DVD REVIEW: BROADCHURCH SEASON 2

broadchurch

 

When Joe Miller confessed to killing school boy, Daniel Latimer at the end of Broadchurch Season One many viewers thought it was case closed. End of story. But the popular, award-winning TV show came back with a highly-anticipated follow-up which saw some of the old stylings combined with some new ideas. Overall, it was another exciting and interesting instalment to this crime drama.

The series is once again set in the tight-knit, seaside town the series is named after. It’s a small place but it is also one that is harbouring some big secrets. The community had already dealt with being participants in a murder investigation but fresh wounds are exposed on day one of Joe Miller’s (Matthew Gravelle) murder trial when he pleads “Not guilty” despite previously confessing to the crime.

The series is once again written by creator, Chris Chibnall who continues the central storyline of the first series. But in addition to the courtroom drama, he also adds another thread, the Sandbrook case or the one that previously plagued DI Alec Hardy (David Tennant (Doctor Who)) because it had been impossible to solve. This case had involved two young girls who were cousins, one that was found dead and the other missing and presumed dead. It is Hardy who is protecting Claire Ripley (Eve Myles (Torchwood)), the wife of the suspect (James D’Arcy) but she is not being completely forthcoming.

The ensemble cast from season one once again put in excellent performances. Tennant shines as the brash and socially awkward, Hardy while Olivia Colman plays his counterpart, DS Ellie Miller who has to grapple with her husband being a killer, a son who refuses to live with her and many other competing ideals. The Oscar-nominated, Marianne Jean-Baptiste plays Joe Miller’s cunning, Rottweiler-like defence lawyer while the graceful, Charlotte Rampling plays the clever retired prosecutor who is also facing her own health and family issues.

Broadchurch is once again a character-driven thriller. Chibnall does an excellent job of threading together many complex tapestries for his characters and the plot (which is not as exciting in this second serving but it is far more complicated). The scenes are beautifully-shot and add to the emotionally-wrought atmosphere, tension and drama. The brooding background is provided by excellent plot devices and Ólafur Arnalds’s dark soundtrack.

The special features on the DVD are a tad disappointing when compared to the series. There are special “making of” featurettes and interviews with the cast (except that the sound bites from the latter are often reused in the former).The advertisements by Tennant and Colman are rather unnecessary but the deleted scenes are compelling and do offer some insights into the show’s direction.

The second season of Broadchurch is another engaging, magnetic and stirring one. It manages to hook you in even when some of the events that transpire seem a tad improbable. Overall, this award-winning show builds on the shock, intrigue, twists and turns of its predecessor and it achieves the rare feat of keeping the viewer on their toes right until the very end.

 

Originally published on 29 May 2015 at the following website: http://www.impulsegamer.com/broadchurch-season-2-dvd-review/

Visit Impulse Gamer’s homepage at: http://www.impulsegamer.com/

BOOK REVIEW: FIONA MCCALLUM – LEAP OF FAITH

fiona

 

The capable, competitive and independent, Jessica Harrington had the world at her feet until she got injured doing a water jump with her horse, Prince. This accident sets off a series of events that causes her to re-evaluate her perspectives on things. Leap of Faith is ultimately a character-driven drama/romance which shows how one woman can confront her past and present demons in order to discover true love.

The novel is the seventh one by Australian writer, Fiona McCallum. Like the author’s other books, it is again set in the Adelaide Hills in South Australia. The prose is simple and easy to read but the plot is a little slow at times and there are moments where Jessica (the lead character/heroine) engages in far too much over-analysis and navel-gazing.

Harrington is very much a product of her late father, an elitist, competitive and overly-ambitious man who lived his life through his daughter. He was his daughter’s coach and mentor and he had big dreams for her. But when Jessica has an accident during the cross country, she loses her nerve. Shortly after this she makes a snap decision to get out of horses permanently. That is until her saintly husband, Steve, brings home an injured and malnourished horse named Faith. Jessica initially rejects the horse but she eventually softens over time.

