Archive for the 'Video' Category

So Good You Can’t Even Tell

Warner Bros logoI finally got around to watching The Dark Knight on DVD last night. Fairly impressive, but I’m not here to write about the film itself.

I was struck by a promotional video that ran before the feature, right after the god-awful reworking of Casablanca into a warning not to pirate movies (Shame on you, Ilsa).

The promo featured big, impressive, immersive shots from some big Warner Bros. movies, including A Clockwork Orange, Blade Runner, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Matrix, Goodfellas, V for Vendetta, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and Batman Begins. For the most part, these were shots intended to make the audience go “oooh,” like Neo stopping a barrage of bullets (ooh), or the Houses of Parliament exploding (ooh).

The voice-over that went with these big visuals went as follows:

Something has come along that changes our movies.

It changes the way you see them, hear them, feel them.

It changes the experience.

It opens our eyes to something new.

We invite you to dig deeper, to find things that you’ve never experienced before.

This is the difference between watching our movies and living them.

Experience our movies on Blu-ray.

This is how our movies are meant to be… lived

Blu-ray logoOK. It was a promo for the glory, the splendor and the majesty that is Blu-ray. Fine. But it raised a few questions for me.

As I’ve already mentioned, these were big, impressive images. I was watching on a standard DVD, on an eye of hell that’s neither HD, plasma, giant, or even flat, with the sound running through a stereo that’s about 30 years old — well, the speakers are only about 10, but there are only two of them. And I got the message that I was supposed to be impressed by these images.

So if I’m impressed, how are they supposed to sell me on ditching all of my equipment and getting a Blu-ray setup? Obviously, they can’t show me how a Blu-ray image is better than what I’ve got if they’re showing it to me via what I’ve got. Maybe they should have lowered the quality of the images they showed me, like I was watching on a pitiful portable picnic player, as little Alex might point out. Then they could have told me that if I wanted to experience the true gorgeousness and gorgeosity of the pictures and properly hear the angel trumpets and devil trombones, I’d best upgrade.

Or I suppose they might have added a few lines to the voice-over (I think it might have been Kiefer Sutherland, using his “this is America” Bank of America voice rather than his “tell me now or you’re dead” 24 voice, by the way), like

Do these scenes look good to you? Then you’re an idiot. This stuff is pure crap. You can’t see how good these scenes really are, because your hardware is shit.

There needs to be some comparison if I’m to be convinced that what I don’t have is better than what I have. Remember the theme song to WKRP in Cincinnati? The first few bars were engineered to sound like AM radio, and then it opened up to something fuller, so even though you were listening to the whole thing through a tiny, tinny monaural speaker, you could hear the difference. You got the message that AM radio sounds like KRaP.

And there’s that last line in the promo: This is how our movies are meant to be… lived.

Is it really? Have they forgotten about movie theatres, many of which still have bigger screens and better sound systems than the average living room? Are they suggesting that this is what the filmmakers had in mind?

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Choosing An Announcer

Obama coinSo, you’ve come up with the idea for a new product that you believe is going to tap right into the current zeitgeist and really excite the public. Congratulations. Obviously, you’re going to advertise online, since that’s such a cost-effective medium these days. Are you thinking about running spots on the eye of hell as well? That’s going to increase your costs, but it will guarantee a lot more eyes. And don’t forget that you don’t just have to pay for the time your ad spends on the air. You’ve also got to deal with the cost of production, which is likely to be a lot more than your web development budget.

A big part of that budget is going to go to getting a voice-over artist to read your copy. My advice is to spend the money to get this right. Listen closely to the people you audition. Obviously, you want them to convey the right mood. You want them to be able to get your audience excited about your product. But you also want them to sound like they know what they’re talking about. For example, if your product is powerful, and you want to make sure the public knows the product is powerful, be careful to hire an announcer who can say the word “powerful” without it coming out as “parful.”

Let’s say you’re selling a limited edition, uncirculated inaugural coin, layered in pure 24 karat gold. Sounds good? Well, that depends on how your announcer says those words. Don’t make the mistake these folks did.

Innoggeral? Uncirckalated? Those aren’t words. Laird is a word, albeit a somewhat archaic one, but I don’t think you want your potential customers to think they can buy a Scottish landowner who’s been dipped in gold — not from you, anyway. You’re going to have to deal with an awful lot of returns if you make that mistake.

Let this be a warning to you: if you’re going to advertise in a medium that requires voice-over talent, either choose an announcer who can say your words, or choose words your announcer can say. I don’t think that’s asking too much of you.

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Revenge McCain Style

Last night, Obama and McCain both spoke at a forum on public service at Columbia University. There weren’t many surprises — both candidates support public service — but there was one exchange between Judy Woodruff and McCain that I found rather interesting. It’s in the video below, from about 5:10 to 6:35.

