All entries for December 2007

December 26, 2007

Last Resort:2000. Pawel Pawlikowski

Last Resort:2000. Pawel Pawlikowski

Introduction


This entry is currently going to be limited to being a webliography. It is part of an ongoing analysis of contemporary British cinema and its responses to the processes of globalisation and diaspora which are a major feature of contemporary networked society. As such it is cross linked to this entry: Contemporary British Cinema: Representing the World Locally


Webliography 

BBC 4: Film and Drama

BBC as a production commissioner

BBC Interview with Pawlikowski 

Guardian on Last Resort

Guardian Pete Bradshaw on Last Resort

Philip French on Last Resort

Oxford Brookes University Comment 

AHRC research project on 'Migrant and Disaporic Cinema' 

Open Democracy comparative commentary on Last Resort and Haneke's Code Unknown




Film Availability :      Last Resort DVD Cover


Last Resort is available from MovieMail here.  


RETURN TO BRITISH DIRECTORS HUB PAGE 


December 25, 2007

Contemporary British Cinema: Representing The World Locally

Contemporary British Cinema: Representing the World Locally

Preface:

If you have arrived here from the Chronology of European Cinema page the reason is that the film you are interested can be understood as part of the theme above.  You will find  a link below which will take you to a specialist page. See also Globalisation and Cinema Hub Page

Introduction: The Misrepresentations of Global Cinema

As an important media form Cinema as a whole functions through systems of representing the world . How it represents the world and what it represents are extremly important in terms of influencing opinion. The whole global economy is currently in a phase which Manuel Castells has described as a 'Networked society' others call it 'information society' and the 'information economy'. Whilst some consider that the Capitalist system underpinnng this phase is 'Late' Capitalism this comment is more speculative and / or polemical than proven. What is the case is that liberal, largely uncontrolled and deregulated, free market capitalism as an economic system has never been so powerful as it is in its current phase. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the Soviet bloc of Eastern and Central Europe from 1989 onwards has been a central part of this process. The economic regime institued by the Thatcher / Reagan coupling was called "Shock Therapy" in which vast numbers of citizens in the former Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc lost their savings and their jobs. The old style communict China becoming increasingly isolated it has been  changing its  internal model  of the economy and the  political management of this to accomodate capitalism. As a result it now plays a hugely important role in world markets as it has taken over the mantle of 'workshop of the world', a mantle that was a British one for much of the 19th century. 

The human cost of this process has been and is horrendous but much of this process has been largely unrepresented in the popular media. where it has been represented the outcomes of these vast global changes has been represented as a threat from the desperate victims  who have been placed in camps in France whilst trying to gain access to the UK by both legal and illegal means.

The reality which many especially those in the middle and controlling elites choose to ignore is that large cities operate largely on the basis of this informal economy of undocumented labour who through this process lose many of thier human rights. It is a process which has been going on longer in the United States and the theorist Mike Davis in his book City of Quartz out in the early 1990s reported on whole shanty cities full of undocumented workers from Latin America as satellite cities of Los Angeles. Naturally Hollywood cinema has not seen fit to represent these social and cultural issues at a serious level.


Contemporary British Cinema: Representions of the Oppressed 


British cinema, even in Britain itself, is on the margins of the dominant systems of representation (see The Irresistable Rise of the Multiplex) in recent years it has developed a proud tradition of representing the underdog and ensuring that at least a few people gain a different understanding to the process of real life away from the pathetic populist celebrity glamour that dominates so many media forms. 

As can be seen from the list of films below the themes of diaspora and migration and a range of different perspectives upon these processes give us a chance to gain a better understanding of the world.  Of the various subthemes which this important response led by British cinema has neglected perhaps the organised criminality associated with sexual exploitation and the sex trade is the most important. It is dealt with partially in Last Resort and Dirty Pretty Things but the film which most powerfully represent this deeply nasty trade is Lilya 4-ever. Finally the British government is in the process of creating legislation to clamp down on this social evil:


Do we think it's right in the 21st Century that women should be in a sex trade or do we think it's exploitation and should be banned (Harriet Harman in BBC report)

This is of course controversial but should not be cosidered as creating a prurient regime rather as removing a mechanism of exploitation in society. Despite the outrage - mainly from men - in the BBC comments box, sexual commodification deeply degrades and denases humanity. Most of those who are victims of it are forced in by economic circumstance, other pressures or through a childhood of sexual abuse. As such the sex trade reinforces and reflects the unequal relationships of economic and gender power within society.


