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Friday, July 22, 2005


This week, Spencer E Holtaway and housemates acqiured a 32 inch widescreen television. While this is a vast improvement on the previous cheap box, Spencer E Holtaway has found a problem.

At 100hz refresh (most TV's today run at about 72hz) the raw quality of betamax recordings becomes very clear. It is my guess that betamax records at something that relates to 100hz but then loses quality when broadcast at 72hz. I love betamax at 72hz. That's what Frasier looks like, what Friends looks like, what any American TV show looks like.

I have just watched Frasier for the first time on this 100hz set. It looked dreadful. It lost the smooth feel American television has (because most televisions in the US are about 15 years behind European and Asian TVs in technical terms) and looked like a dreadfully cheap pilot. It looked like raw DV, from a modern camcorder. Dolly and pan movements are clear - you can see every jerk and jog on the way across the dolly track and every shake of the human hand - something I have never spotted on Frasier. It's very strange.

How can an improvement in technology ruin the way technology works in an emotive sense?

More on this later, as usual. Goodnight.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Film review for creative people: Entropy


"The hardest thing to do in life is direct your own"

Currently showing on Sky Movies, I was intrigued to see this film following Sky's brief synopsis: "Romantic comedy set during U2's Popmart tour starring Stephen Dorff as an aspiring filmmaker documenting the tour whilst his personal life continues in turmoil".

First, let me let you understand that this programme synopsis is really quite poorly written. It is more the case that the lead role played by Stephen Dorff is a film director who gets fired and then reverts to music video direction, hence U2's bit. Bono and Larry Mullen Jnr do, however, have nice little cameos.

I found the film interesting as a commentary on the way creative people think outside the world of work. From personal experience (including looking back at parts of my own life) it seems that creative people are very much in control of their professional careers - even when they are dealing with the big evil: the client. What we see in Entropy is the lead character's life fall apart in days, as he tries to re-build it into a better life than it was when things were working just a few days previous. When reality sets in (via the medium of thinking he is seeing Bono and his pet cat talking sense to him) the character instantly tries to revert to the situation as it was to start with - giving up on his new dreams and trying to find a solution to his problems.

Thank goodness there was a bitter-sweet ending. 'Romantic Comedy' started ringing in my subconscious in the final twenty minutes of the film, warning of a typical Hollywood happy ending. Bitter as things did not work out as 'planned', but sweet as our character learns from his mistakes. To make it extra-cheesy, the creative character uses the whole story as a basis for his next film. Aaw, how nice.

Anyway, a lot of this stuff reflects on my own life including details like talking to my cat about women when drunk out of my skull, so I thought it was quite interesting. I won't go into emotions as that's not what this page is about, but I will say the film was engaging for me, as a creative person. You might think it's utter wank, and indeed, there were a lot of things about it that were.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

GCSE Drama

While it may seem this article is out of place among other articles, I would like to stress that writing (on which I am commenting in following paragraphs) is a visual art not dissimilar to graphic design. It does, of course, also relate closely to the world of advertising in which words often come first, followed by art direction.

I was a fan of EastEnders for a long time, especially after my move to South-East London in 2002.

Since that point, plots have become ludicrously absurd (I recall there were two murders in one episode) and the quality of dialogue has been reduced to drivel similar to that found in GCSE drama students' scripts.

On watching the omnibus for the first time in many months, I saw the producers trying to be 'clever' by including an episode that featured four pairs of female characters learning to get along. Unfortunately, the script writers decided not to write the episode, but instead reel off a previously unsurpassed number of cliches. Every scene started with a character saying something similar to "You know what they say...". Dot and Pat's dialogue was easy: read the Bible once and re-write parts of it in 'modern-talk'. Groundbreaking.

Just to top it off, the style of writing throughout the 4-episode omnibus did not lend itself well to the screen at all. Details included character Danny Moon explaining that he's 'skint', then (rather theatrically) turning the empty bottle of beer he is holding up-side down to visually reiterate the dialogue. In case I didn't know what the words 'Pat, I'm skint, can you buy me a drink' meant.

Maybe the producers, writers and directors forgot they were making a television show and have been seeing too many West-End plays recently. Here's a pun: it's meant to be EastEnders, not WestEnders. Somebody give me a medal.

I shall continue watching Eastenders to get some more prime examples as its downfall within the television format.

Pictured: Character Danny Moon played by Jake Maskall (sadly plagued by poor dialogue). Image courtesy: BBC