(Source: TUAW) We’re getting closer and closer to some of the stuff we see it science fiction literature and films. Siri [iTunes link] is a small Silicon Valley startup with a really breakthrough product that for now only works on the iPhone.

Here’s the deal. You download the free app, start it up, and tell it what you want. It could be “Will it snow in Des Moines today?” or “Where can I find the nearest burger” or it could be “Find the nearest parks”. It parses your comments, runs out to the web for a few seconds and comes back with a lot of suggestions. It gives you buttons to call the places you’ve found, or to show them on Google Maps and get you directions. 

I tried to get a bit fancier saying “Make me a reservation for 2 at the nearest Olive Garden tonight at 7.” The app figured out Olive Garden didn’t take reservations through their service, but it provided me a number for the nearest Olive Garden and offered to map it. You can even tell the app to remind you of things, and it will send you an email at the appropriate time.

(Source: TUAW) Film fans everywhere will be sitting before their TVs on March 7th to catch the Academy Awards. Now, as with so many other things, there’s an app for that.

Vanity Fair Magazine has produced the free Oscars app called Vanity Fair Hollywood. Users can submit their predictions for winners, browse photo galleries, share comments and prediction results via Facebook and more. Of course, you can chat in real time during the show itself from within the app and watch trailers of the nominated films.

For more iPhone fun on Oscar night, check out these apps:

(Source: fxrant.blogspot.com)  Looking at the Oscar winners over the past 20 years, a specific trend is undeniable. The visual effects Oscar goes to a film that features synthetic, organic characters. This phenomenon became much more significant in the post-”Jurassic Park” era, where advances in computer graphics allowed filmmakers to tell extraordinary stories with fully animated characters that play a significant role in the narrative. We asked of each film: does the movie’s primary visual effects consist of organic creatures? And, as a second piece of criterion, if so, does the film contain CG facial animation, i.e. organic acting?

(Source: vizworld.com) A new press release from SpheronVR announces that Double NEgative, the VFX provider for films like Iron Man 2 and Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows, has chosen the SpheronHDR 360-degree HDR camera.

‘Following evaluations, its was clear the cameras ability to automatically capture HDR lighting environments and to record 3D data was a compelling advantage. said Double Negative’s VFX Producer Fay McConkey. ‘This technology will become a key component in our equipment resources for future productions.

For Ricky Gervais, 2010 may as well be dubbed “The Year of Animation.” In addition to his new animated HBO series, The Ricky Gervais Show, which is set to debut on Feb. 19, he’s working on turning a series of hit children’s books into a 3D animated film.

Gervais, who’s joining forces with Simpsons writer Matt Selman for the project, is preparing his popular book series, Flanimals, for the silver screen. The star? A crew of 50 species of creatures that are ugly-yet-endearing. The premise? Gervais’ character, a particularly purple, perspiring, blobby being, sets off on a mission to change the world. For the literary versions, Gervais penned the organism’s adventures, and illustrator Rob Steen provided the visuals. In the upcoming film, Selman serves as writer.

(Source: earthtimes.org) ACM SIGGRAPH announces the selection of Don Marinelli, a leading Carnegie Mellon scholar and educator, to give one of its keynote presentations at SIGGRAPH, the 37th International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, Sunday 25 July – Thursday, 29 July 2010 at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, California.

Marinelli is the executive producer of Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center, a joint initiative between the College of Fine Arts and the School of Computer Science, where technologists and non-technologists work together on projects that produce installations intended to entertain, inform, inspire, or otherwise affect an audience, guest, player, or participant.

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