Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Newspapers and technology

Interesting piece in The Economist:

Newspapers and technology: Network effects | The Economist:

"The internet may kill newspapers; but it is not clear if that matters. For society, what matters is that people should have access to news, not that it should be delivered through any particular medium; and, for the consumer, the faster it travels, the better."

It's patently obvious

According to the New York Daily News, patent analysis by Thomson and Reuters points to a real upswing in patents related to 3D viewing. Now, whether this in turn means that the technology is a definite winner is, of course, a bit more contested. But the effort is certainly there...

"* 3-D TV in Your Living Room: It will only be a matter of time before you can enjoy 3-D television programs from your couch. From 2003 to 2008, patent activity in the 3-D television space grew by 69%. Breakthrough new technologies include lenticular lenses, which create a more natural 3-D viewing experience without the need for special glasses.

* Capture Moments With 3-D Photos: 3-D photographic technology is also on the rise; it grew by 57% from 2003 to 2009 as the digital camera industry works to combat declines in other areas.

* 3-D Glasses Are Big Business: A great deal of 3-D cinema innovation has less to do with movie production than it does with ancillary products. From 2003 to 2008, patent activity in the 3-D cinema space grew by 45%. Areas receiving the most attention include: projection systems, specialized glasses, cleaning apparatus and registration systems for glasses."

More (and a distressing habit of spelling 3D as 3-D) here.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Bugger Avatar

[via sfx]
"According to New Zealand’s Dominion Post Peter Jackson is secretly developing a sci-fi film based on the Mortal Engines books by Philip Reeve.

The newspaper claims that Weta Workshops is already busy with designs, but a spokesman for the company would only respond, “any comment should come from Peter.'

The article also points out that Jackson has also optioned the rights to the historic-fantasy Temeraire novels by Naomi Novik, which tell an alternative version of the Napoleonic Wars where tame dragons are used for aerial attacks."

SFX: the leading science fiction, fantasy and horror magazine:

Friday, 18 December 2009

And so...Xmas

Well, not yet. But if you're tried to get anyone in the broadcast industry on the phone or raise them via email today, you'll know that Xmas has started early this year - about a week early. It's Friday the 18th of December, and everyone is either snow-bound and at home or down the pub.

Might as well join them. Peeking through the looking-glass to January, 2010's looking manic.

Monday, 7 December 2009

An imprefect science

Fascinating insight into how things can go wrong in the broadcast chain from the BBC's tech guru, Andy Quested.

Yes, Doctor Who should have been in 5.1! Something the dubbing mixer pointed out quite forcefully on the Monday morning after transmission. Before he contacted me I had discovered the programme was only in stereo on the server but the delivered tape had the full surround audio. After a bit of investigation we discovered someone had routed one of the server ingest video tape players to another area and changed the audio replay options to a non-standard mode. When the machine was routed back to its normal role the audio set-up was not reset and the next programme in the stack for loading was Doctor Who."

[And yes, 'imprefect' was a joke]

More at the source. BBC - BBC Internet Blog: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Encoding: Before we start

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Somali pirate stock exchange

This is the point where the world actually turns into a Bruce Sterling-written satire.

Somali pirates have set up a stock exchange to attract investors, according to Reuters Here's one woman's brief story:

"Piracy investor Sahra Ibrahim, a 22-year-old divorcee, was lined up with others waiting for her cut of a ransom pay-out after one of the gangs freed a Spanish tuna fishing vessel.

'I am waiting for my share after I contributed a rocket-propelled grenade for the operation,' she said, adding that she got the weapon from her ex-husband in alimony.

'I am really happy and lucky. I have made $75,000 in only 38 days since I joined the 'company'.'"

Wonder when the futures market will kick off?

Somali sea gangs lure investors at pirate lair | Reuters

Monday, 30 November 2009

BBC admits HDTV is being squeezed - Rapid TV News

Chris Forrester at Rapid TV News with more on the BBC HD bitrate problems

BBC admits HDTV is being squeezed - Rapid TV News: "The BBC's Roly Keating, formally the Controller of BBC 2 but now the broadcaster's head of archive content, has confirmed that the BBC has cut back its HDTV transmission bit-rate by almost 40%."

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Incoming news

A busy old time, with most of the stuff posted about on 12 November still ongoing. Plus there's a Sony press conference on Wednesday that the company's been trailing for a month or two now which promises news that will redefine the word 'significant'. Well, maybe not, but it does promise not to be run of the mill at least...

The Epic HDTV Buyer's Guide Flowchart - HDTV - Gizmodo

Because there are flowcharts and there are flowcharts

The Epic HDTV Buyer's Guide Flowchart - HDTV - Gizmodo

Friday, 13 November 2009

BBC turns down the flow

Chris Forrester on trouble at t'mill.

BBC cuts HDTV bit-rate - Rapid TV News: "Now we know why the BBC’s HDTV images are suffering. Ordinary viewers have been complaining about the BBC’s picture quality, and there’s little doubt amongst the industry’s ‘golden eyes’ that the bit-rate spigot is being tightened."

BBC turns wick down

Chris Forrester on trouble at t'mill.

BBC cuts HDTV bit-rate - Rapid TV News: "Now we know why the BBC’s HDTV images are suffering. Ordinary viewers have been complaining about the BBC’s picture quality, and there’s little doubt amongst the industry’s ‘golden eyes’ that the bit-rate spigot is being tightened."

