Category Archives: Film

Oi! I Was Watching That



bluraylogoStreaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Sky’s Now TV might have overtaken DVRs, DVDs and Blu-ray but I’ve discovered that physical discs have one major advantage…..no-one can take away the film until you’re finished watching (excepting small children and drunken relatives). 

Our family subscribes to a streaming service, and while I normally watch a film or episode in a single viewing, there are some that I don’t get through in one go, perhaps because friends call round unexpectedly (yes, I have friends). Recently I’ve twice had the experience of returning to a film only to find that it’s no longer in my queue. The first time I thought I was mistaken as I couldn’t find the film but the second time was no mistake. I was very annoyed.

Streaming services take on new content and drop old content regularly as they license films from studios and other copyright holders for set periods. I can understand this but what bothers me is that they don’t feel it’s necessary to either email or pop-up the deadline on-screen. I would have made a special effort to watch the ending if they’d dropped me an email to say, “Hey, I see you’re watching Spiderman. Just to let you know that film’s going away at the end of the month so you’ve three days to find out what happens.” How hard would that be?

Anyway, if someone could let me know if Spidey saves the world, I’d be grateful.


Randal Kleiser Films “Defrost” in VR



Defrost VRYou might not know Randal Kleiser’s name, but you’ve almost certainly seen one of his films – he directed Grease with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-JohnHis new production is called Defrost and will be debuting at Sundance.

This is the most significant interview I’ve seen at CES in 2016. Up to this point, I’ve always considered VR to be ‘super 3D’, but when I listened to Randal Kleiser with the authority he brings as a screenwriter, director and producer, I realised that we were seeing the development of a new art form; part cinema, part theatre. Undoubtedly there are challenging  technical problems to be overcome, and a good story is still key, but this is a new way to immerse ourselves in the story like never before.

Watch the interview and let me know in the comments if you feel the same way.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com.
Daniel J. Lewis is the host of the award-winning podcast about podcasting, The Audacity to Podcast. Daniel helps others launch and improve their own podcasts for sharing their passions and finding success.

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Schneider Optics Interchangeable Lenses



Schneider LogoDigital pictures and cameras on smartphones have changed the photography beyond recognition in the last twenty years and the quality of the imagery is such that innovative filmmakers are using iPhones to record footage. One restriction remains and that is the lens itself; there’s only one and it’s fixed in place. There’s no swapping in a macro lens, though Schneider Optics might have a solution. Todd finds out more from Don.

Schneider Optics iPro Lens systems provides a selection of high quality optical lenses for Apple iPhones and the Samsung Galaxy S4, including macro, wide-angle, super wide, tele and fisheye. The system works by fitting the smartphone itself into a case and then mounting the lens onto the case with a bayonet connector to ensure the best possible optical alignment. The smallest offset can lead to aberrations and a loss of picture quality, which the iPro Lens case and lens combination avoids.

The iPro Lens is available now for the Samsung Galaxy S4, iPhone 4/4S and iPhone 5/5S. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus variant will be on sale shortly. Lenses cost from $39 to $99, the case is $31 and there are kits available too.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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A Beautiful End To My Day



As I was going to bed last night, I checked my Moto X for one last time before heading upstairs. To my surprise, a small blue ballerina twirled across the icon dock at the bottom of the screen before rolling into a round blue ball in the corner. How could I resist? I tapped on the ball….

…and was gifted a love story brought to life through a beautiful line drawn animation called “Duet”. Delivered from Motorola’s pre-installed Spotlight app it’s the third one to be shown on the platform, using elements of augmented reality to enhance the story-telling. The short is only a few minutes long but the timing was perfect and brought the day to a peaceful and thoughtful end. Thank you.

Motorola Duet
Motorola Duet
Motorola Duet
Motorola Duet


Does “Seeds” Change Your View of Google Glass?



Google Glass logoWhat is your first thought when someone mentions Google Glass? It might bring up the antics of a few well known people who have behaved badly (or strangely) while using Google Glass. Or, you may be among those who have concerns about glass wearers recording you or taking your photo. In short, there are many who don’t necessarily view Google Glass through “rose colored glasses”, so to speak.

