TV Dinners

Pizza

Pizza

Earlier this year I experienced something that made me think about how we appreciate food. I tend to watch TV while eating meals, I have done for many years and on this particular evening I was watching The Worlds Most Dangerous Roads while eating a pizza, suddenly I realised that the pizza had pretty much disappeared. I didn’t remember eating it, by which I mean I didn’t remember what it was like.  I did, however, remember the TV programme.

I realised that because I’d been concentrating on the events on-screen my mind had simply allowed the eating to be done autonomously, as though it were simply food for survival rather than enjoyment.  I felt distinctly disappointed as it was a kind of food I like to taste and savour.  For some people the TV is more important than enjoying food but not me.

There are restaurants where you eat in the dark and when I first heard about the concept, about how it enables you to appreciate the food more and experience all the nuances of flavour fully without even the distraction of seeing the food I thought it was just a fad, until the lost pizza.

Perhaps this is why we enjoy food more in restaurants or outdoors, whether it be a bacon cob or a picnic, with fewer distractions.  TV is often a constant stream of events, taking your full attention as opposed to having it on in the background, or listening to music, or having a conversation with family or friends at the dinner table like we used to – all of which let you pay attention to everything in turn, including the food in front of you.

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The Speed of Feedback

Radio Daze

Radio Daze

Once upon a time if you wanted to complain about a tv show, or make a suggestion, enter a competition, or send in a drawing you’d done to Blue Peter, you’d send it “on the back of a postcard” or in a “stamped, addressed envelope” to the Beeb or whomever and after a couple of weeks you’d see or hear it on the telly.

Taking off my nostalgia hat and rose-tinted specs I return to today and find that as with so much media feedback or interaction is now lightning fast. Any live show on tv or radio will have email, text and a Twitter feed in front of the presenter so they can receive on the fly praise or abuse dependant on the subject and opinion of the viewer. Sports reporters carry tablets to field questions and comments.

The internet as a communication medium is making media more interactive than ever and allows faster access to those in front of the cameras – particularly useful when it is, for example, politicians being grilled in real-time; no more need to queue up for a place on a Question Time audience.

Of course it’s just as well that not every tweet appears on-screen, or on the speaker – as the Rev Richard Coles said on QI of his twitter feed for Saturday Live on Radio 4 he often received some less than complimentary comments, which I imagine could get distracting and even depressing while trying to present a programme.

The other aspect of course is public voting, though not a new idea (it was phone voting in the old days of course) it seems that everything has to have some public choice built-in rather than the decision as to who’s the best cook, candidate or singer being left to experts. One of the latest examples is that Formula E motor sport features the potentially race-changing Fan Boost, powered by online votes, by popularity, hmm. The problem is when the choice is made with the heart rather than an expert head. But at the end of the day it’s all just entertainment.

As we move towards increasingly connected, two-way tv, I can imagine that these features will become integrated into the remotes, new buttons to like or dislike and as for voting people off shows like Strictly Come Dancing, I’m a Celebrity or Big Brother then the Red Button could have a use metaphorically more like it’s Cold War namesake…

A Digital Future for Film

Canon EOS C300

Canon EOS C300 (Photo credit: kenjonbro)

When I was younger it seemed like an eternity between a film being on at the pictures and it being on telly.  Which was because it typically was an eternity.  By the time a video of it came out it was almost forgotten which was perhaps the idea, to be absolutely sure that every last drop of cinema cash had been wrung out of the celluloid and it was ready for people to relive in their own homes and pay for over again.

Today though the Amazon pre-orders for the blu-ray of a summer blockbuster are up before the first pair of 3D glasses are slipped on at the local multiplex.  Still though it would surely be madness to release a film in cinemas if it were, for example, shown on Film4 at the same time?

Maybe not.  A Field in England, a film by Ben Wheatley was released on 5th July across formats – on disc, on-demand, on TV and on the big screen.  The black-and-white film, shot on Red Epic and Canon C300 cameras tells the story of three deserters from the English Civil War who are forced to help an alchemist search for mushrooms in the aforementioned field – which is its sole location.

It is both the production and distribution that are important though.  The digital technology to film and distribute the movie are likely to reinvigorate the industry as lower-budget films become increasingly viable.  The widespread outlets enabled Wheatley to reach the greatest audience possible and he believes that it wouldn’t reduce the cinema audience for example – there will always be people who prefer to see a flick on the big screen and others who will always wait for the DVD or TV so why not give everybody what they want from the start.  The film received funding from the BFI which supports experimental release models and the distribution was in collaboration with Film4 and Picturehouse Entertainment.

So it seems that despite the fears of some in the entertainment business 21st century filming and distribution technology looks like creating a renaissance in film rather than signing its death warrant.

Step Away From The Computer

old hairdresser sleeping at work

old hairdresser sleeping at work (Photo credit: epSos.de)

No, not yet, read this first.

The reason I’m telling you this is that it’s good advice if you want a good night’s sleep.

I have read many times on Lifehacker that staring at devices that emit blue light before going to bed can disrupt your sleep patterns but had never tried it.  I have, however, been complaining for years that I often felt tired during the day no matter how much sleep I got.  Of course this can be a symptom of many other physical and psychological problems but having remembered the advice to switch off the computer, tablet, TV and so on and do something else like reading or listening to music I thought I’d give it a go.

The problem is that these bright light emitting devices cause the brain to stay alert and it is worse with computers which are typically close to your face, how close depends on what you’re looking at.

So far for me the results are encouraging and I feel significantly better.  If however you try this but don’t see any benefit and continue to suffer excessive tiredness then consult your doctor.

Night all, sleep well.

(Lifehacker)