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Happy Wednesday!

We'll be doing Bab5 this evening, they've put an episode of Doctor Who on Wednesday evening for a change. I don't know why, maybe it's to do with the bank holiday.
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Pembury, tomorrow (Sunday 1st December), board games, 1pm till late. All comers welcome. I'm bringing Kingdom Builder.
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3D is one of those areas where my creative interests and my day job (a software engineer in the visual effects industry) collide. I have been excited by the technical challenges involved in stereo, but underlying this has been questions of its limitations. Is it just a gimmick, or a fad? Will all films be made like this? Does it contribute usefully to storytelling? Is it worth the extra couple of quid? What about those who are excluded?

As a consumer, I had become a bit cynical toward it. I don't think Avengers or Thor: The Dark World were improved by being in 3D; and specifically sought a 2D showing of Iron Man Three. With "The Day of the Doctor", the Doctor Who 50th anniversary, I had little choice. I could either see it in a hotel room on my own, or see it live in the cinema, in 3D (well, I could also have gone over to my brother's to watch it but then I'd have been even later at the Thought Bubble party, which would be the highlight of any other weekend). And what's the point of 3D in a television drama - something that is not only designed to be releasable on home video, but actively intended for display on little screens in people's living rooms?

I was wrong. It turns out to be the most successful use of 3D to tell a story that I have seen. And more importantly, it provides a way forward for 3D films to be worthwhile. What do I mean by this? Well...

mild spoilers for Day of the Doctor )

And that's why, I think, it really works. We are well into the 3D backlash. It's often done as an afterthought to films that were storyboarded without 3D in mind, and that of course still need to work in 2D; or it's done with bulky cameras that it's hard to do interesting stuff with. I suspect this is what leads to them cranking up the disparity to uncomfortable levels, or getting actors to poke things in our eyes.

"The Day of the Doctor" shows that it doesn't have to be like that, that if you plan things correctly then the 3D doesn't have to be a gimmick. Sure, not every film is going to be prominently feature dimensionally transcendent rooms, but that doesn't mean you don't want to create a sense of scale, a sense of space. But this may mean changing how you edit films. Fast-cutting fight scenes simply don't work in this world: you need to go the Sucker Punch and Beowulf route by replacing cuts with pans and zooms.

I think the make-or-break film for 3D will be Edgar Wright's Ant-Man. This will be released in 2015, which is going to be a big year for big films (the Avengers sequel, Star Wars Episode VII, the Batman/Superman film, and that's just getting started), so it's an odd one to focus on, but I think it has potential. Ant-Man is a size-changer. Imagine what that would mean with well-done 3D. You could have first person shots of the lab he is in widening out to become an impossibly large space, as he shrinks. You could cut between parallel action at a macro scale and a micro scale, hinting which is which not by different lighting but using a different interocular distance.

It will need to be very clever to work (this is fine, as Wright is very clever). It will need a good stereographer. It will need pre-visualisation and storyboarding. But Wright will also be expected to deliver a version of the film in 2D. Traditionally, these have been the same edit - often just the left or right view from the 3D edit. It is that very thing that is holding 3D back. What is the point of showing size-changing or portals with 3D if you then have to have expository dialogue clarifying what is going on?

Perhaps, in order to be worthwhile, 3D film needs to abandon the idea of being downconvertable to 2D. Sure, make a 2D edit, but let's have that be something different to merely picking one of the eyes from the 3D. 2D films and 3D films are different arts and need different approaches.

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I made my London DJ debut at the Monarch in Camden tonight, at Time-Space Quizualiser event. I think there was some kind of quiz going on in between my sets but I wasn't really paying attention. Here's the setlist (I think it might even be mostly in the right order.) Ten points to the first person who can spot the theme.

Ron Grainer - Doctor Who theme
Orbital - Who?

break for quiz

The Timelords - Doctorin' the TARDIS

break for quiz

John Barrowman, David Tennant and Catherine Tate - The Ballad of Russell and Julie
Jon Pertwee - Who Is The Doctor
Who Cares? - Doctor in Distress
Ian Levine - K-9 and Company theme
The Go-Go's - I'm Going to Spend My Christmas With A Dalek
Roberta Tovey - Who's Who
Delia Derbyshire - Doctor Who theme (1963)
Murray Gold - I Am The Doctor (2010)
Art Brut - I Am The Psychic (fragment) 1
Murray Gold - The Majestic Tale (2012)
John Debney - Doctor Who theme (1996)
EightBitBaconStrips - Doctor Who theme
Tim Minchin - Doctor Who theme
Delia Derbyshire/Peter Howell/Dominic Glynn/Keff McCulloch/John Debney/Murray Gold - Doctor Who theme (1963-2010)

Unfortunately I was unable to find the wrongest cover of any Doctor Who music: I am the Kefftor, a cover of "I Am the Doctor" in the style of Keff McCulloch. Listen to it, but prepare your ears first.

