Posts Tagged With: youtube

Remastered: A Town Called Mercy, Silent Movie Style

There are different types of YouTube comments. Some heap undeserved praise to the point of sycophancy. People will tell you that a mediocre product is the best thing they’ve ever seen on the internet; it is crucial above all else to ensure that you do not start to believe your own hype, because therein lies artistic complacency and the excessive inflation of ego. At the other end of the scale are the downright abusive. I used to be polite; these days I’m inclined to argue back, albeit without letting them see that they’ve got to me. I’m not suggesting you should ever feed the troll, but sometimes you can poke it with a stick.

Somewhere in the middle there is a sweet spot; a small compartment of users who offer something that actually might be considered constructive feedback – the people who say “I liked this, but have you tried…?”. For instance, there was the chap who told me my Kraftwerk montage was a little too long. He was quite right, and were I to redo it now I’d go for a shorter edit. There were the numerous people who pointed out the mistakes in the Red Dwarf mashup – a hard lesson learned about when less is more – to the extent that I gave it a substantial overhaul in the tail end of last year and made something I actually almost liked.

Then there’s the silent movie I did three and a half years ago. Generally people seemed to like it, but a comment I got a few months back got me thinking. “Speed it up just a little more and put it slightly out of focus,” said a user named cemeterymaiden1. “It will look authentic I think! :D”

And that’s great. I can work with that. It did need to be faster, and it did need a little blurring round the edges. That’s the sort of comment I love receiving, because it is constructive without being disrespectful. It makes a welcome change from this –

I’ve decided, after careful reflection, that most Doctor Who fans are fucking idiots.


In any event: when I decided to retouch a few old projects that never quite lived up to their potential, this one seemed like a prime candidate. Most of the changes are cosmetic – loose frames tucked, timings adjusted. Then I ran it through a gaussian blur and tinted it with sepia, rather than the black and white I originally used. I’m still not sure how authentic this makes it as a result – my knowledge of silent movie production techniques isn’t as comprehensive as it ought to be – but it’s a Western, dammit. It looks cooler.

“Don’t you think,” said Gareth when I posted the original, back before ‘Day of the Doctor’, “that the joke about the Eccleston cameo is going to date rather quickly?” He was right, of course – it’s not something that bothered me at the time, given that all it did was time stamp the original, but the remaster replaces it with a gag that’ll never go out of style, even if the BBC eventually follow through on it.

The original is still up there, if you want to take a peek. But I’m happier with this one. Some things don’t need changing. But sometimes you reap the benefits when you do. Happy trails, y’all.

Categories: Videos | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Walk the Dinopaw

At some point, I’ll write about the second half of our London trip, the as-yet unidentified companion, and a bunch of other stuff I’ve been thinking about. Funny how having no series of Doctor Who to look forward to keeps you busy.

In the meantime: this is one of the tightest (and most unified) things I’ve ever done. It was semi-commissioned by Alan Gilbey, who sort of asked for it after he saw the ‘Uptown Funk’ video. And it’s not as if we need an excuse to listen to ‘Walk The Dinosaur’.

Anyway, it gives you a good idea of what Gwen, Bob and Tony get up to when they’re not prepping for Towel Day. Enjoy your Sunday, won’t you?


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Uptown Funk: The CBeebies Edition

Do. Do-DO-Do, Do-DO-Do, Do-Do. You’re humming it now, aren’t you? Oh, it’s catchy. It’s one of the most cynically manipulative records since ‘The Living Years’, a cocktail of old sounds under a modern groove, several records ripped off (amateurs borrow, experts steal) in order to make a song that teenagers play loudly through their phones in those evening alcopop sessions in the park, even as their parents dance badly to it at the office disco. It is masterfully produced, expertly performed and I love it. Say what you like about the state of contemporary music; Mark Ronson’s a genius.

I first encountered ‘Uptown Funk’ at Butlins, in February last year, where it featured in the finale of Diversity‘s street dance act. They were tight, they were effortlessly entertaining and I was humming that song for weeks. Winter turned into spring and someone did a lipdub featuring hundreds of classic movies. Then someone else did a montage using dance sequences. Then someone else did the same thing with the Golden Age of Hollywood. I have not linked to any of these because chances are you’ve seen them, and because my own meagre offering – proud of it as I am – does tend to pale into insignificance. But that’s OK. “Always,” said Max Ehrmann, “there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”

Here’s a reflection on parenting. When you’re faced with the prospect of bad behaviour, you can sometimes circumvent it by simply upstaging it. One evening in August I had to entertain four tired, slightly fractious children – and a very well-behaved dog – in the van in a Lidl car park while Emily shopped. I did this by turning up the radio, and singing along to ‘Uptown Funk’ at the top of my voice, accompanied by with the sort of extravagant, flamboyant Dad dancing that would make Carlton Banks raise an eyebrow. In doing so I attracted the attention of several passers-by, as well as the cashiers in Lidl, who stared in bemusement while Emily pretended she didn’t know who I was.

