Friday, 6 April 2018

Animated Goings On and Smartphone Obsessions: PicsArt Animator

I have become so obsessed with my smartphone as a mini computer that I am getting warning notices from my supplier that I am exceeding "my bundle usage". Truth is, being an old ginner and new to this area of consumption, I don't know what such people are talking about. Except that up to now this sin has only cost me an extra 50p. I blame Tanis (see previous post) for my abused bundle. But I don't care and will continue to download this podcast with devotion.

I have installed an animation app: PicsArt Animator. (Maybe this exhausts my poor little old bundle?) It is fun ... as advertised. Although the animations you produce are watermarked "PicsArt". I tried FlipaClip which is pretty good too. But it also watermarks your animation. So for now I will stay with PicsArt ... it being the devil I know. As an animation app PicsArt Animator seems geared to creating GIFs but it does a lot for its size. Its instructions are cryptic to non-existent, so good luck with that.
(I seem to spend my days battling with cryptic instructions. Of course, this could mean the onset of dementia ... the bugaboo that is driving all of us old ginners into the corner from fear. Hey! Want to exercise your brain? Try mastering a smartphone with no phone-savvy people by your side I say.)

Perhaps I am the only idiot trying to make animations by pawing at their smartphone with fingers like bananas ... but do you know what? I just treat it like a sketchbook. Which is very helpful. AND it has reintroduced me to GIFs. Which I first tried to make in the 1990s...

DOLL:"Well, hello stranger."
GIF: (Blink. Blink.)
DOLL: "I see you are all kitted out as hot stuff now."
GIF: (Blink. Blink.)
DOLL: "Well who would have thunk it."
GIF: (Blink. Blink. Blink. Blink. Blink. Blink .......)

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Discovering Podcasts: More Wierdness with "Tanis" from PRA

I am still hooked on my smartphone and listening to podcasts. Having finished "Rabbits" (see that post) from the wonderful Public Radio Alliance ... I am catching up on their earlier show "Tanis" which happily for me and my obsession has just started Season Four.

If Rabbits gave me game-playing conspiracy with a hint of spook - then Tanis gives me horror, myth and murder set in the Pacific North West of America. It's "presented" by podcast host Nic Silver and is constructed as an investigation into the weirdness of Tanis. Which is what? A cult? An entity? Its dark goings-on are said to shift place every 400 years or so. But its current location is ... Yes indeed, Twin Peaks territory. Which does make an old Peaky comme moi very happy.

PRA has made a show full of gripping style: mysterious woods, dark beings, alternate spaces, conspiracy and serial murder. What an elegant shivery stew. PRA calls it: "what happens when science and fiction start to blur".  (Sigh) I am just so hooked.

How to Listen to Tanis

Thursday, 22 March 2018

A Night Out At The English Touring Opera - Puccini's Gianni Schicchi

Just last week The Old Man and me did potter off to The Opera at the Hall for Cornwall in Truro ... which by the way is due to close this summer for at least 20 months whilst being redeveloped into a bigger and better venue ... they do say.
Where will us West Cornwall opera folks get to see an opera in the meantime?

But I do digress. English Touring Opera never fail. They are a great company that do save our opera-going bacon. This time we attended their version of two of Puccini's short operas: the dramatic and moving "Il Tabarro" (The Cloak) set aboard a barge on the Seine ... and the comic "Gianni Schicchi".

Despite viral throats having struck some of the singers, I was duly moved by the tragic Il Tabarro with its minimal, rusty iron, dockside setting.
But Gianni Schicchi did steal the evening. Everything about this ETO production - sets, costumes, singing, movement, acting were as ensemble, sharp, and knockout as can be. Stylised, yes, but it triumphed. The audience laughed out loud - and not just polite titters. Really - if you get a chance to see this version of a comic tale of scoundrel scam vs. rampant greed, you must give it a go. You've got till June!