British Cinema and Diaspora

The list of recent British films which have diaspora and migration as a strong underlying theme include:



Diaspora Cinema 

Conference on the Industrial Context of Diaspora and Migrant Cinema


Film Availability : in_this_world_dvd_cover.jpg   last_resort_dvd_cover.jpg dirty_pretty_things_dvd_cover.jpg Ghosts DVD Cover    It


 



December 24, 2007

Shane Meadows

British Directors: Shane Meadows (1973 -)


Introduction  


Along with many other British director entries this entry is 'work in progress' nevertheless it will provide a basic signposting to other available resources on the web in the first instance until I'm able to make a fuller evaluation. 

There are some useful links in the webliography including an extract at the BBC Film Network site.  


Filmography


2008: Somers Town

2006: This Is England

2004: Dead Man's Shoes

2002: Once Upon a Time in the Midlands

1999: A Room for Romeo Brass

1997: TwentyFourSeven

1996: Smalltime 

Film availability: These DVDs are available

This is Engalnd DVD Cover Twenty Four Seven DVD Cover A Room for Romeo Brass DVD cover Dead Man




Webliography 

BBC Film Network interview with Shane Meadows. (Viewable extract available).  

Screenonline Biography

BFI: Twenty Four Seven

Screenonline: Smalltime (Debut Feature)

Guardian interview with Shane Meadows 

Shane Meadows on Guardian arts blog

Time Out interview Shane Meadows 




RETURN TO BRITISH DIRECTORS HUB PAGE 



Andrea Arnold

Andrea Arnold (1961- )

Andrea Arnold photo by Sara Lee

Andrea Arnold. (Photo by Sara Lee) 

Introduction

Along with many other British director entries this entry is 'work in progress' nevertheless it will provide a basic signposting to other available resources on the web in the first instance until I'm able to make a fuller evaluation.





Extract from the short film Wasp (2003)







Red Road

Funding Regime: for the purpose of studying Contemporary British Cinema as most of them are small budget compared to Hollywood films it is important to be aware of the funding sources. Raising funds is only one hurdle which is linked to issues of distribution and exhibition. The reality is that it is very hard to see British films in British cinemas. (See the entry on The Irresistable Rise of the Multiplex for a partial explanation of this problem. Also see entry The Role of TV in the British Film Industry).  

Co-funded by the UK Film Council's New Cinema and Development funds, BBC Films, the Glasgow Film Office and Scottish Screen, the film was produced by Glasgow-based Sigma Films in collaboration with Lars Von Trier's Zentropa Films.

Filmography

Full Feature Films

Red Road (2006)

Shorts

Wasp ( 2003)

Dog (2001) 

Webliography 

British Council Brit Films entry on Andrea Arnold

Guardian Interview with Andrea Arnold

Report from Time Out on a visit to the set of Red Road 

Time Out feature on Red Road

BBC Press Office report on  Prix du Jury at Cannes for Red Road

BIFA Award for Red Road

Wikipedia entry on Andrea Arnold 

Red Road and the Surveillance Society

Verve Pictures. Full Production notes downloadable as a PDF.

Greencine interview with Andrea Arnold at Toronto Film Festival

New Statesman Review of Red Road 

RETURN TO BRITISH DIRECTORS HUB PAGE 


Lynne Ramsay

Lynne Ramsay (1969-)

Introduction

Along with many other British director entries this entry is 'work in progress' nevertheless it will provide a basic signposting to other available resources on the web in the first instance until I'm able to make a fuller evaluation.