Thursday, 12 November 2009

20121? It's going to be a long three years

A potentially useful infographic to be deployed and referred to at any point over the next three years when Some Idiot in the Pub starts banging on about how the world is going to end in 2012.

It's not.


The only significance to 2012 is a) that the likes of me will have been writing about the broadcasting of the Olympics for what will feel like forever by then and b) the events of Rush's seminal 2112 are still 100 years in the future ;-)

Anyway: here's the link: 2012: The End Of The World? | Information Is Beautiful

Current projects on the boil

Quick round up on what's keeping the iMac humming

Broadcast - OB year-end round-up feature

ISE Daily - Working on preshow news

Sony - Corporate case study

Project X - Sorry, if I told you I'd have to kill you. But suffice to say it's webby.

Misc - Couple of press releases for various clients

And before I wrote all that down I was thinking it was a quiet month so far!

Monday, 9 November 2009

Foursquare - 5 x 5?

Feel really quite torn by this. On one hand, being someone of a fairly geographic and map-oriented persuasion, being able to geographically track my friends and my life is immensely appealing. On the other though, at what point do you stop experiencing the world fully unless it's foursquared, facebooked or tweeted - nevermind the privacy issues.

It's the consumption of tourist spaces by photographs taken to the next level. The experiential nature of being somewhere has to be validated with evidence which, as it moves towards the realtime web, means that that validation inevitably dilutes the actual experience of being there.

As to foursquare, no iPhone and working from home kind of puts the mockers on that, but I do kind of wonder for how long.



Feel really quite torn by this. On one hand, being someone of a fairly geographic and map-oriented persuasion, being able to geographically track my friends and my life is immensely appealing. On the other though, at what point do you stop experiencing the world fully unless it's foursquared, facebooked or tweeted - nevermind the privacy issues.

It's the consumption of tourist spaces by photographs taken to the next level. The experiential nature of being somewhere has to be validated with evidence which, as it moves towards the realtime web, means that that validation inevitably dilutes the actual experience of being there.

As to foursquare, no iPhone and working from home kind of puts the mockers on that, but I do kind of wonder for how long.


Friday, 23 October 2009

Andy & Kate’s Grecian Odyssey – A Decent Proposal

The short version: I asked Kate to marry me. She said yes.

The long version: Galaxidi was perfect. I’d been waiting to ask Kate to marry me for some time, and the blue waters of Galaxidi’s twin harbours with the yachts gently lapping at their moorings and even the cries of the gulls seemingly somnolent in the Mediterranean sun looked to provide a perfect backdrop. The hotel was in the budget range, but the room was large and clean, painted in a jaunty blue and white, and had a balcony overlooking the aforementioned dappled waters, so that fitted the bill too.

There were only two problems. The first, was the election. Delphi is meant to be the most romantic of the Ancient sites in Greece – haunting, mysterious and slumbering under the weight of history – but it was closed because of the election. Whether they were worried that people would go there and consult the Oracle before voting, we didn’t know. Certainly the election was arousing passions, one Greek TV channel having an entertaining version of the Brady Bunch opening credits where men in insets in the main picture simply shouted at each other for an hour or so. But either way, Delphi as a romantic hors d’ouvre to the evening’s main course of pledging undying devotion was a bit of a #fail.

The second was champagne, which is not a regular commodity in your average Greek taberna or corner shop. Luckily, however, Galaxidi is just a couple of hours down the coast from Athens and has been well and truly discovered by the Greek yachtie set, which means that an awfully nice young Dutch chap living there could walk me to a shop which sold the stuff at daft prices to even dafter yachties. He shook me by the hand and wished me luck. “I hope she says yes,” he said.

What do you mean *you* hope she says yes, I thought.

I went through the checklist.

Location – check
Balcony – check
Sparkling sea - check
Sunset – check
Champagne – check
*Cold* champagne – well, almost
Fly done up (always worthwhile) – check
Girlfriend – check
One knee – check
Ring – check

So, no time like the present then...

I have no idea what I said. I just remember grinning foolishly afterwards and being very, very happy. In fact I really don’t remember much of the rest of the evening. There was good wine and good food in a restaurant overlooking the darkening harbour, there were even a couple of cold beers afterwards. But to be honest, it’s all a bit of a blur – just floating along on a happy cloud with the world turning on its axis around us by way of a novelty. We became the centre of things. What I do remember is that every time I looked down at Kate’s hand there was a silver band arcing across her finger and it just looked very, very right.

HD helps drive Sky

Helped no doubt by slashing the price of a Sky+ HD box from £150 to £49, Sky has added 287,000 subscribers on the HD side of things, a threefold increase on the prior year, to reach a total of 1.6 million households.

Other relevant figures: a first quarter pre-tax profit of £279m; the broadcaster now has 9.5 million customers for the first time in its history; and on the downside, churn rose to 11.3% from 9.9% in the previous quarter after it hiked direct-to-home subscriptions.

More here

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Nailing jelly to the wall

Finally back in the work groove again. Can't complain too much as the disruption was caused by a wonderful holiday to Greece (details here) and then a trip to Paris with Sony for the unveiling of the PDW-350 and the EX1R.

