Friday, 28 April 2006

Wii Want

Nintendo has announced that its next generation console (code-name Revolution) is officially known as Wii. The company explains:

"While the code-name 'Revolution' expressed our direction, Wii represents the answer. Wii will break down that wall that separates video game players from everybody else."

"Wii will put people more in touch with their games … and each other. But you’re probably asking: What does the name mean? Wii sounds like 'we,' which emphasizes this console is for everyone."

"Wii can easily be remembered by people around the world, no matter what language they speak. No confusion. No need to abbreviate. Just Wii. Wii has a distinctive 'ii' spelling that symbolizes both the unique controllers and the image of people gathering to play."

"And Wii, as a name and a console, brings something revolutionary to the world of video games that sets it apart from the crowd. So that’s Wii. But now Nintendo needs you. Because, it’s really not about you or me. It’s about Wii."

In addition, Nintendo hit on a number of Wii-related points. Nintendo stated that "A number of Wi-Fi-enabled launch titles are in development that will employ Nintendo's newly announced wireless gaming service, Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection."

Also mentioned was an SD memory card expansion bay that will allow users to complement the 512 megabytes of internal flash memory.

The company also touted Wii's two-format disc drive. "Instead of a tray, a single, innovative, self-loading media bay will play both 12-centimeter optical discs used for the new system as well as Nintendo GameCube discs. Owners will have the option of equipping a small, self-contained attachment to play movies and other DVD content."

At first I scoffed at Nintendo's nomenclature! However, who would have thought that TiVo and iPod would become part of our consumer lexicon? And controversy sales.

Wii, like the original iMac, will be available in an assortment of candy colors. To paraphrase Steve Jobs. Wii is gaming for the rest of us. Nintendo may have struck marketing gold by mining Apple Computer's rich lifestyle brand ethos.

Thursday, 27 April 2006

Scoring Pictures: Part II

In this second part of my scoring pictures feature. I'm releasing the second soundtrack suite (MP3) (composed and performed by Barrie Cole & James Makin) from December Duet and address the use of non-diagetic sound.

For this production I had always desired and envisaged an emotive classical score. Rendered in the tradition of American film composers such as Eric Wolfgang Korngold who pioneered the swashbuckler scores for early Hollywood, up to present day practitioners such as Danny Elfman and Jerry Goldsmith. Who, themselves, had drawn inspiration from Tchaichovsky and other baroque composers of the 19th Century.

Although in the original story, there was to have been a song with which to resolve the drama. The composer decided to renege on his commitment, which, initially had an adverse affect. However, although disillusioned, I submitted, at the suggestion of my tutor (Mik Parsons), a script to a local art college for approval. It proved to be very productive. I auditioned two individuals who were very receptive to the story and its themes. Their enthusiasm was consolidated when I showed them the opening computer animation.

Whilst they worked, independently, on scenes. The end result was that both the characters of Lewis and Claire/Eleanor had, their own, individual and highly stylised scores. This further delineated and embellished their respective identities. This musical form is refered to as Leitmotif. This briefest of signature tunes, which can be orchestrated any which way, was pioneered by the 19th Century virtuoso Richard Wagner. Wagner's most famous accomplishment was The Ring - four full-length operas that depicted dwarfs, wizards, dragons, teachers, philosophy and gold.

This approach to composition has been used, extensively, by cinematic composers to signify, a character, a prop or an emotion.

Tuesday, 25 April 2006

Scoring Pictures: Part I

"How much do we see when we hear? How much do we hear when we see?" - American film composer John Williams. From the liner notes of Star Wars - The Empire Strikes Back album.

Transfering archive analogue recordings has afforded a rare luxury to revisit many of my audio recordings! And I’m delighted to finally present the evocative score composed for December Duet (1996).

This suite (MP3) was composed and performed by Barrie Cole and recorded at Knighton Heath Music Center, Bournemouth and Poole College.

What follows is taken from my production analysis.

Why use sound when, surely, pictures, alone, can tell the full story? Obviously television and cinema are, inherently, about visuals. But an important aspect of these mediums is also sound. Often implicitly ignored by audiences. It’s there, but on an almost subconscious level. Sound masks editing, jump cuts and the passing of time. Without sound, it would be, arguably, impossible for the director to suspend audience disbelief. That what they are watching just isn't real. And, as a result, the audience will have no means with which to relate and engage the characters and the story. In essence sound underscores the illusion of reality.