Filmography

Morven Callar (2002)

Ratcatcher (1999)

Kill the Day (1997)

Webliography

Screenonline Biography of Lynne Ramsay

Guardian Interview with Lynne Ramsay

Guardian on Ramsay's development  

Another Guardian Article on Ramsay

Ramsay at Cannes

Ramsay interviewed at Cannes

British Short Films  

BFI NEws Ratcather wins Sutherland Trophy

Magical Urbanism:Walter Benjamin and Utopian Realism in the film Ratcatcher

Morvern Callar DVD Cover

Films Available:  Ratcatcher DVD Cover

RETURN TO BRITISH DIRECTORS HUB PAGE 


December 23, 2007

Piracy and Downloading

Piracy Downloading and the Entertainments Business

For those of you doing music downloading within new media technologies this is a useful recent link:

BitTorrent search site loses case



The Size of the Internet


The Size and Growth of the Internet

Netcraft ran its first survey about the size of the internet in 1995 the year that Amazon launched.

1995: 18,957 websites 

2000: 19,800,000 websites

2005: 74,400,000 websites The year of its biggest growth

In its October 2005 survey, Netcraft found 74.4 million web addresses, a rise of more than 2.68 million from the September figure.

2007 (November) 149,784,002 websites

Netcraft Size of the Web

Netcraft estimate that in 2007 there has been an increase of 40 million sites since the start of the year:

Much of the growth in sites this year has come from the increasing number of blogging sites, in particular at Live Spaces, Blogger and MySpace.

If this estimate is right then it shows how important the development of Web 2.0 has become as a user generated publishing phenomena. In reality one can argue that this represents an increasing fragmentation of the publishing market.  


Growth of the Blogosphere

The Growth of Blogging in 2007

What is Blogging? 

Please go to BBC Webwise site if you are unsure. 

In 2005 a survey found out that:

Research conducted among taxi drivers, hairdressers and pub landlords - backed up by conventional market research of more than 1,000 adults in the UK - has found that seven out of 10 people don't know what a blog is. Nine out of 10 don't know what podcasting or flashmobbing are. ( Blogging v dogging)

By 2006 the BBC World Affairs Correspondent Paul Reynolds had this to say:

I regard the blogosphere as a source of criticism that must be listened to and as a source of information that can be used.

The mainstream media (MSM in the jargon) has to sit up and take notice and develop some policies to meet this challenge. (Bloggers: an army of irregulars)

The November figures from the Netcraft organisation suggest: that in 2007 there has been an increase of 40 million sites since the start of the year:

Much of the growth in sites this year has come from the increasing number of blogging sites, in particular at Live Spaces, Blogger and MySpace.

Web 2.0 is clearly making a phenomenal difference to the lives of literally millions of publishers. This is a phenomenon which is really without precedent. The Gutenberg revolution was obviously a massive step in human development but how what we are witnessing now will be considered in a few decades time is liekly to be seen a huge leap forward in the development of humanity. In terms of culture as well as wealth and methods of education and doing politics interactivity is the way forward.

Webliography 

One blog created 'every second'

Blogs vie with news for eyeballs


December 22, 2007

Virtual Worlds and Second Life: A Changing Media Environment

Virtual Worlds & Second Life: A Changing Media Environment

Philip Rosedale and his avatar

Philip Rosedale the founder of Linden Labs who run Second Life alongside his avatar.

Introduction

One of the most fascinating developments in new media is the growth of virtual worlds with Second Life currently the leading virtual world in the marketplace although there are other ones being developed. Here I start to examine the growth of the virtual worlds and discuss whether phenomena such as Second Life should be considered as a game, a social networking site, or as something else in its own right. A quick search on Amazon UK reveals 11 titles currently available on Second Life. But these are largely not academic more like Lonely Planets Guides. An academic one just published is linked below. It is the first in a stream that will undobtedly appear in the next 18 months.

