Wednesday, 11 March 2015

San Francisco Heroes, a Roadtrip.


Early in March I got the awesome opportunity to visit San Francisco for a week on a business trip to GDC, my first proper trip to the Bay Area where I got boots on the ground and had a good sniff around.
Being a movie fan I thought it would be fun to explore a couple of places where my favorite cult movies had been shot, namely Bullitt, starring the late Steve McQueen and Escape from Alcatraz starring Clint Eastwood. Using a cool photo technique inspired by the website Dear Photograph where an older photo is merged into the real life setting the original photo was taken I took the following shots.

This shot is on the street corner of Taylor and Clay Street, in the film Bullitt, Steve McQueen parks the Mustang just across from the corner shop and steals a newspaper before going into the store to buy groceries. The fire hydrant, sign post and red cornerbox are still there to this day.

A shot of the actual apartment used by Steve McQueens character Lieutenant Frank Bullitt is literally across the road from the grocery store.

This shot shows the Dodge Charger driven by the hitmen heading West at the corner of Taylor and Union Street as it gets some air.

The 1979 movie Escape From Alcatraz starring Clint Eastwood is another of my cult favorites, the movie recounts the infamous June 1962 jail escape by Frank Morris played by Eastwood and 2 inmates. This was by far the coolest place I think I've been to on any of my business trips. I took the early bird booking which leaves in the morning at around 8.45am, it was on a Saturday and I didn't fancy fighting my way through hundreds of other visitors. The trip also gave me a very cool opportunity to dust off my Canon DSLR which I don't use nearly enough.

This shot is taken outside in the exercise yard where Frank talks about acquiring some items for his escape.

The knife attack by inmate 'Wolf' on Frank Morris takes place in the exercise yard here, I've tried to match the shot up exactly by using the steel door as a guide. You'll have to take my word for it that its still there!

Alcatraz all to myself - probably the photo I am most proud of, I got in ahead of the main tour crowd and had a good ten minutes before they showed up to crowd the walkways.

Useful Links: Dear Photograph  Alcatraz Cruises

Thursday, 26 February 2015

WARBIRDS: The Aviation Art of Adam Tooby

WARBIRDS: The Aviation Art of Adam Tooby

RRP 29.99

My growing collection of coffee table books just increased by one today, and I have to say its an absolute corker of a book. If you're a fan of combat aircraft, combat paintings or aviation art in general then this is a must buy.

Warbirds: The Aviation art of Adam Tooby is a visually stunning presentation of combat aircraft in a variety of scenarios from World War 1, World War 2, Vietnam and beyond.
The art is created digitally so presents some very clean lines which might not sit well with certain aviation art purists who prefer the more organic and traditional paintings from masters like Robert Taylor. That being said this is still a book to get excited about, the page design is really thought out and on occasion provides extended fold out pages for the larger planes and scenarios. Composition wise all the paintings deliver an adrenaline fuelled visual attack.

Tooby lends his talent to providing Airfix model kit ranges their dynamic box covers, Warbirds is his first book.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Live Streamers Get Swatted Live on Video Cam

Swatting is defined in Wikipedia as "the act of tricking an emergency service (via such means as hoaxing a 9-1-1 dispatcher) into dispatching an emergency response based on the false report of an ongoing critical incident. Episodes range from large to small — from the deployment of bomb squads, SWAT units and other police units and the concurrent evacuations of schools and businesses, to a single fabricated police report meant to discredit an individual as a prank or personal vendetta."

Basically it's a more lethal form of knock, knock with a steel battering ram and eight tactical Police officers raiding your home. Its the ultimate troll, or at least that's what certain malevolent internet trolls think it is, the act of getting revenge on someone you envy because of their livestreaming success or simply because you want to mess with their head but primarily it's nothing more than an attempt at boosting ego and getting bragging rights.

On 27 August 2014, YouTube user Jordan Mathewson, known online as Kootra, live streamed a game of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive on Twitch. A viewer called 911 claiming that there was a shooting in the building with hostages. A SWAT team raided the office that Mathewson's gaming company, The Creatures LLC, was operating out of. Mathewson was thrown to the ground and searched as officers searched the room. The events were broadcast live on the internet, until law enforcement set the camera lens-down on Mathewson's desk. Videos of the swatting went viral, gaining over three million views on YouTube and being reported on news programs all over the world.(The YouTube clip below shows that incident)

Above: SWAT raid as caught by livestream cam on Jordan Mathewson aka Kootra.

