Category Archives: Film

Enhance the Movie Experience



Movie & Meal DealEver since the motion picture first burst onto the silver screen, people have wanted to enhance the cinematic experience. From 3D and IMAX to Smell-O-vision, just about every trick in the book has been used to make you feel part of the film, rather than an outside observer. To this fine canon of techniques, UK retailer Tesco and on-line movie service blinkbox are adding….food.

For their “Movie & Meal Deal“, Tesco and blinkbox commissioned top neuroscientist, Dr. Jack Lewis, to study the effects of active ingredients on people’s brains and then suggest food types that complement the movie-watching experience. His findings gave Tesco and blinkbox the perfect, if somewhat unusual, combinations for the ultimate movie night in.

Dr. Lewis reckons these foods match the movie genres.

  • Action – Sun-dried tomatoes coated in cocoa powder will raise noradrenaline which is instrumental to sensations of excitement
  • Comedy –  Fresh fish stuffed with beetroot and coleslaw to supplement the nitric oxide system and improve dopamine availability in the pleasure pathways of your brain
  • Drama – Chopped lemon, lime and mint sandwich drizzled with chilli sauce on wholewheat bread to trigger the RAS (reticular activating system) to remain alert and focused.
  • Horror – Chicken marinated in freshly brewed coffee will take you out of your comfort zone and raise levels of anxiety
  • Romance – Curl up with a spicy curry (not chocolate!) to top up your libido-stoking testosterone levels

Everyone knows that certain drugs can change the way you feel, but the chemicals we take into our bodies through our diet can also have an effect on our mood,” says Dr. Jack Lewis “Choosing to eat certain foods, whilst leaving others out, regulates the availability of ‘raw materials’ that the brain’s chemical messengers are created from. This means that you can tailor your meals to create the perfect mood for a movie night in, no matter what the genre.

The “Move & Meal Deal” is a partnership between Tesco and blinkbox: buy a variety of food and drinks from Tesco and then rent a blinkbox new release movie for just £2 instead of the usual price of £3.49.

Me, I think I’ll stick to popcorn.


Superhero RGB Colours



The summer superhero season is in full swing with Spiderman already in theatres and Batman returning shortly. Each superhero has their own outfit, both instantly recognisable yet disguising at the same time.

Art Director Gidi Vigo has matched the key colours from nine superheroes to their respective RGB colours, so the next time you need some superhero duds, you know what to ask for.

Daredevil Hellboy 

Green Lantern The Hulk Green Hornet

Doctor Manhattan Superman Captain America

All images courtesy of Gidi Vigo.

 


Barber Tech SteddiePod



BarberTech SteddiePodThis is the funniest CES interview I’ve seen (which isn’t saying much, to be honest). Jeffrey and Jamie get a hands-on demonstration of BarberTech‘s SteddiePod by Eddie Barber, which actually looks pretty handy, all joking aside.

The Barber Tech SteddiePod is billed as the “world’s most versatile camera support” and it’s a handheld camera stabiliser with extra features designed in, so it can be used as a tripod or with the boom extended to give overhead shots. The setup looks amazingly straightforward – there’s a good video on the Barber Tech website – and with just a few minutes easy work, the SteddiePod can be accurately balanced for a video camera.

The SteddiePod starts at $499 and is available from dealers nationwide. Barber Tech is “Emmy Award Winning” and has other products such as camera booms and teleprompters for the TV and film industry.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine and Jamie Davis of the MedicCast and the Nursing Show.

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Peel Recommends TV Shows For You



Peel on iOS and AndroidIn the “old days” finding enjoyable TV programmes relied on three sources – in programme advertising for another show, flicking through the channels or your friends saying, “Did you watch xxxx last night? It’s brilliant!” At CES, Andy and Courtney discover Peel, a fourth way of discovering great new TV shows.

Peel is an iPhone and Android app which offers show recommendations based on your viewing habits and the shows that your friends and family are watching.

The app offers “Top picks” based on what you watch and you can rate shows as favourites or as “guilty pleasures” – I think we all know what that means! The app also gives “Friends’ favourites”, the shows that everyone else is watching, so you can catchup with what’s hot.

It’s not clear whether Peel is US-centric or not, but it’s a free app, so there’s nothing to lose.

Interview by Andy McCaskey and Courtney Wallin of SDR News and RV News Net.

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Sony Connects Up At CES



Sony LogoSony‘s CES focus this year is on electronics, content and network services combining to deliver high quality entertainment anytime and anywhere. Supported by a slew of product announcements, new connected devices range from TVs, Blu-ray players and A/V receivers through to tablets, smartphones and PCs and on to camcorders and mobile music players. Sony is combining these with online services for music, video and game delivery, creating a great user experience (as they say). TVs, PCs, smartphones and tablets are key to this experience as the four main devices used for entertainment.