When we were done, Thomas said “Dad, that was really embarrassing.”

I said “You think that was embarrassing? You just wait and see what I’ve got planned for your teenage years.”


Fast forward to October, and the video you saw at the beginning. I won’t go into the details, except to say that I restricted myself to HD clips only, which is why certain programmes aren’t featured (I’d have loved to have included Big Cook, Little Cook, but the surviving footage on YouTube really is rather grainy). In a way, that sort of self-imposed limitation made things easier, because otherwise you find yourself floundering under the weight of serious choice fatigue. There are so many CBeebies programmes (past and present) in which dancing features. Several shows are featured more than once, partly because they fit but partly because I was exhausted and just wanted to finish the thing. This was as painstakingly down-to-the-frame as anything I’ve ever done, and hopefully it shows, at least in the decent parts.

The first person I showed it to was Alan Gilbey. “It’s good,” he said, “but it needs more Dinopaws!”. Which gave me another idea, but that’s still in the works, so you can’t see it yet. In the meantime, this went on YouTube and round the houses (I’ve been informed, anecdotally, that several people who are in it saw it and liked it) and there it now sits, drawing in a steady stream of visitors. Certainly the hit count – 105,000 as we go to press – is gratifying, and as close to ‘viral’ as I am ever likely to get.

Just in case you’re interested, here’s a list of all the shows featured, in order of first appearance:

Show Me Show Me
Let’s Play
The Elves and the Shoemaker
Number Raps
The Lingo Show
The Tweenies
Dinosaur Raps
CBeebies Pantos: Strictly Cinderella
Something Special: We’re All Friends
My Story
The Three Little Pigs
Tilly and Friends
Charlie and Lola
Furchester Hotel
Peter Rabbit
Tree Fu Tom
Make Way For Noddy
Justin’s House
Sarah and Duck
Mr Bloom: Get Set Grow
Small Potatoes
Grandpa in my Pocket
Wussywat the Clumsy Cat
Let’s Celebrate
Baby Jake
Hey Duggee
Lunchtime Song
Same Smile
Mister Maker Round The World
Old Jack’s Boat
Katie Morag
Carrie and David’s Pop Shop
Swashbuckle does ‘Happy’
CBeebies Prom
In The Night Garden
The Let’s Go Club

Would I do it differently now? Probably. There are vague synchronicity issues I’d like to fix, mostly near the beginning (I swear the original is correct; I think it happened during the YouTube encoding). On the other hand it mostly works. A couple of scenes still make me wince. But I am pleased, in particular, with the way it unfolds in the last minute. Don’t believe me? Just watch.

(Yeah, you knew that was coming.)

Categories: Videos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Daleks: Lost in Translation

Watch this, and then cast your minds back a few weeks, to ‘The Witch’s Familiar’.

You remember that one, right? It sort of got forgotten, really, in the general melee of confusion that was series nine. There were Zygons and immortals and people hiding beneath bedsheets and eventually there were TIME LORDS, but before all that, we had Daleks. Specifically we had Clara Oswald hiding inside a Dalek in order to sneak into the Skaro citadel to find the Doctor.

Those of you who recall the scene in which she’s strapped in will remember the conversation she tries to have with Missy. “Say ‘I love you'”, says Missy, to which Clara replies “EXTERMINATE!”. Cue comedy scene with Michelle Gomez leading up to a chilling finale in which she eventually convinces the Doctor – after something of a narrow squeak – that she’s Clara, and not a disgusting mutant.

“Well,” says Gareth, “to be fair, no Dalek has ever said anything other than ‘exterminate’ and similar simple phrases. No conversations or speeches or anything. Honest. It’s a bit poor. And doesn’t really make sense – so when the Daleks want to exterminate you, and are threatening to exterminate you, and are preparing to exterminate you, they’re actually saying ‘do stay still, there’s a good chap’, and it just sounds like they’re saying ‘exterminate’?”

