Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Weather, what weather?

(This should really be titled 'My Monday Diary' but there will be a wefcpug upsum in here somewhere, do read on.)

It's come to something when a temperature of +1 is felt to be quite tropical, but such was the situation on the Bristol-bound platform of Bath Spa station, Monday morning.   I was still in media-related shock,  hearing Jim Naughtie's potty-mouthed non-reading of the 0800 Today programme headlines, and the overnight cricket c/o Radio5 sports extra.   What greater boon to mankind has digital technology brought than crystal-clear cricket commentary from the other side of the world - but how can you sleep through it?   Despite the shock, I was able to chat with the German school group on the platform (and gently point out to the teachers that in England, our trains keep on running through the snow.   Well, sometimes).

Those perceptive, intelligent people from BBC Knowledge (commissioning) were hosting what turned out to be a day of presentations about what they want next on their channels.   There may (really!) have been huge chunks of ice in the harbour, but the warmth of the reception given to these witty charming good-looking people was a fine contrast.   If you weren't there, suffice it to say they want your best new ideas (so no old boring ones) and you'd better be tuned in to the Zeitgeist.   You see, there was a German thread running through the day.  But don't have big Natural History series ideas, they've got someone up the hill to do them, and better steer clear of food and house-hunting.   Unless you've got a better idea.  Other keywords for your proposals are 'passionate expertise', 'timeliness' and 'sense of purpose'.   Any more detail, you'll have to pay me!

And so eventually up the hill to the wefcpug, where a few intrepid souls braved the hurricanes and the ice, pausing only to shepherd the penguins across the Whiteladies Rd.

A warm welcome to new member John Burgan, an indie doc film-maker whom I've known for at least 10 years without ever actually meeting.   We ought to have a new term for virtual friends & associates - met 'on the boards' maybe?

For once, we watched actual content without a single timeline in sight.   (Although timelines were ever in mind.)   I can't, for copyright reasons, embed any of the video - sorry folks - but I was able to show 'n tell  a couple of the key scenes in the Ben Hur DVD.   This is a recording of the theatre production, which prompted a lot of discussion on Monday night, about performances, lighting, design, as well as the technical issues of sound and camera angles.   One point made struck me as very well made:  seeing the TV cut emphasises just how much do we as director/editors (to use a phrase from Monday) impose a point of view on the drama or event.   How much should you / would you leave to be done by the audience themselves?   In the early days of HD (I'm talking 20+ years ago) there was one school of thought which said:  big screens, plenty of detail, don't need the close-ups any more, stick to the locked-off wide shot of the stage.

And by contrast there was one of the bonus features, which we made in a freewheeling gun & run style, almost edited in camera.  How times change, was the verdict - shooting and presenting styles that once seemed too rough and ready are now mainstream, conventional.

I could go on, but not in this place where brevity is all.   I think we all felt 'we should do this more often' ie view and talk content.   So we will.

Apart from some techy problem-solving and a couple of 'best buy' software (sorry, apps) that will be discussed at a later date, that's it for 2010, or MMX - see you next year.

PS Did I mention how the grace charm and beauty of the BBC Knowledge commissioning team were matched only by their peerless grasp of 21st Century media and ability to communicate.  Oh I did.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Let it snow, let it snow, etc...

Greetings from the snowclad northern heights of Bath, where the gritting lorry rarely visits so we shoulder our own shovels.   I've dug my way out of the last project, with the DVD master safely at the duplicators, so what's happening in the world?  How many new cameras, new codecs, new edit systems have been launched in the last 6 weeks?   Em, quite a few actually.   How to keep up???

Assuming that you can tunnel your own ways out to the glittering media hub that is BBC Bristol on Monday night, you should find there's another wefcpug night taking place.   7pm at the BBC Club, entry via the back security gate, names to Richard as usual etc.etc.

Plan A is that the December meet will be more programme content than tech detail (but don't we always say that?).   I'll have a choice scene from the Ben Hur epic to dissect, and Richard may well have a car or two up his RAID, I mean sleeve.   Plus all the FCP questions that we've not had the time to solve over the last meeting (or two, or three).  And bring your own (footage that is) - let's see some movie!!

So that's Monday 6 December, as planned (that's a first) for the Dec 2010 wefcpug.