Thursday, 20 September 2012

Move Over Nick Park

Everyone has got a talent.  For most mortals it takes time to find out what you have a talent for.  It might be for music, running, throwing the javelin or even doing maths or writing. Occasionally though, every once in while someone comes along whose talent is obvious and outstanding.

In this case the talent is Morgan Spenny who specialises in Stop Motion lego films.  Have a look at the film below.  In the words of the great Bruce Willis.  It has all the action you need: helicopters, car chases; man hunts and gun fights. Despite having no romance, nobody could reasonably ask for anything more.

From a technical perspective, the short film reveals a rich understanding of the film making process.  At its heart is a strong story that everyone can understand. It features tracking shots, over head shots and shots from different camera angles to re-enforce the impression of movement and add a dynamic feel to the film.  The film is further improved by the use of clever shifts in focus to give a feeling of depth, changes in perspective and by giving different points of view from each character to help develop the story.  A classic moment is when the villain escapes from the mail van and the camera moves to look over the shoulder of a member of the public half hidden by the building and  ringing the police.  The camera suddenly changes focus to give the impression of the villain moving off into the distance.  The film is brilliant.

More of Morgan's films can be viewed at his own website at  Its well worth a visit and it shows how he made it.  I'm sure, time allowing,  Morgan will only be too pleased to help others out and share his secrets with everyone.

His films also reveal personal qualities beyond just a technical understanding of how to make films.  I should imagine they require perseverance, a degree of patience, which I ashamed to say escapes me, almost obsessive attention to detail and a high degree of problem solving ability to get the effects he needs with just lego.

Anyway watch the film - it's well worth it.  What do you think?  What's your favorite moment?

Do you have a hidden talent that you want to show off.  Have you created a power-point, taken a photograph, sailed a boat, run or done absolutely anything at all that you want to show off.  If you have let us know.  After all, this page is dedicated to you and all of us have got something to show off.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Apples Are Not the Only Fruit

In an earlier post, the cheap and cheerful Sinclair Spectrum was mentioned as one of the  triggers for the rapid growth in popularity for home computing in the late 70's and early 80's; at least in the UK. A simple box with a built in keyboard, it came without a monitor and had to be plugged into a TV.  With only a few commercial programs about, most programs had to be written by users.

The lead that Britain had in home computing was quickly lost, as companies like Apple led the way in making easy to use, powerful, but expensive computers.  Putting companies like Sinclair and Apricot - another fruit - out of business.

Now though, those sunny upland days may be here again with the new Raspberry Pi  computer which costs only a measley £15 to £25!  Yes folks! You’ve read correctly: they really are that cheap.  Admittedly a screen and a keyboard is needed, but everyone has a TV and keyboards can be had for under £.5.  Compared to hundreds of pounds needed for smart phones, tablets and laptops, they’re cheap as chips. And Raspberry Pi’s only weigh 1.5oz (42.5 in new fangled grams ) so they’re light on your pocket in every sense of the word. See here for more specs

Linux provides the operating system which makes the Raspberry Pi work.  Some see this as a disadvantage, but I prefer to see it as an opportunity. Linux is, in my humble opinion, the best operating system around and free too.  But it does mean that  many programs and apps  have to be created by users.  An excellent way of mastering programming skills and as the country is short of programmers, becoming one, represents one the of best ways of guaranteeing a job as you can possibly get.

It strikes me then, that we have travelled a full circle. Moving from the Sinclair Spectrum through expensive bigger boxes running overpriced programs created by multinational corporations, back to cheap, small but still powerful computers - they work at around  the same speed as an IPAD - which have to be programmed by their owners.  So the future is Raspberry flavoured and the question is: If you were to invent a computer, what fruit would you name it after?