The Sad News Of Robin Williams’ Passing

I’m sure this news came as a shock to everyone and the whole world seemed to react to the news of Robin Williams’ death today. he was a much loved and praised figure amongst the acting world and his roles were some of the most iconic in past films. Personally, I was devastated by the news, having spent so much of my childhood watching Robin perform in classics such as “Jumanji’ ‘Hook’ ‘Flubber’ and ‘Aladdin’. He will be greatly missed by all, my thoughts will be with his family and friends today. Here’s a mashup of some of his best moments, from YouTube.

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My first ever experience of film making!

Back in my first year at uni, I was involved in the production of a short film as part of the ‘video production’ module. This was the first part of film-making I was ever involved in and it was a fantastic experience, especially due to the people I was working with.

The film itself is loosely based on a short scene from the novel ‘Noughts and Crosses’ by Malorie Blackman and features two of Salford University’s drama students. The film was shot during a two day period and was great fun, with lots of extra bloopers made on both days. 

This video is a good indication of how my knowledge of video production has grown since last year, as this almost feels quite amateur to projects I’ve been recently focused on. Nonetheless, I’m still happy with this film and the outcome we gained as a group project. Give a watch and see what you think 🙂

 

Glued to my screen and this time it’s not down to a TV show!

Today saw the re-release of a game called “The Last Of Us” on PS4, with the sub title ‘Remastered’ along with it. This game was originally released last year on PS3 towards the end of June and received incredible critical acclaim from the start. It soon became apparent that this game was something special from the first week of it’s release, with the gaming community going crazy with discussion. It came to my attention through one of my subscribed channels on youtube and I decided I may as well give it a look. 

 
One episode of gameplay and I was hooked. In fact, I ended up watching the whole game online within a week. I’ll repeat that, I WATCHED the whole game, as in someone else’s play through. The Last Of Us is so compelling, I didn’t even mind the fact that I wasn’t in control and that it almost felt like I was watching a prolonged film. It was just sensational.
 
As you can imagine I was more than thrilled when developers ‘Naughty Dog’ announced the game was coming to PS4, this time boosted up to 1080p and now running at 60fps instead of the 30fps it was on PS3. I pre-ordered the game a while back and it arrived yesterday (a day early) in the post. 
 
 
 
The main storyline of the game is centred around a character named ‘Joel’, a 50 something man who has been broken by his past. The game is set 20 years after a global pandemic, where a fungal ‘Cordyceps’ virus broke out and infected most of the world’s population. Now all survivors have to live in quarantined zones that are run by (what’s left of) the military. The beginning of the game shows just how brutal life has become and it seems like nothing will change. The story really kicks in when ‘Joel’ meets a teenage girl named ‘Ellie’, who seems to hold the key behind finding a cure for the virus. The game sees the duo travel across the country, in a gruelling survival task against the ‘runners’ and ‘clickers’ who have been infected for many years. The storyline is emotionally involving and once the end of the game comes around, you feel a sense of loss, as you know your time with the two characters has ended.
 
Yesterday was a mentally and emotionally draining day, but worth every second. I’ve not completed the game, but it’s most certainly on it’s way. I know that most non-gamers will just shrug this off as another thing they’ll never be interested in, but I’m trying to push this game onto absolutely everyone I know. I cannot stop talking about it!
 
 
The front cover of the game boasts ‘Over 200 Game Of The Year Awards’ and man, it deserves every single one. The visuals, gameplay, characters, voice acting and soundtrack are phenomenal and the balance of everything seems to fit perfectly. The recent news of the game being made into a film doesn’t come as a shock to me. The game itself feels like you’re playing through a film and it will look fantastic on the big screen. It’s also a good sign that the game director Neil Druckman will be largely involved in the project, hopefully he will do it justice! With rumours of actress ‘Maisie Williams’ being in talks for taking on the role of ‘Ellie’, I’m sure a lot of Game OF Thrones fan will soon latch onto the game as well.
 
To wrap up, I love this game. It’s stolen a little piece of my heart that I never thought a video game would and I couldn’t be happier about it! Check out this video showing the first part of gameplay on youtube, it’s worth a watch. 
 

Short Interview with a World War II Veteran

For the video production module in my degree this year, I took part in a group project. We were lucky enough to meet Jack Porter, a man who took part in the second world war. Jack was such a humble and inspiring man and we all felt extremely grateful towards him for not only donating his time to us, but also sharing his emotional stories for the world to see. See the video below for a story that made all of us involved think about the sacrifices people have made, not only for our live, but also for a better future.

Studio Time with the Blonde Lips!

In my free time I usually concentrate on my music. My absolute passion in life is playing the drums and the band I practice with feel like part of my beating heart. The band are an all girl, three piece alternative rock group named the ‘Blonde Lips’ (based on an eccentric wig Lady Gaga once wore) and we’ve been making music together since 2011. 
 