This page has developed out of my attempts to encourage my AS students to investigate Teen Second Life as part of their Audiences and Institutions: New Media Technologies Unit. It would be interesting to develop a media teaching environment in there so any media teachers / lecturers teaching this age range please drop a comment in the box. 

Game or Not: A Convergence?

The Uvvy wiki points out with a clear position on whether it is a game in the opening to its entry:

Second Life is a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents. Since opening to the public in 2003, it has grown explosively and today is inhabited by millions of people (August 2006) from around the globe. Second Life is not a videogame, but a complete platform for business and entertainment. ( My emphasis: Uvvi wiki entry 22 / 12 / 07)

Uvvy itself can hardly be said to be neutral on the issue as they are:

uvvy is a full service Internet, Virtual Reality and Metaverse consulting and engineering team

Here some of the ideas are explained:  

The uvvy is the ultimate p2p communication device invented by the mathematician, computer scientist and science fiction writer Rudy Rucker. The uvvy does not exist yet but maybe coming soon.

Academia hasn't quite caught on to the fact that computer games represent the convergence and the flowering of the most ambitious frontier efforts of the old twentieth-century computer science: artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and artificial life." Rudy Rucker, "The Lifebox, the Seashell, and the Soul" (My empahsis).

Well this gets us around the question of whether it is a game or not - sort of!

The Virtual Worlds Review 

Virtual Worlds Review has a useful page which analyses several types of virtual world:

A virtual world is an interactive simulated environment accessed by multiple users through an online interface. Virtual worlds are also called "digital worlds," "simulated worlds" and "MMOG's." There are many different types of virtual worlds, however there are six features all of them have in common:

1. Shared Space: the world allows many users to participate at once.

2. Graphical User Interface: the world depicts space visually, ranging in style from 2D "cartoon" imagery to more immersive 3D environments.

3. Immediacy: interaction takes place in real time.

4. Interactivity: the world allows users to alter, develop, build, or submit customized content.

5. Persistence: the world's existence continues regardless of whether individual users are logged in.

6. Socialization/Community: the world allows and encourages the formation of in-world social groups like teams, guilds, clubs, cliques, housemates, neighborhoods, etc. 

Below there is an interesting attempt to develop a more politically astute environment.

Agora Exchange

This site has led me to an interesting  site in which a political game is being devised. It is taking a range of ideas from contributors who must first of all log in. It has actually been commissioned by the Tate Gallery online:

Commissioned by Tate Online, through funding from the Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Science and Technology. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Changing Concepts of Cyberspace 

The 07 Siggraph Conference brought out some interesting ideas relating to virtual worlds. As Amy Bruckman suggested in a paper reported by the BBC. 

Already online worlds such as Second Life challenged notions of what was meant by "cyberspace", said Amy Bruckman, associate professor in the College of Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Coined by William Gibson, cyberspace has been defined as the "place" where a telephone conversation appears to occur. Increasingly it has been associated with online spaces, often games, where people go to play and socialize and are represented by an avatar.

However, said Prof Bruckman, it was becoming obvious that blogs and MySpace and Facebook pages were also in cyberspace, even though they also had strong links to the real world, because they were used to showcase events such as birthday parties, excursions or the birth of their children.

How will the Audience Develop?

Exodus to the Virtual World

Published by Palgrave in the US in November 2007 by Edward Castronova  this is one of the first of what will soon be a stream of academic publications on developments in Virtual Worlds.  

The appeal of online virtual worlds such as Second Life is such that it may trigger an exodus of people seeking to "disappear from reality," an expert on large-scale online games has said. (Edward Castronova, Associate Professor in the Department of Telecommunications at Indiana University to the BBC)

But he stressed there will be a group of people that spends all their lives there, and that the big question is the size of this group. (Ibid)

Castronova goes to some pains to differentiate between escapism - somebody avoiding a  situation say a weak marital relationship -  compared to a refuge from the world in which somebody can make a go of things whilst in conventional life they were being discriminated against. He also comments that it is likely to have a strong appeal to those in low paid low skilled jobs. however wherever people congregate there is usually exploitation and they will be paying to be exploited twice just like going to the movies, but if they enjoy themselves and they feel there is some element of control in their lives maybe it won't be so bad.