Whereas the means in which pictures are mediated to an audience hasn't technically progressed (apart from a few rare exemptions / attractions such as IMAX Cinemas and 'La Geode', in Paris), commercially, for some time, due to the inherently vast development costs. And the unwillingness of theatres to embrace such undertakings, until the costs come down. The way in which sound is exhibited has undergone constant evolution. The advent of Dolby Stereo, showcased to dramatic effect in Star Wars (1977), made such a cultural impact on movie making. And latterly domestically. It created an entire industry devoted to post production sound. This has filtered down to television, in recent years.

Who can forget what a dazzling contribution John William's epic compositions for The Star Wars Trilogy (1977 - 83) made to the onscreen F/X and action. Would the films have been so highly praised if it had been unaccompanied by music and ground breaking sound design engineered by Eric Tomlinson and Ben Burt?

I wanted to convey my affection for beautifully recorded soundtracks, both diagetic and none. Essentially create a stereo soundtrack to compliment the visuals. I wanted to apply the knowledge that I had learnt from the previous two years whilst doing audio and video. The culmination of which was last summer's (1995) integrated project.

Simon, who undertook the role of PPS, sympathised with me. He fastidiously sculpted a rich sound stage which depicted, clearly, the vocals, sound F/X and musical score. We were able to draw a very fine line between complimenting the visuals and sounds. The temptation to over do one element, at the expense of the other, was avoided. It never descended into OTT melodrama. It lent a 3-Dimensionality to the 2-D environment of the screen. And also it adds another important element, that of directing the audiences emotions. I personally believe that you cannot have good visuals without good sound. It seems such a loss of creative potential, and a human sense, to apply effort to the visuals (in video) and give little, or no, consideration to the sound design.

During post production sound, sounds can be repaired and smoothed. Voices, crowds and additional dialogue etc can be added via A.D.R (Automatic Dialogue Replacement). This technique is used extensively in film / television production. A recent example is the movie Speed (1994), in which sound design takes the action to a new level of experience and audience participation. Foley adds footsteps, additional sound needs (not normally accessible during location recording).

To be continued.

Friday, 21 April 2006

The Frog Prince

During yesterday's train journey (upgraded to First Class for free) to London Waterloo, I read, with great interest, that Michael Jackson is to begin work on his comeback album (wasn't that Invincible?) with Crazy Frog producer Guy Holmes (Gut Records)!

This news shouldn't honor a response. However, sans a new Sony deal, MJ, once the quintessential performer, can only 'afford' to compromise! So, there'll be no block booking studios, such as the legendary Ocean Way, for weeks at a time a la the Dangerous recording sessions. There's light at the end of the tunnel; it's amazing what one can do with a computer these days and low cost software!

Presumably any settlement with Sony would include all unreleased recordings made whilst under contract to Epic. I'd love to see Sony release an album solely from this ground-breaking era.

Wednesday, 19 April 2006

Philips prepares for FIFA World Cup™ fever

Philips has launched its official World Cup site brimming over with great information, entertainment and a chance to win tickets to the cup!

Press Information

April 12, 2006

Philips is launching the O.G.P.F.W.C.P.C.; a chance to win tickets to the 2006 FIFA World Cup™

Amsterdam, The Netherlands – Committed to providing consumers with top-notch entertainment experiences, Philips is pleased to unveil an exciting new Preparation Center that will enable football fans across the globe to prepare for the 2006 FIFA World Cup™. Beginning of April, Philips is launching the O.G.P.F.W.C.P.C (Official Global Philips FIFA World Cup™ Preparation Center), enabling football fanatics from all countries to gain insightful information, tips and entertainment surrounding the 2006 FIFA World Cup™.

This unique Preparation Center is fully interactive, allowing visitors to “walk” through different rooms, much like a video game. While in each room, football fans will learn a variety of humorous and entertaining preparation tips pertaining to their FIFA World Cup™ experience, ranging from the best way to decorate a football home and celebrate a victory, to an online game that will award lucky fans with tickets to the 2006 FIFA World Cup™.

Philips recognizes that sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup™ are a great opportunity to bring friends and family together and, for most fans, the living room and home theatre are the central “rallying point” for enjoying the games. “With the FIFA World Cup™ being the largest sporting event in the world, Philips knows that many fans will want some help preparing for the matches and celebrations,” said Lucas Covers, Chief Marketing Officer of Philips Consumer Electronics. “The Preparation Center will provide football fans with all of the tools they need to get ready for the tournament, as well as fun and interactive games.”