Leap of Faith is a pleasant book and it is one that can appeal to people who aren’t natural horse lovers. The story is quite sweet at times as it takes in the themes of: love; courage; the power of second chances; and the importance of learning about yourself as an individual. Overall, this is a nice and engaging book that will enable you to while away a day or two.

 

***Please note: a free copy of this book was given to the writer through a The Reading Room giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit: https://www.thereadingroom.com/book/leap-of-faith/9380999/

DVD REVIEW: SILICON VALLEY SEASON 1

silicon

 

Silicon Valley is a TV show that takes a byte out of life in that American, computer wonderland, showing various male geeks working at large technological companies. The series is by Mike Judge (Beavis & Butt-head, King of The Hill) who actually worked as an engineer in Silicon Valley in the 1980s. This TV show is a satirical comedy-drama that is subtle, energetic and authentic.

The show stars Thomas Middleditch as Richard Hendrix. He is a shy computer programmer who gets easily flustered, especially in social situations where he is rather awkward. He designs a system called Pied Piper which allows users to check whether the music they’ve created has infringed on an existing copyright. That is a rather dull idea but what is more appealing is the data compression algorithm he designed as part of this because it has far greater possibilities.

This algorithm manages to fuel a bidding war between Hendrix’s boss Gavin Belson (Matt Ross) at Hooli (a company not unlike Google) and a venture capitalist named Peter Gregory (the late Christopher Evan Welch). Hendrix has no business acumen but he does have dreams of being the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates so he decides to start a company with the latter’s money and he recruits his quirky roommates along for the ride. They are the Satanist, Gilfoyle (Martin Starr (Freaks & Geeks), the acid-tongued Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) and the well-meaning, Big Head (Josh Brener).

This group all live in a house that is owned by the arrogant and outspoken, Erlich (T.J. Miller) who sold his start-up company for some money a few years ago. But these days he’s quite happy to sit on his laurels and exploit his tenants by taking 10% of the earnings made from their passion projects. As these techno-geeks have no business plan or experience, they also recruit the worldly, Jared (Zach Woods (The Office (US))) to help. The episodes look at everything from having to make a deal with another company in order to retain their organisation’s name to dull parties by large corporate entities (which Kid Rock and Flo Rida make cameos and perform at) to designing a company logo that won’t offend people.

Silicon Valley is a funny and vibrant show. Like Frontline and The Office, it satirises the work environment and makes some very clever observations. Across the eight episodes in season one we see these young whiz kids wanting to succeed like other geeks have even though they’re only starting out and things are never simple. In short, this is an insightful and smart character-driven comedy that will appeal to wider audiences than just that select few who can program in five different languages.

 

 

Originally published on 27 May 2015 at the following website: http://iris.theaureview.com/2015/05/27/dvd-review-silicon-valley-season-1-usa-2015/

Visit The Iris’ homepage at: http://iris.theaureview.com/

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BOOK REVIEW: LI FENG – FORGED FROM SILVER DOLLAR

lifeng

 

Forged From Silver Dollar is a family memoir by Li Feng that could also be renamed, Who Do You Think You Are? The story focuses on four generations of women in Feng’s family (including the author herself). It is the ultimate, underdog tale that chronicles the deprivation, humiliation, hunger and homelessness that these strong women endured and their later triumphs over adversity.

Feng’s story is an inspiring and epic one. It is set in Mao’s China and it describes his rise and downfall. Feng does an excellent job of providing the historic context and backdrop in which her family lived in as well as weaving in her own personal account and story.

The tale begins with the formidable “Silver Dollar” who was sold into a loveless marriage at age 12. She was subjected to abuse and a difficult life thanks to her mother-in-law but her triumph was that she raised three independent and successful sons, Fu, Shou Shan and Shou. Her second son, Shou Shan was a wealthy landlord who would be later executed by communist forces but he did marry another resilient woman in Ming Xiu. The latter had five children of her own with Shou Shan and was forced with the devastating decision of having to separate and adopt out multiple kids after his death.