Google itself is aware of the negative perception that some people have of Google Glass. It put together a guide or Glass Explorers earlier this year. One of the suggestions included began with “Don’t be creepy or rude”.

Would a heartwarming film, that was shot entirely on Glass, change your view of Google’s innovative, wearable, product? “Seeds” (video below) was created by alumni and students from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts as part of the Glass Creative Collective. This short film was shot entirely on Google Glass.

You see the film through the eyes of the main character, a man who is traveling far from home to visit with his mother. The filmmakers note that “Seeds” is their way of saying “Thank you, Mom”. It was released on YouTube shortly before Mother’s Day of this year.

I won’t give away the ending of the film in this blog. What I can say is that film is one that is designed to pull at the viewer’s heartstrings. It evokes strong, positive, emotions from the viewer. Could this “feel-good” film make people reconsider their view of Google Glass? I suspect that it might (even though the film was not intended to do so). It is a vivid example of someone who is out in public and using Google Glass in a way that doesn’t seem the least bit harassing to the people around him.


Blackmagic Rolls Out a New Range of Ultra HD Products



Blackmagic Design logoBlackmagic Design brought a whole new range of Ultra HD products to NAB 2014. It includes converters, routers, DeckLink cards and much more. Here is a quick look at some of the new products from Blackmagic.

Blackmagic URSA Camera is the world’s first user upgradable 4K digital film camera. Its DOP station has a 10 inch fold out on set monitor and separate 5 inch screen for settings, camera status, and scopes. It includes an upgradable Super 35 4K image sensor with global shutter, 12G-SDI connections, XLR audio inputs with phantom power and dual Cfast based RAW and ProRes recorders.

DaVinci Resolve has had over 70 new editing features upgraded and added. This includes the dual monitor support, dynamic JKL trimming, audio crossfades, and a fully customizable keyboard for faster editing. The color correction features have been upgraded. Apple Final Cut Pro X is part of the enhanced editing features.

Blackmagic Studio Camera features a very large and bright 10 inch viewfinder, built in 4 hour battery, talkback, tally indicators, balanced XLR phantom powered microphone connections and built in optical fiber and SDI connections. There are two models of this camera to choose from: the Blackmagic Studio Camera (which is an HD model) and the Blackmagic Studio Camera 4K.

Blackmagic Cintel Film Scanner supports real time scanning of both 35mm and 16mm negative and positive film and it diffuses the patented Cintel diffuse light source to reduce dust pickup. It features Thunderbolt 2, which allows you to plug it in and run the control software on a Mac.

The Blackmagic Mini Converters are upgrades that replace the old models. The new models are Mini Converter SDI to HDMI 4K, Mini Converter HDMI to SDI 4K, Mini Converter SDI to Analog 4K, and Mini Converter SDI Distribution 4K.


Amazon Fire TV



Amazon Fire TVAfter weeks of speculation, Amazon has finally shown its hand in the set-top box game with the Fire TV. It’s a $99 box with a Bluetooth remote control that connects to your HD TV and shows Amazon content plus media from partners, including Netflix, Hulu, ESPN and Pandora.

Amazon Fire TV

Initially, this doesn’t sound terribly different from the Roku and Apple TV units, but when you get into the feature set, it’s pretty impressive. There’s voice search which helps you find the shows without the laborious letter selection that bedevils remote controls. ASAP is a predictive feature that pre-loads content so that shows start instantly without the buffering delay. WhisperSync synchronises watching and listening across multiple devices so you never lose a second, and X-Ray takes the movie experience further, showing film and character information on your second screen Kindle Fire HDX.

As you’d expect, the Fire TV is seamlessly integrated with Prime Instant Video, Amazon’s subscription streaming service, giving access to tens of thousands of movies and TV episodes. With Dolby Digital Plus, films and music will sound amazing and any media stored in Amazon’s Cloud Drive from photos to personal videos can be played through the Fire TV.

