31 March 02004

Impact of DVDs on film aesthetics

There's a very interesting article by Mark Cousins about the implications of the 'DVD revolution' on the film industry in the March issue of Prospect.

DVDs are apparently the "fastest growing entertainment technology of all time," and Cousins suggests some reasons why this technology has been embraced when the introduction of CDs took much longer. For what it's worth, I would add to his reasons the different habits of (a) collecting and (b) repeat viewing/listening that have applied to films and albums respectively in the past.

But the interesting bit is in Cousins' identification of two impacts of the revolution: that weekend box office figures have become an "ancillary revenue stream" rather than the be-all-and-end-all; and "the very idea of what [kind of film] is makeable changes." "Isn't it inevitable that filmmaking aesthetics in the future will be more widely influenced by DVD's appetite for context and rearrangement?" he asks.

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30 March 02004

BBC Creative Archive and 'Martini Media'

There are several interesting points in this speech by the BBC's Director of New Media & Technology. The points that caught my attention were:

  • the first use I have seen of the term 'Martini Media' — anytime, anyplace, anywhere — to denote a concept I have elsewhere referred to as ubiquitous access;
  • some pointers to the future shape of 'BBC On Demand' and the pilot of an Internet Media Player;
  • more news about the BBC's "Creative Archive [which] will give everyone in the UK the freedom to search for and access clips from the BBC's television and radio archives via bbc.co.uk. They will be able to download clips free of charge and use them in a way that will enable them, we hope, to explore their own interests more fully. The clips won't expire, users will be able to keep them forever and will be able to manipulate and add to them."
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29 March 02004

More Werner Herzog Quotes

I recently read Paul Cronin's Herzog on Herzog and collected a few choice quotes about filmmaking and the perspectives that inform it. I've added these to my page of Herzog quotes — which seems to meet some kind of demand, if the number of Google searches it attracts is anything to go on. The page has roughly doubled in length. I've also added a postscript to my Herzog essay.

The book shows up some of the legends about Herzog as false or at least questionable. I started to wonder if my selective quotes were an example of irresponsible myth-making. But let us print the legend, lest we fall into another trap: that of dealing in what Herzog calls "the truth of accountants."

28 March 02004


Photo of boats on Dungeness horizonPhoto of English Channel from DungenessHere are a couple of photos, taken with my mobile phone, from a trip to Dungeness this afternoon. We visited Derek Jarman's garden. Google has just found me a Guardian article which gives an excellent introduction to the area and the story of how Jarman came to live there.

23 March 02004

Schadenfreude isn't in MS Word's dictionary...

... so Microsoft won't understand how I feel about the fines the EU wants to impose on them. There's a generation of computer users who have come to assume that the bugs, glitches and security holes in Microsoft's applications software are just an intrinsic feature, and all software is like that. Not true.

18 March 02004

Simple overview of e-learning standards

At a meeting this week (the Advisory Board of CIPD's Certificate in Online Learning) the vexed question of Why are there so many e-learning standards, and how do they relate to each other? came up. I busked an answer, and as sometimes (but not always!) happens the busked version came out more articulate and concise than most of my well-considered and extensively prepared answers. So I'll try and reproduced that spontaneity in writing.

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14 March 02004

Sunday afternoon anarchists

I'm spending part of my Sunday reading Boff Whalley's book Footnote*, and am tickled as usual by the awkward frisson that someone as bourgeois as me loves Boff's band Chumbawamba and the anarchist ideas they stand for. (It was the same when I bought the Dead Kennedys' Holiday in Cambodia, with its lyric: "Play ethnicky jazz to parade your snazz on your five grand stereo..."; and I realised they were singing about me.)

So it comes as a kind of reassurance to find that even a Liberal Democrat MP like Richard Allan also reviews Chumbawamba's English Rebel Songs approvingly. Where his appreciation seems even more out of kilter than mine is that he provides a link to buy the album at Amazon.co.uk so that he makes money every time someone decides to buy the album from this anti-union corporate retailer on the basis of his review [update 18.3.02004: this is no longer true — see comment]. I recommend buying the album, and the book, direct from the Chumba shop (no commission).

10 March 02004

George Lucas on aesthetics of digital film making

At the end of an extremely hagiographic article about George Lucas, which casts him as the originator of just about every technological innovation in cinema in the last 30 years, and even compares his role to David Bowie's Thomas Newton character in The Man Who Fell to Earth, there are some very sanguine comments from Lucas himself:

Digital imaging is a tool of cinema, just like the camera is a tool and the projector is a tool... They aren't new tools, they're simply improvements on the tools that already exist and have always existed... And a camera is a camera is a camera so it doesn't really make any difference on a practical level. You frame the film the same and you light the film the same — the aesthetics are exactly the same.

Which I take as further support for my instinct that, if 'D-cinema' is going to have cultural and aesthetic impacts, these will be come about from the increased range of material that it will be possible to project to significant numbers of people, using networks and low-cost production facilities — not from new kinds of big budget films. And because some of these changes might require changes to the 'darkened hall' physical architecture of cinemas themselves, it will be decades rather than years before the impacts are fully felt.

More background in this old posting. And thanks again to E-cinema Alert for the original link.

8 March 02004

Doubts about models for listening to music in the future

I've been reflecting more on my claim that online radio is the model for listening to music in the future, helped by a range of exchanges with others.

Being sceptical I've so far come up with four types of reasons why my bold conjecture might come unstitched:

  • Socio-Cultural;
  • Economics of Technologies;
  • Economics of Rights Management;
  • Aesthetics.

Of these I think the first and last are most interesting (but then I'm not a techie or a lawyer, so no surprise there).

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7 March 02004

Pretending he just doesn't see?

Asking rhetorical questions of politicians from the safety of your own web site is a cheap and easy way of scoring points without any serious risk of comeback from the other side, but I can't let one of Geoff Hoon's statements in this Time Out interview go unremarked. Commenting on his love for early Bob Dylan, including anti-war songs like Blowin' in the Wind, Hoon says "I guess my answer to that is that I see those songs as being against a particular war at a particular time."

Can anyone suggest song lyrics that Hoon might possibly find more universally anti-war than these or these? And on the 'particular' question of "How many deaths will it take till he knows...," Hoon may be interested in these stats showing that by last November more US soldiers had died in Iraq than in the first four years of the Vietnam war.

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3 March 02004

E-learning accreditation proposals for comment

Draft proposals for an accreditation scheme for people working in learning technology — commissioned by the Association for Learning Technology — are now available on our project web page. Please comment by answering the eight questions on the feedback questionnaire by 22 March.

The scheme proposes:

  • a definition of a core set of knowledge, skills and values which people working in learning technology need to fulfil their roles effectively;
  • a range of specialist knowledge and skills which are appropriate to professionals in some sectors, posts or stages of their career;
  • Certified Membership of the Association for Learning Technology status for those who demonstrate all the core and a number of specialist outcomes.