Ming Xiu did retain custody of her daughter Rong who suffered from ill-health, poverty and being declared a social outcast. Eventually Rong would channel a lot of optimism and energy into being a tiger mum and expecting the best from her daughter, the book’s author, Li Feng. The latter had to employ unconditional sacrifice and absolute mental focus at her mother’s direction and she did succeed, both in her birthplace of Chengdu, China and her adopted home of Australia.

Forged From Silver Dollar is a dramatic story that features the trials and tribulations of four smart and resilient women who overcame the odds to flourish. The story is heart-breaking but also easy-to-read and informative and the simple yet poetic prose does hook you in. Forged From Silver Dollar is ultimately an exciting and inspiring read about love, loss and inner strength.

 

***Please note: a free copy of this book was given to the writer through a The Reading Room giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit: https://www.thereadingroom.com/book/forged-from-silver-dollar/9230494

LIVE REVIEW: HOODOO GURUS’ BE MY GURU, EVOLUTION REVOLUTION @ THE POWERHOUSE MUSEUM (22.05.2015)

hoodoo-gurus

 

The Hoodoo Gurus’ retrospective Vivid event, Be My Guru, Evolution Revolution, was an extraordinary, multimedia concert experience from no ordinary band. A rotating lineup of the eight past and current members of the Hoodoo Gurus (save for new recruit, Nik Rieth) rocked up a storm at the Powerhouse Museum, toasting to a frenzied and fun-packed 28 years.

The concert was held in the temporary exhibitions hall (which did wreak some havoc with the acoustics) and some exhibits had been set up about the band, including vintage guitars belonging to Dave Faulkner and Brad Shepherd, and Rick Grossman’s precision bass that he used with the Gurus as well as Divinyls and Matt Finish. There were also posters chronicling every one of Faulkner’s bad haircuts, as well as VIP passes, setlists, signed memorabilia, vinyl, CDs, clothing and two dinosaur figures from the Stoneage Romeos era.

For the two-hour show itself, songs were played mostly chronologically and with limited introduction. Stoneage Romeos and Mars Needs Guitars! got the most airtime, but the Gurus – laidback and cool – made the whole set seem so enjoyable and effortless. Songs like ‘Arthur’ and ‘(Let’s All) Turn On’ saw the guys acting like young rebel rousers and trading dirty blues riffs. The exuberant pop of ‘Like Wow – Wipeout’ and ‘What’s My Scene?’ whipped the crowd into a frenzy. ‘Bittersweet’, meanwhile, seemed both vibrant and apt, as this was the last chance fans would have to see the retiring Mark Kingsmill at the drums.

The diehard fans were treated to rarities like ‘Snake Shake’, while the newer ‘Crackin’ Up’ was electric. But the most spine-chilling energy came when all eight members – Faulkner, Shepherd, Kingsmill, Grossman, Roddy Radalj, James Baker, Clyde Bramley and Kimble Rendall – joined together for three encores. Despite the difficulties with the venue, the whole show was like being on an out-of-control nostalgia train. In the end, Vivid Sydney proved to be the right time for the Gurus’ trip through history.

 

Originally published on 25 May 2015 at the following website: http://thebrag.com/music/hoodoo-gurus-powerhouse-museum

Visit The Brag’s homepage at: http://thebrag.com/

BOOK REVIEW: SARA GRUEN – AT THE WATER’S EDGE

atthewater's edge

 

On paper, Sara Gruen’s novel, At The Water’s Edge holds a lot of promise. The book is by the same, famous author who penned Water for Elephants and Ape House. Plus, the plot itself has an original premise, three socialites travel to Scotland to find the Loch Ness Monster during World War II. Unfortunately at its worst, the book can be as disappointing as an unsuccessful attempt to find ol’ Nessie.

The story begins with three smug and entitled rich kids disgracing themselves on New Year’s Eve in 1942. These actions result in the couple- the witless Ellis, the weak, Maddie along with their friend, Hank being cut off by the former’s father, the bank-rolling Colonel. The latter is disappointed in his son, not least because the young man cannot serve in the war because he is colour blind.

