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Archive for the 'bbc' Category

Cutting Room Experiment: the aftermath @ #smc_mcr

cuttingroom_smc

I managed to make my second appearance at #smc_mcr earlier this month.  In an exciting departure from the norm, the event was held at the BBC on Oxford Road and many thanks to all the organisers for making it happen and run so smoothly.  These meet-ups are always very open and welcoming; fashioned from a happy blend of creative wannabees, digital sages and the odd normal earthdweller snuffling up the crumbs.  (I am  a paid-up member of the first category).  This time we had some home-made cakes (awesome apparently), Teletext bingo and a subsidised bar.  Who could ask for more.

From the #smc_mcr wiki: “The Social Media Cafe is a place for ALL people interested in social media to gather, get acquainted, and to plot, scheme, and share.. emphasis on open and interesting conversation!”.

Given the Network’s copious skillsets, some great tweets and blog posts are always on offer if you are not able to get down on the night and you want to catch-up with the fun.  Check out Tim Difford’s extensive coverage on One Greener Day for more on this last meet-up.  I am going to concentrate on giving some feedback on the Cahoona and Ear to the Ground session which dealt with the groundbreaking “Cutting Room Experiment” which took place on 20th June in Ancoats.  To use their own words they were aiming to put on “the biggest user-generated event in the world” aiming to publicise the opening of a newly designed square in New East Manchester called The Cutting Room.

First off, I was a little torn on the night as I also fancied the Twitter talk (being a relative newbie into Twitterworld) and the fact that the session was delivered by an artist and writer (@thecharmquark) gave added interest.

In the end, I opted for the Cahoona fellas as I had heard a little of the experiment and wanted to find out how it all panned out.  Plus I’ve always found a good de-brief is often a worthwhile use of half an hour.

The session began with details of the Cutting Room Experiment’s inception and aims, then the plan of attack was mapped out, to hopefully ensure the experiment’s success.   It was clearly demonstrated that key online tools were utilised with creativity and skill, the resulting spread of publicity and visitors to the website, testament to the guys picking a winning strategy and social media playing a starring role.

However, things did seem to fall down a bit on the day of the experiment, 20th June 2009.  Though the target of 400 people attending was achieved (though the photo’s shown during the session didn’t illustrate that very well) the vibe was,  I think, that a larger audience was expected.

© TST 2004. http://www.space-hoppers.co.uk

© TST 2004. http://www.space-hoppers.co.uk

One can only conclude that different strategies are required to engineer different responses to any campaign.   The hardest deliver of all is real people.  Ones who wear out their own shoe leather, co-ordinate their day and put themselves out to attend an event.  The poor weather on the day may explain some of the problem ; sadly a common issue for outdoor promoters living in a rain shadow.  I guess that the harsh truth is that the user-generated ideas chosen were simply not a big enough pull.  Despite a fun-looking Spacehopper race and Manchester Science and Industry setting up Alka Seltzer rockets.

Sometimes, if enough buzz is created, then people will make an effort as they don’t want to miss out on an exclusive and potentially trendsetting event (moreso if something is free).   Maybe a band plays a secret hometown gig,  celebrated writer reads from a latest novel or respected thinker delivers a talk on an engaging subject.  The aim is to make those at the event feel they are lucky and are attending something with real pull.

I guess the Cutting Room Experiment showed that great publicity and user-generated ideas are not quite enough when the aim is to deliver a big audience on a wet Saturday in Ancoats.  Once the event date was drawing closer I wonder whether even more time and effort should have been concentrated on targetting the local population and reaching them using the more traditional routes?  Maybe the public still want a bit of old-fashioned entertainment once the avatar has been allowed the day off.  A bit of bribery might help too …. 50 free spacehoppers anyone?

Click through to Technical Fault’s blog where you will find a link to the whole #smc_mcr Cutting Room Experiment session, his own on-the-button thoughts, plus an excellent critique of the night.

LATE ADDITION.  Link to @MartinSFP ‘s freshly uploaded video of the Teletext Bingo session.

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Manchester peregrines return to the city, follow their progress live via webcam …

peregrine1

Sometimes it is hard to connect with nature when you are busy grinding away at the work coalface. However, the internet can prove a handy conduit to deliver a helping of nature live onto your desktop.

Using the BBC Manchester Big Screen website over the past few weeks I’ve been checking in with the Manchester peregrines who have their own webcam and nestbox perched high above the city.

It is a sign of the times, but if a high mountain cannot be found, then it seems a fairly tall building will act as a decent alternative for the peregrine falcon, one of our most noble birds of prey. 2009 is the third year this pair of peregrines have returned to Manchester to rear their family and once again it seems they are doing a grand job. Four chicks successfully hatched at the end of April and over the weeks I have watched them evolve from fluffy white balls to beautiful strong young hawks.

