Duty: Black Ops II Season Pass – 50% off
- Modern Warfare 2 – 50% off
- Modern Warfare 3 – 60% off
- Modern Warfare 3 Collection Pack 1 Add-on – 50% off
- Modern Warfare 3 Collection Pack 2 Add-on – 50% off
- Modern Warfare 3 Collection Pack 3: Chaos Pack Add-on – 50% off
- Modern Warfare 3 Collection Pack 4: Final Assault Add-on – 50% off
- Bully: Scholarship Edition – 75% off
- L.A. Noire – 75% off
- L.A. Noire Season Pass – 75% off
- Max Payne 3 – 75% off
- Max Payne 3 Rockstar Pass – 75% off
- Midnight Club: L.A. – 75% off
- Red Dead Redemption – 75% off
- Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare Collection/Pack- 75% off
- Rockstar Table Tennis – 75% off
- Grand Theft Auto V – 50% off
- Grand Theft Auto IV – 75% off
- Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost & Damned – 75% off
- Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony – 75% off
Xbox 360 and One:
- Call of Duty: Ghosts Season Pass Add-on – 50% off
- Call of Duty: Ghosts – Snoop Dogg VO Pack Add-on – 50% off
- Call of Duty: Ghosts – Makarov Legend Pack Add-on – 50% off
- Call of Duty: Ghosts – Squad Pack Extinction Add-on – 50% off
- Call of Duty: Ghosts – Captain Price Legend Pack Add-on – 50% off
Mailbox for Mac now out in beta
Start your Tesla engines…with your iPhone, report says
Word on the street is that Tesla is coming out soon with a major firmware update for its all-electric Model S that will let people start their cars with an Apple iPhone.
Tech news site 9to5Mac got its hands on alleged screenshots of the OS 6.0 update, which says this revamped firmware includes “the ability to start your car (in case you forget your key fob)” with an iPhone.
Earlier this year, Tesla CEO Elon Musk met with Apple executives. At first, it was rumored the meetings had to do with a possible buyout of Tesla — but those murmurings were shot down. However, it was also believed that the meeting was about integrating Apple’s iOS software technologies into Tesla’s cars — much like what the iPhone-maker has done with Audi, General Motors, Ford, Hyundai, and others.
Along with the rumored car-starting feature in the OS 6.0 update, the firmware is also said to include boosted maps and navigation and calendar capability. It’s said that a new Tesla Android app will also be available in a few weeks.
Geek This Week:
Aaron: Doctor Who World Tour Recap
Gozer: Boston Trip and TMNT
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