That’s entirely possible, of course, although it’s more likely that the Daleks would have been conditioned to say ‘Exterminate’ and that this is something that had been built into the travel unit in case it ever happens to be occupied by a non-Dalek, which makes about as much sense as there actually being room in there for Clara in the first place, but I think we can all agree that ‘The Witch’s Familiar’ stopped making sense the moment the vampire monkeys turned up, so I think we can let it go.


(Sorry. I’ve given you an earworm now, haven’t I? Both of you.)

Anyway. It was a silly scene but it did give me an idea: an idea that took me an hour to shape into something tangible. This was an easy one to do, as it was simply a case of finding appropriate Dalek-led exchanges and giving them appropriate subtitles. You could probably do this quite effectively with New Who as well, but given that I wanted to include a particular exchange in which a Dalek’s vision is impaired, I stuck exclusively to the 1970s and 80s. Stories used for this, in order of first appearance:

Planet of the Daleks
Destiny of the Daleks
Resurrection of the Daleks

The Doctor appears a couple of times, but this isn’t really about him at all, of course. And please don’t tell him about these problems the Daleks are having with their language filters. It’ll crush him.

By the way, if you’re not up on early 90s UK children’s TV, the blinded Dalek’s wails that he “cannae see!” are probably going to confuse you. In which case this suitably iconic TV moment might provide a little insight. For the rest of us, this is simple nostalgia.

Gosh, they look so young…

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A while back, there was a circulated post doing the rounds containing a bunch of ‘honest’ logos and slogans. Here are four of my favourites.


It’s that last one that always gets the biggest laugh. YouTube is ten years old this week, and while we may talk about the way it’s redefined the music industry, the film / TV business and the way we use the internet in general, it’s the cats that stand out. The very first video uploaded was a guy standing in front of elephants at the zoo, revealing nothing even remotely interesting. That wasn’t the point, but I do wonder if people watched that first video – uploaded merely to show that you could, rather than because it had something significant or amusng to say – and thought that this was the intended ethos.

It would certainly explain a lot of what follows. I like to think of YouTube as a colossal ocean, where the whales take the form of cats, pandas, Psy videos and Minecraft tutorials. Underneath you have the sharks – film trailers, celebrity vloggers and X-Factor clips (and, somewhere, Katie Hopkins). By and large, Doctor Who videos are the tropical fish that populat coral reefs – there in abundance, but when you’ve seen one clownfish you’ve seen them all.

If the videos themselves are the fish (and the rights departments are those colossal trawlers that plough through the waters, lapping up fish left right and centre) then the video comments are presumably one gargantuan oil slick. There are occasional moments of brilliance, but most popular YouTube videos are saturated by spam, illiterate stupidity and right wing bile. The ability to type in ‘funny cat videoz’ requires minimal intellect, which is presumably why all the stupid people hang out here. The worst thing you can do is respond to it, but people do, either out of boredom or because they’re not aware that you should never feed the troll.

Amidst the sharks and turtles and catfish there are the minnows. You know – the ones that never get beyond a thousand hits. They’ll show up in the searches eventually, if you’re prepared to trawl through the thousands of near-identical bigger fish that are easier to spot. But generally they just swim around their own patch of the ocean, not really being seen by anyone. Sometimes they’ll pick the company of bigger fish, largely in the hopes of being noticed along with them, which is fine if you don’t get eaten alive.

Most of my videos are minnows. I’m OK with that. I don’t think I’m ever going to make the impact on the blogosphere that I’d like to, and in many ways that’s a good thing. Notoriety can be a poisoned chalice. I’ve learned over the years that the act of creativity – of putting something back, and being a contributor rather than a consumer – is enough of a reason to keep going, even if I’d be lying if I said the remote prospect of fame didn’t matter at all. Each time I hit the upload button I live in hope that whatever it is I’ve spent hours putting together will go viral. Nothing has, as yet, although I’ve had a few that have performed reasonably well, in chicken feed terms.

I started this purely as a hobby – a chance remark that Emily made at the beginning of 2011 that gave me an idea, that led to more ideas, and so on. There are millions of people like me all over the world – and for most of us, mashing is the closest we’ll ever get to doing anything tangible within the film industry. For most of us, this is enough.

Today, to celebrate ten years of YouTube, I’m re-posting five of the Who-related videos I made that I’ve always wished had done better. Someday they might. But if they don’t, that’s fine too.

The Whole of the Moon


A Town Called Mercy – The Silent Movie


Dalek Johnny (Doctor Who / Fast Show)


Everybody Hurts: The Gridlock Edition

Doctor Who Meets the Goodies

Categories: Crossovers, Videos | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Somewhere in the crowd there’s YouTube

“You vajayjay. Who does that?”

