First Blood

I recently won the First Blood DVD in a giveaway by Persona Films. I’d actually never seen this before (nor any of the other Rambo films).

First Blood

I was pleasantly surprised – as expected, it’s dark and violent, but not excessively so. Sylvester Stallone is convincing as a damaged Vietnam vet struggling to leave his past behind.

Hearing his audio commentary was interesting too – I gained a new appreciation for how much he knows about the craft of film making. He mentioned key shots where the cinematographer used natural lighting, and goofiness of certain scenes (“the goof troop”) or certain badly written or delivered lines that took a little away from the overall mood and quality of the film. He also discussed at length the tough conditions at the shoot and the dangerousness of the stunts. Off-hand mentions of broken noses, ribs, ankles, near-hypothermia… all of these don’t necessarily inspire confidence for the stunt classes I’ll be taking at Hollywood Stunts in a few weeks.

The True Adventures of the World's Greatest Stuntman: My Life as Indiana Jones, James Bond, Superman and Other Movie HeroesI’ve been reading legendary stuntman Vic Armstrong’s book, The True Adventures of the World’s Greatest Stuntman: My Life as Indiana Jones, James Bond, Superman and Other Movie Heroes, and his stories of injuries is extensive as well. Safety first!

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The Design of Design

I just finished the book The Design of Design by Fred Brooks. Years ago, he’d written The Mythical Man-Month, “the classic book on the human elements of software engineering”, according to Amazon. I remember getting The Mythical Man-Month as assigned reading in my freshmen year computer science class. So when I came across this new book, I picked it up.

The Design of Design consists of a serious of essay on the theory and practice of design – from models (like the infamous “waterfall” model), discussion of collaboration, design perspectives (rationalism vs. empiricism, user models, constraints, design styles, etc.) and case studies.

A lot of it is pretty dry reading, so it took a while to get through it. However – the essays are clearly written and infused with thoughtfulness and thoroughness. His background in software engineering makes his thoughts particularly relevant to my current work. The chapters I found most interesting and compelling include: Constraints Are Friends (Chapter 12), Great Designs Come from Great Designers (Chapter 19), and Where Do Great Designers Come From? (Chapter 20). The discussion rings true to my own experience in working with design teams.

All in all – The Design of Design is a great way to take a step back and turn a critical eye on the design process, with a focus on software engineering.

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