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LanceLetter - Super Bowl Camera Work; iCar No; SpaceX Crash; Neflix

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LanceLetter

February 8 · Issue #216 · View online

Stuff that matters.


Written while digging out…Again

Picture Goals
I’m not a football person. Even this bizarre 2020 football season mostly passed under the radar for me (I’d occasionally read about a training camp or pre-matchup COVID outbreak). But even I got caught up in the Super Bowl 55 mania, especially because I wanted to see if the now 43-year-old Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady could do it again.
Spoiler-alert: He did, and, as the decided-early game dragged on, I started fixating on the camera work. There were all the typical overhead and play-action shots, but I took note of the occasional bokeh-effect (think Portrait mode) sideline video. The shallow-depth-of-field imagery gave those brief moments a sometimes cinematic feel. Other times they looked bizarre as people moved in and out of focus.
Apparently, this style of camera work started showing up earlier in the season on some Fox Sports broadcasts (the Super Bowl was on CBS). More interesting is that sideline videographer may be using a  Sony a7R IV DSLR fitted with a Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM lens on a DJI Ronin-S handheld gimbal. According to one story, it’s a $10k rig that is far less expensive than professional video camera. In addition, the cameras were never intended for live video streams.
My Twitter audience was split on the results. Some noticed it and loved the bokeh effect, others said it looked awful. My guess is we’ll be seeing a lot more of this kind of portrait mode videography on future sports matchups.
iCar Rises
I’ve never been a fan of or believed in the Apple ‘iCar,“ but the rumor won’t die, and recent reports suggest that this is more than some Apple fanboy’s fevered pipe dream. Apple may be about to dump a bunch of its excess cash into automaker Kia’s coffers. The current thinking has Kia building and Apple spreading tech magic all over an Apple/Kia branded car (all-electric, autonomy and Apple Car software, natch).
Maybe Apple will take this path, especially since Tesla is now too valuable to buy but I still have my doubts. Is there really an upside to an Apple car for Apple? Cars of all kinds must undergo rigorous safety and crash tests. Sure, Kia will handle all that, but if anything goes wrong with the car, if there’s even one deadly accident, it will be Apple’s head on a pike, not Kia’s.
Why does Apple need a headache like this?
The flip side is that Apple will finally have something you can step inside. Instead of Apple in your pocket, it will be you inside Apple. A car interior designed by Apple (oh, how they’ll miss Jony Ive here) could be incredible. Every surface and interaction will drive you (get it?) deeper into the wholistic Apple experience and, maybe, push consumers toward further Apple product purposes. I mean, no phone will work better with an Apple iCar than an iPhone. This might also be an opportunity for Apple to integrate Apple music with Sirius/XM satellite radio.
So, yeah, there are upsides, but I am still 70/30 that this is a big-fat not-gonna-happen.
[As I was finishing this, word came through that Kia/Hyundai and Apple were no longer talking but that doesn’t mean they won’t start again.]
Crashlanding
SpaceX now has two consecutive Starship prototype cash landings under its belt. The second test flight of a Starship prototype (this one dubbed SN9) was almost perfect. The retro-looking rocket blasted miles into the sky, tipped toward the ground, and then flipped itself around (nose to the sky) to land almost right back on the launchpad. However, as the SN10 rocket sat mutely nearby, SN9 wobbled, slammed into the ground and exploded in a red fireball. It was almost a replay of the last Starship test.
Instead of hanging its head in disappointment, SpaceX is dubbing this latest launch another success. Why? Telemetry. Each launch and, yes, each crash. gives them so much data, all of which will help the space company eventually perfect the flight and landing.
We may see one or more crash landings (or maybe not if the FAA is now investigating), but SpaceX will eventually get this right and, one day, astronauts will be flying the SpaceX Starship to Mars.
It’s Netflix’s game
22 nominations, that’s how many Golden Globe nominations the streaming giant amassed last week, a number far exceeding nearest competitor, Amazon. That’s right, the second largest number of noms went to another streamer (it got 7).
Leaving aside the mess that is the Golden Globes categories (The Fight Attendant is neither a musical nor a straight-up comedy), this outcome isn’t surprising. We’re not going to the movies and those TV shows, limited series and, especially, films we do see are all through these streaming platforms.
As I was reading about all these films that launched on Netflix and other platforms or played in just a handful of movie theaters but were simultaneously offered on demand through YouTube, Apple, and HBOMax, among others, I also participated in an entertaining Twitter thread. Someone on the social platform asked people to name the major films they’d seen in theaters. They meant event films and the listing of such was intended as a sort of flex. As a long-time cinephile, I dove right in. I’ve been going to the movies since the early 70s and saw virtually all the major blockbusters of the late 20th century on the big screen.
While I had fun making my list, it also made me a little sad, realizing how this generation and future ones will probably not have that shared experience of discovering a life-changing film while sitting among hundreds of strangers. Our "big screens” are our big TVs and the box office is our streaming boxes.
That’s unlikely to change
Stay warm
Stay well
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