The trio hatch a plan, if they can survive U-boat attacks and make it to Scotland, they can attempt to do what the Colonel failed, to find the Loch Ness Monster. Along the way they encounter an interesting cast of Scottish characters who teach Maddie real humility and allow her to gain a greater appreciation for ordinary things and the harsher realities of war. It is through these lessons that she discovers that her marriage is a sham, her husband is a drunk and an addict and she gets the courage to become her own, independent woman.

Gruen’s writing is excellent, there is some very vivid imagery and descriptive prose. The characters could have been made a little more likeable or they could have had some extra weight added to them (at times this book feels like little more than three fish out of water). Some of the elements in the plot require a major suspension of disbelief while other parts are plodding and predictable.

At The Water’s Edge is pleasant and it knits together some different genres, like historic fiction, a gothic romance, a tale of redemption and at times even an adventure story. But there are points when things are a little too subtle and aimless which prevent things from really sticking, overall. There are some people who may like this dark and unusual tale that is set in a lush verdant environment, but one can’t help but think that there should’ve been a little something more here, but perhaps this was lost in the depths of a Scottish river.

 

***Please note: a free copy of this book was given to the writer through a The Reading Room giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit: https://www.thereadingroom.com/book/at-the-water-s-edge/9176280/

DVD REVIEW: THE ADVENTURES OF PADDINGTON BEAR COLLECTION

paddington

 

For such a little bear, the marmalade-eating Paddington sure has some big adventures. This kind-hearted, innocent and naive creature often finds himself as a stranger trying to negotiate his way through an odd land, even though this situation also fuels his sense of natural curiosity and enthusiasm (which is infectious). This means that what often ensues is a series of fun adventures, the odd misadventure and some very happy results.

Paddington first appeared in a book by Michael Bond. These have now sold more than 35 million copies and have been translated into 40 different languages. Last year Paddington made his silver screen debut while his small screen debut was in 1975. This early series featured a largely silent Paddington (save for the narrator) with an actual teddy bear used for the stop-start animation. He would then make his 2D cartoon debut in England.

The Adventures of Paddington Bear Collection sees 15 episodes combined together on a three-disc set that contains no special features. This cartoon series was produced by a French/Canadian company and 117 episodes would air from 1997. The animation here isn’t as polished as more contemporary animation examples but it is still beautiful and nice enough to watch and it also manages to stay faithful to the source material, despite being produced overseas.

This charming bear’s tales are mostly based on Bond’s stories although some plot lines have been added. These stories are mostly rather short and sweet (often checking in at under the ten minute mark). This adaptation of Paddington shows a bear that likes to be in the thick of things and he carries the story by telling it all in a mostly first person way. This really helps viewers relate to him and engage and get inside his head.

Paddington’s adventures include trips to Japan, Egypt, Australia, China and France, among other places. There are also some misadventures like going to a birthday dinner at an expensive restaurant, working to earn money (with some silly results) and riding the underground. A lot of it still feels quintessentially English and is witty and subtle. The content itself is most suited to children aged four to seven but the combination of wholesome entertainment and clever humour mean it could also appeal to people of all ages.

One downside to this set is that the story doesn’t start at the actual beginning, it is only alluded to. We don’t see Paddington leaving darkest Peru and meeting the Brown family at the London train station he is named after. This means the viewer misses a little something and has to fill in the gaps because this series should have set up the story of a family that get a little more than they bargained for. Despite this, Paddington is like a pillar of goodness (and this is obvious in his interactions with the villainous neighbour, Mr Curry).

Paddington Bear is a character that’s hard not to love because he is so charming and cute. In fact, most people would probably love to give him a bear hug after some of his misadventures. But at the end of the day he is always the hero and this sweet bear with a big-heart manages to make us laugh and cry. He will also teach your children well and entertain them and that’s all that really matters.

