Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2017 scientific society talks in London blog post

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Imagine if you could pick your favourite films to see at the cinema

While reading an article on how social media might re-invigorate moviegoing (I clicked cos I thought it might be about livetweeting cinema, but that's pretty unlikely as no-one really wants another much smaller bright screen in the theatre with its owner texting away) I discovered something so brilliant I wish I'd thought of it. Tugg.com seems to work quite similarly to Pledgebank (from MySociety).

Pick a film you like (from a library of options), choose a location, create the event, promote it on social media and get people to sign up to buy tickets. If enough do, your film can be screened. Genius. 

Thus far this is a beta project and based in the US but it would be cool if it comes to the UK. I've found a UK film-related pledge on Pledgebank though - someone wants people to sign up to buy tickets to see The Dark Knight Rises at the Manchester Odeon IMAX theatre there (I'm assuming the film was shot in the right sort of format to allow it to be shown at the IMAX theatre of course). The pledge closes on 20 May, I hope it succeeds. 

Earlier today I was listening to a lunchtime programme on BBC Radio 4 about the ways in which retail spaces are changing, in response to changing tastes and the recession. One thing that intrigued me was the news that some shops now have CD / DVD / Blu-Ray printers that can ping you out a disc in under 10 minutes. You choose what film you want - I suspect you can even create a 'mix CD' with different tunes as you can probably by those individually rather than by album - and you'll get your DVD with the paper insert printed as well. Apparently identical to what you'd buy in a DVD shop online or offline.  Having now heard about Tugg.com (and on the same day too...) I can see parallels there.



Recently there's been a small spate of retrospectively 3D-ifying films formerly released in 2D. Last week I saw Titanic 3D at the IMAX (we sat a bit too close to the screen to get the full effect I think, nothing to do with 3D simply that the screen is so massive that being so close means it takes longer to scan your eye across to see what's on it, but the film was nonetheless magnificent), I understand that the Star Wars films are having the same treatment and Jurassic Park is set to be re-released next year in 3D.

While I'm deliriously excited at the prospect of seeing Jurassic Park in 3D (or indeed in any D, I am fairly smitten with this film) I think what really excites me about it is the prospect of it being re-released and having another moment in the sun. This is different from just spotting by chance that it's going to have a screening (thanks to information in the listings, usually via LondonNet.co.uk/films) or finding that it's being shown at an open air cinema screen (as it was last summer, in a garden in Bexleyheath) - this is an opportunity for a bit of both nostalgic and fresh buzz about a film, it's an event (to be fair all open air cinema screenings are events and are simply awesome).

I'm collecting information on London's open air cinema listings here by the way:
https://sites.google.com/site/openaircinemascreens/

I just enjoyed having Titanic 'back in the news', even if I hadn't gone to see it I would have enjoyed that. Like many I found the theatrical spectacle rather good fun the first time around and was curious to see how James Cameron had managed the layering techniques required to render 2D to 3D (that's the extent of my knowledge about it, it seems akin to magic to be honest). I also learned that Cameron drew all of Jack Dawson's pictures and that he co-invented the Cameron/Pace Fusion 3D cameras that were used to film Avatar*. Not to mention he's just shimmied all the way down to the Mariana Trench... I'm definitely of the opinion that he just makes startlingly incredible films to finance his science and discovery habit :-)

Speaking of nostalgia, the 194 minute Titanic 3D screening had a 25 minute intermission. I've no idea what the projectionist did during the 25 minutes (I like to think they changed the reels but I suspect not) but the presence of an interval was itself rather lovely. An 8pm start meant we left the IMAX at about ten to midnight though.

I find the information about the creation of a film every bit as fascinating as the actual film itself and can't help wondering why cinemagoers can't buy a programme about the production, with technical details as well as anything else people might find interesting. This is commonly done in stage productions so there seems to be some sort of precedent. I'm currently finishing off Simon Callow's excellent little book on the back story to the making of Charles Laughton's Night of the Hunter. Why aren't miniature versions of film-related info / screening notes etc available for every film? Could be cheaper than popcorn and probably more filling.

It would also be quite useful if there was a Songkick for films to make it even easier to hear about screenings. Songkick is embedded in YouTube and lets you know if an artist whose song you're listening to is touring, you can also use the iPhone app which performs the same service for artists on your iPlayer.

* Further reading
The Cameron/Pace Fusion 3D cameras used on Avatar were 'first used in a feature film' on Eric Brevig's Journey to the Center of the Earth - which I had already deemed brilliant merely for having the lovely Brendan Fraser in it but it's nice to learn more about the technology behind it - and this is a technically detailed PDF on the filming, post-production and theatre projection of said film. The post-production process sounds pretty unforgiving and I suppose I have a marginally better-than-zero hope of grasping the gist of it thanks to having just finished Walter Murch's fantastic book "In the Blink of an Eye" which is all about film editing etc etc.

Not everyone likes 3D though

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