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Snoke Screens: Designing the User Interfaces In The Last Jedi

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You’ll find no touch screens in Star Wars: The Last Jedi—not even when you can watch it at home next month (March 13 for digital, two weeks later for physical). Same goes for mice and keyboards. They’re all too familiar, too of-this-world, to appear in a galaxy so far, far away. What you’ll find instead are interface displays, and lots of them. Whether in an X-wing’s cockpit or the bridge of a Star Destroyer, every display in The Last Jedi exists to support the story—to provide a graphical complement to the film’s action and dialogue.

And it started with the film’s director. “Whenever possible, Rian [Johnson] wanted us to use practical graphics to enforce the narrative,” says creative director Andrew Booth, who oversaw the creation of TLJ’s assorted instrument clusters, targeting systems, medical readouts, and tactical displays. “It would actually appear in the script that you look at a screen and gain a deeper understanding of what’s happening. The challenge was always, what can we do in-camera to create something that feels real and believable?”

What’s impressive about the interfaces in The Last Jedi is that they feel believable not just to the audience, but to the film’s dramatis personae. In the real world, designers design for one person: the user. But creatives like Booth—whose design agency, BLIND LTD, has been behind the look and feel of some of this century’s biggest blockbusters, including every Star Wars film from TFA onward—designed the practical displays in The Last Jedi with at least three groups of people in mind: the characters, the actors depicting those characters, and the folks watching along in theaters.

Consider the film’s opening scene, in which (fair warning: plot points and spoilers from here on out) Commander Poe Dameron calls General Hux. The point of Poe’s call is to buy time; he’s charging the engines on his X-wing so he can stage a surprise attack on the First Order Dreadnought that’s poised to obliterate his Resistance buddies planetside. It’s a plan the audience comes to understand when the camera cuts to a display inside Poe’s starfighter that shows the status of his boosters.

 
The inside of Poe’s X-wing. The top display depicts the Dreadnaught tower Poe attacks at the beginning of the film; the middle one shows the status bar for his X-wing’s engines; and the bottom one, which is all wonky, visualizes his spaceship’s damaged targeting system.
LUCASFILM LTD./BLIND LTD.

“For us, that’s a perfect piece of storytelling,” Booth says. “Now you’ve got exposition, drama, and tension all wrapped up in this close-up of a progress bar.” And because it’s a practical effect, that tension is experienced by audience, actor, and character alike. In fact, every single display in Poe’s cockpit pulls triple duty: The top one depicts the tower Poe is attacking; the middle one shows the status bar for his X-wing’s engines; and the bottom one, which is all wonky, visualizes his spaceship’s damaged targeting system, which BB-8 spends much of the sequence trying to repair.

These kinds of details don’t always make it into the final cut of a film, and even when they do, audiences don’t always notice them. Not explicitly, anyway. “For us, these graphics are more about shape and form than they are about spelling things out—but they do allow people to feel what’s going on in a scene, and they help support the actor’s performance,” Booth says.

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Similar details abound inside the spacecraft from Canto Bight, the opulent casino city. The graphics aboard the ship that DJ and BB-8 steal are shiny. Slinky. Sumptuous. A striking contrast to the First Order’s stark, militaristic vibes and the ragtag aesthetics of the Resistance. “This was us trying to evoke a different world,” Booth says.

But even the film’s familiar spaces brim with visual information. Toward the end of the film, on the chalk-dusted mining planet Crait, the audience gets multiple glimpses inside Kylo Ren’s shuttle, from which he has orchestrated the First Order’s assault on what remains of the Resistance. “The aesthetic is sharp, clean, systematic—just like the First Order, itself, and the color palette is all red, grey, black and white,” Booth says.

 
Inside Kylo Ren’s shuttle, above the battle on Crait.
LUCASFILM LTD./BLIND LTD.

These are classic, higher-order stylistic cues, many of which date back to the original trilogy. During pre-production on The Force Awakens BLIND LTD researched the original designs closely, and collaborated with production designers Rick Carter and Darren Gilford to get the look and feel just right. The graphics continued to evolve with Lucasfilm design supervisor Kevin Jenkins and production designer Rick Heinrichs on The Last Jedi. They immediately help viewers understand where they are and whose ship it is. (The Resistance’s aesthetic, by contrast, is analog and unstructured—its color palette dominated by orange, green, brown, and other earth colors.)