Now catching up on some case study writing for various corporate clients including Evolutions, VMI and SaDIE. Oh, and then there's that potential Radio 4 play that's languishing somewhere at the start of the second act...

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Andy & Kate’s Grecian Odyssey – A Brief Note About Driving

We did a lot of it, about 2100km in total, and everywhere we went we saw little roadside shrines by the road marking the point where some unfortunate had come unglued from the tarmac and then from life in short order. These aren’t your normal wilted bunch of flowers by the road, these are mini churches full of offerings and the fact that there are so many of them concentrates the mind rather wonderfully.

The theory part of the Greek Driving Test must be the quickest exam in the history of the world (“Can you see that sign? Yes? You’ve passed, well done.”) and we’re not sure we ever worked out the actual rules at road junctions. What seems to happen in an absence of markings is that people turn up from different directions and, depending on speed, make urgent or really urgent eye contact with each other. Some sort of telepathic code is then passed between the drivers, one mashes his foot to the floor, the others stamp on the brakes and/or swerve, and everyone carries on to the next junction and repeats the process. Still, it seems to work well enough, though perhaps the fact that the hire car we had was a sort of greeny yellow that you can only by rights get if you dip metal in the sea at Sellafield for about five years helped our progress.

Andy & Kate’s Grecian Odyssey – Meteora Shower!

If you’ve ever watched The Shining, you’ll have some idea of what our hotel in Meteora was like. It was a giant, five-star place perched on a hill at the end of a dirt track that was crewed entirely by an Eastern European couple with their obsessive compulsive kid, who had his toys lined up in regimented rows in the enormous, vaulted central hall.

“What time do you serve dinner?” we asked, naively.

“We don’t do food.”

“You don’t do *what*?”

Turns out, after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, that they did do food, but only when tour groups were staying and, as the one that was there that night were all going out to eat, it was a big of crisps or a drive to the nearest village. Hmmmm. We wondered around the place, it’s huge marble staircases, and echoing lonely corridors and wondered exactly how much money was being laundered through the place by Russian drug czars. Maybe there’s an exchange scheme going on, and somewhere on a Russian steppe Greek hoteliers are selling weed to bemused cossacks.

The view was good though. Once upon a time, around the 11th century, a monk went up a rock and became a hermit. Then some others went to join him, which kind of blew his hermit status, but did give them the werewithal to start building a small monastery. Some other wandering hermits in search of a nice, high place to perch saw this, and climbed up a nearby rock and repeated the process (which became rather a matter of survival when the Turks invaded). Do that a few more times and you have Meteora, a landscape of smooth sided rocky pillars with (nowadays) six active monasteries perched precariously on their precipices and undoubtedly one of the most stunning landscapes on Earth.

Once reached only by rope ladder and windlass, steps were finally built up to them in the early 20th century and the monks, knowing a good thing when they saw it, started opening their monasteries to the tourist trade. These places are fascinating, the biggest – Moni Megalou – in particular being a repository of some of the best religious art it’s ever been my pleasure to clap eyes on (as well as some entertainingly feisty stuff painted around the time of the German occupation [1]. Dodging the inevitable puffing and panting tour groups and spending some time in the incredibly ornate churches on our own was an amazing experience, especially as the Orthodox frescoes are not exactly restrained when it comes to depicting the travails of the martyrs.

The pictures (and there are plenty more of them here) really don’t do it justice, so we suggest you grab any opportunity to head up there yourselves at some point and yank firmly with both hands. Just watch out for the Hotel Meteora and the bloke at the reception desk typing ‘All work and no play makes Vlad a dull boy’ time and time again...

[1] Greece has, at one time or another, been occupied by pretty much every invading force in history, with the result that you can point to pretty much any part of the Greek landscape and the history books will tell you that x number of people got massacred there a few centuries back. The value of x is often distressingly high.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Andy & Kate’s Grecian Odyssey – Acropolis Now!

Much to my shame, I realised as we were planning this trip over the summer that my knowledge of Greece comes from the following really rather limited sources:

Asterix – the books [1]
300 – the film
Rumbustious legends involving Zeus having sex with girls disguised as a bull/white swan/whatever
Shirley Valentine – the film

Thus, while Kate was charting a route around the Peloponnese for us, I wasn’t really much help, as comments such as ‘Can we see where Getafix added the blue dye to the magic potion so the Romans would get disqualified from the Ancient Olympics for taking banned substances?’ were met with a slightly frosty look.

However, despite my best efforts at disruption, a route was planned, hotels were booked, and following a quick bout of post-IBC swine flu, we headed off to Athens as a first stop. Come what may, I figured I had to know a little bit more about the country when I got back than I did before I went. It wouldn’t be that hard...

Pretty much the first thing I did find out was that Kate had used me as a drugs mule on the way out. Rifling through the Lonely Planet on the rooftop terrace of the Acropolis View Hotel (which does exactly what it says on the tin) while working out what to see first, I came across the bit that said Codeine is banned in Greece and you can get in fairly brisk amounts of trouble for carrying it around.

“Did you bring those Co-Codamol pills in case your back starts hurting?” I asked innocently

“No,” she replied, “you did. They’re in your rucksack.”

She swears that she didn’t know too...