The words stared at me from the desktop monitor. They were real, tangible, irreversible. The cat out of the bag. I’d been flamed before, of course, and it wouldn’t be the last time. But this came out of nowhere and had no real explanation. No real context was given for the source of the sender’s contempt, beyond the link he’d referred to, and even then no explanation was given.

There’s something rather disconcerting about receiving a negative comment like this for the first time you try out a new hobby. Let me give some context of my own. It was early 2011 and I’d just uploaded a video – my first public upload, in fact. The mashup was crude and technically juddery, but reasonably coherent in what it was trying to do – and, if I say so myself, even reasonably funny in places. It had taken me hours. And the first public reaction I got was one of complete contempt. I wouldn’t mind so much but I didn’t even understand it fully, although I got the gist. I’m so out of touch I even had to look up the word ‘vajayjay’ in the urban dictionary.

Welcome to YouTube, folks. I cried because I had no shoes. Then I looked at a YouTube comments thread and it completely destroyed my faith in humanity. There’s no point discussing it in detail. If you’ve ever looked at anything that’s reasonably popular you’ll see that the occasional nuggets of goodness in the post-video ramblings are eclipsed by spambots, viral messages about angels and good luck, irrelevant political discourse and flat out racist / sexist / homophobic abuse. I don’t think I need to give you examples. The Guardian got there first. One Direction videos are the funniest, of course, its fans and haters alike descending in spirals of ever-increasing profanity and vitriol, to the extent that Dead Parrot produced a rather amusing reconstruction using professional actors. Stop reading this for a moment and go and watch it. It’s brilliant.

Where were we? Oh yes; John Hurt. Now, my videos rarely amass enough views to achieve anything that might be even close to viral. I’m like the microscopic edge of viral. In a way, that’s OK. I fight and fight for YouTube traffic through clever tagging and appropriate tweeting and uploading at just the right moment, but there’s a part of me that knows that any sort of fame I achieve, however slight and however fleeting, is only going to be a millstone. Having a blog that no one reads and a channel that few people (in the grand scheme of things) actually look at means that the pressure’s off. I don’t have to worry about outdoing myself. I don’t have to give my audience What They Want. I can produce the videos I want to produce and everyone’s happy – everyone except me, of course, when I’m crying into my pillow at night because I can barely amass a hundred hits on a montage that took me a week and which I’m immensely proud of while some guy in Florida films his cat PISSING ON A WATER VOLE and it’s got almost as many views as Rebecca Black, and none of the death threats.

Blogging is always about the validation, whatever anyone says, and my YouTube channel is no different. It’s nice when people respond. And it hasn’t been all bad, not by a long stretch. I was overwhelmed, for example, with the sudden (and very positive) response to Dalek Zippy, which suddenly took off when Roy Skelton died not long after it went online. People loved it. I had suggestions for alternatives or constructive improvements, all nicely phrased and decently convivial. It even made Doctor Who Magazine a few months later. The same thing happened with the Red Dwarf mashup, which got to the Daily Mirror. It’s no Double Rainbow, but you take what you can get.

Still. I have a theory about YouTube users, and why so many of them are the scum of the earth. You have to have a certain amount of coherence to be able to respond to a newspaper article, no matter how ill-conceived your arguments or how despicable your views. Conversely, it takes very little effort to type in ‘FUNNY CAT VIDEOZ’ on your smartphone interface and then leave a negative comment. The best part is there’s no accountability. No one’s going to come back to you about it. No one will knock on your door and beat the crap out of you, the fate of the internet trolls at the end of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. (And answering honestly, is there a single person amongst us who hasn’t wanted to do this at least a little bit to someone we once encountered online?)

But if YouTube is like a big wall that’s ripe for anonymous graffiti, I sometimes want to find out the thinking (or lack thereof) behind what people are writing. I question the logic, for example, of anyone who says “I want my thirty seconds back”, because chances are it took them at least a third as long again to write down that they wanted their thirty seconds back – time which, if time were as important to them as they maintain, could have been spent devising a potential cure for cancer or the world hunger problem. Just because you can say a thing, it doesn’t always follow that you should.

There’s no real point engaging with the stupid or moronic, but not everyone who leaves negative feedback on the internet is stupid or moronic. Some of them just don’t understand. Some of them miss the point. I’m probably tempting fate by even engaging with anyone who seriously thinks that an obvious clip collection could be called ‘fake’ when the item description (and the other comments – why oh why don’t people read the other comments) makes this abundantly obvious. That’s like complaining when you find out that Spinal Tap aren’t a real band. You can click a mouse. Don’t expect us to think for you as well.