 

Originally published on 20 May 2015 at the following website: http://www.impulsegamer.com/adventures-paddington-bear-collection-dvd-review/

Visit Impulse Gamer’s homepage at: http://www.impulsegamer.com/

INTERVIEW: PROFESSOR TAMARA MUNZNER (UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA) & THE CSIRO’S CHRISTIAN STOLTE

TamaraMunzner-UBCSynergy2010Nov (1)

Photo credit: Janis Franklin

 

Visualisations have saved lives. In an increasingly complex, data-driven world they are becoming especially useful at helping people understand complex things. Vivid Sydney is playing host to a visualisation masterclass which will see the likes of Tamara Munzner, a professor at the University of British Columbia and the CSIRO’s Christian Stolte, come together to teach students about the principles and methods for creating great visualisations. The AU Review sat down with the Senior Bioinformatics Visualization Specialist, Christian Stolte and Professor Munzner to learn more about their work…

Professor Munzner has worked across a range of different domains including: genomics, evolutionary biology, geometric topology, computational linguistics, large-scale system administration, web log analysis, and journalism, to name a few. During this interview we were able to learn more about visualisations and their power to unlock and crystallise important information.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

Tamara Munzner (TM): I got started in visualization in the early 1990s as technical staff at a mathematical visualization research group called The Geometry Center. Our big software project was Geomview, an interactive 3D visualization system that supported non-Euclidean geometry and 4D projections. The two major videos that I helped to create were Outside In, about turning a sphere inside out, and The Shape of Space, about spaces that are finite but have no boundary. I decided that research was the One True Way and that I should get a PhD to be able to keep doing it, and ended up at Stanford in Pat Hanrahan’s group from 1995 to 2000. I changed my focus a bit to information visualization, where the big question is how to visually represent non-spatial data. My timing was very good: 1995 was my first year there and also the year that the InfoVis conference started, so I’ve attended every one. After a few years in a research lab, I emigrated to Canada to become a professor at the University of British Columbia. I’ve been in Vancouver since 2002.

What can audience members expect to learn at the Data Visualisation masterclass?

Christian Stolte (CS): Our goal is to give people a good overview of the principles, methods, and tools for creating great visualisations.

In your opinion, what are some of the biggest mistakes people are making with visualisations and their treatment of big data?

TM: Using color correctly is very tricky, because the way that people tend to think about it from a computer graphics point of view doesn’t serve you well when you’re trying to encode information visually. People are often over-eager to use 3D for nonspatial data; it’s best suited for spatial data when the task involves understanding its intrinsic shape.

Programming languages like R and software like Tableau are becoming common methods for preparing visualisations. What programming languages and/or software would you recommend?

TM: Those two are a great start. The next obvious place to go D3: browser-based visualization with Javascript has become wildly popular.

Will people attending the Data Visualisation Masterclass be learning any programming languages or software? What level are you pitching the class?

CS: We won’t have enough time to get into any programming language in-depth, but we will go over some examples in R and JavaScript. That said, programming is not the main focus of the class, but we want to make people aware that you can achieve much more effective results by teaming up with a programmer.

Can you give us an example of where data visualisations have really helped in telling an important story or presenting important results?

CS: Scientific journals are full of examples, but to cite one that actually helped save lives, there was John Snow’s map of cholera cases in the London epidemic of 1854: it allowed him to trace the origin of the outbreak to a contaminated water pump. See below.

 

WATERPUMP

 

If an analyst is presented with and overwhelmed by a huge data set are there any suggestions you can offer in terms of tackling the task of visualisations?

TM: A single view doesn’t have to be all things to all people. A powerful approach to visualization is to have multiple linked views, where each them is showing different aspects of the data and they’re linked together with shared highlighting, so that you can see where the same items fall in the different visual encodings.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell the readers of The AU Review about the Data Visualisation Masterclass, big data and visualisations, etc.?

TM: People who want to understand more about visualization might like to check out my new book, Visualization Analysis and Design. It provides a systematic, comprehensive framework for thinking about visualization in terms of principles and design choices. The book features a unified approach encompassing information visualization techniques for abstract data, scientific visualization techniques for spatial data, and visual analytics techniques for interweaving data transformation and analysis with interactive visual exploration. It emphasizes the careful validation of effectiveness and the consideration of function before form.