Anyway, we decided to celebrate my non-arrest and cavity search at the border by heading up to the Acropolis the day after and having a look around. So did several thousand other people at exactly the same time. The word ‘Acropolis’ comes from the Ancient Greek, ‘acro’ meaning ‘many and ‘polis’ meaning ‘idiots’ [2] and the site was absolutely rammed. It’s on every nation’s Europe in 7 Days itinerary and there’s a constant stream of coaches turning up at the base of the site, disgorging their slightly befuddled occupants, and then retiring for a quick cigarette [3] while their camera-wielding passengers get herded in round the monuments and ruins and then herded out again.

Is it worth the experience? I’m not sure. Managed to trot back there again towards the end of the holiday and went in with about 15 minutes of opening time left when there were much less people and it still didn’t have an aura about it. Maybe that’s because of its history. The Parthenon – the Temple of Athena built by Pericles and one of the most famous buildings in the world – has been variously used as an ammo dump, blown up, eaten alive by acid rain, and had some of its most sumptuous treasures nicked by the British. As a result, it resembles more of a World Heritage Building Site than anything while the Greek authorities pursue a fairly aggressive intervention and rebuild it, using new marble where the old bits have been subject to a little bit too much gunpowder, acid or avaricious Brit nobility. In fact, there’s a lot of this going on round the country, with the result that some ancient monuments almost look as if Frankenstein actually retrained as an architect: a horde of crazed Igors going round cementing old bits of marble together with new ones and not always worrying too much about the concrete in-between.

It’s beautiful up there in its own way, especially as you look down on the multitude of white buildings of modern Athens lapping up against the surrounding hills like a frozen sea, but there are places in Greece that have a far far better sense of the historical and yes, even the sacred.

And that’s even on its own slopes as we move away from The Acropolis and things get much saner very quickly. Walk around the Ancient Agora and there’s almost no-one about; sit on one of the marble seats of the Theatre of Dionysus, looking at the stage in front of you where Aristophanes first debuted Lysistrata and The Wasps, and Aeschylus first depicted Agamemnon's dysfunctional family ties, and you can almost have the place to yourself; head to the National Archeological Museum and you’ll find crowds, but now most of them have been siphoned off to the new Acropolis Museum the footfalls are a lot sparser than they could have been.

Which was a good job too as Kate became glued to the Antikythera Mechanism in quite an impressive way. Plenty about it all on the web, but suffice to say for the moment that:

“it’s an ancient mechanical calculator (also described as the first known mechanical computer) designed to calculate astronomical positions. It was recovered in 1901 from the Antikythera wreck but its complexity and significance were not understood until decades later. It is now thought to have been built about 150–100 BC. Technological artefacts of similar complexity did not reappear until a thousand years later.”

So there. In fact, she ended up performing a circular dance around it with another Antikythera-obsessive, both fairly crazed with excitement as they gestured and pointed out significant aspects of it to their other halves. Who made it? Why and where? How did the knowledge get lost? And, more importantly, would it help you buy a train ticket up to Meteora?

Okay, perhaps not the latter, but while buying said tickety may sound like a trivial thing, it turned out to be a task that Hercules would have had more than one problem with. Go to station, get sent to ticket office in other part of city, wait in queue, get told when it’s your turn that there will now be a ten minute break for some reason, wait for ten minutes, wait for another ten, and another, start ruminating that if this is how bad it is to get a ticket what might it be like to travel on the trains themselves, phone up Hertz and start your car hire three days early.

Time for one last meal before we went though, down in a lovely part of the city where most of the shops sell religious paraphernalia for the Greek Orthodox Church. Which, given that the average Orthodox village church makes a Catholic cathedral look like a Wesleyan chapel, is a fairly serious amount of bling. Given the fact also that Kate is by now making great strides with the Greek language (while I’m still at the smiling sweetly and saying thank you in English a lot stage) the waiter turns to me and says “You should marry her.”

Now, it’s funny that you should say that...

[1] Asterix is actually the foundation of all my knowledge of the Ancient World. Sadly...
[2] This is a lie. But it might as well not be...
[3] Well, not the coach, but the driver will. Greece has elevated competitive smoking to an artform and no opportunity for a crafty fag can be missed

Monday, 28 September 2009

Brooker vs Windows vs Mac

The Gruaniad's Charlie Brooker in coruscating form...

"Seriously, stop it. I don't care if Mac stuff is better. I don't care if Mac stuff is cool. I don't care if every Mac product comes equipped a magic button on the side that causes it to piddle gold coins and resurrect the dead and make holographic unicorns dance inside your head. I'm not buying one, so shut up and go home. Go back to your house. I know, you've got an iHouse. The walls are brushed aluminum. There's a glowing Apple logo on the roof. And you love it there. You absolute MONSTER."

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Cthulu + interweb = amusement

Don't ask me why, it just does...

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

The Tamiflu Kid

And so the post-IBC lurgy manages to turn into full-on swine flu. Not pleasant, especially with the deadlines really starting to bite. Still, not as bad as the year the immortal Scott Lehane, the Hunter S Thompson of broadcast industry journalism and a good friend and colleague, came back from Amsterdam with Legionnaire's Disease...

In the meantime, the Exec Summary of the show - the first time we've published one - can be found here.

