Blubberella Auteur Uwe Boll to Retire From Filmmaking

Blubberella Auteur Uwe Boll to Retire From Filmmaking
Photo: Getty

Once in every generation, there comes an artist too transgressive, too challenging, too persistently, deliberately incompetent to be appreciated in his own time. For low-budget video game movie adaptions of the mid-2000s, Uwe Boll was that artist. And now he is saying goodbye.…

In a recent interview with the Toronto Metro, the man who once challenged his many, many critics to a series of 10-round boxing matches said that he is done fighting to make passion projects like BloodRayne: The Third Reich. According to Boll, the problem (as is always the case with great art) is money.

“The market is dead,” Boll told the paper, “you don’t make any money anymore on movies because the DVD and Blu Ray market worldwide has dropped 80 per cent in the last three years. That is the real reason; I just cannot afford to make movies.”

Boll says that Rampage: President Down, the upcoming second sequel to 2009 “mass murder thriller” Rampage, will be his final film. Still, he remains hopeful that his impressive body of work will one day get its due.

“Now when I don’t make any more movies,” said Boll, “maybe they’ll find the time to actually watch the movies, starting with Postal in 2005, the movies of the last ten years. They will see they were a lot of very interesting movies and a lot of movies that I think made sense and said a point about things. They deserve to be discussed bigger than they were.”

Frankly, when it comes to short films like 2015's criminally underappreciated “Fuck You All,” we couldn’t agree more.


Apple's New 'TV Guide for Streaming' Won't Include Netflix: Report

Apple"s New "TV Guide for Streaming" Won"t Include Netflix: Report
Photo: AP

50 percent of American households now subscribe to some sort of video-on-demand, but finding out what’s available through multiple services remains a giant pain in the ass. Fortunately, a long-rumored Apple TV update aims to solve this by creating a centralized guide between apps. Unfortunately, it reportedly won’t include the most popular streaming service of them all.

According to USA Today, the feature described to industry executives as “the Watch List” is set to be announced on Thursday and will recommend titles to users based on their viewing history. In one example, the update would allow network programmers to suggest the new FX series Atlanta to the channel’s subscribers. From USA Today:

Last year’s major overhaul of Apple TV turned the living room TV into a giant iPhone, with games and network TV offerings displayed in colorful apps across the screen. An updated remote control lets viewers fetch TV shows on command, using Apple’s digital assistant, Siri, to call up the latest installment of NBC’s The Voice.

But too much of a good thing can be overwhelming. “The Watch List” — which will be known by a different name when it’s available to consumers — is designed to aid in discovery.

Recode, however, reports that Netflix won’t be participating, citing industry sources. If so, that will certainly limit the feature’s ability to serve as a comprehensive guide to streaming video, but with any luck, Apple TV users will only have to mindlessly browse through a couple services (instead of a dozen) in the future.


How the Vulgarity of South Park Changed Television

How the Vulgarity of South Park Changed Television

South Park is unabashedly vulgar. The language can be crude and the action is sometimes, um, a little much—but the comedy is biting, the issues are relevant, and it’s done so much to change what television looks and sounds like today. Kaptain Kristian dives into how the language of a cartoon could affect reality and the concept of censorship in this fun look into the history of South Park.

To think of how I Love Lucy wasn’t allowed to say “pregnancy” way back when and compare it to the trail that South Park has blazed (and the work it’s still doing against censorship) is pretty crazy. Like, they said “shit” 200 times in a single episode. Sure, fighting to say curse words on air might not be the most honorable cause for some people, but it helps to push boundaries and questions what is actually right and wrong.

Why Dieselgate Forced Audi To Quit Le Mans

Why Dieselgate Forced Audi To Quit Le Mans
Audi at Le Mans in 2014. Photo credit Getty Images

Without question, the modern era of the most famous race in the world—the 24 Hours of Le Mans—has belonged to Audi. That comes to an end this year. This is the way things had to go.…

Today Audi announced that after 18 years, including 13 victories at Le Mans, that it would withdraw from the World Endurance Championship to focus instead on the newcomer all-electric spec series Formula E—a relatively obscure effort in the global world of racing.

Why Dieselgate Forced Audi To Quit Le Mans
The Audi R18 race car.