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Discovering Podcasts: The Wierd World of "Rabbits"

I'm a little old lady exploring the smartphone world. Of course I had listened to podcasts before ... on my pc ... but now I am bravely entering the world of podcast apps and podcasts on my phone.

I tried one app which seemed easy to use. But it immediately refused to play my downloads if I wasn't connected to the internet...which didn't seem to be the point. And yes I did look under "settings". So I ditched that app and got another - PodcastAddict - so far so good. It does what it says on the tin: I download episodes and can listen to them anywhere. No more sitting next to my wi-fi box.

And so I've just started listening to "Rabbits"  - a US docudrama podcast produced by PRA. It's narrated by "a journalist investigating the sudden disappearance of a friend" as she becomes aware of that friend's involvement in a sinister, underground and ancient game known as the aforesaid "Rabbits" (think burrows and maybe even Alice, although the last is my idea and may be very wrong!!)

I admit that I can be a bit at sea in "Rabbits", being too old to have dived into gaming which is very much the background to this thriller ... But hey, I used to read William Gibson. I can cope.

Public Radio Alliance likes to describe itself as "creating television for your ears". And that sounds very fine to me. I shall be investigating their other podcast series.

Oh! And I have discovered the joy of falling to sleep to podcasts rather than audible books ... which is ... that when the episode finishes, the broadcast stops. I don't have to trawl backwards through the book to find my falling asleep spot! Though I expect there is an app for that.

How to Listen to Rabbits

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

MrsD's Criminal Reading: The Greek Wall by Nicolas Verdan

Mrs D has been reviewing again. This time it's a thriller by Swiss/Greek writer Nicolas Verdan called "The Greek Wall".  She enjoyed the novel's strong evocation of land and city-scapes, the plot's convolutions, character writing ... and getting a Greek view of some fairly recent events.You'll find her full review over at the Euro Crime Blog.

Nicolas Verdan will be taking part in "Literally Swiss" - a ticketed event billed as a "literary cabaret of writing from and about Switzerland" on Feb 9th 2018, 6pm at The Tabernacle in Notting Hill, London.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

The Loss of the Old Coast Path from Porthleven to Loe Bar

We think of the granite cliffs of Cornwall as standing against erosion - but things are fragile in times of storm and climate change ... and not all the cliffs of Cornwall are granite.

Part of one of my favourite local stretches of coastal path (Porthleven to Loe Bar) has disappeared, undercut and fallen away after recent storms. This means it is now too dangerous to walk and has been closed by the National Trust whilst they work out how to reinstate a route by taking it further inland.

So these are a few photos from a walk I can no longer take.

Being observed

Grass and sky
Looking west towards Rinsey

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Animated Discussions: Loving Vincent

I'm looking out for "Loving Vincent" - a film produced by Polish animator Dorota Kobiela and film director Hugh Welchman (who also worked on the 2006 animation "Peter and the Wolf"). They just got an Oscar nomination and the European Film Academy gave it their 2017 European Animated Feature Film Award.
The project was Kobiela's labour of love which everyone said could not be done: a film about Vincent Van Gogh animated with frames individually painted in the style of the man himself. "CGI it": they said. "No": said the team whose dream it was.

From a test run in 2012 they managed to tackle problems such as frame size vs varying canvas size of source paintings; film timeline vs depicted seasons in chosen image; varying styles of the painter (Van Gogh) himself... you name it.

And with a team of 80+ painters (including Helford-based artist Sarah Wimperis) and a method involving rotoscoping live-action filming ... They did it.

Take time, if you can, to watch the "making of" video at the end of Ashley Lo Russo's  Review of "Loving Vincent" on the Canadian Animation Blog.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Mrs D's Criminal Reading

I'm not really yawning, honest. But aint it hard to get up on a cold and frosty morning? Or in my case a grey and raining morning.

But I can have a lie-in because this post is about Mrs D's criminal reading habits. She's contributed a list of her favourite Brit-Euro-Crime reading in 2017 to the Euro Crime blog and you'll find that list here.

Now I guess I had better get up and put the kettle on.