Sydney, Mars

Nothing quite like a red dust storm to turn a city you know into something you quite manifestly don't. Luna Park? More like Olympos Park as Sydney becomes Big Man's playground. BBC NEWS | Have Your Say | Your pictures: Sydney dust storm

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Amsterdam over

So, that's IBC over with for another year. We did something like 650 stories from the showfloor all in all including the pre-print material, all of which in one way or another are available online here. Themes of the show? Stereo 3D, Loudness, the environment, iPhone apps, and the prospect of London 2012 being firmly to the fore of the marketing mix from next year on.

Bit of post-show analysis to contend with now along with a smidgeon of corporate work. Then it's off to Greece with Kate for a fortnight of general exploration, a trip that will no doubt be covered at a length that some may call excruciating over on Sto(ut)opia.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Fire in the Hole!

A stunning NASA image of the fires that ranged above LA this week. Nothing more to add than that - just satellite porn basically.

Friday, 4 September 2009

August went where exactly?

So, another summer sacrificed on the altar that is IBC. Can't complain too much financially, but one moment it's July, the next it's autumn, and all that's happened in the interim is that it's rained a bit and England have somehow contrived to win the Ashes.

Still, in that period we've done over 500 new stories for the show, as well as numerous other bits and pieces such as the Resellers piece that's finally out in this week's Broadcast (which you can read here).

IBC itself starts in a week exactly. Will be Tweeting from the show via the IBCDaily09 account. See you at the RAI...

A history lesson

A nice one from the Daily Telegraph:How 20 popular websites looked when they launched.

All brings back fond memories from back in the early days of all this interweb malarkey of giving up and going to another site whenever you'd see a jpeg loading...

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Naming metal bands

Presenting the rather wonderful etymology of heavy metal band names...

flow_heavymetal.jpg (JPEG Image, 1700x1100 pixels) - Scaled (72%)

Monday, 17 August 2009

Left behind...

Interesting one from the Grauniad.

Has the left missed its moment? The radical American writer Rebecca Solnit fears so. 'It felt like last October [the peak of the banking panic] was the golden moment to put forward an alternative vision,' she says. 'What's been dismaying is that there has been so little coherent response from the left since.'

Has the left blown its big chance of success? | Politics | The Guardian:

Saturday, 8 August 2009


Scientists Track Down Source of Earth’s Hum | Wired Science | "After discovering the mysterious low-frequency buzz in 1998, scientists figured out that the Earth’s hum is caused not by earthquakes or atmospheric turbulence, but by ocean waves colliding with the seafloor. Now, researchers have pinpointed the source of the Earth’s “background noise,” and it looks like it’s coming primarily from the Pacific coast of North America."

Friday, 7 August 2009

Kill or cure? Sell papers either way

Mind boggling. There is a technical term in the newspaper business for the moment when a newspaper, having reported an event with great conviction one week, says the opposite the following week with equal conviction. It is called a “reverse ferret”.

This site is a veritable index of ferretology as, in its own words, it "Help[s] to make sense of the Daily Mail’s ongoing effort to classify every inanimate object into those that cause cancer and those that prevent it," - and often discovering that they do both at some point or other.

Warning: reading this site could affect house prices...

Kill or cure?:

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Head down for IBC

Finished processing the news stories for this year's IBC Daily, and now at full tilt on working through the mass of material that we pre-print for the show itself, as well as its various online incarnations.

Add in a Broadcast feature on resellers, various bits and pieces of corporate work, and an unscheduled house move (landlord didn't pay the mortgage - oops) and it's a bit of a busy time all in all. Infrequent updates as and when...

Friday, 3 July 2009

Been a bit of a busy few weeks and - lawks and a-lordy, wouldn't you know it - there's more to come.

Got a veritable blizzard of features that have to be completed in July plus, of course, the IBC Daily work starts in earnest this month. The first story came in from the contributing journos last week, and there's a steady trickle via the email that promises to turn into a major full-on flood any moment soon.

Ah well, at least I don't need an excuse to stay at home with the cricket on...;-)

Friday, 12 June 2009

DTG unveils 3DTV findings

Much interesting stuff in the DTG's report on 3DTV. Basically, the organisation just bombarded its members with questions and collated the replies, but as always with these things, it's who you get the replies from that matters. Thus the DTG survey carries a fair bit of weight.

Quite a lot of different data to wade though, but a couple of salient points below.

Though prototype technologies exist, most (81%) agree that current systems are too immature for a successful market launch. 3DTV could, however, become a mass entertainment medium in the UK within three to five years (56% stating a timeframe), and the UK could lead the world (70%).

Most members (85%) have allocated some level of R&D budget, with most of them (64%) describing it as "very limited funding".

The business case is far from being established (only 14% agreed it had), largely due to the difficulty of forecasting consumer acceptance of an emerging technology and its potential take-up (54%), and uncertainties over the business model.

TVBEurope - DTG unveils 3DTV findings

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Hollywood actors agree pay deal

"The main US actors' union has agreed a deal with the major Hollywood studios after a year of acrimonious pay talks which almost led to strike action.

Members of the Screen Actors Guild voted to back a two-year deal covering films and prime-time TV shows.

The SAG said the deal raised actors' minimum pay by 3% as part of a $105m package of improvements.

But there appeared to be no significant pay increase for internet appearances - a key sticking point in the talks."

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Hollywood actors agree pay deal:

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Next up - Studios, case studies and IBC

A busy week with lots going on. And that's before we get to the importance of watching as much Twenty20 cricket as humanly possible!