Here are a few recent systems:

Vismon is a visual tool for fisheries data analysis. The input is a simulation with two input parameters (the management options) and several output indicators. The purpose of Vismon is to help decision makers to quickly narrow down all possible management options to only few that are agreeable to all stakeholders. Then, a detailed trade-off among the few chosen management options can be performed.

MizBee is a multiscale browser for exploring relationships between chromosomes between different species using comparative genomics data. Using side-by-side linked views, MizBee enables efficient data browsing across a range of scales, from the genome to the gene.

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Tamara Munzner and Christian Stolte will appear at the Data Visualisation Masterclass at the University of Sydney for Vivid Festival on June 8. For more information and tickets please visit: http://www.vividsydney.com/event/ideas/data-visualisation-masterclass or datavismasterclass.org
For more information about Tamara Munzner’s book, “Visualization Analysis and Design” please refer to:http://www.cs.ubc.ca/~tmm/vadbook/

More information on Vismon can be found at: http://www.vismon.org/

More information on MizBee can be found at: http://www.cs.utah.edu/~miriah/mizbee

 

Originally published on 19 May 2015 at the following website: http://www.theaureview.com/interviews/professor-tamara-munzner-the-csiros-christian-stolte-discuss-how-to-create-great-visualisations

Visit The Au Review’s homepage at: http://www.theaureview.com/

INTERVIEW: DIGIZYME COFOUNDER, DR GAEL MCGILL

gael

 

Image courtesy of Destination NSW.

 

A picture tells a thousand words. And no one knows this better than Digizyme-cofounder, Gael McGill. Doctor McGill is an academic who has worked as a research fellow at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School. He has also specialised in producing scientific 3D and vector-based visualisations, something that is becoming increasingly more important as our world is driven by big-data.

Gael McGill will be speaking and teaching at the Data Visualisation masterclass at Sydney’s Vivid festival in June. He will be joined by Tamara Munzner, a professor at the University of British Columbia’s Department of Computer Science. The AU Review sat down with Dr. McGill to learn more about idiosyncrasies in the human visual perception system and how visualisations can help people understand the ‘big picture’ summary of a complex process.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

Cell and molecular biology have been my passion since my middle school days in Paris and my dream was to be involved in cancer research. I came to the USA for my undergraduate studies specifically for molecular biology but was also interested in combining art & design with my passion for science, so I graduated from Swarthmore College with highest honors in Biology, Art History and Music.

I did my Ph.D. and postdoctoral research at Harvard Medical School and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute (focusing on cancer signal transduction pathways and apoptosis). During my PhD years, having identified a need in the local academic, medical, biotech/pharma communities for “scientifically-informed” graphic design, programming, animation and data visualization services, I started my company Digizyme (www.digizyme.com) in 1999 while completing my degree. Since then Digizyme has grown to offer a variety of services and products for high profile clients such as Apple, Genenech, Novartis, WGBH, and many other biotech/pharma companies – projects include digital textbooks, multimedia for museums, marketing/communication for life sciences companies, science curricula and visualization software tools and training. Our team members all combine graduate-level training in the life sciences with industry-leading skills in design and animation – this allows us to innovate at the intersection of science, technology, art and learning/education.

Currently I am also a faculty/principal investigator at Harvard Medical School where I do educational research on design in scientific visualization and, since 2006, I have also been teaching the scientific visualization curriculum I created and have made available on the website molecularmovies.com. In June 2015, I will launch a new scientific visualization portal called Clarafi.com which offers high quality training and software tools for scientists interested in creating their own visualizations.

What can audience members expect to learn at the Data Visualisation masterclass?

