December 11, 2018
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The Blogger's Guide to the Galaxy

Capturing Captioning

I'm sitting here, in my favorite coffee shop, writing a couple articles. On occasion, I have glanced up to see what is going on on the LCD television screen mounted on the wall in front of me. It has been playing MSNBC all afternoon, and the close captioning has been thoughtfully turned on, as the volume has been turned down.

Now, ordinarily close captioning would not be such a source of amusement, but live captioning can be truly funny. Pre-taped broadcasts, such as television shows and movies, are captioned prior to broadcast, so they can be proofread and perfected. Live broadcasts have no such luxury. This captioning is entered as the dialog unfolds on screen. Imaging some poor soul, tied to a keyboard, trying to make out just what everyone is saying, and then translating that to fingers moving over keys, and words on the screen. It can make for some very interesting mistakes, such as "influential" coming out as "in flu inchal". Occasionally, the captioner will just give up trying to keep up with a particularly fast-talking individual, trailing off in mid-sentence, only to pick the conversation up again with the next intelligible word they come across.

I shouldn't poke fun. With my 40-mistakes-a-minute typing skillz, I'd be the first one booted off the island during "Captioner Survivor". But it is fun to watch.

Posted on March 18, 2006 at 2:55 pm
Oscar Thoughts...

My Oscar thoughts...

Best Animated Short - Well, I was pleased to see that Wallace and Gromit won for this one. This was one of my favourite films this past year, and I have always been a huge fan of Nick Park's work. I am a huge Miyazaki fan, but it says something when even the writing duo that adapted Howl's Moving Castle to English admitted that Nick would probably win this catagory.

Best Documentary Feature - Again, I was very pleased at the outcome of this catagory. I absolutely loved March of the Penguins. The cinematography was superb, the editing was spot-on, the score for the film is one that I still listen to to this day, and the choice of Morgan Freeman for the narration was inspired.

Short Film (Animated) - All of the entries in this catagory were very well done, but I was the most impressed with Badgered. The entire short was hand-animated by one person for a student project. The subject matter is a little "greenpeace" for me, but the humour and ironies employeed in the story are excellent.

Music (Song) - OMG! I would not have guessed that in a million years. As much as I can't stand rap generally, I thought that it showed some real progression in the Oscars to award this song with the award. I would have rather seen In The Deep win, though. It is such a beautiful song.

Music (Score) - I love John Williams, and Munich is one of my favourite scores from the past year. But, once I heard the score for Brokeback Mountain, with those beautiful guitar strains over the orchestra, I was hooked. I only wish that the soundtrack for the film included more of Gustavo Santaolalla's wonderful score.

Directing - Kudos to Ang Lee for this award. The direction of Brokeback Mountain was superb. I saw a lot of the beauty that I originally saw in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in this movie, but it was obvious from some of the more difficult scenes that Lee has come a long way as a director.

Costume Design - It's hard to compete with Victorian England and the Far East when it comes to costuming, but I really loved the colourful playfulness of the costuming in Charlie and the Chocolate factory. I really wish that the award had gone there.

Cinematography - I simply do not agree with this award. Geshia's cinematography seemed needlessly cramped and somewhat pretentious at times. But the cinematography of Brokeback Mountain really captured the sweeping freedom of the Rocky Mountains. Absolutely beautiful. At least it was nominated.

Actress in a Leading Role - All of the nominees were very deserving in this catagory. I would have loved to see Dame Judy Dench receive the award here, or Keira Knightley (my second-favourite female actress in Hollywood right now). But I really think that Reese Witherspoon deserved the award she received this evening.

Actor in a Leading Role - With the possible exception of Hustle & Flow's Terrence Howard, everyone of these nominees got lost in their roles, allowing me to forget that it was an actor portraying a role. I must say that I was really pushing for Heath Ledger in this category, though. Of all of the roles, with the possible exception of Joaquin Phoenix, I think he had the furthest to go to reach his role. And I believed in Ennis completely.

Best Picture - Time to be completely honest, no holds barred, the only film that I wanted this award to go to was Brokeback Mountain. Crash, while an excellent film, just didn't have the same sort of heart and soul that Ang Lee, Heath, Jake, and the rest brought to Brokeback Mountain. It was a hard movie to watch, and it may be a while before I watch it again. But it was in the same way that Saving Private Ryan, or Schindler's List was. It makes you think. It gets inside you. And you are a changed person after seeing the movie. No other movie did that for me this year but Brokeback Mountain.

