High Definition DVD Format War – Over at last!

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 After more than a year of battling it out for the hearts and minds of the DVD loving public (at least, in the US, where the HD format is going gangbusters), word came down from Toshiba that they were pulling the pin on the HD-DVD format, and essentially handing victory in the next gen DVD war to Sony’s Blu-Ray format.

Which is good news for consumers. With Toshiba’s capitulation on the subject, Universal Pictures decided it too would convert across to Blu-ray disc for its releases. The only major Hollywood studio that has not yet announced the switch to Blu-Ray is Paramount, although industry insiders claim that it wont be much longer until they do.

The main reason behind HD-DVD’s demise was the decision by Warner Bros Pictures, which owns the largest film library in the world, to go Blu-Ray exclusive, rather than support both formats, and this decision effectively killed the HD-DVD format stone dead. I remember when early adopters hypothesized that the porn industry would be the deciding factor, but it would appear that that theory has been blown out of the water.

For consumers, the choice is now easier. Rather than sit on the sidelines waiting for one format or the other to prevail, they can now jump into the HD format with the knowledge that Blu-Ray is going to be around for the forseeable future. Similar to the VHS-Beta war of video years ago, once a format is declared a winner, that then becomes the default for the industry. Sure, some might be a little slow toeing the line, but eventually eveyone is on the same boat.

Unfortunately for Beta format video, it was a higher quality than VHS (which would have given everybody better picture and sound ect) but the VHS format was cheaper, so of course everybody supported that instead. What has happened in this new format war is the better format has come out on top. Blu-Ray is, to my mind, the better choice for High Definition DVD. Blu-Ray has a higher capacity disc, so the benefit should immediately be obvious. Higher capacity means less compression of the image (better resolution) and master quality audio (lossless audio, rather than compressed audio), which means that finally, consumers can have mixing studio quality sound and picture in their own homes. HD-DVD has less capacity, but was generally considered to me more backwards compatible with original generation DVD. Blu-Ray, while being able to play current DVD, is less compatible with the format and there have been (and will continue to have) bugs in combining the two.

That said, what will be most interesting is how Microsoft, who decided to go HD-DVD exclusive, reacts. Microsoft hold a very big stick, and they are unlikely to want to support a format that is not compatible with their systems.

Nevertheless, with the dawn of the next generation DVD format now firmly entrenched in the US and European market, it will only be a matter of time before it really takes off here.

Common sense has prevailed, and we can now all move onto the next thing.

Movie Review – Sicko

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Recently, my wife Lisa and I watched Michael Moore’s “controversial” new doco, Sicko. Purporting to show the dreadful state the US health system is currently in, Sicko is a heart wrenching, often jaw dropping attempt to find some sense of justice and even-handedness in the HMO system [Health Maintenance Organisation] the US employs. To be honest, anybody who has ever watched an episode of ER, Grey’s Anatomy or even House will understand just how important health insurance is in the US medical system. If you do not have health insurance, you don’t get medical help.

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A little something for you……

The man in the hat….

…is back.

Check out the full rsolution trailer at:

http://movies.yahoo.com/feature/indianajones.html?showVideo=1

Enjoy your day!!!

National Sorry Day – A Rant (you have been warned)

The following article represents the opinion of the writer, and does not reflect the thoughts of anybody else associated with, or part of, Fernby Films.

Article by Rodney Twelftree

A lot of words have been said about the treatment of Australia’s indigenous population, the Aboriginal tribes. Until today, not one of them have been the word “sorry”. Todays parliamentary unity and sense of occasion at this national sore being finally bandaged was profound. No doubt a lot of people had longed to hear the words uttered by newly elected Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

I was not one of them.

Fact: I was not alive when the government of the time decided to forcibly remove Aboriginal children from their parents homes.

Fact: What was done then, was, at the time, thought to be the best for the welfare of the children. White culture, rightly or wrongly, saw the Aboriginal people as a lesser race, a collective of sub-humans that ought to be protected from something: themselves.

Fact: I do not accept that it is our current governments responsibility to apologise for the actions of past political machinations, no matter how abhorrent. I do not expect the German government today to apologise to the Jews for the actions of the Nazi party in 1930’s Germany. Why, therefore, would we expect the same from the government today?

Fiction: The compensation to the victims of the “Stolen Generation”, as they like to vociferously claim at length, will not be paid. Pigs might fly tomorrow, too.

Fiction: Australia will now embrace the Aboriginal culture and people within it as part of their own, overlooking decades of neglect and bigotry towards them as a way of reconcilliation for the future.

It must be said, that while I disagree with the government in their belief that they should apologise, I do understand why we as a country are compelled to do so. Australia was founded on the back of a genocidal practice of extermination and subjugation; the English settlers and convicts came here and essentially shot at, raped, murdered and bludgeoned the Aboriginal culture of yesteryear back to the Dreamtime. While we acknowledge these actions, is it right that we now, generations later, have to pay for that?

I feel that the Aboriginal community in Australia have, to a certain extent, determined themselves to be pariahs, martyrs for the cause of the villified and persecuted. Their attitude, while no doubt seemingly understandable, is blatantly smacking of hipocrisy. They want, they want, and they take, take; yet the Aboriginal community seems reluctant to try changing their ways. They do not seem to want to accept any assistance our government gives them. Instead, the actions of a few seem to focus on throwing it all back in our faces. [Am I being hypercritical here? Is this too general a statement to warrant argument?]

While I accept that their culture is dying out, remaining popular only due to interest in their dot art and wood carvings, it would behoove the Aboriginal community as a whole to make a determined effort to creep slowly into the present day. It would be impossible to step up and ask all us white folk to bugger off, and for us to actually do it: therefore, why not join with our culture? Accept that two cultures have to coexist, and get on with it.

