Gear fatigue

I’ve always been fascinated with the newest and shiniest filmmaking equipment. Even back in the 90s, when I was taking Broadcast Production at NAIT, I avidly followed the “cheap” 16mm cameras that were just coming onto the market and servicing indie auteurs.

Time passes, technology advances, and now practically anyone can make a film. DSLRs don’t look like film, really, but they look close enough that they’ve become an acceptable alternative. Almost any computer can cut together video in a professional manner. I’ve even made a few short films myself.

But one thing that hasn’t changed in the 20-odd years I’ve been noodling about with film gear is the endless “if only” factor of the latest tech. You can get a DSLR, and make serviceable images, but if only you had a C300. Or an FS100. Or an Alexxa. Or the Holy Grail of film dilettantes everywhere, the RED camera. If only your computer was that much faster, that graphics card that much more powerful, your RAM maxed out to…well, you get the idea.

All well and good, and I wish nothing but luck with those who use these tools. But after all this time I’m starting to get tired of keeping up with it all. I’m starting to think it would make more sense not only to use what I’ve got…but also take a step back from the whole process.

I’ll still write scripts for short films, but given the incredibly thin odds of getting a feature made or financed, I’m starting to look at other forms of (fictional) writing. Like books, short stories, comic books and audio plays. None of these hold any more promise of success than film, but they do promise more tangible results.

And at the end of the day, success (or the lack thereof) can be just another way to avoid doing what needs doing. What needs doing is writing, creating, experimenting. Not fantasizing about the next best thing. If there’s one thing Radio Free Skaro has taught me, it’s that just plugging away at something for the love of the process means more, and yields more tangible results, than any shiny new toy ever could.

Video Free Skaro 006 – Zombies and Talk Shows

On this episode of Video Free Skaro, we profile “Mind My Brains, Darling!” a webseries made in the style of “Are You Being Served?” and other British comedies of the Seventies, but with zombies. We also debut “Tom Baker Tonight,” an exciting foray into late night variety programming by a tiny, maniacal Tom Baker action figure. All this and the latest news, reviews, and superfluous pictures of Jenna Louise Coleman!

Platformer the Show! Episode 5

In this episode of Platformer, Chelsea brings us all the latest news, and Warren reviews the Roku XS, which recently debuted in Canada. Warren also dives into the forgotten world of abandonware, where great old games are preserved for the ages.

Video Free Skaro 004

On this episode of Video Free Skaro, not only do we have an interview with noted Doctor Who and Y the Last Man artist Pia Guerra, not only do we have a profile of the Myrka, the most despised villain in all Whodom, but we also have action figures making out. Yep, you read that right.

The Platformer Show! 003

A new Platformer, and a new host! Chelsea Altice takes over from Warren to give us the news and generally make the show better. We also have an interview with Atimi software about their Vancouver Canucks app, which gives hockey fans constant updates, behind the scenes videos and access to interactions with fellow fans. And just so you have answers for your grandmother when she signs up for Instagram, we have a walkthrough of the basic features of the app. Enjoy!

Video Free Skaro 002

On this episode of Video Free Skaro, we cover the latest news in the world of Doctor Who, share some of our exclusive interview with Louise Jameson, also known as the savage Leela, and review Doctor Who: Worlds in Time, the MMORPG set in the Whoniverse.

Please share any comments or suggestions you have for future shows, and subscribe to our Youtube channel!

The Platformer Show! 002

Welcome to the second episode of the Platformer Show, all about the tech we use to work, play and create. In this episode we review the Kindle Touch and Swordigo, a new hack and slash game for the iPad and iPhone, as well as covering this week’s tech news.

We’d love to hear your suggestions for future shows, and make sure to subscribe to our Youtube channel.

Cord cutting or saying goodbye to cable

I’ve just come back from a four month sojourn in Japan and China, and a pleasant side effect of this trip was a break from North American media. I say that, but I had pretty much unbroken contact with any media I decided was worth watching, I simply didn’t access it through traditional means.

Japanese television, despite its charming commercials and genuine enthusiasm for the absurd, was nothing I could watch consistently. Instead I relied on downloads and streaming media, sometimes through a VPN connection. The VPN allowed me to access American sites like hulu.com along with the UK iPlayer app, all by telling these services that I’m actually in their country of origin.

In China this solution was less effective for streaming media, because China’s internet is slooooow. But since a VPN was an absolute necessity to access Facebook, Twitter, anything hosted by WordPress and practically anything else China’s Internet censors whimsically decided wasn’t harmonious, I didn’t feel cheated.

Now that I’m back home the VPN is the cornerstone in my plan to cut cable television out of my life. Since I can watch BBC shows live or on demand, and since I’ve just discovered a pile of great documentaries and indie films on Netflix.ca, I don’t really feel any need to watch the paltry offerings available through Canadian broadcasters.

In effect, this move to on demand media is no different than my shift away from radio a few years ago. The only radio I listen to anymore is courtesy of the CBC Radio app on my iPhone. Local radio is completely irrelevant to me, supplanted by podcasts about topics ranging from the Mac to the media to video games to philosophy.

I’m an outlier. But it’s only a matter of time before more people take the same step. More and more people are perfectly comfortable with watching films on their laptop and short videos on their phones. Being in Canada may actually accelerate this process for many people, because Canadians are online more than anyone else in the world, and because our old media dinosaurs are hell-bent on keeping the public from watching anything they actually want to see and would rather fight tooth and nail for their obsolete business models. Canadians are savvy enough to work around these arbitrary restrictions, and one way or the other I’m sure we’ll see a dramatic decrease in cable subscriptions in the next few years.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to save money and enjoy great content. I don’t think I’ll miss cable in the least, and I’m betting soon others will join me in cutting the cord.