1. I'd searched my phone for "I Am" and that came on next. Oops.
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In this age of mobiles and digits, we have come to forget certain quirks of older technology. One such peculiarity is the way that a circuit on a phone line on the British fixed public telephone network can only be closed by the initiator. Or, in English: you can only hang up on a landline from the end that's calling it. If you've been called, there's nothing you can do. I encountered this concept during my childhood, when someone did this accidentally, presumably by failing to place the receiver down properly. We blew a whistle down the line, to try and get them to notice.

More recently, people have been taking advantage of this anomaly, to conduct quite a clever scam. They call you claiming to be the police, and tell you, often with dramatic adornment, that your card has been cloned or stolen and needs to be cancelled. They advise you to phone the number on the back of your card. I had one of these maybe a year ago. The call was very suspicious, so I ignored it, but I couldn't figure out their angle.

The trick is, they never hang up. They fake the dial tone. They fake the ring tone. They pretend to be your bank. They wheedle your PIN out of you. They fake the police. Eventually, they send a courier to pick up the card. And then they go off to the ATM and empty your account.

I was lucky that time, but not everyone is. An acquaintance got taken good and hard. So when they called yesterday, I immediately realised what was going on, scrambled for my iPhone, put the thing on speakerphone, and taped the bastard.

A recording [anyone fancy transcribing it?]

It's quite funny. Especially the ending.
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The entries to the Thought Bubble Comic Art Competition, featuring our entry as the first in the over-18s section (having a name starting with Ab will do that.)
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Here's a list of all the English-language press and blogs I've seen so far (and one French one). Let me know of any more and I'll add them: Initial coverage: After the move back:
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I've been importing old entries off my advogato diary here, for consolidation purposes. I'm planning to do the same with my mono diary. I've got my current mono diary's account, but can't find and copies of my old mono diary: I blanked it. I don't suppose anyone has a copy lying around do they? Or possibly access to backups which might have it in?
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Does anyone fancy coming along to these things? I bought extra tickets on the basis I would try and persuade friends to come along with me. So, friends, what do you say?

  • Saturday September 14th, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Live tour, at the Hackney Empire; most of the original surviving cast; it was awesome last year; I booked 4 and still have a spare ticket - £25. all gone
  • Tuesday November 5th, Art Brut at the Village Underground in Shoreditch. Art Brut were difficult enough for me to explain in 2005, when I first saw them (three times in a year!): see their early singles Formed A Band and Emily Kane. I have a spare ticket.
  • Sunday, November 17th. Toby Hadoke performs a double-bill of his two Doctor Who one-man shows "Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf" and "My Stepson Stole My Sonic Screwdriver" at the Garrick. I have a spare ticket. gone

Nobody likes Art Brut? What is wrong with you all? :-(
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I committed a fanfiction for the Doctor Who 50th anniversary, because I had an idea and then the words started spewing out of me at midnight when I got home. The Seventh Doctor and Ace go to Shoreditch in 2013 in Doctor Who and the Hipsters. What horrors lurk on the Bethnal Green Road?

I would like to apologise to everyone for this. I promise not to do it again.
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Me and [personal profile] doseybat have been watching Game of Thrones in half-marathons. We've caught up as far as S3E6. I've been reading spoilers and know the rough shape of the story to come; she doesn't (although she of course got spoiled for S3E9, what with living in London and reading the Metro).

And now in evenings and on the tube I've just read Game of Thrones the book, since Monday. Quite a light read, actually. Don't think I'm going to bother with the sequels, though.

Some thoughts occur. I think I've managed to craft this so there are no actual spoilers, beyond merely the fact that Game of Thrones has characters called certain things who are related to each other in certain ways and are introduced in certain episodes. (None of this is presented as a surprise in the narrative.)

