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M. Harrison (UK)

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Alien Vault: The Definitive Story Behind the Film
Alien Vault: The Definitive Story Behind the Film
by Ian Nathan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 24.00

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitive story... but definitive images...?, 1 Oct 2011
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Whilst many reviews have lauded the quality of the book, it's presentation and clearly fan driven narrative of it's author Ian Nathan who has managed to collate successfully data from numerous sources including older books, blu-ray commentaries and EMPIRE interviews, this review concentrates on the imagery, namely the photographs contained in the book should someone be hoping this is also a DEFINITIVE reference for ALIEN.

Many of the images of production photos and concept art have been seen before are seen in colour for the first time here. And whilst the concept drawings of Chris Foss, Moebius and Ron Cobb, the paintings of HR Giger have reproduced clearly (if somewhat darkly) the same cannot be said of the majority of behind the scenes stills which fall below expectations.

The presentation of the book is excellent as has been previously noted, but the formatting sometimes leaves a lot of dead white page around smaller stills that could have been made larger and to bleed off the page, especially at the top and bottom of pages (when this is done in the book it works much better, image-wise). Whilst colourful on the good quality paper, the majority of photos suffer from poor reproduction; soft looking, blown out highlights, dense large areas of black shadow with no detail. This is frustrating when compared with the same images in other books or on the internet that are sharper with more shadow detail (and really unforgivable in an age of digital scanning and clean up) . This is especially true of the Nostromo model ship which the book fails to have one decent picture of! Disappointing given the wealth of imagery on the internet especially with the recent restoration of the model. Even the adult alien was better catered for in previous publications. I would have preferred many more large, rare and detailed images to be able to refer to, but maybe that's a different book.

Where the book does score better though is in the reproduction of some concept art and rare Ridleygrams, Director Ridley Scott's own storyboards that provide additional insight into the movie making process . I could have done without the "Enclosures" gimmick (which makes flicking through the book difficult); loose images of FOLDED posters and notes that would have been better served being given a full page in the book (or a bigger book). But the Nostromo blueprints are a nice geeky treat! These are NOT floor plans of the stage sets as with the STAR WARS blueprints; this is front, side and top of the model) I certainly wouldn't buy this book second-hand given these additions would be likely missing!

There are interesting behind the scenes shots to be had in this book, but there still remains to be seen a definitive comprehensive image reference book on the sets, model work and concept art (other than Giger's work which has been covered extensively) that is given the same respect and reproduction quality (such as the Art of STAR WARS books) that fans of ALIEN would love to own. Hopefully this is lying in another vault waiting to be discovered!

The enclosure bonus's aside, the imagery is for the most part functional, to support the text. This is a book for the definitive story of ALIEN rather than the definitive imagery of the film but since it fulfills that admirably with passion from an obvious fan in Ian Nathan I will still give this excellent value and well presented book 4 stars for being ALMOST perfect.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 16, 2011 7:20 PM BST

Tron Legacy
Tron Legacy
Offered by westworld-
Price: 11.98

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best soundtracks I've heard in years, 4 July 2011
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This review is from: Tron Legacy (Audio CD)
Along with the design and Jeff Bridges, the best thing about TRON: LEGACY was the absolutely fantastic score. Think Hans Zimmer's score to "Inception" meets Philip Glass's "Koyannisqatsi". Powerful pounding beats mix with confident subtle themes . I'm not a huge fan of Daft Punks "pop" music but as film composers they have revealed a stunningly mature new sound that has me hoping they will do more scores in the future. Best film score I've heard in years.

CamGrip Black
CamGrip Black

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a bit of plastic with a screw in it- but worth it!, 9 Jun 2011
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This review is from: CamGrip Black (Electronics)
I have to admit this was a little underwhelming when it arrived in the post. I know it's just a bit of plastic with a screw in it but it's smaller than I was expecting; not the full palm grip but just enough. I also thought it didn't do much to stabilise the DSLR until I actually went to take a photo (ie: camera up to the face, two hands) Switching between gripping the body and the camera grip, holding and steadying the shutter release with the other hand whilst holding the grip firmly to the base of the camera I did notice it reduced the slight horizontal drifting I had. It also corrected my horizon (I tend to push up with my left arm and take slightly slanted images) I took a hand held test shot at a 1/5 second (1/30 is usually the minimum shutter speed for a hand held wide angle lens) and the photo was sharp! So yeah, after some consideration, it's worth it.

