Geek News: Latest Technology, Product Reviews, Gadgets and Tech Podcast News for Geeks


Life In A Day

Posted by Andrew at 4:35 PM on January 9, 2012

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

Posted by Andrew at 7:52 AM on December 2, 2011

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

Posted by Andrew at 12:00 PM on August 6, 2011

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

Posted by Andrew at 5:09 PM on April 14, 2011

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

Posted by Don at 8:27 AM on March 11, 2011

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.

Camtrol Customizable Camera Grips

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 3:08 PM on January 30, 2011

Camtrol helps you hold your camcorder or DSLR steady to give you better pictures and video. It is highly adjustable so you can have it on shoulder and with a turn of a knob be carrying it below your waist. Carrying a camcord at the waist is not easy. Without Camtrol you have to hold the camera up which is quickly tiring. Gravity is working against you. Camtrol spreads the weight out making it less tiring to shoot for a long time. It is light only 1lb 7oz and folds up so that you can easily carry it with you. There are a number of different accessories which you can add to make it even more customizable. The control grip is padded making it more comfortable to hold. It also has four legs which you can unfold to make a great tabletop tripod.

There were two models shown the Prime which is $399.00 and the Moose which is $800.00. There is also an accessory made specifically for the iPhone and Ipad. With this device your Iphone can be used to film a great and stable video, or you can use it as a stand for your Ipad. It works with multiple brands of cameras including Canon, Sony, Panasonic, Olympus and more. Camtrol can handle a camera and lens combination up to 7 lbs. It is great whether you are left or right handed. If you are interested in raising your level as a film maker then take a look at Camtrol.

Interview by Tom Newman of The Fogview Podcast.

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Whistler Blackcomb – XXS

Posted by Andrew at 5:03 PM on January 19, 2011

I love these tilt-shift films which make everything appear in miniature and some of you will recall Sam O’Hare’s “The Sandpit” from earlier in the year. This new film was produced for Whistler Blackcomb ski resort in Canada by Mike Douglas of Switchback Entertainment and it continues the fun. Music is “Passed Out” by White Apple Tree.

Whistler Blackcomb – XXS from Switchback Entertainment on Vimeo.

96 Years of The 3D Gimmick

Posted by tomwiles at 1:03 AM on January 14, 2011

The 3D gimmick has been periodically making the rounds for many years. How many people are aware that the first presentation of 3D films before a paying audience took place 96 years ago? According to an article at www.3dgear.com, it took place at the Astor Theater, New York, on June 10, 1915. The program consisted of three one-reelers, the first of rural scenes in the USA, the second a selection of scenes from Famous Players’ Jim, the Penman (US ’15), with John Mason and Marie Doro, and the third a travelogue of Niagara Falls. They used 3D glasses with red and green lenses.

The first big Hollywood film debuted 57 years ago on April 8, 1953, called “Man In The Dark.” Ever heard of it? I haven’t.

Periodically over the years, Hollywood would bring the 3D gimmick back to life in hopes that it might catch on. 3D has made the most lasting splash with highly specialized short films in special venues such as Disney World.

Of course, the biggest 3D splash was made in 2009 by “Avatar.” I saw the 3D version of Avatar on the big screen. It was an okay movie – lots of spectacular special effects but very light on plot. After 3 hours of Avatar, I left the theater with 3D fatigue. When all was said and done, Avatar was a very lengthy special event film.

In the real world, we have natural depth perception. We are used to moving our heads back and forth and up and down and see around objects in very subtle ways.

The 3D movie experience is exaggerated and is not anything like normal depth perception. Producers of 3D movies always seem to feel obliged to make things appear to come out of the screen at the viewer.

I’ve seen a number of 3D HDTV demonstrations at my local Best Buy store from a variety of different TV manufacturers. None of them have impressed me.

3D television will never catch on in a big way until it can approximate normal depth perception and can be easily experienced without the obligatory 3D glasses.

Gimmick Cameras of CES

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 12:50 PM on January 9, 2011

Most cameras are great if you want to take a picture straight ahead, but what happens when you need to take one at angle or maybe you want to take a self portrait. What do you do then, you can hold the camera out at the angle and hope you get the picture, or you can use the Casio EXilim TRYX. The Casio Exilim TRYX is different from other cameras because of its flexibility. The camera is attached to the frame by only the lens, the rest of the body can swing out to any angle you need it too. It has a 3″ LCD screen, a ultra-wide angle 12mm lens, a 12.1 CMOS sensor. It has a Slide Panorama Mode which captures a 360-degree image. Because the camera is flexible you can turn the lens toward you and be able to see your self in the LCD scene and take a great self portrait.

The camera can also be used as a video camera. You could use the frame as a handle and hang it off a door knob and use the motion-triggered self -time. It can do slow motion video captures up to speed of 240fps.

The second camera which is more interesting for how its made rather then the actual camera is the one that was introduced by Lady Gaga and made by Polaroid. The GL20 Camera Glasses have the camera inside the glass frame. You can take a picture of what you are seeing and then show the pictures on the frame directly to those you took a picture of. There is a usb key in the glasses so you can upload the pictures to a computer and share them online. This is a great gimmick camera, but really how often would you want to use something like this unless you are Lady Gaga, not very often I suspect. Although I don’t suspect the camera itself will be very popular, for Polaroid its already a hit, after all it got people talking about a Polaroid camera for the first time in a long time.

I don’t expect either of these cameras to be bigger sellers, but you never know. That is part of what makes CES fun, sometimes the least expect gadget becomes the hit Anything is possible.

Blade Runner Revisited in Gigapixels

Posted by Andrew at 2:00 AM on October 5, 2010

In “Blade Runner Revisited”, François Vautier has produced an experimental homage to “Blade Runner”, Ridley Scott’s sci-fi noir classic.  In creating the film, François ripped 167,819 frames from the “Final Cut” version and digitally pasted them together, making a single image roughly 60,000 pixels square.  In digital camera terms, it’s 3.6 gigapixels.

Much of the film involves floating above this giant image, zooming in on key events from the film accompanied by soundtrack and vocals from the film itself.  It’s quite stunning and slightly overwhelming, but definitely worth 4 minutes of your time.

You might want to check out some of this other films, including the ant farm in his scanner….

Blade Runner Revisited >3.6 gigapixels from François Vautier on Vimeo.