However if you check out the Densu Virtual Tokyo initiative below they are aiming to use Second Life to conduct high added value services like selling real estate. Clearly there are a number of ways in which this world might develop its audiences in the plural.  

Identity in Virtual Life

It is remarkable to see the reactions of people when one talks to them about Second Life and the possibility of spending a considerable amount of time in one / several virtual worlds. Is the fear / attraction of escapism from "the meat" as William Gibson describes it?

One thing is for certain the issue of identity is likely to be the core one when it comes to the success of these worlds. Many of my own students either quickly expressed an interest or reacted quite strongly against the possibility.  

Historically it might be possible to equate these virtual spaces to the societal role of the masked ball or issues of carnival written about by Bahktin. These are spaces where people can legitimately "transgress". Psychoanalytic accounts based upon Lacanian thinking will probably come to analyse these spaces as ones of the remainder. Probably different worlds will develop different codes of behaviour and perhaps different worlds will prove more attractive to different classes and types of people and come to be understood as functioning differently there are after all lots of different types of pubs and clubs and Bourdieu's notion of cultural capital will, I'm sure, be applicable in due course. It is if course far to early in the development of these worlds to be anyhting more than speculative.   

Here is a long paper by Judith Donath teaching within the MIT media department on "Designing Sociable Media" in 2001. It is quite an old paper now but the issue of identity and deception is even more important now than it ever was. Donath's course had many intersting elements. Here we can see that she is applying her research into the early MUDs into the beginnings of the developing online virtual worlds:

Nearly all of the avatar systems in current development (or in fiction for that matter) are graphical versions of real-time conversation systems (Rossney 1996). This is not surprising, since many social cues that are needed in a real-time conversation - such as emotional expressions, indications of attention, turn-taking signals, and awareness of presence - are problematic in a purely text-based world. Many of the distinctive vocabularies and discourse patterns (smileys, emote commands, etc.) that have evolved in these environments are attempts, given the very limited communicative channel, to introduce expression and other non-textual components of real-world speech (Cherny 1995). Graphical interfaces provide a promising new medium for conveying this information. (From Donath: Inhabiting the Virtual City). 

Donath's key point here is that avatars will effectively become and already are much more effective means of communication incorporating a wealth of non-verbal communication. It might not be real life but then it's not meant to be! It is a media and communications system.

Avatars from Worlds Away

Donath has illustrated her paper with this image of avatars from the World's Away environment dating from 1996. Obviously things have moved on a lot since then.  This environment  originally run by Fujitsu is now owned by VZone

Making Life Easy or Making it Worse?

As we increasingly move towards shopping on the internet there could be distinct advantages in doing this in a virtual world environment points out Philp Rosedale the founder of Second Life:

Shopping on Amazon might be much easier and enjoyable if you could turn to one of the other 10,000 or so people on the site at the same time as you and ask about what they were buying, get recommendations and swap good or bad experiences. (Philip Rosedale in BBC interview - 14th Dec 2007)

The Developing Institutional Context

Thus far it seems as though the media giants haven't invested in Linden Labs and Second Life yet however I'm sure Rupert Murdoch has a close eye on it especially its possible business applications. computer companies are definitely getting very interested and IBM once one of the largest companies in the world is linking up with Linden Labs to develop Avatars:

A virtual character, or avatar, for all the virtual worlds in which people play is the goal of a joint project between IBM and Linden Lab.

The computer giant and the creator of Second Life are working on universal avatars that can travel between worlds.(BBC Technology pages)

The project started by IBM and Linden Lab aims to create a universal character creation system so people only have to create a digital double once. (ibid)

Clearly there is an expectation on the part of IBM that virtual worlds are going to grow and this development could make it much easier to move through a great variety of these worlds. If this sounds strange to some readers now remember it only about 12 years since the web started up with a graphical user interface and things have moved exponentially since then!. 
If you don't believe me then take a look at the impressive line up for the forthcoming virtual worlds conference in 2008 and also take a look at the topics being covered.