Broadcast: a feature on the studios sector and - somewhat inevitably - how it's faring in the Tough Economic Climate (copyright all features). Also cueing something up looking at resellers and their own problems in the TEC. Might need a new acronym for that...

Case studies: working on a load for VMI and Fineline Media Finance, for VMI themselves and Bubble & Squeak respectively, everything from shoots using P2 in Malaysia to people buying cameras so that other people can gad off and do shoots in Malaysia. In a truly serendipitous manner, even have to do one story about one company for the other...

IBC: the first of the eDaily email newsletters goes out imminently. Have set up a Twitter account ( to highlight what's going on. Plenty of stuff to talk about already (speakers, deals etc) and will be able to highlight exhibitor news and even drop in the odd rumour as the show gets nearer.

In a word, phew. And I thought Gordon Brown was having a busy time of it...

Monday, 25 May 2009

3D = Definite Deployment Due

Having just talked to a load of OB companies for a forthcoming Broadcast feature looking at the sector, I'm starting to review my long-standing slight scepticism on the format. Everyone, it seems, is doing tests, they all say they can do it quite simply, and the only thing holding the production side of things back is the cameras.

I still think there is a way to go in two areas - home delivery and also the actual visual language of putting 3D broadcasts together - but am happy to concede that it's probably all now going to happen. When, of course, is another matter entirely...

Friday, 15 May 2009

A quick restorative

Just finished a piece for Broadcast on restoration of archive material, and how the square of SD archive can be circled with the HD present (so to speak). Some interesting stuff in there...out next Thursday.

The pic above shows two versions of Price & Prejudice, with the restored and rather lovely Blu-ray version on the left.

A couple of good quotes in particular from Paul Gardner, Head of Archive at Darlow Smithson says:

“A few years ago, the requirement tended to be only 30% of SD footage allowed in a documentary for the international market. Now that’s dropped to 10%, and making historical programmes with only 10% SD is very difficult.”

Gardner won the Researcher of the Year at the recent Focal International Awards 2009 for ‘The Thriller in Manila’, a sports doc about the infamous 1975 Ali vs Frazier fight in The Philippines. “That had 50 minutes of SD archive in a 100 minute programme, and you couldn’t make it under those rules today,” he says.

Next up: a feature on OB for Broadcast, various bits and pieces of a press release nature, and the start of serious preparations for this year's IBC Daily and it's various e-shots.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

NAB = Need Another Brain

Well, that's NAB largely wrapped up. Just completed the last TVBe email full of news from the show and that, it seems, is that. Some good products have come out of it. AJA's Ki Pro deck was interesting, Panasonic's dedicated stereo 3D rig looked the part (and surely if 3D is going to go mainstream, it needs dedicated kit, not lashed up home-brew equipment), there were interesting onboard digital camera recorders from S.two and Convergent, and Blackmagic's UltraScope was a pretty nifty innovation as well.

All good. Nothing major or world-shattering, but good solid kit that should keep the industry ticking over while we wait for 3D to take off, super-high-massive-vision to debut, telepathic transmission to be invented (Big Brother straight to your frontal lobes! Aiee! The horror!) or whatever comes next...

In the meantime, the newsroom design piece for Broadcast comes out on Thursday. Shame the ITV newsroom pic wasn't big enough to be the lead, but it's a good piece anyway and there are some interesting points to be made in it. And it's now straight into another one for the magazine on archive restoration.

Oh, and I also had my first IBC meeting last week. Incoming!

Thursday, 23 April 2009

30,186 Apples a day

30,186 is how many iPods Apple sells every day of every week, 11m of them in a year. And they have contributed rather largely to the Cupertino-based company posting impressive revenue results, especially give the global financial Götterdämmerung that's currently going on.

Profits are $1.21bn, up 15% on last year on quarterly revenues of over $8bn. As for the iPhone, it managed to shift 3.7m units round the world, generating $2.2bn while it did so.

All very impressive, and even more so when you realise that Mac sales are down 3% but that the company has actually managed to increase its profit margins over the past three years - partly due to its ability to leverage its sheer size in the Flash memory purchasing market. Writing this on one of their lovely but infernally expensive machines, I'm not surprised.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

NAB = Numbers Almost Bad

Well the first figures are in and seem to bear up the anecdotal evidence from the showfloor that the show is definitely quieter than before. Final figures are yet to be released (massaged did someone say at the back? - cynic!) but so far seem to be around 20,000 down at a shade over 80,000. Interestingly though, overseas visitors have only fallen by about 4000 to 23,000 or thereabouts.

Monitoring the news coming out of Vegas though it's been a quiet show for products as well as visitors, with little in the way of incandescent announcements to set the world on fire. Some post stuff, some 3D stuff, some camera stuff...the theme of the show seems to be encouraging greater efficiencies out of existing tech and greater interoperability between it all. Less a Great Leap Forward and more of a What Do We Do With What We've Already Got, Eh? - and probably no bad thing because of that. Every industry needs a fallow year while it catches its breath now and then.

And IBC is already coming out fighting. Here's part of a statement the Amsterdam show released this morning, with Mike Crimp answering the questions:

How are plans for IBC2009?