A 16 year old boy from Ottowa has recently been charged with 60 Swatting offences. One of the alleged incidents was a bomb threat which happened April 30 just before 10:30 a.m. at Jean Vanier Catholic Secondary School in Milton, Ont., west of Toronto. An anonymous 911 caller said he had placed explosives near the school that he was going to detonate — creating eight hours of work for more than 30 officers, and prompting an evacuation and search of the three-storey school.

Another story you may have heard about is 15 year old Paul Horner getting 25 years to Life for swatting, the story was in fact a hoax. A website called National Report reported that a 15-year-old Louisiana teen had been sentenced to 25 years to life when he “swatted” a fellow player who had beaten him repeatedly in Battlefield 4. The story includes sufficient fabricated information to convince casual readers of its authenticity, including a photograph, comments from “Judge Arthur Digsby," fake player IDs, and a vague reference to provisions of the Patriot Act that supposedly justified the decision.
The sobbing teen you may have seen in the YouTube video is actually being convicted of murdering a baby he was supposed to be looking after.

The hoax article details were clearly enough to convince a broad audience of its authenticity. Since its publication, the article had 200,000 shares on Facebook and nearly 400 comments that roundly applaud the decision.

Add caption

Above: The article posted in the National Report about Paul Horner being convicted of Swatting used a picture that was actually from the sentencing for a murder conviction in an entirely different case.

Above: The actual event of sentencing was for Murder of a toddler the teen was supposed to babysit.

Swatting goes as far back as 2008 but seems to have come to the forefront of late as prankers take more risks to increase the ante on their victims livestreaming accounts. In fact recently Joshua Peters, a Runescape player was swatted live in front of 60,000 viewers, he then tried to make a video about the incident where he describes how Police pointed guns at his younger brother.

Above: Videogamer Joshua Peters just prior to being Swatted on his Runescape livestream channel.

The fact no-one has been seriously injured or killed either shows a superb example of the high level of training that SWAT teams undertake or perhaps it's just nothing but pure luck.

One to Watch: Jeff Lafferty

If like me you're a sucker for killer artwork or just love the whole creative process of drawing the traditional way via paint and pencil then here's an artist you might just like.
Jeff Lafferty is an American artist who's style isn't too far off Drew Struzan (Struzan did the original Raiders of the Lost Ark and Back to the Future movie posters).
Lafferty has a subdued manner to his YouTube videos when talking about his artwork and his process of working but makes up for the lack of media prowess with his stunning artwork. The use of colour, highlights and cross hatching make for addictive watching and he clearly loves his movie heroes. He does commission work too, so if you want one of your heroes drawn for a fee this guy could be a great choice to make that happen for you.

Check out Jeffs Blog here
His Deviant Art page here

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Boba Fett to Return in Star Wars Episode VII?


It always bugged me how Boba Fett met his fate in Return of the Jedi, like thousands of other Star Wars fans around the world I happily went along with the initial comedic value of his accidental and grisly demise at the time, I was after all only 12 years old. But now, older and wiser I look back on how utterly cool this character is and have since joined the massed ranks of fans who feel that his accidental ending robbed him of a hero's fight to the death he so richly deserved.

At first you think that slamming into Jabba's sail barge and falling into the Sarlacc pit couldn't possibly be the end of the Fett story and he'll just ignite his jet pack and fly out of trouble, but alas, Han put paid to that when he smashed said jet pack with the lance when he swung it into Fetts back.

Death of an anti hero: Solo smacks Fettt's backpack as he turns around oblivious that the bounty hunter is behind him.

Wire work: Fett is rigged with wires by ROTJ crew members for the sail barge battle and his ultimate demise.(Photo by Mike Davis)

(Photo by Mike Davis)

The death of Boba Fett in Jedi ultimately became a catalyst for his popularity, In Empire Strikes Back he was the only man to have survived answering back to Vader, he'd also got his bounty in the form of a frozen Han Solo. Fett had quickly became a fan favorite, the cool bad dude in the helmet and cape and a man who's nod was the coolest ever caught on film, not even Eastwood or DeNiro had a nod that cool. George Lucas has even gone on record to admit that had he known the popularity of the character after Jedi he would have created a more heroic death, to go out in such a bum way remains a subject that's been hotly debated for decades.

