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photography and film – facts, ideas, values

TV BBC Outnumbered sinks, gently; Uncle rises, dishevelled

SNIP TV Outnumbered 1

SNIP TV Outnumbered 2

SNIP TV Outnumbered 3

SNIP TV Outnumbered 4

SNIP TV Outnumbered 5

SNIP TV Outnumbered 6

SNIP TV Outnumbered 7

Outnumbered – Series 5 – Episode 1
That’s a set for all you hard pressed teachers out there. BBC logo top left stripped out, but what the heck, its advertising but not as they know it. Do they think it improves watching experience to have a little rectangle with BBC written on it imprinted on the top left of your fovea? You’ve finished watching ages ago, making cup of tea, still chuckling at the odd bit of dialogue and there, whichever way you look there is the BBC after image, the perceptual equivalent of being branded by Jeremy Paxman during an interview on Newsnight, then going home with a very sore bottom cheek.

Bit like this but smaller:

BBC logo [top left]

Monochrome though, oh yes, you’ve seen one before. But why that should be as it’s right there in the rods and cones. That thing is getting bigger all the time: on iPlayer it was BBC a minute ago, turn you back to empty your cache and it’s suddenly not just BBC but New HD and Three. Soon this proprietary stamp will take up a quarter of the screen and the actors will have to keep ducking under it.

Download Outnumbered while you can – if not it’ll suddenly be no longer available, while annoyingly parts 2, 3, 4, etc, will be. Even if it’s lost the, How the hell did Ramona deliver those lines?, it’s still o.k. Lessons in what to do when young actors grow up. Been there, seen that – many different series. But there is the comfort zone element too. We know the characters and so excuse them a bit if the scripts have gone a bit flat. Note he still never brings any homework back to mark.

Please excuse me while I have a little diversionary moan.

The disappearing programme thing has been a gripe of mine for some time, particularly for BBC Radio, now that we are able to trawl in various ways to pick up programmes missed or never even heard about. There must be a little man in there somewhere, or even a team of about five of them – all looking like the annoying one in the IT Crowd who recommends pulling the plug out and rebooting – who randomly delete programmes that might by all standards have a very long shelf life.

The real killer is good drama which the website still up, such as JG Ballard’s The Drowned World. Yes, yes, that’d be good, but “Sorry”, no “this episode is not currently available on BBC iPlayer Radio”. It’s him. The phantom programme deleter. He deletes while de Management have no idea which progs are available and which are not. Try that one out. Next time you bump into the DG, tell him how much you enjoyed listening to part 1 of the Ballard radio adaptation on iPlayer last night. (It was last on in 2012)

I’ve even tweeted Nigel – oh no he’s dead – David Nobbs to ask, without any success, if he might put in a word for a replay of autobiogramentary that was frightfully good with Nobbs On, apparently, but is no longer there. Can we all chip in for server space? Repeats cost money? What!? make more in-house then! PPP of the airwaves. Total waste of tax payers money, if quality programmes can only be seen once as that’s all the BBC paid for. Though of course they won’t, they’ll have have paid a lot more pro rata. Why can’t someone do some lateral thinking. Let the production companies sell on through websites. Either the BBC or the various independents are going to sell these progs abroad, but we want to see them again. So figure it out.

Anyway, but Now the kids are growing up, has Outnumbered aged for the worse? It’s ancient, got a degenerative neurological condition and in a care home. The last series apparently. But it could be looked at another way – an exercise in winding down the actors, painlessly. Not in a nasty way mind you. Doesn’t look like there’s going to be an episode where they all sit around the kitchen table with UCAS forms. Hugh has had his F moment in 5.1. Just an F- not an Fsomething

And we are looking rather impressed at Uncle, wishing we could write dialogue like that, but wondering where is Semiotic Man when you need him? Not that Tarantino commodification crap, mind you.

Can’t remember an episode of Outnumbered where the adults where calling each other silly names, swearing, naming parts and punching each other. There was some sort of altercation at the front door once, but it didn’t lead to violence. Not even a slammed door.

Writer Oliver Refson has to be British with that dialogue, but he looks suspiciously like Barton Fink. He directed as well. A review by Joshua Gaskell at Television Comedy Reviews covers it very well.

