Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: On the Box

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  • Craig Ranapia,

    life is actually 3D you know.

    Yeah, but the graphics aren't much good. And I only get one playable character. And he's a bit of a dick.

    Also, in real life the thought of my mother showing up in my dreams with buttons for eyes is Not. Fun. At. All. Now, I guess you'll be telling be Elizabeth Bennett and Emma Woodhouse are not real... Buzzkiller.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11781 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    The higher-end Sony and Samsung TVs also now have USB ports and play avi files, which is quite sexy too.

    We're going to overlook this use of 'sexy' in relation to "ways to connect your TV to other electrical stuff" this once.

    But keep it up, and Nigel Latta will be sent your blog and comments to diagnose you.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6147 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Easterbrook,

    The convergence of comic-con and the film industry represents - to me - the huge flaw in current Hollywood film making: their products are all aimed at children, or adults with Peter-Pan complexes (nee geeks). I'm happy to watch movies about wizards and elves and robots and dragons every now and then - once or twice a year, say - but most of the time I want something a bit more grown up.

    The joy of comics (as I've recently rediscovered after a 10+ year absence) is that under the surface of the arrested adolescent explosions and robots and wizards, is some very savvy exploration of media, culture and politics.

    As an example from the most mainstream of the mainstream, the central plotline currently running in the Marvel Comics Universe has a former supervillain becoming a Rumsfeld-esque figure with a disturbing level of control over the US government and its enforcement agencies. He gets there by having a masterful understanding of media manipulation and being seen doing and saying the right things at the right time.

    There's plenty of explosions and spandex, sure, but there is also a critical examination going on of how the Bush administration used the media and the fear of terrorism to manipulate the public into giving up their freedoms.

    It's not high-level political/social science, but it shows that the medium has depth, even at its most commercial and mainstream end.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 238 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    And I sat through 'em in the vain hope Viggo would have a catastrophic wardrobe malfunction.

    You've seen Eastern Promises, right?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 895 posts Report Reply

  • Gabor Toth,

    Cannot see the appeal. You all need to get out more... life is actually 3D you know.

    Most of what I've seen is a bit meh but where the format has really clicked for me has been documentaries. "Real life" but not the sort of thing one normally gets to see. Seeing Space Station 3D for instance with its associated shuttle and Soyuz launches was simply jaw-dropping.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2006 • 116 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    Wow. That panasonic thing seems a complete rip.

    Post the launch of Windows 7, I think there may be a real shift to just using a computer, as Windows 7 makes watching Freeview (incl. HD) straightforward, although there are still some issues over the EPG.

    And I'm not really sure that the TiVo seems too appealing either. I have 4 tuners (incl. 2 digital-analogue hybrids) and 2 terabyte drives, and will probably buy another 1.5TB or 2TB drive sooner rather than later. As soon as you start recording HD TV you can blow 250 or 500GB real quick. And its not like I watch a lot of TV. But now I just watch TV I want to watch.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 681 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Also, in real life the thought of my mother showing up in my dreams with buttons for eyes is Not. Fun. At. All.

    Dear Craig,

    To what extent would Coraline freak the fuck out of my kids, should we choose to take them with us?

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4326 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    I think you should keep Coraline for bed time stories ....

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2030 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    To what extent would Coraline freak the fuck out of my kids, should we choose to take them with us?

    Let's put in the standard caveat here: I don't know your kids, so their personal freak out thresholds are a mystery.

    There's nothing gross or graphically violent in the film, and Coraline is a pretty real and non-sexist girl lead (which is what you'd expect from Gaiman). But you're also in doubt that the Other Mother is incredibly dangerous -- responsible for the deaths of three other children who turn up as ghosts, and she traps Coraline's real parents behind a mirror --, and does not take well to not getting her own way. But on the whole, I think the movie is unsettling in all the right places rather than gross out territory.

    Basically, if you've read the book and think your kids could handle it without bed-wetting trauma then the movie should be fine.

    And I'd like a Mouse Circus for Christmas. Please.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11781 posts Report Reply

  • Dan Slevin,

    Most of what I've seen is a bit meh but where the format has really clicked for me has been documentaries.

    I second Craig's opinion on Coraline but the best use of digital 3D so far has been the U2 concert flick. That was when I saw the potential of the medium to behave differently to 2D - and not in a cheap stunt-y way.