I had a minor panic on 20th May when the whole nest area was completely empty, but thankfully an explanation was posted up onto the BBC peregrine diary site explaining that the birds had simply gone on a walkabout! I think this illustrates the fact that the chicks are now itching to fly the nest and may fledge any day now. It has been really wonderful watching the progress of the chicks and heart-warming to see them being looked after so well by the adult birds, despite some very damp weather in the early days.

The young have been ringed by the RSPB, so hopefully we can see how far they roam to find their own partners and new territory. So, if you are out and about enjoying the sun in Manchester city centre this weekend, look up in the sky and tune your ears in for any unusual shrieks and whistles, as it could be the youngsters attempting their first airborn cruise. I believe the RSPB has a telescope set up outside the Triangle at weekends allowing a terrific view of the adult birds who are often found perched on the ‘A’ of the Arndale sign.

the chicks on walkabout ...

the chicks on walkabout ...

Other good live webcams I have found are;
a goshawk family in the New Forest (complete with live sound)

goshawks_newforest

and the Loch Garten Ospreys, an absolutely stunning location right ontop of a swaying tree!

ospreys_lochgarten

Both of these nests have chicks and should certainly help top up the battery til the next episode of Springwatch.

UPDATE. On the Manchester peregrine’s. The first chick fledged on Tuesday 2nd June and a second the day after, two are still on the nest today (Saturday 6th June) and it is pouring with rain so maybe they prefer to stay in the relative dry on their ledge?

• A favoured spot for the newly fledged two is posing on the Manchester Big Wheel … what show-offs! :-)•

• There are some fantastic photo’s of the Manchester birds and chicks on the BBC website taken by © Adrian Dancy.

UPDATE. June 2010. New blog post, why the webcam isn’t working and where the birds have nested in 2010.

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Manchester Artist heads off to “Th’Arctic” …

As ever Kate @ the Manchizzle shows she has the proverbial finger on the pulse of all things interesting and arty in the Manchester region.

th_arctic_image

Kate gave a mention to local artist Rebecca McKnight and her mission to explore the icy beauty of “Th’Arctic” (that’s Lancashire for The Arctic in case you were wondering).

A place so cold that the Ocean frequently freezes solid and only the hardiest of animals and plants survive. It is here the Polar Bear, Arctic Fox, Wolverine and Arctic Hare find their natural habitat.  For much of the year things are so unbearable that most living things hide away til the warmth of the short summer gives them a nudge to briefly explode into life. Though, if you are lucky, you may catch sight of the Aurora Borealis to take you mind off the biting wind!

jan_curtis_aurora

I got to know Rebecca last year as we both had work displaying at the Chorlton Arts Festival. This was May 2008 and she was already focused, excited and working hard on plans for the trip, so I have seen first-hand how dedicated she has had to be to make this project happen.

The logistics of pulling something like this together requires nearly as much determination and effort as surviving the Arctic elements. Sponsors and funding, website, journal, publicity, technical gear, experienced mentors, involvement of the community, travel plans, flights, visa’s, communications … not to mention a map and route! I’m sure that’s only the half of it.

She is hoping to become one of the first British people to ski up to 300 miles pulling a pulk (sledge) from Resolute Bay to Grise Fiord, the most northerly Inuit community in the Canadian Arctic. So, getting supremely fit prior to the attempt has been one side of the preparation, plus this trip is also a live art project which aims to “explore personal identity in relation to situation and environment.”

The use of the word ‘live’ was not a mistake. Check out Th’Arctic website, which has regular updates from the location, a live tracker map showing the groups progress and there is the ability to send the Team a text or email to keep them all on their toes and gain a real insight into the experience. There are no photo’s on the website just yet but as they have only just arrived at base camp I am sure some amazing work will surely follow.

The actual trek starts tomorrow (1st April) and the latest weather conditions sound tough (-60oC and blizzards). So best of luck Rebecca and everyone else, what a fantastic effort to bring such a dream trip to life.

You can follow things and send messages of support via:-
Th’Arctic website
Facebook page
artist’s talking a-n website
The Big Screen Manchester

plus there will be a live-link up with the team which is being co-ordinated with the guys at the Cornerhouse on Saturday 18 April.

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Patrick Blanc to be featured on a Gardeners World Special this week ….

gardenersworld

from the BBC website:

Last year Joe Swift described how back gardens are being sold for development, reducing the amount of green space that oxygenates our cities and soothes our troubled souls. But instead of beating his chest and saying how terrible this is, he heads off to discover how to grow gardens where land is scare. In France, he visits the Parisian botanist Patrick Blanc’s famous hanging gardens, which use an ingenious irrigation system to grow plants on vertical walls. In the UK, he meets one man who has cultivated a jungle on his balcony, and another who has a garden of succulents growing on the dashboard of his van. He also meets Nigel Dunnett from Sheffield University, who is an expert on green roofs – a way of turning the humble house roof into a demi-paradise; an industry that is booming.