Zoom Q3HD Handy Video Recorder
Zoom Q3HD Handy Video Recorder

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Audio Fantastic, Video pretty lame, 9 Jun 2011
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The Zoom Q3HD is specifically designed for recording indoor gigs and music sessions; a very good stereo mic and high quality audio recoding device with full HD (1080p @ 30fps) stuck on. I say stuck on as it's little better than the HD quality of compact cameras that were touting HD a few years ago (in fact- it's not as good, a Panasonic lumix of three years ago is better with a wide angle lens and close focuing) . Since the main draw for buying the Zoom will be recording gigs or live sessions for uploading to Youtube, in this respect it's up to the task, and if you don't expect too much from it in terms of video quality it's okay, with some important limitations.

Regarding video recording, the room needs to be well lit, otherwise the automatic settings try to compensate and very quickly blocky noise is introduced to the footage. It has concert and night settings but they are still visually noisy. Check out Youtube clips. That noise in the HD clips is on your original footage.

To get the best out of the HD recording set it to the highest video quality and set it on a tripod (the tripod fits to the bottom of the device; it's plastic rather than a more reliable metal so to won't get as tight a fit as you would like) . Hand holding the device renders the footage almost unwatchable as there is no stabilization and your hand trembling will look like an earthquake through the tiny fixed focus lens. The lens itself is not a wide angle by any means and you will need to set the camera some way back in a room to record a gig. The footage even on the highest quality settings in perfect conditions has a high degree of noise reduction coupled with very vivid colours rendering everything plastic and smooth looking. On a bright day cars strobe by; there's little motion blur on the highest setting although you can get smoother playback on a 720p 60fps setting, but then the video quality suffers and is very "steppy". The minimum focusing distance is supposed to be about 18 inches but anything closer than a metre looked blurry. But the Q3HD is designed for uploading to Youtube, so this is really a case of expecting too much from the device. There are better devices for video out there, but not when it comes to the audio.

Indoors, the sound is FANTASTIC. Great spacial stereo, very little (if any) hiss at the best audio settings of 96 mhz. This is where the device comes into its own.

Outside however, the slightest wind blasts the mics and wind cut makes little difference. As far as I know, there's no dedicated "Dead cat" windbreaker for the Q3HD although the accessory pack does have a foam wind breaker which is next to useless (make a home made fur one- the bigger the better). The supplied AA batteries allow about half an hours recording, or filling the 2GB SD card supplied twice over at best quality (you get about 16 minutes full HD and sound)

Conclusion: The sound quality is excellent and if it's for recording bright indoor concerts with a tripod or some way of steadying the device it'll be more than adequate. A musician's note book. Outside you will need a mono-pod/ tripod or steadi-cam device for a mobile phone and an improvised "dead cat "windbreaker or a surface you can steady the footage on. It eats up batteries and needs a bigger card for the highest HD which is the only setting worth considering. I might have lived with the short comings and kept it for the sound mainly and regretfully not returned it if it weren't for this:

WARNING! This product came to me with noticeable dead pixels or dust on the internal sensor. Check your product immediately as there are other cases reported on the internet. These sparkling dots on the footage (especially noticeable in shadows or areas of flat tone) will always be there and will get worse if they are pixels dying. Return immediately!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 13, 2012 1:58 PM BST

Tritton AX Pro: Precision Gaming Headset with Dolby 5.1 True Surround Sound (PS3/Xbox 360/PC/Mac)
Tritton AX Pro: Precision Gaming Headset with Dolby 5.1 True Surround Sound (PS3/Xbox 360/PC/Mac)

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing short comings in "surround sound" Headset., 30 May 2011
= Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Tritton headset was tested with correctly set up devices for digital/optical sound: an iMac (using a 3.5mm adapter- not supplied), a PVR and and Xbox 360 (with an optical out adaptor- not supplied) Only 5.1 Dolby Digital signals were considered, as indicated on Tritton decoder box.

The product claims to be " Precision 3D Directional audio using Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound.... similar to a home theatre". "Similar" as in "not much" like a home theatre, well not mine. Home theatre systems have dedicated speakers set around the listener to be "surrounded" by the time delayed sound. It would be possibly unfair to expect the Tritton headset to replicate that experience but what it offers regarding spatial sound and quality seems no better than a pair of quality stereo headphones.

