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Saturday 28 October 2006

Noah’s Arc

My American friend Bill told me about Noah’s Arc, a series that is on the Logo network over there. It’s about four black gay friends.

We’d watched a couple of episodes and clips on the Logo website, but Bill doesn’t have the channel and I doubted the series would ever get a showing over here. However I had a gift voucher for Amazon so I bought Bill the three-disc DVD of series one and after watching them himself he sent the discs over to me. They were waiting here me when I got back to Manchester last Saturday.

So I’ve had a great week viewing it all: episodes, pilot and extras. I love this series.

You can watch the whole of the first four episodes of series one for free here.

And the first episode of series 2 here.

There are quite a few clips on YouTube including the pilot scenes they did to try and get a network interested.

I think Logo is missing a trick by not making this available to European viewers as pay-per-view. I wouldn’t have minded paying a dollar a show to watch it. Whereas, I doubt many people here are going to import it on DVD like I did. It’s a shame.


Filed under: LGBT,TV & film — GS @ 1:33 pm
Sunday 24 September 2006

One of my favourite YouTube videos (video)

I love this, not just because it is hot. But also because it is funny in many different ways, such as the guy who walks in but then gives up and walks out.


Filed under: Fun,With video — GS @ 4:38 am
Wednesday 3 May 2006

The BBC, public participation and ‘user generated’ content

How serious is the BBC about public participation and user-generated content? Not very serious, I would say…

The BBC has always looked on the public as material to be used in its programmes and now it looks on photographs and videos that come from that public as material to be used in its programmes. So not much change…

The old joke is that the official BBC tie has small checks (cheques). But, for many people these days, the BBC means no cheques…

My experience, as a former magazine writer/photographer and now web developer, is that the Corporation is always on the look out for free content. I’m tired of producers and researchers asking to use my photographs for free. There’s never any money. With a remit to encourage creativity and promote culture in Britain, the BBC is the last organisation that should be doing this.

Then there’s the raw deal that independent TV production companies have experienced over the years… If this is the BBC’s attitude to fellow professionals, then pardon me for being just a little bit cynical about the Beeb’s enthusiasm for material from the public.

READ THE SMALL PRINT

Before you supply any photos or videos, as a member of the public, read the terms. You’re giving the BBC:

‘a royalty-free, non-exclusive licence to publish and otherwise use the material in any way that we want, and in any media worldwide. This may include the transmission of the material by our overseas partners’

In the case of video, it says they may not even be able to credit you. Wonderful — no payment and not even a name-check either. Isn’t there some European law that entitles everyone to be identified as the author of his or her work?

I hope the public will wake up to this soon. I believe that the companies that deal unfairly now will pay later once people get over the novelty of seeing their video on screen and realise that they have been ‘used’.

It really pays to keep people happy these days. The video blogger or photographer who has a good experience of providing footage to a company, may continue to do so for years to come. But leave someone with a bad taste in their mouth and there will be no more material from that source in the future.

Guess which of these is the best business model?

UPDATE: LoadedPun has the story of a video blogger who helped CNN make a report for TV but then was told he would have to pay $1000 if he wanted to include the final video on his blog. In fact, so far, he hasn’t even been able to see the report!

Maybe this guy will think twice before getting involved with CNN again? Piss off enough videobloggers, who then tell everyone else, and soon no one will want to work with CNN. It seems that yet another big media company hasn’t quite woken up to the way things are changing?

Monday 1 May 2006

Bargain Hunters: cakes

UPDATE (October 2008): this video has ‘retired’ into the archives. I’ve left the production notes below.

It was Marie Antoinette who supposedly said ‘let them eat cake.’ We found that Sainsburys in Manchester takes a different line…

Bargain Hunters: cakes

STORY LINKS: Polari on Wikipedia, Polari, Julian & Sandy (audio clip in ogg format) from BBC Round the Horne, Spar, Sainsburys, Manchester sun & rainfall.

Bargain Hunters is our reality shopping programme. Can we get some good last-minute deals at the local grocery stores? It’s a race against the clock!

Amusing to see the two signs as Chris walks into the second shop: ‘hello’ and ‘play here’. I think you’ll get me when you watch the video… We were both suffering when we made this one. I had a cold and could hardly speak and Chris had just given up smoking.

ABOUT THE SHOW

Chris and I have been going shopping together for a long time now. It’s always a laugh and, recently, we decided to see if the fun would come across on video. Making the videos has added a whole new aspect to it for us.

We’re very genuine and honest about the whole experience, though we wouldn’t want anyone to think we take it too seriously. Being alpha-males, I guess we both enjoy the thrill of the chase ;-D

Oh and Chris doesn’t want you to think he is a cheapskate who lives entirely on 50p bargains!

FRIENDSHIPS

I’ve known Chris since 2001, when he was 18 and moved in next door to me. We’ve been friends ever since, though he no longer lives next door. Yes I’m old enough to be his dad — and I’m sure we’re both glad I’m not!

He keeps me up-to-date with the things that twenty-somethings are interested in and sometimes I can help him because I’ve had a bit more experience of life. Plus we have some cross-over in interests.

It can be tough being young and gay and I believe that older men have a responsibility to help the younger ones stay out of trouble. And, for the cynical people out there, often there is no sexual side to these friendships.

