Two men lounge in a trendy bar, cocktails before them, surrounded by red dodgeballs. This frozen moment in time forms the eye-catching opening image for this month's Websights article, "The Artful—and Mobile—Dodger."

Capturing that casual moment took hours of work. Photographer Jordan Hollender began by scouting fashionable watering holes for a location, before settling on the Savalas Bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, one of New York City's hippest neighborhoods.

Getting nine dodgeballs to use as props—the subjects' start-up is called—was difficult, due to a mysterious dodgeball shortage at New York's sporting goods stores. Hollender finally found a supplier who could sell him the balls—just as soon as they could be inflated.

Setting up the shoot took two and a half hours, mostly devoted to getting the lighting right. Pictures taken with a single light source look flat. Reproducing the sense of space that a visitor to the bar would experience required additional illumination for each major element—a light for the drapes behind the couch, a light for each of the subjects, and so on. And to make sure the drinks looked like real drinks, a photogenic mixture of brine and cranberry juice was used in place of actual cocktails.

The photography itself took two hours and 140 exposures, as Hollender tried different arrangements to grab the ideal image for IEEE Spectrum. Mission accomplished, the dodgeballs were donated to the bar, which promised to hand them out to customers—as long as no one tried to start up a game on the premises.

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Deep Learning Could Bring the Concert Experience Home

The century-old quest for truly realistic sound production is finally paying off

12 min read
Image containing multiple aspects such as instruments and left and right open hands.
Stuart Bradford

Now that recorded sound has become ubiquitous, we hardly think about it. From our smartphones, smart speakers, TVs, radios, disc players, and car sound systems, it’s an enduring and enjoyable presence in our lives. In 2017, a survey by the polling firm Nielsen suggested that some 90 percent of the U.S. population listens to music regularly and that, on average, they do so 32 hours per week.

Behind this free-flowing pleasure are enormous industries applying technology to the long-standing goal of reproducing sound with the greatest possible realism. From Edison’s phonograph and the horn speakers of the 1880s, successive generations of engineers in pursuit of this ideal invented and exploited countless technologies: triode vacuum tubes, dynamic loudspeakers, magnetic phonograph cartridges, solid-state amplifier circuits in scores of different topologies, electrostatic speakers, optical discs, stereo, and surround sound. And over the past five decades, digital technologies, like audio compression and streaming, have transformed the music industry.

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