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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Russian Horror Film, "The Bride" (2017) Does Not Disappoint

I recently saw the Russian horror film, The Bride (Svyatoslav Podgayevskiy, 2017).  The film is often listed as HEBECTA (pronounced Nevestia – which means “The Bride” or “The Fiancee”).

Any good horror film worth its salt is subversive. This film reminded me of that.


Okay, to start, let me make a confession. I’m not a fan of horror films. In fact, I would say that I avoid them whenever I can. I’m not sure why I thought that the Russian film, “The Bride” would be a chick flick. Probably because I did not watch the trailer. I was also wrong in thinking that it would be in Russian with English subtitles.  It was dubbed. So, I was prepared to be underwhelmed.

To my surprise, I liked it. And, I was reminded that horror is something that, if it’s really good, gives you insight into the dynamics of our social and political milieu, but in coded form, if you will.

Like the best horror films, the premise is of a scientific breakthrough and technology gone horribly wrong, combined with creepy anthropology and folklore.

Moscow University. Professor is talking about two things: first, the belief in the 19th century that the silver emulsions used in photography captured not just the image but the essence of the soul of the subject. So, they took to taking photographs of their dead loved ones .. painting eyes on their eyelids.


Second, the ancient Slavic belief that a wedding ceremony was actually a funeral ceremony for the bride, because she was dead to her old life – hence, the bridal veil (inspired by shrouds used to wrap the cadaver), the color white (of death; “purity” would have been good old nunnery and nun’s habit black), and the flowers.


Now, in the case of the movie, the bride died, and so a replacement bride was found to inter with the dead girlfriend and a silver emulsion containing her soul, with the hope that the silver plate would be as potent as lightning in Frankenstein’s laboratory. Yeah, a bit weak, and very derivative, but the fact that the entire film was shot in Moscow and the Moscow Oblast made it interesting.

So, here is a checklist underpinning ideas and psychological / existential anxieties:
Fear of women’s sexuality: CHECK
Suspicion of technology: CHECK
Belief in the suppression of scientific discoveries of the 19th century: CHECK
Belief in a hungry, devouring, undead entity that seeks to steal your healthy body, will killing your soul: CHECK
Belief that the body-snatcher is consumer culture?? NO NON NYET NYET NYET
Belief that the body-snatching soul-stealer is the GOVERNMENT (or that the “Bride” is ‘gasp' a politician!) CHECK CHECK CHECK

The special effects of horror leave me cold. I am disgusted by them.  I do not care to see wormy cadavers, or to vicariously experience a rotted zombie female checking to make sure that the prospective new bride is a virgin so she can consign her soul to her rotting cadaver, thus using the new, living bride for her evil designs.

Okay, I liked the Russian house. It made me think of the Romanov times, and the museums I visited in Russia. I also recognize the metonymical significance of secret passages, hallways, and ducts in the old house. The metonymical potential of the silver nitrate images on glass, and the images of candles, winding stairways, foggy trackless forests are also clear to me. I enjoy them, but they are like eating candy corn for breakfast. You’ve just substituted discounted Halloween candy for the tough, bitter, adult palate that prefers something steel-cut.



The subversive elements of The Bride have to do with the vexed relationship a culture has with its past. The past is usually mythologized, and history is hammered into a weapon or a plowshare to do the bidding of the one's in power. To have a past that persists, and actually devours today is quite a subversive message, especially in a culture that tries to build on past accomplishments to reinforce a national identity capable of cohering and fending off outside threats.  To have a being from the past who insists on taking over the body of a young, virginal woman admits that there is a profound fear of one's own latent impulses. Dostoevsky's doppelgangers (The Double and Notes from Underground) are alive and well.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Free Canvas Tutorials for Instructors and Designers

Canvas is a virtual learning environment and also a learning management system that makes it easy to collaborate through its incorporation of Google Apps.


It is also ideal for individuals who would like to offer their own course, since individual accounts are free.

The flexibility of Canvas has made it the LMS of choice for MOOCs, and many universities are transitioning to it because it is easy to integrate and can be launched with a minimum of disruption.
 
I've put together two collections of video tutorials for Canvas. Here are six samples that I've uploaded into a YouTube playlist.

Here's the link to the playlist
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLfLhA1Ju1dqFLEW7B0HqPGapLH-BKhtJQ 

Here are the titles:
Planning and designing using learning objectives
 
Building collaborative presentations


Wikis

Learning through Collaboration


Assessment and Learning Objectives in Canvas
For More
Overview of the full Quick Start Guide to Canvas Video Course (with free sample):  35 modules / more than three hours of video guidance
https://www.packtpub.com/game-development/quick-start-guide-courses-canvas-video

 Overview of Canvas for Collaboration (with free sample) - 30 modules / 3 hours 10 minutes of instruction


Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Drones and UAV Software

Software for drones and UAVs cover a wide spectrum of possibilities. They range from very basic cloud-based applications that you download onto your smartphone or tablet, to extremely sophisticated programs that will allow you to work with all kinds of data from many sources, including photogrammetry, thermal, hyperspectral, multispectral, laser, and more. Some programs and packages have a steep learning curve, while others are intuitive and you can develop basic maps and 3D images within a matter of hours.

Images: Pix4D

But, let’s start with the basics.

