Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A couple of very cool things...

...of course, everything's subjective. One man's cool is another man's crap. That said, I happen to think the following are pretty damn special for a number of reasons.

First up, the second part of the DV article by After Effects gurus Trish and Chris Meyer on Camera Control in AE7. I mentioned part 1 a couple of months ago.

As always with DV.com, registration required.

Second, via the Creative Cow.net newsletter, comes what promises to be quite possibly the handiest and most wonderfully helpful video podcast to come along yet. Video Grunt is a series of technical primers for the wonderful world of video. Created in a light and entertaining way using plenty of archive footage, host Craig Syverson intends to run through everything you need to get your head around the basics. At the moment he's looked at how aspect ratios came into being, with more to come. Let's just hope he doesn't concentrate on NTSC to the detriment of users everywhere.

Next, via Tom Coates' always interesting plasticbag.org, comes some work by his friend and colleague Matt Biddulph. Matt has captured a machinima video of he and Tom in virtual social environment Second Life making use of a modification that allows user's avatars to request items from the Web on demand. The example he shows is an avatar's ability to visually manipulate a Flickr window, showing pictures with particular tags. Interesting stuff, if that's the sort of thing that moves you (and for me it certainly does).

And finally, and quite possibly the coolest of the lot, this Coka-Cola/World of Warcraft ad from China, lovingly made available for worldwide consumption by our friends at Google Video (so that's why they sold out those Chinese bloggers to the government; to get access to this clip!)

Before I go, is this just me, or towards the end when the three girls switch back from the game world to the real world do they wind up being a little bigger (less stickfigure) than their virtual counterparts? I mean, I know that fantasy images of women have always been a little out there (read: sexist), but I guess given the ad's initial message (women breaking away from the "sexy sells" male mentality) the avatars could have been a little less stylised. Of course, it could have just been a difference in the camera position.

Problems? Having all sorts of ideas for posts and not having time to be able to give them proper attention, or for that matter to even be able to post bullet points of the main arguments. Meh, that's life.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

So Channel 9's gutting their NewsCaff Department...

Ratings are down, money's heading out the door to those pesky mobile phones and iPods, what''s an executive to do?

Well, to start with, chop off $15 million from what was once the proud pinnacle of Australian TV News.

"The size of the staff cuts - almost 20 per cent of Nine's 450-strong news and current affairs team are being targeted for redundancies - shocked the industry. Such large cuts would have been unlikely during Kerry Packer's reign, but since his death, Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd chief executive John Alexander and James Packer have demanded cuts be made to lift Nine's profitability."

It's an interesting course of action.

"Seven's news and current affairs (who have been taking Nine's market share in News and Current Affairs over the last year - not that you can really call "Today Tonight" current affairs) chief, Peter Meakin, who left Nine in February 2003, said programs would have to be "gutted" to meet the cutbacks, and questioned Mr McGuire's recent decision to spend more than $2.5 million signing up exclusive interviews with the Beaconsfield miners.

"I'm very surprised - amazed - they've done this," he said. "If you think of how many changes there have been there in the past few years, all you can read into it is a lack of confidence and panic. One minute they're writing $2 million-plus cheques (for Beaconsfield) and the next they're putting 80 people to the sword."

Let's put that one in perspective for a second. Seven were mighty pissed off that they missed out on the Todd and Brant show so there's bound to be a little acrimony.

But to my mind the most interesting quote comes from Peter Fullerton, a debt analyst at Moody's Investors Service.

"You don't have to be the number one television station to achieve the highest profit margins."

Now that's something you would NEVER have heard during the Kerry Packer years. It just goes to show the difference between the old guard and the new.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Junkies, thieves, idiots and depressives - The Australian "Hero"

An interesting article and subsequent discussion, albeit a little lightweight, about whether Campbell's Hero Myth is relevant to Australian narrative, in particular film.

" "The American myth is the myth of their nation's settlement -- that an individual with strong character can undertake a daunting task, overcome seemingly unsurmountable odds, and become a great success.

"The Australian myth is also based on our nation's settlement -- that we are convicts, delinquents, struggling outsiders, persecuted by an uncaring and alien authority, trapped in a harsh envirnment we did not choose and do not understand, that all survival and validation relies on not rising above or separating from the group, failure and suffering are our lot, and the best we can hope for is to survive."

The views of Vogler and Vidler may explain why the protagonists in recent Australian movies have tended to be thieves, junkies, psychopaths, idiots, obsessives and depressives. Our film-makers think those are the heroes we need. They don't regard Crocodile Dundee and Babe as inspirations, but rather as giant exceptions -- freak successes in the land that loves to lose. That thought in itself is depressing enough to form the basis of the next Australian movie."