Archive for Smaug

MCqMC 2014 [day #4]

Posted in pictures, Running, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 11, 2014 by xi'an


I hesitated in changing the above title for “MCqMSmaug” as the plenary talk I attended this morning was given by Wenzel Jakob, who uses Markov chain Monte Carlo methods in image rendering and light simulation. The talk was low-tech’, with plenty of pictures and animations (incl. excerpts from recent blockbusters!), but it stressed how much proper rending relies on powerful MCMC techniques. One point particularly attracted my attention, namely the notion of manifold exploration as it seemed related to my zero measure recent post. (A related video is available on Jakob’s webpage.) You may then wonder where the connection with Smaug could be found: Wenzel Jakob is listed in the credits of both Hobbit movies for his contributions to the visual effects! (Hey, MCMC made Smaug [visual effects the way they are], a cool argument for selling your next MCMC course! I will for sure include a picture of Smaug in my next R class presentation…) The next sessions of the morning opposed Sobol’s memorial to more technical light rendering and I chose Sobol, esp. because I had missed Art Owen’s tutorial on Sunday, as he gave a short presentation on using Sobol’s criteria to identify variables contributing the most to the variability or extreme values of a function, an extreme value kind of ANOVA, most interesting if far from my simulation area… The afternoon sessions saw MCMC talks by Luke Bornn and Scott Schmidler, both having connection with the Wang-Landau algorithm. Actually, Scott’s talk was the one generating the most animated discussion among all those I attended in MCqMC! (To the point of the chairman getting rather rudely making faces…)

desolation of Smaug [guest post]

Posted in Books, Kids with tags , , , , , on January 5, 2014 by xi'an

[To keep with tradition, here is my daughter’s comments on the second Hobbit movie.]

I think this second instalment is just as good as the first part of the hobbit. The biggest mistake of the movie is the part with the dragon, he spits fire when he wants and when he can kill some dwarves he doesn’t do it! It is said that he is very smart but the dwarves manage easily to deceit him. The part with the elves is not really better, the language imagined by Tolkien is fabulous but I expected more surprises in this universe. The fact that the dwarves easily get out is also incredible! And the fight with the orcs is unrealistic too.. The part in the forest is well made, the spiders seem real and the intervention of Bilbo is superb. The man who can change himself into a bear is a great idea, well realised but he doesn’t act in a logical way, he run after the dwarves and two seconds after he let them sleep in his house. The landscapes at the beginning are awesome, that is a great entry. But the music is disappointing, because there are very few songs and they are not as entertaining as the hobbit theme or the song of the lonely mountain in the first instalment, but the last song pushes the level up, too bad it is at the end. The actors play quite well, the news characters are really well made, like the fisherman Bard, contributing to a good section of the movie which feeds our curiosity. He is intriguing and his story unravels one step at a time. The Master of the city of Laketown is also typical, and his character is easily understood. The female elf is not a glamourous girl as in charicatural American movies, a good feature because it’s a change from others films. Tauriel plays in an interesting way but seems a little naïve at times. We don’t understand what are her feelings towards Legolas and the dwarf Kili.

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