Jabbas Sail Barge from the set of return of the Jedi   (Photo by Mike Davis)

(Photo by Mike Davis)

Personally speaking, Fett's backstory in the new prequels did little to appease me, on the one hand it answered the rumor that he was indeed a clone.Unlike other clones, Boba did not undergo the gene tampering that would lead to docility and growth acceleration. Jango Fett accepted Boba in addition to payment for services he rendered to the Kaminoans and he raised Boba as his own son. However, on the other hand Lucas' grasp on storytelling had plot holes the size of sink holes ( Leia remembering her mother fondly in Jedi, yet Lucas killed her off giving birth to Leia??)
The expanded universe had given Fett a new lease of life but recent statements by Disney in resetting (basically ignoring the expanded universe ever happened) the Star Wars Canon at least allows Disney to explore new ground for the character.

So Star Wars Episode VII is underway, Solo has a broken foot and websites the world over publish the first on set photo's, one of these appeared to be doctored with a photoshopped Boba Fett helmet, a surefire way to get traffic to websites and raise the rumor.

Above: An on set image of Star Wars Episode VII with 'photoshopped' Fett Helmet.

Above: Artist Livio Ramondelli own beautifully illustrated depiction of Fett emerging from the Sarlacc pit.

The latest news is that Fett could get his very own movie and the rumors are growing by the week. Lawrence Kasdan has been connected the Star Wars through the years, having penned Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. He’s a director in his own right, having helmed The Big Chill and Grand Canyon. But we already know that Disney and LucasFilm have hired Josh Trank (Chronicle) and Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) to helm the standalone films that Disney wants to fill the gaps between the main Star Wars movies of episodes VIII and IX.

Right now though we'll just have to keep our fingers crossed that the Sarlacc doesn't eat Bounty Hunters and pray for at least an episode VII cameo of some kind.

Smashing up a Lamborghini or Ferrari is never pretty

Owning a supercar is usually reserved for the rich and famous, that would be, obscenely rich and moderately famous. However, owning a supercar lie a Ferrari or Lamborghini should mean you've had a fair amount of road experience to handle the extra power, the low ride height not to mention the reduced visual scope out of the back of these things. 
Owning a supercar creates a paranoid driver of sorts from the simple fact you don't want any moron with a push bike within 50 feet of the car when you're on the road or you need to park it in front of the cafe and end up sitting by the window watching every molecule of shiny paint like a fat kid eyes up a cake "Stay away from the vehicle it's mine!".

I've always said I'll buy myself a 911 Porsche Carerra 4S in Basalt Black and have it modified further if I won the lottery, truth be told it'd last  half a day before some little bastard with a grudge walks a key down the side of it, #thisiswhywedon'thavenicethings

owning a supercar should by all intents and purposes signify you've made it in the big leagues, that you've worked hard for the pleasure of owning this fantastic beast that makes schoolboys drool and women swoon. Then again you might have won a shitload of money or rented it for the weekend which blasts all that into oblivion, rented , bought, won or gifted wrecking one these is damn expensive but never, ever pretty.

Damaged Ferrari sports cars plus a Lamborghini Diablo litter the Chugoku highway in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi prefecture, western Japan following a 14-vehicle pile up.

Wrecked: F40 Ferrari wrecked in Vancouver, the driver blamed the road surface for the smash but what exactly caused the car to crash is unclear.

a Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 driven by a man convicted of murdering 6 people crashed into a brand new Ferrari F430. The Lamborghini was being driven by a former hitman who was sentenced to 72 years in prison but was granted political amnesty and released.

A man crashed a brand new Lamborghini Gallardo during a test drive of the supercar on the streets of Sydney, Australia.

 A Lamborghini Gallardo sits wrecked after the police officer driving the supercar crashed into two parked cars.  The accident took place following an exhibition in Cremona, Italy, where Italian police had the car on display.

In a well documented internet sensation this £250,000 Lamborghini Aventador was left looking a bit worse for wear after its owner managed to crash it into two parked cars in Kensington, London. The car had been filmed driving aggressively prior to the crash and at one point went airborne when it collided with another vehicle, ouch!


Check out how this Lamborghini went airborne when it collided with another car in a London Street.

This Enzo Ferrari crashed at 162 mph in Feb 2006 on the PCH in California in what became a case far more complex than just a car crash involving weapons, fraud and stolen identity.The car was driven by Swedish businessman Bo Stefan M Eriksson. ( Eriksson tried to launch the failed Gizmondo games console)

The Enzo's impact at 162 mph sheared the car in two dumping the engine onto the road. Eriksson was lucky to make it out alive.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

This man makes money in his sleep, lots of money.

