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CGI Can’t: Physics Fails In Film

Computer-generated imagery (CGI) is in more movies than you might think. Whether it’s enhancing a background, adding fog to breath, or even drawing Iron Man’s suit when he’s just standing around, it’s often invisible. If it’s done right, we barely even notice it.

But if it’s done wrong, it stands out. There are a lot of ways CGI can go wrong, but we’re going to focus on one thing: physics fails. In a physics fail, the CGI object is either way too light or way too heavy. When it interacts with real objects, the CGI does not have the right amount of weight or momentum. When a physics fail happens, it makes the audience painfully aware of how fake a movie is.

For example, nothing about this tank turret throw from Fantastic Four makes any sense whatsoever. How could a 500 lb rock monster anchor down several tons of steel? Why does the steel shatter? How come the impact doesn’t cause the nearby sand to scatter? Why does the blast fire out equally in all directions?

Sure, the Thing doesn’t exist, but for the space of 2 hours the movie is asking us to believe he could exist in a world like our own. Every time the CGI breaks the laws of physics, we get slapped in the face by reality.

Fantastic Four had comically bad CGI, but it’s far from the only movie with physics fails. Sometimes a physics fail happens for the sake of the plot, like with this incredibly lightweight helicopter because the effects team just didn’t bother to calculate for weight limitations.

Sometimes a physics fail is just the result when a fake object and a real object interact, like when the director forgets that a desk should wobble or tip when an elf jumps onto it.

So, how can directors make CGI better?
Well first, if they fail at physics, learn better physics.
Secondly, remember your audience is smarter than you think they are. Even a 12 year old can tell the difference between which scenes were shot on location and which action sequences were shot on a soundstage in Hollywood.
And lastly, keep it real. Be more creative and find ways to make the effects using real life elements, robotics, animatronics, puppets and other creative arts that brought Hollywood magic to life in the first place.

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Every Fraction and Decimal Matters at the NFL Combine

Every year at the end of February, the best college football players from the previous season head to Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine. The week-long event is used to determine many aspects of each player’s future — which team will draft him, which round he’ll be selected, and how much money he’ll make.

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The Combine requires players to participate in various workouts to demonstrate their athletic ability. These workouts include the 40-yard dash, agility drills, and various jumping tests.

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At the 2015 NFL Combine, Phillip Dorsett won $1 Million dollars from Adidas for running the 40 yard dash in 4.33 seconds!

Since so many amazing athletes participate in the Combine — and they’re all competing for the same prize, a spot on an NFL team — every tenth of a second and every fraction of an inch matters greatly.

Past outstanding performers at the Combine include many of the NFL’s current stars. Current New York Jets running back Chris Johnson ran a blazing 40-yard dash in 4.24 seconds in 2008. Johnson’s time is still the fastest recorded in the history of the Combine. Standout safety Eric Berry, of the Kansas City Chiefs, leaped 43.0 inches in the vertical jump at the 2010 Combine, the highest mark ever for a safety. Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, who was recently named the 2015-16 NFL MVP, was a top performer in both the 40-yard dash and the 3-cone drill at the 2011 Combine.

While not every player who performed well at the Combine went on to NFL stardom, many improved their draft stock by showing off their athleticism in Indianapolis. At this year’s Combine, stopwatches and measuring sticks will go a long way toward determining which players gain or cost themselves millions of dollars.

Ratios, Fractions, and Percentages with Finn from Adventure Time

The goal of this lesson is to introduce ratios and different ways of representing them using a picture of Finn’s many moods from the show Adventure Time. Students can also learn how to calculate percentages using ratios represented as fractions during this lesson.

The Math Behind the Music

In this lesson, students will learn about the fundamental musical concepts of meter and measure to analyze and understand the structure of their favorite songs. Taking it one step further, students will be shown how understanding song structure really just boils down to good old math!

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Adding It Up: How To Budget A Hollywood Film To Make A Profit

Hunger Games: Mocking Jay Part One was one of the highest grossing films of 2014, earning $713 million worldwide with a production budget of approx. $125 million.
You need to make a lot of money in comparison to your total budget, and that’s where things get tricky.
We know that big blockbuster films can make millions — sometimes billions — of dollars at the box office. But what you might not know is how much they cost to make, and how much they depend on huge global sales to make back all of the money they require not only to make the films (the actors, the creative professionals and crew behind-the-scenes, and the special effects, to name only a few) but to market them as well. In fact, just the marketing campaigns for major blockbusters can add tens of millions of dollars to the total budget to get the films talked-about and, hopefully, seen.