This Special Gardeners World show will be broadcast this coming Friday, March 20th 2009 on BBC Two @ 8pm, definitely one not to miss!

For more information on Patrick Blanc and his amazing work with Vertical Gardens read my post from last year here.

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“Tokyo Story” a film by Yasujiro Ozu (Japan) 1953

This is a wonderful film I saw last weekend. I have listed below some random facts and opinions. I hope it intrigues and encourages some of you to see it and do let me know what you think.

  • Brief Plot : Two elderly parents from a small seaside town in southwest Japan pay a visit to their busy children in Tokyo – a journey that, before the introduction of the bullet train, took almost a day.
  • Released one year after the end of the Allied Occupation of Japan, showing the changes and transitions on the road to a modern Japan.
  • “This film is the Director’s masterpiece: tender, profoundly mysterious and desperately sad” (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian)
  • A classic of World Cinema (BBC)
  • Made post World War II, released in 1953 and shot in black and white.
  • One of the best 100 Films ever made (Time Magazine).
  • Sight and Sound magazine called “Tokyo Story” one of the three greatest films of all time”.
  • The Best Film Ever Made declared in 2005 by Halliwell’s Film Guide.
  • Simple yet universal theme of families and how they can drift apart.
  • 100% Japanese reflecting a very different culture and society values to the West.
  • Many filming techniques are quite alien to those familiar with mainstream movies.
  • Trademark Ozu style: slow and still, low camera angles, minimilist, static camera (as a mere observer), lack of action, uneventful plot, no upbeat ending, landscape or wide-shots are used to allow a “chill-out” and separate scenes, characters often filmed sideways allowing the viewer to feel in the middle of the conversation, scenes often filmed in profile and framed within a building.
  • The Director pioneered “ellipses” where major events are discussed but not shown within a film.
  • “Tokyo Story” was not released in the US until 1972.
  • Ozu made 54 films (26 in his first 5 yrs), which were very popular in Japan but under-appreciated in the West.
  • There is a lack of editing and scenes are often shot in one take.
  • Because of this lack of manipulation the viewer slowly becomes emotionally engaged with the characters and eventually by the end of the film the cumulative effect is that it hits home with power and honesty.
  • Ozu does not point fingers instead he creates more of a contemplative meditation on the transitory nature of life.
  • One of the most sympathetic characters Toriko (the daughter-in-law) is played by Sesuko Haro who features in many of the Director’s other films. The actress never gave interviews and refused to be photographed, she retired from making films at the height of her fame.
  • The viewer is drawn towards the characters through subtle gestures, observation of Japanes social manners and conversation, tiny details echo the bigger picture with wonderful camera framing and cinematography.
  • Sound plays an important part, the rhythm of journey pervades the entire film, from background steamboats to speeding trains. A ticking clock or the sounds of the city subtly compliment the major themes of the story.
  • One of the Director’s favourite films was Orson Welles “Citizen Kane”.
  • My favourite key message “the beauty of life is often found by standing still”
An amazing website detailing images and journals from Ozu’s huge back catalogue can be found here it seems to be part of the University of Toyko website.

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The Apprentice, no I don’t like any of them either but it’s fun to watch ….

 

 

Hands Up …. Yes, not everyone is prepared to come clean but I hereby admit I am hooked onto “The Apprentice”.  So sorry to let you all down :-(  

If anyone is suffering from a similar affliction and needs to share and undergo some communal therapy then check out the blog on the Guardian’s site.  Some of the comments are quite funny.  Here is a taster, detailing the remaining 6 candidates :-

“Clare: Rampant Rottweiler, 28, loves my tissues, seeks submissive male for world domination and quiet nights in listening to me gob off. Must like horses, cake, and giving it 150%.

Alex: Handsome well-groomed superman, 24, likes fit girls, boxing and shirking responsibility. Desperately seeking sexy soulmate, must have personality because mine’s gone AWOL.

Lucinda: Quirky fashion-loving blond, 31, likes scuba diving and playing the harp, WLTM naughty naughty naughty gent to push her beret boundaries. Must have GSOH and sunglasses.

Lee: Tall dark geezer, 30, does somefink in sales, loves bloke stuff and shouting, looking for well fit bird to tame my pterodactyl. Tha’s wot I’m talkin’ abaaaht.

Helene: Willowy brunette, 32, Global Pricing Leader, likes football and pulling the wings off butterflies. Doesn’t seek a man because she can break through the glass ceiling without one, thanks. Now fuck off.

Michael: Good Jewish boy, 24, WLTM kosher/halal soulmate who likes her men manipulative, whiny and incompetent, or father figure to provide guidance through the corridors of commerce. Happy to beg if necessary”

Yep, I know Michael has now gone the way of the dodo but I like his description so have kept it in.
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