The first rule about YouTube earnings is you don't talk about YouTube earnings.The second rule about YouTube earnings is you don't talk about YouTube earnings - There’s a veil of secrecy (almost) when it comes to the cash earnings that the biggest YouTubers earn. The most popular YouTuber is currently PewDiePie, aka Felix Kjellberg a 24 year old Brighton resident who creates wacky gaming and lifestyle videos on YouTube. He currently has over 27 million subscribers who tune in regularly for his latest online antics.

In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal Felix revealed he is earning a staggering  $4 million a year from YouTube in advertising, an amount he's earning 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,even in his sleep.
Felix comes across as a pretty level headed guy, despite the fact his videos can be quite unusual to say the least. Appeal is everything with a successful YouTube channel, on the one hand you need to tap into the audience in the right way and engage them on a level that will gain the most interaction and followers but on the other hand, also keeps your content fresh, interesting and above all unique.

His earnings and success are the core result of You Tube subscribers, a captive audience that advertisers and brands love to reach. In today's digital climate more and more brands rely on social media to reach their audiences, in fact some brands dedicate more into social reach than they do in more traditional forms of advertising. Take Coca Cola for example, apparently the third largest brand in the world, with over 86 Million facebook followers its able to reach an incredible number of consumers, more economical than Coca Cola spending hundreds of millions of dollars in print or TV ad spend to reach the same number of people. On Twitter Coca-Cola has 2.4 million followers. Over the last month, @cocacola has Tweeted 1,994 times. That’s over 60 Tweets a day, this in turn creates billions of impressions and reach.

For YouTube though its all about content, its important that content is unique and engages the audience enough that it'll either get a kick out of it or share it further socially.
If your channel reaches over 100,000 subscribers, you will receive a framed silver "play button" plaque that has the YouTube logo and their username on it from Google themselves. Channels that get over a million subscribers receive a the exact same plaque (Only exception is that the play button is gold) also from Google.
In order to successfully monetize YouTube videos there are a set of strict guidelines that YouTube partners need to follow.
  • You must own the rights to everything in your video, including music, images, and text.
  • Anything you don’t have the rights to, you must have written permission from the creator to use it and make money from it.
  • Your videos must follow the Community Guidelines set down by YouTube. Sexually explicit content, gratuitous violence, shock videos, hate speech, and more are all prohibited from being posted. The complete list can be found here.
Every 1000 times a pre-roll advertisement is shown, Youtube gets paid some amount of money. The amount can vary but typically Youtube is paid between $20 and $25 for every thousand ad views.Youtube takes 45% of whatever the partner channel earns. The CPM price varies a lot, but typically a Youtube Partner ends up earning roughly $5-7 CPM.This means that for every 1000 times an advertisement is shown on their channel, the Partner could earn $7 ( Youtube would take the remaining ($18). Ad values vary though, premium ads for example can earn significantly higher rates for partners depending on the number of subscribers and views or interactions with the advertising.

The top 5 Youtube Earners are...

#1: Pewdiepie – $7 million (3.7b views)
#2: BlueXephos – $6.7 million (2.4b views)
#3: Smosh – $5.7 million (3.1b views)
#4: DisneyCollectorBR – $5 million (1.6b views)
#5: BluCollection – $4.8 million (1.4b views)

Felix (pewdiepie) rarely ever talks to the media about his personal life, occasionally he'll do a Q&A with fans where he'll answer questions but mostly there is a huge dose of humor added to the answers and for the most part he likes to keep himself to himself.

One of my favorite YouTubers is FPS Russia, Activision were quick to seize on his popularity even featuring him in their advertising and PR campaign for Call of Duty .FPSRussia is a popular YouTube channel consisting of videos involving firearms and explosives. The videos feature Kyle Myers, an American born in Lavonia, Georgia playing the role of Dmitri Potapoff, a heavily accented Russian.

Another great channel to check out is Smosh which consists of Ian Andrew Hecox and Anthony Padilla. Padilla first began posting flash movies on Newgrounds in early 2003, under the name Smosh. With 18 million subscribers and some seriously wacky content no wonder these guys are pulling in the $$.

For a more in depth look at the YouTube high rollers and earners see the Social Blade stats here