But still. Some of those comments have stuck in my memory. Some I’ve responded to; some I ignored. All are the exemption, rather than the rule. Perhaps that’s why they stick in the craw. But occasionally I’ll bite back. It may be about re-education or pointing them in a different direction. It may be about explaining something that I later realised was ambiguous when I originally posted. Or it may simply about being right. In any case, here are a few choice nuggets.


The Doctor’s Facebook Film

“No Rose? No Martha? No Donna? No Amy and Rory? No Clara? No Sarah Jane? No River?” (Various people)


Response (not sent): No, because I had a minute or so to summarise fifty years of television, which meant that some people were for the chop. In terms of episodes, New Who is a drop in the ocean. Sorry if your favourite characters are missing, but to be honest I don’t really give a shit. So are some of mine. And I think we’d all rather forget about Martha, wouldn’t we?


The Paranoid Android Invasion

“Some people have too much time on their hands.” (Facebook comment)


Response (not sent): I get really cross when people tell me I have too much free time. I don’t watch much TV. I don’t play sports. I don’t go out drinking or clubbing. The time I spend in front of a computer screen doing this is the same ‘free time’ that people spend crocheting, or painting, or slumped in front of Call of Duty, none of which I do. Free time is relative.



The Numberjacks Vs. The Prisoner

“not verry good\cool” (faisal habib, YouTube)


Response (sent)Learn to spell, kid.”



Darth Gene (trailer)

“Gay.” (hardskull999)


Response (via email):


I mean, I congratulate you on your astounding dexterity and skill with words. That must have taken you all of, what, two seconds? As opposed to the video you describe as gay, which took me several weeks, on and off. What have you done today that’s constructive?

We should clear something up. Did you mean ‘gay’ in the homosexual sense? That’s one particular reading of the Star Wars trilogy – the imagery of Luke Skywalker flying down the trench and shooting his load into a small hole is not lost on some people (google Charlie Brooker Star Wars, for example), nor is the homoerotic love triangle between Luke, Leia and Han Solo (who quite clearly has a thing for Luke). And there’s an awful lot of homoeroticism in the portrayal of the unreconstructed Gene Hunt from Life on Mars, whose voice I used. So that’s a fair point.

Or perhaps – this has just occurred to me – you meant ‘gay’ in the happy, hearts-and-flowers sense, which is much better. I did intend for this particular video to be upbeat and amusing, so perhaps I’ve succeeded. If that’s the case, may I apologise profusely for my somewhat bristly opening paragraph. I hope you can forgive my negative assumptions; it’s just I’ve dealt with so many trolls, haters and idiots over the years that – like driving – it’s always best to assume the worst: that way no one gets hurt.

What’s most likely, of course, is that you meant ‘gay’ in the derogatory, generally insulting sense. In which case you’ve added nothing of any value to the internet this week, and have simply come across as an ineloquent twat. Congratulations.”


Two days later:

“gay as in happy its funny”


(I win that one.)



The Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Doctors hold a video conference


“Fake so fake saw all of those episodes”         (WhenLifeGivesYouLemons, YouTube)


Response (sent): Of course it’s bloody fake. What the fuck did you expect?!?

Categories: Videos | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Presenting: The smallerpictures Channel Ad

I was doing a little admin on my YouTube channel and it suggested that I make a Channel Ad. This, for the uninitiated, is a homemade trailer, ideally no more than a minute in length, which tells visitors about what you do.

What I came up with only tells half the story, of course – it ignores the montages that I occasionally put together when I’m being serious – but as a summation of the re-dubbing that forms the core of my work, I think it’s reasonably successful. You could look at it on the channel page directly using the link above, if you like, but for the casual reader I embed it here.

It’s been three years since I started doing this, and I’ve loved every minute. Here’s to the next!

Categories: Videos | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Facebook of Boe

Right. Shameless plug day.


I’ve written at length about the various videos I’ve produced. The routine goes like this: I’ll upload something to YouTube, and then (unless it’s Dalek Zippy, which did quite well) it’ll sit there, fighting for traffic. Then I’ll plug it on Facebook and no one will bother watching it. At some point, when I feel the need, I’ll mention it in here, expanding on the creative process as I feel appropriate, mostly for the sake of having it written down somewhere.