What will you be using your drone-derived images for?  Let’s think about this a moment. Most drones and UAVs are used to create 3D images and also to try to detect anomalies.  So, what that means in practical terms is that you’ll need to be able to generate geo-referenced images that can be moved, manipulated, and rotated for a better look.  You’ll also need to be able to process data so that the values correspond to different colors, so that any anomalies really “pop” as in a heat map.

The second most basic issue is that of storage space and connectivity. If you’re able to use your phone and you have a good signal, you can take advantage of cloud-solutions and you can gather a lot more data. If not, you’re going to be stuck with what you can carry onboard, which means your sampling rate is going to have to go down quite significantly. It also means that you’re better off with a software package which allows you to adjust your sampling rate.

Keep in mind that software that contains pre-prepared applications will limit you, and you may not even know how you’re being limited. But, unless you’re NASA, a military contractor or a movie studio, chances are it’s not in your budget to pay millions of dollars for your drone’s software.

Here are some of the most widely-used drone software packages. Some are aimed more toward the lighter businesses uses, and others are appropriate for very demanding commercial applications.

In addition, some of the software includes flight planning as well as processing of the digital data once it has been acquired. Are you ready to upgrade your drone? Check out drones for sale.

It is good to keep in mind that for every day you spend in the field collecting information, you’ll spend at least two days at your computer in processing the information. You’ll spend even more if you use the data in the future for additional purposes, such as creating models for games or building simulations. 


DroneDeploy’s UAV mapping software is often the first mapping software that people use after they buy their first drone. It offers more tools and options than many of the software packages that come with the drones, and has the huge advantage of having a free “lite” version. With DroneDeploy, you can upload your data to the cloud. DroneDeploy gives you four main categories of images to choose from. Although they may not provide a wide array of options, they are easy and quick to use.
  •             Orthomosaics: Georeferenced, orthorectified
  •             Terrain models: Useful for topographic modeling. The maps have DSMs.
  •             NVDI analysis:  This is a “normalized difference vegetation index” that is used to identify live green vegetation. In this case, it is best to use a multispectral sensor.
  •             3D model:  DroneDeploy allows you to create rotatable 3D models and also point clouds.
Image: DroneDeploy
DroneDeploy is widely used in real estate, inspections, security, agricultural, and event management.  

Identified Technologies - https://www.identifiedtech.com/
Identified Technologies is a robust solution for individuals and companies that use the images for construction, large infrastructure projects, massive inspection activities and more. They work well for civil and environmental engineers, as well as construction and project managers. Their programs are ideal for project management because they allow one to evaluate progress.

For a wide range of industries, with customized solutions.
  • Change Detection Technology (CDT)
  • Truck IQ
  • Contour Line Map and Orthomosaic
  • 3D Volumetric Analysis
  • As Built vs As Planned Overlay
  • Excavation Progress Tracking
  • Highway Construction 3D Model
  • Watch Fly Through Video
  • All standard mapping formats
  • Boomerang
  • ·       3D Meshes
  • ·       Contours
  • ·       Digital Surface / DSM
  • ·       Orthomosaics

Pix4D is often the program of choice for individuals and companies that need an easy to use solution that can be customized for many different uses. They are the favorite of many surveying companies because of the granularity of the georeferencing. Each 3D point in a point cloud is georeferenced. Pix4D is very robust and can be used to develop high resolution maps for commercial, industrial, and personal use.
  • Pix4Dmapper Pro: photogrammetry software for professional drone-based mapping
  • Pix4Dcapture: Flight planning mobile app for optimal mapping data with your drone
  •             Android
  •             iOS
  •             Sorts most drones // basemaps – Google Earth or ArcGIS
  • Can use any handheld camera or drone
  • Optimized
  • Direct to cloud
  • Georeferenced down to each 3D point in the point cloud
  • rayCloud editor
  • 2D and 3D models, 3D point clouds, digital surface models, and orthomosaics
  • Surveying
  • Agriculture
  • Construction
  • Real Estate

Datumate has a number of advantages for companies and individuals who focus on photogrammetry. Their software is ideal for surveying and civil engineering purposes.  They even have a case study in which they use drone photogrammetry to create 3D images of a car accident for the report. What gives their software packages an advantage is ease of use and the fact that one can process volumetrics without having a constant internet connection. I do not know if it means that you have to download the package and run it on your computer or if you are emailed a link to download the solution when it is ready. In either case, it’s very appealing
  • DatuSurvey: Photogrammetry software for land surveying, construction, infrastructure
  • DatuSite: 3D mapping software for construction and infrastructure
  • DatuFly:  Drone app for land surveying and construction
  • Site Survey Solution:  Surveying suite for civil engineering 

ENVI (Harris Corporation) -  https://www.harris.com/solution/envi
Harris Corporation is a multi-billion dollar company that provides geographical systems support to FAA, NASA and the U.S. military.  They have provided imaging software for satellites for many years as well. Thus it is no surprise that their software for use with UAVs and drones is extremely robust and flexible.  Harris provides a wide array of industry-specific solutions, and they also allow one to integrate additional data sets with theirs, and to incorporate geographical information data sets from many different sources to build a robust, multi-layer geographical information system.

The cost of ENVI can be higher than other solutions, but if you are a company that provides analytical services, it would constitute the backbone of your business.  Large shipping, logistics, and transportation companies also use ENVI along with other integrated services.

More Software for a Future Post
Other notable image processing software for georeferenced, 3D, orthomosaics, point clouds, and more. I will review them in a future post.
End of Part 1.
Drones for Sale: https://www.wingsland.org/drones-for-sale

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