red tulips | copyright Jill J. Jensen

 

 

One Straight Line

cool music and cool instruments that play themselves

 

As the technology writer for The New York Times, David Pogue gets to see and play with a lot of cool stuff. Of course, he must also handle the grief that accompanies testing and reporting on beta versions — and often, the "working" models — of the latest high-tech gadgets.

Pogue seems to be just the right guy for the 'technology translation' job. He's enthusiastic about the hardware and software but diligent in testing and reporting the good, the bad, and the ugly of operations and user-friendliness. He knows his stuff, but he also seems able to speak "ordinary people" well enough that we can read his New York Times tech columns, watch his special TV reports about the giant electronics shows (usually on CBS Sunday Morning), and feel we've actually learned something about such formidable topics as HDTV, digital cameras, or firewall software.

In late 2005, a Pogue NYT article highlighted a DVD of something a bit hard to categorize, even for this self-described techno-geek: Animusic. After bemoaning the loss of wonder that accompanies growing older, his column noted,

"A few weeks ago, ...I encountered a piece of high-tech art that's unlike anything that's come before. It's a DVD called Animusic. Its blend of music, visuals, humor and science is so new and so brilliant, it triggered feelings of fascination, laughter, amazement — and, yes, wonder.

"And I'm not alone. When my wife and I played this DVD for guests and relatives over Thanksgiving, everyone was suddenly talking and exclaiming. Our elementary-schoolers have watched it repeatedly, announcing when the good parts are coming. And our 14-month-old baby dances, stomps and twirls, waggling his hands in the air, possessed by the purest response of all.

"So what is Animusic? It's hard to describe, of course, because it's not like anything else — that's the whole point. But this much is safe to say: it's a DVD of music videos — computer-generated, photorealistic animation (think Pixar)."

Obviously, Pogue's a fan, as is his family. And, having seen some excerpts during a local public television fund-raiser, I am, too.

Pictures of the covers of the two DVDs now available at the Animusic website give a glimpse of the 'characters' — the animated instruments — that play themselves playing the music. Watch a clip or two online to get the look and feel for what the DVDs hold, and you'll probably be plunking down your plastic for a copy.

After the exposure in Pogue's column and on public television, Animusic even had to beef up its Web servers to handle the traffic. Seems something good is going on here....

 

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