The Facebook thing is probably what bothers me the most, because it’s the moment when you realise that most people are far less interested in what you do than you are yourself. I’ve spent years trying to restrict Facebook updates to solely when I have something interesting or amusing or at least creative to share. I manage an average of one or two posts per day on this basis, but I’ve never been one for the “still lying in bed eating toast” mundanities. It just doesn’t work for me. That’s one reason I don’t tweet. Never mind the fact that Emily gets a guaranteed twenty plus likes for anything she says (posting, as it stands, even more sparingly than I do, so there may be something in that); it can be a bit disheartening when you spend ages doctoring a photo and then upload it to find that many of your so-called friends simply couldn’t care less. If you mention food, on the other hand, in any capacity, then everyone is immediately interested.

I know it’s shallow to live your life according to the ‘like’ button. I really do. But who doesn’t want exposure? How many of us would genuinely curl up with embarrassment if we were freshly pressed, rather than jumping for joy? How many of you are, like me, logging on to your dashboard each morning to check the overnight stats? Maybe you have to actually be really established with thousands of followers before this stuff no longer matters. I live in hope of someone important stumbling across this blog and suggesting that I write a book and offering a decent commission. I know it doesn’t work like that – for every isolated success story there are a hundred thousand others where years of hard graft and self-publicising got the authors concerned precisely nowhere, but you still find yourself wanting the fairytale ending.

I try not to tailor my writing for an audience these days if I can help it. If you do that you lose who you are. But I have set up a Facebook page for the video editing. Initially it was just going to be a way of having everything together in one place, but it then occurred to me that there are people like me all over the internet – people shouting to be heard above a maelstrom of burping children and homophobic rants and cats falling off workbenches.

Not that I’d want to suggest that any of my work is Oscar-winning, or even particularly good. I just wish more people would watch it. And it would be nice to chat to others as well. I set up a page with the intention of attracting like-minded souls, and at time of writing it has precisely one ‘like’, which is as I expected. So I am – for probably the first and only time – going to mention it here. Facebook is awash with random pages that no one looks at, but if I can just get ooh…ten people together that’ll be a good start. That may even be enough. So if you’re interested, or if you know anyone who is, come and join us. You can even help me redecorate.

(If you needed any more incentive, guys, then how about this – if you visit this page, you will basically find out my real name. It’s not in black and white, but you can figure it out…)

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Yo-Who Ahoy

All right. Question one: who in the hell is watching this?

Let me give you a little deconstruction of my Youtube viewing figures. About six weeks ago I uploaded a Flight of the Navigator / Portal 2 mashup which took an entire summer and of which I am really quite proud. It’s got about eighty hits since I stuck it online – some for the full length edit, some for the four minute highlights. This isn’t very much at all, and while I know you can hardly breathe for new uploads on YouTube, it frustrates me that I apparently can’t increase its exposure without spamming people and generally being a pest, neither of which I will do unless my life happens to depend on it.

Perhaps more damningly, back in April I produced a mashup of Willo the Wisp and The Silence. It’s got about three hundred and fifty hits. That’s about fifty a month. And about two hundred of those were in a single day when I referred to it in a Guardian discussion. (I was also rather depressed at the number of people who hit the dislike button, because I really thought I’d made something fun, until Emily pointed out that referring to a video that mocked the Silence in an article that basically revered them was hardly going to win me any fans.)

But this one? Put together in one evening more or less as a joke? Over nine hundred hits in a month. Yes, it’s no Double Rainbow. It’s not even chicken feed. It’s barely even amoeba feed. Still, by my standards it’s practically viral – or as close to viral as I ever get unless someone dies. The same happened with the Numberjacks / Prisoner thing, which as I write this is at 142,000 and rising. The YouTube traffic sources indicate that it’s predominantly people searching for Numberjacks episodes online, presumably to watch with your children, but this doesn’t explain why you’d then want to watch a video that openly sells itself as a mashup. My friend Laura is convinced that it’s probably drunk students at three in the morning, and she’s probably right.

Anyway. This one was basically made for Gareth. We’ve all been fans of Yoho Ahoy! for years, long before Em and I had children, in my case purely because of its offbeat quirkiness. In the same manner as Shaun the Sheep, it’s one of those shows that seems to transcend cultures and communication barriers, largely owing to the fact that there are only two words of dialogue (the titular ‘Yoho!’ and ‘Ahoy!’), delivered in any number of ways by the inhabitants of the Rubber Duck. It’s always clear what’s going on, each episode is brief but eventful, and everyone has their favourite characters (I think mine is probably Bilge, the crazy-haired captain, but honourable mentions must go to Grog, the ship’s cybernetically enhanced cook, who features heavily in this episode and who apparently lost his hands in a fondue accident before the series began).