    Wellington, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 95 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Rowe,

    some Freeview HD boxes are already available at <$200, which is pretty appealing.

    Apologies if this has been asked before, but if I buy a freeview box will it fix my rotten TV reception?

    Lake Roxburgh, Central Ot… • Since Nov 2006 • 557 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks,

    The joy of comics (as I've recently rediscovered after a 10+ year absence) is that under the surface of the arrested adolescent explosions and robots and wizards, is some very savvy exploration of media, culture and politics.

    As an example from the most mainstream of the mainstream, the central plotline currently running in the Marvel Comics Universe has a former supervillain becoming a Rumsfeld-esque figure with a disturbing level of control over the US government and its enforcement agencies. He gets there by having a masterful understanding of media manipulation and being seen doing and saying the right things at the right time.

    There's plenty of explosions and spandex, sure, but there is also a critical examination going on of how the Bush administration used the media and the fear of terrorism to manipulate the public into giving up their freedoms.

    It's not high-level political/social science, but it shows that the medium has depth, even at its most commercial and mainstream end.

    Gosh Mark, you're an even bigger comics geek than me if you've been following the Marvel U that closely lately. Which villain is it?

    I also had a hiatus from comics and have recently developed a newfound interest in them. But in terms of mainstream stuff there was really just Joss Whedon's take on X-Men and Mark Miller/Bryan Hitch's version of the Avengers (called The Ultimates, a really fun imagining of the uberman/fascist power fantasy aspect of superhero comics) and other stuff here and there. Mostly, it has been non-mainstream work that's got my attention.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1122 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Apologies if this has been asked before, but if I buy a freeview box will it fix my rotten TV reception?

    There are 2 sorts of freeview - satellite (which will solve your TV reception problem) but has not-so-good HD - and terrestrial, from a local TV tower which will either give you a great signal or crap but has a more bandwidth for better HD - borrow a friend's and see what you get

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2030 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed,

    As an example from the most mainstream of the mainstream, the central plotline currently running in the Marvel Comics Universe has a former supervillain becoming a Rumsfeld-esque figure with a disturbing level of control over the US government and its enforcement agencies. He gets there by having a masterful understanding of media manipulation and being seen doing and saying the right things at the right time.

    Basically the sort of territory explored by V For Vendetta before it became fashionable to discuss.

    There are 2 sorts of freeview - satellite (which will solve your TV reception problem) but has not-so-good HD - and terrestrial, from a local TV tower which will either give you a great signal or crap but has a more bandwidth for better HD - borrow a friend's and see what you get

    To expand on these points:

    * Satellite Freeview only does DVD-standard SD due to limited bandwidth on the transponder, but has full coverage.
    * Terrestrial Freeview can do full HD but only covers about 75% of the country.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4056 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Gosh Mark, you're an even bigger comics geek than me if you've been following the Marvel U that closely lately. Which villain is it?

    Norman Osborn, the original recipe Green Goblin. God, why do I know this stuff...

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11781 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    I'm pretty sure that satellite freeview is using the same bitstreams (in fact the same transponders and bits on the same satellite) that Sky use - that means they are HD (when broadcast that way) - but are more tightly compressed using a less efficient, but more standard, compression method than what terrestrial freeview uses - a non-HD decoder would letter box or clip the signals to SD though

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2030 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Rowe,

    Thanks Paul & DeepRed, I shall investigate further...

    Lake Roxburgh, Central Ot… • Since Nov 2006 • 557 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    Apologies if this has been asked before, but if I buy a freeview box will it fix my rotten TV reception?

    Quite possibly....

    I have a Freeview HD box that uses UHF terrestrial signal.

    My house is line of sight with Wiatarua, so it was no surprise to get beautiful pictures from it when attached to the roof-top aerial. (we also got nearly perfect pictures on ordinary TV)

    What was more of a surprise was that the bedroom TV with bunny-ears aerial, which always got crap reception at the best of times (being under a tin roof) now also gets perfectly clear pictures on all the decoder channels except for Maori TV.

    It seems to cope with a much weaker signal before degrading the picture... so it's worth a shot.

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 786 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Apologies if this has been asked before, but if I buy a freeview box will it fix my rotten TV reception?

    It may do. The digital HD signals tend to be stronger than the analog ones, where available.