Baby Cow was set up by Steve Coogan, and is to be distinguished from Mad Cow Productions which is a Shropshire based amateur theatrical outfit.

January 31, 2014 Posted by | Andy Hamilton, Baby Cow productions, Guy Jenkin, Oliver Refson, Outnumbered, Uncle | , , , , , | Leave a comment

FILM tracking gaze


…..why it is important to know where a viewer is looking and how this relates to their experience of a film.


Watching you watch There will Be Blood

David Bordwell Website, 14 Feb 2011

A guest blog in David Bordwell’s Website, by Tim Smith, a psychologist at Birkbeck, whose blog on film perception is Continuity Boy. Bordwell asked Tim to the eye-tracking for the film.

What eye tracking tells us about the way we watch films [The Conversation, 4 December 2013]

Very good graphics. Authors Sean Redmond and and Jodi Seta are part of the Melbourne-based Eye Tracking and the Moving Image Group studying film eye-tracking using the Tobii eye-tracking and Tobii software.

The word saccade came into my field of view during first year psychology, many decades ago, involving eye movement in reading research. In the intervening years eye-tracking has become massive as only a cursory Google will show. A considerable amount of that is about eye movements in poor readers, in particular dyslexics. It was shown saccades and fixations in dyslexics were different from normal readers.

The phenomenon had been noted in the 19c. (wiki: Eye movements in reading). With the development of eye-tracking devices, the saccade has become part and parcel of diagnosing and attempting to correct reading in dyslexia sufferers.( e.g. King-Devick Test ) The technology is now so sophisticated it will take account of head movements, rather than requiring the head to kept still during testing.

Saccadology is everywhere: a Google can leave you inundated – I recommend using Google image to work back to articles from pictures that interest you.

Saccade Control in Reading

Developmental psychology and eye tracking From the Tobii website.

There are a few links down below on how they are using eye tracking in other areas.

One of the most interesting and fascinating studies is eye tracking of static images. The picture above came from Tracking the Gaze : a post by Michael Neault which took it from another, Ways of Seeing, by Sasha Archibald in Cabinet Mag, who took the original study by Yarbus using the Russian artist Ilya Repin’s painting, An Unexpected Visitor [1884], superimposing the eye movements onto the painting that were displayed separately in the original research. How Do We See Art: An Eye-Tracker Study took saccades and fixations further by using abstract art.

I’d be interested to know if dyslexics’ eye movements when looking at art or movies are different from those of good readers.

A little experiment:

1. Art historian (e.g. Andrew Graham-Dixon) explains a painting with a story to tell.

2. Control: you look at the painting by yourself before he pops along to put you straight.

Compare eye movements traces. (And perhaps a third one after he’s gone away, to see if different 1 and 2)

See also

The eye’s mind

{1} Psychocinematics: Exploring Cognition at the Movies – ed. Arthur P. Shimamura

Title of 2013 book. Below it an abstract from David Bordwell’s contribution. I’ve found a 2012 Bordwell post with the same title: The Viewer’s Share: Models of Mind in Explaining Film, which has a mass of ref links for further study. It combines history of theory and how film-makers came to make films in the light practical experience.

Eye tracking – beyond the call of duty

These are eye tracking of webpages: combination of text and graphics. Do eyes move to images first?

BBC News Reading Eye tracking Study

Eye Tracking Demo

Eye Tracking Demo

Eyetracking video

EyeWorks Features and Capabilities
YouTube explaining what eye-tracking can be used for: scriptwriters start sharpening you pencils.

Hmm…note to myself

He’s typing a text into his mobile while driving (naughty) but his eyes are darting back and forward to the road and signs. We can see the saccades and fixations. Huh? How’s that. What’s going on here? Does he see what we see? Etc.

O.k., let’s cut to the quick it’s a sinister plot to embed them in the human eye. They see where you are and where you’re going [mobile phones, CCTV, NSA, GCHQ], know what you’re thinking {Google, Twitter, Amazon even], and now they’ll see what you are looking at (or been looking at…).

Is it possible to ruin a film that hasn’t even got a script yet? Yes. No, it’s o.k., we have yet to discover what they do in response to this further invasion into our lives. First someone has to find out they’re tracked. Then what do they do about it? (Well, all very apropos the surveillance state).

