Monday, July 23, 2012

Following the trail 1

I've made a little progress on the unfinished business from last week's wefcpug, here's the report from the meet-up:

Thanks to the remarkable quality of Richard's snappy new projector, we were able to watch the timelines and other media in super high quality - arguably in better quality than the original producers of our featured DVD did at the time!

SSD's are the flavour of the moment, both in R's 17" MBPro, and Phil's 2006 'Vintage' model.  Both SSD and RAM chips have record lower prices - and, for laptops especially, the speed in bootup and lower (quieter) power consumption make swapping a hard-drive to an SSD an attractive option for prologing the useful life of the machine.   You need to be confident in taking your mac apart, and well prepared - the splendid ifixit.com website is your guide here.   You also may need to read up about TRIM mode for some makes of SSD - and have done your homework about your own disk usage and required capacity.   If the cost of RAM has held you back from upgrading your mac - have a look around, you'll be surprised at how much chips have fallen in price in the last 12 months.

Our TV archaeology this month was from a newly available DVD of 'The Strange World of Gurney Slade' - a remarkable series of 6 half-hour comedies starring Anthony Newley, a gifted singer, dancer, composer and comic actor.   The programmes aired on ITV in 1960, and were a controversial choice for a peak Saturday night spot.   The sleeve-notes in the DVD, by Dick Fiddy of the BFI, tell how the mass audience dropped from 12.5 million to 8 for ep 2, which kicked the rest of the series into a late slot (where it still got around 5.5M).  A huge success with the critics, but by all accounts too far ahead of its time for the audience.

There's lots more to say about the shows, and plenty on the web, but one challenge arose on the night of our wefcpug screening.   The reason we're able to see the series at all, given its 1960 production date, is that it was shot on film, 35mm black and white (as far as we could see - but note below).   Whoever found the prints or struck new ones did a superb job - and on our large projection screen, details of locations stood out very well.   For instance, in a scene outside the TV studio, it's possible to read 'ATV Lighting Dept' on the side of a set of 'prop' ladders.   And some road signs were tantalisingly readable, not to mention recognisable in part.   The challenge then, would it be possible to find these locations again?

A first success:


The streetsign on this location reads Alexandra Rd NW8 (the dustbin lid, btw, still showed its prop number when lifted later in the scene).  Looking this up on Google maps shows a junction with Loudoun Rd which may just be what the sign in the background says.   But what of today?  Step forward, Google Streetview:



Not entirely satisfactory, is it?   The interactive link to this view is here
If you swivel around to face back up Alexandra Rd, it's a bit more promising.
Continued in the next post...(split because of blog post sizing issues)