Despite the fact that Audi’s departure was perpetually rumored, the fact that they actually did leave was, if you’ll excuse the electricity pun, shocking news. It was as if Ferrari decided to leave Formula One for a regional dirt track series in the American South.

Audi defined modern endurance racing, and Audi certainly allowed itself to be defined by its successes there. If you’re an automaker, that’s kind of the entire point. Audi’s victories in racing were tremendous for its brand. It scored the first Le Mans win for a diesel, and the first for a hybrid. Black, silver and red cars raced around the world (very notably here in America) adorned with the brand’s TDI logo and brought home the glory for Audi’s diesel technology.

But Audi’s parent company, the Volkswagen Group, has for the past year been facing costs in the billions of dollars thanks to a global diesel emissions cheating scandal. It has forced a strategy shift at the group and at Audi in particular toward electrification. It has meant reduced costs and finding a new focus.

And sadly, Le Mans racing in its current form doesn’t work.

Audi Needs Money

You have to dig past the massive Dieselgate recall, settlement and lawsuit headlines and look into what Audi considers the post-diesel future: electricity. In order to move past being the cheating, polluting, not-so-clean diesel brand, Audi (and Volkswagen) are betting big on hybrids and electrics, like a German Tesla, except one that presumably meets its deadlines. The first all-electric Audi, an SUV called the e-tron, is due out in 2018.…

But making a massive shift toward electric technology is expensive. It’s going to require significant retooling and R&D costs. This summer Reuters reported Audi will shift about a third of its $4.69 billion (in 2015) R&D budget toward electrification. This, around the same time the Volkswagen Group is out $14.7 billion in a settlement with U.S. diesel owners alone—and that’s just one of the many, many costs associated with Dieselgate.

In other words, Audi needs money to pull off this electric revolution. For Volkswagen in general, that has meant cutting the excess and ridiculousness that defined the company under former boss Ferdinand Piëch, and paring back unnecessary, overlapping models and programs.

It’s believed Audi spent somewhere between $200 million and $300 million on its LMP1 racing program alone each year. It probably doesn’t help, either, that Volkswagen stablemate Porsche wasn’t just also running a massive LMP program of its own, it had won Le Mans, too. The last thing most profit-based corporations need is not one, but two massively expensive racing programs. Especially if they’re competing against each other.

Formula E teams cap their budgets at $3.5 million a year. If Audi is going to cut, that’s a logical place to start.

It Looks Bad

One of the best things about Le Mans and the WEC, especially in the top LMP1 class, is that it’s the tip of the technological spear for automakers who compete. It’s the best of the best on display, full of tech that may somehow trickle down to street cars.

Starting with the R10 TDI a decade ago, Audi’s LMP1 cars had all been diesels, followed by diesel-electric hybrids later on. They were the flagship of the TDI diesel family, a way of saying to the world, “Here’s how powerful and reliable and efficient our diesels can be.”

Needless to say, that’s a bad look today. Diesels from the Volkswagen Group are dead in America, probably forever. And while diesels dominate other markets, much of that success has been thanks to loose regulations that are now tightening up across Europe.

Diesel is on the way out. The TDI cars had an amazing showing at Le Mans, but by now, at the end of 2016, they had become a thing of the past, not the future.

Formula E Is All We Got, For Now

Why Dieselgate Forced Audi To Quit Le Mans
A Formula E race in London. Photo credit Getty Images

This brings us to FIA Formula E, a scrappy all-electric racing series that’s only in its second year. It’s possible Formula E has the potential to be a huge deal someday, but it’s not there yet: not in the speeds of the cars, not in the drivers, not in how it makes money, not in attendance numbers or even in access to tracks—so far FE only races on street circuits. This is a pretty far cry from Le Mans, the greatest racing spectacle in the world.…

But electrification is the future. And the auto industry, with the motorsports business that support it, have to start somewhere.

Audi has been involved with the sport since the beginning, but mostly as a sponsor with the ABT Team. Earlier this year Jaguar, another famous brand in Le Mans history, announced that it would compete in Formula E as well. It was a nice score for the nascent series. As The Verge notes, Renault, Mahindra and others also run teams in the series, and Mercedes-Benz plans to join in 2018, as does Chinese-backed car company (?) Faraday Future.

But Audi, coming as a full factory effort now from all that Le Mans experience (though no doubt with far less of a budget) is FE’s biggest get so far.