Tracker. The Movie. 3D. Just when you thought it was safe to loo……aaagh….what’s that in my eye?

And though what you write is copywrite, titles aren’t. So off you go. Think dodgy opticians and ophthalmologist. Pity Lawrence Oliver’s not around. We need him to do a Dr. Christian Szell (Marathon Man) de notre jour or just slightly into the future. But only ever so slightly.

January 27, 2014 Posted by | Alfred Yarbus, films - eye tracking, Ilya Repin, Tim Smith, Tobii eye-tracking technology | , , , , , , | Comments Off on FILM tracking gaze

FILM KUBRICK Dr. Strangelove [1964]

FILM Dr Strangelove [peter Sellars] 1

Almost Everything in “Dr. Strangelove” Was True

The New Yorker, 23 January 2014

January 26, 2014 Posted by | Dr Strangelove, Kubrick | , | Leave a comment

FILM J G Ballard: The Oracle of Shepparton

PHOTO J G BALLARD [guardian]


J.G. Ballard: The Oracle of Shepperton

A film by

Thomas Cazals

{1} photo from : From outer space to inner space Martin Amis, Guardian, 25 April 2009, writing at Ballard’s death at the age of 78.

January 21, 2014 Posted by | J G Ballard | , | Leave a comment

FILM DOCUMENTARY The Unmade films of JG Ballard [1990]

GRAPHIC J G BALLARD drowned-world

The Unmade films of JG Ballard [1990]

Duration: 8 minutes

The Unmade films of JG Ballard [1990] [aka (I think) Moving Pictures: JG Ballard] directed by Christopher Petit.
A film essay on Ballard’s fiction, and its unrealised cinematic potential, with particular reference to David Cronenberg’s (yet to be filmed) Crash, featuring an interview with the director, prior to making of his film.
PLEASE NOTE:Unfortunately this second film is incomplete (the tape ran out) – I have been unable to find a running time listed anywhere, but it looks like it’s between 2 and 5 mins short (the whole program of both films was no more than about 25-30 mins long).

Long time since UBU passed my ken. Minority sport, but there can often be something that ties in with your current interest. Looking at CliFi as a genre, came across an e-book of Ballard’s, The Drowned World [1962] which I hadn’t read.

The Drowned World has recently been republished by The Folio Society with an intro by Will Self. He’s written a long article [Aug 2013] in The Telegraph, Will Self on J G Ballard’s ‘The Drowned World’).

So Christopher Petit’s 1990 film essay is on the button, despite the tantalising abrupt static ending. Not with a bang but with a whimper. Solar flare?

But hold on!

{1} J.G. Ballard’s “The Drowned World” Optioned by Warner Bros. [The Latino Review 28 Feb 2013]

No problem with radio adaptations: Graham White’s version, a 59 minute drama was aired on BBC Radio on 4 Sat 22 Jun 2013. As usual no longer available. Throw up hands/ purse mouth. BBC – massive corporation, can’t keep good drama in the cloud for everyone to enjoy as and when. What is the reason? There is nothing worse (apart from a drowned world…) than coming across mention of a BBC programme, getting all excited, going to the link and finding it’s no long available.

Incidentally, also on UBI, a well-read free downloadable audio book of Cocaine Nights.

January 20, 2014 Posted by | Cli-Fi, J G Ballard | , | 1 Comment

FILM TECHNIQUES aspect ratio

FILM ASPECT RATIO graphic [copy 2]

Open in separate tab for bigger image

Google image aspect ratios – tonnes of ways of showing, but this is one of the best. Stored this away for months for another post but the subject came up again in another context. Trying to find it in another search came up blank, then today having anyway found it deep down in the dungeons of a hard-drive, it came right up in a further search.

I’ve written here and there about interpretation in general terms – interpretative – gearing explanations to the audience and so on – and this is a great example. Just happens to be about film, combining two interests!

The majority of the graphics on aspect ratio try to economise, reduce space, but that ends up making the differences in format less clear on immediate viewing. Really more than one diagram is needed. This is one of the simplest of the compressed style.