Posted on March 8, 2006 at 1:50 pm
Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit

First off, I have to preface the review by saying that I have been a huge Nick Park fan ever since I saw Creature Comforts for the first time many years ago. I have since had fun watching various ads on the telly, catching the ones that Aardman have worked on (the cars in the British Petroleum ads, the Serta sheep). Then I saw "A Close Shave", a short movie starring a hillarious pair of characters, and I was hooked. I've loved watching the Wallace and Gromit shorts ever since.

When I heard that Nick and company were finally coming out with a feature-length Wallace and Gromit story, I was elated. After the success of Chicken Run, my expectations were very high. And I am happy to report that they were met.

The one thing that really impressed me about the movie is that while this movie is obviously playing mainly towards a young audience, the filmmakers do not forget that there are both parents watching and older fans of Wallace and Gromit. There is a lot if subtle and hidden humour in the movie that adults will appreciate and down-right laugh out loud about. I would suggest going to the movie once to appreciate the story and movie itself, and then go again and try to pick out all of the little hidden things that have been dropped into the movie. For example, towards the end of the movie, Wallace comes up, umm, sans clothing, and Gromit finds a box for him to keep his dignity. On the box is a small sticker reading "May Contain Nuts". Hillarious!

The bunny design for the movie is even cuter than the penguin design from "The Wrong Trousers". The scenes of then trembling at the sight of the were-rabbit, along with the scenes of them floating around in the Bun-Vac will absolutely melt your heart.

Even the "monster" of the movie, the were-rabbit, has a lovable quality to it. In many ways, this movie helps to shed some light on the motivations of other monsters from the classic horror movies, such as Frankenstein's monster.

The inclusion of the Madagascar Penguin's short at the beginning is icing on the cake. The penguins were arguably the best part of Dreamworks Animation's luke-warm summer offering, and they are back in full force. There's just something about watching penguins act like characters out of a Tom Clancy book that gets me right in the funny bone.

It all equals a splendid 90 minutes spent at the theatre. I definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a refreshing alternative to the usual bombardment of vapid actioners or horror wannabes.

Posted on October 31, 2005 at 9:33 pm
Big Business tries to confuse the little guy

Not that this is a suprise to anyone, mind you. This kind of thing happens every day. But just recently it has really gotten to annoy the heck out of me.

The city that I live in is about to vote on whether or not to keep the option of starting a municipal utility. For those that do not know, a municipal utility is a utility that is paid for primarily by tax dollars. Its a way of giving inexpensive services, such as phone, cable, and Internet access, to the citizens of the city. Our fair city is served by two phone companies, so competition is so-so there. But we are served by one cable company, which also serves as our only wide-spread broadband provider. My cable bill runs nearly $140 a month. This is with digital cable, premium channels, DVR service, and cable modem running at 3Mbps burst. If I go to Omaha, where there is acutally real competition in these areas, I can get all this and more channels, faster connections, for nearly half the price. You cannot tell me that this has nothing to do with our cable company being a bunch of greedy bastards.

Now, ads have started showing up on the local television stations stating that the municipal utility plans are "risky" and "a waste of tax dollars". Well, anything worth while includes some risk. But, the ads would have you believe that the odds are better at the local casino than this utility succeeding. The real truth of the matter is that once people realize that they can get better services for a fraction of the price, they are going to drop the local cable company like a dead rat. Which means that the local cable company would actually have to start offering worthwhile services at a worthwhile price. No more executive yachts and million dollar bonuses. Excuse me while I take out my violin...

Posted on October 23, 2005 at 3:37 pm
Doctor Who, McDonalds Wi-Fi

Good news for those US Whovians who didn't resort to the Bittorrent trackers to watch the new Doctor Who series this summer (as I may or may not have done). Canada, who did run the series one week removed from the British air date of the episodes, will be getting Region 1 DVDs in February of next year! I just hope that this does not preclude the Beeb from persuing a US Region 1 release and/or a US television deal. I am a huge Doctor Who fan from way back, but I thought that this new series left the old one in the dust from a writing, character development, and production value standpoint. It would be a shame if only those who went shopping with our neighbors to the north got to experience this excellent bit of Sci-Fi.

Oh, and now I see that Nintendo and McDonalds are teaming up to offer Wi-Fi service for Nintendo DS users. Now, I realize that this is a marketing ploy cooked up by McDonalds and Nintendo, as sort of an extension of their deal to put GameCube stations in the restaurants, but I find it odd that they are directing the Wi-Fi access at a group that probably doesn't utilize the feature of their systems in the first place (as far as I know, there are only a couple of DS titles that even utilize Wi-Fi networking). Why not market to the hectic business person, sitting down to their Big Mac and fries with laptop or PDA in-tow? I guess, personally, this is how I plan to utilize the service, should a local McDonalds get outfitted as such. Oh the weird, strange games corporations play in bed ;)

Posted on October 18, 2005 at 6:22 pm
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