Here’s what Audi board member Rupert Stadler said about the brand’s entry into the series:

“We’re going to contest the race for the future on electric power,” says Stadler. “As our production cars are becoming increasingly electric, our motorsport cars, as Audi’s technological spearheads, have to even more so.” The first all-electric racing series perfectly matches the strategy of offering fully battery-electric models year by year starting in 2018, Audi currently being in the greatest transformation stage in the company’s history.

The commitment in FIA Formula E will already commence in 2017. It is regarded as the racing series with the greatest potential for the future. That is why Audi has intensified the existing partnership with Team ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport in the current 2016/2017 season. On the road toward a full factory commitment, the manufacturer is now actively joining the technical development.

For now, as fledgling as it is, Formula E is all we have, in terms of electric car racing. Or at least the biggest. There are some smaller spec series and grassroots efforts, but FE right now is the major effort. If Audi wants to race electric cars at the top level, it gets in while that—like electric cars themselves—are still growing.

Had Audi had an unlimited budget and wanted to still take its electric game to the next level, it could somehow run an all-electric prototype in Le Mans. They don’t have that kind of money. They do, however, have Formula E money, which is incredibly convenient for them.

Will Anyone Care?

While Audi’s wins at Le Mans made the brand and its cars look good, it’s always been questionable whether racing wins actually translate into car sales. But if you’re going to perform, the top echelons of racing are the place to do it.

With Formula E Audi keeps a foothold in racing besides the DTM and the various other places its cars can be seen getting flung around a track at speed, but it’s nowhere near the profile that Le Mans was.

At any rate, the end to racing in Le Mans may just be the biggest casualty of Dieselgate yet.

Three Emotional Movie Scenes That Used Brilliant Visual Tricks

Three Emotional Movie Scenes That Used Brilliant Visual Tricks

It’s easy for films to make us feel sad or happy by showing us a character be sad or happy. We project our own emotions onto the screen, using what we see as a proxy for our feelings. What’s more brilliant, though, is when a movies utilizes subtle cues and impeccable composition and slick cinematography to fully visualize emotion.

For example, in The Shawshank Redemption, we can see background characters in the real world looking away and ignoring a recently released inmate to make us feel his loneliness. In 12 Years a Slave, a torturous scene is composed like a painting to contrast what’s happening in the foreground and what’s happening in the background. And in Children of Men, we see hope being born again whenever a background character hits the center of the frame and sees the baby. CineFix takes a look at those three movie scenes and breaks down the lovely details of filmmaking below.

Surface Studio: The Basics

Surface Studio: The Basics
Image: Microsoft

Microsoft showed off its new Surface Studio all-in-one on Wednesday. More than just an iMac rip-off, the Surface Studio is focused squarely at artists and creative professionals.

The centerpiece of the Surface Studio is a 28-inch high picel density touch display that you can draw on. The adjustable hinge lets you fold the screen the screen down to a drafting table-like angle, so that you can draw directly on it with a Surface Pen. A separately available Surface Dial gives artists even more control over color selection and brush tools.

You can preorder the Surface Studio now and limited quantities will start shipping in December.

Specs and Pricing

  • Intel Core i5
  • 8GB of RAM
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 965M with 2GB of RAM
  • 1TB HD

Price: $2,999

  • Intel Core i7
  • 16GB of RAM
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 965M with 2GB of RAM
  • 2TB HD

Price: $3,499

  • Intel Core i7
  • 32GB of RAM
  • Nvidia GeForce 980M with 4GB of RAM
  • 2TB HD

Price: $4,199

Smoke-Filled Train Sparks Panic on Boston Subway

Smoke-Filled Train Sparks Panic on Boston Subway

Intense videos are emerging of people escaping Boston’s Orange Line at Back Bay station as the station fills with smoke.

For now, details about the cause of the smoke remains scare. Some Twitter users report that the train’s engine overheated, but the MBTA has not yet released a statement. We will update this post as we know more.

Gold-Plating a Drone Is Officially the Worst Idea

Gold-Plating a Drone Is Officially the Worst Idea

Let’s be perfectly clear on this. Gold-plating anything, be it a phone, or a toilet, or a smartwatch, is a terrible and tacky idea. But gold-plating a drone is even worse, and it has nothing to do with aesthetics.