While there is a “room” in the Preparation Center to meet the needs and demands of any football fan, following are some examples of the content that can be found on this site:

Goal Celebration Preparation
• In this room, visitors will see how fans around the world celebrate a goal or team victory, providing tips and ideas for fun-filled celebrations for any football fan

Prepare to win
• While visiting this room, football fans can play a football game and win tickets for FIFA World Cup™

Living Room Preparation
• The living room is the most important part of FIFA World Cup™ home viewing; while in this room, fans will learn expert tips on the best way to prepare a living room for the critical matches in June

2/… Philips is launching the Preparation Center

This site provides hours of entertainment for all football fans alike.

The Preparation Center will be live on April 12, 2006, from 18.00 pm CET and fans can experience this exciting site by visiting:, by clicking on the dedicated banner.

About Royal Philips Electronics
Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHI) is one of the world's biggest electronics companies and Europe's largest, with sales of $37.7 billion (EUR 30.4 billion) in 2005. With activities in the three interlocking domains of healthcare, lifestyle and technology and 159,200 employees in more than 60 countries, it has market leadership positions in medical diagnostic imaging and patient monitoring, color television sets, lighting and silicon system solutions. News from Philips is located at

Saturday, 15 April 2006

Blame It On The Boogie

In 1990 a Media Studies assignment, the music industry, resulted in the brief formation of my Pop/R&B band - Def Track - when I co-wrote "Don't Judge A Book By Its Cover". The band members were Shane Johnson (lead vocals), Jamie Smith (backing vocals and bass) and myself (backing vocals and keyboard).

Don't Judge A Book By Its Cover (MP3), inspired by a verse from Bros’ Life’s A Heartbeat (The Time album), was recorded at Exeter College’s Bishop Blackall annexe to the chagrin of the music department! How dare media studies students display creative versatility and ungraciously use the main studio to produce commercial material! At the time Paula Abdul, Bros and New Kids On The Block dominated the transatlantic airwaves.

At this point it wouldn’t be churlish to reveal that, aside from a few minor ad-libs from the lead vocalist, I single-handedly wrote the lyrics and take the blame myself.

The song was exclusively recorded using electronic keyboards, bass and drums (mixed using a Commodore Amiga A500) in homage to Michael Jackson’s Bad album, which was clearly influenced by synthpop producers Trevor Horn and Giorgio Moroder.

The arrival of Savage Garden, in the late 1990’s, sparked a resurgence in the synthpop genre and the track's production stands up to comparison with their debut. Darren Hayes are you listening?

Originally the group (self-managed to avoid pitfalls) wanted to submit a 4 song demo EP entitled Facade to radio stations such as Atlantic 252. However, it never came to pass. So, via the magic of the internet here's Def Track's breakthrough single that never was.

Wednesday, 5 April 2006


Militarist overtones aside. Today Apple announced the immediate availability of Boot Camp (Public Beta name subject to change) for Intel-based Macs.

Officially, Mac Users will be able to natively run a purchased copy of Windows XP (unsupported by Apple) alongside Mac OS X 10.4.6 (and above).

This natural extension of X11 is, perhaps, the missing piece from Apple's switching strategy and silences the third-party hacks (however good). Windows customers no longer have to consider abandoning their investment overnight, and a panacea for developers migrating from Redmond to Cupertino or wishing to support both commercial platforms in a timely fashion.

Mac gamers now have access to an unimaginable wealth of Windows-only games. What effect, if any, will this have on publishers such as Aspyr or MacPlay? Let the discourse begin.

On the strength of this release, all eyes are on WWDC 2006 and the first official glimpse of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. Maybe Vista's in for a mauling?

Monday, 3 April 2006

Teen Titans

Back when I started College (1988) I had aspirations of becoming a graphic designer, and a few friends made the grade! Life has taken many twists and turns, but that ambition has not soured.

Here's a magazine mock-up, featuring Charmed's Rose McGowan, that also appears on my portfolio site. Come on Titan Magazines! You know you want me!

Over on Cloister Bell you can read my Mego Micronauts post! The Micronauts were the highly imaginative forerunners of The Transformers. Ah, the adventures of Commander Rann, Acroyear and Bug!

Saturday, 1 April 2006

Apple announces end of Mac!

April fooled you!

Happy Birthday to both Apple and my eldest Uncle, Sidney.