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Bates Motel: The Original Psycho is Back

The Slasher horror-movie genre started with him—at the exact moment he yanked back that famous shower curtain. He is one of a handful of characters that forever changed film audiences’ expectations. He is Norman Bates and during the 53 years since he first appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s shock-thriller masterpiece, Psycho, film audiences still can’t get him off of our minds.
Norman-Bates-2013
A new Norman for a new age: Freddie Highmore shines as a young Norman Bates in A&E’s Bates Motel.

“How well we remember Norman Bates,” wrote film critic Roger Ebert. “Tens of thousands of movie characters have come and gone…and yet he still remains so vivid in the memory, such a sharp image among all the others that have gone out of focus.”

And now Norman’s back, in a wildly imaginative franchise reboot of sorts called Bates Motel.

Back to Before the Beginning
The new A&E series is earning rave reviews for giving us the Norman Bates story from a different vantage point—of teenage Norman before he grows up to be…well, different. In another smart move, the show is set in the present—which somehow gives the series more teeth than if it had been set in the 1950s.

Although only a few episodes of the show have aired, there’s already a buzz surrounding the show. In Bates Motel, high-schooler Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) and his mother, Norma (Vera Farmiga), buy a rundown roadside motel in a scenic yet odd town on the Pacific coast. (The series is one of many shows filmed in British Columbia these days.)
Norma-Bates
“A boy’s mother is his best friend.” Vera Farmiga kills as Norma Bates, the “Mother” we only thought we knew.

While Norman and “Mother” have been trying to repair and renovate the motel, some local town folk haven’t been very welcoming—which resulted in the show’s first killing. Now new characters are being introduced, like a potential girlfriend for Norman (not to mention a long-lost stepbrother). And then there’s that pesky local sheriff, who just can’t stop noseying around the motel…and meddling in the Bates family’s activities.

A&E’s Bates Motel is just getting cranked up, but it’s already showing signs of starting to attract a growing fan base like AMC’s The Walking Dead before it. We’re already hooked.

Cutting Remarks
Norman Bates, originally played with nervous precision by Anthony Perkins, took filmgoers by surprise when Hitchcock’s Psycho stormed into theaters. Film audiences weren’t used to villains who seemed like genuinely nice people—that is, until their murderous psychology compelled them to kill again. Prior to Psycho, screen villains acted villainous most of the time.
Norman-Bates-1960-skull-image
Tony Perkins as mad, bad Norman Bates. Notice the image of teeth superimposed on Norman’s mouth, which is the beginning of a skull image that Hitchcock will place over Norman’s face, in a creepy final touch.

Some stray trivia you may not know about Norman Bates:

• When Perkins took the role that would make him globally famous, director Hitchcock refused to instruct the young actor in how exactly to play the part. “Hitch” left it to Perkins to develop the character himself, which he did to perfection. Prime example: Norman’s nervous munching of candy corn.
• There was a real person that inspired Robert Bloch to write his suspense thriller, Psycho. The killer was named Ed Gein, and he served as the prototype for Norman Bates and Dr. Hannibal Lector (from The Silence of the Lambs). However, his actual crimes were far too shocking to portray in movies, although at least two later films were directly based on Gein’s life.
• There have been five “Psycho” films, including the original classic. One of the more interesting sequels was Psycho 3, which was directed by Perkins himself.
• The original outdoor facades for the Bates house and the Bates Motel were originally constructed on a back lot at Universal Studios, in a money-saving move. Now, more than 50 years later, the famous film location is still preserved as a favorite part of the Universal Studios Hollywood Tour.

Lights, Camera…Suspense!
Hitchcock’s Psycho was a daring work of modern art that broke rules and took chances—and resulted in an artistic triumph and commercial smash. Hitchcock shot the film with the production crew from his television show, and ran the entire budget on a shoestring. His creative ingenuity paid off in huge dividends on the screen and at the box office.
Bates-Motel-sign-2
The next generation of filmmakers are already planning their own masterpieces and developing their personal dreams of working within the exciting world of film. To help those dreams come true, kids and teens will receive expert instruction in digital filmmaking at Digital Media Academy tech camps across North America.