This band is massively important to me, so as you can imagine I was more than thrilled when we got to visit the recording studios at Salford University for a day session. It proved a steep learning curve for all three of us and we’re hoping to get more music recorded in the near future.
 
Queen of the studio (myself)

Queen of the studio (myself)

Our vocalist Elena, looking rather happy with herself.

Our vocalist Elena, looking rather happy with herself.

 
I’ve taken the track that was recorded on the day on as a little side production project for myself. It’s getting there, but I feel it still needs some small touches before it’s ready to make it’s way into our fans eardrums.
 
Hopefully I will be able to share the track in the next month, so I’ll keep you posted!

It’s been a while, but I’m 100% back into blogging!

Had a crazy few months of life just being life and now I’m finally back to hit my wordpress with some serious posts. There’s been a lot going on recently, from finishing off second year at uni, to recording music with my band and gaining a new part-time job. Finally I have some time to sit with my laptop and get to share some exciting things.

I’ll keep this post short and sweet. Here’s a little mobile film I made for a module in my degree a few months ago called “Food For Thoughts”. Give it a view, but beware, you’ll most probably want to eat something afterwards!

 

Making a Radio Drama, Horror style

Back in 2013, I was involved with a project based around Digital Audio Production. As a group, we were handed the task of creating a radio drama, lasting around five minutes. Our end result came to be a horror based drama, loosely drawn from the ‘Slenderman’ idea. The recording process involved capturing foley, dialogue, sound effects and synthesised audio. We were very happy with the final piece, so here it is for your listening pleasure!

Facebook buys Oculus VR for $2 billion, but what does this mean for the future of the gaming industry?

So the news came out tonight that Facebook have bought yet another company, this time being Oculus VR – a company that creates virtual reality headsets for gamers. This latest cutting edge piece of tech is named the ‘Oculus Rift’. Although they aren’t available to the general public yet (I can imagine there’s a hefty price-tag to be included) well known Youtuber “PewDiePie” has showcased the device to much acclaim and reviews amongst the internet are hailing the rift as the next big thing in gaming. See the most-subscribed you tuber having a bit of a nightmare with the Oculus here (mind the swearing!)

 

 As fun as the Rift looks, I come to have a problem with the product itself. Remember when 3-D came back to our cinema screens not so long ago? No, me neither. This is where the entertainment industry is falling short, making huge investments in ideas that are, essentially, a novelty. 3-D sustained a short lifespan amongst big blockbuster films and 3-D television is still yet to find it’s feet amongst a large audience. Now Facebook have involved themselves in such a massive industry, how will gamers react to VR once it’s released? I can imagine there will be a good few sales upon the Oculus Rift’s launch (whenever they decide that to be – this year, 2015?) but is there really going to be a longevity in such a product? For what is an easy thumb movement on a controller, there will be a much more physical turn of the head, just for a change of camera viewpoint. After a long time using the rift, I can imagine most gamers would get bored of having to go to the effort! I know I’d get bored easily, not to mention the eye-strain of having the screen so up-close and personal. Despite there being physical drawbacks with the Oculus, I would absolutely love more social media integration and hopefully Facebook will take the lead in connecting a more social side to the gaming network. No matter how the Oculus Rift pans out now Facebook are involved, I just hope and pray that this advancement in gaming doesn’t affect the quality of games overall. Over the last year we’ve seen such a rise in fantastic gameplay, scriptwriting, cinematography, musical arrangements and graphics in games (The Last Of Us, Bioshock Infinite, Tomb Raider, Gone Home, The Walking Dead to name a few of my favourites) The industry is also expanding, with gaming becoming more of a socially accepted form of entertainment as time progresses. I really do hope game developers don’t see the Rift as too much of a distraction over the next year or so and the quality of games continues in this lovely new cycle of next-gen!

Music and Regional Tastes: A Closer Look

Nice bit of audio streaming data collected in the USA. Lovely to see Bonobo and The XX included! 🙂

Music Machinery

In previous posts we looked at how gender and age can affect listening preferences. Today we take a look at how the location of a listener may affect their listening preferences.

distinctive_artist_map-2

For this study, I sampled the listening preferences of about a quarter million listeners that have a zip code associated with their account. update: Listener data is drawn from a variety of music streaming services that are powered by The Echo Nest. I aggregated these listeners into regions (state, regional and all-US). To compare regions I look at the top-N most popular artists  based upon listener plays in each region and look for artists that have a substantial change in rank between the two regions. These artists are the artists that define the taste for the region.

As an example let’s compare Tennessee to New England. If we look at the top 100 artists listened to in Tennessee and…

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