Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Another wider view

This should be on the lines of 'people who enjoyed that last post also...'   My attention has been drawn to the views of the intelligent*, witty man-of-film Mark Kermode on similar matters, especially the demise of the projectionist in the multiplex.   Mark's got a book out 'The Good, the Bad, and the Multiplex' (available at all good...) and there's a smart piece on his blog here which I missed first time out, this September.  Do watch to the end, there's a sneaky visual joke in the last shot.   I hope it's deliberate, anyway.

*Disclaimer - he bought me a drink at the Watershed when I was there to review a conversation he chaired (admirably).

A wider view

Back in the salad days of wefcpug, when we met in a place with no bar, but closer to the inns of Bristol, no visit to the watering-holes was complete without a tally of TV screens showing sport in the wrong aspect ratio.  Even in the days of analogue TV, the TV would be resolutely tuned to the 4:3 feed, and then some hapless member of the bar staff would press random buttons on the remote to make the picture stretch to the screen width.  More often than not, it would be the letterboxed conversion, not even making full height.   Since it was only football, none of us cared about the spherical people waddling around the pitch, and anyway it was one way to find out whose round it was first (first to mention).
With luck the advent of analog switch off and HDMI connections has done away with all this (but never underestimate the ability of man-in-pub to mess up) - but in yesterday's paper came word that someone else cares.   Read all about Charlie Brooker's aspect ratio rage here.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A tale of two launches

That's launches, not lunches (just checking).   The successful launch first, of the NASA Mars lab yesterday afternoon our time.   How times change - whereas in the previous century we had to make do with grainy black and white coverage courtesy of the BBC, complete with techno-babble commentary from the likes of Sir Patrick Moore or James Burke, now it's possible to watch a live HD stream from Cape Kennedy itself, complete with NASA's own voice-track.

There's a good service provided by the folk at wired.com which offers a couple of links to streams - and you can add comments too.  Still here.

The countdown is something of a strange non-linear affair - as happened yesterday, the clock is stopped at T-4 minutes for status checks, which took around 10 minutes on yesterday's launch.   All went off well in the end, of course - let's hope for a succesful landing and mission, in 8 months or so.   One fact that I'd forgotten:  unmanned launches presumably can allow higher G forces - yesterday's acceleration was such that, 5 minutes after launch, the payload was moving at 10,000 mph.

News arrives today of a delay in a second launch.   The countdown to the launch of 'Lightworks' is currently on hold - with news today that the planned 29th November date won't be met.   The good news is they're now talking about both the Windows and Mac/Linux versions.   Let's hope it's not an 8 month wait for this.   (And that it's not over Christmas week).

Dec 2011 meeting - Monday 5 Dec

The final wefcpug of 2011 is currently being wheeled out to the launch pad.  As promised at the November meeting, Richard will be examining the entrails of FCP X as it now stands, and making his predictions.   Usual place and time (BBC Club, Bristol, 7pm), Monday 5 Dec - email me or Richard to book your place through border control.

Monday, November 21, 2011

So and So's.

This morning’s ‘Today’ programme on BBC Radio 4 had an item decrying a trend in current speech (and especially prominent in interviews) that’s been my number 2 annoyance for several months - the rise of the so and so’s.   This is the habit of beginning every response with ‘So’.  I reckon this all began in the US, specifically in the world of Tech and corporate media.   I’ve noticed, and been especially annoyed by, the prevalence of ‘people who say so’ in promo videos on (and about) the internet, with anything connected to Web 2.0 and later most susceptible.  Anyone who styles himself (it’s nearly always men, btw) a CEO or a CTO of a start-up company, and especially a small company, will, I guarantee it, be a ‘so-sayer’.   Also (but less irritating) the small army of well-meaning folk who produce their own how-to videos for YouTube - the ones that are just a camera pointed at screen, or a screen grab, with a muttered voice-over that starts something like “So here’s how to...’

Now the expert on Today put it down to insecurity, an audible form of inert filler, which enabled the speaker’s brain to formulate the next sentence (or, usually, the first sentence), but I’m less forgiving;  to me the ‘So’ has an undercurrent of ‘Let me explain this in simple terms for you ignorant folk’.  Fine if it's a freebie YouTube video (AND you do know what you're talking about); not so fine if you're taking part in an interview.   And very not so fine if you keep on doing it for every answer.

Here’s a handy guide for ‘so’ spotting, in corporate media at least.  The ‘so’ speaker phenomenon is often associated with a particular design and costume aesthetic.  Be alert any time you see interviewer and interviewee dressed in matching, or complementary coloured shirts that still bear the fold-lines from their packaging.  Other signs to recognise:  they’ll be striving to be cool, to transmit an atmosphere of informal chat (which often makes the conversation seem even more forced and artificial);  they’ll be in a white or black ‘limbo’ set.  

In historic times, ‘however’ was the word to avoid.  (It still is, by the way).   Perhaps I should be kinder, and say ‘however’ was the editor’s friend, the ready-made marker for the razor-blade.   That was rule 2 of the quick edit - rule 1 being to remove the first line (or paragraph, depending on the interviewee’s loquaciousness).  Rules that the ‘Today’ programme, being live for the most part, must envy.

The number 1 annoyance? Another time - for the moment let’s just say presenter eyelines.  Maybe my next piece will be titled ‘Look at me when you’re talking to me’.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

First view / Last Chance to see

The newest exhibition space in Bristol is now open for business, the M-Shed in the harbourside area.   If you haven't yet been to see the Martin Parr photos, you've got until the 27th November.
The details are here.

Finally the area seems to be getting its act together - there's the makings of a good harbourside walk from the SS Great Britain back to the MShed area, with a fine view across the water to the (disappointing) newly built bank HQs and the city skyline.  Admittedly the Bristol harbourside lacks the natural beauty of Salford Quays, but it surely can't be long until someone puts a broadcast centre there?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Worst Nightmare in Post?

It's a wrap, the final 'cut' has been called.  If you're old school (and forgetful) you might shout 'check the gate' (of the film camera, for any slivers of celluloid that are lodged in there).   Otherwise you box and label the tape (still old school) or, heart in mouth, eject the chip and backup/store safely.
Assuming all that has happened, what can possibly go wrong?
Imagine you've taped an exclusive interview with the boss of Apple (at the time, the ex-boss) but your base is across the pond:  and some time in the next few days the master tapes become missing air-freight.

That's what happened, way back, to the production team of 'Triumph of the Nerds'.   At the time, they got on with the material they had - but some 20 years later, the VHS copies have been dusted off.   Read what happened next (with satisfyingly technical sidelines) here and then here.

PS  Paul, if you're reading this, my lips are sealed :-)

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

November 2011 meeting

Coming up next Monday, that's the 7th November 2011:  another 'show 'n tell' session, this time as promised Don Fairservice will be showcasing his recent work.   There'll be a chance to catch up with events in the outside world, with news of forthcoming software releases too - all in Phil's web roundup.  Plus, if time, we'll continue last month's doc / critique sessions with more from John Burgan - and possibly other materials currently being trawled!

See you on Monday next, 7pm at the BBC Club, Bristol.