DMA offers a variety of filmmaking courses, each geared to a different age level and expertise. Students in DMA’s Digital Filmmaking for Teens – Beginner camp, for example, will be exposed to each part of the film production process, from shaping a script to directing a shoot to editing the final product. They’ll be taught by industry professionals who know film from the inside out, and that instruction will be powered by today’s leading film-production software, such as Final Cut Pro®.

The next Hitchcock could be studying film at DMA this summer. In fact, the next Hitchcock could be…you! Now how’s that for a shocking twist? Hitch would be proud…

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posted by Phill Powell in Digital Filmmaking,Featured and have No Comments

Rolling Stones: The Best Live Performances on Video

They’re baaaaack! The Rolling Stones, Rock ‘n’ Roll’s longest running major act, is hitting the road again, for the umpteenth time. The Rolling Stones North American tour of 18 shows was kicked off in New York.
Rolling-Stones-currentNow celebrating 50 years as a performing act, the Rolling Stones have played to the biggest audiences in Rock ‘n’ Roll, including a Brazil show attended by more than a million spectators. (Photo: Mark Seliger)

If you can make it, do yourself a favor and see the “Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band of All Time” while you can. But if you can’t get to the shows, here’s an overview of some of the band’s best performances on video, all of which show why this group has consistently been the most exciting live act in all of Rock music.

Song: “I’m All Right”
Year: 1964
DVD: The T.A.M.I. Show
Why It’s A Classic: James Brown and Mick Jagger compete to see who rules the stage.
The Performance: A classic Rock ‘n’ Roll movie, The T.A.M.I. Show brought together a huge number of top performers. In a moment of heated backstage drama, the Stones were chosen to close the show—a decision that didn’t please master showman James Brown, who taunted the band: “I’m gonna make you Rollin’ Stones wish you’d never left England.” Brown’s set is absolutely amazing; he later claimed he never danced faster in his life. He dances with a vengeance.
Mick-Jagger-and-James-Brown
Not-so-friendly rivals? Jagger had to figure out a way to out-perform James Brown, the greatest showman of the 1960s.

The Stones followed with five songs, finishing with this simple early rave-up. About two minutes in, Jagger settles the song down (despite the full-throttle screams of what sounds like a million teenage girls), then builds it back up, bit by bit. “I’m all right…” he sings over and over, changing the inflections and increasing the intensity each of the 15 times he sings the lyric. Finally, he’s screaming it.
Rolling-Stones-early-riot
Three songs and a riot: The crazy early days, when Rock stars had to run for their lives.

Pretty soon, Jagger’s moving his head as wildly as the maracas he’s shaking. Mayhem ensues and the crowd goes nuts. Jagger couldn’t out-dance James Brown, but he out-performed him all the same. This performance demonstrates the thrilling frenzy the band could generate live. The Stones’ early shows were all the same, according to deadpan drummer Charlie Watts: “Three songs and then a riot would break out.”

Song: “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”
Year: 1966
DVD: The Ed Sullivan Shows Starring the Rolling Stones
Why It’s A Classic: The band’s top track, back when the song was still creating a sensation.
The Performance: It’s a riff that still stops you in your tracks. The opening guitar growl that announces “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” is one of the most identifiable and iconic pieces of popular music. The breakthrough song went to Number One (the band’s first) during the boiling hot summer of 1965. It’s all here: the famous fuzz-tone guitar, the snarling attitude, the amazing lyrics—which poke fun at American advertising.
Satisfaction-single
The shot heard ’round the world. 1965′s “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” became the group’s breakthrough hit.

This February 13, 1966, performance on the hugely popular Ed Sullivan Show did more to introduce this band to American audiences than any other. You can tell the band isn’t lip-synching by guitarist Keith Richards’ harmony singing and the extreme fuzz-tone effect box he was clicking on and off with his boot for the beginning riff and the chorus. See why “Satisfaction” is still the Rolling Stones’ signature song, and why “Rolling Stone” magazine selected the song as the second-greatest Rock song of all time.