Gold is heavy, so why would you slather it all over a gadget that needs to be as light as possible for best performance? Drones already have terrible battery life since they have to power four electric motor-driven propellers that are trying to lift the drone itself, its aforementioned batteries, and a camera, as is the case with this DJI Phantom 4.

Gold-Plating a Drone Is Officially the Worst Idea

Adding a layer of 24-karat gold only serves to make this quadcopter heavier, and more of a shiny target for people who like to knock drones out of the sky. And then there’s the price. A regular DJI Phantom 4 will cost you around $1,200, but these gold upgrades push the price tag to well over $24,000. So you’ll be paying more for a drone you will inevitably crash, than a new car.

[Drones Direct via ToyNews]

We Were Wrong About HIV’s ‘Patient Zero’

We Were Wrong About HIV’s ‘Patient Zero’ 
A group advocating AIDS research marches down Fifth Avenue during the 14th annual Lesbian and Gay Pride parade in New York, June 27, 1983.(Image: AP/Mario Suriani)

The origin of the AIDS pandemic has been reconstructed in unprecedented detail, showing the disease jumped from the Caribbean to New York City around 1970. The new study subsequently clears the name of Gaétan Dugas, a French-Canadian flight attendant long-thought to be “Patient Zero.”

By combining genetic and historical evidence, researchers from the University of Arizona have confirmed that the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) spread to New York City in the early 1970s, triggering the subsequent North American pandemic. It wouldn’t be until the early 1980s that scientists finally isolated and recognized the disease, which has gone on to kill an estimated 35 million people worldwide.

Geneticist Michael Worobey and colleagues reached this conclusion after sequencing eight genomes from serum samples originally collected in the US back in the 1970s. Analysis shows that AIDS was already genetically diverse during this decade, and that it likely sprung from a pre-existing Caribbean epidemic.

We Were Wrong About HIV’s ‘Patient Zero’ 
Gaétan Dugas, the French-Canadian flight attendent long thought to be HIV’s “Patient Zero.” Genetic evidence has now dispelled this myth. (Image: Wikimedia)

Importantly, this research shows that Gaétan Dugas, the French-Canadian flight attendant known as “Patient Zero,” is not the person responsible for introducing the disease to North America. Worobey and his colleagues were able to obtain and analyze a sample of the HIV that infected Dugas, showing that it was typical of US strains at the time, and not the root source of the disease from which HIV began to spread. Dugas, who died in 1984 from complications related to AIDS, is now believed to be part of a cluster of gay men who traveled frequently, and who were sexually active during this critical stage in the disease’s history.

A new technique developed by the researchers called RNA jackhammering allowed the researchers to take more than 2,000 serum samples collected from American men between 1978 and 1979 and recover near full-length viral RNA genome sequences, even though the samples had degraded over time. The resulting genetic “snapshot” tells the story of how HIV went from an obscure pathogen to a global scourge.

Originating in Africa, the disease spread to the Caribbean, and from there to the United States. It went unnoticed until it percolated in New York City—a critical hub for the AIDS epidemic. The disease eventually made its way to San Francisco, where AIDS patients were first recognized in 1981.

“In New York City, the virus encountered a population that was like dry tinder, causing the epidemic to burn hotter and faster and infecting enough people that it grabs the world’s attention for the first time,” explained Worobey in a statement. “That information is stamped into the RNA of the virus from 1970.”

The new analysis shows that the outbreaks in California that first alerted people to the disease were actually offshoots of the earlier outbreak that first appeared in New York City.


The Couple Who Cosplays Together Stays Together on This Week's Behind the Mask

Last week, we introduced you to Behind the Mask, our video series exploring the lives of people who take cosplay very seriously. The second video is here, and it’s all about Becka Noel and Dhareza Maramis, professional cosplayers who met through cosplay and have been engaged for over four years—because they can’t stop cosplaying.

Seriously. They’re so wrapped up in crafting incredible costumes and attending conventions that they haven’t quite found the time to tie the knot. Fortunately, the delay hasn’t damaged their relationship at all; in fact, it seems like their shared love of cosplay has made their love for each other even stronger.

And if you missed it, here’s the first episode of Behind the Mask, sponsored by Bandai Namco:…