Are you here to kill my little girl?
No. Ma'am, no!
Labels: The Reaping
Orange. Does a body good.
When I want your opinion, I'll give it to you.
This blog is rated NC-17. Really.
Labels: The Reaping
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The album cover -- once a crucial part of any band's identity -- has been dying a slow death for decades. For the most part, music fans put up with the shrinkage of album art from expansive vinyl records to hand-size plastic jewel cases. But with the music experience moving almost exclusively online, album art has suffered another compression -- this time all the way down to thumbnail images. (Worse still -- they're missing from most of the music files we've all ripped and downloaded.)But music label designers are working to raise the album cover back up to an art form. They're experimenting with new tools and hatching plans to reinvent album art for the digital age, all while weathering the tectonic shifts that ultimately rule the music industry.As things stand now, designers face challenges due to the size restrictions on album art images. "Bands still have a romantic notion that their art is going to be 12 inches by 12 inches -- a glossy LP, a glorious image," says Maggie Fost, designer for Merge Records. "But when I design an album cover, I come up with some design elements -- and then zoom all the way out to 50 pixels by 50 pixels. Because on blogs, on Amazon, on iTunes -- everywhere people see it is the same (small size)."All this comes at a time when bands need good album art more than ever. They're playing in an increasingly crowded arena with less support from the labels. In fact, Brian Stuhlmacher, president of cddesign.com (a division of his DiscMasters company), points out that album art often helps fill the image-building vacuum left by labels, which are investing less in promoting artists."(The major labels) have broken away from something that they were extremely good at in the past, which was the development of their particular act or artist," says Stuhlmacher. "They now tend to sign (a bunch of) acts and throw them against the wall of radio and basically see what sticks."Places like cddesign.com are working with artists and labels to figure out the next phase of album design. Some of the ideas (like online contests that interact with music listeners) sound straight out of a manual for advanced web design; others (like liner-note fly-throughs and DVD-style menus) have the potential to offer more information in a more compelling way.George White, Warner Music Group's senior VP of strategy and product development, put together a digital packaging demo for Apple to re-imagine album artwork as more than a JPEG on an iPod."We've been looking at a few technologies (for digital album art), and have been trying to bring these to Apple, to encourage them to bring that level of experience to the iPod," says White. "A very simple demonstration that we've done takes the Gnarls Barkley liner notes and does a fly-through (using Adobe Flash Lite). You're actually moving through the lyrics and artwork. It's sort of like a theme park ride through the album. It's really, really cool-looking on an iPod."(Apple did not respond to questions about whether it's considering any of Warner Music Group's suggestions.)White also pointed to Warner's Wamo pack, which gave Japanese cell phone users digital albums with ringtones, video, full tracks and artist interviews. Wamo packs aren't new -- they launched overseas a year ago. But White says Warner plans to produce more of these bundles. He also mentioned that while Wamo packs use Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language, or SMIL, for their interactive menus, Adobe's Flash Lite would be a better candidate for "the level of sophistication people expect from Warner Music Group's artists."(Adobe confirmed that Warner's iPod/Flash Lite demonstrations had taken place, but said that the company "has not announced any joint plans for Flash or Flash Lite to be used in next-generation digital albums.")Once digital artwork plays on computers and portables, White said, the next phase will involve the possibilities of home entertainment equipment. "If you move that content over to your Xbox 360, your PS3, or your Wii, is there more that we can do in terms of interactivity? Is there better artwork? There's certainly high-definition artwork that you can introduce at that point."Because of all the players involved, the future of album art depends on which digital packaging formats emerge as standards for computers, portable devices and televisions. White thinks that when it comes to deploying new digital album packages, there's no time like the present, and that an open standard will emerge on its own."There's no reason why this stuff can't be scalable across the industry. That's what we'd like to push for ... by creating some really compelling content.... Others will copy it, and a de facto standard will emerge," White explains.Fost agrees, adding that "the digital art issue will resolve itself probably within the next couple of years." But she worries about the indie labels. For them, "It's still an issue of design resources," Fost says, especially because they already design about 15 versions of each album cover because of all the different formats and promotional materials.Fans could fill in the gap by providing some of that content through contests and other collaborative efforts, of course. "Hopefully, this will reach a point where the artist themselves can create multimedia experiences" to accompany a digital album, says Jadon Ulrich, designer for Saddle Creek Records.Ultimately, digital packaging could reinvent the album cover, finally taking advantage of the digitization of music not for added convenience, but for advanced possibilities. The MTV generation, which grew up deprived of large album covers, could get the last laugh after all.
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Slumdog Millionaire is an unabashedly swooning romantic fairy tale, a love letter to the bright colors and outsized complications of India's cities, its storytelling, and its cinema. It takes place in Boyle's usual deterministic world of contrivance and coincidence; it's no surprise that Boyle seized upon Vikas Swarup's bestselling book Q&A; as something he wanted to adapt to film. But for all the darkness Patel encounters along his road, Slumdog is a relentlessly positive, joyously sentimental adventure, best summed up in the breathtaking Bollywood-esque dance number that arrives over the closing credits. Boyle's eye for beautiful images and fast-driving sequences is as sharp as ever, but here for once, they pen his stars into experiences they might have wished to avoid, but that lead them exactly where they want to go.
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