The Future Media and Communications

Dentsu in Second Life

One of my AS students kindly added this link from the Financial Times Aug 2007. The advertising agancy Dentsu has spent an enormous amount of money with Second Life establishing a virtual Tokyo:

Virtual Tokyo gets a virtual Second Life Tokyo 

By Mariko Sanchanta in Tokyo, FT.com site
Published: Aug 22, 2007

Dentsu, which spent about Y10m ($870,000) to acquire the 85 hectares in Virtual Tokyo, is aiming to recoup its investment by lining up 30 or so blue-chip companies to build a virtual presence within the first year.

Mr Aihara said: "We're aiming to create a virtual Japanese Wall Street, where major Japanese financial institutions will have a presence.

"For example, users would be able to negotiate a virtual home mortgage with a bank to then buy a virtual flat. (My emphasis). 

Virtual Business Tools for Second Life 

Just as this site uses Google Analytics to monitor usage and to help develop pages and audience relationships so a range of business tools are being developed for Second Life. This image comes from Maya Realities who have develop a Second Life Analytics.

Maya Realities Analytics Screen

Equally important to where visitors spend time on your land is where they are located in real life. The above map helps determine what languages to offer your products and services or what cultures warrent focused resources.

Work in Progress on Virtual Tokyo 

The Japan Times of Oct 25th 2007 reprots the following:

A work in progress, Virtual Tokyo so far houses online representations of such entities as Keio University, the TBS television network, Mizuho Bank, as well as a takeoff ramp for ski jumping and a sports stadium.

Sceptical and Critical Views of Second Life

The Phoney Economics of Second Life

Summary

The more I research about virtual worlds the more convinced I am that they will be normal for a lot of people in advanced industrial societies in 10 -12 years time. The enormous potential for interactivity will make older media forms seem like the dinosaurs they are. As the number of these world's increases we are likely to see the smart media money from the Rupert Murdoch's of this world move into the arena once it becomes a little more established. In world advertising will probably drive these environments making the cost of entry very low in order to attract mass audiences. Obviously the broadband systems will need to be far better. The likely outcome if this scenario unfolds is for low grade TV channels to disappear. Who wants so called reality TV when you can have a much more intersting time online elswhere? I would rather put my pension fund into Linden Labs than ITV (The current 84.4p, up 1.4p on Thursday) that's for certain !

For my students I'm hopefully preparing them for what will become more important in media, communications and cultural studies departments at an undergraduate level when they get to university. Right now a lot of research that has been going on will come on stream and new courses will start to emerge just as these worlds are likely to take off.  

As can be seen above the prospect of a multiplicity of virtual worlds is upon us. Just like early colour TV sets there will be much that is a bit flakey in terms of quality. But it seems clear from this brief round up of things as they stand at the back end of 2007 that the future of virtual worlds is currently a rosy one. Despite some figures suggesting that Linden labs has lost some members in November it is sensible to take a medium term development view. Dentsu a big advertising (media company) is clearly a large early adopter and is making a clear developmental push to develop quite a sophisticated audience. It is likely that this trend will continue. As the dollar equals around 2 Linden and the Pound Sterling is around $2 there are clearly some entreprenuerial opportunities awaiting! I still wonder whether there will be avatars queuing out of the Second Life Banks on a Satureday morning though! Things seem to have moved on steadily from a year ago and the the pieces are gradually moving into place for a much larger adotption rate of residents to begin who will swamp the pioneers. Lets hope Linden have got enough servers!

Webliography and Online Resources 

Search Term on Google: Identity and Virtual World. This leads to a list of scholarly articles. The ones at the top of the list are the classic ones. You will need to go down a couple of pages to find more up to date material

B. Book. Moving Beyond the Game:Virtual Social Worlds

Stephen Webb : Avatar culture: Narrative, power and identity in virtual world environments (You will need to pay for this one or have subscription rights).