Sony is committed to designing technologies for every aspect of consumer entertainment – in or out of the home, on the go, in the air, at work, at play, or wherever life takes you,” said Kazuo Hirai, Executive Deputy President, Sony Corporation. “When these products are combined with Sony Entertainment Network (SEN), which offers innovative services like Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited, as well as PlayStation Network, the user experience is truly unmatched and only made possible by a company like Sony.”

The Bravia TV line has been expanded in all three areas; entry level BX, step-up EX and flagship HX. Brightness and contrast levels have been increased and picture quality improved with Sony’s X-Reality and Motionflow video technologies. In particular the latter helps to reduce blur caused by rapid camera movements which is often a problem with LCD screens. Sony is sticking with the Google TV platform with a new network player and Blu-ray player featuring Google TV. Certain Bravia models will link seamlessly to these devices to provide Google TV features directly on the TV.

Sony Xperia ion smartphoneSony’s Vaio range of computers will continue to be updated with more entertainment feature and new designs that fit with consumers’ needs and increasing mobility. At CES, Sony will be demonstrating new technologies and prototypes for a range of technologies including glasses-free 3D.

In the smartphone space, the Xperia brand has done reasonably well, but increasing the smartphone share in North America is now one of Sony’s highest priorities. Sony Ericsson will be subsumed into Sony Mobile Communications and all new phones will carry Sony branding. The latest addition to the Xperia line-up is the Xperia ion, Sony’s first LTE smartphone coming with an HD 720p display and aluminium body. Also new is the Xperia S which comes with 3D image capture.

Sony Bloggie LiveOn the imaging front, no less than 13 new Handycam camcorders are being unveiled. A new image stabilisation system called Balanced Optical Steady Shot has been developed that controls the complete optical path from lens to sensor as a single floating unit. This reduces handshake blur by up to 13 times compared to the previous models. There’s a new camcorder model with a built-in video projector that has improved brightness and enhanced audio. The trusty Bloggie range now has a “Live” model which will live stream HD video over a Wi-Fi connection and there’s an unboxing over at sister channel TPN.tv. Of course, Sony has a bunch of new Cybershot digital still cameras.

Z Series Audio MP3 PlayerFinally, it wouldn’t be CES if Sony didn’t announce a Walkman or two. The new Z series of MP3 players comes with an application interface and connectivity to both Sony’s Music Unlimited and the Android Market. Content can be played from Z series devices either wirelessly using DLNA or via HDMI to Bravia TVs. To further improve the audio experience, no less than eleven new Balanced Armature earbud-style headphones are now available as well.

That’s it – a quick overview of the products on show at CES by Sony and they all look like fun.


Life In A Day



Life In A DayOk, so I’m really behind the curve here but the BBC screened “Life In A Day” over the Christmas holidays and I’m finally watching it. If you haven’t watched it already, you need to put this on your must-see list.

If you aren’t familiar with the film, it’s made up of footage from over 80,000 submissions of video that was all recorded on 24th July 2010 by people across the world. Created in partnership with YouTube, Ridley Scott produced the film with Kevin Macdonald directing. It’s been lovingly crafted into a documentary about the human condition.

And what a documentary it is. It’s a rollercoaster of emotion of taking you across the world to different places, peoples and societies. There’s every facet of human life and the juxtaposition of cultures makes it all the more poignant. One minute it’s a rich nation, the next a poor country. Some of the film is shocking and it doesn’t hide the sheer hard work of existence but throughout it all is the joy of life itself.

The film is available (legally) on YouTube. Warning: there are a couple of scenes that aren’t suitable for younger viewers.

 


Tesco and Blinkbox – Buy the DVD, Watch it Online



Tesco Blinkbox Online MovieSupermarket Tesco and on-line movie site Blinkbox have introduced a new innovation to the UK where the purchase of a physical DVD or Bluray at Tesco also buys an online copy at Blinkbox. At today’s launch there are only about 25 movies included in the offer but more will be added to the service over time. The big blockbusters available now are Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II and Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon.

Tesco customers tie their Clubcard account to their Blinkbox account and then qualifying purchases of DVDs in retail stores (or online) will automatically be added to Blinkbox. Once in Blinkbox, customers can watch the films through PCs, Mac, PS3 and certain smart TVs. For non-UK readers, Clubcard is Tesco’s customer loyalty programme and there are 16 million active Clubcard members.

Richard Brasher, CEO, Tesco UK said “Customers know that Tesco is a great retailer for new technology.  This innovation with blinkbox will help start a digital revolution, combining the physical with the digital for the first time.  Starting with the magic of Harry Potter, there will be many more great titles to follow for customers to enjoy online wherever and whenever they like.

Michael Comish, CEO, blinkbox said “To be able to bring this truly ground-breaking service to consumers is very exciting for blinkbox. Our customers already know that we are the number one choice for the latest new movie titles the day they released on DVD, so working with Tesco to give them access to both a physical and a digital version allows them choice and the best of both worlds.”