 It is possible for both cultures to coexist: if they truly want to. If you want equality, if you want reconciliation, you have to be prepared to work for it. White Australians are sick of seeing their tax dollars going out in trucks to far flung Aboriginal communities to pay for cars that get set alight, homes that get torn down, and booze that ends with the abuse and destruction of the very culture you puport to revere.

Its not the alcohol that is destroying your culture; it’s your dependence upon it. Aboriginal people claim to be proud: no doubt some are – yet every day we hear reports of abuse, violence and destruction of property that has been handed to you to make something of yourselves.

While I respect the claims the Aboriginal people have to what they see as their sacred land, it is hard to see past the spiteful and secretive way that compensation is selectively wanted.

The Stolen Generation, those who were removed from their families for whatever reason (some would say very good reasons, such as rape and abuse) deserve some closure, yet I do not understand why a current government, removed by decades from the people who perpetrated these acts, needs to apologise for them to recieve it. I, personally, feel remorse for those who are victims. I empathise with their feelings of abandanment and loss. I just watch Rabbit Proof Fence to appreciate the feelings of the time.

But for crying out loud, can’t we just get on with it? The Aboriginal people, whatever their future may hold, will look back on this day with relish that finally, vindication has come their way. The rest of this country will look back and say: right, we’ve given you your apology… now, what are you going to make of yourselves now that you haven’t got something to whinge about?

Vale Roy Scheider

News coming down the interweb this afternoon appears to confirm the passing of American actor Roy Scheider, aged 75.

Most people wouldn’t immediately know the name, but definitely the film for which he was most well known in.

Jaws.

Schedier played the police chief of Amity Island who has to deal with the arrival of a large, man-eating, great white shark. Still one of the finest examples of the modern blockbuster film, Spielberg cast Scheider as his everyman character against Richard Dreyfuss’ nerdy scientist and Robert Shaws salty sea captain.

He also appeared in other films of equal calibre, although perhaps not as well known today; The French Connection, still one of my favourite cop films; 2010, the sequel to the original Space Oddyssey, Klute, and of course, All That Jazz.

Perhaps his most recent work known by Australians would be the now-defunct TV series SeaQuest DSV.

RIP Mr Scheider.

Sondheim Trailer Update

Okay, I was going to post some screenshots from the new trailer I have recently completed for Burnside Players upcoming Sondheim show, but I figured that would be cheating. So instead, here’s the actual trailer.

Taylor vs Taylor – An Addendum

It would appear that a work video recently posted on this site has raised the ire of some upper management persons, so, in order to placate the rampant stupidity of my company, I have edited the old version and removed almost all of the obvious work related insignia.
Here is the edited version.

Movie Review – Firefly (in)Complete Series


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– Summary –

Director : Various (Created by Joss Whedon)
Year Of Release : 2002-2003
Principal Cast : Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin, Adam Baldwin, Jewel Staite, Sean Maher, Summer Glau, Ron Glass.
Approx Running Time : 14 Episodes
Synopsis: The crew of the spaceship Firefly run the risk of capture and prosecution as they cart freight around the galaxy.
What we think : Brilliant television, it’s only a shame it lasted just a single, brief season.

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It’s hard for most to imagine, but I never really got into Joss Whedon’s stuff. Buffy as a TV series always had the taint of that godawful movie about it, so I never bothered. Even with a bunch of nerdy friends saying it was must-see TV, I never bothered. Angel, the resulting spin-off of a secondary character from Buffy,  was even less appealing.

Then came Firefly. Never watched it, knew all about it. When you are a sci-fi/movie/book/TV fan, you get to hear about controversies and well performing material. To be honest, the first I heard about Firefly was that it was also by Whedon, and had been cancelled by FOX in the US after broadcasting only 12 episodes, leaving two unscreened.

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Taylor vs Taylor

Recently, at work, my collegue Taylor said that cricket was a game for “fairies”. This provoked outrage around me, as my superviser, Amanda Taylor, used to play cricket for the South Australian Womens Cricket team. Appalled at his comments, she challenged him to face six balls from her, with a real cricket ball, with no padding or protection.

The challenge took place at work on Thursday last week (31st) and I videod the proceedings. Here is the result of what happened.

****VIDEO REMOVED AT REQUEST OF MANAGEMENT****

As you can see, we called it a draw. A rematch has been mooted, but yet to be set in stone. I will keep you updated as things progress.

Movie Review – Cloverfield

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– Summary –

Director : Matt Reeves
Cast :
Michael Stahl-David, TJ Miller, Jessica Lucas, Lizzy Caplan, Odette Yustman, Mike Vogel, Ben Feldman.
Year Of Release:
2008
Length : 84 Minutes
Synopsis:
When a giant creature emerges from New York City harbour, and begins laying waste to the city, a group of young friends must journey through the devastation to save an ex-girlfriend. Told through the use of a digital handy-cam, the film captures the horror of this terrifying event.
Review : Extraordinary, frightening and utterly real horror film, with the destruction of New York City played out like a monstrous hybrid of 9/11 and Godzilla. One of the most amazing cinematic experiences I’ve ever had, which will loose a lot on a small screen. Play it large and loud on DVD & BluRay!!

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Last night I had the pleasure of witnessing one of the more interesting monster films to come from the Hollywood pipeline in recent years. For several months now, fans have speculated on the mystery surrounding the promotion of the JJ Abrams produced epic, “tentatively” titled Cloverfield. The first trailer appeared with the premiere of Transformers last year, featuring no title and virtually no major stars, just New York City being blown to hell and back: this, of course, prompted massive internet and media speculation as to exactly what the film was about.

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