BBC money Programme: Virtual world Real Millions

Elizabeth Daniel is Professor of Information Management at the Open University Business School check her blog here.


December 16, 2007

Podcasting Equipment Update

Podcasting Equipment  Update


Introduction  


Below I'm giving some links to some basic podcasting equipment which will enable anybody with a computer and the internet to get going. Since I  last posted something on podcasting some months ago I've managed to get the budget for a couple of Marantz PDM 660 semi professional audio recorders. They are semi professional because they record to compact flash cards which have a higher spped of data transfer rate than SD cards. The other main feature is that they have phantom power and XLR microphone inputs which should allow you to use them with unpowered condenser microphones. I have to say I have been very unsuccessfu l with this using the Rode NT2 mic and their Broadcaster mic.

On this basis I would recommend using microphones with their own battery power source as a safer bet. I haven't had a chance to research these properly, however, Sony used to have a good mini-jack input one with battery power apparently used by the BBC. This would be very useful with the new Marantz digital recorders I have just ordered. Which I am providing links to below. I have also spotted some useful looking gaming headsets from Sennheiser which look just the job and the students might have fun using those and Audacity. 


The Marantz PMD 620 Stereo Recorder


Marantz PMD 620


According to one online retailer: The main features of the Marantz PMD 620 include (I suspect that nobody has invented a 2 terrabyte SD card yet but dream on):

  • Powerful and feature-laden Portable Audio Recorder that accepts up to 2 TB (my emphasis)SD Flash memory cards
  • Records WAV audio in 44.1/48KHz at 16 or 24 bit resolutions
  • Records direct to MP3 at three different quality levels
  • Includes 2 internal condenser mics, a 3.5mm (1/8 inch) external mic input, and a 3.5mm (1/8 inch) line input
  • First Marantz recorder to use SD flash memory with support for cards up to 2 TB
  • One-touch record engagement with red highlight illumination
  • OLED display for low power consumption
  • Powered by 2 AA batteries
  • Configurable screen with 2 font sizes
  • Do basic non-destructive copy and paste style editing directly on the device
  • Transfer audio to your PC via USB 2.0
  • "Skip back" feature lets transcribers review audio recorded from 1 to 60 seconds previously
  • Level and Peak LEDs
  • Display can be set to show time remaining, elapsed time, or other important numbers


Transom.org do a thorough review:


I have recently discovered this very useful site whilst trawling for reviews of the Marantz PMD 620.

This is the Transom Home page .

Marantz 620 in the hand


Here is an image from the Transom Marantz review.  As always there are pros and cons, nevertheless I have gone for some. This review does make some useful things clear about microphones which may apply to the PMD 660 mentioned in the introduction. This review is a very thorough one and you are urged to read it if you are in the market for a digital handheld recorder.


An excellent feature of this review is that there are downloadable tests with some external microphones. The Marantz according to this review has the lowest level of background hiss Transom have tested for in the small handheld recorder range.  


Getting One For Xmas?


Getting this Marantz for Xmas is a tempting prospect. The advantage of it being a recorder with a headphone output means that there is a playback facility as well. With 1 GB SD cards now being very cheap it would be easy to take a few loaded with music around with you in MP3 or even Wav format. This beats even the iPod! 


Tripod mounting

Something which might come in useful is the ability to mount it to a tripod which could be useful in certain circumstances as the Transom review points out :

The 620 ships with a cradle with two connectors on the back: a belt clip and a standard photo tripod socket that allows the recorder to be mounted in a stable position. It's plastic and flimsy-feeling, but effective, and allows access to all important controls.