The 5.1 signal is forced into a 4.0 configuration on your headset with a "phantom" centre speaker being generated from the front speakers which to be fair has a decent focus. The rear speakers however do not have the same ability to generate a rear focus; the various time delays only succeed in pushing that sound further to left and right leaving a noticeable rear gap in the "surround sound". In gaming terms, playing "LEFT4DEAD" meant enemy directly behind me were pushed to the far left or right, and turning up the rear volume only made enemies a room away or a floor below seem right next to me!

Also there is noticeable crosstalk in the speakers meaning dedicated centre speaker sounds such as vocals on a DVD can also can be (faintly) heard in the front and even the rear speakers when all other speakers are set to zero, rendering the "True 5.1" somewhat false. No amount of adjustment to the time delays to centre and rear speakers can overcome this polluting signal. For the checking of DVD 5.1 builds from DVD Studio Studio Pro prior to burning the headset is therefore useless.

The sound quality itself seems reasonable until compared to a pair of decent stereo headphones that cost a quarter as much and sound just as wide (I used Panasonic ear bud type). The Tritton sound lacks an overall warmth, the centre sounding harsh and the sub woofer muddying when the volumes are turned up.

Whether these issues are the results of a faulty product or a products limitations I couldn't say and Technical support couldn't comment either. Interestingly, there is a notice boxed with phones asking you to contact tech support before returning them to the retailer which suggests this might be a regular occurrence.

I really wanted this headset to work and continue gaming and watching and creating DVD's in surround sound late at night but they are not the answer. Overly ambitious claims by them and expectations on my part has lead to a disappointing conclusion and a return to Amazon who refunded me. (Delivery and refund were excellent)
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 2, 2011 4:26 AM BST

Complete Musketeers [DVD] [1975] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Complete Musketeers [DVD] [1975] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Michael York

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent presentation, 3 Dec 2010
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Whilst others have reviewed the film I'll confine my comments to the DVD's as I will assume you have already seen the films and with to purchase what you hope will be the best DVD presentation. Well it certainly was better than the previous UK release (which may have been only 4:3!) . I bought this for the widescreen print (it also has a full screen 4:3 version alongside) and extras (a 50 minute retrospective slyly cut in half, just like the original film!) The print is not the sharpest you'll see nor are the black levels perfect but is still looks better than I've seen it on TV, with lovely colours and detail (the softness is a very minor issue most likely due to me viewing an American region 1 disc on a multi-region player on a PAL TV) The soundtrack is mono unfortunately but to be expected. The extras are mostly talking heads but as previously mentioned a worthy contribution. As always you'll miss those that didn't contribute to the retrospective (alot of them are dead now) It's nice to hear the likes of Christopher Lee and Charlton Heston speak highly of a film they had problems on but are also proud of.

If you love these films, then until the blu-ray- this is the best version to get IMHO. Great childhood memories seeing these again!

GadMei External DVB-T Digital Freeview LCD CRT TV Tuner Box TV6818E for PS2, PS3, WII, DVD player etc (input up to 1080i,support HD wide-screen LCD monitor up to 1920 X 1200)
GadMei External DVB-T Digital Freeview LCD CRT TV Tuner Box TV6818E for PS2, PS3, WII, DVD player etc (input up to 1080i,support HD wide-screen LCD monitor up to 1920 X 1200)

3.0 out of 5 stars It does the job... just!, 3 Dec 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As other reviewers have noted, this isn't a miracle worker but is okay for converting a monitor into a TV and getting a bit of extra life out of it. There are a couple of important issues with the product that you may encounter, well I did. As some have mentioned the set up manual is TERRIBLE! It ships to a default setting which doesn't seem to be tuned to the actual input you will be using, so when prompted to use the menus you should be looking at all you see is the word "Gadmei" displayed! It took me an hour of fiddling and reading the manual to find buried in the text the button on the remote needed to cycle through the inputs that would finally allow the menus to be displayed so you could set it up! Once that was done it was okay, but another issue was the 2 pin to 3 pin adaptor (for UK sales) shipped with the device. It's positively lethal!
The 2 pin plug "rests" in the 3 pin adapter and can easily slip out as it's not gripped. Buying another adapter will solve this. The Gadmei is only as good as your reception with no boosting to speak of so I get most channels but a few freeview channels are no more than freeze frames. But all the basic terrestrial channels can be sourced, and adusting resolution can give you as good a picture as you'd expect of a monitor displaying TV (in other words, a little soft and lacking in contrast on an LCD screen) . Oh and the red light on the front blinks all the time to let you know it's in standby which can be annoying if in line of sight. I would have preferred it off when off.

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