Live Chroma part 2

September 22, 2011

As usual the best laid schemes of Robby Burns etc..etc..

So I didn’t get to start setting up until 3.30 which meant doing a proper comparison of the two software packages wasn’t feasible. I started out with Veescope live, got it up and running and just left it at that. The software was reasonably intuitive, in as much as I found everything I was looking for within a few obvious clicks, and did a pretty good job without having to spend to much time tweaking settings.

So the set up was; Canon MV890 camera feeding a live, standard def, widescreen video feed into our old MacBook. Here Veescope Live did its funky thing, keying out the green background and overlaying the people in front of the camera onto a selection of video backgrounds. We gave visitors the option of appearing in music videos for “Don’t Stop Believing” (the Glee version) and “Firework” by Katy Perry; dancing along with the “Cha Cha Slide” (far and a way the most popular choice) or joining in a light sabre battle. All of this video trickery was then output to the rooms projector on to a screen in front of the ‘actors’. Given the power of the laptop we used I was massively impressed by the way the software coped. There was occasional glitching if there was a lot of fast moving actor and there was a slight, though noticeable, delay between the live action and that on the screen. Overall though the whole shebang went off pretty impressively and seemed to be a hit with those who came along and had a go.

As an aside there was also a great little tool in the software, a vectorscope, which is designed to help light your green-screen.

What it showed was that, even when well lit, a portable, cloth green-screen is always going to be second best to a proper, painted hard surface – negotiations are underway.

The line should be as flat and high up as possible to get the best key

: Tech

30 Rock (again)

September 22, 2011

Well what do you know, I missed my fix of 30 Rock more than I thought and as a result am now on to Season 4. So am I still as impressed? In a nutshell yes. The characters are now fully developed and with familiarity and comfort come more laughs. There are occasional duff episodes but they are few and far between and at only 22 minutes long (don’t you just love American ad break requirements) they are usually tightly scripted and edited. The word on the fan-sites is that series 4 is maybe not as strong as the first 3 but that series 5 is a big bounce back; so far I’ve not noticed any decline.

: T.V.

Real-time Chroma Keying

September 20, 2011

Open evening is almost upon us and the pressure to do something ‘cool’ to show off the wonder that is the Media Studies Department is strong. We’ve done chroma keying (green screening) in the past and it’s normally well received but this year we plan to take it a stage further and do it real-time. Oh yeah, did I mention zero budget?

So I’ve been scanning the web searching for likely software, testing it out for effectiveness and robustness as well as ease of use. With 24 hours until we go live I’ve narrowed it down to two possible candidates:

Chroma Key Live

Chroma Key Live


OR the trial version of…

Veescope Live

Tomorrow after noon I’ll be trialling them in situ in Rm18 so if you’ve read this and want to come along and help/see how it goes/laugh at my trials and tribulations please feel free.

I’ll be following this post up with a ‘how it went’ report later this week.

: Tech
UK Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt calls on companies to cut ties with sites that link to unlawful content.
One of the side-effects of the ‘digital revolution’ has been the inability of many media institutions and legislation to anticipate and react to the phenomenal pace of change within the industry and some of the legal issues which have evolved out of it. This issue is back in the news today and the debate about freedom of information and back-door censoring of the net is not going to be resolved anytime soon.
If you have an interest in this thorny topic can I point you in the direction of Lawrence (Larry) Lessig, an American academicand political activist. He is best known as a proponent of reduced legal restrictions on copyright, trademark and radio frequency spectrum, particularly in technology applications.(Thanks wikipedia).

Twenty minute introduction to a debate in Sao Paulo with Gilberto Gil and others about copyright policy and digital technologies.

Trolls v. Humanity

September 14, 2011

I’m sure most of you will have seen or heard something about this story today. It’s difficult to comprehend the mentality which believes that this sort of behaviour is ever acceptable in society.

As you might expect there has been research done on the trolling phenomenon and, no doubt, there will be more to come as other cases like today’s will come to court.  First let’s clear up one misconception. The term troll and/or trolling does not derive from the mythical, under-bridge-dwelling creature of legend. Instead it derives from a fishing term where a baited line is dragged through the water in an attempt to get a bite. The original habitat of the internet troll was the online forum where they used to post inflammatory remarks into discussions to try and provoke arguments. The practice is still in evidence on forums but the term also seems to have spread to cover the sort of cyber-bullying which lead to the jailing of Sean Duffy today.