Exhibition bookings for IBC2009 are still very strong. Currently we are about 10% down on the final space requirement for last year, which at this time is very good. My view is that we will have an excellent show, filling the RAI Centre, and perhaps the space available to us in the new Elicium building. Sony is the only major company at IBC2008 which has not signed up for this year.

Does that mean IBC2009 will be a smaller exhibition than last year?

We are a little smaller because many exhibitors have trimmed their stand space a little, and we fully understand why they need to do this.

Sadly, we are seeing some cancellations from companies who are struggling in the market, but these are being replaced by fresh applications. Last month we were able to allocate stands to 25 new companies, who were waiting for space in the right areas for them. It may be hard to believe but I promise it is true: new bookings are still outrunning cancellations for IBC2009. Sustainability is the keyword.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Not strictly relevant

Which is why I've posted this story from New Scientist about a map generated to illustrate temporal distances from major cities worldwide on the personal site and not here. Still interesting enough to go have a look though IMHO...More here.

Where is everywhere?

Interesting one via New Scientist: a map which shows how far away everywhere is from everywhere else temporally:

"The maps are based on a model which calculated how long it would take to travel to the nearest city of 50,000 or more people by land or water. The model combines information on terrain and access to road, rail and river networks (see the maps). It also considers how factors such as altitude, steepness of terrain and hold-ups like border crossings slow travel.

Plotted onto a map, the results throw up surprises. First, less than 10 per cent of the world's land is more than 48 hours of ground-based travel from the nearest city. What's more, many areas considered remote and inaccessible are not as far from civilisation as you might think. In the Amazon, for example, extensive river networks and an increasing number of roads mean that only 20 per cent of the land is more than two days from a city - around the same proportion as Canada's Quebec province."

More here.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

NAB = Not Actually Bothered

Okay, so that's a slight exaggeration I admit. Part of me would love to be in Vegas for this year's show, especially to sit in on all the 3D cinema stuff that's going to be talked about out there. It is though a long and expensive way to go, as a lot of other people seem to be deciding, so I'll follow it remotely from the comfort of my own sun-kissed part of Rutland.*

In the meantime, plenty to be getting on with, including a feature for Broadcast on newsrooms which looks at how the physical layout of the places has changed with the advent of new technologies. Should be interesting...Now, if only all the people I need to talk to aren't in Vegas at the moment...

*Only slight sarcasm there...

Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre

Dr Who's Planet of the Dead episode as redone by The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre. Really rather brilliant.

YouTube - Planet Of The Dead - Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

The name's Snell. Just Snell...

Pro-Bel and Snell & Wilcox have decided to move forward into the brave new broadcast future together under the name Snell. So much so simple, but the enjoyment comes from the press release accompanying said announcement, which is an entertaining masterpiece of corporate cobblers.

"At the same time the Snell name and new branding position for the company introduces the ambitious, passionate and customer-focused agenda that will define our activities in the future.”


Thursday, 9 April 2009

Kermode & Mayo - not for long?

Looks like Simon Mayo has declined a move up to Salford when 5Live relocates and, as a result, the best hour of radio in existence is under threat.

Still, a good interview with the Good Doctor K. Prize quote: "God's role in the world? Oh, come on. I'm just a guy who likes The Exorcist."

Drawn to the devil: 5 Live's horror-loving film reviewer Mark Kermode talks to Mark Lawson | Film | The Guardian

More Dwarfism

Writing about Red Dwarf: Back to Earth again. Just had to do a primer for people who've never heard of it (which includes most of the US apparently. Inevitably they tried a US version full of quite bewilderingly attractive people, but the pilot never screened). Anyway, it was difficult to do without using the word 'Smeghead' once or going into the wonders of Mr Flibble. but 'twas done all the same. Now looking in a bit more detail at the vfx work. I'd post a pic, but I'd be shot if I did and then large men called Len would come round and shoot you too for having seen it. Maybe after Easter...

Now, smoke me a kipper, I'll be back by breakfast.

UPDATE: Seen the first ep and the vfx work is, indeed, rather splendid.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

That April Fool release in full

BBP! Introduces VFX For All

1 April 2009 – Film goers and game players will soon have a whole new way of looking at the world thanks to radical new realtime VFX sunglasses technology being introduced by Biff Bang Pow!, a new knowledge-based, satisfaction-oriented start-up based in Peterborough.

The glasses, dubbed Eye Candy, work by overlaying realtime special effects sequences over real life events. Wearers can thus add explosions to everyday events such as making a cup of tea, dinosaur rampages to mundane tasks such as popping out for lunch, or even complete alien visitations to something as simple as taking the dog for a walk.

And while it perhaps sounds gimmicky, according to company founder Tiberius J Kirk, it addresses a serious psychological need in today's Web 2.0/Film 3.0/Reality 1.0 world.

“Research is finding that people who immerse themselves in violent gaming or Hollywood blockbusters for any length of time experience profound sensory deprivation and a psychological disconnect when they decouple themselves from their media ingest and return to what we refer to as the 'normal world',” he says. “We call this Sensory Grieving. By wearing Eye Candy, however, they can augment reality, and the default setting is that the glasses 'dial down' the vfx augmentation over a couple of days. For example, explosions become smaller, dinosaurs turn from raptors to vegetarians, and aliens come in peace rather than wanting to take over the world and enslave humanity as a food source. After a couple of days, when they have been parachuted back to the so-called 'normal world' with a soft landing, they can then remove the glasses and get on with their lives without experiencing any residual trauma.”

