Machinima’s Movie Moguls

A new breed of filmmaker is bypassing the actors, elaborate sets, and even the cameras in favor of a couple of decent computers and a video game. Their movies may surprise you

13 min read
Photo: Matthew Mahon; Illustration: Sandbox Studio
Photo: Matthew Mahon; Illustration: Sandbox Studio

It’s a warm January afternoon in Austin, Texas, where another movie is being shot. That’s not so unusual; with its laid-back pace and funky vibe—the city’s motto is “Keep Austin Weird”—this university town has become a hive of independent filmmaking over the past decade, sparked by the success of local directors Richard Linklater and Robert Rodriguez. Both directors built their reputations in part on their willingness to experiment with low-budget digital animation and special effects.

But even by Austin’s anything-goes, do-it-yourself standards, today’s shoot is notably bootstrapped. For one thing, it’s being made above the Pita Pit sandwich shop, overlooking a busy downtown street. The movie studio here at Rooster Teeth Productions consists of a tiny windowless room at the end of a hallway, in what used to be the restroom of a Wendy’s burger joint. “We had to run 30 gallons of bleach in here to get out the smell,” says Michael “Burnie” Burns, a stocky 34-year-old in a T-shirt and beat-up jeans who cofounded Rooster Teeth five years ago.

Keep reading...Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

Stretchable Artificial Nerves Help Restore Motion in Mice

New neuroprosthetic approach is more flexible and less power-hungry than other designs

2 min read
illustration of a paralysed mouse and a moving mouse

A paralyzed mouse with a spinal cord injury or motor neuron disease (left) and a mouse that

has recovered voluntary motor function by using stretchable artificial nerves (right).

Stanford University

Conventional neuroprosthetic devices that aim to help patients bypass nerve damage are often rigid and power-hungry. Now scientists have developed stretchable artificial nerves that helped paralyzed mice run on a treadmill and kick a ball while consuming less than one-hundredth of the power of a typical microprocessor. The scientists suggest these artificial nerves may one day find use in the human body.

To help restore movement to patients who have suffered nerve damage from injuries or diseases, scientists are researching neuroprosthetic devices that can help relay signals from the brain to muscles or nerves. However, these systems often face a number of critical limitations, says study co-senior author Tae-Woo Lee, a materials scientist at Seoul National University.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

Xiaomi Builds a Humanoid Robot for Some Reason

CyberOne is a new biped from China, but why does it exist?

3 min read
A black and white humanoid robot lies face down on dirt after appearing to have just fallen

Xiaomi, a large Chinese consumer electronics manufacturer, has introduced a full size bipedal humanoid robot called CyberOne. It’s 177 centimeters in height and weighs 52 kilograms, and it comes with 21 degrees of freedom, with “a curved OLED module to display real-time interactive information.” Nifty! So, uh, its actual purpose is... what exactly?

Keep Reading ↓Show less

Harnessing the Power of Innovation Intelligence

Through case studies and data visualizations, this webinar will show you how to leverage IP and scientific data analytics to identify emerging business opportunities

1 min read

Business and R&D leaders have to make consequential strategic decisions every day in a global marketplace that continues to get more interconnected and complex. Luckily, the job can be more manageable and efficient by leveraging IP and scientific data analytics. Register for this free webinar now!

Join us for the webinar, Harnessing the power of innovation intelligence, to hear Clarivate experts discuss how analyzing IP data, together with scientific content and industry-specific data, can provide organization-wide situational awareness and reveal valuable business insights.

Keep Reading ↓Show less