FILM Aspect ratio 2 [combined]

January 9, 2014 Posted by | film aspect ratio | | Leave a comment


FILM LOCATION Regeneration 1

David Nicholls’ 7.39 – 2 part drama on BBC TV

It goes like this. Carl catches the 7.39 to town every morning. He puts his bag in the rack. A blonde woman, Sally, slides into his seat. Have a bit of a contretemps then start an affair which is doomed. Sure to be because she’s reading Jayne Eyre and he bought Anna Karenina to pretend to read it to impress her, admitted he couldn’t get into it and she told him Anna throws herself under a train – so that’s it then. End of. Mind you his house doesn’t burn down. (Though his wife looks angry enough to do it). He doesn’t end up blind either.

Anyway, at the end, when it looks to us as if it is the end for them, they get away from things to his parents cottage just to check if it is the end or not. Beautiful windy day. Walk on the beach. Glum. It all looks as if it’s really over.

Robbie and Cecilia are walking on the beach too and they stop for a chat. They look very happy unlike Carl and sally.


It turns out Robbie and Cecilia are staying at the coastguard cottages too. Sally realises they’ve walked straight into the final fantasy scene from Atonement.

ROBBIE and CECILIA crunch across the pebbles and splash
gleefully through the waves, below the towering white cliffs on
their way back to their white clapboard cottage.

But she hasn’t the heart tell Carl: he hasn’t see the film or read the book. Carl notices the other two are soaking wet. The couples part. Different directions along the beach. Sally looks up at Carl. Then turns round to look at the receding Robbie and Cecilia. No one there.

The other day a friend of mine said she’s watched The English Patient for the first time and loved it. I mentioned films we wouldn’t watch again/films we would, but not too often. I put Lawrence of Arabia, together with The English Patient at about 15-18 monthly. Then it occurred to me The English Patient could be chirped up a bit if after Ralph and Kristen had finished whatever it was they were doing in the corridor in the club, it cut to the scene where Lawrence goes into the officer’s club after trekking across the Sinai, and someone shouts out, “get that wog out of here!” at which point Ralph and Kristen look at each other and realise they’d drifted into another film again.

The coastguard cottages, beach at Cuckmere and the Seven Sisters have been used in several films including Harry Potter, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.

wiki: Cuckmere Haven

January 8, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

THE FILM THE BOOK BBC – The Thirteenth Tale

SNIP FILM The Thirteen tale [1]

Still available on BBC iPlayer

TV over Christmas and the New Year. Quality. Where is it? Ah, I remember the time…….and there was a time when there was good drama on British TV in not exactly bucket loads, but aplenty compared to today’s handful a year.

Though not in a strong position to talk book adaptations since I haven’t read the book, that’s where I’m going in the briefest of ways.

The Thirteenth Tale is is an adaptation by Christopher Hampton of Diane Setterfield’s best-selling novel. Going to have to read that book to compare it with the script – always interesting even if a novel is not top-rank. The novel was, is, very popular, and made her a packet. Hasn’t written any more. Wonder if she likes the adaptation.

With Vanessa Redgrave as Vida Winter and Olivia Colman played Margaret Lea, at one point Vida, the aging writer, to Margaret the amateur biographer:

“I always think being nice is what’s left over after you’ve failed at everything else.”

This drama may sink slowly without trace, but the quote will surely live on forever in cyberspace.

General consensus is the Christopher Hampton adaptation was well acted but petered off into scratching heads towards the end. Lovely grey skies, finally wonky plot.

Here’s another grey sky for good luck..

SNIP FILM The Thirteen tale [8]

It is said the book has a lot of references to Jane Eyre and The Brontës. Well the film doesn’t. This is immediately telegraphed in the film as set in Yorkshire. Are those the Moors? Margaret asks the driver on the way to meet the famous writer, which some wag points out is a bit silly, since Margaret has – also flagged up in the dialogue – written a biography of the The Brontës. Though perhaps that was the point – she’s an amateur and wouldn’t be trudging around Moors for atmosphere, but to the local library.

So apart from that one brief mention of Moors and their immediate introduction (screen grab 1 top), the poor old adapter (Hampton) has to rely on doing this visually, repeatedly, by reminding us with those leaden references to those nonetheless photogenic backdrops. A facile trope.

Better see how the book does it – where’ that 3B pencil?

January 2, 2014 Posted by | Christopher Hampton, Diane Setterfield, TV drama | , | Leave a comment