In my section – ‘The Power & Danger of Storytelling in Scientific Visualization’ – I will provide many examples of how visualization can help us gain an intuition for otherwise complex and messy processes. In many cases, visualizations ‘seed’ our mental models of science and, in doing so, impact the very questions we ask and the research we do. It is therefore important to recognize both the power and potential danger in crafting scientific visualizations. Practically speaking, I also hope to introduce participants to some of the great tools and techniques that we have borrowed and repurposed from the entertainment industry.

In your opinion, what are some of the biggest mistakes people are making with visualisations and their treatment of big data?

It’s hard to generalize since design decisions are so specific to the data at hand, the goal of the visualization and the target audience… Perhaps one example, especially in the case of narrative-driven, ‘immersive’ scientific visualizations/animations, is when aesthetics appears to be the leading design parameter (sometimes at the expense of scientific accuracy and clarity). I don’t believe one has to sacrifice one for the other. Oversimplification can also be a problem… I am very interested in my research in how we can use design to manage the depiction of scientific complexity.

Programming languages like R and software like Tableau are becoming common methods for preparing visualisations. What programming languages and/or software would you recommend?

Depends on the result you are trying to achieve. For clean, vector-based visualizations, tools like Processing have been very popular. For the kind and variety of images, interactives, simulations and animations we created for a project like the ‘Life on Earth’ iBook, tools range from HTML5 to some of the workhorses of the entertainment industry like Autodesk Maya, The Foundry’s modo, Pixologic’s Zbrush and the Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, etc).

Will people attending the Data Visualisation Masterclass be learning any programming languages or software? What level are you pitching the class?

Yes – but since some of the software we use is both extremely powerful and also comes with a steep learning curve, the aim is to provide enough of an introduction so that participants know whether or not they want to invest additional time to learn. Nobody masters 3D animation software in one afternoon or day… but it is possible to gain a very good feel for the capabilities of the software and whether or not it is the right tool for depicting your science.

 

CellularLandscape_Digizyme

 

What do you think are the biggest issues facing companies in the field of analytics, visualisations and data analysis?

From a business perspective, a big question is whether or not the company wants to be a service-based company or one that develops products (be they content-driven products or software tools/resources). As a service-based business, finding clients and projects that can sustain the budgets necessary to do great work can be challenging… but it is wonderful that there is a fascinating and endless list of visualization challenges one is faced with. For the product-based business, developing high-quality content can be a real challenge in an era where many people somehow feel that content is free and ubiquitous.

What are some of the pitfalls humans face in terms of their visual perception?

As we know there are all kinds of interesting idiosyncrasies to the human visual system… but I tend not to think of them as pitfalls or weaknesses but rather opportunities to be used in design. In other words, by understanding these we can better manipulate or manage the viewers’ attention and guide them through visual stories or other data-rich displays.

Can you give us an example of where data visualisations have really helped in telling an important story or presenting important results?

Sure – there are many. One of Digizyme’s strengths is in molecular animation and we have created dynamic visualizations that piece together structural and dynamic data from many disparate data sources. In that sense, a visualization can become a knowledge synthesis exercise that helps scientists or students grasp the ‘big picture’ of a complex process. For example, we created a visualization of the Death-Inducing Signalling Complex (DISC) that gives viewers a sense of the step-by-step dynamic assembly process of this 20+ protein complex. We felt that both an animation and a static diagram was most effective to communicate this process: http://www.digizyme.com/genentech.html

This type of knowledge synthesis does not always have to be a dynamic visualization – we designed the popular ‘Human Pathways in Cancer’ poster that summarizes several key signal transduction pathways in cancer while highlighting the extensive amount of crosstalk that occurs between such pathways: http://www.digizyme.com/cst_cancerposter.html

We also created cellular landscapes that showcase the great structural diversity of molecular components but also organize these in a way that viewers can navigate interactively:http://media.cellsignal.com/www/html/science/landscapes/mitochondria/mit…

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Gael McGill will appear at the Data Visualisation Masterclass at the University of Sydney for Vivid Festival on June 8. For more information and tickets please visit: http://www.vividsydney.com/event/ideas/data-visualisation-masterclass or datavismasterclass.org

 