There is a very interesting (and reasonably short) academic paper on the motives of trolls here which gives some level of insight into possible reasons behind the behaviour of these individuals. Phrases such as;

“The troll uses negative behaviour to see how others react to their actions online, thus enhancing their sense of self.”

“Creating a specific online identity for the purpose of menace not only gives these users a place to hide their real life identity online through “weak ties”, it also offers a sense of empowerment.”

“…a troll’s need to harass stems from their desire to build their sense of online self, which is shaped by their actions.”

The paper then goes on to speculate that Web 2.0 will, in many ways, reduce the effectiveness of trolls. In a nut shell the author believes that as the web’s online communities become more and more interactive then the sense of community will strengthen. This suggests that,

“SNS’s (social networkworking systems) communities make real life connections to user behaviour, which a troll will be less willing to risk.”

ie. As Web 2.0 allows online communities to more closely mimic real communities then such behaviour (which would not normally be tolerated in a real world situation) becomes socially unacceptable online too.

Blimey, this post seems to have gone to places I didn’t originally expect it to when I started typing!!

Perhaps this sums it up

As Web 2.0 reduces the ability to remain anonymous so trolling becomes reduced too.


127 Hours

September 11, 2011

So I finally got around to watching Danny Boyle’s follow up to the all conquering Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours.

First thing to say is that I really regret not going to view this at the cinema. This is a film that needs to be seen


For those of you who have spent the last 18 months living in a cave, this film tells the (true) story of Aron Ralston, who becomes trapped in a narrow section of canyon in Utah when a rock falls and pins him by the arm. He is trapped for the titular 127 hours before cutting off his own arm in order to escape death.

Whilst this film is superficially about as far from Slumdog as you can get I think many of the underlying themes are very similar, in particular the journey the central character takes, looking back over his life and how it has brought him to where he is now. Both characters then make a life changing (saving?) decision and come out the other side a wiser and better person – imho.


: Film

30 Rock

July 23, 2011

So it’s been a while since I posted anything – I’d like to say it’s because I’ve been busy but that would only be partly true. Anyway, now it’s summer and I’ll have no excuses for not adding a little bit of something every once in a while.

So what have I been watching of late? Well aside from gradually working my way through The Wire and The Walking Dead I have blitzed series 1 of 30 Rock. Have to say it’s been an interesting ride and it does have some genuinely funny stuff in it.

Will I watch anymore series? Probably but not immediately.

: T.V.

The Way It Used To Be

June 18, 2011

This cartoon has been doing the rounds of social sites and made me laugh… but maybe it says something about the way we have become computer dependent for so much of our entertainment. Not sure it is really such a solitary experience as this suggests though..

: Tech


June 14, 2011

Another (not so?) new social/cultural phenomenon for us to worry about. Now that it’s been given a name I’m sure we can expect to see more on the issue.

Why do people play music in public through a phone?

By Alex Hudson BBC News

Teenagers with phone
For many, teenagers playing tinny music to each other on public transport on their mobile phones can be intensely irritating. Why do they do it?

With mobile phones in many a teenager’s pocket, the rise of sodcasting – best described as playing music through a phone in public – has created a noisy problem for a lot of commuters.

Read the full story


May 29, 2011

I’m not sure that I can recommend this film to everyone. It is slow paced, the story it tells is largely inconsequential and in many ways it is a difficult watch. From a technical point of view, however, it is well worth dipping in to, especially for a Media Studies student. The control of colour is extremely tight. A very limited palette of washed-out blues and greys predominate, casting a sombre mood over the whole film, reflecting the on screen (in)action perfectly. There is also a subtle vignette effect on all shots, focusing our attention on the centre of the screen. And then there are the camera shots themselves. Every scene in the movie is shot by a stationary camera; there is not a pan, a zoom, a track or a tilt to be found. No shot/reverse shot, no POV. Instead a location is framed and characters move through these frames, drifting in and out of shot as they are drifting in and out of each others lives. All in all a very clever demonstration of the film-makers art, where each aspect of the film comes together to enhance the story; it’s just a pity that this story is so painful.

: Film