Tiny box, huge specs, tons of content, incredible price—people are going to love Fire TV,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Founder and CEO. “Voice search that actually works means no more typing on an alphabet grid. Our exclusive new ASAP feature predicts the shows you’ll want to watch and gets them ready to stream instantly. And our open approach gives you not just Amazon Instant Video and Prime Instant Video, but also Netflix, Hulu Plus, and more. On Fire TV you can watch Alpha House and House of Cards.

Amazon are definitely taking the fight to the competition as the Fire TV is a mini powerhouse, with a quad-core processor and 2 GB RAM, which lets the unit double as a gaming unit with over 100 games available at launch. Already available are Minecraft, Monsters University, The Game of Life, The Walking Dead, NBA2K14, Asphalt 8, Riptide GP2, Despicable Me: Minion Rush and Amazon has signed up EA, Disney, Gameloft, Ubisoft, Telltale, Mojang, 2K, and Sega to bring their games to Fire TV.  To complement the gaming, there’s an additional game controller that will set you back a penny shy of $40. The controller connects via Bluetooth too and will run for up to 55 hours on AA batteries.

Simplistically, it’s a desktop version of the Kindle Fire tablets and sure enough, Fire TV runs the latest version of Fire OS “Mojito,” which is based on Android. This means that apps should be easily ported over to the Fire TV (and Kindle Fires).

The Kindle Fire TV is available now in the US. No news on international availability yet.


First Trailer for Jobs – The Story of Steve Jobs and Apple



The first trailer for the anticipated Steve Jobs movie came out today. What they call the “Original Visionary”, the trailer shows Apple from inception to death.

Simply titled “Jobs”, this is a quick two minute look at Apple’s history. Although some people have mentioned it is not entirely correct on the facts. Even Steve Wozniak said in an interview it was “awful and atrocious”. He noted that was not the way he worked with Steve at the beginning.

A better potrayal of Steve Jobs is in the TNT movie “Pirates of Silicon Valley”, which was released 14 years ago yesterday.

Jobs is getting a 43% on Rotten Tomatoes. Jobs stars Ashton Kutcher and Josh Gad, with Matthew Modine as John Sculley. Jobs hits theaters August 16th.


Veho MUVI X-Lapse



The new generation of smartphones and digital SLRs make it very easy to take panoramic photos and time-lapse films that would be inconceivable at the price point a few years ago. But if you want to take the pictures to the next level without investing a fortune in accessories, you need to check out the Veho MUVI X-Lapse. It’s a camera mount that automatically rotates 360 degrees to take really good panoramic shots but it’s priced just under £30.

Muvi X-Lapse with Smartphone

The MUVI X-Lapse takes up to an hour to gradually rotate a full circle or it can be set to only rotate through part of the arc. Mounts for both smartphones and standard cameras (1/4-20) are included, and the X-Lapse itself can also be mounted on a tripod. Fold-out feet ensure a steady platform for heavier SLRs and video cameras

Veho Muvi X-LapseVeho Muvi X-Lapse

The X-Lapse doesn’t come with any app but there are plenty to choose from in the applicable app stores. If there’s a photographer in your life, I’m sure that they’d love one of these for Christmas. On sale from Veho for £29.95.


Made On Earth and Blade Runner



Spanish cinematography Enrique Pacheco has put together a beautiful montage of natural and man-made monuments, Made on Earth. Filmed over two years in far-flung locations including Iceland, Estonia, USA and Spain, it’s breath-taking and is currently one of Vimeo’s Staff Picks.

What set me back was just one part of the film, which powerfully struck me as reminiscent of a scene from Blade Runner. Here are two sample frames, with Blade Runner first and Made on Earth second.

Blade Runner

Made On Earth

Perhaps  it wasn’t Enrique Pacheco’s intention to echo Blade Runner, but it’s there nevertheless and the advancement towards Ridley Scott’s dystopia is striking. In Made on Earth, there’s a second scene immediately after the one above which further references the chimney stacks and flares of Blade Runner. Watch the full video to see how it links in at around 2:09.

Blade Runner image from BladeZone‘s image archive.