RICHARD

When I was with my partner of almost nine years, and both aged in our 20’s, one of our friends, Richard, was in his 60’s. We used to visit him every Sunday. We valued his friendship and I’m sure he felt the same. He had some marvellous stories to tell, like the one about him being allowed to take home a German prisoner of war for Christmas!

Down the years there were probably always these old ‘aunties’ who took younger men under their wing. I hope it continues today, though I’m not confident it does so much. I see a lot of ageism now: guys who won’t talk to any gay man who is over 30. They are missing out…

Maybe this is another sign of the breakdown of the gay community, which seems to have happened over the last 15 years. I’ll be returning to this subject soon…

CAMP NAMES

It was a tradition for these old aunties to give you a ‘camp’ name. Which was a hark-back to the days when gay men referred to each other using female names. Like Polari, the ‘gay language’ of the 1950’s and 1960’s, camp names allowed gay men to talk about each other openly in public without raising suspicion: ‘did you hear what happened to Myrtle? She was seeing this guy…’ etc.

This was not connected with how effeminate the men were. Often, even the roughest, toughest gay man would have a camp name and probably would answer to it! Which all added to the fun, as you would see some tattooed ex-convict called Terence, with a face like a pitt-bull, answering to the name ‘Tess’. As Oscar Wilde said: ‘the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about’…

My camp name was Linda and my partner’s was Angie. I was named after Linda Lewis — a woman journalist on BBC North-West Tonight — and my partner after Angie Watts from Eastenders!

Camp names are a part of British gay culture that appears to have been throttled by the political-correctness of the 1980’s and ’90’s…

Actually, Chris has a camp name: Marigold, which came about because he helped someone clean his house and he wore rubber gloves to do it: ‘Marigold’ brand.


Filed under: Food & cookery,Fun,Manchester,Shopping — GS @ 6:05 pm
Wednesday 12 April 2006

Democracy Player — internet video player

democracy player - browser for watching online videos

Democracy Player is a new kind of browser for watching videos– grab webpages with video and video RSS feeds (including podcasts, video blogs, and BitTorrent feeds), and watch them full screen, one after the other. It’s free and open source.’

I’ve tried this kind of software before. But yesterday, when I installed Democracy Player, for the first time I really saw where this is all going. I think due to the neat way it presents the channels.

More importantly, I’ve actually been using it to find and watch videos. The full screen video quality is smooth. There is a bit of a slow down on the PC when you are downloading several videos (hope they can tweak that).

My favourite channel so far is Media Rights. It makes me want to get out and make videos about the things I care about.

I recommend ‘Fast and Reliable’ about a cycle courier (with a difference). I was touched by this film. Meanwhile ‘Battleground Minnesota’ also made me sit up, as the star Chris (also known as ‘Hip-hop activist Shakademic’) looks very like another (but different) Chris from Minnesota whom I know.


Filed under: Net & technology,The media — GS @ 9:46 am
Saturday 25 March 2006

Singin’ In A Puddle

In this video Peter tries to cheer me up as I wait for an engineer to come and fix my central heating, which is dribbling hot water onto the walkway…

After we had the genuine spur-of-the-moment shots of him dancing, we wondered what else could we add…

My heating's broken and Peter tries to cheer me up as I wait for an engineer

I like it when we brainstorm and videos develop in this way. There’s a funny behind-the-scenes out-take too, which I’ll put up in the next few days.

TRIVIA

‘Jollywood’ was the nickname of Mancunian Films, which had its studios on Dickinson Road in Rusholme in the 1940’s.


Filed under: Fun,With video — GS @ 10:53 pm
Wednesday 1 March 2006

Video music

One of my friends has said the music in my videos always sounds the same.

I think it’s true and a consequence of me using Acid Pro to make ‘music’ from loops. That combined with the fact that I’m just not very musical.

I really want to keep away from having any commercial music in my videos. The fact is, you are infringing copyright even if the music is at a low volume in the background and you just happened to pick it up.

Channel Four’s FourDocs website has some excellent information about copyright and other legal issues that affect UK videomakers.

I’ve found a couple of places that offer free original music in exchange for a credit. Now I just need some videos to go around that specific music!

Recently I spent some time building a completely new soundtrack for some video of a Manchester gay event from 1991. In the original footage, half a dozen music tracks from the time can be heard quite prominently on the soundtrack.

I took some crowd noise that I’d recorded at another gay event. Made up some (hopefully) Hi-NRG-sounding loops in Acid Pro and added some echo to them to make it sound as if it was all happening ‘live’ in Sackville Park (which is surrounded by tall buildings). A car-interior effect was added to one scene and a few seconds have some original sound that included no music.

Hugely time-consuming: a couple of hours to fix up a one minute clip. Here it is.

I think it works pretty well. You may think it’s ‘fake’ but, the fact is, TV and film editors do exactly the same thing all the time.

Currently many bloggers and other sites are getting away with using copyright material in a way that traditional publishers and TV companies wouldn’t dare. It is especially serious if they have ads on their site and are earning an income. I reckon the media companies and music industry will start picking on them very soon…


Filed under: Net & technology,Video-making — GS @ 1:11 am
 
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