The glasses, which also feature ear buds for realtime soundtrack delivery, are powered by sept-core processors and the latest generation Graphics Processing Units, which, along with batteries, are carried along in a separate backpack. Glasses and backpack send and receive data via Bluetooth, and a handbag model for fashion-concious female wearers is also in development.

Interest in the glasses is widespread and not just confined to the entertainment community. “We have even had calls from religious groups who want to be able to use the technology to pixellate out body parts so that their members can walk along beaches without fear of seeing something sinful,” says Kirk.

The Eye Candy glasses will go on sale this Summer. Pricing to be announced.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Vegas here we come?

That's the first of the NAB previews finished. It'll be interesting to see how many actually go out to Vegas this year. Numbers were down last year already - albeit by a mere few thousand - and, of course, the economy has driven a long way off a very tall cliff since then.

One aspect of all this a few people have commented on is that it could herald the growth of the local show. Broadcast Video Expo was quite a lively little event back in February, and the feeling is that smaller, local shows with associated lower travel costs, could be the way forward in straitened times.

27,000 overseas visitors went out to NAB last year. Bets on it being under 20,000 this year?

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Sony projector success

Quite a big story from the States: the AMC cinema chain has just ordered a rather large amount of Sony 4K projectors for its theatres and is paying $315m for the privilege.

Important because a) it brings Sony almost level with TI (5000 projectors as opposed to TI's installed base of 5500) and b) it gives 4k production a real boost. There will probably be a c) and a d) too - perhaps time to try and line up an interview with someone there...

Sony to Install Digital Projectors in AMC Theaters -

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Mid-Week Humping

After a few diverse shenanigans involving a dog that went through rather than over a fence while chasing a small deer and subsequent visits to the vet, back in the work groove. An NAB preview is taking most of the waking hours, with a couple of press releases zipping in for urgent attention along the way.

Monday, 30 March 2009

3-D: The Future of Movies - TIME

A 3D piece from Time with some interesting stats and facts in.

3-D: The Future of Movies - TIME

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Sunday overtime

Up hideously early considering the clocks went forward to watch the Australian Grand Prix and, with an empty house and all the chores done, am fiddling about with bits and pieces of work. Part of that means trying to get together the material for this year's April Fool press release. Last year's, about a start-up company that had developed a new 8D system, got published in quite a few place (including here and here), so it's going to be a challenge to top that.

Post BSG

io9 assesses the runners and riders for that all important quality sci-fi dosage.

Your New Favorite Tv Show: What Show Is Your New Battlestar?

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Brand on the run

Latest TVB-e newsletter will hit desktops tomorrow. Got some good stories in it, including a rather innovative new product from Pixel Power called BrandManager which integrates a complete master control switcher with broadcast graphics for channel branding purposes. Clever stuff.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Wild at Heart

Trying to set up an interview with Anthony Geffen, the Director of The Wildest Dream. Film looks like it could be a good 'un...

Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab (1950-1951)

Waay coool...

Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab (1950-1951): "The set came with four types of uranium ore,"

Sci Fi science errors

Quite right too, but they missed the worst one: spaceships making a noise in a vacuum. Man, that bugs me!

SFX: the leading science fiction, fantasy and horror magazine

Monday, 23 March 2009

NAB - what goes up...

Starting work on a piece for Broadcast looking at the upcoming NAB show in Vegas. Plenty of products about to be launched there, but will there be anyone there to see them? It's almost an old Buddhist koan: if a brand new camera is launched to an empty press conference, does it make any noise?

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Preview finished

Just looked at the final proofs of Fineline Media Finance's Preview magazine, which I just wrote with Sadie at Bubble & Squeak. Good issue, with a nice piece on the RED camera in the UK kicking it all off. Previous issues (and the current one soon) here.

Small ones are more juicy

Finished a piece for Broadcast on cameras and miniaturisation - should be published on 26/03/09.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Analogue blogging

"Alfred Sirleaf is an analog blogger. He take runs the “Daily News”, a news hut by the side of a major road in the middle of Monrovia. He started it a number of years ago, stating that he wanted to get news into the hands of those who couldn’t afford newspapers, in the language that they could understand."

AfriGadget � Blog Archive � Liberia’s Blackboard Blogger

Monday, 2 March 2009

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Facebook infantalising

Normally the sort of thing I'd avoid as Luddite scaremongering, but this is Susan Greenfield talking and she does tend to know what she's talking about...

"She said she found it strange we are 'enthusiastically embracing' the possible erosion of our identity through social networking sites, since those that use such sites can lose a sense of where they themselves 'finish and the outside world begins'.

She claimed that sense of identity can be eroded by 'fast-paced, instant screen reactions, perhaps the next generation will define themselves by the responses of others'."

Facebook et al risk 'infantilising' the human mind | Media |

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

How are you coping with collapse-anxiety? - Boing Boing

How are you coping with collapse-anxiety? - Boing Boing: "I lived through the dotcom boom and bust in San Francisco, arriving in 1999 and departing in 2003, and the two things that stand out for me were 1) how fast it fell and how deep the bottom turned out to be and 2) how quickly the unthinkable became normal and people started to have fun and do cool stuff even without the stupid amounts of money sloshing around the city,"