Woodruff: Senator, at the Republican convention, a couple of speakers, most notably your running mate, vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, made somewhat derisive comments about Senator Obama’s experience as a community organizer. I’ve heard you say… you haven’t taken that tone, so I guess my question is, are you saying to others in your campaign and your supporters that that’s not the kind of language you want to hear… How are you approaching that?

McCain: First of all, this is a tough business. Second of all, I think the tone of this whole campaign would have been very different if Senator Obama had accepted my request for us to appear in town hall meetings all over America, the same way Jack Kennedy and Barry Goldwater had agreed to do so. I know that because I’ve been in enough campaigns. Look — Governor Palin was responding to the criticism of her inexperience in her job as a mayor in a small town. That’s what she was responding to. Of course I respect community organizers. Of course I respect people who serve their community, and Senator Obama’s record there is outstanding. And so, I praise anyone who serves this nation in capacities that frankly we all know that could have been far more financially rewarding to individuals rather than doing what they did.

I can forgive the lack of clarity in that last sentence. I got the gist of it, and I’m a lousy public speaker myself. His excuse for Palin is bogus, but that was to be expected, as was his effusive praise for service in general and specifically Obama’s service.

What pricked up my ears was his claim that the tone of the campaign would have been different had Obama agreed to go on a tour of town hall meetings with McCain. Just what is that supposed to mean? Did the McCain campaign start putting out lies because McCain was angry that Obama didn’t want to do things his way? Is this revenge? Maybe it’s an offer of a bribe: come on tour with me and I’ll behave.

I honestly can’t think of a logical explanation for that statement that doesn’t involve anger or revenge.

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Two Conservatives Give Honest Opinions

Remember when Fox caught Jesse Jackson on an open mic expressing some disappointment with Barack Obama? Well, that ain’t nothing. Make sure you listen all the way through, after the camera cuts away. This apparently went out live on MSNBC today.

Who knew Peggy Noonan, she of the shining city on the hill, even knew the word “bullshit”?

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John McCain’s Taint

Oh, what a filthy mind you have. That is not what I meant at all. I just thought it was a good title for this new video from the Jed Report.

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Murray Poppins

Hey, Kidz

If the jolly bowler-wearing, enormous-red-umbrella-carrying old man from Travelers should happen to come around when you’re in need…


We don’t know for certain who this man is, but he is not the magical new nanny who will turn your life into a singing, dancing fantasy with cartoon animals. I know, the English can be very entertaining, with their comical teeth and outrageous accents, but I don’t think they’ve gotten over the loss of their empire. They’re not to be trusted.

Umbrellas don’t fly. It’s as simple as that, little ones. If you and your little friend sit down in his handle with him between the two of you, insisting he hold you tightly so that you don’t fall, and it really does feel to you like you’ve been swept up into the sky, just promise me you’ll tell your parents about it as soon as possible. You may have been drugged.

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Practice Makes the Perfect Clinton

With all due respect to Amy Poehler, Rosemary Watson is the Hillary Clinton impersonator.

Check out her site or her YouTube page, That Hillary Show.

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O’Reilly’s Reductio ad Hitlerum

Bill OSo, Bill O’Reilly has concluded that, because Arianna Huffington doesn’t premoderate comments on her site, she’s the same as the Nazis and the KKK.

One of Bill’s viewers wrote in, suggesting that the analogy doesn’t really hold up, but O’Reilly explained to him why he feels the way he does.

A lot of people are pretty upset about this. Some are pointing out that Billo’s comment area isn’t always free of ugliness. Others are quoting O’Reilly himself, pointing out that he’s said some rather unpleasant things about people.

Honestly, I don’t see the point in arguing about this. If I asserted to you that your house was made of mutton, how far would you go to prove me wrong? Would you slice off a slab of a wall and point out to me that it’s plaster and not meat? Would you offer me a bite? Would you try to appeal to logic, pointing out that if the house were made of mutton, it would smell awful, be covered by insects, and fall apart?

Of course not. You’d quickly conclude that I was batshit crazy, and that would be the end of the discussion.

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The Pride of a Nation

From deep in the lair of the crab of ineffable wisdom, home of those Rather Good / 7 Seconds of Love folk, comes this rousing ode to brave Prince Harry.

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Lessig on Obama

Stanford Law professor Lawrence Lessig created the video below to explain why he supports Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton. Even if you’re not familiar with Lessig’s work on Creative Commons, the Free Software Foundation, or the Electronic Frontier Foundation, I still recommend you listen to what he has to say here. It’s about 22 minutes long, but it’s well worth it.

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