Marantz PMD 620 on Tripod



Audacity


I see that it's time to upgrade my version of Audacity  the free audio editing open source software. This software is an excellent package to start editing with and will fit especially well to the educational environment where low budgets are the norm. Students can also get a hands on feel for editing which combined with a USB headset - which many gamers will have anyway - can get you on the road to making your own content. There are versions available for Linux and Mac as well. Audacity screenshot of envelope tool


Find Audacity here 



Headsets


The last time I looked at headsets was several months ago when I ordered myself the USB Beyer MMX1. Since then I have noticed some models from Sennheiser which look as though they are more flexible. They have the facility to be used as a USB and with their own built in soundcard can be used with any computer even those without a sound card. The other thing is that they have an adapter so can be used with line input soundcards. I haven't tested them yet but in an educational environment where one might be swapping rooms and have an institution full of machines with different specifications this could be a powerful advantage.  


Sennheiser pc155 USB Stereo Headset Mac User Review from 2004 giving it a 5* review. This  appears to still be available one outlet had it for £61-95.

Below is a Sennheiser P166 Headset. The USB connection can clearly be seen. This can be disconnected and the headset can be plugged into normal souncards. With upmarket soundcards there may be better quality sound. 

Sennheiser pc 166 Headset


Below you can see how neatly the cable is dealt with:


Sennheiser pc 166 close up of cable arrangement


Apparently these headphones can be found for £60 - £90 so look hard before you buy. Trusted reviews is positive at prices below £70 in terms of value for money. Techgage too was also generally positive recommending the use of a good soundcard for better quality. 


Behind the Neck Multimedia Headsets 


Some users may prefer to wear their phones / mic combination behind the neck rather thanover the head. In which case the Sennheiser pc 145 multimedia set is a possible choice. For Mac users there is a version specifically designed for Mac.


Sennheiser PC 145 Behind neck set


Rapid technological developments


It can quickly be seen that the market place for equipment to create user generated content is rapidly improving all the time. Thye euipment is also becoming easier to use and cheaper. This is helping to fuel the revolution which is turning the media world if not upside down then putting the media moguls on the back foot.


We certainly are living in the midst of a mass media revolution  in which the 'mass' part has changed from being relatively inactive consumers to active producers of content which can often challenge or very effectively complement the professional organisations. This is genuine competition for the media companies and they are being forced to adapt!


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BFI 75th Anniversary European Set

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Godard Story of Cinema

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Godard Bande a Part

Jean Luc Godard Collection Volume 1

British Film Institute

The BFI Glossary of Film Terms

http://www.screenonline.org.uk/education/glossary.html#new-wave
screenonline: Glossary of Film and Television Terms

BBC Film Network

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BBC – Film Network – Homepage

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UK Film Council

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The UK FILM COUNCIL

Malcolm McDowell Introduces British Free Cinema

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screenonline: Malcolm McDowell on Free Cinema

Paul Merton Introduces Early British Comedy

http://www.screenonline.org.uk/tours/merton/tourmerton1.html
screenonline: Paul Merton on Early British Comedy

Bill Douglas Centre

http://www.centres.ex.ac.uk/bill.douglas/menu.html
Welcome to the Bill Douglas Centre

Vertigo: British based journal about global independent cinema

http://www.vertigomagazine.co.uk/
Vertigo Magazine – for Worldwide Independent Film

Deutsche Film Portal

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The Berlin Film Museum

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Filmmuseum Berlin – Deutsche Kinemathek

Goethe Institute London Film Pages

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Goethe-Institut London – The Arts – Film

Expressionist film

German Expressionism

Wilhelm Murnau Stiftung

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Eureka Metropolis

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Italian Neorealism Rebuilding the Cinematic City

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Rocco and His Brothers

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Framework a Peer assessed Film and Media Journal

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Framework: The Journal of Cinema and Media

Kinoeye. No relation to this blog. Cinema journal mainly focused upon Central & Eastern Europe

http://www.kinoeye.org/index_04_05.php
Kinoeye | Polish cinema | Vol 4.05, 29 November 2004

Cineuropa: A joint initiative

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Talk About Films: the Independent and Foreign Films Discussion Group Go to 'Invalid Account'

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Audio content from The Economist magazine, including interviews with journalists and experts on world politics, business, finance, economics, science, technology, culture and the arts.

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Eureka Shoah

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Haunted Images: Film & Holocaust

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