Then, of course, there was the day I went shopping and found this.

They’re cute and cuddly and THEY MAKE NOISES! Em and I have been trying very hard to cull our soft toy collection rather than buying new ones, but I made an exception here.

There are nearly forty episodes of Yoho Ahoy!, and ‘Fish With Grog’ is the episode that we usually show to people who never seen the show – Gareth informs me that he does the same – and as it’s a popular one with Thomas (who will happily watch it on a loop), it seemed right to honour it here. The idea of redubbing all the dialogue with cries of ‘Exterminate!’ and ‘Delete!’ stems partly from the fact that if you ask a casual fan of the show to impersonate a Dalek or a Cyberman, that’s probably what they’ll do – but really, you need to look at this.

You see what I mean, right? I know the Daleks have a history with cries of ‘Exterminate!’, but if you examine the classic series the Cybermen really don’t say ‘Delete’ very much at all pre-2006. Never mind the fact that in ‘Doomsday’ the so-called seminal scene in which the Daleks and Cybermen try and talk to each other is about as interesting as watching a computer play Scrabble with itself: the whole episode is basically a fanboy’s wet dream, and not a very good one at that.

Anyway. The biggest challenge I had with this was finding instances of ‘Delete’ that weren’t surrounded by other stuff. There are plenty of ‘Exterminates’. (Not to mention the fact that someone had helpfully put every single one of them into a YouTube compilation that I used for reference.) But finding an audible ‘Delete’ that didn’t have guns or Murray Gold’s intrusive score in the background was harder than I thought. In the end I could only locate one, and it’s not a very good one, but at this point I really didn’t want to switch exclusively to ‘Exterminate’. So it’s in there, and I added a couple of K-9 clips for good measure. This dilutes the effect even further, but at least it keeps you on your toes.

It was hard to finish: this was a tinkering video. I said before that I did it in one evening, but the problem was knowing when to stop, because I kept coming up with new ideas. The use of the TARDIS noise is one such example; so too is the collection of effects I stuck in towards the end of the episode when they’re throwing stuff out of the window. Basically the whole thing is very silly. And it could probably have been much better, or at least more polished. But the boys all enjoyed it. And in this instance, that was actually all I cared about. Yoho!

Categories: Crossovers, Videos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Degrees of Separation

The other night, Joshua and I watched ‘The Lazarus Experiment’. I found it better than I remembered. (Gareth finds it truly awful.) Perhaps parenthood has softened my inner critic. When a small child holds up a badly-scrawled line drawing and you have no choice but to say it’s lovely, even when by their own standards it isn’t, it can be hard to turn that sort of behaviour trait off again.

There’s one scene in ‘Lazarus’ in which Tennant and Agyeman are trapped in the portaloo chamber of youth, which is about to activate. They escape when the Doctor manages to rewire it so the energy blast is directed outwards, rather than towards them. As they emerge, and Tennant does that hair-ruffling thing, he remarks “It really shouldn’t take that long for me to reverse the polarity. I must be a bit out of practice”. When I mentioned this to Gareth, he said “It’s strange.  If Davison or McCoy or others said that in a BF audio,  I would find it an amusing touch.  But when it happens in the new TV series, it grates as a painful reference.  Odd.”

From then on, our conversation ran basically like this…

Me: Maybe it’s because there is an inherent smugness in the new series that you don’t find present in the audio. When RTD writes something like that he’s typically doing it as fanwank, and you can’t stand that. The audio stuff is not mainstream, it’s niche, and for a specialist and highly appreciative audience. The TV series is aimed at the masses and I sometimes wonder if that’s why you don’t like it, because you simply don’t expect to.

Gareth: That now makes me sound very, er, something.  “Snobbish” isn’t the right word, but that sort of idea.  I would like to like New Who, and I have liked some bits.  But I don’t like much of modern TV at all, not just Who.

Many programmes, especially sci-fi-shaped things, are becoming a generic soup of effects and similar styles of arc and angst.  Everything these days deteriorates into tedium about the characters and their emotions, development, etc.

“We’ve got a time-travelling alien who can go anywhere in the universe!”
“Great, let’s give him some modern-day Earth friends and focus on them instead!”
“This Lara Croft video game thing.  It was a great series about exploring tombs, solving puzzles, fighting enemies. We should make new versions!”
“Great, let’s introduce a backplot where her parents and good friend are lost when she’s young, and have her angsting about finding what happened, trying to get them back etc.  What’s even better is that we can drag this out over three games!”