This must be the most crazy television show to cast in the history of television shows. There are what, 20 main characters in season 1? And yet that's with the cast pared down. There are lots of characters who appear briefly in Game of Thrones the book who will later appear in the TV show and then suddenly be really important; but whose introduction is delayed in the TV show. And there are plenty of characters who do get introduced at the same time as in the books, and then suddenly they are really important. And I've noticed that I consistently get confused by character introductions after season 1.

Let's look at Edmure Tulley, for example. In the books, he's established in Game of Thrones as Catelyn's brother, he gets a few lines. Lord Tully, his father, wants to marry him off, we know that. He'll later go on to have a more important part in book 3. In the TV show he gets no such pre-introduction. He appears in season 3 episode 3, and his first scene is one with the boat and the arrows. If you've seen it, you'll remember it. Now, I can see why they've not had him as a cameo in season 1 or 2. They want good actors in these roles, but if they had them in season 1 as a cameo they can't promise them much work yet but need them to be be available for season 3 or 4 or 5 (assuming it gets made?) Difficult. So instead they defer the casting process to when they actually have a decent amount of work to promise people. So, what would is actually a perfectly normal TV pattern of a guest star going on to become a more important regular as the focus of the series changes ends up not being used by GoT. People are suddenly thrust into importance when they are introduced. (This has happened before. I guess the next person it will happen to is Jeyne Pool.)

So, anyway, Edmure Tully's introduction. The problem is he's not named in that episode. I remember thinking "ooh, isn't it that chap from Black Mirror playing, oh, actually I'm not sure of the name of the character", thinking it was me. But now I look at the transcripts, episode 3 does establish him as Robb's uncle. But he's not called "Lord Tully", his relation to Blackfish isn't made clear, and the killer is he won't be named until episode 6. Now, maybe a previous episode did give a name to Robb's Tully uncle. But in a show with a cast this big nobody's going to make that type of connection. You need a name and face on screen at the same time.

And it's done this sort of thing time and time again. And it's just shoddy. If you're not naming a character as some sort of mystery or have a dramatic reason for doing it, fair enough. But this is blatantly not what's happening. They're just adapting cool bits from the source material without properly taking into account the basic narrative function of introducing the audience to the characters. Game of Thrones does this a lot, and not just with introductions. For a TV series it's barely visual at all, it would work remarkably well as an audio play.
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I posted a job to do my soffit and guttering on on Friday afternoon and by Saturday lunchtime people were climbing up it with ladders! They identified further problems with my chimney and tiles, which they are fixing on Monday. This website (where you describe the job you want doing and then they phone you), is going to be dangerous for me, I can tell, because I hate phoning people, but don't mind being phoned.

I am told I did know about the hole in the wall. I don't remember it, though. Complete blank. I wonder if I should just go ahead and convert that into a door sooner rather than later?

In other news, me and [personal profile] khalinche have been doing work on my garden. There is a lot of stuff to do, but now after the weekend it seems possible. Also: stuff got taken to the tip and I got hold of a composter.

Is this middle-age? I think it is, isn't it. It's not bad, really. I need to get better slippers, though.

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Of course it turns out Thought Bubble is being held over the Doctor Who 50th anniversary weekend. THIS IS VERY ANNOYING. I might just skip it this year, because I am not going to be able to keep my mind on comics.
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What will you be doing on Saturday 23rd November, 2013, at 7pm? Well, watching Doctor Who, obviously. But where?

I am thinking about having a Doctor Who marathon at my house. The programme would look a little something like:

1200 An Unearthly Child (the first episode)
1300 The Three Doctors (10th anniversary story)
1500 The Five Doctors (20th anniversary story)
1700 Remembrance of the Daleks (25th anniversary story)
1900 The Fiftieth Anniversary Special on BBC One (assuming that's when they put it, of course)
2030 An Adventure in Space and Time on BBC Two (even more tentative guess than the special itself)

I know this is a long way in advance, and I'm not asking for commitments to attend, but I'm just pondering - does this sound like the sort of thing people would be interested in?
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Given how software patents turned out (we are still mopping up the damage and it has set technology back years) perhaps someone should start a website accepting user submissions for specific ideas for how 3D printers and other rapid manufacturing technology could be used in the future; so that when these parasites start patenting things that can be predicted in 2013, then they can be shut down by pointing to this as evidence of quite how obvious they were.

Thoughts, anyone? Maybe this already exists?


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Abigail Brady

May 2017

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