Originally published on 19 May 2015 at the following website: http://www.theaureview.com/interviews/digizyme-cofounder-gael-mcgill-describes-how-visualisations-can-help-with-complex-processes

Visit The Au Review’s homepage at: http://www.theaureview.com/

INTERVIEW: DAVE FAULKNER (HOODOO GURUS, PERSIAN RUGS & THE VICTIMS)

davefaulkner

 

Dave Faulkner is considered part of Australia’s musical royalty. The Hoodoo Gurus frontman and member of Persian Rugs, The Victims and other rock bands is a funny and articulate character who knows a lot about music. His hits, “What’s My Scene?” and “Like Wow-Wipeout” plus a larger overall discography including work on various film soundtracks and commercials is all very varied and exciting to listen to and shows what a highly creative individual this man is.

Sydney’s Vivid Festival will see Messer Faulkner at not one but two events. On Friday and Saturday night he will be gracing the boards at a mammoth tribute to the Hoodoo Gurus where all members past and present will come together to play one last time. On June 2 he will also be at Vivid Ideas with Megan Washington, Mick Harvey, Shane Nicholson and Zan Rowe to discuss and reminisce about his experiences in music and with songwriting. The AU Review sat down with Dave Faulkner to learn about how he writes music, what advice he can offer aspiring artists and what song he wishes he’d written.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your music? What made you become a musician?

I was obsessed with music all my life and it never occurred to me to do anything else. I joined my first professional band in Perth when I was 18 years old.

What can audiences expect from The Vivid Event- In Conversation: Great Australian Songwriters?

Hopefully they’ll get an insight into the process of songwriting and the unique approaches used by each of the speakers. There is no right or wrong way to write a song but how we all do it (or did it) might be interesting.

Who are you most excited to hear speak on the panel? Why?

Personally I look forward to hearing Shane Nicholson’s perspective. The world of country and roots music is probably a bit different to the one I’ve experienced so I’m curious to hear his “war stories”.

What is your favourite song you’ve written? Why?

It’s not my favourite but I always use ‘What’s My Scene?’ as a kind of “textbook example” of what I look for when I’m writing a song: strong melody, heaps of energy and a healthy dollop of personal truth expressed in economical, comprehensible lyrics.

How do you write songs? Do you start with the music or the lyrics first?

I’m mostly a music-first guy. The majority (by a small margin) of songwriters are like me. In the old songwriting teams (people like Rodgers & Hammerstein) the musician was always mentioned first because that was the usual order that their songs were written too.

What advice would you give aspiring songwriters?

You shouldn’t be too critical when you’re beginning a song, let it develop naturally. Later on, when you’re finishing the song, you can’t be critical enough.

What are the ingredients to a “good” song?

Truth and freshness. The truth part is obvious, the freshness has to be in the melody, the way the sentiments are expressed, all of what makes the song unique.

What song do you wish you’d written and why?

Happy birthday. I’d be rich! Rich, I tell you!!

Paul Dempsey once wrote, “You’re not the first to think that everything has been thought before”. What things do you do to make sure your music and writing is fresh and exciting?

I trust my “internal barometer”. If it floats my boat, I’m happy.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell the readers of The AU Review about the Vivid In Conversation or your upcoming projects, etc.?

Music still thrills me. There is so much amazing stuff out there to discover, from the past, present and future.

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Dave Faulkner is appearing at the “In Conversation: Great Australian Songwriters” and “Be My Guru, Evolution Revolution – The Hoodoo Gurus” at Sydney’s Vivid Festival. For more information and tickets please visit: http://www.vividsydney.com/event/ideas/apra-amcos-and-abc-music-publishing-present-conversation-great-australian-songwriters or http://www.vividsydney.com/event/music/be-my-guru-evolution-revolution-hoodoo-gurus

 

Originally published on 19 May 2015 at the following website: http://www.theaureview.com/interviews/hoodoo-gurus-dave-faulkner-talks-about-songwriting-reminisces-about-a-brilliant-career-in-music

Visit The Au Review’s homepage at: http://www.theaureview.com/

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