James: It’s not so much that you don’t like it because it’s aimed at the masses, but more that you don’t like it because of what they felt they had to do to aim it effectively at the masses. Does that make sense? I think you just don’t like contemporary TV because so much of it is the same. That may be why you enjoyed Life on Mars, which was at least a bit different.

(Re: your Tomb Raider thing, you have basically described the new Star Trek film.)

Gareth: That sounds plausible.  Everything seems to blur towards the norm these days, which is a bit dull.

James: It’s like if you look at action cinema. Every. Single. Action sequence. Is the same. Spots of slow motion – acrobatic leaps followed by slow-motion landings and leg sweeps. Wind machines. Thudding score. Oodles of fast cuts. And that’s before we get to the 3-D. It’s just so *boring*.

Gareth: With an explosion.  Coming towards the camera.

James: And someone outrunning a fireball. WHICH IS IMPOSSIBLE. Conversely, have you seen Children of Men?

Decontextualized it loses a certain something, but it’s brilliant, because it’s how car chases would probably really happen. There’s a lovely sense of realism about it.

Gareth: I just went to have a look.

It had an unskippable 22-second trailer.  Then an advert banner appeared across the bottom, which I killed (although its kill button was right next to its open button, and I missed).  Then another advert banner appeared across the bottom.

We were about a minute in before I was actually able to pay attention to any of it.  As you say, I think it needed context, as when I paid attention it just made them look incompetent.  (Yes, it might be more realistic than many, but then so might them stopping for 15 minutes to repair a puncture.)

We also started watching the Who ‘Frontier in Space’ DVD yesterday.  I’m used to them taking more than two minutes to get going, as they have the BBC Logo, the 2 Entertain Logo, the Doctor Who intro sequence, the title being announced, and the “enter audio navigation now”.  I am quite happy to have the “audio navigation” announcement (although I’m sure that these days there could be a setting on the PS3 or DVD player saying “don’t bother showing me this” – like with Infamous 2 where we have to sit through the warnings not to swing our motiony PS3 Wii-like controller too vigorously, or with Mission Impossible Season 4 where we have to choose the language each time).

But in FiS there was also an unskippable and unfastforwardable advert for more Who DVDs, adding more than another minute to the loading time.  It’s things like that that make me wish I’d got a pirate copy…

James: I know. It’s all very well complaining that you get dodgy quality with pirate DVDs, but you also don’t get all the stupid ads. (The one I hated the most was “You wouldn’t steal a handbag. You wouldn’t steal a car. Would you steal a film?”, which is a crappy analogy.)

Gareth: It’s truly awful.  If they’d said “you wouldn’t somehow make a clone of the person’s handbag, not depriving them of their own handbag – not for any fraudulent use of the contents, just to have a nice bag”, I expect many people would say “well, why not?”

James: It would have been a far more sensible question, but you’d have had to knock it down to twelve point fount to get it on the screen, and they’d have had to show it for longer, which sort of breaks up the flow.

YouTube sucks, really, doesn’t it? This is why I don’t monetise. It’s the principle.

Gareth: Many things are going the tedious way.  The strangest (and also quite annoying) thing I’ve met recently is when you buy something on Amazon, you can press a button to announce to Facebook that you’ve just bought it.  Um, what?  Firstly, why would anyone care?  And why would I want to tell the world I’ve just bought stuff.  (Maybe it’s so that Facebook can pass the information on to more people!)

We had a phone survey a while ago.  I usually hang up, but occasionally I’m bored and see what they want.  It was going along all sensibly until we got to the computing and media section, which included the question “how many laptops do you have in your house?” and I thought that this was an unsubtle question to ask.  Would the follow-up have been “and do you have particularly good window locks?”?  Probably not, but that’s not the point.

James: You’ve seen, presumably, how I dealt with our last telemarketing caller? (It involved toothpaste.)

Gareth: I did, yes. Guess what, I just had another one. He said “Hello.  This is Something Lifestyle Survey.  I ask a few questions, it only take a few minutes, and you say ‘yes’ or “no’.  First, how are you today?”

I think that “no” was the only possible response to that.

James: It reminds me of the alleged courtroom dialogue that went

– All your responses must be oral. What is your name?
– Oral.

I have always assumed this was an urban legend, because I can’t believe that even in America anyone could be QUITE SO STUPID.

Categories: New Who | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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