For those outside of the UK, this is probably all a bit “so what?”given the offerings from Amazon and others. However, here in the UK, the law still currently prohibits format-shifting, even if no-one pays attention, even if the law isn’t enforced. By effectively purchasing both copies at the same time (or buy one, get one free), this gets round any issues with the law. If this way of thinking takes off, other companies will follow with similar products in the UK, so it’s good news all round.


My First 3D Movie



Today I saw my first 3D film in a cinema…and it’s very likely to be my last. Not because I’m thinking of shuffling off this mortal coil but because it was a second rate experience at a premium price.

Where do I start? First of all one size does not fit all. The glasses suitable for an adult are not going to fit a 3 year old so why there aren’t smaller frames for young ones at children’s films, I’ve no idea.

Second, I came away from a 2 hour film feeling absolutely knackered and ready for a good snooze. This is not normal for me and I can only assume that it’s something to do with the 3D effect. At least it didn’t give me a headache.

The polarising glasses make everything extra dark too. You fumble around in the dark trying to find packets of sweets before finally taking off the glasses so you can see where they are. Not conducive to the cinematic experience.

There’s no doubt that the 3D effect works, but after admiring it for the first 10 minutes, I’m not convinced it really adds that much to the film. Story and character development are worth so much more and you don’t expect to pay extra for those (though admittedly you don’t always get them).

Movie directors, don’t waste your time on 3D filming: just hire better writers for decent plots as I won’t be returning to a 3D film. Stick to 2D and I’ll be regular customer with my family.


First Orbit



Continuing the celebration of Yuri Gagarin’s orbit of the Earth in Vostok 1 back in 1961, First Orbit is a documentary film that joins archive footage of the event with modern shots taken from the International Space Station (ISS). The filmmaker, Christopher Riley, collaborated with the European Space Agency to see if it would be possible to film the same view across the planet that Gagarin saw out of the window of his tiny spacecraft. As you might guess, it was possible, and by filming at particular time on a particular orbit, astronaut Paolo Nespoli captured a re-creation of that historic flight.

The film unfolds in real-time and includes Gagarin’s original communications with ground control, call sign Dawn. Fortunately there are English subtitles if your Russian is a bit rusty. There’s a stirring soundtrack by Philip Sheppard and it’s really quite mesmerising to watch. You almost forget that it happened 50 years ago and the real-time nature of it makes it feel that it’s unfolding as you watch.

The film is available on YouTube (below) but you can also freely download it in a variety of sizes. I’d recommend downloading the 1.9 GB hi-def version, and putting on the big TV. Set aside 108 minutes and become Yuri.


Sony Pictures Releases ‘My Daily Clip’ For Apple Devices



Sony Pictures’ ‘My Daily Clip’ app is now available for iPod, iPhone and iPad from the App Store. Everyday, 365 days a year, the app will show us a different clip from one of Sony Pictures’ films. We’ll have the option to watch the clip and if it’s a movie we’ve never seen or would like to own, it gives us a link to the movies iTunes page where we can purchase the entire movie. There’s also trivia for each clip and a calendar so we can go back watch clips from previous days.

I’ve spent a little time playing around with the app and so far it’s pretty cool. Right when the app boots up you’re introduced to a memorable scene from one of Sony’s past films. When we click to play the clip a quick trivia question pops up. For instance, today’s clip was from the classic military drama ‘A Few Good Men’ — “You can’t handle the truth!” — and the question was in regards to leading ladies Jack Nicolson has worked with. More specifically, it wanted to know which of the given choices was a leading lady that Jack Nicolson killed on screen — kinda gruesome but, fun nonetheless. When the trivia question comes up you have a short amount of time to answer. The faster you answer the more points you get, that is of course if you answer right, which I did not. I’m not entirely sure what the points will grant us other than bragging rights but, everyone likes to test their movie knowledge once in awhile, right?

The clip loaded up surprisingly fast and looked great. ‘A Few Good Men’ is a movie I’ve seen countless times but, the app did a great job pulling me in, leaving me wanting more. Needless to say, I hit the calendar and found a bunch of movies from previous days. Just like the clip of the day, each of the previous clips throws another trivia question at you regarding a character, crew member or actor from the film. It’s a great way to kill some time and I will surely be going back. The calendar shows you what clips will be shown in the coming days and I’m looking forward to the quick trivia questions regarding movies I’m more familiar with — I want those points!

Another cool feature My Daily Clip provides is the sharing option. If you load up the app and happen to find a clip that you and a bunch of your friends love, you can share the clip via Facebook or e-mail to spread the movie joy. My Daily Clip is available now from the App Store and won‘t cost you a penny, unless it inspires you to make a movie purchase via iTunes which is clearly Sony’s goal here. Either way, it’s worth the free download so check it out.