That means that you need to make careful calculations about how to spend money, even though at hundreds of millions of dollars, budgets can seem just about endless for major blockbusters. “A-list” acting and creative teams responsible for the production and post-production (including things like special effects and editing) are expensive, and after budgets and marketing costs are added up, even hundreds of millions in box office revenue may not be considered a true “hit.”

To be really successful, you need to have a high margin of profit — that means that just making a lot of money isn’t enough. You need to make a lot of money in comparison to your total budget, and that’s where things get tricky. The more big name actors, heart-pounding action, special effects, and other explosive, eye-catching aspects you have, the higher the budget, and the more you’ll need to make back later.

Paranormal Activity (2007), the most profitable movie of all time grossed nearly $200 million with from a shoestring budget of just $15,000. What percentage did they return on their investment?

That’s one reason why big-budget blockbusters tend to revolve around globally famous characters (like superheroes), big action sequences, and animation. All of these techniques are easy to alter and export from one country to the next by changing the language or inserting country-specific scenes (like these different references used in Captain America 2: Winter Soldier that appeal to different countries’ cultural events).

Do you have what it takes to plan a blockbuster that won’t make you go bust?

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The Legendary Black Card Explained

It is important to note that no matter what color credit card you sign up for, in order to keep your finances and your credit rating out of the red, you must spend wisely.
If you know what a credit card is and you listen to rap, follow celebrity gossip, or have dreams of becoming massively wealthy one day, chances are you know what the Visa Black Card is. Even the mention of this exclusive card is enough to make you wonder just how rich you have to be to get your hands on one. After all, there’s all this hype about the card that contributes to its mystique. Read further to unpack just how exclusive the card really is. Is it really that hard to get? What real perks does it offer?

In order to fully understand the Black Card and the celebrity status it promotes, you should understand the basic fundamentals of credit cards. Credit is an equation and it has two sides — the lender and the borrower. Having the ability to borrow money when you need it gives you flexibility and peace of mind. Still, and all too often, individuals borrow more than what they actually need and fail to pay it off. If you understand that you are being charged money to actually use this credit, many people might think twice before pulling out their plastic. If you understand how credit works, use it only when you need it (to stand in for cash you already have in the bank) and avoid having too much debt, you can call yourself financially responsible.   Many young people don’t realize that responsible use of credit can actually help a person reach their goals.

Basic terms you should be familiar with: Creditors and Debt. Those who lend you money are called lenders or creditors; the money you owe is called debt.

Back in the 1980’s, in the era when Gordon Gekko famously said in the movie “Wall Street” that “greed is good,” rumors were that there was a credit card issued by American Express that was capable of purchasing anything anywhere. An urban legend, the card was nearly impossible to get and was all black. In other words, it had no credit limit. Just to give a reference point, most credit cards range between $500.00 and $4,500.00 depending on your credit rating to start. Some banks won’t issue a credit card to a potential borrower with poor or no credit, for fear they will not be able to pay back the debt.

Black Card members have an average of around $16.3 million in assets and a household income of $1.3 million. But just because you meet those criteria, you still are not guaranteed an invitation. Your credit rating and spending habits will also be carefully studied to see if you are the right candidate for the card.
Instead of letting fantasy live in the minds of would be big spenders, in 1999, American Express decided to bring that dream to life. They took the elements of a powerful credit card and made a card that reflected all these from the color to the exclusivity. They called it the Centurion Card, but it more popularly known as the Black Card. Other creditors followed suite and issued exclusive Black Cards bearing their insignia.

So where do these celebrity flaunted cards with infinite spending power come from? What are the Black Card’s features? Who gets these cards? The fact is that not everyone can get the Black Card. The card is issued out by invitation only. You not only have to be affluent to be invited, but you have to be extremely rich. You’re not just in the who’s who social circle, you have to be part of the social elite.

A quick figure to help you understand: Black Card members have an average of around $16.3 million in assets and a household income of $1.3 million. OK, but just because you meet those criteria, you still are not guaranteed an invitation. Your credit rating (how responsible you are with your money) and spending habits will also be carefully studied to see if you are the right candidate for the card.

Once you are vetted, one of these creditors MIGHT send you an invitation to own a card. You might jump at the chance, thinking that it is just like other credit cards that offer incentives like free membership and zero fees. But in realty, the Black Card will charge you with massive dues and in some cases an initiation fee for those who wish to sign on with the card (in the United States, the fee is $7,500). In many cases there’s also an annual fee of $2,500.