Song: “Midnight Rambler”
Year: 1972
DVD: Ladies and Gentlemen, The Rolling Stones
Why It’s A Classic: Over-the-top showmanship meets gut-bucket Blues in a brutal live version filmed during the band’s peak.
The Performance: By 1972, there was little debate about which was the best Rock ‘n’ Roll band in the world. Any doubts were steamrolled over when video footage from the Stones’ 1972 tour was collected in this 1974 film. The band is in amazing condition and this tour probably represents its peak as a touring unit. Performances like these are why people started calling the Stones the best band in Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Rolling-Stones-live-1972
By 1972, the Stones were peaking, as Ladies and Gentlemen, The Rolling Stones clearly proves.

Perennial live favorite “Midnight Rambler” is given a particularly aggressive workout, showcasing the interplay between singer Jagger and drummer Watts. This performance from Fort Worth, Texas, shows the sheer musical power that the Stones can generate, especially when they stretch out on a number, as they do on this 11-minute version, which is almost double the length of the original album cut. Seeing is believing. See it and you will believe…and you will be exhausted.

Song: “Shattered”
Year: 1978
DVD: Some Girls: Live in Texas ’78 (Bonus Feature)
Why It’s A Classic: An early Stones comeback that charted all the other comebacks still to come.
The Performance: By 1978, a lot of Rock fans were giving up on the band, which suffered some creative ups and downs during the 70s. The Stones responded by embracing the two breakout musical genres of the era…Disco and Punk. The album that addressed both styles, as well as the band’s usual roots Rock ‘n’ Roll, was called Some Girls. It remains the band’s biggest selling album and is now generally considered a modern masterpiece and perhaps the band’s final masterwork.
Rolling-Stones-live-1978
The Stones hit Saturday Night Live like a “crossfire hurricane” back in 1978.

The studio audience at Saturday Night Live was primed to see the band in action on October 7, 1978, and the Stones brought the heat. During a manic, dizzying three-song set, the band showed itself to be in fierce condition and taking no prisoners. When the Stones careen into “Shattered” (the pumping final track from Some Girls), the band uses its go-for-broke power to push the set to its logical conclusion. By the end, Jagger is hopping about wildly, like a lab monkey that’s grown addicted to mild electric shocks. This sizzling performance was proof positive that you could never count out the Rolling Stones…and you still never can.

Song: “Happy”
Year: 1991
DVD: Live: At the Max
Why It’s A Classic: Keith pushes it to the limit and demonstrates why he’s a guitar riff-master.
The Performance: Keith Richards is more than just the Stones’ primary rhythm guitarist. He’s also the co-writer of some of the greatest Rock standards of all time, an occasional vocalist and one of music’s most colorful and funniest characters—kind of a mix of a cowboy and pirate. (True: Johnny Depp based his Jack Sparrow on his friend Richards, who even played Sparrow’s father in 2007’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.)
Rolling-Stones-Keith-Richards
Part cowboy, part pirate…all Rocker. Keith Richards “runs the kitchen” for the mighty Stones.

“Happy” is Richards’ personal statement, and what an outlaw anthem it is: “I never kept a dollar past sunset,” he brags. “It always burned a hole in my pants.” About two minutes in he casually yells, “Let’s get out, Ronnie,” to Ron Wood (the Stones’ other guitarist), signaling that it’s time to bring the song home. Which Richards then proceeds to do, with about a minute of blistering lead guitar that demonstrates his ingenuity as one of Rock’s greatest guitar gunslingers.

Still Rolling, Still Ruling
Part of why the Rolling Stones are great is because they still reflect their earliest influences, but another part has to do with the band’s ability to sound fresh. Through its ongoing work with producer Don Was, the Rolling Stones are able to use their mastery of music production skills to keep them at the top of the music business.

Learning music production can help put you at the top of the pop charts, too. But where do you learn music production on the same tools that the pros use? Look no further than Digital Media Academy, which offers cutting-edge music camps for the digital age. DMA’s Digital Audio, Music & Beat Production camp will teach you how to create your own rhythms for Rock, Hip-Hop, Dance, Electronica, Dubstep and other types of music. Plus, campers get to develop bass lines and use MIDI keyboards to make their own tracks. Look out, Mick. The kids are gunning for you.