But look closely, and you’ll see that the screens inside the shuttle are loaded with details. Crait’s topography, the blast door separating the Resistance from the First Order, the line of AT-ATs—they’re all depicted on screens, often for the briefest of moments. “It gives you an idea of the level of detail that we put into these interfaces,” Booth says. “It’s one of the things we pride ourselves on: You don’t necessarily always see it, but you sure as hell feel it.”

Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/star-wars-last-jedi-user-interfaces/

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Roku on track for $1 billion in revenue in 2019

Charmaine Blake

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“Roku plans to be a billion-dollar company in 2019, the company said on Thursday as part of its announcement of strong earnings. The company beat analyst estimates and reported strong growth in active users and streaming hours with earnings of $0.05 per share, compared with the $0.03 analysts had estimated, and revenues of $276 million, compared with the expected $262 million.

Roku also reported 40 percent year-over-year active user growth, with 27.1 million active users by year-end, and a 69 percent year-over-year increase in streaming hours, which reached 7.3 billion.

The company said it plans this year to invest in international expansion, its ad-supported service The Roku Channel, advertising and its Roku TV platform.

While cord cutting is driving some of Roku’s growth, only around half of Roku’s customers fit this description, CEO Anthony Wood pointed out. The other half are more like “cord shavers” — those who are still pay TV subscribers, but are shifting more of their TV viewing to streaming services.

Roku’s ability to also attract pay TV customers combined with the fact that one in four smart TVs sold in the U.S. now runs its software is helping the company’s market share grow.

Roku estimates that one in five U.S. TV households now uses the Roku platform for at least a portion of their TV viewing. In the year ahead, Roku aims to better capitalize on its traction by increasing the monetization per user and scaling the number of households using Roku………………………………………………………….”

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2019/02/22/roku-on-track-for-1-billion-in-revenue-in-2019/

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Netflix has the best movie selection, study shows

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“If you can only afford one streaming service, maybe this study will help you decide.

Based on the Rotten Tomato scores of all movies available on each of the big streaming services, it looks like Netflix has the best selection of movies, according to a study from Streaming Observer.

Compared to Amazon Prime, Hulu, and HBO Now, Netflix has the most movies that are “certified fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes, which means they have a steady score of 75% or higher and have been reviewed by a significant amount of critics and Rotten Tomatoes users. Of Netflix’s 3,839 movies, more than 15% are certified fresh.

Hulu has the closest number of movies at 2,336 but only 9.6% are certified fresh. HBO Now with 815 movies is sitting at 4.7% certified fresh. Amazon Prime has the most options at 17,461 but quantity does not equal quality for the online retail giant because only 1.3% of its movies are certified fresh.

All this basically comes down to the fact that Netflix has more higher quality movies than anyone else — 596, to be exact, which is roughly 360 more than both Hulu and Amazon Prime.

The data used by Streaming Observer is from Jan. 20, so it’s always possible that this could change. Movies are coming and going from streaming services all the time, and when new streaming services like Disney’s anticipated service come along, it’ll be quite a disruption for these sites.

Plus, this is all subjective and doesn’t take television shows into account. It’s really all about what you’re interested in watching. Not everyone wants to watch the best movies all the time. Sometimes you just want to watch King of the Hill, and you can only get that on Hulu.”

Read more: https://mashable.com/article/netflix-best-movies/

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Hulu drops price after Netflix raises rates

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Hulu isn’t done taunting Netflix just yet.

Image: Chesnot/Getty Images

Just as Netflix’s prices go up, Hulu’s are going down.

“Hulu has announced today that its reducing the price of its ad-supported subscription plan to $5.99 per month. The current price for Hulu’s lowest-tiered plan is $7.99 per month.. The company’s “no ads” plan will remain priced at $11.99 per month.

This move comes just a week after the streaming service’s biggest competitor, Netflix, unveiled its largest price increase ever. The price of Netflix’s most popular plan is now $13 per month.

However, the move to undercut Netflix’s prices isn’t the first time Hulu’s taken a swipe at its competitor this month. Last week, amid Netflix’s big promotion for the upcoming release of its anticipated Fyre Festival documentary, Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, Hulu dropped a surprise. It released its own Fyre Festival documentary, Fyre Fraud, before Netflix’s film.

In its pricing announcement, Hulu also unveiled a price increase for its Hulu + Live TV plan. That plan will be going from $39.99 to $44.99 per month.

Hulu Live TV brings channels like……………………………………………………………………”

Read more: https://mashable.com/article/hulu-price-drop-599/

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