Since the vast majority of us will not actually handle one of these cards, it’s fun to imagine what exclusivity feels like. For starters, the card is black and made of anodized titanium. Your information and numbers are imprinted in carbon fibre. The hard texture of the card actually makes it “clink” when one places it on the counter.

The proliferation of the Black Card’s mention in pop culture, brings to the surface the power trip associated with such cards, namely the Visa Black Card. One of the big draws for the card it it’s concierge service.  Imagine going on a spur of the moment vacation in  a private jet, with drivers lined up to take you from the airport to a local hotspot for some early partying before whisking you, and any new friends, to a world class dining experience.  Nice, huh?

It’s a good thing to use credit wisely and to not spend beyond your means. An overlooked fact is that credit card companies want your business, because they make a profit when you borrow. Although purchasing something, anything, with a credit card is easy, it is a practice that can come back and bite you in the end. It is important to note that no matter what color credit card you sign up for, in order to keep your finances and your credit rating out of the red, you must spend wisely.

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Every Fraction and Decimal Matters at the NFL Combine

Every year at the end of February, the best college football players from the previous season head to Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine. The week-long event is used to determine many aspects of each player’s future — which team will draft him, which round he’ll be selected, and how much money he’ll make.

The Combine requires players to participate in various workouts to demonstrate their athletic ability. These workouts include the 40-yard dash, agility drills, and various jumping tests.

At the 2015 NFL Combine, Phillip Dorsett won $1 Million dollars from Adidas for running the 40 yard dash in 4.33 seconds!

Since so many amazing athletes participate in the Combine — and they’re all competing for the same prize, a spot on an NFL team — every tenth of a second and every fraction of an inch matters greatly.

Past outstanding performers at the Combine include many of the NFL’s current stars. Current New York Jets running back Chris Johnson ran a blazing 40-yard dash in 4.24 seconds in 2008. Johnson’s time is still the fastest recorded in the history of the Combine. Standout safety Eric Berry, of the Kansas City Chiefs, leaped 43.0 inches in the vertical jump at the 2010 Combine, the highest mark ever for a safety. Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, who was recently named the 2015-16 NFL MVP, was a top performer in both the 40-yard dash and the 3-cone drill at the 2011 Combine.

While not every player who performed well at the Combine went on to NFL stardom, many improved their draft stock by showing off their athleticism in Indianapolis. At this year’s Combine, stopwatches and measuring sticks will go a long way toward determining which players gain or cost themselves millions of dollars.

Using Topological Data Analysis to Assess NBA Teams

The goal of this lesson is for students to use analytics, topological data analysis specifically, to assess a team’s likelihood of advancing to the 2014 NBA Finals. The lesson should also prompt students to think critically about analytics and determine both its strengths and weaknesses in making sports decisions.

Hacked: Mathematical Permutation and Internet Security

In this lesson, students take a closer look at the world of internet security while learning how to calculate permutations.

On Monday, April 23rd, The Associated Press’ Twitter account was hacked, and the following message was posted: Breaking – Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 150 points as a result of this tweet.

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Mashup Math: Learn How to Become a Remix DJ Using Algebra

Turn on the radio or surf YouTube for music, and you’re bound to run into a remix of a song you already know. Remixes of songs can change the music or beat or insert new verses by rappers (often to try to get a song more airplay — Nicki Minaj doesn’t get a quarter million for a verse for no reason!). Sometimes a DJ might combine two different songs to make a new work, sometimes called a “mash-up.” DJs like Girl Talk or DJ Earworm have become popular taking anywhere between two and twenty-five different songs and mashing them together into new ones.

The secret behind beat-matching is knowing the math.

What you might not know, though, is that remixing is a process that requires careful mathematical calculations. Every song has its own tempo, or speed, and usually songs that might sound like they share a tempo are still slightly different.  Beats per minute or BPM tells us  exactly how fast or slow a song is. If you try to put an element of one song on top of an element of another one — mixing and matching beats, rap verses, or melodies — you’ll find that songs with different BPMs won’t match, and what you’ll hear is a total mess.

Although some software will automatically “beat match” different songs, slowing down or speeding up two songs so that they have the same BPM, the secret behind beat-matching is knowing the math. What computer programs now do automatically, DJs once had to do themselves, slowing down or speeding up one song to match the tempo of another. By understanding how this math works, you’ll be one step closer to really knowing how popular remixes really work. What songs would sound better faster or slower? How much would you need to speed them up or slow them down to get the effect you’re looking for? These creative decisions would be impossible without the mathematical knowledge to back it up.