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posted by Phill Powell in Featured,Music Production and have No Comments

Last Minute Tech Gift Ideas

With one more weekend left before the Christmas holiday, retailers and consumers are knuckling down for the final sprint toward the seasonal-shopping finish line. And if you’re like us, you’re more than happy to have an extra shopping weekend (since you’ve still got presents to buy).

Don’t worry, shoppers! We’ve got the gizmos that will keep the technology nerd on your list thinking you spent all year looking for the perfect gift.

Canon PowerShot SX260 Digital Camera
Canon-SX260HS
Take travel photography to the next level; use the SX260 HS GPS image tagging to track your journey on Google Maps. 

Retail Price: $199
Who’s It For? The photo blogger who likes to travel
Why Should I Buy It: Exceptional image performance

Canon’s PowerShot SX260 HS offers 12.1 megapixel quality via a high-sensitivity CMOS sensor. It also has a powerful 20x Optical Zoom. Add a 25mm Wide-Angle lens, PhotoStitch (which takes photos and turn them into a panoramic image) and GPS image tracking and you’ve got a powerful compact camera. Canons’ optical image stabilizer helps make every shot a winner.

Kindle Fire HD Tablet
kindle-fire-hd-8.9-inch
With a 1.5-Ghz processor and Imagination PowerVR 3D graphics chip, the Kindle Fire HD is able to go toe to toe with the iPad. The $499 Kindle also gives you 16 GB more storage than the iPad, at the same price.

Retail Price: $499
Who’s It For? The Amazon Prime member who hates Apple
Why Should I Buy It: As iPad alternatives go, it’s the best of the bunch.

Want to serve up movies and games beautifully and lightning quick? Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD sports a 8.9-inch display and 4G LTE Wireless. In nerd speak, that’s a dual-band, dual Wi-Fi antenna and a screen that boasts a stunning 1920×1200 HD display. For ebook readers, the tablet has a polarizing filter and anti-glare technology. All this plus free unlimited cloud storage for all your Amazon content, and access to the Kindle library—with more than 22 million pieces of content (only Apple has more)—makes the Kindle Fire perfect for anything.

iPhone 5

The fastest iPhone yet…at least until the iPhone 5S. 

Retail Price: $199
Who’s It For? Anyone who still has a iPhone 3
Why Should I Buy It: Aside from a tablet, it’s the most sought-after electronic gadget going this holiday season.

This is the smartphone that changed the game and now steps it up with 4G LTE. The iPhone 5 features a thinner and sleeker design, plus a new 4-inch screen. Returning from the previous version are the Retina display and Siri. But these are just a few of the things that make this iPhone the greatest one yet. It’s backed by the Apple app store, which recently celebrated serving up its 1 millionth app .

Wii U

Nintendo’s latest video-game console combines a variety of technologies into one amazing interactive experience.

Retail Price: $349
Who’s It For? Your kids
Why Should I Buy It: For the under-14 set, it’s the third-hottest tech gift this holiday season.

Wii U takes Nintendo’s Wii to the next level; what the Wii did for motion controllers, this machine does for gaming options. Play with a big-screen TV or game on the Wii U GamePad’s 6.2-inch, 16:9 LCD touchscreen. The Wii U GamePad has motion control, front-facing camera, rumble feature, microphone and stereo speakers! In fact, there are so many bells and whistles on this thing that even Nintendo hasn’t figured out what they’re all for.

Technology Camp
digital-media-academy-technology-camp-at-stanford
Kids learn how to create the future while using the latest technology. 

Retail Price: $695
Who’s It For? Your 10-year-old Steve Jobs
Why Should I Buy It: To give your kid get a head start on creating the future

This Christmas you can give your child the hottest electronic device and hope that they don’t grow out of it. Or you can really put the technology hook into them with a week or more at a technology camp like Digital Media Academy. Think of it—you’re kids aren’t just playing games, they’re making them, and even getting paid to do it. From learning App Development to Programming and more, a week at tech camp could be a life-enriching experience for your kid. And make you the best Santa ever.

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posted by Phill Powell in News Blog and have No Comments