    And according to the coverage map, it is available on Waiheke.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18503 posts Report Reply

  • Gabor Toth,

    ....rotten TV reception?

    If you get an OK UHF signal (e.g. you can pick up Prime TV reasonably well) , AND you are in a terrestrial Freeview zone then yes - just plug in a FV UHF decoder and your reception problems for all the major free-to-air channels are over.

    If not your options are to (a) if you are in the UHF zone, stick up a decent UHF aerial which is not to difficult for the average D.I.Y inclined kiwi to do OR (b) put up a satellite dish (the same as a sky dish) which is harder to D.I.Y and may require professional installation BUT the satellite decoder is cheaper than the UHF decoder.

    If like me you are not too fussed about HD quality and are more concerned with decent things to watch then something to keep in mind is that the satellite version of Freeview actually carries some stuff which is absent from the UHF version - particulary Stratos which carries a lot of reaally good stuff from the English-language services of Al Jareera and Deutsche Welle.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2006 • 116 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Easterbrook,

    Gosh Mark, you're an even bigger comics geek than me if you've been following the Marvel U that closely lately. Which villain is it?

    At 6'4", I'm a bigger geek than almost anybody ;)

    Basically the sort of territory explored by V For Vendetta before it became fashionable to discuss.

    That's my point - when even the most mainstream end of the comic spectrum is in that territory, it speaks positively for the whole medium.

    It would be kind of like Adam Sandler doing a high-grossing blockbuster that drew attention to unsustainable palm oil production and the plight of the orangutan. If even he was doing that, imagine what great work would be happening at the independent documentary maker end of the film spectrum.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 238 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    On TiVo and the relentless search for new business models for media...

    I went to the "From Broadcast to Broadband--Is That It?" one day conference in Christchurch on Saturday (marking the 25th anniversary of the NZ Broadcasting School). One (online) presentation was a gee-whizz thing on Zillion TV, which is proposing that it will get income by getting people to click on embedded ads--earning 'loyalty' points' for the more ads they click on. The trade-off would be downloadable movies, TV programmes etc.

    The was a wave of sniggers around the room when this was proposed.

    The most interesting presentation was by Shaun Brown (SBS, ex-TVNZ). I could share some of his comments, if people are interested.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2265 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    That's my point - when even the most mainstream end of the comic spectrum is in that territory, it speaks positively for the whole medium.

    It's really that old argument again - genre work (whether comics, TV, books, or films) cannot be Serious because it's genre. And it's always been bollocks. The best examinations of the Iraq occupation on US TV have been sci-fi shows (BSG and Jericho). The best examination of the Spanish Reconquista I've ever read was a fantasy novel (Guy Gavriel Kay's The Lions of Al-Rassan.)

    Genre work is made for examining serious social and political issues because the displacement of them into a fantastical context permits them to be re-interpreted and observed without the baggage of their real-life context and all the assumptions that come with it. And yet; if you like genre fiction, you're a geek/nerd/unfulfilled adolescent. Gah.

    < / hobby-horse >

    (Of course, not all comic books are serious looks at socio-political-economic issues, and I could give you a seminar on issues with stuff like race and gender in mainstream comics. But when they do this stuff well, they do it really, really well.)

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2089 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    One (online) presentation was a gee-whizz thing on Zillion TV, which is proposing that it will get income by getting people to click on embedded ads--earning 'loyalty' points' for the more ads they click on. The trade-off would be downloadable movies, TV programmes etc.

    The was a wave of sniggers around the room when this was proposed.

    I'm not surprised. What a ghastly, contemptuous idea. It doesn't seem to have occurred to them that this is a strategy for getting the lowest-value audience possible.

    They might want to ask Marc Ellis how he got on with that Mintshot website.

    The most interesting presentation was by Shaun Brown (SBS, ex-TVNZ). I could share some of his comments, if people are interested.

    Very much so!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18503 posts Report Reply

  • webweaver,

    I second that - please tell us more, Geoff.

    As for the rest of this conversation - it's all waaaay too gadget-geeky for me! Goes right over my head, it does. All I want to know is do any of these new thingamybobs come with an installer geek person who can plug everything in right? Cos I have so many widgets plugged into so many wotsits I'd be afraid to unplug anything in case none of it ever works again.

    Love, computer geek grrl who's hopeless with gadgets and who learned all she knows about TiVo from Sex and the City :)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 329 posts Report Reply

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